Sunday, January 2, 2011

Back in the Game, Hopefully

My leg has been pain-free for over a month now, and it's now or never as far as beginning to train for Boston. I'm 14 weeks away from the Boston Marathon, which probably means I won't have enough time to get into Ironwoman shape like I was when I qualified for it in the first place. Nevertheless, I will be more than happy just to run the thing and finish with a reasonable -- even a mediocre -- time.

Here's the thing: I was doing great with cross training all through October and November and well into December. I was almost at Ironman distance in the pool, and halfway there on the bike, and biking and swimming pretty religiously. Then The Pain appeared. No, not a leg pain. This was a "female trouble" kind of pain. It. Was. Horrible. It was first treated as a UTI. Then it turned out to not be a UTI. I went for a pelvic ultrasound. They couldn't see anything. By now it was time to go home for Christmas. I'd been walking around for a week bent in half, unable to eat much because I felt so bloated and sick all the time, and in major pain. I ate Midol, Tums, Gas-X, Vitamin I, etc. like candy and none of them made a bit of difference. I was pretty much positive I had either an ovarian cyst (actually one on each side, because the pain was the same on both sides) or else ovarian cancer. Naturally, being a good hypochondriac, I convinced myself it was the latter. So now I didn't even care if I could run the Boston Marathon or not, I just didn't want to die. But I also didn't want to tell anyone about it, since it was Christmas and I didn't want to ruin any of my family members' vacation. So I went to my mom's house after getting the ultrasound, suffered miserably the entire time, and mostly hid in my room writhing in pain. Heat on my lower abdomen was the only thing that brought any kind of relief. I somehow managed to make it through vacation without anyone knowing anything was wrong, but on my drive back home the pain was finally so bad that I had to stop in Bakersfield, call my mom, call Tim, and tell them I couldn't go any further. Tim drove up to get the dogs so I wouldn't have to deal with them (9 hours each way from Tucson to Bakersfield); my mom drove down from home, spent the night in the motel with me in Bakersfield while we debated constantly whether I needed to go to the emergency room or not, and then she drove me back to Tucson. That was one of the worst days of my life. I don't think I have ever been in so much pain, and hope to never be again. Once back in Tucson, Mom and Tim forced me to go to Urgent Care. They couldn't really do anything at Urgent Care, but they did prescribe me my beloved little anxiety pill Clonazepam. (I was on that pill one other time in my life, when I thought my inability to breathe was due to impending heart failure but it actually turned out to be due to major stress inflicted by a doomed relationship.) After popping a couple Clonazepams, I realized that about 75% of my troubles were likely due to the fact that I was perseverating on this pain being cancer.

Long story short: I FINALLY found a female gynecologist to replace my male general practitioner (the one who squirms when I ask him embarrassing sex questions ("Doctor, I get the blinding migraines from orgasms whether I'm having them with another person or by myself; what does that MEAN?") and who also, incidentally, told me he thought I had a brain tumor causing the aforementioned headaches. I never liked the guy; good riddance. If I'm having female trouble I want it in the hands of someone who looks at nothing but female anatomy all day, every day. This doctor was so awesome she makes me want to get pregnant just so I can see her more often. She told me it was most likely something that would self-resolve but that she would schedule a sonogram for three weeks from now just in case I was still having the pain. I had horrible pain and bloating on New Year's Eve, and since then... nothing. I feel like nothing was ever wrong and I could go out and run a marathon right now if I wanted to. Gee, I think what happened was that the cycle came around again and the thing self-resolved, who would've thought?

Anyway! Yesterday was the first day of 2011 and I did not want to let one more day go by without running. So I set out to do 1 mile, that was it. I was going to do it at a slow jog, not one bit faster. But once I got out, it was such a beautiful day, and I remembered how running can feel like an exhilarating grand tour, where you're moving slow enough that you don't miss anything beautiful the way you do on a bike. I loved looking at the desert and the city and even the pavement under my feet. I extended my run to 3 miles. I did go slow because I had no choice. I was only able to maintain 10:00 pace and even that was hard. But! I didn't walk, and I didn't quit. I got my 3 miles in. And the leg pain and the female pain both seem to be gone. If only they can stay that way for another 14 weeks...

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