Saturday, May 23, 2009

World Crohn's & Colitis Day

Happy World Crohn's & Colitis Day!

Crohn's and Colitis affects 7 out of every 100,000 people. There is no cure. More research is needed to work on effective treatments until a cure is found. Crohn's is an embarrassing and painful illness, often involving surgery. It can be controlled with medications and although diet does not cause Crohn's, food can trigger violent flair-ups.

So, What have you done to help raise awareness of this debilitating disease today?  

see more Lolcats and funny pictures


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Everly Councilman Charged Says Pot Was Medicinal

A Siouxland councilman who's been busted for possession of marijuana says the system is broken when it comes to helping him and others.

Steve Rank has served on the Everly, Iowa city council for the past seven years. He's also served on various committees and volunteer positions in the town. His battle with Crohn's disease has been about twice as long, and now his position in town is in jeopardy as he tries to find a way to cope with pain.

Steve Rank is on various medications as he deals with his Crohn's disease as well as two herniated disks in his neck. For him it's his only legal option to deal with the pain associated with his illnesses, his main source of pain being the Crohn's, an inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract, a disease that Rank says is both painful and embarrassing.

"Deep, deep horrible pain in my gut, constant diarrhea, going to the bathroom 8 to 15 times a day, couldn't eat food, it got to the point anything that when down, I threw up," says Rank of his symptoms.

Rank says he has used marijuana sporadically over the past 15 years to help ease the abdominal pain and nausea so that he could eat solid foods again. The medications he was prescribed could only do so much for him, and he considers them to be much more dangerous.

"Any one of these drugs here you can die from overdosing," said Rank as he looked over his small arsenal of prescribed medications. "Any one of these drugs here have serious, serious side effects."

Rank says the side effects include abdominal pains, nausea and bloody stool, the same symptoms of the disease they're supposed to treat. Rank says his choice to use marijuana for medicinal purposes puts him in a hard spot since it's not legal to do so in Iowa, plus it makes things difficult as a public figure.

After his arrest for possession May 11, many folks in town aren't sure he should keep his post on the council.

"Any kind of drug used by anybody, whether you're on council or not, is wrong," said Pam Boelman of Everly. "If it's illegal, leave it alone."

"He is a good councilman. What he did was wrong and, gosh, I don't know. If he wants to give it up that should be his choice," said Kathy Watkins, also of Everly.

"There's no reason to have a vote. I think he should do the right thing and step down," said Everly resident Brad Phelps.

Rank says he will plead guilty to the charges and face the consequences, but hopes future chronic pain sufferers won't have to do the same.

"When I was at the jail the deputy asked me 'I imagine you're not going to smoke marijuana again?' and I told him 'well, yeah I am.' And he looked at me and its like 'you took my drug but you did not take my disease,'" said Rank.

Rank met with the Everly city council for the last time Monday night. He decided to hand in his letter of resignation to avoid anymore negative attention to the council and the town, and says leaving was inevitable anyway as he has plans to move out of state in the next couple months.

Currently 13 states allow the medical use of marijuana. Iowa considered legislation on such a measure this past session and will likely discuss it more when they reconvene.

Article posted on ABC9

So, what are your thoughts on Marijuana use in the treatment of IBD?


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

IBD in the Workplace Survey by CCA

I received this e-mail yesterday from Crohn's and Colitis Australia and thought I'd post it here for others to see and possibly complete. 

Important Survey for all members living with IBD

IBD in the Workplace 


Employment stability and security are issues on everyones mind in this current climate, and even more so if you suffer from a chronic illness such as IBD. Over the years, we have received many calls from members who were confused about their rights and obligations in the workplace. CCA has heard too many stories from people who suffered discrimination at work due to their condition.


In response to this, our 2009 National Crohns & Colitis Week Campaign will focus on the workplace, employment issues, and challenges faced by people living with Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. 

To help support this years important public awareness campaign, it is necessary for CCA to gather strong, credible data. To achieve this, we have developed an online survey to give our members the opportunity to be heard. 


The only participation requirement is that you are over 16 years of age, and have Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. If you are a carer for someone with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, please encourage them to complete the survey.


The survey can be accessed at and will take approximately ten minutes to complete.


Please complete the survey by Sunday 24th May 2009

Your support is extremely valuable. It is only through sharing your experiences and challenges that we are able to raise awareness and improve the lives and employment opportunities for people living with Crohns or ulcerative colitis.

The information gathered from the research will be used to;

·         Raise public awareness through various media outlets

·         Influence employers and governments to establish supportive and fair work environments for people living with IBD

·         Assist with targeting our communication and media campaign

·         Help create an understanding of Crohns and ulcerative colitis, and dispel some of the misconceptions.

The survey is completely anonymous, and being completed by our research consultants StollzNow Research. Your answers are covered by the Market and Social Privacy Principles under the Privacy Act and the Market and Social Research Society Code of Professional Behaviour.

If you have any questions about the survey and its purpose, please call Crohns & Colitis Australia on 1800 138 029. If you have any technical questions or problems with the survey, please call StollzNow Research on 1800 010 543.

Thank you for your support and participation, your contribution is greatly appreciated.

Australian Crohn's & Colitis Association ABN: 42 082 747 135 

PO Box 2160 Hawthorn VIC 3122 AUSTRALIA Ph: 03 9815 1266


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Crohn's & Colitis Associations

Here are all the links to the various Crohn's & Colitis Associations worldwide.

The Australian Crohn's & Colitis Association

Australian Crohn's and Colitis Association Queensland

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada

European Federation of Crohn’s & Colitis Associations

UK National Association for Colitis & Crohn’s Disease

The Israel Foundation for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

I'm a member of the Australian Crohn's & Colitis Association. Membership is about $40 a year and for that (aside from supporting the association) you get an initial start-up pack and an ongoing subscription to the ACCA quarterly magazine. I'm not sure why Queensland has it's own Association, but I understand that it's merging with the ACCA and will be called CCA Queensland. A new site is under contrution and will available here soon.


Monday, May 18, 2009


I am aiming to blog something everyday, but I haven’t blogged at all the last few days and mainly I put it down to my feeling pretty ordinary. I’ve had Crohn’s since 2001, diagnosed in 2002. During 2002 I was what they term “steroid dependant” which essentially means that the disease only responds to steroids and when the steroids are tapered, the disease flares up again. I was studying at the time and I look back now and wonder how I managed to complete my degree.

2002 marked the beginning of what would be one of the worst years of my life in terms of Crohn’s disease (although this year is giving it a run for its money) and it culminated in my having a resection performed on Christmas Eve. That horrifies most people, the thought of having a major surgery on Christmas Eve, for me, it was much welcomed relief. Anything that would make me feel better.

So following the resection I had three wonderful years of remission. I wish I’d known back then that it was to be short lived; I would have tried to pack a bit more into life. You know make the most of it while I can. When the symptoms re-emerged it was slowly, so slowly that I didn’t really even notice at first. I think that there might have been a little bit of denial in there as well.

Fast forward to now, I have been on so many different medications (which I might talk about in a separate blog) with very little response, even steroids don’t make a whole lot of difference and as if that’s not enough, it appears that I am now having an allergic reaction to Methotrexate. The doctor has given me tablets to counteract the symptoms of the allergy i.e. itching, rash, etc because at the moment the symptoms are quite mild and the benefits of the Methotrexate outweigh the risks of continued use of a medication I’m allergic to.

“But if you go into anaphylactic shock, be sure and go to the emergency dept.” Yep, great advice. I’m not sure what’s more worrying, that some people actually need to be told this or that it’s possible that while watching Grey’s Anatomy I could go into shock.

Anyway I guess it’s on account of this that I’m feeling a little tired and slow these last few days. I have my next Remicade infusion on Wednesday and so hopefully that’ll have me feeling better soon after. My success with this has been limited but I’d be interested in hearing what other peoples experience of Remicade has been.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Review: Eating right for a bad gut by James Scala

The New Eating Right for a Bad Gut : The Complete Nutritional Guide to Ileitis, Colitis, Crohn's Disease, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease by James Scala.

When I was first diagnosed I had absolutely no idea about food and how they impacted on Crohn's. I would go out with friends for dinner and order a salad and prawns and wonder why I spent half the night doubled over in the bathroom. Salads are supposed to be good for you right? Seafood provides much needed omega 3 doesn't it? Suddenly all the rules I used to know about eating were thrown out the window and there were all these new rules that I didn't even know about. Every doctor had a different idea about what I should eat, or not eat. Even dieticians are inconsistent in their advice.

It's so confusing. Over time I have learnt what kinds of foods trigger flare-ups for me. I've learnt what foods to eat during the really bad times. I've learnt what foods will give me those much needed additional portions of protein, Vitamin B, D and iron. James Scala's book is the best guide for what to eat with Crohn's that I've ever read. I think that a copy of this book should be given out with every diagnosis. It's that valuable. In the book the author explains how food impacts on the person with IBD. He talks about the nutritional challenges and how to over come them.

There is a section within the book where James Scala talk's about the "Do's, Don'ts and cautions of food selection" This section was a life saver for me in the early days and is something I refer back to even now. My copy of the book is well read, the pages are creased and it lives on my bedside table.

The New Eating Right for a Bad Gut : The Complete Nutritional Guide to Ileitis, Colitis, Crohn's Disease, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease by James Scala.

From the book jacket: "In this completely revised and updated edition of his classic book on treating "bad gut" diseases, Dr. James Scala presents a new dietary plan that has been proven to help inflammatory bowel disease go into remission. Scala firmly believes that nutrition is preventative medicine and food is the vehicle of its practice. His drug-free food and lifestyle program offers relief from the pain and embarrassment of living with these mysterious and chronic ills while providing reassuring step-by-step guidance..."

Definitely worth checking out.


Thursday, May 14, 2009


A colonoscopy is one of the most common procedures for diagnosing and evaluating Crohn's Disease. Anyone with any kind of intestinal disorder will be more than familiar with it. I for one insist on being knocked out for the procedure, but I know other people who like to be awake to watch the monitor as the camera snakes it's way through their large bowel. I know of others who've been given a DVD of the procedure, which I find both intriguing and weird.

So today I decided to see if I could find some footage of the colonoscopy. I know, I seriously need to get a hobby.

Explanation of a Colonoscopy

CSIRO Colonoscopy Simulation Rendering

This is obviously not real. I can pretty much guarantee my intestines aren't that pristine.

Actual Colonoscopy

This is what a healthy colon looks like.

There are plenty more but most of them are pretty disgusting, so I'll let you trawl through YouTube for colonoscopy's to your hearts content.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Economic costs of IBD in Australia

The Australian Crohn’s & Colitis Association (ACCA) released a report on the economic costs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Australia and the results are quite astounding. Even though the report is almost two years old now, it’s still relevant and makes for an interesting read. Below is the two page summary report, but you can read the full report on the ACCA website.

From the two page Summary report into the Economic costs of IBD in Australia:

Basic facts about IBD in Australia
• Over 61,000 people have IBD (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) in Australia
• 28,000 people are living with Crohn’s disease, 33,000 with ulcerative colitis
• Around 776 new cases of Crohn’s and 846 new cases of colitis are diagnosed every year
• Crohn’s disease is more common in females, ulcerative colitis is more common in males
• IBD can be diagnosed at any age, with peak onset between 15 to 40
• Prevalence will increase by 20% for Crohn’s disease & 25% for ulcerative colitis by 2020
• IBD accounts for just 0.1% of the total allocated recurrent health expenditure in Australia

• In any year IBD is more prevalent that epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema and schizophrenia
• The burden of disability for people living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis is comparable to living with rheumatoid arthritis, severe asthma, or the amputation of an arm
• Disability due to IBD is more severe than living with Type 1 diabetes or epilepsy

Total economic costs of IBD
• The economic cost of IBD in Australia is $2.7 billion, which includes a total financial cost of $500 million and a net cost of lost wellbeing of $2.2 billion
• Loss of productivity accounts for $266.7 million (55% of total financial cost)
• Health system costs are $79.0 million (16%) and carer costs $23.5 million (5%)
• The loss of taxation revenue and government payments total $91.3 million (18%) and out-of-pocket and funeral expenses are $36.2 million (7%)

Areas of greatest financial cost:
• Lost productivity accounts for more than half the $500 million financial cost of IBD.
• The productivity costs of $266.7 million include absenteeism, workplace separation and early retirement and premature death
• The estimated annual costs of absenteeism for people with IBD are $52.3 million ($8.2 million incurred by employees and $44.1 million by employers)
• The annual cost of lost earnings due to workplace separation and early retirement from IBD is $204.2 million
• Premature death accounts for $10.2 million annually

Areas of greatest challenge
• Community awareness levels are not high, IBD is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Stigma is often associated with IBD, due to the symptoms
• Late diagnosis and inappropriate investigation and management are substantial problems
• The cost of pharmaceuticals can be prohibitive, forcing some patients into surgeries that might otherwise be avoided
• Long-term impacts on employment prospects can lead to inadequate leave entitlements and superannuation
• There is little employment protection against redundancy and demotions and poor information and support for employers and employees
• Currently there is no public funding of community based delivery of support services for people with IBD – ACCA relies on donations, sponsorship and membership fees to provide services
• There is a need for more research into the ‘cause, care and cure’ of IBD. Currently research accounts for just 1.1% of 0.1% of the health budget
Report Recommendations: A National Strategy
• Increase community awareness to help understanding of IBD and reduce stigma
• Improve education programs to assist earlier diagnosis and management
• Provide better access to latest pharmaceuticals including biological therapies
• Improve health services, especially access to IBD specialists and public sector treatment
• Workplace education programs to help keep people at work and counter discrimination
• Greater support services for people with IBD, their family and carers
• More funding for research and development to further investigate the epidemiological observation that the incidence of IBD is increasing

About ACCA
• The Australian Crohn’s and Colitis Association is the peak body representing people with inflammatory bowel disease in Australia
• ACCA’s mission is to support the Crohn’s and Colitis community with a focus on confidential support programs including education, advocacy, counselling, increasing awareness and generating and utilising funds for research and support
• ACCA’s Information Line receives more than 1000 calls a year
• Around 2000 people attend ACCA IBD Forums around Australia ever year
• ACCA is a registered not for profit national organisation funded entirely through membership fees, donations and fundraising activities.
• ACCA does not currently receive financial support from either the state or federal governments
• Donations are tax deductible
• For more information about ACCA visit or call 1800 138 029


Monday, May 11, 2009

Space age bathroom

Last week I was in the CBD. It was a Wednesday and you know what that means? That's right it's my day off work with no pay where I run round like a chook with it's head cut off seeing doctor's, getting injections etc etc etc. I have a standard 9:30am appointment with my GP for the Methotrexate injection which is good because it forces me to get up and get moving while the day is young. It's also bad because it forces me to get up and get moving when I'd rather stay in bed.

Since I'd recently been stimulated by K-Rudd* I decided to splurge on a box of Haigh's Chocolates. As usual the CBD was packed and busy. I eventually found a park a million miles from where I wanted to go. Of course the moment I parked the car I realised I had to go to the toilet. LIKE RIGHT NOW. There was one of those space age, fully automatic, self cleaning restrooms (yes I said self cleaning - They actually exist, go figure. Although a home version doesn't as yet). But whatever, a bathroom is a bathroom so in I went.


As soon as the door closed and locked behind me, I threw my bag and coat up on the hook on the wall and raced over to the loo, dropping my pants as I did so. Sat on the loo I breathed a huge sigh of relief. That was a close call. It was then that I became aware of a soothing male voice which was coming through a speaker in the wall.

"Welcome" The voice said. "You have 10 minutes to use this facility. After this time the door will open and the self cleaning process will begin" Huh.... wait... what? Did you say 10 minutes? That's a lot of pressure for a Crohnie, I'm not sure I can meet those expectations. All of a sudden I felt quite uneasy. The door opened out facing the road at a set of traffic lights.

I was quite sure that in 9 minutes some poor unsuspecting driver is going to get an eyeful of me, on the throne, pants around my ankles, panic-stricken look on my face. I was also quite sure that said driver would have a camera phone handy and would have more than enough time to pull it out. I could see the youtube video as clearly in my mind.

Well, just as you can't hurry love, you can't hurry this particular activity either. I looked around for the toilet paper and at first I couldn't see it anywhere. I always carry some in my bag so I wasn't to concerned. It was about this time that I noticed the signs that were all over the bathroom.


Too bad if you don't speak English. I hit the button for the TP and it "Come on you stupid thing." I urged, "Don't you know I'm on a time limit." When it did finally come out, I realised with dismay that it wasn't nearly enough and I'd have to do it again. For the rest of the time I was in there I had one eye on the light, waiting for it to start flashing. When I was done I went over to the magic sink and sure enough as soon as I placed my hands under it, the toilet flushed. the soap and water came out. Again not enough, I had to do it twice more.

As I pushed the button to open the door, the same male voice thanked me, and wished me a good day. I found myself actually saying out loud "Thanks, you too." Luckily no-one was around to hear me talking to an automated toilet.

A few days later I was relaying this story to a friend who far from being amused actually looked like she was in pain. When I asked her if she was ok, she informed me that she too had used one of these new toilets, but she had not made it out in time.

Apparently her mobile had rung as she went in. She chatted away for 5 or so minutes, completely unaware that time was ticking. She hung up used the facility and as she was washing her hands became aware of a beeping noise but dismissed it. The door opened and she fluffed about in the mirror, fixing her hair etc when suddenly the door closed and water spewed forth from every direction. She frantically pushed the button to open the door but it remained firmly shut. Shortly after the water stopped and where before there had been water, now there was air. She likened it to being inside a giant hair dryer. The door eventually opened and she emerged, soaking wet, hair a frizzy mess, vowing never to set foot inside one of those ever again.



*Our Prime Minister Kevin Rudd decided to give everybody $900 to spend to help stimulate the economy. Being the responsible citizen that I am, I did my civic duty and spent mine on a KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Cobalt Blue, Haigh's Chocolates, three books from Borders and various DVD's from JB Hifi :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Crohn's Crusaders

I love reading about people who have Crohn's who embark on amazing physical fundrasing feats to raise money and awareness. I like it because some days I struggle to get of the couch, so know other people not only manage it, but go that extra mile encourages me to do that little bit extra. I also find it really hopeful. Having Crohn's doesn't have to mean that your life is over, it doesn't mean that you can't keep on keeping on. Of course I like it because it raises awareness and money, which brings us ever closer to that elusive cure.

So below is something I discovered earlier today and thought I'd share it with you. The article was posted at Melbourne Cyclists website, but do check out Damian's website "The Crohn's Crusaders" too.

Cyclist Damian Watson is about to endure the ride of his life. The 31-year-old South Melbourne man is planning to cycle the 2009 Tour de France route to help find a cure for Crohn’s disease.

Damian, who was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2002, will set off from Monaco on 4 June 2009, one month before the official start of the Tour de France. His ‘Crohn’s Crusader’ cycling team will follow the Tour’s gruelling 3,500km route through Monaco, France, Spain, Andorra, Italy and Switzerland. He hopes his ‘Tour’ will raise much needed funds for research into Crohn’s disease. All funds raised will benefit Crohn’s & Colitis Australia™ in finding a cure for Crohn’s disease.

Both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. They cause inflammation, ulcers and bleeding in the digestive tract and other serious complications that require surgery. Severe and sudden bouts of diarrhoea and crippling pain can lead to malnutrition and poor growth in children. There is currently no cure and the cause is unknown. Damian hopes to see this change within his lifetime. Damian was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in April 2002. He manages the condition as best he can via a healthy diet and regular exercise. Damian is determined to use his healthy-time to make a positive difference and lead the conversation in finding a cure.

“The whole idea of the project is to raise funds and awareness for Crohn’s Disease. I aim to raise $100,000. This amount will fund a six-month research project to help find a cure for Crohn’s,” Damian said. “I aim to raise awareness via the e-newsletter subscribers so that there is a better understanding of the condition and awareness of how debilitating it is to live with Crohn’s disease. While I am determined to complete the course, if I don’t make it, I won’t see that as a failure. As long as I can achieve the above goals I will consider the project to have been a success.”

As part of his mountain training schedule, Damian recently clocked up more than 1000kms in Victoria’s Alpine region. Although describing the climbs around Falls Creek and Mt Hotham as “miniscule” compared to what he will encounter in Europe, Damian said it is good uphill training and assisted his preparation for the event.

Crohn’s & Colitis Australia™ Chief Executive Francesca Manglaviti said: “As Damian gears up for his own amazing challenge, he’s helping to raise awareness about the challenges that people face as they live with Crohn’s disease. He is an inspiration to people living with this illness everyday. Damian is passionate about helping to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and we wish him all the best on the ride.”

Damian has developed the Crohn’s Crusader website where supporters can donate directly to Crohn’s & Colitis Australia™ and register to receive email updates of the Crusaders progress during the ride.


Friday, May 8, 2009


I couldn't sleep last night. I get this periodic insomnia from time to time, I'm pretty sure it's a side effect of one of the medications I'm on. I lay in bed listening to the array of noises coming from my stomach. If I place my hand flat across the lower right hand side I can actually feel movement inside. I have no choice but to come to the conclusion that miniature gut dwelling aliens have taken up residence in my intestines. I think they are having a party.

Sometimes the noises are really loud and pretty embarrassing. I don't really know what causes it. I mean I know it's just the food I've eaten being digested by my poor diseased innards, but I don't know why sometimes it's so load that people give me funny looks and other times I think that if I lifted my shirt you would probably see the gut-dwellers moving about under the skin and yet other times it's perfectly still and quiet. 

I don't remember having this problem during other flare-ups. Maybe I did, but I just don't remember it. I know in comparison to all the other problems, pain, diarreah, side-effects etc etc etc it's really a fairly minor thing... but when it happens and everyone in the room stops talking and looks at me for a moment before continuing with what they were doing, it doesn't feel as minor. 



Thursday, May 7, 2009

Weird & Wonderful Toilets ~ 2

I received this via e-mail.

Painted Bathroom Floor.

Now imgine you're at a party on the tenth floor of a hi-rise've had a few to drink, hence the need to visit the toilet.

You open the door...


Now remember this is just a painted floor!
Kinda takes your breath away...
Doesn't it?


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Omega-3 fatty acids may not prevent Crohn's relapse

I've been taking Omega 3 tablets since I was diagnosed. Then about a year ago I was told that only the enteric coated tablets (which are absorbed in the intestines as opposed to the stomach) were useful in the prevention of relapse in Crohn's because stomach acid basically destroys the Omega 3. So then I started taking the enteric coated ones which were three times as expensive, however it seems that it may all be in vain. This article appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Omega-3 fatty acids may not prevent Crohn's relapse

Researchers from the Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada have found that omega-3 fatty acids are ineffective in managing Crohn's disease.

Found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and are therefore used in the treatment of inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and IgA nephropathy (a kidney disease).

"A significant amount of time and money is spent annually on alternative therapies such as Omega-3 fatty acids, without strong evidence that they are beneficial to patients with inflammatory bowel disease," said lead author Dr. Brian Feagan of Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.

"I encourage Crohn's patients to focus on prescription medications that we know are effective for preventing relapse of disease, such as azathioprine, methotrexate, and TNF blockers," he added.

Researchers said that there is a widespread belief among patients and health care providers that omega-3 fatty acids are effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease.

They said that the belief might have stemmed from a relatively small Italian research study, published in 1996 in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found a benefit for preventing relapse of Crohn's disease.

"Small, single centre clinical trials often overestimate the true effects of treatment. That's why it is important to conduct large-scale, randomized, multi-centre studies in order to confirm preliminary results," Dr. Feagan said.

The new study included two large-scale trials involving 738 Crohn's patients at clinical centres in Europe, Israel, Canada, and the United States from January 2003 to February 2007.

Both trials showed that the omega-3 fatty acid formulation offered no benefit in preventing relapse in Crohn's disease.

Researchers however found that patients who took the omega-3 fatty acid preparation did have significantly lower concentrations of triglycerides, a high level of which is a risk factor for heart disease.

The study is published in the April 9 Journal of the American Medical Association. (ANI)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Controlling Anxiety: Mapping Anxiety

Working out the root cause of Anxiety can be a difficult task. Anxiety is such an overwhelming and dis-empowering experience that it can all too quickly become another thing to feel anxious about. "I'm anxious about going to the supermarket because I just know I'll feel anxious once I'm there". It may take some time to get to the root cause of your anxiety, especially if you have been experiencing anxiety for a long time. But it's absolutely achievable. Every single one of us has the power to gain control over anxiety without the use of medication.

Things to remember:
1. Anxiety cannot hurt you.
2. You are not having a heart attack
3. It will pass

The first step is to try to map out what's happening when you experience anxiety. Documenting the severity of anxiety, the situation where you experienced anxiety, what you were thinking and what you were feeling. Automatic thoughts are usually driven by the emotions you are feeling and fuel your anxiety. By identifying them and replacing them with helpful thoughts you can start to train yourself to respond differently. Identifying the emotions your feeling will also assist you. Sometimes when my anxiety is particularly intense I feel like I want to cry. It took my awhile to realise that it was, in part, a response to the sheer helplessness I felt whenever anxiety took hold. Once I started to understand my anxiety more, I started to realise that I could beat it and that made me feel less helpless.


Below is an example I completed myself about a year ago. I thought it might be more helpful to see a completed exercise rather than just the template.

Anxiety Map - Identifying unhelpful thoughts.

Score out of 10: 7

Situation: Going to the supermarket on the way home from work because I'd forgotten to get stock cubes.

Automatic Thoughts: I need to go to the toilet, I'm going to have an accident, this is a nightmare, I don't want to be here.

Emotions: Frustration, fear, helplessness

Helpful Thoughts: Getting upset will not help me, I will make it to the bathroom, it's just over there. I am strong, everything is fine.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Controlling Anxiety: Technique Three - Self Talk

"oh shit! I'm having a panic attack!" It's what most of us think when we realise we're about to have an anxiety attack. It's usually followed by such thoughts as "oh shit, oh shit, oh, shit" or "I got to get out of here" or "why now, why me" or "I'm going to pass out". They're not exactly the most soothing thoughts. Sadly most of us fuel our anxiety by focusing on our panicked thoughts. 

We use self-talk everyday in a million ways, it's a very powerful technique. Using positive, reassuring self-talk during an anxiety attack can take the power right out of Anxiety.  


Part A: For use during an anxiety attack

1. Have a pre-determined short phrase to repeat to yourself. It can be anything at all that you find reassuring and/or calming. I use "It's ok, it's just panic. I'm ok, take a breath" If your phrase is 5 words long you can recite it like a mantra whilst doing the 5 count breathing and combine the two techniques! 

2. Start repeating your phrase either out loud or in your mind as soon as you start to feel anxious. If it is safe to do so, close your eyes and focus all your attention on your words. 

Part B: As a daily exercise

1. Isolate yourself in a room with a mirror. Make sure you are alone and free from distractions. 

2. Look yourself square in the eye.

3. Tell yourself that you are strong, you are confident, you have nothing to fear, Anxiety is powerless over you. 

Just a note on phrases: try to choose positive phrases such as I am fearless, as opposed to I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid easily becomes I'm afraid when in the grip of an anxiety attack. Also the brain doesn't always process the full sentence, just the key words like I'm and afraid.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Controlling Anxiety: Technique Two - Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive Muscle Relation is a technique that not only has the immediate benefit of deep relaxation but it also becomes more beneficial over time. Using this one daily will help to decrease anxiety, improve sleep, relieve tension and a whole host of other things. It's not unlike meditation.

Use this in a place where you can get completely comfortable, like a comfy armchair or on your bed. When you tense a particular muscle group, do so vigorously without straining, for 7-10 seconds and concentrate on what is happening. Feel the buildup of tension in each particular muscle group. It can be helpful to visualize the particular muscle group being tensed. When you release the muscles, do so abruptly, and then relax into the feeling of limpness. Allow the relaxation to develop for at least 15-20 seconds before going on to the next group of muscles. Allow all the other muscles in your body to remain relaxed, as far as possible, while working on a particular muscle group. Tense and relax each muscle group once. But if a particular area feels especially fight, you can tense and relax it two or three times, waiting about 20 seconds between each cycle.

  • To begin, take three deep abdominal breaths, exhaling slowly each time. As you exhale, imagine that tension throughout your body begins to flow away.
  • Clench your fists. Hold for 7-10 seconds and then release for 15-20 seconds. Use these same time intervals for all other muscle groups.
  • Tighten your biceps by drawing your forearms up toward your shoulders and "making a muscle" with both arms. Hold... and then relax.
  • Tighten your triceps--the muscles on the undersides of your upper arms--by extending your arms out straight and locking your elbows. Hold ... and then relax.
  • Tense the muscles in your forehead by raising your eyebrows as far as you can. Hold ... and then relax. Imagine your forehead muscles becoming smooth and limp as they relax.
  • Tense the muscles around your eyes by clenching your eyelids tightly shut. Hold... and then relax.  Imagine sensations of deep relaxation spreading all around them.
  • Tighten your jaws by opening your mouth so widely that you stretch the muscles around the hinges of your jaw. Hold ... and then relax. Let your lips part and allow your jaw to hang loose.
  • Tighten the muscles in the back of your neck by pulling your head way back, as if you were going to touch your head to your back (be gentle with this muscle group to avoid injury). Focus only on tensing the muscles in your neck. Hold ... and then relax. Since this area is often especially tight, it's good to do the tense-relax cycle twice.
  • Take a few deep breaths and tune in to the weight of your head sinking into whatever surface it is resting on.
  • Tighten your shoulders by raising them up as if you were going to touch your ears. Hold ... and then relax.
  • Tighten the muscles around your shoulder blades by pushing your shoulder blades back as if you were going to touch them together. Hold the tension in your shoulder blades ... and then relax. Since this area is often especially tense, you might repeat the tense-relax sequence twice.
  • Tighten the muscles of your chest by taking in a deep breath. Hold for up to 10 seconds ... and then release slowly. Imagine any excess tension in your chest flowing away with the exhalation.
  • Tighten your stomach muscles by sucking your stomach in. Hold ... and then release. Imagine a wave of relaxation spreading through your abdomen.
  • Tighten your lower back by arching it up. (You should omit this exercise if you have lower back pain.) Hold ... and then relax.
  • Tighten your buttocks by pulling them together. Hold ... and then relax. Imagine the muscles in your hips going loose and limp.
  • Squeeze the muscles in your thighs all the way down to your knees. You will probably have to tighten your hips along with your thighs, since the thigh muscles attach at the pelvis.  Hold ... and then relax. Feel your thigh muscles smoothing out and relaxing completely.
  • Tighten your calf muscles by-pulling your toes toward you (flex carefully to avoid cramps). Hold ... and then relax.
  • Tighten your feet by curling your toes downward. Hold ... and then relax.
  • Mentally scan your body for any residual tension. If a particular area remains tense, repeat one or two tense-relax cycles for that group of muscles.
  • Now imagine a wave of relaxation slowly spreading throughout your body, starting at your head and gradually penetrating every muscle group all the way down to your toes. 

For more information on this, look for books written by Dr Edmund Jacobson, the developer of this technique.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lolcat Saturday

funny pictures of cats with captions
I found this over at icanhascheezburger. Enjoy.


Crohn's Disease Video's


Controlling Anxiety: Technique One - 5 Count Breathing

Anxiety and Crohn's Disease sometimes go hand in hand. Having a condition that causes stomach pain, frequent trips to the bathroom and general discomfort it's really no wonder we feel a little on edge. A lot of doctors will prescribe so called 'anti-anxiety' medication but this is really just a band-aid. These pills actually cause anxiety to get worse over time. They were never intended for long term use. There are a number of techniques you can use to control anxiety. I thought I'd devote the next few blogs to some of the better techniques.

5 Count Breathing is the best technique you'll ever have for controlling anxiety. When we become anxious our breathing becomes rapid and shallow which makes us feel lightheaded, dizzy, our heart beats faster and lights and sounds can seam further away. This makes Anxiety worse which makes us breath faster and shallower.... you can see where I'm going with this.

The 5 count breathing technique does two things, it forces us to slow our breathing down, so we breathe deeper. Secondly, it gives us something other than the rising anxiety to focus on. Both of which will lessen the anxiety.


1. Breathe in to the count of 5.

2. Hold for the count of 5.

3. Breathe out to the count of 5.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 five times

This is great to use when a panic attack comes on, it really does stop it in it's tracks. It has a cumulative effect too, over time anxiety attacks become less intense and less frequent. Some people find that spelling relax instead of counting helps. I advocate doing whatever works for you.

The key here is to breathe through your diaphragm, rather than your chest. To learn to do this is easy. Lay flat on your back and place one hand on your abdomen. Take slow deep breaths in and out. Once you feel your hand rising your doing it right. Your chest should remain fairly still.