It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a blog post. I was gone for five days to Canada, for a little mini-vacation with some friends.
I’ve been biking like crazy, mostly stationary, to keep my cardio up while my fallen arch foot heals. I’ve been fully optimistic and confident that my foot would be healed in time for me to get back on track for the marathon in November.
I did a lot of walking in Canada. The day after I got home, my legs were in a lot of pain. I could barely walk. I think I compensated so much, to not have the arch pain while walking, it just strained my other leg muscles.
Like a sunset setting on the horizon, as it is in the picture, I was beginning to see my dream of the marathon slipping away on the horizon- for now.
It’s one thing to be optimistic and not to give up. But it’s another thing when you can barely walk, and know you have to push your body way beyond what it can do with a significant injury. I needed to be running serious mileage right now. Instead, I could barely walk without some type of pain. The reality is for now, my foot is not healing at the pace I need it to be to run 26+ miles in less than 2 months.
I just couldn’t give up on it though completely. I was still holding out hope, that maybe I would find a way. I’m determined, if nothing else. Yet, I know- you can’t run a marathon with a foot injury. I could risk much greater injury and a much longer recovery time.
A few days after I got back from Canada, I woke up, with a weird itchy spot on my forehead- above my left eyebrow. It felt like an intense mosquito bite, but itched way more. I looked at it closely, and I saw two little puncture marks- like fangs marks there. I concluded I got bit by a spider. It was itchy the entire day.
The next day I woke up and my forehead was swollen. The area had turned into a rash, and was turning black. The entire left side of my face had serious pain- like I had been hit with a baseball bat. But just on that side of my face. My right side was fine. There was a “pins and needles” sensation now at the rash site. My neck lymph nodes (what are left from my cancer neck dissection) were swollen like golf balls.
I Googled home remedies for spider bites, and the only thing that relived the intense itching was a baking soda and water paste. I was glad it was a Sunday, and I had no place to be, because I left that paste on the rash site the entire day.
I went to work on Monday, but I could tell, this was not getting better. It was getting worse, and I was starting feel like I had the flu.
I called my doctor and got in. She examined the rash thoroughly and concluded I likely had an infected insect bite, and prescribed antibiotics. She recommended Zyrtec for the itching.
Within a few hours of taking the first dose of antibiotics, I felt somewhat better. I noticed my lymph nodes were going down. Then I got a call from my doctor. She said as she was thinking about it, she was concerned I could have a mild case of shingles. She said many of the symptoms I had, were like shingles, but not all of them. I told her the antibiotics were making me feel better for now. She said that was good, but if any rash appeared on my eyelid, or in my eye, go the ER. I may need antibiotics via IV, or it could be shingles.
I was really surprised. I thought only really old people got shingles. I have learned since, that isn’t the case. I Googled it when I got home, and I didn’t feel like I had shingles. I had some symptoms like she said, but not all of them.
Two days later I woke up, with my left eye entirely swollen shut. I felt like I had a light case of the flu, but no fever. I had two new tiny patches of the rash on the left side. The pain in my face was very intense. I guess at that point, I realized I probably did have shingles. I debated just going to the ER, like my doctor said, but other than my eye being swollen, there was nothing on my eye itself. The new rashes were much higher on my forehead.
I called my doctor’s office and they said to come in, with the understanding my doctor may send me to the ER for the IV antibiotics. I came in and this time my doctor felt I definitely had a “mild” case of shingles. However, she said the rash still didn’t look like a typical shingles rash. She tried to get fluid from the rash, which is common in shingles, so she could send it in for a culture, but as hard as she tried, she couldn’t get any fluid to sample. She said that was really odd. But she prescribed me an antiviral medicine used to treat shingles and said she didn’t know for sure. She was confident I had the bacterial infection and either a mild case of shingles, or a viral infection too. She said I could have had a viral infection starting, got bit by something, bacteria entered, so that is how I ended up with both. Either way, she said she didn’t feel I needed to go to the ER.
Walking out of her office, hobbling back to my car, I just had to laugh. Or cry. I chose to laugh, and shed a few tears, so I guess I did both. What are the chances, I’d get a foot injury and this weird infection / shingles? I knew then, and accepted it. My immunity was down now too, and it was just not going to be a wise decision to try to heal my foot, get over shingles / weird infection, and then start immediately running or keeping up with biking and training. My body was speaking loud and clear to me. I’ve learned to listen. It is a “No” to the marathon for now.
A week later, I feel 100% again. I have the original rash, lingering, and the scabs are black. It’s not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen, but a band-aid covers it, and no one even sees the band-aid. I joke with my family and friends, I’m a hot mess. 🙂
My foot is starting to feel better using Superfeet Orthotics. I can wear them in my daily shoes and have no arch pain. I’m still trying to figure them out for running. The other day I took the boys to a football field, and was able to run about 1/4 mile in my normal shoes, with no pain. So I know my arch is healing. Long term, I will be fine and 100% again.
But it was hard for me to not feel disappointed, I have to put my dream of running a marathon, on the back burner- yet again. I know was I on track and on pace to have this be my ultimate race. I was striving to finish in the top 10 for women. I was on pace for that. I feel in my heart, had I not gotten hurt and some weird mysterious rash, or shingles, I would have achieved that too.
Vanessa, my sister, has been so helpful. She helped me realize I did all I could. It wasn’t like I had just stopped training and was vegging on the couch every night, expecting to run a marathon. It kind of put it in perspective for me. I did the best I could. In the end, that is all I could ask for. I know at the time my foot injury happened, I was the best runner I could be. I was on course to accomplish what I set out to do.
My other sister, Mara, pointed out sometimes life doesn’t care about our plans- it gives us what we need. That helped me see, it just was not in the cards right now for me. I do need to get my foot healed and strong. I do need to get better from, what I think was a mild case of shingles. I have had cancer. I’ve had radiation infused into my body. I’ve had 68 lymph nodes removed from my neck. I have a generally weaker immune system than most people. I don’t normally think this way, but it is clear I need to give my body some extra TLC right now to recover. Not pushing it to extremes, when it is already stressed.
This week, I cancelled my reservations in Las Vegas, and started the process through the marathon insurance I bought, to get my race fee refunded.
I’m not giving up though. I’ve realized making peace with all this, to even have this dream and try to go for it, no matter how many times it takes me…it is so much more than I ever thought I’d be physically able to do again. In my training, these past 8 weeks (before I got hurt), I’ve run further, stronger, longer, and faster than I ever have before. To realize I got closer than I ever have- well, that is something. I can run, and am working on my dream. There was a time I didn’t know if I’d even be able to walk up a few stairs again. Even though I couldn’t go all the way with it this time, it’s there. The desire is there. There is no way I would have been given this desire and dream without a way to accomplish it at some point.
So for me now, I get healthy. I get back to 100%. I figure out running in shoes that aren’t minimalist, with orthotics and learn running this way. I start from the beginning again. I start one mile at time. If one mile feels good, I go another mile. And another. And I’ll do this all fall, winter, spring, until I’m ready. When I am, I’ll be attempting the marathon again.
I’ve realized this about dreams and goals. You have to have a dream to even get going. If you have a dream, it’s worth all you can give to it. Even if you have to try many times, it will make it that much more worthwhile in the end.
I have to postpone my dream for now- but that is what it is- it’s a postponement. I’m not quitting and I’m not going to stop dreaming. I’m going to cross a marathon finish line. When I’m healthy I’m going to take my dream and run with it. I am going to make it come true.
Maybe that is the lesson in all this. Without dreams and goals, what is there? Without trying to improve yourself, you never grow. Without disappointments and setbacks, you never see what you really are determined to do. Without dreams, the journey never begins. After it is all said and done, the journey is the means to arrive to the destination of your dream.
To me now, having an unexpected detour in the journey, well that is what keeps the dream alive. There’s nothing to feel “bad” about, when we fall short of a goal and a dream. Sometimes dreams come easy, sometimes they don’t. But giving up and stopping- that’s like snuffing out your ambition, hopes, and dreams. I don’t think that is good for anyone. It’s locking a part of yourself away, and not allowing yourself to live up to your true potential.
This definitely has been a learning experience for me. Sometimes, we just can’t physically, or for other reasons, achieve what we want, when we want. This has taught me, I still really want it. It’s taught me, I have the potential and the talent. It’s taught me, sometimes I have no control, and when I don’t, I just have to allow and keep moving forward. Not as a failure, but as a triumph. This is me. This is who I am. This is what I can do. This is what I am trying for. I may not always succeed, or have it turn out like I thought, but I’m living. I’m trying, I’m not locking anything away. I’m not holding back. Even if I don’t have the success I think I should have, in the way I think it should be, I am still successful. I just have to see it.
That is so much more than crossing a finish line. It’s living. It’s living up to your full potential, and having zero regrets. I don’t need an official marathon to teach me that. I’ve learned it. On the journey- on the path to my dream.