I was diagnosed with Crohn's at a young age and my journey through my teenage years was precarious as a result. I was sick, I was well, and I was ill again. As a result, school was not a great place for me. I went from a straight-A student to just getting by, and I felt like I was always struggling. I was stressed. It’s hard to study, hang out with friends and have a part-time job when you have this disease. I am sure you all know what I mean.
I finally went off to Uni, and I struggled again. The lack of energy and the stress played havoc with my health until I finally succumbed to having surgery. I thought this was going to be the answer, BUT it merely opened up another can of worms for my health. I continued to fight my way through my study until I graduated. However, not long after I started work as a chiropractor, the wheels fell off again. My health went, and again I agreed to another surgery.
This experience was far worse than the first. I became septic, spent one month in Intensive Care, nearly died three times and was left with 90cm of Small Bowel. To say I have experienced everything this disease can throw at you is an understatement.
During my life with Crohn's, I have always struggled with what my mind wants to do and what my body was able to do. I had plans, goals, dreams but this disease was continually thwarting them.
However, the real reason I struggled was that I couldn’t handle the way people looked at me or thought of me because of what they saw on the outside. That was my real struggle. On the outside, I seemed ok due to the medication they put me on, BUT you guys know the truth. Inside I was dying. Again, the stress, the lack of energy, the trying to live up to my own expectations, without even thinking of the judgement of others. It was all too much — the self-medicating, the loneliness, the depression that was taking over my life. I was spending my days helping others to live their best life and yet I was miserable and definitely NOT living the life that I had dreamed of.
I think I hit the wall a few times during this journey. It took a few bangs on the head to get me to realise I needed to change. I already knew I wanted to, but I guess I didn’t know how. My most vivid memory was the day I left the hospital after spending four months trapped inside. My surgeon said to me as I was leaving the hospital that he wished me good luck and that there was nothing they could do for me medically. He wasn’t sure of what lay ahead for me but thought I probably wouldn’t live very long. I was 49 kg and stooped over like an old man. When in reality I was 28 years old and should have been in the prime of my life. As I left, he handed me the Serenity Prayer. That certainly stopped me in my tracks.
After this encounter with my surgeon, I realised that if I wanted to live, then I needed to take control of my health. None of the medical doctors I saw offered me any real solution. (BTW I am not a doctor basher at all. My son wants to study medicine. BUT they couldn’t help me.) It’s not their fault as this disease doesn’t seem to fit the medical model currently being taught to our doctors.
I realised I needed to go way outside the box and try and find people or things that offered me a different solution or a different way of healing. And, believe me, I tried everything. I cooked goats’ intestines; I ate green Papaya leaves cooked, I ate boiled Cascara seeds. I travelled to India, America, Thailand to find the answers.
One of the most vivid memories I have though is travelling to the rainforests in far north Queensland and living with a natural hygienist. We ate raw food, bathed in the river and shared stories on healing. This time cemented my views on what had happened to me. Why I had gotten sick, why I was now left with 90cm of short bowel and told I wouldn’t live very long. This time also taught me the things that I needed to do to get better. All the crazy things I’d done that I now needed to let go of. It became obvious to me.
I had made being well so complicated that there was no way anyone could stick to what I thought I had to do. It was so painful to think about the steps, the actions, the complicated diet. I kept failing at sticking to it and then I would give up. At least if I ate a grilled chicken burger from Burger King (Hungry Jacks in Australia), I felt pleasure for a while. This was a vicious cycle I had been spiralling down so it was crucial I had this moment while I still held the possibility that I could get well within me.
I realised that I didn’t have any chances left and that if I wanted a better life in the future, I had to take action now.
The answer, I discovered, was something, as a chiropractor, I already knew. The body has an amazing ability to heal if given the right circumstances. Fine tuning those circumstances and giving my body the time to heal turned out to be the solution.
The difference this time over all the others was I kept it simple. While I was in the rainforest life was simple, there weren’t all the shiny objects to distract me, the excuses I had used in the past didn’t apply, eg I needed energy to get to work so it was ok to eat/drink something sugary, I was stressed, so I needed a drink to relax. As the plan unfolded, the excuses weren't there, and it turns out the plan was pretty simple. I learnt I could stick to it and I also discovered that it wasn’t the end of the world if I strayed from the plan. The plan was simple, so if I strayed, I simply got back on.
We all make healing so complicated. You need this powder with these 27 other ingredients, plus you need to eat this, do that and then do these five times a day. No wonder we all fail.
What my plan taught me was that it could be simple, it was easy to follow and if you strayed so what. You just began again.
There were many challenges along the way to finding better health for myself. I had to let go of what I thought was the answers to allow room for the actual solutions that caused me to get healthy. I also had to quieten the noise of others who thought I was crazy because I wasn’t doing the things that I was supposed to. Even at times, I doubted myself because my path was definitely off the beaten track. I also had to remain steadfast as there were times my symptoms and health got worse before they got better. I always find this funny as I explain this concept to my patients regularly and so easily and they accept what I say, BUT for me, that was a big challenge. I wanted to HEAL now, not later and I wanted it to be easy.
The result is my Crohn’s is gone. I have had pill cams, colonoscopies and there is no evidence of the disease. I have done the things I wanted, had kids, travelled and worked all over the world and been able to surf. I have also been able to instil the ingredients for great health into my children, and that really excites me as well. I also enjoy immensely being able to tell others that they can be well and live their best life.
The transformation I experienced has been multi-layered. I not only have the best health that I can have, but I have also been able to assist my family in having their best health. PLUS, I have also been able to help 1000’s of other people live their happiest and healthiest lives, and that makes me super happy. Life isn’t about suffering or lack. It’s about joy and abundance. And that’s what I want to continue doing. Helping others and giving them the necessary tools to escape and to keep escaping from the jaws of this terrible disease every time it tries to take a bite out of them.
I wish you well
Hello, I am Dr Michael and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 12 years old.