"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

So, I've Made Some Bad Decisions ...


... and now I’m paying the price.

For the past 8-10 years, I have used both prescription strength and over-the-counter doses of ibuprofen on a daily basis. Some days only 400 mg, most days 800 mg or more. What began out of necessity for recovering from a back injury, somehow turned into a preventative for potential pain. In my mind, when I heard “a baby aspirin a day keeps the heart doctor away,” I applied the same principle to Advil and Indomethacin.

As many of you have already guessed, my stomach has been baking for several years now. And I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that the cause of recently discovered internal bleeding, stomach pain, and progressively worse, round-the-clock heartburn is, as my new best friend and digestive health doctor puts it, the result of long term NSAID (non-steroidal aniti-inflamatory drugs) use / abuse.

The reason I’m sharing this with a RWH post is to provide both a warning and an apology.

First, the apology.

Over the past decade, I have nonchalantly thrown out the following advice to hundreds of runners:

You know, ninety percent of running related pain can be taken care of with ice and ibuprofen. I take them before long runs and whenever I feel aches coming on. A medical m&m. Blah, blah, blah.

I sincerely apologize for making light of what seemingly can result in long-term consequences which are far more worse than the original issue. Obviously, I will be modifying this advice moving forward. There is a place and a time for the use of NSAIDs, but it is not everyplace, every time.

As to the warning, I am not one to share intensely gross medical images publicly. And as much as the endoscopy pictures might most effectively drive this message home, you are not interested in seeing yours truly from the inside out.

That said, by using the mac color matching tool, I created the following chart from my actual images. It shows the normal color of what my esophagus looks like currently (which is also how the other sections in the digestive system should appear if healthy), while the circle on the right reflects the reality of a daily Advil.

The best way to describe how it feels (and actually what is going on in there), is that I have an internal sunburn, from the entirety of the stomach lining through the upper section of the small intestine. Fortunately, with some medication, and by remaining well clear of NSAIDs, there is repair and relief on the way. But it might take a little time and we're hopeful there is no permanent damage elsewhere.

Through this experience, I have realized how resilient, yet fragile, our bodies can be. It has reminded me to be more vigilant about what goes in it, so that it remains mostly resilient and less fragile. In a similar way, I have abused caffeine. So along with cutting out ibuprofen, I have also been caffeine-free for the past eight days. And guess what? I’m sleeping better and having some really good training runs - go figure. Duh, is right!

This Public Service Announcement has been brought to you by a very unwise non-nutritionalist.

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