Crohn’s: Running for a Reason

Melissa Running for Crohn's

The following is a guest post, contributed by Melissa Davidson.
Running through the 5 boroughs of NYC, elbow to elbow with 50,000 other crazies, is definitely my idea of a good time.  
  
So, when I asked myself what would be the best way to honor my mom, who passed away from complications due to Crohn’s disease, it was a no-brainer. I told myself I would raise money for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and participate in the TCS New York City Marathon. I did both. 
  
Prior to this race in November 2015, I pushed the pain of her death away by drowning my sorrows in booze and pills. I was always an active runner, but sort of a runner on auto-pilot, plodding through the miles without intention. Raising money and training for a non-selfish reason gave me a purpose.  
  
I no longer had any excuses to fall back on. I was healthy. My mom was never healthy. Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract. There’s no cure, but it can be managed primarily with medications. Because my mom could not properly digest food, she was also on total parenteral nutrition (TPN), a liquid nutrition solution administered through a vein into her heart. 
  
Her chronic bowel obstructions and intestinal adhesions turned her insides into cement over the course of 30 years. I couldn’t truly understand the physical pain she endured every single day, but I could feel it. It was no way for a person to live.  
  
Dozens of abdominal surgeries later, her main surgeon refused to open her up again. She died before healthcare reform and before health informatics could have helped with her overall care. She decided to take matters into her own hands and stopped taking her TPN. She eventually starved and her organs quit working. She was 56. 
  
I knew faulty intestines and life-threatening obstructions would eventually kill her. It doesn’t make death any easier. I still had to understand my own grief and loss. Also, eventually, I came back to myself – and back to doing what I love: running.  
  
Along the way, I was able to raise $3,689, all of which went to CCFA (I paid my own entry fee into the marathon). My friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances made it entirely possible with their donations. I couldn’t have done any of it without them.  
  
I don’t know what it’s like personally to suffer from Crohn’s, or something similar such as colitis,  
but I do know how tough it was having a young mom who was in and out of the hospital often. Crohn’s can be very debilitating for many people. 
  
The more understanding and compassionate we can be for others, the better. Be there to support them. Help them organize doctor’s appointments. Encourage them  to talk to a counselor. Understand that seemingly mundane things to us are actually a big deal for your loved one with Crohn’s. My mom loved going out to eat at restaurants, even if meant an immediate, uncomfortable  trip to the restroom.  
 
She wouldn’t have wanted me to waste my time and energy on people and things that were no longer serving me. She would  have wanted me to take care of myself – both physically and mentally. Was I in the best shape of my life for this race? No. Did I a break a P.R.? Definitely not. But this event wasn’t about me. It was about my mom. Her name is Pam. 
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