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...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Cholesterol Experiment: Case Study, Preliminary Results

I seem to have survived running hard yesterday at the Houska Houska without any ill effects. So far...

This morning I had to forego my morning coffee and go over to the lab to get my blood drawn after a 12 hour fast. I was getting my lipids re-checked, and my TSH too. I went into the Express lab at 6:40 am and it was hopping in there. Everyone must have waited until after the holiday.

After that I went back home and had my coffee, and felt much happier. I took Iris for a brief run, and then went up to Horsetooth. It was my first hill workout in way too long. Can't even remember the last time I purposely ran hills. I'm slower than a snail, but at least I got up there and did it.

On my way home my phone rang and I didn't recognize the number, so I just let it ring. Plus I don't talk on the phone and drive, I have a hard enough time just talking on a cell phone...add driving to that and it would be a disaster.

When I got home I listened to the voicemail, it was my doctor's office calling with my lab results. Only 4 hours went by since I got the blood drawn. I was amazed, I thought I'd be able to see my results at work tomorrow before they'd ever call me. Then I thought, must be something really off, to call me back that fast.

But when I talked to the nurse who works with my physician, she told me my cholesterol was in the normal range now. I couldn't believe my ears. I asked her what it was. She said, "192." And that my triglycerides, LDL, and HDL had also dropped. The HDL I can understand because I haven't been running much, and that is very sensitive to exercise, but it's still 70.

When I had my labs drawn in March, my total cholesterol was something like 257. I remember the triglycerides were normal and the LDL was high-normal at that time. My TSH has actually dropped slightly, I thought maybe it went up because of the way I've been tired in the afternoons and gained weight so easily. Having a lower TSH might have something to do with the lowered cholesterol, but I sort of doubt it because I've been more on the hyper end of things before and never had my cholesterol anywhere near that low. So I'm pretty convinced it's dietary.

When I got my lab results back in March, my doctor mentioned that going gluten free had produced some dramatic results for other patients, and she knew I didn't have much room for improvements in my diet in general. I really do eat well, and I allow myself to indulge in bad things occasionally, but not regularly. Over the past 5 weeks I've been off the wagon somewhat, and over the last week I was extra bad with the sweets and ice cream, so I was a little surprised when today's labs showed what they did.

As we talked on the phone, I told her that I had only made two dietary modifications over the past 3 months: one was no longer putting half and half in my coffee and switching to soy creamer, and the other thing is that I've been avoiding gluten. I haven't been completely gluten-free, but I have been mostly avoiding wheat and sticking to corn and rice for the majority of my carbohydrates.

What I've done is avoid eating wheat. I'm not so strict about it that I scan labels of things like soy sauce, which I know has wheat in it, and I drink beer, which is not gluten-free either. I just avoid things that are made with wheat flour and have wheat as a major ingredient.

By avoiding things made with wheat I've found that helps me avoid the bloated feeling I get when I eat things like bread and pasta, and it also helps me eliminate a lot of bad foods from my diet: baked things, cookies, and other crap that I shouldn't be eating anyway.

I do eat dairy products, but not very much. I eat cheese and yogurt occasionally, and I do eat lean red meat more often than dairy. I eat a good amount of fat, but other than the infrequent red meat and dairy sources, almost all of my dietary fat comes from olive oil, avocados, and fish. Salads and fish are probably the most frequent things you'll find on our dinner table.

This is all really interesting. I'm curious to see what happens by next year when I get my annual labs drawn again.

It has never been my intention to promote a gluten-free diet, because if you're not celiac, and not gluten-sensitive, it can be an awfully inconvenient and expensive way to feed yourself. I think I might be a little sensitive to gluten, because I've noticed that when I eat certain things I get bloated.

Pizza and bagels are the worst offenders for me. I think they are often made with high gluten flour products. I don't know if it's wheat itself that's the problem, I haven't tried a lot of the other grains simply because I'm not a big fan of flour and baked things anymore.

I also have never been one to jump on the bandwagon with the latest dietary trends like Paleo or Atkins or whatever. I do like the concept of Paleo, and there are a lot of things wrong with the commercially prepared, processed foods abundant in the American food landscape. I probably eat closer to Paleo than anything, but I'm not strict about that, either.

One thing I want to avoid is going on medications for anything unless I absolutely need them. I already take two thyroid meds and I don't buy into the statin thing, being an athlete I don't want to cause muscular problems. Some drugs, for some people, are worth taking, but I'm not into tithing for Big Pharma when I don't need to.

But I was absolutely shocked and amazed at the results of my labs this morning. Time will tell if this is a lasting change, I probably won't have another lipid panel drawn until next spring. If this is a lasting change for me, worrying about cholesterol-lowering medications is not going to be an issue.

Time will tell and this case study will go on. I intend to stick to the dietary changes I've made, and see where that goes. Dropping my cholesterol by 65 points in 3 months without drugs, hell I should write a book...

cross-posted at Ultrahypo

Monday, May 27, 2013

Houska Houska 2013: How to Chick and Motivate an Old Man

This morning was the best annual Memorial Day running event in Colorado and fundraiser for the Bone Marrow Donor program and Poudre Valley Cancer Center, the Houska Houska 5K.

There are no starting waves or qualifying times for this one. No computer chips strapped to your ankle, or mats to step on. You are more likely to fit in to the crowd here if you are wearing a costume, running with a dog on a long leash, or pushing a baby stroller with at least two kids in it.

No one knows if the course is accurate, it's pretty close, but nobody cares. There is no timing, there are no bib numbers, age groups, awards or anything found at typical running events, except for a cotton t-shirt with an original, creative design for the year's theme.

The course starts off in the grass on an overgrown two-track parallel to the railroad tracks, then makes a couple of sharp turns at 1/4 mile in, to the Poudre Trail bike path, and runs a loop through a short hill on another overgrown dirt path and re-connects with the Poudre Trail in a partial out and back course with a twist.

You finish where you started, in the lumpy, tall grass and gravel next to the railroad tracks, across from Houska Automotive, under a billboard along Riverside Avenue.

Having slept in until 5:47 am, which is about an hour and a half later than I've slept the past two days of work, I got up in the daylight, made coffee, and let Dennis sleep. I really felt like crap. I don't race this race, it's not even what you can call a race, I just run it as hard as I can and get a good workout, because you usually spend half the time weaving in and out of people, strollers, dogs, and bikes.

I was hoping I would be able to run a respectable time despite my weeks of decadence, but it's not a race at all, it's an event. There is no comparison with road 5K times. Besides, the Casper Marathon is just 6 days away to challenge me.

Dennis has been running occasionally, just a few miles with the dogs on the weekends. His foot has improved with the plantar fascitis he's had since his fracture healed last summer. He's been hinting that he feels fat, which he's not. But he is not as fit as he was a year ago, and he often talks about getting motivated to run regularly, but hasn't managed to do it.

This was his first race since he broke his foot last June. And I decided a little motivation was in order.

Once Dennis woke up, he was moving slowly. I told him I was taking Iris for a run, and that I wanted to leave by 8 so there's time to warm up. He lifted his face up from staring at the paper and gave me that blank look. He wasn't awake yet.

I said, "You know, I have a feeling about this year."

"What's that?" He looked at me over his reading glasses.

"I think this is the year I'm gonna chick you."

"You think so?" He rolled his eyes.

"Not today, because I have a work hangover and feel like crap, but today in this race, I am going to get closer to you than I ever have before in a 5K. And sometime, over this coming year, I'll beat you in a 5K. You'll get chicked by your old lady."

"No way."

"Way. I'm gonna see the whites of your eyes when you look over your shoulder."

I took Iris out for a short run and when we got back, Dennis was ready. We drove down to Houska, parked, and signed up for the run.

At the start, I lined up on the starting line, in front, next to Dennis and our friend Forrest, who is not Forrest Gump but is a fast runner. Usually I get in behind a whole bunch of kids and strollers but this time I wanted to see what happened if I got up there.

I knew I couldn't beat Dennis, not today, the way I was feeling, but I was going to give myself a challenge by seeing how close I could stay to him.

When the gun went off, I took off and basically did what is an all-out sprint for me, for the first 0.2 miles down the overgrown two-track until you make a sharp left onto Lemay Avenue before the bike path. Running down the first little hill, I was right behind Dennnis. My lungs were burning! I was in anaerobic hell. Running down the first little asphalt hill under the bridge until the bike path levels out, I was already paying for it. I laughed to myself, thinking it would be interesting to see how this run turns out.

I ran pretty fast the first mile, but no one knows where the mile mark actually is, and I didn't have GPS. I could still see Dennis's back, he was less than 100 meters ahead of me, but I was having trouble keeping a fast pace. When we were close to the turnaround point, slightly more than halfway through, Dennis was not far ahead. I forget what I said to him to taunt him when we passed each other. He was far behind the lead runners. Forrest was way ahead of him.

It took me the first mile to recover from the sprint, and by this point, all I could do was hang on. I could feel my pace slipping, and I had no idea how fast I was going. I thought of looking at my watch when I rounded the last turn at Riverside and Lemay.

I decided against it because I had to hang in there for another 0.2 miles and I didn't want to be disappointed. I shut my watch off at the finish line. Ugly. 24:51. I saw Dennis walking around in the grass, down the road, but I was hurting too much to go tease him.

As it turned out, I was right. When we met each other in a spot in the shade, we compared notes. I was exactly 2 minutes and 4 seconds behind Dennis, the closest we've ever been in a 5K. By far. He ran 22:47. I think that's a personal worst for him. But I could tell he didn't feel defeated. He was smug, I had not beat him. Not even close.

The special thing about this morning was, it's the first day of training for me. I've been a slacker for the past 5 weeks since Cleveland, and last week I ran a grand total of 18 miles. I also consumed some rather decadent things. Like ice cream. Brownies. Chocolate chip cookies. Take out Chinese food. Beer.

And these Pellegrino Passion coolers. Actually those were pretty weird.

I've been trying not to worry about it but by the end of the week I felt HEAVY. And when I thought back to my pattern of consumption over the past week, it was pretty disgusting. I decided to scare myself and got on the scale this morning for the first time since my taper. 132!!!!??? It scared me. Nine pounds up since Cleveland? In 5 weeks? Really? It was definitely sodium and fluid-related, but still.

It amazes me how my weight can fluctuate. That's why it's not a good idea to weigh yourself frequently. But it is a good idea to weigh yourself when you need a reminder of why you can not indulge in those things on a regular basis. Especially when you're running 18 miles a week. Weighing myself before running this morning's event was a wake-up call.

The first order of business is, run my ass off, drop the extra weight, and get my butt in gear.

This morning I did not allow myself to indulge in the root beer floats they always serve at Houska Houska. Dennis had a couple of Bloody Marys. We walked around and talked, enjoying the sunshine and watching people. It was a nice morning, a little warm but not too bad.

This year's theme was the Roaring Twenties, so there were lots of flappers running around.

Of course the purpose of the run is to raise money for community cancer-related services, like Bone Marrow Donation.

And Houska Houska is big for the kids- there is always cotton candy, and this year, ziplining.

Dennis and I got a picture together, at a race. Something that rarely happens.

After hanging out and socializing, we didn't get our cool down run in so I suggested we go home and do our cooldown together. I only needed to do about 4 more miles. Dennis said he would do that with me if I'd take it easy on him. Uh-huh. It was warm outside, already 80 degrees. We took off for the Power Trail and after a mile he was whining.

Yes! Whining.

Dennis never whines. I started to tell him it was because of the Bloody Marys and not eating anything. WAAAAH.

I said we could make the first mile in under 11 minutes if he picked it up. He stopped and stretched and then we kept going. We got to our two mile turnaround and started heading back. At three miles he said he'd had enough and started walking. I ran home and he showed up a few minutes later. He said, "I'm dead."

So, maybe I didn't chick him in the race but I definitely kicked his butt on the cooldown. It's that endurance thing.

My plan worked. After 23 years, I know him well enough that I know he will need to avenge this.

Back in the old days when he was running for Reebok and I was running at my fastest, we used to run together and do pickups at the end of our runs, and I'd try to outsprint him at the end. I never could beat him for anything back then, he was running regular sub-15 minute 5Ks compared to my rare sub-19 minutes. As we've both gotten slower, we were always about 4 minutes apart in the 5K. Until now.

Looks like we'll be running some 5Ks this summer.

I can't wait.

The other news is that I planted a honeycrisp apple tree the other day. It was either that or I was going to have to buy stock in Whole Foods to earn dividends off my habit. I don't think we'll get fruit this year, but in two or three years it should pay for itself.

I also planted some tomatoes, peas, spaghetti squash, jalapeno and habanero peppers, cilantro, basil, thyme, yellow squash and zucchini, and beets. And then we have the oregano and parsley and chives that come up every year. I've never had any luck with beets here, the ground is too hard, but we're going to do one raised bed this year and see how that goes. Maybe we can finally grow beets. I love them.

The raspberries started to really take off last year. I miss our yard in Arizona. If I could get grapes to grow I'd want a trellis with grapevines on it. We had amazing grapes in Arizona, everyone in the neighborhood would walk by our house and marvel at the grapes. We had a bottlebrush tree, lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, and grew plenty of basil, tomatoes, cilantro, and tons of serrano peppers. We grew serrano peppers like they were on steroids. I think we might still have some dried serranos floating around somewhere in our kitchen cabinets that came from Arizona.

And the front yard flower garden is bursting out now. Every day there's something new.

This is it. I'm back to training again. Tomorrow the plan is hills at Horsetooth. Oh, it will hurt, but I need to do hills, I've become such a wimp on the flats. It will pay off.

Now I'm off to take a nap, sleep off this work hangover, and maybe later I'll soothe Dennis's ego...

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Today I spent most of the day in the woman cave, working on my application to the UNC gerontology program. It's not a degree, it's a 12 credit certificate that I can take online.

Applying consists of the usual hoop-jumping exercises of higher ed, like writing essays on "why did you choose gerontology" and chasing down every institution you've ever attended for transcripts, and so on. I'm looking to enroll in the gerontology certificate program which is a graduate-level program of just 4 classes, which I will take one at a time due to the cost. I can also get reimbursed fully by my employer if I take just one class at a time. I can't believe it costs $1500 to take one 3 credit class. And that's in-state tuition.

Do I still sound jaded? Totally burned out? Frustrated? Yes. Sometimes, taking another deep breath is the hardest effort of all.

It occurred to me today that perhaps the reason I have been a whirling dervish these past 2 months is that I haven't been running and training. Between the taper and the recovery, I've about lost my mind.

After I felt like my butt was melting into the chair, I decided I had to get out and run, at least do something, just to get the blood flowing. I went out to do a 3 mile loop through the neighborhood and a few blocks from my house I ran into one of my neighbors, for the second time in a week. I hardly know her, and despite living just 2 blocks apart, we never see each other.

When I saw her last week, I was running the dogs and she was walking. I stopped to talk to her, and I noticed a gauze and tegaderm dressing on her chest, peeking out from under her shirt neckline. She had a port placed in her chest. She was just diagnosed with two different, unrelated types of cancer and is about to begin treatment next week. When we last talked, she told me all about it and wasn't sure where she'd be receiving treatment yet, it won't be where I work. But as we talked I told her about different resources available to her. After we went our separate ways it occurred to me that I should have given her my contact information. I didn't know her last name, either, and I wasn't sure which house she lived in.

So today when I saw her out walking, I stopped again, I gave her my phone number and e-mail, and we talked more about what she's going to start next week, and I'm sending her some information that she asked about. It's not going to be easy, but she should do well. Hopefully a year from now she will have moved beyond all of this and will have her life back in a different, but full gear. It won't be the same, ever, she will be changed by the experience. But she is fortunate because it was caught early and the prognosis is about as good as you can have with cancer.

I knew there was a reason why I didn't get out the door until just that moment at 4:30 pm, at a time when I rarely go out to start running.

It's hard to stay focused sometimes on the true meaning and value of what I do when there are so many distractions. I've been way off center, ungrounded and lost in those distractions. Today, at least, I came back to earth. It's important to do that, for the sake of other creatures out there.

Fresh Air

Yesterday was just about the most perfect weather that you could ever hope for. Sunny, just the right temperature, with just the right amount of breeze. I wish we could capture that sort of day and break it out whenever we're tired of snow, heat, or whatever extended surprises the Front Range weather pattern has in store for us. Today is cool and overcast, and it feels good.

Yesterday I met with a former coworker whom I regard as a mentor for lunch in Old Town, we sat outside in the beautiful fresh air. I pitched some of my disjointed ideas at her, and she had great suggestions for helping me release myself from the vortex I've been swirling in for the past several months. When you're sitting there thinking alone, you get stuck and it's hard to see a way out of the loop. I have various aspects of my plan that need to be pulled together, and a lot of people to talk to.

It feels good to be looking at a positive path instead of endlessly venting my frustration. That's still there, but it's being diverted in a productive way.

I do need to get past this week, though, because I'm limited on running time and still in desperate need of sleep. I'm getting my thyroid checked again tomorrow because I feel like I'm not quite right. Too exhausted in the afternoons, a little more weight gain than I'd expect, and difficulty focusing. We'll see where it is. It might just be stress, but I want to know. I only ran 5 miles yesterday, but my legs did feel a little better having more rest. I think I need to just take it easy the rest of this week and do short, easy miles each day. The body responds when it's ready.

I might not be getting a lot of running in, but the weather is perfect for working in the woman cave.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: An Epic Hangover

We're finally getting some beautiful spring weather. I'm hoping to get a few days to enjoy it here, before it goes into an all-out heat wave.

I wrapped up last week with an 8 mile elephant legs run followed by a 29 mile bike ride with Troy in the afternoon. We had a killer cross wind on the ride, but we made good time for the distance. My legs were burning as I fought the wind.

I got 40 miles of running in for the week, all at a painfully slow pace. Then I started my work week, which consists of two 8 hour days of computer training, then a few days off, followed by two 12 hour shifts on the weekend. So I'm headed into the days off segment now. The reason why it's an Epic hangover is that the name of the computer system we are training for is Epic. All of our documentation will be in this Epic system, which actually is not so bad, once you get used to it...

but sitting on my butt for two days in a classroom in front of a computer was about the most exhausting thing I can imagine. I got home both days after class and all I could do was take a two hour nap. I was zonked. It sucked the life out of me.

I was so pathetically wimpy that I didn't run on the computer training days, even though the weather was perfect, cloudy one day, then nice and cool and breezy with sunshine. I figured since I have been feeling so sluggish, another two days off won't hurt me. If anything it will give me more rest if that's what I need, and if not, it will just make me more sluggish, which can only be overcome by running, which I will do for these next 3 days before I go back to work again.

And then I have three weeks of a more normal schedule, which will give me a chance to get back into my running routine. Elephant legs B-GON!

I might even hit the track this week on one of the three days, just to do some 200s or something to get a little turnover without having a serious speed workout. That might be what I really need.

My all-out frustration with things going on in healthcare and in the nursing profession in general have led me to an existential crisis of sorts regarding my future in healthcare, but more specifically, nursing. It makes me sad that I love what I do on a daily basis in my job, really, even when it makes me crazy and exhausted and burned out because of the WAY WE WORK, not because of the THINGS WE DO.

Just the past two days of being in computer training with a small group of the nurses I work with most often, reminds me again that we're all dealing with the same set of circumstances, and we feel the same pressure, and have the same thoughts, questions, frustrations, and fears. And it's not just us. It's EVERYWHERE. I hear the same things from nurses all over the country, and out of the U.S. too. Despite the numbers, something like 3 million registered nurses in the U.S., we have not been able to advocate for changes that would improve not only patient outcomes, but our own working conditions and environments.

I've been torn between a few things, I have so much to say on the topic that it's enough for another blog, easily, but I don't want to start another blog. It would take too much time and energy to commit to another regular blog when I need to start channeling the energy of frustration into something constructive.

Writing, for me, is so therapeutic, and I have a lot to say. I need a lot of therapy! My friend Geri Kilgariff has been after me for years to write a book, so has Dennis, and I think I'm finally at the point where I have accumulated enough material that I could discipline myself into refining and shaping it into something other than a blog. So that's one project I need to get going on. I might have close to 1000 pages of written material on nursing alone over the past 8 years since I started nursing school.

The other project is to figure out a way to move myself forward despite the lack of anything but lateral opportunities in nursing, unless I wanted to become a nurse practitioner, which I don't, or go into management, which is about as appealing as dog poop. Actually I think dog poop is much more appealing and I would rather roll in it than go into management of anything.

So I am in the process of exploring how to expand on my current skills, knowledge, and interests to give me some opportunities while the profession of nursing stays inert and stagnant, choking as healthcare reform swallows it up and the vicious cycle begins again. Between my two projects, maybe I can help myself and do something to impact nursing in a positive way. My snarky side wants to say I could do something to disimpact nursing, which is really part of nursing's problem.

So, that said, I'm ready to get on with it. I've been a slacker for almost 5 weeks. Tomorrow, no excuses, it's back to running, and a more structured schedule. I have the Casper Marathon coming up in 11 days!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Work Hangover Saturday: Cross-Training

This morning I felt like a blimp. I haven't been eating poorly, I'm not stuffing my face with anything bad, but somehow I've packed on a few pounds since Cleveland and I can feel it.

At 9 am I went out to run 6 or 7 miles and I felt like crap. I actually felt like puking during the first 2 miles. Then it passed and I felt slightly better. I figure it will go away once I pick up the miles again, but I really feel like a bloated cow today. Even my clothes feel tight.

I thought, maybe it's all the salt in the soy sauce from sushi the other day. We went out for sushi on Thursday evening. Or maybe I'm just exhausted, sluggish, and in need of a nap. I hadn't even consumed any beer. Yet.

So to celebrate my bovinity, I met Dennis and our friend Mark at Odell Brewing Company at 11:30 am and we began consuming beer. Living in Fort Collins has it's advantages. First thing was the new Celestrina saison, followed by St. Lupulin, my hoppy, grapefruity favorite from Odell. The Celestrina was okay, but I preferred the Funkwerks Saison by a long shot. Celestrina was dull gray in flavor compared to Funkwerks bright neon magenta. At least I thought so.

Dennis always looks so much more alive than I do. Maybe it's because he just works and doesn't run much. Or maybe it's because I feel like crap after four shifts in six days. Regardless, the three of us sat and drank beer and discussed politics, whispering words like "Republican" while we watched the place gradually fill up with locals and people in town for CSU graduation weekend.

I'm really not too concerned about the bloat, or the blimp. I know that once I get back to my running mileage I'll drop these temporary pounds. This summer the speedwork emphasis should help me destroy those extra few pounds of lard. Tomorrow, more easy running miles and a bike ride with Troy. Looks like reaching 40 miles this week will be no problem. Next week I'm bumping it up again, I'll get back to the hills. I know it will make me sore but I have to do it.

Next week the plan is to shoot for 60 miles, but 50 will be okay, too, since I don't have a lot of days to run, with 4 days of work. Two of those days will be sitting on my butt for 8 hours in a classroom doing computer training though, but that's exhausting in itself. I do plan to hit the hills once and maybe one tempo-ish run if I can catch Wheaties Boy before he takes off for the Bryce 100. I work next weekend,then the Houska Houska is Memorial Day. And then Casper Marathon six days later.

I'll be back at it before I realize it. I'm even considering Estes Park marathon depending on how I feel after Casper, even though I swore I'd retire from Estes Park after 2010. I want to run! Plus my mind is itching to get to the track, but my legs are not ready at all.

This cross-training is a necessary evil. Gotta stay "in shape" in my off-season, right?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Elephant Legs

This morning I got out early because it was so hot! I hosed the girls down, and since it was watering day I got the yard watered in the process, and then took them both out for a run. A half mile into it, Isabelle decided to lie down in the grass under the trees by the Mormon church. She dug in and REFUSED to go. I took a water bottle with me so I offered her a drink, and I said, let's go home. Then she jumped up and got excited. Iris was barking at me, at the top of her lungs, "Come on mom, let's GO!"

I had to convince Isabelle that we really were going home, not trying to fake her out into going longer. By the time we were a block from home the sun was blasting us and it felt like a summer afternoon.

I took the girls in the house, filled their water bowl with ice cubes, and did a few little things around the house. I told myself it was heat training time, it's going to get worse. So I went out for another 9 miles, hit the Power Trail, and dragged butt the whole time. I was doing 11 and a half minute miles, and even when I tried to pick it up, there was nothing to pick up, except elephant legs.

Elephant legs hanging on for weeks after a race is nothing new. I definitely pushed my season out too long and this is my payback. I know this will go away over the next few weeks but right now it feels like long slow torture to run at this pace. Plus the heat and humidity so early in the season didn't help. I did sort of forget what I was doing out there, because it never occurred to me to turn around and shorten my run. I was happily lost in my own world the whole time, even though I was aware of the forever pace.

This afternoon, 2 more miles for breaking in the H3s. Actually I'm not breaking the shoes in, but really my legs. It's a completely different kind of shoe than the heavy duty Brooks I usually run in, so it's going to take some time to be able to run in them safely. The H3s do feel good,and they are lighter. The clouds moved in, but no sign of rain. It did cool things off a bit, down to 73 degrees instead of the 75 it was this morning.

Over the next week and a half I will spend more time at work than not at work, which is unusual for me. On two of those days, computer training starts, but there is a silver lining. I'll be close to the lakes, so I will bring my running gear and enjoy the opportunity to run after work. I'm sure my butt and brain will be numb after sitting in a classroom all day, but I can shake out the legs and move, and revive myself. Maybe by then they won't belong to an elephant.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Leaves of Absence

This morning I woke up to the leaves. The trees are finally leafing out. Yesterday's hot temperatures brought out the apple blossoms, lilacs, and cottonwood leaves.

We did go from winter to summer in a week. I guess it's summer now.

Two exciting things happened in my own leave of absence from home yesterday. First, I got an e-mail from the St. George Marathon that I got in with the lottery! First try! I don't know how hard it is to get in, usually. but it was my lucky day, Monday the 13th.

The other thing that happened was the check came in the mail from North Coast, so I can apply that toward the racing budget.

I am toast this morning. I have a wicked work hangover, I worked two long days Saturday and Monday, nonstop busy. The computer training and a nasty human virus that's going around has limited the number of people available to work. So we hustled all day. By the end of the day I could barely keep my eyes open. This month I have so many odd shifts and days that I have to look at the calendar every day to make sure I know where I have to be and when.

It was in the 80s yesterday and that dried up a lot of the moisture that was hanging out in the soil. My allergies are also killing me. I hope we continue to get some regular rain because if we keep going on this dry streak for very long, it won't matter that we got all that snow. We'll be burning up. For runners, that means having to go out of town to run trails and mountains, because the air gets so bad here.

For some reason the hot flashes I was having all winter and early this spring have mostly gone away and left me alone. I'm sure this is temporary, but I'm enjoying it. Ever since I got back from Cleveland I've been much more comfortable. I hope it lasts because our house is HOT.

I'll be spending some time in the woman cave today, until it gets too hot. Time to get out for a run, but I'm sure I'll need a nap before I can feel human.

On Sunday we celebrated Iris's birthday with dog cookie cupcakes.

First Iris sang happy birthday to herself, drowning out all of our voices, then it was a race between the girls to see who could finish their cookie fastest.

Even after our party, I still felt enormous guilt going to work Monday morning, on Iris's actual birthday.

This morning I'm breaking in a pair of Pearl Izumi H3s, they are road shoes with rearfoot stability, actually through the midfoot. Nice and cushiony and comfortable. I took Iris for a short walk but I had a few errands to run early this morning so I only got a short run in. I will finish up with a longer run this evening, after a nap. Iris is expecting to go longer, so I need to make it up to her.

This morning I spent about a half hour trying to figure out where to stay in St. George and fortunately I was able to get a reservation at the same hotel where my friends Kirk and Keith are staying. I need to get my butt on some hills. I've been seriously neglecting hill training for too long.

Now that I know about St. George, I can start planning where to tuck the other marathons in throughout the summer. Finding them, close to home and on days when it is reasonable to travel to them in between work is the challenge. It's already the middle of May. I have a feeling October will be here soon. Makes me want to go over to the track now, but I have to recover from work first. I don't think I could concentrate long enough to make through one lap at this point.

I do have a 12 year old Australian Shepherd who is staring holes through me, letting me know it's time to get started on my day, with the first order of business.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Sky's The Limit

Twenty miles easy this week, somewhat sore at the beginning.

I did 10 miles Thursday, 4 in the morning and 6 in the evening with Wheaties Boy, pushing it a little. I could feel the soreness again after that. Friday I did a slow, easy 5, and another easy 5 Sunday with Jen.

Next week I'll bump it to 40 and see how that goes. There are some races next weekend, I might jump into a 5K again, we'll see how it's going.

The leaves on the maples, oaks and cottonwoods are just about coming out, I'm sure by the end of this week the winterscape will be gone and we'll be green everywhere.

I worked all day Saturday and it was a long day, nonstop busy, loud and crazy all the way through.

When I took my lunch break I forgot my phone and couldn't check on the progress of the USA team at Worlds- the 24 Hour championships- but I was sitting outside and heard a voice calling down to me. I looked up and it was one of my old ICU co-workers. I got up and ran up the stairs to see him.

We walked over to the therapeutic garden that is being built between the parking lots. Most of the plants haven't leafed out yet, so it's not exactly what I'd call therapeutic, maybe once the leaves come out it will block more of the traffic noises. We walked around for a few minutes and talked and listened to each other. He expressed the same feelings I've been having. I keep hearing the same theme. Grief.

I finished out my day at 7:30 pm. By 5 pm my head was pounding from the noise. I rarely go home hearing alarms and equipment noise since I stopped working in ICU, but Saturday I could still hear the IV pumps chirping after I got home.

I checked on the U.S. team. They were doing well, and it looked like their pack placing in the fixed-time event would yield some good results.

I was so tired, though, that I couldn't look at the numbers too long or think about any details. I'd have to wake up in the morning and check on how they did. My mind went back to the events of the day.

People need to be listened to, they need to know they aren't alone, because alone you think you're going crazy, but when you put people together, they echo, and their echoes provide support for each other. Change is hard for people, especially when it involves loss, it needs to be acknowledged as a process in the people who are suffering the loss. They will go through some anger in the process.

When there is a lot of anger, it means that the grieving process is not being acknowledged in a healthy way. Going on the defensive and telling people who are grieving to shut up is not productive or humane.

I woke up this morning and was thrilled to see that both the men's and women's USA teams had taken gold at the World 24 Hour Championships! An American record of 152 miles by Sabrina Little, 2nd and 3rd place women were from the U.S, and 1st, 2nd, and 10th place men were from the US. Joe Fejes was 10th, so happy to see him up there. Great job to everyone, lots of strong performances!

I'm generally thought of as a quiet person. When something is important to me, like running, and seeing the joy and satisfaction of a hard-earned running performance, I can be loud and I can be vocal. I love running. There are other things I care about too. Like being true to myself and my own values. When it's something I care about, I will not be silenced. I am a creative person and I will find a way to express myself.

And for every person who wants me to shut up, there are hundreds who want me to scream louder.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I'm spending a lot of time in the woman cave, disciplining myself to get my work done out there. I have a big project I'm starting.

Yesterday after my drowned rat episode in my morning run, I got out and did 6 miles with Wheaties Boy last night just so we could catch up on the latest stuff in our lives. It's therapeutic for me to blow off steam while running just fast enough that I'm winded, but I can still get mostly full sentences out. I was sore again after our run, but that was gone by the time I woke up in the morning.

So this morning I went out for 5 miles easy and slow, and that didn't bother me, except for the feeling of being in slow motion on wood blocks again. I decided that I'm going to run the Casper Marathon on June 2, it's an easy drive from here and will be a good first long training run.

I was thankful I only needed to get about 5 miles in, because I needed to get back to the cave. I had a productive morning.

After I ate lunch I got a wonderful surprise visit from my friend Morgan, who stopped by the house as I was paying bills, and she brought me a nice little gift that I will enjoy, some herbs that can be used for aromatherapy. We talked about our aging dogs, aging Buffaloes, aging people, running, and various things.

I work tomorrow, just one day, and then I have Sunday off. We're going to celebrate Iris's 12th birthday, and Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hail Mary!

Finally got out for a run, the sky was clouding up around 11 am and I thought I could sneak out for an hour before it would rain.

Wrong! I got out and 10 minutes into my run it started raining. I came home and got rid of my sunglasses and put a hat on, and went back out. The rain had stopped. I went back along the same route and another mile into it, almost at the same place, it started dumping rain! I turned around and started heading home, thinking 45 minutes would be enough. I got home in the downpour, and within minutes it was hailing.

That's okay, I wasn't feeling great on the run, given my lack of activity recently, my legs felt like wood blocks. I know they'll feel better after a few more days, but that first run is always tough.

Typical Fort Collins spring weather. I thought we were done with the white stuff, but I forgot about hail.

You never know, by 3 pm it could be 70 degrees and sunny.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday Part 2: Waking Up Hungry

Cool. Wet. Rain.

Finally, the sky is dumping something other than white stuff. After a 2 1/2 hour nap I woke up to the sound of drops on the roof. It's supposed to rain off and on for the next few days. I'm groggy. I don't feel quite human yet, maybe after a full night's sleep I will be recovered tomorrow, and I can get back to running and life.

I can't wait, I am soooo hungry to train and race. I'm missing running something awful, but as exhausted as I was, I didn't feel good enough this morning to force myself out the door. I have no evening run with Wheaties Boy tonight to get me moving, maybe we'll do a few miles tomorrow, or we'll resume next week.

The plan is to get about 20 miles in this week, and increase by about 20 miles a week until I'm back at 80 miles or so as my weekly base. By June training should be back in full swing. I'm not sore anymore going up and down the stairs today, but it took until tonight. Those 5Ks are brutal!

I'm looking for a marathon for the first weekend in June, there are several within driving distance: Casper, Wyoming, Steamboat, and it seems like there was something else I heard about. These marathons will be a good test of where my fitness is as I begin the 24 hour training again. I can compare to my 5Ks and estimate what is realistic to achieve in October. The best part will be getting back to the track and pounding out some good intervals. I love those summer mornings at the CSU track. Only a couple more weeks!

Work Hangover Wednesday: Target Practice

Note to readers: A short version of this blogpost appeared today on KevinMD.

What a week.

First of all, I was sore as hell after that 5k! That 24 hour run didn't give me anywhere near as much residual soreness as the race this past weekend did. My hamstrings, butt, and quads are all still screaming! This week I will do a few easy runs to get back into it, next week will be the first week I do anything resembling training.

And it's Nurses' Week.

Yes I know I've said a lot about nursing lately, and when I'm not training and racing, I have no running news. But I know there are a few readers out there who are all too eager to read what I'm going to say next, and a very small number are licking their chops and waiting for me, like predators.

Ask any nurse about Nurses' Week, and you'll more than likely get a snarky answer. Yes we like to be praised for the work we do, it doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it feels good. It makes up for a lot of the day-to-day garbage that we endure.

Yesterday I was touched, for example, by a patient who told me she was thinking about me when she heard about the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and wondered if I was there, and hoped I was okay. She remembered that I had a race coming up but she didn't know it was in Cleveland. She saw me yesterday when she came in for her appointment, and told me she was so happy and relieved to see that I was safe.

That is the kind of thing that nurses appreciate, it makes our day. It can make your whole career worthwhile. Why? Because it re-affirms the bond from human to human. It validates the connection between us and our patients, that we have so much in common, even when our lives and circumstances can be opposite extremes. Nursing is about being human.

Nurses and teachers are two historically female-dominated professions that are highly respected and desperately needed, but undercompensated and undervalued. This week also happens to be Teachers' Week, imagine that! Right before Mother's Day. Maybe the little trinkets and sweets designed to obesify already unhealthy nurses or teachers are intended to kill them off so they can bring in a whole new crop, as they'll be cheaper than the old experienced ones.

I'm an athlete, a writer, an artist, and a nurse. My whole identity is not wrapped up in nursing. It makes me take a broader view of the nursing profession, I can see it in a different light than someone who considers it "who" they are.

Don't get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with someone who considers their occupation to be their primary identity. I admire people who can focus on something like that when it's their passion. There are career nurses, and then there are people who are nurses, part of the time. But when you're there, you need to be there, 100 percent.

If nurses don't speak up about issues that might affect their patient care, then why be a nurse? Nurses are supposed to think critically about the things we are doing and how it affects the patient.

And historically, nurses also have this REALLY bad habit of not advocating for themselves and for each other, and for their working conditions, compensation, and expectations of them as human beings.

Why? When you talk to nurses everywhere, it seems that critical thinking is not allowed when it pertains to the nurse's workplace. You speak up, you become a target.

Before I further offend anyone who might be a little sensitive...let me assure you that it's this way nearly EVERYWHERE in the corporate world! That doesn't make it right, at all. Ever.

Powers-that-be worry because they can't control everything that is said, it's hard to avoid people saying things that don't match a carefully orchestrated and expensive PR agenda, so they get super-sensitive and defensive when people criticize them. When corporations are people, they get their feelings hurt. It doesn't matter if it's a small community or a big city, in the age of the "Internets", the truth gets out faster than a BP oil spill.

Back to nursing, nurses also have the reputation of eating their young. When you live in a pressure cooker, which might be a bad metaphor right now post-Boston, frustration comes out in the form of aggression. And that leads to illness.

So, in honor of Nurses' Week, I propose that nurses everywhere need to break out of the habit of being quiet and complaining amongst themselves, and feeling powerless to change things. It never accomplishes anything, like my friend Joanne said last weekend, the profession is still in the same cycle that it's always been stuck in. Things need to change and it's going to take a huge effort. If it's too hard to change from the inside, then perhaps it needs to be changed from the outside.

All of this goes way beyond healthcare, as I've said over and over again, it's a political and legislative issue, we've got this country set up in a way that hurts people. Nurses need to advocate for the public's well-being, too. I saw another person's opinion in the "soapbox" page of our local paper this morning, what he said was essentially the same thing I would say. People need to wake up and stop acting powerless, no one is going to make change happen except for us.

Until there's a national initiative to start giving out coupons during Nurses' Week for plastic surgery to have smiles permanently stuck on our faces, it's going to be hard to expect intelligent, hard-working, empathetic, caring human beings to be Stepford Wives.

Nurses are among the most stressed out workers out there. Masses of overworked, exhausted, unhealthy nurses are going to have to save themselves, or it will just go on like this forever. Why work a job that you can't stay in without being on antidepressants? Or a job where you find yourself gaining 10 or 20 pounds a year? A job that wears you out so much that you don't get any quality exercise on your work days, and you spend a day or two after your work week recovering before you have the energy to get out and do anything?

Unfortunately the state of things is that nursing is sick care, and while caring for the sick, nurses become sick themselves, because of the lack of support they receive for engaging in such demanding, needed work. Nurses are human, we work with human beings, and no bean counter or consulting firm anywhere can quantify the value of what we do. We need to find a new way of valuing nurses' work, it needs to be quantified differently, and not viewed as an expense, but an investment in our society.

There are those who think I should be a good meek little nurse and not give my opinion about these things. And I care passionately about this stuff or I wouldn't be saying it! If I get a target on my back because of it, just remember that violence is a resort of the weak.

So there. That's my Nurses' Week rant. The truth hurts. Work hangover or not, even in the rain, I'm going for a run.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Colorado Marathon 5K: Catching Up

I don't know what I would do without my friends. As one of them said this week, when you think about things alone, you get into this vortex, and you keep coming back to the same place. When you share your ideas and thoughts with others, you can find tangents to throw you out of the downward spiral.

I'm picky about my friends. I like intelligent, creative people. If there's no spark in there, when I look in someone's eyes and soul, I'm not going to pursue it.

When I take down time from running, I also use the time to catch up with a lot of people I haven't seen in a while. My running schedule can limit my ability to socialize, especially with my non-runner friends, simply because I don't have the energy to stay awake when most people do things, in the evenings or weekends. I'm either running or sleeping.

I didn't run a step for myself for two weeks, I did jog with the girls several times but never more than 2 miles at a time. I went for one bike ride. I decided earlier this week that I wanted to run in the Colorado 5K or 10K held with the marathon this weekend, so I went to the expo and signed up yesterday. My friend Connie, who wrecked on her bike last weekend, is home and recovering from her fractures and surgery.

Earlier this week, Dennis Vanderheiden, who runs Athletes in Tandem, and Connie's running partner Dan Berlin, who is blind, decided to push Connie in one of the strollers Dennis uses for challenged athletes. Connie has been Dan's guide many times in marathons and other races. They planned to run the 10K. I wasn't sure I could keep up with them, even pushing the stroller, and 10K was a bit longer than I wanted to push myself if I had to run hard, so I signed up for the 5K and waited around until they came through the finish line.

It was a cold morning and I warmed up a bit along the Poudre Trail after the buses dropped us off at the start. I did a few strides and felt awkward and clunky on my feet, but I didn't think I'd be running very fast. I just wanted to get out and move, run as hard as I could, with no goal, no expectations.

When the gun went off I was close to the front of the pack, and I only saw maybe 5 women ahead of me. In the entire race, only one guy passed me, no one else. I followed the nearest woman I could see for the first mile and scared myself when I looked at my watch at the one mile mark, it said 6:56. I didn't even think my legs could do that right now.

Of course my pace went downhill from there, progressively slower 7 minute plus miles to splits of 14:22 and 22:07 at the next two mile markers. But I was completely surprised when I could see the finish line and the clock was ticking 22 minutes and change, and I got in under 23 minutes. 22:51, my watch said. It was uncomfortable, but I wasn't dying...a pleasant surprise, I guess you could say. I won't start working on speed again for a few more weeks yet. Next week the plan is to get all of 20 easy miles in.

As it turned out I was 6th place overall woman, and 18th overall of everyone. There were a couple of women at the bottom of the 40-49 age group, like 40 and 42 or something. But I don't think there were more than one or two women under 20 minutes.

The race seemed well-organized, it was the first year under new management and I was impressed that they seemed to have put it together seamlessly. It's always been a good event, looks like it will continue like that.

I stood with Connie's husband Doug and her daughter Marissa waiting for the team of Dennis, Dan and Connie to come across the finish line.

Soon they did, and we stood around and talked a while, it was freezing and the sun wasn't warming us up very fast. I waited for my friend Joanne, who is a psychiatric nurse with the VA, to finish her half-marathon, and then we went for coffee along with her husband Hunter while I waited for Wheaties Boy, who was pacing the 3:15 pace group, to finish.

Joanne and Hunter are planning to crew for me at the race in Oklahoma City this fall. We talked a little bit about North Coast, and about Joanne's marathon plans, and of course the topic of nursing came up. Joanne has been a nurse for 35 years and she's seen the same cyclical changes and the same problems over and over, and things never change.

It's the theme that keeps repeating itself. This past week alone, I have spoken at length, literally for hours at a time, with four different nurse friends, and had shorter conversations with as many non-nurse friends, about nursing. It's disturbing as hell, yet somehow comforting to hear the things other people have experienced, not much different than my own, and it validates what I'm seeing, feeling, and experiencing. We're all fighting dinosaurs. And we all know what happened to dinosaurs.

What was said about the definition of insanity?

Soon it was close to the time I expected Wheaties Boy, so we went outside, and in a few minutes, I saw him flying in with the 3:15 marathon banner. As he approached the finish line chute, I yelled "GO WHEATIES BOY" and I could see him crack up.

After hanging out for a bit longer with Hunter and Joanne, and Wheaties Boy, I went home.

Refreshed. Caught up. Ready to push forward.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Another tree, gone...

These late spring heavy snows have now killed two of our trees. Depressing.

Not sure what else to say.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Coming Up

It's May 1, and I'm really over it with the shoveling. We got something like 10 more inches of snow today. It sucks.

You know, this whole day really sucked. Ever have one of those days when you know you're just going through the motions and your heart is not in it, and then you realize just how much you are forcing yourself to endure?

Then I came home to find one of our trees in the backyard, the juniper, was uprooted by the heavy snow. I'm hoping we can save it once the snow melts, we'll need to figure out a way to stabilize it. Seeing the juniper lying down in the yard, buried in heavy snow, made me see myself and where I am.

I've been reading a lot of crap lately, mostly because I am procrastinating. Procrastinating taking some sort of step forward. Feeling like barfing up something from this hole in my gut, but there's nothing there, it's just dry heaves, empty. I feel sucked dry, with no hope of repletion.

I've been suppressing a rant.

So I get these newsletters in my e-mail every day that talk about medical news. And I read other people's blogs in medicine and get news about the pharmaceutical industry, and other things related to health care and reform thereof. And the shit continues to be cranked out. All the trouble in healthcare is the same trouble we have in every other sector of our world, which is, corporations have too damn much power and all the wealth is concentrated at the top, because politicans can be bought by wealthy interests. The "I've got mine, screw you" mentality.

And then I see snippets and links to things on Facebook. And I see what people post, divisive, politically charged, mean-spirited crap, because they are angry and frustrated with the way things are. They are afraid. It makes me wonder just how much the recent rash of violence we've seen is related to how upset, frustrated and powerless people feel.

So I want to talk about fear. People are afraid for their livelihoods. They are afraid because they want to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and live their borrowed, temporary, fake comfortable lifestyles full of gadgetry that they sell their souls to live. And they'll lie, stab someone else in the back, cheat, and steal to keep going, because they think they will be safe.

And so they put up with a lot of crap, that affects their health and well-being, sometimes staying for years in the same place because it's comfortable, but it's a false comfort because underneath they are afraid, very fearful every day that their paycheck and way of life will dry up suddenly. And they know it all depends on keeping a smile plastered on their faces, on being apologists for bad corporate behavior, acting like domestic violence victims who will come back no matter how many times they are beaten because they just don't get it, that they are enabling it themselves by their complicity.

But the way things are has us by the proverbial family jewels...and most people see their only hope of survival to be docility. It's not a good thing when you see multiple instances of people going berserk, and the copycats who follow, and you never know what it was that pushed them over the edge. There is way too much mental illness and not enough care for people who can't deal with the stresses life throws at them. It doesn't have to be this way. We have created this situation.

Over the years I have heard of so many people who got sick from their jobs, the stress, the inability to wake up in the morning and face another day of faking it, of making excuses for the sick and perverse way they enable the poor treatment of other people, of toeing the line and shutting up. And the behavior of corporations is dependent on fear, because those in the highest tiers are fearful of losing their control, so they rig the system to work in their favor, because they can. It makes people sick.

If you have the ability to see what's leading to a downward spiral, taking back control over your life and refusing to be sucked into the quicksand is what you have to do. You cannot force yourself to do things, you'll be bitter, angry, hateful, and sick. You'll be lucky if all you need are antidepressants.

I love the words to the song/poem "Coming Up" by Ani DiFranco. Reminds me of our politicians. Indulge in some wishful, idealistic thinking for a moment.

Congress, having formed its own set of rules for its members' behavior, works with their own code of unethics to guide them and obstruct any progress that might be in the interest of most citizens. They don't want to abide by the Affordable Care Act. That's for the little people. Whether they are on the side of attorneys or Big Pharma or insurance giants or big banks, they're all pitted against the common good and only acting in their own interest. As long as your ass is covered, it doesn't matter who's winning. What we need to do is remove them from office. Voting won't work. Hog-tie and carry them out if we have to. They are not serving us, they don't deserve be called our representatives. Send them back home where they can learn to work paycheck to paycheck like the rest of us.

The people are numb, anesthetized by their own gullibility for shiny flashing objects...necks flexed and mesmerized by their little mobile devices. When you spend most of your leisure time focused on a tiny little screen and fingertip-operated keyboard, and the remaining time focused on a bigger screen operated by a remote control device, there's not much brain space left for focusing outside, for thinking critically, or seeing a bigger picture.

Can't step outside yourself and your situation for a moment to ask yourself: Why? Why are we doing this? Why are things the way they are? Does it have to be this way? The thing is, we have short attention spans. No sooner is a thought thought, than it dissolves into the atmosphere. Can't hang onto it long enough to pursue it. It's true that we are powerless as individuals but wrenching ourselves from our butts and banding together with other people is what needs to happen.

It doesn't appear that anyone will be waking up from this societal coma anytime soon.

No, people want to find the next distraction, they're stupid enough to fall for fake "quizzes" as marketing devices for fake cures for middle age, or the latest snack food to support the obesification industry, or anything else of which irresponsible journalists enable the marketing: camel's milk, red bean Triscuits, snake oil, Androgel...

As long as they can still buy these things, they don't seem to care about changing anything.

You can't regulate stupidity. There's a whole industry built on it. It's called "America".