I’ve been AWOL…

So yeah, the 17th has come and gone and as you would well be aware, my inaugural Melbourne Fringe Food Festival Event; Beer & Cheese, has been placed on hiatus, largely thanks to my stupid intestine.

It’s been a long two weeks, which all started with doing something I do not enjoy (camping), resulting in being somewhere I did not enjoy (hospital).

To make a long story short, after camping for couple of days at Murrindindi (90kms North-East of Melbourne), I got sick on Good Friday evening with sharp pains in my lower-left abdomen. On Saturday, we decided to decamp and head back home and by Sunday morning, I had no choice but to head to St Vinnies as I was definitely not getting any better. 

I was evetually diagnosed with Diverticular disease, which is a condition in which small pockets occur in the bowel. These pockets (diverticula) can become infected (known as Diverticulitis), which were the cause of my pain, thanks to an aggressive infection, which I wholly and solely blame on camping.

Diverticular disease is not uncommon in Australia, or indeed the western world. Most people are considered to consume a low-fibre (a.k.a ‘Western’) diet, which results in your daily toilet routine requiring you to exert a little more pressure in your bowel for you to be able to ‘go’. Diverticular disease is thought to result from these high pressures forcing the lining of the bowel to pocket outwards through the surrounding muscle layer of the bowel. 

People who eat a diet high in fibre are much less likely to develop diverticular disease. However, about one-third of adults older than 45 years have diverticular disease, although for most their diverticula cause them no problems. 

I (at the tender age of 36) am considered to be on the young side to be diagnosed with this. However, I have since learned that my mum was diagnosed at the same age. Plus, there’s a history of bowel cancer on my dad’s side of the family, so in hindsight, I’d rather start to learn how to best prevent, monitor and minimise my chances of further infections or complications.

People diagnosed with Diverticular disease can pretty much live a normal life, albeit ensuring that they maintain a high-fibre diet to reduce the risk of symptoms and complications developing… and of course by drinking plenty of water, which I’ll admit is an area where I will need to improve. 

Lots of roughage is required, including fibrous fruits such as apples and pears, as well as vegetables, wholegrain cereals, legumes and so on. Only 30 grams of dietary fibre a day is required for people with Diverticular disease, which according to the Cancer Council Australia is also the recommended intake for males.

Funny, it should not be a problem for people to eat at least two serves of wholegrain or wholemeal foods every day or ensure about half of your daily serves of breads and cereals are wholegrain or wholemeal, as well as consuming at least two serves of fruit per day and five serves of vegetables per day, including legumes. But if one-third of adults older than 45 years have diverticular disease, clearly we are not getting the fibre we need.

So, not really a ‘food’ blog update, per se. But food-related, nonetheless and a little education for good measure. After a week in hospital and a week and a half’s worth of both intravenous and oral antibiotics, I’m close to being back to normal. Whatever normal is for me. 

As for Beer & Cheese, we’ll put it back in the calendar soon amongst all the other events that are taking place, so stay tuned. In the mean time, keep up the fibre and fluids and I promise I shall do the same.


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