“There are many illnesses and negative things that have happened to people that have gotten them to greatness. Without the obstacles, these people may have never become great.”
– Prince Ea
As I sit here, at my computer, on my 25th birthday (May 16th, 2016). I get a chance to reflect on the past seven years of my life. It has been 7.5 years since I began this crazy journey with inflammatory bowel disease and I am so proud of the transformation that I have gone through to get to this point. As most of you know, May was also IBD Awareness Month, so I want to share with you what living with Crohn’s disease has taught me.
Lessons from living with Crohn’s disease
1. It has taught me to have an appreciation for the little things: having a whole day without pain, being able to get out of bed in the morning, and enjoying food after a serious flare.
2. It has taught me what my life’s purpose is. Before my diagnosis, I had little direction in regards to my life. When my health fell apart, the things that I thought I wanted were no longer important. In order to learn to truly take care of myself, I fell in love with anything health, wellness or nutrition-related. These things are my passion now and I hope one day to share them with other IBD patients who want to integrate alternative health modalities into their treatments.
3. It has taught me how to find and use my voice. As I got used to living with an autoimmune disease, I shared more about my journey and holistic perspective on living with Crohn’s. What I never expected was that sharing what I was going through would help me heal, and it truly has.
4. It has taught me how strong I really am. The multiple years without a diagnosis, the frustration and anger, the daily uncontrollable symptoms and pain, and the isolation that comes with living with Crohn’s has shown me that I am much stronger than I ever thought I could be.
5. It has taught me how to be more empathetic and understanding of people and their situations. When I was younger, I was never a mean person but I was unaware of the intense things that many people have to deal with. Crohn’s has allowed me to tap into a more empathetic side of myself that can relate to people who may be going through tough times.
6. It has taught me how to develop an internal, subtle confidence. As young teens, we usually identify ourselves by how we look and what we have and develop a loud confidence because of those things. Living with IBD has given me the opportunity to develop confidence within myself that is based on how I treat others (and myself) and how I see people for who they are on the inside.
7. It has taught me that I am able to get through whatever life hands me. Before Crohn’s, I’d never had an event that changed my life drastically. Adjusting to life with an autoimmune disease is tough, but now that I’ve done that, I know that I am better equipped to handle whatever else comes my way.
8. It has taught me that I can stand up for what I believe in. My perspective on living with IBD is different than most, and that has made this whole journey tougher than I thought it would be. However, it has also shown me that I am able to stand behind my beliefs and values while working with my care team to get the best care possible.
9. It has taught me how to be resourceful. The beginning of my Crohn’s journey was very hard because I had little knowledge about where to find resources to help myself. Going through this life change has shown me that I can dig deep and find information needed to help myself feel better.
10. It has shown me an appreciation for the select few people that have stuck with me on my journey. People come in and out of our lives, but it seems that they move more quickly when you’re chronically ill.
11. It has taught me how to laugh at myself. The embarrassing experiences that have come along with having Crohn’s have shown me how to laugh at myself and some of the things that I have had to deal with over the years. Laughing is some of the best medicine there is.
12. It has taught me that my health is constantly changing. Over the 7.5 years that I’ve lived with Crohn’s, the way that I eat, relax, exercise and relieve stress have changed so many times, and that is the beauty of life: there is always something new to learn.
13. It has taught me that is okay to be different. Everyone has an obstacle or circumstance that they have to deal with. In the end, we’re all different, and that’s okay!
14. It has taught me how to live in the present moment. Because of the severity of our diseases and the fleeting moments of relief from symptoms, being able to live in the moment and enjoy now is the best practice that we can cultivate as we live our lives with IBD.
15. It has taught me that I can be my own healer. While working with my medical care team, I also did my own homework about holistic health modalities and alternatives that I could incorporate into my life that could help me feel better, and they have.
16. It has taught me that I can be healed, even though I cannot be cured. While a cure for Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis is still in the works, finding my life’s purpose, living holistically, adopting a whole foods eating style, and minimizing my stress have allowed me to feel fully healed. I am finally able to live my life to the fullest potential while knowing that I have the tools in my toolbox and have practitioners to fall back on to help me if needed.
17. It has taught me how important my health really is. I have finally realized, with help from my autoimmune disease, how crucial it is to nourish my body, mind, and soul so that I can feel fully alive. If I don’t have my health, the other aspects of my life will begin to deteriorate too.
18. It has taught me the value of community. Being able to lean on people in the same situation who know what you’re going through is so inspiring and comforting.
19. It has taught me how to be okay with fitting out. I used to want so badly to fit in with the crowd. Thanks to Crohn’s, I’m now okay with fitting out instead! I have found my “thing” that makes me different, and I’m beginning to see that as a blessing.
20. It has taught me how to find the blessings in health complications. Inflammatory bowel disease is a serious, severe condition, and feeling grateful for that diagnosis took a long time. However, I am finally able to say that I am so grateful for the fact that I have Crohn’s disease and what it has brought into my life and taught me.
21. It has taught me that I can thrive on eating plants. While this lesson was unexpected due to the nature of my disease, I have found that eating a plant-based diet has helped me personally alleviate symptoms and feel my best!
22. It has taught me that I am able to run 13.1 miles. If I was never diagnosed with IBD, I would have never signed up for a Team Challenge Half Marathon in my hometown, completed it and beat my time goal!
23. It has taught me that being vulnerable and sharing my story can help and inspire others. I never knew that being so open and honest about what I go through and how I live my life would be so helpful for those in similar situations.
24. It has taught me that I am capable of so much more in my life than I had previously thought. Being diagnosed with Crohn’s has shown me that I can be a blogger, health coach, half marathon runner, weight lifter, and plant-based eater. This disease has pushed me so far outside of my comfort zone that I can’t even really remember the person that I used to be because I am so comfortable with who I am now and that is an amazing feeling.
25. It has taught me how to fully love all parts of myself. This has been the toughest lesson to learn because of Crohn’s. I used to be so angry and resentful and fight-minded, and my health didn’t get any better. Then, I tried being happy and loving and thrive-minded, and I’ve really, truly began to thrive!
Living with Crohn’s is hard, but I wouldn’t change a thing
While living with Crohn’s disease has made my young adult years hard, I wouldn’t change a single day of those years. I have learned so much about myself, other people and life because of my disease and I am happy that I can sit down and write this list honestly and openly. My hope is that one day, each of you who read this can write a list like this too!
Let’s Talk Menopause with Lorraine Keane
“Honestly I never thought I was in the target market for anything to do with Menopause OR Perimenopause, until I asked to try Cleanmarine Menomin.
I have after all suffered with my hormones my whole life. Most recently irritability, tiredness, disturbed sleep, decreased sex drive – but I thought that was normal. Aren’t we all busy, therefore tired? It’s my ‘To Do’ list for tomorrow that keeps me awake and then of course the ‘lack of sleep’ will make you irritable and naturally less inclined to feel ‘romantic’.
Well now I know that it’s not ok to just put up with these symptoms, not when there is something out there that will help. Since I started taking Cleanmarine MenoMin I am sleeping better and therefore I am less irritable and tired and just feeling better in myself and about myself. It’s natural so you don’t have to worry about taking it long term. I just wish I had discovered Cleanmarine MenoMin earlier. For our health and wellbeing we should consider taking it from as early as 35. I am so glad I’ll be ahead of the possy.
Menopause is inevitable but I know by balancing my hormones at this stage of my life, Cleanmarine MenoMin will only make the transition easier AND it has all the vitamins and Omega 3 oils I need to maintain a healthy body at the same time. It’s a win-win!”
– Lorraine Keane
About Cleanmarine MenoMin
The key active nutrients found in MenoMin have been carefully selected for their unique applications in hormone balance, skin health and energy production since these are the area in which most menopausal women need support.
– Omega 3 Krill Oil is a pure, sustainably sourced form of omega-3 oil similar to fish oil. Studies have revealed that the essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) found in krill oil have a 59% better uptake in the body compared to fish oil making krill oil more easily absorbed and more effective than fish oil. This is why studies also show that krill oil has the same clinical benefits as fish oil for hormone balance and weight loss but at much smaller doses and it has not fishy repeat!
– Soy Isoflavones are natural plant substances that have a mild oestrogenic effect on oestrogen sensitive cells in the body. Supplementing with soy isoflavones is a great way to dampen down symptoms that are directly related to fluctuating or falling oestrogen levels such as hot flushes, memory lapses, mood swings and fatigue.
– B-vitamins are essential for energy production, metabolism and even help balance brain chemicals responsible for our mood. MenoMin contains B6 for hormone balance, B2 for energy production and skin health, B3 for health mucus membranes, B12 for the nervous system and folic acid for heart health.
– Vitamin D is an essential nutrient used by the body to regulate calcium absorption and bone maintenance. Regardless of whether you experience menopausal symptoms or not all menopausal women are at increased risk of osteoporosis making vitamin D a priority nutrients.
Crohn’s was ruining my life… but manuka honey has saved me
FOR years Rebecca Jenkins could not take a sip of water without running to the
Food also ran straight through her — and she had to dash to the ladies’ up to
ten times a day.
Humiliatingly, sometimes she could not reach a bathroom in time, and the fear
of horrible accidents made social situations a nightmare to be avoided.
This was the grim reality of her life with Crohn’s disease and no
treatments worked — until she found manuka honey.
Rebecca, now 34, began taking two daily teaspoons of the posh spread made by
bees fed on highly anti-bacterial nectar from the manuka plant. And within a
month, it appeared to have cured her.
Now she is looking forward to her wedding next week — wearing the white dress
she once would have been far too scared to even contemplate.
Rebecca — who weighed just 6½st and wore a tiny dress size four when she tried
the honey out of desperation — is still symptom-free 18 months later.
She said: “I was sick of feeling terrible. I lost so much weight I couldn’t
keep anything down. I’d regularly soil myself and have to carry extra
clothes in case I had an accident when I was out.
“I read that a footballer who had a similar condition to mine had used manuka
honey to ease his symptoms. But I didn’t have much hope.”
But within a week, the symptoms that had crippled her life had subsided.
She said: “I’d gone from spending my days sat on the loo and resting in bed to
having energy for the first time in years.
“My skin had cleared up, my periods returned and I felt normal again.”
Rebecca is one of 90,000 people in the UK with Crohn’s disease — a
debilitating inflammatory condition.
According to Crohn’s And Colitis UK, the number of people being diagnosed or
hospitalised by the condition has soared in the past decade by as much as
300 per cent.
Freelance television executive Rebecca, from Long Stratton in Norfolk, first
showed symptoms in 2009.
She recalled: “I started getting intense stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
“I thought it was stress-related but when it didn’t go away, I knew there must
have been another reason.
“A week after symptoms started, I went to my doctor. He didn’t seem concerned
but things got worse.”
When Rebecca was referred to a specialist at the Norfolk and Norwich
University Hospital, she was spending so much time on the toilet she had to
turn down work.
She said: “My job is really physical and I spend a lot of time on my feet so
it was impossible to do it properly when I needed so much time in the
“I ended up losing thousands and thousands of pounds in wages.”
Stool samples did not show anything wrong with Rebecca but a further six
months of tests eventually showed that inflammatory markers in her blood
were sky-high, indicating Crohn’s.
She said: “Some of the tests were agony. Having tubes put down your throat and
up your bum wasn’t a nice experience at all.
“I had so much blood taken out of me I was surprised I had any left.But I was
desperate to know what was wrong with me.”
But the news she had Crohn’s disease came as a terrible shock. She said: “At
just 30 years old, it was devastating to be told I had this life-changing,
“While I had faith in my doctors, I also knew there was little they could do
other than help me manage the symptoms.”
But Rebecca soon realised how things could be far worse.
She said: “I was lucky that I didn’t need any surgery to have my bowel removed
and get fitted with a colostomy bag like lots of other Crohn’s sufferers —
although I was warned this could happen in the future.”
Between courses of steroids, Rebecca was given various autoimmune medications
in a bid to stop her immune system attacking itself — but they had
She said: “Some made me feel like I was dying. Some gave me migraines, others
stomach ache, and I was once whisked to A&E because I got such bad joint
pain I couldn’t move.
“At my worst my mum would have to shower me after I’d soiled myself because
I was so weak.
“I always had to keep a spare pair of knickers on me. I couldn’t eat or drink
water without problems, or go out.
“I was desperate to find something to help me — and that’s when I read about
At her worst, Rebecca was spending a week in hospital every month. The rest of
the time she was in bed or on the loo.
But taking two teaspoons of manuka honey — bought from online supplier the
Honey Doctor — before breakfast each day helped straight away. She said: “My
bowel movements were far less regular, the pain was easing and I felt I
could cope for the first time in years.
“Whereas before I would always have to dash to the loo mid-meal, now I wasn’t
even having to go after a meal.” Her hospital consultant was also amazed.
She said: “He was over the moon for me, and told me to carry on doing
whatever was helping.
“Tests confirmed my suspicions — my digestive system was back to normal.
“Although I have the occasional flare-up, if I take an extra dose of manuka
honey in the evening the symptoms quickly subside.”
She said: “Now I can drive long distances without panicking, I can socialise
with friends, I’m not in pain and even have the occasional alcoholic drink.
IBS trial to test amitriptyline as potential common treatment
A medical trial is being held to see if a drug developed as an anti-depressant could become a common treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Amitriptyline has sometimes been prescribed to people with IBS when other treatments have been ineffective.
But experts said they needed to know more about why the drug helps before it can become more widely used.
A group of 500 volunteers is now being recruited from GP surgeries around Bristol, Leeds and Southampton.
According to charity the IBS Network, the condition affects about 12 million people in the UK.
There is no cure and patients can experience abdominal pain, bloating and constipation, among other symptoms.
Experts at the University of Bristol are leading the medical trial, which is called Atlantis.
The 500 test patients will be given either amitriptyline or a placebo tablet for six months and their symptoms and mood checked regularly.
Dr Matthew Ridd, a GP and a senior researcher at the University of Bristol, is co-ordinating the research.
He said: “I have prescribed it [amitriptyline] occasionally in my practice but there continues to be uncertainty about it as a treatment. There just isn’t the research to be sure.
“Our exact understanding of the biological mechanism of how it works is imperfect.
“We need this research to know if it can be another tool in our toolbox as a first line of treatment.”
Dr Rudd said the Atlantis trial, which also involves the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton, would be the biggest of its type.
The volunteers will be recruited through a network of 75 GP surgeries in Bristol, Leeds and Southampton and will need to be signed off by their doctor before taking part.
IBS ‘felt like being stabbed’
Jeff Finnie began suffering from IBS after losing weight when he took up running.
The 52-year-old from Swindon said his problems started when he dropped from 14 to 11 stone (89kg to 70kg).
He said: “It was around that time that I started getting really bad eczema on my elbows and scalp and also bad stomach cramps and bloating on a regular basis.
“The cramps felt as if someone had a knife sticking in me and they were turning the blade, it was really bad.”
Mr Finnie said his doctor was baffled and eventually he was sent for a colonoscopy.
To his relief, any form of cancer was ruled out and he was told he had IBS. But, he said, he was told he needed to learn to live with the condition.
He eventually managed to ease the symptoms by changing his diet, cutting out dairy products in particular.
Mr Finnie now runs marathons and uses his sponsorship money to raise awareness of IBS.
“People need to speak up more about the condition we face day in day out,” he said.
“It’s never going to go away and you are going to have to deal with it yourself and get to grips with your body and work out your triggers and relief.”
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