Thursday, July 22, 2010

Roller Coasters Save My Soul.

When I was a little girl, I was terrified of roller coasters. The one time I went as a child, I screamed bloody murder the whole way down for them to let me off. It was just too scary for me, the falling and the rush. It was all just too much.

But then, when I was 13, I went to Six Flags with some friends. Of course they all wanted to ride the Batman coaster, and understood that I was scared. But I didn't want to be left behind without my friends. So I went. I closed my eyes, held on tight and tried to breathe. And once I faced my fears, I found that the roller coaster was no longer one of them.

Years later, I love roller coasters. The rush and the falling no longer terrify me. In fact, they save my soul.

I have so much built up inside of me. So much hurt and anger over this illness and how it is affecting me. Not worrying about college and Crohn's (dorm room here I come!), or stupid doctors telling me all the EXTRA tests I need. Trying to remember not to let Crohn's define me.

So when that roller coaster reaches the top of the hill, I open my eyes wide and lift my arms high above my head and LET IT ALL GO. Let the wind wash away the pain, let the speed take away my worries, let the rush remind me there is a whole world ahead of me.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

I plan on it.


Sunday, July 11, 2010


So, this time, a year ago, I was MISERABLE.
I was sickly and broken, and I had no idea what was wrong with me.

A year later, I strive to remember that time.
Frankly, I don't remember a whole lot about it. I think I was too miserable to really store certain memories. I remember moments.

I remember begging my watch the cafe so I could excuse myself.

I remember being suprised that my skirt was too big...because a week earlier, it was fine.

I remember eating lunch with my mom, and trying my hardest to just eat my food, but every single bite made me want to run to the bathroom and just hide.

I remember counting down the minutes until I could excuse myself from company without seeming rude or weird.

I remember wondering if I would ever get better.

A year later? I can eat my food without excusing myself multiple times.

My clothes don't have to be replaced weekly.

My coworkers don't have to rush to my aid every hour.

And it's nice. It's normal again. And that is all I ever really wanted.

But I don't think I'll ever forget those moments.

Those are the kind that simply change you.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Random Fact

My intestines grumble a lot.
I know that sounds funny, but I swear to you they do.
In fact, during my math final last spring, they grumbled the ENTIRE TIME.
Luckily, years of dance have taught me how to clench the muscles in my abdomen.
Which silences the grumbles.
But it is still HORRIBLY embarrassing.
I told my Doctor about this on my last visit.
He says, that's normal.
Well...that is simply not normal to me.

See, that kind of thing never used to happen to me. It's weird now that it does.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Six Months

It's been six months since I wrote here. Six months since I really talked about it. Because I don't talk about it. Because for the past six months, I've pretended that I don't have it.

It was under control. And for that I was grateful. I lived my life in a world where I just ate what I ate, and pretended each and every stomach ache was just the same thing everyone else feels. But it wasn't. I wanted so badly to be the girl that doesn't have Crohn's. I wanted it to just be a bad dream. But it isn't.

I had to get a new doctor, due to insurance issues ( a whole other bag of worms...). And he just wants to run all these extra tests on me. Just to be sure. Another procedure, more meds, more blood work, MORE. Just to prove a fact that I already know to be true. And I do know. I already heard it, already saw the scans and the doctors findings and everything. I don't need to hear it again from someone new. I don't need to hear it at all.

I live in denial of what I know. I know what comes next if things don't change. And I just grit my teeth and pretend that it's not happening to me. That I am fine. Because I know what I have. I know who I am. I have to stop pretending I don't.

Six months of denial. Six months to forget. I had six months. Now I have the rest of my life to deal.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

After the inital shock wore off...

It was good. Telling everyone all at once? It was kinda good. It felt good at least. I sat there the whole night I posted it and just watched the numbers on the views jump, knowing each time they did one more of my friends was listening to me from where ever they were. It felt like a monster weight was lifted off my shoulders and I could just be me again.

For the most part, everyone has actually been really good about it. No one has freaked out horribly, although some people initially were very concerned and had a lot of questions...which I expected. I welcomed actually. It shows people care. And while some had easy questions (does it hurt, what do you take, etc) some had really hard ones, ones that did make me want to cry because truthfully I don't know. I don't know what will happen to me. Chronic illnesses are ones that never leave you and are often the most unpredictable. It's just about how I take care of myself from now on.

I look back, and see how much I didn't used to take care of myself. How I let myself go really. And Crohn's is not a result of that, Crohn's is a luck of the draw type of deal, but still. It took a life long illness to make me see that I had to change how I was living. I should not have eaten fast food as much as I did, or eat sunflower seeds as often as I did. I should have used less sweet n low or drank more water. Because maybe then it would not have been such a shock to my body to go through everything I am now. Maybe it would have been easier. But then again, nothing with Crohn's is ever easy.

I do worry about the rest of my life still. How far my disease may progress or how it will effect my future relationships or lifestyle. When I went to my normal doctor for being sick a couple of weeks ago, she looked over all the forms sent to her by my gastro she said that it was just a little part of my intestines so far, but the so far kinda haunts me.

I think it's all about being strong. And not think about the so far's.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Four Years of Jeans.

I am sick. I have a cold/flu/whatever. So I went to the doctors, armed with anxiety and worry, knowing that the way they would chose to treat me was via antibiotics. So I wait patiently and quite quickly the nurse called me back. She asked me to step on the scale and I did. Now, here's where it gets interesting.

Before Crohn's, I did not want to look at that scale. I wouldn't even let them tell me. I shut my eyes very tightly and just liked to pretend it would say a number that I could live with. When I got first started having Crohn's symptoms, everything changed. My first visit, I as usual, refused to look at the scale. When I went on my second visit, two weeks later to be re diagnosed (wrong again), the nurse made a comment about my weight, so I asked her. In the span of two weeks, I had lost close to 20 pounds. I had been so miserable that I hadn't even realized it. On the next visit (which she referred me to my gastro.) I had lost another 10. Today? I stepped on that scale and realized that in a span of 3-4 months (from flare up to now), I have lost a little more than 40 pounds. Holy f^&$ s&**.

It was hard for me to see it, because I don't usually notice weight loss like that. I felt my clothes differently, I heard people say it, but I couldn't visualize it. So I took a picture of some jeans...

The biggest ones? Those are from 2006-2007, my senior year of high school. Miserable weight. Horrible. The next are from the 2007-2008 year. I had started working more, started moving from class to class on campus, and the change was small, but an improvement. The next are from the 2008-2009 year. A slightly bigger gap between the two, but nothing major. And then this years jeans, a huge gap between the two. And those are not even my best fitting pair. Point is, I was losing, I was, but not like this. Not this huge gap.

So is this my trade off? My silver lining? I have this giant mess to deal with for the rest of my life, but BONUS! I will also lose weight for the rest of it? Will I get told I am prettier or get noticed more because my body has shrunk? People who say, "You look great! Have you lost weight?" I just don't know what to say. How do I tell them I didn't do this? That my body rebelled against me and forced me to. That is just crazy and I would never tell anyone that. So I just smile, nod, and change the subject as fast as possible. Because to me? This feels like cheating. I feel like this isn't me. Like if I were 40 pounds heavier still, people would not say a word about how I look.

I know, stupid little girl, whining about how she lost all this weight and didn't lift a finger. I would be thinking it too if I didn't understand it. I know this is my silver lining and I just cannot force myself to accept it. I wish I had earned it. I wish I had worked my ass of and got it that way. But I didn't. I want to be praised for my hard work and I didn't do any. It's maddening.

Stupid girl. Stupid Crohns.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

I don't want your pity, I want your support.

My dear friend,

If I could tell you this in person, I would. But I can't. I can't say the words to you without breaking into tears, I can't talk to you about what is happening without feeling my own heart swell up in worry. So read this, and just pretend I'm right there with you, explaining it all.

Remember when I got really sick a couple months ago? How I lost all that weight and just looked miserable? Remember how you would watch me clutch my stomach in pain? How I couldn't make it through one hour at work or one class without having to excuse myself? Remember how I had to keep going to doctors, and they kept telling me I was just sick?

Well, I was just sick. But it's the kind of sick that doesn't ever go away. I have what is called Crohn's Disease, and I'm telling you this because Crohn's will start to effect me in a different way. And I hope you are ok with me being quite frank when I am talking to you about this, because it's the only real way to describe it.

Crohn's Disease is a chronic illness that is also a type of IBS ,which, I know is kind of confusing. Basically, if you were a normal person, what happens when you eat something that upsets your stomach or intestines, they become inflamed, and that is what causes you to have gas, stomach aches, or long trips to the bathroom, right? Crohn's however, works differently. When my intestines become inflamed, my immune system thinks that my intestines are being attacked by something, and therefore go to work on it. However, the problem is that in all honestly my immune system is actually attacking my intestines, causing them to become even more inflamed and actually start to deteriorate.

Crohn's presents itself in people most often when they are in their late teens or early twenties, and usually happens as an after effect of another illness. I am 20 years old and right before I started experiencing the symptoms, I had just gotten over a virus. My symptoms included a lack of appetite, weight loss, constant bowel movement, lower abdomen cramps, and nausea. There is very little evidence as to what exactly triggers Crohn's Disease, or what causes it. DO NOT freak out and think that you may have it, I had my symptoms for over a month and it was only because I underwent a colonoscopy and endoscopy. They took biopsies from both my stomach and intestines and sent them off to be tested for a multitude of things. It took about a month for the final results to come back, and the biopsy from my intestines came back Crohns.

What I had back then? That was a flare-up. Something that occurred when everything I just described was set into motion. It was not a little one, like the kinds I have now, but an embarrassing month long painful episode. It was embarrassing to have to constantly excuse myself, to have to beg to have one of my coworkers come watch over the cafe so I could run to the bathroom. It was painful, because it is a constant cramp that you cannot ignore, because you are sore and bleeding. I've never been in so much agony as I was back then.

Right now? It's really scary. I take medication twice a day to help my stomach digest food and produce less acid, which will help inflame my intestines less. However, if I take it too late or early, it can mess with my system. I also have a restricted diet, with foods that I know I cannot eat. However, a big part of the diet will be trial and error, which makes eating a game of Russian Roulette. There are new treatments thought up everyday, such as IV treatments or raw food diets, but all these things are still options to explore. However, the trick will be figuring out the right combo of everything, so bear with me as I am tested like a guinea pig. However, from day to day I still have flare ups, which are painful and uncomfortable.

Yes, it could get worse. I could have another horrible month long flare up. I could start to not respond to my medication. I could get put on a much stricter diet, one were there is very little for me to eat. Parts of my intestines could die, and I could have to have surgery to remove them. I can't die from Crohn's, but I can face bouts of dehydration and because my immune system is compromised, I will always have to be really careful about being around sick people. Some of my biggest debates at the moments are what immunizations to get. So how I am now? This is the best it will ever be for me, so I am grateful.

I didn't tell you because I didn't know how to. I was scared that you would look at me differently, or that you wouldn't care at all. I was scared that you would think I wanted your pity or your sympathy. I just wanted to be who I had always been. I wanted to just be me, but as I get further into this, I realize that I have to tell you, because it may get bad. I have to tell you because some days will be better than others and I may need your help to get through them. I want you to ask questions if you have them, or read through my blog if you want. Because it is extremely hard for me to talk about it, and it will help if you understand this all.

It's still me, it's still Marisa. Yes it is a different me with a different set of rules and a new outlook on life, but I created this blog so that I could get through this all. This is me dealing with it, and as I said in my opening post, this is my journey though this and I am going to tell it. You are more than welcome to come along for it.

It is after all A Girl's Guide to Crohn's.