Catastrophe Before and After Ragnar Relay
Before our Ragnar Relay: Florida Keys race even started, I was already picturing the epic blog post that would shortly follow. As you may have noticed, a month has slipped by since the awesome run, and there is still no post. That’s because it’s taken a month for me to finally collect my thoughts…so here’s the expedited story.
I was having really weird symptoms, that week, extreme exhaustion, slight nausea, cramps and spotting, so to clear my mind, I decided it would be best to take a pregnancy test.
I thought that was impossible, since I had just finished my period (or so I thought), but at that point, it didn’t matter, tears filled up my eyes, as I cried with joy and called my husband to share the exciting news. We were going to have another baby. I was literally over-joyed.
I headed to South Florida to meet up with some girls from my Ragnar team, the night before the race. I knew something did not feel right. I knew something was wrong and emotionally, I broke down. At 6 p.m., three of my amazing, supportive team mates and close friends, took me to the University of Miami hospital. After four long hours, the doctors had confirmed, my HCG numbers were extremely low and I was going to have a miscarriage.
Devastated, and in tears, the excitement of a baby has now turned to grief, but as the captain of our Ragnar team, I wasn’t going to let my team down. We had a 200-mile race ahead of us and I was not going to walk away from my team.
The next morning we met up with the rest of our team, to begin one of the greatest races of my life, Ragnar Relay: Florida Keys.
A Ragnar is an overnight relay race, or a slumber party, without sleep, pillows, or deodorant. It is a 200-mile relay race from Miami to Key West. You have 12 runners, 6 people in 2 vans, and together, you run to the ultimate finish line in Key West! Each runner runs 3 legs, ranging from 2-12 miles, and we leap frog our way to the finish.
Together, we crossed the finish line in 31.5 hours (overall , 9:38 pace) ran on little to no sleep, took zero showers, used more porta-pottys then I ever want to remember, and laughed so hard at way too many TMI stories. Some people (okay, just me) slept in the cargo area of the van with a bag of bananas as a pillow. I did not realize it was a bag of bananas until I found them a copule hours later! Sorry, to whoever bought the bananas!
We even labeled our van, #BAM (bad ass mothers), because we were all moms, taking a little time for ourselves, and it was awesome. It was a blast, and for me, the best way to keep my mind occupied, which was very much needed.
We finished the race in Key West around 7 p.m. the next day, and spent 2 days enjoying Key West.
After the race, I headed back to California and decided to have a follow up visit with my own doctor. I told her about the miscarriage and that my HCG levels were extremely low. She told me she wanted to do a blood test again, just to be sure. Much to my surprise, my HCG levels had almost doubled over the last week, which is not the way a miscarriage is supposed to go.
After multiple blood draws, watching the HCG levels steadily rise, hospital visits, and ultrasounds, the doctors told me, I was not having a miscarriage. I had an ectopic pregnancy. The egg implanted in the left fallopian tube instead of the uterus. They told me, I was at risk for the fallopian tube rupturing, which was ultimately, life-threatening to me.
I was forced to choose between methotrexate, a chemotherapy injection, or surgery, where they would remove the egg, but also may end up removing the fallopian tube. The risk with the chemo drug is, it does not work. The waiting period to find out if it was working would be one week, and that’s one week that I am at risk for rupture. Most ruptures happen within the first trimester and I would’ve been about 6-7 weeks pregnant. There was an 80-90% chance the chemo drug would work after the first round of injections which seemed positive.
I had doctors with conflicting opinions on what steps to take next. I was actually being prepped for surgery when my Ob/Gyn rushed in and told me the risks were too high, and she did not think surgery was the right answer.
Ultimately, we ended up trying the methotrexate, which was one chemo injection in each thigh. It was a little alarming that the nurse had to wear what looked like a hazmat suit to administer the injections, and that was, by far, the biggest needle, I had ever seen!
My doctors were confident that after one week, my HCG levels would drop significantly. The week dragged on and I finally went in for another blood draw. My levels dropped very slightly, but the drug had not worked the way it was supposed to, leaving my doctors shocked that the treatment was unsuccessful.
After discussion with my doctors, we decided to dodge surgery once again and opted to try another injection of the chemo drug, then wait, yet another week. The week of waiting dragged on, and we knew, waiting, meant I was still at risk for a tubal rupture, which could mean life or death.
On March 1st, after two rounds of chemo and two weeks of waiting, we finally got the results we wanted. My HCG levels had dropped dramatically. They told me, to get my blood checked again in the infamous “one more week,” and the HCG levels should be negative, meaning the ectopic pregnancy was finally over.
That final week of waiting, ended on Sunday, March 8th! The chemo drug worked! The pregnancy was over. The emotional roller coaster (pregnant-excited, miscarriage-grieving, ectopic-nerve-wracking) was over. It was time to breathe, time to re-focus on my life and heal emotionally.
When the doctors initially suspected the ectopic, I was immediately banned from running and from any physical activity. When I finally got the ok, to resume normal activity, I completed my first race on Sunday, March 8th, the Coaster Run 5K at Knotts Berry Farm.
I went to bed the night before the race with a fever and barely slept because I was so congested, but nothing was going to stop me from running that day. I had been through the ringer this past month, and I was coming out on the other side, with my feet hitting the pavement! I finished 7th out of 253 in my age division and 126 out of 2856 overall.
I’m incredibly thankful for my super awesome, #BAM friend who picked me up and then ran the Coaster Run 10K that day. She was with me at the hospital in Miami, ran with me from Miami to the Keys, took me for my final blood draw, and has been an amazing support every step of this emotionally draining process.
Sunday, was a great day.
I’m going to continue to keep my head high, stay positive and look toward the brighter days. Ragnar So Cal is on the horizon in April, and I can promise you an “epic” blog post to come, this time, exclusively about the race!