Well, What Are Ya Gonna Do?

My dogs look at me with distain every time I walk out the door without them. The huge (almost) floor to ceiling living room window frames them as they stare me down. It’s so pathetic, and while I love the living crap out of them, when they do this, I just think they are assholes. Trust me, they get lot’s of love, and lot’s of exercise.

This week, my workout gear, bike, and running shoes are harassing me even more than my dogs. There are 3 bikes in my house and every time I pass one, it hisses at me. My Cervelo may never speak to me again. I don’t even charge my Garmin anymore!

On Monday, June 27th, I had Endoscopic Sinus Surgery  and a Septoplasty. After years of of debilitating sinus issues, and way too many round of antibiotics, I sought expert help to find a solution. It was only a few weeks ago that I got word that my septum was deviated, and my sinuses were anatomically deficient. Well ain’t life grand?

After the diagnosis, and consultation, I decided on the recommended surgery, but because of my Ironman Arizona training schedule, I either had to do it NOW, or wait until after November. Luckily, there was an opening and I grabbed it. Now, I may seem like a badass and all, but the idea of surgery up my schnoz, close to my BRAIN, didn’t give me giggles. At my pre-op consultation 3 days before the procedure, my doctor asked me if I was ready. “No. I will NEVER be ready.” was my answer. He cocked his head, a little surprised, and asked, “What will it take for you to be ready?” My exact answer was, “I will only show up if you can guarantee me that the minute I am admitted, they will hook me up to an IV, and give me some kind of happy juice.” He laughed, and said he would make sure.

Not exactly an Ironman bracelet

Not exactly an Ironman bracelet

LIAR!!!! I checked into the hospital at the scheduled time, and after an hour delay, which I spent chewing off and spitting every fingernail , I was finally called in. They tell you not to wear lotion or deodorant before surgery. They may have regretted those instructions, once I polluted their sanitized air with my anxiety sweat stink.

My legs were shaking so hard, I had to hold them down.

My legs were shaking so hard, I had to hold them down.

I asked the nurse for my cocktail, and she looked at me like I belonged in the Psyche Ward. When she said there was no order for a sedative, I began shaking, screamed profanities, threw rubber gloves at her, and kicked the intern in the head. “PAGE DR SMITH NOW.” I took my gown and wrapped it around my head, climbed up on top of the computer table, and threatened to hang myself until they produced and anesthesiologist!

The page was sent, and my nurse, who undoubtedly had years of experience was so unsettled by my unearthly transformation, that she couldn’t get the IV in my arm, despite two tries. THAT’S TWO TRIES. Poking and twisting around inside my arm, while I held my non-sedated breath and called upon all that is holy to calm me down. I finally threw my shoes at her and bellowed, “I HAVE AN ANXIETY DISORDER!” She promptly left the room and sent in an older male nurse who most likely served on the front lines under General Patton. This guy zero’d in on my feral eyes, grabbed my other arm and said, “How about this arm?” With my best Lagertha Lothbrok stare, I told him, “Get it done.” Fearing for his life, he shoved that needle into the back of my hand, set the IV, and disappeared in seconds. A third attendee arrived and pushed the sweet “Mother’s Milk” into the tubing, and finally, the puffy, soft clouds and winged fairies floated into the room.

Who doesn't like a nifty accessory?

Who doesn’t like a nifty accessory?

The surgery went according to plan, and within a few hours, I was home, babbling non stop about everything and nothing, (a side effect of general anesthesia) and my darling friend Lauren settled me in and quietly escaped. I was so hopped up on whatever the hell they gave me, that I wandered around the house for several hours, slowly picking up stuff, doing laundry, and cleaning the bathrooms. Mind you, I was supposed to go to bed right away. Yeah, sure, like that was going to happen.

The first few nights I “slept” on the couch. There really wasn’t much sleep involved, because my head was so stuffed up, I couldn’t breathe through my nose.

I had the best nurses to tuck me in for naps

I had the best nurses to tuck me in for naps

I discovered this the day after surgery, when I took a shower.

A parting gift! I discovered this the day after surgery, when I took a shower.

Post op instructions called for complete rest for a few days, no lifting, or exertion for 7, and no working out at all for at least 14 days. Here’s how it went:

Day 1: Cleaned house, did yard work. (VERY slowly, mind you, with no bending over!)

Day 2: Met clients and gave keys to their new house. Went shopping at 4 different discount stores, and Home Depot, to buy stuff for the back yard and garden. Napped.

Day 3: More shopping, a walk, several hours working in the back yard. Showered with the dogs. Stopped in at the running store’s Thursday night beer run, to support the cause. Napped.

Day 4: A 2 mile walk to my office with the dogs, an hour or so of work, and another 2 mile walk home.

I have no pain, only discomfort. I’m not allowed to blow my nose and sneezing has taken on a whole new meaning. I am keeping my heart rate down as best as I can, and following the antibiotic and sinus rinse prescription. I refused to take the Prednisone they gave me, so that was a waste of money.

The fact that I am only on day 4 of a 14 day work out restriction gives me cause to panic. I am seriously not cut out for the sedentary life. When the Hell did that happen? My mind has the energy of a 10 year old with hypertension, and my body needs the rest, or at least a short nap. I crave a run in the forest.

For now, I have to feed the beast with small household projects and blogging. Well, rehabbing from an injury is why I started this blog, back in 2013. I guess this is just one more episode of life getting in the way. If you see me around town this next week, with wild eyes, and bad hair, clenching my teeth, you’ll know I am once again, runninginmuck!

I love that you chose to visit here and read my posts. I hope you can tell the difference between truth and fiction. HA!

What a Panic

Do you remember as a kid saying things like, “That was a panic!” Or, “What a panic!” when you and your friends had a crazy, fun, spaztastic time? I’m talking about those times when you laughed so hard, snot came out your nose, and maybe you accidentally peed your pants?  I’m not sure of the origin of this expression, and I don’t recall how old I was when I stopped using it. It came to mind recently, though, for reasons that weren’t too funny.

If you are familiar with my blog, you know that I started writing when I was rehabbing from a nasty foot injury, caused by (ignorantly) overtraining for my first marathon. (Read about that here.) You would have learned about my  injuries, diseases, allergies, asthma, and other obstacles that I regularly deal with in my life and in my athletic training.  I have dedicated countless hours to learning how to overcome these challenges, by  studying the science of exercise, nutrition, training, hypnosis, and meditation, all in an effort to not only help MYSELF, but to arm myself with the tools I needed to coach others in the running and triathlon community.

Very proud to have earned this certification

Very proud to have earned this certification

Lots of my friends and fans believe I have it all together. Flattering, but come on,  do you really believe that anybody  has it ALL together? No way; some of us simply master the skills of making it look that way.

Training for any athletic competition takes dedication, time, discipline, and perseverance. Throw obstacles in the way, and there are ALWAYS obstacles, and the athlete has to find a way to overcome them. For me, the three main obstacles I am faced  with  are: allergies, asthma, and blisters on my right foot. OK, no biggie- there are things I can use to treat these, right? Well, not so simple. Regular use of most allergy medicines has been linked to early onset Dementia and Alzheimers. Flonase is linked to Cataracts- and I have the start of one in my left eye from long term use! Blisters? Well, I continue to try just about everything out there….

During my Ironman training in 2015, I suffered from severe seasonal allergy symptoms, which put a serious strain on my running training. I found myself getting asthma attacks while training out doors all Spring and into mid Summer. I’m talking stop-in-my-tracks-bent-over-gasping-for-air-to-the-point-of-almost-passing-out attacks. Consequently, my long distance running abilities suffered. After long training bike rides, I would often end up with my eyes swollen , red, and itchy, and three times wound up with sinus infections.  (That’s another story that is unfolding as we speak)

Bound and determined NOT to suffer the same ill fated training season this year, I decided to get a complete physical, and bring my entire list of complaints to my doctor and see what she recommended.  While I do have allergies, and exercise induced asthma, it turns out that the biggest surprise diagnosis is PANIC ATTACKS. What? Yeah, those ATTACKS I kept having where I start wheezing, gasping for air,  getting hysterical, and nearly fainting? Panic attacks. They start out like asthma symptoms, but quickly morph into the most terrifying, heart palpitating, can’t breath, throat closed, “fear of imminent death” panic attacks. I can’t describe the absolute all encompassing primal terror that I experience during these attacks. They can last for minutes or hours, and the severity of them can bring me to my knees. Both my boyfriend and my coach have witnessed the episodes, while we ran together, and now we know what is actually happening.

I have had these attacks a few times in my past. I remember having one  on an airplane flying home from China. It was like the plane was closing in and suffocating me, and I was completely helpless to survive another minute. I hyperventilated, and death-gripped the  tray table in front of me, all the while struggling to suppress a guttural scream. Another time was in an elevator in Denver,  and a few times while driving in Portland. The driving one’s prompted me to seek medical attention immediately, fearing I was having a heart attack. BUT, these were all years ago and so much in my life has  changed since then. I am healthier, happier, and stronger. So what the heck???

This past weekend, it happened again, and it came out of nowhere, at a time that I never would have guessed. It started in the swim portion of the Pine Hollow Triathlon, after warming up for several minutes in the crystal clear, comfortable water, in the most peaceful, serene setting.

Pine Valley

I started swimming competitively in Kindergarten. In open water in the Long Island Sound. With jelly fish, and seaweed. I am not afraid of swimming in open water, like many people. So, after my first few strokes that morning, when I started hyperventilating, and wheezing, I was caught completely off guard. The intense panic set in suddenly, and in less than a minute after the start, I rolled over onto my back, and briefly thought about quitting. I was terrified, gasping for air, and confused-desperate, more like, and frantically tried to find relief. I did a few breast strokes to try and keep myself afloat, and summoned every ounce of my will to move forward and continue the swim. I know how to swim; I know how to make myself relax in the water. I know ALL the tricks. Nothing worked. I swam, trying to breath every stroke, all the while fearing that I couldn’t get enough air. I sighted the red buoy that marked the turn around point, and it never seemed to get any closer. I felt my wetsuit crushing my neck, my chest, and my shoulders. The breaths I took sounded like screams. I prayed that it would end. 850 yards. Just under 16 minutes. No relief. When I exited the water, I was dizzy from hyperventilating, and in an agitated state. I don’t remember much of the run-or walk, I should say, to my bike. I got out of the wetsuit, got my shoes, glasses and helmet on, and took off. The bike course was hilly and I never caught my breath. This  aepisode lasted until the 9th mile, when it fizzled. The rest of the race was more brutal because it was 91 degrees with no shade, and the 4 mile run, was on a technical trail with lots of gravel, steep hills, downed trees to climb over, and my body was spent. Here’s the funny part. In all my hysteria, I managed to be the 2nd overall female finisher, and 1st in my age group.

2nd place finisher

2nd place finisher

There you go. I couldn’t believe it.

SO! I am learning to identify the warning signs. I have started to take proactive actions when my body starts spiraling. I now have medication for the times when it comes on suddenly, and I need the help. Thankfully, I do NOT need daily medication, as many people with anxiety disorders require. (Been there, done that, thank you very much) I also have a new app on my phone called Calm that reminds me every day when to meditate, and guides me through a 5-10 minute relaxing meditation.

Strangely enough, I am more excited about this diagnosis, that you would think. Up until now, I thought that I was powerless to the negative effects my seasonal allergies had on me, and doubted the benefit of my Albuterol Inhaler. I felt doomed to suffer and fight through every Spring and Summer. Now, however, I know there is something I can do to fight this thing and hopefully become equipped to defeat it! I am not powerless to this challenge anymore! This past weekend gave me the chance to test it, and once again, I was able to power through.

IF you suffer from anxiety disorders, please get help. Talk to your doctor. Meditate. Do yoga. Equip yourself with tools to get you through it.  I have a lot to learn, and hope to beat this.

finished