Around 2pm on Sunday, 8 September my stomach pain was starting to get worse- sort of like a protein shaker ball with loads of spikes on it was rolling around inside my intestines. Ever the optimist, I fired up the ol’ hot water bottle, popped some ibuprofen and hoped for the best.
When I was lying on the floor of my flat in a ball crying in agony at around 10pm, my Mom (who has been visiting for the past two weeks) wisely (and forcefully) sent me, Nick and my hot water bottle to the A&E at Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London.
The last 4 weeks have been a real struggle for me with Crohn’s symptoms catching me off guard and taking over my life in more ways than one. Dry, red and itchy sores appear on my body, a bumpy rash shows up on my right arm and the corners of my mouth split open and become inflamed, followed closely by scores of canker-like sores (hey hey that rhymes!) on the inside of my mouth. My stomach is constantly sore and extremely bloated, and I lack energy and motivation. Oh and the sudden, very urgent, very painful need to go to the bathroom hits when you least expect it- which is probably the worst bit.
I always get really embarrassed as people usually think it is something more sinister like cold-sores, and I find that I become frustrated and upset, with my confidence dropping for weeks. My training and eating habits take a hit and I give myself a hard time for not living up to my own expectations of myself.
I am still getting used to living with Crohn’s and some days, weeks and months can be a struggle. I feel I let myself down and I let others down- my family, my friends and my work colleagues. The hit my confidence and motivation takes is the worst, and I feel lost, drifting through life for weeks at a time.
I share this because we all have struggles in life. There are times when we just feel down in the dumps and no number of kilometres run or weighted squats done that can pull us out of it. Sometimes we need to ride it out, a feeling that will eventually pass. I never let my routine drop- I still hit the gym regularly, even if it feels more like going through the motions than it does focused execution.
The key is to keep up that routine because when the day comes that you are ready to give it your unstoppable all, it won’t feel like like you are starting from scratch. No matter how much you don’t want to go (and I’m sure you will have every excuse) tell yourself you will do 15 minutes. Not only is that a completely manageable amount of time but once you get started you will find it easier to turn that 15 in to 30 and if it is an especially productive day, 60 mins.
I am still recovering from my most recent hospital stint. I was given a shot of morphine to help me cope with the pain and a bunch of codeine to help me ride out the remainder of my flare up. The good news is that I am also starting to get my motivation back- I have my gym playlist loaded with new tracks and my workouts planned.
Life throws us curve balls to test us and some challenges are harder than others. But remember that the tough times will pass and waiting for us at the other end are all the good things that make life the wonderful, beautiful thing that it is. In order to appreciate the good in life, you need to experience the bad.