Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My Inability to Walk

This is the first time I have written about what happened, and what I went through, after what was to be a simple office procedure. It is a very emotional and difficult time on which to reflect. I had symptoms of Nystagmus (involuntary eye movement), my hands were involuntarily grasping/grabbing, and a neurologist had concerns about weakness on the left side of my body. In 2006, I received an MRI scan, and was given a lumbar puncture - a procedure done at an office visit to rule out MS.

I went home after the office visit, still sedated on anti-anxiety medication, and went straight to bed. When I awoke, it was to a living nightmare. I couldn't get out of bed, and was experiencing more pain than I ever had in my life.

It was at that point my life drastically changed. I had to sleep beside my mother, so I could wake her when I needed to get up. At the age of 24, I had quickly regressed to infancy, lifted from bed by a tired mother.

The pain was unbearable to the point where I couldn't walk without the assistance of crutches, often using a wheelchair when I could find one. I couldn't get up from a lying position, I even required a catheter for a period of time. Beyond my physical pain and limitations, I suffered mentally. The combination made a simple lighthearted conversion impossible. A friend I had known since kindergarten would call and say she missed me, and just wanted to talk; I remember telling her to stop calling. I could barely work, which meant my credit score went from 'amazing' to 'default' very quickly, and was brought to near financial ruin.

I forced myself to do a few four-hour shifts at work, often taking bathroom breaks to cry of pain resulting from simply the standing my job required. For the most part, I was not working because co-workers could see how dire things were, and quite honestly, I was unable to fulfill my duties.

I was enrolled in physical therapy, received injections in my groin area, wore a TENS unit, and was prescribed a cornucopia of pills, including neurological medications, muscle relaxers, pain medication, sleeping pills, as well as anxiety and depression medications. I asked the doctor how long this could last, and his answer was 5 or 15 years; he didn't know. At this point, no medication could ease my pain enough to live normally, and nothing could lift the devastation that hung over me.

Over the course of about 1.5 years, I frequented hospitals in the area when the pain was too overwhelming, or when I was unable to urinate. Adding insult to injury, I was often treated like a drug addict, receiving neither answers, nor relief.

The doctor who performed the procedure (and many neurologists in general), will tell you that what I've written here is not the result of a lumbar puncture, that it simply wouldn't happen. Well, let me tell you: it DID happen. Not only to me, but to my little brother at the age of five, when a hospital visit was needed to rule out meningitis. He was admitted to a Children's Hospital in Detroit for months, and the doctors claimed it a was mystery, and even tested him for Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). It wasn't until I had mine years later, that I made the connection of the lumbar puncture with the pain and inability to walk. I speculate there may be a genetic abnormality in our spines, making such a response to having a lumbar puncture a reality. This is further evidenced by a (closed) sacral dimple on my daughter's lower back at birth. She is fine, but she will never receive a spinal puncture as long as I have a say.

There was no point of 'healing' or 'recovery' since then. It has been a slow and gradual 7 years since, and I still occasionally deal with nerve pain. There are times during the year which I spend up to a week lying on my back as much as possible, just waiting for the pain to subside.

Although it is still hard to reflect on, there is an overall picture where I find strength within the entire experience. I have come so far from where I was, and so very slowly. I see life differently. The sun shines a little brighter than before. I appreciate the little things in life. I celebrate the simple things, like walking; just living life (for the most part) not in pain. Never in my life did I imagine I would be running. But here I am, and I feel like a living miracle.

Ghost N Gobblins 5K- 2013

The busiest race I have ran so far! around 4,000 people registered for the Dayton, OH Ghost N Gobblins 5K. What an experience it was! A local group I am part of ran as a group.

Things I learned? Get to the starting point a bit early. For the first complete mile it was like trying to run though a club. We had started in the back (what can I say, I had to use the potties and the line was long!) and had a lot of walkers/slow runners to get past- in volumes.

I'm happy with how things went though. I know there will always be a bit of a crowd at a popular race, but I will applaud any race that has staggered starts ;)

I had already planned on taking it easy. Being 23.5 weeks pregnant and not used to running on cement OR in evenings- I knew I would be a little out of my realm.

I went to have fun- and you bet I did! And guess what? I didnt do so bad after all!

Official time was 37:01 min and my pace was 11:57 min- @ 23 weeks pregnant? I'll take it!!!! :D

Before race photo

After Race- with the Moms Run This Town Miamisburg, Ohio Group (I am pictured on the right)

A Setback- Planter Fasciitis

A little before my first race I had a setback- Planter Fasciitis.

Planter Fasciitis is a painful inflammation of the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot. Mine was/is located along the arch, though some will also feel it in the heel. I have only had it once before while hiking, so bad that I bailed on the group I was hiking with. It is quite often the biggest 'injury' fear to a runner. 

At first I was crushed reading pages about how it can take 6 months to heal and the #1 recommendation is to stop running for a period of time. 

I decided to do everything I could to heal it and take things day by day. 

What did I do?

I stopped running, stretched my foot and calf through out the day and rolled my foot on ice atleast twice a day. I have not had the pain return since it has healed!

My recipe to healing and prevention: 
  • Dont ignore the first signs of pain! The sooner you put time into healing, the less time it will take!
  • Stop running and any other activity that can further irritate your foot. Basically, take it easy. Which is not an easy thing for a runner with an upcoming run on their calendar. An alternative? Try swimming or biking for cardio in the meantime. Who knows- maybe that will give some inspiration to do a triathlon!
  • Ice your foot minimally 2 times a day. Best thing to do is to take a disposable cups and fill them halfway with water and freeze. Run the frozen cup under warm/hot water for half a minute or until it easily comes out and place into a ziplock bag. Try to get the air out as best as possible. Roll the ice on the arch of your foot for at least 15  minutes. I always wear wool socks and that kept a perfect barrier from the ice so I didnt hurt my foot with it being too cold. If you dont have wool socks you can add more layer of socks until your foot is chilled but not in any pain from the cold. I kept 3 cups on rotation in the freezer; took one out, put one in and if I didn't get around to replacing it, I had two backups! 

  • Stretching! Every morning (when the pain is the worst!) and though out the day I would stretch not only my foot, but also focus on my calf. Best time to stretch is with warm muscles- try after a shower or after a short warm-up run- sometime after your first half - mile of running.

  • Once you feel your foot is ready for a run- take it slow! It wont hurt while you run but you will know the next morning if the pain is still there.  

  • Continue to make sure you stretch to PREVENT Planter Fasciitis from coming back. Chances are if you have had fascia pain in the past you are more likely to have it return. 

More on Prevention: 

  •  Don't increase mileage too fast. I often read to only increase 10% at a time. 
  •  Warm up /stretch before a run
  •  Make sure you are fitted for the correct shoe and support. Your local running shop should have a professional that will fit you properly. 

My First Virtual Race!

I completed Oh Baby! Race hosted by Fit 4 Life.

It's simple:
  • Sign up for the race online and print your bib.
  • Pick at date/time/location and distance for your run
  • Do the race and track your time
  • Enter your data online to complete! 

It's great for those that have really busy schedules. Those who want to set personal goals and have an incentive to do it- especially between races. Also, if you are part of a group- you can get people to run together as a small-scale race.

I ran a 5K on my own stomping grounds where I run trails every Sunday. Here is the medal and an adorable onsie they sent for my little running buddy when she comes!

A group called Mom's Run This Town (find a group in your area!) that I am a part of throws two virtual races a year, summer and winter. I am definitely looking forward to running more virtual races!

Keeping a Training Regimen

Twice a week I participate in a local program called Stroller Strength. We do various strength training and cardio fitness. I am very grateful for this program- it gets me up out of the house bright an early and I each day I look forward to it. I am always welcomed with the (often large- up to  wonderful group of ladies that attend and get an amazing fitness workout from the instructor. My daughter comes with me and enjoys being there as well. She often cheers me on, "Go Mommy! Go Mommy!" is what she says when I am running, her in tow. I have this program to thank for keeping me on track with my weekly routines. 

Call your city or township to see what fitness programs they have to offer. If they don't have a program- Start one! Your town will thank you!

Detoxing Your Home- Non-food Items

It's time to be aware of how you treat the biggest organ in your body-  Your skin. It is the largest and fastest-growing organ in the human body. It is the vital layer that protects your insides from the outer surroundings.

So why is it necessary to switch your cleaning and bathing products?

Absorption. Transdermal medications show how effective this can be. They have patches for nicotine, pain, birth control, among many others that are administered via the skin.

Now lets go back to the products you use, and what your skin has exposure to.

Can I ask, what is the deciding factor on which product you choose to purchase- is it cost? Smell?

Now, lets go though your daily routine. Wake, shower, put on lotion, brush my teeth,over the counter acne medication, put on makeup, occasionally use a tampon or pad, dress myself, put hair product in my hair to style, drink some water, eat breakfast, wash my hands, do some laundry, clean the house.

Now, had I really paid any attention to WHAT I was using? Had I read the labels? Most products used in the store contain many of the top allergens (wheat and soy protein are very common!). And most contain chemicals to keep them shelf stable (preservatives) that are carcinogens. 

When I first started I slowly switched over my old products with new alternatives. There was some trial and error, as some of the first products I had tried I found unsatisfactory.

Take for instance, Shampoo and Conditioner- I had tried some products that left my hair greasy, some that made my hair feel wet all day, some that dried out my hair, some that made it feel 'squeaky'? (Ew! I never knew that could even be a possibility!) I also found that some products claiming to be 'natural' indeed had ingredients I found unnecessary and undesirable to use on my body.

So lesson #1, and this lesson will be repeated throughout- READ YOUR INGREDIENT LABELS! Not just on your food, but any product you purchase.

Did I see a difference? Yes. I have twice as many eyelashes then I've ever known. My hair is thicker. I dont sweat or smell as much when I strength train or run. My face has less acne. My skin looks more vibrant and I can swear my skin even looks a bit younger (less wrinkling) !

A great website I used when I first started  to make the switch is Skin Deep  a non profit website where you can search specific products and the website has ratings for hazardous or toxic ingredients. Bonus: they also reference to studies and reports.

It can be pricy making the switch. As my products ran out I just replaced them with healthier alternatives. Some products can even be made at home- I have now gotten to the point where I make my own deodorant, dish washing tablets, shampoo/conditioner, laundry soap- and my next project is to make bar soap!  Future blog worthy? You bet!

So start taking notice of how often your skin comes in contact with day to day products. Also, what you are breathing in- air fresheners and perfumes. Start reading labels and educating yourself on what you feel to be safe or unsafe to use.

I highly recommend doing a detox from conventionally used products and see how your body reacts! 

Here are the following products/items I have used that were up to my standards:

Pictured from Left to Right: 
Meyer's liquid hand soap
EO Performace Shampoo and condtioner
Witch hazel- face toner
Coconut Oil-face moisturizer/deodorant
Shea Moisture Baby Head-To-Toe- for the little ones!
Alba SPF 45
California Baby SPF30+
California Baby Bug Repellent Spray
(second row)
Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap
Jason PowerSmile toothpaste
Hugo Naturals Soap

Pictured from Left to Right: 
Eucalan Wool Wash
Baby Ganics All purpose cleaner
Meyer's Shower spray
Meyer's All purpose cleaner
Meyer's Laundry detergent
Baking soda- Ingredient for homemade cleaning products.
Kosher salt- Ingredient for homemade cleaning products.
Grab dish soap
Washing Soda- Use as directed and also an ingredient for homemade cleaning products.
Vinegar- Ingredient for homemade cleaning products.
Olive Oil- to remove sticky residue
Lemon Juice- I get the super cheap kind (marked Not For Food with a sharpie!). Ingredient for homemade cleaning products.

My Little Running Buddy!

Lets go back to my first race- a 10k back in June. Little did I know that was baby's first race too! I was unknowingly at the time about 6 weeks pregnant. We had been not trying, but nor preventing and I thought if I DID get pregnant it would have been the few months before the race- not that month of! My husband had been not home much for that entire month because due to work and as ultrasounds confirm, I had ovulated at a strange time of the month. Low and behold, the best surprise a mom could ask for!

My doctor assured that my running was still safe as long as I kept hydrated and cool and I have been running since. All of my ultrasounds and blood work has come back more then satisfactory. We are so blessed <3

At around 16 weeks I could 'feel' my tummy and purchased a support belt- that fixed that problem. And around 20 weeks I started to slow down a little bit, I assume from extra blood volume, but I am still just so enthused that I can run and still feel so great doing it!

Cant wait to meet my little running buddy!