Don’t fall. Breathe.

St Pauls - CardiologyThe last week has been a whirlwind.

One thing I know for sure is that falling on your face is quite disruptive to life. :) A weekend in the hospital {and the fall itself} left me completely drained and I had a brutal start to the week.

While in the hospital, the doctor said he would write me off work for a week. Tough girl Jillian said to him, “oh no… I don’t need that. I’ll be good to go for Monday.”

Truth be told, I probably needed one day. One day to process what had happened. One day to realize that I was totally scared to put on my runners again. One day to get some sleep and ice my face.

After I was discharged from St. Paul’s, I was given instructions to complete a round of Cardiology-related tests as an outpatient. The plan was I would get an ultrasound of my heart, spend 24 hours hooked up to a holter heart monitor and complete a heart stress test.

The tests went well and all I kept on thinking was – I’ve never had any issues with my heart, this ticker better be healthy. The heart stress test was by far the hardest. It was my first time putting on my runners since the accident and the nurse challenged me to hit up a hardcore incline on the treadmill. My knees are pretty banged up still and my legs are achy as hell, but I told her I’d give it my best shot. I made it to level 4 out of 7. 12 minutes. 16% incline. 5 miles per hour. 182 beats per minute.

While in the hospital, I don’t think I realized how much the accident screwed with my head. My immediate concerns were: 1) Is anything broken? 2) Can I still {physically} run? I didn’t think once about the impact falling on my face would have on my mental game.

I’ve had crazy anxiety all week. I’ve been thinking about my run goals for the year. I’ve been thinking about my upcoming half marathon in 2 weeks. And honestly, I’ve been debating if I’m capable of where I’m headed.

A week later, the doctors are still up in the air about how I fell, but leaning towards me fainting or that I had a cardiac issue. They told me that the tests may come back totally fine and I’ll have to accept the unknown.

Well I’ll know you what… the unknown is a scary place. It’s hard to accept the diagnosis of a ‘freak accident’.

Why?

Because who knows when it might happen again.

This morning I told myself that I had to run today. Just slip on those running shoes, layer up and get out there. I went back and forth in my head all day… to run… to not run… what if something happens?

Before you knew it, the clock struck 4:30pm and I still hadn’t left the house {doctor’s orders were to not run solo at night for a little bit}. Gah. Fail.

The fading blue sky was all I needed to motor out the door. I headed up the Granville Bridge and I just kept on repeating:

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Don’t fall. Breathe.

Don’t fall. Breathe.

Don’t fall. Breathe.

Most anxious run of my life.

Slowest 8k since I began this running journey. But I think I’m ok with that.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  – Helen Keller

Back to the grind.

Note: A few days later, I was given the all clear from the Cardiologist. Tests came back a-ok and his advice was to be careful and keep running.

Why Hello Pavement…

15K playlistYesterday afternoon started off perfect. It was a gorgeous sunny day in Vancouver and I was set to do a long run. The plan was minimum 15K. I was planning on running Stanley Park, then English Bay to Yaletown, but at the last minute I switched to an adventure in Kits. I was worried I would get caught in Stanley Park in the dark — and we all know I don’t like that park in the dark. :|

I updated my tunes and off I went {pssst… if you have Rdio, you can view and listen to the playlist here!}

I headed over the Granville Bridge as an epic sunset was taking over the sky. My legs were moving and I was excited to tackle new ground. A friend / mentor / ultra running crazy man, Adam Campbell, has been reinforcing to me that I need to switch from counting kilometres to focusing on time and going with the flow. I decided to do just that …. {briefly at least… I had good intentions :)}.

I ran past Burrard Bridge, then Kitsilano Beach and before you knew it I was en route to Jericho Beach. I was feeling great and decide the I would turn around at 10K instead of the planned 7.5K — I felt like I could do 20K and I wanted the challenge. Jericho was new territory for me and I didn’t know the area. I got to the beach (10K mark) just as the sun was setting and pink was taking over the sky. I knew I wanted to get away from the beach area before it was dark, so I booked it back up to the street. A few blocks away from the beach I bailed.

One moment I was running, the next moment I heard my cheek hit the pavement. My right cheek struck first, then my right shoulder. I was immediately in shock, but conscious. My whole body was screaming with pain and I turned over to sit on the pavement. I had torn my Lululemon thermals open and I could taste blood on my mouth and see it on my legs.

At the moment, I realized I was in the middle of no where. Somewhere near Jericho. No idea where I was — and not in the sight of a runner. I started calling all the friends I knew in Kits, someone who could come and pick me up. No one answered and I moved to my downtown friends. Katie {from the #RunCrew} picked up her phone and in tears I told her that I needed her to come get me. {Thank you for the cement rescue darling}.

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We made our way to St. Paul’s Hospital and soon enough we were in emergency. My cheek was swollen up and my legs were angry. I had no idea if anything was broken, but felt like the fall was sketch enough that I should probably get checked out. I was fast tracked to see a nurse and the process began. X-rays of my shoulder and legs — thankfully both banged up, nothing broken. Then a CT scan of my head and face — right cheek bone fracture. Then a EKG, blood work and a whole lot of questions to answer.

The doctors were less concerned about my physical injuries and more concerned about why I fell. They either think I fainted or that something was going on with my heart {irregular heartbeat etc}. No history of fainting or heart issues by the way. I was moved into another unit to meet with the Cardiologist and shortly after 1am, I was admitted to Cardiology for the night. They wanted to monitor my heart and meet with the Head of Cardiology in the morning.

I haven’t been overnight in a hospital since 1999. It’s funny how it all comes flooding back to you. Vitals every hour. Nurses coming in. Machines beeping. Code white. Code blue. They hooked me up to the machines and told me they’d let me sleep for a few hours. Just after 6am, the hospital hustle started. They were back to do more blood work and hook me up to more machines.

Shortly after 9am, the Head of Cardiology arrived to chat. We walked through what happened on the run and the tests that were run in emergency. As I had been stable overnight, he would release me but wanted me to stay attached to the Cardiology unit as an outpatient for the next few weeks. This week I’ll have an echocardiogram {heart ultrasound}, do a cardiac stress test {watching your heart when you run on a treadmill} and pick up a holder monitor {electrodes applied to skin and attached to tape recorder for 1-2 days}.

Fingers crossed, all tests come back good, I get the all clear from the Cardiologist and I’m back to the grind soon. He did confirm that running is good for the heart and he wants me to be back at it as soon as I can.

580556_4836531964636_1570522840_nRight now, I’m sore as hell and it’s the last thing my body feels like doing. My head on the other hand… knows I was on my way to an epic 20K run and can’t wait to get back on the pavement.

Thankful for everyone that has reached out since my tumble — and thank you to Katie for sticking by my side. The team at St. Paul’s was fabulous — I couldn’t have asked for better care.

There are likely lessons that have come from this event — but I’m not far enough removed from the situation to think of them yet. :) For now I will focus on healing my broken face, doing the required cardio tests this week, and getting myself to physio this week to take care of my shoulder and legs.