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,