Sunday, April 13, 2008

track hack vs. tuburculosis

track hack: [trāk hāk] n. to cough harshly, usually in short and repeated spasms, after fiercely exercising on a paved, circular racing course.

tubuerculosis: [too-bur-kyuh-loh-sis] n. A bacterial infection that is most often found in the lung(pulmonary TB) but can spread to other parts of the body (extrapulmonary TB). Caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, slow-growing bacteria that thrives in areas of the body that are rich in blood and oxygen, such as the lungs. Highly contagious, it spreads when a person who has active disease exhales air that contains TB-causing bacteria and another person inhales the bacteria from the air. Symptoms include: ongoing cough that brings up thick, cloudy, and sometimes bloody mucus from the lungs (sputum); fatigue and weight loss; night sweats and fever; rapid heartbeat; swelling in the neck (when lymph nodes in the neck are infected); shortness of breath and chest pain (in rare cases). Treatment is often successful, though the process is long. Treatment time averages between 6 and 9 months, using a series of different antibiotic medications.
While I fully support health education materials on the internet, be skeptical and beware of those handy "diagnosis calculators." I do not have TB, despite what the internet says.

Somehow the gods shone down on me yesterday afternoon-- between the warm-up and the car ride home with alicia -- my cough subsided [enter angel music]. It was like the eye of the storm. However, in the morning I woke the whole house hacking; during the warmup, luckily everyone was on the track and missed me gagging up phelgm on the infield. And then poor Alicia witnessed me hacking and losing my voice in the car ride home. That evening I had a friend's birthday party which was "dress up" (and i had 10 minutes from getting home to leaving, so I smelt like match sprint all evening, although with a pretty red dress on). During the birthday party, I had to excuse myself for fifteen minutes and walk outside to hunch over in an uncontrollable coughing fit on the sidewalk. Having coughing fits in a dress is quite amusing. I pretended I was Nicole Kiddman in Moulin Rouge... except I didn't have a have blood coming out of my lungs-- just some pretty yellow phlegm. And I didn't have a hanky either to catch the phlegm, so I just wiped it on my pretty red dress. I am quite lady like.

Well, given that before/after story, you should be expecting a post of me telling you how I tried really hard at the match sprints, but sometimes you just have to except illness and rest.

Naw. I did pretty well. That was my best 200m time by a good amount, and I did okay on the match sprints too. (Except that three up-- that was moronic to a T) Certainly need a bit more learning to control the front of the bike cause I finally have on a *real track fork* (no more road fork, so Peter can stop yelling at me!)- but that will come with practice and time. But, beautiful day at the track. Fast times. Good folks. Improved tan lines.

So moral of the story is-- sure get sick the week of a race, just spend it sleeping 10 hours a day, not riding... do a crappy tune-up ride the day before, and then you will be ready to go fast. But don't really plan anything social the night after because you will be an embarrassment to be seen in public, even if you are wearing a pretty red dress.

I was quite light hearted about my TB comments- but please do not let that undermine my concern for this serious public health issue. Worldwide, each year 8 million people are infected by TB, and 2 million die of this disease. More than 2 billion people, almost one-third of the world’s population, are infected with the microbes that cause TB. The spread of HIV worldwide, has lead to additional TB deaths, due to people infected having a weakened immune system. TB treatment is quite rigorous, requiring 6-12 months on antibiotics; many do not complete the treatment, due to shortages of medicines and medical personnel in developing countries, civil disruptions, and socioeconomic barriers for patients. As a result, strains of TB have developed and spread which are drug resistant and very difficult to treat, causing many more death. To my wide readership in Silicon Valley [and others with large amounts of disposable income], I highly suggest large donations be made to Partner's in Health. This organization is devoted to infectious disease control worldwide, and Paul Farmer, who started the organization -- well, I cannot even say enough about the excellent work he does. If you do not know much about him, I highly suggest reading this book -- Mountains Beyond Mountains -- Educational, inspiring, and wonderfully written to boot.


Dr. Scarab said...

nice way to make a PIH plug. how's everything at the clinic?

twinkiepatissier said...

ooooh, i can't wait to plot your 200m times and quad measurements.

WarrenG said...

How about the calves? Even BartBoy recognized their potential.

casual entropy said...

re: Track Hack. I get it too. I suspect that I have exercised-induced asthma. Either that or I've been breathing NYC air. Maybe both. Hmm.

Anyway, I like tea a lot, and I like herbal teas as gentle medicine. There's an herb called mullein that's really good for the lungs, and one called slippery elm that's really good for the throat. You can get slippery elm in lozenges in natural foods stores; mullein comes as a loose herb. Make a strong tea (steep with a lid for half an hour), and add some honey and anything else you need to make it taste good. It's good for the lungs.

Can you believe I missed Paul Farmer when he spoke at Wesleyan?!