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?|