"One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time." – John Wannamaker, United States businessman.
I love this quote.. but right now I feel like I have a huge mountain to climb and I'm having trouble taking those small steps. My emotions are all over the place. One minute I feel euphoric, the next frustrated and demoralised. Normal responses to what I've gone through I suppose, but I feel like I'm re-building my life from scratch.
It's not just basic fitness that I've lost, but my confidence and ability in all aspects of my life. Deep down I know I'll get there (wherever 'there' might end up being) but it's just tough right now. Luckily my lovely hubby is incredibly supportive, the kids are, well, just keeping me busy, and my friends and mum are all there ready to listen to me moan or provide an encouraging word. I'm lucky.. some people go through this alone.
Fitness and competitive sport has always been a huge part of my life. It's who I AM. Not just a hobby, but my career, passion, my social circle and my life. One of my motivations for having this surgery was so I could get that life back.. but it's going to take a while. Firstly my body composition has changed beyond all recognition.. having gone from exercising 10-12 hours per week for an Ironman, I turned into a sick couch potato overnight and then spent 14 months that way. That meant I've gained body fat (lots) and lost muscle (even more). Years of carefully constructed training plans, core stability work and good nutrition were wiped out in the blink of an eye! Still.. I'm a girl who likes a challenge, so I just have to keep focused on the mountain and edge my way up it. But jeezzz.. this is one bloody big mountain.
As an 'ileostomate' (what a word) I have certain challenges above and beyond the bag hanging around my stomach. The colon normally absorbs electrolytes (sodium and potassium) from your diet, but now mine is bypassed I am at risk of dehydration, so I have to take additional salt in my diet and ensure I keep my fluid intake high. Nuun tablets dissolved in a water bottle seem to be doing the trick - and have the added benefit of making me feel like an athlete again.
Secondly without a colon and only a tiny hole for 'food' to come out of the other end, I have to make sure I chew everything to within an inch of it's life and avoid things like sweetcorn, stringy celery etc in case it causes a blockage. A blueberry that I ate on Monday (accidently whole) made a reappearance in the bag on Tuesday still in the same state.. as my son says, it's fascinating and gross at the same time!
And thirdly, I'm at risk of hernia around the stoma - one of my greatest fears. So I need to get to grips with some serious core and postural work if I'm going to avoid it and get back on the roads without injury.
My good friends Mitch and Elle at Stride UK in Brighton are going to devise a strength and conditioning programme for me to do just that. I also need to get my nutrition in hand. I need more protein as I heal and I have to address this discrepancy in body fat! but I guess that will take time and I'm hoping will happen gradually with better nutrition and some exercise.
There's also the small matter of being able to run for anything more than 5 minutes at a time without gasping for breath, but it's still early days (4 weeks from surgery on Monday) so I just need to be patient and keep inching up that mountain. One step at a time..