In her second monthly column, Debbie Hamilton who lives with Crohn’s, shares how coronavirus restrictions easing will help her regain some normality in her life.
Well, April has arrived. The year so far has been a mix of cold winter weather, dark nights, shielding and emotional ups and downs.
However, there is a positive this month, as it brings good news for us all in terms of the road map out of lockdown and the easing of restrictions.
But it brings even better news for me personally as the “shielding status” gets lifted later this month and I get to return to work after a four-month period of being at home.
I have missed the routine that my work as an early years practitioner brings, I have missed my colleagues and I have missed all the children that I work with. However, “shielding” has been a necessary tool in keeping myself and many others safe during this pandemic.
Crohn’s Disease is one of the eighty known autoimmune diseases. I take medication daily that suppresses my immune system, as well as an intravenous infusion of a biologic medicine every eight weeks.
Having a suppressed immune system at this moment in time unfortunately leaves me at a high risk of complications and severe illness from coronavirus – thus the need to shield.
However on a positive note, the combination of these medications have thankfully put me in period of remission, but I am not cured.
There is currently no cure for Crohn’s and the unpredictable nature of the disease means it can flare up at any time. Currently, although I’m not fully symptom-free, I can enjoy a period of near normality.
Starting my Facebook page, Crohn’s Cooking and Me, back in January has allowed me to learn so much from others who are on a similar journey.
I now have a growing understanding of what I can do to control my disease and its symptoms – daily exercise, drinking plenty, mindfulness as well as eating a healthy diet.
Also I have become more aware of what my triggers are. These can cause illness or even contribute to a flare-up of Crohn’s, which is really not something anyone wants to experience.
For me, stress is a massive trigger. Try keeping that in check during a worldwide pandemic – not for the faint-hearted. Also, processed foods, high levels of gluten and refined sugar are things I must keep under control.
But I am grateful for this period of time shielding, it has given me the opportunity to really find out more about Crohn’s, allowing me to control my symptoms.
It has also allowed time for me to indulge in my passion for cooking and gain the confidence to share that love with others.
This past month I have been enjoying the benefits of having fresh fish delivered to my doorstep on a weekly basis – fresh monkfish, mussels, salmon and my all-time favourite the Arbroath smokie.
I use the smokie in a few different dishes – smokie pot, smokie pancake, baked smokie omelette to name only a few. It really is a little piece of heaven no matter what you do with it.
I have been also experimenting with some Indian recipes, as an ideal way to include more turmeric in my diet.
It’s said to be a natural anti-inflammatory and that’s always good news for those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease.
I did try to take turmeric supplements but unfortunately they really didn’t agree with me.
My favourite dish so far was my lamb masala with some simple homemade flatbreads, perfect for a cold dark winter night.
Do I wish I had access to the knowledge I have since gained in those early days after diagnosis? Absolutely. And that is what drives me to become a voice for Crohn’s and raise much-needed awareness.
Arbroath smokie pancake
- 110g plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 eggs
- 200ml of milk topped up with 75ml of water
- 50g of butter
- 1 smokie flaked
- 150-200ml of double cream
- Salt to taste
- Add the flour and salt to a bowl, make a well in the centre and add your eggs a little of your milk and mix until there are no lumps. Gradually add the rest of your milk/water mixture a little at a time and mix well (it should resemble a single cream consistency). Once it’s all combined melt your butter and add to your batter, stir well and put aside.
- Add your smokie and cream to a pot and slowly heat adding a little salt to taste. When it’s nearly heated through add enough batter to a lightly greased hot pan (enough to cover the surface with a thin layer of the batter mix). Turning after a few minutes to cook the other side.
- Put your pancake on your plate and a good-sized serving spoon of the smokie mixture on one half of your pancake and fold the other half of the pancake over the top of your smokie filling. Drizzle a little more filling on top and serve with your favourite vegetables on the side.
(The remaining pancake batter will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to two days)