Travelling With Crohn’s Disease

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The Definition – Crohn’s Disease: Crohn’s Disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the digestive system. Inflammation is the body’s reaction to injury or irritation, and can cause Ulcers, redness, swelling and pain. It’s actually named after a doctor who suddenly reported a few cases back in 1932.

Ice-cream In Girona!
Ice-cream In Girona!

Crohn’s Disease to me – a big fat pain in the arse. You can take that as literally as you like. There is nothing sexy, attractive or nice about Crohn’s disease, it just is what it is.  I was diagnosed after a year of playing ping pong with hospital consultants and local GPs. Endless delightful tests such as colonoscopies, MRIs, x-rays, biopsies and so on finally determined that I in-fact had Crohn’s Disease mainly effecting the Ileum (lower part of the bowel).

Cycling in Amsterdam
Cycling in Amsterdam

It all began following a trip to India where I had been one of the lucky ones ‘not’ to endure the mandatory ‘Delhi Belly’. I felt great the whole time, I loved the food and I didn’t care about jumping in rivers like some of the others. On the return journey, however, all the troubles began and it would seem that the trip had likely been a trigger to activate my disease. Some people will have it their whole lives and it will only appear at an older age – if only! At 18 years old I was suddenly unable to work, leave the house, or pretty much do anything thanks to the constant abdominal pain, the endless trips to the bathroom, throwing up after food and many more side affects. People don’t tell you that you’ll most likely lose all dignity within the first few months of this disease!

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Charity Work In India

I, however, am not the best at listening to doctors. I will of course try to get better as best I can and follow medication, but I am not willing to give up my travel and lifestyle for the disease. There are lots of people that will let it totally consume them, and during a flare-up I can see why. It’s absolutely agonizing and you don’t often feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel – temporarily. I intend from now on to document a little more about my travelling with Crohns because there are lots of doctors that said I shouldn’t travel, or even take a two week vacation. Stubborn as it sounds – that’s just not me. Like most health issues, having Crohn’s isn’t fair, it’s taken a lot of my early 20s in a different direction, it’s affected my weight in both ways and I am not about to let it take away my passion for travel or food!

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Cooking In Prague

Only someone with Crohn’s or IBS can understand how it feels when….

  • The ‘Seatbelt’ sign comes on just as you are about to use the bathroom.
  • You realise the gorgeous European street cafe doesn’t have a toilet facility whilst you are halfway through your Bruschetta.
  • You need to ask the person sat in the aisle seat to move for the 8th time on this flight.
  • You try and ask the waiter in broken English ‘Is this dish spicy?’, knowing how that will affect you!!
  • Wearing baggy kaftans over the bikini is the only option to hide the swollen stomach after lunch.
  • Getting up so early just to allow time for breakfast to settle before setting out for a day trip
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Cycling in Barcelona

…..and I could go on and on. But instead here is what I’ll be doing…. 

  1. Regular recipes that support a healthy lifestyle without eating rabbit food and feeling left out.
  2. Travel tips for those suffering with Crohn’s, Colitis and IBS.
  3. Tips on the best Travel Insurance for Crohn’s and pre-existing conditions.

Support

My first tip to kick start this series is to show you the support that I have and what there is out there already. Firstly you should really be a member of http://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/ (or the relative charity in your country). They have great impartial advice and also work with medical professionals to have their website updated by the experts. It’s very little to become a member and they cover all aspects of living with Crohn’s & Colitis – also it’s all for charity!

My second recommendation is to sign up to http://ibdpassport.com/. This is a website created by IBD Nurse Kay Greveson, from a London Hospital, for those traveling with the disease. It can offer a lot of information, more specifically on where to find help in different countries, having researched and gathered information from across the world they know most international guidelines for those suffering with IBD. You need to sign up with your information, but it is kept private and not used with any third parties. It’s also free so why the hell not?!

Recipe Of The Week – Avocado and Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 1 Slice of brown or white bread toasted
  • 1 to 2 poached eggs
  • 1/2 avocado mashed
  • Teaspoon of lemon Juice
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Chilli Flakes
  • Butter (optional)

My first recipe is very simple but effective. A slice of brown toast (if you have a flare up you may prefer white bread as it is easier to digest). Simply mash up half an avocado, mix in a little lemon juice, cracked black pepper, sprinkle on some sea salt and spread thickly onto the toast. Place one or two poached eggs (should be runny!) on top and finish with a little more black pepper and chilli flakes! If you are having a flare up feel free to lose the chilli flakes – they aren’t always that kind to us!

It’s so simple but I have found it to be the perfect fuel to start the day and it’s great for portion control. Not forgetting the Avocado has proven to lower the harmful cholesterol and increase the good, with research showing those that consume it regularly have a much better diet overall. It’s easy to eat too much when you have IBS or Crohn’s, but this dish is so tasty and packed with goodness it will see you right through till lunch!

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If anything, I want others to find some hope that you can still achieve most of your life goals, and that you are not alone! If you travel with Crohn’s or have any questions please feel free to contact me through my website or comment below.

Hospital Food - "An nn-tapped market if ever I saw one!"
Hospital Food – “An untapped market if ever I saw one!”

N.B I am not a doctor, nutritionist, nurse or health professional. All my opinions and experiences are my own and may not be the same for everyone else. The pictures featured on this post reflect some trips where I am feeling great and in remission, and some where I suffered badly and needed medical attention. If you are looking for clinical advice then please go and see a Doctor!

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Discovering Malaysia

 

7 comments

  • This is such a fantastic idea for a series, and one I will most definitely be reading religiously – I’m currently undergoing tests to find out what’s wrong with me, and following a pretty substantial weightloss, there’s talk of IBS/Crohns. I’m so, so with you on the waiting until breakfast has settled until you can even think about leaving the house, and with all of these tests, I’ve had to put numerous travel plans on hold (making me even more resentful of my situation) – so I can’t wait to read your travel tips!

    Thanks for covering such an under-reported issue.

    Steph xx
    Lay It Bare

    • Hi Steph, Thank you so much for your nice comment! I’m sorry you’re going through it all, you sometimes feel like a pin-cushion with all the testing. I hope they find out soon enough and get you onto some good treatment. Getting everything under control is always a struggle but believe me it is possible and you’ll often have long periods of time (sometimes years) with no symptoms at all! If my post only helps you feel like you’re not the only one then I’ve done what I wanted. All the best, Lizzy xx

  • Very inspiring post Lizzie

  • Hey! I’m so glad I found your blog. I’ve got Crohns too and am off travelling in September then moving to Kuwait! I started a blog to document the trip and also how I cope with crohns whilst we’re away. We seem quite similar in that we don’t let Crohns stop us from doing what we want to do. Good luck with your future travels!

    Sophia
    https://wanderlustwon.wordpress.com

    • Hi Sophia, wow that all sounds amazing! Good for you! I will make sure I follow you and your travels, it sounds so exciting. Hope all goes well, keep in touch :) Lizzy

  • I cannot express how happy I s to have visited this page and appreciate and commend u on your honest disclosure – u just helped and gave many people much needed confidence! !!!! Bravo. Bella.

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