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The Year That Wanted to Kill Me

Or, how a perforated appendix tipped the scales in Cooper’s favor…

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I thought about calling this post: What I Did on My Summer Vacation. Do you remember writing that essay every year in elementary school? 🙂

About a week ago, I waited on the gurney for my CT scan, and the nurse and tech started chatting. They brought me into the debate: Is life a series of tests? Things get thrown at you to see how you do, how you rise (or not) to the occasion?

Or, is life more like a battlefield where you get tossed a ton of stuff that God/the universe/whatever knows you can handle?

The only answer I have: Does it matter?

Of course not.

I believe everyone does their very best no matter what’s handed to them. Some people’s best isn’t good enough, of course, but they truly are trying as best they can based on their mindset and life experiences.

I struggle to accept that hardships are doled out only to those who can handle them because what does that say about everyone whose life just sort of floats by? If the implication is that it’s because they couldn’t handle something thrown their way, what does it say about the universe’s opinion of that person?

Let’s back up a step or two.

In February, while in a hotel room across the country, I awoke with a pinched nerve in my lower back. I could barely stand, let alone bend down to tie my shoes. But I wanted to go home. So, I limped and scooted and cried my way through a connecting flight, a layover, and a snow delay. It. was. awful. (I refuse to believe that kind of thing is thrown at me–or anyone–simply because you have the capacity to get through it. If it’s true, the universe is a jerk, which I refuse to believe because the world is a genuinely good place. Generally speaking. The lady who shoved past me boarding the Southwest connect from Dallas to Indy? Less good… I mean, we were all going the same place at the same rate, so why shove? But that’s beside the point.)

I got home, called my chiro, started therapy. It took about a month, but my back healed.

Feeling awesome, I ran a 10k the last week of April, then the first week of May I fell on a hike and sprained my ankle.


I spent the next eight weeks recovering.

Poor Cooper in all this. He trained with me–I wanted to run a half marathon this year–and because of my back and then my ankle, he sat out almost four months.

The end of June approached and I felt like I could start jogging again, at least slowly and carefully. I went on a jog. It was A-OK. Coop pulled a bit more than usual because we’d been off our training for so long, but no big deal. Nothing we couldn’t recover from. It took a little extra for my ankle to recover, but I felt like I could get up and running–literally–again soon.

And then, at the end of June, I thought I got the flu.

I spent a week sicker than I’ve ever been. Ever. And I’ve had cancer! Toward the end of the week, I started to feel incrementally better, but I figured I’d call my GP anyway. Just to be safe. I called on Friday, got an appointment for the following Tuesday.

I sat there that morning reviewing everything with him, and he concluded that I had a virus. He said if I was still sick in a few days to call back and they’d test me for parasites. I was, so I did. That was Friday.

Two days later, on Sunday, I landed in the ER.

They ran a bunch of tests, and I knew it wasn’t good when the nurse came in and said, “Don’t eat or drink anything else in case you need to go into surgery.”

Um. What gets cut out if you have the flu?

They started me on IV antibiotics. My gut was filled with infection. They admitted me into the hospital. (Quick aside to say the hospital is the worst place in the world to be if you’re sick. You don’t get any rest. If you do manage to fall asleep, they wake you up to check your vitals! After a week in the hospital, I was exhausted!!!)

“Do you have your appendix?” they asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“We can’t find it on the imaging, but it’s probably behind your inflamed intestine.”

Fast forward: It wasn’t.

I spent a week in the hospital. Then I spent a little over a week getting outpatient antibiotic infusions each day. Then another week of oral antibiotics.

Now, the docs are in a debate: Did an underlying problem cause my appendix to perforate and leak into my gut? Or did my perforated appendix cause the inflammation in my intestines?

Again, my answer: Does it matter?

Of course not. As long as they eventually figure it out. So, I have my next test, which examines the underlying problem question, on Monday. Once that’s done and the results are back, the surgeon will remove the piece of appendix that remains.

Was all this handed to me to test my commitment to running a half marathon?

If so, well, I think I’m going to throw in the towel on that goal anyways. The only reason I picked that goal was, well, first… to have a goal. I like to be working toward something throughout the year. But, second, it was to do something with Cooper that he really, truly loves. What does Cooper really, truly love? Running.

But here’s where it all comes full circle: I think something’s up with Cooper’s back knees or hips. I’m not sure I would’ve noticed it without this forced hiatus because, here’s the thing about Cooper: He pushes through ANYTHING in order to run.

Seriously. The boy will overheat unless I force him to stop. He’ll go until he drops unless I monitor him and our progress carefully. He gets so single-minded that I have to be super vigilant.

Could these weeks of no running have allowed this problem to float to the surface? Maybe.

Could it be that he’s felt pain all along and just didn’t show it? Maybe.

Could it be that my forced stillness for long periods of time, something I avoid as a restless person, allowed me the opportunity to watch, to really see his gait? Maybe.

Yet again: It doesn’t matter.

I changed his joint supplement. We first tried Glycoflex, which had always worked for Emmett. It made Coop puke. #ofcourse

Now he’s on DGP, which worked wonders for Lucas. We just started so I can’t report progress yet, but if it works, I think combined with his new CBD regimen, we’ll get back on track.

Who knows? Maybe if this hadn’t happened, Coop and I would’ve pushed too hard for his joints or hips. You can never know what might’ve happened, but in a weird way, I guess this is the silver lining of my perforated appendix: I spotted and am now treating his joint pain.

His pain is clearly something he can handle, whether it’s a test, a gift of the universe, or a fluke. My appendix, same thing.

But it doesn’t matter what’s what. All that matters is that we put our heads down, stay focused, and heal. Even if that means letting go of a goal set at the beginning of the year.

We are really, truly doing our very best.

New goal: Swimming with Cooper? Insert chin-scratch-thinking emoji here.

(I did get him this, but we never opened our pool last year. Maybe this is his year!)

Anyway, so. Yeah. That’s how I spent my summer vacation! How’s yours?

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