Friday, 14 March 2008

What Can I Say...

It would appear that I have slipped back into intestinal hell. I'm having another flair up and after feebly trying to workout on the bike for 20 minutes last night, I got off the bike, changed, sat on the couch and proceeded to cry.

I was crying for a few reasons. One, I wanted to do the workout IG sent cause it was a good one. Two I hated that I got off the bike; I felt like I gave up. Last, I hurt, I'm tired and I'm frustrated; I had thought I could 'muscle' through this flair up.

I've been battling this intestinal thing for many years now. In my old life I would just go home, lay down and hope that when I woke up things would be better. Sometimes they were, and sometimes they weren't.

Nowadays I'm asking a lot of my body with my training. That is part of the reason the frequency and duration of these flair ups has increased. I could give up my IM goals and perhaps they would lessen, but then I'd be giving up something that I love and that has become my life. So now what to do?

I've been to two GI specialists, and have yet another appointment with one in April. As of yet, Western medicine has not helped. They've shrugged and said, 'We're sorry, but you don't have the top three intestinal disorders so we can't help you and you'll have to figure out how to make yourself well.' I've also been seeing a Naturopath, and that seemed to help for a time, but no longer.

Diets, yes, I've tried many things. Even the 'Thrive Diet' Kelsey recently mentioned. I've removed meat, soy, dairy (save for the odd chocolate binge), and wheat/gluten from my diet. I'm still not well.

Stress plays a role in all of this and it's a vicious circle. I have 'healthy' stress from training and racing, and I have unhealthy stress from being so frustrated that my body is not cooperating with me. I'm tired of so many things - having to be picky about eating (it's annoying for my friends as well), the embarassment of the situation when I have flair ups, the constant rumblings and movements going on inside me, the feeling of having the life sucked out of me, the frustration of not knowing how to fix this, the fear of how this is going to affect IMCDA, and the tears. I hate being a wimp.

A friend of mine recently gave me a book on intestinal disorders called 'Breaking the Vicious Circle'. I started reading it last night and have already finished it. It too calls for healing through diet, but this one is quite restrictive. I'm tempted as I'm willing to try anything if it will help, but in doing this diet I'm not sure how I would get enough nutrition in for training or during a race. Can one race while not taking in sugars other than from fruits? I don't know what to do.

On one hand this diet (that has been used on patients since the late 50's) will apparantly bring your system back to a 'normal' state if you stay on it for approximately two years. Hmm, I could have a 'normal' life in two years. On the other hand, could I really do a diet like this for two years? Then I think, all these diets seem to make sense initially, and sometimes they help at the start, but then I still end up at the same spot I was in originally. Which is where I am now.

I wish so badly that there was someone that I could talk to about this. Someone who races Ironman who could give me some suggestions on what works. Even someone that's tried the above and can suggest how I can race while following such a diet. I know there isn't though, because IBS patients all have different symptoms and treatments. So I'm on my own.

The really ironic thing about this was that when I was swimming yesterday I was thinking how cool it was that I ran the night before and was in the pool in the morning pushing on even after the flair up started. I was also thinking about others I know or whom I've read about who are involved in triathlon. There are those who have started later in life, those with children, those who are physically challenged, and those who battle cancer, ALS, and other life threatening diseases. I thought about the triathlete spirit and how we all face adversity in some way, shape or form yet we continue on even in the face of adversity. Yet another reason why I love this sport so much.

In some ways that made me feel guilty for getting upset over this and for giving up on the bike last night. In other ways it reminds me that with a positive mindset anything can be accomplished. Sometimes, though, it's difficult to find the positive when you are in a fog. I know the fog will soon lift and I will try another diet, or treatment with renewed hope. Who knows, perhaps this time it will finally work.

Peace out my friends.


  1. Oh Susi...sending lots of hugs and love from here!! HANG IN THERE! Where there is a will, there is a way and you certainly have the will. I don't know how I can help but I will be sending my good thoughts to The Universe for you.

  2. Susi, (caps on purpose) YOU ARE NOT A WIMP. Nobody who can push through an Ironman and associated training is a wimp. Nobody who can go back to school as an adult, get an engineering degree, break into a tough job market and gain a positive reputation in it, then continue on with career goals the way you have is a wimp. Nobody who can overcome what bastard did to you and use it as inspiration is a wimp. Nobody who can gag down umpteen bazillion hated pipeline assessments till the time was right for a change, is a wimp. FLAT OUT NOT A WIMP! I hope we're all clear on this.

    We all have challenges based on the body we happen to be living in, some more than others. It might not be fair, but that's the way it is. While there is almost certainly not a silver bullet cure, I'm totally convinced that somewhere out there is the info you need to make this managable for the life you want to lead. Hang in there. Big hug.

  3. I second that!!! You are NOT a wimp!!!! It's easy to get down on ourselves, and come down hard. Just reading your blog, I sense what a positive and loving person you are.

    You are taking a very active approach in trying to find a solution -- keep at it, and don't give up!! I believe that people, books, ideas, come into our lives for a reason; and like Keith said, there IS a solution out there for you.

    You are on a journey... a path of discovery, and the lessons you learn along the way are have made you stronger. Sheesh, girl -- you have already finished one Ironman race!!!! People without IBS, have their systems shutting down and going bonkers during an IM. And you live with this everyday and still managed to train,race, and finish!

    And, you haven't tried everything... My Mom hasn't said a prayer for you yet!! :) :) She's my secret weapon, I've just brought out the big guns!! LOL!!!

    I know your struggles can make you feel so alone, but try not to give into that feeling --or the subsequent negativity. Do you realize that YOU inspire so many of us, just like all those people you cited inspire you?? You have a big heart and are a sincere person, Susi. You have a lot of people that are rooting for you.

    You are doing all the right things too -- when it is possible to push through a flare up,you do, but it is just as important to take a step back when the flare up is more intense. There is such a thing as pushing through the pain,but there is also such a thing as resting when your body demands it. I applaud your strength of character -- knowing when to stop a workout and forcing your mind to listen to your body is a tough thing, especially considering the ever-lasting dance you have to play with IBS. Sometimes you can push through,sometimes you can't. You are fine one day and not the nest. It's got to be a brutal mind game that your body plays on you -- but girl, look how far you have come!!

    I'll bet there was a time in your life that if someone told you you would be racing in Ironman triathlons, you would have said,"No frigging way! That would be impossible!" YOU have made that possible, Susi. Despite all your health issues and obstacles, you ARE doing it even now.

    Keep at it Susi!!!!! xxxx0000 :) :)

    Here's some more lurve for you:

    xxxx Slobbery dog kisses from Diva
    xxxx More slobber from Toby
    xxx scratches on back from Peanut
    Purrr lovin' from Mandalay

  4. ***Update*** Just got off the phone with my Mom, and put in the request.. She said, "OK, what's her name?" I said,"Susi!"

    Take care!!!! :) :) :) :)

  5. Hey Susi - I read that you have a naturopath. I do as well. Maybe you should try mine. She's so great. Her name is Dr. Bev and she works out of the Grassroots Naturopathic Clinic just by my house. They have a great team of people there who work together and they work with several top level athletes on all kinds of things like injuries and diet. You can check them out online - just google them. Or I can give you some information if you want. Keep your head up.

  6. I'm on the bandwagon late but OMG YOU ARE SO NOT A WIMP! I recall reading about your abs of steel and there was something you beating up the Michelin man or maybe it was the Pillsbury dough boy but the last thing you are is a wimp! You just swam 1000m under 20min!

    I can sorta understand I have Grave's Disease which is a hyperactive thyroid and have had many struggles trying to deal with it and have found the best way is to keep my stress down and
    watch my food. But I can't tell you how many runs I've finished in tears because my heart won't stop racing and I start to panic.

    I see I homoeopathic nutritionist who is also a friend. She has problems with her IB system as well. Let me know if you need a name or just a hug! Also you can email me at if you want to swap stories about our bodies rebelling against us.