When Life Gives You Lemons

I’m sure we have all heard the various takes on this phrase- make lemonade, add vodka, etc. I don’t particularly hate lemons although they can leave a sour taste in the mouth. I’m pretty sure that is what the author of this phrase meant in regards to something that can be distasteful or disappointing.

My last post I was entering my last 27 days of training before taking on 100 miles. My last long run was exactly 2 weeks ago-a 20 miler that felt sluggish at best and left me feeling really beat up. I could have blamed it on the intense wind that day or the fact that is was day 3 of back to back long runs, but that was not the case as I was soon to discover.

Enter The Lemons: I awoke the next day ready to go to work but feeling a bit “off.” I thought I was just a little sore from the intense 3 day runs so I arrived to work ready to tough it out. Have you ever had one of those “pseudo reality” experiences? Like arriving at your destination without recollection of how you got there? I sort of felt like I was floating and then the intense chills/rigors/body aches set in. I left after 30 minutes, realizing I was going to be a worthless nurse that day.

I seldom miss work, but for the next three days I was behaving something like this:

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Baby Rex the Chihuahua

Needing a Dr. excuse for the 3rd day of missed work, I embarked on urgent care for the first time. Nasal swab confirmed influenza B. So much for mandatory flu vaccines. I have honestly not been that sick since the early 90s. The body aches were so intense that I could NOT get comfortable no matter what I did. I maxed out on ibuprofen and took Tylenol for the first time in at least 15 years. I soaked through bed sheets at least three times a night for 4-5 nights. M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E! By Saturday (day 5), it had settled into my lungs/chest and every cough felt like I was going to hack up a lung and felt like an inferno in my lungs. The thick, green phlegm that came up (sorry) told me that I was now sporting a good bacterial infection that was not going to go away without antibiotics.

Urgent Care Trip Two: Having been there once, I thought, “Okay, this will be a breeze. I’ll tell them what I need (after all I AM an RN), they’ll write me a prescription for an antibiotic, and I’ll be on my way and feeling better in about 48 hours.” I can now appreciate when patients say that doctors don’t listen to them. The “full of himself” physician told me that he was sure that it was viral and that I did not need an antibiotic. I’m so glad that he came to this conclusion without a chest x-ray or sputum sample. Holy crap-me knowing my own body and what it needs surely was not enough! I left with a prescription for steroids and tessalon pearls because CLEARLY the doctor knows best! The ONLY reason that I filled the prednisone was because I had also developed an itchy rash on my chest & on both ankles and I knew that steroids would calm that down. I did not fill the tessalon pearls because I hate taking medication that makes me feel loopy. It was only to suppress the cough anyway. The fact that he would not listen and almost insisted that I smoked (asking 3 times) left a REALLY sour taste in my mouth. Talk about lemons!

What is a nurse to do when she has to return to work the following Monday. She takes matters in her own hands and uses the internet to get what she wants. I’m pretty sure that feeling like I was drowning, not being able to breathe and wheezing was indicative of something more serious to which an antibiotic would be effective. Long story short, I got my antibiotic and within 48 hours was feeling much better although the cough seems to be hanging on without the burn. For all I know, I could have had a touch of pneumonia or RSV. I was never checked for either. What I DO know is that I NEVER want to be that sick again. I’m pretty sure my body could have fought it off after being exposed to the germs at work, but doing those back to back long runs expended all of the energy that was needed to fight it. Who knew?

Lemons. The two things I love doing the most -running and eating, I could have cared less about. I missed key training runs leading up to the ultra. The weather here in Missouri has been bipolar lately with cold, damp mornings and chilly, windy days. I have since started running again on my treadmill, embracing it like an old friend. I am not going to run outside until the weather levels out. It’s just not worth the risk of relapse.

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Not quite 2 weeks, but close

Lemons. Where does this leave my ultra? I had at first bumped down to the 50 miler, contacting the race director who was gracious enough to do that for me. But as of this writing, my gut is telling me that although I know I could do it (12 days away & I am THAT stubborn), it would probably not be the best decision. The long range forecast is calling for low 40s that morning with a high in the 50s. Normally great running weather, but not when one has another week of antibiotics to take, sweating and cooling off in those temps would not be wise. Weird to be side-lined by illness instead of injury.

One of my greatest pet peeves as a nurse is non-compliant patients. I have to practice what I preach, and putting my body through that much stress when I have been the sickest I have been in 20 years would be a foolish decision. I missed a Shamrock 5k I was registered for as well. So unfortunately, I will take the big DNS (Did Not Start). This decision was not made lightly and is definitely disappointing.

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Good Advice

My focus will now turn to training & being completely healthy for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth this June with some of my fabulous running group friends. I will also run the Hospital Hill 1/2 Marathon this year having not ran it for several years. I’ll see how many other states I can knock off over the summer with the half marathon & do some more trail runs. Will I sign up for another 100? I don’t know. It is a HUGE time commitment. At this point I am happy just to be able to breathe and feel like myself again.

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Enjoy the journey

 

That makes me happier than three turtles sunning on a log!946754_10209019969482564_5415457948324770105_n

Hope to see you out on the road or trails,

Stephanie

Living, Dying, & Finding 100

Recent thoughts going into my final 27 days of training

Let’s start with living. Take a deep breath in. Do you feel that? That is life in it’s purest form. No breath, no life. It’s the basic component of CPR-the ABCs- Airway, Breathing, Circulation. You have to have an airway to breath. Ventilators can breathe for you, but eventually you must breathe on your own, or it is shut off & you die. Take another deep breath. Relax & let the stress melt away. You are alive.

I think it was Les Brown who said, “Some folks are dead at 25, but not buried until they are 85.” I love this metaphor as it describes so many who just “settle” for existing. They are born, go to school, get a job (or not), retire, and wait to die. Their dreams, hopes, and talents are buried with them. They are the naysayers, the ones who don’t believe in themselves even when no one else will. They give up and settle. They never go outside of their comfort zone.

Now, I’m not saying to be irresponsible. Heck, in this day & age of entitlement, we need more responsibility. What if we all took a few more risks? You will never no how far you can go until you push yourself. Don’t die while you are still alive. Here’s one I’ve used before, but is worth repeating:

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Live Your Life

On dying: Was is Star Trek that always started with, “Space the Final Frontier?” I personally don’t believe that is true. I think death is the final frontier. What is left after that? Despite one’s beliefs on the afterlife, it is permanent and the one thing that we cannot control. We are all going to die. Many do not want to believe or accept that. That is why it is so hard to sell life insurance & why many a family is left to pick up the pieces and sort things out after the fact.

Many die way too young. So much living left to do, so much heartache left for those who loved them. Their chances are over. Just. like. that. Human nature, or selfishness (human nature), or the “I’ve got time” mentality makes one think that one will always be there. Words left unsaid, fences left un-mended, & “one of these days” are gone forever.

A tale of two women:

2/24/2016 a young woman left this world unexpectedly. I’m sure when she awoke that morning that the thought that she would perish that day never crossed her mind. So tragic, so sad, no time to say goodbye, just gone. I met this young woman when she was seven years old. She died way too young at the age of 40. Her facebook post from the previous day, almost exactly 24 hours to the time of the accident was this:

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We all have a departure date

A few days ago a friend called to tell me that a former co-worker was in the hospital and got devastating news out of the blue that she had inoperable cancer. In fact, it is so bad that they could not distinguish one organ from another when they opened her up. The only symptom she had was stomach swelling. The medical professionals have given her 3-4 months to live before her departure date. She herself is one of the finest medical professionals I know, and she taught me a lot about being a nurse. Tragic-yes. Still young by today’s standards of longevity in her early sixties. Yet she has the advantage of getting her affairs in order and saying her goodbyes.

 

Finding 100

As my training is winding down for the Epic Ultra 100, I have struggled to get things just right. Finding the right pace per mile has been one of the issues that has been difficult. Not too fast-definitely not too fast. Yet for someone who has always strived for speed, it has been a challenge wrapping my head around this. It is almost painful to go too slow, but I know this is what must be done to go the distance. So far, I have varied between an 11-12 minute pace and that has seemed to work even with 30 second walks every 4.5 minutes. I know I should slow down even more. I will hit my longest training run on 3/19 of 50 miles-2 weeks before the Ultra. Other struggles have been getting nutrition just right, strengthening my core/hips, and adjusting to carrying 2 liters on my back. At best, I am mentally prepared & I am determined that the other things will just fall into place. LES-BROWN-QUOTES-4

LIVING: Had anyone told me a few years ago that I would be running 100 miles, I would have laughed. But that has been with so many other things in my life as well. I have chosen not to die while still living and breathing. There is so much more living left to do. I am a risk taker & an adventure seeker. I have goals and hopefully will inspire others along the way.7eb0f7179138cf1b70e81bb2f543bcc2

DYING: I realize that I have no control over when my number is up, but I sincerely have tried to leave no regrets. Nor do I have control over how others choose to respond to me, leaving words left unsaid. That is for them to deal with when the time comes, but my mind is at peace. It requires dying to self, self-righteousness, pride, & ego. Sadly, many people would rather hang on to their need to “be right” than to “make things right” with others.

Metaphorically speaking-what will it take to find your 100? Is there a phone call you need to make? A debt you need to pay? A visit, a card? A vacation you’ve been meaning to take? A talent that needs to be unleashed? The chance for “one of these days” may never come.

Hope to see you out on the road or trails,

Stephanie