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.