Paradigm shift

I went and saw Dr. Yuwen Lee (my naturopath/dietician/supplements specialist) yesterday and confessed… I had fallen off the bandwagon several times and had indulged in some gluten, dairy, coffee, soy, corn, potato, salad and fruit… all the yummy things that are on my list of foods to avoid.

I’ve seen myself slip several times since June, but have managed to justify that if I eat really well 99% of the time, then surely that soy latte on the weekend isn’t going to kill me. And plus, on special occasions it doesn’t count (“It’s a wedding! It’s good luck to eat some of the cake!”)…

But what I have noticed is that as soon as I eat some of the forbidden things, my body is much more sensitive to them. I bloat almost immediately, and feel lethargic and sometimes constipated the next day, as I am sure my digestive system has hit overload and is trying to process everything that I have just consumed. My greatest discovery is that the little belly pudge that I have had since I was 16 years old (fondly known as my ‘Buddha Belly’ – rub for good luck!) actually is a result of being in a constant bloated state! What I thought was my “body issue” that I wasted countless years trying to destroy through ab workouts and spanx is actually combated by avoiding gluten and dairy! Wow, what I have put my body through!

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Quinoa…more like Quin-WAH!

I ate quinoa for lunch on Tuesday. It’s now Friday and I am STILL seeing remnants of it in my poop! What the hell is that about? It is soooo tiny, I figured they would be easy to break up in the body? Or are the scraping out the insides of my intestines as they flow through? And how is it possible that after so many days since eating it, I am still finding traces of it???!? Surely that’s not a good sign, is it? And P.S, corn does the same thing – the kernels come out just as they went it!

(10 minutes later after consulting my oracle, Google)
Ah ha! It’s all good apparently! According to several online sources, fibrous foods such as quinoa help bulk up your poo and typically show up intact upon evacuation.

Here are some goods links to tell you what your different poops mean based on their consistency, frequency and colour:

7 Things Your Poop Says about You

What Your Poo Says about You

Don’t be afraid to keep checking out your poops – they might be telling you some important messages about what’s happening within your guts. Plus, it’s kinda funny to observe!

Poo like a Champion!

(Image from – imagine having this on a t-shirt that you walked around in?!)

This amazing blog from my friend Kate Callaghan is superb! Not only does she give great, practical advice on how to eat and live well (“Eat the rainbow”!), she has blogged about unclogging your bogging!

Constipation is seriously the WORST! It’s not even about not pooping for a day, but includes not having that full bowel motion so you feel emptied. Crohn’s disease is annoying in the sense that you can have anything from the liquoops to diarrhea one day, and then be constipated the next!

It happened to me today – went to the loo, did a little poo, and now I feel clogged, not knowing what to do (poetry genius!). So I drank two cups of my Husk ‘Digest’ tea, which helped things move some more, but I still didn’t feel that awesome satisfaction you get from having a proper poo.

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15 Pooping Horror Stories

15 Pooping Horror Stories

A friend of mine who is also a “Crohn’sy” with a wicked sense of humour posted this on my Facebook page with a smiley face note saying “You’ll appreciate these”… And appreciate I did! I was laughing so hard (although, #1 was cringe worthy, definitely just skip to number 2 straight away!) I ironically almost pooped myself! But mainly, it was nice to see that with or without IBD, everyone has a pooping horror story! So if you’ve pooped yourself, sharted, dropped the kids off TOO early, liquooped – don’t be embarrassed. If anything, Crohn’s sufferers have the best stories to share – the life of every party! hahah

Stimulation you Don’t Want

Stimulation that you don’t want…

Caffeine isn’t so great for your guts if you’ve got Crohn’s Disease or any other inflammatory bowel disease… gives you the liquoops and makes things feel a little too intense in your midsection. This article outlines some issues associated with caffeine, especially causing a laxative effect and being quite acidic – doesn’t make your guts feel too good. What I found interesting is that caffeine increases your stress hormone levels which actually divert blood from your digestive system! Yikes!

For years I had noticed that caffeine and I didn’t get along – if I had black tea or a coffee, it would actually cause a red flushing of my face, which in Chinese medicine is called Liver Yang and relates to your liver function (under a lot of pressure from all my meds anyway), a leaky gut or digestive issue – BINGO! Ticking all boxes here! Caffeine would also stimulate me – and not in that “I-am-functioning-at-the speed-of-light” type of stimulation that gets you through the day and makes you uber efficient, but it would make me have the runs… Never a good option for someone with Crohn’s who already has pooping issues! Plus, people with bowel problems should avoid drinking anything with a diuretic effect at all costs, I mean, we are already not absorbing vitamins and other vital elements through our guts, do we want to add dehydration to the mix?

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How a punch to my boob affected my guts

Funniest thing happened to me on Wednesday night – I play in a basketball team and I returned to the competition after being away for 4 months due to recent relapse. Feeling better and stronger to play, I went onto the court. Obviously I took it easy, didn’t push myself too far… but then I got punched in the boob! Super hard! A punch right into my left nipple! It felt like it should’ve bruised immediately, but it didn’t, and it was weird grasping at my boob and trying to massage it while I was still running around on the court. Anyway…life goes on…boob hurt for a the whole next day too. I’m talking super aching.

So I went to my acupuncturist today (every Friday evening I have a session to zen my week and to heal my EVERYTHING) and she asked me how I was going, how work was, whether I had returned to basketball…the usual friendly chat as I lay on the table relaxing, with some small needles shallowly puncturing my body… and I told her my funny story of being punched in the boob. She asked me if it still hurt and I said “sort of” so she started to do some resonance (an energetic healing technique – similar to reiki but on Chinese acupuncture points) over my left boob and said that she could feel that there was a blockage there. She then asked me if I had had any trouble with my stomach since then… I was like, OHMIGOD! YES! I’ve had the “liquoops ” (liquid poops – I coined this term to describe the “not-quite-diarrhea” stage) for the last two days, and it’s been really bizarre because I have been a pooping machine! Usually I just go twice a day, but the last 2 days I had gone 5 or 6 times in the day! [Read more…]

Crohns; Some Houe Rules

Living with Crohn’s requires some adjustments to your living situation – whether you live on your own or with someone, here are some tips and essential equipment that help me when I’m at home dealing with it all:

1. PLENTY of toilet paper! Always keep a massive stock on hand! And the softer the better… 3-ply or more is totally lush for your butt! Trust me, when you need to wipe regularly, especially poop of all textures, you want softness and absorbent toilet paper!

2. Wet wipes – keeps you fresh! I love Cottonelle Kleenex packs. They call them “cleansing cloths” to sound more fancy than wet wipes. I assume baby wipes would work the same magic. Makes you feel clean. You can get take-away small packs of 10 wipes…I have them tucked away in my handbag for out-and-about activities…just in case.

3. Keep the toilet lid UP! You have no idea, when you have the urge (a SERIOUS urge), taking the time to lift the lid, while simultaneously pulling down your pants is a bloody nuisance, and can make the difference between making it INTO the toilet bowl and not. It’s bad enough already that for some bizarre reason, when you need to go, the urge happens when you are about 5 minutes from your house, and then you have to begin speed walking to the front door (but not too fast, because then things could start coming out), so it’s some weird penguin waddle, while you hold your guts in…and then, you can’t get your bloody keys into the door lock (seriously, why the hell do you become an absolute SPAZ at opening doors at this point in time??!?!) and when you finally do make into the house, it’s a mad rush to make it to the loo. And that toilet lid is going to destroy you!!!

4. Chinese herbs – If you can go down to your local Chinese shop, get your hands on Po Chai Pills (sometimes labelled Bao Ji). These miracle vials of Chinese herb balls are SENSATIONAL! They help relieve diarrhea, nausea, bloating, over-eating, food poisoning, and help maintain healthy gut function. It’s basically a Chinese probiotic. Its ingredients include chrysanthemum and magnolia – these were the only Latin names that I recognised!! But it’s all natural, and the best part is, even if you take it, it won’t interfere with your other medication, and you can’t overdose on Chinese herbs! They just make you feel better. Easily swallowed with a swig of water.

Image5. Privacy – whether you have more than one bathroom in your place, or just have a rule that the other person you live with cannot be ANYWHERE near the bathroom while you are doing your business (my rule on holidays!), it’s important to feel comfortable and at ease when you are on the loo. With Crohn’s, doing a number 2 has it’s own set of anxieties – is it runny? will it come out? what noises will accompany it? will I get to the loo in time? will it be painful? will there be blood or pus to watch for? So knowing that someone else isn’t waiting for you to hurry up out of the toilet is a real relief. Some tips to disguise sounds and smells:
– drop toilet paper into the bowl to disguise that “plop” or “splash” sound
– flush on the first drop, it disguises the sound and the smell (the first one released is always the smelliest! It’s been there the longest!)
– use Aesops post-poo drops (yes these are a real thing, and totally disguise the smell, better than the old matchstick trick!)
– flush often when either straining or splashing
– run the tap or shower while pooping
Obviously be sensible when trying these sound and smell disguising tips – don’t clog your toilet with paper and don’t waste water!

Share what tips or must haves that you have at your house to make living with Crohn’s or IBD better… remember, sharing is caring!

A day and night out with Crohn’s…

I promise you can still have fun when you’re out and about and have Crohn’s Disease. You don’t have to hide away and shun yourself from socializing because you have an autoimmune disease. Going out while managing Crohn’s can make things difficult, down to toilet location/accessibility and menu choices, but there are definitely ways to get around these challenges. Here are some of my experiences:

Yesterday was my best friend’s 30th birthday party, and it was a great day! The birthday girl, being aware that there are a few of us in our circle of friends that have food intolerances, was very thoughtful in her selection of options for the banquet style lunch we experienced, which was so great, especially when struggling with a digestive disorder. If you get invited to go somewhere that you haven’t eaten before, you can always check out the menu online (thank god for the internet!) or even give the restaurant a call before the event and see what they serve or whether they provide alternative options to support your dietary needs. I mean, even recently I went to a Japanese restaurant with a girlfriend and brought my own tamari, which is gluten-free soy sauce. She didn’t care that I whipped it out of my handbag (she even asked to have some!), the restaurant didn’t seem to bat an eyelid about it, and I certainly wasn’t going to give a shit if people stared at me. Funnily enough, even though I told the waitress that I couldn’t eat gluten, I was still served a battered salmon dish, even though I asked for a grilled fish. I sent it back to the kitchen to get it rectified, and then it was fine. Don’t feel bullied to eat what they serve you if it’s not right! You feeling sick and in pain is not a good trade off for having a moment of being a little annoying to restaurant staff! Thank god (but sadly) we live in a time where food intolerances are abundant, so restaurants are used to being asked to change things on their menus. Just tell the wait staff before you order and they’ll make a note of it to pass on to the kitchen. So if you are invited out, you can choose to either decline the invitation (which is sad, because hanging out with people makes you feel good!) or you can suggest another dining venue that you know works with your needs (most people will understand this) or you can just choose to eat prior to meeting everyone, and then just order a small “Crohn’s friendly” snack to eat while socialising with people. Obviously if you are going through a bad relapse, or you’re in hospital, don’t force yourself to go out! Listen to your body and see what you really need.

Back to my day yesterday, the only thing I should’ve probably stayed away from at lunch was the caramelized pear served for dessert – I only took a spoonful of it because I knew the sugar in it would probably make my guts unhappy, but what was even more pleasantly surprising was that after I have been avoiding processed sugar, that one spoonful tasted SOOOO sweet, it was a bit too much anyway! This was a nice reminder that even though I am making dietary “sacrifices”, my body is happy with these choices. Anyway, for whatever reason (hopefully it wasn’t that pear spoonful! Because then I am REALLY sensitive to fruit), later on as the night progressed while celebrating, I had the “liquoops” – this is a term I have coined to describe liquid poops. It’s not quite as messy as diarrhea, in the sense that you can hold it in time to make it to the loo, but its not a formed poo and you still have to go a couple of times. I stupidly wore a body suit – let me tell you, that shit is difficult to manoeuvre off your body when you are trying to sit down on the toilet! If you have IBD and own a body suit, jumpsuit, overalls or any other type of clothing that requires time to remove it, DO NOT WEAR IT! My body suit was a bloody nuisance. Didn’t make any accidents luckily, but it does add to the anxiety! Because you never know what the toilet queue is going to be like (and women take so much time in the toilet! Super annoying). Speaking of accidents, it doesn’t hurt to keep a spare pair of pants in your car…I’ve learnt from experience!

Another thing that I did to help with my Crohn’s while I was out was I drank water the whole day. I can’t drink alcohol at the moment (or maybe for a long while…) because alcohol will really hurt my guts. It can be too acidic, it can also be too sugary, is too toxic for my liver while it’s processing other treatments, and plus, it doesn’t mix so well with medication. And I’m not talking about the fun and easy type of “drunk” you used to get as a teenager when you were on antibiotics and still decided to drink… as you get older, drinking while on antibiotics really hurts – cramping, nausea, bloating… it’s not worth it. I have no problem being the sober person at a party, mainly because my friends are awesome in every state, so I can have fun no matter what. If anything, I just get jealous or bored that I am not on their level of drunkeness, and then I secretly start craving a drink…but then I realize, it’s not worth it – no matter the celebration. Recently I have been at weddings and other 30ths and have not had a problem with not drinking. If people who don’t know me ask me why I’m not drinking, I just say I’m on antibiotics – it’s not a lie, as I AM on antibiotics, but it avoids sharing the whole back story to my Crohn’s life! Even yesterday at the bar, when I was with the birthday girl ordering her a mojito and asking for a glass of water for myself, the bartender even asked me why I wasn’t drinking! I just said I was the designated driver.
People will ask you at social gatherings why you aren’t drinking, but that’s cool, you’ve got very acceptable answers to give them such as “designated driver” or “being on antibiotics” without having to explain your situation. So don’t worry about being the odd one out! The people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter (cheers Dr. Seuss).

So go out and celebrate your life – enjoy the times when you are really well. Just be careful and mindful of what you put INTO your body (food and drink) and what you put ONTO your body (clothing), and stay close to the loo if needed!