Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ulcerative Colitis, A Personal Experience

This is a record of my own, personal, experience with Ulcerative Colitis. In 1997 I was suddenly very sick with Colitis, or Crohns Disease (Doctors weren't sure at the time, and still are not), but I was pleasantly surprised when, after visiting a nutritional therapist, I made a fast and full recovery. This, despite being told there was nothing that could be done apart from downing a fistful of steroids (not at one sitting of course). Talk of possible surgery was not appealing either!!

I walked out of the hospital feeling very unrelaxed about their diagnosis and hopes for the future. I was informed that my condition was among the worst cases they had seen and I should take my pills. Well, I am a bit of a rebel so I decided to check out alternatives. And, soon enough, I was in the care of a natural health practitioner in a small Hampshire town called Brockenhurst. My weight returned to normal, skin regained its colour and I felt energetic again. Needless to say, I did not take the steroids, but this was a personal choice. Between then and now I have experienced one minor bout during a period of heavy stress.

Prior to my diagnosis I was in the "care" of my GP for 3 months and, now realise, was manifesting all the symptoms of Colitis/ Crohns, diarrhoea, blood in stools, major weight loss and vomiting. Two months into my "treatment" I was advised by my doctor to take a well known heartburn remedy, with no mention of my requirement for extra water to rehydrate myself. Three months into my "treatment" I begged to be seen by a specialist, was diagnosed, and the rest is history.

I was clear of symptoms for nearly 7 years until, during a period of stress, minor symptoms did re-appear, but on this occasion, armed with new knowledge returned to good health in record time. This seemed to be a clear indicator that stress and nutrition play an important part in illness and disease.

It is not fully understood what causes Colitis or Crohns. They are both inflammatory diseases, also known as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which, it is thought, might result in our immune systems mistakenly attacking the good bacteria in the bowels as it would normally attack invading organisms. This is known as an autoimmune response.

In the year leading up to my illness I was exposed to the heavy metals, tin and lead while working with solder on circuit boards. During this period I also ate more junk food along with 2 pints of milk per day. This was out of the ordinary for me and it may have been a factor leading to my illness. Of course, it is impossible to know for sure but it's a gut feeling (excuse the pun). The nutritionist advised me to cut out the usual suspects, wheat and dairy, for at least 6 months and to eat a varied, healthy diet. I followed the advice strictly and my weight and skin tone returned to near normal levels within a few weeks. I was symptom free for 7 years. I went through a period of heavy stress and neglected my diet, as a result minor symptoms did reappear for a week or two. But, this time, I was armed with valuable knowledge and knocked the IBD on the head in record time.

In my opinion, based on personal experience, environmental and nutritional factors play a large part in how you feel. Processed foods are laced with all sorts of toxic elements and our household environment, for example, is filled with chemical poisons. It is not surprising people get sick. Try your best to eat a diet consisting of whole foods and avoid toxic chemicals to the best of your ability. This is not to say you cannot eat the occasional junk meal but you will learn to read what your body is telling you. Just don't overdo it. You do not have to live like a monk, but in the early stages of your recovery you do need to follow instructions from your health practitioner to the T. Once you are fit and well again the occasional lapse should not be the end of the world.

Remember, this account is based on my own, personal experience and the road taken was my choice. I took the alternative route and it worked for me. I believe it was the correct decision. If you get nothing else from this article I hope it will encourage you to check out all the options available to you before making big decisions regarding surgery and drugs. Find out what you can about your condition before blindly taking the route of toxic drugs and irreversible surgery.

My personal experience with Ulcerative Colitis was very painful indeed but, if I knew then what I know now, I am certain I would not have suffered for so many months. And, in the words of my specialist, I had a very serious case. I now understand it can be overcome with certain lifestyle changes including nutrition, reducing exposure to environmental toxins and stress control etc. People have controlled, or eliminated UC and Crohns and you can too, but it takes determination and a commitment to be strict with yourself, at least until you have made a full recovery.

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