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The Receiving End of Healthcare

For the first time since Thanksgiving last October I am feeling like a normal person. Over the past 2 weeks I have had enough energy to get through my training, work, and daily living. Something that has eluded me for the past year.

All because of a few changes to my diet and supplement routine.

I have struggled with immune system issues and fatigue ranging from mild to severe long before I started triathlon and throughout my years of skiing and education. Multiple times I did consider pursuing medical investigation because I always seemed disproportionally tired or sick compared to those around me. I never did though because there were always factors I figured I could improve upon – diet, sleep, stress, balancing work-training etc.

However, even after moving to Victoria and having everything dialed in, I was continually hitting the bottom of the well.

I was sick 4 times between November and January, I couldn’t tolerate any kind of intensity or volume in my training, my blood tests and clinical symptoms indicated mal-absorption, and I looked like I’d been run over.

So what started out as baseline blood testing in November, turned into a number of referrals and a couple of trips to the hospital.

Actively pursuing answers to my symptoms has salvaged my racing goals. It is extremely unlikely I would have continued on with this crazy endurance stuff for another year if I had continued to feel like that.

My goal was to start the season with a relatively short trip from Victoria to Vegas for the first race of the XTERRA American tour in April. But instead I had cameras sent up and down my digestive tract.

Results? Change my diet. Manage my stress.  Or the more technical explanation – neuroendocrine injury exacerbating food sensitivities.

I’m sure it’s always a bit shocking to realize the treatment of choice is so straightforward. As usual, I had to learn the hard way. However I do feel extremely fortunate that I am in control of my health and my symptoms, because for a while there I really thought I was in trouble.

I am almost never on the receiving end of healthcare and after this experience I have a greater appreciation of what we as healthcare professionals do and how important our care is to so many people.

So this is a GIANT thank you to all of the healthcare practitioners who helped me out over the past few months – and to all healthcare professionals…who put their health second, leave their problems at home to deal with others, skip meals to benefit patient care, eat too quickly and/or not enough in an effort to stay on top of the day, loose sleep over complicated cases, take courses on the weekends, burn out every 2-3 months, and everything else we go through in attempt to improve the lives of others.

Thank you specifically to:

Dr. Cara Ewert, M.D., CCFP., CAFCI, Dip. Sports Med (CASM). Likely one of the reasons I have avoided going to the doctor is that few have ever been helpful. Thanks for being helpful!

Dr. Hilary Wass, Oncologist/Hematologist. Ensuring that only minor changes were needed to make a big difference.

Dr. James Peircy, Gastroenterology. Who has the ultimate “why would you ever want to do that” job. No doubt his work has profound and life changing outcomes.

The nurses in the endoscopy unit at Royal Jubilee! Nurses truly are amazing.

Dr. Todd Levins, ND. Who had it right all along. And once we ruled out the bad stuff, gave me an explanation and a plan when everyone else was at a loss in providing me with guidance. (and who worked through pneumonia from December-January!!)

Houshang Amiri. My awesome new coach. Understanding what I was going through was totally critical. Thank you for appropriately managing my fatigue and training over the past few months, allowing me to make progress and stay motivated.

Special note – May is national physiotherapy month!

Happy month of May to all my amazing and hard working physiotherapy friends!

I will post another blog with more specific details about my symptoms and care as I think what I went through is interesting for those in healthcare as well as anyone who thinks they need to do the gluten-free/wheat-free/whatever diet to improve their life.

Recommended reading:

When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress. Dr. Gabor Mate, MD.

Ironically recommended to me in November by a co-worker (the awesome Dr. Salmon!) to better understand complicated clients. Suppose I could have made a few extra notes for myself!

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