I wish I was lying when I tell ya'll I get SO MUCH SHIT from about 85% of the people in my life for being what I like to call an extroverted introvert and wanting to spend my free time preferably curled up in my bed with my perfect pooches, carry out Mexican food, Netflix, and a glass of wine. That is how I recharge #judgeme. Doing what makes you feel revitalized and ready to take on the world is a lot more important than doing what everyone else thinks you should be doing. When my Crohn's got bad I started to realize that I could spend my good days doing what other people wanted and being miserable or spend my good days enjoying what I like. As a person who loves approval of those around me, it is an uphill battle but I am slowly feeling more and more comfortable opting for the wine, puppies, tacos, chill. And clearly a lot of other people feel me on that considering this is one of Coffee In The Shower's top selling sweatshirts.
Join me in my extroverted introvert revolution and order one of these ASAP (LINK HERE). They are also insanely soft and baggy so it's like a Snuggie you can wear to take your dogs out to pee without your neighbors ridiculing you for eternity.
Anyone who knows me, knows how obsessively in love I am with my sweet puppy Charleston. Well, our little guy just turned one and right when we were getting out of the crazy puppy phase and things were calming down we decided to shake things up again.
Thank God Matt puts up with my on a whim decisions because I fell in love with a sweet little puppy's story and all of a sudden, Charleston has a new puppy brother. I wrote about Caleb (now Rhaegar)'s story for a little special something hopefully coming later but I wanted to share it with you guys.
Oh... and the whole reason I had such a connection with this little guy... he has tummy problems just like his new mama!
"Rhaegar (formerly Caleb) came to PAWS rescue with his litter and was a shy little guy looking for a loving home. He was supposed to be the first puppy who was adopted. The night before his adoption he got very sick and ended up having to get emergency surgery to get three feet of his intestines removed. Like any major surgery the cost was astronomical and the home care would be intense. For a while they weren't sure if our sweet little guy was going to make it. PAWS started a fundraiser to cover the costs associated with his medical care. Matt and I followed Rhaegar's story through the PAWS Facebook page and were so in love with him without even meeting him.
I obsessively checked to see how he was doing and was convinced that this puppy was meant to be ours! We were toying around with the idea of adopting a brother for our dog Charleston so when we saw that Rhaegar was starting to do better and needed a foster/forever home I immediately emailed PAWS. I explained that no matter what he needed as far as his health we could make happen. Matt is a nurse and I have Crohn's disease so neither of us are strangers to tummy problems, special diets, and medical appointments. I, then, obsessively checked my email until I heard back that we were approved for this special little pup. The minute we arrived at PAWS to get him, Rhaegar was so excited to meet us and Charleston was so excited to meet him!
Rhaegar is full of love and kisses and I couldn't wait to give him the most beautiful life full of love. We've only had Rhaegar for a week now but he has changed our lives already. We are so thankful to have him in our lives and he has been a great little brother for Charleston. What really impacted me about the whole situation is the love and community surrounding PAWS. If it weren't for Katie and her team raising money, syringe feeding, going back and forth to vet appointments, and nursing Rhaegar back to health he would not be here today. With so many other puppies to tend to, PAWS could have given up on this little guy.
The thousand and some dollars that was fundraised brought me to tears because I saw how many people in the community really care and support PAWS and their efforts. Rhaegar's story changed our lives and gave us a renewed belief in the good of humanity. We are so blessed to be able to provide this special little guy with a loving home full of snuggles, healthy treats, and playtime. We are able to do this because of PAWS."
I've been waiting to write this post for FAR too long. Knowing how much reading other people's stories and blog throughout my journey with Crohn's has helped me makes me want to make this post 100% perfect for ya'll so I just keep putting it off. I have so many things that I can't wait to share that I feel will not make as much sense without hearing my backstory so it's time to buckle down, release any idea of perfection, and let my thoughts flow. Of course if you have any questions or I missed any important or relevant details feel free to ask.
I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease a little over a year ago but have been struggling with this my entire life. Ever since I was young I had extreme stomach problems that the doctors chalked up to me being "anxious" or "I was just born that way". Well everyone... I was born that way, but the way I was born was literally making my body attack itself. I went through so many years of just assuming my stomach issues were part of everyday life and just no one else talked about it. I made it through high school and college, frequently getting sick with what I thought was just a crappy immune system (I literally got mono THREE times). I was exhausted everyday but thats what all college kids go through, right? Fast forward to being in my first "grown up" job while finishing school. I'm more stressed than I have ever been in my whole life and vomiting everyday... multiple times a day... every time I eat. After about a year of living like that I could tell me body was breaking down on me. I could barely get out of bed each day, my teeth were eroding, my throat was sore, my stomach felt like knives were stabbing it 24/7. I got an appointment with one of the leading Gastroenterologists in my area and he immediately said that I needed to cut my stress level. At this point I had graduated and been working intensely for a bit and I loved what I did but I needed to make a change. Life in the creative world was what I always dreamed of but it is not conducive to someone who is suffering with a chronic illness. The hours are long, the stress levels are high, and the health insurance is non existent. I ended up leaving my job while keeping very quiet about my health because I was honestly ashamed and didn't want to accept weakness or failure.
At this point in the Summer of 2015 I was a mixture of the happiest and most depressed I have ever been. I was lucky enough to meet an amazing man when I was on the brink of this health disaster who opted to stick things out with me. To get really real here.... I actually projectile vomited on our first date and made every attempt to try and leave early because I was sure he hated me. Turns out dating a nurse has it's perks and my throw up was the least gross thing he had experienced that week. While I was experiencing this amazing beginning of our relationship through these first months I was also struggling with the hell that my body was putting me through. Most days I was unable to get out of bed until maybe 1pm. I was so weak that the simple act of going to the grocery store was enough to knock me out for a good few hours. I went from being a 16 hour per day worker to someone that could barely get out of bed to go to dinner with her boyfriend.
My doctor put me through a colonoscopy, an endoscopy, and an MRI, as well as a ton of blood work, all which came back inconclusive. My symptoms continued to worsen and the doctor suggested I swallow a pill camera so we could see my entire digestive tract. FINALLY, a test with conclusive results. The pill camera revealed some serious inflammation and lesions in the part of my intestines that fell in the blind spot that can only be seen by this specific test. I was so relieved that there was finally something solid about my health that we knew. The next uphill battle was deciding on the right treatment.
I started on Xifaxan which was hell to get approved by my insurance company. After a two week course of that I saw no change so it was on to the next. I then started on Pentasa which is an anti-inflammatory that specifically targets the intestines. In 90% of patients Pentasa works wonders but I am in the 10% whose bodies are actually negatively effected by the drug. My intestines ended up so inflamed that the doctor thought I had a bowel blockage so I ended up in the hospital for a week on a variety of antibiotics, pain meds, and laxatives. (SIDE NOTE: This hospital visit is two and a half weeks into my brand new job that I got because I thought I could work again thanks to high hope that the Pentasa would work.... The dwindling bank account and growing medical bills were also contributing factors to my go back to work decision). During this time, my doctor visited me and said that it unless I wanted to continue with this quality of life I needed to switch to a biologic ASAP. I weighed my options and we decided on Cimzia for a variety of reasons. After my discharge from the hospital I worked with my doctor's insurance team to get Cimzia approved through my coverage. They agreed to cover half of the $3000 that was the cost of two shots once per month. My doctor used my case to rally for the drug company to cover the rest of my expenses which they ended up saying yes to. I was the first person in the practice to receive this new biologic and while that definitely made me nervous I was ready to do any and everything to get my life back.
I have been on Cimzia for about 9 months now and as much as I hate getting stabbed in the stomach with burning liquid once a month, I do love the improvements I have made. The symptoms that I was experiencing before were so life altering that it is hard to explain to someone who has not experienced it. My stomach permanantly looked like I have 7 months pregnant, I vomited or was running to the bathroom after every meal, and my face and body were broken out in hives. No matter how much gluten I cut out or how many homeopathic remedies I tried, it was clear that my case really did need some extra help. I'm not going to lie, the side effects of Cimzia do suck sometimes but every time I get annoyed I think about the amazing quality of life I wouldn't have if it weren't for those injections.
As you can tell Crohn's Disease awareness is something that I am extremely passionate about. Many members of my family suffer with cases of IBD ranging in severity. I went over 20 years being kept quiet so now it is my time to share and let others know that being an advocate for your own health is crucial. Chronic illnesses are so difficult to diagnose but if you feel that something in your body isn't right you should act on it, because you know your own body.
Now that I have shared my story, I feel more confident sharing my day to day life and struggles. The only Crohn's community helped me so much when I was first diagnosed and still helps me until this day so I am striving to be that same resource now and give back. If you have any questions regarding my experience, my treatments, or anything else, please feel free to comment or contact me directly
Avocado Toast is ALL OVER social media... (Instagram...Pinterest... I'm looking at you!). I am a huge advocate of avocados and eggs are my go to source of protein in the morning so this avo toast seems like a no brainer favorite for me. As a gluten free gal things need to be modified a bit though. I have tried many different versions of the "toast" portion... anything from gluten free pizza crust, to polenta, to gluten free bread. All of these options had their own perks but my tried and true favorite has become the corn tortilla. It is light enough that it doesn't overpower the avocado and the egg and it adds a bit of a taco flare which I can't complain about. This whole breakfast takes less than 10 minutes to make and is absolutely delicious.
I start with mashing the avocado with a tiny bit of salt and pepper, frying an egg, and then putting the corn tortilla on the frying pan for about 20 seconds to soften it up. The picture shows my basic version but sometimes I like to mix it up adding some tabasco or other hot sauce and maybe even cheese if I am feeling up to it. Another favorite addition is refried beans which definitely add a taco feel. Everyone who knows me knows that tacos are my all time favorite food so having them for breakfast is basically heaven. Overall this breakfast is a winner because it hits the spot and offers a great mix of protein, carbs, and healthy fat and on top of that it is so quick and simple to make!
What are your favorite ways to mix up the classic "avocado toast"?
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.