Normal People Stuff

The tricky thing about this is that you just really never know what you’re going to get day-to-day. One day you wake up and you feel pretty good so you go hammer out some kilometres on the bicycle. Next day you’re still feeling pretty good so you continue on with life as you know it – working, volunteering, pedaling, eating, hanging out – you know normal people stuff.

And then that day-to-day changes. Sometimes it creeps up on you slowly – you kind of know it’s coming but you push it back and try to ignore it. If you don’t acknowledge it, maybe it won’t happen, it’ll change it’s mind and go back where it came from. Other times you wake up and it’s there. Full-on there and there is nothing you can do about it.

You suddenly have a new day-to-day.

Last week was a great one. Two very good medical appointments. Finally met with two surgeons, I learned a lot about the surgeries I’ll be getting. I asked a lot of questions. I got a lot of very good answers. We both left feeling very comfortable and confident with the path forward. (No, we didn’t get a surgical date – I’ll know the date six weeks in advance. The wait for this notice could be long, very long. But this is the reality and there is no point in dwelling on it.) Next day I met with my regular gastro doctor for a very good appointment. I mentioned the slight flare I was in but I told him I had it under control. That everything was okay. Yes, I promised to contact him if things changed.

That’s the thing I guess I’ll never truly learn. After all these years, there is no such thing as a slight flare or under control. After all, if I could keep it under control, why would I be writing about the uncertainties in my day-to-day? Yep, silly me.

My new day-to-day involves resting, eating (but not much), pedaling my bike (but not much), and hoping. Hoping this thing doesn’t completely take over. Now is not the time.

Amazing isn’t it how just when you think you have things under control, everything can change on an instant.

I guess this just goes to show that we can never take our day-to-day for granted.

(P.S. stumbled on a hashtag that I really quite like and one day I’ll be using it: #nocolonstillrollin)

 

Hey There

Hey there strangers, it’s been a while. Yes, totally all my fault.

No motivation to write. Nothing to say. Really didn’t feel like spilling my guts on this page. So I just pretended that this place didn’t exist.

Kind of hard to do. This spot would nag at me. With this nag would come guilt, pressure, fear, and fatigue. What could I possibly write today that would be worth reading by anyone else? What could I possibly have to share that anyone else would want to read? Why bother?

Yes, this pretty much sums up where I was for a while.

It got pretty easy for me to forget that no one has it easy. Everyone has struggles. For some reason I thought I was the only one struggling. This rather narcissistic view became my undoing.

Motivation was low. Smiles were not happening. Moping was the theme of the day.

Thing is, I knew while I was in it, that I didn’t need to be. That I didn’t have any reason to be. It just became this place that was kind of comfortable and easy.

I’ve dug myself out. I’m focused on looking at the good stuff. Not thinking about the things that should be coming and aren’t. Instead it’s all about the here and now. Making today a good day so that the next is a good one as well.

Our days don’t always need to be great. This is a lot of pressure. Our days need to be good. The outstanding ones,the ones that often take us by surprise, become the great ones. The “all time greats” don’t come along very often so it’s okay if everyday is not a great day. Having a good day is better than a bad day which is better than no day.

So yeah, I wasn’t around. I am now. Do I still have anything to say? I don’t know. Time will tell. (I can tell you, it feels damn good to be back in this place. I missed it.)

 

Waiting

This is the time of the year when us Ottawa cyclists spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting to see what the weather will bring. Waiting for the local training criterium series to start. Waiting for our local spring classics to get the racing juices flowing. Waiting for the shorts and jerseys days.

This is the good kind of waiting. Waiting in excitement and anticipation. Excited to test legs and the soul. Find out who has been training hard. Who is faking it until they can make it? A chance to reconnect with friends and enjoy some long days in the saddle telling stories. Spring in Ottawa can be a real treat for us cyclists or (as it is now) a bit unfriendly. But, as the saying goes “good things come to those who wait” – so we wait.

There’s also the not-so-great kind of waiting. The kind when you’re anxiously waiting for something to happen. When you’re trying not to obsess, but are struggling not to. You’re trying to hurry up the days so that the date you’re waiting for finally comes.

I’ve got both kinds of waiting happening right now. For the first time in a long time, I’m going to participate in the local training criteriums and might even do a road race if it works out. This is the good kind of waiting. Yes, I’m a bit unsure of my abilities but this is a good thing – it keeps me getting up at 5 a.m. to ride my bike in the basement. The other kind of waiting is not so awesome. I’m really just counting down the weeks and days to May 24. The day I meet with a group of surgeons to discuss my upcoming surgery. I just want to know what the plan is and when it will happen. May 24 seems like a long time from now. I’m trying not to obsess (this is hard).

Luckily thanks to the imminent arrival of spring, the start of the outdoor riding season, the training criteriums, and shorts and jersey days – I can take my mind off May 24 and focus on the here and now.

Speaking of the here and now, I’m finally over the jet lag from my trip to England. I had a super time on vacation. It was really quite special to spend time with my mom, aunt and uncle. We had a chilled out vacation with just the right mix of busyness and relaxation. It was a real treat to attend my cousin Tim’s wedding and be part of this celebration. Equally special was having the chance to catch-up with my two other cousins. Funny, we don’t see each other often but when we do, we can talk with one another as if we do every day.

 

 

Long Time

Gosh, it’s been a while. Time flies.

Not much happening really. Riding my bike in the basement. I’m enjoying the new Zwift mountain courses. Makes me think of the big mountains I rode up last summer. Soon one day again…. I’ve been outside twice so far this year – yes, much less than most of the hardy and tough Ottawa cyclists. But, you know what – I don’t like riding outside when it’s below zero. The basement is cozy and warm.

I watched an excellent film/documentary that I think you should watch: The Barkley Marathons. I’ve read a lot about this really crazy but oh so awesome running event and watching the documentary really inspired me. (No, it didn’t inspire me to start running again…) Rather it reminded me to never get complacent. To never be happy with what I have accomplished and think more about what I want to accomplish. Even if you don’t like sports or running – you’ll still enjoy this documentary/film. It’s got it all. Hopefully it will give you a nudge to do that thing you’ve been thinking about.

I’m getting on a plane in a couple of days. Off to England for a short trip. It’ll be good.

My plan for when I return on April 1 is that the snow will be gone and I can really get outside consistently to put in some long km’s on the bicycle.

In other late breaking news – I’m back eating meat again. Yep. Had an amazing coconut beef curry stew this evening. I bought some most excellent pasture-raised beef from Kitley Beef Farm – and it is meat I can feel very good about eating. I’m not becoming a full-on carnivore – more like a “if I feel like eating meat, I will” eater. This will be best for my health moving forward and to be honest – I missed eating meat.

Hmm, what else? Nothing really. Hoping to be ready for the start of Ottawa training criterium season. It’s been a while since I’ve raced a criterium but I’ll give it a go every other week and see what happens.

As the saying goes “you’ll never know if you don’t try”….

 

Update

So remember way back when to that time I wrote about waiting for a surgical consult?

Well, dudes – great news! I’ve got a date. Finally I’m getting a surgical consult to discuss having my colon removed. To put it bluntly, I’m stoked.

Some people might find this hard to understand. It’s not often people get excited about having two major surgeries. But think of it this way, imagine you have a nagging hangnail that just won’t heal. You’ve tried everything: bandaids, superglue, clipping it with your nail clippers, gnawing at it with your teeth, ignoring it – and nothing works. It grates at you day in and day out. All you can think about is that damned hangnail and how it won’t give you any relief. Some days you feel like you’re going a bit crazy, because after all, it’s just a hangnail – can’t you just live with it? But you just can’t because you know it’s simply not doable. Finally, one day the hangnail disappears and the relief you feel is hard to put into words. You feel free. You feel like you have a new lease on life.

Well, that hangnail is just what it feels like to be living with the large intestine that I have. I’ve tried it all. Tried all the drugs. Done all the diet modifications. Reduced my stress. You name it – I’ve tried it. Some of the changes worked for a short period and I had some glorious days and months of relief (heck, way back in the Remicade days I had 1.5 years of goodness). But this cranky large intestine of mine, it won’t settle down.

So yeah, I’m ready for this. I’m ready for the surgeries. I’m ready for the recovery process. I know it will be a long slow road. I know that the recovery from the first surgery and then eventually the second surgery will be damn hard. I know I’ll be angry and sad because you guys will be out riding your bikes and doing stuff without me. But, I’ve been through the missing out before, so I’m ready to do it again to make sure that the next time, there won’t be any missing out.

And before you ask, no I don’t know when the surgery will be. Right now all I have is an appointment to meet with the surgical group and discuss it. Fingers crossed that I don’t have to wait very long for the actual surgery. But the tricky thing about this is that since I’m in a remission (even though I’m off the medication), this is still considered an elective surgery. It only becomes non-elective if I get sick. I don’t want to get sick. Obviously the wait time is longer for an elective surgery. But having this surgery when sick is really not good – things get complicated and it’s harder to recover from it. So I’ll wait.

If I appear upbeat, it’s because I am. Last week after seeing my gastro doctor I was feeling quite dejected. But now, just knowing that there is an actual end in sight, I feel so much more optimistic and encouraged.

 

Cold Days

I don’t know about you but I’m about done with winter. In fact, I can honestly write that I never ever want to see a snowflake again. Yep, I’m over winter and snow. Really, not to be all negative but I simply don’t like being cold.

I like warm. I can handle humid. I’ll even take some rain. Just no snow, two hour shovelling stints and below zero days.

The one thing that is keeping me sane this winter is Zwift. Yep, I’m hooked on riding in the basement and going deep into the world of Zwift. Now I don’t do the group rides or races. I simply get on, start pedaling and do my work-out for the day. I have jumped in with a group and it’s pretty cool but if the pace is not right for me, I’m happy to wave good-bye. Along with this Zwifty riding I also use Netflix for company. Television has Zwift and the  computer monitor has Netflix.

I’ve pedaled through a lot of excellent programming this winter. In case you’re interested, here are some good programs to fill the trainer time (or treadmill time):

  • Happy Valley – excellent British police drama. I really hope there is a second season.
  • Dicte – top-notch Danish police drama.
  • Last Tango in Halifax – funny and honest British drama that shows life like it is.
  • Wallander – this is an excellent Swedish police/crime show. The episodes are long and there are only three per season. Can be a bit more gruesome than Canadian programming but, this aside, it’s good watching.
  • I’ve also watched a bunch of documentaries: Cowspiracy, Mission Blue, Searching for Sugarman, Clean Spirit, Pantani,  and Stop at Nothing.
  • For movies, I’ve watched: Life of Pi (second time watching this), McFarland (kind of cheesy but good),  and Margin Call (if you watched The Big Short you’ll enjoy this).

In between this riding, I’ve been relaxing with my increasing pile of colouring books and trying out new recipes. I’ve just done a four week gluten-free challenge/test to see how if I feel any differently without gluten in my body. Well, I think I do. We went to Albany, NY on Thurs/Fri and I ate pretty much whatever I wanted and this included some regular bread and some gluten-laden dessert. Verdict is: I feel better without gluten in my body. And to be honest, I don’t really miss it. It makes it so much easier to avoid the office temptations (I have an extreme weakness for crackers…). The only things I do miss are my favourites at our local Greek restaurant, but I can adjust.

During this gluten-free test I also learned that my iron is quite low (8)… But because I’m not anemic, my doctor really isn’t concerned. Well, I’m concerned so I’m also trying to get this number to get into the solid double digits. As a result I’ve been experimenting with teff (high in iron), adding in more lentils, paying attention to my Vitamin C, eating pumpkin seeds, and mixing up my greens (forgot how much I enjoy Swiss Chard and have started using Collard Greens for my wraps). I’m also taking a liquid iron supplement and making sure I’m getting lots of liquid Vitamin D and B12.

If you’re curious about some of the recipes I’ve been trying out and have on my list to try, here you go:

That’s about it from me. Oh and to keep warm I’m enjoying Crio Bru and turmeric milk (find the recipe on Natasha Kyssa’s Facebook page – lots of other excellent recipes there as well).

Well, for all you winter fans – I hope you’re having an excellent winter. I’m having a good one as well – it’s just an indoor winter rather than an outdoor winter.

 

On Hold

Life feels like it is on hold right now. Sure I’m still doing all the stuff I normally do, but in between all of this, I’m waiting.

I’m waiting for phone calls, appointments, follow-ups and decisions.

I need an MRI to find out if there is anything “funky” happening in my spine that could be causing this ridiculous nerve pain in my right quad and the pins/needles/numbness in my left quad.

I’m waiting for my surgical consult. I met with my gastro doctor on Wednesday and a lot of decisions were made. I’ve stopped taking Entyvio (new medication that I started in September). I’m going to have surgery and have my colon removed. I’ll eventually end up with a j-pouch (part of my small intestine is used to create a new “colon”). This requires two surgeries and a good chunk of recovery time.

Because I’ve stopped taking Entyvio (which was the last really good drug choice I had), I’m taking two other drugs in hopes that these will keep me in a “remission” until my first surgery date. No one knows if these drugs will keep me stable long enough. There is a plan if I do end up “flaring” before my surgery, but we really don’t want to go down this road.

It’s now that I really feel deeply the impacts of this disease.

All of these unknowns and waiting for appointments and dates, mean that Marc’s life is also on hold. There might not be any riding in France for him this summer (though I think he should still go with his Belgian friends (hint, hint)), his summer racing plans and training are likely going to be impacted, and who knows about cyclocross season.

But, the reality is we can’t just sit and wait. Life has to keep moving forward. So until we have results and dates, we have to keep doing what we do.