Today is my first tournament of the year. The Challenge Rive-Nord near Montreal. It's my third time doing this tournament. And some things are different. One, I'm no longer going with Eldest. She's decided to take a break from karate competition because she's in school now and exploring all kinds of other sports and activities. Karate competition (especially the training for same) is extremely time- and effort-intensive, and she asked to be allowed to focus on other things for a while. So I'll only have myself to worry about today. (Plus all the students I help coach and encourage... and their parents... I guess I'll still be busy enough.)

But the main thing today is that I'm coming back from being seriously unwell. Things started going wrong in early December. I'd caught a nasty bug at the World Championships in Orlando in November, and it just wouldn't go away. I kept pushing myself, hoping exercise and plain old denial would eventually get rid of it, but alas. Continuing to push myself caused me some aches and pains that were more serious than usual, and I reacted by taking over-the-counter painkillers (aspirin and motrin). I was managing fine, until December 6 when I suddenly felt really terribly nauseous at the dojo. I mean, I went from normal colour to green to ghostly white in 10 minutes, then was sick. To my surprise, what came out of my stomach wasn't my lunch but an impressive quantity of blood.

Ugh. That can't be good. While concerned friends urged me to head to the ER I emailed my doctor and described the situation, hoping he wouldn't hit the panic button. I hate hospitals with a vengeance. Don't want to go, ever. Unless I absolutely have no choice. Fortunately, my level-headed doc didn't panic. He said the painkillers had messed up the lining in my stomach, and to let him know if things got worse.

I'm new to drug overdoses. (I'm crazy in many ways, but not when it comes to poisoning myself.) The truth is I hadn't taken that many painkillers. I was quite careful not to exceed the recommended dosage. But I took them for a solid week, of not 10ish days, and at some point my body couldn't cope anymore.

My stomach, kidneys and liver all malfunctioned for about two weeks. I was white as a ghost, extremely weak (at the lowest point, I couldn't walk 20 feet without collapsing), and very out of it. Of course that meant no training for a while. I nursed myself back to health by sleeping lots, eating toast, drinking tea, and napping some more. Eventually, I was able to make an attempt at training, around the beginning of January. I've been getting progressively better ever since, to the point where I was finally able to train for 45 minutes on Wednesday without holding anything back. (And boy, did that feel good.)

I credit my overall fitness for being able to come back, more or less, in six weeks from such an episode. I don't know what kind of shape I'll be in at the tournament, and how I'll perform. But in a way I don't really care. I went pretty far down and clawed my way back up, and that feels good enough for me. I'll do my best to earn some bling anyway, because that's how I roll.