Saturday, 17 March 2012

'Fall seven times, stand up eight'. Japanese Proverb

I haven't had a second to breathe over the last few weeks, let alone write this blog.  So apologies.. there's a lot to catch up on.

After my mini-meltdown in my last blog post, lovely hubby took the 'unsubtle' hint and decided that a holiday was in order. A proper lie down and flop holiday, not one involving mountain bikes, climbing mountains or running events which is more normal for us! So next week we're off to St Lucia and I simply can't wait.  My plan is to cover myself in sun cream, open a book and not move for 7 days. 

The thought of a beach holiday however did send me into a bit of a tailspin. This will be the first time we've had a 'hot' holiday since I had my ileostomy, and as any woman might appreciate, the 'swimsuit' and 'bag' issue was the first thing on my mind. My string bikinis and hipster shorts have been ceremoniously dumped in the bin (with a sob) and I hit the shops for a flattering swimsuit that would hide the bag and give me a bit of beach confidence. Hmm.. not an easy task. For any fellow ileostomy ladies out there who might be vaguely interested, I settled on a couple of Sea Folly one piece suits with a double layer and some gathers over the front. I even managed to find a bikini! It's got a cute little skirt and hides the bag brilliantly (imagine the sort of thing a 2 year old might wear!). As my stoma is quite low on my stomach, I can just about get away with it if I fold the top of the bag over. It's not a fantastic look, but it'll do. If I get brave I'll post some photos when I get back..

Vanity aside, more serious issues around travel insurance and potential health problems are also on my mind. I had to upgrade my travel insurance and disclose the ileostomy as a medical condition which isn't covered under the normal policy. This is the first time we've been abroad since my surgery, and the thought of needing any medical treatment whilst on holiday is a horrible one for anyone, but having an ileostomy, increases the risk of something going haywire. Dehydration, food blockages and complications with the stoma are all real - although unlikely - issues which could occur. It had better behave itself as I have no intention of ending up in a St Lucian hospital! I've also heard horror stories of people being body searched at the airport and asked to remove their bag. GULP! although to be honest, it would be more traumatic for the person asking to see what was 'in the bag'.. but I have a neat little card explaining  why I have the bag, what it does and why I can't remove it! Let them try..

In my last post I was having a big old moan about my knee which was causing a lot of pain, stopping me running and there was suspicion it was a meniscus tear. Well.. BIG update. The MRI scan didn't show an obvious meniscus tear so the Surgeon sent me off for 6 weeks of intense physiotherapy and then if no difference he'll do an arthroscopy. The physio got her hands on me, taped the knee and set me an insane amount of rehab to do at home. Let me tell you.. an arthroscopy would have been the easy option. If you don't know what a foam roller is, let me enlighten you. It's like a giant rolling pin made of solid foam - a tool of torture. You roll your leg up and down and release all the tension and lumps in the muscle and tissue. It's agony. But it seems to be working as the knee is 60% improved. The taping on the knee has offset the pain elsewhere into my ITB and hip, which, whilst annoying, is good news. It means it's likely to be a biomechanical issue after all and caused by surgery and all the postural changes since, especially in my hip flexor and glute.  Which just means lots of hard work in the gym, on the roller and enduring pain on the physio's couch. Better than more surgery though and gets me a step closer to running again!

So without wanting to count my chickens, I'm hoping that it might be better by 8th July, so I can do the British 10km on behalf of Ostomy Lifestyle. A fantastic stoma charity which I want to get involved in. They're all about supporting people who have stomas and encouraging them to live life to the full. A couple of my running group have already signed up and it would be great to be there with them. A reasonable target I think?  

In the meantime, I'm keeping my fitness ticking over on the bike and last weekend hit the big 40 miles barrier! my longest ride since June 2010. Each ride I feel stronger and fitter. The hills get a little easier and I feel more confident with my bike handling skills and less fragile. I've been riding with my friend Steve, and together we're building the distance and it's great to have support and company. 

Anyway.. I'm now 8 months post surgery. I'm not as fit as I'd like or back where I wanted to be. I foolishly hoped I'd be able to run the marathon in April and even an ultra in June. Ha! Well I'm learning (and accepting) that it's going to take much longer than I ever thought. The physio is fantastic and very supportive but keeps saying 'don't underestimate what you've been through' and keeps telling me off for pushing too hard. My version of taking it easy clearly isn't the same as hers! I am however making progress. It's a bumpy old road, but I'm slowly getting there. Wherever 'there' might turn out to be is anyone's guess.
This lovely little Japanese proverb sums it up perfectly.. 'Fall seven times, stand up eight'.  

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