Changes

As I sit here writing this today, I am in quite a bit of pain. My joints hurt, my gut hurts, I just feel achy all over. My mornings have started out this way for the better part of a week and it’s getting old. I start a new job next Monday and I’m really nervous about my health.

I think the Thanksgiving holiday triggered the inflammation. I know better, but once a year I like to indulge and now I’m paying for it. Yesterday I started a diet of broth, bananas, rice, and applesauce. I hope by Monday I’m well enough to start without too much anxiety. I am so fatigued and can’t imagine working a full day feeling this way.

Blending all my food before consuming them has worked in the past. After about a week, I feel much better except I’m dying to eat solid foods again. I don’t think I’m sticking to the diet long enough because I eventually slip back into a state of pain and inflammation. I’ve read quite a bit about people healing themselves on a fruit diet, eating low fiber fruits and juicing. I may give it a try. What do I have to lose? The cravings and temptations of bad foods are the worst part of sticking to the diet. I love fruit and smoothies but sometimes I just want French fries or a piece of pizza, you know? Not to mention, I still cook for my family and obviously want to eat dinner with them ( I make some really good stuff 😉) but I can’t give in. I will just drink my blended banana with almond milk.

Here’s hoping I can heal enough this week to be ready to start work on Monday.

Enjoy the rest of your week! ❤️

In Sickness and In Health

This  Thursday, the 25th, was our nine year wedding anniversary. After we agreed to not buy one another gifts this year, Jarrod was so sweet and booked a hotel at the beach for us. We got married on the beach and it truly is our happy place. We often talk about buying a condo and just moving out there; we can dream, right?

I was so excited for our mini vacation, planning for my mom to pick up our daughter from school and keep her overnight. My sister came and fed our dogs. Everything was set.

A couple days prior, Jarrod started to feel like he was coming down with a cold, so he went to bed early hoping to feel better before our trip. The night before we left, our daughter had her chorus program at school, but he was so sick that he didn’t make it and went straight to bed after work- not even eating dinner. I asked him if he wanted to cancel the trip but he was adamant about going.

Wednesday morning, we got up and got our daughter off to school, packed our bags, and headed to our hotel. Jarrod wasn’t feeling great but he was excited and ready to begin our mid-week, two day trip. We got to our hotel but the room wasn’t ready, so we walked next door for lunch. We both ordered grouper sandwiches and they were really yummy! As we were finishing our meal, we received the call that our room was ready. Yay!

We checked in to our hotel and brought our stuff up, settling in for the next two days. We decided to head over a block to Bula, a kava and kombucha bar. We stayed for a while, chatting and people watching. After a while, we decided to head back to the room.  At this point, Jarrod started to feel sick and wanted to lie down for a bit. After a couple hours, he was ready to go to the pool or beach, my choice. I thought the pool would be better because it was close to our room. I could feel my anxiety kicking in. I really wanted to go to the beach, but our hotel was actually across the street and I was worried about not having bathroom access. We went to the pool for just a bit before the sun started to descend behind the building and the pool was shaded over. Jarrod really wanted to go to the beach and so did I, but my anxiety got the best of me and I told him I needed to go back to the room first.

We were in the room for at least 20 minutes. I wanted to leave but I was too nervous to walk over, not knowing where the nearest restroom was located. It didn’t matter if I needed to use it or not, the unknown is enough to send me into a full-blown panic attack. I used Google maps and looked at the surrounding area noticing a public beach access park about two blocks down. I knew there had to be a restroom there and sure enough, when I switched over to satellite view, I saw it. Now, I was ready to go.

We walked over to the beach and of course I had to check out the restroom, just to be sure it was open and working. Afterward, we walked down to the beach and had about 30 minutes before the sun set. Right as it was setting, Jarrod was feeling so ill that we had to go back to the room.

He ended up sleeping for a while and I ordered takeout from a nearby restaurant for our dinner. He only ate a few bites and went back to bed. He wanted to go back home that night, but it was getting late and I thought we should at least just stay the one night. We packed up first thing the next morning and came home. He was so worried about me being disappointed and promised to make it up to me, but honestly I wasn’t disappointed that he was sick. I was worried about him and just wanted him to feel well.

I was upset with myself. I hate that UC dictates my life. I think every decision I make comes back to thinking about how I feel, how I’m going to feel, where is the nearest restroom, can I eat now or should I wait, etc. It gets so old. So frustrating. If I had normal health, we could have at least enjoyed the one day we had out there. This condition makes it nearly impossible to do things quickly. Everything has to be planned and if it’s not, the anxiety takes over and I just can’t do it.

I am so grateful that Jarrod is so kind and understanding. He does so much research on the latest studies and finding related to UC. He buys supplements and vitamins for me. I truly could not ask for a better person to be by my side in this life. I was diagnosed 10 months after our wedding and he has stuck by me through the worst of it. I couldn’t imagine going through this alone. I’ve seen several posts in my support groups stating that one’s spouse has left them because this disease “is too much to deal with”. Life is tough and I’m so thankful that my husband has stood by his vow of “in sickness and in health.”

Jarrod still isn’t well, but he’s getting there. Maybe next week we will both be feeling well enough to go out to the beach for the day.

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Alternative Medicine

I know that alternative medicine is a controversial subject, but I think it’s worth exploring. I recently applied for my Medical Card and since my disease is covered, I was approved. I received my physical card in the mail last week and decided to start looking at what types of medicines are available.

Many people in my UC support groups on Facebook use cannabis or some combination of CBD and THC. Some people and doctors recommend a ratio of 1:1 (CBD:THC) for UC patients so that’s what I was looking for. I don’t like smoking anything. This could be due to having low lung capacity as a child and having inhaler breathing treatments. I mean, I don’t know for sure, but I really don’t like smoking. I decided to go for a tincture which are sublingual drops. I was nervous to take it because I don’t really like the “high” feeling. I like to feel that I’m in control of my body and mind.

As some of you may know, I recently worked in the cannabis industry and they all thought I was so weird for working in the industry because I don’t smoke. I love the idea of alternative medicine and many studies show the benefits of cannabis for several health conditions. That’s why I started working in the industry. Also, I love plants! Cannabis plants are really beautiful and I enjoyed working with and learning about them for the short time I was there. I would still be working there if this particular company was more professional. I will give them the benefit of the doubt because they are a very new company (and new to Florida), but I couldn’t work in those conditions. When I resigned, they asked me to reconsider several times and said I was the type of professional they wanted to bring into the industry. I guess they expected my professionalism to rub off on everyone else and change the work culture? That’s not how things work. I really hope this industry eventually gains a reputation of professionalism because so many people need this medicine.

That being said, since I worked in the industry, I know how medical cannabis is grown and the VERY strict compliance requirements and regulations the industry must follow. For this reason, I know medical cannabis from a licensed facility is third-party tested for contaminants and they only sell safe products (product safety is a concern of many people) . So now for the funny story:

I got my medicine and decided to try it out on Saturday evening. I wasn’t sure how strong it would be or how it would affect me so I wanted to wait until things were settled for the night. So, I’m reading the instructions and it says the dose is 2 drops, under the tongue. Ok, no problem. I get the dropper full of the oil and start to squeeze it under my tongue…I can’t feel any drops. Wait, I just felt one on my lip, oops…ok….I know I’m squeezing the dropper…What’s going on? I pull the dropper out of my mouth and look at it. It’s HALF EMPTY!!!! OH NO!!!! I know you can’t overdose, but I was worried I would sleep for days! Twenty minutes passed, didn’t feel any different, an hour, no different. About two hours later I started to feel so relaxed but not immobile. The feeling continued to intensify until I fell asleep on the couch. I think it was about 10 pm. I woke up at 4 am, got up and went to bed – sleeping until 8:30. That was the best sleep I’ve had in a very long time! I had some very vivid dreams and woke up feeling a little groggy but very rested.

Needless to say, the next night, I took it while looking in the mirror. Haha! I didn’t have any noticeable psychoactive effects and today I felt so much better. I wasn’t in the pain I’ve been in for so long and without getting too detailed, things were more normal than they have been in months! I can’t say for sure if the medicine is helping or if it’s just a fluke. Those happen too. If this really does help with the pain, inflammation, and insomnia, I will be so grateful.

I guess for me, dealing with this disease for 9 years now and having a rough last few months – and honestly a rough last year or so (it’s been a while since I’ve felt I was actually in remission) – I’m ready to try just about anything before the doctors convince me to try immunosuppressant drugs. I hope this post hasn’t offended anyone. I know cannabis is controversial, but for those in doubt or against its use, I hope you would understand that there is a legitimate medical need for it. It’s less harmful than many of the drugs I’m currently on ( I have to get blood work done every six months to check my kidney function) and it’s a pain reliever that those with gastrointestinal problems can actually use. Tylenol is one of the only pain relievers we can take and it doesn’t work for me. I know cannabis works for so many others and I hope I can finally feel normal again, if not by cannabis, by a combination of alternative medicines and/or pharmaceuticals. ❤️

Here’s a photo from the chalk art festival we went to in Bartow last Sunday. I took many videos but this was the only photo. 😕 It was such a fun event and I would suggest checking one out if you have the opportunity.

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Rough Week

This week was a rough one for me. Monday I woke up in agonizing pain in my right lower abdomen. Typically my pain is on the left (in the descending colon) so pain on the right was a bit concerning. Jarrod thought it may be my appendix since it was in that general area. After about 20 minutes of paced breathing, chills, and dry heaving from pain, it subsided. I was sore for several hours afterward and the pain didn’t come back until Wednesday while we were out running errands. I started to feel it and in a panic, kept my eye on the restroom- just in case. Luckily, the pain didn’t get nearly as bad as it had on Monday and subsided in about 15-20 minutes. Today, I felt the pain again, about the same as Wednesday, but for longer periods of time. If it persists next week, I will consider making an appointment with my specialist, but it will probably be fine.

I wasn’t very productive this week. I only applied for one job, but I did get a call from a company I applied with several weeks ago. I’m waiting for her to return my call now so we will see what happens with that. Hopefully I will at least get an interview, but I’m not holding my breath.

I haven’t had a whole lot of energy lately which could be due to not sleeping consistently. I’ve just been resting a lot this week and I do feel a bit guilty about it. I finally cleaned the interior of my car and pull some weeds in the yard. I also cooked dinner every night and keep the house straightened up, but not much more than that. Since I’ve been home I try and have a list of projects to work on, but I just couldn’t get to any of them this week. Hopefully next week will be better. Starting tomorrow, I will be on a liquid diet for several days to see if it helps with the pain and energy levels. It normally does so fingers crossed!

Speaking of food, I made a couple of good meals this week. One of which was an “Egg Roll in a Bowl” dinner. Just cabbage, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and chicken – all cooked in one skillet. I served it with rice and it was a hit! Simple and delicious! We had plenty of leftovers since I used an entire head of cabbage so I brought my mom some for dinner too. She liked it even though she thought it was a bit spicy. I love versatile recipes. You can leave out the chicken for a vegan meal or replace it with another meat. You can add more veggies or leave some out. It’s totally up to you. If anyone is interested in measurements for this recipe, let me know and I will write it down when I make it again or try and remember about how much of everything I used. I don’t measure anything when I’m cooking (except when I make rice). It’s good because it allows me to be creative, but the downside is that it’s hard for me make the exact meal twice or to give someone else the recipe.

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I will still cook for the family next week even though I will be eating blended foods so look for a new meal (I will write down the recipe this time) next week. Oh, and I think I will try to write new blog posts on Thursdays. It may change after I get a job depending on my schedule, but I will try to write at least one a week. Have a lovely weekend and I look forward to your comments! Xoxo

 

 

Feeling Optimistic

It’s Thursday night which means tomorrow is Friday. This week has really flown by! I’ve had a pretty productive week- today especially. I applied for two jobs, one of which they notified me that my application had been “looked at”. I guess that’s a good thing?? I have applied for so many jobs in the last two weeks and haven’t heard anything yet. It’s still early though.

Man, landing a good job isn’t that easy especially when my experience is scattered amongst many different fields. I don’t even have 5 years of employment in the science world yet. I like so many things, that’s the problem. I can see myself doing this or that so I just go for it. Why not? You only live once! Now, I’m thinking I would really love to get into a chemistry lab.

When I was an undergraduate, I had so many amazing classes! We went on trips, we tromped through the woods, caught invasive lizards, learned the different ways to measure trees and land…just so many interesting things that any outdoorsy person would love. I always pictured myself doing field work out in the woods or wetlands for a living. That was before I was diagnosed with UC. Now, I don’t think I can do field work. Most days, sure, it would probably be okay, but there would be too many days where I felt too weak to tromp through the forest or marshland. Not to mention the fact that not having a restroom nearby gives me a panic attack (seriously). It’s ok though. I have liked working in a lab setting and I think it’s a safe bet for me health-wise. Now, I just have to convince someone to give me a shot. 😉 I know if someone gave me a chance, they wouldn’t regret it. The last three jobs I’ve resigned from, they’ve asked me to reconsider. I know I’m a good employee, I just need an opportunity to show my worth. 🙂

Today I finished a sketch I’ve been working on here and there. I’m pretty happy with it. Mostly, I sketch to focus my attention on something other than the million things streaming through my head at any given moment. So far, it works. Between practicing yoga, sketching, and just having some time to myself at home, I’m really feeling so much better and pretty optimistic about things to come.BE6C6221-6674-4C05-B090-929845C76ED1

Getting Started

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello! My name is Heather and I’m new to the blogging world. I’m a wife, mother, scientist, dog lover, yoga enthusiast, tea drinker, optimist, and I have Ulcerative Colitis. For those unfamiliar with this disease, it is a Irritable Bowl Disease (IBD) that causes inflammation, pain, and ulcers in the colon or large intestine. I was diagnosed in 2010 and have had flares every year until recently. With this disease comes several ever-changing symptoms and issues. At times, I’m too ill to work and suffer from anxiety and depression due to feeling isolated by the disease. Luckily, recently, I have found a great support group online that has really helped validate my feelings and struggles.

At the moment, I am out of work due to unforeseen circumstances. I have considered starting a blog for a while and thought this was the perfect opportunity. I actually have some time to sit down and write! I’m new to this and not sure where this blog will go, but my plan is to write about some of the daily struggles associated with this disease and to raise awareness. It’s hard for people without this disease to understand how a person can feel alright one day and terrible the next. It’s hard to imagine not wanting to leave your house until you know the route and where the restrooms are along the way. Most people just decide to go somewhere and leave. For me, I have to have a plan, there have to be available restrooms on the way and at the destination. I can’t eat too close to when I’m planning to leave. I normally give myself an extra 20 minutes to get anywhere and most of that time is spent sitting at home, contemplating just staying there. I’ve gotten used to living this way and I like to remind myself that it could be worse. I could be unable to leave my house at all. I have been there several times – for days and sometimes weeks straight. Right now, I feel okay. I still like staying home, but I can leave if I need to. I still need to mentally prepare, but I can and do leave home.

I love to cook so I will probably share some recipes (family approved), I may write about some new yoga pose I’m working on, I may share some scientific article on a new health discovery (probably UC related), maybe just vent some days. Who knows? I’m hoping this blog will benefit someone in some way. That’s really all I’m hoping for. If you are still reading this, thank you and welcome.