“In May 2016, Kimberly Kaye and Ray Lopez had a legendary wedding at Kajuns Pub in New Orleans. It was the joyous, delayed party for their tearful legal wedding in 2013 when Ray carried Kim, fully disabled by a severe Crohn’s Disease “flare” plus a life-changing shingles infection, into City Hall to prove how serious he was about the “in sickness and in health” part of partnering.”
The above comes from a GoFundMe campaign set up to support Kimberly while she fights a drug resistant kidney infection causing which has resulted in traumatic organ damage.
In June 2016, before the honeymoon for the real wedding could finally be had, a misdiagnosis of a simple UTI landed Kimberly in serious decline with the infection. Doctors at a clinic in Cleveland have recently determined that Kaye suffers from an extremely rare condition called Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction (CIPO), which has been causing the root of most of her gut problems and starvation.
Kaye describes in detail the anguish that she has been battling, and how the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has helped her through the pain.
UFC fight inside your body
“Man, Crohn’s and IBD “Inflammatory Bowel Disease” are tricky to describe because they manifest differently patient to patient,” she said.
“Crohns, and it’s sister disease Ulcerative Colitis (Crohn’s can affect whole gastrointestinal tract track, Ulcerative Colitis is colon only), are right now classified as ‘autoimmune disease.’ There’s some research suggesting that might be wrong now, but it’ll take docs forever to argue that out. So lets assume autoimmune. Meaning the immune system sees your stomach or bowel and goes stupid, and instead of seeing your stomach or bowel, the immune system sees its next UFC matchup.
“So you’re health and fit and training and fine. Then all of a sudden some switch gets flipped and your immune system starts attacking your stomach, bowel, colon, whatever it wants really. And our immune systems are like a team of elite Krav Maga assassins, when they release their full power they do a lot of damage fast and cause a ton of inflammation.”
“For Crohns and UC, the AVERAGE patient starts to have digestion problems, stomach or abdomen pain, bad diarrhea sometimes with blood, diarrhea that alternates with extreme consolation, bloating after meals, galbladder pain, gallstones, nausea, vomiting, joint pain (from the inflammation).
“I was diagnosed in 2012. I had had stomach pain, acid reflux, burning in my stomach and abdomen, miserable diarrhea, joint swelling and pain, and about a 15 lb., weight loss when I first showed up in a doctor’s office. I could barely eat, my training had stopped entirely. I felt like I needed a nap 24/7 and hurt all over. My nutrition sucks because suddenly I was intolerant to any whey or milk proteins. I’d never had problems with any of that before.
“They did a colonoscopy, endoscopy, a ‘capsule endoscopy’ and biopsies and found I had ulcers, polyps, bleeding, infections in my gut, and swelling internally. They treated me, used drugs and no surgery at that point that fully, and I hit remission after about a year.”
BJJ Treatment to choke out Chron’s Disease
“We used Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to rehab my body and put muscle and weight back on me over the course of another and and a half years. I went from 103 lbs., of total atrophy to 130 lbs., of muscle and earning my blue belt,” Kaye said.
“My case is pretty rare, but they are seeing more and more Crohns and UC patients advance into this weird gastroparesis and are in the process of figuring out why. Me? I’m wrapping all my IV ports up so I can go back down to the gym and start my first day back punching and kicking. I have to start with 5 minutes of exercise today-the next week, then graduate to 8-10 mins, then work up from there all over again. For me BJJ and MMA are how I survive the pain of the symptoms and rebuild fastest.”
Bot Kaye and her husband train at NOLA BJJ in New Orleans under Matthias Meister. They also take in some sessions at the school’s affiliate, New State Fitness in Metairie, Louisiana.
Ray also instructs at both locations and together under the Wulfpack MMA name, the couple do donation-only BJJ/Krav Maga for self-defense and women’s self-defense community classes in the greater New Orleans area.
But wait…. there’s more
“If you have one gut disease you’re always open to more weird disasters after. Earlier this year I got a bad kidney infection and they docs gave me really strong opiates–which I hate, they’re terrible for people with gut problems–and while taking the opiates the muscles that control my bladder and intestines and pelvis all went completely numb and then started to atrophy.
“Now my Crohns is technically in remission, but I can’t digest food or pass it out without pain, severe cramping, and days of waiting because the drugs broke my insides. The condition is called ‘gastroparesis,’ which means some part of the GI system no longer works and paralyzes or slows the digestion process. Now I’m looking at some dangerous drugs and and painful PT, plus potential surgery down the road, to try and restore my gut back to eating and fully digesting food.”
Kaye will most likely be reduced to a pureed or liquid diet for the rest of her life.
“I’m in the process of reteaching my body to absorb calories and protein and fuel my workouts with lots of soups, protein shakes, and pureed eggs and babyfood. But the good news is, I’m training again,” Kaye said.
To date, the crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $56,000 toward the $60,000 goal. You can support Kimberly and Ray here.