What an amazing summer… I got engaged and bought my wedding dress; attended the Emmy’s; ran my first half marathon and a 5K for work; celebrated 1 year colonless at a family reunion in Kentucky; hit up a Tigs game with my dad; hand fed a giraffe; vacationed in Mexico—the 20th country I’ve been to; kayaked the Grand River with Lexi; and closed it out wine touring with Em.
Never could I have dreamed any of this with my broken belly. Sometimes you just have to jump and take a leap of faith when the scariest choice is the best.


What a lucky girl I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people. 

What an amazing summer… I got engaged and bought my wedding dress; attended the Emmy’s; ran my first half marathon and a 5K for work; celebrated 1 year colonless at a family reunion in Kentucky; hit up a Tigs game with my dad; hand fed a giraffe; vacationed in Mexico—the 20th country I’ve been to; kayaked the Grand River with Lexi; and closed it out wine touring with Em.

Never could I have dreamed any of this with my broken belly. Sometimes you just have to jump and take a leap of faith when the scariest choice is the best.

What a lucky girl I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people. 


A powerful thing, destiny. You can’t run from it. Not in the end.
The 100 Foot Journey

Victory!

I ate a dinner salad last night for the first time since June 19, 2013 and lived to tell the tale. Now that’s a success story, folks!


84. Regain the confidence I lost in myself years ago
Quite literally, it has been over two years since I’ve put on a bikini. With my disease, came copious amounts of medicine, including predisone, which caused me to gain quite a bit of weight. It was the only thing keeping me alive pre-op, so I had no other choice but to watch as my body changed, my skinny figure slowly disappearing behind small stretch marks around my legs. I tried everything to make it stop: worked out when I could, ate healthier than I ever have, never drank… but nothing mattered. I was mortified, so I refused to go in public because society and culture told me this wasn’t pretty.
As a former athlete, and more specifically a swimmer always comfortable in a bathing suit, this was a 180 degree switch for me. My life was in the water, in a bathing suit, and then all of a sudden, it wasn’t. What I was used to was gone, so in my mind, I wasn’t good enough.
But something in me changed and this year, I am proud of my scars. The stretch marks have turned white and hide, reminding me I never gave up and lived to tell the tale. The surgery scars on my stomach show I am strong enough to let nothing slow me down, including gaping holes and missing vital organs.
I’ve since lost all the weight I gained and while I still struggle with image issues from time to time, I look at my scars with love. Because they remind me of my story. So in Mexico, for the first time in over two years, I sported a bikini, scars and all, the entire week—all 8 of my brand new ones. Even though I wouldn’t wear one, I wanted to and continued to buy too many… But beauty and strength come in how we rise after we fall.
Pop culture and western society tells us we have to be a size 2 to be pretty, but aren’t we done with that? Aren’t we past judging people for their size? Isn’t everyone beautiful in their own way? I think that’s the best part of life. We’re all different and we’re beautiful because of it.
So I’m crossing this one off my list. But it will ALWAYS be something I deal with, working on being proud and happy with who I am and the way I look. But this week was a milestone. And that deserves a check off the 101 in 1001 list.

84. Regain the confidence I lost in myself years ago

Quite literally, it has been over two years since I’ve put on a bikini. With my disease, came copious amounts of medicine, including predisone, which caused me to gain quite a bit of weight. It was the only thing keeping me alive pre-op, so I had no other choice but to watch as my body changed, my skinny figure slowly disappearing behind small stretch marks around my legs. I tried everything to make it stop: worked out when I could, ate healthier than I ever have, never drank… but nothing mattered. I was mortified, so I refused to go in public because society and culture told me this wasn’t pretty.

As a former athlete, and more specifically a swimmer always comfortable in a bathing suit, this was a 180 degree switch for me. My life was in the water, in a bathing suit, and then all of a sudden, it wasn’t. What I was used to was gone, so in my mind, I wasn’t good enough.

But something in me changed and this year, I am proud of my scars. The stretch marks have turned white and hide, reminding me I never gave up and lived to tell the tale. The surgery scars on my stomach show I am strong enough to let nothing slow me down, including gaping holes and missing vital organs.

I’ve since lost all the weight I gained and while I still struggle with image issues from time to time, I look at my scars with love. Because they remind me of my story. So in Mexico, for the first time in over two years, I sported a bikini, scars and all, the entire week—all 8 of my brand new ones. Even though I wouldn’t wear one, I wanted to and continued to buy too many… But beauty and strength come in how we rise after we fall.

Pop culture and western society tells us we have to be a size 2 to be pretty, but aren’t we done with that? Aren’t we past judging people for their size? Isn’t everyone beautiful in their own way? I think that’s the best part of life. We’re all different and we’re beautiful because of it.

So I’m crossing this one off my list. But it will ALWAYS be something I deal with, working on being proud and happy with who I am and the way I look. But this week was a milestone. And that deserves a check off the 101 in 1001 list.


Guest Blog: Jon Adamy

Just over a year ago, Amy went into surgery to have her colon removed. Just over two weeks ago, she finished a half marathon for the CCFA.

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Thinking about her success, both physically and mentally since the ileostomy is difficult to grasp. Hers is the kind of winning that eases into existence; an achievement with no coronation, a victory with no finish line. There was no “you’re cured,” speech from a doctor, and the effects of the disease aren’t gone.

But, the passing of time softens the edge of the pain she endured after the surgery, and in turn, softens the amazement factor sometimes for her, and those who know her best.

In thinking about this, there’s a certain guilt involved for me. A feeling of under appreciating the magnitude of the changes her body has, and continues, to endure. It’s like watching a video of the moon landing not being in total awe of the greatness of it all, simply because you’re so used to it seeing it.

But that is the amazing part.

Much like the moon landing, that feeling fades because Amy makes it look so easy. Her strength and gracefulness in dealing with colitis makes it so that glossing over all she’s gone though and simply remembering how well she’s doing now has become an easy path.

But it’s Amy’s strength that makes it easy for me to forget the picture of her colon on her Christmas card, and easy to dull the pain of the memories from the days following her first surgery. Easy for me to forget that there are still people that are going what she went through.

It’s no surprise Amy is a great endurance athlete. Her mindset when it comes to swimming or running for hours is the same mentality she brings to her health. It’s a will to continue, to forget the next mile, and focus solely on what’s ahead.

Before her surgery, Amy’s health was a sprint. Times without a flare were a golden bridge between the times that her symptoms tried to drag her down.

Since her surgery, Amy’s health is a marathon. There are certainly less hills and valleys, but she’s traded her colon for that more stable, flat health landscape. Her decision to have surgery certainly isn’t for everyone, but for a person that underwent so much physical hardship, it’s nice to see her have a chance to lace up her running shoes, and show the world what enduring is all about.

For all the people who are facing a day to day struggle with colitis and Crohn’s right now, whether you’re running a sprint, or a marathon, you’re moving forward, and like Amy has shown me, that’s the most amazing part of it all.

-Jon Adamy, Amy’s fiance


It’s the simple things…

You know what I miss about pre-IBD life? Sleeping on my stomach.


One Year Later.

One year. 365 days. How much we change in what hindsight is such a short period of time. image

One year ago today, I was in surgery getting my colon taken out. I had fears, hopes, aspirations, dreams, worries and every single emotion in between. I didn’t know what to expect, but really, it couldn’t get much worse than how I felt to begin with.

But here I am today. 365 days later. And I look back on my life in that time and can’t help but smile in pride of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve traveled. Run a half marathon. Got engaged. Took a new job. Won several awards. Lost 30lbs coming off steroids. Made new friends. I’VE LIVED.

I couldn’t have EVER asked for any of those adventures with my colon inside of me. It was holding me back in ways I didn’t understand until it was gone.

Of course, there have been struggles along the way. A second surgery. Healing wounds. Lingering symptoms. But looking at my life in the last year, I am so amazed of how much better and healthier I am. I am amazed of what an opportunity having the courage to do the surgery has brought me.

I have emceed an event for Take Steps. I ran a half marathon for Team Challenge. I have raised thousands of dollars for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. I have been given a platform to talk about something that has haunted and hurt me for years in the making. I’ve been given a voice to do something about it.

So would I do it again? Absolutely. Do I hope anyone else ever has to do it themselves? Absolutely not.

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Here I am. One year later with my scar and all it’s lifesaving, beautiful glory.

So cheers my friends, to new and better days. We never know what the future brings, but sometimes even the scariest things can bring us the best results.


"HAVE YOU TRIED?" THE QUESTION WE ALL HATE.

agirlwithguts:

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Have you tried paleo? Cutting out dairy?  Meditation, hookworms, fecal transplants? Blending all your food? Acupuncture? Medical marijuana, eating tree bark, licking a llamas butt? 

Read More

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I’ve tried something or tried to explain away my symptoms from something completely unrelated to IBD…


73. Eat a deep dish pizza in Chicago
For the life of me, I can’t find the picture I took of the pizza we ate after the race in Chicago… so this delicious generic will have to cut it. It’s probably for the better I don’t live anywhere near this place because I’m certain that much cheese would bring me back every single day. SO GOOD.

73. Eat a deep dish pizza in Chicago

For the life of me, I can’t find the picture I took of the pizza we ate after the race in Chicago… so this delicious generic will have to cut it. It’s probably for the better I don’t live anywhere near this place because I’m certain that much cheese would bring me back every single day. SO GOOD.



What This Disease Gives, It Can Immediately Take Back.

On Saturday, I finished my first half marathon on behalf of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America’s (CCFA) Team Challenge. I raised over $3,000 and come race day, each mile I ran was worth $34,000—powerful to say the least.

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It was inspiring being surrounded by people equally as passionate as myself to raise awareness and money toward a cure. You feel sort of at home.

After the race, I got a little emotional realizing I am almost one year out from having my total colectomy. A year ago, this wouldn’t have even been a dream, as it simply wouldn’t have been possible. I was too sick for too long. So finishing, hand in hand with my fiance, was the best way I could possibly imagine.

But I still identify with having UC and get asked why quite often. Friends. Other IBD advocates. Even some nurses and doctors. Because UC affects the colon, and mine is now gone, in theory, my symptoms should be gone. But wouldn’t life be great if everything worked that simply? 

Part of my commitment to this blog is to be real, open and honest about my experience with the disease and my surgeries. And while I don’t like talking about the “bad times,” sometimes they are necessary.

Monday night I was back in the emergency room with excruciating pain in my abdomen. I was getting sick and violently throwing up (vomiting hasn’t been something I’ve dealt with much with UC). I remember vomiting into a trash can from my ER bed as a nurse walked in, me begging him to hook up my IV faster and get drugs flowing. I was throwing up ice chips, so they kept me longer and gave me more meds. When I could finally keep down some sips of water, I got to go home and sleep it off. Which then brought on the fever of 102.2 all day and constant trips to the bathroom.

But today I was back in the office. People see I’m back to work and assume I’m feeling better. Let me explain why this isn’t necessarily the case…

First of all, I’m a horrible combination of stubborn and dedicated. I have a commitment to my company and I like to stay true to that. Even while home yesterday, I worked a little from my bed. It’s both a blessing and a curse to care so much about things I’m involved in. Secondly, I only get 6 sick days a year, the standard for most employers. But anyone with an uncontrollable chronic illness will understand this. It’s June and I’ve already used 3. Which means I only get 3 more until the end of 2014. That’s a really scary gamble for a disease that can hospitalize you in a matter of hours. So if I’m not in uncontrollable pain or my fever isn’t well over 100, I’m likely at my desk.

What this disease gives, it can immediately take back. Saturday I was happily jogging a half marathon and nearly 48 hours later I was praying I didn’t have a leak, bent over sobbing in my bathroom. People will always try to find a way to understand (maybe it was an allergic reaction, or bad Indian food), but bottom line is this: surgery isn’t always a cure.

I still deal with symptoms on and off. They’re much more controlled (usually) now that I’m colon-less, but it’s an imperfect fix. I certainly consider myself overall better and healthier post-op. But I deal with it when I have to, take it easy when my body demands and keep in constant communication with my GI. I do the best I can with what I’ve been dealt. But don’t we all?

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One day at a time. That’s all we can ask for.

But that’s why I rally. That’s why I fundraise. And that’s why it still matters to me. Not because the scars still remind me, but because it’s still my reality and I’m still waiting for the magic fix. And until someone can cure it, I won’t stop.


I’M ENGAGED!

Last May, Jon and I went to Mackinac Island before my surgery as a last hope to relax before the hellstorm that would come June 21 when I kissed away my colon. It was wonderful, so we planned to go back this year.

So Thursday after I got off work, we drove up to St. Ignace to stay. The next morning, Jon and I planned to head over to the island, but not before eating breakfast and stopping by Bridgeview Park—a favorite picture spot of ours.

After a stroll around, my handsome better half held me in his arms and told me how much he loved me and asked me “wouldn’t this be a great place to get engaged?” and dropped to one knee. What he said in between that and my saying yes between happy tears is a blur to us both. He put a gorgeous ring on my finger, held onto me more and pointed to a man hiding behind us with a camera. He hired a photographer to take pictures as he asked me to be his wife (those pictures to follow).

So… I’M ENGAGED! To a wonderful man who I love with everything I know how. And I cannot wait to make a life together on May 30, 2015. <3

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Oh, and it knocks off two things on my 101 in 1001! ;]

Let the wedding planning begin!!!


GRAB A SUPPORT SHIRT!

Only two days left to grab a support shirt! All proceeds will go to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America!

BUY NOW: http://bit.ly/MustacheShirts

Help me spread the word far and wide across the support group lands! :]



Real Talk.

My life is a constant battle between needing a belt in the morning and an elastic waistband by the afternoon. You know you have IBD when…