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Monthly Archives: November 2010

Test prep, update

Well, this went pretty well!  I must say the wonderful stuff I had to drink was a ton more palpable without the flavoring.  I think it was the fake pineapple flavor last year that had me urping half-way through!  Without the flavoring it just tasted slightly salty, and just was a bit “heavy.”  That’s all.

This time, I also did a little mind-over-matter trick to fool myself and get the stuff to stay down.  🙂

Instead of getting a big glass, I found a small glass that was exactly 8 ounces.  That way, as I looked at the cup, it felt like it really wasn’t all that much to drink.  A bigger glass would have felt futile to me….even if it wasn’t totally full.  That was my first step.

My second was to have homemade apple juice on hand, after every glass that I had to chug down.  I just didn’t think about what I was drinking, and as soon as the last drop was down, I swallowed a big gulp of apple juice.  Voila!!!  Instantly the bad flavor was gone, replaced my something nummy.  It worked!!!  Not once did the stuff try to come back up.  🙂

My low-fiber diet of the past 3 days helped a ton as well I think.  It put my gut in a good position to be able to be cleaned out pretty easily.  I’m SO thankful for that!

All total, this clean-out went so much better than the one last year.  Now, I’m ready to get this test done so I can EAT!!!

Oh…on another note….there is nothing quite like sitting in the bathroom doing your thing during something like this, and hearing your family in the other room break out into a vigorous chant of  “Go Mommy!  Go Mommy!  Go!  Go!  Go Mommy!”  Bless their hearts…..they love me so much!!!

🙂

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, Doctor Journal

 

Test prep

Yep, it’s that time again.  After a year of treating this disease naturally, against the thinking of most people in this world, it’s time to get some pictures of my gut and see how things really are doing.  I’ve been trying to eat low-fiber the last 3 days (lots of chicken soup!), and today after breakfast I get to start the fast.  Luckily, I made a batch of just chicken broth that I can eat all day, if I need it.  I can also have coffee, which just might be my saving point!

Yes, it’s a colonoscopy.  Why do I share that, you might ask?  Well, for one, this blog is about sharing my journey with Crohn’s, and those people with Crohn’s who read this will want to know what I did and how it affected me.  Trust me, I’d rather not share all the intimate details of a disease like this that can make you go poop 20 times in a day, and the details of HOW that poop comes out, which can make a big difference.  I’ll tell you about the gut cramps, sure!  But oh well….in for a penny, in for a pound.  🙂

Like I said, I’ve eaten a lot of soup these past 3 days, along with eggs and cooked fruit and veggies.  I also took a dose of Miralax the last 3 days, to help get things moving.  Today after a 2-egg breakfast I’ll start eating broth whenever I’m hungry.  And this afternoon I’ll start on the Tri-lyte mixture I get to drink that will clean me out.  I’m not adding the flavor packets (they have too many illegals) but I’m going to try a homemade apple-juice chaser after each 8 ounce glass that I chug down.  I’m hoping that will work.  Tomorrow bright and early I will finish the last quart of the clean-out juice, and then go in for the procedure.

That’s for the physical side.

In terms of the emotional side, here’s where I’m at:

As I was reminded in church yesterday, my hope is not tied to this test, nor it’s results, nor even how I’m feeling on any given day.  My hope remains secured in heaven, where I’ve been given a place of honor.  Period.

I’d be lying though if I said that a stray “what if?” didn’t cross my mind.  The main one is, “what if the doctor was right?  What if diet hasn’t helped at all, and I’ve just made things worse by not taking the drugs?”

You see, when I was first diagnosed, the GI doctor said I wouldn’t have to change my diet, that diet doesn’t make any difference, and that I’d have to go on strong drugs for the rest of my life.  If he was right, and diet doesn’t do any good, then I’ve just wasted a year, and potentially made things worse for myself in the long run.  And yet, as soon as I changed my diet, I FELT a ton better.  Granted, with Crohn’s you can’t go by how you feel, because this disease is constantly working towards destruction inside of you whether you feel good or not.  But I DO feel so much better, so I am hopeful that I’ve done some good in my gut, and it’s not set me back.

I’m prepared for whatever comes out of this test.  Of course I have hope that things will look better, and I can say, “Look!!!  Diet does work!!!”  Even if it looks the same, I can still claim that this year of experimenting with a natural approach to treat Crohn’s has not done any damage, and I was able to stay away from the drugs.

If it comes back that things look worse, I’m prepared for that as well.  And I in no way would regret my decision to take this year to change my diet.  I feel that changing my diet HAS made a difference in me.  I’ve learned how to cook more naturally, which I always wanted to do but didn’t until I was forced to.  This change is helping my family, as my daughter feels better when she eats less processed foods.  I faced this disease head-on a year ago, instead of hiding behind a pill.  I’m NOT saying that anyone who takes drugs is hiding behind pills! I’m simply saying that for me, if I would have gone straight to the drugs, I would have relied upon them instead of putting my hope and faith and strength where it needed to be.  Not in me, but in Him.  Through his strength I’ve gotten through this year, and through his strength I will continue to live.

And you wanna know something?  If it turns out things look worse and drugs are recommended….I’m okay with that.  I’m okay with it because I took the time to dig deep within myself, and change things that needed to be changed.  I feel now that I have a broad-scope to deal with this disease.  An overall view that deals with ALL aspects, and not just one.  I feel that whatever the outcome, I can continue to fight and live with this disease until that glorious day of God’s healing manifesting itself in me, and I can eat without fear once again.

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, Doctor Journal

 

Turkey Day Blues

Oh….that hurt!  I had hoped that, after being on this diet for over a year, my gut could handle just a teeny bit of an illegal.  Guess not……

I made a ham for my family.  I know that the ham was cured with mainly water and dextrose.  Dextrose is simply….a sugar.  I have not had any sugar of that type on my system for a year.  It doesn’t make sense to me as to how this could affect me, but obviously something did, and I can only point to the ham as being the culprit.  I ate quite a bit of the ham, as anyone does on a holiday such as Thanksgiving, and I paid for it later.

An hour or so after dinner, I had some seriously painful gas cramps running through my gut.  They weren’t just localized, which is what might normally happen if I accidentally had a small amount of an illegal.  No, this was a system-wide pain running the length (it seemed) of my colon and lasting for a decent amount of time.  Everything felt tight, and just didn’t feel “right” the rest of the night.  The next day I could still feel that something was off.  I didn’t have D, but had a lot more BM’s than normal.  For me, those are the things that signal my system was not able to handle whatever I put into it.

I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could get away with it.  Nope.

This diet….this disease….can be ugly.  I’m a little disappointed, simply because this tells me that I really need to be careful, still, and can’t let my guard down.

BUT……..

That ham was really good!!!  I guess it was worth it, for that short amount of time, to feel normal again with what I eat.  I’d do it again, sure.

But I won’t, and didn’t, eat any of the ham for leftovers.  One day of discomfort was enough for me!!!  🙂

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

The Exuberance of Youth

This morning there was less than a dusting of snow at our house.  Literally, you had to look very hard for any trace of snow, but it was there…barely.  I smiled as soon as I found it, and told the kids to come and look.  As soon as they saw the dusting on top of my car, they started screaming, “SNOW!  SNOW!  DAD!!!  IT SNOWED!!!”  I loved watching their faces and their movements as they ran around the house screaming in pure delight over such a small, trivial thing.

Sometimes I wonder where we as adults lost that same exuberance.  Not just for snow, but for lots of things.  We open a present we’ve always been wanting, and we might just exclaim “Wow!” with half-hearted praise.  Or our kid hits a home run in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded, and we stand up and clap our hands with a big smile on our face.  We might even shout out a  “woohoo!”  Both reactions are fine, and are perfectly acceptable in our society.

I for one am not ashamed to jump up and down and yell and scream like a madman when things like this happen.  Yes, people may look at me like I’m weird, but I don’t care.  I figure it like this:  I’ve only got one life on this earth.  I’ve only got each day to live, once.  I can’t go back and cheer again.  I can’t go back and say “thank you” from my heart.  I’ve only got this moment to live, and I’m going to live it to the fullest and best that I can.

I was led this week by a worship leader to worship with this same type of child-like exuberance.  Not so that people will look at us and say, “wow, look at her!”  But simply because we’ve been set free.  We don’t have to be tied down by our sins or our shames any more.  Christ died on the cross, once, and forever.  He took that moment in time that he was destined for, and lived into it as only he could.  I’m sure when he cried out to his Father to take this cup from him, he didn’t just say it half-heartedly.  I’m sure he said it with all the painful cries that come from a heart deep in anguish.  He lived that moment, and the  moments that came afterward, without shying away and he expressed his feelings with all the emotion that God had given him.

I want to live my life in each moment, not afraid to express my joy at being set free.  I want to jump up and down because of all that has been done for me.  I want to cry out in my heart, “hooray!” to My God who has walked with me since before I was even born.

I want to be like my kids and run around screaming with love and excitement, simply because life is good.

Life is good.

Do you know it?

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

1 Year

Well, it’s been a year since my diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.  Overall, I’d say this first year went pretty well.  I’ve learned a lot of how I can eat, my symptoms have gone down to practically nothing, and I feel pretty good!  My next step will be to have a follow-up colonoscopy, hopefully before the end of the year.  I must say that I’m looking forward to this.  Well, I guess I’m looking forward to it as much as anyone can, with something like this!  Hmmmm……maybe I should clarify….I’m not looking forward to the procedure or prep so much as getting an actual picture of what’s going on inside of me.  Yes, my symptoms are way down, but with Crohn’s that really doesn’t mean anything.  The disease can still be causing damage, even though you feel fine.  SO….I’m looking forward to seeing how my one-year experiment in treating this disease naturally has actually played out, in my gut.

So how did I get here?  Quick recap:

I started having just minor symptoms 6 months prior to the diagnosis.  Gas and bloating, mainly, with an occassional pain thrown in for good measure.  After multiple doctor visits, tests, and a colonoscopy, the diagnosis was in.  My GI doc wanted to immediately put me on steroids and immunosuppressant to get the disease under control.  He actually told me repeatedly that diet made no difference at all in this disease.  Well, I had read just enough to make me dangerous, and said No to the drugs.  I wanted some time to figure out what diet could do to help, before I made the jump to a life-time of drugs.  Plus…many of the drugs can have the SAME symptoms of Crohn’s, such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping, etc.  Since I didn’t have THOSE symptoms, I chose to wait.  I gave myself a year to try this method out.

Many people thought I was crazy.  Most people believe that the only way to treat Crohn’s is with those drugs.  Anything else is just quackery.

Right after the diagnosis I did a radical change to my diet.  I took everything out except homemade Chicken Soup (you can find my recipe here), goat’s milk yogurt, and Keifer milk.  I was following Jordan Rubin’s advice from his book “Guts to Glory” for those first three weeks.  I worked.  My gut had a chance to rest, and I basically started with a clean slate in terms of my diet.

I then found and started The Specific Carbohydrate Diet.  I started slow.  I began by adding one new food about every 4 days.  I wanted to give my gut plenty of time to tell me if it didn’t like something.  I also started a food/symptom journal to record everything I eat and how I’m feeling.  I still keep that religiously, and it helps me pinpoint if something doesn’t feel right inside.  Now, I’m pretty comfortable in the foods that I know I can eat, and still am slow about adding new foods.  I make my own yogurt and chicken soup, and always have that on hand.  At least once a week that’s what I have for dinner.  The other nights I’m eating what I know I can eat.  And my symptoms….are almost non-existent.

The other component to my journey this year has been being treated by a Naturopath.  This was a huge jump for me, as I always have looked on those doctors as quacks (my dad was a doctor, so anything without an MD or DO behind the name meant there was no validity behind what they said!).  This doctor I went to is very highly regarded in my large metropolitan area I live in, and also has Crohn’s.  I went to him and made the decision to trust what he says I should do, and see how diet and supplements work together in treating this disease.  A few of my supplements do contain illegals (like an illegal starch or sugar component), but I purposely chose to do those.  It might have slowed my healing down a bit, but overall I’ve done well with them.  My hope would be that over the next year I’ll be able to replace those few illegal supplements with legal ones, and continue to let the diet do it’s work as well.

Overall, I’m pleased with how this past year has gone.  I’ve learned again about the strength God has given me inside of myself to conquer anything that comes in my way.  That I can trust him to lead me through whatever dark waters I might pass through.  I’ve learned a TON about food, and am starting to incorporate more of that into my family’s diet.  Do I wish this disease was not here?  Well, yes, because I do wish at times I had the freedom to eat what I want, whenever I want, and not have to worry about food everywhere I turn.  But I truly love how healthy I know I’m eating, and so wouldn’t change that.  I’m so thankful that this disease is not accompanied by the severe symptoms that many Crohnies have, and am hopeful that the path I’ve chosen will continue to be good for me.  I’m not as scared now about the drugs as I was, but if I’m one of the few that can do it without drugs, I’d rather go that route.  We’ll see how the colonoscopy goes.  Until then, I guess there’s not much more to say.  🙂

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

Fried dough!!!

Oh….My….Gosh….

I have not had a donut in over a year.  In looking through one of my recipe sources yesterday, I found one for fried dough.  Of course, I had to try it….

Basically you take a almond flour pancake recipe, and modify it a bit.  I added 2 tbsp honey to 2 eggs, and blended them well together.  Then I added 1/2 cup plus a titch of almond flour, 1/8 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp baking powder.  Mix until well blended.  Then, I turned the pan on to medium (too hot will burn these), and added about 1/2 an inch of canola oil.  The dough was still pretty runny, but when I dropped a spoonful into the hot oil, it formed a perfect circle.  I fried them for just a minute or two on each side, and then let them drain on a napkin covered plate.

They reminded me of silver dollar pancakes, but fried.  🙂  This one recipe made about 20 (which are already gone…before lunchtime!).  I served them to my kids as “donuts” and sprinkled a bit of powdered sugar on top.  They loved them!  Each kid had four, and probably would have had more.  🙂

This is something I will definitely keep in my file for a special treat.  They really remind me of donuts, and are oh so delicious.

 
 

WFD: Almond-flour Chicken Fingers

Last night I tried another recipe from my new cookbook:  “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.”  This time I tried the Chicken Fingers, and they were amazing!  (The picture is of my plate last night…the first serving.)  My family doesn’t do well when I put something too weird in front of them, and so I keep looking for “Crohn’s safe” recipes that don’t rock the boat too much.  Even my husband thought this one was great!  Along with the chicken, I served baked applesauce, cauliflower-cheddar mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies.  Again, I did not serve your normal bread side-dish with this meal as I feel that is an unnecessary component, and my family didn’t miss it at all!

Chicken Fingers: This recipe is pretty standard, how you would make any fried chicken fingers.  The differences were that I used grapeseed and olive oils in the pan, and almond flour for the crust.  This is so much healthier than using white flour or saltine crackers for the crust.  I found the trick to getting a good crisp crust on these was to only turn them once, halfway through the approximately 8 minutes cooking time.

Cauliflower Cheddar Mashed Potatoes: I used to love mashed potatoes, and so this is a great substitute for me.  I simply take a head of cauliflower and steam it until soft.  Drain the water off.  I added 1/4 cup real butter (not margarine!) and a dollop of my homemade yogurt, and then blended it thoroughly with my immersion blender.  At first these were pretty tasteless, so I had to add approximately 2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper.  Once everything was well blended and smooth, I added about 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and stirred that in.  The result is something that has a texture similar to mashed potatoes, and doesn’t miss the mark too much on flavor.  Next time maybe I’ll put some chives and bacon bits in it, and see if I can create an “overloaded baked potato” flavor.  🙂

Baked Applesauce: This is a variation of my normal baked apples.  With this I cut up 4 or 5 apples, it doesn’t matter which kind, and place them in a pan.  I’ll drizzle about 1/4 cup or less honey on top, and sprinkle with cinnamon.  I bake it for about 30 minutes at 350, and then stir when it’s done.  The apples sometimes fall apart, and sometimes not.
If I want a more “applesauce” consistency I’ll mash the apples up really well, or throw the whole thing in my blender.  Either way, it’s a good way to eat apples as it feels like dessert and not your fruit serving.  🙂

Steamed Veggies: Well, this is pretty standard, so I don’t need to write much on this.  I buy the big bag of veggies from Costco, “Broccoli Normandy,” for those nights I don’t want to be fancy.  My family loves the combination of veggies and will gobble them up!

Review: This dinner was a huge success!  I was able to fill my plate up (a semi-rare treat for me!), and the kiddos really liked it.  I’m finding myself now making about 2 dinners a week that have just meat, veggies, and fruit.  If the table seems like it will be a bit bare, I just think through fixing another veggie or serving another fruit, like I did tonight.  My goal is to wean my family off of the processed white/wheat bread, and their body’s addiction to that.  I think we all do better without that stuff in our system!  I know my kids eat that stuff at school everyday for lunch, but if I can at least get one good meal in them a day, I am happy.  I know my cooking is simple at this point in time, but I hope I’m giving you ideas on how you can change things, little by little, towards healthier eating.  🙂

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, What's for Dinner