today marks ONE FULL YEAR that I’ve been in remission. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

never in my #colitislife have I achieved that milestone. never before have I gone one full bleepin’ YEAR.

Holy POOOOP.

this calls for a dance party. and a glass of wine! ha. just kidding. better not push the envelope. I did have a whole bottle of wine and lots of cheese this past Saturday. insert monkey holding hands over eyes face here. i’m caught in an eating-my-feelings vicious circle. or it’s more like a tornado. Continue reading “today marks ONE FULL YEAR that I’ve been in remission. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)”

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Happy New Year and no new flare!

Happy 2018 peeps. I am already so thankful to this new year. It hasn’t brought me a flare. nor an unexpected guest IN TO MY BED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.  about this time last year, life was a big fat WTF!!! [read all about it]

but aside from that crappy January, looking back at 2017… it was a super great year:

  • I went through a terrible flare but then that. was. it. no other flares for 2017!!!
  • I received an incredible gift to take care of an unexpected financial burden. THANK YOU. (I need to write a post about what life’s like to have a chronic disease + own a home + be on my own. I should give myself way more credit than I do.)
  • I celebrated the big 3-0- ! ‘Bring it, THIRTY. I am ready.‘ (well, not at first I wasn’t. for a while I was dwelling on my original life plan that didn’t pan out. according to the path I was on…by 30 I was ‘married to my #illinoisboy, tag-teaming our own design/construction company together, with a couple of munchkins alongside.’ but then life throws a curveball and we must figure out how to readjust our sails. but I digress. )
  • my mom and I crashed a bachelor party in Duluth, Minnesota. LOL omg what a night!!!  we were in town for a wedding and after the wedding we googled ‘country bar’ and then there we were! we (mom and I and this group of guys) had the bar to ourselves and we shut the place down! I have the coolest mom ever.

bachelorparty_crashed

  • I finally completed the residential design and decorating certificate I’ve been working towards for the last 3 years,  √
  • I travelled across the country (O’ Canada) to work THE greatest country music festival. incredibly grateful for the opportunity and fun that was had. the amazing people I met. xo
  • I  learned that you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. a healthy dose of heartache is probably needed every once in a while. right?… it made me hate myself but taught me to love myself.
  • I travelled to Mesa, travelled to Mesa and then travelled to Mesa ONCE MORE. (!!!) I love that place <3 Arizona is my second home. trying to figure out how I too can be a snowbird.
  • I gave ‘online dating’ a try for the first time. more specifically, Tinder (LOL. good god.)
  • I came to be good friends with VSL#3 (think I went through a total of 4 or 5 boxes) This has been my first year trying to use it as a preventative measure..  I start taking it as soon as I start feeling like a flare could be close.
  • my brother and I got in a lot of bro / sis time. (probably because of breakups and a bad shoulder injury. #silverlinings) family times = best of times.

 

 

  • I got my first corporate office design project. thank you ♥ Fort Rouge Glass ♥ for taking a chance on me.  so so so so grateful. exciting + scary + rewarding
  • I volunteered to take on the role of lead events manager for the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Gutsy and Glamour fund-raising gala. (Manitoba Chapter)
  • and the last chunk of 2017 was hard. I went through a solid 2 month run of testing times at work.  which forced me to make some changes, set some boundaries, and learn to take care of me first.
  • most importantly, embraced the tough times and heartache and LEARNED from it.

Continue reading “Happy New Year and no new flare!”

how I stopped the next flare in it’s tracks.

step one. don’t do THIS↓ all summer long and you won’t have a flare to stop in the first place.

img_5407

HA. just kidding. the stress from wine deprivation alone would be enough to put me in a flare.

lol. kidding again. kindaaaa.

Continue reading “how I stopped the next flare in it’s tracks.”

when you fall off the wagon, it’s stupid hard to get back on.

this summer has been all kinds of cheating when it comes to my diet. actually i’d by lying if I didn’t say this summer AND spring.

when I’m in remission, staying away from ‘trigger foods’ is extra hard because I don’t actually feel sick right after I eat them. for the most part. sometimes I’ll bloat up like a balloon or I’ll get pains on the side of my tummy but the majority of the time if I eat something ‘bad’ I don’t actually feel it doing damage. Until it’s too late. then BAM. i’m in a flare.

to my #ibdfighters reading this:  the struggle is real, right? or how does remission feel for you? is it hard to keep the diet tight or easy because you feel sick immediately after you eat something?

so far this time around i’ve been in remission since end of February. so six months.

tonight I actually went out of my way to get some terrible food cause I obviously didn’t have it in the house and I was craving it like crazy.

Kraft_dinner

Kraft Dinner, I hate you, you jerk.

the two glasses of wine I had probably helped bring those cravings on and definitely impaired my judgement cause when I got to Safeway I also thought it was a good idea to get a tub of peanut butter and chocolate ICE CREAM. insert monkey-face-with-hands-over-eyes emoji here. go big or go home, right? #stupidme.

thank goodness I got back in to my exercise routine since i’m back from my #summeradventure and my stress levels have been pretty low :) I think that’s been my saving grace. AND, it’s SUMMER. I really believe that this season helps to keep me in remission. + all the Vitamin D from the sun. work isn’t crazy busy. lots of lake time. beautiful sunsets …..

Sioux_narrows_Sunset

peace and calm can always be found at the lake.

I am strong and I can do this. back to healthy eating, jenna.

night night, to whoever is reading this. xo.

This is what throwing-in-the-towel looks like in #colitislife

what I mean by ‘throwing in the towel’ is that I kinda let #vacaymode get in the way and gave up on my stay-in-remission-diet and exercise routine. oye. 

I may have gotten carried away with some cheeeeeese tonight. And wine. And gyozas 🙈. And waaay more crap than I should have over the last 2 weeks.
But I am on a #vacay and it’s summer time. Sooooo. I am allowed to stray from the plan, right?
I NEED to stay away from gluten, potatoes and dairy. + a lot of other crap, but those are probably my main 3 intolerances.
But it’s HARD.
More on that later. for now, I have to tighten shit up. Or this could get out of hand and I’m going to wind up in a flare.
Goodnight from Revelstoke, BC. Xo
(I’m staying in an Airbnb and now I am hooked)

fun, eventful, weekend. living life!

holy bleep did I just make a big freakin mess of my kitchen! but man did I make a masterpiece for dinner. I enjoy pinning recipes / food + beverage ideas on my  pinterest board ‘Bon Appetite’  and tonight’s meal was inspired by spaghetti squash chow mien + egg roll in a bowl . actually the idea to make this came from the left over cabbage I had from the sauerkraut I made this afternoon.  and then I used the pinterest recipes as my guide. and it was faily easy! though you’d prob wonder if you saw my kitchen?!

live-a-great-story-blog

so this is what I did: I threw the spaghetti squash in the oven,  fried up some ground turkey with onion flakes, garlic, salt / pepper. fried up the cabbage, shredded carrots + red onions. then made my sauce: extra virgin olive oil, garlic, ginger + coconut aminos [i’m really trying hard to limit soy in my diet. cause hormones].and garnished with green onions.

so now that dinner is done I’m having some cravings for the damn cookie dough I made yesterday. i’m trying hard not to have any because I’ve been cheating a little too much lately. testing myself. pushing the envelope, eating things that I should not be eating. like POTATOES. OR. eating lots of something I should really only be eating in moderation. like…. cookie dough. and wine. I maybe drank too much wine last last Friday and then again this past Friday. BUT, I feel like i’ve been managing my stress levels well and I’ve definitely increased my gym visits. so no flare-ups allowed!

cheese. I also had some cheese on Friday. cause wine. too much wine. in fact it was a child’s third birthday party, ha. but that’s our fam. and we do fun.
my sweet birthday boy, Mason, helped aunty make her special pizza. while everyone else ate 222222222222. and I can guarantee mine was SO. MUCH. BETTER. in the yummy sense and health-wise. (obviously).  >>insert some reader’s eye-rolls here<<     lol. it’s okay.

love-life-pizza-wine

so, yes! a great, busy, fun-filled  weekend was had….

kate’s place / maseman’s bday party on Friday night with all my favourite people. {well some were missing}. yesterday I did a lot of work with just believe and this blog… been working on my next post about SALT. then my mom and I hit up the parade of homes yesterday. I made my fav cookie dough. [which, dammit, I am eating now.]
today I had no one to get my butt to church so I just attended online :) ..did lots of house chores and some packing cause i’m gonna be flyin’ high again soon. (Arizona here I come!!)  finally got to making my  sauerkraut. now it has to ferment for 6 days. then started step 1 of another batch of my sprouted /fermented homemade bread. and I am still so excited about the yummy dinner I threw together. I think my mama mia over at the mia cucina blog would be impressed ;-)

so that is all. thanks for being here! and somebody come take this cookie dough away from me.

lots of love. ciao. xo

this is my happy pill. and #gojetsgo

vitamin_b_winnipeg_jets

so this is my happy pill >>> VITAMIN B. [complex]. I’ve been taking it religiously for about the last 2 years…

Continue reading “this is my happy pill. and #gojetsgo”

another bad flare-up. ulcerative colitis.

today I am finally able to reflect on what has happened in the last 4 weeks and I’m putting my thoughts in to words. up until now I couldn’t bring myself to write since my last ‘to be continued post‘. I kept putting it off cause my mind was so full. of everything. full of to-dos, and planning, and dreams, and ambitions, and cloudy judgements, and failure, and unachieved goals, and physical + mental stress and illness. full of gratitude. full of worry and challenges. anxiety. full of THOUGHTS. my mind is always full of thoughts. usually mostly positive ones! but this time, this round in this game of life, has been a little more challenging.

about 3 weeks ago I had an appointment to see my naturopath – it was supposed to be a quick appointment to go pick up a homeopathic treatment to get myself off the birth control pill, because apparently it’s a really bad to be on. and I’ve been on it for 12 years. and I’ve had colitis for almost 12 years…hmm. (I went on the pill for excruciating cramping pains)
interesting enough is every time I go in to a flare it’s right before my woman cycle starts. (more on that later.. I’m pretty sure there’s a theory there).
so this 15 minute appointment turned in to a 2 hour therapy session. everything that’s been weighing on my mind and heart, the emotional stress that I apparently had bottled up, all unloaded on to my poor doctor.  I guess I was just mentally and physically exhausted from all the illness that seemed to be ongoing – flare numero uno started on Feb 14 and lasted for my entire vacation. then after my flare was done, my body was weak and  I caught a wicked flu/cold that lasted for almost 3 weeks (who knows, maybe I picked up a bad bacteria that took residence in my gut). then after that I got a ridiculous cold sore. after the cold sore was healed, my tummy started bloating up really big (which hasn’t been an issues since the first 5 years of having colitis) and I was getting a pain in my lower abdomen when I had to go pee.
my body was exhausted. and my immune system took a hike and left me for the wolves.

so bring on another flare, why not?

and it’s bad this time. I can’t remember a time where I’ve ever had two flares back to back. except way back when – those were the days that the flares never actually stopped. those were the days of prednisone. this is my grade 12 grad photo. that I never ordered.

prednisone-face

speaking of prednisone. for those following the blog, remember back in March when I became desperate to have a half-decent vacation and I took prednisone to get out of my flare? well, yesterday I went for an MRI of the brain as part of an IBD research study. When I got there I had to sign some waivers and go through some prep checklists. one of the questions was – have you been on any steroids in the last 4 months? ah, YEAH. good ole pal, prednisone. so she said, sorry, we’re going to have to cancel and reschedule your MRI.
for the life of me I CANNOT UNDERSTAND why these questions were not asked prior to me making a special trip down to the hospital? especially in my condition! I asked her why it mattered if I had been on prednisone. and the answer is because it F*’s up my brain. in a nutshell : )
seriously though. the prednisone messes with the chemicals and the hormones in the brain.
and now I am quickly reminded how important the mind and body connection is. (and going a little easier on myself for the emotional mess I was in last month)

anyway, every flare is bad, but this one is bad bad. bad like they used to be 10 years ago. it started at the end of April and it came out of nowhere. or so I thought. my first mistake this time around was pretending like it wasn’t happening. I was in mega denial that it was happening again. ESPECIALLY because last year I went almost an entire year in remission and now this year I’ve had TWO flares already? and only a month apart? WTH.
(so yes, I was in denial.)
At the very first sign of a flare I have to reeeeallly tighten up my diet. and that means NO COFFEE. and I love my coffee so that’s a really painful one. and it also means no roughage – no nuts or seeds, raw veggies, anything that is hard/crunchy etc.  it also means, no cheat foods – when I was in remission last year I was able to have the foods/drinks that I should be staying away from or at least be eating in moderation…  dairy, gluten, potatoes, popcorn, alcohol + more. anyway, the flare started and I continued to have my coffee like a moron. 4 days later I accepted what was happening and said my goodbyes to Joe. I started pureeing all my food to give my intestines a break – when I go in to a flare-up my intestines are raw and full of open bleeding sores. so yeah, liquid food, not so fun, but is a must. a week in to the flare and only eating ‘liquid’, I was getting worse. so the liquid diet thing must not be helping then, right? WHO KNOWS. but I convinced myself that it wasn’t and went back to eating more solid (but soft) foods. by the start of last week I was falling a part in every way. I was going running to the washroom 20 + times a day, my brain started working weird, and I was still trying to go to work. which I know wasn’t a good thing – I was overdoing it but we had an event coming up that I thought was more important than my health? or something stupid like that. STEP ONE in curing any illness is REST. so I came to my senses and now I’ve been off work since last Wednesday (missed the event and all that insignificant stuff.. in the big scheme of things) and I’ve been getting lots of rest which in itself has been very beneficial. when I’m in a flare as bad as this one, a simple glass of water will make me sick. every time I leave the washroom, I only have enough energy to go lay my head back down. when I saw my naturopath last week he said I was on the way to anemia from all the blood I was losing (remember I go in to flares also when my cycle starts. yes, FUN TIMES) so he gave me a B12 shot which gave me my energy back for about 2 hours. I really should have gone for blood work because my iron was probably for sure low. I’ve just been so sick of so many dr. appointments. all I wanted was to lay on the couch and get lost in someone else’s world on tv. my brain was paralyzed. a glass of water was enough to make me run to the washroom. and after running to the washroom 20 + time I’m pretty much just passing blood and rubbing my tummy over and over praying for the pain to stop. sorry for the TMI (too much info) but I have to be careful not to sugarcoat this disease. a really big struggle of mine is dealing with an invisible disease. when people say to me, oh you don’t look sick, that hurts. a lot. and this disease is a tough one to talk about. but after 11 years I’ve finally found the courage. I will try to be the voice for so many who can’t speak about it. you are not alone.

The major game changer for me in healing this particular flare has been a very very powerful probiotic I started last Tuesday. I’ve known about it for quite some time now but never tried it before because it’s expensive. and it’s not covered by insurance. It’s called VSL#3 and the pharmacy orders it in. It’s $114 for 30 packets. I would recommend it to anyone suffering with gut problems. If you can afford it, it’s worth the try! (even if you can’t afford it) There are a lot of testimonials out there  –  it’s even being used for Autism and some have noticed a significant difference  (which also includes being on a specific diet. I believe that is true with any disease, but I digress.)
so I started with 1 pack per day but quickly upped it to 1 1/2 packs a day because of how much of a positive difference it was making in my gut. it only took two days of being on this stuff  that I started to noticed an incredible difference. Today I’ve been on it for 1 week and am going to start taking 2 packs per day to try and get me out of this flare quicker.  I was taking one before bed and FINALLY started sleeping through the night. so now I’m also going take one first thing when I wake up.

colitis-flare-remedies
my ‘healers’ for ulcerative colitis flare-up: cognitive behaviour therapy (don’t STRESS), sweet snuggles, and VSL#3!!!

the two very big changes I had made to my diet a year ago was eliminating gluten and adding bone broth bone broth bone broth. this is what I believe played a big part in keeping me in remission for that entire year. (exercise and stress management are two other key components). What took me out of remission (and lead me to the flare in Feb… the flare that just keeps on givin’) was chronic stress [about something specific] and not following my diet. I had two alcohol ‘binges’ 13 days apart. SO ridciulous of me. but heck did we have fun! ;-) (not so worth it now)

I’ve been on asacol for 11 years. (and that scares the shit out of me – LOL no pun intended) this is a drug used for maintenance and for flare-ups. so when I’m in remission I take 3 800 mg pills per day. when I have a flare-up I take 6 of these pills. this medication is specifically designed to only ‘open’ when it reaches the intestine. and yesterday I found 3 unopened/undigested pills in the toilet. so yeah. my digestive system is still broken.

so the mayhem continues. it (this disease) actually all started to worsen around the time I started this blog. which is kind of ironic because one of the reasons I started this blog was because of how well I was doing with my colitis. and wanted to help others. funny, I want to help others and I can’t even help myself.
that’s not true. but sometimes it’s easy to believe.

aside from being a little broken [physically] at the moment, I am happy to report that my sweet friend sorrow has left me. which is a perfect sign that I am slowly healing. (they say the gut is our second brain. and these IBD research studies I’m involved in are studying the brain. I am VERY happy that is being studied ) I am also so so thankful for all the support I have from my family, friends, and colleagues. impromptu visits with Kate and my Mase man <3, my (better be future) sis-in-law did my grocery shopping for me last week. bless her. my boss and colleagues are so caring and understanding – they’ve got my back and have been stepping in for me. what a great team. a very sweet lady I’ve only met once, texted me her work schedule and said to call her for whatever I need (SO so kind). my residential design instructor is an angel and has been so accommodating with all the classes I’ve been missing.  my mom, my hero. she is still taking care of me like she did when I was a child. except now she has two kitchens to clean! ha ha. messages from friends and fam checking in on me. it all means SO MUCH to me and I THANK YOU.

as long as we have love in this world, everything will be okay.

-always with a grateful heart,

j

 

my ‘coming out’ post. ulcerative colitis.

*yesterday*
sitting here up in the sky, flying away from all the busy and hectic, I have finally found a moment to just focus and really think. think about how I want to officially come out and talk about my important ‘why’ for this blog.  it’s been 4 weeks since we started this blog and I’ve been waiting for, or searching for, or planning for, frick I dunno, the “right” moment to just come out and say it. or maybe i’m trying to find the courage? i’m kinda scared I think? going back and forth in my brain wondering if this whole blog thing was even a good idea to begin with. scared to put myself out there and share all this private stuff. and for nothing maybe? what if no one listens..or cares? what if no one believes? and all this DOUBTING… is not my style either. geeze. jenna. just believe!! ;-) [Side note: just believe World is a company that I co-founded back in 2010 and then life got in the way and it got put on the backburner. I still have plans for it. and big dreams.] 

maybe I thought my first post about {this} would be me sharing my celebration with you. celebrating the first time **ever** going a whole entire year in remission. maybe that’s what I was waiting for…. for that one year milestone. but then it never came. cause another flare-up attacked instead. when it happened this feeling of defeat and sadness took over.  but then someone reminded me, that even though I may not have made it to my one year mark, I have not failed. I am like two weeks short of going a whole year without a flare – and that is amazing!! (in the last 8 years, except this last year obviously, it was typical for me to have 2-3 flares per year. and the first 4 years of this disease it felt like the flares were one after the other. I was a very sick girl.)

the last two weeks have been a little chaotic to say the least. chaotic with this flare-up, work, school, projects, unexpected shit, family time || *life* . right now, I’m on my way to Mesa, Arizona which has been a planned trip for some time but is turning out to be a much needed escape. i’ve left the worries and the exhaustion and hopefully the illness, behind.  (environment does make a difference)

so here it is. when I say flare-up, I am talking about colitis. I have ulcerative colitis. and I have come a long long way in the last 11 years that i’ve been fighting this battle. i’m pretty much to the point where I can almost say that I control this disease and it does not control me.    >>> I control this disease. it does not control me <<<    ….for those that fight this fight, you know that that statement is HUGE + bold. and you may even think i’m crazy and that it’s not possible. if someone would have told me that 8 years ago, that I could have control over this disease, I think  I would have been skeptical.

*today*
well I am happy to report that Mesa has welcomed me back with arms wide open. SO. bleepin HAPPY to be here. time for the healing to begin! this morning I found an AMAZING grocery store called Sprouts Farmers Market – this place is like a dream come true for a girl like me: *fresh*health*organic*devil-free, like my brother puts it, ha ha (gluten-free)*so.many.options/selection*  if only Winnipeg had a place like this. damn I love the states.

for those reading this who feel like they are suffering, it is my wish that you too can live a great story despite having colitis. I would really like to share with you what I have learned.

for those reading that don’t know what colitis is, i’m hoping to spread awareness. to give a voice to this invisible disease. the way my first specialist explained it to me: it’s like someone took a cheese grater to the inside of your intestines. and then they just don’t work. and you bleed and you hurt and you can’t eat/drink and you’re weak + more.

tbc cause I need some zzzzzzzzz’s.

-me

(to get a better understanding of this post, read my first post.)