Posts Tagged ‘Allergies’
Sipping on my coffee here in the mid afternoon sunshine, I wonder if living here would actually kill me. August through November wasn’t so bad, at least not three years ago when I settled into my double studio apartment across from Hayward field. It was bittersweet to say the least. Like a child contently playing at dusk, I wasn’t ready to come inside yet and settle down. After weeks spent running and exploring the eastern Oregon wilderness, law school felt like a lead weight attached to my ankle, relentlessly pulling me down. I fell in love with Eugene the spring before. After a relapse of plantar resulted in a disappointing track season my senior year, I felt like I needed another shot at collegiate distance running. Whatever I was out to prove, I was still chasing.
And so as the acceptance letters arrived, it came down to Colorado or Oregon. On one hand there was in-state tuition, and all the comforts of home with friends and family nearby, mountains, skiing, and everything else familiar. On the other hand there was something new and exciting about Eugene. It had a presence and energy that appealed to me, both as a runner and a citizen. And Dave was in Oregon. That didn’t make my decision, but it made my decision easier. Watching the monarchs flutter on the petunias now I understand why I’m still in the great Northwest. I admit, though, that I still feel very much like a mountain girl playing at city life. Maybe after ten years I’ll start to consider myself an Oregonian, instead of an outsider or a transplant. Still, every time I pull out my Colorado driver’s license I feel a sheepish sense of comfort.
We all have days that are burned into our memory- that for one reason or another we can’t let go of, even if forgetting was for the best. This was one of those times. October light was breaking through the blinds as usual that morning when I turned toward the clock to open my eyes. I hated Mondays even more then. They meant a long drive down I-5 to make it to Civil Procedure on time. There is nothing particularly bright about the overcast days that fill the months from fall to spring, but if you’ve lived here long enough, you begin to squint nonetheless. The window faced another building, another set of blinds looking back. I lay there heavy, unable to collect my thoughts, for once not knowing how to push everything back into place. Finally without meaning to, I opened my mouth, “I’m not going back.”
There was no argument. I had no idea what I wanted- but I didn’t want to be miserable. There are a thousand reasons why I told myself I didn’t belong there. But ultimately when you are unhappy, it doesn’t matter. As an endurance athlete, you are taught to persist through pain, pushing your body farther than it wants to go on its own. The first twenty-two years of my life had been based on the practice of putting mind over matter, delayed gratification, and perfectionism. I still feel that it was the single, most powerful decision I have ever made. And I’ve been dealing with it on many levels ever since.
Recently in a bookstore, skimming through Dr. Drew’s book, I came across a passage where he describes the difference between high school girls and boys. Boys, he says have nothing to present at that age, they have no idea who they are yet. In these formative years relationships are difficult because the boy is trying to attract a girl, but really doesn’t have a firm grip on what he is looking for because he has much to learn about himself. Girls, on the other hand, have it all together as seniors in high school, it is only later when they begin to lose themselves. Reading this passage I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. Human experience really isn’t so different. This hit the nail on the head for me. And yet, we feel completely isolated in our own problems. No one really talks about this, not enough. Before my 18th birthday, I was never wrong about anything. And yet, I have managed to lose myself after high school, twice.
The first time was my freshman year in college. At first all I wanted was anonymity. I wanted a chance to start over and not be the kid that all the other parents want their kids to be more like. After living in a small town where everyone read about my accomplishments in the local paper, I started to feel like I lived under a magnifying glass. The heat was exhausting, but I dealt with it because I knew there was a looming expiration date to it all- a light at the end of the tunnel. Junior Olympics came and went, with two gold medals and a record to take home. My father drove to Seattle from a business meeting in Montana to watch the finals. In both races I crossed the line and ran into his arms. We both cried and I knew that in a couple weeks, we would be back in the Northwest for college, and that next time he would go home without me.
The transition from child to student to adult is supposed to be seamless. As long as you follow the path that is. I started to realize that this was the main reason I was in law school, because it seemed like a logical next step. I had no real passion for it, no good answer for the question that everyone always asks. What are you going to do next? Any graduate will tell you how tiresome it is to be on the receiving end of this query. I didn’t know. I wanted to run, I wanted to play in the mountains, to be a kid in the summer, and that was about it. College was fun and exciting and exhausting. I wanted a break, and I thought that maybe I could reconnect with myself again a little better after taking a step back. There were so many great memories, but much of it I was ready to leave in the past. I was ready to move again.
Today I got the results from the team blood test we had on Wednesday.
Drum roll please…..Ferritin is 16!*
Because low iron is so prevalent in distance runners, (why? see my post entitled Running Into the Ground) we screen our athletes twice a year with blood work from the health center. The woman who stuck me with the needle asked me what year I was when I got on the table. She was embarrassed when I told her my age and that I’m a coach. At least she complemented my veins.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait that long to get tested. At the end of June I began a pretty steep decline. I went from feeling somewhat decent on runs, to starting to get tired, to having an allergy induced asthma attack while running on Wildwood. That hasn’t happened to me in a few years- and it has only happened 4 or 5 times in my life. I do know from experience (and the allergist) that it is brought on by exposure to the allergen AND severe fatigue. Since the allergy tests revealed that I am basically allergic to Oregon, or at least all of its trees and grasses, I knew that fatigue was the main culprit.
The heat over the fourth of July in Ashland only made me feel worse, so I emailed my Endo in Houston to ask for some blood work. I was overdue in checking my thyroid’s status anyways. The only red flag from the results was, of course, my iron. Ferritin was 6. Again. Again! I thought the gluten-free diet was supposed to be helping, but apparently my intestines are still not in shape.
So it has been 5 or 6 weeks of stomachaches now. 5 or 6 weeks of reading gluten-free forums and message boards in search of some kind of help from the celiac community about how to overcome the chronic anemia. I have known about my iron issues since college. I was even sidelined my sophomore track season with chronic anemia. At least now the malabsorption problems have been somewhat explained. (i.e. in people with celiac, gluten destroys the microvilli which line the intestine to aid in capturing nutrients).
I’m trying to figure out how to go about getting a drip or even injections, but I am without insurance…. so who knows. I am just anxious to get rid of the stomach pain and GI problems again. I can only liken it to eating a steaming bowel of hot buckwheat**….EVERYDAY!!!
* The level of ferritin in your blood is a measure of your body’s iron stores. Ferritin is a protein containing iron stored in your bone marrow and liver. My highest recorded ferritin has been 18, the lowest was 5. Under 30 is a red flag. Ideally, much higher is better for performance.
**I actually did this by accident 3 weeks into my gf life- thought it was the cream o’rice cereal. Paid for dearly for it for three days afterwards.