Written by: Jessica Zaneis
It seems strange that I am excited to type this story to you about what was a life changing illness for me considering how sick I was. It is even more strange that I am so willing to share such a personal story about what many people think is a taboo subject, the colon. The more I have shared my story, the more sick people I realize are out there suffering and unaware that there is a way to treat their ailments simply by adjusting the fuel they use.
I am a 35 year old very active Woman. I have been active my entire life. Back in the 90s during college I was very into inline skating and competed in several local races. Once I hung up the skates along with my scrunchies I moved on to boxing. I spend every afternoon for the better part of 3 years training and from time to time even got in the ring to spar. I have always loved extreme challenges physically and wanted to take it to the next level. Once I hit 30, I started having some major health problems and these hopes started to slip away. My stomach and digestion have given me issues for as long as I can remember. I envied those who talked about having an iron cast stomach because I seemed to be the complete opposite, everything upset my G.I. tract. I would get what I thought was a stomach bug quite often and always attributed it to the flu going around. I also began to become extremely fatigued, stressed, full of anxiety, and a multitude of other symptoms that related to what seemed to be a slow metabolism. I thought it was just a part of getting older. So often many people say things like ’welcome to your 30s’ and ’it only gets harder as you get older’. Deep down I knew it was more than that. I just had no idea where to begin. I ended up at my family practitioner asking for yet another dose of antibiotics because I thought I had Mono or another bout of an infection. Thankfully my M.D. opted to do a full physical and uncovered that I was suffering from hypothyroidism. My TSH number was 4x what it should be. I had no idea where my thyroid was even located. Come to find out, every female on my Fathers side of the family has the same diagnosis. We began to treat the thyroid issue and while I was feeling a little better, I still knew something bigger was wrong. It took a good 2 years to properly treat my thyroid, and I put on 20lbs during this time. I worked out harder than anyone I knew, yet the results were just not showing. It became seriously depressing and I was in a bad mental state about it all. Those dreams of being the athlete I used to be were slipping away.
I finally got a little energy boost from my TSH leveling out closer to where it should be in late 2011. I began to snowboard again, and had done over 100 summit hikes in 2011. I felt like there was a chance, and I was making some progress. I still would have days that my gut would slow me down. Mentally I have the capacity to set aside the pain and push myself. I did, and finally in February of 2012 it all broke down.
I thought I had yet ANOTHER stomach bug or food poisoning. This time it was worse than it had ever been. I had that horrible toxic feeling but nothing would expel from my body. I am stubborn and again with a high pain tolerance I simply waited too long to go to the ER. Once I finally did, they immediately took me back to put me on fluids. I was ghost white, my lips grey from the pain. I was doubled over and could barely walk. My husband thought they would give me some fluids and I would be home shortly after. Once they did some blood work and my white blood cell count was through the roof those hopes were long gone. I went in for a CT scan immediately and it revealed I had diverticulitis. 60% of my intestines were inflamed and infected. I had an abscess high on my descending colon just below my ribs. It had burst and I had a perforation leaking the infection into my body. They immediately put me on a heavy dose of IV antibiotics and started prepping me for what they thought was an immanent surgery to remove and resection my colon. They gave me the night to see if I made any progress. I fought like the dickens and 5 days later I was released from the hospital barely avoiding the O.R. I had dropped 12 lbs in those 5 days. I was sent home on a heavy cocktail of Cipro and Flagyl for 3 weeks. The recovery was difficult, but I was actually relieved. At least I now knew what I was up against.
Once recovered I began to research everything I could get my hands on regarding inflammation and how to avoid it. It became clear that a Paleo lifestyle was my best chance to avoid having a surgery. The surgeons at Mayo talked to me several times about re-sectioning my colon. I just could not fathom that happening at my young age. I knew there had to be another way. Once the colonoscopy came back showing outside of the pockets in my colon walls I had no signs of cancer. That was a very emotional day. I began to follow the Paleo lifestyle in March of 2012.
Since then my hiking became everything I always hoped for, and much more. I have covered 810 miles and climbed 264,450 feet (that’s approx 50 miles climbed) in the last 6 months. I participated in the 7 summit challenge in Phoenix Arizona on November 9th 2012 climbing 7 summits, 23 miles and 5,409 feet of climbing in one day. I was one of the first females to complete the course. I have been doing things that shock not only me, but just about everyone that knows me. This has changed my entire life, everything. All of it. There was no going back. The rewards were simply to great to part with. I am in the best shape of my entire life. I am full of lean muscle. People see me and say the most incredible things about how healthy and stunning I look. The reaction on their face alone makes me realize just how ill I really was. It has prompted me to start a blog to share my journey in hopes that it helps others find this new way of living. I am so incredibly passionate about my story I find myself often talking about the taboo any chance I get. I am incredibly thankful for this resource, and for Robb Wolf creating this community.
If you want to learn more about me, visit my blog: www.chronicclimberchick.com
Thank you for listening!