Thank You, Jesus, for My Crohn’s Disease – Part 6

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Yes, you read that right: Part 6. Soooo if you haven’t read Part 1-5, you can start here.  Makes for some good reading on the John. 😛

If you have followed along with my Crohn’s journey, well, I guess God has more to teach me.

I have been fighting a Crohn’s flair-up since October. Wow – I just realized it’s been 7 months. At first I thought it was a minor flair-up, one that occurs most often in the Fall time. But it kept progressing. By Christmas I was experiencing a full out flair-up, one that I had not had in over 6 years.   I was in denial. Well, I wasn’t in denial of what was happening. When you are racing to the bathroom 8-10 times each day?  You know something isn’t right.  I was in denial that I was out of remission.  I kept putting off calling my doctor.  “One more week,” I said.  “Maybe it will go away on its own.”

At the start of the year, I decided it was time to get it checked out.  I called my doctor and she scheduled a CT scan of my bowels.  The results: constipated.  Rx: Eat more fiber.  I seriously got off the phone dumbfounded.  Constipated? I’ve got the “runs” (literally).  Fiber?  Do you know who you are talking to? I’m a dietitian. Fiber is my friend. I eat more fiber than most Americans.   I didn’t actually speak my mind to the physician assistant on the phone.  However, since I am a non-confrontational person, I kindly said, “OH ok!” and hung up.  I didn’t ask questions, because, well I was still in denial, and I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I started the natural route.  Some of you are cheering and others are rolling your eyes. I’m in the middle. Let me explain my process. First, I use essential oils. I am actually a Young Living distributor. I am a believer and have seen the benefit in my family’s life.  Therefore, I looked up all the oils that could help with Crohn’s disease, digestion, inflammation… and tried several.  I did experience some digestive pain relief, but it still was not helping.  I was getting worse.

I’ve read articles and heard personal stories of people with autoimmune diseases who have had tremendous benefit when reducing dairy and gluten. I thought, “what could it hurt. I might as well give it a try at this point.”  After reducing all dairy and gluten for one week, Brett’s family was together for a retirement party for his mom, when my sister-in-law, Ashley, told me how she and her husband, Daron, tried the Whole30 program. Ashley has been suffering severely from acid reflux.  She has tried medication and even went to see a holistic doctor, and she still was having severe pain.  However, once she tried Whole30, she had seen great improvement, and has realized now that high amounts of sugar increases her reflux symptoms.

That same weekend we celebrated birthdays at The Cheesecake Factory with my family. I decided on Monday, February 15th I would give Whole30 a try.  The night before was Valentine’s Day, and I babysat for a dear friend so she and her husband could go out for dinner. The kids were in bed and I read through most of It Starts With Food, by the same authors of Whole30.  (I was also stuffing my face with leftover cheesecake and Valentine’s cookies since I knew I would not be eating those for at least 30 days!)  Now, I’m not going into all of it, but I do not agree with everything the authors say.  But at this point, I had nothing to lose.

To sum up my Whole30 experience: it didn’t work. Ok, I did have improvement by day 30, but I was still not back to normal and having symptoms, plus the diet was not realistic for me. The regular Whole30 plan is fine for most people, but I was following the very strict autoimmune disease plan PLUS low- FODMAP diet, PLUS no nightshades. My list of foods that I could consume were about 20 (categorizing all meat into 1 food).  Over the process of about 3 months, I did the best I could and even tried to reintroduce foods back into my diet. I even have been making my own water kefir, which is a potent natural probiotic.   By May, I was desperate.

Pooping became my life. I hope it doesn’t make you uncomfortable reading this, but I am no longer awkward about my bowel disease.  It’s not easy when you are giving your daughter your attention and have to literally run away leaving her hanging (and, well, not making it to the toilet in time on several occasions).  Or when your son brings his toys in the bathroom to play while you sit once again. If my kids couldn’t find me, they knew where to look.  It’s hard when you have to plan your day so you aren’t out grocery shopping fearful that you have to leave a cart of food in the middle of the aisle. Or driving in the car, and well….there’s nothing you can do because getting out is not an option.

I lost almost 10 pounds from February to June. And if you know me, I didn’t need to lose 10 pounds. I’ve been sick. I most likely am malnourished. I had lost blood. I was done trying it my way and was clearly not in denial anymore.  I called my doctor and we immediately scheduled a colonoscopy. The middle of June I had my colonoscopy, and sure enough, I have inflammation in my rectum, 2 large polyps, and a patch of small polyps.  I was instantly relieved to finally have answers.  Then last week, I received the results that my biopsies were benign, and I officially have “ulcerative proctitis.” – inflammation of the rectum.

Note: Ulcerative colitis affects anywhere in the colon, while ulcerative proctitis only affects the rectum. Crohn’s disease can affect anywhere in the GI tract. Soooo technically, do I still even have Crohn’s? Who knows – the colonoscopy is only for the colon and cannot see the rest of the small intestines which is where I had inflammation in the past. I guess for now, I’ll stick with ulcerative proctitis. But I’m keeping my cool title for the blog post! 😛

I am currently taking 3 medications (Canasa Uceris, and Lialda) and I follow up with my doctor in about 6 weeks.

How am I praising Jesus through this?  You’ll have to wait and see for next time. Because this post is already too long, and you can get off the John now… 🙂

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Thank You, Jesus, for my Crohn’s Disease – Part 3

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After 5 days in the hospital, the histoplasmosis (histo) was not at a dangerous level and I was released. I left with a prescription of an antifungal medication that I was required to take for an entire year.  But there was a new problem. Every medication to control Crohn’s disease was immunosuppressant.  When I tried these medications, my fevers would immediately return because my histo levels would rise. I will always have traces of the fungus in my lungs so I cannot be immune compromised.  My infectious disease physician, Dr. Delgado, was adamant that I stop all Remicade treatments. Dr. Maisel and Dr. Delgado corresponded to try to find the best medication for me, but after a few tries of new and upcoming drugs, nothing was keeping the histo suppressed .

After 6 years, I stopped Remicade treatments and all medications for Crohn’s disease and was only taking itraconazole for the histoplasmosis.  Was I worried? Most definitely. I felt like the two diseases would be against me, fighting to take over depending on which was treated.  In addition, Dr. Delgado warned us greatly that if I were to get pregnant, the medication would be detrimental to the baby.  So not only did I fear for my own health, but I had the fear of an unplanned pregnancy.

As always though, God had a greater plan that I could ever make up.  If you’ve read Part 2, you’ll remember that this was the year 2008 and by November of 2009 I was cleared from taking itraconazole.  I was now taking no medication, and I was having no symptoms of Crohn’s disease.  The Spring of 2010 I received a colonoscopy since it had been 2 years since my last one.  Irritable Bowel Disease patients are encouraged to get a colonoscopy every 2 years even during remission (no symptoms/flair-ups/inflammation) to screen for cancer since our cancer rate is higher than non-IBD people.

Results: no inflammation. Zilch. Zippo. None.  Brett and I walked out of there praising Jesus!!! And….Brett has some stories since Dr. Maisel allowed him to sit in on the colonoscopy!  Many physicians don’t let spouses because they have had their share of pass out experiences. So I can confidently say that Brett knows ALL of me…including inside of me! 😉

What then? I was in remission. And I continued my life as normal.  Fast forward to February 2011 and I was pregnant with our first born, Kherington.  A new fear arose. For some women, their Crohn’s symptoms worsen during pregnancy while others improve.  Since I was in remission my fear was that I would struggle with symptoms throughout my pregnancy.   But all praise to the Lord, my entire pregnancy was asymptomatic.

As I reflect back to that horrible experience of contracting histoplasmosis, I originally thought it was all a curse. My Crohn’s disease was a curse. My histoplasmosis was a curse and prevented me from continuing treatment for Crohn’s.  But the truth is disease IS a curse.  These diseases are a result of sin. No, not a specific sin that God was punishing me for, but the fact that I am a sinner.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned”  Romans 5:12

Disease = death.  You. Me. We are all going to die. Disease is part of the process of dying, and death is a result of sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Yet, the good news is that Jesus Christ has defeated sin by nailing it to the cross and has defeated death by rising from the grave 3 days later.  This earthly body will continue to decompose, but HALLELUIAH some day I will live for all eternity with Jesus Christ with no disease or death!

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22

Maybe you are struggling with a chronic illness. Or a loved one just died. Or you question God why there is so much suffering and death. He is not the cause. He is the SOLUTION.

Jesus is my Healer.  He has currently healed me from Crohn’s disease. This past February 2015, I had another colonoscopy. The result: no inflammation.

But more importantly, Jesus has healed me from my sin. One night in September of 1991, my prayer was similar (or as much as a 5 year old could say) as David crying out,

“Have mercy on me, LORD; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” Psalm 41:4

And Christ’s response?

“He sent out his word and healed [me]; he rescued [me] from the grave.” Psalm 107:20

Maybe you have not been healed yet by your illness, disease, or thorn in the side.  But have you been healed from your sin?  Have you been too focused on trying to find the cure for your disease?  Or maybe you don’t have an illness but you are trying every new health fad to prevent disease, yet are failing to allow Christ to heal you from the disease of your soul, which has an eternal consequence?

Choose your eternal health now. Don’t wait. Christ is able and willing to make you alive now and for all eternity:

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?  John 11:25-26