13 years ago Kate and I started a tradition giving each other ornaments for Christmas. This was a big deal because over 22 years ago today my dad passed away from stomach cancer and the feeling of loss became the dominating story for me around this season. Since we have been together Kate has worked hard to change that story to little avail. Christmas has always held sentiment for Kate so our first order of business as a married couple was purchasing a generic multi-pack of ornaments from Target to fill in our abnormally large Christmas tree because her eyes always taller than our ceiling. I will be happy to report that every year we find compromise between my mini-Christmas tabletop succulent and the mammoth noble fir that requires the services of a bucket lift to top.
As we added Evangeline to our family our two ornaments became three, and this year we will debut a fourth to represent Felicity. As I was decorating our tree a few weeks ago I started to realize that those generic ornaments from Target have slowly receded like my hairline and now our tree reflects 13 years of different stories being written a couple ornaments at a time. With our new ornaments, I now have tangible reminders that I play an active role in creating the kind of memories my daughters will associate with this season, so what story do I want our ornaments tell? I hope they would not simply represent a highlight reel of our lives, but the slow exchange of heartache and loss which was the dominating narrative for so long, with new stories of love, new life, family and rugged hope. While I cannot change history and life will never be the same without my dad, these ornaments will represent different memories for my two daughters.
God bless you and your families this Christmas,
Health and life update:
While their has been relative radio silence (at least on our blog) during this season of our lives, September to December has been anything but boring. I completed my first Olympic distance triathlon in September, my sister-in-law had a near drowning incident at the same race, my second daughter Felicity was born a couple days later, I’ve had another bowel obstruction which required a hospital stay for few days before Evangeline’s 3rd birthday, we raised a little over $1000 for No Stomach for Cancer during Stomach Cancer Awareness month in November where I rode well over 100 miles, was interviewed by a couple of local news networks, spoke at the high school where I started my relationship with Jesus, and now, we’re looking forward to turning the page on what we are hoping will be a “normal” year.
I’ve had a few questions regarding my health, diet, exercise regimen, weight, etc… over the past couple of months so here some of the highlights:
My hospital stay for another bowel obstruction in October has led my (new) surgeon to believe these obstructions will be a chronic issue that we are hoping to control with diet. While we could go back in for a third surgery, it is not a guaranteed fix. In fact, there is a chance it creates more scaring that would exacerbate the situation. The good news is, we are learning when I am having an active bowel obstruction or not and what to tell the hospital when I have to go in. One of the benefits of being married to a nurse is her active involvement in my health. It basically comes down to this: if she can’t control my “vomiting”, I have a bowel obstruction and its time to go the hospital for some pain meds, an IV, four days of fasting, and X-Ray’s only. I’ve had enough CT scans now to power a nuclear submarine for a couple days.
Regarding my diet: I’ve switched to a low-carb (under 100g) high protein diet (over 100g) which helped me regulate my blood sugars which are out of control. I find myself a lot more sensitive to insulin spikes which dips my blood sugar into the 30’s before I switched my LC diet. I picked up a blood sugar monitor to at least confirm whether or not I was experiencing a dip in blood sugar or something else. It has given me a better understanding of my body as it relates to how I am feeling. I will say that switching to a low carb diet was a balance because I immediately lost about 7 pounds and I had to regulate with some low-glycemic index carbohydrates in the form of sweet potatoes and good fats in the form of nuts. I have found myself a lot more sensitive to ice cream for some unknown reason. I used to be able to eat a full scoop without issues, but now I have trouble with a few bites. I’m not sure if it’s related to my new diet or not. I will say that for the first week or so of switching to a low carb diet I felt terrible, known as the “keto flu” as my body switched from burning carbohydrates as its main source of energy to fats. I felt weak and tired, but after a few days I started feeling normal again. During my race season I maintained a weight around 158-162 lbs. Consistent eating throughout my day paired with my training which has slowed in the off-season has seen my weight hover closer to 160-165. One of the cool things that has emerged as I have shared my story are people in the world of nutrition who have reached out to help me achieve my goals. I am now trying out a new way to get all of my fruits and vegetables in the form of powder. So far, so good. I have noticed that the quantity I am able to eat has improved greatly and I can sit down and eat a full chicken breast and veggies without a problem.
Training: During the winter season I keep my training sessions short and sweet focusing on different skills and most of all fun! I still hold to the mantra, “if I feel good, train, if I don’t, don’t.” My long rides can extend up to 2.5 hours without nutrition, but once I start feeling like I have run out of calories, it throws off the rest of my day. Right now I keep my bike rides to about an hour or so and my runs are nice and short, about 3 miles. Secondly, I’m trying to take it easy to balance out my rest and my training. On the nights where I have bad bile reflux (still an issue) or only sleep for 3-4 hours, I try not to train. Insomnia, unfortunately, looks like it’s here to stay for now. As an added benefit, I do get to experience some incredible sunrises every morning on my rides.
In regards to pain, I’ve actually have seen a spike in the amount of pain I have had over the past couple months. Over the past few weeks I have found myself in a lot of pain requiring more and more medication to manage. I’m trying to limit my pain medication to stave off resistance which is a big challenge. There was a stretch where I was getting pain multiple times a week requiring almost double my dosage of pain medication and waiting too long to take medication is not helpful. I cannot tell you why I have these seasons, but I know that they seem to be temporary and I return to “normalcy” rather quickly.
My local stories can be seen here:
Telling a different story, to the world.
Kron4: Video Tale of a Triathlete with No Stomach