Central Harlem, NY, NY
Twitter Handle: @DJExecuRealness
Instagram Handle: @rmaril
Digestive Wellness (DW): Describe yourself in 150 words.
Robert Maril (RM): I'm an Oklahoman who's been living in New York City since April 1st, 2006. I'm trained as a classical singer but nowadays most of my musical time is split between my contemporary/experimental music ensemble, Rhymes With Opera, and my career as a DJ. I'm an IRB Analyst at one of New York City's major research and teaching hospitals after stumbling upon a career in clinical research at age 24.
DW: Digestive disease?
RM: Crohn's disease.
DW: What led you to your diagnosis?
RM: Starting when I was 22, I had a few episodes of intense belly pain, fatigue, and vomiting, all of which I mistakenly attributed to food poisoning. At 24, I had another of these episodes but instead of going away after bed rest, hydration, and the eventual vomiting, the pain intensified until I was completely immobilized. I went to my grad school's student heath center, where they told me they couldn't tell what was wrong but that I "might have an organ failing" and sent me to Johns Hopkins Hospital (which was, miraculously, also where I worked). After several (excruciatingly painful) hours spent with the ER doctors scratching their heads, I mentioned to one of the doctors that I have a family history of Crohn's disease. Shortly thereafter, a doctor came in, had a glance at my CT scan and unceremoniously told me, "Yes, you have Crohn's disease, and you'll need a colonoscopy," and left the room.
DW: What has helped you manage your disease the best?
RM: I am extremely lucky in that I'm able to manage my Crohn's disease with Pentasa, minor dietary restrictions, stress reduction techniques like yoga, and getting enough rest.
DW: What foods do you stay away from?
RM: Anything that's really packed with whole grain or dietary fiber; anything super grainy or husky; popcorn; whole wheat pasta; brown rice.
DW: Do you exercise? If so, what type(s)?
RM: Nowadays, my exercise is limited to brisk walking (I modified my commute so that all told I'm walking about 1.5 miles across town both before and after work) and yoga. More than anything else I've found, yoga has really helped my Crohn's (and digestion and sleep and outlook and physical balance and ...)
DW: We love yoga, too! So glad to hear it is working for you!
DW: Ok, some fun facts about you. What is your favorite food?
RM: Tex-Mex. The real kind, not the kind you get up here [in NY].
DW: Favorite TV show?
RM: Veep (or, if I'm feeling naval-gazy, Looking).
DW: Guilty pleasure?
RM: Rye Manhattans, up, no maraschino necessary.
DW: What is your favorite way to relieve stress?
RM: Sleep as late as I want without setting an alarm, cook a big Saturday or Sunday brunch, and sit around in my pajamas with my roommate watching movies, listening to records, and laughing.
DW: Okay, now the most important question. What is the best tip you would give someone newly diagnosed?
RM: There isn't one correct answer for how to deal with your IBD/Crohn's. It's going to take some trial and error, and you really have to learn to listen to your body. Your life is probably going to be different -- but that doesn't mean it's going to be worse.