On March 29th, 2014 I was on a high coming off a solid year of racing in 2013 and an AG win at Ironman 70.3 Panama. The race started and the swim was brutal - another guy and I were trading blows when I was trying to get around the first couple of bouys.
Then 15 miles into the bike, once my heart rate really started getting up there, I vomited. At the time, I didn't think anything of it but it meant I had no nutrition in me. I finished in a decent 3rd place in AG but the last lap of the run felt good but I felt like something was off.
About 2 weeks later, I went to my doctor with issues breathing - he did no X-rays or anything and just gave me an inhaler.
Fast forward to April 26th, I was out riding and I felt like someone was stabbing me through the ribs: I couldn't breathe. I tried calling my wife, but she was out training too. So, I rode slowly home.
When I got home, I showered up and collapsed on the couch and we tried everything we could think of to get me comfortable - ice, heat, pain meds, etc... After about 2 hours I had a sudden breathing spasm, I couldn't breathe and had tremendous pain in my left arm.
We live about a mile from a hospital and urgent care, and I started listing my symptoms to my wife... left chest pain, cannot breath, left arm pain... Skreetch... she made a sharp turn into the ER. The ER had me in the back hooked up to an EKG in less than 5 minutes.
Luckily, or so we thought, it wasn't a heart attack but a severe case of pneumonia and pleurisy. Pleurisy?? It's where fluid builds up between your lung and rib cage, and it's extremely painful. They put me on antibiotics, ordered a bit of rest and sent me home with an order for an X-ray for 10 days later.
10 days later I was feeling pretty good, but my primary care doctor refused to do a follow-up X-ray.
2 weeks later, while out riding Double Peak with Lesley, I was hit by a car AGAIN. Their passenger side mirror split open my forearm and I needed 8 stitches.
10 days later, I went back to my doctor to get the stitches out and I tell him I am still feeling bad with the breathing and the painin my rib cage is back. He FINALLY orders an X-ray only to find out my lung is full of fluid still! He sends me to the ER and says he'll call ahead orders... which he didn't. So, we spent 8 hours in the ER to only get an MRI and be sent home to await a call from a pulminologist to drain my lung.
The next morning I get an early call from Dr. Kavy - who is great - and rush straight to his office from my workout. He shows us the MRI and we can see that my left lung is compressed to less than 40 to 50% it's normal size. He then drained TWO LITERS of fluid from my pleural cavity.
All my tests come back inconclusive, and my wife heads off to India for a business trip. At the end of her 2 week trip, I start feeling crappy; I cancel racing Boulder, and the wife flew home early on Friday.
By the following Wednesday, I am in tremendous pain again and struggling to breathe. At this point the wife is fed-up with the previous doctor, and calls and begs Dr. Kavy's office to see me. Luckily, they do. They say the fluid is back, that they need to do surgery, and that my race season was over - and that they are more concerned about my life than my racing.
Surgery happens 36 hours later (they had a heart transplant ahead of me). Dr. Chammas is an amazing, caring and skilled surgeon who really did a great job. When he first got into my lung with the laproscope, he thought I had cancer it looked so bad - but then he cut out the part of the lung... and it was just a terrible abscess on my lower lung and diaphragm. The tissue was so infected and dead it looked like cancer.
I stayed another 5 days in the hospital with a chest tube, and cancel Ironman Muncie 70.3... but the wife refused to cancel the plane tickets and hotel reservation for Worlds. Why?
"If anyone can do this, it's you..."
ROAD BACK TO RACING: THE LUNG SURGERY
March 29, 2014
April 26, 2014
Diagnosed with Pnuemonia and Pleurisy
May 20, 2014
Hit by a car... again
May 30, 2014
2 liters of fluid drained from lung
June 19, 2014
Admitted to hospital for Surgery
June 21, 2014
June 24, 2014
Discharged from hospital
July 14, 2014
Back to training
September 7, 2014
Win AG World Championship for