Friday, January 9, 2009

Sick of being sick!

Being sick sucks! I am not a patient person, but I’ve had to deal with it for the past 3 weeks.

I have a rare condition called Stevens Johnsons Syndrome. You’ve probably never heard of it as SJS affects only about one person in one million…I guess I won the lottery. SJS is basically an allergic reaction to something that your body doesn’t agree with. It can be caused initially by a simple drug reaction or even just a flu or virus. I’ve had episodes of SJS since a very young age, and we aren’t exactly sure what initially caused it or what triggers an attack now. I still have a hunch that it originally may have been caused by having a mild case of meningitis when I was only a few months old.

SJS affects many areas of the body and causes severe skin irritations. It can affect the entire outside of your body with burns and blisters, but also can affect your eyes and mouth as well as internally. Needless to say, it can be very dangerous to the person who has it and can be fatal if not recognized.

I am very fortunate in that I don’t get SJS as badly as some people do. An outbreak for me usually lasts 2-3 weeks. I may feel fine otherwise, but have a slight skin reaction on my arms and legs and that can be it. In more severe cases with me, and if I don’t get on my medication at the first symptoms, I can end up getting a pretty bad eye and mouth irritation that makes it tough to see; while eating and drinking are extremely difficult. I’ll usually run a fever with this for a while as well. Basically, it’s not much fun.

So, this is what I’ve been dealing with since Christmas. This most recent attack is probably one of the worst I’ve had in years. I was in the hospital for a week back in 1987, and I remember them having no idea what it was. The doctors at the time thought that I’d had a reaction to illegal drugs and kept asking me what I was on. This was very difficult trying to tell them that I was a runner and not on anything.

I have had two attacks in the past 6 months, where as I haven’t had an attack for 6 years before that. The reason for the recent attack was that my doctor and I felt that it might be better if I went on a new drug for a shorter term. This hasn’t proven to work very well though, so I am going back on the original medication next time.

Unfortunately, once an attack happens, there is not much to do but wait it out. Like I said, I am not very patient. While I still feel like hell and would really like to be back out there running more, I do feel that I am slowly starting to improve and hope to be feeling better in the next few days.

Running has been very difficult, but I have managed to keep my streak alive with a token 20 minutes of running each day. Not much, but helps with my sanity. Just getting outdoors for that period of time gives me hope that I’m on the mend and what I can look forward to again soon.

I should also point out that SJS has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of running that I do as I’ve had attacks before I began competitive running and at times when I’ve been running very little.

The good thing about this is that once I start feeling better, I tend to come around pretty quickly. You never really appreciate your health until you get knocked down a level. I guess that’s where I am right now, and can’t wait to get back out there training hard again.


  1. Hope the worst is behind you Derrick!


  2. I hear you. It's tough being sick. I'm amazed you are still running every day. It's an inspiration to a lot of us.

    I did think of you a few times this week and wondered how you were doing. Thanks for this post.

  3. Hey Rick - I don't think patience runs in our family so I can imagine how frustrating this must be for you. Sending lots of good healing wishes from B.C. - sounds like you are very close to turning the corner. Then ... R&I, watch out!!!