Health Update: Why I Attended A Clear Passage Clinic for my Crohn’s Disease
I rarely go into too much detail on the blog about my current state of health but a lot has happened this year so thought it was worth a post or two.
I’ve suffered with my stomach since I was in my teens. Told that it was ‘probably just IBS’ I put up with the bloating, spasms and vomiting for about 20 years until I finally got diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in November 2011.
Since then I’ve been taking a light medication (Imuran 25mg a day) and have drastically changed my diet and lifestyle to help with the management of the disease.
I’ve been tinkering with my diet since my diagnosis, firstly going off gluten and dairy and most foods that showed up on an intolerance test I did (out of 200 foods tested, I was intolerant to 80). That got me so far. Then I came across the paleo diet and did a Whole 30 (no grains, legumes, dairy, gluten, alcohol, refined oils, refined sugar). That gave me a little improvement but it was when I went AIP (paleo without eggs, nightshades, nuts and seeds) that I got the greatest result. And for a few months I was doing really well until I started to get bloating again every day along with a feeling that something was festering inside.
I asked to be referred for a test to see if I had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) as I had been researching what could be happening to me and sure enough the test was positive. I was put on an antibiotic and sent on my way. But the trouble with SIBO is that if the root cause of the overgrowth isn’t addressed, it can keep coming back. To help prevent it rearing its ugly head again I had learnt from the research that a Low Fodmap diet combined with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet can prove useful so I started doing those diets combined with AIP. This has helped me manage the SIBO and Crohn’s over the last year or so but it’s very restrictive and it makes it extremely difficult to eat out or travel.
This year I noticed that despite my best efforts with diet and lifestyle I started to get the old spasms again with a greater frequency that the last few years. While I know what to do when I get the spasms (don’t eat, just drink liquids etc), they are very unpleasant and there’s always a chance of perforation which can be fatal. I’m lucky as I’ve never been admitted into hospital but my consultant thinks that’s more to do with my high pain threshold and stoicism rather than my disease not being that bad. I guess I’ve just been managing for so long that I just keep managing.
My consultant thought it was time to get another MRI scan done earlier this year and it showed that the scar tissue in my small intestines had gotten narrower. While there’s a lot of things that Crohn’s patients can experience, it seems my ‘thing’ is strictures (narrowing of the intestines) which can lead to bowel obstructions which was the cause of my spasms and vomiting. Strictures are also probably the cause of my SIBO. Food can’t get through the intestine (or takes longer) due to the narrowing and therefore can start to ferment in a place in the gut it’s not supposed to (hence the overgrowth of bacteria there).
I get routine bloods done every couple of months and have been showing this year that certain nutrients are pretty low – in particular iron and albumin. I also have low hormones and amenorrhoea which I saw an endocrinologist about who believed it was due to a low BMI. While my BMI is low it’s not under what it should be. I believe it is more a case of the scar tissue not allowing nutrients be absorbed resulting in the low nutrients and low hormones etc which then have the knock-on effect of fatigue, achy, tired legs and the amenorrhoea.
I was referred to a surgeon earlier this year who wanted to take out over 30cm of my ileum including the ileocecal valve and then do stricture-plasty (slice my intestines open and stitch them up again in a different way to give them a little stretch) in about five other places. He told me I’d be off work and not allowed to drive for about two months.
Whaaaaaaat???? This sounded really serious. I think for the first time since my diagnosis it really dawned on me how serious this disease can be. I always thought I was a mild case and that eventually it would go away once I got the diet and lifestyle stuff figured out. But even though I had been doing everything ‘right’, the scar tissue had gotten worse.
What I was most concerned about was the removal of the ileocecal valve. It’s a valve between the small and large intestine that makes sure there’s no back flow from the large intestine into the small amongst other things. This can lead to SIBO (there’s nothing to keep bacteria out of the small intestine) and chronic diarrhoea. When I asked about these ‘side effects’ of surgery I was told there would be a medication I could take that would help me to manage it. As I don’t even like taking the Imuran every day the thoughts of adding another med didn’t thrill me.
Surely there had to be a more natural way of healing internal scar tissue that wouldn’t involve slicing me up? There are ways of healing scar tissue on the outside of the body, why not the inside too? Maybe some supplements I could take or some exercises I could do?
I guess I’m lucky as I had time to research my options. A lot of people have to have emergency surgery as it’s a case of life or death. But every time I had a spasm I would worry that this would be the one that would have me on the operating table.
While researching I came across Clear Passage and the Wurn Technique®, – a non-surgical, drug-free treatment which is a unique hands-on physio/physical therapy modality, developed over 20 years by Belinda Wurn, PT, and Larry Wurn, LMT.
From their website I learnt that adhesions are powerful bonds that the body produces to help injured tissues heal. Once healing has occurred, adhesions remain in the body, often binding tissues that were previously free to move naturally. When this happens, pain and dysfunction are the natural result. There is a wide-variety of adhesion-related conditions including female infertility, endometriosis, hormonal conditions, post-surgical pain, and bowel obstructions.
Bowel obstructions? This had me really interested now. I had to learn more.
While doing more research on Clear Passage I came across a podcast with Dr Allison Siebecker (siboinfo.com) about SIBO and how the Wurn Technique was being endorsed as a possible way of helping if the root cause was bowel obstructions.
So Clear Passage could help deal with small bowel obstructions and help the root cause of my SIBO without surgery. If they could help with the scar tissue, maybe I’d be able to absorb more nutrients again. It sounded exactly what I had been hoping to find but was it too good to be true? I found out that although Clear Passage are based in the US, they do have two locations in the UK which would be a short flight from Ireland.
Feeling quite hopeful (but still a little sceptical) I got in touch with them to see if they could indeed help me! In my next blog post, I’ll talk about my experience with Clear Passage.