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- March 10, 2019 by AliAli on the Run Show Episode 126: Ali & the Experts Week with Shannon McLay, Founder of The Financial Gym
The 26.2 Million Dollar Question
Am I running the New York City Marathon on November 6?
I’m getting that question an awful lot lately! And in short, I don’t know. I hope so. I really want the answer to be yes, and in my mind, yes, I am still running the marathon. That’s always been the plan, and I haven’t abandoned it, in spite of how the last few weeks have gone.
Before I go on, I’m going to be totally honest here: I don’t care what people think of my decision. I may not end up running the race, but if I do, that’s my choice. I know a lot of people won’t agree with it. People will tell me I should give myself a break, that I’m not properly trained, that I’m stupid. And that’s fine.
But if that’s where your head is at, I implore you to consider my position.
I live for the days I get to run — the days when I feel healthy, and when I feel like “normal” people get to feel every single day. If November 6 is one of those days, then hell yes, I will be lining up at the start of my favorite race. If it’s not one of those days, then I won’t.
I’m not a dumb girl. I’m really smart, actually, in lots of different ways! So if I do run the marathon, yes, I have considered loads of factors. I’ve considered the fact that beating my body into the ground for a few hours won’t be easy. I’ve considered the possibility that I may run the race and feel fine, only to regress afterward. I’m aware that I’m undertrained. I should’ve done more 20-mile runs and regular weekly sessions over the last month. Trust me, I wish that were the case, for so many reasons. I’ve considered that even if I do make it to the start line, I may have to then spend the race hopping from one porta-potty to the next — or that I may not even finish. Being able to run the marathon could signal a successful turning point in where my health is headed, or it could lead to a setback. I know. I guarantee anything you might be thinking, I’ve already thought it — a lot.
But I also know what being out on that course could do for me mentally — and I really need that right now. Will I PR? No. Will I even try to do that? LOL no. Will I take walk and bathroom breaks as needed? You bet. Getting to the start line alone would feel like a victory to me; getting to enjoy the race and make my way to the finish would be the icing on the cake, the chocolate chip in the pancake, and the extra cheese on the pizza.
So before you play doctor or consider that you know my body better than I do, keep in mind that unless you have been in my exact position, you may not understand where I’m coming from. You may not get why I so badly want to be able to run, and you may not get why I’m not content to just sit around and wait for my body to get better. I don’t expect that to make sense or seem rational to most people.
I don’t intend for this to come across as defensive, but when you talk about your health, you get a lot of opinions — some of them justified, some of them actually pretty helpful, and some of them wildly condescending. That’s just what happens, and that’s OK. As always, I appreciate all the love and support I get here and beyond. With that, here’s where I’m at right now…
I went to the doctor last week — yay!
The appointment went well. I was so happy to see my favorite doctor — I heard his voice in the hallway and my eyes welled up with tears — and he gave me a big hug when he walked in the room. (There’s a long and complicated backstory about why it took so long to get an appointment with him. It involves health insurance mayhem and all kinds of BS beyond my control. Fun!)
He asked what’s going on, so I explained how I’ve been feeling and then said, “So I have two things to address…”
“First,” I said, “I’m supposed to run the marathon November 6…”
“And you will,” he said, so matter-of-factly. Like, Yeah, duh, you’ll run it, we’ll get you there. We’ve done it before. NBD. You’re my favorite patient. (May have ad-libbed some of that. I can’t recall.)
So our plan is twofold — not unlike our plan a few years ago when I was in a somewhat similar situation.
Step one was to start on some stuff that should help me get comfortable enough to survive the race in nine days. Step two is the long-term plan that’ll keep me healthy for life. Or at least for good chunks of life.
The plan for the long-term is pretty simple (hopefully). My doctor has wanted me on Stelara for years, but it was never FDA approved specifically for Crohn’s disease, which meant that our years of trying to get special approval for it failed. (Seriously, my doctor wrote letters to the insurance company saying I needed this drug, and they repeatedly denied it. An insurance company said no to a doctor, therefore withholding a drug that could’ve vastly improved my quality of life. Unbelievable.) But it was approved for Crohn’s last month (on our wedding anniversary, awww), so it’s finally an option for me!
I had bloodwork done at my appointment and got to go through the lovely process of collecting stool samples. Once they have all those results, they can submit them to the Stelara people or however that works, and then I should be able to start on a regular Stelara routine. (Stelara is very similar to the study drug I was on, so my doctor thinks it’ll be my best bet. I agree.) That will take a little while, though. Of course it will.
In the shorter term?
My doctor prescribed me two variations of Uceris, which is a steroid that specifically targets the colon (where much of my Crohn’s lives in a very angry, inflamed state). It’s administered orally and, uh, rectally. (Yeah, I know. I haven’t felt cute in a very long time.)
Of course it couldn’t be so simple — my new insurance company mistyped my birthdate when they enrolled me, so the pharmacy couldn’t process the prescription and then they said I needed “prior authorization,” and just all this junk that made something easy more difficult. But it all worked out eventually. I have my medicine now!
Is it working? It’s hard to tell. Last week was a great week. I was able to run, my happenings in the bathroom were improving, and all signs pointed to a comeback. All those improvements actually came before I started the medicine. (Magic!)
This week, though? Well, it’s like I took five steps forward and eight steps back. After Sunday’s run, I was absolutely certain I’d be able to get to the start line of the marathon. Today? Who knows. That’s life with Crohn’s. Should I not have run? Is the medicine not working? Are all these supplements and probiotics a waste of time (and money)? I wish I had more answers, but I’m just taking it all one day at a time, and I’m giving my body extra love and rest this week.
I generally feel crappy in the morning, but I feel better as the day goes on. That bodes well for a 10-something start time, should I make it to Staten Island!
So that’s where I’m at with my health. We have a plan, now we just need things to fall into place so it can all take effect. I will never not be frustrated with all the bullshit that goes into actually getting treated. Nothing ever feels easy when I’m sick, but hugging my doctor sure did perk me up and fill me with hope that it’ll all be OK soon.
Yes, I care about the marathon. The New York City Marathon is really special to me. If it were any other race, I wouldn’t even consider running. But this is the best race in the world, and I want to be a part of it.
I’m a big believer in the “life is short” way of living. That’s why I do a lot of the stuff I choose to do. I don’t want to wait to pursue things I’m passionate about. (Read this.)
And right now, I want to run the New York City Marathon on November 6. So if I wake up two Sundays from today and I’m up for it, I’ll be on the bus to Staten Island with a few thousand of my friends. If I don’t get to run it, well, I’ve heard marathons happen every year, every month, every weekend. Sitting it out will be hard and sad, but I’ve gotten through this before, right?
One day at a time.