Curt Deming, Teaching Pastor
I’ve been saying it was a month ago, but by now it has been almost six weeks since I first noticed. It was Wednesday, August 10th, and I thought it was a sports injury from overuse.
Gina and I had a very busy, active summer, full of travel and exercise. I was proud to be jogging over 25 miles a week most weeks, and over 30 miles per week a few times. Gina and I would usually try to jog in the morning, then we would do something easier (like walk or bike) in the afternoon or evening. When summer ended and we started back to school and cross-country team practice, I was determined not to lose any momentum. Most days, I would get up early and jog a mile or two before practice and then run with the cross-country team during their practices (not exactly “with” the team; they are much faster than I am).
Last spring, while baseball season was still going on, Jared and I started a meet-up routine on Wednesday evenings. Gina and I liked to catch a ride to Wednesday evening Bible study with my mom, so we could jog home from church when it was over. Jared started meeting us along the way so we could talk and hang out before and after the jog home. We took a break during the summer, but I was glad to resume on August 10th. Because I knew what I was planning, I think I only jogged three miles with the cross-country team that morning. I was thinking that the additional five miles home from church would not be too much, but I was wrong.
I almost always sprinkle my jogging with liberal walk breaks, usually at a pace of jogging five minutes, then walking one minute. I found that I could continue at that pace for over an hour without any problem, and that increased mileage was helping me reach my fitness and weight loss goals. On the evening of August 10th, it just seemed much harder. I needed more frequent breaks, and it felt like I was going much slower overall. I concluded that two-a-day practices are a good idea for elite high school athletes, not so much for middle-aged men. I just considered it a failed experiment and determined to jog only once per day after that.
For the next two weeks, I kept jogging, but at a much slower pace, and I was never fast even before. It was a bit embarrassing to be going so slow, but I found that my scale did not seem to care how many miles I covered as long as I exercised for an hour in the morning. The pain intensified though, and I stopped jogging around the end of August. I still walked and rode my bike during cross-country practice and in the afternoons, and I decided that maybe I just needed to take a short break from jogging.
When the pain continued to intensify, that is when I became concerned. Early on, Gina asked if my back pain might be a sign of something internal, but I dismissed the idea because I was pretty sure I knew the cause. Then I began to notice other symptoms that did point to an internal issue. Early in the morning of Tuesday, September 13th I was up googling my symptoms like a cyberchondriac, and one of the medical sites recommended that I make an appointment to see my doctor because of possible kidney problems. I managed to get an appointment to see my regular doctor later that afternoon.
My doctor listened and looked me over, then he ordered x-rays, urinalysis and blood tests. He called me on Thursday to say that the tests indicated some type of problem with my blood, and he wanted to refer me to a hematologist. The next day was Friday, September 16th. I worked a full day, and after school Gina insisted that I go to the emergency room because my symptoms were alarming to her.