Day 56: When you have to take a few steps back on SCD

I feel like I’ve really been on the back foot these last few weeks on SCD. Until about mid-phase 2, the diet was going brilliantly. But I feel like since I introduced the yogurt (which was comprised of several new foods I hadn’t yet introduced), and then made the carpaccio mistake last weekend (repeated yesterday and definitely the cause of the diarrhoea for both K and I), I’ve been struggling to get back to good.

Tonight we had friends over and they know of my health troubles. Because of the carpaccio we ate last night, I’ve had terrible cramps and diarrhoea all day. This of course is not ideal when you invite guests to your tiny apartment, where the bathroom is in a very central position. And even though they know about my UC, I still didn’t want to dash off to the bathroom every few minutes and subject them to the audible fireworks that follow when I’m hit with GI distress.

For most of the night, it felt like a demon was reaching inside my body every few minutes, grabbing my stomach with a gnarly hand (I just know it was gnarly – demons don’t do manicures) and twisting it around like play-doh. It seemed like great fun for the demon, but not so much for me. I tried throwing pain pills at it, but it just laughed and twisted some more. I tried to make it drunk on red wine, but I think that just fuelled its fire. The only thing that seemed to work was when our friends (as lovely as they are) finally left at 1am and I had the bathroom all to myself. TG (thank god).

Selfie tonight at +- midnight

Tonight’s selfie

I’ve also been testing my yoghurt again and I’m not sure that it’s agreeing with me either. I know for sure that meat and most phase 1 and 2 veggies (that I introduced) are kind to my gut and we get along just great. The yoghurt, however, is seems to be the problem child – along with this damn carpaccio which, after slaying us with awful symptoms twice in one week, we will certainly be avoiding.

For now, I think I need to get back to basics – meat and veg, limited bananas, probiotics, vitamins and water only (sob). I’m hating the gas, bloating and discomfort, which is one of the reasons I started this diet. I’m tired of feeling gross and bloaty, especially when I’m trying to be sociable.

A common problem for anyone with IBD!

A common problem for anyone with IBD!

Probiotics – what’s your take on them?

I stopped taking my probiotics a few days ago because I wasn’t actually sure whether they were making a difference or not. I can’t detect any significant changes, good or bad, since stopping about five days ago. Given the current state of my GI tract, however, I think going back to them can only do me good.

What’s your take on probiotics? Can you notice a difference when you do/don’t take them?

How to fix SCD when it breaks

I’m no SCD expert and I’ve been on this diet for less than two months. But what seems to make sense is to go back to when I was fine, and to start again from there. As with anything that goes wrong, be it a maths equation or driving directions or a diet, you simply need to stop, find your way back to the main road, and try again.

Tomorrow is a new day, and while you should endeavour to make EVERY day your best, it’s good to know that an SCD mistake today isn’t irreversible.

A cat, because cats make me happy, and this one makes me particularly mirthful.

A cat, because cats make me happy, and this one makes me particularly mirthful. I think he’s given up on trying to suck in

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Day 54: What things do you do today that your future self will thank you for? Share your tips!

I’m not getting all philosophical here. I’m not talking about the 50 or 60 or 100-year-old you. We’re all working hard to improve our long-term health and wellness, otherwise we wouldn’t be following these crazy diets and (literally) exercising out butts off 😉

I’m talking about you tomorrow. Not tomorrow in the existential sense; tomorrow as in the day after today.

A friend of mine, Simon, used to say, ‘That’s future Simon’s problem’, which was funny at the time (we were in our early 20s and travelling the globe when he came up with this). I always thought it was a clever saying, but at the same time, I really hate lumping things on Future Debby’s shoulders.

I’m the kind of person who likes to do things now, which I definitely got from my dad. I hate having tasks hanging over my head, so I tend to do things now rather than later. This is also great for someone with an unpredictable disease like UC: You might be 110% healthy today and (wo)man down tomorrow, unable to get out of bed – or more accurately, leave the bathroom. And for many of us – myself included – flares can sometimes hit suddenly and violently without any warning.

So here are a few things I do – and that you can do – to make tomorrow easier for future you:

1. Cook big batches of food. I like to cook lots of food on a Sunday. Sure, it takes many hours, but it means I have food in the fridge and freezer for an entire week. Tonight, my dinner took 5 minutes to prepare – 4 of which were done by the microwave 🙂

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2. Get as much work done today as possible. I set myself targets each day at work, and I hate to leave without having completed them. When possible, I try to do even more if I can, so that I have a lighter load tomorrow.

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3. Think about the little things you’ll need in the days or week ahead. I’m going to a baby shower on Saturday, so last Saturday, while at the shops, I took a few extra minutes to find a gift. This means that the gift has been ready and waiting for a week, and I won’t have to rush around tomorrow after work (or worse, on Saturday morning before the event) looking for something. Last-minute gift buying is frustrating, expensive, and almost never goes the way you hoped. Buy ahead with everything if you can, especially avos. Forethought is never more golden than when you want a ripe avo 🙂

4. Do an extra load of laundry today. Uggggghhh laundry. But if you have the time, just do it today. Tomorrow, you’ll thank you. Same goes for sweeping the floors, dusting the counters or taking out the garbage. Do it when you have the time, and maybe tomorrow you’ll have an extra hour to put your feet up. Bliss!

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5. Go to the bank. These days, you hardly ever need ready cash. Which means that when you do, you need to start digging around the bottom of your bag, your cubby, your pants’ pockets, your partner’s pants’ pockets, etc. We’ve all been there. Every Saturday, our maid comes to our apartment, and we pay her in cash. While at the bank yesterday, I drew the extra cash so that I won’t have to rush around like a mad thing when she’s already here on Saturday morning.

6. Put in extra reps when you have the energy. If and when a flare hits, you won’t be able to work out as heavily as usual – or even work out at all. So when you have the energy, and you feel like you can push a little harder, do it. You’ll be so glad you did.

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7. Fill up your tank when you pass the petrol station. You’re always going to need gas – and Murphy’s Law says that when you hit the red light on your petrol tank, you’ll be miles from a gas pump. Cue unnecessary stress. Rather fill the tank when you pass the station and you’ll pat your future self on the back.

8. Buy a case of wine or bubbly when it’s on special: This way, you’ll a) always have a bottle to take to a BYOB without having to find a liquor store that’s open (in Cape Town, most bottle stores close at 5pm and you can’t buy on Sundays), and b) you’ll always have a gift in a cinch. This was K’s tip, from experience 😉

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9 & 10: Two more tips from K. I asked her what she would add to this list, and she said choose your clothes tonight for tomorrow, to save time in the morning, and always reverse park so that you can get out faster in an emergency.

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Is there anything that you do to help your future self out? Share your tips – I really love hearing them 🙂

Day 52: Back on top and looking for your stress-busting tips

Guys, it was a false alarm! Despite having ongoing GI issues as a result of my UC, I never actually get stomach bugs, so I have no idea what they feel like. All I thought was – OMG it’s a flare. And that is exactly what it felt like. After all, I’ve always known I’m for-sure in a flare when I’m getting up in the night.

Anyway, it seemed to be clear yesterday, and today it definitely is. I was a little bloated all day, but I had zero diarrhoea. In fact, I’m a little backed up, but right now, rather that. Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how relieved I am.

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Today I was feeling brave enough to add onion. I’d probably have waited longer if I didn’t have a whole cooked batch waiting for me in the fridge, and that ever-present nagging voice telling me not to waste food. The onion tasted good but because I was already a little off-kilter, I’m not sure whether I reacted to it. I don’t feel worse, and I’ll test again tomorrow and Thurs and see how it goes.

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So how do I cut down on the stress?

Meanwhile, I’m trying to find ways to stress less. I know how important it is, and my mom’s stern talking-to yesterday has sunk in. I MUST find ways to deal with my stress, but how? What do you all do? I can’t keep putting my body through all this:

stress-assessment-wheel

To reduce stress, this is what people on the internet apparently do. Do any of these work for you?

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I did yoga for years, and I enjoyed it, but I never switched off. I’d use the cool-down time to make to-do lists in my head or think about work or social plans or my weight or…

I haven’t exercised in a few weeks either because I’ve had a persistent cough/cold that’s made me quite chesty, and as much as I wanted to push through, I know that it’s counter-productive to exercise when ill. But I definitely think exercise is one of the best ways for me to de-stress.

What works for you guys? How do you keep the stress and anxiety at bay? I could really use some tips because clearly I’m not managing it on my own. SCD is as much a mental challenge as it is a dietary one, and while I’m finding it easy to avoid sugar, grain and pre-packaged foods, I’m not finding it so easy so avoid stress, anxiety, frustration and anger.

Please share your tips – I could really use them.

Day 50 and my least favourite F-word

I had so much I wanted to write today. I wanted to tell you about all the awesome food I cooked and that I’d prepared some onions to try and how much fun our facemasks were and how I’m going to make almond milk tomorrow for a new batch of yoghurt.

But then 4pm happened, and brought with it a dreadfully familiar routine. Since then (5 hours ago), I’ve been in and out of the bathroom at least 6 times with diarrhoea (and tears of frustration), but I’m trying to stay positive. I’m hoping it’s simply the booze and the litre of yoghurt I consumed on Friday that’s caused this, and that’s it’s just a hiccup and it’ll be out of my system by tomorrow. But even as I type, I feel my tummy gurgling, and I can tell I’m going to have to jump up any second.

I just can’t. I want to crawl into my bed and stay there until this passes. More than anything, I don’t want this to be flare. And that’s exactly what it feels like. If it is… where to from here?

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Day 13: What my doctor said today

I have an amazing physician whom I really really like. He’s experienced, caring and has a lovely bedside manner, and he’s put me on the path to recovery, for which I am eternally grateful. I had been to other doctors with my weird symptoms and they couldn’t help. Dr Neethling fixed me.

Today was my 2-month check up. He put me on a strong dose of cortisone to get my last flare under control, about 3 months ago. Then he switched me to indefinite Asacol, and wanted to see how that was going.

The short answer is: Excellently. Today’s blood tests showed normal ESR levels – that is, no inflammation!

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Inflammation is an indication that your gut is damaged and fighting to recover. My ESR levels and white blood cell count was very elevated in October last year (ESR around 60, when it should be negligable or in single digits). By November, thanks to Pulmison (cortisone) they’d dropped noticeably. Today’s blood test showed a complete return to ‘normality’. YAY!

The 2 important things that this means 

1. I cannot stop taking my Asacol, especially now. While I think that diet is really helping a lot – and I have no doubt SCD is helping to reduce inflammation – I can’t deny that the Asacol got me right. Prior to medication, I was having between 8 and 12 BMs a day. Most days I lost count. The Pulmison cleared that up within days, while the Asacol has kept me on an even keel ever since, with regular BMs, no diarrhoea and no bleeding.

2. Medical treatment for IBD is essential. I believe in following both a medical and an holistic path, and what you choose to follow is up to you. But if you’re flaring; if you’re bleeding and dehydrated and anaemic, seek medical treatment. Even a nutritionalist or naturopath will encouarge you to use science as an immediate intervention in an emergency (and if you’re flaring, you’re having an emergency), and then to phase in the natural remedies when your symptoms are under control.

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I’m so glad I got this encouraging result today because I needed something bright on the horizon. I’m SICK of this diet! I actually threw away half my dinner tonight (pureed carrots and chicken) because I could no longer stomach either the smell or taste of it.

I’m also sick of bananas – who’d have thought the honeymoon would ever end?! – but I guess that’s what happens when you eat 7 a day.

The reason my diet is going so slowly is because I’m following the advice of the guys over at SCDLifestyle.com and phasing in a new food once every four days, which I now see they’ve amended to 3 days, which is such a bonus. Nonetheless, even a 3-day gap between each new food item makes the progress infinitely long and drawn-out, but it is the safest way to do it. Here’s why.

And with that, it’s most definitely time for bed, where I’ll no doubt dream of cheating on my diet with my favourite seductress, milk chocolate.