It’s now been over 12 months since I last saw a consultant regarding my Crohn’s diagnosis and bowel resection operation back in December 2015. At that particular appointment I was told I’d be seen every six months which hasn’t been the case. I suspect that this is not because of an oversight by The NHS but because I’ve chosen not to take up a drugs regime and therefore don’t need such close monitoring.

Just Say No-ish!

The drugs I was offered were Azathioprine, Infliximab and Adalimumab. Now I remember the old Grange Hill song “Just Say No” and taking drugs is a bad idea. OK maybe not these drugs, but the idea of being dependent on drugs to suppress my immune system didn’t sound appealing! Even more so when you start exploring the side effects of the drugs mentioned.

So after chatting with the consultant the plan was to go away and find out how my body reacted following the operation and see if there was any issues arising. If I felt the need to look at prescription drugs then the option would be a phone call away. Mind you that’s probably dependent on whether if I could ever get an appointment!

Fortunately I have my own regime. In the early days after the operation, I spoke to quite a few people and each have offered different advice and suggestions about looking after myself.

Vitamins & Bacteria

I now take three different tablets daily, although whether they help or not I don’t know, but it’s so far so good. You can buy all the below at Holland & Barrett and the only side effect is the cost if you miss out on their penny sales!

1. Enteric Coated Oil Of Peppermint – I take one of these first thing every morning with a glass of water. As I understand it, they help settle the acidity of the stomach and the enteric coating ensures the peppermint breaks down in the small intestine. I also take one capsule any time when I’ve over eaten just to help settle things.

2. Nature’s Way Men’s Multi Vitamin – Should we be taking vitamins? Do they do any good? Who knows but these tablets are a good size, easy to swallow, vegetarian and mean I get vitamins in!

3. Acidophilus With Pectin – Apparently there’s 3 billion friendly bacteria in every capsule. I wonder who counts them? As I understand it Crohn’s occurs when the good bacteria in your stomach starts getting attacked by the immune system. I guess piling more good bacteria in could be helpful?

The latter tablet was suggested by someone who said they’d suffered from Inflammatory bowel disease for years. They’d tried various prescription drugs with no success so gave Acidophilus a try. The result was they suffered IBD issues a lot less.

Diet & Fitness

My regime doesn’t just involve the tablets above. As mentioned in a previous blog, caffeine has gone out the window, along with salad, wholemeal foods and anything fizzy (including lager). I’ve also reduced the amount of processed sugar in my diet. That doesn’t mean I don’t eat sweet things, but what I eat has changed dramatically. I do try and avoid shop bought cakes and desserts – at first that was hard, but now I just find them a tad too sweet.

Fitness is perhaps the biggest area of change. Eighteen months ago I’d have contemplated me doing regular exercise as being as likely as making cakes with avocado instead of butter! I now do both and neither are as bad as you think. Honest!

I now try and train four times a week – two bootcamps, one sprints session and a personal trainer 1-to-1 session. I did start to do more including rowing and Park Run sessions but I was then picking up injuries from over doing it. I’ll cover the fitness – and avocado cake – a bit more in other blogs.

Method In The Madness

The idea behind all the above is quite simple. Be sensible with what I eat and monitor my health through fitness. If the food I’m eating is good then hopefully my insides don’t have a problem with it. The tablets I take may or may not help, but for now I’m assuming they do. If I have to face the operating theatre again then by being fitter I should be in a slightly better condition to deal with it.

It is a massive change of lifestyle from 2015 but I do feel better for it and if it keeps me out of hospital or away from the prescription drugs mentioned above even better. Will the above help you? I don’t know the answer to that question but hopefully it might give you something to think about if you’ve been diagnosed with an IBD.