If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Epiphany Moment

A few weeks ago, I had decided to not talk about my head-on collision with Graves Disease because I figured most people don't really want to read about it.  Well, I changed my mind.  After scouring the Internet for information on endurance athletes with Graves, I discovered that there isn't ANY information out there connecting the two.  I surmise that this could be good and bad - good, in that not too many people who enjoy endurance related activities have it; bad, in that endurance athletes who develop it are no longer endurance athletes.  That is my fear.  Hopefully we can contribute a little info to aid someone who may eventually be in search of it like we've been.

I had a few weeks where I felt exceptionally good, around the last of April and the first week of May, where I thought that perhaps I was starting to see a true improvement in my physical well-being, i.e. beginning to regain some of the strength and endurance that I had lost, beginning last fall.  Unfortunately, the past few weeks have been a slow slide backwards, whereby I've been scratching and clawing to hold onto my 'feeling good' gains to no avail.  Doc lowered my anti-thyroid med dose over Easter by half, based upon my improving blood results.  There is still a lot of extra thyroid hormone poison coursing through my body (the thyroid stores up tons of extra) so Doc told me to 'hang tight' and assured me that the ride on the roller coaster will level out.  I have been moping around in the doldrums the past few weeks, following the weeks where I had a wonderful glimpse of what COULD be, physically speaking.  It almost felt like a cruel joke.  I am slow, weak, and tired.  I have no capability, right now, of anything endurance related. Bummed big time.

But all that changed this past Wednesday when something 'clicked' in my mind and heart and I have done an about-face in terms of my attitude.  Steve and I were at the monthly newsletter stuffing for Pikes Peak Roadrunners and afterward, chatted briefly with John from The Colorado Running Company.  It seems that John happened upon our blog a while back and had learned about my Graves diagnosis.  Unbeknownst to him, our brief conversation resulted in a pep talk and also a swift kick in the pants.  He shared stories about a couple of our local running speedsters who were sidelined with debilitating conditions for several years.  He then said it was OK to only do what I can do.  If all I can do is hike, right now, then hike and be satisfied with it.  If I can only run 5 miles without collapsing in exhaustion, then be happy with it.  If it's 10 miles, well, then good.  Just don't be so unhappy and so dissatisfied if the body isn't able to do more.  Be happy with where I am and whatever I am able to do for the moment. Don't push for 'that little bit more'.  He probably didn't realize what he was doing for me but it was what I needed to hear, so thanks John!  I guess I needed PERMISSION to go easy on my body.  It has been beat-up and abused by Graves for 6 months and I all I have been trying to do is push and PUNISH it even more, for being 'BAD'.  It was one of those true Epiphany Moments.

The fact of the matter is:  I can run.  Not fast and not as far I would prefer, but I can run.  I can ride my bike.  Again, not as fast and not as far as I would like but I can do it.  I rode 25 miles this past Monday and 22 miles today.  I ran 10 miles and hiked 7 miles yesterday (Steve ran 19 miles) - it was too much, just call me a bone-head - so I will be making sure to cut back on my running routes for a few weeks or a month - whatever it takes - because it's OK and I'm good with it (at least momentarily).  I truly am thankful for what I am able to do right now - and that's not just blowing 'feel good smoke' at you - it's true!  :-)

So yes, you will be hearing more about the Graves thing because, reality is, it is a part of our lives forevermore.  It is woven into the fabric of my being, like it or not.  I happened across Michaela's site this past week.  Michaela just graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder and was diagnosed with Graves Disease last fall.  She and a couple of friends are getting ready to embark on a 3000 mile bike ride to raise funds and awareness for Graves.  We exchanged a few quick emails this past week and it's nice to be able to talk with someone who is in the same situation and understands the challenges of dealing with and healing from this disease.

Some of the challenge, too, is the fact that Steve and I have always enjoyed doing our riding and running together - it's who we are.  So we both have had to adjust to this - we are still doing these things together but in a little different capacity.  I want him to keep going and keep pursuing but sometimes he wants to wait for me.  I don't want him to wait for me.  It is what it is.  Hopefully, soon, I will catch up.  Just some time and lots of patience............

Fingers crossed, pictures tomorrow!

Happy Trails for the rest of the weekend!

Here's some fun, feel-good music that revs me up!!!


Jill said...

It's so so sooo hard, Kathleen, to take someone who's an endurance junkie and tell them they need to stop; our bodies don't know the word and as I posted once on my blog, it's hard to say yes when God has other plans. You DO get to run and you DO get to ride and many cannot....that's how I'm trying to swallow this slooooow progress back to the road and I'm sure you will have bouts of frustration along the way (me too!) but you are one strong, determined chick and I know this thing will be kicked soon and you'll be out there for hours on end doing what your heart loves so much! Until then, let's go for a 3 mile run at a 12 min/mile and then have lunch after :).


Jennifer said...

You are so strong! And such an inspiration. I don't think I can ever feel negative again, and if I do I'll think of you and how you are turning the tide and building positive energy! Keep up the good work Kathleen!

Footfeathers said...

You're a super tough chick! This is like a big 100 mile run where you have the worse and best wrapped into a contained event. Ride it out and look forward to feeling good. You've got Steve, your family, and your friends, who will always be there for you no matter the pace you run, ride, or walk.
Take care and be good to yourself.

Knuckledragger said...

Admittedly, I know nothing about Graves disease. Ignorance is no excuse - but when I read and sort of get an idea of how much it affects you physically and emotionally, it makes me question (not the first time) why bad things happen to good people. I don't know you, nor you (and Steve) know me - but from reading your blog (and notes on mine) - it's clear to see that you are good people and will be good people. That isn't measured by what we can (or cannot) do: run, bike, hike or whatever. Rather, it is measured by our faith, courage and trust. Be strong, enjoy what and who you have, do what you can and celebrate that. I wish you both the best. Craig H

Anonymous said...

So Kathleen, my summer is officially starting this week. How about next Monday on your day off we go for a ride into Manitou, take a nice leisurely rest and grab a Mate?:) let me know if that would work out with your schedule :)

HappyTrails said...

Jill, Jennifer, Tim, and Craig - Thank you for your kind and encouraging words-they mean a lot!

Jill - You are ON for a run and lunch. How about a ride and lunch? See Tammy's comment. You can join us for some cycling fun, too, now that you are so well rounded- a runner and a cyclist! :-)

Tim - We all need to get together soon-you and Steve can get in a great run, and, if I can't do much of a run, maybe Pippit and I can hike. Hopefully I can run. Or sort of run. At least part of the way. :-)

Tammy - Let's do it! Maybe we can hit a few other riding hotspots while we are out??? Mmmm, Mate'. I will email you. Congrats on a great job at Sageburner! :-)

T Z said...

Kathleen, It's comforting that God puts someone in our lives at just the right time to share just a little something that we need to hear. he is faithful to do that. (I think God is a runner anyway, and you'll be back cuz He wants you to run long.)

While I have never had a setback quite like yours, I do have a slump every so often. I'm dealing with one now. I have gone 2-3 weeks without a good run, and I'd love to have even a quality 3-miler. But this morning, I went for an easy 5 with lots of stops and chatting with friends. I had a good somersault fall, and saw a copperhead. A few new trail running friends were enjoying the leisurely pace, laughed at my fall, and screamed about seeing the snake. When I finished, I had a big goofy grin. It was a good outing, and I am also thankful.

HappyTrails said...

Ken - Yep, God does bring certain people in and out of our lives at the right times - for little things and big things. I, too, believe He is a runner- trail and road (remember, 'streets of gold') and a cyclist. No doubt. We think we have amazing trails down here - wait til we pass through the Pearly Gates - trails beyond our imagination! You know..... :-)

I am grinning with you on your day. Everyone goes through down times. Just be patient, enjoy the change of pace with the 'off' time, and you'll be back to enjoy the summer before you know it. You will come back fresh and ready to roll.

Give Dana a big hug from us!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

sorry guys I have not been a good blogging friend of late. Not just to you but to everyone. I have just been busy of late. I need to get caught up.

K - thanks for this post. i do have to say riding over 20 miles in a day, really is pretty good. Running 10 miles or even 5 - very good as well. I agree with the advice given. There is a time and a season for everyone and every activity. This maybe apples and oranges since this is a overall life thing with Graves - not just running. I know your disease can be very painful and frustrating.

Yet, even those whom have to deal with a lifetime of repeated injuries (like myself) need to realize we cannot punnish our bodies for speeds, distances and feats we cannot do when we were in our 20's. It used to frustrate me when I would read a runner gripe and complain about doing 10:00 or 12:00 minute mile paces as awful and not a "real" runners pace. When at my point in life I am very happy with something in that range.

I really feel the best run, is any run we can do for that moment or day. Some day for me, I know the best run for me at any moment - will be a good brisk walk instead. The most important thing is we try the best we can with what we have at any given moment in life or season. Right now all you are doing is pretty amazing to me!! Thanks for the inspiration K!!!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

I love this community that blogging creates. Kathleen - I'm so happy that you have found a new sense of peace with the trial that lays before you. The years of running have taught you to be strong, to never give in, and never give up. I know you will be FINE, because you are strong and you are a runner. Things may be different, but you have the strength to make the best out of it.

Thanks for sharing the story and thanks for the song. I've already been over to I-tunes and added it. Strong Mind! Strong Heart!

HappyTrails said...

Slomo - Thank you, as always, for your kind and thoughtful words. My 'malady' is truly small and trivial compared to others who are fighting real and far more serious battles of life. I have to remember to keep it all in perspective.

Ginny - Thank you - You are a dear. Glad you enjoyed Toby. He and his crew have got to be tired after their concerts, holy cow! 'Tonight' is a true feel good song!
Strong mind, strong heart, indeed!

Meg said...

I read your post yesterday and couldn't think of what to say, something that would be uplifting and helpful. I realized that you really have found that place already, that peace and comfort of knowing that you can only do what you can do and that's enough for right now. It's amazing that John crossed your path at just the right time, that was truly a divine moment.

Keep cherishing your surroundings, your Steve and your moments and moving forward as you continue to bless us with your honesty and big heart!
BIG hugs and thanks!!

Ace said...

Keep on speaking the truth in love! We want to hear how things are going, and are inspired by your resilience and faith. Any steps, any runs are good runs, and even better when they are on happy trails!

ajh said...

Talk away about Graves Disease. I am happy to listen. I am glad you have found someone to email and talk to about it that knows just what you are talking about. I am glad you had your epiphany moment and hope it will help in the coming days, weeks, months whatever is needed.
Enjoy that beauty around you and those temps you are so blessed with. It must be frustrating to not be able to do what you want but enjoy what you can do as much as possible.

Iris said...

Thanks for this post! I sooo needed to hear it. Best wishes in your recovery.

ajh said...

My duathlon is bike 15, run 5 and that will be enough! Any hints? I am stalking last year's results and going to find out who the last person is and make sure they have signed up for this year so I can be "near" someone.

Laura@Run_Eat_Date said...

I really think it is awesome that you continue to share your story with us...and it shows your grit and integrity to do so. I'm happy that you are focused on what you can do....and believe what ever else you are destined to do will come with time. Thank you for sharing your challenges and triumphs!

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