Friday, March 11, 2016

Confessions of a Vegan Tubie Part 2 - Raw Vegan Failure?

Having a miraculous success story following my vegan transition truly provided a living testament about the positives that can result from veganism. People are drawn to various lifestyle choices that will benefit them, only passionate about the ethics or other effects much later. My story served as evidence of that through my major health improvements.

With only having my personal experience to speak of, I am aware that it is quite perplexing that my health immensely improved following raw veganism only to decline months later. I am aware that such a situation does not prompt one to hastily alter their entire viewpoint and lifestyle choices. So, where did I go wrong?

The answer to that is that I didn't.

April 2015 Vacation

My vegan journey began June 2014. By October, my feeding tube was removed. And once November rolled around, I was biking six miles when I could hardly walk just months before.

I have never been able to consume food without at least one symptom. That is just unheard of. So, although I did make improvements, I was never symptom-free. Things improved so much that I swore I was cured, though.

Over time, symptoms progressed gradually. The signs were subtle. I was too engaged in my new life and safe foods that I thought nothing of it. By January 2015, my "safe" food options permitted by my Mast Cell Disease and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome were not considered safe any longer. However, they were not resulting in severe symptoms. I dismissed it.

By March 2015, I was having sick days once again. The list of "safe" foods continued to grow shorter. All the while, my list of symptoms grew larger. I was progressing in the ways I originally did when my disease first became evident in 2010. It was as if the whole disease process was starting over.

Chia Pudding Trial While Inpatient
May 2015 serves as the month and year that my life changed forever. The hints my body had been giving me were not mild any longer. I woke up one morning sick as a dog and have not been the same since. The last 8 months of my life have been spent inpatient at the hospital. I have not successfully remained home for more than 24 days, consistently.

During that span of time, I have gone from tubeless back to tube feeds, boundless energy to bedbound, functional valedictorian student to losing my full ride scholarship to college, avid gym go-er to a wheelchair user, fit to emancipated, opposer of most medication to having multiple drugs running through a central line in my veins 24 hours a day.

October 2015 Feeding Tube + Central Line Placement

I am retelling my entire vegan journey to show that while I have witnessed sustained progress in multiple patients with similar diagnoses, what is successful for some may not always be for another. Even I am guilty of pushing veganism on others who face chronic illness only because I wanted everyone to experience the gains that I did. But genes are genes and not every disease is capable of ridding the body or never enduring setbacks by diet change alone.

February 2016: Such a Change From Early 2015

While my story may not be a convincing persuasion for veganism, there are numerous accounts that are. I am forever grateful to have been introduced to the vegan world of compassion, despite my health becoming an obstacle.

Veganism encompasses more than diet alone. Even when ill, all we can do is our best.

Be on the lookout for the ethical road blocks that a chronically ill vegan encounters.