In October of 2011, I ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon in a time of 3:01:42. In four weeks I plan on running the 2014 STWM. Three years have passed. So where am I now?
In December of 2011 I was diagnosed with kidney disease that sidelined me from running for about four months. I had gained 30 pounds mostly due to water retention. When I was able to return to running it was for only short distances and at about half the pace when compared to when I was healthy. For the first six months of the disease Doctor V. (my nephrologist) advised me that the normal course of treatment is no treatment as 33% of patients remit with the aid of medication and that the side effects of treatment could be worse than the disease. Well I wasn’t one of the 33%. Next up was a choice between two types of treatment. One newer and one that has been around awhile. Both had similar results in that 33% of patients responded to treatment in six months. I chose what appeared to be the lesser of the two evils. Both would lower my immune system responses. The med was traditionally used for transplant patients to aid them in not rejecting their new organs. This appeared to be working for me in a limited fashion, however I was still anemic and lethargic. I was able to run again but at about 30% slower the pre-disease pace. I started to train for the 2013 Boston Marathon as my October 2011 result had qualified me. Nearing the end of the six months of treatment Dr V. wanted me to switch course and change the type of treatment. I was reluctant as I could function relatively normal. There were a lot of people worse off than me. Seeing dialysis patients in the renal ward of the Hospital made me feel fortunate that I could train for Boston albeit more slowly than pre-disease but a great achievement none the less. Less than two weeks later I came to the realization that my health was more important than running the Boston Marathon and asked to be switched to the newer meds. The wait in my decision meant a total of eight months on the first med treatment and again I was not one of the second 33% that remitted to meds. The new treatment started in February 2012 and consisted of a month of a steroid med followed by a month of a chemotherapy med for a total of another six months. Both are immune suppression meds. The steroid med made me hyper, hungry and alert. I slept for about four hours each night. The chemo med had the reverse reaction for me, making me drowsy and lethargic. I was able to continue my running through this period getting a bit faster week by week.
Then one evening March 18, 2013 I had a pulmonary embolism (PE) (blood clot) in my left lung. I was running on an indoor track. I had just run my first lap when I felt a sharp stabbing pain in my chest. Thinking indigestion, not heart attack as I had no numbness in my left arm. I left the track, got changed and debated phoning 911. I drove home and asked Margot to drive me to the emergency room. Thankfully, she declined and called 911. The first responders were fire fighters quickly followed up by paramedics. After a quick EKG and a ambulance ride to the hospital and what seemed like a long time in emerg, I was diagnosed with a PE and given a blood thinner.