Tag Archives: injury

Running: Breaking A Personal Barrier

19 Mar

My Distance Enjoyment Chart

Yesterday morning I went for a 17km run.

As usual, I didn’t get enough sleep the night before. As usual, I seriously questioned the sanity of what I was doing as I got ready. And as usual, I ended up enjoying the run far more than I had thought I would.

Whenever I’m ramping up my distance, 17km is a milestone distance. If you were to plot my enjoyment of distances on a graph, the line would rise steadily from 5km to 10km. Then it would start to drop, and the lowest point would be at 16km – a distance that for whatever reason is hell for me. After 16km, the line climbs and reaches its highest point at 21.1km – the half-marathon distance.

So 17km is like a magic number for me. It means that I have broken the ugly 16km barrier at which I never really know how to pace myself, and I am free to run true to my natural style.

I knew going into the run that it might be a challenge. Two decades ago I sustained a serious injury to my left ankle that flares up from time to time. On Saturday night, I had woken up multiple times feeling as if someone was sticking a red-hot skewer right into the centre of my ankle joint. Sure enough, when I started running on Sunday morning, my foot felt a little tender. In addition, my left hamstring was a little tight, probably due to the fact that I added hill training to my routine last week.

I ran anyway, reasoning that I could always stop if I had to, and yet knowing that I wouldn’t. Little aches and pains that I feel at the start of a run have a way of disappearing as I loosen up.

Apart from a couple of little twinges, I pretty much forgot about the pain in my ankle. The hamstring never really loosened up, but it didn’t get worse either, and I was able to pace myself more or less consistently throughout the 17km. I had my usual difficulties at the usual times, and got through it as I always do: positive self-talk, upbeat music, and a reminder that my whole reason for running is to raise funds for autism.

It’s amazing how the thought of doing something for your kids can put things into perspective. My son lives with the challenges of autism day in and day out, and it will be this way for the rest of his life. Surely, surely, I can cope with the challenges of running for a couple of hours once a week.

And so I finished my 17km, and returned home to be greeted by the child who motivates me to do all of this. This little dude is the only person in the world who can hug me fiercely without caring that I have 17km worth of sweat and salt all over me. Sure, it’s a little gross, but at the same time it’s totally endearing.

After the run I may not have felt as good as new, but I was in reasonable enough nick. My hamstring hurt like the blazes for the rest of the day and I needed to stay off my ankle as much as possible, but I felt the sense of triumph that always comes after a successful long run.

My next long run will be 19km, and I say: BRING IT!

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Christmas Trees, Snow And My Middle Finger

19 Dec

Ladies and gents, listen up! I have an announcement!

*Tapping foot while the drone of multiple conversations gradually dies down and people look in my direction*

OK, now that I have your attention – ex­cuse me, you at the back of the room, I need undivided attention here, because this is a momentous occasion. Now that I have your attention, I want to tell you that this year I got my Christmas decorations up a full week before Christmas!

This is unprecedented. Every other year, I’ll be commuting home from work, and I’ll suddenly look up from the book I’m reading with a jolt, thinking, “Holy crap! Christmas is three days away and I don’t have my decorations up yet!” I’ll arrive home, and in a whirlwind of activity that startles my family, I’ll hunt down the decorations and then flit about putting them up.

To be fair, I compensate for my tardiness by leaving the decorations up until mid-February.

This year I decided to do it differently. I would do my decorating on a Sunday, when things are a bit less chaotic, and when I can bully sweet-talk my children into helping. Apart from everything else, my almost-six-year-old son James gave me a reason for getting my decorating done: he wanted to go to school and tell his friend Ciara that he had the best Christmas tree in the world. This would be the same kid who featured in a note James wrote that declared, “Ciara is skeery.”

In order to decorate, I first had to go shopping. My Christmas tree tinsel is a gazillion years old, and is 45% shiny tinsel, 55% tatty string. I also got some oversized baubles and a small disco ball (James’ idea) to hang from the ceiling, and some new stuff for my ceramic Christmas village. I was about to go in search of some cotton wool to make Christmas village snow out of, when I saw some “instant snow” mix. The instructions seemed straightforward enough: just mix with water and viola! You have snow!

Well, this looked nice! My village could have actual snow – or something that looks like actual snow!

I paid for my purchases, wrestled my children back into the car, and drove home. I was unaccountably excited about putting up the decorations, so I hustled my family through dinner, and with a decisive clap of my hands, I said, “Right! Time to tackle the decorations!” The husband helped with the heavy lifting, then he dove for cover, having learned from previous years that the living room turns into a hazardous obstacle course during decorating time.

I got the tree up and decorated. I perched the angel on top, plugged it in, and switched on the lights. Immediately my living room looked like a family was actually celebrating Christmas in it. Next stop was the Christmas village. I dug out all of the pieces, arranged them on the mantle, and strung lights through the buildings so they could glow from the inside. Now all I needed was snow! I grabbed my packet of instant snow. One tablespoon of powder in 32 ounces of water, said the instructions. I measured out precisely 32 ounces of water, added precisely one tablespoon of powder, and stirred.

Hmmm. Didn’t seem to be working out too well. Apart from a few sorry-looking flakes in my water jug, I wasn’t getting anything. I threw in some more powder. Now the consistency of the water was starting to change, which was promising. For good measure, I added a bit more powder.

Thirty seconds later, I was staring in astonishment as fake snow spilled out my water jug and into the kitchen sink. This stuff was unreal. It was expanding like crazy and just wouldn’t stop. It reminded me of the time I used my breadmaker with a tablespoon of yeast instead of a teaspoon of yeast, resulting in the Great Bread Explosion Of 2009.

Well, I had enough snow for my village. In fact, I had enough snow for my village to be buried in an avalanche. I gave my village snow for a pretty snowfall, and then tried to wash the rest of the snow down the sink.

Big mistake. I only got more snow. What the hell is this stuff, and why can’t my money do that?

I abandoned the snow and turned to the big baubles and the disco ball. Hanging them from the ceiling would be simple enough. All I had to do for each one was raise two adjoining ceiling tiles, tie the string onto the metal strat between the tiles, and then lower the tiles. Not a problem – I’ve done this many times. I hung the first bauble, but only one of the ceiling tiles would go back into place. I raised it up a little higher, and then let it go so it could drop. Unfortunately, I neglected to first move my finger out of the way, and the tile came crashing down right on my fingernail.

I am not proud of the language that came out of my mouth. My husband came rushing in to see what I was swearing about. He asked me why my face had turned white, but before I could answer, James started dancing around me chanting, “Mommy said a bad word! Mommy said a bad word!” James’ older brother George, the eight-year-old with autism, was cheerfully repeating the said bad word over and over. My finger had already started sprouting a colourful bruise. I held it up to show my husband, who was tickled pink over the fact that it happened to be my middle finger. I ran into the kitchen and shoved my hand into the sinkful of fake snow. To my surprise, it actually did soothe the pain a little.

I pulled myself together enough to hang the rest of the baubles (without incident) and the disco ball (also without incident). Now all I had to do was get rid of the excess fake snow. My husband suggested flushing it down the loo, but I had a feeling that if we did that, we’d have to wear snowshoes every time we needed to pee. In the end, I just scooped it up and threw it into the garbage can.

And now, we can sit back and relax – actually, that’s a lie. I still have to do my Christmas shopping. But I can at least go home at the end of the day and drink a well-deserved glass of wine in the warm glow of the Christmas lights.

Giving Up A Race

14 May

Well, this is crap. I am registered for the Toronto Womens Half-Marathon at the end of May, and it looks like I won’t be able to run it. I hate, hate, hate having to give up race registrations, and there’s a part of me that still wants to try and run this race. But training has been hard when it’s happened at all. There has been too much going on – like the small business of getting married and all of the planning that went with that.

I’ve still been running, don’t get me wrong. But my distances have not been as long as I’d want them to be, and I haven’t felt quite as strong as I’d like.

And now I’ve gone and caught a cold. Not a bad one, but just enough to make me feel like I shouldn’t take a chance on running. And to complicate matters, the nerve in my neck that got damaged last year has been acting up. This happens from time to time: I feel that uncomfortable numbness in the fingers of my left hand that is accompanied by a slight aching sensation in my arm as I run. My gut keeps on telling me that if I try running a 21km race a mere two weeks from now, I will get injured and sideline myself for the rest of the summer.

My gut is always right. I know better than to second-guess my instincts.

It’s not all bad news, though. I am looking for another half-marathon to run in late June or early July (if anyone knows of anything within reasonable driving distance of Toronto, let me know!), and I have submitted my registration for my annual Run for Autism, meaning that soon I will be able to start fundraising.

I may be temporarily down, but I am by no means out.

A Life Hanging In The Balance

20 Apr

About three weeks ago, we hired a new respite worker for George. It has been a long, frustrating process – anyone who has ever had a need for a respite worker will know that the good ones are like gold dust. They are very hard to find, and even harder to keep.

When our new worker, F, walked into our home for an interview, I liked her immediately. Perhaps more tellingly, both of the kids took to her immediately. In a very short time, she has wormed her way into the hearts of the entire family.

Sadly, as she becomes an important part of our family, a crisis is happening in her own. A couple of weeks ago, the car that her sister and sister-in-law were traveling in was hit by a car making an illegal turn. The driver of the other car drove away at speed, but not before a witness snapped a picture of him with a cell phone. Police have since found the vehicle and identified the driver, who is currently hiding out in the United States.

F’s sister is OK. She has a broken leg and some nasty bruising. The sister-in-law, on the other hand, is in very serious condition. She was pregnant at the time of the collision, and the baby did not survive. And now her own body is gradually shutting down. She is not responding to medication, her lungs are filling up with fluids, and doctors are saying that there is nothing they can do.

She has been moved to palliative care. There have been conversations about DNR’s.

My heart goes out to F, who is very close to her sister-in-law. I think of the anguish she is going through, and the pain of the man who is likely going to be widowed very soon. I think of a two-year-old child whose mother is dying. And it just breaks my heart.

Anyone reading this – please send out positive thoughts of strength and healing to a family who really needs it. The doctors say that a miracle is still possible. Let’s try to bend the will of the Universe to make that miracle happen.

Things That Go Boing In the Night

4 Mar

This morning I was once again lamenting the difficulty I am having with my running these days. I had planned to get up early to go running – an actual run on the road, instead of that pesky treadmill – but because my beautiful, quirky child with autism has an autism-related sleep disorder, he woke up at three in the morning to jump on the trampoline in the living room.

I had migrated to the couch in the middle of the night, having been ousted from my bed by James, who sleeps like a starfish and pokes knees and elbows everywhere. So what this meant was that I was woken at three this morning by the sound of “boing boing boing” coming from about four feet away from my left ear.

I couldn’t go running. Not that I had any hope whatsoever of going back to sleep, but going running would have involved leaving the kids with Gerard. Leaving sleeping kids with a sleeping Dad is OK. Leaving wide-awake, ricocheting-off-the-walls kids with a sleeping Dad is not a good idea. I would have come back from my run to find Gerard bound to a totem pole with rope, with the kids running around him in circles waving sticks.

It doesn’t matter that we don’t own a totem pole. The kids are resourceful. They would have found one or made one.

As I got ready for work in a haze of exhaustion, I stared wistfully at my pile of running clothes and wondered if I would ever get to go running again. I started freaking out a little. My next race is just under a month from now, and I have a half-marathon coming up at the end of May. I have not been running long distances for a couple of months now, and I need to start training in earnest.

I want to look strong and sexy when I pass the half-marathon water station manned by shirtless firefighters. I don’t want to look as if I’m about to explode. I mean, c’mon. I know I’ll be a lawfully married woman by then, but shirtless firefighters are shirtless firefighters.

When I stopped to think about the recent dearth of road running, I took heart simply by comparing myself to the state I was in this time last year. I was in the midst of being treated for a bundle of pinched nerves and I had bronchitis. Whereas this year I have actually been running – albeit on the treadmill – on a fairly regular basis, last year I was not able to run at all from late December until late March. And I still managed to put in a fairly decent showing at a half-marathon at the end of May.

So I’m thinking I’ll be fine. I’m in reasonably good shape, better than I was this time last year.

And even when the running is difficult, all I have to do is think about why I’m doing it and who I’m doing it for.

Overcoming The Bad Stuff: 19 March 2010

27 Feb

As I attempt to patch together bits of my life that feel as if they are falling apart, I find myself unable to write. This is a re-post from last year. In fact, this was only the third or fourth post in the life of Running For Autism. I’ll see you tomorrow, emotional Band-Aids and all.

 

2010 did not exactly start off well for me.  In early December, I had suffered from a strep throat infection, during which I had only been able to lie down comfortably in one position for three days.  This resulted in some stiffness in my neck and upper back.  It was not crippling, merely uncomfortable, and my chiropractor was helping me out with it.  The day before New Years Eve, a chiropractic adjustment went horribly wrong.  I had excruciating shooting pains in my back and going all the day down my left arm.  The fingers in my hand went numb. While everyone else was out partying it up the following night, I was sitting on the couch writhing in agony. I missed the New Years Day Resolution Run – something that I had been looking forward to for weeks.

Over the next month, I went to the Emergency Room twice, was seen by five different doctors, and got four different prescriptions for drugs.  I cried myself to sleep each night because I was in so much pain, and I appropriated the kids’ giant stuffed gorilla because it was just the right size for me to rest my arm on.  I was taking Percocet for the pain every six hours, and when the pain between doses got too much for me to bear, I was taking Tylenol Three as well.

For a month I could barely stand up, let alone run. In the end, it was the folks at Toronto SEMI (Sports and Exercise Medicine Institute) who saved me from insanity.  The doctor there told me what I had suspected, which is that I had a pinched nerve.  The pinched nerves always get resolved, he said, and it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to a few months.  I immediately started seeing one of the physiotherapists at SEMI, and within days I was starting to feel relief.  After two weeks, she told me I could try running again.  Two weeks after that, I was in full-on training mode again, and feeling great.

As soon as I had gotten back on my feet, though, I was struck down again.  I caught a cold, and the cold turned into something a lot worse.  I had a hacking cough, I had a fever that came and went, I was weak.  I was so sick that I was off work for two weeks, and was not allowed back without producing a doctor’s note certifying that I didn’t have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. During this time, I was not able to run for three weeks.

Last weekend marked the end of this three-week drought.  I got up on Sunday morning, and although I was still coughing a bit and somewhat congested, I decided to give it a try. It went surprisingly well – slower than I would have liked, but considering all I’d been through over the last three months, I didn’t mind.  I was just happy that I was out on the road again.

On Tuesday I went for a lunchtime run.  Due to time constraints, my weekday runs cannot really be longer than 5km, but that’s still enough for a good workout.  About 500m into the run, my hair band snapped.  Not a good thing – I have quite a lot of hair.  I ran almost 5km with my hair streaming out behind me.  It reminded me of those movies about horses, where the horses are running across meadows with the hair on their tails flowing behind them in the wind.  That’s what I felt like.  A horse’s ass.  I had also misjudged the weather that day, so I was overdressed.  Hair flying every which way plus clothes that are too hot leads to a run that is uncomfortable and cumbersome.  I was not happy with my pace or the fact that my heart rate was reaching the stratosphere.

My next run was on Thursday.  I almost left my running clothes at home that day, because I had had zero sleep on Wednesday night and did not rate my chances for a good run.  But you never know, so I took my gym bag to work, not really expecting to use it.  Come lunchtime, I still felt like the undead, but knowing from past experience how a run can actually have healing powers, I suited up and hit the road.  My clothes were appropriate and my hair band stayed intact.  It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and I had a fantastic run.  Although the “pace buddy” on my training watch still beat me, my pace was a lot better than it had been on Tuesday.  My heart rate stayed within reasonable levels.  When I reached the end of the 5km, I could have continued.  It was one of those runs that reminds me why I love running.

I am planning another 5km run for tomorrow morning, and a longer one for Sunday.  I am looking forward to my 10km race on April 3rd.  I am hopeful that I will stay healthy this time.  I have to.  After all, there are only 190 days to my next run for autism.

We Survived The Gastro Bug Of 2011

13 Feb

It has been quite a week, one in which both kids made it to the Emergency Room at our local hospital. James’ visit resulted in an overnight stay, which left me feeling exhausted and sick myself. With George, we were luckier. His condition, while similar to James’, was less severe and did not call for any needles or IV lines. We were seen by a really nice doctor, and then sent home with strict instructions on how to orally administer fluids.

Most parents of boys aged 5 and 7 have seen the inside of an E.R. at least once. With this latest visit, James has now clocked up four visits (3 months: hair wrapped around toe so tightly that said toe was turning purple; 2 years: hand placed on rapidly moving treadmill belt resulting in the loss of several layers of skin; 3 years: arm pulled out of joint at elbow by big brother; 5 years: severe dehydration).

George has been somewhat luckier in this regard, having only needed to visit the E.R. on two occasions. This is a good thing – I cannot describe how good. James takes stuff like this in his stride. Sure, he cried when the IV line was put in place on Wednesday night, and he cried when I explained to him that we would be in the hospital overnight instead of going home, but when these things happen, he understands that the doctors are there to make him better. George has a much harder time. His autism makes him resistant to changes in routine, new places, unfamiliar people, and strange smells.

Doctors’ offices are bad enough. Hospital E.R.’s have the ability to send him right over the top. It is a good thing that George has managed to stay healthy and relatively injury-free.

The first E.R. visit, the day after George’s 4th birthday, was prompted by an accident in the daycare he attended at the time. He had been stimming, spinning round and round in circles. The daycare staff were attempting to move George to the centre of the room where he could safely stim without hurting himself, but he lost his balance and fell, hitting his upper lip on the corner of a bookshelf.

The E.R. we took him to was very understanding. We registered him and completed all of the requisite paperwork, and then wondered out loud how we would cope with what was likely to be a long wait. The admitting nurse, realizing that George’s autism would make a hospital wait unbearable for him, told us to go to the donut shop across the street with him. When it was his turn, and when the examination room was all set up, someone would come and get us.

The nurse was true to her word. A hospital orderly came and got us after about twenty minutes, and we were taken straight into the examination room, where the doctor, a nurse, and two other orderlies were waiting. Before George had any clue what was happening, he was placed on the bed, and the orderlies expertly wrapped him up in a sheet like a burrito, so only his face was exposed. The nurse immediately swabbed his face, and the doctor, who was waiting with an already-prepared suture, gave George the single stitch that he needed.

We were in and out of there in less than three minutes. Kudos to all staff at that E.R.

This time round, George had to stick around for a longer time. His utter lethargy, while certainly a concern from a health perspective, definitely helped the E.R. visit go more smoothly than it otherwise might have. He endured the admission tests, with the exception of the temperature check. He was having none of that thermometer business, either at the front desk or in the examination room.

He  allowed the nurse to put a tamper-proof hospital band around his wrist. In the examination room, he tampered with it and got it off (people who make tamper-proof products should really test-drive them on out-of-the-box-thinking auties). I was very concerned about the prospect of an IV line. The kid wouldn’t even keep on a wrist-band. How were we going to prevent him from ripping out the IV line?

Imagine our relief when we were told that IV fluids would not be needed. We were told how to administer fluids, how frequently, and in what amounts. We all got to come home.

*Phew*

A day later, we are all officially on the mend. Well, except for James, who is completely recovered. George has just eaten a jam sandwich – his first real food in three days. I’m no longer feeling nauseous (I still think that was due more to pure exhaustion than anything else). Gerard is a bit more lively than he was yesterday.

And now, hopefully, we return to a “normal” life in the special needs family.