Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ultra running + common sense???

Sums up my last couple of weeks before I left for my trip
Me: "can I start running again?"
Surgeon: " um yeah you can run"
Sees my overly ecstatic reaction
Surgeon: " but please use your judgement and use common sense..."

Let me take you back to two weeks ago. We were on our way home from spending the day at my parents house.  Just hanging out and having dinner.  I started feeling pain in my abdomen but assumed it was just gas.   After getting the kids to bed I laid down on the sofa trying to get the gas to dissipate.  Emir says "why are you holding your right side?!  It's your appendix!" Me: "no!  You are crazy!  It's just some gas or little stomach thing." 

The next morning I thought I felt better.  Una and I went to Target and her 3 year old well visit.  As time passed I felt worse but I really wanted to go to my last kindergarten lunch duty at Niko's school. All I could think of while listening to all the tattling(the kids were so done with school), was I just need to lie down.  It wasn't even just pain, my whole body just felt terrible.  But still I thought I was just coming down with a stomach bug. As soon as I got home, I threw Una in her room and told her to nap.  Thank goodness she didn't put up a fight.  I collapsed into bed.  By this time I had started getting the chills.  I checked my temp and it was 100.6 so not too high but definitely a fever.  I struggled to get comfortable.  I think I dozed a few times however pain that would originate on my right side would shoot across my abdomen and jar me from my sleep.  Getting up to use the bathroom was SO HARD.  I could barely walk due to the pain.  I was holding onto things to get around.  Finally I started to give in to the idea that maybe this was appendicitis (I hate when Emir is right!).  I'm well aware of the symptoms however I wanted to see if there was any specific tests the doctors do to figure out what's going on.  I don't remember the name of the test, but it goes like this.  If you press down on the left side of the abdomen, you will feel sharp pain on the right side where the appendix is.  I did this and almost died.  I lost it after that.  "SHIT!!!  Now I have to go to the hospital and have surgery!  WTF?!?!  In less than two weeks we are leaving for vacation and I can't afford to miss work before we go away!  What about the race I'm running in a couple weeks?!"  I was a mess.  I realized not only that I really needed to go to the hospital but also that Niko was going to be home in about 30 minutes and I was in no condition to care for my kids.  I called Emir and told him.  He said he would leave work right away but that there's no way I should drive myself so to see if our neighbor could take the kids.  I texted my neighbor Stephanie and next thing I knew she was blowing in my door.  I cannot say enough about what amazing neighbors I have.  They have saved us so many times.  Of course we would and always do the same for them but still it's rare to have what we have with them. 

The rest is pretty much history.  I walked into the ER saying I had sudden right sided pain from the night before and they whisked me away right into a room (good info if you want to get seen ASAP in the ER ;-) )   In less than a couple hours, the diagnosis of acute appendicitis was confirmed and I was put on the list for surgery which took place at 7:30am the next morning.  Luckily, everything was done laprascopically.  I was very happy with that as working with patients on a regular basis on getting back on their feet after various surgeries, I know that laprascopic has much shorter recovery time.  Also, being the recipient of 2 C-sections has taught me that open abdominal surgeries are no joke and would probably be a solid 4-5 weeks of no running, no working and possibly delay my trip.  So despite my depression over the whole thing, I was for the most part very lucky.  Things could have been a lot worse. 

So back to my follow up with the surgeon about 9 days post op.  I was so eager to get back to work that day and to get back to running ASAP.  He cleared me for back to work without batting an eye.  At first he didn't seem to think running was big deal however I think my over eagerness made him more hesitant and maybe he realized he wasn't dealing with a "normal runner."  After he said to use my "common sense" about running, I had visions of running miles and miles the next week and a half leading up to my race and completing the 65K race in Croatia I had planned for June 20th.  Then he proceeded to follow up with "you have deep internal stitches and need to be cautious.  You can easily get a hernia and need more surgery if you are not careful"  In my head "dammit!  Ok yeah I don't want that."  It was right then and there I knew I shouldn't run the 65K. 

After leaving the office and getting to work, I looked up the Velebit Ultra website and saw there was a middle distance option, 27K which is about 16.8 miles still with around 8,000feet of elevation.  So while much shorter, it will still not be easy.  I consulted Emir and coach Caleb and both were in agreement that it was reasonable.  And to be perfectly honest, I know Emir was SUPER relieved.  He knows me and that there was a high likelihood that despite all I had been through in the last couple weeks, I would still insist on doing the 65K with 20,000 feet of elevations.  And he's right.  I did still want to do it. 

I wasn't allowed to work, run or do much of anything but they didn't say anything about hanging out on the beach!
In the end, I know I am super lucky that things weren't a lot worse.  I made it back to work for a few days before our trip, I was able to start running again 9 days post op, I was given the all clear to travel and thank goodness I didn't get the appendicitis while in Bosnia or Croatia!  And I am super grateful that I will get to run any race at all at Velebit. 

So why when there are so many really good reasons why I should not run the 65K, I still feel like a failure, like a loser who had to drop down in the race and isn't doing the hardest option offered? I know this really isn't true, but it's just my ultrarunner nature and mentality that I've developed over the last couple years.  I've never DNS'd or DNF'd or dropped down.  If I decided to run a race, I'm going to do it and I'm going to finish it no matter what hence why I struggled for 7.5 hours at the PHUNT 50K coming off of 2 weeks with the flu.  Yes I know this race is a mere 18 days after my surgery and there are huge risks if I had tried to run the 65K not to mention I can tell during my runs so far that I'm sore and sluggish plus my eating has not yet returned to normal.  So it should be an easy decision yet it was so hard for me and I'm still struggling with it.  I am definitely only doing the 27K but struggling in the fact that I still don't feel good about it.  Which is why when the doctor said "use your common sense getting back into running."  I thought "he really has no idea who he's talking to and that common sense in ultrarunners doesn't exist." 
Not sure running mountains in Bosnia two weeks post op is what the doctor had in mind ;-)


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