Hitchin is a lovely place full of friendly people, ancient cobblestones, beautiful gardens, and many supermarkets within easy walking distance. I could hardly imagine a better place for a low-stress therapeutic treatment. While, in some ways, it feels like I just got here, I am quite ready to go home. I have received nine fecal microbiota transplants at the Taymount Clinic--only one remains.
Slipping into a routine and having fun with the blog helped me pass the time and provided more of a purpose than just therapeutic relaxation. (Two full weeks of that would probably get me committed.) While I blogged consistently about my quirky cooking shenanigans, the main reason for my trip was not to photograph food in my hotel room. This trip was about me. It was about taking the necessary steps to be as healthy as I can be. I was on a mission to right wrongs from long ago. I escaped my downward health spiral years ago when I committed to a therapeutic diet and then improved my regimen in the years that followed. The groundwork was laid--it was time for a therapy that would target something closer to the root cause of my ulcerative colitis, maybe even the root cause.
When I arrived in Hitchin, I had been fasting for three days and I was tired. Even with an empty--and I mean empty--stomach, I was still concerned with the location of the nearest bathroom. In weeks prior, the foods on my shopping list were those easiest to digest. I ate most of my vegetables well cooked. While there is nothing especially challenging about the Taymount Clinic's preparation protocol, it was a sufficient enough departure from my normal routine that my gut was unhappy and opinionated.
To be clear, my fasting was not part of the clinic's recommendation. It was a strategy I adopted over years living with ulcerative colitis. I found fasting to be very therapeutic when my symptoms were more active and my symptoms were more active when I traveled--probably not a coincidence. Fasting was my answer. On this voyage, I had two airports, three train stations, and the town of Hitchin to traverse on foot, and I wanted to do so in a state of low digestive stress.
I have been completely free of prescription medication for many months now. There were several herbal supplements that helped me ween and stay off the drugs--I left those at home. I have eaten well--maybe a little too well--increasing my daily intake of raw vegetables. I even had the courage (some rules were meant to be broken) to enjoy some fresh organic strawberries, a food I missed that had been on my suspect foods list for some time. Compared to two weeks prior, something was different, maybe even a lot different.
Today, my colon currently hosts the best microbiota my money can buy. My experience with the Taymount Clinic only confirmed my early impression: they are rigorous, they are professional, and they are actively helping many people just like me improve their digestive health.
I go home in less than three days. Only time will tell whether my treatments here in Hitchin planted a seed, or gave my gut a more complete and dramatic microbial overhaul. Obviously, I'm hoping for the latter, but I can't know until the daily treatments cease and my new bugs and I are left to reconcile, back in the real world of my daily life. However this plays out, I received a wonderful gift from the Taymount Clinic and its donors, and now the power to heal lives within me.
In the days, weeks, and months that follow, I will steward this new colony of microbes as it becomes uniquely my own--how I eat and how I live my life will surely affect my outcome. I will dream big but also plan to enjoy the many small moments my old gut-focused mind might have missed. I will replace my conditioned, fear-based "what if...?" with a bolder, more adventurous "why not?".
Perhaps it's time to revise the end of my treatment affirmation:
I had the courage to be here in Hitchin, receiving this treatment, and I will carry my courage far beyond the borders of this town.
Thank you for being with me on this journey. I will keep you posted!
I'm Ethan, a guy whose life used to be controlled by ulcerative colitis. As I systematically tested diets, treatments, and all types of health advice to heal my colon, I learned a lot about my own biology and also how to cook without compromise. I'm here to share the best (and sometimes worst) of that journey with you.