It was a week ago today that I got off a plane and headed straight to the doctor's office. It's been a week of breathing treatments, medication, fever, more medication, and just plain feeling sick. It's been a week of applauding tough decisions and recovering from them. It's been quite a week.
I was having the most wonderful day running through the Western States trail. Everything was on! I was happy, felt great, and making "no mistakes." (Paul's Motto for the race: Fast Feet and No Mistakes) Then a strange thing happened...I couldn't take a normal breath. It was on the climb up to Michigan Bluff that I noticed it. This is a climb I love. It is not steep, it just goes on for a while. I can climb it easily in 40-45 minutes. Last Saturday it took me almost an hour. It was not because of my legs or fatigue, it was because I had to stop to breathe. I was just having the hardest time getting air in...it was so weird. I came into Michigan Bluff and I sat down and refueled. I told Paul what was going on, but I think he just took it as a low moment. I was hoping that was what it was. I headed out and immediately down the trail I realized that this was more than a low moment, something was wrong. I was basically hyperventilating, but not really. If I tried to take a deep breath in, I would cough. I could barely talk. It was miserable...this is how I was from mile 55-62. Paul met me at Bath Road, and I told him to find out if there was oxygen available and if I could take it without being pulled. I got to Foresthill, and the doctor was waiting for me. At first he couldn't hear the wheezing in my lungs, and then once I started coughing he heard it loud and clear. I couldn't get a breath in and the longer I was there the worse things got. The doctor, Paul, and my pacers decided it was unsafe for me to continue. I didn't feel well enough to object to the decision.
Paul loaded me up and we went over to our friends' Lee and Sara house. I didn't even change clothes and just laid on top of a sleeping bag on their guest bed. I did not feel well at all. Paul said that I spent that entire first night grasping for a breath. He said it made him feel better about making the right decision. The next morning I woke up not feeling well, coughing but not able to cough anything up. I made myself eat and drink a bit, but didn't really want to. We packed up and got ready to take the red-eye home. It was during this flight that the worst started to hit. On the flight I started to have the worst sore throat, cough, and just all over hard time breathing. I knew I needed to get to the doctor. The minute we landed I called the doctor's office and got in.
Once at the doctor's office, I started getting breathing treatments to try to loosen up the dirt and swelling in my lungs. I was actually able to cough some dirt up after the 2nd treatment. From there she prescribed meds to help the swelling in my lungs go down and help me clear my lungs. I thought I would feel better soon...not so fast. Apparently, my lungs got infected from the dirt/dust in them. By Monday night I was running a 102 fever, and feeling all together miserable. Tuesday was a bit more of the same, but my fever dropped so that was better.
By Wednesday I was down to a very nasty cough and starting to see the light. Thursday I decided it was time to resume my "normal" activities...things had to be getting better or I was going to make them. Friday was even better, and I went back to the doctor to see that I was improving and get a round of antibiotics for the infection that was in my lungs...nice.
Saturday I went for a run, and found that my legs were still totally fine...did I even run 62 miles the week before...and getting moving helped loosen everything up in my lungs, yum!! I had my first social outing Saturday evening, and it was very fun NOT to talk too much about the race. Sunday I took Daisy for a long run, 7 miles, and then stained our deck. Clea came over to visit after being in Alaska for 10 days and brought me an awesome shirt...I love presents!!
Today is going on as though nothing happened...except for the fact that I am still coughing when I run. But more than nothing took place over the past week...
I was so busy being sick and working to get better that I didn't even barely think about how disappointed I might be for not seeing this finish line yet again. I spent the week just trying to get back to real life that I didn't even miss not being able to run or exercise. I had gone from being in the best shape of my life to barely being able to walk the dog around the block in just a few days, and my legs weren't even tired. Now that I am better I realize that this is how it was meant to be.
In getting sick, and feeling so very sick, the importance of the race took a step back to everything else. My precious moments of talking were saved to talk to my friends. My precious energy went into working and making sure I didn't fall behind at the house. Although my husband enjoyed the silence of me not being able to talk, I used what energy I had to help him catch-up and make sure we had healthy meals to eat.
I could not have taken this journey without Paul and my friends, and I could not have made it through this past week without the exact same people. I never felt an empty hole or a moment of how to handle this because everyone I love has been there before I can even think to need them. It has been overwhelming in the most wonderful way.
I don't know what the very near future will hold except for getting back to 100%, and working with the doctor to make sure this doesn't happen again...or at least I can handle it if it does. In the meantime, I feel so loved and blessed for all of those in my life that right now I don't even feel empty for not seeing the track on Sunday morning.
The track will still be there, and when it is meant to be I will get there...
Thank you for being my support!!