well in my case I use them to go a little blonder! 😉 All jokes aside you guys, life is not always sunshine and butterflies. Sometimes we struggle. When I set out to start this blog I wanted to accomplish two things: 1. I wanted to be a positive voice and maybe offer some advice for people who are, like me, trying to figure out the best ways to get and stay healthy and 2. I wanted to be real. That is, while I wanted my story to be one of motivation and positivity, I never wanted to sugar coat my struggles or be inauthentic about the ups and downs that I experience. This past week for me has been challenging, as will the next several most likely, and initially I was not going to write about why because I try very hard to make this a positive space and well not be a whiny little biatch. But after I got to thinking about it, I came to the conclusion I would be doing you all a disservice if I never talked about the setbacks I face when it comes to my health because well it’s just not real life to never struggle.
Now that being said, I am very grateful for everything I have in my life, my health in particular, and the situations, such as the one I am about to talk about, that aren’t the greatest still teach me valuable lessons and I am grateful in a way for them as well. Which brings me to the topic of this post…part of my story that I haven’t talked about here yet is that I have Ulcerative Colitis. Now I am extremely fortunate in that my case of U.C. is pretty mild compared to how severely others out there suffer from this disease. In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with U.C. it is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and ulcers to form in your lower intestines. It’s in the same family as Crohns Disease but while Crohns can affect both your large and small intestine, U.C. only targets the lower portion.
U.C. manifests itself differently in everyone and can range from being a mild annoyance to a really serious health condition sometimes requiring surgery to remove large portions of the affected area along with lengthy hospital stays. Luckily for me, I fall on the much less severe end of the spectrum in that while it is always unpleasant when
I have a flare up, I have never landed in the hospital because of it and hopefully will never be a candidate for surgery either. Always a silver lining you guys…
I will save you the explanation of my symptoms because they are again unpleasant at best, (if you are curious to learn more this is a great website that explains Crohns and Colitiis: https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com/) but the worst of it is stomach pain and the inability to keep food in my system for very long (again I will let you use your imagination as to why that is). For whatever reason, my disease comes out of remission every two years like clockwork….really I can almost write a calendar by when my next flare up will be. Now I was hoping that with the lifestyle and diet changes I have made over the past year I was maybe going to be able to avoid a flare up this year, but alas I wasn’t so lucky. A couple weeks ago, I started getting some symptoms and then sure enough last week it full on announced that it was back and wasn’t going to be ignored.
To back up just a little, I was diagnosed with this about ten years ago after suffering some really perplexing and again unpleasant symptoms that came on suddenly right before I turned 30. After about a month of progressively getting worse to the point I was barely getting out of bed each day and forcing myself to drink Ensure just to get some nutrition, I finally found a wonderful gastro who subjected me to two colonoscopies and one endoscopy before finally figuring out that was going on. Now getting the diagnosis and figuring out what was going to work to tame this beast were two different things. Like a lot of other diseases out there, there are several different treatment options available to someone who suffers from U.C. It took me a few more months to figure out the right course of treatment that worked for my body and while the symptoms are treatable the disease itself unfortunately isn’t curable. It is a lifelong condition for which the goal of treatment is to send it into remission and keep there as long as possible.
I wanted to write about this, not to whine, or complain but because it got me thinking this morning about how many people out there suffer from any number of diseases or ailments and you would never know for lack of any outside manifestation of symptoms. For me, I tend to lose some weight, again because well food goes into my body and comes right back out, I am tired ALL the time and the medicine itself causes me to have non-stop headaches and just generally feel like I have the flu for weeks on end. Fun right? I usually, however, can make it through the day with just enough energy to spare but then I go home and spend my evenings and weekends on the couch until the medicine kicks in about 4-6 weeks into treatment. But if you only knew me casually or passed me on the street you really would have no idea anything was wrong…other than I have some gnarly bags under my eyes at this point!
So here is a BIG shoutout to people who suffer in silence. Whether it be from an autoimmune disease, a mental health condition, chronic pain or anything that may be going on inside your body that you are battling but can’t be seen by the outside world. Being on this journey the past year has reinforced to me how precious good health really is and how it shouldn’t be taken for granted. I am very fortunate that my condition is pretty mild compared to what it could be, and the small amount of pain and discomfort I do experience is nothing in comparison to what some people face. Sometimes people smile through their pain you all. A kind word, helping hand or even just a smile from you just might make a huge difference in their day. You really never know what’s going on under the surface so treat everyone with as much kindness, patience and understanding as you possibly can and never take waking up and feeling good for granted!