Only 2.5 weeks to go! Getting both excited and nervous to see what this "pouched" body is made of. Training has been "tri-ing" (oh, the puns!), especially of late, but my pouch and I are still truckin' on. A fellow j-pouched blogger, Sarah Ringer, recently wrote a poignant post about self-esteem issues surrounding young women with j-pouches and ostomies. It really hit home. Here's why…
I used to be an athlete. A pretty good one at that. I prided myself on these abilities, and even took them for granted. So, despite dealing with ten years of a brutal disease and undergoing four major abdominal surgeries in the past two years and a difficult pregnancy, birth, four bouts of mastitis and many recent bouts of pouchitis, I expected my body to just DO as it used to. I thought that within a few weeks I'd be running 7-minute mile 5 K's with relative ease and I would be able to learn to swim well, even competitively in a short timeframe. Showing up on Day 1 and being (arguably) the slowest member of my triathlon team was a major self-esteem blow. I'm still one of the slowest. Fact is, my body is just NOT the same. Watching my middle-aged teammates blow by me on the road and in the pool hasn't been easy. Despite pushing my body to complete rigorous workouts six days each week for the past (almost) five months, I have come away feeling BAD about myself. That isn't cool.
I'd be lying if I told you I feel completely satisfied and proud of myself at this point, but what I can say is the rocky emotional road to this triathlon has led to a better acceptance of my new body, my new limitations. I have missed the last two team workouts due to stomach ulcers and pouchtiis, leading to an even lower sense of self-esteem. But it's important to keep reminding myself that I am going to complete a TRIATHLON, despite several bouts of illness over the course of my training, despite nutritional deficiencies and my body's struggle to regulate hydration. Despite the little sleep I get between frequent bathroom trips and a crying baby throughout the night. Each day my body and mind are EXHAUSTED. But I've pushed through and completed the vast majority of these workouts. I am not going to place first. I might even place last. But I need to keep fighting to find pride in the fact that my new body isn't perfect, but it's going to get me through my first triathlon.
So, for all you other ladies out there going through similar mind-*&*s, know that I'm right there with you. From adjusting to an ostomy bag then to a lifetime of one-piece bathing suits to cover these gory scars, to becoming acquainted with a new body that is not exactly athletic, I know what it's like. I just want you all to know that I know what it's like. This blog has connected me to so many other young j-pouchers, and I know we have all found comfort in that small, yet incredibly substantial idea that we're not alone.
Root for me on November 10th! I'll be thinking of all you other ladies as I cross that finish line. And, when all is said and done, I WILL be proud to be a j-pouched triathlete!
I would also like to thank the 90 of you that have donated to our fundraising campaign so far! WOW. I am truly inspired by each and every one of you. For those of you that would still like to contribute, there is time! Checks need to reach me very, very soon (email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on mailing checks). Secure, online donations can be made until race day:
Ok, pouch, let's do this!