. . . . . . . . . My journey started in 2001 when severe pain, stomach problems, and low grade fevers mysteriously hounded me as I underwent CT scans and doctors probings with no diagnosis given. Sometimes the pain was so intense that I could hardly talk. What could be wrong - was I just suffering from anxiety? Or did I have a parasite from a couple of long stays in Hawaii?
Suddenly one Friday morning I woke up doubled over with pain, asking my mom to drive me to the emergency room. That day, as I was probed and tested for every imaginable illness, my temperature soared to 104 degrees. That night I was admitted to the hospital for one of the scariest experiences of my life.
My white blood cell count had sky-rocketed, indicating a serious infection. I was given antibiotics and morphine while my doctor worked to diagnose my condition. A week slowly dragged by as the doctor tried to calm my body enough to undergo an endoscopy and colonoscopy. Immediately upon waking up from the colonoscopy the doctor told me I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract. He prescribed Asacol, a Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug to keep the symptoms at bay.
My first question for him was, "Do I have to be on medicine for the rest of my life?" He affirmed my worst fear: Yes. And not only that, but the symptoms would probably worsen over my lifetime which would require steroids, and probably surgeries. The Asacol did begin to treat my symptoms right away, and soon I was able to leave the hospital. The only downside was I had a huge bag of pills to take home with me and they were my only hope of staving off another nightmare of a hospital visit.
Before I left the hospital I was told I would need to eat a "bland diet" meaning no spicy food, and pretty much anything that was white; white potatoes, white bread...anything that wouldn't "irritate the digestive system." I was confused - and asked the nurse "How will I get any nutrients if I can't eat any fruits or vegetables?" Her response was disheartening. Shrugging her shoulders, she said, "I don't know."
So that was that. I returned home gray, limp, and with about as much energy as a dishrag! I lay in bed most of the time, using sleep as my only refuge from this nightmare that was happening to me. I was scared to eat anything, because of the pain I was still experiencing and because of the fear of landing right back in the hospital again.
Reading the research on Crohn's Disease wasn't so encouraging, either. Pain, surgeries, ill health, skinniness, possible colostomy and even cancer seemed to be the main thing to look forward to in the future. Perhaps the most discouraging to me was the loss of the dreams I had for my life: finishing college with a Communications/Public Relations degree, getting married, and having children. Just these basic dreams now seemed to be unattainable. The only thing I could do besides sleep was to pray. I asked God to heal me, if that was His will.
Then one day, while lying in bed (of course!), I heard the doorbell ring. My Mom answered it and found a friend from church on our porch. She said she wanted to loan us her book called "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by Elaine Gottschall because she and her daughter with Ulcerative Colitis had been wonderfully helped by it. She said words we all longed to hear: "There is hope in this book."
That was enough for me. I was willing to do anything for a shred of hope. As I read the book I realized that the science behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet made perfect sense. Starve the bad bacteria in the gut by eliminating all long-chain carbohydrates and your body will be able to repair itself and return to a natural bacterial balance. As long as the bad bacteria continue their overgrowth in your gut by feeding on long-chain carbohydrates which linger there, you will continue to have all of the symptoms that come with any Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
Although I didn't have enough strength to finish my college classes that semester, I mustered enough energy to try the diet. My Mom was a wonderful support person. But even with all of her help, I knew that when push came to shove I was the one who had to make the diet work. Only I could take control of my body - no one could make that decision for me. Besides, I told myself wryly, I'd rather spend lots of time in the kitchen than lots of time in the hospital!
Following the challenge of the author, I gave the Specific Carbohydrate Diet a 100% try for one month. I decided not to eat anything that wasn't on the diet. Sure enough, I was feeling so much better and so robust by the end of the month that I had no other desire but to continue the diet! Suddenly I did have HOPE. I was gaining weight again, my pain was lessening, my color was returning, and I was even getting complements on how healthy I looked...Me? The wan little dishrag that just got out of the hospital with a dread disease??
Quite simply, I was sold on the SCD. My doctor was amazed at my health when I came in for my six-week post-hospital check-up, where I had already gained 9 pounds. Within months I was able to scale back my Asacol from the maximum dose of 12 pills a day at the beginning of my treatment to one little pill a day! To be on the safe side, I continued that dose until a year later. Then I was able to go off of medicine completely because there simply weren't any symptoms left to treat.
Best of all, I was able to begin to live a full life again, fulfilling many dreams and looking forward to many more. I met and married my husband, Jim, in 2004 and we recently had our third son! I graduated in 2003 with a degree in Communications and an emphasis in Public Relations. In 2003 I was able to complete a White House internship and succeeded in cooking for myself the whole time. People continue to comment on how healthy I look, and during my pregnancy with my first son, the doctor said if he could take a picture of the perfect pregnancy he would take a picture of me! The second and third pregnancies were just as smooth and healthy.
I am thankful for the answer to prayer I received when I was told about the SCD. The diet is strict, and I have to admit it is hard at times. But for me, having my life back is completely worth the hardship! Also, when I accidentally eat something that is not on the diet I am in pain quickly afterward and am reminded of the amazing health I have because of my perseverance on the SCD. More than sixteen years after starting the diet, I am completely symptom-free and medication-free. I have learned many things that make the diet easier such as cooking in large quantities, freezing the extra food, and finding SCD-legal pre-made food that can serve as quick snacks.
My success on the SCD now leads me and my Mom to want to help you by sharing our knowledge, experience and ideas. Maybe you're just discovering the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for the first time. If so, I encourage you to read the book "Breaking the Vicious Cycle" by Elaine Gottschall right away, and follow the detailed instructions in the book. Perhaps you're on the diet and need some fresh ideas for what to eat and some encouragement...please enjoy the recipes and tips we share on this site, and if you would like, share some of your tips with us! Or you might know someone who has an Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn's, Diverticulitis, Ulcerative Colitis, or Celiac Disease. Please pass this link on to them.
Regardless of your situation, I and others on the diet would be happy to communicate about the SCD through our facebook page, or you can take a good look at all the letters from people like yourself and my answers on our "Peek In Our Inbox" page. Otherwise, please enjoy the recipes and menus my Mom, my husband, and I have posted, as well as the tips, FAQ's, articles, magazines and Mom's Perspective page.
You CAN take your health back into your own hands!
with my Mom, Robin