Friday, December 23, 2016

Embracing Your Struggles

I have been wanting to update the blog for a very long time, but I really wanted the next blog post after TIR to be about how everything was great again. Even leading up to TIR, and after, I knew that I was still not where I needed to be. Everything since being in the hospital has seemed forced, but more on that a little later. One thing I have felt horrible about was not doing any update on the race, and I feel like I disrespected our team in not updating anything. So we will start there before getting into the topic at hand.

The Texas Independence Relay was such a unique experience for us, and something that will always stay with Susan and I. It's not just about running multiple legs over 2 days, but it is more about doing it with a great group of people. None of us knew everyone before getting in the vans together at Brad and Kristi's, but by the end of the race we were all old friends.

I really was very apprehensive on my ability to run, and maybe even complete what the team needed me to complete. It seems like a hundred years ago that I was in the hospital with rhabdo, but it has now been over a year. At the time of the race I had been "recovered" for about 6-7 months, and it had already been a rocky recovery. I knew I was going into the relay not at the training I had wanted to be at, but there was no way I was going to let the team down.

There are so many things that are so hard to describe about this race, but I will try to give it some context. Starting off with a literal canon blast, and then if you aren't running then you are cheering and supporting the person that runs. It was easy to keep up the energy through the first day, but the real struggle would come for all of us to keep that same energy through the middle of the night. That struggle was easily met, and even on very little sleep everyone met the challenge. Even when the beautiful traffic of Houston snarled our race plan. Just like life you either melt down or you adjust and keep putting one foot in front of the other.




This race was unlike anything I have done, and it really showed me the true nature of how to deal with struggles. I have always drawn so many parallels between racing and life, and this race was the perfect example that I didn't realize until now. In life, as in racing, you either are the one struggling or not struggling. The difference is in making the conscience choice of helping others even if you are or are not struggling.

We could not have been more proud to have been a part of this team, no matter how interesting the smell was for the van ride back to the Metroplex. :)

One of the hardest things I have struggled with, since being in the hospital, is that I feel ridiculous talking about my health issues. None of us would have very far to look in our circle of friends to find someone that is in a "worse" condition than you. This might be physical, spiritual, mental, or all of the above. So who am I to sit here and talk about my issues when I know so many others that are in worse situations.

The reality is that we are all going though some struggles, and some of those struggles are going to be worse then others. We would love to say that we are all strong enough to battle things more than others, but we really aren't made to be that way. We are made to stand together with each other and help the other fight. Sometimes we are the one being encouraged and other times we are the ones that are being encouraged.

I have come to believe this last year that being healthier is not just about the current fight, but more about preparing ourselves for the fights to come. So to highlight what I mean by this here a few bullet points from the last year:

Caused myself to develop Rhabdo and then had a nice hospital stay.

Then I was constantly sick and had no immunity.

I had extreme fatigue for months and months to the point that I barely could make it through the day. This still effects me some days when I have pushed myself too far.

Started visiting a functional medicine doctor, and became well versed in adrenal fatigue, sleep, and the effects of stress on my body.

Raced TIR against the advice of my doc, and I felt really good running!

Tried to believe that I was back to my normal fitness.

Couldn't decide to if I was still having effects from the Rhabdo or was it just in my head?

Decided that I needed some professional help. So enter Dr. Nicole Adams to help answer that question.

Needing some consistency I asked Nicole to coach me.

Then the old issue of irregular heart rate came back.

I got to carry a heart monitor around for a month, and everything turned out that it didn't happen often enough to worry at this point.

Then my "normal" eye issues flare up again, but this time much worse. The short version is that my eyes sometimes are very red for no reason, occasionally my vision will fluctuate, and they are usually very painful.

Found out my eye issue is so rare that maybe 3-4 people in the world have it

Decided to try an experimental eye treatment using a form of stem cell therapy. Didn't work!

Now trying several different types of therapy and specialists for my eyes. Including getting back on allergy shots and trying acupuncture for the first time. So far I have been very impressed and responding well to the treatment.

The one thing that I have had to get used to is wearing my glasses 98% of the time. I only wear my contacts for workouts, and the way things have been going that isn 't every day.

The reality is that this eye issue is a symptom of something else. Some inflammatory disorder that is causing issues that manifest itself through my eyes. The key is going to be finding what are the triggers, and dealing with those.

There is so much more that could be written about the last several months, but I feel horrible talking about something that is such an aggravation when others are going through so much more. I think that when we struggle it is really hard to put it all into words how it makes us feel, and sometimes it feels like we are trying to repair cracks in our souls.

My fitness was one of the things that was helping repair the cracks in my soul that were made the day my Dad died. I think that the reality is that training was a way to temporarily fill those cracks, and when I had that taken away I realized how I was propping up my whole well being by training harder and going farther. Many times I felt that as long as I could stay fit there wasn't anything that I could not push through.

Once you start developing cracks in your soul, and you don't stop and take the time to repair them. When those repairs are left to themselves then no matter how well you do the healthy things in life you will still keep struggling.

Thinking of my Dad (a welder) a thought came to mind that my overall health is very much like the process of welding:
Welding: A filler material is often added to a joint to form a pool of molten material (the weld pool) that cools to form a joint that can be as strong, or even stronger, than the base material.

Taking the time to repair those cracks will over time make you stronger in all parts of your life.

Whether or not you reading this believe in having a soul there are parts of us over the years that get chipped away and they are made rough. At those times you have to decide do you want to give yourself the best chance at finding out what comes next, or in some extreme cases how do I survive the next day. Your health has to be part of the solution, but it isn't the whole solution.

No matter how good you are, or how good you eat, how much you work out, you will come to a time when it nothing seems to jive no matter how hard you try. We all have cracks and broken pieces that make us up, but it has to be us that decides if we are going to let those define us.

No matter how much I have wanted to keep things as authentic as possible here there is always a part of you in writing that you keep backfire yourself.  I have enough close friends that know what things have been like over the last year or so, and some of those people are going through struggles much worse then mine. This journey started with me losing weight and becoming healthier for my family, then I somewhat became a competitive athlete, and then the loss of my Father started me on a journey of helping others fight for their health.

No matter what struggle you are going through don't ignore it because with our world of knowing everything about everyone you think that it is insignificant. Just recognize that sometimes you are the one that helps and sometimes you have to be the one that needs help. Be open to both ways that things can flow. In the worst of times embrace your struggles, because your will be stronger on the other side.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Keebler




Thursday, March 31, 2016

Your Pace or Mine - Texas Independence Relay 2016 - 200 miles of Fun!

During my last post, I was discussing my up and down health the last few months.  I also mentioned that Susan and I had been asked to run in a relay race called the Texas Independence Relay. We were asked to join the team by our friends Brad and Kristi Clyburne. Brad has talked to me about this race for many years, but I was always focused on triathlons and never could fit it into the schedule. Well this year it worked for both Susan and I to be part of the TIR challenge. I have tried to describe what this relay is to many people, but couldn't do it justice, so below is a description from the TIR website.

The Challenge
The Texas Independence Relay is composed of 40 relay legs of various lengths, totaling over 200 miles. The course starts in Gonzales, where the spark of the Texas Revolution took place, and it finishes at the San Jacinto Monument, where Texas Independence was won! To tackle this formidable task, your team will have of up to 12 members (your choice!), and you’ll have an exceptional time furthering good friendships and making new ones! You’ll encourage each other along the way while you visit the small cities of Gonzales, Shiner, Moulton, Flatonia, Schulenburg, Weimar, Borden, Columbus, Altair, Eagle Lake, Wallis, Orchard, Simonton, and Fulshear. Then, you’ll make your way through the paramount city of Houston, experiencing it in a way you never have before! Racing on a team with your friends in this unique format over an incomparable span of Texas steeped with momentous history all amounts to a GREAT time that you’ll fondly remember for... well.. the rest of your life! This all takes place over Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, and don’t forget the Texas Independence Party (the TIP!) on Friday, April 1! Come and take it… if you have what it takes!

Your Epic Texas Journey

Gonzales is a wonderfully welcoming town, rich with history and attractive to tourists looking to escape the big city! Your entire team will run a small loop together around downtown, marking the commencement of your journey. You’ll enjoy picturesque rolling hills replete with blooming Texas wildflowers on perfect relay roads as you journey over rural dirt roads - even passing Sam Houston’s Tree! After leaving Gonzales, you’ll get a taste of smaller Texas towns with exceptionally large hearts! Shiner, Moulton, Flatonia, Schulenburg, and Weimar, you’ll appreciate each town’s individual flavor, but you will also note that they all possess a distinct relaxing quality. By the time your team reaches Columbus, the sun will be retiring for the day.
Eagle Lake, Wallis, Orchard, Simonton, and Fulshear will be sleeping communities as you pass through (though at least a few will stay up to curiously observe your unrelenting journey through the night). Pressing on tirelessly toward the finish, you and your team will follow the beacons of flashing lights (other runners).

When you begin to make your way through Cinco Ranch on the west side of Houston, you’ll notice early indicators that a new day is being gifted to us! You’ll also become aware that you’re crossing the threshold between country and city. Between here and downtown, you’ll traverse paths that wind through pleasing parks (George Bush Park, Terry Hershey Park, Memorial Park, and the Buffalo Bayou). You’ll admire stately homes in well-preserved neighborhoods, and then, you’ll stride through Houston’s very downtown, passing right by reflective sky scrapers and the Toyota Center!

After exiting downtown, you’ll head south to Houston's museum district and Hermann Park, even passing beneath Sam Houston's impressive statue that points the way to the finish! You'll continue to navigate east on the Brays Bayou Path followed by quiet neighborhoods. Finally, your epic Texas journey culminates with a momentous celebratory finish in La Porte at the San Jacinto Battleground and Monument!

Here is also a nice description from our esteemed crew chief, Brad: Our team, Your Pace or Mine?, consists of 12 runners from Fort Worth, Aledo & Lubbock.  Several of the runners have completed several half marathons, marathons, ultramarathons, & triathlons, while others will enter the TIR with a race resume of a few 5 & 10K races.  Eight of the 12 runners are running along with their spouse, therefore we split the vans into male and female.  The thought process here was two-fold privacy and ...self preservation, but the ultimate goal is just to have some fun. 

Susan and I have both been having our struggles with training, but today we realized that we are very excited to meet up with a great group of folks and just have a weird sort of fun. So tomorrow we are going to head off early to meet the group in Aledo then all drive to Gonzales, TX. Then Saturday morning we will go off at 7:20am, and we should finish around 3:00pm on Sunday in Houston. So if you pray put one out there for our group this weekend. We'll see you soon!

If you want to follow our unusual weekend go to the links below:

https://www.facebook.com/wesley.everett.50

https://www.instagram.com/runkeeblerrun/

https://twitter.com/wdeverett

Keep Fighting,
Keebler


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Giving Up the Ghost

I saved the title for this post more than a month ago with the intent of telling all of you that it was time to give up the ghost. Some of you that haven't heard this phrase before this is how wiktionary defines it:
give up the ghost ‎(third-person singular simple present gives up the ghostpresent participle giving up the ghostsimple past gave up the ghostpast participle given up the ghost)
  1. (intransitive, idiomatic) To cease clinging to life; to die [quotations ▼]
  2. (intransitive, idiomatic, figuratively) To quit; to cease functioning.
    My old computer finally gave up the ghost the other day.
  3. (intransitive, with of) To cede a commitment to or identification with.  [quotations ▼]

As many of you know this blog started during a time that I was having some of heart related issues with my training. When I visited my cardiologist one day I decided to document not only my issues, but also the fact that I was fighting something that had affected my family for years. Something that even factoring in genetics could be improved with lifestyle, and that even a terminally short, formally fat guy named Keebler could be fit and healthy.

While all along hoping that I could inspire others to quit accepting the fallacy that if we aren't sick we are healthy. I have always believed that too many things have fallen in place for this not to be a path that God has put me on, and if any thing I said or have written here has helped one person then it has been all worth it.

Then along the way I think that I started to believe that if I didn't keep surpassing my last goal, race distance, or whatever other stupid way to measure ourselves then I was giving others a reason to quit. I know that it sounds slightly koo koo, or maybe a lot koo koo.

Now I am sure all of this has been a form of therapy for me to try to come to grips with the loss of my Dad unexpectedly from heart issues. I still hate that he wasn't able to be here to see my kids and my sister's son grow up. I still hate that I can see pain in my Mom's eyes even after 7 years.The reality is that many times after going through something life altering you have to accept a new kind of normal. You have to learn to fight in a different way.

That acceptance of that new normal can either be a starting off point to something greater, or it can be  an anchor. Now since I was in the hospital in May I have started to write about what was going on several times, but since I kept waiting until the message was what I thought you would expect to be written. You know we all love that come back story, but when you are dealing with something as finicky as a human body you can't force the outcome.  I am slowly starting to learn that sometimes the fight has to change even if the reason doesn't change.

Slight excerpt from what training has been like for the last few months:

Released to train again:
Start slow and take it easy

Feeling good and starting to test myself on a few intervals, and they feel great.
I am even running at paces I haven't done before!

Feeling sick and energy levels suck! Take a day off.

Better time to start back. Runs feeling good.

Sick and I can barely keep my eyes open. I am so tired! Writing this sentence has made me tired.

Take time off to recover.

Feeling good again. Time to start again.

Energy levels are down again.

Sick again! Time to rest.

I think that you are getting the point!

Now those of you that know the usual training levels I have done over the years this is no where near that, but I did go by all the regular standards of building back exercise levels very slowly. I have really been striving to not get injured or have any other setbacks.

Still this same pattern has gone on since I was in the hospital, and being brutally honest I have barely had the energy to get through most days. When you feel like that there is very little left to be good in the other parts of your life. So I know I haven't been the best husband or the best Dad, and none of this matters if those parts of my life can't be met.

During this time I am looking around my circle of friends, and like many of you, I don't have to look far for some people going through some real serious shit in their lives. So my first thought is I can't write and bitch about putting my body through hell, and then come on here and grip when it won't do what I want it to anymore. That is when my first time I started to ask the question, maybe it's time to give up the ghost? Is it?

Well nearly at the same time that these thoughts were going through my mind a few other things happened.

First, my friend Jerred asked me to meet with an engineer from Texas Tech, Luciano Castillo, who was developing some devices for the healthcare industry and they needed someone that had completely gone from one side of the health scale to the other to be part of their team. That first meeting started to light a fire that I believed had burned out. Not to mention I have been able to join a group of folks that are so inspiring, because of all of the things they are trying to do to help people. More on this in another post.

Second, I started working with a doctor to help work on my immunity and exhaustion. During one of those meetings after telling him that maybe I needed to quit writing and that maybe my passion to help others had run it's course. He said, "Maybe this season that you are in is God's way of showing others they can't quit working on their own health."

Finally, I was contacted by a couple of old friends, Gary Schwantz and Jennifer Sedia, who wanted to meet. That meeting turned into another very inspiring talk on what we do to inspire and motivate people to be healthier.

I am forgetting many other instances that have happened over the last few months. The main reason is that I was trying to focus on how crappy things were for me. Then feeling bad because I have friends that are in their own bad situations, and I really don't feel that I should even be bitching. Expect the difference is that for who I was nine years ago to who I am now is that I know what good should feel like.

Not all things have been exhausted and bad the last few months. I actually have had some fantastic runs with friends and some really nice beers. All of these years I have only trained by myself, and really needed that time for reflection and prayer. Now I have started to run with my friend Jerred, and I really have come to appreciate running with no purpose than to hang out. Some days we talk about heavy stuff, and other times are just for talking complete nonsense.

The good weeks are starting to last a little longer every time. Right now I am in one of the down phases, but instead of training through it I am just trying to get healthy. The good has been good enough that Susan and I are even going to race with a team in Texas Independence Relay, but more on that in another post. I might not be what I think that I should be for that, but I am really trying to be smart and find that balance again.

I was used to always trending up, and instead I have gone through some pretty severe ups and downs. That is life! We all have our issues and troubles. Trying to compare those will never do any of us any good. We need to try to be there when we can for each other.  As long as we can do good in the world, and I am not talking about huge things. Just simple things things like trying to smile at someone when you walk by them in the hall, maybe trying to actually listen to someone without looking at your phone, asking for help and trying not to handle it all, or just stopping our loud lives  and listening to what God might be trying to say to you.

This week I have been listening to Joy Week on the Bobby Bones show, and for those that don't listen  it is real simple. It is just a week that they try to put as much joy as they can out the world. With hope that it will slowly blank out all the bad shit that permeates everything else. As long as their is this kind of fight going on, we all should keep fighting in our own way.   My way of fighting might be a little different, but it's not over yet.

So put a smile on your face and don't even think about giving up the ghost!


In the spirit of pimpinjoy,
Keebler

I am inspired by many people and things daily, but for awhile now I have heard some good preaching through J.J. Grey. Even if you don't hear the same message that I do keep searching for what will inspire you.

EVERY MINUTE - J.J. Grey
I tried so hard to be the person
everybody thought I was
I pushed myself and everyone
almost over the edge
This mirrored light that sends back
everything that you send out
The grace you give, given back
loving every minute you live

Every Minute - J.J. Grey Video







Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Up Side of Down

These last few months have been interesting, and by interesting I mean a struggle. First I must confess that I haven't done all of the things that I should to help myself heal up. Part of this is because we went on vacation and I finally was feeling good. So I tried to keep faking that I was bouncing right back, and I knew that I wasn't.

St. Petersburg, Florida


I thought I was starting to feel good enough to really think about training again. Not just working out but actually training. Then I started to learn that this was a fleeting feeling. One minute I feel like the guy that can wake up and go run for 6-10 miles without thinking about it then the next moment I feel like I can barely move I am so tired.

Regardless, since I developed this extreme case of Rhabdo from a workout I did on Memorial Day I have been finally released from my doctors care. The last 2 rounds of blood work checking my CK levels have been in the normal range, and that is with me starting to run again. Since I have had constant fatigue he did check a few other things this last round, and found that I was severely deficient in vitamin D. So with a little supplementation I am feeling a little better, but it is still evident my recovery is going to be very slow.

I haven't really wanted to update any of you, because this hasn't been the only struggle going on. It actually has seemed like it has been one thing after another for over a year now. As usual when I struggle I look around and can see so many other people that are going through "real" struggles, and I feel ridiculous talking about what really are such small things.

If I really wanted to bare my soul this feeling has been going on for quite some time. I have been pushing every part of my life to the limits for a long time, and if it wasn't for this rhabdo I probably wouldn't have ever taken a true step back from the edge.

The edge is really where I found the title for this post, because you have to be on the "Down side of Up" to really know the "Upside of Down." The "down side of up" can look many different ways to many different people. It can be an addiction, grief, pain, sickness, or any of the many other things that makes us not be able to see outside of our own existence. We become consumed with ourselves even if we don't realize it.

I was burned out from life. I could talk all day about balance to people, but I wasn't doing it. I was just trying to survive near the break point. Then your kid gets sick, then you get another deadline at work, then you get sick, and on and on.....

I knew that I wasn't being the best husband, best Dad, or best anything but I didn't know how to get things back in order. Then everything just stopped. A week in the hospital has a way of doing that for you. I had to quit trying to control everything, and quit feeling like I was failing at everything.

A close friend of mine that worries more about my soul than I think I do gave me a copy of The Gospel of Mark study book by William Barclay. These were part of what Mr. Barclay wrote to help decipher Mark 5:14-17. These words were printed in 1955, but for me they have been as relevant now as I am sure they were then.

There is great deal of talk about what life owes us. Life owes us precisely nothing; the debt is all the other way around. It is we who owe life all that we have to give. We are followers of one who gave up the glory of Heaven for the narrowness of earth, who gave up the joy of God for the pain of the cross. It is human not to want to have our comfort disturbed; it is divine to be willing to be disturbed that others may have more.

William Barclay

Since my Dad died I have had a version in my head of what he wanted me to be, and I probably will never measure up to that version. The thing is that when I slowed down I realized that the man he wanted me to be was just someone that was always trying to be better. Someone that was putting out as much good in the world as he could. Fortunately, he and I both married women that live lives that are perfect examples of this.

I had to realize that my worth didn't matter how far I ran, how much I made, how many people that I tried to inspire.

Now I can't tell you when the exact moment happened that I realized that I was on the "Upside of Down," but I do know that one day I was comforted with the fact that I was on a long slow road for my recovery. I hadn't felt like fighting for sometime, and I sure couldn't encourage anyone else to fight for their health.

Slowly, I remembered how much I loved to fight. I remembered how much I loved to encourage others to fight. I forgot that inspiration comes from everywhere in our world we just have to be open to seeing it, and even more comes from us putting more good out there.

I really don't know if any of you are still out there reading, and that some Google robots aren't the ones adding to my numbers. If any of you are still out there then please stick around. Who knows if this road to recovery will have me on a start line again, or if I will ever be at the fitness I was before. I promise that as long as one of you are checking in then I know that there is still a fight to fight.

There are still people wanting to fight to be healthier.

Life owes us nothing, but as long as we are breathing we owe life everything. Go be healthy and smile at someone. You will either scare them or make their day. Either way it will make one or both of you happy :)

Yours,
Keebler

P.S. Sadly, my first training partner passed away since I started writing this post. He will be always be more to me than a dog, he was my friend. See you when I get to the happy hunting ground, old friend!

One of the little Keeblers and Gilmore a few years ago



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Another Mile Down the Road

The last we got to catch up things were a little rough for Anna, but we started were eating in a way that would help her feel better. We are slowing adopting the Paleo lifestyle. The first thing out of our diet has been anything processed.  This has thankfully helped Anna tremendously. We finally feel like we have our little girl back. This lifestyle does require a little more meal prep and planning, but we will do whatever to make sure she stays well. Not only that, it has forced all of us to eat much healthier.

Even Anna's arm healed up in time for her to play her last few softball games. Which she was very excited about after being laid up for weeks.

You would think that the reality would be that we would be in a good place for a few days but that wasn't meant to happen for us. Our youngest ended up with a bad stomach pain, and we ended up going to the ER with her. Afraid that for whatever reason we were going down the same road with her, but instead it ended up being extreme constipation. Damn you cheese sticks!

Then to make things worse Allie decided to fall out of box in the garage and badly sprained her ankle. We aren't exactly sure why she was in the box to begin with, or why the lights were off in the garage, something to do with hide -n-seek in the dark. Who knows, we never get the full story from her or Anna! After her complaining for a few days and the swelling didn't go down, we went for X-Rays, lucky it was just a bad sprain, nothing broken. Luckily, because of all of the rain she didn't miss any softball games and after about 2 weeks she was much better. 

After we got over the constipation issue, and in the middle of the ankle issue, Anna ended up with a respiratory infection that kept her out of school for a few more days. She was on breathing treatments around the clock for 2 full days. She finally got over this and both girls finished school on high notes! We even found out that Anna passed the STARR test and did a lot better than average. This is really saying something considering she missed 23 days of school!!  

So for the last 2 months is has been a guess every week on which girl was going to have an issue. As parents we were just happy for a day that everybody felt good and nothing happened. 

Over Memorial Day weekend, we were finally in a place to have some friends over to celebrate our close friends birthday. During our visit he mentioned that I should come with him on Memorial Day and try this crossfit workout called The Murph. Since I was not training for anything specific I thought why not do something different. Not to mention it would be a good challenge for me.

The Murph is a crossfit workout that is done on Memorial Day done in honor of Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy a Navy Seal that gave his life for us in Afghanistan. It was his favorite workout that he called body armor and after his death it was changed to The Murph. It consists of:

A mile run
100 Pullups
200 Pushups
300 Squats
Finished with a mile run

I might mention that at this point Susan did say to me I was going to get hurt, because well she is usually right. Just don't tell her I said that! 

Anyway being the athlete I am I knew I could make it through, but since I don't do much upper body I knew I would be sore. Just not this bad. The other problem with being an endurance athlete coming into this workout is that the part that most of us have that says you should stop I have learned to suppress. This it turns out was a bad thing, because what I didn't say at the start of this post is that I started writing this it from my hospital room. 

That's right we were in the hospital again, but at least it is not one of my kids! Since Monday(Memorial Day) I have developed a rare condition called rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo. It is an excessive breakdown of muscle tissue that is from a release of a damaging protein into my blood. If left untreated will damage or shutdown your kidneys.

I have pushed myself through so many challenges, and I have been sore before but this was a completely different level of sore. I was obviously fit enough to complete it, but my upper body was not conditioned enough for this kind of workout. I am sure that all of the other weird Keebler blood issues contributed to this level of damage along with the statins that I took for years. Either way I was so sore the night after the workout that it physically woke me up, but I still didn't think anything was real serious. Then Wednesday morning I noticed blood in my urine. 

As usual I tried to blow this off as well, but since we were going to go out of town over the weekend Susan convinced me that a doc visit was a good idea. Even though I still had blood in my urine my doc didn't think it was that bad, but he wouldn't know until he got back some blood results. Then he  called me while I was at lunch on Thursday said that I wouldn't be going back to work or leaving town, and instead I would be going to the ER right then. He was also very impressed, because he had never seen levels as high as mine. This has turned out to be a theme with the medical professionals during my stay in the hospital.

Most people's CK levels range from 55-170, mine would only register as >100,000. They weren't even sure how high they were past 100,000, because their test wouldn't measure above 100,000. They typically have seen damage to the kidneys around 6,000. I have been blessed with the fact that I still don't have any damage to my kidneys. Since Thursday I have been a bit of a spectacle, because of the levels of my ck readings. The funny thing is that my nurse last night told me that when he was in Dallas he did see it twice, but it was from severe trauma in an accident, or someone going though extreme cocaine overdose. Nice!

Situations like this always make me feel so special :)

The first few days here my levels didn't really drop much, and when they did they would go right back up the next test. Finally over the last 24 hours they started to drop. At the end of the day yesterday they were 40,000, but my last blood work yesterday came back at 46,000. Then yesterday's was back down to 27,105. This was close enough for us to go home, but I still have away to go before it is back to normal.

I won't lie the up and down is very frustrating, but at least the trend is down. The other problem has been that the pain I had from the workout is very slowing going away. It really has been unlike any thing that I have ever had to recover from in the past. They don't really know why things are going so slow, but they are feeling confident that I am going to make a full recovery. It is just going to be a very slow recovery. 

A couple of positive things have come from this experience. As part of my blood work they ran a lipid panel, and for the first time without medication my total cholesterol was 186. It has never been below 200 without meds, and I can only contribute it to the change in diet. These results gave both of us so much joy,  because we finally feel like we have control over something that is genetic and for the longest time we didn't think we would ever be able to control it. 

The second positive that has come from this little hospital stay is that Susan and I went to see the memorial for my Dad in the Cath Lab waiting room.  A couple of ladies were sitting under it, and we each shared our stories. Her husband has been through so many things like my Dad, and she said that getting to meet us gave her hope. That was really the whole  reason for Dad's memorial. It was for people to have a story to turn to to give them hope and fight. God puts us in some interesting places to help others.

Some people will look at my example and say that it might be another example to NOT workout. Yes I pushed myself beyond a limit that I should have know was there, but that doesn't mean I should not try to be as fit as possible. It was a reminder to build up to what I want to do, but never quit fighting to be healthier. I would have never have ran a marathon or ran a 50K without training, I am not sure why I thought I could do this. Once again, Susan might have mentioned this a few times before I went.

 In my family quitting fighting could mean your dieing. My conditioning and stupidity might have gotten me into here, but it has also helped me survive a bad situation that would have been much worse if I wasn't healthy and fit.

I have said in the past this is the year of just trying to stay fit, and this will be an adjustment for me. Regardless, I am still going to be fighting. Sometimes I might just have to fight at a slower pace than I want.

Living to fight another day,
Keebler

P.S. To all the doctors and nurses a big thanks, but a special thanks to: Joy, Mariana, Stephanie, Kenneth, Katie, Sara, my nurse practitioner Young, Dr. Kruczek, and of course Dr. Landry. I hope that I haven't forgotten anyone. If so I am sorry I have been slightly delirious :)



Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Sun is Shining Down

I hope those of you that have always been checking in here at Keeblerville haven't decided to give up on this blog or myself yet. The truth is that I have somewhat been giving up since Ironman Boulder, and am just now in a place to understand why. I started this blog update many times only to delete it, because it just kept sounding like I was complaining. Compared to other people with some "real" problems who am I to sit here and bitch about this or that.

I always have wanted this blog to be a place to inspire others to be healthier in mind, body, spirit. I want it to be that place that people could come read some writing from a guy that proved that anyone can go from really out of shape,  turn it around, and have some fun doing it.  A place that helps people recognize that no matter who you are, or what you have, your health is something that you should fight for.

When we all last talked I was hoping for better days coming in 2015, but life had another plan for us. We'll talk about me first, but I am only part of the story. The first thing is that physically I was feeling like I was never going to be healthy again. It wasn't just the flu that did it to me, but it was the final blow for me to give into reality. The reality is that I am burned out.

I have seen this happen to a couple of very close friends, and believed that if it was going to happen to me I would see it coming. I didn't. As an endurance athlete you train yourself to keep going no matter what. Even in bad times you know they are temporary, and if you just keep going you will pull through. That is the physical part, and I knew how to deal with that. I knew how to listen to my body. I knew when to push, and when to back off for the next challenge.

I ignored the other parts of me that helps me be whole. I ignored where I was spiritually. I ignored where I was mentally.  I just kept pushing through believing that if I just kept going life would ease up. I was wrong. I believed that our family had hit a rough patch health wise, and that things were turning around. I was wrong. I believed that my usual job stress was getting better, and it was going to ease up. I was wrong.

Looking around at our circle of friends we knew of so many that were going through some bad stuff. So who was I to bitch about our little problems here and there. So I kept my mouth shut and put my head down and pushed through.

My first sign came when Tim called me and said it was time to start planning for next race season. Something that we have done for the last 6 years together. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't do it, but I didn't want to tell him. This next thought might not make sense to many of you, but here it is. I was afraid that if I wasn't pushing myself to the next level I was quitting. Then those of you that have made that change in your health would look at me and think that if I quit fighting it was ok for you to quit fighting. I know that is slightly wackadoodle (technical head shrink term), but that is what was in my head.

Talking this over with Susan she eloquently reminded me that if I wasn't going to race that was fine, but the option of sitting on my ass was not acceptable.  She is very aware that she is a wife that married someone that must always fight for their health if they want to or not. Sometimes I even have to be reminded of it. Finally, I knew that I couldn't plan any race, and I made that call to my friend and the best coach ever, to say I was done for now. When that talk was over an enormous pressure came off, and I believed that things were going to be easy from here on out. I was wrong.

Susan was planning on training for her first marathon, and I thought why not run with her. So a goal was born. I even talked it over with my good friend Jerred, and we set up a schedule to run together at least once a week. Now I have rarely trained with other people over the last several years not because of some great scheme I just usually couldn't make my schedule fit with others. I didn't know it but running with a friend was one of the things that I needed. Our weekly runs have been filled with anything from talking about serious stuff, training ideas, to not talking about anything that matters. This time was going to be more important to come then I ever imagined. The weekly talks and runs either with friends or by myself have become a treasure to help release the pressure.

We really thought that after Anna's surgery last November that her stomach issues were over, but then one Sunday she started hurting bad just like when her appendix was inflamed. No appendix meant that something else was going on. So back to the ER we go twice during the week only to find out that she has something called mesenteric-lymphadentitis. The fix for this is you just have to let it pass, and try to manage the pain with some pain meds. That's easy to say to an adult, but try to say that to a 9 year old girl. She put her head down and took her medicine and we eventually got the pain under control, and thought ok this is it, she's good.

Then a few weeks later the pain comes back, but this time the pain meds don't work. So back to the ER again, and this time she gets admitted. Many of you that have had loved ones in the hospital, know how time stands still almost immediately. So for a week Anna goes thought every test you can think of for her stomach pain while we are also trying to keep life somewhat normal for Allie. All of the test done, comes back negative which we were very grateful for,  but we still didn't have any answers.

Now with everything thing I have put myself through I know what endurance is all about. Then you see the bravery and strength of a little girl that just wants her Mom and Dad to get the pain to stop. You see the bravery and strength of a Mom that rarely if ever leaves the side of her daughter. Now I  know what endurance and strength really look like. You know how fragile our health is no matter how "healthy" we think we are, and sometimes no amount of training prepares you for some fights. Then when the fight is almost out of you it dawns on you that strength comes from the prayers of a little 9 year old girl that just wants to be better.

Anna during her last test that took 2 1/2 hours


After all of the tests done we had no answers except all of the bad things were ruled out. One set of blood work results showed that she might have issues with some foods, and now that was all we had left to try. Anna had to fast for her last test so we decided that day we would cut out those foods, and that really cut out all foods that were processed. Since that day she hasn't had a pain one. Now is this the final answer? We hope and pray it is, but it will be a long time before we aren't afraid of the pain coming back.

I would love to tell all of you that Anna has been smooth sailing since then, but then that would just be a lie.  After about two weeks of no stomach pain Susan and I decided to go through with her first marathon in Dallas, and then drive on to trade her company car out in Tennessee. The run went great and we had some well deserved catch up time on the road for a few days.The whole time we were driving we were afraid that we were about to get the call that the pain was back. It didn't! So now for the happy ending. Nope!

Happiness before the Big D Marathon

Susan finishing her first marathon!


Well we made it home with no reoccurrence of pain, and had a great dinner with the girls. While we starting to clean up the kitchen we sent them off to take a bath, and within a few minutes all we heard was Anna screaming. Well she was using the soap dish as a way to lower herself into the tub when it broke off from the wall. Her arm was hurt and she was bleeding like crazy from her nose. You can't make this stuff up. So off to the ER we go again. Even after a few doc visits since then we are still not positive that her arm isn't broke, and we aren't sure on her nose but we think it is good.

If you are all still with me I finally will get to why I titled this blog what I did. It is from a song from a group that over the last few years I have really connected to their music.

The Sun is Shining Down by J.J. Grey & Mofro. Now this song is about the last conversation that his Grandparents had on the way to the hospital. When I listened to this it reminded me that every day we wake up and the sun is shining down is a great day. We have another chance to do good, to do God's work, to smile through the bad stuff in life. Sometimes it piles on all of us, but we just need to keep feeling the blessing of another day with the sun shining down.

For better or worse I am back and no I don't know what the future holds, or what races are to come or not come, but I promise we aren't done fighting.


Yours in the fight,
Keebler








Saturday, December 27, 2014

Slow your Roll

There now is just a few days left in 2014, and I am ready for the New Year to get here. The last few months have been nothing if not trying. Just to list a few of the things that have happened:

1. ER visit with the oldest daughter for what turned into a an emergency appendectomy. This unfortunately was not her first visit to the ER this year. She had to go earlier in the year for breathing issues, and had to stay a few days.
2. Three weeks later 2nd ER visit with same daughter for broken arm.
3. A week or so later the same daughter came down with the Flu.
4. I had to have an MRI done on my shoulder.
5. Then for the first time in my life I was hit with the flu, and I am still trying to recover from it.
6. The youngest daughter is now sick with what is probably the flu.

In the grand scheme of the things these are such minor things to happen, but it has really made me forget all of the good things that have happened this year. Sometimes that does seem to happen when we get in the middle of trying times, no matter how large or small, and it becomes all consuming.

A few of the good things that have happened this year racing wise and beyond:

1. I finished my first trail marathon in the grasslands.
2. I spent 8 hrs in the saddle, and for the first time believed that I could complete an Ironman.
3. I finished Ironman Boulder!
4. We nearly moved but were reminded how much we love our life here.
5. I finally started a group at work that meets to discuss and encourage each other to live healthier.
6. I didn't have to have surgery on my shoulder, but will be in PT for a few weeks.
7. The flu has gotten me back down to race weight :)

Nine years ago this month I started a couch to 5k program to try to complete my first sprint triathlon. I was 50 lbs overweight, and really didn't realize that I was out of shape. I didn't look much different than most of the people that I knew, but I was about to become a Dad.

I did know what it felt like to think that your Dad is just one heart attack from being gone, and I knew that I didn't want my kid to feel that way.

I had seen a woman that was afraid that her husband was only one heart attack away from her raising 2 kids by herself, and I didn't want that for my wife.

I was under the belief that there wasn't much I could do about my own health. Then my bearded, opinionated, German neighbor told me that I was too young to be that fat.

Then 9 years goes by. I have had to say goodbye to the man that I never really thought would be gone. My thirties are just a few days away from being gone. I have raced so many times, so many different distances, in so many different places, that I have nearly taken it for granted that I will always be able to be able to do this. I hardly remember what it felt like to be 50 lbs heavier, and not able to run more that a few yards. Who knows if I will be able to always race, but one thing is for sure I have realized that I do have control over my health. I do have control over the example I set for my kids to choose to be active and eat healthy. I do have control over whether or not I fight.

After not getting out of bed for 3 days with 103F fever. I am still feeling like I will never be healthy again. I know I will be. The truth is I can't even remember the last time I worked out consistently or at all. I know I will get back to normal at some point, but now is the time to just slow my roll and get healthy again.

The Keebler family wishes all of you the best in 2015!

Thanks to my great Sister in law, Amy Odom, for this photo and the one below.