March Madness: Ugh

March 13, 2014 § 11 Comments

March Madness (my month-long challenge to try something new or scary every day) continues. I’ve skipped a couple of days since the beginning of the month, but have kept a pretty good pace.

Since my last update, I conquered #12 on my list, making a comment at a public event (topic: the brilliance of Wes Anderson). I don’t know if what I said was particularly wise or intelligible, but I raised my hand, took the microphone, and spoke.

This evening I tackled #11 — giving blood without passing out. I did give blood. I did not pass out.

Yet I felt woozy. And turned pale. And hyperventilated. And turned several shades of hot and cold. And lost feeling in one of my arms. And almost threw up on the drive home. And had terrible stomach cramps. And was told (echoing Red Cross nurses from a decade ago) it’s probably best I don’t put myself through this anymore.

Afterward, the nurse applied a cotton pad. Then a Band-Aid. Then this crazy tourniquet-like device. This just brought the horror to a whole new level.

Afterward, the nurse applied a cotton pad. Then a Band-Aid. Then this crazy tourniquet-like device. This just brought the horror to a whole new level.

This was the worst blood donation/draw in my life. I am never giving blood again unless the need is dire.

But at least I can check another challenge off my list. Yee-haw.

Five Miles, One Apple, and Zero Russian Cocktails

January 10, 2014 § 7 Comments

An apple has been sitting outside in the snowbank near my apartment for days. Likely a squirrel stole it from a bagged lunch, then abandoned it for a half-eaten jar of peanut butter.

The apple certainly withstood the cold better than most, and I might add it looks prettier, if not more vulnerable, in its frozen state.

Frozen pome

Frozen pome

* * *

At noon I ran five miles — my longest distance since mid-December. The run itself felt great, but terrible stomach cramps set in at about mile two. I ran through it, but was sick all afternoon then slept for a couple hours this evening.

I pride myself on rarely if ever getting sick with colds, flus, respiratory infections, etc., but about once a year, my stomach turns on me. Sometimes running sets it off (or dehydration), sometimes weird food, other times stress or too much caffeine. I’ve never figured out the exact trigger, so I’m guessing it’s a combination of the above.

Unfortunately, that means I’m laid up for the rest of the night. I’m supposed to be eating dinner right now at Tanpopo Noodle Shop followed by the best Russian cocktails in town at Moscow on the Hill, but I had to cancel. [Sniff.] Instead I’m nursing a glass of water and some toast.

* * *

My stomach problems were not caused by a late-night Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey binge, but I guarantee whoever lost their mitten and their marbles downing the whole bottle has a treacherous, yet glorious, tale to spin.

Somewhere someone is calling Lost and Found looking for his other mitten's mate

Somewhere someone is calling Lost and Found looking for his other mitten’s mate


Yearning to Run

August 15, 2013 § 5 Comments

Greediness will get you nowhere. Especially when it comes to running.

The first half of 2013 was my best ever as a runner in terms of speed, even faster than I was nearly 20 years ago. I got cocky, sometimes running twice a day just because I loved it. Yet I warned myself, “This isn’t going to last. You’re going to injure yourself if you don’t take it easy.”

And in June my self-fulfilling prophecy materialized in the form of a messed up ankle and lower calf. Convinced I’d screwed up my Achilles, I eased up and focused on walks and bike rides instead.

For a month I:

  • Used my massage roller.
  • Did strengthening exercises.
  • Soaked my foot and calf in ice baths.
  • Slept in this atrocious-looking sock that forces you to flex your foot while unconscious, supposedly hastening healing.
What fresh hell is this?

What fresh hell is this?

Nothing worked.

A friend recommended I try a muscle-activation technique (MAT) therapist. I was warned it was expensive (insurance doesn’t cover it) and painful, but yielded quicker results than basic physical therapy. I was open to some black magic.

My therapist, Amber, is also a runner and understands my urge to get back on the trail. She’s relentless at uncovering the source of the problem and has convinced me it’s not my Achilles. It’s all these muscles in my feet and toes and back. Muscles she digs into, hard.

I hear her oft-repeated phrase, “Now, this is going to hurt,” in my sleep. The therapy is truly agonizing. Worse than deep-tissue massage. I writhe throughout every 60-minute appointment.

I just finished my fourth session. The first week, I didn’t notice any difference afterward. The second week, no ankle/calf pain for one day. Third week, no pain for two days, and I ran a short distance, but the pain came back. Today she said we’re on track. She says my body is changing, balancing itself out and reducing strain. I’ve even noticed knee pain I’ve had for years is minimal or non-existent on some days.

Will all this crazy therapy work? Only time will tell. I’m hopeful. I yearn to be out there again running with friends, alone, in races, in rain and snow and sunshine. No other exercise seems to bring me the sense of accomplishment afterward that a good run does.

Would love to hear from others who have tried MAT. Did it work for you? How long did it take?

What's the point of having cute summer running shoes and clothes if you have to WALK in them?

What’s the point of having cute summer running shoes and clothes if you have to WALK in them?

Be Kind

December 16, 2012 § 3 Comments

I requested Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats by Roger Rosenblatt from the library two weeks ago. It was on the New York Times list of best books of the year, and I thought the topic was interesting — finding solace on the water following the loss of a child.

I received notice that it was ready for pickup Friday morning. Timely considering the tragic loss of life in Connecticut currently unfolding at the same moment.

I picked it up yesterday and was moved by this quote attributed to Philo early in the book:

Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a great burden.

No one has easy answers as to why bad things happen to wonderful, bright, innocent, beautiful spirits. Hopefully meaningful debates will take place soon in this country about how we talk about and treat mental illness, how we control gun ownership, how we decrease violence in movies, games, media.

Until then, courtesy and gentleness — with loved ones as well as strangers — are key. Tomorrow when you find your patience wearing thin on the commute to work, or on the conference call that’s taking too much time, or in the long line at the post office, remember what blessings you do have. Consider that the person driving too slow in the left lane may be lost in worried thought about an elderly parent. The impatient woman in line behind you at the grocery store may have a sick child at home and limited funds to pay the babysitter watching him.

Instead of complaining or lashing out, take a deep breath. Smile and say something kind to anyone who visibly carries a larger burden than you do. You’ll know them by the vacant stare, the hunch of their shoulders, the despair or resignation in their voice.

I’m not implying these simple actions will keep tragedies like the one in Newtown from recurring. It likely won’t. But it can’t hurt.

So give your gift of kindness to someone. I guarantee the burdens we carry will all feel a little lighter as a result.

The Art of the Squish

July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

The annual mammogram. A ritual where a skilled technician gleefully flattens your breast both horizontally and vertically to within an inch (perhaps even a centimeter?) of its life.

It’s really more art than science. I felt like I was having my portrait painted:

“Left arm here, relax it.

“Feet face forward.

“Chin up.

“Relax your arm, sweetie.

“Now, this may hurt [crank. crank].

“Nope, relax that arm.

“Okay, deep breath [crank, crank].

“Hold it, hold it.”

Arm relaxed, feet forward, chin up, breath held, holding, holding, holding. Hooooolding.

Ahh. Done.

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