I remember it like it was yesterday, waking up on the procedure bed with Beth by my side. Piercing bright lights made it hard to see as I gathered myself and started to sit up. I was relieved it was over, but my mind started racing. I was scared of the results.
What did they find? Anything? This was the day I finally hoped to get answers about my digestive issues. But in all honesty, part of me didn’t want to know.
It’s not often that people walk into their doctor’s office and demand a colonoscopy, but that’s precisely what I did. As funny as it may sound, I was desperate and in need of answers.
I couldn’t take it anymore—stomach and intestinal discomfort, awful gas, vitamin deficiencies, dizziness, sleep issues, horrible bathroom experiences, and more.
The doctor walked up to my bed with a bit of a concerned face. It made me squirm as I braced for the results.
I’d been through a year of visits and trial and error. My GI distress was creating significant issues in my life by affecting my personality, focus, calmness, relationships, and my ability to live life to the fullest.
More importantly, it was affecting my career as a professional racecar driver. That was the moment of clarity that pushed me to stop at nothing to understand my problems.
The man in front of me started to talk. The only word I remember hearing was “disease.” A disease? How did I have a disease? I ate well, worked out, and stayed active. I thought I had my life under control. I truly believed I was doing everything right.
Boy, was I wrong.
After a few seconds, my mind snapped back into reality, and I started to listen. He told me that he needed to get the results back from the biopsy, but it looked like I had acute Crohn’s disease.
He went on to explain that this was an inflammation issue of the terminal part of my small intestines. What really hit home was the direct statement that I needed to take care of this issue ASAP.
I was headed down the path of resection surgery, as in removing a section of my intestinal tract.
Next up were pictures. My stomach sank when I saw what looked like a war zone.
Lumpy ulcers covered my intestinal lining, making it look like a bubbling piece of cheese. Granulation reminded me of knee scabs.
The color scared me. This wasn’t the pinkish skin color that I expected; it was red, dark, and looked partially dead.
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
My mind was spinning out of control.
Was this going to kill me? Is this going to ruin my career? All the hard work and dedication was going to be worthless. The time spent away from family and friends, the blood sweat and tears, and late nights working on my dream was wasted.
How can something like this happen? Why me? Why is this happening now? I started to get angry at the world. I was mad at life. I was mad at myself. What did I do wrong?
The doctor proceeded to tell me we would work on a plan for recovery. But, I was shocked to be told there was a good chance I’d be dealing with this disease for the rest of my life.
It was explained that 90% of people don’t achieve complete remission. Pharmaceuticals were going to be a mainstay in my daily regimen. I was stuck with this disease.
As we drove home, I was in disbelieve. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t think. I had no idea where to begin. How was this true?
I started to tear up. Beth tried to console me, but there was no use. I wasn’t in the right mindset. My world was ending, and I didn’t know what to do.
That day changed my life.
MOTIVATION TO OVERCOME
People know I never back down from a challenge. My career as a racecar driver has been anything but smooth. I’ve scratched and clawed for everything, even after being told I wasn’t good enough, not fast enough, not aggressive enough… I’ve even been fired.
But that never stopped me.
No matter how bad it got, I always believed in myself. And I knew that when the right opportunity came, I would do anything to get back to the top.
After feeling sorry for myself for a few hours, I finally came out of my hole and decided that I would dedicate whatever was needed to overcome this so-called Crohn’s disease. I wouldn’t leave any stone unturned and would seek out any help to find a cure.
Maybe the word “cure” wasn’t the right word at the time, but that didn’t matter. I was committed and ready for battle.
As Barny Stintson says, “Challenge accepted!”
At the follow-up meeting with my doctor, he prescribed a mesalamine anti-inflammatory drug and told me to eat smart. But there were no real directions. I was still allowed to eat whatever I wanted as long as I followed a balanced diet. I could live my life the way I was before the diagnosis.
That bothered me more than you know, and I had a hard time accepting that reasoning. There had to be a trigger, and I was going to get to the bottom of it.
I sought out a friend who battled colitis throughout his life but was fortunate to lower his dependence on pharmaceuticals through lifestyle health changes. He went from yearly hospital stays to living a normal life.
My friend proceeded to tell me that diet and supplementation were the most significant difference-makers.
He also recommended a chiropractic office in Delray Beach, Florida, that offered nutritional counseling (among other things) to help people with this disease.
Craving relief, I booked an appointment.
My condition had worsened since I was prescribed the pharmaceuticals. I needed help, badly. Not to mention the fact that I was already in season and battling to save my career.
My stress level was through the roof. I needed to be healthy to get the maximum out of myself when competing. My physical training and conditioning had taken a beating, and I wasn’t recovering after workouts.
Needless to say, I was not in good shape mentally or physically.
As I walked into the practitioner’s office, I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous but willing to do whatever it took. Nothing was out of the question or too crazy to be explored.
This was the day I was introduced to the world of functional medicine and lifestyle health plans.
We developed a program that would target a quick recovery to manage my symptoms from Crohn’s disease. It was comforting to work with someone who had a clear direction.
We also looked at potential triggers to learn more about the reasons behind my disease. How did this happen in the first place?
Avoid Acidic Food
Avoid Acidic Drinks
SLEEP & RECOVERY
8+ Hours of Sleep per Night
MY FIRST PROTOCOL
Within just 48 hours of starting the supplements and changing my diet, my world shifted. I had instant relief from gas and the crazy bathroom experiences. I was floored by the results.
This started my true recovery and led me down a new path in life. After years of self-prescribing, self-medicating, and wrong choices, I was finally on my way to feeling normal again.
Within a few weeks, I felt better than ever and experienced a calmness in my digestive tract that was life-changing. I followed this protocol with extreme compliance for eight months.
Once I decided to “give in” to a practitioner and program, my road to recovery sped up at an exponential pace. It has helped me obtain results I never thought possible.
Not only has it changed my life, but it improved my performance on the track. I’ve been fortunate to win countless races and championships since that day. I’m driving better than ever and have the ability to push myself to new limits.
I’m very thankful.
I have to be completely honest with you. I was afraid to tell my story to the world. When someone hears the word disease, it creates a sense of worry. I was scared that sharing my experience would affect my career. I didn’t want people to view me differently due to my health problems.
Once I started to put myself out there and shared my story, I was shocked by the number of people who needed a little advice.
It made me realize that showing people you aren’t defined by your disease or health issue gave me a sense of accomplishment, like winning a race, a feeling that I couldn’t get anywhere else until this point.
The reason for my blog is to share everything I’ve learned along the road to recovery. The goal is to give people hope that they can achieve the health status they desire.
Although my personal story highlights Crohn’s disease and functional medicine specifically, the ideas, suggestions, policies, and procedures will appeal to many people dealing with a variety of health or lifestyle related problems.
THANK YOU AND FINAL THOUGHTS
I want to thank everyone who helped point me in the direction of maximum health and the ability to get the most out of me. I’ve been fortunate to meet incredible practitioners and countless patients that gave me a sense of purpose.
Whether you have issues with energy, stress, diseases, sleep, or life in general, my hope is my blog will lead you back on track. It will allow you to eliminate the problems that are holding you back from living life to the fullest.
I’ve been symptom-free for seven years and counting due to functional medicine and lifestyle health plans. My health and wellness are at stages I never knew existed, and I continue to push myself to new levels each day.
Knowing that digestive health is the crucial aspect of a healthy life, I still follow an updated protocol set forth by a functional medicine practitioner. These incredible individuals are lifesavers but, sadly, are the best-kept secret in healthcare.
My goal is to provide people with knowledge on health and wellness, fitness, lifestyle choices, diet, supplements, and recovery to create a functional life!
I wish you nothing but the best in your recovery!
NEVER GIVE UP!