A Life-Changing Diagnosis & 5 Ways to Cope

The question I get asked most often by friends and strangers alike is, “How did you know something was wrong?”

Please don’t use my experience in lieu of a doctor’s professional opinion. If you think something is wrong…go get checked out! 

Okay. Here’s my story:

Once upon a time in early Fall at a coffee shop on campus at The University of Texas at Austin in 2012, I began having excruciating stomach cramps. When I say the word excruciating, I mean excruciating. Unbearable. The BEST way I can describe the pain for the sake of being relatable…have you ever had a violent stomach virus? Multiply the frequency of your symptoms to several times a day and night, for weeks. Then you get me.

I excused myself a couple times over the duration of my brief meet-up with a friend at the coffee shop. “Guess I should switch the chai lattes to soy,” I thought to myself.

But the pain and the symptoms weren’t alleviated by omitting dairy. Within weeks even ice chips resulted in pain, followed by 10-15 wind sprints to the bathroom.
X rated version: I knew something was wrong when I noticed that my stools consisted almost entirely of blood, and nothing seemed to offer even a hint of relief (not even drinking imodium from a straw…not recommended, by the way). 

About a week and a half later, I made an appointment with University Health Services; they accommodated me quickly when I described my symptoms. They prescribed me high-powered antibiotics, which didn’t phase my symptoms. “Come back in 8 days for a follow-up.” I noticed that I had already lost twelve pounds when I weighed in with the nurse before my appointment.

I found a local gastroenterologist, without a referral from a professional. Something had to be resolved fast.

At the time I would wake up two hours before class began (after a night of restlessness because of constant stomach cramps and running to the bathroom), to ensure that I would arrive to class in time, allotting plenty of time for bathroom stops in the buildings on my way to class until I was finally able to make it to my class. I received permission from my professors to record their lectures during this time, because I would have to sneak out of class three or four times to be sick. This went on for a few weeks.

During my first appointment with the gastroenterologist, he scheduled a colonoscopy for the next day, and so began my life of poking, prodding, stool samples, blood samples, and biopsies. The prep juice wasn’t bad because I was pretty clear from shitting thirty times a day…still not entirely sure what the big fuss over colonoscopies is all about.

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THE DIAGNOSIS
After my colonoscopy the doctor read my diagnosis, “You have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. There’s no cure, but there are treatment options. You’ll be monitoring this disease for the rest of your life.”

Honestly, I was pretty certain that I was dying of cancer. When I was diagnosed, almost three weeks beyond my very first noticeable symptom at the coffee shop, I had lost twenty-five pounds. I looked like a bag of bones.  I was weirdly relieved to have “ulcerative colitis” as a diagnosis. Having answers makes all the difference.

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Taken two days before my scope at 102 pounds

(During this time I got recruited by Abercrombie model scouts on campus for a live audition. They were quickly educated…thanks to the prednisone and my lack of sleep.)

All that I had heard about “ulcerative colitis” was a brief overview in a pharmacology course, and I knew that Crohn’s was its cousin, both under the umbrella of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD)…not exactly enough for me to understand what the heck the doc was talking about. He explained that my immune system was hyperactive, recognizing even food as a foreign substance that needed to be expelled immediately.
Not cool, immune system. Not cool.
My body was rebelling against my colon. Why? Could be genetics, or the environment (e.g. toxins, antibiotics altering gut bacteria), or an interaction between the two.

“What can I eat?”

“Eat whatever you want. Since you’re a bit underweight, drink as much dark beer as you want. Eat burgers.”

^ Never made sense to me. UC is an autoimmune digestive disease in my gut, where most of the immune system is located, and I’m being told to eat whatever I want? Too good to be true. I knew immediately that dairy and beef physically hurt to eat, so I eliminated those. Next to go was processed meats and fast food, because no way are those beneficial. To my surprise there were still plenty of good options to eat, despite being in college and on a budget. Good food didn’t have to be expensive. I began researching which foods to eat to help with inflammation, since UC is an inflammatory disease, and I tried to eat more of those helpful foods: leafy greens, grilled fish, lean meats, and blueberries became my go-tos. And so began my interest in nutrition. I watched it help me, change me, and I dreamed of how it could help the people I love. Present day Stacey is in school again pursuing a dietetics degree.

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THE MEDS
After my scope, the doc handed me a paper folder full of info pamphlets and immediately prescribed me an IV biologic & immunosuppressant: Remicade. MANY people ask, “Why did you decide to be on such a high octane medication?” At the time I didn’t feel a like I had much of a choice. Looking back, I still would’ve agreed to such aggressive treatment, because I felt (and looked) like I was actually dying. It’s different for everyone, but for me it was serious at the time. I mean. I LOST OVER 25 POUNDS IN THREE WEEKS, PEOPLE.

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I remember my first infusion, walking into a dimly lit infusion suite with recliners bordering the walls, each with a patient hooked up to an IV pole. Some were asleep, others read books, flipped through their phones, and a few watched HGTV buzzing in the background on the televisions. Not all the patients had Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, some had rheumatoid arthritis, MS, and a host of other autoimmune conditions. This was the first time I realized that my life would not be the normal I remembered. I needed medication from an IV so I could live life like I remembered living. Weird.

Overnight, I felt like I had gone from being a normal, healthy, social college student to a smaller, weaker shell of myself: spending more time alienated by my symptoms; a more vulnerable person, more medicated, with less autonomy over my own health. I bought a pill pack from the pharmacy store that looked like the one my grandmother carried in her oversized old-lady purse, so I could keep up with my new lifestyle.

In addition, I was prescribed pain and sleeping aids (which I never took), along with a hefty dose of Prednisone, a corticosteroid. Jesus and steroids saved my life, and I honestly believe that. Prednisone was the only oral medication that seemed to ever work.
But I hated it.

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On the left: steroid-free! Right: “Moon Face” side effect in full swing after a flare, taken seven months apart

Steroids were great in college, because I felt very energetic (almost jittery) while taking Prednisone, so even on little sleep I was able to get a lot accomplished. However, the mood swings made me feel like a crazy pants to say the very least, so I avoid Prednisone at all costs today. I also like to sleep…and I have the hardest time sleeping when I’m on the ‘roids (disclaimer: not the same anabolic steroids that give you muscles…womp womp)

LIFE AFTER DIAGNOSIS
Slowly but surely, my energy levels began to creep back up to normal. I got my life back.  Sure, I had to make some adjustments here and there (still learning), but heyyy I’m alive!

I graduated with a pretty decent GPA, even with a hospital stay, despite my family’s pleading for me to take a medical leave of absence from college. I never asked for a project deadline extension. I honestly look back on this time in life and think, “How?” But I was in survivor mode. Don’t say “I could never.” You could. And you would.

I got into the working world, took some time to get a Crohn’s diagnosis, had a doc switch diagnosis back to “ulcerative colitis”, changed shifts, changed jobs, conquered anxiety, and got to know myself really well. Wasn’t glamorous, and wasn’t what I anticipated, but it’s okay! I’m okay.

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LEARNING TO COPE
1. Haters Gonna Hate
People will criticize you whether or not it’s warranted. I have been criticized for being a “pill popper”; for “taking the easy way out” with the infusion (that one is beyond me); for being “too stressed”; for not taking a medical leave of absence from college; for drinking beer; for the way I eat. People don’t mean to be as nasty as they can be sometimes; they simply don’t know your situation. I control as much as I can with diet, but I’m also human and sometimes I slip up or make conscious decisions to indulge. The meds help where nutrition cannot for me. My dream is to be 100% in remission with diet, but I’m not there yet. I can’t advise YOU if you were recently diagnosed on which course of action you should take. This disease is different for everyone. What works for one person may NOT work for another. It’s all about figuring out what works for YOU until there’s a cure. But shake off the negativity. You’re living with this- YOU are the badass.

2. Keep your people close
There will be people in your life who are with you during your diagnosis, and I don’t just mean the people who happen to be around. Who is WITH you? Who is there keeping you strong? These are the people you want around forever. For me that’s my sister, my college roommates, and my Zack. Story time 2.0:

One night in my apartment that I shared with friends, I was THE most physically ill I had been in my life, sick from both ends for hours and hours (pretty, huh?). I called Zack and begged him to come over. He spent the entire night on the phone with pharmacists, arguing with my doctor about medications, all while I slept on the bathroom floor in between being sick. Finally, around 4am, after much harassing Zack managed to get me some anti-nausea meds. My gawsh, the guy is a saint.

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 He fought with me. He went to bat for me. He never judged. He didn’t do good things for reward. He was just there, beside me, gutting it out with me. And so were my roommates. The BEST people I know.

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After Roommate Haley’s UT Graduation, the Spring after the diagnosis. We rewarded our girl bossery by finishing a sprint triathlon

I promised myself that if I ever had the energy again to move, then I would. Sounds overly emo, I know. But y’all. I really struggled with weakness for so long. So my roommate and I did this thing ^. Not pictured: Roommate Becca, still one of my greatest friends, probably drinking a mimosa at the finish while snapping this photo. 
KEEP YA PEOPLE CLOSE.

3. It gets better
There will be times when you think, “TF HAPPENED? I was doing so good! Where’d these symptoms come from?” This will pass. It will get better. You will prevail. You’ll come out stronger with every flare. You’ll live to tell about it, and you’ll develop a pretty damn good sense of humor from it, too.

4. Find your silver lining
There may be days when you shit yourself in your car while in traffic. It’s okay to cry about it, but then try to find some humor in that.  When you’re in a flare and EVERYTHING makes you sick, think about all the amazing Netflix you’ll be able to watch. “I won’t be able to do this when I’m better.”  Think about all the food you CAN eat. If none of those options work, recognize how this has changed your life. I wasn’t interested at all in nutrition before this disease, and now it is my life. I sho wasn’t going to run before UC, and now it’s my hobby.

5. You’re still you
You’re still you, but you’re more relatable. You’ve seen struggling, and SO.MANY.PEOPLE. are struggling. You’ve seen sickness, and SO.MANY.PEOPLE. are sick. You’ve seen recovery, and people NEED to find their strength to recover. Help them find it. See this as a weird superpower. This disease doesn’t define you, but if you let it, it will make you a better, bigger, badder, stronger, gassier(?) version of you. You’re still you, only better.

Please let me know how any unexpected life situations have changed YOUR life!  I’m with you. Solidarity!

Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey

OH! And have a great Monday! There is such a thing, I promise.

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Weekend Recap & Monday Motivation

Hope your Monday sucks less than most 🙂

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Soon after I finished my nutrition exam on Friday, Zack came in from work. “Grab the dog, and let’s go hiking! I bought beer.” <- The way to my heart.

I grabbed the dog, some EPIC brand snacks with some smart pop and an RX Bar, and off we went!

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We had to walk quickly because we were chasing the last bit of the sun that remained, but we loved the trails out at Lake Thunderbird! We were the only three out and about, and it was completely serene. We saw a ton of beautiful deer! Jaxon was thrilled to be exploring initially, but on the way back he planted his feet into the ground (how he says “I am so done”), so I picked him up to walk back to the truck. When we got home, we facetimed our longtime friend Pratik who is far away at med school. A perfect Friday, indeed.

Saturday was a lazy movie day with a side of Hello Fresh. The weather here was meh, so we lounged. It was wonderful.

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I made my meatloaf low FODMAP compliant by omitting the onion and gahhlic. Instead, I used some gluten free panko that I had on hand, plus the rest of the ingredients in the box that were low FODMAP. Zack’s meatloaf patty was made as directed, and he loved it!

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Normally, I hate meatloaf. Just ugh. It’s like fancy feast for humans, and I don’t like it. Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled about making this meal, but surprisingly it was delicious! Not your momma’s meatloaf- way, way better. I really enjoy sweet potatoes, so those were a hit.

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Sunday’s excitement was taking Jax to the park. He LOVED the walk there, but once we arrived he wasn’t sure what to do with himself and just looked extremely anxious. He’s such a little mess. Zack and I tried to swing, you know, like adults. Confession: the last time I was swinging in a park was on Christmas day. I tried to jump out of the swing and onto the ground, you know, like we all did as kids on the play ground. Only this time I had more weight and more momentum when I hit the Earth, and I face planted hard.

So. I didn’t swing much

Last night we had a hellacious thunder storm. I see you, Oklahoma. Hopefully tornado season will come and go quickly for this poor Texan soul…

Today I went to the doctor for a follow-up from my scope.

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My conversation with my doc was completely unproductive.

“When was your last scope?”

Um- three weeks ago…you performed it.

“Yes, right. What did we decide your diagnosis was?”

seriously, doc? …ulcerative colitis…also…my infusion isn’t working well.

“Yes, okay. We will check on that in three months.”

But it isn’t working…today.

“Right, but I want to see how you fare with the new oral medications, so we will check back in three months. Any questions? See you in three months.”

SIGH.

So here’s to fighting hard to be my own health advocate (it never ends, and no one can advocate for my health better than myself), and here’s to fighting even harder to move and run and get stronger. This disease can put a damper on life mentally and physically, but each time I push back against those limitations, I come out stronger. I win, every.single.time. This time is no different. I just have to keep fighting, and keep being brave.

I hope you can muster the strength to fight back and be brave against your own circumstances, too! You are bigger than your giant.

And you > Monday, too 😉

-Stacey

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Weekend Recap + GF & Low FODMAP PB Granola Recipe

Hi, Friends!

It’s been a minute. Last week was spent juggling phone calls with insurance companies and doctors in between naps. I’ve been flaring hard, running to the bathroom 16 times a day or so and fighting to stay hydrated, so I was begging for the insurance companies to comply and get me infused. One phone call, the representative asked if I had tried a “generic” brand of medication, one that was “less expensive and less of a hassle than an infusion.” I’m not sure who gave insurance company reps a license to practice medicine, but GAH THEY SUCK. Rant over.

Finally, on Friday.

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Four years on this medication, and it’s losing its efficacy, but I’ll go for an appointment next week to brainstorm more solutions. But I am still SO thankful that symptoms have slowed down a bit since. PRAISE!

My parents came for the day on Saturday, and we took them to Torchy’s Tacos. If you live in Texas, Colorado, or Oklahoma and you’ve never been to Torchy’s, you should re-prioritize your life to include Torchy’s. My dad was pretty stoked about it. Then, they kindly took a “family photo” of us with our little house before they left.

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After my parents left, we drove to the lake and watched the sun set. Perfect ending to a day.

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Jaxon was thrilled to do some exploring. The little deaf dog is doing better at obeying sign language.

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On Sunday, I made homemade granola while we watched a healthy dose of Netflix.

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The very best part about this recipe is that it’s Low FODMAP AND gluten free (AND delicious). Recipe at the end of this post :).

Sunday was capped off with a four mile walk/run. Isn’t campus beautiful? I went to UT Austin, so this is a very genuine compliment coming from a rival school, where football is blood and life (even though we have been strugglin’). Really though. Such a pretty place for a run.

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The first two miles were rough. Getting back into it felt like my lungs forgot how to give me enough oxygenated blood, and I literally saw stars from being dizzy once I made it to the top of some hills. I fully believe that the first couple miles are the worst part of running. I decided to walk/jog the two miles home. My body is still working to heal from this flare. It felt so good to be out on the pavement again, though. My happy place.

As promised…

PB granola recipe:

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If eaten in a quantity equal to or less than 1/4 C, it’s low FODMAP.
-2 tbsp coconut
-2 C gluten free old fashioned oats
-2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
-1 tbsp chia seeds

-1 tbsp pure maple syrup
-2 tbsp melted coconut oil
-1/2 C softened PB

mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then mix them together. Put them in the oven on aluminum foil for 30 minutes on 350, tossing occasionally. Ta-dahh! Granola. My personal favorite way of getting carbs in the early morning

Hope you are having a great Monday, or at least find comfort in the thought of tomorrow being Tuesday 🙂

Keep moving forward

-Stacey

 

 


My Diagnosis Change + Remix to Remission

Thank you for all the good ju-ju, prayers, and humor! I made it through the fun time colonoscopy just fine.

My diagnosis has changed.

The CT showed inflammation, and the colonoscopy confirmed that I have “active disease” but due to the location of the lesions and the biopsy, my new doc switched my diagnosis from Crohn’s disease to ulcerative colitis.

My family is all pretty stoked about this, because technically ulcerative colitis has less playing room than Crohn’s disease, which can affect any area of the digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis, however, is limited to the colon. This is, in a way, a small victory.

Weekend recap:

Zack and I had a few friends over. Then, I made piña coladas for everyone (except me), and my punny friend Becca proudly dubbed them “piña colitis”. I like her.

This was also the night I ruined my low FODMAP elimination diet and had to start over, because I ate chicken fried steak, fried pickles, and a few fried okra. It thought it was worth it, but now I’m kinda sad about starting all the way over. These are things to think about when chicken fried steak is staring you in the face. Just.Say.No. grr

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We went grocery shopping and found the largest carts known to man. Shoutout to my sweet sister and her BF for visiting!

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Reflections & Remission:

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One year ago, finish line at the NOLA Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon

This weekend a ton of people ran the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in New Orleans, and many of them fundraised for cures to Crohn’s and Colitis with Team Challenge for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. These people are my heroes!

And this got me thinking. I’m completely ready to move on, and I’m tired of having goals for tomorrow. I’m ready for action and hard work. I’m fed up with feeling fatigued. I get it. Sometimes getting better requires rest. But I’m tired of feeling tired. I want to be better. So, I’m starting with (very) small goals. This week, I’m running.

Yes, I’m past due for an infusion. Yes, I just spent all day juggling insurance phone calls with symptoms with naps. But I have to start moving again, for the sake of my sanity. I hear so often “listen to your body” and my mind is an important team member of my body. My mind needs a run.

Running mileage goals for the week: 3 miles.

I’m being real here. This is my space. This is my exhale. So, yes. Three small miles for a whole week are my goal.

One foot in front of the other. Moving forward. This is the remix to remission 🙂

-Stacey


Colonoscopy Prep: 6 Ways To Make it Suck Less

Hi, Friends!

I’m willing to bet your day has been exponentially more
fun than mine, although I do consider myself to be a chaser of silver linings and an eternal optimist…so it’s still a tossup.

Also, I am fully aware of how rainbows and unicornsy that sounds, but I’m unapologetically happy most days, eternally running through flower fields.

Today is prep day, and I don’t mean meal prep.

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Colonoscopy at 7am tomorrow at the new (for me) med center with a new doc. New places and people, but same dreaded prep juice.

So I’m talking about things that no one talks about today: Colonoscopies. I fully believe there would be cures nearly available for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and a host of other autoimmune diseases if they were easier to talk about. I’m not victim-blaming the patients; Disease and all its glam and glitz does stuff to your psyche. Being real about poop and achy joints and weight fluctuation and j-pouches and ostomys and stomas. ugh. Just tough stuff to talk about…
…unless you’re in the middle of a store with a “no public restroom” sign and you’re suddenly about to be sick  crap yourself uncontrollably. In that case you drop all your reservations at the door, announce to the store owner that you’re “about to be really sick and it is a medical emergency that you use their private bathroom,” and then you discuss having a “digestive disease” while you check out moments later. G-l-a-m-o-r-o-u-s. P.S. Can you please consider advocating for research while you hand me my receipt, even though I look completely normal like there’s nothing wrong with me at all, except for now you know that I have a digestive disease? Thanks 🙂

^Real life situation, by the way…happened on my honeymoon.

How to make colonoscopies suck less as told by a 20something year old:

1. Be creative. If your prep SUCKS (spoiler alert: It probably will), mix it with cold ginger ale or 7up. Your prep will say something like, “Mix with water.” Believe me, mix it with something carbonated, too. If you normally don’t drink sodas (neither do I), today isn’t a bad day to break that rule.

2. Listen to hype music if it’s your first time to chug prep. Don’t take it all solemn and serious. I suggest the classy ballad “shots” by LMFAO.

3. Ice chips, sometimes blended with a little bit of lime gatorade and fresh-squeezed lime juice isn’t a bad “meal” at all. Eat it with a spoon. mmm.

4. Water. Lots and lots. Just when you think you’ve had enough, maybe have a sip more.

5. Really hot showers. The stuff dreams are made of.

6. Netflix and chill. Enjoy this day for all that it is: a big ole rest day. Wear fuzzy socks.

Hope you’re having a good day, wherever you are!

Tomorrow, I’m going to have the biggest (low FODMAP compliant) taco I’ve ever SEEN.

Keep moving forward 🙂

-Stacey

Shoutout to Zack, who is the best a girl could ask for.


It’s the BUSIEST time of the year! AHH

I can honestly say, with complete confidence, that this is the busiest I’ve ever been in my life. Make it stop.

In the past month I have moved all my things to Oklahoma from Houston, finished my nonprofit job in Houston (today-  bittersweet), had a FUN bachelorette party, managed to find time to Christmas shop, juggled doctors (currently), got more lab work, got a marriage license…and I feel like there’s more. I can’t think.

OH. had a trial for hair/makeup. CHECK OUT MY FACE!

Shoutout to my talented makeup artist, Veronica, from Austin. She even let me play with her German Shepherd puppy during the session, which was worth the drive in itself. I asked her who her favorite celebrity clients were and she said, “Shakira! She complemented ME the whole time Oh. Drake was pretty nice, too.”
In case you didn’t know, I hang with Drake’s people. *hairflip*
It’s cool- we can still be friends.

Here’s a recap of my bachelorette party in the Big D:

All I wanted to do was go ice skating. I have an obsession with the sport of figure skating, so my college roomies (below) took me on Sunday after the festivities had died down:
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We had a snapchat filter THAT I DIDN’T SAVE. But we looked good, you get the point.
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I sang and danced on dueling pianos and was serenaded by a dozen bald men. It was sensational! Go to Louie Louie’s if you’re ever in Deep Ellum!!! Or make a trip especially for the experience. CRAZY FUN.

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My IV Crohn’s medication has been slowly losing its efficacy, but I can still get down. Hi, I’m embarrassing. But I can’t stop laughing at myself, so I probably won’t calm down anytime soon. Anyway, REALLY excited to meet with a Crohn’s specialist in OKC next week after Christmas.

Fun fact: Zack bought me the Nike Airs as “Honeymoon Shoes”. Not sexy shoes, like stilettos. Purple Nike’s. I’m honestly completely thrilled about them! Best honeymoon gift EVAH. We’re a little weird, and I’m happy to embrace it, Nike Airs and all.

I have been wanting to go on one final run in Houston, but with being “homeless” for over a week now and couch surfing…it has been tough to find the time. Last night I went to the Houston Zoo Lights to do Christmas festivities with friends, and I got my wish. I had to park in the Texas Medical Center garage, about a mile and a half away from the Zoo entrance. If you’ve ever lived in Houston, you know that the area surrounding the Zoo isn’t known for being pristine or safe, and the pedestrians are actual inhabitants of the area. So I ran from my car, in my santa shirt, in the dark, with my friend on speakerphone, through the medical center, across the open field adjacent to Ben Taub Hospital, across Cambridge (thanks to the Police Officer directing traffic), dodged strollers in Hermann Park, safely to the zoo entrance. It was exhilarating and entirely too hot of a run for a December night. My hair stuck to the back of my neck from sweat and humidity, and my jeans were tough to pull up around my waist from my sweaty legs pulling them down. I felt like it was a goodbye solute to Houston, and I liked that. I was happy. Bye, Houston! I won’t miss your awful traffic, but I’ll miss the diversity and melting pot of cultures. I’ll miss Memorial Park and Buffalo Bayou running trails, and I’ll miss the people I love there, most of all.

Hope you’re enjoying the holidays! SLOW DOWN and chill. Much love!

Keep moving forward 🙂

Stacey

P.S. December 23rd. 82 Degrees in Houston. That is all.


Bad Days; Good Life

Hi, friends!

It’s been a minute. To catch up:

I had my first dress fitting. I strategically selected matching underwear and even shaved my legs the night before because I was worried the seamstress would judge my prickly legs and mismatched undergarments (but really? who has time to match undergarments every day?). I packed my shoes that I’ll be wearing the day of the wedding, stuffed a pair of socks in the shoe box, and left work during the middle of the day drive to my fitting.

The seamstress fluffed my dress as I stood in front of a mirror, admiring my bridal self. I listened to time go by as the clock ticked away, my mom chatting away the background, and suddenly the room began ringing, my vision blurred, and I when I opened my eyes, I was on the cold tile floor.

Remember from childhood school plays when the sweet music teacher would kindly remind you, “Don’t lock your knees!” Homegirl knew what she was talking about, because I locked my knees too long and actually fainted during a dress fitting. My friends say “that’s the most Stacey thing I’ve ever heard.” Struggle City, USA.

So there’s that.

In other news
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My sister, my childhood friend Chazley, and I raised $1000 toward curing Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America’s fun, new event called Spin4. This was also my very first time attending a spin class, and I LOVED IT. Infectious high energy and an incredible sweat session (honestly, my favorite things) with fun music and a lot of fun = party on a bike for cures.
If you gave to our fundraiser, THANK YOU. I hope you know that you’re making such a big difference in making Crohn’s and colitis less crappy for our future, with more possibilities  than ever and maybe even cures one day. THANK YOU ❤

I excitedly drove to Cyclebar Katy this afternoon. I left my office an hour and a half early because I wasn’t about to miss a Throwback Thursday-themed spin class that was FREE!

But, Houston happened. I didn’t make it there in time, even though it’s only a 20 something mile drive and I left AN HOUR AND A HALF EARLY.

So I turned around and drove back to downtown. Then I had and x-rated Crohn’s moment known to human kind in the middle of I-10  traffic (oh, and infusion day was last week, so that’s not really a thing that’s allowed to happen, but Stacey’s body does whatever the eff it wants).

Then I got home, sanitized myself, my clothes, my bathroom, my car, and drove to Kroger where I happened upon the loudest shopping cart known to man and cried my way to the Cheerios, my comfort food.

I thank God for Zack, because I had mega feel-sorry-and-woeful-for-myself moments while in the produce section, but he reminded me that I’m going to do the things I set out to do. I have crazy goals, but I also have ridiculously strong will-power and even though Crohn’s can cause speed bumps and detours and make me sad, life outside of Crohn’s can still be conquered, one step at a time.
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In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t always handle bad days gracefully. Sometimes I cry and worry about if I’m capable of accomplishing all that I want. “Does this mean I can’t be a registered dietitian and will need to quit school so that I can live a life sentenced to house arrest?” No. You’re just having a bad day, Stacey. It isn’t a life sentence.

You don’t need to be reminded of your limitations- you just need to be reminded that you can push back on them.

I hope you know that too. Bad days can trick you into thinking life is harder or worse than it actually is. There’s always a silver lining. Mine, today, was Zack. He’s a realist, so if he’s reminding me of how capable I am then…I guess it’s time that I get busy!

Find your good life in your bad day! Keep moving forward, even if you have to roll through the produce section in your lousy, noisy cart and snotty tears. You’re still moving 😉

-Stacey


Warrior Wednesdays

Hope everyone had a great Wednesday. I like to call these days, “Warrior Wednesdays”. They only come every six weeks/ every time the Crohn’s starts knocking at the door, and they’re infusion days.

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How I make Warrior Wednesdays not suck even though I’m strapped to an IV pole for hours: Naps. OH. And Pizza. Specifically, Pink’s (In Austin it was HomeSlice) or the cheap frozen kind from Trader Jo’s which is surprisingly delicious. I’m gonna feel gross and sleepy after the infusion anyway, so I may as well eat some greasy, bad comfort food. Warrior Wednesdays have been dubbed, “Pizza Day” by my close friends and family. Today I added cupcakes while I watched Usain Bolt and the Canadian guy blaze right into the finals. Normally I binge watch Gilmore Girls before/after napping. No shame.

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Also, friendly reminder to be kind to yourself. Less weight often isn’t equivalent to greater health. When I’m running a lot, I also eat a lot. I have muscle, which weighs much more than fat. I was 124 lbs at this infusion, down nine pounds since my last infusion-no bueno. What changed? I basically stopped physical activity and slowed eating. When I do eat, I haven’t been fueling with sufficient protein, healthy fats, or carbs. I eat whatever doesn’t nauseate me, e.g. plain cheerios (my inner dietetics student is cringing at myself). I’ve allowed myself to be consumed by stress. BUT I am really, really working on stress management. Oh-I hear actions speak louder, so. Here we go, life.
Stay tuned.

Keep moving forward 🙂 (even if you have to take some time to slow down and work through stress and life. That’s cool. But pick yourself up, get it togetha’. And then, one foot in front of the other. The world needs ya bad)


The Ultimate Hot Messery in The Existence of Stacey: Friendship > Poop

Hi Friends!

Do I have any people aboard the hot mess express with me? Any sistas on the struggle bus? On rough days I refer to myself as “Struggle Pants Stacey.” Zack is a kind soul who believes that I’m not as much of a mess as I think I am. I hope he’s right. But really, I am a hot dang mess.

For instance:

-I recently lost my IPhone for the very first thirty-first time. I dropped it in a gutter while running through my parking lot to make it to the office without melting from the rain.

-I got an actual warning ticket from a police officer for jaywalking.

-I also got a speeding ticket in my car from a police officer on his bicycle in the same year.

So you get my drift. Hot.Dang. Mess.

And the worst instance of hot messery to date:  (Messery is a word; I just used it) 

This past weekend driving back to Houston from Oklahoma, I hit Dallas traffic hard. I’m FINALLY on I-45, when I just put my car in park. Everyone puts their car in park. I’m parked an overpass in the middle lane. I pass the mile marker that says, “1” and then I don’t pass anything else because I’m chillin’ on the interstate, with my deaf dog copilot in the passenger’s seat. But then, OH.NO. I start to have all the wrong symptoms. Clammy hands, metallic taste, dry lips. I can feel my face draining of color. I can actually hear my stomach. At first it’s low and nearly inaudible, but then the low growling crescendos into a full chorus of embarrassing, loud churning (even with my deaf dog as the only other being in my car, still humiliating). Nauseous, so nauseous. Blast that a/c! Open all the vents! Can my face actually fit into a vent? That should help. But my face doesn’t fit into a vent, and it doesn’t help. It’s not mind over matter. I’m about to explode. My car is still in park, and so is every other car in Dallas. There’s no exit in sight. OH LAWD. I text Lindsay, “I’m definitely about to sh*t in my car.” And then the unthinkable happens. And it gets worse. I can’t roll down my windows because it’s pouring down rain. Jaxon wakes from his napping copilot position and crawls into the floor board. Even my dog is ashamed of me. I blame Crohn’s, but I could blame Dallas truck drivers, just as well. PERFECT timing. I get a text from the hospital to confirm my infusion appointment for later this week. Actually, just about half an hour too late. I reply with three enthusiastic capital letter “A”s in a row instead of only one. I’m finally able to exit an hour later, meander through the scenic rough part of town near the Cowboy’s Stadium (not even worried at this point. Someone try to kidnap me. I dare you. I have [literal] sh*t you won’t even know how to deal with, because I don’t even know how to deal with it.) and finally find my way to Lindsay’s house, who cheerfully greets me with towels, laughter, a smile, a shower, and a washer/dryer.

I hope you all have a friend you can call when you’ve crapped your pants in the middle of the interstate who will still love you, or at least pretend to. If so, cherish them. Never let that person go. Lindsay is actually my sister, so she’s staying put. But her sisterhood could just as easily given her an easy out of this situation. I definitely could’ve made her childhood a lot more enjoyable than I did at times.

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All I’m saying is genuine friendship, even if found through family, is rare and special and should be  fully and completely appreciated. It’s not always picture-perfect and cute. Sometimes it’s grabbing towels and running through the rain to help a sister and her deaf dog out of a crappy situation. Lindsay is my person. And if she ever has to take a harsh break from girl bossing to explode her pants on the interstate, well. I’d gladly laugh about it with her later. Love the people who love you through all of your hot messes.

Friendship > Poop.
Friendship > Traffic.
Friendship> errything.

Keep moving forward 🙂