It’s been quite a few months since I’ve had time to sit down and blog, I’m going to try and get better about that in 2016! (Resolutions, right?)
But seriously, as we come into the new year, many of us are really thinking about our resolutions, or goals as some social media and twitter people are saying to use instead. Whatever you are choosing to call your personal changes this year, don’t forget to give yourself credit for how far you’ve come and can go with setting small goals each day. Ones that make those 365 days go so fast and ones you don’t have to schedule to achieve.
One of my personal goals that I’ve been struggling to achieve since feeling better is eating right and exercising. It’s embarrassing to admit that I had a small meltdown at the Endocrinologist the other afternoon – for more reasons than just my weight – but the number on the scale was definitely the trigger.
The problem with this is that there are so many more reasons why my weight may be upsetting to me right now than it would have ever been before I had ulcerative colitis, an ostomy or a jpouch. I’ve always been a little curvier, even before I was sick. Then, when I did get really sick, I was the thinnest I had ever been. Fitting into a size 1-2 jeans and stepping on the scale and seeing 105 or less pounds. I also hate to admit that sometimes I would see that number on the scale when I was starving to death and be happy by it. Looking in the mirror at myself in size 2 jeans thinking, “Wow, this looks really great.” Letting thoughts like, “Nothing really does taste as good as skinny looks..” and other stupidities come into my mind.
Once, at my sickest, when I hadn’t eaten for days, my dad yelled across the kitchen “Eat, or you’re 5 minutes away from stepping on that scale.” I remember thinking, “So what? You think my weight is going to shock me into wanting to get my colon out? Like seeing 98lbs isn’t going to make me a littttllleeee satisfied inside?”
How awful, but it did make me feel satisfied.
I often think that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can throw people into eating disorders. I’m sure they have. It’s really, really tough to have a bowel disease, be so skinny, go on steroids, get really bloated, go on TPN and steroids, get even MORE bloated until you don’t look like yourself anymore. Get your colon out, have an ostomy, have to work out at your hardest just to get the steroid weight off all while trying to figure out how to look at yourself with an ostomy. Go into one surgery after the next. Constantly have to worry about whether people can see your ostomy in clothing or if you look wide because of the clothing you have to wear. Just re-thinking and re-living all of those thoughts I had when I was sick is exhausting. It’s hard to imagine that that is the struggle I went through every. single. day.
Body image is a topic I’ve discussed in posts in the past, but I never thought I would struggle with it again after my final surgery. I remember taking a shower with my pouch and not even being able to look up in the mirror. It wasn’t because I was ashamed of my ostomy, it was because I didn’t recognize myself anymore. That was confusing to me. My body no longer belonged to me. It belonged to my illness. My disease had spun so far out of control, that I couldn’t recognize myself for a really, really long time.
Even now I have trouble looking at myself in the mirror..still. My scar bothers me, I have a few extra pounds that I don’t want and I’m sure mentally I still carry some habits that I had when I had my pouch. I trained myself how not to look in the mirror when I was undressed. Was it because I couldn’t deal with the emotionality of it all? Was it because I didn’t like the way I looked? I don’t know. A lot of those issues I had to deal with in therapy when I was sick and many of them I’m still dealing with now.
Everyone deals with body image issues, I’m just saying that it’s probably a little tougher for people who have inflammatory bowel disease.
Now I get really upset when thinking about it because I feel great and I want to eat whatever I want. I want to eat all the time, I love food, I love good food. Food honestly tastes so different to me now. It makes me so happy that I can eat and not have to struggle to breathe after from pain. There is not ONE moment in the day that I’m not grateful that I don’t have to eat and worry about where the bathroom is until I have a panic attack. Why do I have to worry about something as stupid as my weight?
I think it’s so unfair that now I’m over 10 pounds away from my goal weight and I have to go back to eating really bland, boring foods until I reach that goal. I have to fight through my fatigue to make it to the gym after work. I HATE feeling sorry for myself and being negative, but these are extra problems that people like me have to deal with.
I can’t diet like everyone else. I can’t drink slim fast drinks or eat food with a lot of fiber or drink juices or cleanse. All of those things would not only hurt me really bad but they wouldn’t fill me up, anyways.
The fact that I spoke to a physician’s assistant who didn’t know my past or understand what a jpouch was was probably the most frustrating part of my appointment the other day. I don’t like to explain my whole entire history to someone I don’t know or trust. I want to walk into the doctors offices that I have known for more than 5 years and I want them to give me answers. I don’t want them to stare at me and say, “aww..” like this P.A. did. I am nothing to “awww..” about. I am doing just fine. I need you to give me solutions, answers, not pity. But, that was not going to happen on this specific day.
On those kinds days I need to learn how to be strong enough to understand that my body is healthy now. It’s healthy and it functions a LOT differently than everyone else’s. I have to learn how to take care of this body the best way that I can. Just like I learned how to take care of my normal body with a colon, my body with my 1st ostomy, and my body with my 2nd ostomy.
Weight is a struggle for everyone. But I can’t help feeling like those of us with IBD got the short end of the stick.
Regardless of the cards I’ve been dealt, I know I’m seeing a number on the scale I don’t like. I know I’m not a huge fan of the way I look in pictures, so that means change is necessary. I’m a strong believer in, “If you don’t like something, change it.”
I had my eating vacation. It was fun, but the holiday is over.
**Side note for all those wondering about how my jpouch is doing. NYE I went out with friends, had quite a few glasses of champagne, ate some appetizers and I did NOT (repeat, DID NOT) go to the bathroom from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m.!
I know that will give a lot of people a LOT of hope and answer the main question I still get in emails, “Does the jpouch give you a better quality of life?”