A Slight Change in Plans
Oct 14, 2010 by Lori Jomsky
Growing up with a childhood illness, I learned at a very early age that the show must go on. I had no choice. It was my way of survival , my way of having a childhood, and perhaps a little forced by my parents too.
My childhood left huge stamps of impact on my adulthood. Perhaps maybe not all for good depending on how you look at it. It made me a fighter, made me a multi-tasker, and made be a believer. I learned to appreciate the gift of people who go out of their way for you. Something you can never return to the giver, but the importance of giving that gift back to as many people as possible.
And, I learned to not be very good at being sick. Ok, if you know me well, you know that is an UNDERSTATEMENT. I am not good at it. I always think whatever I am experiencing is nothing compared to my youth, and I have spent enough of my life in bed. I believe the only times I have ever called in sick to work, were the three times that I was in the hospital. I am not saying that I have not been sick the 19 years I have been fortunate to work for the same company, but I go to work regardless. I go on with life regardless. That is how I operate. It is me.
So this brings me to my marathon, I have been training so hard for…. between long work hours, raising three kids, attending their games, volunteering in their classes, and volunteering with team in training. I am supposed to run a marathon this Sunday, October 17th.
What would stop me? I mean seriously. I will run with pain. I will run with toe condoms. I will run with kinesio tape. I have run with plenty of injuries. Duct tape please. But this time, I cannot duct tape my health. And the show must be paused (ok just temporarily…you really think I would pause for that long).
I got taken down. It was from an allergic reaction to a sulfa antibiotic. I have learned lots of people are allergic (so is my mom and daughter), but some of us are more allergic than others. And, I got to be one of the lucky ones. Actually I am lucky. I am writing to you right now.
I developed a fever shortly after starting to take the medicine. I was achy. I did not feel right. I ran Monday night and I felt a bit better. I just needed to shake it off. So I ran again on Wednesday, but after my run I was a mess. I had a fever…it was a high fever. I needed to sleep. I went to work Thursday, but was a mess. I asked an associate to lead the meeting for me. I would still be there. The meeting was important, but I was not on top of my game. I drove myself home after the meeting. I had 103 fever. Please not now. Please. I have a marathon to run in a few weeks. So, I drove myself to urgent care. Unfortunately, the doctor did not pick up that this was an allergic reaction. And, that the amount of pills I was given were too many. I needed three days max of the prescription. I was given eight. And, I was on day six. He believed it was a second virus and to stay on the medication (actually prescribed me a second one to take once done), and off to my home I went.
I couldn’t get my fever to break. I have had it now since Wednesday, possibly earlier. It was ranging from 101 to 103 degrees and I am popping Tylenol and Advil and it was simply not working. I was delusional. I stayed home from work on Friday. I couldn’t even feel what was happening to me. Jules’ brothers were all over with their children and I could not go downstairs to say hello.
Jules came home from work around 8:30 and instantly started semi-panicking pulling the sheets off of me. I vaguely can remember him saying I was broken out with a horrible rash all over my body. It was everywhere. I had no idea. He wanted to take me to the hospital, but I fought him. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to get sick from the other people. Hospitals are where you get sick. I will be ok. He made me go. Don’t worry, I was still fighting it in the car.
I looked like I had the chicken pox, hives, measles, and a terrible sunburn all at the same time. They diagnosed me quickly at the hospital. I was allergic to sulfa. They pumped me with steroids, benadryl, and a few other things during my time there. The highlight of my time at the hospital was looking as hideous as I could, and the doctor said when he lifted my shirt to examine me that I had nice abs. And, then he repeated it again…seriously you have nice abs. And, then asked me if I work out a lot. My new best friend. I told him about my marathon. And that I need to be ok. He said, well as long as they don’t drug test you. Those steroids I gave you will show. I started to laugh….oh, I am not on their radar. I don’t win marathons. I just run them.
He sent me home with several medications to take. It should make me sleepy. And, I should start feeling better.
So of course, I have to be different. The medicine they gave me had the opposite effect on me. Only happens to 2% of the people. I could not physically fall asleep. Not for one minute. Not for one second. I wanted to rip my skin off. It was now itching and burning badly. Not just from the outside. It was burning and itching internally. I felt like I was being cooked. Just so you know, I did not sleep for one minute for three entire nights. I physically could not.
I did not get better the next day. I got worse. The rash got worse. The fever was still there. I was swelling up inside. Jules was out trying to be there for our children coaching soccer. And luckily…thanks to the telephone game (or texting game) my friend Jenny, alerted our friend Sally, who alerted her husband who is a Pharmacist. Well, maybe not exactly like that. But close. He took one look at Jules and said you need to go home, get your wife, and take her back to the hospital. And he did. I did not argue this time.
Not sure all that got sent through my IVs….Epinephrine, steroids. Shots in my arm. Blood taken from multiple locations on my body. I didn’t care. I felt terrible. We spent the day the ER. My blood results did not come back so favorably. You know those ranges on blood results, well in several categories I was way out of range. And, then the look, I will never forget. The doctor’s mouth dropped open when she looked at my liver blood count. She was not happy. She needed to call a specialist.
Turns out with severe sulfa allergies this is common. And, then there is me…but I have a marathon that I need to run.
On Sunday morning Jules had LA Triathlon. He was exhausted. He couldn’t sleep in the same room as me. He was worried about me. So, I did what a good wife does. I told him to go. Well not really, I gave him no choice but to go get it done. He was a mess, but he went. And he got it done.
The next week is a bit of a blur. Doctor appointments and blood work. Blood work still coming back poor. Blood pressure so low, I could not see straight. So, what do smart people. Um yea, I went to work. Not that fast. My boss Mike, who knows me very well, took my keys from me…and sent me home. I did make it back one more time that week for the company annual photo. Not sure I want to see it, almost fainted in the photo and got driven home.
Things finally started to turn for me by Friday. Blood results were improving. I was on the mend. I was able to get a full day of work done from home and started to feel semi-alive again. On Saturday, I made it to my children’s soccer and water polo games and was re-united with Starbucks.
I broke the news to Jules on Saturday night, I want to run on Sunday. Let’s just say it was a lively discussion. He told me, if he told anyone they would tell him to put his foot down and say I could not do it. The doctor told me I could run and I promised him I would run slow and only do what I could. I swear. I needed to be back out there. I needed to be with my team. So he supportively went with me on Sunday. I ran slowly. I ran 8 miles. I ran support for a wonderful participant. We got it done together. It felt really good.
Coach Emily, my friend, was extremely supportive. She told me whatever I decided to do, she was there for me, as long as it was safe for me to do. At this point, I was changing my mind every 30 minutes. Every scenario was going through my head. The show must go on, right?
My friend Lisa had booked a plane ticket from Texas for the sole purpose to support me in the Long Beach Marathon. Just a week after running Chicago, she still wanted to be there to cheer me on and celebrate the journey with me. My friend Greg from Twitter was coming down too for cheering support. How can I possibly back out. I can’t.
And, my running partners, Candice and Eric. I needed to be there for them. I wanted to complete this journey with them. We saved up our very best stories for the course. We needed 26.2 miles of material. How could I let them down.
I needed to talk to my friend Chris. He is my coach, my friend, and the one who originally helped me believe I could run my first marathon. I needed his guidance. I was so confused. I felt like my head was spinning off of my body. I am not 100%. I know I could make it through the marathon, but is this the best thing I should do. I spoke to my doctor. She gave me semi-permission. Ideally, we need to check my blood again next week, to ensure I am 100%. She reminded me my body has gone through the ringer. I have clearance to run, but should I run a marathon on Sunday?
I cried today. I got it out. I am done crying now. And, yes the show will go on. Not this Sunday, but on January 16th, 2011. I will run the Arizona Rock N Roll Marathon. And I will kill the course. And be thankful for small blessings. Thankful for health, Thankful for family, and Thankful for friends.
And, I will raise as much money as I can to help those who need people fighting for them. Because I can. I will.
My Fundraising Page
Sep 25, 2010
“The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want something” Randy Pausch
I am a slow runner. I have been injured more times than I care to admit. I have learned parts of the anatomy that I never knew existed. I am willing to use duct tape to cover my entire body as long as it would help me cross a finish line. I will not give up.
I work hard. I am far from a natural (not even close). I have learned to do my mid-week runs at 11 at night to fit them in and not take away from my family.
I know I will get better over time. It was not very long ago, I wrote to you that running 30 seconds was a challenge for me. Three marathons later, I am writing to you as I prepare for my fourth full marathon in Long Beach on October 17th, 2010.
I am training for Long Beach Marathon while part of support staff on a volunteer basis for Team in Training raising money for LLS (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) fighting to find a cure for blood cancers. On team, my role is to support others with a common goal to fight cancer, helping them reach the finish line…many of them for the very first time. I am there to help them, just like others have helped me to believe it is possible…that they will cross the finish line.
But, most importantly we cannot stop the fight to find a cure for cancer (or any diseases). Every week at team practice, one of our honored teammates speaks to us about their battle they are fighting. There is a common theme they share with us and it usually starts like this, “Thank you for being here and waking up at the crack of dawn to come to practice taking the time away from your families. You made a choice to be here. A choice to run. A choice to help raise money to beat cancer. I had no choice to fight this battle, but YOU did. And, for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.” Our honored teammates, are us. They are children, parents, and young adults with tremendous hope.
One of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I write to you to help join forces and partner with me to show cancer we will not stop fighting. The progress LLS has made has saved lives.
Much love and thank you for your support!
All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives.
Please make a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission.
P.S. The picture above / few of the many Team in Training crew that I have had the honor to run and mentor with since I joined this amazing organization. The photo was taken just prior to the start of LA Marathon. Go Team!