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Ben Woodbeck Friday, 18 November 2011 11:08 TWEET COMMENTS 2

Pacing Diana - Page 10

Diana would always comment that no matter how much planning you do for race day, after the start, forget the plans and just try to get on with things as best you can. The old truisms lie at your side, always within reach without having to look, but new obstacles appear, an opportunity for new lessons, a different education.

So it was with Hardrock 2010. The slog that was the last 20 miles—that was new. The year before Diana had run miles 98 through 100 at roughly the same pace the first two miles.

And there was this new obstacle: I could never have imagined that a day after the awards ceremony we would be at a hospital near our house, with Diana hooked up to an IV, getting blood tests every two hours. She looked so small she seemed to be dissolving slowly into the hospital bed.

Her kidneys "received quite a blow," said the first doctor. "Her blood is full of creatinine, and her kidneys are not processing anything. `Rhabdomyolysis,'" he said, "which is a toxic build up of garbage—in this case destroyed muscle tissue—in the blood."

I would not have thought that the following day we would be flying to the nearest renal center in Denver, on a Lifeflight plane with two flight nurses, Diana dwarfed by all the machinery she was hooked up to, dwarfed by the specially outfitted plane that allowed her to be monitored constantly. Dreamlike, we floated into Denver.

I would not have thought that her blood tests would become the most nourishing source of information to our day—the alphabet of science, her "numbers," her "chemistry," her CPK, her BUN, her K, her NALC, her H & H. I would not have thought that we would learn those truisms and verities that come with a loved one—my partner in life, adventure, everything, for 15 years—being in the hospital for an extended period; of talking to doctors, specialists, nurses, of bed pans and medications, of the constant hum and whir, the clacks of industrial doors, the sheen of solvents on those shiny floors, the words "fluids" or "catheter" or "dialyze" or "fistula," all those words and chemistry and numbers you don't want to deal with, but then one day you do, and that day turns into another, and another, until it seems like your whole life has been just this.

The parking garage under the hospital, the elevator, the renal ward, your spouse looking like herself but different, smaller, scared, still feisty. It was a new kind of Hardrock, a new kind of crewing. I was still a cheerleader, a shrink, a realist, a supporter, a pacer. The conversations with doctors about donor lists, transplant possibilities. I would not have thought these things would be the lessons of a 100-mile run.

She was in the hospital for 16 days. She received dialysis on that second day, at 2 a.m., an emergency, as her numbers kept getting worse. Without it, she would have died. Not to be dramatic. But it is true. The blood in her veins would have become so toxic it would have killed her.


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