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Where my first DNF turns to far, far worse

by John on June 5th, 2012

This weekend was the Virginia Wine Half-Marathon. I knew things were going to be difficult when my wife’s aunt died — the funeral, you see, was at 11. The half-marathon was two hours away. The half-marathon started at 7.

In other words, I needed to run a course that I didn’t know in two hours, leave immediately, catch luck with lights, and magically change . . . but I was ready to do it all.

So, I left Friday night & stayed with my fellow runners, leaving them early because I had to get a good parking spot and still pick up my packet. And, a good parking spot I did get . . . but I worried that it took me nearly 45 minutes to drive what should have taken me 20 minutes. Simply, traffic grew increasingly more logjammed as you got closer to the winery hosting the event. With the last wave of buses anticipated a mere 15 minutes before the start, I wasn’t sure what would happen with the schedule.

After grabbing my packet, nature whispered a little note that, just maybe, I wanted to visit the port-a-potties. And then, when I was done, it whispered again. And then, before I could stand up, it yelled.

So, yeah, I don’t know if it had been something I ate, or a virus I picked up along the way, or something else, but . . . I wasn’t going to run. I left the parking lot at 7:00, as there were still miles of traffic working their way into the event . . . so, something tells me that I wasn’t going to get to start at 7, anyway . . . and what would have had me miss the funeral, and that would have been bad. Family is always, always the most important. And you attend a funeral for the living, not the departed.

Anywho, I had to stop a couple of times along the way.

Ain’t I sexy?

Anyway, I made it to the funeral, which was a lovely service. I think I remained conscious for about 10 minutes after getting home. I slept from about 2 in the afternoon until 6 in the morning, with periods of consciousness never longer than 30 minutes. I’d lie down and I’d start feeling like I was burning up, from the inside. Then, some time later, I’d wake up, freezing, drenched in sweat. Repeat throughout the day & night . . . it really, really wasn’t fun.

The next day, I made my way to my organ for church, and then to see some family. And then back home. Where I lied down, and things just didn’t feel right. When I tried to breathe deeply, I, simply, couldn’t. It was like somebody was trying to bear-hug me. I decided to check myself into the ER.

While there, they took me back right away — my temperature was fluctuating between 99.9 and 102.7, and I started a “very deep” cough. My lungs were listened to, with the nurse stating, simply, “intriguing.”

Hours passed — They drew more blood than I may have ever donated. I had an inconclusive chest x-ray. I had an EKG. I had CAT scans of my belly and chest. They had me pee so that they could look at things.

Everything came back “mostly normal.” My lungs were crackling, so I obviously had something there, but with a clear X-Ray (meaning no pneumonia . . . or, at least, no pneumonia that showed on the x-ray, which, it sounds, can happen at the first onset of pneumonia), so likely some bronchitis. The CT scans showed no blood clots or anything abnormal. My heart beat is a bit slow at rest, but, well, I work out a lot, and that’s to be expected — it’s beating in the proper sequence. There was nothing funny in my pee other than the fact that I was dehydrated — and considering the amount I was sweating, that was to be expected.

The only thing amiss was some random level in the blood tests, showing that I was fighting some unidentified infection. Thinking through things, combining everything with my medical history, I’m brought back to Lyme disease.

The summer of 1999, I never found a tick, but I did have all of the tell-tale symptoms of Lyme disease — a headache so bad that I couldn’t make myself go to work (and I was an intern then, working between semesters of college, so “not going to work” meant “not getting paid”), a fever that lasted for a full week, no matter what I did to battle it, the bulls-eye rash, pain in each & every “trouble area.”

I’m writing this, now, as I’m fully on the mend . . . I don’t feel good, but I feel much better, and I feel like I’m going to continue getting better. So, by the time you’ll read this, my whole ordeal will be little more than a memory, but I think I can say that I had a nasty criss-cross of a nasty case of bronchitis and a random happenstance resurgence of Lyme (there is significant debate about the long-term effect of Lyme disease on one’s body — I’ll put myself in the “the shit can come back to bite you, and it sure does suck when that happens, but it’s not worth taking antibiotics 365 days a year” camp). When I thought about the pain I had Sunday night:

  • a headache that was debilitating, especially in the crown of my head
  • pain in my coccyx, which I broke 6 years ago but hasn’t bothered me a whole lot since it recovered
  • an ache in my right-big-toe, causing me to walk with a limp, which I broke 2 years ago and, again, hadn’t had any issues with since
  • pain in my right elbow, which always hurts, but, on Sunday night, really, really hurt.
  • a fever that I just could not shake

I figured I was dealing with the same, again, though I had not been in any areas that were high danger for tick bite.

I took a day off . . . of work, of looking at a computer, of writing, of parenting (thankfully, I have a truly wonderful wife and mother). I stayed in bed. I watched movies. I napped. I drank tea, and water, and a sugary orange drink.

I think, sometime soon, I need to revisit the Virginia winery which hosted the event and I need to run the 13.1 . . . maybe meet up with some friends on a night that they have some evening entertainment. Run 13.1 miles, drink some water, cool myself off, then sit down on the lawn for a concert and a picnic and a bottle of wine with some friends — I mean, doesn’t that sound good?

So, in short, this was a scary weekend . . . but, well, I’m teaching myself that there’s a whole lot worse than not finishing a race, because Sunday night, well, that was the very last thing on my mind. And I’m the kind of guy who obsesses about his races after he’s done with them.

  1. Chrissy permalink


  2. I’m so glad to hear that you are okay but sorry to hear about the race and even sorrier about Duffy’s aunt.

    But oh, did you make the right decision.
    You were there for your family and then able to fall apart and put yourself back together without the added depletion of having tried to run that half marathon.

    At least you know for sure this is only a blip on your running radar and you’ll be back out there pushing yourself soon.

    And at a winery, no less.
    Not a bad way to stage a follow-up 13.1.

    Wishing you luck, health and peace to the family soon.

    • I’m dead certain that, if I had tried to run, that it would have been the first time that my “emergency contact” had been contacted.

      I’m hoping for a quick little run this weekend, just to test things out, and then to get back to business, more seriously, next week . . . provided this damned fever stays away.

  3. Hmmm, you say your symptoms started AFTER sleeping over at the friends home? What kind of friends are these? Maybe they were trying to take you out of the game?

    I’m glad to read you’re on the mend. And yes, a nice long run with a post run picnic sounds FABULOUS! Looking forward to that one day with you, my friend.

    • It was @LLA_Princess, so, yeah, you know her :-p

      I actually thought half of what was wrong with me on Saturday morning was from a lack of sleep (I was on a floor in a room filled with hot women, so of course I wasn’t going to sleep great — I mean, I know I fart in my sleep, the hot women don’t need to know that!), so I’m actually really glad that I was able to talk myself out of running.

      And yeah, doesn’t a long run through beautiful country followed by a picnic with wine sound just about perfect right now?

      I think I need to make my way to Napa, pick a course and an ending winery, and challenge this hot little runner I know to a road race. The winner picks up the first bottle of wine (because they’d be at the winery first)

  4. Glad you’re on the mend. Take care of yourself!

  5. You even manage to get sick in a big way.
    Glad to hear you’re on the mend!

  6. dude. everything that happens to you is epic. seriously. Like Cam said, you even sick big.

    cut that out.

    be well.

    • I’m certainly getting better — right now, I’m back at the office and feeling a bit like I’ve been run over by a truck, but I am getting better.

      I worked from home on Tuesday & Wednesday — it’s a shame how easy it is to take for granted the ability to lie down & not wear pants when you need/want to.

  7. I’m so glad you’re ok, but it sounds like it was a truly shitty weekend. Yes, I meant that.

    I recently had bronchitis – knocked me on my ASS for a full week, then the recovery really was about 2 more weeks. When I mentioned to a friend (who’s married to a doctor), “Damn, I have this bronchitis and it’s been way worse than I thought.” She said, “Is it viral? (yes) Viral bronchitis is one of the worst and hardest sicknesses to recover from. Truly awful.”

    I feel your pain. Take care.

    • I feel myself getting better — I mean, just about every hour that passes has me feeling a bit stronger (until I hit an especially bad coughing fit, and that’s always a setback, but I’m even bouncing back from those now). But, I can’t imagine myself “back to full strength” from where I am. And I’m a million miles from where I was just a few days ago.

      I’m hoping to get out to run, if only for a little bit, this weekend . . . just to let my body know that I won this round 🙂

  8. That right there sounds like an adventure into the 9th circle of hell.

    No thanks.

    But, I’m very glad you are on the mend.

    • Sunday night was really, really not a good night in the life of John — but, yes, I think I’m finally back to my (not quite sane) self.

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