Wietse Vendrig (54) is paraplegic (D6 D7) since 2006, which is accompanied by severe nerve pain. After Annemarie’s book The Sitting Chef was published, she started with small changes in diet. In 2017 she switched completely to the whole foods plant based Sit Smart lifestyle. With incredible results. “Sit Smart eating completely changed my life. I am much less tired, have remarkably fewer spasms and nerve pains and I no longer have bladder infections”.
Eating the Sit Smart way transformed my life completely .
Bladder infections and kidney infections
Right from the start Wietse almost immediately was suffering from the specific secondary health complications of a wheelchair bound existence: bladder infections, kidney infections, poorly healing wounds, poorly functioning intestines (where standard prescribed medication did not help) and spasticity. “I mainly had side effects from the morphine patches (which are standard prescribed in the rehabilitation center for nerve pain) and the other pain medication”.
Pushing her body beyond the limit
After a number of years of intensive hand biking, and constantly pushing her body beyond the limit as a paraplegic dancer, she started to develop all kinds of physical complaints. Her shoulders became chronically overloaded. She was struggling with wrist and elbow injuries and had a heavily fluctuating blood sugar levels. And she was struggling with a diaphragm that cramped continuously due to spasticity. In addition, she also had a spastic bladder where botox had to be injected every 6 months.
Was she prepared for so many complex health complications of her disability? “Not at all. I knew that, as a wheelchair user, I could get pressure ulcers, and that I had to prevent that. The practitioners were very focused on that at the rehabilitation center. But nobody was talking about all those other secondary heakth risks. Apparently they were just part of being a wheelchair user. I personally thought it was akward and terrible to have to take all those medications right away. But that was how it went. I didn’t know any better back then. “
Detox from prescription drugs
It took many years for Wietse to realize that if it went on like this, she would sooner die from the side effects of all the medication and the secondary complications of her disability than by her handicap itself. Then her search began. She decided to detox from all the prescribed drugs and change her lifestyle drastically. “In the pain clinic I started to argue to get rid of morphine and pain medication. I succeeded with a lot of effort and little help from my practitioners”.
Because she had always realized the importance of nutrition, Wietse consulted various dietitians but without satisfactory results. “They appeared to be mainly concerned with dietetics and with light products that did not benefit me”. Even with her rehabilitation doctor, she did not make much progress. “He only believes in exercise – not in ‘food as medicine’. Such a missed opportunity, actually, for so many wheelchair users with serious complaints”.
The dietitians turned out to be mainly concerned with dietetics and with light products that did not benefit me.
“Most doctors I met also look at the body in a very fragmented way: for bladder problems you go to the urologist, musculoskeletal disorders to the physio and your heart to the cardiologist. While everything is connected, many doctors do not understand this, and have no knowledge of nutrition and lifestyle medicine yet. They are still focused on short-term results and symptom control, and believe that medicines should bring the solution”.
Taking back control
After a long quest and consulting many doctors, specialists and dietitians, Wietse knew: the time has passed to rely on other when it comes to my health. She decided to take back control. “I am a dancer and I express myself through my body. I love my problematic body and love life. I therefore want to age in the most healthy and pleasant way possible”. The Sit Smart Diet is fully in line with this.
Since I eat the SSD way, I have so much less pain, hardly any spasms and I have had no more bladder infections. That means: less medication, more energy and more quality of life. In addition, for me real health is also directly linked to the health of everything around us: the environment, nature, animals. So in that respect too, this is a diet that only suits me but suits the times as well”.
It is vital for innovation in rehabilitation medicine that we stop the ‘sticking-plaster’ – approach and that we consider dealing with the root of the problems by means of diet and lifestyle”.
My wish is that healthcare providers and medical professionals are better trained to provide truly high-quality care that is more in tune with the times. It is vital for innovation in rehabilitation medicine that we stop the ‘sticking-plaster’ approach and that we consider dealing with the root of the problems by means of diet and lifestyle.
I would like to see that rehabilitation centers are getting well-trained in Sit Smart nutrition and provide patients with knowledge about how a wheelchair life affects all our body systems and causes an accumulation of metabolic disorders. Now you have to figure it all out yourself. And often you are also laughed at or put under pressure. For example, you can only participate in certain programs if you are taking antidepressants. That is really too ridiculous for words”.