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!

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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.

CCFA escape the stall ad campaign stolen colon crohns ibd ostomy blog

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.

Welcome to the NEW Stolen Colon!

I wanted to go ahead and implement the first in a series of changes that will soon be coming to The Stolen Colon. I had originally hoped to unveil all of the changes at once, but I was too excited to wait! Plus, I haven’t quite figured out the exact changes I want to make. And as I get better with Photoshop, who knows what will be next!

I hope you enjoy the new, updated look. I’m looking forward to continuing to make this blog even bigger and better!

A new challenge

Getting involved in the fight to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have every made. I realized that living with this disease would mean nothing, other than pain and frustration, if I didn’t use my experiences to help others.

I started small, by volunteering for a couple of local events and taking part in a support group, but I soon saw the enormous benefit of surrounding myself with people who can relate and who are dedicated the same cause. The most profound moment came while in Las Vegas for the Team Challenge half-marathon and sitting in a room surrounded by hundreds of people whose lives have been impacted by IBD. It was there that I truly understood the importance of being involved in something bigger than yourself. And I wanted to continue to be a part of it.

This year, I will be taking part in my second half-marathon with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, this time as a mentor. The role of the mentor is be involved with the participants in the race, encouraging them in both their training and fundraising. The mentors help bring in new runners and coordinate fundraising events.

Team Challenge is more than just signing up for a race. It’s a 16-week training program that includes the support and community of the whole group. There are two big events this season: half-marathons in Virginia wine country and Chicago.

I would be so honored to have some of you on my team. I’d love to get out and run and work together to raise the money to bring more research and awareness to these diseases. Plus, what a better time to check that exercising or race goal off your list? I cannot tell you what a great feeling it was to cross that finish line at the end of the race.

Please let me know if you’re interested in learning more. I guarantee, you will not regret it.

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