Scatter my ashes here...

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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Boo! It's NaRunMoMo!

Yes, it's Halloween and I won't be out running all day in this beautiful weather we've been having, instead I'm indoors with the cookies. Not yo mama's cookies and milk,though...whatever this bug is that I caught in Arizona, it's got a grip on me. I'm coughing up lung cookies* and still feeling half wiped out.

Since getting back from Tucson I've been in a different type of work mode, though my energy has been only half of what it is normally. I've been working on marketing plans, social media stuff, some continuing education classes that I've put off for months, and thinking about the growing pile of edits I need to get started on, with a new website and associated busywork. The Bella has been at my feet, enjoying the sunshine in the woman cave.

We had our first frost this past week and the flowers haven't figured it out yet. Neither have the raspberries, the left side of the raspberry patch decided to bloom late this year and we've had some delicious berries as a second crop. That will come to a halt any minute, but it's been a nice surprise.
I walked a few times this week and the longest I went was about 3 miles pushing The Bella in the cart, and I didn't have much left afterwards.

I was planning to run with one of my new running partners, Colleen, this weekend, but I think it's going to be another week before that happens. If my energy comes back I might be able to run 20 or 30 minutes by tomorrow or Monday.

Color everywhere, even in the parking lots.

We're coming up on November and as of tomorrow not only will we have changed the clocks, but it's the start of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. Wondering if I should at least try to maintain some consistency since that is what I'll be doing in my work life.

If you're not familiar with those, they are National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month. I don't have anything that could be a novel, unless you count my past experience in nursing, but BloPoMo is right up my alley. Since I've been so lax in posting here this might help me get back to it!

the only way it will all be here, on this blog, is if I can make it #NaRunMoMo too...natonal running motivation month. Which is exactly what I need. As you can tell, I'm making this up as I write this post...

In my case, I'll be lucky to start with ten minutes a day tomorrow. But what the hell. Sounds like a good idea. I've never been much of a running streak type of person, it goes against better judgment in my opinion, but at this point in my life, I need to move regularly, and at a faster pace than a waddle, so it might be just what the doctor ordered. This doctor, anyway.
*forgive me I'm a former ICU nurse and I just can't help myself.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Whirlwind in the Desert: BRA Day

I'm home, looking at the cool fall colors, after a week in Arizona. I managed to catch a nasty cold, probably on the flight down there, so I'm sniffling, hacking and snorting my way through the day, surrounded by piles of tissue and tea cups.

This blogpost isn't much about running, although I'm proud to announce that I have now been consistent with running most days of the week for the past 6 weeks. This coming week I'm sure I will cut back in order to get over this crud, but I feel like I've finally reached a point where the running is habitual again. I was up to nearly an hour and a half of running 4 or 5 days a week with some 2 hour runs thrown in there. Still no interest in ending my current hiatus from doing any running events, but we'll see how that goes...

I went down to Scottsdale to visit my dad and stepmom, and speak at an event in Tucson. Wednesday October 21 was BRA Day, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. It's intended to educate women about a full range of options for breast reconstruction following mastectomy.

Most women don't find out that they have a range of procedures to choose from that include using their own tissue to reconstruct breasts after a mastectomy, often they rush into immediate reconstruction with expanders and then implants, without being informed about all the possibilities because of microsurgical techniques that allow the patient's own fat and skin to be harvested and a blood supply established to create a more natural appearing breast.

More about that in a few... I flew down and the weather was un-Arizona-like. It rained like hell two nights in a row, a deluge of rain and hail in different parts of the valley. I ran early Monday morning with my running friend Chris and another friend of his on the canal, before the sun came up. It felt more Florida than Arizona with the humidity.

I hung out with my dad and stepmom, my dad is doing somewhat better and it appears that chemo is working. We won't go into the details of the possibility of relapse, which is fairly high, but he's feeling better and things are going well overall. Things are looking up now. It's great to see him getting his old energy back. Not quite himself, but he's improved dramatically.

I met with a social media expert while I was down there and will be using his services as I move forward with my business endeavors. I finished a big chunk of work before I left and now I'm switching gears from developing content to marketing.

Then it was time to go to Tucson for BRA Day. I met Terri online, now I can't even remember the exact circumstances of our connection but we started corresponding last summer and Terri wanted to make a BRA Day event happen in Tucson and she perservered along with the help of some nurses and social workers in Tucson who convinced the powers-that-be that it would be a worthwhile event to host.

Terri assembled a panel of speakers and the backing of local businesses to support the event and it came together despite many hiccups and speedbumps along the way. I agreed to help in any way I could despite being out of town.

We set it all up in the lobby of the U of A Cancer Center, which looks and feels remarkably similar to the Cancer Center we have here in Fort Collins. It was dumping rain as we carried all the supplies and donated gifts from Terri's car to the lobby of the Cancer Center.

We didn't have a room, podium, or formal presentation set-up, just some lobby furniture and a screen, and a microphone. But we did it, and it worked. One of the nursing staff members bought the refreshments herself. Local businesses donated prizes. Terri's son recorded all he could on the Periscope app on my phone. Of course my phone battery died even with the extra battery pack, so we didn't get to record most of the speakers. We have a learning curve with Periscope, which has some glitches itself.

I spoke on "Reconstructing Well-Being", about some of the overall wellness, prehabilitation and lifelong habits to adopt regardless of where a person might be with regards to cancer treatment and reconstruction decisions. Terri talked about her experience as a patient, there were nurses, social workers, tattoo artists, a plastic surgeon's PA and a breast surgeon there. Topics ranged from sexuality to surgical options to cosmetic appearance to more personal experiences from a patient who is also a nurse.

We had no idea how many people might show up for the event but we hoped it would be at least a couple of dozen. As it turned out we had a good 40-50 people in attendance. Afterwards we cleaned up and moved the furniture back to where it was, and it was time to party!

Afterwards four of us, the three nurses and Terri, went out to a Mexican restaurant for food and margaritas and got serenaded by a mariachi band, and decompressed. It is so amazing how every health system, nurses, cancer centers, and administration work the same everywhere.

This event only happened because of the work of Terri, a patient advocate, and her backing by a nurse and social worker who wanted to do something needed, useful, important, and meaningful for patients. It wouldn't have happened otherwise.

This is what it takes, people need to speak up and be vocal. Advocating for yourself as a patient, and for others who face similar experiences, as Terri does, and health care workers advocating for patients' needs and filling the gaps in information and care, all of that only happens at the grassroots level. With the corporatization of health care, the people up high are running a business. To use an overused term, there is a disconnect yes- I hate cliches too - between the business of health care and the service of health care. Service is what it needs to be about, otherwise we won't be serving anyone's best interest except the people who stand to profit.

The only way to make things work for the people who need the services is to do the footwork, be vocal, don't back down, and persist. It takes effort to make worthwhile things happen, and if at first it doesn't fit, make it fit.

Just like you have to move and make some effort to improve your health, changing the way the system works will take real effort toward movement. Sedentary habits won't create change.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Wind

I'm back.

There really wasn't much to talk about running wise until now. I am 4 weeks into a consistent 4-5 day a week running routine and making progress. This weekend I did two back to back two hour runs. And felt pretty good.

The Great Squirrel Caper happened on Saturday night to keep us on our toes. Isabelle missed the entire thing, she was sitting in the backyard grass, oblivious to the chaos in the basement.

First, we heard something in the chimney. We tried to ignore it, thinking it was a bird. Then it got louder and more frantic. We decided it was better to check it out now than wait until we smelled it. Dennis got a big garbage bag and opened the cover and flue from the fireplace downstairs. He waited for the bird to come down.

And a squirrel flew out of the fireplace.

It ran all over the room, Dennis chased it with a broom, trying to figure out how to catch it. It ran into the bathroom, jumped in the toilet, ran behind the door where Dennis thought he had it trapped, but it climbed up the back side of the door and flew over the top back into the basement.

It had soot all over its paws and then they were wet, so it tracked black squirrel prints all over the carpet and the walls and everywhere it went.

Finally Dennis got the window open and managed to get the squirrel to go out the window.
A little Saturday night excitement at our house!

I've been busy trying to get the last bit of content written before I go to Arizona next week. Will be speaking at BRA Day in Tucson. And visiting my dad and stepmom, running with an new/old running buddy and so on. My dad is starting to feel a little better and we're hopeful that the chemo will be behind him before too long. It's too soon to tell but it looks good.

That's really all the news I have now. I'm back to running but I have to say that's tentative because it's only been 4 weeks and believe me it's been a struggle some days. I wan to to run 5 days a week but sometimes it only happens on 4 days. That's okay. I am still doing a lot of walking and pushing Bella in the cart. I use that as my brain breaks from working.

I am running again, though, and I'm at the point where I can start to think about running adventure. Who knows what my crazy brain will think up next? Once I finish purging my brain onto the keyboard, if I have any brain cells left at all, I'm sure it will be creative. Halloween is coming, look out...