Kick Ass

There are about 486 things in the works in my world these days and blogging has been on the back burner as far as my work output but at the absolute forefront of my mind daily. I have dozens of blogging topics running around my brain but this one is closest to my heart.

So close to my heart, in fact, that I’m scared to write it. I’m kind of afraid to fail and this is a big undertaking for me.

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I have Ulcerative Colitis. I mean, technically I guess I don’t have it anymore cuz I don’t have a colon. That’s right. I’m colon-free and kicking ass!

No colon, no cry. No co-lon, no cryyyyyy.

No colon, no cry. No co-lon, no cryyyyyy.

In the Spring of 2010 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease (sexy!) that, along with Crohn’s Disease, develops as a result of a overreaction of the immune system. Basically, people with IBD have malfunctioning immune systems that attack the entire digestive system. It’s causes are unknown but it is likely hereditary and absolutely unpreventable and incurable (except for surgery for UC patients).

I don’t want to make this a graphic description about what happens to those of us who have IBD, but you gotta know it’s Hell on Earth.

Vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding ulcers, anemia, joint pain, severe abdominal pain, cramps, weight loss, loss of bowel control, fever, constipation, severe exhaustion, night sweats, and so many more specific to the individual patient. Hell. On. Earth.

Colonoscopies, steroids, chemotherapy, anti-immunity drugs, craaaazy diets, nutritional IVs, and everything in between.

Colonoscopies, steroids, chemotherapy, anti-immunity drugs, craaaazy diets, nutritional IVs, and everything in between. Told you. Hell.

There’s a reason that one of my favorite support groups is called My Doctor Knows Me Best From Behind. It’s a disease that people all over the country and world live with silently. Well, not me. I’ve been open about my disease, my colostomy bag, my stoma named Rosebud, and my fight.

I’ve shared with you my journey to surgery in 2012, then {unexpectedly} the second surgery, and finally clawing my way back after surgery. It’s not always been pretty but one thing I have vowed to never be is silent. Not that I’m ever silent about, well, anything…but I digress.

Colostomy bag or no colostomy bag, I'm proud to sport my tummy on the Internet!

Colostomy bag or no colostomy bag, I’m proud to sport my tummy on the Internet!

On June 8, 2013, I will be running 13.1 miles in my beautiful hometown of Sweet Home Chicago as a member of Team Challenge. We are the runners and walkers who raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America in the hopes that in ten years there will be a cure for IBD.

Team Challenge NYC (shamelessly stolen from Daphnie's FB page).

Team Challenge NYC (shamelessly stolen from Daphnie’s FB page).

I know people ask for donations for all sorts of diseases every day. But I also know that many of you asked me how you could help when I was diagnosed, in the hospital, and recovering. Well, here’s your chance!

I’m hosting the Kick Ass (or Kick Butt) Virtual 5K to benefit Team Challenge on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013. Why April 9th? That was the date last year when I scheduled the surgery that would remove my colon. It was a very big and scary day for me but it was also the day I took steps to get my health and my life back.

  • Date: April 9, 2013
  • Time: Any time of day your heart desires.
  • Location: Central Park, East River track, the treadmill at your gym, the bike in your basement, your neighborhood sidewalk, and anywhere else you can find.
  • Activity: Run, walk, bike, swim, or jump a 5K (3.1 miles)–your choice!
  • Cost: $15 donation to my team donation page.
  • Bonuses: $15 gets you one entry into the AWESOME raffle I’m putting together. Every $10 after that gets you another entry into the raffle. $50 gets you 5 entries.
  • Prizes: Still coming together, but I predict fancy workout clothes, great shoes, fun fitness accessories, and some more cool stuff. I’m working on it and it’s gonna be GREAT.

How you register:

  1. Donate to my page ($15 minimum).
  2. Email me (runstrongereveryday@gmail.com) that you did and how much so I can enter you into the raffle.
  3. Extra entry for blogging or tweeting about it (make sure you tag me or let me know!).
  4. Sport the race bib I email you and run/bike/swim/wheelbarrow a 5K on April 9th.
  5. Send me a picture of you sporting your bib, biking in the gym, running on your treadmill, or any other photo so I can include it in the blog recap of the race.

Time doesn’t matter, I don’t care if you do it one mile (or half-mile) at a time, and everyone is on the honor system. If you get sick, do it another day. No worries! My goal is 50 runners. I know, I know. Shooting for the moon. But I have a big family, $15 is roughly 3 latees a week, and you can literally walk your dog for 3.1 miles.

You can Kick Ass or Kick Butt, your choice. But together, we will find a cure for IBD!

You can Kick Ass or Kick Butt, your choice. But together, we will find a cure for IBD!

Please consider supporting me. This disease took my colon but I swore on April 9, 2012 that it wouldn’t take my life. And it didn’t. And it won’t. Yeah, my J-pouch is still kinda wonky but I will never look back on my choice with regret, rather I choose to stare this disease in the face and say, “I’m colon-free and kicking ass!!!”

Kick Ass (or Butt, if you prefer) with me, won’t you?

Now go out and run!

PS. If you or your organization would like to donate something for the raffle, please email me: runstrongereveryday@gmail.com

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Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Family

First off, welcome to all of you who are clicking over from Runner’s World via Twitter. Stick around, stay awhile. Today is Better Than the Alternative Tuesday and yes, I know it’s Wednesday. I am a day behind. I was busy enjoying my last day in Colorado with my Family and my sweet baby niece.

I miss her already!

For those of you who are new to my blog, Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays were inspired by my Dad, Obi-Wan (not his real name, duh) who, against countless odds and obstacles, has managed–along with my Mom, Mrs. Obi-wan, to remind me and my four siblings that no matter how much life sucks, it beats the alternative.

And that’s how Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays were born. It’s a weekly reminder for me and all of you that you’re still here and that’s a victory in and of itself.

This week’s BTAT is Family.

My Family is huge. I have 23 (I think) aunts and uncles, 40 first cousins, several dozen second and second cousins-once-removed whom I actually know and love.

Our wedding was one hell of a party. Our Family knows how to get down!

I also have two sisters and two brothers. Two of them are also married to seriously awesome people whom I love as my own siblings. We got really lucky with outlaws and non-married significant others.

You’d think it would be easy to get lost in such a humongous Family. It’s not.

No matter how far away we are from each other, my sisters and brothers always seem to find a way to support each other and keep in touch. It’s kind of a miracle, really.

We take turns being the last one to know about someone else’s news and feigning exasperation at whomever failed to inform us about said news. We call each other at insanely early hours of the morning because that’s the only time we can get each other. We celebrate each other’s victories and huddle together for strength when there’s a life crisis among us.

We run/walk for each other. That's just how we roll.

This past holiday season, I was able to spend a lot of time with my Family. Some more than others, but it reminded me of how lucky I am that I have such a loving, caring, fiercely protective Family. Not everyone does. And for some of us, we choose who become our Family as life goes on and our friends become our Family.

They are the people who are always there.

I mean, it’s 6am and I’m sad because my boyfriend is in Iraq and I need someone to talk to and they pick up the phone. I have to get picked up from my yearly colonoscopy because I’m not allowed to leave the hospital by myself on account of I’m hopped up on drugs and just came out of anesthesia and they make time in their day to make sure I don’t end up on the side of the road somewhere in the Bronx.

I am not this awake post-colonoscopy, but I am this cheerful. Apparently, I am "drunk Abby" while coming out of anesthesia.

They’re easy to be around and welcome my gorgeous husband into the fold with open arms. They are the ones who save cookies for me at Christmas because we are the last ones to arrive and who surprise me for my 30th birthday.

Surprise! Happy birthday to me!

They are also probably the single reason why anyone outside of my Family reads my blog. I generally figure that about half of my readership is made up of my Family, and I’m ok with that. Thanks, guys! Love you all.

More than anything, Family is always there. For better or for worse, I will never shake these people. Mrs. Obi-wan likes to remind us that our relationships with our siblings are the the longest relationships we’ll have in our lives (hopefully) and we should treasure and nurture them.

I get it now.

I cherish my Family. Near and far. Related and adopted. They really are the ones I can count on and who make being here way better than being there.”TRAMPS like us, baby we were Born to Run!”

Who makes here better than there for you? Family? Friends? How do they support you? Tell me all about it.

Now go out and run!

Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: The Unknown

Fa-la-la-la-la, La-la-la-la!

Happy BTAT, everyone. After a weekend of rest watching my favorite Christmas movie, A Muppet Christmas Carol, and listening to the Harry Connick Jr. Holiday Station on Pandora (with a little Michael Bublé and Charlotte Church thrown in for good measure), I am finally feeling the spirit of the season. Hooray! I hope you are, too.

This month/year/two years has really been an exercise in letting go for me. So many unexpected things have happened to me and my family over the past few months and years that I never dreamed we’d be dealing with at this point in our lives that I have had to practice the art of letting go more than I want to admit. Let’s be clear: I am a control freak. Ask JB (or anyone else who has met me, really) and they will tell you that I am a girl who gets things done and wants to do it in my own way. I blame it on being one of five very strong-willed children. We are all do-ers and independent do-ers at that!

Point is, I hate The Unknown. H.A.T.E. Yes, I am going to use the word hate because it really is something I hate with a fiery passion.

I know exactly what is in my refrigerator and what I’m having for lunch today. I know how far my runs are and approximately how many minutes it takes me to run to my favorite entrance of Central Park (9 minutes, 15 seconds appx). I know what time the bathrooms open and close on the East River and which ones are likely not to have TP. I know how long the M15 express takes me to get to my specialist and what time I have to leave for work during rush hour on the subways. I know exactly how much money is in my bank account and how much dinner will cost tonight, depending on what I’m making, and what time I am going to bed tonight.

I make it my job to know stuff. Lots of stuff. It makes me feel safe. Knowledge is power, right?

Thus, I HATE The Unknown.

Maybe that’s why curve balls seem to fly in my general direction on a regular basis.

You see, there’s no way of knowing how my stomach will feel day to day or hour to hour.
There’s no way of knowing if the meds me/everyone else is taking will work and we will all survive these diseases.
I have no way of knowing whether or not this weekend will be success and things will get back on track or if it will be a disaster and things will continue to suck.
I don’t know what my Physics grade will end up being.
I don’t know if any of the schools I applied to will ask me in for interviews.

I don’t know a lot of things. And anything can happen, which is why I’m terrified of The Unknown.

And then something magical happens. The Unknown turns out to be awesome.

That terrifying moment when you realize things could go spectacularly to pieces and then it all works out for the better? That’s The Unknown, too. And that Unknown is what has taught me to embrace The Great Unknown and let go of trying to control it all.

I am no zen master and I am still a ridiculous control freak, but I’m getting better. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Getting better. Getting better at letting go. Getting better about giving 110%. Getting better at doing scary stuff. Getting better at living life, not just surviving life.

So, there. I’m getting better at not freaking out about The Unknown.

So, Unknown, you are what makes it BTAT today. I will embrace you (not too close, we’re still getting acquainted) but only because sometimes you turn out to be kinda awesome. And, let’s face it, I really don’t have much to complain about because no matter what you’ve thrown my way, it beats the hell out of the alternative.

Now go out and run!