The Fasting and the Furious

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I’m going into day surgery again today to replace the 2 setons I have that help drain any potential abscesses or infections that might be brewing because of my Crohn’s, so I’ve had the day off and am an hour away from going into the hospital.

Anyone heading in for a procedure knows that one of the hardest parts of preparing for it (other than the fear, anxiety, stress, exhaustion…) is fasting – No food or drink 6 hours before you go under general anaesthetic. I’ve looked into the reason behind this and a lot of sources say it’s because when you’re under, the contents of your stomach can flow back into your lungs and cause all sorts of complications. Gross. Either way, fasting when you already are feeling sorry for yourself is not a good combination, and I assure you that by the time I get to the hospital, I will seriously have my cranky pants on and be in some foul mood. Sorry in advance to the doctors and nurses looking after me today!

But there are some(times) wonderful things that I do to distract myself from feeling thirsty and/or hungry…or in my case…hangry.

1. I cleaned the house this morning! I furiously scrubbed and washed the bathrooms, tidied up the bedrooms, put on the laundry and did general sorting. And when all that activity started to make me feel hungry, I would have a nap. Which brings me to the next thing on my list…

2. Naps. They are the best. Sleep away the day! And don’t feel guilty for it. Best way to distract yourself when you’re hungry and low on energy.

3. Have a cool shower and rinse your mouth with some water – the sensation of having something wet in your mouth gives the illusion that you have had something to drink

4. Chew gum – sometimes controversial because it can make you feel hungrier! But I find when you have a minty taste in your mouth, you don’t feel like anything anyway. Alternatively, brush your teeth.

5. Read a book/newspaper/magazine and get some tips about the world or lifestyle. I got a free moisturiser sample with my Marie Claire today. My skin is glowing! hahah

6. Write a blog about distracting yourself from avoiding to eat and drink before surgery (Exhibit A)

7. This is what I ideally would like to do but am yet to do it, mainly because I’m too tired to leave the house before going to hospital, but go get a massage! That would be thoroughly relaxing and distracting.

Things to avoid doing while you are fasting:

1) Do not, under ANY circumstances be around anyone who is eating, unless you are prepared to end the friendship by scowling at them the whole time for satiating their hunger. Also do not cook!
2) Do not enter a restaurant/food court/supermarket – it is amazing when you are hungry how sharpened your senses are… I can smell food from a mile away, and the colours of food seem so bright!
3) Avoid sitting in the sun – the heat will make you feel hungry and will make you even more sweaty and thirsty
4) Avoid watching mainstream tv…there are way too many ads for food! Will just drive you bonkers.

What other tips do you have to distract yourself from pre-op hunger? Would love to hear other suggestions…in the meantime, I am going to have a nap x

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Paradigm shift

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I went and saw Dr. Yuwen Lee (my naturopath/dietician/supplements specialist) yesterday and confessed… I had fallen off the bandwagon several times and had indulged in some gluten, dairy, coffee, soy, corn, potato, salad and fruit… all the yummy things that are on my list of foods to avoid.

I’ve seen myself slip several times since June, but have managed to justify that if I eat really well 99% of the time, then surely that soy latte on the weekend isn’t going to kill me. And plus, on special occasions it doesn’t count (“It’s a wedding! It’s good luck to eat some of the cake!”)…

But what I have noticed is that as soon as I eat some of the forbidden things, my body is much more sensitive to them. I bloat almost immediately, and feel lethargic and sometimes constipated the next day, as I am sure my digestive system has hit overload and is trying to process everything that I have just consumed. My greatest discovery is that the little belly pudge that I have had since I was 16 years old (fondly known as my ‘Buddha Belly’ – rub for good luck!) actually is a result of being in a constant bloated state! What I thought was my “body issue” that I wasted countless years trying to destroy through ab workouts and spanx is actually combated by avoiding gluten and dairy! Wow, what I have put my body through!

Anyway, she reminded me that it just isn’t worth it. Don’t cheat on your diet. You’ll never feel as good as you did before when you were solely on it…the reprimand I expected to hear, albeit not what I enjoyed hearing, as I internally rolled my eyes, stomped my foot and told myself “Come on, what harm is a little salad?”…

But then she said something that completely shifted my inner rebel in its seat –

“You’re so lucky that all you need to do is watch what you eat and take extra supplements to keep your Crohn’s under control”

And boom! There was the paradigm shift.

I am lucky. WOW! With all of these supplements and a restrictive diet, I have been able to feel AMAZING! For the first time in years as a Crohn’s sufferer, I can control a lot of my symptoms just by being good to my body and fueling it with the right foods for me. Why wouldn’t I want this for myself?

I do want this. It’s been a crazy year with my Crohn’s flaring and I need to do my little bit to support my system. It’s not a sacrifice or a burden. It’s what I have to do and the results of doing this have been almost immediate, so I should get back to enjoying that. And now that I have a different perspective of looking at it, as opposed to feeling “restricted” – I am lucky that it doesn’t take that much to feel better.

So in saying that, I found a link for a list of restaurants that are good for my fellow gluten intolerant peeps out there (courtesy of Ashley Hunt)… eat in good health!

Stick your tongue out!

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I’ve always wondered what my naturopath and acupuncturist were looking for when they would ask me to stick out my tongue… apparently it is a gateway (not just to my stomach!) into your internal condition and health.

Indicators such as colour, texture and shape provide an insight in to what is going on inside, and judging by the state of my tongue, I’ve got some damp heat. This is pretty typical considering I am on a lot of medication – it upsets the gut flora (need to double up on my probiotics and acidophilus clearly!) .

And heat is indicative of an inflammatory condition – Crohn’s!

So have a look in the mirror and see what your tongue is telling you – see what you can do to improve your inner health.

 

 

The History of Crohn’s

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Speaking of history, it’s been AGES since I last blogged – mainly because life has gotten in the way, which is a good thing (better than Crohn’s getting in the way!)

Last I left off I was having a meltdown about taking myself to hospital. I was subsequently inundated with messages of love and support as soon as I posted, which was a wonderful reminder to myself that I do not need to suffer on my own. It is so important to have a support network – whether people truly understand what I am going through or not, or whether they understand what Crohn’s is all about, what they do know is that during hard times, I need help, and they can be there for me. I must remember not to always try and put on a brave face – I did that for years hiding what I was going through, and this blog is here to free me of suffering alone and in silence.
So a major shout out to my buddy with the same name as mine… thank you for being there when I didn’t realise how much I really needed someone.

Anyway, back to the history of Crohn’s… a very interesting read (thanks to my sister from another mister and my brother-in-law for getting this article happening!) looking at where it all may have begun to where the awareness of Crohn’s is today. Be aware! And beware! Especially the part that says Crohn’s sufferers have a higher chance of getting bowel cancer. Pfffttt… as if it isn’t hard enough to deal with Crohn’s in the PRESENT to then also cope that somewhere in the FUTURE may be a whole other issue attached to it! *Sigh

Dealing and healing baby… will get there!

An inconvenient truth…

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Yes, I, a 29 year old woman, wants her mummy. My mum who is away on holiday with my dad, I wish she were here. She is the ultimate “Everything will be ok” kind of person, that just being near her or hearing her voice makes you feel safe.

Today I am going back into hospital – 4 days ago I noticed a small abscess forming near my anus, a place where I have had an abscess before, and by Tuesday morning it had become a blister about the size of my pinky nail and everything around the area ached. The pressure behind it feels like you have a marble under your skin – you notice it when you walk or sit. Luckily I was able to squeeze in to see my surgeon that Tuesday morning at 11.30am, who declared at 11.45am that this was just a “niggle” (he didn’t want me to get upset and wanted to remind me that this was NOT a major setback, that this was just a minor situation) that needed to be cleaned out, and that he will replace the seton nearby as well. Let’s do it tomorrow! YAY!

I walked out of there feeling good. I would get this all under control in 24 hours! Sweet! I love it when it can be sorted quickly! Less time to think about it all. Not going to let this situation inconvenience the rest of my life and everything I have planned! Because by getting it done tomorrow, well, that means I can still go to that wedding I need to go to on Saturday, and thank god it’s still school holidays so I can recover for a couple more days after and do nothing, oh but I won’t be able to make my Wednesday night basketball game so I better let my team know, and thank goodness I have that acupuncture appointment on Thursday afternoon which will be great to help clear any general anaeasthetic that might still be lingering…

Oh shit! Who is going to take me into hospital at this short notice? Ehhhh, it’ll be fine, I will get my own way there! I call my husband, explain what’s going on and I can hear the awkwardness in his voice because I know he is super stressed and busy at the moment with work and he’s wondering how he is going to take the time off and I’m all like, “It’s cool! I’ll get a cab there, but you’ll have to pick me up” and I hear him literally exhale in relief that the option for him to go to work is still available.

How awesome am I? I’m not going to make this little “inconvenience” for me inconvenient for others! Plus, I have done this almost a hundred times before. No biggie. I talk to my sister and very nonchalantly tell her my plans for the hospital tomorrow, that I’ll make my own way there. It’s cool, it’s just a “niggle”. I’ll be in and out in no time. She offers to take me there but can’t pick me up because of work, which I think, great! Thanks, and it’ll save me money on that cab ride! At this stage I have not told my parents that I am going into hospital. I don’t want to worry them for something so small that I’ve dealt with so many times before. Plus, I’m feeling so good about it all, no need to upset them.

But now it’s the morning of the procedure and my husband has left for work and my sister just texted me to tell me she can’t take me anymore because she isn’t feeling well, and I’m feeling very sorry for myself. And because I played it so cool yesterday, no one else has made a big deal about it. Exactly the way I thought I wanted it. But no. No, no. I feel like shit today. I am super sooky and I wish my mum was here to take me to the hospital.

I was trying so hard to convince myself that this was no big deal, and on a physical and medical scale, the procedure I am getting done is NOTHING compared to what I’ve endured. And I seriously have done this procedure SO MANY TIMES! So what is wrong with me? I realise that for me, going into hospital by yourself feels horrible – it feels lonely and scary and you feel uncared for. I know this is not true about me and the people who love me, and to be fair, it’s my own fault because I made it seem like it wasn’t a big deal to everyone yesterday. And I know that people go into hospital by themselves ALL the time, I mean, people have their own lives and can’t drop everything for you! I mean, I even managed to convince myself that I too could be one of those people yesterday, but now I am a big fucking wuss. As I get older, I get sadder every time I go into hospital. It’s like a little part of the Hope and Optimism that I hold onto for dear life breaks off inside of me. And on top of it all, I realise that I am embarrassed that this is all happening again. I can almost hear my friends and family rolling their eyes that I am going into hospital YET AGAIN! Yep. That’s me. The Crohn’s girl, going into hospital again. Although, I am sure they are not doing this… I’m just being sook about it all. *sigh

So now that I’ve blogged about it and put it out there, I am feeling much better about it all. Getting to the hospital by myself might turn out to be a super empowering experience for me – I won’t need to keep a brave face for the person with me and won’t need to over analyse the situation… it might help put things into perspective for me that this really ISN’T a big deal. As long as there is someone there to take me home, I’ll be right. I’ll keep you posted with how it all goes. Wish me luck!

Crohnology

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No, I haven’t mispelled chronology – as a History teacher I know how things work in a timeline. What I’ve found in my research and through my searching of treatments that there is a fantastic site called Crohnology which is for Crohn’s sufferers to connect to other Crohnies in their area and trade treatment secrets. When you join, you identify when you were diagnosed, what treatments you tried, and your own wisdom about what worked and didn’t work and the reasons behind it all.

It’s all about Crohn’s patients empowering themselves and others with hopeful advice on treatment options out there, without the feeling that certain doctors are advocating specific treatments, or offering you advice on conflicting treatments. It also gives you the opportunity to chat with other Crohn’s patients, ask questions in forums, and indicate how you are feeling currently on a scale. A great place to start searching for answers, and also a great place to visit when you are having one of those shitty “Why me? day, and you can go online to this support group and see that you are not alone.

 

Letting go of the ‘Shoulds’

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First of all, I’d like to say thank GOD my acupuncturist is back from her holiday after 6 weeks… it’s like I feel like all is right with the world again. At least everything is right in MY world. She’s fabulous.

So while I was enjoying my Friday evening session today, I was reminiscing about the great advice she has given me over the years. Most recently, when I was off loading about all the crazy stuff that happens at my work, and how it should be like this, and how things shouldn’t be a certain way, and how I was going crazy there… and she simply responded to me

“You need to let go of the ‘shoulds’ in your life”

It was a re-awakening. And since then, I have been so much happier at work and at life. Letting go of the anger and frustration that was attached to the way things ‘should’ be left me with so much more time and energy to focus on what WAS in my control, and what was real.

So during my session, while I was talking about how things were going, I thanked her for this absolute gem of advice that she had given me earlier this year that had transformed my life. And of course she added that the emotion of “shoulds” are held in the large intestine. Bloody hell. Isn’t that totally awesome?

It made me think that if I can just get my emotions in a completely blissful state, could I eradicate so many health issues? I’ve read about emotions and their connection to diseases… hence the breakdown of “dis-ease” – being in a state on unease emotionally. Could be amazing!

Breaking the rules

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jellybelly

So this happened last week… I broke the rules. My “healthy eating” diet rules that is.

I had a crappy week – personally and professionally – and as Hump Day approached, I was feeling sorry for myself, staring at the giant 50 flavours of Jelly Belly jelly beans that had been gifted to me about 3 months ago in my office and thought, “Why the hell not?”. I should be proud that I held out from opening them for 3 months! But hey, I cracked and ate all of the “Berry Blue” flavour in one hit (you can see the missing jelly beans in the 2nd row).

Post-consumption, I felt guilty and proceeded to rope in my colleagues into my shame spiral by getting them to play the Jelly Belly game, where I would give them a jelly bean and they would have to guess the flavour. Guilt is better when you share it!

The next day after my jelly belly scandal, I felt fine. Totally fine! I was surprised, but acknowledged that I felt this good because 99.9% of the time I eat totally healthily to support my Crohn’s and my digestive system. What was a handful of processed sugar?

But just as I had opened the box of jelly beans, I too had opened the can of worms… and could not stop myself from making excuses to break all the rules from that day onwards:
Thursday = goodbye to all of the “crushed pineapple” jelly bean flavour.
Friday = goodbye to all of the “lemon drop” jelly bean flavour; cider after work (not meant to have alcohol), and crumbed prawns for dinner.
Sunday (this is where it got majorly out of control) = 2 soy lattes with sugar at brunch (I’m not supposed to have sugar, coffee or soy!), soy pork salad (not supposed to have raw food either!) at lunch, a piece of pear and custard tart (absolutely bloody delicious! But full of sugar, eggs and butter) and a nibble of a cheesecake slice (was making up for lost time on Saturday when I ate well, clearly!)

And by 3.30pm on Sunday, I actually thought my stomach was going to explode. For starters, it swelled like I was 4 months pregnant, was sore, and was gurgling something fierce. I may not have had immediate repercussions for breaking the diet rules, but definitely after a 5 day bender, it all caught up with me! I had hit threshold!

And I have been paying for it ever since, if you know what I mean…

Reflecting on the whole thing now, I realise that it didn’t take much to throw me over the edge – a bad week of managing my emotions and I lost the plot of what was important to me – my health. It also didn’t help that I was surrounding myself with the temptation of deliciously forbidden food, but also that once I had broken a rule, I convinced myself that since I had already done the damage, what was another rule broken? And another, and another….

And yes, it was all terribly delicious and mesmerising at the time, but even with only a week of crappy eating, my body feels “mweh” – I feel hungover in my guts and I have very low energy, which makes me only want to consume more sugar to bring up my mood and overall energy. So now I have to make up for it all and jump back on the wagon. It’s like I am a recovering junk food junkie. One little taste of sugar and I lose it!

“My name is Amber, and I’m a junk-aholic”…

So now I have upped my probiotics, am drinking lots of water, eating good protein in meals, and I need to get rid of that box of jelly beans – outta sight, outta mind!

The moral of the story – it’s ok to lose yourself every once in a while – it is nice to not ALWAYS be following so many rules to be in the perfect, healthy state all the time… but be kind and forgive yourself quickly when you do lose control and try to bring it back together as soon as you can… 5 days was long enough for me, and at least I am lucky enough that I am really aware of how much better I can feel, and that’s incentive enough for me to do the right thing for my health again.

Wish me luck! Xx

Stress head

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Under a Lot of Stress

I went to a workshop with my Year 11 students last week to learn about stress management, and there I was in the back of the lecture room, shushing the students to be quiet so that I could hear what the lecturer was saying….

“Your body doesn’t know the difference between good stress and bad stress”…. OHMIGOD!

Ok, I kinda knew this already (as I was squeezing my squiggy stress ball!), but sometimes you need someone to say it out loud for you to go, oh shiiitttttt… It particularly worries me now because work has been particularly hectic lately, but in a good way – I got a mini promotion at work, and my work load has TREBLED, but it it the challenge I have been looking for. I’ve been working my butt, but I have actually been enjoying it.

But then in the workshop, they went through all the physiological responses your body goes through when it feels stressed, which included digestive issues and a lowered immune system. Great. Fantastic news for someone with an AUTOIMMUNE BOWEL DISEASE!

And I definitely have noticed the difference in my body lately – I feel more tired (at 7.30pm I am ready to go to bed!), feel a bit more mweh and agro in my moods, and swing from constipation one day, to having the runs the next. Am definitely also noticing that I look more bloated as well. I guess things aren’t digesting so well – mentally and physically!

So this workshop was perfectly timed as a reminder to shift everything back into perspective again – I really need to look after myself. Especially after I went super (stupidly) hardcore back at work after my big surgery (refer to my last post).

I think because stress just seems to be so inevitable in life, we all tend to neglect how it really will affect us. But it’s so true – your body reacts to all types of stress in the same way, and that’s not a good thing if you already have a weakened system. So I have to be more mindful of how to reduce the stress levels in my life. Here is a good link to look at stress causes and symptoms: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Here are some of the things I have actively started to do to manage the stress in my life:

1. I’ve written down and printed some inspirational quotes around my office to remind myself of what is important and what is real… #thanksDalaiLama
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2. Taking deep breaths when it feels like things are getting too much, sometimes even counting to 10…
3. Asking myself “Am I profoundly OK with this moment?” and then evaluating if whatever it is really is a big deal to me or not
4. Yoga. Om Shanti Shanti.
5. Watching mindless TV to switch off

I’m sure there are other wonderful things out there to reduce stress… I know that meditation should be high up on that list, but it’s not something that I am currently and consistently doing… even though I know I should. Actually, that should be number 6: Letting go of the “shoulds” in your life. That does help you detach as well. Keeps you from being emotionally invested in situations, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.

So what do you do to reduce stress in your life? Would love to hear other ways of looking after yourself to manage the big S-bomb in our lives! If stress can be managed, then we can all feel a lot happier and healthier.

Not your average super hero…

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So I am currently lying on my couch feeling a little sorry for myself. After my weekend of complete rest and relaxation after my surgery on Friday, I went back to work this week. Now remember, I chucked a sickie on Friday with the “flu” so on Monday when I went in with my waddle walk, and sat down during all of my classes, I told everyone I pulled my groin over the weekend. I even had an elaborate story that I had slipped down some stairs and fell into the splits! Not too many people asked anyway because when you mention “groin injury” from the weekend…well…it just stops people asking questions without sounding like perverts!

Of course when I went back to work this week it was the most bullshit hectic week at work. I stayed back until 6.00pm everyday fixing up paperwork, planning lessons, teaching students, calling parents, organising excursions, issuing detentions, writing back to emails, having staff meetings, attending a literacy workshop, chasing up homework, marking work, arguing with teenage students, designing assessment tasks, completing mid-term reports for the Seniors AND commentated for the Sports Carnival (ok ok, you get the point, teaching is a bloody endless job!) and by Thursday, I was passed out in bed by 8pm, exhausted from the week that was not yet over! And then today, was like the straw that broke the camels back…I finally left work “early” at 4.30pm to “celebrate” my week out of surgery and wanted to go get a massage, and I got stuck in a massive traffic jam because of a 2 car pile up on the Anzac Bridge that left me in the car for almost an hour and a half before I got home. And then it dawned on me… why the hell did I do this to myself?

I am on the verge of tears but I’m just too tired to cry. I know there is no point regretting the week that has just been because I can’t change any of it now… but I realise that I went back to work AND had a crazy week because I think I wanted to prove something…prove something to myself. That I could do it. That I could be Superwoman. Yes, I could go have massive surgery AND return to work to be the busiest woman alive.

And now what do I have to show for it at the end of the week? A miserable mess on the couch. Tired, sore, swollen and limping. Not Superwoman – Super dumbass more like it! So as I reflect on how I neglected myself this week, I realise that this revelation is better sooner rather than later. I just cannot go THIS hard so soon. I was clearly trying to prove to myself that I can overcome anything and that surgery wasn’t going to hold me back! But yeah, I physically managed to pull myself together this week, but I am definitely not feeling any emotionally stronger for it. I have to remind myself that the things that I do and manage at work aren’t really the most important things to me in my life outside of work. Wearing myself out and stressing about deadlines isn’t going to make me happy, because I already know what makes me the happiest – when I am healthy.

This weekend’s agenda: sleep in, lie around as much as possible, get a massage, get a mani/pedi and look after me. And forgive myself for being a fool.