Saturday, September 29, 2012

The ghost of meals past

I will admit... I struggled yesterday. Liquid meals were not satisfying. 

They were full of wholesome, tasty nutrition, but.... they were LIQUID. Today I will focus on what I'm grateful for, including the fact that someday, I will again be able to eat meals like these:

Salad with feta, kalamata olive, cucumber, tomato

Tuna salad with cucumbers, walnuts, boiled egg

Chicken leg with mashed caulifower, steamed kale, fresh green beans

Salad with cucumber, tomato, lettuce, feta cheese, pepperocini, and tomato basil bisque

Pizza with spinach, cream cheese, canadian bacon, cooked tomato

Green pepper stuffed with black beans, quinoa, corn, onion, and side salad

Bowtie pasta with shrimp, sausage, tomato, zucchini and parmesan on a bed of spinach

Chicken leg with cooked carrrots, baked yam, fresh green beans, sauteed mushrooms

Shrimp tacos: shrimp with spicy sugoi sauce, avocado, cabbage, and sour cream  with pan fried wheat tortilla
Simple salad - mixed greens with sliced turkey and feta cheese

Lobster tail with steamed asparagus

Grilled veggie / sausage kabobs

Egg with fresh salsa

Sunny Cranberry trail mix (Almonds, dried cranberries, golden raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin kernels)

Salad with boiled egg, bacon wrapped scallops, tomato, feta cheese, pepperoccini and balsamic vinaigrette

String cheese and sliced turkey 

Homemade egg mcmuffin: English muffin, sliced turkey, colby jack cheese, mustard
Homemade chocolate cherry cheesecake

Strawberries stuffed which white and dark chocolate cream cheese 

                                                             Man. I miss food.

Friday, September 28, 2012

On Grace

"Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull if off". 
- Max Lucado

This quote was posted by a friend of mine on FB yesterday and it really struck a chord with me. So many changes have been happening, not only in my life, but the lives of family and friends. It's easy to get swallowed up by the magnitude of change. There have been many points in my life in which I thought I would drown in fear of the unknown.

But guess what? Every time, I have survived. 

I guess that's grace. 

If experience is living proof, then I can attest to the fact that change is often confusing as it's happening. In hindsight though, is usually seems to have come together perfectly. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Family, friends and strangers: My Blessings

This post will be full of sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. Well, okay, I don't actually have any rainbows or unicorns but I thought they would be a nice touch. In other words, I'm feeling good! 

Sometimes you just have to stop and take stock of what you're thankful for. I think the world would be a happier place if we all did this - with regularity. :) 

Pinterest to the rescue!

Today, I'm thankful for: 
  • My sister. She's amazing. She's a very strong woman, though she seems a bit fragile to the naked eye. She's been through a lot in her lifetime, including a diagnosis of lupus. Somehow has learned how to keep it all together even when the winds of change start throwing pieces of her life around. Michelle is two years older than me, an army wife, and an amazing mom. She's an advocate for her special needs son - who has the sweetest soul I've ever met. I don't know if I can say enough about her right now, so I'll leave it at how thankful I am. I didn't always appreciate her awesomeness and I took her for granted for many years. I'm grateful that those years are over. 
  • My health. That might seem strange to someone reading all that I'm going through, but I am thankful for what's going well. The allergy tests came back negative, so I don't have to worry about yet another issue in the long term. I am responding well to the liquid diet and getting good sleep. I'm also thankful for my doctor, but I'll wrap that up in this topic. 
  • Compassionate, kind people. This category includes both friends and strangers. Two examples: 1) My co-worker (and more importantly, friend) Gary made my day when he told me he looked up Crohn's disease so he could understand and support me better. I was so touched. A simple action on his part helped ease the isolation. 2) Tim, the guy at the Soup company, (and a total stranger to me)  asked a simple question: "Are you okay?" when he learned what I was looking for. He took a minute to give a crap. What a powerful lesson in making a difference in such a small moment. He gave me tastings of the various soups, strained what I chose so it would be more brothy, talked to me about holistic nutrition and juicing, recommended some movies to watch, and told me I could call any time if I had any questions. Compassion at it's finest. And, believe me, I am grateful. 
Challenge yourself to be living proof of human kindness.
Opportunities abound! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Breakfast of champions?

Yesterday was a much better day. I think all of the resting / sleeping on Sunday helped. The day got off to a good start with meditation, and a simple breakfast of papaya blended with almond milk.

I also functioned like a "normal" person, meaning, I got a lot of household chores done. That was great because it's important for me to pull my weight, so to speak. I did three loads of laundry (including hanging it on the line), floors, dishes, and my checkbook. Not exactly earth shattering, but I haven't had the energy to do much lately. So it felt great to get all of that accomplished.

It ended up being a pretty low calorie day. The smoothie for breakfast:
Pretty orange papaya, thought my straw needed to match!

and juiced carrot/ ginger / celery juice for lunch. I had a little bit of chicken broth as well and a glass of grape juice diluted with water. Not exactly a nutritious day, but I wasn't the least bit hungry and couldn't fathom what to drink to get the calories up. So I just let it go. My best estimation is that it was a 500 calorie (or so) day.

I felt guilty throughout the night, knowing I need better nutrition than that to sustain me. So this morning, I bit the bullet:

Believe it or not, it tastes okay - which is good - since I see at least one a day of these in my future for a while. I wonder how the chocolate is.... I'll have to investigate and report back! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The roller coaster

This is my second post in a day. I've spent most of today (Sunday) sleeping. When I wasn't sleeping, I was a lump on the couch, surfing Pinterest, eyeballing every delectable food picture and "eating with my eyes". I'm not sure that was the brightest move, considering the dietary guidelines I need to follow right now.

 I feel weak today. My energy is quite low. For breakfast I had a glass of V-8 juice, and later a glass of grape juice, diluted with water. I had miso soup for lunch, and more grape juice in the afternoon. French onion soup (minus the onions) was dinner. And I popped a few ginger chews in the afternoon. I will also admit to caving and eating the York Peppermint Patty that was hiding in the vegetable crisper.

My stomach is bloated and I look like a little tank. It's clear to me that I need to stick to the liquid diet to the best of my ability, and using fresh fruit and veggie juices as much as possible is probably the way to go. So, here's my plan to make tomorrow the best day it can be.

  • Make up my mind to change habits. 
  • Believe I can do it. 
  • Take it one day at a time. 
  • Go to bed in a peaceful frame of mind and get enough sleep.
  • Meditate for 20 minutes in the morning. 
  • Breakfast: fresh juice from the juicer. Carrot, celery and ginger maybe? It's what we have on hand. 
  • Get some exercise, even if it's light and easy. (A walk outdoors, or some yoga, maybe). 
  • Drink plenty of water. (This one is really not a habit for me, and never has been.)
  • Balance my checkbook. It will make me feel better. 
These aren't huge things. But they may have a huge impact on my sense of well-being. I will do it. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Am I allergic to gluten or dairy?

Is it crazy to pray for a food allergy? "Please, let it just be a simple lactose intolerance".  I'm sure the answer to that is yes. But desperate people are known to do desperate things.

Yesterday I made a minor cheat to the liquid/gluten-free/dairy-free diet I'm supposed to be following. (I was hungry!) And I paid for it. Stomach swelling, gas. It wasn't pretty.

I found myself wondering how my body could react so strongly to .... food. Food! It's a requirement for life. Why is it so dramatically and violently rejecting it?

The ol' gut seems to be a fan of juices and broth soups. It's a challenge to get a full 1200 calories a day though. In 3 months I've dropped from 140 to 120 pounds. My food tracker estimated that if every day is like yesterday's caloric intake (which was high because of my cheat) that I would be down to 115 in 5 weeks. It's 9:20 am and so far I've had an 8 oz glass of V8 vegetable juice and 4 oz of grape juice, for a whopping total of 130 calories.

Vea is freaking out about the weight loss and it's stressing her out to keep watching me shrink.  It's true, I have only one pair of pants that will stay up. None of my bras fit anymore. I do need to invest in some proper clothes, but it seems like a waste of money to spend too much, when I don't know what size I'll be wearing once we get this figured out.

Which leads to today's mission.... shopping. Not my favorite sport, but necessary nonetheless. If only I had the energy and the $$ to really go nuts.  Wish me luck, I think I'll need it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Appreciating the Little Things

It's Saturday, September 22, 2012. 8:32 am. Nothing particularly noteworthy about this day. Meaning, it's not a birthday or anniversary or any other meaningful date. And yet, I want to make sure and LOVE THIS DAY!!!!

Why? Well, it's so important to be focused on the positive in life. To not take the little things for granted. Like the birds I hear chirping outside my window. They're talking to each other. I wish I knew what they were saying. :) I know, a lot of people are too focused on the bigger things in life to EVER notice a birdsong happening right outside their window. So, does this mean I should be grateful?

I think it does. Gratitude comes when you least expect it. At least for me. I've been writing a lot about my challenges with Crohn's disease lately. And, even though I don't feel as physically good as I wish I did, and I don't have answers and solutions in this very moment, I'm grateful! 

  • I'm grateful for the fact that I woke up this morning in my own bed, not a hospital bed.
  • I'm grateful for the incredible love and support and empathy and understanding Hawea wraps me in. She makes jokes to lighten the mood. She deals with the unpleasant aspects of this condition usually without complaint. She's protective of me. She loves me not only through her heart, but through her actions. I can't find the words to describe how deeply loved I am. 
  • I'm grateful to be able to buy what I need at the grocery store. So it's a liquid diet for a couple of weeks at least. But guess what? There are a ton of tasty juices and soups available, and at least I can have those!!! I was reading a book last night called "The Man Who Couldn't Eat". He had severe complications from Crohn's and couldn't consume anything orally for 3 months. I can identify with so much of his experience on a very small scale. And I am SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO SO GRATEFUL that my challenges have been managed this well. I am grateful for my soup, for smoothies. For being able to drink a glass of juice. To sip a cup of water. It's the little things in life we take for granted. 
  • Tasty (ugly)  nutritious breakfast
  • Thank you, body, for being my friend this morning! For deciding to go to the bathroom first thing, and for my tummy feeling flat and normal. This is one of the best feelings ever. I love the "absence of gas" feeling and it seems that I feel it more and more often. 
  • It's great to have cool iphone apps to track symptoms. Technology is awesome, isn't it? 
  • And, lest I give the impression that I only think about myself, I'm thankful for the amazing, strong, compassionate people in my life, in my world. Thankful for their care and consideration. For their love. I know that there are opportunities, every day, to come out of myself and see what I can do to love them back. To support them. To acknowledge their challenges and celebrate their victories. We all have our burdens. Crohn's may be less relatable than the single mom raising a child with behavior issues, or the morbidly obsese person's struggle to lose over 100 pounds,  but that doesn't make my struggle more or less important than yours. I think I needed that perspective check this morning. 
  • Thankful I have ways to manage fear and panic, and that I'm remembering to do so. Writing is one of those ways. The fear comes from feeling out of control, and lack of faith and trust in my body to do what it needs to do. Again, feeling out of control is a common feeling, people in various situations experience it. It's not exclusive to people with IBD. Lack of faith and trust are things I CAN control, if I choose to. I'm working on it. 
  • Thankful for so many many blessings, including my work - a light schedule that I can keep up with even when I'm not feeling well. For the fact that I love the people I work with. They are kind and good. For being able to do good work. 
  • And... the upcoming mainland trip! This is a good one. A chance to visit my Iowa and Illinois family whom I haven't seen in four years. A chance to celebrate Nikki and TJ and their family. To reconnect with old friends. And to spread the love. :) 
A grateful person trusts enough to give life another chance, to stay open for
surprises. ~ Brother David Steindal-Rast

Friday, September 21, 2012

Liquid meals

Yesterday was the doctor appointment. To summarize the outcome, I was referred to a GI specialist for an endoscopy and advised to go on a gluten free, dairy free, liquid diet in the meantime. Other recommendations are to eat small, frequent meals, drink A LOT of water through a straw, and to remain in an upright position for at least 3 hours after my last meal.

You might be wondering, "what exactly can you eat?"I was sure asking that question. After a moment of shock, I settled into the idea of better nutrition. After all, when you can't eat solid food, the junk food monster addiction is suddenly tamed. Gone are the candy bars, and the impulsive trips to the drive through window.

I'm telling myself that this is largely a matter of attitude, and that it's a great opportunity to take good care of myself. It's NOT a bad thing to have to restrict toxins from entering one's body. Additionally, I'd MUCH rather drink healthy liquid concoctions from the comfort of my home, versus the confinement of a hospital bed!

For breakfast this morning I made a smoothie out of almond milk, peanut butter, a frozen banana, a scoop of protein powder and a bit of honey. I split it into two separate servings, to fulfill the "small frequent meals" requirement.  It was pretty darned delicious and I was stoked - until I realized that the protein powder contained dairy. :( Fail!

For lunch, yet another serving of the SCD Chicken soup. (Basically chicken broth with pureed carrots mixed it.) It's not bad. In fact, for what it is, it's tasty enough. I'm ready to move on to a new flavor though. My stomach has been gurgling LOUDLY.

My plan for the evening is a garlic ginger soup, heavy on the tastiness. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Soup, grape juice and ginger chews.

So, yesterday morning after the great puke-fest of 2012, V's mission was getting me a doctor appointment ASAP.  I couldn't get through on the phone, so we made a trip down to the office, only to find it closed. Not to be deterred, we left and ran some errands and came back. They were still closed, but Dr. Stef was there - popped his head out when he heard another patient pulling on the locked door. 

We caught his eye and he came out to chat. We gave him the skinny, and gave me an appointment for the next day (today) at 11. I'm so thankful! It's definitely an unusual way to set an appointment but I feel hopeful that I'll be getting some help. 

For the rest of the day, I pretty much avoided solid food. I was so hungry and truly considered getting a burger from Burger King and eating only the meat patty. Thankfully, I ran out of time and didn't do it. I'm pretty sure my digestive tract is thanking me for skipping it. V made me a pot of SCD Chicken Soup (from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet). It's basically a bunch of chicken simmered in water with carrots, celery, onions and parsley. Then all the veggies are strained out. The carrots were then pureed and added back into the broth. For it being a plain soup, it was honestly pretty good, and I was a fan of the pretty orange color. The only thing was I felt so hungry and wanted to keep eating. 

Yesterday's calorie total was approximately 600, between the diluted grape juice, chicken soup and ginger chews I ate. Which explains why I am ONE HUNGRY MAMA today! 

Heading to the doctor in a little over an hour. Will update soon. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A gross post

Oh. My. Word. I am so tired. So much for the diet that seemed to be working. Last night I came home with a puffy, distended stomach and major nausea. The kind of nausea that requires a quiet, dark room.

To make a long story short, I'll jump to the end. Me, puking my guts out into an empty kitty litter bucket which V had so thoughtfully placed by the side of the bed. She, so revolted by my puking, that her gag reflex kicked in. The two of us, then, in the bathroom, side by side, throwing up. Her into the toilet, me into the bucket. It was disgusting. Gross. And completely absurd.

After that, I could tolerate small amounts of light and noise. I was able to sleep.

This morning, I'm weak and exhausted. Hungry but scared to eat. We went by the doctor's office and made an appointment for tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll be sticking to chicken broth and water.

And, never, have I really wanted a true meal more than I want one right now. V's words of encouragement, "Maybe by next week, you can have a real meal."

Sigh. I hope so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A loner Crohn'ser?

Man. When I decided to start writing about what it's like to live with Crohn's Disease, I didn't realize how truly exposing that could be.  Of course my family and close friends know a bit more of the details, but only V really knows what it's like, as she sees the daily ups and downs.

I do my best to move through life without letting this condition have a hold on me. I don't want to be someone defined by illness. In fact, it's very important to me to be defined by wellness. And this, I suppose, is why I'm writing about it now. 

I think it's important to finally face that it is what it is. No more, no less. It's something I'm still learning how to manage and deal with. I can be proud of myself for that. 

It's crazy, but I don't think I've ever (knowingly) met another person living with Crohn's. How, in the course of 14 years, is that possible? As they say, like attracts like. Maybe I subconsciously avoided any such connections because I refused to identify as unwell. I didn't want to meet anyone with this condition. I didn't want to be able to relate about painful, embarrassing things.  But the truth is, it's a little lonely. Like I said, V knows as much as another person can know, by observing, what it's like when I'm having a flare. But watching someone ride a roller coaster is different than being strapped into the seat. 

Enough on the psychological aspects for one day. On to the physical. I feel pretty good! Digestive function seems to be working. If I'm going to be honest, it wasn't the best digestive day ever, but I'll spare anyone from reading the details. No exercise, no peppermint oil capsules, but plenty of water. 

Food: I'm trying to really truly eat for better health. It's a challenge in our society, which has come to prize "food" that is mean to our insides. One day at a time, right? All things are possible, one step at a time. 

Today's breakfast (above). Dry curd cottage cheese (also known as Farmers Cheese) which has probiotics in it. Drizzled with a bit of honey. 2 eggs, topped with colby jack cheese and sriracha hot chili sauce. 

I may begin posting more meal pictures, if it's not a giant pain in the ass. Might help me become more aware of the relationship between what I'm eating and how I'm feeling. 

On that note, I'm off..... there's a beautiful day waiting to be lived. 

In gratitude, 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One day at a time.

My weekend took an unexpected turn as early as Friday afternoon. I don't want to go into detail now (I might cry) but we had to say goodbye to our kitty, Darby. It was one of the hardest, saddest things I think I've ever done. I may share more about this later, and I may not. It may be too fresh, my heart too raw. All I know is I love and miss her. 

The weekend, not surprisingly, was different. I went to Beach 69 with Beth and enjoyed re-charging in the sun. Life is so fragile and precious. I certainly am in a place of taking stock of my blessings. We had a great time - sparkling turquoise water and white sand - the sky, vibrant and blue. A quick trip to Costco followed - my first time in there. I'm in love with that place! A 35 pound bag of dog food, 2 cartons of berries and a pair of cozy sweatpants later, we were in the car headed home. 

Crohn's-wise, I felt pretty good for most of the day. Snacks included a hard boiled egg, cashews, pumpkin kernels, some weird soybean crisp thingies (probably not a repeat for me), and a bit of chicken breast.  By the time we got to Costco I started feeling funky and I knew that if i could just lie down in bed, or strike a yoga pose or two, I could probably relieve my discomfort pretty quickly. Since those options weren't really available, I went into my "grin (or grimace) and bear it" mode. On a pain scale, it was probably a 6 or 7.  I ended up super nauseous on the ride home. Not quite "pull over! i need to hurl!!!" nauseous, but close. Once I got home, I stretched out in my new fluffy pants, some of the gas escaped, and all was good again. 

If anyone's actually reading this: I feel the need to apologize every time I refer to gas or bodily functions, but in all honesty, it's a daily reality for a person with Crohn's. It's a challenge to write about because it violates all rules of polite conversation. And yet, this is me. It's the life I'm living. It took me 90 some posts on this thing to get this real. It's an experiment in authenticity, I guess.

 All things considered, it was a good day. My life is full and I am blessed. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The diet seems to be helping

So, it's been a better week, Crohn's-wise. I've actually had an appetite, consistently, day in and day out for the past several days. That's a big deal! I'd forgotten what it was like to feel hunger.

For the most part, my body seems to be tolerating the snacks and meals I've been choosing, and the encouraging news is, yesterday I actually reached around 1200 calories. I know the dangers of under-eating and it doesn't thrill me to have really low calorie days.

It appears that I'm on a better track than I've been on in a while. Avoiding (or at least limiting) starches, grains and sugars (for now). It's a daunting task if I think I have to do this 100%, for ever and ever. On the other hand, thinking that I'm just doing this today, for now, so I feel better, makes it easier. I've also added peppermint oil capsules with an enteric coating, (one, with water, 30 -60 minutes before eating).

I have to admit - in the morning and early afternoon I was EXTREMELY lethargic and sluggish. Bone tired. Exhausted, and even a little nauseous. To the point that I had to come home and just lie down. It seemed to wear off later in the day. I don't really know what that's about.... I guess I should keep track of those symptoms too. :(

Yesterday's food:
Breakfast:  1/2 cup coffee with creamer

Lunch: 2 thin hamburger patties with cheese, 1 strip of bacon, a couple dill pickle slices

Snack One: 2 tbsp Adams natural peanut butter with a drizzle of honey

Snack Two: 2 slices thin smoked deli ham, a slice of welsh cheddar cheese (a hard, aged cheese), a slice of lucerne monterey jack cheese

Snack Three: 3 Jolly Rancher hard candies

Dinner: 3 hot wings with a bit of ranch, and the toppings of a slice of Mediterranean pizza. I admit, I cheated an nibbled a bit of the bubbly end crust.

This was not 100% in terms of avoiding sugars, starches and grains, but it's a start. Seeing it in writing, it was a lot of cheese,  and the sugars from the candies, ranch and hot wing sauce aren't ideal. Even so, I had no distention in the stomach, no "D", no puking or vomiting, minimal gas. ( I cannot believe I'm writing about gas, specifically MY gas, on the internet). Such is the life.

I'm well aware this isn't an ideal diet by normal health standards, but if it makes my intestines happy, it's a huge improvement. Hopefully I can work more fruits / veggies into the mix soon.

I'm heading to the beach today, my happy place. Hoping that an afternoon of sun, sea and sand does a body good.

Where's YOUR happy place??

Friday, September 14, 2012

Finding My Way

On the surface, I've been optimistic about my health. You might say I've been wearing rose colored glasses. Convincing myself that "it's getting better" any time I'm able to eat something without having dire consequences. 

But delve a little deeper and you'll see that I've been panicking a bit. Stressing a lot. Scared and angry. Pissed off about my body rejecting food, and to add insult to injury, it's a rude, painful process. (Lots of gas, people). And bloating. But when I say bloating, I don't mean the "gee, I feel a little pudgy today" kind. What I'm actually referring to is a stomach distended as far (actually, further) than I ever thought humanly possible. Hard as a rock. Looking 9 months pregnant and due to deliver any moment. All from trying to eat a meal. 

And maybe the most powerful emotion of all (and the hardest one to admit) .... shame. At being broken. At having a defective body that attacks me when I'm doing my best to keep it happy and healthy. It's a lonely feeling and something that no one in my daily or personal life can relate to. 

People are well meaning. I'm given lots of suggestions, ideas and opinions - very few of which have any basis in research. There's the implication - at times - that I must be doing something wrong. That my illness is my fault. The "what are you eating?" question delivered in a well intentioned, but accusatory tone, is the one that gets to me most. Duh. Do you not think I've been trying to eat well? Yeaaaaah. After weeks, (to be honest, months now) of not feeling quite right, my patience, tolerance and positive attitude is being tested. 

It's a test I want to pass. I don't want to be a grouchy sick person who feels helpless. I want to be strong, healthy and whole. I want to educate myself as much as I can - knowledge is power, right? - without identifying as a sick, helpless person. 

There has to be a healthy balance. I know it's there. And I'm just not seeing it. I believe it will get clearer and clearer... just as I believe that with every day, I will be feeling stronger and better. 

With that said, here are my updates for the day: 
Slept well last night (VICTORY!!!) 
Able to eat breakfast (2 hard boiled eggs)
Found dry curd cottage cheese at Island Naturals and had it for lunch 
Enjoyed natural peanut butter with celery sticks for an afternoon snack
Ate dinner - chicken thigh and mashed cauliflower. 

My challenge for the day: 
I had a bit of mental fog - and struggled to concentrate at work until I was able to eat my eggs. 
Ummm... maybe too many eggs in the past 48 hours? Repeated trips to the bathroom this afternoon. Not fun to share publicly, but a reality, nonetheless. 
Realized how much I want a new job opportunity (not Crohn's related though, so yay!) 

My food choices were loosely informed by the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, though I need to do the Intro Phase if I'm REALLY going to stick to it. I picked up enteric coated peppermint capsules, which are supposed to soothe the intestines as well. I hear lots of gurgling and there's definitely activity in there, but I think I'm going to be able to sleep tonight. It's progress. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

All love and support is welcomed.

If you've never been diagnosed with chronic disease, then you probably don't personally know the emotional toll of riding the illness/wellness roller coaster. Unfortunately, I do, and last night I reached a point of surrender. I just wanted off the ride.

Here's a little backstory, to put today into context:

I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease when I was 21 years old and had a surgery to remove part of my intestines. Fast forward a few years - after a handful of hospitalizations, I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. At the age of 33,  I set out to build a healthy new life. 

I made it my mission to do everything humanly possible to stay well. That meant changing my diet, starting an exercise regime and actually using stress management strategies, like refusing to get really stressed out, taking "me" breaks, deep breathing, meditating, journaling, etc. Exercise became a huge part of effective stress management. 

It was working! I lost 50 pounds, which is a lot on a 5'4" frame. I discovered that I was not, in fact, "big boned", as I had always liked to believe. And I felt as if I had this Crohn's thing beat. 

And then... 3 years into my new healthy life... a mere 3 months ago...  BAM! The problems started surfacing again. Pain when eating. Bloating, gas, cramping. Fatigue and low energy. I started losing more weight. Not being able to eat. Throwing up.  Not exercising regularly. I was stressing out about feeling ill, not using stress management tools, and before I knew it, my balance was gone. Like it just went POOF in the night. 
Last night was especially ugly. Between the hours of midnight and 2 am, my stomach was distended like a basketball. I couldn't stay comfortably in bed, and kept roaming the house searching for a way to alleviate the pain. I spent more than a few minutes on a blanket on the bathroom floor, begging for mercy, feeling too tired and too defeated to cry. I finally decided to try to take some prednisone to reduce inflammation. As soon as I swallowed them, I was puking. The good news is, that was enough to reduce my discomfort and I was able to sleep. From 2:30-6 am, I had relatively comfortable rest. I'm not asking for pity here, but you may understand my feelings of dejection if I explain that this happened two nights in a row (only one puking) after two really good days of feeling well. 

Which brings me to the here and now. I'm a huge mixture of emotions.  I'm actually kind of pissed. I'm tired of feeling tired. In the dark midnight hours, I feel defeated, lonely, scared, and somehow guilty for having created illness in my life.  I hate being scared of my own body. 

By light of day though.... I'm a bit more optimistic. I've gotten very good at convincing myself I'm getting better. But I find myself wondering, "at what point is positive thinking simply delusional thinking?"

Obviously, I need a wellness plan. I need to truly restore my faith in my right to be well. It starts today. It has to. My turning point 3 years ago was desperation for a healthy, normal life, and believing I could have it. I have to have that belief that it's possible again. 

Starting today: 
  • I respond to myself with patience, kindness and grace. No more self induced guilt trips. No more shame. I have a health condition that I am doing my best to manage. And I am worthy of wellness. 
  • I take EXCELLENT care of my entire being - mind, body, spirit. 
  • I exercise every day in some way. Even if it's just a walk or treading water in the ocean. I engage in intentional activity for my well being 
  • I look forward to challenging exercise. It makes me feel strong, healthy and accomplished. It helps me be the ME that I love being
  • I eat healthful nutritious foods every day. Salads, nuts, smoothies, peanut butter,  an occasional piece of fruit. Some cheese. Chicken, turkey.  Eggs on occasion. All things in moderation. 
  • I understand "moderation". It means fast food/ processed food no more than once a week. No rice, no potatoes. They're just not worth it. 
  • Much more water than soda or coffee.
  • No binges on sweets or chips / crackers / other processed crap. Those things aren't real food. 
  • I save baked goods, pastries, etc. for special occasions (birthdays, socializing with friends). If I want a sweet treat before bed, a piece of dark chocolate it is. 
  • I choose peace over stress.  I refuse to stress out over work. It's not worth it. Ever. I trust and know that it will all work out in the end. 
  • I make time for daily meditation.
  • I exercise, breathe deeply, pray, journal, and visit the beach to stay happy and balanced. 
  • No more "woe is me" victim mentality. My health is mine. I am entitled to it. And I will have it. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fall is in the air! :)

I loooove the crisp, fresh feeling in the air right now. It's the feeling that life is pregnant with possibility. That anything can happen. And that magic is unfolding in this very moment.

If only I could bottle this feeling and sell it! I'd be a millionaire. :)

Yesterday was a lovely day: took a trip to beach 69 with Beth to celebrate Labor Day and close out my last day of vacation. She amused me so much - playing like a dolphin in the water. She could've stayed there forever!

The trip wouldn't have been complete without taking the coastal drive home and stopping for malasadas. Yuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm. My belly is full and my heart is happy.

Today is my first day back to work. Thank goodness there's magic in the air - I may just get my workout mojo back after all!

Happy Fall, friends!! :)