#TBT 2 years later

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2 years ago today I had my HM (heller myotomy) surgery to treat A (Achalasia)! It’s crazy the difference 2 years can make. Over the course of time since my surgery I went back to school, prepped and competed in my first fitness competition, got an amazing job at NASM, got pregnant and had a baby!

When I was first diagnosed with “A” it was super depressing. There were many days that I felt totally alone, despite the fact that I was surrounded by my hubby and great friends who were very supportive, I found myself frequently asking God “why me?!”. Finally, it was through the power of social media (and my oh so amazing hash tags) that a girl named Brie found me and reached out to me via Instagram. I have never met her in person but she also suffers from A. She introduced me to an Achalasia group on Facebook and finally I no longer felt alone.

After reading stories and posts from others suffering from the same disease my thoughts of “why me?!” Became “why not me?!”. A is relentless, it knows no age, gender, socioeconomic group or ethnicity. No two people are alike. We all suffer from different symptoms but the one thing we have in common is somewhere along the way our bodies decided to start attacking itself. I began to think to myself “God never gives you more than you can handle”. I am blessed to have been diagnosed at a young age, and because I am young fit and healthy my recovery has been quick. I was able to resume my regular activities 6 weeks after surgery and have never looked back.

My outlook on life has changed tremendously since my diagnosis. I no longer sweat the small stuff and I look at each day as another opportunity to be amazing and to be a blessing to someone else. Over the past 2 years I have had others reach out to me via social media and through my blog who are also suffering and looking for answers. Since it is a rare disease many times even the doctors don’t know what to tell people so I am always happy to lend some info and share things that did or did not work for me.

There is no cure for Achalasia so it will be something I will deal with for the rest of my life. But I am healthy and blessed to be able to eat (almost like a normal person) again. My 6 scars have faded but they will always be there to remind me that I am stronger than what tried to slowly kill me. Everyday I pray they find a cure for this and that my daughter will never have to know the struggle of Achalasia!

To those of you suffering who have questions about exercising please feel free to reach out to me 💪 I am pretty much a pro when it comes to post op activities. To those of you in the Facebook support groups and to my girl Brie, you will never know how much you have helped me through this struggle, and I am forever grateful! We are #achalasiaasskickers and we won’t let this stop us!

For more info on Achalasia visit:
http://www.achalasia.us you never know it could one day help someone you know!

See you on the flip side!

-Xoxo Izzy

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The story of Marlee Alexander 6/17/2015

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Labor wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it to be, but the contractions tho…. another story. I started having contractions Wednesday morning June 17th at midnight I wasn’t sure if they were braxton hicks or real ones but they freaking hurt so I was hoping they were the real deal cuz if they were not then I couldn’t even imagine what I woulda been in for if they were Braxton Hicks. (I downloaded a contraction timing app) my Dr told me not to go to hospital until contractions are 5mins apart lasting for 1 mins and u have 12 an hour for 2 hours; so by 7am they were non stop and I told Donald it was time to go. We dropped Foxy off at my friend Rebecca’s apt down the street who graciously agreed to watch her while we were out having the baby (I love that chick!) and headed to hospital. At 8am we got to hospital Donald parked the car while I headed into the check in desk, and I told him to wait to bring the bag in in case they sent us home for a false alarm. I walked in told them what was up, the nurses took me to an exam room and Donald came back in. We waited in the room a couple minutes while I was dying in pain from contractions and then the nurse came in to check me. I was at 3-4cm dialated (I had only been 1 cm dilated and about 25% effaced the last 3 visits the 3 weeks prior at my OB appointments) and it was then my water broke on the table after she checked me. They moved me from OB triage to labor and delivery and the nurse asked me if I as doing an epidural I eagerly said yes and she said the would prep it but I told her I wanted to wait as long as possible for the “epi” so it doesnt slow down my labor (which it totally ended up doing…I probably could have had that baby in under 3 hours without it but I didn’t wanna feel that pain!). At about 8:40 I asked for some pain meds (if you know me well you already knew I was gonna ask for a menu of concoctions I could take for pain LOL) the nurse said sure but they will recheck me to see how far dilated I was since they will have to let my Dr know when they call in the meds. She rechecked me and 40 minutes after we had arrived at the hospital I was already at 6-7cm so I said OK let’s get the epidural (I was dying at that point the freaking contractions hurt so bad and just kept coming!!!!) Once I got the “epi” it was amazing I felt almost nothing was watching world cup soccer (go France go) taking selfies 10383956_10100133982600580_4925507488612841148_n, and texting! They checked me periodically and then at 2pm they rechecked me n it was time to push #itsgotime. Donald n the nurse held my legs up and out and the other nurse watched the monitor to tell me when a contraction was happening so I knew when to push (cuz u literally don’t feel anything…which again is AMAZING). I would breathe in crunch up hold my breathe n push for 10 seconds for 3 sets every few contractions. They told me first time moms usually push for 2-3 hours sometimes more but since I’m fit it would probably be on the lower end. I pushed for an hour n a half (got to watch the whole France vs. Mexico game). They could see the head told me to stop pushing. They called in the Dr. and I pushed another 2x n boom out she came. Donald cut the cord (which he would describe as a cable like texture).20150619_105953 I told them the only really thing I had as an adamant stipulation in my birth plan was I wanted them to wipe her down b4 they give her to me (I didn’t want walking dead style end trails all on me). They wiped her down and put her on my chest for skin to skin 20150617_155426while the Dr finished with what she had to do. I ended up with a few stitches (good times) and the Dr was all done. 11193226_10100134203452990_3074188758955629999_nThe nurse helped me with breastfeeding which was harder than I thought it would be. After an hour they got me up to go to the bathroom. My legs were still numb so nurse helped me walk (it legit felt like I was Bambi walking for the first time). About an hour and a half after she was born they moved us to the postpartum floor. The nurses come in every few hours to check on you there is a lactation consultant on staff to help u with breastfeeding. The baby stayed with us in our room unless we asked them to take her to the nursery. nlCdHKgoCcGUDy21ZZQqIZeSf0daugQYcB-WzBLfR-UShe’s been a pretty quiet baby. I went to the nursery and they gave her a bath. She has to eat like every 2-3hours. I noticed she was starting to get lazy tho falling asleep on the boob we were having to wake her up. They asked if I wanted to be discharged fast or stay as long as possible and I told them I’d rather go home sooner rather than later. U can’t leave till the baby is 24 hours old n they redo all the 24 hour tests. So that time came next day Donald went with her to do the tests. Him and the nurse (who was a freaking rockstar! we were so blessed to have her) came back and said we can’t go because her blood sugar was too low (which they normally don’t test for but she was super jittery so they did, and it’s a good thing!). The plan was to feed her and recheck it 2 hours later. 2 hours later came and it was even lower than the last test so we had to stay and get it sorted out! Finally it wasn’t getting better so they told me they were gonna have me breastfeed her then we would do 20ml of formula and then they had me pump and then feed her whatever I pumped out with a syringe. We did that every 2 hours and then they checked her and it got better. She had to have 3 good tests in a row so she could go home. Her next one was low again so we did a little more formula and she started to do a bit better. I had a breakdown and was crying cuz I just wanted her to be OK (which she was just fine) and Donald told me to calm down, that there were other babies in the nursery with a ton wrong with them getting treated and Marlee was just having low blood sugar, so that made me calm down (he always knows just what to say and when to say it). Our nurse came back said “OK if this next one goes well you guys can go if not you’ll have to stay another 48 hours and have to do some labs.” Praise Jesus the test came back the best one yet so Friday we headed home. Thebump.com app said bring an empty duffle bag to take home all of the free stuff so of course I did (#ifitsfreeitsforme) and boy oh boy did we get HOOKED UP! So we headed home! It has been an adjustment dealing with the lack of sleep but she is starting to sleep more and more through the night! We saw her pediatrician Dr. Nania at TLC Pediatrics in Ahwatukee the Monday after we came home and Marlee was already just 1 oz away from her birth weight (#gains) we had a follow up appt to recheck her weight 4 days later and she was up 2 oz from her birth weight. Our little girl loves to eat and she is not shy! She tells us when she needs/wants something :). Having a baby has been one of the craziest adventures we have had so far but we are so blessed to have this beautiful little angel!! I am glad I stayed active throughout my whole pregnancy and that my Achalasia never was an issue. I gained only 30lbs which pretty much fell right off after I had her, and I am looking forward to getting back to the gym (#izzytakesthestagepart2).
Humungous shout out to the staff at Banner Desert Medical Center! Every single person we came into contact with from the time we walked in to the time we walked out was amazing! The nurses that delivered my baby and the nurses on the postpartum floor were absolute rockstars th1 and we were blessed to have dealt with each and everyone of them 🙂 BUT of course we have our favorites th! If you are gonna have a baby I highly suggest delivering there! Huge rooms, awesome service, and bomb food (#IIFYM)!

See ya on the flip side xoxo

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See ya on the flip side xoxo

Broken not Destroyed

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This time last year I was in a hospital bed recovering from my Heller Myotomy surgery to treat #Achalasia. What a year it has been! In the past 365 days I have gained a new lease on life, a new job, new friends, and stronger bonds with my old friends and loved ones, and took home some hardware in my first fitness competition and became an official ragebabe for Rage in the Cage!
I know everything happens for a reason, and to be honest I don’t know too many people that could have endured the shenanigans I had to deal with and survived it like a boss #justsaying, but I am happy that my story has helped reach those who were suffering alone. I am thankful I can eat food like a normal person (even though I still get full super quick) but conscious of the fact that since there is no cure I will always have Achalasia. My scars have faded but are still there to remind me of the struggle that I and many have to face. I am hopeful that with the daily advances in modern medicine one day we will have the knowledge of what causes this rare disease and ultimately cure it 👊. Until then I will continue to be an advocate and hopefully a source of info for those looking for answers.

See ya on the flip side xoxo.

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3 months later

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Its been 3 months since I had surgery for Achalasia! image I am so glad I did. Although I still have food limitations (mainly have to take small bites, drink lots of fluid with food, and eat slowly, and I get full super quick off almost nothing) I am pretty much a “normal person” in the sense that I no longer fear I will choke to death or projectile vomit while eating food! I am fully back into the swing of my workouts although my core is still not back to its full strength since they cut into me with the scope in 7 places, and my abs have yet to make a reappearance, BUT I am working hard to lift heavy, eat more and gain the size I lost while on my deathbed and then some! image The main thing people say when I see them for the first time since I was diagnosed is “well you sound great” which is ironic considering my surgery wasn’t done on my larynx I had a Laproscopic Heller Myotomy with Dor Fundoplication…but none the less its good to know people recognized my absence and were concerned :-P. I have officially decided to compete in the August OCB Show here in Mesa, AZ in the bikini division and I am PUMPED! the way my workouts and food are going I will def be ready to bring it when I hit the stage! If you follow me on FB (isabelle alexander), instagram @izzythetrainer , or twitter @izzythetrainer you’ve seen my check-ins and my hashtagging #izzytakesthestage and thats exactly what I plan to do. I will be attending the March NPC show to not only cheer on my many friends competing but I will be back stage helping out as well. I am super excited to get an all access pass of what to expect come August. I have had some Achalasia peeps reach out to me via instagram who haven’t yet had their surgery which I think is really cool. So for you #achalasiasurvivor and #achalasiaasskickers out there here is “Izzy’s list to a smooth sailing operation date” 1) top thing to puree while on ur liquid diet is chili and protein shakes. (Obvi not together) the chili will actually still taste like chili when mashed 2) dont take ur liquid pain meds on an empty stomach you will feel drunk and nauseated and you don’t wanna throw up after ur surgery cuz sneezing, coughing and even blowing your nose feels like death! 3) if u have to grocery shop bring someone with you! You have no idea how much core work is involved in pushing a shopping cart until you do it 3 days after your core has been mangled! 4) hydrate hydrate hydrate leading up to the minute your allowed to before your surgery!!!! Being dehydrated will cause you difficulty with the IV and in my case you will end up with scaring on your veins which looks and feels like bumps…gross! 5) bring with you in ur “surgery bag” a robe, loose clothes, slippers, movies to watch and peeps that love you! Visitors will make you feel better! 6) last but not least as soon as you are allowed to get up and go for laps around the hospital floor! The first time will SUCK! But don’t feel bad! Step by step you will make that lap your biatch!!! 7) as soon as your stitches come out or are dissolved and your scabs have fallen off I recommend using Scaraway silicone based scar strips $17.00 at walmart $19 at frys or kroger they really helped diminish size, color, and appearance of my scars and to help avoid keloids. image Achalasia sucks but it could be worse…you could be dead! Xoxo see ya on the flip side!! image

I’m baaaaaaack!

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image Wooohooooo so excited to be back teaching! Today was my first class back since Sept 28th todays theme was fan pride so I rocked my throwback GSU soccer t-shirt! I am so happy and excited to be back doing what I love the most! It was awesome to see some of my regular members back in class today and I hope to see everyone throughout the week. I’m teaching more classes this week so if ur free get ur butt to one: Monday 5:30pm BODYCOMBAT 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON (neon glow theme) Tuesday 5:30pm BODYPUMP 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON  (blackout theme) Wednesday 9am BODYCOMBAT 24 HOUR FITNESS CHANDLER (super hero theme) Wednesday 5:30pm Bootcamp 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON  (super hero theme) Saturday 10am BODYCOMBAT 24 HOUR FITNESS MESA DOBSON! Jan 11-15th is fitfest so guests are FREE!! If you wanna come let me know and I will get you hooked up! Today was a good day! Even my scars are getting better they have flattened out and have faded a lot. image Fingers crossed they will go away all together! Now its Sunday so I gotta get back to clipping coupons and drinking this stuff so  my throat will stop feeling like sickness is coming on!! See ya on the flip side xoxo

I’m back baby!

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image Today was my first day working out since Sept 28th when I first got sick! Man oh man did it feel good to be back! I started with a 5.14km (3.2miles) run on the treadmill n finished in 26mins and some change (not my best time but it has been over 3 months since I last did anything to sweat) then I hit the free weights to work chest, biceps and triceps :-)! I’m pretty sure I had a huge smile on my face from start to finish and I have never been so happy to get sweaty! We sre on vacation on Winnfield, LA (a tiny dot on the map between shreveport and baton rouge) for Christmas but that didn’t stop my hubby and I from finding time to hit the gym. Its an amazing feeling to be doing something you love with the one you love! I plan on hitting the gym here for the next 4 days that we are here. Big shout out to Sherri from All Hour Fitness here in Winnfield for setting us up with guest access to use the gym while we are in town!! Thank you to all of you who have been following me on this crazy health journey. I love each and every one of you and am thankful for your support, kind words, and most of all your prayers. See ya on the flip side xoxo.

“Rest day” 79

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image Today marks day 79 since I have worked out :-(! The statement in the picture above could not BE more true! You really don’t realize how much time yous spend working out and how much you ADORE it until you are forced not to do It for 3 months! Although I am super happy to be on the mend I tried to “yog” (what I call walk jog) a few feet to escape the cold today while walking my dog and my stomach (mostly all my incisions) started hurting! Super frustrating couldn’t have been more than 5 feet 😦 ! But in every struggle there is always some positives. Today I’m thankful that despite not being able to work out and feeling “fluffy” all the time the bloating of my stomach has decreased a lot. Soft solids are way more fun than full liquids…and they are actually going down unlike before my surgery when often times water and protein shakes were too thick n would make me choke and or throw up! I no longer have to take pain meds since I am no longer in pain 24/7. Thanks to the recommendation from my friend Mandy, these silicone scar strips are allowing my scars to heal rapidly!  Pre surgery image Day after surgery image Few days post op image image Now if the middle incision that looks like a gunshot wound would flatten out and not look so hollow that’d be awesome! Today-4 weeks post op image image image image image Things I am looking forward to in a few weeks 1. Super sweaty cardio sessions in the gym! 2. Getting back to teaching classes with all my beasts! 3.Training for my first show! 4. Getting back to ripping ish up at races this spring! Thanks to every one who has followed me along on this crazy mystery diagnosis journey! Your support is what keeps me  so positive during these last few months of shenanigans! This last pic is me showing my friend lindsay the scar strips I’ve been using and her dog fiona deciding that they looked like a good place to rest her head! Dog’s make everything better 🙂 image   See ya on the flip side! Xoxo