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Thursday, May 26, 2016

If You're Going to San Fran-CYST-o...

A  few years ago, at a dermatology appointment, I pointed out to the doctor that I had a weird bump on my chest. They deemed it normal, and nothing else was said about it. 

Fast forward to June 3, 2015.

I woke up and felt more than saw that the weird bump was bigger. It was tender to the touch, but there were no outward signs of any issue. Just in case I needed to go to the doctor, I decided to take a photo of it - I even circled it with eyeliner (all I had in the bathroom!) so I could show the doctor where the issue was. You know, just in case it was cancer or something.

All the cysty ladies... all the cysty ladies

I kept an eye on it, and over the next week, it got a bit bigger. By June 10, there was a large red, angry area, but the actual bump was smaller than a quarter.

What's red and smaller than a quarter?

Boob cyst!
When I woke up on June 11, it was slightly bigger than that quarter. I hadn't been doing anything to it, because I wasn't quite sure what was going on. By now, however, I assumed that it was some sort of cyst. I've had cysts before (including a wonderful one on my tailbone!), and I knew that they were painful and nasty. 

Also at this point, it was EXTREMELY noticeable at all times, so I covered it up with a bandage while at work (I was getting tired of questions).

Is that a cyst in your pocket or are you happy to see me?
On June 12, I woke up to ONE ANGRY bump! It was so distended, the skin was shiny and it hurt SO much! I needed to take some pain relievers to deal with it.  Sleeping was hard, too, because putting any pressure on a cyst causes some horrid pains. 

Either it's a cyst, or there's one angry alien in there trying to get out
On June 13th, a teeny, tiny head appeared on the cyst, which meant the infection had worked it's way up to the skin. 


A cyst is similar to a zit; an overly-large, puss-filled zit. 


What happens with zits? Well, they pop.  


If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm showing lots of photos. 


I tell stories with photos better than words. 


You know, that whole "A picture is worth a thousand words" and all that....


If you don't like gross photos, go away now!  


I mean it. 


It gets worse from here. 


Seriously. 


Why are you still here?


No turning back now. 


Grossness is going to happen. 


Okay, here we go. 


Seriously.


Eww
Once this happens, you have to pop it in a sterile environment, because otherwise, it will pop and drain somewhere else and, well, I don't want that nastiness on my clothing. 

So, I popped it. 

Not a lot came out, and it hurt like hell to do it, but once it was open, I slathered on some Neosporin, hoping that the antibiotic would take care of some of it. Additionally, I would put my heating pad on the area - I'd been told that warm compresses were helpful.  I also called and set up an appointment with my doctor to get some oral antibiotics to try to kill it off (again, if I'd known last week what this was, I would have taken care of it much earlier... oh well, lesson learned). 

A slapped another bandage on that bad boy and went off to work. 

Waking up on June 14th, it was still leaking and looking really gross. Like, purple skin gross.  Like, I have a flesh-eating disease gross. The skin all around it was still angry, too, from having to wear bandages so much. It really hurt!

I look like I have a flesh-eating disease
I squeezed it again, and dear God, it spurted like a pastry bag.  I halfway expected some sort of SPLAT sound when it hit the mirror.  It dripped down my chest and soaked in to my nightgown.

Skin shouldn't be grey
June 15th was an especially gross day, when I woke up to see how disgusting the bandage was when I pulled it off.

Can they make maxipads that soak up this much? I mean seriously!
However, that meant that the cyst was continuing to drain, and the heat and Neosporin were working. 

My poor skin
More squeezing, more splatting.

Finally, on June 16th, I was able to see the doctor, who was just a cute little baby doc.  I showed him the photos on my phone (everything above) and he got a laugh out of the circle photo.  He tried to "express" (squeeze) some of the infection, but was unable to do any damage, so he called in the Boss Doctor, who suggested they cut it open just a teensy bit.  After I said go for it, they sprayed me with some Medicinal-Grade Keyboard Air Cleaner (seriously, it was freezing air in a can), then they made a tiny slit and tried to "express" more of the cyst.  They didn't have much luck either, but now I had a bigger hole, so they sent me on my way with some more bandages and a prescription for oral antibiotics. With those, I could fight the cyst from the inside and the outside! One, two, punch! And also, I was supposed to keep up with warm compresses to the area.

You can see where they sliced me open
On June 18th, after 2 days of oral antibiotics, real fun started happening. The pus and the blood had abated somewhat, but that was because FIRM stuff was coming out. Like, white chunky FIRM stuff.


I had to pull some of this out with tweezers
Different view so you can see how BIG these chunks are

Now, I watch surgeries on TV. I love seeing gastric bypasses. Brain surgery is awesome. 

This. Was. Disgusting. 

It was also painful as shit.  I basically had to hold my breath, gird my loins and SQUEEZE!!!! until I couldn't take the pain anymore.  

I discovered the next day that I bit my lip so hard, while dealing with the squeezing pain, that I had a blood blister!  Ouch. 

Horrid photo of a big blister
By June 26th, 10 days after seeing the doctor, and the last day of oral antibiotics, most of the ick was out, and the wound was healing.  There wasn't much seepage or anything pussy like that.

Looks like a really bad bug bite
It was even smaller by June 28th. 

I'm shrinking!
A few weeks later, June 7th, it was mostly healed and just looked like a scar. 

Almost gone
So, why am I writing about something that happened LAST YEAR?  Well, I wanted to give it plenty of time to heal so that I could show you what it looks like now. I know it's there, and I can see it in the mirror, but when you see me out and about, you may not even see it. 

Free boob shot for perverts!!!  Also, spot the scar!
The original bump is still there, and I don't think the cyst was related to that bump at all, but just an unfortunate bystander in the whole game. The bump is smaller, though. There is a slight pink tinge to the area that you can't see very well in the crappy photo. There isn't any scar tissue from being sliced, which is good - I slathered myself up with cocoa butter lotion every night, massaging the skin in all four directions to ensure that the tissue wouldn't bunch up.  

                    Before: When the Head Showed Up                                                  After: Eleven Months Later
All in all, this was a really crappy, month-long shit fest that I had to deal with. It made work hard. It made running hard. It made sleeping VERY hard. I went through a whole bottle of Aleve because of the pain. But, now that I know what this is, if I see it again, I can 'head' it off at the pass. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

I Tolerated the Green Monster - Gate River Run 15k 2016 Race Report



So, if you recall, at the end of last month, I was injured in the process of kicking ass and taking names in a RAD Fight Night.  I ran the Best Damn Race in Orlando on an injured calf and have been babying it since then.  I felt about 98% better when I woke up this morning, so I felt okay to run today.

I got up and dressed, but wasn't able to eat anything, and I've learned by now to not even try.  I brought something with me to eat in the car.

We were all up and ready to go around 5:45 - I left extra early to avoid any issues, like last year (oh, how I was so mad at that dead battery!).

Jax has crazy exits, and after getting on I-95, our exit was rightthere, and there was no way in hell we were going to be able to get over in time.  Luckily, this happened to me when I was here for a previous race, so I knew that I could go up to exit 353-C and hop onto State Street (this saves a lot of time and hassle, too).

The RED line is our "shortcut" to avoid traffic craziness
The only downside of doing this, is that once we exit to the Stadium, the PoPo is there directing traffic, and we couldn't get to the side of the Stadium I wanted to be on. We ended up in Lot D, rather than V or W, which would have been right behind the after-party area (and much easier to walk to!).

I found a great spot, right near the stadium, next to some construction fences.  However, it was near a bad parker; the bad parker took up a third of the space next to me, which wouldn't allow space for anyone to park there. It looked like there would be room, but if you pay attention to the lines on the ground, it would be way too tight.  So, I took advantage of this and left my door wide open.  Oh, so many people driving by giving me the stink-eye for taking up a supposedly empty parking spot.  We even had a few people try to park there, but give up and leave. It was actually pretty entertaining.

Really close to the stadium - just on the wrong side of it!
I'm the blue car - sure seems like there'd be enough room between me and the car on the right, right?
Nope, He's a good FOOT over the line with his right tires
We were doing good on time, but I decided to go ahead and gear up, just in case we couldn't make it back to the car before the race started.  I still had to trek all the way around the stadium to the Expo to pick up my bib and shirt! Sadly, myPowerAde, which I'd frozen the night before, with my Nathan, was still hard as a rock. Oh well - I guess it will be nice and cold for AFTER the race!

The Pre-Race/Expo area was busy as usual, but we were able to thread our way to the Expo Hall. We walked past all the Waves, so that was helpful.

Welcome!  It's crazy busy in here!
The real restrooms inside the Expo building were crazy-long, so I decided to hold it.

I don't need to pee this badly
Inside the Expo Hall I picked up my bib - I think for the first time, I was asked for my ID! - and then picked up my goody bag, which, this year, included a pint glass!  

Even if I ever get super-speedy, I may stay in Wave 3 simply because it's PURPLE!
Picking up my Pint Glass and Shirt (You can see the shirt on the lady to the left, in the shorts)
Back outside, I found a bank of potties that were kind of near, but outside of, the Expo area. There was NO line for these, and luckily, that meant they were clean and hardly-used, so I was in and out quickly.

I bib-stalked him - he finished 2:27:53
Happy walking with some bits of jogging thrown in!
Walking back to the car (why did we do this again, I can't remember... I think to kill some time), I drank my Coke.

I don't drink coffee, but I can get caffeine from soda, and I do think it helps!
We walked around the opposite way of the way we came so that we could see the Finish Line set up - I've only experienced it with the Construction Zone Finish, the past 2 years.  I like this finish better because it's a straight shot off the Green Monster to the finish line. 

See you in about 3 hours!
I sure hope they move those before runners come through!
I dropped off my goody bag at the car, finished my soda and generally chilled out for a bit. 

Soon...
After a bit of chillin', we headed - again - around the stadium to Wave 3.  I got hugs and kisses from the family, who headed to the Start Line. 

Mooooooooo
The fact that there were so many people trying to get into a very small walkway made me want to moo.  In the photo above, you can see a person in a red shirt under the "3" - this was the Security Guard who was trying to keep the peace. It didn't work very well.

I was able to bull (get it, moo, cow, bull?) my way through the crowd, which was HUGE! This wave alone houses 6 THOUSAND people. 

I don't think that chick in the pink is happy to be in my shot
I wanted to get out of the cluster of bodies, so I just made my way towards the back.  Since there was another full wave of people, I didn't stress about being "last" in the wave.  There are probably at least 5 thousand more people in the last wave!

With much more room to move around, I was able to walk around, stretch and take advantage of the potties here. 

Such a glamorous background for a Start Selfie!
They don't hurt... yet...
There are a LOT of bodies in this area
Oh, hello, servicemen!  Those are some gorgeous legs!
I had a great view of the start line, since the empty spot behind our wave belonged to wave 1 (who of course had already gone at that point).  I also had plenty of time to get my Garmin, my Nike and my RunJoy app up and ready (though I forgot to hit "Track Me" on Run Joy!)

Finally, about 10 minutes after the elites took off, our wave was moving. 

We're moooooooo-ving!
Almost out of the cowpen
There was no actual "wait here, then start" type deal, we were just fed in to Bay and told to hurry up so that the final wave could come through.  Maybe not the best choice of words from the race announcer, but I understood what he wanted.

"C'mon, there's a whole other wave behind you"
As I ran over the start line, I waved to the family, as well as to my run buddy Betty, who was running with a group of ladies, all wearing Waves. (I was also wearing Waves, so it made it seem like I was part of the group running alone... kind of weird).

We headed up East Bay Street, past the Maxwell House plant, which always smells SO good in the morning!

The best part of wakin' up...

is one lonely factory worker stalking you from behind a fence!
I noticed that Tacky Costume Girl was back this year.  I believe she was, again, in a bra.

I wonder where she finished?
We passed the Police Station and made a few turns before entering "The Elbow". Yeah, this part of Jacksonville is called The Elbow, apparently.

Heh... I guess if Michigan can have "The Hand", Jax can have an "Elbow"

I made it to Mile 1, right before the bridge. Many pollworkers were spectating outside the Supervisor of Elections office - early voting was going on, for the presidential primary. (Fair disclosure: I'm a Cruz Girl.)


Mile 1!  10% done!
I did wonder why there were no voters there - probably too early in the morning?

I caught up with Betty and the Waves, but they were on point with their intervals and eventually pulled ahead of me.

Betty's in the white hat. I think the male belongs to the other lady in the back with the black socks.
 Time to approach the Main Street Bridge, one of two bridges on this course. This one is relatively easy, since you are at the beginning of the race and still have lots of energy.

Here we come!
Hello, river!
Even if we went DIRECTLY to the bridge, it's still pretty far away!

Oooh, upside-down action shot!
Mile 2 was shortly after the bridge, and the first water stop. Also time for me to take in some fuel. I opted for some ClifShot Bloks. (I know I continued to fuel during the race, but apparently this was the only photo!)

Mile 2!  20% done!
I love these, but a package is almost $3!  Too rich for me.
Hey?!! Where's the chocolate store!
I like walking down this road because there are always lots of spectators.

Is it just me, or do these low-slung booty shorts' waistband make the girls look swayback? Not sexy at all.

Thanks for cheering, random Antique Store owner!
Mile 3!  Time to head down the road by the river, which is always very pretty and very crowded.

Mile 3!  30% done!
Also, I crossed the 5k timing mat, which sends updates to anyone who is live-tracking you.

33.3333333% Done! 10k to go!
Coming around the corner, somone put up a very funny Steve Harvey sign, making fun of his recent snafu at a beauty pagent. Spelling mistakes aside, it was cute. 

(Or, they spelled it correctly? Maybe there's a line from Finland up there!)
I caught up with Betty and the Waves again, who were at someone's house.  Probably for a personal water stop.  I was kind of jealous about that!
Knock, knock.... give me some water!
Yeah, I do!
There was another water stop at the end of this road. It's getting stoopid-hot out here; I started dumping water on my head at this point.

Jesus, only Mile 4?  40% done!
Some lovely person had a cooler filled with ice water and paper towels - sounds like a recipe for paper towel soup, but they used Bounty, so the paper towels didn't disintegrate - I was VERY grateful for this tiny bit of chill!  I stuck it right down my shirt!

Icy cold paper towel
I love this part of the road, because there is a veteran (or possibly veteranS) who live here and always hang up Armed Services flags, as well as play some really good music!

This shot is quintessential Gate River Run - spectators make it an EVENT
God Bless America, and Thank You to our Servicemen!
Exiting this neighborhood, we get onto Hendricks, which always is backed up, due to the race. Many people are good sports about this, if they find themselves stuck in traffic. Some aren't, but whatever!

Just some dude sitting on TOP of his truck - not in the bed... Carry on!
I caught up to two of the Waves, which made me feel pretty good!  I like seeing people I started with, later in the race, so I can see that I'm not that far behind.

Hey look, it's Betty!
Back in neighborhoods, it's Sausage and Beer time!  I decided to take neither - I had sausage last year and it was gross. And, of course, I don't drink beer.

Always a log-jam at this area
After meat and beer comes Mile 5, right before Atlantic Blvd.

Mile 5!  Over halfway done!!!!
I passed the Flag Guys on Atlantic; they must have stopped for some beverages, judging by that red Solo cup.  (Also, it gave me another chance to ogle their manly legs in their tiny shorts...)

To these men with hot legs, I SALUTE you!
There was also a wonderful group (not race volunteers) giving out those 8oz bottles of water. I took 2 and stuck them in my skirt pockets so that I could have them for the Green Monster, when there is no water stop after Mile 8).

I generally don't like purified water, but I'm not gonna turn down free water during a race!
We went the wrong way up an exit ramp on Atlantic before entering more neighborhoods.

So many smudges on this photo!

Mile 6 was right off of Atlantic, on Homesdale.

Mile 6!  60% Done!
After passing the mile marker sign, I passed this cutie who was up on top of a ladder with a garden hose. Unfortunately, he turned the hose off as I passed by!

The only time of year he has permission to spray people with a hose!
I passed over the 10k mat, and saw that I was making "good" time - I know that the race started like 20 minutes before I started, so I was feeling pretty good.

66.666666% done!  Just a 5k to go!!!
At this point, I think my camera died, and I had to rely on my cell phone. I tried to keep all the photos in order, but they could be off... bear with me!

There was a cute senior couple in this area and they were giving out jelly beans, but they vastly underestimated how many runners there were, so they could only 'afford' to give out two to each of us. The sugar was helpful.

Yummy, my two least favorite color jelly beans

Many people in this neighborhood turned on their sprinklers for us. Again, stoopid-hot and greatly appreciated!

Marco Rubio for President? No, but I wouldn't mind a Cruz/Rubio ticket!
More sprinklers
Hose Lady is back at it!
I'm not sure what corner they are on (I think San Mateo), there was basically a full bar this year, with many bottles of liquor and some Jello shots. Maybe next year... there's no doubt I'd metabolize the alcohol quickly before reaching the finish line!

So. Much. Liquor!
I was also passed by this very brave runner - or very stupid - for wearing PANTS!  She was so hot, she took off her top and just walked in her sports bra. Sorry, not gonna happen.  Not for me, thanks!

You go on with your bad self - hope you don't chafe or get a sunburn!
We passed a cemetery, with a group of folks right by it, including one chick who was drunk off her ass at 10am! (To be fair, I'm pretty sure they ALL were... not just her).

Thank you for spelling "cemetery" correctly
I'm not sure what their theme was this year, but they had 'Beer Sips' for everyone
Mile 7!  70% Done!
You can't really see the bridge because of my Boppers, but it's there!
Back on Atlantic, we passed a group with a horrible Trump sign.  For the most part, there hadn't been a lot of political signage or grandstanding by supporters, but Atlantic was different!

Trump crossing the Deleware with an albino baby and FDR?  I'm so confused...
At the entrance to the Hart Bridge (The Green Monster) there was about 4 screeching harpy women with this bed-sheet-size WALL of Hillary signs.  It was crazy obnoxious, and I won't even bother sharing a photo.  They weren't cheering for US, they were cheering for HILLARY.

Cute Super Mario reference (also, it seems to be hot out here...)
Mile 8 is right before you get over the water, and right when the ascent begins to get really steep. At least they didn't have the volume of the speakers cranked to 11 this year. I could hear myself think!

Mile 8!  And getting passed by an old dude with two walking sticks...
Look at those 14 chins and all the people behind me!
Right after Mile 8 (at mile 8.3)  is a "1600m" sign, signifying that there is a mile left to go in the race.  There is a bonus award for whoever finishes the final mile fastest. (Spoiler: not me)
It says 1600m, trust me
Top o' the Monster, ma!
.75 miles to go! (3 laps)
There was a DJ on the downhill this time (or at least, I remember him this time...) which was nice. He was playing good pumping music and looked dashing in his white tux and tails. 

How you doin' Race DJ?
I love the downhill because, even though I'm in massive amounts of pain and just ready to be done, I can let gravity help me, and I can also pass a good 10-15 people who were ahead of me!

1/2 mile left (2 laps) - Walking Sticks is still in front of me!
Mile 9!!!  Only .3 to go!!!!

Mile 9!!!!  .3 Miles to go!!!!

400m to go!!! ONE lap on a track!!!

I can see the chute from here, I'm so ready to finish!

Here I come, where's my medal!
I did it, I finished! My official time was 2:46:56.  Neither my fastest or my slowest.  I think, for still recovering from that calf pull 3 weeks ago, I'm good.  I came in 13,833rd place, out of 14,445, which means I beat 611 people, or 4% of the field. (Of course that means that 96% of the field finished before me!).

I got my medal and my bottle of water then limped over to where the family waited. Well, where Hubby waited - apparently they had left my 'post-race' bag in the car, and Hubby had sent the Kiddo to go get it.  When she got there, I'd already had my official finisher pic done and made my way out of the chute and was able to put on my flip-flops and drink my still-way-frozen Power Ade (soooo glad it was still mostly frozen!).

Hubby said the Boppers made it easy to spot me in the crowd and I should keep wearing them
We headed towards the after-party, with another photo shoot stop.  I grabbed some more water, and a banana for the Kiddo.  There was no milk or other good food left, so we just hoofed it around the stadium and back to the car.

Instead of walking around a mall, we headed towards a local movie theatre to see Deadpool. Yep, again.  The Kiddo, after hearing us talk about it since Gasparilla, was open to seeing it, despite the R rating and gory parts.  Hubby didn't mind seeing it for the third time, and I dind't mind seeing it for the second (I just love Ryan Reynolds).

I changed clothes at the theatre, and had the forethought to bring in a blanket this time - this theatre had reclining chairs too!

Our concession experience was much better than Tampa, too!  Fresh popcorn (though, they were stiff on the butter and salt) and Coke Freestyle machines!

Capitalism at it's best!  Captive purchasers forced to pay or do without
Luckily, I didn't fall asleep in the comfy chairs, and after the movie was over, it was time to head home for some serious comfy couch time!