Showing posts from April, 2017

Another crash

My physical self has become a stranger to me recently; I don't really "know" my body anymore. I've mentioned the energy rollercoaster, the good days and bad, not quite knowing how much of this is adjusting to thyroid medications, how much is fluctuations of hormones, how much is psychosomatic, how much is just "me."

On one hand, I've struggled with real fatigue — feeling more sluggish in my daily routine, blinking against sleepiness at 3 p.m., sneaking off to take actual naps, and setting an alarm so I don't pass out for hours. This happens despite full nights of sleep and better morning alertness. I've learned that if I want to accomplish something mentally taxing, I'm better off attempting it before lunch. Jill one year ago would give a side-eye to this zonked-out person I'm becoming.

There have been other symptoms that one might ascribe to an underactive thyroid — I'm often cold in the afternoon and have to wrap up in my down com…

One year in Colorado

On Earth Day 2016, Beat and I loaded up our Subaru Outback with our most prized bicycles (and not much else), then rumbled onto I-880 eastbound out of San Jose. We passed through heavy snow over Donner Pass, the verdant hills of central Nevada, 75-mph crosswinds across Utah's salt desert, then heavy rain and snow across Wyoming. The terrible weather ended almost the moment we crossed the Colorado border. The famous 300-days-a-year sunshine was out, hillsides were green and the trees were bursting with tiny green buds and blossoms. I remember smiling at Longs Peak and thinking, "I will climb you first."

I still haven't climbed Longs Peak. But we have enjoyed one year in Colorado, living in the forested hills behind the Flatirons — a home between the cliffy edge of the Great Plains and the towering Continental Divide. We love it here. Our "Ugh, Front Range" friends crinkle their noses, but really, anything that's not to love here, the Bay Area had times …

So this is spring

Beat and I are nearing one year in Boulder, so we've experienced all of the seasons in high country. Of all transitions, spring is usually the most difficult for me. The quiet darkness of winter dissolves into a kind of uncomfortable mania; previously empty trails begin to feel crowded; new smells and sounds barrage the senses. My typical allergy season creates new weights, and the crushing heat, dust, and fire of summer feel too close for comfort. 
And yet I do enjoy the ease of mild weather, watching green return to the hillsides, anticipating the return of the hummingbirds, laughing at the antics of wild turkeys and watching a herd of elk graze in the back yard. Wildflowers and daffodils emerge from clumps and brown grass. That uncomfortable mania also breeds excitement. "Something is going to happen! I don't know what, but good things are coming." 
Even as I say this out loud, a larger part of me remembers that the state of the world looks dire, and it's dif…

Thyroid update

On Tuesday I visited my endocrinologist to follow up on treatment for Grave's Disease after seven weeks on an aggressive dose of thyroid-blocking medication. The results were encouraging. I'm responding well to the medication. My T4 levels have reached the normal range, T3 is close, and while my TSH is still very low, it's normal for that to take several months to return. The doctor is keeping me on the high dose of methimazole for now, but seems confident that medication will be an effective treatment against my hyperthyroidism.

One of my main issues is the presence of Hashimoto's antibodies, which means I've probably been hypothyroid in the past, and likely will be in the future. Controlling thyroid disease will be a matter of managing this rollercoaster, and its unpredictability. That will likely be a lifelong battle regardless of which treatments I eventually choose.

"Lucky you," my doctor said.

Still, it's good news. And I have been feeling nota…

A good week in Boulder

Although I was excited to return to Colorado after five weeks of roaming around Alaska, there was a bit of apprehension as well. Home meant a more structured work routine, with attempts to write when my thoughts still resembled oatmeal tossed into a ceiling fan. Home meant living at 7,100 feet, when science showed that five weeks at low altitudes had been long enough to lose most of my mountain acclimation. Home also meant a return to a regular exercise routine. While I had no intention of launching into any kind of training, even the usual runs and rides at the easiest pace possible seemed overwhelming. 
During the autumn and winter, I'd been in a lot of denial about my fitness. Such was my desire to return to the Iditarod Trail. Although I did complain about feeling off, I wasn't honest with even myself about how unfit I'd become. Most runs were a gasping mess. In January, I told my friend Corrine — before she helped diagnose my thyroid issue — that I was looking forwar…

Return to the Whites

It was late March and the weather was a manic rollercoaster — 20 below in the mornings, sun, wind, heat. By the time Beat's plane landed at 4:45 p.m.,  the temperature was 19 above. Beat was fresh from balmy Colorado, bundled up, and giddy about the upcoming White Mountains 100. I had stripped down to the one T-shirt I owned in Alaska, torn somewhere in my travels. Worn ragged and weary. 
Forty-eight hours had passed since the avalanche debacle, and although my head was finally switching to its normal settings as hormones settled, I had no energy for much of anything. I'd slept in the car during a break from my commute between Denali and Fairbanks (30 minutes, alarm set) and dozed off again while sitting at the airport. Beat was a bundle of excitement and I tried to absorb some of that energy as we went through the usual pre-race motions. The WM100 is my favorite race of all. Even though I couldn't be a participant this year, I'd be in the midst of the excitement whil…


Although I felt incredibly lucky that I wasn't literally flattened, the avalanche of March 22 left me deflated, both physically and emotionally. After hiking down Thunder Mountain in a daze, I checked into a hotel room and lay awake for most the night, running the experience through my mind again and again — the startling "whomp," the concrete blocks of snow tumbling down the hillside, the way my brain screamed to run but my body didn't seem to work, the slow-motion moments as a waist-high wall of snow came upon me. But at least I jumped on top, and stayed upright, otherwise I might have been buried just enough to never come out. Even in slow motion, I was able to run far enough to meet the edge of the slide, where there was less volume of snow. The avalanche stopping where it stopped was sheer grace — had it continued over that cliff, nothing would have saved me. I recognize both my complicity and fortune in the situation. It was an intense life lesson I won't …