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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...

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October 28, 2011

The Doctor Told Me He Could Not Believe It

By Guest
65 Comments

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!

Mark,

I have considered telling you my story for some time now, but for some reason I have never done so. I recently read the success story of the mixed martial artist named Abe Wagner and it made me decide to share my story as well. I am also a professional mixed martial artist, and while going primal has helped me in this venture, I also believe that it played a very large part in even allowing me to begin along it. So here is my long overdue success story.

It started about 3 years ago. I was playing rugby in college and was an alternate on the collegiate All-American national team. It was about this same time that I also started to become interested in mixed martial arts and training some in my free time as well as doing a few amateur fights. People would ask me for advice on nutrition and working out and I would regurgitate false truths. I’m sure that I would have continued down this road, but life sometimes seems to have us on a collision course. Quite literally in my case, as in I fell off of a ledge and landed head first on the concrete 12ft below. Being the sprightly young man that I was, I assumed that no real damage was inflicted in my fall. I “sucked it up” as my coaches told me to and continued along with rugby games and practices.

After a few months however, I could no longer pretend like everything was okay. I went to the doctor and told them that I thought I might had strained my neck. They decided to take a few X-rays and the results were quite a surprise to everyone involved. I had broken my neck in-between the C5 and C6 vertebrae. The doctors told me that I needed to have surgery. They took me to the hospital to go under the knife that day. But when I arrived at the hospital they discovered another problem; since I had gone several months with my neck broken, the damaged ligaments and muscles had healed around my broken neck. They could not perform the surgery until they got my neck back into alignment. They screwed a halo attached to a weight and pulley system into my head and laid me horizontal on a hospital bed. Every once in a while they would increase the weight pulling on my head to straighten my neck. After three days they said that it was straight enough to do surgery. I went in that night for surgery and they shaved off a piece of my hip and used it for a bone fusion in my neck as well as screwing in a small plastic support. When I woke up they called in the specialist who performed the surgery to talk to me. Being naive to my own reality and thinking I was invincible, my only concern was when I would be able to start playing sports again. He told me that I was lucky to be walking and that I would be in a neck brace for about a year and we would just have to see how my body took to the bone fusion. He then said that he doubted that I would ever be able to do high intensity sports again. I was not willing to accept that and quizzed him over anything I could do to help the healing process, and he told me just to be as healthy as I possibly could.

As far as fitness and nutrition went, I was under the impression that I was doing everything right. I was eating high amounts of protein, low fat, and lots of “good” carbs like rice, and pasta. I was taking all the stimulant-rich pre- and post-workout supplements that the bodybuilding forums said that I should be taking, and I was lifting 6 times a week in addition to my rugby practices. At the time I was 5’11 about 215 pounds and low body fat. As far as conventional wisdom went, I was extremely healthy. But since my diagnosis was grim I decided to look into everything that could possibly benefit me. I began researching what might help my recovery and stumbled onto marksdailyapple.com. At first I was just intrigued by how different of an approach it was from everything else I had come across. After reading for a long while, a lot of it seemed to make sense to me and I decided that I would give it a shot.

Over the next few months, I stopped taking supplements, stopped eating grains and legumes, and ate a high omega 3 diet with clean protein. I impatiently went to each checkup. The results slowly went from ambiguous to more and more positive, and then on the 7th month of being in my neck brace, the doctor told me he could not believe it but the bone fusion had completely filled in. The neck brace was removed (5 months ahead of schedule) and I was allowed to ease back into working out as long as I came in to make sure everything was coming along okay every couple weeks. Within a couple months I was back playing rugby and training mixed martial arts.

I had never done physical activity while primal before, but because of my results while injured, I decided to stay with it. I had lost some size which disappointed me at first, but became inconsequential once I realized how great I felt and how much better I was performing than I had before my injury. I stopped doing workouts that would restrict my movement and focused on playing. I finished my college rugby career and less than a year after getting out of my neck brace I made my professional debut in mixed martial arts. Since that time I have won 8 straight fights and I am one of the top unsigned prospects at my weight class. I am still in school at the moment and I use the winnings as my income while I continue my education.

The specialist who performed the surgery and monitored me post operation later asked my permission to submit my case to a conference. He said that it was one of the only instances he had ever heard of a recovery like I made on a case that severe. I have no doubt that the primal lifestyle played a huge role in that. Since switching to it I have recommended it to everyone close to me. I made a website for fighting a couple years ago so friends and family could keep up with my fighting. Your website has been one of my recommended links on my webpage since I first made it. I thank you for the knowledge you made available to me and it would be my pleasure to help Mr. Wagner spread the primal way of life throughout the MMA community.

-Trey Houston

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65 Comments on "The Doctor Told Me He Could Not Believe It"

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IniQuity
IniQuity
4 years 11 months ago

Great story! shared to Facebook…

The part about how they straightened the neck was nuts though, agh, sounds like old school torture.

peggy
peggy
4 years 11 months ago

What a fighter Trey! In the sense that you fought to heal & get healthier.

Plus I always love seeing shots of my “home base”

congratulations on another astounding success!

Abel James
4 years 11 months ago

Congrats, Trey. It’s incredible what the body can do when we feed it correctly and allow it to heal itself.

Primal breeds supermen.

Jesrad
Jesrad
4 years 11 months ago

Well, on that topic, I’d like to contribute that since going primal I’ve quickly beaten an otehrwise lifelong infertility 🙂

Happycyclegirl
Happycyclegirl
4 years 11 months ago

Thank you so much for writing in. I am awestruck by your quick recovery. Just goes to show what our bodies can really do when properly fueled.

Good luck on your school and MMA career.

Becca
4 years 11 months ago

Geez Trey… to think you walked around with a broken neck for several months without realizing it… you sound like a badass. Happy to hear going primal helped you to stay a badass 🙂

Crunchy Pickle
4 years 11 months ago

I was thinking the same thing – that is pretty crazy!

Sportkini Queen
4 years 11 months ago

Thanks for having the GUTS to share your story. You also showed amazing willingness to take on views and ideas that were so OPPOSITE from what the bodybuilding forums and other “fitness/exercise” experts have recommended. Because you gave it a wholehearted effort, you got to see the benefits! WOW! good on ya’ mate!

Chase
Chase
4 years 11 months ago

Wow, for a second there I felt like I was reading a story about Wolverine from X-men. I love stories like yours just as much as the weight-loss stories because they show that Primal living isn’t just a weight-loss tool, it’s a way to really tap into the amazing potential that the the human body has from a performance and recovery aspect. Thanks for sharing, you’re a true badass and an inspiration!

LP
LP
4 years 11 months ago

LOL …I second the Wolverine theory 🙂

Timothy
4 years 11 months ago

Congrats, Trey. Truly inspiring.

After such a dire prognosis, some people would give in to despair. But you didn’t. You took responsibility and studied with an open mind. And not only did you cure yourself, you opened the minds of those who were ready to write you off.

Great respect to you. The lesson of your story for me is what the wise man said: die biting the throat.

cTo
cTo
4 years 11 months ago

Yay for more pictures of shirtless semi-pro athletes! XD

AMAZING story! We hear a lot about primal helping the internal-medicine sort of conditions in our body, and its heartening to hear examples of how even gross trauma can benefit as well. 🙂

Svend
Svend
4 years 11 months ago

A fighter in every sense of the word.

Dan
Dan
4 years 11 months ago

Damn, I’m with Becca on this one, I can’t imagine how you managed to walk around with a broken neck for several months.

That’s one hell of a story.

sara
sara
4 years 11 months ago

Wow, great story! Congrats!

Nick
Nick
4 years 11 months ago
This story reminds me of why I stopped playing Football after the 8th grade. My insecure, flabby coach would tell us the secret to success was not “to be pussies” and then he would make a hand gesture of a vagina. I think even the most macho dudes on the team were confused given that our star kicker was a girl. What an idiot. I feel sorry that your coaches contributed to an atmosphere that made you afraid to take care of your body. I am so glad you rose above that and took your health into your own hands.… Read more »
Uncephalized
Uncephalized
4 years 11 months ago

Wow. I bet all the muscle you had packed in around your neck saved your life (or at least saved you from quadriplegia) in that fall–probably held everything together!

That’s a pretty amazing story. But next time, go get an X-ray if you get in a fight with a concrete floor, OK? MMA’s not going to be much help there…

gilliebean
4 years 11 months ago

OMG! You broke your neck and had no idea!? That’s amazing!! Equally as amazing as the healing you’ve undergone. Great story!

Bill RN
Bill RN
4 years 11 months ago
Excellent proof that a proper diet can help to heal trauma quickly. If only trauma hospitals (and all hospitals in general) would adopt more of a primal diet for their patients. I’m frankly weary of taking care of the tired, broken down bodies of our middle-aged and elderly who have no desire and no idea how to take care of their bodies. I do mention the primal/paleo diet to many patients, because diet is the last thing they think of to treat their conditions. Whether or not they respond or take my advice to heart is up to them. Excellent… Read more »
Rahsaan
Rahsaan
4 years 11 months ago

Trey,
Awesomely inspiring, true story. You live to fight another day! Rock on, man!

Harry Mossman
4 years 11 months ago

Mark

I love that your posts range from finding spirituality in nature to a mixed martial arts guy punching someone. And when someone is interested in Primal, I never send them directly to your site.

Most of my friends would take one look at today’s success story and run in the other direction screaming “I don’t want to be a caveman!”

The few people I know who would love today’s story would have read yesterday’s and say “Uh, what is this new age crap.”

I’m not saying to change, by any means. I’m just saying . . . .

Rich
Rich
4 years 11 months ago

What do you eat pryer to a big fight. I am a hockey player and I am used to eating pasta and drinking red bull before games to ensure that I have extra energy. What and when should i eat now to prepare for a game. I’m 3 days primal and look and feel better already.

Robin
Robin
4 years 10 months ago

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread39439.html#post592147
This was posted by Abe, the other MMA success story. Should help you out with the performance nutrition.

Dana
Dana
4 years 11 months ago

Thanks for sharing your story! I like that your story isn’t just about getting ripped – you were already that – it’s about feeling your best and knowing intuitively that you are now taking care of your body as nature intended!! And I love hearing about how top-level athletes manage the Primal lifestyle and their sports. Congrats on your recovery!!

hill
hill
4 years 11 months ago

Too bad Rugby lost you – we need more Paleo Rugby players (which position are you playing?)!

Dave, RN
Dave, RN
4 years 11 months ago

Bill, RN I really feel your pain…

Jaime
Jaime
4 years 11 months ago
Trey, Your story has inspired me to finally make an appointment with a spinal specialist. 6 years ago I jumped off a cliff into the ocean while on vacation and seriously injured my neck. I’ve had so much pain since then and all I ever got were xrays. I think there is more to it than that, as it’s been 6 years and I still have severe pain. For instance, about a week ago I woke up and for whatever reason I now haven’t been able to turn my head properly and am in constant pain. I’m pretty much primal,… Read more »
bbuddha
bbuddha
4 years 11 months ago

See a chiropractor, really. That is the best thing you can do. And they do take x-rays so they know what they are dealing with before any manipulation.

Hopeless Dreamer
Hopeless Dreamer
4 years 11 months ago

It is scary that a coach or someone “responsible” wouldnt insist on a proper exam for an injured player! How outrageous…Thank Heaven you survived and took matters into your OWN hands. Keep spreading the word…maybe someday the world will “get it!” Good luck to you.

oxide
oxide
4 years 11 months ago

Trey, when you say “submit your case to a conference,” is he going to mention the primal diet, or just talk about the fast recovery?

Which mountains are you standing on? Are those Vibrams that I see?

I for one would love to hear if anyone was primal BEFORE being injured and if that would have mitigated the original injury. Probably very hard to run controls for…

Tracy
Tracy
4 years 11 months ago

You should check out Dave’s story. He had major abdominal surgery and came through it with flying colors, all while being Primal before and after. He’s an ‘older’ guy too…

Teaque
Teaque
4 years 11 months ago
Four months ago I was involved in a serious car accident. I had gone primal about six months prior. The er gave me a ct scan the night of the accident and all they found was a broken rib. I have since learned that not only did I break a rib, I broke my sternum, l5 vertebrae, right hand, and also have a hiatal hernia because of blunt trauma to my chest. I really should have died in that accident. About a month after the accident, I was back to work. My job requires a lot of lifting. Needless to… Read more »
Jessica
4 years 11 months ago

WOW. What a story. So happy for you that you healed from such a dangerous injury, and so quickly. Congratulations on beating the odds and making such a fantastic comeback! Best wishes 🙂

Carl Date
4 years 11 months ago

You look like a real beast. Massive back in that last shot. Thanks for sharing your story.

Ryan
Ryan
4 years 11 months ago

Well done! Thanks for sharing!!

Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake
4 years 11 months ago

Any concerns with the neck fusion WRT MMA? No limits prescribed by your physician?

Trey Houston
Trey Houston
4 years 11 months ago
I just got home from school and checked MDA. I apologize for not posting sooner. I will attempt to respond to all the questions and comments now in one (annoyingly long) post. The first question posted related to how I was able to walk around for several months with my neck broken. To answer honestly, I believe it might have been more denial than anything else. The first few days after my accident were excruciating. I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning when I woke up and had to turn my entire body to face anyone who… Read more »
Trey Houston
Trey Houston
4 years 11 months ago

Finnegans- I saw your comment after I posted my last response but to answer your question, the doctor said that because of how well the bone fusion took, it would take as much force to re-break my neck as it would to break anyone else’s neck for the first time. They placed no limitations on me after they cleared me. Although I would not suggest falling onto the concrete headfirst.

aed00056
aed00056
4 years 11 months ago

Great inspiring story. These success stories keep me motivated. I love being in the primal lifestyle & I love watching MMA!

bbuddha
bbuddha
4 years 11 months ago

That is so great that you gave your body prime healing ability. and awesome pics

emily
emily
4 years 11 months ago

Awesome story!!! Also, another example of how going primal helps everyone look HOT! Haha! Grok on!

Erik
4 years 11 months ago

Wow what a great story! Thanks for sharing Trey. Good luck with your fighting career.

Ez
Ez
4 years 11 months ago

Absolutely astounding and inspiring!
Perfect example of fitness and true nutrition to heal what conventional wisdom knows not.

trackback
4 years 11 months ago

[…] Link – The Doctor Told Me He Could Not Believe It – Mark’s Daily […]

Trey
4 years 11 months ago

Amazing! That halo sounds like rough stuff. Incredible that you didn’t damage your neck even worse during those months before you had it treated.

Meagan
4 years 11 months ago

You are VERY lucky.

juliemama
juliemama
4 years 11 months ago
Trey, I would also not recommend rolling over a pickup at 4 am off the highway in the middle of nowhere PA. That’s how I broke MY c2 and c3, 19 years ago, in fact. I was on a road trip with my boyfriend and he fell asleep at the wheel…They hauled us into the hospital (which I have no memory of, except for, “I really hurt my neck”) and let me go the next day! I spent a week or so in PA trying to figure out how to get home…and laying low. Hurt so bad! When we got… Read more »
juliemama
juliemama
4 years 11 months ago

I wanted to add that have been blessed with robust good health and strength..even after all that. It sounds dubious, I know! No one knows I have ever had these injuries, unless I tell them, and people always guess my age 10 yrs younger! Wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t spent my youth drinking, smoking and generally chasing a good time? My goodness, the possibilities…but less fun stories for the Grandkids someday!

Aaron (Grok Mendoza)
Aaron (Grok Mendoza)
4 years 11 months ago

Awesome Story! Glad that the neck injury didn’t cause more damage. Another reason to be primal

Jon
Jon
4 years 11 months ago

Thanks for the inspiring story, Trey! Can you give us an idea of what your diet looks like on an average day? I’m always intrigued to see how very athletic people actually eat on a primal diet. Thanks again.

dragonmamma
dragonmamma
4 years 11 months ago

Tried to check out your website but it says “bandwidth limit exceeded”. You need to extend your limits!

Suze
Suze
4 years 11 months ago
Trey – I work in healthcare IT now, but have years of experience as an operating room nurse, and prior to that, a paramedic. I gasped when I saw that x-ray, and I suspect everyone in healthcare who saw it in person did, too. You are beyond fortunate to be alive and not a quadriplegic. Obviously, as bad as that x-ray looks, your fracture was stable enough to support you, or you wouldn’t be here. I have assisted in placing that halo on, and in many spine fusion operations. It sounds like they did everything right with you. And your… Read more »
Dave PAPA GROK Parsons
Dave PAPA GROK Parsons
4 years 11 months ago

NOW…continue on the path…BE SMART…Dont get hurt like that again and GROK ON BROTHER!!!!!>>>>

Java John
4 years 11 months ago

Very inspiring story! Can’t wait to see you fight in the UFC.

Trey Houston
Trey Houston
4 years 11 months ago
Juliemama- Thank you for sharing that with me. Definitely many similarities there. So glad that your recovery went well. It has always amazed me how resilient the human body can be if we allow it. Jon- My diet on a normal day varies greatly. I have Mark’s first cookbook as well as his quick and easy meal cookbook. What I normally do is pick out several recipes with similar ingredients and I buy enough to last me the week. Since I’m busy with school and fighting I usually triple or quadruple the ingredients required so that they will last me… Read more »
Jon
Jon
4 years 11 months ago

Trey: Thanks so much for the info! Yes, that would be great to see a week’s worth of meals. Thanks again.

Myree
Myree
4 years 11 months ago
Wow I’m amazed!!! This really gives me hope that I can recover from my low back and SI Joint injury! I’m pretty far gone already but I’m hanging in there. Hypothyroidism, chronic pain with LOTS of pain meds and other meds… bi-polar II generalized anxiety and panic disorder… all on top of starting out at 300 lbs at 5’10.5″… I’m down 35 lbs as of today and somehow am managing to continue to lose weight on antibiotics and prednisone… I’m taking supplements form adrenal and thyroid support and just starting to feel better. I started 7/25/11 just before major surgery…… Read more »
Jack
Jack
4 years 11 months ago

Great story of triumph over adversity. Reading things like this reaffirms my belief that 99% of us are capable of success over our somewhat trivial pains and aches. I’ll look forward to seeing Trey on the Pay Per View on the UFC sometime.

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