Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gallbladder be gone!

That's right.  I have to have my gallbladder removed.  Would it have been nice to know this when I had surgery back on May 9 so that it could have been done then?  Yes.  But that's just not how my body likes to always take the complex route. 

To refresh your memories (assuming I still have an audience given my spotty entries as of late), I had what seemed to be a severe gallbladder attack back on June 12.  I ended up in the emergency room with severe (as in, worse than child birth) pain and uncontrollable vomiting.  The physician who treated me was about as inconsiderate as they come.  But he gave me Dilaudid and that took the pain away.  After I left, I refused to eat anything other than clear liquids (gummy bears, etc.) for fear of another attack.  Any time that I would eat anything heavier, I'd get a twinge of pain.

Last weekend, I started eating normally again.  And I had a LOT more pain and nausea.  So I went to see my surgeon this week.  She says the gallbladder has got to come out.  They are to call me today to schedule surgery. 

So, the question I'm asking is:  was this related to all the other muck in my abdomen?  Until this gallbladder stuff, since my surgery, I've been pain free on my runs.  She thinks it is a separate issue that is maybe somehow related or that it may have made the other stuff worse.  At any rate, it's coming out.

The recovery will be around 2 weeks.  I will run as soon as I can after the surgery, but also recognize that I have to let myself heal from this.  I want to race Chicago, but if I can''s not the end of the world.  I would love to run it with my dad.  I could then race the Monumental Marathon in Indy in November...and there is always Tecumseh.

I am very, very, very hungry for regular food!

In other news, Amelia is at church camp.  It kills me.  I know she is having a wonderful time, but it makes me realize how much I love having her around.  She is a very busy girl with camps this summer, and will soon be starting travel soccer.  At least she's allowing me to "train" her for that via running.  She's growing up too fast. Rowan is doing well at his daycare, and I'm getting a ton of stuff done on my dissertation.

Oh, and I made a running fashion blog!  Check out Taylor's What I Wore (On my Run) blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

20 miles...any way you can get them.

I had a 20 miler on tap for today.  I usually run my long runs in the morning, but since I ran the Jim-N-I run late in the afternoon, I wanted to delay it a bit later in the day to have more turn around time.  My legs were VERY sore after the tri run.  I wore my new 3.0s, and I felt it after the run.  Not injury pain...just general soreness.  I was so sore it was waking me up last night.

So I slept in (until 10:00...thanks to my husband) and didn't run until around 2:00.  I was so sore.  So I got under the robot.  That helped a lot, and made me feel like I actually COULD run 20 miles.  I had planned to do the Buddha 20 mile course, but Tim (who had already gone swimming and biking this afternoon) wanted to join me for ten miles.  We had to take Rowan in the running stroller, and it's way too dangerous to take him on the Buddha course due to traffic and no shoulders on the roads, so we decided we'd do 10 in town together, then I'd add on 10 out in the county.

I didn't feel well from the start.  First, I had some abdominal pain.  I didn't have any yesterday, but it was there from the first step today.  It's nothing like it used to be, but it's very annoying.  It was on both sides.  I think it must have been from the effort yesterday.  That or dehydration.  We were going slowly, but my legs just felt dead.  It wasn't that hot, but boy was it muggy.

About 5 miles in, the abdominal pain got better, but the legs just kept getting worse.  I ran the next five with Tim back to our house.  He and Rowan went inside and I had to leave for another 10 miles.  With how I felt, it seemed daunting.  I reminded myself that I love running and headed out.  Very slowly at first, as my legs had tightened up from the brief stop.

I'll spare you all the details, but let me just say it got ugly from there.  14 miles in I wanted to pull the plug.  I stopped at a volunteer fire department right around that time.  I run by it all the time, but usually it looks all locked up.  Today, though, there were two firefighters outside.  "Do you need help?" they asked as I stopped at their drive.  I must have looked bad.  "I just need some water."  I had been drinking...I had water stashed.  But it just wasn't enough.  I was so thirsty.  Gels weren't helping, so I hoped some more fluid would.  They gave me two coffee cups full of ice cold water and an ice cold bottle of water to take me.  I thanked them profusely and went on.  I drank the entire bottle of water very quickly, and stopped where I usually have to use the bathroom.  But I couldn't pee.  I was 14 miles in and couldn't pee.  That wasn't good.  I grabbed some stashed water and drank some more.

The next six miles were awful. The abdominal pain returned and my legs just wouldn't go.  My vision was getting blurry and I knew I'd be lucky to finish the run.  I stopped looking at my splits, as I could see myself slowing waaay down.  I told myself to just finish.  It's still 20 miles, I told myself.

I stopped every couple of miles just to gather myself...just for a minute or so.  I had to.  I still couldn't pee and, worse, I was now vomiting up all the gels and water I had taken in.  Before I knew it, I was at the base of Slaughter House Hill.  Two miles from home.  Before I began to ascend it, I said to myself "Just get the miles.  Get them any way you can get them."  I was giving myself permission to go as slowly as I needed to.

Half way up the hill, I had to stop.  It's a very steep hill, but it's not that long.  But I HAD to stop.  I rested about a minute and then finished it.  I refuse to walk.  I just rest and then resume running.  The next two miles were the worst of the run.  After Slaughter House, it's still hilly.  I usually don't mind the hills in town, but today they killed me.

My Garmin clicked 19, and all I could think was "I have to do this for another mile?"  Yeah, it was that bad.  I usually finish long runs strong...actually feeling better as the run goes on.  Not today.  I set up landmarks.  I'm going to make it to the stoplight.  Once I did that, I'm going to make it to N Street.  Okay, I'm going to make it to Bill and Leisa's house.  At that point, I still had a bit over a half mile to go.  It seemed to go on forever.  I stopped at 16th Street to wait for traffic.  My feet began to cramp and my vision was getting worse.  I could almost see my house but I knew I had to make a turn to add on a bit of distance.

I continued to give myself landmarks. I really felt, with that little distance to go, that I might not be able to finish without stopping again.  Make it to Amelia's bus stop.  After that, I looked at my Garmin.  Crap...I still have 0.25 to go!  I ran right by my house (that was difficult) and continued running until it clicked over to 20.  I then collapsed in my yard.  I made it into the house and into a chair, where Tim said "Well, you did it" and gave me some watermelon and Gatorade.  I couldn't even talk.  He had to take my shoes and socks off of me.  I've never felt so pitiful after a run...not even after the marathon.  I have only now (hours later) looked at my splits.  My average was around 9:08 per mile.  I know that's not slow, but that's a lot slower than I've ever run any run--including a long run.  It's a miracle it wasn't worse.  The only reason it was that fast was because the first 10 were in town and much faster.

So I can hardly walk--I feel like I did after the marathon.  I do not know why.  I only ran 50 miles this week.  I ran hard yesterday, but it was nowhere near race effort.  I don't think that I re-hydrated enough yesterday, and perhaps that's what got me.  I can't pinpoint it.  All I know is that I've never had a bad 20 miler.  Ever.  I've heard everyone talk about them.  "Oh, one time I was on this 20 and then...."   A horrendous, death march 20 miler is a common occurrence among distance runners.  So it appears I just had my first one.  I'm sure it won't be the last.  At any rate...20 miles in the bank.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jim-N-I and Sara Jane

So the Jim-N-I was today.  What a great event.  It's out in Sullivan, IN by a beautiful lake.  Rowan and I arrived there just as the bike section was finishing.  I almost fell over when I saw Bill Deckard ride in first.  Not that I was surprised he was first...but that he was there at ALL.  I think his plane home from Europe landed in Indy just a few hours prior to the race!  Close behind him were all the others, including Tim.

Then it was time for the run.  It was not run as a traditional tri.  Once everyone finishes a section, they all take their time getting ready for the next one.  Changing clothes, eating, etc.  And then everyone starts the next stage together.  Which meant we all started the run together.  There were several others only doing the run.  Some had only done the bike ride.  It was just whatever you wanted to do.  Perfect.

It was hot.  But, more than that, it was humid.  Just...gross outside.  I had no idea how this run/race was going to go.  Was it a group run?  A group run for a while and then race at the end?  I was just up to go for whatever the others did.  We took off.  Bill was in the lead, and I pulled up beside him.  Tim pulled up beside me.  We were still more or less a group at this point, and there was lots of talking.  It was around an 8 minute pace the first mile.  The second mile was about the same.  It felt uncomfortably slow to me...I don't know why.  It was hot, I'm not very fit, and I hadn't really eaten anything.  Anyway, I pushed a little and Tim and two others (Mike Jarrard and a Sullivan) came with us.  We were very soon in the 7:30 range, and I felt better.  We began to gap the group behind us.  We arrived at the aid station at 3 miles ( cold water!) and Mike announced he could go no further at that pace.  I grabbed a bottle, drank some, dumped it over my head, and went on.  I knew if I stopped I'd slow down just because everything starts to tighten up.

Soon, I heard footsteps behind me. It was Miller.  As husband.  Then the Sullivan.  He pulled in front of me and Tim...maybe 30 meters.  I looked down and we were around a 6:54 pace.  I decided right then to make this a marathon pace run.  My goal was to hold 7:13s to the finish.  Just let everyone else go by me and hold that.  I'm too early in my cycle to be all-out racing a 9 mile race.

Tim stuck with me, which really irritates me.  I know he can go faster.  I don't like him using me as an excuse to take it easy.  But he didn't act like it was THAT easy.  He was breathing harder than usual.  Then I realized...he swam a mile, rode 50, and now he's doing this.  No wonder.  At the 6 mile mark, the other guy got to the aid station first.  And he stopped.  He wanted no more of this swamp of a run.

So it was just me and Tim going onward.  I looked behind and could not see the other group.  We took off and I still tried to maintain that pace.  Around 6.5 miles, Tim started picking it up.  So I responded by doing the same.  And then reminded myself that 1) I'm trying to hold marathon pace and 2) I'll never beat him and could kill myself trying.  So I let him go.

Around 7, I was kind of ready to be done.  Not like the end of a race, but I was just so hot and tired.  I was still holding my pace, and I noticed that Tim had come back a little.  I thought maybe I'd catch him.

Wrong.  At 8, he took off.  Could hardly even see him.  I crossed about 35 seconds after he did, and I'm not sure of my exact time because I didn't stop my watch (rare!)...but when I stopped it it was right at 68 minutes.  So I'd say I was around 67:30 ish.  Definitely not what I hope I can run a 15K in, but good for what it was.  The only reason I beat a lot of those guys behind me (Bill, for example), is because they were exhausted from the bike.  Still, though, I chicked them all!  Except Tim.  Who I THINK won the tri overall.

Now, to the other name in my title.  Sara Jane, as you may have seen announced quite boldly on my facebook wall last week, ran a 4:23 at Grandma's.  Her old PR was 4:47 and our goal for the race was 4:26.  Um...yeah.  3 minutes under.  Know what else?  She had a major negative split and her last mile was by far the fastest.  Meaning she could have gone way faster.

Her NYC marathon training starts next week.  I will divulge more of my plan once I've shared more of it with her.  But look out--she's going to rock NY!

Friday, June 24, 2011

My first triathlon!

Made you look.  If you know me, you know that I'm a running purist.  To the extreme.  I cannot fathom why my husband, or anyone else for that matter, would want to swim or ride a bike when they could be running.  Now, I have nothing against those sports.  I love to watching cycling, in fact.  But I do not enjoy participating in them.

Which is why, during my first triathlon, I'm only doing the run portion.  It's a "friendly" triathlon called the Jim-n-I.  I don't know the whole story behind it, but basically a bunch of Bedford triathletes meet in Sullivan, IN and swim in a lake, ride an obscene amount of miles, and run a 15K.  You can do all or some of it.  If you do any of it, you're considered a finisher.  I have no idea if the 15K will be fast like a real race, or more of a group run.  I'll do whatever.  If they're racing, I'll race.  I'm not very fast at the moment, but I love to race. There is also a lot of food.

Count me in.  Tim will be doing all three events.  I really wish I could run the whole time just to prove a point about how wonderful running is.  But the book "Born to Run" has kind of already alerted everyone to that fact, I doubt anyone would notice my demonstration, and I'd probably endure a great deal of suffering.

So there are lots of random things going on at the moment: the toenails are healing nicely, I got my new custom 3.0 Frees (the ones with the Free Run upper and the names of my children on the toe tags), I had a deep tissue massage on my legs that nearly KILLED me, and I'm still having some issues with eating/abdominal pain.  But not horrible.  I'm running 20 miles on Sunday.  And, at this point, it looks like I'll be solo again.  That's a shame, because the course is beautiful if a little hilly.

Amelia is now the owner of an iPad2 that she saved up for....and is the envy of her mother.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Toenail plucking.

Since I first began running, I've had toenail "issues."  So does my dad, so does my brother.  It's mostly our second toe (even though it's not longer), though all of mine are affected.  I've mostly ignored them or taken care of them myself by removing them with pliers. 

When I finished my run on Sunday (17 miles), I took off my shoes.  I immediately felt a pulse in my left second toe.  It continued to pulsate throughout the day.  I didn't realize how bad it was until Rowan came up to my feet and barely hit my toe.  It made me jump it hurt so badly.  So I sat down and finally looked at the thing.  Not only was it throbbing, but it was red, warm, and swollen.  The skin around the nail was extremely taut.  I couldn't stand for the sheet to touch it while I was lying in bed.

Monday, I called a podiatrist.  I saw him today.  I explained that I'm a runner, which didn't make him wince.  That was a good sign.  He deduced that I'm a toe runner and said that those two toenails were beyond repair in terms of them getting better on their own.  "The best option is to remove them and let them basically start over.  If they do the same thing when they grow back in, we'll do it again and kill the root so they'll never grow back."  Deal.  These two toenails bother me SO much.  I loved the prospect of them being GONE.

He announced that he'd numb up the toes and get on with the procedure.  I wasn't nervous at all about him numbing them.  After all, I've had those awful cortisone injections to the abdomen.  Well, these injections were exponentially worse.  Imagine a needle going into the base of your toe, being moved around in different directions, and a medication injected.  It was some of the most unpleasant pain I've ever felt.  And I've felt a lot.

Finally, they were numb.  He brought in some plier-looking things and got to work.  I was numb, but it was hard to watch what he was doing.  He hooked onto the nails and twisted and pulled.  It took some effort.  Just like that, the nails were gone.  Just flesh on the ends of those toes.  While I'm sore from the procedure, I must tell you that my toenails, especially the left one, feel SO much better.  Tomorrow I will run 11 miles sans those two toenails.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Long time, no post.

My apologies (or perhaps we ALL needed a break?), but I just needed a brief break from blogging.  Sometimes I prefer not to blog because putting it in writing (if it's something negative) makes me feel even worse.  But I also understand the great value in forcing myself to do so.

So, let me catch you up.  After I saw the oncologist (who cleared me of any cancer), my old abdominal pain began to surface on a low level--the very night after I saw the oncologist.  It was not nearly as severe as it had been, but it was odd that it had been totally gone and then began to return.  I felt it on my runs on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Again, not horrible...but there.  And I feel it at rest, too.

On Sunday, after my run, we had Amelia's birthday party.  I noticed, as I was getting ready for the party, that the pain was quite bad.  It was much worse than when on the run.  I tried to ignore it, but by the end of the party I could hardly stand it.  It was on the right side, just under my rib cage.  I finally sat down (I was trying to help clean up) and the pain then became unbearable.  I am not exaggerating when I say it was worse than natural child birth.  I immediately burst into tears and what happened after that is fuzzy.  I know that I started vomiting and Tim took me to the ER.  I couldn't make it to Bloomington due to the severity of the pain, so we went to Bedford ( IU Health Bedford).  All I could do was hold my side and tell them how much pain I was in.  I thought something was going to burst.  I honestly thought I might be dying.

It seemed like forever...but they got me to a room relatively quickly.  My nurse was wonderful.  I was puking all over the place, writhing in pain...and she stayed cool.  The doctor came in and started asking me all kinds of questions.  I was in so much pain I could hardly answer.  Finally the nurse asked if she could please give me some pain medicine.  He finally said yes.  That's all that was on my mind:  stop the pain, stop the pain, stop the pain.  She started an IV and gave me some Dilaudid--my first time ever having it IV.  I've administered a LOT of IV Dilaudid, so I knew it was good stuff..but wow, it is GOOD stuff.  My pain went from a 10/10 to a 1-2/10 in about 30 seconds.  At this point, I (and Tim and the nurse) was convinced it had to be my gallbladder--the severe pain, the nausea, vomiting, and the fact that it was in my right upper quadrant.

The doctor came in and told me that he thought it was an anxiety attack.  Really? Since when does anxiety HURT?  I told him that it was not.  Then he said that my pain was not typically where the gallbladder causes pain.  Again...REALLY?  I explained to him that I've had pain in that general area for 9+ months, but never this severe.  He then said:  "Oh, so it's a chronic problem."  I tried to explain that, yes, it is, but I've been doing to much better...and I've never had this pain.  At this point, my pain was even coming back some.  I had a CT scan and an X-ray, and when I got back she gave me another shot of Dilaudid.  And the doctor was still there.  "So this chronic pain, are you on pain medicine?"  I told him no.  "Maybe you should be."  I told him no, it's not that kind of pain and I have two kids and can't be on pain medicine.

"Does the pain interfere with your ability to do your job?"  I explained that I am able to do my job, but that I'm very uncomfortable all the time, or that I was when the pain was bad.  He didn't understand why I would even bring up the pain if I could still work.  Then he said it.  You probably know what's coming.  He said...."It's probably a muscle strain from your pregnancy."  I was outraged.  I pointed to Rowan, who was on Tim's lap, and said "He is 10 MONTHS OLD.  It is not a muscle strain!"  He again went on about how it doesn't really affect my life.  I burst into tears (Dilaudid will help that along) and explained that I'm a distance runner, my life has been greatly affected, and my quality of life is in the toilet.  He looked at me as though I had three eyes.  I tried to explain the concept of quality of life...but again it was lost on him.

My CT and x-ray were normal (as I knew they would be--always have been).  He explained this and told me to just follow up with my family doctor tomorrow.  I told him I'd fired my family doctor.  So he told me to follow up with my surgeon, whom he kept referring to as "he."  This infuriated me even further.  The mere fact that he was assuming the surgeon who helped me was a "he" made me livid.  I corrected him--countless times--but he never seemed to grasp that.  He went on and on and ON about how this was a chronic problem, likely psychological in nurse spoke up saying it wasn't, but he ignored her.  It was clear he wasn't going to help me beyond killing the pain (which he clearly didn't believe existed)...and that's all I really needed from him.  He kept talking, but I stopped listening.  I just kept saying "Okay."  Finally, he left.

I was given one more dose of Dilaudid before leaving.  My pain was much better, but I remained nauseated and was vomiting when I got home.  I went promptly to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling VERY hungover.  And my "old" pain was back.  Just the constant ache in my side.  I was a loss.

What happened?  The "attack" I had after Amelia's party is something new.  But the dull ache in my side is not.  When I saw the oncologist, he and the med student both examined my abdomen by pressing on it...and since then I've had some it possible that just that mechanical movement got the peritoneum all inflamed again?  I don't know.  And I don't even know if the attack (which seems pretty classic gallbladder) has anything to do with the other pain.  I just know that, once again, I need help.

I'm seeing Dr. Jones next week (she is on vacation).  So far, I've been eating mostly clear liquids, and the pain has been much better.  I had a very good run on Tuesday (10 miles with little to no pain)...except that I'm weak from not eating. much as I hate to type this...I'm still dealing with something.  I don't know what it is, but I'm desperate for it to please go away.  I don't enjoy the pain, nor do I enjoy existing on broth and gummy bears.

In other news...Amelia did have a great party.  And I had a great job interview today.  So many things are going well...I just want to feel like my old self for a sustained amount of time.  I write this next sentence more for myself than anyone else:  I refuse to give up until I feel normal.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Can they get ANYTHING right?

That's what I'm asking myself right now.  You'll soon understand why.  However, despite my utter confusion and, to be honest, anger, I am delighted to report on the outcome of my visit with Dr. Wiebke.

Mom, Tim, and I headed up this morning to Indy.  Emily was good enough to stay with Rowan and Amelia so they didn't have to go.  That was more for my sake than theirs.  We were all pretty somber on the way up.  I'm not sure anyone is ever chipper on the way to an oncology consultation, but we weren't overtly upset either.  When we got there, we walked into the Simon Cancer Center--it's one of the best in the nation.  I took comfort knowing that, even if what I had was really, really bad, I was going to be in good hands.

Now, a brief review.  Why was I seeing Dr. Wiebke in the first place?  In my initial surgery, Dr. Jones biopsied several of the "implants" throughout my peritoneum.  The biopsies revealed infection-looking type stuff, but also something called mucin.  Mucin implants are associated with cancers of the appendix and the ovaries.  Sometimes they appear benign, but mucin implants, I have learned, are very, very bad and, at some point or another, lethal.  Very few oncologists are trained to deal with these.  Dr. Wiebke is, and so I was sent to see him.

The past couple of weeks waiting to get in have been agony for me and my family.  Amelia's had no idea what's going on, but I'm sure she's picked up on something.  At first, I Googled incessantly.  Then I decided it was best if I didn't read about the 90% mortality rate often associated with this disorder.  Last week, my mom told me she'd been praying about it.  She went on to say:  "Wendy, I'm just praying that that pathology report was wrong and that you don't have this."  I said to her:  "Mom, of course it's not wrong.  Don't hinge your hope on something that is in black and white.  It won't change."

So we've all been silently worrying, stirring, and waiting impatiently to see Dr. Wiebke.  Finally we were there.  I signed in and sat down.  Around me, there were sick people waiting.  Really sick people.  A young girl waiting to be seen...she was wearing a mask.  Likely because she's undergoing chemotherapy.  A woman in front of me had a feeding tube.  She was maybe 40.  That's when I began to freak out.  I know, to some degree since I'm a nurse, what these people go through.  I didn't want to go through and, more importantly, I didn't want to drag my family through it.  I wanted to dart out the door and just pretend none of this was happening.

I was called back and briefly interviewed by a nurse.  Then there was a knock on the door.  I expected Dr. Wiebke, but it was a med student named Josh.  He looked 12.  He had come in to take my history, but it became clear that he just wanted a piece of this hard-to-solve-medical-mystery-action.  The first thing he said, after introducing himself, was "Has Dr. Wiebke talked to you yet?  About what we saw on the pathology slides they sent over?"  We all responded with a no and I began to cringe in anticipation of what he was going to say.

Josh, a 4th year medical student, somewhat inarticulately explained that they believed the initial pathology report had been incorrect.  He mumbled something about no mucin being seen, maybe some endometriosis.  Well, you can imagine our reaction.  WHAT?  It was could it be wrong?  He explained that the pathologists at IU had reviewed it and did not see any mucinous cells, though they did see the remnants of infection and inflammation.

We didn't know what to say.  We bombarded the poor medical student with questions.  Then I stopped and said "Okay.  We need to wait for Dr. Wiebke.  Josh has no power here."  And what I meant by that was, as a medical student, he had no authority to tell us anything.  He always had to defer to Dr. Wiebke.  So he interviewed me about all of my symptoms.  He asked me more than anyone has.  He got the full story over about a half hour.  I think he was interested in this because of the weird nature of my story.

He looked at the pictures and explained how sensitive the peritoneum is (dude, you're telling ME!).  Then he got Dr. Wiebke.

A very tall man, Dr. Wiebke was all smiles:  "Hello, Millers!  I've got very good news!  There's no mucin!"  He could sense our confusion (mixed with joy, relief, and, in my case, anger).  He said "Now, you have to choose which to believe--the first pathologists, or our pathologists."  He explained that two pathologists there independently reviewed the specimens (neither of them having read the report from the other hospital or from each other) and came up with, more or less, the same diagnosis.  The important part of both of their findings was that neither of them saw ANY mucin cells.  None.  At all.

We, and especially my mom, were still not convinced.  It must have sounded as though we wanted the original report to be correct.  We didn't, but the thought of it being and me not being treated was going through all our minds.  Especially given the experiences we've had with doctors that past 9 months--they've always been wrong!  Mom kept asking "Are you sure?  Are you sure?"  Dr. Wiebke pulled up the pictures from my surgery.  He said that those implants, though ugly, were not mucin.  He's seen mucin.  That ain't it.

He had to continue to reassure us (especially my mom), and gradually, over a period of 10-15 minutes, it began to sink in.  I'm not going to die (from this, at least).  I hadn't been very public about it, but I had had communications with Dr. Wiebke and he made it seem like my prognosis was likely going to be grim (of course, he was basing that opinion on pathology he presumed was correctly examined).  I was devastated, as was my family.  I had not even shared with them how bad I thought it was going to be.  And now we're being told the biopsies were wrong.  WRONG.  My mom had been praying for it and I told her it was impossible.  And it happened.

It was the LAST thing I expected to hear.  Even further from anything I ever envisioned was the three of us, leaving there in astonishment, smiling, and trying to decide where to eat lunch.   I had known we were going to leave in tears, with surgery dates and a poor prognosis.  But my mom's prayer was answered.  It appears that what happened to me WAS the infection after all (as Dr. Jones had suspected).  We have to continue to monitor it, but I'm pretty confident I'm going to keep getting better and better.

We are all, of course, quite happy with the news.  Though this process has borne (in the form of me) a skeptic:  Did they send over the right slides?  Maybe they sent someone else's.  Did something happen to the biopsies over time so that they degenerated?  It could go on and on.  Dr. Wiebke assured me that what I have looks nothing like anything life-threatening.  I am, for once, putting my trust in what a doctor has said.

I am both elated and extraordinarily angry about what has happened here.  On one hand, I know that I don't have a life-threatening disease that requires major surgery.  On the other, I'm royally pissed.  My family and I have been through Hell in back the last month.  I could a pathologist get it wrong?  And how often does this happen?  I had silently mocked my mother for praying that the pathology results would be wrong--in my mind it was an impossibility.  But they were.

It's not a common practice to re-run pathology.  It's something Dr. Wiebke likes to do to make sure he knows exactly what he's dealing with.  Had he not...what would have happened?  We would have gone ahead with surgery?  Chemotherapy?  For no reason.  I know that the pathologist was not being malicious, and I'm willing to bet that what happened was he read someone else's sample as mine and mine as someone else's...which means that someone may be walking around (unknowingly) with mucin implants.  It was a medical error or some sort.  And anyone who knows anything about the Institute of Medicine knows about the massive report they put out in 1999 regarding patient safety.  Medical errors are the number one cause of compromised patient safety.  And the bigger part is that it is estimated that over half of them are never even reported.

It seemed to me that Dr. Wiebke's office was not going to contact the previous pathology lab about their mistake.  They said they'd just send them the slides back.  Are you kidding me?  I'm calling that original lab, as well as Dr. Jones' office, to let them know that this mistake was made.  There is obviously a systems issue at work here...and it needs to be fixed.  And fast.

This has been a very trying, frustrating, emotional, and illuminating experience for me (and my family).  I hope that it is over for us.  But for all the other people in the midst of their own hellish journeys, or those who will begin to embark on them, I have one closing statement.  It is forward.  It is rash.  But it is descriptive.  The United States Healthcare system, and specifically the physicians who operate in that system, need to get their shit together.  Now.  As a nurse researcher, unlike med student Josh, I do have some power.  Not the kind of power he's striving for.   But I'm equipped to research people's experiences, what led to them and, hopefully, figure out how to fix them.  I'm going for a run.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Slow 5.

As in, really slow.  My hip flexor is much more aggravated by speed than miles.  Penny told me I could run 5 miles today.  I can't believe how excited I was over a measly little 5 miles.  But I was.

It was warm and muggy, but also raining lightly...which made the weather quite pleasant.  I consciously held myself back and ran around a 9:00 minute pace the entire time.  The hip held up pretty well--I did "feel" it during the last mile, but nothing sharp.  It's coming along, but it's still healing.  We'll see what Penny says tomorrow, but I'm hoping to run 30 miles this week and hopefully get on track for Chicago training.

But it probably won't matter anyway, as I see Dr. Wiebke this week and he's likely going to tell me I need more surgery.  Until then, though, I'm just going along as planned.  I had no abdominal pain during the run, but I did have the shoulder pain. The shoulder pain seems to be getting worse.  It wakes me up sometimes, and it's horrible when I get hiccups.  Something is up with my diaphragm.

Even though I can't run much right now, my...what should I call her...student?...Sara Jane is running well and heading into taper for Grandma's in two weeks.   Today she ran a marathon relay.  Her portion was around 5 miles.  She asked me how she should run it.  I had told her she should race it, but what pace did I think she could hold?  Well, she's on tired legs.  She's at her peak mileage for the marathon, so I thought we should be a little conservative with the pace.  I used the McMillan calculator and figured she should be able to hold around a 9:15 pace.  Well, she blew that away and averaged under 8:30.  And it wasn't that hard for her.  She has mad's just that she lacks endurance.  I was blown away by her time today, as I've worked her hard these last few weeks.  Like...really hard.  Now it's time for her to rest and explode on race day.

I am enjoying this coaching thing so much.  Mostly because I really like/care about Sara.  And it's so fun to see her improve and reach her potential.  A few training cycles focused on her endurance...and look out, she's going to kill it.

In other news, Tim has a half marathon next Saturday.  He has had a VERY long training cycle.  He's run an obscene amount of 20s (including the marathon with me), done a lot of speed work, and been riding his bike a ton.  He's set for a major PR.  He's like...SUPER fit.  And then there's me :)  Ah, well, I'm excited for him to have a great race.  Expect great things from him next Saturday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Up your miles."

That's what Penny said today after she did more Graston.  Now, she didn't lengthen the leash much--I got to do 4 miles today.  I had just a little bit of hip pain at the end, but otherwise my hip is much, much better.  I feel VERY out of shape, though.  Ah, well.  At least I can change that.

I had shoulder pain while I ran, but no abdominal pain.  I can't wait to see Dr. Wiebke.

We had dinner guests this evening--Isaac (my cousin) and Tatiana Ritter and their kids Evan and Gwen.  They are both just getting into running and it was really fun to talk to them about schedules, injuries, etc.  I even got Tatiana under the robot!  She made a FABULOUS cake that Tim and I are going to be eating for a while.

Not much other news.  Oh, wait...I did yoga today.  I haven't done it in a LONG time.  It muscles are so, so tight.  I have to work on that.

For whatever reason, I'm uncharacteristically pithy this evening.  All I can say is...enjoy it while it lasts.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


She's my new physical therapist.  I'd actually met her before, as the pain management center sent me to her to set me up with a TENS unit...the 8-electrode one.  She never could find one.  Anyway, she recognized me and I recognized her. 

She asked me a lot of questions, then did a VERY thorough physical assessment.  She and Dr. Kaeser are the only two to put me through such an assessment.  I've been to PT over and over for injuries...and they just Graston me and send me on my way.  Not Penny.  She was determined to find any type of underlying issue so we could target it.  My right hip is externally rotated, so we worked on that.

She measured the angles of my heel and knee flexion.  I knew those were going to be dismal.  She looked at the number and said:  "Are you actually trying?"  I was.  I am so inflexible.  They were BAAAAD.  She asked me if I stretched regularly.  No point lying to her.  Now, I do roll my IT bands daily, and I use the robot on certain sore spots, but as far as a stretching, no.  I'm a Trueblood.  We don't stretch.  And it shows.  Want to see inflexible?  Ask my dad to bend over and touch his toes.  You'd think he had a steel rod in him that kept him from bending.  And I'm not much better.  I have to be better, as Penny is convinced that this unbelievable tightness is a major culprit for my long history of injuries.  I told her about my robot, and she said I need to use it on calves/hamstrings daily, if not twice a day.

So I am.  And I have an exercise to do to help my hip rotate correctly.  It's not hard, and it actually works (makes my legs the same length).  She determined that it is my pain is indicative of iliopsoas strain/tendonitis.  Then she did the Graston.  She had a Graston tool I've never seen.  It had a pointy end. Wow.  That's all I have to say.

Then she said something I didn't expect.  "Now, you know, with tendonitis it's best to run on it some to keep it warmed up."  Yes!  I knew that!  That's how I've always dealt with tendonitis!  "Oh?" I said.  "Yes.  But just a couple of miles.  You can't run to the point of pain."  "Okay."  "But you scare me," she said.  "I think you would run yourself into the ground if you could keep from getting injured?"  Silently I thought, well, wouldn't everyone?  Then she said "I'm afraid you'll break the rules."  I swore to her I wouldn't, and I won't.  I just want them to tell me what to do.  So she said for me to run 2 miles every other day this week instead of completely resting.  It's not much, but it's something.  She reminded me again that I HAD to stop at 2 miles no matter how good I felt, and that I had to stop if it got painful.  I'm supposed to do my hip rotation exercise immediately before and after running.

So, with Tim, I ran 2 miles.  I'm out of shape(ish), but NO hip pain.  Not even a twinge.  I like Penny, and I see her again on Friday.  One thing not so good about this run...I had the all-too-familiar shoulder pain and a touch of abdominal pain.  I'm assuming that the stuff she removed is already starting to grow back.  Ugh.

And I still haven't been able to get an appointment with Dr. Wiebke.  We even paged the surgeon since we can't get the nurse to call us back.  I don't know what to do, but I'm sick and I need HELP.  If I hear nothing by morning, my mom is taking over.  And they will be very sorry when they have to start dealing with her.

Other news...Amelia's officially a 4th grader!  Hard to believe, and a little sad.