If You’re Not First You’re Last

Since I started back to school reading for leisure is not something I get to do very often. So while I was on my flight to MN last week I was able to get caught up on a few of my back issues of Runner’s World. One of the articles I read was titled Dead Freakin Last…and Proud of It! This was a great article about those who are the very last to finish races. In the Genesis Running Program, I did they always have a Sweeper to be sure no one in the program is last in the race which is a really cool thing to do. But as I read this article I remembered I had actually run a race many years ago in 2004. I totally forgot all about it!

I was working in an Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse Program at a local hospital, at that time was just playing around with the idea of running a 5k. I was not in shape at all, I barely walked let alone ran anywhere and I was a little overweight. I was playing around with trying to eat better but no real commitment (my how things have changed). Anyway, one of my colleagues was a runner and we had talked about her running and me getting into running but nothing really came of it; until she had me talked into running a 10k, yes you read that right a 10k! Looking back on it now I had no idea what I was thinking, I didn’t even know what a 10k was at the time, the complete lack of knowledge I had about the sport of running and running in general, geeze! What made this idea even worse was where this race was taking place at Kanawha State Forest one of the State Parks in WV.  It’s a hilly beast, so this made it even more of a bonehead moment for me. I knew nothing about form, proper shoes, clothes, I looked like I was from the Island of Misfit Runners. My colleague for all her good intentions and having confidence in my ability to do this race but she didn’t help me to prepare for it all. No practice runs, nothing. I don’t remember much about the complete race; more so just the end. I remember being really exhausted and fighting to finish it, and people passing me. I thought I was going to die, my legs hurt so bad and I felt heavy. I was a hot sweaty mess. My colleague, her name was Robin, was with me the whole time. But I did finish this race and I was absolutely Dead Freakin Last!! I remember being a little embarrassed but I honestly was too tired to care. However, when I finally crossed the finish line folks clapped for me as I crossed. I don’t know if they were happy for me that I finished or if they could finally get on with the awards 😂 But here’s the funny part….I won my division! Haaaaa! The caveat is I was the only one in my division but I didn’t care I got my prize like I beat a million people! I hobbled right up there accepted it. The next day and next several days, I was never so glad to have a bathroom on the first floor. My legs hurt so bad I could barely stand let alone walk. 🤕

Until I read this article I had completely forgotten about this race. I searched through some things and found the medal (my very first) from that day. I didn’t realize the significance of this medal until now. Finishing DFL isn’t the worst thing that can happen, Had it not been for that race my first 5k and half-marathon may not have been possible. It is because of that first race and finishing DFL I learned how strong I was, I’m a fighter and if I set a goal I’m going to meet it.

Fishing Dead Freakin Last may not be a bad thing 😉

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Let The Healing Begin

Today was my first day of physical therapy. I went to the Center for Pain Relief and Physical Therapy.

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The staff here, unlike the staff at the main office, were very friendly from the front office staff to everyone in the back. It makes a big difference. The interesting thing is I used to work in this building with the psychiatrist upstairs. When they set up this appointment and giving me directions, (it’s not the easiest place to find), I was like Oh! I used to work there! No problem! I know exactly where it is.

Anyway, my physical therapist’s name is Mindy. She was FABULOUS! She did a very thorough assessment and history. She listened to what I had to say and gave me feedback. She was just great. I have a great deal of weakness primarily on the left side as those of you who have been reading this blog already know.. After some testing, she told me there was also a weakness with my adductors (I had no idea about that until she demonstrated it…wow)…and there is just a little weakness on my right leg even though the right leg was stronger overall. My core needs work too. It’s amazing how quickly what you can lose in 6 months, but she told me it may not be too bad I would probably have muscle memory (I think that was the phrase). She could also notice my hips shift when I walked, I thought something like that was going on, it felt as if my gait was off like I was walking uneven or something.

Mindy “worked on” several different points on my hip and piriformis to loosen it up or release the tension. I had been hurting today, it wasn’t one of my better days. Then she had me do a few exercises like a press up. Me pushing up on my hands while laying on my stomach when I start to hurt. I’m to do that at least three times a day. Another is to lay on my back pulling my belly button to the floor working on my core, doing the kegel exercise for stabilization. Also doing this same exercise throughout the day when I’m sitting which helps to correct my posture. Amazing, I didn’t know how much I slouched until she showed me how to sit correctly by doing this exercise. I can do it anywhere, anytime. She also gave me a Lumber Roll for my chair which helps my posture and to do this exercise. I used it in the car on the way home I couldn’t believe the change in my posture. She also had me to squeeze a ball between my legs while doing that last exercise which also helps to strengthen my core as well my adductors, you should have seen my knees shaking trying to keep that ball in place. I can’t believe how weak my legs have gotten.

It’s going to take some time but at least I now know what needs to be done. She also said I could do some walking, no running, but I could walk as long as I wasn’t in pain and it was flat. That was cool. So I’m going to be seeing her weekly, hopefully, twice a week, my work schedule is causing some issues. I also have to be out of town the end of next week for school. But at least I have the exercises to do in between sessions. I’m feeling pretty good about this she was reassuring, it’s just going to take time and patience. When I left today the pain I was in going into the appointment was alleviated little. That was a hopeful sign.

Brand New Game Plan

After three doctors, two MRI’s, an EMT the verdict is still not very clear but the long and short of it all is I have a little arthritis in my spine and a pinched nerve. It could get worse, maybe not. That is was my neurologist told me on Friday. I wasn’t very happy with what he told me because he kept referencing my age, which I think is complete BS. He knows I want to be able to get back in the game and we both actually joked if someone else had heard this news, they would be off to the social security office to collect disability 🤣 it’s true! Anyway, the neurologist knew I was upset, he told me about some of his issues, and that he still runs but stops when it becomes uncomfortable. He also said to do what the pain doctor told me to do, the physical therapy and possibly pool exercise to build the muscle in my left leg. The injections have not been scheduled yet pending the approval from the insurance company.

So I had my moment about the news. In retrospect, compared to other people and other issues it’s not bad. I still had both legs, to stand on and use. People have overcome much worse than this and have done incredible things. Venus Willimas is playing in the French Open and had to sit out of tennis for a year because of an illness, now she is back getting some serious butt. So I can do this, I was being seriously impatient and frustrated, so I started doing my own research about running with a pinched nerve and arthritis in the spine. Physical therapy seems to work best for it. Once I start that I will see what other exercises I can do while I’m doing PT. I also looked at getting a bike, already picked one out but I’m going to ask the physical therapist if I can do this before I make that investment.

I also have to work on my diet vegetables are antiinflammatories but I’m picky about the ones I eat. So I’ll have to increase the ones I do like to be sure I’m getting enough. This can help to decrease the pain. From what I’ve been reading that’s why many who have back pain or chronic pain either go vegetarian or vegan it helps significantly decrease if not eliminate their pain.

That’s the new game plan with adjustments to be made as needed. My physical therapy starts June 1st. I guess I’ll need some new tunes for my playlist you know powerful yet motivational Rocky type stuff that will get me up those steps. Any suggestions are welcome.

100 Followers…😊

I started this blog in April 2015 to journal my way through a running program to completing my first 5k, and also as a way to hold myself accountable to be sure I completed the program. I had no idea if anyone would actually read it. There are so many blogs about running as I’ve discovered. I also didn’t know if I was that good at writing to tell you the truth; it was mostly my random thoughts about my experience through the Genesis Running Program to see if I could actually complete that first 5k. As I wrote each post I was surprised to find there were people who were actually reading this blog and were interested in what I had to say. This helped with the accountability of completing the program. And I also found out what how supportive the running community is both virtually and in real life. The support and encouragement I found through this blog from all those who followed it was incredible. Matt the coach from the Genesis Program uses the post Remembering The Why as part of the week 5 message for the runners in the program now. That’s so cool and such and honor that a program that inspired me so much I am now part of that.

I found the same motivation and inspiration when I started training for my first half-marathon also through the Genesis Program. The bloggers here were also very supportive and followed my journey through that as well. Now with my injury, the support has also been there as well as good advice. I do my best to stay positive here, who wants to read negative drama 😀

So thank you to all of you who read and followed this blog and have been supportive of my journies and stories.

Thank you

Who Inspires You?

That was a question I asked my groups this week at work. Actually, I asked who their role models/heroes were in an attempt to get them to see and understand there are many examples of people who have overcome challenges and they could apply that to their sobriety. Of course, there is always a method to my madness, this exercise also helps to keep them from being a perpetual victim to addiction and their circumstances, at least in theory that what was the goal.

I started the exercise by giving examples of people who have and do inspire me. It’s changed over the years and circumstances. I read a lot of inspirational things; the blogs that a follow are full of inspirational people who are challenging themselves to go the next level. I’ve read books about people who have overcome addiction by using running such as David Clark. He was addicted to drugs/alcohol and food now he’s an ultra marthaon runner. If you have not read his story I highly recommend. The people who complete the Genesis Running Program the program that got me started running are some of the most inspirational people you could ever meet. Barbara who I met through Genesis has become a mentor/friend, and btw finished third in her class at the Greenbrier Half-Marathon yesterday..go, Barbara! Has become one of my running role models.

Anyway, as I did this exercise with my groups last week I was amazed how many (just about all of them) had not given any thought to who their role models were and honestly most gave answers they thought I wanted to hear. One person, in particular, said there was no one who was a role model to her, no one who inspired her. No one on the planet earth. Yes, I asked that question. I didn’t entertain it because I knew what was going on, and it’s not just with my groups. I’m seeing it a lot all over the place…this need to be a constant victim. If she had identified a role model it meant there was a possibility she could overcome whatever it was she is going through as well. No more excuses. Will be difficult to get through it? Of course, is necessary to make the changes to get through it? Yes. Anyone we admire will tell you their accomplishments didn’t come easy.

We as humans are not all the unique if we are really honest about it. If I had a dime for every time I heard “you don’t know me” seriously I would be sitting pretty. Our problems are about the same, they may come wrapped differently but basically, they are the same. Even with my current issue, I know someone has had this issue and gotten through it as I’m sure I will. Although I will admit I’ve been very frustrated by it I won’t lie. And I’ve been in sort of a space the last few weeks, the trick is not to stay there and get stuck. Yesterday was not a good day I really wanted to be at that race. But I couldn’t even stand as a spectator, yesterday was one of my not so good days. So today I rested, heat and ice, I feel a little better today. I’ve read some read inspirational blog posts today which helped me to refocus. I don’t know about my client’s but I know I will be back on track to the goals that were set.

So who inspires you?

 

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Maybe Next Spring

It’s been an interesting week well actually it started last Friday after I took my grandmother to her doctors’ appointment which I mentioned in my last post. When I left off in my last post I was having difficulty moving that Saturday well that lasted the whole weekend. I could not move all weekend and even missed two days of work this week. I don’t remember when I ever been in so much pain. I couldn’t sleep in my bed so the recliner was where I tried to sleep. I tried my acupressure mat for relief, my heating pad, ice, it was so bad I finally said uncle and took some pain medicine I had here at the house; I just couldn’t take it anymore. That was the first time I had taken anything since all this started. I felt like I had been defeated. But taking the medicine did allow me to get some much needed sleep.

In the meantime, I had gotten the referral to the pain doctor, the appointment was scheduled for this past Wednesday at 8 am. By this time I was feeling a little better at least I was able to walk and be in the vertical position. YAY! I was still having some pain, however. Anyway, I get to the doctor’s office, and let me say this, his front line staff were not the friendliest of people, very robotic, no eye contact, it wasn’t very welcoming. Maybe they don’t realize how important their role is to patient care. But the staff in the back wasn’t any better. Eventually, the Dr comes in all smiles, the first person to smile during this whole experience, in his suit with a resident, also in a suit. Interestingly enough the doctor is also a runner, from what I hear a pretty competitive one. He’s run the New York City Marathon a few times. He told me he’s worked with many runners so he understood my desire to get back to it. He did his examination and reviewed my MRI. He agreed with the neurosurgeon, that surgery wasn’t needed. He did see some thickening of the spine, minor stenosis, for which he recommend two injections.

He was concerned about the weakness in my left leg; he said it was significant and ordered physical therapy for that and my core. He said if we don’t get that strengthened up it could be like a car that is out of alignment and the damage it can do to the tires except the damage would be to my back. So I asked the question…”when can I get back to running? To which he said to me “maybe by next spring“. I was like WHAT??!! I’ve got the Charleston Distance 5k in August and the Marshall University Half-Marathon in November that I’ve already registered for coming up (oh he’s running in the CDR 15 Miler and MU-Marathon). He just said yes, and maybe there is a possibility I could be ready in November but not to get my hopes up.

I went back to work after that appointment the first day this week I had been at work.  I was still having some pain too I took my heating pad to work with me. I was aggravated all day, I probably shouldn’t have gone in. I really couldn’t focus my mind was all over the place, as a therapist that’s not a good thing when my job is to listen to what people are saying. I think I’ve been doing my best to remain positive about this whole thing I had just had it. When I got to work someone asked me how it went and her response was “well you did turn 49 this year” and that sent me through the roof!! I’m like really!? My age doesn’t have a damn thing to do with this. Sometimes the State I live in drives me crazy. I’m a healthy, fit person, so keep your age stuff to yourself.

It’s been a tough week and I’ve been preoccupied with this all week. For some reason, I still don’t feel like there is a resolution. So I started looking up research regarding diet and chronic pain, stress, and chronic pain to find out if there could be a possible connection there as to cause and effect. I did get a call today to schedule physical therapy which the first session/assessment was set for June 1st. No word on when the injections will be done.

See you at the finish line…..maybe next spring….

Cataracts, an EMG, and a Loss

The last two days have been a bit stressful, to say the least. I’ll start with yesterday and work my back. My grandmother had a scheduled appointment to have the first of her cataracts surgeries yesterday so it had been on my calendar for a couple of months. She had to be at the hospital at 7 am; I choose an early appointment because she would have to go back later that evening for her follow up since the appointment was on a Friday. Now being there at 7 didn’t mean being seen at 7..oh no. We got her checked in, honestly, we didn’t have to wait too long before she was taken back to begin being prepped. The staff at the hospital was great from the woman who checked her in, the nurse who took her back, the nurses who worked with her to get her prepped, everyone was good to her. I stayed as long as I was allowed to and then I was given a beeper like you would be given if you were waiting on a table at a restaurant and sent to back to the waiting room. When she was back in recovery that would be beep to let me know I could come back. The surgery would take about 15-20 minutes. So I went to the waiting room, checked my classroom for my Qualitative Research course that just started and got caught up on posts while I waited. Before I knew I was beeping and she was finished I went back there she was on the bed with the blue surgery hat on and a clear patch on her right, obviously not in her right mind 😂 I would post the picture I sent to my uncle but I that would just be wrong..HA!!! Anyway, we were given her instructions and told she has to come back to the Dr.’s office at 4:45 that afternoon so the doctor could check her. So we went to breakfast at Bob Evans.

In the meantime, the previous day I had received a call from my neurologist regarding the referral for the EMG. Since I had taken the day off for my grandmother’s appointment I thought it would be easy; I would just schedule it for Friday afternoon. I told her to tentatively schedule the appointment for Friday afternoon if I didn’t think I could make it I would call them. Well, I didn’t think I would have to take my grandmother back to the doctor later that afternoon. So I called and we scheduled the appointment for  1 pm and that would give me enough time to take my grandmother home, leave go to my appointment, go back and get my grandmother to be sure she would make it to her follow-up appointment. Can I have a clone, please?

I get to my neurologist and I have to say by this time for some reason, I am in quite a bit of pain that only became increasingly worse throughout the day, it hasn’t been this bad for some time. I’ve never heard of an EMG before so I had a lot of questions about what is was and what it entailed. Okay, now, can I just say OUCH!! Those shocks hurt! I was like REALLY DUDE! Then he says to me the shocks are over; I was laying down so I wasn’t looking at him. Then thing I feel is a big stick I can’t really tell you what I said to him (that would not be appropriate). I said: “I thought you were done shocking me?” He said, “I did this is a needle”. When I looked I was like that a big fraekin needle..now honestly that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I was hurting. I don’t even have a problem with needs but I was just not in the mood. When it was all over he said he thinks I may have a small pinched nerve (yet another diagnosis, geeze). But that does not explain the pain that I’m having, which he could see I was in at the time. So he ordered another MRI this time of my hip and physical therapy. My only issue with having another MRI is I will have to take my belly button ring out again, and it hard to get back in the last time..oh well. 😉 I can check with the physical therapist to see if should still do yoga at the same time. Right now I can barely move let alone get into downward dog pose.  So that was my appointment. Now I was off to get my grandmother to take her back to the doctor.

I get back to her house, she had taken a nap, we both had gotten up early, of course, she is 93 so she was tired. She was ready to go sitting in her chair with the glasses on they gave her looking like Ray Charles. It was hilarious. I had to take a few minutes because I was in quite a bit of pain but pulled it together to get her into the car. We get to the doctor’s office and it was like walking into a Ray Charles look-a-like contest, everyone from that morning at the hospital was at the office waiting to be seen in their glasses. The doctor was running behind a little so there was somewhat of a wait but once he got there he was on it. She was good, no swelling, she said she wanted a banana split. So I got her one and something solid to eat too. I took her home got her settled, when I left she was sitting in her chair eating her banana split, she was fine. I, on the other hand, was hurting so bad I could barely stand. I left her house stopped by the store got me something to eat, came home to my heating pad and gravity reclining chair and that’s where I was the rest of the evening.

I didn’t sleep well at all. I couldn’t get into a position that I wasn’t hurting. So about 5 this morning I gave up (should have done earlier) came downstairs to the recliner and heating pad and managed two solid hours of sleep. I’m still in the chair now as I write this post. But this time I gave in and took an Aleve. I haven’t taken anything so far for this but this time I need relief from the pain, which I would think is inflammation. So today, I think I’m going to be in the house. It’s supposed to rain today so at least it’s not a nice sunny day out.

Like I said when I started this post the last two days have been stressful. Thursday morning just before I was about to do my first group of the day, I received a call from my former manager where I worked prior to my current job. She told me one of my former clients, a woman who had done really well, had died. I was devastated, I lost it. She was 23 years old, I was with her when she had her first baby. Even after 26 years of working in this field (substance abuse) that call never gets any easier. I tried to pull it together before the group started but I couldn’t; so like a good therapist I just used it. They cold tell something was wrong so I told them what happened, no names of course. And then proceeded to use it as a therapeutic tool for them. They will talk about people they know who have died or overdosed, and it’s as if they are talking about a stranger, no emotional connection at all. They could see I was visibly upset about this loss. Sometimes I believe my clients think this is just a job for me and they don’t take this as seriously as they need to, and they don’t really understand they’re lives are at stake. I understand I am powerless as to whether or not someone stays sober, relapse or dies but that does not make that call any easier. Her funeral is today, I typically don’t go to those primarily for confidentially. Sometimes I will slip in the back and if someone asks me who I am I will usually say I’m a “friend of the family”. Today the question as to whether or not I’m going is resolved since I’m not mobile.

That’s been the last two days. My apologies for the length of this post there was a lot to get out. Not sure when the MRI will be we have to wait on the pre-authorization. I will be contacting Mark the physical therapist that I worked with previously to start that next week.

Oh, I also decided to go the Greenbrier Half-Marathon on the 20th. I can’t get a refund on the registration, which wasn’t inexpensive even at the early registration price. I’ve already paid for the brunch and my shirt. I’ll let my issue with having to earn it before I wear it go. And there’s a possibility that I may get to stay at the Greenbrier. My friend Barabra is working on that. With all this going on I’m grateful to her for doing that and even if I don’t get to stay there the brunch will be nice. Also, I know several people running in both the 10k and half-marathon so I can cheer them on; it will be cool to be around the running community again. Let’s hope I’m mobile.

That’s the update…