Running is probably the hardest sport I have ever done. But, what makes it even harder is running with an incurable disease. In case you’re just tuning in I have Crohn’s disease. I never really heard much about Crohn’s disease growing up. And, until recently I have not heard about it in the news or on television, in the paper, or even on the radio.
In case you aren’t aware let me give you a brief overview of Crohn’s disease and what people go through. I warn you know it is pretty gross but I will do my best to not be too nasty. Crohn’s disease is an auto immune disorder. it can affect you anywhere from your mouth to your Anus. As most of you know when you eat food you chew it up and swallow it. the food gets broken down in your stomach and turns to a liquid. From there it it moves into your small intestine and nutrients are absorbed into your body. the excess moves into you large intestine and then you poop it out.
With me it my Crohn’s disease effects my small intestine. No two people are affected the same. So for example I can not eat garlic or purple onions (I can eat white onions…) weird huh? But, another person my be fine eating those foods and not be able to tolerate red meat. Anyway, since my disease effects my small intestine when food would enter it my body would think something was wrong and it would rush to get that food out of me as fast as possible. So if you remember it is all liquid at this point. I would have unbearable cramping and horrendous diarrhea( I warned you it would get gross). When I was my sickest I was going to the rest room about 20 times per day! I am 6ft 3″ tall and I dropped down to 159lbs. I was weak and tired and in so much pain. Before I was diagnosed I was convinced I was dying. It was really scary. I was given so much medication, having blood,urine and stool samples taken and no one could figure out what was going on.
When I was finally diagnosed it was a relief. it was like my death sentence was taken away and I was going to be okay. I had surgery and 1 meter of my small intestine was removed. I immediately went into remission and put on 20lbs on in a month. I now weigh about 195lbs.
So it sounds like things are improving right? They were but not any more. Stress is a huge trigger for Crohn’s. Well, work has been incredibly stressful and I started having more Crohn’s flare ups. You know what that means right? More unbearable cramping, more diarrhea and more weight loss. So, With the pain and diarrhea I lose weight and muscle and feel bad so bad that I can’t run and I can not relieve my stress. It really is a vicious cycle. I have been to the plenty of doctor’s in the past couple of weeks and my Gastrointestinal doctor says to me “Josh, you need to quit your job…It’s Killing you!”I looked at him and said “are you serious?” He said “yes!”
That brought me to a cross roads in my life… It made me realize I need to figure out what makes me happy and what makes me unhappy. And, clearly we all know that my current situation makes me unhappy. It is time to move on. Tomorrow I will go to the local tech school and talk to a counselor about learning a trade. I will live off my GI Bill and Pell Grants and be a student again.
I would rather go broke doing what I want then be miserable and sick doing something I hate.
Let’s close this with one of my favorite Crohn’s running stories. I was out running and I was at about the 2 mile point of a planned 4 mile run. I was crossing a small bridge when I felt that familiar rumble. I knew I was going to have to go and I was going to have to go soon. I knew I couldn’t just drop my short and poop on the bridge so I picked up my pace all while trying to not look like I was clinching my but cheeks together. I crested the bridge and started down the other side and I said to myself “let gravity help you pick up the pace” (usually I jog slow but now I was like Forrest…I was running!) I got to the grass and I saw a sign on the side of the road and I had accepted the fact that Iw as going to have to poop behind the sign (not my proudest moment). But then a block down the street I see a gas station. and I start sprinting. I ran as fast as I could and burst into the convenience store. I looked frantically for the rest room. but, I could not find it. The man at the counter was just staring at me so I calmly said “bathroom?” He just stared at me like he had never seen a man in shorts before. So I screamed in a panic at the top of my lungs in my best drill instructor voice “BATHROOM!” he stood up straight and pointed and I ran to the back burst into the mens room and went just in time. I did my thing, cleaned up, washed my hands, and headed out. And I realized like life things always work out in the end. And, if things haven’t worked out yet it just isn’t the end.
I walked out of the store ready to start running again, looked at my watch to start the timer , and I realized I never stopped it…After all my sport has no time outs…