Perseverance learned in the waiting room
By: Michele Yates
170 doctors visits, 6 more hospital visits or stays, multiple imaging and a few hundred lab tests…all within 4 years. (Trust me, I know some have it way worse)...but much to my surprise, my perseverance hasn’t been learned through my ultra running, it’s absolutely been learned in all these waiting rooms.
“Perseverance- my “word of the year” I said on January 1st, 2022. Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. “
My heart was racing, my hands felt clammy and I could feel the urge to vomit coming up. Before I knew it, I was filling up puke bags left and right (kind of cool ones too, with rings around the top and bag attached… way better than puking into a bucket/tray where it splashes back up at you!). The nurse came in, almost scolding me for throwing up, telling me I ate too much too quickly (and all I could think of was, I’m an ultra runner lady, what do you expect?).
That was my flashback from 4 years ago when I had my totally thyroidectomy and life would change dramatically (total thyroid removed due to both autoimmune antibodies -graves and hoshimotos). And note I didn’t necessarily say for better or worse.
Some of you know that I have been unable to race since then. Some of you may not have even realized (I mean we were in a pandemic, you have a life, sooo) . Truth is, I have been stuck in bed for hours or days at a time over the past few years, exerting myself with exercise is a privilege, a blessing, and what could have possibly caused such a debilitating circumstance?
The reason, the one that has taken doctors and myself all these years to figure out…. Reactive Hypoglycemia. It’s not the complete answer but a significant portion of it! And they also found a weird, new adrenal deficiency they haven’t seen before....lack of epinephrine.
“Reactive hypoglycemia- In people without diabetes, hypoglycemia can result from the body producing too much insulin after a meal, causing blood sugar levels to drop. This is called reactive hypoglycemia. Reactive hypoglycemia can be an early sign of diabetes.”
For me, the doctors still are unsure of why this is occuring (yes I do have the autoimmune aspect that could be venturing to Type 1 diabetes), it is also exercised induced (aka- hard efforts especially- like trying to hike up a mountain), present when fasting and if you ask me… “I’m just short on the sugar.” :) In many ways (aka: HANGRY anyone?). My improvements only came from supplementing with the amino acid our bodies already make, L-Glutamine. We now know that L-Glutamine directly introduces glucose into the bloodstream. Thus it’s helped me to operate at a 25-50% level. Another troubling aspect is a rare adrenal insufficiency that I have. Nope, not addisons, it has to do with the medulla (the center of the adrenal gland) and those hormones. I have little to no epinephrine and norepinephrine (yes the flight or fight hormone!). So don’t be expecting me to scare off easily when a bear jumps out! Or move quickly with a wild fire! (Yup this really did happen, I continued to chop veggies and look out my kitchen window at the wildfire not even a half mile from my home… thank God, Wyatt had his game face on!).
Finger pokes, L-Glutamine, and cool 24 hour glucose monitors that don't work super well though for Reactive Hypoglycemia.
So as I continue to battle these challenges and doctors further need to investigate, I move on to the next obstacle. Side note: I have been as active as 50% to my previous exercise regiment. I’ve maintained a low body fat percentage, my strength work has been consistent (and I’m even as strong as I was before the thyroid surgery- WHEN my glucose cooperates)...so don’t count me out yet! “I’ve still got a lot of work to do but a lot of fight left in me!”
Coccygectomy- certainly sounds like some weird science experiment my almost 8 year old daughter is doing but really it is a surgical procedure in which the coccyx or tailbone is removed. And this will be my 7th big surgery and it’s happening this month.
Beware of sledding! Even if you have gone sledding for years, walked the course, and scooted down the hill to break the course. You never know when you will shatter your sled and your bum on a small ½ inch stump that just pops up out of nowhere!
Unlucky, maybe … but the one thing I lean hard on is God’s word and knowing he has a good reason! But gosh darn it, sometimes these challenges cause us/me to go “REALLY GOD, WHY?!” (especially this one due to pelvic floor dysfunction, 5 months of fun internal coccyx manipulation, constipation, peeing my pants and more)... So how could a broken bum be beneficial? Afterall, I was trying to do good, I didn’t feel well, but knew my daughter needed to spend some fun time with me. Is this a punishment? Or as I like to think of it, another “direction change” by God, FOR ME.. not TO ME.
Well, as I noted above. My life drastically changed. Going from an elite athlete to bed was not in my plans. But that’s the thing, ARE WE EVER IN COMPLETE CONTROL? If we aren’t then who or what is? Whether you believe in the universe, God, buddha, I think one important thing we forget (and that we could agree on) is that we are not in complete control. We have things we can control, but there are plenty that shape us into who (I believe) God wants us to be. We have purpose and we have callings. Our purpose is to serve others (again my opinion, don’t throw stones, you don’t have to read it if you don’t believe it). Our callings- not only are very individual but are also changing (when you were in high school your calling was to be a good student to prepare yourself for your future and now how has that changed? Does it need to change more? Do you feel like there is still something missing? Or more? ).
So perhaps, all of this needed to happen in order for me to take the trails that are leading me to my new callings. My BEST life.
What does your tree of life look like? Is it still growing? Is your trunk strong, foundation firm, roots entrenched? So your branches can grow strong? So you can grow new branches, new directions, new life? OR do changes need to be made?
We all have broken branches, different branches, and produce different fruits/talents. It’s how we tend to them and use them that matters.
My tree is growing, I’m strengthening my trunk with God’s word, (providing me with knowledge, comfort, and confidence), so I can serve others with my gifts and talents that are changing as I mature. When our stories leave us feeling isolated as mine has, both physically and mentally, God’s word invites us to see our pain as part of the bigger plan.
“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." "As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good." "For you have a need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." "But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Galatians 6:9
What good has come of Michele Yates’ hardships?
SheRUGGED (faith based, fitness program for women) will be launching this month. This program never would have been thought of if God didn’t give me these challenges, slow me down, and get me thinking on how I could help other women build their confidence, their friendships, their fitness and their faith. - Without running or maybe with his blessing I will return. I’ve learned I am more than running, I can inspire through other ways.
Rugged Running- would not have been blessed with Coach Salynda Heinl’s knowledge, passion, and encouragement. Myself and those that have worked with her nicknamed her Saint Salynda- truly a kind, solid person to be around.
Youth Soccer- I would not have been able to help coach my daughter’s soccer team that was one of the most nerve racking or challenging things I’ve done (you may be laughing at this, but I feared screwing up the kids, or not being able to connect but much to my surprise they helped me grow a new solid branch to my tree of life as I hoped I did for them!).
My Marriage- a personal but one most of us can relate too. Throughout this process, this has been the hardest. There is no joke to the whole “In sickness and in health” wedding vows. From both sides feeling like we weren’t enough, to financial strain, to parenting fumbles, to lack of boundaries, and crappy communication. BUT, we made a commitment, and even though I kick him out on the couch (especially with his terrible snoring :), we TRY to work through things (and no it’s not perfect), but the action is what speaks louder than words, and even though I am not a marriage expert, I want to highlight the WORK aspect of marriage. Just like losing 5lbs takes work, so does a marriage, so does a healthy friendship, so does anything! I am not throwing stones, just reminding myself and you, that great things take work.
“Great faith is the product of good fights.” - Smith
“If four things are followed - having a great aim, acquiring knowledge, hard work, and perseverance - then anything can be achieved.” -A.P.J
There’s that word perseverance again…
Ways You Can Improve Your Perseverance Skills
Don't be afraid to fail. Perseverance comes from failing and getting back up. ...
Be 1% better every day. ...
Begin to take risks. ...
Understand resistance. ...
Exercise regularly. ...
Build a network of support. ...
Keep your goals in mind. ...
Set clear benchmarks.
Understand there are uncontrollable circumstances, and then those that you can control (example: nutrition is a controllable circumstance whereas inheriting certain diseases may not be)
Wallow in God’s word and know you were never in control in the first place.
So as I venture into my 7th surgery, I will give it to God and continue to work on my perseverance. And although we could argue if I just sat in bed or didn’t go sledding, I wouldn’t have had to have this surgery. I could kick myself for going sledding that day and bringing more health problems upon myself but I think we can all agree that if any of us “knew” a certain HARD outcome was about to take place, we wouldn’t do it. Therefore, again, control the things we can and give the rest to God. It honestly takes the load off.
Special thanks to all of those who have continued and do continue to support me in my endeavors, surgeries, and battles! Icespike, Gu Energy, Wyatt Yates, Angela Soltysiak, Heinl’s, McCloskey’s, and all the epically awesome Rugged Runners and SheRugged members.