Brian's all, "Psh, I've read this story SO many times. I know the bunny finds his mom in the end."

The Biggest Little Victories

Date: July 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 47

After last week, when I got to write that really fun “I see signs of improvement!” post, I’ve so badly wanted to write another one filled with enthusiasm and joy (if only because you all left me the best comments of all-time with words of encouragement and happiness, and reading them got me all teary eyed and smiley faced).

Unfortunately, each time I’ve felt victorious about something — whether it’s a walk in Central Park or merely responding to an email — I seem to get kicked down a bit soon thereafter.

My moods and emotions are unpredictable at best. I can feel so much excitement the minute I finish a spin class without having to bolt for the door (and the bathroom behind it), but when I find myself in pain an hour later, or getting up 12 times throughout the night (not necessarily an exaggeration) to use the bathroom, I’m so beyond frustrated that I want to punch the throats of kittens.

Sorry. Not a cat person.

Still, after being so down on my luck for the entirety of 2013, I know I need to start changing my perspective. It’s a work in progress and I’m in no way back to being Happy Ali ’round the clock. Sometimes I just want to stew in my misery, so that’s exactly what I let myself do.

Today, though, or at least this hour of the day, I’m ready to shed a little positivity on the world (and by world I mean “my tiny corner of the internet that my mom likes to read”).

Am I better yet? Am I out of this flare-up zone?

Not at all. My stomach is relentless and unforgiving and refuses to get itself together.

But the iron and albumin IV infusions I’m receiving each week are definitely helping me get out of the apartment on a near-daily basis. Hooray for that!

They always say, "Keep the tape on for a few minutes" after I get the IV. I choose to keep it on for a full 24 hours because I'm afraid that, if left uncovered, my vein will spontaneously burst open and there will be a volcanic eruption of blood. (Dad? Still with us? Did you just pass out at the mention of blood? Really sorry.)

They always say, “Keep the tape on for a few minutes” after I get the IV. I choose to keep it on for a full 24 hours because I’m afraid that, if left uncovered, my vein will spontaneously burst open and there will be a volcanic eruption of blood. (Dad? Still with us? Did you just pass out at the mention of blood? Really sorry.)

And hooray for these other little victories that show signs I just may be slowly coming back to life…

I got a pedicure and turned on the massage chair! When I was in New Hampshire letting my mom take the very best care of me, all she wanted was for me to get out of the house. She forced me to take a walk to see the neighbor llamas, and the next day she practically begged me to put on human clothes (I had stayed in pajamas for five days straight) so we could go get pedicures.

Pajamas and a pedicure. And sitting on the back deck in New Hampshire. A lovely day, minus, you know, the Crohnsing.

Pajamas and a pedicure. And sitting on the back deck in New Hampshire. A lovely day, minus, you know, the Crohnsing.

Now, I am not one to pay for nail care. Manicures chip before they’ve even dried, and as a former runner (that hurts…), pedicures are simply a waste of money and callus removal. But if I have a special event coming up that will require open-toed shoes, I indulge in a pedicure, more so because I adore the massage chair and less because I care what my toenails look like.

My cute coworkers gave me glittery nail polish. So I used it and then emailed them this non-creepy photo.

My cute coworkers gave me glittery nail polish. So I used it and then emailed them this non-creepy photo.

When my mom and I went in for pedicures, I was in too much pain to turn on the massage chair. I hated that it made me wiggle and shake around, and so I just sat there, pissed about the waste of a good electronic back rub.

This past Friday, I decided to get a pedicure. And I turned on the massage chair. And it was fine. Pleasant, even.

I sang in the car! When Brian and I drove up to Vermont two weeks ago for a wedding, I was a wreck in the car. I was uncomfortable, I was anxious and I had made a killer playlist for the drive. Regular Ali is a karaoke superstar. I mean that. My vocal cords are basically made of gold, and if you’ve ever been with me past two drinks, 2 AM or two minutes into a road trip, you would agree. So when I refused to belt out my finest Kelly Clarkson on the way to Stowe, it was clear I was really, truly ill.

This weekend, Brian and I road tripped again, this time to Waltham, MA, near Boston (and Tyler!), for wedding #62 of the year.

Another weekend, another wedding. The lighting in the reception tent made everything pink. So we are pink.

Another weekend, another wedding. The lighting in the reception tent made everything pink. So we are pink.

And this time, I friggin’ sang. I got my Pitbull on, I channeled my inner Pink and you bet I Beyoncé’d my heart out. Not only is this a sign of improvement, it was also a fun time for Brian, who claims I “don’t know the lyrics to any of the songs,” which I know is not constructive criticism but rather a compliment toward my creativity.

I’m dying to ride my bike! I haven’t been on that bitch since I crashed it back in December. But lately, I’m desperate to clip in (and probably fall). I even brought my bike up to Boston this weekend hoping Brian and I could go for a ride before the wedding. We didn’t — the air conditioning and hotel bed won that battle — but I had the desire to hop on. And one of these days, I will ride my bike again. And on another day, I will take it into the bike shop because several parts are dirty, broken and mangled after the crash.

I did crunches! Obviously when my stomach is in a searing amount of pain (is “searing” a way you can measure pain? or just heat? does this work?) I can’t even fathom the idea of doing core work. And that’s sad for me, because I’m a lover of crunches and planks. I started every single day for at least two years by doing a “morning ab routine” that consisted of a billion crunches, and I loved it.

Then I got sick, and the crunching and planking ceased immediately. Goodbye, “abs” (that never actually visibly formed, dang it), goodbye fun mornings.

On Saturday morning while Brian was sleeping off his allergies, I went to the hotel gym and lifted a few weights and then…I crunched! I did 300 crunches and couldn’t stand up straight or cough for the next two days because I was so sore.

I danced at the wedding! At the Vermont wedding, I stood as far away from the dance floor as possible.

The closest I got to the dance floor in Vermont. There was no Feller Dancing to be had. I don't think anyone is upset about that.

The closest I got to the dance floor in Vermont. There was no Feller Dancing to be had. I don’t think anyone is upset about that.

This time, it took some courage and some time, but by the end of the night, I boogied along to a few songs. My moves leave much to be desired when I’m not wearing tap shoes, but I was pretty psyched to be out there with my friends.

Wedding tiiiiime. This was before I hit the dance floor. This was when we arrived at the ceremony and all I could think about was, "Where is the bathroom? I NEED TO KNOW WHERE THE BATHROOM IS."

Wedding tiiiiime. This was before I hit the dance floor. This was when we arrived at the ceremony and all I could think about was, “Where is the bathroom? I NEED TO KNOW WHERE THE BATHROOM IS.”

This is a photo of Lauren and Brian doing kickline at the reception. They totally would have made it onto my college team...

This is a photo of Lauren and Brian doing kickline at the reception. They totally would have made it onto my college team…

I played with Tyler!

How's your hair liking this humidity, Ty?

How’s your hair liking this humidity, Ty?

The last time I saw him, I was too miserable and exhausted to interact with him at all. But when I saw my main man on Sunday for a quick visit, I was able to hold him, read to him and snuggle with him for two seconds before he lost interest and ran away.

Brian's all, "Psh, I've read this story SO many times. I know the bunny finds his mom in the end."

Brian’s all, “Psh, I’ve read this story SO many times. I know the bunny finds his mom in the end.”

I survived the ride back to NYC! Driving up to Massachusetts — despite being seriously hopped up on a hefty dose of Imodium — required several urgent rest stop visits. Many of them were sketchy and unlit and it was late at night and I could have died. Thanks a lot, Crohn’s.

On the return trip, though, I didn’t take Imodium, didn’t have any in-car panic attacks and didn’t need to make a single pit stop. Victory is mine, you guys. It’s mine. Or it was, until I got home and suddenly my body revolted. I’m starting to think I’m Crohn’s-allergic to New York City…

There's just not enough fresh air to go around...

There’s just not enough fresh air to go around…

I got the buzzer! For months, I was too sick and tired to get off the couch, which meant that when my delivery food arrived and the buzzer went off, Brian always had to get up to answer it. On Sunday night, without even thinking about it, I went over to answer the buzzer and get the door when our delivery meal arrived.

I made a list! I think that my love for lists was stressing me out for a long time and that contributed to my anxiety and sickness. So throughout this flare-up, I’ve resisted making lists, particularly of the To-Do variety.

I’ve also resisted thinking about the future or planning for it.

But then I made a list. And one day I’ll be healthy enough to do the things on that list. No rush. No pressure. But the list exists. And somehow that’s a sign of an improved mental capacity.

This is the rough draft, hence the very imperfect "font." And no, you don't get to see what's on my list. It's private. (Said the girl who shares her entire life and diseasey details on the internet.)

This is the rough draft, hence the very imperfect “font.” And no, you don’t get to see what’s on my list. It’s private. (Said the girl who shares her entire life and diseasey details on the internet.)

I never thought I’d be excited about doing such minor things as “answering the buzzer.” I just keep thinking to myself, “I used to run marathons. How is getting off the couch now considered a victory?” At times, basking in these tiny improvements is so discouraging and so hard for me. I want to be doing more, I want to be recovering faster and I want to be back to my normal self after all this time.

This is the little dirt patch that takes you from the Bridle Path down to the tennis court bathrooms in Central Park. Kristan and I went for a walk last week (the week before? who can keep track?) and I impressed her by having to make a bathroom stop. She impressed ME by making it back up the hill without huffing and puffing, which is very much unlike the way I got up the hill...

This is the little dirt patch that takes you from the Bridle Path down to the tennis court bathrooms in Central Park. Kristan and I went for a walk last week (the week before? who can keep track?) and I impressed her by having to make a bathroom stop. She impressed ME by making it back up the hill without huffing and puffing, which is very much unlike the way I got up the hill…

Other times, though, these tiny victories feel huge.

Oh, did I forget to mention that other thing I did?

SWEATY SELFIE! I hate when other people do it, but then I did it myself. DON'T CARE, I'm allowed at least five post-illness photos like this to express my joy.

SWEATY SELFIE! I hate when other people do it, but then I did it myself. DON’T CARE, I’m allowed at least five post-illness photos like this to express my joy.

I ran a full loop of the Reservoir last Thursday. That’s 1.57 miles. It took me 17 minutes and 38 seconds, but I didn’t have to stop and I didn’t stop smiling.

Then, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, I ran the Reservoir loop again on Friday. This time it “only” took 17 minutes and 5 seconds. There was one bathroom stop, but that didn’t affect the amount of smiling.

I tried again Monday and it was a total failure in every way possible.

But Thursday and Friday…

The first person I told about my run was obviously Bernie. I sat on his bench and rehashed every little step. He was pumped. Probably. I don't know. He's a bench.

The first person I told about my run was obviously Bernie. I sat on his bench and rehashed every little step. He was pumped. Probably. I don’t know. He’s a bench.

Thursday and Friday were huge victories.

47 Responses to "The Biggest Little Victories"

Yay running! And dancing! And singing and pedicures and babies and car trips! I hope things continue to get better slowly but surely.

I’ve been hoping for this post for a long, long time :)

Glad to see you’re doing better and tearing it up in Central Park.

How are you feeling about doing the NYC Marathon this year? That would be quite the triumphant F-you to The Great Crohn’s Flare of 2013!

It absolutely would be triumphant — I’m signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in October and NYCM a month later. I’m not even letting myself think about either of them though. Right now it’s just one 1.57-mile loop at a time!

Running is progress! Whatever you do (although it looks like you are doing it) do not time yourself. If you are doing it, do not challenge yourself. Just run to run and not worry about a single thing except the fact that you CAN RUN! That is an amazing feat after what you have been through. Definitely deserves a sweaty, sweaty selfie :)
And-hey the act of bringing your bike shows some confidence in your body, too! Doesn’t matter that the AC won.

Yeah, that was part of my downfall with my running attempt Monday — timing myself. I won’t wear my watch, I just had the timer running on my phone because I was curious and didn’t look at it until I was done. So I was fine with it. But the ol’ Garmin will continue getting neglected for most of 2013 I’m sure! No sense in setting myself up for disappointment when there’s already plenty of that going around!

Yay for running, and dancing and singing! I’m so glad you have had so many great victories. You need to celebrate the little drops of awesome, it’s a kind of corny concept, but a great reminder that even the little things add up. If you have a chance, check out this post, mostly geared toward moms and parents, but I think it applies here too. The end part is mostly religious, so skip that part if you want. http://www.daringyoungmom.com/2012/12/19/drops-of-awesome/

I hope that’s not overstepping.

Carrie M says: July 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm

HOOOOOOORAYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

Wahoo! I am so happy there is a second happy post in a row. Makes me SO grateful/glad.

I think it’s time we hit up a gentle 1.57 loop together! Are you around this weekend? Saturday morning?

Oh sweet, beautiful Grace Pan. It’s going to be a while before I agree to run dates with friends. Because right now it’s still a struggle and mental game to get out there, so it’s tough to plan a time of day I can commit to. Also, until I can keep it under an 11-minute-mile, I’m solo sweating ;)

Glad to see you smiling. So happy for you, can’t wait to hear more!

That is awesome Ali, that you’re taking pride in the small victories. They are definitely something to be proud of. Keep it up and soon you’ll be taking pride in even bigger things!

Keep it up! Stay positive, stay motivated! THe little victories all add up to big ones.

Welcome to my time bracket!!! (Or umm faster than my time bracket according to my pathetic time on the east river path last weekend…) want to feel good about your athletic abilities?- run with me! (Plus, I have no excuse – so you double win)

Glad you’re having some little wins- hope some big ones are just around the corner.

Also, PBS aired a behind the scenes hour show about choreographing “it’s a hard knock life” and the opening of Annie- if you need some more TV entertainment, I recommend it.

Yay! Love posts from you that have all the happy information!

Yessssss! You are going to kick this diseases ass!
Love that you are seeing some progress, and getting your life back.

Woohooo! 1.57 miles at a time is great! I’m so glad to hear more good news for you!

Corrinne says: July 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I am so happy to see this post! Little victories are still victories. And how do you do 300 crunches? You are crazy. I tried to do 100 this morning and thought I was going to die.

Haha I was thinking that SAME thing about the crunches. That’d be a massive victory in my book. :)

So happy for more good news!

yay for wedding dancing, car karaoke and 1.57 miles! although an injury is quite a bit different from your chronsing, i remember the first triumphant run after breaking my foot two years ago, and it was the best feeling in the world. I’m glad you got to experience that x932080238402 :)

Wooooohoo! A run – no matter how short/long/hard/easy/horrible/sweatastic – is still a run, and still a victory. Even if you’re doing 15 minute miles, heck – least you’re out there.

WHAT is that nail polish? Because I really need it!

I am so happy you were able to run!

Glad you ran! Glad you got to read to Tyler. Love reading about the positive things and go ahead and share the crap so we can sympathize.

YOU’RE STILL A RUNNER! what’s with this “former” crap?? if anyone you know got injured you’d never downgrade them to “former”, so you aren’t either! just cuz it’s an injury your pt can’t heal doesn’t make it un-running related, or not count. you’re an injured runner. bam! *drops mic*

Joy! Your smile is a little light in the corner of internet! (That’d be a great Hallmark card. I think. Maybe I should stick with my day job.)

I’m so glad you’ve been having more victories recently! Not to be a creepy weird internet stranger, but I really feel like I know you — and my heart’s broken for you in the past few months. I hope your good (or at least not terrible) days start to outnumber the bad!

Melissa says: July 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Hi Ali! It was great to meet you in person and I completely think you should count tonight as another little victory! Hope dinner planning and laundry weren’t too stress full. Hope to start seeing you at 5:30am ;-) in the near future or even another evening!

I’m so glad that you are feeling better Ali. I have been looking forward to this post for a long time. I hope you continue to improve and feel better even if its just feeling better mentally. Sometimes that is more important then feeling better physically. Here is the Negative Nancy part. Since you have a compromised immune system and the Humira you take further compromises your immune system you may want to be careful about those pedicures. Nail salons are common places to contract infections particularly Hep B & C due to improperly cleaned instruments that may have punctured another clients skin. If you do continue with the pedicures make sure it is at a salon you trust and watch them sterilize their equipment. I wish you all te best, my thoughts are with you.

Congrats on your “little” victories!
I told many people today about a poopmergency free walk I had this weekend… You can tell the people that really care, are the ones that think that’s the best news ever.

Yay for your victories!!!! Love your sparkly dress and sparkly nails. :)

Double thumbs up!

Baby steps! I love your small victories! I have IBS. I can’t even imagine having Crohn’s. I give you tons of credit for the things that you do. You inspire me.

Hey Ali, so happy for you! Been waiting for this post for a while..I’ve never actually commented on your blog, but felt like today really deserved a big high five from sunny Scotland!!! I’ve not been able to run for nine months now cos of my wonderful Crohn’s, but reading this post today, the fact that you have made it round the reservoir TWO DAYS IN A ROW after the past few months is keeping me going – I know I’ll be able to run again soon :) You’re getting there…keep it up!

********* Y A Y !!!!! *************

Hey Ali
I have been meaning to comment forever! I too have been having a few months of bad chrohns ing. I started humira again and have added imuran. So far there has not been too much change. Mainly i am just sick of being so tired. Crohns sucks. I was in the midst of marathon training and had to stop (yep actually ended up pooping my pants on a few runs. Yuck! TMI?) anyways, I have been biking lately and doing trx and only running 2 miles one or two times a week. I wa going to ask you if cycling was an option for you. I love the high running gives me but right now it is too much energy and my stomach doesn’t like it. The biking has allowed me to get some fresh air as well as elevate my heart rate and get some feel good stuff going on. I really hope that you are a turn for the better soon. Just know you are not alone. Most people don’t understand how complicated crohns symptoms can be – but you will get through this. Keep pressing your doctors to get you the treatment that will actually work for you.

Oh I am so happy you actually got a photo of Brian and I dancing together. I completely forgot we did that. MEMORIES.

I’m psyched you went running! That’s fantastic. Now come play with me downtown at my new apt. Okay thanks, bye.

Yay, Ali! I love this post — even if these victories feel like baby steps. I smiled the whole time reading and think you’re entitled to as many sweaty selfies as you’d like.

YAY!!!!

You LOOK healthier. Must be the albumin/iron combo/pink lighting combo for sure. I just posted a sweaty selfie yesterday. Don’t hate! I actually laughed because it was only a 17 minute run. I’m coming back from a groin injury and the sweat was more because it was 95% humidity and less because of the hard effort. LOL. Thank you as always for keepin it real. As much as i am sad when you write depressing hopeless posts It just makes reading about your small victories that much more awesome to read about. I truly hope that you won’t have to put your life in danger anymore with sketchy late night potty stops.
And having a niece that i love to pieces i got a happy teary-eyed seeing that you felt well enough to play with your tyler!

Congrats on the improvements and the runs on Thursday and Friday! I think it reminds us not to take things for granted!

YES! Little victories all add up to one big eventual victory. Flipping delighted for you!

This makes me so happy! You are such a fighter! I loved your list of victories and hope you get to keep adding to it.

I am so happy that you ran again! And little things make all the difference :) You need little things to make something bigger, too :)

Reading this made my day. It’s official: you are the 1990s teenage favorite ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul.’ So glad to see you’re on the mend.

These big little victories are huge. HUGE. Dancing, joking, singing (and making up your own lyrics, which are far superior to the actual lyrics, of course), running, and get a little of your swagger back. I imagine your swagger is you in tap shoes with a glittery something. These are really good things, and I’m happy to read ithem.
By the way, even though you may not visibly see them (redundant much), your abs are rock solid on the inside. Maybe not the way inside because the whole Chrons thing, but you know what I mean. Or at least I hope so, or else this is just awkward. Great big little victories.

Prudence says: July 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm

May your Victories continue! So Happy for you! Love ya! :)

I love your blog! I think about you often…..congrats on feeling better & on some great runs :) You’re a true inspiration – always sharing your ups & downs, honestly. As the previous person said, “may your victories continue”, absolutely agree!
On a side note, I’m from Waltham! I would have loved to meet you. Your nephew is adorable – I have two little ones…..they’re the light of my life.