My new shoes back in February
So if you’ve been following my ramblings on Twitter you know that I finally signed up for my first 5k a few weeks ago. I know I don’t talk about my running as much as I should, or even as much as I’d like to, but I’m really self conscious about the level of progress I’ve achieved. It was my New Year’s resolution to run a 5k and it’s taken me all year to feel good enough about my ability to finally achieve one. I don’t say that because I am just that humorously self-depricating or have low self-esteem, because I don’t.
My first big hike: Flat Top Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park
I do however have endometriosis. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll try and give you a brief explanation that hopefully isn’t too TMI.
Endometriosis is a condition that causes the tissue that behaves like the cells lining the uterus (endometrium) to grow in other areas of the body. Usually this happens in the pelvic area, outside the uterus, but it can also be found on the ovaries themselves, the bowels, rectum and bladder. The result is pain, irregular bleeding and infertility, but not every woman experiences the same symptoms, making diagnosis without a laparoscopy difficult.
Rach and I in High School
The first time I noticed something wrong was in high school. I joined the swim team and was swimming roughly 5-6 miles, 5 days a week. I would cramp so badly that I would literally sink like a rock. Despite my excellent health, I felt constantly fatigued and on the verge of passing out. I ended up quitting the team, because despite taking excellent care of myself, I wasn’t making any improvement and my symptoms would just come and go, making me a very inconsistent teammate.
When I went to college, put on weight and wasn’t as active, my symptoms really weren’t all that pronounced. I had several cysts and some doozy menstrual cycles, but was told by my gyno at the time that it was completely normal, so eager to have one less thing to worry over, I put it out of my mind.
After I’d met Neil and decided to focus on getting healthier and more active, my symptoms started creeping back up. At first I wrote them off as me being a newb and just horribly out of shape. As I got in better shape though, and the fatigue and cramping didn’t subside, I thought maybe I was dehydrated and not drinking enough water throughout the day, so I drank glass upon glass of water and monopolized a stall in the bathroom nearly twice an hour. But the pain was purely in my pelvis and shooting down my right thigh, so then I convinced myself that it was because I was a woman and “those” issues could pop up at any time.
But the nagging paranoia started to get the better of me, and I decided to do some digging. I talked to every one of my family members about their medical history. Endometriosis, chronic cysts and hysterectomies became common among all of them. Concerned and wanting advice, I found a new gynecologist, and she did several lab workups and ultrasounds. The only way to definitively diagnose endometriosis is through laparoscopy, a minor surgery that uses a scope to explore the body, but she said with all diagnostic certitude aside, that all evidentiary indicators pointed to endometriosis.
Apgar Lookout, Glacier National Park, Montana
While it’s comforting to finally know what’s wrong, it’s frustrating to feel like you have to work twice as hard to do something that others talk about as being easy. Some days, I want to reach through the computer and punch people who say things like “just did an easy ten mile run, off to yoga!” I’ve gone home and cried myself to sleep after not being able to run a mile when just two days before I finally made it to three. I think the hardest part though is convincing people that endometriosis isn’t just a bad period or a few wayward mid-cycle cramps. My fatigue never really goes away and the cramps and bleeding are like a bad surprise party.
Despite all this, I’m excited to finally run a race. I’m tired of feeling like a poser and putting it off. Even if my time sucks, even if I have to walk some of it, it’s still going to feel like an accomplishment just to show up and not be afraid anymore.
Did you experience unshakable fear and panic before your first big race?