Friday, December 6, 2013

{Crohn's Awareness} :: My Life Now

For the most part, I have a normal lifestyle. By the grace of God, the medication and change of diet have helped me maintain remission. It is interesting though, that I have a new "normal." I don't have the kind of abdominal pain that landed me in the hospital before my diagnosis {praise Jesus!}, but having a tummy ache, intestinal issues, or other health-related issues is just a way of life now. While there are still some days when I feel pretty puny, I'd like to think I am a stronger person overall now because of Crohn's. I certainly have a higher pain tolerance than I thought I ever could. And the Lord is faithful to carry me through many days where all I want to do is just curl up in bed.

I do have to be careful to take care of myself. This includes getting enough sleep and reducing stress. Those can be kind of hard for me, but I committed from the beginning on the sleep part. It's a joke in our house on how early I go to bed sometimes. It's not always easy, and can be incredibly frustrating when I'm tired all of the time. But I really think that has helped my body heal and has helped in reducing stress. Crohn's has forced me to slow down in many ways, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It is a challenge though, working full time and helping my husband plant a church!

I am still working on a good exercise routine. Staying active is supposed to help with Crohn's, but I will be honest and say that it can be kind of a beat down sometimes. I get started, and then I have a few bad days. {And I just have to say that going for a run isn't appealing when you have the runs- TMI, I know. Just keepin' it real}. So then it's like starting over...all of the time. I am learning to be ok with not having an every day routine right now, though that was really hard at first. I am confident I will get there, it's just going to take some time.

Probably one of the hardest things I had to adjust to is that I am strictly prohibited from taking any NSAIDs, ibuprofen, or aspirin. Ever. Ya'll, I relied on Advil for everything. But it tears your insides up. It has been a real challenge not to have that pain reliever for headaches, cramps, body aches, etc. Especially since my Crohn's symptoms can actually make my menstrual cycle worse {isn't that fun?} Tylenol sort of works...but I am still on a quest for natural pain remedies. I have learned that peppermint is a natural anti-inflammatory, so I drink a lot of peppermint tea. And I am learning to just have a higher pain tolerance :)

I joked with my mom that my life now consists of sharps containers and asking for syringes at the pharmacy. I know that it will become old hat at some point, but even a year in, it's still a bizarre world for me. I was strangely thankful when I got food poisoning because I could tell the difference between it and Crohn's symptoms. My feet fall asleep a lot because I spend a lot of time on the potty. I am often thankful for the runs because it means things are actually moving through my system. My Humira shot means a guaranteed normal bowel movement...and that's something I never thought I would specifically praise Jesus for ha! I had to {very quickly} become ok with going to the bathroom in public places {they actually make a medical card I can carry to jump to the front of the line...thankfully I haven't had to use it, but I should be prepared because that day will probably come}. And I have spent more time {sick} on random bathroom floors than I would really care to admit to...

While I have a lot of support around me, I still battle feeling alone in my struggle. It's hard to be honest with how you're really feeling because people get tired of hearing that you don't feel well. It's easier to say I am doing fine than to explain the issue of the day. I try hard to stay positive and keep a smile on my face, even though I often feel defeated. I know things will get better; they already have. Crohn's forces me to find the positive in things. But it's also just a daily reminder that my body is falling apart :)

Having an incurable disease has certainly put things into perspective. I can't take my health for granted anymore, and I rejoice and try to take advantage of the really good days. I can easily get overwhelmed when I think about dealing with a lifelong disease, watch the cost of my treatment go up, or wonder how I'm going to have the strength to face it all. I have to depend on Jesus every moment of the day. But God is faithful, and He is continually taking care of me.

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