Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Post: Alex's Story

We are so excited to share another amazingly gutsy guest post! Meet Alex - a force of nature who is never going to give up. He blogs for LOOP and his optimistic attitude is contagious!

'Zip Lines, PICC lines and Tofu: Facing the Challenge'

I looked down from 50 feet in the air from the top of the climbing tower; got ready to be hooked up to the zip line and psyched myself up to jump into the empty air below me …. What was I thinking!  I am afraid of heights.  As a kid I refused to go on the rope mesh bridges in jungle gyms that you may find at McDonald’s, what changed? Maybe I have learned to conquer my fears; maybe I am getting braver with age; maybe I’m crazy; maybe my Crohn’s has taught me that I have to challenge myself, push myself and face my fears – let’s go with the latter.

Last week I spent the week in Fenton Michigan … it was great opportunity to meet other kids my age with the same challenges I have had to face and openly talking through our challenges. It could have been the friends that I had just met that applied a little peer pressure on me to face my fears.  Maybe it was all of the above that gave me the security to zipline … four times … over a creek at CCFA’s Camp Oasis.

Crohn’s has given me courage there is no doubt about that. When you get compression fractures in your back at age ten and can still remember images of not being able to get out of a tent for hours because of those fractures your perspective on life’s challenges changes. The smaller or simpler challenges don’t seem as difficult and as hard to overcome after that. 

Crohn’s has a way of breaking down those mental barriers or fears. I was always a picky eater as a kid. And the food group I disliked the most was the vegetable group. Broccoli, salad, brussel sprouts, you name it, I wouldn’t eat it. Two months ago, my nutritionist told me I should go on a semi-vegetarian diet. Ahhhhh!  She said it would really help? She also said that she had tried it with one other person before me who gave up on it. Since starting to eat again, (for the past two months) I haven’t eaten meat, I eat eggs and salad regularly along with other vegetables. I even have learned to like tofu and things I didn’t know existed, like quinoa, hummus, and couscous; these have become staples.  Foods that I would never have eaten before! And thanks to me facing up to my pickiness, I am eating again (after five months of bowel rest) and I am thriving. 

I always love showing people my PICC line scars. Why? As a child, there are stories of me curled up in a ball, hiding behind the examination table when the nurse came in to give me a shot. The story would not be complete without the part about the nurse having to walk out of the room to hide her laughter. She was laughing because even though I was scared of the needle she had in her hand I was being so polite saying ”No thank you, no thank you.”  Why the sudden transformation from hiding behind the exam table to showing off my PICC scars? Sadly, I am too big now to fit behind the exam table, but the other reason is IBD. When you have had countless IV’s put in and have shots of Methetrexate every week, you’re challenged to get over your fear of needles. 

With a life toughened by Crohn’s, I have been given the courage to challenge myself mentally, and physically. My stubborn way of always pushing through things and challenging myself may be my mother’s nightmare, but it is the best way, in my opinion, to make the most of life.