it’s been a while, part two

it’s been two and a half weeks since the hospital ordeal. i feel normal again, but am maybe overly sensitive to small changes. while ultimately the experience wasn’t a terrible one, i notice that when i start to feel “off” i worry a bit more than i did before. i know that things are fine, but still i worry a bit.

i’m on additional medication now which, as far as i can tell, seems to be doing the trick. the first is prednisone, which is steroids (not the meat-head kind) and meant to keep inflammation down. it’s not a good drug, as i understand it. it has a host of minor side effects, is generally not a good thing long term and the doctor wants me off it as soon as possible. the other main drug is called azathioprine. it’s another immunosuppressant meant keep the crohn’s in remission, or at least keep me asymptomatic. it’s similar to, but older, than the humira the doctor put me on several months back. they’re still tweaking the dosage of the new drug and once the doctor is assured its working and not causing problems (there’s the potential for liver damage), he’ll begin to taper me off the steroids.

in addition to the new medication, i’ve been put on a restricted low/no fiber diet mean to give my system a rest as it continues to recover from the flair-up and obstruction. in my younger days, i would have thought it’s a great diet. fried food isn’t really a good idea, but starches and meats are a-ok. no raw vegetables, no salads, complex grains, granola, whole grains, brown rice, etc. yes, so many of the things they say you should eat as part of a “healthy diet”. if i want vegetables at all, they have to be thoroughly cooked, i.e. squishy. canned fruits (which i think are gross) are ok, as are some canned vegetables, which i also don’t much care for. it makes eating out a little tricky, as it does for feeling generally healthy. it’s the same diet they recommended when i first got sick and the one i stuck to for nearly two years. i had just a few months a go been given the ok to “eat whatever i want,” but obviously that didn’t last long and who knows when i’ll be allowed to give up this “low residue” diet. i’m guessing it’s going to be a while.

this, however, brings me to the first part of a developing plan to adjust my lifestyle to a disease i previously thought was more of an inconvenience than a serious threat: the acquisition of a professional-ish juicer. and i’m pretty excited about it.

the juicer will allow me to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and enjoy them in liquid form without fear of complications. the omega j8004 masticating juicer crushes the fruits and vegetables, squeezing all the juice out in such a way as to maximize nutrient retention; i don’t know about the science, but it seems to be the best way to juice, from my reading. so, i’ll be able to get all the best stuff from my produce without the fiber. used hand-in-hand with my new jucing bible, i’ll be making all sorts of good stuff for consumption every day! my new juicer is in transit and i’ll have it in house by the time i come home from work on wednesday. it’s gonna be great!

maybe the most dramatic change, one that many of my friends will be shocked to hear, is that i’ve decided to give up, or at least make a committed effort, to quit smoking. in addition to being just all around bad for you, as we all know, smoking is extra bad for people with crohn’s disease. the doctor hasn’t been able to really give me a clear answer as to why or how it’s bad, but the consensus seems to be that the potential for more frequent and worse flair-ups is greater for smokers. my doctor’s been telling me this for a while and between the trip to the ER and having relatively little problem not smoking while i was in the hospital, i’ve decided it’s time to give it up.

i’ve been leaning more and more in that direction over the last six months, or so, but just haven’t been able to bring myself to take any proactive steps, until last week when i called hawaii’s tobacco quit line. the 1-800 number we see so often on the television. they’ve set up a plan for me and, along with a plethora of information on the program and tips to help me quit, they’re sending me two weeks-worth of nicotine gum. i’ll have to buy some on my own, along with nicotine patches, but those together, along with support from friends and a “quit coach,” i’m fairly confident i’ll be able to kick the habit.

right now i’m in the first stages, i guess you’d call it, before my official quit date, when i’m working on changing my routine to break the daily habit and cutting back on how many i smoke a day. admittedly, it’s been a little difficult so far, but i have managed to cut back a bit and have begun to smoke less in the car and during certain times of day. ultimately, for me, i think it will actually be easier once my stop day comes and i’m no long carrying a pack, lighter, etc. April 14th is the last day for cigarettes. Before i go to bed that night, i’ll throw away any remaining smokes i have, ashtrays, lighters and any other smoking paraphernalia. The next day begins my journey to being smoke-free.

i do think i’ll be able to do it, though i don’t doubt there are times when it will be incredibly difficult. all i really have to do is just not buy any more. so long as i don’t have any around and i can use the gum to curb physical cravings, i think i’ll be ok. luckily most of the people i know and spend time with don’t smoke, so that will make it easier. the plan is supposed to take eight weeks, at the end of which i should be free and clear, though i understand people have cravings for years after they’ve quit.

for me, in addition to the health benefits, a huge motivator is all the extra money i’ll have. there are a host of things i want to buy and spend money on, but haven’t been able to because i haven’t had any. my cigarettes cost me $200 a month, minimum and while that expense will be shifted to buying gum and patches for the next couple of months, once that’s done i’ll have SO much more money at the end of each month. it’ll be great and i’m already making a list in my head of all the purchases for my self and my home that i want to make in the coming months.

finally, once i’ve stopped smoking and my budget has been realigned, i’ll be looking into new workout regiments because i need to lose A LOT of weight, but that’s for future posts. for now, i’m feeling pretty optimistic about things and with a juice and no smoking in my future i think the rest of 2013 is going to be good.

stay tuned for quit smoking updates….

2 Comments, RSS

  1. Katja April 7, 2013 @ 10:52 pm

    Hooray! No smoking.

  2. Alison April 8, 2013 @ 11:45 am

    I’m so excited for you! you are taking on some challenges that are hard for all of us. if there is anything I can do from way over here (Chicago), please don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll be here cheering you on!

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