Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Crohn's, Running, and Me

I am a Runner. I love it! I run almost everyday and the days that I don't, I miss it. The thump of my feet on the asphalt, the sun warm on my shoulders, my breath even and true, and the small adventures that happen on the streets around my house.

It's just amazing to me and I treasure it.

I also have Crohn's disease, I have for about 10+ years. It was the most awful, painful thing I have every encountered, and doctors told me I was crazy. I have had an intestine resection (about 2 feet taken out), but for the past 3&1/2 years I have been on Remicade and it is my miracle. I have a Life now!

Now you're asking "What does Crohn's and running have in common?" least to me.

Crohn's is horrible. Imagine the worst stomach flu you have ever had and then times that by at least 4 and live everyday like that. Imagine feeling like shards of glass are slowly twisting away through your intestines. Of living in the bathroom half the time and barley able to move the rest of the time. Remember that, and all the while you must be a Mom, Wife, Sister, and Friend. That you should still make dinner, do the laundry, play with your kids, laugh with family, help at school, and smile through all the pain and embarrassment. Crohn's is one of those diseases that you really don't want to share the details with everyone (at least until you can be clinical about it).

Remicade had changed my life so much that I can live a "normal" life. It is by no means a cure. I still have very bad days when I need the bathroom nearby and just to sit in bed. And the side effects are unpleasant, but it's All Worth It! If it gives me a tail and mouse whiskers it will still be worth it.

Remicade has triggered what seems to be rheumatoid arthritis in me too. There have been times when I couldn't even sit up and get out of bed. I would have to roll to the side and fall out of bed onto my hands and knees, crawl into the kitchen to my arthritis-friendly bottle of Advil, and then crawl back into my bed until it kicked in so I could make my kids breakfast., sob story almost over.

Running, to me, is a way to stick it to my body. To scream at it "You have to do what I want! You have to listen to me and deal with the pain that I Earned." Running was unimaginable when I was sick. Moving off the bed was bad enough, but to run 3 miles....Never!
I ran 14 miles the other day. The sun was shining, it smelled like things were growing. When I crested hills I could see forever, and my body worked the way I wanted.

Every step was a blessing.

Every mile I run is throwing it in Crohn's face, saying "You do NOT define me. You will NOT force me to be weak."

I am a Runner, Mother, Wife, Friend, Aunt, Sister, and Marathoner!
There is no room on that list for Crohn's.

Every time I step out in all my running gear I am itching to run faster than yesterday, longing to go farther than last week, begging to push this wonderful body that God gave me harder, wanting to be strong, healthy, and Free.

Running is all this and more to me.

It lets me be just Me.
To compete against my best.
To let my mind wander over the fields and valleys in my head with no on asking anything of me.

One day---who knows how soon---my Crohn's will catch me, fast as I am, and arthritis will be more that a stiff discomfort. On those days when I must sit, when I must be in pain, I can call to mind the clear winter morning running my favorite road. The mountains in the distance frosted with snow. The neighborhoods quite and still in their blankets of glittering snow. The air clean and cold as it flows through my lungs. My body strong. My footfalls sure. My favorite song playing in my ear. The road open and free in front of me.

Those are the times running will mean the most.

But until then, I will strap on my water belt, turn up my Ipod, tie up my New Balance, and feel free on the road just outside my door.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Emily. I never knew you had Crohn's. When I was so sick a few years ago, they thought I had it, but I was lucky and didn't. I had untreated diverticulitis instead. I always knew you were special, but now I admire you even more. Running is such an amazing metaphor for individual strength and courage. Keep running and sticking it to that terrible disease. You are awesome!!


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