A Musician’s Keys to Success
Harmon focuses on sleep, diet, and stress management to deal with Crohn’s. Can the Tippi Team give this LA performer and yogi what he needs to find harmony — and keep it?
Harmon Clarke knows what he needs to do to manage his Crohn’s disease: Get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and reduce stress. But for this Los Angeles–based musician, that’s sometimes easier said than done.
“There are three main factors that I’ve found really impact my Crohn’s,” says the 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with the condition in high school and now lives with an ostomy bag.
First is sleep. “If I don’t sleep correctly or if I’m exhausted, everything is harder,” says Harmon. But fear of his ostomy bag leaking often prevents him from getting the shut-eye he needs. “I don’t really get into a deep, heavy sleep, because if my bag fills up, I have to be aware.”
Knowing what to eat can also present a challenge. Many foods, including the spicy ones he so loves, make Harmon’s symptoms worse, which is why he tends to eat the same thing every day. “I find things that work, and I just kind of stick with that,” he says.
For Harmon, managing symptoms such as abdominal pain and cramping isn’t the toughest part of living with Crohn’s. “The physical stuff, I’ve noticed it comes and goes,” he says. “When the mental challenges come, that is extremely hard.” That’s why this former football and basketball player has turned to daily yoga and meditation to help keep stress at bay.
But even with that, Crohn’s disease can take a toll. “It’s like I'm pushing myself to try to work and be successful,” says Harmon. “Then some days I just wake up and wonder, 'Is it really worth it?'”
Watch the episode to hear more of his story and find out if the Tippi Team can help remind Harmon that yes, it is absolutely worth it.
Tips for Harmon
Track your food intake
If you have trouble sleeping because you’re worried about your ostomy bag leaking overnight, try tracking what and when you eat around bedtime. You may notice a pattern. Remember: Input affects output.
Create a restaurant card
On an index card, write down which foods you can eat and which ones you can’t — the more information the better — and bring it when you go out to eat. Chefs are happy to create a menu for you.
—Miro Uskokovic, Crohn’s advocate and chef
To build your confidence around playing sports with an ostomy, I recommend reading the books Alive & Kicking and Great Comebacks from Ostomy Surgery by professional football player Rolf Bernirschke.
—Tina Aswani Omprakash
Connect with others
Reach out to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and ask them to put you in touch with others living with ostomies.
—Partha S. Nandi, MD
Make homemade broth
Making your own broth is a great way to incorporate easy-to-digest vegetables and spices into your diet.