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Monday, April 7, 2014

Building Momentum...

It's been one week since my last post in which I'd just finished a very long run for the first time in over a year and a half.

My knee hated me for 2-3 days after the 42 mile effort on 3/29 so I was only able to muster 10 total  mid-week miles, but on Saturday I was feeling pretty fresh again so I got out with a couple of friends and managed a hilly 20 miler through the foothills of Colorado Springs with about 2500ft of gain.

With the vertical, this 20 miler took about the same toll on my legs as the pancake flat 42 miles did, but all-in-all I'm feeling pretty healthy, and just being able to run longer distances again is encouraging. If I can manage to string a few more consecutive weeks together, this could be the start of an exciting summer.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't Call it a Comeback (Been Here for Years)

Last time I posted, I was proudly announcing my first 3 mile run post-surgery. A lot has changed since then...

I've gained 26 pounds since November, and am now at a healthy 154-155lbs thanks to gallons and gallons of chocolate milk. Going along with this new found weight is a level of strength I've never experienced in the past. So while I can now do pullups and pushups like nobody's business, running & cardio-wise I am truly starting from scratch again.

This has forced a totally new mindset as it relates to running, specifically, I've decided to start counting PR's as pre-surgery and post-surgery.

Otherwise, it would be too depressing starting from scratch again (athletically), trying to improve on where I was at in 2011-2012. Since I'm not going to be running any sub-2:50 marathons, sub-7 hour 50 milers, or sub-15 hour 100 milers anytime soon, I need to (and do) appreciate every little accomplishment during this comeback period.

Case(s) in point:
I ran the St Patty's Day 5k a couple weeks ago. It took me 20:40... NEW PS (post surgery) PR!!!
I ran a 5 mile run in 37 minutes last week. NEW PS PR!!!

It's the little victories along the way that make getting back in the saddle easier.

This last weekend was no exception. While I've not run anything over 12 miles long since the operation, upon discovering a local 24 hour timed lap event last weekend, I decided to sign up morning of, and see just how far off of my old ultra form I really am. The results were surprising...

Running into a fellow runner who was making his return in 2014 after battling injuries for the last year, we pushed each other for the first 20 miles of the day, finishing just a few minutes over 3 hours. NEW PS PR!!!

After that, I was content calling it a day, so I decided to walk for a while and enjoy the weather a little longer. That turned into me deciding a marathon would be awesome. After being out there a little over 4 hours, I hit the 26.2 mile mark. NEW PS PR!

At this point I wanted to quit, and could have done so unapologetically, HOWEVER the thought of trying to hit ultra-distance again was too great, and I kept alternating walking/running. Around 5:25 in, I had gone 50k. Booyah! NEW PS PR.

Once again, I should have quit. NOW the reason to continue was strictly me being overly competitive and wanting to beat a couple of friends who were there (who will remain unnamed). Long story short, I ended up running 41.82 miles around Palmer Lake on Saturday (51 laps). It took me 7 hours and 24 minutes. While much slower than I used to be, this has given me the psychological boost I needed to get back into it. I never thought running 7+ hours around a gravel hamster-wheel would be so rewarding...



Still don't have a 2014 race plan, other than now wanting to finish a 50 miler... any 50 miler. If my health continues to hold up in 2015, I can start thinking about longer & faster races, but for now I couldn't be more content with my fitness and overall health!

Brooks


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Good News?!

It's hard to figure out if this is awesome news or hard fact I'm about to describe, but either way, big developments have been made regarding my health since my last post.

Two weeks ago, I went under the knife and had surgery for my ongoing GI problems. At the end of the day, I had 16" of my colon removed, along with my appendix and a short section of my small intestine. The surgery went as planned, albeit, my belly had to be cut open slightly more than planned due to there being more colonic inflammation  than expected.

The following two days were absolute hell, and I was on an "ice-chip" diet during this period. In all, I went without food for almost 4 days. The pain & discomfort during this time were horrible, and the pain medications that were being injected into me were, without a doubt, the worst part. I was nauseous, dizzy, my eyes were crossing, I was choking on an inflamed uvula, and I couldn't speak due to the severity of my dry mouth. Not at my best form...

However, after a rough Monday and Tuesday, I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel by Wednesday. I got out of bed, spent about 30 minutes walking around, and no longer needed pain meds to tolerate the discomfort (thank god...).

We still had no idea what was causing all my problems, but we knew that the damaged section of my colon was gone...

Fast forward 11 days, and I finally receive the news I've been so desperately seeking since January: Conclusively, pathology shows I have a sever case of Crohn's disease. Done! Do I care that this is a serious chronic disease?? Nope! I have the contentment of knowing what has made my entire 2013 unbearable, and can now start treatment, and the slowing of my demise. While struggles still remain, I haven't been this happy in months!

Fast forward: I went for a 3 mile hill run in the Garden of the Gods yesterday... 13 days after surgery. My docs might not be stoked to hear this, but it was necessary for my mental and physical progression. It proved to me that I'm on the road to recovery. Enough said.

Obviously, I'm looking forward to future decisions regarding what my ongoing treatment will be, but an accurate diagnosis is the start. No need to shed tears over water under the bridge... here's to 2014! I might suck at my old sport of choice, but here's to a comeback.

Brooks

Monday, October 28, 2013

Surgery

It's been two months since I last posted, and I wish I had better news to share.

I spent 4 days in the hospital in late August to both improve my lung function and try to diagnose the worsening stomach issues. 4 hours of therapy a day, another colonoscopy, and a PICC line in my arm for two weeks and it looked like I might be doing better. While the pathology was still inconclusive, my condition was at least narrowed down to either Fibrosing Colonopathy or severe Chrohns.

At the end of the day, the images from my last colonoscopy were shocking even to the panel of GI specialists who we're working with me. Everything was mangled, swollen, ulcered, and nearly impassible with the scope but at least we were narrowing it down. There was strong reason to believe that switching to a new digestive enzyme might be all it takes to improve my condition.

The first 4 weeks out of the hospital nearly had me believing this was the case, too. I regained my appetite, put on 6-8 of the pounds I'd lost, and had lots of energy again. Unfortunately, this was all short lived. I began worsening again after about 5 weeks and have since had all my original symptoms in full force...

Fast forward to today: I had a follow up appointment with the GI specialists at University Hospital today, and the decision was made that my condition is not going to improve without first surgically resectioning my bowels. Basically, we need to remove my appendix and half my colon before we can even begin treating the root cause of my pain, fatigue and weight loss. Once this is done, they will have a large enough tissue sample to conclusively diagnose the root cause of all my issues.

Surgery is scheduled for next Monday and I'll be in the hospital for a total of 5 days. After that it will be at least a month before I'm able to attempt any form of exercise. While this is a bleak concept, the thought of getting better and not being in pain so frequently more than outweighs the negative.

On a positive side note, yours truly is featured in a recent documentary that was released which highlights the stories of several CF athletes who are using exercise to overcome the disease. I hope I can return to that form again someday soon. You can watch the whole documentary here: http://www.livingxtreme.org

Better news to come!

Brooks


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Worsening...

Last time I posted, I'd just had my first colonoscopy and was optimistic of biopsy results that would explain what was going on in my gut, why I was so fatigued, and why I had lost so much weight.

Since then a lot has unfolded, but I'm in the worst condition of my life, and the health problems are piling up. Because of the inability to fix my severe stomach issues, I have not run to speak of, in 2013. After this many months of inactivity, my lungs have also deteriorated. The scary reality of what CF can do to a person is setting in for the first time since my only scare of serious lung infection in early 2004. My lung function has deteriorated to the point where I can't complete a sub-10 minute mile, and I vomit after about 15 minutes due to choking on my own mucus.

Since the stomach issues (thought to maybe be ulcerative colitis) haven't been fixed or improved, I now am fatigued all the time with no appetite, I crap bloody diarrhea 6-10 times a day, and I weigh 129 lbs (from 145).

I'm going to be hospitalized for a CF "tune-up" for the first time in my life next week. I hope this helps the lungs, but I'm still frustrated that the underlying GI issues haven't been fixed and are worsening.

To top things off, it's also looking like I might have Type 1 diabetes. This will be confirmed/denied next week when I'm in the hospital.

Good times, huh? I need to get this all behind me so my posts can be about epic adventures, and not so self loathing :)

Fingers crossed for better news next time I write.

Brooks

Monday, April 22, 2013

Health Issues

Before I dive into some of the details of what I've been dealing with since the beginning of the year, please note that I'm doing okay from a CF-related standpoint. The lungs are doing just fine, it's some other areas that aren't holding up as well.

My issues all started in early January when it felt like I never had any energy, wasn't seeing any improvements in my running (despite running every day), and could easily sleep 14 hours a day if I let myself. Additionally, I was losing weight.

I finally went to the doc to see what was causing this "chronic fatigue" and after running the gamut of blood tests, he decided that anemia was the culprit. This totally made sense and I was happy to finally know why I was feeling like crap all the time. It was decided that I would need a colonoscopy to see if there was any internal bleeding that was causing the anemia.

In meeting with a couple of specialists prior to the procedure, they didn't agree that I was anemic, and after they showed me my the blood-count numbers, I could see that my original doctor was just grasping at straws when making that diagnosis. It was still a good idea to have the colonoscopy, as well as an endoscopy in order to look for any abnormalities in my digestive track that could be causing the weight loss and fatigue.

Last Monday I went in for both procedures, and when reviewing the findings with my doctor immediately afterwards, I was shown where there are several severe stenosis in my large intestine, a couple of which were nearly impassible with the doctors scope. These areas are blocked with bulging lumps of aliens-esque weirdness. Hard to tell if they were cysts/tumors or just massive swelling. Additionally there were some funky black marks on my colon wall that couldn't be identified.

These items alarmed my GI doc enough that he wanted me to go straight to the hospital for a follow up CT scan and so I could meet with a surgeon, if need be. This sense of urgency was lost at the hospital when - after being admitted for 2 days - the doctors finally release me saying: "CT scans aren't really good at showing soft-tissue imaging, we can't proceed without your biopsy results". Geez. It would have been nice to know this before being admitted to the hospital... not looking forward to that bill.

So as it sits now, I'm awaiting biopsy results in hopes of finally finding out what the heck is wrong with me. I'm tired of feeling like absolute crap all the time, and regardless of the diagnosis - even if it is Crohn's or cancer - I need to know what's wrong with me so I can start taking steps towards getting right again. Right now I have lost 11 lbs, and am dealing with incessant stabbing pains in my stomach. I was supposed to have the biopsy results on Friday, but I still haven't heard anything as I write this.

Brooks

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

CF Documentary

In January 2012 Holly and I were interviewed and filmed for an upcoming documentary on individuals with CF (as well as their significant others) who are thriving and accomplishing incredible feats despite dealing with the disease.

After recently checking on the progress of the movie, I discovered it is now in post-production, and the full trailer can be seen here:

http://www.livingxtreme.org/

Additionally, here is the poster for the film. Why does this picture look so familiar?!



Lastly, I've updated my race schedule for 2013. My next blog post will explain why it is so empty... not the best news to share, unfortunately.

Brooks