Friday, March 31, 2006

Houston, we have a baby!

I just got the call that Z. had her baby boy by C-section at 2:00 a.m. this morning.

7 lbs., half an ounce. No name yet. She wants to get to know him for a couple of days first.

From all accounts, both Mom and baby are doing well.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

No baby yet...

I came home last night a bit worried... Z. was in full-on labour, water broken, but not much else happening.

Her sister-in-law, who is a nurse, was there, along with J., the Chinese medicine doctor... so... people with medical training... I thought, "Well, Sarah, you've never had a baby, so... What do you know?"

I just called this morning. No baby yet. The midwife was finally there and decided that the baby is in distress (well, duh!) and has advised that Z. go to the hospital.

They are just preparing to take her to the hospital now... Will update later...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Z. was apparently getting ready for the "real" part of labour. Her water broke at 3:40 a.m. People have been taking shifts with her ever since. At the moment, I am on a "rest" shift... will go back soon.

Contractions are at 5.5 - 5.0 minutes apart now. When they are consistently 5 minutes apart, the midwife will be called.

Z. is doing great. She's completely exhausted (already ... it's been 2.5 days, after all). Apart from being a bit weepy, she's strong, focussed and very, very calm.... meditating most of the time.

She's one strong Mama, that's for sure.

No update

So... no update on Z. yet. She was still having contractions last night, but not much else happened. She managed to have a shower, which made her feel better and then started eating like no one has ever seen her eat before in her entire life. Then, she crashed and wanted to sleep.

Most of us left, thinking maybe it wasn't quite time for Baby yet.

We shall see... I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Legs and baby (not belonging to the same person!)

Two quick things...

Item one (less important)

I had another physio appointment today. As usual... many needles... though not as many as last time.

Good news: Knee is feeling better (though still puffy).

Bad news: the physio says he would not be surprised if it IS compartment syndrome... though was VERY careful about not giving me a diagnosis, telling me to wait and see what the doctor says... sigh...

More good news: I am now barred from doing squats until further notice, as it increases the swelling in my leg. (Woo hoo! No more squats!)

More bad news: I am still barred from running, or even walking, during workouts.

Item two (very important!)

I will keep this blog posting short, as my friend Z. over at Peel me a grape in labour. She is giving birth at home, with friends and family taking shifts being with her, and a midwife and her assistant to do the actual delivery.

My role (seeing as how I've never had a baby myself, nor do I have the slighest idea how to deliver one) is to keep everyone fed and nourished through the process. Whipped up a lasagne for dinner last night and tonight, it is slow cooker stew. (Baby wasn't expected for another week, so I had to do some scrambling on the food...)

When I left her house late this morning, Z. had been in labour for 35+ hours and still not dilated. Another close friend, J., is a Chinese medicine doctor and was preparing to do some accupuncture to move things along a bit.

I am on my way home to grab the stew and then go back over to Z.'s house for a few hours.

I am supposed to study tonight, but somehow I can not focus on my reading!!!

Will update again after baby arrives...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Update on training - a.k.a. Workout 101 - Year in review

I realize that I have posted about running and injuries lately, but not actually “training”. I’m quite sure that I drive my trainer nuts. For me, “training” is not about having him shout commands at me (this rarely happens, actually) or me saying that I want a bigger this or a smaller that (which never happens, mostly because it doesn’t occur to me to ask). When I started my “training” late last summer (right before school started), I didn’t really know what I wanted, except to get fit, be healthy and have some balance in my life.

I did want to lose weight, but I did not want that to be the focus of the training. I have exercised for the purpose of losing weight before and succeeded. Sort of. My weight plummeted to unhealthy levels and I was less healthy, it seemed, than when I carried extra pounds.

This time, I wanted to learn about health and lifelong fitness, which is quite different from exercising like a fiend to be skinny.

As this academic year draws to an end, it occurs to me that not only is it Year One of the Ph.D. but that my physical training could be considered an extra course. We could call it Workout 101. I spent the year learning basic principles, practicing regularly, logging results (and “journaling”, so there’s a mix of both quantitative and qualitative results there), and various other activities. The biggest challenge in the first semester was overcoming my fears about actually being in a gym… especially one populated by young, buff muscle boys (some of whom grunt in the most inhuman manner). Ew. Thank God for iPod, is all I can say!

I also re-discovered a love of running in the fall… and went forward with such zealous enthusiasm that by Remembrance Day, I was beginning to feel the first twinges of what would go on to become a nagging knee and leg injury, lasting through the rest of the winter (and continues…)

Around the same time as the injury, I began to worry about if (or how) I could make this a lifestyle change over the long term. I realized that my ignorance about how a human body (MY human body) works was holding me back. I had led such a cerebral existence for such a long time, it’s like I wasn’t even connected to my body. This was evidenced by my own lack of being able to “feel” certain things during workouts, my awkwardness and general lack of skill. I figured out that in order to “get connected” that I would have to bring a cerebral element into my workouts.

Hence, I became the only person in the entire gym (that I noticed) whose trainer walked around with a basic anatomy book, pointing out what muscles were being used in which exercise, naming them, explaining how they’re all connected and how they worked in relation to other bits. I was being a geek… but I was getting it.

I managed to stay active over the holidays and moved on to the on to second semester, where I began to explore how exercise related to my life values. Since “fitting in” with the muscle heads was not exactly one of my life aspirations, I had to figure out why all this was important to me.

I must say… doing that was fairly ground-breaking… Things have felt different… better… since then.

I (usually) didn’t need anyone to stand next to me and bark at me, “Three more! Two more!... OK, fourteen million more!” I am ferociously diligent and nauseatingly dedicated all on my own.

What I did need was someone to help me figure out what it can mean to be fit and healthy in a general, long-term sense… learn how my own body works, what it can (and can not) do, how to push it and when to back off. Just for fun (because I can’t help it) I had to go and explore things like how exercise relates to spirituality and life callings and other “out there” stuff. Of course, I told my trainer about all this. I’m not sure he quite knew what to do with me.

As the semester ends, my training sessions are also coming to an end. I had a 10-pack of sessions that pretty much took me through the term. My trainer will only be at his current job for a few more months and then moving on to bigger and better things. And I am not feeling particularly inspired to train with anyone else at the moment and so, I figure it is time to try this out on my own for a while.

Signing up for swimming lessons was part of a new quest to be independent, learn new things and also, to drag myself out of a bit of a mental rut I was in about not being able to run (still!)

I have tried my hand at putting together my own training plan, too. I talked it over with Chris. He wrote down some pointers for me and then sent me on my way to go try it, saying he would review it if I wanted, and give me some feed back.

Well, after spending two hours reviewing all the notes from every single training session since last August, doing some research on the Net and writing out and subsequently trashing three different workouts before I came up with a plan that I thought was reasonable, of course I wanted feedback! E-mailing it to him felt a bit like I was handing in a final assignment after a year-long course in “Basic Workout”.

On Friday I got my feedback: “Pretty good.”

At first, I felt kind of deflated. “‘Pretty good?’” I thought to myself. “After an entire academic year of working on this and two hours researching and drafting for this 3-week plan alone, I come out with a ‘pretty good’? Hell, he may as well have just said, ‘Passable…. but really rather mediocre.’”

Then I remembered that this trainer, for whom my term of endearment is “Sadist!”, doesn’t exactly gush forth with “warm and fuzzy” type feedback. (And really… what trainer does? That's not what we pay them for.) And so, I re-adjusted my perfectionist attitude and decided to be OK with it.

And so, I will end the academic year with letter grades in my Ph.D. courses that are respectable and what would appear to be a passing grade of “pretty good” in Workout 101.

Still though… the thought of working out on my own scares the living daylights out of me... much more so than doing a Ph.D. thesis!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Instead of whining...

I am having a TMD (total meltdown day), but instead of blogging about my woes, I thought I'd share this bit of inspiration instead.

Moment of glory for autistic teen

Thanks to Steamer for sending it to me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

General update

OK, I'm way too tired and shouldn't even be blogging, but what the hell… A quick general update is in order.

School – In short, I am loving it. It’s a crapload of work and one thing that makes me sad is that I am always strapped for time. I’m currently reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Carlos Alberto Torres’ work on multiculturalism, democracy and education (too tired to remember the exact title though…) They are densely-packed works that pretty much make my brain hurt. That’s what grad school is all about, I guess. I have to say, I like this theory stuff… and I’ve never been a theorist before! God, what on earth has happened to me?

Work – Again, far too busy, but good. The replacement assistant (God, that sounds awful! But it is not, honest!) is Carmen. She’s a fellow M.A. (Spanish) graduate and we are working well together. She knows a good deal about how the University works and is catching on quicker than I expected. I am so grateful to have her there.

A fellow blogger asked what I do… I coordinate research projects at the Language Research Centre at the University of Calgary. So, between school, work and the gym (all of which are at the U), I pretty much live on campus these days…

Fitness – I have cut back a bit on the gym stuff… still keeping up with physio and rehab exercises though. Basically, my workouts were just getting too long (2-2.5 hours a day, six days a week), so I have scaled back considerably. Still a bit worried about ballooning, given that “land cardio” is pretty much out, but I’m trying to keep those worries in check…

Had my second swimming lesson tonight. I must say, I am enjoying this class! Today we worked on how to use your legs. As usual, I struggled when trying to learn new physical activities, but for once, I was not the only one! In fact, I was secretly pleased to see that I was not at the very bottom of the class, which was what I expected.

Still though… far from perfect. I can’t swim in a straight line. I go off to one side, have to stop and then start again. The teacher says I could have one leg stronger than the other, or just use one more. Says it will even out if I swim more and will also get better when we add in arms.

He poked a bit of fun at me at the end of the class when he asked us all for some feedback on what we had learned. I said, “I hate that I can’t go in a straight line.”

He said, “That’s OK, Sarah. I’m a little obsessive compulsive myself.”

At least we laughed about it. So in short, although I am not doing perfectly, I don’t entirely suck, either. And I’m having fun in the class. And a healthy dose of fun is essential these days.

In general – What can I say? It is the end of the semester and like every other student on campus, I am swamped. I get up early and go to bed late. Tonight I felt my eyes drooping on the drive home from work, so I found a CD of Maroon 5 in my collection and let their rendition of “Highway to Hell” keep me conscious until I got home. It’s not my usual driving music, but a tuckered driver has to do these things sometimes.

I miss seeing my friends regularly and communicating with my family, too. So if you’re out there and reading this blog, feel free to take the initiative to stay in touch over the next couple of weeks, please! I miss you!

Anyway, I’m all nestled into bed here, flanked by the two cats and this laptop screen is getting just a little too bright for these tired student eyes. I should stay up and study, but tonight, I just don't have it in me...

Besides I have to get up early tomorrow to finish the last 20 pages or so of reading before my 9:00 a.m. seminar class in Educational Leadership, so I’ll sign off for now...

Over and out.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

March 21 - Post 2 of 2 - Ultrasound tests today

I went for the ultrasound of my leg today. And believe me, that leg was “good and aggravated” by the time I had my appointment. I hiked up my right pant leg and the technician did her thing. I heard the computer give a little “ding” every time she selected an area to highlight.

Afterwards, she went and got the doctor. He came in and had a look… The he felt my leg and said, “What IS that? Is that muscle?” prodding my shin. He gave me a wink and said, “Are you just showing off your big muscles?”

“Hardly!” I said, looking at my puffy leg.

He said that the fascia was intact, and seemed puzzled. Said he’d had another patient who presented with similar symptoms not long ago. His suspicion is that the muscle has grown faster and bigger than the fascia can handle and so, the fascia has stretched (in the same way that you could stretch Saran Wrap, without tearing it). The muscle bulges out of this stretched area, causing swelling and pain.

He examined my other leg, to do a comparison… No swelling there… Why it would happen in one leg and not the other is beyond me, unless it is related to the knee somehow…

He said, “My guess is that the muscle has grown too big too quickly for the fascia to handle it.”

I looked at him like he was nuts. It’s not like I take steroids… or even supplements. I stay away from all that crap. I stick to the Canada Food Guide pretty religiously… Though if I have too much of anything, it is probably red meat. I cannot imagine how my leg muscle could have grown so fast that it stretched out my fascia… and only on one side??? That’s nuts! But then again… I am no medical professional.

“What can I do about it?” I asked.

“Stop.” He said. “Stop exercising. Stop living. Stop breathing. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s much you can do. Probably if you stopped exercising completely, it would go away. If I hadn’t seen that other case, I wouldn’t have known what to think. It’s totally weird… The stretched fascia is all I can think of.”

I said, “Would weight training make it worse, do you think?”

He replied, “Oh very likely. I’m not a big fan of weights myself…But wait and see what the sports medicine specialist says… He’s the expert, not me.”

I left happy, knowing that the fascia is not torn.

I left unhappy, having been told to “stop exercising” and that there was no clear (preliminary) diagnosis. I was also unhappy to hear that weight training is probably making it worse.

Not only has weight training become one activity I like, given that I am barred from running and all other “land cardio”, it is also one activity I can do... have learned to do... And have developed a modest amount of confidence in doing. Not to mention that certain exercises are part of my physiotherapist-prescribed rehab for the knee.

I will wait and see what the sports med specialist says next Friday. In the meantime, I have eliminated calf-raises from my weight training program and lowered the weights on exercises that impact my calves.

I have Googled “stretched fascia” and came up with nothing… Sites on plantar fasciitis and tummy tucks… that’s it.

So, if anyone out there has ever heard of this, please leave a comment. So far, this has stumped my physiotherapist, the ultra sound doctor and the sports medicine specialist.

What gets me is I’m not a top level athlete. I’m not even a middle-level athlete. Hell, I’d be lucky to be allowed at the back of the pack! Argh!!

Oh yeah… on a good note, my first swimming class went well yesterday. I won’t post details, as this post is already long, so I’ll just say that it was good. More details in a future post.

March 21 - Post 1 of 2 - Yesterday's run

Yesterday, I ran.

4 K.

5 K in total if you count the warm-up and cool down laps I walked around the track.

It’s the first time since November 26 that I have just gone out and run. No run / walk combination… just run.

Now, you’d think that with a messed up knee, tendonitis and some weird, unidentified lower leg thing going on that might not be such a good idea.

But it was doctor’s orders. Honest!

See, I had my ultrasound of my lower leg today. After the X-rays came back normal and the bone scan had only a couple of hot spots at the knee joint, there was nothing to explain why my right shin is swollen… and sore… all the time! No matter what I do, it’s swollen… though after the gym, it seems worse. So, the sports med guy suspected a soft tissue injury… maybe a torn fascia. (That’s the Saran-wrap type tissue surrounding the muscles, as I learned.)

The doctor told me that the day before I should, “Get out and run. Just have at ’er. Get that tissue good and aggravated so we can really see what’s going on.” He did say, “Don’t go crazy, but we want that tissue all inflamed so we can get a good look at it.”

So I did. I strapped on my sexy bionic leg, as Rob would call it (a.k.a. the knee brace) and hit the track.

My plan was to do 5 K… just like the “old days” (last fall!) I wanted to see if I still had it in me. I did not take my HR monitor, nor did I time myself. My plan was to use it as an exercise in listening to my body and have that dictate the pace.

After about 3.5 km, I noticed something I had not expected. Blisters on my right arch. I realized that I had not been running since putting the Superfeet insoles into my shoes. I guess the run / walk program didn’t cause enough friction for blisters to form. I’ve had arch blisters before so badly that they bled. I wasn’t interested in going down that road again, so I finished out the kilometre and then cooled down.

I have to say… It felt fantastic! (Even if it was a bit short...)

People ask me what it is about running that I like. I am normally an articulate person, but rarely can I find the words to adequately answer this question. I usually say things like, “Well, I suck at team sports (mostly because I don’t actually know how to play most of them!)” or “It’s not really competitive…” But in fact, that’s baloney… I tend to compete against myself every time I get out there… I know my best and worst paces and times in my head, the way some people know hockey stats.

I have also said, “I like the solitude… The meditational aspect.”

That is true… but also incomplete, as evidenced by my own desire to “get plugged in” to a running community after attending the running symposium earlier this month.

I realized yesterday what it is.

It’s very simple.

When I run, I feel free.

I don’t know why, but I feel this tremendous joy that starts somewhere deep in my soul and bubbles up, like effervescent champagne. It’s happiness, but… more than that…

I feel alive. Strong. Aware. Vibrant.

It’s sort of how I used to feel when I danced, but with running, it is much more intense.

I could say orgasmic, but to be honest, it’s not quite like that either… (Besides, that might be a bit cliché, as well as being inaccurate.)

Nah… it’s nothing so melodramatic. It’s simple… strong… free.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I am not a fast runner. In fact, I am very slow. But who cares? I suspect that anyone who runs… who loves running… whatever their pace… feels much the same way. Otherwise, why would we do such a crazy activity that is so hard on the body?

Yesterday, I felt free... for the first time in months.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Day six of rest - Back to normal tomorrow

So, it won't be quite a full week of rest, but that is OK. I feel much more like myself now and I am glad I took this week off. I did some research on overtraining and I identified with pretty much every symptom I read about, so chances are good that's what was going on.

Tomorrow though, I'll ease back into activity.

Well... sort of...

See, on doctor's orders, I have to run tomorrow.

Yes, you read that right.

I have the ultrasound of my tibia on Tuesday, to see if there's any soft tissue damage there. The sports med specialist told me to go out for a run and "get the tissue good and aggravated, so we can get a good look at what is going on".

Well okey dokey!

I will take that knee brace out for its first real run tomorrow.

After not having run in so long, I am not sure if I'll be able to do much... I suspect my cardiovascular health has taken a bit of a nosedive... so I may have take it easy. We'll see...

I have this feeling I'll be setting up an appointment with my physio guy for later this week, after I've followed those particular doctor's orders!

Oh yeah... and as if that's not enough to jump back into the swing of things with, tomorrow night, I start swimming lessons!

Big day tomorrow!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Day five of rest - Remembering to laugh

When I got up today, everything hurt. So, I sat on the couch for a bit, with the heating pad on my back, frozen peas on my knee, a cat on my lap, my morning coffee in one hand and the Tao of Pooh in the other.

It wasn't exactly what you'd call a pretty picture, but it did happen to be exactly what I needed.

Once all the creaks were worked out and cobwebs cleared out by caffeine, I went and met A. at the gym for our peer-tutoring session. I forgot my shoes at home and so, the whole thing got delayed by 45 minutes or so, while I zoomed home and back to the university again, just to get my running shoes, which I'd taken home during my rest week, so I could do my squats in them. (Yeah, like that actually happened!)

Normally, I'm a pretty together person, but... no so much lately! Anyway, A. was very good natured about the whole thing and patiently waited for me to get my life together. I did point out, "This is the end of my rest week. Can you imagine what I was like at the beginning?"

In any event, we spent a couple of hours at the gym, trading notes on what we each do in our workouts. It was both useful and fun. We spent as much time laughing as we did showing each other different exercises... I feel inspired to start again!

But.... Not just yet.... I have one more day of rest before then, and I intend to savour it!

After the gym, we had lunch and visited. A. said something to the effect of, "It's been a long time since we've spent an entire day together!" She's right. And it felt great!

After that, I had tea with Turtle and then came home... far too pooped to party tonight, I'm afraid. I have done a bit of web surfing tonight and so far, my informal research on overtraining shows that I am exhibiting pretty much all the classic signs of it, so I think a week off was much needed.

Next week, I will change things up a bit with my fitness routine. I have signed up for swimming lessons! No doubt, there will be lots more laughs to be had as I report on that new adventure. As my friend Z. puts it, "I swim like a rock".

So stay tuned... the adventures will continue!

Tomorrow though, I will be very busy... resting!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Day three of rest - Theme word for today: "perspective"

I dreamt of my Mum last night. She died more than six years ago. I don’t like to analyze these things too much, but suffice to say that it throws me for a loop whenever I dream of her so vividly that I wake up with a physical ache that starts deep inside and radiates outwards.

You know what that feels like… the pain of saying good-bye to someone you love… I don’t have to tell you about it, I’m sure.

I had an overwhelming sense of “life is short” for the rest of the day.

I took my time this morning… actually tasted my breakfast, chilled out to the soothing Latin sounds of Cesaria Evora in the car (as opposed to the usual classic rock that accompanies me on the busy morning streets) and made a point to notice the beauty of the hoar frost that graced the trees of the campus this morning.

I went to class prepared, after having done all my readings. I was able to both listen and contribute, which I can’t do if I’m tired… I either “tune out” or become overly zealous in an effort to make a coherent contribution… But today I was engaged in the process, as they say. It was good.

And I ate.

Steak. (Yes, Turtle, you were right... steak is a good thing!)

I ate steak in the student pub with my buddy, Steamer, using up a discount coupon that was soon to expire (student budget and all...)

You could say that Steamer and I are in the same “cohort” in our Ph.D. program, but since we were the only two accepted into our specialization of Educational Leadership this year, we are a cohort of two… on different, though very similar journeys.

We have had no time to support one another or talk about our work in weeks. Today we did. We talked about losing – and regaining – our balance and how this is part of the process. We have both lost our balance a bit this year… and it was good to be reminded that this is normal.

This afternoon, I mapped out my entire schedule for next week… including time for studying, work, working out and research… and that ultra sound for my tibia.

Even though next week looks crazy again… I can see that it is week 11 of 14 in the semester… We are getting close to the end. Mapping it all out brings me a sense of relief and clarity. At least I know what is going on and what to expect when... even if the days are 12 to 14 hours long before I get to go home.

What is lost is social time, so please forgive me if I don’t see you next week… It is nothing personal! It is the end of the semester and this is all quite normal… So please don’t get upset with me if I decline invitations or seem out of touch. I will make up for it after school is done… Promise!

Despite the fact that I woke up feeling “off centre” and sad, the day has gotten progressively better… I feel a certain sense of peace and a lot more balance than I have in a few weeks.

And my knee isn’t so grumpy today. It’s not perfect… but it’s not screaming, either.

Angie was right… I feel twinges of wanting to work out again… but I will not… I know that I am finally starting to “wind down” and need to be as disciplined about getting rest as I was about working out.

Going home now… Supper is waiting for me in the fridge tonight… And I have an early date with my pillow, too...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Day two of "rest" - Irony or "bull-oney"?

Here it is the end of the work day today. I find myself troubled because:

Things have become insanely busy at work… to the extent that I have just realized that I have quite the headache from not eating… sigh… Lunch time came and went. I finally inhaled an orange at about 2:00 p.m…. Not good… Not good at all!

I had hoped to go to the library this afternoon and do some research. Didn’t happen. My primary focus is supposed to be my studies, dammit! Oh well…

On Friday, I will say good-bye both to my assistant and Acting Director for an extended period. Everyone is working overtime to try to get a stupid amount of things wrapped up before that happens.

I did think about what it would be like to work out today… Fleetingly… for half a second…. But the thought was quickly chased away by a grumpy knee and another voice that said, “Oh yeah… and with no lunch, like THAT would have been smart!”

I found myself at my wit’s end today with one particular project… to the extent that I blurted out in a meeting, “That’s just bullshit!”

No one has ever heard me talk like that in the workplace before… I’ll use expressions like, “That’s baloney!” or “That’s ridiculous!” But noooooo… Today, the “inside voice” had its way…. And got me a few sideways looks, if for no other reason than I never use “bad language” at work. To say that I am feeling a bit of pressure is rather an understatement. (If it is any consolation… I think my words had the desired effect… The decision that was made was ultimately much more sensible than how it started out… Thank God!)

So now I am off to run a couple of errands and go home to get my reading done for my seminar class tomorrow... A class I really rather like and so, I am especially motivated to be well prepared for it!

Oh yeah… and lunch… Must go get some lunch… supper… whatever….

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Not so close to the edge today...

I wonder if any studies have been done on the psychology of rest?

Yesterday was my last workout for a week. And so… with the exception of an active notes-swapping session I have planned with A. this coming weekend, I won’t pass through the turn-styles of the gym for days… And when I walked out of there yesterday, it felt great to leave!

I had to stop by there to pick something up today and didn’t feel the slightest twinge of interest in working out.

How scary is that?

The fact that I had just come from physio, where Tim had once again jabbed me with countless acupuncture needles in my back and legs may have had something to do with it… I just said, “Put the needles wherever you want… They bring so much relief, I don’t care!”

And a few seconds later I added, “We’ve come a long way, haven’t we, Tim?!” I was thinking back to the days when I hated needles... Now I look forward to them!

He agreed and then said that he, too, was in favour of a rest week… (Except for my physio exercises… I still have to do those every day…)

Told me that in retrospect, my injury was most likely the result of too much, too soon… If I’d taken a gentler approach, it may not have happened… Now we need to back pedal and start slow again…

Hhhmm… gentle approach… Now there’s a concept. So, what did I do instead? I hired a trainer and start working out six days a week.

What? You mean that dropping from a size 20 to a size 10 (well… OK… an 8) in a year is not a “gentle approach”? Hhhmmm….

Anyway, I am thoroughly enjoying my rest week so far (complete with coffee treats, I might add!)

Yesterday I made HUGE strides in catching up at work and today I know my head will not hit the pillow before I’ve had some quality studying time.

My laundry is done, bills have been paid and last night… I cooked! For the first time in… well... whenever my last post about cooking was... A while ago... Yesterday was curried lentils and chicken tikka (no recipes again... sorry!)

And I still made it into bed by 10:30 p.m. And I slept better last night than I have in about two weeks.

The cherry on the sundae is that I scored the very last spot in a summer course I need for my program. I haven’t had time to register for it and I heard from two of my classmates today that the course was full, which sent my head into a tailspin… ‘till they told me that someone withdrew and there was one spot left. I pretty much ran straight to a computer and got myself signed up.

So… I guess I did get in a bit of a run, after all! (Ha ha!)

Anyway…. this rest stuff is far too delicious… God, I hope I don’t abandon the gym completely!! (I am a little worried about this...)

For now, back to the books!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Teetering on the edge... trying not to fall into the abyss!

Maybe my theme words for 2005 (“balance” and “health”) should really have been carried over into 2006. Though I do remember saying that they weren’t going to be totally forgotten…

This past week I have realized that somewhere along the way, things are more out of balance than they have been in a long time. So, I had a very tired week… A culmination of doing too much and spreading myself too thin, I’m afraid. I have snapped at people, not returned phone calls and gotten far too little sleep (actually… my sleep has been totally messed up, which makes me grumpy!)

Work has become hideously busy with the fiscal year end approaching. The interim director is good, but simply lacks the history that I have with the place. The assistant is wonderful, but would need to develop more of a skill set than she currently has to help me any more than she does now. And besides, she’s getting ready to leave for her home country to finish her studies for four months. So, I will be sans Director (a.k.a. mentor) and sans Assistant (a.k.a clerical life saver). We have an Interim Director and we will have a temporary assistant, which is much better than what it could be… But still… I feel work weighing heavily on my shoulders at the moment…

And speaking of things weighing heavily, I have noticed that my performance at the gym has been abysmal lately… I lack focus and motivation… Not to mention that I have completely plateaued.

To add insult to injury (literally) … my back began to ache and seize up about a week ago. In my last appointment with Tim (the physiotherapist), he came across loud and clear, “You’re doing too much. You need to back off.” And to drive the point home, I got needles in my thigh, my shin and all up and down my back. I stopped counting how many there were… It wasn’t nice… Though I felt much better the next day.

I started with two knees out of whack. We fixed up the left one, but the right one has been persistent in not healing… To add the lower leg and now back pain is not a good sign. Things should be getting better, not worse.

The word “burnout” has been mentioned to me by more than one person…

So, I have looked at things as objectively and clinically as I can (given my state of near exhaustion these days) and have decided to cut back on a few non-school, non-work related things and spend time focusing on studying, sleeping and generally taking care of myself. At the suggestion of both my physio guy and my trainer, I will take a week off from training and rest.

I really need to catch up on my studies and school work next week, so that is what I will do. I’ll try to keep the blog updated, but if I don’t, you’ll know that I’m busy working on the balance thing…. Not to worry... The "real" Sarah will be back soon. Promise!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bone scan update

Went for the bone scan follow up today. The results were:

  • No stress fracture. (Yaaaay!)
  • No swelling of the lining of the bone. (Yaaaay!)
  • No other "really nasty stuff". (Big sigh of relief...)
What the scan did show was "focal hyperemia and bone reaction at the proximal tibiofibular joint bilaterally, probably due to stress". So in other words, the bones on both lower legs, up near the knees, are trying to repair themselves.

But the exact cause why they are trying to repair themselves is still unknown.

The doctor did look at my legs and saw the swelling in the lower right leg himself. His reaction was the same as my physio guy's, "Well... that's weird."

You gotta love it when specialists use words like "weird".

He did go on to say that it is "probably some variation of normal" and might be soft tissue damage.

He explained that the muscles are covered in a tissue that acts sort of like Saran Wrap. If it tears, that can cause swelling and pain. But he's not sure that's what it is. What will tell us is an ultra sound. So... that's next.

The swelling in my lower leg may or may not be a different issue than what is going on with my bones trying to repair themselves. But the bottom line for now is... sigh... you guessed it... No running.


At least it is not all in my head. And I am very thankful that it is not something "serious". My job now is to be patient, continue strength training, do other activities that do not aggravate it and ... did I mention be patient?

And we all know that I'm so good at being patient (smirk)!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Running Symposium - update

The running symposium was fabulous! The keynote speaker was John “The Penguin” Bingham and he was thoroughly enjoyable. I found myself giggling… then laughing… then throwing my head back, clutching my gut with one hand and wiping away tears of laughter with the other. My favorite bit from his two keynotes was, “Why would you run a marathon in two hours, or three hours… or even four hours, when they give you six? I mean, really??”

I was happy to learn about this “second generation” of runners (i.e. not the die hards of the 1970s) who now run, jog and walk and all enjoy it as a form of activity. I found myself identifying with much of what was said. (Despite both my inexperience and injury… I was identifying on a personal level, I guess.)

Bingham’s whole angle is that you can run or walk or whatever, as a lifestyle… doing it for the rest of your life. That resonated deeply with me and I appreciated hearing it from someone who wasn’t a “born athlete”, but rather someone who struggled with weight and didn’t take up activity until his mid-40s. Now, at 57, this guy looks like he is still in his mid-40s (IMHO). Very inspirational.

After the keynote, you had to sign up for specific sessions. I went to:

  • Nutrition – Interesting… but I already knew a lot of it… And besides, it was focused on nutrition for competition, rather than nutrition for life, if you get my drift.
  • Injury prevention – An awesome session that presented information from scientific studies done on running injuries; then offered some practical exercises and stretches to prevent them. My trainer had gone to a session given by this specialist a couple of weeks ago and already has me doing these exercises on a daily basis. It was enlightening to hear it first hand though.

My two “active sessions” were:

  • Running technique – Given by a coach who has worked with national track athletes. Lots of good tips here.

    And I did debut my bionic leg… hidden under a pair of sweat pants though… Just wasn’t ready to look that hot on the track, I’m afraid ;-) … but it helped a great deal… I’m still not supposed to run yet, so I tried to take it easy… Still though… it was fun to get out there and move my legs!
  • Stretch and strength – squats, lunges and other strengthening exercises for runners, along with several stretches. A good overall session, taught by an energetic facilitator. Very enjoyable.

All in all, I learned a lot and had a great time. My biggest “takeaway” had nothing to do with the actual sessions, I don’t think… It was that I noticed that a lot of people there knew each other… There’s a whole “running community” out there and… well… I’m not “plugged in”, so to speak. I have been doing my solitary laps around the track, with the occasional run outside.

On the one hand, I enjoy the solitude and time to reflect. On the other hand, seeing all these people laughing and joking together made me think that it could be fun to meet more people in this community and get to know some of them.

Having a trainer helps because I learn a lot and I don’t feel totally alone on this quest to incorporate fitness into my life. And I don’t feel judged.

I guess that’s one reason I haven’t made any attempts to investigate any type of running community… I have lacked the confidence and have been afraid of being laughed at. (I’m really not very good at this, you know! Even with the bionic leg!)

If I learned one thing at the Symposium it was that there are people with all sorts of different ability levels, goals and fitness levels out there who not only enjoy this as an activity, they enjoy each other’s company while they do it... young people, older people and really old people... athletic types and not-so-athletic types... all kinds of different folk, really.

Don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely wonderful, amazing friends whom I wouldn’t trade for anything and I don’t feel that I need any new ones. But most of my friends don’t run… in fact, none of them do. It would be kind of cool to get to know a few people who enjoy this activity, too… so it can be solitary sometimes… and communal at others… You know… that balance thing I’m always on about.

So… when I get my running legs back (and it will happen, I’m convinced!) I will endeavour to find a few people who are at my level, with similar goals and values and see about adding a social component to this activity…

Today my knee and leg are telling me that I should probably not have been so willing to participate in the active sessions, but oh well… Off I go to get my little bag of frozen peas…

Friday, March 03, 2006

Running Symposium

So, I'm off to the University of Calgary's Running Symposium tonight and tomorrow.

Tonight the keynote speaker is John "The Penguin" Bingham. I read one of his books last semester and thoroughly enjoyed it. Looking forward to tonight!

I have bowed out of the fun(d) run tonight, since I'm still barred from running and all.

Having said that, there are a couple of "active" sessions that I'm registered for tomorrow...

I'm thinking it'll be a good time to debut my new "bionic leg", as Rob calls it. (Thanks, Rob. That one made me laugh... not so sure about the looking "hot" part though!)

It's shaping up to be a very good weekend... though I suspect Sunday I'll have my nose buried in the books for sure!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Crazy busy...

After KT’s comment on my last post, I called the sports med doctor to see if there were any appointments before next Friday. Lo and behold, they had an opening on Monday! So hopefully, I’ll have the results of the bone scan then. (Thanks for the kick in the butt, KT!)

As for the rest of my life… (oh yeah, that!)… all is going well, though I seem to be teetering on the edge of constantly having far too much to do. This wasn’t quite so bad last semester… or maybe it was and I just don’t remember?

Anyway, this past week, I had a minor freak out when I realized that an assignment (a draft of a major paper) that I thought was due on March 20 was actually due on March 2. (Don’t you just love it when your brain spontaneously adds zeros to your memory, where it shouldn’t?!)

That sent me into a frenzy of a tailspin, but luckily, I pulled together 17 pages of more or less respectable (at least for a draft) material. Whew!

As for my “part-time” job, all I can say is… what the hell happened to the “part-time” part? Holy crap! I am putting in more hours and feeling like I live in a pressure cooker most of the time. With the usual director gone, I find that often, I am the only person who knows enough background on a situation to deal with it. We have an assistant… I just need to learn how to delegate more. (I’m open to feedback!)

The reality is that I have too much on my plate… and that isn’t going to change until the end of the semester, so I just have to suck it up and do my best to stay focused and healthy, so I get through in one piece.

And my friend Z. is getting ready to have her baby, which is hugely exciting! She’ll be having a natural birth at home, and I’m thrilled to be among those who will be there. Very cool! But it does mean arranging my life so that can happen. Since I wouldn’t trade that for the world, I am going to have to do some shifting around here…

Oh yeah… and this weekend, I get to go to a Running Symposium put on by the University of Calgary! There will be a whole whack of expert speakers and different sessions… both “active” sessions and lecture style. No... I won't be doing any running... Though, needless to say, I signed up for the session on injury prevention!

I’ll update about that after the weekend.

But for now… it’s off to bed… I have delusions about getting to the gym early tomorrow and so best I be off to meet with my pillow…

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bone scan

Went for the bone scan yesterday. It was a painless procedure, though it did take about half a day.

Went in at about 10:00 a.m. They asked the usual questions and then had me lie down on a bed while they gave me injection of radioactive dye. (Perfectly safe, they assured me…)

They then did a scan of the blood flow in my legs and then sent me on my way, saying the dye needed time to reach my bones, and to come back at 1:00 p.m. I was to drink lots of water to help the dye circulate. Other than that, I could eat, drink or do whatever.

(I was afraid the dye would make my pee glow green, but it did not. Whew!)

I wondered, as I was microwaving my lunch, if it was such a good idea to stand in front of the microwave with all that radioactive dye sludging through my veings... I got lost in that thought for so long that before you know it I heard the beep that my food was done. Oh well!

I went back after lunch and then we spent the next 40 minutes or so taking pictures. For those of you who have never had one, it is not as fast as an X-Ray. Each picture takes between two and five minutes. The technician said that’s how long it takes for the scanner to pick up the gamma rays.

I got pictures of my knees, my legs, and my feet, both lying down and standing. It was rather a cool process.

Afterwards I asked if I could look at the scans and… well… it was kinda neat. I did see some dark spots. Apparently the dye gravitates towards areas where the body is trying to heal itself… but to my completely and hopelessly untrained eye… both my tibia (or is that "tibias", in plural?) looked exactly the same.

I thought, “God, I hope I don’t go back to the doctor and he tells me it’s all in my head!”

It was my physiotherapist who noticed the swelling in my leg originally and told me to get it checked out, after all!

But anyway… what do I know? I’m no doctor, so I’ll wait for my appointment on March 10.

In the meantime… ice is my friend.

Oh yeah... and I'm still enjoying the six-day program of weight training! I think I might actually be getting stronger. Woo hoo!