The Gall of the Universe

I’ve had one of those really crap weeks. You know the type – traffic fine, smashed iPhone, forget to turn your wi-fi on and use up all your data with 15 days to go type weeks.

I thought it would end with that but obviously things on Planet Stephanie can deteriorate rapidly and take drastic unexpected turns without notice.

I’ve been really stressed for most of the year since I decided it would be a good idea to run four marathons in three countries in seven months on the back of a chronic injury. Marathons stress the shit out of me so naturally I set myself near impossible goals to feed that stress. I think you call it being a Drama Queen or something.

To add to that stress I’ve been pretty unwell since April with hideous stomach pain. At first they were fairly infrequent and I tried to put it down to something I’d eaten but I never went to the doctor because as soon as they find out I run marathons they often tell me to take a break and try swimming instead (good grief, as if).

These pains have interfered with my life significantly because when they strike they leave me unable to do anything but lie down.  My greatest fear has been that they will happen on race day. The first time it happened was about a week before the London Marathon and then it happened again a few days later. I was staying with gorgeous friends in Cambridgeshire who I only see once a year and I spent the whole time in bed in agony. So from thereon my fear has been having the pains appear in the middle of something important – particularly during one of my marathons.

Two nights before the Australian Outback Marathon I had the worst episode I have ever had and after it hit at 8pm, it continued all night and by 9am I was still bent over in pain with only an hour and a half before I had to be on a plane to Ayres Rock. I was in our kitchen in tears telling Rob I couldn’t go as there was no way I could even get on a plane and he said “Steph, they always pass. Just get on the plane”. So I did and he was right.

Over the past two months the pains have become more frequent and more severe with the added symptom of intense fatigue. It has interfered with my training big time and that is probably the only reason I finally went to the doctor. I really wish I’d gone months ago. For a while I thought I was allergic to nuts, so I quit them, then we thought it was gluten so I quit that too.

So earlier this week after the $254 fine for dropping my daughter off in a bus zone, the smashed iPhone, using all my data by accident, having to cut short my long run because after 7km I was too tired to continue .. I finally went and had an ultrasound.

Gall Stones.

Stupid effing bastard gall stones.

When my GP first suspected it, before I had the ultrasound, I said to her “I’m thinking I won’t have the ultrasound. I am going to New York in October for the marathon and if I have the scan and it is gallstones then theoretically it’s a pre-existing condition I knew about and if anything happens in the US I won’t be covered if I end up in hospital”.

She looked at me with a “are you f**king serious look” and then said to me “You are an idiot. You have four children. This could be something serious and you’re worried about a marathon?”.

I don’t know about you but I’ve never been called an idiot by a GP before. Not to my face anyway.

She then proceeded to tell me that “well I now know so it already is a pre-existing condition if insurers were to seek our records”. And that was that.

Now I know how insane it is. I see it on the faces of all the non-runners I tell. They too look at me with that “you’re an idiot” face. However when it’s my running friends or my trainer they say “Can’t you just not eat anything with fat in it until you get back? How many days after the surgery will it take for you to run again? Can’t you lie to the insurers, would they find out? Do not worry, you’re going to New York if I have to push you over the finish line”.

They understand. But I fear it’s because they have the same running sickness as I do.

Tomorrow I see yet another doctor and then a surgeon to discuss dates of when my gall bladder will be removed and I’ll get a nice little holiday in hospital. Hopefully I’ll still get the Sydney marathon in and I’ll have enough time to recover for New York but at the moment it’s all up in the air. I’m devastated to say the least and can’t even take solace in a giant cheesecake. It’s not the surgery I’m worried about, or living without a gall bladder – those things don’t phase me at all – it’s the timing of it and missing out on something I’ve put nearly a whole year into that is killing me.

So naturally, after today’s ultrasound telling me I have ten billion tiny gallstones, I went and had a really fatty dumpling lunch with my dear friends BabyMac and Mrs Woog and we chose all the foods that would irritate my gallstones and we laughed about how much agony I’d be in later and neither of them told me I was an idiot. God bless friends who agree with your insanity!







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