Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Three years? Time flies

It's been three years since my last colonoscopy, and three years since my last post. Reading that post feels like reading a note in a time capsule; so much has changed since then. My wife and I bought and fixed up a house, had a baby, both had work changes (she moved schools, I got promoted) and have had some wonderful and trying times. Stress out the wazoo.

But one thing hasn't changed: I'm still symptom free. More on that in a bit.

Diet-wise the only hard rule left is "no gluten", which in pragmatic terms translates into "no regular, large starch piles". However, I do eat potatoes with regularity, and have ventured into the dark lands of gluten free pizza a few times (with predictable results). Overall, my diet remains centered around meat, eggs and cheese, with fruit (mostly "gross" bananas), vegetables and starchy tubers rounding it out.

One negative health event was scoring high cholesterol for a physical two years ago. 290 total, I forget the exact splits. At the time, I was chugging milk and yogurt, so I stopped. A year later I was down to 204 and had an extremely positive Boston Heart panel. High HDL, the right LDL pattern, etc. The cardiologist was a little stunned by the turnaround and mentioned that it takes most people years to pull that off. Most people probably aren't drinking that much milk. I guess my phenotype doesn't respond well to a sustained dairy onslaught. Oh well. I've been making up the calories with a shake made from protein powder, super-ripe bananas and peanut butter, with no negative side effects.

On to the colonoscopy.

I switched gastros to one who had a facility a little closer to my new house. The prep they gave me was astonishingly inoffensive (suprep). I recall gagging and being almost unable to finish a similar prep (fleet phosphosoda or something like that), but this one was so mild it was no big deal. Only complaint about the procedure itself was that instead of giving me the relaxant a few minutes ahead of time, they just knocked me out - come on guys, I crapped my brains out for twelve hours, I think I deserve a little legal high time.

Woke up and the doctor told me everything looked fine. No polyps, no inflammation, no visual signs of disease. Come back in two weeks for follow up.

When I went to my follow up appointment, he said that I didn't look like I had Crohn's. He had me go through my history just to make sure that my diagnosis seemed sound, and I don't think there's any doubt that I do in fact have the disease. He said that it's so thoroughly in remission it's hard to tell. All of my biopsies were unremarkable except one which showed some signs of old inflammation, which wouldn't be enough to diagnose the disease if I was a brand new patient.

He grilled me about my diet for a bit and said that he's seen a few people like me, all with their own random diet stories. It's not possible to say if I actually induced remission with my year on meat, or just had a random remission start at the same time, but he said that given the individual nature of the disease and our lack of understanding of the microbiome, anything's possible. Maybe in ten or twenty years, we'll be able to sample your gut and say, "Eat like this and you'll be fine." The science just isn't there yet.

He said that given my results I probably shouldn't bother coming in for another colonoscopy unless I had symptoms, but he's obligated to recommend a follow up given that I have a history. Keep doing what I'm doing, and call him if anything changes, but otherwise my colon looks like any other 32 year old colon. Not bad.

So, maybe in another three years I'll go get scoped again. We'll see. For now, though, I'm fine.

Eight years ago I decided to eat nothing but meat for a year. Now I have a perfectly normal colon. If those two events are indeed correlated, and someone could figure out exactly how, a whole lot of people would be able to find relief from a terrible disease. I hope that in twenty years, I'll be able to shutter this blog with a post saying, "They figured it out, go eat X and Y." But for now, it's all up to you to find the diet that works best. My approach might not work for you, but I'm betting there is an approach that will. Don't give up!