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Stress Relief for Chronic Illness: Techniques I Use

In my previous post, I discussed why stress can be particularly bad for those of us who suffer from chronic illnesses.  In this post, I share some techniques that I use to relieve stress and also give some ideas for stress relievers that you may want to try to incorporate into your routine.

These techniques could work for anyone who wants to reduce the impact stress has on their life.  Reducing stress is important for all, however, people with chronic illness have even more reason to try to reduce stress.

Stress Relievers I Use

Stress relief techniques vary widely and what works for me may not work for you.  I believe it is important to try a variety of stress relieving techniques to find out what works best for you.  I particularly love yoga, meditation, and reading.

Yoga

Yoga works for me because I am able to work out tension.  When I am stressed, tension builds up in my neck, upper back, and shoulders.  Yoga has proven an effective tool to combat the physical manifestations of my stress.  I am constantly amazed at how little practice I need to find relief!Yoga for stress relief

If you want to try yoga at home, check out this YouTube video for beginners.  I actually had this video as a VHS tape (!!!) and started practicing yoga using this video when I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.  I found it very helpful and a great intro to yoga.  Another option is to look into a class in your area.  Classes offer better instruction than videos and allow for proper guidance to help avoid injury.

Meditation

Meditation is something I know I benefit from, but honestly, I am not great at practicing it.  I have the Headspace app on my phone and find it very useful, but my meditation habits ebb and flow quite a bit.  I still think the Headspace app is great, I just haven’t bit the bullet and paid for a subscription (to access more meditations) when I know I won’t consistently use the app.  I’ve found other ways to

meditation for stress reliefcenter myself and meditate, like the book Find Your Happy by Shannon Kaiser.  It has a daily meditation that only takes a minute to read.  It is amazing how often the daily meditation that I read applies to my life in some way.  I love it!

Reading

I find reading for fun is a great escape into another world.  I enjoy a variety of genres but my current favorites are mystery/thriller novels and the classics.  Some recent books I’ve enjoyed are Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews, The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and, The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho.  I have also been known to enjoy a little bit of science fiction and romance like Artemis by Andy Weir and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Reading helps me fall into someone else’s life and for a time, allows me to leave all my worries behind.  The best books are the ones I continue thinking about when I’m not reading that book.  I know I’m loving the story, plot, and characters when that happens!reading for stress relief

Other Ways to Reduce Stress

Here are some more ideas to reduce stress and the havoc it wreaks on your body.

  • Prep your food for the week on Sunday.  This can be helpful if you get stressed out by having to think about your meals throughout the week.  This can be breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or just one meal for the week, such as dinners only.  It’s amazing how meal prepping can greatly reduce the stress around meal times.  Pinterest has some great meal prep ideas and you can check mine out here.
  • Listen to music. Particularly calming or instrumental music.  I love piano and string instruments together and find it very relaxing and calming.  One of my favorite Spotify playlists is called “Peaceful Piano”.  Spotify also has playlists that are specific to relieving stress.  Pandora, Apple Music, and other music streaming services probably have great playlists, too!Listen to music for stress relief
  • Unplug.  Try to completely unplug when you leave work.  Mentally unplugging from issues going on at work on your drive or commute home can really help reduce stress.  Often, nagging issues at work actually get figured out by your subconscious when you actively try not to think about them.  A bonus is your family and friends feel like you’re truly engaged and not just going through the motions as you are being distracted by those nagging work issues.
  • Limit screen time.  Give yourself a break from your smartphone, tablets, computers and other devices.  While I think these devices can be a great stress reliever in some instances, like trying to take your mind off of a particularly stressful issue, they can cause some harmful side effects.  This article discusses some of the reasons we all need to cut back on screen time.
  • Hug!  Physical touch can be a great stress reliever and hugging in particular.  Here’s a great article on the benefits of hugging.
  • Other ways to relieve stress include getting a mani/pedi, getting a massage, going for a walk, watching a movie, watching funny YouTube videos, etc., etc.  Really, anything that takes your mind off what might be causing you stress.

There are so many ways to reduce stress.  I hope this list gives you some ideas to try to reduce or relieve stress; or at least reminds you to take time to care for yourself.  When you aren’t doing well, it is difficult to care for others (family, friends, pets, etc.)

What do you do to reduce stress?  Are there any particular stress relievers that have worked for you that I didn’t cover?  I’d love to hear them!  Please leave a comment below, or, email me here.

Thanks for stopping by,

Colleen

Stress Relief for Chronic Illness: why do we need it?

Stress is a huge part of flare-ups for myself, and I’m sure for others with chronic illness. This article is an intro to why I believe stress relief and self-care are two things people with chronic disease should practice.

How stress affects me

I am not quite in remission, but my Crohn’s flare-ups have been few and far between lately.  Still, I think about my disease at all times of the day. When I wake-up, when I’m making breakfast, when I’m heading out to run errands, etc.  I am pretty much always thinking about how Crohn’s might affect my day. In big and little ways, my disease has trained me to think this way.

This does not mean I am negative or constantly anticipating the worst.  I have learned, usually the hard way, that I MUST prepare myself.  This can cause my body to be in a constant state of stress and tension.

Any of this sound familiar to you?  Does stress affect your life on a daily basis?

What is stress?

Merriam-Webster.com defines Stress as “the physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”.  Let me just repeat that last part, “and may be a factor in disease causation”.  Wow.

I know, I know.  There are a lot of people out there who have a lot of stress and don’t have a chronic illness or disease.  That doesn’t mean they won’t, eventually.  Leaving the discussion of what caused your or my chronic illness to another time; what is it about stress that affects those of us who already have a chronic disease?

Why is stress so bad?

In this super scientific article from sciencedaily.com, the authors (scientists) state that “chronic psychological stress is associated with the body losing its ability to regulate the inflammatory response” and this “can promote the development and progression of disease”.  The article goes on to discuss how bad increased inflammation is to our bodies, but this article goes even further.  The second article even goes into how spices like turmeric might help control inflammation.  This is something I discussed in another article on turmeric titled “Can You Add Turmeric To That?“.  Suffice to say, those of us with chronic disease really should try to reduce and limit the amount of stress our body is exposed to as one way for us to help keep inflammation down.

Let’s get rid of stress!

Now that we know why stress is bad for us, my next article will discuss what works for me and what is recommended by healthcare professionals to reduce the effects of stress.

Do you have a chronic illness and have noticed that stress affects you in a specific way?   I’d love to hear from you!  Please leave a comment below, or email me here.

Till next time!

Colleen

Migraines

My first Migraine

I experienced my first migraine when I was 27, about 4 or 5 months after giving birth to my daughter. It was mid-morning on a Saturday, my husband was in the living room with our daughter, trying to let me sleep after a rough night with the baby.  At some point my husband came in to check on me and found me in the fetal position, crying from the pain.  He knew something was very wrong and we went to the ER.  The pain was so bad, I couldn’t remember my own phone number as I was trying to fill out the paperwork. I don’t remember much after that but at some point, the pain got even worse and I began throwing up. Now, I’ve been through pain before. I have Crohn’s disease and I’ve been through childbirth so, I know pain. This was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

At that point, the doctors weren’t sure if I was having an aneurysm or a migraine. But the only way to check if I was having an aneurysm was to check my spinal fluid. One of the side effects of having a spinal tap done is a very bad headache that can last 2 weeks. I was given the choice and chose to skip the spinal tap. Since I was still nursing my daughter, I wasn’t able to take migraine medicine. So they sent me home. I don’t remember how long it took for that migraine to go away. The IV fluids they gave me in the hospital helped and I’m pretty sure the migraine was lessening when they sent me home. I was told ways to avoid another migraine and was told what to keep an eye out for if I was indeed having an aneurysm. Luckily it wasn’t an aneurysm.

Here’s What Works for Me

Since then, I’ve had many, many migraines.  While migraines are not caused by my autoimmune disease, it is something I know a lot of people suffer from.  I created this blog as a way to help others dealing with similar issues, so, here’s what works for me when a migraine strikes.

Migraine
All of these can be found on my nightstand during a migraine.

Obviously, avoiding a migraine altogether is the best thing, so, stay hydrated and avoid the things that are triggers for you.  But, we all know, we can do our best and still get a migraine.  For those times, here is a list of things that I always try to keep on hand and travel with:

  1. WATER – sip or gulp as much as you can, without throwing up.  If nausea is a symptom for you, gulping might not be a good idea.  But get that water in your system ASAP.
  2. Peppermint Essential Oil – this is such a great oil to keep on hand when you feel the first hints of a migraine – whatever that might be for you.  I rub a drop across my forehead, my temples and the back of my neck.  It is so soothing and can help me bridge the time if I need to get home before taking my migraine meds (which I try to avoid taking while out of the house).
  3. Eye Mask – I keep an eye mask by my bed to help block out light during a migraine.  My room can’t get as dark as I’d like, especially in the summer or on a sunny day.  I thought I wouldn’t like using an eye mask because my head and eyes are so sensitive during a migraine, but I have never noticed an issue.  I’ve used several different types, even the kinds you get on an airplane, and they seem to work great.  My favorite, though, is one that has a velcro strap and foam mask with earphones.  I can connect it to my iPhone and listen to relaxing music or an audiobook.  Here‘s the one I use but a washcloth or other small towel would work, too.
  4. Pepto Bismol – For nausea and/or vomiting.  I prefer the tablets, but the liquid kind is fine, too.
  5. A Bucket – For possible vomiting.
  6. Audible & Music – There are 2 app’s that have helped me a lot during a migraine.  Audible is an audiobook app and I have a specific book I always keep saved on that app for when I need to zone out.  It’s a book I’ve read many times and don’t feel the need to pay attention to the story.  Plus, I happen to like the narrators’ voice of this particular audiobook, so that helps.  The other app is called Relax Melodies.  It has lots of white noise type sounds pre-loaded and you can choose one to play for as long as you want, or you can play several sounds all layered on each other at the same time.  I like these app’s because they help me focus my mind on something while trying to relax.
  7. Migraine Medicine – I always keep this with me.  If I’m at home, I take it as soon as I realize I’m getting a migraine.
Daily Maintenance

To try to avoid migraines altogether, I try to stay hydrated but I also take a couple supplements daily to try to ward them off.

  1. CBD Oil – As stated in my guest post about CBD Oil, it gives people an all natural, organic, non-GMO way to help with pain.  While I do not use Hempworx brand, I do use an ingestible liquid form that is CO2 extracted.  In my view, if it can’t hurt, why not.
  2. Natural Vitality Magnesium supplement drink – This drink is marketed as a stress reliever and maybe that’s why it works, but magnesium has been shown to help migraine sufferers (you can read up on it here and here).  This drink mix works for me and I buy it here.

I hope both lists help you think about what things you might want to add to your arsenal for when you have a migraine.  Best wishes to as few migraines as possible!!  And as always, if you have anything to add or wish to tell me about a product that works well for you, I’d love to hear it!  You can email me here or leave a comment below!

6 Mood Boosters for Chronic Illness Sufferers

6 Mood Boosters for Chronic Illness Sufferers

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get pretty down. It could be from a prolonged flare-up or I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. In these instances, I need a way to boost my mood. Here are some of the things that work for me. I hope they work for you, too.

Please note, these are not treatments for true depression.  If you feel you may be experiencing a depressive episode, please see a professional therapist.

Get a Dammit Doll

Do you have a Dammit Doll? If not, get one! They’re hilarious and actually do help in getting some frustrations out. You can grab the doll by its arm or leg and then whack it against something like your bed, the wall, the couch, a table, or whatever hard surface you have handy that can take being whacked by a doll. When I do this, it helps me release some pent-up anger. I usually end up giggling afterward simply because, well… it’s a freaking doll that I’m whacking against the wall. If you don’t have a Dammit Doll, or don’t want one, screaming into or punching a pillow also works!

Breathe Deep

I know, I know, so over-said these days. But really, it works. Sometimes, when we are frustrated or angry, our amygdala is taking charge. The amygdala is the oldest part of the brain, my therapist described it as the cave-man part of the brain. So, we just need to take a minute to let our cave-man brain catch up and allow the rest of the brain to “light up”. It really is amazing how often this works for me. It also helps me when I’m tense. It reminds me to release some tension that I hadn’t realized I was holding.

Mood Booster
Crank up the mood boosting!
Get Into Nature

If you are mobile, this is a great way to shake off cabin fever from being stuck inside from a flare-up for a while. Getting outside for a walk in the woods is my favorite thing to do, I just don’t always make time to do it. Going back to our cave-man days, this is something people who live in large cities often are missing out on (unless you live in a place with great parks where it feels like nature – not just a playground). Studies, like this one, have shown that getting out in nature often can contribute to lower rates of depression.  If you aren’t able to get out for a long walk, even just a drive in the country can be refreshing.  Roll down the window and enjoy the fresh air flowing over you.

Go Shopping

Online shopping spree! A little retail therapy can be amazingly mood boosting. If you’re like me, though, and shouldn’t spend a lot of money, filling up an online shopping cart on Etsy or Zulilly can be just as fun. I prefer Zulily because I can just leave the shopping cart full until the items are no longer available (I don’t have to go and delete the cart myself like I do on Etsy when I realize I really shouldn’t buy those items). Plus, since Zulily is a discount site, I get the bonus feeling that I’m saving money – even if I don’t actually place the order! It’s weird, I know but hey, it works!

Bath Time

Depending on your ability to climb in and out of a bathtub or ability to stand for a few minutes will determine which option is right for you. In either case, adding some essential oils for mood-boosting can add to boosting your mood. In a bath, just add the oils directly to the water. In a shower, drop a few drops of oil along the edge of the shower stall or tub; this creates an aromatherapy spa-like feel. I use bergamot, peppermint or eucalyptus. Lemon, Lavender, Rosemary or Cinnamon are also great.

Mood Boosters
Self Care is so important!
Phone a Friend

Sometimes we just need to vent. In those cases, having a few people on hand that you can let loose on is indispensable. A spouse or partner is great but they can get overwhelmed trying to be our fixer for a lot of our health situations. When we just need to vent, a friend is the best person to call on. Give your friend a call, arrange a coffee/tea date or invite them over to your house. Having a friend who doesn’t care how messy your house is, is the BEST. And when we’ve been in a flare-up, messes are inevitable. So call that friend over and vent away!

I hope at least one of these options help you out when you feel like you need (or are ready for) a mood booster. It’s true that sometimes we want to wallow in the sadness, and that’s okay, too! But when you’re ready, try one of these and see if it helps you out.

Do you do any of these already?  Do you have other ideas?  I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below or, email me here.

-Colleen

Hearty Tuscan Sausage and Bean Soup

Hearty Tuscan Soup

This time of year I get in the mood for soups and stews and this Tuscan Sausage and Bean soup definitely fits the bill.  It’s easy, hearty and even has pureed (canned) pumpkin to make it even healthier and heartier.

SoupWhat You’ll Need:
  • 1 sweet or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 links of Italian chicken sausage, chopped into 1/2 inch thick rounds
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning (or 2 teaspoons each of dried Rosemary and Thyme)
  • 6-8 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag of frozen kale/spinach or about 2 cups fresh kale/spinach (or whatever greens you have on hand)
  • 1 bag of frozen green beans (canned green beans would work, too) or fresh or frozen broccoli or zucchini (again, whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • Optional: grated parmesan cheese
DirectionsSoup
  • In a large soup pot or dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, celery, and carrots, with a little salt and pepper, and saute in the olive oil until soft.
  • Add the sausage and garlic, saute for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning, with a little more salt and pepper.  Stir and let the seasoning meld with the other ingredients for about a minute or 2.
  • Dump in the chicken stock, pumpkin puree, cannellini beans, kale, green beans and bay leaves.  Stir and bring to a low boil.
  • Turn down to low and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • If you aren’t eating right away, keep stirring the soup every so often to make sure the pureed pumpkin doesn’t settle on the bottom and burn.
Great Pantry Meal

Keeping all of these ingredients on hand (in your pantry or freezer) makes this soup an easy weeknight meal. You don’t have to go shopping the day of to make it, just keep a few things on hand and you’re good to go!

Soup
I added the entire baggie of Kale and about 3 handfuls of the green beans for the soup.

I try to buy all of my canned goods at Costco, especially since a lot of their canned goods are organic now.  Items like diced tomatoes, green beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, etc.  Other items, like cannellini beans or canned pumpkin puree I buy at the grocery store when it goes on sale.    Also at Costco, I purchase and freeze things like spinach, kale and fresh green beans (harit coverts).  This type of prep helps me make healthy soups and stews so much faster!

Wonderbag

If you have a Wonderbag, this is a great soup for it!  Just follow all of the same directions until you bring the soup to a low boil.  At that point, continue boiling for a minute or 2 and then turn off the heat; prep your Wonderbag and carefully place the soup pot in the Wonderbag, tighten it all up and leave on the counter until you’re ready to eat!

If you aren’t familiar with a Wonderbag, check it out here.  My brother gave me mine a couple years ago and we love it!  It’s a very similar idea to a slow cooker but uses even less energy.  Additionally, when you buy a Wonderbag for yourself or as a gift, a Wonderbag is donated to a family in need in a developing country.  Win, win!

What do you think?  Leave a comment below, or email me here.  I’d love to hear from you!

Blue Sky Tag Challenge

The Blue Sky Tag Blog Challenge

Calibrating Crohn’s was nominated for The Blue Sky Tag Challenge!

I was nominated for this challenge by Crisly at Empowering and Uplifting. Thank you Crisly!  Here goes…

My Blue Sky Tag Challenge Questions:
  1. What fictional place would you like to go to? Pandora from Avatar  
  2. What takes up too much of your time?  Stress/worry.  This can be general or specific, but it definitely takes up way too much of my time.
  3. What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?  Probably simply being born into the family I was born into.  I feel very lucky to have the parents and brother I do.
  4. What are you absolutely determined to do?  Raise my children to persevere.  We all fail at something at some point so I hope to raise my kids to persevere through those times.
  5. They say that everyone has a book in them. What would your book be about?  Ooh, this is a tough question!  I have many book ideas rolling around in my head (which is why blogging is much better for me) but if I were to write a book, I think I’d focus on a fictional take on growing up in Southeast Alaska.
  6. As the only human left on Earth, what would you do? I would probably spend my time looking for other people (assuming I wouldn’t know I was the only human left on Earth).  I don’t think I would do well with no other human being to talk to.
  7. If you could convince everyone in the world to do one thing at one point in time, what would that thing be? To stop fighting, take time to understand where other groups of people are coming from (or try) and work to live harmoniously with all groups of people, especially people who are seemingly different from ourselves.
  8. What irrational fear do you have? Spiders.
  9. What’s the best and worst piece of advice you’ve ever received? Best: “This, too, shall pass” and worst: “You should lose weight”.
  10. When do you feel truly alive? Swimming in the ocean.  Which I do not get to do often enough!
  11. If you could make a 20 second phone call to yourself at any point in your life, past, present or future, when would you call and what would you say?  I would call myself at age 11 and tell myself not to compare myself with other girls, the only person I need to compare myself to is who I was yesterday.  Which probably wouldn’t have made sense to me back then, but hopefully the first part would sink in earlier than it did.
Blue Sky Tag Challenge Rules:
  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Answer their 11 questions
  3. Nominate (tag) 11 people
  4. Give them 11 questions to answer
My Blue Sky Tag Challenge nominees:
  1. Serenity
  2. The Financialholic
  3. Emelie Empire
  4. Fit Momma
  5. The Bumless Blogger
  6. My So Called Crunchy Life
  7. Women Inspiring Together
  8. Crushing Life With Crohn’s
  9. I Must Brie Crazy
  10. The Latte Mom
  11. Nature Is My Home
My Blue Sky Tag Challenge questions for you:
  1. If your job gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?
  2. Where do you get your news?
  3. What movie can you watch over and over without ever getting tired of?
  4. What’s the most epic way you’ve seen someone quit or be fired?
  5. What’s your cure for hiccups?
  6. In your opinion, what is something that will always be in fashion, no matter how much time passes?
  7. In the past, people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife, what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife?
  8. Who do you go out of your way to be nice to and why?
  9. What food have you never eaten but would really like to try?
  10. What was the last photo you took? (And post it).
  11. If someone narrated your life, who would you want to be the narrator?

To those who have been nominated, I look forward to reading your answers and see who you nominate!  Enjoy! -Colleen

Easy Peasy Blueberry Gummies for Gut Health

Gummies for Gut Health?  Yes!

These homemade gummies are made using Vital Proteins Gelatin from grass fed, pasture raised beef.  There is no flavor to the gelatin, so you will not be able to tell it is gelatin from beef.  Gelatin contains collagen, which is beneficial to our bodies in many ways, including for our joints, bones, hair, nails, and gut.

These are definitely not your kids’ gummies.  Though, your kids would certainly benefit from these gummies as well!  My kids don’t love the flavor of this particular recipe, but it would be easy to add a little honey, to make this more kid-friendly, if you are looking to share with your kiddos.

Easy Peasy Gut Healthy Blueberry Gummies

You Will Need:
Ingredients used

 

  • 1 cup fresh organic blueberries
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 T. Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin

 

Directions:
Bring blueberries, water, lemon juice and ACV just to a boil.
  • Place blueberries in a small or medium size saucepan with lemon juice, water and Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Bring just to a boil and turn off heat.
  • Place contents of the saucepan in a blender.  I used my Magic Bullet.  A hand blender would work just fine, too.  (If you use a hand blender, just make sure the sides of the saucepan are tall enough so that the hot liquid doesn’t splash out.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Add the Vital Proteins gelatin to the blender 1 Tablespoon at a time, blending thoroughly between each addition of the gelatin.
A little messy, but you get the idea 🙂
  • Carefully pour the liquid into a silicon mold, ice cube tray or glass dish.  (I used a silicon ice cube tray, you might need a couple trays, depending on how much liquid your molds hold.)
  • Let cool and set in the refrigerator about 30 minutes.

 

I store mine in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator, but I bet they’d be fine in a container in a cupboard or pantry, too.

Enjoy!

 

 

Have you made gelatin gummies before?  What did you think?  Leave a comment below or email me here.

-Colleen

Conversations with Specialists: Part 2

Recently, I took part in a Twitter Q&A about how Chronic Illness patients interact with their doctors. It’s something I’d never really given much thought to. I realized that I’ve learned some things along this journey with Crohn’s disease that I hope to share with other patients of chronic illness.  Below is Part 2, click here to read Part 1.

Part 2: What I Wish my Conversations With my Specialist Could be Like Now.

A few months ago I had an appointment with my Gastroenterologist (GI), where, among other things, I asked him what he thought about using marijuana as a treatment for Crohn’s disease.  Marijuana has been legal in my state for a couple years now, so it wasn’t like I was just looking for a way to get high, I can do that legally if I want (though, for the record, I do not).  It’s not about the high, it’s about the possible healing effects that I was interested in.  (Which is why I eventually looked into CBD oil.  You can check out my guest post on CBD here).

He immediately made me feel like an idiot for asking and poo-pooed the idea that marijuana can be helpful to people with Crohn’s disease.  In fact, he stated that he had never seen any evidence that marijuana can help Crohn’s disease.  Which was surprising since, even without doing any real research, I’d heard that people with Crohn’s disease were getting medical marijuana cards way before marijuana became legal in our state.  If you’re interested, here’s an article from Everyday Health that discusses medical marijuana for treating Crohn’s disease.

What I Wish My Doctor Had Said to Me

I’m sure he didn’t mean to make me feel like an idiot and frankly, I allowed him to make me feel that way.  However, this situation could have been handled so very differently.  Even if his preconceptions about marijuana weren’t obviously bad, what I wish he’d done is;          1. Ask me a few follow-up questions about my motivations for wanting to look into marijuana as a treatment for Crohn’s disease.  2. Offer to look into it for me.  3. Actually look into it and get back to me.  4. Refer me to another specialist or doctor who might have genuine information about it.  Anything other than complete dismissal would have been nice.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is just one example of how I wish conversations with my specialist could be better.  The above suggestions to improve the conversation, however, can be applied to just about any doctor-patient conversation.  I am constantly trying to find other therapies that might work to help heal my gut.  I’m sure I’m not the only patient who seeks answers to their questions about their own illness.  So I’m probably not the only patient who brings seemingly unusual ideas up to their doctors!

As I stated in Part 1, my hope is that these articles, if read by doctors, are taken as suggestions for having productive conversations with their patients.  These types of conversations can lead to really great doctor-patient relationships, which I certainly hope is what all doctors want!

Specialists
Conversations with Specialists: Part 2

 

 

As always, I’d love to hear your comments or questions on this subject.  You can leave a comment below, or email me here.

 

Conversations with Specialists: Part 1

Recently, I took part in a Twitter Q&A about how Chronic Illness patients interact with their doctors. It’s something I’d never really given much thought to. I realized that I’ve learned some things along this journey with Crohn’s disease that I hope to share with other patients of chronic illness.

Part 1: What I Wish my GI Had Said to me When I Was First Diagnosed

Here’s what I wish my specialist had said to me from the very beginning: “You have Crohn’s disease. This is not a death sentence but it is incurable. Your treatment options are medication, surgery, or diet changes. The pro’s and con’s of each of those options are _________, _________, and ________. Which one would you like to try first”.  This is just the bare bones of what I wish I’d heard, but you get the gist.

When I was diagnosed, in 2001, there really wasn’t a lot of information out there for patients about people living with Crohn’s disease.  There certainly wasn’t Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to connect with people who were living healthy lives with Crohn’s through diet changes or medication or having had surgery (or a combination of all 3!).  So my complaint is with the understanding that this conversation wasn’t really possible 16 years ago.

Sometimes Specialists Forget You’re an Individual

That lack of connection to others going through a similar health issue/crisis made me even more reliant on my specialists.  Which, in turn, made it all the more necessary for my doctors to have had an understanding (and GASP! a little empathy) that I was scared and likely hanging on their every word as if it were gospel.  Too often, though, I was treated like a data set in some research paper. I wasn’t an individual, I was just the next patient they had to figure out what drug to try on me next.

Self-Advocating

It is really only as I have gotten older that I’ve done more of my own research and met with other doctors, including Naturopathic doctors, that I have gained more confidence in my ability to self-advocate.  Through that, I have started to question certain practices.  For instance, doctors in the US rely heavily on prescription drugs to “fix” their patients.  But it’s really just putting a band-aid on the problem.  Prescription drugs might work for a while, but it really never gets to the root of the problem.

This is understandable for when I was first diagnosed.  The research wasn’t there to show that there might be ways to get to the root of the problem, with my specific illness, at least.  Probiotics and CBD oil, for instance, are showing a lot of promise in helping to heal autoimmune diseases.

What’s the Good News?

If you are newly diagnosed with a chronic illness, please know that there are a lot of people who can help you navigate this very confusing new world you have entered.  Those people really do want to help others out!  I hope you’ll reach out to myself or others if you have questions.  Keep in mind, everyone is different; something that works for one patient, might not work for others.

And if you are a doctor with a specialty, please know that I am writing from my own experience.  I do not believe that all doctors treat patients as data sets, nor has that always been my experience.  My hope is that this post will bring some understanding for what it’s like to be a patient.

You can leave a comment below or email me here if you have questions, or just want to chat about this post.

Part 2 will discuss what I wish my conversations with my specialist could be like now.

Guest Post: CBD Oil

Guest Post: CBD Oil

This week, I’ve asked Karen Buck to help me get information out about CBD oil and how she uses it to help with her Crohn’s disease.  I recently started using CBD oil but am still a newby to CBD and wanted to get another perspective on it to share.  Karen sells CBD oil through a company called Hempworx.  -Colleen

CBD Oil for Crohn’s disease

Hi, my name is Karen and I’m writing to share some information about CBD oil. I started taking it for Crohn’s and arthritis due to Crohn’s.  My experience has been fabulous.  I was unable to walk some days due to my arthritis and joint pain and now I’m almost pain-free.  My stomach pain and constant bloating are greatly improved now, too.  I’m amazed at how great I feel.  I will always have Crohn’s but this is such a good feeling to be living my life again.

CBD Oil Helps Many People Struggling with a Chronic Illness

CBD oil is amazing for so many people in pain, struggling with disease, anxiety or mood disorders, skin issues and so much more.  CBD oil is taken sublingually, which is under the tongue, for best absorption.  People have also used it topically on acne, burns, joint pain, even chapped lips.  CBD oil is safe and effective for the whole family.  It is used to help children with ADHD, autism, and seizure disorders.  Pets can also benefit from CBD.  I personally give it to my dog for his reoccurring ear infections.  The infections are now gone.  My friend uses it with rescue horses that have horrible pain and she has noticed a remarkable improvement.  CBD oil is really changing people’s lives.  It’s giving them an all natural, organic, non-GMO way to help with pain.  Many are getting off dangerous medications as well.  I personally have stopped taking my Puraxin.  I am not a doctor so I can not make claims of CBD curing people and I will never condone getting off medication without consulting your Doctor.  We are really just scratching the surface of what CBD can do.

Hempworx

What I use is CBD Hemp which is extracted in the male hemp stalk.  It is completely different than extracting it from the female cannabis plant that has THC.  Some companies claim to have higher CBD % but that is not the case because they extracted it from the female plant and infused it in the Hemp male oil.  The Hempworx extraction method is superior because it is the entire male plant within re-introduction, therefore getting CBD, CBC and CBG; all of which makes it stand out from the rest.  We also use a CO2 extraction which is the cleanest and most effective method.

Does CBD oil contain THC?

Hempworx only uses .03% THC in our product so you will not feel high.  In fact, CBD is legal in all 50 states, Canada, the U.K., and many more countries.  People often ask if they will pass a drug test taking it.  Yes!!! The tiny amount of THC will not show on a test.  In fact, we have the lowest ratio in industry standards.  The allowed amount is .3%.

Carrier Oils

Additionally, something to look for when purchasing CBD is the carrier oil, and how much is used. We (Hempworx) use hemp seed oil as our carrier. Others may use olive oil or coconut oil.  An extra amount of carrier oil will not hurt you, but some companies use so much that you may not feel as much in terms of health benefits and results.

Facebook

I have a Facebook group loaded with information and real testimonies from people taking CBD oil.  Please check it out; you are welcome to invite people you think might benefit from the group.

https://m.facebook.com/groups/634219913441352

How to Buy CBD oil from Hempworx

I loved my results with CBD oil so much, I joined the company!  I work with Hempworx brand CBD so the testimonies on my page are all users of Hempworx brand.  I’m happy to help with dosing, questions, research and anything related to CBD oil.  You can private message me through my group page above.  Thank you for reading and I urge you all to give it a try. With Hempworx we have a 30-day empty bottle money back guarantee. Here is the link to purchase:

www.hempworx.com/kbuck

All my best,
Karen