November 2008 Archives

Giving Thanks

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What better time to say thank you than Thanksgiving?! Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has already made a donation to the American Liver Foundation in support of my marathon run. Because of your generosity we've raised over $1,275 - a quarter of the way to my goal of $5,000!

If you haven't made a donation yet, you can do so very easily online at my Run for Research fundraising page. If you'd rather go the old fashioned paper route, you can send a check to me, made out to the American Liver Foundation and I'll forward it to the ALF offices. I'll forward checks at the end of every month.

Half Way There 1

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On Friday I ran my longest distance ever - 13.1 miles - a half marathon. And I did it in a pretty good time too - 2:09:39, an average pace of 9:52 per mile. If I can keep that up for another 13.1 miles I'll make my target time of under 4 1/2 hours. Omigod - I might be able to actually do this!

Running this type of distance so early isn't really that great an idea in terms of formal training. But it's definitely been a big psychological boost - I really needed to know if I could do it. Fortunately I've got time to really ratchet things this week before formal training starts in December. I'm not going to run much at all this week - just a couple of miles here and there and get some swimming, elliptical and weight work in at the gym.

Our first speed training with Community Running starts December 1, and our first group long run (8 miles) is on December 6. It will be interesting to see what happens when I scale back the running and change my running schedule.

It's Really Happening Now

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On Wednesday we had the newbie meeting for the 2009 Run for Research team. A few dozen of us got together for the first time to hear about running a marathon and liver disease. Amazingly I learned how much the two were objectively related.The liver is one of the body's primary storage containers for glycogen, and, through glycongenesis, it turns glycogen into glycose so it can be used by things like muscles when they're doing things like running a marathon. It would be impossible to run a marathon, or take part in any kind of endurance sport, if your liver wasn't in good working condition. Good thing mine is, eh?

How Did I Get Here - Running

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For those who've known me over the years, learning that I've become a runner and am training to run the Boston Marathon probably provides a much bigger Holy Shit Moment™ than learning that I survived hepatitis C. I did a decent amount of outdoor athletic activity in my teens and early twenties (skiing, hiking and canoeing), but nothing significant. In school I was always the last kid picked, and liked it that way. I satisfied my high-school athletic requirements by being a team manager or through intramural softball or volleyball. During my professional life I've been a member of many gyms and health clubs, but a regular visitor to few. Running? I've always hated running. Always.

But Francie loves running. She's been a runner for as long as I've known her, picking up the habit/hobby/avocation in college. She runs a few days a week, week in and week out, and becomes noticeably frustrated when she isn't able to get a run in at least once a week. My gosh, the other day she ran 6 miles on the treadmill in our basement, which is something I still can't comprehend. Sleet, snow, sub-zero wind chills I can deal with - staring at a wall, or, worse, Fox news on those damn overhead TVs in the gym for 6 stationary miles is closer to hell than I ever wish to get to.

So, a runner married to an anti-runner. Opposites attract, and all that. But, you see, I got this virus, and then I got rid of it. But I still had a wife I loved. And two daughters I loved. And 250 pounds of me I knew I didn't really need that much of. So, step 1, I knew I really had to do some kind of exercise. Regularly. And for the rest of my life.

I joined the gym and did the usual elliptical and bike stuff. It wasn't bad. OK, it sucked, but it was doable, and I really did begin to feel good doing it after a few weeks. Both physically and mentally. But it did suck.

Then Francie signed up to run the 111th Boston Marathon. A long-time dream for a long time runner - running the Boston Marathon. She got a number through the Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club in Dorchester. So what do I do? I promise to run the last five miles with her.

I managed to run a half mile one day. Then a mile on another. Then two. Three on Mondays and Wednesdays. Then the Friday Five. All at the lightening speed of 4 miles an hour - 15 minute miles. Meanwhile, Francie's running 10, 12, 14, 16, finally 21 mile long runs on weekends. In rain, sleet, snow and bitter cold in the middle of winter. All to run a foot race (and raise some money for a really good cause). And all of this at 9-10 minutes per mile.

Have I told you that I'm in awe of her? Well, I am.

But I had to break my promise. I only ran the last mile with her - the only distance I could keep up with her, even after she'd already run 25 miles. One mile, but I was hooked.

Today the Friday five is the Friday 10. How did that happen? Well, just like that. One mile at a time. One foot in front of the other. One day after another. Just like surviving liver disease, I guess.

How Did I Get Here - Hepatitis C

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I found out that I had hepatitis C in the summer of 2004. A routine blood test detected elevated liver enzymes - a sign of liver damage. The life insurance company then kindly ran additional tests that revealed the presence of the Hepatitis C antibody. Apparently there's only one reason the Hep-C antibody would float around in the bloodstream of someone that doesn't know they're infected with the hepatitis C virus: because they are infected with the hepatitis C virus.

But how did the virus get into me?

The most common cause of infection is purposely (in the case of drug use) or accidentally (in the case of health care workers) getting stuck by a needle previously used by someone who already has Hepatitis C. I've never used intravenous drugs, and have never worked in the health care profession, so that weren't it.

Other causes include: Sharing a razor, toothbrush or nail clipper with an infected person (not that I know of); Exposure to unclean tattooing or body-piercing instruments (nope - unless rub-on tattoos count); Unprotected anal sex or exposure to multiple sex partners (uh, no - and let's just leave it at that).

Oh, and before 1992 there was a risk of getting hepatitis C from blood transfusions.

So, this is where I should probably share a bit of my medical history. When I was young I was diagnosed with a blood deficiency called Hypogammaglobulinemia (trust me - it gets easier to say with practice). Basically I wasn't good at making gamma globulin, a basic blood component that helps you fight viruses. The common treatment was regular injections of gamma globulin to replace what what's missing and hopefully prod the body's immune system to start make its own (priming the pump, so to speak). The source of injectable gamma globulin is human blood provided by generous donors - human blood donations that weren't tested for the hepatitis C virus until 2002. I began getting gamma globulin injections in 1969. I received my last gamma globulin infusion in 1989. One of those thousands of CCs of gamma globulin came from someone infected with the hepatitis C virus.

If it weren't for that generous blood donor, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today - training to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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