Tuesday 26 November 2013

Overcoming Setbacks ... again, again!

It's not the coughin' that carries you off - it's the coffin they carry you off-in!

Setback #3

My third setback started at the end of August, just as I was starting to recover from my foot injury and dragged on for months. It didn't stop me from running, but it did make it more difficult.  I had a bit of a bug that lasted about 3 days and involved a sore throat, a tickly cough, head ache and pain that started in my head neck and shoulders and over the 3 days worked its way through my whole body. Most of the symptoms passed, but I was left with the tickly cough.  I ignored it for a while until urged by friends and family to get it checked out with the GP.  There are signs all over surgeries these days, and leaflets, saying things like “If you've had a cough for more than 3 weeks your doctor wants to know.”

I'm not a frequent visitor to the GP and I must admit I only went when my family and running buddy 'encouraged' me to go.  To a degree, the coughing had become like the wallpaper to me - I hardly noticed it any more - but other people pointed out that I was coughing frequently.  I saw one GP when I’d had the cough for a month.  She listened to my chest, told me it wasn’t chesty and said to come back if it didn’t improve in a few weeks!  I went back in a few weeks – it was much worse.  Honestly, when I coughed I sounded like I was smoking 40 a day and I’ve never smoked!  I saw a different GP and, without any physical examination (not even a look at my throat or in my ears) was prescribed some antibiotics, which improved it temporarily and then it came back even worse. 

Gradually, I wasn’t coughing so much, but just had the feeling of a permanent ball of mucus at the back of my throat.  Naturally, whenever I ran, this loosened it all up and I was spitting every few minutes.  Eugh! – I hate doing it but I can’t help it.  A few weeks later I was given some more antibiotics, this time for a different kind of infection.  Into the New Year (this year), it returned with a vengence: cough, cough, flipping cough!  I was getting on my own nerves!

Eventually I saw a doctor who, instead of (seemingly) prescribing random anti-biotics, started to actually ask me a few more questions to rule out possibilities and come up with what he called a ‘working diagnosis’.  Most likely causes of a persistent cough in a non-smoker are ‘post-nasal drip’ (an upper respiratory tract allergy) and ‘silent acid reflux’.  I wasn’t getting heart burn as such, but I had noticed my digestive system had been noisier than usual.  So, the treatment was - daily anti-histamines for the post nasal drip, Lanzoprozol and Gaviscon for the reflux and prop myself at an angle in bed on a ‘reflux pillow’.   Brilliant.  Gradual improvement and I was only on the Lanzoprozol for a couple of months.  I had a chest x-ray to rule out any problems and all was fine.  I stay on the anti-histamines, because I still have some coughing and ‘mucus’ feeling especially when I run. 

Easier running - June 2013
It was only when this cough got better that I realised how much it had affected running.  Suddenly I was breathing much more easily and running just felt more natural again.

I had a bit of a recurrence of symptoms in March / April, and this was at the same time that everyone else in the household had a cough.  I was really quite ill for the Lincoln 10k at the beginning of April and nearly pulled out.  I should have done really, I felt that bad.  I saw the doctor again in the next week because my throat had gone red with white blobs on! It turned out to be tonsillitis so I had another round of heavy duty anti-biotics which cleared the tonsillitis and seemed to improve everything else cough related.

I am still taking the anti-histamines, because I still sometimes have that ‘mucus’ feeling especially when I run.  I still spit more than I’d really like to on runs, but at least the coughing has stopped and at least if it flares up again I’ll know what meds to ask for. 

And my point is?

Well, leading on from my post “anyone can run”, I wanted to acknowledge that it isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it, especially when family and friends are cheering you over the finish line or congratulating you and when you’re getting thank you letters from charities you’ve raised money for. ... oh and the collection of free T-shirts for finishers!

It's all worth it when you round a corner and see the finish line. Isle of Axholme Half - Sept 2013
A set back is not all the way back.  It’s an obstacle to be overcome, not an excuse to give upAs I said at the beginning, despite these hindrances, I’ve run 4 x half marathons this year.  The problems have been frustrating, but I always saw them as temporary.  I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved so far and am looking forward to running my first marathon, in April 2014.

Now I’ve got that out of the way, in future posts, I’ll write about the experiences of the half marathons I’ve completed and about different gadgets / Apps that I’ve found helpful.

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