Talisha and her daughter, Ariella
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to ‘meet’ (online and over the phone) this gorgeous young woman who is absolutely vibrant with energy and cheerfulness. You would never guess that only one and a half years ago, she was so sick with Crohn’s disease that her doctors said her only option was to have her large intestines removed and a colostomy bag installed.
Talisha has been on a very difficult journey with her health and has come out the other side strong and smiling. Her journey and her beautiful little girl have together inspired her to develop a great product, “Little Mashies.” I was so impressed by her story that I asked if she would share it here for all of you. She has also told her story in greater detail in our podcast, which you can listen to here: Recovering from Crohn’s Disease.
“I’m a single mum with a severe bowel disease. If I have to get my intestines removed and have a poo bag how am I ever going to meet a man?”
This was my first thought when my gastro specialist said that surgery was my best and only option to heal my digestive problems. This is what led me to try natural remedies alongside my medication, and it’s what kept me focused through what has been the hardest time of my life. I know it might sound silly, or egotistical, but honestly, at the time it was my biggest fear.
I had been diagnosed with Crohns Colitis and after having my daughter Ariella, my health became drastically worse. Juggling being a single parent without family close by, and being so sick was extremely difficult. But I soldiered on because I didn’t have any other option. I had severe intestinal bleeding, constant cramps, high fevers and felt so ill that it was like having food poisoning or Bali belly, 24/7. I focused on my daughter, and during those first few months of being sick we played lots of games in bed. She was the sun in my sky (and still is!).
Ariella was 5 months old when I was first admitted to hospital. I was disgustingly skinny, my skin looked grey, and my hair had started to fall out. I was in really bad shape. I spent ten days in hospital, then went home for a few days, but was admitted to emergency again. My body was just not coping. I had been so sick for months, and even though I was taking the medications they recommended, nothing was working. For another ten days I lay in the hospital bed, and every one of those ten days the surgeon would come and talk to me, and tell me my only option was to have my large intestine removed. He’d ask me if I was ready, and every day I would say no. In their minds, surgery was my only option, and the longer I stayed in hospital, the more I began to believe them. But I just couldn’t bear the thought of having a ‘bag’ for the rest of my life. I wanted to try and heal myself naturally.
Eventually I was discharged, but told to stay close by, to call an ambulance if I needed to, and to come back when I was ready for the surgery. I went home, and my father, sister, and amazing friends from my mother’s group gathered around to support me and to help look after Ariella. The mother’s group ladies made a roster for cooking food, walks with Ariella, and play dates. Their support was amazing!
I began studying and researching natural ways to heal myself. One day one of the mums in the mothers group turned up on my doorstep to bring me a meal. When she saw the state I was in, she said, “I can’t leave you like this. I’m an acupuncturist. I will treat you every day until you’re well. You work on healing yourself with food, I’ll help with acupuncture.” She begged me just to hold on until Christmas before deciding about the surgery. I had no money because I was unable to work, and Ariella’s father didn’t help out, so she treated me for free. Each day she would console me, praise me for my efforts to get through another day, and encourage me to keep trying my natural methods whilst continuing treatment from the doctors. Whenever I felt like giving in, I thought about being single forever and that spurred me on to keep trying.
I tried many things in my efforts to heal myself naturally. It was a long, slow, process, and it took a lot of time before I really saw significant changes in my health. Some of the things I tried were:
– Stopping eating (just drinking fresh coconut water)
– Cutting out dairy and wheat
– The SCD diet
– Drinking elemental shakes with added Udo’s oil (Absorb Plus brand)
– Eating only soft foods like soup, purees, smoothies, and baby food
– Bone broths (amazing!) – chicken slow cooked in the broth with pumpkin, then blended, was my favourite
– Foods naturally high in good bacteria (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, etc)
– Anti inflammatory foods (fresh coconuts and coconut water, coconut oil in peppermint tea, turmeric, salmon)
– Flaxseeds, and flaxseeds soaked in water overnight
– Hormone therapy (I had tests done by my GP which showed I was deficient in testosterone, progesterone, and DHEA)
– Vitamins and Minerals (Omega 3, 6 & 9, Vitamin D, Multi-Vitamin, Iron infusions, Vitamin B injections, Vitamin C)
– Chinese herbs to remove the “heat” from my system
– Relaxation techniques
– Fecal Transplants (4 times per week for 6 weeks)
– Nano Vita Water drops
– Immunity II tablets
– Alkaline water
At the start of implementing these natural therapies, changes were extremely slow. Microscopic changes. Many times I lay in bed all day with a raging fever, and would be too exhausted to eat or drink. So if I had a fever for only 12 out of 24 hours then that was a positive step. If I slept for longer than 2 hours at a time without waking in pain, that was also a victory.
My bleeding and bowel habits were constantly terrible right to the very end of my healing journey. I say end, but in reality my healing journey will be forever. It will never end because my intestines are my weak spot and whenever I get stressed that’s where I feel it!
The thing I learnt whilst battling my illness is that everyone is different. Some things that worked for others didn’t work for me. And some things that worked for me may not work for you. It’s all a matter of working out what your body needs, listening to your body, and not giving up.
I view my disease as though it is on a spectrum. I believe it started as Irritable Bowel Syndrome then it got worse and took on the form of Ulcerative Colitis. When I still continued to ignore my body crying for help, my intestinal ulcers became deeper, and biopsies showed Crohns disease. I am not a doctor, and I have always seen the best specialists and taken all the medication prescribed for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. But I truly do believe that the body is designed to be able to heal most problems and that there are many different nationalities that have healed themselves for thousands of years with herbs, foods, and natural remedies. I do believe that my problems started by eating the wrong foods from childhood, which is why I’m so careful with what I feed my daughter.
I started “Little Mashies” while I was in and out of hospital, because I was living off baby food, soups, broths and shakes. At the same time I was weaning my own baby onto solid foods. I researched the nutritional content of what was in the packaged baby foods and yogurt squeezies, and I was unhappy to feed it to Ariella or myself. So I cooked my own purees and stored them in zip lock bags.
One day I had a light bulb moment, and began designing my own ‘squeezie’ bags! With “Little Mashies,” I can give my child (and myself, when I am sick) healthy, nutrient rich, additive free food wherever we go.
It was such a huge long journey to get my idea to reality. I had no money and was stuck in bed most days. But I was as dedicated to achieving this as I was to fixing my health. I tested, tested and retested until I was happy with the quality of my product. It took over a year. None of it has been easy, in fact I honestly feel like I have been fighting for survival ever since I became pregnant with Ariella. But I now have my own business (which is growing every day), I would say my health is the best it has been in years, and my daughter is thriving!
I just want to say that looking after our children’s health is so important, and it is something I am really passionate about because of my own journey. To those of you who use Little Mashies Reusable Squeezie Pouches, I am so happy to be able to provide a way for your kids to be able to get the healthy, additive free food that they need.
I feel blessed to be able to share my story with you and hopefully help you on your journey to healing. Please feel free to contact me through my Facebook page or website – I’m happy to answer your questions and share what I’ve learnt.
Don’t give up!