Kidneys, fatigue, and Crohn’s


Ironically, two weeks ago I was planning to sit down and write a blog post about how I stay motivated to workout every day. No, I don’t spend 1+ hours in the gym everyday like I did when I trained for my fitness competitions (I’m getting too old for that and have too many other things to do–like drink wine and go boating!), but I’ve been working to refine my efforts so that what I do to stay fit and healthy is enjoyable, effective, and quick–with no room for excuses. But here I sit, writing to tell you that I have not worked out in two weeks. This is rare for me.

I didn’t lose my motivation or run out of time, I got sick. For the first time in more years than I remember, I threw up. Then, everything hurt. It felt like I had reached peak muscle soreness after a good workout, but it wasn’t just one muscle group, it was every muscle. My urine turned red/dark brown and I was nauseous. To top it all off, my personal telltale signs of Crohn’s were returning once again (it’s been a rough six months)–bloating, cramping, mucus, and even some blood this time.

To be honest, I had almost forgotten what it was like to live with pain all day, every day. To wonder what I should eat–if I should eat. Having every free thought focus on my digestive system and what it was doing. Do I dare go anywhere? I think having Crohn’s is like walking a tightrope…I may be feeling well, energetic, and like I can conquer the world, but the entire time I’m hovering over disaster. Well, I’ve lost my balance. But, on the bright side, I seem to still be hanging on to the rope.

I laid in bed for one day, hurting so bad that I don’t think I could have gone anywhere if I wanted to. The next day, I started feeling better so I thought it would be wise to call my doctor, since my urine was definitely not normal. Within 24 hours of having labs run, the nurse from my doctor’s office called and said there was “a lot” of blood present. A normal amount of red blood cells in urine is 0-4 cells per high power field; I have no idea what that means, but mine was 67 and it was visible. My instructions: drink lots of water and wait for radiology to call me so I could be put on the schedule for an ultrasound of my kidneys.

Turning to Google, I’ve now developed a short list of possible things this may be–ranging from insignificant to severely toxic. So, I’m pretty sure that for the next three weeks I’ll be mulling those over in my head again and again while I wait for my kidney ultrasound in November. But, I’m not in pain and the doctor didn’t think it was necessary I come in immediately, so I’ll wait. But, after two weeks I still feel constantly fatigued (feeling like I’m on the verge of being sick, fighting off a cold), bloated, cramped, and frustrated because I’m once again trying to figure out how to solve this puzzle.

I’m not good at waiting, so I have to do something to make me feel like I have a little more control. Since I don’t have enough energy for a full workout (sidebar here: I think two straight months of chronic stress at work combined with exercise to push my body physically to stay active and strong, on top of fasting and bringing back sauna sessions, was more than my body and its faulty-immune system could handle…the culmination of which, I think, is my current state of malaise–diet alone is no match for stress and is merely one part of the equation)…so, as I was saying, since I don’t have enough energy for a full workout, I’m focusing on short rebounding sessions (5-10 minutes at a time right now) combined with a few pushups and body-weight squats or pistol squats.

What is rebounding? I’m glad you asked! I’ve been wanting to write about rebounding for a while, so I’ll keep it short here and expand on it later…basically, it’s jumping on a mini trampoline. I use Dave Hall’s Cellerciser. Some of the great things I love about rebounding are that you can do it at home, you can control the intensity, it hits every cell in the body and gives you a great full-body workout, astronauts rebound after returning from space to rebuild bone mass and strengthen joints, and it moves the body’s lymph fluid–which helps boost the immune system (among other things, the lymphatic system transports immune cells throughout the body).  

I’m also drinking raw milk again. I put aside my raw dairy and fermented vegetables for the last 10 months that I’ve been on this carnivore diet experiment, but the last six months I’ve really been struggling to feel my best. I’ve spoken before about the benefits of raw milk and although it’s still a controversial topic, I feel that I do better with milk in my diet. So, back to the farm so I can have my two cups a day!

I’m also drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV) again…not straight out of the bottle, but about 1TB mixed in a water bottle that I sip on throughout the day. One of the possible causes for blood in the urine is kidney stones, which are also somewhat common in Crohn’s patients from what I’ve been reading. So, according to the great World Wide Web…ACV can help dissolve kidney stones. There are a lot of other touted benefits to drinking ACV every day, so I figure now is as good a time as any to throw it back into the arsenal.

Along with my rebounding and pushups, I’m also working inversions into my daily fitness activities. I have a portable pull up bar that I set up in the spare bedroom I do my at-home workouts in and have hung a yoga swing from it so that I can completely relax into a controlled inversion. There are a lot of ways to do an inversion, the key thing is that your head is below your heart. You can do an inversion with just a slight decline position or completely flip upside down. Inversions are said to help circulation, detoxification, aid in digestion, boost the immune system (also by moving the lymphatic system), and promote relaxation. I know for me, I feel incredibly calm and relaxed after just a few short inversion sessions…throw on a little Enya and it’s a complete stress reliever, too!

Finally, I’m making a very deliberate attempt to control my stress levels. Managing a chronic illness like Inflammatory Bowel Disease definitely requires a multi-pronged attack, but I truly believe stress management should be at the top of the list. I’m sure I’ve said it before (though I’ll probably do a much more in-depth post on it later), but stress can wreak havoc on the body. Many Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis patients report major flares right after immensely stressful periods or situations in their lives and I think it was a major factor in my current health derailment. That’s why I’m making it a priority now…better late than never…and I’m determined to give it more than just lip service this time. Therefore, I am promising myself to include a good book with my coffee every morning, a few inversions with some relaxing music, and learning to say no–especially to last-minute requests…because the world will keep turning and life will go on, despite what others (those who are making the requests/demands) may think.

Since I took a few weeks off from working out and would have felt like a fraud writing my workout-motivation post without this explanation, now that I’ve come clean, I think one of my next posts will be about some of the tricks I use and activities I enjoy to make sure I keep working out every day. I’ll also be sure to keep you all updated as to what happens with the ultrasound in November 🙂

Until then, cheers to good health!

Leave a Reply