health

Tough Mudder: “How are we doing this?”

-me, after looking at pretty much any one of the climbing obstacles in Tough Mudder, of which there are several.

Yesterday I “did” Tough Mudder. I write that “did” in quotes because I skipped four obstacles of the 24 on the course, and it’s a coincidence that there were two planned skips (arctic enema and electroshock therapy were listed verboten by the doc) and two were unplanned skips (Everest and Stage 5 Clinger).  Arctic Enema is where you dive down a tube into water that has floating ice in it and is shockingly cold, and have to swim under an obstacle to get out of said water — so you are completely submerged.  Electroshock therapy is walking through about 15 feet of dangling electrical wires that will zap you.  Everest is a 20′ high slippery slope that you have to run at, run up (hope you don’t slip), and grab your team’s hands so they can pull you up.  Stage 5 Clinger is an inverted ladder (so the base is farther away from you than the top) that you have to climb and then pull yourself up and over.

I tried Everest. I tried it three times, and the third time I landed square on my right shoulder, and told my self enough was enough.  I’ve got an impressive welt and a jammed feeling; I can lift it but it hurts when I lift it just so.  I should have tried Stage 5 clinger more than the bit that I did.

My pull up game is *not* strong, although it’s getting better, and I struggled with many of the other obstacles that required me to do various forms of lifting my body weight with just my upper body.

Which gets me to this point: unless you are the kind of person who can do 25 effortless pull ups from hanging on your fingertips to pulling yourself up and over something with  no foot support, you will have to rely on other people in Tough Mudder.

This is hard for me (and others), and there’s usually one of two competing reasons behind it:

  1. You don’t want to rely on others because you don’t find others reliable.
  2. You don’t want to rely on others because you don’t want to inconvenience them.

I don’t have the first problem and once you finish your first few TM obstacles you won’t, either.  Random strangers will pull you up, grab your leg to help you get over an obstacle, come to help you, and encourage you to overcome your fears.  Yes that was me whimpering at the top of an obstacle because I couldn’t get a toehold and some completely strange person came up and coached me where to put my foot and reassured me he’d catch me if I fell.  Your team will also be there for you; I had only met one of my team members before this but every single one of them gave me a folded hand or a leg up at one point.  This was not my problem.

My problem is that I kept feeling like I wasn’t pulling my weight (no pun intended). I’m still not sure I did.  The Abseil and similar exercises– where there’s at rope or rope ladder — were no problem.  But anything that required team-provided-footing left me to feel guilty, like I hadn’t trained enough.  And in theory I had “trained” more than my team — following the guidelines, doing the runs (mostly — I only got two 8-milers in), etc.  As mentioned previously I can’t do a pull up but I was doing weight-assisted ones in the gym; that proves to not have been enough.

I can say with absolute and utter confidence that I would NOT have signed up for Tough Mudder if I  had known the volume of obstacles around heights.  Heights for me — particularly ones where I’m sure I’m going to injure myself but not die — are a trembling phobia that surfaced about twenty years ago and hasn’t gone away.  (For those of you worried about enclosed spaces: there’s a few of those, too, but they aren’t bad at all– not even MineShafted).  Had someone walked me through the course in advance I would have bailed, then and there. But having spent the last 3 years regretting the Tough Mudder I didn’t do, I’m very glad I didn’t talk myself out of this one. I’m glad I had to work through a series of heights challenges, I’m glad I had a supportive team and was reaffirmed in the kindness of strangers, and I’m glad to be back in “regular” training again. Except this time maybe I’ll do some more upper body work.

Those who know me are probably shaking their heads because they think this means I signed up again for next year: NOPE. This was one of those beautiful, shining days that sits on its own. My legs and forearms are thoroughly scratched and bruised, I have the aforementioned shoulder welt and a matching one on my hip. I have met new and awesome people. I have my orange headband.

tm

Yes that’s a massive bruise on my right shin. A lot of our course had berry bushes and straw packed in to the mud.

I’m good.

 

 

Advertisements

Intermezzo

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and there’s a few reasons for that.  I’ve been busy (well, who hasn’t been?).  I’ve been without useful ideas to share (maybe untrue, but…) I’ve been censoring myself (yeah, that).

As to self-censure: there isn’t anything I can add to the yowling atmosphere of today that someone hasn’t already said, and so I’m doing the “actions speak louder than words” thing and redoubling my efforts in the places that I think I can help and letting much more eloquent people say much more specific things to much greater effect.

But Happy Pride, everyone :). And Happy Ramadan.  May you find joy in the celebrations of things that encompass your values and in the Italian-Argentinian spirit of “do what makes you happy” — which is the way I was raised — be happy and move forward.

I’ve been trying to do that.

I went to visit my mom this weekend; she lives south a bit from me in a small town that’s bordered by other small towns.  If you want to go to Starbucks it’s 2.5 miles away, and I know this because I run it occasionally.  I ran it today.  It’s a nice, flat run, past a firehouse and many farms and one big intersection.  They are just as busy and popular as any other Starbucks anywhere.

There are no sidewalks on the way.  If you run, you run on the side of the road, and if you’re smart, you run opposing traffic.  The beautiful part is everyone moves waaaaaaaaaaaay over for you.

Everyone.

Big semi trucks, regular trucks, SUV’s, vans, motorcyclists, people driving Hondas and Kias.  Folks in vintage cars taking them out for a sunny day (at 9am it was already 85 degrees) and folks in their beater cards headed wherever a Sunday morning took them. Every single one moved well over the meridian for me.

As a 5’10”, more-than-150-pounds-but-less-than-200-pounds woman, my personal meatsack existence would do nothing to their vehicle at the current speed limit (35-45, depending). Their vehicle, on the other hand, could do quite a lot to my meatsack.  Unpleasant. They weren’t moving over for themselves, they were moving over for me. I like that.  That was nice.

I’m running again.  Real running.  From about November to about two weeks ago, my running was almost exclusively indoors and on a treadmill (with the exception of a two-month break for injury and two outdoor events).  You know what you get when you run on the treadmill? You get the treadmill running you.  I’m fast (for me) on a treadmill. I go at like a 9:30 pace. Go me!

You know how fast I run in the real world, on real pavement? 11:15 ish.  There was a time where 9:30 happened in the real world. I lost it, and I need to find it again.

So I found myself running in the early morning heat, out in small town Washington, waving to each and every car and bike and truck that made way for me (and most of them waved back), because that’s what I need to do. I need to do more, and I will.

That’s what I’ve been doing, mostly. See the goal, focus on the goal, follow the goal. And this was a check in from that goal.

Let’s see where I’m at in a couple of weeks ;).

 

7 Days

I’m watching vintage Anthony Bourdain — 2003 — and he’s in Vietnam and being very Anthony Bourdain.  He’s a fish out of water, but eager to learn; he’s caustic and classic but a much younger version of the person we see today. It’s fun to point a finger and say “ha, ha, isn’t he awkward!”, right up until he gamely eats the half-matured duck egg (complete with duck fetus) and can appreciate it as a culinary event instead of the classic “ew!” that 99.9% of folks I know would engender. Including yours truly.

It’s been a busy week.

A week ago tomorrow, I sat in a large dining hall at the Seattle Westin.  My brother and husband were there. My best friends were there. Some of my more colorful (and worldly) friends were there.  While I’d love to say they were there for me (and in a way, they were, and it’s wholly flattering), or that they were there for Team Read (and in a way, they were, and that’s wholly heartening), they were there for Nancy Pearl. Nancy Pearl was our guest speaker and let me tell you, it’s one thing to hear her on NPR. It’s quite another to see her in person. But of course, the real stars of the show were our teen tutors, who consistently impress me with their maturity and aplomb.  At that age I was snarfing pop tarts and hiding my grades from my parents. These kids are getting work experience and teaching 2nd and 3rd graders to read; they are looked up to not only by their tutees but also by a room of 300 adults, none with a dry eye at the end of their presentation. I’m proud to be a part of the Team Read team and looking forward to my next role as I step down from chair to secretary. And I’m eternally grateful to M who introduced me to this organization.

Last weekend, I had dinner with friends at my house — relaxing and informal; I also learned to do a gluten-free chicken parmesan (hint: garbanzo bean flour) and my sister’s banana nice cream (OMG coco whip is the secret!!)– and then on Sunday my best friend and I decided to do the Hot Chocolate 15k.

The Hot Chocolate 15k promises a lovely hoodie and all kinds of chocolate-based goodies along the raceway. It also sends you smack up the 99, up three hills, and back down them (and up them). We were walking (thanks to my recent injury) but it’s a small solace. It is 9.3 miles of sheer discomfort and as we got to mile 6 and saw the uphill slant of Aurora (the last uphill, right after you have shoved 3 or 4 chocolate marshmallows into  your face and you’re ready to play chubby bunny and you’re feeling pretty good and then you see the last, huge, uphill of Aurora and you want to say the F-word but your face is full of marshmallows) and remembered that type 2 fun doesn’t come easy. You cross the finish line, get your medal, and then get a cup of cocoa, some chocolate dipping sauce, and a bunch of stuff to dip into said sauce.

But Candie made it up to me, because we got to have breakfast at the 5Spot.

The 5Spot is in Seattle and I couldn’t find it on my own because every time I go to Seattle I get lost (this is not an exaggeration).  Our waiter had amazing purple lipstick and beautiful eyes and there’s a shirt there I like; the food was wonderful and the coffee was intense and I will go back. I also heartily approve of their attitude.  I ate and ate and ate and yet came home with leftovers (which the boy promptly ate).

Tired yet? I was, but it’s only Sunday in this chronology. Yeah, I’ll speed it up.

Monday and Tuesday was all day in an Economics class: take people whose WHOLE JOB it is to do research (with an economics or machine learning bent) and of course they are world-class (the class was run by Glen Weyl and Preston McAffee had a prominent course) and put them into a 3-day course (yeah, I only got three) and add in snacks and coffee and Q&A and stick a fork in me, I’m done. The syllabus alone is enough to make me jabber at the husband, who still gives me that little smile as he listens.

And so we find me at today. Wednesday.  I had an all-day conference on Leadership, full of those cringe-inducing group efforts that somehow were ok, and I find I am glad.  Still so much to do, but all in all a good week. There’s no big political missive here, or commentary on the state of things. Just gratitude.

Except for that friggin’ hill on Aurora.  I could do without that again. I don’t care how many chocolate marshmallows are in the offing.

 

 

Unilateral Butt Syndrome

 

img_0507

Headed back home in the eerie light.

This time of year, the road to Spokane from where I live (just a little east of Seattle) is moderately nerve-wracking; you have to take one of three passes (North via the 2, South via the 410, or the standard I-90) and two are typically closed (the north and south). The 90 itself has a history of landslides and closures, and since my PT appointment was at 11am in Spokane this meant I needed to leave the house around 4am and cross the pass at night. (Actually it meant I needed to leave at 6am, but I didn’t realize the South pass was closed and so drove all the way down to South Auburn before I figured that out and had to double-back).

 

Once you get past the pass, though, it’s eerily beautiful in these cold winter months, with snow on the ground and overcast skies. I pulled over to take a picture on the way back, both to capture the light and also to stretch the legs; otherwise five hours in the car is a bit much, even for those of us who enjoy driving.

The question you may have that I haven’t yet answered is why I was going to a physical therapy appointment in Spokane in the first place. I live in the Seattle area, surely there are good physical therapists here? Yes, of course there are. But the very best physical therapist I have ever had (who managed to get me off of regular knee injections and back into running in my 40’s) moved to Spokane and so for things like orthotics and gait analysis and exercises I go see her. (It’s Kit Vogel at Tailwind Physical Therapy, if you’re interested– she also does bike fittings.)  Yes, I will take a day off work and drive 600 miles roundtrip to keep myself active. Quite apart from all this Kit is a wonderful person and fun to hang out with.

My knee, sensing an expert appointment was at hand, decided to go out three days before my planned appointment. It was my first outdoor run in months (not including the Disney Half) and I was sore post run — and then the next day — and then really sore the next day. So off to Kit I went.

After marking on my legs (with green washable marker) and measuring my gait in slow-mo and reviewing my shoes and my orthotics, she pronounced my problem: Unilateral Butt Syndrome. In short, my right cheek has been doing all the work for both cheeks (when running and working out), and so my left cheek is lazy. Therefore over time my knee has had to take up the slack for my left leg when running, and as my orthotics and shoes wore out (I use Hokas but because it’s for knee cushioning they don’t last more than about 6 months with regular use) my ankles and feet stopped doing their part and sent the work up to my left knee.  The left knee will only put up with so much of that bullshit before it screams and so here I am, with a busted knee. Apparently UBS is a real thing, as I was explaining it to a friend at the gym and one of the trainers chimed in with, “Oh yeah, I have that!”.

I now have nimg_0506ew orthotics on the way and new shoes, and a new set of exercises I’m doing probably less often than I should but probably more often than Kit thinks I am; and kinesio tape on the knee. That the exercises are awkward (see pic) and difficult is not unexpected. It’s also hard to tell how quickly I will recover. I’ve stopped running for now and am walking (on the treadmill at incline, outside with my best friend) to keep moving. I’ve figured out (finally) that I will not be able to continue running without the routine of floor exercises to keep my butt from being lazy and shifting all the work to one cheek; this is not a case of “ok the pain is gone now I don’t have to do clams anymore”.

If you suspect you have UBS, talk to your PT, and I’m happy to share info on the exercises I have to do. Mostly it’s clams (for the glutes), bridges, push me/pull you (as seen above), hamstring work, and balance work. It’s not particularly fun and for those of us who are impatient and just want to go do the run or walk or whatever it’s an extra series of steps. Considering that impatience got me here, though,  I shouldn’t let it keep me here.

Side note: if you find yourself alone in the car for five hours each way, the Rich Roll podcast is particularly good. Thanks to my brother and Havi Zavi for the recommendation.

 

In Vein: The Vein Strikes Back

“If you’re going to see any reaction, swelling, or pain, it will happen somewhere likely between day 5 and 10.”

For me, it happened on Day 9.

Day 8 I had spent with the Sammamish Troop 571 Scouts in the annual Christmas Tree pickup event (you leave your tree on the curb with a donation, they take it away and chip it). As navigator my job was to sit shotgun and tell the driver where to go for a car with 4 scouts (who collected trees). Essentially I didn’t move much on Day 8.

On Day 9, my leg started itching. Not much. Just a bit. Around noon I got that naggy itch you get when there’s a hair or something in your pants leg, and you find it annoying. It wasn’t much until about 6pm, when it started to increase — first my calf was itchy, then my inner knee, and then up my thigh. Investigating, I found a thick red stripe from entry point to leg crease, and it started to hurt.

The on-call doctor informed me that I am/was now part of the 5% of the population allergic to the vein glue. They had asked if I had ever had acrylic nails and I answered yes, as there was a period of time in my life — roughly four years–where they were de rigeur. The ensuing fifteen years has provided plenty of time for me to formulate an allergy. The advice was to take some antihistamines and see how that goes.

That didn’t go so well. The next day I was on the phone with my doctor, and the day after that I saw Dr. Pepper (I am not making that up, that is his name, and he has four family members who are also Doctors Pepper), who took one look at my leg and said, “Yep, wow, that’s really bad, you’re having an allergic reaction.”

(For those who like data: my left thigh at its most swollen was 3.5″ thicker than my right thigh, and my calf reached almost 2″ thicker).

Onto the Steroids I go, which if you haven’t had a Prednisone Pack ever, are you in for a treat. It’s a tapered pack for six days, but on the FIRST day you take 6 doses. And if you get the pack at the end of the day, for the first day, you take all 6 doses at once, “before bed”.

I say “before bed” because you won’t sleep. In my case I got four loads of laundry done, some detailed analysis, updated some documentation, did some filing, did some housecleaning, emptied the dishwasher, reorganized part of my spice cabinet and half of a dozen other things I’m sure to remember later. For the record I was offered Ambien, but I’m not a fan and figured I’d make it productive.

The next day I had my regularly scheduled check up with Dr. Gibson, who indicated it looked like the steroids were working (Dr. Pepper had put a dotted outline to the swelling from the previous day, so I had a visual measurement aside from my tape measure), and I asked her if it was okay to run all or part of my half marathon. She asked when it was and I said “Sunday” (my time with her was on Wednesday). Verdict: I could walk the half marathon. Maybe run if I really really felt like it, for parts. She also cleared me to fly and did a quick ultrasound to ensure no DVT was present (there shouldn’t have been but hey I was in and the machine was right there).

Today is Day Four. The remaining days’ doses were a normal taper (1 in the morning, 1 at lunch, 1 at dinner, 1 or 2 at bedtime) and the swelling continues to go down, even though I spent most of yesterday afternoon walking around Disneyland.  This morning there isn’t any soreness, but I’m still a bit swollen. I think this little episode has passed, so I’ll check in with another update (for those of you interested in the process) in about a month (with pictures).

 

In Vein

I have had, since I was 14, a varicose vein on the inside of my left leg (90 degrees from my kneecap). It started as a 1-2 cm annoyance and then ended up about 4cm for a good long time. Somewhere in the last 5-7 years it grew and grew, and as I’ve come to realize that I am genetically likely to become my parents, I came to the decision to do something about it.

(Side note: in my thirties I amassed attorneys — family law, traffic law, estate law, construction law — and in my forties I am amassing doctors: cardiologist, vascular surgeon, physical therapist, etc.  Happy to give recommendations to any who need.)

I went on recommendation from my cardiologist (Dr. Maidan of Evergreen Cardiology) to go see Dr. Kathleen Gibson with Lake Washington Vascular. I like her because she’s direct and patient and answers all of the questions, and since we know I am the kind of person who showed up at the cardiologist with an Excel spreadsheet of my cholesterol metrics from the last 10 years, I had a few. She basically broke it down thus: there are two “tranches” of things I could do for my varicose veins* — I could get the problem child glued (the problem child vein is usually farther up the trunk, in this case my problem child was about an inch below my groin) or I could get the problem child lasered.

A woman after my own heart, she gave me a T-table of what to expect with each treatment. With laser treatment, I would be on antibiotics for two weeks. There would be local anesthetic but also a general “happy drug” for during the procedure (so I wouldn’t be upset by the burning smell that was me). There would be a 10% chance of DVT. I would have to wear a compression stocking for 2-3 weeks. I would not be able to work out for at least a week. It wouldn’t necessarily remove the visible varicose vein, just the problem child causing it, so I’d have to get a separate treatment for that.

With glue, there would be:

  • no antibiotics
  • <1% chance of DVT
  • no compression stocking
  • I could run the same day
  • no happy drug (just local)
  • and it would likely remove the visibility of the vein in about 3 months.

Why do people pick laser with how awesome the glue is? Well, insurance. Some insurances cover the glue. Most don’t, although I understand Medtronic (maker of the magic glue) is working with insurance companies on this.

I’m at the gym at least 4 days a week. I don’t like taking medicine (of any kind) if I don’t have to. And I have a luxury of being able to afford this procedure — so I went with glue.

Today was my procedure.

img_0411

Matt, prepping my leg. Glorious orange.

At 8am I checked in at the front desk, and was taken to a room to change. Shirt stayed on, so did undies; the rest had to go and I got to wear a standard-issue hospital gown (the kind that opens in the back) and a waffle-knit robe (which had me really warm). Coffee, iPhone, and bag in hand I went to the operating room (that’s right, I took my phone. There was no side table for the coffee but that was fine). After a brief discussion of music, Alice in Chains started playing and I was introduced to the crew: Megan, who was assisting during, Matt, who did prep (including betadining my leg, so it looked gloriously tan), and Pam who was on ultrasound.  Dr. Gibson was there, and Medtronic had two folks visiting as well including Monty who was part of the original company that developed this glue (out of Spokane, WA! Shout out!) which got acquired by a 2nd company which in turn got acquired by Medtronic.

 

At 8:30 I was prepped and Dr. Gibson took a time out to discuss the procedure so everyone was on the same page (including me), and at 8:35 I was getting local anesthetic applied. The needle was supposed to feel like a bee sting, but if so it was the gentlest bee I’ve felt. If you sew, and you’ve stuck yourself with a needle through say, just the top layer of your skin– so it’s annoying but not stabby– that’s about the range of pain. It lasted half a second and was gone, and short of pressure and the occasional tickling sensation that’s the last thing I felt, although I was completely awake and we were talking about the procedure, 90’s alt rock, and how Medtronic works with physicians and patients to solicit feedback.**

img_0414

the sharp, white diagonal line about 1/3 from the top is the needle in my vein. the rest is leg meat. 🙂

fullsizerender

Martha Stewart’s gun isn’t this cool. On the right is Dr. Gibson, that’s Megan behind her, and you can see Pam’s left arm on the left side of the frame.

The way it worked was this: a catheter was stuck into the side of my calf, about halfway up. Then, they put a super-long, flexible needle, and snaked it up my great saphenous vein . The glue was injected by what looked like the medical answer to Martha Stewart’s glue gun, and was held in place for 3 minutes. (At this point we all did a little sing along with Stone Temple Pilots). Then every 3 centimeters down the vein (so a slight tugging feeling, then pressure as they glued, plus 30 seconds wait for the glue to set) until they got to the injection point.

 

img_0420

All done. Very orange.

At 8:55 I was done, they put a band aid on the injection site, and washed most of the betadine off my leg. An ultrasound pass over the area to make sure there weren’t any issues, then I went to change and get my discharge instructions. No pain meds (unless I felt the need, in which case, Advil), be active (don’t sit on your butt), and if it’s going to be sore it will hit about day 5 to 10. Follow up appointment is January 11th.

 

 

 

 

Then we looked at my before pics, and took some afters, which I will share here. Note: full impact in terms of visibility would hit around the 3-month mark, so this is just immediate results.

As always I’m happy to answer any questions based on my experience and/or pass them along to the professionals, and will update with my results as we go.

img_0421

before

img_0422

after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

img_0425

before

img_0423

after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*as can be expected, your mileage may vary. This post is meant to provide an example of what can be done about varicose veins based on my own experience : talk to your doctor. Also, look both ways before crossing the street.

**an awful lot like I work with my customers at work — a combination of “what features do you want” and “what problems are you having”, because we all know that you get two different sorts of very valuable answers to those questions.

 

Sticky

I freely admit it has been quite a bit of time since I’ve last blogged, a fact which was hammered home to me this morning when I logged into the site and had to hesitate a few times before remembering my login and password. I have already locked myself out of a bank account this morning for the lack of correct memory, and I’m having to wait until 8am Eastern Standard Time tomorrow to correct that, so you can see how there was some trepidation there.

“Things have been busy”, or words to that effect, come to mind; but that phrase and those circumstances are the point of a different post. Given how long it took me to write this one I think you can safely return to the site in April.

In the meantime, I wanted to talk about tape.

Up until yesterday late afternoon, I had spent some five days with an eighteen-inch strip of K-tape diagonally across my back, left shoulder to right kidney. Its purpose was to keep my posture corrected, as when I had gone to the doctor on Tuesday she discovered that if my feet/knees/hips were straight and forward, my torso and shoulders were not. They were angled slightly to the right. While this wasn’t immediately noticeable to me (nor, do I think, it was noticeable to those around me, otherwise I’m pretty sure someone would have mentioned it), it did mean that when I attempted to run I was doing so in such a fashion as to cause myself some pain and definite damage.

Yes, I’m running again.

Having once again signed up for an event (well, two now) because I seem to have a disconnect between what I want to do and what I can do, I set myself to the doctor with a clear and concise goal: Her job is to get me running again with little or no pain. My job is to do exactly what she tells me to, however ridiculous.

This has led to some uncomfortable and odd things, and an 18-inch piece of bright blue tape across my back was the least of them.

Up until now those exercise balls you see at the gym — or sometimes people at work sit on them, they’re supposed to help your core — have been something for me to toss out-of-the-way whilst I put down a mat and did “real” exercise.  Now, I have to do things like balance on them, on my shins. Currently this looks like me kneeling on the ball, with the ball under my shins, and my hands along the equator of the ball, so I am hunched over. One could forgive themselves for thinking I was praying, because there is quite a bit of muttering going on. My original goal was to reach 8 seconds (note to self: much safer than riding a bull) and then my next goal is to do this without hands to steady me. I though she was off her nut until an acquaintance of mine, who just had open heart surgery 3 weeks back, posted a picture of himself on an exercise ball. He was on his shins, but the rest of him was bolt upright. Touché.

I have also had to modify the way I run. The original method of running was to go to the gym, get on the treadmill, and set a speed. I’d zone out to some music and/or to the work problem of the day (I do better running if I don’t have to think about it) and the treadmill would effectively “run” me.  The problem with the treadmill running you is that it does exactly that — it forces you at a certain pace and it may be that your body wasn’t ready to take that next footfall at that particular split second. Ow. Ow. Ow.  So, I need to run outside now. In the Puget Sound Area. In Winter. (NB: today’s run was fine, thanks to an unseasonably warm patch, but I’m not looking forward to the typical mid-forties — or lower — cold and rain that will greet me Tuesday morning).

Then there’s another bit of tape I need to have every time I run: Leukotape, McConnell-taped across my lower left knee. Effectively it creates a pocket of the swollen, damaged tissue that is my left knee (viscosupplementation has not done that knee long-term favors — I haven’t had an injection in a year and I’m going to try to stay away) and smashes it into the space between my kneecap and the right of my left kneecap. It’s precisely that weird flesh color that band-aid uses and that no one’s flesh actually is, except possibly Speaker Boehner’s. It also leaves a very unattractive grey adhesive outline when removed, and if you do it too often you can get a nasty rash. It works well for hair removal, though.

As a result of all of this activity my FitBit and EveryMove think I’m awesome and are suitably praising me with little icons in the typical fashion of gamified fitness. I’m having to mark my actual success, however, in distance increase (now back up to 2.5mi after a small detour) and reduced visits to the PT.

Someday I won’t have to use tape to hold me together properly, either.

OW, says the Bobbie

I can’t tell if it’s actual full-body disintegration or if it’s old age or if it’s bad karma, but I find myself *back* getting X-rays and *back* on anti-inflammatories. This sucks. I was being so good, and it’s not like I signed up for anything crazy or over-trained. I’ve been lifting weights (lightly, nothing more than about 25/30 pounds) 2-3 times per week, and running 2-3 times per week (nothing more than about 2-3 miles), so I should not be dealing with this.

About a week ago the Male Person and I were commiserating on lower back pain, the kind you get here and there that is annoying and you may put a heating pad (or ice) on it and take an Advil and it goes away. Annoying, but live-able.

As of yesterday I had to use assistance (chairs, tables, handles, etc.) to sit down/get up. I went back to my French Canadian Doctor, because it was time for some punishment anyways. The good news: It’s not sciatic nerve stuff! Bad news: it’s probably more degeneration, but we’ll find out. Eventually.

In the meantime, I have purchased a back brace. There is absolutely nothing at all attractive about a back brace. It’s all white nylon and velcro, and reminds me of oversized superhero belts. Today I could be Monochrome Woman, as my grey tank top and black pants mean the white belt just really makes me look … spiffy (insert eyeroll here). Walking around gingerly means lots of people look at you funny. In this case, my walk is something like that of the cartoonish old man – butt tilted forward, therefore abdomen tilted forward, upper body tilted slightly back to help with balance, and a slow, shuffling gait to get places. Combined with my spiffy back brace, I look a prize idiot.

The fervent hope is that between anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants (night-time only! no wine! um, yay!) things will calm down enough so I can fly out to vacation (yay! Arizona!) and then come back to do my last three days of work for Expedia.

Because I don’t want to make the post about my new job led-in by all of this whining, and because I will have plenty more time to blog on the plane to/from AZ, I won’t get into that here :). You will just have to wait.

(I hate waiting…)

OK, you can have this much: I’m going to work for Sur La Table, in the Applications Dev Team. I’m very excited, and yes I get a discount, and believe it or not no, that wasn’t the biggest selling point.

Counting One’s Blessings

“At least you have your health!” — often said when one is disparaging one’s fate, usually accompanied by the statement one should count one’s blessings.

My health took a brief holiday on Tuesday night, having (correctly) assessed everything else was going very well so it may as well take its turn. It started with the usual sore throat — and then, as my son puts it, you feel like you swallowed sand. Then you get the fever. And then a wet cough that punctuates every third word.

Three days later you’re still pretty much there. There was one brief respite where the fever had broken and I felt better, I now feel like that was likely the result of DayQuil and not actual healing. Now it appears the fever has broken (again) and I’m hopeful, as this time I can talk more before the racking cough, and the joint pain is subsiding.

One of the most frustrating things about being sick is that you take time off of work (if you can, and you should if you can) so you can heal up. As a result, you look at this startlingly clear calendar, this wide-open schedule, and fantasize about all the things you could do! You could — garden! You could sew, you could catch up on those books, you can reconfigure your pantry, you can …

…oh, no you can’t. Because you’re sick. So while your BRAIN is perfectly capable of envisaging these things, and of planning and plotting and wanting to go do them, your BODY is calling you four-letter words, aching at every joint, and requiring obscene amounts of sleep. In the space of 24 hours I used up an entire box of kleenex (plus five individual packs); in the space of the last 4 days I exhausted the remaining supply of tea and honey. I’ve lost four pounds (silver linings, anyone?) I am both BEHIND and AHEAD at work because I’ve done everything I can that didn’t require me to talk — because I couldn’t — but now I need to make up all that talking time with a voice that sounds like I’ve been sucking on helium and pickles.

This is okay thought. Because it appears I can once again count my health.