Apr 17, 2017

Getting Away

This was the test weekend - would the eye survive a camping trip and some real riding? Better to find out sooner then later. After last week's return on an eaiser ride in Pueblo, I was a little nervous about the trip. What would happen if it flared again? As discussed, I was using the two drops per day, and my vision was clearing up - even with some riding outside on trails. It was still fuzzy, like I was trying to read without my glasses, but even worse. I'm sure that what people who need glasses for regular vision deal with on a daily basis!

I also wanted to get away from Colorado Springs. Maybe a little bad of me - after all, I had athletes running in the Rattler Trail and should have gone to support them. But after pulling out of the 25k, with still having really strong fitness and no real "injury" I didn't want to hang around and start feeling sorry for myself. I love running and Palmer Park is one of my faviorite places to run. To miss the Rattler 25k was really hard for me since it's also a great course with a great group of people. Getting out of town and off social media for a while would be the best medicine for missing the event. At least that's what the hope was...
Bikes and sunsets - two of my favorite things.
The goal was a few easy, fun rides down at Oil Well Flats outside Canon City. I got off work early, did my workout and off we went - leaving just early enough to get to get down and get set up before dark. Then it was just hang out around the fire! And what a fire it was - Nick brought down some of the wood from the tree branch he'd sawed up. One of the logs just happened to be hollow, which provided much entertainment as it turned into a volcano after just a few minutes of burning. I missed most of the party - I was tired and decided to go to bed just as things were heating up.
I didn't get the demonic shot like Amy did - but the hollow log was a hit!
The real test would be Saturday. While the pace wasn't planned to be hard - there's nothing smooth about Oil Well. That's part of the fun and the challenge. Even better, we were camped right off Anticline, right at the start of the super fun section. We had five people and two dogs, ready for some trail action. On the first loop I took a mix of A and B lines - hitting some of the bigger drops and rolling around some of the other ones. I could tell I hadn't been riding outside in a bit - I was a little hesitant on some of the ledgy climbs. More so then usual. But the vision was fine. No loss of acuity while we were riding, just the blurry from the dilation in the bright sun. Ugh - bright sun was the worst. I've never been a visor person on my helmets, but I was super happy to have one on my new helmet. We did a short loop, then headed back to camp to collect the rest of the group. And chill for a bit. The second loop would come a little later. Some of the same trails, some different ones and a little easier pace. No dogs this time around either - they were all getting worn out for another long ride. The trails were surprisingly quiet for a nice Saturday, but since the front range was also nice most riders weren't going to make the drive. Which was fine by us!
Waiting for the sun to warm things up before riding
After an afternoon seista for both humans and dogs, it was time for a sunset lap. Without the bright glare of the sun, my vision was a little better. At least it didn't feel like the sun was drilling a hole into the back of  my head! I think I'm gonna need a little darker glasses...

These feet look like a great spot for a snooze..

Sunday morning, the rest of the gang packed up and headed out. Nick and I were going to do one more ride, this time really looking for the rocky, jarry trails - aka Island in the Sky. I will admit to not being a huge fan of that trail on a normal day, but I really wasn't liking it then. I just wasn't ready for that kind of bumpy after avoiding all rocks for nearly a week. But as a test trail to see what would happen with real riding under real conditions, it served it's purpose. And no issues. Other then not feeling smooth and being able to flow over the trail like I normally do! The eye stayed clear the entire time, even with the rocky trails and trying to ride as normally as possible. We rode most of the trails in the park during that ride, and while I shied away from some of the things I would have done, I didn't take it too easy. The eye was fine - at least as fine as it can be right now.

Apr 13, 2017

Current status - frustrated

Sometimes, it doesn't matter how well you behave. Things just don't work the way they are supposed to and what was hoped to be a minor inconvenience becomes a major issue. That seems to be the case with my eye right now. After resuming the atropine with the second flare, taking my bike workouts inside and eliminating my running it was supposed to get better. Supposed to is the key phrase. It did get better, with vision returning to 20/25 and clear. We discussed - briefly - using the atropine drops on days where I have big rides or events planned as a management strategy. But he wanted me off the drops to see what happens with outside activity and no running. Hard road ride on my hardtail - no issues. Easy trail ride just dinking around Stratton - no issues. So we made plans to head to Pueblo to ride. I would ride the pedally miles of inner-outer limits with Amber while Nick and Todd played in the canyons. I debated doing one drop prior to leaving, but ended up not. After all, there's nothing to bumpy in Pueblo, right?

Well, hindsite really is 20/20. Perhaps I should have tapered the atropine a bit - instead of just stopping, dropping down to one drop a day. Perhaps I should have done the drop before leaving. Who knows. It's impossible to say. But about half way through the ride, I started noticing an increase in black specks in my vision and increased fuzziness. Just like the last two times... Argh!! Restarted the atropine as soon as I got home and then rode inside Sunday. It didn't get as bad as the first two times, but it was still enough to affect quality of vision and visual acuity.

After my (hopefully) final follow up with the retina doc, it's pretty clear. I may need to use the atropine long term to manage the issue. There's nothing wrong with the retina, so he's signing off. Now it's down to the eye docs to figure out how to best manage this so I can continue with my lifestyle and activities. Simply saying well don't mountain bike or run isn't an option. I can't have this return every time I try to ride a little more challenging trails. If that means long term atropine use, then that's what we will do. Unless I get an increase in the intraocular pressure, there shouldn't be an issue with using the drops long term. Other then having Halloween eyes and maybe needing darker sunglasses....



Apr 7, 2017

Eye Updates

Well, mixed news on the eyeball front. The bleeding inside the eye has resolved and my vision is clear again - clear but not focused due to the effects of the atropine drops. The pupil is still dilated, so it's really not focused and the bright lights are rather annoying. That's the good news. The bad news is that I still have to avoid jarring activities for another two weeks or so. Any running is out till almost the end of the month, meaning a complete shake up of my race schedule. I can start riding outside as long as it's easy trails - nothing crazy like Templeton Trail! More like Jacks, High Drive and such. The techy, rocky trails will come later - next week some time. But it's a start - and hopefully if I behave, it will be the end of this.

Now that the eye doctor was able to see into my eye, he was pretty confident that it was just a blood vessel bursting initially and then re-opening when I started running again. He did say that the iris in my left eye was a little wobbly - more then you would normally see in someone my age. That means it might be more then a blood vessel issues - but I will deal with that if it happens. As for now, I've got some ways to manage the vision deficits if it happens again with the same presentation. Fuzzy vision with loss of clarity but good light perception and complete visual field? That's fine - I can manage that and don't need to panic. A different presentation or an increase in pain or loss of visual field? Then I need to be worried. Hopefully, it won't come to that.



Mar 30, 2017

Setbacks

I had the follow up with the retina doctor on the 24th - good news initially. The bleeding in my eye had resolved, there was nothing wrong with my retina and it was time to get back to life. Stop the atropine drops and resume my normal activities. I think he may have forgotten how crazy some of my normal activities were though...

I planned on easing back into things, did an easy four mile run that day and then a five mile run Saturday. Two short mountain bike rides over the weekend on very non-techy trails and things seemed good. Sunday night had no issues and I could still see just fine. Monday morning, woke up, went for a little longer run and noticed the fuzziness was back. Exact same presentation as before - lots of small black floaters and gradually reducing visual acuity. Crap, crap, crap. With calls placed to the triage desks of both the eye and the retina docs, I went to work and pretended everything was fine. But I knew something was going on again. Finally got some appointments scheduled - one with the retina doc and one with the eye doc. Maybe this time we could actually figure out what was going on and causing me to lose my vision in my left eye.

Retina doc - well, it started bleeding again, but the pressure isn't as high as it was last time. Retina is still intact, so bleeding had to be coming from the lens chafing against the iris. Resume atropine and go see eye doc bright and early. Grr... with my luck, the lens had shifted in the capsule and would need to be removed and replaced. Bright and early was right - my appointment was at a time reserved for the "blue hairs!" Got there, settled in and waited. Pressure way done from even the day before! So that was good - the blood in my eye was draining this time. The eye doc was able to look at the capsule and identified the incision from the cataract surgery way back in 2005. And he wasn't as worried about the lens shifting since he could see the capsule and it looked good. His opinion? While there is always the possibility that the lens has shifted and is rubbing against the iris, it didn't seem as likely. Chances are the blood vessel that started bleeding back on the 15th had clotted up, but the scab had jarred loose when I started running again. Hence the return of the fuzziness and black speckled floaters. At least that is the hope! If that's the case, then I just need let it fully heal.

But there in lies the issue - the jarring of running is what we think caused the re-occurrence. So no running for at least another week, if not two. I can ride as long as I avoid jarring - so staying on the easy trails and avoiding the rocks. No intensity restrictions this time around, so my workouts on the bike are still a go. It's just the running. One week without running puts it at April 5th - two weeks the 12th. The Rattler Trail Race 25k is on the 15th - there's no way I'll be able to race. More hopefully, but still unlikely is the Cheyenne Mountain Trail Race 25k at the end of April. I've already had a week and a half with minimal running and haven't gotten a single long run done since the beginning of March. Palmer Park is technical running with lots of jarring. I have to be smart and do what is best for my vision. If that means I have to skip all the running races I signed up for so far this year, that's what I'm going to do. Hopefully I'll get an all clear to start short, easy runs at my next follow up in a week. Even then, key words are short and easy. I'd rather be able to ride my bike hard on chunky trails this year so giving up some running will be a small price to pay!

Mar 23, 2017

Behaving

Eyes are hard. Once the vision started coming back in my left eye, it's been a challenging week. I still have restrictions on what I can do and how hard I can do it. No running, no lifting, no mountain biking. Walking and trainer rides - as long as I keep the HR down and don't get crazy doing things. But nothing "feels" wrong - there's no pain like with an injury that would limit mobility - just a little photophobia and now resolved cloudiness in my left eye. That has made behaving even harder - since nothing really seems wrong. I should be able to get out, hit the single track and get some solid workouts done. I should be at work, doing something useful. But I'm not - I've been at home, doing my best to stay busy within the limits of what I am allowed to do.

Trainer workouts - but keeping the HR under 130 so I don't stress the eye too much. Walking to and from the library, and around the neighborhood. Doing easy chores around the house - like scrubbing bathrooms and decluttering. No lifiting heavy things around the house, so I haven't done anything like vacuuming. Even that doesn't take up that much time - so I finally made new pillow cases for the throw pillows in the living room. Yes - it's been a long, boring week - made worse by the nice weather outside. Somehow, being stuck doing trainer rides doesn't seem as bad when it's cold, blustery and icy outside. The motivation to head outside for an easy run is also minimal when the weather is snowy and nasty. This week has been awesome. Sunny, warm and perfect for lots of big hours on the bike and on foot. But I've been behaving - hiding in the basement, heading out for a few easy strolls. Have I mentioned that I hate walking?

I think the hardest part about this has been missing the Run Through Time Half Marathon last weekend. There was a great weekend planned with running, Boathouse Cantina, and then mountain biking the S-Mountain trails. I knew when I was sent to the Retina Consulitants that the chances I would be able to race would be minimal. After all, if something is causing me to lose the vision in one eye, I need to behave. One race is less important then my vision at this time. So I stayed home, trying to stay away from the photos on Facebook. Hard to do when nearly all my running friends were partipating in either the half or the full marathon! I pick my races carefully so I'm ready to perform at a solid level, so missing one race is hard mentally. I know that the season isn't shot just with one missed race and one more easy week. I'll probably come back from this even stronger due to the forced recovery. That is the hope anyway.

Tomorrow morning is the follow up visit. The vision in my left eye is back to normal, with the exception of the photophobia from the eye drops. I'm hopeful I'll get cleared to return to full activity - or at a minimal be able to run and ride outside! But I also need to ask a few questions. Like - what caused this and how can I prevent it from happening again? What should I do if it does happen again and how should I manage it if it does? What are the long there complications I need to be aware of and what is the risk to my vision? Lots of questions... And I know I've had this conversation with the doctor, but this is an new issue - so the conversation will be warranted once again.