Sunday, May 08, 2022

I’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

Progress Update: July 21st, 2021

By Derek Benoit July 21st, 2021

ALWAYS consult your physician, specialist, or appropriate exercise professional before beginning ANY exercise or treatment plan. This content is for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE. By accessing this content, you agree to hold harmless and Benoit Outdoor Media LLC for any injury, death, or damage to private property that results from performing any exercise, therapeutic exercise, or in receiving medical treatment.

A black crested night heron fishing in early July. Derek Benoit

The Only Constant is Change

This past week has been one of adjustments. All of which have proved helpful, but some issues still linger. Important to note is that according to the head colorectal surgery guru at BIDMC, I’ve made an incredible recovery. For reference for first time followers, I had a series of GI calamities.

Recent History

Diabetic gastroparesis was diagnosed back in August of 2018, which knocked me out of work in May of that year. Ulcers were present before this, likely caused by long-term use of Prednisone for immune suppression post kidney transplant (going waaay back in time). My theory is that the gastro exacerbated the ulcers because of the delayed stomach emptying aspect of the condition-yielding more exposure to digestive juices mixed with the food.

Said ulcers, IMHO, flew under the radar. The few times that they were noted on exams, the opinion was that they were inactive. This proved to not be the case. In late December 2020, an injury prevented exercise, allowing the gastroparesis to progress to the point of being nearly bedridden-again-for several months. Pen ultimately, in late February, I ended up with what was misdiagnosed as ulceration of the transverse colon resulting from ischemia-lack of blood flow to that section of bowel.

To be fair, this diagnosis initially made great sense. Being so limited in activity, and sleeping so much, my hydration was minimal at best. Hydration is a known cause for ischemia. Plus, the damage was extensive to the point that the ulceration was in a “weird” area. On top of this, peptic ulcers are apparently a rarity these days in medicine. The problem was that “upstream” there were still many issues going on. As it turned out, there were ulcerations developing all over the place, originating in the stomach and progressing through the upper small intestines, to points further south.

Some Assembly Required

If you’ve seen the film “Alien” I give you this analogy: the scene where the crew attempts to remove the face hugger from John Hurt’s character. They accidentally snap off a “leg,” from which an acidic blood drips onto the floor. Said acid eats through that floor, drops down to the next, eats through that, finally failing to eat through a third floor. That’s basically what happened.

The ultimate result was a bowel rupture in the colon, I’m assuming further upstream from the transverse colon. It was similar in position to the appendix, which I had removed in October of 2003. Upon attempting to Feng Shui my internal organs, the colorectal surgery team discovered not only that section of rupture, but another section further upstream that required removal. Thus, I got a two-for-one bowel resection and snappy new ileostomy out of the situation.

Don’t Call it a Comback… oh, Right. It IS a Comeback

Moving on, from being nearly dead, I’ve had an incredible comeback. With the affects of the gastro minimized (I had zero solid food intake for nearly two weeks) and an incredibly light diet, I was able to avoid significant symptoms… outside of the post surgery normal soreness, etc. I made it a point to push the activity as much as safely possible, and it paid off. The key phrase has been “as much as safely possible.”

I’ve worked my way up to at least one long-duration cardio session on the treadmill. The goal is two per week. I do two “speed/interval sessions a week. I may change that up to one “sprint” and one “interval session per week. They’re different, but both are important. I also try to do two strength workouts per week as well. This has been extremely productive. Some weeks, I need an extra recovery day somewhere. If I need it, I take it. I don’t feel guilty. I listen to my body.

The speed/interval workouts will be a work in progress. I’m doing research on how to best structure such things for safe, consistent gains in speed. I’m expecting performance to increase even more as a result… eventually. Even better, I’ve felt physically good to the point I’ve formally reached out to Social Security to get the ball rolling with getting off of disability. This site is progressing, and I’ve had an opportunity open up with a friend of several years for a new venture. Things are looking good!

Adjustments will ALWAYS be Required

Moreover, I’m recovering better now. I’ve had recent issues with fatigue, insomnia, and other problems that weren’t present a few weeks prior. Some adjustments have included:

  • Cutting back on coffee (sheds a tear)
  • Moving workout times from evening to late afternoon (possibly mornings-must experiment)
  • New mattress is on the way-waaaaaaaaaay overdue
  • More consistent in wakeup time
  • Whenever possible, enforce a hard cut-off time for computer/phone work or activity

For some information on symptoms of hyperparathyroidism, please see this link

These things have helped some. There are still issues with the problems outlined. Consequently, I’m still a believer that there is a link to my high parathyroid levels (another kidney transplant complication). I’m ADHD, but the concentration in that same period has been more difficult to maintain, and I’m typically well-controlled-for the record, I’m NOT a believer is using ADD/ADHD as an excuse. I believe in using available organizational aids and repetition through practice to overcome disorganization. Learning aids are also wonderful to reinforce new concepts. They work, IF you allow them to work. This is not some sort of “self-hating” reaction, but positive problem solving. That seems to be a lost art these days.

There is also an issue with some short-term memory beyond the norm. The anxiety that spike in the past couple of weeks has tamed quite a bit. I’m feeling more “normal” again (have I ever really been “normal?” LOL ).

To sum things up, I’m happy with how things are progressing. With some additional adjustments, and yes, working with the appropriate physicians, I can see my progress increasing even faster. There’s always something to improve. That’s the nature of life. It will take some experimentation, but I’ll get it done… and reach some milestones I never would have dreamed of prior to my personal GI apocalypse. Whatever your situation is, get creative, and get after it. Yes, it can be difficult, but improving the quality of your life is ALWAYS possible.

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