Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paging Dr. Wait and See

You've been there before. The alarm goes off. The inward groan. You peel the covers back. Feet hit the floor. And...something's not quite right. You gather some saliva, swallow hard. But it's still there. You think, "Coffee. Scolding hot coffee will take care of this. I'm just thirsty. Something warm." It's that dreaded scratchy, dryness that starts in the back of your throat. Then it doesn't go away. In fact, it gets worse.

I feel fortunate that I'm not training for a fall marathon, but can certainly empathize with those who are. Every door handle looks infected. Every stray cough causes pause. Tall glasses of OJ become a diet staple. I actually slept in our guest room for a few nights when my wife had the sniffles, which only turned out to be allergies. I may or may not have Purell holstered to my belt. Take no chances!

As I've started to run and train harder over the past two years, I feel a deeper connection to my body. When I can push through, when I need to back off, when something is coming on, why those neck lymph nodes feel a touch swollen and tender. It's those last two that have become both a blessing and a curse. Blessing to be so in tune. Curse to know what's to come.

For me, it starts in the throat. There's a slow migration to the sinuses. Breathing from the mouth becomes essential because, well, there's no other way to take in air. Then the tide shifts and flows down to the chest and it rattles around there for another week or so. Finally, normalcy returns.

Well, yesterday morning, I entered stage 1. I tried all day to convince myself that that raspy-ness would go away. Until it got worse last night. Then I woke up this morning and not only did it hurt more, but my wife had the same symptom. My immediate thought was strep. To be fair, any sore throat I get now, I automatically think strep. I had strep back in May - the week before my marathon mind you - and it felt similar. Plus, one of my co-workers has a sister and nephew who always seem to have it. Seriously, I've never heard of two people having strep more. I swear she's a host because she never gets it.

Then I spent the day thinking it may be a side effect to last week's flu shot...but my wife never got a flu shot. Scratch that off. We went to a wedding up in Mass. this past weekend. That means flying on a plane, strangers coughing next to me, just a big iron lung of germs, really. Break out the lemon and honey.

Point is, it could have come from anywhere. After much deep thought, the only casualty of the day became my scheduled 6-mile tempo run. This was a hard decision. To call off a run, I mean, this is coming from the person who played hockey through bronchitis and had it turn into pneumonia, not to mention running an effing marathon having just barely recovered in time from, bum bum bum...strep.

I'm a big fan of the "wait and see" approach; i.e., let's wait and see if it gets worse...or better for that matter. After a day of waiting and seeing (and some hard core salt water gargling) I have to say, I'm feeling better. But the morning is the true test isn't it? Thursday is cross training day so running is out tomorrow; however, it's a crucial floor hockey first round match up for my team.

Until then, I'm in for a night of hanging out on the couch with the dog, catching up on House episodes, and one magical shot of Nyquil around 10:00. As Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland said in Cast Away, "And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?"

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