Winter. A time of personal reconciliation, reflection, and acknowledgement. While in remission, I can sometimes pretend I’m a normal person who lives a normal life. I wake up early, run, drink my coffee, struggle through my workday, then make dinner and spend time with the family. It’s easy to forget that I have some special needs due to my illness and the medications I take to control it. Winter never lets me forget though. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. I love decorating for Christmas, walking through the snow, winter sports, and warm gluhwein. I don’t love being sick. It’s a hard look at how vulnerable I am. I can no longer pretend that everything is fine because it isn’t. Often, I find myself deep in a depression, spiraling through my thoughts, and I go from being oblivious to my vulnerabilities to being a victim of them. This winter is no exception. I’m behind on everything right now. Why? It’s because I’ve been battling viruses and colds since the beginning of December. I’m sure right now you’re thinking, but we all get sick in winter! Yes, and I’m thinking of you parents out there right now. I know you deal with a lot of sick in winter, but the truth is, I’m always sick because my body just doesn’t fight off viruses the way it should. I can go from sneeze to pneumonia in 3 days flat. Last year, I was one of the many Americans who got COVID for Christmas. Not my favorite gift. I was thankful for all the boosters I received because it kept me out of the hospital, but it still caused difficulty breathing, coughing, fatigue, and an overall miserable experience that parlayed itself into a sinus infection and bronchitis. One COVID infection caused nearly two months of misery and lost time. Thanks to this occurring at the same time I had to discontinue my Crohn’s medication due to the reaction, I also had to deal with a Crohn’s flare. I had so many rounds of steroids that I’m still de-puffing one year later. These sick days become days of reflection when I think of all the realities of my illness and the limitations it puts on me. Normally, I try to think of all the opportunities I have and things I can do despite having Crohn’s disease. Not in winter. This is a time for acknowledgement, this is a time for wallowing in grief. I admit that I also suffer from seasonal affective disorder. I crave time outdoors and need sunlight. It’s one of the reasons I love running. It allows me to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature. The constant flus and colds that I’m trying my best to contain lest they turn into a pneumonia or bronchitis just amplify the depression. My “can do attitude” turns “can’t do” in a second. Instead of pushing forward despite my illness, I find myself dwelling on the number of days I can’t do the things I want because I’m sick. I don’t even put forward an effort to pretend everything is going to be ok. Suddenly I can’t do anything because I miss too many days out of the year sick in winter. Never mind the fact that I’m super productive when I’m well, nope, it’s no use, I’m just too sick to do anything in life. It’s amazing what one cold can do to an attitude. Adding to the winter blues is the fact that I’m hard on myself year-round. I’ve been this way since the day I was born. It’s not a helpful attribute. I’m upset that I haven’t written more blogs. I’m panicked that I haven’t learned how to better edit my podcasts yet and still haven’t perfected my art. I planned to put together an intro to my video podcast episodes. Nothing. I know we’re all behind after the holidays. It’s just very difficult to get knocked down the same time every year when I just want to keep moving forward. I woke up this morning feeling better. I sense some optimism making its way back to me. Maybe my attitude will change. I’m already looking at my running plans and hoping to actually run (not walk like year which was an accomplishment to be fair) the Rock N Roll half marathon in March. I’ve started watching my Youtube videos on how to edit my podcasts and create video intros. There are subtle hints of a better attitude to come but it’s only mid-January. I’m certain another virus is in my future. I’m also certain I’ll forget everything I’ve learned about overcoming my disease and having a great attitude. It’s winter.
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