An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh crap...

Time to get a little serious, and hopefully have some fun along the way.

A little blunt background: I have ulcerative colitis (UC), and have since 1997. It's mostly controlled now, and has been for about the last 6 years, thanks to meds. The journey here has been up and down, with some scary times thrown in.

For those that don't know, or don't want to look it up, basically UC is inflammation of the large intestine (colon) that leads to bleeding, scarring, and if left unchecked can lead to colon cancer. Often, the colon is partially or completely removed, and the ilium is made into a sac to serve the purpose. More severe cases will require an external bag. Yeah, that's the not-so-pleasant part.

At one point, I had a severe flare-up that lasted some 4 months. I lost 15 lbs over 2 months. I had to stop all workouts, because my body just wasn't repairing itself. It was scary, and I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to get a handle on it. Finally got the meds straight and things cleared up, but it was a LONG road getting off the prednisone.

I do function somewhat normally most of the time, though I do have the need to use the restroom more often. "Normal" for me is pooping 3 times a day -- twice before noon, and once after. But what the colon does is essentially extract water from the stuff traveling through, and if it's not working right... Yup, diahrea. And it can hit with little to no warning.

I get some warning signs before I go into a flare-up. My stomach gets noisy. As in embarassing-at-the-theater noisy. The demon speaks.

Over the years, I've figured out that fibrous foods are more-than-effective on me. Apples are out. Oatmeal is evil. Carrots, corn (though corn chips are fine) and lettuce are okay only in very small quantities. I do white bread and white rice. You get the idea.

And I've kind of figured out what my triggers are for a flare-up as well. Sleep deprivation is my number one Waterloo. One night of 4 hours I can handle. Two and I'm at high risk. Three is a guarantee of a flare-up.

I get annual colonoscopies. I highly recommend every one get one. Not just for the medical reasons. Those are all good, and early detection is always the best bet for illnesses. But there's just something about a colonoscopy that is so character-building. And it's not even the proceedure itself -- the prep is the thing.

One thing that UC has taught me is that public restrooms are really okay. I've seen so many women hold it until they got home... UC leaves you no choice. Buck up!

But it's not all sunshine (as if). There have been times when I've had to cut short social engagements. It has taken a lot of understanding on my wife's part, and she's great about it.

To say I'm in tune with my crap is an understatement. Constant vigilance, monitoring things like my bowel tones, sleep, watching what I eat (avoiding all those things that every one thinks is so good for us), taking my meds every day, and twice some days.

I look back to when I started long distance running, just out of high school, and remember having to carry TP in a zip-lock bag with me. Fortunately I lived in a very rural area, and was never more that a couple hundred yards from remote woods at any time. I just thought it was "runner's trots", but I often wonder if these were the early signs of what didn't show up for another 12 years.

If you get "runner's trots" fairly often, get checked out. If you're bleeding, PLEASE get checked out. If you have constant diahrea, PLEASE, PLEASE get checked out.

And don't be afraid of public restrooms.

1 comment:

derscott said...

Great post, David. Although I don't have UC, I do have IBS and have had bouts of diverticulitis. Mine is controlled now with good diet, lower stress, and running, but I was on meds for a while as well.

Great advice about getting anything of this sort checked out. Very important (my Dad delayed until his 60's and ended up with full blown UC).