Thursday, April 27, 2017

Another crash

My physical self has become a stranger to me recently; I don't really "know" my body anymore. I've mentioned the energy rollercoaster, the good days and bad, not quite knowing how much of this is adjusting to thyroid medications, how much is fluctuations of hormones, how much is psychosomatic, how much is just "me."

On one hand, I've struggled with real fatigue — feeling more sluggish in my daily routine, blinking against sleepiness at 3 p.m., sneaking off to take actual naps, and setting an alarm so I don't pass out for hours. This happens despite full nights of sleep and better morning alertness. I've learned that if I want to accomplish something mentally taxing, I'm better off attempting it before lunch. Jill one year ago would give a side-eye to this zonked-out person I'm becoming.

There have been other symptoms that one might ascribe to an underactive thyroid — I'm often cold in the afternoon and have to wrap up in my down comforter, as the thin couch blankets just don't cut it anymore. My fingernails are effectively falling apart, my skin is even drier than usual, and I've started noticing a bit more hair loss than before (not significant enough to worry yet.) Still, the numbers from April 11 wouldn't indicate hypothyroidism, so I have to assume this is just part of the adjustment.

On the other hand, I'm becoming stronger. Three weeks ago, I started back at square one with twice-weekly weightlifting, and I'm already ahead of where I was after four months of focused training over the winter. And I'm much more energetic when I'm in "active" mode. If I want to battle the afternoon sleepiness (and I've managed to resist the temptation to take a nap), all I need to do is go outside and start running or riding. On Monday I enjoyed a relaxing yet strenuous five-hour, nearly-50-mile mountain bike ride through the foothills. On Tuesday I stole an hour-long window between hail and snowstorms to jaunt up and down a 10K dirt road run with 1,100 feet of climbing. Running downhill through shoe-sucking mud, I managed to kick it up to that low-seven-minute-mile pace that feels so exhilarating. I could not run like that two months ago. No way. I would have been a gasping, dizzy, mucousy mess.

On Wednesday, overnight snow gave way to blazing sunshine. I had things to do in town, so I set out for a quick morning jaunt up Sanitas. My new thing with the steep ascent of Sanitas is to vie for new PRs in "all-hiking" mode, and see if I can keep up with runners in the process. (I've come close.) A friend had just sent me a nearly new pair of Altra Olympus shoes in the mail, and I was trying them out. After the breezy ascent (new PR! 26 minutes), I started down the winding, runnable descent feeling particularly light on my feet. Seven-minute-miles were fresh in my memory, and I picked up the pace to something just fast enough to necessitate total focus.

What happened next might seem inevitable to those who know me, but it all happened in such a strange fashion. I put my left foot down and something didn't feel right, causing me to lurch forward with my right foot and catch my toes on a rock. The terrain was a rock garden on a nearly level section of trail, so there was nowhere to roll, although I'm sure more graceful folks would have managed this. Of course I went down like a dead fish, slapping the rocks hard, really hard, and tearing up my right elbow and left knee in the process. Blood was gushing down my arm and leg as I crawled several meters off the trail into a cluster of trees, as I'm always terribly embarrassed when I fall and hope no one will see me. Then I curled up into a fetal position, writhed, and hyperventilated for at least five minutes, because I was in quite a lot of pain.

After I started to come around, I fished through my backpack for wet wipes, finding six (lucky break; I needed all of them just to slow the bleeding.) Instead of continuing in the direction I was heading, which would have necessitated a four-mile hike, I turned to limp back down the mile-long steep part. This proved incredibly taxing. Some trail runners seem to bounce right back from their crashes, but I am not one of those. Perhaps it's my dead fish landing technique, but I felt like I had been hit by a car. I managed the steepest parts by effectively crawling backward, trying to avoid putting any weight on my left leg, although that was unavoidable. The descent took 75 minutes (contrast that to 26 minutes of climbing.) My face was scrunched up in pain, my joints were still gushing blood, and it was just misery. I'm somewhat familiar with this state — the curse of a clumsy person who both doesn't get better and doesn't give up — but that never makes it any easier.

Now I sit at home on an early Thursday afternoon, with the afternoon brain fog beginning to seep in, and too sore to do much about it. Maybe happily, the rain is pelting down outside, and I can still curl up in my down comforter and attempt a blog post to see if that jogs the creative energy. Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow. 


  1. You're a hero. Keep slogging. Sometime licking your wounds and healing is part of the process. No less heroic.

  2. Love that your low moments are bolstered by 50 km mountain bike rides, 10k muddy runs and getting back to weights. Crashing is just a side effect of "still doing it".

    Wish I could stop recovering long enough to train again!

  3. Ouch! Dang, Jill, be careful! Glad you're having some really good days. Sorry about the other stuff. Hopefully, things will get better.

  4. Ouch. Those symptoms I deal with on a daily basis, hope you will move past them. This is a different comment form! Mary

  5. Have you considered Candida or gluten sensitivity OR sleep apnea? Good luck.

  6. The occasional crash is the price of admission.


Feedback is always appreciated!