Saturday, July 1, 2017

it's good to be home again

Back in my beautiful city after nearly a month away.

I have continued to struggle with Crohn's-related fatigue, depression and digestion issues.
The steroid I was put in to get me through my month-long residency basically kept me from falling apart; but the effect has been less restorative and more like simply being propped up so I can continue to merely function, the difference between a proper operation and a swath of duct tape.

Today, with the weather finally cooled down. I am opting for a morning at home, followed by a short ride in the afternoon.
Truthfully, I have not enjoyed riding very much since the effectiveness of the last biologic wore off several weeks ago. Even looking at a bike on the hottest days of my kansas stay made me feel weary. Still, I rode as often as I could -- the distance between homestay and work wasn't very far, only a mile each way -- and when the fatigue was too much and/or I needed to save my energy, I happily accepted rides to the drugstore and grocery.

This is not the body that, only six years ago, raced a season of cyclocross and finished strong.
This is not the body that, five years ago, could still ride ten miles round trip with a nine-hour wrenching shift on my feet in between.
And while it would be easy for an outside to suggest that it's entirely my fauly for switching to a less physically-demanding career, many factors suggest that perhaps there were signs that my body pointed the way to that choice anyway. That there were subtle signs of slowing down, from aging and from Crohn's disease, that would have led me here today anyway, no matter how hard I had fought to keep my life where and how it was then. In the end, I'd still be here one way or another.

I miss the body that could do those things. I miss the camaraderie that came with that level of physical health and activity. I miss the vitality that came with physical exertion.
Yesterday, I mowed the lawn with our push-mower. It was overdue and had to be done.
When I was finished nearly forty minutes later (twice as long as it used to take me), I was dripping with sweat and exhausted. I had to sit in a chair in front of the living room fan for half an hour just to feel like I wasn't going to pass out.
The day before that, I had to take a bus errand, a short distance I could have easily covered by bicycle last fall. Taking the bus to and from wiped me out, and I had to take a nap when I got home.
This is what living with Crohn's feels like these days.

The blue bike I'd had with me in Kansas for the last three years arrived in Portland Thursday.
After hemming and hawing, I finally decided to bring it home again. I also told my Kansas employer that if they wanted me to return for camp next year, I could only give them the last day of Staff Week and the two weeks of camp -- the additional week-plus was out, along with all the Shabbat services I was asked to help lead. They could pay me less, of course; but I simply could not be away from home for a whole month anymore, especially while doctors were still trying to figure out what medical course to take. The rabbi didn't believe me until he tripped over the bike box in the temple office, all packed and waiting for FedEx to pick up.

I don't know what I'll do with it. I just knew that I wanted to bring it home again with me.

It is tiring and sad to ponder my low energy these days. Emotional and mental energy still requires physical effort. Depression intersected with Crohn's and perimenopause simply adds to the challenge, which is why I really want to feel like riding again. Riding helps with depression, but I need physical energy to do it. I hope that I'll have enough energy for a pleasant spin around the neighborhood.
Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Robyn said...

much sympathy my friend. my youngest child was diagnosed with Crohn's at age 13 [she's 16 now]. there are many things she cannot do, will never do, that her older siblings reveled in [bicycling, speed skating, life guard training, basketball]. at the other end, i'm 58 and have been through the 'normal' hell of menopause. i cannot imagine the agony of hot flashes, sweats, and OMG, the depression, the waves of depression combined with Crohn's.
my bicycle saved my life. literally. i stopped driving because i wanted to die. so my bicycle became my only transport.
you have my sympathy.