I’m nearly at the half way point… and I wish I could give some really poignant words at this point about how normal not eating has become. Unfortunately, I am still hungry. And food is still leaving a gaping hole in my life. The biggest pizza shaped hole.
Despite this, physically I am feeling so much better. Whilst some of my symptoms continue to niggle, I am barely in any pain. Which really is amazing after spending the past 6 months pretty much in constant pain.
Since writing this blog and opening up this part of my life, I’ve found people have so many questions – what exactly is Crohn’s? Are you really sick? Is this liquid diet a cure? Being such an undignified illness in so many ways, people are often afraid to talk openly about it, but with 300,000 people in the UK suffering from IBD, it’s time to start talking. So I thought today’s blog should be dedicated to all things medical. To answer all the who, hows and whys of Crohns Disease. I hope you come away feeling educated after this post!
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s Disease is an autoimmune disease. This means your body attacks your own healthy cells during the digestion process. Crohn’s Disease falls under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (often referred to as IBD). The disease can cause inflammation and ulceration anywhere in the digestive tract – from mouth to rectum. The areas of inflammation are often patchy, and can be a few centimetres long to a whole length of the gut (for example, the whole large intestine). Every persons disease will be completely different. Ulcerative Colitis is another form of IBD which you may often hear referred to along with Crohns. Colitis is very similar – the symptoms are almost identical, however Colitis will only affect the colon (large intestine).
What are the symptoms?
Typical Crohn’s symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of blood, fatigue, severe nausea, sickness, loss of appetite and weight. Someone with Crohn’s may suffer one or all of these during a time of relapse and symptoms will range in severity depending on the intensity of the flare up.
Is there a cure?
Crohn’s Disease is a chronic illness, which means it’s ongoing and lifelong. A person may experience periods where they have no symptoms at all, when they are in ‘remission’. A relapse or ‘flare up’ could occur at any time and there are a number of drugs and surgical procedures which can provide people with longterm periods of wellness.
Why do people get it?
Unfortunately, it isn’t known why people get it! Bad pot luck I guess! Whilst scientists have poured time and money into lots of research with no definitive answer, it is thought there may be a genetic predisposition to the illness plus an abnormal reaction of your immune system to certain bacteria in your intestines.
How will this liquid diet help?
The idea of the liquid diet is to give my intestine a rest. At the moment it is tired and inflamed; drinking pre-digested shakes means my gut has to do absolutely no work whatsoever. All the nutrients are being absorbed straight into my digestive walls and into my body, meaning my body has time to heal. Imagine it like a cut on your hand. You cover the cut with a plaster to protect it from the world to let it heal. If you take the plaster off or itch your cut, it gets angry and sore and the healing process takes longer. That’s exactly what’s happening inside my body – this liquid diet is my plaster.
What happen’s once you’ve finished the liquid diet?
To be completely honest… I don’t know yet! I am continuing to take Adlimumab – a weekly injection I have been on for the past 5 years (which has, until now, kept me well!) At the same time I started this liquid diet, I also started azathioprine. A slow acting long term drug – that would, if it worked, keep me well beyond finishing this liquid diet. However, on discovering in the last few days that these tablets contain lactose and being severely lactose intolerant.. I am in a quandary of how things will move forward now. There are a few drugs left I could try…yet, I’m feeling uplifted and excited about the possibility of finding a diet that keeps me well. Whether that is juicing, elemental, vegetarian, gluten free… vegan! If this elemental can work so efficiently, I’m convinced drugs aren’t the only way. This is a another long (and hopefully exciting!) journey I’m embarking on…!
Here’s a list of resources:
Keep following my journey, as I attempt to eat myself well…