Silver Linings

My last post came from a place of struggle and frustration… Sometimes being honest and not sugar-coating life has its drawbacks.

I don’t want you coming to this site and always be reading about my frustration, illness, or downright anger. So, yes, things are not great with my lonely small intestine – but I’m doing just fine.

I’m working with a dietitian who specializes in working with people like me who have funky digestion. I’m finding foods that I can eat and don’t cause problems. Yes, I’d like to be eating the foods I could eat just a mere seven months ago – but eventually I’ll get back there.

I’m in a good place. And I’m very lucky to be in this place. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s to never take the small snippets of goodness for granted.

These micro moments slowly but surely add up to being big huge wins.

It’s kind of weird to realize the summer is almost over. What a summer it has been… I think that as challenging and downright depressing these past six months have been, it’s important to still see the good stuff.

More downtime. More reading. Swimming in the open water. Meeting some cool new people. Seeing the Ottawa Women’s Cycling Network Facebook group take off. Discovering new cycling routes. More time for sketching. Less doing and more being. Stronger connections.

I know that for many people this is a rotten time and I try to remember this when I’m out at the grocery store or simply driving the car. Just like the person standing too close to me doesn’t know what’s going on in my life – I don’t know what they’re dealing with.

Grace is a word that comes to mind frequently these days.

Happy 4-Year Stomaversary

Four years ago today on August 8, 2016 I had my colon removed.

Four years ago I started to learn how to live with my small intestine sticking out of my stomach.

Four years ago I began learning about pouches, leaks and angry red skin.

Four years ago I started to understand that food would never be the same for me.

Four years ago my life changed.

I will never ever regret having my colon removed. This decision saved my life.

But today, four years after having my colon removed, I am not celebrating.

Today the realities of living without a colon, a rectum, and only a partial small intestine hit hard.

I did not go on my planned four-hour stomaversary celebration bike ride.

Instead I woke up to debilitating pain in my small intestine. Pain that I equate to trying to “digest knives”.

Pain that has made me not ever want to eat again. Pain that reminds me that while I look healthy – I will never be fully healthy.

Pain that reminds me to not eat berries, apples, kiwi, plums, oranges, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, beans, celery, onions, peas, corn, eggplant, grapes, bananas, chocolate, nuts, seeds, butternut squash, salad, tomatoes, or pasta.

Pain that reminds me to never take anything for granted.

I nicknamed my stoma Reset.

Four years ago I was able to hit the reset button on my life. I’m forever grateful to the smart doctors and surgeons who gave me my life back.

But today is also a powerful reminder to never play fast and loose with this one life I’m given.

Marc and I celebrated our 16-year wedding anniversary on Friday, August 7.

How lucky am I? Extremely lucky.

A Fresh View

It’s 5:50 a.m. on a Monday morning. I got up at 3:45 a.m.

This new early morning routine is down to one thing – the pull of the water. This summer I’ve become hooked on swimming in the open water. A positive side effect of the pools closing has been discovering how much fun it is to swim freely without the boundaries of lane markers, change rooms, schedules, and chlorine.

But, I’m not swimming right now. I got up with a plan to swim. A lingering threat of lightening and a feeling of fatigue have kept me home. Going back to bed is not an option for me. Once I’m up – I’m up.

And in typical fashion, I wish I’d gone swimming. I know I’ll look at the photos from the beach and think “ah, I should have gone”. But I know the front porch and the early morning quiet is the right choice.

Here’s Tom’s photo of the view I missed earlier this morning:

A subtle tiredness washed over me last night as I fought the “head droops” while trying to watch a movie at 7:00 p.m. I was in bed by 8:00 p.m.

Old me would have gone swimming, ignoring the fatigue and this deep sensation of not feeling “great”. Some days I miss the old me – the one who pushed through workouts no matter what, had huge goals to propel me forward, and a deep sense of unfinished business.

The new me is trying to slow down the pace. I’m still active and staying busy but with a different purpose. Pure enjoyment and satisfaction. Being fully in the ride, swim, or moment and actually experiencing it. Letting go of the need to always do a long ride on Saturdays or to get in that weight workout when I’d rather be reading or to have a schedule that kept me ticking and regular.

Nadine’s photo of the morning that I missed (but will enjoy tomorrow):

At Loose Ends

I’m just going to come out and say it – I miss the before times.

I miss having plans. I miss being spontaneous. I miss seeing friends and family. I miss feeling at ease when I go to the grocery store.

I miss going mountain biking with my riding pal. I miss going for group rides. I miss sitting down in a restaurant for a meal with friends. I miss hugging (I know shocker – I’m not much of a hugger).

I miss the casualness of life.

I miss having plans.

I know I’m not alone in this. And I know that my experiences during the pandemic have been very easy compared to those of so many. I know I’m fortunate.

But, I still feel directionless. I know this feeling will pass and I’ll get my mojo back. But it’s a challenging place for me to be since I’ve always been very driven and motivated.

I Didn’t Ride Today

It’s Sunday and I didn’t ride. I planned to ride. I got my bottles ready. My food was organized. I ate a pre-long ride breakfast (peanut butter on two toasted crumpets and one  slice of bread with peanut  butter and honey).

And then I walked up the stairs and my  legs felt rotten, my head was heavy, and I was short of breath. I thought back to Saturday when after a normal three-hour ride I couldn’t shake an overall body fatigue that left me dragging all day.

I decided I didn’t want to feel like that today. So I went back to bed. I napped. I read my book. And finally made it downstairs at 11. Normally I’m up and out the door for my rides at 8:00 so I  can get lots done on a Sunday.

Not today. I made soup. I made waffles. I made chocolate mousse. I talked on the phone with my mom. I sat in the backyard and sketched. It was good. Just what I needed. I had thought about yoga and a walk but this did not happen.

Slowly I’m getting that I don’t need to ride simply because this is what I’ve always done. If I don’t feel awesome. I can take an extra rest day. It doesn’t matter if I’ve already had two rest days this week.

It’s okay if I don’t ride on a Sunday when the sun is shining and everyone I know is out riding their bikes. I’ll probably ride tomorrow. But if I don’t the sky will not fall and I will not lose all my fitness.

I’m even going to eat pizza for supper – even though I didn’t do a long ride and burn 2,000+ calories. It’s okay to eat pizza, to drink homemade iced coffee, and eat waffles for lunch on a day I don’t ride.

It’s okay to let go and be okay with it all.