I’m going to warn that this post is tots TMI! If you are interested in (or have) UC or Crohn’s it is designed to inform and (hopefully) to make you laugh. If not, you might want to stay away.
Canada has the highest rate of IBD in the world (1 in 150 people rather than the world average of 1 in 350) so the chances are, if you’re a Canadian, you know someone who deals with this disease.
I have Ulcerative Colitis.
Typically my life is pretty normal. My average, non-flare, symptoms will usually include fatigue, arthralgia and headaches. This is on a daily basis but I’ve learned to adjust and so it’s not much of a bother. I live my life pretty simply, cater to the fatigue as much as I can and I tend to be okay.
I think the biggest impact that my disease has had is on my self-esteem. It’s hard to feel sexy or attractive when, at times, your life revolves around the bathroom. It’s really embarrassing to tell people about this disease. As I get older it gets easier because I’m less embarrassed by it – it’s just my life.
At other times I “flare”. I can usually tell that a flare is coming when I start to get unexplained fevers (mild but they make me feel gross and sweaty), when the arthralgia gets worse, when the fatigue begins to impact day-to-day functioning, when I start to feel non-stop nausea (sometimes I suspect that a UC flare is very similar to the early stages of pregnancy).
All of these symptoms start before my guts start to lose their mind, freak out, and attack my body with a vigor.
Then my guts will get involved and all bets are off. Who knows how I will feel tomorrow, today, in 5 minutes.
Seriously annoying. And Painful.
I had started a minor flare a few weeks ago, did a 3-day juice fast, my typical first line of defense, and thought that I got it under control.
I was wrong.
I’m just going into the second day of a flare. The kind of flare where I can tell I’ll be scared to eat for awhile.
The funniest part of this disease is the level to which the foods that make you sick are random. People always ask “will this make you sick? this?” and while I love their intentions and I wish I could reassure them… I can’t.
The first time I got sick (really sick) I couldn’t eat chicken or bell peppers. Even the smell of them would send me running for the bathroom. That summer I lived on nectarines. Bags and bags of nectarines. They were literally the only thing that made me feel okay. (I look back now and think that this is amazing because it’s been about a decade since I could eat raw fruit and veggies without immediate and dire consequences, flare or not).
A couple of years ago I spent an entire month living on Itchiban Noodles which were only okay if they were cooked in the sodium-laced broth, the broth was then dumped out and the noodles were consumed on their own.
A few months ago it was the Homestyle Chicken Breast Sandwich from Wendy’s. Hold the mayo, tomato and lettuce. And sometimes the bun.
The more processed and terrible a food is the more likely it will agree with me. My theory on this is that these foods have so few nutrients and fiber they are practically predigested. Therefore my body doesn’t go crazy trying to deal with them.
Last night I put steel cut oats into the slow cooker with almond milk and cooked them overnight. I had one tablespoon at 6 am to see how I would react. I was sick for 2 hours.
One. Tablespoon. Two. Hours.
This disease is a bit ridiculous. It’s kind of funny. And let’s be clear. I am so so so lucky. I have never landed in the hospital. I got the disease at 18 and so didn’t have to deal with the embarrassment and disruptions that this would have caused to my teenage (or younger) self. I have family members whose experiences with IBD have been much much worse. If my UC ever got that bad they would remove my colon and I would no longer have the disease. While this horrifies and terrifies me and I’m going to have to get a lot older and more mature to think that I’d want to live life without my colon… It’s an option. People with Crohn’s do not have this option of escape. My UC is mild and it really doesn’t impact my world to that huge an extent.
My disease is an irritation and one that I’m now often able to laugh at.
So, I’m at the start of a flare and I plan to start the search today for a food that shall make my guts happy (or at least not violently angry) for the next few weeks.
FYI: last night I tried the Wendy’s chicken burger in desperation and I can say with absolute certainty that that won’t be the solution this time around, lmao.
I’m going to make gnocci with plain tomato sauce tonight. It’s a bit ambitious (tomato sauce is after all a veggie) but I’m hoping that it will be sufficiently inoffensive.
So today hug a person with IBD (or be even kinder and let them ahead of you in the line for the ladies room). Tell them that their symptoms really aren’t that gross. (After all, shit happens). Read a bit about it. Try not to react with disgust when someone tells you they have it.
Watch this if you want to learn a bit more…