Sunday, February 16, 2014

Starting Now

I still need to update the official times on my Race Reports page, but since my last post in August, I accomplished my goal of running my first 10K, and then did another one shortly afterward. Yay! Initially, it was scary to think about going a distance that I had never felt before, but the more I kept pushing, the more I knew that I could do it. After running my second 10K, I started to love the challenge even more, and in November, I got the crazy idea to register for my first half marathon that will be taking place in June. I felt nervous at the prospect of doing 13.1 miles, but considering how I had worked my way up from doing no running at all, to 5Ks and then 10Ks, it definitely seemed doable.

And then February 3 came.

On that day, I was diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism: blood clots in my right calf and right lung. Initially, the intense pain in my calf was misdiagnosed as a cyst by a doctor at another hospital that I visited, but no matter what I did, the pain didn't go away, so I went elsewhere to get a second opinion. 

Over the past two weeks, I've been either in the hospital or at my doctor's office about 8 or 9 times --- I've lost count, but I know it's a lot. Everyone keeps telling me how fortunate I am to still be alive, which is true, considering how undiagnosed blood clots can almost certainly lead to death. However, what I'm struggling with now is the slow recovery process, to not only get back to where I was pre-clots, but to also get my body ready for my half marathon in June.

I know that blood clots can result in different experiences for each individual, but for me, here's what it's been like: Twice a day, I have to give myself an injection in the stomach, as one part of my blood thinning regimen. Then in the evening, I take a pill that also works to help prevent future clots from forming. 

Since this medication has an effect on all of the blood in my body, and not just the clots, the biggest side effect that I'm learning how to deal with is fatigue. No matter what I'm doing, I am tired all the time. Even something as simple as standing up to do dishes for 10 minutes requires me to sit down and take a breather before going onto anything more strenuous, like say, sorting my laundry. It's such a bizarre feeling to get used to because mentally, I feel that I should still be able to do everything that I could do before, but physically, my body knows that it needs to take its time to do things much more slowly. This is partially because of the medication, but mostly due to the fact that with a clot in my lung, it's taking a little bit longer for blood and oxygen to be delivered there.

I asked my doctor about when I would be able to exercise again, and he told me that I can do whatever I want, just as long as I pace myself and listen to what my body is telling me that it can handle. So yesterday, I went to my CrossFit gym's open gym hours to start with some simple body weight exercises. It was the first time I'd worked out since the beginning of the month, and it was tough. I found myself having to sit down and drink water after even just 5 reps of a movement, and after only one hour of working out, I was so exhausted that I napped for about 3 hours when I got home! I'm still feeling the effects of it today, since my head starts to hurt and throb whenever I stand up.

So here's where I am now. I know I spent a lot of time in this post writing about what I can't do, but the reason I wrote it is so that over time, I can look back on this and track my progress towards all of the things that I can do. On June 14, I will be running my first half marathon. That was my goal when I signed up for the race in November, and it's still my goal now, even more than before. I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and patience to get to where I need to be, but all I can do is take things one day at a time, starting now.

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