Fast forward to September... I was in the midst of training for some fun September races when my world was turned upside down once again, literally, with me tumbling off my bike and breaking my collarbone. Another humbling moment, another setback, but nonetheless am I learning that challenge has a way of building resiliency.
That said, the obvious main focus of these last 3 months has been in recovering from my broken collarbone and in listening to my body while progressing toward a normal training load. I am happy to report I am now back to full functioning (yay!) even though I may not be back to 100% of my pre-injury fitness. While it's probably not common to think back upon an injury and think "I'm incredibly thankful" that is honestly how I feel in regards to my experience. First and foremost, I am thankful for a God that protected me and also brought me peace through this entire process. Second I am thankful for the reminder of just how blessed I am to be surrounded with a strong support system of family and friends. Third I am thankful for how smoothly the recovery process has been, largely thanks to the wise and steady guidance of my husband (in-home PT :) and coach.
Fitness-wise, I am much further along at this point than I expected. The date of my crash was Sept 10th, and my surgery was Sept 14th. I was able to return to cycling on Sept 23rd (9 days post-op), obviously riding the indoor trainer for quite some time before returning to the open road. My first run was Oct 25th (41 days post-op) and you better believe I was over the moon with the clearance to FINALLY move faster than a walk. From there, I slowly began rebuilding fitness until hitting a bit of a "speed bump" here recently as I'm currently working through "dead-butt syndrome" in my right glute. My guess is that probably has something to do with me sitting so much post-op, and favoring leaning on that right side. It's frustrating, but I'm working through it.
In regards to swimming, I pushed to get back into the water sooner rather than later. I knew the longer I was away from the pool, the harder my return to swimming would be. I was back in the water doing "pool PT" on Oct 10th (yes, only 26 days post-op), and back to actual swimming 4 weeks later on Nov 7th (54 days post-op). Currently I'm back to swimming 2x/week at roughly 2000 yrds per workout, but more importantly, I'm a happy fish and enjoying the water and my workouts! It's been a long but steady progression and my left arm tends to fatigue quickly, but I know that will continue to get stronger with patience and consistency (a primary theme in my training as of lately).
While all of this has been going on, I have also been quietly "rehabbing" in another aspect of my health. With my withdrawal from Ironman Chattanooga back in June, my gut instinct told me something was very off, and honestly I was tired of my doctor's dismal of my symptoms and complaints. At that time I switched PCP's and sought out a second opinion by booking an appointment with a local integrative and functional medicine doctor, though I was not actually seen until September. Ironically that appointment was the day after my bike crash... and yes I walked into that office with a still very broken collarbone because I was NOT about to miss it. Long story short, after extensive testing and a comprehensive medical history/interview, I was diagnosed with CIRS or "chronic inflammatory response syndrome."
CIRS is more commonly known as biotoxin or mold illness. In short, CIRS is "an acute and chronic, systemic inflammatory response syndrome acquired following exposure to the interior environment of a water-damaged building with resident toxigenic organisms, inflammagens and volatile organic compounds.” Based on my medical history, I've likely been battling this since 2012-2013. It all makes sense now in why, within a short period of time (~18 months), I went from very little health issues to back on medication for anxiety and depression and was diagnosed with ADHD and asthma as an adult.
That news came with mixed feelings - it was overwhelming knowing I had a long road of "therapy" ahead of me, and yet also a huge sense of relief in that I finally had answers in regards to the state of my health. It was a moment of clarity and affirmation that I HAD made the right decision earlier this season. My body and immune system were overwhelmed and the difficulties I had been facing were the outward signs that things were amiss. Before knowing exactly what was going on, and instead of continuing to dig a deeper hole, I gave my body the rest and care it was calling for. I have zero regrets. It has been an interesting journey and above all things I am thankful to finally have answers and for the guidance of a medical professional to bring me back to optimal health again. That said, this is something that I am very much still working through, so in this regard let's just say "to be continued..."
While 2017 has been a year of challenge, 2018 is looking to be a year of change. Christmas came a little early in the Chang household in that on Dec 20th I was offered (and gladly accepted!) a full-time position with my alma mater, Virginia Tech. For the past 3 years I have been teaching as an adjunct instructor within the department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. Officially as of December 25th, my new title is now "Instructor/Assistant Director of Nutrition and Dietetics." In short, I will be serving as the assistant director of a new master's level supervised practice program for students working toward becoming registered dietitians. I am beyond excited and still in disbelief regarding this next step in my professional development!! I have always seen myself in a coaching/mentorship type position, and I can't think of a better opportunity than proudly serving the program that has molded me into the dietitian and professional that I am today. I definitely have my work cut out for me and this position will bring a lot of change from both a professional and personal standpoint, but I think (ahem, I KNOW) I am up for the challenge!!!!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
Iliac Artery Repair & My First Overnight Hospital Stay
Learning to Let Go
Full House, Full Hearts
No One Ever Said It Would Be Easy
Hearty Miso Soup
My Motto for 2018
Proud Athlete Of
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