"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

RBR: The inauspicious beginning

I have been struggling with my asthma since Bizz Johnson. So much so, that I am back on my nebulizer
The students are convinced I am somehow allowed to smoke pot at school. Yeah, it's pot that is in a liquid form, requires an air compressor, and doesn't smell like pot. Morons! Learn your druggie facts! I am embarrassed to call myself your teacher.

Anyway, this made me think of what started all of this exercise stuff in the first place.

In 2003, I was in my third year of teaching, coaching two sports, mentoring one club, still working weekends at my old job, juggling 5 pet sitting clients, finishing my clear teaching credential classes, and had started my first masters program. Low and behold I got sick,

...but I didn't have time to be sick, so I kept going.

Then I got sicker.

still no time to be sick, so I kept going.

People started to notice I was not doing well. I could not walk the entire length of the campus without stopping. My husband finally put his foot down and TOOK my stubborn ass to the doctor. The doctor said it was possibly walking pneumonia, "here's an inhaler, some antibiotics, don't work for the next week or two..."

Yeah, right.

I took two days off and kept going. By now I am forced to sleep sitting up, because I can't sleep laying down without feeling like I am going to die,

but I kept thinking it would get better.

I went back to the doctor, she says my lungs sound awful, gives me some steroids and two more types of inhalers, a nebulizer, and says "I think you have asthma, that makes the pneumonia much more dangerous. Don't go back to work yet." She is visibly stunned when I say I went back last week.

I still thought it would get better, so I went back to work. I was pretty non-functional at my job. I had a wheezing/coughing fit at school and had to send a student to get my inhaler because I could not make the 200 yard walk. I decided to take a couple of days off to "knock this thing out." At home I can't eat, sleep, or move. Walking from one room to another I run out of air and go down on one knee. I got to the bathroom to find the new rescue inhaler ( I was using them about 20 times a day at this point) and I barely recognized myself in the mirror.

I decided to go back to the doctor. At the office, my SpO2 (measure of the amount of oxygen in my blood which should be 99-100%) was 90% and it dropped to 82% if I talked or tried to walk across the room. The doctor explained that at 81% they will intubate you and put you on a ventilator.

That afternoon I was admitted to the hospital. That night I watched my husband cry as he signed a DNR (do not resuscitate) form as a precaution in case they had to intubate me and my brain went without oxygen for more than 6 minutes.

I was in the hospital for 10 days. Every medical student, nursing student, and respiratory tech in the hospital came to listen to my lungs. I was placed in the cancer ward because the respiratory therapists had to treat me every three hours, I was on 24 hour/day oxygen, I had to get IV steroid injections three times a day, IV antibiotics twice a day, and I needed a new IV catheter every morning.

The absolute worst part of this is I had done it to myself. I ignored warning signs. I ignored loved ones that pleaded and argued with me. I thought I just needed to get to the "after."

The "After" is a lie I tell myself and loved ones when I over commit and lose myself. "It will get better after this semester", "it will get better after I finish this season", "it will get better after the holidays", etc., etc.

10 days alone in a hospital gives you a lot if time to think about your life. Don't get me wrong, I had visitors. My family, students, and friends came to see me, but there was still A LOT of alone time.

I thought about all the things I sacrificed in order to maintain an admittedly insane schedule. I would routinely forget family and friends' birthdays and anniversaries, I would refuse almost all invitations because I was too tired or too busy, my animal family time was reduced to basic maintenance (feed, water, clean, repeat), my husband is very self-sufficient but the amount of time we spent being a couple was frighteningly little.

Plus, I didn't do anything else but work and school. I had NO hobbies. Not one. I had to make shit up on my resume to make my self sound more interesting.

If I died there in that hospital, all people could say about me is "Boy, could that girl work!"

When I got out I decided to change some things. I had been SCUBA certified in Hawaii, but always wanted to take a "real" course and dive in California (I don't know why it is WAY too freaking cold!). I did my open water re-certification, then additional Advanced Open Water, and a Nitrox certifications.

Then in 2005, I found Team in Training and triathlon. The rest, as they say, is history. I still have MAJOR issues with balance and overcommitment, but as one long time friend pointed out to me recently, at least some of it is about me now. (Well, we all know that martyrs like my former, and often, current self come from a very self-centered base, but that is a discussion for another time :o)

Good luck to all that are racing this weekend! There are a SLEW of you!

Stef and my LA Run Buddy are rocking it out at the Pumpkinman Triathlon today!

AndreaN, AKA Alice (and her hefferettes), and RunningKnitter are all doing the Nike Women's Marathon and 1/2 Marathon on Sunday.

Lisa Slow-and-Steady is doing the Duke City 1/2 Marathon on Sunday

IronGeekGirl Misty is doing the Palo Duro Canyon 50K, while her hubby, S.Baboo, does the 50 miler on Sunday

I am certain I have missed people, but I am tired and I have to go smoke some liquid pot*

*See reference at very beginning of post. I know my post is too long, so I didn't want anyone thinking I was being serious. No, there is no such thing as liquid pot and if there was you couldn't smoke it.
Sorry about all the LOL cats, but I LOVE lol cats. They make me laugh.
That might make me stupid and pedestrian, but
I don't care! That shit is funny!


Julianne said...

You truly are an amazing athlete, after all that you went through. You're an inspiration!! :-)

SWTrigal said...

WOW-that is really a tough time you went through..being sick that long and hospital and all..geez-so glad you pulled out and are here! And will got into triathlon world..so you can stay here now..

Tina Mickelson said...

How come this sounds so familiar. I was standing in line, in tears at the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland with a 103 fever and full on Broncitis and asthma but wouldn't give up my kids oppertunity to enjoy disneyland so I endured... I also crashed and burned, not quite as harshly as you unfortunately did but pretty darn bad.

We all need to have perspective... we juggle too much. We are afraid of letting anybody else down. But truthfully? We are letting ourselves, our bodies, our families down by being the martyr. Not such a good thing.

You are an inspiration, to use this experience and teach others taht it is not only dangerous but that you are a single person who cannot do it all and sick time is called sick time for a reason. Time to get better.

Hope you feel better soon... I guess you won't be running that race with me next year but I'll be thinking of you and maybe see you at the CIM.

RBR said...

Oh, don't worry, I'll be running Bizz again! I have a score to settle. I just have to re-think my cold running plan! ;o)

ShirleyPerly said...

The first step to getting better is recognition of the problem. How do I know? Because I'm a recovering workaholic myself. Although I was never admitted to a hospital, I worked at one PT (one of 3 jobs I held in college). When they gave me their standard physical, they nearly admitted me for severe anemia. I had a terrible diet, slept little and ignored many signs that were telling me to take better care of myself. One time after a head-on car crash where I'd sustained a concussion, as it would turn out, I refused to go the hospital and instead went to school to study. What an idiot!

Thanks for sharing your story with us and hope you are better soon. Love the cat graphics!!

Tyger Lily said...

Don't know if I have commented before but have been reading your blog for a while.

Thanks! I really needed this. I too, overdo it and have asthma.

Unknown said...

Wow, you've been through quite a bit!! Makes your accomplishments all that more impressive. :-)

A good reminder to all of us who tend to overdo it.

On a related note (and not as serious as asthma and walking pneumonia by any means) but no more running for me utnil I've had some physical therapy for my knee.

Herself, the GeekGirl said...

What wound up working for you? For me it was Advaire. It changed my life. Before Advaire I spent time in ERs just for breathing, after Advaire I could do all sorts of exercising stuff. Another thing we have in common!

Anonymous said...

Gosh girl, I'm glad you're okay! That's some scary stuff there.

Hospitals have a way of making you put things in perspective. I'm happy you're enjoying some things for YOU now :)

Angela said...

Wow, girl! You've been going through a lot, huh?
Good luck back at JC. I hope that works out for you. THanks for stopping by. I've missed you!

Aileen said...

LOL cats and LOL dogs officially rule my life.

Keep up the good fight and take care of yourself...from one Asthma Girl to another.

Tater said...

UGH! Sorry you are back on nebulaizer! I hate those things! I also hate being tethered to my rescure inhaler. I forgot it last Sat on my long run and should have gone back to get it but stubborn ass I didn't so I ended up wheezing and gimping my way in the last mile. Dumb@$$ BONK BONK (that's me whacking self in head)! I did take an antihistamine before run Sat morning though because I read a lot of asthmatics when breathing in cold air especially when exercising in cold weather release histamine cause of the cold air. It really seemed to help as I didn't start wheezing til mile 5 when it would normally have started up almost immediately. Hope you're better soon. Thanks for the reminder cause I am more of an "after" type person also!

E said...

That's an amazing story! I think it's great that you were able to get through all of that, and now look at you!

Anonymous said...

Hey there you!

Sorry to hear your asthma is playing up. Work / life balance, gah ... I think a lot of us are guilty of that, and yet, not willing to change it.

Way to go on supporting Andrea :)

The Original MAJ said...

First of all, Lolcats ROCK!

Second of all, they do need to check their druggie facts.

Third, I know how you feel. My situation never got as bad as yours but I have been struggling with a host of chronic health conditions for years. And I constantly put myself in situations where I had 50-hour workweeks, full-time classes, etc. - and never got better. Iw as afraid to call in because I didn't want to lose my job. Self-fulfilling prophecy because I just got sicker and was pretty worthless at work.

I'm learning that perfection is not only uneccesary but some times dangerous. And that I can't save everything in my life until "after."

Great post!

JenZen said...

What a GREAT post!! So true. Thanks for making me stop and reflect. You are an amazing person to have been through all that and truly learned from it. Wow. Hope you're feeling better soon!

Jane said...

Yeah, overworking is for chumps. Now overtraining and overracing - that's for crazies like us. Gosh, a DNR - realistic, but yeah, I can imagine it making anyone cry. funny is good! I wish I could like cats but I'm allergic as hell!

Breathe Bitch Breathe!

Calyx Meredith said...

I have been thinking of you all week (as Donna struggles with her asthma and teaching and admin bs and training, and, and..) I hope you are feeling better, stronger, clearer. Hope you've had some time to rejuv. Peace.

Formulaic said...

Hopefully you get past this bump in the road soon.

But it sounds like you have faced some major bump err..mountains in your ife before and you've overcome all of them.

That is why your an inspiration.

Keep going and get well soon.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your asthma post - I have asthma too - It helps to know that you tough it out - that you can tough it out - i get pretty scared sometimes when i can't breathe (duh - like I think there are those out there who DON'T get scared when they can't breathe) so then I'm afraid to continue - I like knowing that there is somebody else out there who hasn't died from continuing

um - thanks - I think :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing about asthma - I have asthma too - it's good to know that you can push through it without dying - I get scared when I can't breathe (like somehow you're not supposed to be scared when you can't breathe because I'm SURE nobody else out there gets scared when they can't breathe)

rock on with your bad self

Anonymous said...

dood - sorry for the double post - I'm still learning how to use this thing