What a great day. Had a really really great ride today. It was supposed to be 90 minutes of recovery but I was so happy to be outside riding my bike and enjoying the strengths of my body that I kind of ignored the SRM and rode for 2:15 instead. I was having one of those rides where I felt like I could ride forever and not feel the effort. My body was treating me right and I was soaking it up. Why this revelry with a simple ride and joy with my legs ticking over smoothly?
Well, yesterday I got some news about my health. Turns out I have ulcerative colitis. This is an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the large intestine or colon. I only found out yesterday so I’m not sure how severe my condition is. At first blush I was a bit upset to learn this news. But after having some time to digest (bad pun) this news and do a bit of reading, really this is not so bad.
Ulcerative colitis can be treated with medication. With the appropriate medicine, I can probably remain pretty much symptom free but will have the occassional flare up. As far as I see it, my life really won’t change that much. I’ll have to take medicine daily but other than that, life will roll along as it is. Oh, with one added extra bonus – I’ll feel much better than I have in a long time.
Yes, a long time. The “bad gut” that I simply thought I had was really more than a bad gut… I’ve been in a flare-up for the past five weeks or so. This is what sent me to the doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago. Initially my doctor suspected hemmerhoids – normal conclusion since I don’t look sick and I spend a lot of time sitting down on my bike seat. I was told that if I wasn’t feeling better in two weeks, to make another appointment. Well, the last two weeks have been pretty rough. I’ve been suffering from pretty much constant stomach cramps, fatigue, weight loss, and bloody diarrhea (sorry for the gory details). I saw my doctor on Monday – he was immediately concerned and wondered why I waited so long to come back in… Anyway, I was able to get in for a colonscopy on Tuesday morning – this is when the discovery of the ulcerative colitis was made.
I know this is not the best medium to let you know about this. And to be honest, I was hesitant to write about this. But I’ve always been honest about how things are going on this site and considering this is a pretty big deal for me, I kind of need to write about it. But, one of the main reasons I’m telling you about this is: I want this to be a signal or reminder to you to not ignore symptoms/signs that something may not be quite right with your body. As a society we are pretty squeamish about talking about digestion and “toilet” issues. But this not talking about things doesn’t get you very far when your health is at issue. I’m not trying to turn anyone into a hypochondriac, but there is a time “to suck things up” and a time to pay attention and deal with things.
I feel very lucky today. Hence the super happy feelings about being able to ride my bike. I’m excited to get on the medication, to meet with my new doctor and really learn how to control this condition. I’m stoked to discover what it will feel like to be healthy and symptom free. I’m looking forward to having a big piece of cake again (foods with refined sugar are not good for me right now). I’m looking forward to munching my daily carrots and celery again (too much fiber is not good during a flare up). I’m looking forward to having some spicy food and eating more than fruit smoothies for supper. I’m looking forward to feeling good again.
Don’t worry. This news is actually a relief. A relief to know that there is a reason for the current situation and that this won’t be my “way of life”. As Marc said “This is your reality and we’ll learn how to handle it”. Everyone has their own “reality”. Will this ulcerative colitis change my plans for the cyclo-cross season? Nope. In fact it strengthens my desire.
This condition really makes me appreciate my health and my healthy lifestyle. I firmly believe that I’ve been able to get through this flare-up thanks to my fitness and good diet. As an athlete, I don’t want to be sick. But as a normal person who is sick, I’m very thankful that I’m an athlete. The lessons learned out training and racing will help me get through the rough patches that I’m sure will come up and will help me appreciate even more the good days.
I’m pretty confident that my ride tomorrow will be even better. See you out on the bike!
Looking forward to tomorrow.
Yup. Been there, done that. After the whole barium shake, colonoscopy (ugh!) song and dance, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome about 15 years ago. After trying a few different medications, I’ve now been able to control it pretty well without them. FYI, I’ve read a few articles suggesting a connection between inflammatory bowel diseases and arthritis, of which I’m also a proud owner (spinal in my case). Don’t know if this applies to you. Best of luck.