Crohn’s Update: July 2016

Wow! I knew I hadn’t been blogging for a while but I didn’t realize it’s been 3 months. I’ve been busy I guess but I haven’t forgotten my fitness goals and efforts. So, here’s the update for those interested:

Crohn’s – doing well. The Humira treatment seems to continue to work. I wouldn’t call what I’m experiencing full remission, but it’s close. I’ve had a few “queasy” days this summer but nothing major to keep me off work or anything. I’m due for another round of testing/scanning/probing this fall and I expect that I’ll here that my condition remains essentially unchanged from last year. Which would be the best news I could expect (the damage can’t be undone, but if further damage is prevented that’s all I need to keep avoiding surgery).

Fitness: I did pretty well again, for me, with the Rose Run 5K that I’ve been participating in. I beat my time from last year thanks in large part to the urging and support of my niece who ran with me. So this is the third straight year of doing better than the year before! My new goal is to get below a 30 minute 5K. I came in 4th in my age group with 5 behind me by the way. My official time was 41:55 and I’m several minutes faster than when I started 5 years ago. Not a huge change, but a positive one. Especially given how little I actually train for it.

I’ve been keeping up with my weight workouts with my brother-in-law. The weight is going up, my body weight is going down (usually), my waist is shrinking and my biceps are growing. Things are on track in this area.

I participated in a “22 Push Ups for 22 Days” to raise awareness of Veteran Suicide. On average, 22 vets in the USA commit suicide each day. This was a pure awareness campaign but I thought an important one. Plus, doing the push ups each day really seemed to up my feeling of well-being each day. I’m continuing to do them even though the challenge is over. I’m planning to work my way to 100 per day (in one set) by the end of the year.

Mountain Climbing: as a benefit of my increased fitness I took on the challenge of climbing the 2nd highest mountain in the contiguous USA (Mt. Elbert) when visiting Colorado this summer. Unfortunately, I only made it to 13,000 feet and was about 1,400 vertical feet short of the summit. It was a fun day nonetheless with a couple cousins who live in Colorado (they made the summit). The thin air was too much for me – or rather not enough for me. Next time, I acclimate at a higher elevation for several days. Next goal though is to fail to summit the highest point in the contiguous USA – Mt. Whitney in California.

Nutrition: as mentioned earlier, my weight has been decreasing. But, in my continuing quest to build muscle while losing fat I’ve been experimenting with my diet. My most recent experiment was to reduce my carbs significantly and increase my protein. There have been some conflicting studies on the effectiveness of this. But, I’ve known a couple people who really dropped the weight while doing this and my limited experience so far is that it does work. I’m still playing with how to add some carbs back in occasionally, since they have a place in the overall healthy diet and maintaining daily “energy,” so more on this later.

Mental Health: overall, I’m still a happy and positive person. Sure, I have my moments like everyone else, but I don’t have much to complain about. My “new” job is going well with supportive co-workers and supervisors, my friends are few but close, my family closer and my faith is strong. The only thing that threatens my well-being right now is the back and forth bickering on Facebook concerning the presidential campaign. Just a few more months…

So, overall things are good. I feel healthy, I look healthier, and I’m more active than I’ve been in a long time. Old age is still creeping up on me (I notice more daily aches and pains) but I’m putting it off as long as I can and hope you will do the same.



AACT Fest 2015 Weekend

Those that know me know that one of my passions is theatre. I’m not a professional actor so I get my “fix” through community theatre and this weekend I experienced one of the community theatre’s biggest events – an AACT Fest.

For those who don’t know, AACT Fest is a theatre competition among community theatres held every two years. The competition starts at the state level (this past weekend in Owosso, Michigan) then the winner moves on to a regional competition (in a couple weeks in Midland, MI), and finally the winner of the regional goes onto national competition (this June in Grand Rapids, MI).

Now, astute readers will notice that all three levels of competition are in Michigan this year – a rare opportunity for theatre goers in Michigan to see some of the best community theatre around. This year’s Michigan competition was won by Players de Noc (Escanabe) and their production of Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape and Holland Civic Theatre’s, Revival at Possum Kingdom Community Church by Michigan playwrite Linda LaRoque.

My personal favorite, which came in third and will be the alternate entry to the regional was The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey presented by the Farmington Players. This was an extremely moving drama based on the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shootings in 2006. There was not a dry eye in the house when this show was finished. A total of eight groups competed (Monroe had submitted but was the ninth entry and the organizers limited the field to eight for reasons I don’t completely understand but were well within their rights to do.  So we have to wait until the next festival to enter again).

By now you may be wondering what this has to do with my quest for fitness. Not much except that I went completely off the diet wagon this weekend! I traveled with my good friend Bob and unfortunately, I think we are both enablers of each others bad eating habits! We passed a Ponderosa Steakhouse on the way into town, a fading restaurant chain that has a great buffet, and that’s where we went for lunch on Saturday. Well, it was a good thing that we were limited on time because three platefuls and several desserts later I was still ready for more! Plus our hosts, Owosso Community Players feed us well at the afterglows – oh and did I mention Roma’s Back Door? A great Italian restaurant steps from the theatre…

Interestingly enough, the damage may be controllable as I don’t appear to have gained weight yet and I’ve upped my cardio and strength workouts this week so I’m burning more calories. Also interesting, to me at least, is that I could put away so much food this weekend. My Crohn’s usually limits my intake. There has been many a meal eaten out that came home with me because I started hurting – but not this weekend. My guess is that this is because the Humira is doing its job and my insides can take more because they hurt less.

So, I need to be even more careful with my food intake than I used to be…I can’t imagine how fat I could get if the brakes are now off my digestive system (so to speak). Time will tell!


The Day After…Thanksgiving

Warning – I deal frankly with some bodily functions in this blog (not graphic but more sensitive types might want to take care)

Okay, so as I mentioned last blog I got through Thanksgiving pretty well. And I was happy as this was the first Thanksgiving ins a while were I didn’t feel sick during or after wards. Understanding now that I have a permanent “narrowing” of my intestine due to scarring from the Crohn’s has given me a different attitude about eating. Keep the portions smaller, eat more frequently (if I’m really hungry) and no more giant meals…which is an issue since I still haven’t been to Tony’s in Birch Run for one of their famous BLT sandwiches (either Google it or follow this link to the Foursquare entry –  I guess a doggy bag is always allowed…

Side note: I was never a big portion guy anyway, I remember at the now long gone Trail Duster restaurant while visiting my sister and her husband in Denver, CO that I could barely get through the “cowgirl” steak while my brother-in-law polished off what appeared to be an entire side of beef. I was in awe, and a little in shock – not quite like the old 96 ouncer in the classic movie “The Great Outdoors” with John Candy and Dan Akroyd but close. I tried to look up the menu but it appears that it is no longer served at even the original Trail Duster which is still open in Arlington, TX. They do still cut off your tie after 5:00 PM though!

Anyway, so things were going pretty good yesterday as well. Some mild pain and discomfort but nothing unusual. I ate lightly during the day after a bad start at breakfast. Handy kitchen tip – don’t get a sudden diarrhea attack when the waffles are in the maker and the bacon is on the stove. Or at least turn the bacon off (can you say “extra crispy?”). A delicious turkey sandwich for lunch (by the way, what makes leftover Thanksgiving turkey the best turkey for sandwiches anyway?) and a little leftover Ruby Tuesday’s ravioli for dinner. Then while watching television later in the evening I started coughing.

Now coughing isn’t rare during this time of year and I’ve had a nagging sinus drip for about a week now (no fever, just drip, cough, etc.) and tonight something from my sinuses was trying to go down my throat but not quite making it. As a result my coughing got violent as did my gagging. Well, after so many years of vomiting on a regular basis I think that my guts are just ready to “go” on a moment’s notice and sure enough – upchuck city without even feeling ill! I did have the good sense to move to the bathroom before the moment occurred at least. To me the worst part was that my sinuses still didn’t clear!

The good news, if any, is that the food from earlier in the day did seem to be digesting well as very little solid matter came back up and I would say my gastric juices were working well. No real burning sensation as I had just drank some water a little earlier. All in all, not a bad vomit if I were to rate them – and sadly, I do now.

The point of this post? Not much, just that with Crohn’s you always have to be ready for the unexpected. This is why I sometimes find it tough to go to the movies. I like to sit in the center but also like to have a clear aisle. If I’m feeling a little off I’ll just go ahead and sit on the side so if I need to get out I don’t have to disturb anyone else. I try to take a little plastic bag with me a lot, too – and have even quietly thrown up during a broadway show (at least I hope it was quiet, no one glared or looked at me from what I could tell and they all came back after intermission. Of course it was a good show). And, just like the commercials, I’m always very aware of where the nearest restroom and/or trash receptacle is. Life with Crohn’s, even a mild case like mine, is always an adventure.

Of course, it does make it easier to pretend that I squatted until I puked in the gym!



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