Sick & tired of being sick

I feel pretty miserable. It’s the weekend and while everyone else is out running, cycling, visiting friends and family, I’ve been locked up at home, desperately trying to treat a cough and congested nose.

It’s my own fault it got to this point. I could feel myself getting sick two weeks ago but still carried on at work as if nothing was wrong. I still stuck to my running program knowing I had some big races coming up. But the body doesn’t negotiate and finally brings you down.

The sore throat became a runny nose which turned into bronchitis. The body aches reminding me that I was unable to do the simplest task, never mind consider a jog. I landed up sitting on the bedroom floor on a Friday night with a nebulizer stuck to my face, exhausted.

I’ve learnt a couple of hard lessons during it all.

  • Work carries on with or without you. I should’ve stayed home and recovered properly. Some of my colleagues didn’t even realize that I wasn’t there.
  • I need to be aware of how much I’m saying yes to. I can’t do it all and eventually I did burn out.
  • Running must stop. This is the hardest lesson. I had already entered a couple of races which I couldn’t run. I was so disappointed. And when I do start up again, it’s going to feel like starting at square one.

I’m desperate to get better though. I’m sick of being sick. It’s frustrating and I’ve had enough. But I forced myself to rest.

And no, not work from home rest. Proper rest. Cups of tea, blanket, in front of telly, coloring in books kinda rest where I could slip in and out of naps as and when I liked.

It’s helped. I’m starting to feel like myself again.

Miss Diagnosis

They warn you about Googling your symptoms, but when an aching pain on the side of my body did not want to go away, I became desperate. Having suffered from Ulcerative Colitis (wiki link if you’re keen to know what this is) since 1998 and lately Enteropathic Arthritis (another wiki link), I feared the worst! All the search results pointed to an enlarged spleen or some form of liver cancer. Eeeek!

Google

So I headed off to my Gastroenterologist who immediately did a battery of tests, trying to figure out what this odd pain was. I know a couple of people on my Twitter timeline and Facebook pages suffering from severe illnesses and as I sat waiting for my test results, I wondered how I was ever going to face another complication from my bowel disease.

A pulled stomach muscle? Huh? When the test results came back, and my Doc did one last check, he concluded that yes, I am having another inflammation attack but it wasn’t anything serious. Somehow I’d managed to pull a muscle on my lower left side just under my ribs and that’s what was causing the pain. How the hell?

Relief…

It’s every runner’s nightmare to be told to rest but that’s pretty much what I’ve been forced to do. The whole week, no gym, no running, not even a walk around the block. Unable to take any anti-inflammatories or pain killers, I’ve pretty much relied on a hot water bottle and panados to ease the pain. It’s still niggling and I’m wondering if I should take another week off? I’ll see…

Forced to sit this one out

New Year’s resolutions look differently when you’ve had the rough December I’ve had…

On the 17th December, I lay in a hospital bed with a drip in my hand in the Sandton Medical emergency room feeling absolutely miserable. Just a week away from celebrating Christmas, I realised that the last three months have been the worst I have ever felt battling a disease I have tried desperately to hide from majority of those around me. Managing the actual disease has been fine but the extra-intestinal manifestations of Ulcerative Colitis have really taken its toll.

Excruciating arthritis attacks on the joints of my hands and shoulders; painful eye infections due to the arthritis which caused my whole cheek to seize up; a revolting rash (and another late night hospital visit) which turned out to be Urticaria; constant mouth ulcers and now something new… Crippling pain in the right hand side of my abdomen shooting up into my shoulder.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time reflecting on my health during December. Being an utter control freak it’s difficult accepting that there is absolutely nothing I can do to control an auto-immune disease which at the moment seems to be attacking me on all fronts. Ironically, the worst part is that I’ve not been able to run.

I had planned to do so much running while I was on leave during this time, especially training for the Dischem half marathon which would kick-off my 2014 running year. But with the pain and no energy, all I managed was a 5km run at the gym.

sleep dog

My blog has always been focused on my running speed. My slow pace and my insecurities about my running. But sitting on that hospital bed, all I wished for was that I was healthy and able to put on my running shoes and head out for a run. I thought, who the hell cares how slow I run. I don’t even give a damn if those walkers come past me. I just want to be healthy and fit enough to run.

Running means I’m strong. Running means I am healthy. Running means I am able to conquer my fears. Running means I am in control of my body. I’m sure I’ll be fit soon but for now, my New Year’s resolution wish is for a healthy body.

The day Rogeema ran for me

Rogeema was one of the first people I engaged with on Twitter. It was a rocky start at first because, I mistakenly thought she was a guy and kept reading her name as Roger Kenny. I finally got to meet her in person when she organised a fabulous tweetup just before Two Oceans in April this year. She even managed to get Comrades winner, Stephen Muzhingi, to join us at the tweetup.

From that day, I knew this about Rog. If she puts her mind to something, you had better believe that it will happen.

So when she announced plans that she would be running a half marathon in 135 minutes in my honour, I knew nothing would stop her. Rog had read a previous blog post of mine where I openly blogged about an illness I was suffering with. She then decided that her next race would be dedicated to me. I urge you to read her story here… 135 minutes for Brony.

I’m going to be honest. From the start, I was not too keen on the idea. I felt that although I had blogged about my illness, I was not dying. In fact, further exposure made me incredibly uncomfortable. Exposed. Vulnerable.

Until 07h20 on Saturday morning that is….

I had just completed a 10km race out in Irene. Throughout the entire race, my mind was filled with thoughts about Rogeema. I thought about her blog, her training and the fact that she was out running for me. Every step I took, I thought about her.

As I finished my race, I raced back to the car to get my phone to get updates. Yes, raced. I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. As I saw the many tweets, I started to cry and realised just how much it meant to me, but also to her.

Rog ran her heart out! She did not manage the 135 minutes, but in my mind, it didn’t matter anymore. Her race had been won even before she started! Her time: 2:26 minutes.

Rogeema, words cannot express what you did for me. I am so touched.

Thanks also to these special people:

Morne Botha (@mohebo). I spoke to Morne at Rogeema’s tweetup. It was the most inspirational 5 minutes that pulled me through Two Oceans this year. Morne, do not under-estimate the motivational power you have.

Fadeelah Kenny (@fadeelahk) yesterday, she broke her long-standing PB by 1.5 mins! (2.19 minutes)

Hasanain Abdullah (@theworx) He heard about the 135 mins challenge and decided on the morning to join. His time: 2h16 minutes.

Vaughan McShane (@vaughanmcshane) Vaughan ran his first half marathon in an awesome time of 2h24 minutes. That totally rocks!

Keri Delport (@kez_delport)  Ironwoman. Need I say more!

Adele MacCannel (@MissyMac77) who was running with a friend doing his 400th race! *gulp*

Leigh (@Leighwatermouse) Official cheerleading squad which is sometimes more important that you can imagine. Thanks for your support and kind words!

About Rogeema: Rogeema is an electrical engineer by profession. She is also an ardent karate-ka and is currently at the level of 2nd dan black belt. Her true passion is developing people and helping them reach their full potential through business, investing, sport, spirituality, personal development and education. She is also active in her community as a human rights activist and serves on the Western Cape committee of Mensa as the editor of The Tablet (quarterly e-zine). I know Rogeema as a runner. Her PB for a half marathon is 02:19:36.

But best of all, Rogeema is my friend!