Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ready, Set...

There are few moments in life when there is a defined start and finish line. There are fewer moments when someone turns and asks, "Are you ready?" But perhaps more importantly, there are the fewest moments when you know when you’re ready.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my early IBD years. The moment I understood what having Crohn’s meant - what being chronically ill really meant for me and my family - it felt like my heart has dissolved into my belly and like I was falling backwards and upside down. It was like that feeling you get when you’re so angry or scared or confused or anxious that you can’t move or breath or think. When time simultaneously stretches out before you endlessly and disappears from beneath you.

I was not ready for my diagnosis. I was not ready for the life I was forced to lead. I was bitter and angry and felt too old for my 12 year old body. It is an eerie feeling to be at war with your body, when you cannot trust it to function as it should. All of this stands in such direct contrast to how I feel now. When I saw my GI a week or so ago, I broke into a smile and tried to put into words the joy of running. I’m not a good runner - I will not win the Boston Marathon or anything important - but I love it. I love moving and being free from the pain that plagued my body for so long.

And I know it’s not over. I know there’s a big, scary flare waiting around the corner, lurking until I least expect it, I know there’s likely another surgical board with my name on it. So I can’t put blinders on and walk away from my diagnosis - I keep myself in the IBD world to help others be as ready for their lives and the challenges ahead as they can possibly be.

Life happens so quickly. Before you know it you’ll wake up and it’s next week. Especially with a body that marches to its own rhythm, it’s a beautiful skill to be able to appreciate each little moment for what it is. I remember the first time I came off Prednisone when I was 14 and taking the dog for a walk and literally crying at the bright August sun and the little flowers. They were just so beautiful and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t understood them before.

So lately, as I run, lip-syncing to ‘Call Me Maybe’ or some other ridiculously catchy pop song, I can’t help but feel an infectious spirit of happiness wrap itself around me. I close my eyes and imagine being on the plane to Peru, then being amongst IBDers, then being atop Machu Picchu. I dream of looking down at the ancient Incan city, bronzing in the sun, shoulder to shoulder with other people who passionately believe that there will be a cure for IBD and that IBDers can do anything they put their minds to. The thought sends chills down my spine and makes me wonder if this is all real.

And then I remember it is. I am ready to run, ready to raise awareness, ready to hike, ready to ‘change attitude with altitude’.

I’m ready to live.


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