I remember the day clearly. I had completed my first race ever; a 36 mile ultra marathon with 10,000 feet elevation up Haleakala, called Run to the Sun.
That same year, I went on to run my first Honolulu marathon and unlike the amazing performance I had at The Run to the Sun, this race finish was unlike any other. It was one of the most physically painful experiences of my life. At mile 18, I hit the wall. My entire body ached every where. I called my boyfriend who is now my husband, to tell him to expect me at the finish WAY later than I had anticipated. And then I spent the next 8 miles crying, disappointed and in crazy, unexplainable pain – joint pain, stomach cramping, dizziness, nausea, having to stop at the bathroom every 15-20 minutes shitting blood. I had no idea why this was happening. Eventually, I hobbled across the finish line to meet my cheering squad (Lekeli and my sister Chera) and they had to assist me in getting back to our car. What the heck was going on I thought? I felt like a failure; that I just didn’t train hard enough to do this race right.
A few weeks later right after Christmas Eve, I came down with a horrible case of the stomach flu. It was probably some bad shellfish the Doc advised me. Take Pepto and Immodium and wait a few. Well, in “a few”, my “stomach flu” erupted into a barfing and bathroom-ing storm of blood, non stop, even though I had not eaten anything in at least 4 days. I bounced from Doc to Doc finally seeing a GI Doc who after 10 days of no food, and many scopes (a endoscopy and a colonoscopy) clinically diagnosed me with bleeding stomach ulcers (common) and Ulcerative Colitis (not so common). What the heck is that I asked?
“You have bleeding ulcers in your colon which means your immune system is attacking your colon because for some reason, it sees your colon as an organ that is not supposed to be in your body. This is genetic, but we don’t know much else. So take ALL of these drugs and come back to see me in a few. “
ALL of the DRUGS whipped me back into shape and so I went on my merry way. They got it wrong, I thought. I am the picture of health. I don’t smoke or drink. I eat well. I exercise. I do ultra marathons for goodness sake. So, I never went back until it wasn’t so merry any more.