Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
21 Mar

No Longer Terminally Ill

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!

Hi Mark,

I’ve had serious kidney disease all my life, although I was not diagnosed until I was 26 years old. My kidneys never grew properly due to reflux nephropathy and I developed another disease inside the kidney (FSGS) which was diagnosed as terminal in 2011. Along the way I had developed thyroid issues, Type II diabetes, and asthma. I was on medication to reduce high blood pressure as this is very dangerous for kidney patients, and I had also started statins to reduce cholesterol and as a common preventative drug for renal patients! The side effects of all these medications were getting very hard to live with! I felt like I rattled (filled with tablets) if I moved and this was distressing. I used to be a sailing instructor at an outdoor pursuits centre. I was used to being fit and active, and now a 2km walk was a real struggle.

Living with kidney disease was all I had known, but as I got older the pain and the severe infections had me hospitalised about once a month or more often, and alongside a preventative antibiotic, I was also receiving massive doses of strong ABs intravenously at least ten times a year. I didn’t feel that good, to be honest. And I was large: 125 kgs (275 lbs).

Marg - Before

At 46 I had my left kidney out as it was seen as causing these horrific infections. The operation went badly with the surgeon starting off keyhole, missing my stunted, mal-formed kidney and trying to remove my pancreas, meanwhile cutting an artery to my spleen and having to cut a 40 cm cut to get it all fixed. I had nine blood transfusions in the first three days after surgery. I was in hospital for a month and initially it was unsure if I would survive.

When I returned home it took about a year to recover, although I didn’t have as many infections. That was 2010. By 2011 I received news that my right kidney was dying and to go home and make a bucket list. Fortunately my family and I are fairly content and having been fairly adventurous most of our lives had only a few “big” things left that could be done giving my failing health. One of those was a trip to the US to see family and friends (including Mickey Mouse) and a rail trip from Omaha to San Francisco. We had a great time that summer (for us) of 2011/12.

In mid 2013 I was progressively worse (as expected) and diagnosed with liver disease also. IT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO ME. I REFUSED to live with liver disease. On top of everything else it was too much!

I got busy. First I cut the statins against medical advice and that took care of all the rashes, severe dandruff and eczema I had developed. I started eating a grapefruit a day and that took my cholesterol down enough for my doctor to be very happy.

Next I cut out wheat – that took care of the diarrhoea and to some extent the night sweats. I lost a bit of weight, which was a nice bonus.

Finally I cut out all processed food – I called it going clean… but then I found your website and I got serious. Since August 2, 2013, we have been Primal and by October 10 my kidney doctor was so excited that I was more and more well that he said he couldn’t see dialysis being necessary in the next two years, maybe ever… in fact he thought I might live to be old! He cut my BP medication half, cut out my kidney meds and stated that I no longer was diabetic and cut out that med too. Yehaa!

The liver disease took a little longer to clear – I was expecting six more weeks but by November 14 it too was gone and all the results were in the normal stage. Dead smack bang normal! It was such a delight. Since the beginning I have lost a total of 35 kgs (77 lbs) and am back to walking/running 4+ hours a week, lifting heavy things (my body) 4×10 minutes a week and sprinting once a week for 10 minutes. I exercise when I feel like it. :-) I eat what I want – I just make sure I want good, basic, Primal food.

Over the years I have had a lot of people praying for me and I can say that God has been very good to me. The biggest result has been the attitude of my family. My husband is so excited that I am not only no longer terminally ill but fit and active again, which is nice, but OUR KIDS have really changed. They used to “look after” me and now I am enjoying looking after them. I knew things had really changed when my teenage daughter said, “Now, Mum, not only will you be here to make my wedding dress, but you can meet my children.”

Marg - After


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. Marg, congratulations & welcome back! You are inspiring.

    CappyGrok wrote on March 21st, 2014
  2. Congratulations! What an inspiring story and something that gives hope to even the ‘terminally ill’. :)

    Jesse wrote on March 21st, 2014
  3. I got chills and teary-eyed reading that. What a wonderful success story. I’m very happy for you and wish you many healthy, happy years.

    Mary wrote on March 21st, 2014
  4. So inspired. Maybe my favourite success story on here yet. XO

    Chris wrote on March 21st, 2014
  5. Oh wow what a wonderful story. Your beaming smile in the “after” photo is all you need to show just how fabulous you feel.

    My husband has polycystic kidneys diagnosed at age 16. They finally failed 8 years ago when he was 50. After 6 1/2 years of dialysis he had a successful transplant, for which we are truely grateful, and is now is very good health. But life for him has always been a cycle of drugs and restrictions and hospital stays. I always wonder if we could have bought him a little more time dialysis free if we had known all this good information from the start. But we eat really well now (I can’t convince him to go paleo but he eats good mainly unprocessed food with grains included) and he is doing great. And the medical system here in Australia has looked after him the best they know how and I have no complaints – apart from their quite narrow view of diet for the renal patient.

    So I can absolutely say I am in awe of the couragous decision you made to take full control of your health and reverse those seemingly unbeatable odds. Managing failing kidneys is a balancing act of good food, exercise, attitude and staying infection free – and you have nailed it. You go girl!

    HillyM wrote on March 21st, 2014
    • Thank you – I agree that the health system in Aust and NZ do the best they can. It is a balancing act – I like that description, and I don’t always get it right. But it is certainly more easy without the toxic food overloading the kidney ( I only have one now) and the liver. Thanks for your encouragement and I hope your transplant remains exceptionally viable!

      Marg in New Zealand wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  6. this is hands down one of the most mind blowing recovery stories i’ve ever come across. thanks for sharing.

    pola la lolla wrote on March 21st, 2014
  7. Ok, well I didn’t cry (ahem) but I considered the sweetness of your daughter’s comment for a minute and had to read on pretty quickly. It is hard to believe the level of destruction from our current way of eating. Really it’s amazing. I am not the paranoid type at all and I kind of think we just ended up here in the most haphazard way. It will take witness like yours to untangle some of this mess. Keep talking.

    Vanessa wrote on March 21st, 2014
  8. This has been one of the most inspirational success stories I’ve read on here in a while. Thank you for sharing your story and your story really shows the power of faith and living primal!

    Skopow wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  9. Great story – thanks for sharing. Well done and keep going.

    wpj wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  10. Wow amazing. The power of food. :)

    Keep Groking.

    Onge wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  11. wow! best friday success story i have ever read! would love to hear from you again in say 6 months.

    allison wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  12. Very moving. Thanks for sharing.

    Jo wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  13. Best story yet.

    David wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  14. Tears of joy for you!!!! What a wonderful blessing for your children! :)

    Terri wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  15. Oh my goodness….that bit about being there for your daughter’s wedding and future grandchildren made me weap! I am so glad for you and your family that you found eating paleo literally healed you. This is a wonderful story! Update sometime and let us know how you’re doing! :)

    Shannon wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  16. Wow, way to go Marg ! Your story is very inspirational. (We have all bonded over the sharing of happy tears.) You look great because you must be feeling so much healthier. Isn’t it amazing that when we are able to make healthier dietary and lifestyle choices in order to improve our health issues, we end up losing weight as an extra bonus, which adds to our feeling of well-being and continues our progress towards optimal health. I do hope that Mark will share updates to your story, as I would love to hear how you are doing as time goes by. I am sure that you will continue to experience good health, and I am sure that your upcoming “after” photos will show even more weight loss. By looking at you, I know that you have found what many of us have found as a result of embracing this primal lifestyle, i.e., a world that we never knew existed, where we can restore our health simply by eating the whole, natural foods we were intended to eat. All the best to you !

    Janice wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  17. Your smile says it all! So pleased for you and so happy others might also have the courage to make changes. :)

    Krista wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  18. Wicked Cool, Congrats!!

    Fish wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  19. Marg- This is unbelievable! I am so glad for you! Your story gives me hope! It’s always good to see how eating primal/paleo can help people fight terrible diseases and reduce or eliminate prescription drugs!! God Bless!

    Nenad wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  20. I am utterly speechless at your story. I am just so incredibly pleased for you. It still never ceases to amaze me how much the food we eat affects our health. Truly inspirational x

    Kathy C wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  21. Bit hard to write, with that water in my eyes….. must be the onions. Seriously though, great story and very inspirational. Thank you for sharing it.

    Michal wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  22. Wow. What an amazing transformation, such an inspiration!!

    Shawna wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  23. Amazing!….especially how quickly your body responded to the changes. Miraculous actually!

    JG wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  24. Hi Marg, so thrilled to read your story and see you looking do fit and healthy! Megan would be very proud of you. I am too!

    Love Kirsten

    Kirsten bramley wrote on March 22nd, 2014
  25. Marg, This is my first time to comment to such a great story. you truly are an inspiration to such a long journey. Im wondering on how grapefruit reduced your cholesterol as I have never heard of this or where you still taking the statins at the same time. This with the cholesterol would have trebled the effect of the meds. Thanks-you for submitting this story, hopeefully this will inspire others.

    noni wrote on March 23rd, 2014
    • Grapefruit acts on the cytochrome P450 (liver enzyme). You have to be careful with it though as it interacts with LOTS of drugs (which have to be metabolised by the liver).
      Best wishes Marg!

      Palatina wrote on March 15th, 2015
  26. What an amazing story. Brilliant.

    Indiscreet wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  27. Amazing story. I wish everyone had the chance to read the success stories and learn about this lifestyle so they can decide for themselves… Thank you for sharing!

    ObligateCarnivore wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  28. So happy for you Marg. You are GLOWING now. Take good care of yourself.

    traveldviaaa wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  29. Wow, wonderful story, its not just how you look on the outside but how you FEEL on the inside best wishes to you :)

    Noir Rees wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  30. Awesome, your story is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

    Julie Brookes wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  31. I loved the flip, “kids taking care of me” to “taking care of them.” I really appreciate this story.

    Julian wrote on March 23rd, 2014
  32. Gulp…what a swell story! Thank you so much for sharing it! It is wonderful to be in a position to give.

    speedyk wrote on March 24th, 2014
  33. Marg, may I contact you via email?

    zsolt ecsedi wrote on March 25th, 2014
    • I also have kidney disease (FSGS/nephrotic syndrome, stage 4, rapidly deteriorating) and I would really appreciate if I can ask about your exact diet (daily protein/ketogenic/AIP etc.), and blood/urine result improvements (gfr, creatinine, proteinuria levels etc.). It goes without saying that any information from your side will be regarded as educational material and I definitely won’t change my diet without the prior written consent of my nephrologist and dietitian. My email is: Thank you very much!

      zsolt ecsedi wrote on March 26th, 2014
  34. Amazing story! One of the best primal transitions I have ever seen.

    sqt wrote on March 25th, 2014
  35. Crying tears of joy for you. I’m so glad learning to take care of yourself made such a difference for you and your family. May God bless you with a long life to enjoy!

    Susan Puckett Smith wrote on March 26th, 2014
  36. Wow! That has got to be *the best* success story I have ever read! Truly amazing and inspiring!!! I have been sitting at work thinking about going and sneaking a candy for the ever-present office candy dish, but after reading that I will stick with my lunch of tri tip and veggies and forgo the chocolate! Wonderful job and thanks for the little boost of willpower that I needed!!!

    Red22 wrote on March 26th, 2014
  37. I wonder if you have any “unsuccesssful” stories to share? That is, stories of paleo diets that just didn’t budge an unhealthy condition. Surely, there are some of these? And perhaps we could learn as much from them as the “successful” ones.

    Peter Brandis wrote on March 26th, 2014
  38. Incredible!!! Glad you finally have your health back.

    Marsh wrote on March 26th, 2014
  39. This is the complete embodiment of what Hippocrates was talking about when he said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Amazing story!

    Steve M wrote on March 27th, 2014
  40. A wonderful read. God bless.

    A wrote on April 1st, 2014

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