A little bit about me…
I was born in the late 80’s in sunny Merced, California to my amazing parents, Pat and Shari (who I will refer to as “The Shrub.”) We bounced around just a bit throughout my first few years of life, and ended up settling in Palm Harbor, Florida, where I would spend the rest of my childhood. I went to school at the University of Central Florida- Go Knights!- and after graduation, moved up to live with my boyfriend-at-the-time-now husband, Brian, in Toronto. Shortly after, we got engaged, eloped, and moved back down to Florida to be closer to our families. We bought our house in a historic district in St Petersburg, Florida where we reside with our fur-baby, Murray, and 4 chickens, Sophia, Rose, Blanche and Dorothy.
I love being outdoors at any possible moment. Brian and I have done 2 long distance hikes, (one of them while I was in the middle of a Crohn’s flare!) and are out on our kayaks or hammocking whenever the weather is nice.
I’m a full time marketer by day, and dabble in all things crafts by night. I didn’t really start my “Chronically Callie” journey until late 2016, when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.
My Crohn’s Journey (so far.)
It really all started back in 2013, when I started noticing strange digestive pain every time I would eat something fatty or fried. Thinking it could just be my gallbladder acting funny, I cut those foods out of my diet. But then later in the year, I started having unexplained acid reflux that became so painful, I had a hard time eating or drinking anything. An upper GI scope showed ulceration all through my esophagus and upper stomach. However, the doctor at that time didn’t seem to know what was wrong, so sent me home with a shrug.
The years in between 2013 and 2016 were chalk full of weird, unexplained symptoms. The one that would last the longest was persistent waves of nausea that would hit me every day after 4pm and continue through the rest of the night. Wanting to do anything in the evenings was pretty much thrown out the window, and there were days I’d have just two bites of food for dinner.
Then in October of 2016, I came down with a terrible stomach bug. It started with waves of stomach cramping, followed by vomiting and chills. After 2 days with no let-up, I went to the diagnostic clinic, where they told me it was probably food poisoning and sent me home with some anti-nausea pills. By day 5, I still wasn’t better, so I went back to the clinic where they said it must just be viral gastroenteritis. That whole ordeal lasted 8 days. I lost 10 pounds and was exhausted. But, I recovered.
Exactly one month later, the cramping returned, but it came on like a ton of bricks. My husband, Brian, came home from work that evening, and decided it was time we went to the Emergency Room. In my state at the time, I knew I needed to go, but I didn’t want to move. The pain was so intense and every time I moved, I had to throw up again. But Brian knew better and was able to get me in the car and to the hospital. I was admitted pretty quickly, and they had me in the CT Scan within the hour. The CT revealed a partial bowel obstruction, so they decided to keep me for IV fluids and bowel rest. I met with the GI and he did an upper GI scope and a colonoscopy to take biopsies for the lab.
After 3 days in the hospital, I was sent home with high doses of antibiotics and pain killers. My followup with the GI was 2 weeks from my release date, and during that time, I was miserable. I wasn’t vomiting anymore, but my abdomen was distended so badly that I looked 6 months pregnant, and I couldn’t stand up straight because I was in so much pain. When I finally met with him again, I told him that things just weren’t good. And he told me that was because we weren’t treating the right thing. That’s when he gave me the diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease.
I was put on a short (1 1/2 month) dose of Prednisone, which allowed me to heal enough to begin standing up straight again, and gave me an appetite that was only satiated with whole racks of ribs. At that point, I had lost 20 lbs in a month, and weighed less than I had in my early years of high school. I felt malnourished and tired, but I was happy that I was finally coming out of such a rough place.
About 6 months or so after the diagnosis, I was feeling pretty rough. It never felt like I was 100% better, and I was going through a lot of cramping and diarrhea. I had an appointment with my new primary care doctor, and since I was a new patient, she wanted to do blood work. A day after my appointment, she called me and wanted to see me immediately. It turns out, my hemoglobin was at a 7. For reference, a healthy woman’s hemoglobin should be between 12 and 16. My doctor was surprised that I was even still functioning! She referred me to a hematologist who I saw a week later. Per his recommendation, we did an Iron infusion, and I started to feel much more alive within the next couple of days.
Fast forward to now. As I’m writing this, it’s half way through 2017. I’m coming up on my one year since diagnosis, and for the first time since then, I’m actually feeling pretty good. My energy is up, my cramping is almost non-existent. The crazy (and I mean, CRAZY) noises my intestines make have mostly quieted, and my bathroom habits are pretty normal (short of a bad day here or there.) I finally feel like I’m coming out of this flare that has lasted me 8 months.
How have I started to feel better? Well, for one, I cut out all the shit food. I went back on the Whole 30, where I cut out all inflammatory foods from my diet. No gluten, grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, or alcohol. I started a high dose of probiotics- 8 strains, 3 to 4 times a day. I tried CBD oil- not sure if it worked, but maybe it helped! I have a shot of mangosteen juice in the mornings and evenings. I stopped drinking coffee except for on the weekends, and opted for matcha tea. I visited the local herbal shop and got some marshmallow root tea to try. Sure, that’s a lot of things, but really, it’s working. I feel really good, and pretty much like my old self, which is something I haven’t been able to say for almost a year.
I’m also Crafting Callie!
No really, crafting is in my blood and I find myself daydreaming almost hourly about my next adventure in the crafting world.
It all started with my GG Nana (This stands for Great Grandma Nana…seriously.) From what I understand, GG Nana was amazing. She always had a craft drawer full of household nick knacks to turn into crafts. I like to think I channel her spirit in all of my happy creations. After GG Nana, came her daughter, Nana, who sews up quirky little pillows and dolls that have such a unique presence.
Fast forward to my amazing artist Mother (The Infamous Shrub), who is a wonderfully talented oil painter, in addition to all-around badass. Check out her website! She has dedicated her time to creating things that just blow my mind. I love getting to watch her grow more and more as a true artist.
I truly believe I inherited my craftness from a long line of creative women in my family, and I’m so proud that I get to continue the legacy. Some of my earliest memories are crafting with my mom (The Shrub), and every day, I am so happy that I get to make things that make others smile.
Check out some of my crafts on Instagram at @craftingcallie.