I’ve been delaying announcing this publicly for a couple of weeks. But here goes. In the middle of August, I committed myself to running in my first half-marathon, which will take place in December. It is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon to help raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. This morning, I met my teammates who will be joining me on the Vegas strip for a quick 2-mile run on the plaza.
Here’s why I’m doing it.
This December marks 11 years since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. It also marks 2 years since my ever-so-minor life-saving surgery that removed a couple of feet of my innards. (For those of you who didn’t even know I had Crohn’s, you can check out my Crohn’s story at the top of my page.) But two years ago, in August, at the beginning of the fall semester, I had already lopped off 15 pounds since the spring. My Crohn’s disease, which had been only a semi-annual nuisance turned into the grim reaper that accompanied me everywhere I went.
My marriage morphed into the undesirable: I was the patient. Laura was my nurse. My colleagues and students had no idea that, while I was putting on a dog-and-pony show every day for them, I was writhing in pain, sweating away each second that I stood in front of them. I spent that entire semester withering away, all the way down to a shadow of myself at 109 pounds. I took at least 4 baths a day to calm my body down. It’s where I fell asleep. It’s where I cried like a baby every time I dipped myself into it and every time I struggled to even stand up when I needed to dry off. The bathroom was my prison. Oxycodone was my refuge. By December, I started preparing myself for a painful (but welcome) end to my battle. I felt the coolness of death lingering about. But for the sake of my already mourning wife, I feigned a smile as often as I could. Teaching became a challenge. I remember sitting in my car on a cool December morning wondering if I could walk from my car to the classroom in under 20 minutes and do it without crying in front of anyone.
Food felt like poison to my body. It was a challenge to put fork to mouth. Sleep was what I longed for, although I could only sleep in one position, which took Laura more than 5 minutes to get me into each night. That Christmas, I put on a smile at my parents’ house, hoping not to ruin anyone’s spirits. My dad saw right through it. My mom confined me to her couch with blankets and a space heater, as my body was incapable of holding in even an ounce of heat. And the next week, after two miserable days, I filled a trashcan with my own vomit. That’s when I turned to Laura, already in tears, and said “I think something’s wrong. Something is very wrong.”
I was right. I had an intestinal blockage, and it was threatening to burst. After screaming in the emergency room for what seemed like hours, and after a few decades of the rosary, I was admitted. That New Year’s Eve, I underwent surgery to start over.
And today, my challenge is not the same. My challenge is to myself. To prove that I can do it. To prove that I have “the guts” to ask everyone I know to support me. And to prove that no one should ever long for the end. This December, I will be running for everyone who supported me during that terrible year of 2010. And over the next few months, I’ll be writing about all of them individually.
So, won’t you support my efforts? Won’t you be the first to donate? Won’t you help me find a cure for a disease that tears people apart, bruises relationships, and conjures hopelessness? Thousands of us will be in Vegas later this holiday season. I hope I can run knowing that you supported me.
<End of melodramatics>