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Last Friday morning, I was taking my usual obnoxious expensive cab to work, and the driver asked me the most annoying question a cab driver can ask, which is, “Which way do you want to go?” (I always think they’re testing me — like, “Is she a local? Or can I get away with going the long way to tack on a few bucks to the fare?” — and I don’t like being the one to make that call. I want the cab driver to know the fastest route anywhere, and to be able to tell me where there will be traffic at any given time of day.)
As always, though, my response was a very well-rehearsed, “Down Lex, cross at 79th, down Park to 72nd and then cut over and through the Park.” I mean, duh bro.
As we rounded the southwest corner of Central Park — right where the New York City Marathoners re-enter the park to cruise to the finish line — I saw my favorite guy.
New York City morning runners, you know this guy. He walk-runs every morning, no matter the weather, and in the cooler months he wears black running tights and usually a neon-green jacket. Sometimes the jacket is red or blue, but I think he favors the neon one. He’s an older gentleman with a jerky stride; a limp, sort of, that seems like it might be the result of an injury or a stroke (man do I sound like a clueless, ignorant, assumption-making asshole here…which is most certainly not my intention).
So I saw my guy.
And then I cried.
I’ve always wanted to stop and talk to that guy. I’m dying to know his story, and I think he’s remarkable. Every single day, he’s out in that park. Every day.
So that’s about where my emotional stability has been hovering. My optimism has dwindled at a rapid rate and my general frustration was turning into sheer anger and blind rage. I was less “I’m going to get better and I’m staying positive in the meantime,” and more, “Life’s not fair and I hate all the healthy people.” Seems healthy.
The week building up to Friday was a bit of a shit-storm (no puns; just no). On Monday night, I felt OK, and almost slept through the night — no night sweats, no emergency bathroom dashes. It was unbelievably encouraging. Then, on Tuesday, I had a long photo shoot day for work in Brooklyn and was totally beat by the time I got home that night.
Between 11 PM and 5 AM, I got up more than 10 times (and then I sort of lost count) to use the bathroom. Like…violently. And the night sweats returned. So that was disappointing.
I survived my Friday, riding the emotional roller coaster I can’t seem to get off of, and faced the weekend.
You may think I’d love the weekends when I’m sick because I don’t have to worry about getting to work, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I loathe the weekends, because everyone is out doing the funnest things, and I’m inside, on the couch, in the bathroom, feeling like I’m in a fishbowl I can’t escape. (Fishbowls, roller coasters…we’re all over the metaphors today. What a fun game!)
I adopted a new mentality this weekend, though, because I felt I had reached a very scary breaking point. Brian witnessed it. You should feel lucky you didn’t.
I had to change my mindset. I had to find a way to be OK with losing control of my own life; of not being able to plan things or do the things I want to do every day.
My new plan was to force myself out of the apartment. The worst that will ever happen, I told myself, is that I shit myself in public. I mean, that’s the worst case scenario, right? It’s gross and it’s darn unfortunate if it happens, but that’s the worst thing I will face. I am not going to die. Of embarrassment, perhaps, but not of actual, like, death-causing things.
So I woke up mad early (mad early? who just wrote that?) on Saturday. I was going to make my triumphant return to Bethany’s 90-minute yoga class!
And guess what happened?
Certainly nothing death-causing.
I went to class, I had an amazing time, and I never had to leave the room to do Crohn’s.
As you may recall, Saturday was a gorgeous day, so I went for a walk in Central Park, and after the initial feelings of “I’m in the park but I’m not running or cycling” wore off, I had a lovely time sitting on a bench (not Bernie’s — crazy dude was parked in the shade and I was needing some sweet Vitamin D) next to a man with a cane, two ladies with walkers and one dude on a scooter. I sat on that bench with my new comrades for more than an hour just watching people and being happy to have at least left the apartment.
The little victories!
I set a slightly loftier goal for myself for Sunday: to make my hopefully-triumphant return to my very beloved Sunday spin class, also with Bethany.
Guess what I didn’t have to do during the class?
Leave the room to spend time with Crohn’s.
My legs were pathetically weak, the bike’s resistance knob saw very little action and I used the 2-lb. weights instead of my usual 3-pounders, but I was there, and I was sweaty and I was happy.
And then I was very tired. Whoa, cardio!
By Monday, I was feeling good about my weekend improvements, though I didn’t want to get too excited. I’ve trained myself not to do that at this point.
On the way to work Monday morning, I was again cutting through the park in my big yellow taxi, and I saw my guy again. This time, he was running directly over the spot where the New York City Marathon finish line sits every November. And, get this: I had my music on shuffle and the song that had just come on was one of the two songs I listened to — also on shuffle — during the marathon this year. Symbolism. Meaning TBD.
Yesterday, I went back to the doctor for my second round of the study drug (or placebo) infusion. It went fine this time: an hour of being prepped (so many pregnancy tests), an hour getting the infusion…
…and then two post-infusion hours being “monitored” while I play on my computer and try to eavesdrop on other peoples’ appointments. No, J/K, I don’t do that. Because HIPAA.
Now if you recall, I put a lot of pressure on that first appointment. “It’ll cure me!” I said. “This is the start of my new life!” I said. And then it didn’t, and it wasn’t.
So for this appointment, I went in all cool-like and nonchalant-y. Ain’t no thang. Ain’t got no tracksuit (I would’ve loved to wear it again, Mom, really and truly, but I’m afraid they think I only own one pair of sweatpants and the truth is that I own so many more than that, and some of them are animal-printed).
I woke up this morning feeling sore. Not scary sore, but my hips were tight and felt like they’d been worked.
Because they had.
Because I went for a run last night!!!
And not like, a 21-minute, three-bathroom-stop kind of run-walk thing. A real, genuine, jumping in mud puddles and generating some serious inner-elbow-crease sweat type of run. And my first “real run” since November 28.
My appointment was done by 6:30 PM, and it was light out when I left the office and also it was like 64 degrees.
So I did not think. I did not contemplate my “what should I do now?” options. I did not ponder my possibly-delicious dinner choices.
I hauled ass back to my apartment, I put on sneakers, shorts and a long-sleeved dry-fit thing, and I got out the door.
I walked to Central Park.
And when I got there, it was happy-packed with people.
I crossed East Drive at Engineers’ Gate (duh), set foot on the Bridle Path I’d abandoned for so long, and I started to run.
I ran the full loop of the Bridle Path — 1.66 miles — without having to make a bathroom stop or take a walk break.
I couldn’t get enough. So I kept going, this time up around the Reservoir.
I stopped to use the bathrooms at the tennis courts, but it wasn’t an emergency. I just stopped because they were there and it’s a habit that’s hard to break.
But then I left the bathroom and finished the loop: 1.57 miles.
I didn’t feel as awkward as I expected, but I certainly didn’t feel “fit.” My stomach was leading the way while my bum was taking the scenic route through jiggle city. Comebacks are fun! (No, really, they are. Minus the jiggling.)
I wasn’t ready to be done, so I run-skipped south on East Drive to my “happy place” near the Met, and then turned around to head back to Engineers’, and then, of course, I sat to tell Bernie all about my big victory.
From there, I ran back home and then I smiled forever.
Yesterday was a good day.
All this to say: I think I might be getting better.
But no pressure.