Balance

Redistribution of energy

states_of_matter

This has been sitting in my drafts list for over a year and I am stoked to finally be putting words to it.

The basic concept I want to discuss is the wording and general approach to a chronic disease “cure.” Many words surround this. We often will hear that we are trying to beat a disease or battle through or fix it or solve or cure. While much of this can be applied to acute illness, I am not sold on the fact that those words apply to, or are useful in, describing chronic illness. What if, instead of a cure, we were in search of a redistribution of energy? Instead of focusing on “fixing” on our body, we simply rearranged the way our bodies use our cells, proteins, hormones, etc?

Basically, I’m thinking…it’s all the same molecules. We’ve had the same water here since the dinosaurs. And yet, that water takes a million different forms across a million different applications. Why can’t it be the same with chronic disease in our physical (or mental or emotional or spiritual or physiological) body?

The three more well known states of matter are pictured above. Let’s apply H2O to the example: two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. By applying different levels of energy (heat, pressure, cold, time, space) to these atoms, we get water, ice and steam. Pretty damn cool when you think about it. It inspires me because I know that although we are creating new cells all the time, my body is obviously stuck in some sort of rut. However, by changing how I apply different energies, perhaps I could rearrange those cells a bit and have a balance within my body that doesn’t include colitis.

This intention of finding balance through redistribution of energy instead of trying to fix myself all the time has been transformational and immensely helpful recently. I spent/wasted a lot of time over the past 11 years trying to fix myself with results that have been good, not great, and nothing permanent yet. I still have flareups; the disease is still with me. By reframing my “problem” into simply a confused arrangement of molecules, it seems more more doable to become healthy. Perhaps this is all semantics, and that is itself a “cure” by certain definitions, but for some reason in my head, this concept makes balanced health seem less impossible. Which is nice.

PS-I am not a scientist by trade, so it’s entirely possible I messed up a bit of the science here. I will count on Kevin to correct any egregious errors. Mostly I’m just using this all as a metaphor, so work with me here! :)

 

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

I spent this whole blog post listening to Adele’s recent TV special from Radio City Music Hall. Suffice to say, it’s fairly epic. She seems like a relatively normal human for being a ludicrously popular music star. Kind of cool. I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say that “Hello” (although it does make me laugh when I sing Lionel Richie on top of it) is one of the most fun songs to belt out of all time. Feels so good to let your voice soar sometimes! Even if you sound nothing like Adele.

I was trying to link directly to “Hello” but that is not happening in a short google search. So here’s a link to the entire show. Luckily it’s the first song!

 

 

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Categories: Balance, Colitis, Healing, Self-love | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Nana 101

Yesterday, my grandmother, Michaela Marina Durán (née Moreno), would have turned 101 years old. She passed away in 1985, when I was three years old. Consequently, I don’t know her too well, but one of my earliest memories of love is from Nana. I have a strong image of her in the doorway at 558 Ramona, holding a baby (although I can’t think of who that would be…maybe a toddler version of Monica or Justine :)). I don’t have any words associated with the memory, just a clear image. And a powerful, visceral feeling of love coming from her.

It’s difficult for me to conceptualize the time period she must have lived in or her life in general. 1914 was such a different time for women, especially women of color. She was the mother of eight children, and I’m told she also miscarried three times. 11 pregnancies…I cannot even imagine. Having only one baby makes me question her overall sanity for going forward with the process seven more times. ;) There have been multiple times already over my one year of motherhood and 9-10 months of pregnancy that I have asked Nana for strength and felt her love in return. When I was going through my insane labor process, I felt her very brightly and I know she helped me stay alive and healthy to push out my baby boy.

Why talk about this now, after a full year of silence on this blog? Why visit these memories? I don’t know, really. I was in yoga last night and during savasana, it dawned on me that I’ve been receiving a lot of messages lately. These messages are becoming more loud and urgent in my brain, and are even showing up in my dreams. I have a calling to serve others. I know that, and I’ve known that for awhile. I do help people in my job/career now, however there is a larger audience for me to speak to and I have to start taking those next steps. I want to support others with IBD to find balance. I think it’s the only way I will “cure” myself of my chronic disease. I will come up with a series of postures and call them “Yoga for IBD.” It’s a concept my friend Joel cae up with and tried to get me to help with many years ago, but I pushed him away. I will also go back to school and learn more about mind-body medicine model with the intention of helping other UC’ers with their pain, balance and journey. The question is when? I don’t know, but the messaging is becoming louder that I need to start something quickly. My first step is returning to my writing. And today I wanted to write about Nana’s love.

I don’t have many pictures of my grandmother here at the house. Just three really. Although they are prized possessions to me. Two of them have love notes on the back from Pop, my grandfather. They were married on April 12, 1941 and stayed together until she passed in 1985. These love notes were from 1938, when he was still in treatment for his tuberculosis and she was there for a visit. It is moving to read his words of love to her, penned so beautifully, so long ago. I now see why my dad is such a romantic.

Anyway, this post is a ramble, but I needed to get it done. I will be taking the next steps toward my recovery and eventual balance with my colitis, and that all starts here for me. Thank you for your patience as I moved through my silence in writing and I hope to see you all here soon again.

My music corner tonight will be courtesy of Ben Harper. I pieced together a video with the pictures I do have of Nana and Pop, along with the other family photos I have here at my house. I don’t have many, still they all show the love and happiness through the foundation that Nana and Pop laid out many years ago. I love you Nana, and Happy Birthday.

Categories: Balance, Healing, Love, Self-care, Self-love | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

What’s in a diagnosis?

hello-my-name-is-001

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  Someone smart said that once.

I have been struggling with this concept for a few years now, however in the past few weeks it has come up repeatedly for me.  A diagnosis is the first thing we ask about and want to know things are going wrong.  I did this the other night with a situation that a friend is going through with their sister.  Before I could help it, I found myself asking, “Does anyone know the diagnosis?”  In essence I’m saying, what’s wrong with her and what’s it called?  As if having a name is going to solve all the problems of the world.  That’s obviously not how it is, although it sounds very appealing.  Fortunately or unfortunately, even with a specific diagnosis, we must reexamine our entire life when something is that pervasive and life-changing (like ulcerative colitis or bipolar or diabetes or whatever) to dive beyond the symptoms and figure out what is really going on.

This blog post has been extremely difficult for me to write.  I think it’s because I see both sides of the argument very clearly, and I haven’t decided which side I want to take.  Accordingly, I’m going to break it down as if I’m writing both sides of an opinion piece.  We’ll see if I come to any conclusions….

PRO-DIAGNOSIS

Naming the Game: it’s the way to go!

When I was first struggling with my ulcerative colitis, it was a scary and tenuous time in my life.  I mean, I was 22 years old, no real history of illness, and now there was blood in the toilet at the wrong time of the month.  It was weird.  Especially considering my entrenchment in western medicine at the time, I was desperate for a diagnosis.  Just tell me what’s wrong with me so I can take a pill or have surgery and be done with it.  I heard about a case study once of a woman who was going to the doctor’s office every year afraid of cancer, despite being very healthy.  When she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 42, she reported feeling relieved.  She had spent such a long time agonizing over the possibility of cancer that once she had a category to put herself in, she felt as if she had a place to belong.  And I think that is the most powerful part of someone slapping a label on you.  Humans are categorizing creatures and it makes us feel good to have a spot to neatly classify things.  “Oh, you have XYZ disease.  Don’t worry.  We have XYZ intervention/medication and that will be fine.  Here’s a group of people to talk to with the same problem.”  By having a doctor tell me I have UC, I was given a starting point.  I could join the IBD support groups and google relevant interventions and feel good that I was part of a select cohort who could understand my pain.

In spite of a common diagnosis though, my UC looks incredibly different from all of the other UC patients that I’ve met over the years.  In fact, from the anecdotal perspective that I’ve experienced thus far, no two patients seem to express UC the same way.  Some have to go to the bathroom 20 times a day.  Some go 2-3 days without pooping.  Some eat meat and bread like it’s going out of style.  Others can only find relief in vegetables and fruits.  Some have tons of blood in their stool, some have none at all.  Some have crazy gas pains and acid reflux, others have never experienced such symptoms.

Which leads me to…..

CON-DIAGNOSIS

Name, schname: what’s the flipping point??!

The importance given to a diagnosis is downright dangerous at times, whether it be for a physical or mental illness. Many people find themselves over-identifying with their disease.  Extremists may even use it as an excuse to do or not do things.  At this point of my life/illness/balance though, I don’t think there is a single diagnosis that I could personally receive that would make me change how I treat it.  Now, this may be a bit unfair given all the work I’ve done over the last 9+ years wrestling with a diagnosis.  If I were going through this process without an initial diagnosis, would I be able to attack it in the same way from the beginning?  It’s cute for me to sit here with 20/20 hindsight and say, “Well going forward, I know this is what I would do” because I’ve already been through it.  And maybe we all have to go through it to figure out what works best for our body.  However I am hopeful that even if I had an undiagnosable disease at this point of my life, I would have solid steps and interventions to make my body the best version it could be.

I prefer to think of a diagnosis as a conversation starter.  “Hey you have schizophrenia?  Great, here’s an area to begin, only know that this isn’t the end all/be all for the rest of your life.”  Even something simple like a common cold is extremely vague and unique to the person.  There are medical and homeopathic remedies that work for one person that will never work for another.  Basically the diagnosis is nice and all, but doesn’t answer the true questions or do the real work of finding a cause and treating that.

A few years ago, The Soloist, with Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. was released in theatres and it wasn’t the greatest movie ever, but it deeply moved me.  In 2009 when it came out, I was in a bad place with my colitis and was extremely unclear about what I was going to do next.  None of the medication was working anymore and I was feeling stuck.  The main character (Jamie Foxx) has fairly severe mental illness and it was very hard on his family and those around him who wanted to help him.  In one scene, there is a group counseling session and a character remarks:

I mean, it’s tired. It’s like they can’t find the medication that’s right for me, you know?”

Whew.  I started crying just by her saying that!  haha.  I’m emotional.  Still, it is SO FRUSTRATING despite having a “diagnosis” that doctors can’t seem to help you.  They have a honest motive, yet medicating a chronic illness is so…..ineffective.  It’s hard on the patient and the doctor.

The best scene though was when Robert Downey, Jr. was talking to the man running the support group.  He still was learning about Jamie Foxx’s condition and desperately wanting to help the only way he knew how.  Here is their exchange (I can’t find it on youtube.  It is about 47 minutes in to the movie if you own it or rent it.)

Robert Downey, Jr, talking about Jamie Foxx: What does he have, schizophrenia?

Group Leader: I don’t know.

Well, we should hook him up with psychiatric services and find out, right?

Yeah…I don’t get too hung up on diagnosis.

What do you mean?

What do I mean?

But how do you help someone if you don’t know what they have?

Look at these people. Every one of them’s been diagnosed more than you can imagine. And as far as I can tell, it hasn’t done them any good.

But he needs medication, right?

I’ll tell you one thing he doesn’t need: one more person telling him he needs medication.

This scene made a lot of sense to me on many levels. To be fair, it comes out of an exasperated situation where people are at the end of their rope.  Would the group leader have the same opinion if all them had never been given a diagnosis or talked to a professional at some point?  Probably not.  I guess at the end of the day, the diagnosis is important only as much as it can help you.  As long as you (or your practitioners and healing helpers) aren’t falling on your disease like a crutch, then it can be productive.  Writing things off simply because of a disease title…well I can’t seem to wrap my head around that one.

I’d love to hear your opinion!  Either here in the comments or in an email or in person next time I see you!  I am fascinated by this right now and want more input as my opinion forms….and then of course I’ll change my opinion 50 times after that.  :)

 

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

The Beatles!  Maybe you’ve heard of them?  I’ve been listening to them a lot this week.  They have so many ridiculously amazing songs; it’s hard to pick one to talk about.  I’ll pick a cover actually.  The best cover of Let It Be (in my opinionated opinion, of course) was from the movie Across The Universe.  In the movie, they took Beatles songs and made a musical with only a small amount of dialog which was interesting.  The intention and creativity behind the song choices was very well done despite the movie itself being kind of slow.

On the DVD extras, they show behind-the-scenes footage of the supremely talented woman chosen to sing Let It Be.  This is not on the youtube clip, but the director had asked the woman to simply think about the 1967 riots in Detroit and the meaning of the lyrics as she was singing.  Those riots raged for 5 days and included the National Guard, army, tanks and machine guns.  The riots left behind 43 dead, 1,189 injured, 7,200 arrests and over 2,000 buildings destroyed.  It is devastating to think about.

Wow, I must be my father’s daughter, bringing it to war culture out of nowhere!  Nevertheless it gives you a little context for this clip.  Those darn Beatles sure know how to write a moving song.

 

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Diagnosis, Healing, Patient History | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Yoga

sun-salutationWhen talking to a friend over the weekend, he mentioned that he had been going to yoga a lot recently and that he, his wife, and his new baby were all better off because of it.  He is debating taking the teacher training at CorePower (which, of course, I gushed about…not biased at all seeing as that’s where I teach), and he wanted to know if it deepened or weakened my practice.  That question put the fire under me to write this post that has been sitting patiently in my brain until now: WHY YOGA?

For me personally, I practice yoga because…..actually, let’s back up.  A little history with why I started yoga to begin with, why I continued with yoga, and why I am waking up to practice tomorrow morning despite writing this post well past midnight.

I took my first yoga class at CorePower Yoga (or CPY) back in March 2009.  As an understatement, I’ll say that I was not hooked right away.  This was not love at first pose.  I, in fact, was only there because my friend Silvia invited me and I have a hard time turning things down.  Plus I think Silvia is cool and I wanted to be cool too.  Combine that with the fact that my sister had already been practicing yoga for a few years and was chirping at me to get in the studio ASAP!!!  Like most things Michelle insists that I will like if I just freaking try it already, I resist as much as humanly possible, inevitably give in, and invariably fall in love with said suggestion.  It’s a fun cycle.  For me, anyway.  Not sure about her sisterly interpretation.  :)

Off I went to yoga class.  And it was honestly pretty terrible.  I won’t say I hated it, but I definitely did not enjoy it.  But Silvia kept inviting me to different yoga studios around PB and it became a little bit of a Saturday morning outing for us and a few others.  I didn’t go consistently, but I went….semi-regularly.  At the time, I knew I had to do something active and I couldn’t find an adult dance studio that I liked.  That’s what I really wanted to do was dance.  I loved my adult jazz class that I grew up with (started sneaking in when I was 12 despite the minimum age being 13), but there was simply no San Diego equivalent to the amazing Tim Hill’s class.   So I persisted with this yoga thing, kind of half-heartedly because I didn’t feel I had many other options.

Why did I initially get turned off by yoga?  The answer I told myself: I sucked at it.  And I hated that I sucked at it.  In general, I can pick things up pretty damn quickly.  I take it for granted that typically (outside of sports), if I focus on something for a relatively short amount of time, I’m decent at it.  Yoga was not one of those things.  I was sore, I was out of shape, I was falling over, I was out of breath, I was in my head and I was “bad” at it.  I did not like going in, time and time again, feeling like I sucked.  To add insult to injury, I didn’t even improve right away!  I didn’t feel comfortable in a yoga studio for about a year.  A year!

But I kept going.  A big reason is that there is a ton of free yoga in San Diego, and who doesn’t like free stuff?  I was bouncing around studios, trying out free week trials and figuring out what I liked/didn’t like about various yoga studios.  This one was too hot, this one too cold.  This one had great class times, but a bad location.  That one had a great location, but crappy teachers.  This one was not enough of a workout, that one left me feeling like I ran a marathon.  Me being the Goldilocks in this situation, CorePower was just right.  I like to call it the Starbucks of yoga.  It’s commercialized, but it’s a top-notch, consistent product.  There’s a lot to be said for that.  Plus I loved the format: we did sit ups in the middle of class, it was heated but not ridiculous,  there were classes all the time, and so many locations that I could drive to four studios within ten minutes of my house.  They have beautiful locker rooms with hairspray and tampons always stocked….they know their audience.  I decided to become a member a full year after that first class.  As you may remember, 2010 was a big year for me trying to finally take care of myself and not be such a doofus anymore about my health.

As I found out along the way, yoga is not something you can suck at.  Turns out the answer I told myself years ago (“I sucked at it”) isn’t actually the true one.  The true answer is that I was not ready to embrace yoga, or to embrace change in my life.  If you compare my yoga timeline to my food/nutrition/lifestyle timeline, yoga came first.  Well, technically the chiropractor came first, but yoga was a close second.  :)  And most importantly, yoga has stuck around the longest.  I think it was inevitable that I stuck with it.  It almost wasn’t even a choice.  I think my ego told myself that I had to keep going in order to “get better” at it.  The reality is that my body needed it, my spirit needed it, and the universe used my ego as the carrot to keep me going back.  Honestly, I’m so grateful that I have yoga now in my life, that I don’t care why I kept going.  I’m just glad that I did.

Being the person I am, I took CPY by the horns once I got there.  I enrolled in a few boot camps, I started cleaning as a trade to get free yoga all the time, I became pretty immersed in the culture and actually starting enjoying myself.  I had a few cathartic moments on the mat and was finally hooked.  Pretty soon, everyone was trying to talk me into teacher training.  I had zero intentions of becoming a yoga teacher.  I’m still not 100% sure why I decided to do it.  However it happened, in the fall of 2011, I found myself enrolled in a 200-hour teacher training program for an activity I had only taken seriously for less than two years.  I was in way over my head.

Teacher training is a 8 week format at CPY.  That’s 200 hours to get done in 8 weeks.  I was extremely naive about how quickly I could become trained.  Even in a 10 week format, that’s an extra 20 hours a week to your normal routine!  Luckily (?), CPY makes you do what is called an “extensions” program once you are done with the first 8 weeks, which meant I then had an additional 4 weeks to get more teaching practice in, and to finalize my hours.  Although teacher training was a grueling process, it was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done in my life.  It changed how I approach my mat, each of my postures, my breath, my life.  That was the one life-changing event where yoga went from a task I enjoyed to an activity that affected my mind-body-spirit health.  There is SO MUCH to learn and teach about yoga that cannot be contained in this blog, but suffice to say that it truly changed my life.  I now teach twice a week and try to practice three times a week, although I don’t always hit that mark.

One of my fellow UCers once said to me that they are pursuing this holistic lifestyle as a treatment method because they prefer meditation, not medication.  That sums up where I am with yoga today.  Yoga has introduced me to meditation, retreats at the Chopra Center, regular therapeutic massage, and I know that I would still be on my medication if not for yoga.  The short answer I regularly give people when they ask why I practice yoga is that it allows me to breathe.  If only for one hour, I allow myself to shut up, breathe, meditate in motion, and relax.  There is incalculable benefit for deep breathing all on its own!  Yoga inspires me, forces me, enables me to keep breathing.  Today, that’s my why.

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

I found this band….or actually, Spotify thought I would like this band (cocky jerks!), called Lake Street Dive…and Spotify was right.  I like them.  They can get a little repetitive, but the lead singer has a really cool Alabama Shakes meets Adele thing going for her.  Two great people to rip off if you ask me.  I was listening to their studio album, but then Jon found this fun video of them singing Jackson 5 live and I was sold.  Check it out!

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Healing, Yoga | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Frozen Happiness

Frozen kale cubesHello, hello and happy September!  It’s the time of year where a crisp, cool breeze bites through your sleeves and reminds you that autumn is on the way.  Oh wait.  I forgot.  Apparently, it’s just freaking hot.  All the time.  When did September become such a ridiculous heat wave?  Goodness.  (Edited to say that I started this entry a few weeks ago, but I’m sticking with it, even though it’s cooled down and semi-irrelevant now!  Deal with it!)

Football has started again which is pretty exciting.  We’re heading into my 11th season as an NFL watcher (coincidentally when I started dating Jon).  Although for that first season, I think 90% of my football “watching” was really just me sleeping.  Aaaaand not much has changed, really.  I get a LOT of sleep and a LOT of snuggles during football season….which helps explain why I’m so excited that it’s here!  Plus it is fun to watch occasionally as I slip in and out of consciousness, just like the football players!  Of course, the Eagles haven’t been any good the last few years, which means Jon is not always as committed to watching it every Sunday.  We’ll see how this year plays out.  So far it’s been a roller coaster of emotions that usually leaves everyone confused and angry.

But what have I been doing to keep cool?  Well, my air conditioning in my car went out.  After many years of nothing being majorly wrong with my dependable Corolla, on the first day of the heat a few weeks ago, BOOM, there was no cold air rushing through my vents.  So I’ve been embracing the window.  The fun part is that since I was 21 when I bought this car, I had zero money and opted to not get power windows and doors.  For the extra $2,500 I was saving, I figured my friends could roll up their own windows (lazy bums!).  What I did not think about was that in ten years, if I wanted my passenger side window to go down because it was approaching 100 degrees in my non-AC vehicle, that I would have to awkwardly lean over and try to reach the little turny knob thingy across the whole car.  Super classy.  It has since been fixed, but that was an interesting couple weeks.

What I’ve been doing to keep cool through food is a lot of smoothies.  We left for a wedding in Philly two weeks ago and I had a ton of fresh, delicious vegetables and fruits in my fridge (shocker).  But what to do?  They would all go bad in our absence!?!  Typically I would freak out, try to juice or blend them ALL and end up with a big brown disgusting mess that smelled weird.  Of course I would drink half of it out of spite, but by the time we got to the airport, that thing would be trash.

So I’m standing there at my sink, wondering what I should do and I started to put things in the freezer.  At first, it was stuff that made sense and that I froze all the time: bananas, strawberries, raspberries…..but then I started thinking, hey vegetables can be frozen too!  What a concept!  I am obviously a genius for thinking of this very new concept of frozen vegetables.  But they were weird ones for me to freeze, I think.  I chopped up my zucchini, cucumbers and broccoli into smoothies sized pieces and stuck those in the freezer.  But why stop there?  I started freezing the celery, the kale, the spinach, even my romaine lettuce!  I got carried away and ended up freezing tomatoes and oranges…I haven’t tried those yet but I was on a roll!

After the trip, I went to make a green smoothie with all of my delicious frozen weirdness.  It. Was. Awesome.  I couldn’t believe how well everything held up, right down to the last lettuce piece.  I have been a freezing monster ever since.  My smoothies have never been more delicious and I don’t have to feel bad when things start to go bad in the fridge….I just transfer them up to the freezer!

Now for all the hardcore yogis out there, ayurvedically, frozen beverages are not balancing my whacked out vata dosha.  :)  They are kind of feeding it.  But I am justifying it because it’s crazy hot outside.  I am still drinking my warm ayurvedic tea throughout the day, so I’m good right?  Whatever helps me sleep at night, haha.  I’ll switch to warmer, soup-type options as we ease into colder weather, I promise.

I figured I’d include a smoothie recipe to end this off in case you’d like to try it at home.  The problem is that I don’t follow recipes in general.  But if you take these ingredients and play around with amounts, you will find a combination that you like in a few tries, I promise.  Happy blending!

Alisa’s typical green smoothie:

  • green apple….1
  • celery…1.5 stalks
  • kale…..1-2 big pieces
  • juice of one lime
  • spinach…..a big handful
  • green grapes…..a small handful
  • cucumber….a quarter of a whole cucumber
  • zucchini…..a quarter of a whole zucchini (at first I was cutting off the top and bottom, and then I was like, wait a minute, I have a Vitamix!  I can just throw the whole thing in there!)
  • green bell pepper…..only if I have it around, and I use probably an eighth of a pepper or so
  • apple juice…..enough that it can blend pretty easily.  I also add water if it gets too thick.

Pretty much anything that is green in the fridge goes in.  Enjoy!!!

 

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

John Legend’s new album came out recently and I love it.  I especially have been obsessed with his Common cover of “The Light” which he has renamed “Open Your Eyes” and put in new lyrics, etc.  I love the original and I may even like the cover better!

John Legend

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Supplementary manifestations

Light on the end of railway tunnel.

Supplementary manifestations….sounds more lyrical than “new stuff,” or “current updates” doesn’t it?

There’s a lot to share, but I’ll try to keep it to a reasonable amount of words.  I had a follow-up appt with my GI at the beginning of the June (seriously, has it been that long since I wrote on here??).  He went over the photos with me and re-iterated how well everything is going.  Two things that stood out:

1-I don’t actually have any ulcers right now.  What?  Yeah, apparently it’s just inflammation and mucus.  Although this is good news, it is confusing and frankly, disorienting….which is probably a good thing.  I think it makes for good character development to have your freaking world rocked every now and again.  I’m so used to identifying with these damn tiny little ulcers that I have to now redefine myself.  Do I have to change the name of my blog?  Maybe I should dye my hair a new color.  Do I have to get all new friends and buy new clothes?  I hope not, it all sounds like a lot of work.

2-the “healthy” part above the inflammation is still classified as “inactive colitis” according to their biopsies.  Although this should not have come as some huge surprise to me, it did.  Basically, this stuff doesn’t go away easily, or at all.  It’s like the UC is saying: “Hey, in case you forgot, I will be with you for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.  Just making sure you don’t forget and F things up again!”  I realize it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but goodness, it would be nice if it just freaking went away already.  And for good.

The doctor patiently explained again why a daily medication would be helpful.  It would reduce the chance of another bad flare by 50%.  He likened it to a vitamin that you take in the morning, just to make sure everything is running smoothly.  He explained it as a topical intervention….it goes directly to the colon, where it needs to and only affects the first few levels of cells.  The one he wants me to take is not an immuno-suppressant like many other UC drugs are.  It’s safe and relatively harmless on paper. He complimented me on all of my hard work and said I was 90% of the way there.  This just helps you get to that last 10%.  It all sounds very natural and easy when he says it.  :)

Fast forward to a yoga class I took on Saturday with one of my favorite teachers.  After working us really hard for 60 minutes (I thought I was going to die a few times during the flow), he had us sit and meditate.  He asked us to think about our greatest teacher in life.  What it is that keeps us inspired and focused.  What keeps us coming back to our mat.  He asked us to thank those teachers and pay respect to all of them.  I just sat there and cried like a crazy person.  I have had amazing, humbling, brilliant teachers.  But none of them comes to close to changing my life like UC has.  What choice do I have but to be grateful for this annoyingly efficient teacher and spotlight?  And I’m close.  I’m ridiculously close.  I’m 90% of the way there.  I don’t want to turn it off now with a prescription.  I’m still a work in progress.  Maybe I always will be.  But at least I’ll have found my way by listening to my mind, body and spirit.  I know what I’m doing may not work for everyone, but I am absolutely happy that it’s working for me.

Which leads to my other MD appt I had in June, this time with an integrative, Ayurvedic, yoga teacher who just happens to be my new primary care physician.  She is amazing.   I am grateful to have her on my side.  We had a two-hour appointment where she went through the most comprehensive health history that any doctor has ever walked me through.  She (ironically? fittingly?) said the same thing as my GI: Alisa, you’re almost there, we just need to tweak that last 10%.  The HOW was different though.  She prescribed VSL#3 which is a behind-the-counter, super strength probiotic.  I didn’t fill that prescription either.  I’m so stubborn!  haha.  I already have a probiotic that has been working great for me, therefore I’m happy with it, no need for the VSL.  She did make a number of recommendations that I am following, though.  In terms of herbs, I’m now taking triphala, curcumin (turmeric) and aloe vera juice.  I’m also supposed to be doing a digestive tea daily with fennel, coriander and cumin, but I’m still working that one into my routine.  In terms of lifestyle, she recommended more restorative yoga, warming foods, soothing activities, and of course, less stress overall.

For today, there is a growing light at the end of the tunnel: I won’t always have to have colitis as a reminder to be nice to myself.  It’s fine for now (that’s for you, Papa!) but it’s not exactly a sustainable situation.  Knowing that makes it that much easier to let it go, which I’m doing slowly.  I’m learning how to be a real person, functioning in a healthy way on my own, without the help and guidance of my colitis.

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

Does it make me a teeny-bopper if I love the new Bruno Mars song?  Is that who buys his stuff?  I don’t even know.  I’m not saying I celebrate his whole catalog, but I’m digging his new wannabe Michael Jackson/Earth, Wind & Fire song, Treasure.  I never got into disco music overall, but this song is just fun.  Check out the music video and you’ll swear it’s actually the Jackson 5 dancing around.  Despite what I said on my last post, I do love when people rip off other people and do it just as well or better.  So keep on rocking it, Bruno.

Bruno-Mars-Treasure-Video

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Healing, Love, Patient History | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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