I'm sure that is what you are all thinking....as I haven't had a personal post since July :o/
Well after some thought about the circumstances that created my unfortunate hiatus i've decided to use what I have learned in the past two and a half months as the subject for my return post...so here goes.
For those of you who are unaware, I have battled a disease known as Crohn's disease for the past 6.5 years of my life. Crohn's involves inflammation of the intestine (either the colon, the small intestine, or both including the ileum). Inflammation refers to swelling, redness, and loss of normal function. There is evidence that the inflammation is caused by various products of the immune system that attack the body itself instead of helpfully attacking a foreign invader (a virus or bacteria, for example). The inflammation of Crohn's disease most commonly affects the last part of the ileum (a section of the small intestine), and often includes the large intestine (the colon). However, inflammation may also occur in other areas of the gastrointestinal tract, affecting the mouth, esophagus, or stomach. Crohn's disease differs from ulcerative colitis, the other major type of IBD, in that the inflammation of Crohn's disease affects all the layers of the intestinal wall, while ulcerative colitis affects only the lining of the intestine.
In my specific case, the crohn's continuously attacked my entire colon, ileum, and began to spread into the nourishment absorbing section of my small intestine. For years, I hung on by a thread with the use of various synthetic prescriptions including pills, sub-cutaneous injections, and IV infusions. The quality of life I experienced throughout these years (including the precious college years that were unfortunately un-enjoyable) was sub par to say the least. I suffered through pain, nausea, weight loss and gain through steroid use, mood swings, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, anemia, malnutrition, and years of an eating disorder that resulted from many of the afore mentioned aspects. My life went from one of constant activity, joy, and health that I took so much for granted to one of basic fight or flight....Survival.
Luckily in the past year I was lucky enough to graduate despite my struggles. With all that I have been through it has been my passion to go back to graduate school for psychological counseling. However, with the condition my body was in I knew I needed to take a break from school, so in August of 2007 I applied for a job with Center for Chiropractic & Wellness. I figured that the position would be enjoyable and low stress enough for me to try and focus on my health and some form of recovery...something I hadn't experienced for the past >6 years...
Within a month of working with the incredible staff and doctors here at CCW however, I realized that this job was more than just a job...it was a part of my destiny and my path to recovery. Dr. Greenfield used her chiropractic applied kinesiology (AK) techniques to find serious gluten and corn issues that no MD had ever thought to test me for. Simply exluding these two foods from my diet made life so much more manageable. I actually began to have some random "good" days! I was so amazed at the effects of this and other holistic techniques such as acupuncture, myofascial release and more that my job transformed into a lifestyle. My job incited a passion deep within my previously apathetic and jaded self for whole body wellness....and giving that gift to others. I began researching, reading, and exploring different forms of natural medicine, psychological healing and much more. I helped my mother to tackle her lifetime battle with constipation and "IBS" in a natural manner with whole food supplementation and detoxification, I gave suggestions to my father on how to decrease his blood pressure without relying on dangerous prescription drugs, I began to stear my boyfriend away from McDonalds double cheeseburgers and diet cokes by slowly introducing in tasty but whole and healthy alternatives and slipping articles on aspartame and preservatives' relations to cancer and diseases in his breifcase. In short I began to affect the people around me with my growing interest. I began to feel emotionally fulfilled. I carried this over to my job as well as I was promoted from Chiropractic Assistant to "Wellness Coordinator" in December of 07' and began to spread awareness among patients as part of my job through private meetings, patient education series, online assistance and more. Life felt on the up swing for once...
...I still had the residual affects of the past 6 years of Crohn's weighing heavily on my body. 6 years of disease without any sort of remission really takes a toll on ones body and despite the fact that I had finally found a way to halt the destruction this disease placed on my intestines, the damage that was done previously was irreversible and serious enough to become, eventually, life threatening. After months and months of ignoring this fact, my body finally started to give out at a rapid rate.
So what did I do? Well of course being a wellness coordinator for a prominent holistically based office you would think that I would STOP and LISTEN to my body....Right?
Wrong. While I was enveloped in the importance of whole body health, I also battled another lifelong disease....perfectionism.
Because I wanted to impress my co-workers, my family, my friends, and myself in a sense I ignored my pain. Instead of taking direct actions for my well being, I pushed and pushed for months....each day getting harder to get through, harder to wake up to, and harder to approach with efficiency and motivation. Finally, however, my body did some things that forced me to go to my IBD doctor for a serious conversation about my state of being. Within two days I was scheduled for a complete removal of my colon and procedures that left me with a huge incision across my lower abdomen and a stoma covered with a bag...details are unimportant, other than to say that this was my worst nightmare realized. Ever since my diagnosis I had feared that such an event would be inevitable and when it finally happened I was devastated.
I was even more scared however, when they showed me images of my diseased and now removed colon and portion of small intestine. I was informed that it was the worst they had seen in a long time, if not in their entire career. They were surprised that I had made it the past year...I said a silent prayer at that point for my job at CCW and all the hard work of the practitioners on my health.
After 35 days in the hospital in severe pain and mental turmoil, however, I realized that I now had a second lease on life. "I now know how to maintain my health," I reminded myself...the key lay in the past year of learning I had taken part in. Now that the diseased sections of my body were gone, all I had to do was diligently work on creating that sense of whole body health and wellness in my self once again both physically, through natural whole food supplementation and balanced diet, and mentally, through Neuro-Emotional Technique, mantras, and positive thinking and therapy.
My problem became my salvation.
I have now been out of the hospital for a month and back at work for a week and if I have anything to share with you all about my experience it is this....
Value Your Health
Value Your Life
Treat Yourself Kindly
...and Never Underestimate the Power of Natural Healing.
Remember...it wasn't the perscriptions that kept me alive for the past year, it was the mental and physical learning and actions I found through my job at CCW, and all that the staff here have inspired in me...I now have a new life, not just another basic life saving procedure.
I have a quality of life now... not just an existance.