When you have UC, Crohn’s, or any other digestive disease, some days are just plain shitty, pun intended. On those days, you need to give yourself a free pass to do whatever the hell you need to do to feel better.
If you’ve been sick for a while, you’ll probably know what works best for you. If you’re newly diagnosed, it’s a little trial and error, but your body will guide you. Either way, here are three things that are guaranteed to help.
1. Take the day off
Most of us push through our flares and force ourselves to stick to our work and social commitments. This can really prolong your troubles. During my last flare, which lasted two months, I only took one day off work, and cancelled one social engagement. I’m not bragging. In fact, I think if I’d taken it easier and spent more time lying on my couch as I’d dreamed of doing (and not exercising vigorously!) I’d have recovered sooner.
On those days when you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus – if you’ve even managed to get any sleep due to all-night bathroom runs – give yourself that free pass. Call in sick, ask your partner to take care of the kids, and cancel those plans.
It’s important that your family and boss know that from time to time, you may need this kind of time-out. It doesn’t mean that you’re sitting your butt every second day. It means that you’re giving yourself the TLC you desperately need, when you desperately need it.
2. Eat YOUR comfort food
For people without digestive ailments, comfort food is mac and cheese, spaghetti bolognaise, ice cream and chocolate sauce. For us, it’s that one food that we know we can always eat without having symptoms.
Mine is rice. I know rice isn’t recommended on SCD, but it’s the only thing I can face when I’m flaring. I can’t imagine eating fruit or veg while in a flare, and meat is just too heavy. I have spent weeks living on just rice with lemon juice.
If you don’t know what your ‘flare’ food is, stick to extremely plain, dairy-free, gluten free foods. It’s also an excellent idea to eat meat broths if you can. They’re extremely nourishing and easy to digest.
Sleep is one of the best medicines there is. Why do you think it is that when you’re feeling your worst, all you want to do is crawl under the blankets? Because your body knows what’s best for it – so don’t fight it. Climb into bed and get as much sleep as you can. Squeeze in those daytime naps too, if possible.
My dad, at 65, is one of the healthiest people I know (touch wood!), and my mom is convinced it’s because he gets so much sleep!
If you’re feeling like crap, don’t push yourself. Do as much or as little as your body can handle, and if your symptoms are out of control, contact your doctor immediately.