A Juggling Act and Counting Sheep
I was on a call this week with an executive from my company. Unlike popular opinion and fantasy play, I don't run or compete in triathlons for a living, or make a "plug nickle" off my blog. In other words, I have a "day job." This was the first time, I had the opportunity to talk with him and as most people are, he was a bit shocked to hear of some of the details. I honestly feel, I cheated death not once, but twice. Once on the course, and the other time in the hospital. He commented that I seemed to have a calm about myself which I have also felt as I've gone back to work. It's either the drugs I'm still on, or the event has perhaps somehow altered my look on life.
Being in sales, there's always pressure to deliver. That pressure seems much different post accident. I am not as worried as I used to be. That does not mean that I am not driven. The drive is there and probably stronger. I have hospital bills that will start to arrive and my first of three kids went off for her second year in college. My wife is in her last year of (her return to) college. All of that adds up to what could be financial pressure.
Since I have been back to work, as the pain has finally started to wane, and I'm on less drugs than I have been (more on that below.) I have become more focused on making myself successful at work. The tricky part has been and always is maintaining a balance; work, life, kids, wife, school, finance, and priorities. Given that, what I've also realized is that I have lofty goals to return to the level I was competing at, but I need to put it in proper perspective and a proper timetable.
I have tried to maintain connection with my run and triathlon world, but as I wrote last week, it has been difficult to see races come and go with friends providing amazing results...from the sidelines. Last week, I struggled to see all the stories coming out of the Boulder Ironman. This last weekend, was the Leadville 100. I am not an ultrarunner, but have yet to witness the race first hand. I had visions of going up to cheer on Michael Aish to a victory, but Thursday night last week was another "off night" on sleep and pain management. There was no way I could muster the energy to drive five hours round-trip, walk around the race course, and cheer...all at elevation. The same weekend, was a wicked fast downhill half marathon in Denver. The Revel Marathon (and half marathon.) Having missed the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half already, this would have been my back-up race. Lot's of BQ's and PR's from that race. I would watch them both via Facebook posts. (Aish came in 2nd.)
I was delusional in my thinking in that I thought perhaps I could return for a September race. Trying to stay in tune with at least the social media aspect of running and triathlons, I have jumped into a number of twitter chats and continued to be active with my blog and Facebook Fan Page. Asking my readers, where I should run last weekend if I wanted to try in Denver, one response surprised me.
"Your season is over," he posted.
Those words stuck in me like the 12" tube that was resident to my chest cavity for ten days in the hospital. I longed to return to my PR and podium form. This was the first time, I realized that it is not happening at the end of my summer, and not likely to happen this Fall.
|Even though it was only two miles in the gym, it felt great.|
Sleep was a disaster Saturday night so I went back to bed early Sunday morning and woke up in a fog in the heat of late morning. I went out as planned for my son's senior (in high school) photo shoot, then returned home to watch some Broncos preseason football.
The hospital Dr. said "wait six weeks without question" for any strenuous activity and no travel. My primary doc told me I could try mild activity last week and a light run this week. I took the later's advice literally. Being stubborn, I ran two miles late Sunday afternoon on the treadmill. In hindsight, it was stupid. My wife was worried (as she should,) that if I was still writhing in pain at night, how could I run? The stubborn part of me wanted to prove to myself that I could still run and perhaps "rush" my recovery time.
I must admit, my pneumothorax played "mind tricks" with my head as I was nervous about how my right lung would react to eighteen minutes of running lungs. The two miles felt okay. It felt odd to have so much wind rushing in and out of those lungs when I've felt "winded" on walks the last two weeks. I hovered perhaps a 9:20 pace which is slow for me. Pre-accident slow and no disrespect to those that consider that their "fast." I was glad to feel that my body could still run, but felt selfish afterwards to put running above my family and overall health.
Sunday night's sleep was just as awful as Saturday night. I slept three hours until 12:30 PM then was up to close to five AM. A couple hours sleep then I had to get up for work. Counting sheep does not work, but counting pills (or should I say taking them) is the only relief.
I still continue to take two flavors of oxy, one tablet twice a day for slow release pain relief, and at night, an "acute" 5mg to deal with the pain from trying to sleep. This last weekend when race reports were rolling in on the internet, my mailman delivered the disk I'd ordered from the hospital of the cat scans and xrays to share with my chiropractor and local doc. Not that I'd forgotten, but the 3D image of my four broken ribs reminded me, that I didn't exactly stub my toe, I was in the ICU with major trauma injuries. It may be awhile before I return to form.
Ending this week's report on a "high note," last night was a first. I slept from 10PM to around 4AM. The first time I'd slept six hours in one block. The previous high (no pun intended since I'm "high" when I'm sleeping) was four hours. (UPDATE: Hotel night number one I was pretty tired from travel and expected another six hour night of sleep. Too much on my mind perhaps combined with a sore body from travel added up to about three hours of sleep. Now Wednesday, I'm once again thinking, there's no way I don't absolutely "konk out" tonight.) Something positive to build on in terms of overall sleep improvement. Another first? I flew on Tuesday for the first time as I get back to work. I landed with both lungs functioning. A good thing.
Thanks for all the positive vibes and comments. For now, I will try and juggle less and not rush my return. Running will come in due time...perhaps not as quick as I want.