My Story With Ulcerative Colits
Today, May 19th, is World IBD Day. I have yet to fully introduce myself on this blog and provide you with a detail of my why behind it.
I thought this was the perfect day to share my journey with ulcerative colitis.
What is IBD?
Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD) includes both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They are chronic diseases occurring in the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the colon/large intestine marked by inflammation and ulcers, and Crohn’s can involve anywhere from what goes in your mouth and out the other end. No need for me to be vague though, any convo with IBD always leads to poop :) and as a first time mom, I now find myself always talking about poop!
IBD effects millions of people around the globe, and effects every part of the body and mind.
Symptoms of a flare include diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgency to go, stomach pains and cramping, and others. Some effects of these symptoms to other parts of the body include muscle and joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, and weight loss. To learn more head over to Crohns & Colitis Foundation, where there is a ton of information.
I had my first flare official flare 5 months postpartum (my son was born in November 2017). Only a mere 6 months ago I was officially diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I want to preface this entire blog post by saying this:
This disease could be much, much worse than what I have endured. I have met and read stories from others who suffer (and I mean truly suffer) from this disease. They are some of the most courageous, dedicated and hopeful people I know.
I am grateful every day for living in the area I do, with access to the best doctors in the world, being able to afford the exceptional care I am given. Though I am young to have been diagnosed, I am not as young as the many babies, children and teens who have been diagnosed.
There is no known cause or cure, and there needs to be more research dedicated to IBD.
So where exactly does my story begin? Was it when I took that antibiotic at age 21? Or Isotretinoin at age 25? Stress? Was it from pregnancy? Did I breath too much air? You see, there is no known cause of IBD, nor any cure for it either.
My pregnancy was normal, it was great in fact. I loved being pregnant. In my third trimester I started to notice (TMI) minimal blood when I went to the bathroom (#2). Myself and my midwife wrote it off as typical hemorrhoids due to, you know, carrying a baby. The minimal blood continued after I gave birth, and still we all wrote it off as hemorrhoids, from you know, birthing a baby.
I had my annual check up with my PCP and told her everything was so great, with the exception of minor blood when I went to the bathroom. She told me to up my fiber, and call her regardless in a month. In the next 30 days my symptoms got worse. (TMI) There was blood and mucous. Then often times I would feel like I needed to go, but instead there was just mucous. I knew this was not what we originally thought. Something wasn’t right.
I was referred to GI doctor in network. My appointment was a month later. She ordered a flex sigmoidoscopy and I have to toot my own horn here. I did it without any medication or sedation! I was still nursing my son, so every decision I made with what would go into my body was with him in mind.
This doctor misdiagnosed me with ulcerative proctitis. She prescribed me a steroid enema, told me I’d need to be on drugs for the rest of my life, and then said diet had nothing to do with it.
This was not going to be the solution for me.
3 months later, I had another flare. A horrible flare. I was going to the bathroom 12-15x per day! The urgency was insane. I lost 15 pounds in a matter of weeks. I couldn’t eat because sips of just water would send me to the bathroom. I couldn’t go anywhere unless I knew where there was a bathroom en route. I’m a stay at home mom stuck in the house with my 10 month old son. We spent a ton of time together in the bathroom, so I bought him a potty.
In the midst of this flare, I had a scheduled appointment for a new doctor in Boston. She immediately ordered a colonoscopy. I was in the hospital within two days, and diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and the inflammation was throughout my large intestine. She informed me that medicine would be necessary to get me out of the flare the quickest, and the sooner I am on a medicine, the better we can move forward with future treatments and healing. And then she said those magical words, “here, we believe diet has a lot to do with the disease.” She recommended two diets: the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and IBD-AID.
So that’s where we are today. I loosely follow SCD and am an advocate for IBD-AID. It’s a more modern approach to SCD and something that works better with my lifestyle.
This diet is geared toward lowering inflammation in the gut while mindfully eating foods that encourage good gut bacteria growth and die off of the bad. It’s hard work every day staying committed, but the benefits far outweigh the negative. Plus, the food I make is just so damn delish!
Why the blog?
I had purchased this domain in 2014. And nothing came of it then. I had ideas but never the energy to sit down and put pen to paper, while I was working a full time job. Then, I quit my job and started working for myself building websites and consulting local women owned wellness businesses around the city. My website evolved into a wellness focused site, BreeWell.
Well this past fall, I found myself in the kitchen, my favorite place, more so than ever. I was making delicious, good for your recipes. Everything gluten free, grain free, processed sugar free, and lactose free. These recipes are GOOD! So good in fact, I felt inclined to share. I then transitioned BreeWell into The Little Big Spoon and I couldn’t be happier with this decision. Again, as a stay at home mom, this blog gives me a little something of my own. My kitchen, and this small piece of the Internet, is my happy place. More so the food than the Internet haha.
This blog is meant for anyone who
has IBD or any autoimmune disease,
is seeking healthy food alternatives,
likes to cook or bake,
follows paleo, SCD or IBD-AID, and
really likes yummy food that is good for you!
Isn’t the last bullet like, everyone??
With that, I hope you enjoy these recipes and feel as much love when you eat it as I do making it!
Please, comment here or on Instagram with your story. I would love to hear all about it.
This disease may be invisible but we IBD WARRIORS definitely are not!
Aloha and Mahalo,