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July 4, 2012

On Change and Challenge

On Change and Challenge

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  ~ Victor Frankl

I guess that one could say that change is the most predictable thing in life that you can’t prepare for. So why then, are we still surprised when it happens? We call it “unwelcome change” or say “the change was unanticipated” – but isn’t that almost always the case? Change is change. Who am I to judge if it’s good or bad or just different.

For just over a month pain has been hampering my ability to run. Frankly, it has hampered my ability to walk on someday (stairs are the worst), or sit comfortably. So yesterday I took the next step in treatment.

Lumbar epidural steroid injection is a long name for a procedure that involves placing a long needle into the spine and delivering a drug (in this case a ling acting steroid) to the precise spot that seems to be causing the trouble (in this case between my 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. The hope is that over the next 3-10 days I get a whole lot of pain and symptom relief and then I can really get back to recovering and doing the things I miss including running.

Of course this also leaves open other possibilities. I might only get a little better. I might get no relief at all. I also have to assume that after this much time even if I had the most perfect outcome I’m still not going to get up in 10 days and start running where I left off. I have had a lot of moments lately of feeling pretty bad about the whole thing – sometimes that’s worse than the physical pain. Funny how the mind works like that.

To get out of that, one thing I do is ask myself: If not this, then what?

Nothing really beats running for fitting into my life. It’s portable, it’s adaptable, it’s efficient. I have come to rely on it in a way because I really can take running with me as easily as my laptop. But I certainly can’t do it right now and I don’t know when I’ll get the thumbs up to run again.

So today I bought a bicycle. Continue reading…

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June 28, 2012

Perspectives on Pain

Perspectives on Pain

Tomorrow is my birthday and I will have been running – and sometimes not running – for a year.

That seems crazy. I am sure I’ll have something more to say about it when I wake up.

Today, I have been just over 24 hours without medication for my back and my whole right leg is very unhappy about that – so it should not surprise anyone that I am going to say something about pain.

Pain is one of the great secretes of running. (and don’t any of you deny it)

When you are a non-runner, you look at runners along the side of the road or on treadmills or wherever and you think: Wow, that looks painful! You might even occasionally ask a runner why they would engage in an activity that looks like it hurts and they might laugh and say: Running doesn’t hurt – it feels great!

When you start running, you quickly learn that pain is just part of what you sign up for. Seasoned runners are kind of like military veterans. They won’t just go about telling everyone about their battle injuries – but once they know you are part of the team they all have a story or 5 or 10 to share because now they know you will understand. You hurt your foot and someone is there to tell you about their chronic plantar fasciitis or their last broken toe. Get hip pain and sure enough you will suddenly find 3 runners to tell you about their bursitis. Knee pain? No worries – five of your new runner friends will tell you about how they came back from that ACL repair and that that was the very thing that pushed them to a new personal record or their first marathon.

And you are going to tell me that running doesn’t hurt???

Running does hurt. Seriously. Let’s just all admit that. But it also feels great and this is the catch. When you pass that point where the feels great part exceeds the part where it hurts you are hooked.

Maybe that’s when you actually become a runner.

At least I can tell you this – ever since this injury got me to the place where I physically can’t run, I miss it all the time. Each and every time I see a runner on the road or the beach or simply tying their shoes, I get a little pang of sadness, envy, longing. I want that to be me.

Here is a true story from this morning. Continue reading…

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June 27, 2012

Up One Hill and Up Another

Up One Hill and Up Another

I got my MRI results today and I could use this space right here to review it and grieve over it a bit more, but I am not going to.

At least not today.

Today I spoke briefly on the phone with an old friend who always cheers me up. We mostly didn’t talk about my back, but about love and relationship and family and life. I just felt better when we hung up.

Tonight as I was reflecting on my day, I remembered a trip he and I took together in college to Yosemite National Park. We were camped for a time by a little lake in a more remote area of the northern part of the park. Beyond the lake was a ridge that looked like it must have a great view. The first day we set up camp we decided we should go up there to see the sunset. It took almost an hour to get to the top…and we found it was not the top at all. There was another higher ridge just beyond. So we watched the sunset from there and decided to try for the higher peak the next morning.

In the morning we set out. Up the first ridge, across a little flat, up the second ridge to the top…but no…seriously. Not the top, but another peak just beyond that. No problem it was early, we set out for the next one. Get to the top and then go back to camp for lunch. Up we go. What we found there was not what we had imagined. From the top of that ridge, we faced a mountain. A really, really big mountain. All those “peaks” it seemed had just been the foot hills.

For us, on that day, the mountain was just too big. We had not prepared for it.

I started running almost a year ago. I have had challenges on many levels but this thing with pain has been an interesting voyage. Continue reading…

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June 13, 2012

Got Your Panties?

Got Your Panties?

A few of you have asked where I have been. I have a lot of blogging to catch up on. It will all help to explain why I spent the better part of 3 hours at the office of an orthopedic surgeon today.

But I want to start with this.

Two weekends ago, me and my two friends – W and B – we took a little mom-cation to Palm Springs. When moms are away, they talk. Not about the kinds of things men think they talk about. Surprisingly, even when what we are trying to do is get a day away from our kids, we talk about our kids.

B told this story:

She has a habit of doing a sort of oral check list when she leaves the house – “Got my phone, got my keys, got my purse…” You get the picture. So one day, she is folding laundry and her 18 month old toddles up when she is folding and says “Mommy, what’s that?” “Those are panties,” says B. “They are sort of like pull-ups for grown ups.” Sort of.

So the next day, they are leaving the house and B is doing her checklist. “Got my phone, got my keys…”

“Got your panties?” chirps her child.

We all laughed. B then recounted how her mom had always stressed that she should always have on nice panties in case she had to flee a fire in the middle of the night. After all, we can’t have firemen seeing us in old panties…or worse.

Now it was my turn to really laugh. My mom used to say the same thing. Seriously – how many of us got that advice drilled into us when we were growing up? But even more I figured I aught to tell my girlfriends about the time I did happen to end up in my panties with a group of firemen. Continue reading…

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May 4, 2012

Laying Low

Laying Low

I am not a patient person when it comes to myself. This might be more true than ever when it comes to my body. Doctors in general are not exactly known for being the best patients, so perhaps this is where some part of my personality come together badly and definitely not for my own good.

Recently, running along the waterfront in Sydney, Australia, I felt a pang in my right calf. I stopped, rubbed it out, slowed down. After an ibuprofen and a long flight back to the US, it seemed fine. I ran on it the following week with the occasional twinge, but nothing horrible. Did some extra stretching, wore my newly beloved compression socks, and tried to suppress the thought that this thing kind of hurt and maybe I should pay attention to it.

Then I flew to Spain. Didn’t run the first couple of days, but when I did…oh…ouch! This time it was a deep pain that would not subside. It was with me the rest of the trip and was only minimally better when I arrived home. Of course (and feel free to quietly laugh to yourself if you have done this too), I chose to ignore this and run again the next day…

Bad idea. But you see the thing was that my 10 year old asked to run with me and he was so sweet and how could I resist. He was equally sweet when he asked if I wanted to lean on him on the way home.

The following morning the pain was still just as bad. Now I am worried.

I text a friend who is an internist: Do I need to worry about DVT?? Continue reading…

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March 26, 2012

What’s in the Box?

What’s in the Box?

I never win anything. So when Kelly Reeme of Flex-n-Go told me I had won a Heel Cord Box I didn’t really know exactly what it was, but I was pretty excited.

Actually, I had read briefly about Kelly’s product a number of months ago.  She saw that I posted about foot pain and suggested that I might look at her product as a solution. I looked – but seeing that it targeted that Achilles Tendon and lower leg flexibility, it didn’t seem like it would help the pain in my arch so much.

Then I won one. That was cool.

The box arrived right right as I was preparing to take off for business in Europe. I opened it – the boards are handcrafted and they are very simple and – in a way – pretty.








I took the board out of the shipping box and set it on the floor in my living room.

At this point the exact words of of my 10-year-old were:

Cool mom! Can I use it as a skateboard ramp?

Uh…No. Continue reading…

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March 22, 2012

You Don’t Have to Say It…

You Don’t Have to Say It…

Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. 

~Sophia Loren

So really, really, really my leg felt better yesterday and the sun was out and it smelled like spring and not exercising has felt just terrible, so it didn’t seem like it would be such a bad idea to run.

The first mile and a half was fine.

I had a little twinge by two and I ignored it.

Coming up the last grade back to my start I sort of new that I had made a mistake…but it was too late.

I did mention that I am impatient with my body healing, right?

Last night I did “therapy” with 3 Advil, 2 glasses of red wine, and an ice pack. This morning I am back to limping like I was on day two of this injury. Continue reading…

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March 19, 2012

Virtues I Don’t Have…Yet

Virtues I Don’t Have…Yet

How poor are they that have not patience! What would did ever heal but by degrees?

~ William Shakespeare, Othello

It’s a funny thing about doctors, we often assume and live our lives like illness and injury is a thing we are immune to. It’s not that we don’t know that we actually get sick and hurt, it’s just that we seem to be able to effectively separate these part of our thoughts from the reality of our experience much of the time.

Obviously, in the long run, the illusion will always get broken.

When it does, doctors might be the most impatient patients on the planet. Once we have accepted (if only marginally) that something is wrong, we assume – we expect – our bodies to behave differently and oh-so-much-better than those of our patients. I know I would tell my patient this will take a week to heal, but I’ll be better tomorrow. Admit that if you are a doctor reading this now that you think that even if you won’t say it out loud.

I admit all the time that I am not very patient. Continue reading…

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March 18, 2012

Taking a Detour: Words From a Friend

Words From a Friend

My leg hurts. And frankly it sort of feels like my spirit is a bit bruised too. I can’t run (though I am desperately tempted to try…), and while I am trying to write some new words about the rest of my life, my friend Ted offered to pinch hit for today. Ted is a runner. He is also a physician. He has offered me some great advice over the months since I started this endeavor – and has inspired this blog more than once. The following words are his.

Taking a Detour

For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour

– Mary Kay Ash

When my good friend Jacqueline took a fall in the Austrian Alps temporarily preventing her in her quest to become a runner, she asked me to fill in with a blog or two of my own.  In this case, however, you’re hearing from someone who’s run for over 30 years on a consistent basis. If 30+ years ago you’d have asked me if I would become a runner I would have thought you were crazy, but now I never want to stop until my heart does.

I’ve calculated that I’ve run over 30,000 miles, Continue reading…

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