How did I get here?

I’m a curious individual, a researcher. I like to read up on topics, especially those related to running form, running health and injuries such as my dreaded plantar fasciitis. I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles and consider myself quite knowledgeable about running injuries.

But lying in the ICU on a hospital bed with beeps ringing in my ears, I struggled to comprehend how this could’ve happened to me!

A pulmonary embolism (PE). Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my right leg. What? I don’t understand?

I drifted between moments where I couldn’t breathe and worried that if I passed out, I would never wake up. A ton of bricks weighed down on my aching chest and injections pierced my stomach. Heat and spiders crawled over my face causing me more irritation as my body rejected the painkillers. Just what I needed, a rash that was hard to scratch between all the ECG patchwork of stickers over my body. I eventually went numb when a stranger washed my body and I needed to ask the nurse for a bedpan whenever I needed the toilet.

DVT is quite common with leg injuries.

The specialist rattled through explanations of how my sprained ankle injury was to blame but that besides pain, I didn’t display any typical tell-tale signs. He prescribed blood thinners and a few days later I was discharged and able to rest in my own bed. Bliss.

The Googling has started and I’ve been doing so much reading up on DVT and PE. A life-threatening condition that is so unknown (well to me it was).

But I’m wiser. And I want the message to get out there. A simple D-Dimer blood test could’ve picked up any DVT in the early stages and avoided the PE.

I’ll definitely be more vigilant & responsible going forward. As runners, we often trip and fall, we accidentally roll our ankles, we self (mis) diagnose calf sprains and tears. Being aware of all complications and treatment is important. There are blind spots and sometimes we don’t know what to look for out of pure ignorance.

It’s back to physio tomorrow to continue treating my ankle. The next 6 months will be different to how I had envisaged them. Giving up my Dis-Chem entry. No more Two Oceans half marathon. I guess more gentle walks. Perhaps even some yoga.

But definitely a re-focus on what’s really important in my life. My health is top of that list right now. Body, let’s do this!

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.