Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Getting Old

I turned 37 this past weekend, but other than that things are about the same with me. Some decent days with my health, and some not so decent days. Slowly I think I'm coming to a much better emotional place with all of this. I obviously would still love to feel 100% healthy and strong, and ideally I would love to feel this sooner rather than later, but I have also come to a place of better acceptance about the whole thing. I may never again in my life feel as healthy and strong as I did 2 or 3 years ago (or even just a year ago), but I know that I'm gradually feeling better, and I find myself everyday feeling very fortunate to have regained the health that I have. In August, September, October, and most of November I would have given anything to have just one day in which I felt as good as I do today. Of course, now today I want more. I want to feel this much healthier again. I've very aware though that I might need to wait another 4 or 5 months for this to occur. If there's been one consistent thing in all of this it's that my condition never seems to improve significantly from day to day, but rather from week to week, or month to month. At some point I expect to feel healthy enough that I look at this slow change as a good thing. When we are feeling the way we want to feel we don't want there to be any significant change.

Total change of subject: Winter has finally come here in Boulder. We have had about 3 feet of snow in the past week, and from what I hear there may be another storm on the way next week. I've been able to tell that I'm finally (after nearly 3 years living here during the school year) feeling a little more attached to the land and the culture in this part of the world. Previously I've cared about the land in this area because I care about many of the people that live here, but I haven't had a personal emotional attachment to the land. Colorado has been in the midst of pretty severe drought for quite some time now, and it may sound harsh, but I haven't really cared one way or the other whether the drought continues or the drought ends. I still see that's it's one of those things that is beyond our control and in the larger picture doesn't really mean a whole lot, but I do recognize that these phases of dry climate are hard on life in this area. Whether it's vegetation, wildlife, or humans, pretty much every living thing will have a slightly better next several months because of the snow that's falling now. I think I now have enough attachment to this place that for the first time I take some small amount of solace in this reality.

On one more note, entry is still open for this summer's Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp. The July session is essentially filled up, but there are still a few spaces left in the June 11-18th session. I know some people have been reluctant to sign up because of my health, but I do plan to definitely go forward with the camps as planned. At this point I'm fairly optimistic that I'll be able to lead most or all of the runs during the camps, as I have now begun to get out for short runs 4 or 5 days a week (I even ran a 5k race this past weekend, albeit I'm not sure I broke 40 minutes). If I improve as much in the next two months as I have in the past two then I should be able to lead all the runs with relative ease. Not to worry though, even if my health does hold me back I have some great local help lined up to lead any runs that I'm not able to take part in. Another fun way to look at it: this might be your only chance to come run with me in Alaska with the dynamic in which I'm the one that you're waiting up for :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April Showers

Wow, how did it get to be April? I feel like a few weeks ago it was July. I guess that's just as well as I've been "sick" for the past 8 months. At least the time has generally seemed to go by quickly. I have continued to make overall improvement in my health, and now when I have "good days" I feel almost normal. Unfortunately I still have some "bad days" mixed in when I feel pretty shitty. The good thing is that now when  I don't feel good it's generally isolated to general fatigue, and not so many of the more acute, debilitating symptoms that I had most of the first 4 or 5 months. I even just recently put together a stretch of 3 weeks in which I was feeling the best that I've felt since this all started last summer. Unfortunately it hasn't lasted as I feel not so great again this week, but "not so great" now would have been a good week a few months ago. It's been hard sometimes to keep the larger picture perspective and remember how much better I am doing than I was at one point, but when I stop and consider specific markers and symptoms, it's really easy for me to definitely say that I am feeling way better than I was last fall.

I still find it necessary to be very conservative with my physical activity (something that I'm not always able to pull off), but it's been so nice these past couple months to be able to more or less do a little bit of activity everyday. The hard part has been not overdoing it when I do feel good. I think I did this last week. We were out in Utah for spring break, the weather was perfect, I was feeling the best I've felt in 8 months, and I definitely did more physical activity than I have in a long time (mostly in the form of a couple decent length MTB rides). The hard part though has been the reality that my symptoms seem to ebb and flow somewhat independent of anything that I do. Sometimes it seems like I take it really easy for several days and I still feel horrible and other times I feel like I'm on the edge of doing too much, but I continue to feel great for several days. I think what is going on is that there is a lag time of several days between what I do physically and how I feel. In this sense I don't feel good from resting soon enough to totally trust that I need the rest, and I don't feel tired out from physical activity soon enough to back off and let my body catch up with my desire to be outside having fun. Overall though, I'll take this balancing act any day over the big questions of last fall which tended to be more something like: "what is that stabbing pain in my neck?" or "why does my right hand go numb every time I sit down in a chair?" or "why did I piss 35 times yesterday and 3 times today, even though I drank the same amount of water each day?"  These are all somewhat exaggerated examples, but only somewhat.

The point is, I'm getting better, but I still have a ways to go. The great thing is that with the improved health and the beginning of spring like weather my mood has been much better. I always get a little depressed when I don't feel so good, but at least now the depression isn't mixed with so much fear and confusion. I still have no idea if I'll ever be able to run the way that I used to (or if I even want to), but I do know that I am getting better and better with the passing months, and with time my life will be able to return more or less to "normal", in any ways that it hasn't already. It's so nice to finally be able to wake up each day knowing that I will have the health to pretty much do anything that I want to, with the exception of running for several hours. For that I will have to wait several more weeks, months, or longer.