A blog about living with ulcerative colitis and healing a flare using integrative medicine
It has been about one month since I last posted a health update, and in that time, my health has continued to improve! My symptoms have quieted down more, I’m gaining weight, and I’ve had more energy. My Crohnology health graph (from the beginning of the year) looks like this:
I’m just reaching what I would call the “Spontaneity Threshold” – where I can go for long enough periods of time without needing a comfortable bathroom and place to sit that I can make impromptu choices to go to unknown places. Earlier this month, the most I could do was drive (or be driven) to various doctors’ appointments, and a couple times I even needed to cancel because of how I felt that day. But today, on my way home from my therapist appointment, I stopped at the grocery store for some baking soda (turns out ours is pre-Y2K), took the backroads home to enjoy the effects of the recent snowfall, and turned onto a dead end road to see what the end looked like. I got out, snapped a picture, and then drove home, stopping at one other scenic spot for another photo-op. This would have been nerve-wracking and exhausting before, and it possibly would have led to answering the call of nature in nature; I didn’t just extend the time it normally takes to get home – I actually got out of the car at all my stops – physical movements that at my sickest could have led to me needing to use the bathroom. When I’m at my sickest, I just try to stay still unless I’m in my own house. Now, I can go adventuring. (Well, for an hour or so anyways; I’m not past the threshold – it’s just beginning to come into view.)
It’s incredible how an increase in physical health can have such a stimulating and positive effect on the mind and spirit. With my symptoms more at bay, I’ve been experimenting with baking, have made dinner for my parents several nights, and have added three new pages to my blog. The pages I added are in the left margin: “My Recipes” (a directory of all of the recipes I’ve posted), “IBD Resources,” and “Recipe Blogs I Like.” The last one took months of searching for and bookmarking various recipe blogs and days of scrutinizing the 25 I thought I liked to get a list of 10 that are the cream of the crop. If you’re looking for healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free recipes, I recommend checking them out! A few are grain-free for you hunter-gatherers and SCDers, and a few are vegetarian.
As for the baking, I bought three gluten-free flours that seem like healthy and handy ones to have based on a bunch of recipes I looked at while sorting through my bookmarked blogs – millet flour, brown rice flour, and buckwheat flour. My first experiment went really, shockingly well, and my second one ended up acceptable after a hefty intervention. I’ll leave the first one as a surprise for when I post the recipe (hopefully tomorrow), but I will tell you that the second one was supposed to be bread and ended up being crackers and crumbs once I realized that the dough was neither rising nor cooking on the inside and I resorted to chopping the loaf into pieces and baking those to get it all to cook entirely. On the bright side, I think I created a great cracker recipe!
I’ll keep trying to make bread, though, which is rather challenging without gluten, yeast, gums, or starches. Every recipe I’ve found online has at least one of these or other ingredients I don’t want to use, and I realized that the millet bread I bought has baking powder – not baking soda, so it’s not quite as simple as I thought. (Baking powder has cream of tartar and potentially cornstarch in it – which I’m sure aren’t too harmful in their small doses, but I would like to find a better alternative.) Since I can’t base my recipe too much off of others, I’ve had to learn a bit about food chemistry to learn how to make my dough rise. What I have learned to far – which is a very fundamental thing to know – is that baking soda is alkaline and will only help dough rise if it’s mixed with moisture and something acidic, like vinegar. I don’t eat vinegar, but apparently I could use honey or molasses instead.
Some may say I can’t make bread with my approved-ingredient list, but I was also told that my colon could never heal because the cells needed to form new tissue were wiped out, and look at how true that bold and seemingly evidence-based statement was. So, I will experiment on!