Wednesday, April 10, 2013

15 Months in a Week

I mentioned the bruising on my arm a couple posts ago, and I even added pictures.

I was a little worried about a blood clot, but I saw my local doctor today, and he's convinced I either partially ruptured or partially tore the medial tendon on my bicep. I'm sure he thinks that caused the bruising because over the last three weeks, the bruises have moved down around my elbow.

I'm pretty sure I realize now what happened. I was worried that I might have a blood clot because the bruised area really didn't hurt until a week after I played soccer and got the gigantic bruise. Also, the pain was getting worse, not better.

Once the doctor told me there's damage to one of the biceps tendons, I knew exactly what happened.

The bruise came from crashing into someone playing goalie. There was a little soreness just under my shoulder on the outside of my arm, and the bruising clearly came from there.

Since my arm wasn't hurting, I continued exercising, and of late exercising has included trying to get back to being able to do one pullup. Each day I was getting to where I could get an inch higher, but I was really going at it, holding myself up as long as I could and really straining. I'm absolutely certain this is what caused the tendon problems.

Even more so, a friend reminded me tonight that there are medications that damage tendons. That includes the antibiotic that I've been taking ever since my first chemotherapy over a year and a half ago.

I can strengthen the tendon by exercising, but I have to go easier on it.

Actually, right now I have to go completely easier on it. Since I was worried the pain near my elbow was from a blood clot, I've been keeping all the muscles around there moving. Exercise is good for a blood clot. It is not, however, good for a damaged tendon, and that is why the pain's been getting worse. Fortunately, there's been too much pain the last week or so to try pullups, so I haven't done any "heavy" lifting on that bicep.

Now I know I have to rest it, ice it, give it Glucosamine and Gelatin and light massage. I need to treat it like an injury.

I only didn't figure it out because I never thought of their being two problems, bruising from soccer and tendon strain from extreme exertion trying to do a real pullup.

I have a history of going overboard and injuring myself--mildly--when I exercise. In this case, however, the doctors aren't encouraging me to do less, they're encouraging me to do more.

I have a plan, though, and it's working. Today I ran & walked 5 laps around our warehouse, just over a mile, in 12:25, a personal PL (Post-Leukemia) best by over a minute. My previous best PL time was 13:34, and that was for exactly a mile. Five laps around the warehouse may be 1.1 miles.

Each morning I get up and run on the treadmill at least four minutes. Usually it's just over 5 now that I've been doing this almost two weeks. Four minutes is pretty easy now, and I get only mild strain in my calves. Five minutes has me breathing pretty hard, and my calves get pretty uncomfortable, but it's significantly easier than two weeks ago.

I have a mile-long run in my sights for two weeks from now. We'll see how that goes. I hope to be up to 6 or 7 minutes on the treadmill every day by then. A mile will take me something like the 12:25 I ran and walked today, but it's easier to run outside than on the treadmill by quite a bit, at least for me. I've already done 7:30 of straight running outside, and that was at least a week ago.

I'm kind of excited about becoming a runner again, and I'm trying not to push the progress so much that I injure myself. I've already done that with my bicep, which means I'm limited on the upper body exercises until it heals. At 51, muscles don't heal real fast, so I've probably cost myself at least 4-6 weeks. That's pretty annoying, though I can still do situps and lower back exercises. I can even do pushups if I don't do too many.

Otherwise, life is seeming pretty normal again. I have to watch my toes really carefully to prevent outbreaks of ingrown toenail, and I still have the medications to take and the steroid cream to put on every day.

Oh, and ...


I still have limited hair! As long as my hair is short enough that it can't be moved around, I'm okay. However, as soon as I let it grow much past a quarter-inch, then a hat moves the hair some, and it can leave me looking like I have mange. I just don't have that much hair.

What's funny about that is that I'm pretty sure the problem is that my gray hairs have not come back. It's not that they've gone back to being black, but they just haven't grow back. With only my dark hair on my head, my hair is pretty thin. Like I said, it doesn't look too bad when it's less than a quarter inch short, but seeing my scalp when it's longer makes me look sick (literally sick).

My white hair fell out 2 or 3 days before my black hair when I lost it, too. When it happened, the nurse told me she'd never heard of that happening to anyone else.

Now it's coming in last, too. I have my white beard hairs, though I don't think I have all of them. They are mostly on the side (and shaved off because there's so few of them), and my goatee is definitely not as gray as I remember it.

To give you possibly too much information, but it will be interesting for those who have gone or will go through chemo, I've grown and lost my underarm hair twice since I left the hospital after transplant. Mostly, I don't have any underarm hair now, even though I have most of the rest of my body hair back. I have a lot less hair on my legs, and I don't have any gray hairs on my torso. I used to have quite a bit of grey, at least on my chest.

Like I said, that's more than most of you want to know. I'm just kind of hoping to spare the next person the fear that they're relapsing if they lose hair they've already grown once. Happened to me, and I have no indications of relapse.

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