Have you ever challenged yourself past the brink of your norm just to do it? I feel like I live that way every single day because I have Crohns Colitis and I have been battling a flare for the last 21 months if my memory serves me correctly; it started from an extremely stressful occurrence in August 2014 and has since rocked my world with medications, infusions, doctor’s visits, diets, life alterations, and so much more.
I’m not telling this story to spark pity, I don’t pity myself at all. There are people who have what I have and are much worse off. I’m sharing my story to hopefully spark anyone that ever reads this to find great hope that life can deal you a tricky hand, you just have to put your poker face on and play like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke.
The hand you’re dealt may be “nothing” but you have to play it like you’re holding a royal flush. It’s an internal struggle that you have to convince yourself of. If you’re mentally winning then nothing is a loss; it’s just a lesson.
Pushing myself to the boundaries I do usually serves as what others may consider a loss because I don’t have to “win” at anything to feel happy.
For the last two years I have been an ambassador for the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Marathon / miniMarathon. Last year I was too ill to train for it but completed the miniMarathon at 3:45. Not too bad but definitely not a winning pace nor qualifying pace for any other race.
This year I completed the Triple Crown. It’s three races leading up to the MiniMarathon / Marathon. I do not know my race times but I do know I gave it my all and collectively put together enough miles to proudly wear my 19.1 shirt. Booyah, crohns!
I was super stoked and ready to push through the miniMarathon this year because I was more prepared and had actually been training all while being on Remicade, chemo, and iron infusions. Nothing could stop me, it felt great to conquer my illness and run it instead of allowing it to run me.
So many of my friends asked me not to do it and some of them even asking me why I would push myself that far. The best answer I can come up with is that I don’t want my disease to win. I want to lay down my cards once I pass this flare and know that I am winning no matter what my medical documents, specialists, doctors, family, or friends say. Cool Hand Luke didn’t flinch at his hand, he just kept playing, and that’s what I was trying to do; just keep going.
I posted that I was doing it. I said I was doing it. I committed to doing it and then the night before the race my body or God swiftly took the lead and I had to pull myself out. I haven’t been that sick in ages. But the throwing-up and other fun parts of my disease weren’t the catalyst for it. It was having to admit to myself that for once, I can’t do it all. Even typing it makes my eyes well up. I hate admitting I can’t do something. It’s awful. I’ve beaten situations I should have died for, so saying I can’t do something goes against my moral fiber and standards.
The mentality of letting my illness win took control and it made the depth of it all that much worse.
Luckily Derby week followed it and work took over so the race became a distant thought and Derby weekend was my primary focus.
Losing sight of ourselves in situations where something has created conflict is natural. It’s actually expected and accepted in most cases but the trick to remember to pull yourself back out is that defeat is temporary.
You’re already winning regardless as to what the situation may be, you just have to look for the lesson and then be ready to look at yourself and know that you’ve got this. Don’t flinch. Don’t breakdown. Look at your cards and know that you’re strong enough to play this hand in the game of life till the very last minute, get into the mode that it’s “gonna hafta kill” you for you to ever give up.