Marathon #15 – 26.2 for Brittany
Growing up, I ALWAYS had stomach issues. Most often, we shrugged it off as a sensitive stomach. In elementary school, I went through every test imaginable. I was in severe pain, but each test revealed nothing. At 12, I dropped to 35 pounds, had a feeding tube, and was eventually placed in the Psychiatric Unit. Doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong, and believed I had anxiety, anorexia, and was making up my pain. After 2 months of therapy, weight gain, and physical therapy – I was released.
I did well until I graduated college. I was going to the bathroom 80+ times a day, and was miserable. This time, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. Which ended up not being true, but being on a gluten free diet improved symptoms for several years.
It wasn’t until I started training for my first half marathon at age 26, that I noticed my severe stomach pain returned. Eventually, I made it to my GI. I knew something was wrong, and it wasn’t going to be good. He ordered every blood test, and a colonoscopy. From my blood tests alone, they knew I had either Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis. I sat on the couch, cried with my sister…and proceeded to Google everything about IBD. Weeks later, after my colonoscopy, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. 20+ years later, and I FINALLY had an answer. I had never been so relieved in my life.
I struggled tremendously the next few months, and was constantly in and out of the hospital. I tried to hide my pain from everyone, and would go into a different room until it subsided. I was taking 20+ pills a day, and could barely make it from the couch, to my bed. Yet somehow, I never missed a day of work, until forced into a 6 day hospital admission to receive treatment. Thankfully, I responded well right away, and was able to avoid surgery for a blockage.
I was an emotional wreck. Even though I was surrounded by the best support system – I had never felt so alone, sad, and scared beyond belief. My friends encouraged me to find a support group that would help me cope. Luckily, I found Team Challenge. My safe place, my second family, my therapy, and discovered my love for running.
Halfway through my third season with the Northwest Chapter, Kaelyn asked me to step in and help coach. I agreed in heartbeat. I didn’t know how much I would fall in love with it. Being able to meet our teammates from across the nation, and hear everyone’s story, is incredible. It makes every hour and mile, absolutely fly by. Coach Marc says it best, we don’t run for ourselves, we run for each of you.
While I can’t necessarily control my disease, I can control my attitude towards it. I embrace it. I talk openly about it to all of those around me. I try to live as normal of a life, as I possibly can. I’m beyond thankful for my journey, as it has been the biggest blessing in disguise.
Running 26.2 for Brittany!
Marathon 15 – Recap