I decided to tell my story in order to give strength to other people, because there is nothing like learning from the experience of others.
I am Daniella, I am 37 years old and I live in Israel in Hod-Hasharon. I travelled to Australia and New Zealand for a year. I completed two degrees, got married and a year ago I became a mother when I gave birth. I now have a sweet one-year-old child. I currently work at Clalit Health Services as a clinical nutritionist specializing in gastroenterology, and I live a normal life apart from my having Crohn's Disease. I work full time and also am the sole caregiver for my son..
It all started in the army. As time passed, I lost more and more weight. As far as I was concerned, I ate as normally as did any female soldier. I will not deny and say that I wasn't happy about the weight loss. Because what adolescent girl does not want to shed a few pounds? Throughout the first year of the army, I suffered from diarrhea and abdominal pain. The military doctor said it was psychosomatic, and that I should try to be calmer.
At the end of my first year of military service and with the pressure of the service I had terrible stomach aches that after several months of endless investigations and tests led to the final diagnosis – Crohn's Disease.
My army service was cut short and I was released a year ahead of schedule. I did not understand what Crohn's was. To this day I remember what my first gastroenterologist said, the one who diagnosed me after a colonoscopy and informed me that I was ill. "It's a bloody disease but you can live with it" and indeed my relationship with the disease was complicated, I did not want to accept that I was ill, and that I needed to change the way I am living.
It took me 15 years, major surgery and innumerable hospitalizations and stomach pains to understand the crucial impact of diet on the disease.
As you probably remember, I started by saying that my life is completely ordinary, and that is certainly true. I do not remember that the disease ever prevented me from doing something I wanted to do. On the contrary, I can say that it guided the course of my life and made me into who I am today. Thanks to it I went on to study nutrition and enjoy the tremendous satisfaction of giving and helping other patients.
When I got married and started thinking about having a child, this gave me tremendous power to change. I came to Prof. Levin and began to maintain a change in diet and a healthy lifestyle. The disease was calmer after 2 month of exclusive enteral nutrition. It's not that I do not like food. I love food, and it's not easy for me to maintain optimal nutrition intake and it is not easy for my surroundings, but my son gives me the strength to keep the diet. I want to be strong enough to pick him up, to see him growing up and to hear his laughter.
In addition to being a mother and a partner, I work with IBD patients and aim to increase the nutritional awareness of inflammatory bowel disease. My contribution of being there for other patients, giving them the strength and belief that maintaining optimal nutrition is possible and that you can live a normal life with the disease gives me a lot of strength and satisfaction. Sometimes the patients are there for me and mostly I'm there for them. It's human to fall and get up, I'm there to help them get up and find the strength to persevere, to be stronger and healthier.
I wrote these words two years ago, and since than many changes have occurred in my life. I underwent a very complex operation. Today I do not work, as I am mainly busy treating myself (and my son) both in conventional and holistic medicine, nutrition, and meditations. In the meantime, the drugs are not working, and I cannot see myself undergoing another operation like the one I underwent 8 months ago. Following this second surgery, I went through the process of acceptance of the disease through all the stages – denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
After my 2nd operation, I was in full remission for 3 months and then I went back to work and I released my grip on a healthy lifestyle. I ate less well, slept less well and experienced many pressures at work and in my personal life. The disease reared its ugly head again and I felt exhausted and in need of a lot of rest, preferring not to bother myself with world affairs.
This is a new situation for me where I cannot do the things I want to do, cannot look after my child the way I want to and the way he needs. In addition, I want to expand my family and have another child, but my doctors have advised against this, while the disease has flared up. So, now I realize that acceptance of the situation by me and my immediate surroundings will enable a real change. Good nutrition habits have become an inseparable part of my daily life. I cook fresh food every day, with no preservatives or stabilizers; I take care to eat high-quality protein foods like fish several times a week and am gradually adding root vegetables. At the same time I do meditation, exercise, massages and Shiatsu. I have finally realized that I have a serious illness, that I am ill. I'll do anything to get better including giving up on one of my greatest pleasures, namely being able to eat whatever I want whenever I want