Posts Tagged by health

Welcome to My Pity Party…

I’ve been quiet for the past week….obviously.  I’ve had to face some realities that frankly have bummed me out a bit and I haven’t been inspired to write.  I know that’s probably the opposite of what I should do, but I tend to be one of those people that needs to reflect on things a bit before expressing how I feel, even hiding it from my family and closest friends.  It might not be the best thing anxiety wise, but it’s what I do.

Last Monday, I met with my GI doctor to talk about my Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  You see UC is one of those diseases that just gets worse over time.  Logic would tell you that with the proper medications and diet, it would be kept in remission.  Sadly this is not the case.  My current cocktail of medications hasn’t been as effective lately and I knew it was time to have that talk with my doctor about switching things up.  Having had Pancreatitis back in 2007 from medication used for my UC (or so we think…there was never a definitive answer on that) I obviously have a healthy fear of these meds, so I had been putting this off for a while.  

The visit went well and I left with the fun tasks of getting a bagillion viles of  blood taken and scheduling a colonoscopy in the near future.  Oh joy!  Most people don’t get to have a colonoscopy until they are 50…this will be my 4th and I’m 33.  Oh and did I mention I tend to pass out when I get blood taken?  Yeah, that happens.  

So as I waited for the results of the blood tests to come back  the festering began…what would they show?  I of course was scouring the Internets to diagnose all of the other issues I’ve been having, dizzy spells, low energy, etc… which is probably the WORST thing you can do.  I was convinced I was B12 deficient, maybe anemic from the UC, or worse would the cancer markers appear showing what I have been dreading since this disease reared it’s ugly head 10 years ago.  Can you say hot mess and a ball of nerves?

Well guess what?  Everything came back normal…yep…normal.  All that worry, all that seclusion, what for?  Nothing.  And the worst part is stress and worry like that actually make my UC worse!  Way to go Sarah.  So what did we learn from this?  I need to tell my head to shut the fuck up and go on with my life.  Life is WAY to short to worry about the what ifs.  It is out of my control.  If I keep spending all my time on dwelling on that, I will miss out on all the positive and fun things life has to offer…like dancing with zombie monkey things…

Sarah-Monkey

Yep…that was me throwing caution to the wind this past weekend and immersing myself in the Halloween season at one of my favorite events, the Trail of Terror.  Poor health be damned, I’m going to get chased by chainsaws and crawl through tunnels!  OK maybe that’s a ridiculous example, but it really is a metaphor for me to stop trying to control everything in my life.  It just leads to stress and  more health issues…a vicious cycle.  

Will this be cured overnight?  NOPE.  But at least it’s something I can work on.  My colonoscopy will be coming up in the next few weeks (date still TBD) so until then I’m just not going to think about this crap and stop throwing pity parties!

 What do you worry about?  Do you throw pity parties for yourself?

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And Then I Slept…

We all know sleep is important, right?  In fact, it’s one of the MOST important aspects of a healthy lifestyle.  It’s the time our bodies regenerate and we allow ourselves to fully heal.  It’s crucial for physical health, mental well-being and our overall functionality during the day.  Cats get..why don’t we?

Sleep

This past weekend I had another whirlwind adventure in Walt Disney World for The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler race weekend.  Not only did I run a 10-mile race, but I also trekked around Epcot for 3 days exploring the International Food & Wine Festival.  Tough, but someone had to taste test all that food!  I only averaged about 5 hours of sleep for the 4 nights that I spent there and by the time I got home yesterday I was completely exhausted.  I basically dropped my bags and passed out with the cats for 2 hours.  I woke up to eat dinner with B and then was back in bed by 9:00 pm, sleeping for close to 9 hours.  I can’t say I woke up refreshed, but damn that felt good. 

So given that we know how important sleep is, why do we continually push ourselves to complete exhaustion?  Why is sleep NEVER a priority?  I fall victim to this all the time.  There is always something that is keeping me from going to bed on time or getting that much needed 8 hours of sleep.  My next blog post, bills to pay, food to prep, laundry to do.  But really, what is more important than my health?!  

This weekend was an extreme example of not getting enough sleep.  With the race starting at 10:00 pm, your sleep schedule gets completely thrown out of whack.  Plus, we all know when you’re in Walt Disney World you’re just too excited to sleep, right?!?!  But coming back from a weekend like that really takes a toll on your everyday life.  I still feel drained and I’m sure I will not perform well at the gym tonight.  My diet has been suffering because I’m too tired to prep meals for the week.  And so on and so on.  

This week I am committed to getting a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night.  I need to get my body back to a healthy state so I can focus on all of the other things that are important to me.  Will you make the commitment and get 8 hours of sleep per night with me???       

How much sleep do you get per night?  How do you recuperate from an exhausting few days?

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Living with Ulcerative Colitis

Over 10 years ago, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC).  It was a scary diagnosis.  I had never heard of this disease and all I knew was that my digestive system was in serious distress.  It seemed like I was just given a life sentence of discomfort and exile.  How could I lead a “normal” life with a disease that had me constantly concerned with where the closest bathroom is?

If you’re not familiar with UC, it is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the large intestine/colon that causes small ulcers to form.  The ulcers produce mucus and often bleed, which causes a fair amount of discomfort during what we call a “flare.” Sounds lovely right?  

The most frustrating thing about UC is that there is no definitive cause.  Research has shown that it is possibly linked to genetics, environmental factors, auto-immune disorders, you name it.  But there is no concrete evidence to show one thing or the other or a combination of things.  Because of this, treatment options aren’t concrete either.  There is a lot of trial and error with various medications including steroids and immunosuppresants, all of which can have some pretty serious side effects.   

And because of all of these things, I often feel like this…

Sarah_Colitis

Living with UC is no picnic.  When I’m in the middle of a flare, I often feel lethargic, depressed and achy.  Getting out of bed can be difficult, let alone working or exercising.  I’ve been on a variety of maintenance medications over the years, some of which have led to serious side effects.  

In 2007, I found myself hospitalized for 2 days because one of the medications caused acute pancreatitis, one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced.  I currently am on a combination of a 5-ASA anti-inflammatory drug and steroids to keep my symptoms at bay, but some days that doesn’t even work.  

It hasn’t been fun and it hasn’t been easy, but unfortunately these are the cards I’ve been dealt so I’ve had to learn how to cope.  And thankfully, I still have many days that I feel like this…       

034 Mile 13

I wanted to share my story of living with UC and hopefully encourage more people to talk about it.  For the first few years of my diagnosis, I very rarely talked about it.  Frankly, I was embarrassed!  Who wants to talk about their poop problems??  But at some point I just got over it.  I needed to talk about it.  I didn’t feel good and I didn’t want to make excuses for why.  I wanted people to know the truth and also to educate people who might not be aware of UC.  Over 700,000 people are suffering from UC, why is no one talking about it?!?

 The real turning point for me was when I started running and exercising more frequently.  UC plays a part in everything I do because I have to listen to how my body is feeling and not push myself too hard on bad days.  It also means knowing where bathrooms are at all time, which is why training for races can often prove difficult and discouraging.  I find myself having to map out routes where I will pass public places if needed.  I also have to carefully plan out my pre-run meals and leave enough time before going out for things to work through my system.  There have been way too many close calls!  It is because of this that I often struggle with motivation and putting in the miles…it’s easier to just avoid training, but that is never the answer.

In early 2012, I found Team Challenge, the endurance training and fundraising program for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA).  Not only was this a great way to improve my running, but I was able to fund raise for an organization that is supporting research for UC!  The group was amazingly supportive and they helped provide tips for exercising with UC.  (Read all about my experience here.)  I also couldn’t believe how many people came out of the woodwork during the fundraising process to tell me that they either suffered from the disease or knew of someone who did.  It was empowering and opened up an amazing dialogue.  Again, why weren’t we talking about this before?!? 

One of my hopes with RAD Living is to create some sort of dialogue and also show people that a UC diagnosis isn’t the end of your life, it’s just a lifestyle change.  You can still do whatever you set your mind to, it just might be in a different way or with some restrictions.  I’m proof of that!  I’ve completed a marathon (albeit slowly), 5 half marathons, and I can pick up 220 pounds.  HELL YEAH!  I might never be the strongest or the fastest, but I’m still doing it and you can too.  

So plan on hearing about my ups, my downs, my bowel movements, my inflammation, and whatever else randomly comes to mind in the future about UC.  I want to be honest about this hateful disease and I hope that sometime in the future a cure will be found.  But until then, can you tell me where the closest bathroom is???

Do you have Crohn’s, Colitis or any other chronic illness that has made you make a lifestyle change?  I want to hear your story!   

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