Saturday, June 27, 2015

21 days Post Spinal Fusion L4-S1

So today is 21 days post surgery.....I hate to even type how things are going in fear of jinxing the recovery process. After the double Laminectomy I felt great immediately upon waking with the nerve pain gone but felt some left hip pains that were pretty sharp. I walked and did the EFX and some stationary biking during the recovery and had a total amount of stepping miles of 146 for the month of March.  In january I had a step count of only 126 miles and that included 3 marathons and a 5K so you can tell how debilitated I became.
In April my step mileage count was 137 miles...when I did stationary biking it doesnt register as steps so I did have some other forms of exercise as well. It was in April 6 weeks after the first procedure when the nerve pain returned but to the opposite side....nothing as severe as before but would have advanced to that over some time. Knowing I would be having surgery on June 6th during the month of May I pushed myself to walk and hike and get myself nice and strong in hopes that it would be an advantage in recovering. I walked and hikes 161 miles during the month of May.
Surgery was June 6th and 3 days prior I went and walked a half marathon in northern ohio so that I could be surrounded by my running family and have a little bit of mental therapy before the big day. I was incarcerate from Thursday the 6th and was released Sunday the 9th.  The first evening was the worse where I didn't even have the strength to move my body...actually all 4 days were horrifying but each day did get a little easier. By saturday the 8th I was walking around the floor of the hospital 3 times and did that 3 times during that day. I never pushed and one time I cut it short and did only half a loop because I was tired.  When I got home it was still tough getting up and down but I have always felt better when I moved rather then the pain from sitting or laying on the incision area and then the initial movement causes some pain as well. After I was home for a couple days I began some short walks outside. They started with a couple .25 mile 3 times a day and they rapidly increased each day...again I have not once pushed myself...I have paid close attention to how I feel and if I would get the slightest feeling of discomfort I immediately turn around and head for home.  It was day 11 and I was out walking and things just felt so good that instead of turning where I had been for a 1.50 mile total walk I just kept going...nice and slow. I ended up going 3.2 miles. I was concerned and called the doctors office to see if this was bad even though I wasn't pushing at all. The nurse said to listen to my body and that was a lot for someone that isn't even quite 2 weeks out and to absolutely not do anything else but walk...No bend lift or twist and no other forms of exercise.  The next afternoon and evening I had more of the hip sharp pains that I had been having so I decided to back down to my 1.5 mile distances for the rest of that week. I still went and did a walk every couple hours but just kept them shorter in distance. By Saturday I was feeling ok so started to bump them back up again and I could feel my pace getting a little faster....still I AM NOT PUSHING myself.  This week now I have been averaging about 15,000 steps a day,,,Tuesday thru today I have been doing in excess of 7 miles each day...with the longest walk being the 3.2 mile route when I wake up and then I follow it with distances that range from 1.5-2 miles a couple more times during the day. I can say today my hip pain is starting to disappear. I still have incision pain when I sit back or lay down on it but I feel the best when I am moving and walking.  My pace is getting much faster too. I managed this mornings 3.2 in about 50 minutes but I wasn't going for speed just walking comfortably. I also stopped during this 50 minutes and talked to some people I say.
I have no intentions of trying to run or jog until the doctor tells me I can. I know the titanium has to heal in there and make my spine strong again so jarring things could really mess things up....but the way I am feeling I believe some speed walking and some longer distances will be there much sooner then I ever dreamed! I think running will be there much sooner then I ever dreamed but I would guess its going to be still at least 4 or so months out...but thats a lot better then 1-2 years as suggested before the surgery!!
My first follow up will be this Tuesday and I believe he will X-ray and see how things are looking and then give me a plan of action.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

11 Days Post Spinal Fusion L4-S1

So Im 11 days post op and I start to feel like I am some sort of medical marvel...first with the knee years ago being told I can't run or would need a knee replacement within 2 years but then year and half later decided to run and did 88 marathons/ultras and now don't have any swelling or bruising of the knee? I feel like I should be hurting more but my walking get longer and stronger everyday.
I had my staples removed last friday afternoon - there was 23 of them...I had my mom take a look at it and it looked like a couple places where the incision was pulling apart some and I called my family doctor who removed them and sent a photo to his text but didn't hear back so I had mom go ahead and get some butterfly's and try to close the gap. It seemed to work then my son saw a gap in the middle where the incision was really deep and he did the same and the next evening it seemed to have gotten much better.  There is some itching where it is healing and when I sit or lay there is some surgery pain in the center right side of the incision....kinda feels like a burning sensation when it hits me. My right hip still has some pain and I have some itching in the left upper hip. I am not sure which side he took part of my bone out to use as a harvest bone and I am assuming some of this itching and hip pain is probably from that.
Walking feels great! Its so hot and humid outside but it feels good to walk. I started last week with just walking up the street and back 3 times a day and then by the weekend I was up to half mile 3-4 times a day. When it was too hot and humid I got on the treadmill at a 2.5-2.8mph walk for half mile. Things really don't hurt much when I'm walking...seems to hurt the most when I am laying and then have to roll or move positions.  Nighttimes are still a little rough and I have to take pain medication at bedtime to help sleep and lighten up that pain of laying on my back or side and then having to move some.  Yesterday it got pretty hot and humid so I took to the treadmill at a very slow pace and things felt so good I just kept going....I stopped at 1 mile and felt as though I could go more without any issues but chose not to.
I woke today and had to go to work for a few to get a deposit together and a couple other things then when I got done I headed outside for a mile walk...but when I got going I decided that I would go on to Kinneys lane and back and I know this is 3/4 of a mile each way. It was 100% humidity but there was a little breeze and wasn't hot hot hot.  I really felt good that it was almost scary.  My mind started questioning if I will mess things up by walking too much but the doctor said the more I walk without pain the faster things heal. If it hurts stop...that simple. I know I am strong willed and stubborn and I can block pain very easily so i then question myself and wonder is it hurting and I just have blocked it??? But really it feels much better when I am moving. Steps are very easy, I am NOT lifting anything more then 5 -10 pounds and that is one area that I will not attempt. That area is one that I know can make things worse and there is no reason nor need to attempt to lift anything. I am able to do laundry and when it's finished Tanner brings the basket upstairs for me...even though it most likely isn't 5-10 pounds I will not risk that.  I am not using the sweeper as tempting as it is when I see dog or cat hair laying around it is not worth it. I was glad Moxie (the cat) got her hair cut yesterday as that will keep down some of that.
Most people who go into this surgery are older then myself and are not nearly as active. Last year even with the pains before surgery I averaged 250-300 miles a month of walking/running then after my surgery at the end of February I still averaged 150-176 miles of walking each month. I didn't run but stayed walking. Even when the laminectomy didn't work as we hoped I still stayed active knowing this recovery would be less painful the healthier I was going into it. I had stopped the pity party that first part of May and stopped eating all the ice cream and junk and took 10 of the 30 pounds I had put on since last year and 20 some alone since Jan off.  I had a couple bad days this week but when your son makes you a homemade banana cream pie, crust and all then banana bread from scratch whats a mom to do :)
I have already started thinking of new goals.....I know in November I will do just the half at RnR Vegas and walk it....but I am thinking I will be able to start back to running a little at a time by then and get training for RnR Nashville in April. I also am signed up for RnR NOLA in Feb and the full there has a 7 hour time limit so walking with little bits of jogging shouldn't be a problem if all goes well.  I don't think I will be able to do California International the first of December since it is a 6 hour time limit and I don't think I will be running enough by December to get me there in that time but I have not written it off yet. I was signed up for several events when we hoped the first procedure worked and had no idea I would be having major spinal surgery. California International allows for deferral but heck its $49 just to defer so I am not sure what I will do and have till the middle of November to decide what I will need to do.
My spirits are high and I have received so many cards from friends all over the place. I pick one randomly each day to read - my dream is to have one a day each day of my first the doc said I would be 1-2 years with no running so I took it as 1 year....after the surgery he felt it was a realistic goal to look forward to possibly doing RnR Nashville as my comeback marathon.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Recovery Starts Here

I only had six weeks pain free after the double Laminectomy on Feb 23 then the left glute area started with stage one of the nerve pain...I call it stage one because it was the same nerve pain that left me debilitated about 6 months prior when that began on the right side and wouldn't go away.  I had plans a week later (first week of April) to spend a week in southern Utah where I was planning on do the ZION 100K again...I already knew I would be unable to do that but I love the area and decided to volunteer at the event and then spend the week with my friend Amber checking out places I didn't get to see the year before.  The doc had  put me on a steroid pack a week or so before going to Utah hoping it was just inflammation but that didn't help. Once I got to Utah I knew it wasn't going to be a good outcome since the steroids didn't help at all so I hiked and enjoyed every minute I could. I had to take some rest breaks but it was all worth it! About week 10 I went back to the Doctor and had another MRI.....I had the MRI locally on a tuesday and that evening the Doctor himself called me at 6:30 pm.....I knew that probably wasn't a good sign. Sure enough I was still a complete mess and one of the disc were completely gone. When I went back in to discuss it with him he asked me to be honest about my prior recovery since the one disc was completely gone and I told him...I was good...I only running at all.  I told him about my hiking in Utah the week or so prior and he said that wouldn't have done anything as it was already done before I left for there so he didn't mind at all me doing what I love. I did have to shovel 18 inches of snow off my roof less then a week after the first surgery since my roof and flat and my drains were completely iced over so nothing could drain. A couple days before the big snow some water had started coming through and I got out there then to get the ice off while I waited on someone else to come up and help. They finally showed up and took over and I had made arrangements with them knowing that this big snow was coming to come out and shovel it for me. The day of the snow he was suppose to come in the evening but didn't show and said he would be there by 11:00 the next day since it was going to get to the 50's so it would start melting and i could lose the entire back room if that happened....11:30 came and I called...said he got tied up at another job but would be right out....1:00 comes...nobody and its getting warmer...I call no answer. Tanner was still in college so I had no choice and I had to get out there and do it myself. My doctor was aware but said you had to do what you had to do and then said it may not hurt anything that some do things by the book and still have problems so do something they shouldn't and don't have problems. We don't know if that played a factor and at this point it doesnt matter why and he knew the spinal fusion was going to inevitable anyways but we were hoping for a couple years down the road.
Being such a major surgery it took time to get insurance to approve and with my age it took a little more since most people don't have this type of issue at my age. I was scheduled for June 6th.
The Procedure that was done was
1. L-4-L5, L5-S1 laminectomy and facetectomy
2. Posterolateral theses L4-L5 and L5-S1
3. Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion with preparation of interspace L4-L5
4. Placement of 10X20 mm Crescent PEEK intervertebral biomechanical device L4-L5
5. L4-S1 segmental pedicle screw instrumentation with pedicle screw system
6. Harvest of local bone through same incision
7. Use of Porgenix and Magnafuse moralized allograft for inter body and posterolateral fusion
I was unable to eat of drink after midnight the night before and surgery was scheduled for 12:45 with an arrival time of 10:45. I took a xanax before leaving as I was very nervous. I arrived and found he was running late and my time would now be 2:00. My IVs were attached and the things on my legs so they would be able to monitor how close to the nerves he was during the procedure. My mom took me and was allowed to wait in the pre op room with me...poor thing couldn't stay awake.
The doctor came in to talk with me and then the anesthesiologist and shortly after I was headed back to the surgery room. As I approached I started getting more scared- I am glad he started the anesthesia right away because I was almost in tears with fear...what if something went wrong..this is my spine
the back bone of my entire body and well being.  It didn't take long and I was off in my happy place and had no idea what was going on.  When I woke up in the recovery area they called my family to let them know but I was only able to lay there. After about 2 hours and no room for me to go to they allowed two family members to come back....Tanner and my dad had arrived by then so they came back. Tanner snapped this pretend it doesnt hurt like hell picture and we visited for a few and then the waiting game for a real room began again. It was almost 4:30 hours till I got into a room.  When I arrived my folks and Tanner came in and it was rough. I had major hip pain going on...they thought from the position I was in during surgery as well as nerve damage and the position after surgery. I felt like if I could just stand up for a few it would feel a little comes the most frustrating and scary part. I tried and tried just to raise my butt and hips off the bed and I had no strength to do that at all! I was scared I was so frustrated and I tried so hard and just couldn't do it. I said again I really need to stand up and move and so they had someone come in and teach me to try to bend the right leg then roll it over to the left...try to much and lift my hips up so my body would lay on its side using the bed railing and the bed and this was so hard!!! I finally got to a side step was to let my legs roll over the bed and then push my upper body erect....again very difficult and painful but I finally made it up. They put a walker in front of me and I pushed and they helped to get me to stand upright. I asked to try to walk and they went with me a couple steps into the hallway to the nurses station and back...that was enough and it helped with the pain that I was having in the hips.  My folks left and Tanner and my dad went on home...Mom was staying with my brother so she was close if needed but it was also my nieces bday weekend so she got to spend some time with them shopping and enjoying a visit. Im not one to ask for help and why come sit and stare at me in the hospital.  Once I got settled into my room and bed they gave me an ice pack because the hip started to hurt again as well as my quads and every muscle and nerve in my lower body. I honestly felt so weak in the legs that I thought I had ran a Hundo!  They started me now on stronger pain medication through IV and that would last about 3 hours so every 3 hours or so they would come check on me. Night one was rough and around midnight the new nurse on duty came to empty my drainage bags and my catheter - about an hour later I had so much bladder pain and the urge to pee that it almost had me in tears....I reached over to see what was up with the catheter and the nurse that changed it had it draped over my hand rail so all my urine was draining back into the bag.  I called for help and finally someone came and fixed and got it going correctly but after that the bladder pain and pressure never went away. Morning came around and this same nurse told me I need to order breakfast at 7am...gave me a menu and left. About 6:45 I called and said I was told to order breakfast but have no clue how to do it because she gave me a menu and left? She came back in and said I need to call this number 3663.....I said ok...but how do I call that number with what??? She then reached way back behind me on a wall and says oh here is the phone.  I ordered some raise bran and hard boiled egg. The nurse then came in and took my catheter out and did some charting and I told her I had to pee and she said no you don't you just feel like it because i took the catheter 15 min goes by and the nurses are changing shifts...I start to try to get myself up when they both were in there and they said what do you need and I said I need to the nurse from hell said we can help..all you have to do is ask...I said I did...I told you I had to pee and you said I didn't. I finally got myself up and used the walked to get to the bathroom and I peed!!! I had to then have a bladder scan the next 3 times I went to be sure my bladder was getting empty or close to empty each time.  The doctor came to see me and I told him about the nurse from hell....he said all went well but he wants me to have a bone scan when I am healed to see if it may tell more about my bones and what type of Arthur I may have. He said he was so surprised how weak my bones were with my activity level and that the 78 year old man before me in surgery had stronger back bones then me. He then said it is something congenial which the only person that had arthritis was my dads mom and she passed away very young so nobody really knows what kind. I don't have joint pain as would be expected either. He felt the surgery will be successful and we started talking running.  I had walked a half marathon 3 days prior to the surgery...It was one of Mainly Marathons series of 7 states 7 marathons in 7 days and it was starting in Northern Ohio...about a 4:30 hour drive and the RD gave me a free entry and was sharing a room with a friend.  It wasn't about doing any distance and I didn't care if I did half,full or just a couple was mostly for mental therapy as I needed to be with members of my running family before I would go under this major surgery and would be off for quite a long recovery. I am so glad I got to go...I stopped at the half and got an extra medal to give to my Doc....signed the back with a date and gave it to him after surgery and told him to keep that so if at 92 years old I break Harriet Thompson marathon record she broke the weekend prior he would have this from me :) He has done only one full marathon and he said he would like to do another but he cramped up around mile 20-22 and had to walk some and stretch...not that there is anything wrong with that but he really wanted to be able to run without walking...I told him he should do the RnR Nashville with me in April next year and that it is part of St Judes so he would have a medical connection and really think he would enjoy that moment he said that will be our goal for me to be able to do that marathon in April! I loved this goal since at first he has to tell all patients that they should expect to not be running for 1-2 years. Of course we don't know how the healing and recovery process will go but hey its a goal and its a great goal!!!
OT came in and taught me how to put my socks on and took me around the hallway. We started with the walker and when i got in the hall she asked if I wanted to try without the walker and I said yes...she had a tie around me for safety that she held onto but I managed a loop with out the walker.  Mom Allison and the girls came over after bday shopping and stayed about an hour and the girls walked the hall loop with me once. I was not allowed to walk without someone being with me. PT was suppose to come but never showed up that day.
Friday they also came in and changed my bandage and took one of my drains out. The hook looking things on that photo are where the drains are. Throughout the night I had to pee so many times and its such a huge process just to get myself up. My ab muscles even feel like that have pulled away from my skin due to the stress of trying to maneuver my body and then I use everything in me just to push myself to a sitting position then on to stand.  I do a count to three then deep breath in my nose and blow out the mouth before each movement.  They giggled once and said they have never heard anyone count to 3 before but it works!!  That evening I had a surprise visit from Tanner and his friends....It was nice because I was ready to walk the hallways but you hate to push the call button because they workers are so busy with other people you don't want to bother them to come walk around the hallway with you. They brought me a cream horn from Schmidts and I only ate the top off it with some cream - I was afraid too much sweets would cause some bowel issues and I think the body heals better with less sugar. The 4 of them took me two laps around the hallway, we looked like someone very important with a good looking posey around them.
A big storm came through and they hung out for about 90 minutes and then I went to sleep for a bit. Sleep is very tough...I only needed the IV pain medication Friday night and stopped that in the early Saturday am but Saturday night about 1:00 it was unbearable again...I kept pushing the call button on both sides of the bed and nothing happened....the call button and remote was on the table but I must have forgotten to bring it closer to me during a potty time. I did some breathing and managed to get myself to sleep for another hour then tried all the call buttons again but those don't work....I managed one more time to breath myself to sleep and then the gal came for vitals and I told her the buttons on the bed don't work and i couldn't reach the controller...she got my nurse and the pain had gotten too far out of control that she had to do the IV meds to get me back to a manageable level...then I started back on the oral doses and things seemed to be fine.
Saturday mom stopped over and brought me some chipotle...I ate a little but don't have much of an appetite still. She stayed for about an hour or so and told me about my nieces bday presents (they got her an electric guitar!!) My niece has been learning guitar for awhile and is really good...she is also super artistic...she just turned 14. She was excited to open her other presents and had to wait till grandma got back so there isn't much to do but sit and stare at wall in a hospital room so mom headed back after an hour or so. She checked to be sure PT would be there today too.  We were hoping my other drain would be removed on Saturday but there was still enough drainage that they needed to keep it in.  PT did come and taught me to do steps since I have steps in my home. She also walked me around the hallway walker free!!! She let them know that I could now walk the hallway with out assistance as I chose. I had another great surprises on Saturday...that afternoon my old Pastor that got reassigned Pastor Kym James and her husband Frank brought me balloons and he brought his guitar and they played and sand me a couple songs. We all prayed together and it was very refreshing.
Sunday morning came and I got the ok at 5am to take out the drains but the nurse was busy and had to check in a new patient. Then at 7 am the shift changes so I had to wait till the new nurse got situated....finally an hour or so later she came and changed the dressing and removed the drain. It thought removing it would be like a sigh of instant relief but it wasn't.  I got released and we got home around 1:30 in the afternoon and got settled in. It felt good that night to be in my own bed and I really worried about not having the rails and such to pull on to get up but I found it easier getting in and out of my own bed. It is now Wednesday and I have been home for about 72 hours and things are improving. I am a little concerned with the top of the incision as it looks like a big sac of fluid and almost feels that way too. I iced it last night and today it seems to have gone down a little but I did call the docs office to let them know. She suggested it could be scar tissue forming and she would let him know and get back with me if I should be alarmed. I walked outside today about a total of 300 goal was to make it to the end of the street but I came up short and decided to turn around. As of around 9 pm last night I haven't taken any pain meds but I think I will have to after while. I had a headache and was allowed to take tylenol and that has helped.
My son when he first saw my incision was like OH WOW....i said what is it draining or something wrong and he says just looks like you have a giant extended butt crack half way up your back.
I managed another walk this evening and the total steps for it were 585. I have no need to push myself as I want things to recover the way they should.  I have had a strange smell in my nose all day. Years ago I was told I had Ol Factory hallucinations where people smell a smell that is not there and I really haven't had them to to bad the past couple years but maybe being in there with all the nerve has brought it back on...lets hope it is temporary because its very annoying!! One smells something but can't even describe what it is...its not foul its not pleasant its just a weird ass smell!
The first part of May I started tracking again with Whale Watchers since I had gained over 20 pounds since the first of the year. I was so depressed and the comfort food really did before the first surgery I couldn't even stand without crying for longer then 30 seconds so ice cream and junk became my go to. I lost about 8 pounds that month and the week since surgery I lost 3.5 so Im in the right direction. Trying to eat lots of protein so the muscle and such will heal quicker.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Best Birthday Ever

I have to say this is one of the best birthday's and birthday week.  I actually slept the best I have slept in over 10 months!!! I had surgery on Monday and had some anxiety and nervousness about it because when the doctor came in to speak to me and my folks before surgery he explained in clarity how I need a spinal fusion and his success rate with the procedure he decided to do Monday is usually 90-95% but he could not say that in my case. Then I wondered why didn't we just do the fusion...but he spoke before I could ask and said how he knows what my activity level is and he did feel mentally I could not handle the recovery from a fusion and it would be almost a year before I could run again with that. I understood this and he is right...the past 6 weeks of pain and being stuck on the couch caused me to have so many selfish thoughts of not being able to hold on another day but I did - I have a amazing son who called from college and checked on me everyday and told me how much he loved me!
I only told a few friends about what was going on because I don't like people to know when I am in pain or not doing well. I learned a lot from doing that as well....I learned some of those that I thought were close friends really are not -I guess I thought telling those I felt were my closest friends meant I cared about them enough to let them know what was going on and thought they cared enough about me to support me and keep me positive. Instead I learned that there were a few who I told when I saw at a Doctor visit or if they saw me crippled over in the grocery and could tell something was wrong and came to me in concern that those were the ones that have really been there for me more so.
Lets get back to the surgery/miracle for now - We stayed the night in Columbus on Sunday night as I had to be to the surgery center Monday am. I got all checked in and they came to do my IV. The girl doing my IV was rough and kept pushing so hard and the vein popped and I passed thing I was hearing was 3 nurses saying stay with us stay with us and the anesthesiologist asking me questions about allergies while I was just trying not to hyperventilate and at the same time the other nurse starts to put the IV in my other arm. I then remember the anesthesiologist say she will wait a minute LOL...ok yes please do because I can't hear a word you are saying right now. I had to sit up for a minute to get bearings and then the other nurse got my IV in and it bleed everywhere. Wasn't my morning for needles and at this point I am so tired of needles and hospitals and doctors.  After that is when the doctor came in to discuss what we were doing and what I need done etc. When I got to the surgery room I guess during the anesthesia I kept fighting it asking the doc if he thought I would be recovered enough to run 100 miles at Nanny Goat in May and all these other events. After the surgery when I woke up I just I started on those questions again. haha. He told my folks boy she's a stubborn one isn't she :) He also told them I have a lot of permanent nerve damage and that a spinal fusion is eminent. He did say no to 100 miles at Nanny Goat in May haha He also say no to even the 25K at Zion in 6 weeks mostly due to it being unstable trail and risk of falling right now. I am planning to volunteer but will get his permission and what duties and hours I can do it.
I got to the recovery room and I did wake quickly and recovered quickly. My surgery took about an hour and I was on the way home by around 10:30. I could feel the incision pain and even though it was a small area it felt like the entire back of my lower back....I could already tell the pain in the glute hip and down the leg was gone.  My folks went to get the car and the nurses said I probably wouldn't see him until my follow up because he has surgeries scheduled all day and typically just speaks to the family after the surgery and goes in for the next one. He stopped in to check on me as I was dressed getting ready to leave and I told him I could already feel the difference and again asked him about running LOL. I did this because my mother only heard that he said no to running trails and long events and NO 100 milers..and he said no to 100 miles in May and trails right now because of falling and injuring a disc since everything has just been opened up. Falling now could easily rupture something else so I need to let it heal and be careful. I respect that and I will follow orders but when my mother started telling me I wasn't going to be running I was completely let down because thats why we didn't do the fusion right now and did this procedure so I would recover faster and be at the things I enjoy doing quicker.  I was so glad he peaked in before I left because I woulda gone crazy not knowing anything at all about recovery before the 13th when I go back.
My mom came and washed the orange off my back yesterday and then I got into my shower and washed my I washed my hair and body without having to hold on to the towel bar crying and praying for the shampoo to rinse out faster!! That was the first in 6 weeks and was an awesome feeling!! I can walk to the bathroom. I can stand and make a sandwich.....all the small things we take for granted and when they are taken away from you its a terrible thing but when a doctor can give them back to you its a miracle!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Good News

CT for the nodule on the lung...there are actually two of them and I was told a lot of folks that live on the Ohio River it is common for these to appear.  I was told to recheck in 6 months and if no growth recheck again in 18. I feel positive about this and the Dr said not to worry.
4 more sleeps and I should be pain free!!! This is going to be the best birthday present ever!!!
In my free time I have been writing out what I want to sign up for as soon as I find out how long the recovery is going to be.  If the doc feels he can fix me and that I will be able to train and complete Ironman Louisville in October then I know I will be able to add many more events! Zion is April 11th and like I said I know its not gonna be a go for the 100K as I planned but will see about the 50K and if not I know he should let me hike the 25K!! I will then have 3 weeks till the Flying Pig 4 way. This is a 5K 10K on Saturday May 2nd and then the marathon on May 3rd. I know I won't be as fast as I was not that I was super fast haha but I will be starting my comeback from a month off!  Then at the end of May I am really looking forward to Nanny Goat 24 hour event in Riverside California. I do not have a mileage goal in mind...the only goal I have is to have a wonderful time and see old friends and make new. Next on the schedule is in July which is the Capital Reef 50 milers....this one is going to be amazing!! Amazing hard due to the altitude of the event...I think I read 25 of those miles are at an altitude of 11,000 feet! Hoping the scenery keeps that altitude sickness away. It didn't keep it away at Pikes Peak but I don't quit and will get the job done! Next thing on schedule is Ironman Louisville in October.
So I've been writing out what I want to do once I see how my body rebounds and have some awesome things on tap!! I know on Labor Day Weekend I will do The Race of Ages in Tenn...this race is a timed event and you run your age in hours!!! So I will run as many miles as I can in 47 hours! Its kinda a handicap for older runners....those fast young'ens may cover 100 miles is 22 hours which is their age but someone 65 will have 65 hours to go further. I have read there are a lot of older folks going to this one already!! I can't wait.
These are my must do this year list -California International, Flying Monkey - which I can not wait to do!! Last year I had a double state weekend that if I missed I would not have finished my 50th state in December and the 2 previous years JFK 50 miler was the day before and logistics just wouldn't work.
St Judes, Will put in for MCM lottery and hope to get into that again this year.  I am the type that loves to do double marathons on the weekends if I have to travel further then 6 hours to get there. I am hoping to do some of the Mainly Marathon series to be able to visit with those extended family members.

Monday, February 16, 2015


I haven't posted much because I have just been depressed and kinda stuck on the couch.  I did the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day Double Double which consisted of a 5K at 7am followed by a marathon at 9am each day. It was in Allen TX with unseasonably cold temps. NYE was just cold and windy and NYD was an ice storm. I still felt better when I was running and would get up a couple hours early to take my medicine so that when it gets closer to time to leave things start to kick in a bit and its a little easier to get dressed and put shoes on and move. After the Double Double I had 2 weeks off and then was a pacer at Mississippi Blues on Jan 10 and ran First Light in Alabama on the 11th. This was my first pacing gig and I had a blast. I think knowing I was going to be having a new experience helped me keep the pain at bay. I had 8 folks start with me and 8 finish with me. 7 were original starters. At first light I really was hurting and had to take a lot of pain meds....running with a group of anywhere from 6-18 and I had everyone high fiving at each mile like I did the day before makes the time go much faster. We were hooting and howlering and really had a fun time! When I returned home I was scheduled for a myleogram since the week before we tried one last injection...this time in the didn't help at all either.
The myleogram was a test where contrast dye was injected into my spine and a CT scan was done after. The results of this test showed why the other options had not been working because things are much more severe then what the MRI even shows. There is severe spinal stenosis in 2 places, a synovial cyst near the L5, severe arthritis and a couple disc are blown or something?  After the myleogram I had some spinal fluid leakage and was ill and on bedrest for almost a week. The pain in the hip/glute/leg has become unbearable and pain medication doesn't even touch it.
My doctor got my appointment with the surgeon moved up because I was almost at a point to drive to the hospital in columbus and see if I got lucky with that surgeon being on call.  I have never experienced pain like this in my life and each night I don't want to go to bed because by 8 or so in the evening the pain has subsided some and I know around 2or so am it will wake me up and start all over.
I got to see the surgeon and his first impression after seeing my test results were that I need a spinal fusion...this scares me. We discussed this option and he became aware of my activity level and could tell what it means to me at this point of my life and then he decided he would like to try a minimally invasive surgery first to relieve the pressure on the nerve ending with hopes it will work and buy me 3-5 years before a fusion.  I now am hoping this works and I again will be a medical marvel and not need the fusion in 3-5 years....remember 4 doctors told me I would need a new knee by 2012 if I continued to run and at that time I had only ran a couple marathons. I have to be hopeful even though it is unlikely as what I have are not injuries but conditions that are most likely hereditary but we don't know where they came from. My fathers parents were in there early 50's when they passed away..he was still in high school and my mothers family didn't have any issues and actually lives forever. I do however have those genes of my mothers side of the family with health related issues when it comes to cholesterol levels, sugar, blood pressure etc.
Just when you think you can't worry more I had to have a pre op chest X-ray....this X-ray shows a small nodule on my right lung which is recommended to be checked better. So they have told me that being small it is probably nothing to worry about and that 1 in 500 people will have a nodule show up on a chest X-ray and 60% are non cancerous - but being a formal smoker of 3 packs a day - stopped 14 years ago - we are not just going to monitor it to see if it gets larger in 6 months they are going to do a chest CT with contrast this week.
My back surgery is scheduled for monday the 23rd...2 days before my birthday. I have no clue what the recovery is but when I told him I was signed up for Ironman Louisville in October but I did buy the insurance because of my shoulder issues and not knowing if I could swim as well as when I signed up I was just getting my hip and back issues looked at and had no clue what was really wrong but knew the pain I was in things were not good. The good news is he felt that the surgery  he is going to do will work and that I will be recovered to be able to train and do the Ironman - this is positive however I have not registered for any other events that I had not already registered for until after the surgery and I see if it works and how recovery goes. I can't wait to wake up after the surgery and see if the pain is gone!!!
I am schedule for Zion 100K which is only 6 weeks after surgery and I haven't been able to really move since Jan 15th. I am still going but they have a 25K and 50K option which depending on what the doctor says I will drop to one of those...I can hike them - I know I won't be able to run the mountains and jerk the back around that much that soon but I would hike out there all day long!! I am staying a week and my friend Amber is coming down from Montana so we are planning to make it a girls week getaway....not focusing on the event at all rather then checking out the area and hiking lots of cool places. I think that will be great for recovery!!
The downfall is weight gain....Im unable to do anything but sit on the couch in a certain position. I can't stand longer then a few minutes at a time without wanting to cry so Im not cooking anything healthy and grabbing what ever is easy. Being on different types of medicines trying to find something to help with the pain has it's side effects but right now I don't really care. Somedays I don't eat hardly anything because my stomach hurts because of the pain and then somedays lots of ice cream and comfort food is what helps. I know once I get fixed I will be back stronger then ever and will get the weight off...sometimes I tell myself the more I gain the more I have to lose but it just seems to be the less of my stresses now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The spontaneously semi planned finish of a marathon or ultra in all 50 States

me in 2002
I have been debating how to write this for a week or so now because I like to talk about the entire trip that I was on during a run but I decided to make this post just about my unexpected journey in finishing a marathon or ultra in all 50 states...then I will post only about our Hawaii trip.

For those that don't know me in 2002 that photo in the Nebraska sweatshirt was me! I had finally kicked a 3 pack a day smoking habit but had not began the other part of healthier living yet.  It wasn't until shortly after my birthday at the end of February 2003 when I saw myself next to a couple friends and I was twice there size that I decided enough was enough.  I lost about 90 plus pounds by watching what I was eating and I started exercising and lifting weights. I found losing was the easy part....keeping it off was much harder!! I had also learned this once before in 1998 when I lost about 80 pounds but immediately gained it back plus a few more.  I was not going to let this happen again so I decided that I needed to come up with different goals to keep me motivated and working out. I started biking and swimming and attempting to run. Boy do I remember the first time I ran a complete mile without having to stop and walk once!!! Heck I remember when I ran my first TWO BLOCKS without having to stop and walk!! I always enjoyed swimming and had done some century bike rides in the past....long past but I had done I started researching triathlons. I discovered there was events called sprint triathlons....these were only about a half mile swim, 12 mile bike and a 5K run....sure I can do this!!! I ran into an old friend from school days at the local gym and convinced her we both could do these- she was already a runner and swam but wasnt into biking yet. Soon we were signed up for every sprint triathlon in 2004 that was within reasonable driving distance. Our first one wasn't as "easy" as we expected and even being swimmers throughout our lifetime, myself even certified in SCUBA...we both panicked in the water and doggy paddled, side stroked and laughed and cussed the entire way until we finished that swim!! We exited the water laughing and cussing about that was not what we expected as we casually walked to the transition area to get out our bikes for a "short" 12 mile ride....we then said to each other - opps we are in a race...lets get to our bikes. After the bikes it was off to the 5K that was weird...we had never trained to run after biking and learned that day we need to do this more often. We did finish and I tell this story because this was the beginning of my "obsession" some may call it?
By the end of 2004 I was running my first Half marathon with my friend Ginny Sturgill...we did the Columbus Marathon as a relay...I did the first half and she did the second half. I believe my longest run was maybe 2 9 milers....I will never forget the last several miles of this run when I would stop at the water stops...I felt if I stopped I would not be able to start going again and so eventually I just had to keep on shufflin to get done. Oh my did it hurt when I was done and then I had to wait for 2 hours for Ginny to finish. After that half marathon I never would have dreamed I would do any distance longer then that!!!  When the 2004 season ended we were already looking at goals for the next year....we had to bump it up a knotch so we continued with some sprint distance but also jumped into the Olympic Distance and did 3 of those that year. By 2005 we were ready to try the 70.3 triathlon distance...this was 1.2 mile swim 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run. Throughout the past couple years we met folks doing this crazy distance and were just in awe....and those that were doing FULL distance of 140.6 miles well that was just beyond reach!!! We signed up for a half in September of that year and low and behold we did it!!! Shortly after my left shoulder ended up having problems with swimming so I finally had it checked and I had tore my bicep tendon and labral tendon so I had to have surgery....the doctor put in 4 anchors and found a large bone spur that was shaved down and also pulled the ball/socket back together. This recovery sucked but I had it done in November so I had the winter off to recover. During the recovery all I could do is work on my schedule of what I wanted to do the next year.
2007 rolls around and I decide we are ready to attempt a FULL IRONMAN!!! 2.4 miles swim 112 miles of biking then a full marathon 26.2 miles of running!!! I had never even done a marathon until this!!! We signed up for Ironman Louisville because it was the first year and it was fairly close. About 2.5 weeks before the event I had some bleeding in a place that was not pleasant and had it looked at from a friend sister that was a nurse at urgent care.  It was a saddle sore that was bleeding and they gave me some ointment...however the next morning I awoke to the area being the size of my fist! I immediatly went to my female doctor and he had to lance it and stick some drainage tubes and sent me home with some antibiotics....the next morning I could not get my right leg to move out of the bed and was immediately admitted to the hospital and placed in isolation - I had MRSA Staph infection.....I was hooked up on IV's - nobody could come in without a gown and mask, they would change the medicine in the IV's every couple hours as they did not know what drugs would work for the strain I had so they kept changing them until the results came back 2-3 days later and they kept pumping me with those antibiotics.  That was scary!!!! I was released the Saturday before Ironman Louisville....8 days before. I had 2 other friends doing the event and I took my stuff and promised my folks and Doctor that I would not do the event.....however I told myself and my folks the day before that if I can sit on my bike I will attempt it.  And so I did - This was my first ever marathon too!!! I had about 1 mile left to go in the run (walk) and they came and took my chip- I was out of time...they told me I could continue or I could get in the truck and I said there is no way I will quit....there was a group of about 10 others around me....all had their chips taken but all of us decided to keep truckin. I finished the event about 30 minutes too late for an "official" finish but they did give me a finisher medal...I knew I wasn't an "Ironman" yet even though I finished the distance I did not finish in the allocated time so it kinda didn't count.  I did the best I could and when you do the best you can you have to be thrilled with that!
2008 comes along and it was time for redemption....I did the American Triple T which is a local event that consist of 4 events...friday night is a super small sprint tri saturday AM is an Olympic distance tri Saturday Afternoon at 3pm is another Olympic distance Tri and Sunday is a Half Ironman....all in the hills of the Little Smokies! I also did a couple other Half Ironman Triathlon and then complete Ironman Florida! My first official finish of a Ironman as well as my first official finish in a marathon since it was at the end of the event!
2009 I decide I am going to do Louisville again and this time I was doing it with Janus Charities...a Charity group that you were able to chose the charity you would like to fundraise for and if you were one of the top 5 fundraiser they would also give your charity moneys!! I chose one close to heart...the Steven A Hunter Foundation With the help of the community I raised $14,000 good enough for 4th place and Janus graciously gave an additional $4,000 to the fund! Beside Ironman Louisville I did do two stand alone marathons for the first time this year...I did Myrtle Beach in Feb of the year and also was selected in the lottery for the Nike Womens Marathon in San Francisco. I stated seeing info about ultra running and boy I wanted to try this!!! 50 Miles or 100 Miles!!! Wouldnt that be freaking cool!!!! After the Nike marathon I was having lots of pain in my left knee. I am the type that will not see a Doctor unless conditions interfere with my daily living and it was getting to become an issue. I had the knee scoped in December of 2009 and they found that 3 of the 4 compartments were pretty much bone on bone so he performed 3 microfractures,,,,this is where they drill holes in the area to try to get new cartilage to grow. Recovery was very frustrating, I biked pretty much immediately with the seat high and eventually started on the AMT and EFX. After months I was trying to run but the pain in the patella was excruciating - We tried an unloader brace but eventually was told if I continue to run then I would most likely need a new knee within a couple years. I ended up going to  other doctors for other opinions with the same outcome. After Doc 3 the very next day was the drawing for the NYC marathon and I had entered!! Of course I did get selected.  2010 was a recovery year but I was determined to get back. I did some triathlons, sprint, olympic and even a half, I also did one half marathon and I did walk the NYC marathon. In 2011 my right foot which was the opposite side of the knee was causing issues, issues to were I would have to crawl to the bathroom at night, finally that was diagnosed as Tarsel Tunnel, surgery was suppose to happen but the chance of fixing the issue was only 50% chance and it would require 1 month in a cast and 2 months in a boot and I was going to come back no matter what any doctor told me!!! I had seen people running without one of their legs, I was reading about folks running long distances the day after chemo-was I going to let these doctors tell me I can't do something?? There are no guarantees....I may need a new knee but heck I may not even be here in 2 years to have to have one!!! By 2011 I saw one last Doctor....he looked over all my MRI's, surgery photos etc and he said "I will not tell you NOT to run and I do NOT see a new knee within the next 2 years but I will say if you run you should try to keep it to a couple times a week and only about 3-4 miles each time." That's all I needed to hear and by the end of the week I had found my first 50 mile run that I was going to attempt!!! It was called Labor Of Love in Henderson NV. It had a 24 hour time limit!! I could do this!!! I did buy trip insurance just in case case.  I had put on about 20 pounds of the 90 I had lost in 2003 and I decided to get serious about getting that off and so I did...I took off that 20 plus another 15 and believe it or not the tarsel tunnel got better!!! Or I just adjusted to the pain???  I leaned how to block the pain in my knee and at times it would swell and even bruise where the bones would rub.
I knew I needed to sign up for events to keep me running longer distances so that I could train for the 50 miler, I also knew if I didnt sign up for events then I would not stay out there by myself running these long distance in the cold of the winter. That winter fortunately was very mild but I did do my first 50K in January of 2012, a COLD nighttime marathon also in January in Indianapolis, and 3 other full marathons leading up to the 50 miler. On April 21st I did my first 50 mile run!!!  I had also learned that if you do a marathon distance or more in at least 10 states you qualify for the 50 States Marathon Club. I had done 5 marathons including the ironman's in 2008 and 2009 and just the first half of 2012 I had now done a 50K 4 marathons and a 50 miler and all were in different states so I actually was qualified for the 50 states club!!! I then decided cool....I think I can do a marathon in all 50 states by the time I am 50........I was 44 so I had 6 years to do 40 more states....I stared researching my last state at this time...and I found one that happened the weekend of my birthday called Cowtown in TX...I also found that on my 50th Birthday it would be ON my birthday. Well.....things didn't happen that way.  By the end of 2012 I had learned of another group called Marathon Maniacs
I also learned about double marathons/ultras where you do a marathon or ultra on one day and do another the very next day!!! FUN STUFF -  I had finished 3 50K's TWO 50 Milers...I got into the oldest 50 miler in the US called JFK50 (named for John F Kennedy) and 10 marathons - Crazy as it sounded I waited by my computer on the day that the Umstead 100 mile ultra marathon registration opened because they sell out in a matter of minutes......It was meant to be because I got in!!! It was schedule for April 6 2013 so I now had my 2013 mostly planned starting it off with a 50 miler on the island of St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. That winter was not as forgiving as the winter before so I did do a lot more traveling to the southern states for double marathon training for the Umstead 100 miler. I was meeting the same folks at each event and truly formed a new edition to running family! I finsihed Umstead 100 and I was on top of the world. It hurt and it hurt bad but I wanted more. I discovered a company called Mainly Marathons This company is owned by an amazing man named Clint Burleson. He puts on series of marathons on consecutive days in adjoining states....Now I thought this is cool and major crazy!!! So I signed up for the one called Center of the I could knock off 5 states out west in 5 days! It is here where I honestly can say family ties were made. I met the most amazing people and made the best friendships that continue today.The 5 in 5 days was nothing like I expected....I never once went to bed or woke up thinking damn I have to go run another marathon...instead I woke up with a WHOO HOOO I GET to go run with all my new friends. My 2013 ended with 21 marathons, 4 50K's 3 50 milers and 1 100 miler. I thought to myself what in the world can I do in 2014.....I then started to see how my states were adding up and discovered that I could finish in June of 2015 if all went as planned. I would do CO/KS together with mainly marathons in the spring of 2015 and then finish in Kona in June of didn't happen this way.
I was having trouble with my right shoulder this time and it came to a point where I could no longer get my clothes on and off comfortably so off I had to go to the the right bicep tendon is torn and I had to have 2 anchors put I told the Doc lets schedule it right away because in 3.5 weeks I have a series of 6 marathons in 7 days and then I have a lot more on tap for the rest of the year. The look on his face was priceless but he knows me well. I said it is perfect timing since I do have 3.5 weeks until my next event so I will have that time to start recovering.
 I did have to wear the sling and power walk the majority of the 6 marathons but I finished them. These 6 were in the New England States and my son Tanner got to travel along....he got to meet all my friends I run all over the place with and after that week he finally "got it" he realized why mom runs so much and saw how much fun we all have.  He was learning about the marathon maniacs and started asking me questions about things he was hearing like how many "stars" do I have.....stars is a way the marathon maniacs credit folks for different accomplishments....I told I knew I had 8 because last time I logged in it showed 8 but I didn't know when I got them- I never really pay attention to those details...I just sign up for events and have a great time and complete them.
He started checking my stats because folks were talking about 10 stars...this is the highest level you can achieve as a maniac. So during the traveling he started counting up the different states I had done and the period of time they were done in and found that if I did 32 states in 365 days I would reach 10 stars....he then discovered that if I finish the Storm the Dam in Kansas that would get me to my 10th star! I get asked all the time how many marathons or ultras I have done and I can honestly say I don't know unless I look on my results page where they are all listed and count them up. I didn't know which state was number what until I had 5 left...then I knew what state I was on. I know I will know what number 99 and 100 will be when that time comes and it will probably be next summer. It is not a "goal" and it will happen when it happens. I could get it done a lot faster if I wanted to back out of some 24 hour events and ultras but I would much rather enjoy the events then chase numbers. In looking I have done 81 marathons distances up to one 100 miler....with 76 of these being from January 2012 through December 2014.

For many years my cousin Maggi Apel and her husband Matt were stationed in Colorado Springs and out their window was a view of Pikes Peak - I would always admire those photos and I knew of the Pikes Peak marathon well before the days of me even thinking of running but I always though how cool would it be to climb that mountain and one day I will!! I then read a couple places that it is considered one of the toughest marathons in the World but I thought yeah right...they are just saying that...kinda like Warrior Dash and Spartan races are the "toughest" races in the world - I knew Pikes Peak Marathon usually sold out fast and it really wasn't on my radar for my 50 states journey but one evening before going to bed I made the mistake of checking my face book one last time and I read my friends Scott Sunday's post that Pikes Peak was still open however it was 98% full!! I had a qualifying time and I ran downstairs without any thought and accidentally signed up! Oh - and I do NOT recommend Pikes Peak for someone chasing their 50 states as your Colorado Marathons now I have CO scheduled so I won't be doing the CO/KS together in spring of 2015 so I need to find a Kansas marathon. This I did and my friend Heather Waugh and I drove 12 hours to do Storm the Dam Marathon!!!  I was still recovering from my shoulder surgery and could not use my right arm...this was a muddy mess of a race where we had to pull ourselves up several mud one point I wondered how in the world I would finish the second loop with my right arm- then I would remind myself if I didn't finish this I wouldn't get the 10th star and I also knew that I would be as smart as I possible could be when I am running and try to really listen to my body to not do more damage- I pulled through and I did finish!! I don't know whether it was from this event or not but after I returned home my shoulder was still hurting so he did a test by injecting dye and a MRI and found the rotator cuff was now torn.....IT is STILL torn because Im not doing that surgery again until I HAVE TO!

So now back to the states......I now had all states scheduled or completed except for Hawaii...I didnt wanna wait until June now and I really wanted my son to be able to go who is a Junior at University of Cincinnati so which Hawaii can I do???? HONOLULU!!! It is December 14th and his finals are the week before so if he could take any early he could go!!! I signed up and waited to book flight for awhile for him to check with professors and he decided he could not go...(of course he never checked cause at that age they kinda know it all) I went ahead and booked and I was going to finish state 50 with just my running friends. 2 and half weeks before I was heading to OK ad AR for a double and stayed with him at his apartment, the night before he tells me that his finals are over and he can go! WOW I was thrilled but also nervous with airfare that close and would the same flight be available- To my pleasant surprise his airfare was $20 less then mine and we got on all the same flights. My folks then decided they would get him the ticket as a Christmas actually feels like a present to us both!!
I had another friend Jim Collins that was finishing his second time around the 50 states in Honolulu and also my great friend Troy and Cathie Johnson who have ran 221 marathons together- I was a little concerned because I hadn't ran in about 3 weeks...I have been fighting some depression due to the conditions with my back and hip (NO IT'S NOT FROM RUNNING!) I have had physical therapy, several injection one to the sciatica and one to the SI at this point with no relief and even though I do feel much better and less pain when I run - it is hard to get myself out there on a typical day to do it because I get into this poor me mode.
The weather for the race was actually was a light rain most of the day with some heavier rains sporadically and light winds with a few gusts but nothing unbearable. I think without the rain and winds it would have been tough with the heat. Cathie, Troy and I ran the entire run together and had a blast!!! I had taken a surfing lesson the friday before the event and Chris my surfing instructor was waiting for me at mile 20 with a stella in a plastic bottle for me to take along with me.
 Tanner was waiting at the finish with my 50 states finisher shirt and it was so cool seeing how big of a smile he had!!! It really didnt feel any different then any other events? Im not sure if it is because it was kinda an unplanned goal and one that finished much faster then when I started thinking it out? I just know I'm ready for the New Years Eve and New Years Day Double Double Event.  Through out this blog are different write ups about most of the states I have been to - I usually type fast, nor do I prof read so read at your own risk. It is more for me to recollect later and for my son if he choses to.