Archive for Crohn’s Disease

I Finally Got My New Medicine

So roughly two months ago my doctor recommended I go on Humeria because the inflammation spread to my small intestine. My current medication only treated the large intestine. Why it took my insurance company two months to approve the medicine, only for me to end up getting Cimzia, I will never understand. I wish I could sue those imbeciles for pain and suffering because of the two times I got sick while waiting for the medicine.

Anyway, Humeria and Cimzia are two medications used for Crohn’s disease as well as arthritis and psoriasis. They stop the inflammation from happening and in my case, will prevent scar tissue from forming in my gut as a result which would cause a blockage, which would cause me to need surgery down the road.  I was unhappy about learning that they’re both injectable only but I was convinced that they’d be helpful to me. Today I got my first shots. They hurt a little but weren’t terrible. I wasn’t able to look at myself being injected let alone inject myself. Cimzia needs to come out with a pen. As far as side effects go, one of my legs was somewhat sore for a while, but it wasn’t terrible.

I’m feeling optimistic. My doctor says it’ll take a few weeks for me to notice if there’s a change.  He says every time he’s put Crohn’s patients on these drugs they normally call him back 6 weeks later saying they didn’t realize how sick they were because they’re so well now. I am so eagerly anticipating for that to happen.

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Review: Forks Over Knives

I first heard of this movie when I went to NYC’s first annual vegetarian food festival  way back in March. I was told it was a documentary about the benefits of a plant based diet. I finally got the chance to watch it when my dad found it on Netflix, we watched it and I thought it was very interesting.

The first thing I liked about the movie is that I don’t think they ever said the word “vegetarian.” “Vegan” was said only once, by a man being interviewed.What they do say many, many times is “a whole foods plant based diet.” It’s essentially a vegan diet but not in the way you’d think, no refined anything, no processed anything. That means all of those processed vegan meats and other processed vegan garbage is out.

They approach they used was research based. It was about two doctors and what they saw in their studies. One thing they found was that protein from animal sources can trigger cancer, eliminating it or greatly reducing it can reverse the cancer. They had a record of deaths occurring in a country in Europe due to heart disease (I forget which). Anyway, during WWII the Germans took all their livestock to feed the army and the people were pretty much forced to eat a plant based diet. During this time the number of deaths from heart disease dropped significantly, and after the war they went back up to their previous levels. Mostly they talk about the impact of the western diet vs. a whole foods plant based diet has in regards to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. They spoke with a woman who reversed her diabetes with the diet as well as a woman who reversed breast cancer with it.

What I found interesting was the athlete and group of firemen they spoke with. The athlete said he initially gave up dairy because of an allergy but then decided to give up chicken and fish to see how it’d go. He found that it worked great and he looks like he’s in excellent shape. The group of firemen started the diet after learning that one of their own had an insanely high cholesterol… it was in the 300’s, but dropped over 100 points after 3 weeks of being on a plant based diet. They also said about half of firefighter fatalities are due to heart disease, something that’s so easily preventable with diet. Keeping firefighters not only helps them, but everyone else who depends on them.

There were a few things the movie didn’t really touch on that much, like why they didn’t use oil, or why fish is bad. They didn’t really touch on all of the contamination in animal products. They didn’t give any recipes, and it seems that they were just eating salads. However, the film’s website does offer recipes. If you’re squeamish I recommend watching with someone who is not. Ask them to tell you when to open your eyes since there are numerous clips of surgery footage, mostly for surgery related to heart disease.

I’d recommend this movie to anyone interested in medicine, health or just improving their life.  I enjoyed it and thought it was very interesting. I personally could relate to it because I’m trying to improve my own health right now by changing my diet. One thing I’ll say about changing your diet for the better is that I didn’t expect it to be empowering at all. I gained control of my life when I began saying “no” to the processed foods I had developed low grade addictions to.  At first I was hoping it would be temporary but now I have no problem giving up the crap I used to eat forever if it means I’ll continue to feel great. It’s renewed the hope I have of arriving at the day when I’m able to go off my medication and live a Crohn’s-free healthy life.

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I Love This Bread

This is probably going to be one of my lamest posts ever, but I had to write it. I love this bread, I love this bread so much.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve stopped eating anything with yeast in it. I hadn’t had bread for weeks and was really craving some. I bought this *true* sourdough bread at my local health food store a few days ago. It’s Berlin Natural Bakery‘s sourdough spelt bread. I love it so much. My mom says its probably because I haven’t had bread in ages but this bread has such an awesome flavor. It has a nice distinct sourdough taste, but it’s not too strong. Adding to the awesomeness of this bread is the fact that it only has three ingredients: Whole Grain Spelt flour, water, and sea salt. It’s not the cheapest bread, costing about $6 a loaf, but it’s totally non-GMO and 100% awesome.

I also owe a lot to this bread. Today while in the drug store I had to walk past the snack aisle and of course I wanted a lot of that crap. But I refuse to cave. I told myself to be good, and that I’d reward myself with that awesome bread when I got home. The peanut butter and honey sandwich I had when I got home was so awesome.  I am so happy I have a bread fix now.

I was disappointed with the other breads Berlin Natural Bakery listed on their website, since this appears to be their only bread without yeast. My biggest disappointment is that they have yeast as an ingredient in their “biblical” bread. In Bible times there was no yeast -_-

I also bought another type of yeast-free bread.It appears to be made for someone who’s allergic to just about everything in addition to having celiac’s.

This bread also tastes awesome, and costs around $7 and has a similar sourdough taste to the other bread I mentioned, however they’re both different in their own way. This bread is less awesome because it has a lot more ingredients, but it’s still better than the typical bread you’d buy in a store. This bread is made by Food for Life. I’ve already mentioned my disappointment with them having yeast in most of their other products.. especially the bread that they decided to name after Ezekiel. There was no yeast in Ezekiel’s time.

Sorry for hating on yeast, but it is my personal belief that we are totally not evolved to consume it, as well as most of the crap in the western/first world country diet. I further believe that we’re not going to adapt to these news food items since the health problems they cause tend to kill people after they reproduce. In the case of obesity, it doesn’t seem to stop people from mating and producing children in the first place. Though it does make them less desirable as mates I suppose.

I seriously need to get sourdough starter and make my own bread…

In other news, I have *way* more energy after being on this no yeast, no sugar diet for a few weeks. It’s awesomely insane.That is all.

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Sugar and Yeast Detox

So as you should know by now, I have Crohn’s Disease. This past semester has been insane and because of my schedule it was near impossible for me to see the doctor. I was basically sick the entire semester, first with allergies and a sinus infection and later with stomach pains. I had to stop student teaching earlier than I wanted to due to the stomach pain and needing to be able to eat at certain times. After I stopped I was able to see the doctor, they drew blood and checked my stool for a certain type of infection. They saw nothing of interested besides my blood showing high inflammation. He had me get a CT scan to check for abscesses. Luckily I had none, but there were new areas of inflammation. Previously I had only had areas of Crohn’s in my large intestine and the very end of my small intestine. The bitch decided to expand. My doctor now wants to change my medication to an injectible one that treats the whole intestinal tract as opposed to just the end.

That was my wake up call. I had gone on certain food detoxes before when I was having flares only to go back to eating crap as soon as I started feeling better. Now I know you can’t just make a change until you feel better. You have to make a full on life style change. My change: no more refined sugar or yeast, no dairy products high in lactose, as few processed foods as possible, and high amounts of anti-inflammatory foods in addition to taking curcumin and artichoke supplements (both have anti-inflammatory properties) .

Now the only types of sugar I’m having are ones already occurring in fruit, honey, (real) maple syrup and possibly agave syrup once I learn more about it. It’s been really interesting. When you stop eating things with added sugar, your palate improves insanely. I used to always put butter or brown sugar on my sweet potatoes. When I first started eating them plain I wasn’t crazy about it, but after the second or third time I became able to taste the natural sugar that was already in it. I’ve also been reading labels on food a lot more. I’ve learned that they add sugar to *everything* and I have no idea why.

As for yeast, you may not know that as a society we’ve really only been using yeast for the past 100 years or so. Prior to that sour dough was used. You can find sour dough bread in just about any store these days, but you’ll see yeast in the ingredients. I’m not eating anything with yeast because there’s a theory that Crohn’s disease can be caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the intestine, and going without it has helped me feel better in the past.This is another difficult thing because yeast is in so many things it doesn’t even need to be in like hard pretzels, flat bread, some tortillas, soup stock and so many other places you wouldn’t expect to find it. What’s the most ironic is that yeast is in a brand of bread sold called Ezekiel bread because it’s based on the recipe that God gave to him in the Bible. They had no yeast in the Bible. It should really be called Ezekiel Inspired bread since they don’t follow the recipe given in the Bible.

So here are some things I’ve been eating

Breakfast – fruits, sweet potato, oatmeal, things listed for lunch/dinner

Lunch/Dinner – fish, rice, poultry, lots of vegetables, wraps with tortillas that have no yeast

Desserts/Snacks – baklava made by my mother with a lot less honey, these granola bar things my mom makes but now she’s been making them with no sugar, veggies and special peanut butter with no sugar in it.

In the end I’m still probably going to take the new medication just because I don’t want stress next semester to screw me over. But I can now say I’ve reached the point of where I am willing to permanently change my diet in just about any way to not need to be on medication for the rest of my life.

Already I’m finding that I miss a lot of things but I’ve also come to appreciate the things I can have a lot more. Plus I’m feeling a lot better.

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Back To School Next week

So I quit my job at the movie theater a while ago. I’m pretty glad I did. It had awesome fringe benefits (free movies, free movie posters, free popcorn), but it came with a downside. That downside being the stupidest customers ever. People who don’t know what they want to see and want *you* to decide for them, people that bitch when you ID them for R movies, immigrants who can’t speak English and make almost NO effort to do so and the shitty parents who have no problem taking their 5 year olds into R-rated movies (specifically The Hangover). Plus this job killed my summer, I didn’t get the chance to prep for any of the exams I wanted to and I never got driving lessons.

Next semester I’ll be student teaching 6th graders. I’m looking forward to it, but I have a feeling I won’t have a life since education classes require papers. I’m also taking two math classes, Euclidean Geometry and Abstract Algebra.  The Geometry professor is the best professor ever according to everyone. Likewise, according to everyone Abstract Algebra is the *worst* class ever no matter who you take it with, but I made sure to take it with the best prof out of the three who teach the class.

I also had the most alcohol I’ve ever had in my life in the past two weeks (and it wasn’t much). A bit more than half a normal serving of mead (at the Renn Faire) and about 3/4 of a beer. Having Crohn’s Disease I was warned against drinking alcohol by the internet, but my doctor told me that you need to live your life and as long as I didn’t go too extreme I should be fine. I had no problems with the mead, it was awesome! However, I am *never* drinking beer again. Even the alcohol free kind. NEVER EVER AGAIN. It made me puke, get the runs, have chills and left me with stomach pains that days latter still showed up on occasion.

So upon doing research I discovered that a good number of people with Chrons or Colitis are ok with wine but not with beer. One study claims that its based on the sugar content of the drink, but I was fine with the sweet mead. I think its because beer is heavily yeasted. When I was looking up how wine and beer were made, the first recipe ever found for beer included throwing in bits of undercooked bread to act as a yeast (since they had no real yeast back then). The first recipes for wine only consisted of letting smashed grapes sit long enough. These days yeast is added in the wine making process, but way less than is added in the beer making process (which is a much more confusing process).

I’m a bit saddened at this, since I did enjoy the taste of the beer I had and was looking forward to trying a legit German beer or going to an Oktoberfest. But then again I’m thankful I could tolerate the mead since many people with Crohn’s can’t tolerate any alcohol period. Mead is the true drink of my ancestors anyway, though I will never be able to truely enjoy a hofbrauhaus 😦 I never even had the desire to get drunk… I just want to have one beer with a German meal and fellow Germans and Germans at heart :D. Who knows it might happen in the future if I can go into remission long enough, or in the future should I decide to get pregnant and my Crohn’s goes away while I am pregnant I can drink sometimes. And don’t bitch about what I just said. One glass of wine will not hurt a baby. Both of my grandmothers smoked, drank and took medication while pregnant with my parents, aunts and uncles and all of them turned out fine, except one of my uncles having been born with kidney problems.

All of that aside I both want to and don’t want to go back to school right now. But I am looking forward to the fall, Halloween, comic-con and Thanksgiving. I also think I’ll enjoy student teaching. The main thing I’m worried about is the fact that the girl I was paired with for the fall semester doesn’t speak English too well, and we have to write joint papers together. I’ve been able to work with people who were still learning English in the past well enough, but speaking English and writing in English and two very different things. I already know I’m going to be the editor all the time. Not something I’m happy with.

I’ll end with a picture of something I’d love to do to an honors class on April Fools day. (Wouldn’t do this to a normal class out of sympathy for the slow kids).

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The Problem With Gastroentrologists and 17 year olds.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Crohn’s post, but after having my doctor tell me I’ve been doing very well for a Crohn’s patient I began to remember what was going on in my life when I was 17.

When I was 17 I had gone from weighing 117lbs to 104lbs, I had lots of stomach aches and my household had a constant supply of immodium and pepto-bismol for me. I was miserable and we thought I had irritable bowl syndrome based on things we read online. When we told my pediatrician about the problems I was having he wanted to send me to a gastroenterologist but there was one problem, I was 17.  He said pediatric gastroenterologist usually stop seeing patients at 16, and the normal ones don’t start seeing patients until they’re 18. He managed to send me to one, who when I got there, didn’t want to take me because I was 17. After we pressured him a bit,  he gave me a check up and merely told me to try and see if I was lactose intolerant by cutting dairy out of my diet.

Nothing much happened after that except me discovering that carrageenan was a major trigger of my episodes. I gained back some weight by cutting it out of my diet, and we thought my problem was solved. But then I kept having problems and not attributing it to anything more than my self diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome. It wasn’t until after my father met  a great gastroenterologist who removed some of his gallstones that I finally got some help. I was 19 when I was finally at the point where I was so fed up with being sick that I wanted my intestines replaced with new ones that worked properly.

This doctor, my current GI, is super awesome. On my first visit he said he thought I was probably just another college kid with irritable bowel, that he’d send me to a nutritionist and give me some medication. But because he is super awesome he ran every possible blood test he could run for digestive problems, he took *two* viles of blood from me there were so many tests. And I tested positive for high rates of this inflammation thing/indicator or whatever which was a sign that I had Crohn’s. Then I had the colon-scope, got medication, and have been doing much better. At first I was upset and thought I had some problem that only old people are supposed to have.Then I learned that many people who get Crohn’s are diagnosed when they’re between 15 and 30, or when they’re older than 60.I also read somewhere that 1 in 3 people have some sort of digestive problem in the developed world (probably due to our screwed up diets), whereas they are practically nonexistent in places like Africa.

Now I started to wonder, if it is known that 15-30 year olds are getting Crohn’s, and 17 year olds are in that bracket, why the F*CK won’t pediatric or normal gastroenterologists take them? I’ve heard of special adolescent doctors on the news, but I don’t know of any. Even if I did, what if they didn’t take my insurance or were several hours away from where I lived and it’d take months to get an appointment with them??

It just really pisses me off that if I could have seen a decent gastroenterologist when I was 17, I could’ve started getting treatment then. It also pisses me off that the first guy I saw didn’t run all of the blood tests that my super awesome doctor did. But what pisses me off the most is that there have to be other 17 year olds out there that had the same exact problem that I did. And unless they’re so sick that they end up being hospitalized they’ll go untreated for at least a year.

If you have or are an adolescent that has a ton of stomach problems, diarrhea, vomiting paired with fevers and chills any signs of irritable bowel, crohn’s or colitis do not stop until a doctor takes you and get the treatment you deserve. Make them run every blood test to see what could be wrong with you, not just the standard ones.

And that’s all for this rant.

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Things I Do to Manage Crohn’s

Since I allowed my blog to show up in search engine results I saw that I got a fair amount of hits from people looking for information on Crohn”s Disease. I never wanted to make this blog be about Crohn’s Disease (I refuse to be defined by my physical condition) but I wouldn’t mind helping out other people who have Crohn’s. And before you read any of this note that I am not a doctor, I’m just a young adult with Crohn’s Disease. If you think that you may have Crohn’s or IBS or Ulcerative Colitis, do not self-diagnose, go see a gastroenterologist. Anyway, here’s stuff that has helped me.

1. Medication – Initially I was taking Asacol (an anti-inflammatory) and some very expensive steroids that I forgot the name of. After a few months he took me off of the steroids and kept me on Asacol. Roughly a year later he switched me from Asacol to Lialda. Lialda is basically the same thing as Asacol, only you need to take it once a day instead of three times a day.

2. Supplements – Everyday I take 500MG of Glutamine, a probiotic with 16 strains of bacteria and 500 mcg of B12.

I started taking the Glutamine after reading that it can help heal ulcers, I find that it helps. I’ve always strongly believed in probiotics as well. The one I have pictured doesn’t have patented GMO bacteria in it like the ones you see advertised on TV. I really feel like the GMO probiotics are just the pharmaceutical companies trying to make more money, and I’ve never liked the idea of GMOs anyway. Lastly, my mother was the one who forced me to start taking B12. She read that people with Crohn’s can have trouble absorbing B12, and that B12 is very important for one’s mental state. I have realized that times when I’ve gotten extremely irrational and stressed myself out as a result, I hadn’t been taking my B12.

I should be taking a multi-vitamin every day as well, but I end up forgetting to most of the time. I hate taking so many pills in the morning and plan to take my multi later on in the day but that never happens.

3. Stress Management – This is the hardest thing out of all of them.  I could talk about deep breathing and meditation but that’s not what helped me, what helped me was finally changing my mindset. For me this meant realizing what it really meant for me to do my best. I used to have the mindset that I would either get an A on an exam or fail it, B’s weren’t possible. This wasn’t because I couldn’t accept the grade of  a C or a B, but because I felt that if I didn’t know everything, I knew nothing and would fail.

My father has always told me that he’s happy as long as I do my best. But if I got an 80 on an exam I felt that it wasn’t my best because I could have studied more. I have now learned that that is not true. I can only study so much without going insane. When I was getting straight A’s (I’m not exaggerating) at an engineering school I had no social life and I was miserable. I was always on edge with school work and couldn’t let myself relax. After a year and a half of that I transferred to a college where I could enter a math education program. When I got there I was finally able to let myself relax a little. Then I came to see that doing my best didn’t mean getting 100’s, it meant studying without going crazy and getting whatever grade that earned me.

I still get stressed out before some exams, but that’s still better than getting stressed out before *every* exam.

4. Avoiding Trigger Foods – This differs from person to person. For me, I can eat these things in controlled amounts if I’ve been feeling well for an extended period of time and am not under stress, if not I must avoid them like the plague.

Carageenan – This is an additive that comes from seaweed. It’s in ice-cream, vegan meat substitutes, soy milk and other processed foods. This is the ingredient that got me reading the ingredient labels of everything. If you’re fine drinking milk and eating yogurt, but ice cream bothers you, you could have an issue with carageenan. Likewise, if you think you may have a soy allergy because soy milk and vegan soy meats have made you feel sick, carageenan may be your real problem.  I recommend googling “carageenan” most of the results on the first page will be about it’s negative aspects. You can expect me to devote an entire blog to this horrible additive in the future.

Insoluble Fiber – Bran, seeds, popcorn, etc. This will give me diarrhea. Soluble fiber on the other hand is a good thing.

Greasy/Fried Foods – This will also give me diarrhea and stomach pains. On the bright side I can enjoy these foods if I’ve been feeling well for a while as long as I don’t eat too much. If I’m not feeling well, the taste of the grease has a way of alerting my brain which then alerts me to stop eating whatever I’m eating.

This is all I have at the moment. If you want to get active in spreading awareness about IBD I suggest taking a look at CCFA’s website, and donating or participating in a walk.

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The Worst Crohn’s Flare Up OF MY LIFE

I needed to wait until I had recovered a fair bit before writing this. If medical things bother you I suggest that you don’t read this post or look at any of the pictures.

For those of you that don’t know, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in July of 2009. Though I think it may have first started when I was in middle school, bad symptoms didn’t start until my junior year of high school.First I though I had IBS, I had eliminated the following foods from my diet: carrageenan (which brought on the worst symptoms), insoluble fiber, greasy fried things, and things with too much sugar, but I was still having stomach pains.

Since being diagnosed I was put on medication and am feeling much better. I even gained some weight back. (Originally I was 117 lbs and had some muscle, at my worst I was 102, I had gotten up to 108). But I still have flares occasionally, normally around finals and midterms due to stress. For me a normal flare up would consist of having diarrhea for a few days and possibly a fever. My doctor has put me on antibiotics twice for them because sometimes bacteria is involved.

Last week was pretty stressful. Friday I had diarrhea in the morning, I took imodium and went on with my life. The next day I had diarrhea again, again I took imodium.. but this time I had really horrible stomach pains *all day,* and I’m talking about gas pain… which is really bad. This was not normal Crohn’s pain. I also had a fever. I couldn’t do homework because I got chills sitting at the table. I found myself asking God why he gave me this disease, or better yet asking my soul why it chose to live my life with this disease. I know everything happens for a reason, but I couldn’t figure out what more my soul could learn from the experience.

Sunday was the same thing only worse. Monday was the same thing. I cut class. Tuesday I was slightly better and cut class again. I got into see my GI finally. He said that I probably caught a virus of sorts or have some kind of infection which is being made worse because I have Crohn’s.

He put me on the same medication my dog gets when she has diarrhea. (Zelda most likely has ulcerative colitis, she is my IBD buddy). I also found out if I take the med with alcohol my face will flush red and I will vomit profusely. Good thing I don’t drink 😀

I just started taking it today, but I was already feeling a bit better on Wednesday. Hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.Then I can return (although set back a bit) to my mission of getting back up to 117lbs. I’m 104 lbs now because of this stupid ordeal.

Now for the pictures I promised. I feel like posting pictures of my colon because my past few blogs had no pictures. And those of you studying bio-related things should find these pictures interesting and informative.

This one looks like an angry face XD

That’s all for now! I’ll be back in the future with some math related goodness and a concert review 😀

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