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From Saddle Sores to Bed Sores: Felled by the Flu?

By Scott Simpson

March 15, 2010

Well, not really -- I was never on the bike enough to get saddle sores, nor immobile long enough to get bed sores, but I have been battling something that I was attributing to the flu. And if I don't get better soon, getting to the start line of Ironman Louisville is in serious jeopardy.

So that's why I haven't updated in so long -- 4 weeks ago today I woke up feeling crappy, not nauseous, just very crappy without energy and spent the next several days on the couch. Kind of pissed that I got the flu again -- I just had the (self-diagnosed) flu 3 weeks earlier, but ultimately I was glad I had gotten those H1N1 and seasonal shots before the holidays.

So after spending another 4 days sick I was able to resume training / work and then BAM! -- 2 days later I feel very crappy and quite fatigued, with periodic shivering and chills, and with a sore throat. Since this latter symptom was new, I thought that I must have contracted yet another flu bug -- grrr.

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After another 2 days on the couch -- I think the Olympics started at this point -- then I had a good day and did a very easy bike, just spinning. I was being very careful not to stress my body since -- I figured -- it had just fought off 2 flu bugs.

Felt ok the next morning so went for a very easy swim in the morning, but toward the end of my easy evening run I started to feel crappy. I spent the next 8 days on the couch -- profoundly fatigued, feeling very crappy, with periodic shivering/chills and dozing while the Olympics played on the tv. I went to my doc and got blood work but only my amylase was elevated.

Since then I've had an increasing number of good days -- when I can get stuff done, and have walked for an hour and felt ok -- and fewer bad days when I'm forced to the couch wondering what's happening with my body.

Yesterday I went to see my doc again and was telling him about my symptoms including an increased awareness of ringing in my ears. I had forgotten about the shivering/chills -- when I suddenly started to tremble like I do when I get cold, so that reminded me to tell him while I put my coat back on to alleviate what I thought was shivering.

Then my heart rate started to race, my chest felt tight, my breathing became rapid and I felt physically anxious, but not emotionally. And that's what I told the doc, so we went into his exam room and he took my blood pressure and heart rate while I continued to shake, my palms sweated, and my breathing was rapid.

He said that I was exhibiting symptoms of an anxiety attack and I said -- between rapid breaths -- that I thought that that was accompanied by psychological symptoms as well. He continued monitoring me and after perhaps a total of 7 minutes the symptoms started to abate and a few minutes later I was feeling mostly normal except a little trembley.

The doc then asked me if I had felt like I had to flee the room during the symptoms and I told him no. He said something is going on -- could be my adrenal glands and mentioned that there was a very rare form of tumour that can grow on them -- or it could be my heart since highly trained athletes may experience heart problems and symptoms differently than most folks.

So the upshot is that one day next week I spend 5-6 hours for an abdominal CT scan and a stress test. Today, so far, I've been feeling not too bad, so this afternoon I did an easy 45 minutes spin on the bike and so far, so good -- although I can tell that my body is not running smoothly -- something is definitely amiss and hopefully we can get it sorted out so I can get back to training.

I figure that with my lost fitness and the fact that I'm going to have to very gently ease my way back into training once I get on a recovery plan, that the latest I can earnestly start training again and still be able to finish the Ironman -- the 12 hour time goal is becoming a distant dream -- is sometime in April. Otherwise I will have to try to push too much training into too little time and risk injury -- or more likely -- illness. Safety first!

Stay tuned -- now that I'm more functional I'll get more regular with the blog and let you know how the medical testing goes -- I know I'll be happier when a diagnosis is made and we can get a plan of action happening.

Yours, with sweaty palms.

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HIV+ Triathlete: Til I Drop


Scott Simpson

Scott Simpson

Scott Simpson is an HIV+ triathlete, student and inspirational speaker avoiding real work so he can find more time to train and learn. A former party boy, Scott has gone from the fictional national drinking team to the real Canadian national triathlon team and is current provincial long course champion in his age group. Scott is also founder of, and inspiration for, the Race for Dignity, which is both an annual spinathon in Toronto and annual school campus events coordinated by Dignitas Youth chapters. Cumulatively, they have raised almost a million dollars for the medical humanitarian NGO Dignitas International, contributing to over 11,000 people living with HIV/AIDS gaining access to ARVs in Malawi. Scott is currently training for Ironman Louisville 2010.


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