This weekend was supposed to be one of celebration, the two races I had lined up would take me over the 500km mark and be my 20th and 21st race of the year. Instead I'm sat writing this introduction sat next to Jenny in hospital after she was admitted on Sunday with severe Eczema Herpeticum.
The weekend got off to an early start with the Notts 10 Mile Road Race around Holme Pierrepont on Friday evening. It was a very warm evening, at somewhere between 18°C and 20°C, and with another race on Sunday, it was a race that I should have run at a steady pace. Instead, I was conscious of the fact that Jenny was at work and that if I could I wanted to get back to give her a lift home, so foolishly I decided to run the race as hard as I could, which led to many hilarious faces, such as the one below.
About three miles into the run I got what initially felt like a stitch in my stomach area, but as the miles wore on and more gas built up I ended up having to burp my way to comfort, until at 6 miles the origin of this pain became apparent and I ended up throwing up in my mouth. Far, far from pleasant. With this discomfort dislodged I carried on for the remaining three and a bit miles, before crossing the line, grabbing my goody bag and heading home. My first race of the weekend completed and leaving me just 4km short of the halfway point.
When I got back home Jenny kept mentioning how itchy her eye was. A cause for concern for many, but an all too common complaint for someone with Jenny's conditions. It wasn't until the following morning when Jenny woke up that it became obvious it wasn't a typical itchy eye.
Initial thoughts didn't lead to herpeticum, instead Jenny thought it might be conjunctivitis, but closer inspection revealed the worst. After waiting a couple of hours for Jenny to get ready we made the trip to A&E where Jenny was eventually given some strong medication to hopefully fight of the infection.
As the evening wore on, the infection was visibly spreading at an alarming rate. On Sunday I was due to run the Humber Bridge 10k in Hessle, just south of Hull, these plans were soon scrapped however. What started as a relatively normal face with minimal swelling in the morning, had gone out of control. Jenny spent the majority of Saturday evening afraid of going to bed because she knew the discomfort that would follow in the morning. This photograph below was taken before Jenny went to bed on Saturday evening, a terrifying contrast to the photo I had taken just 14 hours prior.
On Sunday morning I half heartedly got ready for the race knowing nothing short of a miracle would enable me to go. When I checked on Jenny I could see her face had swollen to almost twice the size it was before and another trip to A&E was on the cards.
We were fast tracked straight to see a doctor where we learnt that she would be admitted to hospital. When we got transferred to a ward a nurse began dealing with Jenny and putting a cannula in her hand. This is the part of the story when I find it wise to inform you that it was now 12:30, and I hadn't eaten since half 7, for those that know me this is a long time for me to go without eating. As I stood there holding Jenny's hand as she became distressed at the cannula action I began to feel a little weird, suddenly I'm struggling to see anything, I try and place the drink I had in my hand on the floor and then 'boom!', I faint.
Next thing I know I'm laying on the floor with 5/6 nurses/doctors around me, and I'm covered in both sweat and embarrassment. I'm not one for being squeamish at all, in fact I regularly give blood, so I have no issue with needles or anything, I'll just chalk this down to one of those things and me doing anything to get some free biscuits. Jenny seemed to find the whole event entertaining anyway, so I guess subconsciously I was just trying to distract her from her current situation or just attention seeking, one of those.
Currently Jenny is in hospital indefinitely whilst the infection remains. She's being treated with both antibiotics and acyclovir and whilst there isn't any sign of the infection getting better, it doesn't appear to be getting any worse, which given the rate it spread yesterday is a sign that the drugs are working. As it is the weekend there wasn't any dermatologists in the hospital, so hopefully tomorrow when she sees one we'll have a better understanding of the how's and why's and when she's likely to get discharged.
If you wish to keep updated on Jenny's health, check her blog http://i-have-eczema.blogspot.co.uk/, where we'll be trying to post updates.
This whole upsetting, eventful weekend reminded me of the evening when I pledged to myself to run this 1000km this year and to do whatever I can to try and bring some comfort to Jenny's life. It was the 3rd or 4th time that she had contracted eczema herpeticum, I think around October time, but my memory is hazy. We were both sat on the floor in the spare room, breaking down but trying to hold each other together as we wondered when this whole situation would get any better. Little did we know it would get much worse.
Eczema hepeticum if left untreated can lead to complete organ failure and then death. It is a condition Jenny and myself are all too familiar with now however, with it being the 7th time Jenny has had it. The severity of the outbreak this time was disturbing, it hasn't even reached the scabbing stage yet, when most of the time we've identified it, so what has caused this outbreak to be 10 times worse than the others is a mystery for the time being.
Not that I ever need reminding of why I'm running this year, but this weekend has just pushed me to run even harder in every race and do whatever I can to try and end the suffering for Jenny and others like her.
Please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can.