Monday, December 28, 2015

Getting back to normal

I had my last IV infusion (for hydration) after the second round of chemo last Wednesday.  My IV port was de-accessed afterward, and shouldn't be accessed again until 1/6.  Last Thursday, on a day with record-setting warm temperatures, I got out for a nice walk with my dog.  It was a windy day and we lost electricity for a few hours.  I have to admit that 3 hours of quiet darkness was kind of welcome early on Christmas Eve.

My nausea is a lot better.  I'm still taking some medication, but it's as-needed rather than on a schedule.  The bone pain that comes from the Neulasta injection started to show up on Thursday.  I felt it in my sternum for the first couple days, and then in my lower back, hips and femurs yesterday and today.  I have some pain medication that works very well against this pain, and I should be able to return to CrossFit today.

We had a really nice Christmas.  There weren't huge numbers of presents, but it was just a day to be surrounded by family.  I got a pressure cooker that produced an amazing dinner really quickly last night.  A record.  Some concert tickets.  A book.  And some cash.  I got my wife some new workout clothes and some nice jewelry, including a beautiful but simple diamond pendant from a jewelry maker named Adel Chefridi.

But, it was really just nice to be with family for the day.  Yes, I know I repeated myself there, but I'm sticking with it.

Saturday, I headed to Sugarbush to teach skiing for the weekend.  Because we have limited terrain and the ski season is off to such a poor start, not many skiers showed up.  Conditions were firm (read: icy) for most of Saturday.  I was assigned to teach the students I had last season, which had me very excited.  Regretfully, only one boy showed up, so I didn't get to see everyone.

The mountain is sending a second coach out with me every day I work.  I've been protesting this a bit.  My main argument has been that I'm there to work, and I don't want them to be doing me favors.  If they need me, I'm there.  If they don't, I'm OK with that.  But, after a conversation with a friend on Saturday, I decided to stop arguing with my boss.  I have worked for the mountain for many years; I'm in my 16th season as an instructor.  They've made a lot of money from my work in those years.  My boss sees me as an integral part of her team.  So, I'm just going to take the help.  And, from their side, if I do have a problem, there is a second coach to take over, so I know they are protecting themselves as well.  To paraphrase Kevin Costner in Bull Durham "I'm just happy to be here and hope I can help the ballclub."

The second coach I had on Saturday was young, but he's a solid coach.  Because we only had one student between the two of us, I worked with the other coach as well.  The other coach noticed a fundamental flaw in our student's skiing.  I was already working towards fixing it, in two steps.  He suggested addressing the problem directly, but I suggested a different approach that seemed unrelated to the issue at hand.  But, my suggestion, which was simple for the 7 year old student to implement, worked.  It was a "teaching moment" for the other coach.  He saw an alternate way to go about fixing an issue.  I even coached him on his personal skiing as well, so I think we had a good day.  Our student got better and another coach got better as well.  I wish I could say that I felt like I skied well, but the icy conditions had me bracing against my outside leg too much and not flowing downhill very well.

On Sunday, I had a different second coach, but no students showed up at all on a rainy morning.  I went out and skied on my own for a while, and I was able to relax in the soft snow.  It was the first time all season that I felt like I was skiing at the level I expect of myself.  After free skiing for a while, I attended an indoor clinic, and learned some new stuff.  All in all, it was a good day despite the rain.

Tonight, it's back to CrossFit, and I'm very excited about getting to lift tonight.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Done with Round #2

I was released from the hospital on Saturday night rather than Sunday morning.  The pharmacy was able to mix all of my chemo drugs quickly all weekend, and the doctors sped up one medication to get me out a bit early.

I finally got disconnected from the IV for a while on Saturday and happily walked 12000 steps around the hospital before I went home.  In 4 days in the hospital, according to my FitBit, I walked 5K, 5K, 8K and 12K steps - those are thousands of steps, not kilometers.

My nausea was a little bit worse than last time, but it's been manageable so far.  I just have to remember to take Zofran or Compazine every 4 hours, and be careful what I eat.  I was able to eat dinner last night, but not the dinner I made for the rest of the family.  Some things just don't sound very appetizing right now.

I returned to the hospital this morning for a liter of IV saline and a shot of Neulasta.  I had no idea until this morning how expensive Neulasta is.  I get one injection after each round of chemo.  The average wholesale price per injection is about $5K, and the retail price can be almost $9K.  My wife told me that the Explanation of Benefits from the insurance company showed about $20K in expenses for the entire first round of chemo - all drugs and appointments lumped together.

Late this morning, I got confirmation of my appointment with Samuel Singer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC.  I will be seeing him in January and he will probably perform surgery on me in late February or early March.  He has already been consulting with my oncologist on my chemo regime, so he is aware of my case.  He is widely considered one of the top liposarcoma surgeons in the US, if not the world, and I'm glad I can be treated by him.

For now, the goal is to recover from the chemo.  I will probably rest today, but start walking on the treadmill again tomorrow.  I need to catch up on my sleep.  The nausea will fade day by day.  My taste buds will start working again by the end of the week.

Then, over the weekend, I'll get to deal with some bone pain from the Neulasta, but that's just something I have to endure.  I've heard that the pain can lessen with each dose, which would be a welcome relief.

And then, if I recover well and the temperatures on Thursday don't melt all of the snow in Vermont, I'll be teaching skiing this coming weekend.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Two days into chemo cycle

I've got nothing unusual to report.  Some mild nausea - maybe worse than last time - but we are staying on top of it with meds, hoping to prevent any vomiting like I had last time.  I can still drink coffee, so the nausea can't be too bad.

The dexamethasone is causing its normal water weight gain, and some headaches, but Vicodin works great for the headaches.  I've been getting the Vicodin and then taking my IV pole for a walk in the evenings.  I wear a FitBit and I'm trying to make sure I get at least 5000 steps per day, which is tough when limited to a single hospital corridor. One of the chem drugs is so toxic that they'd need a Hazmat team if I wandered off the floor and it spilled.  So, my walking is very limited.

Food is still going down OK, although the list of what sounds appetizing is shrinking.

I've been planning a New Year's get together with some old college friends. The thought of that and being out of here for Christmas is helping a lot.

Otherwise, I'm trying to get some work done to pass the time, and I'm working my way through House of Cards at night.  Last night, I got 9.5 hours of sleep.  That's good, because once the chemo stops, I'll have a couple nights of insomnia due to the steroid.  So, I want to sleep now while I can.

I guess everything is just about where I expected.  The next big moment of anxiety will be the results of my next CT scan on 12/31 to see if the chemo is helping.  Plus a visit to the Big Apple to meet my new surgeon. I wish a wintertime trip to NYC could be more of a vacation, but we have other priorities at the moment.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Half full or half empty

Last week, I went to CrossFit Monday through Thursday.  It was the first time I'd done CrossFit on 4 consecutive days since mid-June.  In June, I was fighting anemia, and the comments in my training log indicate it was very difficult for me to get through those days.  Just a week later, I basically gave up on training as the anemia continued to get worse.

But, last week I did those 4 days with no problems.  I was sore, but I had the energy to get through them.  I took a rest day on Friday (long day in the car for a college trip with my daughter).  Saturday and Sunday, I worked at Sugarbush, but I never actually put on my ski boots.  But, I was on my feet for seven straight hours both days, helping out with very young ski students, and my FitBit says I walked a lot of steps.

Last night at CrossFit, I felt strong.  I don't mean weightlifting-strong.  I'm still far from lifting weights anywhere near my PRs.  But, I did 5x10 back squats before the metabolic conditioning.  In the latter part of the workout, I found myself keying off a friend - racing him through the workout.  In the end, I beat him by a single jump rope rep.  It was six minutes of pain and it felt good.

Today, I went to CF at lunch.  We did 7x10 rack pulls and I used a pretty decent amount of weight for the 70 reps.  Then, the metabolic conditioning was pretty simple - just two basic movements.  But, again, I felt really strong and pushed through with no rest at all.  It was easily my best workout since March or April.

And yet, it's kind of bittersweet.  It took forever, it seems, to figure out that I had anemia this year.  Then, it took a long time to figure out why I had anemia.  Then, major surgery with a long recovery.  Just as I started to feel better from the surgery, I found out the first surgery hadn't eradicated the weird, rare cancer that I have.

Three weeks ago, I started chemo.  It knocked me for a loop, but I was walking for exercise 2 days after the chemo ended, skiing 6 days after, and doing CrossFit 8 days after.  Today, I felt like I was clearly in better shape than I was just 3 weeks ago.

Tomorrow, the chemo starts again.  I'm not looking forward to that at all.  But, I also recognize that it's a choice I made and I'm sticking with that choice.  I went with the higher risk, higher reward treatment option.  Chemo is part of that.

Part of me thinks that maybe 3 weeks from today, I'll be writing that I'm even stronger than I was 3 weeks earlier.  And, part of me worries that each successive round of chemo will take more out of me than the previous round.  At the end of the fourth round of chemo, I'll be having surgery.  I want to be as strong and fit as I can be going into that surgery.

So, today's workout was awesome.  I may be able to sneak in a 5:45 CrossFit class tomorrow, but I'm betting that it's just too early for my wife, who has a very long day tomorrow.  So, my next CF class will probably be 12/28.

I just wonder which way things will go.  Will each round get worse, or will I be able to eke out a net improvement in my fitness each time through?  Only time will tell.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A brave face is pretend a lot of the time

I feel like I've just gotten over the last round. I've lost my hair and shaved my scalp. The bone pain from Neulasta is gone. I skied last weekend and I've been to CrossFit the past 3 nights. I feel pretty much normal again. Well, except for the bald thing. And, I don't take that lightly. I know many patients don't get to feel normal ever.

Yet, I'm wracked by anxiety. I've gotten about 7 new appointments in the past 24 hours. Port connection and bloodwork. Meeting with oncologist. Checking into the oncology ward next Wednesday for 5 days/4 nights. Three days of post-chemo IVs and more Neulasta. Another CT scan on 12/31. A consult at Sloan Kettering the following week. 

My wife thinks my anxiety has been because of my hair. I think it's because I'm dreading starting the chemo cycle again. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster and every time we come through the station, I ask to get off, and they just send me out for another loop. Every time I wake up at night, I think to myself "Maybe it was all just a bad dream." And then I remember that it isn't. 

Sorry. Just venting a bit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A day I was dreading

First, let's talk about CrossFit last night.  We started with 10x3 sumo deadlifts.  I hadn't done sumo DLs for a while and I had to remember how to get the starting position just right, to minimize the risk of injury.  But, it didn't take long to settle in and get it right.  I did 2 sets each at 165, 175, 185, 195, and 205.  All in all, they felt pretty good.  I had to be careful that nothing affected my chemo port, but the lifts felt fine.

Then, a 7 minute up-ladder of 3 push-ups and 3 ball slams.  I did knee push-ups and used a 30# slam ball.  The round of 3 and round of 6 went by fast.  And then, my triceps started to get tired.  This made push-ups very slow.  On the round of 9, I did the push-ups as 6 and 3.  But, on the round of 12, I was reduced to doubles.  On the round of 15, I did 7 doubles and a single.  I was losing all of my time to knee push-ups.

I ended up finishing the round of 15, and doing 18 ball slams and 10 more push-ups.  I was pretty happy with that, considering I'd skied on Sunday and Monday, and done CrossFit on Monday.  I'm a bit sore today though.

This morning, when I got out of the shower, I had hair in my eyes.  Multiple hairs.  I had to put on my reading glasses to even find the hairs and brush them away.  Then, something occurred to me.  I wasn't expecting to lose my hair due to the chemo for another week or so.  But, I looked at my towel.  It was covered in hair.  I reached up to my head and grabbed a small clump of hairs and pulled.  They came right out of my scalp.  Dammit.  I wasn't quite ready for this so soon.

I've heard people describe the day that you lose your hair as one of the toughest days in the process.  While I imagine it's true for some people, I would guess it's tougher for women than men.  It's simply not uncommon to see men who are bald, so it isn't noticed as much.  So far, it's a novelty, but not really bothering me that much.  I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

On the way to work, I realized that the hair was just going to continue to fall out all day.  I'd be shedding everywhere I went.  So, I called the place where I get my hair cut, and told them I needed a very tight buzz cut to fight the shedding.  Because it could be done so easily, they squeezed me in with the woman who normally cuts my hair.  She buzzed my head and my facial hair in just minutes.
I've been getting my hair cut here for 14 years, and I've outlasted a few different employees who cut my hair in the past. The lady who cuts my hair these days, Chantal, knew what was up and why I needed it cut so quickly.  They told me it was on the house and didn't charge me.  I did still give Chantal my normal tip, but I very much appreciated their kindness.

I will probably shave things more cleanly, and I suck at taking selfies, but this is the new me:

I talked to the nurse at the oncologist's office this morning.  We are starting to set up all of the appointments for the second round of chemo, which starts a week from today.  Between now and then, I've got a lot of CrossFit and skiing to do.  Plus, I get to spend an entire day with my daughter on Friday.  Her in-person interview for admission to Syracuse is Friday, and I'm making the trip with her.  I'm looking forward to that trip very much.  I'm not sure if she's looking forward to being stuck in the car with her dad for 10-12 hours though.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Post-chemo updates

I had some of the expected side effects after the first round of chemo.  I'm going into chemo in reasonably good health, except for the cancer cells in my abdomen that want to kill me.  I feel good and I was training hard right up until I started chemo.

I had to go to the hospital for the first 3 days post-chemo, just for a saline infusion.  The chemo messes with your taste buds, your sense of thirst, and it causes nausea.  I assume that the doctors think the patients won't drink enough, so they use IVs to maintain hydration for a few days post-chemo.

I had some odd taste sensations for a few days.  Cold drinks didn't feel cold.  I was nauseous.  My appetite was off.  I was worried about bone pain that can be caused by a medication called Neulasta, that I got the day after chemo ended.  I thought I had gotten lucky, when I got to Friday afternoon (after a Monday injection) and I had no bone pain.  But, it started to show up on Friday night, and it got worse through the day on Saturday, while I was skiing.

Saturday night, the pain got very bad and it had me shaking uncontrollably when it woke me up at 3:30 a.m.  Some high test pain medication and some blankets to keep me extra warm got things under control.  But, I was also scheduled to teach a skiing clinic on Sunday and that was challenging.

I was getting hit by waves of pain during the clinic, sometimes as I was talking, but sometimes as I was skiing.  I was trying to show good demos to other ski instructors, and all I could think about was pain.  But, I think I held it together OK and the clinic went well.  As soon as that clinic was over, I told my bosses I was done for the day.  I went home, took some pain medication, and I took a nap.

The pain now seems to be past its peak, but it's not fully gone.  I have three more of these shots in the next 2 months, and I hope the pain does not reach those same levels each time.

During the first few days after chemo, I was limited to walking as my only exercise.  I rested Monday, walked for an hour on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then rested 2 days, knowing I was going to ski on the weekend.  I didn't ski a lot of runs, but it took enough out of me that I'm glad I didn't ski any more.

Yesterday, I returned to CrossFit, but with orders to take it easy compared to my normal workouts.

The first part of the workout was 10x3 front squats.  I can't do front squats because of the chest port that's been installed to administer chemo.  If I rolled a bar across that sub-surface device, I'm sure it would hurt like hell, and maybe damage the device.  So, I did back squats, and I took it easy.  I started at sets of 95 pounds and eventually worked to 150.  With a PR of 375, I think that counts as taking it easy.

Next, we were asked to complete 3 rounds of the following, as quickly as possible:

100 single-unders (rope jumps)
30 sit-ups
10 hang squat cleans

For the cleans, I limited myself to only 45#, again to protect the chemo port.  I could still feel some after-effects of the chemo and my cardio system was less than 100%.  I got through the workout in 10:36.

In just 8 days, I'll be back in the hospital for the next round.  My goal between now and then is to exercise as much as my body will tolerate, without making myself sick.  And then, we start all over again.

Obviously, I need to make some concessions to these treatments.  I need the treatments if I'm going to have any hope of a cure from this beast.  But, I'm going to concede as little as possible, and try to live my life as normally as possible.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Chemo Update - Round 1

I seem to have survived round 1 reasonably well.  I'm getting two very strong medicines, and one of them, doxorubicin, is toxic enough that it should never touch your skin, but they can gleefully pump it through my bloodstream.  I saw my oncologist on Wednesday and she said "You look pretty good considering what we did to you last weekend."  Uh, um, thanks???

My first round of chemo started the day before Thanksgiving.  The treatments ended just before midnight on the Saturday night after Thanksgiving, although I stayed the night in the hospital.

I did have nausea and threw up a bit on Saturday morning.  But, Zofran and Compazine are fairly effective against the nausea, so far at least.  I've taken steps to have access to another very controversial anti-nausea medicine as well.  I had to skip coffee on Monday and Tuesday, and I've been eating less than normal, but doing OK for the most part.

I've been able to walk on the treadmill for an hour a few times this week.  That's the most rigorous exercise I'm allowed in the days right after chemo.  But, this weekend, I plan to ski both days.  I probably won't ski all day and I probably won't ski advanced terrain, but I hope to be out there.  I need to be out there for my mental health.

Starting on Monday, I can return to CrossFit until my next chemo, but I have to scale things a bit.  No one-rep-max lifts are allowed.  So, if things stay like this round, I'll have 5 days where I do little other than accumulate steps in the hallway at the hospital. I wear a Fitbit and I walk a lot as an alternative to laying in bed and then needing blood thinners to prevent blood clots.  Then, a couple days of rest.  Then, a few days of walking.  Then, a couple days of easy skiing.  Five days where I can do CrossFit.  Two days of harder skiing.  Then, 2-3 days of CrossFit (I think I'm going to start doing the really early class the morning I check in for my chemo), and it all starts over again.

I'm done with one round.  The plan is a second round, followed by scans and a surgical consultation at Sloan Kettering.  Then, 2 more rounds.  Then, surgery at Sloan Kettering in mid to late February.  And then, another surgical recovery, which I'm dreading.  But, I'll deal with that when we get there.

Then, maybe some radiation, or they might do the radiation during my surgery.  Then, I will wait for the next round of scans and hope this beast doesn't come back at all, and certainly not quickly.

There is still a slight chance for a cure.  But, I know it's very slight and I'm not focusing on that.  My best bet is to hope we eradicate the cells that are called "dedifferentiated".  If we can do that, recurrences should happen less frequently.  Well differentiated cells are easier to fight.  And that might buy me some quality time.  Five to 10 years is considered a good ride with my current diagnosis.

There are still other future options, such as the newly approved chemo drug called Yondelis.  But, I'm hoping that's a long way off.

For now, I want to ski, I want to work out, I want to enjoy the holidays, and I want to keep working a normal work schedule.  I want to spend time with my wife and kids.  I just have to deal with the fact that part of my body is trying to kill the host.  And hope we can stop that from happening for as long as possible, with as high a quality of life as possible.

Overall, I'm in a good place right now.  That might sound bizarre.  But, I'm happy today for no apparent reason.  I can't wait to get to the gym tonight and to the mountain to ski tomorrow.  There are still lots of lifts to make, ski turns to make, and trout to catch.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Time to Come Clean

Through the summer, I wrote about dealing with anemia.  Then, in September, I wrote about having major surgery (an open nephrectomy) on Facebook.  I talked about it here as well,  but not much detail about what was going on.  I kept pretty quiet about how I got from one place to another. In the last 5 days, things have taken another twist, and not for the good.  Some of my reasons for keeping this all to myself have now evaporated, so I'm going to write about it now.  This is likely to signal a major shift in the focus of my blog - one that I wish wasn't happening, to be honest.

So, over the summer, I was tired and lethargic. I was struggling in the gym and eventually, I was struggling at everything.  One day, I was out fly fishing with friends mid-week, and I went back to my car for a short break and some caffeine.  I ended up taking a 90 minute nap.  Later that day, I found a rock in the middle of the stream and just sat there for 30 minutes.

Doctors were doing test after test, for lots of common and really rare stuff.  Everything kept turning up negative.  For a while, we thought it was celiac disease and I started wondering what life would be like without pizza and beer.  To be honest, I would trade my current diagnosis for celiac in a heartbeat.

In late August, my wife and daughter were away for the day.  I hoped to fish.  But, I felt worse than ever. My breathing was compromised. My side hurt. Alleve, which had been helping, didn't touch this pain.  I thought about having my son take me to the hospital, but I held out for a few hours.  But, when my wife got home, I had her take me to the ED.

Luckily, they believed my story and I got some Dilaudid right away.  These days, walking into an ED and getting pain meds is not automatic.  Then, the doctor asked a very key question: "Has anyone done any imaging on your abdomen since this started?"

I told him that my primary care doc had been reluctant to even do blood work, until I practically forced him to order it.  Then, once the anemia was found, I was sent to a hematologist.  Hematologists are worried about blood, not diffuse pain in your abdomen.  So, the three different docs I'd seen all summer had completely ignored the pain in my side, and the last doc had done every test he could think of to determine the cause of the anemia.

The answer, as it turned out,was in the imaging.  I had a CT scan done at the emergency room that Saturday night.  Most small or mid-size hospitals don't have a radiologist on staff at that time of night, especially on a weekend.  Instead, they employ on-call services and send the images out to be read. While the hospital was sending out the images, the local ED doc took a look.  He immediately came back into the room and told me that there was a very large mass growing on my right kidney.  He said it was most likely kidney cancer.

Things started to move fast.  I told the ED doc that I wanted the images and report sent to my urologist.  I got a Monday morning appointment with the hematologist.  I got some oxycodone so I could sleep through the pain.  From there, it was appointments and lots of  tests (blood tests, MRI, bone scan, X-ray, EKG, etc).  The goal was to do proper due diligence and get me to surgery quickly.  The reason I was having troubles breathing, as the X-ray showed, was that the tumor had gotten so large that it had partially collapsed my right lung.

The last test was the MRI, done with and without contrast.  The doctor wanted to save my kidney and he wanted to know if the tumor had gotten into the blood supply of the kidney.  The MRI was inconclusive, so the kidney had to go.  In mid-September, I had a radical open nephrectomy on the right side, plus they pulled out a six pound tumor, a rib, scraped the surface of the liver, and pulled out two smaller suspicious nodules.  We knew from the MRI that the lymph nodes were clear, so none were taken.

Nine days after the surgery, my wife and I met with the surgeon.  He told us that it wasn't kidney cancer, and for a second, I thought maybe I was OK.  But, he continued and told me it was liposarcoma - a very rare cancer, and I had one of the more dangerous forms of liposarcoma.  The full diagnosis was retroperitoneal dedifferentiated liposarcoma.  There are probably 250 or 300 similar diagnoses in the US each year.

It's a cancer that tends to recur, especially the dedifferentiated form.  The earlier it recurs, the worse things usually are.

I was scheduled for a consult at Dana Farber in early November with a sarcoma specialist,  But, without a new baseline scan, she didn't want to consider any immediate treatment.  Last Friday, I had a CT scan to look for any new growths.  Regretfully, there were three new nodules and some evidence of metastasis (described as hypervascularity) along the serosa of the liver.

That afternoon, I saw a surgical oncologist and a medical oncologist.  The surgical guy was very matter of fact. We cut here, we cut there, we resect the colon and the large intestine, and we get it all out. He never mentioned the liver and he just seemed glib - like it was all too easy.

The medical oncologist is a sarcoma specialist.  She said there is a distinct east coast vs. west coast style for many sarcomas,  including liposarcoma (Rappers and sarcoma docs, going after each other, I guess).  On the east coast, people do surgery for almost every recurrence. Until they can't.  And then, they do chemo or radiation.  The medical oncologist said that works for some cases, but it usually just buys time.  The west coast style is much more interventional early.  She described it as higher risk with potentially higher reward.  She suggested chemo, then surgery at Sloan Kettering, and then radiation.  She said it might still be curable, although the odds aren't great.  But, the interventions might at least buy a few years without disease.

So, I agreed to go with her plan.  Yesterday, I had a PET scan (no additional sign of disease), an echocardiogram (one of the chemo agents is fairly heart toxic), and I had a chest port installed.

Today I started inpatient chemo and I'll be in the hospital for Thanksgiving.

But, I already have a lot to give thanks for.  I'm not ready to give up on this life yet, but I've lived the hell out of it so far. I have two great kids, a wife of 29+ years that still makes me feel lucky every day I'm with her, and a job I like.  And, I've got a lot of great friends - near and far.

So, I may be in the hospital on Thanksgiving, and I have a serious cancer, but I'm still giving thanks for all the great things that make up the rest of my life.  Including the fact that I'm well insured and I have access to outstanding medical care.

Right now, I think the one chemo agent, doxorubicin, is telling me that it's time to get some sleep.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Pushing Hard Again

In the last 8 days, I've had some good breakthroughs.

I'm finally done with pain medication from my September surgery.  I still have some discomfort, but nothing that requires medication.  I've been able to add planks, box jumps, running and rope jumping to my workouts.  I even did 50 knee raises while hanging from a bar this week.  I still worry that sit-ups will be uncomfortable, but I'll try them in the next week or so.

Monday, I had an appointment in Boston and my wife came along.  After the appointment, we took advantage of the nice weather and walked for 2.5 hours - just talking and sometimes just enjoying the day in silence.  We met some friends for a very nice dinner after the walk.  Oleana in Cambridge is just an amazing restaurant and there is nothing close to it in Vermont in terms of cuisine.

On Tuesday, we went to CrossFit, and I did deadlifts (up to multiple reps at 245# after maxing out at 185# a week before), planks, some 40# ball slams and hanging knee raises.

Wednesday, we met a friend for dinner and enjoyed a rest day.

Thursday's workout is a "pick your poison" type of workout.  You pick 4 tasks, one from each of 4 different categories, and repeat them once per minute for 40 minutes.  If your tasks are A, B, C and D, the workout is ABCDABCD..., rather than AAAAAAAAAABBBBB...

I chose to row 175m, do 8 ring rows, 5 box jumps (first box jumps since surgery) and bench presses.

Tonight, we have a very tough workout that we do twice a year in honor or extreme skier Ryan Hawks, who had a tragic accident in competition on 2/27/2011, and died two days later.  Today would have been his 30th birthday.

The workout involves rowing, deadlifts, thrusters, box jumps, burpees, lunges and rope jumping.  The five middle movements are done in blocks of 50 reps.  This is a brutal workout that I'm not quite ready for yet.  But, I don't want to miss it either.  So, I'm going to do the workout, but scale down to 30 reps of each exercise, to match my current fitness level.

This weekend, I'm going to take a chance at catching some Lake Champlain "steelhead", something I've never tried before.  I put steelhead in quotes because to many fishermen, a rainbow trout is only a steelhead if it lives part of its life in salt water, rather than a large body of fresh water.  No matter what you call them, these can be large, fat rainbows coming out of the lake, and you never know when you'll hook up with a big fish.  The weather will be raw, but we can't ski yet, so I may as well fish.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Back to Some Real CrossFit

I'm back.  And, I have a hell of a lot of work to do.

Sunday, I spent 70 minutes stacking firewood.  It was a group effort.  I loaded the wheelbarrow and brought wood into the garage.  My wife and daughter stacked it.  My son would stack when my wife and daughter fell behind, and he'd take wood inside when I fell behind.  We worked pretty hard for 70 minutes, but that was all it took us to stack 2 full cords.  I was sore after that, and I planned to resume CrossFit on Monday.

On Monday, we started our warm-up with burpees.  There are about 4 or 5 movements that worry me the most about returning to CF.  Burpees, rope-jumping, sit-ups, planks and box jumps come to mind immediately.  Surprisingly, if I didn't push the pace, the burpees went OK.  Then, we did some muscle activation work with bands.

After that, it was on to front squats - 7 x 5, with the last set done at max reps.  In early March of this year, I hit 305# for a single front squat.  Monday, I started at 75 pounds.  I did sets at 75, 85, 90, 95, 100, and 95.  For my max reps set, I did 10 reps at 85.

Then, the WOD was 15 burpees, 25 slam balls over the shoulder (pick it up and roll/throw it over your shoulder, repeat), 40 box jump overs, 25 slam balls, and 15 burpees.  I scaled it by dropping to 10 burpees and doing box step up and overs.  It took me just over 8 minutes, but wasn't too bad.  I was tired and sore though.

Tuesday, our warm-up was Olympic lifting movements, and I used a 15 # barbell.  Most of the class was doing heavier Oly lifting, but I was doing the "fitness" level, which meant deadlifts.  I did 10 sets of 5.  My goal was to start at 135 and add 10 pounds per set.  If all went well, I'd get to 225, but I doubted that would happen.  By 165, I was noticing some pinching in my abdomen, related to my surgery, so I went to 185 and stayed there for my last 5 sets.  We were supposed to do a 30 second plank between the deadlift sets, but this was uncomfortable, and I skipped it.

The WOD was 3 rounds of 100 single unders, 30 kettlebell swings and 20 ring rows.  Rope jumping is still painful, so I subbed 30 air squats,  For the kettlebell swings, I did the Russian variety, which has a shorter range of motion.  This workout was harder than yesterday for me.  First, it was longer, but it was also more aerobically taxing, and I had to stop to catch my breath a few times.  I finished in just under 10 minutes.

Today is a planned rest day.  I'm going to do a 2 mile walk at lunch, but not much else today.  Then, I hope to feel less sore by tomorrow, and we will do CF on Thursday and Friday.  Hopefully, I can do 4 scaled workouts per week right up until ski season, without burning out or hurting myself.

I did find myself falling asleep on the couch at 9:00 last night, so I went to bed early and got a solid 9 hours of sleep.  Clearly the extra work is reminding my body that it needs to get some good sleep.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Continuing to do some training

I've missed the last couple days of training, but I had a decent week last week.

On Monday, I rowed 6000 meters - 1000 meters more than my rowing sessions last week. Tuesday, I went for a brisk 3 mile walk while my wife did CrossFit.

Wednesday was a rest day for my wife.  Thursday, I walked a bit at lunch and then I rowed 6000 meters, and and then did some dumbbell floor presses and some box step-ups.  Both of those weight-bearing movements could be done without bothering my still-sore abdomen and rib cartilage.

Friday, I spent 35 minutes on a spinning bike, doing 15x30 seconds hard ever 2 minutes.  Then, 5x10 back squats with just an empty 45 pound barbell.  I realized that with the empty barbell, I was moving the same amount of weight that I would have moved in a body-weight squat in April.  And, it was really hard.  Days later, I'm still sore from those squats.

Somehow, the last 3 days got away from me, and I did no training at all.  Saturday, I had pre-season ski instructor orientation at Sugarbush.  After that, I went fly fishing for a few hours and then out to dinner with my family.

Sunday, we had a birthday party for my niece and nephew and we had to get some groceries, and the day was gone before I realized it.  I'd hoped to walk the dogs but it never happened.

Yesterday, my wife and I drove to Albany to see Joe Jackson in concert.  We are operating on very little sleep today, and there was no way to squeeze in any exercise at all.  So, for the next three days, we need to be working hard at the gym.  It's going to be a challenge to get my wife to go to the gym tonight, but I really need to go.

Next week, I plan to resume the actual CF classes, and I'd like to continue some easy movements this week, to minimize muscle soreness in the coming weeks.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Back to some exercise (finally)

From late June until late August, I barely exercised: 16 workouts in 60+ days.  In a typical year, I average 220-240 workouts (it was higher until about 5 years ago, when I gave up the long distance running stuff).  So, working out only 16 days out of 60 was pathetic for me.  And then, I went 6 full weeks with no training at all.  That was the longest period I've gone without exercising in 30 years.

During that time, I had a few surgeries, including a vasectomy, hernia repair, ACL repair, and a prostatectomy.  None of those surgeries kept me out for six weeks.  I didn't run for 11 weeks after the ACL repair, but I was walking, swimming and cycling after just a few weeks.  After the prostatectomy, I was back in the gym within 3 weeks.

Last Saturday, I walked 2 miles with one of my dogs.  Years ago, I wouldn't have even considered a short walk to be exercise, but as I've gotten older, I've gotten less didactic about what I consider to be exercise.  Monday, I walked at lunch and then rowed 5000 meters in almost 28 minutes.  Earlier this year, that workout would have taken me just over 21 minutes.  Tuesday, I walked again.

Wednesday, my daughter played her last home game of high school soccer.  The parents were all requested to escort their daughters onto the field, and my wife and I stayed to watch the team win 2-1 over Lamoille high school, a team my daughter and her friends intensely dislike.  That was way more important than any workout I might have done.

Yesterday, I rowed 5K in just under 27 minutes.

Tonight, I'll hop on a spin bike and do a solo spinning workout, probably for 30-40 minutes.  These aren't hard workouts, by my pre-illness standards, but I'm starting to move again.

I am hoping to resume CrossFit workouts, scaled to an easy level, on the first of November.  Our gym allows us to suspend our membership (and not pay fees) due to illness or injury, so I suspended my membership starting in September.  In some ways, I should have suspended it 2 months earlier, but I had no idea how the anemia was all going to play out.

Ski season is approaching fast, and I need to get my legs ready for that.  My preferred training for skiing is heavy squats, but it will probably be a while before I'm under a barbell holding 200 or even 300 pounds again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Long time since last update

I don't really want to go into a lot of details, but let's just say that we (the doctors had some help from me) finally figured out why I felt so sick all spring and summer and why I had developed anemia.

Shortly after my last post in late August, I made a trip to the emergency room late on a Saturday night.  This led to some tests, including a CT scan, and that led to some major surgery.  I spent 5 nights in the hospital after the surgery, and today, it's been 4 weeks since that surgery.

The surgery was fairly invasive, and I'm still taking pain medications due to issues from the surgery.  But, at 4 weeks, I'm also back to trying to get myself back into shape.

By the time I left the hospital, due to the anemia, the surgery, and the horrible food in the hospital, I had dropped 58 pounds from the middle of April until I got home.  For the first time in my life that I can remember, I found myself in a situation where I wanted to gain some weight.  Luckily, the issues with my sense of taste and my appetite have been resolved, and I'm able to eat what I want right now.

I have stayed away from alcohol, especially considering the pain medications, but I am back to drinking coffee and eating foods that simply didn't appeal to me over the summer.  But, I'm guessing that I lost close to 40 pounds of fat and 20 pounds of muscle, and while I don't mind losing that fat, I had worked very hard to gain that muscle.

As of now, I'm still a month or more away from lifting weights.  Right now, I can go for a walk, ride the exercise bike, ride my own bike (crashing would be very painful), use the rowing machine, and shortly, I should be able to do some easy jogging.

In another month or so, I should be able to start lifting again, but I've got a lot of work to do to regain what I've lost.

Late last week, I had some blood tests done - a complete blood count, in particular.  My anemia isn't fully resolved, but I left the hospital with my hemoglobin level at 8.4 and I'm up to 11.4.  The bottom end of the normal range is 13.5 and I am guessing I'll be there within a month.  Hopefully, I'll get back up to the 17 range in another month or two after that.

So, the surgery is behind me.  I'm on the mend.  I did a 5K row at the gym last night after a 2 mile walk at lunch.  I'm tired today, but I think I can do some exercise every other day or so right now.  I've been able to walk the dogs on the weekends and I've even been out fishing twice.  Because I'm not as strong as a few months ago, I've been using my wading staff for safety, especially while fishing alone.

Ski season is rapidly approaching.  My goal right now is to improve my conditioning (aerobic and strength) as much as possible by the time we are supposed to start work for the season, which is mid-December.  That might seem like a lot of time - 9 weeks or so - but I lost a lot of hard-earned conditioning over the past 5 months or so.  I've got a lot of work to do, but I'm really looking forward to training harder as my body continues to heal.

I'm very glad to have this incident behind me as well.  I don't have time to complain about the past.  It's time to move forward.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Getting older (still)

My wife and I just spent an extended weekend in PA, with the main purpose of the trip being my 35th high school reunion.  It was great to see about a 1/4 of my class show up, but we are certainly getting old, it seems.  We had no name tags this year, and as we get older, I think we need them more and more.

I was still feeling less than 100% for the trip, but we manged to have a good time.  On our first full day in PA, we went to CrossFit Hanover, a box where we've worked out before.  The guys at this box work hard, and apparently Friday is their hardest day.  We started with some heavy back squats in triples.  Then, establish a 3RM for hang power cleans, and then do 4 sets at 90%-95% of the max.

Then, a metcon where we did a hang power clean, split jerk and push jerk every minute until we couldn't continue.  But, just to make it interesting, we added one clean per round.  I got through the round of 8 and my wife made the round of 10.  As soon as we failed, we had to jump rope for 3 minutes for max reps.  That one hurt.

One good thing is that this workout actually gave me an appetite and I was able to go to a restaurant and eat a normal meal.

Later that day, I was the DD as my wife enjoyed some craft brews at a taproom called Holy Hound.

The next day was the reunion, where I once again played DD.  Having lost all taste for beer, I just wonder if it's ever going to come back.  With coffee, I have simply stopped drinking it.  There is just no appeal.

Sunday, we had dinner with my dad and sister, visited with my sister for a while, and then had dinner with my brother and uncle.  It was nice to see all of my local family on this trip.

Monday, we drove to Bucknell and poked around the campus nostalgically.  Then, we went to CrossFit Lewisburg for a workout, and I got my butt handed to me.  I don't know if it was the heat, residual soreness from Friday (this was a major issue) or the anemia, but I truly struggled, and almost quit without finishing the workout.  But, I made it.

After that, we visited a high school friend of mine and his family (he and my wife had sort of gone to kindergarten together as well), and had a really nice meal, including some wild PA venison.  And then, it was time to come home to reality.

Just before we had left for PA, we'd gotten a call from our roofing contractor.  Apparently, the people who built our house had committed a cardinal sin, and nailed shingles directly to foam insulation.  This led to a lot of leaking and rot,  We had rot in the insulation, rot in a plywood player, rot in the next layer of insulation, and finally rot and carpenter ants in structural 2x4's.  Our original price for the roof was far more than I thought it would be, and with this new information, the price was going to nearly double.  I simply didn't have that money, but the roof was torn off the house, so we proceeded.  Luckily, as the roofers proceeded, some of the rot was not as bad as anticipated, and the additional costs might drop down to "only" $5K.  Still a lot of money, but way better than the number we heard last week.  The roof should be done early next week, and we will get the final bill then.  The roof was overdue and I'm glad to get it done, but this additional cost has been a big hit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Now, I wait (again)

I had my third iron infusion this morning.  I really like them because they take a while and I get a nice nap while it's happening.  The nurses are also incredibly nice.  Part of this is because I'm one of their healthier patients.  They are an infusion center and administer a lot of chemotherapy to very sick patients.  So, they work to have a happy face for all of their patients, but I'm sure a lot of it is for the cancer patients.

I got my final report from the procedure yesterday, with an all-clear there.  They did say that pathology is still planning to rule out celiac disease.  I thought they were doing more than that with the biopsy, but if not, there isn't much more to be learned.  The nurse told me she doesn't remember a patient with no transglutaminase antibodies who ended up diagnosed with celiac disease, although the opposite can happen.  So, the odds of the biopsy finding anything are slim.

In two weeks, I see the hematologist again.  We will measure all sorts of things that day and talk about the path forward.  If my hemoglobin is a lot better, we will probably continue with the iron infusions until I'm back at a normal level again.  If it's not better, I have no idea what's next.

I'm also curious if this will end up being definitively solved, of if I'll simply recover and never know exactly what happened.  In some ways, I'd prefer to know, but there are still too many (rare and nasty) reasons out there, and I don't want any of them to be at fault.  Things like bone marrow biopsies are procedures I'd prefer to avoid.  So, maybe a recovery and a mystery would be OK.

It's hot again today, but I'm hoping to try CrossFit tonight.  I am not tolerating the heat very well, but if I take it easy, I might be OK for a moderate workout.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

One more test down

This is probably a key test in figuring out the cause of my anemia.  My small intestine isn't absorbing iron, it's not due to the normal cause of celiac disease, so we need another reason.

Today, I had an upper endoscopy test done.  I've had this done once before, and I have to admit that today's test was quite unpleasant compared to the test 12 years ago.  In the past, patients were allowed to use lidocaine to numb the back of their throats, and this made the insertion of the tube much easier.  I guess doctors decided that carried some risk, so it's no longer standard protocol.  So, I had the standard mixture of Fentanyl and Versed.  And, as they tried to insert the scope, I gagged and choked at least 10 times, to the point where I almost yanked the thing out of the doctor's hand and simply removed it.

Afterward, when I mentioned this to the doc, he said I had a very strong gag reflex.  I felt like asking him why he didn't respond to that, but instead forced the tube down my throat anyway.  But, I was too angry to say it tactfully, so I said nothing.

The basic test showed no signs of bleeding anywhere, no signs of Barrett's esophagus, esophageal cancer, or stomach cancer or stomach ulcers/bleeding.

So, the answer is hopefully in the bipsy samples they took from my upper small intestine.  I should hear more about that by the end of the week or so.

Tomorrow, I get my hemoglobin measured again and I get another iron infusion.  I won't be surprised if my hemoglobin is better.  I feel a little better, but I'm simply not handling heat at all right now.  We've had a few nights where I might have tried the CrossFit workout, but the heat has just been too much.

On Sunday, a very hot day, I alternated between getting stuff done around the house and taking naps in my air conditioned bedroom.  I cooked a lot of the day and not one thing I cooked was appealing to me, which was disappointing.

On Monday morning, my weight was 191 - the lowest it's been since the fall of 2009.  I've now lost about 37 pounds this year and there is no sign that it's letting up.

In three weeks, I have a colonoscopy, but given my iron absorption numbers, I'll be surprised if that test gives us any useful feedback.  But, I'm overdue for the test, so I should have it done.  It will be done by the same doc that did my test this morning, and I think I'm going to emphasize that I'd like a bit more pain medicine next time around.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Still fighting the fight

Last week, I worked as the "fishing instructor" for a local rec department's fishing camp.  I got paid a little bit of money, but mostly I did it to help out a friend, who had lost her long-term instructor for the week.  Things went just fine, I think I gave the kids some good lessons on ecology and sound environmental fishing practices, and we caught a lot of fish.

I also discovered that 5+ hours on my feet every day was very tiring for me right now, especially because I was up early every morning to get to the camp on time.  Not enough sleep and lots of activity just left me tired.

I did manage one CrossFit workout last week, but I did it at a very easy level.

Over the weekend, I got out fishing with a friend, but it was a warm day, and 5 hours on the water was more than enough for me.  The rivers are very warm right now and we fished in the middle of the day.  My friend caught one small wild rainbow and I got nothing.

Other than that, I tried to sleep as much as I could to recover from the previous week.  I managed to do some cooking and mow the lawn, but not much else.  Well, I spent 5 hours trying to upgrade my daughter's laptop to Windows 10, but that was merely frustrating rather than tiring.  She was still on 8.0, which meant I had to apply updates to that OS, then upgrade to 8.1, apply more updates, and then finally try to get to 10.  A tool supplied to MS to skip the reservation process failed for me, so she is now waiting for MS to bless her upgrade request.

On Monday, I wanted to try CF again, but after only a couple minutes of the warm-up, I knew it wasn't there, so I bailed.  I was pretty depressed after this.  I'm trying my hardest to get plenty of rest, eat well, and follow instructions from my doctor, and I feel like I'm not getting better.

My weight on Sunday dropped under 196 - the lowest it's been since late in 2009.  Pants that were too small for me in May are now too large and my belt won't hold them up.  I'm running out of clothes that fit.

Tuesday morning, I had another iron infusion.  They did a CBC panel while I was there, and I was dismayed to find that my hemoglobin had dropped from 10 to 9.4, very close to the lowest value I've seen so far.  Despite that news, I actually felt pretty good on Tuesday.  Maybe it was the 90 minute nap I took during the infusion.

I tried the CrossFit workout again that night, with much better results.   The strength work included 70 deadlifts in sets of 5, and 35 box jumps, also in sets of 5.  I kept the deads light at 155#, but got through that OK.  Next was a 7-minute up ladder - 3 ring rows, 3 goblet squats, 6 ring rows, 6 goblet squats, etc.  I completed the round of 12 and got 10 additional ring rows.  What was encouraging was that I was breathing deeply and feeling like there was actually some oxygen in the air.  I don't know how to reconcile that with my poor HGB result earlier in the day, but I was happy to feel good for an entire workout.

Today is a rest day and I'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

One cause ruled out

I do not have celiac disease.  I had no transglutaminase anti-bodies in my blood.

I had my iron infusion this morning.  I hope to be feeling better soon.

I still have to have a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy with a biopsy of the small intestine/duodenum.

I will have another iron infusion in 2 weeks and my blood will be re-tested after that.

The doctor said we may never find the exact cause, and perhaps my double-red blood cell donation in late April was the trigger for all of this.

He expects that I will be under his care for a year or so.  It will take that long to get to a stable place and monitor my iron stability for a while.

And, we may still find a cause somewhere.  He said if we find a cause, it will probably be the duodenum biopsy that gives us the answer.

I just want to get back to working out.  The best news of the day was that my hemoglobin has improved from 9.3 to 10.  This is probably just enough of a change that I was able to work out a little bit last night.  I'm looking forward to a normal level again, but any improvement is nice to see.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Zeroing in

I saw a hematologist on Friday morning.  He asked hundreds of questions it seemed.  He pored laboriously through my prior labs.  He put me on a table and found every lymph node in my body. I'm still sore from that part of the exam. He even confirmed that I'm developing a right side inguinal hernia, which I had suspected earlier in the year after I felt some mild pain after heavy squatting.  And, he prescribed a lot more tests.  Because I hadn't had any food yet that day, he decided to add an iron absorption test, which requires that the patient be fasting.

Basically, they measured my iron by taking blood.  They then had be drink a large quantity of iron in a liquid form, and come back two hours later to see how well my gut was absorbing the iron.  This was apparently the only test result that came back on Friday and I got a long phone message from the doctor.

He told me that my starting iron level should have been 35-100 or so (I think this is micro-grams per deciliter, but the units are kind of irrelevant here).  But, my starting level was 16.  So, despite an iron storage protein level indicating that I am storing plenty of iron, my blood is clearly low in iron.

He also told me that he expected the big dose of iron to push my level to the 100-150 range.  Instead, it went to 18 - barely budging.

This means that something is going on in my small intestine, preventing me from absorbing dietary iron.

So, I have to go to the clinic this week and get an intravenous iron infusion.  And, I'll get more results today.

Based on what I've read and one of the tests the doctor performed on Friday, I'm guessing that we will find that the cause of the anemia is that I've developed celiac disease, which seems to be a common reason for this problem.

If that is the case, I have to start imagining a life without pizza, bread, and beer and a whole lot of other things that are quite tasty (cookies, for example).

But, I'm getting ahead of myself here, and I need to let the doctor do his work.  I am very happy about the iron infusion.  It will be nice to finally receive some treatment rather than just tests.

I've obviously stopped taking the iron pills, since my body clearly cannot absorb it anyway.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A sudden turnaround

Last Saturday, I felt terrible and basically napped most of the day.  My wife and I had gone to visit her parents, and I had to apologize for how I felt and not being able to stay awake.  I did manage to sit down and eat dinner that night though, which I haven't been able to do much recently.  Well, I usually eat something, but it's rarely the meal that's been prepared.  I think I ate a salad for the first time in a month.  This time of year, I am usually eating multiple salads every day, but my appetite has been so messed up, that I have just stayed away from most vegetables for the past month.

Sunday, I felt a little better, but still rested a lot to make sure I'd get through the Neil Young show.  Monday, despite a short night of sleep after the show, I felt the best I've felt in a month.  But, it was just one good day, and I've had lots of decent days in the past couple months, only to feel terrible the next day.

I even thought about doing CrossFit on Monday, but my wife was exhausted and just wanted to go home after work.  I didn't want to try a workout enough to argue with her.

Tuesday, I felt pretty good again.  Two days in a row!  The only downside is that it was a hot and humid day.  I walked for about 1.5 miles at lunch and I was tired after that.  My wife went to CrossFit that night, but I didn't want to try a workout in the heat.

Yesterday (Wednesday), I felt decent again.  This was really encouraging - three consecutive days of feeling decent.  So, I decided to try CrossFit.

The warm-up involved some shoulder mobility work, jumping air squats and 2x100 run.  I was amazed that I could breathe OK on the runs.  That alone was a huge change.  A month ago, despite losing body weight, I was out of breath on even the shortest, slowest runs.  That seems to have changed.

The strength workout was 10 rounds of 5 strict presses and 10-20 sit-ups.  I opted for only 7 sit-ups and I kept the weights light on the strict presses - 65#-80#.  A few months ago, I would have done this workout at 95#-110#.  But, I want to ease back in and not get sick again.  As it was, 4 sets at 80# was pretty much my limit.

After the lifting portion of the workout, we had a 10 minute workout.  My goal was max reps of 1) 10 ball slams (20# - very light for me) and 2) 50 single-under rope jumps.  I got six rounds plus 10 more ball slams.  I had gotten tired during the workout, but I did OK.

Tonight, we get to choose our own movements, and I plan to do some rowing, pull-ups, push-ups, and deadlifts - all at an easy level.

And then, I can hopefully go to the hematologist tomorrow and tell him that things seem to be improving.  I'd still like to understand what caused this, but a permanent recovery is more important to me than knowing why it happened.                                                                                                                                                

Monday, July 20, 2015

Beyond Frustrated

Thursday around noon, I got a call from the hospital where I get my primary health care.  They needed me to come in the next day to see a doctor.  It was important and related to the lab tests I'd had the previous Friday.

I agreed to be there, but the tone of voice and urgency put me on edge.  They made it sound like something new had been found that required immediate intervention.  So, for 27 hours, I worried.  A lot.

At the appointment, which was with a doctor I have worked with professionally, but whom I'd never seen as a patient, I was confused.  After the preliminaries were out of the way, the doctor sat down and said "So, what can I do for you?"  I told him that the hospital had scheduled the appointment and I assumed he knew what it was about.  I told him about the anemia diagnosis and assumed the visit was related.

He said it sounded like I needed some lab work.  I told him that had been done a week ago.  Quickly, he pulled up my lab results and we looked at them together.  The one odd thing is that my iron levels are fine.  I am right near the top end of the normal range.  So, he said while I am very anemic (hemoglobin of 9.3, with a reference range of 13.5-17.5, and my last test in April was in the high 17's), it didn't appear to be iron-deficiency anemia.  Nonetheless, he didn't want to contradict another provider, so he wants me to continue with the iron supplements.  To be honest, that seems dangerous to me.

However, unlike my former primary care doc, he recognized that this was out of his league, and he referred me to a hematologist.  I see that doctor this coming Friday.

I first noted (in my training log) that I was feeling bad on May 4th.  I've gradually gotten worse by then, a very steady down slope.  I've lost 30 pounds.  In early June, my primary care doc didn't want to do any blood work, although a very basic blood panel would have shown the anemia.  Finally, in July, he had to do the blood work.  I can only assume my hemoglobin has been dropping this entire time and it may still be dropping.  So, eleven weeks after this all started, I still don't have a complete diagnosis, I have no reason to believe it's not getting worse, and I've had no treatment at all.

My hemoglobin level is at a level where the anemia is considered moderate.  If I drop to 8, the rules all change, as I would cross into the "severe" level.  Hopefully, I won't have to worry about that, but it would be nice to have a full diagnosis and some sort of progress towards recovery.

Yesterday, my wife and I saw Neil Young here in Vermont.  It was a great show - some songs from his new album and a whole lot of classics.  He started out acoustic and solo, and after 4 songs, his band joined in.  He stayed acoustic until about the mid-point of the show and then switched to an electric guitar.  It was his first show in Vermont since he played as part of a group in 1965.  That band played one night at a nightclub near Killington and was not invited to return.  This return, almost 50 years later, was very successful.

The only downside was being tired.  I essentially napped all day just so I'd have energy to get through the show.

I might have written this before, but I honestly feel like I aged 20 years in 2 weeks and it's not getting better.  When Neil sang "Old Man" last night, I was standing there, feeling a lot like an old man.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A partial answer - at least

Iron Deficiency Anemia.

That's what my doctor told me on the phone yesterday after looking at my lab results.  I had told him in the office on Friday that I thought there was no chance that I had anemia, because my hemoglobin levels were on the high end of normal before I gave blood last time.

As soon as he told me what was causing my symptoms, I wanted to know why, and here the conversation turned somber.  Iron Deficiency Anemia in men is rare and it is usually associated with internal bleeding.  That internal bleeding is often caused by serious upper or lower GI issues, including gastric cancers and colon cancer, along with ulcers and lesions and other less severe causes.  But, it's rare in men - about 2% of the population.  My doctor told me I needed a colonoscopy very soon.

I mentioned to my doctor that I had done a double red blood cell donation in late April (4/21), and asked if it was possibly related to what is going on.  I told him that I haven't had one good workout since I donated blood, and the other symptoms started to show up about 2 weeks later.

He said that I should have been able to recover from the donation, but with all the stress in my life, and trying to push hard at the gym, maybe my body just couldn't recover.  So, he told me to hold off on the colonoscopy.  I told him that I'd prefer to get it done anyway, and I'd schedule it on my own.  While it's entirely possible that the blood cell donation triggered this, it still seems unlikely that I'm the one exception to the rule about the cause of iron deficiency anemia in men.  So, it seems smart to get the colonoscopy done.  If that is clean, maybe I'll need an upper GI too.

So, I'm taking an iron supplement.  I should be able to work out within a week or two if things go well.  If I don't get better, that's another sign that there is some internal bleeding occurring somewhere.

The other thing that alarmed the doctor was a high C-Reactive Protein result.  This test should have a result less than 1.  I've heard of ultra-runners having levels over 20,000 after a 100 miler, leading doctors to think they'd had a heart attack.

CRP is a measure of inflammation in the body, but it's non-specific.  It doesn't tell you where the problem is.  At levels above 3, it is associated with higher cardiovascular health risks.  My value was 13.

So, I'm going to take iron for 2 weeks.  Retest iron levels, hemoglobin levels, reticulocyte count, and CRP, along with a complete blood count.

If the numbers all improve, we might have found the solution.  If not, there's more digging to be done.  But, I think it's important here to not just treat the problem, but to also find the underlying cause of what's going on.

I'm scheduled to do another double red cell donation on 8/11.  My doctor suggested I cancel.  He said my hemoglobin is so low that they wouldn't take my blood anyway.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I've been writing since early May that something has been "off" with my health.  I've been tired a lot, needed more rest days, had no "pop" with either strength-based or endurance-based work at CrossFit, and I've been sleeping a lot.  No, really a lot.

I don' think that a Saturday or Sunday has passed without me taking a 2-3 hour nap in the past 6 weeks.  Last night, I fell asleep on the couch at 8:07 p.m., went to bed about 90 minutes later, and slept until 6:17 this morning - 10+ hours.  This was after skipping the workout at the gym because I was too tired.

Saturday morning, I went to the farmer's market with my wife, we went to the supermarket, and I then came home and took a nap.  After my nap, I got up and mowed the lawn.  And, took another nap.

Sunday, I got up a little bit late - maybe 9:30.  It was a cold, rainy day and I planned on doing nothing.  By 1:00, I turned on the Red Sox game, and I fell asleep, waking up in the 7th inning.

Last Monday, I was too tired to go to the gym.  Tuesday and Wednesday, I got to the gym, scaled the workouts, but by the end of Wednesday, I was exhausted.  I had Thursday off work to go fly fishing, and I struggled that day.  I fished from about 5:45 a.m. until 9:00, when I realized I was exhausted.  I went to my car and napped for 45 minutes.  I then resumed fishing, but I was still exhausted.  About 12:30, I sat down on a rock in the middle of the river, and I just sat there for half an hour.  After that rest, I walked to my car and headed home.

At that point, I knew I was going to try to rest through the weekend.  And, I did.  But, I felt terrible all weekend - lethargic, sleepy, and no appetite.  There are very few foods that are even appealing to me right now, and even they taste funny at times.  Some of the limited foods I've been able to eat include Raisin Bran, ice cream, pretzels, potato or tortilla chips, and strawberries.  That's a lot of high fat and salty foods.  The idea of a veggie or a salad is just repulsive right now, and that's not normally the case for me.

I've now lost 20 pounds since early May, simply by eating based on appetite.  I've made no special efforts to lose weight.  Despite resting a lot, I have no energy or desire to train.  Even going for a basic walk seems like too much right now.

Luckily, I see my doctor again next Friday, the 10th.  But, my wife is so alarmed by how I've felt that she demanded I see someone else earlier.  She even suggested a non-mainstream provider as an option.

After talking to someone in my gym, a chiropractor who works with lots of other local non-mainstream providers, she recommended a local naturopath who deals in issues like these.  I've suspected this might be an adrenal fatigue or thyroid issue.  My primary care doc laughed out loud at those suggestions, but then did no testing and told me to just rest and I'd be fine.

Well, I'm not fine.  I have to say I don't mind the weight I've lost.  If I could lose another 15 pounds and then get healthy overnight, I'd be pretty thrilled.  I'm at my lowest weight in 5+ years right now, but I'm sure I'm losing muscle mass as well as fat.

I want to train.  I want to walk my dogs.  I want to feel strong while I'm out fly fishing.  I've spent the last 30 years of my life exercising regularly, so I can do these other things easily.  And now, it feels like I'm losing some of that.  This is way more than just getting old.  People don't age 20 years in 2 months.  At least, I'm assuming that is true.

I have had huge amounts of stress in the past few years - prostate cancer for me, multiple surgeries, ED visits, and and radiation for my wife, work stress, financial stress, kid stress, long commute, long work hours, multiple jobs, etc.  Maybe it's all been too much and my body is rebelling.  But, I need to find some answer to this before I'm a full-time couch potato who is too tired to do anything than control the TV channels.

Hopefully, between the two docs in the next week, we can find some answers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pete Rose and the Baseball Hall of Fame

I tried to retire this blog when I essentially retired from ultrarunning.  But, all 3 of my readers said I should continue writing, so I did.  But, I also said that without the ultra focus, I'd feel free to write whatever I wanted, rather than just ultras and skiing.  By now, my limited audience is really sick of CrossFit stories.  And, fishing stories were getting so old that I created a new blog to talk about them.

I've written about baseball here a few times.  I did a couple articles on using run differential to predict win-loss records, with respect to an Orioles team that was very, very lucky a few years ago.  Today, I imagine, I'm not going to make any new friends.  Once this post shows up in search engines, I'm sure I'll have to delete a few incendiary comments.  But, here goes.

In my opinion, it is clear that Pete Rose should never be allowed in the Hall of Fame.  To further fan the flames, I'll go even further and say that Rose is one of the more overrated players in baseball history.  I think his statistics are good enough to be in the HoF, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.  One number in particular, which I'll address below, really, really bothers me.

The 1919 Black Sox scandal threatened to destroy baseball.  The integrity of the game was challenged when gamblers greatly influenced a World Series.  Others are far more knowledgeable about this subject than I am, and I'm not going to re-hash that history here.  One of the things that came out of that scandal was baseball's Rule 21.  Part "d" of that rule is what I'm going to address here.

Rule 21, Part d:
"(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES.  Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible."

Pete Rose has violated both parts of this rule and has admitted to this.  Because he violated the second part, he is "permanently ineligible".  Banned.  Not part of the baseball.

Some people argue that he never bet against his own team.  My response is "So what?"  The rule is the rule and he broke the rule.  He is ineligible.  The game was almost destroyed by betting, and that is why the rule exists.  He broke the rule.  He is permanently ineligible.  Yes, I know I'm repeating myself, but I am so tired of the online arguments in favor of his inclusion in the Hall of Fame, because he allegedly never bet against his own team.

Now, let me diverge for a bit.  For years, I've thought the Hall of Fame itself has a major weakness.  There are people who are clearly the all time greats - people who had amazing careers over a long period of time.  Ruth.  Gehrig. Young.  Johnson.  Mays.  Cobb.  Williams. Musial.  Mathewson. There is no doubt that they belong in the HoF.  They don't even need a first name to be recognized.

There are others who were brilliant, but for a short period of time  Sandy Koufax stands out to me as the perfect example here.  Herb Score, but his career was way too short.  Thurman Munson.  Lyman Bostock (does anyone remember him?)  Maybe Kirby Puckett, but his career was about 12 seasons.

And then, there are players who were above average, sometimes well above average, over a long period of time.  Ferguson Jenkins.  Tommy John.  Bert Blyleven.  Nolan Ryan.  On the hitting side, Tim Raines comes to mind.  Harmon Killebrew.  Johnny Damon.  And, I put Rose in this category.

I think of the players in this latter group as people who collected gaudy absolute numbers by playing a long, long time.  They weren't terrible players at all.  But, they weren't the best of the best.

So, if you look at Pete Rose's total career, you see the all time hits record.  But, remember that he was a terrible player for the final five years while he doggedly chased the record.  He also made more than 10,000 outs in his career.  He ranks 65th all time in a category known as WAR - Wins Above Replacement value.  He is right behind Adrian Beltre and Jeff Bagwell.  Are they Hall of Fame material?  But, still he's in the top 100 baseball players of all time in this category.  So, yeah, he's a very good player.

What happens when you look at his qualitative numbers though.  When you ignore the gaudy collected numbers, and peer into how good he was per at bat?  In a statistic known as OPS+ (on base percentage plus slugging percentage, adjusted by league and ballpark), Rose ranks 411th all time.  This is just among hitters.  His WAR ranking included hitters and pitchers.

But, you might argue, his career value probably dropped because he hung on a long time to get the career hits record.  To that, I might say "so what?", because he was actively hurting his own team in a search for a personal record.  But, let's borrow some information from a CBS Sports article.

If Rose had retired at age 40, with approximately 3700 hits, his career OPS+ would have ranked him 257th all time.

If he had retired when he got 3000 hits, he would have ranked about 220th all time.

Yes, I remember watching Rose growing up.  Charlie Hustle.  The charisma.  The collision at home plate in the 1970 All Star game.  The never-say-die attitude.  I admire those traits.

If I get to create my own HoF though, I put Rose in the longevity wing, if the gambling hadn't happened.  In the current system, I think he belongs in the HoF for his career achievements, if the gambling hadn't happened.

But, the gambling happened.  The rule is clear.  If Pete Rose is ever inducted into Cooperstown, I will never step foot in the HoF again.  I think it would send a message to other players that the rules don't matter.  But, they do.  The rules exist for a reason, and I can't see any reason to ignore the rule and invite Rose to Cooperstown.  Ever.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A look back: Laurel Highlands Ultra (70 miler) - 2003

Laurel Highlands Ultra Race Report

The Laurel Highlands trail race is a 70.5 mile race in southwestern PA.  It travels northeast along the entire length of the Laurel Highlands trail, a trail whose every mile is marked by small cement markers shaped somewhat like mini Washington Monuments.  The race award is a wooden replica of the mile markers.

A year ago, my buddy Joe did this race in its relay format.  Relay teams can have from 2 to 5 members, and Joe’s team was a 2-person team.  Joe loved the race and talked about doing it on his own this year.  My schedule is usually tight in June, but due to doing a September 100 this year, I found myself with time to squeeze this race in.  Joe and I both signed up months ago and discussed the race by e-mail for months.

We’d been warned repeatedly that it’s a tough trail and the race is more like a 100 than a 50 because of the difficult nature of the trail.  My per-mile pace ended up being the slowest I’ve ever run in a race other than a 100.

So, on Saturday morning, June 14th, as soon as it was light enough to run without lights, we were off.  There were just over 50 people doing the ultra and perhaps a dozen or so relay teams.  The course is divided into five major segments of approximately 19, 13, 14, 11, and 13 miles.  The first segment is easily the most difficult and it was a tough way to start the day.

We did half a mile through a park to the trail and then immediately headed up.  We started at about 1200 feet and the trail peaks in the 2700-2800 range.  By mile 3, we’d done a major ascent followed by a major descent.  I had been thinking about shooting for four hours for this first segment, but decided to focus on an easy effort rather than time after seeing the course.  This paid off later in the day.  Joe, meanwhile, had left me behind after half a mile or so.  I wouldn’t see him for a long, long time.

Soon, we started the biggest ascent on the course, climbing to about 2600 feet just past mile seven.  By mile 10, we’d climbed 3000 feet.  By the 19 mile aid station, it was 4000 feet.

I had my dad along crewing for me.  He’s going to crew for me at Wasatch and he’d never been to an ultra before.  Because he lives in PA, this was a great opportunity for him to see a race and learn a little about crewing.  Plus, I could use the help.

I first saw him at 11 miles and was glad he was there.  My shoes were giving me problems and I needed to change to protect a hot spot that was developing.  I next saw him at 19 miles and there I needed to tape the hot spot.  He was more concerned than I was about my feet.  I’m used to dealing with these sorts of things, but I could hear the concern in his voice as he asked me about my feet later.

As I left the aid station, I saw my first runners in hours.  This is a small race and the field spreads out quickly.  I passed three people from 19-22.  Two of them would pass me back; one more than once, but I would always return the favor.  At mile 22, I saw a runner in front of me suddenly sit down.  He told me he was “crashing hard.”  I offered him food and electrolytes, but he mostly seemed like he wanted to just sit down and be left alone, so I took off. 

The running through here got easier but there were still some significant climbs.  Overall, my altimeter registered just over 10000 feet of climbing and descending with 17 climbs that counted as “laps” on the altimeter.  A climb only needs to be about 150 vertical feet to show up as a lap, but a 150 foot climb and a 1500 foot climb each show up as one “lap”.

I was averaging about 4 miles per hour overall, walking the ups, the steep downs and the tougher sections of the trail.  Overall, I may have walked 50 or so of the 70 miles.  My goal was to make 4 mph for 10 hours and then slow down as little as possible after that.  Before the race, I’d thought that making the old cut-off of 18 hours would be possible.  After just a few hours on the course, I told my dad that I was estimating 20 hours as my finishing time.  I’d end up pretty close on that one.

Around mile 26 or so, near a ski area, it started to rain.  Easy at first and then harder.  I found my dad just past the official aid station.  He told me that Joe was about 25 minutes ahead and running well.  I was happy for my friend to be having such a good day in his first attempt beyond 50 miles.

I got to the 32 mile aid station in about 8:20 or so and was surprised to see that my dad wasn’t there.  I grabbed aid station food and Powerade instead of Gu and Succeed and headed out quickly.  Before I left the aid station, I told the volunteers that when a guy wearing a cowboy hat and an orange shirt turned up, they should tell him he was in trouble.

Soon, I was starting the 35th mile and I’d be halfway there.  The mile took forever, it seemed.  This mile spawned a thought in my head and I was soon compiling a list of “Miles from Hell”.  The list ended up including 35, 39, 44, 50 65 and 69 by the time the race was over.  I hit the halfway point in 9:15 and my estimate of 20 hours still seemed plausible.

After passing mile 35, the terrain got easier and the weather worsened.  The mud from the first rain shower had mostly dried and the footing was better.  I had a couple great miles into the aid station at mile 38, passing three runners in the couple miles before the aid station.  One runner pretty much jumped out of his skin as I startled him while passing.  I think people were very much expecting to be alone out there and another runner passing was a surprise.

Suddenly, the skies opened up.  I was raining hard.  Just as I was thinking that this was the hardest rain I’d seen in a while, it started raining harder.  I found my dad at the aid station and he apologized for missing the previous station.  He’d gotten lost and arrived minutes after I left.  The rain led to some chaos that would cause some problems later.  I got out quickly and started a nasty, muddy descent.  Suddenly, the rain ended and we spent a few miles on nice easy trails.  Until mile 44.  That serpentine mile wound through jungle-like foliage up, down, up, down and around.  I thought it would never end.  But of course, it did, and suddenly, I was at the mile 46 aid station.

I grabbed my lights, knowing that it would probably get dark before I made the next aid station at 57.  I also wanted to take extra Gu and Succeed here in case I got nauseous as the miles accumulated a common problem for me.  Where’s the food bag?  It wasn’t there.  All of my food and Gu were gone.  They’d apparently been left behind at the mile 38 aid station in the rain.  My dad hadn’t gotten any water for the Succeed.  I could tell that my dad felt bad and I didn’t want to make him feel worse.  I did make a comment before I realized what had happened that the one thing that I absolutely needed was the Gu and now I didn’t have it.

I crossed the highway to the main aid station, which was off limits to crews.  They offered me some Red Bull.  No thanks.  I went with Powerade, fig newtons, salted potatoes, and hit the trail.  The next couple miles were mentally tough.  I had a limited amount of food to get through 11 miles and I was worried.  I had some Pringles, about 5 fig newtons, and one precious Gu.  I rationed them carefully and was thrilled to find that the unmanned aid station at 52 had Gatorade.  Normally, I wouldn’t touch Gatorade in an ultra, but at this point, it provided calories.  I pressed on.

At about mile 55, I pulled out my LED light.  Twenty minutes later, I added my halogen lamp as well.  I pulled into the mile 57 aid station at about 9:30 or so.  I heard a familiar voice.  Joe was there.  When he saw me arrive, he got out fast.

My dad had some good news for me.  He’d scrounged a few Gus from other runners and a protein bar.  I took the Gus and the burger that he’d gotten for me and passed on the protein bar.  I grabbed extra batteries for my halogen lamp, re-filled my hydration pack, grabbed a turkey sandwich and set out for the last 13 miles. By now, I was simply power-hiking.  I ran a few more short stretches but fast walking was the norm.

I needed to average 18 minute miles to break 20 hours.  It was going to be tough. 

I caught Joe about mile 57 and stayed with him for about ¾ of a mile before passing.  I made one pit stop and he re-passed me briefly, before I moved past again.  At about mile 60.5, we went out on a dirt road for about a mile and half.  Here, I thought, I can make up some time.  But, it was mostly uphill and I barely held my pace.  At the top was our final aid station.  I had a quick bowl of soup and hit the trail.  Like I’d done at least 3 times earlier, I tried to leave the aid station going the wrong direction, but the guy manning the station straightened me out quickly.

I hit mile 62 two minutes off pace for 20 hours.  I tried to make it up in mile 63, a fairly easy downhill mile.  I lost another minute.  Then two minutes in mile 64.  Twenty hours was slipping away.  But, I stayed focused on getting to the finish.  I was in my last two hours.  One foot.  Then another.  Repeat.  Mile 65 was tricky and I had to be careful to make a few correct turns.  The next mile was easy. 

When do we start the descent? 

We needed to drop about 1300 or so feet to get off the ridge we’d been following all day.  I’d been hoping it would be over 6 long easy miles, but at mile 67, we were still way up there.  I was caught off guard by the sudden appearance of red lights in the distance through the trees.  It turned out to be radio towers.  Then, under some crackling power lines.  Now we were going down.  Mile 69 was all down.  There it was – the mile 69 marker.  One to go.  It was an easy mile but through a labyrinth of trails, some marked with glow sticks and others that left me searching for the omnipresent yellow trail blazes. 

Lights in the distance.  Voices.  I was done.  I made it in 20:16.

This is one tough race, truly 70 miles of technical trails.  Unique in distance.  It’s a beautiful trail, but the view doesn’t change very much.  You’ve got to watch your step all day long.  Great aid stations.  And, the 22 hour time limit makes this race much more accessible to the middle and back of the pack runners than the old 18 hour limit did.  It’s well worth the trip to run this one.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Collecting data and then ignoring it

I recently got a Fitbit Surge.  It's a pretty cool little toy.  It has a continuous HR monitor, monitors sleep very well, keeps track of steps taken during the day, and it has GPS for running or hiking.  The GPS function does place quite a strain on the battery, limiting you to about 5 hours of continuous use.

With GPS turned off, the unit goes about 5 days between charges.

There is an iPhone app for the FitBit, but the online user dashboard is much more impressive and useful.

I've had a few minor complaints with the unit, mostly similar to what I'd read online about HR measurements.  In particular, it seems that my resting HR, which is measured overnight, is simply too high.  There are times when my instantaneous HR will be 20 beats lower than my alleged resting HR, so I think there are some algorithm or sensor issues.  But, the HR data does seem to be consistent, and as such, it's useful, even if the magnitude might be incorrect.

So, I'd written previously about feeling somewhat ill and taking it easy and trying to let my body recover.  While I was doing that, my resting HR dropped consistently from 5/22 through 6/9.  In those 18 or so days, my RHR dropped by 13 bpm.  I took that as a good sign that I was doing the right thing and my body was recovering.

Then, on 6/10, my RHR went up, by a single beat compared to the day before.  I didn't pay much attention to that one blip.  Over the course of last week, I did CrossFit on Monday and Tuesday.  I felt good on Monday and squatted heavier than I'd squatted recently.  Tuesday wasn't too hard, but by Wednesday, I was sore.  On Wednesday, I did a hilly hour-long walk, but skipped CrossFit.  Thursday and Friday, I was back at CrossFit and I worked hard on Thursday.  Saturday, my wife and I went for a run.  Sunday, I did a hilly hike at Sugarbush, spending a lot of time bushwhacking, looking for a ski one of my students lost off-trail last winter.  I was out for 2+ hours.  Sunday night, I was exhausted.  My appetite was gone again.  I felt terrible.

I wasn't really paying attention to my FitBit dashboard.  Monday, I noticed that my resting HR had increased by 1 or 2 bpm every day for six straight days.  I had this data and I simply ignored it.  And, I trained harder than my body was ready for me to train.  A clear data line showed that my body was getting tired and I was pushing the training anyway.

Monday, I took a rest day.  My resting HR dropped that night.  Tuesday, I did CF, but with light weights and fairly easy overall.  My resting HR dropped again that night.  Wednesday, I did CF again, but again, I took it easy.  My wife and I were the last 2 people to finish the workout on Wednesday.  My resting HR dropped again overnight.

I have spent so much time since I got the FitBit, looking at the dashboard, and focusing on how many steps I took each day, and how much sleep I got each night.  I completely forgot to pay attention to another important piece of data.  By doing that, I basically set back my recovery from my recent fatigue by a couple weeks.  I feel like an idiot - having good data and ignoring it.

My resting HR last night was the same as it was 14 days ago.  It was 5 beats higher than the lowest number the FitBit has recorded.  I'm not going to consider a single hard workout until I've gotten down to that lower number.  And, if the RHR increases, I'm going to take a rest day.

What's the use of having the information if I'm not going to use it?