Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Putting Things In Perspective

Greetings everyone.

I start this message on a sad/scary/hopeful note.  Yesterday I found out that the husband of a friend of mine suffered from a seizure and was taken to the hospital.  I can't even imagine what she went through.  To be in the ER not knowing what is happening and why and then having to explain it to your children.  Today they are going home but surgery has been scheduled.  Brain surgery!  There is nothing scarier than that. 

I've had a pretty rough week when it comes to health issues but I'm still here breathing and not in the ER or awaiting surgery.  Talk about putting things in perspective. 

When I was first diagnosed at 12, I became quite cynical watching my friends live life like nothing could ever go wrong.  Granted, I didn't know what cynical meant back then but when I look back on my actions and words (the few I can remember) that's what I was.  That is pretty young to start that kind of behaviour.  My cynicism has only gotten worse with age.  At 35 when the Crohn's diagnosis came, I was a handful!  I have always been the pessimist in the group; the glass is always half-empty.  But lately, I'll drink the water in the glass and complain that it's empty and wonder why it never fills up.  This is an aspect of my personality that is very hard for me to change and I always assume that I'm the one that is going through the worst possible scenario.  But I'm not.

My heart goes out to my friend and her family and my thoughts will be with her as they move on with the surgery and whatever life may bring them afterwards.  As for me, yes, there is a lesson to be learned so I'll work on that.  But be warned, I may not be here for long.  I'm pretty sure there are some pissed off trees somewhere because I have gone through like 20 rolls of toilet paper in just two days!

So, as promised, here is the second verse to "The Wishing Song":

Now I don't have a coat of silk, but I still have the sky.
Now I don't have a lady, no, but there goes a butterfly.
Now I don't have a house of stone, but I can see the sea.
Now most of all I know that I am happy to be me.
I'm happy to be me.

What an appropriate message for me today.  This is what I am working on.  Being happy.  Being me.  And being happy while being me.

I wish all of you good health and happiness.  And give that person or pet in your life a big hug and kiss.  And be happy!  Man, if only I could follow my own advice!!  Do as I say, not as I do.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hoping For A Better Week and DGL

Hello my fellow bloggers.  I apologize for leaving you all high and dry for the past three days.  I'm sure you were all sitting on the edge of your computer chairs just waiting in anticipation for my words of wisdom.  Or my random nutterings about nothing.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's the latter.

Last week was hell and today hasn't been all that great.  After days of having a lingering stomachache, I ended up with some nasty pains in my belly.  Believe it or not, Ivan had nothing to do with it.  These nasty pains are due to a blockage somewhere in my small intestine.  Because nothing is moving everything gets plugged up and causes unbelievable pains right underneath my rib cage and my sides.  I've heard this from other Crohnies and aside from taking pain pills, there's not much to be done.  We literally have to wait it out and it can last a few hours to days.  In the very worst case scenario we end up at the ER and need emergency surgery.  Knock on wood that I haven't had to go down that road.  Yet another lovely side effect of Crohn's Disease. 

I want to make it clear that I'm not telling you all of this because I'm fishing around for sympathy.  I have a support system of wonderful people for that.  I'm telling you because if there is someone out there that has these pains then you may have Crohn's Disease. 

One of my go-to medicines during this time is DGL.  Or you may know it as Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice.  (Bonus points for anyone that can pronounce this word!)  Licorice has long been used as an herbal supplement for people that suffer from stomach ulcers, heartburn, and other gastrointestinal issues.  This specific licorice extract provides a protective coating for the mucosal lining of the esophagus, stomach, and intestinal tract.  (Thank you Swanson Vitamins for this description.  http://www.swansonvitamins.com/)   If I feel any rumblings in my stomach after a meal I'll eat one or two of these tablets and it tends to calm everything down.  Again, I am not a doctor so please take the time to talk to your doctor and research a product before trying it out.  I personally take a DGL that has been flavored with cocoa but there are others out there that have peppermint or Stevia flavoring so look around for something you might enjoy chewing.

At times like these it's pretty easy to start feeling sorry for yourself.  The typical questions of, "Why me?" or "Why can't I be normal?" are running through my head.  I know it's a pointless thing to do but I can't help it and I'm sure there are others out there that ask themselves these same questions.  I know that I can't change this disease but I'm hoping that I can change the way my body reacts to it and with every step forward there will always be steps back.  I know this but I don't always want to accept it.

I leave you with a song I came across when the new Muppet Movie came out.  It was originally sung by Gonzo to Madeleine Kahn back in the 70s on the original Muppet Show.  It's called "The Wishing Song".
(And thank you to The Airborne Toxic Event for covering it on the soundtrack album!)

I wish I had a coat of silk the color of the sky.
I wish I had a lady fair and then a butterfly.
I wish I had a house of stone that looked out on the sea.
But most of all, I wish that I was someone else but me.

That's the first verse.  I'll be back tomorrow with the second verse.  But for now I'm going to feel just a little sorry for myself and then get over it.  Everyone is allowed to feel this way but the important thing is to learn and move on. 

Cheers and good health to everyone!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Would Like You All To Meet...

...Ivan!  Ivan is the tiny monster that lives in my belly.  For those of you that have been around me I'm sure you have heard my stomach grumble and gurgle and wondered what was going on in there.  Well, now you know.  It's Ivan.  He likes to poke me with his spiked club and make funny noises so everyone will turn and stare at me and make me super uncomfortable.  He's not a very nice monster.

It occurred to me that if I give my stomach rumblings and all the issues that go with them a name and an ugly face it might make things easier.  So now people can ask me, "How are you?  How is Ivan doing?" and I'm okay with that. 

(Ivan must know that I'm talking about him because he just roared at me as I'm typing this.)

So please don't hesitate to ask about him because to me it means that you care how I'm doing.  And if he ever roars or grumbles at you feel free to yell back.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You Don't Look Sick

These four words are hands-down some of the worst to ever say to anyone that suffers from Crohn's, Colitis, or some form of IBS.  It's true that we don't display our sickness on the outside.  We're not sweating due to a fever or wrapped up in blankets due to having chills; we don't all look gaunt, emaciated, and pale; we don't cough out a lung or two and down Robitussin and Nyquil.  We carry our sickness on the inside right alongside our suffering.

It's been a long time since these words have been spoken in my presence but I feel the need to address it today.  I've been having stomach pain for the past 5 days and I could sit here and theorize what is causing it but like the disease itself, I just don't know.  It doesn't matter what I eat, don't eat, when I eat, or how much I eat.  It just hurts.  The pain makes me nauseated, lethargic, and literally zaps all of my energy.  My body is so busy trying to fight this entity that all it wants to do is sleep.  But don't worry, I look fantastic on the outside!  Well, maybe a little make-up would help too.  So does that mean I'm not sick?

So the next time you see someone that looks great on the outside but may complain about a stomachache remember this: they might be suffering more than you know and it is taking all of their will power to just get through the day.  And if you dare say these words, I warn you now, it doesn't matter how sick we are, we will kick your ass.

On a health note, I would like to talk about Curcumin.  Curcumin comes from the spice turmeric and has many health benefits.  My holistic healer, Dr. Stephen J. Feldman (http://www.ontohealth.com/), has me on it because of its anti-inflammatory properties.  In my case it helps my small intestine during those times when nothing makes it happy.  An extra dose of curcumin for a few days settles things down and I am then able to eat solid food again.  Curcumin and turmeric has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat upset stomachs.  Ayurvedic medicine holds its origins in India which incidentally, has a very low number of Irritable Bowel Diseases (IBD) amongst its people.  I am by no means a doctor or pretend to play one on TV.  Please do not take anything until you speak with a doctor and have read everything about it. 

On a happy note, I leave you with some of my favorite lyrics.  My new obsession is The Airborne Toxic Event, a band from Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California.  From their song, "The Graveyard Near the House": "Cause it's better to love whether you win or lose or die.  It's better to love whether you win or lose or die.  It's better to love and I will love you till I die."  I dedicate that to my husband who has to deal with a lot when it comes to me.

Good health everyone!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two Steps Forward, Seven Steps Back (and two book reviews)

Just when I think I'm going to have a good health day, WHAM!, I hit the wall.  All was well and good yesterday and so I had a little snack of cheese and crackers.  This is my go-to snack and 9.5 times out of 10 will sit well.  No sir, not yesterday.  Within a matter of minutes I was bloated and felt like crap.  Said crapiness continued on to the morning and is now finally gone.  Almost 24 hours of not feeling well...sigh.

Sadly, this is something all us Crohnies go through.  Sometimes we eat something that makes us feel great only to eat it again and have it almost kill us.  And the weirdest part is that the same food will always have a different reaction in our guts and will affect each of us differently.  Dairy (anything with lactose) is a big no-no for me and for many Crohn's and Colitis sufferers.  Ice cream, whole milk, cream cheese, and sour cream will pretty much always do me in.  But cheese has always been my friend.  Well, not always.  Lesson learned?  No.  I'll give cheese another chance and hopefully we'll get along next time.  Anyone else go through this?  What are your food triggers?

On another note, I did manage to finish two books this past weekend.  Camilla Lackberg "The Ice Princess" and Caroline Preston "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures". 

"The Ice Princess" is the first novel of Ms. Lackberg's to be translated into English from her native Swedish  and is yet another entry into the uber-popular Swedish Murder Mystery genre.  Our main character, Erika, has just discovered her former best friend murdered in their tiny hometown of Fjallbacka.  An investigation begins, along with a romance between Erika and the detective, Patrik Hedstrom.  And so on and so forth.  A few twists but no surprises.  Unfortunately, this doesn't hold a candle to what is already out there.  This mystery is translated by the same gentleman that did "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" but he seems to drop the ball here.  There were many extraneous words, point-of-view shifts, and unnecessary characters.  Whether this is due to a poor translation or just a poor original manuscript, I don't know.  There are more books that include Patrik Hedstrom but for now he'll have to wait before I come back to him.

I absolutely love, love, love "The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt" and everyone must be required to read it.  If that isn't enough to convince you then read it for the beautiful pictures and scrapbook memorabilia that is on every single page of this book.  It's 1920 and Frankie Pratt wants to be a writer but ends up staying home to take care of her widowed mother after graduating from high school.  But Mother has other plans and quickly sends Frankie to Vassar after a failed romance.  From there Frankie goes on to New York City, then Paris, then back home.  On every page you fall deeper into Frankie's life and before you know it, you're with her in New York City and on the boat to Paris.  By the end of the book you feel like she's a member of the family and you just want to hear her stories over and over.  Ms. Preston nailed it on the head when she decided to make this a "novel in pictures".  This is definitely a book that will be re-read over the years and will just get better each and every time. 

And with that I bid you all a great day, good reading and writing, but most of all, great health.  Cheers!

Monday, January 23, 2012

All right...here we go...my first official post on my new blog.  (taking a deep breath)

Welcome to everyone that finds their way here!  My main goal with this blog is to bring awareness to Crohn's, Colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and anything in between.  I have come across many people that aren't familiar with what IBS is and I take pride in being able to educate them so we have one less ignorant person in the world.  IBS can affect anyone at anytime - from babies to the elderly.  There is no rhyme or reason for why your body just begins to attack itself and the worst part is that there is no cure.  This is what is called an auto-immune disease and I'm sure many of you are familiar with other ones: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis, Lupus, even Multiple Sclerosis.  So, in order for the cure to show up we have to have awareness.  And for awareness we have (drumroll, please): this wonderful blog!!

I encourage anyone who is suffering from IBS to talk and/or vent about their issues.  Odds are, if I haven't been through it myself then maybe one of my followers has.  There is nothing better than having a shoulder to cry on especially if the person attached to that shoulder has the same problems.  If you happen to know someone with IBS please direct them here and take some time to educate yourself about what your friends or loved ones are going through.

Aside from that, I am also here to talk about writing, books, and any other interesting things that happen in my life.  I am currently working on the great American novel (aren't we all my dear writer friends?).

And with that I bid you adieu.  (waving like the Queen from the balcony of her castle)

I wish you all good health and wonderful days of writing!  (or feel free to substitute your hobby for writing)

p.s.  Thank you for my three followers!! 
Becky Povich at http://www.beckypovich.blogspot.com/,
Donna Volkenannt at http://www.donnasbookpub.blogspot.com/,
and my acupuncturist and holisitic healer Dr. Stephen J. Feldman at http://www.ontohealth.com/