My Husband's Tough Mudder

On June 11th, 2016 my husband completed his third tough mudder. This was the first tough mudder that I actually attended. I wasn't sure how my anxiety would handle the crowds, excitement, and stress for the event. But I wanted to at least try to watch.

Before the race. One of our friends from Dallas flew out to join him.
The event was held outside of Tahoe at an elevation of 6,800 ft. I'm still learning about how elevation affects my adrenal insufficiency. I moved from Dallas (elevation of 430 ft) to Reno (elevation of 4,500 ft). This event was held at an elevation another 2,000 ft higher.

They started off the course with a sprint uphill.
The entire route had 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

This is considered one of the more difficult tough mudder courses. The race starts out with a steep uphill climb. I watched them start and then decided to strike up a conversation with the EMT's located nearby at the finish line. I showed them my medical alert bracelet that still reads "Give drugs or watch die." I showed them my emergency injection kit. I asked if they saw me in trouble, would they know how to treat me? They said that while they do not carry solu-cortef, they do carry solu-medrol. That drug works just as well in stopping an adrenal crisis.

I also told them that if I start to crash towards an adrenal crisis, it might look like I am a drug addict going through withdrawals. I pleaded with them to not label me as a drug addict because if I am assigned that label, I no longer am viewed as human in their eyes. I have experienced that phenomena more times than I like to remember.

They were very encouraging. They told me that they don't encounter the same issues as the larger cities. When they see someone struggling (especially with a clearly labeled medical alert bracelet), they do not instantly assume "drug addict." They enjoyed the wording on my bracelet. They appreciated the organization of my injection kit. They assured me that they could treat me in an emergency.

I purposefully went up to talk to those EMT's. My Nightmare of an adrenal crisis that happened in 2013 gave me PTSD. During that crisis, my brain latched onto the thought that all emergency medical personal can easily kill me due to their ignorance. That thought process is not helpful.

I need to replace those negative harmful thoughts with more positive ones. Any opportunity I have to go up and casually speak with EMT's, I force myself to take it. I need to hear them say "Yes. I can treat you. Yes. I will treat you. Yes. I will keep you Clearly Alive."

The guys after their ice bath, with our friend showing off his bloody elbow.
I watched my husband and friend complete a couple of the obstacles. At one point, I even jogged along side of them on the course. I met back up with them at the finish line. I enjoyed the event and was thankful I had attended.

After they finished. It took them about 4 hours to make it through the course.
Note the leveled up headbands. That's a thing with tough mudders.
During the hour drive home, I started not feeling well. I took more oral Cortef, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. I had a horrible migraine that was only getting worse. I slept through the celebratory steak dinner and ended up vomiting later that night.

I felt pathetic.

I was wearing my "No Limits" shirt and yet, here I was, this diseased girl, hunched over the toilet, unable to move. This is my life?

I begged my husband to make an ER run for fluids, but he forced me to self-treat at home through salt pills and additional cortisol (and after the ER charge nurse hung up on my husband after he started inappropriately yelling and cussing at them over normal triage procedures). I was hit with dehydration mixed with altitude sickness. I spent over five hours in the sun at an elevation of 6,800 ft. I did not drink nearly enough fluids, nor did I increase my steroid dose. 

I was both frustrated and discouraged. I had miscalculated how fast I dehydrate at altitude. I have very limited exposure to living at altitude and I am still learning how it affects me and my adrenal insufficiency.

The following day I rested. I remained on almost a triple dose of my cortisol and I missed the opportunity to say goodbye to my friend before he headed back to Texas.

I solidified three very important lessons through this experience:
  1. I cannot underestimate the effect of altitude on my body. I am very susceptible to altitude sickness.
  2. I must be incredibly pro-active about hydration. I dehydrate rapidly due to my salt wasting.
  3. I should have gone to the ER for IV fluids, but I was held captive by my abuser, also known as my ex-husband.
I am still adjusting to living in this new area of the country. With this new area come new experiences and new lessons. I shall hold onto the good, and learn from the bad.

The puppy and I recently on an adventure at Lake Tahoe.
Elevation 6,300' and I did not get sick! I'm learning!

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