Elemental my dear Watson

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Elemental 028 Extra is a prescription only special diet drink for Crohn's Disease sufferers. It totally replaces food for at least a week, or more likely a fortnight or so.

The idea is that the drink is absorbed within the small bowel leaving very little to enter your colon, such that it has a rest. And without anything in it to irritate the lining, reduce inflamation and give it a chance to heal.

The instructions I had was to drink 8 - 10 cartons of 250ml each day. Sip them slowly throughout the day, dont glug them down in breakfast, lunch and supper type quantities as it'll go straight through.

So for the first couple of days I gently sip a carton over 15 minutes to half-an-hour. Three days in and I'm managing 8 cartons each day. But it goes through me... (you dont want to know!). My stomach continues on with it's unhappy feelings. My mood swings wildly about, from happy when it feels like progress might be being made, to downright despair. I'm tired as a very tired thing, I sleep in the afternoon, the short-form dog walk just wipes me out and Paul has to take over my share. And my teeth ache due to the high amount of sugar in the drink. I'm really really fed up. So I email my dietician and tell her. She says I should drink more, try 10 cartons a day. I manage 9 and feel worse. I try to be more positive, but it doesn't help. I dont want to admit defeat and end up on the drugs; either steroids or immunosuppressents. Both nasty drugs with lots of potential side effects. I want the diet to work, but the stuff is still going through me with no visible signs of the Crohn's symptoms easing and my prescriptions worth will run out in a few days. I order another batch, with a different flavour as I'm wondering if the Orange and Pinapple flavouring is somehow upsetting my insides.

Summer Fruits flavour is collected, and tried. Same results. This is so tedious it's unreal. On an internet forum someone mentions they have to sip a similar formulation drink very very slowly indeed, over an hour, otherwise it gives him diarrhoea. So I try taking a sip and putting the carton back in the fridge for a while before I take another sip. Over the day I manage no more than 5 cartons. But strangely my guts are quieter. The next morning, is a revelation. I go to the loo with vaguely normal results! Maybe I'm on to something. So stick with it the next day. And sure enough, I feel a lot better, not as good as I did before starting the drink but you know... When you are feeling bad any positive shift in symptoms lifts your mood. I dont even care that I'm loosing weight. My guts are settling down, for possibly the first time in 18 months, if not longer. I emailed my dietician with the news, and said I'd stick with it for a couple more days and then move on to the next stage. I got a reply quickly saying she was worried about the weight loss so I'd better move on the next day. Hurrah! I was being allowed food again. A plate of fish, rice and a carrot tasted soo good!

And as for my guts.... they actually seem to be settling down! so maybe the stuff did the Right Thing anyway despite everything. Only time will tell.

Tags: crohn's, medical Written 14/03/09 

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