A Year Later

It was around this time last year that things kind of fell apart… I was pre-riding the World Cup course at Koksijde (a course I was familiar with and had raced two times previous) and I made a mistake. I put my front wheel in a hole and I crashed. This crash was different, I hurt and the hurt did not go away after a few minutes. Something was wrong when I could no longer lift my right leg. A quick call to Marc in Ottawa and I was off to the hospital. Turns out I had fractured the transverse process on my L3 vertebrae… Yes, not very good. The season was over – this injury needs a full 12 weeks to heal. Damn it. That day is etched clearly in my mind – it is amazing how quickly things can change.

And now here I am sitting in Ottawa thinking about the World Cup in Koksijde today. My friends are going through their warm-ups, trying to decide what to wear and likely attempting to dig some sand out of their eyes and ears. Ah, Koksijde – this is a magical race course – so darn hard but so awesome at the same time. It was at this race in 2009 that I earned the last chunk of UCI points that I would need to make the selection pool for the 2010 World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic.

This race has a special place in my heart. Dreams are made and broken in that sand.

Last year I didn’t think I’d be sitting in Ottawa wondering about the course conditions and thinking about my racing pals. I believed I’d be there racing again. But life has a funny way of working out. A few months ago I would have been devastated to not be in Koksijde, but I’ve learned a lot over the course of this cyclo-cross season. Sure I’m not in Belgium this year (this has nothing to do with my back injury – it is fully healed – instead the culprit is ulcerative colitis) – but this is okay.

Yesterday I received some fabulous news from my gastro doctor. Things are good. Really good. My bloodwork came back and my body is doing well – I’m in a remission. My hematocrit is slowly on the way up, my hemoglobin is good, my CRP (measure of inflammation in the body) is on its way down (was 12 in October and was 3 at the beginning of November – aiming for below 1), my iron is good – my body is back. The ulcerative colitis flare that showed up in April is finally behind me.

It is reassuring to hear my doctor tell me that there is no need to schedule a follow-up appointment – things are that good right now. Of course with ulcerative colitis there is always the knowledge that today I can be in a remission and tomorrow I can be sick again. But so what? I’m not going to let this linger and stop me from doing things. Last year when I crashed and injured my back I thought maybe I wouldn’t want to race again for fear of crashing. Well, guess what – I crashed last week and nothing bad happened!

If I’ve learned one thing over this year, it is this (and yes this will be cliche): life is short and it is up to each and everyone of us to grab it by the horns and make the most of it. I don’t have time for “wishing” and “hoping” there is only doing – and the same holds true for you. Today is a brilliant day – make the most of it. Whatever this is to you – it could be riding your bike, reading a book to your kid, watching a movie with friends – whatever it is – just make sure you darn well do it because really we don’t know what tomorrow will be like.

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