Friday, November 10, 2017

Surgery Update

In April 2016, while out for a long run, I suffered a uterine prolapse. I had to have an unplanned hysterectomy, cystocele, rectocele, and bladder repair/sling. The recovery was pretty tough. And what followed the next year was even tougher. It first began with constant urinary tract infections. At one point I was on antibiotics everyday for four months and then antibiotic shots as well. Then came severe hematuria - macroscopic blood in the urine. I also had painful bladder stones. And severe bloating that made me look 9 months pregnant.
I had visits to the ER. I had several ultrasounds and a CAT scan. I went to my rheumatologist, an allergist, a nephrologist, and two urologists. I had 3 cystoscopies and a kidney biopsy. And after 8 months of bleeding and pain, I finally got an answer.
Macroscopic Hematuria
Severe Abdominal Bloating
After the kidney biopsy, the neprologist referred me to a second urologist, The second urologist did yet another cystoscopy. He found what looked like a suture thru the bladder wall that had formed calcifications around it. This caused infection and bladder stones which led to hematuria. This meant another surgery. He hoped to do what he could thru a cystoscopy, but said he may have to make two small incisions arthoscopically.
The Dr said I could run the NYC marathon. He said it wouldn't cause more damage that I would just continue to suffer as I had for the last several months. So I ran. 4 potty breaks and hematuria, extreme RA pain, but I finished! And I am so very grateful for the opportunity! I ran Sunday, flew back Monday, and had surgery on Thursday.
Bladder Packed with Bladder Stones
Surgery unfortunately didn't go as planned. They anticipated the surgery would take 30 minutes, but it ended up taking almost 3 hours. There were a lot were more repairs than they were expecting, but fortunately they were able to fix everything. They had to go in thru a cystoscopy (urethra), vaginally, an incision in my belly button, and 5 more incisions in my abdomen. They found and had to remove multiple sutures and calcifications, repair bladder, place fat between vaginal wall and bladder. And they found a significant hernia they had to repair both laparoscopically and openly. They let me come home from the hospital, but sent me with a Foley Catheter. I was told recovery would be 4 weeks and now it's going to be a minimum of 6 weeks. 😢
Abdomen filled with air, 6 incisions, and bruising.
Feels like I have been repeatedly kicked in the belly by a horse. And eww that belly button.
Got to come home from the hospital but was sent home with a Foley Catheter.
With RA it seems my body is always at war with itself. And that's what it was doing here. I had permanent sutures from my hysterectomy and my body did not want them there. So it attacked and built calcifications around them. This led to a year of constant infection, severe hematuria, and bladder stones. I am hoping that my body being in this state for a year is what has kept me in an RA flare, and perhaps after recovery I will see a difference there too! I don't know if I'm hoping for too much here, but I sure am praying!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Why I LOVE prAna!

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More than ever, people like you and me, are seeking ways to spread positivity in our country. One way to do that is to make sure every purchase you make and every gift you give has a positive impact on our planet. prAna offers organic, hemp, sustainable, and fair trade items so that consumers feel great about the things they wear and the items they give.

On a hiking adventure wearing the Halle pant
prAna's mission is to give people the option of reaching into their closet and dressing in items that reflect who they are. The versatile but classy clothing design makes for outfits that can be worn to work or on an adventure.
Relaxing in my Deedra Sweater Tunic & Kara Jean
Whether you are relaxing, working, or adventuring, prAna is versatile for any lifestyle.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of PrAna . The opinions and text are all mine.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Under Armour Mountain Running Series - Copper Mountain 2017

This race was my first half marathon (except in a half Ironman), my first time to race on a mountain, and my first time to race with elevation and altitude. I live just north of Houston where elevation is sea level and my runs barely include a total gain of 100 feet. Ha! I quickly earned the nickname "Flatlander". But you know me - I love a challenge. And I have such a love for the mountains!
I got to meet Jenna McHugh! We had so much fun prerace! Probably a bit too much for a day before a race lol. But I love this girl!!
I got my flat runner ready! I wore Under Armour capri and top, OrangeMud  Endurance Hydration pack, Rudy Project sunglasses, Smartwool socks, HokaOneOne Stinson ATR 4 trail running shoes, Patagonia wind shell (Thank you to my friend Tara for making me run out and get one before the race! I needed it!), Garmin 935 watch, Road ID.
The start was a later morning start which I really loved. I met up with Jenna McHugh and Crystal Seaver before the race and Jesse Jamnik who took our pics like a champ!
This pic is in the beginning of the race where my smile depicts how happy I am to make it past the very steep ascent that begins the race. I wish I had a pic of that! Ha!
 The race climbs a total of 3,329 feet. And I felt everyone of them. It was a very tough climb for me.
By mile 1 my heart rate was beating out of my chest. By mile 2 I was feeling nauseous. It was around this time I was texting my hubby, my mom, and my bestie Jessica wondering if I should or even could go on!  At mile 3 my heart was pounding in my head. By mile 4 I was urinating blood.

My friend and ultra runner Heather Scott was texting me and told me to load up on sugar and carbs. I did and that made a huge difference in how I felt. Her advice throughout the race was so helpful in getting me to the finish line.

My friend and trail runner Janice was texting me words of encouragement throughout and this was just what I needed!

 At mile 6 the cold rain began. 
At mile 7 we reached the top! This race had the best aid stations! The volunteers were amazing and there was always a buffet of treats for us!
It was cold and pouring rain at the top of the mountain! You can't tell in this pic but it was coming down hard. We began our descent. At mile 8 it began to hail. And at mile 9 we stopped at a lodge in the thunder, hail, and crazy wind. I needed to urinate but was having difficulty. Shortly after, a truck came by to ask if we wanted a ride in, but we refused and kept on pushing down the mountain. By mile 11 the sun started to come out. We experienced such crazy extreme weather changes out there it was unbelievable!
The last mile in seemed like we would never reach that finish line. But there it was!! I'm not sure I have ever been so happy to see a finish line!
 And I was so grateful to have Jenna by my side!

The mountain challenges you in ways you can't completely understand until you are up there. It breaks you down and it builds you up. It chews you up and it makes you whole at the same time. I was filled with doubt and hope simultaneously. I left blood, sweat, and tears on that mountain. Literally.
Like every finish line I was overcome with emotions. This finish line was one I wasn't sure I would see. And I have never had that much doubt in a race before. This race will always be a special one for me.

After the tears came so much joy and happiness!

I am so thankful these three were on the mountain with me! Crystal was such a source of encouragement, Jesse would make me laugh, and Jenna never stopped believing in me! The mountain bonds you in such an inexplicable way. And each of them will hold a special place in my heart.

After the race I passed a very large clot and several smaller ones, and I was able to urinate but it did not look good! I have a renal biopsy the day after I get back. I NEED some answers!
Post race Jenna and I went out for a really large meal to refuel and celebrate our victory!!
Yep you read that right - 99th place! I came in dead last! My previous trail race, just two months ago, I was 1st in my age group and 3rd overall woman to cross the finish line. But you know what?  I couldn't be more proud of this finish! I met a lot of obstacles out on that course. There were physical, medical, topographical, and weather challenges that were beyond my control! And I finished despite them all!!

The Under Armour Mountain Racing Series is made up of three races featuring 7 distances. There is Cascade Volcano in Mt. Bachelor, Oregon; Appalachians in Killington, Vermont; and Rocky Mountains in Copper Mountain, Colorado. I really hope I have the opportunity to do more of these! It was an experience I will never forget!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Copper Mountain Resort

I was invited to Copper Mountain Resort for the Under Armour Mountain Running Series. I got in Thursday afternoon, the race was on Saturday, and I left Sunday afternoon. The resort was gorgeous!! This is the view from my balcony!
And I spent every minute I could on the mountain!

Day 1 - I got in late afternoon after a long day of travel and headed straight to the mountain for a hike! It was heaven!!

Day 2 - Back to the mountain!!
I learned a lot on this mountain and I realized I have so much more to learn!
Cannot beat the views!
FORMIDABLE: The mountain or me?!? I'm going to have to say the mountain this time! Ha! I made it 10,456 feet elevation and climbed 1,257 feet! But I'm not going to lie it was the descent that got me! I ended up caught in a rainstorm and as I was heading down I took a wrong turn. I found myself on a black diamond and thought this will be fun! You know how I love a challenge! I had trekking poles in my bag, so I got them out and headed down (I thought I was done lol) and I was so proud of myself. Then I quickly realized the hardest part was ahead of me. Needless to say I fell hard twice and ended up scooting down that mountain on my butt! I always love a good challenge, but I tend to bite off a little more than I can chew sometimes. But in the end I can say I had a blast and I am proud of myself for making it down that mountain!

Let me just say that my Under Armour tights and top help up like a champ out there! I sloshed thru streams. I ran in cold rain. I got wet and they kept me dry and warm. But most of all I slid down a rocky mountain on my butt in white tights and not a stain or a snag or a tear! Pretty incredible!

And that wasn't enough for me! Ha! I met up with Jenna and I decided after tackling the mountain I needed to tackle an obstacle course! This is out of my comfort zone but I gave it a go! It was fun! Jenna was a total champ!!

I realize in hindsight this may not have been the best way to spend the day before a race! Ha! But you know what?!? I had a great time!

See my next post for race details.....

Monday, July 31, 2017

Xterra Magnolia Hill Off Road Trail Run

I came across this trail race and I wanted to sign up right away. I've been dealing with this RA flare and other health issues and wasn't sure it was a great idea, but I really needed to get out there. And the trails have a way of clearing my head and healing my heart! So I signed up. And I decided going into this race that it was just going to be for fun!

I chose to do the 11.5k race. I haven't been running much or running far. I broke my foot in November. I took off 6 weeks completely from everything. I took off running for 10 weeks and then had to start back super slow. I went to months of  PT! And I was in the heart of Ironman training. My longest training run before my full Ironman was 10 miles!! And let me tell you the marathon in the Ironman hurt!! But I did it!! And then there was that recovery. And so I am finally after many months running without pain!!
Race morning I headed out early. It was a little over an hour drive. It was a gorgeous morning! But temps and humidity were on the rise! The venue was gorgeous. Apparently it is private property that they open up to Xterra every year for their off road triathlon and trail race.The course was absolutely beautiful! It was a single track trail and very hilly compared to what I am used to running. I'm lucky to push 100ft  close to home.

But it was really pretty! And the race was very well organized! The course was well marked. The race handled the extreme temperatures by having aid stations set up every mile. And at the end there were ice cold towels and cold water and cold Gatorade! I was very impressed!
When we started I was in a group of girls for about 2 miles. I kept reminding myself to run my own race and not get caught up in the start. I know typically there are many who start too fast and I didn't want to get wrapped up in that. And one by one the girls started falling back. And I started catching up with the half marathoners who went out ahead of us. And I was getting hopeful, but I couldn't really believe it either. I actually started to worry I was off course. Lol!There were some rolling hills that were so close together I tried leaping them rather than going up and down but that didn't work out so well. Haha. And there some parts of the course where you left the forest and were out in the open and let me tell you that sun was blazing! And while I wasn't pushing really hard, the conditions had my heart rate in the red zone from start to finish!

My watch was showing I was nearing the 7 mile mark which should be near the end. But as I passed the aid station the guy called out 1 more mile!! Ok I think I can, I think I can! And that last mile was no joke. I literally came to a hill and stopped and looked at it before I even climbed it! Ha! And then when I saw the finish line I tried to pick up the pace but it was all uphill! I pushed up and crossed!! My watch had the course at 8 miles. I checked right away and I was told I was the 1st in my age group and  3rd overall female! I couldn't believe it!! I podiumed!! Woohoo!!
Going out there without expectations or pressure was amazing! I had a blast and I did remarkably well!! I started all this with trail running and I am so happy to be back at it!! Looking forward to beginning training for Rocky Raccoon 50 Miles!!