Thomas Pendergast Vladeck home


I know, what a gross title.

But this morning, I woke up at 6:30am with no alarm, feeling amazing. Amazing might be a bit of a stretch, but I felt fully slept and ready to do stuff.

Now, most people don’t feel this way at 6:30am and neither do I most of the time. But for me this would have been inconceivable even a few months ago. Not at 6:30am, not at 7:30, not at 8:30, not at 9:30, not at any time.

For the better part of two years I had an issue I would describe to my doctors as the following: “when I wake up, I feel terrible, like I haven’t slept. I feel sick, totally lethargic, and have zero energy”.

It took a while for it to dawn on me that something was up (who feels good in the morning first thing?). Then I thought, well, maybe this is just temporary and it’ll pass.

When it didn’t pass, I thought – maybe it’s alcohol? Business school and NYC are boozy places, after all. But no – drinking (or lack thereof) had no effect on how I felt.

Was it sleep apnea? The internets said that could be it. My girlfriend said that I didn’t snore but she’s a deep sleeper so I downloaded one of those apps that records you and listens for snoring sounds. Nope – nothing there. Now, you can have apnea without obvious snoring, so this wasn’t conclusive, but it was enough evidence away from that that I moved down the list.

Maybe I was getting out of shape? The mirror and the scale didn’t show anything obvious, but in the past I had been pretty serious about training for things, maybe this is just what normals who don’t workout religiously feel like? So I signed up for a marathon. Now, I’ve done a marathon and two half ironmans, so I know what the training ramp feels like, and this wasn’t it. I checked Strava and my runs from not long ago were a full minute+ faster per mile. My legs felt heavy. I had had this notion that I would use the marathon training to get into kickass shape and that wasn’t working either.

So I kept digging. I got a blood test. Everything normal.

Kept digging, turns out that allergies can cause these symptoms. Made an appointment, got tested for allergies. Zilch. But – in the first lead of this investigation, he gave me a nasal spray and said “if this helps, make an appointment back here; if not, there’s not much we can do”.

The spray helped! So I made an appointment and they did a CT scan of my face. Sinuses swollen and two of them totally full. Sinus infection. I asked how long it could have been there, and they said for as long as my symptoms were going on (years!).

I kept on with the spray for a while, but have since moved on to use a neti pot / squeeze bottle religiously to clean out my sinuses every day.

Now, yes, this whole topic is gross as is my daily ritual. But for a few years of my life I thought I worried (and at times legitimately thought) that I would spend the rest of my life waking up feeling like shit and having zero energy.

Moral of the story: sinuses have the ability to totally fuck you up.