Friday, October 16, 2015
I have always loved Fall! It is definitely my favorite season … but Spring runs a really close second … and when Spring arrives I always say that Spring is my fave and Fall comes second. Whatever, so I change my mind sometimes.
One of the reasons that I came to love Fall is running. The best marathons come up at this time of year. In fact, there are all kinds of great races of all distances. Track workouts and long runs start to become those things you look forward to because of the relief from hot and steamy days. Good, hard, fast-paced tempo runs feel easy compared to a month or so earlier. Wow.
I have to admit that I really miss all of that. One of my favorite things to do for a few years was to go out and run a pretty good pace for a very, very, very long run. I would go out and run anywhere from 50K to 80K (31 to 50 miles) and then spend an hour or so sitting in the sun on an old bench on the back porch that has peeling green paint and has to be backed up against the back wall so it doesn’t tip over. I would sit there with a sandwich, chips, and a diet Coke. Then, I would get a cup of coffee and just sit there and stare out at the lake and enjoy the feeling of a special type of fatigue that made me feel strong rather than weak and tired. If I close my eyes and think quietly, I can almost smell those days and feel the sunshine. Those are great memories.
I also recently realized that I could call up some of the feelings of racing again. I guess I hadn’t tried to do that, you know think about how it felt and sounded and smelled and looked when racing. I’m not exactly sure what made me think of trying to pull those memories out of the cobwebs, but I did recently and it was really kind of cool. It made me remember a race against a friend of mine, Kim Certain. Kim and I used to end up battling out a lot of the shorter races. One time we both ended up in Philly or Pittsburgh, hmmm, somewhere northeast, battled out a race, and then ended up sitting together with her partner, John Hinton, in the same row on the plane home (totally unplanned, too).
But, I remember this one particular race with Kim in Danville, VA. Kim was a middle distance runner in college so she always took the race out hard. We were running a road 5K and I wasn’t sure how fast we had gone out, but it was all I could do to hang onto her. The first mile took us out and around a small loop downtown then right back past the start line (which also was where we would finish after an out-and-back in the opposite direction). We were coming up on the mile mark and I heard something over the loud speaker and then realized that Kim and I were leading the entire race, guys and all. We came through the mile in something under 5:20. I tell that story not because of the fast pace of the race, but because I could remember exactly how I felt as we came through that start/finish area, right down to the sun on my shoulders. I remember the smell of the paint stripping plant that we passed; I can remember exactly how my shoes felt hitting the road; all of it. And, remembering it all felt fantastic. I think I had refused to let myself think much about racing because I thought it would be a terrible feeling.
I never usually kept trophies or anything like that from races. I usually gave them to kids at the race who looked like they wanted so badly to have one of those big, shiny things to walk around with and hold onto. My husband kept some of them; I would have given all of them away. He has a row of some that he managed to hold onto on top of a row of cabinets in his garage. I kept some of the newspaper articles, magazine covers, and stuff like that. I actually do still have my Olympic Marathon trials race bib number on my bulletin board in my office; well, actually it is two race bibs (the number thingy they pin on you) because for Olympics and Nationals, you have to have both a front and back bib. I actually have no idea why, though. But, there you go, I guess I could give one away and still have one, right?
I would love to be able to run like that again, but every day I find that I’m more okay with the fact that it’s in the past. Memories. That’s what makes it okay. I have some awesome, incredible memories from running. I remember when I first started running well, my grandfather was still alive and he and I went for a long walk in New Jersey. Yeah, my family is from Paterson, NJ. Even though I have a pretty good southern accent, people who grew up in the southeast recognize that it’s a fake right away. I had a judge in traffic court ask me where I was from and when I said Paterson, NJ, his reply was something about moving from the ghetto to the South. Well, yup, Paterson is the ghetto. That morning walking with my grandfather to the bakery, he asked me how I liked running as a job. I told him I liked it a lot, but it was hard, that I was so tired sometimes … but, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. He asked me what race I wanted to run in the Olympics … What?! the Olympics?! I can’t … he put his hand straight up in front of my face and told me that I should never say I can’t do something. He told me that if you can make it into the top ten, then a third of them will not train hard enough, a third will be injured, and a third will not have their best day, and that leaves one more person … so just shoot for the top ten and let the cards fall where they fall. I wish he had been able to see me race.
Bob kept a bulletin board of newspaper articles for a while, then started a second one … that was when I started putting things in a plastic container instead.
Well, maybe one day I’ll pull the pictures and articles and stuff out and scan some things into .jpg files. I need a scanner to do that, though. Maybe if I pull it all out, I’ll be tempted to go buy a scanner.
Enjoy the Fall weather, but mostly enjoy the memories you’re making. It reminds me of a song:
These are days you’ll remember. Never before and never since, I promise, will the whole world be warm as this. And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true, that you are blessed, it’s true, that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.
I listened to that song on the radio in the car today on my way home from the hospital – I had to get some labs to clear me for some stuff next week. Yeah, it’s true, I remember and I was blessed … and, I think if I let it, it can still grow and bloom somehow because it was an amazing ride, amazing.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
I know that my posting has been so slack lately. I’ve been exhausted just trying to do regular life things that when I think about posting something new on the blog, my mind goes blank and I start to feel a little nauseous, almost like test anxiety.
So, of course, the basics are that I have this array of auto-immune antibodies that cause these diseases or syndromes. I have Type 1 diabetes, thyroiditis, asthma (but, they call it reactive airway disease), some GI thing that nobody has ever been able to identify (I think they just stuck me on axid decades ago and forgot about me, but I’m bringing it back up now after what I’ve been through lately), and the most recent and worst of all Stiff Person Syndrome.
Auto-immune diseases (or syndromes, as some prefer to call them) are poorly understood in the grand scheme of things. They are also quite rare. Having more than one is even more rare, and having Stiff Person Syndrome is a one in a million diagnosis. In Neurology, they have said that the onset could have been as early as 2009, maybe even earlier than that. But, I was diagnosed “officially” in early November of last year.
There have been ups and downs and many unexpected consequences of becoming sick with a chronic, incurable illness. I think the worst things stand out most … of course. I went downhill so quickly, it just made my head spin. I went from being able to run 50 miles almost on a whim in 7 hours and some change, or with some training 6 hours and something; I went from running my easy 10 milers every morning in 70 or 75 minutes; I went from being able-bodied and healthy … to having such horrible spasms/seizures in my back, abdominal, and leg muscles that they have broken bones. I was in so much pain throughout the entire winter that my husband had to help me get dressed, shower, get in and out of bed, use the bathroom … one of the worst moments was when I realized that I hurt so badly I could not pick up my 7 1/2 pound cat to hug her.
There have been ups, though, in a weird way. As I have been trying to hang on to even the slightest amount of teaching possible, I started to teach in the online course format. I can’t drive myself most of the time and it turned out to be an incredible experience.
I have learned about what true friendship means, that it is not anything to do with constant displays of attention (or even contact), but rather it is about connecting with people on a special and meaningful level. I learned that you can go days or weeks without speaking, but still know each other and still be willing to be there in a flash if needed. I learned that friendship is finding that I have compassion for people important to me, compassion strong enough that it can bring me to tears when I think about what they are dealing with. I learned that I don’t care about being popular or being liked or having to be tagged as the bad guy when I did the right thing.
There are more positives, but you get the picture: these are all very liberating things. None of them take away from how difficult some days are, but they have given me a new sense of what matters in the world and what does not. Some of these positives have freed me from a ton of social anxiety because I have been able to shrug my shoulders now and say, ah so what. Bob and I have laughed on occasion about things that have improved unexpectedly.
All that being said, I do have to admit that this has been a mostly bad thing. Yeah, the grammar Nazi in me hates that sentence, but it gets right to the heart of the matter. I know that there are no regular patients, no average, run of the mill patients. But, I have been plagued with one horrible reaction after another and that has made me think about all of the completely unexpected consequences of living with a chronic illness.
Right at diagnosis, I was put on a drug combination to quiet my immune system and within 48 hours I was in the emergency room with my blood sugar low but puking up everything I tried to get in me to get it back up. I had the ER visit from hell as it took over 40 minutes to get someone even to put in an IV and give me dextrose, all while my blood sugar hung out around 40 and I kept thinking I was going to die. When I finally started yelling, “help,” my husband got up and raised hell about what was going on.
I then had a stress fracture in my right sacral ala within a few weeks of starting the med regimen, but it didn’t show up on x-ray immediately – the bone marrow edema that was beginning did show up around my SI joint, but nothing was done about that. I was told by the fellow that maybe I could just take a vacay from the meds. Okay, I did, and things began to improve. Nope, I got put back on them (but I didn’t give up the fellow for telling me to take a vacay). Anyway, in about the same amount of time, the left sacral ala went. I spent the entire holiday season in so much pain, on crutches, and completely miserable. I stopped the meds again. Nope, back on them. Well, long story short, a series of bone density scans done just before I started the medication combo showed that my bone density was almost exactly the same as it was back in 1998 when I entered the Olympic Development Program – fine. What the recent MRI, a CT from back in April, and some x-rays taken at an angle to view the sacrum showed is that I developed something called bone marrow edema syndrome. As the marrow became increasingly compromised, the intense muscles spasms/seizures broke both my right and left superior pubic ramus, herniated my belly button, caused something sort of like a partial lung collapse called bilateral basilar atelectasis, and finally a fracture in my S1 vertebra.
While plenty of people do fine on some of these meds, I did not. I am finally in less pain, but unfortunately I can now see that the tightness and stiffness of my back, abdominal, and upper leg muscles has continued to worsen. The pain was making it hard to tell what was going on. Things still hurt, but thankfully not nearly as bad now that these fractures look like they are healing. I think one of the other truly difficult parts of this was feeling like I was not believed. Any article you read about fractures in the pelvic region will mention how incredibly painful they are, that they are one of the most painful injuries a person can experience. Bob knew how bad it was; hell, he had to clean up the puke when the pain got so bad I would throw up, he had to take me to the ER in the middle of the night, he had to help me to the bathroom, he had to drive me everywhere, etc., etc. etc. Thank God for my primary care doctor, who has known me long enough to know that I never complain about pain and would never even take anything like Tylenol – if ice and heat couldn’t do the trick, rest was required, period.
During all of this, I also ended up being attacked by a neighborhood dog, a totally freak thing, and it tore up my left arm. The ER visit turned into a lesson on SPS for the ER attending after the two newbie neuro residents quickly bolted, saying they had to go talk to their attending, never to return, and leading to the ER attending physician saying a few choice words about that in the hallway. That visit happened to be the one when my S1 vertebra fractured – I felt it and everyone in the room heard it go. Yup, that was a great experience.
I also developed a c. diff. (clostridium difficile) infection shortly after that. Oh, that was a fun one. The antibiotic for it is so awful that I was told to wrap it in part of a fruit roll-up and not to let it touch my tongue at all, ever. If I see another fruit roll-up before I die, it will be too soon. As sensitive as I am to meds, I of course had an uncommon (but not unheard of) reaction to the Flagyl (the antibiotic) – I became over sensitive to all of my meds. Long story short, pretty much everything got cut at least in half just so that I wasn’t comatose on the couch. It began within about 36 hours of starting the Flagyl. Bob woke me in the middle of the night because I was making odd noises and trashing around. When I looked at him and asked him who he was, he knew something was wrong – blood sugar was 28 and I was not cooperative. We ended up with juice all over the place, a cat hiding under the couch in the other room, scratches, etc. I got through the c. diff. finally … and the month of probiotics … but that one scared me.
On the upside, I think the lung problems (atelectasis that showed up on CT at one of the ER visits) are improving and I think that the pelvic fractures are healing. I still have bone marrow edema on the MRI and on x-rays, and I have popping and cracking inside my pelvis when I turn over or cross my legs or any number of things. I have also learned quite a bit about the way my health insurance plan works, whether I wanted to or not. I swear health insurance problems have become one of the worst sources of anxiety for me. It takes me an hour to get up the nerve and get all my paperwork together just to pick up the phone.
Another positive shift is that I think I am finally ready to start keeping up with running stuff again … oh no, not me running, but keeping up with what others are doing. It’s been a long time since I have felt like I could even hear about races or training. I even had trouble seeing someone running on a commercial. I’ve been thinking about going to watch some road races again.
Well, this has turned into a much longer post than I expected, but it sums it all up for now. I am finding some happy places in life, here and there. I just need to get a little bit of time without surprises!
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Anyone not new to this site knows that I used to be a professional runner. It was my primary job on my tax return for years. And, I had Type 1 diabetes for that whole career. Of course, I still have Type 1. I also have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, asthma, some GI thing … and now an auto-immune disease that attacks a very specific neurotransmitter and has quickly taken me from a former pro runner, Olympic Marathon Trials runner, a post running career ultrarunner who thrillingly managed to find herself world-ranked and earning a silver medal at 50 mile National Champs to a person living with a painful chronic illness that has completely changed my life forever. I have mourned the loss of my former life … trust me, my husband can vouch for that. I try to do the “chin up now” crap that my grandfather used to tell us when we were growing up, but I have not been able to do that. Oh, I want to move on and learn to live with whatever my new life is, but it’s hard; it’s hard because living with a serious chronic disease is hard. So, I read something today by someone about the weird ways that living with a chronic illness had changed her life … and so much of what she said resonated with me that I thought maybe this would be the ice-breaker to get me back online instead of hiding from everyone because I just want to wish this away.
I have also had so many things happen in the last month that keeping up with simple things has been difficult enough; keeping up with a blog seemed overwhelming. I had a terrible reaction to the last two days of IVIg infusion therapy about six weeks ago that left me with a photo-sensitive migraine (and I never get headaches), nausea and vomiting, extreme fatigue (like, I slept on the couch for about two days straight). I finally seemed to recover some from that and then I got attacked by a dog while out walking, ended up in the emergency room, had three seizures from the GABA dysfunction this neurological disease has left me with, and then just as thought I was starting to recover from all of that, I developed a c. diff. infection with, well, I won’t put much description but everything was bloody and I was way, bad sick. So, every time I thought I had the nerve to get back to blogging, I did not.
Anyway, back to the original topic … I decided I would just list things, in no particular order, to describe what is different about living with a serious chronic disease, thinking that maybe this would be a bit cathartic for me and put words to what some others have felt but could not really express to their loved ones.
1. PEOPLE LEAVE. I don’t just mean that people move on or move away or even that they take new jobs or whatever. I mean people leave. They leave you. For some, I think they may just have this vague feeling that they don’t have anything in common with you anymore when you can’t do the same things you used to do together. Maybe others just feel uncomfortable and don’t know what to say. With some, you simply don’t run into them anymore (literally for me). And, I think some feel like the fact that they’re thinking about you is a good thing on their part and they feel proud of themselves for that. But, what it boils down to is that people leave you. It hurts, but it’s a phase in learning to live with a chronic disease. The hardest part, though, is that many, many of these people liked what you had done or how you were perceived in whatever community of people we are talking about, but they didn’t know you. In fact, they don’t really care that they didn’t know you because that’s not what they were attracted to. So, they leave. You are not that person anymore. It may hurt; actually, no, let me rephrase that: it DOES hurt when you realize that, but you have to move on. I am not saying that I have conquered this one, but I have recognized it and I have learned how to verbalize it to my husband in a way that he can understand what I’m going through.
2. MY HEALTH REGIMEN HAS BECOME THE CENTRAL FOCUS OF OUR LIVES. As much as I wish this were not true, and as much as I was able to prevent that from happening when I only had diabetes to deal with (although it still happened to an extent then), everything about our day and night is ruled by my meds, by how I feel, by what I can do today, by what appointments or treatments are coming up, by the financial impact of living with this (to my left sits a bill for $20,200 and I just got out of collections for $70,000), by how much sleep we got (very little some nights and all the way through other nights), by how nauseous I am at any given point in the day (I have a stainless steel dog bowl under my bed just in case), etc., etc., etc. We plan around my health, so there is no getting away from it. It’s always about what meds do I need now, where is my insulin, what is my blood sugar, what time is it, did I do this or do that or take this or take that, do we need to set the alarm for the middle of the night because the day has been so unpredictable …? Yeah, there is no hiding from it and no pretending it’s not there.
3. I LIVE WITH SOME LEVEL OF PHSYICAL PAIN ALL DAY EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not everyone with a chronic disease has this one to deal with, but I do. To get out of bed in the mornings, I have developed a certain way to pull my legs up, one at a time, toward my chest until my knees are both sticking up side by side; then, I can lean my legs over toward the edge of the bed and hope that my knees clear the edge so I can then let my feet sort of swing down and sit me up like a pendulum. I still hurt, my whole back still hurts, but I’m up and I can sit still for a moment while I brace myself on the nightstand. Once I stand up, if I’m still for a minute, I’m okay to head off to the bathroom and then to shuffle quietly out to the coffeepot. I like to try to get up ahead of my husband so that I can get my first round of meds in me, get some coffee, and sit still outside in the little courtyard with Juliette, my fat cat, until moving doesn’t hurt quite so much. There are an endless number of these daily dramas for me now and anyone with a painful chronic illness deals with the same thing. Whereas I used to go to sleep at night with such great anticipation of morning (you would think the coffeepot meant Christmas morning had arrived), I now go to bed at least a little scared every single night.
4. I AM NOT THE LEADER. I spent so much of my life being the leader of any number of things, from racing, to working, to research, to school, to pulling away from the stoplight. I am no longer the main meal-maker; I am not the one who takes care of the lawn (although I can walk behind the mower for some level spots that my husband leaves for me); I am not the career research professor that I thought I would be now; I can’t even keep up with the neighborhood stand-up-paddleboard group (I can’t even keep up). I grew up with competition in my DNA. I don’t lead anything now and that won’t change.
5. I AM EMBARRASSED. I don’t want people to see this “not me” me. Nobody with a chronic illness wants to walk around feeling like they have a neon flashing sign around their neck that tells the world “different.” Yes, right over here, look over here at how incapable I am now. And, yes, all of us, everybody who lives with a chronic illness feels an urge to hit someone when they say we have nothing to be embarrassed about, that they don’t see us that way, that it should not matter what anyone else thinks. I cannot tell you how many people I have seen try this thing they do at diabetes conferences, where they try to get non-diabetics to understand what it’s like to live with diabetes, give up less than an hour into the day and start cheating. They start ignoring the cards that tell them what they have to do (like, immediately stand up out of your chair and without saying anything lay on the floor face down and mumble incoherently when someone touches you … in the restaurant during the peak hour of lunch – yeah, none of them do that one). I remember a friend of mine, Kerri, tell me about being at a diabetes conference and telling a guy who has done so much for diabetes advocacy he should be knighted, that she had a low blood sugar, really low; he walked her over to a table in the corner by themselves, got some juice and glucose tabs in her, kept having her check and recheck her blood sugar until it finally came back up and she was okay, and (most importantly) protecting her from having other people step into that vulnerable place she was in, just telling people things like, can you give us a few minutes to finish going over this. I will never forget that story because Jeff Hitchcock really proved to me that there are heroes in this world that will take the time to protect someone from having to face the humility of what living with a chronic illness does to us. And, if you are the parent of a child with diabetes, do not for one minute think that this hasn’t happened to your child because it has. Think about how you can teach them how to protect themselves from feeling like they are less than everyone else afterward, what they can learn to do to keep a protective fence around themselves until they recover.
Well, that’s my five. I have more, but I also have meds to take, insulin, blood sugar checks … oh, and I still have student assignments to finish grading. So, onward … as best I can!
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
So, today was an IVIg infusion day, 5 1/2 hours of being attached to the IV. At least this time, it’s with home health and I got to sit on the couch! My faithful companion would not leave my side the whole day! Holly is actually still protecting me now.
It was definitely a LONG day! I had an 8:30 am appointment over at Duke in Med-Psych, then Bob took me over to the flat trail for a quick joggish on the flat trail (I timed the miles on each lap down and each back – 10:00, 9:45, 9:31, 9:31, 9:14, 9:38). Wow, those were slow. I wasn’t trying to go fast (lest I would stumble – because I would), but those sound slow for even easy. Argh. I used to run 7′s on easy days for those miles and that was not too long ago. Anyway, I was very, very thankful to be able to jog those, so I am not complaining. I may not be able to joggish again until Monday or so because after tomorrow’s IVIg infusion, I will have several days of exhaustion.
That’s why I decided that I was allowed to eat anything I wanted to eat for dinner tonight and gelato sounded perfect, so gelato it was.
I guess we just have to see how tomorrow goes. I’ll hydrate a lot tonight and tomorrow morning because that is supposed to help.
Well, fingers crossed for now! I’m finished with teaching summer session, got attacked by a dog last Monday (notice the purple wrap on my left arm), and got IVIg today (and tomorrow). It’s been a pretty stressful time, so I have been very slack about keeping up with the blog. The smallest things have made me feel stressed, neglected, isolated, hopeless, depressed, and so on.
Things that normally would not bother me have bothered me. So Bob and I sat on the couch last night facing each other and just talking. I tried to walk around the yard to chill and it didn’t work. So, I came inside, waked over to the TV, turned it off, and told Bob that I needed to talk WITH him, not AT him. I won’t lie: this has all been so hard that if I did not have the responsibilities of Bob, my kitties, my students, my friends, my family, my home … I would not be here right now. At least I don’t think so. I’m not trying to be melodramatic and I am not suicidal, but living with this is so very hard. Losing something that was so defining for me, living in pain 24/7, having impending financial problems that I cannot even begin to explain from medical bills, and then still having to deal with people and where my life intersects with their lives (sometimes well, and sometimes not) … I would have chosen to say, thanks it’s been real.
But, I have responsibilities and I have things and people in my life that are so very important that I go on anyway and would never let them down.
For now, I am praying that the IVIg will help. The dog attack caused me to have three seizures that morning – one on the way to the ER and two in the ER. I was not prepared for that. Bob was not prepared for that. The ER staff was not prepared. The two brand new neuro residents who stood in the corner and then ran off asap to go consult with their attending were not prepared.
I think one thing that all of this has taught me, though, is to blow off the stupid shit. I just don’t have time for it. I have important things in my life and I think those are the things I need to focus on. I’m not perfect; I make mistakes, even now as hard as I try not to, but what the hell, so does everyone else. Ten years from now, if I’m still here or not, the stupid shit won’t even be remembered, so I’m just going to move forward.
I want to wake up and be able to get out of bed without every part of my body hurting. I want to be able to run. I want to be able to continue to be a professor, even at the very, very part-time level I am. I want to protect my home. Home is joy. I want to be able to go places out of town without an impending disaster.
All of those “wants” are the things I have chosen to focus on and to make happen because I don’t have the time or energy to worry about the rest. I know me, though, so I’ll worry about things I shouldn’t.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
It is only mid-June and we are already having 100 degree F days this week. I hope this is not a harbinger of what the rest of the summer will be. Once I became a morning runner (while working on my doctorate, because if I did not get it in first thing in the morning, the day could get too busy to get it in at all), the summer weather became less of an issue for me. Sure, the humidity was there, but the brutal heat was … well … a non-issue. Winter paid me back for that, though. I did find a way to get runs in just a wee bit later in the mornings during the winter, though: I got up at 3:00am, worked for about 4 or 5 hours, then went for a run, came back and got back to work and just ate lunch while working. It was a good trade-off. And, even though I am sooooo NOT a morning person, I found that I got a whole lot of really good work done really fast at 3:00am while the rest of the house slept and it was dark outside. I still have not figured that one out, but hey whatever. I stopped getting up at 3:00am pretty much right after I finished my doctorate, though!
With the high temps in the forecast, I was thinking back to those days when I was still racing and had to get my training in regardless of the weather. If it really got bad, the treadmill was always an option but a treadmill workout always resulted in some kind of odd soreness or some other problem – I think it changes your gait just enough that workouts are tough on the treadmill, but easy runs seem to be okay. And, there would be days where I would get on the treadmill for my easy, recovery run just because I was so sick and tired of dealing with the heat. Most of my treadmill training, though, was a winter thing because you just cannot run on ice and we get a good share of ice storms here in NC.
Most elite runners do their workouts and harder training runs in the afternoons. Part of that is a physiological thing – you truly run better, more efficiently, later in the day than you do in the earlier part of the day. Most runners pick up on that pretty quickly and they want to do their workouts in the afternoon or evening (we like to see fast times on the watch even when it is supposed to be just a workout, it’s true!). Most good coaches want their runners doing their hard workouts later in the day because they are less likely to get injured and more likely to handle a bigger workload. But, hey, if you are not earning a paycheck on the roads any longer, than mornings work fine!
I can remember days getting out for track workouts and tempo runs with the thermometer still into the 100s. And, we would complain, but we actually got through everything fine. Sure, the times would be slower for some workouts, but actually not usually. We drank LOTS more fluids and got in plenty of electrolytes. We were constantly trying different products depending on what company sent what to us and they all worked well. Right now, I have been using Nuun tablets in my water, but I have tried pretty much all of them. I like that the Nuun tabs do not have any carbs added so I can add exactly what I want (or not). I hate the alka-seltzer like design, though, because I have to prepare my water bottles ahead of time and when I carry one while I’m running, it sort of explodes a little when you open it. I am too lazy to look for something else right now and there they are on the counter at checkout (see, I do not get all this free product anymore).
I do not mention our runs, workouts, whatever in all kinds of weather to encourage anyone to be stupid, though. There were times that our coach would say, nope short and easy tonight. We were very, very fit as well, and we knew our bodies well enough to know when it was time to throw in the towel and say it was not happening. Just like someone would never try to take a hit from a 300 pound linebacker when not having years of football training and the body to go along with it, someone should never try to run through the kinds of workouts we did in the heat of the summer unless they are very fit with a long running history and a cardiac output that only the really top runners have developed. I can honestly say that going for an easy paced run of 10 miles or so in 100 degrees F usually did not bother me very much once I had gotten used to the summer heat … but I chose to run in the shaded forest, not the open road!
For the most part, though, I found that running in the heat and humidity was physiologically a lot like running at altitude. My aerobic capacity would explode by the end of each summer. It was that effect that convinced me to switch to ultras when I first started having problems with my running (too bad we didn’t know then that it was probably the earliest signs of the Stiff Person Syndrome that I am trying to learn to live with now – well, actually, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered anyway). Even though I started having problems with faster turnover, I could run the same pace all day … literally.
My coach was not one to listen to whining. He never acknowledged when we whined about things like the weather; he just nodded his head, said okay in a very sympathetic tone, and then said we could talk about it after the next interval (and, of course, that went on until the workout was finished). If my time fell off too much, either he or I would pull me out – of that, I am certain. I think runners learn a lot from each other, from those they train with day in and day out, but we also learn about our bodies and I think that is why you find very few experienced runners getting in trouble with the heat. We have learned, we have accommodated, we take care of ourselves and each other, and we listen and pay attention to the signals we get from our bodies. But, we will still warn each other not to be cavalier but, rather, to be smart.
And, now, after I have gone on bragging about how I used to run in all that heat, blah blah blah, I will admit that I am actually a weather weenie. Yes, yes I am. I will whine about the heat. I will whine about the rain. I will whine when it is too cold. I whine when there is snow on the ground. I am a weather weenie. So there, I said it! Yeah, I did my training back in the day, but I hated the heat and humidity. I hated the cold, too. I hated the treadmill. Poor coach … he had to listen to all of that!
Please be careful in the weather extremes and listen to your body. If it is just not happening, then pack it up and head home. You want to be able to look back like I do now and have some funny memories not horror stories. So, be smart and careful, but you can find a way to get some exercise in. It may not be the way you want to do it, but there is usually a way to get it in. Be creative. Leave happy footsteps, even if grudgingly, in your memories. With the things I’ve had to deal with lately, I actually take great pleasure in remembering how me and my training partners got through our training in tough situations. I am thankful to look back and have happy, safe memories … ones that I can laugh about!
Thursday, June 13, 2015
I talked to my old coach on the phone yesterday. His oldest had just graduated from high school earlier in the day. I was certain he was lying because there was no way that much time could have passed. It was really, really good to talk to him, even though it was brief because his house was growing more chaotic by the minute as we talked.
He’s coaching someone now who is trying to reach Olympic Marathon Trials and so I’ll eventually get over to some practices and get something on a regular basis set up. So, of course, we laughed about a few things from the past and it was good to laugh about some of those things because less than an hour earlier, I sat in the exact same chair balling my eyes out to my husband about how terrible everything was and how I wondered when I would reach the point that I had become more of a burden than blessing to this earth.
Don’t freak out here, people, I was upset, not suicidal, because on top of everything else I found out that we had now been sent to our insurance company’s collections claims unit for about $70,000 – yes, you actually DID read that number correctly. This has been going on for quite some time now with back-and-forths between the benefits office at Duke and UMR by Wellpath, as part of Duke’s health insurance plans. So, UMR needs Duke to send them information that justifies the use of IVIg infusion treatments on me for Stiff Person Syndrome. Duke benefits office said they had not been asked for that information. Call-back to UMR, who then sent me a copy of the letter they sent as certified mail when they did not receive responses to their electronic requests and I told them that Duke said they had not received any requests for information. I read the letter to the person on the phone and said, maybe now you can find the letter that reads exactly like this one???? Oh, yes, why there it was. Oh, but the benefits office said they can’t act on the claim until UMR denies the claim. Oh really? Well, I also happen to be holding in my hand the denial of the claim and the denial code is “302″ which states that the requested justification had not been sent after several tries and the patient is now responsible for the outstanding balance and has 45 days within which to pay said balance. Oh, I was told, you can ignore that because it looks like we have someone working on it now. It looks like someone was assigned to your case on June 1st. This was for bills from February. Yes, February. When I called UMR back, they gave me a 180 day grace period. [note: in case, you're curious, yes, I intentionally named the parties, I am very aware that I did that, and I know that this may be read by said parties]
So, yesterday, I had been sitting in the exact same chair, crying, telling my husband that I was not going to be the source of financial ruin for our family, that I was tired of being in pain every single fucking day from the time I get up until the time I go to sleep, that I was sick of insulin and test strips, that I was considering taking myself off of every medicine I had been put on, that I was going to cancel myself out of the Neurology Clinic because I simply can’t afford it or the IVIg treatments or the meds or anything, that I can’t function well for long enough periods of time, or predictably enough, to work except to teach one online course/semester now, and that I was just useless and I had made nothing of my life and now I never will. Yeah, I think I pretty much got it all in there – that’s about how it went. So, all that really managed to do was upset my husband as well as me.
But, I talked to my coach about an hour later. It was hard to speak without sounding all nasal and nasty like when you’ve cried enough to have snot coming out of your nose in gallons. We laughed about the first time I broke 36 minutes for 10K and started puking before I even crossed the finish line; the time I ran 33:09 for 6 miles and barely beat a Kenyan girl who had let me do all the front running and then tried to take me out on the end (it was Mother’s Day weekend, I was sick with a very infrequent head cold, and a sponsor had said they would match my race winnings, but only first place got anything – $2,500) and I was not giving up $5,000 no way after leading the whole way; about my first Olympic Trials qualifier that I ran in Virginia Beach that was filmed by ESPN and showed me falling on top of the girl in front of me at the finish line who had put everything she had into holding me off (in slow motion, over and over, which elicited the comment from my mother, after 26 miles didn’t you have two seconds left in you?); we laughed about the crazy track workouts and the tempo runs; we laughed about how the girl he’s coaching now is also a doctor and I told him about SUPing with a girl across the lake last week and saying something about health prob’s keeping me from running and she said, oh btw I’m a doctor I don’t know why that never came up and I looked over and said oh me too and we both stood there dumbfounded (she’s an ER doc who studied history of medicine and I’m a PhD in History of Medicine who worked in medical research at Duke and the VA for 15 years first, and the girl my coach is working with is in medical research, too) … and I felt better when I got off the phone, better enough to help my husband take some foldup tables and chairs back to Dwight and Betty Compton, “down the road a piece.”
Betty Compton was the first Nurse Practitioner in NC, maybe in the US, but I’m not certain about that. After dropping off the tables and chairs “really quickly” turned into over an hour of sitting in the back chatting with them, we were driving home and Bob asked me, have you ever noticed how proud both Dwight and Betty are of all the great things that Betty has done? Yes. Why can’t you be proud of all the things you’ve accomplished then? How many people have had the Nissan financing guy call up because he just had to ask about the occupation on your tax return (professional athlete)? I laughed. He was disappointed when I wasn’t a basketball player or soccer star, but just a runner, “Oh.” And, don’t forget that you are Dr. Foy, really, even though you let your students call you Missy. He talked until I felt embarrassed. We sat in the truck for a little after pulling in the driveway and he asked me, “Why is nothing you do ever good enough? Why do you always think you should have done better, run faster, jumped higher? Who do you think you have to be?”
“I don’t know, but I know I don’t want to be living with all of this right now.”
“Okay, maybe we can start with letting the ‘looking back’ part be something joyous, not painful?”
“I don’t know, I just don’t know … because it hurts, because it hurts so badly … but I’ll try.”
“Okay, fair enough, that’s a start.”
Monday, June 8, 2015
There is a researcher at Mass General Hospital who has been doing some amazing work over the years on immune-mediated diseases, most specifically Type 1 diabetes (but much of work is transferable to other immune system problems). Diane Faustman and her team are beginning Phase II trials of a vaccine that is aimed at halting the immune system attack on the cells inside the pancreas which produce insulin (which is how Type 1 diabetes develops). Apparently, this vaccine has also shown incredible promise in halting the immune system attack on some nerve tissue cells (i.e. multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, ALS, etc.). What makes her work perk up the ears inside the diabetes community even more, though, is that some of the Phase I participants grew new beta cells (the cells that produce insulin). Some came off of insulin completely and had completely normal blood sugar profiles; some came off partially; some came off insulin for a short time and then had to go back on it. The point is, the vaccine did more than just stop the immune system attack; the vaccine brought normalcy back to the lives of some of those participants!
Here is a link to the news release: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-06/mgh-mgh060315.php. Also, her is a link to how the NIH (National Institutes of Health) explain the clinical research phase system: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/services/ctphases.html.
I was working in medical research when the largest diabetes study ever was being conducted, the Diabetes Complications and Control Trial (DCCT for short). The DCCT was halted very quickly because the data showed that the results of better control of blood sugar levels was so significant in the positive changes it made that the board said it would be unethical not to offer everyone with diabetes this same kind of treatment just for the sake of finishing a research study.
The same could happen at Mass General. Yes, the study could be halted and the vaccine offered commercially. And, while this is significant for anyone living with Type 1 diabetes (like me), this is also a huge step toward curing a number of neurological diseases that are caused by an immune system attack on the person’s own tissue (again, like me). I have been excited about studies before, but I have followed Dr. Faustman’s work ever since she had a slew of her lab rats die unexpectedly on several occasions. After many man-hours to unravel what went wrong, it turned out that something had actually gone right. The diabetic rats had died from being overdosed on insulin because the work she had done stopped the destruction of beta cells in the rats’ pancreases and they had started making their own insulin. When the technicians gave the rats their insulin shots, they were unwittingly overdosing and killing them. Ever since that obscure little mention that I had happened across merely by accident (partly because of a PhD fellowship I had at Harvard for a year, partly because of the type of research I was working on, and partly because I like to read a lot of obscure works and small publications to see whose work got passed over by the bigger journals and yet they persisted in getting it out there because they believed it that important). That was how I found out about Dr. Faustman – because all her rats died … several times.
There are a lot of people who should be paying attention to this. I would love to have my immune system transformed before it kills me. I don’t say that lightly because my immune system has done some major damage to me already. I really doubt that it is a question of “if” but rather a question of “when” it will finally do me in. So, see, I don’t want any more gadgets, apps and programs, insulin delivery systems, blood glucose monitors, medicines, organ transplants with anti-rejection drugs for life, or ANYTHING. I want my immune system to stop attacking me. I don’t want something else to program or calculate or experiment with … I don’t want a new treatment; I want a cure.
Let me say that again, very clearly: I want a cure.
Cure me, let my cells begin to grow back normally, and I can do the rest to bring myself back.
Well, as always, Happy Trails!
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
When you’re a runner, there is nothing worse than being injured. It’s even worse than two feet of snow on the ground because you could at least have some options with that: snow-shoeing, treadmill, etc. But when you’re injured, like seriously can’t run injured (or at least shouldn’t run injured or even the can’t run every day kind of injured), it sucks. I pity those around me when I can’t run because I randomly swing between so depressed I could grow moss on me like a sloth to so frustrated and angry and hateful to be around that you might contemplate smacking me in the head with a baseball bat. There really isn’t a lot of in between when I can’t run on a regular basis. Thankfully, I was never injury-prone during my running career and so I had very little down-time, hardly ever more than a few days at a time, for almost a dozen years of racing.
Actually, even though I stopped running competitively some time in 2009 I think, I bet I ran 90 to 100 miles/week or more until about two years ago. It was not by choice, though, that my running took a turn for the worse. I have the immune system from hell and it has repeatedly attacked my own body from the inside out – asthma, Type 1 diabetes, hyper-reactions to bites/stings, thyroiditis, blah blah blah. Now, my immune system has attacked a neuromuscular transmitter, this tiny little molecule in the synapses between certain nerves and muscles called GAD (glutamic acid decarboxylase). So, yeah, it’s a mouthful, but it just rolls right off my tongue like a professional these days. I can even tell you the exact date that something first went wrong, August 6, 2013. It was that dramatic. By the end of the week, I couldn’t run at all. I could barely walk. I couldn’t sleep through the night because laying in one position for too long caused me to awake with horrible pain in my whole back (the large spinal erector muscles that run alongside your spine) and in my hamstrings, glutes, quads, etc. I would get up and try to shuffle around, lay on the couch, go back to bed, etc.
Okay, long story short, I ended up in the Duke Neuro Sciences Clinic. Hardly able to get through the whole story in clinic without periodic tears out of nowhere, and then being completely horrified as I watched the neuro exam turning out completely abnormal (I mean, even I could tell how wrong it all was and how different it was from “normal”), Dr. Juel just stayed calm, listened, and was soooo nice (cut to pitter-patter tapping of hand over heart; he’s cute, too). But, when he looked at the neuro fellow and said something like, well I’ve seen enough, I could feel a lump rise up in my throat … it was way, way, way worse than the day I was diagnosed with diabetes.
Fast forward to now … I’ve been able to do some of what I call joggishing because it’s sort of a shuffle intermixed with walking. I have had a couple times when I miraculously was able to run normally for a mile or two, but then back to joggishing or not even that. Over the winter, which was just one HUGE blur for me, I lost a lot of fitness. Joggishing has felt like a big accomplishment. But, I want to get back into shape as much as I can. I had learned back when I was racing to use the elliptical for workouts when I couldn’t risk injury (or if something had already started). I had made up a bunch of workouts that mimicked my track and trail workouts by having my elliptical calibrated so that the distance I covered on the elliptical correlated in a way that I could translate into my real workout numbers. [I have a really nice elliptical with an adjustable stride length]
I went back through all of those old running logs to find the workouts again. I had to resist the urge to read through the logs too closely for now; I can’t handle it right now. Period. Can’t.
I’m starting with tempo runs first. So, I “run” easy up to moderate, then run a hard effort for a set distance, then run easy to cool down. Pretty straight forward. I’m trying to do long “runs” this way, too (I actually started those first). On a day that I can get out and joggish, I do that first and then finish on the elliptical. These long workouts are hard to plan, though, because I never really know for sure if it’s going to be a joggishing day or not until I get up that morning. So, I pick them out ahead of time, being hopeful, and wait to see. Most of the time, I just do the, oh hell yeah I think I can do a “long” one today.
Okay, so there are a few things that I have learned with this. First, it actually is important to be flexible about training when you are not young, you are not in shape, or both. Second, you still have to sneak workouts in through any means of trickery that you can in order to keep the fam from complaining about your lack of attention to something else (I still have not figured out why they care when if I hadn’t done something and simply said I didn’t get to it, nobody would have cared, but if it’s because of a workout …). Third, I can’t go hard every day like I could when I was young and healthy. Shit. It can take me three days just to recover from one of these damn elliptical tempos. I think it has more to do with my health right now, but I have learned a lot more about the aging runner than I ever cared to know! Fourth, I now need a lot more protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, Vit D3, potassium, and fluids. Those are the biggies that I’ve found for myself. Oh, and I also use more insulin now. Granted, some of that is the medications I am on, but some of it is just age I think. The older we get, the more insulin-resistant we become … all of us. Fifth, and I’ll stop here, I have to figure out who I am now that I’m not a runner anymore. I have to figure out who I am now that I can’t really even work regularly anymore. I need to figure out who I am now. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
So, the main point of this, in case it got lost, is that you can use the elliptical to help you get back in shape, to recover from injury, to cross-train, etc. I know a lot of people talk about pool running, but I feel like the elliptical forces you to use your leg muscles in the same way that you do when running. Pool running can get your heart rate up, and that works fine for short periods of down-time, but you can end up losing a lot of leg muscle strength without gravity. The elliptical is pretty much non-impact, but you still have to stand and you still have to push off with the same muscles and you still have to fight gravity. I thought about this when a friend of mine said that he thought squats were the most important exercise you can do. Hmmm. For a runner, yeah, he might be on to something there.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Yup. One of those blog posts where I just list a bunch of those random thoughts that I’ve meant to write something about or things that seem like they should be included somewhere, but just end up getting left out over and over again. [note to all my grammar Nazi friends: yes, I realize that neither of those were complete sentences]
1. I was going to participate in a diabetes bloggers series this past week, but I did not have the mental or physical energy to do it. I feel bad about not doing it because it seemed like a really cool thing to do. I just couldn’t pull it together. Between trying to get my university computing problems fixed, losing out on getting in on a class to learn the new online course platform (because of said computing problems debacle), and now having to learn the new platform through a series of online tutorials and recreate courses because they don’t migrate very well fro the old system (according to the university information page on the new system), I had “real” work things dragging me down. But, I just have a host of other balls attached to the chain it seems (I’ll get to those somewhere along this list that goes in no particular order).
2. I participated in my second SUP class/group thingy this past Wednesday evening (SUP is the stand up paddleboard thing). I still don’t have the right size paddle and had to borrow one again, but what the hell, that’s the way it goes. So, I had a couple of the quad jiggle/seizure things when I tried to stand up the first couple times and it made me so mad … I guess because it’s embarrassing to me. I tried to keep it from being obvious, but there was just no way to play it off. But, I did figure out that getting on from the dock instead of trying to stand while balancing myself worked! So, from now on, I’ll just have to get on from the dock I guess. I also worked a lot harder to learn to do some fast paddling this time … I have to admit, though, that the impetus was seeing Rod and another SUPer pulling away as they tried a few maneuvers and, well, I couldn’t just watch them paddle away so fast without even trying … so, I worked as hard as I could to catch up. That’s one way to learn to get your balance on the SUP, at least for someone like me – put a carrot out there.
3. Bob and I went down to the beach overnight this past week, Tuesday night, came back Wed. It was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I had been thinking about it for a while, but didn’t mention it to Bob until I was certain I thought I could do it without it being a disaster and without giving Bob enough time to plan stuff for us to do. I just wanted to throw a few things in the car, head down, go walk on the beach, eat out, get up and sit on the sand to watch the sun rise, and pretty much come home. And, that is kind of what we did. I forgot to take one of the doses of my meds (it’s pretty much split up into four med intervals or doses or whatever you would call it, so it was like a bunch of different medications). I don’t even want to go into it; suffice it to say that I forgot to take all the meds for that bunch.
4. So, Wednesday night … ah, yes, Wednesday night. I think between a few nights in a row of missing some sleep, the medication thing, heading to the beach and getting out of synch, trying to play catch-up with missed meds, and a few other things, I was tired as shit Wed. night – I mean way tired, like the kind of tired that makes kids face plant in their food. So, we’re sitting downstairs – oh yeah, I was having the high blood sugars from hell on Wed, too, like 300s and 400s that would not come down no matter what and those things can make you feel drugged-tired - and I’m sitting on a stool behind the couch as Bob and his daughter are watching Survivor (I gave up on the show years ago, but they are hooked). I was doing the head-nodding-jerking thing and kept thinking to myself that I should probably get somewhere safer than a stool if I was about to fall asleep sitting up … then, yup, you guessed it, I fell off the stool, crashed into another stool, a table, and then the back of the couch on my way down before landing on the floor. I wasn’t hurt, somehow, but my step-daughter jumped halfway across the room and the cat did the cartoonish feet scampering as she tried to get some traction on the wood floor and then finally took off to hide somewhere. I know it’s not funny, but it sort of is. I mean, since I wasn’t hurt or anything … who the hell falls asleep sitting up and crashes into everything on the way down from a barstool? And, the poor cat was traumatized. Oh well, just a typical night at our house.
5. I thought my sacral thing was getting better and then today I couldn’t even run two miles before giving up and trying to finish on the elliptical (and even that was hard and lame as hell). Just fyi, though, it is actually feeling much better tonight and I have absolutely no idea why, but I’m not going to do anything stupid like try going out and running to see if it really does feel better. I even went ahead and took a shower and put jammies on already so I wouldn’t do that. I think I may even do only the elliptical tomorrow and skip any running at all, and then I could go ride my mountain bike so I could still see my usual sights that I like to see.
6. After mentioning that I took a shower and put on my jammies so I wouldn’t do something stupid like go try to run, blah blah blah, it reminded me that I cried in the shower tonight. It kind of caught me by surprise. I’m not a crier. I was frustrated with all of this today and having to deal with the pain and it’s just getting really old and I’m getting so tired of all of this and of everyone who says you can fight this thing and stuff like that and even saying that to myself … and, it hit me, you know, that I can’t really fight this thing, that I can’t win, that I can’t get rid of it or make it go away. It hit me. And it hit me that there are going to be a lot of “lasts” instead of a lot of “firsts” coming up. And, that sucks. And, it made me cry. But, when I turned the shower off, my little black and white, hopelessly dumb, but oh-so-cute kitty, Holly, was sitting in the doorway waiting for me to finish with my shower because she wanted her belly tickled. You can tell when she wants her belly tickled because she gets a certain look and then falls over on her side and stretches out like she’s teasing you with how cute her belly is. When you get down on your knees and put your hands above her and wiggle your fingers, she starts to crumple up and makes the closest noise to laughing that a cat can make. I have to get it on video and post it because it will seriously make you laugh out loud if you see it. Then she comes running back for more. She’s a nut-case, all 7 1/2 pounds of her. And, then we have Juliette, who has the big sway belly and is all bulky and big, probably close to twice Holly’s size. And Juliette is not at all naïve like Holly; Juliette is street-smart, so to say. Juliette brought me a full-sized, dead squirrel as a gift once. Holly brings me her toys as gifts.
7. I know I just wrote all that crap about “lasts” and all that other sad b.s., but I am secretly (well, it’s not a secret if I write it on a blog post, but it’s a secret from Bob because he never reads this shit) trying to get myself back in some kind of shape to try to run a 50 miler again. I figure it could very well be a personal worst finish time, but I still want to try. I’ve been doing long workouts where I go do my joggishing thing and then finish with a long elliptical workout. Even though I’ve been getting some long times in, though, the effort level (and the run pace, too) just haven’t been good enough to suggest that I can do it. And, that’s frustrating because before I started getting treated for this SPS I was closer to being able to do a 50 miler than I am now … like way, way, way closer. I feel like one of the meds they put me on totally fried my sacrum and I still haven’t recovered from that yet. Plus, I lost a ton of fitness with the pain from the sacrum thing that pretty much prevented me from doing almost anything all winter. I stopped said medication and ended up with a lot of friction with the clinicians over that one – a whole other story. My sacrum is getting better, significantly better, but it’s just so far from normal, so far away from what it was before taking that med. Ugh. Still. Still, I want to run a 50 miler again. And, I don’t want to do some crappy finish that makes me feel like I suck. If it’s just going to make me feel worse about myself, I’m not going to do it (except like maybe on my own, by myself one day, in secret, just to do it, but if I do that, I’ll at least admit to it on here, promise). I guess as long as I get up to go to the bathroom at night without help and without puking because of the pain, I’m improving, so there is that.
8. We’re building a greenhouse! For real! I’m so excited I can barely stand it. Bob is turning it into way, way, way more than what I would have been fine with, but that’s the guy thing in him. At least he’s not trying to make it stupid big or something like that! it’s going to have a metal roof, though, instead of a glass one like green houses are supposed to have, but I wanted a metal roof, so there. Bob bought an old door that he found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore that is oversized and really quirky and perfect. The door to it will be from our bedroom and the quirky door will be pretty cool. I could go on and on about it, but I’ll spare you that (until we get closer to building walls and stuff and I’ll start posting pictures!).
9. I think we’re going to have a brief hiatus in the Wed SUP meet-up, so I think I’m going to try to start going over to watch the girl my old coach is now coaching. I remember him saying that she does her track workouts on Wednesdays, so I think I’ll go watch. Maybe it will give me some inspiration! Maybe it will inspire me to start coaching some runners again. I just haven’t felt like I could coach anyone since all of this health crap started. I know it’s a selfish choice, but it was the only one I could make at the time. I can barely teach one online class per semester right now. I taught a compressed, winter session course this winter and thought it was going to kill me! Holy shit! And, somehow, I decided to teach a course during the second session of summer school. And, right now, one during Fall semester. I can’t handle anything more. Really, I can’t. There was no way I could do any coaching. Just being able to go to bed without putting the crutches beside the bed just in case, just being able to drive with some sense of reliability, just being able to know that most days I won’t have to take narcotics, just being able to go watch the girls’ volleyball and soccer games ….
10. I made up a recipe for the absolute best protein shake/smoothie ever! I get almost 50 grams of protein from it, lots of calcium, very little sugar, and a reasonable amount of fat (not too much, not too little). It’s good, too. I tried it out on Bob tonight and even he liked it. I’ve been trying to come up with something that wasn’t too complicated but had a lot protein, a lot of calcium, and then a pretty good mix of some other vits and minerals. Bingo!
Okay, there are still more random things, but I just suddenly hit my limit and I’m done. I’ll do another one of these soon.
Until then, be cool, stay upbeat, enjoy the little things like kitty belly tickles, and cry in the shower if you need to!
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Well, I’ve had my fill of talking about, thinking about, reading about, and everything else about my health woes. So … it’s time for something different.
We are starting a weekly SUP “run” on the lake for the spring and summer. I say “we” but I mean “they” because, well, they already started it, but the water was too cold for me to take a chance on falling in and having the cold water temp freeze up my muscles … blah, blah, blah. So, I’ve missed the first two weeks. Oh, btw, SUP stands for Stand Up Paddleboard. Bob got me one about a month ago, but this weekend was the first time I tried it out. I got on it on my knees first, then did a little bit of standing up. I paddled back and forth in front of our shoreline, afraid to get too far out even though the water really wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be (I did stand in it about knee deep for a little while). I didn’t like my paddle too much, though, because it felt too short. I think I need a longer one. But, hey, what do I know?
I’m still trying to joggish my way around places but I’m not up to a level where I can really justify going anywhere to run, so I’m just plodding around home here, varying between wanting to time my runs and telling myself to leave the stupid, damn watch at home. It’s kind of funny that back when I was racing (when I actually ran fast, even on easy days), I never even wore a watch when I went running. I ran certain routes or loops and since I knew how far I had run, I got in the miles that my coach told me to do, at the effort level he wanted me to run, and that was that. I didn’t even care about time or pace unless it was a workout, long run, or a race. And, I often didn’t wear a watch then either because Coach would be timing my workouts and during races I had a good feel for pace, and I needed to pay attention to my competition instead of the distraction of a watch.
== Okay, slight distraction there while I got a juice box to fix a sudden low blood sugar. It was one of those lows when you know you need something that has the bang of a juice box instead of the little thud of some glucose tabs.==
While on the subject of diabetes, I am pretty happy to report that my latest A1c was 5.6. I haven’t had one that good since I was racing and training like a maniac. I chalk it up to the immense amount of testing that I’ve been doing in light of my current health problems. So, I think it’s more a matter of catching high blood sugars early rather than hitting a lower average by moving the whole curve to the left. I actually haven’t been having as many lows as usual (yes, I know how ironic that sounds with the comment above about needing a juice box).
Also on the diabetes subject, I haven’t had as many questions coming into the website’s email (MissyFoyRuns at gmail) about running with diabetes as usual. I hope it’s not because I’ve been whining on about my health problems and my running woes. I still know how to train and I still know how I got to Olympic Trials. Also, and probably more on target, it’s not going to make me feel bad or something like that to ask me questions about running. I suspect that’s the problem because quite a few emails have started with something like, ‘I’m sorry to bother you with this right now,’ or something like that. It’s not bothering me; in fact, I love answering questions about running and diabetes. I’m not a physician, though, so I can give my own experience and I can explain what I think will work or what I think is going on, but everything needs to be run by your doctor (or your child’s doc).
Another diabetes topic thingy – I am really thinking about a CGM. I have had a couple of unaware hypos in the last six months or so and I’m on a lot of meds that can blunt my awareness. I really worry about it at night. With all of the financial hits we’ve taken with my health stuff, I’m not sure I can afford the copay for one right now, though, so even though I’m interested, I’m going to have to wait until I bring in some bucks to do more than just cover my bills. I’m going ahead and checking things out about the supplies, the logistics, etc. even so. It’s tough to have extra medical bills, big ones, and not be able to work really because of all the things causing the extra medical bills. It all sounds effed up, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Period.
I had more that I was going to write, but my lower back is tightening up and hurting, so I think I’m finally going to have to do something about it – yup, gotten to the point I can’t ignore it anymore, ugh.
For now, Happy Trails!