A Very Grown Up Battle

Some people were not able to share the last article about mental health so I have set up a Twitter account for just this reason. The account is @pill_taker and it is an open account. All blog articles are publicised on there. Please feel free to share the articles with your followers or friends. I think I have also enabled the ’email this’ button if you are wanting to email it to someone.

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So, after a long think I have decided to reveal a bit more about my Mental Health battle. The support I had from the previous article was overwhelming and I felt that some may wish to know more. My Mental Health battle has been ongoing for 22 years, it is still fighting. I am still fighting.

I am going to tell you some of the issues I have faced since I was 18 years old. There will be mentions of suicide and behaviour I am far from proud of. If anything you read causes distress or upset I apologise profusely.

It took me a lot of courage to write the previous Mental Health blog at the weekend. This, in all honesty, was I think harder as it is more recent and therefore fresher in one’s memory.

Those who know me know what a stresshead I am. I get stressed so easily over the smallest of things whether it be the computer not shutting down fast enough or the queue in a supermarket being on a go slow. I am an incredibly impatient person as well. Others will calm down after a few minutes but I seem to hold on to it for longer, much longer. The reason little things stress me out is because I do have a lot of major stresses in life – health; money and family to name but a few. Stress just never seems to go away for me. I try to use different coping mechanisms like meditation or listening to music as loudly as possible. I will do my best to block it out particularly at night-time when my head is swimming with the sharks of stress. Obviously when am stressed the trichotillomania appears in force, for some reason it helps a little. I also, as soon as am stressed, have to smoke a cigarette. Ridiculous isn’t it?

I used to use something else as a ‘coping’ mechanism. It began in my late teens when I discovered nightclubs and raves, yes I was a fluffy booter! I thought by doing it I would be able to forget the past and seek refuge in the ‘coping’ mechanism. My work never suffered at the time even when I would come still under the influence of it after 2 hours sleep. I used to be able to drink a Marine; a police officer and a Sailor under the table. That’s right, the ‘coping’ mechanism I am referring to is ALCOHOL. I would turn to it 7 days a week sometimes. Then something I am not going to go into happened. I had to leave where I was and give up everything I had. Soon I was to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short. Alcohol soon became my crutch, at my worst I was drinking 2 litres of vodka a day and picking the bottle up to have a drink with breakfast was probably a bit of a warning siren. I sought help, took some pills that stopped me drinking and became sober. I have been sober for over 6 years now. I am lucky in the fact I am able to just have a miniature bottle of wine on Christmas Day and not want more. I have also been tipsy a couple of times but because I know when, and how, to stop I have been okay.

I will never turn back to ALCOHOLISM again, it does not solve my problems and it does not stop the problems.

Between 14 and 28 I tried to take my life far too many times, once is more than enough! My life is far from, and will never be, perfect. I am riddled with diseases various. I have to take incredibly strong painkillers in order to get through the day. I fart like any normal Crohns sufferer. I burp like a man. I snore like a trooper. I come from a broken home. I have a mother that will tell me she loves me in one breath then make me out to the worst daughter ever in the next. I have a father who cannot keep his dangly bits to himself. I am jealous of my incredibly talented, intelligent and beautiful sister. I have some ridiculous habits. I have to know what is happening in advance. I am so not an impulsive person.

I am me. I have battled depression; alcoholism; PTSD and bulimia. Yet, I am still alive despite everything. I do not know what my future holds. I don’t, to be brutally honest, want to know despite needing to know what is happening.

Clinical depression is like a Civil War in your head. To deal with it you can use your ammunition (medication), your nuclear warfare (therapy) or even your troops (friends and family). Whatever you use it is possible to maintain some sort of ceasefire. It takes some work but once the muddiness disappears life will be a whole lot better.

Do not let depression, or any mental illness, consume you. It is not worth it. Trust me.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask.

Would Beveridge Be Proud?

What do the words Welfare State mean? It’s a system in which the government provides free social services such as health; education and gives people money who are unable to work, for example because they are out of work or because they are too ill to work.

What do you think of when you hear of benefit fraud?

What do you think of when, if you are fortunate enough to work, of someone you are close to or friends with has to go onto benefits?

Do you think everyone should be entitled to Welfare Support?

Ok, that makes me sound like the Spanish Inquisition a bit but I will give you my answers to the 3 questions above. My answers are of the view of someone in receipt of sickness benefits but has worked in the past and does intend to work in the future once her health is stable.

When I hear or read about benefit fraud, I get angry. It is because of fraudulent activity that it is getting increasingly more difficult for people to claim benefits such as Disability Living Allowance. However, it upsets me that the media makes it seem that every person in receipt of sickness (and other benefits) gets a huge wad of cash and is a fraudster. I can assure you that I do not receive wads of cash and I definitely am not a fraudster. I receive 88% support housing and council tax benefit, my housing benefit goes directly to my landlord. I therefore have to top up my rent and council tax as well as pay my bills; buy food and fork out for travel to any hospital appointments. I also am responsible for paying dental and optical costs, prescription wise I do not pay as a medical condition I have makes me exempt. I certainly do not have a plasma television or an Iphone, mind you if anyone would like to donate one (only joking).

If I was working I would support any friend who was having to go onto benefits, for some people going onto benefits is a last resort whilst they recover from say illness or whilst they look for work. Benefits are a safety net. You don’t, unless you are dodgy, live comfortably on the small amount given every fortnight – YOU EXIST!

In terms of anyone receiving welfare support, no not everyone should receive it. For example, prisoners and immigrants but this is merely my opinion. I also think that the Child Benefit rules of an income cap is fair but then it should not be paid to a parent under 18 if they are unmarried, again this is my view. Child Benefit should be paid until the last day of a child’s education, am not saying all the way through a degree but perhaps until the child reaches 19? Maybe this happens already, I am not a mother!

The history of the Welfare System in this country is fascinating, and I am not being sarcastic here.

The beginning of the modern Welfare State was in 1911 when the Liberal Party, and David Lloyd George, put through the National Insurance Act (1911). It was around this time National Insurance started to be taken from pay packets. At present National Insurance is 12% of your earnings up to £817 per week, any earnings above £817 per week you pay an extra 2%. You are issued with a National Insurance number shortly before your 16th birthday. Your entitlement to benefits, and pensions, is based on your National Insurance contributions.

I digress. In 1942 Sir William Beveridge encouraged the government at the time to start proper assistance to those in need of help, or those in dire poverty. Child Support was started to help people feed their children and support their growth.

Beveridge recommended to the government that they tackled 5 key areas (or 5 giants as he called them) WANT; DISEASE; IGNORANCE; SQUALOR and IDLENESS by providing adequate income to people; adequate health care; adequate education; adequate housing and adequate employment. All of the ‘giants’ still seem very appropriate today in 2011.

When he had approached them it was around this time the National Health Service, now fondly referred to as the NHS, was started. People were concerned that the National Health Service wouldn’t work, yes there were teething problems but the NHS does well today considering all the issues faced.

Benefits are paid, mostly, by the Department of Work and Pensions. Some are paid by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Apparently there are over 50 different unemployment benefits including Jobseekers Allowance; Child Benefit; Employment and Support Allowance. In order to receive such benefits you will need to apply for them, some take longer than others to process and you may even be rejected. You have the right to appeal such negative decisions and you may even be faced with having to go to Tribunal. I had to go all the way to Tribunal for Disability Living Allowance last year, fortunately the decision was changed in my favour.

There are massive changes ahead for the Welfare System.

Iain Duncan Smith, Work and Pensions minister, feels that too many people are actually trapped on benefits. There are actually way too many benefits on offer so replacing the majority with one simplified benefit (with different levels of payment according to circumstances) is actually a good idea. He is quoted as saying that he would like people to better off working than on benefits.

The changes will be in place, apparently, for new claimants from October 2013 with all existing claimants transferring over to the Universal Credit by 2017. The aim is to reduce poverty and give people the confidence to find work. The sanctions they are proposing are a little harsh in my honest opinion and they could probably do with looking at them again.

Also, Disability Living Allowance will be replaced in 2013. It will be called Personal Independence Payment, or PIP. PIP applicants will have more assessments on a face to face basis to discuss how their condition/s affect their day-to-day life. It will still have two components, Personal Care and Mobility, but more support will be given on the grounds claimants will be seen more frequently so the DWP have a greater understanding of the conditions.

You do not receive millions of pounds on benefits. You do exist on them but it is incredibly hard to manage life on them. At present, before any deductions for Social Fund (crisis loans), on Jobseekers Allowance you receive £67.50 per week or £135 a fortnight. This may seem like a lot to some but actually when you consider that out of this you have to pay bills, buy food and other necessities as well as fork out for travel to interviews it really isn’t a lot.

The job situation is appalling. More and more people are losing their jobs thus meaning more people are having to claim benefits. Too many cuts are being made and as a result more vulnerable people are losing out. Fingers crossed that the economy starts to pick up soon!

Before I sign this off and get it published on my blog, please remember that being on benefits is nothing to be ashamed of if you are claiming them legitimately. Beveridge intended to help those in need, our government (in some ways) is not actually looking at what he wanted to be looked at!

 

Should This Be A Taboo Subject

I was sat wondering this afternoon what to write for a blog article. It suddenly hit me that I should speak up about my not so public battle with depression, it is something I have battled for 22 years now. Some people regard Mental Health as a somewhat taboo subject, but should it be taboo? I do not think it should be anymore, more and more people are being diagnosed so people should feel they can talk about it openly with friends; family; colleagues etc.

I apologise now, in advance, if anything I mention or discuss in this article upsets you as I will be discussing ‘episodes’ of depression I have had. I am also happy to answer any questions you may have regarding this article.

So what is depression? Some of us know from personal experience, but it manifests itself in many ways and not every affected person will have the same symptoms.

Depression is a mental illness characterised as having low moods; loss of appetite; mood swings and loss of interest in life/work/sex etc. A person with depression may experience sadness; anxious; empty; hopeless; helpless; worthless; guilty; irritable; excessive or reduced sleep patterns. They may also experience suicidal thoughts. I am sure there are many other symptoms linked to depression too.

Depression is something only a medical professional can diagnose. They will, or at least should, start you on the right treatment/s whether it be counselling and/or antidepressants. It can affect a person at ANY age. Do not assume children cannot be affected because they can be and are. Depression and any mental illness still has a stigma attached to it. With all these celebrities citing alcoholism or drug abuse as a reason for going to rehab (substance misuse is a form of mental illness) there should not be a stigma.

The Mental Health teams within each NHS Trust are available, or at least should be, to help sufferers with their mental wellbeing. There are a lot of treatments out there these days. Some are well-known like, for example antidepressants, and others not so well-known about like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Not all treatments are successful and the majority will be short term.

There are some medical conditions which can cause depression and sometimes if treatment is unsuccessful the GP may wish to rule them out. Again, there are a few conditions that do this and I won’t go into them on here as they are rather complex for even me to understand.

So, as mentioned I have battled with depression and mental illness for around 22 years now. I have recently turned 30. As you can see my mental health issues begun at a rather young age. I come from a family where my mother had chronic mental health problems that were prevalent, and are still so, throughout my childhood. It has affected me in ways I did not realise until recently actually. This is not an excuse for any stupid or idiotic behaviour by any means but at least I feel I am beginning to get answers to some of that behaviour.

It is fair to say that life has not been easy for me, it has never been nor will it ever be. I have not only battled physical health issues from birth but also had to contend with a hearing problem (which later turned out to be Aspergers) that was exacerbated by meningitis a little before my 2nd birthday. I had brain damage as a result of this potentially lethal disease, okay so this sounds scary but it was (fortunately for my family) the memory and hearing parts of my brain that were affected.

I have a poor short-term memory which I have trained and managed to get some control of back but ask me what I was doing at 346pm yesterday I could not tell you, however if you were to ask me what I was doing at 346pm on the 25th October 2001 and I would be able to tell you quite clearly. I would be able to recall exactly what I was wearing and doing, I would even be able to remember the conversation I had with the person I was with at that very time!

Hearing wise, I lost 70% of my hearing in the right ear and 50% in the left ear. I had multiple operations for grommets after glue ear (am sure there are many mothers out there who have been to A&E with their child because of this). When I was in Year 7, aged 12, I received hearing aids and was made a Special Needs child. A lot of my depression stems from being bullied because of my hearing problems.

However, my first ‘foray’ into mental illness was at 8 years old. I have chosen not to explain the why’s and the what’s for this situation as it is still something I have to deal with. My first diagnosed mental illness was an eating disorder, Bulimia. Those of you who do actually know me may find this laughable now as I do love my food, mind you some foods do not love me. It is not something I openly discuss but it was a very scary time. It has left me scared to be sick, I hate being sick. If I am I find myself having a panic attack. I have to stop myself from bingeing even now. I could quite happily eat all day with some foods. It has also left me very touchy about weight remarks. I may be a big lass now, this is due to steroids for Crohns Disease mind you, but this does not mean I am constantly reminded of the past battles. As I said before, I am not going to get into why I had bulimia but it still is there in my head.

The bullying because of my hearing problems intensified from around 10 years old. It was at a boarding school, aged 10, that I experienced my first thoughts of suicide. Obviously I did not comprehend what these thoughts meant at the time, I just felt that life would be so much better for all those around me if I was not alive anymore. I did not act upon these feelings but I remember the fear I had, it was overwhelming and very frightening. I was at that school for all of 2 terms. I am, in fact, good friends with one of the bullies now which may sound odd but I am the kind of person that forgives. I recall it taking my mum ages to pick me up from school, my dad was even flown home from a detachment in Italy things were that bad. I was covered in bruises which I thought I could hide by putting on layers of foundation, it did not work as my mum would see them when she came to kiss me goodnight (when she came = rare moments). At the time dependents were still seen by RAF Station Medical Officers, or SMO’s, and he did not feel I was depressed. He merely said I should get a grip. A comment that led to me hiding a lot of my depressive thoughts until my teenage years.

In my teenage years I had the usual angst teenagers go through but I was still experiencing horrific levels of bullying. At 14 I was still wearing hearing aids and was at a comprehensive school that had a special needs unit (if you could call it that). An incident sparked off something that led to me actually acting upon certain thoughts.

I was being bullied by 3 specific girls, we shall call them Nicola, Anna and Sarah for the purpose of this blog. It was a Thursday morning and we were in Woodwork class (it was part of Design Technology). I was working on a rather lovely bird table and was in my own little world working with Andy, my best mate at school and am still mates with him to this day. I suddenly heard my name being mentioned in derogatory manner and, for some reason, I turned round to ask Nicola why she was being so nasty about me. Anna and Sarah both joined in at this point shouting ‘C is a deaf shit, C is a deaf shit and I hope she fucking dies’ amongst many other taunts they could fit in within a 5 minute period. Obviously I started to get upset when Sarah said she would give me something to be upset about. Before I knew it, and right in front of the teacher, she slapped me on the right cheek. The force of her slap caused my hearing aid to fly across the room as well as the safety specs, my hearing aid actually broke. A hearing aid that had taken a good 7 years to get. I did not retaliate, I am not one for confrontation. My mother was called into the school, fortunately she only worked 20 minutes away, my dad was away with the RAF in the Falklands. After a short drive home, my mother dropped me off and had to head back into work. I assured her I was just going to veg out in front of the telly until she got home at 5ish.

It was after she left that I felt a dark cloud gathering in my head. I had those thoughts back again, I had to end my life in order to make others lives far better. I was older now, I knew what suicide was. A teacher from the school I was at had killed themselves in the summer holiday before. He apparently was so upset at the death of his brother that he felt the only way to answer his problems was to join him. He hanged himself. I thought that if I took my life that my family and friends would be better off because they would not have to keep dealing with picking me up from school or wondering why I was sleeping all the time when I was not at school. Knowing full well my mother had antidepressants she no longer used in the medicine cupboard I grabbed the box and a bottle of vodka from the drinks cabinet.

Half a bottle of vodka later and 24 pills on, I woke up in hospital about to be force-fed some charcoal drink. It was at this point that my mother sat up and listened to my plight. You would think it would drive us closer when in fact it drove us further apart sadly. I do not know whether any lasting damage was caused by taking those pills but it is safe to say that was not the last suicide attempt. It was from then I was put on my first lot of antidepressants. I was withdrawn from the school at very short notice and subsequently went to another boarding school, there were incidents of bullying there but not to the extent as before.

My suicide attempts happened as late as 28 years old. I won’t go into my mental illness as an adult but it is safe to say that counselling has helped me in many ways. I do not seem to get on well with antidepressants anymore so I rely on having a good support network around me. My friends are like family to me and are there for me in so many ways. I love them all for the support they give me.

There is one part of the illness as an adult I will discuss. It is something one of my closest friends finds annoying, it is annoying even to me.

I have TRICHOTILLOMANIA and have had it for around 7 years now. It was triggered by something that happened at 22/23 years old. It is classed as an impulse control disorder as well as self harm. It is when one has the urge to pull out one’s hair, this can lead to noticeable hair loss; distress as well as social/functional impairment. I will sit watching telly and not notice I am doing it, if I have company then they start to stare at me. It is a tricky thing to explain, I do not have nits it is just part of my mental illness. Apparently, although a small element of control can be regained it is very difficult to actually get trichotillomania under full control.

I have counselling now every week, I usually have 12 sessions then 6 months off. I am currently 3 weeks away from having those 6 months off. I do not seem to tolerate the medications they have tried with me and I rely on those around me to keep me strong, they tend to notice when I am going downhill. If I notice I am going down hill then I can get some sort of help from a friend who is a psychiatrist.

There is a saying that could not be more appropriate at the end of this article, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’

As mentioned at the start of this article I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about anything I have mentioned here.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your time.

Take care xxxx

My Superhero is Raising Money

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/TheBigWalkinaidofTroopAidandThePilgrimBandits

The above link is my friend’s Virgin Money Giving page. My friend is Lee Bradshaw and I met him through Twitter. Lee is walking from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to Horse Guards, London. This will be around 123 miles walked.

Ok so this walk is special if he was just doing it in tracksuit bottoms, but Lee being Lee he has gone all out. He is actually going to be wearing a full Nuclear Biological and Chemical suit (NBC suit) and a 35lb Bergen (rucksack) on his back for the duration of the walk. There are a few people doing the challenge alongside Lee. The mammoth challenge will start in September 2012 in aid of Troop Aid and The Pilgrim Bandits. Troop Aid’s website is http://www.troopaid.info and The Pilgrim Bandits website is http://www.pilgrimbandits.com

Troop Aid and The Pilgrim Bandits support troops in ways that many other charities cannot.

There are two ways you can donate money. You can donate by visiting Lee’s Virgin Moneygiving page, or you can text to donate £1.00 on your mobile phone just text code TAPB50 £1 to donate £1 to 70070.

Lee is on Twitter and will gladly answer any questions you have about the challenge. He is my superhero and please support him as best you can! I shall be joining Lee, and the people who have walked alongside him, on the last day as they head towards Horseguards Parade.

Thank you.

One Strike And You Are Out

Firstly, I must apologise for my lack of blogging in recent weeks. There are no excuses! Secondly, this blog article is something I wrote after hearing on the news that some patients have been, and are, being struck off for merely complaining. As you know, dear reader, I am not one to shy away from getting on my ‘soap box’ about news articles or opinions from others that cause controversy.

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General Practitioners, or GP’s, we should all have one. We either visit them once in a blue moon, or we visit them on a very regular basis like me!

In this country doctors undergo years of training. This training does not stop after they have qualified as doctors after successfully completing a medical degree. A medical degree is either 5 or 6 years in duration, the 6 year degrees are usually intercalcalated (ie they also do a BSc or BMedSci) which allow the doctor to carry out research at a later date if they so wish. After the 5 or 6 years they will do 2 Foundation Years (FY1 and FY2) within a hospital environment before launching into Specialism training, this training will depend entirely on what they are choosing as their specialist area (ie gastroenterolgy or surgery). Even when they reach the dizzy height of Consultant they will continue to learn new techniques as well as teach others at the beginning of their medical careers.

My sister, who qualified as a doctor in 2010, is now an FY2. In late Summer 2012 she will begin her specialist training, her chosen path will be anesthetics and Intensive Care medicine. Both of which are quite intense and come with a lot of responsibility.

Anyway, I digress. GP’s do their medical degrees followed by their Foundation Years followed by 3-5 years of General Practioner training. In total a GP will have had (if they have done a 6 year degree) around 13 years of medical training followed by regular courses they will do to enhance their skills as doctors.

A GP must be able to diagnose illnesses competently as well as potential spot things like child abuse; domestic violence; drug/substance misuse to name but a few. GP’s are allowed to carry out minor surgical procedures such as wart freezing. They are also required to refer a patient to the correct Consultant (Specialist) or service on either a standard referral, or an emergency if the situation warrants this. GP surgeries usually have at least 3 doctors and at least 1 nurse as well as countless admin staff.

To register with a GP you will need to have identification as well as proof of address. Once your address is logged on their system a new NHS card will be sent out to you. Surgeries will usually have an emergency appointment system as well as the normal one where you can book up to 4 weeks in advance to see a particular doctor. All surgeries will be linked to an Out of Hours service, in some cities/towns these will be located at a hospital and others where the surgery is based on a rural area then the GP may come to you.

I have read an article in the Daily Mail, GPs ban patients just for daring to complain: Entire families unfairly removed
from practices following trivial disagreements

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2050225/NHS-complaints-GPs-ban-patients-following-trivial-disagreements.html#ixzz1bsnRNwRu

I find this absolutely disgusting. Patients have every right to complain if they feel that something has gone wrong or they feel that the way they have been treated is appalling. Some of the comments at the bottom of the article are striking to read, it is unethical but I do know that this is going on. I have known a friend who was struck off of her surgery’s list simply for complaining that the doctor asked her not to bring her children with her next time, she merely spoke to the Practice Manager who appeared sympathetic. However, around 10 days later she received a letter from the very same Practice Manager informing her that she had been taken off of the practice list. This does not just happen to ‘healthy’ people, the aforementioned article actually states the various mistakes that have been made. There are also links to other stories related to this matter. Needless to say that it is horrid hearing people having such vindictive behaviour shown to them after making a comment or complanint.

Personally, I have experienced horrific misdiagnosis by 2 different GP’s. I remember feeling so small for complaining, the last GP I had did not seem to think I needed anything more than codeine for pain. I am now on Butrans (buprenorphine patches) and Oramorph as breakthrough pain relief for severe back pain.

It is your right, as a patient, to complain; question a decision/diagnosis; ask for a referral; be examined with a same sex chaperone; see a doctor on an emergency basis and many other rights!

You absolutely have every right to complain, without prejudice, if you feel that you have not had the right treatment or have not been spoken to in an appropriate manner. You should not be struck of the surgery’s list if you do make a complaint.

My advice to you is to check out http://www.pals.nhs.uk PALS is also known as the Patients Advice and Liason Service. They not only give advice and support but they can also assist with any complaints you may have about any NHS service.

You can change your GP at any time, you should not be bullied out of the surgery you are at now. If you do have see the GP frequently, build a good relationship with them if you can but do not be afraid to ask them questions about any treatment you are about to start!

Do not be afraid to voice your concerns. Speak up for yourself, if you cannot then get someone to do it for you.

For now, dear reader, keep safe and keep smiling.

Hidrafighter xxxx

I Have Crohns Disease

Crohns is like a marriage or a relationship, it has it’s great moments when all is ok but equally it has it’s shitty moments when things go to pot.

I know this blog is predominantly for my Hidradenitis Suppurativa but for this piece I shall open up, so to speak, about Crohns Disease (also known as regional enteritis).

Crohns Disease, I shall refer to this as CD throughout this piece, is an Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It is not to be confused with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. CD is, as yet, incurable but is is ‘managed’ using medications as well as surgery. It is an incredibly painful disease.

Crohnies, an affectionate term I feel, go through active periods and then (if lucky) will go into what is known as remission. I know remission is more commonly known for cancer patients but with CD it is when the sufferer will have few or no symptoms.

CD is diagnosed by knowing a patient’s history; doing thorough blood tests and endoscopic procedures (camera tests in certain orifices). A person may experience a number of gastrointestinal symptoms as well as external symptoms. If you are of a squeamish nature look away now as I will list the symptoms here.

Gastric symptoms

  • Abdominal pain and/or;
  • Diarrohea (which may be bloody due to inflammation in bowels at it’s worse and/or;
  • Vomiting (can be continious) and/or
  • Weight loss

Non-Gastric symptoms

  • Skin rashes
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Poor concentration

Obviously every CD sufferer will experience different symptoms with varying severity. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, this means the body’s immune system causes problems which results in the inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. There is also scientific proof that genetics play a part in it, my mother actually has CD too.

In Europe it can affect, dependent on country, between 27% and 48% per 100,000 people. I am unsure of the statistics in somewhere like North America. CD will usually make itself known in teenage years or early 20s. It is known for some elderly people to develop it in later life too due to their declining immune systems. Sadly some people are misdiagnosed and do not get referred to Gastroenterologists, this is something you must push if you feel you are having problems anywhere within your GI system.

There are many complications with Crohns. However, unless you have a perforated bowel that is left untreated you are not going to die from this disease. As mentioned before it is all about managing the condition with the right medications for you as well as making lifestyle changes that ease symptoms.

Crohns varies in location and severity, my Crohns is in the ILEOCOLIC regions. This means I have several areas where my bowel is diseased, I had a section of bowel removed when I was diagnosed as well as my appendix!

I have only ever been in full remission twice in the decade since I was diagnosed. At the time of diagnosis the gastro doctor stated he, going by gastric symptoms, felt I may have had Crohns since my mid teens. As there is a link between HS and CD I would agree, this would mean I have probably had Crohns for around 15 years fully. That is half my life!

I have tried many different medications including anti-TNF treatments (Humira); chemotherapy; steroids and opiate pain relief. I have active Crohns at the moment, and bearing in mind it is stronger than morphine, and the pain is breaking through Fentanyl. I am having Humira tomorrow (it is for both CD and HS) which will ease symptoms along with codeine.

It amuses me that people are a bit scared of talking about bowel habits both with each other and their actual GPs. You never know, one discussion could lead to getting help with symptoms and/or specific GI conditions. Open up for goodness sake, you could save a life.

The tests you will need to have throughout the disease are intrusive and do make you feel vulnerable, well they do for me anyway. The two that are the most common are a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy. I would recommend you choose sedation for both of these procedures, they will not do it under a general anaesthetic. You will also need to take purgatives, these clean the bowel out, the day before said tests.

Gastroscopy is where they will put a camera down your throat to look at your upper GI tract, they will more than likely take biopsies. Colonoscopy is where the camera goes up your back passage to look at your lower GI tract, again biopsies will probably be taken. Both of these procedures are uncomfortable but they are necessary. You can, if awake enough and are not squeamish, watch what is happening on a screen.

There are many other tests they do but I don’t know all of them, well not yet anyway!

If you, or someone you know, have Crohns Disease I can thorough recommend an excellent book. It is called ‘Foul Bowel’ and is written by the lovely John Bradley. John has Crohns himself and has written a guide that is easy to understand. It will help you even if you have had Crohns since the Dark Ages or if you have just been diagnosed. He is on Twitter as @Johnbradley1 and his website (he blogs too) is http://www.foulbowel.com – there are details of how to and where to buy his book. I do believe you can buy his book in several formats including Kindle, do not quote me on that though! In his site there are actually some amazing reviews of his book. I actually strongly believe his book should be available on prescription it is that good.

If you are diagnosed with Crohns, make sure you get a good support network around you. Your family may not understand the disease but if you have access to social media you will find so many people on those sites in the same position as you. Do not be afraid to, when being referred to specialists, ask for a specific consultant. Do your research about particular hospitals as well as the consultants too. Do not be afraid to ask for pain relief, this condition is incredibly sore sometimes even when not grumbling. Do not google too much into your condition, whether you have Crohns or any other condition as you will scare yourself.

Humira Hiphiphooray

It has been a while since I last blogged on here, for that I do apologise.

There have been a few developments since I last wrote in terms of my health. Mostly to do with the Hidradenitis Suppurativa and then also my back. My back has been playing up rather a lot in recent months.

Last week I struggled on a walk that I had done many a time. When I mean struggle I mean I was in tears within moments. At the first possible opportunity I saw my GP. I am unable to take NSAIDs, or anti-inflammatories, due to my Crohns Disease. As I was already on morphine tablets as well as other medications I had no choice but to take diazepam. These are working, they only work when am taking it steady and not walking for more than 10 metres at once. I have to stop for a break even if going to the supermarket down the road, this was a 2-3 minute walk before now – it takes me 3 times as long. I have been referred to yet another specialist, I will of course keep you updated with regards to this.

As for the HS, well I saw my specialist this past weekend. I have been told I can restart the Humira. I shall have to have the obligatory lung xray as well as yet another blood test. I did have the first injection this week so that it can start to do what it does best. I have posted a link about what Humira is and what it is used for. If you do have any questions then please feel free to ask or share your experience with Humira, both good and bad.

Humira (adalimumab)

Humira (adalimumab). This is the link about the treatment I am restarting, if you have any further questions then please get in touch. Thank you.

Birthdays Come and Go

So dear reader, as you know it was my birthday the other day.

I had been spoilt rotten by my mum and stepdad plus many other gifts from people various. I decided to head to London all by myself for the day or part of it at least. I met with my lovely friend E who gave me some lovely gifts and bought me a gorgeous caramel latte, I even got a free muffin as it was my birthday – so thank you Starbucks it was a lovely gesture. E bought her little one along, and her little one is adorable and I managed to get chalk on my backside – apparently this is the sign of a Mummy hehe! No don’t panic, the only ‘children’ I plan on having are little fluffy ones in the form of cats.

After saying goodbye to E I set off for the train station feeling confident and happy. I really felt as if I had turned a corner in life and had felt that yes, a new outlook was being kept. Ticket bought I got on the train and began the 51 minute journey. I had decided to go to the Imperial War Museum, it is a place I have been many a time before but it is almost as if it changes every visit. I had a great time wondering around at my own pace. As the day wore on however I became more aware of my back being really sore and my right leg was numb. Fortunately I had a heat patch with me this seemed to help for the duration of the trip.

I went for a pizza and ate way too much but I enjoyed myself. Knowing I had to get back to my home town for a charity function at church I left Leicester Square and headed back to Victoria, the next train was within 15 minutes – perfect.

It was a fantastic day, a day that really proved to me that being 30 and having a new outlook on life is a beautiful thing.

For now, keep smiling and keep laughing – it is good for you!

30 Rock

Apologies for not blogging all that much in recent weeks. I have had to rely on being able to go to an internet cafe but this has not always been possible, however my mother bought me a laptop for my 30th birthday as a joint present with my ‘stepfather’ I am loving my new toy.

Tomorrow, Saturday, is my birthday. My 30th birthday. It is the start of a new era for me. My 20’s, apart from a few things, have been pretty awful in all honesty.

So seeing as it is the end of an era I thought I would share some past good memories with you all. Any persons mentioned are referred to by the initial of their first name.

The most recent good thing that has happened to me in life would be making friends, in real life, with someone from Twitter. She is a truly suerb woman who has recently given my some brilliant advice and is a wonderful listener, she makes me feel like she would be there no matter what. I know E will read this and I hope she realises the impact she has had, plus I would hope she knows I am there for her too.

Another thing would be meeting someone again who is slowly making a huge impression on my life. We met at work nearly a decade ago and have kept in touch all these years. It is early days yet but she is fantastic and makes me feel life is happier than ever. She is, however, off to Afghanistan. I will be starting a blog on that subject later this month after she departs. She can make me smile just by saying sausages, don’t ask!

Going back to my religion, Catholic, after a small hiatus has also been a good thing in my life. Going to church puts me at ease, I feel at peace whilst in my sanctuary. I have made friends whilst there and also become involved in social concerns such as soupruns and befriending the housebound. I do not do a lot but it allows me to meet those less fortunate than myself. My faith continues to allow me to grow, things are looking good too in that respect.

I am not going to speak about the bad stuff that has happened in the last decade because it is all in the past now. Life is way too short to focus on the past, look to the future and remember it is not a rehearsal.