Well, it has been about a year since I updated you all on my personal story and my journey on the autoimmune protocol. In my post last year I explained that I had been in a severe ulcerative colitis flare for about 6 months but after starting the autoimmune protocol at the end of November I had seen a vast reduction in my symptoms, was no longer having bleeding and I had been able to taper off of the steroids I had ended up taking. I was well on my way to healing but I still had a long road of recovery ahead of me.
Following that post, I spend much of the winter and spring recovering from the damage done by both the flare and the steroids. My energy level was very low and my weight had gone up during the flare and wasn’t at a healthy level for me. It took a lot of research but I eventually discovered that both of these issues seemed to be the result of adrenal fatigue… not surprising after the amount of stress I had been dealing with and the serious amount of steroids I had been on. After finding an adrenal health plan that worked for me I was back at a healthy, stable weight and energy level by the end of spring/beginning of the summer.
At the beginning of the summer I began reintroducing some foods. I followed the plan laid out by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne in The Paleo Approach and was able to successfully reintroduce seed based spices, alcohol (up to one drink per week), egg yolks, ghee, cocoa, and macadamia nuts. My only potentially failed reintroduction was coffee. I did a fully successful reintroduction of coffee, but being a bit of a bonehead I then went to Starbucks and got an iced coffee and was sick for a week. I feel like that probably had more to do with the fact that it was Starbucks coffee since I had gone through the full reintroduction process successfully on good quality organic coffee, but to be safe I decided not to add it back in at that point. I was hitting a good stride and then our life got very eventful…
In August my husband began his final semester of graduate school and decided to start looking for another job to start after graduation. Up until this point I had been working two primary party time jobs, blogging and being a birth doula and I knew that in order to preserve my health through the process of preparing to move something had to give. I left one of my part time jobs in August, which was a difficult choice to make, but in the end the right one. By the time I finished up at that job my husband was already in the process of interviewing for the job he would eventually accept. It was a long process of traveling for interviews, house hunting, breaking the news to people, packing…. And anyone who has been through this process before knows that it is not easy especially when you add a graduation and the holidays on top of it. In the end, we moved about 10 days before Christmas.
Throughout the whole process, I only experienced one minor period of flare that lasted about a week and half and was easily managed through self-care and extra nutrients; a true testament to the power of the autoimmune protocol. I did however, put my reintroduction process on hold because of the many compounding factors that would have made it difficult to get a definitive result from the reintroduction process.
Since my last major flare in 2013 I have been content managing my UC with a combination of diet and lifestyle as well as maintenance medication prescribed by my gastroenterologist. This medication is not a steroid or a biologic and is the only medication used to treat UC that has actually been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in UC patients, so I felt comfortable using it as part of my treatment. However, I have recently started to have a few side effects from the extended use of the medication so over the next month or so I plan to start working with my doctor to reduce my use of this medication and hopefully resolve my symptoms.
Outside of my UC symptoms, I have also seen a tremendous amount of improvements in other areas of my health as a result of the autoimmune protocol. My digestion is better than it has ever been. My weight is completely stable and I hardly ever even feel the need to weigh myself anymore, I haven’t had a cold or infection in a very long time and I haven’t had the need to be on antibiotics in over two years. I also no longer have acne and my hair and nails are healthier than they have been in quite some time.
The thing that has become especially clear to me over the past year is that this lifestyle is truly a journey. It is not a quick fix and it is not just a means to an end. It is an ongoing process that chooses long-term health over convenience and requires daily dedication and commitment, but in return allows us to live full lives outside of the doctor’s office or the hospital. My journey is far from over, but I hope that hearing about my ups and downs over the past year helps you know that we are all in this together and that healing is just as possible for you as it has been for me.