Chronically Rediscovered Chapter One: Colitis for Christmas and Sky Lanterns for the Soul

A gondola and speed boat in Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy – Source: google.com via Tosha on Pinterest

I haven’t posted since December 6, 2011!  Don’t worry, my chronic illness and pain haven’t dumped gasoline all over me, lit a match, and left me for dead.  So, where have I been?

Well, what have you been picturing me doing?  I hope rather than my last proposed theory, you’ve been imagining me on some magical adventures “through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered,” (Labyrinth) with of course amazing rewards for your’s truly along the way.  Perhaps in your mind I was floating on a gondola in Venice or

Marble Caves in Chile

Marble Caves, Chile – Source: google.com via Tosha on Pinterest

exploring Marble caves in Chile?  While either of those would be lovely, I’m afraid my days have been slightly less magical.  However, I have had some rewards along the way, and like any adventure, they were found in the journey itself, not the destination.  As for “dangers untold and hardships unnumbered,” I’m about to tell you many of them!  It’s only fair to warn you upfront though, that they weren’t quite as glamorous as those from a fairytale.  I didn’t meet any hairy beasts and no singing puppets tried to steal my head.  However, my story does involve two adorable fur babies and at times I certainly felt like I was going to lose my head.  So, pull up a chair, grab a cup of hot cocoa or a nice vino, and let me bend your ear for a stitch or three.

Gold Heart Clock from 7art-screensavers.com

Three?  Yep, three.  I have decided to tell this tale in three parts.  Why?  Because chapter books are cool (don’t worry, there’s still pictures!).  And the anticipation will do you some good.  Got to keep that ticker ticking!

Chapter One

Christmas tree with white lights

Christmas Tree at Little Sandy Church of the Nazarene in WV

As it tends to do, December ushered in a season of illness and holidays.  Toward the beginning of December, I caught a persistent cold which morphed into bronchitis.  Since my Cimzia injections (for Indeterminent Colitis) suppress my immune system, lowering my ability to fight illness and making me prone to infection, I had to take a hiatus from this biologic medication.  Like most things in life, this event was dualistic in its outcome.  The good:  I didn’t have to travel with needles that required refrigeration; my body saved some pinpricks; my skin cleared up for the holidays (the Cimzia makes it oily/breakout – but it also makes my hair silky and grow at super speeds!); and, we learned that although the Cimzia wasn’t doing all that we needed it to do, it was very much doing something.  The bad: my inflammatory bowel symptoms multiplied like bunnies on a binge vacation to Las Vegas.  This meant that in addition to my body trying to fight off the bronchitis, it was now also trying to sustain itself (and I was trying to travel and have holiday fun with) around 25 to 30+ trips to the bathroom a day, heavy bleeding, mouth sores, kidney stones, joint flares, and even more pain, cramping, and fatigue than usual.  Yuck.

People holding sky lanterns

Getting ready to release the sky lanterns.

But on a positive note, I did get to travel and have holiday fun.  Because of my body, we didn’t make it to see everyone we would have liked to, but we did get to visit Mike’s family in WV for Christmas where I went to one of the coolest Christmas Eve services that I have ever been to.  It was a candlelight service, a must in my book if you want to make it anywhere near notable status.  The church was simplistically but beautifully decorated.  Toward the end of the service, everyone looped around the outside of the pews where the candle flame was passed from person to person as we sang “Silent Night.”

Advent Candles in Church

Advent candles used in the service.

This is that church’s tradition for Christmas Eve, and a lovely one at that.  We then headed outside for a part of the service that was new this year, one that I felt blessed to be a part of.  Each family, couple, etc. was given a sky lantern to set off into the night sky to represent the light of Christ going out into and piercing the darkness of the world.  As someone who has lately been struggling/searching spiritually (a naturally cyclic part of chronic illness, life, and growth), this was a beautiful visualization and simply a wonderful way to spend this evening.  My take away message: All of my beliefs might not be settled, but Christ’s message of love is undisputed, by pretty much every religion, and anyone who follows it certainly benefits themselves and others.

Clip of the Sky Lanterns at the Christmas Eve Service

Picture of the sky out the car window.

Goodbye Virginia! Delaware, prepare yourself!

We drove to WV via DE so that Mike and I could see our goddaughter Rebecca and wonderful friends Annie and Rob.  They had a

Japanese Chin dog gives Mike kisses

Toodles and Mike. The love was mutual.

new puppy which Mike of course enjoyed mauling.  As my body is no longer the stamina machine that it used to be and demands lots of bathroom stops and breaks, instead of driving all the way to Mike’s mom’s once we left Delaware, we got a hotel in Maryland.  This also enabled us to enjoy some traditional, and not so traditional, charm in Annapolis.

Annapolis Charm:

Brick building in Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis was filled with beautiful brick walks and buildings.

Interesting bottles with fairytale creature labels.

We discovered an independent bookstore in Annapolis with fun books, cards, and oddities.

Bottle labeled unicorn tears

Another bottle from the bookstore

Room under the stairs labeled "Harry's Room"

Under the stairs at the bookstore

Michael and I in front of the Christmas tree at the Irish Pub

Michael and I had lunch at an Irish Pub. The bathroom was downstairs. You know my legs got a workout!

Annapolis Skyline

Goodbye Annapolis! It was lovely meeting you.

Are you enjoying this enticing retelling of my December Days?  I certainly hope so if you’ve read this far!  Ready for some more?  Want to know where we went after we left West Virginia?  You’ll have to tune in next time when this Chronic Christmas Adventure continues!  As a teaser, I’ll tell you spray paint is involved!  And, don’t forget this tale involves two fur babies!  By my count, we’re only at one.  So, check back soon for Chapter Two!  Might I suggest that you hop-on over to those nifty boxes on the right and sign up for an email subscription and/or like Bottled Time on Facebook so that you can be notified as soon as the new post is served?  You aren’t going to want to miss a second of this!

Related Articles from This Site:
*My Hair-owing Halloween with an Ambulatory EEG: As you’ve read in this post, chronic illness doesn’t take holidays.  Read about my Halloween with an EEG on my head to test for epilepsy and seizures.
*I Do Tricks for Treats!: I might have been able to skip my Cimzia injections for Christmas, but you don’t have to miss the needle fun.  Read how I handled my first round of those shots.
*Deep Breath.  Start Fresh.  Devotional.: Living with chronic illness and pain can leave us feeling abandoned, afraid, and questioning.  This devotional is about moving through those feelings to rebuild our connection with God.

Related Articles from Other Sites:
*A Crohnie Christmas Carol: What if Crohn’s were responsible for giving the gifts in the 12 days of Christmas?  Author and blogger John Bradley, his wife, and daughter rewrote the traditional song from Crohn’s perspective.  Quite humorous.  While you’re there, click around his other posts.  Quite a candid and funny blog.
*Don’t Let Your Disease Make You Feel Ugly:  So yes, I mentioned my lack of acne as one of my happy things this holiday season.  And when I’m on the Cimzia, I might have acne but enjoy silky-long-hair.  I didn’t list these things because I’m über into looks.  I mentioned them because no matter how modest you are, it is easy to feel down about your image when your illness and medications are wrecking havoc on your body.  Sara, a young woman with Crohn’s, discusses some of the ways her illness has battled her self-image and encourages readers to embrace their “pretty” moments.
*It’s the Little Things:  Continuing with this less-than-superficial theme, Jackie, a gal with MS and Ulcerative Colitis (who now has a J-pouch), discusses the joys of being healthy enough to focus on something like hair.
*More than Cards: Did you know that your holiday cards can help fund Crohn’s & Colitis research and support?  Cards are customizable, come with the CCFA logo, and proceeds help the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  Yes, I realize that it’s February when I’m writing this post but now you have it in your mind for next year.  Or, if you’re like me and decided to save some spoons this holiday season by postponing your card-giving until Christmas in July, then this link is right on track.  Holla!

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6 thoughts on “Chronically Rediscovered Chapter One: Colitis for Christmas and Sky Lanterns for the Soul

  1. Tosha,

    I also enjoyed Chapter 1 of your holiday travels. Totally agree that the Christmas Eve service with the sky lantern rocked! Thanks so much for the video – it was beautiful. I sure hope those lanterns had a gospel message attached, for whoever found them when they came down! You are such a good sport about all you have to put up with, though. You make it look easy — but we know it isn’t! Speaking of that, as you probably know, almost every situation makes me think of a song. Here’s one for you:

    http://davidwilcox.com/index.php?category=Big_Horizon&display=228&page=songs

    • Thanks Sarah for following my adventures and the comments :-). I loved the song “Make It Look Easy” by David Wilcox. I had never heard it before! I’m glad my blog reads with a more positive spin, but I know you can attest to the fact that many days certainly are not easy. And I know several of those days my husband would disagree with the statement that I make it look easy -lol. But, like the song says, “Really it’s driving long distance. Dialing in the gear. Studying the balance. Quieting the fear. All the hard landings. All the tough breaks. Learning all of your lessons. Making all the mistakes. That’s how you make it look easy.” Thanks again for the encouragement and song! Oh – the lanterns didn’t have any writing on them – but that is a great idea!

  2. Pingback: Chronically Rediscovered Chapter Two: I’m Late! I’m Late! For a Very Important Fort War! | Bottled Time – Living, Loving, Laughing, Learning, and Growing through Chronic Illness and Pain

  3. Pingback: Chronically Rediscovered Chapter Three: Crashing Into Inspiration and Lasik Eye Surgery | Bottled Time – Living, Loving, Laughing, Learning, and Growing through Chronic Illness and Pain

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