A Cursed Race

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Good Morning! I planned on writing a nice long post yesterday to detail my race wrap up from Market to Market over the weekend. That’s been pushed to the side because of another, more pressing topic. 

When I was 23, my doctor and I were looking into some extreme lower abdominal pain I was experiencing. We eliminated a lot of different possibilities until we did an exploratory surgery and discovered I have endometriosis. Pretty severe endometriosis. What the heck is that? Well, in layman’s terms, it means that the tissue that grows in your uterus and that normally gets shed every month grows other places too. It also bleeds and sheds wherever it is, leading to lots of pain. In addition, I’m prone to cysts and adhesions within my uterus and ovaries. Basically, I have lots of terrible lady plumbing. Anyway, the only way to manage these disorders is by pain management (being tough until you need meds) and routine laparoscopic surgery to remove the excess tissue. And I’ve done that. 7 times, if I’m counting right. Around this time of year, things start getting rough and I try to push through until the new deductible year starts on my insurance so I can make the best of my health care dollars. It’s a tough decision, and it’s rough on my husband to watch me writhe in pain for the entire Fall season until I break down and schedule the operation, but that’s the “best” way to handle things for me.

Well, that’s not the way it’s going to work out this year. After 2 days of going home from work early in pretty terrible pain, I called my doctor’s office and they asked to schedule an ultrasound. I don’t know what you know about ultrasounds, but they’re totally gross. There’s a “wand” they use-and actually put a condom on. It’s laughable and terrible all at once. Anyway, early this morning they got the machine fired up, got everything in order, and started taking photos. Usually, with a diagnostic procedure such as this, they can’t tell you anything and defer to the doctor who’s going to call you back. This time, I got a little more feedback and she pointed out the adhesions on my right ovary and uterus. The tech closed the appointment with “I’d get your calendar ready, it looks like they’ll be scheduling surgery again”. So I have that to look forward to.

Honestly, at this point, I wish they’d just do a hysterectomy. I’m sitting here, feeling terrible, and knowing this relief I will get will be temporary. In another 10-12 months, I’ll be in the exact same place. I’m 35, and this is the age that birth defect risks start getting scary, that ability to conceive for a normal person starts going down. And I’m not normal. I have to have so much scar tissue in there that nothing could implant without the fight of its life. And Jeff and I aren’t ready to have kids. There’s so much more of the world we want to see. So many places to go, things to do together, and time to spend as a couple. And we’re both fully aware that by the time we’d be ready to have babies, the odds would be against us. I’ve seen many friends go through so much pain, sadness, and stress fighting fertility issues. And that’s not for us. If we do decide we’d like to become parents, we both agree that we’d adopt. There are so many kids out there who need good homes that we wouldn’t feel right fighting nature to have a biological child.

So why do we keep fighting biology and trying to make my reproductive organs “normal”? Wouldn’t it be easier to just take everything out and send me on my way? The fact of the matter is that so many doctors are concerned about taking that opportunity away from a woman, even when it’s their best option to live pain free. I’ll be bringing that up to my doctor, but I think 40 is the earliest they’ll consider full hysterectomy. But bottom line, I will be having at least another laser laparoscopy in the next month. And what bugs me most about it? Having to cut back on working out and possibly miss out on some social events we have planned. Yep, I’m stubborn.

OK, back to the race. Last year, I ran the Market to Market relay in a team of 8 people. The nature of this race is actually super hard on your body-runners have anywhere from 6-14 miles to run in 2-4 segments. What that means is you go run 3, 4, 5 miles as fast as you can, pass off the baton, stuff yourself in a vehicle and get to the next checkpoint. So by default you’re either working your muscles by running or cramping them up by sitting in the car. Last year by the end, we were all having issues that kind of stemmed back to our IT bands. This year, pretty similar. Both years I ran within .5 miles of the same distance-around 12 miles. I have been having a real struggle with my running lately-not sure what triggered it. But running the distances I used to run with no problems, now is a mental tug of war. I want to walk. I want to walk badly. I think it started when training for the half ironman and realizing that realistically, there was a good chance that with the time of day I’d reach the run, the temperatures predicted for the day, and the fact that they advertised that we’d have NO shade on the race course that I’d have to walk a portion of it. So I started allowing myself to walk a bit during my training runs, which I did at the height of sun, hottest part of our Nebraska days to acclimate. And then I started doing morning runs where inevitably I’d have to stop and use a restroom about 4 miles in to an 8 mile run. After the half ironman, I just was DONE with my regular, twice a day workouts and cut running almost completely. But I got a few good runs in before this particular race, so I was hopeful. And I managed to run every step of my 12 miles. That was no accomplishment to those on my team-they ran 2-3 minutes per mile faster than I did, and one is going on to run a 100 mile race this weekend. But it was a moral victory to me, and at a point while running on a bridge across the Platte River, that I really got my mojo back. I felt my legs moving, my lungs expanding, the sun hitting my face and the gorgeous scenery you can’t get any other way, and I realized THIS is why I run. And make no bones about it, I’m a runner.

I can’t wait to get back out there and run some more. It may have to wait, because the situation with my right ovary makes even walking feel really awkward, so I’d imagine any amount of bouncing around would be agony. But I’ll say this: I’m not doing Market to Market next year. Last year, 3 days after the race, I had to have my appendix removed. This year, it was the ultrasound and surgery scheduled. Probably not related to the race, but that thing is bad karma for me! I’m going to focus more on running because I want to, and not because I want to pay someone to acknowledge I ran. I’ve joined running clubs, bicycling clubs, and done more races over the last 2 years than I ever dreamed I’d participate in. And when do I feel best? When I exercise on my own. When I get out there and then decide how far  I want to go. I’ll still do a token half marathon next year, and I’d like to gather a few ladies and do a group century ride, but I think my days of competing for competing’s sake are over. I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. And I don’t need a medal to tell me what’s in my head, my heart, or even my legs. All I need is that little twinge you get that tells you “I ran”.

 

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