There are always two exciting, monumental, OMG-so-encouraging milestones that happen as I’m coming back from a Crohn’s flare-up. When these things eventually occur, I’m all, “Oh Hell yeah, I’m back, I’m awesome, life is sweet, you can’t stop the beat.”
The first big great milestone occurred two or three weeks ago. This one is probably more graphic than you’d like, but it’s important. I know I’m moving toward recovery when I go to the bathroom and there are no signs of blood.
Sorry, I know. Too much? Too far? Did I lose you forever?
But it’s a big deal.
During a flare-up, each time I have to bolt for the bathroom, it’s scary-gross, so when things finally, uh, clear up, I take it as a huge positive sign.
If you’re going to stop reading now because you can’t handle my beauty, it’s OK. I understand. I’ve enjoyed having you.
The second time I feel huge positive reinforcement is when I’m able to go for a run, whether it’s one mile or 10, and I don’t have to stop and use the bathroom.
That holy-shit-so-awesome run came along today.
I wasn’t expecting it, which is cool.
I did my usual get-ready-to-run routine, and left the apartment planning to stick to the Reservoir and Bridle Path, where I know I’m never far from an open bathroom. Lately I’ve also had to make a pit stop at the Starbucks a mere .3 miles from my apartment.
But not today.
Today I started to run.
And then I ran right past the Starbucks.
Then I ran into Central Park, and turned left, away from the Bridle Path and the tennis court bathrooms, instead of turning right.
I kept going, and I never made it up to the Bridle Path.
I ran on the main road, past the unopened Boathouse bathrooms — fine, didn’t need ’em — and past the also unopened bathrooms at the Delacorte Theatre.
I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I kept waiting for my stomach to get worked up, but it never did.
If you look at my splits, you’ll see the run was nothing special. It wasn’t fast, but it wasn’t painfully slow, either. My route wasn’t fancy and my outfit wasn’t cool. I ran without music for the first half, and then rocked out to some Newsies tunes for a little while. I ran 8.5 unremarkable-looking-to-you miles.
Except that they were remarkable to me.
Wait, what’s this connection we’re making here?
Is it that when I’m chill, my stomach is chill?
Why yes. Yes, I think that’s the case here.
Since getting sick this most recent time and being forced to do a major mental check-in, I’ve been so much better about not being excitingly busy all the time. I’m not over-scheduling myself, I’m sticking to things I want to be doing, and I’m generally in a better mental place. As a result, naturally, I’m in a better physical place. I have a more relaxed approach when it comes to work, play and running — and it’s serving me well.
BRB, going to pat myself on the back.
I really don’t think I can convey how excited I am to be feeling better. I’m a little embarrassed it took me so long — um, 20 years — to realize it’s not steroids I need, it’s a healthy dose of chill-the-F-out.
I came back from my run all giddy and ready for a dance party. I barged into the apartment, ready to invite Brian to said dance party. I was even going to let him pick the songs we could dance to, though I think it’s implied that we’d both go for some sort of Celine Dion “I Drove All Night” remix, or perhaps something of the Usher variety.
Imagine my surprise when instead of wanting to dance, Brian wanted to die.
He said to me, “Ali, I want to die. Will you kill me?”
Turns out, I’m not the only one who’s a little dramatic when the stomach isn’t being friendly.
Brian, bless his well-intentioned heart, has food poisoning.
Last night he was all, “Ali, have some of this cole slaw, it’s sooooo good, I swear.” And I was all, “OMG ew, heck no, mayonnaise is disgusting, I’m going to eat a leftover tuna steak.”
So that happened. Brian ate the cole slaw. I did not.
Brian woke up at 4 AM to do some vomiting.
I did not.
My stomach got better.
His most definitely did not.
So I’m running a bit behind today because I am still going for Girlfriend of the Year, and as soon as Brian informed me of the puking I ran out to Duane Reade to stock up on Ginger Ale for the sad guy.
Why am I telling you all these details about Barfing Brian?
Well, because Brian stopped throwing up for two seconds, showered and then said he was going to work. He has been working from 7 AM until 10 PM almost every day for the past month, including on the weekends, and he’s more go-go-go than ever. He also has a big bike race coming up this weekend (108 miles, no big deal), and I don’t think “tapering” should include 4 hours of sleep each night and zero energy. No, tapering should include DoubleStuf Oreos. Duh.
I almost called him an idiot for insisting he had to go to work because he “has a bunch of meetings today,” but I didn’t want to be rude. Remember, Girlfriend of the Year. So I said nothing.
It took me those 20 years to learn it, but when we are sick, sometimes it’s food poisoning and sometimes it’s Crohn’s disease, but sometimes we also just need a break. A mental break, a physical break, a mere 20-minute nap, whatever. I never realized just how much stress and mental health are related to physical health. And I’m a doctor, in case you didn’t know, so be sure to write down everything I say. It’s all been proven by science and my brain.
What’s my point?
I don’t know.
Do I ever really have a point?
OK, here’s one: Go easier on yourself. Start today, and keep it going. Oh, you did some binge eating during the office birthday party fiesta? Bummer. Your run was slower than you would have liked? That sucks. Your apartment is a filthy mess and your dirty dishes have overflowed from the sink over to the stove and onto the floor? Dishes are gross. I’m sorry for you.
These things are annoying and frustrating, sure.
But in most cases, they’re not the end of the world.
They’re not worth making yourself sick over.
For basically ever, I would get so stressed when I analyzed my ever-growing To Do list, and it would weigh down on me. I beat myself up over every little thing. How can I really be surprised that I got majorly sick four times in less than a year?
It took a while, but I have finally come to terms with the fact that I need to control my crazy, or I’ll never really get fully healthy. I’m no expert on this yet, but I’m working on it. I’m trying really hard.
And Brian just texted me to let me know he threw up four times on the street.
Take a break, people. Go easier on yourself. Keep the barfing and Crohnsing to a minimum, OK?
High five for relaxing.
AND BECAUSE WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM EACH OTHER: What’s your best “I have to relax right this second” tip? Don’t say go for a run. Everyone always says that. Give me something else, something really good and original. Maybe like, “I go for a walk around my block and on the way I stop for a chocolate-dipped macaroon.” Or maybe, “I take a bath and read the latest issue of US Weekly. I mean The New Yorker.”