Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Series of Unfortunate Events


This was the name of my favorite book series when I was younger. It’s the story of the three Baudelaire children whose parents are killed in a fire and are placed in the custody of their evil cousin who plots terrible schemes to steal their inheritance. Seemingly everything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong. Sounds dark and horrible but is somehow charming and entertaining.



With every negative situation that I’ve faced this year, I feel more and more like the Baudelaire children, having a continuous string of unfortunate events block my path. Slightly less dramatic since my parents did not die in a fire and I don’t have a cousin trying to kill me, but similar nonetheless.

I came home from the Olympics feeling upset and directionless after my disappointing experience. A few days later I had a generous offer from Craig Taylor at the RTC in Guelph to train with his group and get ready for the World Championships in October. It was the perfect opportunity to try something new with a refreshing change of scenery. Craig and the group here have been fantastic, and Guelph really is a lovely place to train. What an awesome bunch of happy, positive people.

I had some blood work done about a week after I arrived just to make sure that everything was normal. I was feeling tired but assumed this was just an effect from training hard again. Unfortunately the numbers came back with some of the lowest iron levels that the doctors had ever seen. It is a simple but quite serious problem that likely had a huge impact on my race in London, and got overlooked because of the focus on healing my injury. The fact is that it is not really possible to continue to train at the level I need to in order to have the result I am looking for in 6 weeks. I’m devastated and frustrated that I can’t have a shot at another race this season. I was hoping to restore some confidence in myself after the Olympic disaster. I guess this will have to wait until next year.

I realize this is fairly private medical information that I’m sharing, but a lot of people are asking what my plans are for the rest of the season. Iron deficiency anemia is something that a lot of athletes struggle with and it is a fixable, treatable problem. For now I need to focus on what I CAN do. Some good lower intensity base training while I work on getting my iron and energy levels back up. This might actually be a good thing, establishing a good foundation for next year so that I can come back strong and healthy. Liver for dinner, yes please!

At the end of 13 horrible wonderful books, the Baudelaire children eventually overcome their misfortune and the author Lemony Snicket leaves off with this:

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.

Keep a good outlook, and a series of unfortunate events may not be so unfortunate after all. I knew these kid books were good for something! Thanks Lemony Snicket.

Onwards and upwards…


21 comments:

Gregwh said...

I hope you like seafood because clams are really high in iron...sometimes sand too. Someone(like a Federation) should create a checklist of things that can go wrong for an athlete before a world class sporting event, and then clear each one periodically. Your best days are ahead of you Paula!

Mark said...

Get healthy, Paula. We're all sending you positive thoughts. You'll be back at it in no time.

Gillian Gook said...

Consider iron shots... I am a runner and it is the only thing that has worked for me. And it works a lot faster than supplementing!

Larry said...

Hey, you are in inspiration to us all. You are young, and driven, and have a plan...that is more than most of us can ever say. Be calm and carry on....I'm sure you saw that sign somewhere in London.

Jen said...

Good work taking time to rest and take care of yourself:) Last month I couldn't train like I had in the past and discovered I had a ferritin of 5. Feeling like you've been hit by a truck when all you want to do is train is brutal. Hang in there all-star. It takes time but you'll get where you want to be.

domerzu said...

976 suurallPaula, ditto everything that has been said. You are a remarkable athlete and we are so proud of you. But your health is number one! My daughter struggles with anemia. Take time and get those levels up and secure. You'll be back in no time!

domerzu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Godkin said...

Have they determined the cause of the iron deficiency?

Baheera said...

Well now that they know what’s wrong the docs will get it all fixed up and Canada will once again have the number one female triathlete in the world.
You rock Paula..

Christine Ridenour said...

Hey, I read all those books too!

Peter Henderson said...

"I do put a lot of trust and faith in the experts and medical people around me" you say in The Globe and Mail. I would like to question. "Do you really?" Did you take iron as recommended? As you say, this is an "seemingly simple" stuff. Easy fix, if you had followed the recommendation, that is. You admitted not following instructions easily in this.

www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/olympics/paula-findlay-on-her-hip-injury/article4463910/

Now I am really starting to see the other side of the story. Plus, Simon and his team had you leading up to the Olympics. Why didn't they do the test in the last 2 months?

sumo said...

Oh, Paula, how I feel your pain. Same thing happened to me but it started with finally being able to run with fibromyalgia. Then running became harder and harder. The dead last position at a race was the low point. Doc confirmed my iron was at 8.
It just seems like one more thing after another doesn't it? My only advice: accept what's happening and eat loads of kale - it has more iron per calorie and beef. So while you're recovering, setting goals and visualizing your awesome future, stuff your face with kale chips. :)

Marie-Claire Thauvette said...

Well we are all cheering you on Paula! We believe in you! Things will turn around now.

Diet has a profound effect on athletic performance! It can often divide athletes that are at the top of the game. I would recommend an anti-inflammatory diet such as Julie Daniluk's not diet but Live-it! As a nutrition consultant in Ottawa this is the plan I teach in my workshops.

By the way, liver is the most amazing food you can eat to increase all of your liver and mineral stores, but make sure that it is organic or grass-fed as liver is a filter and it can house pesticides etc.

Cheering you on to go all the way. I share my mantra: 'Ad Astra Paula, Aim High!' Hugs from Ottawa, LemonBliss

Becky said...

Iron supplements are literally hard to "stomach" - if you take a vitamin C tablet at the same time as your iron, you'll absorb it better.

My hemoglobin was as low as 68 (normal is 120-140) for women) before my hysterectomy, so I know how to build red blood cells.

Robbie Kaboni said...

All the best Paula! Keep your focus on you! I love your perspective on life, or how you choose to look at this series of misfortunes. This outlook will take you far! Your best days have yet to come!

Donloree said...

Paula, I am so sorry to hear about your health issues. I know the pain and lethargy that comes from severe anemia, I hope you sailing down the path to health. I am sure you are working with amazing doctors and coaches, but my issue had to do with Hashimoto and gluten. Managing both of these has helped my body absorb iron, whereas it didn't for a whole year. Get well and do your thing, we can't wait to see what is next for you.

darcy brown said...

Peter Henderson: you're an idiot. This girl is laying out some pretty serious medical info and you come out with a comment like that?

Give your head a shake man. You're a joke.

Morgan Armstrong said...

After reading your post Paula, I had remembered how some days, I would be so tired, it was all I could do to get out of bed. Then one day, I was having severe dizzy spells. So I decided to go to a doctor and have some blood work done. I got my results back, and guess what? I am anemic as well. If it weren't for me being a triathlete and following your blog, I may have just brushed it off as nothing overly serious, but my symptoms were all very similar to yours and it got me in the Doc's office.

Happy Training!

Carol Elliot said...

Hi Paula

I have to apologize to you for a little incident recently. I met you completely by surprise at the Olympian parade in Oakville, we shook hands but then I was at a loss for words because I had temporary brain freeze. My memory failed and I was thinking you hadn't finished your Olympic race so I wasn't sure what to say initially. Then afterwards my memory came back and I remembered how you struggled and finished that darn race. I am actually totally in awe of you and the strength and courage it took to finish. You are really my hero. I am 54 and only started doing triathlons 1 year ago, after years of doing marathons. I have done a Sprint, Olympic and recently Half Ironman so I idolize you and all the other Olympians. I know you will come back strong and have a tremendous future ahead of you. Sincerely, a big fan :-)

debd said...

I had the same problem. I am an ultra marathoner , and was feeling really low in energy this winter / spring. My doctor checked my ferritin levels, and they were very low. I had 3 iron infusions and now I feel back to normal. I just completed a 100 mile race, something I thought a would never be able to do just a few months ago.
Glad you got things figured out.

Colleen said...

Hey Paula,
You're my inspiration, I was diagnosed with a labrum tear and FAI this year--the fact that you came back from this very painful, inhibiting injury to compete in the Olympics and have been progressing so well is remarkable. How is it doing?