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Triathlete Blog

Doctor’s Orders

By October 18, 2007June 8th, 2015No Comments

The other night I made a call to Dr. Nuts. I wasn’t feeling well.

Imagine that?

I could deal with congestion from a cold I had developed, I could deal with the blisters, I could deal with the pain from the blister I popped under my toenail (seriously how do you get a blister UNDER the nail?) but the swelling in my legs that had Chris calling me “cankles” for the past few days – now that signaled something was wrong.

Time to call Dr. Nuts.

I remind him I’ve done Ironman. He himself is an endurance athlete though he finds Ironman to be a bit extreme (I am not listening, I am looking the other way). I tell him my legs and feet are swollen. How unfair. I spend months training, 10+ hours racing and I am left with fatty legs.

Anyways, a few hours later Dr. Nuts returns the call. Asks a few questions to find out more. Almost instantly he has an answer.

“Your kidneys are tired.”

My kidneys are tired? Come on, kidneys. It’s not like you had to work hard during the race or anything. You have no excuse. Now feet, feet have the right to shut down and die. But kidneys? You’re vital organs. You are supposed to deal with extreme levels of pain.

So I asked Dr. Nuts to explain.

Apparently when you are very hot your body gets dehydrated (yes, I have Dr. Nuts explain everything to me like I am a 1st grader). As your body gets dehydrated, it becomes focused on cooling the body down. In doing so, it starts to divert blood from lesser important organs to cool the more important organs. In other words, kidney and colon are not as important as oh say….heart.

But wait, there’s more. Dr. Nuts goes on to tell me that in endurance events blood is being diverted to other muscles that are being pushed (like for example, legs). With the lack of blood going to organs, the organs become a little hypoxic and start to shut down. This is what causes diarrhea during the run – your colon was not getting enough oxygen. This is also why you are swelling – your kidneys were shutting down too and now are having a harder time moving water through your body. Without moving water the salts are not getting moved so you are having water retention.

First this strikes me as interesting. To know that when all logic leaves your body (I’ve been training for Ironman, it left months ago), your body automatically kicks in a contingency plan. Has a hierarchy all laid out and selectively chooses which organs will stay and which will go (could it not have sacrificed an ovary first?). Second this strikes me as scary. It makes me realize the risk of doing endurance events and makes me wonder if I have slowly been killing my colon for the past 8 years.

So now that I have nearly killed two very important organs (imagine life without pee or poo) what can I do?

“Don’t take Advil, don’t eat salty foods, and, Liz, don’t add insult to injury – elevate your legs and don’t do a thing,” he prescribed.

Clearly Dr. Nuts didn’t know the plan for the rest of the month was nothing other than eat, drink, and eat and drink again. In fact, I was well on my way with a delectable dinner that night featuring pesto chicken, bread with loads of olive oil, and peanut butter cups. And for my good girl points – some salad. What to wash it down with – wine. Red wine.

Uh-oh. What about wine?

“But what about wine?” I asked – yes, most importantly what about wine? Would it be safe? Would it kill my organs further? If so, would I be willing to pay the price? Maybe. Because you cannot have recovery without wine. You cannot celebrate the end of the season without wine. You cannot wash out 140.6 miles of pain and delayed onset muscle soreness without WINE. WHAT ABOUT WINE?

(I didn’t even dare ask about coffee)

“Liz, I want you to drink wine.”


I have HIT the doctor jackpot. Did you hear that? DID.YOU.HEAR.THAT? I have been prescribed wine. Prescription – wine. Trade name booze, liquor, the sauce. I have been ORDERED by the DOCTOR to drink more wine. Write that on your little piece of white paper and tear it off.

Life is fair after all.

Wait a minute…..This can’t be right. Is Dr. Nuts for real? Should I call the board?

Why wine?

“Wine will stimulate your kidneys because of the alcohol’s diuretic effect.”

Oh. Huh. In other words……”just ‘cuz.” I mean, did you have to get and get all fancy with terminology on me? Let’s just keep it at “I want you to drink wine” and who cares the reason why. But just as I started the happy dance in my kitchen, Dr. Nuts broke through with more technological stuff.

“And Liz, I want you to urinate 2 – 3 liters per day.”

WHOA. Cease happy dance. We might have to do some math. Hmmm….2 – 3 liters per day. I have no idea how many cups that is or how many trips to the toilet. But I do know what a liter of pop is and…….dear god has Dr. Nuts literally gone nuts? 2 – 3 bottles of pop per day? I see no way that is humanly possible unless you put a pull-up on me and let me go about my day. I’d never leave the can. I’d run out of paper. I’d call that a workout for my quads because I would have to squat at least two dozen times.

And I’m not working out until November.

What to do?


**I just had a brilliant idea (now that I am not training 20+ hours a week there is plenty of time and space for brilliant ideas)**

Meet me in the bathroom and I’ll bring the wine. We’re having a party in the potty and you’re all invited. Bring your bathing suits because I’ve got one of those fancy tubs with the little jets that make bubbles in the water. If things get crazy we’ll cover ourselves in overpriced lotion and turn the bathroom floor into a slip and slide. Because if I’m going to be peeing 2 – 3 liters per day, I’m going to need lots of wine, lots of friends, and a toilet very close nearby.

And so once I got off the phone with Dr. Nuts I commenced the treatment plan. Poured a glass of wine, put my feet up, and indulged in peanut butter cups. Treatment plan worked so well I found myself asleep later that night on the floor in front of the computer. And that was only after one glass.

Yeah, it’s going to take a few more treatments.