Go Live Your Life

“Go Live Your Life”

This is what the lady who is in charge of booking my next surgery told me. Turns out I’m on an 18-month wait list. So that mythical date of sometime in April – June that I was given in December – well, it’s just simply not true.

What this means is I don’t need to keep not making plans. I don’t need to keep not having goals. I don’t need to keep not trying to think about what I’d like to do this summer and fall.

Instead I can get busy doing it.

It might seem strange to read that I’m happy about an 18-month wait. Well, the thing is I was calling today to ask to have my surgery date delayed. I feel great. My UC symptoms which had returned are now comfortably under control. As far as the surgeons see me, I’m in the “benign” group so there is no rush to get this second surgery done.

I had been feeling like I couldn’t commit to anything, make plans to do anything, or even look forward to enjoying the summer since I anticipated spending it recovering from a surgery that has a 50% complication rate.

But now, everything has changed.

I’ve got myself booked in for a mountain bike camp in July. I’ve fired off a super excited email to my coach. I celebrated this great news with two bowls of delicious Oat & Mill peanut butter/chocolate ice cream at 10:30 this morning.

I feel rejuvenated. Just as my stoma (who I nicknamed Reset) has given me a new chance, this news today has really lifted me up.

Time for some goal setting and the planning to achieve those goals. If there is one thing I crave it’s a big goal or two.

I’m stoked to be back.

 

 

 

 

Quiet Times

This old space has been pretty quiet of late. I suppose it’s the sign of the times. We’re just rolling along here with not much exciting or crazy happening.

So yeah, really what can I tell you? We have a  new-to-us car. The old Matrix was too banged up to be repaired. Strange but I was quite sad about losing that car. It was my first brand new car. We had some great adventures in it. But our new car holds just as much (if not more) promise. For something different we went with a navy blue Matrix (our other one was light blue). This one has all the bells and whistles – in stark contras to the old one which even had wind-down/up windows. I’m partial to the heated driver’s seat….

Marc is recovering well from his concussion. He’s in the last throes of recovery and from what we’ve been told this can be the longest block of the recovery process. It’s kind of a day-by-day thing and I don’t think it can be understood or appreciated unless you’re living it. In fact, I know that I really don’t have a full appreciation for it, since I’m just a bystander to this process. There are good days and not-so-good days. But the key is that the momentum is forward.

Hmm, what else? I just finished reading Big Little Lies, which if it wasn’t for the Twitterverse, I would never have read. But ask and you shall receive. I asked for book recommendations and when two people came back with this one, I went for it. It’s good. I enjoyed it. Just perfect for what I needed. Now I’m reading a Margaret Drabble novel – I can’t even remember the name. I think it’s her latest. I think she has a lot of novels. This is my first Drabble.

Really, that’s all that is or isn’t happening. Life is bumping along with a few normal life hiccups but nothing super startling or shocking. Just the way it should be. Not that I don’t want the rainbows, unicorn, and glitter but it all has it’s time and place and right now, I’m happy with a good slice of cake, a mocha with extra whip, Calvin craziness, and quality time with my favourite guy. Really, this is pretty much rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. So yeah, good.

So Far So…

 

So, what is there to tell you? Life is not all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes it is just downright frustrating.

Yes, we’re very fortunate. Our car accident a few weeks ago could have been much worse.

Marc has a concussion.

Concussions are tricky and maddening. The brain is complicated. Recovering from an injured brain is hard and slow.

Go lie down right now in a dark room, close your eyes and don’t think about anything. Do this all day. For multiple days in a row. No you can’t have your iPhone, iPad, computer, book, Kindle, Apple watch, listen to audio books, play chess or watch Netflix. Just lie there.

Yeah, not easy.

Now try to do this when you’ve only been home for five days after being away in Belgium racing and training for six weeks. Do this three days after your cat nearly dies.

To say these past few weeks have been hard is an understatement. I know that I should be super positive and relieved that we’re okay. Of course I am. But geez, sometimes it does feel like a lot.

It’s a lot when we don’t know when things will be back to normal. There is no date that we can aim for. We just have to hope and wait.

My heart breaks when I see Marc going through this. I’d do anything to switch places with him. But I can’t. All I can do is be patient (admittedly, this is not easy for me). I’ve had some very angry days, but I know this anger is useless and not helpful. So now, all I can do is push the stress and worry to the back. What else is there really?

Time cannot be turned back or sped up. It is what it is.

 

 

 

So Fortunate

I’m sitting in my favourite chair in my very comfortable house. Calvin the cat is chilling out in a sun puddle. I’m healthy. Marc is healthy.

And I’m finally appreciating how fortunate we are.

This morning and last night I was all levels of angry.

I neglected to realize the good that has happened since January 1, 2017:

  • Calvin was saved by an amazing team of veterinarians. He is going to be just fine. In fact right now, he’s chilled out purring in a sun puddle.
  • Marc and I are not injured. We are okay. We could have been terribly injured last night when our car was hit-from-behind.

Yes, it sucks that we had to go through the stress over the weekend with Calvin and not knowing if he’d be okay.

Yes, it is terribly rotten that our car is likely a write-off and that we won’t get much money for it from the insurance.

But Calvin is healthy. Marc is healthy. I’m healthy.

We have a nice house. We have jobs. We can buy a new car. We have a strong network of friends and supportive family. We are not alone.

This wasn’t bad luck. It was good luck. Good luck saved Calvin and protected us from serious injury.

Thanks 2017, this is going to be a good year. I can feel it.

 

Some Days Are Hard

Last week I had a hard day. A day and an appointment that I had been anticipating for three months had finally arrived… Never have I so looked forward to a medical appointment.

I left the appointment feeling devastated, down, sad and angry at the world. I was angry, upset, disappointed and feeling a bit beaten up. In an instant I saw all my hopes and plans for 2017 disappearing with one simple sentence “No, more like months, we think maybe you can have surgery between April and June. Not between February and April.”.

The only word that stuck in my brain was June. June. June is too late. Eight weeks of recovery before I can ride again. Eight weeks of nothing but walking. I would never be ready for cyclocross season. There go the 2017 goals. Again another season of goals being wiped out by illness and recovery.

Fuck I was angry.

I wanted to give up. To roll over. To stop training. I couldn’t see the point. I didn’t believe I had it in me to do this all over again. So I felt sad, angry, hurt and disappointed.

I wallowed in this for the entire evening. I ate a lot of dark chocolate. I drank the best hot cocoa I’ve ever made. I had All Bran Choco for supper.

Then the next day, I woke up and realized that life does indeed go on. Okay, time to pull on my big girl panties and get on with it. I realized that I’ve beat big odds before and this is just another challenge. And well, I just might be able to have the surgery in April or May.

And then this week, those of us in the Canadian and American cycling community got some very devastating news about a wonderful young woman. News that is so sad and fucking frustrating that it makes me sit in silence. When I learned of what happened to young Ellen, I found myself questioning everything. How can this happen? Where is the God that is supposed to look out for the good? Why are we so caught up in work and getting ahead when what truly matters is finding joy and doing what you love?

Yeah, it’s pretty hard for me to feel angry about a delay in my surgery date now.

Oh, and about those new year resolutions. Please don’t. You’re good the way you are. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you want to make a resolution, how about something like:

  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Help out for no reason other than to help.
  • Resolve to truly listen when someone finds the courage to speak up.

Some days are hard. Some days are downright rotten. Some people are going through really hard times. Resolve to think of this when you’re frustrated because you can’t lose five pounds or fit into those skinny jeans.

More Rebuilding

I’m still on a bit of a Belgian high. I have to say my trip to Belgium was just what I needed. It was super special to spend time with Marc and get to see him with his friends. It really does help to know that Marc has such a strong network of friends in Belgium. We went to two races and it seemed to me that Marc knew everyone.

The trip went by very quickly but I chalk this up to having so many great experiences. Lots of great rides, good times with close friends, excellent meals, a top-notch birthday celebration for Marc (just missed the chocolate mousse cake), one day of race cheering, and one day of racing for me.

Yes, I raced. Marc and Patty K. are to blame for this! Both were planning to race in Zingem (Marc’s “home” town) and suggested I race as well. It took about thirty seconds of convincing and I was in. Wow, am I ever happy I raced. In fact, I’m still thinking about that race… It really has rekindled my zest for racing and training.

The course in Zingem was a typical Belgian course with two primary sections: one in a lumpy bumpy field that was featured very slippery corners and the second was a tight single track section that had an ideally placed tree that I had a hard time missing – these two sections were connected with  some short straight sections and more greasy corners. We had a good sized women’s field and it was competitive from the gun. The race was short – 35 minutes or so. So much fun and an amazing vibe at this LRC series race. Thanks Marc and Patty for twisting my rubber arm.

To continue with my rebuilding, I met with Beth Mansfield of Peak Performance today for some much need nutrition advice. We had an excellent session and I’m super motivated to get things on track and make the adjustments I need to to rebuild my lost muscle mass.

I had a couple of key doctor’s appointments last week… One with the surgeon who did my first surgery and the other with my gastro doctor. As bad luck would have it, the ulcerative colitis is back… This new flare started on my second day in Belgium… (enter sigh here) But I didn’t let it ruin my trip and was able to manage just fine with it. You might be wondering how I can have a flare when I’ve had my colon removed. Well, I still have a small part of my colon and my rectum. My ulcerative colitis was initially only located in my rectum and eventually traversed my entire colon. Now without a colon, the disease has returned to my rectum. (Damn it!) But the good news is I’m on some medication that is working its magic. Please, don’t worry, this is completely under control and I’m doing just fine.

In a couple of days I’m hoping to know when my second surgery will be. I’m really hoping for February since this will give me the spring and summer to get ready for cyclocross season. But, this date is out of my hands. Fingers crossed.

I’m going to keep moving full steam ahead right up to my second surgery. Back to regular training and getting focused on my nutrition. I want to be as strong and healthy as I can leading up to the second surgery so that I can recover quickly and get back to the good life.

Often we overlook life changing moments or experiences. I’ve been fortunate to have had a few such moments: competing at the Taekwon-Do World Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece, racing my road and cyclocross bikes in Belgium and Europe, racing at the World Cyclocross Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic, seeing Marc succeed in all aspects of his life while having an ill spouse, and most recently having my colon removed.

Definitely living the good and fortunate life.

 

Rebuilding

Ah, the rebuilding phase. This is a training phase that I’ve become very familiar with. It seems like I’ve been in a constant rebuild phase since 2011.

This time around, it feel very different. I suppose partly because I feel like the worst of the ulcerative colitis is behind me. I’m comfortable living, training and racing with my ileostomy now.

Because of this I believe that there really aren’t any obstacles or unknowns in my way. Yes, I do need to have another surgery (I should have a better idea of this date before Christmas). But until the day before the surgery, it’s full steam ahead on rebuilding.

This full steam ahead sensation is something I haven’t experienced before. Previously, I always had some lingering doubt. I couldn’t really trust my body, the medication, or my cranky colon to play along and let me get back to full-on living.

But now I truly believe that the only thing that can hold me back is me. And the wonderful gift of this is that I’m in complete control of me. I can control whether I do get up at 5 a.m. to get my ride in before work. I’m in control of how hard I push myself. I’m my own motivator and cheerleader. I’m the one who puts the expectations on to get the core, yoga and TRX workouts done.

Finally, I’m truly responsible and in control of what I can achieve. The faulty organ is gone. Sure I still have extra intestinal ramifications of ulcerative colitis (because ulcerative colitis is an auto-immune disease, even though my colon has been removed, I’m not actually cured. I still get unexplained fatigue, joint pain, intestinal problems, light headedness, etc) – but these are easier to manage than a full-blown flare.

So yeah, I’m happy, actually I’m thrilled to be rebuilding. The one thing I’ve really been gifted thanks to ulcerative colitis is perspective. For this, I count myself lucky. After all, at the end of the day, it’s just a bike and I do this for fun.