It has been a while since I last posted here at ihaveuc.com. The last time I posted, life was not going so well. I was dealing with a rotten flare – the first really serious flare I’ve ever had. Lets just say that last flare really made me realize the difference between a major and minor flare.
I’m back home now in Ottawa after my three months of living in Belgium. This was my fourth winter in Belgium, with the intent of focusing on racing my cyclo-cross bike. Well, this did not happen as I had planned. I got sick. Ended up in the hospital and had to stop racing and training.
Well, I’m happy to tell you that I’m back on the bike. Don’t worry, I’m taking things slow. I’ve got a new understanding of how rotten ulcerative colitis can be and I’ve learned the hard way that I have to listen to my body. There will be no more training and racing through flares – I did this last spring and summer with my body finally giving up on me. So this time I’ve told my coach, my doctor and my husband that if I get sick again, I’ll do things differently.
First of all, I’ll call my doctor right away. I won’t wait two weeks or even a month before calling. Yes, I have done this in the past, but I won’t do this anymore. Second, I’ll tell my husband that I am sick. In the past I’ve tried to hide this so that he wouldn’t worry about me. Now I know it is more important to tell him what is going on and to let him help me. Third, I’ll tell my coach how I’m really feeling and will agree to stop training when my body is not at its best.
This might seem like common sense. Well, I suppose it is. But for me, this is a big step forward. I’ve always liked to believe that ulcerative colitis doesn’t negatively impact my life or slow me down. But there are times when I have to stop what I’m doing and admit that I’m sick and the only way I’ll get better is with help from my doctor and letting my body heal.
I’m completely done with the steroids. Yay! Now I’m just on Imuran and Asacol. These two medicines seem to be working well for me right now. My only concern is a rebound flare that seems to happen for me about two weeks after I’ve finished the steroid taper. I’m crossing my fingers that this doesn’t happen. I’m also taking VSL#3 – I managed to buy this probiotic at a very reasonable price in Belgium. Here in Canada, VSL#3 costs $200 for one box of ten sachets….
I’m back on the weekly iron infusions. I’m no longer able to take over the counter vitamins and minerals – apparently some studies have shown that these can make ulcerative colitis symptoms worse. The iron infusions usually go smoothly with no pain or hassle. Well, I had my first iron infusion last week and I learned that my veins still aren’t healed from my last ulcerative colitis flare. I ended up with collapsed veins and I guess it takes a while for veins to heal. After trying two different veins, the nurse administering the iron infusion decided that we would try again this week.
The one big side effect I’m still dealing with is fatigue. It seems some nights I can’t keep my eyes open past 8:30. I’m guessing this is because I’ve started training again and my body is still in the process of healing itself. So I’m listening and if I want to sleep, I sleep. If I’m too tired to train, I don’t train.
I’ve decided to give myself one more season of serious competitive cyclo-cross racing. I’d really really like to race in the 2012 World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Koksijde, Belgium so I’m putting all my efforts in this direction. Being able to have one more strong season and finishing it on a high note with racing in the biggest race there is, would be an accomplishment for me on so many levels. I realized when I was sick how much I love racing and riding my bike. I’m not ready to stop and want to give it another go. I suppose I have ulcerative colitis to thank for keeping my competitive fires burning and for showing me what is important to me.
In another note, I have written a book. My book is titled: An Unlikely Elite. This book tells of my journey that took me to racing at the 2010 World Cyclo-Cross Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. My book is available for free in EPUB and PDF formats. I have asked people to make a donation to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada if they like the book. I’ve set up a PayPal donate button on my web site and on the site you’ll find the links to download my book. Let me know what you think of my book – all comments and feedback are appreciated.
Well, that’s all I have for now. Thanks for the great posts and comments – this site really is a source of inspiration for me. I don’t know anyone else with ulcerative colitis so this web site really is a great support system for me.
Vicki’s story is now entered into the 2011 Ulcerative Colitis Writing Contest!!! You Can Join too, click here for details