My USMS Page:
Rockwall Aquatic Masters ("RAM")
I had my follow up at Hopkins and the news was not good. The extensive clot is still there and the axillary and subclavian veins have re-closed since the balloon venoplasty. I suspect the re-closing was what I perceived as a strain in the thoracic area a few weeks ago. Vein reconstruction surgery is not a good option because it would require a bypass with only a 50% or less chance of success. So I need to grow some collateral veins; I may already have some since my arm is not all that swollen. But there is some fear for my left side, which is showing some pre-thrombolytic symptoms.
I will have another ultrasound on both sides in 2 months. If the left side is showing more signs of damage than last time, I may have another first rib resection at that time. That surgery may have a better likelihood of success than the one in December if we avoid a clot. Or I could just use a conservative approach ... The downside of that is that I think I would have anxiety over getting another clot/ruining another vein. And I really couldn't swim without compressing the vein further. Streamlining is ultra compressive. And of course my sister had bilateral VTOS.
I have been in the water some. But just kicking with my arms at my side is not very inspiring. My dr said that I could start some swimming, but I am leery about my left arm. I have been on the treadmill regularly; did 14 miles the other day after the bad news. So I am going to put all thoughts of competing aside for now. I may pop into the pool to see friends from time to time. But I am basically retired right now. Maybe next year I can re-assess. Without the primary veins on the right side, it is unclear whether I could ever return to my previous form.
On a happier note, I have a trip to Paris and environs planned in April. And I had a really kick ass 2016 before the VTOS reared its ugly head in October. The Fina rankings have come out and, in the 55-59 age group, I ended up with:
50 back #1 (WR)
100 back #1 (WR)
50 fly #1 (WR)
50 free #1 (WR)
50 breast #4 (NR, that was subsequently broken)
100 breast #8
50 back #1 (WR)
50 fly #1 (#WR)
50 free #1
50 breast #3
SCY (1 meet, done with a blood clot)
50 fly (NR)
50 back (NR)
Adios for now! I wish everyone well in their swimming endeavors.
Updated March 28th, 2017 at 10:04 AM by The Fortress
Friday, 2/24: Swim/SCY @ Sewy
10 x 25 power kicks
7 x 50 various
5 x (8 x 25) @ :55, :50, :45, :40, :35
R1 = fast
R2 = 100 pace
R3 = 100 pace
R4 = odds shooter
R5= odds shooter
around 2000 @ LA Fitness
can't remember what I did, nothing strenuous, a few 100 pace 25s
Wed 3/1: Swim/SCY @ Pitt
250 various (got in a bit late)
8 x 50 kick (they were doing something else)
8 x 50 kick
12 x 25 kick @ :45, pretty fast
3 x 50 EZ (they were doing 100 IMs)
12 x 25 kick @ :50, pretty fast
3 x 50 EZ
-- got out a bit early
So, I've been getting in the pool once in awhile. I have to say that I am very unmotivated. It's dull as dirt to just kick with your arms at your side. And without a meet to plan for ... eh. I have been on the treadmill quite a bit. Unfortunately, I also strained my thoracic area somewhat. Not sure how. Probably just doing a lot of casual pulling and and hauling with my arm (groceries, car doors, chopping). I have to actively think about my 10 lb limit. In other news, my insurance company denied coverage for my angioplasty. I must say, I didn't see that one coming. My dr submitted an appeal without me even asking. He said it was the first time he'd ever had a denial of coverage for this procedure. If they deny coverage again, I will be appealing and suing. Really outrageous. Any least my next appointment is in just 3 weeks. Fingers crossed for the all clear. Though I know that if I am cleared, I will have to proceed very slowly and cautiously.
Updated March 2nd, 2017 at 03:53 PM by The Fortress
I've been doing 7-10 miles on the treadmill daily. I went to the pool on Saturday (no treadmill) and did the following short workout:
Swim/SCY/Solo @ BP
400 various kicking
20 x 25 power kick to 15m+ with arms at side
-- 10 belly, 10 back
10 x 25 single arm breast
6 x (25 fast kick + 50 EZ)
10 x 25 dolphin kick on belly w/snorkel @ 100ish pace
Another boring workout. But on the upside it's warm and sunny here this weekend and my son is home for a visit!
Swim/SCY @ Pitt
8 x 50 kick w/fins @ :55 (I did 6)
5 x 100 IM @ 1:45
-- I did 5 x (25 shooter + 25 EZ), then 50 EZ
16 x 25 @ 100 pace @ :45
-- did these flutter kick w/fins & snorkel
4 x 50 something or other
-- I did 3 x 50 EZ
16 x 25 @ 100 pace @ :50
-- did 8 x dolphin kick on belly w/snorkel & 8 x dolphin kick on back 15m UW
4 x 50 something or other
-- I did 3 x 50
10 x 25 @ 100 pace @ :50
-- the team was doing 24 of these, but I just did 10 and hopped out early
I ventured to Pitt last night and it was great to see everyone. It's definitely easier to do really boring kick sets with a team. There is one disadvantage of the power breather snorkel though -- you cannot chat with your lane mates! I also would have liked more "air" between the 25 efforts. I am now off to the treadmill. Between TV and podcasts, it's not too hard to get in quite a few miles.
3 miles on treadmill
Swim/SCY/Solo @ BP:
600 various kick
20 x 25 power kick w/arms at side
10 x (25 fast kick + 25 EZ kick)
I went to watch the masters meet at Lebo HS. It was fun to see some swim friends. They even have fins on the blocks there now. And the water temperature is warmer. So I might have to venture there again.
11 miles on treadmill in 2 segments
30 minutes of core/yoga/rehab ex
7 miles on treadmill
40 minutes of drylands
Swim/SCY @ LA Fitness
6 x (25 fast + 75 EZ)
4 miles on treadmill
Well, I've dipped my toe back in the water. Refreshing! But it is SO boring to do nothing but kick with your arms at your side. I did invest in the Arena power breather snorkel, since I'm not supposed to be turning my neck much. I like it better than the previous ones I've owned. I'll probably try to get in the water a few times a week. I can't see boring the crap out of myself on a daily basis! Oddly, it was more tiring swimming just 2000 yards than doing 10 miles on the treadmill ...
Updated February 14th, 2017 at 01:46 PM by The Fortress
Last time I checked in, I had just had my VTOS surgery (Dec. 8) wherein Dr. Lum removed a huge chunk from my chest. I seemed to recover from that fairly well and did not become a pillbilly. On December 20, I went back to Hopkins for a venogram to check the vein. Disappointingly, but not totally unexpectedly, it was still damaged, compressed and the clot was still there. So I had an angioplasty where they put in 4 balloons to open the vein. Good grief, that really hurt. Not great news, but at least he was able to open the vein. I was told that the second operation had a 70% chance of success; veins that have long been compressed are prone to re-collapse. I survived xmas, but on December 29, I was struck down with an extremely severe case of the flu, which developed into bronchitis. I was really sick for 3.5 weeks -- the sickest I've ever been in my life. I only made it to one PT appt, then had to cancel all the rest. At this juncture, I've decided that I'm not going to bother with PT. I had full ROM almost immediately in any event. My arm is still somewhat swollen, but down from before. I was given a 3-6 month estimate for it to return to normal. My next appt is on March 23 and they will again check the vein with a duplex ultrasound. If there is still damage/clotting, I will need vein reconstruction surgery. I also struggled a bit with the oral blood thinner (xarelto). It made me nauseous and tired. So I switched back to lovenox. Downside is injections 2x day. Still, better than nausea.
So Dec & Jan were just a life hijack. After an epic struggle, I have been feeling pretty normal the last 10 days. I can't do anything high impact or anything with my arm. I've been doing a lot of fast walking on the treadmill, between 5-9 miles a day. My incision is healing fine, so I may be able to get back in the water and kick with my arms at my side fairly soon. My dr really errs on the conservative side wrt the pool. But I know others that returned to the pool 6 weeks after VTOS surgery. I may also go to a spin class or some bikram yoga. Vinyasa is out because of all the down dogs.
Anyway, hope you all are doing fabulously! I persevere.
Updated February 7th, 2017 at 06:51 PM by The Fortress
I had my VTOS surgery on December 8 at Johns Hopkins. The surgery went well. The dr extracted a fairly massive first rib (see attached). The rib was abnormally large and was the culprit of the venous compression. There was also a great deal of muscle surrounding the rib, which was excised. I had a difficult time with the anesthesia, which caused me to throw up a few times. That is not particularly fun after an invasive surgery. I was able to move my arm right away and was on my feet quickly. The drive home was rather painful; I could feel every bump. I have a venogram scheduled for December 20 to assess whether the vein is patent and the clot has dissolved. I hope the vein bounces back from the compression, but the clot was very extensive. Depending on the results, I could be on blood thinners for awhile. I just hope there is not permanent damage. Anyway, the pain is reasonable tolerable with the pain meds. And my daughter is arriving home from college today!
I went to Johns Hopkins last Thursday for some testing and to see Dr. Lum. 9 days earlier, I finally had my chest CT with contrast and it was negative for blood clots. But by the time I got to Hopkins, a duplex ultrasound showed an extensive blood clot from mid chest to mid arm and confirmed a diagnosis of venous thoracic outlet syndrome. So it is a worst case scenario. VTOS is an extremely rare condition, but healthy athletes like swimmers are somewhat more at risk, and I am genetically pre-disposed. I am on blood thinners now and will have to have surgery in a couple weeks. There is no other solution, you have to de-compress the subclavian vein in the thoracic outlet. For the surgery, the resect your first rib and take out the attached scalene muscle. No swimming for 3 months after the surgery. Since I haven't swum much in a month, it is going to be a long time out of the water. And I can't exercise at all right now. My left side is somewhat compressed as well, but Dr Lum thinks the likelihood of VTOS on that side is still low. I worry, though, because my sister had to have bilateral surgeries.
On the upside, a blood clot did not break off and go to my lung or brain. And I've been told that it's possible some of my shoulder and elbow problems on my right side may have been to do maladaptive compensations from inadequate venous return. I have felt like my breath holding capacity has declined somewhat the last couple years. This could be why, and may also be fixed by surgery. Hopefully, there is not too much damage to the vein.
Dr Lum thinks that the culprit may be all my streamline dolphin kicking bc you are in an extremely compressed position when doing that. I did even more kicking that usual this year bc of my elbow and shoulder tendonitis issues. I may have to consider doing less SDK work upon returning.
So I'm signing off for awhile. It will seem odd ... I've been blogging for many years now ... since the creation of the USMS blogs. And I haven't had any real break from swimming in 11 years. The timing is very disappointing, in my age up year. But masters swimming seems to be defined by comebacks. Hopefully, that will be my case.
I swam about 2500 on Sunday Nov 6 and then didn't get in the water again until this weekend, where I did 2300 both Sat and Sun with a lot of kicking with my arms at the side. I did 4-5 miles on the treadmill on the other days. It's been almost a month now. I feel like I've rested the area. I haven't swum much. I've been going to PT. But the arm still swells and turns red when I exercise. My PT thinks it's a thoracic outlet issue as well. My scalenes are very tight and possibly hypertrophied and may have pulled up my first rib, which is more prominent on the right side. I am a tad worried that there is some redness in my left bicep area when I swim (no swelling tho).
I've been frustrated trying to get appointments. But with the help of a connection, I have an appt at Johns Hopkins on Thursday with Dr. Ying Wei Lum. He's an expert in the field of venous thoracic outlet syndrome (there aren't many, it's very rare). Via email, he opined that my symptoms sound like McCleery Syndrome where you have intermittent compression of the subclavian vein. I hope he can give me a diagnosis and treatment plan. Being in limbo has been very frustrating. What's scary is that I wouldn't even have had a clue that it could be a thoracic outlet issue but for my sister having the same problem many years ago ...
Also cross that my hotel reservation for NE Champs was non-refundable. I had no idea when I made the reservation. Between that and my plane flight, that's a very expensive meet to not swim in ...
Updated November 14th, 2016 at 11:38 AM by The Fortress
I took a couple days off after the Sprint Classic. Since then, I've been on the treadmill for 3-5 miles a day. I swam at Sewy on Friday night and did around 2500. My arm and shoulder area swelled up afterward, as it seems to with any exercise at all.
I was worried it might be Lymphedema. So I went to the expert in the area. She doesn't think it is lymphedema, which is good. I saw her on Wed and Fri. On Friday, they were thinking that it might a version of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. I have been negative for the neurological physical tests. But she thinks it might be soft tissue related, which would be fixable. I am worried that it is venous TOS and that the scans to date didn't pick it up. My sister had venous TOS, a very rare condition. I've told that to three drs and no one has ordered an MRI (which was how my sister was diagnosed). I am going to start calling cardio-thoracic drs tomorrow to try to get an appointment.
In any event, if it is TOS, it's a very bad thing for my swimming. I am on the DL right now and will likely have to cancel my December focus meet. I haven't swum much for 19 days, so am very out of shape at this point anyway. Kicking in a streamline position isn't any better than swimming; everything is still overhead and compressed. I am going to go swim to Bethel Park for a bit today just to keep a little feel for the water. But I am just not jazzed up about kicking with my arms at my side. I have injury fatigue at this point after a year full of different kinds of injuries. I'm doing a lot of stretching in case it is soft tissue related. But I am so hyper mobile that it's difficult to stretch the areas I'm supposed to stretch.
Updated November 6th, 2016 at 12:41 PM by The Fortress
I took myself and my swollen arm down to the Sprint Classic. I've felt horrible in the water the last couple days. I kind of ignored that thinking that it was stress/sleep related/not swimming much. But I realized after warm up and a couple races (duh) that the lack of circulation was causing fatigue and really driving up my heart rate. I only swam two events, and ended up scratching the battle of the drop dead sprinters. I was too exhausted and my arm was slightly numb. I did set two 55-59 national records in my pet events, although with quite mediocre times for me.
50 fly, 27.0
The start, turn and underwaters were all solid. But I could barely get my arms out of the water the last 2-3 strokes. I know that is not training related. And I only take 13 strokes in a 50 fly. I was so tired afterward that I knew I shouldn't attempt the 100 IM. My fly and free feel the worst right now. Hopefully, I can do a :26 later in the season.
50 back, 28.1
Same story here. My start and underwaters were solid. I did have a bit of a glide into the turn. My turnover lacked some zip, especially the second length. I haven't done any AFAP backstroke since August while getting over bicep tendonitis, so I felt a little rusty. I could not get my heart rate down after this race for a long time. Hopefully, I can knock this time down some more later in the season.
Later in the evening after I got home, the overall swelling went down and is now localized in the bicep area again. It seems like some kind of lymphedema ....idk ... I had KT tape on before my races. I took it off and was bruised in the entire area, suggesting little circulation. I'm off to get a chest CT scan this am and have a cupping and cryosauna appointment. I had planned on a meet in November. But I'm not going to compete until this clears up. And it looks like I will have to go back to mostly kicking, again.
On the upside, I got to see my PV friends!
Here are results: http://www.swimphone.com/mobile/meet....cfm?smid=8131
Updated October 31st, 2016 at 12:54 PM by The Fortress
I went to LA Fitness and did 1100 or so with some 100 pace 25s and a couple bursts. I saw the Ortho prior to the swim. He said that it is definitely not a bicep issue -- too strong on all the physical tests and no pain. Which is a relief, I guess. He also doesn't think it is Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. It just would be nice to know the identity of the culprit. I'm going to do some more bloodwork to see if there is any rheumatological concern. I went to the cryosauna today and that definitely helped. I wish I could go tomorrow but they are booked. The Ortho cleared me to swim in the meet on Sunday. I feel like the swelling impedes my flexibility somewhat and is uncomfortable. But at this point I see no reason not to go. I won't be on my A game after the last stressful 10 days where I've been in the water so little. But I think I'd be happier there than sitting at home. So I will Rocky it up. If my arm swells up too much, I will skip the Battle of the Drop Dead Sprinters at the end -- which would be quite sad really. So few of these races for my ilk.
Updated October 28th, 2016 at 06:28 PM by The Fortress
Swim/SCY/Solo @ LA Fitness
100 single arm fly
4 x 25 power kick
2 rounds: 2 x 25 burst + cruise + 50 EZ
12 x 25
odds= 100 pace
evens = EZ
The arm is still swollen, but my husband estimated the swelling was down about 70% last night (it seems worse this am -- maybe from the salt in the Thai food I ate last night?). The swelling was unremitting for many days. The only thing I've done differently is go to the cryosauna and take a concoction of apple cider vinegar, alpha lipoid acid and butcher's broom. I do have an appt tomorrow with an Ortho and a chest CT scan set up for Monday. The arm did not bother me swimming yesterday as it has on prior days, though it was a little red afterward. I wish I could go to the cryosauna today (and do more RICE) but it is Lil Fort's regional XC championship. Unfortunately, everyone on varsity has some niggling injury including her.
Here are the psych sheets for the Sprint Classic. There are a whopping 239 swimmers in the meet, pretty darn big for an in season meet.
Still not sure what to do about the meet. If it is trauma to the bicep it would seem inadvisable to put maximal pressure on it. I'm just not sure that it is. I'm not really mentally prepared either. I've been a bit unglued being in diagnostic limbo and have not been sleeping well. Not a good combination with so little exercise to mute the anxiety.
Updated October 27th, 2016 at 11:09 AM by The Fortress
I did 1600-1700 EZ at Bethel Park.
The right arm swelling has not improved at all. It seems to get worse with swimming and the compression sleeve is not helping. This suggests it is not lymphatic in nature bc exercise and compression normally help that. I had an emergency appointment with my internist today. She sent me for a mammogram and sonogram. They were negative. I am supposed to get a chest CT scan next. There is no medication they can offer. They have no idea what the reason is for the swelling. My internist doesn't think it's idiopathic bc it is localized. I need Dr. House. It is all very upsetting.
Swim/SCY @ Pitt
350 various (I was late, missed some warm up stuff)
6 x 25 shooters w/fins @ :40
8 x 25 build to fast @ :40
-- alternated 2 @ 100 pace, 2 EZ
Modified/cut back everything ...
1 x 50 fly back @ 100 pace + 100 EZ
1 x 50 breast free @ 100 pace + 100 EZ
-- couple extra 50 EZs in there
1 x 50 EZ
1 x broken 100, :15 @ each 25 @ 100 pace
1 x 100 EZ
I iced and elevated my arm all day with some diminution in swelling so decided to go swim. Unfortunately, it swelled again after practice. I spent the night elevating it and bought a compression sleeve today. I decided not to swim today since swimming makes it worse. I swam with two docs in my lane and their best guess is some lymphatic blockage that did not show up on the scan. I just really hope that this is a temporary and isolated incident and that I can swim next weekend. Definitely stressed out about this.
Swim/SCY @ PItt
8 x 25 scull + kick @ :40
8 x 50 kick w/fins @ :55
-- did odds = flutter, even = SDK to 15m each length
4 x 100 pull @ 1:40 (no, did 4 x 50)
8 x 100 back @ 1:55
-- no I did #3 & #6 an EZ 50, the others were 50 double shooter w/fins + 50 EZ
8 x 25 back fast @ :55
-- 100 pace, UW 15 m
4 x 100 IM descend @ 2:00
-- no, I did something else ... I think it was 4 x 50 single arm fly drill
6 x 25 fast back @ :45
-- I did 4 x 25 breast and was pooped
I was trying to take it a bit easier than usual and do more hypoxic work and less intense work.
Unfortunately, my right bicep hurt during practice. After practice later that night, most of my arm became very swollen. I spent over 5 hours yesterday in the ER getting all sorts of tests done. No blood clot, abscess, tumor, cellulitis, nothing. No clue why it occurred. And it is still swollen. I really hope this is going to go away soon. It's hard to sleep with it as well. Frowny face.
Updated October 21st, 2016 at 04:36 PM by The Fortress
Swim/SCY/Solo @ Sewy
8 x 25 shooters w/fins
8 x 50 burst + cruise
10 x (25 AFAP + 75 EZ) @ 3:00-3:30
-- 5 swim, 5 kick
8 x 50 DPS free w/paddles @ 1:00
I'm feeling sore and tired. I suspect that it is because I haven't had a full recovery week since the third week of August. My body always starts to protest if train too long without a meet to rest for. I've also had a little bit of Stewartitis the last few weeks -- waking up for awhile in the middle of the night. I usually just read an actual book. I'm a dinosaur -- haven't switched to reading books on my iPad.
Swim/SCY/Solo @ LA Fitness
2 rounds: 4 x 25 burst + cruise @ :45 + 50/100 EZ
4 x (25 AFAP + 75 EZ)
16 x 25 IM order @ 100 pace @ :40
12 x 25 IM order @ 100 pace @ :40
8 x 25 IM order @ 100 pace @ :40
4 x 25 IM order @ 100 pace @ :40
I survived Homecoming on Saturday. But I was up so late for the afterparty at our house (Mr. Fort can't stay up) and we had brunch for all the girls in the party who slept over at our house on Sunday am (Mr. Fort running with another Homecoming dad), that I was beat the rest of the day. I still felt beat today. Fort Son is in town and I had to hit the grocery etc., so I only went to LA Fitness.
I finally got around to entering the Sprint Classic:
Swim Meet Events
I think my body is looking forward to a few days of rest. Not sure why, my flog suggests that I could have trained harder the last month ... I could really use a massage.
captains chair leg raises, 2 x 20
hip thrusters, 45 x 3 x 15
good mornings, 85 x 3 x 5
kneeling cable crunches ? x 3 x 10
explosive leg extensions, 05 x 3 x 15
straight arm dips, 90 x 3 x 15
rear delt flys, 80 x 3 x 8
russian twists on incline bench, 2-3 x 3 x 25
glute isolator, 50 x 3 x 5 each leg
hip abductor 110 x 3 x 5
1000 EZ in the pool after
Friday: Swim/SCY @ Pitt
400 kick, no I did 8 x 25 shooters + 3 x 50 single arm fly
10 x 25 kick w/fins @ :30 (did about 5 bursts)
This was the bear of a main set assigned. I modified somewhat and used fins. I'm a bit terrified of someone kicking my toe and fins really cushion the toe on the walls. I don't remember the intervals exactly, but Bill was chastising people for not taking enough rest on the EZ swims.
1 x 100 fast (I did 75 IM, fly-back-breast fast @ 100 pace)
1 x 100 EZ (did 125 EZ)
1 x 75 fast (did IM, fly-back-breast)
1 x 75 EZ
1 x 50 fast @ around 95% (did fly-back)
1 x 50 EZ
1 x 25 fast (breast)
1 x 125 EZ
At first I looked at that main set and thought there was no way I could do it, even with fins. I thought about doing the second round hypoxic. But I gave it a try. There was no way to go AFAP on everything. Holding the 75s at 100 pace was challenging enough. I was trying to hold :44s, the first one was a bit faster. Went 24-25 on the 50s and 11-12s on the 25 breasts. I was feeling pretty beat last night after that.
Today is Homecoming for Lil Fort. The after party is at our house, so I need to get to the grocery and do a few things today.
Tuesday: Swim/SCY/Solo @ Sewy
4 x 25 shooters
8 x 50 burst + cruise @ 1:156
6 x (25 AFAP + 75 EZ)
1 x 50 fly-back @ 100 pace @ 1:00 + 1 x 50 EZ @ 1:30
1 x 50 breast-free @ 100 pace @ 1:00 + 1 x 50 EZ @ 1:30
1 x 100 EZ
6 x 25 no breath free @ :45
Wed: Swim/SCY @ Pitt
600 various (got in little early)
8 x 50 various, I did 5 of them burst + cruise
6 x 25 shooters w/fins @ :45
2 x 200 IM @ 3:40
-- good grief, no. I did 2 x 100 hypoxic back kick w/fins, UW 15m each length + a 50 EZ after #2
4 x 50 fly-free w/fins @ 1:00 (I did the fly @ 100 pace)
8 x 25 fast fly w/fins @ :40 (I did it 100 pace, 12s)
1 x 100 EZ
2 x 200 IM or stroke @ 3:40 (did same as above)
4 x 50 breast-free @ 1:00 (cruised them, skipped one with a cramp)
8 x 25 fast breast (did breast dolphin, 16s, whip kick hurt toe)
1 x 100 EZ
2 x 200 IM or stroke @ 3:40 (did same as above)
4 x 50 back free (did back @ 100 pace) @ 1:00
8 x 25 fast back @ :45 (did 100 pace, 15-16s)
1 x 200 EZ
My toe was really throbbing after that workout and kept me up at night. This break seems more painful than the last one. I just hope it is better in two weeks. Off to the gym to try to find something to do that won't injure me or exacerbate injuries.