Saturday, December 3, 2011

Are you ill?

People are always put-off or aghast when I ask them to stay away from me or to just stay home from work if they are ill. Let me assure you, this is a COMPLETELY SELFISH request. I don't want to get sick. I must add, though, that people that get others sick are VERY INCONSIDERATE. People without an autoimmune disorder cannot fully understand the pain that is caused by a cold or the flu. So let me be clear as to why a cold or a flu can be so detrimental to me or those similar to me.

Crohns Disease and Colitis are autoimmune disorders. Like most other autoimmune disorders, our immune system is overactive and continually attacks our bodies. No reason is needed. Let's add in a virus to the mix. I get to experience all of the great symptoms that you get to experience: fever, aches, pains, nausea, vomitting, dizzyness, headaches, etc. Now you all have a point of reference to start from. Regardless of the status of my Crohns Disease, getting the flu or a cold gives me an instant flare-up in addition to ALL of the symptoms that non-IBD people experience. Think on that, my immune system is so messed up that it is trying to eradicate me at the same time it tries to destroy the virus.

My fever is higher. My pains are greater. I get a massively bloated abdomen to accompany my nausea and vomitting. Vertigo sets in and my head hurts so bad I can only assume it is a migraine. This is my flu, this is my hell. Normally, I would be able to take prednisone when experiencing a flare-up but that is not an option here. Prednisone is an immunosuppressant and cannot be administered when a virus or bacteria is involved. My insides get inflamed to the point that the only thing that will pass through me is liquid. ANY solid foods will cause an instant blockage and send me to the hospital. Liquids do not sate one as much as solid foods, especially when they must be low residue and cannot be dairy. I have to subsist on tea, Pedialyte, broth/consomme, and water for several days.

Through all this, how could I forget about the diarrhea. I cannot be more than 10 feet away from a bathroom and then occupy 1-2 hours on the toilet each time I have to go. I spend 10-12 out of 24 hours on the toilet every day I have the flu. It is really a rather rancid experience for everyone within a distance of 20 feet and my rear end is so bruised and battered that it is bleeding from the continual wiping.

To top it all off, my internal furnace goes haywire. It starts producing so much heat at my core, but for some reason that heat doesn't pass to my extremities. So I am overheating and sweating on my body while my hands, feet and head are stone cold. I can only imagine that this is what being frozen to death in an active kiln feels like. It takes about a day or two for my body to get rid of the flu. For the normal person, getting rid of the flu marks the end of a painful experience. I still have to deal with my body in Flare-Up mode. This entails quashing the inflammation in my body and then several days of reintroducing my GI tract to MY normal diet. I am apprehensive to eat solid food in fear that I might set off a stronger flare up.

I really hope that this will hit home with some people. When someone asks you to stay away or to call in to work because you are ill, be considerate to everyone involved and do just that. Stay home and get better. We'll all be happier.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Peanut Curry

I really enjoy sauces and curries that use seeds and nuts as bases.  There is just something about the creamy texture and earthy flavor that just makes me happy.  I have been trying to make a safe curry for myself for quite some time, and I think that I finally got it with this recipe.  When making this curry, there are a few things that need to be kept in mind.

The first thing, I have made the recipe easier by incorporating commercially processed foods.  The grinding of nuts and seeds is a very laborious feat and not for those on timelines.  Where I have used commercial products, for sake of time, they are completely devoid of any added sugars, preservatives, or additives.  The peanut butter I use is JUST ground peanuts and nothing else.  Read the labels.

The second thing for you to know is my concept for the flavor of this dish.  I was really looking for more of a figure-ground situation for my tongue.  I wanted there to be this back and forth between the sauce (ground) and something in the sauce (figure).  The ingredients listed below are based on my first successful attempt at creating this situation.  You can replace the chicken with whatever you want so long as that "figure" food can absorb some of the liquids and will allow the spices to adhere to it.  I would think that firm or extra-firm tofu would have the proper consistency and allow for the adherence of the spices, but I am not familiar with how well it absorbs liquids.  I would think that mushrooms would be great candidates for replacing the chicken so long as they are not overcooked.

The last thing to keep in mind is what you are going to serve with the curry. I can see the most common reply being rice. That is not a bad option and I think it tastes good with Jasmine Rice. It is always good to keep an open mind, though. The curry can be served with any sort of bread, naan, or noodles. In addition, you can serve it with whole, cubed or mashed squash. Try it with spaghetti squash. I think it tastes good with mashed butternut squash.

Peanut Curry:
6med chicken breast, sliced thin (substitute with item of your choice)
4 green onions (optional)

1tsp ginger
2tsp chile
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sherry
1tbsp soy sauce
1tsp nutmeg
1tsp allspice

6 - 8oz natural peanut butter
12 - 16 oz coconut milk (no additives, not the same as coconut water)
1/2 yellow onion
4 tsp tahini (sesame paste)
4 - 6 Serrano peppers
4 - 6 finger hot peppers
1 cup almond milk (unsweetened/unflavored)
1tsp garlic, minced
1tsp ginger paste
2tsp chili paste
2tsp buckwheat honey

Thinly slice the chicken in to 1/8" - 3/16" thick pieces. Place the cut chicken in a bowl. Add all of the marinade ingredients. Let the marinade set for about 30 minutes. This time will have to be modified depending on whether or not you change this ingredient. I would let it set for about 60 minutes if you use mushroom. I don't know how long for tofu.

While the chicken is marinating, chop the yellow onion and peppers finely. If you do not have a hand-blender, or cannot handle any sort of piquancy make certain to remove the seeds from the peppers. Add the chopped onion and pepper to a pot with oil and sauté until they are soft. Do not brown. Add the chili paste, minced garlic and ginger paste and sauté the mixture a few more minutes.

In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, almond milk, tahini and coconut milk in a bowl and mix as much as possible. Once the onion/pepper mixture is sautéed, add the contents of the bowl. Simmer for about 10-12 minutes stirring constantly. Once the entire mixture is heated use a hand blender or a regular blender to meld all ingredients.The curry should be smooth and uniform at this point. Return to heat and let simmer. Add the buckwheat honey at this point. If you cannot find this type of honey. Do not let the curry boil.

Take the chicken and stir-fry it.  If you don't have a wok to stir-fry, take a very small frying pan and cook the chicken on a very high heat in the pan. It will take several pan-fulls regardless of the cooking method. Set the meat to the side as you cook it all. Do not combine the chicken with the curry as the curry is still cooking. If you are going to add the green onion, you should cut it up at this point. Cut the bulbs so they are 1/16" thick. Cut the green stalks so that they are about 1" in length. Keep the stalks and the bulbs separate. When you have finished the chicken, sauté the onion bulb.

When the onion bulb is done sautéing, add the bulb, chicken and stalk to the curry and stir to mix.  Let cook for another 2 minutes and then remove from heat.  Serve the curry with whichever accompaniment you choose.

This recipe is IBD friendly so long as the nuts and seeds are fully pulverized and a hand-blender is used to make the curry smooth. This recipe is gluten free. If you are allergic to nuts, you are screwed; don't try this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Naked and the Nude

The Naked and the Nude
Robert Graves

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pain Pain Go Away...

I never really thought about the little things I do to deal with pain until I was talking with someone on Twitter this morning.  This man was talking about how his abdominal area hurt and the first thing that came to my mind was what I would do in this situation.  Depending on the severity of the situation, there are different steps I would take in order to minimize either the pain or the length of the episode.

The first thing I do is breath deeply.  I know it sounds too easy, but the truth of the matter is that it helps me alleviate MOST of my pains.  Most of us tend to tense up and start breathing in a very shallow manner when the pain sets in.  The only thing that I can come up with that would make any sort of sense has to do with peristalsis.  Peristalsis is your body's way of getting items from the start of your GI tract to the end of your GI tract.  Since Crohns/UC/IBD all involve varying levels of inflammation, I can only assume that the involuntary muscle contractions are muted at that moment.  Maybe the deep and heavy breathing helps get the gas and offending items through to the end of the GI tract.  Again, just my supposition; but it does work for me.  There is a caveat to this, it does hurt slightly more than just breathing in a shallow manner.

While full and deep breathing usually helps, every now and again it doesn't do the job.  I can usually tell after a certain amount of time that the breathing isn't helping as I start to get somewhat lightheaded and the pain is not subsiding.  Trying so many different methods of pain relief, I found that I could lay flat on my bed or couch and then lightly kneed my lower belly in a particular direction.  Nothing rough, just gentle kneading in a direction.  Again, I think this has to do with the peristalsis and manually helping my body in a time when the inflammation is making the food in my body set in the same place.  I am only trying to help my body eject the items that are causing the pain; in many cases it is just an overabundance of gas.

If those first two methods don't work, I go to sleep.  I am already laying down at that point, so it just makes sense.  All muscle tensions are relaxed and the body enters a cycle of rejuvenation and rebuilding.  It is truly amazing just how much sleep we miss in our lives.  Most of the time we just replace it with "liquid sleep," i.e. coffee.  This takes a toll on normal people.  I find that sleep is VERY therapeutic in just about every situation.  I can have a pain that WILL NOT go away and after I wake up all is well in the world again.

I do find it amazing that such simple acts can take remedy pain in at least 85% of the times I start to experience any sort of flare up.  There are more steps that I take if the previous three methods don't work, but they are beyond the scope of a simple action.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"RED ALERT!" or "It's Funny Now"

A conversation yesterday got me to thinking about my past experiences with my bowels and all of the poor, and very public, situations they have put me in. Growing up a teenage boy with an older and younger brother as well as a mother that is a RN, having Crohns Disease was definitely an experience. It is generally common knowledge that the sounds and smells that come from the human body are a plethora of enjoyment for adolescent boys. If the pain could have been removed from the situation, I am certain I would have loved it as much as my brothers. Over the course of our lives together, before college, there were a lot of attempts at laughter and a many successful attempts at naming certain situations. As with all things that grow older, the terms lost relevance or traction over time. They were all fairly stupid and juvenile, with the exception of one: assplosion. As happens with age, I can no longer clearly remember which of us came up with the term or if it was a collaborative effort. If I had to guess, I would lean 40% to my older brother and then 30% to my younger brother. It's not often that I can't remember who deserves credit for an invention in the family; those with multiple siblings will understand why. I still use this term today as it is a very appropriate and vivid visualization of what I experienced. The term also gave a very vivid image of what was left behind. 

At some point my mother heard the term and was not very pleased with the vulgar construction of the word. It was at this point that my scale came into place. Everyone has heard of "number 1" and "number 2" and knows that they refer to the elimination of bodily waste. As none of us were allowed to use the vulgar construction, I had to come up with something to convey to my mom just how bad I had to use the toilet. We were driving home from the mall and were about 15 minutes from home. Out of no where I blurted out that this one was a "number 50." My mother looked perplexed in that way that I knew I had to explain to someone that was not familiar with the experience. I did this by relating to a normal diarrhea experience as a "number 3." I just reread that last sentence and laughed. Oh to have a NORMAL diarrhea experience! I think that was the first time that my mother, the RN, fully started to have some grasp as to what I was going through. I barely made it to the toilet that day and my older brother, who was driving, actually got the go-ahead from my mother to go over the speed limit that one time. I eventually expanded my scale so that it goes from 0 (no need for the toilet at all) through 100 (instantaneous evacuation of bowels). 

When people hear about my scale, they just assume I am incontinent. If you are one of those people, I can't tell you how wrong you are. This issue has nothing to do with being able to control my bowels, as with incontinence; no, this has to do with sheer force behind what is going on. Think of a garden hose. Most people put a nozzle on the end of their hose so that they can control when the water comes out. People that are incontinent either have a broken nozzle or no nozzle at all. Those that have Crohns Disease have a fully functioning nozzle. So where does the issue come from Well, most people with Crohns or some other form of IBS/IBD have a pressurization system hooked up to their hose. That's right, we have something pressurizing our insides to dangerous levels. After a certain amount of pressurization, even the best nozzle won't be able to keep the water from leaking out. In fact, it will lead to a sudden and massive failure of the nozzle just to release the pressure so that the hose doesn't fail and rupture -- that would require surgery and a resectioning. Been there, done that. One can also imagine what happens when a balloon is overfilled if that helps with the metaphoric visuals. 

I have been asked several times if I have ever experienced a 100 in my life. The answer is yes, several times. I still remember that first time at Wal-Mart. I was looking at clothes when the urge hit. The urge was too strong for me to combat and I fouled myself right in the middle of the men's clothing department. Instantaneous evacuation of my bowels. I picked up a pair of jeans, some socks and slowly sloshed my way back to the restrooms. Before entering the restroom, I told the lady at the customer service counter what I had and that I was going to change into the clothes. She began to protest at which point I turned to the restroom door and she saw the wetness that permeated the entire backside of my pants; she stopped protesting.  I was in the handicapped stall for about 45-60 minutes as I cleaned my rear and legs of the foul mess that had entered my life. I kept my pants, but through away the boxers.  I took the tags to the lady at customer service and paid for the clothes I was wearing and left the store.  

Situations like this have happened so many times to me in the past, that I no longer feel embarrassed when they do happen.  Fifteen months ago I was helping a friend with his boat when the urge hit.  I hit dry land as quickly as possible for the restrooms.  I was moving as fast as I could and I could still feel the pressure mounting inside me.  I was entering the bathroom and thought I was going to make it just in the nick of time. I started undoing my shorts as I entered the stall and I didn't quite make it.  I was lucky and didn't get anything on my clothes.  My back end wasn't so lucky as it was hit with the ricochet from the toilet and the wall.  Even though I was hit with the splatter, I was still lucky due to the fact that there was a shower facility attached to the restroom.  I showered off and left.  I felt REALLY bad for the mess that was left in the toilet, on the toilet, on the wall, etc.  It was bad.

About six months ago, I was helping work on a friend's boat again.  Out of no where I was hit with the need to go.  I made it about half way to the restroom before I knew that I couldn't go any further.  It was time for a big decision that I had to make on the spur of the moment.  I pulled down my shorts and did an about face toward soft ground and lost control.  I then walked half-nude to the bathroom to clean myself.  On the way back, I saw the cameras that littered the docks.  Someone was going to see something that they hadn't bet on seeing.

These are the most vivid occurrences still in my mind, but there are so many more that I could dredge up.  At the time they happened, I was not too happy; but now I can look back and laugh at them.  In fact, everyone that hears them can laugh at them.  I figure at least something good is happening out of the experience.  There are two things that I have learned out of all these public disasters and the first is to always be near a bathroom. The second thing is to get to the bathroom by any means.  I have pushed old men in walkers out of the way just so that I could get to the stall in time.  After all, it is much more socially acceptable for old men and young boys to foul themselves than it is for a 20-40 year old man.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Little Crohnie that Could...

I am a heavy believer in ones perspective, attitude, and point-of-view either helping or hindering in the healing process.  Growing up, my dad would always say, "You can do it!" or, "Don't just try...DO IT!" or some other bit of hyperbole to get me moving and continuing forward.  As a young child, I always believed that my dad was always correct and that he would never do anything to intentionally harm me. While I learned the former to be a stretch of reality, I still trust the latter to be true.  Knowing this has helped me to keep my hopes up, my aspirations high, and to never stop due to a challenge.  While I no longer live with my dad, I have taken up his cause by telling myself so many excruciatingly contrary and hyperbolic statements.  

If I am feeling tired and just feel like sleeping -- and I can sleep non-stop for over 24 hours -- I start telling myself, "Get up and work out! It will give you more energy. In fact, you will become a muscle man." If I feel pain in my abdomen, I tell myself, "Suck it up! That is just your body telling you that you made a mistake.  NOW you know what NOT to do in the future.  You WILL be stronger."  I could go on, but I think you get the point.  This positive self-reinforcement helps me get through a lot of the trauma and experiences of every day life.  I don't know about others, but it is VERY easy for me to become a negative, depressed mess.  Why would I want to reinforce a trait that would make me weaker, less sociable, and less healthy?  I am already enough of a social retard as it is and have no need to feed the retardation.

Over the recent years, I have noticed that I have subconsciously been spreading the verbal hyperbole to others.  If I didn't have Crohns like them, I am certain that I would have had my head bitten off several hundred times already.  It is fairly easy to see the venom in their eyes at my statements.  At first, I thought about toning down my statements or being more mindful of what I wrote or said concerning touchy subjects; but as I thought more on it I decided that it would be bad to concede.  I needed to continue.  I needed to try to bring a positive statement of strength to those I communicated with.  

I have to do this. If I couldn't tell others what I tell myself, then I wouldn't be able to believe my own words.  When something is written or said aloud, it gains greater foothold in the tangible world.  When those ideas and statements are shared, they gain a life of their own -- perception becomes reality. Some people question my sanity and some my sincerity with what I say.  I know the pain I have felt; that feeling of a 20 ton wrecking ball with 6" iron spikes materializing in your gut and trying to demolish you from the inside out.  I know that feeling of pain where even twice the recommended dosage of morphine won't work.  I also know that I won't attain heights any greater than what I aspire.  I don't say it to minimize the pain and hardships; I say what I say to overcome them all.

I hope that this point-of-view and attitude can help others.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Real Cranberry Juice

This is real cranberry juice.  No sugar.  It is the most bitter substance I have ever tasted. It still tastes good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Crohn's Junkie

Invariably, the first thing that comes to an average person's mind when they see syringes is "junkie" or "druggie."  Needles and syringes get so much bad press when it comes to hardcore drugs and HIV/AIDS.  People don't always say this, but you can see what is on their mind by the aghast look on their face and the telling look in their eyes.  I am not a druggie nor am I a junkie, so why does this matter to me?  It matters because I do give myself injections.  If you have had an intestinal resectioning, odds are you are in the same situation as me.  There are certain nutrients and vitamins that are only absorbed by certain parts of the intestine.  If you get a resectioning, then your body's capacity to absorb those nutrients is either greatly diminished or completely obliterated.

When I had my terminal ileum of my small intestine and the first portion of my large intestine removed, my body lost most of its capacity to absorb B-12.  B-12 is the only vitamin known to man with no toxic levels.  It is also the vitamin that helps with processing of oxygen and keeping you going.  I have tried sublingual (under the tongue) and nasal spray supplements for B-12 with no success in the early 2000's. That only left one option open to me: B-12 injections.  For those of you that are really, really, really (continue ad nauseum) tired all the time and have had a similar procedure, you should be getting B-12 in one of the three forms above.  If you aren't, then you should start immediately.

I really hate needles.  I hate needles to the point that I used to pass out when they came to close to me.  I would vomit from time-to-time after a nurse or a doctor would give me an injection.  I would have to lay down for 30 minutes after any injection just so that I wouldn't pass out while walking.  I don't know why that happened to me.  So when I finally realized I had to get B-12 injections, I was in sheer terror.  So instead of doing the right thing for my body, I abstained from taking any B-12 for several years.  I have never felt more tired in my life.  I always wanted to sleep and never wanted to get out of bed.  My blood tests always had my doctor on the alert at the time.  I pushed through with my life, but it wasn't living.  At some point, I was just so tired that I couldn't handle it anymore.  I gave in and got a B-12 injection during one of my monthly doctor visits.  Within 30 minutes, I really could feel something coursing through my body.  I felt a bit of a euphoria in addition to my usual nausea.  Later that day, I actually didn't feel as tired for a bit. This is starting to sound similar...

Since I was seeing my doctor every month, I decided I could handle the injection on a monthly basis and still live.  After about 7-10 from my injection, I always started to feel more weary and dead on my feet.  Over the next few years, I stopped complaining to myself about the injection.  I was actually ready for the injection.  It was a necessary dose of energy that I didn't get anywhere else.  And then I went to Hong Kong for three months.  There was no one to give me injections.  The Nasal Spray B-12 supplement still didn't work for me.  After 3 months, I really needed that dose of energy.  I hadn't felt that run down in quite some time.  When I returned to the states, I talked to my doctor about actually getting a prescription.  He told me that most people in my situation had weekly injections.  I shuddered at the thought, but the past three months was still fresh in mind and so I told him I would go for it and start self-administering.  This really does sound similar to another progression I am familiar with...

It took me a month to fill the prescription for the B-12 and the syringes; I had gotten an injection during my most recent doctor visit.  I remember sitting there with the syringe filled with B-12 and shaking.  I don't know why I was shaking, but I couldn't control it.  I had to put that needle in my upper arm, thigh, or butt in order for it to be effective -- one of my larger muscles.  Since I needed both hands, my arms as pin cushions were out of the question.  Since I had to sit -- so that I wouldn't pass out -- that only left my thigh.  I cleaned the area and put the needle to my skin.  I barely pushed when I had to let up.  I was like this for over an hour, unable to pierce or puncture my skin at all.  The slightest jolt of a synapse caused me to stop what I was doing.

After a large amount of time, I finally decided I need to push through it.  Push through the feelings and dread.  I poked several spots with the tip of the needle until I found a spot that didn't tingle as much as the others and then I slowly started to push. I felt it go in.  I felt every single inch of that needle in my thigh.  I felt the need to vomit as I violated my body with an alien object. After I calmed down, I started to push the plunger on the syringe.  Again, the nausea welled up and so I stopped.  I was pushing the plunger for an unknown amount of time.  It is amazing how 1cc of liquid can seem like so much when giving that first injection.  After I was done, I pulled the syringe out and jiggled the area while covering with a clean paper towel like the nurse taught me.  I disposed of the needle in my sharps box, which was directly next to me, and passed out for about an hour.

Six years later, I am still giving myself B-12 injections.  I wish I could say that I don't feel it anymore, but that would be a lie.  I did manage to get myself on a weekly schedule.  I no longer feel nauseous, but I do still feel a little like I am going to pass out afterwards.  With all the discomfort I go through, I can say that the PROS outweigh the CONS for those in a situation similar to mine.  I can feel the lack of energy growing greater as I get to the day of my injection.  I feel the change in my body within ten minutes after the injection.  While I know I am not a druggie, I must confess that I might be a junkie.  I certainly sound like one when I talk about how I feel arriving to the day of injection, after the injection, and the pains I make myself go through just to get the injection.  I can't imagine how a diabetic must feel having to give themselves insulin on a daily basis.  I didn't get to choose, but I think being a Crohn's Junkie and only having weekly injections is a tad better than being an Insulin Junkie and needing injections on a daily basis.  

I still hate needles.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Case Study: Me

My case study of Crohn's Disease -- my life -- has been going fairly well the past couple of months.  It does take a lot of time and energy on my part to keep track of everything and to keep my normal life running; hence, very little writing about what is actually happening with my Crohn's Disease.  With that said, let me get you up to date on what I have been doing and how it has been working.

I cut all of the carbs out of my diet.  That was VERY difficult to do and I had to do it slowly.  To say I am addicted is an understatement. I did finally get to that point where I was eating none, but I was a an asshole going through withdrawal for a couple of days after I stopped eating the carbs.  After about a week of staying away, I noticed a tremendous change in how I felt and a big rebound in my energy levels.  A lot of people have told me, "You can't cut out carbs, that is where you get energy." on many different occasions.  Let me clarify, when I talk about carbs, it is disaccharides and polysaccharides that I cut out of my diet.  They are complex sugars.  I kept the monosaccharides in my diet, the simple sugars, which are found in fruits, vegetables, honey, and certain other foods.  I am back at a point where I can eat some complex carbs, but I definitely have a daily and weekly limit about how much I can eat before my body rejects it.

I was religious with my juicing during this transition period.  I tried a lot of singular and compound juices in this time.  I found that kale, collard greens, and broccoli -- as a base -- are really good. I really enjoy broccoli juice.  One of my favorite juices is broccoli, green apple, and lime.  As my body started accepted my consumption of more veggies, I found that I was juicing less.  I still juice about every other day to make certain I am getting the nutrients that I need into my body.

The overall energy I am feeling now, as opposed to before the changes I made, is much greater.  I continue to make changes to my life, but I do it in a manner that is steady.  Through this most recent experience, the biggest thing I have learned is that my body tolerates gradual change much better than abrupt or extreme changes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Juicing is my new Fad

I know it has been some time since the last time I wrote, but I have been incredibly busy.  The lack of energy due to medications and long work hours has just become typical.  Enter Netflix and its all around crapulent collection of shows and I happen upon a movie that I may never have watched otherwise.  The movie is called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and it chronicles the journey of two men as the try to lose weight and better their health.  I am really not trying to lose weight.  I don't need to lose weight.  What struck me with this movie is that it made me realize that I had NEVER thought to use a juicer before.  Being an ex-Vegan -- by doctor mandate -- I was apprehensive and happy all at the same time as I thought about those vegetable and fruit flavors that I haven't been able to partake of in years.

So after about six to eight weeks of research, reading reviews, and making retail store associates give me permission to play with juicers in-store, I finally found the Hurom juicer at Williams-Sonoma.  I have been using it for over a week, and I am amazed at just how much better I am already starting to feel.  While the Hurom is advertised as a "slow juicer," please keep in mind that everything in life is relative.  It moves slower than other juicers, it is not actually slow.  Either way, I am now out of broccoli as I have juiced and drank it all.  Broccoli juice brings me one step closer to Nirvana.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Typical Breakfast

I don't know why people have such difficulty eating fruit and cheese for breakfast. Throw in some plain yogurt and breakfast is awesome. I try to stay away from processed cheese goods and stick with natural, block cheeses as they don't give me the issues that the processed cheeses supply in abundance. The block cheese can be a tad more salty, but it goes well with the fruit. I will add in some yogurt when eating the saltier varieties.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Cheese Danish

I couldn't help myself.  It has been so long since I have had a good cheese danish.  The pastry is filled with too many bad things; to count them all would only depress me.  So I just ate it.  Yes, I feel the discomfort now as it ravages my body.  I knew what I was doing and that I shouldn't be doing it.  Maybe had I stopped at one I would have been fine, but it had been so long.  More savory than sweet, I love a good cheese danish.  I will have to give the rest of it away since it will be another six months before I allow myself to eat anything like this again.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Waist Not

I have an ever expanding waistline. It is also contracting.  Sometimes my waist is too small to fill in a size 34 and sometimes it is too big to fit into a size 40.  Someone with Crohn's should be all too familiar with that feeling of being a balloon that is continually being inflated to the point of popping and then deflating to the point of nothingness.  Pants, shorts, or whatever, that waistband just does not feel good and it only gets worse as inflation increases.  That abdominal distention is all part of the Crohn's ride.  It would be so much easier and so much more comfortable if I didn't have to wear anything around my waist.  Unfortunately, society doesn't look too kindly upon nudity nor men wearing moo-moos.  I can't count the number of times that the pain of a flare-up was abated by the sole act of just removing any and all constricting material.  

Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Redux

I found, purchased, and read the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle in one day.  This was no easy task.  Not all book stores carry it, and even when the book store does carry the book it must be special ordered.  I am more of your "instant gratification" kind of person.  So when I found a store that carried the book, I went and purchased it.  After reading the book, the initial two thoughts that came to my mind were:
1. WOW!  Why didn't I know about this 16 years ago?
2. It works.  If you follow the plan, it works.

I am one of the more skeptical people living in this world.  So when I hear about something that is touted as a miracle cure or something that put someone in remission, I tend to think, "BS!"  Nothing is free in this world.  It is just not possible.  That would be like saying that energy is just created out of no where.  No, my life is more like a game of tug-o'-war (very simple analogy), where those with any sort of IBD want a stalemate to occur.  When the tug-o'-war is in a stalemate, our bodies are not experiencing a flare-up.  If either side wins, then we are in pain or worse.

I went into remission in 2007 after 11 years of hell and a LOT of experimentation on what I can, can't, should, and shouldn't eat.  While I really wish I had read this book when I was first diagnosed, something tells me that it would have been the same amount of time for me to hit that remission point.  It is a very strict set of guidelines the books gives and one needs to create their own set of rules within those guidelines.  Then you have personal stamina in not breaking your new diet, otherwise you will have a relapse.  I am still amazed that the list of "legal" foods and "illegal" foods is so similar to what I allowed myself to eat and not eat when I was very strict with my own rules.  My legal foods were actually much more narrow due issues with fiber and other allergies, but over time I was able to start eating some illegal foods from time to time so long as I didn't overdo it.

The biggest thing to realize about this book is that it is NOT a strict set of rules and it is not a self-help or guru guide.  It is a set of guidelines to follow. It is a book that is based on scientific research that gives you information that you can use to create and follow your OWN rules -- so long as they fit within the prescribed guidelines.  What is even better, is that the books gives citations and references.  For a consummate book worm always striving to learn more and to see where people derive their ideas and thoughts, I think this is great.  It helps support the premise in the book AND it helps me find new reading material.

This is not to say that what I eat is the only thing that dictates my health.  No, there are MANY other facets of my life that I must keep in balance in order to keep myself healthy.  I still have acute flare-ups when I don't get enough sleep, I experience too much stress, or over-exert myself in addition to those times when I try new foods that have unmentioned contraband.  The frequency of flare-ups is very small and easily managed at this point.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Bidet or Not to Bidet

I really want a bidet.  One in my house.  One in every public restroom I must use.  One in every hotel or motel room.  If you are the typical American reading this blog, your initial thought is probably, "WTF!"  If you have any sort of chronic intestinal inflammation and think "WTF!" then you have never used a  bidet.  After you have used one, you will better understand why I want them to be more widespread.

As a Crohn's sufferer, I have to run to the bathroom a lot.  I use A LOT of toilet paper.  I don't care HOW high quality your toilet paper is, there is a limited amount of times you can wipe your bum before it really starts to hurt.  After the hurting starts, it only gets worse.  I had just chalked the wiping raw of my rear end to be part of life dealing my Crohn's.

I was in Asia and asking a Korean friend if he had any toilet paper when I first realized that a lot of other countries either don't supply or use toilet paper.  Instead they give you a stream of warm water to clean yourself with. My Korean friend made me aware of this as he handed me some toilet paper. Like most in America, he couldn't fathom touching his rear end after doing a number two -- even if it was to clean.  Now me, my rear end was already hurting from the multiple bathroom trips that day and the toilet paper he handed me was more like wax paper than anything else.  I decided to take a chance.  I figured, "What the hell, I am going to wash my hands with soap and water afterwards."  All I know is that it felt A LOT better to use the warm stream of water than the wax paper on my butt.

From that point forward, when given the choice, I used the warm water to clean myself rather than toilet paper.  Going to the bathroom wasn't as difficult, cumbersome, or uncomfortable as it had been just a week prior.  

Now...where is my bidet?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

I begin to see how topics and videos can go viral so quickly on the internet.  The number of links that radiate out from just one web page can eventually lead you or I in hundreds upon thousands of different paths.  Every now and again, I do find that I come across some relevant information.  I have seen several Twitter posts about SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle.  I have also seen several bloggers mention both the SCD as well as the book.  I see so many people that talk about how great the diet is and about the remission they experience when they adhere to it.

I think I would like to read this book just to see if it can help me.  I have looked at some of the legal and illegal items on a partial dietary list and saw that I agree with it from my own trial and error.  Would be great to be able to incorporate something new.

Insult to Injury

I continue to do research on Crohn's Disease. It is just something that I do; I believe that at some point there will be a break-through that doesn't appear too good to be true. In lieu of that panacea, though, I have only found that there are apparently some more surprises to look forward.
People with Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis -- due to the nature of the malady -- are more prone to the following issues: eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, asthma, arthritis, hay fever, rhinitis, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. All of these are auto-immune disorders that are caused by the same out of control elements in our body with the past two items having the least case study support. I don't look at this knowledge as a bad thing. Knowing ahead of time what may be in store for me allows me to plan and live my life accordingly while also attempting holistic preventative measures.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fat in Foods

Oh the fats in food, they are so much fun.  Too little fat in your diet and you won't be able to absorb certain nutrients that are fat-soluble. Too much fat in your diet and you wind up with steatorrhoea.  In the case of someone with Crohn's disease, your body won't want to absorb fat most of the time and you will have steatorrhoea a lot of the time.  At first, I thought it was a great thing that my body very rarely ever absorbed fat.  I would eat things then that make me cringe now.  My body wouldn't get fat and that was all I was worried about.  As I lived longer though and tested myself for foods that hurt, I came across some articles that talked about how some people get bound up with pain by eating too much fat in their diet.  These were normal people written about in the article and the revelation gave me pause.

It was at this point that I decided to cut out as much fat as I possibly could from my diet.  Fats were bad and I was hell-bent on proving it.  Going from one extreme to another, it was amazing at how quickly the "fat pains" went away.  Yes, they were "fat pains."  As mentioned in The Pain, different triggers illicit different pains.  It was during this time of experimentation with fat that I learned that there were specific, dull, bloating, lower abdominal pains that I could link directly to eating too much fat -- whether good or bad.  I was so happy that I was learning the triggers for the different pains in my life and removing them.  The more difficult part, though, was finding out how to bring fats and oils back into my diet before I experienced some sort of vitamin deficiency.  No matter how much someone may want to get rid of all fat in their diet, it is impossible.  Your brain needs fat.  Your body needs fat to absorb things like Vitamin E.  

Many personal trials later, I found oils and fats that were not only good for me but tasted good as well.  The number of fats and oils I will never touch again are too numerous to name.  I have found that I have the least ill-effect with virgin oils; my favorite being first, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.  I haven't found an upper limit to how much I can consume before pain starts.  Its flavor is so good, that a little usually goes a long way.  Other natural oils also are good, but none seem to do as well by me as the olive oil.  

I do cheat every now and then with some real, unsalted, artisan butter.  The amount I eat is so small, but the flavor is so rich that it is all worth it and pain free.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I am continually reading new articles on Crohn's Disease followed up with research on secondary items to boost my understanding of the main article.  I find it interesting how validation and precedent are many times manipulated by an author in order to boost their opinion or point of view.  Don't get me wrong, I do the same thing.  A well written article will use validation and precedent as a tool to augment the point of view and the perceived reliability of the author.  What brought this thought process on are the two articles below:

While these are both very good and very interesting articles with relevance toward those with Crohn's and Colitis, the author's have disguised their opinions very deftly with citations and self-referencing titles.  Many people would argue that these people are, in many cases, experts in their field and I would agree with the sentiment.  The issue that comes about over time is that people, both expert and layman, lose sight of the subjectivity and begin to accept these arguments as wholly objective.  

This conditioning of layman and expert to see opinion as something that is objective has a deleterious effect on patients as people neglect the fact that there might be other information in the world that is either complimentary, supplementary, or contradictory to the original argument.  While an expert may be free thinking, they are so conditioned to adhere to an elder argument (precedent), that there can be many times where they are just as blind as their lay counterparts.

As you can probably see, I have a love-hate relationship with precedent and validation.  I love them as means to learn and move forward.  I hate that they are made to appear black and white; there is no such thing in our world.  I always keep in mind, that a precedent was at some point a new thought that broke previous conventions.  At some point someone had to have free thought and synthesize something new. Isn't that what we should be doing?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Unrequited Hunger

In the past couple days I have seen some questions concerning non-stop hunger come to me from different people; I think this was prompted by my blog about how I don't feel hunger like others.  I got to thinking and it is amazing how a couple of questions can jog someones memory and then lead to one of those "AHA!" moments.  There have been SEVERAL times when I have experienced an unending or insatiable hunger.

After having written Hunger Pains, there are those that would ask how it is I can say I have felt an unending hunger if I usually never feel hungry or full.  I would say to look back at Prednisone.  I didn't go into detail about that long-standing prescription as there were just too many ill side-effects.  It doesn't help that it is touted as a cure-all or used as an umbrella for so many different issues in the medical world.  Nor does it help that most of the people that prescribe this drug don't really know how it will affect their patient; this is why you will only ever see me write about the ill side-effects of prednisone.  I am getting off topic.

One of the side-effects I have experienced while taking prednisone is an unending hunger.  It doesn't start right away and it did take me several years to figure out what was going on.  It is worth noting that there are both short-term and long-term doses of prednisone that are used, depending on the severity of the flare-up, with quick and long taper periods.  I have very rarely ever experienced a feeling of insatiable hunger when on a short-term regimen of prednisone; but whenever I have been on long-term doses I have always gotten to the point that I just never felt full.

Now what does it mean to never feel full?  It means that I was eating over 8,000 calories a day and still not feeling full -- a healthy diet is between 1,500 - 2,000 calories per day for someone that is not too active.  I was eating to the point that if I ate any further I would vomit because of how full my body was, and yet I still did not feel full.  It took me a while to work up enough will-power to actually stop eating with the amount of hunger I felt.  The worst part wasn't the unending hunger.  No, the worst part of this aspect of the prednisone is that I was lulled into a false sense of security for some time.  I felt that I could eat anything and it would not affect me due to the prednisone; but it was only a cover.

While I shan't go in depth on what you should and shouldn't eat while on prednisone, I will say that if you eat contraband while on prednisone in order to try and deal with the hunger you will use up all of your daily funds rather quickly.  Would you run your AC while the windows and doors are open?  If the AC was running so well that it got cold, would you turn on the heat to make it warmer or turn down the AC?  I now watch what I eat while on prednisone and am mindful of stopping when I get to a certain point.  I have memorized the portions that work for me when I feel no hunger and apply those same portions during those times I take prednisone.  I haven't found a way to get rid of the endless hunger other than stopping the prescription.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Do you need more spoons?

Almost a year ago, a friend of mine made a comment about being "out of spoons."  My mind immediately went to the cartoon, "The Tick," and his battle cry, "SPOON!"  I made a comment based upon my initial interpretation.  My friend seemed perplexed and that started a fairly long conversation about what her statement meant.  After talking to her, I looked up "The Spoon Theory" online and read it through.  I can't tell you how many times I have tried to explain how it feels to have Crohn's Disease.  The issue always came in the translation -- feelings are just too subjective.

What made this theory so ingenious was that it took the explanation out of the realm of the mind and made it tangible.  I could tell a friend or an acquaintance that the pain I feel is like a 50 ton wrecking ball with spikes inside my gut, but unless that person experienced the same pain they would just never understand.  Now all I have to do is use this story as a basis for my own explanation.

I tend to use money, interest, and late fees (calculated by the minute) when I try to explain about myself now -- a person's eyes get very big when I start talking about compound interest.  It is amazing how many people assume pain and diseases are linear in their effects.  I wish my experiences were linear, but the pain and issues are always exponential and compound.  I would say that on a good day I have about a dollar's worth of pennies.  Every task has a cost.  I can choose to borrow against that cost and pay later.  The issue comes with the compound interest and the late fees. I have to make that choice to spend the penny now, pay two cents in a couple of minutes, pay fifteen cents in ten minutes, etc.

Yeah...definitely a good read for someone that needs help in trying to explain their situation.

Insurance Company Knows Best

I really hate insurance companies.  Why do I have to prove the same thing EVERY month? My life is difficult as it is without the additional crap that is heaped on me by them; but I am getting ahead of myself.

Several years ago, my liver almost failed and the cause was one of my main medications.  Apparently this medication creates a byproduct that builds-up in and can damage the liver if created in high enough quantities.  This is usually only a problem for people that have a resistance to the drug and have to take very high quantities of it in order to get the desired anti-inflammatory results.  I am NOT one of these people. In fact, my body is VERY receptive to this medication; so receptive that I only have to take the minimum dosage to get the maximum affect. This astonished not only me, but my doctor.  With my life and the way things go for me, I just took this as one of the small miracles that I will be given in my lifetime.

Well, mix me and a small miracle for any amount of time and there is bound to be a disaster.  That time came when I started to feel sick and appear jaundiced (a lot of yellow in my skin).  My doctor was stumped.  Several blood tests showed that my liver enzymes were out of range to a ridiculous level and that my liver was shutting down.  Queue the tests to figure out what is going wrong.  After trying numerous tests, me removing MANY things from my diet and getting a 2ft needle stuck in my side by the Joker (another story), and my specialist doing some research; I was told that there was one possibility that might fix the problem.  My doctor told me that the one medication that was working with me so well might be the cause of my issues due to possible by-products.  A blood test later and this was confirmed.  Apparently I am one of those very few people that creates large amounts of a particular by-product while taking this medicine.  It was this by-product that was causing my liver so many issues.

Lucky me, I not only show that I am an oddity among oddities again; but I also get to take another medicine.  I give my sad face to the doctor; take the new prescription directly to the closest pharmacy; and turn the script in so that I can get rid of the liver failure and yellowing skin.  Within 30 seconds of giving the pharmacist the new script I was told that I couldn't take the medicine because of an interaction with one of my current medicines.  So I explained the situation to him like my doctor had explained it to me.  The new medication is technically for gout.  It isn't supposed to be used with my medication (the one causing liver issues) because the gout medication binds with a by-product of that medication (the one causing my liver issues) and becomes useless against gout.  That is fine, though, since I don't have gout!  In fact, I WANT that binding to occur so that I don't need to have a liver transplant!  The pharmacist looks at me with that "lights are on, but nobody's home" look and says he has to call the doctor.

Anyways, this was my foreshadowing of things to come.  Thanks to people that can't think outside the box, I must have the pharmacist manually enter in this prescription EVERY month, get turned down by the insurance because of the interaction, have the pharmacist call my doctor, then have the doctor fill out the SAME form he/she filled out the month before JUST so I can get one of my prescriptions.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Pain

On Sunday, I finally got to bed at 1am.  I was then woke up at 530am on Monday morning.  By 2pm on Monday, I was feeling the changes in my belly.  I could tell that the lack of sleep was having an ill effect on me.  I could feel ripples of subtle pain as they moved through my mid-section.  It is amazing how nuanced and idiosyncratic pain feels to me now.  In the beginning, it all just felt like pain.  Now, the type of pain tells me what I have to do to move forward and to keep from getting sucked in to that whirlpool leading to a full-blown flair-up.

I drank lots of water, stayed away from edible contraband, and got through the day.  I think I finally passed out at some point between 10pm and 11pm on Monday.  I woke-up 12 hours later feeling a hell of a lot better.  Even feeling better, I was not back in full form.  I am always amazed at the quick descent into, and the very slow climb out, of this whirlpool.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hunger Pains

I was talking to my partner about Godiva chocolates today.  He was telling me how, as much as he loves it, he doesn't want to eat it unless he is a little hungry.  That was why he didn't want any when we were in the mall the other day -- he wasn't hungry at all.  My first comment to that was, "I don't have that problem."  As I got to thinking about it more, I realized that I haven't really felt hunger like most people do for over 16 years.  I remember what it used to feel like when I was growing up.  I would get a twinge of hunger that would grow the longer I ignored it.  When mealtime came, many times I could recall only the hunger leading up to it.  For some reason, after my first hospital visit, feeling hunger hasn't been the same for me.  For a little over ten years, I never felt hunger -- at all.  I was a 6ft tall man that weighed in at about 100 lbs.  If I didn't remember to eat, then I just didn't remember.  I actually had make a conscious effort to eat for the longest time.  In many cases I would care around bottles of Ensure just to make certain I was getting the nutrition I needed.  

The converse of never feeling hungry was that I also never felt full.  I could eat and eat and I wouldn't know when to stop for the longest time.  Most people rely on that feeling of being sated to stop eating.  I was used to getting that feeling for so long that when it was gone I would eat to the point where I would vomit.  I just ate too much.  I eventually learned to keep better track of the portions to make certain that I stopped myself before getting to the point of rebuke.  At some point, I did start to get back some semblance of hunger pains and feeling of being sated.  It is a bit odd for me now, as I am having to relearn a new set of feelings and urges.  Where as they were gradual in the beginning and non-existent in the middle, they are now more akin to an ON and OFF switch.  One moment I will be fine, and then the following moment I will be excruciatingly famished.  I can be eating and enjoying my meal and then, like a light switch turning off, I am stuffed to the brim.

I have always wondered if others with Crohn's Disease have experienced anything similar.  Have you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I am so tired.  I feel like I could sleep for 24 hours or more.  I wish I could and I know I would sleep that long given the time.  I used to drink 3-4 cups of coffee a day, but I haven't had the time to recuperate from all of that coffee and my sleep deficit is just too great.  Currently, I can't drink more than one coffee a day or I will spiral down.  If I don't get some large amounts of sleep soon, I won't be able to have even a cup of coffee.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Exercise is a really tricky thing for me. In the long run, I know that keeping up an exercise regimen will only benefit me. The issue is with the here and now. As with everything else in my life, there is a precarious balance that I must strike between an active and a sedentary life. It is very easy for me to overexert myself; and the overexertion has nothing to do with how sore my muscles with be the next day. For some reason, too much activity causes inflammation to set in. This means that I have to stop long before I ever get tired or sore. The effects are more pervasive with cardiovascular exercise as compared with any form of weight training -- not a good thing for my heart.

Since my major surgery back in 2001, I have been studying my body's reaction to just about everything I do. In that ten-year span, I have also let myself gain some weight. While I weighed about 100lbs in 2001, I now weight about 195lbs in 2011. I had no issues letting the weight add on, I just looked far too sickly back then -- and it's nice to have a "battery" to fall back on when a flare-up occurs and keeps my body from absorbing anything I put into it. I think that I am at that point where I can start exercising in a more routine manner. I am slowly adding sit-ups, push-ups, and pull-ups into the exercise that I perform. I am taking the stairs when they are available and walking a lot more, in general. I am hoping that layering on additional items over a long period will help me overcome the propensity for a flare-up as has happened in the past.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Refined or Fake?

It is so difficult to find food that is not laden with artificial or refined elements. I don't think people realize just how much it adversely affects their body. I know how it affects my body. For some reason, it takes MUCH less of a bad thing to cause me issues. Whether it be refined sugars or flours (all white), artificial sweeteners (splenda, aspartame, saccharin, etc), or artificial fats (margarine, olestra, etc.), it doesn't take a lot and it all causes me issues. What I find amazing, is that these tortuous elements are put into products and then marketed as Diet or Healthy -- usually Diet. I am happy that the labeling has made my life easier since I will spend less money by NOT purchasing these items and not have to worry about accidentally purchasing any of them. In the beginning, it was quite easy to stay away from all of that crap. Unfortunately, more of these items are seeping into everyday groceries and pre-packaged items. Whereas before, I worried about new items and the slight possibility of something unknown getting into my food, the threat wasn't as great due to the fact that I would be getting low exposure.

I really don't care for the super oily taste of artificial fats. I really dislike the metallic taste of the artificial sugars. The pain that they all cause just gives me pause. I wish that I could be a health nut by choice rather than out of necessity.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


It is amazing how sleep influences my life.  When it comes to my health, it is as close to a panacea as I have found.  If I have eaten something new that causes a flare-up to start, I can usually crawl into bed and sleep off the ill effects so long as I didn't over do it.  I rather like the fact that I can just use my bed as a medication, of sorts.  As with most things in my life, though, sleep is also a very big indicator of where I am, in terms of health.  Wanting more sleep is usually a very good indicator that my body is not doing too well.  There have been times in the past where my body has been so worn down that I have slept for over 24 hours without waking.  At some point in the past, I tried to just push myself through the sleep-craving.  Inevitably, I would get worse to the point where only medication would help the situation.  I now sleep when my body tells me I need to sleep.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Still getting better...

It has now been over a week since my last drink. I had been drinking at least one drink every night for about two weeks. It was at this point that I realized my body diverges from anyone else's body further than what I expected -- I cannot drink continuously over several days.
I have never been a big drinker and it was rare for me to have any bit of alcohol more than once a month. March was a especially trying month for me and I found myself craving certain flavors more often than normal. The toll taken on my body is still not paid in full. I still feel the need to sleep for several days without waking up. I won't be drinking that much ever again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I am not a big drinker. I never have been and I doubt I ever will be. Going beyond the fact that I don't like most cheap brands of liqueur or beer, I have also come to despise the Crohn's side affects that come along with imbibing. The biggest factor for me is hydration. My body needs a lot of water (without sugars or salts) in order to remain in working order. The less water in my system, the more likely I am to have a flair-up. Alcohol, in it's myriad forms, tends to dehydrate any normal person. I think you can see where I am heading with this.

I have relegated myself to one or two drinks on any given day for this reason. If I go over that number, then I am able to feel my insides starting to bind and swell. God forbid I drink more than once every four days as I will again go into a downward spiral.

Going beyond quantity and timing, the type of alcohol also plays a big part. Does it have dairy? Excess sugar? Additional fat? A higher alcohol content? Certain ingredients that could be considered contraband to my already compromised system? This is a lot of thought going into something that is supposed to be relaxing, social, and fun.

It's a good thing that I don't like sweet drinks that much since refined sugars tend to take a greater toll on me; but that's another article.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fatty Fat Fat

So many people are obsessed with being thin. If even an iota of fat is visible on someone, ridicule and zingers follow from every quarter. I don't understand where this fat-phobia comes from. Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating a life of obesity. I am advocating staying away from a lifestyle or a diet that would make you look like either Paris Hilton (too thin), Kate Moss (MUCH too thin), Chris Farley (too large), or John Candy (MUCH too large.)
It is fairly well publicized what happens when someone grows too large. For someone with Crohn's, being too thin can be just as deadly. There have been several times where I have lost large amounts of weight in two to three days. When you are thin and lose between thirty and fifty pounds in such a short time you are going to the hospital no matter the situation.
When my Crohn's first manifested, I was 150 pounds and 6 feet tall. I lost forty pounds in a matter of two days. Suffice to say, I was in the hospital for quite some time. Over the course of the next decade, I would have a flair, lose a large amount of weight, and then precariously work my way back to my "perfect" weight.
Then the worst possible thing happened -- my Crohn's caused my intestine to hemorrhage. I will go into more detail concerning the surgery at a later time. The aftermath left me out of commission for over six months and unable to lift anything over five pounds for longer than that. My newfound weakness, coupled with the fact that my belly had been sewn-up in a jumbled manner, helped me to decide to put on extra weight. It was about 18 months after the surgery when my next flair occurred. At this point I was weighing about 180 pounds and starting to show a bit of a belly. For someone that is obsessive-compulsive about his weight, it was very difficult to put the weight on while watching my belly grow larger. I still lost 30 pounds, but this time I didn't have to go to the hospital.
I have found that keeping myself between 30 to 50 pounds over my "ideal" weight helps keep me out of the hospital when I do have a flair-up. If I go any over that, I start to get sluggish, experience acid reflux, and am unable to fit into my clothes. Having had a lot of time to think it over, I can only conclude that it has to do with the inflammation that occurs in the intestine. Someone suffering from Crohn's Disease has issues absorbing nutrients from the food they eat on any given day. Add in a bout of inflammation where the body is unable to absorb anything and you have an issue. Anyone that is thin will wind up using all of their reserves before the inflammation is gone.
A little extra weight can only help you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I have just finished my latest regimen of Prednisone. My flare-ups, while just as painful, are lasting shorter periods of time as I figure out the nuance of what I can and cannot eat. The fact that I can self-administer Prednisone is a big help. It is so sad that so many people have made the administration of prescriptions so difficult. I have heard stories about people overdoing their dosages of Prednisone just so they don't have to deal with the pain of their Crohn's Disease. I hate taking Prednisone.
There are TOO many issues that arise from poor Prednisone management.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I recently had a flare-up of my Crohn's Disease.  For those that aren't aware of the terminology, "flare-up" refers to the fact that my auto-immune disorder became active.  For those of you that are aware, you know that this was a very painful and long experience.  After this most recent flare, I decided I needed to keep a more detailed and close watch on what was going on in my life.  There are so many factors that can lead up to a flare and controlling all of them is nearly impossible.  I have found, though, that I can plan out for eventualities.  I seem to have hit the proverbial wall with my progress.

With this blog, I will be documenting all of my known flare catalysts.  The reason I say " known..." is that Crohn's Disease is notorious for not being a very uniform condition.  In laying out all of my catalysts, I am hoping that others that suffer can either use the information as a starting point -- and not make my mistakes -- and either affirm or disaffirm whether or not the condition is non-uniform.  I already know that my diet, stress, amount of sleep (or lack thereof), and exercise (or lack thereof) play into when I have a flare.  Here's hoping I start to find a bigger pattern in how they work together while sharing some of the telltale signs I have learned about myself.