10 February 2018

Nutrition goals: almost there!

I am always trying to get all my vitamins/nutrients through diet, though there are some things (E, D, Iron) I generally fall short on, which is why I take supplements (B, C, D, E, and Iron). Yesterday I actually managed to get all the necessary iron from what I ate! Lamb and spinach for the win!

05 February 2018

Never easy


I have been meaning to post a follow-up after my trip to the allergist last Wednesday, and now I've just got a call from my regular doctor, and I'm all distracted, so typing it all out seems like a good idea.

I thought the allergist visit would be fairly straight forward. It was scheduled for 8 o'clock Wednesday morning, and not far from work, so I didn't even imagine I would be late that day let alone miss work entirely.

First they took my blood pressure, which was 100/72, on the high side for me, but perfect by everyone else's standards. I got the scratch test, which revealed nothing, surprisingly. Then they did a secondary test where they did a bunch of little injections in my shoulder, and I started shaking and feeling disoriented and dizzy, and nearly passed out. I was so shaken up I was practically in tears. They took my blood pressure again, and it was 115/72 - bit of a jump in 15 minutes! I had to lie down for a while, and then sit for half an hour, and then I thought I was fine. Then we did one more scratch test and I had the weird over-reaction again - shaking, dizzy, the whole nine yards.

This, if I didn't mention before, was the same sort of reaction after giving blook last July and October. I gave blood again this January - five days before the trip to the allergist - and I was fine. This time I skipped my morning coffee, so I thought I had figured out the cause and solution.

I had mild allergic reactions at the injection site to all the things my son is allergic to - dust mites, pollen, outdoor mold. The nurse thought it was significant; the doctor did not. He suggested it was an issue with "irritants" and chronic sinusitis rather than "allergens" and suggested I come back in six months to do a patch test, and gave me a prescription for nasal spray and sent me for some bloodwork to check my immune system. He also said something about sending me to an ENT, getting a CT-scan of my sinuses and "don't worry we won't do surgery unless it's absolutely necessary." I'm sure my eyes bugged out of my head! I was expecting something more on the lines of the recommendations we got for my son - ditch the humidifier, Claritin in the summer, etc.

He also told me to take the day off and go home and rest, which I did. I lay on the sofa for a few hours, felt better, then went out to do my bloodwork, and promptly needed to lie down again.

Fast forward to this morning.

I just had a call from my regular doctor's office (they were cc'd on the bloodwork results, which I can only assume came back abnormal). The doctor said my red blood cells had been "increasing in size" over the years, and "nothing to worry about, we just want to rule out a few things," and determine whether they need to send me to a haematologist. She said they'd email me a req for bloodwork (it's been 43 minutes and they haven't sent it yet! Anxiety!) to check my levels of B12 and folic acid, and liver function.

Naturally I have been googling all the possible causes. Alcoholism - nope. Hypothyroidism - wouldn't surprise me, as Hashimoto runs in my family, but I don't have any of the other symptoms. Malnutrition - seems unlikely, as I eat quite well, and looking at the list of foods rich in B12 and folate, they are all things I eat regularly.

However, another thing that runs in my family is pernicious anaemia. There are all sorts of autoimmune diseases in the family, but (up till now?) I have never had any of these myself. Looking at the symptoms of pernicious anemia, there are many that line up with what I've experienced: fatigue, lack of energy, or lightheadedness when standing up; shortness of breath, mostly during exercise; clumsiness; irritability; numbness and tingling in the hands and feet; problems concentrating; loss of balance. All things I've complained to my doctor about for years!

So, have I been finally hit with the traditional family autoimmune disease? If so, I guess pernicious anaemia is a good one to have. I'm kind of hoping that's it, because all you have to do is take the right kind of B12 supplements (I do take an off-the-shelf one, but if I have pernicious anaemia, I'd need a prescription supplement). In the old days, my grandfather used to drink sulfuric acid with meals to make up for the lack of "intrinsic factor" due to the illness. So much more easy to manage now!

Now it's been 59 minutes and still no req has been emailed. I am doing to die of anticipation if it doesn't get here soon!

24 January 2018

Oh boy

My next "scheduled" run, if I go back to my old routine (which is the plan, it seemed to work all right) is Friday, but I don't think that will work.

Friday is also my next scheduled blood donation.

I used to give blood regularly. Then I couldn't for a while for one reason or another (pregnancy, travelling) and fell out of the habit. Last spring I took it up again on a whim (I happened to be right next to a blood donor clinic after a rally, and thought, why not?) and so I'm back on the every-12-weeks plan (and Canadian Blood Services makes sure to remind you in ten different ways if you're due for an appointment).

Thing is, despite having no trouble at all the first 10+ times I gave blood, last summer after giving a pint I felt terrible. Disoriented, shaky, nauseated - even though I spent a good hour in their rest area post-donation, relaxing and consuming their juice boxes and snacks before getting up to go. I ended up calling in sick to work the next day, I felt so terrible. It was in the middle of a heat wave, so I laid the blame on the weather (although I did make a point of being well fed and hydrated before I went).

They test your blood pressure and iron levels before you go, so "in theory" my low blood pressure and anemia should not be the issue.

My next appointment, in the fall, I booked for the morning of a Friday off, so I'd be well-rested and have time to recover after. I ate a big dinner the night before and a big breakfast before heading out. It wasn't as bad as the summer, but I still felt pretty terrible after.

So, this donation is the big one. Three strikes and out? Or will I be fine? In any case, I was pretty pooped yesterday afternoon after my first run in months, so I don't think trying to give blood right after a run would be a great idea.

Now the decision is this: do I stick to my old three-runs-a-week schedule, skipping Friday, which means no run till Sunday? Or, go for a run tomorrow to make up for it? My legs are a bit sore today, so maybe they need a run. Or, maybe they need a rest?

Who knows, maybe when they find out I had whooping cough last month they will reject me anyway!

23 January 2018

A difficult winter

I have had a fairly difficult winter so far, and as a result am completely off track as far as diet and exercise go. I can feel my jeans getting tight, so I know it's time to get moving!

In my defence, we have had some record-breaking cold temperatures. Also, I was horribly sick in December - whooping cough and shingles at the same time! Followed by noro! It's frankly amazing that I left the house at all.

That said, the slow recovery from whooping cough has made me very aware of the sad state of my lungs, and the fact that I need to get moving to get them strong and healthy again. I'm back on an inhaler - the Symbicort Turbuhaler - and hoping that will help. I have crazy killer coughing fits that leave my body aching, and I want them to stop! Interestingly, they don't seem to be brought on by exercise at all - mainly scents and smells. I am seeing an allergist next week who will be able to give me some answers, I hope.

Also, I learned recently that low blood pressure can make exercising difficult. And I have low blood pressure! Mostly when people hear that, they say, "Great, lucky you," but it can cause problems, and apparently can especially cause problems with regards to exercise. So I've been reading up on that, and how to manage it. Some key factors include pre-hydrating (dehydration can cause a pressure drop) and an active cool down (taking it too easy after exercise can lead to blood pooling in the legs). Compression tights are also recommended, maybe that's my next step?

This morning I went for a run for the first time in months. My lungs were fine. My big toe is a little achy - not hurting per se, but just kind of sending me a signal, saying, "Hi, remember me, your broken bone? Please be gentle!" I do love the fact that, even though I'm no athlete, I can do all right despite not having run in months. Only ran about 3km this morning, but when I think back to my first attempts at C25K, and how I struggled to get through the 60-second runs and barely recovered during the walks, I am astounded at how my body says, "I remember how to do this!" and just keeps going.

Hope the weather holds so I can keep going!

14 June 2017

Achievable goals

My goals for fitness are not inspirational, but they are achievable!

I am well aware of my strengths and limitations, and try to be very conscious of what I actually want out of exercise etc.: to be able to keep up with my kid, to be able to be self-sufficient in day-to-day life (which can involve running to catch up with the kid or the bus, heavy lifting of the kid or furniture, etc.), and to be able to sustain health and flexibility for as long as possible. I don't need to run a marathon, but I do want to be able to climb stairs and tie my own shoes when I'm 90.

But once goals are met, you need new goals.

My previous race goals were very humble:

  • Don't be the first to give up and walk
  • Don't be the last to cross the finish line
  • Don't sustain any injuries

I managed those goals in three separate 5k runs, so my goal for the most recent run was to run the whole way.

It's kind of funny, because when I alternate between running and walking, I see it as a failure in myself. Other people call it "doing intervals" and see it as a deliberate strategy. Maybe I need to think about how I see myself and judge myself?

Because I did meet this goal for my most recent run - no walking - but it added a minute to my time! I was being conscious of pacing myself so that I'd be able to make it, and as a result, ran slower overall - 35 minutes as opposed to 34. (Both of these are pretty slow anyway!)

But, a big plus was feeling great at the end of the race. Instead of throwing myself on the ground at the end and begging my kid to bring me water and juice and feeling like my chest was going to explode, I was able to walk away feeling amazing, like the champion of champions (actually 22nd in the middle-aged-lady class, but who's counting).

Now, we are hitting the too-hot-to-run season of the year, so unless I find a race that starts at dawn, I'll just be running solo till the weather is cooler.

I am thinking though, maybe my goal for the fall will be to sign up for a 10k?

09 June 2017

Great run today!

Nice run this morning. I was still feeling a bit stiff from Tuesday’s run, so adjusted my route to avoid that climb, but when I was nearing my usual end point I wanted to keep going so I didn’t a different short-but-steep climb, and still wanted to keep going, so added an extra couple of blocks at the end. Total of 3 miles in 30 minutes.

Feeling good!

Also spontaneously signed up for a 5k for Sunday, but now they’re saying the weather will be hot and humid... Not my ideal. But, I like having an external goal to focus on.

06 June 2017

Back at it


Well, I survived my 5k back in April, although my time was pretty poor! Shortly after we started, my phone fell out of my armband, resulting in a tangled mess of cords... sigh. I had to stop and put it all back together because otherwise I would have been running with my hands unmanageably full. This never happened before, and hasn't happened since - why race day! Argh.

To be honest though, I haven't run much since. With four or five hours a day marching on the picket line (in all kinds of terrible weather), I found myself sufficiently worn out (especially my feet) that I could not bring myself to go running on the regular.

Then, back to work a few weeks ago, I got bronchitis again, and was again not up for much!

So, I am back to the inhaler. This time, it's the Symbicort Turbuhaler, a combination steroid/bronchodilator, in the form of an inhaled powder. I think it's working, but I'm also having side effects, like fast/irregular heartbeat, trouble sleeping, and my vision seems blurrier. I may have to go back to my doctor and see if I can take something else.

But I did manage to get out for a run today! Just a couple of miles, but it felt good to get moving. I had a bit of a steep hill in there, and was definitely feeling it in my legs after that! But more importantly, my lungs/heart felt up to the challenge. (n.b. I definitely waited till after the run for my inhaler - usually when I take it I feel like I need to rest for twenty minutes!)