Matt's Note: Reid Bryant Kimball has offered to share his success story of dealing with Crohn's Disease through alternative treatments. This is the first post in our "No Guts, No Glory" series of real stories from those dealing with digestive disease. Also, don't forget to stop by his site at http://crohnsend.com to find out more about the terrific documentary he is working on.
I found Matt’s blog a few weeks ago and was impressed with the kind of practical information he was sharing with others in order to help them overcome their disease. I am doing the same, but through a documentary film I am making and wanted to share with you more information about it, but first I thought I’d share with you my story of having Crohn’s and discovering alternative treatments for it.
My earliest memory of my symptoms beginning is November 25th, 1996. It was right after my family’s annual Thanksgiving dinner when I stood in the kitchen and felt pain in my gut. I said, “I don’t feel good” and went straight to the bathroom. That began several months of fighting against chronic, unpredictable diarrhea and abdominal pain. There was no blood or mucus.
I missed a lot of school, trying to shake the “flu”. I was a serious ice hockey player and my ability to perform was seriously impaired.
It wasn’t until late January when my parents decided my GI issues couldn’t be the flu because I wasn’t having a fever or muscle aches and pains. I saw a Gastroenterologist for the first time and was scheduled for a colonoscopy on February 13th, 1997.
After the colonoscopy, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I was told that I should avoid foods that make my symptoms worse, but for the most part I should try to eat whatever I want. Changing my diet wasn’t emphasized as an important treatment. Instead, I was put on Pentasa and told if that didn’t work there were stronger, steroid based medicines I could try.
For the following eight years I tried to live my life as best as I knew how, by ignoring the fact I had Crohn’s disease. The Pentasa I was taking never really worked, except to give me a few more seconds of time to reach the bathroom, but I had my share of embarrassing accidents or canceling social events because I wasn’t feeling well.
In December of 2004, I started taking Flagyl, an antibiotic. It caused the worst bowel pain I had ever felt. I wrote home to my mother and she said there was a special diet I could try when I got home for Christmas vacation, which happened to be one week later.
At home, my mom introduced me to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet starting with homemade yogurt made from cow’s milk and bread made out of a nut flour of ground up almonds. Within twenty-four hours I saw solid stools for the first time in eight years. I was hooked!
After Christmas vacation when I returned to where I was living and working, I threw out all of my old food, the Cookie Crisp cereal, the DiGornio Pizza boxes, the Hungry Man TV dinners (I can’t believe I used to eat those!) and more. I started buying natural, fresh, whole foods that came from live animals or plants.
It was three years later, in 2007 when I felt comfortable enough to stop taking my Pentasa. I have been medication free ever since then. Beginning in late 2007, I started having partial bowel obstructions because my small intestines were narrowing due to scar tissue. This complication occurs when inflammation becomes too great or dies down but leaves behind scar tissue. For me, it was because I was healing and the inflammation stopped, leaving behind scar tissue. It wasn’t until 2008 when I spoke with my Naturopath that I started using Glutamine to make the scar tissue more flexible. I was able to eat a wider variety of foods again without pain. I knew that then besides diet, there were many alternative treatments one can do to heal their damaged guts.
Inspiration for a Documentary
In the spring of 2010, I saw a video of someone my age recovering in the hospital after having surgery to fix his perforated intestines. His bowel obstruction nearly killed him. I was happy his life was saved but on the other hand I was angry because I felt that if he had learned about alternative medicines like Glutamine, perhaps he could have avoided surgery like I have.
I knew then that I needed to make a documentary to help others with Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis to heal and overcome their disease. I started researching all sorts of alternative remedies and my first interview was with a man named Luke Stokes who uses Helminthic Therapy. Meaning, he’s infected himself with hookworms. After that, the interviews came fast and furious and the documentary has gained momentum.
Today, I have never been healthier. I still have bad days with diarrhea, but I rebound within 24hrs every time. Through the documentary, I am interviewing people to hear their stories of how they have healed their guts from Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis. I then incorporate their alternative medicines into my healing regimen and then after a while, I test if I can tolerate foods that gave me diarrhea in the past.
The film is one part an experiment with my health, part educational for others and part inspirational, I hope the documentary can empower people to take control of their health. I know that’s what I’m doing and if I can do it, so can you.