If you followed my blog last year, you know I had high hopes for FMT and that I responded very well during my two-week treatment in England. The ensuing year simply flew by and I also just needed a break from blogging. I wanted to focus on myself, my projects, and my adventures. It was a great year and--if it's up to me--just the beginning of the next exciting chapter.
The blog gets better traffic than I'd expect, considering my gross neglect--but FMT is a hot topic. I suppose a treatment so taboo (and sometimes also miraculous) is bound to attract attention. A few people suffering with Crohn's and colitis have reached out over the past year and I hope my replies were helpful. If you are on the fence about FMT for yourself or a loved one, I hope you find my health update an honest (and perhaps even empowering) datum in a vast quagmire of differing opinions.
Disclaimer: This blog is about my experience with ulcerative colitis, FMT, and lifestyle changes. I am just one guy, but one deeply concerned for the many unwell people I see and interact with daily. I think that much of our sickness is caused by deviations from a biologically appropriate lifestyle. I paid for my FMT out of pocket and it cost me about $10,000 USD. I sought this treatment without the blessing of a doctor because he does not inhabit my body--I do, I was (and am) willing to face the risks associated with the procedure, whether real or imagined. I write this blog because I wanted to read something similar when I was struggling with active ulcerative colitis. There are angry and defeated IBD writers and bloggers whose disempowering words befuddle me; their blogs and articles boldly proclaim supposed facts that directly contradict my experience. At times, I was terrified by the changes in my body, but I will fight relentlessly until I win. A diagnosis is something that can be fought, overcome, vanquished, and now I beat ulcerative colitis on a daily basis. Some days I hardly think about it. This is why I write, and I hope you find it useful.
I had a year of great health, abundant energy, and fun projects. Before my FMT, some of these projects were ideas just piling up (in one case, quite literally) over the preceding few years. Was it the FMT, or was it the placebo effect? Frankly, I don't care. Here are some highlights:
I think people have different ways of evaluating their own health. Some people are more intuitive, while others want to see lab results. For me, being healthy means I sleep soundly, wake up feeling rested, and have the physical and emotional energy to take on interesting projects. ...And, yes, it's also good to lack active signs of autoimmunity and systemic disease. If you have kids, please don't judge me too harshly for the "sleep soundly" part. I'm just enjoying it while I can.
Weight and Energy
Since returning from England, I reached (and currently maintain) my positive weight goal of 160 lbs, Before my treatment, I had climbed into the 150s, but it always felt like a lot of work to maintain that weight and, at times of rough digestion, I would drop 5 lb in a jiffy. (Only a few years earlier, I had dropped to about 125 lb during a UC flare.) My energy level would go up and down. When I was not feeling well, it would often take several days to get back on track.
Maintaining a nice and stable 155-160 over the past year feels like a great achievement. If you couldn't tell from the photos, I have tried putting my improved physical health and energy to good use.
Drugs and Supplements
I had already cut Asacol from my daily routine before my FMT, but I still required a rotating cocktail of herbal supplements to keep the bad bugs at bay. Prior to my Taymount visit, when I tried living without my oil of oregano, grapefruit seed extract, pau d'arco tea, and olive leaf extract, my well-being went downhill after only a few days.
Today, I remain prescription-free, and I no longer need a steady regimen of herbal supplements to maintain an even keel. My supplement routine includes only two things in pill form: turmeric, and cod liver oil. That's it.
Foods and Digestion
I used to have a pronounced tolerance limit for raw vegetables and non-SCD starches. If I ate either of these food types for too many consecutive days, my gut would reach a tipping point. I would then use a strict implementation of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to correct things, but it was tough to establish a stable routine.
Now, I eat my vegetables and safe starches (such as sweet potatoes and plantains) as I please and without having to throttle back to appease my cantankerous colon.
My skin definitely improved after my FMT. I used to get a rash (my wife always referred to as my food "tell") when I ate something my gut disliked, or when I was exposed to the slightest physical or environmental stress (exercise, mold, gluten). The rash vanished during my trip to the Taymount Clinic. It came back about 10 months later in one spot (the inside of my elbow), stayed for a couple of weeks, and I haven't seen it since.
A few things haven't changed
I am still highly sensitive to gluten and avoid it like the plague. I tested lentils and rice in my diet--the former made me feel awful, the latter was just okay--so I still choose not to eat these things. I also avoid nightshade foods and have not felt a strong urge to test them to this point.
In my opinion, my trip to the Taymount Clinic was worth every penny and certainly worth my time. If nothing else, I know FOR SURE there is no lack of beneficial organisms in my gut. My health improved throughout my treatment period and continues on a good track over a year later. Conventional doctors told me that ulcerative colitis is irreversible and must be treated with prescription medication. I feel like--one day at a time--I'm proving them wrong.
The Taymount staff were delightful and I have heard a similar sentiment from other patients who reached out through the blog.
Thank you to the Taymount Clinic donors for sharing their microbes, despite our silly poo taboo and to Glenn, Dawn, Annie, Heather, Leila, Giovanna, Lady Dawn, and all the others who either directly or indirectly facilitated my treatment. If things took a turn for the worse, I would head back in an instant. For now, my preferred plan is to steward my microbes with passion and purpose and to enjoy my better health.
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.