May 162015

My Story – Crohns Disease – Part 2

In Part 1 My Diagnosis I wrote about getting diagnosed with Crohns disease and now I will give a brief history since then.

Over the years since I was diagnosed with Crohns disease in 1996 I have had multiple flare-ups, several of which have resulted in stays in hospital. I class myself as being lucky because I normally have 3-4 years between serious flare-ups. I still have bad days and sometimes bad weeks but I don’t class them as flare-up, for me a flare-up has to be 2+ weeks; that maybe why I end up in hospital when I have a serious flare-up.

My first serious flare-up was my own fault and I say that because as a teenager I thought I knew better than my consultant and decided that because I felt good I would stop taking all my medication. 2-3 months later I ended up in a flare-up, After a short hospital stay I had an 8 week course of prednisolone and since then I have taken the medication the consultant advises.

My worst flare-up

In August/September 2003 I swapped job’s and lasted just 4 weeks before I started to flare, as I was on probation still that was the end of that job. I started off with a 10 week course of prednisolone which helped at the start but as my dose went down my symptoms started to come back, I finished the course of prednisolone just before Christmas 2003 and managed to have Christmas dinner at home but it didn’t last long. A few days later I was admitted to hospital and I was given 2 weeks worth of IV steroids, Antibiotics and fluids in 3 days due to being so bad. At this point my weight had dropped to around 6.5 stones (41kg), again I was given Ensure plus drinks to help. Due to the severity of my flare-up I was given the choice of surgery or try Azathioprine which comes with its own risks and side effects. I chose to try Azathioprine as I wanted to keep surgery as a last resort and the benefits outweigh the risks for me but I was told if it didn’t work then it will be surgery.

I left hospital with another 4 months of prednisolone and also azathioprine to go alone with my pentasa. I was told it normally takes 3-4 months for azathioprine to be fully working in your system, I started seeing results after 6-8 weeks. Thankfully I didn’t get any major side effects. I did get a small amount of nausea which I cured by making sure I had something to eat when taking my medication.

I spent the next year signed off work recovering and thankfully azathioprine worked and put my Crohns disease into remission. Since taking azathioprine my flare-ups have only been minor and normally fixed with a short course of prednisolone, well until this year (2015) where I have been in a flare-up since January but I will discuss that in another post.
crohns disease prednisolone


Anyone with Crohns disease will know that some foods will make them worse so I was refereed to a dietitian to help me work out what foods where causing me problems and to make sure I was getting all the nutrient I required. I had to keep a food diary listing everything I eat and what effects it had on my symptoms. We discovered that dairy products, nuts and fruit or veg were a no no for me, I was tested for lactose intolerance but that come back fine so I avoid all dairy products now. We didn’t identify any other foods that aggregate my symptoms but I must say I didn’t eat any fruit or veg before anyway.
I have since found when I have a flare-up a lot more foods are a no no but once out of the flare I can eat them again. Over the years I have found my safe foods when flaring are; Baked chicken, Boiled potatoes, Rice, Rice krispies, Bread, pate, jelly, chicken cuppa soup and some baby food if I get really bad.
crohns disease food

May 112015

My Story – Crohn’s Disease – Part 1

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in late 1996 at the young age of 16. I had been ill for the past year, My whole family got a cold but I never recovered so the doctors started running some tests and there were loads of tests before I finally got a diagnosis. I have my dentist to thank as it was him giving me a letter to give to my doctor which put them on the right track as I also had problems with my mouth and gums, This however lead to my first stay in hospital.

I was in hospital for around a week and was pumped full of IV steroids, Antibiotics, Fluids and Nutrients, At this point my weight had dropped to around 5.5 stones (35kg). My main symptoms were stomach pain especially after eating which I wasn’t doing much of and the other was trips to the bathroom, at least 20+ times a day.

When the Consultant gave me the news that I had Crohn’s Disease it come as a relief for 2 reasons.
1. The doctor’s had mentioned cancer and leukaemia
2. They knew what was wrong and how to treat it

When I was released from hospital I was put on Pentasa 1.5grams 3 times a day along with a 4 month course of Prednisolone steroids, I was also given Ensure plus drinks which are like milkshakes but full of nutrients and can be used to replace food. After around 6 months I was back to 9 stones (57kg) which would become my stable weight for the next 15 years. My symptoms had gone back to normal (what’s normal anyway) but in the summer of 1997 I developed an anal fistula.

An anal fistula is a small channel that develops between the end of the bowel, known as the anal canal, and the skin near the anus. Anal fistulas do not generally harm, but can be very painful, and can be irritating because of the pus-drain, it is also possible for formed stools to be passed through the fistula. Around 50% of people with Crohn’s disease will develop a fistula at some point. Most of the time you require some form of surgery to heal a fistula but if you are lucky like me it may heal on its own with the help of some antibiotics to kill any infections. I was told once you get one it never truly heals and will always be there.

What is Crohn’s Disease

So what is Crohn’s disease, well its one of two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to anus, the other is ulcerative colitis which only affects the Large colon.
Crohn’s is described as a chronic condition. This means that it is ongoing and life-long, although you may have periods of good health (remission) as well as times when symptoms are more active (flare-ups). At present there is no cure for Crohn’s, but drugs and sometimes surgery can give long periods of relief from symptoms.

If you want more info on Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative colitis then check out Crohn’s and Colitis UK they have lots of information leaflets and a list of local support groups which are very helpful.

Crohn's - World IBD day poster

May 012015

World IBD Day is Tuesday 19 May

World IBD Day is a day for everyone affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease to stand up, take action, raise awareness and support the 300,000 people in the UK and millions more worldwide living with Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and other types of IBD.

Please wear purple (the international colour for IBD) on World IBD Day. Ask your friends, family, school and workplace to join in and be powerful in purple to help boost awareness about Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, and raise crucial funds for Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

You can donate any amount. To donate £5, you would Text PURP19 £5 to 70070
Alternatively, you can make an online donation at

world IDB day poster

world IDB day poster 2

nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.

 Linux  Comments Off on nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet.
Aug 272014

I have several Xen and KVM vps servers and they all suffer with the same problem of “nf_conntrack: table full, dropping packet” but its an easy fix

You can check what the current number of nf_conntrack_max is set to.
cat /proc/sys/net/nf_conntrack_max
the default is 65535 but all mine were set to 15000.

Now to increase the number of nf_conntrack_max
echo 100000 > /proc/sys/net/nf_conntrack_max
Now if you check again it should be the new value.

Now to make the change permanent we add the following to the bottom of /etc/sysctl.conf
net.nf_conntrack_max = 100000

Please note that the directory path to “nf_conntrack_max” differs between Linux distributions, the above works for CentOS

Aug 262014

I’ve been playing around and getting to know CentOS 7 and have decided i prefer iptables (over firewalld) which i have been using for the last few years so here’s how to swap firewalld for iptables.

Disable Firewalld Service.
systemctl disable firewalld
Stop Firewalld Service.
systemctl stop firewalld
Now we install the iptables services.
yum -y install iptables-services
Start iptables at boot.
systemctl enable iptables
Start ip6tables at boot. (skip if you don’t use ipv6)
systemctl enable ip6tables
Finally we start iptables.
systemctl start iptables
Finally we start ip6tables. (skip if you don’t use ipv6)
systemctl start ip6tables

Now our firewall uses iptables and we can add our rules like we always have.