• Trying to Stay Positive

    June 23, 2011

    Right now, I should be at the airport waiting to get on a flight to Boulder for the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference. But, sadly, I am sitting at my computer at home writing this blog post. Why, you ask? The short answer is my health.

    IMG_0006 (500x375)

    For the past three weeks, I’ve been battling some not-so-fun gastrointestinal issues. I’ll spare you the gory details, but, basically, I’ve spent a lot of time freaked out, uncomfortable, and in the bathroom. Let me tell ya, it’s been a rockin’ good time. I don’t want to get into too much detail because I really don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I will tell you what I know.

    After a bunch of tests last week, I was diagnosis with Colitis, which is swelling (inflammation) of the large intestine. The symptoms are belly pain, cramps, fatigue, diarrhea, bleeding, and other nastiness. Sounds just peachy, doesn’t it? I have no clue how it started and whether it is curable or something that I have to live with for the rest of my life. My doctor kind of sucks and won’t return my (many) phone calls, so I still have no clue what is going on with me. All I know is that I feel like crap and my symptoms are getting worse, not better.

    In fact, I feel so terrible that traveling across the country on a plane to a fitness conference where the focus is being active does not sound appealing at all to me (unless I want to risk pooping my pants). Even if I toughed it out and skipped the fitness activities, I know I wouldn’t enjoy myself because I’d want to participate in all of the fun. Being there and missing out would be even worse than not going at all. Plus, there might be another test in my future later this week, so I need to stay close to home.

    Obviously, I’m not a happy camper right now. I’ve always been healthy, so dealing with this type of stuff is really throwing me for a loop. The fact that my health insurance barely covers any of the medical costs is also really stressful. I’m truly in shock with regard to how much money I have spent in the last three weeks. Clearly, I am upset and frustrated about the whole situation. I just want to be well!

    Breakfast

    My doctor suggested limiting the high fiber foods in my diet to give my intestines a rest and minimize symptoms, so I’ve switched things up in the past few days. I finally nixed coffee (very sad) and beer from my diet. I’ve been eating fruits and veggies all along (I need the nutrients!), but I’m going to cut back and see what happens. Hopefully, a daily multivitamin will help me fill in the gaps.

    This morning, I ate scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese inside a tortilla. I’ve had zero appetite the last few days, but this breakfast actually tasted pretty good.

    IMG_0002 (500x375)

    This whole thing is crazy. I always joked that I had the “stomach of steel” because I could eat whatever I wanted and never have a problem. Now, pretty much everything I eat upsets my intestines.

    Please say some prayers for me. I’m really down in the dumps right now and struggling to stay positive, especially today since I had to cancel my trip to Boulder. I also didn’t sleep more than an hour last night. Wah.

    Question of the Day

    When something not-so-great happens to you, how do you stay positive?

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    { 522 comments… read them below or add one }

    Sarah June 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Tina,

    I realize I’m a little late on the commenting (busy week at work!) but I had to write because I can relate 100%. 2 years ago I went from having a stomach of steel to being crippled with indigestion etc etc (won’t go into details). I went through SO many tests until first they found my stomach ulcer and diagnosed me with ulcericitive colitis (colitis with ulcers). After fixing that, I still felt miserable.

    I used to eat ALL the time and workout 10+ hours a week, and then I could manage to eat maybe 1000 calories a day and I felt awful. Finally, almost a year later, I was diagnosed with celiacs disease. I know this may not be your case, but I would recommend getting tested. No one in my family has been tested for it (althoug we suspect my mom has it), so doctors were hesistant to test me, but I was just difficult until they would!

    Since I have stopped eating gluten, I am 100% better. I’m not the best celiac patient – sometimes I’ll fall off the bandwagon for a while, but then I when I behave again, I remember why that cookie isn’t worth it. I am now marathon training and eating my ridiculous amount of food (I eat more than my 6’5 boyfriend!) and have so much energy. I no longer spend hours in the bathroom. And it’s honestly easier than I thought. Since you bake a lot and make your own food, it’s much easier. I use almond flour and a ton of brown rice products. Also, b.good in Boston has gluten free buns so when I’m craving a burger, that’s where I go!

    Feel free to e-mail me if you have more questions! Good luck and I’m glad you’re seeking answers right away instead of suffering for a year like me :)

    Best,
    Sarah
    sreynolds@hbs.edu

    Reply

    Tina June 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    @Sarah: Thank you! :)

    Reply

    Melodie June 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I have to agree with Sarah here! Your symptoms sound just like mine. I was diagnosed with all kinds of things until (years later) a simple blood test was ran and it turned out I had Celiac disease. After 1 week of staying completely off gluten, my symptoms were gone. I still have a lot of healing to do though. Going gluten free has been the best thing for my health!

    Reply

    Christina June 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Hey Tina,

    I’ve also suffered from chronic GI issues and the docs have been pretty much unhelpful. Like you I used to eat a healthy, high fiber diet (lots of salads and raw fruits and veggies) but I was sick all the time. I know everyone is different, but cutting back on the offenders–dairy, gluten, raw and high fiber foods helps some. I’ve also found probiotics and digestive enzymes really helpful, as well as a number of other vitamins and supplements. I highly recommend Lindsey Berkson’s book, Healthy Digestion the natural way, for some valuable insight.

    Reply

    Lili June 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    I would highly recommend checking out Renew Life’s products- I dealt with this years ago and ended up working for the company several years, and Brenda Watson is one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve known in this arena. Their products helped me immensely. Believe me, I know what you’re going through.

    Reply

    Marci McDonald June 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Hello Tina,
    I am sorry to hear about your GI issues. I am sure you have been inundated with advice… A book that worked miracles with my cousin who had severe GI issues is Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet. http://www.breakingtheviciouscycle.info/
    Everyone has their opinions on what to do and what not to do, especially medical professionals. Many times, we end up being our own “doctor”… I hope you find a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner who will work with you to find relief. Take care!

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    Sarah @ Long Legs Healthy Life June 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Hey Tina, so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. A colleague of mine, (nutritionist)Meghan Telpner writes a blog about how she healed her own IBD diagnosis through nutrition. Here’s her website if you want to check it out http://meghantelpnerblog.com/ I hope you feel better soon!!

    Reply

    Holly June 25, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Hi Tina,
    I hope things start looking up for you.
    From a person that deals with stomach isssues every single day of my life (ugh!) I have some tips for you..
    I have Crohn’s disease, very similar to Colitis & sometimes they are actually used interchangeably. My Crohn’s is on the severe side & it has been actually up a LOT in the past year and a half. I just got married, and honestly the whole time I was worried that I might to the urge TO GO right when I got to the altar! AHH! How awful would that be?! But, thankfully I got through it.
    The other downside is that it has really really really affected my running. I now cannot run outside because everytime I have ran outside lately, I have needed to go..if you now what I mean :( It sucks. I have way to many stories of needing to find the nearest bushes. (sorry if tmi!) Now I stick to just running on the treadmill (since the bathroom is right near by), but I can’t tell you how much I wish I could run outside. And sometimes Crohn’s just drains you…so I really have to just remind myself how much I love to run so that I don’t let the disease get the best of me.
    Anyways, just wanted to tell you that I have had a TON of help since I have been taking a probiotic. I use the brand Culturelle & it has helped IMEMNSELY! I was on Humira, which was a shot that I had to have my husband give me every week (NOT FUN at all, hurt so bad!), but I didn’t feel like it was helping me enough to go through that much pain every week…that’s when I started to be religious about taking the probiotic & it has helped me so much more than the Humira ever did. I’m also on Lialda (3 pills a day) & that seems to be working, along with the probiotic.
    I told my doctor that I will NOT go on steroids (as they always suggest it for help with the inflammation), but I have been on them before (only for like 2 weeks) & HATED the side effects. So I have been trying other forms of medicine and natural remedies.
    The other thing is that the Crohn’s has made me lactose intolerant, so I avoid ALL kinds of dairy products. I drink almond milk instead.
    If you need ANY support, or need someone to talk to- please feel free to email me. I know it helped me having a support group while going through this…and it helps talking about it on my blog…it’s amazing how many people are going through the same thing.
    Just remember, you CAN fight this..and you WILL! You are such a strong woman Tina, this is just a tiny bump in the road.
    PS: I’m hoping to run the Vegas marathon in December for Crohn’s & Colitis– you should check it out too :) Hopefully you will be on some kind of medication that will help with the ‘urges’ so that you could train for it, if you wanted. They are sponsoring me on the trip & run, so I’m sure that would do that for you too! I mean, you are TINA with Carrots n’ Cake- we all love you :D

    Reply

    KerriAnn MacNeill July 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    @Holly: I’ll be running the Vegas Rock N Roll With Team Challenge New England! See you there!!! I’ll be the loud one on the team with crazy bows in my hair (i dunno – I might also bedazzle my singlet this year too!)

    Reply

    Doc (The Healthy PhD) June 25, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Again, late to the party, but I know you’re going to feel better soon. Just keep your chin up and consider a new doctor. They can make all the difference!

    Reply

    Lindsay June 25, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Now I’m the one who is crazy late on responding! Due to a move overseas to Korea, my hubs and I’s lives have been a bit askew…but reading cnc always makes me feel like I’ve come home…you are like a dose of medicine yourself. And when my medicine doesn’t feel good, I just want to help! I hope you are feeling better, and you are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers. I had a huge battle with doctors and insurance a few years ago over a nasal pollap. It was HUGE and in my sinus cavity and I am super healthy as well, so one health problem really sets me back, especially because I am a dancer. The pollap made my whole head hurt and face hurt, they put me on predinisone to shrink it but on it I was WILD! Keep your wits about you and fight for YOU and your HEALTH. The pollap was solved with a surgery and I am better today because I learned 1. to get 2nd opinions and stand up for my health 2. I had to rely on other people to help me, esp. after surgery. You have people that love and care for you, nows the time with being okay with them stepping up. 3. You WILL get better. You will feel better and this will all work itself out.
    I also believe that when I was younger and something negative happened, I would just wake up one day and feel better…so easy.
    Now I realize that as I mature, that waking up and everythings ok thing doesn’t always work. The only thing in this situation you have control of is your attitude. So pick positive and pick happy! Your happiness is a choice…and keeping positive and knowing you have control of that will get you through the physical discomfort.
    Sorry this was a novel. Thinking of you and wishing you well!

    Reply

    diana@mymarblerye June 25, 2011 at 10:32 am

    omg. Colitis is the worse. Especially if you are a foodie. I hope all is well!

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    BethT June 25, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Tina, I’m just now catching up on blog posts and saw this….hang in there, friend. I hope you get some relief (and answers!) SOON. BT

    Reply

    zahra June 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I got colitis when I was 18 and it went on for about 6 months before it just stopped and everything went a way. Then it came back when I was 25 for about 3 months until I went to the doctor and he gave me some steroidal medications that made it stop. Its been 4 years and I havent had a major flare up since. However, the stomach cramping is kind of off and on and never really goes away. I have tried to connect it with food I eat but Im not sure anymore. Basically the worst symptoms that I dont have to mention because you know what they are, can come and go through out your life but they usually do go away sometimes for years(: yay. I read your blog a lot and today when I say the colitis video it was so funny because I thought wow that’s what I had to do. There is current research that your gut bacteria actually have a lot to do with colitis and other IBD so you can look into that and the new thearpies they use to treat it now. Also see a dietitian to try and figure out how you can tweak your diet. I realized that bread makes me sick to my stomach, and I see that everytime I eat it.
    Good luck

    Reply

    Katherine June 25, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I’m just catching up on blog posts and I had to comment on this. I haven’t read through the other comments, but I’d imagine there are a lot of people who suffer from similar issues who can also relate. I began to have symptoms in college and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease about a year out of college. It was in my family history, so not completely shocking. But I can relate to the awful symptoms and overall miserableness. I had several years of trouble with it – I was also really bratty about taking the medicine and wasn’t as good to my body as I should have been. In law school I realized I couldn’t skip meds and I had to take it more seriously. Once I began regularly taking the medicine, my life and the side effects became much more manageable. Despite Crohn’s, I still run numerous races every year and run at least 4-6 times a week (sometimes I do take immodium – especially before a race). I’m able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat what I want to eat (although I try not to drink too much coffee or eat popcorn and only one or two drinks a week).
    Also – since you live in Boston, I saw an awesome woman GI specialist while I was living there. Her name is Dr. Sonia Friedman and her practice is at Brigham and Women’s. If you can see her, I would seriously recommend it. She is quite personable for a GI doc and you can tell she really cares about her patients.
    One other thing, since you are active, you might want to look into whether you are anemic. I’ve had a lot of problems with this as well (a combo of the fact that I don’t eat red meat and Crohn’s). This can be managed with iron supplements.
    Good luck, Tina! I know you will get this under control and you will be feeling better soon. Pinpointing the issue is really the hardest step.

    Reply

    Tina June 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

    @Katherine: Thank you for the recommendation!

    Reply

    Jacquelynn June 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Hey Tina! I spent most of my 20′s battling Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn’s. I am now 33, and haven’t had any symptoms for a long time. I went vegan and haven’t had to take any medications. But, the ones that worked best for me were a combo of Imuran and Asacol.

    It is such a crippling disease that is hard to understand if you haven’t gone through it. Email me if you want to chat more about it or how I dealt with it!

    Jacquelynn

    Reply

    jana June 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    tina, i know what you are going through because i have had colitis for 30 yrs. first your lower guts are probably inflamed and i had to take alot of antibiotics for a few days. that cleared the inflamed gut. i had to find what foods i could eat and not eat myself because the dr. said everybodys body is different. i can’t eat any freash fruit or uncooked veg. no wine either.no chili pepper or hot sauces. these will start the runs. some kinds of nuts i can eat and some i can’t. if you want to know how to cope with this e-mail me and i will try to help you cause i’ve figured this colitis out. jana

    Reply

    toni June 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Good luck girl!!! You’ll be feeling better and doing cooking demos on the Today Show before you know it. Hope you get to the bottom of it – and kudos for gearing up a positive attitude and getting your butt out of the house and walking the dog. Fresh air does the body (+soul!!) good :)

    Reply

    fiona June 26, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I am so sorry to hear about this, and I really hope that you figure out the treatment, that your medical insurance kicks in, and that you can move forward leading a healthy, happy, pain-free life. All your readers will be with you 100%

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    Jenny June 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Oh you poor thing, I hope you feel better soon. Big hugs.

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    Leah @ L4L June 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I feel your pain. I had chronic diarrhea for 2 years and no GI specialist could figure out why. I ended up seeing a naturopath and gettins some electro-field testing done and he gave me a massive list of foods that my body has intolerances to. I immediately stopped eating ALL those foods (wheat, chocolate, and white wine included!) and felt better within days. It’s been hard to adjust (I’m on month 4 now) but it is so worth my digestion happiness. I’m assuming by this point you have looked into anti-inflammatory diets?

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    sabrina June 30, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I am brand new to your blog today and I just wanted to lend some support. I don’t have colitis or Chron’s disease but I do have IBS and Lupus. I have dealt with stomach issues for about 20 years. It started in middle school and over the years my symptoms have changed greatly. Once I figured out a lot of the triggers, my condition has improved immensley. Recently I have stopped all gluten and dairy. I also don’t do tomatoes, onions, spicy or fried foods. That may seem very limiting, but after stopping these foods, most recently the dairy and gluten, I have noticed AMAZING results. As other posters above have said, definitely get checked for celiac disease or at least a gluten intolerance. I would also look into getting the book “The Inflammation Zone” written by the author of the Zone Diet. Very helpful!! Also, please know that there are those of us out here that definitely understand and are here if you need anything. This time is really sucky, but just hang in there and you will get it all figured out and feeling better soon! Take care!

    Reply

    Debbi July 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Hi Tina, I am going through this right now and have an appt with a gastro doc on the 11th. I too can’t go or do anything, but I have continued to work out. I’ve had accidents at work, at the mall, it is just horrifying and I’m nervous about what it can be and the tests that might be required.

    It is encouraging to read all the comments and see that there might be some help I’m sorry you are experiencing this and hope we both find out what’s wrong. Please keep us up to date, it might help some of us.

    Reply

    debbie July 2, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Tina, I’m so sorry to hear about you being sick and going through this. I know just how you feel! I have had Ulcerative Colitis for about 8 years now. I have had every symptom that you described. I have stayed inside my home for weeks at the time due to the symptoms of this horrid disease. But also like you, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to let it control my life! When it came time for me to travel by car, I mapped out every rest area along the way, every nice large gas station, every restaurant, any place that I knew I could stop and use the bathroom. This was just how bad it was for me and how desperate I was not to let it keep me confined to my home all the time. It took about 4 years for the doctors and MYSELF to find the correct combination of meds and figuring out what foods to avoid. It is a terrible road to travel, I will not lie about that, but you will get better with time, and the right meds, and by eating the right foods, and by avoiding those that make you sick. It sounds as though you are doing a really great job of choosing the correct foods! Hang in there and I’ll be praying for you and keeping up with you and cheering you on to the finish line! Believe in yourself!

    Reply

    Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) July 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    I am so sorry to read of what you are going through. Far too many people encounter this- and sadly are told by their doctor there is no cure, and then are given nutritional recommendations to ensure that be the case. I have healed 100% from Crohn’s without medications and continue to work with people who have had the same success. My colleague Josh Gitalis (www.insideoutnutrition.ca) works one-on-one with people suffering from IBD who have outstanding success (getting them off meds even after hospitalizations), and I cover off the food side with my classes and much of the other work that I do.

    At this point- my best advice is to do your research so you feel fully empowered to make the decision that is best for you. I also recommend avoiding support groups, crohn’s and colitis foundations and much nutrition advice from medical doctors and clinical dieticians- You won’t be given much hope for healing and recovery and it is fully and completely possible.

    Reply

    Baking 'n' Books July 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Oh I am so sorry to hear about this. Digestive problems are so serious and can really, really take a toll on you – physically and mentally. What type of diet do you have to follow now and how long have you been having trouble for?

    I’m pretty sure eating TOO many vegetable is a big problem of mine…well the cake doesn’t help either – but y’know. But it’s crazy how we get hooked on certain foods and when we know they’re good for us and so promoted in books and everywhere, it’s hard to break from it.

    Reply

    Amanda July 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for a bit, but never saw this post. I was diagnosed with colitis about a year ago – and while I take a lot of meds to ease the spasoming and help mediate what I eat, everything has changed, everything has been changed since then. I dont really know other people dealing with it – so I’d love to talk if you ever want to.

    ~Amanda
    abk008@gmail.com

    Reply

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