Monday, August 17, 2020

Training 08-10 - 08-16

 Wrap Up: 65.6 miles on 7 days and 10 runs. ....(Strava numbers).

Not terrible but still nothing special other than I continue to run everyday.  I haven't missed a day since July 16 (a month ago) and only missed two days since late June.  I haven't felt like I've really improved much but I've lost a few lbs here and there and know that I'm healthier than I was back in the early summer after months of down time after my surgery.  I'm not sure how much more I'll be able to progress, but it really doesn't matter much right now. At this point in time, all I want to do is continue to give my lungs the workout they need in order to have the best chances against any impending infection, etc.  I also want to be able to show up again sometime this fall down on the seacoast and be able to hang with those guys from start to finish in a long run. That will be a big win for me if I can pull that off.  For now, nothing long this past week. Just some smaller mileage and consistency to keep things going.

08-16 - Sunday: miles (roads) - solo very easy morning miles.  Then 8 miles (roads) at lunch.
08-15 - Saturday: miles (roads) - solo roads. Uptempo.  
08-14 - Friday: miles (roads) - with Darin from the house.
08-13 - Thursday: miles (grass). Bangs around the baseball fields solo at lunch.  Then later, 5.1 miles up and back on Lead Mine Rd. 
08-12 - Wednesday: miles (roads) - solo in Center Ossipee. Then 6 miles (trails) out and back on snowmobile trails from beach. Swimming after.
08-11 - Tuesday: miles (roads) - solo out and back from house at lunch.
08-10 - Monday: 10.3 miles (roads) - relatively easy lake bang with Darin from beach.  Legs felt surprisingly good after the previous day's long run.   Swimming after.  

'Most afternoons' view.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Training 08-03 - 08-09

Standard beach view from Sunday after I got home...

Wrap Up: 73.8 miles 
on 7 days and 9 runs. ....(Strava numbers). 

Good week numbers-wise and great fun down on the seacoast on Sunday to wrap up.  I went way over my head w/ the long run.  Was falling asleep on the drive home and was dry heaving in the driveway when I got back afterwards, but it was all good.  Hot and humid most all week.  Haven't felt all that spry lately but I'm still just getting out there.  Was down to 145 lbs this week so that's good.  Still have more to go but all I'm doing is running and seeing what happens with it. 

08-09 - Sunday: 19.7 miles (roads) - Seacoast Crew run at 6:30am.  Up at 4am, 90 min drive down.  Not enough food (zero) or hydration beforehand. Not used to the morning run scenario, let alone a long one. I figured it would be a nice 'cool' run being that early in the AM on the seacoast.  By halfway we were drenched by the humidity.  Guys were dropping like flies. 10 guys at one point (with various ones being picked up along the way including my old college teammate Anthony Balakier).  Ended at Pierce  Island with 5.  Good fun until about 16 when I started to bonk. Held on for dear life all of the sudden until about 17.5 and then had to stop for a few seconds to collect my thoughts and have a drink while the remaining group continued on.  I gathered myself together and started jogging to the tune of about an 8 min mile out of New Castle and back to Pierce Island where we started.  Still averaged 7:19s for the whole thing which is better than I was imagining it would go ( I was, ahem, promised it would be about 7:30s to entice me down there )... 6 hours of beach after I got home. 

The 5 who made it back to Pierce Island out of 10 total at one point...various guys pulling off/out with injury and stomach issues, etc. (and one, Mike G. who actually ran longer via a different route at the end).

08-08 - Saturday: miles (roads) later in the afternoon after working in the yard all day.  Got an invite  earlier that day from Matt Sawyer to head down to Portsmouth for a 20 banger on the seacoast. I couldn't resist even though I've done nothing even close to 20 (really half is about all I've done this year).  Figured I'd take the bait so I went easy today.  

08-07 - Friday:  6 miles (roads) lunch run solo. Neighborhood wandering.  Then later on, 5.4 miles (roads/trails) from the beach. First 3 w/ Darin (who was going longer) and then I turned onto the dirt road behind Pine Tree Power and headed back.  Cut it a little short as it was very humid and I wanted to get in the water.  Beach after.

08-06 - Thursday: 10 miles (roads/trails) lunch run solo from house. Madison 5k course + railroad tracks and trails up through Chain of Ponds to Madison Shores neighborhood, then back out on Boulder Rd. and back 113 to the house.  Easy run with some trails and hills. 
Then later on, 6 miles w/ Darin from the beach. Very easy out and back on Ossipee Lake Rd.

08-05 - Wednesday: 6 miles (roads) solo from house.  Out and back. Slightly honest pace. Very hot and humid. Beach later.

08-04 - Tuesday: 7.4 miles (roads/trails/bushwhack) solo from house. Trails up through Cascades then out and up to Downs Rd. and the Madison highlands.  Tried to whack up to the summit of Lyman Mtn. but it was so overgrown I got lost and it was just too gnarly to continue so I turned around and bailed. Added an up-and-over of Pound Rd. on the way back.  Got back in just before the storm rolled in. Extended elevation and time on feet.

08-03 - Monday: 8 miles (roads) at lunch. 113/41 + Kingswood loop (solo). Beach later.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Training 07-27 - 08-02

Wrap Up: 64.1 miles on 7 days and 10 runs. ....(Strava numbers). 

Better week numbers-wise.  Back to back weeks without missing a day.  Not too many longer runs other than a couple of 9+ milers at the start, and a broken 11 miler on Friday.  But it's an improvement from last week.  I continue to neglect everything else and spend most of my time w/ the girls at the beach.  Thank god for the beach this year.  With everything else relatively risky and suspect (even though things are open), the local town beach remains a spot we can count on for the most part to be safe and secure.  The girls have their schoolmates and friends there every day (same groups of people) to play with and it's been a blessing for sure.  I still can't dive though but my tan is coming along great.

As far as July goes, I actually ran 263 miles with only 2 days of zeros.  I actually laced up the shoes 40 separate times (technically) for runs.  One was the split run so maybe it was more like 39.  Either way, it's progress.

08-02 - Sunday: 5.1 miles (roads) - Neighborhood wandering at lunch before some treasure hunting.

08-01 - Saturday: 5.1 miles (roads/trails) Solo from beach.  
Then later: 6.2 miles (roads) from beach w/ Darin. Neighborhoods. Spent entire day at the beach.

07-31 - Friday: 5.1 miles (roads/trails) solo from beach.  Neigborhoods + snomo trails.
Then almost immediately after (only 10 min rest): 6.2 miles (roads) from beach w/ Darin. Neighborhoods. Relatively hard run.  Lake after.  Basically an 11.3 mile run with a 10 min gap in hte middle.

07-30 - Thursday: 6.2miles (roads/trails). From beach w/ Darin. Tamworth neighborhood + snowmo trails.  Beach after.

07-29 - Wednesday: 5 miles (roads/dirt roads) solo from house.  Forrest Pines / Railroad tracks.
Then after work: 6.2 miles (roads) with Darin from beach.  Beach after.

07-28 - Tuesday: 9.7 miles (roads/trails) solo from Beach.  Snowmo trails and neighborhood loops.  Again kept tempo up despite the hot and humid temps. Beach after.

07-27 - Monday: 9.3 miles (roads / trails) solo from Beach.  Scooted over to White Lake and out to Depot Rd. and back.  Very hot and humid but kept the pace honest.  Beach after.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Training 07-20 - 07-26

Wrap Up: 57.7 miles 
on 7 days and 9 runs. ....(Strava numbers). 

A little lower than what I wanted but got out every day (technically).  Almost missed Monday but got out. Have been feeling OK despite a little discomfort in the lung here and there.  Felt good enough to do a controlled High St. loop on Wednesday without issues.  One 8 miler and the rest lower 5s and 6s. The girls are getting great in the water this year.  They are swimming out and back to the raft without vests.  They are both swimming around underwater now and diving down.  Only Morgan so far is brazen enough to jump from the raft.  Tabby will follow suit hopefully soon (as she always does).

07-26 - Sunday: 6 miles (roads) - Out and back from house (113/41). Entire day at beach after.

07-25 - Saturday: 6 miles (roads) early (solo) out and back on 113/41. Spent most of the day at the beach.

07-24 - Friday: 6 miles (roads) out and back at lunch (113/41) solo.
Then after work: 6.6 miles (roads) from beach w/ Darin. Lake after.

07-23 - Thursday: 8 miles (roads). Solo from house. 113/41 w/ Kingswood Loop. Beach later on obviously.

07-22 - Wednesday: 11 miles (roads/dirt roads) solo from house. High St. Loop. Felt pretty good. 

07-21 - Tuesday: 5 miles (roads) at lunch. Solo. Out and back on 113/41. 
Then after work: 6 miles (trails) easy from beach w/ Darin. Lake after.

07-20 - Monday: 3 miles (roads) easy late in the day (solo).  Almost took a zero.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Training 07-13 - 07-19

Wrap Up: 60.3 miles on 6 days and 9 runs. ....(Strava details).

Unfortunately on Friday I had a flare up of my infarction site on my left lung and it was nearly  knocking me to the ground.  As I type this on Monday morning (July 20), it is still 'there' and I can tell it's not quite right.  It was so bad on Friday that I had to stop work at around 1 and take some heavy narcotics which I hate to do. It affects me for days.  I was essentially junk the rest of the day.  I had to take more at bedtime and throughout the night I basically spent the time laying there hallucinating and staring at the clock as I was completely tingling and numb from head to toe.  But at least the pain was gone. I was exhausted on Saturday though.  The good  news is that I had very little 'pain' the rest of the weekend.  I just had some occasional discomfort in that area.   I have heard it is most likely adhesion of the lung tissue that has scarred up and sticking to things it shouldn't stick to...then pull away occasionally.  It is some of the worst pain I've experienced short of my issues in October and surgery complications in February.  I have had it crop up a couple times here and there and it is not pretty. I teeter on going to the ER when it happens.  In this pandemic the last thing I want to do is roll up into the hospital.  On the running side, I continued on my pace of about 10 miles per day average.  I didn't hit 70 because of the unexpected miss on Friday.  I wasn't planning on back filling too many miles on Saturday/Sunday but rather just wanted to hit an average of about 10 per day on the days I'm able to run.

07-19 - Sunday: 8 miles (roads) - Out and back 'earlier in the day from the beach. Moderate pace. Felt surprisingly good despite the heat and humidity.  Beach all day.  Multiple cannonballs and dives from the raft.
Later on: 6 miles (roads) - Out and back again from the beach w/ Darin for first 3 miles.  Then turned and headed back 3 solo.  Very hot and humid still. More beaching after.

07-18 - Saturday: 6 miles (roads/trails) with Darin from the beach.  Spent most of the day at the beach.

07-17 - Friday: zero. Chest pain and meds most of the day.

07-16 - Thursday: 8.5 miles (roads/snowmo trails). Solo JV 'Lake Bang' from the beach.  Hit the snomobile trail off of Lead Mine to cut down on the distance.  I haven't run in there in a while.  Very grown in.  Deer flies were horrible.  Amazingly no ticks on me when I popped out the other side.  Beach after.

07-15 - Wednesday: 5.3 miles (roads/trails) Solo from house at lunch.  Explored the new conditions of the main powerline swath that runs up through the center of Madison.  It still doesn't have a crossable bridge up north of Forest Pines Rd.  But it looks great. If they ever fix that bridge, it will make that a great run north/south.
Later: 7.2 miles (dirt roads/trails) with Ryan Welts from Great Hill.  Hemenway State Forest + the climb up to the top of Great Hill Firetower at the end.

07-14 - Tuesday: 6 miles (roads) at lunch. Solo. Out and back on 113/41. Quicker than usual after a relaxed first mile.  Temps were a lot cooler.
Then after work: 5 miles (roads) easy up and back on E.Madison Rd.

07-13 - Monday: 8 miles (roads) with Darin after work from the beach.  Very easy out and back on Ossipee Lake Rd.  Swimming after.  Only 1 cannonball off the raft but got in a couple sailor dives to keep the danger levels high.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Training 07-06 - 07-12

Sunset view almost daily during the summer for us (weather permitting).
Wrap Up: 70.7 miles on 7 days and 10 runs. .... Zero days off. First full week of running since I cannot remember when....although it felt mostly like a step in the wrong direction at times.  I had a call with my doctor (scheduled check-in that was put on my calendar months ago) to discuss how I have been doing since my blood clots and post-op recovery.  I asked about possibly feeling adverse affects from my now daily routine (since October) of a blood thinner.  I have felt brutally tired this week with the heat.  He wasn't really sure whether or not the blood thinners would make me more fatigued than normal but tended not to think so. So I guess I just have to see what happens as the summer stretches out.  Glad to have hit 70 miles though... which is probably the number I'll try to shoot for for now. If you don't see any more updates from me after this one for a while, you know I've quit again.

07-12 - Sunday: 10 miles (roads) with Darin at noon from the beach. Very hot. Out and back on Ossipee Lake Rd.  Led Darin through first few and then he drifted back a bit. I yo-yo'd with him for a few miles trying to pull him along and then just rolled back the last couple miles.  Last mile was 6:20 and I felt nice and smooth surprisingly. 67 minutes.  Lived in the lake the rest of the day.  Probably about 30 cannonballs off the raft.

07-11 - Saturday: 10 miles (roads) solo later in the day between (and partially during) thunderstorms. Another hot-as-hell day and I tried to wait until the rain cooled things down but it really didn't.  It was still super hot and humid.  Went up and over Conway Rd. down to Rt. 16 in Albany and then turned and headed back. Wanted to stop at 4. Felt really flat again (my body, not the elevation).

07-10 - Friday: 8 miles (roads) at lunch solo from house. Again, very hot and humid. Out and back on 41/113 + Kingswood loop.  Ossipee Lake after.  Found 28 coins in the water. Private summer camp that has been operating since the 1920s.

07-09 - Thursday: 5 miles (roads) at lunch solo from house.  VERY hot. Up to the top of E.Madison Rd. and back down. Felt flat. Deer flies are out.
Then another 5.6 miles (roads) from the beach w/ Darin. Very easy. Balls hot out. Swimming after.

07-08 - Wednesday: 10 miles from home at lunch. Solo. 113 to High St. / Washington Hill / McGregor Hill / Deer Hill and back. Stopped at 10 and walked last mile home. Very hot, nothing to eat yet, very little water, and a lot of climbing....all coupled with being out of shape... tough run.  Still managed 7:16s overall with 1100 feet of climbing on a very hot day.  Lake after.

07-07 - Tuesday: 5 miles (roads) at lunch solo from house.  Pretty hot. Same ole' back and forth on 113/41. Lots of vacation traffic still.
Then another 6 miles (roads) w/ Darin Brown from the beach.  Swimming after.

07-06 - Monday: 5 miles (roads) at lunch solo from house.  Relatively easy out and back on 113/41. Then another 6 miles (roads) after work w/  Darin Brown and 7th grader Patrick Laughland who is now running under Tim Livingston and training w/ the high schoolers at camp this summer.  11 miles total.  Swimming after.

Earlier this week I saw this article on about Harris' Pelham Inn closing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lengthy shutdown it had to endure.  I was very sad to see this. I used to run around this place weekly when I lived in Salem. It was part of a very enjoyable 11.2 mile loop that I did all the time from my house in Salem.  There was a really nice climb up and around the back side of it on Ledge Rd. that I used to 'simulate' my Mt. Washington road race strategy on (which was basically just trying not to stop and walk).  I do miss some of those runs down there, but mostly because I was in way better shape then... and so much younger...

Rainbow appearance above the house on Saturday...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

June Wrap Up

Yes....this is a wrap up for June's 'running' (and I use that term loosely).   Now that June is a wrap, I can actually do some analysis to figure out just how big of a bag of crap I have become physically... During the last couple months, I've been running 'most' days during the week and hardly any weekend days because of multiple reasons...the biggest is laziness....but mostly because I'm just enjoying the summer w/ the girls and keeping busy with everything else.  In May I managed 20 runs but took 14 days off (including a stretch of 6 days off in a row for reasons I can't even remember).  In June I managed 25 runs but took 9 days off (including all 8 weekend days and only 1 day during the week).  So things are 'improving' a little.

I'm not sure how my body is adjusting exactly, with regards to the loss of about 10% of my lung. The pulmonologist told me I probably wouldn't notice.  My doctor thinks I will.  Darin is convinced I will but by how much, it's hard to tell.  A couple other runners I've talked to who went through what I went through have told me they've never been the same.  I guess time will tell.  I have noticed that running in the heat seems a lot worse this year for me.  I usually didn't have problems in the heat.  Granted I'm out of shape and heavier by a bit, but I'm not 100% sure my health issues over the last 8 months have anything to do with it just yet. I think I just need more consistency and volume before I can accurately say for sure whether or not I'm just going to be a 'weekday warrior' from now on.

June 29 [Monday] - PM: 8.3 miles solo roads. 113/41/Kingswood neighborhood loop. Pouring rain and slightly cool... decided to go out and run a 'big boy' distance for a change...late in the day.  Most of my runs have been 5-6 miles lately.  Kept it steady and controlled and felt great until 1 mile to go. Then it seemed like work all of the sudden.  Still happy with the effort. Relatively flat runs will do that to you.

June 30 [Tuesday] - PM: 8 miles  roads w/ Darin from the house.  Talked about his strategies moving forward, for beating Dave Dunham in 5Ks.

Monday, May 4, 2020

May 4 [Monday]

May 4 [Monday] - Like an idiot...2 runs.  Probably a mistake at this point considering my state of physicality...

AM: 3 miles solo roads.

PM: 6 miles with Darin Brown from the beach. Snowmobile trails/railroad tracks.  Everyone and their dog (literally) is outside walking / biking/ jogging.  I guess it takes a global pandemic to get people (including me) to go outside and move their bodies.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

May 3 [Sunday]

May 3 [Sunday] - No running although it was a glorious day out.  Worked all day in the yard.  Busted my hump with heavy lifting....mostly granite cobbles and dirt.

Latest projects...

gigantic sandbox... 85 bags of far.  Still not even close to being filled.

start of a circular garden...ran out of bricks...more on order.

removing top layer of grass is brutal.

first delivery of some new color for the front yard.... since Sunday this has been added to.  

Saturday, May 2, 2020

May 2 [Saturday]

May 2 [Saturday] - 3.7 miles solo. Worked in the yard all day... Heavy lifting.  Went out for a late afternoon run and bonked almost immediately.  Turned and burned for home.  I'm a mess.

Friday, May 1, 2020

May 1 [Friday]

May 1 [Friday] - 8 miles with Darin and Nick Brown from the beach.  Big boy run for me.  Roads, snowmobile trail, single track, railroad tracks.  Out to Rt 16 in Ossipee and then back.   #noGainzRunning.  I need running shoes.

Monday, March 16, 2020


Just a quick (and maybe final update) for people who have reached out (some on here and a lot offline) after my last blog post.

I had a follow up CT scan in February (after having the PET scan which identified a couple of concerning spots in my chest between my lungs).  Initially the cardio-thoracic surgeons wanted to wait a couple of months before having another scan. They wanted to see if whatever was showing up on the PET scan was or was not due to my pulmonary emboli in October.  The scan came back with no change unfortunately. If anything, what was there was getting bigger.

I had a consult again with the pulmonologist in Portland and she got me right into the surgeon's office again in Scarborough (on the same day). They reviewed my scans going back 5-7 years and could track the growths in and around my thymus area which were steadily getting larger. They suggested I needed to have a thymectomy and remove the entire gland and all the fatty tissue and growths that were happening. Then, they could biopsy them without the danger of spreading if it was cancerous.

I went in for surgery on 2/26. They used the 'davinci robot' method of going in the side of my chest with 3 smaller incisions (rather than cracking through my ribs in the middle of my chest which would have been a much more invasive surgery). They put in a camera and two arms of the robot and took everything out. There were 2 tumors in there. One was attached to the pericardium (membrane around my heart) and one was attaching to my diaphragm. They took the entire thing out (the thymus, which in my case never went away and got larger as I got older), all the fatty tissue, both notes that were of concern, and a small piece of my pericardium (which the surgeon promised me I 'wouldn't miss').

I spent the rest of Wednesday into Thursday afternoon in recovery at Maine Med. The worst part aside from the deep chest pain was the drainage tube that was hooked into my side and up into my chest. Pulling that out the next day was awful.

I had Kristin and my dad come and get me and drive me home. 90 minutes of bumpy roads made for an uncomfortable trip. I also couldn't cough or god forbid, sneeze without serious pain. Later in the afternoon (once home), I was sitting in a chair and started to get really sore. I was on heavy meds and it wasn't working any longer. The local was wearing off and I was starting to realize that no matter how I was sitting, laying, walking around, etc. I couldn't resolve any of the pain. The pain was intensifying and going straight through my chest and into my back. It started to remind me of the exact pain I was having when I had my blood clots in October. By about 9 or 10pm I could no longer stand it. The oxycodone was having no effect at all. I had Kristin round up the girls and we hit the ER again.

In the ER at Memorial, I had the doctor who initially triaged me in the ER back in October for my clots. They got me hooked up to some IV and I got a dose of medicine to calm it down just enough for me to be comfortable. They put me through another CT scan. This time, it showed some CO2 in my chest and lower abdomen. This was from when they were deflating/inflating my lungs to do the surgery. Typically that wears off by walking around, etc. in recovery. But because I didn't get a room and was left in the recovery area all night (hospital was full), I didn't get out of bed for about 13 hours. I was literally discharged without having had any of that CO2 worked off (or as much as would have been needed). At this point, another doctor came in and he was the one who was assigned to me when I was in the ICU in October. He got on the phone with the surgeon to talk about the situation. He was reluctant to have me stay in the hospital. He confirmed the presence of the CO2 but indicated that the surgeon wasn't really all that concerned about the amount that was still present and said it should wear off. He also confirmed from the new CT scan that I had no new clots (as I thought I might have had due to coming off the blood thinners for surgery). He basically told me that because they didn't have an 'expert' on staff to deal with me and what I just had for the surgery, that they didn't feel comfortable holding me for 'pain management'. He wanted to get rid of me so I was basically discharged and told to just take more pain meds and maybe use a heating pad. I was kind of surprised but I really had other course to take.  They did offer that they could 'transfer' me to Maine Med, back where I had the surgery.  That would have been a nice ambulance ride that my insurance company would have loved to see.  I opted out.

So we came back home about midnight. It's funny that the hospital doesn't have an 'expert' on staff that specializes in what I was going through...but neither does my house.  Last I checked, I don't have a doctor living with me. So they rather would have me go home, then help me any further with my pain in the hospital. I was a bit disappointed to say the least and by the time I got home, all I could do was sit and stare at the floor in a chair and try not to think about some of the worst pain I have ever had to sit through. The only pain that I've ever had that was worse was when I had the clots in the hospital.

By about 6am I started to feel better. I started taking extra meds and it started to work. The surgeon also called in some dilaudid for me which really helped. That stuff is pretty strong. By Monday (so 5 days after surgery) I was able to completely stop the pain medicine all together and haven't had to take any since.

I had a follow up with my doctor and the surgeon a couple weeks ago (a week after the surgery) and the surgeon told me (with a slight grin) that quote 'that second doctor in the ER wanted nothing to do with you'. Pretty disappointing because I swear I was one of the only ones in the ER when I was there and I have inside insight into the operations over there. The amount of people that go into the ER (in the pre-COVID-19 days) was not overwhelming by means. I would have been better off in the hospital than home, that's for sure. And all the documentation I took home indicated to go to the hospital if I was having complications. Full disclosure but I DID call the surgeon's office before going to the ER. They paged the surgeon and he called me to discuss. He suggested that if I felt ANY worse than I did when I was in recovery, then I needed to go to the ER. Since I felt 1000x worse, I followed his advice.  He was great to work with and I'm glad to have had the surgery with him and his team.  The doctors at Memorial were also great for the most part and that team over there literally saved my life in October (for which I'm forever grateful).  I was just a bit disappointed that they really didn't want anything to do with me literally hours after I got home from surgery at their sister hospital.  At the very least, I could have gotten enough of an IV to try to get some sleep.  They could have wheeled me into the hallway.  I wouldn't have cared.  There was no one there.   But instead, I had to sit at home in excruciating pain for another 6 hours.  The transfer over to Maine Med. was unrealistic.

My primary care doctor did tell me that in his 38 years of practice, he's never had someone get their entire thymus removed. So that made me feel special. The surgeon told me that they do about 40 per year at Maine Med.

The best news since then was that the biopsies came back negative. Everything was benign. But it's good that they removed them now, otherwise I would have been in trouble later. I kind of got lucky that they found this in the scans because it was completely unrelated to my clots.

So now I'm done, at least for the time being. I don't have another doctor's visit until the summer (at least for now).

Hopefully this is the last time I'll have to do any sort of updates like this. I appreciate everyone's concern and kind words that reached out either on here or text/email, etc.  Since I didn't close the loop on here, I figured I would do so and let everyone know who didn't already ask me about an update.

I hope everyone is doing well now and your families are all safe and sound in this rather strange time  we are now in.  I wouldn't want to be in the hospital now. I think the timing of all this was spot on for me.  By the time I went back in for the followups, the masks and sanitizers were in full effect.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Back From the Dead, Hopefully

I’m not sure who is still out there that cares enough to check into this dark corner internet but I figured I’d work on a post to see if I can kickstart some sort of motivation to ‘blog’. Blogs seem a little old school nowadays but that’s probably why I have always liked having this space to rant and rave about things that only I deem to be important.... place I can post what I want and not have to deal with making it into a discussion thread or a back and forth.  A place where I can put a bunch of thoughts all together separated by three 'dots'... like that... and think that's an acceptable way to write.

As far as 2019 went, it was a great year for my family life.  I had a great summer with the girls (all 3 of them). The two youngest ones are turning into fine young ladies. The third is my lovely wife of 9 + years and who I've been with now for half my life.  I’ve seen a lot of growth with the kids this year. We had a great summer at the beach (most days) and hitting up events and the kids’ favorite ‘theme parks’ from the seacoast to northern NH. As far as ‘running’ goes, I had an ‘OK’ Spring of just running volume with little to no workouts (my usual approach over the last 6 or 7 years). I started racing regularly for a month and a half or so and started progressing very slowly in the right direction but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth for me. As a wise man told me, with running it’s all about balance. I had no real balance with the running/racing and family/work, etc. ….aka real life. I was forcing the running and was stressing (for really no reason) when I couldn’t balance it with my real-life duties. I wasn’t enjoying myself as I used to, and trying to maintain a racing schedule became more of a hassle than something I really wanted to do. It all came to a head in May when I tried to go to the Concord Rock n’ Race 5k midweek and ended up not even making it to Rt. 93 because of traffic. I had to turn around after 90 minutes in the car and head home because I wouldn't have made it in time. That was kind of it. I stopped running for a while after that. It just came to the point where I’d almost rather be doing anything else…literally anything else.

I ran sporadically in June/July/August/September when the opportunity hit me.  I was meeting up with Darin Brown for runs here and there but never more than a few times a week and usually at the last minute if I saw him pull into the beach parking lot when we were there and I just happened to have my running shoes and shorts with me.

In late September/October I started to get the itch again to get out there. I ran some trails and roads more consistently as the girls went back to school. In late October on a run up in the higher parts of town, I had to stop for a bit.  It was weird.  I felt a bit off and things weren’t exactly right. I thought at first I was just tired that day or maybe still out of shape. But I had been running with some consistency by that time, and had some previous good hilly runs that weren’t as bad, so it was certainly concerning.  I cut the run short and turned for home. A day or two later (not sure as I wasn’t keeping track of runs that closely) I met up with Darin for some road miles and felt horrible right away. I remember apologizing to him for the pace during the first quarter mile. We hit trails and I was pretty quiet. I was struggling to keep my breathing under control at a pretty slow pace. I was also noticing that deep breaths were starting to really hurt. It wasn’t that cold out so I was a little unsure as to why I was having this problem. The next day, I met Darin again from my house and we hit an 8 mile loop (the previous day had been also about 8 miles) and we hit a 7 min mile in some flat trail sections in the middle. I was feeling like it was sub 6. I really had to focus on the pace to keep with Darin which usually I don’t have to do on normal runs like this. At this point my breathing was an issue even when I wasn’t running. Deep breaths (especially through my nose) were painful in my lungs.

The next 2 days I didn’t run. I also didn’t sleep….at all. I could no longer lay down. Even on my back, sitting up in a sitting position in bed was not doable. I started to have severe pain in my sides and chest. It was unbearable. When I got through the first of the two sleepless nights, I managed to get through the day at work. When I was sitting in a chair and up and awake, it was manageable but once I started to get tired, it was miserable. I couldn’t relax at all in any position. I couldn’t put any pressure on my chest, back, or sides.

That second day after 2 sleepless nights (it was a Thursday), I went into the ER. By this point, I was basically in tears sitting in the room waiting for the doctor. They took blood. They came back in and the first thing the doctor said is that he wanted to get me right into a CT scan and that it was a ‘good thing’ I came in today. When I was in the CT scan, I had to lay down. I was literally screaming n pain. I had to put my arms above my head while in the machine. I was crying like a baby while trying to stay on the table. The woman doing the CT scan was trying to calm me down the whole time but there really was nothing she could do. Once it was finished, I basically collapsed off the table and onto the floor. They scraped me up and wheeled me back to the room.

While waiting in the room, tears streaming down my face and still unable to breathe without severe pain, Kristin came in. She knew I went to the ER but was trying to get ahold of me and couldn’t. I had my phone in my jacket and wasn’t able to get to it. She found me and came in right before the doctor came back. He came in and broke the news to me that my lungs were full of blood clots and I was extremely lucky I came in when I did. He gave me the rundown on what they were going to do but basically broke the news to me that this was life threatening and I had to be admitted. I had suffered a pulmonary embolism (or emboli because I had more clots than they could count). Once the dust cleared on that a bit, Kristin broke the news to me that at the exact time I went the ER, my brother had a heart attack and was awaiting transport to Mass General.  What a day.

 I was then taken down and admitted. I was hooked up to a blood thinner IV and placed in a room where all I could do is sit in a chair and take shallow breaths and focus on not stirring up the pain any more than it already was. They started giving me morphine and other pain killers. It was a mess. It didn’t seem like any of the pain medicines (even the morphine drip) was helping. It would take a small bit of the edge off, but that was it. I had moments sitting in that room on Thursday, where the pain would subside enough where I could talk to my parents and Kristin on the phone, etc. I would feel slightly better and then it would hit me like a truck again.

That first night, I had to ‘sleep’ (because I was exhausted by this point) sitting in a chair, hunched over, with my head on a small table (the wheeled table you eat off of). So I was sitting with my head almost in my lap but on a table…sort of how you’d sleep on an airplane sometimes. It sucked. I would drift off for a bit but wake up continuously throughout the night.  I had to keep getting serious pain killers regularly so I wasn't screaming in pain when I breathed.

In the morning, shortly after eating, it happened. Out of nowhere, I had the worst pains of my life start up in my left side next to my heart.  I stood up, still attached to the IV blood thinner, and couldn’t even communicate at this point because I couldn’t breathe.  I felt my eyes well up and I was frozen in the middle of the room.  Fortunately right at that point, the woman who was coming in to collect the food tray saw me and asked me if I was OK. All I could do was shake my head. She ran out and got the nurse.  The next thing I knew, there were no fewer than 7 or 8 people (nurses, doctors, etc) in the room. All gathered around me and all hands on deck. I was screaming in pain and couldn’t take any air in at this point. Every breath was excruciating. It literally felt like someone was taking a huge fork and jabbing me in my ribs as hard and as deep as they could stick it, and just tearing me open. I had people holding me down, while another nurse had a breathing device ready to put on me (it was right under my nose/mouth but I remember the doctor told her not to put it on me yet). I had another nurse with an O2 meeter in my face showing me the numbers. Usually I’m around 98-99 for oxygen saturation. I was in the 70s and it was dropping. They were basically screaming at me to focus on breathing and bring the numbers up. I got to the point where I couldn’t take even a sliver of air in my nose or mouth without the worst pain of my life. Breathing = excruciating pain. It was the scariest moment of my life to say the least. Not to be outdone I heard one of the nurses talking to the doctor about my ‘advanced directive’ and then I was asked about my ‘living will situation’. What a nightmare.  All I could do was look around the room and think about who was going to be the last person I was ever going to see. I wanted to talk but couldn’t. I wanted to tell someone to tell my kids I loved them. I wanted to say their names. I couldn’t. Being overexcited obviously wasn’t helping.

They finally picked me up and wheeled me, kicking and screaming, to the ICU. I was in critical condition for the next 3 days.  I had to do the same sleeping situation with my head on a table every night.  It was a nightmare.

I’m not exactly sure how, but slowly it started to get better (most likely due to the pain meds and blood thinners). My O2 got better and they pumped me full of morphine, oxycodone, and something else (at one point I heard it was the 'strongest stuff they had'). I was hooked up to that same IV and went through many bags of Heparin (funny enough the same blood thinner that my brother was hooked up to, 3 hours south in Boston). The next 3 nights I was in the ICU. In and out of it due to all the pain meds. My family came in to visit and I don’t remember much of it. Even on the morphine drip and pills, etc I was still doubling over in pain from time to time and it really took a toll on Kristin and my family who went in to see me during that time.

By late Monday afternoon I was feeling good enough (although my feet and legs were swollen pretty bad from having to sit in the same position every night) to come off of the IV and start what is now a lifetime on a pill-based blood thinner (Eliquis). I was so afraid of them pulling that IV off me because I know that is what saved my life. I was able to carefully shave (God forbid I cut myself) and wash and felt slightly human again. Kristin brought me home on Monday and my life changed dramatically at that point. But I need to keep reminding myself that I was extremely lucky.

The bad news is basically no one knows how I got to this point. I have seen multiple specialists, had scans, blood tests, etc. All genetic testing came back negative for a disorder. I had zero indication that I had a clot in my leg or lower abdomen short of one seemingly small calf pain I had in the weeks leading up to this (which seemed to come and go out of nowhere but it was very sore). Most doctors tell me that what I experienced in my calf most likely wasn’t the cause. The pulmonologist I see now  seems to think it could have been that.  But because we don’t know, they said that if I was to come off blood thinners its more risky than being on them. If it happens again, it could be it. The consensus is that I had one big clot, it went up through my heart and was soft enough where it shattered into many smaller clots and they all got lodged up in my lungs and grew.  The blood thinners helped stop new clots from forming and allowed the existing clots to dissolve on their own.  Needless to say, I blew through my 'out of pocket maximum' very quickly by being in the hospital for 4+ days.

The worse news is that I suffered a pulmonary infarction and had about 10% of lung tissue die due to the lack of blood flow to that area. The infarction is right next to my heart on the left side and is where most of the pain was. So now that will scar up over time and will be absorbed by the body apparently. The healing on these takes on average 3-6 months.

Even worse than that was that I had a small mass on my lung that was concerning to the radiologist. They suggested to have it followed up on in a few months. That was initially when I was in the hospital. Unexplained clots can be caused by lung cancer so that has not sat well with me.

About a week after I went home, I had a flare up of the same pain again. I was back in the hospital. I had more scans done and this time the radiologist was concerned enough about the mass to suggest I have a PET scan. The pain I was experiencing was just the infarct. I wasn’t having more clots.

Fast forward to the PET scan. I went over to Scarborough, Maine to Maine Med for a PET scan and the good news was that the mass they saw on the previous 2 CT scans didn’t light up. The bad news is that a few other things did, including two masses in the middle of my chest. They suggested from here that I have a biopsy done on them.

My doctor scheduled a biopsy to be done at Maine Med with a cardio-thoracic surgeon. But shortly after that, they reviewed it and thought it was best to wait a bit because it ‘could’ be inflammation which usually comes with a Pulmonary Embolism. So now I’m currently in waiting mode for that and have another CT scan set for February.

I have recurring appointments now with my Pulmonologist and have another echo cardiogram slated for this week. I had mild heart strain with the embolism and they want to keep an eye on it to see how much if any damage was done.

At this point, I am taking 2 pills a day (Eliquis). I cannot miss. My energy level is coming back slowly but I have no doubt that it's affected my energy. I’m not over the fear of ‘bleeding’ excessively quite yet. I am still very careful of what I do. I haven’t had a nosebleed yet but when I do, I’ll probably be a wreck emotionally.

I have run only a small handful of times. 3-5 miles at a time. I ran on the 2 month anniversary of my going into the hospital. I ran 3 days last week, all in a row, and took a few days off. I spun yesterday on the bike.  7:xx pace for a mile seems a bit hard at this point but I was able do a 5 mile run in under 8 min pace the other day. It felt a lot faster but it is what it is. I was able to finish a run on the Kanc last week with a sub 7 mile at the very end but  I was maxed out cardio-wise.  I gained about 15-20 pounds in the 2 + months I couldn’t do anything physically. The doctors stressed that I take it easy for a while and treat this very much like a ‘damaged organ’.  I still have uncomfortable feeling and pressure in my lungs and especially in the area where my infarction is. But that will slowly go over time. It takes a long time for these to 'heal'. I am hoping at this point to just be able to get back to running and activity as I normally did. I’m not looking to be able to do any PR-type of effort anymore (not that I physically could anyways) but I don’t want to give up. I'll already be now at a disadvantage 'lung-capacity-wise'.  This thing really knocked me on my butt hard. For some weeks afterwards, when I was still having to take strong pain medication at night so I wasn’t jumping out of bed with intense bursts of pain, I was pretty much convincing myself that I was permanently slowed down and that my days were numbered. I’m starting to think I have a chance again but this time I’m taking my time and balancing the important things in my life better.

Which brings me back to my family. My wife and kids and parents and everyone else who came to me when I needed them. Kristin has a sign hanging on the wall in our downstairs bathroom that I have to look at every time I take a wee.  It says simply ‘Enjoy the little things in life for some day you will realize they were the big things’. As I’ve had to think about my own mortality up close, the only thing in the forefront of my mind is my kids and my wife and their wellbeing. And how they’d get on without me. That was the scariest thing of all to me. Thinking of my kids growing up without their dad…maybe not even really remembering me all that well when they got older (they are still only 5 and 7). I’ve always realized my kids were my world. I feel like I’ve always prioritized their health and happiness. But after the last few months, I am more in tune with how every waking minute and every experience with them, no matter how small and seemingly ordinary, is priceless. Being able to take the first couple walks around the yard when I got home from the hospital was overwhelming for me. I realize how lucky I am to have a second chance and to have my family around me who loves and supports me unconditionally. I’ve certainly had my ups and downs. I had very dark days sitting here the last couple months, thinking about what these tests are going to reveal in the upcoming month or so. I guess I won’t completely move on from that until it’s all said and done and I get an all clear. If I don’t get an all clear, I’ll have to start making the appropriate plans and do what I need to do. For now, I’m going to try to get back into the normal routine as much as I can. Kristin has been incredibly loving and supportive and I cannot think of where I would be without her.  I love her and the girls more than ever and I’m more motivated now than ever to be around for them as long as possible.  I may be a grouch here and there, but they’ve learned by now to deal with that pretty well :).

Oh…and my brother is doing great now…he’s on some lifetime meds now and had a procedure (stint) and is back to his old self again. I always joked up until this year that he was my ‘canary in the coal mine’ because he’s 10 years older than I am. I figured when/if he had an issue, that would be a good indictor for me.  Our father had his first heart attack at 42. I’m almost 43. My brother is 52. Things are getting real now to say the least.

Anyways, for now, I look forward.  I have been blessed with a great Christmas with the girls and we're getting on with the  winter months now here in the Mount Washington Valley.  Here’s to a wonderful new year for everyone. I hope everyone is happy and healthy as we begin a new decade.

Some January far....

Probably shouldn't be doing this but.....