2015 is here

I love New Year!  It is a time when we really do reflect, and make some plans and at least for 4-6 weeks charge boldly into new activities with fervor.

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I tend to do better with my resolutions that the average person, but I’m a person who has always loved lists and goals and things to check off.

This year I am going to really have to adjust my expectations and hopefully it will be an epic year in unexpected and delightful ways. I kind of have some doubts.

My first goal is to purchase and move into a home.  I have sort of a revulsion to home ownership, as I purchased my first home during the big home ownership BOOM prior to the BUST.  I then had a big life circumstance change and ended up selling the home right before the bubble truly burst. It was sagging and I essentially broke even.  The mortgage was actually more expensive than rent and my neighbors were difficult to say the least.  So my feelings on home ownership…are definitely negative.

That said, it is now several years later.  Rent in my community is Sky High.  My rental neighbors are for the most part good, but have been getting louder and louder. I have saved some money and now own my car etc, so have little debt.  I discovered if I can qualify to be one of the 20% of people under 55 for a “55+ active community”  I can get a modest home in what should be a fairly quiet community.  If I qualify I should be able to move in June.  I have an appointment to look at one they are newly building this week.  I am really feeling nervous about the whole thing, so I enlisted a friend to come along and smooth the way.  I am continuously reminding myself that the home purchase before coincided with a variety of life challenges that no longer exist, and secondly I was not really able to easily afford the mortgage.  If the mortgage ends up being what it is estimated to be with my current downpayment, this would actually save me some cash which would end up going to HOA and property taxes.  So financially it makes sense. Financially it should not be a hardship (except for the years and years of mortgage…) Emotionally…it is making me nervous.  It is so permanent.  If I fall in love with someone out at the coast, I will still have a home in the central part of the state.

Second goal is to really feel established in my job. I am doing much better there since my leg pain went away.  I just don’t feel fully settled. I think after the 90 day mark passes I will feel lots better.  That will be on February 12 or so.  Nothing to do there, except keep on keeping on.

Third.  I have toyed with this one in the past…State Park Visitation.  I love our state parks, and want to see all 161 of them.  I think I’ve bene to about 4.  So this year I am going to try to do some Manatee Viewing, some Spring swimming, and some hiking.   I’m going to go to one today, after I fully wake up.  Many parks allow dogs and so I will be attempting to bring Teucu-The-wonder-dog with me. I probably will see less wildlife, but it will be fun for him, and frankly some of the parks are a bit secluded and not well visited, I will be safer with the pup.

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Fourth.  Fitness. I typically have a pile of running goals with some fun swim things mixed in.  I am really up in the air about this one.  My main goal is going to get healthy enough that I can participate in fitness as I would like. I have some definite swim goals, and some running goals, but if I have the surgery all will change.  So my goal is to maintain some fitness activities and gain strength.

Beyond that.  There are books to be read.  Friends to spend time with. Experiences to be had that hopefully will be unexpected and pleasant.

What are your plans for 2015?  Anything large on the horizon?

 

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Spinal woes and joys….

Since my last blog post about my back/spine, it seems to have oddly improved greatly.

Super strange.

I went to a follow up appointment for pain management in early December. At the time I was still feeling some incredible neuropathy in my right foot.  Parts of my right foot would randomly start to have a sensation as if walking on hot coals.  (not that I’ve ever done that, but that’s I suppose how I imagine it would feel).  I described this to the Pain Management specialist who suggested Lyrica.  Lyrica is one of those odd medications, kind of an anti-depressant, used to treat people with Fibromyalgia, etc. I gave him an odd look and said, “Well there is surgical repair of this defect”.  He seems to think that a crazy notion. Here’s what I think is crazy:

Some of the most common side effects of LYRICA are dizziness, blurry vision, weight gain, sleepiness, trouble concentrating, swelling of your hands and feet, dry mouth, and feeling “high.”

So, I could start taking a drug that would clearly not FIX my problem, and would cause several other problems, or I could have a surgical repair of the defect in my back.  Sometimes I really wonder about Pain Management Specialists.

Anyway the odd thing is that the next morning I woke up feeling much better. (No I didn’t start taking a bunch of psychoactive medications).  I noted I was moving a lot better and thinking a lot less about moving.  Over the next week or so I reduced and eventually stopped the neurontin, and oddly, many of my Nerve pain issues went away.  My foot and outside calf are still numb, but not painful.

My coach and I discussed.  He examined and concurred that there is clinically some improved nerve function compared to October and November. We were both pretty excited, me more than him, I’m sure.

I started to do a lot of modified exercise. Initially I started doing these because I wanted to be in optimal shape for surgery. After the progress I made I started to talk more and more about canceling the surgery and being healed.  I noted that Mr. Coach would get very silent and just look at me every time I started that talk.

Yeah, uh.  My foot still has some very limiting neurological symptoms.  I still walk pretty slow, and I can’t run except in the pool, which is not really running.

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So.  I’m keeping the surgical appointment.  I know that statistically 90% of people with a herniated disc heal after 2 years without surgical intervention.  Two years is not a short healing time, and I’m not so sure about waiting.  If I find in January I can start to run again, without pain, and the MRI comes back Improved, I may put it off until March,April, May so I wouldn’t have to request specifically Medical Leave for surgery.  (So much easier to just take the time off rather than petition HR and my Manager for the time off).

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The funny thing.  My improvement has pretty much stayed the same.  I am not noticing any more improvement in symptoms.  I was kind of hoping I was on a healing trajectory and that daily or weekly I would see tiny improvements.  I had that massive improvement in pain symptoms and now it’s at this plateau.

I wish I knew what the right choice would be, this one is a tough one.

Life’s Little Updates

So….

I suppose after all the Lighthouse Loop Aftermath, I should probably post a little bit of an update.

My life has really changed somewhat from lots of running and swimming and biking and work to…. lots of couch and work and planning activities that require movement VERY carefully.

I did have an Epidural Injection early on this week. I detailed that over on my training blog.

I have been pleasantly surprised that with each passing day I am seeing some slight improvement so that my activity tolerance has improved each day.  The pain has decreased and while it is still quite present, it is manageable.  Now, I would not like to live my life like this for forever but it is managable.  I do think if I get similar improvements with my next two injections I might actually heal myself of what every physician has agreed was a really rather large injury to my spine.

The only exercise I am allowed is walking in the pool.  This is two things: a bit boring, and VERY COLD.  I am not walking very fast and thus don’t generate heat, and while it’s Florida…it’s still cold in the evenings.

I have signed up to do a virtual race – in the pool.  It’s an odd concept, but it has motived me to get in when I didn’t want to.

The other amazing thing this week is that I started my new job on Wednesday.

I was quite concerned given my back is not great.  It has worked out so far fairly magically.  I arrived. My NAME is on the door to my OFFICE.  Yes folks I have an office with a door that shuts and locks.  We discussed getting business cards, something I was flat out denied at the other place, immediately.  I was then issued a destop and a laptop, as well as a myriad of office supplies.  Then I was told to manage my time appropriately and not to worry too much about it.  I tested that today accidently by arriving at 0811 am.  I left the house late and true to form my leg doesn’t cooperate that well in the morning hours.  Everyone has understood entirely about my back and has not expected me to go jaunting about the hospitals.  Yahooeey. This relaxed introduction indeed had something to do with them not being entirely prepared, but…that also worked in my favor as I adjusted, spent some moments simply laying on the floor to take pressure off my back, and fooled around.

I realized on my way home that I really had been unhappy at the old job.  I felt so much freedom in one day, and it was just entirely such a better atmosphere.  NON-toxic.

SO breath of fresh fresh air in the employment field.

It is also a good distraction to have while dealing with injury…so many new things keep my mind off the fact that my running season is rather done. I know nothing is going to rescue it, but having to learn about parking, cafeterias, figuring out which units are my units, managing some obligations at the old hospital…well, I have less time to dwell on it.

My second distraction is of course it is Operation Christmas Child time….whoo Hooo!  I enjoy doing this so so much!  this year I had some extra finances so I will be doing 5 boxes.  I’ve made some photos and will be posting a new OCC post. My old post form 2011 still gets a lot of web traffic. Drop Off is this weekend.

I’m thinking very carefully on the running and I know I’m pretty upset….there are a lot of races I have not enjoyed that I want to in the future, so…wishing good healing thoughts to me. 

 

Still that said, the odd horizontal work place “violence” is gone, replaced with normal co-workers and new challenges…so at least I’ve got something to dig into.

My biggest frustration is that I have no good reading material. Given my new tolerance for some activity, I may be able to remedy that this weekend at the Library.

Now just Hurry up

The project is on.  I fly out Thursday night.

Admit I’m a bit nervous as I have not been in Nigeria for about 10 years.  (Man, I am old..I actually feel old.) In addition, I travel alone for most of the first part of the journey. Not so thrilled about hitting Lagos all by myself lonesome, but having done it before I can do it again.

This is particularly good timing, as my coach examined my back last night. He poked and prodded and threw me up on the table and pulled and pushed on it and said, Yes, you have strained your QL.

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Exactly “how” I did it is a bit of a mystery.  It really isn’t that bad a strain but it is noticable when I do certain things, like sit-ups.  He did actually work on it a bit and this morning it feels a bit better.

That said. I will be resting and not doing a ton of running while over there.  Or Maybe I will be doing treadmill running.  The hotel states we will have access to the “Triple A fitness center”  but what that is, is always a bit of a mystery.  Chances are, given the location, that it will possibly be nicer than my home gym.

There has been some criticism of the entire project…of all projects, People stating that there are “too many people on the ground”  but in reality, there really are not that many people on the ground doing this work, and in my defense, we are going as a pre-emptive measure to teach the proper use of this protective gear.  I myself did not think I was very knowledgable, until i spent monday on a hospital systems wide conference call and realized that I do know a few things.  And well…maybe there are too many people.  Some times good intentions are just that.

So we will see…

First week of February Wrap up–Finding Paradise in Hell.

The first week of February was kind of a strange one for me both for training and for work.  My social life is pretty quiet.  (I have some good friends I see and my coach, and then there is the upcoming California trip to see my forever friend.)

I got a very regular workout plan that ended up being modified mostly by my work schedule.   Highlights and lowlights…

Monday marked the return of the Swim, Run, Swim, Run workout.  I was up for it, but apparently my body wasn’t. Who knew? Got through it. Swam, Ran,Swam, Ran…but I didn’t really love it.  I told me coach at the end that it was “SO HARD”  He reminded me that it was SO AWESOME.  I’ve renamed the workout the “Laundry Generator”.  I ended up feeling a bit like I’d been churned up in a washing machine. and believe it or not, there is a dance called the Washing Machine…

I recommend my workout over that dance.

 

Wednesday I did a little tempo run, which ended up being REAAALLLLLYYYY not a tempo run.  I was not feeling great, and the weather was quite warm, and I seemed to get going and then run out of steam.  The tempo was also increased this week by a half a mile, so perhaps I didn’t really pace it right because of the distance.

Saturday I missed my Brick entirely due to a work “retreat”  (8 hour meeting.)  The retreat served to increase my work stress.

Today I ran Seven.  I had stayed up late watching Sage win our US Gold Medal. I thought my run would be miserable and I admit to feeling dread and irritation…mostly mixed with true fear.  for some reason 5-6 seemed like short runs.  Seven suddenly seems on the edge of mid-distance.  As I was fooling about this morning I reminded myself this used to be the distance of my Saturday Brick run, the day before a 20 miler.  It never gave me much pause then.  The run went SUPER.  At first I was feeling so good about it, I thought, ah I am finally seeing progress.  Then I realized I had pretty much skipped the brick, so my legs were just super fresh.

So overall for the week:

8000 yards/meters swimming about 4.7 miles of swimming.  NO Wonder I was a little bored of the water.

Running Miles 18.5 ish.

Cycle miles WHAT? only 25.  I’m ok with that.  Missed the brick.

My coach is handling me with kid gloves with training.  When I told him I couldn’t do the Brick on Saturday, he initially said- skip it totally.  When I discovered that it might be possible, he still wanted me to skip or reduce.  I was thinking why didn’t he write a reduced workout to begin with then? He seems kind of nervous in the last month as we build.  I know he is just concerned, so, all I do is consistent work, and continue uninjured, and eventually I hope he will relax just a bit.

Work issues are hitting me left and right. My main issues are trying to prepare for the Joint Commission for accreditation. For the most part I am confident but there is one area of sterile processing that is terrifying me.  I’m not getting loads of help from the folks that do the sterile processing either.  So Nightmare.   Mid run today I had a thought, “I should just quit, this is making me so unhappy”.  There is a concept of finding paradise in Hell.   I am trying to embrace this, but I have to admit, the book focuses on people who are involved in human crises, where people cooperate and work together.  I’m involved in a situation which promises to be critical, but I can’t get anyone to cooperate.

Secondly, I am still trying to prepare for the certification exam.  Second chapter went much better than the first.  My post test was 73% right off the bat and showed some areas which with memorization will be no problem and would have raised the score probably to 80%.  I have heard the review questions are harder than the reality, I sure hope so.

So I am working to mitigate the stress, but the major way for me to do that is to mitigate the circumstances.  I find it difficult to forget about an issue unless I have it close to solved, or have a plan to get it solved.  In the cases of the processing thing and the exam…welll….

Give this Christmas Away

Today My back feels somewhat improved.  It’s no longer spasming, but just sore and it feels, if you will, fragile.

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That said, I think I can manage to haul in the goodies I have acquired for the local kids toy drive…

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I managed to accumulate quite a bit here and there. Mostly small stuff, but some good videos, the ever loved Hot Wheels cars and Barbie.  The stuffed doggies were on sale and I had originally intended them for the Operation Christmas Child Boxes.  They did not fit.  Instead of saving them through the year, I decided to just donate them locally…So…I’ll be dropping them off today at the local toy drive collection box at our gym.  I was thinking of getting more stuff yesterday, but then I remembered, December has been a very expensive month for me.

In December, I always have to pay for car insurance.  I also just bought a plane ticket for Christmas which was of course, outrageously expensive.  (We couldn’t decide where Christmas would happen this year, so I had to wait until we made up our minds.)  In addition, there have been several expenses associated with my low back injury.  Some very overt (extra massage session, prescriptions, lost work time) and some covert (Having to buy the smaller item for things like dog food and laundry detergent because I can’t carry the large one).  And of course the gifting of people I actually know. Plus it seems to be the month of purchasing new clothing for work (desperately needed), new running shoes, and such.  While that was all obtained via sale, it still is an expense.  So as much as I’d really like to fill that toy drive box with basketballs, and softballs, I am going to refrain from going crazy.

The only things left that I have for Give this Christmas away are my VISA gift card and the pass for Disney.  Going to give that over to my coach, for his family that is grieving, unless he wants me to wait until I get the second pass in February.

Next up, New Years Resolutions.  All this couch time with my back has surely given me time to reflect and ponder!

Gratitude.

That must be the theme of the quarter.

So, Ive strained my back.  This is a new thing for me and wow,  I see now why back injuries are so absolutely debilitating.  Day one, I could hardly move, and ended up getting to work late and being sent home because I couldn’t stand up.  I must have looked pretty bad.  My Boss offered to drive me home, and then the Critical Care Intensivist MD offered something similar.

I found it much more difficult to sit in this injury with thankfulness.  Firstly the pain was really strong, and hard to predict.  Secondly as this was completely new, I was a bit scared.

being_thankful_cardThankfully low back injuries are not new to anyone else it seems.  My coach knew what to do to help me.  My Massage person knew what to do and one of the ED docs knew exactly what to prescribe.  I even emailed a PT I know from a race a long time ago, and he knew what to do.  I felt a lot of pain and fear, but as I interacted with everyone for help, it was delivered in a seamless, and kind way…and I started to realize this isn’t some freakish injury, this is a common one AND people do know how to help this.  So very thankful for that.

I’m thankful that this happened NOW.  My racing/running season has already been gutted. I am about 24 days out from my goal race, SO, if I had been in tip top shape and this had happened I would have been even more devastated.

So what to do?  Well, when I was laying on the table with the TENS unit attached, I was listening to music.  Now, I was listening to the IHeart Radio  Gospel station, so no doubt I knew I’d hear something inspirational.  But this came on and it was really…kind of perfect for where I am at.

The Hebrews 11 and 1 that he refers to is this:

 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  NIV.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. KJV

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. NLT

So I’ve decided to just go with it.  This is going to get better.  I’m gonna start to run strong again.  So with that faith, I’m going to plan my race season for 2014.  My goal is 2 marathons and some half marathons.  Maybe a couple of fun 10 and 5K’s thrown in there.

And it looks like this is a great time to study study study for my certification exam.

Leaning in on Hebrews 11:1.  I know I’ve got one of those HUGE blessings coming.