IBD & cardiology

For a while now I have been having palpitations on and off for no particular reason. I started checking my heart rate, using a built-in app on my phone, on a somewhat daily basis shortly after my IBD diagnosis back in 2016 and noticed my resting heart rate was always above what the app said was normal for someone of my age/height/weight/gender. I didn’t think much of it because I was on a lot of meds that, for all I knew, could be causing the increase in heart rate. It was always high whenever I was admitted to the hospital too but I assumed that was due to being in hospital as well as being unwell at the time.

Skip forward to just after my first surgery, and my resting heart rate was always above 120bpm. For reference, for an average adult of my height/weight/age/gender, the resting heart rate is typically between 60 & 80bpm. I figured the 120bpm was a direct result of my surgery and after a few weeks of slowly building my weight back up, my resting heart rate dropped to around 90bpm or so.

From there, I didn’t really notice it much; it became sort of like background noise. I’d notice my heart beating really fast during and after exercise but didn’t really think much of it then either because that’s meant to happen, right?

Anyway, after having surgery for the fourth time back in July last year, I started getting sudden onset palpitations with fast breathing and a somewhat panicked feeling (a panic attack?). Again, for no apparent reason. This would last for about 2 minutes before fading, leaving me feeling drained and anxious, so I finally went to my GP. She referred me to have a 24 hour monitor, which involves wearing a heart monitor (similar to an ECG) for 24 hours that records the wearers heart rate which is then analysed by a cardiologist.

After having the 24 hour test at the beginning of the year, I finally saw a cardiologist in clinic earlier this week. They did an ECG and an ultrasound on my heart and, thankfully, everything looks normal. My heart infrastructure is fine and looks healthy, and aside from the palpitations and high resting heart rate, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong. They don’t want to try any intense treatment unless it starts interfering with my daily life but they did recommend trying beta-blockers to help regulate my heart rate. Because beta blockers can make you tired, the cardiologist said I wouldn’t have to take them all the time but could try taking them whenever I start getting palpitations.

My GP has already filled a prescription for me so I guess I’ll give them a go once they’re ready. Whether this is related to my IBD or not, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think so as IBD can effect many parts of the body, not just the bowel. I’ll update again on this after I’ve been taking the beta blockers for a bit.

In other news, I’m going to flying to the Netherlands later this week so expect a post about that later next week. I’ll be sure to take note of how going through security goes this time compared to last time (hopefully, it’ll go just as smoothly).

Good news!

I saw my GP this morning regarding both my loperamide prescription (I’ve been having a reaction to the liquid so needed a new script for the instand melt tablets) and my rehydration methods. She said she was happy to do a monthly prescription for 112 instant melt tablets of loperamide and I can always adjust the dose as I need to. So that’s one thing fixed relatively easilly.

When talking about my rehydration, she admitted she wasn’t as knowledgable about it so she would email my dietitian for me. I explained my reasons for no longer having the St Mark’s rehydration solution and that I was instead drinking Lucozade and a suppliment drink called Sneak as both have a somewhat decent amount of sodium/salt.*

As I had a blood test just yesterday (Thurday) morning, she had a look at the results and it showed that my sodium was back to normal levels as were pretty much everything else. I asked if I should keep going with what I am doing and she agreed. She said she was still going to email my dietitian just to keep them in the loop which I am more than happy for her to do.

All in all, A good visit to the doctor. I just need to wait for my loperamide to be ready.

*Just a quick disclaimer: I am drinking Lucozade and Sneak suppliment drinks as a replacement for the St Mark’s rehydration solution as this works better for me personally. Please do not change or stop your rehydration methods recommended by you specialist/GP/dietitian without talking to them about it in detail first. Be safe.

Merry Christmas/Winter Holiday, everyone!

It’s been a little while since I last updated but there hasn’t been a lot to share. Seeing how it’s Christmas though – and we all know how fun that can be when it comes to the eating part – I thought I’d write a little update of how things have been since last time.

So, having since seen the dietitian and tried (and failed) to eat more fruit, I have started taking a multivitamin daily and have been having the occasional fruit smoothie (usually consisting of a bunch of bananas that are near going off and some chocolate chips and/or honey). I still have some tinned fruit which I’m planning of turning into smoothies at some point. Other than that though, I have been avoiding having much in the way of fruit and veg because of how badly my attempts to eat even just a little bit have gone. My stoma nurse agrees that I should listen to my body and eat what I know is safe for me, feeding back to my dietitian when I next see her.

As for the low sodium, I’ve given up drinking the St. Mark’s rehydration solution because it makes me super thirsty and I always go over my 2 litre daily fluid limit. Instead, I’ve been having other drinks like Lucozade and Sneak supplement drinks as they contain sodium as well as a load of other extra vitamins. With these, I’m able to stay within my daily fluid limit and I don’t feel thirsty at all by the evening. I realise this isn’t the same as taking the St. Mark’s solution, but it works better for me, and I am going to speak to my GP in the new year to make sure she is happy with what I am doing.

On a more positive note (minor TMI warning), I was able to eat Christmas dinner (complete with a few veggies) and so far so good; I haven’t had any issue passing anything and my stoma output has been ideal, with only a tiny bit of pancaking but no leaks! I was able to have carrots, roast potatoes as well as a spoonful of mashed swede, a piece of cauliflower and a single parsnip. I want to try and add more veg to my weekly meals, even if it’s just some carrots and potatoes, so this is a positive sign.

Anyway, whatever you celebreate, I hope you have had a fun-filled and safe 25th December.

Dietitian's know what they're talking about, right? (TMI warning)

I saw the dietitian early last week and it turns out my sodium is super low. She recommended I start drinking 1 litre of the St Mark’s rehydration solution daily and 1 litre of other free fluids. She also said I need to start reintroducing fruit and veg and gave me some info on how best to do so. She recommended tinned fruit as a good alternative to fresh fruit as it’s softer and has already skinned, so I bought some tinned fruit to try.

A few days after seeing her, I tried having a few bits of tinned apple and mango. It went through me fine but my output for that afternoon was near solid so it ended up pancaking in the bag and almost caused a leak at work. Thankfully, I had my emergency kit with me so I could change in the toilet. I left it another couple of days before trying the apple again (leaving out the mango because I thought this was a bit too physically fiberous for me), but once again, I pancaked and had to change at work. Since then, I’ve stuck to banana’s and smoothies because I don’t want to risk another leak, especially if I’m not at home. I’m also going to start taking mutlivitimans daily and try to have fruit smoothies more often. I know I can eat carrots and potatoes when they are peeled and cooked well so I’ll be doing that too.

I know the fruit didn’t cause a blockage but it could have done and I’m so scared of being hospitalised again. I feel as a medically trained dietitian who’s working with new and veteran ostomates, she should know more about how certain foods effect the stoma output as well as the intestines. If I was brand new to having a stoma, I’d have followed her advise and probably be dealing with leaks if not a full-on blockage. I’ll be sure to let her know of the outcome of her advise when I see again early next year. (Don’t worry, I’ll be nice.)

Liver update

I saw my GI a few days ago, and I was expecting to only see him. To my surprise, I actually had a joint GI/Liver appointment. This is really helpful for them and for me as having IBD, and Ulcerative Colitis specifically, means I am more prone to certain liver diseases, and seeing me at the same time makes it easier to assess and treat my symptoms without having to keep going back and forth.

Just over a year ago, I had some problems with my liver. An ultrasound showed it was enlarged after I presented with abdominal pains to A&E, and I had a biopsy to determine if I had something called Primary Scleroring Cholangitis (PSC), a progressive autoimmune disease that causes the bile ducts in the liver to become inflammed and eventually blocked. At the time, I didn’t think I had this as the biopsy didn’t show any signs of it – or so I thought. As it turns out, I do have PSC but it is very very mild at the moment. It means I’ll need yearly ultrasounds but that’s it unless it shows signs of progressing, then I’ll need biopsies. At the moment, there are no treatments for PSC but it is something they are working on.

As for my IBD, everything is fine. My GI wants to check my sodium and calprotectin so I’ll be doing several samples and blood tests over the next few months. In the meantime, I’ve been advised to have St. Mark’s rehydration solution or dioralyte every now and then or if I’m feeling very thirsty during the day. This should help keep my electrolytes up and save me from getting dehydrated.

Halloween!

I love Halloween. I love it for the decorations, the costumes, but most of all, I love it for the sweets. Yes, the sweets. (I know, I’m a big kid really). But seriously, there is a practical reason for my eating many sweets; slowing down stoma output without having to take medication.

Recently, I have had fairly loose output which is a bit of a pain because it can mean the bag filling faster than normal. Eating sweets, particularly ones with gelatin in, can help thicken the output and slow it down. Halloween is a great time to stock up because not only is there a much higher supply in shops, but they can be a bit cheaper. Now, obviously, I’m not saying everyone should gourge themselves on sweets (I’m no doctor but I’m pretty sure that’s not good for you, even for ostomates) but this is just how I like to deal with high and loose output. How do you deal with loose output?

So, my plan for tonight are to eat Chinese take away followed by a load of sweets whilst watching Coraline. What are you up to this Halloween?

Coffee Morning!

I went to a Crohn’s & Colitis UK coffee morning today with my mum. It was good to meet new people, we talked a lot but there’s never enough time to speak to everyone. I hope to go to the next one near me though. I met someone who has had a jpouch for around ten years now, and I spoke to someone who came with their mum (like me) and who both have Crohn’s. A couple of them were also at the IBD open day last weekend too. I’ve always thought that these meet-ups are a good idea, they give you somewhere to talk freely and feel safe, as well as being part of a community that understands and doesn’t judge because they’ve been there. I know they’re not for everyone but I enjoy it.

In other news, I saw my surgeon last week and he’s very happy with how I’m doing. He said he doesn’t want to do anything now for at least another year, which is fine by me (two surgeries is more than enough for this year, thank you very much). He said I’ve got three options though; 1) I can have my stoma closed and try the jpouch again, 2) I can have my jpouch & rectum removed, a permanent end ileostomy formed and have a barbie-butt, or, 3) I can stay as I am with jpouch & rectum intact and loop-ileostomy. I am quite content to stay as I am for now, but eventually, I will want to go for option 2; permanent stoma and barbie-butt. I don’t want to go back to the jpouch because not only is it ulcerated, but I still have the perforation near the entrance, both of which make me not want to risk it failing again and having to have yet another surgery. I could stay as I am indefinitely but I think I’ll always feel like it’s not finished and I just want this to be sorted once and for all.

So, that’s it for now. Work is going well and I feel able to do more things and for longer. My appetite has returned with avengence so I’m eating like a horse at the moment. My weight is very slowly increasing so all good from where I’m sitting.