I was fortunate to see The Matrix on its first run in theaters when it came out on March 31, 1999. We knew little about the movie at the time, just that it was science fiction and it looked amazing and that we would want to see it on the big screen and not later on VHS (DVD was not yet mainstream). The movie came out only a few weeks after my first of two surgeries to create my j-pouch (or IPAA, ileal pouch-anal anastomosis) to treat ulcerative colitis (which is one form of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
I love The Matrix, and how could I not? It contains so many narrative aspects I enjoy, including science fiction, robots taking over the world, an unconventionally beautiful and lethal female character, and a kick ass soundtrack. To be honest, there are a lot of things about the plot that don’t hold up to serious scrutiny. But that’s fine, it is still amazing and undeniably groundbreaking in both storytelling and technical aspects.
When The Matrix opens, the watcher has no idea what is going on. This is my favorite way to be pulled into a story: absolutely cold, with no frame of reference. There’s no exposition and the narrative plunks you right into this universe that works differently than the one you know. You have to make a decision right then and there, if you are all in and if you’re ready for the filmmakers to take you on the ride and teach you about their world. For me, it was my first time being out of the house and enjoying myself after having surgery, and I was so ready.
(Mild spoilers for The Matrix are contained in this article, so if you haven’t seen it, or haven’t seen it lately, go watch it now. I mean, how can you exist in the world and understand what other people talk about without having seen it?)
How does IBD impact the family? Couples who are thinking about having children when one or both of them have IBD often have questions about how the disease will affect their family. Amber interviews her 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son about how IBD does — and doesn’t — affect their lives.
The healthcare space isn’t a level playing field. Minority populations face complex challenges when it comes to accessing and receiving care, which is why April is designated as National Minority Health Month. In regards to inflammatory bowel disease, it’s not well known that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis also affect minorities. Shawntel Bethea of Chronically Strong and Brooke Abbott of The Crazy Creole Mommy Chronicles discuss how they’ve been affected by healthcare disparity and offer concrete ideas on what can be done to start addressing healthcare gaps in their communities.
This is the second week of my attempts at meditating on a regular basis. I fail, of course. But I also succeed. At some point I know a regular meditation is supposed to be something to look forward to, like a good meal or the perfect cocktail. However, I’m still struggling to fit it into my day and not to see it as another box that needs to be checked along with other items like taking my medication and returning phone calls (two things I also fail at almost daily). There’s a host of issues that come up in the second week of this experiment, most of which don’t have any answers.
Remember, this is my journey and no one should take my missteps as absolution from trying meditation. I’m still going to recommend that everyone try it. Continue reading →
Most people find meditation to be helpful and a worthwhile undertaking. I do recommend that people try it, especially people who have IBD. But for me, however, it hasn’t been quite the experience I expected.
I recommend that people with chronic illness meditate. I even did a podcast with Dr Tiffany Taft, a behavioral psychologist, that focused heavily on getting started with meditation as a tool for stress relief.
But me? Yeah, I don’t meditate. Or, I didn’t.
I have my time when I’m running or walking, either outside or on my treadmill, that I consider my meditation time. It’s a moving meditation. That’s what I tell people. I get quite cranky if I get interrupted or if I don’t get that time. But it’s not really traditional meditation, and I know that.
The time came when my friend and colleague, Dr Barbara Bolen, had an offer for a free trial of a meditation app. So I asked her if I could have it, she graciously gave it to me, and I downloaded the app. This is my journey through the first week, having never done any formal meditation in the past.
This is not a typical meditation blog post, but read through to the end to fully understand the challenges that are specific to me. I’m still going to recommend that everyone try meditation.Continue reading →
Pregnancy and birth are different for women with IBD. There are not only challenges that come from the disease itself but the lack of awareness about IBD during pregnancy can lead to less than optimal treatment. Brooke Abbott of The Crazy Creole Mommy Chronicles describes how she coped with ulcerative colitis during her pregnancy and a birth that did not go as she’d hoped or as she’d expected. Learn how everything turned out in the end and find out what Brooke and Amber think pregnant women with IBD should do to prepare for birth and for those first few weeks with a new baby.
Welcome to the year-end wrap up show! I put together clips from my first 14 shows that drop the heaviest knowledge bombs about how life with IBD affects us, our careers, our relationships, and our stress levels.
What are your goals? Are you taking steps each day to move towards those goals? Brian Greenberg, endurance athlete and president of Chronically Better You, tells us how he moved from goals after surgery—getting out of bed and making his own lunch—to training for an Ironman in 2018. People with IBD know the value of structure and Brian explains how he has learned to manage his life with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy through careful planning and setting goals. Continue reading →