Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Blogging, Living with Pain, Writing

Socks, Marathons and Dis-ease

Spring finally arrived in Wyoming and I’ve managed to get out and walk nearly every day lately. My friend Trudy and I are getting ready once again for the half-marathon coming up June 1st. As we walk, I’ve noticed my feet a lot more than I used to. I’m not sure if there is something new with them…I can’t imagine that my feet have morphed in to something different than they’ve been the past several decades (minus the size change of course). My heels hurt all the time right now, which unfortunately can be signs of my Ankylosing Spondylitis rearing its ugly head. I’ve had this issue before, so I recognize it. 

Heel pain as a result of a disease that affect the spine just seems weird to me. I’d rather think my feet are hurting because I’ve managed to pack on some pounds over this very long winter and my feet are telling me to keep moving and burn it off! But with the tell-tale morning pain and stiffness in my lower spine, and now some hip pain as well…I guess it’s time to consider going to the doctor. Considering….that’s all for now.

What does any of this have to do with socks I’m sure you are wondering…well, I decided part of my challenge when doing our 2+ mile walks is my socks don’t fit right and my feet sweat (gross!)…these are things that can lead to blisters as well as my inability to get through my half-marathon without a great deal of unnecessary pain. 

On a whim, I decided to Google “running socks” and was rewarded with nearly 31,000,000 results in .28 seconds. “Googling” totally beats the old days of going in to my dining room, plopping on the floor in front of the bookcase filled with the entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica (raise your hand if you grew up with those!) sliding a heavy book out and flipping the thin, crinkly pages looking for an answer. Actually, I do miss those books. I loved sitting on the floor just flipping through random pages, finding out about amazing things I never heard of. Anyway, I digress. Being a relative newbie to the world of people that exercise, I never expected the topic of “Running Socks” to be so popular! Of course many of the listings are for websites that sell socks. Imagine – entire stores and websites devoted ONLY to socks! How is a gal going to find what she needs when a cornucopia of sock options are presented to her???

Thankfully toward the top of the list was a reference to the website for the magazine Runner’s World which contained a story – cue the dramatic entry music….da da dummmmm…. Choose the Right Running Socks – Brilliant!!! A helpful article with socks for different types of running, how they work and why. I never knew socks could be so complicated! 

I visited the sites that had the socks that seemed to meet my requirements (fit my size 10s comfortably without slipping and wick away sweat for 13 mile walks/runs). I don’t think my needs are that complicated, but it still took me two a days of visiting websites, analysis and a final decision this morning. For the girl that usually buys a 10-pack of socks from WalMart for $5.99 – buying a pair for $15 was a bit of challenge.  I took a deep breath, got on the floor to stretch my back a bit, rubbed my sore heels, thought about my impending 3 mile walk tonight…and clicked “Order.” I have enough time to test these socks out a few times before the half-marathon to decide if I like them or if I need to visit my second choice. 

Time will tell…. 

In the meantime, I’l keep moving and walking and wait anxiously for Fed-Ex to show up with my new socks!

Posted in Ankylosing Spondylitis, Crohn's Disease, Crohns, Hope & Inspiration, IBD, Living with Pain, Meditation, Reiki

The lesson in Freezing your Fanny off

A year ago for the first time, I participated in a local fundraiser for our ambulance service called “Freeze Your Fanny.” It’s a four mile route that can be walked, or you can join the runners racing each other. I seriously thought my friend Trudy was crazy when she suggested we do it. Seriously – 4 miles?? When it’s 20 degrees out there? What did we do? We signed up and we walked it!

This time last year I hadn’t really begun my exercise program yet, and didn’t believe I had it in me to accomplish something like this.  However, encouraging each other, we decided to give it a go. Not only did we live to tell the tale – we then signed up for our first half marathon – the Mickelson Trail Marathon in Deadwood, SD. It was 13.1 miles (at least it was warmer because it was in June) and you can read my experience about it in my post Putting One Foot In Front of the Other.

Well, it’s one year later and today was our second time in the “Freeze Your Fanny” event. Last year we got a purple sweatshirt. When I wear this year’s sweatshirt, I have no fear of being lost anywhere….IMG_6468

When we had the opportunity, we ran. Yes….”She who has Ankylosing Spondylitis” ran!! It was six below zero, my legs were cold and I definitely froze my fanny off somewhere in the first mile (I really should go back and look for it but I’m happy to have lost a little of that junk in my trunk!)

What really surprised me about this experience? It was fun! I had fun – walking, running….it was all fun! Seriously, in my entire life, I never would have thought running out in -6 weather would qualify in my category of “Fun stuff to do in my life”….now I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Last year, getting through those four miles was a struggle – simply because walking four miles was so new to me…and everything hurt while I did it, and when I was done! I was exhausted at the end of it, and pretty useless for the rest of the day….but I did it, and that was enough to give me courage to keep going.

I began an exercise regime, changed my diet a bit by paying better attention to what I ate. I added supplements to help with staying healthy which can be a challenge with Crohn’s Disease and only one kidney.  I continued with my daily meditation practice and resumed my Reiki treatments; for myself and others as much as possible.

In one year, my life has changed radically. Changes like what I’ve experienced don’t happen overnight, it doesn’t seem like it’s been a year already in fact!

Patience, dedication, and a belief deep down in your core – that’s what can help you achieve what you think is impossible. What is particularly exciting for me about accomplishing the walk/run today is that we got out there in spite of it being -6F….yes, that’s SIX BELOW ZERO…it was so cold my ponytails got frost on them from my breath!!  Rather than being upset about it – we laughed!

FYFO

Go ahead and choose to go out there for a walk or run and Freeze Your Fanny off!! Have fun with it and try to do just one thing you always thought impossible – you might just surprise yourself!

If I did it….you can too!

Posted in Crohn's Disease, Crohns, IBD, Living with Pain

When eating healthy becomes painful

Like most others, I’d overeaten a bit this holiday season. No shortage of cookies and candy to be found, and not being one to say “no” to sugar, I finally felt I hit my brick wall around Christmas Eve.

The Christmas day entree for everyone else was prime rib, for me (the vegetarian in the group) Quinoa. I warmed up vegetable stock with half an onion and a few cloves of garlic and a nice bunch of fresh parsley. The quinoa along with mashed potatoes, baked butternut squash and cauliflower made a great meal. Pumpkin pie made a great dessert. YUM. Continue reading “When eating healthy becomes painful”

Posted in Book Writing, Crohn's Disease, Crohns, Living with Pain, Writing

The stories we tell ourselves about #2

Last night in my “Bring Your Book To Life” book writing & coaching class it was my turn to read a piece from my book. I stressed about what to read all week leading up to the class, finding holes in every section I thought about reading. I was so concerned that the day before class I drafted up an email to my book coach Lisa Tener asking her to remove me from the reading option, I just didn’t think any of it was good enough to share. Then I realized, that is the whole point of being in this class – to learn.  I’m at the point where I’m still only writing, not editing. So I know there are a lot of edits in my future. As I read in someone else’s blog not too long ago (I apologize because I don’t recall who it was) she had a great little piece of art that said “writing is when we make the words. editing is when we make the words not shitty” – That pretty much says it all!

Here is an edited version of what I read in class and I am looking for constructive feedback. As Lisa said in class once, “Spare the Reader, not the Writer.” This is just a snippet from my book section leading up to talking to someone for the first time about your Crohns/Colitis/Bowel issues.  Thanks for your help, I really appreciate it!

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When you have bowel disease, you forget what it is like to sit down at the table for an entire meal without ever leaving your chair. I don’t mean getting up to the stove to refill your plate, I’m talking making a mad dash to the bathroom as soon as your saliva starts to work and your digestive system realizes you are about to eat.

Here’s the scenario: You are going out to dinner with a new friend who doesn’t know yet about your inner truth. Feeling pretty good you head out the door, your guts have been quiet for a few hours, likely just laying around noiselessly for once, allowing you to enjoy your day. You are enjoying drinks and conversation with your friend at the bar, then you are told your table is ready. As you sit down you are immediately greeted with a warm loaf of bread and soft butter. It is now, at this moment, those guts that have been quiet all day sound the internal alarm “DING DING DING, she’s about to eat!!” The guts look at each other and start to talk about what might be coming. A discussion ensues if the meal (no matter what it is) will be easy to send through or if they are going to have to struggle with it every inch of the way? As this internal belly conversation goes on, the rest of the world only hears a grumbling tummy and assumes you are hungry. The reality…there is a conspiracy happening inside of you, a decision is being made of how long your food will be allowed to stay inside. Now the stories inside your head start, you can tell just from the rumbling that you will be getting up from the table at least once during the meal. That means it is time to prepare our story or stories for what is about to happen. As you cross your arms across your abdomen in a vain attempt to reduce the sounds of your guts, you choke back tears of yet another stressful outing. Mealtime, generally a social occasion, is one of the most stressful times of the day when you live with the  “Invisible Illness from Poop Hell.”

This part of life with Crohns or Colitis gets particularly tricky when you are out with people who don’t know your story yet. is Just how do you explain why you keep getting up and running out of the room during a meal. There are, of course, several options you could choose from. These few suggestions are of a time old tradition that should work just fine….

A) You saw a spider spiraling down from the ceiling and you are deathly afraid of them, so it was just sheer panic that caused you to get up and run;

B) You could have sworn you heard someone calling for you from somewhere; or,

C) You can also use the good ole’ line “Oh my god, I left the iron on, I have to go!” and then make a run for it.

Those probably work better when you return to the room immediately, which of course you don’t because you are already squatting on the toilet bowl, utilizing the “courtesy flush” in order to not stink the place out as well as not offend anyone else who might be in there.

We get awfully worried about what other people think, don’t we? I’ve created entire scenarios while taking care of business. I analyze possible thoughts of other people, automatically assuming they are sitting outside the bathroom door with a timer giving each other disapproving glances, and sighing as the minutes pass by. I just know they now realize I haven’t dashed in for a quick pee. They know now that I’m “doing #2.”  I imagine what the looks on their faces will be when I finally emerge knowing full well I will be avoiding eye contact with everyone.

In the meantime while you are on your 8th flush, your brain now is considering what story can you tell if they look at you with questioning eyes. Did the toilet not want to flush? Nope, can’t use that since they likely heard the toilet flush 14 times by the time you were done. How about “Gosh, what a line in there to wait on!” could work just long enough to get you away before they realize no one else has walked in there. Of course we just want to slip out quick without anyone seeing us. For me with the long red hair, I’m not so easy to hide in a crowd so I’m pretty sure everyone in the restaurant has tracked my progress and will all walk past me whispering “there she is, that’s the one that was in the bathroom 45 times tonight!”

All of these scenarios take place while still on the throne, so when you finally walk out those people you expected the disparaging glances and whispers from are gone. That stress is gone, but you still have to return to the person or people you left at the table. Now, if it’s your family you left, they know why you did so your worries are over. You can run and poop just as much as your little guts desire. However, if it’s a first date (romantic or otherwise) who has no idea yet about your disease, time to figure out what you are going to say. If the date is already a dud, then having an “upset stomach” is the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card! Problem solved! However, if you think the date is going well and you like this person or people, you have to decide how much you want to share. It’s time for you to decide your own comfort level and how much you want to say and, how prepared you are a question and answer session. If it goes the Q&A route, I recommend taking that conversation outside the restaurant!