Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Health Post

It's truly amazing how strong I'm feeling this week. I did four miles Monday, pushing myself beyond my goal of 30 minutes because I just felt so great. I was tired from it Tuesday and ran 3, and did a recovery 1-miler with Matt yesterday.

While I think "rest days" are important, especially when training for a race, the recovery mile was perfect for what I've been doing, which is just building my base back up. Today I did an interval workout to get some speedwork in. I did it at the gym because it's been a few days since I've lifted weights, and I wanted to get both workouts in.
Have I mentioned before that I have really bad social anxiety and hate going to the gym alone?
The intervals went really well, but looking at the graph I see that my changes in pace weren't as drastic as I wanted. I was changing the treadmill speed between 6.3 and 7.3, and I definitely felt the burn at the faster pace. I was dripping sweat and really pushing myself. I felt great.

But my pace barely altered by 10 seconds. Is that what a +1 mph difference is on a treadmill? Or do I just run weirdly on the treadmill?
Beat my plank-a-day time by 10 seconds & had a great run! (Also, it was really day 32. Score!)
While this has been a good week so far for mileage (and no pain at all! Knock on wood), it's been a rough one health-wise.

I suffer from all kinds of weird illnesses and ailments. The one that's been plaguing me this week is my angioedema. Angioedema is a swelling of the skin, usually (well, for me, always) around the eyelids and lips, that is intensely itchy or painful. It's related to hives, but occurs deeper in the skin and forms a big welt instead of multiple small bumps.

I have idiopathic angioedema, which means no one really knows what causes my flareups. It's really frustrating. Through the years, I've found that lack of sleep, overheating, certain foods, and alcohol can sometimes exacerbate the issue. Along with...exercise.
Nothing like a pile of prescriptions to remind you how much you appreciate insurance.
The worst part about a flareup is that my entire face burns. I cannot explain the intensity of the pain in my entire face when I'm sweating, and trying to wipe it (or pat it) with a towel only makes it worse. Because my skin is so sensitive during a flareup, I can't even rinse it with water at the gym unless I remember to bring my moisturizer because allowing my skin to dry naturally makes it worse.

So why am I sharing this? I've talked before about the things we sacrifice or put up with for our love of running. This is another. I would rather take my Prednisone (and multiple other medications I use as preventatives), carry my EpiPen, and deal with a fiery face than give up running.

I also think it's important that I stay honest here. I've been having a really good time with this running streak, but I want my readers to know that I struggle, too, and that running remains a challenge...in more ways than one.

I'm going to leave you with something that made me smile today...you know, just to lighten the mood.
Confession: I personally find birdie pictures far superior to cat pictures. Take note, internet.
What obstacles do you power through to keep running?
What's a treadmill workout you love and want to share?

ABK

5 comments:

Kristina @ Blog About Running said...

Thank you for sharing information about angioedema. How did you get it diagnosed? I've known for some time that I have some sort of autoimmune disorder and/or severe allergy that flares up at random times similar to the description of angioedema.

Sometimes the welt like bumps appear near my lips, sometimes on my tongue and sometimes on my hands. I definitely know what you mean about the burning. I usually put a cortisone cream on (not on the tongue!) and ride it out.

I've had an allergy test done which showed I am moderately to severely allergic to every single thing on the list, so I always assumed it was related to that. My doctor said it would probably be best if I lived in a bubble :/ Unfortunately the life of a runner just isn't conducive to living in a bubble! hah.

Ali K. said...

This is going to get SO long! I apologize in advance.

First of all, I do have a diagnosed autoimmune disorder, Celiac. However, I don't think angioedema is related. From what I know, it's not at all related to AI issues.

If I recall, I went in to see my allergist (who I had for years and who did immunotherapy on me) and explained the symptoms. He said, "Oh, so you had an angioedema attack." I've had them since high school, and we've never pinpointed the cause. I DO have lots of allergies, but none of them alone seem to cause a flareup. Once in awhile, I'll just wake up and my eyes will be swollen and my lips will be sensitive (and will swell as the day goes on).

My gen. practioner keeps a refillable prescription of Prednisone for me. I carry Prednisone and Benadryl at all times. (I once forgot my Prednisone when I traveled to Panama, had a HORRIBLE flareup, and it ruined my vacation. After that she prescribed an EpiPen, but I've never had my throat or tongue swell - yet.) If I feel an attack coming on, I take a Prednisone and Benadryl and hope for the best. If I have neither on hand, cold compresses help.

I take Tagamet and Zantac daily with a Claritin. My allergist explained that the active ingredients in these two acid reflux medicines help keep histamines in check, and taken daily can help prevent attacks.

I use Aquaphor on my eyelids, because as the swelling goes down, my skin gets really dry.

The best way to figure out what causes yours is to keep a notebook. Write down what you eat, come in contact with, etc. That way, you can start to narrow down what causes your onset. For me, I know that if I go a few days on short sleep, stay up too late drinking, travel a lot/feel stressed, or eat too many apples/carrots/peaches/berries, I'm risking an attack.

Unfortunately, angioedema isn't always well-known among health professionals. I was lucky to have a GREAT allergist, and a GP who is easy to work with. There's lots of info online, too. Good luck!

Ali K. said...

One more thing. If I'm in the middle of a flare, I'll go in to see the doc and get a Solumedrol injection in the tuchus. That always speeds the healing process, but hurts so badly! I had one this week and felt like I had a dead leg for hours!

Kristina @ Blog About Running said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to write out this response! I've never had an allergist or gen practitioner bring it up, but I surely will next time I speak with a doc. I do know some of the things that cause flareups for me... fruit juices and sweets like too much chocolate will always cause problems. I don't seem to have a problem when I eat fruits in their natural form but whenever I have apple juice or orange juice I know it's going to happen... which is why I tend to avoid juices although I like them a lot.

Interesting tip about the Tagament and Zantac with Claritin. I do find that, like you, cold compresses help a lot during flare ups.

I used to carry cortisone cream with me everywhere but have since been able to stop doing that because I tend to know what is going to trigger an episode for me.

I haven't been tested for celiac, mostly because I am afraid to. Bread and pasta are my favorite things on this planet and to know I couldn't eat them anymore would literally drive me crazy. I have read a book on celiac though and am fairly sure I have it because eating my favorite foods will make me flare up 7 times out of 10. My skin will get so sensitive that anything touching it will make it flare up. The worst is carrying grocery bags or anything heavy in my hands. My palms will get incredibly red and itchy and my arms will get the welts. I know cutting out my fave foods would probably put an end to this, but I am weak. I have cut down significantly though because ... well you know.

I guess it's time to talk to my doctor and face some of these things head on instead of just blaming it all on bad allergies.

Ali K. said...

If you think you may have Celiac, get tested. The consequences of undiagnosed Celiac are way worse than a life without bread...we're talking cancer.

Besides, there are LOTS of GF options these days that are really easy to find at stores. It's not nearly as difficult as it once was.