Members of Team SJS just minutes before the start of the 2010 Fox Cities Half Marathon!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Got 'er done!!

So I hope everyone had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend!! For the first time in a long time, the weather was great!! We visited some friends yesterday and planted a garden with them at their house. The kids were in the pool from about noon until 8:00 and got out only to eat in between! Brings back lots of memories of doing the same thing as a kid. And us parents even got in on the swimming for awhile. It really was a fantastic day.

Earlier Sunday morning, I rolled out of bed and started getting ready for my run. Luckily, my husband said he would do this one with me so I didn't have to do it alone! I pretty much woke him up and told him to get a move on! I wanted to get this run over with and especially before the heat got bad. So off we went!! I always wear my headphones, just in case I need a little musical motivation! Usually Paramore, Nickelback or Miranda Lambert - all depending on distance and pace! If I want to start out and keep the same solid pace for a shorter run, I listen to Paramore. If I'm struggling with energy or just plain tired, I crank up the Nickelback to rock out the rest of it. And, if I'm looking for a nice and easy pace, Miranda always makes the time fly!

But on this run, I figured I would only use it if I needed it. My husband kept me thinking about things other than the pain I was having in my right knee and my left hip. I can say that my lungs never felt like they were going to explode, and that's a good thing! Although my legs were pretty tired. The route we ran was nice and flat with enough shade to cool us off when we needed it. And once, right when I asked for a little breeze and shade, I got exactly that! The wind picked up at just the right moment and when we turned the corner, there was a beautiful shade tree just ahead. We laughed and chalked it up to God being with me the entire time. As He always seems to be.

Well, I did it!!! I slowed to walk about three times, but for no more than a couple of yards each time. And not once did I have to use my music! I was so proud of myself!!! I couldn't believe I had done it! Couldn't believe my legs pushed on and never failed me! Couldn't believe that I had done it in 1:04:36 which was only 4 1/2 minutes longer than I had hoped for - but my husband could! What was amazing to me, was just another everyday accomplishment to him. Not because he doesn't think it's a big deal or that it's something just everyone can do. And not because he takes it for granted that I'll just do it - but because he has seen all that I have overcome and worked so hard to regain! He knows the pain I've suffered better than anyone because he was there to witness it. And he was there for all 5 miles to see each and every step and to give me the gentle encouragement I needed, but only a few times!

He was there - like every time I've ever needed him and will be whenever I need him again! He is my strongest cheerleader and bigggest fan! He is my strength and my courage, each and every day. He is my husband, he is the father of my two beautiful boys and he is my best friend! He is my champion!! He believes in me when I can't seem to do it for myself and I love him for that. I am so grateful! Grateful for him, for our sons and for the first 5 mile hurdle to be over!! I have two more 5 mile long runs scheduled before the next big hurdle of 6 miles. So I think I can relax a little bit over the next two weeks. Just keep plugging away. One foot in front of the other!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Training run jitters?

So I'm nervous for my 5 mile training run tomorrow. I don't know why, but I am. My stomach has butterflies, I wish I could jump out of my skin and I know I'm not going to be able to sleep. Can you imagine what race day is going to be like? Ah!!!

For crying out loud, it's just a jog. An hour of putting one foot ahead of the other. I can run as fast or as slow as I want, I could slow down to a walk, I could lay down in someone's yard and stretch if I wanted. And that just might happen! There is no time limit, no finish line, no stop watch, no crowd. Just me, my running shoes and my ipod with my favorite songs to pull me through.

I've got the route mapped out and am planning on getting up early to beat the heat. So, who the hell cares? Just run it and do the best you can! You're not being judged by anyone on your form or how strong you finish. It's a training run, Kendra, and that's all it is! And tomorrow morning, after you set out for those 5 miles and finish them successfully, you can come home, sign in, and write about how you did it! That the first 5 miler is over and behind you!! One more step between you and that damn illness! And one more step forward to the rest of your life. Your new life. Your great life!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

For me, this is a big deal!

So it's the end of training month #5! I have been running 3-4 times a week since January trying to figure out if I have the ability and the will to pound the pavement for 13.1 miles! Scary thing is, as I get closer to race day, the less prepared I feel and am ready to just throw in the towel. But for some reason, I can't seem to wrap my head around not doing this race.

It's not like it's a race affiliated with SJS, it's just a local marathon that my family and friends have participated in over the years. There's nothing overly special about this one, other than it is very well organized and it's accessibility is perfect. We know which mile markers to go to in order to see people along the course and cheer them on. We know where to park so we can get out easily and still make it to the finish to see whomever it is huffing and puffing cross the line. It's an annual event for this family.

I told you yesterday that I would come back and tell you about my SJS story. Well, this part of the story is about a year and 9 months ago when I was finally off of the sedation and getting ready to go home. You see, I was in a medically enduced coma for nearly 3 months while I was on the burn unit. I wasn't moving around other than rolling over for the nurses that would change the bandages over my entire body; a process that happened twice a day and took 3-4 hours from beginning to end. So other than that, my body didn't move. If I had slouched down too far in my bed, the nurses would have to come in and lift me up by the sheet and reposition me. I couldn't do it by myself - didn't have the strength. I was on a feeding tube and had lost a lot of weight, including muscle mass that I would need to eventually walk again.

I remember the first time they tried to stand me up! The PT and nurses had to first get me to sit up on the edge of the bed. You never know how often you use those abdominal muscles until you're in a situation like that! And then, after a few minutes of catching my breath from just sitting up, they grabbed me around the middle and tried to lift me to a stand. I remember screaming because the blood had rushed to my feet and the pain was so incredible. I don't even know how to describe it, I'd never felt anything like that before. And then they were telling me to push up, stand up. I thought I was, I thought I was standing and all I had done was barely lifted my ass off of the bed! Well, what the hell? Seriously? I have to do more? SHIT! This is too much work! And why in the hell are my legs not listening to me? Why are the failing me? Oh my God, what is wrong with my legs?

We worked on it everyday for several weeks and I had finally gotten to the point that I could stand up with assistance and walk using a walker. A very slow, deliberate, painful walk. I had nerve damage in my feet that was so bad, it felt like pins and needles all of the time. I would get shooting pains in my toes and would NEVER let anyone touch them. By this time, my pretty pink painted toenails had fallen off and I was left with ugly feet! I had to learn to do stairs again before I left the hospital because my house has stairs. Physical therapy would continue three times a week for months in order to deal with the atrophy that had taken over my entire body. I wondered how normal I would ever be again.

It didn't matter that I had trained for so long and so hard before my illness - the triathlons, duathlons and runs meant nothing. There was no muscle left from all of that work! I would have to start over - and when I say over, I really mean from before the beginning! I wasn't starting from Zero, I was starting from a negative!

I started by walking with the walker around the burn unit. When I got home and had graduated from the walker to a cane, I began walking on a treadmill for 2-3 minutes at a time. Balance was a serious challenge for me, but I walked every day and grew stronger every day. And then, early one morning I walked my first mile on that dang dreadmill!!

Over the winter months, I began trying to run on the treadmill. I worked so hard at it, that by the time the one year anniversary of my hospital release date - I consider it to be a second birthday - I had signed up for a 5k run. Although running on the concrete still felt like running on sand, I knew I was going to run those 3.1 miles and I was going to finish. It was an emotional day, to say the least.

So now, here I am, still training and working hard at reaching that next goal - the half marathon! Maybe next year it'll be the real deal! The whole kit and kaboodle! Who knows, I think just maybe the sky's the limit!

By the way, I signed off yesterday and ran those 3 miles I was supposed to run but didn't want to! This weekend, I have to face the first 5 mile training run I have done since being sick! I'm a little anxious over that, but we'll see! I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Starting Today...

So I'm not going to start this out with the very beginning of my story. I guess I'd rather come back to that and just let you know why it is I started this blog. The first reason is that I am currently training for my first half marathon on September 19, 2010! I've always been a dabbler in athletics. Not real hard core, but I have participated in sports of some kind for most of my life.

Before I got sick, I was a triathlete! Sprint distances only and had really only done a few. I had also done a duathlon and, of course, numerous runs. The farthest I had ever run at once was 5 miles! I have been running again since January of this year and have worked my way from running solely on a treadmill to pounding the pavement!! Actually, I am supposed to be putting in my short run right now (3 miles), but am here letting my fingers do the walking instead!

So I am here to journal my training and to get information out to people about Stevens Johnson Syndrome. It's a very rare illness, they say 2-6 per million every year! Most often times caused by a reaction to a medication, nearly 40% of all people who get it do not survive. Actually, I just read that Manute Bol, the famously tall NBA player from the 1990's is currently battling this illness. It often times starts with flu like symptoms; fever, chills, nausea, etc. It then causes a rash which in turn changes to water filled blisters and the out layer of skin begins to slough off of the body. I lost nearly 95% of my skin! I was on a burn unit for 3 months and was in a medically enduced coma for much of that time. The mucous membranes of the body are the most drastically involved and many times blindness or loss of vision results. That's me! I have lost nearly all of the vision in my left eye. There are other things that have been forever changed for me too, but you'll hear about that as we go along. I would hate to bore you too much on my first entry! What fun would it be to come back, right?

I hope to have some followers on this blog at some point. I'm not holding my breath, however! I'm just glad this is here so that I can write it all down. And hopefully see some major progress in my continued healing and recovery. Who the hell knew it wold take so long to recover from an illness I was told I would make a full recovery from? Ah, oh well. It's all a process, so I've been told, and today I am putting one foot in front of the other!