Ali At The Doctor

Wednesday! When the heck did it become Wednesday? This week is flying.

I have a good feeling about today — anybody else?

Despite the fact that I hardly slept last night (I cannot for the life of me figure out how to be in bed before 11 pm), plus the fact that I woke up due to stomach miserableness around 4 am, the day turned around fast.

At 5 am I was up and ready to go. Coach Cane didn’t want me running today, so I packed up all my goodies and went to the gym for spinning.

Good morning, Crunch!

I also dumped an entire container’s worth of my delicious trail mix all over my entire kitchen right before I left. I am clumsy.

Now if you recall, I do not love this Wednesday morning class. I was kind of hoping there would be a sub in place of the crazy teacher who whispers into the microphone the entire time, but no such luck.

He didn’t bother me today, though. I kind of zoned out the entire time and didn’t focus on his chants and techno music.

Instead I thought about all the crap sitting on my To Do list. But I won’t get into that.

So I spun my little heart out but kept the resistance light because I don’t want to work my body too hard before the Fairfield Half Marathon this weekend. I need fresh legs (and a functioning stomach, but again, won’t get into that just yet).

I didn’t mind getting ready at the gym today, either. Turns out, I can get myself showered, makeupped and dressed in like 7 minutes when I’m not at home, distracted by my computer and the Today show.

I also packed the exact same outfit I wore the last time I morning-gymmed, because it’s easy.

Easy. And I have given up on blow drying my hair for a while. Ponytails for the win.

I swear, this dress (from Anthropologie) was the best investment ever. I think I wear it every single week.

I’m also wearing new earrings that I bought at a cute jewelry store when I was in Charlotte.

Solid photo, Ali. Good camera work. You can TOTALLY see the earrings here...

Note: If you know how to reduce under-eye puffiness and giant, sleeping bag-sized bags, please let me know. Because…wow.

Should we talk about my health now? Sure. I’ll update you, if you’re into that kind of thing.

I went to the doctor yesterday! I was his second appointment of the day and only had to sit in the waiting room for 30 minutes before he could see me. Plus travel, plus waiting in the exam room = total midday out-of-office time 2 hours. Score! (Sorry, employer. Had to be done.)

The reason for this appointment was basically to get more bloodwork done since I feel drastically worse than the last time I saw my doctor. Last Thursday he prescribed me a low dose of Prednisone, a steroid that usually helps calm the symptoms of a Crohn’s Disease flare-up.

Mmmm drugs

Unfortunately, after almost a week, the medicine hasn’t helped. I’m still experiencing bad stomach pains and, you know, other stuff, and I would very much like this all to go away. So naturally my doctor wanted to see me in person to discuss this. Another $40 copay. Score again!

Here a brief recap of how yesterday’s appointment went down:

[Doctor enters room, 30+ minutes past scheduled appointment time]

Doctor: You look tan. Did you go on vacation?

Ali: I was in Charlotte for the weekend.

Doctor: I hope you know to wear sunscreen. That’s not going to help your cause.

Ali: I do. I wore sunscreen the whole time. Is sun exposure related to Crohn’s Disease?

Doctor: No, but you never know.

Ali: Oh…OK. So I’m still sick.

Doctor: OK, tell me what’s going on.

[Ali explains that every time she eats, she feels sick. Nothing digests well. She has to use the bathroom a lot. She is very sexy.]

Ali: I really want to get better as soon as possible because I have a race this weekend.

Doctor: Why?

Ali: Why do I have a race? Because that’s what I do…I run. I signed up for the race a while ago and I’d like to get better so that I don’t have to stop and use the bathroom a bunch of times on the course.

Doctor: Well I’ll write you a doctor’s note to get out of the race.

Ali: I don’t need a doctor’s note… I’m not sure…who I would give that to…or why… Would it be possible to up the dosage of steroids?

Doctor: OK. Take one additional pill per day [putting me at 30 mg/day] until you start feeling better.

Ali: Awesome, that sounds great. [Ali pictures herself with puffy cheeks that are sure to develop over the next few weeks. Ali longs for the days when she was little and healthy and happy to be sitting in cabinets, coloring.]

Coloring in cabinets = just one of my many childhood pasttimes

Ali: And I’m getting Remicade next week. Should we up the dosage of that, too?

Doctor: Yup. Let’s do that.

Ali: Cool, anything else? I’m still really dizzy all the time.

Doctor: Dizzy or nauseous? Last time you were here you said you were nauseous.

Ali: Oh. I’m honestly not sure I know the difference between the two.

Doctor: Dizzy means the room is spinning. Nauseous means you feel like you have to throw up.

Ali: Oh. I’m just dizzy then. Really dizzy. Not nauseous.

Doctor: Guess we didn’t need to do that pregnancy test then.

Ali: Nope. We really didn’t.

Doctor: Alright, well let’s do bloodwork today and test your iron levels. You’re probably anemic [common for me during flares]. Depending on the results of the bloodwork I may want to do a colonoscopy again in a few months [I had one done in April 2009 but haven’t had another since].

Ali: OK.

[Long pause. Really long, dramatic pause.]

Doctor: I really don’t think you should be running. You shouldn’t do the race this weekend and you may not be made for running.

Ali [in head]: F you, crazy doctor.

Ali [in reality]: I can run. I promise. I’m smart, I’m not going to push myself harder than I should. But I’m actually working hard right now to prove that people with Crohn’s and Colitis can run marathons and lead normal lives. So…yeah.

[Doctor shakes head. Ali senses she is not his favorite patient.]

Doctor: Call me Thursday for your bloodwork results. I want to see you again in a few weeks.

Ali: Can we follow-up over the phone? I don’t want to pay another $40 to come in. I’m pretty poor. I’m a writer.

Doctor: I’d like you to come in.

Then they took my blood, and while I was waiting for the nurse to come in the room I peeked on the laptop at his notes from the meeting.

Note: 26 y/o female, currently training for a marathon. Running excessively.

He hasn’t seen excessive yet.

Thank you all for your care, concern and sweet thoughts and comments over the past month or so. It helps me feel so much better mentally knowing that I’ve got all the support in the world as I attempt to get healthy and run a marathon.

Runner Pug

I know I can do it — there’s not a shred of doubt in my mind. With the proper treatment from my doctors and the promise to take care of myself (really, I promise), I’m confident I’m going to make the Hamptons Marathon eat my dust in September. 26.2 miles > Crohn’s Disease.

Coming up today:

  • Computer training at work all day long. We’re switching over the systems here from one design program (Quark) to another (InCopy/InDesign) and today is the big “everyone gather in the really cold conference room to play and learn” day. Should be fun.
  • Meeting with Coach Cane! He rode 100 miles last night until 1 am and is making time today to meet with me to discuss our game plan for Sunday’s race. (I already have a plan: avoid the bathrooms if possible and just get through it. Curious to see what his plan involves.) Coach Cane recently wrote this on his Run For The Rabbit blog: Much to my chagrin, the runners are fighting crazy work and travel schedules, nagging minor injuries (that I need to make sure don’t get worse, while making sure we don’t fall behind in training), goal-oriented ambitious personalities that don’t like doing easy runs no matter how much I stress their importance, and nervousness as they realize that 26.2 miles is a long way to go. I emailed him and said I didn’t know who he was referring to regarding the “ambitious personalities.” He said I am the “ring leader” of that group. I felt proud, not ashamed.
  • Vino Y Yoga at Pure Yoga tonight! We get an hour of Ki Power Vinyasa followed by 30 minutes of wine tasting. Seriously? That sounds amazing.

TELL ME: Do you listen to your doctor? I’m in no way saying you should always listen to your doctor, or that you should always seek a second opinion or that you should always just listen to yourself. But I am curious, especially in talking to athletes, how much do you honor what your doctor advises and how much do you stick to what you know about your own body?

I’m no doctor — I don’t claim to know very much about anything, let alone this mysterious Crohn’s Disease I seem to have — but I do know, deep down, that there are certain things I’m capable of, and I’m hesitant to give up running entirely because my doctor advised it without much reason supporting that. I respect him, I respect his vast knowledge and I trust my health in his hands. But I’m interested to see what others think and what experiences you’ve had at the doctor.



0 Responses

  1. What bothers me about your doctor’s response is that he didn’t explain he thought the running was “excessive”. That’s a no-go for me. I’m a biochemist and understand the science behind a lot of the treatments, and I question everything the doctor suggests. I do try to follow their advice but only if it’s justified. I hate needles also and have been known to decline “routine” blood work (especially in the hospital), but when I’m feeling crappy, I research and request certain blood work tests. Even the nurses in the hospital come in and encourage and congratulate me when advocate for myself. So, do not feel intimidated by this GI. There are plenty more out there. I agree that you should find one who is a runner or cyclist him/herself. An athlete will be more receptive to your running and possibly even supportive. Good Luck!

  2. Your doctor conversation made me both mad and laugh. After my marathon (a year ago tomorrow!) my knee was screwed up so have several weeks of no running I went to a primary care doc. The doctor asked me how I thought I hurt my knee. I told him it was certainly from my marathon. He asked me if I felt like I pushed myself during the marathon. HUh. It was a marathon! So yes! In his doctors note I saw him right that I was “obsessed with running so much so that I was hurting my health” I hadn’t run since my marathon six weeks earlier! His solution was that I just shouldn’t run marathons. (Obviously I ignored that advise!) Unsure of how I could apply this unhelpful insight I saw a sports med doctor. SO much better.

    I’m sorry that your doctor doesn’t understand your love and need for running.

  3. Ali, you may want to get a second opinion. Thing is, I don’t entirely blame this doctor. I don’t know how experienced he is etc but the old-school physicians are usually very set in their ways. Running may be exacerbating your Crohn’s and his comments for you to ‘stop running’ signal a frustration on his part on how to treat you because according to him running and Crohn’s are mutually incompatible and that’s that. No room for debate.

    A good physician will be compassionate enough to understand that this is something that is important to you, that people with Crohn’s have run races in the past, and so he/she should aim to help you control your disease without making too many lifestyle modifications.

    With something chronic like Crohn’s its so important to find the right physician because he/she will be managing your disease long-term and it sounds like this physician does not see eye-to-eye with you. Good luck!

  4. When I read this post hit very close to home. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease only two years ago (I’m 22). I ran on half-marathon before my diagnosis and three after. Not only did I laugh out loud while reading the Doctor/Ali dialogue, but I know exactly how it feels to want to do something a simple as RUN without being in pain or needing to run to the bathroom every ten minutes. And that “F you crazy doctor” feeling? That’s the only thing I could think when my doctor wanted me to stop running and get another colonoscopy too. My advice to you is to be healthy, whatever that means to you.

  5. My disclaimer: I have the utmost respect for doctors and those in the medical profession for the time, training, and education they have acquired. BUT…

    It sounds like you need to find a new doctor. You need one who is going to listen to you, and work with you to manage your illness without limiting your life. Our family has had some great doctors, and we’ve had some really, really awful ones. Like any professional relationship- you need to find someone to “work” with that you are confident in, someone you respect.

  6. What a frustrating Dr. visit! My experience with doctors is that IF THEY DON’T RUN, THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND!!! Dr’s who run (or at least do SOMETHING – swim, bike, etc.) understand runners. They get that running is about SO MUCH MORE than running. It’s about mental well-being and being able to do something that you not only enjoy, but love! I was told by a PT that I just may not have been “meant” to run long distances. She was wrong. I have run in 3 10-mile races and 4 half marathons. And you’re going to run your marathon – and ROCK IT! 🙂

  7. Hi Ali,

    I read your blog for a while… but never commented it before. I want to do it today because I was really surprised to see how your doctor speaks to you. From what I can understand from your writing, you seem to be a smart person, ambitious, motivated and full of willness. It seems to me that you care about what is good or not for you.
    How a doctor can be so cold ? Even if he could be right, they are ways to say that ! You are doing it to show that you can do it even with your disease. That’s a challenge. That’s the point !
    So, I will finish wishing you the best. And, I hope everything will go well 🙂

    Thank you for your blog !

  8. Listening to a doctor depends. If it is a sports injury, I’ll take a lot of heed in what my trainer says, but ultimately it’s my own body and I know it best. But then again, I don’t know what the extent of every injury is. I recently pulled my intercostal muscles, and had ribs twisting out of place. Not something I really knew how to handle, and I was scared of what it might progress to (fractured ribs).

    With something non-sports related, it’s hard. Most doctors aren’t athletes and don’t really understand the level you are capable of pushing yourself to. But they do understand the illness, probably better than you do. Someone mentioned earlier that you have been living with CD for a long time– if you feel like you are able to and it won’t make it worse, I say go for it. But let your doctor know what you are doing in case something does come up.

  9. Wow – can’t WAIT for you to prove that doc wrong… not only this weekend and at Hamptons Marathon… but at every race and every run beyond that!

    I haven’t opened up much in my blog about this, but there was a dark time in my life almost 5 years ago when it was unlikely that I’d ever be able to walk, let alone run. I’m grateful I can prove everyone wrong every day I run! Your story and openness about Crohn’s has inspired me to maybeeee one day share mine 🙂

    Hope you feel better and GOOD LUCK this weekend!

  10. By no means am I dismissing the seriousness of your disease, but I don’t want you to be freaking yourself out before a big race. I’m assuming the other bathroom issues you aren’t discussing is the blood in the stool. This can actually be some what common amongst endurance athletes, or those training for endurance events. Pretty much happens to me after every long run. My doctor told me that it has something to do with all the blood flow going to your working muscles and not to the stomach/ intestines. I got the full check up too. During the hot temps, if I even run over 6 miles I get stomach issues, so maybe this flare up has more to do with higher temperatures and it looks like you are pushing yourself really hard also (more muscle work) with tempo work. One thing I had to do was stop eating sugar, or at least less. For some reason sugar made my issues worse. I also will take imodium if going over 15 miles, stop it before it stops you. With all this said I know nothing about your disease and hope you don’t hate me for being a stupid know-it-all-who knows-nothing at all. I just don’t want you to add stress to your week/race because of some doctors narrow mindedness. Best of luck to u this weekend. You are doing an amazing job and all marathon training has it’s ups and downs so just roll with it and enjoy.

  11. Ok, so this is going to be a novel of a comment because I am both a medical student and runner. I apologize in advance!

    As for do I listen to doctors? Hmm….it depends. Doctors/med students make the worst patients. I have self diagnosed myself with a litany of things and almost went to the ER once with a chief complaint of “requests C-spine xray.” Seriously. But thats about me, not about you.

    Here’s my 2 cents. You have been living with Crohn’s Disease for a long time, so if anyone knows “your” CD it is YOU. You know your body best, how it responds to things, when something feels really wrong, etc. With this, you need the expertise of a doctor to help keep symptoms at bay, to to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest, to make sure nothing seriously wrong is going on where intervention is needed, and to make sure you’re able to live your life as you want to, which includes running. Yes, you need a doctor, but your doctor also needs input from you. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that you should be having a conversation with your doctor (rather than him dictating to you) taking into account both your disease and how it affects your life and, further, how you as a TEAM are going to keep you doing what you like to do. It needs to be a working relationship, if that makes sense, or I like the team or partnership analogy. Maybe for example you all could come up with “Well, we are going to increase the steroids and in the mean time keep running but maybe back off the intensity and then we will reassess the situation and reassess in a week or two bc I know running this marathon is very important to you.” The way I see it, the goal of a doctor is to get people back to health. Again, as I see it, health is being able to function at maximum performance, being able to do all of the things you want to do as a human. For you, being at “maximum” includes running, and I don’t think your doctor should discount this.

    If you like this doctor stick with him. If you don’t like him, seek a 2nd opinion. And by “like,” I don’t mean a personality contest, I mean someone who will work with you rather than dictate to you, if that makes sense. Someone who you trust and who you thinks understands what you want out of life and how your disease affects your life.

    If it were me, I would try the half marathon this weekend having the goal as only to finish and see how I feel on the day. Then, I would reassess the situation. Your Crohn’s flare up may be due to the stress caused by marathon training, the stress caused by work, or just bad timing. I think a cool and helpful thing for your doctor would be to create a “crohn’s flare up” journal to see if, over the years, there is something that pushes you over the tipping point into your flare up. It may be beneficial to take some “only easy running” after the half for maybe a week or so to see how your body and symptoms of CD respond. Further, maybe the remicade infusion next week will help calm down some of your symptoms. Finally, I also think making a food journal would be extremely helpful to see if you can make changes in your diet that will cause the least amount of symptoms.

    I hate to read about people hating doctors. I hope one of my patients never says this about me! On the whole, I think doctors have patients best interest in mind and want to make sure they are doing what THEY think is right, especially considering the knowledge base he or she has and knowing all that they know can go wrong (and they definitely want to prevent this from happening – remember, “first do no harm.”). So, you doctor may be trying to protect you from something bad happening. On the other hand, your doctor needs to understand that running is a part of your life, not an indispensible (sp?) thing. I would make sure he knows this. A lot of doctors run so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a GI out there that runs and may understand that aspect of your life a little better.

    Long story short: Your doctor needs to know and acknowledge that running is very important to you and put that in the framework of how you and he/she are going to tackle your Crohn’s and keep it at bay. A little give and take on both sides (doctor and patient), if you will.

    That being said, Crohn’s Disease can be serious and I don’t want to read about anything bad happening to you, so take care of yourself!

    Just some food for though, and I’m sorry for this LONG comment.

  12. Clearly your doctor has no passion for anything! Except medicine hopefully .. And whyyyy doesn’t CT have anything combining yoga and wine? So jealous!

  13. That is really frustrating. Given my boyfriend is a nurse practitioner, I was trying to put myself in his shoes and think about what he’d do in this situation (in a way, trying to give the doc a benefit of the doubt), but honestly, he LISTENS to his patients and your doctor doesn’t seem to. There is a huge difference. And seriously, another cute outfit. I want that dress! 🙂

  14. Hey there! I ran the Jersey Marathon this year while suffering from my most serious colitis flare-up yet. It wasn’t pretty nor was it my fastest race, but I felt really proud of myself for finishing. My doc is an IBD specialist and when the subject of not running was brought up he said to me, “Abby, I would never tell you not to run. If I thought it would benefit you significantly, I might recommend it, but I think the stress of not running would be a whole lot worse on your body.” I love that he gives me both sides: he’d tell me if he thought it’d be the best for me, but he knows ME (and I’ve only been with him for a year) and is treating me as a whole person, not just a colitis case. His points to me are as follows: rest when you need it (always!), hydrate and feed your body good stuff that doesn’t aggravate flare-ups (got it, no fiber/red meat/dairy for me) and train smart (gosh, I hope I have it down after all these years!) If you ever want his info, just let me know. He’s on the UES. Oh, and I check in with his PA (who rocks my world!) via email. No unnecessary office visits here. You can do it, Ali.

  15. Oh gosh… I have had doctors tell me similiar disheartening things about my running, and it’s always difficult and disappointing. No matter what, though, you know your body best and you just need to truly listen to it – regardless of your mind, a doctor, a text book, etc.

    But on a happier note, I love that dress!

  16. Your doctor doesn’t really sound like he has your best interests in mind. “Your best interests” meaning being able to run & live your life “normally” (for lack of a better word). I think it’s so important to listen to your own body, take care of yourself, understand your limitations and challenge them. No one knows your body better than you do, and I think it could be worth seeking a second opinion. You shouldn’t have to limit doing what you love (i.e. running).

    On another note, enjoy InDesign/InCopy! We switched over from Quark to Adobe CS at my college newspaper back in 2007 and it really is such a huge improvement!

  17. Ali – I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this. I have to echo the sentiments of the other commenters – maybe a second opinion would help? I’m sure that finding a credible, trustworthy doctor is not easy. In fact, I know it’s not, but I also know that this guy does not want to treat YOU. He wants to treat the sickness as he knows it in isolation. You are an active lady and you know what you can do. You have successfully run multiple half marathons, so the exercise you are doing now is certainly not excessive and you know your body can handle it. I hope someone will help you very, very soon. Meanwhile, I am sending all my most positive vibes your way and I will be in NYC soon to keep you company!

  18. ugh…sorry your flare up is dying down yet. Hopefully upping the dose will help (and maybe the cheeks won’t get too puffy either!). I do listen to my doctors advice, as they are trained and do know more then me…in general. but doctors can’t get into your head and body…and getting a 2nd opinion is not a bad idea at all. Remember that doctors aren’t perfect, and all they can do is the best that they can…. but like I said. 2nd opinion= usually a good idea, especially when it’s something major!

  19. Ugh so frustrating – your doctor doesn’t seem to be listening to the fact that you truly trust yourself to be running. The fact is, you have been doing it all along despite crohns, it’s just frustrating that he’s not fully accepting that or listening to you. I’m sorry. I know you trust him but I am sure it drives you bonkers when he tries to tell you to stop doing something you love. It drives ME bonkers and I’m not even you! haha. Hang in there!!

  20. I feel like your doctor is kind of “one-sided” to say the least. I mean if he really doesn’t want you running he should at least understand that no matter what you are going to run so he should give you advice based on your lifestyle. After all you are paying him.

  21. I had to do a double take cause I thought you said you pee’d on his computer! Ok, I feel a little crazy now, since you peeked at his computer:)

  22. ooh lady! Well, I’m glad he upped your meds and I hope it makes you feel better. I think non-runner doctors automatically go with the “well, then don’t run” route for SO MANY different kinds of complaints because it’s easy. I hate that they don’t think of the bigger picture – that running is good for us, it’s what we do, we love it, and we are not stupid and know our bodies. I’d take that advice of his with a grain of salt, but if you don’t like how he’s treating you overall, definitely get a second opinion!

    I like my hematologist, but two days before the NYC marathon last year he basically told me I shouldn’t run because my medication made my blood “too thin”, which is dangerous if you fall or something. He didn’t really think of the months and months I’d been training and how excited I was. The solution was pretty easy – stop taking the meds for a few days and everything evened out. I knew I’d be fine and would be able to run, but was totally freaked out that he told me just not to run the marathon like it was no biggie. I guess my point is that I pick and choose what I listen to my doctors about (but obviously not on serious health stuff in which they are experts and I am not), and it usually works out well (knock on wood…) 🙂

  23. I have a tendency to not listen to many doctors. So far it hasn’t gotten me into too much trouble.
    But really, try to find a new doctor. While this one might have good intentions, its hard to make a non-runner understand. Talk to other runners, your coach, yelp, anything, and find someone that wont immediately tell you to stop.

  24. hi ali !
    i’m really sorry to hear you are having such a rough time with crohn’s !
    i tend to listen to my physician’s advice.. but i don’t have any major medical problems so most of it is just “take a calcium supplement every day, etc.” i did have a physician once tell me i had to stop swimming competitively, and i took that advice. but that was largely because i was at the end of high school going into college, and i had to decide whether or not i wanted to have multiple more surgeries to fix my shoulder so i could keep swimming, or throw in the towel. since i wasn’t going to become a professional swimmer.. i threw in the towel.
    the physician situation sounds so frustrating! is this a doctor that you have been going to for a really long time ? someone that you really think understands you ? i think one of the most important things regarding medical care is having a physician who understands your values. it doesn’t really seem based on the conversation that you and your doctor were communicating effectively, especially when he offered to write you a note?? did you tell him specifically (or did he ask) how much you are running a week ? if i were in your situation, i would get a second opinion. i don’t even think that the doctor has to be someone who is a runner (although it wouldn’t hurt!) but someone who listens better and tries to work with you. i’m not sure whether or not you have asked, but do you know why your doctor doesn’t think you should be running? and whether or not it’s running in general, or running a certain amount?
    i really hope you feel better !!!!!

  25. Find a new doctor – STAT!

    As for me, well…I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. My primary care doctor knows I run. My rheumatologist doesn’t. Yet. I know she can’t do anything but yell at me (gently, she’s a very nice doctor), and even might not, but I don’t want to take the risk. She already scolds me for not being as good at taking my medicine and not realizing how swollen my hands are. I can’t help it – I don’t go around comparing hands with people! They’re my hands, I’m used to them!

  26. Seriously get a new doctor. One that understands athletes, and is willing to work with you a little more. Not cool.

  27. You have such a great attitude about all of this Ali. I really commend you! The part where the doctor asked if you needed a note to get you out of the race made me laugh out loud.

    It’s important to me to find a doctor who is a runner or at least understands a runner’s mind. I wanted a referral to an orthopedist last year and my primary told me “No. I’d prefer you just stop running for a few weeks first.” That was when I knew we weren’t going to work out. I finally found a doctor who understands that the cure for everything isn’t to stop it for a few weeks.

  28. I’ve found that doctors are not paid to solve the issue, but to treat the symptoms. I’ve also found that doctors think exercising is the culprit for all things unless they are educated about fitness. Most doctors are not. I’ve also come to find that they diagnose issues the way we do, guess guess guess.

    So if it were me, I would find a doctor who is runner friendly (maybe Coach Cane can recommend someone) and talk to him/her. Maybe you could do your own research online and see what you find. You can have an open dialogue with the doctor, give some different perspectives and see if you both can learn. Sometimes, a patient has to be the active participant. It’s annoying but I have almost no faith in the medical system anymore.

  29. I’m really really sorry you’ve been struggling with your health more than usual Ali. I can’t imagine training while also dealing with all the other issues. You are such an inspiration and an incredibly strong person. I know you’re going to run this marathon and run it well!!

    That being said, maybe it’s time to find a new doctor?? This guy may be smart, but if he doesn’t understand runners, then he’s probably not a good fit for you. I have a really hard time with doctors because many of them are such know-it-alls. And they’re so incredibly stubborn and set in their ways. Please don’t let him discourage you or bring you down!! I’m no doctor (obviously) but I do know that you often need to be your own best advocate when it comes to your health. I hope the meds help and I hope this doctor either comes around, or you’re able to find someone else who really understands where you’re coming from.

  30. I am lucky to not have had many medical issues in my life, but my brother has dealt with several serious (and often mysterious) medical issues. Watching him go through it, I have come to learn that medicine is an art, not a science. Doctors do the best they can, but often they are guessing, they are basing their judgment on past experience, they are overly cautious. More than one doctor told him he would never walk again (he was dealing with crazy joint pain) — guess what? He’s a runner. After a serious car accident, doctors told him he might lose the use of his arm — guess what? He uses that arm to punch his sister (hard!) all the time. He’s also a personal trainer and benches about a million pounds.

    It sounds like you still feel comfortable with this doctor, but there might come a time where it makes sense to try to find a new doctor who wants to work with you and your needs (rather than just arbitrarily eliminating things you love because they *might* make you feel a little better).

    Hope you’re feeling better ASAP!

  31. I listen when I like what she is saying. My new job doesnt have great insurance, so I only go when I’m super sick (and for the record: Bank of America has great insurance and I’m not happy my division was purchased by another bank and now I have sub par insurance). Last time I didn’t listen was this winter when my eye was swelling up to the size of a small peach on random days for like 3 weeks straight. She told me I was allergic to my cat and I should consider getting rid of MC (Matthew Cat). Hello, I’ve been living with the creature for over a year. I didnt just develop a weird allergy that caused my eye to swell and make me look like I’d been punched. It went away on its own and has never come back… so yeah, I know it wasnt the cat bc I never got rid of him. Yes. I know. I am a crazy cat lady.

    Is your doctor a runner? Because I know my chic hates animals (or that’s my impression) and probably has never had a pet so she didnt “get” me. Much like your doctor… non runners don’t understand our obession! He may be right, but it’s nice to feel like he understand you….

  32. Wow, your doctor kind of sounds like a jerk face. I giggled a bit when I read the “doctor’s note” part; clearly, he wasn’t listening to you when you said “That’s what I do.”

    While I totally get that doctors are there to do their thing, I truly believe that we know our bodies and our limits best. When I first found I was pregnant (5 days before my last marathon), my primary care doctor gave me a big fat “NO” on running the race. In fact, she told me no running at all in the first trimester. I decided to run the marathon anyway, paying very close attention to how I felt every step of the way. And everything was, and still is, fine. You seem to be keeping a careful eye on how you feel, so go with it!

  33. : ( Doctor’s don’t always know whats best. If running helps you reduce stress than it will help you keep your flares under control. I totally to your appt though – it seems like people with chronic illness know so much more what they need and what’s better for them. (eg, you basically tell him what meds you need, and you run the appt, and he signs off on it).

    But I lol’ed at “Ali is very sexy.” its def. hard to feel sexy when your colon runs your life!

  34. While I’m all for putting health before anything else, don’t feel discouraged by all the doctors visits and increases in medication. You’re so focused and strong that you’ll definitely be able to run this marathon! Just stay positive! And forget about those puffy cheeks!

  35. I think that you should listen to what your doctor has to say, but don’t instantly start doing what he advises just “because he said so.” You shouldn’t have to give up running unless there’s solid reasoning and evidence behind why you should give it up! And he should understand that, especially because it’s clear that running is something you love. Even if he doesn’t know you personally, if you’re training for a marathon, then it usually means you like running a lot. ha.

    Side note: I laughed out loud about the “doctor’s note” to get out of the race! I’m not sure who I would give that to….or why….hahaha awesome, Ali!

  36. Trust your gut Ali! If you feel like your doctor isn’t really getting what’s going on or where you’re coming from seek out a second opinion. It’s your body and your health.

  37. ugh your doctor frustrates me! any chance you could find a doctor who really understands YOU and your lifestyle? my GI dr never gives me shit about doing Ironmans…ugh! i hope you feel better ASAP.

  38. Hi Ali, I just started reading your blog a few weeks ago and I think with this post, I’ve completely fallen in love with it! Your conversation with your doctor reminds me of many conversations I’ve had with my adviser (dissertation-realted, not health-related, but the gist is the same). It makes me feel like I’m in a sitcom.

  39. Ali – I had really bad headaches everyday, for about a year. I had a Dr. who made me get two spinal taps, and then wanted me to get a brain shunt put in (brain surgery). When i went to get a second opinion I found out i needed a chiropractor to crack my neck. He cracked it and the headaches went away. Seriously. All I am saying is maybe you should think about a second opinion.

  40. OMG, we really need to find a time to bitch about waiting rooms, ridiculous copays and follow ups (seriously why can’t we do anything via phone/email), vaguely unhelpful suggestions but no real solutions. Your posts help me realize that way too many people go through this BS.

    Anyways, so excited that you are going to yoga and vino! See you tonight!

  41. This makes me SO mad! Surely it can’t be that hard to understand that people want to be active even when they have a disease. For years I had a really weird undiagnosed virus that caused me to be in a wheelchair & bed-bound and no doctor understood that I was NOT ok with that lifestyle and that I didn’t want them to just keep shoving steroids in me and call it a day. I finally stopped going to traditional doctors and tried “alternative medicine” and it cured me. Is there a way you could change doctors to at least one that “gets it” more than the one that you currently go to? Alternative medicine is generally not covered by insurance (which is horribly frustrating), but maybe just a traditional doctor that is willing to think outside of the box a bit & who doesn’t think running is bad for you. So sorry you had to deal with that yesterday! Keep that good attitude!

  42. Ah, doctors can be frustrating. I had a neurologist tell me that I was faking seizures and blackouts because I was being abused at home. Two brain surgeries later, I’m great. My oh-so-loving mom (who is not abusive) definitely gave that first neurologist a piece of her mind.

    I think it’s wise to do what you’re doing, combining your doctor’s advice with your own wisdom. Sometimes, I think doctors get frustrated and just say whatever they think may work, even if science may not thoroughly prove it.

  43. The offer of a doctors note kills me/crack me up – this isn’t the mile in middle school gym class or that weird fieldtrip noone was interested in…(or was that just me who wanted out…….?)

    Vino y yoga sounds like a dream- I may have to recreate that combo, formal event or not. Enjoy! And enjoy InDesign- i used to LOVE playing on that program! (I’m being serious….obviously I’m just too cool……)

  44. 1) I fired my last doctor for running excessive tests (which he gets paid for) and making me come to his office (which he gets paid for) every few weeks as opposed to a phone follow up (which he doesn’t get paid for). Want to get your point across? Say you take notes and keep records of all of your medical care/treatment and ask him what CPT code he uses for an office visit and what CPT code he uses for a phone call? (the answer: he can’t get paid for a phone call)…..
    2) you should always question (read: question, not disregard) your doctor. you know yourself better than anyone, and the best doctors I’ve ever been to are ones that are good listeners above all else. If he tries to treat you like “every other GI/Crohns” patient – he’s clearly not a good doctor and should be “dealt with” (i.e. fired) accordingly….
    3) I wouldn’t spend a $40 co-pay to tell my doctor what to do and be undermined. sounds like you diagnosed yourself, as well as determined your own course of treatment……not sure how he “earned” that $40 from you (which, interestingly, you pay him a $40 co-pay, your insurance company probably paid him $200+ for that visit, at least)
    4) the other way to “get your money worth” especially for him making you wait so long before seeing you……drag your appointment on as long as possible, ask as many questions as you can think of. The doctor gets paid by the VISIT, not by the hour/minute….so the longer he spends with you, the less valuable his time becomes…..

  45. I try to listen to doctors as much as I possibly can. I just went to the doctor to find out about my little foot and it took him two seconds to diagnose me. He was a sports medicine doctor so he emphasized the importance of getting me right back to where I used to be – I love that he refused to compromise my running goals. He said if I listen to him, I should be back to running marathons in no time. Have you ever thought about going to a sports medicine doctor? Not sure if any specialize in Crohn’s….but that way they would understand more what you’re going through. Anyway, as always, I so admire your positive attitude and conviction!

  46. I had a boyfriend with chron’s and he was on all those same meds, did remicade, the works. He also managed to swim competitively in college and totally lead a normal life. I think your doctor just doesn’t understand runners in general. If you can push through, or plan out pit stops, you will be fine!

  47. I think you need to find a GI who is also a runner and understands what you do isn’t excessive!! How rude. Of course, that is easier said than done probably.

  48. I think it’s standard-issue (not to mention really annoying) for doctors to 1) assume any female with an ailment is pregnant, 2) tell any runner with an ailment to stop running. Unless you’re going to a doctor that is also a runner, he’s pretty unlikely to “get it.”

    Is your Crohn’s disease going to magically disappear if you stop running? No. I’d follow his advice for medication and continue doing what you’re doing. You’re a stronger runner than many of us without Crohn’s, that kind of says a lot, if you ask me.

  49. Ali-
    So, I ran a marathon during a colitis flare-up this spring and had long talks with my fabulous doctor about it. He assured me that, as long as I was TRULY listening to my body (which I do) and resting when I’m wiped-out (totally!) And staying hydrated (yup), I’m better off not giving up the running. His exact words to me were, “I think you not running is a whole lot more stressful than you running and we know stress is a problem. You keep running, we’ll take care of the rest.” If you ever need/want a second opinion, let me know. I’m sure you have a great doc, but just in case. He’s on the UES @ Cornell. Oh, and I check in w/his physician’s assistant via email instead of having $25 follow-up-talk-about-your-blood-results visits. Hang in there!

  50. I always get a second opinion. If BOTH doctors are of the same opinion, I listen. Otherwise, not so much. I try to use common sense.

  51. First, I am really looking forward to see you tonight and to this yoga and wine event. I had a really rough night last night and I am not sure which I need more, Ki Power Vinyasa or wine. I’m actually thinking it’s the vinyasa though.

    I really like how you transcribed the conversation with the doctor in this post. It read like a book or a play. That said, I think you absolutely need to go to another doctor. Not that your doctor isn’t very good at his job, but I do believe there is a doctor who will be more understanding of your own interests (running) and might have ideas on how to work through this. This doctor seems not to understand and I think that causing him to offer advice that isn’t really helping. It is so important to get second opinions and keep searching until you find a doctor you can be comfortable with.

    Just his comment “running excessively” bothered me…

    I’ve had two colonoscopies. That prep is the worst. I really hope you don’t have to go through another one and I hope your meds start to help. I have no doubt that you will be able to run your marathon.

  52. I find doctors to be hit or miss, and I tend to listen more to those who I know get runners. When they get it, I don’t question the advice, even if it’s not to run. If they don’t, I go back and forth like crazy and usually end up running anyway, at least as long as I feel up to it. I’m sorry you’re feeling crappy (pun intended)!

    7 minutes get ready + ponytail is my MO. It’s really much more convenient that way.

  53. OMG Ali! I hate your doctor I am so, so sorry he said that to you! Can you find a GI doctor that specializes in treating athletes or is at least athletic him or herself? That is such awful advice, and I hate that you had to hear that.

    I had a doctor tell me my pelvic pain was because I didn’t love my husband (it was really endometriosis) and another tell me that my back pain was caused by running and I should stop (it was really a herniated disk). Some doctors just suck!

    I really hope you find a more understanding doctor, and more importantly, get some relief soon. I cannot imagine how frustrating this is. Thinking about you!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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