Those letters loomed bigger and bigger in my head for 3 weeks. For 3 weeks, my husband told me that if I didn’t get better soon, he’d have to strongly discourage me from participating in the GORUCK Light that we had signed up for as a 5th anniversary adventure. For 3 weeks, I insisted that COUGH COUGH I can still do this! WHEEZE COUGH SNIFFLE COUGH. I did not want to start off the 2013 season with my very first Did Not Start.
But my cough did not get better. It got worse. The coughing gave me (what I hope is only temporary) asthma. The cough syrup, antibiotics, and albuterol inhaler that my doctor gave me were about as useful as roller skates in a barbed wire crawl.
I tried saying, “Screw you, respiratory system! I’m going to go for a run and you aren’t going to stop me!” I jogged a whole mile and a half before I learned that respiratory systems don’t like being yelled at and contradicted. I barely made it home before the coughing and shortness of breath knocked me onto the couch for the rest of the evening. But still I hoped for some miracle to occur in my bronchial tubes that would allow me to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn on March 16 and become GORUCK Tough and earn my patch in the first ever Light class. I kept up with the rest of my team on our Facebook page, deciding where to go for our ruckoff and what would be our team weight. It was going to be so much fun to finally meet these guys (and chicks) and have this brand new GORUCK experience together.
Those ideas were shattered to bits when I wound up in urgent care the very next night having not been able to breathe properly or go more than a minute or 2 between coughing fits for about 4 hours. While at urgent care, I actually got worse. I was to the point where I had to sit there and actually concentrate on breathing like I was performing a super-sensitive nuclear bomb test. I was pretty sure that, had my husband not been there with me, I wouldn’t have made it home again. A flu screen and a chest x-ray gave the doctor their no insight into what is going on with me. All she could do was put me on more hardcore antibiotics (which I was pissed about but that is another bio-geeky rant/post,) a stronger cough syrup (with codeine so I can sleep,) a stronger rescue inhaler, and a maintenance asthma medication.
The next morning, I officially resigned from the GORUCK Light. I felt like such a failure. I know I am not some supreme athlete. In fact, I relish that I am not. I take so much joy in the fact that I DON’T sacrifice anything to do the events that I do. I DON’T eat strictly good-for-me food. I DON’T hit the gym for hours every day. I DON’T go for a 5 mile run every morning. I DON’T do any of this yet I still push myself to complete each and every race/run/event that I sign up for purely out of a determined spirit. So to admit defeat before even stepping up to the start point was like a spear in my chest.
When I woke up at 8am Saturday morning from my codeine-induced sleep, I knew that my team had already been on the move for an hour in the snowy rain. As I took my morning puff of Advair®, I thought “Dammit, I totally could have been out there with them!” I was still coughing and congested but I could breathe. Kind of. I had to rationalize to myself that I would have been a 117 pound team weight that everyone would have had to carry if I was out there and had an attack. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded, much less do a bear crawl or buddy carry with a bag of bricks on my back. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone. Right?
Now I just have to try to get myself better so that 1 DNS doesn’t turn into 2. I’ve got my first ever marathon on April 6 up in the Shawangunks. 26.2 Miles through the mountains from Butterville to Ellenville. If I have to crawl with a box of tissues in my ruck and my inhaler permanently affixed to my face, I will complete this. And even if I don’t I will at least start, because
Thanks for spending a few minutes inside my tormented and mucousy head.