Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Lake Michigan at Sunrise

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Diagnosis Circle - Asthma - Solution? Turkey and Family!

So here I am on my longest blogging, blog reading, and exercise drought. Time to start quenching the need for each need right?

Let's catch up on what is wrong with me!
Last I blogged, a cardiologist said my heart was no bueno and started me on a beta blocker that put me in a funk. And every day following my stress  test (on November 15) my complaints worsened. I went from being able to exercise lightly, to barely being able to walk a few blocks without feeling stress on my ability to breathe. I was NOT a happy camper. Around this time, I lost my enthusiasm to enjoy the running adventures (blogs) of other people, I know I wanted to, but I just couldn't think of being at that point right now.

I didn't feel like I had a heart issue. My complaints didn't align enough with the heart condition to convince me that my heart was causing my breathing discomfort. But what do I know, I'm not a doctor. I'll give the medicine a chance.

After a few days of giving the medicine a chance, I couldn't take it. I could no longer even think of running. I just wanted to be able to walk and breathe normally. My abilities waned every day. I had some rebound days where I thought I was on going to start on the right path, but the next day I felt worse.

I called the cardiologist multiple times, almost breaking down in frustration. He would initially say, let's monitor it, give the medicine a chance, and go to the E.R. if you need to. I didn't want to go to the E.R., I thought I was getting medical attention earlier enough to avoid that. I told the doctor I couldn't monitor it, I was getting much worse. Dizzy, felt like feinting, felt increasing pressure when I walked on my breathing (see 2mph), and started feeling unsafe if I was by myself outside.

 After my complaining, he moved my appointment up a few days and say me the next day (we are now at November 20).  I had a lengthy visit, another EKG, ultrasound of my heart and whatever other tests they did to monitor my heart were called. Result?  He took back his diagnosis of
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

I was confused, so I do not have a heart condition?

The doctor said, that is why we wanted you to follow up in a week to see if you do have that condition, and you don't. After longer review, my heart is a little bigger, but within limits, due to all the running and exercise I do.

I was a bit peeved.

There is a big difference in - we are going to monitor you for a week to see IF you have the heart condition to you HAVE a heart condition and we are going to follow up in a week to see how the medicine works on you.

I was happy to have a healthy heart, but frustrated that I still am getting no relief. The doctor took me off the beta blockers and ordered a chest x-ray for the next day.

I got my chest x-rays and had my worst episode to date at work and felt like I was going to pass out on Roosevelt Road by the Medical District.. I was scared. I was praying that the chest x-rays said something useful.  Later that afternoon, the doctor called and said I had negative results. To monitor the situation and follow up with the next appointment. I almost snapped, my body was failing me. I felt the doctors were barking up the wrong tree. That they heard me, but weren't listening to me. Their next test was a CT Scan with contrast.

I know they were trying to rule out the more threatening issues, but I know the cost of all this is basically going to kill my Christmas budget. I reminded myself it is better than being dead and that that gifts aren't really what makes the season, but still.. a bit of a bummer. I wish that something just gave me some breathing relief.

I went to get my CT Scan the next day (we are at November 22 now), and I also stayed home from work as I was able to function less and less before I got serious discomfort. The CT Scan..SUCKED.

I expected a quick scan.. but that wasn't my luck. I was hooked up to an IV to administer a warm solution into me for the contrast scan. The technician left the room and told me the solution was going to start. I went under the scan and peered at my IV... blood started to bubble.. Shit.. we have a blow out.

The needle popped out of my arm and tape. The solution started spraying all over the body and myself. I freaked. I was told to stay still. What do I do? The tech wasn't coming to save me. I started to wiggle my hand that was behind me, hoping the tech would see. She finally came over and was like? What is wrong? I looked at my arm and she was like OH NO!

So my cloths got all wet and salt lined. And the re-insertion of the needle HURT bad.

And the result of the scan? NEGATIVE.

By the time I got the results, the time was 5pm. Doctor offices closed. I was sad. I had no relief. The cardiologist said the normal line, I have no idea what is wrong with you. Follow up next week with your normal doctor and with him in two weeks. I was sad... Thankfully Saturday I had a relaxing day with my whovian friends!

I felt relaxed that day. It probably helped that my wife didn't let me do more than stay in bed so I wouldn't get worse and my daughter kept me company.

I thought that maybe I was starting to naturally get better?

Sunday came..Shit hit the proverbial fan. I could barely move without feeling like I was struggling to breathe. I sounded like I was wheezing. I got depressed. All I could say to myself was..

 Monday came, and even worse. I called my doctor, he got me lined up with a Pulmonary specialist for Tuesday. They told me to get my scans on CD for my appointment... which ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back.

After picking them up and coming home, I no longer was able to breathe normally resting. I sounded like Darth Vader without his helmet when I was breathing normally.

E.R. visit it was. And what did they say? Asthma. They set me up with some breathing stuff which opened up my throat and they gave me a rescue inhaler (albuterol). Not sure still how that happened in the Marathon at mile 14ish, not uncharted territory for me.

I went to see the Pulmonary doctor the next day, who supplemented the albuterol with a steroid inhaler (very expensive) which I can hopefully be weaned off of over time.

Funny how my final ( I HOPE ) diagnosis is asthma, when that was my initial guess.

I'm feeling a lot better now, still a bit confused on the matter, but glad to have relief. I also have a nice sinus cold, which makes the matter a bit more confusing, which symptom belongs to which ailment?

But I am relieved now. I can finally enjoy the days again. I can think about running again soon and enjoy my wonderful friends and family!
The view here in Michigan
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I am honestly thankful for you all who kept in touch with me during my absence and offered your assistance without being prodded. Thank you!

Enjoy your family, health, and opportunities life gives you. Things change so fast, embrace your gifts, no matter how small they may seem today, they may look like the world tomorrow.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Danger Zone!!


My cardiologist took back to diagnosis after my needing to go back sooner due to increased discomfort. Several expensive tests later. No doctor has an answer for me.. Still waiting.

Sometimes you are the pigeon, sometimes you are the statue. Yesterday I was the statue.

I had my cardiologist appointment and upon crossing the street to leave my visit, a pigeon dumped on my jacket. You thought I was going to get deep on you didn't you? (TWSS)

Okay, well actually I was dealt a rather surprising card.

The visit to the heart doctor was about two hours, including medical history, subjective complaints from me, examination, ultrasound of my heart, and a stress test on a treadmill. I made sure I told them every pressure and oddity I felt in my chest, even if I sounded redundant, since.. ya know.. I would like to breath comfortably again.

Best parts of the exam.. getting big patches of my chest hair shaven off (it is really hot) and them ending the test on the treadmill (it's goal was to get my heart rate to 178..) after 18 minutes since I was in just such good shape, they said that was good enough. I wanted to keep going just to try to reach the goal. The incline was fun to do, but really shined a hot lamp on my lingering strains.

Most of the time they looked a little perplexed and said... this doesn't look cardiac.

I was thinking the same thing, just rule out that I have a heart issue, and send me to get a chest x-ray and a different specialist.

But, if that was the case, I wouldn't be making this post would I?

The doctor started examining the ultrasounds and informed me that I have...Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. My reaction:

And started me on a beta blocker.. for life... woohoo.

Of course, I was confused..How does this affect my breathing? And wth is this? After getting the information on it from the nurse, I realize this is that heart thing that is a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes.. or for you runners out there.. when you realize you have a heart condition when you die mid race.

Strangely, I wasn't sad, I was in a good mood, relieved that they found this issue with my heart before... something bad happens. I have to follow up next week to get rechecked and see how my symptoms are going. I still feel like something different is bothering my breathing and this was just a lucky catch, but I will take it.

For a few hours, all I could think of was.. I was living in the....
Wait for it....

Okay, all kidding aside, I am pretty lucky to find out I have this before something bad happened. I don't have a super serious case of this, which is good. I spent all evening thinking... I could die any step! I just need to make it to my first medication dose (this morning). My chest is still rather.. uncomfortable, but mentally, I feel more relaxed. We'll see if this is the root of my breathing issues.

And now I'm handling it the way I know best:

(P.S. I still haven't cleared up time to get on my blog reading.. maybe tonight??)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Exciting Blog Title Tuesday!

In an attempt to take a departure from the string of posts that mostly ended up like this:

I'll do something that at least has some content.

Did you see this: 5-Year-Old Completes Half Marathon in 2:22:25, about 40 minutes faster than the only other five-year-old known to have finished a half marathon.

I saw an interesting post about "city hill running", also known as, running up parking garages. Has anyone had success with this? A lot of.. dangers once they get busy, but hey, we are a wild folk.

Over the weekend I went to my first night out with the dads in our area (the moms met up at our house with the kids), and what did we do? Sat around a fire outside all evening, drink, and eat meat.

It was actually really relaxing and a good time. It helped take the jankiness off the attitude I have had recently. Maybe I just needed the social interaction or have that caveman experience to help settle me down?

Of course, this little cheeky face always helps bring me back to reality and how good life is:

And for all your mirror gawkers, here is my progress at the gym:

Now that I got you all super excited:

I'll talk about my down the road running plans.

I've had some changes at work which require me to leave the house a lot earlier. So no more running until 6am. I've played around with some schedules:
1. Break up my runs, do part of the miles before work, and part at the gym... But this wouldn't be as satisfying (TWSS)
2. Do all my runs super early and get home from work a little later... Don't really want to do that to my family on a constant basis.

3. Do all my running to work (or during my lunch break if it is a short run). It is about 11.5 miles to work if I took the most direct walking path per google.. but I don't want to go west and down Damen at 5am, plus too many intersections. So I looked at going down the Lakefront path to Roosevelt and to work.. about 13.4 miles.  Obviously too far to run 5 days a week (for me). I may do that like once a week for a mid week long run (with warm up and cool down). But even then, that is farther down the road.  But what I can do, take the bus to Michigan ave, and that is a little over 6 miles from my office. Okay, good for a short run. Just run north on the Lakefront path for another mile or two to get extra miles in. I'm guessing I'll think of a few more variations on the - Bus to my starting point - idea.  I'll have to move a lot of food and cloths to my closet at work. This will allow me to leave the house at a reasonable time, shower at work, maintain my work schedule, and still do a midday workout.
I just wanted to use this gif, but it doesn't fit with my post at all.

But of course, I first still need to figure out what is wrong with my chest. The pressure comes around for a couple days, then dissipates, and returns again. I don't think it is my heart (but that will be my first specialist and giant bill I'm sure), but we'll see.

Also, I haven't read blogs since... last Wednesday? I'll catch up on reading soon! Hold tight blogsters.

And tomorrow is my wife's birthday! Don't let me forget!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Links and Longing

Running is Just Not a Sport

I came across this video right before typing this blog post, but it fits the theme in my head perfectly.. more on that in a moment.

First a few running links from the week:

The Often Forgotten Group: The Sub Elites - Also known as the Bootleggers Running Club

Garmin Forerunner 220 In-Depth Reviews - If I shell out for a GPS watch, I would go for this one just due to the lower price point than..

Garmin Forerunner 620 In-Depth Review - This is a sexy beast, but just too expensive.

Okay so maybe not that many links, but like you were going to click each one?

Question: What are your favorite podcasts? I'm currently tracking Kevin Smith, NPR Stuff, Radio Lab. Science... Sort Of.., and The Skeptics Guide to the Universe

This next portion is more of just a mental exploration for me and geting it down in writing.  It is not an uplifting piece, advice, or even funny, it is just me exploring me at this moment in time. So feel free to skip this section as it won't be very useful or even interesting to 98% of you and probably make 99.9% of you roll your eyes. Just highlight the text if you want to read it. Otherwise, scroll down to the gif!

I've mentioned in various posts how running is much more than an exercise to me, running is often my refuge, my outlet, my "me time", my community, my hobby, my sugar that makes my coffee start my day.

I've complained, mopped around, I dramatize it, but logically I know it is just a short blip of time (I hope) and honestly ANGAF. I can still use the gym to hit the bike and lift. I'll probably be back running before I know it and look back to how big of a baby I am. But this post isn't about that, it's about this moment in time and examining the why.

Since becoming a father and having a family unit that redefines your life, it is easy to forget your prior identity and to make time that is for yourself. And when you do, you can feel guilty and selfish doing it. You think, is holding onto this unhealthy? Am I just not moving forward and accepting the new? But the the urges stay there to find your time to focus on anything you want to, be it everything or nothing.  To be in control of your environment. I used to be big into tech and games, stay up late playing online,  dig into the forums and that was my thing. Now, duh, it is running

And that is my current issue. Running does so much for me, I don't consider it exercise. It became engraved as a need. Many of you can relate on feeling cranky if you miss your run. It is similar to that, just amplified a few fold.  I'm generally pretty patient, but after the time off from the marathon, and now the time off from trying to heal up, I can feel the build up. I can't pin it on tension, emotions, factors during my day, or events as honestly, nothing bad is happening, nobody is being rude to me, and my family is great. Am I just missing the high? More than that. I'm missing that time I had where I reflected on my identity. The time of the day I could rely on to be for me,  know I was doing what I wanted, and do it guilt free as I don't have to neglect anyone else for that time frame. It sets me up for the day, so that no matter what I can look back and say, I at least had that time today, I can't complain.

Well now I don't have that for extended time and I just don't feel proper. The commute to and fromwork, try to make that my time? Nope, read or listen to music/podcasts. Those distractions are just to make the time go by faster in an environment that doesn't exactly scream, find your zen. I'm trying out a new book soon, maybe that will help. 

I can watch some TV or a sports game, but as my wife will testify to, once I actual try to follow or focus on a show (or anything), I become very boxed off and not very social (unless of course you are screaming at the game with me). So that is a hard activity to count as down time or me time, (just like Sauron, who does not share power) as I either am being annoying by not paying attention to my family or being annoying in how I share my attention with my family.

Then there is my time at the gym. I'm sorry, but weights and stationary biking  just don't do it. Not even close. The gym is just exercise. There is no self exploration, losing yourself, pushing yourself harder, testing yourself. Weights is a slow progression, I'm either going to be able to finish that third set of 15lb weights or I won't. That last set you either hit failure or you do it. This has nothing on running, where you can keep digging deep, be it for 400 meters or 4 miles. That time you spend soul searching to go is amazing. Having it cut down to just a few moments of grunting is unsatisfactory to me. That said, I am glad to at least have weekday access to a full gym and exercise, but that isn't the point of this post. The point is to find why my balance is off and if it is indicative of something greater.

I definitely miss actually being with my running friends (can I scratch out running and say friends? I think that is a stronger term), and seeing everyone still at it, races, events, I get a bit down not being able to be there too. Now not all of this is due to not running, family wise, my wife and child always come first, so missing events isn't new. It isn't like I'm excluded from anything, I'm actually included in it all, it is more like just waving the bus to skip your stop.

Every day I feel a bit more.. aggressive. A bit more of a bite itching to surge out with my actions. A little more negativity lingering in the background.  I feel mentally displaced.  I'm very aware of the dark tides breaking on my mental shores. I'm also very aware that everything else is good, that I have no reactionary reason to be internally raging against the machine.  I feel blessed to have a supportive job, a wonderful family, and be part of a great running community. All signs say, oh get the F over your lincoln park moodiness, ain't nothing crawling in your skin, and your legs they will heal.


All logical signs say I should be singing in the rain and smiles. I'm not saying I'm a depressed crank all day, I'm not. I'm just saying, I am looking off the shores at what is surging and am trying to ward it off and see what is causing the waves. 

Is running that much of a life enhancer to me? A necessity, a drug? Is it a placeholder for whatever me time/hobby I currently use to keep me fully balanced? Probably. And honestly, I don't know what else could replace it anymore for me. I don't see myself waking up at 3something am to play video games, crotchet, or perfect a secret BBQ sauce. Bikram Yoga can come close, but that is even a bigger time sink and more costly, so a no go for me.

So for now, build up those mental sand bags filled with logic and facts, and not block out all the positives life has given me... Although if you see me turn green, it means the sand bags broke and I am now the incredible hulk.

---End ---
You didn't actually read that did you?
  If so:

If not, good job! it was really boring. Happy Friday Eve! Any big plans or activities today or tomorrow that I should keep a lookout for?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's easier to be Puff but It's harder to not Run

(Warning: I am actually Batman, duh)

As I let my self accept that I'm resting and healing, every day that passes feels like an eternity for the running portion of my brain. Shelving running purposely for even a day is rough. Like a superhero hanging up his cape.

As I mentioned before, I'm trying to do something active every day to keep this from happening:

and slowly get lazy:

Monday: Weight room for 45 minutes. Although all health benefits were shot with lingering Halloween candy around the office.

Tuesday: The Mrs. wasn't feeling well so I stayed home from work to watch the kiddo and let my wife rest. I got to take her to gymnastics:

If I was at work, I planned on using a stationary bike for 30-40 minutes then do some stretches from physical therapy.  To stay active, I decided to take a walk instead. I got my tot in the jogging stroller and headed out.  Unfortunately it rained most of the time, even though called for no rain. About four and a half miles just to keep the crazy away and burn a few calories. Could easily feel where the stresses are on my legs. Keep resting.  The plus side, it is easier to take photos while walking:
My walking friends

Onward Mighty Chariot!

Ducking under the bridge when the rain picked up



I took a lot of photos here over the summer

Wednesday: Back to the weight room (M/W/F) where I'm sure the Goliaths are internally going like this at me:

Don't like this post?

I was going to ask you to talk about how your pre Friday eve is going (Wednesday for you non Weekend Warriors), but..
So just say something totes awesome about yourself!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Blah Blah Blah Blog Post

I figured I should throw together a post just to not lose my readers!

What has been going on since my last post?

1 attempted run with the jogging stroller on Saturday:

After a few days of resting, lots of stretching, and using my tennis ball, I felt pretty decent Saturday morning, some stretch and hop tests felt normal. I decided to take the kiddo out for a slow run, somewhere between 5-7 miles. The first three miles I felt fine, then my left leg started to break down.

Everything related to the recent hamstring pull flared up slowly, starting from my ankle and went straight up.. The last two miles back home I had a pretty awful drop step to my run and a kiddo who was getting a little antsy, but behaved very well overall.

Honestly, I've been in a bit of a funk since I pulled it. After taking time off after the marathon and hoping to slowly get back into a routine, injuring myself, even a small injury, just bonks me. Since running has become so much more than exercise to me, removing it from routine so often isn't that nice of a feeling.

To add, I still have lingering issues with my big toe flexor, improving, but still there. And that chest thing? Yea.. came back a bit. I got a referral to see a cardiologist and if nothing there, a pulmonary doctor. I'm still guessing its more nothing than something, but once I mentioned my chest issues to my doctor, he wanted to cover all the bases.

What does that mean for me? Trying not to run... much.  I obviously need time to heal without continuously beating up my body (Thanks to Miss Fluency's Folly for the supportive words on recovery today!) . I go through big chunks of the day feeling normal, thinking oh I can get back out tomorrow, then I'll feel a pull tighten or something feel out of place.. being human.. ugh.

I'm almost a robot
I'll be hitting the gym more often now to use the bike and weights. I'll probably do a light short jog every few days just to keep a feel for the game, and keep the blues away.  Maybe I"ll be back sooner than I think? Will it be a few days? A week? More? We'll see.

And just because- Halloween photo!
And a big shout out to one of my besties Erin who ran the NYC Marathon today with Corey and some of the BRC crew! They wrecked it!
Erin and Lynton!

So what's going on with you?