Ulcerative Colitis Tips


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Andrew’s Colitis Story

Andrew with his wife!

Andrew with his wife!

Meet Andrew:

Hi, I’m Andrew. I’m 33 years old, active duty military and live in Spokane, WA. My wife and I were married in 2003 and we have two children 10 and 4.

Some more background:

I don’t have many true hobbies these days. My free time is spent going to school, camping or attending sporting events that my kids are participating in. I used to be an avid bowler, golfer and gym rat. But, those days have been replaced with studying, football practice and relaxing by the campfire.

I’m from Oklahoma, but lived in Dallas, Texas for half my childhood. My family was very nomadic and I attended a different school every year from K-6 grade. I graduated from a little high school near Enid, OK.

Colitis Symptoms:

Lately, I’ve been yo-yo’ing between feeling “okay” and feeling awful. My biggest symptoms are bleeding, joint pain, constipation and shortness of breath. Often, I have pain in my left hip area and feels like it radiates from the back to the front and vice versa.

Andrew’s Colitis Story:

I was diagnosed in April of 2014. My problems first started in January of 2011. One day that month, I had some dinner and felt like someone was punching me in the stomach. This continued for days anytime I ate a meal. I saw the military doctor and they gave me Nexium and sent me on my way. I was 185lbs, pretty active and other than the stomach pain, I felt “normal”.

My problems continued for months. Then, I started getting EXTREMELY constipated. I saw the doctor again and he freaked out when i told him I didn’t have a bowel movement for 7 days. Thats the point when the military started to believe me. I don’t remember all the tests the military ran, but eventually I ended seeing a Gastro off base.

The Gastro performed a few tests diagnosing me with Gastroparesis. They felt this was the cause of all my problems. I was prescribed Nexium, Myralax and some other meds I can’t remember. The Gastro ordered a colonoscopy which came back negative for anything.

Fast forward another year to the summer of 2012, I was still having the same problems: stomach pain, constipation, etc. I started feeling depressed and was diagnosed with depression/anxiety and placed on Wellbutrin. I was gaining weight without any significant diet changes. I was up to 200-205lbs.

In the fall of 2013, my Gastro recommended I go “Gluten Free”. So, I did from Nov to Feb. Initially, the problems went away but flooded back in Mid-Jan. This prompted another visit to the Gastro. She directed another colonoscopy in March of 2014. Thats when they found the UC. I gained even more weight on the GF diet.

I had an assignment overseas which was cancelled due to my UC. I did a one month dose of prednisone. It made a world of difference. I didn’t gain or lose any additional weight but I could workout and eat without feeling awful. In August, I was prescribed Lialda. I take that and myralax daily.

Currently, I’m waiting on a review of my condition to determine if I will be medically retired from the military. Today, I am 225 lbs and struggle to lose weight. Some days, even making it to the gym is difficult. The joint pain and shortness of breath just knock me to the ground.

My questions:

I don’t totally understand what constitutes a “flare”?
– Is it different for everyone?
– Any way to tell when one is coming?

I read how most people with UC LOSE weight, but it appears that I’m not one of those. I think this is why it was initially ruled out by my Gastro. She said I don’t have the “classic” signs of someone with UC.

Am I alone? Any tips to help me lose weight?

Prior to UC, I lost 50 lbs in 2007-2008. So, I know what to do, but it isn’t working this time.

What foods should I avoid?

Diets Tried So Far:

Gluten Free diet
– didn’t work
Elimination diet
– I don’t eat many raw fruits/veggies, skin on veggies, high fiber foods, granola, popcorn – God I miss popcorn

written by Andrew G

submitted in the colitis venting area




lialda, weight gain

4 Responses to Andrew’s Colitis Story

  1. TaShaya November 16, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

    Hi, Andrew. Yes your case is different from what I have heard. I including most people I’ve talked or chatted with have opposite bowl movements with bleeding. I honestly don’t know what constitutes a flare. I consider anything that affects your body that is brought on or caused by UC. I am currantly on Remicaide and beside the effects of it depleting my immune system it’s working. But, most lose weight while I have also gained and find it difficult to keep off. While on prednisone, most do gain weight, I did too. I wish you luck with this horrible disease we now share!

  2. Adam
    Adam November 17, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for asking some great questions, and thanks for all your hard work in the military. It must be a very tough time mentally when the doctors you were seeing had a hard time getting you a proper diagnosis, especially if they didn’t fully believe your story at first. But you’re on your way to getting better. A proper diagnosis is key at first.

    As for a flare, I think TaShaya has a great description above. When you’re feeling good an in remission, we shouldn’t be feeling urgency to run to the bathroom. We also shouldn’t have cramps throughout the day or any bleeding. Poops should be well formed and UC can actually be something you don’t even think about that much. There’s a flare survey we ran not too long ago you might want to check out here:

    http://www.ihaveuc.com/157-patient-ulcerative-colitis-flare-survey-results/

    I like the majority of people had and still have a pretty tuff time gaining weight. It’s not like I can sit down on the first of the month and say to myself, “Gee Adam, you’re going to eat well this month and put on 5 pounds/2 kg…”

    That would be pretty hard for me since I eat relatively few carbs following the basics of the SCD diet.

    I don’t know, but maybe your doctors were wondering if you had a gluten intolerance earlier, and maybe that’s why they suggested going gluten free. That works for many with celiac disease, which is part of the IBD family. But my suggestion would be to cut out all grains complete, gluten free or not. I’d also take a look at what you’re drinking throughout the days. If there is any soda/pepsi, coke, root beer, Dr. Peppers…anything related to that including sports drinks…I’d cut them out too. Basically anything drink or food that has corn syrup in it, or any other sugars, cut them out for a while and see how you do. Sames goes with breads, and try to cut out all dairy for a while too and see how you do. You wouldn’t be the first with UC to see positive changes to your symptoms, and there is also a for sure chance that the back pains/hip pains/pain that seems to move around for no particular reason…well, that might improve if not go away as well.

    There’s some more specific diet info on the diet page here as well as more details within the ebooks I wrote.

    And, if you want to read some more stories about UC’ers in the military, there have been several of those over the past few years too.

    Here’s one:

    http://www.ihaveuc.com/ulcerative-colitis-in-the-military/

    Another:

    http://www.ihaveuc.com/anyone-completed-a-med-board-and-still-in-the-military/

    You can go to the search box which is at the very bottom of this page on the right hand side and type in a search for “military” too.

    Best of luck with getting better soon,

    Adam

  3. Camille M
    Camille November 17, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Andrew,

    My GI is an associate prof at the University of Chicago. They have found that a grain-free (paleo) diet is very effective at keeping flares at bay. Most GIs either aren’t aware of it, or they just don’t tell their patients. According to my doctor, practically no one will go that far to help themselves. I tried it myself, then found this out when I told my Gi about it, so he didn’t even tell me.

    I too have problems losing weight. I have never been a skinny, weight-losing UCer. I think it has to do with absorption, which is a little different for everyone. Don’t expect much of your energy levels, and LISTEN to your body. As for the constipation, PLEASE take magnesium. Keep upping the quantity/dosage every night, until you have loose stools. The absorption of this mineral is tough with GI problems, and chances are good that you are lacking it a great deal. Our food system is practically devoid of it, so it is a good and safe mineral to take. Give it a try, and let us know how you do!

  4. Grant November 18, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    Hi Andrew!

    I would agree with the points made above and would also like to add to them to help your constipation battle. I’ve been there for sure. Not nice. I’ve got UC and have been in remission and med free for 1 year now thanks to people like Adam here at ihaveuc and Jordan and Steve at scdlifestyle.com. Definitely check those guys out too. So, to help with your constipation try these 6 tips:

    1) Eat more fat! Spoon coconut oil and/or extra virgin olive oil over your meals, eat fatty fish and fatter cuts of meat (bacon with no additives), eat avocado at least once a day and get some omega 3 supplements high in DHA. Fat is not the evil thing we’ve been lead to believe! It will help with your constipation. (cut out cheese and eggs for a while too)

    2) Eat fermentable foods (prebiotics)! eating fermentable substrates might be more important for proper stools than eating probiotics. Eat more onions, garlic, mushrooms, berries, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, pears, apples (all cooked, including the fruit). Also, if you haven’t, get tested for SIBO, it can cause digestive motility issues.

    3) Eat carbohydrates. Ok, so this is a tricky one if you have UC as most carbs are not the greatest for UC sufferers due to most of them being polysaccharides (many sugars) and hard to digest. I would recommend sweet potato. If you have constipation, there appears to be a carbohydrate sweet spot between 75 and 150 grams a day.

    4) Eat more bacteria! Probiotics are great for colonising the gut with beneficial bacteria, something UC patients have very little of. They also help with constipation. SCD yogurt and SCD sauerkraut deliver a huge payload in terms of beneficial bacteria. You can also try probiotics over the counter. I believe VSL-3 has had some good reviews from UC patients.

    5) Eat prunes! The oldest trick in the book! They don’t work for all but for some people prunes are a miracle worker. The best thing to do if you are looking for ways to deal with constipation is to test eating 3-8 prunes a day for a week and see what happens.

    6) Eat more salt! Salt is your friend, regardless of what you’ve heard or read, you need salt to live. We are living things and are sustained with small electrical charges, these charges are dependent on electrolytes. Salt is one of the most important if not most important of these electrolytes. Beyond our need for electrolyte function, salt is very important for proper thyroid and adrenal hormone health. Without adequate salt neither will work very well. And a sluggish thyroid or adrenals are very common reasons for constipation. It is very important to make sure you are using sea salt or Himalayan rock salt (the pink stuff) and NOT table salt. The easiest way to test if this will help your bowels is to add a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in the AM and PM.

    I would also like to touch on what Camille said about the magnesium. Yes, this is very important, however i would recommend trying a transdermal magnesium (oil or cream) rather than magnesium tablets or pills. The pills can be a bit too strong and could cause diarrhea and can contain fillers such as rice flour etc. which is not so good for UC.

    Most of the info above i sourced from scdlifestyle.com and from the Institute of Transformational Nutrition where i am currently a student. When your constipation is sorted i would totally recommend a 30 day leaky gut rebuild diet and then move on to a strict SCD diet and after awhile on that move on to Paleo. From today, right now, cut out all grains, (pasta, bread, rice etc) sugar, alcohol and limit your dairy. You can do this, your health is a choice and you want to be in good health for your family right? Don’t give a shit about the junk food. You can make this work, it’s tough but you can re-train the cells in your gut to reset the gut dysbiosis that is occuring. I miss popcorn too, for sure. And pizza, beer, chocolate, donuts, cinammon buns, hogies, subs, ice cream, whisky (i’m Scottish, giving up that one was tough!) cookies and candy but what i don’t miss is all over body pain, depression, bleeding internally and out of my arse, sleep deprivation, mouth sores, anxiety, night sweats and the exact same back-hip pain you described. I’m still not 100% but i’m a million miles away from where i was last year. I’m giving myself 2 more years of this diet to acheive maximum results. The first step is always the hardest. If you want, you can try and reach me on twitter @dogmusher and i can direct email you all the diet plans and info i have on UC from the last 2 and a half years. I will be a certified transformational nutrition coach in 2015 and have also started studying to become a microbiologist. Good luck mate!

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