J Pouch surgery and my IBD journey

Over the course of the last ten years, it’s become really easy to openly talk about my guts, and this crazy journey I’ve been on! I hope that this post helps someone that might be suffering from invisible illness, and to raise awareness about IBD and just how much it can impact a person’s life. Here is my story-
My IBD journey started in 2008, with a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis. At the time I had no idea just how serious the diagnosis was. I was told by my GI doc that “there is no cure, and you will be in medicines for life.” He gave my Lialda which is an anti-inflammatory, and sent me on my way. From there out of nowhere I was hit with a flare, and ended up taking Imuran. The Imuran wasn’t at a level that was helping so the dosage creeped up and up. I was taking handfuls of pills each day!! 6 Lialda and 6 Imuran. It was a lot. I was doing well for awhile when all of the sudden I became severely neutropenic from the immunosuppressant Imuran. I was then taken off the Imuran, and started on Remicade infusions. Every 6 weeks, I would go sit at the infusion center, and pray that I would feel better. The Remicade worked really well for me and I was on it a few years, when I started experiencing side effects. My memory was shot, I felt foggy all the time and couldn’t even remember names of objects. It really hit me that this was a problem when I was reading my son a book and couldn’t name the plant in the picture book we were reading. I was sent for an MRI of my brain, in order to rule out a brain eating disease. I realized then that these medications are very serious to take, and they ARE a big deal with serious consequences. My MRI came back negative, (THANK GOD!!) and after discontinuing Remicade, the fog lifted. I was then started on Entyvio infusions. The drug helped me stay in remission but I started to get horrible joint pain and came off of it. Then I tried Humira. The Humira didn’t cover me adequately, and I went into a huge flare this February.
My MD suggested I try Xeljanz, which wasn’t approved for UC at the time, but was showing promising results. I opted to give it a shot, as it was really my last drug option available. My doctor said it could take a couple of months to work. Well, after 2 months of no results, I called her back and she said “oh it could take 4-6 months to work.” I was super frustrated and super ill and my patience was running thin. I was running to the bathroom 20 times a day and as frequently as every 15 minutes. Every. Single. Day. It hard to describe just how this brings your quality of life down, and the only thing comparable would be to imagaine what it’s like to have the stomach flu every day. I wasn’t able to go anywhere that wouldn’t have a bathroom-like hiking, or biking around, and going snowboarding in the winter was out of the question too if the flare didn’t get under control. A couple more months went by, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was out of drug options, and had been on steroids from February to the end of June. Ahhhhh steroids, I experienced the mood swings, the weight gain, and the insomnia to go along with it. Oh and my favorite side effect-moon face. My face got so round and puffy that I couldn’t even recognize myself in the mirror.
I continued looking at other treatment options, and one being surgery. The surgery was called J Pouch surgery and it would involve the removal of my large intestine and creating a new rectum out of my small intestine. I was at my wits end with these medications and side effects, I decided to go ahead with surgery. I was confident that the surgery was the best answer after consulting with Dr Brown in Denver. My chances of the J Pouch failing or not working properly, was about 12%. At this point, The odds were in my favor! Having surgery was terrifying-thinking about someone up in my guts just really freaked me out!!! And with two prior abdominal surgeries I knew there would probably be a lot of scar tissue in my abdomen, and hoped that it wouldn’t affect surgery.
On July 9th 2018, I had the first portion of the surgery, with my colon being removed and the j pouch created. In the meantime, I have an ileostomy until everything heals. Then I will go back in and have the small intestine reconnected, so that I can poop like a normal person. Well, it won’t be completely normal, and there are risks. There’s a chance I could develop an intestinal blockage, having Pouchitis or having the pouch leak into my body. That’s super scary, but rare.

After the first surgery, the biopsy showed mild displasia in my transverse colon and severe colitis in my rectum. Just based on the presence of displasia, I know that I made the right decision. I’m sore today as I sit in the hospital bed, and have tubes coming out of every orifice, with staples running down my tummy from belly button to my pelvic bone. My stoma isn’t as gross or scary as I thought it would be! And so far, emptying my ostomy bag has been so much easier than running to the bathroom constantly! I feel my strength building, and my doctor says that I’m ahead of schedule on healing!!:) I’m so excited to have my life back and not have to deal with colitis ever again! It was debilitating to the point of not being able to walk to the playground with my son, or take a bike ride around town, or pretty much go anywhere that didn’t have a restroom. I’m relieved and feel like a burden has been lifted!! Everyone’s prayers have really lifted me up and helped me to heal. I feel fortunate to have great family and friends to help along the way! Watch out world, I’m ready for a new start!!!

Not just a new cut…

A few days ago, I decided that I would cut my son’s hair at home for the first time. WOW, that was WAY more difficult than it looks! Toddlers are all squirmy and did I really think that the child would sit still?!? HA! Shame on me…

So, off to Jack & Jill Salon we went. It took ten minutes, and my mistake was erased. Thank God, his botched Beatles cut was now a nice, styled Justin Timberlake-esque do.

After his hair was all fixed up, I was looking at his “after” photos, and it hit me. All of the sudden, my little dude looked SO much more like a child than a baby. I felt so heartbroken. What happened to my baby?! I busted out in tears. This is all happening way too fast!! And all of it brought on by a botched haircut?! What the heck is wrong with me!?!

Baby fever, yup. That’s totally it. I miss the baby phase. Did I just say that!?!?!? You might think this is horrible of me to say, BUT I never thought I would ever say I MISS THE BABY PHASE, considering that the first 6 months of my son’s life, it was a struggle. #thestruggleisreal Some parents experience completely easy labor, followed by a super speedy recovery, and a euphoricly amazing blissful nursing experience. Ummm, the truth is, that wasn’t me. Not even close. I had post-partum depression, it was so bad I would stand in the kitchen and cry…for no reason. I was traumatized by my C-section experience, trying to adjust to taking care of a new itty bitty person, functioning on zero sleep, while struggling to balance working full time/family/life/friend/home time oh, and that thing called “me time”. (What was “Me” time anymore?) On top of that, I was horribly ill. I was in the worst Ulcerative Colitis flare I had EVER experienced, to the point of it almost being completely debilitating. To the point where I almost couldn’t leave the house. For like, 6 whole months. It was like my immune system really liked carrying a baby, and once I had him, my body decided to attack itself from the inside out. (My guts, specifically.) No folks, it wasn’t all daisies, cute puppies and fluffy kittens and marshmallowy rays of sunshine.

And now, after all of the things I went through in order to feel sane, to find balance, to find time to enjoy every little moment with my son, to get myself back into remission….I must be crazy. I mean, CRAZY, because even after all of those things, I would do it all over again. This little dude is my #1. He’s my world. Beatles cut, or JT cut, it really doesn’t matter. He makes my heart sing. I wouldn’t take any of it back, and would do it all over again, in a heart beat. <3 [gallery link="file" columns="1" size="large" ids="396"]

Balanced diet? What it means to me now…

If it’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of the year, is that there is no quick fix. (Sorry to break it to you!!!) No fad diet, no short term changes. Becoming fit means lifestyle changes, commitment, & making time for yourself. Another thing that I’ve learned- if you want to lose weight, it not JUST about working out. What you eat accounts for 85% of your weight loss. My trainer helped me to realize this when I hit a plateau. I would say to Dave “PLEASE! Just tell me what to eat!!! I feel like I’m eating healthy, what the hell is wrong with me!?!? Tell me what YOU eat each day!!!” He would laugh…and say “Well, I’m not a nutritionist, but I will help you as much as I can. Tell me what you’re eating..” He recommended I download My Fitness Pal on my phone so that we could see what percent of carbs to protein and fats I was consuming. He would tell me that he believes in a “balanced diet”. I thought, what the heck does that mean! I thought carbs are BAD BAD BAD!!! Bread and pasta are evil right?!? WRONG… read on…
After several discussions, Dave told me about a program that he had heard of, and thought it would be perfect for me. He thought it might teach me how to eat balanced, and give me the jumpstart I needed to break through my plateau. It was the 24 Day Challenge by Advocare. What did I have to lose?!! I gave it a shot!!! I jumped on it, and lost almost 7 lbs and 5.5 total inches. (Almost 4 of those inches were just from my waist!!!) I seriously jumped off and on the scale when it was results day! I was in disbelief!!!!! And, most of all, I learned what portion control is, what carbs are “good” carbs, I learned that carbs aren’t evil, and that dairy and sugary fruits should be limited. (I was eating WAY too much of both.)
So, in addition to eating balanced, I’ve learned that quality nutritional supplements DO indeed make a difference. They have made a difference in the way I look, but most importantly in how I FEEL. I would love to answer any questions you may have about what supplements I take!! It is my passion to help other now!! <3 Please check out my Advocare link on this page (or click on theshellybean.com/wellness ), or reach me via email at ragoo1144@gmail.com. All my best!
 xo, Bean.

My one year transformation in fitness

One year ago in March, Dave invited me to come train with him at Blunt Force. Saying yes was the best decision!!! I was a new mom struggling to lose my baby weight, and then fell ill and ended up on medications which caused me to gain even more weight. (6 months of high dose prednisone to be exact!)I desperately wanted to feel like myself again.
I seriously cannot thank you enough, Dave!!! I am grateful for your encouragement, your guidance, your knowledge, and for telling me “yes you can” when I didn’t think I could. I’m now in the BEST shape of my life. In the course of a year, I’ve gone from not being able to lift my 12 lb son without having back pain, to dead lifting more than 100 lbs!! Thank you, Dave. You have changed my life!!! <3 <3 <3 Please check out Dave’s website at daveglaser.com. He also has started an online training program, which I’ve heard is KICK BUTT as well!!!!! xo, Bean.

New Zealand, North Island Photos

New Zealand, 2010

Ahhhhhhhh, New Zealand. *Insert large sigh, and enchanted expression here*  Chris and I have talked about going back to New Zealand again sometime in the nearish future.  It’s definitely at the top of the list of my favorite places I’ve been.  The climate, plants and animals are diverse,  the people are friendly, welcoming, and laid back, and of course…it’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL there! I hope you enjoy my pics, we spent one week on the North Island, and a week on the South Island.  We only booked a couple of hotel stays in advance, when we knew we would be in a major city for more than one day.  (In this case, Chris was in the Single Speed World Championships in Rotorua).  The rest of the time we would hop online at internet cafes, read reviews on TripAdvisor.com, and plan out our next day of travel and where to stay for the following night.  We found a couple of really awesome B&Bs this way.  Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, with really welcoming hosts.  Last minute planning was only stressful on one night that I remember, where we almost couldn’t find a place (but we eventually did!!), and the rest of the time was no sweat.  Chris and I really prefer to travel this way, with less advance planning and regimen, and more exploration and flexibility once we get there.  It’s not for everyone, but that’s just how we roll!

Xo, shelly.

Shoe love<3

So, it’s not quite spring yet… (who am I kidding, not even close..) BUT, I have already started to plan out what my fashion wants are for this spring. Shhhh! Don’t tell my husband!!! 😉

I found this great company and I’m drooling over their stuff.  Including these SHOES. I love shoes. I love really REALLY nice shoes. (Doesn’t every woman?!?!!!!) Everyone has their “thing”…and shoes are one of mine.

I need to start saving now so that I can add these bad boys to my ever growing collection of beauties.  Check out the Boden website, the clothes are British inspired, annndddd adorable.






Our engagement, February 21st 2011

This weekend marks the 4 year anniversary of our engagement! <3<3<3

The weekend was a winter wonderland adventure.  If you are one of my close friends, (or my not so close friends) 😉 you probably know that snow and ice are in my blood…so this was a PERFECT weekend in my world!!!

Chris and I were able to hike up into the back country and do some skiing and snowboarding together, and snowshoe through beautiful, majestic snow covered pines.  We went snowmobiling with my step-dad (his favorite pass time!), and the experience and quality time with the fam will live on in our memories and pictures forever. <3

Chris put sooOOOooo much planning & thought into our engagement. He said it took a VERY long time, and lots of work.  (In the language of Chris, I think that probably means a few months..) =) On Valentine’s Day, he gave me a jewelry box (and it was PINK, of course!) that had a small screen on the top.  I pressed the button on top of the box, and it said “You will have 11 riddles to solve”…the first few riddles I solved, included my best friends, and I had to go retrieve “keys” (RFID cards) from them in order to advance to the next riddle.   Then, for the next few, Chris installed a GPS unit in the jewelry box (genius!) and the riddles left me driving around the city of Denver to locations that meant something to us as a couple.  Once I pulled up to the place, the box would advance to the next riddle.  Eventually, one week later, it lead me to the other side of the state, to spend the weekend with family for a getaway to Grand Mesa, Colorado.  The last key, opened the jewelry box…and….you guessed it…I said “It’s about damn time!!” and then “YES!!!!”.  It took me one week to solve all the riddles, so as you probably could imagine….I was more than ready to open the damn box!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are some pics of this GORGEOUS location! We hope to return there for a weekend away, and to take our son with us this time.

I look forward to sharing all of the meaningful places we have been with our little G man, including Grand Mesa, Colorado, and I can only hope that he appreciates natural beauty just as much as we do!