Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Helped?

If I have to think about TR's journey with colitis I would have a very hard time pinpointing exactly what it was that helped him the most.

When he started taking steroids in the summer of '10 the specialist he saw was convinced that the steroids alone would not be able to put him into 'remission'.  Rather the hope of the steroids was that it would help to reduce the inflammation and enable a less strong drug (but with less side effects of steroids which can only be used short term or you get seriously addicted to them!) to be able to control this disease.  She told us that food would not make a difference and that his colitis was in very very bad shape.  In fact she gave us very little hope at all.  He would be on drugs the rest of his life.  If we were lucky the steroids would help pave the way for another drug.

In the beginning of the steroids it was great.   He felt better than he had in a very long time.  But it didn't take very long and his pain was back.  I think it was about halfway through the treatment (I think it was about 8 weeks altogether).  That's when the new diet began and while it has not been smooth sailing all the way through I would say it worked!

In the beginning of our new diet (you can read about the foods we didn't eat here) we were very careful.  No pop.  As little sugar as we could handle - I don't think I even made homemade sweets for a very long time.  If I made a dessert or snack I used honey.  We switched to natural foods like butter and pure maple syrup.  I made homemade ice cream for a treat sweetened with honey.  We used honey to sweeten our tea and coffee.  I bought natural cane sugar and experimented with different kinds.  We used very little of this sugar but if I did use sugar for something this is what we used.  We tried very hard to limit canned goods (I think we only used canned tomatoes or homemade canned goods). We avoided most vegetables from the store (for pesticide exposure) and tried to use as much from the garden as possible.  I could go on but I will some it up with this: we ate whole foods, greatly limited any processed food, made it ourselves.  We bought meat from local farmers.

If we went visiting TR would notice almost right away.  He tried to eat the best food that was available and sometimes I brought our own food - but he would still often leave in pain.  Or be in pain the next day.  So we didn't eat away from home very much.  TR's job wasn't very stable back then and he started looking for a different job.  I remember thinking as we approached every ad with the thinking of what he would eat.  All jobs that would take him out of town were not possible.  We didn't stay for potlucks at the Church.  Picnics were very hard to do spontaneously as I had to prepare all the food we were bringing.  No more hotdogs and smores for us.  No more quickly stopping in at the grocery store on our way out.

But we were thankful and we're still thankful.  He could have been on drugs.  He could have been suffering severely.  But he wasn't.  And he was getting stronger.

On top of the food changes he also added vitamins and supplements.  The main ones that he always had were alfafa, vitamin D.  He has experimented with a multivitamin but the taste of it was so awful that he just couldn't swallow it.  Here is a post I wrote on how he takes pills.  For a while he would notice it immediately if he didn't take his pills.  After a while the reaction slowed down so that if he forgot for a few days he wouldn't feel it for a week or so and then it would hit him.

What about now?  Now we eat out.  (by out I mean out of our house :)  We go visiting and he can eat their food without too much problems.  The other week we actually bought (natural) hotdogs for an impromptu picnic!  He hasn't taken his alfafa in weeks and he hasn't noticed.

He still struggles.  Fatigue is his biggest enemy right now.  But how he is now is so different than how it was a couple of years ago.  He is stronger.  His body doesn't fight against him as hard as it used to.  We're still looking for some more answers and ways we can improve the health of all of us.  But it isn't as all consuming as it was back then.   And we are thankful.

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