Being Sick is a Workout of It’s Own

This past Sunday, I got all home-ec and baked my boyfriend a banana loaf. It’s a really easy recipe that’s comprised of bananas, peanut butter, some spices, quick oats, and a hint of love. I do it for him every so often.

Uncover Ostomy Cooking Fail

(I know how to bake, I swear!)

I don’t usually eat any of the goods I bake for him, but as soon as this loaf came out of the oven, the smell engulfed me in deliciousness. I also happened to be really hungry… So, it couldn’t hurt to have a piece of it, I thought, right? I’ve been confined to only eating soft foods for months now, but this loaf counts as soft.. yeah? Sure it does – it’s just mush, I told myself.

So I took a bite or two or three. And yeah, maybe I ate like 1/3 of it. But it was delicious and so worth it.

The next day, I woke up at my usual 6am to get ready for my Insanity workout (which, I’m currently halfway through my 2nd last week!). Got dressed, turned on the video, and started the warm up jog.

But something wasn’t exactly right.

I was exhausted only minutes into the workout.

Yeah, it’s a hard workout, but it’s not that hard. Maybe it was just an off Monday?

I kept pushing through the workout as I slowly started to realize that my stomach was hurting and I was starting to cramp. These cramps, however, weren’t cramps that were strong enough to get me to stop working out, but more of like a lingering annoyance that threw me off my game. Turns out the oats in the loaf were a baddd idea. So bad.

But it wasn’t the cramps that were making the workout hard, but the fact that my entire body and every ounce of strength I had was focused on the pain in my gut. I was exhausted.

And then it hit me - being sick is a workout of it’s own.

As I mentioned, the past little while, I’ve been confined to eating only soft foods because my stomach isn’t such a fan of anything fibrous, right now. Since I discovered this change in my body, I’ve been pretty regimented in my diet, making sure to stick to lots of nut butters, coconut milk, protein shakes, etc. On this diet, I feel no pain and can continue my life as normal. It’s not the greatest, but it keeps me going.

Uncover Ostomy on a diet

It wasn’t until this Monday that I started getting cramps from eating something I shouldn’t have while trying to exert myself that I was reminded how much effort our body puts towards fighting what’s wrong. It was actually overwhelming. It was hard to move, hard to breathe, hard to do anything at all.

My body had one goal –  to get rid of the pain, and no matter what, that’s all it was going to do.

I was only 11 when my Crohn’s disease took over every inch of my body, and at that time, the flare up came so quick and so fast and so strong, that it was hard to measure my exhaustion against doing anything else, because I couldn’t have done anything else if I tried. It wasn’t until I was 13, and had my ostomy surgery, that I was able to rebuild my life and my pain remained at bay – I never really had to battle too much sickness with trying to live my life.

Thankfully, the stomach pain I had on Monday disappeared relatively quickly (I was lucky) and I was able to carry on as normal. But all I could think about, for the rest of the day, was “what if?”

What if my pain had not gone away that day, or the next, or a week or month later. What if my body was fighting itself so hard that was too tired to think strategically about the work I was doing? What if I couldn’t carry on with the simplest of job tasks, or even manage my walk to work? What if I was too exhausted to take a shower or even get dressed?

These aren’t such crazy things to think –  I’ve been there once before. 

This little incident snapped me back to reality and reminded me just how overwhelming Crohn’s disease, and any chronic illness, can be.

Ok, so yeah, maybe next time I won’t eat half a banana loaf, and maybe next time I’ll stay far away from oats. But in the meantime, I’m going to push hard through my workouts every day that my body will let me. One day, I may not be able to.

Uncover Ostomy can't workout

I am Insane

My ass hurts.

And not in the, “I’ve had to sit on the toilet forever because of Crohn’s Disease” hurt, (many of you know what I mean, sigh) but the “I’ve exercised my ass off ” hurt.

Every morning at 6am, my boyfriend and I roll out of bed, get on our workout clothes… and DIE. Then, every night, we roll into bed at 10:30pm and pass the EFF out.

We’re doing something called 60 Days of Insanity  and now, on month 2, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHY.

No, I’m lying. I remember. My boyfriend decided one day that he wanted to get back in shape and, obviously, being the keener I am I said, LET’S DO IT TOGETHER.

Insanity is this workout thing that is kind of gimmicky in the way that it’s like an as-seen-on-tv type deal, but the boyfriend said he had heard good things about it, already had the plan, so it was more like, sure, why not?

I have never sweat so hard in my life.

In fact, I barely ever sweat. I can run on the treadmill for, like, 20 minutes and kind-of-sort of see some beads on my face.

Insanity? I am merely existing in my own pool of BODY TEARS.

 

Uncover Ostomy Insane Insanity Workout

But you know what? It’s working.

Part of the program schedule is that you have to do a fit test to measure your improvement. My first test? A JOKE. I could barely do anything and kind of felt embarrassed and lazy and a little frightened at how hard it was. But, again, being a keener, (and incredibly stubborn), I wasn’t going to give up.

Now, being in month 2, and after my 3rd fit test, I have seen like 50% improvement and I’m not even lying.

I know, I know – why the hell am I doing an INSANE workout every day when I am still struggling to eat? Yeah, ok I can’t really consume that much real food, lately. (Yes, that was written in April, and nothing has changed…) It sucks that I can’t really eat normal food, but I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of the rest of my life, you know? So, I’m surviving on nut butters, coconut milk, and nutritional shakes? I am still working more than full-time (my regular job, plus a new business, and UO), running a household, seeing friends, etc. – Why should my workout schedule be any different?

Yes, there have been some days that have been slightly more difficult than others. I’ve had to stop, sit down, breathe, and make sure I don’t hurt myself. I know when my body is being pushed just a bit too far, and I make sure to give it a rest. I am also keeping track of how much I am eating (even though there isn’t much variety to it) to make sure I have consumed enough calories to leak out of my sweat glands. Guys – half a jar of peanut butter has enough calories. Trust.

My mother thinks I’m crazy and is obviously worried about me in her normal mom way (and I love her for it), but I’ve never let my disease or ostomy or anything hold me back before, so why would it now? Exactly.

I think the best part of this whole story isn’t just that I can workout, but the reason behind why I am actually writing this post.

Yes, I am doing Insanity and wanted to tell you all that you can work out hard, even with a chronic illness and with an ostomy. And yes I would be telling you about my workout, no matter what. But the specific reason I am writing this post and mentioning Insanity as my workout of choice is because Insanity asked me to. 

Yes, the brand representatives saw that I was doing the workouts and asked me to share my story with you guys, and with the media. They asked me to help them not only talk about Insanity, but to actually talk about how our community can literally do anything (because, why couldn’t we?!)While I’m mentioning Insanity in this story, it’s not the main point.

The main point is us.

If a girl, with an ostomy bag, and a chronic illness, who can’t eat real food is doing Insanity, YOU CAN TOO!

(Ok, sorry, went a little “as-seen-on-tv” there, for a second.)

A quick side note here, that I need to add in as my own disclaimer is that, as you all know, I never went to medical school (despite my parents wishes), and I am not someone who can tell you that this workout will work for you. It might not. It might be horribly awful for you. But that’s the way it is with every workout – you have to find what works. For me? This type of workout (High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT) is what seems to work for me, but it may not fit right for you. The moral of the story is not which workout you are doing, but the sheer fact that you can do it.

We can do it.

We are doing it.

And I am going to keep doing it…

Today’s INSANITY before & after. Before: Omg why? After: Dead #workout #insanity #health #fitness #fitspo #uoworkout

A photo posted by Jess Grossman (@jessgrossman) on

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While many of you are most likely (probably) not as intense as I am, I know many of you still work hard to keep fit. I’d love to know what you find works for you and your body. Maybe it’s running, maybe it’s lifting weights, maybe it’s playing rec sports or doing yoga. There are many others out there with ostomies and chronic illnesses who never thought they could exercise (trust me, I get messages about this all the time!), so it would be great to hear about the ways that work for you. Comment below, on the FB post, on tweet at us @uncoverostomy, or post a fun pic on Instagram using #UOworkout.

Crohn’s With a Side of Weirdo

A little while ago I saw on my Facebook newsfeed that my mom was attending her high school reunion.

“Wait” – I thought.

“Are these still a thing?” – I thought more.

“It’s been more than 10 years since I graduated from my elementary school.. did we have a reunion?”

And if we did have one – am I even surprised I wasn’t invited? Not really. 

I didn’t have a lot of friends in elementary school.

Uncover Ostomy No Friends

I was a weird kid, growing up.

And yeah, we were all “weird” when we were kids, but I was really weird. I went to a private school where most of the kids came from well-to-do families, had mom’s who knew how to dress them (sorry mom – but you did not know how to dress me), and were all a part of the the same after school programs and summer camps that I was not. Once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I only got weirder.

(What am I wearing??)

Uncover Ostomy What am I Wearing

As we all got older, the kids in my grade noticed that I was a big weirdo and they never really wanted to be my friend. I mean, we were friendly, and I’d get invited to birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, etc., but I’m pretty sure it was only out of courtesy. Most of the time I would get invited, I was too sick to want to participate, and would sit by myself.

As I got older, and my Crohn’s started to get worse, I could see the kids in my grade slowly become closer and closer, while I sat on the sidelines watching, usually in pain, or just exhausted from not sleeping the night before. By the time I realized I needed to participate in the same things that they did – it was too late. I was the awkward turtle in a group of bffs4eva.

There was one girl with whom I got close with, however, she moved back to Israel the week before my Crohn’s flared up and I ended up in the hospital for the better part of 2 years after.

It was when I was in the hospital for more than a month that I realized I didn’t really have any friends. I had family members visit all the time, but I didn’t see anyone from school. Yes – I got the standard card signed by all the kids in my grade, but that was an obligation set forth by our teachers. I also received a giant “Get Well Soon” cookie from them, but I couldn’t eat it (duh, Crohns!!) – so that was fun.

Uncover-Ostomy Get Well Soon Cookie

There were 2 girls that came to visit, but one was too afraid to stay in the room because of all the tubes and machines around me, so she left quickly. Another one came because her mom and my mom were friends.

In the 2 years that I spent in the hospital, I was pretty much alone.

I came back to school after my ostomy surgery, heavy and bloated from steroids, tired and exhausted from not having been able to move for 2 years, and a stranger to the kids who, within those 2 years, had all found and solidified their social groups. I finished out my last year at school (grade 8), waiting to move on to my high school – a school where I wasn’t going to know anyone. A fresh start, right?

Maybe elementary school reunions aren’t a thing. Maybe people don’t really care about reuniting unless you knew them in high school. So maybe, in 2 years, when it’ll be 10 years since I graduated high school, there will be a reunion for that. Will I be invited to that one? I wouldn’t be surprised if I was not

After having spent 2 years in the hospital, isolated from anyone my age, my weirdness grew exponentially. I had forgotten how to act in social situations, I still looked like an alien from the steroids which had not yet left my system, I was overweight because I could finally eat again (and eat I did!), and I still didn’t know how to dress, even though I could choose for myself (the hospital pyjama style doesn’t quite transfer over to high school). I quickly realized my fresh start was not going to be what I had hoped it would.

Uncover Ostomy PJs

Somehow, not only was I that weird kid that couldn’t make friends, but I was an easy target for bullies. Being weird looking, awkward, overweight, and not dressing properly tends to encourage that. (Note: I have no pictures of this because I have tried to burn or erase them ALL.)

One girl, whom I had a few classes with, metaphorically extended out her hand in friendship – she was one of the cool kids, so I thought this was awesome – great fresh start! However, only a few months later, I quickly found out she was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as she made up a fake email address and emailed me about how awful of a human being I was. She blamed another girl as the culprit until a few weeks later she finally, without remorse, admitted it was her. It wasn’t hard to figure out she also talking about me behind my back.

There was also a few guys in my grade who thought I was an easy target to pick on to make themselves seem cool. One guy in particular found any and every excuse to make snide remarks to me, or about me, loudly, in front of the class. Sometimes, his remarks would get us both kicked out of the classroom.

Uncover Ostomy Teen Years Hell

Eventually, I did make some great friends (whom I’m still friends with today!) but even with those friends, I was still the target of abuse and harassment from others.

While my main Crohn’s symptoms had subsided, the lingering much less talked about symptoms of social awkwardness, water bloating, and not being able to dress well with an ostomy contributed the my weirdness and the accompanying difficulty in making friends.

Whenever you hear about “Crohn’s” you think: stomach pain, weight loss, bleeding, etc.

No one really talks about these other symptoms, whether it be for Crohn’s or any other chronic illness.

These social symptoms are real. These social symptoms can be harmful.

I know they were for me.

Luckily, by the time I reached university I had lost the weight, I figured out how to talk to people, and learned how to dress with my ostomy. It was then surprisingly easy to make friends. Somehow, I even managed to get accepted to a sorority and, eventually, become president.

How things can change.

Uncover Ostomy President

A few weeks ago, I went out for dinner with one of those high school friends and another girl whom I hadn’t seen in years (and was always a sweetheart) was there. We reminisced about our days in high school, and I mentioned how mean some people were to me. She looked at me, paused for a second, and said “Yeah, you’re right. People were really hard on you.” And neither of us had any idea why.

I don’t have a lot of friends now. I have a few whom I adore and who would, and have proven, that they would do anything for me. These friends I will always keep close. Actually, I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Right now, my Crohn’s is preventing me from eating real food, eating anything after 4pm, and drinking alcohol, which obviously impacts my ability to partake in social situations like dinner outings and going to the bar. Luckily, the friends whom I have now completely understand and still hang out with me. Sometimes I have to insist that it’s not weird to go out for dinner while they eat and I sip on a diet coke, but they eventually agree.

Even though I know how lucky I am to have friends who understand what I’m going through, my past experiences with bullying and harassment have taught me that, if need be, I can be ok on my own.

For that, I’m grateful.

Do I think my Crohn’s was to blame for my troubles making friends? It definitely had an impact.

Maybe if I hadn’t been so ill and isolated for as long as I was, my childhood would have been different. Maybe my weirdness would have disappeared much sooner and these kids in elementary school would have wanted to be my friend. Maybe, if I hadn’t had been so socially awkward and overweight in high school, kids would have approached me to hang out, and not looked at me as a human target for ridicule.

Or maybe not.

I guess I’ll never know.

But I’m happy with the way it all turned out.

Since my elementary school and high school days, I’ve come into contact with these kids – now adults. Some have been very nice, acting as though they had never been mean to me at all.  Some have acted as though they don’t remember that they didn’t like me. Some, however, are for no reason at all, still rude to me when they see me at a bar, or event. If the situation calls for it, I always politely say hello and chat with them, also, as if nothing happened.

After all, we’re grown up, now.

Deep down, while I’ve forgiven for the damage that was done, I will never forget how I felt. I will always be the weirdo who got picked on, bullied, and ignored.

But, as I always say – if I could go back and change it, would I? No way. Those times were just another part of my history that shaped me into who I am today.

And I kind of like who I am today. Weirdo, or not.

Uncover Ostomy Kick-Ass

Mom Level 11

Mom; noun

1. A beautiful and rare creature that picks you up when you fall down, feeds you soup when you’re feeling sick, and nags you to wear a sweater when it’s cold.

Maybe my definition of mom is a bit specific.

But, in some shape or form, I think all of us have mothers – biological or adopted – who fit into this definition. Whether they stay at home to make sure our lunches are healthy, our beds are made, our soccer jerseys are washed, and our homework is done, or they work long hours to make sure there is food for lunch, a bed for us to sleep in, clean clothes to wear, and a chance at a good education – mom’s put their wants and needs aside to take care of us.

Sure, sometimes mom’s can be naggy, invasive, and embarrassing (see crazyjewishmom or my grandmother, (mom’s mom) who has since passed but whom I miss dearly, but could have been “Crazy Jewish Mom”.) Sure, they may make us want to pull out our hair, scream at the top of our lungs, or hide under the bed. And sure, sometimes they think act like they know everything – but 100% of the time they are doing what they do because they love us.

If mom’s could be rated on a scale of 1-10, they would all be a 10.

Mom level 10.

But there’s a special class of moms. Moms who surpass the scale.

Mom level 11.

These are the mothers of kids with chronic illnesses.

Moms with sick kids are a whole other category of mothers. They take on all the responsibilities of moms at level 10, with an additional level of anxiety, stress, fear, and worry.

My mom is definitely a mom at mom level 11.

Whether she was peeling strawberries for me to eat, because I couldn’t eat the seeds on my special Crohn’s diet, or she was waking up at the sounds of my whimpers and lying beside me when I couldn’t sleep because of the pain, or when she’d come sit with me when I was in the hospital on her lunch breaks from work so I wouldn’t be alone – my mom did it all, while still working a full-time job and having to be a mom to my little brother.

Level 11.

The thing about mom level 11 is that it never ends. Even now, with my Crohn’s kind of maybe not but maybe in remission, my mom still keeps an eye on me. She bugs me to email my doctor, or checks in on what I’m eating, or how much I weigh, or just how I’m feeling. She’s always worried about me, even though I’m 25!

I’m really lucky to have her in my life.

Well, actually, I’m extra lucky.

I have another mom at mom level 11 in my life who also keeps tabs on my health.

My grandmother (my dad’s mom), who she herself is also the mother of a kid with a chronic illness.

From what I’ve been told, a long time ago, my uncle struggled with stomach pain for a while, but doctor’s kept telling him and my grandmother that nothing was wrong. Knowing full well that something was, in fact, wrong, my grandmother continued to pressure doctor’s until they finally were able to diagnose him with Crohn’s when he was 13 years old. She not only had to take care of her young sick son and all the symptoms and struggle of Crohn’s, but she also had to maintain a household and a business and 3 other children.

And then me. She had to worry and stress alongside my parents while I suffered from the same disease she had seen her son suffer from for most of his life.

She might actually be a mom level 12.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but there is a good chance I, myself, will also be a mom to a kid with a chronic illness. That scares me to death.

At this point, I can barely see myself being able to reach mom level 10. Babies cry and I give them right back to where they came from. I hardly have enough hours in the day to get everything I want to get done, now – how the hell will I have any time when there are kids in my life? I mean, my boyfriend gets sick and I can barely handle him whining on the couch!

If I struggle to imagine having to take care of a healthy tiny human, how am I supposed to take care of a kid who can’t eat, can’t sleep, who is in unbelievable pain and is on the brink of death?

I honestly do not know how my mother and grandmother were able to do it. Or how they can still do it.

But they did and they are and they will continue to do so.

At least I know that when I do have kids, and if my kids are kids with chronic illnesses, I’ll have amazing role models to look up to.

You are both the strongest people I know. I love you both so much <3

A photo posted by Jess Grossman (@jessgrossman) on

 

Dear CDC…

Dear CDC,

My name is Jessica Grossman.

In my 25 years of life, I’ve tried to live as healthy as possible.

I watch my diet.

I exercise

I take vitamins.

I don’t really drink.

And I certainly do not smoke. 

But I have an ostomy.

For reasons completely out of my control due to Crohn’s Disease, at the age of 13 years-old, I was told that my disease was going to kill me unless I had life-saving ostomy surgery. 12 years later, I’m alive.

Uncover-Ostomy-12-Year

I get it.

You want people to quit smoking.

I do too.

Smoking is gross.

It’s bad for you.

My grandmother died from smoking.

But you’re doing it wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

And I’m here to call you out.

I’m here to enlighten you on something you really should already know. You are a major health organization, after all..

Centre for Disease Control, this video that you put out, featuring a woman named Julia, is what you think is the perfect way to scare people out of smoking.

I’m not entirely sure, but I assume that you, Julia are a real person with this real story. But, Julia, if this your real story, I am saddened for you.

You had colon cancer due to smoking and you needed an ostomy.

But what you said in this video, Julia, to be honest, shocked me. You said:

“I had chemo and 2 surgeries, but what I hated the most was the colostomy bag.”

I’ve never experienced chemo myself, though I have witnessed many others go through it (including my father) and it looked horrendous. Losing hair, weight, being weak, nauseous, anemia, infections, … were all not as bad, you say, as being alive with an ostomy bag.

No, I’ve never had chemo.

But I have had those side effects as symptoms of my Crohn’s.

Losing hair and weight? Check.

Nausea and anemia? Check.

Infections? Check.

I am not comparing what I went through to having chemotherapy, but I still find it hard to believe that an ostomy bag is worse.

And you, the CDC, you chose to highlight this. You chose to highlight that no matter how horrendous chemo is, an ostomy bag is worse. 

The campaign continues, with another, longer video from you, Julia. Here you give a bit more detail into what life is like with a bag.

It turns out, you only had a bag for a year. It’s sounds like that was a sad year for you. I’m sorry it was.

“I didn’t want to be around anyone.” You say. You say this because you were worried the bag would come loose and it would smell. You had gas and cramping and you say you were essentially “stuck at home.”

Julia, the only time I’ve ever been stuck at home was during the time I was sick with my disease. My bag rarely ever comes loose, and thanks to my healthy diet, it doesn’t even smell. Gas and cramping? My boyfriend has more of that than I do. He smells worse, too.

Julia, maybe you didn’t know we were out there – others with ostomies who could help you. Others who live meaningful and enjoyable lives. Lives that, without an ostomy bag, would not exist.

I can’t blame you, though, Julia.

It’s hard to find us. It’s hard to find the positive light hidden within our ostomy bags. You know why, Julia?

Because of organizations like the CDC.

Yes, CDC, because of you.

As your mandate states:

“CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.
CDC increases the health security of our nation. As the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.”

Saves lives.

Yeah, there’s a part in there that says you work to save lives.

CDC, do you realize that what you’re doing is completely contradictory to your mission?

Yes, you’re working to stop deaths related to smoking. But in return, you may actually be increasing deaths that could be avoided with ostomy surgery.

1 in 200 people in the US have some form of IBD. If it gets out of control, IBD can lead to the need for ostomy surgery. Without ostomy surgery, IBD can lead to death.

And this 1 in 200 number is just those with IBD.

Not those with colon cancer.

Not those with diverticulitis.

Not those who had traumatic accidents that need the surgery to make it through the night.

Ostomy surgery is a weird surgery. While in some cases it’s an emergency procedure like during an accident, in most cases, it’s elective.

Mine was elective.

I was literally given the option to choose between ostomy surgery or death.

And many other people are given this choice, too.

But they aren’t getting a chance to make a rational decision.

They are clouded with misconceptions and misguided notions.

Because of campaigns like this, the negativity surrounding ostomy surgery continues on.

Because of campaigns like this, many people are choosing to struggle through their disease instead of having ostomy surgery.

Because of campaigns like this, many people may choose to die.

Because of you CDC.

In the meantime, I’ll continue what I’m doing over here.

I’ll continue to spread positive ostomy awareness wherever I go. I’ll continue to visit patients faced with the decision to have ostomy surgery and help them make that rational decision. I will continue blogging about how lucky I am to be alive because of surgery. And I’ll continue to call out organizations like you.

In the meantime, CDC…

FU CDC

Love,

Jess.

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I’m supporting the UOAC in their efforts to get the CDC to remove the campaign. I have signed their change.org petition, and you should too.

It’s a Love-Hate Relationship

The sun shines through your window as a new day breaks. You open your eyes and you roll over. It’s your first thought as the day begins.

Thinking about being together again.

Then, as the day goes by, you start to question it. You gave in. You wonder why you did because you know you shouldn’t have. Your whole body regrets it.

The love-hate relationship.

I’m currently in a love-hate relationship. A relationship that, when it’s good, it’s really good. Every moment we spend together fills me with joy and happiness. But when it’s bad, it’s really bad and it hurts everywhere.

My love hate-relationship has been going on for years.

What relationship is this, you ask?

My relationship with food.

Relationship with food

I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with food for a very long time. We’re one of those couples who met a really long time ago and started out as friends. We’ve had many ups and downs – lots of fights where we just can’t agree with each other. Some great times too, when the comfort overwhelms me. We have such a history that we keep finding our way back together, no matter how difficult things get. No matter whom, or what gets in our way, we always find our way back to each other.

But right now, we’re broken up.

For some reason, myself and food have just not been getting along. As I wrote recently, we broke up for a bit – for over a month, until my doctor helped us work things out. I gave food a chance, and it seemed like we were getting along fine for a little while after.

A few weeks ago, however, food stabbed me in the back again – and at the worst possible time.

I woke up early one Saturday to get to the set for a new show I’m filming and felt very strange. Not having a choice, I headed to the filming location. Within 10 minutes of being there, we got into a huge fight and I began throwing up. I couldn’t stop for basically the entire day, while filming all of my most important scenes.

The director would say “ACTION,” I’d do the scene, the director would say “CUT,” and I would run to the bathroom to vomit. Then I would come back and start over again.

Uncover Ostomy - Love Hate Relationship - Food

Food is one of those illicit lovers who can make you feel amazing one instant, then horrible the next.

The feeling of eating something decadent and sweet, or sour and crunchy – those are some of my favourite feelings. Like any good lover, food can make you feel like you are the most important person in the world.

Uncover Ostomy love hate relationship food

But like any bad boyfriend, food can also take that all away. Not only can food ignite pain in my body from the inside out, but it has the ability to eat at my mind and make me feel like I’m worthless.

Having Crohn’s disease and an ostomy has required food and I to do things in our relationship that many others will never have to do. I’ve had to cut out stringy foods and foods with seeds to dairy to meat to essentially cutting out all food in general. I’ve been on almost every diet known to man to even not being allowed or able to eat anything at all. Because of this rocky road we’ve been down and continue to follow, it’s had both physical and psychological effects on me.

Effects that still haunt me today.

For those amazing faithful readers of mine who have been following me for years, you may remember the days when I used to complain about the love-hate relationship I had with one of my exes. I would blog over and over again about how we had gotten together after being friends for years, had broken up, then gotten back together, then broken up again, and then miraculously found our way back to each other before breaking up one last time.

It was exhausting.

But here I am, about 7 years later, and I find myself chatting with him on Facebook chat, seeing him at parties, and going out for with him for lunch (well – only tea for me) last week.

With my ex.

Why? Because we’re friends again. Really good friends, actually. Just like we used to be before we dated.

Which is crazy to think because if you remember how messed up our relationship used to be, you would have never thought that we’d ever want to look at each other again, let alone spend time together. But here we are – civil and getting along well.

This got me thinking that maybe there is a chance for me and food. Sure, things are rough right now and I’m unsure of where we might end up, but there may be a settling point where we can both get along, just in a different way. This is what I’m currently working towards. I’m taking that break from food, but trying a little bit of something here and a little bit of something there. Letting food in just enough to keep me going but not too much to bring me back down.

While there are still a ton of physical and psychological side-effects that food has given me, I think that if I work hard on mending our relationship in whatever form that may be, those will hopefully disappear.

Where our relationship will go in the next few weeks, months or years is unknown – but at least I know anything is possible.

Excuse me while we go work it out.

uncover ostomy love hate relationship food

I am Fine.

“Fine.”

By definition, the word means “in a satisfactory manner,” or, you know, that everything is OK.

We say it often. When someone, for instance, asks how we are.

“Oh, I’m fine.”

But what does the word “fine” really mean?

Many of you reading this might already be thinking – wait, fine does not always mean everything’s OK. In fact, does it ever really mean things are satisfactory?

As the sitcom formula goes, a guy does something, unbeknownst to him, that upsets the girl. He carries on with his day, until he realizes the girl is less than happy with his presence.

“Honey, something seems different. Are you ok?”

“Yes, I’m fine.”

“Oh, ok, great. Want to get some dinner?”

“NO. GO AWAY.”

End scene.

never do this.

Really.

I promise.

pinky swear

Trust me, I am not one of those women who just keeps things to herself and says she’s fine when she really just wants to punch her guy in the face. For real, my boyfriend can attest to that. If something’s wrong, I’ll say it. (Ok, as I’m writing this, he’s saying I’m lying. I DO NOT AGREE.)

Anyway.

There are a lot of women, and men too, who do this. Pretend like nothing’s wrong, while they’re really seething on the inside.

If no one has said this to you, before, I’m saying it now – playing the “fine” card, does not accomplish anything. All it really does is it makes things confusing and unnecessarily convoluted.

Just like my body has been doing.

Yes, my body is currently playing the “fine” card.

As I wrote a little while ago, I was having strange pain in my stomach. It was so bad that it stopped me from being able to eat, being able to exercise, and stopped me from being able to go out with friends. It was also such a weird pain that I couldn’t really tell what it was – and neither could my doctor. It was terrifying.

My body was attacking me from the inside and we had no idea why.

In an effort to reduce the pain and hopefully solve the problem, I went on a clear fluid/soft food diet for over a month and a half. I also had a number of uncomfortable and intrusive tests done to determine what the issue might be. After all was said and done, there was still no solution.

My doctor told me that because he couldn’t figure out what was wrong I should just try eating again and see what would happen.

I really missed food, so I thought I might as well try. The following 2 days the pain persisted. I still had no idea why.

Then, miraculously, on day 3, I ate a meal and did not feel a thing.

An hour later.

2 hours later.

10 hours later.

My body was completely fine. 

What the actual hell?!

My body had decided it was fine. 

Do I know why it was mad in the first place? No. Do I know what happened to make it better? No. Do I know when it will get mad again? No.

I have no idea what is going on inside of me. Not a single clue. And yet, somehow, on some random day, it decided that everything was A-OKAY and I could go along my merry way.

It would normally be at this point of the sitcom where the girl finally explodes and tells the guy everything that has been wrong for the past month, they talk, and eventually sort it out.

However, for me, I have no idea what was wrong, or if it will be wrong again in the near future.

While my mom and my boyfriend keep telling me that I should just be happy the pain is gone, there is a little voice in my head that keeps reminding me that it could come back at any time. You know, that same voice inside your head that reminds you to be careful what you say because you might piss off your girlfriend.

Guys, let me tell you, if that’s what you think when you’re around your girlfriend, the relationship is not going to last.

But I can’t break up with my body.

I’m stuck in a relationship with it.

For whatever reason it decides to be mad, whenever it decides to be mad, I have no control and no solution. I just have to ride it out until it decides that it’s over it.

So, for now, I am fine.

sigh

12 Reasons Why You Should Love Your Ostomy

HAPPY BAG-AVERSARY TO ME!

12 years ago, today, I had my ostomy surgery.

It’s not hard to believe that it’s been so long because, 12 years later, I can’t really remember what it was like to not have my ostomy. I’ve had my bag for so long that is has literally become an additional part of my body, as if I was born with it.

And 12 years later,

And I couldn’t be happier.

In celebration of today, I thought I’d write a little blog simply about why I love my ostomy, and 12 reasons why you could (and should) love your ostomy, too:

 

12. Because you can go on a roadtrip and not have to stop for hours

Uncover Ostomy Roadtrip

I don’t know about you, but if I plan properly (meaning I don’t eat a giant 3 course meal), I can go for hours without needing to pull over at a rest stop during a long roadtrip. As long as I’m wearing the right pair of pants, I’m always the last man standing.

11. Because it’s an excuse, for everything

I don’t always use my ostomy as an excuse to get into/get out of something, but sometimes, the situation just calls for it!

“Ma’am, you can’t bring those snacks in here”

*flashes ostomy* “I need them because of this!”

“I – uh- ok..”

Uncover Ostomy confused face

*walks in without looking back*

10. Because you can eat things you couldn’t eat when you were sick with Crohn’s/Colitis

While I still have restrictions because of my ostomy (and because I’m still lactose intolerant, etc.) I am able to eat things the doctors always told me to avoid, pre-surgery. Aka a salad, an apple, or even popcorn at the movies!

Uncover Ostomy popcorn at the m

9. Because you can usually always remember what you ate the night before

“Oh yeah, I had popcorn at the movies. And blue Gatorade…”

Uncover ostomy jon stewart popcorn

If you don’t get the joke, drink some blue Gatorade and get back to me.

8. Because it allows you to exercise, play sports, and get back outside!

When I was sick, I could barely move, let alone work out or play sports. I was weak, tired, and in pain. With my ostomy, I am now healthy enough to get outside, get fit, and get my sexy back.

Uncover ostomy workout

7. Because you can drink without getting a hangover

Ok, so this may not apply to all (and don’t get mad at me if it doesn’t work for you…) but if I time myself properly, I can drink, get buzzed, and get sober all within the same night! It just goes right through me. I wake up feeling perfectly fine the next morning, while my friends… not so much.

My-Talent-Lies-In-Drinking-Gif

Amen, sista.

6. Because you’ve always got a story to tell

This one time, I was walking through airport security…

Uncover Ostomy airport security

5. Because you have a plethora of jokes attached to your stomach

Whenever I walk through airport security…

Uncover Ostomy airport security

4. Because you can have a Crohns or Colitis flare, stomach flu, or food poisoning, and you only have to get up half the time!

Sorry, this one is a little gross… yet accurate and convenient.

Instead of running to the bathroom every few minutes like I used to when I was sick with Crohn’s or whenever I’ve had food poisoning, I can now sit back and relax while my ostomy handles it for me, for a little while.

Uncover ostomy sit back

3. Because it helps you get rid of assholes

PUN INTENDED.

But actually.

When you open up about your ostomy, you are opening yourself up to another person or a group of people.

If that other person, or those people, can’t accept you for how strong you are for making it through surgery, for how brave you are for opening up to them about the surgery, and how awesome you are for living your life in a completely different way, then they suck and you need to get rid of them.

Without the ostomy, you may not have seen their asshole side until it was too late.

Uncover Ostomy bridemaids swag

SEE YA LATER, ASSHOLE.

2. Because it helps you find amazing people

While opening up about an ostomy can shed light on the people you want to get rid of, it can also show you just how special the other people in your life really are.

The people who can look deep into your soul and appreciate you for who you are, what you’ve gone through, and what you’re continuing to go through with your ostomy are the people we are meant to keep.

Uncover ostomy love

1. Because it makes you who you are – and you should be damn proud

12 years later, I couldn’t imagine who I would be today, without my ostomy.

It’s not because I believe that I am me because of my ostomy, but I believe that I am me because of what my ostomy has done for me.

It has taught me to accept myself for who I am, no matter what I’m made of (or missing!)

It has taught me to adapt to situations around me, whether it meant learning to eat differently, dress differently, how to swim, shower, or get intimate with an ostomy, or even how to adapt to opening up about what makes me different.

It has taught me to be brave, by preparing for, having, and making it out of surgery to tell the tale to those around me and around the world.

It has also given me another chance at life, which would have been taken away from me from my illness. Without my ostomy, I would be dead.

So, with that, I’m busting out the candles.

Uncover-Ostomy-12-Year
Just because I can’t eat the cake, doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate!