Always a Test

Blog entry posted by jldeleon, Oct 22, 2012.

So I was diagnosed with mononucleosis about a week ago. For those of you unfamiliar with this virus, it causes a litany of symptoms -the highlights of which are low, low, low energy, an enlarged spleen, and an average recovery time of SIX weeks. And yes, it is contagious, and although only moderately so, the contagious time is only a guess. Therefore, I will be missing at least two weeks of work –as the ramifications of spreading this around are so much worse than a cold. I have also been blessed with itching. I mean, everywhere, all the time, moderate to extreme –and nothing I can do about it.

When I am able to stay awake, I worry all the time about the state of my body as it relates to my, now, inability to run. For the last 18 months I have been running, regularly, and I have become the strongest and most agile I have been in my life. I have come to crave running physically, intellectually, emotionally and even spiritually.

And now, I can’t run. I can’t run, #1, because I have no energy. It takes almost all my energy just to get up, pee, take my vitamins, and eat. I can’t run, #2, because I have an enlarged spleen. I am a trail runner and all it would take is one wrong slip on the mud and if I hit my abdomen/rib cage just right, “pop” – I would rupture my spleen. Not my idea of a good time. And, no, I don’t enjoy pavement running, because it exacerbates most of my body’s imbalances, whereas trail running actually decreases them.

I battled years of back problems prior to running, and as long as I run about 15 miles a week, they stay away. What aggravates them more than anything is lying in bed longer than 8 hours a day. Initially, the mono caused me to sleep all day and night. Then 12 hours, followed by an hour or two up, followed by another 12 hours. Now, I sleep more like 14 hours, upon which I have to DRAG myself awake, followed by a VERY strained and exhaustive 6 hours up, followed by going right back to sleep for 14+ hours.

So, I was SHOCKED that my back did not really start to bother me until about the 7th day of this ridiculousness. I have to attribute this miracle to the balance my musculoskeletal system had achieved through running these prior 18 months. If this illness had happened to me 2 years ago, I would have been practically paralyzed with back pain/tension by day 3 of this kind of extreme inactivity. But on the 7th day I began to panic. My upper back, neck, and hips were starting to lose control of themselves. I was starting to lose control of my mind worrying about what was going to happen to my body. I was convinced that the positive effects of 18 months of running would reverse in a matter of 2 months and I would be reduced down to a slithery glob of painful, lardish, jello-ish muscles, and ooze onto the floor.

One thing about running is that…nothing else is like running. My body works best with long, slow trail runs. It takes a long time for my body to “shake out” and get to a point, alignment-wise, where it can then begin to reap the benefits of the run. I knew that inactivity would be the death of me, running or not. I finally concluded the swimming pool would be the “safest” place to exercise as it is difficult to fall when you are already in the water. So on day 7, I used my ration of energy for the day, on the swimming pool. I just did some super slow laps at first. Then I remembered I used to “run” in the pool and I started doing that. I did it with a twist though, I would run in a circle, like around and around in one spot. That way it gave a little “trail” variety to the running. I walked back and forth through shallow water. Without gravity able to do it’s thing, like in running, I found that it took a lot longer to achieve similar results with regard to my musculoskeletal alignment. After at least 2 hours, I felt a distinct improvement. I went again the next day (today) and again, about 2 hours was what it took.

So as I am doing the incredibly slow, careful laps, my body is repeatedly drawing to my attention the fact that my upper body sucks. Yes, it does. I was just thrilled that running did so many positive things for the imbalance in my hips –that I pretty much disregarded my upper back, shoulders, neck, etc. I’d occasionally try to add in some exercises for them, but mainly my running kept it, tolerable.

From lying on shoulder blades for so many hours, they are “winging” out away from my scapula - which, in turn, strains my back, neck, and hips and causes a lot of trigger points, everywhere. It takes a full hour of laps, mainly back-strokes, just to get my shoulder blades back where they belong. And it is not until they are back where they belong that I can even “begin” to start to exercise. Once they are re-positioned, everything feels better, including my hip alignment. Then I feel like I am getting better benefits from running in the water.

So what is the moral of the story? I dunno. I guess it’s that I have managed to convince myself that the results of 18 months of running is not going to disappear over the next couple of months. Also, perhaps this is a wake-up call to pay more attention to my upper body. And of course, as always, it is an exercise in patience, because now I have to spend TWICE as long exercising to get similar results. It’s also a reminder in what priority exercise should take when push comes to shove. And this is a HUGE push and shove situation. Physical inactivity is the killer of the soul. I won’t allow my soul to be killed. I will save my energy for physical activity, over ANYTHING else! Thank goodness I even have a few hours of (albeit low) energy a day to devote to it. Otherwise, I would seriously be in the loony bin.
rbondi likes this.