Thursday, December 29, 2011


 I was born and raised in Michigan. My parents, sister and her family still live there. Every year, with the exception of very few since I've left home over twenty years ago, I visit at Christmas time. This visit was by far the most difficult ever. I loved seeing my family, but this felt like torture:(  

This was the most difficult test of my will power since I have been diagnosed and I failed on Christmas Eve. Right now I'm on a healing diet which only includes alkaline forming fruits and vegetables, mostly raw or juiced, and sometimes steamed. No alcohol is allowed either.

On Christmas evening, we visited one of our family members home's, exchanged gifts, played a little pool and socialized. Of course, everyone ate dinner, had some drinks and enjoyed some fabulous desserts. I drank water, and due to my lack of will power, I cheated a little, very little, and felt it the next day.

On Christmas, we visited another family member’s home for dinner and desserts that were left over from the night before. Again, I drank water, but this time I didn’t cheat!

With the exception of some raw red peppers on Christmas, nothing served at either home was within my healing diet restrictions. Now, that really didn’t surprise me because I can’t expect them to cater to my needs especially when they are so restrictive. So I expected it and ate prior to attending. Those of you with Crohn's or colitis know that you can't eat meals until you're stuffed, so within a couple hours I was hungry again observing all of these delicious foods.

By far, this was the greatest test of my will since I've been diagnosed with Crohn's. Lots of chocolate desserts which I love, fried cheese, brie with raspberry, macaroni and cheese clusters, nacho layered dip, plus many more delicious foods, not to mention the wine.

I've recently joined this page on Facebook: This disease is nasty folks. It's just sooooo sad to read some of these postings.

Ultimately, I cheated a little on Christmas Eve, and felt a little uncomfortable on Christmas, but by being strict to the healing diet I was fine again within a day. I had the pleasure of being with my family and being healthy on these two days, when others with the disease were far worse!!

I'm blessed to be symptom free when I stick to the healing diet, and have to remember to be grateful for that when faced with such a difficult test of will.

I'm not sure I would chose to put myself in this situation again, and hope by next year my will power has greatly improved and my diet has significantly loosened, because I sincerely don't know if I would choose to do this again. When I’d want to eat something I shouldn’t, I’d go to the Facebook page referenced above and see postings from those in much worse condition and I’d put things in perspective.

An attitude of gratitude: 
  • I was there without symptoms instead of in the hospital.
  • I was healthy visiting family members I love instead of home in bed.
  • I felt pretty good, instead of feeling like the zombie I had been that needed 18 hours sleep a day.

Things can always be worse... 

But I’m also looking forward to the day that things will be better. 

No worries Mom, I love you !!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Getting Off of the Meds!

On September 6, 2011, I recall being taken home from the hospital after having a colonoscopy. I was also scheduled to have an upper endoscopy, but Dr. Sigmon felt it wasn't necessary based upon what he saw in my colon. To me that wasn't really very good news. Meaning, my colon clearly had something very wrong with it and all of my symptoms could be explained based upon whatever it was that he thought he observed with my colon.

If you've ever had a colonoscopy, you might remember that the drugs they put you on pretty much keep you from being able to remember much. So although I had a discussion with Dr. Sigmon, I don't recall anything he might have said in regards to my diagnosis. At this point, I have no clue what he thinks I have, but he did have a discussion with my friends Stephanie and Richard who are the ones that took me home.

They told me that Dr. Sigmon had taken several biopsies of my colon and that he thought he knew the diagnosis but preferred to wait for the biopsy results which he expected in about a week. He gave them two prescriptions for me, which were supposed to help my symptoms if his suspicion was correct. At this point I felt like the walking dead. I was only drinking fruit juice and not eating or drinking anything else but water due to the uncomfortability associated with having a bowel movement, and because I believe it is the best way to cleanse your body of toxins. 

I had already been taking other medications. One was for an infection that was identified from a stool sample, and the other was for my upset stomach, or at least that's what it felt like. Later of course, I learned, that it was my intestines that were upset, not my stomach.

Ultimately, beginning on September 7, I was taking four types of medications:

Flagyl:  It's an antibiotic that eliminates bacteria and other microorganisms that cause infections of the reproductive system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and other areas of the body. In my case, of course, it was to clear the infection in my gastrointestinal tract. Dr. Signmon had identified an infection from a test of my stool the week prior. This is one of the medications I had already been taking for about a week. It was a ten day prescription that I completed.

Dolasetron: I believe that this is the medication I was given to settle my upset stomach. In addition to the diahrea and painful hemorrhoid, I felt like I was going to vomit all the time, but never did. This was another reason why I felt that drinking fruit juices was better for me, than eating. If I already had an upset stomach, what would eating have done to it. So the juices I'd drink were not as acidic as others. For example, I drank a lot of white grape juice and apple juice, instead of orange and tomato juice.In any regard, I had the worse upset stomach for weeks and had been taking this drug for a couple weeks prior to the colonoscopy. Dolasetron is used to prevent nausea and vomiting. It works by blocking the action of serotonin, which is a natural substance the body makes that may cause nausea and vomiting. This seemed to give a little relief but not much so I stopped taking it immediately upon getting some minor relief from the healing diet.

Mesalamine:  This is one of the prescriptions that Dr. Sigmon gave after observing the inflammation in my colon. Mesalamine is an anti-inflammatory. If you look up this drup on the Internet, you will see that it is an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. It is a bowel specific drug that acts locally in the gut. Therefore, before I was even told the diagnosis, I had a good idea it was either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's.

Mesalamine is thought to work by inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals in the lining of the colon. Mesalamine decreases the production of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase, which are enzymes that produce prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Prostaglandins and leukotrienes are chemicals that lead to inflammation. It is believed that the cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase enzymes are over-active in people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's and Mesalamine is believed to work by blocking the activity of these enzymes, which then reduces the production of prostaglandins, which reduces inflammation in the colon as well as the symptoms.

One issue with stopping the production of prostaglandins is that they are useful for many things other than inducing inflammation, including the construction of muscle cells around blood vessels, aggregation of platelets during blood clotting, and they deliver and strengthen pain signals. 

The side effects of taking mesalamine can be mild or severe. Mild symptoms can include headaches, muscle or joint pain, back pain, nausea and vomiting (as if I needed this right now),  heartburn, gas, constipation, dry mouth, sore throat, coughing, flu-like symptoms, runny nose, stuffy head, ear pain, anxiety, sweating, hemorrhoids (oh no...too late, I already had this), rectum pain (had this too), difficulty sleeping, acne, and hair loss. Now these are only the acceptable side effects. You could also have more serious side effects such as chest pain, shortness of breath, tarry stools, bloody vomit, vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds, increase in your need to urinate, blood in the urine, confusion, and swelling of other body parts. 

Now, according to Dr. Sigmon's P.A, Tanya Williams, mesalamine is safe for long term remission of Crohn's. Candidly, with the little bit of research I have done on mesalamine, I knew I didn't want to have to take this medication for a long time. But if you think this medication sounds bad, just wait for the next...

Budesonide:  Now this is a nasty drug. It's a corticosteroid that works by decreasing inflammation in the digestive tract. When budesonide is taken, it is released in the ileum, which is the area at the end of the small intestine, right before the large intestine. Budasonide is absorbed into the cells of the intestines. Here it works by preventing the release of certain chemicals from the cells. These chemicals are important in the immune system and are normally involved in producing immune responses that result in inflammation. By decreasing the release of these chemicals inflammation is reduced. 

The budesonide that slips away and is absorbed into the blood stream is about 10 to 15%:( This is actually very low for a corticosteroid in relation to the other options for treatment during a flare up, and therefore, budesonide actually has fewer side effects than most. The biggest concern I have with this drug works by weakening the immune system, which may lower your ability to fight infections. This most likely will make you more likely to get a serious infection or make any infection you have worse. 

In regards to the side effects, other than weakening your immune system, well they pretty much are as bad as any other drug:  nausea, heartburn, headache, oral thrush, yeast infection, tiredness, vision problems, easy bruising/bleeding, puffy face, unusual hair growth, mental/mood changes (such as depression, mood swings, agitation), muscle weakness/pain, thinning skin, slow wound healing, rash, itching and swelling, severe dizziness, and trouble breathing.

So Ultimately, the mesalamine and budesonide I began taking on September 7. I began the healing diet on September 14. I stayed on the healing diet for about two full months as I reduced the medication to be off of all medication within two months of my diagnosis. 

Date Mesalamine Budesonide
7-Sep 2 Pills 3 times per day 3 Capsules each morning
27-Sep 2 Pills 2 times per day No Change
4-Oct 1 Pill 2 times per day No Change
11-Oct 1 Pill each morning No Change
18-Oct No Change 2 Capsules each morning
25-Oct No Change 1 Capsule each morning
1-Nov Eliminated 1 Capsule each morning
8-Nov Eliminated Eliminated

It was quite funny when I had my first follow up with Tanya and Dr. Sigmon on October 25 as I explained I had reduced my medication. Ironically it was Tanya, the P.A., that basically lectured me explaining that I really need to stay on the mesalamine to ensure remission. She explained that it was a safe medication I can take for the rest of my life.

Go re-read the paragraphs above about mesalamine and help me understand how it can possibly be safe???

Dr. Sigmon on the other hand seemed genuinely happy. They both complimented me on how healthy I looked. But remember that the last time I saw them I was the walking dead, so I certainly hope that I was looking good compared to then. Haha.

I really do like Dr. Sigmon. He inquired about what I was doing that allowed me to progress so quickly. He knew it was predominantly diet related and already knew that animal products and sugar were no nos. Mostly, he was just happy for me and said as long as I was feeling good he was happy for me. He hoped it continued, but reminded me that if I ever begin to feel like I did, that he would be there for me. 

Regarding getting off of the medication, it would not have been so easy for me if I had not already been on a cleansing juice diet. For things to go as smoothly as it did for me, I believe that the body must be cleansed of toxins. During this period, I was consulting with Dr. Azar and she guided me as to what to do. 

So far, this will amaze you, I have saved about $800 in medication. And this is only my portion of the costs, not that of my insurance company.  You see these medications are very expensive. The Mesalamine was a prescription of $1,000 and the budesonide was over $700. My co-pay for a 30 day supply was $150 each. I think of this every time I have to bear the cost of buying organic foods. Haha.

Finally, it is very important when taking a corticosteroid that you don't simply just stop taking it. Your body naturally makes steroids. When you take steroid pills, your body may stop making its own steroids especially if you are on steroid pills a long time.So it was very important to me to get off of the budesonide as quickly as possible, because long term use of it could make it impossible to live without some form of steroid treatment in the future. Meaning your body may never be able to produce the amount of steroids it needs in the future if it is long term relying upon oral steroids. 

Therefore, don't stay on any steroid any longer than you must. Secondly, wean off the steroid, instead of stopping it all at once. This gives your body enough time to learn to produce steroids again.  While your body is getting used to making its own steroids, you may feel dizzy, lightheaded, tired, have stomach pain and body aches. All of which I had, but only mildly.  I was only on the full dose of budesonide for a few weeks, so there wasn't too much risk for me, but still, reducing the dose slowly and under a doctor's supervision is the safer way to go.

I look forward to returning for my follow up appointment with Dr. Sigmon and Tanya, his P.A. Tanya insisted that I stay on the mesalamine until my sediment rate is 20 or lower. Two weeks following that visit, certainly prior to even knowing if there had been any change in my sediment rate, I had eliminated that drug from my daily routine. I'm sure I'll get another lecture from her, but I expect Dr. Sigmon will again be happy for me :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stop Cheating

I've been expanding my diet and living life as if my ulcers are already healed. It typically takes about a year or a little longer for the ulcers to heal so clearly since I’ve only been on the healing diet, or a version close to it, for only three months, it is probable that the ulcers have not healed. 

It seems like a long time to heal, I agree. But if you think of having a sore on the outside of your body always exposed to wet, unclean, acidic environment  filled with toxins, then you can get a better understanding as to why the healing takes so long.

After being on the healing diet since mid-September, I’ve been feeling great and it’s been easy to just began eating things like hummus, cooked foods, some acid vegetables, and some irritants like onions and garlic and an occasional sulfide free half glass of wine. Additionally, I’ve increase my activity level with snowboarding every weekend for the past three weekends and have had many business lunches and dinners that make it difficult to follow a strict diet.

I’ve also been experimenting with my dehydrator making zucchini, sweet potato, and butternut squash crisps as well as veggie burgers and banana cookies.

Add all of this to working a few extra hours due to our fiscal year end, and the added stress of not having enough time in the day to complete everything I want to complete. This has lead to reducing the time I spend meditating, and relaxing, which is very essential to healing.

All of this has been cheating my healing process and I have been feeling that something is not quite right again. It’s very hard to explain, but recently I have had some discomfort in my gut. It felt a little like menstrual cramps, but not exactly. But it wasn’t the bloated feeling that I had in Europe when my symptoms began six months ago. Ultimately, it just doesn’t feel right. Additionally, I’ve had some gurgling going on in my gut and my bowel movements changed by becoming looser as well as more frequent.

I’ve not been fatigued and still have a good amount of energy, but I know something has not progressing the way that it should. So I’ve committed to stop cheating for 30 days on all accounts.

I stopped cheating just two days ago, and all of the symptoms I mentioned above are almost gone again. In discussing things with Dr. Azar, my holistic gastroenterologist, we agreed to 30 days of a strict healing diet, meditation, exposure to the sun and outdoors, and as much rest as possible. On January 10, I return to my medical gastroenterologist, Dr. Sigmon, for a follow up in which I will get some blood work done. After the results are in, which will be right around the expiration of the 30 day commitment, depending upon the results, I will begin adding foods slowly to my diet and eventually, I will be able to get to a diet much more relaxed.

Ultimately, these are the things I intend to do over the next 30 days to ensure the healing is expedited and that my blood work comes back with positive results.

  1. I’m going to follow the very basic diet as prior described in my blog, including bringing my lunch to work so that I can avoid having to eat out at lunch. I’ll begin making sure to schedule my business meetings during business hours, not during meal times.
  2. I’m committing to spend more time in the sun. I already get a good amount of sun on the weekend, but Monday, Tuesday, and Thursdays I will sit outside at the Piedmont Town Center (where I live) after work as long as the sun is still remaining, and I will eat my lunch outside instead of in my office. All of this is dependent upon the weather of course. If I begin to do this, my vitamin D will improve, as well as it will reduce the business of my mental state, both of which are essential for healing.
  3. I will ensure that I get 8 hours sleep whenever feasible. I have been getting only 6 hours some days.
  4. I will meditate at least 30 minutes a day. Clearing the mind and body of the day to day stresses, and focusing upon the things we are thankful for is extremely beneficial to healing. I don’t want to waste energy with any negativity as that energy could be used for healing.

Not only do I need to follow the proper diet, but I also need to make sure that my body has the time and energy to heal.

Stress is very bad on the body. Your body only has so much nerve energy to radiate. Let me explain. Nerve energy is radiated from your Solar Plexus. It is a mass of nerve substance that is often referred to as abdominal brain. It is located just behind the pit of the stomach and it receives and distributes nerve-impulses and energy to all of the respiration, circulation and digestion organs, which is referred to as the Sympathetic Nervous System. The Sympathetic System controls the automatic mechanisms of the body such as the beating of the heart, contraction and dilation of the arteries, the actions of the gastrointestinal tract, the contraction of muscles and the control of the secretion of our glands.

When you are stressed, worried, feel guilty, are sad, or have any other overwhelmingly negative emotion, your Solar Plexus contracts. When you are at peace and happy, it expands. The more your Solar Plexus expands, the more nerve energy that is radiates. This is essential to healing! Therefore, meditation and quite time helps your mental state so that you can keep your Solar Plexus in an expansion mode.

A good analogy would be compared to a computer that has so many programs running that none of them work efficiently, so you have to reboot your computer in order for any of the programs to work properly again. In addition to sleep, this is what meditation and the quite time outdoors is intended to accomplish.

Also, your body heals and recharges nerve energy most efficiently when you sleep. When you get tired and need to go to sleep it is because you have nearly run out of nerve energy. When you sleep, your nerve energy is recharged. Have you noticed when you are ill that you are more tired than normal? It’s because you are using up your nerve energy more quickly on the healing. So a good amount of sleep is essential as well.

It’s 9:42 p.m. at the moment. I’ve already walked my dog, Rusty, for the night and I’m heading to meditate for about 20 minutes and then will be going to sleep for the night. I don’t have to awake until 6:00 p.m. so I’ll be getting my eight hours tonight!!

Good night:)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More on The Healing Diet

At the moment, I am sitting on a couch in Kris’s apartment in Banner Elk with Kris, Byron and Geoff. They are all snowboard instructors, as am I, at Beech Mountain. I enjoy snowboarding too much to let this disease keep me from doing it. But they are all eating pizza at the momentJ I would love to join them, but the cheese, pepperoni, and flour in the bread all will wreak havoc on my colon. So the biggest aspect of healing the ulcers comes from will power and discipline. I likely am going to leave and head up to The Frog and The Monkey (the only healthy restaurant in Banner Elk) to help me with willpowerJ

Ultimately, you MUST do what you have to do to avoid the foods and things that aggravate your digestive tract, even if that means avoiding the situations that tempt you.

When I was going to the hospital to get my Colonoscopy prior to my diagnosis, I remember telling Stephanie and Richard, my friends that took me there, that when I was feeling better I was going to order a small pizza from Papa Johns and eat the entire thing. I have yet to do that, and it’s been three months. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do that again, but I’ll make it my goal to find something that I enjoy just as muchJ

My health is worth more than the temporary pleasure of the palate. This is something I tell myself regularly when I am tempted. I remember how miserable I was walking my dog looking and feeling like a zombie, and I remind myself that I can pleasure my palate at the expense of becoming a zombie again.

Now for the discussing on diet…would it surprise you that raw vegetables digest faster than cooked vegetables? It’s true….read on…

As you know, with Crohn’s or colitis, the colon is obviously not in its optimum condition and due to the inflammation and ulcers, nutrients are not absorbed through the intestinal wall as it would be if the colon was healthy. So it is important to make sure that you eat in a manner that allows for maximum assimilation of nutrients and that is gentle on the digestive tract. This means that food should be raw to start with because when food is cooked at 118 degrees or higher, it loses its enzymes as well as its nutrients.

Raw food, and foods prepared at 118 degrees or lower, not only has all of their nutrients, but they have enzymes that assist in the digestive process so that your digestive enzymes don’t have to do all the work. This basically means that the digestive tract gets help digesting the food from the food itself. But this does not occur with cooked food because the high temperatures kill the enzymes, and therefore, cooked food takes longer to digest than uncooked food.

Ultimately, raw fruits and vegetables are the best to ensure that you get all of your nutrients and that the food enzymes will be in tact so that they can assist in digesting the food.

Also, food digests at different rates. For example, melons digest very fast. Within 20 or 30 minutes they exit the stomach, and therefore the assimilation of nutrients also begins to happen very quickly. But if the melon gets caught up in the stomach with foods that digest slowly, for example, seeds and nuts that take two to three hours to exit the stomach, then it will ferment before it ever gets to the intestines where the nutrients are absorbed. The melon not only becomes empty calories to some extent, but the fermenting of the melon may create discomfort of some sort in your gut due to the gas, acid, and even alcohol it creates.

Therefore, I have learned that eating foods in the proper combination according to the time in which it takes to digest properly is important to proper digestion for the maximum assimilation of nutrients and so that the food enzymes can aide in the digestive process.

Melons, are best eaten alone, because of how fast they travel through the digestive system. Sweet soft fruits digest very fast as well, but not as fast as melons, so sweet fruits are best eaten with other sweet fruits and non-starchy vegetables, but not with starchy vegetables, which digest much slower. Basically, the guidelines below can be used as a guideline for proper food combining:

Melons:  Always eat alone

Sweet Fruits: 
  • Eat alone
  • Eat with other sweet fruits
  • Eat with green non-starchy vegetables

 Non-Starchy Vegetables:
  • Eat alone
  • Eat with any vegetable

Keep in mind that during the time you are concentrating on healing the ulcers, the foods you eat should predominantly be fruits and vegetables that are alkaline forming and they should have low acid levels themselves. A lemon, for example, is an alkaline forming food, but it contains too much citrus acid that will aggravate your ulcers.

As your ulcers begin to heal, you may add some seeds and nuts in moderation, and only after soaking them in water. More on the reasons behind that later. But seeds and nuts digest very slowly, so never eat them with sweet fruits that digest quickly. Eat them alone or with non-starchy vegetables. At the early stage of healing Crohn’s or colitis, avoid these entirely.

Here is a typical day:

Breakfast:                        2 Bananas in a smoothie with spring water, coconut water, or celery juice

Day Time Snacks:          A pear, grapes, mango or banana are my favorite fruit snacks

Lunch:                              Cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon or any other type of melon

Dinner:                             Steamed sweet potatoes or squash. Or a salad with either blended/juiced fruits for a dressing, or topped with raisins or chopped dates for additional flavor.

Night Time Snack:          Juiced vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumber, bok choy, romaine and red sweet pepper (this is good for the vitamins needed to combat anemia).

Today I’m up at Beech Mountain, and eating on the road is more difficult. When at a restaurant, a salad of mixed greens topped with raisins seems readily available, mixed vegetables, and sweet potatoes are often available too. Ask for the vegetables steamed instead of cooked. Steaming vegetables is better than baking or frying because it occurs at a significantly lower temperature and therefore the food keeps more of the nutrients. As prior mentioned, cooking fruits and vegetables basically kills the enzymes and losses their nutrients.

Today, this was my menu:

Breakfast:                        2 Banana smoothie with spring water

Lunch:                              Watermelon that I had cut up in advance knowing I wouldn’t no be close to a kitchen or restaurant that could accommodate my diet.

Snacks:                            I made dehydrated sweet potato chips last night and took them with me for snacks.

Dinner:                              I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I likely will go up to The Frog and The Monkey, which is a restaurant in Banner Elk that has healthy choices. I will likely have a salad and maybe some baked sweet potato fries.

As you will notice, everything today, except the baked sweet potatoes, was uncooked and prepared by me. I have found that is the easiest way to stay true to the diet. I strive to keep 80-90% of my diet uncooked to ensure I get the nutrients I need.

Lastly, I do have some things I cheat with that I really enjoy eating. I’ll share a couple recipes with you in the near future, but zucchini lasagna and chocolate ice cream are two of them. Both have ingredients that are not recommended at this time, but since I am feeling great, I am testing some boundaries in moderation. Stay tuned…

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oxalic Acid is a No-No (and a follow up on curing Anemia)

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I have researched what I can do in order to increase my red blood cell count. One of the things I researched is the foods that I should eat that are high in the vitamins and minerals needed the body needs. Kale is one of the foods that is rich is iron, vitamin C and many of the B vitamins.

Last Tuesday, I ate some kale crisps, which is basically dehydrated marinated kale. I thought I was doing well choosing this food because it is also alkaline forming when digested which is exactly what is preferred during the healing phase of Crohn’s. By that evening, I had diarrhea that was almost as bad as what occurs when you take the prep for a colonoscopy.  Urrgggghhhh:(

Ironically, I had a scheduled appointment at 4:00 p.m. that day to speak with my holistic gastroenterologist, which was just after I ate the kale, but before the diarrhea began   I inquired about kale with her and she advised me that it is not wise to eat it yet because of the oxalic acid within kale. I didn’t tell her during this conversation that I had had kale earlier that day, and a lot of it. I wanted to see if it affected me as she suspected that it would.

Oxalic acid is extremely strong and salty, and since the healing diet is a cleansing diet, a strong acid reacts very negatively with the body. I was unable to make it to work on Wednesday because I couldn’t be away from the toilet for more than 30 minutes in the morning hours. By the evening, I only needed to frequent the bathroom every couple of hours. My bowel movements weren’t back to normal for three days.

Therefore, if you’re on the healing diet or any cleanse, avoid oxalic acid which is commonly found in spinach, rhubarb, collard greens, and kale. I’m sure it’s in many other foods, so it is worth exploring whenever you’re cleansing.

My last blog, I mentioned that I would follow up on a couple of things regarding curing my anemia. First, Dr. Azar confirmed that  there isn’t a way to get vitamin B-12 through plant based foods and she suggested that I get tested for it when I see my medical gastroenterologist on January 10. The specific test I will request is a methyl malonic acid and homo cystine test. If this shows that my B-12 is low, a supplement that dissolves in the mouth is better than a pill that settles in the stomach since it can aggravate the digestive tract. I’m going to start taking the supplement now so and not wait for the test so that it can hopefully assist in curing my anemia.

Additionally, she agreed that exercise is okay at this time as long as it’s not in excess.  Red blood cells are needed when rebuilding muscle, but the body tends to produce more of something it needs, so a little bit of exercise at this point could be positive and prompt more red blood cell production.

I went snowboarding this past weekend so I got enough exercise and did so at a higher elevation, of course. Because oxygen is not as readily available at a higher elevation, the body tends to produce more blood cells so it can carry more oxygen.  Hopefully the little bit of exercise at the higher elevation will also help.

Next blog will be more detail on the healing (cleansing diet). 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Cure Anemia

It’s Sunday, November 27. I'll make sure to spend time on my next blog addressing more on the proper diet to heal the Crohn's and colitis ulcers, but this was an interesting topic that I spent time on today and wanted to share it with you all (whomever you are that reads thisJ).

I went to the movies on Friday night, November 25, to see the new Twilight movie with my long time friend Connie, who lives in the Brandon, Florida area. She had not seen any of the movies or read the books. I have read the second and third book after seeing the first movie. So I filled her in on all of the important parts J.

I had not seen Connie for years. She had only first learned about my illness after reading one of my posts on Facebook thanking those that I considered my Angels who had helped me so much during the time I was at my worst. So after the movie, much time was spent explaining everything that happened to me. I also explained that currently, my ulcers in my colon are not yet healed and I’m anemic, which means my body is not creating enough red blood cells yet. This is not uncommon for people with colitis or Crohn’s. Connie made a simple suggestion that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of myself. She suggested that I might research how to increase the production of red blood cells.

Anemia is a condition in which your red blood cell count is so low that not enough oxygen is carried to all parts of your body leaving you feeling weak and tired. A lack of oxygen can also begin to deteriorate the parts of your body not getting the oxygen it needs. Oxygen is an essential component of life.

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which is a protein that carries oxygen. The role of red blood cells is for the hemoglobin to absorb oxygen in your lungs and carry it to all the muscles, organs and tissues in your body. These cells die every 120 days and new cells are made to replace them.  My last blood test showed my hemoglobin at 10.9 gm/dl (grams per deciliter) which is exactly what it was five weeks earlier. So my body is producing red blood cells, but not at a fast enough rate to be considered healthy. Hemoglobin for a woman my age should be at 12 – 16 gm/dl.

Worst of all is that since I have active ulcers in my colon, it is essential for these ulcers to get enough oxygen to heal. If oxygen is not getting to the parts of the body that needs healing in adequate supply, it will slow down the healing or even make things worse.

Therefore, I began to research how I can increase the production of red blood cells online. My research showed that I need to increase my intake of iron, as well as the B and C vitamins.

Iron is an essential blood builder. It comes from green leafy vegetables and beets. I really dislike beets, so I intend to increase my intake of romaine and bok choy. Both of these vegetables are alkaline based, not acidic, which is what I need until my ulcers heal. However, both of these vegetables are tough to digest and as a whole food will aggravate my colon during digestion. Therefore, I’ll juice them which will ensure the best absorption of the iron I need, without aggravating my colon.

Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, helps to heal wounds and is used by the bones in the production of red blood cells. It is water soluble so it must be replenished often. Vitamin C mostly comes from fruits and vegetables, and since that is what I mostly eat, I don’t need to change my diet in this regard.

The B vitamins are necessary for the formation of red blood cells among other things. They also are water soluble and therefore they too need to be replenished regularly. Other than B-12, the B vitamins can be readily found in many alkaline based foods including red bell peppers, bok choy, carrots, squash, watermelon and many other foods which I eat on a regular basis throughout the week such as bananas, dates, grapes, mangos and sweet potatoes.

They are also included in cauliflower and avocados, which I have added to my diet but only on a very limited basis. Ultimately, to be certain that I get enough iron and B vitamins I’m going to make a vegetable juice about two hours before I go to sleep each night. I’ll include romaine, bok choy, carrots, squash and red peppers along with various random other vegetables to ensure I am getting all the nutrients I need in order for my diet to be optimum for creating red blood cells. For anyone with Crohn’s, this juice along with plenty of alkaline based fruits and vegetables throughout the day (found in a prior blog) will significantly help in curing the Anemia which often comes with the disease. Ultimately, I am to increase my hemoglobin by January 10 to a minimum of 12 gm/dl so that my snowboard season won’t be compromisedJ

The only problem with all of my research is that I cannot find foods that work within a whole foods plant based diet that gives me B-12 and I’m not certain how important B-12 is to the creation of red blood cells. Certainly it plays a part, but most sources of B-12 are animal based foods, and I cannot eat animal based foods if I want to stay symptom free of Crohn’s :(

I have an appointment Tuesday with my holistic gastroenterologist, Dr. Azar, and I will address this with her and will report back to you then….

Another suggestion I found to increase the production of red blood cells is to exercise at elevated altitudes. Oxygen is less abundant at higher altitudes, so the body’s natural response is to increase the number of red blood cells. Based upon the fact that Dr. Azar is not recommending exercise at the moment since we want the body's focus to be completely on healing my ulcers, I’m going to inquire about this on Tuesday as well. Stay tuned…

Friday, November 25, 2011


Today I’m getting my Epic Pass for the upcoming ski and snowboard season. I’m an avid snowboarder. I enjoy it so much I even instruct part time up at Beech Mountain in North Carolina. The Epic pass is a season pass for unlimited use of seven resorts around the Vail area in Colorado:  Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Heavenly, Northstar and Arapahoe Basin. I usually spend most of my time at Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone for the night skiing.

My holistic Gastroenterologist, Dr. Zarin Azar, will not likely recommend me snowboarding this soon. Among other concerns is that I’m anemic presently. My hemoglobin is 10.9 which is low. Ultimately, I’m not producing red blood cells yet, and when your muscles break down from strength exercises, they need red blood cells for your muscles to recover properly. Not to mention, that your solar plexus radiates nerve energy throughout your body which helps your body get what it needs to be healthy, and she wants 100% of my body’s healing power to be focused on my Crohn’s ulcers. She is not recommending exercise quite yet.

Although I haven’t had a blood test for a few weeks, I’m certain my hemoglobin hasn’t risen to where it needs to be yet due to the fact that I have other issues affecting my monthly cycle if you know what I mean. When that gets back to normal, I suspect I’ll be producing red blood cells again. My next blood test isn’t until January 10 and I expect to reduce my Sediment Rate to 20 or below and increase my Hemoglobin to 12 or above, which would be normal for both. This would be a great indicator that my ulcers are well on their way to healing. When that happens, exercise is more feasible.

In any regard, I’m still buying the Epic Pass and will begin working on scheduling a trip for the middle of January!

Also, last weekend I went up to Beech Mountain for the Instructor’s kick off meeting. All the ski and snowboard instructors for the season attend. We complete the employment paperwork and get our employee identification and jackets in preparation for this year’s season. I attended of course, but I only agreed to about 50% of the time that I instructed last year. Even without Crohn’s, I had already decided not to commit to as many weekends this season as last. Last year, although it was very fun, it simply was too much of a commitment based upon the time requirements of my real job. Also, I like to travel to different places to snowboard, so committing to instructing almost every weekend prevented me from doing so.

This year, I agreed to instruct about half of the weekends between December and March. This will give me the flexibility to travel to other snowboard locations, take a break, or just rest so that I don’t over stress my body and prevent my healing progress.

If you have been reading my blogs, you may have noticed that I am doing phenomena since my Crohn’s flare up just a short time ago this past September. I not only had severe inflammation, but it was my first ever medical diagnosis of the disease. I have stabilized the symptoms by diet, rest and managing stress. This allowed me to wean off of the medication within two months of the diagnosis, which is unheard of.

One of the reasons I believe that I’m doing so well is that I expect to heal. I am convinced that the body can heal itself when given the right circumstances better than any medicine can. Dr. Sigmon had a patient that has done so, and David Klein's book talks about others that have done so as well. So there is no reason why I can't do so. 

Medicine is meant to treat symptoms, it doesn’t cure. The body is what cures and heals itself if you treat it properly. Certainly, the diet I have adopted has a lot to do with why I am progressing so well. But another reason why I am progressing is due to my positive expectations. An expectation creates actions and circumstances that bring about a result consistent with the expectation every time.

The circumstances or situations that occur within our lives do so because we have thoughts consistent with the circumstances first. Let's look at an example, such as your body weight. Your weight today is a result of the behavior or actions of your recent past. Your behavior of the recent past is a reflection of your current beliefs, which are a result of your past thoughts. Ultimately, your past thoughts created the chain of events that resulted in your current weight.

However, if you decide today that you are going to lose weight, and you know that failure isn't an option, then you immediately begin to change your thoughts. The changes include how you have been thinking about your food intake and exercise, among other things. Your beliefs know that improvements in this regard will result in weight loss.

In this example, only after your behavior changes will the result begin to manifest physically. So if you start acting as if you're one hundred thirty pounds when you are actually one hundred sixty pounds, you will become one hundred thirty pounds eventually. But if you continue to behave as if you're one hundred sixty pounds, you will remain there.

I absolutely believe that every result or effect in my life has been as a result of my thoughts. So if I think it, believe it, and expect it, it will happen. Now there is a difference between hoping for something and knowing it will result. Using the weight loss example again, when you really decide that you will accomplish your weight-loss goal and you know that nothing will prevent you from achieving it, when you truly know and expect it as sure as the sun rising in the morning, then you attain it, don't you?

But if you say, "I'll try to lose weight" or "I'll give it a shot," then you likely will not lose weight of any significance, because the undertone and true belief is that it's difficult and won't likely happen. You must decide for certain, and then have the faith that your desired result is certain, or you will achieve what you know to be certain instead.

I saw Joel O’Steen once with my friend Mark Kopaz in Tampa, Florida. Joel used a great analogy as it relates to power of faith. He talked about the differences between behavior of a married couple that was trying to have a child and one that was expecting a child. The one expecting a child was already preparing the baby’s room; buying furniture; getting their child care figured out, etc.

But the one that was trying to have a child, that had yet to conceive, didn’t do these things. He talked about faith as having the desired expectation. Meaning that if the couple that wants a child because considering it as eminent, than that level of faith would be more apt to bring about their desired result.

My expectation is for the results of the blood test on January 10 to be that which confirms I’m well on my way to being healed, and therefore, snowboarding won't be harmful to my healing process. So I'm purchasing the Epic Pass and I don't consider it a financial risk at all.  I also am going to be scheduling the trip; purchasing the plane tickets and reserving the room. I am already acting as the results are guaranteed; just like the couple that is expecting a child.

I’ve decided that I will go on a very strict healing diet starting tomorrow through Christmas. My commitment to my blood test results has already influenced a different behavior than without it. I have been cheating a little and adding some foods that really are meant for post healing. But if I expect to be healed enough to snowboard this winter, I cannot cheat any more. 

Just think about this for a moment. If you had to consciously think about needing air when you breathe, or pumping the blood within you, or even what each organ has to do in order to function, you’d be dead within seconds of being born. But our subconscious coordinates all of our vital functions without ever needing a conscious thought from us. It knows that to do and does it. Our subconscious also knows how to direct our bodies to heal!

I’m convinced that once a belief is fully formed consciously, it is then stored in the subconscious mind and the subconscious doesn't make decisions about true or false, or if something is right or wrong. The subconscious takes the conclusions of the conscious mind as fact. I intend to use the power of my subconscious mind to assist in my healing. 

By the way, I believe it is within subconscious mind that we are connected to God, and having faith is how I go from wanting to heal, to knowing I am going to heal. If you’d prefer to consider all of what I’ve been saying as a form of prayer, that works tooJ

Ultimately, I get the feedback from my doctor on the blood results usually within about 3 business days, so somewhere around January 13, I’ll make sure to blog the results!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Healing Diet

Many years ago, I used to get migraine headaches almost weekly.  The medication that was prescribed worked most of the time if I took it before the migraine was in full force. I would get an aversion to light and begin to lose my peripheral vision prior to the onset of the head pain. As soon as that occurred, if I took the medication, I would be able to prevent the head pain from fully materializing. But if I didn’t have the medication before the head pain began, then I’d have a migraine for about three days.

I decided in 2005  that I didn’t want to deal with this any longer and I started to log into a journal everything I ate as well as everything I did so that I could identify what, if anything, was triggering these migraines. Once I could identify what was triggering the migraines, I could then eliminate whatever it was from my life in order to prevent them forever. It took only about two months to determine that there was something in my protein drink that I took every morning that was triggering my migraines. There were too many ingredients in the protein drink to identify what it was within the drink that was the cause, so I just eliminated the drink entirely from my diet. I had thought it was the bananas that I also included in the drink that was the trigger, but later found out that was not the case.

In six years I’ve only had one migraine. I unfortunately don’t know what triggered it, but I must have consumed one of the ingredients that used to be in my protein drink that day. Nevertheless, I basically cured my migraines through diet.

With Crohn’s, I’ve learned that the medication prescribed to me and to others suffering from most anything, simply reduce the symptoms; it doesn’t cure what is causing the symptoms. Meaning the ulcers are still active most of the time. And if by chance they do heal, which is unlikely on the standard American diet, the scar tissue makes the area highly vulnerable to ulcers reoccurring.

What I wanted to do was to find what was causing the ulcers so that I could eliminate the cause, just like I did with my migraines. According to Dr. Sigmon, one of his patients did the same with Crohn’s, so I should be able to do so as well.

Therefore, I began searching on the Internet diets for people with Crohn’s. Although I found many ideas about what aggravated Crohn’s, nothing I found talked about the cause of Crohn’s and what needed to be eliminated to CURE Crohn’s with one exception. Self Healing Crohn’s and Colitis by David Klein was the only source I could find on the Internet that talked about healing Crohn’s. Every other source I found on the Internet, including all medical sources, refers to Crohn’s as a chronic issue that could not be healed, and remission was the best case scenario.

I downloaded the book immediately and read it in four days between my naps;) From a big picture perspective it claimed that with diet you could not only heal the ulcers but prevent reoccurrence forever. Since this book was the only source that suggested anything of the sort, I decided to follow the advice given in the book immediately. I still was feeling quite miserable, and a restrictive diet would be better than feeling so fatigued with an upset gut all of the time.

The diet had a few objectives in order to heal the ulcers so I could become healthy again:

  • Eat easily digested foods so that the body doesn’t have to work very hard to digest what is ingested.
  • Eat raw foods so that the maximum amounts of nutrients from the food could be digested.
  • Eat plant based whole foods only.
  • Eat only alkaline based foods.
  • Do not eat foods high in fat.

When I went to Europe in June, on the flight to England I began reading a book called The China Study. My friend Phillip Smith suggested it a few months prior, and then a friend and business associate that merchandises my model homes, Kay Green, also mentioned that I would likely be interested in the book.

I had already been living a Vegetarian lifestyle. I technically was a Lacto Vegetarian, which means that the only animal foods I consumed included milk. The China Study was touted for being the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. Particularly, it details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Even colon cancer.

At the time I began reading The China Study, I had no idea that I had Crohn’s. Candidly, the book was a tough read, but it convinced me that cow’s milk and any other animal milk was not good for us. It praised the benefits of a plant based whole foods diet. So ironically, just days before beginning to experience Crohn’s symptoms, I began reading a book that praised almost the exact diet that now David Klein was suggesting for healing Crohn’s. Ironic???

David’s book suggests a different diet for the healing phase than after healing. Meaning, as long as there are active ulcers, the diet was more restrictive than after the ulcers are healed. The diet for the healing phase meets the rules above, but the post healing diet is introduced many more foods. The healing diet is actually a cleansing diet. The book also has a juice diet noted for extreme cleansing.

Once the healing is complete then the diet is very much like that Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the author of The China Study suggests, but it includes more uncooked foods, which makes sense and we’ll go into that in more detail later. I don’t think it’s coincidental that within two months of beginning to read The China Study, I was faced with the decision to find a diet that heals Crohn’s or take costly, dangerous medication the rest of my life.

Let’s go back in time for a moment... When my fatigue grew and I was having diarrhea all the time, I began a juice diet immediately. I had learned to do this in the past to help cleanse away any illnesses. During this time, I drank orange, apple, grape, and cranberry juice. I stopped eating solid foods so I could cleanse and also because having a bowel movement hurt my hemorrhoid too much. I thought if I just drank my nutrients, it would reduce my bowel movements and therefore reduce my pain. Ultimately, this action began my cleansing process as described in David Klein’s book, before I even read his book. But this extreme detoxification made me feel even worse at the time.

In any regard, because of my Vegetarian diet, and the cleansing I had already begun, I suspect the medication that I received the day of my colonoscopy was more effective than it may have been if I had a lot of toxemia within my body. I was fortunate to have a jump start on cleansing my body as well as a jump start in my knowledge of diet and disease from The China Study. I was unknowingly preparing in advance for what I was about to endure. I was a Vegetarian that was considering a whole foods plant based diet and was already cleansing. I don’t believe all of this was a coincidence, but instead, I believe I was meant to heal my Crohn’s.

Now let’s discuss what types of foods comply with the objectives above. Plant based whole foods means no processed foods. The food had to be whole and plant based. This means grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables only. But the food also must be easy to digest, and grains, nuts and seeds are not easy to digest, not to mention that most are high in fat. So that basically means I could eat fruits and vegetables only.

Most vegetables are not so easy to digest due to their roughage. Therefore, they needed to be steamed or juiced. Juicing vegetables are better because enzymes aren’t altered. Food cooked at over 118° F quickly break down, just like our bodies would if we had a fever that high. The cooked food loses its enzyme effectiveness and the enzymes are what help in digestion. One of the objectives noted was that food needed to be easily digested, and therefore, they should have their enzyme composition intact. So lightly steaming vegetables would make them more digestible without losing all of the benefits of the vegetables. But juicing vegetables would be even better.

Most fruits are already partially digested and they are wonderful for the healing diet. Bananas and melons in particular. But many fruits are not alkaline based. They are acidic and acidic foods will not help cure the ulcers.

David Klein’s book lists all of the fruits and vegetables that I could eat that would meet the objectives in order to heal my Crohn’s ulcers and I began following it exactly. Within days I began feeling better. It was amazing actually. Although it was very restrictive, the way I began to feel was well worth it. I felt more healthy in the first week, than I had for months. I mostly ate the following for breakfast and lunch, and I ate as much as I wanted:

  • Bananas
  • All melons
  • Pears
  • Raisins (soaked)
  • Dates (soaked)
  • Apples (peeled)
  • Grapes

The following were my predominant dinner items. The leafy items were juiced only due to their roughage. Otherwise, I would juice them or steam them:

  • Romaine
  • Bok Choy
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Squash
  • Celery
  • Sweet peppers
  • Cucumbers

On this diet I felt great and was able to wean off of the medication within 2 months. I’ll explain this further in the next blog….

You must get Self Healing Crohn’s and Colitis if you are a sufferer of either disease. I would suggest that you do not read the entire book at first, but go immediately to The Healing Diet on page 155 and begin following it immediately. Then read the entire book. Just don’t delay even a day starting the diet. Just give it a try for a month and see how you feel.