A new year’s tip from LWCC—start planning a small vegetable garden for spring! Just ’cause we (or someone we love) has Crohn’s or uc, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy food and the delicate taste sensation of fresh herbs!
I am sitting here in my kitchen at home in Vermont, after a lovely two weeks of vacation spent with my family. As I was drinking my morning tea, I looked up and saw this:
So, what does this photograph mean? Right now, it symbolizes rebirth. I started the amaryllis before the holidays from a bulb…and now it is in peak bloom—hope; new life, new meaning…. But lest I wax too poetic here, I should note that a really determined chipmunk (probably the same invader of my garden last summer) is destroying my bird feeder as I write this! As I watch the greedy scavenger—the rodent—I think of the Hindu god, Shiva Nataraja, The Lord of the Dance:
The two most common forms of Shiva’s dance are the Lasya (the gentle form of dance), associated with the creation of the world, and the Tandava (the violent and dangerous dance), associated with the destruction of weary worldviews – weary perspectives and lifestyles. In essence, the Lasya and the Tandava are just two aspects of Shiva’s nature; for he destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.
Since I found out I was in the midst of a severe flare up just six weeks ago, I have been plagued with fear that I will need surgery, have to take Prednisone again, and live again in the cycle of disease. Prednisone, especially, is a drug I hope I never have to take again—though I never got the symptoms of the round face, the bloating, etc,, I got the inner turmoil kind of symptoms: the frenetic feeling of gears winding up inside your body….not a good state to live in. Yes, those are the fears that lock us inside of ourselves when we are sick.
Well, not to dwell on that is easier said than done!
Here is a photo of my iPhone from when I was in Mexico last week…. As I lay in my hotel room bed for a whole day of fever and drifted in and out of consciousness, I put all the Spanish words for my disease in my “Favorites” in Spanish Dictionary, for fear I would have to explain to the hotel manager in case he had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital (Merida was probably closest, but the hospital in Tulùm looked like a place for the bedraggled tourists to come to get treated for sunburns!). I was convincing myself that the flu I caught traveling was really a worsening of my flare up into a bowel obstruction.
My irrational fears were perhaps due to exhaustion and loneliness (my family went off to the beach ;(…. But I gradually realized that my fears were making me sicker! I always had trouble traveling when I lived with active Crohn’s-coltis for twelve years. We would pack our kids into the car, tents, camping gear, etc., and travel someplace like Okrakoke Island off the Carolina’s…..I remember that trip fifteen years ago, and being sick as a dog in bed for days, horribly bloated, and despairing the entire time…. I will never go back to that dark period of disease (though I hope to visit Okrakoke again someday in a normal state!), for it was a frame of mind that did nothing but foster the negativity around my life.
So, fast forward to hotel room in Tulùm. The cheerful towels our maid, Gabriella, created in animal sculptures, made me feel worse—their sweet little eyes stared out at me across the bed, and I felt they were mocking me — fever, perhaps?! After five hours of lying in bed and drinking nothing but water, and learning Spanish words about diseases of the bowel, I was ready for a change… I got up, showered, went out with my family for dinner, and my son helped me order a plate of the blandest food we could order at the restaurant, el Capitan.
Perfecto! I felt revived—chicken and vegetables will do that for me, along with a light cranberry juice (pure, no additives), mixed with mineral water. I thought the fact that I wasn’t moving my bowels was because there was a growing obstruction, when in fact it was due to the fact I hadn’t eaten much solid food in the last two days. It is amazing how illness, especially fever, will make us regress. We all want to be back in our mother’s bed with someone rubbing our forehead! My husband, who is not the most hovering-docile sort, was the practical one who said, “You haven’t eaten much at all!”
Well, that is my wisdom for the day…. Or is it wisdom? It seems more like common sense—keep the food journal going, and when you travel especially don’t forget it, or when you are faced with a new situation, like going off to college, or camp, or starting a new job…. It is essential for those of us who live with disease to be able to ask for help, but also to realize that our self pity might be making us sicker.
It is with that thought, and positive energy, that I want all of us to have in our Crohn’s & Colitis community as we move into the new year. “Think Positive,” was told to me by a doctor when I cried in my hospital bed, a few weeks before my bowel resection when I was overtaken by fear of the unknown and shaken by the heavy dose of steroids they had me on. A medical student, Dr. Osei Bonsu, DO, (currently an Internist in Galax, VA), was his name—and he held my hand and gave it a squeeze.
Now, back to planing my vegetable garden for spring planting….just a few months away.
Here in Vermont where I live and write, the majority of folks drive, and our rural mountainous terrain makes it pretty hard to commute by bike. I do the ten-mile round trip ride at least five days a week. Truth be told, my initial motivation for this daily commute was post-surgical bowel resection, at the recommendation of my surgical team and physical therapist. Six years later (still in remission!), I love my bicycle ride to the office: git ets my mind focused, I save money and feel like I am doing my part to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Obviously, much more needs to be done, and on a grander scale that reaches the corporate purse strings, and the politicians they fund.
Our group, 350vt, is part of a bike challenge, but it still isn’t widespread enough to start making a difference. Here’s an idea of a possible challenge/solution: our bottle bill, here in Vermont, is incredibly successful, and the state is in the forefront of mandatory recycling and composting, thanks to our fearless governor, Shumlin, and our staunch group of grassroots community activists. As Bill McKibben, 350.org founder and even more fearless leader, writes, “Something drastic has to be done.”
My solution is this: How about bicycle rewards globally, now! Take, for example, what they are doing in London, and let’s do it!
NRDC’s Green Guide, Mothers & Others founder, Wendy Gordon’s excellent article (London Rewards Walking, Biking: New apps and upgraded paths allow visitors to visit London the Green way) is a god starting point, and perhaps we can publicize the global work 350 is doing at the Olympics!
Please join me in today’s twitterstorm! The world’s leaders are gathered in Rio for the “Earth Summit”, and we need to tell them to end fossil fuel subsidies. It’s going to be a Twitter Storm, and we need all the help we can get.
Join in here: http://www.endfossilfuelsubsidies.org/
So here’s the plan: we’re going to kick up a Twitter Storm. We need you to help create this storm by sending a message with the hashtag #EndFossilFuelSubsidies. We’ll be beaming your messages on famous landmarks in cities around the world, and a young team of climate activists will be on the ground in Rio to make sure world leaders hear us loud and clear.
Let’s do this! So, now I am getting ready to ride my bike to work 😉 and realizing the health benefits, and the economic ones at the same time, not to mention the added benefit of clearing my head!