D is for Diagnosis

Hello, I hope you are all well. Thank you for sticking with me despite my lack of consistent posts. I’m trying to keep with the alphabet theme because it’s more interesting, I think. It also gives my posts a bit more structure, rather than me just rambling.

Anyway, today I want to talk about diagnosis. Specifically, a new diagnosis.

As you should know (if you’ve been following me for a while but don’t worry if not), I have Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, as well as a few other less impressive-sounding conditions. The IBD and PSC I mention specifically because there are thought to be links between them, mainly that patients with Ulcerative Colitis (the form of IBD I have) are more likely to develop PSC than those without UC. This is known as an extraintestinal manifestation which means that other conditions may develop because I have IBD.

Other extraintestinal manifestations include condition such as arthritis, skin conditions, inflammation of the eye, anaemia, problems with the kidneys, and osteoporosis. That last one is what I want to focus on today.

Just to clarify, I do not have osteoporosis. I do, however, have thinning in the base of my spine which they found recently in a bone density scan. This, I believe is called osteopenia, but I’m not 100% sure as my GP didn’t put a name to it. Anyway, the thinning isn’t too serious, by the sounds of things, but they do want to start a form of treatment to stop it from developing into osteoporosis. My GP is consulting my GI as she doesn’t want to start anything that may aggravate my IBD. In the meantime, I am doing daily exercises that are designed for those with sciatica. This may or may not help but seeing as how I do get mild sciatic symptoms from time to time, I don’t think this will do any harm.

Speaking of exercises, I am still doing my knee exercises, as it does get stiff if I’ve not moved around for a while, and I’ve also added abdominal core exercises to my routine to strengthen my core. My goal is to do them all at least once daily so that I am as strong as I can be to return to work in two weeks. I am also trying to stick to a routine of getting up and going to bed at the same time each day (even the weekends) to regulate my sleep and get my fatigue under control.

Thank you for reading and I hope you are keeping safe and well. Until next time!

Made it to the gym

It’s been too long since my last visit to the gym so I decided to go this evening. I did the usual start on the cross-trainer (20 mins), followed by hip abductors, then weighted squats, and finishing with a few arm lifts with the dumbells. I think I feel better from having done all that than when I just did the cross-trainer for 35 mins. I just need to make sure I drink plenty for the rest of the evening, I don’t really want to get dehydrated tonight.

1 year Stomaversary!

So, today marks 1 year since getting my stoma. It’s had it’s ups and downs, but overall it’s been the best year I’ve had for a long time.

The biggest thing I’ve had to get used to is eating like a normal person again; although I am currently keeping to a (mostly) gluten-free and reduced dairy diet, I’m still learning what foods are good and what ones are still bad. Most of the bad ones consist of foods I couldn’t eat before (such as certain fruits and vegetables) but there are some new ones (like nuts and popcorn). Still, it beats living on instant noodles, plain crisps and gluten-free cereal.

Getting back to a normal sleep pattern hasn’t been hard at all; it seems I wasn’t sleeping anywhere near enough before so I’m able to sleep fine now. Other things like doing housework and being able to go out for the day are still a little bit difficult due to a lack of energy, but I have less concern about bathroom location now whenever I leave my flat.

Another thing I’ve had some trouble with is exercise; I was warned not to over stretch or lift anything heavier than a kettle for the first 6 weeks. Because I was practically bound to my room at the hospital for three weeks, my leg muscles had deteriorated quite a bit so I had to work up to walking longer distances slowly. This also meant I couldn’t exercise much at all. After a few months, my legs were almost back to their original size and strength and my stoma nurse said I was ready to start some gentle stomach exercises. She gave me a booklet that outlined ways to strengthen my abdominal muscles in order to avoid hernias. I had a bit of a false start due to some liver problems, but I started going to the gym not too long ago and it feels good to be able to get back into a routine again.

As for what to expect in the future, I’m seeing my surgeon tomorrow morning and, seeing as the issue with my liver isn’t what they thought it was, it looks like reversal is a strong possibility. I hope to get that ball rolling and have a date for the next surgery soon. For now, I’m happy to keep baggie for as long as I need to.

I went to the gym again yesterday evening. I’m trying to go once a week and, although I’ve only gone a few times, I feel like I’m able to do more and more each time. I’ve been doing a bit of cardio in order to get my fitness level back to how it was before I got so ill, followed by crunches to strengthen my stomach muscles. I used to go to the gym two to three times a week so I’m hoping to get back to that eventually. I won’t push myself too much though, I don’t want to cause myself an injury.

I went to the gym again this morning. I didn’t stay as long as last time (only did 45 mins), but I still feel good from the work out. I tried some more stomach exercises this time but couldn’t manage a plank, maybe I will after a while though.

I went back to the gym today! It’s been over a year since I last worked out so I’m quite proud of myself for being able to last a full hour. I focused mostly on gentle stomach exercises and made sure to wear my support belt the whole time. It felt good so I’m looking good forward to going again next week.

Stoma check all done. The nurse is very happy with how the blob is looking and how the convex bags are holding up much better than the flat ones. She’s given me some information on gentle exercises that I can do at home, as well as a prescription for a support belt. I’m hoping to go back to the gym at some point but I don’t want to do anything before the nurses say I’m ready. A support belt will help and I can always get other support items if I need them.