October 20, 2017

My Story

My Story

In the summer of 2011 I successfully CURED myself of Ulcerative Colitis using self-administered Fecal Transplants in June and July 2011 stool donated from my roommate, a friend who I first met when he became a client of my dating coach business. This was after 12 years of the illness starting in 1999 just before my 21st birthday that brought me to the brink of surgery after every other treatment approach had been ineffective. Fecal transplants which are also known Fecal Microbial Transplant, Fecal Bacterial Therapy, and Human Pro-biotic Infusion.  I use the term fecal transplants because that is the term I first heard used for this when I first heard about it in 2011. I say CURED because I am still completely symptom-free without the use of any maintenance drugs, pro-biotics or highly restrictive diets like Gluten-Free or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD).

At the time I discovered this treatment option I had exhausted all other treatments I knew of and the only other option my doctor gave me was surgery. My GI doctor and a colorectal surgeon told me that my colon was gone, there would be too much scar tissue and the loss of elasticity was irreversible. I was told that continued treatment with medication would only prolong the suffering and expose me to more risks of complications from the illness and drug side effects. Risks included loss of bone density, secondary infections and diabetes from continued Prednisone use.  Continued inflammation brought an elevated risk of colon cancer too, so my doctors told me this was my only option.

The surgery I was going to have is called a “full colostomy with temporary diverting Ostomy and restorative Illeoanal Reservoir ” Basically I would have two surgeries, one to remove the colon and create a substitute colon or J-Pouch using part of my small intestine. Then end of my small intestine (stoma) would be diverted to an Ostomy bag on the outside of my body for several months to allow the J-Pouch to heal and then I would have a second surgery to reconnect the new J-Pouch to the anus. Each surgery would require weeks of recovery time, possibly 6 – 8 weeks.  After the second surgery I would have to re-learn how to control bowel movements and if all went as expected I would go to the bathroom 5 – 6 times a day for the rest of my life. That is if the J-Pouch did not get infected. There was still a significant chance of further complications and the need for continued monitoring for the rest of my life. While I was told surgery would cure my condition by removing the colon, I thought the cure sounded worse than the disease. While Colitis flares could be pretty bad, I did get better sometimes.

I find out about Fecal Transplants

In January 2011, two months before I was scheduled to have surgery, I read an article in Slate.com called “The Enema of my Enemy is my friend.”  The article documented several cases where fecal transplants were used to treat Pseudomembraneous Colitis caused by anti-biotic resistant Clostridium Difficile bacteria. While the article didn’t mention anything about Ulcerative Colitis which was not caused by a known pathogen it got me thinking. My initial flare of Ulcerative Colitis was resolved with the addition of the anti-biotic drug Cipro to my treatment regiment. Years later the anti-biotic Vancomycin caused an almost spontaneous remission while I was being treated for a severe skin infection related to my treatment with the immune suppressing drug Remicade. Since I had also had a degree of success using pro-biotics related to yogurt culture bacteria the fecal transplants made sense to me. I was also starting to get better as my surgery date approached, tapering off of Prednisone and healing with the help of protein shakes recommended by my colo-rectal surgeon. Still surgery was the recommended treatment option for me, although I was starting to have more doubts.

Then a few days before my surgery date my Mom handed me a print out of the Wikipedia entry for Ulcerative Colitis which linked to an article from the Journal of Gastroenterology which documented 6 cases of Ulcerative Colitis which had been successfully treated using fecal transplants.  The cases were all similar to mine in terms of how severe they had been and the process was well-documented.  I wondered how my doctors were unaware of this. Given this new information and the prospect of avoiding life-altering surgery which would have taken months, up to a year or more to recover from, I decided to give this a try first, knowing that I could always have surgery later if for some reason this didn’t work.

I called several doctors including Dr. Borody in Australia however they did not have any appointments available for months. Then I called the doctors from the Slate.com article here in the U.S., I talked to one of them however I would have to wait months before I could get an appointment with them to do the procedure. Then I spoke with a woman who had done fecal transplants at home with her son to cure his case of chronic illness.  So I decided to give it a try myself, all I needed to do was find a healthy donor.

Finding a donor 

I decided I wanted to stay in the Washington, DC area instead of going home to Florida closer to family to these, so I asked a friend of mine who had once been a client of my dating coach business. We met to go hiking by Great Falls and brought up the topic, he knew about my illness especially since it had caused me to poop my pants once when we were out I asked him to be my donor. I also suggested since I didn’t know how long it would take that we get an apartment together and become roommates. It would be fun, two bachelors, me in my early 30s and him in his late 20s, with the ultimate bachelor pad. He asked me is there anything invasive about the process and I said no. He said “so you just need my ____ (poop)? I wasn’t going to do anything with it anyway, so why not, if it will make you better.” I went through a donor history questionnaire that I had gotten from one of the doctors I talked to, it looked like he would be a good donor.

To put a long story short I ended up doing the fecal transplants for over a month and eventually added some medications to the mix to help further help the process.  After some initial improvement of symptoms followed by a flare I finally got the illness under control about 6 – 7 weeks after I had first started the fecal transplants. I went to the psychiatrist who was treating me for ADHD to see if he could help with sleep problems I was having which were caused by drug side effects from Prednisone. It turns out that there was more I could do. I asked for the anti-depressant drug Bupropion in the immediate release form after reading some patient success stories on the internet and about a drug company study where Wellbutrin was used to treat Crohn’s Disease. My doctor also prescribed Silenor for sleep but told me it would also help for IBS symptoms too including diarrhea. I did some research and it turns out that Silenor was a a low dose of the tri-cyclic anti-depressant drug Doxepin which was also sometimes prescribed to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome. So as I started tapering off of Prednisone at the same time I added the anti-depressant drugs to the mix, Bupropion and Doxepin to help treat diarrhea and inflammation treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, I also re-started taking Apriso (24 hour time released Mesalamine) and Mesalamine suppositories. The combination of all of these factors finally sent my symptoms into almost immediate remission by the end of the next day! I had a “normal” bowel movement, which for me was very abnormal after years of diarrhea, often with blood during a flare of the illness. About 6-7 weeks after this sudden and dramatic remission of symptoms, about 14 weeks after I had first started the fecal transplants, I had a colonoscopy revealed significant healing. My gastroenterologist was puzzled and struggled to find an explanation since he had told me that Ulcerative Colitis was incurable. However as I looked at the images it was clear to me, significant healing was occurring.

In summary I believe was helped cure me was a combination of the fecal transplants, protein shakes to facilitate tissue healing, anti-inflammatory properties of Wellbutrin (Bupropion,) successfully limiting diarrhea and muscle spasms.  I go into greater detail in my book on how to treat Ulcerative Colitis using Fecal Transplants. Feel free to ask any questions through comments here or send me an email.

Michael

hurstm78 at gmail dot com

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