Life and Living with Crohn's Disease

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Top 5 Crohn’s Disease Related Health Concerns

I know many of you saw this on various social media currents, but yes, it is true, I have decided to enter the Runners World Cover Search

rwcoversearch entry 437 susie suzlyfe

And to be honest? It kind of scares me sh*tless. But if there is one thing that I have learned in my 27 years of existence, sometimes you have to do something that empowers you to dream big, because only by dreaming big will you push your limits far enough to realize your potential. To live beyond expectation. To be a #badassunicorn (and, yes, they did ask the entrants to pick a hashtag for themselves and yes, I did pick #badassunicorn. BECAUSE I AM YO).

I would love your vote, (and you can vote once a day!!) but I am not going to beg or bludgeon you all for it. In the end, I simply hope that being a part of the contest will continue to help me to push my own boundaries and to get my story out there so that maybe my story might help someone else to dream big. 

Vote for Suz! #badassunicorn #437 #RWCoverSearch http://coversearch.runnersworld.com/entry/437/ Click To Tweet

While we are on the subject of hopes and dreams, I want to talk a little bit about the future. More posts on Living with Crohn’s Disease.

Living with Crohn’s Disease : My Top 5 Health Concerns Related to Crohn’s Disease

There are a great multitude of complications that come with Crohn’s Disease. Today I am going to BRIEFLY discuss five health concerns that are of especial issue for myself and my future.

Please remember that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as it were, and that I, again, am not a professional or specialist in the field, but a patient. Please consult with your physician for any concerns regarding your illness or your body. 

My Top 5 Health Concerns Related to my Crohn’s Disease and Treatment

crohns disease top 5 health concerns suzlyfe

Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and Bone Health

One of the major side effects of cortiosteroids is an increased risk of osteoporosis, a condition that is already a concern for most women and is something that runs in both the men and women of my family (Check out Farrah’s post on it here!). I had a bone scan done at 24 (following grad school) and I was already classified as “osteopenic” or having decreased bone density/precursors to osteoporosis. This is part of the reason that it is so important for me to be involved in strength training and weight bearing activities, take birth control, and maintain a healthy diet high in calcium to help me combat this risk. 

When I first got injured, I spoke of the fact that my body is more likely to suffer injuries due to my medications and the manipulation of my immune system. It is why I am honestly not surprised by my stress reaction/fracture (regardless of how carefully I train) that I am currently dealing with, nor am I surprised by how long it is taking to heal (doesn’t make it easier to deal with, though!). For reference, leading up to the injury, I was running about 20ish miles a week.

Fertility and Hormonal Health

I mentioned that hormones were closely linked to my Crohn’s and flares–often hand-in-hand with stress–and, to keep things very brief, and I’m sorry for the lack of explanation (I plan to come back to this topic again, don’t worry), getting pregnant is a) not going to be easy b) could basically cure me c) screw me over for life. We know that fertility is something that is often on my mind, and we also know that my body doesn’t do much properly regulate its hormones well.

My body to me.

My body to me.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have NEVER had normal periods. Before my Crohn’s diagnosis, I had very heavy periods, and though they were regularish, they weren’t, really. After my diagnosis, forget about it. I will fess up right here and right now to something that I know a lot of people don’t like to talk about: I do not get a period. And, per my fertility specialist, this is ok in my circumstances. This is not to say that amenorrhea is ok for all The only way that my body can support a “normal” period is on high doses of synthetic hormones, which is not good for me in the long run for a variety of reasons, so we are sticking to birth control for my bone health and mood (you are welcome, Alex). 

breathe meme

Deep breath. Getting pregnant, or at least trying to get pregnant, is something that is very scary for me. Read my post on some of my big fears about getting pregnant, and why marathon has been beneficial for me in addressing those fears, here. We are going to have to take me off of drugs that are keeping me healthy (and that got me healthy) in order to try something that may or may not work, and then to try to get pregnant (which may or may not work), and then try to stay pregnant (which who knows what that will do) and then deal with the aftermath. 

screw it meme

Deep breath. In short, I am terrified. I will come back to this later. For right now, I need to keep going with this topic!

Skin Health

Beyond fistulas and tissue break down, it is very important that I watch my skin closely for changes in my moles and other abnormalities. Farrah did a fantastic post yesterday on Skin Cancer, and so I am going to point you over to her for that. But the meds that I am on, the tendency of skin to break down, and also the fact that you can often tell your gut health through your skin make it very important for me to keep a close eye on it! last point: my skin doesn’t heal as well–I am more prone to scarring and keloids (build up of scar tissue). Mouth ulcers are common as well when I am flaring.

Liver Health

This is a big one. Many people forget that the liver is also a component of the digestive system, but remember–the liver is a processing plant for the body! Consequently, liver health is a HUGE concern for Crohn’s patients. Furthermore, the meds that I have been on in the past as well as the ones that I am on now are essentially not to be mixed with alcohol for several reasons, but most importantly, just know that in addition to having the potential for making me feel ill, they can do me a great deal of harm in the long run. 

I like options.

I like options.

I know that I often talk about alcohol and mixology on this blog. PLEASE KNOW that I am not a big drinker. Those beers and drinks? I have sips of them. I have a full cocktail or glass of wine to myself probably 4 times a year. Otherwise, I would say I total a drink and a half a week maybe. Soon I will talk about balancing this with college–I think that will be eye opening for a lot of you!

Anemia and Malabsorption

Because this post is going way longer than I anticipated, I am going to be a bit brief about this, also as I covered bits of it in my first Living with Crohn’s Disease post. Anemia is blood iron deficiency, and in IBD patients, it largely results from ulcers and inflammation in the digestive tract. Symptoms include fatigue, sallow skin, cold hands and feet (HELLO), shortness of breath, dizziness, and a bunch of other fun things. I combat anemia through a healthy diet (now that my body can more efficiently absorb nutrients) as well as iron supplements (only take iron supplements as prescribed by your doctor!!!! also, take them with Vitamin C, like OJ, to make it easier on your tummy, and avoid taking alongside calcium).

crispy m and ms

Malabsorption was a big issue when I was younger and sicker, but now it is just something we keep an eye on, making sure my vitamin levels are doing ok. Malabsorption is a big issue for growing kids who are flaring!

.@Suzlyfe's top 5 health concerns related to Living with #crohnsdisease #fitfluential #health Click To Tweet

Ok, that is a lot for today, but I really wanted to lay it all out there. There are a bajillion (technical term, obvs) of other concerns for Crohn’s patients, but these are the ones that are at the top of my list for reasons other than the normal (though I am sure many are on other people’s minds as well!).

I often talk about Living Beyond Expectation. What is a boundary that you are thinking about pushing in the future? Even a little one, like trying a new sport or food or way of doing your hair!

I know that I went over things a bit more quickly that I typically do–what would you like a follow up on? What would you like me to discuss next?

What magazine cover have you dreamed about being on the front of?

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