Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Snail

Something kind of cool happened today. I have all these little items I keep trying to sort out before this whole surgery thing goes down. I guess it's my way of trying to feel like I can be a little bit in control of the situation. Some of them are necessary but not fun things, like finally meeting with the lawyer to get a will made. Some of them are (slightly) less necessary but more fun things like trying to figure out how I will launch my running comeback. I know people with ostomies are out there living active lives and I plan to be one of those people as soon as I'm healed up enough to get back out there. I've been thinking about logistics around running and things like do I want to get the Stealth Belt? How quickly will I be able to get back to my current fitness level? And how will I meet the new hydration demands of my altered digestive system? I'm not sure about the answer to the first two items, but I've been researching pretty intensely on the last one.

When you don't have a colon, your body loses a lot of it's natural ability to absorb water and electrolytes. This means people with ileostomies have to be very careful about hydration, especially when exercising. I also keep reading that a lot of ostomates have trouble consuming foods and drinks that contain high levels of sugar. This left me concerned about how I would stay hydrated enough for running without consuming mass amounts of Gatorade and therefore mass amounts of sugar. I did happen upon Powerade Zero (which I'd somehow forgotten entirely about) and I plan to give that a go. A new discovery for me though was this stuff called nuun. Basically, they are little tablets that you drop into a reusable water bottle. They fizz up to dissolve and then become a non-carbonated, sugar free, electrolyte and hydration drink.

I will admit to being fascinated by their information about the amounts and types of electrolytes they include in their formulations. It sounded like good stuff and I wanted to try it out. I happened upon their Facebook page and they had a post up where they invited people to leave a comment and they would pick winners to receive a free tube of some new flavors they are rolling out. I left a comment letting them know I was interested in trying nuun to help with hydration when running with my ileostomy, and they picked me as one of the winners to try the new flavors. I'm pretty psyched to get to try this stuff out for free. They are sending me the new fruit punch flavor. Once I try it, I will be sure to report back on what I thought. It will be awhile before I'll get to use any on the run, but I'm sure it will also be good for general hydration needs after surgery. I also love that they are a small start-up type company. I love being able to support that type of business!

On a running related note, I was really struggling with getting motivated for my run today. I knew I needed to do it, but my head was just not in the right place. I got all caught up in this feeling of wondering why I should even bother. I mean, I'm about to have this huge layoff. I have no idea how long it will be until I can run again. When I do start back up, it's going to take rebuilding all over again. Once I really get solidly going again, it will be time for Step 2 surgery and then I'll just go through the roller coaster all over again. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I shared my pity party with some of my running friends online, and I was reminded of my race report following completion of the Twisted Ankle trail half marathon in 2009.

I entered that race entirely untrained, starting a UC flare, and coming off of a nasty bout of bronchitis. I really had no business doing it at all, but I had been looking forward to it for so long that I was going to be there if it killed me. It never came to that, but I did struggle mightily. It was the most physically difficult race I've ever done. There is one monstrosity of a hill affectionately named "Becky's Bluff" after the race director. That thing is a beast! (the hill, not Becky...she is quite lovely) It's pretty much straight up forever and you have to grab with your hands and climb and all sorts of billy goat like antics just to get up the damn thing. Becky's Bluff sucked what little bit of air I had left right out of my wheezing lungs. My heart rate was hammering, I was light headed, and I seriously thought I would have a DNF for the first time in my racing life. Just as I was contemplating going back down and asking someone to get me off of that mountain, I happened to look down and see a snail right between my shoes. He was just inching along up the hill like everything was cool. I decided if that little snail could get up that hill, then surely I could do the same and I got moving again. It wasn't easy, but I did it.

That snail propelled me through the remainder of the extremely difficult course that day. I'd nearly forgotten about him until today when one of my running buddies reminded me and challenged me to be the snail today. That was exactly the kick in the pants I needed and I'm happy to report it resulted in 3.5 miles at a really speedy pace for where I am in my running right now. I felt so great afterward and was grateful to my friend for providing that nudge right when I needed it.

So why bother when I know I'm going to have to start over (and over, and over by the time this is all said and done)? Because running is what I do. It's brought so many beautiful people and experiences into my life that I can never repay wherever it is they all come from. Because on Saturday my training group will be there waiting for me. Because there are only six more runs on the schedule before I head up to Cleveland and I deserve to savor every single one. Because I don't know any other way than to forge ahead despite all obstacles. Because I am the snail!

P.S. For those who are wondering, I actually ended up losing 0.8 pounds for the week! I'm not sure how that happened, but I'll take it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I followed the link from your healingwell sig to your blog! I go by elddiremsiht on healingwell. I just wanted to comment and say that I love the attitude with which you're approaching this surgery. You are so positive.
    I also just recently had my first of the three step j-pouch. I was lucky enough to be in remission going into the surgery, so I was spending a lot of time at the gym trying to be as physically strong as possible for when the time came. I totally went through the same mental process towards the end: "Why am I still working out? Any progress I make is all going to disappear as soon as I get this done!" But now I'm glad I went into the surgery so strong because it probably helped my recovery go a lot smoother. Anyway, just some food for thought. Keep at it, it's definitely not a waste!