"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Running again

Things are going much better. I returned to work on Thursday and saw my doctors, who said things were healing pretty well and everything I felt was normal. The overwhelming social atmosphere at the office was delightful, though it later proved to be too much of a jump for me. Also, the aromas of everybody's lunches were too much for me, after sequestering myself from all but Alex's stray cooking fumes. I needed something, and sorbet wasn't doing it anymore. On the way to my appointment I grabbed a cup of Eyetalian wedding soup at Au Bon Pain in Union Station, opened my throat and just poured it in, meatballs and all. It was glorious.

My official weight loss from my pre-op visit was 17 pounds, I'm now down to a more efficient 164. The doctors did want me to drink Ensure and other such nutrition drinks, so I am doing so for a few days to get some protein. I spent the rest of the day planning to try running when I got home, but when I fell asleep on the metro ride, I figured going to work and the doctor's office was pushing myself enough for one day.

When I got home, I scrambled four eggs, on the advice of Dan Ruef, and managed to get most of it down. The smaller pieces got lost in the jumble of my numb mouth, but the big ones were great. If that isn't a better source of protein than Ensure, then I don't want to talk to you.
I woke up Friday morning feeling like someone hit me in the head with a bat. I stayed in bed most of the day.

Saturday I woke up and tried to run. I planned to go about a half hour, and as I ran around my apartment parking lot, I felt pretty good- the extra air making it into my lungs was a nice bonus. I decided on a Fisherman++ with potential add-ons around the metro loop. I hit my first (downhill) mile in 6:45, then around 1.75 started to feel like I was in over my head. The second mile was 7;15, and as I climbed up Fisher, I was definitely struggling, my lungs crying like I hadn't felt in a while. Clearly 12 days off with barely any exercise was deleterious. I had just enough strength to make it back to my apartment, for a 3.5-mile run in 26:10- a 7:30 average. I hadn't run that slowly since the ridiculous late July temperatures abated.

The next morning I tried to push the distance and start out slower. I ran to the Greenwhich mile loop and ran it three times and finished with a loop around the parking lot for 4.4 miles in 31:00- 7:03 per mile pace, and I ran it pretty evenly.

I took Monday off of running, but I noticed big gains in my throat recovery. The pain has been reduced to the feeling of a bummer of a sore throat, in that it bothers just a small area. I had my lip stitches removed, so eating is a lot easier and less painful. I had my first serious solid food -- chicken quesadillas and a smattering of fries, incredible tater tots and chicken wings that were a little too spicy at Churchkey. Hung out with Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Murphy, Snow and Nips Murray.

Tuesday I realized just how sensitive my throat remains to seasoning when I tried to eat a steak sandwich from Quiznos for lunch. It was too much. I came home and ran a Giant-Park, it ended up 6.1 miles and I ran 41:00, 6:43 pace. Longer and faster than my last run. I like the way this is going.

Tonight I will run along with the warmup and some easy miles on the track while the GRC dudes run a workout. I feel like I at least won't die during the WPIAL alumni run on Friday, though it will be hillier than anything I'm ready for. I doubt we'll be running under 7:00 pace. A week of training in Pittsburgh in the cold will toughen me up really quickly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I am hungry

At about five calories a cup, chicken broth isn't exactly what I need right now, but it's a good placebo. And it gets something into my stomach.

Yesterday seemed like a step back. I could barely swallow. I tried to eat pudding, but it never got much past the top of my throat. It wasn't going anywhere. I am getting bored and hungry. Netflix streaming isn't working well to sync up the audio and video of some movies and shows I'd like to watch, including 30 Rock.

My trip to Georgetown for a meeting ended with me sitting on a cushion on the floor in the corner, legs up on a bench next to Wilson, passing out during a presentation.

After a trip to the Giant to return some movies, I tried some new foods. Sorbet is saving my life.
I let it sit at room temperature and melt a bit, and it cruised right down my swollen throat, relieving the whole way down. Sadly, this did not go for the raspberry sorbetto, that was too bitter for me to enjoy. After the sorbet, though, I felt better for a while.

I am obsessing about food. When I mused that this episode might change my relationship with food, I think I mean that I will be more respectful of what food can do to my body, and what is in it. Alex caught me in a somewhat lucid state Monday evening and we talked about my weight loss- I was down to 167 today. Granted, a lot of those 14+ pounds will come back when I start eating and living a normal life, but he postulated that I could have a Lance Armstrong effect- waste away the excess upper body weight and be ready to go as a lighter competitor. I can only hope. I also hope my stomach shrunk. My scale at home put me at 166 today. I'll get official numbers at the doctor's office on Thursday.

Even lower-quality foods are starting to look good. This article about menu design brought the Huddle House chain to mind, and when I checked the chain's website to look at the menu, the enlarged photo of country-fried steak transfixed me. It's culinary pornography. Right now I would eat a Grand Slam at Denny's, even though I am pretty sure it features bacon or sausage prominently. I just want to eat something, chew it around, savor it. I am friggin dying here.
A cake. I want a cake. Toast. Grilled cheese with vodka sauce for dipping.

My childhood family friend Katie Ferguson and her husband Rob ran their first half marathon this weekend in Kiawah as part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. They survived and evidently had a blast. A few weeks before the race she said she was getting to the point where she is craving running during her off day. That just puts a smile right on my face.

I've watched a bunch of movies-
School Ties- enjoyable if for no other reason than to watch some actors when they were younger
Date Night- An amusing vehicle for the stars, but the only thing that kept me watching was the sunk cost of renting the movie.
Greenberg- Too pretentious for its own good. Totally unsympathetic characters. Though it was made well, one of the worst stories.
Hot Tub Time Machine- Good for all the reasons Greenberg was bad. Likeable characters. Delightfully lowbrow. Glosses over the right parts of the story to make it a tale.
The Brothers Solomon- bought it for $1 in Cumberland last December- Easily the fourth worst movie I have ever seen. I had no idea Will Arnett could not be funny, but Will Forte, who I have thought was a bit of a hack, managed to write a movie that was bad enough for that to happen.
The Naked Gun- A classic of 1980s film. Good God I'm hungry.
The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down- I hate hipsters, but somewhat enjoyed this blunt mockumentary.
Most of season 3 of 24- Kim's bangs don't do it for me. I really liked Ramon Salazar, but that guy at the end was far too fashionable to be truly threatening
first seven episodes of season three of The Wire. Wow, I love this show.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jesus Christ, look at me...

I went out for my last run for a while Sunday afternoon. I started with a New Virginia Manor loop, but then wandered over to the Tuckahoe Elementary area to pick up my race t-shirt from the director's house, ten headed home. Exactly 7.5 miles- 6:40 pace. No matter how out of shape I was, I still managed to run that pace. Hopefully I won't lose too much of that basic fitness during this time off.

I haven't eaten solid food in six days. I can't feel the front of my chin, and it looks like someone has taken up residence in my neck. Swallowing even a bit of water, or ever-present saliva initiates a wince of pain in the top of my mouth and my throat. I haven't been outdoors for an appreciable length of time since before my last solid meal. My feet are freezing and almost numb.
It's all going to be worth it.

Monday evening I finally put what I hope to be an end to years of sleeping misanthropy. A series of surgeries hopefully corrected what was so wrong with my mouth and throat:
I came to after surgery on Monday night, right around midnight, and instantly felt the difference. I could now breathe without the effort to which I had become accustomed. It was amazing. So were the painkillers. The next day in the hospital ran together a lot, and the big problem was that they didn't give me painkillers before I headed home, and a prescription snafu delayed delivery even more, so that night I went eight hours without drugs. Swallowing them when I finally got them was the most excruciating thing I had ever done, because I had to initiate the pain. Staying on a strict medication schedule was easy because I knew the consequences of messing up.

My swollen face, neck and chin about 72 hours after surgery, which means this was actually an improvement...

In the days since, I have pretty much just passed the time watching movies or napping. I am disappointed that I haven't been able to focus more. I would have liked to have used a lot of this time to read, but my attention span has been off as a side effect of the drugs. I am carrying on a torrid love affair with my Kindle, and my inability to perform has frustrated me. I wanted to be productive. Talking has been hazardous, because the threshold between comfort and pain comes very suddenly and frequently when I am making an important point. I do feel productive when my head reveals a defunct blood clot- not only does it clear up space in my noggin, but I feel like it shows progress in the recovery.

My mom stayed with me from Sunday night until Wednesday afternoon, and all of that companionship was crucial. She supplied me well with soft foods and most importantly, was a second set of eyes as I finally decorated part of my apartment, having lived here for 14 months already. A simple series of three photos of Pittsburgh I took in 2008 on a narrow wall has made a dramatic difference in how my place looks and feels, and makes it a lot more comforting when I am stuck here for days on end.

My chin is still numb, but it is regaining feeling by the hour. It's better I not look too closely at what is holding my mouth together, because I am not sure I could fully handle it. Obviously, I can't eat solid foods, so my desire for them has only increased. I am able to eat pudding, jello, ice cream (though it doesn't taste good). A little bit my of sense of taste is altered, but the doctors assure me it will come back.

I badly want the following:
  • pizza- primarily from Pomodoro or Cheff Geoff's- particularly the meatball pizza I had the day after NCAAs
  • chicken kiev from the Eleventh Street Lounge in Arlington
  • basilo linguini from Matchbox. I had this with Nora and Nadir the Friday before surgery, and I devoured it.
  • chicken Parmesan
  • a chicken sandwich and fries from Pizza Perfectta (spelling correct) in Pittsburgh with Craig
  • my dad's chicken chili and my ex-girlfriend's stellar cornbread. Alex made chili one of my first nights back and I was so jealous I couldn't stand it.
  • The Pad See Ew and the Australian strawberry liqourice Anne-Marie and I had a month ago or so
I do wonder if my relationship with food will change, though. So frequently I would eat something just to get some energy that I should have gotten from my faulty sleep. I can't go into it too much now because I am too hungry, but I wonder how it will change...

I can't wait to get back to running, hopefully by the end of next week. Eating again, however, will be my next goal. I'm definitely wasting away. I wish I knew some exercises I could safely do, but I'm better off resting completely, I guess. It kills me not to be able to line up with the GRC guys in Charlotte, or even at the Jingle all the Way 10k. I can't even yell loud enough to go and cheer for Dickson and Jimmy. As for USATF nationals, to paraphrase former Pitt (and current Chiefs) quarterback Tyler Palko, "I'm so proud of my motherfucking cross country team!" Big races from Wiggy and Predator. We beat Ragged Mountain, which might only matter to me, but it is pretty cool.

I am eyeing a return to work on Wednesday, but I'll go out into the world later today (Sunday) to go to a meeting. I can't wait to see how I enjoy normal life as a regular sleeper. Wiggy described his pre-tonsillectomy breathing aptly-- it was like someone had a hand around his throat. If I do indeed sleep better- every second of my life is going to improve. Waking up won't be as traumatic, I won't need a nap just to get started on something, the time I spend sleeping will be efficient. Running- man, I can't even begin to expect what I will feel. I survived 100+ mile weeks this summer feeling like crap. How much more will I enjoy it now that my body will recover when I sleep? There were times I would be running and spending more than enough physical and mental energy getting the air around those bulbous tonsils. To take a deep breath- I just don't know what to expect.

Saturday evening. The swelling has fallen dramatically, but I still look oafish. I need a shave, but with stitches in my chin, I am not risking using a razor, especially if the skin isn't taut.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Guess my weight!

This afternoon I will finally get rid of my tonsils. I'll also lose my uvula, part of the back of my tongue. The doctors will also drill a small hole in my jaw and pull my tongue muscles forward.
All this means I won't be able to eat solid food for a while. Possibly a week. I've already had to fast for 14 hours, so my behemoth (for a runner) frame is going to shrink a bit. The question- how much?
During my pre-surgical visit, I weighed 181.3- a lot, I know. I have a followup visit on the 14th. My question to you is- how much will I weigh then?