End of Summer Health Update

13 08 2010

Wow. It is already mid-August. Where did the time go? When you are spending most of your time either in Kaiser, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or wiped out trying to recover, time flies. I don’t have anything like cancer or the like, but it has been a very long, strange, trip.

I’ve been not feeling right for the last couple of years. High stress levels have always been the norm for me, which is an unfortunate, not to mention unhealthy, situation.  Mid-2009, I started noticing I was having serious energy and focus. I knew it had been coming along for a long time.  I have not been able to focus on training, which is my major stress relief.  My racing was a mess and injury recovery was not happening.  I had been having serious asthma attacks, laryngitis, and weight gain.  Something was off.

By mid April, I was trying to tie up responsibilities.  It had been suggested to me to limit stress long before this, however I don’t believe in leaving people high-and-dry.  By the first part of May, I knew I had to cut myself a break.  I was so fatigued that I couldn’t get out of bed! I tried to train and was having problems simply walking with the dog. This was causing more stress.  In an effort to get myself going, I went to do a little work using the seats at Red Rocks amphitheatre.

It was a beautiful day, a little warm, but I had brought hydration supplies.  I got maybe 1/3 of the way through my warming up and I felt stiff. I was having a little trouble breathing and started coughing. Sadly, this is all normal to me.  I figured it was just a result of my being inactive.  Um …

I was about 100 meters from my bag out in the sun when I had a resumption of Virginia Beach. As I wrote before, that was my scariest race ever because I couldn’t breathe and everything hurt. Terrified me and friends around me.  In this case, I was out at Red Rocks and I would have to get home. I drove out by myself. Not a good situation. I was able to talk with a friend of mine who is a fellow asthmatic and a nurse. We got me home, via Kaiser.

Interestingly, I had an appointment with my regular doctor the next day.  I had to have everything from blood work on down and I had already decided it was time to go on the steroid therapy she had been trying to get me on to stop the attacks.  I was pretty demoralized by it, but I had also “had it” with the health nonsense.  If I was truly going to cut some space for myself and re-evaluate my direction, I needed to get me in order.

The next day was an amazing turning point.

I normally have a lot of trouble with blood tests, but they were able to get it out pretty fast.  I went along to breakfast. I wasn’t really hungry, which has been problematic.  My appointment was at 1 p.m. and I stepped out of breakfast at 10 a.m. I was prepared to sit and read.  It turned out that they could take me earlier. That doesn’t happen often. It was a good thing they did this time.

Since Dr. F. knows how hard it was for me to say “Ok – it is time for the steroids,” she started ordering tests. EKG, breathing tests, and more. Pretty much everything they could do in their office followed by another non-fasting blood test! I was on FaceBook with my buddy Steve G. who said “Lizzy – it doesn’t sound like asthma but vocal cord disorder.” I went in at 10:30 a.m. and I got out at 2:30 p.m. with several sheets of appointments to make from my throat to heart to lungs to right knee.  Reading the words “surgery,” “specialist,” and “cardiology” doesn’t keep my blood pressure down.  My blood work, for the first time, was a mess.  My blood pressure all over the place, and I was in that horrible place of nobody really knowing what was wrong.

For the entire summer, I have not been working but learning my way to navigate four different Kaiser’s including one hospital. I also now have a pass in to Saint Joseph’s Hospital through October. I have had scopes put down my sinus passages to my stomach, drunk barium, had full scanning, and allergy tests.  I’ve been scratched, poked, and prodded.  In the mean time, I’ve gone home completely exhausted and overwhelmed with just the things that I hadn’t been able to take care of over the past bit of time. 

I don’t know what was worse, being told by the throat surgeon I didn’t have something then having the asthma/allergy specialist say that I am the poster child for Vocal Cord Dysfunction and my case is extremely advanced.  The throat surgeon found the two ulcers in the esophagus, and the person analyzing the barium test found healed ones in my stomach.  I think it was that doc, I could have been wrong. There have been so many over the past few days.  EKG, ECG, and treadmill. Wires and cables and allergic reactions. All during the heat of Denver.

We are, hopefully, nearing the end of it all.  Speech therapy to completely re-train my throat muscles, completely re-learn how to breathe, and how to not fall back into bad habits.  I am dealing with stomach issues that have taken out my esophagus all the way up to my tonsils. My lungs are OK but my neck and vocal cord muscles have to be completely retrained. I’m dealing with the knee.  The hardest bit of it is the cardiac business.  They can’t exactly put their finger on what is going on, but a lot of it has to do with a history of unresolved stress. We’re coming down to the end of the road with it however.

I am having to deal with meds for a while and I am OK with that because we all know that I’ll get myself straight and stay on only what is absolutely necessary.

I’ve lost track of time. I’ve also got an amazing group of friends who aren’t used to me being down at all.  I have talked a lot on Facebook about what has been going on because this is a bit of a public forum, however the upshot has been friends who have gotten themselves checked out for the first time in years.  

The big thing for me is realizing how amazing my friends have been.  I’ve got friends going through cancer treatments right now and they’ve been right behind me.  My friends with Crohn’s and Colitis have been really understanding through this because they, too, know the frustration of doctors poking and prodding and not knowing what is going on.  That unknowing is the worst. 

Where things stand right now is learning how to completely rebuild and understand me from right now.  It is that situation of understanding how important it is to be honest with your doctor and yourself.  I am not 21 anymore – thank God. Here’s to a new season, new me, and new life!

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2 responses

13 08 2010
kerri

Hey Lizzy,
I was keeping tabs on the FB updates, but thanks for laying it all out. I hope that they fully figure out what’s totally going on with you soon so you can get back at ALL the awesome you do, healthy :-).

Hugs from Canada,
–Kerri

15 08 2010
teamshep

Hey Kerry-
Thanks kiddo! Here is to self-knowledge and not letting limiting issues – well – limit!
Hugs-
Lizzie

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