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Most people never give a second thought to their daily bathroom habits or bowel movements, but certainly the book Straight From The Gut will change that. The author, Vivek Sardana, was a man who like the rest of the world, never thought about that aspect of life, either, until he began experiencing odd cramping and bloating right around the time he was marrying the love of his life. An immigrant from India, Sardana lived and worked in Silicon Valley. An up and coming IT professional, he had the world at his fingertips and a fulfilling, pleasant life ahead of him until he was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and eventually, ulcerative colitis. He documents his journey from the beginning stages of the symptoms, to the almost horrific sequence of surgeries that helped keep him alive. He underwent a grueling series of diagnostic testing, and then more invasively, surgeries to remove the entire colon and rectum, and stitch the small intestine to the sphincter muscle. The surgery was two-part, and very intensive and debilitating, requiring a healing period in-between with an ileostomy bag. The surgery was successful and offered Sardana his life back with a fairly normal existence, until 16 years later severe problems developed that required him to go under the knife once more – this time with much more dire circumstances.

While documenting the tale of his ordeal, Sardana maintains a lively and at times even humorous tone. He lays out his symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, surgery and pain management in a way that is technical enough to be helpful to those facing similar situations, but also easy enough to read that one doesn’t get bogged down with dull medical terms that are difficult to understand. Most endearing is his outlook on life – full of appreciation for his family and friends, as well as a positive energy and determination that is nearly impossible to comprehend with what he has had to face. His small rabbit trails discussing faith, attitude and child-rearing are heart-warming, and his breathtaking descriptions of India bring an element of beauty and serenity to his otherwise ugly ordeal. Sprinkled throughout the autobiography are numerous mentions of Indian cuisine. Despite the fact that they’re without any descriptive and enticing explanations, they still leave the reader’s mouth watering and remind us that this man is a foodie who had been robbed of one of the essential processes of digestion. The ending to his story is full of hope, achievement and gratitude, and anyone who is interested in digestive health – while suffering from this disease or not – would appreciate the wisdom he shares.

 - Maria Josey,

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