Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Day in the Life: A Crohn's Flare During Pregnancy

People ask how I'm feeling a lot. There are maybe a handful of people I feel I can give an honest answer to, maybe. I'd really prefer that people didn't ask. 1. They don't really care, it's just the polite thing to say. 2. They don't want to know the real answer even if I wanted to tell them.

I turn down a lot of events and play dates these days. I haven't been able to do them. People ask, "oh, are you still getting sick?" My sick is much more than morning sickness, but since I'm pregnant everyone relates my "being sick" to normal pregnancy issues. That is not the case. I also have Crohn's Disease.



Yes, this is my 4th pregnancy, but it has been very different and much more difficult (I just hope that's not saying anything about the baby to come). During my previous pregnancies my Crohn's was under control, it was actually better than when I wasn't pregnant! (This post is about to get a little graphic, so if you just ate, turn away now) This pregnancy started with indigestion from the pits of hell (I also have GERD). It got so bad that I started to wonder if I had pancreatitis again. Then the diarrhea started. At first I told myself it was normal pregnancy hormones causing the change, or maybe the antibiotics I had for a sinus infection. It didn't get better.

I really knew something was wrong this time around, or at least had to stop denying it, when I traveled to Panama City in January for my grandma's birthday. The pain in my gut that day was something I hadn't experienced in years. By the end of the party I was having a hard time sitting up straight or standing. I wanted to curl up in a ball but what I really wanted was to go home and use my own bathroom.



Many people, understandably, think of someone with Crohn's Disease as just having to go to the bathroom a lot. While frequent trips to the bathroom are often a big part of the disease it is much more complicated than that. With Crohn's Disease, parts of the gastrointestinal tract (yes, the whole thing, mouth to bum, different/multiple sections depending on the patient) are inflamed. It is angry, it hates you, and it can be difficult for things to fit through. It hurts.

When in a flare (do I need to explain flare? My husband didn't know what it meant until recently. It essentially means the disease is active, symptoms are present; not in remission) I not only have to go to the bathroom frequently but I'm in pain. When I go to the bathroom, I'm not just passing the worst diarrhea ever. I'm passing mucus, blood, and completely undigested food. Sometimes one of those things is all I pass. If you've ever been disturbed by what you've seen in the toilet after you had a BM, imagine feeling like you have to go badly, then standing up to see a toilet full of blood. Remember I'm pregnant so I also get to pair this with morning sickness and this pregnancy everything makes me nauseated.

This is not only disturbing, annoying, and painful, it also means that my body is not absorbing the nutrients it needs to. I'm often dehydrated and borderline anemic. I'm also angry and tired and I have all the normal pregnancy woes as well.

It's 9:30 am and I've already gone to the bathroom 8 times today (and not because pregnant women pee a lot if you know what I mean). That being since about 6:30, I'm not counting the times during the night. 

I've only almost thrown up this morning, so that part it good.

I have 2 kids that are in school, I couldn't take them because I had to use the bathroom, my husband took them. Their school is two blocks from our house. I often can't make it there.

My youngest is home with me and I tend to let him watch more TV than I like because I can't do anything with him right now. I'm so tired, hurting, and uncomfortable. I never know when I'll have to get up and rush to the bathroom. 

I'm cooking some rice with extra water so I can drink it. It's supposed to help diarrhea, it hasn't worked so far.

Around lunch time my trips to the bathroom become less frequent, though no less urgent. We won't go anywhere today. I'm afraid to leave the house. What if I'm in the middle of a store and can't get to the bathroom in time? What if it happens while driving the van?

We haven't gone much of anywhere in weeks, months. We go to doctor appointments. I'll have a week that's like doctor appointment week. I'll see my OB, I'll see the maternal/fetal medicine doctor (for high risk pregnancies), and I'll see the gastroenterologist. Three weeks later I'll do it all again.

I have to make my appointments around lunch time or later. I used to do this so that husband could come on his lunch break but now it's more because that's when I'm less likely to be rushing to the bathroom. I have to take Imodium to be able to make it through the appointments anyway. I have to take children's Imodium, it's liquid and mint flavored. It's disgusting. Later I'll pay for taking it, but it's the only way I can leave the house.

By the afternoon I can sit outside for a while and watch Ben play. I'm afraid to move around too much. It's uncomfortable and it might make me have to go to the bathroom. 

I can pick the older kids up from school, I'm worried about how long I might have to wait in line but I do it. Ben gets a nap when we get back home. I really want a nap.

I really don't feel like helping Will with homework but if I save too much for husband to help with then he can't help me with supper or occupy the kids while I cook. I'm irritable and snappy.

The evening goes by fairly normally, just with more moodiness and exhaustion from me.

It's about time for bed now so, of course, the frequent bathroom trips start up again. I'll go 3-4 times over the next 2 hours. When I finally lay down in bed, I have about 5 minutes until I have to jump (as well as a largely pregnant woman can) up out of bed and rush to the bathroom.

Tomorrow we start it all over.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Fear

Nearly everything I do, or don't do, is because of fear. I'm probably afraid of you. Is fear the opposite of love? I don't think I agree with that. I think you can love and fear at the same time, after all, we're supposed to fear God. In that sense fear is part of respect. The problem with our earthly love and fear is that our love is flawed. "Perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18) I am far from perfect.

Sometimes I don't even try. I'm afraid of failure. I already feel like I've failed at so many things. I'm constantly letting people down, so I don't commit myself to things. I'm afraid of helping wrong, not saying the right things, not saying enough, saying to much, not playing the right role. It makes me so anxious that it's crippling. I'm always disappointing someone. Especially myself.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cathartic

ca·thar·tic \kə-ˈthär-tik\  adjective

:  of, relating to, or producing catharsis
<cathartic drugs> <a cathartic experience>

Origin

Early 17th century (in medical use): via late Latin from Greek kathartikos, from katharsis ‘cleansing’ (see catharsis).
catharsisnoun
the process of releasing strong emotions through a particular activity or experience, such as writing or theatre, in a way that helps you to understand those emotions

(source: dictionaries)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Friday Five! Things I'm Looking Forward To

What do you mean it's not Friday? Who cares?! That's just another thing to look forward to, right?

1. My first triathlon. It's less than 2 weeks away, yo! I'm starting to actually feel ready for it. I might not even be the last out of the water, especially if I'm able to use my snorkel. One thing I'm still undecided about is which shoes to wear for the run. I want to go sockless to save time but haven't decided which of my running shoes are best for that; I know it's not the Zealots.

2. Saucony Zealot ISO 2. The second iteration of my favorite running shoe just came out and I can't wait to try it. I'm on a bit of a spending restriction right now (oops) but I'm sure I'll get them before November, so it will be between this, the original Zealot (which would mean buying my third pair), and the Altra Torin 2.0 as my marathon shoe. I don't know if I will choose the blue or the silver, the third color is just plain ugly. Both?


















3. My first marathon. Okay, it's not until November, but I'm looking forward to the training. I enjoy the process. The last training plan I strictly followed, I had built myself using the book You (Only Faster) and I even look forward to building my marathon plan. Between now and then I'll be working on getting my base mileage back up, as I know the long runs on my plan will start at 14 miles. My most recent long run was 8 and I'm planning on 10 for this weekend.



4. Having a stove/oven again. This is only non-running item on the list. I think it's still running related though cause you eat to fuel your body for running and it's much easier to eat well when you have a stove to cook your food. We've been without a stove for over a week now but the new one should be coming tomorrow! The old one tried to burn a hole in our wall and it wasn't even turned on at the time! We're just glad we were at home and my mom was in the kitchen at the time it happened to notice something wasn't right. Who knows what would have happened otherwise.


5. Another 5k PR. I don't even know if I should put this in the list cause I don't know if it will happen anytime soon. I just feel like I'm not getting any faster. I am actually doing the work now though. I did one day of speed intervals a week for 3 weeks and now I'm on my last week of 3 weeks of hills. I've also been adding some strides onto the end of my easy runs. Once my triathlon is complete, I should have more time for running and might be able to keep a day for speed work while adding a tempo day, but then I worry about my recovery time suffering. If that becomes an issue, I'll alternate between speed work and tempo runs. By then though, it will be time to start training for my marathon. Eeeek.

What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Summer Running Guide Part 2: Sunscreen

Every time I start thinking about going out for a run during the day without sunscreen (because I'm eager to get going or it's time consuming, smelly, greasy, or whatever), I remind myself of this female triathlete I saw once whose skin was so leathery from years of sun exposure that she could outdo a cow hide for who would make the best couch.

I think of all the attempts at getting a good tan I made when I was younger and wish that I knew better. I have light skin and I don't have any problem with that these days. I'm fine with being "pale" and sunscreen is a lot more affordable than skin cancer, and I'm not just talking about money.

Convinced yet?

If you're running during daylight hours, you need sunscreen on. This isn't just for summer, but it is more of an issue in the summer due to several factors. First of all, we're typically outside more in the summer. The sun is out for longer during the summer, if you usually run in the evenings, 5pm may be dark in the winter while it doesn't get dark until nearly 9pm in the summer. The sun is also closer in the summer, so the UV index (and your chances of getting burned) is higher. Please note that you don't have to get a sunburn to get skin cancer and even if you are lucky and escape cancer, the sun is still damaging your skin.

Sunscreen choices are also more complicated for running in the summer because of the heat. Some sunscreens just don't let you sweat well, and you need to sweat when it's hot. Then when you do sweat, you don't want a sunscreen that is going to run into your eyes and sting. So you have to find one with a good balance of breath-ability and water/sweat resistance.

Here is where I'm going to save you some trouble! Over the past few years of running in the sun, I have tried more than a couple of sunscreens and can share my knowledge with you.

Let's start with a couple of basics:


These are my everyday products. Olay Complete all day moisturizer with SPF 15 for sensitive skin is what I put on my face every morning. I actually use it on my face for running often because it does not sting my eyes (the Neutrogena face moisturizer I used before this would not only sting my eyes but my whole face when I would sweat). It does tend to sweat off though. The Neutrogena Ultra Sheer is what I use on my arms regularly if I know I'm going to be outside a lot. I like it because it doesn't feel like you're wearing sunscreen and has a light smell that's tolerable enough for daily use without feeling like you smell like sunscreen all the time. It's not as bad at sweating off, but it does sting the eyes and makes me feel hot.

Now for some more traditional sunscreens you would use for the beach or swimming:


These two products are pretty much the same. I bought the one of the left one year and liked it, when I went to buy it again they didn't have it but they had the one on the right. The ingredients are near identical. Kids sunscreens like these are good for sensitive skin and for parents because you might as well use the same sunscreen you use for your kids. These work pretty good for running but make sure the bottle hasn't expired. We faced that issue at the beach over the weekend and everybody got at least a little sunburn even though we applied thoroughly and reapplied according to the instructions. Right now I can't remember if these sting my eyes but I know I don't use them on my face when I run so that must be either because they sting or give my face that skin can't breathe, hot feeling. I tend to use these on my body and the Olay moisturizer above on my face.



Bull Frog Moisquito Coast might be a good option if you're running trails or anywhere else where there might be bugs (like my yard). I like this for the kids when we play outside because I don't have to worry about putting two products on them, however, it's not that great of a bug repellent. It does protect against the sun but it's a bit greasy feeling and don't even think about using it on your face if you're going to be sweating a lot. Avon makes a similar product, I find this one to be slightly more effective as a repellent. 

Sunsect is another combo product I've tried, but it's a lotion. I haven't used it enough to give much opinion.

Now for "Sport" specific sunscreens:


I feel like this Neutrogena CoolDry Sport is the only sport specific sunscreen worth mentioning because it's actually different. If you look at the ingredients of most "sport" sunscreens you will find they are nearly the same as the kids sunscreens.

I will admit that I was pulled in by the advertising of this product, the allure of the "micromesh" that lets your skin breathe naturally got me. I bought the lotion first and I love how it doesn't give my skin that hot feeling. I've seen some reviews where users complained about it being hard to wash off, they must not be using soap or a washcloth because it's a non-issue for me. The only downside to this sunscreen is that it still stings my eyes. The spray was part of a race swag bag, I like the convenience and quickness of spray but it's a little greasy and I'm always afraid I'm going to miss a spot when I use it.

When I run or ride my bike during the summer (or any sunny day) I use either the Neutragena Sport or the Banana Boat kids lotion (whichever I find first) on my body and the Olay on my face. I'd like to use a higher SPF on my face but so far most products are irritating in some way.

There are still some other sunscreens I would like to try, like a few mentioned in a recent Runner's World article. Those include No-Ad, Coppertone Faces, and Promise Organic. If you've tried any of those let me know what you thought.
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