Tuesday, April 4, 2017
My IBD story - Colitis and me
Two years ago I was at rock bottom. I was signed off work, unable to eat, couldn't stop sleeping, constantly felt sick and would need to rush to the loo after everything I attempted to eat. This was only the beginning of my life turning upside down and really testing my strength. Since sharing a few posts and food pictures, I've had lots of interest in me sharing more information on my health and lifestyle. What better way to start than to share my journey with you up until now.
Until January of this year I was a secondary school teacher. Constantly on the go with not enough time in the day to even nip to the loo, let alone have a proper lunch break. I loved my job so much and never doubted my love for it. Summer holidays 2015 hit and I had two holidays booked to Berlin and Spain but, I had felt a little under the weather with my glands deciding to swell up and become very firm. Before going away I decided to visit the doctor to get checked over before jetting off, and at that appointment was issued with some antibiotics. My holidays weren't affected whatsoever and I had a great summer. Throughout that summer I had worked a hell of a lot, more so than I ever had done before in my career. (This is an important piece of information and will touch back on this later on).
August was over and the first day of September term was upon me which I was excited for but still, my glands were up and I started to feel run down (even before the term had started!). As fellow teachers know, you generally have a CPD day to kick start the term and this wasn't a good one for the school I was working in at the time. Our GCSE grades had dropped as a school and we immediately felt the pressure and stress hit, and I knew that this next academic year was going to be a hard one. I was at work for three whole days before I had to get my boyfriend to physically push me out of bed on the Thursday morning and we knew something wasn't right. I felt completely and utterly exhausted.
I was sent home having only what I can explain as an anxiety attack as my stress levels shot up incredibly quickly and my body felt like it was going into shut down. The next 4 months included straight-through 20 hour sleeps, a hell of a lot of doctor and hospital appointments, viles and viles of blood, endoscopy and not being able to keep anything down (All of the above didn't start at the same time). These happened one after the other and in the December my specialist said he felt I was suffering with severe acid re-flux, and some sort of virus attacking my digestive system. He mentioned possible ME however wasn't 100% sure.
Various symptoms started to show themselves, such as swollen and incredibly painful joints, ulcers that at points would really distort my speech; I had that many in my mouth at once and the continued glamorous symptom of severe bloating (looking 6 months pregnant). Over the next 8 months myself and my specialist started to see some patterns and so I was sent for a colonoscopy, numerous x-rays and an MRI scan.
Microscopic Colitis. . . . . . it seems crazy that something they call microscopic can affect my body in such drastic ways. I was also diagnosed with arthritis as a symptom of my Colitis and started an intense food journey as I'd lost 3 stone in weight and got down to the lowest I'd been for as long as I can remember. I felt incredibly sad and not confident whatsoever. I didn't feel or look like myself and didn't eat out for months as I feared I would fall ill and would need to go to the toilet, and there wouldn't be one. I experienced anxiety like nothing I'd experienced before and my love of food, clothes and doing my makeup had left me as I just wasn't me.
I'd like to fast forward to now and by-pass a lot of horrible times I had to go through, and fill you in on my life now and how I'm finally feeling myself again.
I now have to live on a gluten free, dairy free and processed meat free diet (please remember this was all tried and tested with medical attention). As well as these main groups of foods I need to avoid as they either make me ill, start a flare or have some sort of affect on me, there's quite a few things I also have to avoid when possible. Garlic, onion, artificial sugar, apples and more, are on my list (an actual list) of foods that can trigger a symptom. Some of you may have heard of the FODMAP diet. This was something I was told to start exploring by my specialist and after experimenting, it's safe to say that I couldn't be happier with how I feel (most of the time). I'm also medicated as well as managing my disease with my diet and lifestyle, which means I can have the occasional thing I shouldn't and have relevant tablets to help. I don't like doing this but sometimes when eating out, you never know.
Now time has moved on, I understand my body. I understand what can trigger a symptom or cause a flare so I am able to prepare myself and be more knowledgable. I know that if I don't sleep enough or over-exercise, my knees and hands will swell and I'll be in pain and have to neck some steroids. The list honestly goes on.
So, if you're reading this paragraph I firstly want to just say a huge thank you! I know this is probably the LONGEST blog post ever. Secondly, my reasons behind sharing this huge part of my life with you is because I'd like to start doing 'What I Eat in a Day' videos and more cooking and baking content on here to include my own recipes and ones I've tried. You guys are amazing, and I know you will support me in this extra little part of my blog and YouTube channel (go subscribe if you haven't already), but if sharing this helps 1, 10 or even 100 people I'll be so so happy. I was lucky and had a very close friend who also has Colitis so could relate and understand with her. But if I didn't have her, I'd have felt even more lost than I did.
Thank you so much for reading! Obviously this is an extremely shortened version of two years and I'm very open to questions if you have any. Let me know if you'd like any particular meals for me to share with you. I know pudding is a big one and can be quite tough for someone who has such a restrictive diet like mine. Let me know!
Much love as always