My Ulcerative Colitis Journey: Medications and Side Effects (PART TWO)

Following on from part one of the series (if you haven’t read it click here), I now want to talk about the types of medication used to treat Ulcerative Colitis and my experience of them so far. Now I’ve had my colitis diagnosis for almost 2 years, so I’ve trialled various concoctions of meds and have had ups and downs along the way. I’m in no way a medical professional, and what has or hasn’t worked for me might be completely different for other people, so this is just my own personal experience and how my body reacted with these medications. Just a quick disclaimer, you should always follow your medical professional’s advice, and this blog post is just to share my experience and is not advice in any way!

When I was first diagnosed I was given Prednisolone foam enemas to take every night before bed. Prednisolone is a type of corticosteroid used to treat inflammation by dampening down the immune response, so preventing the immune system to cause colitis. Usually, steroids would be prescribed in oral tablet form, but because my colitis was affecting the lower end of my colon, my consultant thought enemas would be more effective in treating the inflammation because it would get to the area directly. These enemas were SO bliddy painful to administer since it was basically squirting foam up my backside where I was very inflamed and bleeding. I did find they worked in reducing the inflammation and after a few weeks the bleeding did get slightly better but didn’t go away.

A month or so later, I was prescribed the Prednisolone in suppository form, which is a dissolvable tablet that goes into your bottom. On top of this I was also prescribed Mesalazine foam enemas (Pentasa). Mesalazine is a type of Aminosalicylate (5-ASA) medication which is anti-inflammatory. I had a lot of trouble with the Pentasa enemas because they caused a lot of abdominal pain, so I was then moved onto the Mesalazine suppositories. Again, I had trouble with the Mesalazine suppositories because my body wasn’t properly absorbing them due to the inflammation and swelling, and I often found they leaked, as gross as that sounds! They decided to put me onto the oral form of Pentasa, which my god, they are the size of horse tablets! Because I was on a high dose, I was given the larger tablets and they were such a chore to take since they were so hard to swallow. I continued the Prednisolone suppositories and the Pentasa tablets for quite a while.

For a short while I tried Sulphasalazine, which is another type of 5-ASA to aid my IBD associated joint pain but it made no difference, so I wasn’t on them very long. My Colitis fluctuated a lot for the best part of a year, with periods of no symptoms and lots of lapses back into a lot of pain, diarrhoea and bleeding. Every time I lapsed I was given a short course of Prednisolone oral tablets to push the colitis back.

Since the medication wasn’t pushing my colitis into remission, and it kept coming back, my consultant decided to put me on Budesonide oral tablets every day. Budesonide is another type of corticosteroid, which is fairly new in treating IBD, and is thought to have fewer side effects. Because I had been on steroids for so long, I gained 3 stone and was struggling with chronic fatigue, joint issues and generally feeling unwell, even when my colitis wasn’t playing up. Every time my steroid dose dropped, to try and slowly wean off them when my colitis was OK, it would flare straight back up. It turned out I had become steroid dependent, and my body was symptom-free only when on a high dose of steroids, and as soon as I tried to come off them, the inflammation would come straight back.

Being on steroids long term is never ideal, because the side effects range from insomnia, moon face, acne, susceptibility to infections and illnesses, weight gain, osteoporosis and more. Ideally, I need to come off the steroids, so the next step for me was to start on a medication called Azathioprine. Azathioprine is a type of immunosuppressant drug which has only been used for IBD since the 60’s. Because Azathioprine is such a strong immunosuppressive, I had to have a course of vaccines before starting it to make sure my body had some antibodies to protect itself while being on the medication, since I’ll be at much more risk of sickness, flu, pneumonia, suppression of bone marrow function, liver inflammation and pancreatitis. I’ve been on this medication for a short while now and have to have weekly blood tests to ensure it’s not causing damage to my liver. So far I’ve struggled with nausea, vomiting and terrible fatigue. They hope to start reducing my steroid dose after around 6 months of being on this medication, then keeping me on the Azathioprine long term to maintain remission.

If I’m unable to maintain remission with the Azathioprine or it causes damage to my liver and pancreas, I’ll have to go to the next step of treatment. The next step would be biological drugs which resemble chemotherapy. These drugs are things like Infliximab and Vedolizumab which are transfusions through a drip in the arm, or Adalimumab and Golimumab which are injections given into the thigh or stomach (kind of like an epi-pen).

There is a pyramid of medication starting with the ones which have the least side effects which are the first port of call so to speak, but this depends on how severe the inflammation is. Moving up the pyramid we try different medications to find what works in maintaining remission, and if the flare is moderate or severe, treatment may start higher up. The last port of call is surgery. If medication fails at improving the disease, people with Colitis may have parts of the diseased bowel removed, and then have a bag on the outside of their body. Sometimes if the flare is very severe, they may go in for emergency surgery. I’m extremely lucky my Colitis hasn’t went past moderate and mild. I’m hopeful that the Azathioprine will help me, but if it doesn’t I’ll have to continue up the pyramid and try something else.

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If you have IBD, please remember your consultant really does know best, and they will help find the right treatment for you. If you don’t have IBD, I hope this blog was helpful and informative! 

Summer Lovin' Makeup Look

This is a makeup look that I've been obsessed with wearing recently (you might have seen it pop up on my Instagram quite a lot), and I thought I would make a post about what cruelty-free products I used to achieve it! Everything is affordable and drugstore as always, since I'm always looking for awesome bargains and buys!

My base is pretty simple. I use this Elf Poreless Face Primer since I have oily skin and quite open pores. I'm also wearing some fake tan, so I use a mix of two foundations to get the right shade for me. I'm using the Sleek Lifeproof Foundation and the Elf Foundation. For concealer, I'm using the new Revolution Conceal and Define in the shade C4. 

My contour and bronzer are from this Sleek Contour Palette, and I love how shimmering the bronzer is, it's perfect for summer. For blush I'm wearing the Soap & Glory Peach Party blush because again, it's very bronzed peach and shimmery. My highlight is gorgeous and it's from this Revolution Strobe Lighting Palette, which I actually got for free on the Superdrug website because I spent over £12 on makeup. So keep your eyes peeled for offers like that! I finish my face off with the Sleek Professional Finishing Powder, to set it in place.

The eyeshadow palette I used is the Revolution #RevoholicEyes Matte Edit, but I don't believe this is on sale at the moment... I got it from the Christmas Palette Vault. But any pigmented red and yellow eyeshadow will do. I use the red in the outer corners, and along the crease of my eye, as well as under my lower lashline. I then use the yellow all over the lid and blend them together. It creates a lovely sunset look. I'm using the new Revolution Renaissance Flick Eyeliner to create a wing and my gosh, this liner is incredible! My mascara is the Nyx Worth The Hype and my brows are the Nyx Microbrow Pencil. I finish the entire look with a classic nude lipstick, this is the Revolution lipstick in the shade Chauffeur, and I spray my whole face with the Revolution Pro Fix Setting Spray.

If you recreate this look;, be sure to tag me on Instgram with @Becxo or use the hashtag #BecxBlogsBeauty. I'd love to see all your summery makeup looks!

Does CBD Oil work for pain relief – The Fay Farm Review

It’s been a while since I did a good old product review, and I was very kindly sent these products from The Fay Farm, to review as part of the Chronic Illness Blogger Network. I’m happy to say these products are handmade, cruelty-free and not tested on animals.

I was sent the Rejuvenation Lotion and the Warming Muscle Rub. As someone who suffers from joint pain and muscle pain as one of the symptoms of my Ulcerative Colitis, I was hoping these products would help me.

Both the lotion and the muscle rub contain organic industrial hemp oil, otherwise known as CBD oil. I’ve seen the use of CBD oil floating around the internet for some time but had never tried it myself until recently. Hemp oil is known for it’s healing and medicinal benefits. I’ve read that it works by targeting the Endocannabinoid System and increases the function of it, which helps to control sleep regulation, pain and the immune system. This is something I find so interesting, despite the fact I can’t say I fully understand it!

The lotion also contains other ingredients renowned for their uses. Jojoba Oil is amazingly moisturising and particularly useful for dry skin conditions. As a beautician, I would often recommend Jojoba Oil for Eczema and Psoriasis. Turmeric is another brilliant ingredient which is anti-inflammatory (so useful for arthritis and joint inflammation), as well as being an anti-oxidant. The lotion is particularly pleasant to apply because it smells so much like liquorice. Funnily enough, I spotted liquorice on the ingredients! It’s very cooling and really soothes my ankles and wrists when I experienced discomfort.

The muscle rub contains shea butter which is the moisturising component of the rub. But it also contains Arnica. I actually used to use Arnica for my dog for his joint pain, so it wasn’t a surprise to see it in a human product. It’s anti-inflammatory and helps with bruising, swelling, and pain. The rub also uses cayenne pepper, peppermint and ginger which I assume creates the warming effect when it’s applied. I have to say the scent of the rub reminds me so much of the Vaporub my Grandmother used to apply on my chest at night when I was a child to help with congestion, so it’s a very nostalgic smell! It has undertones of aniseed too. The rub most definitely has a warming effect as soon as you start to rub it into the skin, and I find it very helpful when my pain is particularly bad. It then cools down and feels very soothing!

I’m actually very impressed with these products, they do work well for what I need with my symptoms. To top it off they’re cruelty-free and organic. In fact, they told me these use these products on for healing purposes on their own farm animals, which I think is great. It’s always good to support a smaller business that produces these lovely handmade products so if you’re looking for some topical pain relief these could be the lotions for you. 

May Favourites 2018

Wow, it's May already and the weather this month in the UK has been glorious, and reaching as high as 24 degrees in Newcastle! I certainly have a lot to talk about this month in terms of experiences, but let's start off with a few beauty favourites!

I've never really been into tanning like a lot of the girls I know. However, since I did a tanning module in college, I've become hooked on the thought of looking like a bronzed goddess! I even went and bought the exact same tanning lotion that my course used, I liked it that much. As far as I could see from my little internet research - Crazy Angel products are cruelty-free as a couple forums had emailed them, and they also don't sell in China (please, do tell me if I'm wrong on this!!).

I also finally ran out of my mascara and was able to replace it with a cruelty-free alternative. I went for the Nyx Worth The Hype mascara. It's definitely lengthening, but not so much the volumising that it claims. It does do exactly what I need, however, and is only £9 in Boots.

My next favourite is actually new in the beauty world for once! Usually, I'm super late to the trends, but I got this Revolution Renaissance Flick Eyeliner in Superdrug for just £5. My goodness, this eyeliner is insane! It's very pigmented, glides on like a dream and has a brilliant fine nib for doing more detailed looks.

One of the absolute best favourites this month for me was the fact that I got to see Thirty Seconds To Mars live at the This Is Tomorrow Festival in Newcastle. It was part of their Monolith Tour, after the release of their new album. It was incredible and the atmosphere was just astonishing. Jared Leto is such a talented singer, who made the experience so immersive for the audience by really involving them. I did vlog it, so if you'd like a good glimpse of what it was like, check out my YouTube video!

The second experience that is a firm favourite of my entire life nevermind just May, is the fact I was on a blogging panel for the Blogging & Influencing 2018 event in Newcastle. I already blogged about this whole event, and vlogged it - but I'm genuinely just so proud of myself. I'm proud of how far I've come with my anxiety to be able to do this event, and of how far my blog itself has come to have given me this opportunity. 

I feel like this favourites post is rather long, but I have a couple of TV and film favourites to pop in! The first one is The Great British Bake Off, which Eric and I have been binge watching all the way from season 1! We've been watching this almost every day and I am well and truly addicted.

And last but not least, it has to be Avengers Infinity War. Don't worry, there are no spoilers. It looked stunning, the story was incredible, and it was very emotional. That's all I have to say about it. If you haven't seen it yet, then what the heck are you doing?! Go see it immediately!!

What a jam-packed month, it really has been one of the best months I've had for ages. How has your month been, with all this fabulous weather!

1 Year of Blogging GIVEAWAY!

I'm so happy that in June I will have been blogging for a whole year! To celebrate, I'm running a giveaway which will end on the 26th June 2018. The 26th June was when I uploaded my first blog post on Becx Blogs so it will be lovely to announce a winner a year on from then. There are loads of ways to enter, and there's a whole month to do it so get sharing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

There is one prize bundle to be won.

The prize consists of Revolution Redemption Palette Iconic Elements, Q-KI Mani-Care Set, Baylis & Harding Skin Spa Body Cream, Baylis & Harding Skin Spa Cleansing Soap and Collection Lusciuous Lashes Cat's Eye.

This giveaway is international.

Giveaway entries close on the 26th June 2018 at 10.00pm BST.

You must be 16 or over and have permission from the household owner to give your address for the prize to be sent.