Diagnostics

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If you have never had an X-ray taken of any of your bones, please go out and injure yourself immediately because no human should be denied the ego trip of seeing their own skeleton. I mean, I guess you could go get a bit high and imagine your own skeleton by staring very long at your hand, but SEEING it on a giant screen is just such a better buzz.

Especially since the reason you find yourself splayed out on an X-ray machine or breathing tiny, imperceptible breaths in the confines of an MRI tube is because you are in pain, over many months time, and no amount of rest or physical therapy is helping. Those moments of gazing at the shadows of your own insides can be as good as a dose of anti-inflammatories. It’s not only hard evidence of injury, which then leads to a plan of action to heal it, but SEEING your own bones… it makes you feel so actualized and alive. I need these affirmations since my fitness is so deteriorated, I cannot climb my stairs without gasping for breath or finding another sore muscle in my low back that needs to be soothed.

Today, after my X-ray ego-trip subsided, I got down to business to talk diagnosis for my right hip with the orthopedic surgeon. (Right hip has had a rapidly decreasing range of movement in last six months and increasing amount of pain.) Today was Doctor Number Two and his diagnosis and recommendations for treatment could not have been more different than Doctor Number One, which is both confusing and clarifying.

Doctor One (my knee guy): likely bone spurs, no surgery is needed, PT and A.R.T. prescription. Get MRI for both knees since knee pain still persists.

Doctor Two (hip specialist guy): likely not bone spurs but instead hip impingement called Femoral Acetabular Impingement or FAI; specialized MRI with dye, numbing agent, and cortisone. Ultimately it will have to be hip surgery to smooth out hip socket and remove any labrum tears. (Link to FAI page for all you aspiring Internet doctors.) Knee pain will likely improve once hip is structurally sound and strengthened properly. 6-8 months post-surgery to get to 80%, 12 months to get to 95%. This is VERY common in women athletes (from recreational to competitive) in their 40’s.

I have not totally processed how I feel about all of this information, so I am going to take my time to do that. I want to be methodical and clinical, but also make sure I have my emotions in check about making all of these decisions about more diagnostics and surgery. There is a financial component which is cumbersome and scary for me, but I don’t see how I can let that be a barrier to getting well and healthy. I am single and have to do a lot of this all alone. I could very easily slide into a pity party getting overwhelmed by the whole daunting process, including the dark daydreams of how bad it will be going up and down the 52 steps with no lung capacity and on crutches and trying to carry groceries and dog food and the mail. But, I know I can’t do that.

I am too enamored of these bones inside me, that are very, very real, and strong, and deserve to be healed. (I’d know that was the truth even if I were high.)

And Then September Ended

Happy Monday y’all.

I have been both busy and overwhelmed, which also means I’m tired, maybe from carrying around 8-10 extra pounds, oh and… will I ever run again??

I have started physical therapy, and cried in the first five minutes if that explains anything about how I am feeling about my body.

Otherwise things are great and I have some stories to share. This is me publicly declaring that I intend to write, so then I will do it.

Stay tuned partiers…

God Save The Queen

It’s a streak! Two posts in a row! And guess what else…

I walked AND I meditated. If there was a mic in my hand, I’d probably throw it for a strike.

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Tonight I decided to take my own advice and just, you know, WALK. Walk fast yes, but no running, not even a jog. Then in a stroke of brilliance (resilience!) I remembered I have an app on my iPhone called Buddhify. It’s designed for urban folks like me who spend considerable parts of their days commuting or walking through a city getting from here to there, often trying to disconnect from the blaring world around them, because honestly, one can only take so much city life with the bustling, busking and barking. (And I don’t mean by the dogs.) Buddhify has a a Gym meditation as well, so even though I don’t do gyms, it was the best fit for my intention tonight: connect my mind back to my body. Adorably, Buddhify is British, so you can select a male or female Brit to guide the meditation which could not have been more fitting on this day of Royal Windsor Baby Press Call. I watched a snippet of coverage right before the walk and found myself welling up over everyone’s authentic joy for these charming human anachronisms. Plus, there is no western culture that does pageantry like the British. I mean, there was a SIXTY-TWO gun salute. That’s pomp!

While coveting my hip British meditation guide’s cool tones and imagining how Princess Di would have been the best grandmother in the empire of the Universe, I thought of another favorite British character, the one and only Bridget Jones. (And not Renee Zellwegger’s version, the one that lives in my head based on The Book.) I read Bridget Jones’s Diary as soon as it came out in hardcover here in the US, which was the summer of 1998. I had already read the excerpts in Vogue and was a fan-girl from moment one. I would read the book in bed with my then boyfriend and start laughing so hard I would wake him from a dead sleep. Ahh happy memories…

Although I am now 10 years older than the eternally-32 Bridget, I can still relate to her struggles as an urban singleton and the desire to be loved just the way you are, even on the days you are up a size and the bigger tits are not feeling like a bonus. (Yes, gentlemen, I know, the tits are ALWAYS fine just the way they are, but especially bigger. Mine are. You’re welcome.) Eyes up here: so I found this fantastic excerpt and I howled with enough laughter in the re-read that I am sure to wake my new boyfriend from where he sleeps now.

Massive, breathless, earnest thanks to the writer of Bridget Jones’s Diary, the AMAZING Helen Fielding and to Brits in general for reminding me to carry on then, walk, meditate, mind the gap. Enjoy this excerpt.

Tuesday 3 January

130 lbs. (terrifying slide into obesity–why? why?), alcohol units 6 (excellent), cigarettes 23 (v.g.), calories 2472.

9 a.m. Ugh. Cannot face thought of going to work. Only thing which makes it tolerable is thought of seeing Daniel again, but even that is inadvisable since am fat, have spot on chin, and desire only to sit on cushion eating chocolate and watching Xmas specials. It seems wrong and unfair that Christmas, with its stressful and unmanageable financial and emotional challenges, should first be forced upon one wholly against one’s will, then rudely snatched away just when one is starting to get into it. Was really beginning to enjoy the feeling that normal service was suspended and it was OK to lie in bed as long as you want, put anything you fancy into your mouth, and drink alcohol whenever it should chance to pass your way, even in the mornings. Now suddenly we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds.

10 p.m. Ugh. Perpetua, slightly senior and therefore thinking she is in charge of me, was at her most obnoxious and bossy, going on and on to the point of utter boredom about latest half-million-pound property she is planning to buy with her rich-but-overbred boyfriend, Hugo: “Yars, yars, well it is north-facing but they’ve done something frightfully clever with the light.”

I looked at her wistfully, her vast, bulbous bottom swathed in a tight red skirt with a bizarre three-quarter-length striped waistcoat strapped across it. What a blessing to be born with such Sloaney arrogance. Perpetua could be the size of a Renault Espace and not give it a thought. How many hours, months, years, have I spent worrying about weight while Perpetua has been happily looking for lamps with porcelain cats as bases around the Fulham Road? She is missing out on a source of happiness, anyway. It is proved by surveys that happiness does not come from love, wealth or power but the pursuit of attainable goals: and what is a diet if not that?

On way home in end-of-Christmas denial I bought a packet of cut-price chocolate tree decorations and a £3.69 bottle of sparkling wine from Norway, Pakistan or similar. I guzzled them by the light of the Christmas tree, together with a couple of mince pies, the last of the Christmas cake and some Stilton, while watching Eastenders, imagining it was a Christmas special.

Now, though, I feel ashamed and repulsive. I can actually feel the fat splurging out from my body. Never mind. Sometimes you have to sink to a nadir of toxic fat envelopment in order to emerge, phoenix-like, from the chemical wasteland as a purged and beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer figure. Tomorrow new Spartan health and beauty regime will begin.

Mmmm. Daniel Cleaver, though. Love his wicked dissolute air, while being v. successful and clever. He was being v. funny today, telling everyone about his aunt thinking the onyx kitchen-roll holder his mother had given her for Christmas was a model of a penis. Was really v. amusing about it. Also asked me if I got anything nice for Christmas in rather flirty way. Think might wear short black skirt tomorrow.

Wednesday 4 January

131 lbs. (state of emergency now as if fat has been stored in capsule form over Christmas and is being slowly released under skin), alcohol units 5 (better), cigarettes 20, calories 700 (v.g.).

4 p.m. Office. State of emergency. Jude just rang up from her portable phone in flood of tears, and eventually managed to explain, in a sheep’s voice, that she had just had to excuse herself from a board meeting (Jude is Head of Futures at Brightlings) as she was about to burst into tears and was now trapped in the ladies’ with Alice Cooper eyes and no makeup bag. Her boyfriend, Vile Richard (self-indulgent commitment phobic), whom she has been seeing on and off for eighteen months, had chucked her for asking him if he wanted to come on holiday with her. Typical, but Jude naturally was blaming it all on herself.

Dear Sports, I Love You

From NYTimes "Kathy Martin (9) competing in the 3,000 meters in January at the Armory in Manhattan."

I am a sports fan.  Sure there are games too complicated even for me to devote the time to understanding (cricket? huh?), but for the most part, I love the very simple metaphor of the heroic journey every athlete and team member takes every time they put on their uniform, cross it to the center, stick the landing, return the volley, get barreled, sack the QB, cross the finish first, throw a strike, slam the dunk, dive no splash, deliver the knockout, dig that spike, dig down deeper when defeated and practice, practice, practice, practice and most of all believe.  Sport at its most basic forces a situation where the rules are set, the clocks are ticking, skill counts and winning is at stake.  These are of course symbolic wins and losses; it is not meant to be a life or death situation, but instead mimic the intensity of one by competition with others and the self.  (I cannot get lost in the topic of business or celebrity of sports today.  Go read a story about the entire NBA if you want that.)

The most compelling sports stories are those in which the athlete or team has overcome the incredible odds against them to achieve a personal best or an outright win.  The current story I am inspired by is Kathy Martin, a 60 year old masters runner, competing in track and field events and holding world records for her age bracket that are completely astonishing.  For a convalescing runner like me, there could not be a more delightful true athlete story than Kathy Martin’s.

Read it.  Then tell me sports don’t have heart.

(PS, if you don’t have a subscription to the NYTimes and you have used up your free articles on this the 3rd day of the month, email me.  I might still have a discount coupon code for you.  Get the Times people.  It’s good for your brain.)

Fix It

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I have only really alluded to the knee injury that has had me laid up for the past three months in a few quips, a sort of passive aggressive comment here or there to somehow report that’s why I haven’t been writing and posting as much. Like most passive aggression, it’s at its worst cowardly and its best very annoying. I’ve been both afraid to acknowledge how much it’s negatively affected my psyche and totally irritated with myself that I can’t make it better with two weeks of rest.

I am happy to write these words: I have started to heal my knee. This weekend, I had my first treatment with my new acupuncturist, who worked me over in a 90 minute first session, so much so I was pretty well knocked out all day Sunday. And I have the awesome cupping welts to prove it.

This injury has sucked so many distasteful things, but mostly, not running has made me realize how much I love it and need it and want it back in my life. Injury and ill health happens to every single one of us, but it’s not until you realize the value of your good health, whatever that range is for you, that you make sure you do everything in your power to maintain it. So if that means I am going to have to suffer some more discomfort and expense on the way back to my running shoes, I’m all in. I want it back and I’m coming to get it.

That and bikini season. Never said I wasn’t vain.

Words Matter. Tone Matters.

Get it? (Thanks MH for sharing.)

Sometimes, writing is hard.  Sure writer’s block comes and goes, but often it is the burden of having too much to say, too many stories to tell, too many feelings to share, and that is certainly how I feel today in light of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona yesterday.  The sudden convergence of so many of the things I that I care so deeply about – public service, politics, citizenship, free speech, my country, the freedom to do your Saturday errands and meet your representative at a strip mall – have quite literally been shot in the head. I knew I needed to write, but because this event interconnects so many personal anecdotes, I fear a flood of word vomit.  But, I also know if I don’t get it out, I will stay sick.

I was in Washington DC in July (the first of two trips there in 2010) working with a grassroots policy movement I support with bills before Congress to create a United States Public Service Academy.  I have now been to DC four times in two years, and each time I feel more completely American than the time before.  Other times I feel significantly American are ironically, during and after instances of national tragedy. Yesterday, after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, members of her staff, a federal judge, a child and citizens of the community, I felt the weight of that American identity and all it means to live in a country where we can both meet our Congresswoman at the local Safeway and carry a concealed weapon because (in some states) we have the right to do so.

I have been laid-up in one way or another the past month with various injuries, aches and pains, and yesterday morning started with me trying to not slip into despair over a fairly gnarly muscle spasm in my low back that has severely limited my mobility and hurts like a mother-effer.  Knowing that I would likely not be able to run yet again, I could hear the whinging pity party music starting to play in my head.  Resigned, I opened my computer and started to mindlessly click around and within about 20 minutes the banner headlines of BREAKING NEWS started to appear that there was a shooting in Arizona. I turned the TV on and started passing through the cable news channels to see who had the best coverage of what was happening.  I distinctly chose MSNBC first since I too am not immune to our polarized political/media climate and am a progressive-liberal Maddow watcher, but their coverage was all over the place; stomaching FOX that early and in pain was not yet an option for me, and so I went to CNN, who even though they had the B-team in, were doing the best they could under the circumstances.

Once I started to process what I was hearing, I went back to Facebook to see if any of my Arizona friends and college students with whom I work on the Academy (and have in fact met with Giffords on several occasions) had any news and within minutes declarations of shock and sadness were being posted. I realized then that I was shaking and had to walk away from the computer.  My sore back prevented me from doing what would have been best, running or hiking, so I turned on a football game, and tried to numb out rooting for the Saints.

The past 24 hours unfolded on the cable news networks as to be expected, lots of the same meager info being repeated and B-roll of Giffords on the floor of the House on a loop.  Also predictable, were the status updates, posts, tweets and blogs that were taking political sides on our now ubiquitous social media outlets.  (Remember when… only SIX years ago, there was no Facebook and MySpace was for teens and bands, and no one tweeted excepts birds… sigh.  Times they are a changin’.)  I of course found myself gravitating to my side of the aisle, and could feel my frustration rising with reminders of all the most famous vitriol that was spilled less than three months ago during the mid-term elections.  I did note however, that my new personal policy of staying out of it on Facebook was doing some good for my sanity.  About eight or so months ago, I began drastically reducing my own postings of news and editorials that I found important and also pretty well stopped commenting on others’ posts of news and editorials.  (Also hated that FB started reporting to all on what I was commenting on in the main feeds.)  I could see threads of people I know and love having fights and spewing ad hominem attacks on one another out of sheer frustration, often parroting the complete misinformation propagated by the main stream media and commentators but never actually having a conversation about ANYthing. It disgusted me.  And worse it shut me up right when we needed cool heads to talk about what to me should be a non-issue: health care for all of our citizens.

I tried to focus on using my power for good not evil, and stuck with promoting the Academy via my FB account, but  mostly through direct emails to my family and friends.   I was thrilled to be able to go to DC again and walk through the House and Senate office buildings and meet with Reps and Senators and staffers.  I felt blessed to have had this experience and to be representing such a worthwhile bill and knew that this work is exactly what the media, mainstream and social, was completely missing with its superheated rhetoric. Although I left DC in July on a high note, I had an ominous sense that the sludge of violent discontent was running just underneath our feet.  (Yeah, just like in “Ghostbusters 2” only we did not have those nifty zappers to blast and contain the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man of Doom we created.)

In late September, with the campaigns for the midterms at full tilt, The Daily Show announced the Rally To Restore Sanity which would be held the weekend before the elections.  My brother surprised me with plane tickets and a plan: we were going to the Capitol to get sane! The show pulled permits at the National Mall for 60 thousand people. Over TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND of us showed up and there was not one arrest.  The sheer number alone told me that a majority of Americans of vastly differing views are craving calm and rational discourse but no one is giving it to us, except comedians and musicians. I have written before about the healing power of art and music, but democracy also requires serious, rational, quantifiable debate and discussion which then leads to understanding, compromise and law.  And this is supposed to be led by the people we elect to represent our views NOT by highly paid commentators whose only skin in the game is their image, not their citizenship.

Honestly, I have pages of notes that I had written back in October, before the Rally and the elections, and intended on writing a post about it.  I was totally riled up, it was working on me too!  Something stopped me, and I think mostly it was the sense that no one would really listen because my frustrations, although loud and intense in my head, were not about taking a side. Everyone (on all sides) was in fact participating in the nuclear-option rhetoric.  I thought of Sarah Palin and her constant use of gun and attack imagery and taunting; I thought of Representative Alan Grayson calling Republicans “the Taliban”; I thought of Rush Limbaugh <insert racist/homophobic/sexist taunt here>; I thought of Joe Manchin, Governor of West Virginia, shooting the cap and trade bill in a campaign ad.  Gross.  All of it so disgusting and cynical and hurtful and ultimately consequential.  And I did not speak up, so I am now.

Civil discourse is critical.  Without it, we enable those among us who lack the self-control and who very well may be mentally ill or unstable to use extreme violence to make their point.  Murdering people with whom we disagree is catastrophic.  Murdering innocent people who happen to be in the way of the bullets is tragic, heartbreaking, and offensive to the human spirit.

Words matter.  Tone matters.  Respect matters.  American democracy is lost without it.  We must show our leaders how to do it as they have lost their way.

Overdone With No Run

It has been close to two weeks since the North Face Endurance Challenge half, and I have not run or written.  Boo.  And today, as a result, my attitude totally fucking sucks.  Yeah, no bleep on that one, that’s how pissy I am.

Besides the luxury problems that having so many to see, so much to eat and drink, and just so much to do create (namely some scheduling glitches and a lack of sleep), I have a real problem: I injured the hell out of my foot during the race.  Remember all those tossed off comments about not being really totally 100% prepared for this event?  Yeah, that was not fake modesty, I was undertrained.  However, like most amateur athletes, we run at race pace ANYway, and then wake up the next day unable to put weight on our left foot.  Ouch.  I have been limping since December 6th.

Since I am a generally healthy person, getting hurt or being sore or sick throws me out of whack in a way that I think others don’t experience.  I turn into a sensitive, distracted, pitiful mess.  The whining inside my head sounds like a daycare filled with fussy toddlers right before nap time.  I too am  mere milliseconds away from total tantrum meltdown, only it would be socially unacceptable for a grown woman to react this way to an actually quite manageable malady.  That I did to myself.  <Ahem>.

This brings me right back to the beginning of the problem that if I cannot run (due to self inflicted injury), then I write less, then I get all jammed up and systems start to shut down, and here I find myself falling off the cliff of oversleeping my alarms (yes, plural), forgetting to make or return calls/emails/txts/IMs, obsessing over shit I can’t control, not drinking enough water, eating way too much sugar, losing my ability to creatively solve problems (and my problems need energetic genius!), not to mention a diminished fashion sense which is also a self-fulfilling and downward spiral to Hagsville, and down and down I fall until I splat into a puff of smoke at the bottom of the canyon.  Here’s where I hold up the sign that says, “Okay, I get it.”

First, I need sleep.  Then, even though it is unaccounted for in my budget, I need to make another appointment with the A.R.T. therapist, because it is magic and I know, will indeed help my foot heal.  Then, more sleep, and then a really good conversation with my attorney (which is unrelated to the injury, ha).

And eventually, a run.  I am even willing to let it be a hike.  That would make me feel best of all.