“It’s happening again”
That was the thought going through my head a few days before we celebrated New Year’s. I was having the same symptoms that I felt right before I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis back in 2008:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting
- Weakness and fatigue
- General feeling of “this sucks”
In 2008 I had no idea what I was going through. I had never heard of ulcerative colitis or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). I just remember not being able to eat, being in pain, losing 50lbs, and suddenly having this unknown disease. This time when those same symptoms returned I was unfortunately aware of what they most likely would mean.
Those symptoms did mean that I was having my first major flare. That meant that I found myself back in the hospital after another colonoscopy which showed severe inflammation of my intestines. The doctor said that the inflammation presented signs of Crohn’s disease and that I’d need to go on stronger medications – a combination of daily Imuran pills along with an every 8-week Remicade infusion treatment.
This was the first major flare I had experienced while managing my IBD. The initial diagnosis was a whirlwind of confusion and emotions. I had no idea about ulcerative colitis or IBD. I was confused, scared, and frustrated that I had lost 50lbs. I was mad that I was so skinny and weak and that none of my clothes fit. I was afraid that I’d never get back to living a normal life again since I had been diagnosed with a chronic disease at 27 years old.
Now I’m going through some of these emotions and fears again. How long will it take to regain my lost weight? Will I be able to even do it again? How will Crohn’s affect me? What are these stronger medications going to mean? How do I get back to a normal life again? What does “a normal life” even mean with IBD? Do I have to temper my dreams and goals now?
“FAITH and FEAR make poor bedfellows. Where one is found, the other cannot exist.”
~ Napoleon Hill
At least this time I have a better understanding of IBD. I have gone through the recovery process once before. I understand what nutritional methods work best for me. I know more about my body – and the human body in general – to help create an effective exercise and strength training program.
I was released from the hospital on January 15, 2013. They brought me down from the room to the car in a wheelchair because I was still too weak to walk that far on my own. In some ways this was the worst part of all. I felt embarrassed that I was that weak. Just a few months prior I had passed the physically demanding 3-day RKC certification! I thought about where I had been and where I was while I sat in that wheelchair waiting for my ride. The distance was no farther than 50 feet. I decided that I would not be wheeled out of the hospital. I made sure that I walked out on my own…that was the start of my recovery program.
1 Month of Recovery
On February 15, 2013 I weighed 150.6 lbs (that .6 lb can mean a lot!). I have not yet fully recovered, but I am on my way…
The new medications have helped calm down the inflammation. I have been able to eat a better diet of organic, nutrient and calorie dense foods without digestive complications. I am starting to feel stronger and more normal again. I can get out of the house, meet friends for lunch, and have been able to return to training clients again.
I recently found a Ted Talk video by Karen Thompson Walker discussing fear and faith. She wanted to see how fear could somehow be a good thing. She asked us to consider what our fears can teach us. What would we discover if we uncovered our inner, more subtle fears?
I’m afraid of getting sick again and being weak.
This is not a constant, daily fear that overwhelms me and prevents me from living life. This fear (really better described as awareness) is simply my motivator.
I want to eat healthy, organic foods that will support my immune system and help rebuild my body.
I want to challenge my body to grow and become stronger through my training.
I want to read and learn about how to improve and get better.
I hope this is similar to what Karen meant when she described the idea of “productive paranoia”. She described this as a trait of successful entrepreneurs who prepare and take action to be ready for the worst possible fear…so that when this happen (if it happens at all) they are ready.
All I can do – all I have tried to do so far – is prepare myself as best as possible so that I’ll be ready to battle whatever IBD throws my way.
Until then I’ll be spending my days getting healthier, stronger, and better.
~With Strength & Nutrition