The past week or so has not been my favorite.

It’s been frustrating dealing with this flare-up over the past month (longer, actually — time flies when you’re in the bathroom).

After going to the doctor, all my bloodwork came back normal. In theory that’s a good thing, but it’s actually frustrating! Doctors like numbers they can analyze. It’s why they make you rate your pain, which is an activity that always seems impossible. (I don’t want to seem dramatic but also don’t want to totally diminish my pain! Life is hard.)

I fell asleep in the sun :(
I fell asleep in the sun 🙁

I wanted to be able to point at my results and say, “Look! My iron levels are sickly low. I’m anemic! That explains why I’m so tired and can’t run and am useless and refuse to walk up hills, stairs, or sidewalk curbs.” Instead, everything was within the normal ranges.

I was scheduled for a colonoscopy this past Tuesday, which would hopefully reveal where the disease was located and where the inflammation was hanging out, and then we could discuss how to proceed. Because it’s gotten pretty bad. I get anxiety every time I leave the apartment. And that makes it worse.

Remember when I JUST ran a race and thought maybe I was getting better?! LOL.
Remember when I JUST ran a race and thought maybe I was getting better?! LOL. Totally nailed this jump shot, though…

Imagine my joy when I called Monday morning to confirm my procedure the following day — after I had started prepping — to find out that while the receptionist had written down my appointment for me, she had not, in fact, scheduled it in the system. Fun fact: writing something on a Post-It doesn’t make it exist in real life.

So. Monday was not my best day. I was at my most unpleasant.

Not Monday. With a mouth full of croissant.
Not Monday. With a mouth full of croissant.

But on Tuesday I would be cleansed and I would get answers.

Mmmmm nope.

Thanks, receptionist. And also thanks for not apologizing!

I have not rescheduled my colonoscopy. Here’s why.

...because I am too busy asking strangers to let me pose with their puppies.
…because I am too busy asking strangers to let me pose with their puppies.

Because I think I know what’s wrong with me. I think this flare-up is solely because I am perpetually worked up lately — “excitingly, excitingly busy” — and my body is reacting accordingly. Science.

Stress manifests itself in your body, as all the Googles tell us, and it’s evident beyond my colon. My skin is a mess, I’m not sleeping well, I’m exhausted, and I’m just not my usual, happy self (everyone at November Project this morning who, despite my smile and college-themed outfit, kept asking, “Are you OK, Feller?”).

Hell yeah I'm OK. I'm a former Quinnipiac University Kickline captain.
Hell yeah I’m OK. I’m a former Quinnipiac University Kickline captain.

My favorite yoga instructor, Bethany told us recently that sometimes it’s OK to “embrace the suck.” That when life isn’t going our way, it’s OK to not power through all the time, and to just let things be shitty for a while.

Savasana. Namaste. Pepperoni.
Savasana. Namaste. Pepperoni.

So I did, for a few days at least.

Eventually I sought out some people to talk to, and I asked myself, “What’s stressing me out? That’s what I have to change.”

Not stressed!!! Look!
Not stressed!!! Look!

Mainly, I’m stressed about being sick! That’s the big one! Funny how that works. Even without the fevers and other side effects, this flare is still knocking me down in a major way. I’m in the bathroom constantly.

J/K I FEEL BETTER NOW! Meet Stella, the pocket beagle and my very favorite puppy!
J/K I FEEL BETTER NOW! Meet Stella, the pocket beagle and my very favorite puppy!

Work can be stressful, too, of course. Being freelance and not having a steady income means making great money one week, then spending the next three chasing down payments from flaky companies. I’m definitely still adjusting to this new-ish role and its demands.

Then there’s wedding planning. You can roll your eyes all you want and tell me “wedding planning should be fun!” but I am attempting to plan a party in New York City for almost 200 of my closest friends. And while I know the day is going to be incredible, and that yes of course the only thing that matters is marrying Brian (yay!), I also want my friends and family members to have a nice time.

Maybe if I wore that veil and sash every day I would perk myself up!
Maybe if I wore that veil and sash every day I would perk myself up!

Even without going crazy with flowers or decorations (we are literally “decorating” with vases filled with red and pink Starburst because I like those more than I like flowers or paper lanterns), it’s still a big party with a lot of logistics involved; a lot of vendors we’re working with, few of which respond to emails in a timely manner (seriously, WTF). Plus, the three most important people in the world — the Pope, President Obama, and Beyoncé — will all be in the city the weekend of the wedding. So road closures, logistical nightmares, and all that jazz!


And the dress thing. That was not my favorite day.

THIS was my favorite day! Cupcake tasting!
THIS was my favorite day! Cupcake tasting!

No, these are not bad problems to have. Yes, I feel like a brat being stressed about things that are not all that bad. I’m not an asshole, and I know life could be much worse. Life is good — but that doesn’t mean you don’t still want a break from it sometimes.

I chose to go freelance and I really do love it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And hell yeah I’m pumped about the wedding! But I still need to plan it to make sure it actually happens, and there are many moving parts, and I am not a full-time wedding planner with time and resources to devote to these things.

Barking orders. Fairly typical.
Barking orders. Fairly typical.

So tomorrow, instead of getting a colonoscopy or attempting to go for yet another frustrating run filled with 12 bathroom stops — and instead of trying to put on a happy face and try to pretend I’m “fighting” this damn disease — I’m fleeing for a bit!

At the encouragement of Brian, who “wants to spend the rest of our lives together, but needs me to at least make it to the wedding for that to happen,” I am headed up to the Berkshires for a weekend-long yoga and wellness retreat.

Taking a break from my role as "#1 cycling fan, cheerleader, photographer, et al" for a little retreat! That's not Brian. It's Anthony. His teammate!
Taking a break from my role as “#1 cycling fan, cheerleader, photographer, et al” for a little retreat! That’s not Brian. It’s Anthony. His teammate!

Totally crunchy and granola and, despite my love for yoga, totally out of my comfort zone. I’m going alone, and I have no idea what to expect.

But I know I won’t have much, if any, internet access. I know I won’t be on Facebook in between sessions, and I’ve moved all my work deadlines to today to make sure I don’t have to check in. I’m even bringing a real paperback book with me! I won’t be tracking down wedding RSVPs or answering questions about where to park if roads are closed because of the Popemobile or following up with the caterer again.

Peace out!!!
Peace out!!!

I’m taking a break.

For real this time.

My thought is that if I give my mind and body a break for once, they will thank me appropriately with a pain scale rating of zero.

See you on the other side! Namaste!

(PS Lots of love to my fellow Crohn’s friends who have reached out to say “I flared when I was planning my wedding, too!” I love you. Thanks for understanding. Not everyone does!)



29 Responses

  1. A little weekend retreat sounds lovely! Stress is awful and when you feel like crap you get stressed which makes you feel like crap. It’s an awful cycle. I don’t have Crohns but I have IBS so I can’t even imagine what thats like based on my lesser degree of anxiety during flare ups

  2. Hi Ali! With all those happy pics, I cannot imagine that you actually feel sick. They are just too lovely. 🙂 I just want to share a line I just read awhile ago. I t says, “It’s okay not to be okay. Just don’t let it consume you. Balance.” 🙂 I hope you will be better! Cheers for more runs! 🙂

  3. I’m sorry you’re feeling so sick 🙁 Are you heading to Kripalu for the weekend? I went there when I was feeling insanely stressed about work. The food was awesome, the atmosphere SO relaxing, and the amount of zen going on was unreal. I’m happy for you! Hope you enjoy!

  4. And I messed up you’re and your. Ugh! I apologize in advance since you are an editor so will most likely cringe!

  5. Good luck! I’ve been reading you’re blog for awhile now but never commented before. I’m also in the midst of wedding planning and while I don’t have chron’s I do have IBS (which is WAY less than what you’re going through!) I’ve been reading along bc I can so relate to needing to make 25 trips to the bathroom (trying to casually act like I’m NOT going to the bathroom for the 25th time) at work, fearing anywhere where bathrooms aren’t private and assessable, all that fun jazz. I 100% agree with your solution- I am actually doing a destination wedding with 10 guests bc my body couldn’t handle wedding planning- which was slightly depressing bc seriously why does wedding planning give me diarrhea?! And final comment- that receptionist should have to drink the prep just for fun as punishment- I mean that’s just cruel!! Hope you feel better soon!

  6. Ali hang in there! You’re amazing and you’re kicking ass at life even if it doesn’t feel that way. There is no right or wrong way to deal with having a chronic illness – somedays you power through and some days you sit in the suck and cry. Good for you for going away on a yoga retreat!! Also just wanted to add myself to the list of people who flared during wedding planning. My doctor allowed (encouraged in fact) me to do a colonoscopy prep the day before my wedding. Not eating and all. Fun? No. But it took so much stress and worry away in the weeks leading up, and waking up the morning of my wedding all cleaned out (bonus: flat tummy!) I knew I had nothing to think about except getting ready like a normal person and having the best day of my life. That option maybe isn’t for everyone but I would do it again a thousand times… If I got married a thousand more times. Ha. Have a great weekend can’t, wait to hear about it!! You rock.

  7. Stress does such awful things to our bodies! I really hope this weekend away helps. Enjoy and soak up the relaxation!

  8. Hang in there Ali. I’ve have been so bummed to hear about your flare and the timing. As a chronie, in a mild flare, it is stress for me also. Not the normal day to day grind of stress but the worrying anxious stress. I can’t explain it but know my thoughts are with you. Take a break … Lots of herbal tea and miso soup. Read, anything you can do for a complete break. Oh, fresh air and lots of walks! I know, only if bathroom is around:( it soooo sucks. Take care … Best wishes from your fellow running friend and chronie in Wyoming

  9. Absolutely flared when wedding planning (actually that’s when the whole debacle started so thereyago). I swore I wasn’t stressed *that much,* but I think you’re intuitive and are doing such a great thing for yourself- getting away. None of my biz, really, but do you notice any foods good/bad/pain/etc? I am adamantly against going on a no-good-food-free-of-all-yummies diet, but wonder if maybe something is making your colon grumpy when it’s stressed. Also, do you take VSL#3? Bentyl for cramping and to slow down your digestive tract? Just thinking out loud.

  10. Aww good for you, Ali! I was so sad to hear you were flaring again, so close to your wedding. I hope this retreat is everything the crunchy granola people tout it will be! If not, you’re still going to have an amazing wedding in a month-ish. Just from reading you blog, I can tell that much.

  11. Feel better Ali! Enjoy your weekend unplugged. Maybe some meditation would help you relieve your stress? How about knitting? It’s supposed to relieve stress (works for me) and you can then make a scarf for Brian that he can pretend to like. I can teach you, if you want to learn. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything will fall into place.

  12. I found wedding planning to be one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life. I remember crying to my mom on the phone one (of many) time(s) during the process, saying that I thought this was supposed to be fun. Her answer, which actually calmed me down was “you thought this would be fun?” I hated hated hated planning my wedding. And we kept things pretty chill and had a good idea of what we wanted going in. It’s still really difficult and expensive, and even worse when you live in a different city than your family. I WILL tell you… the day of was awesome. So much fun. It was so great to have all my favorite people together in the same place. It was mostly worth it. I know how impossible it is, but try not to sweat it. My mantra through the process was that we have done what we have done. It doesn’t really matter if ALL the tiny details are in place, as long as the two of you are there with your officiant, witnesses, and marriage license. It’s so not worth stressing over. Delegate everything you can. I wish I could have delegated more. Good luck and rest up.

  13. I don’t have Crohn’s but for a long time I had all sorts of digestive issues, with no answers from doctors, so I can (somewhat) relate to your frustrations. I know you’ve said NP and running help you mentally continue on but I can’t help but think that they could just be adding stress to your already stressed body. If you feel good one day, then of course, get some type of workout in! But is it really best to wake up super early in the morning to go to NP when you’re tired, frustrated, and scared to leave your apartment? You have such dedication to things you take on but it does seem that maybe you don’t let yourself relax from those things. Especially when your tribemates are asking if you’re okay!

    Anyways, I really hope you’ll be able to step back from some things (NP, picking up freelancing gigs especially if you’re going to have to chase them down) at least until your wedding. More importantly, I really do hope your flare goes away for a very long time! I also hope you get better luck with receptionists! I remember that Study Lady messed up a lot of your appointments, I wanted to punch her for you.

  14. I don’t have chrohns (I can never spell it!) but I can relate to the freelance situation. I’m there now and literally just told my friend yesterday how it’s affecting me quite a lot lately. I lost my mojo for running and all the healthy routine of my life. I will embrace the suck until I can rebound. And don’t feel bratty my dear. You have every right to say that happy choices can still be stressful. Enjoy the weekend.

  15. so sorry to hear you are not doing well. my worst nightmare is taking the prep and not getting to do the colonscopy! horrible prep. but i agree sometimes we think it’s ibd and our body is just saying chill out and relax a little!

  16. Curious what you take for pain and does it work or help? I’m struggling with the same thing!

    Also, I HATE IT when people tell you, “it could always be worse.” Yes, we know. I never said it couldn’t be worse but this is the reality I’m dealing with at the moment. Never feel bad for venting in the corner of the Internet that’s yours! Now go RELAX!

  17. Ah!!!! That sucks. Thank you so much for writing about your journey. It’s nice to know that I am not alone in this Crohn’s crap.
    I am so glad you are going on a retreat! Relax! Heal. Have some fun. Breathe. A lot. And please let us know how that goes! Have a fabulous weekend!

  18. Don’t let people’s opinions of what they THINK you should be feeling, or doing, or not doing get you down. That’s probably a big downside to blogging.. I would think… if I blogged.

    Taking care of you is the most important thing. I hope your weekend retreat lets you get some “calmness” back into your life. There’s something refreshing about simplicity. Sometimes we just have to make ourselves take a step back… And for this Type A here, it is VERY hard.

    I hope this weekend is all you need and want it to be!

  19. I’ve been suffering from RA for 6 years now and had similar trouble planning my wedding too. I got fatigued easily and worried about how I was going to walk in heals when my knees could barely tolerate standing in flats. I was getting ready to move across country and my husband was already gone for work, so it was all up to me. It’s a big ordeal and definitely a lot of stress, but you just have to take some time for yourself, like you’re doing. I’m a big fan of crying to feel better. I

    I love your posts and am definitely going to start following you!

  20. I hope you have a wonderful relaxing time! You will get to a point with your wedding where you realize that if something is not done it won’t get done in the time allotted, that made me relax. All you need are Brian, a couple rings, someone with power vested in them, and a smile. Everything else will come together and at the end of the day the real fun begins!
    Relax, breathe, and enjoy your retreat!

  21. Fun story: I started flaring about a month before our wedding and it stopped when I woke up the morning after the wedding, literally. Gone, poof! No more flare! Amazing how stress can concentrate itself so hard and then evaporate. Hoping that magical moment happens earlier for you, and a little retreat sounds like the perfect idea! Hang in there, and remember…at the end of all of this, being married will be the only thing that lasts, everything else will be gone in a matter of hours. xoxo

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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