Marathon #49 – 26.2 for Bill
I was 20 years old when a few of my bandmates showed up at my house with a bottle of Jose Cuervo and a lime. I had never done a tequila and lime shot before, but I was 20, and in a band, so of course we all drank the entire bottle and had one hell of a fun night. That was back in 2002 and it was my last night of normalcy. I’ll never forget what I can actually remember about that night.
When I woke up the next morning, I instantly knew something was wrong. My stomach hurt like it never had before and I stayed in bed most of the day. After the pain didn’t go away for almost a week, my mother made an appointment to see a gastroenterologist, who told me to live life normally and it would go away. It didn’t. I then sought out a new doctor who was committed to helping me and find the right diagnosis: Crohn’s disease. I have a similar story to the rest of you: Medications escalated from Asacol to 6-MP, then ultimately to Remicade, which was fairly new to the market at the time.
Remission has come and gone and I’ve been to the ER at least once a year since my initial diagnosis. Unlike many of you, I’m fortunate in that I’ve never required surgery. I got married, found success in my career, had two kids, and my fitness and health fell to the wayside. I was proud of my “dad bod” and considered mowing my lawn to be great exercise. Happy with my family and career, but always in some sort of GI pain, I focused on everything but my fitness level until my last hospitalization changed my life.
In 2018, I was hospitalized with a partial blockage and had an ENT tube put in. I was in so much pain; I wouldn’t let my kids see me in the hospital. I did not want my nearly 1 year old daughter and 3 year old son seeing their dad like that. And, I absolutely did not want them worrying about me. Luckily I avoided surgery again, and was discharged a few days later on a hefty dose of Prednisone. I had been on it before, and had always gained weight. This time I decided to channel my Prednisone-induced energy into something positive.
At 4 AM on a mid-summer morning, after a sleepless night, I impulsively decided to download a Couch-to-5K app and go for a run. My wife was incredulous when I told her what I was doing. I quickly fell in love with running, and couldn’t believe when I ran a whole mile without stopping. It was a big deal! Like many of you, it rapidly escalated into my first 5K, then a half marathon, then a 10K (whoops, should have done the 10K first!) and now I’m close to logging 1000 miles in 2020.
My Crohn’s is probably as close to remission as it will ever get. It’s a daily struggle. I’m blessed to have an amazing support system and family at home.
Team Challenge entered my life in 2019 when I ran the Falmouth Road Race with them. I raised money, ran with a purpose, and met some amazing people along the way. Through TC, I’ve finally found a community of people who get what it’s like to live life with an invisible illness. Throughout 2020, my family and I participated in a number of Marc’s virtual events, and had a ton of fun in the process. We would have done in-person events if not for the pandemic. Even my now 6 year old got in on the fun and earned a few medals!
Marc runs a charity initiative called “26.2 For You” where he runs a marathon in someone’s name in order to share their story. He offered to run one for me, and I accepted, but told him I’d like to run, doing Race in Orange, raising money, and run it with him. The pandemic is keeping us apart on race day, and I’ve decided to run my 26.2 for him. Marc, thank you for all you do for Team Challenge and the IBD community as a whole. Thank you for sharing my story, which is ongoing. This weekend, I’ll prove to myself that I can run a full marathon, tackling my snow-covered course the same way many of us deal with our IBD struggles – one step at a time, always moving forward. Plus, I get to raise money for a cause close to my heart, and be a role model for my children. Marc, this ultra-slow, slog of a run is for you!
Marathon 49 – Recap