Posts Tagged ‘health’

If you see something, say something: just few random thoughts on Robin Willams

August 12, 2014

At the cube farm today a few people passed judgement on Robin Williams and suicide. For various reasons (ok, mostly one), I didn’t bother to speak up about the lack of maturity. I chewed on my lip and thought how lucky they were.

Yeah, you read that right. Lucky.

Only somebody who has never watched another struggle with major depression would say something that stupid.
Only somebody who has not felt the smothering lack of energy where even brushing teeth seems like a monumental task would say something like that.
Only somebody who has not curled up looking for a sliver or a moonbeam to cling to would say something like that.

The absolute tragedy, is, of course, that yesterday thousands of people yesterday killed themselves. One person’s death filled social media spaces. We do a lousy job about talking about mental health. We talk about it after a tragedy for a few weeks and clamor for more funding and less stigmatization. Nothing happens.

Probably because we don’t want to admit it’s us.

We don’t want to admit we are the ones who have fought demons with the help of medication and professionals.
We don’t want to admit that there are times (still) when the mountain seems to be without a trail.
We don’t want to admit how hard the battle was because there is still shame in the battle.
We don’t want to admit that we know it could have been us.

I don’t know what drove Robin Williams to suicide. I know what its like to sit in that darkness and not feel. I only hope he has found his peace.

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Why #cancersucks, the #TracyMafia rocks and the past month (or so).

April 17, 2014

In the most obvious statement, cancer sucks. I hate it. Aside from the most isolated research biochemist who has the social skills of a dead tree on the planet, who is going to run around saying yeah cancer! (The idea of doing that reminds me of a professor at Hollins who mocked Nancy Regan and her “Just say No!” Campaign because where we really going to tell our kids to go get high? He then paused and said that might not be a bad f’ing idea). I digress.

Tax day was the anniversary of The Marathon Bombings. Like many who live in and around Boston, I’ve begun to grasp what New Yorkers went through on September 11, 2001. The interwebs crawled with the more than normal narcissism of Bostonites and how other towns did things one way versus another. Whatever. Even growing up in the Chicago ‘burbs, the Boston Marathon has its aura. I mean, we run 26.2 miles to celebrate starting a country. We are slightly crazy. We don’t go through Lexington and Concord. Nope we wind through a few towns and turn left on Boylston to finish mid-block on the third Monday in April because you know, that makes sense. Oh, and you have to qualify by running an aged based time and even then you have to win the lottery. Uh, yeah ok, like I said it was the more than normal narcissism of Bostonites. Basically, we want to have a 26.2 mile drinking party and created an event that involves a baseball game getting out as the “commoners” are making that turn. That, my un-Boston friends, is the Marathon. And last year, 2 jackasses killed 4, injured hundreds and basically made this town turn into a giant how can I help on twitter feed. And ok, we’ll stay inside when you want to find the terrorists. (Seriously, it was strange, but live through a New England winter, it was a Nor’easter minus the snow complete with whackadoodle TV coverage). So yesterday when everybody started to descend on the city, I found myself in tears a few times.

I realized later that night: April 15, 2013 was the last time my mom was my MOM in that nothing can fix this but I need my mom sort of way. I was a few days out of a major shoulder surgery, in a bit of a narcotic haze and then they blew up our block party. And I freaked and started doing a lesson learned of 9/11 in texting, tweeting, facebooking: Mom and I are safe, didn’t go to the Marathon today. I played a twitter find shelter give directions with a California friend, called my sister to tell her to TELL the medium sized girls before turning on the car. And I cried, I was angry, I was scared. And I spoke in the strange half sentences like “Omg that is right by the place where, I don’t get it, I mean, it’s the Marathon” and my mom just watched the news and said they’d catch who did it. She could not say much to console me; she didn’t even try and for one of the rare times in my life, I was glad my mom was here because my mom told me they’d get the bad guys so everything would be ok (I’m going with the theory that the Percocet haze helped this work because the idea that I fell for it is lunacy!).

Somewhere along the line late last summer, I knew my mom’s cancer was back. I cannot pinpoint it, she said her reports were good but I did not like the way she looked. Or coughed. There was something off. And because I’m insane I saw a friend posting on FB about running his first marathon …. After picking up running as a lifestyle change after his second surgery for cancer and did anybody want to run the Philly marathon with him. Not for a cause but just to train and run. I laughed a bit as Tracy was pleading in his Tracy way and I finally said, hey I just registered for the half to walk it. The response from just about everybody: you’re NUTS. (Ha! I said nuts!).

You have to understand Tracy: he married a college classmate of mine. He then voluntarily attends class reunions. Of hundreds of screaming women who drink too much wine and act like idiots. I don’t think he’s missed one: our college doesn’t have a mascot. But our class has Tracy. We get our hair and fashion tips from him (and so do lots of other people). And bacon reviews. And there is something about not liking pie. As in the dessert but Whopie Pies are trick pies because they have frosting. Basically, he is the younger brother/older brother/best friend/half of the most positive couple you’ve ever met type of person. We chatted in Philly about his cancer, my mom’s cancer and how much cancer sucks.

And then my mom died. Who starts to reach out? While quietly finding out his own news? T and his wife. People who’ve walked in the shoes I stood in who had EVERY reason to make a quick hang in there, I’m here for you post and allow what they knew would come out to stand as the reason because we’ve known each other that long. But they didn’t. That’s why cancer sucks. Cancer doesn’t go out and use natural selection. Cancer can be so random, so unfair.

I think we both did a half marathon (I use the word ‘both’ so liberally) the weekend he let people know of the cancer returning. I was sick, I was pissed and the smart person wouldn’t have been at Hyannis. I do not know how he was feeling but there was a lamentation on not being under 2:00 in Rhode Island that same weekend. I will lay money there have been tears and anger and all of that: but the quintessential New England response was FU cancer. I have my family, friends and my very own mafia. I have to travel. I have to run half marathons (while trying to con my wife into one on FB) and I really want to run NYC (and probably secretly qualify for Boston because you know, I’m a Sox Fan).

I remembered Steven Colbert’s opening remarks on 4/16/2013: after running a marathon they went to give blood. That’s the type of person Tracy is. That’s the type of person his wife is. That’s how my mom was. There are people like me who float around in corporate America and then there are people out there advocating against the injustices that we layer or are layered upon us by genetics or circumstance. And when a person who works for the greater good is dealt such a blow, you want David Ortiz to say and FU for them. Because it hurts. It hurts where you don’t know it can hurt just when you thought you were done with the hurting.

Then you look back at the reaction to the news: Ok, I’ll deal with it. I’ll have surgery and in-between finding out and surgery, “squeeze” in 4 half marathon’s (including under the 2:00 barrier!) and a few 5K’s. And the other way: curl up at 3 am wondering if there is sleep, wander through a half marathon in a time that a snail would be embarrassed by and say it sucks as a mantra.

Today is not going to suck. Today the mafia don kicks cancers ass. Tomorrow, he starts training for Richmond (where we know he’s secretly going for a Boston qualifying time, a Ranger’s Stanley Cup and some free hair conditioner). And I’m wearing a blue shirt with tan pants. I will think about all of my friends whose shoes I’m standing next to in fighting the fight. I love you all very much.

#Hyannis Half Marathon: The Aftermath.

February 23, 2014

I walked the Hyannis Half Marathon today. My time was a disaster (I finished last; by almost an hour). I’m never going to be able to run because of various orthopedic maladies. Right now, my body feels better than when I did the Philadelphia Half Marathon last fall: I was on pace to break that time by an hour. What happened? Put it this way: I have more respect for any high level athlete who plays through a cold, bronchitis or the flu than before. The last 4 miles were torture. But here is where I ran into kindness. It was obvious I was struggling. I was wearing a University of Tennessee dry-weave shirt. Marathon (it was a combined Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay) would turn back and yell: You have it! Keep going. Don’t stop and my favorite “Come on Volunteer! You can do it!”. These are people who can still speak after running 22 miles. I was stopping every 200-300 yards to cough my head off. One runner STOPPED to make sure I was ok. At mile 11, I let a few tears slide out. I could feel a blister, I was coughing and damn it there was a hill! There was no way I was quitting with only 2 (ish) miles left. Marathoners, half-marathoners and wanna be’s (that would be me) are nice. They encourage, they yell support and then? After running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, a group stands and cheers for the stragglers.

When I crossed to the last turn, the 3 guys who passed me twice and called me Tennessee were standing there with their friends. They yelled “we told you we’d wait for you at the end!” I’ll probably walk at Hyannis next year (unless, of course, I have a re-run of a vicious cold). From the volunteers who didn’t leave, to the people in the area who stood out between water stops with water/Gatorade, I had fun. It might take my lungs a bit to heal. But if you want to meet a nice group of people? Lace them up. Because sometimes even dead last can feel like winning.

Yahoo!  I did it!

Yahoo! I did it!

Getting sick and other such dramas

February 19, 2014

It’s been a little over two weeks since my mom died. I’m fine at work. I become distracted by my excel tables, reports and general amusement. And then it stops. My last two commutes have been snowy messes which passes the time. My cats seem to be glad to see me (ok two of them . . . Sir Fluffy Butt remembers the cone and runs. He’s not afraid, just smart).

The bad thing? Aside from the unknown path of not knowing how I’ll feel hour to hour? I’m getting sick. It’s more a combination of digging out my car for two hours with help from a friend who rescued me from the Logan Express parking lot snow pile and the stress I’ve been under. It doesn’t matter how impractical it’s always been, when I’m sick I want my mom and chicken and dumplings. Never mind the decades that have passed since that happened, that is what I want. As I feel like I’m swallowing razors and itching my ears, I know I’m treading on dangerous ground. I know my Dad, brother and my sister would feign interest in my illness, it’s not the same as my Mom calling to make sure I gargled (I never did) and all of her other home remedies. The reality is I just want to curl up and sleep. I want my mom to know I’m sick and pity me (ok, she never really did).

I know in my heart that my mom died the way she wanted: quickly, at home with only my dad. Part of me (ok, a huge part) wishes we had the chance as a family to say good bye. Would it make it less sucky? I don’t know. Maybe we did at Christmas without knowing it. For all of the travel misadventures of my family, we were all at my sister’s for three days. We had fun. We poked fun at each other. We played some Wii dance game. We laughed. A lot.

I move from numb to angry and back again. Except I’m not really angry. The anger comes when I hear the debates about the efficacy of mammograms. A mammogram gave my mom 17 years. Cancer sucks. It is exhausting. I know my mom is finally pain free and at peace. It just sucks to be left behind.

I’m supposed to walk the Hyannis Half Marathon this weekend. My mom was all excited about it because it goes by the Kennedy compound and she wanted a picture. Who knows? Maybe I will.

A month in: #PhiladelphiaMarathon

August 25, 2013

It was a very frustrating week in the attempt to train for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon (you can support this insanity here).  My nagging hamstring continued to nag so last Saturday (like 8 days ago), I saw a certified athletic trainer I know to see how I could work around this (aside from either quitting or swilling Tylenol).  It’s more an issue of anatomy than anything else.  My right ankle pronates and my right leg is enough longer to alter my gait.  So I spent the week trying to correct that (and let’s face it, it will be more than a week) and he suggested not walking (just small half to one mile walks)  but switching over to some specific exercises instead that would stretch out the hamstring and help with the ankle pronation.  Ok, I’ve now found something I really dislike.  That and I was called the least flexible person in the world (ok, that is true: on so many levels) made a fun, fun week. <insert sarcastic face here> (Scary realization #1: I missed my wogs!)

I didn’t know what to expect today on the ‘long walk day’: I was willing to scale back to 2.5 miles and re-build since I wasn’t sure.  After accidentally shutting off RunKeeper, and having to re-start it (which irked me because I *REALLY* wanted the longest distance to date cheerful e-mail!), and adding up the miles: 4.76 miles!  WOO HOO!  My best distance to date and at one point (about 1.2 miles in), I stopped to debate about backtracking or pushing on to see if I could hit the 5 mile mark.  I’m glad I kept going.  The 5 mile mark did quite get met (part of that is because I was trying to guesstimate the trail) but I did it in the not-so-flat town where I live: without a screaming hamstring!

My shoulder orthopedist (who I’ve known for years), pretty much rolled his eyes at me when I told him what I was doing.  He pointed out that with more hardware IN my body than at your average Home Depot, this might not be a great idea.  I pointed out to him I was walking it, not running it.  He also gave me a few tips for keeping the ankle pointed forwards and cross training.  It makes sense, plus I get to return to swimming which will help!

The best part? I didn’t come home and collapse.  I “stretched” out, had a cup of coffee and flipped on Law & Order to enjoy my Sunday morning routine.  I did giggle when Windsor somehow became tangled up in my green hamstring stretcher.  He’s pretty much a lunatic.

Best training advice of the week? “It’s better to be a RunKeeper snail than a couch potato”.

Better realization? This is the first week, I’ve actually felt this might be an obtainable goal.

Shameless #catspam

naps: they keep a body strong.

naps: they keep a body strong.

Wrap up from week 3: #PhiladelphiaMarathon #RunForAutism

August 16, 2013

I’m still a snail according to RunKeeper. . . I was hoping to move up to slug or oh turtle.  Last week (that would be week 2) was a disaster.  I let work dictate my life (bad) and on my one wog, wound up with a nightmare case of shin splints (bad).  Oh, and shameless fundraising plug.

This week, I finally decided to be a bit more logical in my approach.  I broke down and bought one of those green straps that I can use to stretch my hamstrings.  I found a better pair of shoes that fit my insane ankle pronation and I’m trying to balance a 3/4 inch leg length difference and what sort of trails/paths I need to walk on.  Luckily, the course itself is flat.  I’ve revamped where I wog from my neighborhood to a few other areas.  I live on the top OF a hill and most walks have hills which aggravate the hamstring/shin splint issue: of course, I thought of this today!

Strange lesson learned: I tend to eat better when I exercise.  I’m sure there is a logical explanation but I don’t even want junk.  It’s not in the “OMG, I know exactly how long I have to work out for to burn those calories” but simply not wanting junk.  I also eat less.  Ok, that is probably because I’m less stressed because somehow exercise makes me less stressed.

New additions to the chic training gear: replaced foam roller (thanks Lafitte), green strap, correct running shoes and a kitten.  Really, a new kitten.  Windsor but more on him later but he’ll help with agility training.

Miles Wogged: 10.14 Tu-F.

Realization #1: I need to really work on the hamstring flexibility.  It’s completely related to the 25 or so odd surgeries on the legs.  They are never going to be balanced but I need to learn how to keep them from flaring (which, based on how I feel, I’m thinking walking in flatter areas is going to help).

Realization #2: I will always probably be a RunKeeper snail.

Realization #3: Sadly, I think I’m looking forward to the few miles I log after work to just decompress.

Realization #4: I’m a sucker for kittens with sob stories.

Best training advice: Figure out when it’s your brain saying stop versus your body.  If it’s your body, stop. If it’s your brain, tell it to shut up.  (Thanks Tim!).

 

Wrap up of week one from #PhiladelphiaHalfMarathon trenches.

August 3, 2013

It’s August. I’m August adverse. Between the humidity, blooming and growing things and just haze, I prefer to spend the days curled up under an air conditioning unit. So far, we’ve had a few good days of low humidity. And let’s face it, a Boston summer, for all of our New England wailing about the heat is only a few really gross days.

I read a few “how to train for your first half marathon including one that was a couch to half-marathon that starts with “you should already be running 5-10 miles a week”. Ok, in my world, couch means COUCH. As in I don’t run. (I mean, technically I can’t run due to the leg length difference but I’m not interested in wallowing over missing the opportunity to run. I think it’s nuts.) So, somewhere I began thinking this might be an impossible task a la Robert Irving failing at Restaurant Impossible or something like that. Then I got mad at myself for thinking I couldn’t do it (I might fail but I’m not going to throw in the towel). I should mention by this point, I hadn’t made it out of my driveway. I’m that exercise adverse.

So I spent 2.5 miles thinking about why am I doing this? Insanity. Challenges. Raising money for charity. Check. Check. Check.

Then I REALLY started thinking about why am I going to do this: I should be able to walk this without stress. I’m out of shape for no good reason (read, because I don’t exercise and live off the American diet of on the go for far, far too long). I’m overweight. And I need a tangible goal to aim for (getting healthy is not goal that motivates me): like I will do a certain event. Side benefits: RunKeeper tells me exactly how many calories I’ve burned. I can translate that quite easily into “There is no way in hell I’m eating that. . . it’s 20, 30, 60 minutes of hell because of that choice.” A shift from my previous attempts of weight loss. I’ve found myself not craving sugar. Um. I’m not going to even try to figure out why. I’m sure there is some logical explanation: but the vending machine lost one of it’s best customers in the past two weeks. I’ve had to consume less caffeine to live (sell your stock in Coca-Cola).

End of the week stats: 8.52 miles.
RunKeeper animal status: Snail (I’m aiming for turtle).
Best advice: “Just make sure you do 3 walks over 11 miles. You’ve got to get over that hurdle.”

Shameless fundraising link.  One in 50 kids will be diagnosed with Autism (or on the spectrum).  I know too many people impacted by this disorder.  Research dollars are needed; please consider giving. Plus it supports my insanity.

13.1 miles, it can’t be that bad, right? #halfmarathon

July 28, 2013

In a fit of a lack of judgment/goal setting/bucket list crossing off, I randomly decided to walk/jog the Philadelphia half marathon in November. Yup. The single most exercise adverse person on the planet (ok, maybe not the planet) decided why not? A friend is running the full and Philadelphia is a great city so I figured go big or go home. Ok, well maybe not big (if so I’d be attempting the full) but I’ve spent a ton of time trying to figure out a way to motivate myself to get into shape. The entire ‘get into shape for better health’ does not work for me. . . .the entire you just spent a ton of money and you better not give it up because you were too lazy to prepare for the event motivates me.

I signed up to wog (walk+jog) the Philadelphia Half Marathon. The longest distance I’ve ever walked is when I did the loop at Hollins twice in one day: and that was oh so long ago. I’ve decided to raise money for one of the official charity partners, OAR, which works on autism research (shameless plug to fundraising site here).

After spending the day yesterday downloading different training plans, I set off today on my first wog. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do any long-term damage. I dropped my pace time from the walks I have been doing. I’ve found a loop that measures exactly 2.5 miles which can be easily extended to a 3 mile loop (makes it easier for training!).

The best part? I didn’t come home and collapse like I thought I might. I stretched, ate some breakfast and looked at the training calendar for what I’m supposed to do tomorrow. This is either going to be one of the best or worst ideas I’ve had. It is completely one of the craziest!

From the land of Bankart repair with love. #notreally

May 7, 2013

Truth: I hate physical therapy. I’m probably going to hear from everybody I’ve ever known who is related to, married to, thought about becoming a PT. I like my PT. He’s quirky. I’m quirky. It’s a good fit. He makes his own beer and apparently made some huge tap/kegging system in the basement of his house.

PT is the test of patience. I’m not patient. I’m beyond not patient. I’m like I had surgery 3 weeks ago and why can’t my shoulder be normal now not patient. (Never mind it took a solid 90 minutes for the surgeon to clean OUT the debris before he could repair the labral tear). I’m frustrated and bored.

There is a downside for taking those mid-day appointments. I’m surrounded by the Real Housewives Of crowd and people old(er) than my grandmother. I was laying there letting my pt stretch my shoulder in the limits and one of his other patients came in and was waiting with her ankle encased in a heat pack. I wasn’t talking and trying to remember that key idea of exhaling on the stretch and he asked her how she was because I sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to talk.

PT: How was it last week after you left.
ROP (random old person): Well, I had a touch of food poisoning from something. And then, let me think, on Friday I had a root canal. Oh, and yesterday was the worst I
PT: (obvious this was not the right answer). Uh, xxxx, when I say how was it after last week, I’m talking just about your ankle.
ROP: Oh, my ankle? It’s fine. I just am having issues with (something even I won’t put on a blog).

Ok, I *get* that when you drop a few anchors in to the labrum, the not so patient patient has to wait for the anchor to secure to the bone. I get that I’m wildly lucky that the swelling has decreased a ton and there is more and more passive range. I’m somewhat twisted in that I’m happy that I get to line up an excercise ball that has Dora’s face on it and give her a few black eyes. I’d prefer Barney but apparently those kept disappearing.

I have no patience. I leave my 2x pt sessions frustrated because although the guy next to me who is 16 weeks out his Bankart repair was telling me the progress ramp and I can ‘see’ I’m on target (which for shoulders is the key . . . there isn’t an acceleration curve) and he’s there one day a week the same time as me. I get the creaking is normal. It doesn’t hurt it’s just sort of unnerving.

The little steps of using the arm bike with my left arm (holding on only with my right arm) is progress. I’m on a short(er than normal in PT) fuse. I wanted to rip the cell phone out of the hands of a scantily clad ring heavy enough to break a finger trophy wife of the metro-west. I get you are busy and have to take child to-from some random event. But I don’t need to hear about it. Text. Or better yet: that sign that says “do not use cell phones in treatment areas” follow it. (Her PT corralled her drama).

As much as I enjoyed the conversation with the guy who had a similar surgery, he’s facing two more months of PT. I wanted to cry. That’s my life right now. PT, ice, walking around the neighborhood if the shoulder is ok enough, icing. I don’t think I realized how much my non-dominant shoulder is involved in so much of what I do on a daily basis.

And I keep telling myself: Bankart’s are 6 months to return to pre-surgery. One month (almost) down; 5 to go.

52 ideas for 2013

December 31, 2012

Some will take 5 minutes, some a few months. . . . just a list of random things I thought I’d try to do in 2013.

1) Polar Bear Plunge
2) Read 50 Shades of Gray
3) Read Team of Rivals
4) Read In the Garden of Beasts
5) Read Fall of Giants
6) Read The Great Influenza
7) Read Book #6 (Title: TBD)
8) Read Book #7 (Title: TBD)
9) Read Book #8 (Title: TBD)
10) Read Book #9 (Title: TBD)
11) Read Book #10 (Title: TBD)
12) Read Book #11 (Title TBD)
13) Read Book #12 (Title TBD)
14) Participate in the SNAP challenge (one week, $25 all 7 days)
15) Run a 5K
16) Write a letter instead of shooting a long email
17) Walk the Freedom Trail
18) Go to a Red Sox/Yankees game
19) Participate in the USPS 3K challenge
20) Unplug from social media for a week.
21) Walk, run, jog 500 miles (I mean, I’ve got a YEAR)
22) Go to Walden Pond. (Such a bad local tourist)
23) Get over my fear of needles and go to the dentist
24) Take a yoga class
25) Volunteer 50 hours
26) Go to Northern California
27) Go to New Orleans
28) Go to Puerto Rico
29) Learn to cook tamales
30) Make an intentional collage
31) Go vegetarian for a week
32) Menu plan for a week . . . and follow it!
33) Bike 1000 miles (see the I’ve got a year note)
34) Walk away from an argument
35) Work a 44 hour week
36) Make sure all that dang adult paperwork is taken care of
37) Pay off the remaining credit card debt
38) Go to the MFA once a month
39) Go to NYC just to go to MOOD!
40) Walk the Freedom Trail
41) Prehab my shoulder in an attempt to avoid surgery
42) Organize guest room
43) Organize kitchen
44) Find new homes for orphaned socks.
45) Start to learn Spanish.
46) Finish my holiday shopping by October.
47) Hollins Hanukah II
48) Journal more
49) Sending my 2012 Christmas cards by oh, St. Patrick’s Day.
50) Go fall camping
51) Take a fun class at one of the zillion extension centers
52) Try to be more zen.