Don't let your Crohn's win. Beat the Crohn's.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Crohnie: Sick and Well Again

In a dorm in St. Olaf, there lived a Crohnie.
Rereading The Hobbit for class has been a great insight for me. During our plenary, the professor mentioned, "You can't have an adventure without first getting a little uncomfortable." At the time, I didn't think much of it, but I realize I'm going through my own adventure.
Since I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, I have been bombarded with all of my can'ts and shouldn'ts. I can't expect to live a normal life. I shouldn't eat certain foods. I shouldn't participate in certain activities. As much as I have always resented these restrictions on my life, I realize that I have also been limiting myself. When something made me sick, I avoided it afterwards like the plague, which always made sense to me and is what my doctor told me to do.
Like Bilbo, I was happy in my comfortable ways, or so I thought. Just as the Took side in him wanted to go on an adventure, there has always been a part of me that is determined to live the way everyone else gets to - free of restrictions. Yesterday morning, I realized that for the past five months, I have been making my own voyage to the Lonely Mountains.
I have always had terrible sickness in the morning. The five or so years after diagnosis, I could not wake up earlier than six in the morning, or I would be really sick. I only ate cereal up through high school because eating anything else would make me queasy. If we were going to a pancake breakfast,  I had to wake early and eat cereal for breakfast so I could manage the pancakes later on. Everyone told me I just needed to accept that, so I did. I kept my morning routines so I did not have to worry about being sick.
I also did not do much for exercise besides swimming. Some medications were rough on my joints, and land exercise always seemed to bother my intestines. I had a disease - I couldn't be expected to do anything to aggravate it. Without realizing it, I allowed myself to live a routine because that was what I knew would keep pain and sickness away.
This year was a turning point. A friend helped get me motivated for the gym. I started out slow and didn't care for it much at first. I hurt and felt sick afterwards. Sometime around January, that changed - I actually enjoyed going to the gym. I enjoyed it so much, that when it worked better to work out in the morning, I decided to try it.
It took me two weeks to do an actual work out in the morning. The first day I went on the elliptical for five minutes and had to run to the bathroom to throw up. But I kept at it. Eventually I could do ten minutes before needed the bathroom. Before I knew it, I was completely my entire work outs in the morning! I still didn't realize how amazing of an accomplishment this was.
Then, I took it my mind that I wanted to run a CCFA half-marathon. I don't run - I've always hated it. And since it hurt my intestines to run, I was never expected to. My doctors told me that most people with IBD can't and it would be foolish to try. I started out slow and was only getting a half mile it. I kept at it; I just had to see if I could really do it.
Two weeks ago, I ran three miles, something I never had imagined would be possible. That was my goal for the end of the school year since I plan on running at the end of November/early December. However, I still didn't really understand what an accomplishment this was.
Yesterday morning, I ran/walked two miles. I combined two of my most dreaded pain-provokers, and I succeeded! I couldn't believe that me, a girl who refused to run or change her morning activities or run because of Crohn's, actually went for a run in the morning and didn't throw up!
As many times as this journey has absolutely sucked, I realize now what it has taught me - it doesn't matter that I have Crohn's disease, I can do whatever I set my mind to. Sure, it might take me five months to reach such an amazing accomplishment, but I can reach my goals.
No longer will I sit on the sidelines of life.
I have Crohn's disease, but that is not who I am.
I am a fighter.