It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since I found out I have Crohn’s (a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. I was diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn's in my small and large intestines and stomach). The past 12 months have been an interesting experience and I thought I would finally update you on my health.
I feel 110% better than I did last January when I had to go to the Emergency Room for dehydration. I am so grateful that I am able to manage my condition and I know that is because I finally went to a GI doctor (after years of stomach issues), did the necessary testing, and started taking medication.
I have been taking Humera for almost a year now – h gives me a shot in the stomach every other week and it has dramatically reduced the number of flare-ups or stomach “issues” I have. During the first few months of treatment I kept a food journal to monitor what foods upset my stomach. The results were anything overly greasy, deep-fried, fatty meat like sausage, anything super spicy, milk, and lettuce (weird I know). I try very hard to cut those items out of my diet and I try to avoid overeating in general. I learned the hard way (in Santorini of all places) that I cannot eat large amount of fried feta or have cheese at every meal (bummer). So, I am adjusting. I also rarely drink – I have the occasional glass of wine or prosecco but I don’t overdo it because it freaks my stomach out and it’s just not worth it. I have to also be really careful not to overeat at holidays –which are often full of tasty (and heavy) dishes.
Last year I went through a lot of physical changes – I lost a lot of weight when I was sick. When the medicine started working and I wasn't losing everything I ate, I gained some weight because it was still constantly snacking on “safe” food like dry cereal, even when I wasn't hungry. I had to learn to listen to my body and only eat when I was hungry instead of snacking out of fear that I was going to get sick (severe diarrhea and cramping) and lose more weight.
I eventually figured out what the "right" amount of food was for me and I have a steady diet of small meals throughout the day– breakfast (usually oatmeal), a banana before lunch, a sandwich, yogurt, more fruit in the afternoon and dinner (followed by something sweet). This works for me but everyone is different.
Now that I figured out what food to eat and vitamins – (I take a multi-vitamin, iron and calcium pill every day), I have a LOT more energy and I can make it through the day without collapsing on the couch after work. I have increased my weekly workouts and I do 30 minute classes five times a week (a mix of pilates, weight lifting, barre, self-myofascial core workouts and yoga). I LOVE feeling strong again and I am gradually turning that extra weight I gained into muscle. I typically workout in the middle of the day and it's a great stress reliever (which is perfect since stress is another trigger for my Crohn's symptoms).
Although I have been feeling great, I do fear that my medicine will stop working. I fear I will eat the wrong thing at the wrong place and get sick. And since Crohn’s is a chronic disease I fear that I will have another flare-up causing my intestines to inflame again and I will end up in the hospital – with surgery as my only option of recovery. All of that fear aside, I realize I am lucky that I have responded so well to my medication and I am extremely grateful for the support of my family and friends – and especially my husband who gives me humera shots, takes me to the doctor and lovingly reminds me that “No fried green tomatoes does NOT sound like it will be a good idea for you to eat.” :)
I realize this is a “longish” post but I really want to raise awareness about the disease and to offer support to anyone who has to live with Crohn’s.
So please, if you aren't feeling well - see a doctor and take care of yourself!