This is my story about Crohn’s Disease. By no means is this blog about Crohn’s, however having Crohn’s is initially what got me running. So here is my story of the disease I love to hate.
Lets just break the ice here and proclaim this the sexiest disease ever. No? Anyone?
Now that we got the obvious out of the way, lets start at the beginning. It all began in the glorious summer of 2000. I went away to summer camp for a week and came home a new person…and I don’t mean that in a good way. For weeks after that trip to summer camp I had no energy, no appetite, intense put-you-in-the-fetal-position stomach pains, and *ahem* lived in the bathroom. I remember learning years later that my dad thought I had an eating disorder (thanks Dad ;)). I had quickly lost at least 10 lbs at the age off 11 and was looking scary skinny. Something was wrong and no one could figure it out. My pediatrician sent me home countless times with “strep throat” and no real answers.
Fast forward through the countless fun tests (barium swallow anyone?!) and I was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s disease that fall, the day after my 12th birthday. Happy birthday to me! Now here’s some prednisone kiddo, go eat some cake.
Over the next year, I was in and out of the doctors constantly, popping pills like candy, and looking like someone stuffed my face full of acorns. Ah, prednisone. If you don’t know anything about prednisone, I think this picture pretty much sums it up:
Yes, I was at the nice pre-teen age of 12 and sporting an adorable moonface at school. I remember someone coming up to me at school years later and bringing up how “fat” I was in 7th grade compared to currently…thanks bud, thanks. It had a lot of other fun side effects too (because what 7th grade girl doesn’t want to start growing facial hair?!) but ultimately played a huge part of getting my Crohn’s into remission. Over those first few years, I was hospitalized with a few fun Crohn’s “extras” (that blood transfusion was pretty neat!) but was finally able to get the disease under control for almost 7 years! Yippeeee!!
That is, until I went away to college and discovered the life of eating dining hall food, late night pizza and burritos, and Keystone Light. Those 4 years most likely play a big role in falling out of remission at the end of my college career. I started feeling the effects my senior year and decided to do a quick taper of steroids. I thought I would make it out moonface-free…I was wrong.
Disclaimer: This isn’t even close to how bad it was in 7th grade. You probably could have poked my face with a needle and I would have flown around the room like a balloon that was just let out of air. Did I mention how much I hate steroids? OK.
Over the last 2 years since graduating from college, I have been on an up and down Crohnie-coaster. I graduated, moved 9 hours away from home, got my first real big-girl job, and learned why my Mom was always complaining about those bills in the mailbox. You see, stress isn’t exactly the best thing for Crohn’s.
Let me just stop and say: Crohn’s disease is a part of my life, but I don’t let it rule my life.
I believe this is the most important thing for anyone with a disease, not just Crohn’s. Yes, there are plenty of nights I would love to be at the bar, having fun with other 20-somethings. However, I have learned to listen to my body over the years and know when to lay low & when I can go out and have some fun.
So this brings me to now. To running!
Back in September 2011, I joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, and months later was addicted to the gym. However, I really really hate doing cardio. Especially at the gym. When I initially hired my trainer, we sat down and talked about my “goals”. One of my goals was to run and finish a 5k. That seemed like such a far-fetched goal. 3 miles…was I crazy?! Growing up I loved gymnastics, volleyball, and softball, but was never a runner. Running during gym class was a punishment. Run a mile?! Are you trying to kill me?! Needless to say, I felt like 3 miles was a stretch.
January 2012 rolled around and I decided I’d better just sign up for a 5k or else I would never do it. I signed up for the Special Olympics 5k for February 25th with my friend Kelli. Plenty of time to prepare!
…Did I prepare? Nope. I went out about a week before the race and ran 2 miles and decided “OK, you’re ready”. I must have been feeling very confident with my 2 mile run because, 4 days before my first ever 5k, I signed up for a half marathon. Feeling a little confident there, Kayla?
Which brings me to my journey to the finish line! Because of my history with this sexy disease (and may I mention my mom, cousin, and good friend LH as well) I committed myself to running the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon on June 2nd with the Crohns & Colitis Foundation of America. I also committed myself to raising $2400 for the CCFA to help with research for new medications and hopefully a cure for Crohn’s & Colitis! Thanks to the love and support of friends & family, I have raised almost $3000 so far!
So that is my story of Crohn’s disease and how it brought me to the world of running!