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Monday, November 30, 2020

I finally had that surgery!

 You probably know I have been pretty miserable for a long time thanks to a large mass in my uterus. 

It all started when I ran a really bad race and couldn't put my finger on what went wrong. My friend and kick-ass runner Paige suggested I check an anemia panel, and bingo - I was not well at all. 

Things only got worse, and I realized that my "bad periods" were clinical hemorrhages, ha. In fact, I was losing so much blood that I couldn't keep up with production even of platelets, which compounded matters as I was bleeding internally and was covered in bruises. 

I finally insisted on an ultrasound and this weird mass showed up. No one could tell what exactly it was, but there was always a concern for a leiomyosarcoma, which is a dire diagnosis. My symptoms were like it was a bad fibroid, though.

I saw a surgeon and she read my US as either a carcinoma or a large polyp. Either way, I needed surgery. She scheduled me for surgery and a biopsy.

LOL for a million days, I didn't have surgery because I found out IN THE OR that I was pregnant! Biggest shock or my life and seriously, my doctor still insists it was not physically possible and that I am living proof God exists. She also jokes that she's the best doctor ever because she got me to stop bleeding without surgery. Haha. (She's not my doctor now because I chose to do my prenatal care closer to home, but I work with her still so we still talk!)

There were a ton of scares about this mass during pregnancy, and oh so many appointments, but really, it was all fine. Except during delivery. That did NOT go well. Despite predictions that the mass would not interfere with delivery, oh it did. The baby was fine - he was always fine, never in any distress or danger - but I almost died after he was delivered. But it's kind of too gruesome for a blog so if you REALLY want to know you can message me ;-)

Recovering with delicious coffee a
friend brought the day after surgery
And then, to my complete disgust, my symptoms came right back after the baby was born. I was doing ok as far as blood work went, because you generally have nice robust RBCs after childbirth, and I could tell. The pain and bleeding were bad, but not terrible, and although I saw a few specialists over the spring and summer, I opted to delay treatment. The issue always was that perfusion to the mass was so extensive that I could hemorrhage uncontrollably during surgery. 

However, that rosy outlook changed when suddenly symptoms got very, very bad. Blood work confirmed it was surgery soon or a transfusion. Amazingly, I had already taken off work for vacation, so I just converted that to a sick day and got added to the schedule! My doctor ended up combining two procedures: one that cuts off blood supply that is usually used for polyps, and then a regular morcellation such as is done for fibroids. I had some complicating factors and about a 25% chance that she'd need to convert the procedure to a hysterectomy, but actually the surgery went very well, blood loss was not as bad as expected, and my recovery has been astonishingly easy. I haven't gotten the pathology back on the mass yet, but I assume it's just a very large (larger than a softball, actually, and my doctor estimated several pounds) benign growth or fibroid or something. I will probably need a hysterectomy later, but for now I am already feeling a million times better. 

And that, friends, is the last chapter in the crazy story of how I felt like crap and ended up with a baby.

*Update*: I actually just got the path back and unfortunately it is inconclusive. It is classified as "cellular leiomyoma", which is benign, but two pathologists are concerned for a leiomyosarcoma, which is the type of aggressive cancer that the mass was suspicious for on my pregnancy ultrasounds. My doctor consulted with gynecology-oncology and the plan is ultrasounds every six months; at the first sign of any returning growth I'll have a hysterectomy immediately. I'm not happy that this is still hanging over my head! 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Old Highway 51 10-miler race recap


I definitely didn't expect to have a year go by between races, but thanks to pregnancy/new baby/COVID, I hadn't raced since last Thanksgiving. That's probably the longest break I've ever had between races. The last person to run a race in this house was actually David - he jumped into a little 5k his nephew was volunteering at back when the baby was only eight weeks old. The very next weekend we were in COVID lockdown! 

When I heard this race was happening, I really wanted to run it, but as it turns out I ended up having urgent surgery just nine days prior to the race. I decided to wait until the last minute to register to make sure I was up to racing. In-person registration and packet pickup was the Thursday before the race, and a week since I had surgery. I felt very bad that morning on my run, weak and out of breath, but I ran eight miles, so I knew I could do ten. It just wouldn't be a very fast race. I registered for the ten mile race and registered David for the 5k. 

The night before the race I realized the baby was coming down with a cold...again. He has been sick basically constantly since going back to daycare. He actually already had an ear infection, which has been simmering for a few weeks, so this was just added misery. Normally he is a great sleeper, but at midnight he awoke screaming in terror. He gets night terrors when he is sick, and I rushed in to comfort him. He was very uncomfortable, and when I tried to put him back in his crib, he cried. So I did something I never do, and will NEVER do again, and that is brought him to our bed. I didn't sleep a wink. He mostly slept, but he is a loud sleeper, he moves around a lot, and he also took up half the bed. He woke up at 4:30 and I gave him to David and told him I NEEDED a little sleep. So David took him to the other room and I got an hour! Thank goodness! 

Luckily, the restless night didn't phase Audubonbaby, and we managed to get out of the house on time. The race was 45 minutes away in Akers, Louisiana, which is the middle of nowhere. We arrived in plenty of time for a bathroom break and a warmup, except the race director abruptly changed plans on race morning. I had used the bathroom, then stayed with the baby while David used the bathroom, then handed him back to do my warm up. The half marathon started at 8, the ten mile - my race - at 8:10, and the 5k at 8:20. But as I was warming up, I passed the start corral filling with runners. Some of the other Powermilers were in the corral, and I knew they were running the 10-mile, so I asked them if the start time was moved. Sure enough, I hadn't heard the announcement, but the director decided to combine the half and ten mile start! With ten minutes fewer to warm up, I ended up with less than a mile before the race, but at least I didn't miss the start. 

I didn't know how to pace this race. I run my tempos in the 6:30s, and about a month ago I ran a four mile tempo at just under 6:30 despite that being the first continual tempo we'd run in many months (over the hot summer we do things like 3x1.5 at tempo). That was a confidence-booster, but it was followed by very bad anemia and symptoms and three missed workouts. I decided to stay true to my tempo pace/feel and see how I felt. I could always slow down. 

When the gun went off, I let the large group of faster runners go, and ran conservatively. By the half-mile mark, I was in the position I'd stay in for the entire race, with the exception of one teammate passing me and me passing one other runner! Mile one was uneventful, and I felt normal. I ran right around 6:30. Same with mile two. But during mile three, alarm bells started to go off. I started to feel a very recognizable sense of fatigue and breathlessness. It was exactly how I felt at the end of the Rocket City Marathon, the race that prompted me to finally check an iron panel (and how I found out I was HELLA anemic!). My pace started to slow, then dropped off precipitously. Around that point I passed another woman, which put me as the third female in our start. I was pretty sure I was second now in the ten mile, because I knew my teammate Michelle was first in the ten mile and Stephanie was likely running the half marathon to defend her title from last year (when she was pregnant, I might add. Both women are Olympic trials qualifiers in the marathon). But just in case Stephanie was doing the ten miler, I wanted to make sure I was top three. Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:31, :28, :30

But my glory didn't last long, because Tom came up rapidly behind me and passed me like I was walking. This was not thrilling to me because Tom and I are similar in ability and I can usually hang with him or even beat him. That day I had NO response. Basically I was toast. Miles 4, 5: 6:34, :34

Then we turned around and bam, there was that headwind. I laughed because the strong headwind meant we'd had a strong tailwind on the way out, and I STILL felt that bad! Now that Tom had firmly passed me, I was running totally alone, but I did get a bit of a boost from the other runners still heading toward the turnaround. Miles 6,7,8: 6:45, :48, :52. 

And then I was really alone, and really fatigued, and really miserable, and I kind of gave up. Miles 9 and 10: 7:04, 6:48. Total time with the Garmin extra 1:07:07. I can't believe I ran a "7" mile in there! But I really am not beating myself up. I had JUST had surgery, and I was able to run faster in tempo workouts recently and in The Speed Project in worse conditions, so I'm pretty sure this was just an off day due to surgery and anemia. I will be back and faster soon!

Meanwhile, David and the baby ran the 5k, and David was second in his age group! All that stroller running he is doing is making him faster! I was second female and won a plaque, a wooden spoon, and a big andouille sausage. David also won a plaque and sausage, and that is my kind of award. I don't want a trophy or something. Give me something edible any day! 

Post-race was a bit weird because of COVID - awards were rushed and then we all dispersed - but we really enjoyed being out in the beautiful weather and seeing our running friends. I have to say I think David missed it as much as I did! Once I feel really recovered I will sign up for the next race I can around here. I got my rust-buster out of the way and I'm ready to run fast again.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Weathering Zeta

New Orleans was in the cone of uncertainty for SEVEN storms this season, which is simply unfair, and Zeta finally hit us. It came ashore as a category two, but it moved past us blessedly quickly, sparing us the flooding that New Orleans always worries about. It was really just a wind event. We stayed (very few people left for a category 2), and - as predicted - lost power as the storm hit Wednesday evening. 

David took this picture of our street in the eye of the storm.

The eye of Zeta passed directly over New Orleans. This was the first time in decades that a hurricane eye moved over the city, and it was my first experience being in the eye. We walked outside to calm, eery, orange skies. We could still see the sun overhead, but all around us were dark clouds and rain. The storm circled us, but we stood on the street with our neighbors in near-silence. When we felt the first licks of wet wind, we scurried back to the house, just in time for the other side of the storm to pass over. 

It was over in just a few hours, but it left close to 80% of the city without power. We have a gas water heater and stove, so we were fine: I made pasta for dinner, and we read books by candlelight. We didn't get our power back until Friday night, so we ended up staying at my in-laws on Thursday. They live in an area with underground power lines, and never lost power. David took the baby over there (his daycare was closed) so he could work, and since the storm brought a cold front, we decided to sleep over. Our house has no insulation at all, and it was low 50s, so we knew the baby would be cold. We were lucky to get power when we did: many people didn't get it back until the weekend. 

This old church lost a window.
I used some window shards to make a necklace pendant and earrings.

Damage to our street was minimal. The old church on the corner sadly lost a stained glass window (the church has been there since the 1860s when our neighborhood was part of the city of Carrollton in Jefferson Parish, prior to annexation to New Orleans in 1874. It has burned down twice and was destroyed in a hurricane once; the current building is from 1917) and - I am really most upset about this! - the wind absolutely smashed my hibiscus. I loved that tree, so I am very unhappy about that! 

This year has been absolutely bonkers with hurricanes and storms and I am appalled that storm Eta has the audacity to turn our way. Hopefully this week isn't a repeat!