I Was Risking My Life Every Time I Went For a Run and I Had No Idea.

Okay, maybe the title is a tad dramatic, but not entirely untrue.  For the last few years, I have been pushing through pain that was a sign of something much more serious. 

It first started to nag me when I was marathon training. At first, I ignored it.  When ignoring it offered little relief, I decided to google it which lead me to believe that I was suffering form histamine intolerance.  At that point, I eliminated even more from my already very limited diet only to still be suffering a majority of the time.  I was miserable, I was bloated, some days, I could barely move.

Fast forward to May of this year.  I woke up at 1 AM with searing pain in my upper right quadrant.  All signs pointed to a gallbladder attack so I drove myself to the emergency room only to be tortured in search of a diagnosis yet left with very little answers. It was horrific.  

About a month later after switching docs demanding a HIDA Scan, I was told that my gallbladder was only functioning at about 20%.  During the operation to remove it, my surgeon discovered that my “diseased” gallbladder was only part of my issue – what was really plaguing me was my incredibly redundant colon.  So redundant, in fact, that it was twisty, loopy and seriously pushing on my gallbladder.  The surgeon advised that removing the gallbladder would only resolve half of my issues – in order to get real relief, I would need the extra colon removed. 

When Running With Stomach Distress Becomes Dangerous
After coming out of surgery and hearing all of this, my immediate plea was for them to just remove it, take it out like they did my gallbladder…nip, tuck, throw it away, say hasta la vista to it.  Of course, it was not that simple. 

That was in July.  We are now in January.  In these last six months I have been on a slew of medications to help with what is known as slow transit constipation.  Basically, I have really crappy motility in addition to having a super redundant colon.  I can thank my genetics for the redundant colon – the lack of motility just comes along with it. 

These medications included 290 mg of Linzess, 24 mg of Amitiza, Trulance, Lactulose and Miralax – all for chronic constipation which truthfully DID NOT work.   They all would either work for a bit then not at all or just not work, period.

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Appointment after appointment I would tell my doctors that the meds weren’t working, that I was in pain – constantly sick to my stomach and so bloated that it hurt to even wear pants….so full that I could barely breathe. 

Finally, I decided to document everything – both on paper and with pictures.  

belly 2

One look at these pictures and they referred to me a robotic surgeon. 

After MONTHS of waiting to get in, I finally saw him last week.  As he sat down with me and reviewed my chart he explained to me that the report from my gallbladder surgery was very concerning.  It described a very loopy, floppy colon that was so torturous that all the extra was pressing up against and pinching my gallbladder…which probably didn’t need to be removed in the first place. 

As I spoke with him I explained I had a family history of emergency resections due to the issue, I showed him these pictures and explained how bad it hurt to even walk, let alone run somedays.  I told him how poor my quality of life has been, how every day I struggled to function.

His reaction to my pictures was pure horror….at first he asked jokingly if I was sure I wasn’t pregnant then he went on to explain how much danger I was really in.  He said that I was already at a HIGH risk for my colon to become twisted just due to my anatomy and my family history but I was at an even HIGHER risk because I was a runner. 

He warned that every time I was going out for a run and jostling my organs up and down with every step that I could have ended up with a volvulus (twisted colon which results in a bowl obstruction) without knowing it right away then all the sudden being in so much pain that emergency surgery would have been imminent.  For lack of a better term, I’m a ticking time bomb.

He also explained that those moments when my belly would bloat like it did that I was already partially obstructed.  He advised that I get surgery as soon as he could get me on the schedule – which he did.  On February 13th, I will be saying BYE FELICIA to the loopy, floppy, non-functioning part of my colon and having a subtotal colectomy performed – which will NOT require a bag.

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Most people would be terrified but I am stupid excited.  I cannot wait to finally be able to literally breathe again.  

The recovery is about 3-5 days in the hospital and then 6-8 weeks of getting back to “normal”.  I am not nervous – I have been here before.  I have rebounded from abdominal surgery three times (2 c-sections and gallbladder), I will do it again.  

I will come back stronger than I’ve ever been, I have no doubt and I plan to document it as I do.  Obviously you won’t be seeing strength or running workouts from me for a while but I will be sharing my journey on how to get back to being a badass after major abdominal surgery. 

I write those words down as a promise to myself and also so you know what to expect from me in the following months. It might be a walking workout and a smoothie recipe at first but gradually (which is the smart way to do it), I’ll guide you through how I will regain my core strength so I can get back to the speed workouts and strength workouts with the Ultimate Sandbag I love so much.  

If you have been through this and have any advice for me, I would love to hear <3 

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About me

Annmarie is a self proclaimed foodie, avid long distance runner and functional fitness coach. A DVRT Master Trainer, HKC Instructor and food allergy sufferer, she writes about strength training for runners as well as shares allergy friendly recipes for busy athletes.   She is also the owner of Strength In Motion Studio, mother of two sassy sisters and wife to a chronically busy chiropractor.   Subscribe by email for updates to get the latest workouts, advice and recipes straight to your inbox!


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Autumn @ AutumnPTW.com
Reply January 24, 2018

Annmarie, Im so very sorry to hear of all the troubles youve been experiencing. I had no idea. Im sending you good thoughts and vibes regarding your health. May there be more ease in your coming days love.
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angela @ happy fit mama
Reply January 24, 2018

Oh wow! How scary. I hope the surgery gives you relief!

Reply January 24, 2018

Oh my goodness! I have to say -- through all this you seem to have kept a very positive outlook. I can't imagine the pain you've been in and I'm so glad you'll see some relief soon. I'll be thinking about you!

Rachel Frutkin
Reply January 24, 2018

Oh girl, I’m so sorry to hear about this but I can only imagine your relief that there’s an end in sight! You will feel so much better after this and I look forward to following your journey. Hang in there, tough mama!!

Kimberly Hatting
Reply January 24, 2018

Seriously???? How frickin' scary! I'm glad you have an answer, even if it involves the surgery. I'll be thinking of you as you recover and rally back. Your attitude is stellar ;-)

Laura @ This Runner's Recipes
Reply January 24, 2018

That is scary! I hope your surgery goes well and brings relief!

lindsey @ livinglovingrunner
Reply January 24, 2018

That is scary! I can't believe that they have allowed this to go on as long as it has! That would be maddening! I hope that your surgery goes well and you are able to start fresh with a new normal :)

Reply January 24, 2018

Wow- This is pretty scary stuff, but I totally understand how relieved you are at a)getting a diagnosis finally, and b)the fix that you need is happening soon! I wish you a speedy recovery and good health throughout!

Reply January 24, 2018

Annmarie you are already ahead of the game as you are so positive realizing what has been behind & how great things are going to be ahead of you . Wishing you a wonderful recovery following instructions & you really will be feeling fabulous before you know it. Looking forward to seeing you all in Ocean City !! We love all of you .. take care & keep us posted

robin parker
Reply January 24, 2018

bless your heart. prayers for you!

Jennifer @ Fit Nana
Reply January 24, 2018

Holy crap, Annmarie!! I'm so sorry you've had to struggle with this for so long! I can't believe they made you wait so long when they actually knew what the problem was. So crazy!! I'm so glad you finally have a surgeon that's ready to help you! My knee surgery was the same way - lots of fighting and waiting and demanding and it finally happened. I will be praying for you and I know that you are totally going to bounce back! I'm so glad you're getting that surgery!!

Reply January 24, 2018

Oh Annemarie.... I sure hope this surgery brings you relief! You’ve had such a tough journey.

Katie Shepherd
Reply January 24, 2018

So thankful you will have your surgery and I bet you will be feeling so much better after recovery! I have had 4 abdominal surgeries (3 C-sections and 1 partial hysterectomy). My parietal hysterectomy surgery was tough but I pretty much recovered fully after 6 weeks. My fitness is still not back to where it was last summer, but I’m getting there and doing my best to marathon train! Prayers for a smooth, flawless surgery and quick healing for you!

    Reply February 4, 2018

    Gosh, 3 c-sections?! Two was enough for me and why I don't have any more kids, haha! Thank you so much, I have no doubt this surgery will feel like a breeze in comparison!
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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
Reply January 24, 2018

That is insane!!! I'm so glad they figured out the cause. Do you read GiGi's blog? It sounds a lot like some of the stuff she went through.

Sending good thoughts for a successful surgery and a fast recovery!

Reply January 24, 2018

You are a badass for persisting and making sure an answer was found! I'm so happy you're finding some resolution - what a relief! Stay strong and positive, lady! XOXO

Reply January 24, 2018

Lady!! I’m SO sorry you have been dealing with all of this, but I am so glad they figured it out! I have no doubt you will bounce back stronger than before!! Sending lots of prayers!!

Reply January 24, 2018

Yowler that is some scary stuff. I hope that your surgery goes as planned and that you feel much better soon. Sorry about your gallbladder though.

Jamie King
Reply January 24, 2018

OMG, Annmarie, I'm so glad you are getting the treatment you need!! And you are so strong and so brave. We'll be rooting for your speedy recovery xoxo

Erica @ Erica Finds
Reply January 24, 2018

This is so scary! I'm glad that you know what is going on and that you have a plan of action. I hope your recovery is swift. Keep us posted!

Reply January 24, 2018

I'm so so glad that you finally have a diagnosis/reason for what's been going on!! I hope you have a speedy recovery from the surgery. <3 Sending you lots of love, and please keep us posted! <3!!

Reply January 24, 2018

Wishing you a speedy recovery Annmarie. I know you’re a strong girl and you will get through this. Hugs!!

Nicole @ Fitful Focus
Reply January 25, 2018

As scary as this is, I'm SO HAPPY the doctors are finally getting to the bottom of it. Also, huge kudos to you for taking control of the situation and documenting everything! I can't wait for you to feel better!

Reply January 25, 2018

Hi. I totally understand what you're going through. I too am a runner who has a redundant tortuous colon with motility issues. I'm on prucalopride to help though I'm not convinced it helps. Many years ago I had an emergency cecopexy where part of my intestine was attached to my stomach muscle wall after having a volvulus. I bloat regularly, can't run in evenings can only run in the morning and often hear a 'clicking' noise when I run. I've been in hospital since with extreme pain, in the middle of a 50 day running streak, but no operation this time but suspected volvulus which corrected itself. I've had various scans, x-rays etc and am now seeing a new consultant hoping for some answers. In the meantime I just keep going. I'm glad your treatment is moving forward. Good luck with your operation i really hope it brings you done relief. I look forward to hearing about your recovery.

    Reply February 4, 2018

    Oh gosh, Ness. I am SO sorry you have had to go through all of that. How painful and scary - you shouldn't have to live like that! I know what you mean about not being able to run in the evenings - I generally run as soon as I get up on an empty stomach but have cut back my miles and kept the distances short since my convo with the surgeon. I am hoping and praying that you are given some answers soon with a real solution. I will be posting about my recovery here but please feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat <3 <3 aelicatese recently posted...Vegan Carrot Cake Protein SmoothieMy Profile

Reply January 25, 2018

Oh my goodness! I'm glad that you figured out the problem but I'm sorry you have to go through such a major surgery for a solution. I have a redundant colon too, but fortunately not nearly as twisty as yours! Good luck, you know we are all pulling for your complete recovery and return to running.
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