I think it's about time for some good news- which started coming in about the time I wrote my last post, and hasn't let up since then.
I'll start with the medical stuff. First, the abdominal CT scan, looking for tumors, came back negative. That was a major relief. Even though two doctors told me they seriously doubted I'd be positive, it was still nerve-wracking. Next came the latest INR reading, which was a robust 3.1. To put this in perspective, 3.5 is about as extreme as they go, which is for those who have mechanical heart valves. Now I get to have two weeks between blood tests instead of one.
The downside to all of this is that we still don't know what caused the clots. That's important because it can determine how long I'm on Coumadin. I know it will be at least six months. But if we don't find a cause, it could be a lifetime. That means no more bike riding on the road, which means no triathlons, and other activities could be eliminated such as skiing, ocean sailing and trail running. Needless to say, we still want to find the cause. As a result, I'll go to Boston for some far more advanced analysis. The search for the most appropriate doctor will be the subject of my next post.
When I saw the pulmonologist last week, I asked again about activity limitations. He said I could start back on the path to recovery, keeping my heartrate to no more than 60-80% of max. Excitement building. So I can go for a run? Yes. Great! "But I wouldn't do a road race until you've been on Coumadin for 3 months." Wahoo!!! I burst out laughing. Are you joking? The suggestion that I could do a road race two months from now gave me a huge lift. Not that I have anything planned, or will even feel ready for one by that point, but just having the prospect of being able to handle that kind of activity was a great moment. I decided then and there I'd go for a run on Thursday morning.
On Monday, I returned to the pool for the first time. It was great to see everyone, even though I received a few worried glances- Are you sure you can do this? Are you going to start bleeding all over the place? During the summer, we swim at an outdoor 25m pool in Portland. The water is crisp, clear and clean. I hopped in, swam down to the other end, turned, and pushed off. The feeling of streamlining off the wall was great. I only went 600m, but it felt incredible to be back in the pool. On Tuesday, I did a light spin on the bike, and on Wednesday returned to the pool for 1400m. The increase was after the doc said I could safely pick things up.
That night, we were hit by a series of huge thunderstorms. Leah freaked out, so she took my place in bed and I ended upstairs in the guestroom. Between the storm, stuffy air, allowing the dog to take shelter in the room, and sleeping in a twin bed (not great for someone who is 6' 2"), I didn't sleep very well. But the real reason for the lack of sleep was the anticipation for the run. It was like Christmas Eve as a kid. I finally got up around 4 and watched a bit of a movie. Then at 5, I headed out. I decided to alternate half miles walk/run, times three. It's a flat out-and-back, and I know the mileage markers. Those first running strides made my day. Sure, the legs felt heavy, slow and unstable. But I was running. I didn't care about the speed, and in fact kept it slow to keep my heartrate down. I had an ear-to-ear grin the entire way. The sun came up through the morning mist. The temperature was a perfect 70 degrees. U2's It's a Beautiful Day played. And I was running down the road. It's hard to accurately describe the feeling. I was on top of the world. It was the best Christmas in July.
Since then, I've had a few more runs and swims. It still feels great.
“You remember the rules. Keep yourself safe. Put a little joy into your life and those around you who you think may merit it. And never ever- that’s never ever- pass up an opportunity to kiss someone you love.”