My name is Lorrie Rappe. I’m a 50 year “survivor” of Crohns disease, IBS, and chronic intestinal issues. I’ve been blessed with these health issues so I can share my journey of survival for those who have lost hope.
My whole life, as far back as I can remember, I had bowel issues - Usually constipation. I had a tough childhood and I seemed to carry my fears and anxiety in my “gut”. I always had to know where the bathroom was. When I was in college, I remember finding the most private bathroom on the 3rd floor of the Psychology building. I could sit as long as was needed without worrying about anyone needing the stall.
When I was 26, I had just given birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Around 2 months later, I was shocked when I started having bloody stools. This was very different than anything I had ever experienced before. After a few weeks, I knew something was seriously wrong. The pain was unbearable - it was as if I was experiencing childbirth all over again. I was terrified to eat anything cause I was fearful of the pain that would come within a few hours (I know some of you reading this can identify with those fears).
So, I went to the doctor - the first of 4 doctors that I would see over a grueling 6 months of the most painful, humiliating testing. This was in 1994, so the bowel testing was less dignifying as it is now (if you can call all those tubes and scopes dignifying). I had more scans, more scopes and more tests. Nothing! I was told it was IBS, spastic colon and, "here’s a medication that will calm it down". They even tested me for endometriosis and ovarian cysts. I asked for more testing because I knew something else was happening. I could literally identify the area on my intestines - when food passed through, it was like dragging a knife across my skin coupled with the most excruciating cramping that brought me to my knees.
Seven months later, they found it. They identified three inches of inflammation in the area where the small and large intestine attach (the illium) they called it Crohns disease and Illitis. Phew..they figured it out! At that moment, I was “labeled” with a diagnosis. Hopefully, this meant a solution. But no... their solution was 16 steroid pills per day - Drugs and more drugs! NO nutritional counseling, NO stress counseling. So, I took the 16 pills for one month – then I called the doctor and told him I felt awful and I’m not taking any more drugs. I felt worse then before and at this time I had a very active 9 month old. This isn’t how I pictured my first year of motherhood.
My doctor explained my new path would include drugs – bowel cancer in 10 years – surgery and a possible colostomy bag. At this time I was 27 years old, one of the youngest patients the doctor had seen with this diagnosis. So I had begun my family and he had me buried! I found myself feeling very sad and depressed for a week.
Then one day, I declared that I wanted another path for myself. This was NOT my destiny. This was 1994, there weren’t any “gluten free” products, no paleo books, no GOOGLE. I was on my own. Luckily, I had and still have the undying support of my husband. My battle was his battle. So I had stopped the drugs, threw away most of the food in the house and started preparing everything from scratch. I started by grounding up almonds (I made my own almond flour and meal) and this became the base of everything I cooked. You have to understand, I didn’t do this because I had free time. I had a baby AND a FULL TIME job. I did this because I’m a survivor and wasn’t accepting the label – death sentence or the bag! For those of you who know me, you know I’m pretty vain about wearing fitted clothing on my waist – so there was no room for a colostomy bag ... haha! Also, I’m pretty stubborn once I put my mind to something. I was not giving my daughter the destiny of having a sick mother and we actually wanted to try having another baby! It was time to get healthy! So for years, Grey and I explored lots of different ways of eating. I was on a rollercoaster ride for years. When we traveled, I didn’t eat so that I wouldn’t have to worry about the airplane bathroom. I had bathrooms scoped out everywhere we went. When mom said, "I have to go to the bathroom", everything stopped, whether we were at the mall or Disneyland. They waited patiently until I was done, whether it was 5 minutes or an hour. At this time, we had 2 children.
In 1996, we had our son Jake (by the way..my 2nd pregnancy was extremely painful as the baby put constant pressure on my inflamed intestines - he was a big baby). I actually had a flareup during delivery which hurt more then the actual delivery contractions. (for those of you who have chrons, colitis etc...you know how those cramps and flare ups feel like you are giving birth- they take your breath away and bring you to your knees).I’m sharing these details because I know there are many people who suffer QUIETLY with intestinal and stomach issues, whether it’s Crohns, Colitis, Diarhea, constipation etc – I want you to know that I understand.
It took around 10 years of exploring different eating to discover what foods flared me up and what doesn’t. And the huge realization that stress was worse then any food item! I’m happy to report that after 24 years I’ve found a wonderful formula of food/nutrition, supplements, exercise, hormone balance and stress management that keeps me in “remission”. Now, I won’t lie - once in a while, I have a flareup and I do a log immediately to identify what caused it so I can avoid it. But, I’m not scoping out the bathrooms the moment I walk into a new area.
5 years ago, my bloodwork showed I was anemic. My gynecologist (who delivered both my kids) insistedthat I get a colonoscopy to rule out an intestinal bleed. I did the colonoscopy and my GI doctor (who had to dig my file out of storage) was amazed that I wasn’t worse and didn’t have cancer ( he insisted that after 10 years I was 99% candidate for rectal and/or bowel cancer – so much so that my life insurance has me on the highest mortality rate. If you looked at me you would never guess how high my premiums are! I refuse to be labeled with anything but as a healthy female). Amazingly, he never asked me what I was doing to be so healthy! He simply offered the “newest miracle drug” (Yes, you’ve seen it - the one on TV that claims to manage Chrons disease –but could cause sudden death, cancer, problems breathing, heart disease...just to list a few) Hmm.... NO Thanks! I’ll continue to manage things on my own!
I appreciate you taking the time to read my story. You should know - I’m a really private person and I usually never share any of these details, but over the years of helping people I realize the importance in sharing my experience so others can have hope and know that I understand. Until you’ve had a “bathroom emergency” or “accident” or crippling pain – it’s hard to understand.
I’m here now - 25 years later - HEALTHIER NOW than ever. I follow the program that I teach - proper nutrition, exercise, hormone balance, daily supplements and daily stress management. My bloodwork looks awesome. My blood sugar is balanced, thyroid, cholesterol, iron, inflammation - all look good! I believe that my Chrons disease has been a gift, as it has blessed me with the opportunity to help others who need guidance, and help those who have lost hope. I wish that I had someone 25 years ago to guide me - so it is my personal passion to guide you and inspire and empower action towards regaining your health naturally. With patience and perseverance, we have a path for you.
I know what you are going through - I understand the fears and am here to tell you that there is HOPE. You don’t have to suffer alone! We are here to help guide you to optimum health you deserve!
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