Thursday, 29 December 2011

(Non-Hospital A)ward!

HIYA! Just a quickie to say a HUGE thank-you to any of you who have nominated me for this so far. There are only 2 (and a half) days left to vote in the WEGO Health Health Activist Awards! Either for me or the other wonderful 'Activists' in the running. DO IT NOW!
I will pay you in eternal adoration and possibly biscuits x
(Disclaimer; there will be no biscuits) x

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Crohn Lang Syne

Happy Christmas! Hope you all had a wonderful festive period and are looking forward to frivolity ensuing at New Year. If you still have a food/drink hangover then take two Paracetamol and call me in the morning.
Most people around this time of year start to think about making their New Years resolutions. I did this regularly when I was younger, really only because it seemed traditional and was what everyone else did.
Later I realised that all making these resolutions did was frustrate or depress me as I never seemed to achieve any of them. No matter how big or small, most people, like myself, start the year with the best of intentions but rarely stick it out past Valentines Day. Suppose that's why gym memberships soar in Jan and Feb..
I've realised as I can't control how I will feel from one day to the next, it's very hard to plan much further than a few hours in advance. No point in making bold plans for myself that I don't know if I'll be physically able to keep. Or is there? Is it better to make these plans to give myself something to focus on and aim for when things get hard?
I'm not sure. I'm still coming to terms with my illness myself, it's now almost a year since my operation and I'm now trying to settle into my life with Crohn's. Quite an adjustment in itself.
I've resolved to start a food diary to keep a log of everything I eat and drink and what effects they have on my delicate insides. This will hopefully give me a better idea (in general) of what foods to steer clear of, although I realise this will probably take years.
Other than that I have a lovely friend who has offered to start teaching me how to drive! YIKES. At 28 I think it's about time, have never really been interested before, but it's practical and sensible - all these trips back and forward to hospitals will be so much easier not having to rely on public transport or family and friends. If I do manage to pass, that means no more bus tweets! Sad times :(
Oh and I also want a holiday! Haven't left Scotland for over 2years now. A spot of sunshine always makes me feel better, and a tan is always much nicer than my traditional milk-bottle-white skin.
These are not resolutions- just a few things I'd like to do - maybe not this year for sure, but soon I hope. I'm not setting myself any major goals for now until i am a bit more confident coping with my Crohn's. If that day ever comes! In the meantime all I really want to achieve over the next 12months (and beyond) is to enjoy life. Make the most of the positives in my life and focus on those. Hiding away from the world never helped anyone, I want to show the world how well I am coping and how important it is to have some fun. So if the world doesn't indeed come to an abrupt end, I aim to have a fun-filled 2012. I hope you all resolve to do the same :)
K x

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Merry Crohnsmas & A Happy New Rear!

I love Christmas. I love the snow and the lights, the gift giving and devouring enough food to feed a small country. I love the build up to it all and spending time with the people I love.
Last year wasn't my best Christmas to date. I was in the full force of a flare-up and was only weeks away from my operation. The thought of having major surgery in a matter of days was always in my thoughts. Constant pain meant I was on lots of pain relief and medication and couldn't drink. Not the end of the world I know, but to lots of Scots it's a part of that clink-your-glasses-together-with-a-wee-dram tradition that I love.
I was also on a liquid only diet (not of the wee dram kind unfortunately) and took Christmas day 'off' from my delicious (vile) prescribed shakes to gorge myself. Felt incredibly guilty about this but the thought of sitting around the table while everyone tucked into turkey with all the trimmings would have reduced me to hunger induced tears, not to mention making the rest of the family feel awful. So I tucked in - but much to my dismay I could hardly eat anything anyway. I gave it a good old college try but the end score was always going to be Crohns - 1 - Kath - Nil.
Feeling this rotten all day made it hard to relax and enjoy myself. Even the act of hugging my loved ones was incredibly painful, I could barely touch myself around the tum area let alone have under 10's run at me with the force of a steam train.

I hope that this year ahead is going to be a better one. My beloved and I are spending Christmas Day with my parents then his on Boxing Day. I've felt all the preparation to be quite stressful this year so have decided Christmas 2012 will not be the same - I'll budget better and try not to go as overboard as I always do on the gifts. I say this every year but now, other than not leaving myself penniless, I have a solid reason to avoid stress. Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion and the less stress I bring on myself the better. For my health and my mental health!

Crohn's is an awful disease and can really bring you down. I liken it to a spoilt brat of a child, constantly not finishing meals and relentless attention seeking, if it doesn't get what it wants then comes the nipping and punching and whining. If only I could have mines adopted, although I doubt anyone would volunteer :(
It's horrible and depressing at times but my advice to anyone in the grip of Crohn's (or anything really making you feel below par) is simply please, PLEASE, don't let it win. Keep on trucking and eventually there will be a light at the end of the road. It won't disappear or get easier as such, but you will get stronger and learn to adapt. This in itself will be a revelation. A little Christmas miracle if you will.

Finally, humour me while I become the Queen of Cheese for a few moments.. I want to say Thank-you so much to anyone who has taken the time to read my posts this year, you really have no idea what it means. All the support I've received since I started writing has been phenomenal and I hope to continue blabbing on this way into 2012 and beyond!

Merry Christmas Everyone.
All my love, Your friendly neighbourhood Crohnie x

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Crohnly In Dreams

One of the most common (and thankfully mildest) symptoms of Crohn's, is tiredness.
For me, I've found since my operation almost a year ago, I've been getting steadily more and more shattered. I know this is far from a major symptom, but being knackered all the time is quite a surprisingly difficult issue to deal with. Tiredness leads to irritability, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, headaches and general fatigue - causing the most inane of activity to become a full on challenge.
I've found work to be a chore recently and keeping my mind on the job more difficult than before. I find my mind wandering and my eyelids drooping most of the day and at times feel I'm struggling to concentrate.
Nothing seems to help either, multi-vitamins are no use, my iron levels are usually low but nothing too drastic, and having been recently tested for b12, I've been advised there are no major issues there either. On paper all is well. So why am I still constantly counting those sheep?
The feeling I have is akin to those tipsy moments after a few too many glasses of vino. I feel wobbly and slightly dizzy, heaviness in the eyes, and at times like the room is spinning. Walking short distances is on the whole a struggle too- leading to breathlessness and at times nausea. Sometimes I feel as though I can't take things in or concentrate on a conversation for longer than a few moments.
During a Crohn's flare this can get worse. As the body struggles to fight the disease all energy is being sapped to the max, leaving the resulting sufferer a limp rag.
Side effects to medication can also cause fatigue and switching medication can help in these cases.
For me it would seem anaemia and nutritional deficiencies are leaving me fatigued. I've been told to ensure I get 'adequate sleep' and eat 'healthy foods' - most healthy foods play havoc with my washing machine tum and the sleep I get is usually more than adequate but still leaves me feeling like a complete weakling. Sleep can also be a wily character to keep a hold of when my nights/mornings are spent running back and forward to the ladies room..
If feeling tired is the starting block then the finish line is that cranium finally hitting the pillow. When tiredness strikes all I can think about is the sweet relief that will come when my eyes finally comfortably close and drift of to sweet, sweet snooze-ville. This can be a challenge in itself at times as, depending on the level of pain in my tum or bum it can be really uncomfortable just trying to relax. I'm still very tender at my scar site too so finding the correct lying position can take it's time. But when I get there...
Let's just say those sheep best have their running shoes on.. Zzzz..

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Crohn & Groan

I get sick of being sick. This is a phrase often quoted by a lot of Crohnies, and people in general who suffer from a chronic or long term illness.
That's because it brings you down, makes you feel depressed and blue and makes you think that it shouldn't be this much of a struggle just to get through a day. Why is it?
This is how I feel most days. That alone will probably upset the people who love and care about me but it's true. I never intend to upset anyone with my posts, I like to try my best to keep them positive and put a humorous slant on my condition.
But I also don't want to sugar-coat Crohns. It's a terribly debilitating disease at times. It gets in the way of the simplest of actions, from eating a meal to walking to the shops. I am lucky enough to be well enough to have a full time job, but most days I find even doing a full shift incredibly tiring, I feel utterly drained and like I could sleep for a week at the end of it. Then it hits that I have to squeeze in some sleep then do it all over again in a few hours time.
Crohns is utterly and completely relentless. It doesn't care if you are suffering elsewhere in your life, if you are stressed at work, having problems at home or grieving for a loved one- it doesn't stop, it cant. It's with you for life so it makes it's presence felt as often as is humanly possible. Its that black sock you accidentally put in with the White wash, that little brother who won't stop repeating your sentences in a moronic take-off of your voice, it's that umbrella that won't STOP TURNING INSIDE OUT. For fear of drifting into Alanis Morrisette territory I'll leave it there. But I hope you get that what I mean is that it's basically an annoying little bastard that will wind you up endlessly until you snap.
I feel a lot that I am a burden on those I love. This is in my head - my partner has never made me feel this way, neither have my family or friends, but however lovely and accommodating of Crohns they are, it still doesn't seem to change the way I feel. I get constantly annoyed with myself at not being able to do what I used to. I hate having to say no to things and let people down and like a devil on my shoulder the thoughts always in the back of my mind are if he will eventually get fed up and leave or if I will push everyone away by not opening up. I don't moan - well a little but I don't wax lyrical about how I feel as much as I guess I should. How do I expect anyone to understand if I don't talk? But as much as I want people to hug me and tell me it'll be alright it's pointless as I know it won't. I know there is worse to come and I get annoyed at anyone who tries to tell me otherwise as, 1. How do they know they haven't got it, and 2. I know better. I KNOW.
These horrible feelings pass as do the symptoms, but when you are I'm the grip of it it feels like a black fog you are trying to navigate your way through.
I know I am not depressed, I am just blue. And if blue is the colour of sadness then yellow is the opposite - happiness. As I am an expert in the colour wheel from my art college days, I know that blue mixed with yellow makes green. Green is traditionally the colour of hope, health and growth. Therefore I KNOW things will get better. Its science ;)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Bowel of Fortune!

Do you have Crohns disease? Not too sure? Take this fun quiz to find out!

1. You are eating a packet of salted nuts. Do you;
A) Enjoy those bad-boys to their fullest?
B) Drink half a gallon of beer to wash them down and quench your thirst?
C) Grip your stomach in knee trembling agony and dial 999?

2. You feel the need to use the toilet. Do you;
A) Casually stroll to the nearest loo with the confidence of someone wearing a Tena?
B) Walk to the cubicle with the moves like Jagger?
C) Bolt to the nearest toilet/hole in the ground/sink/ like a bat out of HELL?

3. You hear a strange rumbling noise in the distance. Do you;
A) Prepare your surroundings for a potential Earthquake?
B) Hide Simba under the bed from an oncoming onslaught of Wildebeest?
C) Assume (correctly) it's coming from your stomach?

4. You notice a strange swelling in your stomach after meals. Do you;
A) Prepare for the arrival of a new child following the immaculate conception?
B) Wait for Greenpeace to arrive to rescue you?
C) Lie down before you fall down?

Mostly A's ;
You are Crohn's free! Living life to the full and strutting to the toilet like it ain't no thang! You go girlfriend!

Mostly B's ;
You too are free from bowel misery! However it looks like you need to do something about your dancing ability and why do you have cuddly toys in your bedroom? Grow UP! Plus you could maybe do with losing a few pounds..

Mostly C's ;
Sorry guys! Looks like you have Crohns! You are in agony after most meals and rush to the toilet as if your life depended on it. Your tum swells up and you can't tolerate most foods. The good news is you are not carrying the new Messiah! (Or a whale) You are bad-bowel-tastic!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Crohna Lisa

My boyfriend called me the Chrona Lisa the other night when I was feeling rough.
This is not in the slightest bit offensive to me, it conveys that he still thinks I'm lovely whilst i feel far from it. At least that's what I take from it. It's an affectionate way of laughing at my predicament. Makes me guffaw at the mere idea that I could look attractive when I can barely move and need to be undressed by him. Oh wait..I think I'm getting it now..
Anyway, this got me thinking a few things (mainly, I'm nicking that as my next blog title) but also how we, as a couple, cope with my disease. I've touched on this before in my blog, but now we having been living side by side with this Crohns squatter for over a year it's easier to get a better view of how we've both adapted to it.
I would say on the whole, with humour. We have a kind of Crohn's code for when we are together. These are not rules we have put in place, they've just developed over time. I'm not giving it away to all and sundry but one small example of this is one we use is when I'm spending longer than is usually considered 'normal' in the bathroom. He will shout up to ask "Are you bog-hogging baby?" to which I'll either reply "2 minutes!" which means I'm fine, or a flat and miserable sounding "yes.." which means I'll be here a while, you best find yourself something to do for the next few minutes/hours/days/weeks/millennia.
This makes me laugh every-time he says it. I don't know why, I think it just brings me back down to earth from my wallowing and makes me focus on my ridiculous situation.
One I like to use when we discuss dinner is what foods will or will not, "destroy me". This is Crohn-Code for 'if I eat that I will be bog-hogging for at least the next 5years and bloated to the size of a beached whale'. Cue there to get back round the oven and re-evaluate our supper plans.
Don't let these verbal high jinks fool you into thinking life at Casa Crohns is laugh-a-minute though. Unfortunately it's not - I still have Crohns therefore I still have the symptoms in amongst our banter. This means I still moan, and complain and have to sleep/go to the loo/lie down/have a cuddle at the drop of a hat.
There really is no way either of us could be content in living with my Crohn's if we both focused on the bad at all times. I suppose at least I'm never predictable.
Now I'm off to bog-hog for a bit, pass me War & Peace.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Play That Horn

Well I have finally come to the end of my month of clogging up your Twitter timelines, Facebook walls and Blog alerts, also known as NHBPM (National Health Blog Post Month). I've really enjoyed the challenge and have done pretty well I think - used my two 'get out of post free' days and another for sickness (occupational hazard of being the patient writing a health blog).
It's been a great chance to keep the grey matter stimulated, read and share with other bloggers and take on the feedback I've received.
However, there is one last post to go and I've been dreading it for a few days now if I'm honest.. This post asks me to write about Me. More specifically what I 'love' about myself.
ARRGH. I hate this type of thing and am hopeless at talking about myself. Well that's not entirely true - hopeless at talking about the good points, my flaws I could probably fill a novel with, 3 sequels and a straight to DVD movie. (Starring Bruce Forsyth as me of course - it's the big chin). See, there I go already - I can't and never have been able to take myself seriously.
I'm an idiot. I spend the majority of my time doing and saying idiotic things then laughing at how idiotic I've been. I also apologise a lot, which drives my partner and best friend absolutely round the bend, suppose it's my way of getting the apology in in advance for fear I'll shortly say/do something stupid. That's not a bad quality I suppose, idiocy. In the mildest term of the word of course, I'm a harmless idiot.

I think I'm daft and therefore laughing at myself comes easily.
I'd say one of the things I like (can't bring myself to say 'love') is my sense of humour. I love to laugh and try to surround myself with people who share in my silliness and think i'm amusing in return. Suppose most of the ridiculous things I do or say are to release that elusive guffaw and loosen up those chuckle muscles. Of course that could be mistaken for "not 'funny haha'" which would devastate me. (not really, I'm just being an idiot again).

I'm terrible at praising myself or 'bigging myself up' as the kids allegedly say. However one of the qualities I do like about myself is how loving I am - I 'love' it, in fact. I adore my partner, family and friends and sometimes squeeze the cat so hard I fear his whiskers may fall off. This loveable me can also
at times be a terrible curse, for example when my goldfish of 12years died. I was gutted. Stared at the shelf he used to sit on for days, like a lost puppy. That little guy was irreplaceable, had survived the fun-fair, 2 cats, and my dad dropping him on the kitchen Lino several times a month. RIP Dave. Anyway, before my tears threaten to dampen the keys, I'll continue.
I care too much at times (don't even know what that means? How much is too much? Squeezing your cats whiskers off?) I often end up taking a lot of the problems of others on my shoulders. This doesn't leave much room for my own. I'm not Hulk Hogan. This can be very stressful at times but I wouldn't really have it any other way, I can't stand to see people unhappy and if even just listening helps someone I will stretch those ears out to epic proportions.

Finally, I'd have to say I like my attitude to Crohn's. It tries and tries to knock me down, but like those classic 90's Prescott-bashers 'Chumba Wumba', I get back up again. (Apologies if your not in the UK as that probably means nothing to you :) )
Crohn's is a tough, tiring, physical and mental assault course and I always did come last on sports day.
But this is one race I am determined to win. X

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Greeting Card Post

'Congratulations, you've got Crohn's!'

'You've just been diagnosed with Crohn's and right now you feel swollen,
But don't feel blue coz you've a dodgy colon!
The doctors and nurses will help you feel better,
So try not to be too much of a fretter.
It's hard when you hear this disease is for life,
But please, please do not reach for the knife.
You'll feel sick and sore and the pain may be tragic,
But some drugs today can work like pure magic!
Eating is tough and some foods are out of the question,
But if I may be so bold can Make a suggestion?
Take all advice given and don't be martyr,
Help truly is there from people much smarter.
Soon you'll feel better and learn to adapt,
When the route to your colon is more clearly mapped!
So take it easy for now, rest those weary bones,
For soon you will adapt to the wonders of Crohn's!'

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Say WHAT?!

There have been many, MANY, ridiculous statements made about my condition, probably too many to list on one post to be honest.
It seems a bit smug and patronising now that I have a knowledge of Crohn's to shrug these comments off as silly. Why should I judge other people for asking questions or making assumptions I might have made myself over 12months ago?
Because I have it, that's why. Therefore I can say whatever I like about my disease as I'm going through it! The bottom line for me is that I don't have a problem with people asking me about my condition, (to a point obviously) - I'd much rather that than hear you telling ME what IM dealing with, when really you have no idea.
The main example that sticks in my mind and relates to a conversation I overheard, about me, two people were having in a busy room. One of the gossipers was advising the other that, because I have Crohns, I "literally s**t all the time". Lovely. The person on the receiving end of this little nugget of information was aghast with horror. Now bear with me while I break this statement down into it's component parts.. "literally" - I 'literally' s**t all the time. Really? How do I manage to eat? And sleep? And hold down a full time job? Surely I must be surgically attached to the toilet for fear of constant accidents.
"s**t all the time" - again, 'all the time' - how do I manage to get anything done?
Anyway, I came back at this point in the conversation and calmly sat down to a stony embarrassed silence. I explained that, no, I don't..need to use the toilet all the time. I have a disease that affects my bowels and makes it difficult for me to eat and digest foods properly, meaning I sometimes spend longer than your average poo poo bear in the facilities.
My response just garnered confused glances towards one another and of course those obligatory looks of pity. The looks of pity are also a common one when talking of your disease for the first time. I don't want people to feel sorry for me, I have a condition, I'm still the same person, just minus a bit of bowel.
On the other hand because Crohns is an 'invisible disability' it can often be hard to express just how terrible you may feel to someone who sees you outwardly looking no different.
But I will end this post with another one of my favourite comments, regarding another of my health gripes, arthritis. I suffered pain in my knee to the point of struggling to walk for months and kept going back and forward to the doctor to no avail. Painkillers were given and a quick peek at the offending knee (which was seriously swollen) and I was sent hobbling on my way. Eventually, on my 6th visit to the surgery, the doctor, who'd had a quick look at my notes, and my face, (I was 25 at this point) seemed annoyed, as if I was wasting his time, again. He didn't look at my knee, told me it was a sprain, to walk if off and put some frozen peas on it. FROZEN PEAS. A few short weeks later I was diagnosed with arthritis and getting cortisone injected into my knee.
Peas be with you, Doctor x

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Quote Unquote.

Today's post asks us to fire a randomly selected word into the search engine on the WEGO Health website and choose a quote you like from the results you get to set you writing.
The search word I used was, quite appropriately, "illness" and i found this quote that caught my attention ;
'Do you 'own' your illness?'
This got me to thinking how I feel in relation to 'ownership' of my disease. Right now i'd say Crohn's is still very much in the driving seat and 'owns' me. Much as i'd like to think otherwise I think I am still pretty much ruled by my disease and allow it to get the better of me a lot of the time.
This isnt a pleasant thing to realise but i'm well aware i'm still in the very early stages of my disease and it's going to take me a long time to get a proper handle on it. I struggle to come to terms with the realization there are many things I used to be able to do that I now find increasingly difficult. This is not an easy thing to admit - really rotten to think how significantly this Crohn's malarkey will interfere in my life. The simple act of sitting down to a meal is a challenge in itself now. The meal is rarely finished and when it is I await the rumblings or pain - even if i'm fine I still assume it will come and brace myself accordingly. Then I am completely shattered. Not just that whole after dinner woozyness you sometimes get after a big Christmas dinner or feast, but absolutely floored. Could go to bed right away and probably sleep the next 24 hours. But because that is not socially acceptable (or possible - i have a full time job) I struggle to stay awake, which then makes me irritable and grumpy at the fact i'm bloated to whale-like proportions.
But this problem is a regular one and I know I will get used to it and find a happy medium at some point. I just sometimes feel the loss of control of my own body is hard to deal with. I am so tired most of the day and think about Crohn's and how I will feel pretty much everytime I eat or drink. This again, I hope, will pass in time. I try my best to remain positive and not to allow Crohn's to be 'who i am' - but I cannot deny it is now a huge part of who I will be (a horrible diseased part).
I think the important thing to remember is that control and 'ownership' are the key words. I may not be able to control what silly games my disease decides to play with me, but I can always hold on to the rule book.
The minute I give over ownership of my body I have lost - and (apart from in every sport known to man) I have never been a loser. x

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

I still Remember..

I still remember being told I had Crohns Disease. I can remember it quite vividly actually. I'd just been admitted to hospital (again) with agonising abdominal pain, my partner was with me and a young trainee doctor came into my room and asked me a novels worth of medical questions. In the process, inadvertently letting slip something about the possibility of Crohns. He looked instantly embarrassed and left in a hurry.
I was a bit shell shocked. I'd gone from having appendicitis to having an incurable disease I'd never even heard of. We were both a bit panicked but tried to stay calm. I was doped up on painkillers at this point so couldn't take much in, and would explain why I remember feeling pretty laid back at the time..
An older doctor came in with the student 'let-slip' doctor and spoke to me for a few minutes. For some reason I remember him being at the other end of the room and I was paranoid and confused by this- Did he think he would catch whatever this mystery illness is that I may or may not have? Is it contagious?
He again mentioned his suspicions I may have Crohns Disease, gave a VERY brief outline as to what it is, which all went completely over my head almost instantly, as it was so baffling and quick I couldn't comprehend any other than that word "disease". I do however remember feelings of relief and even validation in amongst the confusion and nerves, that something was being done at last, and that it wasn't all in my mind and that there IS something wrong with me!
After this initial meeting however, the next few days were spent preparing me to have my appendix out, which was of course, entirely unnecessary. I felt upset and worried at the seeming lack of communication and reluctance for anyone to make a definite decision on my diagnosis. I was told constantly I'd need more tests and procedures but not why - I wanted to know what exactly they suspected or what they were trying to rule out. To be honest it's just as well the young doctor had let the Crohns theory slip, as it stuck in my mind and gave me something to cling to.
The worst part however was the hope it had been appendicitis after all. If it was I would've had my nasty appendix out and could carry on with my life as if nothing had happened. Instead I was saddled with a life-long disease with no cure.
Most of all, I remember the sheer feeling of relief that now that we knew what was wrong we could start to get it under control. I now realise that's going to be a long and arduous journey, but I'm fuelled up and ready to go.

This post was written as part if NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Never Have I Ever..

This post asks me to think about something I've never done but would like to in relation to my condition. The main one which keeps cropping up when thinking about Crohn's is one of the major gripes I have, people belittling or making light of my illness. People making ludicrous comments or using what I have as an excuse to play the hypochondriac.
I find this incredibly insulting and ignorant. I completely appreciate people who maybe have a genuine interest in Crohns and asking questions, perhaps at times too bluntly, so I bite my tongue and answer them as best I can whilst remaining relatively cheerful..
The issue I have is when people (who clearly do not have the first clue what we go through) discount any symptoms or complaints as over-reacting or exaggeration. This, in my case couldn't be further from the truth. Infact, I blame myself partly for the length of time it took to establish a diagnosis. If I had been more open and honest with the doctors from the beginning they would have had more to go on. That's a valuable lesson I've learned, in as much as I have to speak up and not worry about being judged as that is what the doctors are there for - to help make me feel better.
I think because I've been made to feel in the past that I've been perhaps going overboard when complaining of symptoms, it's taking a while to realise that I wasn't - if anything I was holding back!
But the point of this post was to explain what I NEVER do. And what I never do is speak up when I'm offended. Just silently seethe at the time then bore the boxers off my beloved later by ranting about it. I don't know if there even is a point to voicing my fury at idiotic comments? The person making the comment in the first place clearly is so insensitive that it would more than likely be irrelevant what I said in return. I would just be winding myself up more than I already do and that's just not good for my health ;) So I'm going to try and elevate myself to a whole other level and try to stop myself from getting bugged in the first place. That way Arthritis and Crohn's may break my bones but uninformed comments will never hurt me ;)

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts on 30 days

Thursday, 24 November 2011

My Mascot

My wee mascot is called the Crohn Ranger. He is a little diseased bundle of fun who loves to give your insides a good squeeze! His absolute favourite is to twist your intestines around in this grip like he's wringing out a wet dish cloth!
The Crohn Ranger is a mischievous character who loves to cause disruption and mayhem at the most inappropriate times!
Are you running late? 'Squeeze!'
Are you on a deadline at work? 'Squeeeeze!'
Are you making an attempt at a social life? 'SQUEEEZE!!'
He hates most foods and likes to remind you of any errors you may make in dietary terms. Stay away from that tasty treat!
He enjoys playing with your temperature too, twisting the heater up and down whenever he feels like it, causing you to go from sauna sweats to antarctic chills in a matter of minutes. Rascal!
The Crohn Ranger loves visiting the doctors surgery and the hospital, he'll have you back and forth like a yo yo! Just can't get enough of that hospital food! Or maybe it's the nurses? Naughty!
He is always keen to remind you he is in the driving seat and any ideas you may get otherwise will warrant a serious reminder painwise! Stay on that little guys good side whatever you do!

Essentially he's a complete bastard.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 posts in 30 days.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Health Activist Choice - 'If my Colon could talk..'

I'm slowly getting to grips with the realisation that I must start 'listening' to my body. Of course with Crohn's in some cases it's almost impossible not too, mainly when my washing machine stomach is in the midst of it's full spin cycle.
Joking aside, when I say 'listen' I don't just mean the audible wonderment my insides produce, but more those certain feelings or intuitions you start to get with a longterm illness. I'm a great one for pushing things I don't have time for (like my health) to the back of the drawer, hoping above all hope it will 'sort itself out' leaving me to get on with whatever else it is I've designated more important.
Take an example from earlier this month. I took the first week of Nov off work as I had some leave to use up and thought I catch up with all the lovely people I haven't seen for ages and take in some overdue rest and relaxation. Day 1 of my 'holiday' I went shopping with mum, felt shattered and dizzy and spent most of the day running back and forth to the toilet. Ended up shouting at her in M&S about god knows what and getting completely over-emotional for no legitimate reason.
Day 2 spent at home feeling rotten, no appetite and grumpy as Hell.
Day 3 was my little brothers graduation and I was determined to attend and feel better. I remember saying to my beloved the night before 'Best perk myself up for tomorrow' - Brilliant. If anyone knows how exactly you do that then please let me know as that phrase makes no sense whatsoever. So the day arrived, I was up with the lark and caught bus into town, slight headache on the horizon but I reasoned I hadn't eaten and the sun blazing in the window caused that (yes, I said Sun. In Scotland. In November.)
Met my brother and his lady and he was a little on the nervous/stressed side. Had half a bacon roll and lots of liquids and insisted on sitting at end of the row next to the door to bemused glances from older people around me. Dizziness got steadily worse and the headache was brutal. Queasiness was on the way at this point too and the ceremony had only just begun. Got ridiculously emotional watching lil' bro' graduate and cried the tears of a sick and soppy big sister.
Then was another bus trip to the reception. Leaned up against the wall in the grand hall and avoided the fishy canap├ęs on offer for fear of them making a reappearance. Old lady next to me was brought a chair to sit on and I was soo close to shoving her off so I could rest my wobbly body. She may have been 80+ but at that point in time she was 100% healthier than me. Anyway, skipping to the end, I said my farewells and met my beloved on bus home. Felt AWFUL at this point and about 10mins from home I threw up over him several times. Lovely. Mixture of absolute horror, mortification, confusion and embarrassment all in matter of moments. He was totally understanding and reassuring and when I was safely ensconced at home I spent next few days getting more intimate with the sick bowl.
Horrible bug that lasted all week, shivers, sweats, sickness, dizziness were just a few of the happy symptoms.
The thing is, I KNEW it was coming. Obviously not to the projectile-vomitting-on-a-bus extent that it did, but I knew from day 1 I was going downhill.
It's shown me I can't ignore when my body is trying to tell me to slow down or give me a warning of what may be ahead. It knows best. I need to learn the language of my body, and right now I still require a translator. Anyone fluent in Colon?

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Be Present

This post calls for me to describe something I find peaceful, with as much imagery as possible. I've already cheated a bit by posting a picture but never mind. This peaceful place is the woodland at the back of my house. I live in a town but just on the outskirts, meaning I can escape to this oasis of calm in a matter of minutes. Instantly forgetting the hustle and bustle and wallowing in peace and quiet.
I love to go walks through here, it brings back memories of walks I used to go on with my dad and brother when I was young, learning all about the woodland flowers and beasties. (He wasn't big into flowers my Dad by the way, but Dad's just tend to know stuff you know?)
Anyway, I love this place mainly for the calm it inspires and for the sights, sounds and smells to delight in. That wonderful fresh smell of a woodland stream and the scents from the trees and plant-life who have set up home there. You just can't bottle it.
Running water has a weirdly hypnotic effect on me so I could sit and stare at a flowing stream for hours, just lost in thought. The idea of a place where the only sounds are that of your own footsteps and the chirp  of birds, is heavenly.
I  also absolutely love the fact that this beautiful haven is practically on my doorstep and can be visited anytime. I'm a woman of simple pleasures.. :)

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

LOL Post

Todays blog prompt is to write about something that has made me LOL. Straight away i must stress its not my choice to use 'LOL' - i really don't like LOL or OMG or any of that. Are you really 'laughing out loud' when i've told you what i've eaten for my breakfast? Is 'oh my god' really appropriate when commenting on the state of your bed head? No, didn't think so. So lets try and use the language we have been blessed with and stop shortening everything into little letters, half of which I rarely understand!
Anyway. I've found it difficult to choose one particular thing that makes me laugh - settling instead for talking about how much I love to have a chuckle and how amazing a little laughter is in life. I think a sense of humour is so very,very important. Its a lovely thing to make someone laugh and hear them struggle to control their facilities in the midst of an onslaught of comedy gold.
Laughing is proven to make you feel better - FACT. It releases all those happy hormones you find in a big bar of chocolate or when engaging in more x-rated activities. Laughter is a great way to lighten the mood or allow yourself to forget about an unhappy time, if only for a few minutes. I try to make light of most of the horrible situations i go through and try to spread a bit of that around my friends and family. I will never understand people who want to wallow in their own misery. Try a smile! Laugh a little! People will want to be around you!
I never was particularly popular at high school but not unpopular either - I was quiet and had a select few friends (notice I refrained from using BFF's there). If I got into a sticky or uncomfortable situation I tried to make the other person laugh - this has saved me from a lot in my time.
I like being silly. I love to see people fall over. I like when people make funny faces at me and I love doing silly voices. Essentially I am a child trapped in a 28 year old woman's body. This is not a bad thing, in fact I relish this fact - I hope that child never escapes (bit of a weird analogy I know but go with it). I hope i'm still howling with laughter when I see someone slide down a hill when i'm 80.
I think if I didn't have the ability to laugh at myself I would be really struggling right now. I would not be coping with having an incurable disease at all. But I am. I am constantly mocking my bad bowels and introducing others to my disease in a lighthearted way so as not to terrify them into submission - or worse, to see them pity me. My worst nightmare.
The worst part of recovery after my op was the inability to laugh without excruciating pain. Torture. My other half makes me laugh constantly. As do my friends, my brother and my parents. Especially my dad - the humour he finds in the most mudane things never fails to bring me utter joy. In fact, he is kind of my inspiration - he is in his 70's, still sharp as a tack and wittier than a witty thing covered in wit. When I achieve the great feat of making him laugh in return, I revert back to being a 5 year old and getting applauded for learning my ABC's.
So please, laugh regularly, and a lot and make other people laugh too. And if you don't know how, for free I will gladly come round and fall over or do an impression of Barry Gibb that will make you LOL PMSL and OMG.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Best Of Post

I've chosen to re-post this one as I would say it's one if, if not my favourite post so far. It's also my most viewed post of all time so it appears to be your favourite too dear reader!

I like this post as it's all about the most important people in my life and doesn't focus so much just on me and my disease, but on how it affects those around me. I'm very emotional and it makes me a bit melancholy (in a nice way) to read over it again. I think its also a nice way to get across how important support is when going through a crohnic illness. Important to know you are not alone.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Friday, 18 November 2011

A comment as a blog post..

Today's prompt post was to find a post or comment from someone else's blog that has inspired us. This post from a lovely blog called Everyday Wishes is short but very sweet.

Very inspiring as there are no grand gestures, no silly claims, just a simple idea that people should think a little more about how they behave around, and towards others. To have 'grace under pressure', which is something we all should try to have a little more of. x

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Let It Be

This post was to be written about something that bothers me. The truth is, since being diagnosed with Crohn's, and especially after having my operation, a LOT of things that used to wind me up something rotten just don't do it for me anymore. Little things used to make me so uptight and filled with frustration. Little things like people being rude, people abusing me over the phone at work, someone walking far too slow in a shopping centre.. No, sorry the last one still drives me temporarily insane.
I think having gone through a year or so of intense pain, illness and eventually recovering from an operation, I just don't feel the need to sweat the same small stuff anymore. This is a great positive to come from a crap situation. My outlook on life seems to have changed almost completely. It really is true that a traumatic event can help you put things in perspective, and I'm slowly coming to realise getting two yards in front of an old lady in the supermarket is really NOT that important. (although it is an absolute BONUS getting that discounted bit of steak first..;) )

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Little Engine Post

I think I can cope with whatever Crohns throws at me.
I think I can live my life to the full regardless of my disease.
I think I can learn to live with the fact this will not go away.
I think I can become more comfortable with my Crohn's body.
I think I can forget about my scar and flaunt it in a bikini.
I think I can read that last one over again without wincing..
I think I can become fluent in the language of my colon.
I think I can learn to accept people's attitudes towards my disease.
I think I can talk more about what I'm going through to those who want to hear.
I think I can be 100% frank and honest when dealing with doctors.

I know I can rely on my friends and family for warmth and support.
I know I can allow Crohn's to become a manageable part of my life.
I know I can forget about the past and focus on the future.
I know I can smile through the bad days and hope for more if the good.

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

This ones for you, baby.

This post requires me to dedicate a song to my condition. I've chosen 3 that could be related tenously to Crohn's..

The first is 'Under Pressure' by Bowie and Queen. I love Bowie and am a wee bit obssessed if im honest, but this always plays in my head when I think about my disease. Crohn's is worsened through stressful situations and pressure. I love the lyrics, they are slightly cryptic but and the song always seems like 5 in 1 the amount of different parts to it. I love it and Bowie in general always makes me feel a little bit brighter.

I love 'Painkiller' by turin Brakes too. Obviously the painkiller reference is one that goes hand in hand with Crohn's but the lyrics are very positive, all about leaving your worries behind and trying to enjoy life.

Final choice is Hot Chip 'I feel Better' - i love this song. It's really catchy and I love the lyrics, they make me think positive. I love the lines "Nothing is wasted and life is worth living" and "there is a day that is yours for embracing".
The video is also a wee bit nuts.

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Elevator Blog

So this post involves me describing my blog to someone I've just met in an elevator (or 'lift' if your from my neck of the woods). Giving 3 separate versions depending on length of time spent in the lift. If this situation were to occur in real life id no doubt go red in the face and look awkwardly at the floor while mumbling incoherently about my writing. But as I don't have to look any of you in the eyes I'll try to express myself as I'd like to be able to in the real world ;)

30second ride ;
'My blog is written in a diary form detailing my day to day life with Crohn's disease and how I cope (or don't cope) with it. I try to keep it as light hearted and humorous as I can, while also being open and honest about what I go through. I love writing and find it incredibly cathartic and relaxing, it really helps me being able to share my story with others'.

1 minute ride ;
'I write a blog about my adventures (and misadventures) with a condition called Crohn's Disease. It's an inflammatory disease of the bowels and intestines, and can be embarrassing and comfortable. I like to write in a comical style, in order to laugh at myself and my condition, whilst trying to make the reader feel comfortable. There are many symptoms and facets to Crohn's which many consider to be taboo, so I try to explain what I go through simply but without going into too much detail. That's easier said than done as the more comfortable and knowledgeable I become with my disease the easier I find these 'things' to talk about. I try to write openly and honestly about my experiences in the hope that others, namely my friends and family, and sufferers new to the disease will find it easier to get to grips with. I think it also helps people who know me well but don't really want to badger me constantly, to read what I go through day to day'.

2 minute ride ;
'My blog was started in February this year as a means of filling my days off work after work after an operation, and keeping my mind active, as it was starting to become diluted from too much daytime tv. I write about my trials and tribulations with Crohn's Disease, which is an inflammatory disease of the bowel and intestines. I've suffered from Crohn's 'officially' for just over a year but I reckon I've been experiencing symptoms since my teens. My blog is written in a similar style to a diary (without all the juicy bits) and details what I deal with due to Crohn's on a daily basis. I try to keep the posts fairly brief and humorous where possible and post between 3-5 posts a month. I aim to make light of the situation as it's one I'm struck with so might as well poke fun of it. Of course I do get very down at times and this gets documented too, I want to make it clear it's not all sweetness and light in my colon, but again I try to make sure the posts don't come across too depressing and retain a bit of 'me' I'm them. I'm very open about my body (perhaps too open) and my disease, in the hope this will encourage others to follow suit, or at least become more relaxed/comfortable in talking to me about my condition. Anyway, has that been two minutes?! This is a TALL building! Or maybe the lift is jammed? OH GOD I'm claustrophobic this CANNOT be happening!! HELP! HELP SOMEBODY HELP!' *faints*

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Friday, 11 November 2011

If It's Not Broke Don't Fix It

The main benefit I've found so far from getting involved in an online health community has been an endless font of experience and knowledge.
It's one thing chatting to doctors and nurses, surgeons and consultants but finding a community online is a wonderful way to gain information and an idea on what to expect from a condition from those already living with it.
I've been pleasantly surprised to see how open and brutally honest some people are about what they are going through, not afraid to lay out all their issues for the world to see. This is admirable as it allows others to gain knowledge of their condition and in some cases find reasons why they feel a certain way or what a certain symptom may mean. Obviously there's no substitute for medical knowledge when dealing with a health problem, but it's lovely to know there is a place outwith family and friends where someone out there is willing to listen and offer the support and advice only someone else with the same condition can.
I try my best to be as honest and open as I can in my blog, although I usually stop short of going into too much graphic detail. Some things I still find too uncomfortable to discuss right now, but who knows maybe that opinion will change later.
I hope the online health community continues to be a great and ongoing place of support and advice. Not necessarily a place where everybody knows your name, Cheers-style, but a nice place you can go pay a visit or stay and chat awhile. Everyone's welcome, and that's what makes it so special.

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

The Future of Online Activism

Social media is constantly evolving and becoming easier to use. More networks are opening up allowing more and more people to join online communities and seek support and gain information on a wide range of condition.
For me, suffering with Crohn's Disease, there are various organisations and social networking sites available both home and abroad, people can join to communicate with others. It's a wonderful thing when diagnosed with any medical condition to know you are not alone, and the level if support available is incredible. It can be very overwhelming in the early stages of a diagnosis to come to terms with the new life you have no choice but to lead, and these sites and organisations can offer advice and invaluable information required to set you on the right path.
I would hope for the future online 'activism' these organisations will continue to flourish and grow. They will gain new members and encourage others to contribute and get involved in more aspects of their output. I've loved being able to contribute towards other websites and add my thoughts to online discussions. These bring people together in a great way - information, opinions and personal experiences can be shared across the globe. This is very valuable outcome of online activism as it allows people to learn from people in the same position - people going through what you are going through. People who understand.
The more people who get involved the larger and more fruitful these online sites can become. One big happy diseased family!

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

My Personal Brand

This post calls for me to think about my 'brand' and how I 'look' to my readers. This is really something I've never given much thought to before. I'd like to think people who read my blog take from it that I try to keep a positive attitude towards my illness and that I like to laugh at the more ridiculous aspects of my life on a daily basis. I try to use humour (and probably more realistically, sarcasm) to convey my life with Crohn's and the experiences it has brought to my (normally empty) plate.
The feedback I've received since starting the blog has encouraged me I'm not too terrible a writer and it's rekindled the love of writing I had as a youngster. I loved my massive typewriter I received as a gift from my parents and spent many hours typing masterpieces in my room. My parents were not quite as enthused as me however, as my room was directly above the lounge therefore they could hear the thud of every letter being brutally punched onto the page. I enjoyed writing but could never seem to bring a story to a satisfactory conclusion, got bored halfway through. I suppose that's why I enjoy writing the blog so much, as no conclusion or 'The End' is needed. A little post a day keeps the doctor away. (I wish)
Anyway, I digress, I'd hope whoever reads my blog appreciates my honesty and openness about my disease. I try to explain what I'm going through as simply as possible, not as I think my readers have a lack of brain cells of course, but because medical jargon is another language to me and I like to see things as they are and read in a voice I can understand.
I hope people in the same position I was over a year ago can relate to my story and hopefully it doesn't scare them too much. Bottom line (pun intended) I like to think I'm a positive 'brand' and if my brand had to have a slogan it'd be 'I hope for hope' x

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

3 truths and 1 lie..

1. I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease just over a year ago.
2. I can speak Spanish.
3. I once broke my toe by dropping a table on it (by accident).
4. I can't click my fingers :(

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Monday, 7 November 2011

Case of the Monday's

Having Crohn's does get me down at times. I've written about this before and to what extent the symptoms can at times get the better of me. It's very hard to shake that off sometimes, depends a lot on my mood, state of mind and other external factors when Crohn's decides to strike.
I'd say the pain of Crohn's in the midst of a flare-up is very difficult to cope with. Even after firing multiple painkillers down my gullet, it still generally feels as though the pain just will not quit, and all I can see is a lifetime spent in bed, or worse, another rush admission to hospital to go through all this one more time. All sounds very dramatic, but it's hard to explain how intense that feeling of depression and sadness (and fear) can be until you are in the middle of it. It's very, very important to remember that the pain WILL pass and it WILL get better - although those kind of cliches can really get my goat right and would probably garner a feeble fist to the jaw in the midst of a flare-up.
However, as this post was a metaphor for a bad day (being a Monday), the way I look towards Tuesday is simply by remembering that I have no choice! Life, and more importantly in my case, MY life goes on. I am incredibly lucky to be doing so well and I know it could be a lot worse. I am 100% aware that everyday I am well is precious and I have to do my best to cherish them as there are too many of the bad.
I live to fist-punch jaws another day, and who wouldn't be delighted to face another day with that in mind? POW!

This post is written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Sunday, 6 November 2011

If I could do anything as a Health Activist..

The phrase 'Health Activist' is a strange one for me. I like it, I just don't think it's something I could by any manner of means be described as right now. I have an illness and I like to blog about it. I like to hear responses from people going through the same/similar things, and I love that it's helped my friends and family to understand the intricacies of the disease which I've struggled to get across previously using only my voice as an instrument. Having another 'voice' in the blog has been, and still is, an amazing outlet for me and has encouraged me to become more open and honest about how I'm feeling.
So what does all this mean in terms of what I can do to help others? Well obviously if money was no object I'd be ploughing every penny I had into trying to find a cure for Crohn's Disease. As it stands there is none (cure nor available pennies :( ) and the varied treatments available rarely work long-term and most come with highly unpleasant side effects. Crohn's is not alone in it's complications too, as the disease lowers your immune system, it makes it much harder for your body to fight normally silly little things like colds and achy bones, and the long term affects on the body are not worth going into right now.
So as the whole 'cure' idea is unfortunately pie in the sky material I like to think what I can do in my own little corner of the world to help others in the same Crohn's filled boat as myself. How this could manifest itself I'm not sure - the blog is a great way to reach a worldwide audience with my story but what about those who are not yet computer literate? (my parents for example) - how to express to them what I'm going through? Talking is a start and something I've had to learn to do more of in order to get across the full extent of my symptoms. As my consultant has often said (shouted) "TALK TO ME KATHLEEN!" - her advice is pretty rock solid, how can she begin to help me when I hold things back and underplay my symptoms?
So the best help I could be right now is to plug on with the blog and continue to try and encourage others to speak up about what they are going through. As the man with the white glove once said, You are not alone.
Nothing too grand there unfortunately, but I'm still dealing with this slowly but surely myself - the miracle-cure-finding will come soon I'm sure ;)

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Saturday, 5 November 2011

5 things (well 3..) that changed my Life

I'm cheating a bit here with this post as I'm in my sickbed and shattered and have already written too much for the first 3. Forgive me and my fuzzy head if this is all a jumble of emotions :)

1. Being diagnosed with Crohn's.
Obviously this badboy has to be top of my list (for now anyway) as i'd say getting this disease has been the biggest 'life-changer' for me so far. I was devastated when I found out this disease is for life, felt like I'd been handed a life-sentence. Suppose I have really, without the bars and the lack of decent toilet facilities. I'm still not sure I've accepted the 'life-long' aspect, only a year later, that will come eventually I'm sure but I'm still definitely not quite there yet.
However, being diagnosed with Crohn's changed my life for other reasons too. It's made me realise why I've had these problems pretty much my entire life, and that it wasn't my imagination, something WAS wrong and still us. It was such a weight lifted in a strange way to finally have an explanation for my symptoms and although I was saddened it's not something that will ever be easily resolved, it was a relief nevertheless to know exactly what I was dealing with.
Being lumped with a life-long illness has also made it clear who are true friends and who will stick by me through thick and thin (I've been both..) - invaluable information for life.

2. Having my Operation.
I am well aware just how lucky I am to have been granted an operation so early in my Crohn's 'career'. When the pain was at its worst I met with a male surgeon who reduced me to tears by telling me i'd have a colostomy "for life" and I had so many more treatments to go through before I even "stood a chance" of having the surgery I so badly needed.
I was completely physically and mentally broken by this point and this just came as yet another major set back and straight up kick to the colon. My amazing consultant was enraged by this tete a tete and rushed through a surgical meeting where she explained my mental and physical health until they signed on the dotted line. I am eternally grateful for this. And she knows it.
After my op, the surgeon told me I had the worst case of Crohn's she had seen and I would've been hospitalised in a matter of weeks had I gone on as I had been. The pain id been going through was unbearable and the change after a few hours on the operating table has been unbelievable.

3. Meeting 'him indoors'
I met my beloved many years ago when we worked together in a restaurant. We became friends not too long before we eventually became a couple. The transition from mates to 'mates' seems pretty seamless in my memory but if I linger on it too long I remember it really wasn't that straightforward. Irrespective of our beginnings we are now sharing a home with a cat over 6years later. And no it's been far from plain sailing but who's relationship is? Im still stupidly smitten as is he. Well I don't want to speak for him but he says he is and I'm pretty awesome so all the evidence is there..
The reason I say he has changed my life is mainly down to the happiness he has brought into it. I was far from a misery-guts before him, but I didn't quite realise how happy another human could make me. He makes me want to be the best I can, for me and for 'us' and the fact that I've brought Crohn's into the relationship is just, as he says, something we will have to deal with.
I'm well aware it's not the end of the world to be alone, and if the worst happened I know I'd survive (almost straying into Gloria Gaynor territory there..) but the pleasure of coming home too, and building a life with someone you love is a pleasure and a privilege too addictive to give up. Besides, his cooking is far too good for me (and my Crohn's) x

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Friday, 4 November 2011

What happens when you press "Publish"

I love blogging. It was my younger brothers idea I start the blog. He suggested it would be a good way to keep my mind active and off-load after my operation in Jan this year. I had 4 long months watching daytime tv ahead of me, so anything to keep me from becoming a gibbering fool seemed a great prospect. I wrote my 1st post in Feb and only my family and a few friends had read it. They gave me great feedback so I gained the confidence after writing a few more, to post to a wider audience. I posted the links to my posts on Facebook and Twitter then later set up my own Facebook page specifically for the blog. ('Crohnological Order' thanks for asking ;) ) 
When more and more people began to read my posts I was thrilled! I've yet to receive any negative feedback (although I reckon people are just too polite) and I've met some great people online who have become friends now not just readers. 
I am a bit of a spelling obsessive so I hate myself intensely when I spot a mistake after I've published a post. If I didn't have an arthritic leg I'd be kicking it constantly. I'm often too over-excited to share my post with the world that I don't read it over again. School-girl error. 
 I started with a couple of views a day and now people from over 30countries read my blog and I usually get between 40-100 views per day. Very exciting to me in my little part of the world. 
It's genuinely enjoyable for me writing the blog and thrilling when I receive feedback or am contacted by a reader. So I'll keep writing as I've a lifetime of Crohn's tales still to come. 

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Dear 18year old Me

As I am currently 28 - writing a letter to 18year old me will take me back a decade. Terrifying to think I've been on the planet for that long in the first place..

Dear Kathleen (aged 18),

Hello. I can guess straight away you'll be annoyed at the opening line of this letter as I've called you 'Kathleen' and right now I know you are too cool for school and have taken on 'Kath' as your new moniker. It will stick and most of your friends will refer to you this way from then on, so there you go smarty-pants.
Already arguing with my 18yr old self. Typical. You are very like your mother right now and are probably in the midst of an argument with her as we speak. She infuriates you so much at times but I know you hate arguing with each other and it upsets you so much you really should just be the bigger person and apologise. (yes, even if it's not your fault). Believe me it's not worth it and you will come to regret every harsh word spoken in haste later.
There is a lot going on in your life right now, you are in the first flush of a new relationship infact, and a bit giddy with it all, but be careful and reign that in, as there will be heartache ahead. (sorry about that).
Don't worry, you will be sad, but it'll be followed with absolute joy and love beyond compare! Trust me on that. He's awesome. (and you just get soppier as the years go on).
I know you think in 10years time your life will be sorted. You'll be married probably with your dream job and maybe a little one on the way. Hmm. Well I'll not give it all away but there are a few changes of opinion you will have later on those, but I won't spoil that for you now.
There are also some very scary times ahead. You will become very ill and develop something horrible called Crohn's Disease. It's a long and arduous process trying to establish what you've got but you will get there. (That's right, you know all those 'other' problems you have - that's what it's been all along! Weird eh?) So you will get that sorted and start to learn to live with it. I know that may be something you will want to weep and wail about and give it the full drama queen hysterics, but you'll be cool as a Crohn's cucumber later believe me. You will cope with it because you have to.
You know how you often feel that you won't ever make Mum and Dad proud of you? Well you do. You'll realise that they always have been and always will be - it really doesn't matter what career path you choose or whether you are the next Picasso, as they love you with a ferocity that knows no bounds.
So a lot to fit in, in the next decade, but it's a good one, filled with heartache and love, sadness, happiness, excitement (and one horrifying night in the pub after thinking you could polish off every drink on the bar) -infact, that might have already happened.. Is that why you've fallen out with mum? You DEFINITELY need to apologise for that one.

Anyway, heres to the next 10years together. You feel weak right now but you are stronger than you think and don't forget it.

Love and Nutella,
Kath (aged 28) x x

This post was written as part of NHBPM - 30 health posts in 30 days

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

My TV Show - You Got Crohned!

This post requires me to come up with a TV show based around my blog. As my blog is purely about me and my adventures with Crohn's, my idea for a tv show would be based around the initial diagnosis of Crohns Disease and would be crudely titled "You got Crohned!"
The game show would be handily set in a hospital and would consist of a series of tests being carried out to establish a diagnosis of Crohn's disease (or not as the case may be).
In my personal experience, and of many other Crohn's patients I've conversed with, reaching a diagnosis of the disease is normally a very long and arduous process. Can be incredibly distressing and stressful, and usually requires many visits to and from doctors and hospitals before finally reaching a conclusion. Then the fun can really start when your treatment begins.. This way we cut short the waiting and worrying and skip straight to the diagnosis.
My idea consists of a hospital, a patient suffering with possible Crohn's symptoms and a team of medical professionals on hand.
The show will begin with a brief introduction to our patient (contestant), including a potted medical history.
We then begin a series of tests required to rule out any other possible illnesses - the patient will be whizzed through MRI scans, CT scans, given blood tests, a colonoscopy and anything else required to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Of course I'm not a monster, these tests will be spread over 2-3 days, endurance is the key, if you can't take the poking and prodding get out of the hospital!
The cameras will follow the contestant everywhere and the more x-rated scenes will of course be edited for a younger audience. (We want this to be enjoyed by the whole family!)
When an eventual diagnosis is reached the camera will zoom in on the contestants face to capture their reaction as he/she hears his/her fate. A magical moment. See the ratings soar!
When the contestant has been advised it is indeed Crohn's they will be handed their prizes, am immediate consultation with a doctor who will discuss best form of treatment and a Crohnie-goodie-bag. This will include wet wipes, a years supply of toilet roll, Vaseline, painkillers, a variety of soups, milkshakes, and of course not forgetting the star prize, a gold plated self-cleaning toilet!
The episode, having been already edited into a manageable half hour, will see the credits roll over images of said contestant being wheeled to the hospital car park to make his/her journey home to the cheers of an adoring crowd.
I know, I'm an absolute genius. Perfect.
Any television production companies feel free to contact me anytime, I'll be awaiting the call!

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

30 posts in 30 days - Titles of my Future Book

Hello again Dear Reader!

I am taking part in WEGO Health’s National Blog Post Month (30posts in 30days). I am only allowed 2 ‘get out of post free days’ and receive prompts on each days post. So here is numero uno. Only another 29 to go!

Titles of my Future Book

This post is particularly interesting to me as writing a book is an idea I think about quite frequently. Several friends and family members tell me regularly they think I have a nice touch when it comes to writing and would love me to write more. But I don’t have the confidence. Plus I feel I am too early in living with my condition to pass on enough experience or don’t have enough knowledge to impart. So maybe later. I do absolutely love the idea that people may enjoy reading my witterings and even garner something from it.
But as I have to come up with book titles for the purposes of this post, here are some at the forefront of my mind, and some I prepared (used) earlier..

‘The Crohnicles’ – [ok so this was actually my Dad’s idea, and as we all know Dad’s, (after Mum’s obviously) are always right]
‘Queen of The Crohn Age ‘
‘The Crohn Ranger’
‘For your Eyes Crohnly’
‘The Philosophers Crohn’

My personal favourite is the last one but I think these may possibly be subject to copyright..
I do love a pun and ‘Crohn’s’ is a surprisingly good word for twisting into humorous titles. I’ve made the most of this discovery throughout my blog.
This post also requires me to write a brief synopsis for my ‘book’ (which is actually MUCH harder than I thought it would be) but here goes..

‘I suffer from Crohn’s Disease, a crohnic inflammatory disease of the bowel and intestines. I hope to entertain and educate you over the next [insert number here] pages with my health related rambles. I’ll take you on a magical trip around my colon. And if you plan to read further than this, my bowels applaud you in advance.’

This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Crohny, Crohny, Nights

I'm feeling rotten tonight.
Writing this blog usually helps with those feelings of rotten-ness so I thought I would give it a bash tonight when my rotten-ness is at it's peak.
I apologise in advance if this post is depressing and I'll allow you all a few minutes to prepare yourselves a noose.
Lots of abdominal pain last night and this morning. I've an achy head, i'm dizzy and my arthritis is playing up so my feet and legs are killing me.
Constant pulsing in my muscles and I can hardly keep my eyes open, seem to always be shattered. Plus I'm bloated to the size of Jabba the Hut. (That is the fat one from Star Wars? Star Trek? Stars in their Eyes? one of those shows right?)
It's not so much those symptoms or the pain that are getting to me, I'm used to this most days, it's more the gradual realisation of the limitations I'm starting to feel having a chronic illness puts on my life.
I'm not even talking about major life changing events here, or my Crohns stopping me from swimming the Channel or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro (neither of which I have any inclination or desire to do). It's more a gradual build up of tiny annoyances that chip away at me until I sink into the blues.
For example, here's how petty my Crohn's peeves have been today. I have arthritis, mainly in my left knee - this means when it's particularly bad its painful to walk on and I can barely bend my knee. I was furious with myself this morning at not being able to sit cross legged on the bus like I 'normally do' - normal being before Crohn's. I got to work and was so uncomfortable at my desk due to being a big fat bloater who'd chosen to wear those most impractical of garments, the skinny Jean. Again kicking myself (not literally obviously, knees too bloody sore for that) that I'd worn them when I should've known better.
Visit to my mum and dads after where my dad always takes joy in making his only daughter a wee bacon roll on arrival. Couldn't eat the damn thing without giving it big licks on the 'ouch' front every-time I tried. Kicking myself this time (again not literally, I really should hire some sort of Kick-Bot to take care of these kicks..) for making my Pa feel bad and for not being able to consume a simple bap on pig without issues.
My mum spent a chunk of the day telling me she admires me so much for the way I'm handling my illness. Really I want to say, at times I'm clearly not handling it at all!!
Then we had a wander around the shops where I felt dizzy and my legs ached. Feeling frustrated again that it's a case of my 65 year old mum asking ME if SHE is walking too fast for me. Makes me feel such a weakling, and in no way is that my mums doing, it's purely this wave that passes over me from time to time and is hard to shake.
It's so difficult to keep up this facade of everything being fine, not with my nearest and dearest as they know only too well how I truly feel, but with people on the outside of my intimate circle (steady..)
It's still very early days for me Crohns-wise and I still need to try and allow myself time to adapt to my new body. Just gutting when that realisation seems to punch me in the guts again and again.
Even midway through writing this I started blubbing and had to have a heart to heart with my beloved.
That crying has now given me a beast of a head ache so I'm retiring to the boudoir before I use this as another excuse to hire my Kick-Bot to administer a sharp boot to my shins.
K x

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Lets Talk About Crohns Baby

A couple of weeks ago I received a lovely e-mail from a young woman who also has Crohn's and reads my blog. (I hope you are reading this!) She commented that reading my story has made it easier for her to cope, and how nice it is to hear someone being honest about the disease. Apart from making me a wee bit emotional, this got me thinking as to why Crohn's, and bowel diseases in general are considered such a taboo subject? Why, in 2011 are many of us still uncomfortable discussing our rear-ends and what goes on back there?
Its very sad and depressing, as the truth is, there are many more people than you think with this disease. Infact you could be sitting next to someone with Crohn's right now, whilst you read this! OMG locate a wire brush and some Dettol quicksmart! You might catch something! This type of ignorance reminds me of my primary school days when we heard on the school grapevine that Queen legend Freddie Mercury had Aids. The word quickly spread that you were not to use the same toilet seat as someone "like him" (i.e homosexual) as you would "catch Aids", and heaven forbid actually having a smooch with one! Even at that tender age I remember thinking WTF? Before WTF was even in my vocabulary.
Again, in search of knowledge I went to the font of Crohn's knowledge that is my Twitter feed and asked my fellow Crohnies what misconceptions they have come across being Crohns sufferers. The responses were amazing, some made me laugh at the sheer ignorance of people and the things they come out with regardless of the other persons feelings. Most just made me angry, the venom in some people regarding the disease can be staggering. One of the most common replies related to peoples reactions when discussing Crohn's. Surprisingly, similar stories came up, mainly relating to family members and friends either flat out denying their is a problem or completely underestimating the seriousness of the disease. Crohn's can kill. This is unfortunately a fact. Not in an agressive 'you have 6weeks to live' type way, but there are countless complications and health problems related to and caused or exacerbated by Crohn's that in extreme cases it can lead to the pearly gates. This is not something I like to dwell on, mainly because its bloody terrifying, but also because it's hard enough trying to live with Crohn's on a daily basis without the cloud of a soiree with G.Almighty hanging over you.
This may go some way to explaining my rage at people writing Crohn's off as "just a stomach ache", "just a bit of cramp" , "just a little tummy pain". Let me tell you now, I have never experienced pain like I do with a flare-up. Pain that is so relentless and unforgiving that you start to go a wee bit mental and would gladly place a gun in your mouth to take your mind (and head) off it. Easy to say as there is no way to describe pain to someone on the outside of your Crohn's bubble. Unless you use the fail-safe NHS describe your pain between 1-10 method, '10, always a 10!'
Other common complaints that arose from my question were related to toilet-times. Many have been told what people assume they can and cant eat and others that they must be at the toilet all the time. Or worse that you must have 'accidents' regularly. I am a 28 year old woman, I havent had an 'accident' since I was a bambino, and even then im sure I was probably mortified about it..
I do occasionaly have an urgency to go the loo and do occasionaly spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom. (We have a book shelf in there..) It really is rubbish enough having Crohn's without people making yukky assumptions about what goes on down there.
A lot of people also dont appreciate the other symptoms of the disease, the sickness, aching bones, tiredness and issues with food. Many jump to the conclusion of anorexia and eating disorders, not realising its not that we dont want to eat, sometimes its just really, really sore when we do.
What I would like is simple. If you are a nice person and you have semblance of interest in my disease (and or rear-end) then just ask! As many questions as you like. Dont assume you know all about it (when it comes to my backside you certainly dont) and dont expect me not to want to talk about it. I dont want you to pity me as there is nothing to pity, im still me, just a bit more diseased than I was! Im not embarrased about it as its happening to me, and if you are then thats fine, lets not go there.
That really is the BOTTOM line.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Crohnly Just

Crohn's Disease is a 'crohnic' condition which means at times it can be very difficult to live with.
Crohn's is not caused by stress, but emotional stress can influence the course of the disease and exacerbate the symptoms.
In my experience, stresses relating to family, friends and relationships are the main causes of a flare-up. As Crohn's is so unpredictable, this is not always the trigger, but it certainly helps to give me that extra wee kick in the guts im always so grateful for.
When im worried or upset, it's almost instantaneous the way my stomach echoes my mood. From intense pain to spending more than my fair share of me-time with the toilet, stress is usually the main catalyst. Of course the stresses of the disease itself are bad enough - painful and often embarrasing symptoms can cause worry and discomfort all of their own, leading to a vicious crohnsy-stressy-circle which is hard to break free from. God knows, God knows I want to break free ;)
So, in order to try and minimise stress in my day to day life, i've been researching the apparently most effective means of reducing stress. I now hold the keys to a stress free existence, and if you too would like a slice of this stress-free pie, read on.

1. Spend Time With Friends
Laughter is allegedly the 'best medicine' - although im sure after years of university, medical school and time spent on hospital wards, doctors may disagree. It is however, proven that spending time with people whom we love and enjoy being around makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside (I think thats the medical term), therefore causing relaxation and minimising stress. During stressful situations, our immune system gets depleted and making time to relax with friends can boost this back to full capacity.
2. Avoid Unnecessary Conflict
I am not an argumentative person, in fact I hate arguing. It causes me nothing but grief. I know people who relish a good argument and purposely wind people up in order to get into one. This is not my idea of a good time. Being argumentative, in most cases, causes stress for both parties. It should really be a case of trying to look at the situation objectively to decide if its really worth the stress. Look for a solution rather than continually beat each other over the head with the same points.
3. Realise Your Own Limitations
Lots of stress is caused when we try to take on too much. Work, responsibilities, and making time for family and friends can get on top of everyone. We often end up doing more than we really should, especially if you are a martyr like me who will spend an entire day off washing, cleaning, sweeping, mopping and scrubbing then complain she's not being taken away to the ball at night in a giant pumpkin :(
I've had to learn to just say no - difficult as I hate letting people down, upsetting or offending anyone but a little bit of assertiveness goes a long way.
4. Time Management
Trying to prioritise your day helps reduce stress. Make sure you do the most important jobs first (usually the least pleasant ones), the unimportant jobs will always wait. Try not to put off the un-pleasant tasks - even thinking about these, and your lack of backbone in putting them off will cause stress to creep in.
5. Look At Things Differently
When things are bothering you the most stressful thing you can do is dwell on the problem. Try to see things in a different light where possible. If the problem is light, try using energy savings bulbs or candles. Talking things over with someone impartial helps to get another perspective and can stop things getting blown out of all proportion. People not directly involved in a stressful situation can see things as they are without the emotion clouding their view. Or the smoke from those candles.

Other good relaxation techniques include engaging in physical activity (calm it) - any type of exercise works off the biochemical changes that can occur when you are stressed. Breathing exercises and massage are also good to help your body return to its normal healthy state.
So there you have it, follow these simple rules and stress will be a thing of the past. As long as you dont dwell on the past then you've just added another thing to dwell on. Sorry about that.
In my excitement to help you all lead stress free lives i've neglected to have any dinner, so clearly following my own advice and prioritising my time and putting the most important jobs first there.
You are welcome. And relaaax.