I’m gonna rewind here for a few, I hope you don’t mind. I hadn’t planned this post to happen on this day – it just kind of worked out that way and now I feel like I owe the day the “respect” it deserves for lack of a better analogy.
A year ago today, I made a phone call I had made many times before. I called my mommy. I was sick, I knew it was not a sick like I had been before and I was afraid I was going to die. Seriously…I did. I know a lot of people throw that phrase around non-chalantly “I almost died!” or “OMG, I would just die!” There was one time before in my battle with Crohn’s disease that I thought I was going to die – funny thing is that we didn’t even KNOW I had Crohn’s disease! Huh. Weird how that works out. Anyway, I really thought I was going to die, the pain was nothing I had experienced before. The fever wouldn’t go away. I was going to the bathroom more times in a day than most people did in a month. I felt like my insides were turning wrong-side-out. That was the beginning of the end for my colon.
The last 12 months have been a roller coaster. Surgery. Then a complication and another surgery and again. And one last time. You can get the full scoop HERE if you don’t already know. Even after the surgeries I had more hurdles to jump over. I knew going in that surgery wasn’t the “easy way out” but I swear I had NO idea WHAT “could go wrong”. Even if I had known that these things were going to happen, I would have done it anyway because my life is SO much better now than it was on this very day last year.
After I participated in Take Steps San Antonio in October I set my sights on Team Challenge ½ marathon as my next event. I had been cleared to exercise (finally) and went right to work. Well, you can probably guess that I had some issues. And even now, I have issues. But, if I want to do what I have set out to do I just have to push through them and know my limits. As you may have read I have an amazing relationship with my medical team and they are always in close contact so that if ANYTHING comes up that is out of the ordinary I receive immediate attention.
I started the Couch to 5K program and was about ½ way through it last weekend when I ran in the Color Me Rad 5k here in San Antonio. Okay, I ran and walked. I followed the C25K plan for the day and finished in about 47min going just over 3.3 miles (I circled back for friends!) My first event just so happened to coincide with Team Challenge Rock n’ Roll marathon & ½ marathon in Las Vegas. I promise I did NOT plan that. Those people in Vegas kept me going – everytime I thought “screw it, I’m just gonna walk” I imagined ALL.THOSE.PEOPLE in Las Vegas running for me! They were there because they believe in me – they believe that there will be a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They believe that I deserve treatment, education and activities that help with IBD. I couldn’t let them down.
As I got towards the end of the race the last 11 months literally flashed before my eyes. It was like a music video in my mind – all the images of my body, my family, the hospital, exam rooms, things I had done, people I had met, conversations I had participated in – all of it just went whizzing by. I was totally overcome by emotion – my body almost stopped on me, like it was in shock. I was seriously about to complete a 5k. 6 months ago I would have LAUGHED at someone if they said I would finish a 5k a year from the day I thought I was going to die. Hell, I still had an open wound on my abdomen then! As I started up the hill to go under the FINISH arch I put my hands on top of my head and started to cry. For the FIRST time in a LONG time I felt “normal”, whatever that is!?
I crossed the finish line by myself – well, there were lots of people going through – but none that I knew or had come with. There was no one waiting for me to celebrate my victory. I had originally thought I wanted someone to be there – but when the moment happened I couldn’t have been happier to be doing it alone. FINALLY something that was just.for.me. My life with Crohn’s disease has been about everyone else; work, friends, family – the way it sneaks in and disrupts every aspect. But this – this day, this 3.1 miles, THIS was all me and so I was okay with being alone at the finish line. It gave me a chance to reflect on who I am. Who I have become over the past year. Who I struggle to be.
I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a friend. I am a patient. I am an advocate. I am a voice. I am a warrior (and have the scars to prove it!) I AM CROHN’S DISEASE, it is NOT me.
I dedicate that 3.1miles to every single person out there who is in a place right now that you don’t think you can get out of. I’m here to tell you that you can. All you have to do is reach out, there is an entire community of people out there ready and willing to take you by the hand and show you how. You just have to want to do it.
Please come back this week – I’ll be doing an entire post dedicated to the IBD community by linking up all the places I go to for support, information or just a good laugh!
Find your silver lining and BE AWESOME!!