Updated: Apr 5
I put off writing this post a bit because, well frankly, I didn't want to write it.
It's a miserable, basically all bad news story.
But, I promise, if you make it through to the end, there should be a good message. I've had more than enough time to think and reflect—and although there were a majority of negatives going on—I've also had to summon new levels of strength, courage, and self-encouragement along the way.
Another note: I'm at the very beginning of this entry, but I must add to please excuse the quality of my writing. My head, body, and soul are the most tired they've ever been, and while I normally love proofreading, who knows what form this will take.
Okay! First up of course is quarantine training. I was actually handling this part really well, finding creative ways to work out wasn't putting too much of a damper on my mood. I was prepared to do what I had to do and felt like I had a great community of support around me anyways.
I had been sort of dealing with some hamstring pain leading up to the quarantine restrictions. At training camp this winter, I took some days off on sprint days because of this pulling feeling I was having in my right hamstring.
This decision was based purely on a "this doesn't feel right" diagnosis and I would rest and be fine.
This pattern, unfortunately, persisted for a while so I finally decided to really cut back and was primarily biking/resting for a while.
Ultimately, I was able to talk to physical therapists and identify some issues in my form and body.
With the resting I had done, and new exercises to strengthen where I was lacking, I got ready to phase back into more of a normal training routine.
First day back on the track!
Not doing anything difficult or special, just strides. It was one of the first super hot days this year and I was so excited to be back.
Unfortunately, right after I finished I started to feel some pain in my head that slowly was building in intensity. This pain was familiar to me, I have had what I thought were migraine headaches a few times in the past, so I was equipped with a pill which I promptly took and headed home to wait out the storm.
About a year and a half ago, I experienced these severe headaches every morning for about a week. It was absolutely maddening—waking up each morning with a debilitating headache, popping a pill, and waiting for it to end.
I would go back to sleep and text my coach to let him know I'd have to workout later.
After talking to a doctor, I learned that what I was experiencing is called cluster headaches.
To help summarize this rare disorder, I'm pulling a line from this article in the Atlantic: "the rare 'suicide-headache' is lesser-known than migraines, widely misunderstood, and often described as the worst pain known to humans."
So every morning I was waking up to level-10, burning, hot poker sensation on the right side of my head. Within 1-2 maddening hours the pain would subside. It was horrible, traumatizing, and every night I had to go to bed knowing this would probably happen again.
So, because of what had happened to me back in 2018, I was aware of what was happening again that day at the track. As upset as I was that this was starting again, I thought that, like before, I would experience these headaches for a few days, be fine when I wasn't having an attack, and move on again.
Boy was I wrong! I started having 2 headache attacks a day. In between headaches I still had pain that left me on the couch with an ice pack 90% of the time.
I tried so many medications. Like got to the point where the man at the pharmacy said "I feel like I see you every single day!"
During an attack, the pain is so bad that you can't lay down, speak, or hardly think. All you can do is wait for the pain to go away. You can't cry either—it makes it worse.
In my case this time, the pain would minimize finally, but never fully go away.
I went to an Urgent Care just over a week into the ordeal and was given more medication that ultimately didn't help.
Some of the attacks got even worse and lasted for 3+ hours.
There have been two days where the headaches were so long and severe that I couldn't take it anymore and headed to the ER.
The second trip to the ER finally gave me medicine that seemed to help. For the first time in two weeks, I woke up and had a full day without an attack. It was the most glorious thing.