Still on Two Feet. Still Swingin’

Still fighting

First, my apologies

…but, the promise (both to myself and others) to chronicle my recovery from the nasty Amoeba that tried to kil’t me, continues…

I understand that my readership may tank since I’m no longer that “inspirational runner dude”, and I certainly understand if peeps are tired of hearing about my drama; but its real. Very real, and I am lucky to have a select group of those in and around my life who do care, and who will offer me tremendous guidance and support. It’s for them (and me) that I continue to write.

I know that my experience will someday serve as knowledge for someone else. I just know it.

Plus, don’t count me out, man – I’ll be back.

I’m no “victim”

Here we are about two (2) months since my release from Saint Joseph’s hospital and freedom from that nasty ol’ Arthur.

A lot is changing in my life; but ironically, I’ve never been happier than I am today. Than I was yesterday, or Saturday as I peddled beach cruisers with my wife around the Peachtree Corners neighborhood.

Below is the latest in the saga of Christian vs. Entamoeba histolytica:

Leave it to me to stump the Medical community

Medically, I’m sort of stuck (read: any suggestions out there?).

After 3 MRIs, CT scans, and mountains of blood work, none of the specialists can pinpoint a problem – but the fact remains I continue to suffer from a paralyzed diaphragm and a winged scapula – both due to nerve damage in the phrenic and thoracic nerves.

The infectious disease dude is just glad he whooped Arthur. He is interested in my care, cuz he’s cool like dat, but is also limited in guidance since he’s not a neurologist.

The neurologist is cool, but he’s seemingly stumped. He’s working in tandem with others in his practice to review the ongoing MRIs, but cannot seem to find the source or cause to my ongoing nerve failure.

The pulmonary lady is way cool as well, but I sense she’s sorta disinterested, thinks my problems don’t really pertain to her, but is still working to get me a pulmonary stress test since I seem bound and determined to train my ass off regardless of said realities.

So here I sit.

Don’t know what to do. Don’t know where to turn. Can’t breathe…

And I feel it’s getting worse.

Admission

I never really had to pay attention to stuff before, so this is really hard. I’ve never had to stare at myself in the mirror and admit, “dude, you’re sick.”

Life for me has always been nauseatingly easy.

From finances to friendships, relationships to responsibility, it all just worked out for me. Health? puh-lease, whatever, that was for all those people who were just sick all the time. I wasn’t anything like those sicklies. I was invincible.

Last Sunday, I stared at myself in mirror and admitted, “dude, you’re sick.”

Then, everything became a little bit more clear.

I had to take control, or this was all going to control me.

Taking the reins

Changes in the way I eat

First and foremost, inflammation is not going to help me get better nor aid in my recovery in any way. I can no longer eat like a little stoner kid, binging and stuffing my face with sugary sweets, breads, jellies, fruit juices, etc… I’m almost 42 years old, man, with some serious issues, and it’s time to address these with the same responsibility I would invoke in taking care of my family.

This week, I started becoming serious about a more strict paleo style of eating, with a leaning towards a more gluten-free diet. Not to lose weight, nor for any other vanity-related reasons, but instead to help me breath better.

Sugar causes tremendous inflammation in my body, joints, and sinuses. Doesn’t matter if it’s wheat bread or Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Cream Pies, if I eat it, I do so in massive quantities, and I swell up, get nauseous, let it subside, then repeat.

It’s actually not that hard for me to eat Paleo. It’s the direction I naturally lean anyway, but I have a nasty habit of doing things like eating well all day and then coming home and binging – or carrying “cheat days” into “cheat weekends” or even “cheat weeks”.

Sorta my personality – I rarely participate in moderation.

Changes in the way I train

Gone are the days of 20-mile weekend mountain runs. Along with that goes some of the relationships that existed for me that, I guess, were only based on “running”, anyway.

Those kinds of realities always sting, but they are real.

Thinking I’d just “bounce back”, just like that, I had huge hopes of starting back to training, building up at shorter distances like the 5K, and perhaps becoming competitive there; however, with the current realities I’m facing, I think it’s safe to say that while I can and will get faster than where I am today, my aspirations regarding 17, 16, and Hell even 15 minute 5Ks are becoming more and more of a growing challenge.

But, I haven’t given up.

I’m participating in a much broader spectrum of training, including:

The strength training is helping me to improve my mobility from the winged scapula, which is good, but I simply can’t endure Crossfit-style workouts anymore. I can handle the movements, but not with the intensity, power and finesse in which I could in the past. My entire kinetic chain is affected, so I’m simply doing what I can do nice and slowly, and building back up.

The boxing and martial arts are great for me. In all honesty, I wish the marital arts training I was doing was a bit more “involved”, but I’m still getting great mental, stretching, and technique training that I continue to build upon in private in “The Dawg Gym”, my awesome home gym.

I’m getting really good with the speed bag and my punching power has improved incredibly.

SUPing, walking, single-speeds, and golf are all “just keep moving” activities for me that also have the added benefit of including my wife. This has become so important to me as of late. My wife is my everything, and I have learned so much about her, myself, and “us” by simply taking the time to be involved.

Christian and Babette chillin on beach cruisers.

But it a’int all sunshine and kittens, kids

Running? well, that’s just frustrating. I wheeze when I run, and I run slowly. I wish I could say all kinds of sweet, knowledgeable stuff about how I’ve accepted my current disposition in the sport, but that would be a lie. I hate crossing the finish line in 27 minutes, or even 26 minutes as I did on Saturday.

I hate it.

Chasing sub-20s and getting them, THAT was fun. Getting passed by the old dude in tube socks, ain’t.

It’s so immature to care about such things, but I worked so hard to get where I was (just ask Sean Oh), and having it all erased just sucks. I know its not right and I know its something I need to work on so that I can find a way to enjoy the sport I love so much.

I run again Saturday. Hope to break 26. I am who I am.

5K with friends in Piedmont Park

Changing my complete disposition

Beyond diet and athletics, once I started on focusing on things other than myself and what I wanted, many other things in my life started to shine.

My relationship with my wife has never been better. We spend so much time together and I’m so lucky that she is also my best friend. I never used to believe in divorce because I’m a child of more than one of ‘em, but I now can easily see that if one does not completely desire the one they are with, they should divorce – life is too short not to be happy – and lucky for me, my complete happiness has been right under my nose for the last 12 years, and I’m finally taking the time to wake up and explore just how deep it can go.

What else…?

I’m walking my dog to help her lose weight.

I’m delving deeper into the study of web analytics, educating myself in an area that I believe to be the most important tool in online education, consulting, and business strategy.

I’m cleaning up areas of my house, and de-crap-ifying.

I’m cleaning up my “financial” house by paying off stupid lingering debts, refinancing my mortgage, and trying to come up with strategic ways to ensure Babette and I will someday retire back to the beach.

I’m taking more of an active role in Austin’s whereabouts and working to spend more quality time with him. At 17, he’ll be gone in a blink and I want to take advantage of the time now.

I’m exploring faith, new relationships and new social outlets.

It’s sort of like being a kid again. Trying to keep an open mind to everything and anything, especially if I don’t have much experience with it, to see if perhaps it can become something really cool in my life.

You just never know.

All these changes are so weird. I sometimes just sit around and wonder why this is all happening. Why now? And what’s to come of it.

Phew, better just stop

It’s amazing. I look over this blog and see my fingers have been hammering. I’ve only been writing for 20 minutes, so it must just be pouring out of me.

I’m tempted NOT to edit it, nor re-read it, and just post as a sort of brain dump, but then Victor Zamudio will call me and heckle me for all my mistakes, ..and ol’ man Dan in Foresthill will pepper me with grammatical errors a’plenty.

Naw, I better at least try to look like I know what I’m doing.

But, most of you know I don’t, really.

No filter. I just blow.

Wayne "weezy" Downey and Christian at the Keys 100 Starting line

photo: I might not have been able to race, but I crewed my boy to the finish!

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Comments

Halloween marks 2 years since I could not run any more. Your words help. THX.

Christian, Sorry to hear about your illness. I thank God that I can still run at the age of 79. I am going to run my first ultra on my 80 birthday. It is not an official race as I am running my own course to raise funds for the Boys and Girls Club in Sequim, WA where I live.
Keep up the good fight DUDE!!!!
Chuck

On the 3am to 7am shift in dispatch at the FD I searched in vain to find something that would interest me and hush the painfully slow ticking of the clock. Then I came across your blog. I knew you had gotten a bug, but had no idea how bad it got or the details. You are one tough dude, a great writer, and I always enjoy bumping into you at the ultras. Thanks for erasing a large chunk of my time on “the watch.” Hope you are much better by now. Look us up anytime you are in south Florida.
Scott

Hey there,

Just sent you a lengthy reply via email. Great post. Very proud of you, my friend.

Forgot to include mention of gluten-free…it’s really not a tough thing to do. Even more restaurants are waking up and offering gluten-free options.

If you’ve time…you might want to browse through “Eat Right 4 Your Type.” You don’t have to follow the whole thing to reap many of the benefits.

Little thing I’ve been struggling with – why make art right now when the world is still going into the economic dumps? My answer, “Because I can and I need to.”

Sometimes we just gotta do what we gotta.

Laugh freely, walk far, create beauty,
susan

I’ve been a reader for a while but never a commenter. I always look forward to a blog post popping up in my RSS reader. You’re still inspirational and I hope the doctors find out a way to fix your issues soon.

Hi Christian,
I just read through all of your blogs about your health ordeal. Sounds beyond sucky, and I’m truly sorry about what you’ve endured over the past months. When I met you 12 years ago, I suspected that your journey would be unusual and, well, special. You continue to amaze and inspire. And, I’ll continue to follow your journey. Give my best to Babette.
(PS I’m all about paleo these days after a 2 year trial of being mostly vegan elevated my blood glucose and cholesterol levels to a point that I was told I needed medication. “Really? I’m not overweight and I do triathlons!” I just needed meat!)

@Pat: thanks man. Glad to know a few of ya will hang around!

Thanks Brooke: I continue to be amazed with all the trails, experiences and things there are out there to learn. Like an ultra, I just keep moving forward and document what happens.

Sue: this post oooozes your intelligence. Proud you’re in my clan.

George Carlin said that, “Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.” Running 100 miles has often seemed quite insane to me, since I’ve never hear a chord of desire to leave town without my car. Race reports, though, allow me to experience stanzas of spiritoso camaraderie that are thrilling. (Once you even recorded the wheezes of a downhill jog.) As you redefine your tempo, inviting us to experience the allegretto vivace and adagissimo of your personal health sonata, I experience of the artistry of turning a struggle into a dance. It is not so crazy to live passionato. Play on! Keep on Keepin’ on!

Christian- you just never know what life can throw at you. What a gift you have been given! The realizations you’re experiencing, most people don’t have those insights until they are much older….or are on their deathbeds! I’d say “enjoy” but maybe “appreciate” would be a better directive. Even those of us who are connected to you via running care for you and Babette on a deeper level. Keep posting! Makes us all think.

Christian, you’re inspiring in a whole new way. If your readership falls rest assured that you will be inspiring those who remain in more profound ways than you ever have before. Run, love, grow, heal, and keep sharing. There are a lot of us out here who think of you and care.

Your latest blog post was spot on. I know where you’re coming from. I played Basketball, Soccer, Ice Hockey, Football, ran Track (Sprinter, not one of you distance guys) and Baseball. I was the best or among the best in all of the sports I played.

I joined the Air Force at 19 and was in great shape. I was running a 5 and half minute mile, sprinting the 100m dash in 11 seconds, 95 situps in 2 minutes, 65 pushups in 2 minutes and 15 pullups in 2 minutes. I was in a combat career field and I I chose it because I’m a warrior.

I was quite a bit over the top on aggression and pride and then in 2002, I tore my ACL in my right knee and didn’t know it. I just figured I sprained it (because I was too tough to be injured) and kept on going full speed. I ruined my knee, but eventually had surgery.

Earlier this year when I finally found out about the Phrenic Nerve damage and was told that it might never start working again, that was a big blow to me. What kind of life would I be living if I couldn’t be the warrior bad-ass that I have been for so many years?

That’s the hardest part of this lifestyle that we have lived, getting out of it. I’ve had to start taking a more balanced approach to my life, a zen approach even, to get myself centered and to try and attack this problem from a new angle.

I’m going to see a nutritionist and start up some new exercises next week when I get back in town. I’m glad I have a fiance that I like spending time with too. Her support helps immeasurably. Keep me updated!

Keep moving,

Christian M.

@Claude: duuuuude. I’ll be at LV no matter what. And remeber, Babette is coming to crew with your wife.

@Steve Pero: Thanks Steve. Are you chasing Hardrock this year?

Christian….I didn’t know! I left the big list months ago and have been away from all the news.
Best of luck in your recovery, you’re young and spirited, so recovery and those fast times are right around the corner. Love your attitude about everything. Yes, family is first!

@Rachel: thank you. I also recognize a drive in you. You started the game and have been driving hard since. Good show and nice work.

Running is awesome. However, there are more races in life than running, and there is more to life than running (as you are experiencing). We briefly met and what encouraged me about you was your fighting spirit in the midst of adversity. Running can inspire, but adversity can influence and make change. You totally ROCK! Keep it up!!!!

@christopher: oh wow, oh wow, that would be awesome. Incredible. Where? where?

Christian,
Just started new job. I cant come East. If you come West to Los Angeles where I live I will spend a weekend with you teaching you about your ventilatory musculature and exercises to increase your pulmonary hygiene, decrease your stress and increase your ventilatory capacity. I will volunteer my time. You are an inspiration to many and I’m willing to help you. Bring your laptop and your family they can hang at the beach and we can work.

Wishing you a complete recovery, Christian. There are few things more precious in life than good health. Keep fighting through this tougher-than-usual rehabilitation. You’ve got many people pulling for you, including a great many who — like me — have never even met you. But we enjoy reading about all your escapades. Thanks for the update with your latest news.

@laura: thanks for all that. it really helps to know others tow much the same line and have similar experiences. Always odd man out, having kindred spirits feels pretty comforting

@mary: one thing i always loved about danny is that he always took me everywhere – and the cast of characters i experienced really taught me to be comfortable in {almost} any situation.

@tyra: i dunno girl, i might actually need you! i’ll be the guinea pig

Life is surprising, humbling, and beautiful. It’s great to see how you have grown and are changing positively through this challenging experience. Who knows what will happen next……….! :)

Even after I had kids, I chased times…qualifying for Boston, watching the clock, the ups and downs of constantly trying to better my previous self. Back surgery and a year-long recovery taught me that patience and core strength can challenge a dr’s directive. Cancer taught me that the experience of being out there was more precious to me than a finishing time. 4 kids, 2 jobs and very little time have taught me to cherish my time on the trails..alone, with friends, training or in a race.

It seems to me that you are doing wonderful things to bring joy to your life, your relationship and your training. Even if those really fast 5K’s don’t return (and I wouldn’t count that out!), you’ll find a way to love what you CAN do.

You have always had the ability to be very introspective, you may loose your way at times, I don’t really know. But you always seem to circle back to who you are meant to be. You are always on a constant search and you may have finally found the direction you are meant to go. It’s been fun watching you grow over the years in things I saw in you when Danny first brought you around.

Try to find a good private Pilates trainer for strength. One that can help, not at a gym. Research…

Christian, if you recall, we “met” a couple of years back when I moved to the area and contacted you about helping me with Crossfit. I’m still searching for that perfect love of some fitness that will keep me healthy. But since that time your blog and FB friendship has been ever-inspiring. Honestly, now, I’m enjoying it much more. You being “more than a runner-dude” and seeing your relationship deepen with Babette and your own self is powerful. The human experience is always much more inspirational than one we try to control and create. Keep writing and if you ever need a project, *grin*, I’m still in the area and still needing help with keeping active!

i love you!

my favorite line:

Plus, don’t count me out, man – I’ll be back.

smooch!

pi.

@Dwayne: man, the respect is all over here on this side big dog. Thanks for your support, man. One of the things that makes you even that much cooler and most admirable as a champion. Er’body loves ‘em some “shatterfield” – only your smokin’ em up a climb :)

@Claude: I will be there at Laurel Valley. It will take a band of thugs to keep me from the event. I won’t put the event at risk by trying to participate if I am able to complete it, but I’m really going to try. As you know, Babette is volunteering for you with your wife.

@Jonathon: man that was awesome, thanks dude. So true.

Christian, you are ‘da man’. A true inspiration. It blows what happened, but you stood up, dusted yourself off, and made your life better for it. Keep on keeping us informed…live your life dude and be happy! Hope to see you at some event soon…respect…

Atlanta! And out and about at events. However, I’ve hardly been at the store lately for obvious reasons, and been doing Big Peach stuff at home.

I did upstage you in bad grammar and spelling.

Claude

Christian,

I know how you feel buddy. All of my 5K times were in the low 18′s and my 10K times in the low 37′s and then all of a sudden the 10K’s were in the mid 40′s. Four years of fast running and breaking 3 hours for the marathon and then in one week the illness hit me and it hit me very hard. The surgeon had to cut some of my gut out. I never reclaimed those times but I took of martial arts and within two years as a brown belt I knocked out a black belt that appeared on a TV station in Columbia, SC. From 1983 to 2001 I continued running and quit cold turkey during 2001. I was told by three different doctors that I couldn’t run anymore due to a knee bowling accident. I started back during March of 2011. My times slowed but my joy has never been higher. I had to re-adjust my goals and I am just thankful to have what I have. You will come back and you will be strong. I am hoping to struggle through Laurel Valley this year after not running it since 1998. Hang in there and be patient. Stay active in other things and that will make your comeback faster.

Regards,
Claude Sinclair

It’s amazing how we view ourselves and how others view us. I never knew you before your big dog running days (hell I don’t even know you now! I just love learning from others), but to me you are that “inspirational runner dude.” Life is chalked full of stress and opportunities to overcome adversity. That you continue to plug away is pure dedication and nothing short of inspirational. BJ Palmer (one of the men that defined my profession [chiropractic]) was once quoted as saying, “you never know how far reaching something you may think, say, or do today will affect the lives of millions tomorrow.” Keep running, keep growing, and keep writing. You’re reaching us!

I send you some HMs every time I run and other times when I think about it and have been following your recovery. I hope that you do keep writing about it. I like how you take your no-holds-barred trail attitude to the recovery also. : )

Anne, man, I’m following right along with you. Thanks for saying all that. It’s nice to know you have a friend in battle, that’s for sure. Which Big Peach are you, again?

Christian, I hardly met you that one time you came to Big Peach before all of this started. Still haven’t had much time to get to know you and Babette off of facebook, but it’s kinda weird how we’re going through so many of the same feelings and the uncertainty and the realization that we aren’t the infallible. I hope that I can be an encouraging person in your life. You keep me inspired and motivated. It isn’t always sunshine, but you and Babette have made it easier for me and I’d like to return the favor!

Thanks Wes. That makes me feel really good. You’ve always been really supportive of me and I appreciate it. Please keep being what I want to be when I grow up :)

I love the way your write, makes me jealous. I can talk it but can’t put it on paper/screen. You are still the man only going thru some bumps in the road.

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