One month down

February Candy hearts valentine's stephanie hughes stolen colon ostomy crohn's blogIt’s amazing how quickly time goes by. I have often been told by those older than I am that it just gets faster every year, and that definitely is the truth.

It seems like just yesterday I was sitting here mapping out my goals for the next year, and suddenly one month is already done and over with. But I am very excited about the great start this year has gotten off to.

  • It has been the best month so far for The Stolen Colon. It makes me really look forward to the year ahead in blogging!
  • I got a new design on the blog and have more ideas in store.
  • I submitted my application to NCSU’s grad school.
  • I have made my bed 32 out of 32 days.
  • I am working on eating better, fresher foods. I’ve been enjoying some green smoothies in the morning 🙂
  • Jarrod and I have a new budget in place that I’m really excited about. It’s pretty strict, but still gives us room to have fun, while getting our current debts paid off. And we actually did a great job at sticking to it for the first month!
  • I’ve been getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier for a morning workout. (Not every day, by any means, but I’m working on it.)

So now, on to February. It’s only day 1, but the month is quickly filling up! But with lots of good things: there are so many birthdays of my wonderful friends and family; I have several networking opportunities set up; the Super Bowl is this weekend.

Not to mention that Valentine’s day is in a couple of weeks. My husband and I don’t usually go all out for Valentine’s, but we do usually mark the occasion in some way. I suppose we should since Jarrod proposed to me on February 13th! And I do like the reminder to celebrate the love that you share in your life.

And finally, training for the Team Challenge half-marathon officially starts this month! We’ll have a kick-off party and the 16th and then the training begins on the 23rd. I am looking forward to going through the entire 16 week training this season, since last year I joined a little late in the season. It’s going to be a great season and I am really looking forward to getting to meet everyone who is involved!

I have pretty much touched on my goals for this month.

  • My main goal is to be prepared for the start of Team Challenge season and to work hard to bring in some other runners in the area.
  • Continue the “early to bed, early to rise” routine and morning workouts.
  • I also start therapy on my wrist, so I am hoping for a strong recovery and being able to get back to all of the activities I’ve been missing out on.
  • Beyond that, I am going to continue honing the budget and being good at sticking to it.
  • And I am looking forward to spending time with family and friends and celebrating the various events throughout the month.

A humbling proposal

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It’s Team Challenge Tuesday again and if I am going to be completely honest, this was not my week for training. I had a hard time getting out of bed each morning and sticking to a decent length workout. I have a goal to workout 5 times a week for 45 minutes. I started at 35 minutes and have been raising it by 5 minutes each week.

Now that I have my cast off, I was able to go for an actual outdoor run this week. I also realized how much harder it is to run outdoors than it is to run indoors! Holy moly, I didn’t even make it for a half an hour! I was so exhausted and out of breath by that point. On top of that, my calf muscles have been really tight this week and I have no idea why. I didn’t do anything differently, but they’ve been very sore and have been making running a bit more difficult. I stopped early and spent some time stretching. They’re feeling better, but still sore.

Back to my point, now. For any of you who are training for a race: Get Outside! There is such a difference in your endurance and that’s where you really learn how to breathe through your workout. For me, breathing has been such an essential part of the whole equation. Once I figured out how to breathe correctly, I moved very quickly from having to stop every mile or so to making it through the full 13 miles.

Working out in the gym definitely has it’s place and perhaps the bulk of your workouts may still take place there, but try to get outside once a week. That’s probably more plausible at this point since it’s so cold and you can do the outside workout on the weekend.

On a different note, I received a very humbling request this week. Every year, each Team Challenge chapter has a team honoree whose life has been directly impacted by Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Many people who get involved with Team Challenge may not have a direct connection to IBD. The basic role of the honoree is to be someone that the participants can connect with and to share their story for those who don’t have or don’t know someone who has IBD.

Well this year, I am very honored to have been asked to be the team honoree. I am excited to have the opportunity to share my story with those who will be training with us and raising money for Crohn’s and colitis research. I am looking forward to meeting everyone who will be involved and I am working on putting together a short video that can be shared at any group meetings that I won’t be able to attend. (Perhaps I’ll even post it on here once it’s done.) I am very proud to be a representative of the IBD community for this group. The hardest part is trying to fit my story into a 3 minute segment!

My thoughts on CCFA’s new ad campaign

There has been a lot of discussion in the IBD community over the past few weeks regarding the CCFA’s new ad campaign, Escape the Stall. I’ve read posts of outrage, shame, confusion, support and unsurity. I have thought long and hard about the campaign and my opinion of it. I definitely see both sides of the argument.

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The basic disagreement with the advertisements is the fact that they focus solely on having to go to the bathroom. Many feel that this belittles the disease to simply a stomach ache and doesn’t show the many other symptoms that IBD patients deal with every day. Those of us with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have long fought against the “but you don’t look sick” stigma and the assumption that we’re making a big deal out of nothing.

Yes, this ad focuses on one symptom. But that one symptom is a very big part of having IBD. There are dozens of other issues that can come along with having a digestive disease, but if you are going to pick one that encompasses the greatest number of people, frequent and urgent bowel movements would be it.

I, of all people, understand how much more is involved with having Crohn’s disease. I definitely have dealt with the frequent and urgent need to use the bathroom. I had days where I spent more time in the bathroom than anywhere else. I have looked in the toilet and seen nothing but blood in there. I have lost so much weight that I would pass out if I stood up too fast, nearly falling down the stairs once. I have had extreme stomach cramps where I wished I could claw my intestines out of my body because I honestly thought it would feel better. I have had blood, iron and potent medicine infusions/transfusions. I have been poked with a needle more times than I can count, up to six times at once trying to get a good stick. I’ve been so exhausted that I couldn’t take part in many things I have wanted to do. I have had joint inflammation so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed and my ankles swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. I have had iritis that caused pain in my eye and blurred vision. Hell, I have had surgery to have my colon removed, and none of those things are present in the CCFA ads.

escape the stall ccfa ibd ad campaign stolen colon crohns ibd  blogBUT, I don’t believe this is the point of these ads. As a communications girl, I get what they were trying to accomplish here. They are hoping to start a dialogue. It shows that IBD doesn’t care who you are. The idea is to have people see these ads and realize that they are probably not very distant from someone who is affected.

Also, spreading awareness for debilitating diseases is not an easy task. It is human nature to not want to deal with unpleasant things. If they put an ad out there showing a bloody toilet bowl, people are apt to turn away and not even read what it’s about. Look at so many cancer and diabetes awareness campaigns. They don’t show people slowly dying in a hospital bed (for the most part); they show the faces of men, women and children who are affected by these diseases. They show that these diseases can affect anyone: you or someone you know. There is a place for “shock value” but we’re not there yet. Yes, the ads are a little lighthearted for such a serious disease, but we have to start somewhere. I think the CCFA is making a step in the right direction.

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A great start to 2013

And I have all of you to thank for it! This year is off to the best start possible for The Stolen Colon. Already this month, the number of views on the site is higher than any other month (with the exception of the weeks right after I had my surgery) and there’s still a week left!

Also, just this week, we hit over 20,000 views! This makes me so excited about what’s still to come this year. I am looking forward to meeting new people, learning new things and sharing new experiences. Please, feel welcome to join in on this community. I would love to hear from you! Thank you for all of your support and encouragement.