The Road that Led to my Illness
1984 • BIRTH I wasn't always this stoked on Juice to say the least. I actually hated fruits and vegetables growing up. I'm pretty sure I was born with a spoon in my hand because I've always had an odd obsession with cereal. All types. Fruit Loops, Corn Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Captain Crunch. If it had sugar it was my jam. My family had no shortage of this tasty stuff. I didn't have a ton of money growing up and living off McDonalds 5 days a week was not out of the norm. I was a super active kid. I played every sport there was and was probably a little too competitive. Every baseball game I played was accompanied with a Snickers and a Gatorade from my mom, and I loved it. Pretty standard routine for most kids I suppose.
1998 • Teens By the time I was a teenager it became totally normal if I wouldn't drink a glass of water, eat a vegetable, or have anything remotely resembling real living food for over 6 months. I lived on gallons of milk, 6 sodas a day, pizza, donuts, candy, and anything else that tasted great to a kid my age. I had no idea that my life would be directly effected by these disastrous early life habits.
2003 • Young Dude In my early adulthood I was broke and scraping by so my buddy Andy and I would do these clinical drug studies on weekends where we would test pharmaceutical drugs for cash. It was quick and easy money and would let us get by for a few more weeks of riding bmx bikes, partying, and taking road trips. I grew up working my butt off with tons of different jobs, however nothing was as sweet as getting a check for 500 bucks for hanging out and watching movies and popping some pills to test their side effects.
We signed up to do a week long study that tested a pretty extreme over the counter drug that paid 2000 bucks. We were required to do blood tests to make sure we were healthy enough to be a part of the study and a long story short, my tests came back that said I was Anemic and I was not allowed to partake in the study. The doctor asked what my diet was and I told him Cereal, Bread, and Soda. He told me to rethink my diet and start eating better. I didn't listen.
During this time I was learning how to be an adult, have fun, explore ideas, and consume every type of drug and alcohol known to man from about 2003-2010. Traveling, partying, and eating terrible was my life. I started to notice I wasn't feeling like superman anymore. I stopped rebounding after all night bingers and drinking became a lot harder to mix with my career. Reality check started to set in.
2007 • Mid 20's I slightly started to learn how to cook, learned what vegetables didn't taste like death, and forced myself to grow up a little more over the next 5 years. I moved to Colorado in 2005 and became obsessed with snowboarding. I Became a full time photographer. I Traveled all over the world snowboarding, surfing, and shooting photos. By the time I was 28 I was feeling pretty stoked on life.
2009 • A TURN FOR THE WORSE On my second surf trip to Central America I drink some dirty tap water and got a really bad stomach bug. I spent a few days puking and crapping and returned home feeling slightly better. I went to the doctor, he put me on a broad spectrum antibiotic and my stomach bug cleared up. A month later is when my decline as a human being started happening. Over the next couple years I continued to party, eat crappy food, and travel a lot. My stomach issues started developing more each month. I thought I was just developing food allergies. I began to get stomach pains really randomly. Once a month I would experience a bad bout of what I thought was food poisoning and be curled up puking on the toilet for a day or two.
2012 • CLEAN LIVING Later that year I decided that my life was catching up with me and I was going to have major issues if I didn't switch things up. I quit drinking, smoking, and pretty much stopped going out. I bought a juicer and started juicing. I learned how to cook vegetables, experimented with raw goat milk and grass fed organic meats, and started to be more conscious about the food I was putting in my mouth. Although I still had no idea really what a healthy diet was, I thought that since I wasn't eating candy or McDonalds I was eating healthy. By this time I was eating lots of meat, eggs, cheese, and milk, but was now eating less bread and pasta and soda and started to eat some fruits and vegetables in the form of smoothies and juices. I started working out and taking protein shakes. I put back on some weight and was actually feeling pretty strong. Digestion was still on the decline however.
2013 By this point my stomach was getting pretty bad. I was really tired all the time, but I was managing, and still living pretty well. I remember this one time I spent the weekend partying, drove 8 hours in a blizzard, loaded up my snowmobile and sledded 20 miles into the backcountry to the base of a 14,000ft mountain. I pitched a tent over night, woke up at 2am, hiked for 6 hours to the top of the mountain, got about 30 minutes from the top just after sunrise, puked for 20 minutes, crapped my pants, cried a little..... all while hanging onto the side off a cliff with one hand holding an ice axe, and the other hand cutting out my underwear with a pocket knife and stashing them in the snow. I pulled my shit together, finished the hike to the summit, and snowboarded down. WTF! That actually seemed pretty normal to me at the time. I still had more good days then bad and I thought my food intolerances and days puking were just part of a normal adult life. I went on another surf trip, got sick again, lost a ton of weight within a few days, and was put on another antibiotic. I returned home and symptoms continually got worse. I was now coming to terms that there was something seriously wrong with me and I needed to make a change.
2014 • Moving To California
I packed up my life after spending a decade of doing the back and forth yearly bounce between Colorado in the winter and Woodward, PA in the summer. I moved to the beach near San Diego to balance my love for surfing and photography. Up until this year I would make a ton of money shooting photos, then go on a couple of month long surf vacations and blow it all. I really wanted to find a balanced life where I could surf every morning, work in commercial photography everyday, and not have to blow all my savings on surf trips. I needed a healthy routine and a healthy platform for creativity and hobby, daily. Obviously the west coast was the best of both worlds. I started working for Transworld Snowboard magazine, got on a retainer with a marketing agency based in Colorado, and started booking tons of random freelance gigs. I was traveling atleast 3 weeks out of every month and life was good. I was checking off stamps in my passport, creating a lot of new images, and making a lot of great friends along the way. However I just kept getting sicker.
2015 After a couple years of doing this travel grind my stomach was starting to effect my life. I was now puking atleast once or twice a week. I got insanely bloated after I ate anything, and I was getting really depressed. I was laying in bed a lot now and enjoying life was getting to be nearly impossible. Somehow I was still working, and was managing to pull my shit together every time I had a photoshoot. However my days off were mostly spent trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. I was spending a lot of days between gigs laying in bed, feeling sick, and doing research on the internet.
I finally sucked it up, got some cheap health insurance, and started getting test after test after test. All the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me and were telling me it could be a mental disorder. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Im a normal, happy young dude. I knew it was either a food issue, or a stomach issue. I was definitely not crazy. After spending months and months doing every test I could, I finally did one that showed I was positive for SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). I was pretty stoked to have an answer finally. The doctor put me on some more antibiotics for two weeks and didn't mention anything about changing my diet. The next day I flew to South America for two back to back photoshoots. After the first day there, I knew something was wrong. I was having terrible gut pains, and was extremely bloated even worse than before. The mornings were ok, but about 3 hours after eating breakfast I was miserable. Everyone in the crew would spend the evenings socializing and drinking, and I would be laid up in bed dying. Still, somehow I was managing to get my job done during the day long enough to get back to the hotel room to camp out and wait out the alien living inside my intestines causing me agonizing pain.
2016 I met a wonderful girl, fell in love and stopped traveling as much. I was still getting sicker by the day but my new home life was pretty awesome. Up until this point I had never stayed in the same place for more then a few weeks. During this time I also dove headfirst into learning everything I could about SIBO. It opened up a new world to how food effects your gut bacteria and your body. I spent every waking second I could reading books, watching videos, and reading health forums looking for answers trying to heal myself. I was still working, being social and trying to be a good partner, but it was really taking its toll on me. Having a couple of really close friends and my lady where crucial for my mental stability during this time. I was slowly beginning to cope with the fact that I was totally screwed and needed to learn how to live with being sick all the time. Without a partner to support me and encourage me to remain positive and not jump off a bridge, I honestly don't know if I would be here today.
2017 • The year of Experiments
During the next year I became my own test dummy. Doctors didn't know much about what SIBO was or how to treat it. There were only a few things that people were told would help treat SIBO. Antibiotics, Low Carb/ Sugar Diet, or an elemental liquid diet fast. I tried them all. Multiple times.
Here are the basics of some of my experiments:
• 3 rounds of Antibiotics for two weeks each - Xifaxin/Neomycin This helped the first time, but after a week my bloating and puking returned.
• Absorb Plus elemental liquid diet - 3 weeks in length. Did this twice. Was probably the hardest thing I ever did up until that point. Not eating food was pretty unbearable. I felt great while on it, and my bloating went away mostly, but got worse after I was off of it.
• FODMAP DIET - 4 months
• SCD Diet - 2 months
• FTD Diet - 2 months
• Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free - 2 months
• Paleo Diet - 3 months
• Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, Raw Dairy diet - 2 months - This was brutal
• Blended and Pureed Soup Diet - 3 months
This was all over the corse of about 1.5 years and nothing really seemed to be making me feel better. Sometimes, I would have days with less symptoms, and I would think the diet is working, then it would be followed by days of puking and feeling like I was going to die. So I wasn't really getting anywhere.
I had multiple endoscopies and colonoscopies that all showed that I was fine.
2017 • October After a pretty brutal half a year of juggling a new homelife, still traveling and shooting photos a bit, and experimenting with so many different diets and fasts, I was starting to loose my mind. I was now severely bloated all the time. Like visibly bloated. It looked like there was a grapefruit in my lower stomach that would move around for 12-24 hours until the food and air would pass. Some days were ok, most were bad, and some were just outright brutal. Atleast once a week I would get so sick that after I would spend a day puking, I wouldn't be able to eat or even have a sip of water for 36 hours till everything passed out of my body. I was becoming reliant on these pre digested Absorb Plus shakes and I was hardly eating, loosing a ton of weight, energy, and almost my sanity. I was eating mostly white rice, chicken and eggs. Everything I was reading was saying to stay away from raw fruits and vegetables, and that fiber and fermentable sugars where causing all my symptoms. My personal life was starting to fall apart. I wasn't hanging out with friends anymore. I pretty much shut down all forms of communication with the outside world that wasn't work related. Still gotta pay the bills ya know. I was becoming pretty hopeless, and was now spending every waking second reading more and more books on how the body works, and what food does to you.
I was on the verge of collapse. I started having suicidal thoughts. I became very very distant from everyone I knew, and I really didn't have much hope anymore. Being debilitatingly bloated is no way to live. I usually weighed in at around 165. I was now down to 135. I felt weak, fatigued, depressed, lazy, un-passionate, so incredible foggy in the brain, and had lost my drive to pretty much do anything or even live.
I however never gave up on trying to find a cure for my problem. The only thing I really had any motivation to do was to research, read, watch and listen to health professionals, and people that have been sick with gut issues before. I became a professional in SIBO, SIBO Diets, and elemental liquid diet fasting. Every doctor I was going to seemed like an infant in their knowledge on how the small intestines worked. Most had never even heard of SIBO. I was pretty tired of spending a fortune going to GI doctors and informing them on what the hell this disease is and how nothing they are doing is helping. There was only a handful of doctors in the world that specialized in SIBO and I had already been to the number one place in LA, only to be let down. They basically signed me up for more pills, just like the book says to do. I was starting to morn the loss of my past life as a happy, active, and adventurous person and was starting to look for new ways to cope with being sick and finding happiness within that.
2017 • November I decided to take a chunk of the winter off and invest in my health. I had saved up enough cash to either live for a year or put a down payment on a house. I knew it was time to get my shit together before I was dead. Work always came 1st. No matter what. I had never missed a day shooting, let a client down, or didn't deliver, even if I was in agonizing pain. But I just couldn't do it anymore. I wasn't really able to be too active and was getting weaker by the day. I did a handful of photo gigs just to get by, but was starting to really concentrate on finding a daily routine that consisted of working out, researching, and trying to experiment more with different types of foods that I could tolerate, which there wasn't one single food that I could eat without getting severely bloated. I was starting to realize that if I didn't take a large chunk of time off to heal then I wasn't going to live to see old age, much less my 40's. I went on a mostly blended and pureed soup diet for a few months, with a little chicken, and eggs. I actually started feeling a little better by not having much solid food. By January I was starting to function again. I was working a bit here and there and traveling a little bit. I was still struggling hard core but was starting to see a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
Crohn's Disease, Hospital Bills, And Tiny Cameras
I busted out a really busy month in February working and being on the road, which I wasn't going to do, but I was feeling decent enough to work so I booked some jobs. I came back home and decided to get another test. I had done 4 colonoscopies by this point, which one had failed, punctured my colon, and had me bleeding out gallons of blood through my rectum a couple years prior during a photoshoot in Lake Tahoe. That was hell BTW. I decided to do a capsule endoscopy. This is where you swallow a really small camera the size of a pill and it shoots a photo every second while it travels all the way from your mouth to your anus. This was obviously pretty hilarious to do considering my profession. So I swallowed this pill, and a few days later when it should have come out I realized it was nowhere near coming out. I hadn't pooped in several days and thought there might be something majorly wrong. A few more days went by and it still hadn't come out yet. I had a big meal one morning, ended up becoming insanely bloated and nauseous and spent the whole next 2 days puking. By this time I was a professional at vomiting so I didn't think too much of it. But something didn't feel right. I went to the ER and told them I thought the pill camera was stuck. I wasn't pooping or passing gas, and was puking up Bile. Life was not chill at this point.
I Spent the next 3 days in the ER. By day 2 I started going to the bathroom finally and my bloating went away. It was obvious I had a partial, but not full obstruction somewhere along my intestinal tack. I was put on IV steroids, and was being pumped full of fluid so I felt pretty awesome. The doctor said the pill would eventually pass. I told him I didn't believe him. I demanded a CT scan as all of the stuff I had been reading about for months made me almost 100% certain I had Crohn's Disease and an inflamed small intestine. They did a CT scan and boom there it was. A pill camera that was lodged in my body and a bunch of inflamed areas and fistulas in my intestines.
I have Crohn's Disease.
Having come to terms with the fact that I probably had Crohn's disease several months earlier it wasn't much of a shock. The doctor gave me the options of staying on the steroids, taking immune suppressing chemotherapy drugs and taking the risk of possibly dying from the side effects, or having the damaged part of my intestines surgically cut out. Those are my only options? WTF! I spent the rest of the day in the hospital freaking out and trying to figuring out what to do. BTW, the food I was eating in the hospital was ice cream, jello, minute maid orange juice, sprite, and chicken broth.
I woke up in the middle of the night and had an epiphany. The one thing that i hadn't really tried yet was a juice or water fast. By this point I was getting really skinny and was scared that I would loose too much weight and hadn't even considered it. I had known that a liquid diet was helping with symptoms, however the liquid elemental diet I was taking was full of chemicals, fake sugars, and overall terrible stuff to consume to help heal your body. It was giving my digestion a break from solids but was defenitely not healing my body.
THE GERSON THERAPY - I googled " How to cure Crohn's Disease with Juice" while still laying in my hospital bed and came across the Juice Man. Then I found a guy named Paul Nison who cured himself from Crohn's on a raw fruit and vegetable diet. I then stumbled upon a documentary called the Gerson Miracle that night in the hospital, and it changed my life. I am actually getting chills now writing about this beautiful moment that saved my life... It was like I walked through a different door stepping into a whole new world that I had never heard about, and was honestly very angry that I had never hear about this.
The next day I got the hell out of the hospital, went home, and spent a solid week learning about what the Gerson Therapy was and how it could help my condition. I then started learning about the healing powers of fruit and vegetable juice for ALL diseases, not just Crohn's disease. I pulled out my juicer, and started juicing.
Question EVERYTHING Every Gastro I had been to told me diet does not effect IBD IBS or really any disease, and that what I ate does not matter. They all just said try to eat healthy. They told me I would eventually need to get on some sort of drug or have some sort of surgery. Things were just not adding up. Every doctor I was reading about who was curing patients of their autoimmune diseases were saying that actually the #1 thing that effects your disease is the food. And mostly, consuming any type of animal product. I learned how the body becomes systemically inflamed after becoming acidic, and toxic, and then it starts to break down. Crohn's disease is just a symptom of bodily systemic inflammation and toxicity. I came across the idea that there are not 1000 diseases, but 1 disease, and the labels for them are all just symptoms of the body breaking down because of lifestyle factors. Other symptoms of this could be Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Heart Disease, Obesity, Cancer, etc. etc. etc. This started to become a huge worm hole of conspiracy, cover up, and misguided public information.
I became obsessed with learning how the body works, repairs, and heals... learning how to personally function again, and learning how to live a normal life while doing this juice therapy. I have been so removed from being a normal person that I began to feel like an alien. I finally got the pill camera taken out after being stuck in the middle of my intestines for 4 months. I think I might be one of a handful of people to have had a pill camera stuck in them for more then a few weeks. Ironic isn't it? By this time I was feeling very very good. I felt like I was on the road to recovery. I had been doing a mix of juice, elemental shakes, homemade jello and maybe once a week scrambled eggs. Even knowing that eggs were toxic to my healing. I was starting to feel a lot better, but every time I would have a food binge breakdown I would crack and eat a dozen scrambled eggs, a tub of homemade jello, and I would lay in bed the whole next 2 days in pain. This was a turning point.
2018 July I knew what I needed to do but giving up food completely and changing everything I knew about my eating habits my whole life was going to be pretty hard to fix over night. Cravings, Cravings, Cravings. Chicken wings, Ice cream, Sandwiches, cookies, pasta, pizza, all the stuff I used to know had to be out of my life and gone forever. This was the stuff that brought me to where I am. All the training over the last couple years with fasting was great, but I was still having really bad cravings. One day I woke up and decided that the only way I would live to be an old man was to dive in fully, no cheating, no over eating and do the juice life 100%. I went a full month of drinking nothing but cold pressed fresh organic juice. Within that month I noticed some incredible things happening. I started pooping out tons of parasites, mucoid plaque, and long gross looking things you would think where from a science fiction movie. I was getting acne all over my face, chest and back, and I was getting really terrible headaches that would keep me up all night. I was pooping A LOT. Which was awesome as I had been constipated for years, and also weird since all I was consuming was juice. But I was SOOOO STOKED! Everything I had been learning about disease was all about DETOX. Your body starts to break down from the build up of toxins and cause all sorts of diseases. In order to fix your body you simply flush the toxins out, and you heal. It really is that simple. I felt like crap and I couldn't have been happier!!!! I knew this was working. This first round of detox lasted about 3 weeks, nearing the end of this phase is when reality struck in. I woke up one day feeling so alive, so happy, so clear, so motivated, and so inspired to live again. I had so much energy I didn't know what to do with. I went surfing. I worked out. I shot photos. I ran errands. I hung out with my girlfriend and our cat. I had a hard time falling asleep because I just felt so good.
2019 • February • The Next Chapter
It has now been over 8 months since I have been feeling alive again. Almost everything in my body has started to regenerate. My mind is crystal clear. I have incredible concentration and focus, my energy levels are off the charts from the time I wake up till the time I go to sleep, and I am so incredibly happy again. I feel more alive then I have in my whole life and I truly feel that the nutrition I have been getting from this juice has started changing my cellular structure. I used to need atleast 10 hours of sleep to even halfway function and now if I sleep for 5 hours I feel like a champion. My digestion is starting to work again!!! and I am nowhere near as bloated as I was before. I have a long road ahead of me as healing any gut related issue can take years, even longer then severe Cancers, but... I am fully operational again, super motivated to live, Inspired as hell to create images and really excited to spread my story and pass along the knowledge I have learned that has helped me. It is 100% possible to heal your body from almost any degenerative disease.
What you eat really effects your life and what your gut is doing directly effects how your brain works. Let google be your best friend. Learn from the health professionals who abandoned the western medicine way of thinking, getting nowhere in truly healing their patients, and take your health and nutrition into your own hands. It is not normal to feel sick. It is not normal to get Cancer, Obesity, Diabetes or Heart Disease. It is not normal that over half of Americans take a prescription pill everyday. The western world is eating a diet not suitable to sustain health, and this is why we are all getting sick. The standard way of thinking is that disease is in your genes. However all the evidence and research not funded by big industry points to the fact that nutrition is what turns on or off these genes and sickness is lifestyle based. You develop your parents eating patterns. The most important thing you can do to directly effect your future and your health, and the longevity of your life, is to start being aware of what you put into and onto your body. Disease is preventable and curable if you give yourself the diet that was meant for humans. Raw, Alive, and Plant-Based. If you or someone you know has a disease they are stuggling with, or if you want to learn more about what Im doing or how I got here, feel free to browse around this site, my instagram, or my youtube channel or shoot me a message. I am an open book. I have been blessed with making it out alive through this tragic period in my life. I've been totally beat down to near death and I am now standing on the other side with a positive outlook on life and an incredible passion to spread my experience to people who want to help heal themselves. The future now shines bright and I'm ready to take on the world again. Thanks for reading my journey and I wish you success on living a healthy and happy life.