For over 30 years, I have dealt with serious GI issues. At times, my quality of life suffered so much that all I could focus on was finding the next bathroom.
We’re bringing back our Parsley Health member stories where we hear from real patients, in their own words, about their incredible health journeys that changed their lives.
This week we talked to Tom Tittmann, who suffered from chronic GI issues which included multiple bowel movements each day, rectal pain, and bloody stools.
Keep reading to see Tom’s incredible story of how in 4 months he was able to recover from decades of damage and find a sense of well-being and freedom he hadn’t felt in years.
PH: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I just began my seventieth circuit around the sun where, in retirement, I’m enjoying the companionship of my wife of 39 years and our 29-year old son. We live on Long Island in West Hempstead, NY.
A few of my favorite life-giving/sustaining practices include: centering prayer, kundalini yoga, mantra music and related videos, daily walks, soaks in the tub, time in nature, sharing the journey with fellow seekers, appreciating the variety of spiritual experiences that enrich our world, spending time with young children, and fixing things.
PH: Tell us about your health story?
I came to Parsley in the summer of 2017 with over 30 years of GI issues, predominantly ulcerative colitis. Through these years I had been seen by both conventional and alternative medical practitioners. The mainstream doctors treated me with steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and immunosuppressives, while the alternative practice used various dietary regimens and supplements.
During the acute periods, it was not uncommon for me to have nearly 20 bowel movements of bloody diarrhea each day with moderate to severe rectal pain. When symptoms were really bad my quality of life suffered so much that all I could focus on was finding the next bathroom. In 2012 my colon had to be removed as it was trashed from years of inflammation due to colitis and the recurring C-difficile infections I contracted during several of my hospitalizations. I was fitted with a J Pouch (ileoanal pouch) and a new chapter was about to begin.
In time, I would be shown the truth of my situation – that when the surgeon removed my colon, he didn’t remove the cause of the disease but only the collateral damage it had inflicted. The disease was still safely “hidden” within me and looking to consume more body parts.
PH: How did you find Parsley Health and what made you decide to sign up?
As my symptoms were increasing to the point of needing two emergency-room visits for GI bleeding within a week of starting at Parsley, I was becoming more and more frustrated that conventional medicine could offer me nothing more than drugs – such as gut biome-destroying antibiotics and immunosuppressives – that negatively affected my body’s ability to heal itself.
Furthermore, they didn’t know what to make of my claims that my thoughts and emotional life were major causes of my stress and the presenting symptoms. Despite this frustration, I had hope that there might be another way.
This hope created an openness that led me online to a TEDMED video about functional medicine. When I mentioned it to my family, my son shared that he had first learned about this emerging field while listening to a February 2017 Luke Storey podcast with Parsley founder Robin Berzin. After viewing several other videos, I had a “gut feeling” that this was to be my next step and we decided to give the Parsley approach a try.
Learn how Parsley can get to the root cause of your digestive issues.
PH: How was your experience at Parsley different?
As I continue to meet with my doctor Lilli Link and health coach Jackie Damboragian, I realize that they are looking beyond the presenting symptoms and the affected body parts to learn more about the whole person that they are treating. I like that they listen compassionately and with interest to the importance I give to the “non-medical” parts of my life that I believe are affecting my health, particularly the psycho-spiritual dimensions. These aspects were never appreciated by my mainstream providers.
I was initially put on an autoimmune protocol (AIP) whereby I was tested for common offending foods and the common offenders were removed from my diet for 90 days. I’m just now at the point of reintroducing these foods.
My health coach helps keep me on track. The frequency of our meetings is key to quickly addressing any issues that arise so that I’m better able to stay with the program. One of the ways she does this is by suggesting tasty new foods to make up for the favorites I have had to stop while on the AIP protocol. This helps motivate me to continue when my own attempts at self-motivation are failing. She also reminds me of priorities such as getting enough sleep when I’m tempted to give in to my addiction to doing and keeping busy.
PH: How do you feel differently now than you did before?
At a little over 4 months since the beginning with Parsley, my GI health is the best it’s been in years. I first realized this about 6 weeks ago after being out of the house all day without being worried if I’d find a bathroom when I needed it. This has given me an amazing feeling of well-being and of freedom! The “bottom” line is that I’m having fewer daily bowel movements, bleeding has stopped, overnight fecal incontinence has stopped and my stools are more well-formed than are typical for a person with a J Pouch.
I was becoming more and more frustrated that conventional medicine could offer me nothing more than drugs, which negatively affected my body’s ability to heal itself.
PH: How has your improvement in your health impacted the rest of your life?
My GI issues have been a gift as it continues to force me to look beyond the presenting symptoms to find the real causes of my disease. I’m learning to see that how I do something is more important than what I actually do. It’s helped me ask “Am I rigid and controlling or relaxed and open to new ways of doing things?” in many areas of my life.
PH: What do you think really made the difference for you at Parsley?
I believe that how I used the helpful tools Parsley provided (such as the latest tests, supplements, and nutrition plans, and supportive relationships with my doctor and health coach) was more important than the specific tools themselves.
See, I initially planned to do the prescribed protocols the old rigid, controlling, perfectionistic way – MY way – complete with spreadsheets to track everything I did, so that I obsessively followed each recommendation to the “T”, recording every burp, fart and hiccup that occurred throughout each day. But I was shown another way that helped me let go of trying to control all outcomes.
My family and the Parsley team encouraged me to relax my attempts at control my GI issues and instead to trust the process enough to allow my inner wisdom to guide me in how to apply the recommendations I was being offered.
Anything else you would like to share?
I want to emphasize the necessity of taking responsibility for doing the inner work that serves as a foundation for optimal health when working with professionals like those at Parsley. Don’t expect others to do this for you – they can’t.
As I travel this new road, I’m realizing the need to unlearn beliefs and associated behaviors that no longer serve my well-being. One of these false beliefs is that caring for myself is selfish. In its place, I’m being invited to learn how to care for myself so that I’ll be enabled to care for those around me. One of the ways I’m investing in me is through my Parsley membership. Try it for yourself! Trust the process!
Want to read more amazing transformational health stories?
This post is part of a series of incredible transformational health stories our members have shared with us. Read about how a whole-body approach and a doctor that works to understand the root cause of your symptoms has helped others cure Chron’s Disease, chronic migraines, and even a severe auto-immune disease.