It feels like ages since I last wrote. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. About two weeks ago, I woke up in so much pain … I can’t really describe it. 9 on a scale of 10 maybe? I remember wanting to die. I remember lying in bed and looking up at the photos of my daughter when she was a baby and thinking that she’s old enough now that she would understand my wish to die. I thought that if I had to endure this kind of debilitation again … well, I thought that I couldn’t endure anymore. This was far worse than it has been and seems to have bumped up to twice a month (it had been once a month for a week for the last few years). I never wished to die before.
It’s more than just the pain. It’s like someone high-jacked my brain. I know it seems weird, but the hormones that are produced during one of these flare up makes even the most extreme PMS feel mild. I felt like I was mentally ill. I asked my friend Anne and my daughter repeatedly if I was acting “normal”. They didn’t see any difference, only that they could see the pain in my eyes. But I wasn’t myself. I didn’t care anymore. About anything. Work, a future, finding love, my goals, my hopes and dreams for my child, getting paid … I didn’t care. That scared me. I was high-jacked and if something didn’t change I was certain, in a short period of time, that I would be pushing a shopping cart up and down Wilshire Boulevard, filled with empty water bottles from races, hair long and wild covered by a tattered Ironman New Zealand beanie keeping it tame, bright red lipstick painted on like clown lips … cuz we know crazy people cannot apply make-up with precision … and I’d yell in the face of strangers, “I coulda won Ironman …. ahhhhg … I shoulda won Ironman … Bastards!”
After two days of being silent, I called Anne. She brought me eggs and Claritin D, that Saturday (and some food to feed my kid), and assured me that I wasn’t mentally ill and made me promise that I would go to the doctor’s. My daughter gave me 5 Advil and a cup of coffee and made French toast with cinnamon and made me swear that I would go to the doctor’s. Between the Claritin, the Advil, the piece of French toast and coffee, I managed to get it together enough for a walk.
Sunday was a bit better and I managed to get out for a short run … Advil and endorphins – a magical combo!!
That Monday I called the doctor’s and they were closed for President’s Day. So I went the alternative route … acupuncture. Two hours and 30+ needles later, I went home feeling delicate. I walked gingerly and pretty much got into bed and didn’t move when I got home.
The next day, I was in the pool at 5:30 am, had a great swim. Did the mom thing: breakfast, lunch, drive the kid to school, try some early morning humor to help with teenage early-morning mood and then worked from 7:30 am – 3 pm. Did more mom stuff … worked some more until 9ish at night. Did the same thing on Wednesday, except I rode for an hour and a half instead of swimming. Thursday was another repeat. Friday too. And I no longer felt mentally ill. The acupuncture doctor told me that mentally ill people don’t know they're mentally ill and that I was suffering from two things: the mental effects of chronic pain and the hormone imbalance associated with a flare-up. YAY! I was cured.
Saturday, I went running with my daughter and her boyfriend. Ok, so they jogged past me pretty early on and I watched as they slowly pulled away and lovingly nudged each other every few feet; I’m used to that now – their youthful speed and their public displays of affection (yes, they received the 'I trust you, but I don't trust your hormones' talk - they are very caring and cuddly and, I have to say, quite cute together). But I didn’t have to stop and stretch every few minutes or walk for OVER ONE and a HALF HOURS!!!! It’s been years since I was able to do that. And Sunday? I rode for 2.5+ hours and averaged 17 mph on the rolling hills of PCH out to Malibu and yes, I was trying to keep up with Pete … at first. But really, I was just so excited to go that fast, have the endurance to go that long and feel that STRONG. It felt “normal” to me. Faster, longer, stronger.
Wow. WOW. WOW!!
I went back to acupuncture this last Monday feeling like a million bucks. Less needles this time, but still had to rest that day. Tuesday’s alarm went off at 5am and I couldn’t move. I was shaking with pain. BUT I WASN'T MENTALLY ILL! Ok, you laugh … but until your brain has been high-jacked you’ll never fully understand. It is kinda funny, when I look back on it from a two week perspective ☺ Who asks their friends and family if they seem deranged? And who says, "yes, you seem deranged, sweetie. Go lie down while we get out your white jacket," to someone who just asked if they seemed mental? Of course they're going to say, "no," while slowly backing out of the room dialing 911!
It’s Friday and I’ve had to take 4 days off from training. But I’m not fatigued or feel like I’m without hope. And the pain has been manageable enough to work my three jobs (coaching, business consulting and the thing with the guy) and be a mom and a friend and a daughter. Maybe I rode too hard. Maybe it was my allergies – I ran out of Claritin D. Who knows?!
What I do know is that the pain is endurable when not coupled by thoughts of giving up. And that the acupuncture is helping even if I have set-backs. And that listening to your coach makes good sense … don’t over do it. As a coach, I would have had me train differently. But we all know that I am an outstanding coach to everyone but myself. It's hard to coach oneself. I am trying to get better at it. I am getting better.