Blogs tagged with "doctors"

It's been a rough week - work stress as usual and three doctor appointments (periodontist, oral surgeon, and orthopod). Treatment of my shoulder may require surgery but for now we're just doing anti-inflammatory stuff because I don't want to miss 6-8 more weeks of swimming. My hip will require a physical therapist - to start. Mostly, I just want to be free of the pain. Seriously, I've been running/swimming/biking in pain for so long, I can't remember a time it didn't exist. I just expect it. Bracing myself for it is now my routine. But I told my doctor today that I'm mentally frazzled, I'm losing the ability to keep a lid on my emotions about it. I hope this new regimen has an effect or I'll be begging for stronger drugs, cortisone treatments, and surgery.

The other round of doctors was for my teeth (and, as I found out today, a lot more). Before I can get my open bite fixed with braces and surgery, I have to have gum grafts to further protect my teeth and stop any additional recession. That will cost over $3000. The braces will be over $5000. And the surgery on my jaw will be almost three times more (I could buy a pretty nice car with what this thing is going to cost). We just found out that most insurance companies won't pay more than 20% of the surgery because they view it as elective surgery even though the surgeon says I need to have this done to solve the functional problems with my bite. I actually wasn't sold on the whole deal (mostly because of cost) until he delivered the kicker: almost ALL of my problems with speech, chewing, gum recession, breathing, sinuses, and general health above my neck will be solved with this braces-surgery combo. And he knew what they all were. I hadn't yet said a word in the surgeon's office when he spewed out an uncanny list of the issues I have with my mouth, my speech, my nose, and my breathing. He guaranteed he could fix all of them. He also guaranteed it would be a long process requiring hard work - but that I would be very happy at the end of it. My husband Jim seemed worried about one major thing: I will look different when it's all done. (And it does unnerve me a bit to think in the future I might be seeing a different face when I look in the mirror.) Talk about stress!

But by far, the very worst thing that happened this week was getting an email from a dear friend, a man I greatly admire and value, that he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That pretty much floored me. Despite his reassurance that they may have caught it in time to do surgery, I've been on the verge of tears for days now.

But I kept my commitment and found time to draw some stuff - very quickly:

The response to the cancer news - my friend told me his tumor
was the size of a nickel, so I drew something to devour it.
This was my Wednesday drawing.

And this was today's drawing, executed while wallowing in
shoulder pain from my doctor visit.

I also snapped a picture this week that I wanted to share. Yesterday while working late, we saw this looking out at the city of Cleveland from my office at the museum. My iPhone didn't quite capture the amazing depth of color, but it did well enough to show (seriously, we all stood around with our mouths hanging open - as though this was the first time we'd ever seen a sunset).

It's been a rough week - work stress as usual and three doctor appointments (periodontist, oral surgeon, and orthopod). Treatment of my shoulder may require surgery but for now we're just doing anti-inflammatory stuff because I don't want to miss 6-8 more weeks of swimming.

It's all in the shirt, a gift from my good friend Leland
(he "gets" it)
The title of this blog is something that Jason Davis, one of my team members, said the day I broke my rib. He's been through what most people would see as a career-ending injury. And he's heard it all, just like me. When doctors tell him that he's just not going to be able to do the things he wants to do as an endurance athlete, Jason tells them one thing - that's "NOT AN OPTION." On our ride that day, in telling me about his injury, Jason made me laugh so hard that I almost suffered a crash on my bike earlier than the rib-breaker at 95 miles.
And when I found out several days later that I did, indeed, break a rib in the crash, my doctor, Sam Patterson, said "you were lucky." Come again?
It's hard to consider myself lucky when I broke a rib. I didn't think I was the lucky one of three bikers when I was the one that crashed. I didn't think I was lucky when I couldn't run for a week and couldn't swim for two. How is that lucky? But that's exactly what Dr. P said: "You're LUCKY you didn't break your clavicle or tear your rotator cuff or break your scapula." Breaking a rib was the "lucky" injury. How can that be?
The answer? Apparently, I can still train with a broken rib. Oh, yes, it's painful, but I can "train." I can't swim all-out, I can't do flip turns, I can't run hard downhill, but I can "train."
Tell anyone who isn't an endurance athlete and they give you what I call "The Look." People at work are always giving me The Look. The "what, are completely mad?" look. They say things like "don't hurt yourself" and "why don't you take it easy for a few days?" They give me pearls of wisdom and caring speeches. And, although they mean well and they're just looking out for me, there are few things that frustrate me more than The Look.
How do I explain to these people what "training" really means to me? Dr. Patterson gets it. His "you're lucky you have the one injury that you can continue training with" was with the knowledge that I HAVE to train. That not training is NOT AN OPTION. Training is more than just a means to an end (the race) or a way to reach my goals. It's mental therapy. It's the reason I can go about my daily life and not end up in an asylum or addicted to drugs or driving my husband and friends insane. In fact, training is the very thing that keeps me sane. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. (Ask any endurance athlete.)
When a doctor tells an endurance athlete that he/she cannot train, he may be met with a different "look." The look that means (all at once) "I will get a second opinion and I will still train no matter what you say and don't tell me I can't." When his doctor said he couldn't train, Jason summed up his feelings in those three words - figure something else out because that's NOT AN OPTION. In 1992 after my second marathon, a doctor told me I would never run another marathon, that I would have to settle for running 3-5 milers and be happy about it. That was not an option. Eight months later, I ran a marathon. The next day, I couldn't walk upright. But I ran another marathon.
I'm addicted to training. Like any addiction, it can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes I think the most successful athletes are the ones who figure out how not to overtrain. In the event of an accident, like mine, the most successful doctors will figure out how to get us back out there as quickly as possible - give me something I CAN do.
Anything else is NOT AN OPTION.
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