Bye-bye Clindamycin and Rifampicin. It’s been a pleasure.

It has been an amazing 9 weeks. I have seen an improvement in my Hidradenitis Suppurativa that I never thought I would. I’ve been living pain-free for weeks. I’ve worn my bikini lots and lots. I’ve spent evenings in the hot tub on holiday. With no daily swelling, I’ve found my trigger foods easier to spot, any little flare being noticeable. I’ve enjoyed nights and days off this crazy diet with little impact to my HS.

I’ve been living!

So now, I’m getting ready to say goodbye. Goodbye to Clindamycin and Rifampicin. My little security blankets in tablet form. My little silver linings. Goodbye to the guarantee that I will have consecutive days of no pain. Goodbye to cheating on my diet.

Guess what? I’m super scared!

I am trying to get it into perspective. I have made progress on working out triggers. I’ve had a long period of nearly 100% remission. I’ve had an even longer time with no open lesions. I’ve found a temporary fix that I may be able to use for future holidays or situations where I think I may not be able to stick to my diet. I have made progress on accepting my new eating habits – although sometimes I feel I am a long way from being fully committed to paleo eating! I have organically phased out certain foods that I believe will very, very rarely – if ever-  pass these lips again. Above all, I have enjoyed my physical freedom and am grateful for being able to once again, experience pain-free living.

Many of you have said that it will be fine. So long as I stick to the diet, I will stay in remission. I’m hoping so. The problem is, life is always getting in the way. Due to the storm damage, I no longer have a freezer. I have lost all my homemade chicken stock, fish stock, coconut milk, bones and gluten/sugar-free goodies I had made and frozen. I have a Campingaz stove instead of a proper stove top/hob. I am in the middle of moving house again – the second time in 6 weeks. I have a second job interview for a 22 hour post – minimum. I need to find a child-minder. I have a super active 2 year old and a very teenage 10 year old! I am dealing with all of life’s hiccups and obstacles in a foreign language. This is enough to make anyone lose their cooking mojo, right??!

To deal with all this, I am trying to focus on staying prepared as much as possible. I’ve been making an excess of food at dinner to ensure I have plenty left over to eat for breakfast or lunch. I am eating plenty of fruit (I am not about to make any inroads on this sugar dragon with this level of stress!). I am looking at lots of lovely recipes of all the foods I can eat. I am reading my lovely new Digestive Health with Real Food book, to remind myself why I am eating like this.

Despite all my efforts and due to the chaos we are living in, we are still having take outs on occasion. I still try to avoid things that I know will really aggravate my HS. However,  I’m sure once I’m off the antibiotics, these foods will cause me big problems, if I were to eat them as often as I am now. That’s what scares me. Just a day or two of undisciplined eating could send me back to those dark days of pain.

On the positive side, I will be antibiotic free. My stomach will be normal again. I won’t feel lethargic anymore. I won’t be reminded by my Inner Hypochondriac that I am slowly poisoning myself to death. My feet will stop peeling. Certain other parts will stop itching! My body flora will be graciously returned to its natural state – although I’m sure it’ll be awhile before I get a good balance back!

In al, I will have achieved what I set out to achieve – a clean slate to start afresh with. No leaks, no spots, no swelling.

I have been free and I have enjoyed it. Every. Single. Day.

One week left of this free ride, then it’s back to business. Better get my head back in those books!

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Hello Day one, I’ve missed you.

I’m done messing with my diet (she says for the 17th day in a row). No, but seriously, I really need to stop using these antibiotics as a crutch and start clean-eating again. I am a month into my 10 week course of Clindamycin and Rifampicin and although taking antibiotics goes against everything I believe in, I have to say the results are amazing. I am barely leaking at all, and the persistent swelling has decreased so much so, that I can throw myself down into a seat and there is no pain. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. HEAVEN!!!

Excellent, you say, no need to write anymore blog! Actually, no. These tablets are like a holiday for me. A little respite from real life. They are toxic and have horrible side effects. They can cause liver disease. They make my tongue furry (which swilling my mouth out with apple cider vinegar has cured, by the way). They have brought back my peeling, dry, itchy skin on my feet. They make me need to poop – and it’s not a pretty picture. I have to eat loads of sauerkraut (which actually isn’t too bad). They make me tired, a little out of sorts.

Most of all, I feel the opposite of how I did when I started the autoimmune diet. I feel like I am poisoning my body instead of healing it (did I mention I was a drama queen?). I was trying to heal my leaky gut with all that lovely, nourishing, home-cooked good food and now I am attacking my insides with chemicals.

Such a dichotomy.

Whilst I’m not looking a gift-horse in the mouth (that’s a really weird idiom!), I am only on these tablets short-term. I am still anticipating that after my 10 weeks is up, I am only going to get some major remission going on by sticking to my autoimmune protocol diet. In the meantime, I want to take advantage of the healing that has happened. I want to keep those sinus tracts shrunk, or healed or whatever has happened to them. I want to wear my bikini again and agin. I want to wear mini-skirts all summer, without Micropore peeping out of the bottom. I want to enjoy the freedom of spending under 2 minutes in the bathroom, because I have no dressings to change. I want to have a go on a Space Hopper. I want to sit comfortably with my baby on my knees, without wincing when she wiggles. I want the whole, entire and wonderful healed-upness of my Hidradenitis Suppurativa to stay just the way it is.

Today I got busy. I went to an amazing farmer’s market of organic goods  Lidl and bought as much of the fresh produce as I could fit in the bags I was carrying (it’s in the ghetto and they don’t have baskets). Their organic range is CHEEEEAP! They also stock the cured ham that I eat. It lists only ham and salt as the two ingredients and it’s cheaper by at least 2 euro here than in any other local supermarket. The only other packaged item I bought from there was Perrier. I dodged the drug dealers on the way out and Mr B did the rest of the food shopping at Auchan – the actual, biggest supermarket I have ever seen. So big, I walked for about 5 minutes before I even reached the food section. So big, I think it may be bigger, even, than Sam’s Club in Slidell, Louisiana! Maybe not as big as a supermarket in Texas, though. I digress.

I made a meal plan for this week to keep me on track. We kicked off tonight with cod, marinated in a lime, garlic, coconut oil sauce with fresh parsley and basil, Himalayan pink salt and organic cracked black pepper. This was served with sautéed green beans, oyster mushrooms, onion and garlic and all cooked by the lovely Mr B!

De-li-cious! Made even more tasty, because I didn’t have to lift a finger to cook it!

For the rest of the week, main meals are as follows (not in any particular order):

  1. Easiest roast chicken ever –  Instead of leeks, which we don’t have, we ‘ll be subbing courgettes in to this dish and serving it with salad. Who says roasties can’t be served up with a salad??
  2. Chicken and vegetable curry – using leftover chicken, homemade coconut milk, homemade curry paste (excluding paprika and chilli), ginger, garlic, onion, carrots and homemade chicken stock (I use this recipe, with frozen leftover peels and chicken bones). Served with cauliflower rice, fried with peas.
  3. Healthy Gluten-free Life’s Dutch Oven Pork – as featured on Nomnompaleo’s page. Love our Le Creuset Dutch Oven cocotte, which cooks food so evenly and keeps it moist. We’ll have that with sautéed broccoli, onion and garlic all fried in silky smooth organic coconut oil of course! Perhaps a side of salad, too.
  4. Large wild gamba, marinated in lime, garlic and ginger, seared on the griddle and served with my scrummy roasted sweet potatoes. And salad. And probably sauerkraut for me.
  5. Asian chicken thighs – again Michelle from Nomnompaleo’s recipe. What? Again? Yup. Each time I Googled the ingredients, hers was way up there and looked delicious, with only a few ingredients that I needed to remove to adapt for the autoimmune protocol. Served with salad.
  6. Sweet potato and prawn soup, which we’ve adapted from an Everyday Paleo recipe. We’ll have some leftover coconut milk and prawns (there are two kilos in the freezer and we’ll have to defrost the lot , so we’ll cook ’em all and throw some back in the freezer for this dish.

Et voila! That’s me all sorted for the week. I hope to all that is Holy and Mighty that there are no more sh*t storms this week and I manage to keep on track (and off the incredible Bordeaux wine).

Day one is done…..

Luck, positivity and a bikini body.

Nearly three weeks in to the antibiotic treatment and I feel a little all over the place. In the last two weeks, we have moved house, are battling with an ignorant (soon-to-be-ex) landlord and have no hob/stove top. Of course, the thing that always suffers first is the diet….

Whilst trying to get my head back in the game, all the old feelings of injustice have bubbled up again. Why me? Why can’t I eat what I like? How is it even possible that my diet could have such an impact on my health? Why do I have to suffer daily pain? How can such innocent food have such a devastating result on something as seemingly disconnected as my skin? Why, why, WHY??!!

During my little baby tantrum, Mr B suggested we go the lake. I begrudgingly got up to get ready and then had an amazing realization; a revelation that sprung me out of my funk and into a fit of hazy and delirious happiness – I would actually be able to wear a normal bikini!  With no pads! With no leaks! Just like a normal, regular person. Wooohoooooooooo!!!

What a difference that made to my mood! Something so small, that I have always taken for granted. I mean I’ve never been happy with my body in a bikini, but at least I could wear one! I also realised that this means when I go back to the UK, I can go hang in my friend’s hot tub! Double wooohooooo!!!

After a lovely afternoon with the kids at the lake, I got to thinking…it is so hard to find positives that have an impact all the time. Mostly, our positives are, “I’m so lucky this isn’t terminal,” or “I should be grateful that my HS isn’t as bad/in a more obvious place/as painful as the next person’s (delete as applicable)”. But these aren’t really positives, are they? They are just comparisons – used to chastise ourselves for wallowing in self-pity. They are not positives. I mean, instead of thinking how lucky I am that I don’t have cancer, I should be thinking how amazing it was that I had another day without pain; how brilliant that today the side effects from the drugs I take were nothing compared to how awful the effects of HS are; how amazing it is that I have been able to eat some different foods lately and not suffer too much.

So there it is. I am still a little stressed out. I’m still getting my diet under control. I’m trying hard to be kind to myself and stay positive. I am learning that it’s a real thin line between comparisons and self-positives, but just thinking about the freedom and happiness I felt just from wearing a bikini, I think with some practice, I should be able to be more positive.

After all, I’m not dying, am I? 😉

Home sweet home.

We’re home!

I made it through and did not run out of salad, nor starve. I had a lovely time, although I did spend an inordinate amount of it preparing salad for seven people every meal!

Serving up my famous roasted sweet potatoes, grated ginger, cumin and garlic…

I did cheat a little, but I didn’t suffer too badly. I definitely felt the effects of having some wine and cheese, with the inflammation getting quite bad towards the end. Everybody was super accommodating and I really didn’t feel like my diet had too much of an impact on anyone else, which was a relief.

A little reading break at the Beach Library…
Definitely not wearing my bikini in this one!

The weather was crappy and the boys only got to surf a few times. It was so cold, that there were no bikini moments – another thing I was dreading! I had bought a lovely pair of bikini surf style, short shorts for the occasion, so that I could wear bikini bottoms underneath with all my dressings, too. I know when the time comes, I’ll still be paranoid about wearing a tight fitting pair of shorts. C’est la vie!

When everyone had ice cream, Nina and I had sorbet, which was delicious. I really savoured those junk food moments, knowing that it would all have to be very worth it for the consequences that would follow!

We had to have the apartment clean, sheets laundered and be out by 10 am Sunday morning, so thought it would be easier to clean up Saturday and spend the last night at our place – just an hour’s drive from the apartment and on the way home for the others. We packed up, cleaned up and Mr B and I headed home with the bubba, whilst Ty and the others spent a few hours at the lake.

Our holiday roomie, Elliot – what a beauty!

We got a BBQ on the go and finished up with plenty of good wine. A plus for me was that I had everything unpacked, put away, washing on and all back to normal by Saturday evening – a day earlier than expected.

Back in the tiny kitchen, marinating the pork chops for the Barbie.

So overall, it went well. I had to resort to painkillers by the end of the week, but only in the evening before bed. I had one incident of a little stomach distress, after treating myself to some 85% Lindt chocolate. Another downside to avoiding certain foods, is that your body quickly develops an all round intolerance to them. From having an iron stomach for my whole life, I am now lactose intolerant. I did eat nearly the whole bar of chocolate, so perhaps I went just a little overboard…

Now I must prepare for my little trip to UK.  I fly out Tuesday with the wee one, so I need to get myself ready for holiday part deux….

All images © 2013 Leila Bodros. Not to be used, copied or redistributed without express permission from Leila Bodros.