Monday, November 22, 2010

A Running History

In the past few months my life has quickly been consumed by running.
I guess I traded one addiction for another... but at least this one is healthy... right?
I've always hated running... I've never been fast and it's always been one of those things that has intimidated me. When friends would say things like, "Oh, we should go for a run sometime!"
I would immediately cringe and become borderline angry. "eeww I HATE running... I don't understand people who say they like to run... that is honestly just not possible!"

I reacted that way because I knew if I was to run with anyone they would quickly realize that I literally could not run for more than 3 minutes straight without wanting to puke... seriously... not how I wanted to be portrayed in front of anyone. I also knew that if anyone would try to push me along, "Come on, Andi! You can do it, run a little faster" I would feel even more anxious and cornered and would probably end up losing a friend in the process.
Yeah. Not good times... at all. Hence me never being a runner.

Until.... a few years back when Lent was coming up and I was trying to think of what I was going to "give up" for the 40 days. I decided that I was going to do something unusual and instead of giving up something like watching TV or eating chocolate... I decided that I was going to go to a local state park and hike every day. It was more a sacrifice of time and energy than anything else but I also knew it would be a good opportunity to pray and have some good quiet time to reflect. It was a difficult time in my life and I knew the conscious act of getting away to process things was going to be very needed at that time.

So... I started hiking every. single. day. 
Eventually, I got a little bored walking the same trails over and over again and the hills started really tiring me out... so every few yards or so I'd jog for a little bit and sometimes I'd run up the hills just to get them over with more quickly. Maybe I'd even run a couple minutes at a time... then when I was tired I would resume walking. By the end of the 40 days I was up to running almost an entire 5 mile trail every. single. day. Sometimes I'd even go twice!
It became my sanity... my sacred place and the one part of my day that made complete sense.

Eventually, after the 40 days were over, life sort of got in the way... vacations came up... my class schedule changed and I stopped running.   

six months ago I put out my last cigarette and traded my smoking breaks for gym breaks...
and very quickly... the treadmill and I became very good friends.

Now... after months of training, building endurance and a half marathon later... I think I can safely call myself a runner. The only books I read are ones about running and training programs. My favorite magazine is runner's world... it's the only one I will read cover to cover in one sitting. My future vacations are mostly planned around my future races and the money I once spent on cancer sticks, now goes to various types of running gear.

If you would have told me seven months ago that I would be signed up to run a full marathon the following year... I would have laughed... 
Now I am signed up for a bunch of half marathons on the west coast and a full marathon in San Diego next June! I might even be doing a full marathon in Seattle that very same month!
Yes... I have become that girl... the running maniac...

If you haven't ever run a race in your lifetime... I would highly recommend it! Even if its a 5k walk/run... it's truly amazing to see everyone come out and cheer you on... even though they have no idea who you are. Seriously... turkey trots are just around the corner friends! :)

So... as of now I am starting the Jeff Galloway training method and in seven months will be a marathon running machine! I'll be posting regular updates on here about my training triumphs and struggles... and of course my races. :)
I hope you all will enjoy coming along for the ride and maybe will be inspired to get active with me!

Finally got my finisher's medal in the mail from my half marathon in October! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life and death matters

Today, I was reunited with my old friend the ugly cry. I got off of work and I drove home in a silent reverie of emotions and wandering thoughts and by the time I arrived in my driveway I was a ball of water works. A broken down, sobbing disaster.

My patient died this week. It's been a while since a patient has died on my shift. As a matter of fact I think it's been well over a year since I've had a patient die. This time it was different too because this was a patient I had taken care of before... I had a chance to meet him when he was still very alert and talkative and full of life. I was off for a week and came back to discover he had been placed on comfort care.

The night he passed away he was doing relatively well considering the circumstances and he had family and friends from all over the country coming in to see him. They all shared such great stories about him and his life... it was truly heartwarming.

When the family came to see him in the morning they looked like zombies. They hadn't said goodbye to him the night before because we were all certain he was going to make it to the hospice unit the next day.

He didn't obviously and they were devastated.

Watching them as they came into the room where their father, grandpa, friend and brother was lying, cold to the touch, completely lifeless... it was painful.

The worst part came when one of his children came over to me... that look of shock on his face... tears streaming down his cheeks...

"What do I do from here? I mean... what.... what are we supposed to do now?"

I felt helpless... I reached out to grab his hand and all I could say was 

"I'm so sorry..."

I swallowed the lump in my throat and shook my head.

"I'm so sorry."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life in bullet points

  • I have been craving cake recently... anyone have any good recipes to share??
  • I realize that when I am running on no sleep... when I am exhausted I am a completely different person. In fact I can't even stand myself when I get to that point of exhaustion because I am a certified pain in the ass. 
  • I despise hormones and what they do to my body. 
  • aka PMS sucks.
  • I think I am the only person who can manage to gain weight while training for a marathon. 
  • BTW, did I mention that I officially am registered to run my first FULL MARATHON  on 6/5/11?
  • I bought new trail running shoes this weekend... aren't they cute? (sorry for the crappy iphone pic)
  •  I haven't pulled out my camera since Colorado and I'm seriously jonesin' for some photography time.
  •  Sometimes when I look at my photos I close my eyes and try to pretend I've never seen them before... when I open my eyes and see them again I fall completely in love with every single image.
  • This girl has an amazing voice and I've been listening to this song over and over again.

    • I have a really bad habit of listening to a song on repeat for days.... literally days.
    • Boys are dumb and I don't understand them at ALL... truly part of the reason I love being single is because I don't have to try and figure them out... most of the time I just pretend they don't exist but every now and then that doesn't quite work and I realize all over again that they are just frustrating... stupid boys.
    • Something REALLY exciting.... I'M NOT MOVING! I've convinced my roomie Sam to pay a little extra so we can just have a spare room and that way we will keep our awesome condo, have a guest room and no moving!! yayyyy
    • Sorry for the lame post but I have not had the time to sit and properly blog. Hopefully that will change very soon. :)
    Happy Friday Friends!!

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Today is not about me

    My patient kicked me last night. He was confused and angry and was starting to feel that "dooms day" feeling you get at the end of a long battle with congestive heart failure. That basically sums up what the past 3 days of work have been like for me. It was a long 12 hours and its been a very long week. 

    But today it isn't about me... today it is about the men and women I have the privilege of caring for everyday in my unit. Despite being kicked and spit on and called names... I was still able to say to both of my patients today, "Happy Veteran's Day. Thank You." I think it says something when even on your worst days you consider it an honor to do what you do.

    I am incredibly lucky and honored to be a VA nurse today.
    A gift to a patient who had recent heart surgery, his wife lovingly calls him an alien because the man never sleeps.

    One of my favorite patients of all time... so far :)
    To all of our soldiers who will someday be veterans and to all of the veterans out there who have served our country... Thank You, Thank You, Thank You..... it is an honor to be your nurse. 

    Happy Veteran's Day!

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Life as an addict

    Greeted by an amazing sunrise outside my unit the other day.

    "God, Give us the grace to accept
    the things we cannot change, 
    Courage to change the things we can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference."
    The serenity prayer; a well known entity in the lives of alcoholics and addicts everywhere.

    Today I am celebrating the fact that I have been a non-smoker for six whole months! I truly never thought I'd survive this long without smoking but I have... and I am so. flippin. proud. :)

    There have been so many moments that have tested the very core of my being. Moments where I have had to realize that well.... this is how life is for me now.... this is the life of a recovering addict. 

    I may not have been a raging alcoholic or an out of control drug addict.... I used tobacco, but I would bet that the internal struggles are the same in any addiction. 

    You crave it, you want it, nothing else seems to matter.... but you refuse to let it control your life any longer.  

    You choose to stay free.... every. single. day.

    I have learned that just because I want to smoke... does not mean I have to or should... and even on the days where the weight of it feels unbearable... I know that choosing freedom is more important... choosing life is more important.... choosing to fight for me is infinitely more important.

    So, today I celebrate freedom again and today I celebrate the new Andi that has emerged during these past few months. The runner in me is very, very thankful for that.
    Here's to another clear, deep breath and many, many more to come!
    Right before the finish line of my first half marathon!

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Managing the Gap

    When I first started working in nursing I actually thought that maybe, someday I would end up in management. You know.... years down the line when I was tired and burnt out from bedside nursing I could switch over to the administrative side of things and still feel useful in my career.


    The more nursing experience I have the more I realize that management in nursing is the exact opposite of everything I love about the job. I recently want to a "Journey to Magnet Excellence" conference through my hospital and it was surprisingly disheartening. Now, I know I tend to be a critical person... I am an ICU nurse after all, but I did actually go to this event with high hopes. I enjoy a challenge. I enjoy taking pride in my work and I enjoy being pushed to always become better. Still, the reality between the ideal and the actual is so far and wide. 
    I know that in the nursing profession, research is important; it's what makes us better as a whole and individually and it improves patient outcomes. At least that's the idea, right?

    I think I'm finding though, that what is done at the bedside and what is done in everyday practice is so completely different than what nursing executives try to implement into hospital policy. What is expected of the everyday bedside nurse is sometimes just not possible! 

    Save money, prevent infections, work short staffed, but make sure you find time to take a break so that you never call in sick and waste the hospital's money. Audit charts and physician orders, document on time and with incredible detail. Reduce patient falls but also reduce the amount of restraint use. Decrease the amount of sedatives and chemical restraints used on patients but live without simple resources that will make it a safer work environment for patients and staff. 
    Seriously, by the end of the conference I was so disheartened.  I felt like my job was impossible... being a good nurse according to your patient and being a good nurse according to your boss......
    two very separate and often times unrelated things.

    There are so many roles we fill as nurses. We are the front line workers. We are the ones who coordinate between all of the different services. We are the ones who know more about the patient than probably anyone else on the unit. We are the ones who put up with verbal and sometimes physical abuse from patients and family members. We are the ones that go without bathroom breaks and food for sometimes an entire day. We are the ones that have to be patient advocates....

    But who advocates for us?

    I am lucky to be in an area where nurses are paid well and because I work for the government I have good benefits. I love my job and I will always try to become a better nurse than I am today. Still, its hard not to look at the bar above and wonder just how in the world we will ever jump that high.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Time for some hometown pride.

    Admittedly, my number one baseball team is the Red Sox. I grew up watching the Red Sox because my grandfather was from Taunton, MA. (Pronounced taw'in if you're a true MA native like my grandpa)
    As a matter of fact, back in nursing school during the series the Red Sox were in... I was writing a paper while watching the game. When I got the paper back after it had been graded, I see a huge red circle at the bottom of the page "I'm assuming you were watching the game last night? Boston fan are we? :) " I had accidentally written sox instead of socks. haha good times.

    But today, since I am an SF bay area native... and because I LOVE my city.... seriously SF is the greatest and I've been to a lot of places.... well, today I am a 100% certified, very excited SF Giants fan. I may have a Boston Red Sox hat, but today I will be sportin' my Bonds #25 Giants T-shirt at work.
    ******** GO GIANTS! ********

    My friends and I at a game this past summer and me with my Giants beer and awesome garlic fries. Yummm AT&T park has the best garlic fries.
    Time to make history baby!!  I <3 SF! :)

    EDIT: OK, all I have to say is WORLD SERIES CHAMPS BABY!

    I wish you could all see what a glorious and amazing thing it has been to be in the bay area during this series. The incredible family of fans this team has created is such an awesome thing. When I came to work today, a few of us night shift folk, all dressed up in our Giants gear, ran into a room of a day shift nurse that had the game on. Luckily her patient was intubated and sedated... hah terribly unprofessional lucky ICU nurses aren't we?

    We sat there, all of us, arm in arm, clenching each other as tightly as we could... and  when that last pitch was thrown we immediately jumped and ran around yelling like crazy people.

    Seriously.... for hours people were running around outside the bars near AT&T park spraying champagne and yelling. For those hardcore Giants fans, this is long over due and I know there will be much celebrating going on for a long, long time because of this amazing victory. GLORIOUS is all I have to say....

    I LOVE MY CITY :) I think I just became an eternal Giants fan (just don't tell my grandpa k?)