It's been a few months since I wrote a health update.

Partly because I launched Unexpected: 25 advent devotionals and fully embraced it. (Which, if you supported this project, thank you! It sold over 800 books and is helping fund my friend Doc's missionary travels!)

A few other reasons I've not written an update include the holidays and building this new website! But, the biggest reason is because in 2019, I embraced the word God put on my heart for the year:  SLOW.

And that's basically where things sit.


Physical improvements

The last time I gave an update, I was considering the second opinion of my surgeon who encouraged me to give the big decision to get an ileostomy more time. She agreed my colonoscopy results from fall indicated I need even more careful surveillance of my colon, especially because of the precancerous polyp.

But, she asked me, "What's the harm in checking the polyp again in six months, as recommended by the GI?"

She had a point, and in that moment, I felt a peace in my heart about slowing things way down.

Dear Bowel Diary,

In addition to some good points, she gave me a bowel diary worksheet and asked me to start keeping track of how often I went to the bathroom. For this Fitbit-wearing, working mom, that seemed impossible.

And in full transparency, for the first two months, I didn't even pick up the worksheet.

I did begin to slowly make changes to my diet and portion sizes, which made a tremendous impact on reducing the amount of times I use the restroom each day, clearing up loose stools and lessening my pain and bleeding after exercise. My rough days have not been nearly as frequent nor painful in 2019, hallelujah!

But, after a follow-up appointment a few weeks ago, I agreed to use the bowel diary worksheet until I see her again in two months.

I'm taking baby steps this year and slowing down to listen to my body and track what's going on.

After only a few days of trying to use the doctor's template, I had to modify it to better represent the bathroom habits of this colon cancer survivor. (If you need a bowel diary tracker and "go" a lot, here's the PDF of my updated bowel diary you're welcome to use.)

For the next few months, my plan is to track my stools and test medications with my new-and-improved bowel diary to manage quality of life, as well as follow up with my GI in April for a colonoscopy to check on  precancerous polyps I like to grow.


Slow - my one word for 2019

I didn't love sensing "slow" would become my word for the year. "Slow" is hard for me. But, after almost two months in, I am starting to appreciate "slow" in many ways, and especially because its brought fewer bathroom tips and painful days already.

Plus, compared to other points in my cancer story, I've not always been afforded the chance to go slow. "Slow" is a gift. "Slow" is creating the space I need to pray about decisions and receive wisdom and advice. It's bringing healing to my body, heart and mind.

And, it's allowing time for me to fill out this stinkin' bowel diary.