Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday afternoon musings - hopped up on chai and sunshine

What have I been doing these past five months? Clearly, I haven't been writing. I was working and hiking and running and backpacking and wedding-ing (my brothers'), and generally doing lots of things that were not writing. I have also been trying to heal. As I alluded to in my last post, my body was in sorry shape, earlier this year. I went to Italy in January, and on my return, everything seemed to spiral out of control for me, health-wise. I started losing weight because I had chronic diarrhea and extreme fatigue. I was falling asleep at my desk at work and Lord knows I couldn't run. By May, I had met with a naturopath and was trying to not eat grains and not eat sugar and slowly get back into exercise and gradually get over my fatigue.

The thing is, my health seems to operate as one of those Whack-a-Mole games. You can only whack one mole at a time, and as soon as you do, there's another mole waiting to be whacked, and another and another and you inevitably miss one or two and then the game is over and you may or may not have hit enough moles to get a few tickets spat out at you that can be redeemed for something Made in China. But I digress. My gut is healing (*Knock Wood!!). It no longer starts bubbling after every single thing I eat. I have gained five or six pounds, so I'm about back to a normal weight. But the moles: my hemoglobin count is falling.

Yesterday, I went for a pretty stout hike, and the mountain nearly broke me. My generation has embraced the notion of collecting experiences versus things, and we share everything cool with everybody who follows us on social media. Don't get me wrong - I do it too. But yesterday, it occurred to me that if I posted the selfie I took after finally making it to the saddle between the mountains, as the sun was setting and the mountains and the plains were both glowing, if I shared that moment with my social media world, it would be wrong. It would be a pretty picture of me almost on top of a mountain seemingly celebrating four miles and 2,500 feet of vert! Totally badass! And yet, that was one of the most brutal hikes I've ever forced myself through. I did it, but only because I would have felt even worse if I had turned back. But for four miles and 2,500 feet, I couldn't breathe; I felt like I could barely move.

I've come a long way since the end of May, but all the sneaky moles that pop up keep reminding me that I am sailing uncharted waters. None of how I feel is normal, and I haven't yet found any sort of precedent for these sicknesses. But it is all I can do to just keep pushing onwards and upwards. Even if I have to take a break to let my heart rate chill out every few minutes; even if I have to remind myself to drink water and stay fueled. I am not ready to turn around or just quit because if I have learned one thing from my years here, the view from up high is Always worth it.

Here's to another five months of living!!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A long time coming

I have halfheartedly sat down to write an update on here a number of times over the past few months. Something always comes up to keep me from finishing more than a paragraph. I'm braindead after work; The Voice is back on; the sheer bulk of thoughts and experiences I want to share is overwhelming. How on earth will I condense everything into one post when there's so much I need to get out onto the Internet? But for the sake of my sanity and hopefully to help someone else out there, I am committing to starting to write again. I realize that not every post needs to reveal some epic, thought-provoking "Come to Jesus" moment, though I am certainly working through plenty of those. In writing for a public forum though, I think the most important part is to stay focused and stay true to your purpose. For a long time, I had an easily defined purpose - to share my cancer journey. My cancer journey is no longer the focal point of my life (thank goodness), but my experiences as a survivor, I think, constitute a decent reason to keep writing publicly.

Here's my plan, and here's why: I'm going to keep writing, and I am going to keep writing about my survival. I hereby dedicate my blog to writing about running and hiking and living as much of my life outdoors as I can, despite the fact that my body is close to the edge of wrecked. We have all survived something, and the most thrilling part about it is that we continue to survive and get to enjoy this phenomenal world in which we live!

Cancer destroyed my body's secondary immune system. My blood can no longer produce a specific type of b-cells, immunoglobulins. Various doctors and specialists ranging from immunologists to gastroenterologists to the naturopath I'm currently seeing have all tested my blood extensively to determine the extent of my deficiency. They all agree: I don't make any immuoglobulins. Diagnosis? Hypogammaglobulinemia. Gezundheit. This, they agree on, once each has run the exact same test and seen the exact same results. After which point, their agreement ends. It's pretty amazing and strangely universal in Western medicine - medical tunnel vision. "I specialize in this one thing and so will treat the symptoms you are experiencing for this one thing." So, the immunologist monitors the immunoglobulin replacement therapy I receive at home, monthly. And the GI guy monitors the steroids he prescribed for "nonspecific inflammation" of the intestinal system. And my new naturopath is at least looking at my entire system and trying to figure out why my liver enzymes are elevated while my blood glucose levels are totally normal and my cortisol levels are off the charts and in the meantime, I just desperately want to stop pooping everything out of me that I put into me. More than that, I want to run a full trail marathon in Moab in November, and I'm genuinely not sure my body can pull it off. 

With all of that on my mind, I'm going to write for other people to read about it! In case you've ever wondered what it's like to dive into the GAPS diet and try to consume little to few carbohydrates while training for a summer's worth of backpacking with a potential trail marathon cherry on top, this is the spot for you! There's no way I'll be able to write daily, but I commit to a bit more regularity. How's that for just vague enough?

This will be exciting. Hopefully, it will be cathartic. Even more hopefully, at the end of this grand experiment, my gut will have healed more and my True Health will be back and here to stay. Thanks in advance for your support and for your patronage!!