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.