Thursday, March 24, 2011

Health issues

Not just a class some of us took in high school, this is also a topic very near and dear to my heart.  For the past year and a half, I have been suffering from some chronic and pretty weird lower intestinal issues.  I have seen Eight different doctors to try and figure this thing out, to no avail.  I went gluten-free for about three weeks, which only made my running self hungry and cranky.  Dropped sugar-free gum from my diet; periodically went caffeine-free; could never quite cut out dairy.  At this point, I am fairly certain the problem isn't dietary.

Today I met with a new doctor, a gastroenterologist at the University of Chicago Hospitals.  Her initial thoughts are that my intestinal problems are a manifestation of a severely low number of a certain type of infection-fighting cell in my bloodstream.  My intestinal flora are all awry!  A few years ago I was administered a drug (another story for another time) that targets a certain type of B-cell and destroys it.  While tremendously necessary and exciting for me at the time, this doctor thinks that one of the long-term side effects of this drug is a lowered immune response.  Fewer B-cells floating around in me means fewer immunoglobulins to battle infections and maintain the happy little gut bacteria who keep me regular...  (I'm over bodily functions, so you know.)  So she's doing more tests, checking my blood, trying to figure out what exactly we are looking at and where to go from here.

The point of this is that she mentioned there is a strong possibility I am deficient in some very necessary vitamins and minerals.  If my intestines aren't working properly, then it is likely I haven't been absorbing nutrients well, which is not great news.  I probably should, but I do not take a multivitamin, although I recently started taking a probiotic.  I am curious though: if my blood work shows a significant deficiency in some vital nutrient and I start taking a supplement, will I feel better overall?  Will my mood improve or my general feelings of exhaustion diminish?  Will caffeine no longer be the crutch on which I lean heavily to get me through my mornings?  Will my running be stronger and faster and less injured because, finally, my bones are strong and my blood is healthy?

I don't know.  Perhaps I'll find out.  At the very least, I hope my gut one day stops grumbling at me and returns to its delicate balance of proper digestion.  Come on, good bacteria!

Oh yeah, and my race is in 60 hours.  Woah...

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