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22 Feb

I Am Finally on the Right Path to Optimum Health and Happiness

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!

real life stories stories 1 2Mark,

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.

CIMG0736 3

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.

PostSurgery Stillbloatedandsick 3

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.

PrimalSuccess 2

Kyel

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. @Melissa

    Thanks for the comments! Yeah, it’s not the most attractive thing when you are sprinting to the nearest toilet for fear of soiling yourself, I remember those days well. Looking on the brightside…at least I got my sprints in, yeah? Haha.

    I really enjoyed reading Elaine’s book the specific carb diet. I refer to it from time to time when I need to. I am so glad to hear you are feeling better. It really is a shame that more focus is put on masking symptoms as opposed to treating them. Take care!

    All the best,
    Kyel

    Kyel wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  2. My 16 year old niece has UC.
    She’s been to every “medical expert” in the field.
    A few years later she’s at square one and it’s pretty bad.
    But when you say…read Mark’s book, or try being grain-free…they all scoff at you.
    They won’t even try.
    Why is the medical community so thick headed ?
    They can’t all be corrupted.
    Peace.

    Larry wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • In fairness to the “average” medical practioner, I think it would be very tough after dedicating a decade of your life to training and then spending 2 or 3 more decades in practice to discover that you’ve prescribed years of useless, ineffective medication or surgery. Actually, the thought is horrifying if you care at all about your patients.

      It does not excuse it, but I don’t think the impulse to push away information about diet comes some inant evil or stupidity.

      Amy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • Amy, I know one doctor and one nurse who have adopted and are recommending PD to their patients at Kaiser, and they’re subject to all sorts of criticism and derision from their compatriots. It would be helpful if the average medical practitioner just had a more open, inquiring mind, but most seem to absorb what they’ve been taught with no room for improvement. I see old doctors still stuck on what they were taught, conflicting with younger doctors who were taught more recently, and neither will give an inch. Meanwhile we patients are left to sort it out ourselves.

        Janice James wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  3. Man, I got all teared up reading this. It’s always great to hear how the Primal life has helped us lose weight and feel better but when I read a story about someone who suffered through a terrible disease and now has their life back, in part or wholly, due to living Primally it really makes my day. I wish you all the best and continued good health. It is incredible the difference in the pics and I am so happy for you.

    Tina wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  4. WOW! What a great story unfortunately I am at work and can’t see the pictures that will be on my to do list when I get home!!! I also don’t have one of those high tech phones either to look at them! I am in the medical field and it is such a shame we don’t see the big picture. I know doctors receive very little education on nutrition in medical school but it wouldn’t matter anyway because they are taught the SAD crap. I also find it amazing how we can figure out that cars run on gasoline and if you put something else in them they don’t work why haven’t we figured this out about our own bodies. i don’t mean to doctor bash either but some of them truly walk around with blinders on. it is ashame you did not receive answers to your questions.

    Lucy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  5. Semi-related, we all need to put pressure on Congress to pass the Free Speech About Science Act. The FDA and FTC are trying to put the clamp on food labeling and health supplements and not in a good way.

    Example: The FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Food for making truthful, scientifically backed health claims about the health benefits of omega-3 fats in walnuts. Because the research cited health claims that omega-3 fats in walnuts may prevent or protect against disease, the FDA said walnuts would be considered “new drugs” and as such would require a new drug application to become FDA-approved.

    Read more about it on the Alliance for Natural Health website under the Campaigns tab (where you can also sign the petition). Also, on Dr. Mercola’s website.

    Tina wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  6. You look great, and I am so glad to hear of your success. Thanks for sharing this, I am sure that hearing your story will change lives.

    Siobhan wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  7. Wow, you look awesome. Great job!

    Rachel wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  8. Kyel– Rock on– Grok on– Never look back!

    Pastor Dave wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  9. I had the exact same initial conversation with my doctor when I was diagnosed with UC. Today, I am convinced that changing to a primal diet has cured it. All I can get out of my doctor is… “well, if it works for you then keep doing it.” I want to scream at them that this will work for more people than just me and they should tell all their patients! All my GI doctors have told me that since there are no studies on diet and UC then they really don’t know. It is such BS. I am 4 years+ in full remission. They shrug me off each time I go in for my yearly checkup when I tell them that my UC is gone forever. I still take a low dose daily medication but even with that, I feel better now eating primal than before my UC symptoms ever started. Kyel, I’m glad you got your life back just like I did switching to primal 4 years ago. Great story and good luck with continued success!

    Adam wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • Many (most?) Docs are not well versed in either troubleshooting or the tricky task of applying the scientific method to medicine. The ones who do it best tend to have started life wanting to be engineers. (Take a look sometime at the bios of low carb/Paleo Docs. Their similarity is amazing.)

      Anyway, sadly, the “almost engineers” seem to be the only ones either skilled or confident enough to apply science in clinical settings. The rest give the shoulder shrugs you experience.

      I also suspect the “almost engineers” are much more results oriented type personalities, willing to move on much more quickly when something isn’t working. The current medical system does not reward results in chronic disease, unfortunately, unless a provider takes that on themselves.

      Amy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • I feel similarly, but I would characterize the typical doctor as a technician. He/she graduates from medical school with a standardized “bag of tricks,” learned approaches that are applied depending on what issue presents itself. If a nail presents itself, I’ll apply a hammer. If the hammer doesn’t work, I’ll try a mallet. Very, very few doctors in my experience step back and ask themselves WHY something might be happening, because they then might have to rethink their whole approach, and perhaps find out that their bag of tricks is not up to meeting the challenge at hand. And, to be fair, the speed at which the modern medical system pushes patients through appointments doesn’t leave a lot of time for pondering or creative experimentation. I think that’s also behind the over-reliance on drugs or surgery. They are both fast.

        Leslie wrote on February 26th, 2013
  10. Kyel – Just wow! Your story is a testament to the human body to heal and the power of eating correctly. I’m just floored at the improvement, despite surgeons taking out a 1/3(ish) of your digestive system. You look great.

    Amy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  11. Congratulations on feeling so much better! I’ve been reading about fecal transplants for UC. It seems pretty amazing the results of cure rate. I wonder how people would do with a fecal transplant & then primal living. Transform lives.

    Colleen wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  12. Amazing Story…Congrats on getting your life back!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Denise wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  13. You look like a completely different person. Amazin job. Reading these stories on Friday help me to keep going, and not give up. You inspired me, Kyel!

    Primal Rach wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  14. Wow

    Sarah wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  15. It’s stories like this that make me LOVE Fridays! I am so happy for your triumph over illness – you are a true inspiration to us all!

    elfman5150 wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  16. PHENOMENAL story. How you managed to grow one more inch after all that just astounds me. WOWIE!

    Joy Beer wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  17. Great Story!

    Doghug wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  18. Thank you for sharing your story!

    mars wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  19. I have a friend who’s 17 year old daughter was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and I’m going to send this on to her. It will be good for her to see that a young person can successfully navigate a bowel disorder using diet.
    Thank you for sharing

    Melissa wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  20. Kyel – Congratulations!I know all too well what you were going through and how bad it can get. I’ve had Crohn’s Disease (very similar to Colitis)for 7 years and it ruined my last year of college. I actually found the Primal Blueprint through other friends with the disease and it has made the last 2 years with Crohn’s, feel bearable and allowed me off of half the medications I was taking before for it.

    I highly recommend going to http://www.crohnology.com. It’s like Facebook for Crohn’s and Colitis and helps users share information about treatments, diets, etc. Please join so you can share your success story!

    Rudy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • Thanks for that link! My 31-year-old son was diagnosed with Crohn’s a couple of years ago and has been only semi-successful in dealing with it re changes in his diet (not paleo/primal, though) and medication. I was with him (he lives far away now) when he had an attack once and it was not something I’d want anyone to go through!

      Louise wrote on February 27th, 2013
  21. It’s such an amazing thing to go from feeling malnourished and in almost constant abdominal pain to feeling healthy, stable, and pain-free. Between Celiac and IBS as a teenager, I can’t sayI suffered to the same degree (I never had to be hospitalized) but I do to a point. The mental effect of dealing with this is devastating. Accepting chronic pain and all the other symptoms that come with diseases like this wears you down as a person, not to mention feeling helplessly undernourished in spite of eating “healthy”. It’s nice seeing the variety of stories on here, because the Primal Blueprint isn’t just about weight loss, but about regaining your life from all kinds of disorders and finally feeling like you’re doing something right, because the results are tangible and real. Congratulations :]

    Jessica wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  22. You made me cry. I’m happy you are well.

    Pam wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  23. Congratulations Hon!!! I know exactly every word that you so kindly shared here..My fiance goes thru the same EVERY day of his life. I am as primal as i can can be meaning that i am TOTALLY primal as well as my teenage beautiful daughter…But he is not getting any better with darns sodas or BAD healthy habits like SLEEPING. He eats and love my primal cooking since i always have been doing it all my life without knowing that it was the right healthy way of eating all along. I thank you so much for sharing your amazing,inspirational story…No he can see something that he can 100% relate and maybe change does horrible habits that are taking a toll on this gorgeous,perfect family man. Thank you and Keep on Grokking!

    alexandra wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  24. Thank you so much for sharing this inspirational story. My husband was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis about a year and a half ago and our world has been turned upside down. It is wonderful to read this story, it gives me hope that we too can get on the other side of this!

    Debbie wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  25. Wow, truly amazing. I know it isn’t the same as UC, but I have suffered from IBS since the age of 12. I started taking medication when I was 13; medication which I still take today. I’ve read so many testimonials about how eating Primally can cure IBS symptoms but I still have fear about going off. When I have in the past it was hard for my stomach to handle food, so it never lasted. My goal is to be med-free at some point.

    Rachel M wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • If you take the plunge, just know that you can find support here :] Intermittent fasting and coconut oil have been immensely helpful for me (in addition to the Primal diet and lifestyle). You may be surprised at how much your body can heal living this way. Also manage stress (a huge trigger for IBS) and if you have a flare-up, keep your meals light and mellow. Being med free AND pain free is such a wonderful thing.

      Jessica wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • Just go gently with the coconut as it can be an irritant to some people with IBS.

        HillyM wrote on February 22nd, 2013
        • I was diagnosed with UC a few years ago as well. Speaking for myself, I can say that coconut oil is definitely not an irritant. In fact, it has helped me tremendously and is added to my daily cup of coffee. Coconut milk, butter and other coconut products, on the other hand, are very fibrous and irritating and should be avoided.

          Sabrina wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  26. This story is VERY similar to that of Jordan Rubin, founder of the company “Garden of Life” who in many ways has a similar approach to Mark IMO including a strong belief in the ingestion of soil organisms. Anyway, Kyel is a very courageous and inspirational young man, about the same age as my son. I bet he can overcome just about any obstacle from this point on and I wish him all the happiness in the world, he deserves it.

    George wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  27. Congratulations!! You look great!

    Heather Longoria wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  28. Amazing story. Thanks for writing it.

    Emily wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  29. Kyel: Many congratulations on finding the Paleo life and the WONDERFUL results you’ve experienced. I too have had surgery, but for repeated bouts of diverticulitis. I had 14 inches of my colon removed which weighed almost 3 pounds. I had been living gluten free for about 8 years before the surgery, but had little to no relief. I continued to eat gluten free after my surgery, but continued to have ongoing pain and overall discomfort. Almost immediately after going Paleo I have lost 11 pounds (in 5 weeks), have lost 3 inches around my waist (much of it inflammation) and am feeling better than I have since I was a child. No more urgency in the bowels and much more energy. Thanks for sharing YOUR story Kyel. Keep spreading the word and changing lives with your good news.

    Thom wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  30. Your emaciated picture reminds me exactly of Jordin Rubin and his story. You may enjoy the book The Maker’s Diet!!

    Meagan wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  31. Awesome story Kyel, I am always so impressed with people who take control of their own health. You look close to death in the first pic, and fantastic in the last (you must have a huge wardrobe of clothes!) And congratulations on having a very balanced view of your past treatment. I think doctors are (mainly) brilliant, but it frustrates me that they don’t present other dietary options to patients they see.
    Rachel : I have had IBS for 30 years too. Being Primal for 12 months gave me energy, helped me lose weight but made IBS worse. Someone suggested I needed to combine Primal with excluding FODMAPS and within days I felt the best I EVER remember feeling – EVER!. IBS all but gone for the first time in years. This discovery is only recent so don’t know which FODMAPS are my problem foods, but I will stick to Primal now because I know it is right for me, and just test out the FODMAP stuff. Have a look at http://shepherdworks.com.au/ for more info.

    HillyM wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  32. Phenomenal! As a physician, I’m inspired by your success and am saving this article in my e-mail so I can distribute it to my IBD patients for consideration.

    Kate wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • Kate, thank you for being an open-minded physician.

      Janice James wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  33. I wish you could have considered a fecal transplant before having your colon removed. But it is great to see that you are doing so well. You are an inspiration!

    Elizabeth wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  34. I love your inspirational story. Can you tell us how you arrived at Mark’s door?

    Doug wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  35. My 17 year old daughter was just diagnosed with Crohn’s last month. As concerned and helpful as the doctor’s were, none of them think diet can do all that much to heal her, only to lessen the flare-ups. I am going to have her read Kyel’s story; I found it si inspiring!

    kirsten wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  36. Congratulations! You are such an inspiration! I am so excited for you and wish you all the best!

    And you look fantastic now, by the way.

    Elizabeth wrote on February 22nd, 2013
  37. Pity he didn’t change his diet before having his colon removed!

    Why is it that until medical orthodoxy changes, 99% of doctors will ignore reports like this, and what does it take to change medical orthodoxy?

    Of course this is “anecdotal evidence which will never be turned into “scientific proof” while virtually all medical research is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies who are only interested in inventing new drugs.

    Frank Mason wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  38. Wow

    Jan Rendek wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  39. Great job Kyel! It takes a lot of determination not to give up when life drags on hopelessly over a long period of time. To keep your mind open to new solutions is difficult when the temptation for despair is so strong. You have demonstrated great strength and will. I don’t know you, but I am proud of you.

    chris wrote on February 23rd, 2013
  40. Thank you for sharing your story.Inspirational and just at the right time for me to show a love one who is going thry something very similar. Grok on and best wishes :-)

    alexandra wrote on February 23rd, 2013

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