Monday, May 13, 2013

Middle-aged Female Triathlete Gets Pneumonia; a new Endurance Challengefor Me..

This all started with a virus, maybe slightly more sicky than usual when I get this stuff. Colds necome viruses, viruses become bronchitis, bronchitis becomes lingering "Stites cough" (I coughed my whole childhood, my kids coughed theirs and now the grandkids), is the usual course of an illness for me. It all started about 3 weeks ago. I was just starting to get back into weightlifting again. I was doing Yoga a couple times a week and training for Ironhorse. Hoping to be part of the Red Cross Disaster Team as a mental health volunteer, I was taking courses at the Red Cross. After joining the NM Counseling Association again, I was in the midst of volunteering to be on the leadership committee of the New Mexico Association of Spiritual, Ethical and Religious Values in Counseling. In summary, I am one busy retired person!
My biking was as good as its ever been. My running was slow but steady, not doing too many long runs. I was even finally able to keep up with the "big kids" biking much of the time. Dread Pirate and I were planning to do Valles Caldera half marathon in June (mountain running race, I love this race). Apparently these 2 do not think I have ever had to miss an event because of illness. Ironhorse is a bike ride out of Durango that goes like this:
I know it's hard to tell but this is a hardass ride!
And this half marathon the beginning of June:
I have done this race before-it is beautiful and I was gonna run with my buddy, Dread Pirate. Damn!
My thoughts about illness
The very unexpected nature of getting sick is enough to send a Virgo to a mental hospital, in madness. I live in a world where my retired husband and I are indestructible. No really!! We retired 7 years ago and have not looked back, not even once. We travel, we train with friends, race all over the world with each other and this makes me feel loved, happy and like I belong. I am use to being in control of all aspects of my life, where I go, what I do, how long I do it. I eat a healthy diet, exercise, don't drink, don't smoke, try and take care of myself mentally, emotionally. So when this STOP hit, I was thrown for a loop. Not to sound too dramatic or anything, but it feels like a big deal in the moment, at least the doctor has communicated more than once Debi, this is a BIG DEAL. You need to rest, I'm not kidding!
What does sudden STOP feel like? Well, the first few days I didn't care..honestly..I felt like a major Mack truck had hit me. If I never ran, biked or swam or even got out of bed for that matter, I didn't care. STOP feels like some foreign force invading my space, taking all my control away and saying see how you like that-POW!
I have been one sick puppy. After seeing 3 doctors in 2 weeks, I think I am finally starting to heal. I first went to Dr. #1 two weeks ago, who assured me it was "just a virus" and did not prescribe antibiotics. After starting to feeling better, I had run/jogged that day, Saturday and felt great. Then all of a sudden that night, H and I were watching TV and I started to shiver uncontrollable. Teeth rattling, someone plopped me onto an iceberg sopping wet, shivering. I started running a fever and felt really all  happened very abruptly. I still had "the cough" but this was all new. Waking up drenched in sweat that night and for days afterwards, made me feel gross. The next morning I had a sharp pain in my left rib and felt short of breath despite taking 2 inhalers and Ipubrofen, still had a fever. Having the worst headache ever in the back of my head, scared me to death (sister died of meningitis). I went to the ER the next day, Sunday and without going into too much detail, it was a nightmare really..Healthcare has changed so much from back in my nursing days (70s-early 90s)! Even in my sick related brain fog, I was horrified. Dr. #2 did, however diagnose me with pneumonia and assured me no, you do NOT have meningitis. I was so relieved about this! After a very rushed IV dose of antibiotics and a prescription for oral anti's, they scurried me out the door and told me to come back if I did not get better in 2-3 days..uh, yea over my dead (or sick) body...
I honestly thought they had made an error. Such an incompetent system at the ER, they probably got my X-Ray mixed up with someone else's or misread it, the possibilities were endless. How could I have pneumonia? Isn't that what "old people" get who are smokers, frail, sunken eyed- the "unhealthy ones"? I was trying my best to deny, deny, deny... On Monday I made an appointment with Dr. #1 as a follow up and surely he could clear this whole mistaken mess. ER Doc #2 had said come back to ER if I was not better on Tuesday. I was worse on Tuesday but was committed NOT to go back to the ER if I could help it.
So had an appointment with Dr. #1 for Thursday as a follow up. I felt worse by Tuesday, thought I would ride it out til I saw him. Then Wed afternoon, Dr. #1's office called and canceled my appt with him for Thursday, said he would be gone- no explanation why, just he wasn't going to be in the next day. By now, I was feeling quite desperate and asked them to at least ask the doc's nurse to call me  that day for some direction. I felt worse and did not want to go back to the ER. Even after leaving a rather urgent message, no call from nurse until the next day.. When she did call, no apologies, no sympathy, nothing! I was so sick and scared, I even forgot to ask the stoopid ER Doc #2 which lung, copy of report or anything. I usually am so on top of these things..
By then H had pulled some strings and gotten me in to see one of his old friends, a Doctor #3 here in ABQ. I saw him Thursday AM and he too, was horrified the ER let me go and did not admit me to the hospital. I not only had pneumonia but a pleural effusion (fluid around lung). Doc says " I could either admit you to the hospital or you could go home and be on bed rest for a few days" (what the heck is bed rest? Lol). The "stay in bed, only get up to the bathroom" kind of bedrest. I chose the latter because well, frankly I am now scared to death to be in any hospital here. Currently, I am taking 2 different anti's, 2 inhalers, cough medicine, hauled out the 'ole Vicks vaporizer and am laying low. I no longer have a fever and am walking around a little but the shortness of breath is my limiter. Dr. #3 says I will probably be feeling better by Monday (today) and probably no training (bike/run) for 6 weeks. I have not felt this sick since I had appendicitis when I was 19 years old..I am now on Day 10 of this odyssey. despite being short of breath if I walk across the house or am up more than an hour, I am better. No fever, lots of coughing still, appetite slowly coming back, yet I am very fatigued. Guess that is my body's way of saying Uh NO you are not ready to actually DO anything yet. But I am breathing, not in a hospital and have the most excellent private nurse, Nurse H to take care of me. No, he has not had to as of yet, empty any bedpans..ahh..something to look forward to in the future! He has taken such good care of me- I feel stoopid every time I have to ask him for something..I am trying my best to not order him around and tell him how to do dishes, control issues at work probably because I feel so powerless.
I wistfully watch as Hartley walks the door in his bike or workout gear. I'm at the point in the sickness where I am only mildly jealous. It has not been not such a big deal for me up until now. I heard the words that "I need to spend a few days in bed" coming out of the doctors mouth and I feel a certain sense of curiosity. A few days of that? What does that look like?! I realize in this moment that I'm not 30 years old..I have to limit my Cyberchondria to only 10 minutes a day or I will definitely find some rare, foreign disease that caused all this. I can't explain it but it feels like something must have caused this, does something happen so randomly? Another example of my control issues.
I don't think the impact of what I will be missing has sunk in yet..major suckitude if I look at it that way...I could choose to look at the positive:
List of list of things I'll do while I am recovering.
  1. I will never be late making my moves in online Scrabble. This should make my competitors happy!
  2. Never be late paying bills because I am too busy to open them.
  3. Pay attention to Facebook, even write some posts myself..
  4. Catch up on reading...books..real or electronic.
  5. Surf the net endlessly without feeling like a slug.
  6. Watch the last and catch up with seasons of "Game of Thrones"
  7. Organize my 5,000 or so photos into some kind of order.
  8. Make lists of lists on how to organize, fix, replace. all the things I see in my house that has to be done.
  9. On that note, I get to obsess about everything that I haven't done in the last three years that we've lived at this house.
  10. Blog about my recovery..not as interesting as traveling or Ironman..on second thought that may just be depressing..
  11. Read all the blogs of friends that I have not had time to read..
  12. Watch endless movies/Series/Documentaries on Netflix.
My activity all depends on how I feel up walking around. A trip across the house seems to get me winded these days. Breathing is a great Leveler right now. I find myself wondering if only my crazy triathlete/running/biking friends know how hard it is to define "taking it easy". Does it mean only running 5 miles today? Not biking up a mountain pass? Yoga only 3 times a week? See, I need some thinking adjustment here!
It is now Monday. I am still weak but eating more, even going to venture out for a field trip- a trip to the doctor today! My back is sore from lying around so much. I fight the urge to "try and do some Yoga" but stretching doesn't sound like a bad idea. I am fighting grumpiness..If I hear "this is your body/ the universe telling you to slow down", although well meaning-I will explode!
However, I am so grateful for my friends locally, Facebook friends, my awesome kids and all that are sending me well wishes. I feel the healing vibes. If love could heal, I will be well very soon! H has been so patient with me, he understands how frustrated and sad I am at times.
So STOP just try and ruin my present life- I am Ironman!


LBTEPA said...

Debi, PLEASE be very very careful and cautious with your recovery - I know you are very healthy and fit but this is not a 'normal' illness. It takes a LONG time to recover from - both my husband and I have had it. Find a conservative dr you trust and do exactly as s/he says. You'll feel sad and frustrated, but there are other races :)

SWTrigal said...