Hi everyone, just thought I'd post an update here.
Tim: Regularity / stools were much reduced (I've read that almost everything in meat / protein / fat is absorbed in the upper GI tract), but seemed fine and normal when it did happen once I settled into the diet. I think it was just a case of almost nothing reaching the bowels.
My rheumatologist sent me for some blood tests when I saw her, I think mostly basic stuff like checking levels of vitamins (not sure about cholesterol) - nothing out of the ordinary showed up.
However I had to stop the diet in June. I had increased my cheating on the diet from having a meal / snack of normal food from once every 1-2 weeks to once or twice a week - I got an SI joint flare up and everything fell apart. In total I had about 3-4 months of complete remission and being able to do things that I had never imagined being able to do again. Also for the first 3 months of the diet I was very hesitant to exercise heavily (my trigger for flare ups) so have no idea if it was working during that stage, it may well have been.
It's hard to explain but it as if the disease was totally gone during that period, and I was able to exercise in a way that previously 100% of the time would've given me a terrible flare up for weeks and often left me bed-ridden. It literally felt like a miracle cure, and this is coming from someone that has never really experienced any relief or improvement from all the various things I tried over the last decade.
Unfortunately even being ultra strict on the diet again after the flare up I wasn't able to get it to work again within 3-5 weeks it seemed. My guess now is that once I had a flare up, it's like going back to square one, and it would take 2-3 months of doing the diet strictly to get back to a state of remission / no flare ups.
Another note: After being on the diet for a few months I started to get occasional dull pain in what felt like my kidneys. This was disconcerting but I kept going with it because the diet gave me such unbelievable results. I resolved to drink more water which seemed to help a bit, but I would still experience it occasionally.
I stopped the diet altogether for 3 months because I was going to travel for a month in the summer and it would have been extremely hard / impossible to maintain it while traveling. Now I'm back and I have restarted the diet - however I am experiencing what feels like kidney pain again, I'm not sure I will be able to keep it up. I will ask my rheumatologist if they can do some sort of kidney tests when I see them in December.
The fact the diet was seemingly able to completely shut off the disease is emboldening, it means it's clearly the result of some mechanism / disease activity that can be controlled or affected in some manner and is not simply a function of something completely unchangeable about my body. However the extreme measures I had to go to with it and the fact it broke down from me having only the very occasional normal bit of food makes me wonder if there are other ways to replicate it without being super strict for months on end.
Any suggestions or leads would be appreciated, thanks for the support as always!