March 29, 2012

new news

Sorry, Giant Wine Glass,
you'll have to wait.

Earlier this week I met with an anti-coagulation specialist and heard the best news I've heard in a few weeks: I'm okay to run! (I'm also clear to drink moderate amounts of wine, in case you were as concerned as me about me never having purple teeth again.)

Additionally, instead of 6-12 months of warfarin (a blood thinner), I'll only be on it for three months. After I'm drug-free for a month, I'll need to have some addtional blood work done. I'll meet with the specialist again after those results come in to discuss long-term treatment.

But enough about that, let's talk about RUNNING!

Now that I'm officially in the clear, I already have two races on my radar, including the Trail Mix 50K Relay and the Get in Gear Half Marathon (to run with Ann)! I was so excited about the prospect of being able to run again that I failed to fully appreciate the fact that these races are 3 and 4 weeks away, respectively.

I plan to use the first week in April to gently remind my body that it's a runner and then go from there. Maybe this will be a running blog again!

P.S.- The picture is from here but you can probably find it on Amazon if you want to buy it for me.

March 27, 2012

crazy love


In keeping with my 2012 goal of reading more, I just finished Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

I found myself rereading paragraphs and pages of this book, often having to set it down because the thoughts and questions it provoked were so big that I couldn't do anything but sit in silence and examine myself, my motives, my beliefs.

Go buy it and read it. Or call/text/tweet me and I'll buy you a copy. Then, after you read it, call/text/tweet me again and I'll buy you coffee so we can discuss it together.

March 21, 2012

another post that still isn't about running

Yikes, I'm slightly overdue on a health update. Here it is in bullets because I'm sick of writing about how my body has confused itself with an old man or  an inactive, unhealthy smoker. (I say that because both of those people groups should be more prone to PE's than me, not because I'm a sexist ageist or discriminate against those that make poor lifestyle choices. Well, maybe a little on the latter...)

So here we go:
  • Sunday: INR reached 2.9 so the Fragmin injections stopped. I'm now only on oral meds. For the record, I need to stay between 2 and 3.
  • Monday: They gave me a break from needles! I went for a run to celebrate and it was amazing! Why can't we always have 60 degree weather in March?  
  • Tuesday: INR reached 3.4. Better to be high than low, I guess. Dialed down the meds.
That brings us to today: This afternoon I met with my new primary care doctor to make sure I was doing okay. She asked me about how I've been feeling and then listened to my lungs, which she said sounded like "newspaper being crumpled" but explained that it was just a residual effect from the PE's. She also specifically instructed me not to run, at least until I meet with the specialist next week. I failed to mention that I did twice already. Oops...

And for your entertainment, I posted this picture on Facebook last week. You can't really tell from the photo, but my bruises from the IV seriously looked like a runner. I used my crazy skills in Paint to help you out.
This is clearly my body's way of telling me it wants to go running.
Tomorrow I'm heading to Chicago for the weekend to a conference that Ravi (the missionary from India) will be speaking at. And while God and I have already discussed my blood clot situation in detail, I plan to rally others to petition with me for complete restoration- and then some! I want like bionic lungs after this! Can I get an Amen?

March 17, 2012

now don't be mad...

I ran tonight. Well, ran might be a strong word but I covered five miles. On foot. Without dying.

My burning desire to run today started early this morning while cheering on runners at the Get Lucky Half Marathon with Ann. It was a glorious, humid morning (temps eventually rose to a record 79 degrees!) and I loved every second of being out there. But I wanted to be OUT THERE, not on the sidelines.

gotta have more cowbell, baby
After the race, I had to do my INR and guess what? I'm a 2.0 today! That means that today was likely my last day of having to give myself an injection in my poor, bruised stomach.  

My blood draw was followed by brunch outside with my lovely friend Andrea, then some errand running. It was so nice outside that I parked my car as far as possible from the entrance to stores just so I could walk. But it wasn't enough. I wanted to be running.

I tried to talk myself out of it: I haven't been approved to run, I have no one to run with, I am still recovering... After two hours of laying on my couch watching reruns of Lipstick Jungle on Hulu, my heart over-powered my head. Shoes, get on me.

The first three miles were great but fatigue set in around the south side of Calhoun. I was hyper-aware of every pain in my legs/ribs/neck and did not push it at all. I walked when I needed to walk and kept the pace nice and easy. It felt so good to be out there and came home feeling refreshed and alive.

Highlight: Five miles outside! (And not dying from it!)

Low point: Giving myself an injection in the Target bathroom.

March 15, 2012

the good news

Today I got a few bits of good news.

First, my INR is up to 1.8. They expect it to be over 2 tomorrow, which means I'll have to go in on Saturday for a blood draw and if it stays over 2, I can quit giving myself shots in the stomach. Winning!

Second, the results from the Factor V Leiden test are negative, meaning that this didn't occur from a genetic disorder. This likely means that once this "episode" is taken care of (through 6-12 months of blood thinners), I can go back to a "normal" life.

Third, this:

Lovely, right?

The giver of this beautiful bouquet said they would like to remain nameless when I said I was going to publicly thank them on my wildly popular, highly trafficked blog. So to you, nameless friend, thank you for adding such a wonderful pop of color to my apartment!

Overall, I'm feeling better everyday. I still become easily fatigued but I don't have anywhere near as much pain as I did. I know that making a full recovery will take a while, but this is by far the best day I've had in a week. Right now I'm looking forward to a full night's sleep and an INR over 2 tomorrow!

March 13, 2012

a health update

Since you suffered through the longest post ever, I'll keep this one short, mostly because I'm waiting for the Vicodin to kick in so I can hopefully get some sleep.

I found out on Monday that my INR level is moving in the wrong direction and that it was actually lower than when I was discharged from the hospital. They doubled my dosage of warfarin and I get checked again tomorrow to see what's going on. I'm also going to try to squeeze in an appointment with a warfarin "education nurse." Hopefully my long list of questions will be answered, at least in part.

I'm trying my best to be optimistic but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sad and, at times, terrified.  
So many of you have been WONDERFUL, sending flowers, bringing over food, magazines, movies, cooking for me, even painting my fingernails. I feel incredibly loved.

And while it does hurt to laugh, I do appreciate things like this:

Made by the incredible Colleen
Therefore, if you have any good cheer up quotes, pictures, YouTube clips, etc., send them my way via the comments below or on Twitter- @FeetMoveForward.

Thank you again for your concern and kindness. I covet your prayers and promise to keep you updated!

March 11, 2012

when PE has nothing to do with gym class

Settle in, friends, this could be a long one. I had started this post on Thursday night when I got home from work. It was originally titled "a running update" and this is as far as I got before I left to go to Julie's house for a little baby QT:

This week is my third full week of following a training schedule and already I'm running into setbacks.

For starters, I'm 99% sure I have pleurisy again, which is some weirdo Little House on the Prairie disease. It's probably because I'm from Le Sueur (kidding, hicks). Imagine a knife stabbing you under your clavicle and in your back when you take a deep breath. It's painful. I started to feel it big time after yoga on Monday night, ignored it on my run on Tuesday and yet again last night as I pounded out a "quick" four miles on treadmill. Today, though, there's no ignoring it. Every laugh, every cough, every deep breath hurts. I could go to the doctor but truthfully there isn't anything they can do for it. It's just pain and it's not going to kill me but it makes me want to punch my lungs in the face.

The last line I wrote will seem especially ironic by the end of this post. Continuing...

So Thursday night after Julie's,  I brought Colleen home and went it for a cocktail and to watch The Office. The pain I was feeling seemed to be getting worse and I joked with Colleen that she'd have to drive me to the Urgent Care. We actually looked up their hours and when we saw they closed at 11 p.m., I decided I would wait it out until they re-opened at 8 a.m. and just go home and try to sleep.

When I got home, I put a heating pad on my chest and tried to get comfortable (and obviously never finished the post I started). Around 2 a.m. I woke up and was in so much pain I didn't want to move. Around 3:15, I knew I at least needed to get up and take ibuprofen if I had any chance of lasting until 8 a.m. When I tried to climb out of bed, my pain shot through the roof. It started underneath my clavicle on the left side and traveled down through my ribs and wrapped around my back, spasming. I slowly made my way to my kitchen, stopping every couple steps to catch my breath. I knew this wasn't normal and I was freaked out.

As I made my way back to my bedroom, my only thought was to get back to my cell phone so I could call for help. I called my mom and told her what was going on and she urged me to go to the ER. I called my brother and my sister for a ride, but both calls went unanswered.  I was trying to talk myself out of the pain, telling myself that I could wait until morning. Right then my brother called back and offered to take me to the hospital.

By the time we got to the ER, the spasming had stopping and it was just a dull ache that would get worse when I took a deep breath, pretty much the same pain I'd been experiencing all week. The ER was crowded and I checked in, then waited for 45 minutes for my vitals to be taken, then another 45 for a blood draw. I was exhausted and feeling stupid that I was even sitting there, certain that it would be nothing again. Finally, after two hours, I was brought to a room to see a doctor. When she came in, we went over my symptoms and I told her my history of having pleurisy. I also told her I recently went to India. She immediately added a screening on to my blood panel to check for blood clots. And so I waited for those results to come back.

The test came back showing that my levels were elevated, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have a clot, they said. They wanted to do a CT scan to be sure. I was hooked up to an IV for the dye they inject in your body (SUCH a weird feeling!) and had a CT scan.

I sent this picture to Colleen pre- CT scan with the caption
 "Shit's getting real."  (sorry for the cursing)

Thankfully my step-mom Jackie came right before they were wheeling me off for the CT. When I got back into the room, she and I chatted for a bit before she stepped out of my room to take a phone call. While she was out, two nurses came in with two bags for my IV. I knew what that meant before they even said it: I had a clot.

As they began to hook me up, the nurse asked if my doctor had been in to talk to me yet. I said she hadn't. She then told me that the CT scan showed that I had clots so I would be admitted and they were going to start a heparin drip immediately. Clots? I asked. Clots, like plural? Yes, she said. Your doctor will tell you more.

My doctor came in and told me that I had several clots in my left lung and a few in my right, also known as a pulmonary embolism or PE. The CT scan also showed that because these clots caused a lack of blood flow to my lung tissue, part of my lower left lung was damaged. She assured me that now that I was hooked up to heparin, I was going to be fine but told me more than once It's a very, very good thing that you came in when you did. I would find out later that day that one in five people with PE die. I honestly don't know what would've happened had my brother not called me back. He likes to say that he saved my life. Either way, I'm really glad to be here.

The rest of my day was filled with more IVs and needle pricks (one that even blew up the vein in my hand) and finaled with me giving myself a shot in the stomach, a task I now have to continue at home for the next seven days.

Get in my belly!
The aftermath of two IV attempts and a blood draw.
You should see my other arm and both hands!

In short, this is a pretty big deal. I'll be on blood thinners for the next 6-12 months, which affect everything from my diet (no foods that are high in vitamin k) to running (no running until it's approved by my MD, who I don't see for 1.5 weeks). The pain I was feeling is likely due to the clots pushing on nerves, something that should dissipate as they go away. For now, though, there's vicodin (which has it's own unpleasant side effects).

They are also trying to figure out why this happened, including the possibility that this may be a hereditary condition. I have many, many questions, most of which will be answered in due time. So for now I get to be patient.

March 7, 2012