How many Crohn's flares does it take to change a communicatrix?


If you've been following along on Twitter and Facebook, you already know that last week represented a physical nadir for me.

Not the Nadir, but the worst flare I've had in almost three years, since I went off the diet. (That would be the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, also known as the Diet That Saved My Life, or at the very least, kept me from getting a new asshole and/or a colostomy bag.)

Ah, free will! You are such a delicious, pernicious devil, aren't you? You step in to help me vanquish cigarettes in one fell swoop (and a jet trail of methane). You help me out of a job I hated, a marriage that wasn't working, a lawsuit no one was going to win. You help me build a mid-life acting career out of nothing but hope, sweat and yellow highlighter, you get me into therapy, you get me out of depression. In what I call your finest move to date,  you even pull me up from the depths of illness, and then, defying all logic, you impel me to gorge myself on the very stuff that will kick my ass back to the curb.

Seriously: what up with that? Would it not have been easier to just...oh, I don't me STAY WELL than to, with additional infusions of will (and rest, and enough steroids to power a major league sports franchise for three seasons), pull me back out of it?

Ah, well. I take comfort in the fact that there have been three years between flares, and even more comfort that somehow, while I am unquestionably a Delicate Fucking Flower, I have healing superpowers. The Youngster commented on it once, a hint of envy and longing in his voice, and it was the first time I sat up and took note of what I'd never thought of as good fortune.

Before then, I'd concentrated on how much I hated getting sick or injured, not how marvelously well I tended to heal. Not that anyone wants to be ill, of course (although I suppose there must be someone, somewhere, who does, this being a mighty wacky world and all), but you know, if you've got to take your share, how great to know that it won't be for that long, all things considered.

I'm too old and too battle-worn to say "Never again!"; I was too old and too battle-worn even to say it two years ago, when I also fell off the wagon and bounced behind it with my face in a bagful of Kaiser rolls for a good stretch. Something did happen this week which hasn't happened before, though: I couldn't write, and I couldn't write because I was too exhausted, and that just about killed me.

I remember reading an interview with the actor Robert Downey, Jr. a little while ago where he talked about how he finally found his way back to the straight and narrow. It wasn't God or family or anything so noble as these that set him straight: it was the sudden understanding that there was something he really, really wanted to do (act well in shitty movies, apparently), and he didn't want anything else getting in the way.

I've reached the point where I can see how my health, or lack thereof, could stop me from doing what I want to do, which is to write, which for now mainly means writing here. Doesn't matter. The blog is my shitty movie, but I'm going to act the hell out of it. And that means no more cookies on the craft service table.

In the days and weeks to come, I'm going to take a cold, hard look at the goals I drew up for myself in 2009, and see where "Take Care of Self" fits in. Which, I suspect, it doesn't much at all right now. And then I will look at what must stay, and what can go, and start hacking away. As my buddy Merlin Mann says in the fine quote framing his fine treatise on the subject, "You eventually learn that true priorities are like arms; if you think you have more than a couple, you're either lying or crazy."

I've been lying. And I've seen crazy. And I'd like to think I'm done with both.

It's time to focus on how well I get well, not how sick I am now. It's time to measure carefully the time I have left, not bemoan what's been spent. It's time to get to work, even if the work is, annoyingly and paradoxically, rest.

It is time to address this business of writing once and for all, and to treat it as a business, with all the regularity, accountability and support a business requires. Maybe that means writing less here and more elsewhere. Maybe that means getting a mailcart job (although that the mighty and magnificent Sage Cohen has managed to write copy for others without losing herself gives me some hope for that road again).

Once again, it's time to change. Then again, try pointing to a time when it isn't; my 48-year-old, post-Crohn's, post-dysplasia, post-married, thrice-post-careered, peri-menopausal self would have quite a bit to discuss on the nature of change with my disease-free, virginal, premenstual schoolgirl self. It was ever thus.

I am beginning to believe that the difference between change happening to one and being at the helm of change is focus and attention. (Okay, that's two things, since when has this blog ever been about literal accuracy? Or proofreading, for that matter?) And, looping back to the many observations I've been having lately about followers of the fat man and the benefits of (OHJESUSNODON'TSAYITDON'TDON'TDON'T) meditation (CHRIST!), all signs are pointing towards it as something I kinda-maybe-sorta-oughta-definitely address soon.

Fine. First, yoga; then, the hard stuff. Where, you understand, "yoga" might just mean "yoga on the Wii." Just so we understand each other.

None of this is remotely sexy. And the only part that appeals is the thought that I might get to string together more hours and more days of feeling like I finally did today, only perhaps better, and with bowel movements. (What? Like this blog has ever been about good taste, either?)

I leave you now to contemplate your navel, or the mystery of the Universe, or the grocery list. And I am officially soliciting advice, god help me, on good, local-to-L.A./East Side yoga studios. Someone who'd teach like Havi, in the non-namaste-b.s. way: a Havi here, not there, who still teaches regularly (or really, really irregularly, my preference.) And don't even talk to me about that Bikram. Not gonna happen.

More soon, as I know it. As soon as tomorrow, or as later as...not tomorrow. And if you would, one final request: some part of your functioning body or brain, whatever it may be? Be thankful for it just a wee bit.

I'm not 100% sure on this, but I think they might talk to each other or something...