Wednesday, December 11, 2013

running motivation

As you know if you are a follower of this blog (if not, just scroll down, it's the last post), I had shoulder surgery earlier this year.  In the interest of updates, my shoulder is doing quite well.  I haven't had an problems with it since the surgery. (Knock on wood!)  But the unanticipated consequence of shoulder surgery is that there are very few exercises that you can do for a good long while.  No kind of weights that require your arms, no swimming, no biking.  Even leg and ab weights sometimes pull on your shoulder in ways you don't expect.  And most importantly - no running.  You use your arms a surprising amount when running, in case you didn't know.  On doctor's orders, I couldn't run for six months after the surgery.

So for the better part of a year, I have been completely off running.  (I didn't do much running before the surgery because I always gave myself a week or so off when i dislocated my shoulder and that usually happened every other week or so before hand.)  For someone who was already not a good runner to begin with, getting back into running has been rather difficult.  Even once I was given the all clear, I couldn't go very far and it was very discouraging.  I would go here and there, but was never very consistent.  I even like running!  And I had races to train for.  (But, you know I'm not good at training for races.)

A few months ago, I received some motivation in a surprising place - I got a running buddy at work.  Since I do run races sometimes, people often ask me about running.  Often people ask if they can run with me, but it comes to nothing*.  So, when this guy asked if he could run with me, I said yes, but didn't really think it would pan out.  And actually - it hasn't really panned out.  Since he first asked me to be his running buddy, we have run together a grand total of one time.  We plan to run together a lot but something always comes up for him - he has to work late, or cover for someone, or he has a meeting come up, or a deadline, or his daughter is sick, or some other honestly legitimate excuse.  So, I have a perpetual running buddy who never actually comes running with me. 

I don't actually know anything about my running buddy who never actually comes with me.  I have no idea if he is married, single, divorced, if he likes to read, where he lives, how old he is, or even his regular work hours.  Here is a list of things I know about him:
1. His name and his job title, but not what he actually does at work.
2. He has at least one daughter who is sometimes sick.
3. He says he likes running, but never comes with me.

But the thing about having a running buddy who never comes with me, is that it actually gets me to go running.  We make plans to run, and then my running buddy backs out, but I've brought my gear to work, and I've already planned to go, so I go.  It is a very strange motivator to go running because your running buddy consistently doesn't run with you.  But it's been a pretty good system for the last few months.  I've been loads better at consistently running.

This was all just running through my head on my run today after work, when my running buddy who doesn't run with me once again canceled our run (he had a late meeting scheduled).  I was having a really crappy run.  I didn't run last week because I had a cold and I didn't run the week before because of Thanksgiving.  And I just got new shoes that still need some breaking in.  And it was cold.  (Virginia cold at least - not Ohio or Utah cold, but I'm starting to get acclimated to the weather here.)  So I was silently cursing my running buddy who doesn't run with me because if not for him, I would have just gone home.  (But I figured since I had my gear, I might as well go.)  A car stopped for me to cross the street as I was plodding along and stayed still for longer than was really necessary.  I looked at the driver and mouthed "thank you" and suddenly he gave me a huge thumbs up and said (or possibly also mouthed - the windows were up so I couldn't tell), "Good Job!"  And I knew that I wasn't really doing a good job, but it still made me feel good.  Like somehow I was winning.

And I was winning.  And I'm not talking about beating all the other people that weren't out there.  I was just winning myself.  I was beating that other Kristin that had just wanted to go home and not run in the cold.  I was out there getting better at running and being the running Kristin and not the Kristin that always finds excuses not to run.  And you know what? It was still a really crappy run.  It was still hard and cold and my feet still hurt, but I was still out there.  And as I approached the end of the run to the last hill back up to my car, I passed another runner who just gave me a big high five - just kind of a "yeah, we're runners together!"  And I made it up the last hill and finished my run and felt good.  There's probably a metaphor or something in there for you; you'll have to find it yourself.

And there's no real point to this post.  Just that that I'm running again thanks to my running buddy who never runs with me.  I'm sure we'll plan to run together again and, who knows, maybe we'll actually run together again sometime.  But for now it just feels good to be back on the running band wagon.

*. One girl asked how far I usually go, to which I replied, usually three miles.  She asked, "How long does that take - about 2 hours?"  She did not make the cut.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

a week of house arrest - one for my med school friends

Well, as usual, I am not very good at updating my blog.  I always think I'll be better, but you know what they say about good intentions....

So, I actually have something semi-interesting to say in this post.  Or at least something to say to people when they ask, "So, what have you been up to lately?"  The answer this time is, "I just has shoulder surgery."

Over Christmas I dislocated my shoulder twice in one day.  I had to go to the ER.  There was a pretty cool doctor there who was able to get it back in without having to sedate me.  I thought it was an extremely interesting process.  A very good skill to have as an ER doc.  (I was especially grateful the second time I was there when he just called me back to the admitting room and put it back again without me having to wait again.)

So, when I got back to Virginia (the dislocating happened in Pennsylvania) I went to the doctor and got an MRI where they discovered that due to the many times my shoulder popped in and out of joint (sometimes with a complete dislocation, but many more times with something called a subluxation, which is basically a partial dislocation) I had sustained a lot of bone loss.  In my mind, that meant that there were tiny fragments of bone floating around in my shoulder, but it turns out that is not the case.  Really what happens is that due to the force of the dislocation, the bone kind of gets smashed down, if that makes any kind of sense.  Aaaaanyway, due to the bone damage, my doctor recommended surgery to try to tighten things up in my shoulder to bring stability so that I wouldn't have to have a much more intense bone reconstruction surgery.

On February 11, I headed to the National Harbor Surgery Center for arthroscopic surgery.  That is some very cool surgery.  My surgeon just did three little cuts - two in the front and one in the back - each about a centimeter long.  He originally intended on just doing one in the front, but once he got in there, he found that there was more bone damage than he had thought from the MRI, so he wanted to tighten things up more.  Pretty much if I have even one more dislocation or subluxation, I'm done - I will have no choice but to have the bone reconstruction surgery.  (So, obviously I'm being extra careful in the recovery stage.)

There were some kind of cool things about the surgery.  First, the hospital gown.  It had a connection that could be hooked up to a plug type thing in every room in the surgery center that heated it.  It was super nice after the surgery to be nice and toasty in my gown.  I would not object to having one of these in my home. Then, during the surgery I actually woke up twice.  It wasn't a big deal because they had put something called a nerve block on my arm so I actually couldn't feel anything for about 12 hours.  But it was weird opening my eyes (I was lying on my side) and seeing the anesthesiologist.  He just asked me if I was awake and I think I said yes and he put me back under.  And finally, what you've been waiting for - the pictures.  They take pictures every step of the way, apparently.

Here are some pictures of the bone loss - the pen mark is where the bone should be.

 And here's a stitch that the surgeon put tightening the ligaments.  (There are apparently 4 stitches on the inside of my body right now.)

Well, hopefully this will stabilize my shoulder so that it will no longer dislocate.  I had to take a week off work to recover.  My kind mother come down from Pennsylvania to take my to the surgery and take care of me for the first couple days.  After that I was just kind of stuck around the apartment because I wasn't allowed to drive.  But I did watch the first four seasons of Castle in that week.  And now I have to wear a sling for 6 weeks.  I can take it off to drive and work as long as I am very very careful.  Under no circumstances am I allowed to lift my left arm via the shoulder at all.  This makes it more difficult to do things I have always taken for granted, like dressing myself and washing my hair.  And I still haven't found a way to put my hair in a ponytail or put on eye-liner using just one hand.  (If you have any ideas, let me know.)  I start physical therapy next week and I will have to do it for about 6 months.  Then hopefully I will be back to regular people shoulder use again.  I will lose some of my range of motion, but as I'm not a world class baseball pitcher, the stability will be a nice trade off.  All of this will make my upcoming trip to New Zealand interesting, but hopefully this will all be worth it in the end.

And for anyone interested in seeing all my surgery pictures....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

boxing day

I watched my first ever boxing match last night with a few of my coworkers.  I mean first ever that wasn't, you know, part of a movie or the Olympic highlights.  It was the match between Marquez and Pacquiao, which was apparently a big deal, if you follow boxing, which I don't.  (I think none of you do either because, unlike other sporting events, I didn't see a huge upswing of Facebook posts with a play by play of the action.)  And watching the match was the reason people were there!  It wasn't like we were watching a moving and then afterward, we were like - hey a boxing match is on, let's watch it.

As I'm sure you are aware by now, Marquez knocked Pacquiao out, which I found a little horrifying.  Apparently, at this level, people don't usually get knocked out - they win by the rules of hitting, or something, with judges.  I guess the thing that surprised me the most was how much blood there was.  Perhaps this shouldn't have seemed unusual to me, but since all of my boxing experience has been with movies, and movies tend to dramatize things, I wasn't expecting so much gore.  But, in this case, the movies were right.  Marquez threw his hands up in victory, literally covered in his own blood.

This leads me to a few questions, which I hope my boxing enthusiast friends (or friend? anyone?) can answer:

Question 1:  Seriously, why is this a thing?  Why is watching two guys (or girls, as the case may be these days) purposely try to hurt each other a sport?  I would say that men would know the answer to this question more than women, but last night one of the biggest fans was a woman, so this question is open to everyone.  What can make someone get into the ring, knowing they are going to get hurt?  A lot.  I can hardly stand getting blood drawn, knowing it will hurt, even though it is in a controlled and expected way.  I can't imagine wanting to get beat up in a new way every time for money.

Question 2:  What was Mitt Romney doing at the match?  He had ring side seats with his wife.  If you think about people you would expect to be at such an event, would Mitt top your list?  For me, he probably wouldn't have even made the top, say, thousand people I'd have expected to be there, but maybe those of you who know more about him can tell me.

Question 3:  Do you think we could get some of the United States congressmen to start boxing professionally?  Pacquiao is apparently a congressman in the Philippines, and I say if they can do it, we can too, right?  I still wouldn't want to watch it, but it might make politics a little more interesting.

I will wait patiently for the answers to this questions and in the mean time, I will be over here trying to remove the bloody images from my head.  Until I hear from you, perhaps this will help....

Saturday, October 20, 2012

hair apparent

One thing I've learned about living in Our Nation's Capital is that where ever you go you are certain to meet interesting people who keep you on your toes.

Last night, I took the metro to meet a friend to see a movie.  As I was exiting the station, a thin young woman wearing a hijab said something to me, but due to her accent, I couldn't understand what she was saying.  I assumed it was something about the weather or the traffic and I didn't want to embarrass myself telling her I didn't understand, so I just smiled and nodded, as one does in these situations.

She smiled.  "You have very nice hair," she repeated.

"Oh!" I said, taken aback.  This had not been what I was expecting.  "Thank you!"  My hair right now is very long.  It's what I call "mermaid length" or to about the middle of my back.  One of the guys at work told me he thinks it's "striking" but I think it probably looks more like this, though not so red these days.

"Yes," she continued. "Very pretty.  May I touch it?"

I was unprepared for this question.  Believe it or not, this is the first time a stranger has asked if they could touch my hair.  And as I never thought this would happen to me in real life, I didn't decide before hand what I would do, as they tell you in young women you should do.  ("Decide now to never ever let a stranger touch your hair!")  So before I knew it I said yes.  (I'm bad at saying no anyway, plus I'm a people pleaser.)

"It is very soft!" she exclaimed.

Again I thanked her and was secretly gratified because I actually had tried to do my hair in such a way that it would be soft.  So I was glad that I could get an external source verifying that my hard work had paid off.

"Yes," she continued, "very nice hair!  You should sell it.  We would buy your hair."

And now the conversation had taken a completely unexpected turn.  Who was the "we"?  Was this woman some kind of hair scout for a wig shop?  If I wanted to sell my hair could I just say yes then and there she would bring out a pair of clippers and give me $100 or whatever the going rate for hair is these days?  Suffice it to say, I was rather taken aback and I just mumbled some kind of thanks and we parted ways.

But it is comforting to know that if I'm ever in a tight spot for money, I can sell my hair, à la Jo March, if only I can happen to run into that women again on the yellow line.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

books books books

When I was at BYU, I took a children's literature class.  I didn't need to, of course.  Children's literature hardly has anything to do with computer science.  I even had to get special permission to take it because it was an elementary education class, I think.  Anyway, I had to get someone from some department to sign a form so I could sign up.  It was an absolute delight to be able to excuse reading because it was an assignment.

My teacher was a librarian, of course.  I can't remember now where he libraried.  Maybe at the BYU library.  I do remember a story he told us of a lunch he took at Wendy's one day.  He had been very much looking forward to getting into a book he was reading for a brief half hour before having to get back to a very busy day.  While there, he happened to run into an acquaintance who was a reporter for the local paper who sat with him and talked through his whole lunch.  Of course he was disappointed, but he could hardly have turned the man away.  In a few days an editorial appeared in the paper about how the reporter had saved the lonely librarian from eating a sad lunch alone.  My teacher exclaimed aloud after reading, "Alone! Richard - I was reading!"

Lately I have been listening to books more than reading them.  It appeals to the side of my nature that doesn't like to know what's coming.  When listening to a book, you don't know when the end of a chapter is coming or even the end of a book.  And I can listen while doing a great number of other things, so I can still feel rather productive while getting lost in another world.  It does carry the risk of being rather rudely interrupted when the phone rings, since all my audio books are on my phone.  When reading a book, you can just ignore the phone, but when listening on the phone the ring stops the audio book in order to ring, leaving one to exclaim, "Why are you calling now?! Don't you know Edmond Dantes has just traded places with the corpse of the Abbe Faria and is waiting to be carried out of his prison to his grave?"

The point is, people often ask me what I've been reading lately, so here are the last ten books I've read (or listened to), for your judgement:

1. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (ongoing)
2. Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (ongoing)
3. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (still a favorite)
4. The Naming by Alison Croggon
5. The Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
6. The Land of Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer
7. The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie
8. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie
9. Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie
10 The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Honestly I can recommend all of these books without reservation.  So, go ahead and pick one up today.  And feel free to post your own recommendations in the comments.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

the terminator

It is a well known and documented fact that I hate spiders.  They are creepy and gross and I suspected they all have a secret desire to eat my face.  I have made a deal with them that if they don't come into my living area, I will not kill them when I am in their living area.  (Really, this deal applies to all creatures, not just spiders.)

I'm very good at holding up my part of the bargain. When I'm out running and I see a spider on the trail, I very carefully avoid it and do not squish it, as it would be so easy to do.  When I am out camping (a rare occasion, I know), I let sleeping spiders lie and I don't kill them, even when they're close to me.  (Unless they get into my hair; all bets are off when things get into your hair.)  I don't even knock down their filthy little webs when they are outside my door, as long as they are outside and seem like they won't try to come in, in good faith.  I'm trusting like that.

But now I live in the south.  I have had several instances of spiders in my bedroom.  So far (knock on wood) they have been small "harmless" looking ones, so I've just let them be.  I suspect my sister Alison would be proud because she always says to let them live anyway.  And having nine foot ceilings and a vacuum without a hose probably has something to do with it.

If there is one thing I will not tolerate, however, it is spiders in the bathroom.  Bathrooms are the area in the house where you are most vulnerable!  You're either using the facilities or showering and half the time I don't have my contacts in when I'm in there, so OH MY GOSH IS THAT A SPIDER OR A BAND-AID?!

The point to all this is that I have become somewhat of an expert of killing spiders in the bathroom.  Well, I've killed one so far, but it was such an easy experience that I feel like I could do it again.  I was even in bare feet!  I just saw it there, didn't panic, grabbed some toilet paper and flushed it.  I was so proud of myself I decided to blog about it because most of you will know what a big deal this is to me.  And also because Tawna has been bugging me again to update my blog and this seemed like as good a topic as any.

P.S.  Doing a google image search of "no spiders allowed" to find the above stock photo lead me to the most disgusting search result page I have ever stumbled upon and it made me want to vomit, so I hope you're happy.  But I did find this guy, so maybe it was worth it.... aaaaaaaaw!  Though there is still about a 50% chance I would try to flush that thing if I found it in the bathroom

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

north to the future

Alaska is the most amazingly beautiful place I've ever been in my life.  I hope Texas won't feel too bad, but everything really is bigger in Alaska.  There are more mountains than in any other place and they are huge.  The rivers are wide and wild.  Even the small trees are as tall as buildings.  It really is almost enough to turn me into an outdoors-woman.  I can only imagine the hikes and camping and climbs that are enjoyed by the adventurous.

A recent trip took 26 members of the Neeley family to the last frontier.  We started in Anchorage and then drove up to Denali National Park.  (Denali is Mount McKinley.)  We spent a few days up there exploring the area.  We were very lucky in that we got a sunny day to see the mountain.  Apparently, "the mountain" is only able to be seen about 30% of the time because of the weather.

After Denali, we headed back to Anchorage.  The plan from the very beginning of planning this trip was for the Neeleys to participate in the Anchorage marathon.  Most of us (including me) did the half marathon.  It was a beautiful run.  It was hilly, which you should know if you are planning on running it.  But it was one of my favorite races.

And we ended the trip on a cruise from Wittier sailing to Vancouver.  We sailed through Glacier Bay, which has some amazing views.  We had stops in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.  In Skagway, my siblings and I took the goldrush train up the mountain.  Juneau we went zip lining in the hugest trees I've ever seen.  And Ketchikan was salmon fishing where even I caught a small pink.  It was a delightful time.  I had a cabin at the back of the ship with a balcony and it was just lovely to sit out there and watch the country roll by.

I'm sure the thing that Alaskans hate the most is people's surprise with the light.  I landed in Anchorage at 1 in the morning and it was still just twilight outside.  By chance, we were there at the summer solstice, so we got to enjoy the longest days of the year.  If I could handle the darkness of the winter, I would absolutely love the light of the summer.

In conclusion, Alaska is beautiful, and you should definitely make every effort to visit.  Now I only have 3 states left until I've been to all 50.