As athletes, we tend to be very in tune with our bodies. If I only learned one thing from this experience, it would be, "Listen to your body when it is trying to tell you something, damnit!"
It all began back in August. My signs were all very non-specific: fatigue, mild power loss, bloating, and mild abdominal discomfort. I thought the tiredness was due to an unbelievable brutal TransRockies and the GI issues due to the Paleo diet. Coach backed my training off and my doctor could not find anything wrong on physical exam and routine bloodwork.
Although I was well rested for SM100, my body just didn't feel good that day and the legs weren't zippy. Even Danielle made the comment that my pace was a bit slow.
Fast forward to October and the Pisgah Stage Race. Once again, I was well rested. So well rested I was almost fearful of losing some fitness. Days 1 and 2 were good. However, my body just died on Days 3 and 4. Both Coach and I were like, "WTF?!?"
Soon afterwards, my symptoms increased in intensity, I began having some bowel irregularity, and I gained about 5 pounds. I began to resemble Buddha. I began thinking about everything from pregnancy to ovarian cancer. So I went back to the doctor for more tests.
Bloodwork nothing, ultrasound nothing. Mind you, docs like to do one test at a time so this was agonizingly slow and my patience was wearing thin. Also, my primary doctor (I feel) didn't seem too concerned about finding an answer quickly. Finally, the CT scan showed mild sludging in the gall bladder.
So the week before Christmas, I had a hida scan, which assesses gall bladder function. Then I had to agonizingly wait through the holiday. Well, yesterday I received the news. Normal gallbladder ejection fraction = 80%. Mine = 16%. No gray zone there!
After 6 weeks worth of testing and waiting, I have an answer. I almost wished I would have had the classical signs of gallbladder disease: nausea, vomiting, and sharp pain. I would have had a diagnosis much sooner.
Thinking positive about my situation, the good that has come from this is that I have lost the weight I gained initially and then some more. Since the symptoms have intensified, I have not been able to eat much, and have been in a calorie deficit for 6 weeks. I am now lighter than I have ever been. I have also been doing more strength training than base training and I feel that I have maintained my strength. But I will definitely have to work on my endurance after surgery.
Surgery is scheduled for next week. I almost thought about asking my surgeon if he could remove a few unnecessary organs while he is in there; say, one ovary, uterus, and maybe one kidney. You know, lighten the chassis even further. As I know just about everyone at the Surgery Center, I will be in good hands. My anesthesiologist is a roadie. He told me last night that it will be a joy to work on me as a lot of his patients are >275 pounds and have cardiac/respiratory disease.
Doc says I will be off the bike for 3 weeks. Translation: 3-4 days. Any longer than that and he might have to prescribe Prozac!
I hate that I am going to miss the first two Snakes. But I will just be glad to have a happy and healthy body again.
So, if you feel something is just not right with your body (no matter now small it may seem to be), be proactive and firm with your doctor about finding an answer.
Luckily for me, I have several mountain bike friends that are also doctors so I was able to consult with them. At one point, I actually had to tell my primary doctor that I wanted an abdominal CT scan and NOT an endoscopy/colonoscopy. Thank God he listened to me or to this day, I might not have had an answer.
Time to get off the computer and get to training while I still can ...