I’ve been back in the US for 10 days. I’ve only been out of the house 5 times total since I got home. Three outings were medical related: one to the ER, two to follow up appointments with my doctor.
The other two times so far were to get a haircut and get some groceries.
I had been looking forward to coming home from weeks and weeks on the road. I was eager to experience and reflect on my re-integration into my “real” life.
Except my real life had other plans for me.
My flight back from Germany was the worst, ever. For the 12-hour duration of my journey back to these United States, I had a massive headache, my body felt like it had been run over by a Mack truck and I had the chills, no matter how many layers I put on.
I got home that Thursday night and went straight to bed. I was hoping I would feel better on Friday morning after a solid night of sleep in my own bed, with my head on my favorite pillow.
But I didn’t. I quickly assessed the situation: this wasn’t my normal jet lag experience. What the fuck is going on with me?
I decided to take advantage of that Cobra coverage I have been paying for all year and took myself to urgent care. Sure, I had a fever and I was exhausted, but the nurse’s reaction wasn’t what I expected: “You have an infection of some sort and you need immediate emergency treatment”.
Off I went to Fair Oaks hospital, where in the emergency department, they pumped me up with some serious antibiotics before giving me a CT scan to make sure the infection wasn’t more than skin deep. Luckily, it wasn’t. I filled two oral antibiotics prescription on the spot at the hospital’s pharmacy and headed right back to my bed.
From there, my healing was, and still is, a series of two steps forward, one step back. The fever broke later that weekend, but early the following week, the affected area was back to its original size. Fair Oaks had shared my file with my primary care doctor, so when I called for some advice on how to best take care of myself, they knew what was up and saw me a few hours later.
Things started to get better, and then regressed a bit.
Today, I’m not 100%, but I am having a good day. Plus, my head is finally somewhat clear so I can reflect on this experience.
For 10 days, I have done practically nothing else but try to heal. This morning, after sleeping for 12 hours and noticing marginal improvement, I realized how much energy the body needs to heal. It’s literally a full-time job.
There is no mind over matter, no pushing through; all that does is delay the healing process and prevent the body from maximal recovery. It’s both a humbling and fascinating phenomenon, especially as I think about all the things I have put my body through over the years: surgeries, miles and miles of running, a year of Ironman training, and let’s not forget all these years of partying!
It’s fascinating how a small nick coupled with strong bacteria (of the German kind nonetheless!) can put a halt on the best laid plans. I intended for some deep self-reflection upon my return: instead, I needed some serious self-care. Everything happens for a reason.
I’m not out of the woods yet, but I am grateful for this time of year as an enabler for slowing down. I also count my blessings that these symptoms manifested themselves upon my return to the US; I can’t imagine going through this in a foreign medical system, in a language I don’t understand. I’ve even contemplated if my body knew to hold off until I got home…
I’ve had to miss get-togethers and holiday parties; rescheduled appointments and meetings; but I have (re-)learned that taking care of myself physically is my most important priority.
As I contemplate my #2019goals, physical wellness is returning to its pole position.
Meanwhile, let the sting that lingers, the rest of my healing journey ahead and the eventual residual scarring be a reminder for the importance of self-care and the wonderful wonders of the human body.
Take care my friends, of yourselves, and of each other.