Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm doing fine!

It's been a slow month of recovery and reinjury... the week I spent flat out sick with Crohn's symptoms left me feeling depleted and tired for most of the month. I've been slowly working my way back up to speed, and being aware of my lack of reserves has forced me to cycle smarter.

What happened? I got so sick that I ended up dehydrated and in the ER overnight with a systolic blood pressure of just over 80. Again. Why does this pattern have to keep on repeating? Because with an ileostomy it is almost impossible to stop once it gets started. Of course, I've never been one to follow instructions well. So, I've been off all immune suppressant medications for over a year now because I couldn't handle the frequent upper respiratory infections I was getting. Sticking to a strict diet and excercise plan seems to keep me in good working order most of the time. Except when Crohn's strikes back...

I was perscribed a month long taper of prednisone. But, since I'm just that kind of non-compliant patient, I shortened my taper to a week. And, wouldn't you know, a week later I felt ok. Run down but functional. In fact, two days after getting out of the ER, I did a local C (cat 4/5) race and hung on. It's been steadily better since then.

A couple of weeks ago I did my first B race (cat 3/4) and was startlingly comfortable in the field. Too comfortable to just hang, in fact. Sadly, I had a mechanical near the end of the race and ended up a lap down. But, in that race I did accomplish something BIG! I had a super fast lap where I moved up the side of the entire field and moved into overall, all-time 4th place (57 seconds for 0.5 miles with a slight uphill on the finishing quarter, not tied for that place with anyone) for lap times on the course on strava (A neat application that keeps electronic tabs of times for various segments. Most regular racers in the area use it.)! So, I'm pretty proud of that. I am also in overall 9th place for the final sprint on that course (tied about 10 ways though).

And then I did one of the most beastly, demoralizing road races I've ever seen a map of. Tour of Tucker County is rated one of the hardest road races in the country for good reason. It has a legitimate mountain summit within the first twelve miles, and then continues on with essentially no flat ground until finishing at the top of an >7 mile, 7.6% average grade ( pitching up to >20% in sections) climb. Least to say, it didn't go well. That much climbing at a race pace hurts no matter who you are. But then, right when I needed it the most, from the recesses of my brain, came this song. I am now almost convinced it was actually written for occasions such as the Tucker County road race. It is my new favorite race-pain song. Because, as cheesy as it is, it is so right.

But, even with The Gossip on my side, eventually I fell apart. I dropped my second waterbottle of gatorade midway through the course, a mile after the feedzone - where I might have begged one off of somebody's support person, although I had nobody in the feedzone on that course. In 90 degree weather and full sun, the dropped bottle was the death nel, a ticking time bomb. And then, finally, only 4 miles from the finish line, the cramps hit in full effect. Not just leg cramps, but abdominal muscle and hand cramps so bad that I couldn't even hold onto my handlebars.

Yet, strangely enough, through all of the suffering, I still had a blast! (what is wrong with me!?)
The sheer agony of it was somehow beautiful, elegant even.

My new goal is to get stronger, and get to a place where climbing doesn't hurt so much. Or, at least, where it hurts just as much but my speed is much greater!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Crohn's strikes!

Arrrggg... I haven't been cycling all week because I've been feeling awful.

I suppose I should be more upset about being sick. But,instead I'm annoyed that it is interferring with my cycling plans! I had hoped to do a favorite 70 mile loop (3,000+ feet of climbing) through the countryside out of town today, and a similar route tomorrow. But, no... sadly, my hydration status is miserable. I feel like a wilted plant.

Just carrying the laundry upstairs today felt like a lot.

But, it could be worse.

At first I was really scared that there was something major going on, since this new bout of illness all started so fast. By Tuesday I was a human faucet. It was horrible. I spent Wednesday not wanting to move. By thursday night I couldn't keep up with hydration anymore, and the world started to spin and my lips got that weird tingly feeling that means I'm going to black out. In the ER they pumped me full of saline, zofran, some potassium, and did a CT. Luckily, the CT showed no major issues requiring admission or surgery. And, I felt a lot better after rehydration with IV fluids.

However, I've still been dragging myself around and don't trust myself to ride a bike. I think I might fall over.


So, I've got a bottle of prednisone in hand and am debating starting the month long taper that was recommended. I am concerned about taking it due to the many issues with bone density, sun exposure, and the fact that it turns me into a cranky nightmare. I've taken prednisone enough times to know that I do not get along with that drug.

But, since symptoms haven't stopped yet, I'll probably try a short taper (10 days) instead of the month. Hopefully that will be just enough to help the acute issues resolve. And, then, hopefully I can go back to being off all Crohn's specific medications. Diet and excercise have been working well enough for the past year and a half since I stopped taking Humira and methotrexate. Or, maybe that's just luck.