Checking In

It has been a while since I last posted here at 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

6 thoughts on “Checking In”

  1. Vicki,
    I think you were diagnosed with Ultimate Competitor instead of Ulcerative Colitis. CONGRATS to you on everything you have/are doing for yourself and for everyone else with UC. Friggin amazing you are in so many ways. Its pretty cool that someone like you exists to battle this disease out, and to not be scared to try things a second time. We need more of you in this solar system!

    For me and my family, its been a real teeth grinder watching and reading your stories over the past year. I love bike riding too(more on the fun weekend side) and although I’ve been out of the saddle for a long while, somewhat felt like it was right there(in a colitis sort of way) via your stories. Thx for being real with everything.

    I can’t wait to copy and paste the crap out of your stories address to the group’s status board, I’m sure all the others there will be pumped to read about your status.

    Congrats again on all you’ve done. You’re truly one of a kind!!!!


  2. Hey Vicki, we’ll be watching to see you be the first cyclist with UC to finish first. Great news that you’re feeling better.
    I notice you’re from Ottawa, I’m followed by Dr. Saloojee and really like him. (I know Adam – I was thinking I should put him in the Dr. review ;)

  3. Wow – thanks for the amazing comments! I read them out loud to my husband yesterday because your kind words really made my day.
    Inspiration comes in many forms – so I thank you for your inspiration.

  4. I’m not on the SCD diet. I’m an endurance athlete and the SCD diet doesn’t work for me. I take Imuran, Asacol and VSL#3.

  5. Hi Vicki,

    I just wanted to thank you for posting your stories. I’m newly diagnosed with UC and my slight flare turned into a hospitalized major flare. I’ve always been active with various activities and it’s so frustrating to go from being able to randomly go complete an Olympic length triathlon to not being able to jog a mile (and being told by the Dr. to just rest and not work out). When I’m finally able to work out again, I know it will be slow going. It will be so difficult to not go out and try to train as hard as I was used to!

    It’s great to hear that a UC’er is such a competitive athlete. Reading your stories about training, resting when needed, and your ambitious goal gives me hope that I can get back to (and maybe even better!) than I used to be.

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