achieving 13.1

before you read this, i ask you one thing… what is one thing you’ve wanted to do or see in a lifetime? there many goals i set for myself just in the last year, but one i had my heart set on. 13.1. that sticker. that feeling of accomplishment, despite something so much bigger than i.

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the road to 13.1

what was the thing you wanted? what prevented you from thinking you could do it? what made you decide to go after it? who helped you get there?

ironically, the road to wellness is generally a marathon, not a sprint. why did i expect anything different? the past 4 months have been proven to be anything but easy. ive been guilty on many occasions of feeling bad for myself & will very honestly tell you that out of the 10 years ive lived with my diagnosis, this has been the hardest yet. it was clear to me in mid march that i would likely not be running the 13.1 miles i had promised myself and dedicated so many hours to train for starting last june… i hadnt felt “good” since fall but became sick quickly into a downward spiral in feb-march, hence the hospitalization and quick surgery.

after my hospitalization, i became sicker when my Crohns traveled to my small intestine. few weeks have gone by since march that i have been to work a full week. im exhausted easily & my pain has tipped at an all time high. since my diagnosis, i have been to the ER 3 times related to IBD.. including my near-death experience at age 16. the 2nd & 3rd times visits were in the past 3 months.. related to obstructions & narrowing of my terminal ileum & other unbearable pain of my hands and joints.

01340c2e26f2476e26182fe5066c8cafc53060e6e5what felt like all of the negative forces in the world working against me, a month ago, running 13.1 miles wasnt even an option for me.. it was hard to walk through an entire hallway at work without becoming fatigued and having to sit down. it wasnt until april/may i had eaten my first solids in over 13 weeks & kept them down. i had hope, but i was skeptical to say the least. i could write a book titled “places ive shit my pants” and there would already need to be a volume 2.

my GI in Madison put in very kind words in an appt w/him that i should not be running, seeing as that i could barely go a week without IVs…. still, i tried; puking or not, to walk or do intervals of 3 miles. i felt bad for myself. i cried. i did the one thing you should never do in life – i compared myself. the person i once was & the person who i became while mourning the person i may never be. ive said it before & ill say it again – illness is like an unending cycle of going through the grief stages in a period of death. sometimes you experience each stage, in random orders, sometimes the same stage twice. i was devastated i would be unable to even walk half of the miles i set out on doing in to honor many loved ones w/IBD. i would sulk walking past my running shoes on a daily basis.
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i felt like a terrible teammate because many of the practice runs in MKE were spent in the hospital or in the ER.. or just sick. i felt like i was disappointing everyone around me, especially those who had generously donated and given me so much strength to live through the pain i was going through. i wasnt living the vision what i wanted to initially wanted to do with #purpleproject and it killed me. i tried to adapt, but even putting together packages became overwhelming at one point.

the day i traveled to Chicago to run my half, i received amazing news the day of my surgery consult – my remicade was working. my obstructions were gone & my terminal ileum was not narrowed anymore…the fact that remicade has started to heal all of my previous blockages & ileum is completely amazing. for once my body was on my side!
and then this happened…

boom.

boom.

and in the blink of an eye all of this is seems SO unimportant in the past in the grand scheme of things. in many ways after patients leave the hospital is really when the emotional side of chronic illness hits. there will definitely be a chapter in the future dedicated to this.. even through all the BS days ive dealt with just since january, despite so many things i was & still am up against… i put on my bad ass, “screw crohns” pants & i ran 13.1 miles.. #becauseisaidiwould.
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from the beginning of our weekend in chicago to the end, it was filled with Hope – something that began to slip away from me within recent months. i never expected to break down in tears the night of our inspirational dinner. tears of who i was, who i am & who i have yet to be. to be surrounded in hundreds of people living with similar stories as you, rooting for you & fundraising to see that cure sometime in your lifetime is…. well, there are no words. for once in my life, i felt like i was where i needed to be. and of course, one of my greatest advocates and friends (who happened to be my TC mentor) was there to give me hugs and let me cry. because, thats nicole. shes my pancake, and she has gotten me through so many of the hard weeks in and out of the hospital. have i mentioned what a badass, resilient woman she is? girls got guts.
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the morning of the race i intended to walk the first mile & try to do small intervals as long as i could, expecting no more than being able to hold out for 5 miles? that shotgun went off and i jogged for 9 miles. pure adrenaline, emotion & heart went into those 9 miles. and i cried.. the first time when i saw teammates megan & eliza rooting for us on the course. 13.1 miles is a lot of time with God. i got sick once at the turn around point but ran into other TC teammates from new jersey & kept going. around 10.5 my body gave out. it wanted no more. then Coach Tim came. he walked the last 2ish miles with me & made sure i was okay. we ran through the finish line & walked to the med tent. i saw God that day in so many people, but Tim was for sure one of them. these people that knew why i was missing practice every week, and said prayers and sent messages each week i was absent. because TEAMWORK. running after a cure. as a family.

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13 miles dedicated to the bravest & most courageous souls i knows. how am i so lucky to know these people?

today i am stronger than yesterday & tomorrow ill be stronger than today. ive definitely had many setbacks since my hospitalization trying to figure out my inflammation levels, why im so dehydrated, my “ghost” pains in my left side finally subsiding and my ability to eat again. literally the day before i ran my half-marathon, everything was unknown & very unsettling. this attitude was quickly squashed by my loving Team Challenge teammates, many who have been & are in the same exact place physically & mentally as me.

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in all of the 10 years ive lived with the diagnosis of IBD, this was by far the hardest & most-rewarding year for me as a patient. a short-term distraction while being sick turned into a long-term project completely off course of that goal – dedicated to those living with chronic illness. i became way more involved in the activist community when ive been able to & ive become closer to God…. oh, and i ran 13.1 miles on june 7th. i will remember that day forever. ps – did you hear i ran a half-marathon?

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10 years is 10 too many. 1 day is 1 too many. lets end crohn’s & colitis. please consider donating to research a CURE. http://www.active.com/donate/chicagoWI14/kellyontherun

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a day without disease

i dream of a day i can wake up without disease..
where i can get dressed & ready for work without struggling to find clothes that fit.
without stepping on a scale & being terrified of what number i see.
when i look in the mirror and see someone i recognize & love.
when i dont have to be “the strong one.”
where im not afraid to be honest.
a life not spent in doctors offices, infusion clinics & pharmacies.
when everything doesnt have to make sense.
where i wont worry about losing my job.
when im financially comfortable.
where time never mattered.
when id follow my own advice.
when sobbing for hours meant you were over it & never dealt with it again.
where im not terrified of touching door handles, light switches & using public bathrooms.
no pills, no injections, no IVs.
when im not a prisoner in my own body.
where it doesnt affect every single relationship in my life & where my life might take me.
where i dont feel guilty about having children & passing it on to them.
where every single conversation topic doesnt include how im feeling (or when i’ll get better).
when a fever is just a fever.
when being defeated in life was a small bump in the road.
when unexpected circumstances didnt require understanding them or having significant meaning.
when being brave has nothing to do with me.
where advocating for myself is my priority.
where i dont fear living alone.
where i wake up knowing i will sleep in my bed at night & not spend it in the ER or in a hospital bed.
when im not looked at differently by family & friends.
when a long day results in happy tears.
where planning my day doesnt lead to panic.
where death doesnt occupy my thoughts when i cant sleep.
when not having all the answers wouldnt bother me a bit.
where my money is spent lavishly on fancy drinks with tiny pink umbrellas.
where i can eat.
where i can sleep.
where i can celebrate.
where i can choose.
where im in control.

a girl can dream.

Remission

im not sure what Remission means. its not something im honestly all too familiar with. the last time i was in clinical Remission, was before i was diagnosed with crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. Image

i capitalize Remission for a number of reasons, but the main reason being i see it as a state, a royal majestic state. if you read much of my writing, im sure youre annoyed by my constant writing habit of writing in all under case, with very few exceptions.

as much as i hate to admit it, there is no way around “if”. “if i knew what being in Remission meant.. “if i had enough energy to finish my day as strong as i started it”.. i think every single day, i find myself finishing my “if” quandaries differently. “if” is one word i one delete from the language of chronic illness. its so limiting, so restricting.

many days, Remission to me, means reminding myself of the things im not able to do. and. this. sucks. who wants to be reminded constantly of the things they are unable to do, and even worse, condemn themselves from doing these actions? im my own worst critic. its an awful feeling having to doubt or deny yourself things you deserve to be happy in life.

my daydreams of Remission are vivid.. soft puffy clouds, cats riding unicorns, sparkly ice cream cones floating in the air, mountains of cheese flowing like lava into the streets, dancing orchestras on Fat Tuesday, huskies saying “i love you”, playing dizzybats with old coworkers and havings drinks at the bar winning dart tournaments at Wolskis….. living freely without hesitation.

Remission to me means being able to wake up in the morning and jump out of bed & having the ability of walking out the door with no medications. instead, i pick up my heavy sack off the floor before i leave, knowing i will need at least 3 of the 8 bottles of medication in it before noon.

Remission means no puking, or spending 60% of my days in pain. Remission means food. Remission means being able to be in public and not be disgusted by the smell of other peoples that i cant eat. Remission means no lung issues, chronic rotten infections, days spent hurdled up in bed, or nights spent crying on the bathroom floor. Remission means allowing myself grumpy days that are completely unrelated to my health – & really happy days celebrating my ability to breathe freely. Remission is a sigh a relief. Remission is family, friends & never cancelling plans. Remission is Hope, a Future. Remission is smiles. Remission means normal.

before i got sick

the following is a collaborative piece that would simply not exist without the knowledge you have all given to me. i dedicate these words to all of the generous souls who have let me inside of their personal worlds. on the good days.. and on the worst days of their lives. this is my love letter to all of the people who have made an impact on my personal journey.

dont let my positivity fool you. i have had hardships and struggles in my life with disease. i will not lie; there are days i quit, knowing i can start over fresh the next day. but the things that have been taken away from me due to my disease, have in turn provided me in opportunity; ten fold. friends, networks of support, communities filled with IBD & autoimmune patients just. like. me. who knew?