A Clean Bill of Health

I had my follow up colonoscopy this week and we were hoping to find the inflammation gone since doubling my dose of Remicade. Well, the results were probably the best we possibly could have hoped for. Not only is all the inflammation gone but, according to Doctor Rev, “of all the results I’ve seen for you, including all your historical results I have access to, this is by far the best I’ve seen your colon.”

happy dance

Even I was blown away at the photos taken during the procedure. I’ve NEVER actually seen my colon look healthy before.

Thank goodness for good drugs. And all the researchers that poor their heart and soul into developing them. Just another reason to continue everything I’m doing to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

I still have the stricture and we have to discuss our options. The doc wants to use balloon dilation and expand the opening. To give you an idea of how bad the stricture is, he couldn’t get through with a pediatric scope. *sad*

A couple of high notes from the procedure, compliments of the anesthesia:

  • Upon hearing they would be using a high definition pediatric scope, I responded with “I live my life in high definition.” I didn’t copy write it folks, feel free to use it all you want.
  • When instructed to think happy thoughts, I went straight to Christmas and proceeded to tell the docs about all my wonderful sugarplum dreams. This sounds exactly like something I would actually do, regardless of the propofol.

This will most likely be the close I ever get to actually having a clean bill of health. I’ll definitely take it.

 

A new 5K PR at the Rudolf Ramble

One of my favorite ways to stay active in the winter is the RunDenver winter series of 5Ks. I’ve come to appreciate the 5K as a little bit more than a fun run. It’s a great way to test my continued improvement. Sometimes the small accomplishments are hard to notice and keep track of, especially when improvements come in the form of seconds over many miles. Or in the form of a few pounds or a few inches over months. Unfortunately that’s why it’s so easy for me to lose track of my goals.

I haven’t been running like I should, especially since I have a half marathon in about eight weeks. So when I shaved 50 seconds off my 5K PR, I was left shocked and speechless at City Park.

At the Rudolf Ramble, I was looking forward to seeing a group of fellow runners that I haven’t seen in a while and I was excited to just get moving. I wasn’t even thinking about being able to PR so I started off slowly toward the back of the pack. My pace was comfortable but I was pacing people, so I was pretty happy. I had my trusty Garmin on my wrist but I decided to ignore the pace and just focus on the feel of the run.

Rudolf Ramble Finish LineOne of the best parts of Team Challenge is the family you have once you participate for a season. Through seven seasons my running family has grown exponentially and it really pays off when you start knowing the volunteers at races. At each turn was a smile from someone I knew, cheering me and the hundreds of other runners on to the next turn. I can’t even describe the rush of adrenaline that surges through my body when I hear someone scream my name and words of encouragement. It takes the runners high to a whole new level! I’m so thankful for each one of those people.

 

When I hit the two mile mark I realized I was on pace to PR this 5K. My competitive side kicked in and I picked up the pace, knowing that I could push for the last mile. The side stitches start knocking. The legs start to feel tired. Sweat beads start to form. I keep pressing on. I cross the finish line in 33:22 which for me, is lightening fast. I beat my best time my just under a full minute.

I sat down next to Brian just before the finish to cheer on my fellow runners and walkers. People from all walks of life and from all levels of fitness came out to enjoy the beautiful weather, knowing that each step they take is doing something fantastic for their body and ultimately their community. Dads and daughters. Grandmas and grandkids. Elite athletes. Race walkers (how do they move their hips like that?!). It didn’t matter who they were, they all crossed that finish line with a smile on their face.

It’s a big week for me. I have my colonoscopy on Thursday to check the inflammation and stricture found about 6 months ago. Hopefully doubling my dose of Remicade has worked it’s magic and I can walk away with a clean bill of health. Updates to come soon.

Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Recap

Last weekend I completed my sixth half marathon. It was brutal. There were some accomplishments but it took me a while to see the positive through all the pain. But, let me start at the beginning of the weekend.

Las Vegas Pasta PartyThis was my 6th half with Team Challenge and even though I’ve been to event weekend with this Denver chapter six times before, I still had that exciting butterfly feeling. It doesn’t matter how many pasta parties you sit through, the weekend still generates electricity. It’s not just a time to reflect on my own accomplishments as a Crohn’s patient, but I get to reflect on all the new people I’ve met on their journey.

Some of them are patients. Some are caregivers. Some have no connection to the disease, at first. Those that join the team without a connection find they have at least twenty connections to friends with the disease once the season is finished.

Some are experienced half marathoners. Some have even ran a full! Some have never walked more than a mile. Most don’t think they can accomplish such feats.

All are champions and athletes. Everyone ran the same 13.1 miles. Everyone crossed the same finish line. That’s what Team Challenge is all about. 

We had our traditional pasta party the night before the race. This was probably one of my favorite pasta parties so far! Holly and her daughter were our honored speakers. It was so amazing to hear about IBD from both perspectives – as a young child with IBD and as a mother of an IBD patient. Her daughter was brilliant, but Holly stole the show. She was an amazing speaker and told a beautiful story. Her family is such an inspiration and I loved their moto – the power of one. It’s something that I’ve used in the past and I couldn’t agree more!

Meeting Meb in Las VegasOur guest speaker blew my mind! None other than Meb Keflexighi told us his inspiring story, starting from his early days as a child. He used the term perseverance so many times. I love the power that word exudes. IBD patients are the epitome of perseverance. Many of us have struggled and triumphed through so many hardships, for many years. We are warriors!

The next day turned into a windy, cold Vegas evening for the race. I left Denver when it was 20 degrees so I was really looking forward to some dry Vegas heat! The weather was a let down. At the start we were huddled in small clumps trying to block the wind and use each other for body heat. I think such a cold start drained all of us a little bit.

I hadn’t trained well for this run and knew my chances of a PR were pretty slim so I decided to try for another accomplishment – run the entire distance. I had always used the run/walk method and had never ran through water stations or while eating my snacks. So I started out at a very comfortable pace. I decided to keep it slow through mile 8 or 9, crank it up through mile 12 and then just haul butt to the finish through that last mile. It would also be the first time I had negative splits in a race. If I could accomplish it.

Waiting to start the Las Vegas Half Marathon Everything was going really well through about mile 6. The lights of Vegas were mesmerizing and I was enjoying people watching in the crowds and all the runners. With 42,000 fellow runners, the people watching is nothing short of epic. Around mile 6 I started to feel pain in my right IT band. This had happened on the 9 mile and 11 mile training runs so I knew I wasn’t in for a treat.

At mile 9 I wanted to quit. I really wanted to quit. I had never wanted to give up during a race. Well, not really. I’ve questioned myself A LOT, but never have I wanted to give up. I was in the random neighborhoods in Vegas so I decided that if I quit, there was a good chance something bad would happen back there in the dark so I moved on. At mile 10 I found a Team Challenge coach and asked her to run with me. The chat with her was great and it kept my mind off the pain that was searing through my leg. At this point, I was overcompensating for my right side so my left sciatic nerve was starting to ache.

I was ready to walk. I really, really wanted to walk. But I was so close to the finish and so very close to accomplishing my goal. So I did what I had to do. I started asking random strangers if they would chat with me. It made such a difference when i was able to stop thinking about my legs. At mile 11.5 or so I found another Team Challenge coach and asked if she would just ask me questions. I told her I was hurting so bad so of course her first question was, do you need to walk? AHHHHH! Wrong Question! I was so close and I basically screamed at her that I needed to keep going.

She left me around mile 12 and I turned on the heat. SOOO MUCH PAIN! I was cranking out 10 minute miles because I just wanted to be done. For me, that is lightening fast. At mile 13 I see my coach and needless to say, pleasantries aren’t exchanged. He chats with me for a few seconds, refocuses me on form and tells me to just keep moving but be careful.

The race bling from Las Vegas Half MarathonI crossed the finish line with arms high and the relief! Such wonderful relief! People had to be worried about me because of the way I was gimping along the finish chute. I accepted my medal and that’s when I realized I did it. For the first time ever I ran an entire half marathon. PERSEVERANCE. I did what I needed to do to accomplish my goals. I grabbed a chocolate milk and let it all sink in. I had exceeded my own limits. I now had no excuses for not running entire distances. I had no excuses for giving up.

I didn’t beat my best time. I was 2:03 off my PR set earlier this year in Napa. I consider that amazing. The next day I checked my official time and my splits. I even had negative splits, just as I was hoping. It’s taken me years but I’m finally getting the hang up pacing myself.

Because I was in so much pain after the race, it was really hard to see the sunshine through the clouds. When people asked how my race went, I said okay. It was way better than okay! I’m incredibly proud of myself and I have even more fire to do better on the next one. And who knows, maybe there will be 26.2 miles in my future.

Stay tuned and I’ll share how we spent the rest of our time in Vegas. Hint – it involved a lot of stretching.

Why I Need to Stop Running

Today was the last long run for my upcoming half marathon – the Las Vegas Rock ‘n Roll. This will be the third time I’ve raced the strip at night, and my sixth half marathon with Team Challenge. When I started with Team Challenge years ago, I thought that was going to be the answer to losing all kinds of weight and feeling amazing. Boy, was I wrong.

Why I need to stop running to lose weight

Turns out even though I can run 13.1 miles, sometimes up to 30 miles a week during the last few weeks of training, losing weight is not as simple as lacing up my sneakers. A few months ago I added in Crossfit because I really liked the idea of feeling like a beefcake. Again, I love the feeling I get when I’m finished with the WOD (workout of the day) and the gym I joined is full of amazing, inspiring, gracious people that make that vomiting feeling totally worth it. Again, I thought that adding in the strength training and cross training would be the boost I needed to kickstart the weight loss. Boy, was I wrong…AGAIN.

Why running isn’t going to help me lose weight

I DO realize that food is my weakness. And the reason that I can run 30 miles in one week and do a WOD without losing a pound. I REALLY love chocolate. And bread. And bacon.

You would think having Crohn’s Disease would put me on a path for better nutrition. Many people think Crohn’s patients are all super skinny because of the intestines inability to absorb nutrients. Turns out Crohn’s Disease is a little bit of a fickle butthole and patients are usually only super skinny when they are incredibly sick. I can tolerate a bag of Doritos and a hershey’s bar way better than I can tolerate a very healthy salad. Usually the more processed a food is, the better my digestion system reacts. Stupid, I know.

Knowing I love food so much, it only makes sense that I would watch what I eat and avoid the bag of cookies in the company kitchen. It wasn’t until I came across this Mile Posts blog that I finally got it. A lightbulb finally went off in my head. And to her, I am so thankful!

I don’t watch what I eat because I JUSTIFY IT. That bag of cookies was only 200 more calories and I know I’m going for a five mile run so it’ll all even out. It might even out if I was not partaking in those scrumptious sweets and carbs, but alas, I love chocolate and bread.

THIS IS WHY I NEED TO STOP RUNNING TO LOSE WEIGHT.

I need to kick the mindset that running and crossfit are going to help me lose weight. Sure, it will definitely help my efforts, but only if I take care of the nutrition part too.

Here are my goals:

1. Keep a food diary religiously. This is the only way I am going to pay attention to the tiny morsels of goodness I put in my mouth. I have a Fitbit so I’ll use that log function to monitor my calorie intake, at least as phase one. I’m not knowledge enough yet to understand what percentage of fat I should have in my diet but if you have any suggestions for great educational pieces, please note them in the comments.

2. Run and do Crossfit because I enjoy them. Not because they are a means to an end. Not because I feel like I have to do them to lose weight. Because I love the feeling I have after losing myself in a run. Because I love the intense soreness from accomplishment I have after a WOD.

Probiotics and Crohn’s Disease

Research is underway to determine how the bacteria profiles of our digestive tracts is related to Crohn’s and colitis patients. This bacteria makeup of the gut shows patients have a few things going against them:

  • There is less diversity in the gut microbes
  • The genetic makeup of the bacteria lean more toward bacteria that causes inflammation, rather than having more anti-inflammatory properties.

This could ultimately be the root cause of IBD. Think of that…we may have discovered the actual cause of Crohn’s Disease. This means we can start researching drugs that impact the cause instead of masking the symptoms.

Are Probiotics Right for Crohn’s and Colitis Patients?

Probiotics and IBD

In light of this new information, I’m left wondering, with some of my fellow crohnies, if taking a probiotic will help us better manage our disease. After hearing more patients starting probiotics, I thought it couldn’t really hurt. I’m sure I could stand to have a few more good bacteria floating around in there. After doing some research and asking for recommendations, I landed on Align.

Man, I hate it!

I started taking it a couple of weeks ago and noticed that going to the bathroom had become more difficult. I felt like I was backed up. So I stopped taking the pills and waited a little while before starting again. Just like that, I feel like I’m pooping rocks. And not easy to poop rocks, either. So, test number two. I stopped the probiotic and just like that, I’m back to what feels like normal poop (for a Crohn’s patient, that is). Just a couple of days after stopping, I notice a huge difference. No straining. No complaining.

I thinking these probiotics aren’t really for me.

So, I’m curious. Are you taking probiotics or have you tried? What brand and what were the results? I would love to hear more from patients, especially.

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