Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What shall I do with my shiny, stress-free life?

Dear Diary,

This week marked the end of six years of tyrrany. 

A person in my life, who shall remain nameless, left town, never to return, and I now have what feels like a whole new job.  Instead of 100% case management, I'm now doing 50% case management and 50% group therapy.  And, I'm doing it without constant micromanaging and what I assume is the tacit understanding that with three master's degrees in my field, I might be a fucking professional.  I'm still working on the organizational aspect of it - until I've done a month's worth of groups I need to write a month's worth of groups for younger children AND for teens both, but luckily, they are short-term groups for the inpatient setting where I work.

And if you thought I was tough before: this week I did a mindfulness group with about eight children under the age of 13.  Some of them were still, and, well, mindful.  Many of them wiggled and a couple folded themselves up inside their yoga mats and looked like little wontons.  Then we colored.  It was great.

I just finished my 5th Barre class tonight and I am starting to feel the difference.  I have never cared much for "the burn" but I force myself to give it just five more seconds...before collapsing into a quivering heap.  I notice that I am holding poses a bit longer.  I feel a bit less hopeless.  I feel a bit more stronger.   I can turn my head and look over my left shoulder. 

Thursday nights I'm taking a basic painting class.  I told the teacher I had painted before, and in fact I sold 3 paintings last year and 2 pen-and-ink drawings this year, but the truth is that 2 of the paintings and one of the pen drawings were done under supervision, and I really want to be able to learn from the very basics what to do.  So far we studied color theory.  I have really wanted to take a college-level painting class, but unless I can get every Friday off, that's not going to happen.

After a pretty warm fall the temperature suddenly plummeted and there were 20 mph winds.  Since I'm not acclimated I run on the treadmill in the garage, still working through the couch-to-5k program to get my out of walking/hiking mode and more into running mode.

That's it for this week so far.  Just checking in.

...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Who turned off the heat?

Dear Diary,

Dedicated to my mom, who died way too young at 61 of heart
failure from idiopathic cardiomyopathy.  


It seems like just 2 weeks ago I was commiserating with Sweet Baboo of how this seemed like an unusually long summer and warm fall.  Then this week someone turned the heat off.  This is awesome, because I'm much more likely to get out of the house when it's cool out.

Last weekend I completed the 50k at Hennepin--Sweet Baboo ran the 100 miles in 22 hours and HEY, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT ME.  PAY ATTENTION TO ME.  (but seriously, he's like from Krypton and shit).  The Hennepin 50k started at 5 pm and the sun set 90 minutes later.  That left 7.5 hours for me to run through the dark and rain.

Of course, my Garmin does not last until I finish a 50k, so I have to switch to my Apple Watch after about 6 hours.  So this is the result:



Illinois is the 46th state I which I've completed a marathon or longer.

It was chilly, but luckily most of the rain held off until 11:30 at night.  I managed to do a run-walk the first 16 miles or so, and then after that I had to Walk.  I'm just not in the best shape right now, although I do have pretty sturdy feet and legs.  They carry me, just not quickly.

It was also disappointingly not a real "trail".  Most of it was blacktop.  I'm definitely losing 2 toenails.  Himself, the Baboo, is still recovering from what to me would be a sprint for 22 hours.




  
I took several pictures at the start line, and then two others after I started as the light started to dim.



The week prior to my run, a coworker talked me into taking a Barre class, which I tried, and liked well enough.  It's a combination of ballet conditioning, pilates, and yoga, and it's tough. I like that I can reserve a spot in a class, and that the classes are capped.

It also makes me feel like a bit of a cliche, a woman of a certain age packing my sticky socks, capris, and tank top into the back of my white SUV and heading there after work...  It is a LOT tougher than I imagined, and I discovered after my first barre class that 1) I have no upper body strength, 2) Even my lower body isn't what I would call "strong", and 3) my core--well, fuggetaboutit.  I went to class once before the run, and twice during the week.

The good news is that owing to my constant wearing of high heels going up on my toes ain't no big thang.  I have good balance, too.



I discovered after I put this in manually that my Apple Watch has a "yoga" setting, which I'll use for future workouts.  I burn a whopping 200 or so calories in an hour, according to Garmin and Apple.

For the record, I am, without a doubt,
the largest person

in every barre class I've been in so far.  It doesn't help that like many exercise classes, there is a large wall-sized mirror so I get to look at myself trying to work out at my heaviest weight since 2005

This morning, my class was full of 19-year-old sorority sisters trying out the class.  Literally.  Happily, most of them were struggling.  Sorry, but yes, I am that petty.  If I have to look at your size 0 ass bent over in front of me in exercise class, you had better be suffering.

I spent the week in recovery going to barre class and started my new painting class, as well.  More on that another time.



At work we've had a series of webinars on the Mediterranean diet and I've discovered that for the first half of the day, I'm basically on it.  Then it all falls apart as they start bringing in sheet cake, donuts--holy shit, hospitals are the unhealthiest places to work EVAR.

I discovered in the webinar about the existence of these:

   

Tomorrow, I go back to running my 2-3 miles every morning, hopefully working my way up to 4-5 miles on most days.  My plan for Barre class it to do it for at least a month to help get my arms and core back into shape.

I canceled the marathon double I was supposed to do next weekend in MD/NJ.  No way am I ready for this.  I did, however, sign up for the Black Canyon 50K.  Actually it's like a 55k or a 60k. Aravaipa Running does put on a good race--I have to admit that as much as I hate Southern AZ.  This will be my 3rd attempt at what should be an easily finished run for me.  The first year, there was a series of freak rainstorms.  The second year, 2018, I started seeing double.  By the time I was checked out and rehydrated, I'd missed the cutoff for leaving the aid station.  so 2019 is it.

I have 4 states left.  I hope to get them in 2019.

Meanwhile, at work, things are settling down nicely and the pain in my neck and shoulder has dissipated with the exit of my toxic coworkers.  I can turn my head and everything.  Next step is to reverse 6 years or so of stress eating hospital food.

...



















Sunday, September 30, 2018

I decree that my next run will be awesome.

This is an Aspire Lumen running lamp.  It is mounted on a waist belt.  


It is quite possibly the most amazing thing ever invented.  It is LED, rechargeable, and incredibly bright.  I've used it from time to time to run in the mornings during Winter.

I only like to run in the morning. I've tried running in the afternoon, but after a day as a social worker in a children's psychiatric hospital, I just want to sit and stare.  A couple Autumns ago, I told Himself that I couldn't run outside, because it was getting too cold in the mornings.  Soon after, I had a brand new running jacket.  Then I told him it was too dark to run in the mornings.  Soon after, the Aspire light appeared.  It. Is. Amazing.

Himself does that frequently. He simply cannot abide me not being healthy. I, however, Am. Lazy.  I'm also somewhat agoraphobic when I'm under enough stress. And so, whenever I come up with some reason why I can't run, he will endeavor to discover whatever technology exists to overcome my self-imposed difficulty.

Anyway: the beauty of a waist mounted belt is that there's nothing on my head, which I hate...and it sits low enough to throw shadows.  Head-mounted lamps tend to wash out the trail and it's hard to see the relief I the terrain, much less roots and rocks.  A hand-held lamp or waist lamp eliminates that problem.

But anyway.  I'll be using it this weekend at the Hennepin 50k.  We are still trying to finish a marathon in every state, and for me this will be number 46. The Hennepin 50K starts at 5 pm at night.   I'm hoping to finish in 9 hours at my pace which will be hiking, mainly.  With some very cool lightweight Black Diamond poles.


...   This is the weather forecast.



So.  It's gonna be dark.



It's gonna be  wet.



It's gonna be awesome.



I decree.

...

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Week 1 of the reboot

Dear Diary,

Week 1 involved me returning to an old friend: The couch-to-5K-training plan.  In 2005, when I first started running, I printed it from a website, put it in a page protector, and took it with me to the gym, where I ran each workout on a treadmill.

Now, though, I'm rugged.  And fancy.  

Now I run it in my neighborhood, using my Apple Watch and my iPhone C25K Pro app.  I take each Wednesday off and do yoga, usually, or nothing.   I have a favorite route that has uphills and downhills and a few flats.  I'd love to show the profile, but sadly, my apple watch stopped giving me that, and I don't know how to get it back.  (Any ideas?) I may switch back to using my garmin because I do loves me some hill profiles.  Makes me feel all badass.

        

I'm assured by everyone who knows me that my progress will happen much faster this time than it did the first time.  Surprisingly, this seems to be true as my pace has already been dropping.

I did not track my eating this week.  (Bad girl! No biscuit!) Current weight: 184 lbs.  (EEK!) Although, I'm determined to focus on moving more, getting fit, and not staring at a number on a scale.  (But you know I will).

Best of all, a major pain in my ass who has endeavored to get me fired several times over the past few years left this week, for good.  As in, left the city and state.

I did not leave.  I'm still here.

I win, motherfucker.





Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I'm on my way.

This seemed like a good title for the post, not only because it's descriptive, but because the song "I'm on my way" by the Proclaimers is stuck in my head this morning. 

One of the good things to come out of my hospitalization in April was that I was paid for being in the hospital.  I had purchased one of those Aflac policies the year before, during open enrollment, thinking--what the fuck? I'm in my 50s.  I guess I should have one of these.  It not only covered the time I missed from work but some extra, too. So: new laptop, which means blogging is easier again.

I have a clean bill of health from the GI doc--Negative Cdif test, and all labs are normal.  The endo is still trying to normalize my thyroid; my TSH was 14 in the hospital, then went up over the next month, and now it's very slowly coming down after she doubled my medication.  The ENT has me on a nasal spray to control the rampant nose running that was causing the coughing that started all this mess.

My coworker abruptly quit in June and then dragged it out, long story, so that we couldn't hire anyone for 2 months, leaving me to do twice the work. Now I finally have a new coworker who is lightening fast with technology and knows children's services inside and out.  Seriously.  I show her something once and she gets it.  I've learned that I'm valued at work, and I'm grateful for a job that does what they can to make me happy.  My employer really puts a premium on self-care so that are flexible with my schedule.

I'm a strong hiker, but my running is blah.  I've started over with the same Couch-to-5K program that I used to start running back in 2005, but this time, I'm using the apple watch app.  Then I'll progress to 10K, and so on.  It's funny, because in 2005, I had the program printed on a piece of paper in a page protector.  How technology changes!

Starting September 1, each day, I do squats, lunges (ow), situps and pushups, the number depending on the day of the month.  I'll do that one more month and then switch it up, maybe to squat jumps and burpees.  Sweet baboo and I are doing 3 marathons this fall, which I may end up walking most of, but they'll give me states 46 (Illinois), 47 (Maryland), and 48 (New Jersey).
We're no longer excited about the 50 states.  We're all, "Let's just get this over with."  Our final states, which we'll do in 2019, will be North Carolina and Delaware.

I just did a 20 mile [run] hike in Oregon that was brutal.  The inaugural Old Cascadia course was at a 45 degree angle, either up or down.  Over 5000 feet of climbing in 20 miles.  It took me over 9 hours.

I just signed up for Black Canyon 50K.  It's an early season race in January that can be hot. I did the 20K back in 2015, I think.  Then I tried the 50K in 2017, and they had a freak multi-day rainstorm, there in southern Arizona (just north of Phoenix) that created unavoidable mud that sucked the shoes off my feet.  I timed out at the first aid station.  In 2018, around mile 19, I started seeing double and by the time I got checked out and rehydrated, I timed out again.  So 2019 will be my year. 
It better be. 
I hate Southern Arizona.  Like, really hate it. 
Seriously.  But I'm finishing this damned race.  I have several of their t-shirts, but the best one got accidentally left in a hotel room this year, and I want another one.

Just checking in.
...

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Dear Diary,

I'm sitting here, looking out the window.  I did 3 miles this morning.  Big whoop.  After recovering from CDiff last month, I got a cold.  Just a cold.  I guess.  For he past 2 weeks, when I've tried to go out and do a run, I've doubled over with coughing. Fucking coughing.  It's my nemesis.

At what point do I simply give up?

At what point do. simply say, "I'm destined to be sickly and coughing for the rest of my life.  The end."  ?

After recovery from Cdiff, for three glorious weeks I was working my way up to running most then mot of my workouts.  Then I dipped into a petris dish.  I bought a cold.  Just a cold.  I've been drowning ever since.  Coughing and choking, peeing my pants, and trying to walk 2 miles without coughing and choking.  I have a pain in my side.  I think I may be developing a hernia from all he coughing.

Will I ever be not sick?

Will I ever be normal?

I'm beginning to thing I won't.  I'm beginning to think I should accept that my life, as I had planned it, is not what I thought it would be.  I will not be an ultra runner.  I will be sickly.

that is not what I wanted my life to be.

I wonder if I will need to redefine myself as someone else.  Someone who is sickly and does some stuff.  I hate being this person, the whining person who has excuses and reasons.  I'm not that person.

Fuck.  I feel hopeless.


....

Monday, May 21, 2018

nowhere to go but up. (Part II)

Dear Diary,

So, I’d been admitted to Presbyterian hospital with a Clostridium Dificile infection and resulting colitis Friday afternoon, on the 13th.  The staff couldn’t have been nicer. They had a white board in my room and each shift change they would come in, introduce themselves, and write their names on it. One of the techs snapped a bright yellow band around my right wrist, signaling to everyone that I was infectious and if I left my room, I needed to have a mask, gloves, and gown on. 

But I wasn’t to leave my room, because I was on “fall precautions.” I had to be escorted any time I wanted to get out of bed. I was given morphine in my IV, and assorted other drugs.  I still had problems eating, and couldn’t sit up straight because my colon was so inflamed.  I struggled to eat macaroni and cheese and soup – it took me nearly 3 hours to eat that dinner; my inflamed colon was crowding out my stomach or something like that. I drifted off the sleep.  At 2 am they ultrasounded my liver, which involved the tech coming into my room because they didn’t want me leaving and infecting the rest of the hospital.  At 4 am another tech took one of many blood draws that I would get frequently during the day and night.  Otherwise, I was able to drift off into a nice morphine-induced nap. 

But that was just at night. That’s when the pain was the worse. The next morning, I was still pretty tired, but they discontinued the fall precautions, and the pain wasn’t so bad.  I napped on and off all day.

I also was relieved when I realized I had bought an Aflac policy the previous fall.  Throughout this ordeal I’d missed a week of work, was likely to miss another, and had no more PTO or sick leave left. I hadn't had more than a half day off for illness in the 6 years I'd worked at my job. I hadn’t taken multiple days of sick leave since having a baby in 1987. I worried that they hadn’t really needed me at work. 

I had time to sit and reflect, between episodes of Fixer Upper, et al. I realized I had fallen into a bad habit of self-care.  I'd been restricting and binging food.  I'd been skipping workouts.  I was stressed out, and way more invested in work than even they work required me to be.  I talked with Sweet Baboo about it, and he agreed that I'd been pretty stressed the past couple years.  

I deleted the work email app from my phone.  

That night, on the 14th, I took what was to be my last dose of morphine.  The pain was finally leaving.  I continued eating maraconi and cheese, soup, and peach tea.  

Baboo visited  frequently and taught me to play canasta.  He was busy washing everything at home with bleach, trying to get his long runs in, and looking after his mother, who had now of course, been diagnosed with C. Diff . That night, I requested one last dose of oxycodone, just in case.  But slept through most of the night.  It was my last dose of pain medicine, and the first full night of sleep I'd gotten in weeks.

On Sunday the 15th, I got to take a shower.  There’s nothing more amazing than a shower.  I also had a cheese omelet with a little bit of sausage. My liver enzymes were returning to normal.  I had a chicken sandwich and more soup. I was getting pretty tired of watching HGTV but it was really all that was on. I was getting antsy and was tempted to don the gown and gloves just to walk a lap around the 3rd floor.

On Monday, the 16th, the doctor said he was inclined to let me go home, but he wasn’t 100% sure.  I told him that if I went home Monday night, I could wake up in my own bed, go sit in the sunshine and walk on the path behind my house. They delivered my prescriptions to me bedside, a very cool service they have there at that hospital, and Baboo took me home about 8:00 that night. 

The next day, I struggled to walk a mile on the trails behind my house. It wore me out.  The following day, I walked 2 miles and slept for a couple hours afterwards.

I saw my family practitioner on Thursday the 19th, and she signed off for me to return to work. I was weak.  My PCP said, “you’ve burned through all your reserves.”  The 15-lb weight loss in less than a week wasn’t fluids, and it wasn’t muscle; it was an imposed fast that probably sucked all the glycogen out of my muscles.  I really felt like I was starting all over. My fitness had been eroded away.  

The first two weeks were tough, especially the day I set out to walk 6 miles and had to bag it at 5.5 miles. That was tough on me emotionally.

But, as long as I eat carefully and rest, my progress has been steady.  Last week, I started actually jogging longer lengths on the trails and did an 8-mile hike.  I had a brief setback this weekend, partially related to allergies, and maybe partly due to the increased mileage, but I rested this weekend, and then this morning I did a 4-mile hike-jog that felt pretty good.  I will never take strength for granted again.

Every time I get the slightest cramp in my stomach or gut, or feel tired, I worry that it’s coming back.  I take probiotics at least 2x a day and my post-workout smoothie includes a banana and kefir.  I search the internet way too much looking for assurance that this won’t come back.  

I’m afraid of lettuce because of all the E. Coli recalls.  I use a filtration pitcher at work.  I’m weirdly paranoid about germs and bugs now.  I won't eat stuff from the sample bowls at the store.  Obviously, there’s no guarantee that it won’t come back.  But hopefully, I can beat the curve.

I had to slowly add food groups back because nobody knew what kind of shape my gut was in, what good bugs were left, and what enzymes I might or might not have left. I am the probiotic queen.

I bought myself an Apple Watch, a little tech bauble to mark my new life devoted to good self-care, and to mark the end of this particular grueling experience.  I love all the kudos and chimes it gives me.  I also bought a laptop, which I haven' had in years, possibly why I haven't been blogging.  Blogging from my phone is a bitch.  

With respect  to my fitness, I am starting over.  I’m working my way up again.  I’m following a training plan that Himself and I devised. 

I canceled 3 planned endurance runs this past spring.  My next trail race will be more of an energetic hike, in Montana, called the “Rail Trail Run.”  It has a generous cutoff and I plan to take my poles and plenty of water.  It’s flat with a slight net downhill loss of elevation, and I’m really hoping I’ll be back close enough to finish it, even if I had to stop and rest every now and then. 

So that's it.  That was my spring.  And this is where I am now.  Starting over, from rock bottom.  

Nowhere to go but up.





 ...




What shall I do with my shiny, stress-free life?

Dear Diary, This week marked the end of six years of tyrrany.  A person in my life, who shall remain nameless, left town, never to retur...