My Story-How I became Dr.OilyMom
My name is Christina Campbell-Lis aka Dr.OilyMom. Welcome to my website! I was born in Miami, and I grew up in Florida. So, I am a true, bona fide Floridian. As a little girl, I dreamed of being a ballerina. I wanted to dance my life away and make a living doing it. I envisioned myself traveling the world as a sugar plum fairy or starring in ballets like “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Sleeping Beauty,” or “Swan Lake.” This dream persisted through high school. Although, by then, I realized I was not a Prima Ballerina. As a young teenager, I was an edgy and talented jazz dancer. But before I was “discovered,” I became very ill. I was diagnosed with a severe auto-immune disorder that would forever change my life as well as my life’s path.
After three days in what my mother called a “coma” where I was completely unresponsive, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder that would haunt me for many years. It proved to be the diagnosis that ruined my dancing dreams. By the time I left the hospital, I could hardly walk; and, it was a year before I was strong enough to wear my toe-shoes again!
The Diagnosis that Changed the Path of my Life
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease. My doctors told me that this illness would cause me pain, suffering, and bleeding for the remainder of my life. I was informed that I needed surgery to remove my large intestine immediately or I would never heal. I was allergic to sulfa and, as a result, allergic to the only medicine other than prednisone (corticosteroids) available to treat Crohn’s disease at that time. Through countless trips to the emergency room and the hospital, I came to dislike and distrust doctors. I found them, on the whole, to be rude, lacking compassion, and, at times, nonsensical.
Several surgeons threatened me with the “you will die if you do not do what I say” speech. They told me I had to have my colon surgically removed and a colostomy placed immediately. I was only 13 years old! I firmly said “No!” and begged my parents to refuse this surgery. As a minor, I was at their mercy. Thank God my parents were supportive and allowed me to choose what happened to my body. Without my colon at thirteen years old, sick and malnourished, my options would forever be limited. How could I ever live a healthy life? As I read the literature on Crohn’s Disease that I had my mother check out from the medical school library, I learned Crohn’s Disease was incurable and would likely flare up on and off over the years of my life. So, at the next flare up, would they remove parts of my small intestine? And, “at what point will I only have a mouth and an anus!” I angrily asked the surgeon.
Then there was Dr. James Cerda, director of the department of Gastroenterology at the University of Florida. He was a physician who was not only compassionate, but willing to think outside the box. He remains my hero to this day. He agreed to forego surgery if I would agree to abstain from food or drink for six months and up to a year. “Complete bowel rest” he called it. My nutritional needs would be met with “hyper-alimentation” given through a central line, called a Hickman catheter. This catheter was hooked to an IV pump which fed me fluid nutrition 24/7. Having developed an allergy to Sulfasalazine, the only medicine on the market to treat Crohn’s disease at the time, I was placed on very high dose steroids and was slowly desensitized to the Sulfasalazine. As he lowered the dose of the steroid called prednisone ever so slowly over the next six months, he gradually raised the dose of Sulfasalazine.
When I finally left the hospital, I did so with the IV pump hooked to the catheter in my chest. Unable to go to school that year, I completed all my classes from home. I was so weak, I could not dance which broke my heart. It was at this time I felt called to the field of medicine. I saw the need for physicians like Dr. Cerda who were willing to think outside the box–to treat the patient not the disease. We needed doctors who were willing to concede there might be a better way for the patient. I wanted to be a Dr. Cerda for another person in need.
How Did it All Turn Out?
Many of the physicians I saw thought I was crazy, but I was convinced that treatment without surgery would allow me to live a long, healthy, happy and productive life. And, I was right! I still have every inch of my gut intact. Although I was repeatedly told that I would never graduate from medical school, I did. I have had a successful and fulfilling career in medicine. And, although I was told many times that I would never have children, I have two! I have a handsome ten year-old boy and a beautiful eight year-old girl. I have adjusted my lifestyle to treat my disease. In 2011, I found dietary changes that have allowed me to have pain-free days. And, three years later, I discovered essential oils could help me string those days into weeks without discomfort! Amazing!
After all these years of pain and trying to avoid embarrassing moments, I have found freedom! The purpose of this blog is to share my life and my knowledge with you. My talent is to make illness less stressful and frightening for my patients and their families. People should understand their diagnosis and treatment. They should know the reason for certain tests and understand the results. We should be consultants in our own health care. My passion is to empower and educate people on how to live long, healthy lives by making healthy choices. My path in medicine as a DO has offered me education in hands-on medicine and an understanding that everything happening in a patient’s life affects their health. I have utilized acupuncture, massage therapy, Osteopathic Manipulative Techniques, and essential oils in my own health care. I enjoy sharing with others how to use food as preventative medicine and essential oils to support healthy body systems. God created us all with greatness and a purpose. In His infinite wisdom, he gave us all we need on this Earth to live healthy, happy, lives. We only need understand and utilize His great gifts and take care of ourselves-mind, body, and spirit. Each day, I celebrate the gifts I have been given. I want you to join in this celebration! I pray my experiences and my lifetime of learning can help you, too.