Favorite Quote

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
-Randy Pausch

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nothin' Fancy

Here are my Wed/Thurs/Fri meals...

Breakfast: 2/3 slice of brown rice bread w/ organic peanut butter
Snack:      1 Banana
Lunch:      2/3 piece of baked organic chicken breast and cup of vanilla goat yogurt
Snack:      2 ounce shot of wheatgrass
Pre-Dinner Snack:  Smoked Goat Cheese w/ wheat thins
Dinner:    Roasted Turkey (White parts only), steamed veggies, wild rice, sour dough roll
Dessert:    Yummy pear dish over one scoop of french vanilla ice cream (made by Matt's mom)

Breakfast: Bowl of oatmeal w/ cut up banana and hint of brown sugar
Snack:      1.5 ounce shot of wheatgrass
Lunch:      Baked chicken spinach salad w/ hard boiled eggs, carrot, cucumber, celery, red bell pepper
Snack:      Roughly one cup of goat yogurt
Dinner:    A combination of chicken nachos and thai chicken penne pasta (we went out to eat    at our local brewery)
Dessert:    Freshly made pumpkin cheesecake

Matt and I met up with some friends for dinner on Thursday night.  I am a firm believer of ordering, within reason, what you want from the menu and not worrying about taking the "healthy" option.  Truth be told, most "healthy" dishes in restaurants aren't healthy at all...including salads and fish!!  Think of it this way, The Cheesecake Factory's grilled salmon ranges between 825-1,861 calories w/ 11g of fat...yowza!  I guess what I'm trying to say is just enjoy your night out and get what you want (within reason)!!  

Breakfast: Bowl of oatmeal with a hint of brown sugar; 1 slice of brown rice bread w/ organic  crunchy peanut butter, cup of vanilla goat yogurt, and a small glass of goat milk
Lunch:      Leftover baked chicken spinach salad 
Snack:      Veggie drink consisting of 1/2 cucumber, 1/4 beet, 2 large carrots, 2 celery stocks, 1 apple
Dinner:    Cheese pizza, 4 homemade chicken wings
Dessert:    Homemade brownie w/ a scoop of french vanilla icecream and a hint of raspberry sauce

I ate a larger breakfast than normal this morning because I was not going to be able to eat a snack between breakfast and lunch.  Tonight Matt and I are watching Bruno for the first time with our super awesome friends Andy and Sara.  Bruno wouldn't be complete without pizza and some fatty munchies.  Tonight's dinner is an anomaly for me as I normally wouldn't eat any of these foods (besides the occasional cheese or veggie pizza once every now and then).  I've heard crazy reviews about Bruno that has left me more than curious...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oohh Salmon!

As the week progresses you'll see that my meals get pretty uneventful.  The highlight of my food intake today was eating "island style" wild coho salmon for dinner.  Wild salmon has become one of the most important foods that I eat.  It is incredibly healthy, contains essential fats, and also serves as an anti-inflammatory.  I am, by no means, a salmon expert but do know that it has helped me get, and stay, healthy.  

I only eat wild salmon.  Wild salmon has a great (non-fishy) flavor and healthy red coloring to it.  In my opinion, farm raised salmon tastes fishy, doesn't have the dark red coloring, and is just yucky (to me).  I mean, they swim around in huge nets and eat each other's poop...yeah I really want to eat a fish that does that.  And yes, I'm sure wild salmon eat poop too, but at least they're not trapped in a net and they taste wwaaayy better!  Again, just my opinion...

Here's what I ate today!!

Pre-Breakfast:  2 ounce shot of Xango

Breakfast:  Oatmeal w/ banana and a touch of brown sugar

Snack:  2 cups of Vanilla Goat Yogurt

Lunch:  A cup of leftover pumpkin soup and Baked Chicken Spinach Salad

Snack:  Vegetable Drink!  This veggie drink consisted of two large carrots, 1/3 of a large beet, ginger root, and two celery stocks.

Dinner:  Island Style Wild Coho Salmon.  The salmon is cooked in coconut milk and chicken broth seasoned with curry powder.  Leeks, cauliflower, broccoli, garlic, and onion are sauteed in the broth before the salmon is added.  This is an incredibly tasty meal!  You can cook whatever veggies you like in the broth...it will come out tasting great!!  As an added bonus, curry+salmon is a great anti-inflammatory blend!!

Dessert:  Pumpkin Pie Smoothie  (Canned Organic Pumpkin Pie mix, frozen vanilla yogurt, vanilla soy milk, pure maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg blended).  

Snack:  Vanilla Goat Yogurt

With that, I'll leave you with something random.  I want to see a black bear in it's natural element before I take another vacation out of the United States.  There you have it...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brown Rice Bread/Monday Meals

After being diagnosed with Crohn's I needed an alternative to whole wheat/whole grain breads, raw fruits and veggies, cow milk products, and a variety of other food products.  Later on in the week I will talk about my alternatives to raw fruits and veggies, cow products, etc.  Today I will give you the low down on my alternative to whole wheat/whole grain breads...

After going to the local organic store or "crazy people organic store" as some of my friends would call it, I learned that brown rice bread is not only easily digestible, but would also give me the carbohydrates I needed to sustain me for long (bike) rides, or any hard workout.  So, in short, brown rice bread became my alternative to whole wheat/whole grain breads as I could no longer digest either of the two.

When I first grabbed the frozen "brick" of brown rice bread from the organic store's freezer I definitely didn't think it was going to taste very appetizing.  It was seriously like grabbing a frozen, packaged brick out of the freezer.  At that point, however, I didn't care.  I was open to try anything and everything that would potentially work and give my body something it could digest and also the fuel it needed to get through day to day activities.

A few things I've learned about brown rice bread...

Brown Rice Bread is stored in your refrigerator once you bring it home from the market.  I have found that microwaving or toasting the bread prior to consumption will make for a better tasting piece of bread.  Brown rice bread is pretty bland, but again, gets the job done.  I also put organic jelly or organic peanut butter on my slice of bread aka slice of "brick" to make it more tasty.  Once you get used to it, the blandness sorta disappears!  Now, I love it!

Two years later, I still rely on brown rice bread.  I can now digest whole wheat/whole grain breads but still choose to eat a slice of brown rice bread prior to working out.  It's worked for me this long, so I might as well stick with it!!  So yes, I would choose a slice of brown rice bread over "normal" bread any day of the week!

Now, as promised, here is what I ate for the day:

Pre-Breakfast: 1.5 ounce shot of Xango

Breakfast: Brown Rice Bread with Organic Peanut Butter

Snack:  2 ounce shot of Wheatgrass

Pre-Lunch:  2 cups of homemade Pumpkin Soup

Lunch:  Baked Organic Chicken Breast Half Sandwich.  To make this sandwich I used about 2/3 of a seasoned baked organic chicken breast, one slice of 9-grain bread, Omega-3 Mayonnaise, red onion, and shredded pepper jack cheese.

Snack:  Roughly 1 cup of watermelon

Dinner: Chicken Spinach Salad w/ red bell pepper, carrot, hard boiled egg, red onion, and turkey bacon.  I used Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil as my salad dressing.

Dessert:  Homemade Pumpkin Pie Smoothie 

Snack:  Roughly two cups of Vanilla Goat Yogurt

This definitely wasn't my "normal" diet routine while flaring.  I have been in remission for almost a year and have re-introduced a number of new food items to my digestive tract.  I can now handle raw fruits and veggies.  Most recently is my body's ability to digest spinach.  About two months ago I decided to try and introduce raw spinach back into my diet.  I ate a homemade spinach salad to see how my system would react.  Well, the next day, everything was great!  This was a major milestone for me because, when sick, I couldn't even eat steamed spinach let alone raw spinach.  My digestive tract couldn't handle it and the spinach would very painfully come out the same way it looked going in.  I know that sounds kinda gross, but it is what it is.  It has taken my digestive system almost a year to heal and get strong enough to handle more roughage type foods. 

I still can't, however, handle normal lettuce or leafy greens.  Spinach is the only green leafy veggie that my system can handle at the moment.  I'll take what I can get and have decided to permanently retire "normal" lettuce and any other leafy greens besides spinach!  Who needs them anyway!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me!!  Stay tuned for tomorrow!!  =)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food 101 - Revisited

So, back in April I said I was going to post my daily meals for all to see due to questions I've received about my dietary restrictions, food I eat on a daily basis, etc.

Starting Monday I will post my daily meals for all to see (seriously this time)!  Stay tuned for wheatgrass, goat products, and crazy vegetable drink mixes!  Check back next week!

Until then, Bottoms up!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit...

NOT!  Magical fruit my @$$.  Though ginger isn't a fruit, it sure works the magic during cold/flu/sinus season.  All I have to say is, thank God for ginger.

When I get a cold, flu like symptoms, sinus issues, etc I don't reach for any over the counter meds.  I figure that Remicade Infusions and daily Lialda use are enough meds for one body.  I'm also highly paranoid of putting anything into my intestines, especially meds.  A few years ago I had a Crohn's relapse after taking DayQuil/NyQuil for a cold.  Since then, I try and avoid meds for any non-Crohn's related illnesses like the plague.  And so far, I've been successful all but one time.

I started juicing ginger a few years ago in an attempt to ward off sickness.  It worked each time until last year, when I ran out of ginger and didn't go to the market to get it for over a week.  Well, my health paid the price due to my inaction and laziness.  My cold developed into a nasty chest cold, and I was forced to get on antibiotic to treat pneumonia.  The antibiotic got rid of the the chest cold, but left me with the frustrated feeling of what if...what if I had only juiced a freakin' ginger root.  I swore to never do this again.

Up until last week I mostly used ginger for preventative medicine.  I would immediately juice ginger if I was around a coughing person, sick person, or any germy type situation.  A few years ago Matt came down with both strep throat and the flu at the same time.  I juiced ginger like a champ and never caught his sickness.  That was my first indication that this stuff was living up to it's super herb, super spice name. 

It was only until last week that juiced ginger truly fought off the nasty cold that I had caught.  In this scenario I was no longer on the offensive with ginger, but on the defensive.  I had a deep cough, was coughing stuff up, runny nose, was fatigued, etc etc.  I thought it was now or never, and hoped that the ginger would work.  If it didn't, I felt like I'd be screwed.  The Chinese have used it for centuries upon centuries as a natural healer...it sure as hell better work for me!  I had put my preventative medicine faith in it for a few years, I didn't want to think I was crazy!

True to its reputation, the ginger completely fought off my cold.  It took about four days for me to completely get over it, but I did.  And I didn't get on antibiotic or take any over the counter cold meds.  And like I said, it wasn't a light cold.  This cold was quickly getting to the same level as the nasty chest cold I had last year (the cold I had to get on antibiotic for).  Needless to say, I was relieved the ginger worked!    

So, my magic cold busting ginger juice recipe consists of two ingredients: carrots and ginger.  I use about 2-3 carrots and almost half of a large ginger root.  This drink is incredibly spicy.  It's guaranteed that after the first swig your sinus' and pores will automatically open up.  This is the kind of drink you want to be done drinking, but don't want to drink fast.  You just want to get it over with b/c of the taste!  But hey, it works.  I was drinking two carrot/ginger drinks a day.  It wasn't my favorite thing to do, but it crushed the cold!
This is one of my "smaller" ginger roots.  I used a medium-large sized banana for a reference point!
I would use about 3/4 of this ginger root in one drink.

A few times I brought a ginger root home from the market to find out it was molding from the inside out after tearing it apart.  That was incredibly annoying.  Now I break the freakin' ginger root in half at the grocery store to ensure that it is not moldy.  If, once you break it open, it has any tint of green around the rims, toss it.  

A "healthy" looking ginger root (no green)!!

Because of my cold I had to cancel my Remicade Infusion (b/c it's an immunosuppressant it can't be given when one is sick).  Ah, whatever...I'm rescheduled for next week.  It was frustrating not being able to ride my bike, but at least I got over my cold and was able to fly home to AZ!  All thanx to ginger!  Give the recipe a try...you need a juicer, but it's worth the buy!!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Art of Normalcy

I should be ashamed of myself.  It's been five months since my last entry.  I apologize, and though have said it post after post, I won't let it happen again.  Now, where to start...

First off, I've hit the one year "fake" remission mark.  I refer to this as my "fake" or "partial" remission mark b/c it marks a year of me not pooing blood.  I did, however, continue to have uncontrollable bowel movements (uncontrollable in the sense that if I didn't get to a bathroom at a moments notice I would have to compete with my dog for a bush to poo behind).  So, because there was no bleeding but still uncontrollable bowel movements I call it "fake/partial" remission.  It's a partial remission for me because my body no longer required steroids to keep me from bleeding.  Not needing steroids was a huge accomplishment all in itself.  

Last year, I went into full remission November 26th, 2008.  The day before Thanksgiving.  I will hit my one year full remission mark soon.  No bleeding/no uncontrollable bowel movements.  Sometimes I still can't believe it.  Words cannot describe how blessed and thankful I am.  Alleluia I tell you.   

To those of you out there battling with unbearable Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis flares, it will get better.  I promise it will.  Don't give up.  Three years ago there was a moment in my life that I honestly thought my dog (then two years old) would outlive me.  I was newly diagnosed, felt incredibly alone, had a raging headache, and was so weak I couldn't really move.  I was lying on my bed staring at the dog and thought to myself  "There is no way I'm going to make it to my 30th birthday.  The damn dog's going to outlive me." I was 25 at the time and I believed it.  I honestly, 100% believed it.  For the next two years thereafter I was constantly sick with flare after flare.  It was a vicious roller coaster.  I didn't have a normal life.  I had absolutely no control of my body.  Life as I knew it had been turned upside down and inside out.  I would get extremely angry at people who would go into remission or who had been in remission for long periods of time.  People whose symptoms just went away.  I was angry because though I hoped and prayed that would happen to me, I couldn't fathom it.  I had a severe case of the illness and couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel (though I desperately wanted too).  After two years I thought that those in remission must have had milder forms of the disease, and that I was totally screwed.  It was a real crappy deal (no pun intended).  So, amidst all this rambling, I'm just trying to tell you that it will get better.  Your disease, whether it be Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis, will go into remission.  It's just going to take your body time to work itself out.  When it's ready, it will go into remission.  Don't lose hope.  It took me over two years to reach some sort of stability.  The same will happen for you.  It's completely normal and okay to be angry at those in remission(I was there), but don't lose the faith.  

Now, on to me actually calling myself "normal."  Those of you that know me know that I am far from normal.  BUT, according to my Gastro Doc,  Dr Greene, I'm normal!  

At the end of May I picked up a nasty virus.  I believed I got this virus because of my suppressed immune system (Remicade is an immunosuppressant).  I explained to Dr. Greene that I was angry that I had gotten sick, but that I knew the Remicade was definitely to blame.  I told him I was sick and tired of not having a "normal" immune system and that I wished my body would just act "normal."  Dr. Greene calmly smiled, looked at me, and said, "Emma, you are normal.  You probably would have gotten this virus if you weren't on Remicade.  You need to start living your life normally."  I paused for a second, processing what he had just said.  I was normal?  What the?!  After that visit with my doc, my mind frame changed.  It's apparent to me now that that's all I needed to hear.  I went downstairs after he told me I was normal and got my Remicade (aka Mouse Juice) Infusion and was on my bike the NEXT day, riding strong.  And to top that off, I raced a few days later. 

Getting ready for my race


I did WAY better in this race (in June) than I did back in March.  I didn't win, but I was out there.  It felt great to race again.  I was excited b/c my super awesome Grammy GIRL was there to watch me race.  Before the race Matt reminded me that I had gotten my infusion a few days before and that I should be proud of myself for just getting out there.  Definitely a different mindset that I had back in college, but he was right.  Life was different.  I'll be fast again, it's just going to take me a little longer than most due to my lil "situations."  But hey, I'm "normal" now, so race season next year is gunna be a blast! 

On a more serious note, I needed to hear my doc say that I was normal.  I had, after all, lived in a Crohn's bubble where every sickness (flares) were directly related to the disease for two plus years.  Since I wasn't pooing blood or having uncontrollable bowel movements (thank goodness) I blamed the Remicade.  It was, after all, an immunosuppressant.  I had never had a non-Crohn's type illness since being diagnosed back in 2006.  As you can imagine, it was weird picking up a virus and it not being related to Crohn's.  It was completely foreign to me.  I forgot that "normal" people get sick too. 

I still take precautions, but have decided to do "normal" things that I wouldn't even consider before.  I'm getting into backpacking (NEVER thought I would do anything remotely close to it) and am planning a 96 mile backpacking trip into the wilderness next summer.  Call me crazy, but hey, my doc said I'm normal!  I will obviously take precautions and be smart about it, but ultimately want to do this.  When I told my sis about this trip she said, "Are you sure you can do that with your Crohn's?  Are you sure that's a good idea?  What are you going to eat? What if you get sick?"  With a smile I replied, "I'm normal now."

Breaking through the clouds at the top of Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Food 101

I've received tons of questions regarding my dietary restrictions, what I eat on a daily basis, etc etc.

Next week (starting Monday) I will post my daily meals for all to see!  If wheatgrass, goats milk, and a carrot/beet/ginger/celery/onion juiced veggie drink sounds good to you then check back next week!

I'm also introducing the "Are you Serious?" series to my blog.  Basically I'll be calling out ridiculousness as I see/hear it...

Check back soon...  =)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Live Your Life

I have now been in remission for 6 months.  I'm overwhelmed with emotion.  6 months...for some reason that sounds so much more successful than 4 months, or 5 months, or 5.99 months.
I always prayed, hoped, and had faith that I would stabilize and go into remission for a long period of time (preferably forever).  But had you asked me this time last year if I thought I would be in remission for 6 months I would have said no.  I'm just being honest.  You've got to understand that I was living the vicious prednisone cycle.  If you haven't been following my blog, I'll break it down to you like this.  For 2.5 years I would poo blood and in turn get really sick, get prescribed prednsione, go into remission, and 3-6 weeks after getting off the prednisone I would relapse.  That's just how it went.  It sucked. 

When I was first put on my mouse juice (aka Remicade) it didn't help.  In fact, my mouse juice didn't really kick in until this past July when my doc doubled the dosage and put me on 500mg, which is about 9mg/kg (much thanks to my super awesome nurse Cindy [pictured above] for giving me the correct numbers!! Cindy is one of the nurses that administers my mouse juice at my new infusion center).

It's awesome being in remission.  It's more than I could have ever hoped for.  But honestly, it's also a freakin' emotional roller coaster for me.  It's bittersweet.  I want it to last forever.  I feel like it will last forever, and that's what I'm hoping for, but I also fear that it will be ripped away from me should my dormant intestines decide to awake.  And I, apparently, have no control of that.  It pisses me off.  It makes me angry.  When I have a crazy hard workout on the bike I wonder if I would be able to do that same challenging ride flaring.  I wonder how different life would be.  I wonder if I would be able to race.  And like most people, my mind is often my worst enemy.  My personal trainer over the summer told me that my mind was my worst enemy over and over again.  He told me that I constantly limit myself and sell myself short b/c I let my mind get the best of me.  I achieved so much with him, and did so many things I never thought possible b/c I thought I was "too sick."  And I did a lot of this while flaring.  I climbed a freakin mountain on my bike(that I was scared to climb) while flaring.  And not only did I climb it, I owned it.  

I've been angry since my infusion mostly b/c I've been letting my mind get the best of me.  First off, my poor hubby fell off of his cyclocross bike (a combination of a road bike/mountain bike) on Thursday (the day after my infusion) and broke his collarbone and cracked his shoulder blade.  That was a totally stressful time but luckily he is OK (we'll find out if he will need surgery this coming Friday).  I also started thinking about the road racing season, how mediocre I had performed the first race of the season (March 7th), feeling fatigued after my infusion, etc etc.  

It just all got to me.  A plethora of emotions.

But all the emotions were masking the true culprit of my frustration and negativity.  In truth, it all came down to this:  I have been absolutely terrified that I will relapse and be stripped of my "normal" flare-free life.  I have been carrying that heavy burden emotion around with me since I realized that this remission was the real deal (I realized this January 2009).  Being in remission now for 6 months has been awesome, and it has given me a taste of what it's like to be normal, not sick, stable.  And I like it.  And can't bare the thought of having it taken from me.  

But while in yoga yesterday, I finally realized that it was time to let go.  I realized that if I didn't let it go it would eat me up and I wouldn't be able to fully enjoy anything to it's fullest potential.  I just gotta go with the flow.  I've known this for months but couldn't surrender my inner fear of relapsing.  

But today, while riding my bike (of course), I was finally ready to let go, and not be scared of letting go.  I've kicked that damn fear to the curb now.  I've let it go.  I am no longer going to spend this time worrying.  It does no good.

I'm blessed I'm in remisison.  And I hate to say it, but I'm blessed that it is Crohn's that I have and not something worse.  This disease has taught me a lot about myself.  It has taught me what is truly important in life.  It could always be so much worse.  There are countless people my age and younger (and of course, older) who will not recover from their life altering illnesses such as cancer or severe chronic illness.  And to you all, my heart goes out to you.  I have not forgotten you, nor will I ever.  Especially you, Mr. Akre.  I often think about you and pray you are doing well.  If anybody can defy the odds, it's you.  Keep fighting the good fight and hang in there!   

And to the healthy folks out there, do not take your health for granted.  Nothing pisses me off more than hearing somebody brag about how they spend every wknd binge drinking, or abusing their bodies.  DO NOT take your health for granted.  Respect it and be thankful.  You have no idea how good you've got it...

But I don't know if you've truly got it better than I.  My illness, once I accepted it, taught me to see life how it is.  It has taught me to truly appreciate nature, family, life, love, and living.  My illness has also given me the opportunity to meet amazing people who are fighting incurable illness, who are suffering from chronic illness, and cancer survivors (one of whom was supposed to be dead 10 years ago).  Nope, he refused to listen to the doc who told him he wasn't going to live very long.  

It was hard giving up control and accepting that when my body flares I'm simply along for the ride.  And when in remission it has been hard giving up the fear of relapsing.  But that's all over now.

I'm going to live my life...   

The above pic is from last Wednesday, which was the 6 month mark.  Much love and thanks to my super awesome nurse Cindy who gave me great peace, comfort and inner strength during my first infusion in Seattle this past January.  Cindy is the nurse that first told me about "The Body Soul" which inspired my sole February blog post.  To read this post, click here

Cindy takin' care of business in the pic above.  Oh, also of the utmost importance.  The ladies at this awesome infusion center always gets my vein on the first stick.  I can't tell you how awesome that is.  Especially considering there was a time in the past when I got stuck 9 times.  I always dreaded infusion days b/c I didn't want to get stuck a million times.  It really gets old and can bring a person to the brink of tears quite quickly (no, I never cried).  So again, much thanks and love to the nurses at Minor and James Infusion Center for making my infusions as painless as possible.  You gals ROCK. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Winter Wonderland!!

This morning we woke up to A LOT more snow than originally expected!!  My muuumm (think Cartman) is here to visit for the week, so I'm glad she got to experience WA winter beauty (even though it's...uh...March)!  

What to do when there is lots of snow?  Experience natures beauty!  Below are pics we took during our crazy long hike on the trials behind our house!!  Enjoy!! =)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Saturday "Soul" Ride

I had a crazy challenging ride this past Saturday with my hubby and his bro.  I was planning on riding easy b/c I had ridden long the day before, but the rush of exploring new territory overtook my logic and we kept riding.  It was extremely hilly, and I only had 3 luna moons to sustain me on a 3+ hour ride!  NOT GOOD!  

But, it definitely taught me a thing or two about myself.  Riding always forces me to face things within myself that I've been trying to ignore.  Like I've said time and time again, riding is my therapy.  Not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.  

So...this is my confession.

Every ride for me has been full of pure joy, but also great sadness and fear.  Full of joy because I am actually healthy enough to ride and am at the absolute strongest and healthiest I have been in the past three years.  The sadness kicks in when I remember everything I have been through with this monster of a disease.  And fear.  The worst of them all.  Fear of a relapse.  Fear that at an instant my body can choose to revolt and send me into a downward spiral.  Strip me of everything I have been working towards.  Fear that I wouldn't be strong enough to race.  These are the thoughts I've had week after week.  I love cycling so much, and am having so much fun with it, that I can't bare the thought of not being able to do so.

But this ride changed my thoughts of sadness and fear.  This ride showed me what I'm made of.  It was viciously hilly.  I didn't have much food.  I was hitting the wall.  I was starting to second guess myself, my training, everything that makes me, well, me.  

But then my soul kicked in.  The final hill of my ride, I was brought to tears.  Because I realized that I have no reason to fear.  I have been through so much, and have ultimately come out on top.  I have gotten a grasp on this disease and will not let it control my life.  I will not be constantly scared that I will relapse.  I just won't.  I'm tired of letting it control my life.

When I'm sick, I become a prisoner to the toilet.  I'll be damned that when I'm in remission I'm going to constantly be scared of getting sick and having my "normal" life ripped away.  No.  Not anymore.

I have faith that I will stay in remission.  And I won't worry at least once an hour of every day that I will relapse.  Nope.  I'm no longer giving this disease that much control.  

So, through the beautiful suffering of my ride Saturday afternoon I was able to finally face my fear.  And say it out loud for the first time.  I told Matt my great fear, though it took me a few minutes to say it aloud.  I don't know why it was so hard for me to tell him.  He knows my darkest secrets, everything unflattering about me that one could know.  But, letting go of this secret was hard.  Perhaps because it shows my weakness.  I don't know, but I'm glad that I got it out.  

And I'm no longer scared.  Because it is what it is.  

I can tell you one thing, this season I'm going to race my little heart out.  

I have no idea how racing is going to go this year.  My first race of the season is a road race this Saturday.  I'll see how I fare compared to the other girls, and will definitely blog about it!  One thing I know for sure, I'm simply glad to be racing.  This will be my first "real" race since junior year in college!  C-a-razy!

Below are some pics from our Saturday "Soul" ride...

Beautiful Washington!!

Are these two gents brothers or what (Note: Matt's helmet hair)?!

I noticed this tree while suffering up the second to last climb of the day.  I thought it was interesting that leaves were growing out of moss...

It's not easy, but facing your inner fears, fears that lie deep within your soul is the only way to heal and get over it.  Luckily I have cycling to help me get over my fears and continue to heal.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Body Soul

Four months, two weeks. 

It's a beautiful thing.

Words cannot express how lucky, thankful, and happy I am.  After almost three years of relapse after relapse, I have finally stabilized.  I have been in remission, with no bleeding, for four months and two weeks.  I've been on Remicade for over a year now, but it wasn't until my previous doc doubled my Remicade dosage last July that I started slowly stabilizing.  I am getting 550mg per kg of Remicade, and for somebody my size, that's A LOT.  

But, it's working!  I have finally stopped bleeding when pooing.  I have gotten healthy, have been able to ride my bike consistently, and have been loving life.  It's weird to feel "normal."  I feel as though I am fully healed and will never relapse again.  If I didn't know any better I would stop taking my medicine.  But I know better.  Because the medicine, as toxic as it may be, is keeping me healthy.  

I have a new Gastro doc in Seattle and he is phenomenal.  I feel incredibly lucky to have a doctor who is a specialist not only in Gastroenterology, but also Hepatology and Internal Medicine.  He's also board certified and a CCFA Physician Member.  I hit the jackpot with this one!  I've seen him twice and have also had my first Remicade Infusion in Seattle experience.  The Infusion center is WAY different from my Infusion Center in Virginia.  The first thing I noticed was the fact that the chairs didn't look nearly as comfy.  I can deal with uncomfy chairs, but am saddened that we also have the ultimate privacy, which means I can't really talk with other patients receiving their infusions.  Everybody has a story, and I like listening.  Reflecting.  Appreciating.  

The nursing staff is also awesome.  My nurse for the day asked me how long I've been stable.  I said four months.  Since November 26th.  She then asked about my Crohn's history, so I went into the fact that I used to be an Intelligence Officer, couldn't achieve remission, and was sadly medically retired from my profession last April.  I then went on to tell her that I have never been in full remission without the use of steroids until November 26th.  I told her I sleep 8-10 hours a night.  I try to minimize stress in my life.  And I ride my bike.  I told her I've teamed up with Vanderkitten to develop a worldwide club team, which has been extremely successful.  

And that's when she told me she believes in "The Body Soul."  She believes that our bodies often times try to let us know when we are doing something that isn't right for us.  This can be a profession, lifestyle, life situation, etc.  Our bodies will continue to act out until we decide to listen and start doing something that is right for us, and puts us at peace.  And I believe her.  

Had I never gotten sick I would have thought she was a crazy nut.  But almost three years of severe illness will definitely change your view on life.  Her theory, in my opinion, is 100% right.  Cycling feeds my body soul.  If I don't ride, I turn into an extremely unpleasant person.  I can't tell you why, that's just how it goes.

My new doc has also put me on Lialda to help keep my large intestine in check.  He feels that the Remicade alone is not strong enough to keep the sleepy giant known as my large intestine dormant.  My large intestine is a volcano; and he felt that the Lialda, which is an anti-inflammatory for the large intestine, will help keep my large intestine dormant so it won't awaken and erupt me into a flare.  It can only help, so I've been taking it!  It is also the mildest form of medicine for my illness that one can get!  So, I'm on really really toxic, and really really mild.  Getting the best of both worlds I guess!

Now to catch up on my blog since Christmas (yes I have been the biggest blog slacker).  Matt and I have finally settled into our home and absolutely LOVE Washington State.  I never, EVER want to move.  The picture at the top of my blog was taken from my new neighborhood.  That pic is a pic of the Olympic Mountains.  We are surrounded by the Olympic Mountains, Cascade Mountains, and can even see Mt Rainier on a clear day.  Absolutely awesome!

The first day Matt and I moved into our new house we drove down the driveway and were greeted by three deer.  Below are pics of the deer we found in our backyard:

The deer were a nice house warming present, but we knew we wouldn't see much of them as soon as Caesar came home.  Well, a day later, Caesar came home.  And we haven't seen the deer since.  Go figure.  

Lastly, the pic below is a pic of me and the pup on the trail in our neighborhood.  

I seriously can't get over how gorgeous it is out here!  Apparently we have black bears, bobcats, owls, and cougars in our neighborhood.  My neighbor said he saw a black bear on the trail a few weeks ago (aren't bears supposed to be hibernating?)...I totally freaked but he calmly said, "Ah, just raise your hands and start singing, they'll run away."  Not being one to put my life in a wild animals hands and just *hoping* that they'll run away, I bought bear spray.  It shoots 35 feet away and will knock a bear on his ass (at least make the bear feel like it's choking).  Hopefully I'll never have to use it, but if I do, at least I'll be ready!  I mean, people have guns in their homes to protect them from intruders, why not carry freakin' bear spray in bear country (duh).  I am convinced my neighbors think I'm crazy for carrying bear spray, but I think it's preventative mauling...My neighbor also told me that at night a bobcat chills on the porch a few houses up from ours.  Sweet...maybe?  I guess I just have to get used to wildlife.  Wildlife or not, I love it here!

And for my riding buddies...the cycling out here is epic.  And I'm not joking.  I am one to get extremely bored on rides.  I was NOT designed for the flats and get extremely bored when riding in flat terrain.  I'm a climber, and out here, there is nothing but hills.  And nasty ones.  And you never really get a chance to recover because after you climb up one and roll down, you're instantly climbing up another.  We also live up a hill, and it is a mile climb just to get home.  So, after getting completely destroyed during my rides, I still have to climb a beast of a hill just to get home.  I love it.  It will make me stronger and hopefully I'll kick some ass this season.  

Due to moving cross county, a medical problem, and traveling non stop the month of December I haven't been able to ride consistently since November 2nd.  I finally have been consistent for the past three weeks or so, and am getting into shape.  I'm getting excited for the upcoming season and to check out the WA State racing scene.  I know most gals have been training since November...but whatever...it's a LONG season.  The racing season starts the first wknd in March and ends late August. 

 I've got plenty of time to show what I'm made of.  And I can't wait!  At least I know I'll DEFINITELY be racing in the HOTTEST kit in women's cycling today.  Most of the races out here are road races and crits, which is what I love.  Hands down, I hate TT's and won't be doing any this season (unless the TT is climbing up the side of a mountain).  And there ya have it.  

I know this has been a ridiculously long blog posting.  I will definitely update my blog much more frequently in the (near) future.  I'm going for bi-weekly.  Once a week at the least!  =)

To make a long blog entry even longer, I will leave you with the below pic.  It is me on New Years Eve on the Vegas strip (which I DO NOT recommend to anybody and will never do again).  Homeboy definitely looked authentic dressed as The Joker from Batman, but when he(a complete stranger) put his hands on my neck...well...freaky.  

Headin' out to Tour of California next weekend.  Totally stoked!  Until next time...

Friday, January 23, 2009


The Vanderkitten Racing Cycling Club is now up and running!

We have received an overwhelming response on both a national and international level.  It is absolutely awesome!

I cannot describe what it feels like to see your dream take off.  Much thanks and love to Dave, who has made this possible!  

Cycling has been extremely therapeutic for me, and has helped me through the darkest times of my life.  Literally.  Vanderkitten has given me my cycling soul back.  It has resurrected my feisty, "I'm gunna kick your ass in this bike race" attitude.  J-dub showed me the Vanderkitten website well over a year ago, and the rest has been history.  Thanx J-dub!