Frank Fraser: Letter to the Editor

Frank Fraser: Letter to the Editor2016-11-30T11:39:28+00:00

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all”

Emily Dickinson

It came seemingly out of the blue. We take our good health as a given each day without question or thankfulness; yet all else in life is dependent upon it and the joyous world all around us. I was fit and full of vigour one day and seriously ill the next, so ill that I was taken aback confused and very unnerved. The trigger for my autoimmune disease is unknown, which makes my situation all the more humbling and shattering. I know that the medical establishment is not omniscient, but when your doctors have no idea what is wrong with you or how to help you, then life feels very precarious indeed. Medical specialists and family might surround you, but you realize quickly that you face this medical threat alone, on your own terms. It took years for me to discover effective treatments, and I didn’t find complete relief until I found one specific natural health product. It could help you as well. How did I get to this point? I sat crouched over and wracked by pain and cramping with large amounts of blood in my stool. This was the beginning of a battle, and I had no idea how it would end or where it would lead me. My unfamiliar and threatening descent into ill health began in the spring of 2004 after taking a strong antibiotic prescribed to my wife and then to myself. It took months for the doctors to suggest a likely diagnosis – ulcerative colitis. They initially felt I had developed Clostridium difficile colitis or inflammation of the large intestine, which tends to occur following antibiotic treatment for another infection. My doctors prescribed prednisone for this, which I heard can be a miracle drug for many ailments, but the science behind the relief remains elusive in many cases.

As the summer of 2004 progressed, I was still seriously ill but determined to provide my family with some summer vacation time. We took our tent trailer on a camping trip to the Rocky Mountains. By this time, my feet swelled like melons from the side effects of prednisone and I felt extremely weakened. So, when I attempted to collapse the tent trailer for the return trip home, I had no strength to do it. I refused to believe this, so I continued to try to complete the task on my own in vain. Finally, my wife couldn’t bear the sight any longer and beckoned help from the next campsite. We had befriended a group of vacationing police that were the epitome of health and strength. They quickly collapsed the tent trailer with good humour and robust fitness. I was left thankful and chastened. This was just another humbling experience that I was becoming to realize was my new way of being.

In late August that year, I attended a scheduled appointment with my gastroenterologist. She took one look at me and immediately said, “Frank, you are not leaving this hospital. You are deathly ill and require urgent medical intervention.” I was shocked, but deep down not surprised by the situation. I was struggling mightily to remain engaged in the day-to-day world and continue working. I underwent surgery on September 2, 2004 with the complete removal of my large intestine. Later, the diagnosis changed to Crohn’s disease. I now take a weekly dosage of Humira® by self-injection pen. This relatively new biologic drug is my miracle drug. It keeps my symptoms under control to a large degree. I still experience bouts of diarrhea, cramping, and gas. When I started to feel this way, I asked my specialist if there was any other treatment available. My specialist said that some patients had experienced good results with a powerful probiotic called VSL#3®. It is unlike other probiotics that come in a pill and a dry formula. This probiotic requires refrigeration at all times. I took it three times a day for the first month and now once a day to maintain a healthy gut flora. I have found this probiotic in conjunction with Humira® helpful. I never have a completely symptom free day, but the severity of the symptoms is greatly diminished. We have two children and I fight every day to stay active and able to work. You can continue to have quality of life and enjoy the wonders of this world even with some form of inflammatory bowel disease. It takes a new attitude and new way of living your life.



Frank W. Fraser

First published in the Inside Tract® newsletter issue 193 – 2015