Sunday, November 15, 2009

A big thanks

I go to the gym and meet with a trainer weekly. I’ve been doing this – off and on – for almost two years, and the reasons are twofold: 1) She yells at me when I haven’t been to the gym for the rest of the week (which is often), and 2) I’m trying to be healthier (I’m proud to announce I now have muscle under my fat instead of just more fat). She has this powerful truth-telling force that makes me mutter all the unmentionables I’ve been eating. Friday morning I spilled to her about the Illini Bars and a late-night nacho feast I had last night…after a work event that included dinner and dessert. She chewed me out and then commanded I bring her a brownie from my next batch. She calls me grandma and asks if I brought my Geritol as I schlep my sweaty body from one machine to the next. She’s a petite wisp of a woman who could, with no doubt, take me out…without breaking a sweat. She’s not afraid to say you look puffy. Simply put, I like her.

So I was at the gym Friday morning (we meet at 6 am - the ONLY time I go in the morning is when I have to meet with her; I originally chose a trainer who only does mornings so when I quit – which I knew was 100% inevitable – my flabby ass wouldn’t have to run into them later in the day) and I realized, “Holy smoly, it’s been a year since I was admitted to the hospital!” I was in the gym shower, dancing (dancing!) to “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey (oh, just try not to dance to the most spoofed song of all time) when I realized this. In a lot of ways this moment was a revelation. I was dancing at 7 am – when I had gotten up at 5:15 am – after a work-out…and I don’t dance (well, at least not sober). So I took notice of this moment – caught myself in it (don’t you just love when you do that?) – and although things aren’t perfect, dangit, I feel GOOD. I was first admitted to the hospital on November 14, 2008.

I had been feeling sick for two months prior being admitted. First it was constipation-like symptoms, which of course was all very foreign to me (on occasion I have snickered at Metamucil commercials). Then night sweats. Then horrible pain deep in my pelvis. To make a long - and very Crohn's typical - story short, I had a fistula, large abscess, and some nasty looking bowel. Via TPN and daily bags of antibiotics through my PICC line, I delayed surgery to this past spring. If you're followed the blog since then, I started in January, after a healthy holiday reprieve, when the pain returned and I had to decide if I wanted to first try biologics, or surgery, knowing surgery can be a slippery slope. In my typical melodramatic fashion, I agonized over it for months, until something had to be done. In retrospect, surgery was the right choice. My surgeon and GI confirmed the foot of intestine they removed was not salvageable.

I'm mentioning all of this because I know my blog hasn't been strictly (or even, loosely) Crohn's related as of late, and I want to explain. I know I'm posting devilish recipes. Or relaying silly stories. But I believe this is the life-cycle of a Crohn's patient. I know I am very fortunate that my surgery has given me relief. I know this can end tomorrow, but what's the sense in living like that? Yes; pains give me pause, but I'm learning to live in the moment, and keep myself healthy. I made the decision to no longer pursue my MBA (nothing tragic there; I was one course in), but why add additional stress when I know it's a trigger (my first class ended right as my increased symptoms started). But it was hard to make this choice as I saw colleagues excel or better themselves.

Posting that zany story about my ill-fated walk in Valley Forge Park, or trying a spinning class, was a triumph for me. A year ago (and as little as about six months ago), I could not walk erectly as the pain was greater: I hobbled, my back hunched. And forget about a spinning class.

Oh, and there's the icky things too: I avoided wearing light-colored skirts or dresses as I had nasty and painful fissures that often bled as I made my seventh trip to the bathroom. I took to wearing extra-long menstrual pads daily.

So now it's time to celebrate the triumphs. I'm not disgusted by my thick, violet scar from surgery - it's a damn sexy battle wound and has become just as much a part of me as my belly button. (But I will not lie, I am slightly jealous of my friends three-week-old C-section scar that is barely visible, so kill me). I'm happy that I can, within reason, eat my favorite foods again - curry and all. I'm happy that I can have an early-morning work-out, and then have enough energy to dance in the shower, and feel nothing. Glorious, glorious nothing: there is not much better than having your body function as it should, and not feel it so pathetically struggle.

I've been humbled by reading my fellow Crohn's bloggers' stories; I know I have it good right now, but I won't be happy until we're all eating buttery popcorn, or even dancing in the shower to Journey.

Thank you for reading: then...and now.


(In my typical cheesy fashion, I've included a live performance of "Don't Stop Believing", below. Admit it!; it makes you smile....but MAN, those are some tight jeans...cough, cough...)


  1. Please allow me to apologize for my ridiculously long comment on the last meal post. Get me to thinking about food, and I can't stop. Then I want to throw the thanks back to you. I appreciate your blog because of your wit and because you are opinionated and strong and because behind those things, you are similarly afflicted as me. I don't read your musings to be reminded of the disease, though. I do it as a reminder that we are not the disease. For me, your blog is an affirmation that there is life to live, and I will not always feel isolated as I sometimes do now.

    Now about food again...have you read Jon Reiner's article in Esquire? If not, I think you may appreciate it. It captures the essence of food deprivation like no other piece I've read. The link is here:


  2. Oh dude. Love this post! I totally know how you feel. After my surgery in 07, I for some reason had these amazing boobs. I finally had cleavage and they were lovely. Then I stopped taking my meds, ate what I wanted, started overworking (I was a manager at a very popular retail mall store- I was working like loooong days w/barely any break) and I put myself in this mega evil flare that I'm hopefully getting under control. I can almost sorta do some walking again. However, I'm still on 30 mg of prednisone so it's like yeah I'm Puff Mami and that will be away in 20 days BUT will the feeling kinda okay go away too? How will Humira do on its own? So when people ask if I am okay I still say that it is an autoimmune disorder cause I am afraid to jinx myself. The arthritis, however, is still here.

    Oh and my ring tone is Journey's "Anyway You Want it"

  3. Greta,

    Many, many thanks for your kind words.

    And YES, absolutely read that article previously. I cannot fathom...okay, only a bit...I did miss last year's Thanksgiving meal and was very bitter I was having broth...and then my mom tried to pawn more Jello off on me. I'm SURE you know, that after weeks and weeks of clear liquids, you DO.NOT.WANT. JELLO. Cringe.

    Ugh, prednisone. All my best at tapering it off...keep us up-to-date on the blog, and I'm curious how the Humira will go take a hot shower, get a cup of tea, and put your feet up! (Nurse K demands it!)