New Year’s Resolutions

Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions?  Are they the same ones you make every year, or….are you branching out in 2016?

The lady is IRRITATING, but… Interesting ideas here.

I do like to make resolutions and then see where I end up 365 days later (we get an extra day this year too in February!!!)  But this year, I kind of struggled.  I want to make some athletic goals, but I’m really still in the early stage of healing and so most of those goals can’t really be implemented. In addition, life is happening while I am healing so, I need something to focus on in the meantime.

So here are a couple of goals for 2016.

My MAIN goal is to set myself up to return to running.  Oddly one would think I was doing this already but in reality, i think I was so hopeless when the surgery happened and the aftermath I was very nervous in the immediate recovery period, that I tried really hard not to think about it, and as a consequence…I am currently not ready to ru never if I was 100% healthy.  So what goals go under this?

  1. Eat correctly.  I have a super sweet tooth.

stock-illustration-15279384-sweet-toothSo this is going to be really hard for me. Like many people, I eat well for a few months and then settle into a pattern of take out…some junk food and what not.  When I prepare food that I like it’s pretty easy to avoid the junk… I just have to actually prepare it.

2. Do the exercise I can do…within moderation.

I was recently cleared to use the elliptical and the stationary bike as long as my knees don’t come up high. I started on the bike and increased from 10 minutes daily… My quads…my quads have been burning. After a few days, I added in the Elliptical.  So by the end of this week I was doing 10 mins of elliptical, 20 mins on the bike, 50  minutes of walking on the treadmill and 30 minutes of pool walking every day.  One day my legs just started to hurt.  I need to adjust somewhat because none of this moderate exercise will get me in great shape.  Doing too much does irritate the nerve which is still healing.  So in support of my L5 nerve, I’m going to support it by doing a little less. A delicate balance.

3. Manage my Money better.

I’m not crazy with money management, but I have a tendency to get very disorganized and to have late payments not because I was lacking money but because I put off sending the payment in.  Already this year, I seem to have lost an entire coupon payment book.  (I’d do it electronically but there isa  14.00 fee for electronic payment!).

So… What I have done is take 12 envelopes for the coupon payments, write 12 checks, dated appropriately and addressed and stamped them all.  Each month I need to grab one and mail it at the appropriate time. This SHOULD be easier than making the time to write the check out each month and look for an envelope and stamp, right?  We’ll see.

In 2015 I upped my automatic contributions to both my savings and retirement accounts. I didn’t up them very much, so I seem to still not be contributing the MAX to the Roth. This year, I will try to contribute as close to the MAX as possible. This may be a bit tricky as I am also trying to finish furnishing the home.

4. Volunteer

Since I hurt my back I’ve not done any volunteering at all.  None.  Zilch.  I did serve the community as I gave fairly generously to the food bank in November and also adopted an older lady from the tree at the gym and provided her with bed linens and a comforter and a new outfit.  I tried to volunteer several times.  Each time I relayed the information that my back was bad, and EVERY SINGLE TIME I was asked to do something insane for a healing back- like “Set up tents” or “Rake the field for long jump”.  So at this point, I really have to be careful about volunteering and I suspect if I sign up for something like helping a kid with homework, I might have a better chance of success.

5. One totally time specific goal…

 RUN The TURKEY TROT In November 2016.  I might be visiting my parents, but there is ALWAYS a Turkey Trot.  The Turkey Trot in Carlisle PA was my first running race that I remember doing. It was an untimed race and  I was so overwhelmed by the entire experience I never even looked at the clock when I crossed the finish.  In truth I’d prefer to be in Florida and run the race where I had a massive PR and got to run with a bunch of running buddies, but… we’ll see where I am.

6. I should have some work goals.  My Goal for work is to survive through 2016.  That’s it.  I did a ton last year- I was published, I served on committees that I didn’t want to serve on, I volunteered for a lot of stuff that I regretted.  So… Here’s to getting through 2016 with a job.

SO, let’s all go “Kill it” in 2016.

 

I’m not a radiologist

So, yesterday I went FINALLY to get my 6 weeks follow up X-ray.  It’s the end of the year and people have met deductibles so everyone is trying to fit in scans and other expensive tests. I waited 2 hours for films.  I am amazed and very proud that I was very adult and never asked about the wait and did not complain about it to anyone.  Waits happen.

I was hoping I’d be able to see some fusion on the film, essentially at this stage it would be fluffy white speck or something, but of course I’m not a radiologist.  Not at all.

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So this is what I saw.  Once I looked at the image a little more carefully (these are not the best images, because I snapped them with my phone when the technician wasn’t looking, though she did say they were my images so I’m sure she knew what I was doing…)

CWjC2UtWoAArnwk (1).jpgIt would appear there is a lot of fluffy white stuff between the screws, If you look at the vertebrae above there is a huge black gap and below there is a lot of fluffy white stuff.  So, it could be the start of fusion.  I’m not a radiologist, however, so it could be anything… Christmas Snow?

What did kind of alarm me, and also make the technician raise her eyebrows a bit was this film.

CWjDBj6WoAAwcRc (1).jpgWe both kind of looked at it and simultaneously tilted our head to the right… (If you didn’t tilt your head, let me know, because everyone I show it to does…) I said, well that looks odd.  She said, “Well I don’t know what the surgeon intended.”  I never saw my original post op front view films, the Doc told me they looked great. So I really have nothing to compare to, plus as mentioned before, I’m not a Radiologist.  This could be entirely due to the way I was positioned on the table, or it could be where the screw needed to go, or it could be that I bent the screw which would be amazing, considering I’ve not been doing ANYTHING.

So I drove home.  I’ve been having a large amount of radiculopathy (Right leg pain) and it’s been hard to manage it, so I was thinking, if it is caused by that screw, they can move it and that would be nice.  Then I started to think of the expense and time off work for another procedure….and then I just got very overwhelmed.  I mean, it isn’t the end of the world, but I’m really over my Lumbar spine controlling my life.

We have a nifty thing with our hospital system. It’s called the patient portal.  Once lab tests or X-ray reports are uploaded into the system, the patient can access them, with a handy bar that says (low/normal/high).  When I got home, I jumped on the patient portal to find that my X-ray was read as “Normal Post-operative changes”  I saw the Radiologist was using films from the day of my surgery (done after the surgery) as a comparison.    Because of this, I think I can assume that my former X-ray looked about the same.  I also am not 100% sure that the patient portal contains EVERYTHING on a report, just because I can not access my reports from anything done while I was inpatient, and I can’t access my operative reports. That said, from having to read a lot of radiology reports, the Rad guys and gals usually will mention if something appears to have moved/migrated/relocated from the comparison study.  Plus, if s screw moves, usually there is a dark portion around the screw. I don’t see that.

I’ll see the Doctor on Monday, and while he isn’t a Radiologist, he is a Neurosurgeon, and he is more than qualified to interpret things.

In the meantime, I am thinking about what kind of shoes I’m going to need next year for running.  Something with a narrow instep and a wide toe box… going to be tough to find, but I have a few ideas….A company that could send me out a few different styles to try would be welcome.  I know I probably can’t stay in the Saucony because every time I use them for walking they aggravate the damage to my foot… so something with a bigger toe box to minimize my big toe’s contact might do the trick…

I am excited for Monday…. I do think the X-ray shows beginning fusion, but that one screw has me kind of thinking a little bit too much about the whole thing!!!!

Wish me Luck!

Being Crew…and more.

This weekend I chose to be the crew for a distant friend who was running her first ultra marathon.  (a race longer than a marathon) in her case, she was running a trail 50K.

It may or may not have been the best idea so soon after the spine repair, but I’ve been feeling pretty good and most importantly I had agreed to do it.  Having experienced the support of a wonderful kayaker when I raced at Alligator Lighthouse this September, I felt like being crew for this woman was a way to give back. It was also a way to be part of the running community I miss.

It was a fairly fun experience.  My whole role essentially was to hang around the start/finish area, and wait for my runner who made 2 passes through the area during her run.  One the first pass I helped her change shoes and socks, get a drink and some pain control. On ether second I provided cool towels, more food/drink and encouragement. It was a little difficult for me; not to help her but to wait and wait in the hot sun.  For the rest of the time I did a number of thins.  I read a little bit.  I’ve been reading a collection of short stories my Dad sent me, Joy Williams, the Visiting Privilege. She is a good writer, but I’m not so sure I like her style, and her topics… SO DEPRESSING.  I snacked on a variety of things, took some short walks, taking a few pics of the lay of the land.

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I got to cheer all the finishers and talk to all sorts of people, other crew, other runners.  With little wifi and cell reception, people really spoke to each other.  This was a lot of fun. We all need to do this more often.  Post race, I drove 2 hours to return said runner home and take myself home.  It was a HUGE day for me, and when I got home I was so tired, I actually left the keys in the car with the car unlocked. Seriously. In the aftermath, I really want to run again. I want to spend time on those dusty roads, I want to see the things that she saw, rather than just the finish.. I want the hills and ruts and mud to reveal themselves to me…. but this is the big question… can that happen for me. I suspect lately that it will, but who knows.

Today was ok, I woke up tired and napped throughout the day.  I then embarked on some cleaning and cookie making… and maybe just maybe overdid it as I find that several neurological symptoms are returning.  I am moving more towards acceptance of the ongoing come and go of the nerve symptoms, though I have a small bit of hope that next year at this time, the come and go nerve irritation will be a thing of the past, I mean, the nerve is now unrestricted, and one would hope it might eventually calm down with a rare, occasional flare, rather than a frequent aggravation.

As part of attempting to deal with my on going symptoms I listened to  this radio cast.  In general I have found most of the resources on the web to be somewhat helpful, but this one didn’t do it for me.  I suspect that while this last year has been really difficult for me as far as pain and dealing with it, next year, may be a lot more difficult.  last year I spent the year chasing something that would “Fix” my spine… So, it was easy to have hope…. that I’d find the “cure all” or the perfect fix.

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Now it’s pretty much as repaired as it is going to get. So now, it’s sort of a wait and see how much it can improve, and learn to cope with what won’t.  If things really really improve and I only have to deal with nerve pain once in a while then I will probably go back to my old life with minor adjustments and feel much better.  If they don’t and I’m not able to return to some things, I’m going to really have to pretty much reinvent myself.  I have not really been able to come up wth anything I’d like to explore more.  I have to admit, I really really LOVED my life.  If I had really had a desire to do other things, I would have done them, so there is this moment.. of severe questioning of what will make me experience Joy again…and I suspect, but , I don’t know, that it is not crochet.  Even with all the swimming I did, it just did’t really “do it” for me.. The one thing I don’t want to do is to seek physician after physician in hopes of attaining something that may not occur, become the chronic patient.  so… I suspect that 2016 may be a year of watchful waiting… and listening to a lot ore TED talks…I have a feeling that it will be a deeply revealing year, and I’m not so sure I’m ready for all that reveal of emotions, thoughts, physical sensations etc…

Let’s look at 2014 Shall we?

2014 turned out to be kind of a nutty year.

Looking back at my goals I can see that I was feeling plenty optimistic about 2014…

I did some of what was on the goal sheet.  Not all.  Worst thing is that I did not make the entire year without major injury.  I had massive major injury, which did lead to a few discoveries, but lets talk about the good stuff first!

As far as running, I trained really very well. I worked well with my coach. We had a good year with ups and downs.  He had a baby, I had a herniated disc….which one of us is happier?

My biggest running highlight is Not, oddly, a race, but one particular workout which I won. (finally). For 3 years now, the Yasso 800 repeat workout shows up fairly regularly on my plan. It is a workout that I particularly loathe.  For me it is a workout which gives me the chance to feel as if I am wearing a crown of total glory, or one of Poo.

royal-crown03smtumblr_nato6fVnf61s2jlrho1_400For years the goal was to get to 10 800 repeats with a quarter mile rest in-between.  I’ve had so many failed ones, where I managed 4 of the 6 required for the week, or ran half a repeat and had to stop and start over again.  800’s are important, but they really produced a lot of anxiety in me. This year, I finally got over it and was able to just arrive, do the workout, and be done. I managed 11 800 repeats one day, because I find it a bit hard to count when simultaneously flirting with vomiting and dehyrdration. All the repeats were in my target pace range for the full marathon.  It was a great great moment. (the fact that I never was able to do the marathon kind of makes me cling to this as proof I was ready…)

Kind of strange that a workout would be my highlight, but I still smile when I think of that day. It’s a little bitter sweet, as it looks like I’ll not be able/allowed to train like that again in the future.

I started really doing open water swimming.  Prior to 2014 I had swam at Lucky’s Lake, a popular place, but as far as OWS, it’s pretty tame.  In 2014 I took on a 3.75 mile swim in the Indian River Lagoon which really did change things for me. It was one of the first things I attempted when I wasn’t 98% sure I could complete. A lot of people expressed doubt and I was proud to have finished right in front of the Mayor of the town of Melbourne. After that I managed a 2.5 mile swim in real Open water Ocean.  In addition I participated in the Alligator Lighthouse swim in the Keys, which didn’t work out that well due to Jelly Fish.  I’m glad I did this. I met a lot of new people and expanded my horizons.  Most importantly, and surprisingly, my confidence soared with each swim event, even the difficult Alligator lighthouse swim. Open Water Swimmers are a smaller group than runners. We all see each other at events so it has been nice to have that as a second thing that I “do”.  Plus I really don’t compete with my friends since they don’t really do it much.  So big plus…Open Water Swimming.

As far as my profession.

I am now Certified in Infection Prevention!  I do not have to do that again for 5 years.  Wahoo!!!

I have a new job which I think I will like a lot.

I was able to travel in August/September to Port Harcourt, Nigeria and assist with efforts to fight Ebola.  At the time it was, as it always is, a Huge hassle.  But…in the end I am very glad I went. I met some wonderful people, and some very not wonderful people.  I feel that we were able to make a difference, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to return to Africa.  Praying all the time for Ebola and Africa.

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And I got 100% on the first round of CMS validation- a process which gave me horrific nightmares.

So Nice work in career department.

In the “other” department…

I got to volunteer at several events with friends, including the Princess Half Marathon and the Special Olympics.

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And, I made some new pals in the lifeguards at the pool (New OWS kayak buddies! yes!) And ditched some people that were totally not healthy to be around for me.

The real bummer of the year was that in late october I had the herniated disk.  That thing is killing me.  I feel like a boat adrift  in a very big ocean without oars. We stopped the coaching which is appropriate, and in a way it’s a good time as new baby is all that is on anyone’s mind anyway, and there truly isn’t a lot to be done right now, but I miss our discussions and miss the common goal.  Despite this, I have had some remarkable healing since the injury and am very lucky to be able to move with relatively little pain at this point.  Looking forward to the repeat MRI and seeing what the new year brings.

 

 

 

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?

 

Product Review: Waterfi Waterproofed Ipod.

Living in Florida, it’s really pretty warm and humid 75% of the time.

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So, as a result, my little iPod shuffles were suffering.  Seriously. I’d buy one, or ask for one as a gift and about 3-6 months later it would inexplicably die.  The cause it would seem was SWEAT.  I run with my iPod and tend to just hold it in a hand.  The shuffle is tiny so it fits easily and I can then change the music quickly.  I tried clipping it to a shirt, but the headphones cord would just flop around, so I carry it.  And they all died.  I have a little iPod graveyard.  So I tried putting the iPod in a little plastic baggie.  Yeah, humidity condensed on the inside of the baggie…making it even wetter.

I finally bit the bullet.  I was actually looking for a waterproof option, assuming it wouldn’t be an apple product. But as I surfed around… I found Waterfi the company which seems to specialize in waterproofed products.

Right away I saw a waterproofed iPod shuffle!

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It does cost quite a bit more than a regular iPod shuffle.  The shuffle costs about 40.00 USD.  The Waterfi product is about 140 (the 154 is if you also buy the waterproofed headphones).  So I really thought about it for literally months.

I did eventually buy it some time I think in July.

It entirely works.  My awesome red iPod shuffle arrived, and has continued to work with no problems despite being drenched in sweat. I was delighted!!! I had music for all my runs, when I wanted it. The iPod didn’t short out, or stop mid run, nothing like that anymore. I was thrilled.  However…I am also a skeptic.  I didn’t want to write a review prematurely.  I had seen others swimming with a similar iPod at the lake, but it wasn’t me using the device.

After I got injured I was spending a lot of time doing this pool walking. After a few sessions, I was REALLY bored.  I remembered that I had this gem!  I pulled it out and have been happily walking with it in the pool for over a month now.  It may have been submerged once or twice even.  mostly though it’s been stuck to my swim suit strap and has had a lot of wet fingers adjusting volume or skipping songs.

Still working great.

A few things about the device.  With the waterproofing process the buttons are a bit stiffer and it’s a bit harder to press on them, but once you get used to that it seems natural.

They come in all the colors that normally would come with an iPod, so that’s pretty nice. I was able to get the RED one which was for AIDS awareness and was originally more expensive, but the waterfi one was the same price.  (of course, no money went to the AIDS relief either)…

Waterfi does come with a 2 year warranty, though it seems to be written in such legal terms that it seems that essentially Waterfi makes the final determination about if they want to replace a product or not.

SO… if you have a swimmer or water-exerciser on your list this is not a bad idea at all.  Not an inexpensive one, but knowing this is waterproof sure beats a plastic baggie and hope!

Rock on friends.

So now…we can all play in the rain, just like these awesome elephants!  Thanks WaterFi for a product that does exactly what it is supposed to do!

 

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…