Where are you now?
That’s a question that often comes up in yoga. Or it did today at least. My time on the mat has been limited the past few weeks, as have many of my typical interactions with friends and family. I guess that’s why I’m writing this. I guess that’s where I am right now.
I’m on a journey. You’re on a journey, too. From the perspective I’m trying to embody, the journey is about finding the balance of health in the body. The end goal, if such a thing exists, is in taking care of your body and finding your OWN health.
I write here a lot about my own emotional health and well-being. But now I want to write about my physical health. It’s something that’s very hard to talk about in day-to-day interactions. It comes up a lot, especially when working at Heaven & Ale, but it’s a silent thing. It’s hard to explain in a quip why I can’t do (or eat) this or that, or why I don’t have energy to do certain things.
Because I’m healing.
For the past nine to 12 months, I’ve been dealing with major digestive distress, which I believe to be an inflammatory bowel disease, like ulcerative colitis. I’ve experienced ups and downs, highs and lows, which have included losing my health insurance, successfully recovering from a flare near my birthday, and uncovering a new way of fueling my body.
Unfortunately right now, I’m at a low point. I have insurance again. I’m waiting to see my regular doctor, who I hope can expedite me to a gastroenterologist, a delightful specialist who will be able to look inside my colon with a fancy scope. I’m eager to learn what’s going on in there, as nothing I’m doing has proven effective in easing my symptoms through this flare. What helped me earlier this summer isn’t working now.
What’s most difficult about this condition is that from the outside, you may never know that I’m sick. Some people tell me I look great—but they can’t see that I’m unhealthily skinny. I’ve lost almost 20 pounds in a short period of time. I weigh less than I did in high school. Unexplained weight loss accompanies extreme fatigue and dizziness when I stand up too fast, walk up a hill or go for a short walk in the woods. I don’t sleep well at night, and I experience bad cramping and pain. I sometimes get feverish in the afternoon. My fatigue and feeling bad has meant missed camping trips, missed Wilco concerts, and missed vacation time with long-lost friends. And missed work. Did I mention bloody diarrhea? For months? And going to the bathroom 10 to 15 times a day? Yeah, that.
With the help of friends, family, my sweetie (see below!), and cool authors, I’m on a wild, anti-inflammatory elimination diet that, with time, I believe will be the answer to whatever illness I have. But right now my body isn’t responding to anything I do. Not the prescription-strength probiotics, not the simple, vegetable-based diet, not all the fiber (or low-fiber low-residue foods!!hahaha) in the world.
That’s the gross side of it. But I have great hope. The best I can do is keep my spirits high. I’m OK with not eating bad-for-me foods for the next few years, or even the rest of my life. I’m OK with having to get a colonoscopy on the reg. I’m OK with these seemingly healthy changes that have helped boost my confidence. I’m going to do as much yoga as my body can handle in this state. I’m going to try really hard to maintain relationships, but it’s hard to tell even some of my closest friends what’s been going on, or why I haven’t been around or even called. It’s hard to reach out.
I am here. I am at a very low point. I don’t write this as a call for a pity party, or even a call for help. I’m confident I’ll get better, and that this is very temporary. I know I’ll get back to my normal weight, and to a place where I can heal, trail run, bicycle, maybe even consume a drop of alcohol one day. (Though I don’t have my hopes up on beer. Just give me cookies.)
Health, and my own health, has long been a priority for me in life, work and play. If I get nothing else out of this experience, it’s the understanding that NO MATTER WHAT, no matter how I got here or what my past is, I am fully responsible for taking care of myself right now. I am responsible for making decisions that boost my attitude and health. I am responsible for taking care of this precious vessel that houses my spritely spirit. And we’ve got an exciting journey ahead!
I feel blessed to be interested in cooking as hobby, and to have such a strong support system of people who help me to make the most healthful decisions. I’m still working toward my dream job. I love where I live. I’m in a beautiful and nurturing relationship with someone who inspires me to be my best. I get to see friends and family regularly. I’m blessed beyond belief! I just need to get to healing my guts. It’s amazing to learn how strongly gut health and overall health are inextricably linked. There’s no doubt in my mind that will forever alter my views of health.
If nothing else, I’ve learned to say NO to many things so I can say YES to health. To life.
First the hair, now this, right? But it’s why I write—to tell my story and hopefully connect with someone reading it. Thanks for listening, thanks for your healing energy, and thanks for understanding where I am right now.