Title: Let’s talk Crohn’s disease…
SEO title: How to live with Crohn’s disease, everything you need to know from diet to lifestyle.
Author: Abi Purvis
Publication type: Lifestyle and Health
//strapline// Despite over 300,000 people living with Crohn’s in the UK, I was completely oblivious to this hidden disease until my friend Riss was diagnosed with it.
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Crohn’s is a form of bowel disease that inflames one’s digestive system. Its symptoms are; diarrhoea, vomiting, tummy aches, blood in stool, tiredness, and weight loss.
After a gossip on her bed, Riss admitted Crohn’s is “an embarrassing illness. It’s to do with your gut and your bowel and so that’s a lot of toilet stuff” so we moaned about the bizarre illusion that women don’t poo…
Yes, we do. Get over it.
She can even be visiting the ladies’ room “up to 20 times a day” when having a flare up (on a regular day it’s “5 to 6 times”). She used to worry about what people think, especially while at work. She was concerned that they might think she’d been slacking off to look at her phone, but not anymore. She even feels confident enough to say, “accidents have happened” (I won’t go into details).
She watches her diet carefully to avoid flare ups: “These feel like a constant period pain but where I am constantly having to hold myself in from both ends hello toilet talks. It’s like an intermittent sharp stabbing pain like someone’s got a belt and is pulling it tight around your waist”.
When I asked Riss what foods she avoids because of their inflammatory effects, there were more than I realised. Riss avoids foods that are high fibre, spicy, or have seeds/pips, as well as caffeine and alcohol are all a ‘no go’ for Crohn’s suffers.
Riss described how her tummy “gets angry” when she eats these foods by enacting some gurgles and grumbly tummy noises. This is how it tells her “I’m not happy with you”.
Since having a surgical operation, a long incision (resulting in her “favourite scar” which is 4 inches across her abdomen), and wearing a Nasogastric Intubation tube, Riss proudly has “no sense of embarrassment”.
She counts herself as one of the lucky ones for having surgery as it has normalised her everyday life. She doesn’t have to use a stoma bag, or take steroids, or have injections, which are some alternative treatment options.
Riss informs people about her scars and explained how “people are really interested, which helps to spread awareness”. She has shared her Crohn’s journey on Instagram here. In August she hosted a mini festival and raised £2,500 for the charity.
Every 30 seconds someone is diagnosed with Crohn’s or Colitis.
After teasing me for my professional question ‘What advice would you give someone who has been recently diagnosed?’ (I was glad to see she was being supportive of my writing aspirations) she said:
“Listen to what your Doctors says. Yes, some foods you miss, but at the end of the day you’re okay. Don’t be embarrassed and live life to the full.”
Riss is currently happy, healthy, and living her life.
I am one proud friend.
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Thanks for reading, and thanks to Riss for being an amazing friend and letting me interview you x
If you want to follow Riss’ Crohn’s journey you can check it out on her Instagram here