This whole week leading up to the Portland Marathon has been bittersweet. I have been so pumped up and excited that I’m ready to run the thing fast enough that I pick up a sponsor like Lululemon. Or Athleta. Or any sportswear company for that matter. In fact, I’m going to deck myself out like a sucker in a neon Lululemon racing tank and cow spotted Lululemon shorts just in case they notice and decide that I’m the perfect specimen to parade around in all their clothes. Ha! I don’t think they regularly sponsor midpackers but we’re allowed to dream,right? I’m thinking I’m going to sport this outfit but maybe with the neon yellow shirt this time. This is from the Wildwood Trail Half Marathon back in July:
Anyway, my point is, this week is remniscent of my first marathon back in April 2012 because I wish my husband Mike was going to be running it with me. When I say with me, I really mean about an hour ahead of me, but you catch my drift. On April 22, 2012, exactly a week before the Eugene Marathon, Mike decided he was going to go for an “easy” bike ride to “spin his legs.” About 15 minutes later, I got the call that no one wants to receive: My husband had been hit by a car. Luckily, he was smart enough to call me and tell me so that I wouldn’t panic. So, I did what any wife would do. I got off the phone, and had a full blown PANIC ATTACK!
After I gathered myself enough to operate a vehicle, I drove to the scene of the accident where I saw a tiny boy (the driver was 16 years old) who looked like he might also be having a panic attack. I was so angry with him at that moment that I had tears streaming down my cheeks and I got out of the car and stared him down. This, by the way, did no one any good at all. In fact, he’s probably still having nightmares about the Devil Lady with Horns who tried to curse him that day. After that brief, joyous moment, I ran over to Mike and found him with a worthless ice pack on his knee that was already lukewarm. But he was ALIVE! I was a little worried though, because he wasn’t making any sense at all. His first words were, “Well, this may slow me down a little bit at the marathon next weekend.” What?? He couldn’t bear weight on his left leg, it was growing in size by the second, and he couldn’t even bend it to get in the car to go to the ER. I didn’t want to ruin his day any more, so I quietly agreed with him. Secretly, I was reminding myself to have them check his head in the ER.
After 6 hours in the ER, Mike had an Xray, a couple of pain pills, some killer road rash, and a giant knee immobilizer for his giant knee. I should note that no one checked his head or checked for internal injuries. We got him home around 10:30 or so, and he decided that he was going to take an ice bath to try to get the swelling down. About 10 minutes later, I was helping him out of the tub because he couldn’t bear weight on the leg and things started going downhill.
First, Mike wants me to be sure to include the fact that I was checking out his bod, so I didn’t notice right away how his face was quickly losing color. We sat him down on the toilet lid to get dried off, when all of the sudden, Mike was gone. Lifeless, like a rag doll. And then there were the convulsions and twitches that you never want to see happening to a loved one. PANIC ATTACK!! Thoughts of internal injuries, head injuries, and other terrible thoughts were flooding my mind. I quickly drug him down onto the floor and put his feet up on the toilet seat. Apparently, adrenaline can make you pretty strong… I ran out of the room in search for my phone, called 911 and told them my dilemma. By the time I got back into the bathroom, he was awake! So much so, that he’d actually gotten himself back into sitting on the toilet. Apparently, when I ran to get my phone, he woke up, realized he was on the floor, and climbed back onto the seat so that I wouldn’t worry. He was trying to tell me he was fine, but he was slurring his words and still looked like a ghost, so I told the ambulance to come take him away.
The ambulance crew arrived and I already had him back down on the floor in the living room compulsively taking his blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen sats. I saw the look when they walked in, you know, the subtle exchange between medical personnel that says, “This lady is batshit crazy.” They slapped an EKG on him and were whispering to each other about ST segment elevation, etc etc.
“WHAT?!” Oops, I let batshit crazy lady come out. ST segment elevation can be a sign of a number of medical issues, but the one that was sticking out in my mind was MI, also known as a heart attack. Based on their leads, the ambulance drivers were suggesting acute pericarditis, also known as swelling in the sac surrounding the heart. They swept him off, back to the ER. I had a moment in the house to gather myself and some warmer clothes for Mike, considering he’d just come out of the ice bath.
When I arrived at the ER again, I found Mike hooked up to yet another EKG. This one was not showing ST segment elevation or any other abnormalities except for Mike’s usual bradycardia also known as “slow ass heart rate.” Mike has a resting heart rate that averages around 40 bpm,which qualifies him as superhuman. After another 4-5 hours, Mike was diagnosed as having a fainting spell and sent home again. Thanks to pain pills and exhaustion, Mike slept fairly well that night. Unfortunately, his batshit crazy wife stayed up half the night checking to be sure he was still breathing.
The next week was hard. One of the hardest weeks of my life. I was still scared something else was going to happen to him, I was scared I wasn’t doing a good job caring for him, and I was terrified of what was to come with his knee and other orthopedic injuries. Mike is an incredible athlete, so I thought he might never get back out there. However, please remember that my sport is running, and when runners get hurt we think that we will never run again. Oh the drama!
My parents came in town the next weekend for the marathon. My marathon mommy was planning to run the second half of it with me. Such a badass! It was nice to have family around for the marathon weekend, what an experience that was! Mom always said she would come and run it with me if I ever actually succeeded, hell I’d only been trying to run one for 6 years. Thanks to minimalist running, I ran a half marathon within 5 months of wearing those cray cray toe shoes. I hadn’t run over 10 miles since the My Hip is Going to Fall Off Disease incident, which was 5 years prior to beginning to wear Vibram Five Fingers. More about VFF’s and how to begin running in them in future posts.
The marathon was amazing. Well, mostly. I had to pee just about every porta-potty stop, and waited at least 3 minutes for one. I guess I was excited about the race and my body’s response was PEE EVERY 5 MINUTES! I also got choked up around mile 22 thinking about how Mike would probably be finishing the race if he was running. My mom saw it happening (as mommys usually do) and redirected me so that I wouldn’t totally lose it and go into PANIC ATTACK mode again. I don’t think I hit the infamous “wall” except for maybe at mile 25. I literally wasn’t sure if I was going to finish the race. One mile seemed like a holy eternity away, but luckily the last half mile was inundated with good natured folks cheering us on. Then there was that lady again, who somehow was in three separate spots on the course, holding up a sign that said “Smile, you’re fresh as a daisy!” Not only was she holding up the sign, but she was saying it over and over again with a huge smile on her face. How do you not love that lady? I wanted to tell her she saved my life!
Crossing the finish line was very surreal. My mom was there and it was one of the most memorable moments of my life. Not to mention, the Eugene Marathon finish is on the famous Hayward Field, the ol’ stomping ground for Steve Prefontaine. Show love. I finished under 4 hours, which was my secret goal. My public goal was to drag myself willing or unwilling across the finish, dead or alive. My time was 3 hours, 58 minutes something or other. I’m convinced if I didn’t have to pee so many times, I would’ve come in a few minutes prior. For the upcoming Portland Marathon, maybe I’ll take my co-worker Becky’s joking advice from this morning and just pee myself. Just kidding! Maybe.
Despite Mike’s leg continuously swelling during the long hours that I was out running, he cheered me on to the very finish. Thanks to crutches from a local Portland company, Keen, and our wonderful co-worker Farah, Mike was looking pretty fly with his black cadillac crutches and knee brace. Here are some pictures of us at the marathon:
So what’s the most important thing we learned from this experience? We are incredibly lucky. Let me count the ways, for real.
1. Mike is alive and well and is training again. He just destroyed the Portland Triathlon. And he just went surfing last weekend.
2. Mike got hit by that car, but the sweet, sweet mother and her 3 babies crossing the road were spared. She was our guardian angel who was there right when the accident happened to console him and prevent him from trying to get up when he was disoriented.
3. We understand that there is a bigger reason this happened. Because of this, we could not be more in love. We also appreciate every day just how fragile our bodies are and have learned what we can do to speed the healing process. We truly believe that the things Mike ate and how he took care of himself after the accident are directly related to his superhuman healing capabilities. More about healing foods in posts to come.
4. We have a new appreciation for our patients and the caregivers who care for them. Those relationships are so precious and so incredibly difficult at the same time.
This has certainly been a rockin’ year for us, but we have big plans for 2013. Mike is making a comeback! Now if I can only catch up…