I am starting to feel like Waldo. If I didn't know better, I'd think there were search parties out looking for me at this moment. You see, for the past five weeks I haven't left the house much while recovering from respiratory issues which eventually lead to pneumonia. Aside from making me stir crazy, I haven't seen many people or had anything post-worthy for social media. That's resulted in my fielding a fair number of "where have you been" messages.
If you caught my last post from early December, you might remember me discussing my health issues up to that point. At the time I thought I was near the end of dealing with them. Little did I know that I was only midway through.
I now know that I've been suffering from Valley Fever. Not familiar with Valley Fever? It's a fungal infection spread by spores in the soil in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas that takes hold in the lungs. How did I contract it? I have no idea other than I breathed in the spores -- most likely early in November during my last trip to Arizona.
Over the next few weeks I bounced back and forth between feeling fine and having a sinus infection and flu symptoms. Unknowingly at the time, I attempted my last two rides in Arizona while dealing with the early stage pneumonia. I didn't understand the severity of what was going on in my body and I was trying to cram in one last weekend of pedaling before returning home to less hospitable weather. I had felt healthy for four days and assumed I was past whatever had been ailing me. I quickly discovered otherwise.
Once I got back to Colorado I was initially treated for a bacterial infection. Over the next couple weeks I experienced a host of seemingly unrelated and odd symptoms: a swollen ankle and severe plantar fasciitis that made it challenging to walk to the bathroom, and a skin reaction that required a late-night visit to the emergency room. At the recommendations from a few friends in Arizona, I convinced my doctor to test for Valley Fever. The chest x-ray showed that my pneumonia had lessened and was at that time concentrated in the upper lobe of my right lung. According to my doc, Valley Fever typically causes pneumonia to be more diffuse, whereas mine looked isolated to one area. As a result, I continued my second course of antibiotics.
One of these is not like the other
It wasn't until the following week, when I received a call from my doctor on Christmas Eve, that the blood test for Valley Fever came back positive. Out went the antibiotics and I immediately started anti-fungal medication to address the infection. Thankfully I started feeling better quickly.
After a week of being on the upswing I became brave enough to attempt light bodyweight exercises to begin recovering from all the bed rest and general inactivity (my thighs had atrophied to the point they looked like someone else's legs). Once I completed a few of these sessions, I cautiously progressed to weighted strength work a couple times a week. Last week I included a couple of very easy and short roller sessions.
Infrared therapy to speed recovery
My body and the weather cooperated enough this past Saturday for my first actual bicycle ride in five weeks. A simple two-hour easy-endurance pace ride kicked my butt! Ninety minutes in and I was ready to be done. I'm living proof that de-training does in fact occur. Regardless, I was incredibly happy and thankful afterward despite the fatigue. I was riding again!
I plan to take full advantage of the quick early gains as I ease back into a semi-regular training schedule. The only race I'm registered for is the Iron Horse Classic and that's nearly six months away, so I'm in no rush. If I feel on track I may attempt The Whiskey 50, as I've yet to put together a solid performance there. The Chino Grinder is the following weekend and could make for a nice block of racing in Northern Arizona.
In the meantime I'll continue my strength training to regain muscle mass and gradually increase my riding volume. I hope to also start getting out for backcountry skiing soon as well. It's winter in Colorado and I may as well take advantage of it.
I hope your holidays were a bit more traditional than mine!