According to my parents, I had the worst and longest lasting case of colic the first year of my life.
Severe ear infections as a toddler came next. As a kid and into my teen years, I was always the one who got the virus going around. I had colds, the flu and bronchitis like clockwork. While my two sisters seemed to rarely get sick, I was somehow the unfortunate victim of chronic sickness.
The worst of my illness story appeared in May 1994 when I was 18 years old. I started having random incidences of stomach upset, pains, diarrhea, constipation and excessive fatigue. My physician thought all my symptoms were related to stress and anxiety as I was preparing to transition to college life. As I started college, the symptoms persisted and my weight started dropping. As the symptoms persisted, I was referred onto specialists.
Doctor, Doctor, Give me the News!
To make a long story short, I continued to be referred onto four more specialists who also had a diagnosis for me: anorexia nervosa. The 6th doctor I saw refused to do any further testing. I had given up hope of finding a solution. By January 1995, my digestive issues evolved to me eating anything and having immediate diarrhea, all food completely undigested.
My weight had dropped from 120 pounds in Aug. ’94 to 100 pounds by Feb. ’95. My hair was falling out, my nail beds were blue. I was pale, frail and losing weight rapidly. I looked and felt terrible. Life. Was. Miserable.
Sick and Scared
By March of 1995, I weighed about 85 pounds. One day I woke up and couldn’t move my legs to get up. My parents had had enough and drove me to the emergency room. I was severely dehydrated and as close to death as I had ever been. I was admitted to the hospital and a colonoscopy would confirm the true diagnosis: Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune digestive disorder.
I was given huge doses of IV prednisone, IV parenteral nutrition, antibiotics and pain meds. My body finally had a chance to heal. I went home on prednisone and other new prescription meds. I was told to start out eating things like crackers, white bread and chicken and eventually resume my usual diet. I was told food wasn’t going to make this disease better or worse. I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t want to get sick so I faithfully followed through with taking medications.
Talk about your Freshman Fifteen!
Over the course of my next 4 years of college, I was off and on prednisone to control flare-up symptoms of Crohn’s disease. While the prednisone would temporarily make me feel great, it caused nasty side effects like classic moon face, acne breakouts and a ferocious appetite. Thus, it also contributed to my gaining a considerable amount of weight. I went from 110 pounds to 145 pounds by my senior year of college.
I graduated from college with my nursing degree in 1999. I had also met my now husband during my last year of college. By then end of that same year, the Crohn’s symptoms were getting worse and harder to control despite the medications.
One night, I woke up in terrible pain and my lower abdomen was stiff as a board. Despite attempts to calm the inflammation down, I ended up with a perforated bowel. I was rushed into an emergent abdominal surgery in which two feet of my intestines were removed. After two weeks in the hospital, and weighing all of 100 pounds, I was sent home to begin the healing process again.
Flare ups kept me in a state of ill health
The same path lay before me: antibiotics, prednisone and immunosuppressant drugs. I progressed from chicken broth and artificially flavored gelatin to the same diet as before. From 1999 to 2009, I went through a variety of prescription medication changes.
No matter how careful I was, I continued to have flare-ups of Crohn’s disease. It was always in the back of my mind that there had to be a better solution than just taking medications!
In 2006, I was pregnant with my first child. I went off all medications due to the pregnancy, and actually felt healthier than I had in my entire life! My next pregnancy in 2010 was the same experience.
Unfortunately, at exactly 9 months after each baby was born, I would be battling the disease again. I then was prescribed high powered immuno suppressant injections every two weeks two manage my symptoms.
Pilates 1901 and T School
Fast forward to 2012…I had discovered Pilates during my pregnancies and loved it. I wanted to make it a regular part of my exercise regime, so I found and bought a Pilates 1901 Groupon. I loved it so much that my husband bought me a membership for Valentine’s Day.
In my first summer as a member, Tina invited members to try out a 21 day sugar detox challenge with her. I figured it couldn’t hurt to get off sugar for awhile!
It was daunting at the time to think about avoiding all grains, processed foods, low fat dairy, almost all fruit and only drink water and coffee. Yet I followed it precisely because I wanted to see if this thing really worked.
It did. And I was fully amazed! My digestion was better than it had been in a long time. No crazy swings from diarrhea to constipation, no sensitive stomach and intense cravings for sweets.
Who knew I could live pain free?
Then…Tina announced she was starting T School. I joined immediately and continued the same amazing feeling of health. I dove in deep to all the nutrition information offered. I had never heard of a paleo diet or the alternative pantry ingredients I was learning about. My body kept getting stronger and symptoms of the disease were increasingly less. For the first time in my life, I was losing fat AND gaining muscle. I told my doctor about my diet changes and health improvement.
I started asking “what if I don’t need these high powered medications? Can we see what happens if I cut back on them?” He slowly agreed to cut back on one medication at a time.
The final and most challenging was to cut down on my immun0-suppressant injections. I finally got down to one injection a month, and then none. October 2015 will mark two years that I have been free of prescription medications!
(This is October so we’re celebrating Tricia’s AWESOME HEALTH and healing by featuring her as our Pilates 1901 Peep of the Month!)
It’s all about choices…
While this does not mean the disease is cured, there is no doubt that I am not suffering the affects of this chronic disorder. Figuring out what works and doesn’t work for my body is an ongoing process.
My journey to health was nourished not only by food, but in seeking and accepting help from a supportive community, in making challenging choices and moving forward despite setbacks and obstacles.
My story will not look like anyone else’s story, but what is consistent is that it matters what we nourish our minds and bodies with. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”–Hippocrates.
I’m here if you need help so please reach out and check out all there is to improve your life with us at Pilates 1901 today!
Click here for more information on finding out how T School can help you heal and thrive today!