I haven’t done one of these for a while. It’s been just over a year since my second surgery and it’s crazy to think how far I’ve come.
If you’ve been following along on some of my previous blog posts, my symptoms progressively got worse through 2017 and became so severe that I was unable to work or function day-to-day. Suffering through every day with chronic pain is not something I would wish on anyone. It sucked the enjoyment out of life for me and that’s no way to live.
Sadly for those with IBD, surgery is often an inevitable part of the disease. Unresponsive to a medicative approach and out of options, one severely strictured segment of my small intestine was surgically removed in October 2017. Following my surgery, I prematurely jumped right back into my chaotic lifestyle continuing my career as a Geoscientist.
To read about how my surgery went, I linked all my related blog posts in the footnotes below.
When I’m healthy and feeling good, I’m driven and focused on my career, fitness and personal goals. I do my absolute best to make the most out of the time I feel healthy, and I’ve been feeling great for the most part.
But in the past two weeks, I’ve had a sobering wake-up call with the return of severe abdominal cramping. An all too familiar reminder that gives me painful flashbacks to a time not so long ago, where I was left crippled and debilitated by my disease.
Constant aching pain, fatigue and severe abdominal cramping is a typical indication of a flare-up for me.
My Greatest Strength is also my Biggest Weakness
I put a lot of pressure, demand and stress on myself in anything I do; that’s just part of my personality. How I do one thing is how I do everything, and I have a very hard time letting up on the gas pedal when my health deteriorates. Knowing I’m mentally strong enough to push through but limited by my body and forced to step back because of my disease, is crushing and demeaning. It’s the hardest part of living with Crohn’s Disease for me. I have the mental strength and fortitude to deal with the setbacks, but I find it incredibly difficult to slow down.
Often your greatest strength is also your biggest weakness.
It’s a trade-off. Any situation that creates stress and forces me to step my game up is where I typically thrive. When I have to push myself out of my comfort zone or do something beyond my capabilities is where I’ve found I do my best work.
I often find myself seeking out these situations because I am never satisfied or happy with a place of complacency. This unhealthy obsession usually works well for me and forces growth but also at a cost to my health.
I know I preach about stress and listening to your body but sometimes it’s a lot easier said than done. It’s one of my biggest faults that I will always be working on.
How I manage a Flare-up
For now, my current protocol when symptoms arise is listed below:
- Scale back on the intensity, load and frequency of training. I still exercise depending on the severity of the flare-up.
- Alter my diet to accommodate softer, more easily digestible foods. Eggs, salmon, avocado, coconut oil, oats, bananas, chicken/turkey breast, white rice, peeled and baked sweet potato, smoothies, collagen protein etc.
- Lower insoluble fibre consumption and eliminate most vegetables, peel all fruit and eliminate anything that could get stuck in the presence of inflammation causing an obstruction. I often drink smoothies to get additional nutrients in unless I am having frequent bowel movements.
- Implement stress management techniques such as meditation, walking in nature, spending time to myself.
- Fast! There are tremendous benefits to fasting including reduced inflammation. I fast multiple times per week but when flaring I implement prolonged fasts >24hr. I wrote a guide on fasting that I’ll link it at the bottom of the page.
- Limiting or eliminating caffeine and eliminating all alcohol (I don’t usually drink much to begin with)
- Keeping nutrition dialed and supplement accordingly. Glutamine (can help reduce intestinal permeability), CBD oil, turmeric (with black pepper for increased bioavailability) and ginger for anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil, bone broth and or collagen protein are staples I use frequently, not just during a flare.
- Sleep: I prioritize sleep when I’m healthy but when I’m in a flare-up, I sleep as much as possible. I prioritize sleep over all other things even if it means canceling plans, being antisocial or missing a workout. This is non-negotiable.
- Being in-tune and listening to my body. Again, this is something I’ve learned through experience but I will always be working on.
*Disclaimer*: This is just simply what I do and what seems to work for me. This is not medical advice or what will work for you. IBD is a very individual disease and what works for someone may not necessarily work for you.
I am hoping I can get control of my symptoms without the need for additional medications such as prednisone. As much as I despise prednisone, it works incredibly well and is sometimes a necessary evil. I know many of you can relate.
Until next time, head over to the Oshi Health app to read other awesome blog posts from myself, Medical Professionals, GI’s and many other Patient Advocates! Oshi is available for free on the Apple and Android app store.
LINKS TO OTHER RESOURCES
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE OSHI HEALTH APP: OSHIHEALTH.COM
Fasting 101 – What you need to know
Health Update March 2018 – My first steak in t years, the final verdict on surgery and my latest health blunders
THE BOWEL OBSTRUCTION DIET – Restricting my already restricted diet
HEALTH UPDATE SEPTEMBER 2017 – En Route to my Second Surgery