When Setbacks…Set You Back



Oh hello, it’s me.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t written about running in a while…it’s because I haven’t done much of it.

Back in July, I was “diagnosed” with strep. (The urgent care doctor did a strep culture but said my throat looked like it was definitely strep but the culture ultimately came back negative.) Round 1 of antibiotics.

A few weeks later, I have such terrible sinus pressure that leaning over to get something out of my bag hurts, and I spend the good portion of a week in my apartment and miss a long-planned trip to Vancouver. Round 2 of antibiotics.

After that round, I call BS. I am a relatively healthy person, so why the eff do I keep getting sick, specifically in one area of my body? I asked my doctor, she says “bad luck,” and I refuse to take that for an answer and find myself an ENT. He prescribes two nose sprays and an antacid because he says he sees chronic inflammation in my throat sinuses via a CT scan.

I feel better with this for…about a week, and that dull sinus pressure returns. Round 3 of antibiotics. It alleviates the pressure/pain enough, but now, two weeks later, I’m left with a weakened sense of smell, an awful metallic taste in my mouth, slightly short of breath/tight chest and mildly nauseous basically at all times (related to the metallic taste, I think.)

Just a gratuitous llama…

I am annoyed by this through my daily life, but I can cope. Running? It’s been nearly impossible, and many other activities have been difficult, too. (Weird, when breathing sucks and you’re low-level nauseous a lot.)

So I didn’t want to blog about how my workouts have been completely inconsistent. I’m trying to work out…as much as I can, but it’s pretty miserable. The last long run I did was 8 miles a few weeks ago and it was so awful. I’m probably not going to run Richmond.

But a buddy reminded me that healthy living isn’t all about running and eating healthy. (Which is great, because I’m doing neither right now. Half kidding.) It’s about trying to find a balance. And right now, I’m trusting my gut and trying to get to the bottom of why my sinuses are miserable jerks. Tomorrow: second ENT. First one wanted to put me on round 4 of antibiotics and I called uncle.

My mom had cancer this year. Two of my close friends have had three types of cancer between the two of them. I have perspective, and this isn’t that bad, or bad at all. But it’s annoying and keeping me from doing what I enjoy (eating and running), so I will get to the bottom of it.

Will I run my marathon and other races I’d hope to run this fall? Maybe not. But I’ll figure this annoying crap out and the rest of my health is a-ok. (Any sinus tips welcome.)

I also need to make a super random product rec: this acne stuff is magic. Because I’m also breaking out like I’m 12.

So now you know what’s up, and I can move on/back to some happier/more fun content.


28 comments on “When Setbacks…Set You Back

  1. Tracy Schwartz

    Hope you get to the bottom of things soon. And you start to feel better.

    Balance is key and I lately have been working on that as well as trusting my guy. Also finally feeling happy in life even with obstacles!

    Random: who do you want to see win the Open? Men & Women?

  2. Jackie

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having such a tough time! I can get pretty bummed when I can’t exercise regularly, and cold and sinus issues mess with exercise and running like nothing else. A few years ago, I was going through something slightly similar (definitely not as severe as what you described however) in which I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and put on medication, only to get slightly better and then very sick all over again. My doctor tried a few medications before referring me to an ENT, who tried different medications. I went back to my regular doctor and happened to see someone else on call, and asked why wasn’t I getting better, it had been months?! She explained to me that “boomerang” infections can occur pretty regularly when dealing with sinus issues and sinus meds. She recommended plain, saline nasal spray (Ocean or generic) and said try spraying and rinsing your nose and sinuses AM and PM, and it took a few days, but I believe it worked! I’m now fanatic about using it the MINUTE I feel any kind of nasal/sinus/congestion/cold coming on, as well as after I fly, and I swear it has helped me ward off serious, prolonged illness since. It might be worth a shot! Hope it helps!

  3. Sarah

    You poor thing you have been through the ringer…prayers for healing…prayers for answers as I’m sure the not knowing just what is wrong is the worst! And you are right…health and wellness is really about the long road journey…keep making healthy choices as often as you can!

  4. Abby

    I’m glad you’re back, I was concerned. I’m really sorry you’ve been going through this, but it will pass. It really makes you appreciate the times when you’re feeling healthy. Take care.

  5. Beckett @ Birchwood Pie

    So sorry you’re going through this. Sounds like the summer from hell I went through about 10 years ago. Allergies==>sinus infection==>pneumonia==>sick for months on end. I second Jackie’s recommendation for nasal saline rinse. My doc gave me a NeilMed sinus rinse kit and everything finally got better.

  6. Megan

    Hi Theodora! I’ve been a long time reader and am sorry you’ve been struggling with these sinus issues ALL summer! I third Jackie’s recommendation on using a saline spray 2x/day – I use the Arm & Hammer Simply Saline or the generic version that just about every drugstore carries. For years, I would have at least 4-5 sinus infections a year and every since I started religiously using the saline (4 or 5 years now!), I might have 1 or 2 a year…usually after visiting with family/friends with little people. Good luck with your next ENT appointment and I hope the end of your summer turns around!

  7. Lisa

    Super random but is there a chance you are pregnant? Don’t mean to alarm you! But those are all symptoms I had when I was early in my pregnancy. For some reason my sinuses went haywire…just wanted to mention it.

  8. Casey

    My friend had crazy sinus issues and it ended up being her diet. She would go on a sort of cleanse diet with no wheat, dairy, sugars, nightshades, etc and it would clear it right up! So it could be wheat or dairy or some other allergy. Try an elimination or Immune Protocol diet for a few weeks?

  9. Shoshi

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling so awful and hope you’re able to continue keeping this perspective on finding a balance and prioritizing your health. I know it’s so hard to let go of running/anything you love to that capacity, so best wishes for a speedy recovery and keep your chin up. <3

  10. Kate

    Theodora, did they check you for mono yet? When I had back to back sinus infections (plus the nausea and extreme fatigue), that was immediately what my doctor thought. I didn’t end up having it, but it was definitely worth the test. Hang in there, nothing is more frustrating that undiagnosed lingering illnesses!

  11. Nikki

    I don’t comment very much, but I also wanted to say to ask about mono. I had mono in college and I had the same symptoms and it took forever to get a proper diagnosis. Good luck, I hope you start to feel better soon!

  12. Ash Diamond

    Life is DEFINITELY about balance and sure, maybe you’re not running 26.2 this Fall but you’re still doing an amazing job balancing all the shit that has been thrown your way and still keeping a positive perspective and outlook. I’m in awe of you on a daily basis! Now, let’s figure what the hell is going on with you and get you healthy again! 🙂

  13. Joan

    So I’m incredibly sorry you’re still sick, because that sucks, but I have to thank you for the acne stuff recommendation, because same here. I had fine skin in high school. Now I am a perpetual pockmarked disaster, for which I totally blame stress, hormones and all the other great things about being a 30-something human. So, thank you! My skin health (which is totally a valid kind of healthy-living thing, right?) is very grateful.

  14. Carrie

    My husband had similar issues and finally went to an allergist who did a nasal culture. After each round of antibiotics he had another culture to see if the bacteria was gone. He needed multiple rounds of antibiotics to knock out the bacteria. Now he has a “process” he follows daily to cut down on sinus issues. Not sure any of this info will help. Hope you are feeling better soon.

  15. Mary Beth Black

    Hey Theodora –
    I hate you hear you have been so sick. Definitely better though to take time off from running and get better. Have you ever been tested for allergies? I continuously had sinus infections until I got my allergies in check – I take 1 zyrtec every night and use Nascort nose spray. When I do start to feel something coming on I can most of the times nip it in the bud with a Maximum Strength Musinex D and saline spray or a neti pot. I hope you get some answers and relief soon.

  16. Heather Jeffrey

    Could you possibly tell me the name of the magic acne stuff? My office blocks shopstyle links (I guess they want us working instead of shopping :/) but I have been breaking out like a 12 year old and would LOVE the recommendation!

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      Working instead of shopping? That’s silly 🙂 Sure, it’s Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel. It is pretty strong though, so it can be pretty drying…but my skin has also been kinda crazy lately so it was much needed.


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