One Week

One more week to go. Wow, time does zip along. I’ve been doing my best to maximize the summer, knowing that August 8 would come quickly.

Now I’ve got one more week before my surgery.

I’m feeling pretty much okay. Some days totally cool and comfy with the changes I’ll be facing. And other days I’m working hard to not freak out. I tell myself this is normal. Of course, I don’t really know since there is no real “preparation” for something like this. The medical details are all taken care of. But the emotional/mental details are really up to me to figure out.

Fortunately I’ve connected with quite a few people who are living very full lives with an ileostomy. These people are my touchstones, reminding me that life will be good. I also remind myself that this surgery is very common (more common than we realize).

Post-surgery, I’m most looking forward to knowing that Marc doesn’t need to live with this disease anymore. It might appear that I’m the only one who has been impacted by ulcerative colitis for the past seven years, but the truth is Marc has been equally hurt by it. Marc has been living with stress, worry and residual fatigue and I’ll be so very happy to see this lifted from his shoulders.

After my surgery on August 8, I’ve got a few goals to motivate me (yes, you know me – always with the goals):

  1. Out of the hospital in five days.
  2. Be ready for a fun weekend at the cottage on Labour Day weekend.
  3. Ready to full take in the Adele concert in Montreal on September 28. (Fourth row tickets!!!)
  4. Get back to real training in October.
  5. Get in a few very easy cyclocross races.
  6. Make sure Marc gets to Belgium for a great season of cyclocross racing.

I think six is enough. I’ve listed them in chronological order but not necessarily in order of importance…

So now I’ve got one week. Three days of work left. One “A” crit to watch. One last meal at the Green Door. One last bike commute to the office. A few fun rides planned. One 12 year wedding anniversary to celebrate. (I think this adds up to a pretty great week.)

 

 

 

Finally Something

Lately I’ve had a lot of blog posts swirling around in my head… but nothing has made it.

As for now. Well, I don’t know what is going to make it.

I can tell you that I’m currently hooked on watching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix… I’m not sure what happened, but one evening I just found myself immobile and watching Season 1 of Grey’s… Now I’m on Season 4. Yeah, I know. But I can’t help myself. I consider this my chic lit.

I’ve had some pretty stellar bike rides. Discovering lots of new-to-me mountain bike trails. Having fun pushing my limits (in a very careful and gentle way). Enjoying new road riding routes with friends. These rides involved a lot of talking, a lot of pedaling and most importantly lots of good vibes.

Right now I’m focussing on managing my energy levels. You’d think after all of these years I’d have a handle on this. But guess what, I don’t. My goal is to maximize the next two weeks but to not run myself into the ground. I’ve got an important date on August 8.

It’s not often we get the chance to press reset. I plan to take full advantage of it.

Some News

Not a very original title, but it lets me cut-to-the-chase….

I have a date for my surgery. August 8.

When I originally met with a surgeon and her resident in late May, I was told it would be up to an 18-month wait for my first surgery. But, there was a chance I could get in earlier with a different surgeon… So, I told the surgeon that I would be interested in having her recommended surgeon and colleague do my first surgery.

Then one week later I got a call. Then a week later I had an appointment. And now I have a surgery date.

How do I feel? I feel good. I feel ready. I feel confident. I feel slightly nervous. I feel tired. I feel optimistic. I feel thankful.

The people I’ve already told about this surgery have reacted very supportively. A few people have been surprised and shocked that I would be happy about having my large intestine/colon/bowel removed.

I suppose the idea of having an ileostomy is a scary one and not one many people ever want to consider. For me this ileostomy brings with it nothing but relief. Relief that my days will no longer be ruled by toilets and bathrooms. Relief that I can get back to feeling well again. Relief that this takes a lot of uncertainty out of our lives.

I know it’s not going to be easy. But the last seven years haven’t been that easy. I think that with time I’ve simply gotten used to feeling the way I do. It’s not obvious to most people how I’ve been feeling, but ask Marc and he’ll tell you how it really is. Ask anyone with a chronic incurable illness and they’ll tell you that after a while you get really skilled at managing fatigue, masking pain, and simply getting on with living – there really is no other option.

This surgery on August 8 is the first of two surgeries. I don’t know when the second surgery will be. This second surgery requires the skills of one of three specialists in the city – so yes, it could be a very long wait.

I’ll be in the hospital for up to five days after the surgery (assuming everything goes well). Then I’ll be at home for a few more weeks. I hope to be back on my bike as soon as possible. In fact my surgeon said there is no reason why I can’t be doing long rides four weeks post-op.

In the meantime before August 8, my goal is to maximize the rest of June and all of July. I know this time will go by very quickly with the rest of June already packed with the Preston St. crit on Sunday, elite road race nationals weekend, and a Canada Day long weekend visit with my brother and his family.

So yeah, that’s my news. Have questions about all of this? Don’t be shy – fire away.

 

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”….