The first decade of the 2000 millennium was one in which I grew tremendously in health and psychology. There’s still room for growth, but as I look ahead to where I want to be in the next 10 years, it helps to look back at where I came from, where I am now and how I got here.
Let me tell you a story. I’ve never told anyone this story in person or in writing or by any other means of communicating stories to others. It was a hot summer evening in 2004, I was on a date with a very kind, generous and pretty woman and we walked together back towards my apartment. We had just finished eating dinner at a local burger joint where I had a cheeseburger without the lettuce, tomato and onion because I couldn’t stand “healthy” food back then.
While walking back, my date was talking about a conversation she had had with someone. My date said, “And I told her, ‘no way, not going to happen.’”
As I listened intently, suddenly, without warning diarrhea started to run down the back of my thighs. I stopped in my tracks, heart pounding, butt cheeks helplessly clenched and said to her, “Uh, there’s a problem.”
She snapped, “That’s what told her! It’s a big problem and it’s not going to happen.”
I corrected her, “No. Me. I… uh… wait.”
I felt a swooshing sensation in my gut. Noticing I was frozen and not saying much, she asked what was wrong.
The next few moments were probably the most embarrassing and hard to deal with I’ve ever had. How do you tell a date, one that you’ve gone out with several times and really like that you just lost all control of your bowels? I had mentioned to her I had Crohn’s Disease when we first started dating, but never went into detail about it with her. I wasn’t even sure she understood what I go through, with the unpredictable diarrhea and painful gut spasms.
I just didn’t know how to tell her and said, “You know how I have Crohn’s?”
“Well, it happened.”
“Yeah… you know. I need to get to a bathroom.”
“Let’s go back to the restaurant.”
“No, I can’t do that. They’ll see it.”
“Uhm. What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know.”
I had to stand there and let it all sink in for a moment, collect my thoughts. We were within walking distance to my apartment and I finally suggested we just walk back to it.
Less than a minute later we reached the gate of my apartment complex. Horrified, I see the gate is closed and locked. Residents have no control over it. I had no key, no remote, nothing. We tried to squeeze through the gaps in the bars but couldn’t.
It was so frustrating because we were less than a 30 second walk from my apartment if the gate was open. Instead we had to take a 10 minute walk in the complete opposite direction to circle around to the other side of the gate.
A mile is forever when your pants are full of liquid shit.
Forever ended when we got back to my apartment. I immediately took a shower while she waited. As soon as I was done, she decided to leave.
I felt so embarrassed; I didn’t know what to say, but “Thanks for being so cool about all of this. I’m sorry.”
“Oh, no worries, shit happens!” We both laughed. “Call me tomorrow, OK?”
Then she left. I was too embarrassed the day after to call her. A week later she told me she was dating another person and it was going really well. That she saw me more as a friend than someone she was dating. At the time I wondered if my incident had anything to do with it. I don’t know and it’s really something I don’t think much of anymore.
So, that’s what life is like with Crohn’s, unpredictably painful physically and emotionally. It was later that same year, 2004, when I felt like my gut was going to explode and I wrote an email to my mom. I don’t remember what I wrote, but it must have moved her enough that she searched online for help. She found a diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and during Christmas of 2004 I started it when I came home.
24hrs later my bowels were the most solid I had ever had since Crohn’s started in 1997. Overnight I became a fanatic believer in the power of food to heal one’s body from aliments and diseases.
Less than 2 years later in early 2006, still following the diet fanatically I was able to stop taking Pentasa with no ill effects. On September, 11th 2007 I had a colonoscopy which showed I was in remission from Crohn’s, meaning no signs of inflammation and active disease. It was a huge win for me and ever since then I’ve only grown stronger. No sudden diarrhea and significantly less, if not zero pain on a consistent, daily basis.
I love getting up in the morning, not to go to work, or see a special someone, but to get up and cherish how great I feel and savor every bite or sip I take when I eat. I LOVE how I feel. After years of gut pain and nights of crying, just observing that my gut feels cool and calm, like a refreshing mint brings a huge smile to my face.
To get to this point I’ve had to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is a whole foods diet that eliminates fake processed food and only allows natural whole foods that have simple carbohydrates and sugars that occur naturally in the food. I eat very well, organic meats, diary, fruits and vegetables. Here’s a sampling of what has been key to my regaining my health:
- Whole foods (nuts and meat without added preservatives and additives)
- More fruit and vegetables
- Glutamine powder
- Organic whenever possible
- Water (32 oz in the AM and 32oz 2hrs – 4hrs later)
If you think about it, what we put into our bodies is no different than the fuel that we put into a car. The gasoline makes the car go from point A to point B. But imagine if Exxon started making 26 different types of gasoline with added ingredients that made it smell like flowers, colored it different colors or even taste better. But those ingredients were only cosmetic and actually made the gasoline perform poorer and as a result the car started to suffer internal damage.
The engine would begin to rot and rust. No longer were you able to go from point A to point B as reliably as before. You took it to a shop trying to figure out what was wrong and the mechanic said, “It’s a part of the car’s aging process. It’s natural. But I can give it a pill for it. Feeling helpless and trusting the mechanics “expert” knowledge you agree to give the car the pill. Months later, the car starts to leak oil. Another pill. Then the exhaust pipe clogs up and explodes. More pills, more breakdowns. Eventually, you have to scuttle the car and get a new one.
Unfortunately, you can’t do that with your body. What you’ve got is all you’re gonna get. If you have some health issue and you take a pharmaceutical drug for, I strongly recommend you try to eat healthier. You just might find your problem go away months or years later. If not, you at least help prevent future problems from arising and having to take more drugs. If you want to fuel your body with the right ingredients, the same ingredients that we evolved to thrive on millions of years ago, here’s a few tips to get back to the basics:
- Chew your food until it becomes liquid. The enzymes in your saliva are very important for beginning the process of breaking down your food and allowing you to absorb the food’s nutrients. In our modern society we’ve been conditioned to go fast and faster. Sitting down to eat a slow high quality meal has taken a back seat to eating on the go. Say no to this societal shift and reclaim your quiet personal time to take care of what’s important, feeding yourself.
- Avoid packaged food with long lists of ingredients. If the package has a picture of the food on it, don’t buy it. Good healthy, wholesome food doesn’t have advertisements for itself on the packaging. It’s kinda like the guy or gal who drives an extremely flashy car. You know they are compensating for something.
- Stop eating out. This even includes high end restaurants and especially goes for fast food joints like McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, In and Out, etc. They simply cannot sustainably keep food fresh and full of nutrients that is the fuel for your body. Yes, this means more cooking. Trust me that it’s not a big deal. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes to cook a decent, nutritious meal. If you had a choice between fueling your car for 20 minutes and having it last for 20 years or fueling it for 5 minutes and having it last 5 years, which would you choose?
- Buy local, buy organic. It’s your best bet to ensure high quality and nutrient-rich food to keep you healthy. Food that isn’t locally grown usually travels thousands of miles across country. In that time it loses a lot of its nutrient value, but its price doesn’t go down with it.
- Use more olive oil in cooking. Try it with scrambled eggs and vegetables instead of butter. It’s a very healthy cold-pressed oil that is great for your heart.
In the first half of the first decade in 2000 I was suffering physically and emotionally from Crohn’s Disease. In the second half, I began a life changing journey towards health and wellness by changing my lifestyle to cook my own food. I’ve come a long way and while I am pretty much free from physical symptoms of Crohn’s, I still suffer from its emotional scars. It’s hard to explain, but I’m still not 100% confident when going out in public, even though I have nothing to be afraid of now. In 2010 I hope I can continue to improve in that area. To live with a little less fear and to be just as hungry for life as I am for good wholesome food.
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s to 2010 and a new decade ahead full of limitless love, joy and growth.
Here’s to food!
Here’s to health!
Here’s to you!
© 2010, Reid Bryant Kimball. All rights reserved.