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My story

Feb 10, 2016
Category: General

Hi, my name is Tina and I grew up in the beautiful unspoilt Northland area of New Zealand, living a typical lifestyle of those of us born in the 1960’s.  Our diet consisted of plenty of meat, dairy, white bread, cakes, biscuits, lollies and our drink of choice was bottled chemical laden cordial concentrate with a ton of sugar added to each batch we made up.  This was normal for the times and none of us knew any better.

My adult life was not much better really.  Food companies are very clever at marketing products with the right quantity of fat, sugar, salt and chemicals to get us addicted and promise how much happier/better our lives would be by consuming them.  I certainly ate more than my share of these types of frankenfoods.

For me the wakeup call came at age 46 while sitting in a meeting.

I had finished lunch about 45 minutes before the meeting.  A big pack of salmon and double avocado sushi and side of edamame.  Dreaming about which chocolate treat to indulge in for afternoon tea. Whether I wanted a takeout large pizza, side of wedges and chocolate lava cake for dinner or a creamy curry and bar of chocolate.

So there I was, sitting in my meeting when I started to feel really uncomfortable. Maybe I had indigestion?  The feeling started to increase in intensity and I quietly got up and left the meeting.  I went out into the corridor and walked around thinking that if it was indigestion, walking around would settle the problem down.   Unfortunately, this was not the case and the pain got so bad that I was unable to stand upright and was walking doubled over.  By this stage I knew that the only option was to go straight to ED for assistance.   I happened to work at the hospital so quickly got to the ED reception and gasped "Pain in stomach.  Really bad. Help".  I was immediately put in a wheelchair and taken to a room where the nurses put a line in my arm and pumped me full of morphine.

 An ultrasound scan solved the mystery.  I was diagnosed with a totally preventable lifestyle disease!  The scan showed very clearly an extremely unhealthy gallbladder.  The gallbladder walls were thickened and inflamed, there was sludge and gravel along with a number of small gallstones and one large gallstone in my gallbladder.  I was advised by the specialist to have my gallbladder removed and the problem would go away and I could continue to live my life as usual.

Fast forward another three or so months and my attacks were frequent and debilitating.  It had got to the stage where ED had prescribed oral morphine for me so that I could take the medication when an attack came on and negate the need to go to ED.

I realised at this point that I either needed surgery to remove my gallbladder as recommended by a second specialist or take matters into my own hands and drastically overhaul my lifestyle.

Overnight I converted to a gluten free vegan diet with no added fats.  Loads of fruits, vegetables, legumes and gluten free wholegrains.  No more alcohol or coffee.  Was the conversion easy?  No.  I definitely went through a withdrawal phase where I craved the junk food I so loved, missed having a glass of wine (or two or three) at the end of a stressful day and lets not mention the effects of a large increase in fibre!

Three years down the track and I am completely attack free.  My last scan showed that my gallbladder walls are normal with all the sludge, gravel and small stones gone.  I am left with the one large stone which on my wholefood vegan diet does not cause me any problems.  Looking back, I am very grateful for the gallbladder disease as without it, I wouldn’t have overhauled my lifestyle.  I am 30 kilos lighter, feel better than I have ever felt before and never have to worry about diets or the quantity of food I eat.


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