Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas 2011

This Christmas was pretty awesome. Much different than my usual holiday routine. In years past I always made a point to work the holidays because my family is crazy and it was just easier to volunteer to work.
This year though it was infinitely different... having Chris and his family was wonderful. In some ways bittersweet because it made me acutely aware of what I had been missing for so long. A feeling of Christmas joy that I have not allowed myself to feel for quite a few years now but this year it came in full force. I am one lucky girl to have such amazing future in-laws. :)

Sadly, at some point during the festivities I managed to lose my camera bag at their house. Luckily, I still have my camera but it means that my camera battery, extra lens and cable are no where to be found. Which basically means that I have no pictures of this holiday because my camera is dead.
The only two survivors are pics from my iPhone.
1)The awesome Christmas fort I built in my room. I knew having a canopy bed would pay off someday. There is something magical about Christmas lights around you when you're falling asleep. :)
2) The best Christmas present ever. When Chris bought my engagement ring he purposely picked out a plain band... that way we could go back together and pick out a setting. He got me the most beautiful one ever and it's great because I can more safely wear it at work without it snagging on everything now!
Luckiest. girl. ever.
Merry Late Christmas Friends! How was your holiday?

Friday, December 23, 2011

It ain't about me... or is it?

Warning: I'm about to get brutally honest here so hang in there with me... this won't be one of those mushy "nursing is so great!" posts.... cause truth be told, nursing has not been so great recently. In fact it's been tedious at best. I have not been at my best recently either. I'm tired and to be honest I'm a little bored these days. I find myself counting down the minutes until my shifts are over and my fuse has grown short with people.
I have to say that there are a lot of times in my job when I take things personally even though I have no business doin' so. In my line of work you deal with people at their worst. Sick, broken and teetering on the edge of life and death.
For some reason, recently people have been straight up crazy though. Like kickin', hollerin' and bein' down right mean -crazy. Most of me gets it. I get that when you are at your worst you don't have much to give, especially if you really aren't in your right mind... which happens a lot in these parts. There is a reason ICU delirium is a legit diagnosis.
Most of the time I'd like to think that I handle these situations okay. I see what happens when people get defensive and try to argue instead of understanding. It just doesn't work and usually it just makes the patient angry and you more frustrated. If I was in that hospital bed who knows how I would be? Just take a look at me around 4:00am on any given night shift and you'd probably have a slight clue.
Lately I have been in this weird place. Apathetic in a sort of way to what goes on around me. You see sickness and death all of the time so when a patient comes in with cancer that has ravaged their face you aren't moved the way you once were. Or when a patient with severe pulmonary disease is throwing the biggest fit in the world because they have to be on an obnoxious bipap mask all night... you tend to not have as much sympathy as you once did.
No... now I find myself annoyed at every call light I have to answer. Tired of the same old routine that doesn't challenge my brain but injures my back and zaps every ounce of energy I have left. Frustrated because I can't understand what my patient is trying to say... it's difficult when you've had half your tongue removed, ya know? That is not what crosses my mind though... the fact that he is angrily pointing at these scribbled, jumbled letters on a piece of paper like I am supposed to magically understand them... that is what I see. Frustration and pain and exhaustion... from both parties.
Finally I discern what he is trying to convey...

"It hurts when I swallow... is that ok?"

"Yes, that's totally normal." I nod my head eagerly. 

Relieved to finally be able to communicate, the man breaks down in tears and starts profusely apologizing.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." he mouths as he lays his head back on his pillow.
The floodgates have now opened and I instantly feel like a horrible person.
He knew I was getting frustrated too and I probably could have done a lot more to hide that fact. To have patience and understanding for a man who is battling the big C and now has a very long and brutal recovery ahead. Today I will go home and I will crawl into bed a healthy person... sleeping in my own house peacefully.
This man will not.
He will not have anything close to that and the least I could have done was given him a little room to be frustrated without me being annoyed or inconvenienced back.

I told him that he did not have to ever apologize to me for something like that. I held his hand and told him that I was sorry too.

The worst part of it all is that I don't really know what to do from here. I come to work every day. I do my job as best I can but I'm realizing that my best sometimes just isn't what it should be. I am tired... all the time. I am bored with my job and don't feel challenged but I have no desire to change. I am holding it together on the surface just fine but inside I feel like something just isn't right. And I can't help but wonder if the problem is everything else or if it starts right here... with me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

So you want to run a marathon?

When I first considered running a marathon, even I thought I was crazy. After running my first half marathon with barely a year of solid running under my belt and virtually no training plan in place, I was lucky to still be standing. Still, I had caught the bug and within a month of that first 13.1 mile endeavor I began training for my first marathon. Little did I know I would be doing three in just 2 months time.

All that to say that I have learned a few things along the way and I've been wanting to do a post about it for those of you out there who are like me... thinking that running 26.2 miles is impossible. Well not anymore! It's definitely hard... but not impossible.

These are a few tips that I have learned along the way.
First things first:
1. Be sure you have a baseline fitness level. If you can run more than 3-5 miles non-stop you are ready to begin marathon training. I would highly recommend that you see your physician before starting any vigorous training regimen though, especially one as taxing as marathon running. Most people say that a full year of regular running is good to start out with. I had been running very regularly for about 7 months before I began my marathon training but I got away with it by choosing a very gradual, 7 month training plan that didn't push my limits. Listen to your body and trust your instincts. You will know whats right for you.

2. Choose the right training plan! I can't emphasize this enough. If you are incredibly fit and have been running races for a while... sure, maybe 12 weeks is the perfect amount of time for marathon training. For the rest of us... not so much. I am here to tell you that this one thing can make all the difference. I am not a natural-born runner. I am short and stalky and I run slower than a turtle in quicksand (for most running standards). Seriously I run 10-14 minute miles depending on the distance I run. The only time I broke a 6 hour marathon time was during my training run. That being said... I still was able to run 3 marathons in two months and I did it with virtually no injuries at all. I completely credit it to the training plan I chose. If you want tips on finding the running plan that's right for you check out, or

3. Have a reason to run. Set a goal. Find a friend to run with. Do anything and everything to remember why you want to do this because trust me... when you are on mile 18 of your long run and your feet feel like anchors and your legs feel like they will break with another step... you need to have something to hold onto to keep moving, especially during training. Either that or you need a person to hold onto (literally or not) to remind you that you can and  actually do want to finish 26.2 miles.

4. Run each long run as if it is your race. There are many facets to marathon training. The obvious ones are that you build endurance, gain muscle and mental stamina to finish the race. The other parts of training are that you're getting out all the kinks BEFORE you actually run the race... that way race day is as smooth and painless as possible. Try out different routines, different pre-run meals, snacks, energy drinks, clothing, shoes, music, etc. All of those little details will make running so much better and your race that much easier. Once you find out what works DO NOT change it (unless of course it stops working). Especially do not change it on race day. Don't go buy new shoes or socks the day before, just stick to what works.

5. Invest in some good gear! The right gear can make all the difference. Some good compression pants/shorts are a worthy investment. A reliable GPS watch is a must in my book. Garmin and Timex both make some great products and it doesn't need to be fancy but being able to track your split times and distance are key to making sure you are on track with your training. Cytomax makes a great electrolyte drink and GU gels were my favorite mid-run fuel snack. Try out different things during training but make sure you are well stocked on race day. During one of my races the aid stations ran out of water and electrolytes.... it was a good thing I had my own water bottle and cytomax powder on me or I would have died after mile 10. Keep a few band aids in your pocket as well... you never know when those might come in handy. ;)

6. Choose the right race. Before you decide when and where to run your first marathon, remember to keep a few things in mind. What is the course like? Are there a lot of hills or is it flat? Is it trail or is it pavement or both? What is the climate like? What time of year will it be? Try to pick a place that is most similar to where you will be doing the majority of your training runs. If possible try not to make your first race one that you will have to travel long distances for. If you do travel, be sure to allow your self ample time to rest before race day.

7. Prepare for race day. Before each race I run, whether short or long, I have a routine. If I am doing a large race that has an expo I always make sure and set out all my gear before I head to the expo. That way if I am missing anything I can pick it up there instead of finding out at 10pm after all the stores are closed. If possible I try to drive to the start line so I won't be navigating completely new territory on race morning. Study the course map and familiarize yourself with the terrain. Go to bed early but don't worry if you hardly sleep at all the night before. Most people don't. As long as you've slept well that week you should be fine. Nerves and adrenaline will carry you on race day. Stop drinking water approximately 30 minutes before race start... that way you can avoid the huge port-a-potty lines at the start line. Get to the start early! Nothing is more disruptive to race day than being the last person to cross the start line.

8. Get a good support system. Marathon training will take over your life. It will suck away your free time and eventually your schedule and mental energy will be fully invested into this endeavor. Rally those around you to help. Warn your family and friends of what you are doing... explain that you will need a little grace during this time. You will probably feel tired and worn out at times and having people who will understand and maybe even offer to help you out when things get tough can be invaluable. Remember that not everyone will understand what you are doing... find people who do and lean on them when things get rough.

9. Last but not least... Have Fun! Marathons are tough.... there is a reason such a few percentage of people will ever actually accomplish one in their lifetime. Running a marathon was one of the most challenging things I have ever done but it was also one of the proudest moments of my life. Remember to smile and breathe and enjoy the moment. When you finish and that medal is hanging around your neck, it will all be worth it.

And if you are truly crazy awesome like me, you can take that medal and wear it every where you go for the next week, showing everyone just who you are... a marathon runner!

My newest addition to the Bling wall... the triple crown medal for completing three rock 'n roll races this year. :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life should always be in bullet points

My life these past two weeks in 10 bullet points
  • Celebrated Thanksgiving with my family after coming home from Arizona.
  • Worked a ton.
  • Moved into my new house!
  • Picked a wedding date and have begun planning a wedding that will be very similar to this one.
  • Am amazed at how a wedding as simple as that can still cause so much drama. Why do weddings make people crazy?
  • Got sick... twice and am still recovering from a horrible cold. 
  • Watched my new 3D TV that Chris and I scored on black friday. 
  • Did some serious coupon shopping... more on that to come in a future post. 
  • Am amazed at the generosity of my new family... seriously I am the luckiest girl alive cause my future in-laws are the best.
  • And on that note I want you all to check out this video. My future sister in-law who is incredibly talented is trying to win a contest and she needs a lot more views for her video. Trust me it will be worth your time. This girl can sing!
Happy Monday Friends!