Sicknesses and Such

December has not been my month. Or my family’s month. Or my friends’ month. Or my co-workers’ month. Everyone has been so sick! It started out fine – with my first 4- and 5-mile runs. I also did my first pre-dawn run. But then I got some sort of food poisoning the second week of December. I had made healthy turkey tacos on Sunday, had some for dinner that night, and then packed it up for my lunches for next 3 days. I felt fine on Sunday, but after lunch on both Monday and Tuesday, I felt horrible. My stomach hurt, then I got nauseated, and then I got my #1 sign that I’m about to vomit – I got extremely tired and could not stop yawning. I did not get sick either day, and I did not think it had anything to do with my food.

So when I worked from home on Wednesday, I ate a second smaller serving, meaning I ate more of the food (turkey, salsa, cheese, avocado, and crunchy shells) as the previous 2 days. I got so unbelievably sick. Both ends. I was scheduled to donate platelets for the first time since my tibia injury (platelets are necessary for bone healing, so I couldn’t afford to give away any of my own), but I had to cancel my appointment. I couldn’t keep anything down. I was up all night puking, and had no choice but to call out of work the next day. I rarely take actual sick days where I don’t do any work, but I needed it. I felt better on Friday and actually had a great run mid-day (since I knew I’d have to be on a conference call well into the evening).

But then on Saturday, I woke up with terrible menstrual cramps. As many of you know, I basically die once a month for a couple of days. I finally broke down and went to my doctor for relief, and we have a plan for moving forward that meant this was going to be my last miserable month. But boy was it miserable! I was unable to move from the couch all day. On Sunday, I stressed myself into running 7 cold and hilly miles. I felt OK during the run, but I paid for it afterward by needing to be on the couch for another 2 days – including on Monday, another full sick day from work. I didn’t even feel well enough to go into the office on Tuesday morning, but I forced myself to and was actually glad I did. I think leaving my apartment, seeing other humans, and putting on real clothes – all for the first time in 8 days – was enough to kick my body out of sick mode.

I felt good again Wednesday and Thursday, but struggled through my end of strength training workout on Friday morning. I left feeling horrible, thinking I might throw up. I was so nauseated that I couldn’t even shower. I worked, but did most of it horizontally from my couch.

I know that I have a tendency to internalize stress, and apparently I let it get so bad this month that it manifested physically. Instead of running for an 8-mile run then heading to my mom’s to start my Christmas break on Saturday, I spent it doing all the things I hadn’t done the previous 2 weeks – baking cookies, cleaning, doing laundry, and packing for my week out of the city. I almost went for a short run but decided being on my feet all day, baking cookies for 11 hours, was enough.

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Jess and me after 8 freezing cold miles.

On Sunday morning, I met Jess for the last 4.5 miles of an 8-mile run. Every step was a struggle because my body was so stiff and my energy was zapped, but there was no pain or discomfort. I finally got to my dad’s house, and it wasn’t long before my normal post-long-run-dehydration-headache turned into a full-blown migraine – my first in probably 6-7 years. I certainly haven’t had one since I moved back from Florida in early 2012. I had to lie down in complete darkness and silence for several hours until I felt well enough to eat dinner, and even then, I was passed out on the couch within 90 minutes of eating dinner and then went to bed where I slept through the night like a baby.

I indulged in food, wine, beer, and even some sherry with my next-door neighbors on Christmas Eve, then finally wrapped gifts a bit drunk around 11pm and went to bed. I had every intention of running 4 miles before everyone else woke up on Christmas morning, but instead of getting a good night’s sleep, I tossed and turned, hot and drunk and then eventually dehydrated and hungover. I was fine by breakfast, but there was no running for me that day.

When I finally went to bed at my mom’s on Christmas night, I felt post-nasal drip coming on. I barely slept again despite being exhausted, because my throat hurt so bad and swallowing was damn-near impossible. When I woke up on Wednesday (yesterday), I knew I was actually sick. My first full-blown cold since last Christmas. As the day went on, I got worse and my mom started coming down with it, too. Fever, chills, body aches, blocked ears, exhaustion. I took Coricidin Cough & Cold, throat numbing spray, and ibuprofen. I was working remotely but needed a mid-day nap. The nausea came in waves. I would go from hungry to nauseated with zero appetite then back to starving. I went to bed early last night and woke up today feeling better than the day before, but still not well enough to run. I had hardly eaten yesterday and knew that a run in very cold weather with so little fuel for my body to burn would only set me back when what I really needed was rest and recovery.

It’s been such an inconsistent month of training for me because of how sick I have felt for so many days, that the old me would totally stress about not getting in enough miles and forcing myself to run while sick or dehydrated or weak. Instead, this new me is recognizing that I’ve “run” myself ragged because of stress – mostly from work – and that the best thing I can do for my training right now is to be kind to my body. January is only a few days away and will be a good time to reset my system. Aside from New Year’s Day itself, I’m participating in Dry January, meaning no alcohol for the month. I’v barely been drinking at all but I don’t need one more detriment to my immune system right now!

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