Conversations with my father…

me: It’s not like I need 4-doors. I don’t have kids to get out of the backseat.

dad: What if in three years you find the man of your dreams and he has a kid. Then what? You’ll want 4 doors.

me: If I find the man of my dreams, I’ll deal with the 2-doors.

Courtney’s struggle with Ulcerative Colitis

You know I’m training for a half marathon. You know I’m raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. But do you know anything about Crohn’s or Colitis?

Meet my new friend, Courtney (second from the right above).  She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2006. She is one of my Team Challenge teammates. I asked her to share her story with all of you.

Please take the time to read about Courtney’s journey with colitis. If you are so inclined, please consider donating to the CCFA. You can make a difference, no matter what the size of your donation is.

I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in August 2006. I didn’t think too much of it at the time. What most concerned me was that my doctor said many people have to learn to make dietary changes, and he mentioned cheese as something some patients had to limit. I was appalled – “You mean even like cheese on tacos?!?” was my reply. I clearly had no clue what I was in for.

I maintained on my medications relatively symptom free until January 2008. Right at the start of spring semester, I went through a very serious flare up that eventually landed me in the hospital. I opted to go to a hospital in Kenosha near my family and the GI doctor I had been seeing. I was in the hospital for 10 days, and left in even worse condition having contracted a C Difficile infection on top of the UC flare. I saw my doctor a few times on an outpatient basis and he insisted I was getting better but it would be a “long road.” He was wrong.

At this point, I was barely able to walk (partially due to abdominal pain and partially due to my enormously swollen feet and ankles from the prednisone). I was taking around 25 different pills a day,
and I had dropped from a healthy 130 to 103 pounds. I had been unable to attend school or work for over a month. My father was getting frustrated and urged me to get a second opinion. He brought me
to Froedtert.

I will never forget the look on the GI doctor’s face when he saw me. He went completely white. I didn’t
see him again because when I came back from my X-Ray I was greeted by the surgical team. It was the
scariest moment of my life. Everyone who has UC knows that surgery is a possibility (and everyone who
has UC also knows this means ostomy, perhaps the scariest word in the English vocabulary to a 23 year
old female). I began to cry.

Little did I know, this doctor who was making me so angry was really just trying to save my life. He told
me I had toxic megacolon, and I needed emergency surgery to remove my colon. However, they needed
to get me hydrated and give me a blood transfusion before they could do the surgery, otherwise they
weren’t sure if I would make it. They scheduled me for the 8am slot the next day. Nobody wanted to
tell me at that point, but I was basically knocking on death’s door – had I waited much longer my colon
would have eventually burst and fatality was a real danger. I found out afterwards that I may have been
in the worst condition anyone there had ever seen.

Surgery for me gave me a new life. Yes, it was a long tough road, but I felt immediately better. Adjusting to life with an ostomy was hard at first (mentally and physically). Because I had been in particularly horrible condition, the construction of my jpouch had to be broken up into three surgeries over a 9 month period. I also tended to be a patient plagued with unexpected complications. Even today, I have to be on maintenance medications to treat recurrent pouchitis which my doctors think may be a by-product of the C Diff infections.

However, the ordeal has made me stronger. I am proud to say that even though the most difficult part of my illness occurred while I was in school I was able to stay on track with my program and graduate with my Master’s degree in Educational Psychology in May 2009. Despite small adjustments you have to make for living with a jpouch and pesky pouchitis flares (which, honestly, you may as well just have ulcerative colitis), I feel like myself again. I still have challenging days here and there, and I never know what the future will bring but, given all I’ve already been through, I do feel like I can handle just about anything. For me, this ½ marathon is extremely personal, and will make me feel like I have finally conquered the disease that kept me down for so long.

What is a j-pouch you ask?

A j-pouch is a surgical procedure that eliminates the need for an ostomy (external pouch) for patients
who’ve had their colon removed due to ulcerative colitis. When the colon is removed, the rectum is also
taken out because it is typically diseased as well. The surgeon then constructs a new “rectum” out of
the patient’s small intestine.

The surgery can be performed in two or three steps, depending on the health of the patient, and a
temporary ileostomy is necessary until the new plumbing is healed enough to operate. After the
operation, “j-pouchers” are able to pass stool through the *ehem*” usual route,” but because they lack
a colon, they have to use the restroom much more frequently than other people. In addition, there are
new dietary restrictions – generally, people with a j-pouch would want to avoid veggies and other high
fiber food as they take longer to digest, and well…. Let’s face it, we just don’t have as long as the rest of
you ;).

If Courtney can train to run a half marathon after all she’s been through, I can run a half marathon, too. Hell, we can ALL help out by giving generously.

Please help me raise $1283 in the next 9 days. Visit http://tinyurl.com/vegas10 to make your tax-deductible donation today. Can you spare $10?

Help me leave the craps in Vegas (and win a prize!)

I’m begging now…

I need your help. As you know, I am training for a half marathon (48 days!!!!) to raise money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

I’m asking for your help, both financially and in spreading the word. I know my e-mails/blogs/tweets/facebook/dailymile messages are out of control, but I’m totally freaking out. I have to raise $2520 and the clock is ticking down.

Currently, we have raised $1,073.39. I have 13 days to raise $1446.61 in order to meet my goal of raising $2520 by the end of October. That means I need to raise an average of $111.28 EACH DAY for the next 13 days.

And remember, if I hit my goal by the end of October, I’m getting blue and orange streaks put in my hair. My stylist already bought the dye, so don’t make me look like a fool.

What’s in it for me?

From now until Oct. 31 at 11:59 p.m., I will do one crunch for EVERY DOLLAR DONATED. Yep, you heard me right. Donate $1 and I’ll do one crunch. Donate $5, and I’ll do 5. Donate $13.1, and I’ll do 13ish. Donate $25 and I’ll do 25. You get the idea (and the answer is YES. If you donate $1446.61 I will do 1446ish crunches. My sister will verify. Hell, if you donate $1446.61, I’ll live stream it).

For every $25 you donate, you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift certificate to the store/restaurant of your choice.

What’s the big deal with Crohn’s and Colitis?

They’re quite literally shitty diseases.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases. Crohn’s disease is a chronic (ongoing) disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although it can involve any area of the GI tract, it most commonly affects the small intestine and/or colon. Ulcerative colitis on the other hand, affects only the colon. The inflammation involves the entire rectum and extends up the colon in a continuous manner. There are no areas of normal intestine between the areas of diseased intestine. In contrast, such so-called “skip” areas may occur in Crohn’s disease. Ulcerative colitis affects only the innermost lining of the colon, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect the entire thickness of the bowel wall.

I have three family members with either one or both of these diseases. When I was 20 years old, I had a colonoscopy because my doctors thought I, too, had Ulcerative Colitis. There is a strong possibility I could be diagnosed with the disease in the next 15 years (most people are diagnosed in their 30s). I already have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and am scared of the possibility of developing this crappy disease. I hope that if I am every diagnosed, there is already acure in place because I’ve seen first-hand how difficult it is to live with. And let’s be honest, I don’t want to have a raw ass for the rest of my life because of constant diarrhea.

Ok, I’m in. What should I do?

So, please donate today (http://tinyurl.com/vegas10) and/or tell your friends to donate. If 145 people each donate $10, I’ll hit my goal! C’mon interwebs, I know you know 145 people with $10 to spare.

3 dogs, 3 miles, 1 wedding, 5 burrs, 1 NEHOD, a little dog conference and countless bathroom breaks

Try taking three little dogs for a walk. I dare you.

I’m watching Gizmo and Bandit this weekend because my parents are in Minnesota visiting family. I knew I would have to get a 3-4 miler in with them and Beep sometime this weekend, so we went Saturday afternoon. What a beautiful day.

We started on Wahl near Lake Park and continued alone Lake Drive through Lake Park and then down the hill at Lincoln Memorial Drive. We did a few running intervals (never more than about .2 miles because the dogs would get tangled in their leashes). We had countless potty/poop breaks but overall it was good. Well, until we found the burrs. ugh. that was a mess.

We continued down Lincoln Memorial Drive to Bradford Beach and took the trail/bridge across LMD and up to Wahl or whatever that street is near the water tower. Along this path, which was paved but covered in leaves, so it was a bit slippery. It is also a pretty steep trek up the hill. Half way up, we ran into a couple walking a pug and a mini dauschund and it was a mess/tangle of little dogs on leashes. We all couldn’t stop laughing and the guy said, “It’s a little dog conference!”

We got to the top and continued north toward Lake Park. When we hit the car, we were at about 2.5 mi and since I really wanted to hit at least 3, we continued on the path toward the lighthouse… and encountered a HUGE wedding party taking pictures. So if you know someone who got married and took pictures at the lighthouse, please give them my best and my apologies for having 3 dogs walk through the scene. We continued to the parking lot by the golfing/lawn bowling and headed back to Lake Drive and south to the car.

By the end, Gizmo and Bandit were spent, but Beep looked like she could have gone another mile or two. That dog never ceases to amaze me. She’s 7.8 lbs! My goodness.

I thought I would have 3 tired-ass dogs when I got home but now there’s wrestling and taunting going on.

As for me, I felt great most of the run/walk. I never stopped my Garmin, so this pace isn’t really accurate when you take into account the bathroom stops, burrs and encounters with other dogs. My foot started to ache a bit around 2.8ish so I’m doing a lot of stretching and icing tonight… I have 6 miles on the schedule for tomorrow. I’ll be taking it slow tomorrow. The plan is just to cover the miles, not to worry about pace. I hope my foot holds up! Luckily, my cardio fitness has drastically improved this year and its so much easier for my body to get oxygen on these run/walks. I am much less reliant on my inhaler, which is AWESOME. In fact, today I didn’t take it before I went out and didn’t need it at all during the walk. 😉

Join us tomorrow for Spirit of the Marathon

Team Challenge of Wisconsin presents a special screening of Spirit of the Marathon, “The first film to capture the story, drama and ultimate essence of the legendary 26.2 mile running event. As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike.”

What: Spirit of the Marathon movie fundraiser
When: Saturday, October 16th at noon
Where: Times Cinema, 5906 W. Vliet Street in Milwaukee [Google] [mapquest]
Tickets: $20 in advance or $25 at the door (includes movie, soda and popcorn, save $3 if you choose no snacks option)

If you can’t join us but want to support the cause, choose the “I’ll be there in Spirit” ticket option.

Visit http://tinyurl.com/spiritmarathon to purchase tickets now!

RAFFLE PRIZES

Raffle tickets will be available for $1 each. Prizes include:

I never thought I’d be so excited to buy spandex

I just bought these running tights last night… in size LARGE!!! Not X-LARGE… but LARGE!!! I bought spandex and was happy about it.

I remember at the Blarney run thinking, “My goodness, there is no way in hell I will ever wear spandex running tights like Sarah…” The plan was to someday wear running tights like her. I thought someday was years away.

Seven months later, I ecstatically purchased them.

My, how things change.

My favorite running and workout gear

I am asked from time to time about the gear I frequently use/wear when running, walking, biking, etc. So I decided to pull it all together in a handy dandy list for you. I have not been compensated by any of the companies listed below. I paid for each of these items and am sharing my favorites with you, without expectation of compensation.

Techie

Garmin 305 Forerunner ($144.99 on Amazon).

One of my best investments. Easy to use. Great for biking, running, walking, etc. Keeps track of mileage, time, calories, heartrate and other factors I didn’t think I wanted to know about. There’s also a great Garmin plugin for Dailymile, so it makes uploading my workouts super easy. There’s so much more to this gear than I’ve even discovered, too! PS. I love setting up interval workouts on this thing. AMAZING.

iPod shuffle (w/lego case) ($69.99 for iPod, $13.99 for set of 4 cases)

I’ve tried using my Droid or older (larger) iPod while working out and it just gets bulky, especially in an arm band. But the itty bitty iPod shuffle is a perfect size. I clip it on my sports bra and don’t even realize its there. Fabulous.

Storage

Spibelt ($19.95 and free shipping with code ship09)

This little “small personal item” belt holds my cell phone, key, cash, ID, chews and is not bulky at all. It’s stretchy and comes in fun colors… AND there’s even SPIBelts with hooks for your race bib! It fits nicely in the small of my back and doesn’t bounce around. Usually, I forget it’s even there!

Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld 22-Ounce Bottle Carrier with Pocket ($16.99)

Not only does this waterbottle look cool, it’s also super handy. There is a huge pocket, perfect for my inhaler, chapstick and some chews… and I never feel like it is weighing me down when I’m being active. It fits comfortably in my hand. I haven’t tried a hydration belt yet because I don’t think I would like the bouncing water at my hips (they are big enough already, thank you very much).  The bottle is sturdy and very durable. I’ve taken a few falls with it and it only has a few scratches to show for it.

Safety

Nathan reflective SLAP bands ($9.99 for two at Sports Authority)

I finally got some reflective gear last night. First is this AWESOME SLAP BRACELET. Children of the 80’s, rejoice with me – OMG SLAP BRACELET!

Nathan Cyclist Ankle Bands ($6.99 for two at Sports Authority)

These are technically for cyclists, but I really wanted to have reflective gear on my ankles and wrists… so the cyclist velcro bands are PERFECT. Did a test run last night and both the ankle bands and the slap bracelet worked great!

BodyGlide ($5.99)

BodyGlide is a godsend. It keeps your business from chaffing and is easily applied with a deodorant-like applicator. Worth every penny. I use it even when I am not working out. As a woman, I’ve found it to be invaluable when wearing skirts/dresses! No more inner thigh chaffing!

Why do we do this to ourselves?

image

Due to some poor decision making on my part, I was feeling much less than 100% today.

Blame it on a wedding. Blame it on the free alcohol.  Blame it on the high heels. Blame it on the dancing. Blame it on the cowbell. Blame it on the singing and dancing on stage with The Love Monkeys.

Regardless of what to blame, I was kind of miserable today.

Then I tried to work out. I had to go so slowly because my toes/balls of my feet were so sore from last night. Remarkably my plantar fascia on my left foot held up beautifully. But the rest of my foot is in a lot of pain. Sooooo I decided I would try an ice soak. I started crying it hurt so bad.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we make bad decisions? Why do we push ourselves so far?