Sunday, July 29, 2012

Down and Out

This past week has been a tad difficult for me. Not only did I sprain my left foot, but I also started a caffeine detox regimen to reduce my caffeine intake to 100mg/day. I have finished my first week of the detox, but it takes three to four weeks for anyone addicted to coffee to fully acclimate and for the hormonal imbalance we impose on our bodies to rebalance. Anyone that has gone through "die-off" knows a little about how this feels. Regardless of the situation I am in, the lethargy I am fighting, and the headaches I am feeling I find that after this first week I am starting to feel different. Knowing a definitive timeline for my body to rebalance has truly helped me keep on track. I have had a cup of coffee in front of me every morning just so that I knew I had the willpower to deny the addiction rather than just staying away from coffee altogether. I still allow myself tea (hot and iced) throughout the day, but the amount of caffeine in the tea does not go over my goal threshold. 

I may be absent from much of the world while my mind clears. Today is the first day in a week that my mind has been clear and I have not had a headache.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dangers of Health

I don't know exactly what I did to my left foot, but it really hurts like hell. I cannot put much weight on it at all. The pain began this past Friday and grew through Saturday. I did a bunch of research and found that the area that was hurt was my midfoot and that it is actually very common for runners and joggers to sprain or break a bone in this part of the foot. After several self exams, I came to the conclusion that nothing was broken. If my midfoot was broken, pressure would have caused pain and it did not. I can only assume that my long job on Wednesday of last week came back to haunt me on Friday. Regardless, I have been inactive while I have been letting my foot rest. Today I was actually able to put some pressure on it in the afternoon without my foot feeling like it was going to fall off. 

No running for me for four to six weeks.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

De Stress

Find a way to remove excess mental anguish from your life. I think that I am going to do that. I am going to take an electronic time-out in order to do live some. I am hoping that it helps with those things that punching a wall or working out cannot remove.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Biggest Organ

Our skin is so important. It protects our insides from the outside world and it keeps all of our vital fluids and organs from leaking all of the place. There are so many other things that our skin does and most of us just take it for granted because it never asks for anything in return. For some of us, though, our skin can be a great cause of pain, discomfort, and stress. I used to think that my skin was not perfect because of all of the issues that I have had. Like others with an auto-immune disorder, I suffered from eczema, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, etc. I have wrote this previously, but let me reiterate the fact that when you have one auto-immune disorder, the chances of you getting secondary and tertiary disorders jumps exponentially. 

I am certain that many of you have felt some form of uncontrollable itching on your bodies, some form of cracking of the skin, some form of scaling of your skin. None of these things are pleasant. I loved the feel of using Irish Spring soap on my body for so many years. I would use a washcloth saturated with Irish Spring and scrub every single part of my body in extra-hot water. My skin would feel so tight and refreshing after I finished my cleansing routine...for about an hour. For the rest of the day my skin would itch so bad that I could swear I was covered in bees and fire ants stinging me at the same time. For as long as I could remember, that is always what my skin had felt like. I figured that everyone else always felt the same way.

At some point my fingers, eyes, ear lobes, and elbow creases started to dry out and crack. No matter what I did, I couldn't keep them from cracking. Add in scaling and cracking on my scalp and I was not a very happy person. When it was just my skin itching, no one would know what was going on, but when my parents saw the cracking in my skin they started to question what was going on. The conclusion was that my skin was as sensitive as my mother's. I was told that I needed to start using non-soap cleansers since they weren't as harsh on my skin and that I should start using lotion as well to keep my skin hydrated. I was also told that I needed to lower the temperature in my showers since the hot water pulls moisture out of my skin. Like any good little boy, I tried this regime for a day and then went back to what I was previously doing. I didn't feel "clean" when using my mother's products. I found that in addition to having very dry skin I also had very oily skin. This combination makes one very susceptible to eczema and psoriasis. 

Over time, I learned that I needed to stick with the cleansers my mother gave me. To keep my skin from drying out I stuck with the non-soap, turned down the heat on the water considerably, stopped scrubbing, and started using a non-oil based lotion. I had no idea that my skin was so ashen for so many years. As I stuck with the new cleaning regime, the oiliness of my skin lessened quite a bit. I learned from a dermatologist that when you dry out your skin your body uses oil as a means to replenish your skin's vitality by keeping moisture in; oil production goes into overdrive. I was washing my face several times a day because of the oil production. When I learned this new fact, I started using a soft warm cloth to remove excess oil from my skin throughout the day. I was amazed that the amount of oil my body produced went down even further.

I continued to refine my cleansing rituals and the care I put into my skin over the years. I only use Oil of Olay cleansing bars when I shower and I use it at most once a day on my face. I only use a wash cloth with warm water to remove oils and dirt from my face; I never scrub. After a shower, I always use a non-oil, oatmeal based colloidal lotion to keep moisture in my skin. I no longer feel that overall sense of itching anymore. My ear lobes, eyes, fingers, etc, no longer crack the way they used to. I no longer have scaling of my skin. And the wonderful thing is that this regime works VERY well at keeping my skin under control when I have been on prednisone in the past; I just increase the number of light, warm wash cloth wipings. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Big Hot Fudge Sundae with Nuts and Whipped Cream

I have been craving a big hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream for days now. I refuse to break my "vows" and eat one, though. There are just too many things that go wrong when I eat so many offending foods at once. I really miss the layered experience I get from a really well made sundae. I love the hot fudge with the cold ice cream. The fluffiness of the whipped cream, the crunch nuts, the creamy ice cream, and the smooth chocolate. Even after all these years I still have such a vivid memory of the sundae. 

Cravings out of thin air are nothing new for me, but to have one linger for so long is truly tormenting. I live so close to a Dairy Queen and I almost ordered the sundae yesterday. The poor after-effects keep me from going that far, though. If the craving keeps on hammering me, I may break around day eight.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Joints Creak

I can remember my knees being sore and/or painful when I was as young as 14. The joints in my hands and elbows have been sore for a tad longer. Apparently, the pain and soreness I feel in my joints is a mild form of arthritis. It may seem obvious what it is, but for the longest time it was not obvious to me. I knew about arthritis and what it was; but I also knew that it usually only affected aged individuals. I was still young and invincible and so the thought that I might have inflammation of the joints never even crossed my mind. As I have read more over the years, though, I have come to the conclusion that the arthritis has always been there and it is not going away.

As we all know by now, Crohn's Disease is an autoimmune disorder. A person with one autoimmune disorder is more likely to suffer from other such disorders, even if on a lesser level than others. Arthritis is also an autoimmune disorder. I didn't just read this in place. I read it in many places. The correlations and direct relationships that were drawn were amazing. It was probably good that I read about the relationship because it allowed me to start taking some sort of action to help my joints. I started to strengthen the muscles around my joints during my workouts. I listen for snaps and pops in my joints when I am moving, and they happen quite a bit. I always make full-sweep motions to keep my range of motion intact. I try to make certain that I keep my diet in a proper place for my Crohn's since I am certain it is also affecting my arthritis. 

As I get older, though, I am going to have to take a much more direct approach to my creaking joints. My right knee is sore almost every day now and I have to be care when standing after sitting. I refuse to use my arms to boost me out of my seat since I want to keep as much strength in my legs as necessary. Luckily, I have access to large bodies of water where I can keep my body moving and get that full range of motion work-out happening whilst taking off a large bit of the load caused by my weight. I know that I should be able to get cortisone shots, but steroids really are the VERY LAST thing I want to put in my body due to my wonderful past experiences. 

Let the search begin for foods that replace joint lubrication.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fresh Salsa

I made some fresh salsa and, while it was not piquant, it really tasted good. Not only was the salsa SCD legal, but it was also my first attempt at natural fermentation of food. I was rather apprehensive, but am pleasantly surprised by the results. I am not going to go further into the topic of fermentation in this post since I plan on creating a post solely dedicated to the topic. I will post the recipe for the salsa as soon as I have finished tweaking the recipe. The minimum time for fermentation is 12 hours, so I am waiting to see what happens along the way. 
Majority of the Ingredients
All Ingredients Prepared and Mixed Together
After 12 hours of Fermentation and Topping Avocado

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I Reserve the Right

Before posting anything on my blog, I always do a lot or research, testing, self-evaluation, and more research. It is always important that what is immortalized in writing has a sound backing. Most of the time I write in specifics about diet, work out, symptoms, etc., but every now and then I write in a fairly general tone. The general tone is reserved for how I see the world, how my thoughts color my actions, and for topics where I am researching an item yet have not determined a clear set of rules. The topics usually tell about what I experience and why I stay away from that particular item or action.

Unlike many of the "established" researchers, I know and accept the fact that I am still learning about my condition and how it affects my life. While, at times, it may appear as though I am taking a 180 degree turn on a topic, in actuality it is me breaking the code for that particular topic. In many of those cases I am moving from shunning an item altogether to implementing rules that allow me to partake of at least a small part of a given item.

I have added a lot of knowledge recently that has given me some "Ah ha!" moments with previously verboten foods. I have been able to start differentiating some once monolithic items by creating subcategories for the items and have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What About Bob?

I might be showing my age a bit by referencing "What About Bob?," but I don't care. If you haven't seen the movie, you should. It is a funny movie starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. The reason for the reference is due to the mantra that was espoused during the entire movie: "Baby Steps." There was never really a moment where I thought, "Wow, this is a great mantra that I can use to get through my life." Looking back, though, it is what I have always done. I have taken just one moment at a time -- a snippet of a task. There are just so many tasks and situations that occur that feel overwhelming. So overwhelming that you just want to shut down and not deal with the world any longer. I am certain we have all had those situations where there has been a big mountain looming overhead with no end in sight. Any time that I have worried or agonized about that mountain, I have never been able to get around it or climb to the top. The times that I didn't think about the enormity nor the magnitude of the mountain, I was able to overcome the obstacle simply by taking one step at a time.

I find that taking "baby steps" has definitely helped with my Crohn's Disease. Before, I tried to tackle anything and everything in one fell swoop. There was no mountain too big nor too wide. That mentality found me crashing and burning far too many times where my illness was concerned. Crohn's Disease is the biggest mountain I have ever had to climb and I am still climbing it. There is no going around it. We must all make our way to top of this mountain one step at a time all the way to the top. I figure by the time I make it to the top I will be in perfect health, the world will eat and live like me, and I won't have to worry about my dark passenger. In the interim, I will continue to break daunting goals and unrealistic tasks into little snippets so that I can "baby step" to the completion line. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Cannot Control The World

Situations don't create stress, they create unresolved emotions due to their outcomes, or lack thereof. It is these unresolved emotions that create stress. I can remember so many times where I would agonize over something; I would just sit there thinking about what went wrong with the situation and how I could have changed something to better benefit myself. I remember how I agonized over the imminent lack of insurance I was about the experience. I remember how I tried to figure out how I could have changed something about my life so that my liver wouldn't fail. I remember so many situations where my emotions were so out of control and undirected that the stress the emotions caused would literally put me in the hospital. One day I realized that stress is mostly just a byproduct of wasted energy. Our unresolved and undirected emotions are wasted energy. The day that I realized this was the day that I asked my partner a question -- the content of the question is moot -- and his answer was, "I don't know. I don't care. I cannot control the world. Let me focus on what I can control."

This careless statement got me thinking. How much energy had I spent on items that I had no control over? How many times could I have redirected my anger, sadness, or other emotion toward something constructive and under my control. This perspective helped me change my life from one that was fairly negative to one that was a tad more positive. Rather than lamenting the loss of my current insurance, I found a loophole that allowed me to acquire a new insurance. I accepted that I might need a liver transplant and used that energy from worry to change my diet only to later find that my liver miraculously rebounded. The progression and change was anything but easy. Most of us learn to be loathsome of change from an early age, but I learned to harness that emotion as a potent form of energy.

Many years later, I still use my mantra to keep myself focused and to redirect my energy toward constructive tasks that help me. I make good things happen from bad situations. If you have been reading my blog, you will have read about my work out regime and its progress. The progress with my work outs is directly related to my ability to redirect my anger. So many things in my current life make me frequently anger. It is amazing how powerful these raw, unbridled emotions can be and how much energy they carry with them. Rather than punch a wall or lament over a fantasy killing, I would channel that anger into a work out. After the work out there was no more bottled up anger to create undue stress on my body plus I progressed in making my body stronger. 

I cannot control the world, but I can focus on what I CAN control.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pain and Discomfort

As I get older, I expect to feel more pain and discomfort. Why wouldn't I expect this? I hear so many people older than me complaining about how their joints ache, how this body part is not working, or how that body part is always in pain. I got to thinking today and something dawned on me, I have been experiencing these minor aches and pains my entire life and they are the same things that people complain about later in life. The joint pains have been plaguing me since I was 15. My knees still hurt if I sit wrong too long.

At the age of 15, I had the body of a a 45 year old. That is amazing. The pains haven't gone away nor gotten worse, per se. They have remained consistent so long as I keep myself on a proper diet and moving. It does get me to thinking further, though; if people whine this much about such innocuous and minimal things, how would they ever handle what we feel with Crohn's? It's no wonder so many people think we can take a pill and feel better. Many people's worst pain barely compares to our base living conditions.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Weight Not, Want Not

I wrote about my journey with working out in a very general and positive manner. I thought that it would also be good to put in some tips, beyond stretching, for anyone starting a new work out that would help them follow through and remain dedicated.

1 Proper Form
Proper form in exercises is very important. One of the many reasons that I chose the regime I use is that I work out nude at home without anyone to spot me. My endurance training allows me to keep an eye on my form without having the need of another person to correct what I might be doing wrong. I am able to keep my motions going in the proper directions; make certain you research position and direction before starting. A mirror and/or a recording devise are wonderful tools in making certain you are using proper positioning and direction.

Form is more than just direction and position, though. Form is also about control and speed. You cannot move so fast that you lose control; an accident is bound to happen. You are in control of your work out so long as you are able to keep your movements smooth, full and fluid. If at any point your motions become jerky or lack the proper breadth of motion, then it is a fairly good indicator that you have lost control due to too much weight, speed, or usage. A general rule of thumb for speed is that the lifting motion should always take an equal or shorter amount of time than the releasing motion. Never use the releasing motion as a slingshot to build momentum for a lifting motion. It is something many are tempted into due to the lure of gravity, but the potential damage is not worth it. If you are unbalanced, reduce the weight so your speed throughout is equal again.

2. Rest
Workouts only work if you give the muscles time to rest and rebuild. If you continually wear your muscles out without allowing them rest or giving them proper nourishment to rebuild then you will only make your life painful. If you are barely fatiguing your muscles, you can perform an exercise with a particular group two to three times a week. If you are going to the point of failure and beyond with your workouts, you MUST let those muscles rest for at least a week between workouts.

3. Soreness and New Exercises
When starting a new exercise you will find that those muscles will become rather sore rather quick. The initial thought is to let these muscles rest because of how sore they might become after their first work out. While rest for those muscles that we're just initiated into your workout regime is good, not moving them at all can have dire consequences. You must continually stretch muscles and move them in full fluid motions after an initial workout. If you don't move those muscles willingly, soon they will bind up to the point that you will not be able to move any muscles in that set for some time. Incorporate stretching during and after the workouts.

4. Pushing Too Far
Pushing oneself to the limit is a strategy that only works when done properly. There is a yin and yang component to everything; the more you push yourself, the more you must rest to reap the full benefit. If you don't keep that balance one of two things will happen: you will damage your muscles beyond repair or you will have a flare up. Either way you will end up in the hospital.

5. Location
The last thing to consider is where you workout. I am much happier working out at home. I have the capacity and ability to manage my workouts without the need for machines -- at the moment. There was a point I had a gym membership, but I never went due to the hours I spent working and traveling. You might find you do better at a gym than at home. Perhaps a friend's condo has a gym you can use or there is a public park nearby that just makes it easy for you to not only start working out, but continue working out. You need to find that location that becomes your zen spot, if it feels like work rather than a workout then chances are you won't stick with it

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I hate the fact that I experience insomnia. For the past two weeks my sleep schedule has been completely ruined. I am rather happy today, though, due to the fact that I was actually able to sleep through the night. I still haven't figured out why it happens, but I am still trying. The insomnia wouldn't be such a bother if I didn't have Crohns. I would just use the extra hours to be productive.

The issue with insomnia is that it tends to coincide with blockages. For some reason, the lack of sleep causes my intestine to stop functioning at optimum capacity, and I have experienced pain already. Luckily I have learned from past experience to switch to a low residue diet with minimal overall food intake. Not only do I get to feel an unending sleeplessness, but I also get to feel continually famished since I refuse to eat my fill. Just another reason that I must be ever vigilant even though I am technically in remission.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Am Not A Body Builder

My endurance training took some time, but I finally made enough strides with basic exercises. I was easily getting fifty reps per set in four sets. I figured it was time to implement the final phase of my workouts: augmenting my strength by adding weight. I am not going to lie, I thought that I was going to be able to pick up forty pound dumbells at this point. With all of the big, buff people throwing around the weights they use, forty seemed like nothing. To be safe, though, I purchased a set of ten pound dumbells to use. It was amazing; I was still a weakling that could barely lift them. I had to go back to Sports Authority and purchase two-and-a-half pound weights to use.

With all of the kicks to my pride, this one was nothing. I was at a point where I figured I just had to add a couple more steps into the process. I started using my new weights and, for consistency with my goals, kept with my standard fifty reps in a series of four sets. It took me about six months of working out without weights to get to benchmarks. When I started using my first set of weights, it took me about four months before I started to hit the benchmarks I had set in different exercises. I moved on to the ten pound weights I had previously purchased and maxed myself put after three months. Talk about an adrenaline rush to realize that my muscles were gaining strength at a quicker and quicker rate. I moved to twenty, thirty, and then forty in the weights I was using. My body's progress had hit its limit though. At twenty pounds and above, I was finding that it was taking me about two months to hit my benchmarks.

When I made the two month mark with the forty pound weights and still hadn't passed twenty reps, I knew something was wrong. My muscles had become complacent and had hit a road block. I didn't have anyone to help with workouts, so I had to be careful with my safety. With all of my knowledge and research, I knew this point would come but I figured I would be bench pressing 250 pounds at that point rather than eighty. I decided to implement some new techniques. The first thing I did was relegate certain muscles to once or twice a week only. I needed to let my muscles fully rest. The second was to start using many more lesser used exercises that directly targeted secondary and tertiary muscles for strength in those muscles. After a few weeks, I had passed the twenty rep mark in several exercises with the forty pound weights.

The third technique that I incorporated was negative reps. This refers to doing as many reps as you can per set without a set number of sets. I then went further with it by downgrading the weight in the negative reps. What does all of that mean? Using the press as an example, I would press eighty pounds until failure wait a few minutes and then press eighty pounds again until failure. I would keep this up until I couldn't press more than ten in a set. I would then pick up half the weight and continue to failure and so on until I was just making the pressing motions. You do NOT want to do this more than once a week!

I am still working on those forty pound dumbells, but I have made it up to fifty reps in at least two of the sets. I have added more exercises to create a synergy. Sometimes, I may not perform a certain exercise for two weeks, but I experience no lack of strength and in some cases come back with double the capacity. The best part about all of this tedium is that my body never feels fatigued under normal conditions anymore. My mind is an entirely different matter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Giving up

What does it mean to you? I would imagine it means a lot of different things to different people. I have seen a lot of recent talk from IBD afflicted individuals concerning giving up were the intonation is suicide or wasting away. They talk about giving up their life. Anyone that has been through what many of us are going through would have to be made of stone physically and mentally to not have thought in this manner at least once. I am not going to lie, ending my own life was a thought that has crossed my mind more than once in the distant past. Pain, suffering, and harsh criticism my unknowing people can lead us there. There were two realizations I had in my life that changed my definition of "giving up."

The first swift kick in the ass I received that gave me greater perspective was when I started Remicade. Remicade was administered in the oncology ward and I was able to see many other people that were also receiving infusions. Their infusions were taking eight to twelve hours to administer compared to my paltry three to four hour drip. These people were actually dying in front of me from cancer and other unknown diseases. They were out of energy like me, but they were happy and positive. The lynch pin was when a five year old girl going through chemo got out of her chair after her infusion and started playing. How could these people be stronger than me?

The second realization for me was that sometimes giving up means giving up more than initially intended. In other words, certain things are tied together. The epiphany was that giving up was a conscious decision to remove something from this world that impacted my life. The times I wanted to give up on my life made me think about the fact that I would also have to give up my family and friends. I really didn't want to give up either of those things. With that in mind I decided to give up items that didn't actively bring something positive to my life or items that damaged my body. I must admit that giving up singular items is much easier than giving up pluralistic ones. 

In the end, I did give up. Just not in the manner that everyone assumes when using that phrase.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Which Step Have You Reached Today?

I think this particular drawing from Facebook Art is quite illustrative of what those with an auto-immune disease go through on a daily basis. I remember when the person that shared this with me posted this. I remembered when I could never make it to the top of the ladder. At this point, I always make it to the top without fail. There are some days that it is more difficult, but I push myself through. That first step -- for me that is getting out of bed -- is always the hardest no matter what state of remission I am in.