Tag Archives: colitis

Gutsy Book Club

I know most of my readers probably don’t struggle with Irritable Bowel Disease like I do, but if you have ever suffered from any digestion issues at all, you may be interested in the Gutsy Virtual Book Club I’ve joined through Sarah’s blog. One of my recent goals has been to learn more about colitis and digestion in general. This book club came into my life at the perfect time.

This month, we are reading No Guts, No Glory by Steven Lamm, M.D. and Sidney Stevens.

No Guts, No Glory

I started reading the book during my lunch break and learned so much thus far. I enjoy reading medical books and learning more about our amazing bodies.

Loved this quote from the first page of the book!

Love this quote from No Guts, No Glory

I also liked this passage:

“Unfortunately, most of us, like our doctors, don’t spend enough time thinking about our guts. Patients come to me every day asking ‘How can I keep my heart healthy?’ or ‘What’s the best kind of exercise for losing weight?’ They’re worried about Alzheimer’s, cancer, high blood pressure, and other big-name maladies. Sure, plenty walk in with abdominal complaints, but what they want is relief from the distress and a cure for what ails them. Rarely are they concerned about preserving and enhancing the health of their gut. Nor do most fathom their responsibility for keeping it in shape.”

I rarely thought about my digestive system until at the age of 24, I couldn’t keep food in my stomach. I was in graduate school and needed food to fuel my brain, yet I couldn’t keep it down. Believe me, after 8 years of seeing many gastroenterologists, going through numerous colonoscopies, missing social events, experiencing bad days, abdominal pain and being on many expensive meds–you pay a lot of attention to your gut when you feel like I have all of these years. I look forward to reading this book and learning all I can to help me heal my gut. I also think this is going to help me ask the right questions when I visit my gastroenterologist next week.

I hope you can join Sarah’s book club and get in on the discussion via twitter or her blog!

Crohn’s and colitis walk

On Sunday, my friend Danielle and I participated in the Take Steps Crohn’s and colitis walk. Since I have Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), it is a very important walk for me to participate in each year. I am thankful that Danielle goes with me and supports the cause. She understands the diseases because she works as a nurse in a GI lab.

Did you know that 1 in 200 Americans struggle with IBD? I have colitis and it takes a toll on me when I have a flare. Recently, I have been experiencing some complications with my condition and it really affects everything in my life–work, my social life, exercise, eating, my mood, my memory (which is usually steller, but not when I am sick), etc.

This was my third walk and it was in a new location, at South Shore park in Bay View. I really preferred this spot over the previous ones in recent years.

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We ate a picnic dinner and walked around to see what the education booths offered. There was a good crowd gathered before our roughly two mile walk started.

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At one point, we got around this huge group and were in the lead! I’ve never been in the lead during a walk like this one. :)

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We walked past some lovely houses that faced Lake Michigan. I loved this one in particular.

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And of course, we had great views of the lake. Our walk was supposed to be 2 miles, but it seemed like it was a little over that.

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The Take Steps walk is really the only one I feel like participating in each year since the cause is near and dear. Other races feel like they get enough support and in my opinion, I wish more people would financially support a different medical cause every year. So this is my plug to you readers. Next time you think about signing up for a hugely supported race, please think of this post and diversify what causes you donate to. Thank you!

IBD update

I went to the gastroenterologist yesterday and while that doesn’t seem like something I would enjoy, I fully did (well because I wasn’t having the dreaded colonoscopy). You see, my doctor is seriously one of the best I have been to in my life. No wonder he made Milwaukee magazine for being one of the top gastro docs in the area last year.

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I guess this post is more of a journaling one vs. one that I expect readers to get too interested in, unless you have IBD of course.

Last year, I finally decided to change doctors. I got a recommendation from a co-worker for a great gastroenterologist who tended to explain in detail everything that was going on with the body. That is exactly what I needed and wanted out of my relationship with my doctor. Especially when it comes to something so important as my digestive health.

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If you haven’t found a doctor that you like yet, no matter what your health issues, switch!

My new doctor is consistent with his visits. He wasn’t just pleasant and detailed with his explanations on the first visit. He actually seems to care and shows me that by answering my questions and spending time talking to me vs. rushing me out the door.

For example, I asked him the long term effects of being on omeprazole. It is one med I am constantly reading negative things about. He laid out those negative side effects, including being more susceptible to food borne illnesses and talked about the studies he has read about osteoporosis and those who were on omeprazole. He suggested that I try to go to an acid blocker that is more mild and take notes on how I feel. So, I’ll be picking up some Zantac and Pepcid AC soon.

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I hate to compare, but my old doctor and the hospital they were affiliated with had the doc sitting at a desk typing away about my condition. They rarely discussed much about changing my meds and didn’t really answer my questions the way I had hoped they would.

My new doc explained what he saw during my colonoscopy and EGD last fall compared to what had been seen in the past. This visual learner appreciated seeing where I had issues in the past and where there were absolutely none this time!

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Here is what my doctor recommended for my condition. As he said I probably already do most of these things, which is true:

-get lots of fiber as that will keep me from getting “backed up”
-try to control my stress, as I may have IBS that is prompting cramping and bowel troubles when I get stressed
-drink lots of fluids. 6-8 servings a day, which includes things like coffee, milk, lemonade, etc.
-exercise
-eat a heart healthy diet
-experiment with Miralax. In the past, I was told not to. Now, I have been doing that on my own and realizing I don’t need a full cap full of the dose every day. I can figure out what works best for me.
-lower my dosage of Asacol. I used to be on 6 pills but because my disease wasn’t active last fall, I went down to 4 and now I can go down to 3. Doc says I may not have to be on a med like Asacol for the rest of my life!

Once I got to work, I bought my lunch. I was hoping for the salad bar, but alas it wasn’t available. I had a black bean burger on whole wheat instead with a side of fruit. Gotta get that fiber in!

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I started the book Living with Crohn’s and Colitis on my ride into work and found this passage, which made me think of my doc visit that morning.

So glad I found a doctor that teaches!

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I am loving that book and I recommend it highly!

This morning, I got my fluids in by trying a new coffee. I received a sample of Gevalia coffee and it smelled so yummy! It tasted great too, but would have been better if I had some half and half to add to it.

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Hope this post was helpful for anyone with IBD or anyone who has a loved one with it! If you live in the Milwaukee area and are looking for a good gastroenterologist, e-mail me and I’ll get you my doctor’s information!

Fiber and green tea

I forgot to share the wonderful news I got last week! Now, let me preface this by saying that I never quite understand what the results of medical tests mean.

My final lab tests came in from my colonoscopy and EGD that I had back in November. Everything came back normal and great. No ulcers, polyps, pre-cancer bacteria, no colitis showing up, etc. The doc wants me to get tested for celiac sprue, which I had done in 2004 and that lab came back negative. I am still not sure if that one negative lab test will reassure my doc that I don’t have Celiac Disease and I need to call the doctor’s office and ask. At least I had my old lab results sent over to them and that’s done.

My gastroenterologist also wants me to make sure I am getting enough fiber in my diet, so that is one of the reasons I started tracking my food with MyFitnessPal too. I am happy to say that I am definitely getting enough fiber and enough protein so far (which I was worried about since I eat a mostly vegetarian diet).

I bought some Fiber One honey clusters cereal this week and it’s pretty good. I put a banana in it and that helped with the flavor. I need to eat bananas when they are still a tad green on the end as I like them much better that way!

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Because it’s so good for you, I am trying to drink more green tea. Yesterday, I had a cup mid-morning with a lovely little unexpected snack of a pumpkin spice apple pie that my co-worker’s wife made. It was delicious and such a great combination of flavors.

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Lunch today was half of the pictured leftover butternut squash risotto from Trader Joe’s, carrot sticks and a Stonyfield Oikos blueberry yogurt. I snacked on the clementine later in the afternoon. It was a very orange lunch!

I made the risotto for dinner last night and it was ok. I don’t know if I would buy it again because I am not sure I am that wild about butternut squash.

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After work, I had to go to the store to get some electrolyte drinks for Craig. He has the flu (for the second time this season) and had a very bad day. Poor guy. I feel so bad for him, especially because he can’t seem to sleep and rest when he’s sick.

At the store (Aldi), I picked up a bunch of produce so I could make a yummy salad for dinner. It was just what I wanted to eat before yoga. I also made a smaller salad to bring to work tomorrow.

I put artisan lettuce in it, cucumber, turkey, provolone cheese, roma tomatoes and I topped it with goddess dressing.

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I hadn’t been to yoga for about a month and it felt so good to practice again tonight. Of course, class was sooo crowded with the January joiners, but we all fit and worked around each other.

Have a wonderful night! This week flew by and I can’t believe tomorrow is Friday already.

Foodmatters documentary

Over the weekend, we watched one of the best documentaries on food/nutrition that we’ve seen in a while: Foodmatters. It even positively influenced my chip and ice cream loving husband. :) I think it would be great if he ate more fruits and veggies with me.

Foodmatters DVD

One of my favorite quotes was the following: “Right now if you want nutritional therapy and you go to your doctor and ask for it, it’s sort of like ordering chow mein in a French restaurant. It’s not on the menu and they don’t know how to make it and you’re not going to get it.” -Andrew Saul

Hmmm…sounds very familiar and exactly like an experience I had at my old gastroenterologist. I had asked about seeing a Registered Dietitian who I thought could help me choose better foods to eat for colitis and the doctor said something along the lines of “they’re not going to tell you anything different than we would. Do you think a nutritionist knows the cure for colitis and if they do, please tell me, because I would like to know it.” Yeah, I wasn’t the happiest patient when I heard that defensive statement.

Well, I basically approached my illness on my own by doing research online and eating more fruits and veggies and less of the trigger foods like dark meat and fatty foods. It has helped me and I truly believe that food is the best medicine for many medical conditions, including my own.

Overall, the documentary covered using nutrition as medicine, the medical field and how it is currently supported by drug companies, our nation’s tendency to treat medical problems with very conventional approaches, etc.

Various experts were interviewed and presented very convincing evidence that our current system is just not working and needs to be reevaluated.

Craig and I really enjoyed this documentary and highly recommend it to others!

If you’ve seen it, what did you think about the information presented in the film?

Thank you

First of all, I want to say thank you all for your sweet and supportive comments about blogging shorter posts or less often in order to live life to the fullest. :) With working full-time, trying to work out every day, meditating for an hour per day, eating healthy and cooking for myself, and maintaining a happy and clean household, it gets really tough to fit in posting every night. I love blogging, the photography that comes with it, the community itself, and reading other blogs. I just had to step back on Sunday and tell myself that blogging every day wasn’t always going to happen. So, thank you for being wonderful readers and supporting my decision! It means a lot to me.

Yesterday, I went to see a new gastroenterologist and had a wonderful experience. After years of feeling rushed in and out of examinations in a hospital gastro dept., I wanted to see a doctor who actually listened to me and tried new things in order to get me onto a healthier path. I have said this before, but for all of you new readers, I have ulcerative colitis and the new doctor thinks I may have IBS as well. My next steps involve going lactose free for 5-7 days and taking notes on how I feel during that time and then incorporating the lactose back into my diet in the following 5-7 days. I also have to take extensive notes on how I feel on my bad and good days and on other things, like my sleep habits, exercising, what I am eating, how stressed I am, how many hours I am working, and any other factors that may have affected my stomach poorly or for the better. I am really hopeful that after two procedures at the beginning of November, my new doc will help me gain some control over my health problems.

After the doc last night, I raced home and ate some dinner. Then I met Karis to go to the Urban Ecology Center for their Eat Local Challenge book club on Farm City by Novella Carptenter, which I finally finished reading on Sunday evening.

Urban Ecology Center

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We had a fun time and the discussion was led by Daniel from Boswell Books. It was nice to hear about everyone’s Eat Local Challenge progress and their disclosures on what they had trouble giving up, such as coffee and chocolate. It made me wish I had known about the eat local challenge sooner and would have tried to do it.

The funniest part for me was when I nonchalantly asked when Novella Carpenter started her blog and Daniel asked the group, “is anyone here a blogger?” Karis and I kind of smiled simultaneously and I couldn’t hold it in, so I burst out, “we are!”

For lunch today, I tried the Dannon Oikos greek blueberry yogurt. It was ok. Didn’t knock my socks off. I am still going to be a Chobani girl. I am not sure I will try the Activia brand of greek yogurt either because my mom tried it and declared it to be pretty horrible. Have you tried any of these newer greek yogurts and if so, what did you think?

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dannon oikos greek yogurt blueberry

I am eating lots of dairy because with the upcoming week of going lactose free, I know I am going to miss my dairy! I am a Wisconsin girl after all. :)

Anyone out there lactose intolerant and have any tips for me or any favorite lactose free products they can recommend?

Recovering

I am at home today, recovering from feeling sick yesterday. I haven’t been feeling too great off and on for the last couple of weeks. Food filled me up too quickly and at work yesterday, acid reflux symptoms were quite strong. I wrote my doctor’s office an e-mail and they suggested I either get an x-ray of my stomach (just to pay $500 and find out what I already knew) or take this lovely medicine mixed with two 32 oz. bottles of electrolyte drinks.

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Obviously, I chose the later suggestion and that meant I had to go home from work so the acid reflux wouldn’t keep affecting me and so my intestines could gain some normality again.

Maybe this is TMI for you readers and if it is, I give you permission to stop reading. I am writing about it because it’s my life and I think it’s good to put out there on the web so those of you who have friends or family with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease), understand how they may feel at times.

My meals yesterday were this Chobani for breakfast, half of a larabar at work before the reflux kicked in, and some pita chips because they were the closest thing we had to saltines.

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I actually caught up on my google reader and it was complete torture to see pictures of all of these yummy meals and realize I couldn’t eat anything like that for two or three days.

I rested a lot since I didn’t have the energy to do much else. I slept here and Karma decided to join me and be my “nurse.” Being around the cats (and Craig) when I am sick does cheer me up.

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Unfortunately, my being sick and some other things made for a not-so-great birthday for Craig. (He almost got hit by a car, our stupid garbage bag had a leak and our trash starting smelling gross so he had to clean it, something burned in the microwave and thank god it didn’t start on fire). I told him we have to have a birthday redo on Sunday and celebrate then.

This morning, I had a bowl of oats with lots of peanut butter while reading the newspaper and watching the Today show.

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Am I the only 30 year old who does such things or do I sound like an old lady? Hey, I learned about some great drugstore beauty products on the Today show and a fun fact: when buying eyeliner at the drugstore, look for products that say they are made in Germany because some of the top eyeliners are made in German factories (I know off hand that my Clinique ones are). The program recommended the Cover Girl Liquiline Blast eyeliner, which must be made in my favorite European country too.

Anyway, I had two little kitty nurses next to me today to comfort me.

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Lunch was toast with grape jelly. Since I am trying my best to follow the BRAT diet on this second day, I read online that grape jelly has pectin in it like applesauce does and it is safe to eat when your intestines aren’t too happy.

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Sorry for the depressing post, but this is my reality. I’ll be back tomorrow with a post and hopefully able to say that I feel better! I definitely have to try to get to work, I just may be a little out of it when I get back there.

Pictureless post

Sorry to be a whiner, but because I didn’t feel so great today and my eats were just ok, I’ll make this post a pictureless one. I had a really good day, except for the fact that my stomach was aching all day and just feels awful in general.

My food:
Breakfast: raisin bran cereal and coffee

Snack at work: irresistible carrot cake and coffee

Lunch: spinach salad with green peppers, broccoli, feta cheese, and Newman’s Tutto Naturale Parmesan and Garlic dressing. I made a little fruit salad of blueberries, strawberries, and bananas and it was perfect.

Dinner: Haven’t had yet and it’s 8:25. I have no appetite, which is understandable with the condition I am in. I may go eat a Chobani after this since I didn’t get any yogurt in my diet today.

My workout:
Despite feeling sick, I had a productive workout. I logged 30 minutes on the elliptical doing the Cross Country intervals. I read Fitness magazine and was inspired by Jillian Michael’s article. After the elliptical, I started lifting weights and I didn’t think I would complete a full circuit, but I pushed through and did. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I guess the endorphins kicked in. I also added weight to each machine again and I am enjoying the challenge of lifting a little more.

Other than that, I am working on a giveaway post and since I haven’t done a giveaway since last fall, I am finding myself being all picky about my review and the post in general. I promise, it will be up soon and you’ll have plenty of time to enter.

So happy it’s Friday tomorrow! I have the 10k coming up this Sunday, but now that I am sick, I am not sure it’s a smart idea to even attempt to walk/run it. We’ll see how I feel–maybe I’ll be ready for it by Sunday morning!

Tummy trouble blues

I didn’t sleep good last night because my tummy was hurting all night and the temperature just didn’t seem right. It probably didn’t help that I slept in three days in a row during the long weekend! Did you have the same problems getting up today from sleeping in all weekend? It seems like most blogs I was reading all weekend were mentioning that they were also sleeping in every day.

I had raisin bran and coffee for breakfast. Boring, I know. When I am tired, my breakfasts are simple and easy.

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At work, I had a Sprite with some tummy medicine mixed in, which tasted gross. I also noticed the Sprite made me a bit jittery, but I thought it would help my stomach feel better.

I ate lunch early on in the day and I could only get the peanut butter and jelly sandwich and string cheese in my belly. The apple and Chobani will have to wait for another day this week.

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I went to an important meeting mid-morning and then did yoga at work, which felt good but made me mindful of my pain. I left work after yoga because I just couldn’t handle feeling sick at work anymore.

I am sorry if this post is whiny, but sometimes it is good for me to document how I am feeling. This whole thing is my fault for letting a medicine run out and not getting more of it. I went to Walgreens after work and picked up a huge bottle of what I needed, so I won’t run out for a while.

Have you been reading Tina from Carrots ‘N’ Cake‘s posts on dealing with her recent diagnosis of colitis? Her posts are similar to mine at times when I have bad days like this one. I feel like it is nice to relate to another blogger who struggles with the same issues I do. I am glad she is getting the word out about Irritable Bowel Disease. Her diet is definitely different than the one my doctor recommended to me. I had never heard of going on a gluten free diet while colitis is active, but maybe I should try it sometime.

When I got home, I found some nice things in my mailbox to cheer me up. Something new to review and giveaway soon, some lentils, and a new Glamour magazine. What is your favorite way to cook with lentils? I have never cooked with them before, but I am excited to try making something with them. My favorite veggie burger is the lentil burger from Cafe Manna in Brookfield. I wish I could recreate that!

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The nice folks at the USA Dry Peas, Lentils, and Chickpeas Council sent along some recipes with the lentils sample too. A few looked really good, including one for Lentils, Orecchiette, and Feta Cheese.

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I’m going to hit publish and go watch a movie. I need to relax a bit this afternoon. I also may hit up the gym because I think some movement will do me some good, like yoga may have earlier today.

Have a wonderful night!