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CROHNS ADVOCATE

Crohn’s Advocate : The Lighter Side of Crohn’s.

CA_HUMOR_COVER

Toilet Humor

In comedy, as in life, nothing is funnier than the truth. And, nothing is harder to own. By translating my experience into an internal monologue that sees  humor first and  tragedy second, I never feel like a victim. And even when I do, it’s often pretty funny. Coming to this has not been an easy process, it has involved countless hours theorizing while on the can and smiling my way through numerous colonoscopies (which actually does look a little weird). The only thing I can actually control when it comes to my Crohn’s is how I view it, so I’ve decided to view it as an annoying houseguest who refuses to leave the bathroom.

Here’s how I came to this point of view.

Sometime in the fall of ‘97 pooping became a lot trickier. Previously, I didn’t think much about pooping beyond taking one, and even then it occupied about as much mental space as the price of bread or whether or not I should wear a hat. But then, almost overnight, pooping became the center of my universe. And a smelly universe it was.

I should say now that growing up with weird illnesses was already kind of my thing. The incurable bowel disease was just the icing on a cake so tasteless it had to be funny. I’m almost deaf in my left ear after persistent infections through childhood and a botched operation when I was seven left me minus one eardrum.  In the fourth grade, I got herpes in my eye which left me with a scratched retina and the ocular skill of Mr. Magoo to this day.  I don’t even know how it is possible to get herpes in your eye; was I practicing unprotected looking? Either way I’m pretty useless on my left side which is the inspiration for the title of my next one-man-show, “Ben Morrison’s ‘Huh?’”

But Crohns was a doozie. Really painful. As I discovered almost immediately, my symptoms involved heavy obstruction and spontaneous evacuation. I figured this out because all of a sudden I couldn’t poo for three days and then couldn’t stop for the rest of the week. (I call these my “evac” days now). If there was a bright side to my diagnosis it was that it was speedy and 20 stubborn pounds just melted away. Jenny Craig has nothing on the Crohn’s Diet. My symptoms were so localized it was clear my ileum was attempting to physically hop out of my body and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease with little hesitation.

A myriad of medications were immediately prescribed. The steroid Prednisone proved to be the most effective but enlarged jowls are one of its side-effects and my head inflated so big I could have been in the Macy’s Thanks-facing Day parade. As luck would have it, that was the moment they were shooting pictures for my high school yearbook and my sputnik-sized noggin was forever immortalized with a half-page picture. Everyone’s memory of me to this day is as the kid with the 90-pound head.

It was right after this that three things happened. The first was that I moved to New York City to attend theater school. The second was while I was out one night I got rather tipsy and, apparently, booked a stand-up comedy gig. (You think you do stupid things when you drink?  I begin whole new careers). And third, my Crohn’s went insane. Just as I was beginning a new bohemian life of hanging out in dark rooms telling jokes about how messed up everybody else was, my messed up bits revolted.  There was many a finger up my keister that summer, I can tell you, and more than a few trips to the emergency room doubled over in pain. (Between you and me, ER painkillers make Crohns totally worth it. At least until they wear off.) I even had emergency surgery to remove my ileum which left me with a lightning-bolt shaped scar that glows when I’m in danger.

I can joke about this now, but I didn’t always understand the healing power of humor.  I sort of stumbled on it one fateful night when I was late for a show at a small, underground comedy club on 107th and Broadway called, shockingly, The Underground. Checking the mail on my way to the gig, I opened a letter from my insurance company denying reimbursement for a colonoscopy because it “wasn’t a necessary procedure.” I was so pissed off about this insane logic that on stage that night I told the audience my insurance company thought I was just sitting around really bored thinking like, ‘You know what? I haven’t seen the inside of my own ass in awhile, and I got $5000 layin’ around. Let’s go get probed!”

And the audience laughed. But they weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me. I had opened up a public dialogue about my disease, but because I did it in comedy club they saw the funny first and the sad second. After the show three of the people in the audience approached me wanting to talk about Crohn’s because they had close friends or relatives who had it. Maybe I was on to something here, I had turned my disease into a joke and the sicker I got, the more material I’d get. It was a cosmic sign, the moment I knew my purpose was to find humor in a disease that would forever affect what comes out of my bottom. After all, my initials are BM.

It was time to get writing. My cousin Jesse also has Crohns. He’s extremely funny and was also living in New York City at the time so together we expanded the colonoscopy joke to write more material about life with Crohn’s. Jokes about how when you’re obstructed you ‘hulk it out,’ meaning you have to push so hard on the toilet you look like the Incredible Hulk. Or how it’s amazing that they’ve invented robots that perform brain surgery but they still can’t invent a hospital gown that doesn’t show your butt to the world. (I’ve come to believe that if the entire waiting room hasn’t seen your butt, the tests just won’t work.)

The jokes were plentiful and cathartic and “Pain in the Butt,” our Crohn’s-tastic, one-man opus, had been squeezed out of us.

Renting a rat-infested (yes, actual rodents) theater on St. Marks Place, we staged our first run.  We marketed the show with the same precise planning we’d used to create it, which is to say, I blindly walked into the national headquarters of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation to promote the show going into random offices, dropping  off flyers and saying, “I’m Ben Morrison, I have Crohn’s and I think it’s funny.”

There were more than a few confused faces and none of the top brass showed up at the show, but a couple young interns did and they loved it.

Turns out, people with uncontrollable bowel disease need a laugh as much as they need a toilet.

What happened next was nothing short of phenomenal. We taped a performance and the DVD began selling all over the world. (Because I was personally manufacturing and shipping all of the DVDs, as well as performing in them, some shipments took an embarrassingly long time to arrive. Crohn’s patients put the ‘patient’ in patient.)

I then began getting requests to perform “Pain in the Butt” based solely on word-of-mouth as the DVD circled the globe. I did a national tour. I was asked to come to London. Then Canada (which, surprisingly, has more Crohns than anywhere else. Go figure.) I even performed at the ultra-clinical Digestive Disease Week, which you might not think of this as a hotbed of hilarity.  But I can tell you that during Digestive Disease Week the convention center in Atlanta was an veritable intestinal festival, complete with  a guy dressed as an enema and someone hocking “Discount Colonoscopy Scopes”. Seriously guys, if it’s going up my butt, splurge.

As I continued to travel and share my story with anyone who would listen, I gave my email address to anyone who needed me to listen to them too. The responses were as numerous as the trips to the toilet that inspired them.  Fathers who were lying to their families about why they couldn’t stop crapping for fear of seeming weak, young men and women writing from the hospital so desperate to feel human again that they Googled “Crohns + comedy” and found me. While all the stories were unique, the common thread was that everyone was suffering in silence and going a tad crazy as a result. I still get these letters and every time I get one I eagerly write back with a smile asking how they’re doing with the pooing. Often they tell me that what they needed more than medicine was a good laugh and the humor allowed them to open up even when their intestines wouldn’t.

As I look back on the progression of the “Pain in the Butt” movement (yes, movement) there are certain milestones that stand out in my quest to find funny in foul.  Camp Oasis, which I visited three years into performing “Pain in the Butt,” is one of them.

Camp Oasis is a Crohns and Colitis Foundation-run summer camp for kids so affected by IBD that regular camp isn’t an option. They have a full-time medical staff and triage center for kids who flare unexpectedly in addition to having a myriad of sports and craft activities you’d see at any camp.  The CCFA brought me in as a volunteer to perform and teach improv classes. It was a startling eye-opener.

As I was lucky enough to get diagnosed in my late teens I had my growth spurt by the time Crohn’s belly-flopped into my life, but the kids at Oasis had early-onset Crohn’s and their bodies were struggling to retain enough nutrition to grow properly. Many of them looked years younger than they actually were, and some had feeding tubes going right into their stomach. But they were all so funny. Maybe it’s the culture of humor these kids were growing up in but the poop jokes I heard flew fast and loose. One camper even made me a diarrhea diorama in art class, complete with puffy-paint poo.  It was gorgeous. The kids were so vibrant I knew each one had a story to tell, that I wanted to hear. So I went back to the Underground.

After playing improv games and performing some of “Pain in the Butt,”  I sat cross-legged among them and asked that they  get up one by one, alone, to share their most embarrassing Crohn’s story. The counselors looked at me nervously, as if I’d farted at the opera. But they let it slide hoping I knew what I was doing (I kinda didn’t).

At first no one raised their hand, but eventually one boy did and then slowly slipped into  a story about crapping himself in front of the whole school at basketball tryouts. He was nervous at first but once he got his first laugh it was clear that the more embarrassing the story, the more laughs it would get. Now everyone wanted to go. One kid whom the counselors were worried was too quiet got up there and told a story about showering a persnickety teacher with the contents of a bursting ostomy bag when she wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom. The audience went nuts! It was the funniest thing they ever heard. He went from not being able to speak to doing stand-up comedy about his external colon. Turns out frustration and a Micraphone are a powerful thing.

And that brings me back to where we started.  Through the years of doing “Pain in the Butt” and the thousands of patients I’ve been lucky enough to meet, I’ve seen over and over the miraculous healing power of laughter.  I’d go so far as to say that laughter is a healing mechanism built into all of us over millions of years of evolution. We’re supposed to use humor in times of hardship because it always makes us feel better. And why not? It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a co-pay.

laughter is especially important when it comes to Crohn’s. Let’s face it. To talk about Crohn’s, you have to talk about what comes out of your butt. That’s kinda hard on a first date but I’ve made it work for me because, wait for it, I just don’t care. Instead of building a cathedral of shame around a disease I didn’t ask for, I own it like a pair of high-priced designer jeans. Within a couple minutes of meeting me, if we veer anywhere near the subject of food or the bathroom, you’ll know I have Crohn’s within moments because I will have made you laugh about it.  I’ll tell you to use the bathroom before me because the smells I make could kill a dragon, and sometimes have.

So thats why, 10 years later, I’m still spreading the message of healing through humor. People with IBD need to understand that they have something which no one else has, their story. While certain aspects are hard to discuss, there’s nothing worse than an untold story and I urge my readers to try owning it with a smile. If you approach your Crohns from a place of laughter, it will instill laughter in those around you. After all, pooping is funny.  I think I’ll go take one right now.

And I bet that made you laugh.

Crohn’s in the Mirror

When it comes down to it, I got pretty lucky with this Crohn’s thing. I’ve talked to countless patients over the years and I’m aware of how harsh a blow I’ve been spared despite a lifestyle that could be described as less than ideal. I’ve only had one surgery, my flare-ups are few, and on the infrequent occasions I feel bad enough to curl up into a ball, my bed is comfortable.

Not so for others. This disease is an incalculable crap-shoot (pun intended). The greatest gift I have been given is the ability to seem totally fine, even when my gut is rumbling like Pompeii. Being a somewhat egotistical person, I can’t imagine what it’d be like to deal with both a constant flare and thecontinued withering of my body.

So I feel for those whose body image has been affected by Crohn’s. There’s nothing worse than something that’s impossible to hide from the world because it strips you of the ability to fight on your own. Something that robs you of your confidence because, try as you might, it’s obvious to everyone else how under the gun you are. Sure, I was way too skinny for a while, and sure, I have a scar on my stomach from when they took out my ileum, but neither of these has ever been bad enough that it takes away my mojo. In fact, my scar kind of looks like Harry Potter’s™ lightning bolt. I swear it glows when I flare.

The most I can say if you’re feeling bad is this too will pass (pun intended), and you don’t look as bad as you think. In my opinion, the best therapy is being as open as possible and finding humor in eventhe most belittling circumstances. If you feel your body has become worn down by Crohn’s, try building your brain up to compensate. Your perception will only ever be one thing – yours – and having climbed a relatively small mountain of my own, I understand I might not be so chipper if it had taken my smile inaddition to a small chunk of my gut. And hey, no matter what you may think, you look great.

Ben Morrison is an actor and stand-up comedian living in Hollywood, CA, who has appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Driving and MTV’s Punk’d. Check out Ben’s Crohn’s-focused comedy routine “Pain in theButt” on iTunes or visit www.benmorrison.org.

 

Have Crohn’s Will Travel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My apartment is a sacred space to me. In it I have all the accessories a Crohn’s patient could want – freshly-cooked food, a great bed to recover in and a bathroom containing not only a bidet but a tile and grout brush for easy cleanup. It is a carefully crafted refuge from the ravages of my bottom and it’s a space I feel very comfortable in.

Away from home is another story.

Having begun stand-up in my early 20’s I soon learned that the constant traveling was a delicate balancing act of remaining mobile and seeing to my ongoing tummy needs. As I could no longer rely on the comforts of my apartment arriving at a new place triggered an immediate mapping of my circumstances like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the beginning of T2. How far is the bathroom? How private is it? Is there anywhere to eat without a “Waffle” or “Cracker” In the name? I imagine people without Crohn’s don’t think about this much but whenever I travel I’m always hunting for a safe place to poop and food that’s going to make me.

So I started by making a kit. In it I have my meds in clearly labeled bottles (so TSA doesn’t unleash the hounds when ruffling through my stuff), some wet-wipes (good enough for babies good enough for Ben) and Preparation H (minus the applicator, I use my finger like a real man). These things bring me the comfort of home and in this game comfort is key. Which is why finding Crohn’s-approved food is so important.

I’ve learned that when in a place that doesn’t have access to organic, healthy cuisine (which is everywhere except where you live), your best bet is to go to a chain restaurant and stick to their “healthy choices” menu. Typically these entrees have far fewer processed ingredients and will be the most painless way to eat painlessly. Similarly, identify genres of food you do well with and stick to those, mine are Mexican and Sushi – both of which are usually available If I ask the Google. And while road-trips are thrilling, avoid going berserk at rest stops. Every time I’ve downed a bar-bell sized energy drink and inhaled a bag of chips with ingredients a scientist couldn’t pronounce I am reminded that although I am away from home my Crohn’s travels with me. If I just think ahead and pack the same snacks I’d eat at home I’m generally good. Nothing is worse than a flair away from home.

And finally, never allow the fact that you have Crohn’s to stop you from travelling in the first place. The symptoms of our disease are so embarrassing sick people tend to forget that there’s a beautiful world out there that doesn’t care if you have something weird with your butt. If you make your comforts mobile you’ll find your capacity for adventure is no different than anyone else’s and Crohn’s is something you once heard you had.

Although I will miss my bidet.

 

Welcome to Crohn’s


WELCOME TO CROHN’S

The first time I ever heard the words “Crohn’s Disease” was right after I found out I had it. I remember I was sitting with my mother looking at the latest round of x-rays from a small bowel series, and although to me it looked like a traffic jam in the Holland Tunnel, the doctors seemed confident that disease was evident.

The room started spinning. Only four months ago I had been a seemingly healthy high-school student and then the universe flipped some cosmic switch and my guts went into open revolt. In the following months my life turned into a circus of new terms, new medications and new doctors, and as if the symptoms of my new disease weren’t enough, the stress of knowing I had one only made it worse.

So that’s what I want to talk about today – the immediate aftermath of a diagnosis. Yes, you have a disease. No there’s no outright cure, and no, no one is quite sure why you have it. These things you simply must accept. In order to get enough of your brain back to focus it on what needs to be done, just let it go, and move foreword.

Secondly, this little thing called the internet has made finding other people like yourself much, much easier. Sites like crohnsadvocate.com and a host of other similarly minded sites await your perusal – and typically a huge community of sympathetic voices too. I have made lifelong friends simply by signing up and reaching out. And if you’re on Facebook, search for “Crohn’s Support” and in no time you’ll actually be using it for something useful.

Thirdly – diet. You must now embark on a long and arduous journey to find out what your body now does and doesn’t like. For whatever reason the rules in your tummy have changed and it’s worth taking the time to carefully rule out what’s a no-no. Cook just a chicken breast. Eat it. See how you feel, and write down any particular discomfort. Then over the course of a week do this for all the major food categories. By the end of the week you’ll have a nice little docket of information on what your body wants, and right now, information is gold. Eventually you will find one or two things that seem to be OK, and when you do, learn to cook them like a Top Chef. Challenge yourself.

Fourthly – focus on your body. Instead of viewing this as a negative, why not decide that you’re going to fight against it by getting in better shape than you’ve ever been. When I got diagnosed in high-school I was relatively heavy, and given that I was dropping weight anyway, took it as my sign to begin running. Because of that regular exercise is a now a vital staple of my wellness, and on the few occasions I let my workout lapse I can feel Crohn’s creeping back in.

And finally – you must identify all the things you do have control over, and lord over them like a dictator on a small island. If Crohn’s is going to mess with you, then you’re going to mess with it right back by pulling together all these threads to make a net much stronger than it’s unwelcome presence. The road you’re about to walk down is much easier knowing you control your destiny, and despite all the new doctors, meds and terms, you’re still in control. Never forget that.


Rice is Nice


RICE IS NICE


In the 13 years since Mr Crohn moved in I’ve noticed through trial and error that certain foods anger him greatly, and others slip by like a SBD in gym-class. So today I wanna talk about rice.

Let’s face it – Angry Crohn’s has a lot to do with what you eat. Having been on just about every medication out there including the snip snip sew sew kind I began to examine the food and drink that was angering the part of my body that handles food and drink. After awhile it became clear that if I really wanted to find what was causin’ the barfight in my bowels I’d have to Swazye-up and find the troublemakers muh-self.

And one that always played nice, was rice.

The majority of the meals I eat are relatively simple and I almost always cook for myself (which is the only way I can ensure I’m not eating monodilitheyiumpsudomagneziate, which is an flavor additive I just made up.) Over years of making simple meals in small kitchens, It soon became clear that rice never caused me to flare (and I’m not saying that this would happen to you, but in a life as pattern-dependant as ours it’s always good to take a note of what doesn’t snag).

And so I began to eat rice with most every meal. It’s perfect for meal volume, andd if cooked properly will seldom weigh you down with that “just ate an anvil” feeling. As a whole I’ve found rice to be very agreeable to my body, in fact it’s one of the only foods that my cousin (who has Crohn’s and some wicked food-allergies) can eat with little difficulty. Yes, rice goes in peacefully and goes out the same way – in the minefield that is the supermarket a little certainty is always nice.

So if you don’t have any known allergies to rice or rice-based products I’d advise you to explore the myriad products derived from our simple-grain little friend. I’m talking rice-milk (tastes like vanilla and doesn’t spoil), rice-pasta (you can go abbondanza! without filling you abdomina!) and rice-proper (which can be added to just about any protein without overpowering it). I’m more partial to the white-rices, but multiple grains are always nice too. Oh and never fried. Fried makes the Crohn unhappy.

So cook some rice and see what happens.
 Six quadtrillion Asians with no Crohn’s can’t be wrong.



Tai Ben


In late 2000 I had vowed to get in shape but my bowels, were irritable. Whereas only a year earlier I was sprinting amongst the cabs on 6th ave., Crohn’s had sprinted into my intestines and I couldn’t run-free without free-bathrooms close by. After a particularly unplesant jog where endorphins weren’t the only thing released, I hung up my running shoes and admitted defeat.

But man did I need to work out. Supermodel-thin and just as languid I decided that If I was ever going to get ripped I had to have a safe space to get ripped in. Drawing upon years of movement training I devised a workout I could do in my bedroom – a hybrid of stretching, rave dancing and shadow-boxing I called Tie-Ben. Locking myself in my room clad only in workout-shorts and a smile, I’d light inscence and play thumping electronic music as I lunged and liquid-danced my way to fitness. Although my roomates weren’t too fond of the stomping and caveman smell, I was always close to my bathroom and it’s hard to make excuses about not going to the gym when you live in it. Over the years the workout evolved into a full on training regime, and once I got over how weird the whole thing must look, it has became a special and important part of my life.

And that’s the lesson for today – you can never let Crohn’s dictate your agenda. No matter how bad your disease may get there are a million ways for you to work around it and nothing is more important than your dreams. Remember, where there’s a will there’s a way, even if the way is through the bathroom.

Crohn’s Coast To Coast


CROHN’S FROM COAST TO COAST

It was the spring of 2006 and it was time for a change. I had been living in New York for eight years and having made it through a bowel resectioning surgery the summer previous knew it was time to take my resectioned bowels west. For years Los Angeles had loomed in my imagination like Moscow in a Chekhov play but as the brick in my abdomen also loomed I did nothing. It took my intestine hardening like Simon Cowell’s heart to finally convince me to have the surgery but once it was over it was California or bust. (And take it from someone who obstructs, I know busting).

It was the best decision I ever made. The weather in California was so nice even my Crohn’s got a tan, and I could find healthy food wherever I looked. Back in Brooklyn I was eating hope-its-meat-and-cheese sandwiches from the bodega every day, and looking back I cringe on how exactly my body digested all that horrible “food”. It was only until I was 3000 miles away that I realized that I had been keeping my life in a holding pattern and had Crohn’s not come a long to give me a kick in the butt by being it, I might still be there today.

And that’s my lesson – change might just be the change you need. I shouldn’t have waited as long as I did to leave New York but hindsight is 20/20, especially when you have a hind like mine. Crohn’s makes us think that spontinaety is a bad thing but like some weird cult you’re never going to get outta the cave if you don’t stop drinking the kool-aid. Don’t be afraid to make that move or leave for that school, the worst that can happen is you learn more about your body and have some adventures in the process. In today’s world information is king, and you’re only going to get the information you need if you don’t keep changing the tests.


It Never Hurts To Laugh


Hello fellow Crohnzies. My name is Ben Morrison and I have had Crohn’s disease since 1997, when, in my senior year at Arlington High School, papa Crohn decided to move in for good. Ironically I was kind of an overweight kid at the time and despite the writhing around and invasive medical testing, losing 30 pounds in a month was actually kind of convenient.

And if you laughed at that, good. If you didn’t, try… It never hurts to laugh.

And that’s why I’m writing this column. Everyone needs to talk about what’s goin on with their lives, but how do you do that when what’s goin on is often spontaneous explosive diarrhea? “Oh yeah Joan today I went to the gym, picked up some groceries and unleashed a stench from my bottom that would kill a dragon”. Even Freud would be like “You’re on your own wis zis one…” 

And that’s where humor comes in. We instinctively find something funny when it’s true, and it’s amazing how much taboo is stripped away when we have the guts to make jokes about what’s inside of them. And I’ll prove this to you with a story. 

I was 23 years old and was dealing with an ongoing relapse that I was quietly ignoring and pretending wasn’t real (It’s amazing how easily I could forget the pain of my abdomen being chipped away at like a block of marble in Michelangelo’s washroom). My symptoms centered around a nasty obstruction of my ileum that most days produced a far-away pointy and sometimes flared to a very close stabbey pain. This particular summer I had gone to the ER 3 times as I had angered it to some degree but I was always very good at deleting the Tivo in my brain once the worst had passed. The brain’s good like that. 

But Anyway. I was running out of money as I did from time to time and was 3 years into a burgeoning stand-up career which had consumed my existence (the bohemian lifestyle of which didn’t help the old man in my tummy one bit). This particular evening I was doing a spot at a small underground club on Manhattan’s upper-west-side and was in a supremely foul mood – my recent bout of stretcher-trips and recovery rooms had led to a number of doctors appointments and tests all requiring information only found inside my rectum. It wasn’t fun at all.

Leaving my apartment for my gig I checked my mail, and while placing four fingers on my lower-right side to calm the gurgling I opened up a letter from my insurance informing me that they had declined payment for a recent colonoscopy on the grounds that it “wasn’t a necessary procedure”. Flash forward two hours and standing on stage my material wasn’t going well, the room was stale like unbrushed teeth and as joke number three died I was beginning to sweat. My mind went black. I wasn’t losing them. As the goosebumps began to rise my breathing heavy I found myself telling everyone in the audience I had this thing called Crohn’s disease and two hours ago I found out that my insurance company thinks I get colonoscopies for fun. “What do they think I was really BORED one day sitting around the house goin, ‘You know what, I haven’t seen the inside of my own BUTT in awhile, and I got 6,000 just layin around – let’s just go out and get PROBED.” And then they started laughing. 

My mind spun around on itself – In this one moment I had told a room-full of strangers I had a poop disease and proved to them that in a certain light a poop disease is hi-larious. It’s all in how you looked at it! In fact after the show 2 audience members came up to me and told me that their roommates and brothers also had Crohn’s. I couldn’t believe it, there I was having a lovely conversation about my behind in the lobby of a Manhattan comedy club. It was a moment I will never forget and it completely redefined how I allow myself to feel about my Crohn’s. 

And it can for you too. I’m not saying you should become a comedian (although the Crohn’s patients I’ve met are some seriously funny people), but I am saying the worst thing you can do is to crawl inside of yourself because you think you can’t talk about what’s happening to you. Everyone’s gone through their version of your crisis and it’s most often through humor that I’ve found myself able to make that conversational connection. It’s a wonderful thing. 

So please keep reading, I’m excited to share with the insiders view of my insides and perhaps even give you some pearls of wisdom that have helped me through the years. 

(And don’t forget, a pearl is created when an Oyster has an upset tummy. Chew on that one for awhile).