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.
(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.
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.