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I’m not great.
Part of me feels like — OK, knows — I should stop complaining. Other than my health, I have plenty of things for which I am very grateful. I have wonderful friends and the best family, I have a good job that affords me the luxury of working from home (or the bathroom) as needed, and I have a cute puppy who loves me unconditionally. Plus, aside from said puppy, I’m only taking care of myself here. I don’t have to worry about kids or dependents. (People who have children, WTF do you do when you get sick?)
But then there’s my health.
And as often as I try to force a smile and see a rainbow through the clouds, I’m just not feeling all that right now.
This weekend was pretty tough — physically, sure, but more so mentally, which is where this disease can really sneak in and beat you down. (More on that here.) This weekend, according to my pre-made plans, was going to be awesome. On Saturday, Ellie and I were going to run her very first race together. Then, we were going to head to Rhode Island, where I’d run the Newport Half Marathon on Sunday with tons of friends. It was going to be great. One for the books!
Instead, I spent the weekend on the couch at home. I came home from work Friday night (I have a new client which means working in an office a few times per week!), changed into pajamas, and didn’t change out of them until Sunday.
I actually set my alarm for Race Time on Saturday. You know, just in case. Just in case I woke up and thought that, miraculously, I could get through three miles of running. So I got up, spent a few hours going back and forth to the bathroom, and finally accepted my reality. I wasn’t going to racing. Sorry, Ellie. (I felt terribly guilty, even though she obviously had no idea that she was supposed to run a race that morning.)
Then I thought maybe I could go to a yoga class.
Well, I couldn’t get myself together in time for the 9:15 class.
Then the 11:00 class came and went, too, and I was still stuck in pain and in the bathroom.
I told myself to stay offline, since I knew perusing my social feeds and seeing everyone out running and racing and pumpkin picking would make me sad. But of course, when you can’t leave the house and TV doesn’t offer much entertainment and you can’t even walk your puppy around the block, you eventually turn to Instagram. And Snapchat. And Twitter. And Facebook. I’m on Level 723 of Two Dots, which is equal parts impressive and depressing.
So Saturday was tough. I cried. A lot. I felt sorry for myself. A lot. I cursed all the healthy people out running — the people who have missed runs because they were hungover or tired or didn’t feel like it, but never because their body physically wouldn’t let them run. The lucky, happy, healthy people who don’t realize how lucky, happy, and healthy they are… (I know, I know. I sound like an asshole.)
I may have told myself I’d stay positive Saturday morning, but by Saturday afternoon, those feelings and ambitions were long gone. Brian took Ellie for walks and out to play while I sat on the couch and moped, or sat in the bathroom and, well, played more Two Dots. Brian tried to get me to join them, because “getting outside might make you feel better.” But I didn’t even want to try. I’ve tried and failed enough in the past few weeks that trying isn’t really fun anymore. It’s just an anxiety-filled disaster waiting to happen.
Finally, around 8:30 PM, I decided to take an Ambien and put the day behind me. I was over it.
That was Saturday, though.
On Sunday, I was signed up for a SoulCycle class and damnit, I was going to go to that class. (Mostly because if you don’t cancel before 5 PM the previous day, you lose your $35 class.) So I woke up extra extra early and, unsurprisingly, I felt horrible.
I left the apartment twice to go to the ferry, and had to run back to the apartment both times to use the bathroom just one more time. Finally, though, I made it to the ferry (where I had to use the bathroom again, and made it out just before they stopped letting people board the boat). And then I made it to Manhattan. And then, even though normally I’d walk from the boat to the studio, I took a cab (also because it was raining) and I made it to SoulCycle.
And I survived the 60-minute spin class. I’m such a hero, I know.
I felt terrible during class. It’s amazing how quickly you lose fitness, and how quickly your muscles fatigue when you stop using them. I barely put resistance on my bike, and I struggled to lift the 3-lb. weights. (Wasn’t I just flying around the track and running 16 miles in Vermont? How the mighty-ish have fallen…)
When I walked out of class, a friend asked me how marathon training was going, and I just smiled and said “good,” lest I launch into my little sob story. He didn’t need to know all the not-good details. And when I picked up my phone and saw all the Chicago Marathon tracking alerts, I had the good sense to put my phone away, at least for a little while.
I’d love to say I spent the rest of Sunday feeling inspired and empowered and going to Whole Foods. But I didn’t. I came home, took a shower, and retreated back to the couch and my pajamas. I was sad and lonely — anyone will tell you that Crohn’s can be incredibly isolating — but I also didn’t want to see or talk to people. (Aren’t I a peach?!)
I’d also love to say I’m feeling positive today, since it’s a new week, and that I’m absolutely certain I can fight this flare and still run the New York City Marathon in a few weeks.
But that’s the thing: The marathon is in a few weeks now.
My last long run was a long time ago. It’s been weeks since I’ve run a mile, and even longer since I ran a mile without making a bathroom stop. The pain and discomfort are constant, and I don’t even look at my training plan anymore. I used to try to run and sometimes I’d fail, but now I’m not even up for trying.
And, because of insurance issues (ugh), I’m not seeing my doctor until October 19. That feels like a lifetime away right now, and even once I see him, there’s no plan in place yet. So we have to figure out next steps. I know he’ll do whatever he can to help me get back on my feet, whether it’s in time for the race or not, but I also know how this goes sometimes. I know that sometimes it takes a while. I’ve come back from flares overnight before — seriously — but I’ve also spent years at a time in this icky little place. TBD. So much TBD.
I know to take one day at a time. I know it helps to maintain a positive attitude. I know sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. I know I’m lucky not to have all the side effects and symptoms right now, like the fevers and the night sweats. I know that, expensive as this disease is, I had the good sense to saving money starting at a young age (thanks for the pro tip, Dad!) for times just like these.
I know all that. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
An upside to wrap this all up? There are little victories sprinkled throughout my days, and for those, I am very grateful. Last night — after writing most of this post — I managed to pick Ellie up from school and walk her home without any emergency stops. We even stopped and played with her friend Peanut in the dog park for a while. The temperature was perfect, the sunset was gorgeous, and the air felt crisp. (I realize it’s been fall for a little while now, but I barely get outside, so this was news to me.) I made sure to breathe really deeply, and in those fleeting moments, I felt happy and grateful.
And all the while, my pants were unbuttoned to avoid putting pressure on my stomach.
So that’s where I’m at.
HOW ARE YOU?
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