Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Track Day, and A Fascinating Visit at CSU

Back to the track today.

I didn't expect much the way my legs have been feeling, but it turned out not so bad. I did three sets of 2000 meters, starting at 5K pace, first with a 2000 meter run, then got progressively faster with an 800 and some 400s, then finished up with 10 x 200m.

It wasn't nearly as ugly as I feared. I got 10 miles in this morning and called it good, between dog running and the track workout. I'm trying not to pile on the mileage too much early this week knowing that I have Casper on Sunday, which will give me plenty of miles. It was encouraging to feel decent in my speed work.

I've been thinking about trying some Tabata workouts, to get my butt moving a little faster, and maybe burning more fat. I'll have to be really careful with them though, and work up to the intensity, since my body has no idea what a 4:30 or 5 minute mile feels like. I'll see about that later on, if I live through Casper.

This afternoon I made a visit to the Colorado State University vet school, to the Flint Animal Cancer Center. One of my former colleagues where I work now took a job there about a year ago. She loves it and has been telling me about it, and invited me to visit. I took her up on it, so today she gave me a tour and a briefing about the facility and services, and then I attended rounds with some of the doctors and residents, surgeons and radiation oncologists, which took about an hour.

It was interesting to hear about the treatments and regimens they use, both for chemotherapy and radiation, some of them are very similar to human cancers, others are different drugs I've never heard of. They discussed some of the clinical trials and biotherapies available too. The needs of the pet owners and animals, and quality of life, were always part of the discussion.

What I was most impressed with, and hope to go back to find out more, was their program for improving communication between veterinary medicine providers and the clients, who are the owners and pet families. They have a whole institute devoted to that. They support decision making, quality of life, and palliative care needs. They have educational programs devoted specifically to teaching compassion and effective communication to health professionals, so they can do a better job of serving the needs of the client and patient. They even have a hospice program for pets.

Some of what they do for animals and their people is paralleled in human patient navigator programs, palliative care (for this you can substitute the less formidable verbiage: transitional care), and hospice, but as far as teaching effective communication and holistic talk about quality of life and decision-making, human health care seems to be far behind. Part of that is just being behind the times, and some of it is just cultural sensitivity to talking about life and death matters, something that people here in this country, and the human medical profession do not do well.

She took me on a general tour, and I got to see the critical care unit, which was interesting having formerly been an ICU nurse, I saw a dog on a ventilator for the first time, looked exactly like a human with the endotracheal tube sticking out and the ventilator giving breaths, and the monitors, tangles of IV tubing, and so on. The dogs actually looked much more comfortable and relaxed in there than any human ICU I've ever seen.

They have every specialty you can imagine, not just oncology. I had the strong feeling, after listening to the residents and the doctors who were there, that they were very much aware of the big picture of what was meaningful and compassionate care for the animals, and for their people, not just a bunch of nerdy scientists looking for research subjects.

Human medicine stands to gain a lot from veterinary medicine, and not just from research protocols for clinical trials in drug testing. There's a whole world to explore in the psychosocial dimension of cancer care where human medical professionals could improve.

I spent two hours there but could have easily spent all day, just looking at the educational posters and displays on the walls about the different research that is going on there. I'll figure out a time to go back and hopefully learn and see more.

So now I'm back home, just some easy miles the rest of the week before I leave for Casper on Saturday afternoon. I hope this marathon doesn't hurt as much as I'm afraid it will...

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