July 06, 2015

it's a marathon (not a sprint)

You know the quote that says "it's not a sprint, it's a marathon"? I always took that literally, thinking it only applied to actually running a marathon. In case you didn't realize, I was wrong.

When you run 5 miles, you tend to go for it. To the experienced runner (ie: not me), five miles is a walk in the park. When you run a marathon (or as my NYC roommate would say, "26 f--king miles"), you pace yourself. 26 miles is a long haul. If you run at the pace you would for a 2 mile run or a 5 mile run, you'd burn out pretty quickly and I'm no runner but I'm pretty sure that would suck. 

Back in February, I found a lump. It was in my neck and it was a solid lump. Now I know enough about my body to know it was a lymph node that was inflamed. I discovered it one morning and didn't think too much of it, and mentioned it in passing to my staff mate Brent while we were walking back from duty check-in one night. He assured me that I was probably just getting sick and my lymph nodes were flaring up to protect my body. And I was fine with that answer and left it at that. And I waited to get sick. And waited. And I never got sick. 

I didn't think too much of it though: I was super busy and it was smack dab in the middle of the school year. Once spring break came around and I had free time, the WebMD-ing started and I called home in tears. 

One of the hardest parts of going to school in a different country is not being home for the big stuff: weddings, funerals, and everything in between. Luckily, I was going home the week after SB for my sister's engagement party, so I didn't have to wait too long to see my doctors and figure out once and for all what was going on. I flew in on a Thursday, saw my doctor within a couple hours and was in the hospital running blood tests and an ultrasound only a few hours later. Now if you ask anyone who knows me, I hate being sick: I hate doctor's appointments, I hate blood tests and needles and I hate medication. So my willingness to do these things showed how confused I was. My doctor (who happens to be my aunt) wasn't too concerned with the lump, just, like me, confused at why it was there. 

We found nothing. So we treated it with antibiotics. Now to make a long story short: it didn't help. Several months, several doctors in my college town, and wayyyy too many doctors visits, needles and scans and tests later, we were back where we started: we weren't too concerned but we weren't exactly sure what was going on. During a particularly stressful time in school and life, and while struggling with a bout of homesickness, one of the doctors I saw threw out a word I never wanted to hear. Not sure if you know it, it starts with a C. He didn't know anything for sure but he wanted me to be aware that it may take a turn for the worse. I left his office in tears. Thankfully it didn't. 

When people ask me how this semester was, the only answer I can think of is draining. This semester ran me down and proved to be the hardest semester for me thus far (which is shocking after the semester I had in the fall!). So I was overjoyed once May came around and I packed my bags to go home - a decision I figured was the right one with the way my doctors and I had left my health issues: up in the air. I came home, ran even more tests and was given a clean bill of health. Miraculously, all of the nodes that were inflamed (there were several at this point) had gone down to a normal size and I was set for the summer! 

But my body wasn't having that: a couple weeks later, a few weeks ago, more popped up and they were larger and more aggressive than the last and it was time to do something. 

I had surgery last week to remove and run some tests. And while I was very weak and scared, I know it was the right choice. And now, I wait. This week was a really frustrating and painful one, especially as my surgeon told me that running tests might not even give us an answer as to why all of this was happening, but I endured, sucked it up, and hypothetically put on my marathon shoes.

I don't like to be out of my comfort zone often: that's why I moved to New York or made my 101 in 1001 list, to challenge myself. I was looking for the perfect challenge with Maggie, my freshman roommate and one of the only people from school that I confided in during the health debacle, and we found a half marathon in her hometown, only 20 minutes from our campus. It's beautiful, along the Connecticut coastline and it's three months away. 

The aunt who's also my doctor is ALSO a marathon runner (I know, she's remarkable!) and her determination towards everything she does inspired me to attempt to do the same. I'm not a runner. I've never been and I probably never will be. But I'm determined to do this for myself. I'm not trying to compete, I'm trying to complete, no matter how long it takes me. 

In life, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. This refers to your health, any friendship or relationship, running a race, everything. The focus should be on getting and doing better regardless of how long it takes. It's taken me six months, but I'm finally here and I'm on my way to getting better. 

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  1. I'm SO glad you got the clean bill of health. It's a scary thing - the C word, but hopefully that's the last you'll hear of it! Again, glad you're healthy!

  2. You've come a long way and I am glad you are on the road to recovery. I hope things from here on out go smoothly for you.
    I also love the idea of Marathon Monday -- so inspiring.
    No matter if the journey is big or small, it totally counts and makes an impact on your life.
    Thanks for being so raw with us about your experience.

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  3. Ah that's so scary! This is such an inspiring and intensely personal post! Thanks so much for having the courage to share about this. I'm training for a half marathon and experienced a major major setback after twisting my ankle, so I'm looking forward to your marathon monday posts! It'll help me to stay on track :)

    Alessandra | blog.pumpup.com

  4. I am so glad to hear that you are doing better! You're brave to blog about it. I am training for a 5k, then a 10k, then we'll see! I'm looking forward to reading your posts as I train as well :)


  5. I am so glad you are getting better! I definitely agree with the quote about life. This really put life in perspective.

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

  6. So wonderful that you are doing better. Such a scary thing to happen to your body, especially being away from all your close friends and family!

  7. Wow thank you for sharing this. I am so glad you're okay! I wish you all the best from here on forward.

    xo // www.thematerialgirl.co

  8. That is such a scary thing and I am so glad that you have a clean bill of health! No matter how hard things like this are when you are going through them, they make you SO much stronger having gone through them..

    Marie H.
    Progression By Design

  9. Your experience sounds so terrifying and I'm so impressed by the strength you've shown through everything! I hope that you are able to get some answers and find peace. Good luck with your training!


  10. Oh goodness! Thank you for sharing your journey. You're such a brave woman, Caroline! I'm so happy you got a clean bill of health and I'm really looking forward to this new series. Here's to a healthy and fun summer for you!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  11. Wow-thank you for opening up and sharing your story Caroline. I can't even imagine how stressed and scared and deflated you must have felt the past few months. You are in my thoughts and prayers girl, I really mean it!

  12. I practically lived in the hospital my senior year of high school. It truly is terrifying not knowing what is going on with your body. Glad to hear you are doing better!

  13. This was a really beautiful post and I love how you tied that saying into it. I'm so happy everything is okay. I know how scary it is not knowing what could be going on... it's happened to me and one time they messed up my tests and told me I had a blood clot in my lungs. I was the scariest ten minutes of my life!

    So proud of you for sharing this.
    The Fashionista's Diary

  14. Oh sweet girl! What a scary year! I am so sorry you had to deal with this whole ordeal! Thank you for sharing this though....you are so brave! Sending lots of positive thoughts and prayers your way!!!

    xo Ashley

  15. That is such a scary thing to go through but thank goodness you're okay! You're so strong and inspiring and I can't thank you enough for sharing this personal story with us. Onward and upwards, yeah? Much love girl! x

  16. So happy to hear you are on the upside of all this but thank you so much for sharing. I think its very therapeutic and good for the soul to let it all out and open yourself up!

    How 2 Wear It [] http://how2wearit.com

  17. So glad you're on a healthy recovery! Such an inspiring post, you are very brave for sharing!

  18. This is so beautifully written. I'm so glad that you are feeling better!!!

  19. It's always so scary not knowing what's wrong... I would always rather know no matter how scary and get it over with! My sister has an autoimmune disease and it took 10 years of different doctors, panic attacks, weight gain, stomach pain, etc. before anyone figured it out. It was a stressful time -- now that the doctors know, it's easily treatable and manageable and her life has completely turned around! Thinking of you in your recovery and hoping that this is the end of it! You're incredibly strong and remember there's always a light at the end of the tunnel.

    x Sarah

  20. I saw the post about this on Instagram, I'm so sorry that this is happening to you, but I'm very glad your getting better! You are such an inspiration, stay strong!

    xx | Steph @ The Lovely Essentials & Jenssen's Designs

  21. So glad that you are doing better, Caroline! I have been praying for a swift recovery. Hope everything is healing up nicely :) ALWAYS here if you need anything!

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  22. Wow, Caro. This hits home. First of all, brilliant quote, and so so so SO true in life and beyond (definitely not just in 26 f****** miles). Second, one of my absolute best friends is going through a similar thing currently, where she's going back and forth for blood tests with the C word being tossed around. It's so draining and difficult, but know that everything happens for a reason. If you don't see the reason now, it'll be revealed at a later time, and something will hopefully start to make sense! Sending awesome vibes and wishes your way <3

    Coming Up Roses

  23. I am SO glad that you're doing well and are on the road to recovery. Sending good vibes your way.

    Alex ♥ | GlitzGlitterGlamoure

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