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I’m hurting today in just about every way possible.
This weekend was not the “I feel so much better and I’m back up and running!” weekend I’d had in mind on Friday.
Instead, I spent Saturday and Sunday taking a pretty major ass-kicking…over and over and over. For some reason I’m smiling today. I guess it was good for me.
Taking you back to Friday…
By Friday, I had been on Prednisone (my usually-trusty steroids) for four days without any positive, light-at-the-end-of-this-crap-tunnel results. Everything was the same. My stomach pain hadn’t improved, my urgent bathroom visits weren’t any less frequent, and the only effects I felt from the ‘roids were the negative (sleepless nights) and delusional (I’m not really sick, I’m Superwoman in disguise) ones.
I chatted with my doctor Friday morning and let him know the steroids weren’t kicking in as quickly as they normally do.
So we upped the dosage. I’m now up to 60 mg/day (up from 40 mg/day) without an immediate taper plan until things progress.
Dr. Shah gave me the results from Tuesday’s bloodwork, none of which were surprising: my red blood cell counts are “very low” (11.7 is deemed “very low,” and I’m at a 10.7, and that means very little to me), I’m anemic and I have low iron. Also I’m beautiful. He didn’t specifically say that one, but it was implied by the words “elevated inflammatory markers.”
We talked briefly about exercise, and I told him I’d been taking it really easy. No heavy workouts, certainly no running, lots of rest. He said that if I think I can exercise, then I should. It’s good for me mentally, but I have to be smart about it.
Naturally this meant I spent my Friday night making a “New York City Marathon Training Playlist.” I was really, really optimistic that I’d wake up Saturday morning feeling at least slightly better and OK enough to attempt the 14-miler Coach Cane wanted from me “if I was sure I felt up to it.”
My alarm went off at 6 AM Saturday and I was ready. I put on my running clothes immediately. I wanted to run 14 miles down Summer Streets and I wanted to feel awesome.
But turns out, I didn’t feel awesome.
I wasn’t ready.
I went back to bed for 30 minutes — still in my sports bra and short shorts — thinking I just needed to hit the reset button.
Then I spent a good hour going back and forth to the bathroom, not just doing the usual Crohn’s stuff, but also feeling extremely nauseous and more dehydrated than normal. I knew not to push it. A 14-mile run was absolutely not going to happen.
I was devastated. And I refused to change out of my Brooks.
Yes, I was upset about missing the run, because it sucks to be not running when I should be, um, training. But it was more that at that point, I didn’t feel any better. The nausea was new, likely brought on by the increased steroid dose, and scrolling through the usual Saturday morning Twitter feed about long runs and “epic workouts” just rubbed in the fact that everyone else seems to be doing what I can’t.
I stewed in my sadness for a while and lounged around the apartment until Brian must have heard my whimpering and came to comfort me in the living room.
What’s the cure for when you are very ill and you can’t run like you want to but you don’t want to just sit around and feel sorry for yourself?
You blow your hard-earned savings account on a sweet new ride:
I’ve been wanting to purchase a bike for a while, and with this whole century ride coming up in two weeks, I managed to put it off for as long as possible.
So Coach Cane called “his guys” at BrickWell Cycling in Long Island (go there, they are the best, really), pre-selected a few bikes for me to check out, and off I went to The Land of Expensive Hobbies.
The salesman, Casey, was the best ever. He was friendly and helpful with a gentle hint of sarcasm. He asked me a lot of questions, which Brian answered, and I walked around looking at all the pretty shiny things in the store, like bright blue water bottle cages.
The whole bike-purchasing process was slightly overwhelming, and we were at the store for a long time. Casey was very thorough and he hooked me up with just about everything I needed to get started, including fancy clip-in death shoes.
The best part about the bike fit experience was that Casey forced me to practice clipping in and out while on the bike trainer for a good 15 minutes. He taught me important skills, like how to pedal with one foot until you get the other one clipped in, and he kept saying “when you fall, blah blah blah” and “when you fall, this will happen.”
When I fall, Casey? Don’t you know I’m bound to be a pro at this?
He assured me, though, that a fall or 12 would be inevitable, and that if I didn’t fall right away, I’d get cocky and I’d still fall eventually.
Casey, dear, you should be a psychic, not a Bike Fitter Man.
So I bought a bike. I was excited, and spending time exploring this new hobby made me temporarily forget about the 1,200 people I know who were out doing long training runs at the time. You all suck. I hate you so much. But I have a bike now, and a new best friend, Casey.
I swiped my sad credit card, Casey put a bow on my bike…
…and it was time to head back to the city with my new accessory.
I was on Cloud 9,000 at this point. I was really excited to finally own a bike, I was distracted from my stomach woes and it was a beautiful day. Brian and I stopped for lunch on the way home and I went with what seemed like a safe option: grilled fish.
We got on the highway after eating, and it didn’t take long before I was keeling over in the front seat in pain.
I demanded that Brian stop at a Starbucks so I could run in and use the bathroom.
We got back on the road and I thought the feeling had passed.
Then, as we were halfway over the Queensboro Bridge, I thought something very terrible was going to happen in Brian’s mom’s car.
I seriously freaked out. It was terrifying and my stomach wouldn’t settle and I couldn’t get home fast enough. I completely panicked.
I did make it home, at which point I not only Crohnsed quite a bit, I also did a whole lot of vomiting.
It was the worst.
I wrote Goodbye Haikus in my head as it was all happening, convinced this was how it all was going to end for me.
It was just…rough. And disgusting.
I laid on the couch for a very long time after that, looking at the row of bikes in our apartment and really wanting to ride just one of them.
Finally, around 6 PM, I felt more alive and like I could leave the apartment.
I wanted to ride so badly. I wanted to clip in and out and try not to fall.
So Brian and I suited up and went to Central Park for a slow, gentle cruise.
It was amazing.
The new bike felt so good, I clipped in smoothly and effortlessly, and after 11.7 miles I wanted to keep going, but Brian says “riding in dark without a light is unsafe,” and so he made me go home.
I went to bed Saturday night with a smaller bank account but a hugely improved spirit.
I still thought I would wake up Sunday feeling better and ready to tackle that 14-miler.
Again, I was wrong.
Too much stomach pain.
I wasn’t throwing up anymore, but I knew running would be too tough on my body. Also, the whole joint pain symptom that comes with this disease? It’s out in full-force and is manifesting itself in my jaw. On Sunday morning (and still now), I couldn’t even open my mouth. Solid foods? Not happening. It’s very painful and I tried icing my face which was humorous for Brian.
Anyway, guess what isn’t the worst thing ever on my stomach?
I rode 75 miles yesterday.
Brian and I rode out to Nyack, which is somewhere beyond NYC, and I’d love to say it was a smooth, uneventful ride, but that’s hardly the case. Remember how I said I’m “beat up” today?
I fell twice, as everyone predicted I would.
My first fall came before I even started riding. I was standing outside my apartment building with one foot clipped in, just hanging out, waiting for Brian to get satellite on his fancy monitor. I leaned a bit to the right and in slow-motion seemed to just topple over. My bike was on top of me and Brian was laughing hysterically. Smooth, Feller.
The second fall came as I rode up a hill approaching a busy 4-way intersection in Harlem. There were cars going every direction and cyclists all around. I didn’t clip out quickly enough and BOOM, I went down again. I was a little shocked, a lot embarrassed and popped up quickly with a bloody left elbow.
Great start to the ride.
Then it actually was uneventful for a while.
I wanted to go really slowly so as not to over-exert my increasingly-wounded body, and I was more concerned with covering the mileage than setting a record-breaking pace.
Then, at mile 43, something tragic happened.
My stomach started to hurt.
We were in the middle of nowhere on Route 9W in New York. Or maybe New Jersey. I don’t really know where we were.
I slowed down big-time and then told Brian I had to stop.
And then, the worst thing happened: I told my ever-kind, very patient boyfriend to “watch my bike” and I ran into the woods.
This happened more than once.
By the end of the ride, I had completed 75 miles, I had come crashing down twice and I had gone to the bathroom in the woods while Brian waited on the side of the highway.
I also learned the very valuable lesson about where you should apply Body Glide during long rides. It hurts to sit down today, and my showers have been more painful than pleasant. And my jaw still feels broken.
Yes. That’s how I feel today.
This has gotten long enough, and I have no profound thoughts in me at the time. I bought a bike. I rode it. I fell off it. I crapped in the woods. I vomited while sitting on the toilet. I am disgusting and I haven’t run in more than a week. That sums it up nicely, I think.
To wrap this up, how about a giveaway winner?
It’s hilarious what you people are willing to divulge in order to score a free shirt. The entries coming in all weekend made me temporarily forget about my broken-down body.
And the winner is…
Congratulations, Kristen! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred shirt size (women’s small, medium or large) and we’ll get chatting about colors and shipping addresses and all that fancy stuff. I hope you love your shirt and get it nice and filthy. Also, your daughter seems fantastic and like she has good ideas. I like her.
SOOOO, DID YOU HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND? If you have an embarrassing story, I’d love to hear it. If you had an awesome long run, I don’t care.