My Gut Health Journey So Far...

So up until about 5 years ago, I thought I was a fit and healthy specimen of the human race. I went to the gym regularly, and I ate reasonably well. I have never smoked and only a very light occasional drinker. 173cm (5'8") and approx. 76kg (167 lb) give or take depending on the day.

Then one day I started getting pain. It felt like appendix pain, but on the left side. I'd had my appendix taken out when I was younger and likened it to this pain. At first it would come and go, sharp stabbing pain for a minute or so, then be gone for a few hours. But as the days went on, the pain became more and more constant, and more and more intense.

After about 5 days my partner Tracey decided it was time for me to go to the hospital, and that's basically when my journey started.

After a week in hospital on a liquid diet and a drip feeding me antibiotics I was shuffled out the door and sent on my merry way, with absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do next.

So I went to see Dr. Google. Oh boy, was I in for a surprise. Lots of information, but probably just as much, if not more confusion amongst fellow sufferers.

I decided to pick the bits and pieces that seemed to make the most sense, and then I tested this information to see how it applied to me, and this is where I got a bit stranded for a while. I was so focused on diet being the major contributing factor for my diverticular disease that I completely overlooked stress.

For the most part I have been able to eat the same diet I always did, except during flare ups when I would rest my bowel with a liquid diet for a minimum of 5 days with a dose of antibiotics, and then introduce low fiber foods to be non abrasive on my bowel, and progress slowly to a higher fiber diet over about 2 weeks.

The light bulb moment for me came at the end of 2021, a week before Christmas. Woke up with pains in my back at 2am in the morning. Once again my amazing partner Tracey carted me up to the hospital, as I was just going to head on back to bed and hopefully go to work in a few hours. She literally saved my life that night.

ECG's in the ambulance and at ER suggested my heart was ok, so I got shuffled into "short stay" while they waited for my blood results.

So here I am lying in short stay waiting to go home. About 6am there are all of a sudden doctors and nurses swarming all around, connecting me to machines and asking me all sorts of questions. The doc comes over and tells me I've had a heart attack! I mean like WTF!!!

Apparently my troponin levels, which should normally be at about 0.04nanograms per litre of blood were at 4803 nanograms per litre of blood, that's like 120,000 times what it should be!!!

Literally 2 hours later I was in surgery getting my first of 5 stents to clear 3 blocked arteries.

You might recall, back at the beginning, I said I thought I was reasonably fit and healthy? Well obviously not. But why? I exercised regularly, I ate well.

STRESS!!!

The light bulb moment for my diverticular disease.

I have, over my 55 years worked in high-stress environments. I've also always been a bit of a worry wort. You know, get stressed about deadlines, commitments I make, debts I have, public speaking, my family, and my career.

Since then, I've taken a step back from my career and I am currently driving a truck. Why? Because I like driving and its less stress.

My heart attack also changed my philosophy on my diverticular disease. I was working towards a flare free lifestyle, by reducing the stress in my life. However, you cant just turn that tap off overnight, and after numerous more hospital stays I decided it was time for some surgery. The reasoning was simple. Each time I spent time in hospital, the doctors always wanted to do the surgery then and there. Problem was, I'm now on a daily dose of medications for my heart attack, including blood thinners. This makes unplanned surgery very dangerous.

So after having to wait the prescribed 12 months from my heart attack, I went back to my specialists seeking a planned bowel resection.

I have, as of the 26th July 2023 had approx. 21cm (8") of my bowel removed, and I am now pain free.

But my journey doesnt end here. I have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster these last couple of years, and as such, Ive neglected my weight. I've put on about 8kg (18lb) and Im not happy.

This entire website is part of a big picture exercise in getting myself back on track. I'm walking every day, and will soon be heading to the gym regularly, and Im watching my diet to improve my gut health. Im fixing my mental health with this website, helping others by sharing information, both about gut health, and about my experiences.

So that's me. I'd love to hear your stories, so please reach out so we can add your story here too.

Steve

 

 

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