Sunday, March 15, 2020

Crohn's and Coronavirus: What I Am Doing

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With the coronavirus recently coming to the United States and infecting many different people the question is what are Crohn's patients to do. I contact my regular doctor and GI and both had similar advice in terms of avoiding large places/crowds, washing hands, and the usual common sense advice. Although I am not a medical professional I thought I would share what my game plane is to perhaps help other individuals.

The first thing I did last early last week was to stock up on water, toilet paper, and antibacterial soap. My views is that I could possibly be self quarantine for some period of time so I want to make sure I have the essentials. I have been washing my hands multiple times a day and avoid touching any public surface, I use the end of my key to press elevator buttons and use the end of the key to hit the automatic door opener just to reduce the risk. Also I have been avoiding going out as much as possible to also reduce my risk. However, at some point I will have to go out again to get groceries/get gas/etc.

Work wise I want to try to work from home later this week. I have a laptop that I can do work things but currently only have access to e-mail. Our company has a VPN (virtual private network) that I have used before but currently my VPN hasn't been working so I need to have that fixed before I can work from home. Honestly, I would be okay working from home considering I could do the same type of work from home. In some ways it would be a little less stressful (many times people will come in and ask for something).

My view is that my behavior of self isolating and self quarantining this week should reduce my risk of catching coronavirus. Also I have been on the lookout for anyone who might be coughing. I went out to dinner last night with my parents and noticed a woman sitting roughly 20 feet away from me and she had a dry cough but she only coughed a few times in a 20 minute period (so it may have been something else).

I currently take Humira which does lower my immune system however as I write this there is only 1 documented case of inflammatory bowel disease in the United States and there really isn't good data regarding what the outcomes are. Once the data is actually out there I would be curious to see if Crohn's patients would get sicker than just regular individuals. Also I would say other than Crohn's I am relatively healthy 33 year old male, who doesn't smoke, who doesn't have any cardiovascular issues, no diabetes, no cancer, no heart issues, and real other health issues.

My advice to other Crohn's patients is make sure you have enough supplies to last you a while, avoid going out as much as possible, wash your hands on a regular basis, if you do go out stay at least 6 feet away from other people, and just remember that this will eventually pass (even though it doesn't feel like it now) I know this too shall pass.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving, Upper Respiratory Infection, and Antibiotic

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Well as usual I haven't been blogging for a while (since I have been feeling pretty well too). Back on November 17, 2019 I started to feel signs of a slight cold (coughing, stuffed up, etc but no sore throat). Typically I would go to the doctor right away to find a fix, however in this case I waited a number of days and went to the doctor this past week and saw him. I proactively took a probiotic a few days before I saw him since I had a feeling I would be prescribed an antibiotic (Augmentin). It took a couple of days before the antibiotic kicked in (I felt the same for a couple of days and then on the 3rd or 4th day I was feeling almost back to normal). Last weekend I was pretty much sleeping most of the weekend and watching TV (it actually felt good to this).

Today is Thanksgiving and I am looking forward to eating some delicious food and desserts. This morning I woke up with some minor cramping (this is actually better than 3 years ago when I woke up in the morning and felt as if I had a block of cement in my stomach but then when back to bed for a few hours and felt a lot better).

All in all I have been feeling well and glad I get to spend time with family. It has been an interesting journey since 8 years ago around this time I was laying in a hospital bed (the hospital actually did have a turkey as an option for Thanksgiving). I can still an interesting time in my life: on one hand I was getting the help I needed but on the other scary since it really wasn't known what I had. My father at the time believed I had c difficle-from what he had read online (I would eventually have that too) and would challenge my gastro doctor. I can still remember my gastro doc coming in every day checking in on me in the hospital and then telling me my colon was pretty rotten and on a scale of 1-10 of severity my colon was an 11. In hindsight I was lucky I didn't need surgery at the time and my GI was able to get me under control pretty quickly.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tinea Versicolor and Vacation

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(note this is a general photo of tinea versicolor)

So for about a month I had a rash/marks on my stomach/abdomen area. I didn't think this was too concerning as I didn't feel any pain nor did it hurt. At any rate I went to my dermatologist (it took about a month or so ago to get an appointment with him). After getting into the doctor's office I was seen quickly by someone who asked me basic questions about why I was seeing the doctor and then waited another 30 minutes to see the doctor.

The doctor came in and I took off my shirt and showed him the marks and right away he mentioned it was tinea versicolor which was fairly common and just an overgrowth of yeast on the skin (he was even able to provide me a brochure that discussed more about it). The disease is just when there I live in a fairly humid city and noticed the marks tended to get worse when it was hot or when I worked out. My doctor has mentioned that people also can get it in the winter since they wear multiple layers and still sweat. The doctor ordered a shampoo from a specialty pharmacy that will be shipped to me next week once I return from vacation. 

Also I will be on vacation this week so the marks/rash should be more calm and the weather I am currently vacationing will be much cooler than my hometown. In addition to this, I am hoping to rest and relax while on vacation and take in some of the local sights. It is always good to get a break after working so hard for most of the year.

Overall, my Crohn's still remains under control. I seem to have a little more cramping then usual but as I write this post I don't have any cramping and feel well rested. Hopefully this vacation and weather will be what I need to relax and calm down my tinea versicolor.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Minor Cramping This Past Week and Minor Dizziness

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So last weekend I splurged a little bit food wise. On Saturday night I went out to this burger place that I had not been to before and ordered a Kobe beef cheeseburger with some Parmesan fries (it was very delicious. About an hour or so after that I went to this dessert place and ordered a small brownie sundae (it had hot fudge on it too). Although the food was amazing and my stomach was quite expanded I was in the bathroom most of the night (very few loose bowel movements though).

For the past week I had some cramping in my stomach (more like distant cramping). Also this week at work I had a bunch of meetings and probably didn't the best sleep either which usually compounds the cramping issue. Last night I feel asleep around 10:30 P.M. and felt refreshed when I woke up. I most likely will be sleeping as much as possible this weekend to make up for some of the lost sleep during the week. As I write this right now I feel virtually no pain. I had been taking hot baths and using a cold ice pack during the week to mitigate some of the pain. The only other odd thing health wise that happened this week was I felt dizzy on Wednesday after work and had to lay down as I felt as if I was moving even though I was in the shower, walking, or laying down. I wrote a post on my vertigo issues last year and that experience.

This past week is a reminder to really appreciate every day I can live in remission with Crohn's and be thankful for what I have. Historically I have found eating light food, sleeping well, and not stressing out too much have been the keys to success. I know I will have up and downs with Crohn's but I am of the opinion that we should all constantly strive to feel better and have a better quality of life with this awful disease.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Study with Plant Based Eating and Crohn's Remission: Does Diet Help Crohn's?

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So recently there was an individual case study (published in the journal of Nutrients). As I write this the study has been downloaded over 3,000 times. The article is called Crohn's Disease Remission with a Plant-Based Diet: A Case Report.

Back in November 2014 a 25 year old male patient had been losing weight for several months, had diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. In January 2015 the patient then took Remicade every 2 months. The treatment dose had to be increased by 50% since he wasn't showing a clinical response. The patient had symptoms that improved, however the patient did not achieve clinical remission. By March 2017 the patient had been on Remicade for 2 years and the patient was able to eliminate all processed foods and animal products during a 40 day religious holiday (this was most likely for Lent). The patient limited processed food/animal products to one serving/week. When the patient was strict and kept to the diet he didn't have any reported pain. In addition to this the patient was able to work out (weight-lift, run, and do yoga). What is very interesting is that after 6 months when a colonoscopy was performed there was no evidence of Crohn's disease!

Other studies have shown similar results when patients reduce the amount of meat in their diet. In this study over a 2 year period 94% of patients maintained remission when eating a semi-vegetarian diet. What surprised me was 73% of the patients were able to adhere to the diet. What is even more impressive is that 92% of the patients were able to adhere to the diet after a 2 year period.

In the past I have wrote about the specific carbohydrate diet (SCD). The diet eliminates carbohydrates, dairy, and sugar products as it believed that these foods cause inflammation. As I wrote in that post a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology showed that after 1 year of the SCD diet 85% of patients who remained on the diet were still in remission.This study from 2015 of 50 patients that stayed on the specific carbohydrate diet and 52% of patients who were in remissions were able to stop medications.

The evidence in the recent case study of a patient shows that diet can play a role in helping Crohn's. The only issue I see is that this is only one patient and it would be good to see more studies with many people. However, the studies with the SCD diets show that people do in fact improve. My own personal (non medical view) is that that these diets may help some individuals with their Crohn's. It would be worthwhile for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundations of America (CCFA) to fund research to study this area further since it often isn't looked at. Hopefully this can be studied further to lead to better recommendations and ultimately be used to help the pain and suffering many are in from both Crohn's and inflammatory bowel disease.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Sore Throat, Antibiotics, and Mini Flare Last Night

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I haven't posted in a while since I have been feeling pretty well. Overall, my Crohn's has been in really good shape. I was even able to travel to London to visit my sister during the last week of May. While in London however the place my family stayed at didn't have any air conditioning so the windows had to be opened every night. Most of my life I really never had allergies. However, when I was younger I had an isolated incident of asthma but rarely took allergy pills. Well while in London leaving the windows open every night and letting in all the pollen and other interesting things in the air led me to have to take Claritin of the week long trip.

My throat felt sore but I didn't have any other symptoms (not stuffed up, coughing, or anything else). When I got back to my states I saw my internist and she suggested I take an allergy pill and he prescribed an antibiotic just in case. He told me to take the allergy pills for a couple of days and if I still wasn't feeling well to take the antibiotic. To be proactive I started the probiotic a few days before I started the antibiotic just to be safe. Within a day of taking the antibiotic the tickle I had in my throat went away and I was back to feeling normal. I took the antibiotic as prescribed 2 times a day for 10 days and really didn't have any stomach issues. Some days I did feel just a tiny bit nauseated but didn't have any diarrhea or any loose bowel movements. 

So last night I stayed up somewhat late (until about 1:30 A.M.) but as I was going to bed I felt some pain in my stomach. Sometimes there is a feeling of all this garbage in your stomach and it just has to get out. Well the garbage got out over the next hour or too. I did feel relieved after it was all done and just sat and laid on my bed looking at my iPad until I feel asleep. I woke up early and was a little tired but able to work out today (but not as much energy as I usually have). I plan to go to bed early tonight and maybe even sleep in tomorrow. 

The only other compliant is I have seem to have gained some weight (I wasn't complaining when I was in the act of doing this). I weighed myself before today and came in around 165 lbs. For me I would feel comfortable being around 160 or so. The past few weeks at work have been super busy and I haven't been able to work out and have been kind of eating whatever. When I had a sore throat I was eating more ice cream in that week than I had ever eaten in many years (even had four scoops of ice cream-mix of chocolate and vanilla). 

Overall, things are good for now. The Fourth of July is coming up soon and I will get a day off plus my work schedule will settle down some and hopefully I can get back to the gym more often. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Grandma Passing, Stress, and Minor Cramping


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This past week was a little stressful. My grandmother of 98 years passed away. She lived in a nursing home for many years. My grandfather had lived with her up until he passed away in 2007 (he was born in 1921). Both lived a very good life and were kind and generous people. In my grandmother's later years she suffered from dementia. When she was in the nursing home me and my family would visit her weekly. However, over time her mental conditions deteriorated and she didn't recognize who we were. Grandma would have entertaining stories about her 5 husbands and what they did. This is a far cry from the grandmother that I knew growing up that would make me french toast, cakes, go on trips with, and have Sunday dinners with throughout the 1990's. Honestly, I think if my grandmother knew the kind of condition she was in she wouldn't want to live like that (but that is another topic for another day).

I found out my grandmother has passed on Wednesday night while I had just got done working out. Throughout the day I had been cramping (really more of the blunt stabbing pain with Crohn's) but it seemed to get worse Thursday and I felt tired. Friday I felt better and I got some pretty good sleep and today I feel pretty decent.

My workout routine is still going strong. I typically workout for 1 and half hours 3 times a week. My workout consists of free weights, strength exercises (biceps, triceps, etc), walking on the treadmill, and then I finish with the elliptical. Overall, I feel in pretty good shape. I at one point did have a personal trainer but feel I wasn't get the value out of that and they always do the exercises I wanted. Although, I would say I felt really sore after I was probably in the best shape ever of my life. Currently, I feel in good shape and may have loss a little of muscle mass but am quite happy with it. My weight is around 160 lbs (within the past few days it had reached 163). Feeling fit is always nice in terms of being able to fit into clothes and knowing every once in a while you can have a little extra to eat.

Overall, my health is quite well and I am always in awe of how successful my remission has been with Crohn's and how much of a miracle drug Humira has been. I am scheduled to see my gastro doc in May for a checkup (he books up months in advance!). The only thing I don't like is my gastro doc had his practice purchased my a large hospital. Before it was easier to schedule an appointment and I could talk to the nurse. These days I have go through someone else to do that. Also according to my internist my GI has more of a 9-5 job now that he works for a hospital and if he has a patient after hours someone else will admit the patient to the hospital. My internist is in a group practice and they have a younger GI that looks promising (however I wouldn't switch/also my GI is getting up in age and I could see him retiring within the next 10 years). All in all he has done a great job with me and I am grateful for where he has gotten me to.