Day 61: What about the *rest* of your health?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to spend so much time focusing on my UC that I forget that I have whole other systems and body parts that also need a little attention! I think it’s easy to fall into that trap, because this disease is so difficult to ignore. It tends to hog the limelight and all the other niggles or discomforts are left to sulk in the corner.

Yesterday I went for my annual gynae check up. I’ve been doing it since I was 20, and it amazes me how many women don’t bother with this essential health check-up. Opinions differ as to how often you should have a pap smear – anywhere from yearly (if you’re at higher risk of cervical cancer) to every three years. You also need a pelvic exam and just a general once-over by someone who can immediately pick up if anything is wrong.

When I saw my doctor yesterday, it was the first time since my UC diagnosis, and I was thrilled to discover that not only does he know a lot about the disease, but he’s in complete agreement with me about diet. He actually said in his super chilled-out way, ‘Ja, but it’s obvious‘ when I mentioned having to make dietary changes despite my physician thinking it unnecessary. He said I look very healthy and that the diet is fine for me to be on.

Interestingly, he also said that supplements (excluding probiotics) are a waste of time and money and he wouldn’t bother. His point was that if your body isn’t absorbing certain things from your food, it’s not going to absorb it from a pill either. That really does make complete sense.

So anyway, I feel great after seeing him, but it did make me think about how we tend to neglect other aspects of our health when we’re so focused on our gastrointestinal system.

little-steps

I’ve discovered that IBD patients may be at increased risk of infection, especially when flaring. I know how easy it is to brush aside an irritating cough or a runny nose because I’ve dealt with much worse, but ignoring the small niggles can lead to bigger problems – and when your immune system is compromised, there’s always a higher risk of flares.

As with most other aspects of this disease, we seldom have all the answers, and most of us are just trying to create our own, customised road-maps to the holy grail of better health for longer periods of time. I am no doctor, but it seems logical to me that if your overall health is good, there’s a better chance of your GI health being good too – and that if your general health is bad, it’s going to have a knock-on effect that could negatively affect your GI tract.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Advertisements

Day 21: Like-minded folk

Today I spent time with an old friend, who lives with her partner and their 11-month-old baby in a small seaside town about an hour outside of the city. It was a nice relaxing drive and spending time with them is always interesting.

David, the partner, is 43, and was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, after many years of incredibly unhealthy eating and other poor lifestyle choices. He told me today that an average breakfast would be French toast with bacon and syrup, and from then on, the day would just continue to go downhill with crisps, pies, pastries and anything deep-fried. Basically, anything and everything junk.

201110211203

He said that if you’d ever spoken to him about ‘healthy’ food, he’d have scoffed and refused to eat it. Until his diagnosis, that is.

He’s completely turned his health around. He’s lost a ton of weight, looks healthy, and only buys organic products. He and my friend are strict adherents of a natural, organic lifestyle, and carefully choose each and every product they buy. They are also keeping their son away from sugar (though I’m sure he’ll root it out eventually), and avoid all processed, unnatural products.

It was great spending time with people who understand, and don’t just think you’re being completely anal and ridiculous in  your eating habits. I even learnt a few things from them, like which honey to buy, and the very useful tip that once an avocado is ripe, you can keep it in that same state in the fridge for up to a week – it won’t ripen further.

Anyway, David has never been better, and he’s fanatical about his diet. He believes, unequivocally, that diet has everything to do with health, and I cannot disagree. He’s in the peak of it and says he’ll never go back to his old lifestyle.

Diabetes is not UC, but the overarching point here is the same: The power to transform your health is totally in your hands. He is living proof. And if he can do it, trust me, so can we.

The tendency to overeat

Tonight we had dinner at my sister. They had a Mexican feast – chilli poppers, quesadillas, the whole shebang. I took leftovers from last night’s dinner – same again with rump steak, gem squash and butternut – and again ate too much! I actually had some cramps after dinner; just short fleeting ones.

As always, I’m reminded of my tendency to overdo it – whether I’m eating carrots or cake – and I must make a concerted effort to keep my portions small.

How I feel (and probably look) after dinner every night

How I feel (and probably look) after the average dinner

Tomorrow is my last day on Phase 1. I haven’t phased in spinach yet, but I’m ready to move on. I’ll get to the spinach in due course.

Had a really good BM this morning and I’m hoping that this trend continues.

Cravings

I haven’t had unmanageable cravings so far, but today was definitely the worst. Knowing that we were going to my sister for a games’ night with friends made me crave:

– Booze

– Cigarettes

– Crisps

This would kinda have been a perfect day for me

This would kinda have been a perfect day for me

These cravings showed me how much emotional attachment we have to food: When we go to my sister’s place, I always drink wine and gobble up the bowls of crisps in front of me. That also makes me crave a cigarette, which is also out of bounds at the moment: I’m not a full-time smoker and treat myself to a cigarette from time to time, when I feel like one (which is seldom). Since starting the SCD however, I’ve had one cigarette every day… until I met with my financial adviser on Thursday.

UC and dread disease cover

My adviser has suggested I take out dread disease cover, which makes sense now that I’m 30, and while I’m still healthy. If you’re a smoker, they may not cover you – or they might ‘load’ your premium, which means you pay a penalty every month for being a smoker. All traces of your last cigarette need about 10 days to get out of your system, and he wants to send the nurse to do blood tests ASAP, which means no more smoking until after the test (in about a week). I also found out that I won’t be covered for any colon diseases (such as cancer) as a result of my UC diagnosis.

SMOKING IS SO SO SO BAD for you. I know this. I don’t deny it. But I guess I was taking pleasure in it being my last remaining pleasure – and now it is gone too!

(as an interesting aside: doctors aren’t sure why, but smoking has actually been known to have a positive effect on the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. HOWEVER, they warn that the overall negative effects far outweigh any benefits that smoking may offer in terms of UC).

So that’s where I am now. Horrible cravings have abated, and I didn’t cheat – not even by a morsel. Even I am surprised by my steadfast adherence to this diet – but very proud of myself too.

That doesn’t mean I’m not counting down the days ’til WINE!

tumblr_m2h94b89zt1qi9wp8o1_500