Saturday, 28 May 2011

Crohn Idle

Slowly but surely getting used to being back at work again. This getting up at 7a.m and only having two (TWO?!) days off a week caper has been a shock to my delicate system. 
It's been great to feel useful again and have the chance to converse with someone other than the cat. He's wonderful but sometimes I just don't think he contributes enough to the conversation. :(
My job is certainly not rocket science but I have been surprised that it's not been as easy as I had thought it might be to just slither back into my seat like i'd never left. I'm pretty rusty and that's kind of knocked my confidence a bit. I know it will take time but I start to get irritated with myself then feel like a failure! Which helps no one. I'm so keen to get back to Kathleen BC (Before Crohn's) and I need to accept is not going to happen and allow myself to adapt.
Most of my colleagues know all about Mr Crohn's and how well he and I have become acquainted in the last year. Although unless you know someone with the disease or are unfortunate enough to suffer from it yourself, people are often oblivious to the ins and (more specifically) outs of it. Hence why the lady discussing any adjustments I might need now i'm back advised me that now i'm "better" nothing further will be required. Then followed an embarrassing conversation where I was made to feel pretty much like I was 'bigging up' what's wrong with me. 
Her other helpful suggestion was to move me away from the friends i've worked with for the last 4 years and sit me at a desk by the toilet. Thanks. I've always wanted to feel like the office freak, perched vicariously on my seat just in case I have to run like the wind (pardon the pun) to the toilet at any given moment. Why not just put a phone in the toilet cubicle with me and leave me to it? Or just adapt my seat to make it into some sort of flush-able bidet so I never have to leave my desk at all? 
Sarcasm aside, things are generally going well. It's lovely to feel like I have a purpose and obviously starting to earn a proper wage again doesn't go amiss!
But for now it's the weekend and i'll slip into my more comfortable role of duvet, biscuits and daytime tv. A role I EXCEL in. 

Friday, 20 May 2011

A Rolling Crohn Gathers No Moss..

I have officially re-entered the world of work again as of Tuesday, after almost 4 months of sick-leave. Must admit going back was pretty nerve-wracking to say the least. Although I did get a very nice doorstep welcome from a select few lovely colleagues :)
It wasn't so much that I was worried about my lack of ability or that I had forgotten every last thing i've learned in the past 4 years (although both of those things entered my head). It was more the fact that although I now feel A LOT better than I did a mere 4 months ago, i'm still not "better" and things may still go sour, causing me to come out of remission at anytime. 
Up until the end of January when I had my operation, I was dreading work EVERYDAY. Although my shift started at 10am, I was up and about (or lying in bed staring at the ceiling) between 3 and 4am as the pain in my stomach or urgency to get up close and personal with the bathroom porcelain was so overwhelming I had little to no chance of catching some zzz's. Getting up absolutely shattered = instant bad mood, not helped by having to ensure I had a spare couple of hours left over before I left to be spent either on the toilet or head first in it giving it the old heave ho.  
Even the bus journey was horrible - I'd be constantly panicking i'd need the loo or that I was about to throw up. The majority of the time I'd be having a flush so hot you could fry an egg on me or feel I was going to do a Tinie Tempah and pass out. 
It was impossible to know what to do for the best; if I had a bite of breakfast I was in agony all day and if I decided to take a risk and skip it I was faint and woozy instead.
So that was getting to work, I then had to plaster on a smile and pretend everything was hunky dory for fear my bosses thought it was more beneficial to introduce me to my P45. 
In the last few months before my surgery I now realise I was very ill. I dropped down to almost 3 stone below my normal weight, clothes hung on me like rags, the black bags under my eyes could've easily held a months shopping, my hair was falling out, I had zero energy and struggled to eat so much as a biscuit without having stomach pain for dessert. 
All horrible memories I know, but worth remembering as it shows how far I have come. I am still in occasional pain, depending on what or how much I eat, I still have the odd dizzy spell and hot flush, only now they are about a 'Jalfrezi' on the hot scale. 
So in conclusion I was worried about returning to work for every reason listed in the previous few sentences. It all might kick off big time again without any real warning and i'll be worrying about my job yet again. The advantage I have this time however is that i know what to expect and how to explain what's happening to my body rather than blubbing in pain like a gibbering wreck. I'm grateful for everyday i'm not in pain and everyday I have a job. 
Roll on Monday morning! 

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Apparently, having Crohn's can in some cases, lead to a problematic pregnancy. It's said that some medications used to help ease Crohn's can cause adverse outcomes for the fetus or the mother. For males with the disease, medication can occasionally impact sperm count or affect a man's ability to conceive. 
Now I am not writing this post as a sly (and cruel) way to reveal to the world I have a little crohn's filled bun baking in the oven, purely because it got me thinking. 
I've never been particularly maternal. Perhaps thats because I have 'big sister syndrome' - I grew up with a little brother who aggravated me senseless and whom I annoyingly adored in equal measure. Perhaps its because between my partner and I we have a combined total of 6 nieces and nephews from whom I can get my fix of Aunty-time then gratefully hand them back to their much more capable parents. Or perhaps it's because the thought of giving up the majority of the rest of my life to care for one little person terrifies me a bit. Not just the overwhelming responsibility but the fact he or she would take over our lives completely, and I feel i'd like my freedom a little bit longer..
When I was in hospital recently, several nurses and fellow patients enquired if I had children of my own. To which I replied in most cases, "No. Not yet!" - Why did I say that when I have little to no intention of having a baby? Correct at the back - The reason being is if I tell anyone (especially ladies with babies) I don't actually want to extend my species I am looked at as if I am from another planet. The startled look is always closely followed by The Advice. The Advice generally consists of "When the time comes you'll know", "Maybe your not ready", "When you meet the right man", "You'll see" and my personal favourite, a simple "Aww" combined with a patronising look.
Who knows, maybe one day the little cuckoo in my biological clock will spring into life and the urge will arrive for me to produce a mini-me. 
But for now i'll continue to uncomfortably attempt to justify myself to strangers and enjoy playing mum to the coolest little cat in town. Who, coming to think about it, could probably take that cuckoo...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Lazy Crohn's

Without a hint of suggestion or prompting I am rapidly turning into a housewife. (Without I should mention, the added bonus of a sparkler on my ring finger). 
With my time off from work coming to an end, i've noticed more and more how much pleasure i've been garnering from cleaning, cooking, washing, ironing, applying bleach wherever necessary, amongst others. I've been giving myself mental 'gold stars' for making sure J's work uniform is freshly washed and pressed and his lunches are prepared for the next day. (He is in fact, over 30 and more than capable of doing all this by himself but think he is probably humoring me).
I suppose there is actually nothing wrong with this behaviour. After all, its good to take pride in one's home and to look after your partner... nope, I cant help picturing myself in an apron and heels looking like a Stepford Wife when I say that.
Now that I am almost back to full capacity health-wise, I have renewed energy and feel I should be using it constructively. Cleaning the house from top to bottom seems logical to me. It also helps to occupy my mind and keeps me from worrying too much about money, work, family and the agonizing toothache i've had all week. 
On the subject of that offending tooth, it was finally removed on Friday. Think I would have had to attempt a DIY extraction had I endured that pain over the whole weekend. The final straw came when I actually heard myself utter the words "I just feel so sorry for myself" - Pathetic with a capital Pah. 
Anyways, now the tooth has been dealt with and my Crohn's seems to be under control (for now), i'll look forward to getting back to work next week. I can go back to living in squalor again; leaving dishes piled up in the sink, clothes unwashed, food rotting in the fridge and crumbs all over the carpet.
Only joking. As if!
The rats will get the crumbs.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

You Crohnly Live Once

There are many common misconceptions about Crohn's Disease.
As it is known (within the Crohn's community anyway) that flare-up's can be brought on by stress, many people think it's just a case of 'have a few deep breaths, calm down and you'll be fine', or, 'use a bit of willpower and you'll be fine'. Now the more perceptive of you may have noticed that 100% of those two (unhelpful) examples of advice end in 'you'll be fine'.
It's vaguely understandable, as most people don't want to think of others, in particular those they care for, being ill. Especially when the problem is something not easily fixable. I was brought up in a household where the sympathy window was limited and it was generally followed with 'you have a headache? Take a painkiller. Better? good. now never speak of this again'.
Don't get me wrong, my parents are wonderful and I adore them. However they tend to favour the idea of a 'quick fix' and it took me a long time to bring them round to the fact that there is no fix, quick or otherwise, for what I have.
Lets face it, generally not many people in our society are keen to discuss digestive health, and probably more so than others in my family home. I've had to learn to accept my illness and become more open in talking about things that i've been brought up to believe I should be cringing at the thought of. I'd still say i'm not entirely comfortable in discussing, the more, shall we say, intimate details of Crohn's but the more knowledgeable I am about my own body the more confident I will become in talking to others about my disease.
Another common misconception about Crohn's, is that finding out what foods cause the pain and simply cutting them out of your diet will mean you guessed it.. Fine. The truth is, certain foods affect people in different ways and they can only give the symptoms, they don't cause the disease in the first place. So it's probably more sensible to try to eat regularly and not in huge doses.
As very little is known about the disease, it's difficult (and done at your own risk) researching it. Health websites occasionally contain nuggets of useful information, but are generally like multiple choice quizzes where every answer is Cancer. My advice is radical but I hope you will get on board with it...TALK TO A DOCTOR. Or at the very least a fellow Crohn's sufferer who can provide you with constructive accounts rather than scaremongering.
Now i'm off to take a few deep breaths, throw all my food out and calm down. I'll be fine.