Fitness Quest: Weight Loss, Running, Weights, and Crohn’s

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new blog so I figured at the very least I should update everyone on my continuing quest for greater fitness as I move through middle age (better than the alternative, right?).

The good news is that there is no news. My Crohn’s has been pretty calm since I’ve started taking Humira several months ago. Sure, I have a grumble here a little constipation and/or diarrhea there but no days long bouts of intense pain and lack of energy and overall “pushing” just to get started for and through the day. I have a CT Scan on Monday and hopefully it will show that there has been no significant progress of the disease putting off the day I’ll need surgery for a little longer.

On a tangent – I attended an IBD Patient Update hosted by the University of Michigan IBD team and the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America with participants from Henry Ford Hospitals and Baylor University. A lot of good information from this session. I finally learned that my medicine may costs about $40,000 a year for those who don’t have insurance (yikes!). No cure is on the horizon but several potentially game changing treatments are in clinical trials. It also reaffirmed that given what could have been that I’ve been very, very fortunate with my Crohn’s. It turns out that 44% of patients with Crohn’s have required surgery by 9 years after diagnoses. Me, I’ve gone about 30 so far. Surgery, if it goes well, often does provide relief. But too often it is temporary and then there are a host of potential complications. Most that I don’t even want to think about but may discuss later.

I haven’t been running lately, trying to rest my shins and recondition them before running again. The pain was getting pretty bad. However, I am keeping up with my walking and watching my diet. I need to move from just counting calories to better tracking my “macros” though. I think if I up my nutrition that I’ll make better gains in the weight room and with fat loss.

Speaking of the weight room, it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve started lifting again regularly. I was pretty sore after the first couple workouts but I’m doing better and my lifts are getting heavier. I’m also working out about once a week with my brother-in-law again and he helps to push me simply by staying ahead of me in his bench press. Though this should not stop you from trying. Friendly competition never hurts as long as you don’t get hung up on the fact that some people will always be better than you at something. In fact, I’m still “competing” with a couple friends to see who can do better over the course of time in terms of fitness goals. Celebrate other peoples success and you’ll be happier in the long run (trust me).

So, overall, I’m down in weight about 15 pounds since this time last year. I’m stronger, faster, and feeling pretty good overall. Not where I want to be, who is after all, but getting a little closer each day.

Onward!

I Have Crohn’s (Again)

Well, the CT Scan results are in and unfortunately they showed what I expected they would show. After nearly 30 years I still have Crohn’s…

No surprise to me, though still a little disappointing as the doctor really suspected that I did not have it. On the plus side though I had the rare privilege of having a doctor say “I have to admit my suspicions were wrong.” Wrong? Did he just admit he was wrong about something and i was right? I almost asked to see his Med School transcripts! Of course he isn’t a surgeon so maybe it’s okay for him to say he was wrong. And heck, no need for the tests if doctors are always correct, right? But, as I so often do, I digress…

So, I have Crohn’s no surprise, but there is some bad news. The Crohn’s is more advanced than I thought. In addition to some permanent scarring and narrowing of my intestine there is also at least one fistula. A fistula is basically a “shortcut” that my bowels have made to avoid the narrowing, a new opening where there should not be one. It’s a bad thing and we need to do something about it.

There are two ways to treat it: 1) by medicine, which ironically could make my symptoms worse as the fistula heals and food goes through the narrow section of the intestines; or 2) surgery.

I’m not a fan of surgery, given the inherit risks of being cut open, anesthesia, infection, etc. But if my symptoms worsen under the medication (which also comes with risk) surgery may be the only option.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I upset? Well, it’s hard to be upset about something that’s been part of me for so long and I’ve also actually been quite blessed to have had such a mild case of Crohn’s. I know several young men and women who have been struggling for a short time compared to me but have already undergone surgeries. Who cannot gain weight (fat or muscle) because they are simply too sick. My Crohn’s has been inconvenient and sometimes embarrassing but for the most part my life has not been altered because of it and there is no reason to suspect that this will change.

I just have to remind myself of this each time I wake up in the middle of the night to vomit or have diarrhea which last for what seems like hours and worse, often in a public restroom…the frightened looks I sometimes get when stepping out of a stall….priceless! And let’s not forget the constant gurgling, burping, and uh, other emissions.

However, on the brighter side, the CT Scan also revealed that except for the Crohn’s my insides are “unremarkable” and that, as Martha would say, is a very good thing.

Next up, colonoscopy. I bet you can’t wait for the blog on that!

Onward!

Dave

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