Speaking of "magical"...

Work In Progress

Date: August 18, 2013 at 2:39 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 44

Hi!

I’m happy to report that these days I’m operating at something like an 87% “normal health” rate.

I wake up in the morning and my stomach says, “I’m going to make this rough on you.”

Wake up in the mornin' feeling like P. Diddy. Got my sunrise and I'm chillin' and I don't knooooow the lyrics.

Wake up in the mornin’ feeling like P. Diddy. Got my sunrise and I’m chillin’ and I don’t knooooow the lyrics.

But eventually, usually after two hours or so, that mostly passes and I can function pretty normally during the day, save for a few emergency runs to the bathroom usually around meal time, meeting times or anything else that causes the slightest bit of anxiety for me.

So naturally, my reappearance at the office, at social functions and here on the internet has prompted inquiring minds to ask, “What’s working? Do you think the Humira is finally kicking in?”

It’s a fair question, and it’s one I don’t seem to have the answer to. My answer usually goes something like this:

“I don’t know, honestly! I’m still doing the Humira injections every week, but I think it could be the combination of the Humira and the 6 MP, since we upped my dose of the 6 MP and the doctors said it would take around three months to kick in anyway. So it could be that. I’m also on a steroid, Budesonide, which supposedly targets the colon, so it could also be that. And I just wrapped up my time on Xifaxan, which was supposed to help with the bloating and the fact that anytime I ate my stomach became so distended that I looked like a pregnant lady about to pop. So I don’t know…it could be any of those things. Oh, and I’m trying to be less stressed. I don’t make lists anymore. That probably helps, too.”

Translation: “I have no F-ing clue. But I’m pretty psyched about it.”

My definition of "psyched." Dairy Queen, you are the truest love of my life.

My definition of “psyched.” Dairy Queen, you are the truest love of my life.

There’s a lot of trial and error happening right now, and I’m certainly making my fair share of errors along the way.

Like with the peanuts.

The dang, stupid peanuts.

I keep eating them and I keep getting really sick soon after.

But then I keep eating them, thinking “maybe it wasn’t the peanuts.”

Turns out, it is the peanuts. It has to be the peanuts.

So I need to stop eating peanuts. That’s an easily avoidable error. I don’t even like peanuts that much, except when they’re tucked neatly inside some chocolate and a hard-shelled casing. M&Ms, they’re called. I like peanut M&Ms.

Also that chopped salad I had for lunch the other day.

I’m trying to figure the food stuff out, which is an annoying process.

Nevermind: Got it ALL figured out!

Nevermind: Got it ALL figured out!

I’m happily working my way through the things that are helping, too, though. So it’s not all bad and frustrating.

Some other things that are working for me…

Family time. As much of it as possible.

Cousin Jennifer (she ran the New York City Marathon in 2010!), Aunt Donna (whose house is for sale, FYI...want it?), Honey, mom and meeeeee!

Cousin Jennifer (she ran the New York City Marathon in 2010!), Aunt Donna (whose house is for sale, FYI…want it?), Honey, mom and meeeeee!

I’m talking parents, brother, sister-in-law, BFF Tyler, aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole tree. I was able to escape the city a few weeks ago to spend some time in Ocean City, NJ, where my aunt lives in a gorgeous home with tons of windows overlooking the bay.

Waking up to these views? Sucks.

Waking up to these views? Sucks.

It’s one of the most relaxing places I can imagine and I love going there when I really need to chill out.

Mission accomplished.

That's me, in a flip flop, being chilled out.

That’s me, in a flip flop, being chilled out.

Friend time. Whether it’s in real life or on GChat, I’m always realizing how important it is to surround myself with only the very best, most understanding, least stressful people. I’m lucky to have just enough wonderful friends to make me feel fulfilled.

Just a normal day...at the amusement park in Central Park with my dear buddy Kristan. THAT'S WHAT ADULTS DO, OK???

Just a normal day…at the amusement park in Central Park with my dear buddy Kristan. THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO, OK???

I haven't showed you Tyler in a while, so here begins a series of photos. This is Tyler at meal time, which is my favorite time to chat with him because he's locked in and cannot escape. He HAS to sit and give me his full attention. Meal time also prompted Tyler to say his first word!!! He can say "turkey," which makes me impossibly proud because not only was his first word multiple syllables, but it's also a food word.

I haven’t showed you Tyler in a while, so here begins a series of photos. This is Tyler at meal time, which is my favorite time to chat with him because he’s locked in and cannot escape. He HAS to sit and give me his full attention. Meal time also prompted Tyler to say his first word!!! He can say “turkey,” which makes me impossibly proud because not only was his first word multiple syllables, but it’s also a food word.

ISN'T HE HUGE?

ISN’T HE HUGE? Like huge compared to when you last saw him. Not huge in general. He’s average baby size, though I do think his head is a bit big for his body.

Taking a call while he's lifting weights. A multi-tasker just like his auntie!

Taking a call while he’s lifting weights. A multi-tasker just like his auntie!

Selena Gomez. She makes me smile every single time I walk through the door.

Safety first, homegirl.

Safety first, homegirl. Home…BOY. Selena Gomez is a BOY.

Riding my bike. I’ve gone on a few great rides recently and I’m glad I overcame my fear of hopping back on my Lexa after I crashed it last December. Riding is easy on the stomach, gentle on the joints and it’s fun!

Not as adorable as my lime green Adrenalines, but whatever. I'll take them for now.

Not as adorable as my lime green Adrenalines, but whatever. I’ll take them for now.

Being near the water. Oceans, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, puddles…any body of water I can find seems to bring a sense of calm to my world.

Central Park Water.

Central Park Water.

Pool water. This is not my house. You should always have at least one friend who has a house like this though.

Pool water. This is not my house. You should always have at least one friend who has a house like this though.

River Water.

River Water.

The new couch. Thank god.

This was not the happy life I was supposed to be living...

This was not the happy life I was supposed to be living…

Not recording my workouts. As I work my way back into a regular exercise regime, it’s so nice just doing whatever I want. I’m not on a marathon training plan, I’m not trying to hit pace or mileage goals and I’m not writing anything down.

I used to keep an obsessive log listing every workout I did. Having a huge notebook filled with daily mileage totals made it hard for me to take a day off because I liked seeing every single day listed in the notebook. I even had a spreadsheet that I printed every two weeks where I’d tally up my daily number of crunches, butt lifts, planks and push-ups (the push-up column was usually left empty…). At the time, I didn’t see a problem with this. Now I can recognize about a billion problems with that little system. And I’m so much happier without it, even if I can’t even come close to holding a five-minute plank these days.

In conclusion to this section: It appears as though I’m happier and healthier when I’m able to avoid stress and obsess less over life’s silly details.

Good to know.

The meds are probably helping, too.

So what’s not working?

Peanuts.

Chopped salads.

Running. I had a few amazing, magical, life-changing runs when I finally got back at it and then boom, everything started to hurt. Namely my right Achilles tendon.

I was out for a run one day in New Jersey, going over the new bridge from Somers Point to Ocean City. Running over the bridge was amazing. It has these seemingly-monstrous hills that are short but challenging, and the views are to-die-for. But a few miles into the run, I developed this weird pain in my lower calf. I stopped to stretch it out, thinking it was just a little ache, but when I tried to start running again the pain got worse.

Brian rode by on his bike and snapped this gem. Had I brushed my hair in three days? Absolutely not.

Brian rode by on his bike and snapped this gem. Had I brushed my hair in three days? Absolutely not. Also that heel strike…YIKES! That’s bad, right?

I cut the run short, sort of limped back to the house, jumped in the pool and haven’t run since.

I ran 13.1 miles and got myself straight into the pool afterward. A few days later, BOOM, Achilles pain. No surprise there, really.

I ran 13.1 miles and got myself straight into the pool afterward. A few days later, BOOM, Achilles pain. No surprise there, really.

I’d rather not aggravate this into a full-blown injury, and since I’m not putting pressure on myself to run any races this year, I’m just staying off it, stretching my calves, foam rolling, icing and hoping eventually I’ll be back up and running again…maybe with a more gradual mileage increase this time.

Going to work. I’m still technically on medical leave, but I’m going in whenever I’m able. And the transition has been really difficult for me. I’m worried I rushed back to the office too soon, before I was mentally ready, but I had to. There was work to be done.

So now I’m in at least a few days a week (three on average) and it’s tough. I’m trying to readjust to the working girl lifestyle, and I’m trying to get my team back to where we were before I got sick.

Work is stressful. That’s a given. I tend not to sleep well the nights before I go in, and once I’m there things are crazy and I’m trying to get caught up and that stress immediately triggers my stomach into overdrive-mode.

To conclude this section: Anything that is even remotely anxiety-inducing is bad. Also peanuts and chopped up roughage covered in dressing.

I’m hoping that as I move forward, I will keep doing just that: moving forward. And hopefully, eventually, I’ll be able to move forward in running shoes, at a sub-9-minute-mile pace, perhaps even across a finish line. I hope there will be fewer errors throughout my trials.

Went to a wedding in Rhode Island this weekend and tried to fit in by having as much Del's Lemonade as possible.

Went to a wedding in Rhode Island this weekend and tried to fit in by having as much Del’s Lemonade as possible.

Even on the great days, I tend to tell myself that it’s OK to make mistakes, to have an off day or to completely lose my head. I’ve accepted that 2013 just won’t be my year — but that 2014 really is right around the corner.

And maybe the fall has something magical in store for me.

Speaking of "magical"...

Speaking of “magical”…

Maybe 2013 won’t be a total wash.

We’ll see.

It’s a work in progress.

But I think it’s working.

Posted in Crohn's disease and tagged -

44 Responses to "Work In Progress"

It’s so nice to see you in so many happy pictures! You definitely seem to have gotten your color back :) Congrats on all that is going right for you, and good luck finding ways around the not so good stuff! Glad you’re back on your feet!

Lovely news! So glad to hear things are on the up! been suffering with a colitis flare up all summer and think I’m coming out the other side too.

Yay! So happy to hear you’re on the mend. Here’s to a strong finish to this crazy year! Take good care of yourself.

Reposting this because my last comment had parts of your post IN IT. Delete that one!

I’m really happy to hear you are doing so much better. I’ve been on Xifaxan, I actually think it weirdly cured a really strange symptom I had early on in my own GI illness – feeling ravenous ALL the time, even right after meals. It was so strange.

Having a relaxing place like that is SO good. When I go to Cape Cod I have that exact same relaxing feeling and I am a much happier person for a few days while I’m there.
Glad you’re bike riding, it really is fun! And I’m like you, I can’t eat salads… so I understand.
Also the workout spreadsheet. Wow. I think if you ever had to live with me you would have killed me for my laziness and unwillingness to do a single thing.

Lastly, I just dealt with a calf muscle injury in my soleus. My genius massage healer (want her info?) said to hang out in compression socks (but not to sleep in them).

Yay to hear all of this – 87% is a high B+ low A-, right? Very respectable and hopefully continuing on the way up! My friend Sandi and I ran in our matching I love sweat shirts this am and sent positive smiling waves your way…

Keep focusing on relaxing, especially over work. As tough as it can be at times to let go of it, it is not worth letting it affect your health. As someone who has literally had a few colleagues who died suddenly over the years, I’ve come to realize that the work will go on and it is up to me to decide how much of myself I am willing to put into it and at what cost to the rest of my life. Something I wish I had learned 20 years ago…

Biking is so much fun, glad you are back at it! Enjoy these last days of summer, it’s been sooo nice out there lately!!!

Cheers,
Kathy

Loving these positive posts, especially because they mean you seem to have turned a corner. Hoping that your health keeps getting better, running gets easier, life gets better, etc!

Also, as a native Rhode Islander (who now lives in MD), may I add that your Del’s/Aunt Carrie’s photo made me JEALOUS with a capital JEALOUS? Best stuff right there!

I ate my fair share of clam cakes for you ;) And I was at Dee’s wedding!! (She was your OL, right?) She had spiked Del’s lemonade during her cocktail hour. It was brilliant and delicious.

I know you don’t like unsolicited advice, but this is more of a question….do you think anti-anxiety meds might help??

Now if you are still reading..I am really happy you are feeling a lot better.

Haha I love that you know me so well ;) And it’s a perfectly legitimate question! I actually have a few friends with Crohn’s and IBS who are on low doses of anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. My doctor and I have discussed it, but it’s not something I want to do for now. I don’t want to be on a medication that I feel I’m dependent on, and I worry that will happen with an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. But I haven’t forgotten about the option being out there, so we’ll see.

I used to be on an IBS medicine that had a very low dosage of anti-anxiety medicine and it took forever to wean off of it and included terrible headaches. But it worked? But yes, I did feel incredibly dependent on it.

Dark chocolate mint m+Ms. No nuts and they are the best. With the dark chocolate they are even healthy.

Glad you are feeling better. I am hoping for good things for fall all around!

They make almond m&ms. They’re harder to find than peanut, but I’m sure they’re somewhere in the City just waiting for you to eat them.

This post makes me so happy! I’m glad things are turning up, and you know what? Peanut BUTTER M&Ms are way better than peanut, and no one really likes salad thaaat much anyways, let’s get real.

It makes me happy that things are starting to turn around for you, Ali. So good to hear. That pic of you in the dress is super cute. Trying to wear my summer dresses as much as possible this last month or so we have of sunshine in the nw anyway.

I’m so happy to hear that you’re feeling better and slowly getting back to normal! Yay for bike rides and vacations and DQ Blizzards!

Jenny in Oregon says: August 19, 2013 at 1:05 am

So good to hear happy! Been there. Xifaxan is awesome. Also I started humira with the 6mp already in my system. They seem to work well together and as I felt better over time the 6mp was d/ced. As for the food…crazy what we find out makes the system unhappy! Have fun swimming!

We own the same bike shoes. Clearly, we’re BFFs (says the crazy internet stalker girl <—- I'M NOT. I swear. I, too, believe that giraffes should protect the dura matter. Clearly that means I'm normal, right?)

Also, I have a generally well-behaved digestive system, but it happens to dislike peanut M&Ms, as well. Perhaps (in part) because I am absolutely physically unable to eat a reasonable portion (like, a handful), and instead end up eating a hand-in-the-bag-full.

But that's OK. Just get peanut butter cups or cookie dough in your Blizzard instead. It's all good.

[Essentially: Glad you're feeling better. Keep smiling.]

Yay! So glad to hear things are getting better! Now let’s plan a time to meet up this year, I miss you :( keep on getting better!!

So very glad you are feeling mostly better – love to see these happy little posts again!

So glad to hear you’re doing better! Bailey wants you to know he is available for belly rubs, which he hears are great for stress reduction in both humans and dogs.

there’s just something about fall that offers so much hope – glad to read a positive progress report, keep on keepin’ on!

Ease back into work slowly and don’t be too hard on yourself! I was on medical leave for 3 months from my job earlier this year and it took me over 2 months to get back into the groove at work. I worked part-time for a month and the following full-time was brutal. There is a definite mental adjustment, so definitely take it easy!

The last 2 lines of your blog post say it all…
It’s sort of the best way to describe life really!

I love that everyone has alternate suggestions to peanut m+m’s for ya!

I often think about other non-medical ways to reduce anxiety knowing how it exacerbates even the slightest minor physical ailment. For me it’s mostly the next twinge, or tendonitis flare but it definitely can make my digestive process unpleasant…..
Always thought that my running and my labradoodle would help me manage my anxiety…but lately i feel that maybe it’s not enough.
Maybe i’m not rubbing the pup’s belly enough. lol!

No surprise here…I was also just put on Budesonide! My doc refers to it as “Prednisone Lite” which I found amusing. Glad to hear that it (any other things) are working!!!!

So glad you’re feeling better!!! “Cautious optimism” sounds like a good label for your attitude.

Turkey is my doggeee!!!! yeah!

Wow. You really had a lot to say. I’m glad you’re feeling better – stay away from those peanuts! Yay for Tyler pics. He’s ahead of the game with “turkey” for Thanksgiving.
So, how do you know Selena Gomez is a male?

It’s so nice to see a post from you again, even if you aren’t 100% recovered. I’ll take 87%; it’s a good number; has a nice ring to it.
In spite of everything you’ve gone through and are still going through, your positivity trumps all. Good luck on letting go of anxiety triggers (it’s hard for type A’s to relinquish their lists) and finding ways to manage stress because let’s face it, stressful situations happen. I actually went to a psychologist who helped me learn how to handle workplace stress. It was hard, it still is, but it helped. P.S. I’m not implying you see a psychologist. I’m pretty sure you’ve had enough advice from random strangers on the internet. I’m just rooting for your full recovery.
By the way, SYTYCD is coming to my city and I’m stoked!

Just wanted to say, it makes me happy to see your smiling face again. (I’m not psycho, just someone who enjoys your blog).

So much happiness about and in this post!

Glad to read about happy Ali again. Happy for you, that is (although I as a reader of course benefit).

I think all bathroom free runs call for celebration. I cracked open a bottle of champagne after my first 10K (after the rehydration and the shower).

Hey NYC-ers,
I’m selling my brand new juicer on the cheap.
Email If you’re interested. Link here:
http://newyork.craigslist.org/que/app/4014144643.html

I’m glad you are feeling bettter! Cycling seems like a great way to ease into your fitness routine. Don’t do too much too soon!

So glad to see and hear you’re feeling better no matter what the cause! Tyler is freakin adorable and it makes me wish my boys were that age again..just for like 30 seconds. Amazing houses and so much water!!! Love it!

My Team Challenge coach pointed me to your blog, and now I have a better idea of why I’m walking this half marathon (new experience for me). I wish you the best !

So glad to hear you are getting a bit better. I fell out of blogging there for a bit, but kept stumbling back to your blog to see how you were doing and felt for you for a lot of the past months. Hopefully it continues!

I am glad things are starting to turn around for you. I have Crohn’s disease too, and I had a flare up last summer. They didn’t want to give me steroids, so I am still coming off the soreness almost a year later. It is such a tricky disease, but managing stress and eating well are so important.

I live in OCNJ! So weird seeing a pic of you running the bridge I run everyday :)

It’s totally weird to say this, cause I don’t really know you…but I was worried about you, being so sick for so long! Super happy to hear things are going better now.

I am just catching o
Up on blogs and was pleased to read this blog. I have followed u for years with your highs and lows. Hope things are still improving as noticed no new post. Take care xx

Glad you are starting to feel better and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t!

Love your blog!

Thank you so much for writing what’s in my head heart and the results of GI issues. I am on Humria and lialda but been on most all of the others. It’s nice to know there are others who refused to sit on their butts. I love to run. However each time I get close to longer farther I get sick.. So it’s a bit frustrating and yet reading your posts reviving!

I have a friend with Crohn’s and will definitely pass this info and this blog on to her. I find it interesting too in keeping me healthy and passing info on, thanks !