Sunday, January 22, 2012

C-reactive Protein Test (CRP) vs Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR or sed rate)

Wow, so I feel like I'm doing all the research here. Although I haven't yet fully discussed the results of my CRP test with my holistic gastroenteroligist who says, "don't start up on meds," I have discussed it with my medical doctor who says, "start taking 1600 mg of Asacol, twice a day." I have an appointment with my holistic doctor to discuss this in more detail on Tuesday. Until then I am not taking my medical doctor's recommendation to start back on medication, and instead I've been doing research.

Before I took the CRP test, I was lead to believe by Tanya, the PA, that it was a more accurate test for Crohn's. So I was thrilled to hear that my CRP was normal!! Yay!!! Yes, that's right. It came back normal. Yet still my medical doctor is recommending that I go back on medication even though all other tests are normal. His reasoning is because some people cannot raise their CRP, and because mine was normal it must mean that I am one with this problem. Therefore, he wants to use the prior ESR test as the primary indicator of my Crohn's activity.

The problem I have with that, is that with my online research, the ESR can be elevated because of things like smoking, salts, temperature of the testing environment, and even being exposed to high altitudes. Additionally, the ESR rate doesn't respond quickly. and may not return to normal for weeks after there is an improvement in the condition.

Another thing that can raise the ESR is an elevation in red blood cells. Well, because I was anemic, I had been worked on raising my red blood cells, and my hemoglobin went from 10.9 to 11.9 so clearly my red blood cells increased.


Now a little about the CRP rate. It elevates between 4-6 hours of a stimulus and returns within 3-7 days following the removal of the stimulus. Meaning, if I ate onions, and that is what caused inflammation, or if the high altitude of Vail was the cause, then once I stop, the CRP would be back to normal within one week. 

I was in Vail January 5 through 9, and I ate onions on January 8. My ESR was taken on 1-10. Whether the elevated rate was caused by the increase in elevation, the onions, or something else, it can take several weeks for the ESR to go back to normal.

My CRP test was taken January 16, eight days after I ate onions. This was ample time after these events for the results not to be affected by them.  

Study after study that I read about online indicates that the CRP is a better test of Crohn's than the ESR. It will be very interesting to hear what my holistic doctor has to say about all of this in detail. I'll update you.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Test Results

I went for my 3 month follow up to take some test to get a status on my progress. I was looking for three specific results to be positive. Good news....bad news...

  1. My hemoglobin was 10.9. I needed it to raise to 12. 12 Is considered normal and not anemic; below 12 is anemic.Great news is that my hemoglobin was 11.9. I'm so close that I'm not concerned. This change occurred without taking iron supplements and by making dietary changes only. This is very good news!!
  2. Due to the difficulty in getting B-12 through a plant based diet, I am taking B-12, and tested this to ensure that what I was doing was sufficient, and it is as this test result was fine.
  3. My sediment rate when checked 3 months ago was 36. Normal is between 0-20. The sediment rate is a judge of the amount of inflammation in the body, and since Crohn's is an inflammatory disease, it is a good indicator of active Crohn's. This is the test that my results did not come back good. In fact it came back very bad, at 100. Now, the sediment rate is an indicator of inflammation in the body, not just Crohn's and many things can cause an elevated sediment rate. 
On a positive note, there are several things that can cause an elevated sediment rate. One thing, for example, is eating foods that are inflammatory. I send my holistic doctor, Dr. Azar, my food log weekly on Mondays. On the evening of the 8th, two days prior to my test, I ate onions. When responding to my food log, she inquired about what type of onions I ate and how much. She informed me that onions are inflammatory and that I shouldn't be eating them at this stage of my healing.

Secondly, I have a little sinus congestion. Nothing significant, but it's definitely there which also has some inflammation. So ultimately, I am hopeful that these are the reasons why my sediment rate was so elevated, and not my Crohn's.

The last time my sediment rate was checked, I was still on medication. I've been off medication now for 2 months. One of the medications I was taking was an anti-inflammatory, so it is possible that I have more inflammation today than when I was taking an anti-inflammatory, but severe inflammation would definitely be a problem and a 100 sediment rate, if it's related solely to my Crohn's, is an issue. Therefore, we need to find out for certain if the high sediment rate is directly related to my Crohn's and not the other issues. 

I return on Tuesday to have two follow up tests completed. These tests are more time consuming to get the results, but they will be a better indicator if there is an issue brewing with my disease.

The two tests that will occur on Monday the 16th is a Stool Hemoccult and C-reactive Protein test. The Stool Hemoccult determines if there is blood in the stool. If there is, than likely it is due to active inflamed Crohn's ulcers. There doesn't appear to be, but sometimes it's such a small amount it cannot be observed.

The C Reactive Protein test determines the amount of C-reactive protein in the body. C-reactive protein is a plasma protein that rises in the blood with the inflammation from certain conditions. It's not normally found in the blood of healthy people. It appears when there is inflammation from certain conditions and disappears when the inflammation goes away. Conditions that commonly lead to increases in C-reactive protein include infection, trauma, surgery, burns, inflammatory conditions such as Crohn's and colitis, and advanced cancer. So as you can see, it simply is a better indicator of inflammation than the sediment rate. 

I'll update you all on the test results once I get them. Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pizza...My favorite!

I used to order a small veggie pizza from Papa Johns often on weekends. Extra sauce, cheese, jalapenos, onions, green peppers, baby portabello and parmesan. The delivery guy even got to know me. Well evidently Papa Johns is having random drawings for free pizzas. And guess what? You guessed it! I won a free pizza.  My name was randomly selected as one of this week's 60,000 Papa Rewards members to receive a free large one-topping pizza. Haha. Well maybe one day I will be able to eat it again, without the cheese:)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Perspective and Adaptation

I'm in Vail, CO at the moment snowboarding. It's really a good get away. I have come here on my own, and I'm getting much rest, exercise, alone time, and plenty of time connecting with nature. It's everything my Crohn's needs to heal.

When I travel, I now bring my small steamer and blender so I can prepare most of my meals. I arrived on Thursday, and other than lunch with a friend, I have prepared all my own meals. It not only is good for healing, but it saves a lot of money. I just stopped at a Whole Foods on my way from the Denver airport to Vail. It really is the only way to ensure I get the nutrition needed while traveling. I'm beginning to get used to it.

I'm very blessed to be healthy enough to be here but I feel like such a light weight.

In July 2011, I weighed 155 lbs, and between then and now I lost 30 lbs, and much of it was very suddenly when I had my first Crohn's flare up. The two weeks that I was my worse, in bed, only drinking liquids and detoxing, I lost about 20 lbs. I'm certain that I lost a lot of muscle during that time because I have never been this sore from snowboarding ever. My quads are so sore today after two days of boarding that I only made it about 3 hours on the slopes and I had to return to my room to rest and get in my whirlpool tub in hopes to help them feel better so that I can make it longer tomorrow.

My calves are sore, too. I've never had my abs sore from boarding that I can recall until now. Even my arms are sore. Haha.

Now it doesn't help that yesterday the conditions were a bit icy and you have to dig deep to cut an edge so it takes more muscle than if there was freshly packed powder. Today, we had 6-8 inches of snow so far. Yay. Conditions are soooo much better. I could handle a black run today:) Yesterday it was too icy to ride a black. It was great today, but again, it simply takes more effort to ride choppy powder than packed powder, so my body again had one hell of a workout.

 In the past I would have been disappointed because of the icy conditions over the past two days, and the fact that I'm so sore I cannot ride 7 hour days like last year.Ultimately, however, I recognize that I'm blessed to be here. My health is greatly cooperating. How many people with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis ever feel good enough to take a ski or snowboard trip, and even if they do, they're gut is always bothering them, and a bathroom needs to be close by. It certainly puts a damper on the trip. None of this am I experiencing right now. Cross your fingers that I stay feeling this well for a very long time!

I read that exercising at high altitudes prompts your body to increase production of red blood cells because the body needs to be able to carry as much oxygen as possible due to the lack of oxygen in the air. I seem to have adjusted to the higher altitude, so I am hoping that this occurred with me.

If you have been reading my blogs, you might remember that I have been anemic. Well, I return back to Charlotte on Monday and on Tuesday I get have a doctor's appointment. I will get my hemoglobin, sediment rate, and b-12 tested. I'm hoping that the increase in red blood cells actually occured because this will result in an improvement in  my hemoglobin and hopefully be enough so that I'm no longer considered anemic.

The view from my room right at the Vista Bahn Lift :)

I sincerely hope and pray that the many of you that read this blog that are suffering from an IBD one day are as fortunate as I am this day!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How to Expedite Your Healing - For any disease!

Diet isn’t the only thing that needs to change in order to heal Crohn’s or colitis ulcers, but living your life stress free and in harmony with your objectives are also an essential part of healing. You have always heard that stress causes illness, right? Stress, as well as every other negative emotion, starves the body of the much needed nerve energy which is essential to any type of healing or good health. 

Therefore, managing the stresses of your life is absolutely a requirement if you want to be able to live a healthy life. This not only is the case with Crohn’s and colitis, but with any illness or disease. The less mental stress you have the more nerve energy that can be directed to your health.

Think of a computer running multiple programs and processes.  It gets locked up because there’s so much going on that its memory can’t handle it, this can sometimes cause permanent damage to your computer if you leave it this way without fixing the stress on your computer’s memory. So you re-boot your computer, and then the programs you want to work when opened begins to work again the way it was mean to work.

Your body is much the same. When your mind has multiple processes working all at once; if you are mentally or physically stressed, have anxiety, or have negative feelings of any sort, these are like software programs that use a lot of your computer’s memory. When all of these processes are working at once, the solar plexus, which is considered the brain of the subconscious mind, contracts giving less nerve energy to all of the cells in your body. If you are suffering from Crohn’s, colitis, or any other illness, what your body needs more than ever is nerve energy.

You need your computer re-booted:)

Mediationis similar to re-booting a computer. It shuts down all of the processes except for the vitals, allowing your solar plexus to expand and radiate nerve energy to every part of the body. You develop clarity of thought and your body receives the nerve energy it desperately needs. Additionally, the positive thoughts you intend during meditation has a clear impression upon your subconscious mind, so these thoughts can more easily become a reality.

Meditation, to be effective, will require practice. If you haven’t meditated before, each step below should be repeated a minimum of three to four days or preferably every day for a week, or until you’ve mastered each step. Master each step prior to progressing to the next.  Commit 15 to 30 minutes per day every day.

1.              The first step to meditation is to learn how to control your physical body.  

Select a room where you can be alone and undisturbed, and that is available daily.  This is the location you should meditate whenever possible. The method I use is more contemporary and may not follow other traditional methods of meditation, but I find to be more accepted and comfortable that the traditional position of sitting erect with your legs crossed and your hands extended palms up.

Instead of sitting, it is becoming more common to lie on your back with your hands flat at your sides.  This is more comfortable for most and allows a deeper physical relaxation for novice meditators.  In either position, keep your head in alignment so that your spine through your neck is level.

Do not have any noise in the background, including music. Let your thoughts roam where they will but be perfectly still for a minimum of fifteen minutes to half an hour; continue this for a minimum of three to four days or until you secure full control of your physical being. You must master securing control of your physical being before progressing to the next step.

2.                Once you have mastered securing control of your physical body, then you’re going to progress to controlling your thoughts.

In your meditation room, in your preferred position, continue to be perfectly still, then begin to stop all thought. When you have a thought pop into your head, clear it immediately.

This is easier said than done.  If you struggle eliminating thought I have a couple options for you.

Begin to focus upon your breathing, so your only thought is on your breathing. When you inhale, feel the oxygen enter your body and instantly give healthy energy to all of your cells in your body.  Upon exhaling, feel the thought leave your mind as the air leaves your body taking with it the thought and any impurities in your body.

Another option is to simply count every time you inhale and every time you exhale. As a new thought enters your mind, refocus on your counting with each inhale and exhale.

You may also try concentrating on feeling the pulse in your big toes one foot at a time. Once you feel it, stay focused on the pulse. If a new thought pops into your mind, move to your heels and again try to find and feel your pulse and stay focused on the pulse.

Again, if a new thought enters your mind, move to your knees and continue this process on multiple parts of your body every time a new thought enters your mind. You will find fewer interruptions of thought as you progress up the body.

Being able to hinder thoughts will ultimately give you control over all thoughts and will enable you to direct your thoughts to only those you desire, which will include your healing. Continue this for three or four days or until you are able to hinder your thoughts.

3.                 Now that you’ve mastered controlling your physical body, and inhibiting thought, we will take it one step further. Remain still and inhibit all thought, and begin to relax every muscle and nerve in your body, release all tension. 

Physical relaxation is a learned behavior and enables the blood to circulate freely through out your body to and from the brain. If you find this difficult, use the method of feeling your pulse and as you move your concentration from your toes up your body to one body part at a time, relax the muscles around the pulse that you’re focusing upon.

Continue this until you feel still, quite, relaxed, restful and at peace with yourself and the world.

4.                 Next, it’s time to mentally relax and let go of all stress and all negative feelings and thoughts. As always, don’t progress unless you have mastered control of your thoughts and body, and are able to physically relax every muscle and nerve in your body.

You mentally relax by letting go of all adverse conditions including hatred, anger, worry, jealousy, envy, sorrow, trouble, disappointment or fear of any kind. If you have Crohn’s or colitis, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Let all those negative feelings go.

Don’t let your emotions control you. Instead, allow your intellect to take over and control your emotions. Release all negativity. You can let go. And once you do you will experience mental freedom, and the subconscious mind will begin to operate from a fresh new day.  The solar plexus will begin to operate instinctively and it will begin to radiate energy throughout your body.

5.                The final step to meditation is to feel and show your gratitude for your current health and healing. Also, you are to create in your mind’s eye the perfect image of your health and to feel how it feels to be healthy. For those of faith, this is the time within meditation to pray and to do so with positive expectations that God will answer your prayers.

First, spend some time talking to your colon or whatever part of your gastrointestinal tract is diseased. Thank your colon for how it has served you. Be grateful that you still have a colon. Place your hands on your gut and talk with gratitude. Say things in your mind such as, “thank you for managing this disease to the best of your ability. I know you are healing every day, and you are fighting your best to bring yourself to perfect health. You know you will achieve it for me and for that I am grateful.”

Say these types of words while you visualize your colon healing. This type of thinking with gratitude, plants seeds in your subconscious that will germinate and work to help you heal. Not only does this help radiate nerve energy by expanding your solar plexus, but it radiates needed nerve energy for healing directly to your colon.

I know this sounds hokey, but your subconscious doesn’t know the difference between fiction and reality. When a seed is planted, it begins to germinate in your subconscious and when that seed grows, your subconscious will support your visions created. Visualize your colon inflammation going away, your ulcers healing, and your colon becoming healthy again. I actually visualize my colon dancing in joy. Lol.

Next, make a complete mental picture of you living a healthy life; see the trees, friends, associations, everything complete. See yourself living a life of health and physical prosperity. Be thankful for your progress. Concentrate your focus upon your ideal, limitless, fantasy of what you are to become and enjoy the pleasures of living this way again.

It’s likely at first, that you will find yourself thinking of everything under the sun, except your perfect ideal healthy situation. That’s okay if you do, but eliminate any unwanted thought immediately.  Ultimately, you want your imagination to be consciously creating the perfect result of your desired health. Focus upon the end result desired, not how you get there.  See yourself as vibrant and cured. 

Do this for fifteen to thirty minutes daily. The increased nerve energy focused upon your health, and specifically on the area of your disease, will soon result in you having more energy each day and you beginning to feel better each day. Meditation alone, will not cure Crohn’s or colitis, but it will support your other healing steps and make your healing easier.

Now this will not work if after meditation, your self talk tells you that you’re wasting your time and that meditation will never work. That type of impression upon your subconscious mind will sabotage everything that you accomplish during meditation. In other words, not only during meditation, but even throughout the day, eliminate the negative thoughts that pop into your head. Not only will you begin to feel better, but each day will be a happier one!! This type of thinking and meditation will also help you stay committed to your diet and other healthy habits because your subconscious will support actions consistent with the outcome you have created in your mind’s eye.

The most important words you will ever hear are the ones you say to yourself. Make sure that yours are good ones!