My Bog Blog Intro
Welcome to my Bog Blog. "Bog," by the way, is British slang for toilet and it seems so appropriate for an IBD blog.
If you had told me when I was twenty years-old that some day not too far in the future I would be scoping out the nearest toilet wherever I went I would have said you were nuts. But, indeed, this odd habit became part of my reality by the time I was thirty, as did living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I can now locate a "bog" pretty much any where at any time, and having this uncanny knack does make living with colitis just a bit easier.
I was diagnosed with colitis in July, 1998. But my symptoms, which started as abdominal cramps and constipation, began when I was in high school - I was told I had a spastic colon and needed to learn to relax. During college symptoms were rare, and 1990-1995 saw bouts of diarrhea popping up here and there but not enough for me to really take note. My first severe bout of diarrhea was during my honeymoon. It was our first night on the island of St. Barthelemy. We had a fabulous dinner of fresh lobster, a bottle of wine, and a little bubbly back in our bungalow. I went to bed feeling happy and slightly tipsy. By 3:00 a.m. I was up and running to the bathroom with an urgent need to go. I spent the next two days in the bathroom. I even napped on the floor there because by the time I got back into bed I just had to go again. By day three my new husband called the island's doctor who recommended I take acidophilus pills, eat yogurt, and rest. Within a couple of days my gut had settled enough that I was finally able to leave our bungalow. I'm sure the proprietors of our accommodations thought we had been holed up for days in our bungalow for very different reasons!
After the honeymoon I was fine until 1997. Starting in September I was hit with urgent episodes of diarrhea that were accompanied with severe cramps, and dramatic weight loss - I lost nearly 20 pounds in six or seven months. By 1998, a colonoscopy shed light on the fact that I had colitis - just like my father. And a year later my GI also told me I had IBS as well. But, while I finally knew what was causing my problems I wasn't any closer to knowing how to live with this disease or its associated symptoms and complications. I spent the first few months after my diagnosis just trying to figure out how to control the severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Throughout the next five years I tried a lot of different things to help control the symptoms of my IBD. It took a lot of trial and error, many wrong turns, and a ton of patience from me and my husband, but finally I found a combination of things that have ultimately worked for me - I take Asacol daily, I've altered my lifestyle drastically, as well as my diet, and I've learned to listen to my body and what it needs.
While many GIs will say that diet doesn't affect IBD I believe, for me at least, that it does. If I drink cow's milk or coffee, or eat citrus fruits, red meat, raw veggies, melons, hot and spicy foods, or anything containing red food coloring or preservatives I can be assured I will suffer a bout of diarrhea within the next 24 hours. It's just how my body is. In order to find my food triggers I embarked on an Elimination Diet - an arduous, but very useful diet that helps you determine what foods are triggers for you and what foods you might actually be allergic to.
Stress is a huge trigger for me. Throw a good amount of stress into my life and my IBD symptoms rear their ugly heads - diarrhea, urgency, cramps, and fatigue. So, I've learned to slow down. Not always an easy thing to do in a world where we're constantly tethered to our computers, cell phones, and cars, but I've learned that if I run too hard, work too hard, or, even play too hard, I will pay the consequences. And I've learned that how fast and how hard I live my life truly is up to me. I have altered my lifestyle, I have slowed down, but I still live a good, full life with plenty of friends, adventure, travel, and relaxation. I now make time in my days for myself - this might mean reading a book, sitting on the front porch to take in the sights and smells, or chat with a neighbor. Yoga, Reiki, and meditation are new parts of my life that I find hugely rewarding both physically and mentally. I've changed how I work opting to leave my job in professional public relations in exchange for a life as a freelance writer - I make less money and have to pay for my own benefits, but I have more control over how I live, how I work, and how I play. And when a "bad day," as I've come to call them, pops up it's a lot easier to ask the boss for a day off.
I still have "bad days," sometimes even "bad weeks," but for the most part of the past three or four years flare-ups have been few and far between. But, I live a very different life today than I did prior to 1998. My husband and friends are tolerant of the changes I've had to make and I actually find my life better after my IBD diagnosis than before it. Now I appreciate every good day I have without symptoms or problems from IBD. And even on those now rare "bad days" I know relief is attainable and within my power.
A little more than a year ago I wrote and published a book titled: Living with IBD & IBS: A Personal Journey of Success. The book takes the reader through my journey of learning how to live a successful life despite these chronic, and frankly, embarrassing diseases. You can read excerpts and order it online at http://www.ibdandibs.com/.
I am thrilled that HealthCentral Network has provided us IBDers with our own web site, a place where we can forge our own community. I hope this space will be a safe place where we can share with each other our triumphs, our frustrations, and our day-to-day concerns about living with IBD. And I hope you'll continue to follow along with me on my bog blog.