Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hope! Knowing somebody has ridden this path before...

I'm not sure why I had continued to search for other competitive cyclists with an ileostomy. I had resigned myself to not finding anyone else a couple of years agoe. I feel safe saying that my internet search skills are truly excellent, refined by years of undergraduate and graduate education.

When I stumbled upon this page, by a competitive cyclist with an ileo since '98, I was shocked.

Seriously, dumbfounded.

I got that funny feeling of mixed excitement and disbelief that makes my head buzz. Immediately I thought, "I have to email him! Please please please please, write me back!!!!". I hadn't realized exactly how important it would be to me to just know that this pursuit is possible - that I'm not crazy for thinking that with training, I could perform at an elite level in an endurance sport. Of course, it is crazy to think that a person would have all the answers. Or, that his answers to questions about hydration and things like cycling with ostomy belts (which, by the way, he makes) would work for me - everyone is different.

But, HE EXISTS!!! And, that's what matters.

Cycling is a very specialized sport. Dedicating yourself to cycling is not the best way to achieve overall fitness, if that's what you're looking for. And, cycling at a high level (like running or distance swimming), brings its own set of specialized physiological needs, beyond those of having a digestive disorder. So, go ahead and throw all of that popular anti-carb, anti-calorie, salt-restricted nutrition advice out the window! In fact, go ahead and throw the BMI chart out the window with it (I'm "normal" on the BMI chart, but still heavy for my height for a cyclist). And, it will probably no longer be possible to get sound nutritional advice from the general, non-endurance athlete, community or professionals who aren't used to working with endurance athletes.

But, then what do you have left to reference? I've been a "one of a kind" to all of my physicians, nutritionist, and coach. But, at least now I know for sure that I'm not truly the only one. We are just a very tiny minority. There are probably even another two or three competitive cyclists out there in the world who have or had an ileostomy at some point. But, it's making contact that matters. This reinforces the reasons why I created this blog in the first place. I want to be visible, just in case it helps somebody else along the way.

Knowing that he is out there cycling with a team, and has been for over 10 years, brings me real hope and comfort. And, it makes me more determined to succeed - because I know it is possible.

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