Sunday, May 13, 2007

brief moments of bliss

First of all, I bought a new bike! Her name is Rocky, and I hope to be tearing it up on the trails soon enough, when I'm well. I can't wait to ride her. I bought her used; she's in fabulous condition. I was able to get a great deal. I've never mountain biked before so I'm exicted about trying something new.

The bougainvillea on our balcony is going nuts! I can't believe how much it's shot up from last year. Aptly named, its species is San Diego Red.

Infection Update:
I am still sick. I'm thinking of starting a support group for people with chronic sinus infections. ;) This thing is really ruining my life. I've been sick for 9 weeks now. I feel like I have mono and can't breathe. I have good days and bad days. Usually 1 or 2 good ones followed by an equal amount of bad. My life is: sleep, bunny and apartment chores, lab, home, bunny and apartment chores, sleep. This lasts 4 days (the bad days start on days 3 and 4, and I try to ignore it). Finally, on day 5, I spend all day in bed and do nothing but sleep.
I have 1 more week of antibiotics to go (3 weeks total). This is the second round. On my last (3rd time) visit to the doctor (who's awesome), he decided to pull out the big guns and put me on prednisone. The doc was hoping I would bounce back because I don't have a history of sinus infections (never before this one); however, he said he wasn't surprised it was taking so long based on the CAT scan, which showed "extremely severe disease" (yippie) of all the sinuses, even the ones up in my head. He doesn't think the infection is resistant to the antibiotics specifically but, instead, the infection is so widespread and deep that the antibiotics are having a difficult time penetrating. Hopefully, the roids will suppress the inflamation of my sinuses enough for the antibiotics to more effectively penetrate the infection during the final week of antibiotics. In addition to this an the antibiotics, I'm on oral decongestants, nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, saline nasal sprays, and Mucinex for the infection. Not to mention all the stuff for my tummy so I can tolerate the antibiotics over long periods. I sleep with a humidifier. I take lots of steam baths. I flush my sinuses with ~600 ml hot saline daily. I also have an appointment with the ENT guy, who couldn't get me in until the end of May but my doc is hoping the prednisone + antibiotics will do the trick and that the ENT appointment will just be a follow-up. All of this helps. I actually think my sinuses are better. So some improvement is better than none. I just can't believe I'm so sick when I'm doing everything I can think of to get well! It's like my new project--defeating thine sinus infection.

Prednisone--a miracle drug!
Unbelievably, the prednisone started working in 12 hours. All of a sudden, I could breathe, taste, and smell again. Plus, I had energy. I'm just very scared I will feel bad again as soon as the prednisone is gone.

Things I can smell for the first time in 9 weeks that I haven't missed:
tuna fish
bunny pee
wet dog/antiseptic smell at the vet's office
Things I can smell for the first time 9 weeks that I have missed:
jasmine blooming outside
Jason's cologne on the pillow
sweet, clean smell of Taz's, Babs', and Oscar's fur
Things I can taste for the first time in 9 weeks that I really missed:
chocolate and coffee!!!
The New Weight-Loss Alternative to Gastric Bypass??? (Ha ha)
However, one benefit to not being able to smell or taste is suppressed appetite. My weight hasn't fluctuated despite lack of exercise, in part, due to the fact that I'm not very hungry. All I have left when I eat is texture. We had lemon cake in lab the other day for someone's birthday. I hate lemon. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed my piece of cake by pretending it was yellow cake. I never knew the difference. Oh, and I can put wasabi directly on my tongue, no problem. Kind of cool.
Most Awesome, Blissful, Meditative Run:
Because of the Prednisone, I felt good enough to go on a run yesterday! I have been going on short 3 mile runs/walks these past few weeks. Usually, I'm either too tired or my stomach hurts and stops the runs short. I was thrilled that I was unaffected by any of these symptoms. I planned to only do 4 but felt so good, I couldn't stop. I did 6 instead. I could breathe and smell. I felt so alive, so free. The scent of jasmine was heavy in the air, mixing with the musty smell of eucalyptus. Burts of blood-red blooms exploded from coral trees lining the center of the street,
the petals starkly contrasting against the pale gray bark. The sky was a pure homogenous blanket of baby blue, typical, yet spectacular, for this area. Once on the Rose Canyon path, thick blankets of blooming, yellow mustard grass carpeted the valley on either side of me. Tiny little lizards darted out from under my footsteps. A lyre snake lie sunbathing on the sidewalk, hoping to catch one of the unsuspecting lizards. A gorgeous male goldfinch flitted amongst the mustard grass, his bright gold colored breast brilliantly contrasted by his jet black head and back. He was so bright, I caught my breath in awe. A train roared past on the tracks in the valley alongside the path. Along the bridge under the highway, graffiti decorated the concrete, depicting a very accurate caricature of JFK with the words ASK boldly sprayed in black capital letters below. Next to it was a little four-legged devil with horns and a tail.
As other walkers, runners, and cyclists passed me, I made it a point to smile at them, even though it felt awkward, greeting them with an unspoken but understood silent message that we all outdoor enthusiasts share--the love of the freedom of getting a good sweat going outdoors in the rays of the setting sun. I felt a great comraderie, as if we all belong to some secret club. Almost everyone smiled back, although I could tell by their furtive glance and avoidance of eye contact that they felt just as awkward as I. Smiling at a stranger. How weird! Perfectly okay with me. I'm not sure I'm totally comfortable with staring them in the eye yet either. Many of us prefer to enjoy the solace of our solidarity on our outings. However, it was much more fun to count the number of people that smiled back rather than the number of people I passed (or passed me). I counted 8. Speed was the last thing on my mind.
I felt so alive. Really free from myself and my sick body for the first time in 9 weeks.
When I run, my mind becomes clear and everything negative is washed away. Stimulating creative ideas run unfiltered through my mind. When the occassional negative thought rolls in-- e.g. "I'm dissatisfied in my current job situation"-- it rolls back out again. There is no judgement, critique, or editing. Only observation and acknowledgement. Pure acceptence. I realize it's okay to not have everything in my life worked out perfectly. I'm not supposed to. And I know, for the first time, down to the kernel of my being, that everything will work itself out in time. All of sudden, I am perfectly at peace with my life and can accept the things in my life that I am not currently happy with. I trust and know that it will all be okay.
As I run, time, which is always too fast, slows down. I'm in my own bubble. Funny that I have to speed up to get time to slow down. If I could just linger a little while longer. So I ran farther. At this moment, this is all that matters. I let out a huge sigh of relief. I feel relaxed. I am strong and powerful, confident and carefree, unique and important, and, for a brief instant, I am a superhero with the power to change the world. I pick up my stride with a sudden injection of energy; my footfalls are light and springy as I soar over the ground. It almost feels like I'm flying; I am barely touching the ground.
As I reach my apartment, I slow to a walk, cheeks flushed and damp with sweat, slightly breathless. My legs are rubbery, and I know I will be sore tomorrow but I don't care. Bring it. I only hope I feel this good tomorrow.
Exercise is truly my natural antidepressant. Without it, my mood is very dark. In fact, for over a year, I took antidepressants for anxiety and depression. Once I moved to San Diego, the combination of sun and regular exercise convinced me to try going sans antidepressants for awhile. I have been free of them for over a year successfully, and I know I have exercise to thank. The effects are immediate too. It feels good to treat your body well.
Bunny Pics!
1. Curious Oscar (little watercolor pencil I did while sick).
2. Relaxed Oscar
3. Taz kisses for Rachel.
4. Rachel kisses for Babs.
5. Taz relishes pettings.


Coach Tammy said...

You gots some artistic skills, girl!

Get healthy... stop by Tuesday. I have a guest writer for SGT.

Cliff Tam said...

Prednisone? Woah..hard core. I had that after I had my liver transplant..

no weight gain that's good...from what i gather prednisone tend to make ppl chubby.

Great pics btw...

jameson said...

killer MTB.. you're gonna get addicted!

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Very cool bike! I need one of those...I'm such a gear geek.

There is nothing worse than a prolonged illness. You feel like you will never feel good will, trust me. You'll get through it and you will look back at it and not understand how you ever felt like that.

Love the bunny!!

Andy said...

First off, all the pictures are great!!! The bunnies are so cute.

I am soo sorry to hear that this seems to be a continuing condition. I think my boss and I might want to join your club. My cases were definately milder, but I have had more since my first one, which was really bad. (Had to get about 10-20ccs of some shot in my butt, my finace said she had never seen a needle that big).


qcmier said...

Wow great picks. Glad you're getting better. I've had chronic sinus infections but never anything as bad as yours. And it sounds like you had an awesome run too.

Mike said...

Rachel- hopefully this last round of meds will kill that infection! Based on your description, I wouldn't wish that on anyone!
Great post the upbeat, happy vibe there- it had me smiling! :-)

Nice careful with that MTB...those are waaay too much fun!

Kate said...

Cuute bunnies :-)

I love what you say there about running- I feel exactly the same.

Mon said...

I wouldnt miss the smell of bunny pee either. I personally place it above cat pee on the stink-o-meter! You could sell your painting, that's awesome!!!! I love the pics of the bunnies!!