Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
Whenever someone asks me about my history with Ulcerative Colitis I respond with something along the lines of, “It feels like a bad dream that will forever be imprinted in the back of my mind.” It was 2006, my senior year of high school, everything was going fairly well. I was a healthy (or so I thought) 6’3″, 180 lb. 18 year old about to graduate high school and head into the next stage of my life: college. However, life had different plans in store for me. Around my second semester I began to feel consistently nauseous. It felt like anything I ate (S.A.D. mind you) would just pass right through me as though I hadn’t absorbed any energy/nutrients. I figured it was a relatively normal side effect from consistent partying that year, though it persisted. Bouts of nausea would come and go, as would horrible abdominal pains that would make even the toughest man curl into the fetal position. I decided it was time to get checked out. I had my first colonoscopy done within weeks of my first symptoms.
“You have Ulcerative Colitis,” the doctor said. I remember my mother and I looking at each other absolutely confused. Neither of us had heard of this illness before. He proceeded to inform us that Ulcerative Colitis is a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease, which is an inflammation of the colon. I remember pondering for a moment about what all of this could mean. I finally looked up and asked, “So what do I do?” He responded with, “Well, we can treat it with different medications depending on which one you is most beneficial to you.” “Treat?,” I thought. “You mean I have to live like this for the rest of my life?” I remember the doctor’s face vividly…it was an expression of reservation, confusion, and sadness, as if he were trying to formulate the wisest, yet least alarming way possible. “Not necessarily. A lot of people go into full remission with the right medication.” I carefully considered his response and asked, “How is this disease caused?” He looked back at me regretfully, “Unfortunately we don’t really know.” I didn’t know what to say to that. Still completely shocked and puzzled at what I was told, I continued through the next few months now under the supervision of a gastroenterologist and given several medications to take daily.
Sadly, things only got worse from there, I missed my college SAT tests on three different occasions due to having virtually no energy, constant joint and abdominal pains, as well as never-ceasing nausea. My friends and family would wonder where I was, why I wasn’t answering their phone calls, and why I would never leave the house anymore. My attempts to eat were pitiful, and as a result I was losing weight fast. Fast-forward two years later…After several failed medications and treatments from pharmaceutical to alternative, I ended up at a emaciated weight of 127 lbs only sleeping perhaps 2-4 hours per night.
I’ll never forget the feeling I had during this period of my life. It was as if I was on the brink of life and death, a sort of limbo. Nothing seemed real anymore. After stubbornly refusing to go to a doctor (due to my strong distaste for the medical field at that point), my father more or less forced me to our family clinic. My family doctor looked me over with noticeable concern, checking my blood pressure/pulse three separate times. He looked up at me and said, “You need to go to the hospital immediately.” My dad quickly rushed me to the E.R. and within an hour or so I was wheeled into a room and pumped full of pain-killers and fluids. I remember my father telling me what the doctor had told him, which is something I’ll never forget, “If you would have brought him in any later, he could have died.”
The good news is I stabilized, albeit only temporarily. Through the following months my weight shifted like crazy, the medications stopped working, and I was back at square one. All of the false hope I was getting from each new medication I would try and ultimately fail was taking its toll on me not only physically but mentally as well. My only other option to consider was surgery, in which I finally agreed to. My doctor recommended a three-step surgery. My first surgery was a total colectomy (removal of the entire large intestine) resulting in my need to wear a colostomy bag for nine months while my surgery site healed. My second step was to construct a “J-pouch,” which is basically the conversion of part of your small intestine into a a “J” shape to form a make-shift colon. Step two lasted a few months to let the J-pouch heal up while I still used the colostomy bag. My third and final step was to reconnect the plumbing, so to speak. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I don’t regret it for a minute.
My symptoms decreased to a manageable level, allowing me to eventually become independent, living and working on my own. Though the actual Colitis was at a stand-still, I was constantly bloated and sick, and my J-pouch would develop chronic pouchitis (infection of the pouch) which would be temporarily resolved by very powerful antibiotics such as Flagyl and Ciprofloxacin, but would eventually reappear. All of these chronic infections I was getting didn’t make sense. I was cured right? This shouldn’t be happening.
Well that’s when I really began analyzing my diet, which eventually brought me to your book, The Primal Blueprint.
When I finally ditched the SAD diet and started living primally, (eliminating processed foods and most importantly, GRAINS and adding more healthy fats, plants, and animals) I noticed the pain had been reduced to a minimum, my weight stabilized, and I had no more bloating which would usually appear after a good carb/grain-dense meal. This seemed to be working for me, so I stuck with it. After several months of living primally, at the age of 24, a stable weight of 182 lbs, and a height 6’4″ I can safely say that I am in the best shape of my life and feel better than I ever did pre-Colitis. My energy levels are stable. In fact, I hardly ever get mid-day crashes unless I eat something I shouldn’t (which only reminds me that I’m moving on a path towards the dark-side and I better recalibrate.) I lost over 30 lbs. of fat and gained a significant amount of lean muscle mass, but most importantly, is that I feel healthy. While I may never be “normal” again, I know that I am finally on the right path to optimum health and a life full of happiness. Thank you Mark for the selfless wisdom that you have imparted to myself and many others that have conquered their trials and tribulations via The Primal Blueprint.
From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.