‘Waking up from a bad dream’ after a long battle with Crohn’s disease
“I just left my rheumatologist’s office (Dr. Jonathan Dunham of the U. Penn Health System in Philadelphia) and he cannot believe my transformation,” Andrea says with a smile. “I literally have my life back.”
Andrea is a smart IT professional as well as a wife and mother to a 17-year-old son. But her long battle with the ravages of Crohn’s disease took a severe toll on her quality of life. She underwent six operations in 2013 after having a bowel resection in 2012. But her overall condition continued to deteriorate as symptoms worsened. “I was in severe chronic pain and unable to eat anything. I would eat candy just to get some short-term energy so I could function at my job.”
A highly regarded Philadelphia rheumatologist recommends Dr. Herman
Another patient of Dr. Dunham’s who was living with severe arthritis achieved a remarkable improvement in his symptoms after being treated by physiatrist Dr. Perry Herman. He suggested that Andrea consult with him, although his office in Monroe Township is more than an hour and a half away. Andrea was running out of medical treatment options and made the appointment. When she first began seeing Dr. Herman, they focused their efforts on discontinuing the strong prescription pain medication she had been prescribed to combat symptoms. After doing so weeks later, Andrea was astounded by the improvement of her mental clarity and increased energy.
Focusing on nutrition
For phase two of her treatment, Andrea worked with Dr. Herman and his dietitian to address her long-term nutrition challenges. While skeptical at first, she began drinking the prescribed Paleo meal shakes twice a day. “I literally had not been able to eat much of anything for the past four years due to the severity of my Crohn’s,” she recalls. “But I was able to keep them down and began to remember what it feels like to use food to fuel your body. I started to feel like I was waking up from a very bad dream.”
Continuing to follow the Paleo diet, Andrea began eating fish, cucumbers and later chicken and apples. Dr. Herman also introduced meditation tapes to help Andrea deal with the stress associated with living with chronic pain. After years of sleepless nights, Andrea began to sleep again. Needless to say, her reliance on sugar was also a thing of the past. “Taking the sugar out of my diet also lessened my arthritis symptoms significantly,” she notes.
Regaining health back boosts Andrea’s career track
Once her health was back on track at the end of April, Andrea was able to return from a leave of absence from work. Management at her company took notice and soon offered her an expanded role within the organization. “If I had not regained my health, there is no way I could have taken on this new opportunity,” Andrea explains.
Today, Andrea has a very different life than just a year ago. “I can only say that I am in awe of my life. I can’t get the smile off my face. When you feel good, life is wonderful.” Andrea added that she recently successfully completed the Philly Rock 5K obstacle course race and owes it all to Dr. Herman. “To say this man saved my life is no exaggeration. I am forever grateful.”