The Black Death Can Bite Me
Miss me? Did you think I had abandoned you? Did you think like so many millions of Americans I had already given up my New Year’s resolutions like posting more often? Don’t lie. You know the thought crossed your mind.
First, let me dispel any rumors that I have in fact died of the Black Death. I am not writing from the great beyond. Nope, I am at my desk sipping a iced soy chai while listening to the soundtrack from “Wicked.” What an adventurous life I lead.
But the truth is, the Black Death is back. Again. After seemingly endless rounds of assorted antibiotics and steroids, it is back. With a vengeance. As it turns out I have this lovely little thing called chronic sinusitis. In effect, it is a sinus infection gone wrong. That’s right, a sinus infection is dragging the pace of my life to a screeching halt.
I am not a wimp. I have always had ear, nose and throat issues. I laugh in the face of sinus infections. I scoff at ear infections. For years I have diligently avoided antibiotics like the plague and fight off infections like a champ.
Funny thing: I lost 80 lbs and became a more healthy and fit version of myself. Or so I thought. Turns out I managed to deplete my immune system. That months long plateau? That was my body saying, “Feed me, lady!” I ignored it. The exhaustion? The invisible brick wall I kept running into on runs? That would be my body saying, “Dude! Can we just relax for a minute?” And the rampant low blood sugar? That is apparently my inner fit chick screaming at the top of her lungs, “HEY! Did ya forget that your blood sugar used to run on the low side of normal before you gained 130 lbs and became ‘normal?’” Hind sight is always 20/20, right?
Despite the fact that I have been working to remedy the situation with my fantastic doctor, damage was done and this little run of the mill sinus infection snuck in and made itself quite at home back in October.
At first I followed the normal protocol: plenty of fluids and decongestants. I kicked it pretty quickly though it left a lingering stuffiness in my ears that was NOT Meniere’s friendly. After a short course of steroids and the threat of tubes to help with the drainage, I was fine. Except I really wasn’t. Another little sinus infection followed almost immediately. By then I knew my immune system was suffering and we were working on getting it back in gear. Still, I kicked that infection too.
And then it came back and this time with a vengeance. Actually, I blamed it on co-workers. There was something going through the office. Clearly it was their fault, particularly when it evolved into that horrible bout of bronchitis that kept me out of my much anticipated Resolution Run. Remember that? I was not happy.
I took the antibiotics and just like the urgent care doctor said, I went back to light running with the aid of an inhaler a couple days later. We all know that was a smart move. Remember all the walking? It was awesome. But things started to clear up. Sure, I still had a little cough and the giant ever present hairball that is known as post nasal drip (yummy,right?) but I was definitely better. For a week or so.
Right about the time I stopped posting is right about the time I started sleeping all the time. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was dragging. If I wasn’t dragging, I was staring off blankly into space. Simple things like putting together a grocery list or putting detergent in the washing machine took too much energy. Way too much energy. I was miserable because I wasn’t running. I couldn’t even muster the energy to put in a few planks and sit ups in my own living room.
By this past Saturday, I already knew the Black Death was back. I even realized that I had been struggling with some form of it almost continuously for around 12 weeks. That couldn’t be good. And despite the fact that my throat was so swollen and sore I frequently panted like one of my dogs after a run on a hot day, I got up and went snowshoeing on Sunday. I had to do SOMETHING to prove that a) I wasn’t lazy and b) the Black Death wasn’t going to stop me from living my life. It is a sinus infection, dammit! Sinus infections don’t kill you! They are a minor inconvenience and I am not going to let some damned congestion and cough stop me from living!
I know this was not my wisest decision. I mean, the first thing you should do when you realize you are sick again with an infection that has repeatedly kicked your ass shouldn’t be to tromp through the wilderness in the middle of winter. Here is my problem. No matter how sick I am I begin to feel overwhelming guilt which is soon followed by panic that I will lose all forward momentum. Ironically, it didn’t matter that the scale had magically resumed its downward trend after six months of virtually no movement. I was going to lose all my progress on the trail. And I was feeling just well enough that I was climbing walls and going stir crazy, but not quite enough to actually move more than five feet from the couch.
Off I went. Snowshoeing was awesome. If you haven’t done it, DO IT. We still don’t have a lot of snow but I had a great time trekking around Donner Lake and Squaw Valley with friends. My dad even played the bagpipes from across the lake for me (they live right on the lake. How awesome is that?). But by the time I got home, I knew I had overdone it. That tightness in my chest? The pain in my ears? The swelling in my throat? The Black Death.
Yesterday I woke up to intense vertigo: the result of added fluids in my ears from the sinus infection screwing with my Menieres. No worries, however. I am used to this. I set about preparing to go into work but I tipped them off that I would be a couple minutes late. Apparently I didn’t sound as good as I thought I felt because I received this text, “Get thee to a doctor.”
Okay then. I did. And of course, my GP opened the exam room door, looked at me, shook his head and said, “It’s back.” Thank you, Captain Obvious. After poking and prodding and determining that this wasn’t strep but a case of a particularly antibiotic resistant chronic sinusitis I was sent for another exam then to pick up a handy little six week course of antibiotics which treat things like anthrax and the like, 2-3 weeks of steroids and a few other handy things. I hate taking antibiotics. I would rather save them for when I really need it, like when I can’t kick a 12 week long infection that is impacting my ability to enjoy life. Oh wait…This would be that time, woudn’t it?
But the worst thing? The real reason I am pouring my heart out here? I have been restricted to light walking and moderate yoga for the next 2-3 weeks. And even getting that was a battle. No running. No kickboxing. No Zumba. Remember that whole fear of getting lazy and the panic about gaining the weight? You can quadruple that now, particularly with steroids in the picture. I am having a particularly difficult time understanding how something as simple as a freaking sinus infection can wreak so much havoc? Of course, I realize that I was already struggling with myself but it is a SINUS INFECTION.
Tired of listening to me whine? So am I. I am a very fortunate person. I have a great family and great friends. I have great dogs who seem to just get it that I am not up to the normal routine. I have a great doctor who takes the time to listen but won’t give into me when I insist I need to run. I can afford the treatment. I know so many who cannot. I will get over this. It isn’t a matter of it, it is simply when. Yes, I have not enjoyed being sick. In fact I hate it. But I will get better and I will be able to enjoy all my favorite activities. And I will return to fulfilling my New Year’s Resolutions. It just might take me a little longer. But I will do them!
To the Black Death: Bite me.