Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cramping/Work Stress and Sleep

Image result for sleep
Well it seems as if the holidays are quickly approaching. Currently, I just wrapped up my last day of work for the year and am looking forward to a nice break off (I head back to work after the New Year). I am looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the free time off. Tomorrow I head to my doctor for my annual physical results.

Recently, I have not been able to sleep that well. For no apparent reason I would wake up multiple times in the middle of the night and maybe get something to eat or drink water and then right back to bed. Sunday night is the worst night for sleep since my body is used to staying up late on the weekends plus wondering about what I have at work the next day. Speaking of work it seems this time of year is usually stressful (I work in the financial industry where year end and tax time are stressful). I honestly felt like I was worry about so much and that is what caused me to wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. My sleep has been improving the past couple of nights. However, I still feel tired. Hopefully this nice little vacation will cure that. Also I haven't been working out as well and have gained a little weight and look forward to getting back to that (starting this evening!) 

Most likely due to the lack of sleep I developed some cramping last weekend but it has vanished as I have slept better. The cramping was the typical blunt pain that I have had before and usually would come around night time. 

All and all I am in good shape and just a little tired but am sure that this nice long vacation will help out! 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Crohn's and Shingles Week 4: Thanksgiving and Itching

Well my shingles has slowly been subsiding.  As you can see the red marks on my body are gradually fading. I attached a picture to show how it looks. When I told people I had shingles they are said "Oh that must be pretty painful". Honestly, the whole process hasn't been too bad. The only thing that bothers me is lifting up my shirt and seeing all this redness on the left side of my stomach. Over time I would thing the marks will fade and could possibly leave some scarring. I have been using Mederma scar cream to reduce the possible effects of scarring and seen a little bit of improvement with that. The only thing that is a pain is there is one spot on my stomach that sometimes itches at night which is a pain. I put some calamine lotion on it which helps a little bit in terms of stopping the itching. I might pay a visit to my dermatologist to see if there is anything I can do do reduce the redness of my skin.

I had a pretty good Thanksgiving (ate way too much-but it was all delicious!). I am honestly thankful for being in remission with Crohn's and not having to worry about pains in my stomach or going to the bathroom. It is nice to be able to live an active and healthy life. Although, I have been feeling tired for the past few weeks with work, family issues, and just year end always seems busy. I noticed I had gained some wait and have been working out recently and dropped a few pounds. My weight has been running around 168 (of course this was before Thanksgiving).

All in all I am glad the shingles is slowly fading away and think it will continue to improve. I was worried that I would have pain for longer than I did. The only annoying thing still is the itching on the one part of my stomach but that seems to have been reduced some. Honestly, I have so much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Crohn's and Shingles Week 2

This week my shingles seems to be improving. The skin has seemed to crust over and starting to peel away. I am curious to see what it will look like once it is all gone. At this point the shingles are either a dark red color or have faded. Earlier in the week I had minor pain near my left breast. It felt tender and warm (somewhat like a sunburn). I also had some minor pain in my lower back but that has seemed to resolve itself quickly as the shingles as faded away.

I have my annual physical scheduled for later this month and my doctor will evaluate my status. I will be curious to see how my doctor thinks my skin is progressing. Also I noticed I lost some weight during the shingles. Right now I weigh roughly 170 pounds.

Never in a million years did I think I would get shingles at 31 years old. Then again I never thought I would be diagnosed with Crohn's either. I think life is a reminder of how unusual, random, and interesting things can be. However, I believe the adversity has made me a stronger person overall.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Crohn's and Shingles Week 1

As you probably saw in my prior post this past week on Monday I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with shingles (I was unable to hand out Halloween candy). My doctor prescribed me Valtrex and a week's worth of Prednisone to calm down the inflammation. My parents reminded me that I had chickenpox twice growing up. Honestly, I have heard people (including my grandmother) say there were in lots of pain while having shingles. For me the pain is more of a mild sunburn that looks like a bunch of acne.

The prednisone kicked in around Wednesday (after starting it on Monday). Prednisone has always given me energy, makes me feel warm, and makes me quite "goal oriented". The Valtrex I have to take for a full week (3 times a day) and should wrap that up by the end of this weekend. When I woke up in the morning I would have some slight pain but it honestly wasn't anything I have seen before. I think having lived with Crohn's for so long I have lived through periods of extreme pain which makes the shingles pretty manageable. The rash on my left side and back have seem to subside and now look more like a scrape the anything else.

Things seem to be improving which is a good sign and I am hoping to be back to 100% within another week or so. This again is a minor set back but I have been many through many of these before and know that it will pass and I will be back to normal (which should never be taken for granted).

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Shingles and Crohn's

Well so much for my theory about having a heat rash in my last blog post. Over the weekend I got concerned about the red bumps on the left side of my stomach. I went ahead and decided to call my doctor on his cell phone on Sunday (photo above of what my stomach looked like). Honestly the shingles didn't hurt it just felt more like a bad sunburn (that looked like a wicked case of acne). My doctor brought in some nurses to quiz them on what I had (without them knowing). My doctor told me usually people in their 30's don't get shingles which is why I made for an interesting case study. I asked my doctor if he thought taking Humira could increase my chances of getting shingles. He said it was possible but didn't believe so single I had been on Humira for over 5 years and really haven't had any flare ups since I started Humira (which is true).

I guess the good part was no tests or x rays had to be performed since it was clear what I had. My doctor called in a prescription for Valtrex (3 pills a day for 7 days) to kill off the virus from shingles and then some Prednisone to calm down the inflammation. My appointment with the doctor was at 2:30 yesterday and the prescription was filled quickly so I was able to take one days worth of pills in a couple of hours.

Honestly, shingles through me for a loop. I have been a little stressed at work but never did I think I would actually get shingles. I always see commercials that target people in their 60's and 70's about the shingles shot but never did I think I would actually get it. Right now I have some minor pain but honestly I have been through so much with Crohn's I am pretty prepared for any pain. I am curious to see what progress I make with the medications I was prescribed and hopefully this is only a minor set back.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Red Bumps on Stomach and Feeling Tried

So typically I don't blog unless there is an underlying change in my Crohn's or unless I find an article that I really find interesting that is Crohn's related. Over the past few days I have noticed dark red bumps at my stomach. At first glance they look like acne in a way. The red bumps are right below my left breast and hurt a little bit if I touch it. There is also some on my back as well  At first I was freaking out a little bit when I saw this but did some research and it appears I might have a heat rash (which up until now I never heard of).

In other news recently I have felt tired. Last night I slept for a good 8 1/2 hours and still felt a little tired during the day. I do notice when I have vitamin D I feel better. Also work has been busier and I feel like I don't have as much energy as a I usually have. Tonight I plan to get at least 9 hours of sleep to be ready for the upcoming sleep. As I type this I am laying in bed watching the World Series. The best way I can describe it is some type of cement feeling in your stomach. The pain wasn't as bad today since I slept more. I remember during Thanksgiving I felt like I couldn't even get out of bed and had a similar feeling and slept a couple of hours and felt much better.

Hopefully the red rashes I have are not anything too serious. I plan to go to my regular doctor this week to check it out. Typically it takes time to make an appointment with my dermatologist (and even then I have to wait an hour). I am more concerned about my energy level and the pain. I don't have any loose bowels but how you feel is pretty important in terms of quality of life. Hopefully I will feel better within the next week or so.

Friday, August 25, 2017

RedHill RHB 104 Anti-MAP Treatment for Crohn's A Breakthrough?

Recently I saw an article in Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News discussing how an old theory that believes Crohn's patients actually suffer from an infection called MAP (short for mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis). MAP causes a Crohn's like disease (known as Johne's disease) in cattle that reeks havoc on the small intestine and can even kill cattle. It has been shown that the cobblestones in Crohn's patients are similar to the ones found in cattle who suffer from Johne's disease.

The story discusses a woman (Julie Doyle) who suffered from Crohn's disease for 25 years. Julie had 4 surgeries and tried Humira, Remicade, and nearly every other possible therapy. Her existing doctor said she really didn't have any other options.  One option was to try an anti-MAP treatment.  

The anti-MAP treatment for Julie was taking 600 mg of rifampin (Rifadin), 1,000 mg of clarithromycin (Biaxin), and 500 mg of levofloxain (Levaquin). The levaquin was dropped (due to joint pain) and switched out for low dose naltrexone (which has been shown to benefit Crohn's patients too). What is amazing is 6 weeks after starting the therapy Julie began to feel better and added 10 pounds. After 12 months of taking this prescription Julie had a colonoscopy which showed her Crohn's was in remission. The results show that since the beginning of starting in 2014 Julie was in remission with "complete mucosal healing". Her doctor William Chamberlin came up with the need to try the anti-MAP therapy. Dr. Chamberlin practices gastroenterology practices in San Antonio, Texas and currently has a one year waiting list for patients to see him. Dr. Chamberlin has been using the triple antibiotic therapy since 1994 and has seen success with it. He also claims a 85% remission rate for patients that use a 4 antibiotics (anti-MAP therapy)  

What is interesting is that the anti-MAP therapy has shown a 67% remission rate in 244 Crohn's patients. RedHill Biopharma is currently in Phase III trials with the anti-map drug. The study is suppose to wrap up in September 2017 with actual results published in April 2018. This trial has an estimated enrollment of over 400 patients and will look at patients over a 4 year period. Redhill has even developed a MAP test for patients to test their levels of MAP in the blood.

My own view is I believe the anti-MAP therapy can help certain individuals with Crohn's. I don't think it will be a "cure". However, I do believe for some patients it will be beneficial given the evidence from what I have seen over the years. Although, one concern I would have is by taking multiple antibiotics I would worry about c difficile which I contracted by taking an antibiotic. Of course this can be avoided by taking probotics and I would be curious to know if taking probotics would reduce the effectiveness of the anti-MAP therapy. We will get some good information once we get the results of the from the Redhill trial due out next April.