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,