Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are chronic auto-immune diseases that attack the digestive system. (Sounds like fun, right?) Crohn’s and Colitis are collectively referred to as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (or “IBD,” which is not quite the same as IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Just recently, I learned that Crohn’s and Colitis affect nearly 1.4 million Americans!
Why do I care who is affected by IBD?
Well, almost 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) at 16. At that time, I had to learn to accept an entirely new “normal.” I imagine this is a similar story for most who live with a chronic illness.
Before I begin my 6th week with Team Challenge training, I can’t help but take a few minutes to reflect on what this experience has meant to me so far. What I can say with certainty is that completing this half marathon will be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
What I didn’t expect to be able to say after 5 weeks is that, in many ways, it already has been.
Before week 5 (last week) even started, I was E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D. Work has been tough for a few weeks, training through the week drains my evenings along with other obligations, weekends have been jam-packed, and to top it off, I haven’t been sleeping well. I feel like the last few weeks have honestly been a blur. Like I closed my eyes, and March was halfway over along with 5 weeks of training.
What I remember particularly though is that while training has taken up a significant amount of time, I actually think I can say I enjoyed the first 4 weeks. (I enjoy running. Now, there’s a statement I’m still getting used to making.)
At 16, after a series of doctors and tests in response to (what we know now as my UC) symptoms, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC). I’ll spare you the details of my symptoms, but you can read about them briefly here. The key to know here is that the symptoms are not pretty nor convenient. Especially not for a 16-year-old.
If you don’t remember what 16 was like, allow me take you back for just a moment.
More than anything, you want to fit in.
However, things like a colonoscopy, being hospitalized the first week of my junior year of high school, and missing something like 80 days of school took away just about every sense of “normalcy” for this 16-year-old.