If you have ever stayed in a hospital for an extended amount of time, you might share a similar sentiment as me, in that, hospitals are really just horrible places to be. When I was first diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease in 2014, I spent a month long hiatus in the hospital. A month prior, I was suffering from what seemed to be a particularly cruel stomach virus: yielding a 104 fever, ampul amounts of blood loss, rapid weight loss, delirium and overall agonizing pain. Eventually, my symptoms granted a trip to the ER, as whatever I had was more serious than we thought. A couple days later, after my colonoscopy and other tests finalized, I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease: an “autoimmune” illness where the immune system targets and attacks specific areas of the intestines (at least thats what the conventional consensus is). From that day on, I battled a very, very, relentless disease, accompanied with an array of other issues. From the time it took to achieve remission, around three years later, I was infected with C. difficile, a sometimes deadly gut bacterial infection, developed a blood clot in my left leg (deep vein thrombosis), temporally lost some of my hair due to medication, underwent three separate immune suppressant therapies (failed the first two drugs), acquired three microbiome transplants, my face ballooned up in size from the prolonged use of medical steroids (prednisone), was prescribed a truly horrifying amount of antibiotics and was constantly accompanied with a daily dose of debilitating pain. This was the start of my journey and what one of my favorite doctors, Dr John Lieurance, calls one’s “pain to purpose story”. I am hopeful my pain might help some avoid the pitfalls of our western medical system, so that they don’t have to share the same experiences as I did!
Western Medicine Ain’t Healing Ya!
Unfortunately, the medical system does not care about getting you better. Many doctors lack the ability to go beyond their outdated training and often times are not following current research. Prescribe drug, up dose on drug, add additional drug, fail drug, repeat process. This is the protocol many western MD’s follow, they will tell you “just wait until we find the right drug combo, then you might get some relief”. The answer always seems to be in a form of pill or prescription. In the meantime, your body endures the immense side effects of the prescribed drugs. Allopathic medicine treats symptoms not root causes, your doctor isn’t going to test you for mold, heavy metal toxicity, candida, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or even advocate for soaking in some glorious rays and eating a healthy diet. When you are sick, you want a doctor that has the intellectually curiosity of a private investigator, not someone who can spend 15 minutes with you an appointment and shove the same drugs every other doctor is trying to shove down your throat. While modern day pharmacological drugs have their place, often, they are bandaids to gaping cuts in the end of the day. Even after those three years of agony, I wasn’t even close to realizing how flawed our medical system really is.
After 2 years of sweet remission, my ailments were in the back of my head and I was feeling normal again, that is, until I overextended myself. At the time I was playing ice hockey 7x per week, working a part time job, had a very stressful home life, was eating horribly and living your typical American lifestyle. Although I thought I was pretty educated on the body, my knowledge was derived from what my doctors and conventional resources were telling me: “illness comes from genetic defects, while changing diet and lifestyle might help, it is really a proper drug combo that resolves the issue”. This describes precisely what is wrong with modern medicine: not addressing the root cause! In the course of time, my body broke down and all hell was unleashed. What started as some mild symptoms, devolved into another blood clot in my left leg, too then being hospitalized for a half a month with a pic line, which, was my sole source of nutrition and fluid. I went from a fit hockey player, to disturbingly weak within a month. I was now seriously considering having my colon removed, but I wanted to keep preserving. I was put on yet another new immune suppressant drug, still, it wasn’t until I received a combination of this drug with an additional immune suppressant drug, that I felt any form of relief months later (this was a very dangerous endeavor). After this therapy kicked in, I spent the next year and half in a limbo state of mild to moderate symptoms. The thought of having my colon removed motivated me to go beyond standard treatments.
Introduction to Alternative Health
2019 rolled around and I was really starting to get into “alternative health” measures. My entry point to this paradigm was Dr Paul Saladino: a traditionally trained doctor who later turned to natural means of health, his claim to fame is the popularization of the carnivore diet, you might also know him as Carnivore MD on social media. When I arrived on his work, I found his thesis: plants producing defense chemicals in order to protect themselves from being consumed, a very compelling argument. Why? The theory claims these defense chemicals activate harmful immune responses within the body, as a result of ingesting plant oxalates. Because of my autoimmune issues, this seemed like a solid argument. I began eating lots of red meat, particularly grass fed med, a drastic change from the factory farmed meats and processed foods I lived on up until that point. I should mention, before eating this diet, I was a vegan… This was one of the worst decisions I made, nevertheless, I was desperate for a solution to my ailment, yet it was far from a solution, shocker! Anyways, upon this transition I was feeling pretty decent, particularly after I hired a functional medicine doctor who aided me in the other aspects of my health. Subsequently, after a few months of feeling better than I had in years, I decided to get a colonoscopy to review my progress. This choice is what fully led me away from allopathic medicine.
The Worst Pain I Had Ever Felt
I have a very high pain tolerance, admittedly, can sometimes can be a bad trait. Typically, when you wake up from a colonoscopy you feel really euphoric, a result of the anesthesia remaining in the blood system, however, when your colon is ripped open you might not feel too euphoric upon waking. Despite having one of the highest priority cases in the practice, the doctor who was supposed to do my colonoscopy, allowed an intern to do it. Over years of scaring in my colon, I had developed a stricture of scar tissue preventing any colonoscopy scope from reaching beyond that point. This was well established amongst my doctors, yet they allowed an intern to perform a colonoscopy on an extra sensitive case without my knowledge. After you perforate a colon you might want to send your patient to the hospital so they don’t die from sepsis. Well, after the perforation ended the colonoscopy early, I was left to wake up as if it never happened (negligence or complete idiotic people I don’t know). Not only that, but the doctor left after 20 minutes after I failed to wake up, so I never got to see her after the procedure. She left me to die. When I woke up it was like all hell broke lose, I was in excruciating pain, since I had basically just been stabbed. They offered to bring me to the hospital, but I rejected cause of my distant for that wretched place. I went home for 3 hours, feeling like I was dying, only after not being able to bare the pain much longer, did I throw in the towel and go to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, I was rushed to an X-Ray to understand what was causing the immeasurable pain. The results showed a nice big hole in my colon. After those results came in, a group of surgeons recommended I have my colon removed immediately to avoid further sepsis. Later that night, the surgery I had avoided for my whole life, was forced upon me because of medical negligence. Everything I worked so hard for was evaporated just like that. The next day I woke up without a colon and a colectomy bag on my abdominals. At the time, I was most upset about having to put a pause on my life. I was working out daily and developed a good amount of muscle for my lean build, I was working my landscaping business making good money and I was working on my health like I never had before. I was making great progress compared to where I was just a year prior and it took a lot of work to get to that point. Now because of the surgery, I was told I couldn’t do anything for at least 8 weeks. I learned something though: don’t ever let anybody tell your limit.
Just as soon as I got out of the hospital (which I only spent three days in, most spend a week or two), I was working with my functional medicine doctor healing my body using peptides and other hacks. By week 8, after getting back to the gym by week 4, I got all my muscle back and my wounds had healed exceptionally well. This was despite being told I couldn’t do anything to help myself until the two month marker was complete. I started working my landscaping gigs again too. While I was still in a lot of pain, I figured this was the only was I was going to get better mentally and psychically. Without that trial I don’t know where I would be today. Trial by fire is often the most effective means of transformation, you either fold in and die, or rise from the ashes. That tribulation is the reason I am so driven to find answers about optimal health.
Becoming a Biohacker
From that day on, I have taken full control over my health, appointing myself as the CEO of my body. I have gone far past diet and exercise in terms of obtaining optimal wellbeing. A major influence on my health knowledge has been a doctor named Jack Kruse: a neurosurgeon who, after many health struggles himself, built a plethora of protocols such as ample sun exposure, eliminating blue light, circadian rhythm, non native electromagnetic frequencies, cold exposure and why mitochondrial health is the key to optimal health. Jack is a highly controversial character, but makes a lot of great points and his protocols have made some sizable impacts on my health. I have also found content like Ben Greenfield’s podcast, Dave Asprey’s podcast (aka the godfather of biohacking), Luke Storey’s podcast (I suggest taking a look at all these guys) and a whole bunch of other channels to be highly informative. While I spend a lot of time in a somewhat niche area of the health space, compared to the diet gurus and exercise space, I have still had to battle remaining and stubborn issues post op, despite using some very powerful health protocols.
Unfortunately, removing a major organ comes with a lot of costs, many of which I am hacking my way back to normalcy today. When my colon was removed, my body revealed another autoimmune illness. This often happens because due to the absence of the colon, and pure invasive of the surgery, can disrupt many processes within the body. This past year alone, I have spent around 50,000 minutes researching via podcasts, research papers and so forth. I have tried every remedy on this green planet within the past several months, some more successful than others. I often describe it as jumbling some wired headphones together: it can be a long and messy process to straighten those headphones out, this is why preventative measures are always #1 and good health should warrant much gratefulness and gratitude, because you never know when it will be taken from you. Yet, I am hopeful and trusting in God that I will get resolve.
Finally, I hope you found my story interesting and took some things away from it. I hope you can trust me, after a decade of intimate experience with my own health issues, for everyday health practices, to diving into chronic illnesses that plague much of the western world. Thanks so much for reading!
Viva Cristo Rey!