Friday, 23 March 2012

Ottawa, here I come!

I am writing this post from the Halifax airport on my touchpad after a whirlwind couple of days.  I found out that I have to go to Ottawa for work to be a Group Leader at the Forum for Young Canadians on Wednesday afternoon and have been scrambling to get ready since then.  I am so excited for this week, I will get to meet many high-achieving high school students and other public servants for a week of learning and adventure in our nation's capital.  What this means is that I will likely be off the radar until I return, but it also means that I will not be able to participate in my first 5k as I had planned this weekend.  I have found out that they will be holding nightly runs, so at least I will still be able to run in some way over the next week.  From what I have heard from previous participants, I will not have time for much of anything else, and I will leave the forum incapacitated from fatigue, however, they also said that it is an extremely rewarding experience.

With that, I will sign off, touchpads were not meant for long-winded blog entries.  Happy running!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Deep Cold

Unlike some of the other bloggers I have been following, my Saint Patrick’s Day run was not overly exciting.  I did not run in a race, but I certainly felt like it was a race to try to fit in my run amid our errands before the festivities could begin.  My Saturday run consisted of me heading out in far too many layers for what I soon realized was an absolutely gorgeous day.  I did a short run, around 2.5km to my favourite flower shop, The Flower Shop, to pick up a bouquet for a friend’s birthday.  On my way I saw many revellers and a sea of green in front of our downtown watering holes. 

According to my “coach” (Nike+), I was supposed to do a longer run today (4.5 km), so I headed out with a friend at lunch.  In all honesty, I was ready to head home from work, because the “runs” seemed to be consuming my day, but I thought, if I’m going to make another deposit I might as well run, at least it will happen more quickly!  With that, I donned my running tights, which felt extremely inappropriate in the hallway at work, and we were greeted by another beautiful day on the East Coast.  I forgot a jacket, so only had a tank and a long-sleeved shirt, but this was definitely enough.  The run was great; my friend is more advanced, but was nice enough to humour me throughout and even allowed me to do 10:1 run/walk intervals.  What a relief that one-minute is!  This was also the first time I went for a run during work and I must say it was pretty fabulous!  I was longing for someone to wheel me back to my desk post-run, but after an hour or so I felt really energized and so pleased that I went. 

It was not until after the run that things went awry.  Two words for you: Deep. Cold.  Being the genius that I am, I decided that since I would not be able to ice my shins immediately following my run, I thought I would do the next best thing, use deep cold gel.  For those of you who are not familiar with it, it is a blue gel that does some sort of chemical magic when placed on the body and acts as ice once applied.  So, off I went to the ladies washroom to change in one of the stalls.  I felt very prepared – wipes to wipe off the sweat (and eventually the gel), deodorant, new sets of undergarments, work clothes and the tub of deep cold.  In order to give you a complete understanding of what I am about to describe, I must tell you what my work outfit consisted of: dress (I later found out a colleague was wearing the exact same dress – what are the chances?!), tights without feet.   I assessed the situation and approached the application of the deep cold very strategically – I put the dress on first, prepared several wipes to wipe my hands with and applied the deep cold.  What I forgot to think about was that the deep cold really needs to dry, or “set”, before you put the tights on; this was a huge problem for two reasons:

1. I was overly generous with the gel; and
2. I had a conference call in five minutes. 

… I assume you have all guessed what happened next.  Once I realized what was about to happen I had no choice but to pull up my pants, knowing full well I was about to disperse deep cold gel all over the lower half of my body.  When I say all over I mean all over, all over my legs, butt and “other” regions.  Not only does deep cold make you cold, but it also makes you tingle.  Think about that for just a second.  Here I am at work, my lower body is numb and a-tingle all at the same time.  Not good.  I will have to come up with an alternative solution for future applications. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Suck it up princess!

As I stepped outside this afternoon I was greeted by grey skies and torrential rain.  As I continued walking the rain turned to freezing rain, then ice pellets, as the drains began to overflow and the sidewalks became coated with an icy film.  Luckily, it was not windy and I had an umbrella, my hair remained dry but my orthotics were surfing in my sneakers.  A car drove by not long before I reached my destination, creating a wave of brown gutter water that spilled over the sidewalk and onto my lower extremities.  Just when I thought it could not get any worse, a second car drove by to repeat the whole experience.   This was not my run.  This was the walk to get to the point where I could start my run.  So, I arrived, soaking wet, to meet up with my running partner for a lovely afternoon run, praying that she would want to cancel.  No dice.  The run itself was not too bad, I was already wet, sure, my feet became colder, my orthotics floated a little more freely and the moisture finally penetrated both my underwear and my bra.  But, as seems to be my mantra of late, I did it.  I was not able to run the full 5k, I think we were closer to 3.5 or 4k when we started walking, but, the slushy ice on the sidewalks created enough resistance that I certainly felt the workout in my calves.  Thank goodness for running with a partner, otherwise, I would never have considered venturing out.  As we returned from our run it stopped raining, just in time for us to be thoroughly soaked.  

I came home and immediately stripped in our front hallway, ran an Epsom salt bath and laid in the warm water as I came to the realization that I was proud of myself today. 

Before I even left work to meet her I was two Advil deep in an effort to stop the pain pulsing from my bum.  I lost count halfway through the day, so have no idea how many trips I made to the bathroom, but know that it is two so far since coming home.  Had I not been running with someone else I doubt I would have gone, both because of my butt and because of the weather.  My friend definitely motivated me, but, I did not cancel when I had the choice  Instead, I self-medicated and armed myself with a panty-liner to try to avoid any unseemly accidents.  I think it is safe to say that running is teaching me a lot.  It is teaching me to suck it up princess (or Princess Poopy Pants as my husband likes to call me) and man up.  My initiation into the world of running is now complete; it appears as though I am no longer a fairweather runner. 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Be prepared - your journey to a diagnosis...

WARNING:  This is an IBS-specific post, and may contain TMI - Too Much Information. 

Here is a post specifically for those of you with IBS or for those of you with questions relating to IBS.  Keep in mind that what I write in relation to IBS is what I experienced and that some of my opinions are not that same as some of the medical practitioners that I have encountered.  Over time I will cover a series of topics such as: fibre, stress, food, exercise, relief through products, various resources etc. Please feel free to send along any requests regarding topics you would like me to cover. 

My journey…

My road to an IBS diagnosis was a long one that required many doctor visits and a heavy amount of convincing to get anyone to listen.  It all started to go downhill after having jaw surgery in October 2001.  I am convinced that the medication and stress associated with getting my jaw broken was what triggered my first “episode” of IBS.  It took about a year to get to a specialist and then to finally have my first colonoscopy – on my first day of university – and of course, in true IBS style, there is nothing physically wrong with me that can be found in stool samples or any type of scope; I have a collection of symptoms that medical practitioners group under the umbrella of IBS.  Or, as I like to call it: “we don’t know what’s wrong with you, but you have poop problems”.  Over the years I have become very frustrated with the medical system in Canada.  I quickly discovered that unless you are bleeding from your bum, and even then, medical practitioners are very reluctant to spend the time to assess your illness or to attempt to treat you.  I attribute several of my worst episodes to this casual attitude and fully attribute the surgery that I underwent to the gaps in our medical system.  Unfortunately, butt issues do not appear to be a priority in Canada, and I have been told as much by a doctor in one of our emergency rooms, some practitioners appear to believe that these problems are (and I quote) “just a nuisance”.  For this reason, I avoid going to the doctor when having an episode, I trust my own judgment and know enough to be able to tell when something requires medical attention.  Keep in mind there are some specialists out there who are wonderful and helpful, but the trouble seems to be making your way up the referral chain to see one of these doctors. 

When you are initially diagnosed with IBS many doctors immediately suggest reading some books so that you can arm yourself with a bit of knowledge.  This is often coupled with a suggestion to see a psychologist.  At first, I was extremely insulted by what I felt this insinuated, and contrary to what many doctors make you feel – IBS is not in your head.  There are very real symptoms that present themselves on a daily basis.  However, it is triggered by stress; some of my worst IBS episodes were triggered by a stressful life event.  Stress is the number one trigger of my more serious episodes. 

My advice to anyone with IBS would be to summon all of your patience to travel the long road to any sort of diagnosis or treatment, most especially in Canada.  If you think something is wrong, it probably is.  Believe your gut and keep on top of the doctors until you have exhausted your options and arrived at a specialist.  It is imperative that you be persistent because once you are armed with a diagnosis, you at least know what you are up against.  The important thing with bowel problems is to rule out anything more serious such as Crohn’s or Colitis.  

Be prepared…

  1. Be prepared to describe your poop: green, brown, yellow, hard, rabbit-like, soft, liquid, bloody, mucousy, gassy, frequent, difficult, easy, etc;
  2. Be prepared to poop in an ice cream container (ie. stool collection);
  3. Be prepared for blood work;
  4. Be prepared for laxatives, enemas, swallowing barium, barium enemas and colonoscopies; 
  5. Be prepared and willing to see many types of medical practitioners: specialists, naturopaths, dietitians;
  6. Be prepared for varied and strange diets in an effort to identify your trigger foods; 
  7. Be prepared to journal; and
  8. Be prepared for many fingers up your butt.
Finally, know that very soon you will have no problem dropping your pants for any doctor (male, female, hot intern, nurse, group of doctors), in any state of mind or position: conscious, unconscious, drugged, standing up, bent over, in the fetal position – or, my personal favourite – rotated forward and up in the air (ie. semi-handstand on what you initially thought was a kneeling station, but in fact is the medical community’s last laugh as they propel you into the air and look up your butt-hole). 

Know that you are not alone, know that many, many others suffer as you do and all you have to do is look around on the internet and you will find someone to talk to whether it be me or IBS Forums.  My final and most important piece of advice would be to have a sense of humour, because, if you can’t joke about butts and poop then this will be a very miserable experience indeed. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

pretty. damn. fabulous.

Since beginning this blog I feel as though my creative self has finally woken up again.  Not since I completed my thesis have I felt so motivated to set goals, to achieve something, to produce.  Running and blogging seem to go hand-in-hand, partly because it is my subject matter, but also because running gives me an opportunity to reflect on what I plan to write and how to approach it.  So, every week it is with great excitement that I prepare for my next post.  

In terms of a running recap, on Sunday I was able to complete 3k with some difficulty.  I have been getting shin splints, so stopped about every 0.5k to stretch and was honestly overjoyed to hear the Nike+ announcer woman tell me that I had reached my goal and could finally hobble home to ice my shins; I have been in a semi-frozen state ever since.  So today, with great trepidation, I set out for a run.  I was anxious for the usual reasons (running is torture, just call me poop the magic dragon), because of the shin splints, but, most importantly because I was running with an experienced runner.  A friend of mine who has completed several marathons agreed to run with me, and quite frankly, I was petrified at the thought of it; I had no idea if I would be able to hack it or if I would just drag her down.  I have only ever ventured out by myself or with my regular running partner (henceforth known as Lorenzo).  Surprisingly, it was PDF: pretty. damn. fabulous.  The chances of me venturing off this couch tonight are approximately zero, je suis crevĂ©e!  We completed 5k, but here is the kicker – no poop breaks and I only stopped once and that was to stretch out my shins.  Can you believe this?  I feel like a machine!  What a treat to have someone to run with, it made the whole experience so much more enjoyable, we went on a completely different route than I am used to, and, I ran up a hill!  With tomorrow’s promise of 13C weather we are heading out again so as not to miss this spring-like interlude.

This is what my run looked like according to Nike+:

As the weeks pass I find myself feeling more and more motivated in terms of the running and the blogging.  I have received positive feedback in both regards from some pretty amazing people who have been encouraging and supportive throughout this process, and what a help that has been.  It is funny how life can still surprise you, I received an unexpected message from my brother, and aside from the obligatory brother-like digs, he imparted some profound words of wisdom that I have been carrying with me since I read (and re-read) his message:  keep up the hard work and the work won’t be so hard anymoreWhat a true gem that one is! I have been repeating those words to myself when I feel like I cannot do it anymore, so thank you brother for the unexpected kindness, you are wise beyond your years! 

On Sunday, with that very wisdom in mind, I signed up for a 5k race scheduled for March 25th, aptly titled, Practice What You Preach.  This will provide me with the perfect opportunity to test myself in a smaller event before I run the 10K in May.  After today’s success I now know I can definitely handle the 5k and if I keep up the hard work then the 10K won’t be so hard!