Thursday, December 29, 2016

Runfessions: December Edition

It's the end of December, heck, it's the end of 2016 which can only mean one thing: it's time for Runfessions! I'm just going to put it out there, even though I've had a lot of fun and good times this year, I runfess that I am so glad to see 2016 come to an end. Seriously. My roller coaster ride just won't stop.

Stop the ride! I want to get off. Bring on 2017!




Earlier this week, I was out for my morning run. I felt good and was moving along at a zippy pace. About 2 1/2 miles in, I stopped to take my yoga picture, because as we all know, if you don't take a picture, the run didn't happen. I squatted down to set up my camera on the lamppost and felt a sudden, searing pain from my lower back up through my chest. Wow. That was sharp. I stood up to catch my breath.

That really threw me off. I was more than a little scared. I had to talk myself down. I took a couple deep breaths.

I runfess that I wanted to see if it would happen again, you know, to see if was a real thing, so I squatted down. Really, who does this? Of course, I immediately had the pain return. Same intensity. Again, I stood up and took some slow deep breaths. After a couple of minutes, I felt better. When I squatted for a third time, I felt no pain. Since I felt better, I runfess thought it would be safe to do my headstand.

As I proofread this post, I am so embarrassed to think that I even did that. But this is runfessions, and as we like to say, runfessing is good for the soul.


Oh, but as if it wasn't enough for me to do the headstand, I runfess that I finished my run. Tell me that you wouldn't have done the same thing. Ok, maybe running after a bout of chest pain wasn't the smart thing to do. But I was pretty sure I wasn't having a heart attack. I felt ok. I needed to get home and get ready to go to work.

Please feel free to yell at me in the comments. Before you scold me, roll your eyes, or judge me, you should know that I did get that chest pain checked out. But only after a restless night and more chest pain during yoga the next morning.

It was the chest pain during yoga that kind of freaked me out. It wasn't as severe as what I had experienced during my run, but it was there. I called off work. Both the nurse I spoke to and my office manager told me to go to the ER. I didn't want to, but I knew it was the right thing to do. It was one of those "what would you tell your patient to do?" moments.

Remember my motto: do as I say, not as I do....


If you've ever been to the ER, you know you don't want to go to the ER. Heck, I've worked in the ER, so I know how bad it can be. But since the pain was in my chest and it was bad enough to keep me home from work, I decided to do the right thing. I knew there was a possibility RA could affect the heart and thought the best thing to do would be to get it checked out. I also knew that my doctor would tell me to go to the ER. So, I went to the ER.

The ER does this teaser thing. You come in with chest pain, they take you back for an EKG, to make sure you aren't having a heart attack. Then they send you back to the waiting room. Next, there was blood work. Then vital signs. Then a chest x-ray. Back and forth. Every time they call your name you think that it's your turn. But no. I spent 3 hours in that waiting room, surrounded by people vomiting and coughing. There was a girl crying because she was "so hung over". Deal with it, sister. I had no sympathy for her. What I really wanted was a biohazard suit.

Once they brought me back to a room, things moved faster. There was more testing. A cardiologist and his entourage came through. They gave me some answers. Like the old cliche, I got good news and bad news. No surprise, my heart is good. The source of the pain was most likely rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in my sternum. Yes, the sternum is a joint. After another 3 hours, they sent me home.

While I was happy to find out my heart was healthy, I cried the whole way home from the ER. I cried because this is not fair. I cried because I am angry. I cried because after 3 weeks of steroids and methotrexate, I'm still having significant pain. I cried because, really, RA in my sternum? Where else am I going to feel it? My ass?


It is a possibility.

In the midst of my pity party in the car, my rheumatologist called. And no, she wasn't a party pooper.

She said I can still run.

Absolutely this could be RA in my sternum, she said. Apparently, costochondritis in folks with RA is quite common. This is all part of the "flare". I need to be patient and let the medications do the work. She reassured me that it is going to take time to shut off the inflammation. Because my heart is so healthy, she wants me to continue my activities. She recommended that I do some chest stretches, which we do in yoga. Running as an activity naturally makes us lean forward and tightens those pectoral muscles. I need to open them up.

While I've been handling this diagnosis fairly well, I was not prepared for all these bumps in the road. I've been healthy my whole life and I don't do well in the role of sick person. I'm trying to take it all in stride, but all the weird symptoms I'm having are throwing me off. Burning hands and feet much? A stiff neck? Fatigue?

This is not your grandma's arthritis.

A few final thoughts:
  • I runfess to being a little upset with people telling me that having RA is no big deal and it shouldn't affect me at all. Because, as much as I try not to let it affect me, it does. Can I cry? Can I feel bad about this? Can I be angry? 
  • I runfess that once I started on my regimen of medications and vitamins and what not, I thought I'd be fine. Silly me. I had no idea what I was in for. 
  • I runfess that I thought because I was a runner, I was invincible. I think this is fairly common amongst runners. Now I know I'm not. Actually, I'm feeling quite vulnerable, which is pretty unsettling.

Be patient with me. I runfess that I need some time with this. I'll be ok. I will.

Isn't wine anti-inflammatory?
I'm linking up with Marcia for Runfessions. I'm also linking up with Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five v2.0.





95 comments :

  1. You're right Wendy, this is so not fair. People who do everything right shouldn't have to deal with this and I'm sorry for that. I had no idea that RA could manifest in your chest either (sternum as a joint? WTF?). At least you're getting answers and with time and the right course of action, it will get better. I runfess that since college I've had this random rushing/fluttering in my heart from time to time. No one can figure it out, but I've definitely tried to "make it do it again" kind of like you did on your run. Hang in there lady and a big SEE YA 2016!!!

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    1. I used to get that fluttering thing in my chest on occasion. I know enough to be dangerous and my best guess is that you have "escape beats" coming thru your regular, probably low heart rate. If it's only occasional and you don't have any associated symptoms, it's fair to just monitor it. Thankful for your support!

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  2. Wait a second. Who goes to the ER for a hangover?!

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    1. Oh, you'd be surprised what people go to the ER for.

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  3. How frustrating all of this must be for you! You definitely have every right to be angry and sad and whatever other emotions arise. I hope that the meds start helping soon. The ER sounds like an interesting experience. I can't believe someone was there for a hangover!

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  4. Sending you so much love and a bigassAGREEMENT it is sooooo not fair <3

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    1. So not fair. But I have no choice, so it's onward and upward. Bumpy flight but moving forward.

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  5. You are allowed to feel HOWEVER YOU WANT TO FEEL about your diagnosis. I hate when people tell me whatever is bothering me is "no big deal". Our feelings are valid. And while our feelings may change over time, we are entitled to experience them!

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    1. I also wanted to runfess that I do oftentimes feel invincible... I know I shouldn't.

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    2. I think running makes us feel like we are immune to things. I runfess that it did for me!

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  6. Sending you so much love. These diseases don't give a shit what we think, unfortunately. I echo everyone else: you are allowed to feel your feelings, your frustrations, but use it to fuel your fire.
    Love you, Wendy. I'm hear for you.

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    1. I'm a hot mess. I thought I was all set, things were going to be fine. No one told me I could have another flare within the flare!

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  7. ER for a hangover?! Good grief, suck it up and deal with it in a quiet room and sip on a bloody mary. College Jen just visited for a second ;)
    RA in your sternum sounds terrible, but on the bright side, your heart is fine! Happy New Year, here's to an amazing year!!

    Jen
    jpabstfitness.com

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    1. Oh yes, and my lungs have amazing capacity!

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  8. Wendy, I'm so sorry. Yes. Cry for f's sake!! You're allowed! You're allowed to be sad/angry/scared. And who the hell is telling you RA isn't so bad?! My MIL has had it since her 30s. My SIL was just recently diagnosed. It's not a pretty illness. But luckily you have amazing caregivers and you're a fighter. So yeah, have all the emotions. And then kick ass.

    (And I would have kept running, too. Ha!)

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    1. Thank you for letting me have my pity party! Have I told you how much I love you? Yep, ass kicking coming up. After I drink more wine and maybe cry a little more...

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  9. You so have a right to be pissed and angry and sad and scream and cry and bitch and moan. You so do. Glad you weren't having a heart attack. I runfess that I've been there, done that on avoiding the ER.

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    1. The ER is the worst. That is all I am saying about that.

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  10. So sorry to hear all of this. I would have been pretty freaked out! Take care of yourself and allow yourself to feel the way you do.

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    1. I think what freaks me out is that I was doing well and then I flared again.

      Shit's getting real.

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  11. You can cry all you want !
    Chest pain ? I probably would have checked it out too. You did the right thing and the good side is, you know you have a very healthy heart !

    I am never sick and I dread the day I will be. I am so obsessed with fitness and eating well, hoping that will prevent any sickness or major issue, but I know I am just kidding myself. Something will happen one day.

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    1. I hope you never get sick. I really thought I wouldn't. Man.

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  12. No eye rolling here I know I would have done the same thing. I would cry too and probably throw something at someone. This is why I do kickboxing it's a great way to get out the stress and not hit someone. Glad to hear that your heart is ok too

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    1. That's what running does for me. I'm going to try again tomorrow.

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  13. It so annoys me when other people judge what a person is dealing with. Just because they would handle it differently or feel differently doesn't mean their way is right. I say feel all the feels about this diagnosis.

    And yes, I have completed runs that I probably shouldn't have. After I fell during an Army Ten Miler training run - even though I had twisted my ankle and body surfed the sidewalk, I took a couple of tentative steps then jogged on home. Probably not the best idea but my husband was working that morning and I couldn't figure out how else I was going to get home!

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    1. Haha! Yes, I've run a few runs that I should not have done. This one, with the chest pain, was probably the dumbest. But who says runners are smart?

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  14. Who the heck is telling you RA is nothing? Geez, people can just be so stupid. Which is a nice way of saying that.

    No, it's absolutely not fair. And I had absolutely no idea of some of the things it could do -- arthritis in your sternum? I would never have imagined that in a million years.

    But look on the bright side -- you CAN run! Even if it's harder. At least you can, that's got to be a little comforting.

    I know there's no end, but I also know you will battle this and you'll get to a place where you feel a #holotta better. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

    2017's gotta be better, right? RIGHT?

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    1. Oh, I won't even share half of what "well meaning" people have said to me since my diagnosis.

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  15. Oh Wendy. Seriously? I wish I could hug you in person (over a glass--or 3--of wine). On a lighter note...when I saw your pic at the top (with the stranger photobombing your moment), it reminded me of a recent pic I have from when a similar thing happened to me in a "photo shoot." What is it with people???

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    1. The best thing is, in that picture I was saying hi and she completely ignored me. Well, not completely. She glanced at me and kept on going.

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  16. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. It's not fair. You can feel how ever you want to feel about what's going on with you, and no one can tell you otherwise. Also I hate going to the ER it's the creepiest place. Good luck and Happy New Year!

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    1. I actually find the ER fascinating--when I'm not a patient!

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  17. OH man. I'm so sorry. And - I have done the same thing you did - feel some searing pain and then repeat the thing that made me feel it just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. And - I too would push myself farther than I should b/c that's just how I've been for so long that it's really hard to change that hard-wiring. So I can only imagine how hard this is for you. Cheers to Amy's large glass of wine? :)

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    1. Drinking small glass of wine now. Cheers!

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  18. Oh no Wendy, so sorry to hear this. Glad that you did indeed go to the ER though. I can't believe the hungover girl went to the ER. I hope you were seen before her.

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    1. You cannot believe what people go to the ER for.

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  19. You know what? Your feelings are your feelings and no one can tell you how to feel. I'm sorry this is happening to you. I'm glad you are listening to your body and doctors though and went to the ER. You'll get through this, I know you will - but I know it sucks all the same. Wishing you all the best as you manage it.

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    1. If you know me at all, you know that I went to the ER under protest...

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  20. Who the hell would tell you that RA is no big deal? Good lord. Okay and the ER story sounds like a Canadian ER. I totally thought you guys have better ones down there. Because medical is free up here, the ERs are FILLED with people who have a sliver on their finger or a blister on their heel. It drives me fucking crazy! But anyway, that really sucks about the chest pain. I laughed out loud at the meme about it. It's only 6am here and I legit laughed out loud. IT IS SO TRUE! I know a guy who ran right through a heart attack. He was on the treadmill at the gym. Runners can be a little bit... focused. Heh heh!

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    1. Keep in mind that half of America is on Medicaid--so they use the ER like a doctor's office. Same stuff you see. I'm sure they thought I was a lunatic--running through chest pain!

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  21. Feel so bad for you!! You don't deserve it. But at least you can run.

    Cry and whine as often as you need to.

    You have a #holottalisteners

    Hope you seen less pain in 2017.

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    1. I'm testing out the chest in the morning! Thanks to Dr A.

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  22. Um, RA is a big deal, and you are certainly entitled to feel however you feel after your diagnosis. I'm so glad that you can still run, both for your soul and because it will help you stay healthy and mobile. And I think all runners feel that they are invincible, that somehow our dedication and effort to such a difficult and HEALTHY sport will protect us. I know I do! And it does, from many things. I'm just sorry that it doesn't save us from everything. Keep on, keep writing about your feelings and how you're meeting your new challenges. You are an inspiration to us all. ❤

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    1. Awwww....I just needed to vent. But let's hope I can keep running.

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  23. It's not fair! I'm so sorry you are dealing with this. And yes the ER stinks!!! Glad you didn't come away with something viral. So glad you got an understanding doc though who wants to keep you running.

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    1. Yeah, it's been 48 hours and I'm ok, so hopefully nothing attached to me!

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  24. Wendy, if you feel like you need to scream, cry, shout, throw around some weights, or whatever you need to do, do it!! I have found that a lot of well-meaning people say the absolutely wrong thing in an effort to "cheer you up". It only gets worse as time moves on (for them), and they want you to get over it. Don't worry about those people. I truly believe that they mean well, even though their advice doesn't help. (All of this is from my experience losing my mom 2 years ago.) This is YOUR blog. You can use this space to share your feelings, and those who support you will continue to do so, and those who don't, can move on. As for the headstand and continued run, that was, shall we say, "hardcore". I wouldn't have done either, but that's ME. You have to do what's best for you, as it is YOUR life. I'm glad it worked out that you weren't having any heart problems!

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    1. As I was running home, I thought that maybe it wasn't the best thing to do. But I felt ok...

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  25. I am so sorry you are going through this. It isn't fair. The ER is not a pleasant experience. I've been there once and hope I never have to go again.

    You are allowed to feel however way you want to feel.

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    1. Thank you! What I really want is to feel better.

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  26. Sorry to hear you are still dealing with pain, but on the bright side, at least you are cleared to continue running and it's not a serious heart problem. Phew. Also sorry you ended up in the ER! Wishing you a happy New Year.

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    1. I was glad when Dr A told me I could run. Heading to my bolster to stretch out my chest as we speak.

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  27. Sorry to hear about your physical and emotional pains. Glad it wasn't a heart issue. We are all such bad patients, aren't we? Last night I read about another blogger's struggle with Crohn's (http://www.aliontherunblog.com/2016/12/28/crohns-confessions/). It is so admirable to see people with such struggles maintain their running lives. Here's to a healthier and happier 2017!

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    1. I admire Ali and Susie, who just keep plugging along! They've both been great supports to me.

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  28. When our healthy bodies start doing crazy things, I think it's normal to be upset, scared, and angry. Anyone telling you that RA is not a big deal is not living in your body. You can be upset about the diagnosis and their lack of empathy all you want.

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    1. I keep telling people I feel like aliens have invaded my body. As a runner who has finely tuned her machine, this is really disconcerting!

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  29. Dang girlfriend, you need to let some of us help carry these things for you. This really sucks I know it does, the positive is you can still run, you just may run a little differently than what your use too all the time, no biggie! YOU GOT THIS!

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    1. I thought I had it, but this week shook me a bit. I'll be ok, with some help from my friends. Love you!

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  30. This all just sucks. I had costochondritis once back before I had kids. It was awful because of where the pain was and constantly wondering if that's all it was or if you were dying. Ugh. I'm so sorry you are going through this and I have my fingers crossed that the flare will calm down sooner rather than later.

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    1. Thank you. I've still got so many races to run! I have to get better.

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  31. I'm so sorry Wendy. You're right, it isn't fair that those who take care of themselves are often times the same ones who face serious uphill battles with pain and illnesses. You are so strong, and I know that you will overcome this!

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    1. I see it all the time in my job--bad things happen to everyone--but I never thought it would happen to me.

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  32. Damn Wendy I am really so sorry you're dealing with this! Gotta say that chest pain would have completely freaked me out. And who the heck goes to the ER for a hangover?! And who are these people telling you that RA is not a big deal...obviously people not dealing with it! Sending you hugs my friend.

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    1. You'd be surprised what people go to the ER for!

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  33. Ugh, Wendy. Girl, I am so so very sorry. I can only imagine your frustration and feeling like "why is my body rebelling against me"? You do everything right, you take care of yourself and this shouldn't be happening! But, I know you will get thru this as you do because you are strong and you are determined. I know it's so humbling but I promise you will get to the light at the end of this dark tunnel! Hang in there--stay strong but also know it's good to break down and just cry it out. This is a big deal and you are being forced to learn big lessons. I am sending you all my support for your continued strength on your journey!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes!! What the heck did I do to get my body so angry at me?

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    2. Unfortunately you can do everything right and this shit will still happen. I just found out on Thursday I have shingles. Wait, what?!? I am a healthy, active 44 year old and I got shingles? Sigh...who even knows.

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    3. Oh no!!! How does that even happen? Wait--I know the answer--but still? I hope you feel better quickly.

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    4. I know, Wendy. I could spend my time going over and over how I "failed" and "let" this happen but at the end of the day, what good is that? Better to use that energy to channel the positive and focus on getting better (with the help of my very strong meds!). Let's stay focused together and not go too far down that rabbit hole of "what did I do to cause this".

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  34. I can't believe people are telling you RA is not a big deal and to get over it. Yes, it's not cancer, but still, it does significantly effect your life...
    I'm happy 2016 will be over...the last 2 months were brutal... and I really need to change my attitude for 2017

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    1. Yeah, 2016 was pretty tough, all around. I'm going to focus on the good things. Like Big Sur. Like Panama City. Like my trip to Austin with my sister. My oldest getting his life on track. And my youngest getting his groove back after 6 months recovering from his rugby injury.

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  35. RA is no joke! I am glad to hear it wasn't more serious with your heart. Hope your feeling better.

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    1. I wish I could say I was feeling better! At least I don't have chest pain...

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  36. :hug:

    I'm so sorry. This diagnosis is so new, and there are going to be major ups and downs along the way. There are going to be low days like this, and you are absolutely entitled to cry and rage and stomp and all those things. You're right. It's not fair. And it shouldn't happen, and it shouldn't be you. But you are you, and that means that for every punch RA throws at you, you are going to fight right back. :hugs:

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    1. You are right. I will hit back at this thing!

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  37. I cannot relate to what RA is or what if feels like, but can relate to chest pains and fatigue that comes with Mitral Valve Prolapse. I have struggled with this for over 14 years. I know you will persevere. You are one of the strongest women I know! Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you Katie! I can only hope that 2017 is better, health-wise, for both of us! Happy New Year!

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  38. Yeah sternum = joint? Who knew? Not I. So sorry you're going through all of this. Life is certainly not fair and having the rug constantly pulled out from under you is reason to cry for sure. And then? I know you're going to figure out a way around this damn RA and make the most of every day. Even if you have to swear. A lot. xoxo

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    1. You know there were a lot of f-bombs dropped this past week. Lots of tears. And now I move forward...

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  39. Holy moly, Wendy - I am learning so much about RA from you - and it's pretty horrifying, to be honest. How will you ever know if chest pain is RA or something emergent? This is such a crazy disease, and I don't blame you for feeling so upset. Damn, just damn. Hang in there.

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    1. Well, remember my rheumatologist told me that I have an aggressive presentation. She wasn't kidding. Hanging in there is all I can do! <3

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  40. I love your attitude though and how you keep going! But seriously, someone was at the ER for a hang over.. geez... I am glad that it wasn't your heart though!

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    1. Still struggling with fatigue and a little chest pain. But yes, I'm so glad it's not my heart!

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  41. I am so sorry! It's so tempting to tell ourselves we are overreacting, that going to see someone about it is more trouble than it's worth, but at least you know and you're not still wondering if it'll return or what caused it. As far as other people's attitudes...you learn a lot about other people. That's all I can say.

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    1. People never fail to amaze me. I could write a whole post on that, but I'd probably offend some...

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  42. Oh I no you are frustrated! You are a warrior! Wait a sec, do we have a joint in our ass? I think we do! The ER is not for sissies- keep your game face on, you got this sister! <3

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    1. I got my wine face on, that's for sure!

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  43. Oh no, hope you're feeling better! RA in your sternum - I didn't know that was possible but sounds uncomfortable and painful for sure. Wishign you all the best!

    PS - when I've been to the ER I also wanted to wear a hazmat suit, I always feel so icky!

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    1. I used to work in the ER so ewwww! I'd drop my scrubs in the laundry room as soon as I got home!

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  44. I'm so sorry you are going through this mess. RA is a big deal, you should be able to feel and do whatever it is that makes you feel a bit better.... if you didn't have these thought/feelings (sadness, anger, etc.), I think that would be more worrisome.

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    1. It's been quite a roller coaster ride of emotions!

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  45. Hey Wendy. I was just reading this week's post on your site and I read about your chest pain scare. I read every single line and even I felt angry and sad that this was happening to you. You're such a vibrant energetic person. I really hope the flare-up will calm down soon. Hugs my friend!

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    1. I feel your empathy coming through! Thank you! I agree with you. This is so not fair.

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  46. Sorry, Wendy. Pain sucks, and you can't just ignore significant pain. Not knowing when the pain is going to stop sucks more. I hope the RA meds do their work quickly now, sorry it's taken this long. As a prescriber, I'm sure you are familiar with your pain relief options, I hope you will avail yourself of meds and find some that work to tide you over. Is the burning pain nerves? Didn't know that could be part of RA.

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