Thursday, January 21, 2016

Just Before the Music Stopped

"It's not over until it's over" is the old saying. The last post on this blog spoke of pulling the plug on this ironman effort. The pain and the amount of disability were just too much for any serious triathlon training. After years of injuries and failed ironman attempts, I had finally made peace with it all. God had stilled my heart.

Then there was a doctor visit for a check up to get my cholesterol prescription renewed - yes, I had high cholesterol in spite of eating good, and exercising like fury - high cholesterol runs in my family. And too, I wanted the doctor to check out my hip and back. Perhaps he could x-ray the hip and back to see how bad it was and what my prognosis would be. But too, there was the remote chance that the cholesterol medication I was on could be causing the back and hip pain. I didn't think that was the case, but, no harm checking it out.

So there I was getting my X-ray results and wondering how much of myself I would have left for the rest of my life. I do a lot of physical stuff. Lots would have to change if I didn't have a good back anymore. Other people might have to do simple things for me like changing the water bottle in the water cooler or carrying in an arm full of firewood. Things didn't look that good but I was ready for it. Sometimes I would see photos of people running or biking and think that they don't know or fully appreciate how blessed they are. Of course, until this, I appreciated the ability, but I had had no idea how precious that ability was. I thanked God for all those great swim; those great rides, the runs, the events. Praise God, I had been so richly blessed. Now, I was ready for the other-life.

But just before the day faded and the music stopped, Light came into my room. The doctor told me that my back and hip were fine. There was no skeletal damage. That made me feel a lot better. The disability and discomfort might now be managed and relieved eventually. Good news.

A few days later my blood test came back showing that it could be the side effects of my cholesterol medication that were causing the pains I had had for almost two months. Immediately I got off the medication and went totally whole food, plant based on my diet. I had been mostly plant based, but now I took the "mostly" out of the equation. And, I took simple sugar off the table as well. My training had been so light and sporadic for past weeks that I felt pretty sure that it was too late to catch up on my ironman schedule . Besides, for a few days, I was still hurting.

But, day by day the pain began to abate. I could sleep all night again. I could walk without a certain amount of pain again. I could do certain exercises again, I could change my water bottle again, bring in firewood again and The lights got brighter and brighter and starting to wonder and even hope again. After a week and a half, I noticed I had more clarity in my thinking, shorter recovery time between workout, less overall fatigue, and an unexplainable baseline joy. I was beginning to feel very good.

Now, two and a half weeks without cholesterol medication and I feel great! I guess I had accepted the way I felt for years as good and forgotten how feeling really good can be. I feel better than I have in ten years or more. Funny, ten years is about how long I have been taking cholesterol medication. But, I can't be sure about any of this. I just know, praise God, nothing hurts and I feel good and capable. I have trained for the last eight days and I don't feel unduly fatigued. Now I can swim, bike, and run again. Again, I am one of those people that I envied a few weeks ago. Oh sure, this could all be is just one great big head game, a placebo of sorts. But I don't think so. I have done head games before and this feels like the real thing. And besides, who cares? It's working. I am living "the life I have imagined" and praising God for it.

Now what? I prayed. He has taken me to this place. Where do I go from here? What do I do? Do I take the different cholesterol medication the doctor is prescribing, or do I hold on to this wonderful place I am at and take my chances on having a stroke or heart attack? Research I found suggested that intense exercise may just exacerbate statin side effects. If that were the case, taking stains and training intensely might not be a good idea.

I prayed. He answered. For the next four weeks I am fast forwarding my training. I know it is not good training theory but so what? What do I have to loose? Two and a half weeks ago, I was injured and disabled and ready to quit. And, to take on this challenge to catch up on my ironman training would be quite the challenge and adventure both of which lights my fire. The goal will be to get back to the original schedule by the 5th week. So far my endurance and fitness has been fine, but I don't know how it will be in the longer sessions to come. I will stay off the cholesterol medication until then. If I can't get the fitness back to the level the schedule requires by four weeks, I will give up on this ironman. If I can reach the level to do the ironman training on that 5th week then I will continue on into ironman training. I will stay off the cholesterol medication until after the event. Then, I will get my bloodwork done again and make a prayerful decision then on the medication.

For these moments, these days of hope in my heart and for the health and vitality in my body, I thank God. And when these days are finally over, I will praise Him for all the close moments like I am having right now.