Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Good News, Everyone! (Pt 3 of my Three-Part Pulmonology Adventure)

I love Professor Farnsworth!

Anyway..... on to the blog post at hand.

It’s all been leading up to this – today is the day I meet with the Pulmonologist –  I was nervous all morning!

I parked in the same parking garage, and went back to the 1st floor Pulmonology area, and this time I WAS in the right place. 

I was called back after about 10 minutes (10 LONG minutes of stupid morning news shows on the TV, with a heavy liberal viewpoint that made me want to rip my ears off) and brought to a small office. The nurse did my vitals, then left me there to wait for the doc.

Doc came in (turns out he was one of the associate medical professors, not just a newbie or young guy!) He reviewed my films, and asked why I’d had them done outside of the hospital. I told him it was because if I’d had them done at UF Health, it would have cost me $58, whereas having them done off-site cost me $0. He also asked why I brought actual films instead of a CD, and I told him that the letter sent to me said “bring films” – he laughed and said that that really meant a CD of my films. Oh, well – I guess I’ll know for next time!

Anyway, he asked me all sorts of questions. Do I have allergies? Do I have pets? Do I have carpet, and how old is it? How long have you had these issues? So many questions!

After answering all those questions, he kind of looked at me and said that there was nothing wrong with me.  My films were clear. There were no noises in my lungs. Nothing.

He did have a few suggestions for me though – lose 40 pounds and keep doing what I’m doing (running-wise) and most likely, those 2 things will take care of any breathing issues I may have.

He had a few other suggestions as well – he prescribed Singulair for me, suggested a sleep study to rule out apnea, and, if the Singulair didn’t work, an inhaled corticosteroid.  I took him up on the offer for Singulair, but said that I’d wait on the other two to see what the Singulair did for me.

So, I’m relieved for once in my life to be told that I’m fat and out of shape! I was SO scared that at the end of this journey I would hear “COPD” or “Emphysema”. I was so worried that all those years of smoking (and the previous years of second-hand smoke from Dad) would catch up with me.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Follow Up Ultrasound

Today was my 6-month follow-up to see if the growth in my breast was getting bigger.  If you recall, back in October, they found a “something” in my breast that wasn’t a cyst, but wasn’t a lump. They were 99% sure that it was a fibroadenoma or something equally benign, but they wanted to follow up with me to make sure.

I got there on time and didn’t have to wait very long. I got half-nekkid in a changing room and was taken directly to the ultrasound room. I thought that I was going to have to have a repeat mammogram, but nope, just the ultrasound!

Not only did I only get an ultrasound, it was only of the right side.  She propped me up on the cool wedge pillow, gooed me up with lube and checked me out, then took the results to the doc.

She came back about 5 minutes later and told me that whatever it was (we still had no idea for certain), it was getting SMALLER!  Cancer never gets smaller (well it does, I guess, when it’s going away, I dunno).  She said that the doc was no longer worried about this at all, but to make sure sure sure, I would come back in another 6 months for yet another ultrasound. 

With a weight lifted from my shoulders, I got dressed and headed off to work, with a quick pitstop at Publix for some lunch. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Just wrap your lips around it.... and blow (Pt 2 of my Three-Part Pulmonology Adventure!)

Today was my second appointment in my quest to figure out why I can’t breathe as well as I think I should – I was off to get Pulmonary Function Tests done.

I drove up to UF Health (aka Shands Hospital) and parked in the garage, and walked the LONG walk to the Pulmonary/Cardiology office on the ground floor. I used to work at Shands, a long time ago, and man it looked different (I’ve not been here in a decade).

Oh, I was in the wrong place.  I was told to go to the 6th floor.

At the 6th floor, I found Pulmonology… as well as an old coworker!  She and I shot the breeze while the receptionist looked me up…. and told me that I needed to be over at the Medical Plaza (an entirely different building). 

So, back downstairs, out the way I came in, past the parking garage, over to the OTHER building, then up in the elevator to the 4th floor, following lots of signs, feeling a bit like a rat in a maze, until FINALLY, I was in the right place!

I check in and wait in the lobby – no one else is here – and I was called back after about 10 minutes.

I’d done my research and watched some YouTube videos of PFTs last week, so I kind of knew what to expect.

Here is the tube that I needed to blow through.

You know how to PFT, don't you? Just put your lips together and blow...
First, was to breathe all the way in then breathe all the way out, forcing all the breath out even when you think you have no breath left.

Second was to breathe all the way in then SHOVE all the breath out, using your abdominal muscles (not your throat or chest muscles). I kept screwing up that one, using my throat, and choking myself.

Then third, she gave me a bronchodiolator and, after 10 minutes, had me repeat the first test to see if there was a difference.

The entire time I was doing these, I was in a little plastic bubble room.

Bad photo of the Little Room
It made me think of those old game shows where they would put you in a booth with money and a fan to blow the money around (most notable example: Dorothy on Golden Girls episode “Grab that Dough!”).

My mother always gushed about how she loved Dorothy's wardrobe
All in all, it was a very easy experience. For all of the tests, the tech put a clamp on my nose so that I didn’t leak out any air. That was weird!

Once I was done, I got a parking voucher (so I wasn't charged for parking) from the receptionist and headed back to my car. On the way back to the office, I stopped at Winn-Dixie for some breakfast (it was too early to grab lunch to bring back to work). I got a cream cheese coffee cake muffin and a diet Dr. Chek (or whatever they call it). The muffin was gross.

Next week – the finale – I see the Pulmonologist and see if he has any answers for me!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WDW Half-Marathon, here I come!?

Or not....

Ever since Wine and Dine sold out, I’ve been planning to sign up for the WDW Marathon Weekend Half Marathon.  Early registration for passholders came and went, and I wasn’t able to sign up, due to budget. I figured that I would be able to save up enough in the next month or so to be able to sign up when the regular registration came around.

I was wrong.

Since it is the 10th of the Goofy Challenge (Half-Marathon and Marathon), the half sold out a LOT quicker than expected.

WDW Half marathon sold out in just three days!  Last year, it took over four MONTHS to sell out!

The marathon is still available, as is the Goofy Challenge, but I’m not an idiot!

However, now BOTH of the Disney races I really wanted to do have sold out quicker than I can pay for them. 

I guess I’ll start banking for the 2015 Wine and Dine and the 2016 WDW Marathon Weekend Half-Marathon!  Certainly gives me PLENTY of time to save up!!!  If I start today and save $20 per paycheck, I'll have $460 by the time Wine and Dine comes around again! Barring any exorbitant (ha!) price increases by runDisney, that should cover BOTH races!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

OH ONE!!!!!! Equal Access 5k Race Report

In my quest to do a race every month, I found this race on and registered three days ago. It’s an inaugural race, and not a lot of communication, so I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there.

The course was the same course as Fallen Heroes, but it started/finished at the Museum (instead of the Commuter Lot). This was going to be weird…

I got there pretty late, with only about 5-10 minutes to spare. I hate being ‘late’ to a race. I feel rushed and I can’t get my chill on before I get to the start line.

I was able to get my packet, which included my bib and a black tee (they were out of the XXL I requested, so I had to settle for an XL tee).

Black in Florida? Who thought that was a good idea?
I headed back to my car (which was parked in a GREAT spot) and got ready to go. I had inhalered in the car, so I just needed to stuff my pockets and pin on my number, before heading to the start line.

This is how close I was able to park by the finish line!
The entire Pre-Race area
Luckily, a lot of people were running behind, because they pushed back the start time to almost 8:40.  I was able to warm up a bit more before heading to the start line.

Yep, it's gonna rain....
The front of the line - before I make my way to the back
Finally, though, we started and headed off, following the same route as Fallen Heroes.

So lonely... and wet
I missed the Mile 1 sign, but my split time was 14:55, so I was doing well.

It was, of course, raining again. I’ve joked before that every time I do this route for a race, it rains. Today is no different.

The guy in the orange shirt (way up there) is the guy I walked with for a while
Once I got to about Mile 2 was when my damn self-consciousness kicked in.  Two girls (this race was dominated by people whose age still ended with ‘-teen’) came bounding past me, giggling and shouting ahead to a volunteer. They said that they were late to pick up their packet, so they RAN HOME to drop off their stuff and then got back in the race. Really? I’m over here busting my sparkle ass just trying to be able to run 60 seconds at a time and you went HOME to your dorm room and you are still in FRONT of me now?  Seriously, screw you.

Like, these girls can suck it!
They got in my head and I just didn’t want to do my intervals because I didn’t want to look like a fat cow, trudging by them, breathing like a bull, and then have them pass me again, when I took a walk break.  So I just stayed behind them for a while, hating them.

Spoiler alert - it did
Once they seemed to be ahead of me by a bit, I started up my intervals again, and ended up pacing one older guy who was there in jorts. We talked for a bit, and he told me that he was overcoming a heart issue, so we walked together for a while.  Eventually though, I took off again. I was ready to finish this stupid race. I was mad at myself for my self-consciousness, I was mad that it was raining again and I was mad that I was surrounded by kids I was old enough to be a mom to.

I came up on the finish – where you had to cross a busy street to get to – and man, I was even more pissed when I saw my time – when I crossed under it said 50:01 – OH ONE!!!!! – but my official time was 50:02 (Garmin confirms this).  Dammit! I can’t blame the weather, I can’t blame the heat, I can’t blame anyone but myself for being so slow this time.

No volunteers stopping traffic or anything at this point either
Yay, I finished. Can I go home now?
After crossing, I went to find some water and the Jimmy John’s food they promised when I signed up. Are we at ALL surprised that there was nothing left except for one sad little veggie sub?  Oh, there was a bunch of bananas, granola bars too, but the good food was gone or demolished. There had been multiple trays of chips and salsa too, judging by the mess, but all that was left was crumbs and drips. I honestly can’t even remember now if there was water for us!

I was able to get these before runners' family members started to scavenge
I hopped over to my car to drop off my iPod and clear my pockets, then came back and checked results, hoping against hope that maybe my chip time was sub-50 (it wasn’t).  It looked like I beat about 10 people or so (official results said I came in 128th out of 140). Not great, but not last!

Cool printout by Milestone Race Authority
Full results - I'm #128
However, I about lost my shit when I saw this (I got a screencap later):

I'm SECOND!!!!! And she only beat me by 4 minutes, too!
I came in SECOND in my age group!  Okay, so there were only two people IN my age group, but it counts dammit! I could actually get an age group medal!

Screw that "2nd place is the 1st loser" shit - I came in SECOND!!!!!
Oh, but as soon as they started awards, all hopes were dashed – they weren’t DOING age group awards, just overall male and female. Again, screw you, race. The ONE time I get top 3 in my age group, there is no age group award….

I stuck around for the raffle, but I didn’t win anything.  I never do. I grabbed a bit of swag from some of the booths, but feeling beaten and dejected, even with my top 2 finish, I headed back to my car and headed home.

I keep small bottles in my run bag for Porti-Pottie emergencies
My cat LOVED the ping pong balls and The Kiddo loved the Hipster Douche glasses
This race just sucked for me, and even though doing it again next year might score me another age group 'win', I most likely I won’t do it. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

I Vant to Suck Your Blood (Pt 1 of my Three-Part Pulmonology Adventure!)

Today was Part 1 of my fun, three-part pulmonology adventure!  The boring stuff!

First off, labwork.  I originally scheduled my labwork to be done at a lab near my home, but then I realized that the place I had to go to for my x-ray was way across town, I rescheduled my labwork for the other lab, near the imaging place.  Much better!

It was busy when I got there, but I think I only waited about 10 minutes for my name to be called (I was also early).  The lady who drew my blood was masterful. I hate getting blood drawn – the draining feeling is too weird… But she talked the whole time and never gave me that “okay, 3…2…1….” warning which was good because she just stuck me while I wasn’t paying attention and she was done before I even realized she stuck me! I complimented her on that, and she says that, even when a patient requests a countdown, she usually sticks on 2 because they aren’t expecting it!

After that, I had to figure out where the x-ray place was. I’d forgotten their address and I couldn’t get any wireless on my iPod.  I sat in the car, trying to use the Garmin to find it, when I happened to look up and across the street…. Yep. It was literally across the street from where I was now!

So, in I go and I was seen pretty quickly.  And I was x-rayed pretty quickly, too. Maybe a bit too quickly.  The tech told me where to stand and to count to 3 and take a huge deep breath. Well, I got to 3, and hadn’t even taken a breath when she took the x-ray!

I waited in the lobby for my films (the letter from the pulmonologist said that I needed the films) and then I was free to go. (Good thing too, I was getting hungry! I had to fast for the bloodwork, so I’d not eaten since dinner the night before!)

Once finished, it was time for lunch.  A few days ago, I began debating what I wanted to do for lunch, and both Red Robin and Red Lobster crossed my mind. Thanks to the Intarwebz, I was able to check nutritional values for each.

Red Robin is calorie hell, y’all.  Like, seriously 1000 calories for a cheeseburger kind of hell.  That doesn’t include the FRIES either!

So, I checked out Red Lobster and decided that if I got the Pick 2 meal, I would be okay:  Fried scallops, shrimp scampi, baked potato with sour cream and butter AND 2 biscuits, all for I think 800 calories! 

So, that’s what I ordered. I forgot it came with a salad, so I did have a few more calories, but here’s the awesome part – I ate some of the salad!

You know my picky eating issues… I’m trying to overcome them and try something new when I can. Today I decided to try some of the lettuce. I was able to eat it, with some dressing (but not drenched!).  I think I ended up eating 4 or 5 pieces before I gave up, but I did it!  Also, I didn’t pig out on biscuits even though the server brought three (instead of two).  The meal wasn’t as good as I was hoping, but ironically the potato was excellent!

After that, unfortunately, I had to go back to work.

Next up… Pulmonary Function Tests!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Can I do it? Will I do it?

I just realized something the other day… I’ve done a race per month this year so far (January, February and March)….  What if…. Just what if…. I did one race per month for the whole year? 

I bet I could do it…. I already have ¼ of the year done, and I know of three more concrete Must Do races…

Here is what I ended up with, when I put it all down and found an April race:

January – Celebration ½ Marathon (DONE)
February – Princess ½ Marathon (DONE)
March – Gate River Run (DONE)
April – Equal Access 5k (Registered)
May –
June – Stop Drop and Run 5k (Must Do)
July – Melon Run (Must Do)
August –
September –
October – Jacksonville Marine Corps ½ Marathon (Really want to do, but not signed up yet)
November - ?? St Augustine 10k or ½ Marathon (unsure which one to do)
December –

I wonder if I can actually do this?  August worries me – it’s hot and there’s usually not a lot of races in that month here in Florida… and I don’t want to do a virtual race. I want to do a real race.

Off to stalk!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

More health issues?

Okay, so remember how, after the first Princess, I went back to my doc and she prescribed an inhaler for my exercise-induced asthma? Yeah, well I’ve been using it, but it seems like I’m still not breathing how I feel like I should be breathing.

I use it before every run, even short runs on the treadmill. One puff for short runs, two puffs for more than 2 miles. 

Back in October, when I did the 10k in Celebration, I was wheezing by Mile 4 and I couldn’t keep running!  I was kicking myself for not tucking it in one of my Sparkle pockets. But I didn't think I would need it!

Anyway, after that, I began really paying attention to how I breathe. 

I get winded walking the ¼ mile from my car to my office. Granted I walk fast, but still…

I also still get winded going up a single flight of stairs. I’m trying to do the stairs instead of the elevator because 1) it’s good for me and 2) our elevator is about a million years old and I don’t want to die.

However, I don’t know if I’m getting better or not.  You know how when you take a huge deep breath, you get that FULL feeling all the way down to (seemingly) your toes?  I don’t get that. It feels like there is something sitting on my chest, or my pants are too tight, or my bra is on the wrong hook, and I can’t quite get there (ever yawn, but not get all the way there? It’s like that). 

I find that, especially in bed, I yawn a lot. No, not because I’m tired, but because I’m not breathing deeply, and yawning is how your brain gets oxygen quickly. Sometimes it gets so bad that my heart starts racing and I can't calm myself down enough to go to sleep!

Hubby has told me a few times that when he comes to bed, he sometimes has to put his hand on me to see if I’m breathing or not – I breathe so shallowly that even in my deepest sleep, he can’t see my chest rise and fall!  That’s kind of weird.

So, I decided that it was time to bring it up to the doctor again. 

I went and saw her to get a refill on my Massage Therapy prescription and brought this up as well.  After talking for a bit, she decided to refer me to a pulmonologist for PFTs (Pulmonary Function Tests), as well as more bloodwork and a chest x-ray.

So, here’s the fun I get to look forward to:

April 18th – Bloodwork / Chest x-ray
April 23rd – PFTs
April 30th  - Pulmonologist Appointment

We’ll see what happens. I’m scared that I may hear COPD or Emphysema….