Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hard to believe the last entry was Thanksgiving. There's been lots of blood, sweat, tears, achy muscles, long days and nights, deaths and saves, between then and now. Life has settled and I finally have a moment to just sit and write.

Two years ago today, I got the best surprise of my life. A scavenger hunt of note cards led me, finally, to a little box from the jeweler in the bread drawer and a proposal that I had no idea was coming. Now, here we are, all finally in the same house, trying to consolidate my stuff into his house and my lifestyle/routines into theirs. It's coming together better than I ever imagined. All of my ambivalence and worries about not having "my" time have disappeared.

I'm still reeling from the activity of the past couple months. It's been a blur of going from work to my house - to get it ready for the tenant, money draining at an alarming rate from my bank account and into a house that I am leaving, to trying to fit it gym visits and mini-workouts.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of death and grief this holiday season, tempered only by our squeaking a few small victories past the Reaper. It's what keeps us going. There was the family I cried with, who found their beloved husband and father deceased in bed. They went from screaming with denial and turning to me, faces twisted in grief, "Why didn't you even try to save my dad?" - to acceptance that he had gone peacefully in his sleep, pretty much all any of us could ask for. There was the 44 year old from the other night; I just found out yesterday that she had died. I wasn't surprised at that. I had gotten to know her a few months ago when she passed out at the wheel, coming to rest on a sidewalk with no idea how she'd gotten there. She'd been in the process of a divorce and had many stressors. Some of the things she told me, and her appearance, led me to believe she'd developed an eating disorder, and possibly some sort of pill addiction. Same situation the other night, she hadn't eaten or slept for days, she was lethargic, she was falling frequently and passing out. She had been diagnosed with electrolyte imbalances the last time we transported her - red flag for an eating disorder. She didn't look great, but she didn't look like she was going to die that night, either. I didn't remember until hours after I heard she had died, the face of her pre-teen boy as we carried her down the steps of his grandparents' house. I stopped before we left and asked him if he wanted to give her a kiss.

"Oh, he's already given me one", the patient mumbled, smiling. He gave her a gentle hug, tears in his eyes.
I'm glad we stopped for that.

Later that night, an sweet older lady, her family surrounding her, having one of the biggest heart attacks I've seen in a long time. She ended up being one of those fuck-yous to the Reaper.

I've been so tired that I scraped up a car in the parking lot beside me backing out too quickly - at least I don't have to worry about where the first month of rent I collect goes. Sigh. I feel as if I've finished a marathon and I'm waiting for the next event.

My gym routine has suffered, severely. It will continue to suffer until the dreaded first of the year, when I will have to fight the New Year's Resolvers for cardio machines. However, it's time to get back into my life, my routine. I'm craving it.

My best friend in the world is having a little boy! I am deleriously happy for her, since she wasn't sure she could conceive or carry a pregnancy to term. She's halfway through a very healthy pregnancy. Miracles do happen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I saw several herds/gaggles/gangs/mobs of turkey this morning on my drive to work. I wonder if they were going to Thanksgiving dinner?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sometimes you have to visit where you were...

... to see just how good it is where you are now.

We celebrated our Thanksgiving day yesterday since we're working through the holiday. Dinner with all the trimmings, mini-pies for dessert. I do my best to eat in a healthy way. I strive for foods that are minimally processed. I avoid flour and sugar. I don't eat pie. I don't eat mashed potatoes and gravy. Yams are microwaved with a little pat of butter, not baked in a syrupy brown sugar bath. A salad precedes every meal, and sometimes is the meal.

However, I'm not doing a Tofurkey Thanksgiving with mashed cauliflower subbing in for mashed potatoes. No. I bust my ass 90% of the time so that when it comes time for the 10%, I'm not going to have guilt. Fuck that - life's too short (insert favorite cliche saying here). Now, I haven't been perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I've caught myself justifying eating more than I need with the old, "I got up at 4:30 this morning to work out - don't I deserve this?"

However, yesterday showed me just how far I've come in the almost 2 years I've been working on my eating issues.

I used to look forward to that uncomfortably full feeling I had yesterday. Hell, I'd seek it out, make it happen. Eat to coma every time. Numb out. Fall asleep. Undo the top button - hell, don't even wear pants you have to button, what are you thinking? I had 1 1/2 helpings of dinner yesterday and could not take another bite, not if you held a gun to my head. In my old life, that would have just been the start. Easily, I've eaten 3 times as much in a sitting and then was ready to tackle dessert; but that is my past. Not because I have this incredible willpower and white-knuckled it though dinner and got dragged kicking and screaming from the table; because I just didn't want any more. Even with servings a fraction of what I used to consume, I actually over-ate pretty severely by my current standards and felt bloated, slow, achey and burpy all night.

It was a feeling that was oddly foreign yet at the same time familiar. I thought back to years past where it would hurt to sit or even lie down after Thanksgiving dinner. How pathetic is that - on the biggest eat-then-nap holiday of the year you're too uncomfortable from eating to get your nap on?

I don't know what has changed. I can't say for sure it won't ever be like that again. I live in absolute fear that The Sickness could catch up with me again one day. The only thing I can do is apply the antidote every day. Get up. Work out. Move. Assess hunger. Assess feelings. Work out.

Move. Every day, move.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Week In Review

*sigh*

Have you ever felt that - while things were stable and you were accomplishing the things you wanted to accomplish - that you were on the precipice of it all crumbling? That is how I feel. It's not really the upcoming holidays; I feel that I've worked very hard to overcome that holiday Buffet Pig-Out mentality and mastered the art of 90%.

It is the disruption of my routine. Believe it or not, the easiest days to get a workout accomplished are days when I work daylight, 8a-8p. I know that I need to get my ass out of bed at 4:30, and after that comes shower and work. Easy peasy. Not so easy on days off, with some tasks on my house still hanging over my head. With the painting of the entire house out of the way, the rest has become overwhelming. Really, I should feel as if I'm in the home stretch and when I was in the thick of painting hell, I was looking forward to this time. Now, however, I am confronted by my stuff. Stuff that needs to be moved. Stuff that I need other people to take away. Stuff I still need to throw out. Stuff I need to strip/sand/refinish, because I'm not paying someone $1200 to do so. Stuff I need to box up/donate. Stuff that needs to be dragged out to the curb on garbage day.

I wake up on my days off and think to myself, "How can I possibly go to the gym for an hour and a half with all of this crap hanging over my head?" Most days I go anyway and I know in my rational mind that it makes absolutely no difference in what I do or don't get done at the house. Sometimes I just do what I feel is the important stuff and cut cardio down to 15-20 minutes. I had stopped filling out my workout book on Sundays because my workouts were so muddled, trying to combine the new kettlebell strength moves I learned in physical therapy with the workouts I had planned, so that I never have to deal with that throbbing pain in my ass ever again. The fact that I stopped filling out my book frankly scares me, and I am making myself a promise that I will fill out the next 5 days tonight. Having a plan makes me feel safe; not having one makes me feel unstable and on a collision-course with disaster.

Last week:
Monday - first shift of a month of daylights. Ass out of bed at 4:30 and at gym by 5:30. *proud*
20 minutes cardio, squats/lunges modified with dumbbells from kettlebell workout (ouch - you can't hold a dumbbell over your sternal area the way you can a kettlebell - lesson learned), chest workout
Tuesday - Gym at 5:30. Struggled through my workout, sustaining severe respiratory damage from an inconsiderate crop-dusting. 30 minutes cardio, arm/tricep workout, abds. Tricep dips are the devil.
Wednesday - Day off. Gym at a leisurely pace. 30 minutes cardio. Modified leg workout, squats/lunges. I can feel my ass getting higher.
Thursday - Ever feel like crap, but you couldn't say or describe exactly specifically how you felt like crap? This was one of those days. I only completed 10 minutes of cardio, did my brief shoulder workout, skipped abs, went to my house, and accomplished absolutely NOTHING. I'm blaming the rainy, gloomy weather. That's right. I'm gonna Blame It On The Rain.
Friday - I didn't go to the gym. I wanted to get stuff done at the house. I got jack schit done.
Saturday - I took my new 25lb kettlebell to work with me and got 80 squats and 50 lunges done. It helped me feel better about Friday.

Plan. Plan. Plan.
Off to make a plan for next week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crop-Dusted

Dear Dude Working Out On Treadmill In Front Of Me:

It has been well over 20 years since someone farted so horribly in my presence that I nearly threw up (and that's saying a lot, I'm in healthcare). The last time was on a road trip, trapped in a Ford Tempo with my brother; 80mph down the highway, but I seriously considered the tuck n' roll, if only it would allow me to escape that thick, lingering odor.

Have you considered perhaps using a machine that doesn't place your ample ass almost directly in front of someone else's face? I mean, you had to know that Cloud of Doom was coming. I bet it burned coming out. Whatever you ate yesterday, it created this perfect storm of sickly sweet crappish odor that had an unreal hang time. My brother would be proud. I mean, if you were trying to actually invent a recipe to make someone gag, you really could not have done better.

I know that's not addressed in all of those Gym Etiquette articles you see in Men's Health, but maybe it should be.
  • Don't grunt loudly or bang your weights together
  • Don't drop weights on the floor
  • If you see people waiting, limit yourself to 20 minutes on cardio equipment
  • If you've overdone the fiber or something has actually gone and died in your rectum, please stay off the cardio machinery or become proficient at ass-kegels.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Overwhelmed

This blog is not dead, just temporarily neglected. My days have consisted of a blur of physical therapy appointments, gym workouts, and painting and remodeling my house for the tenant who is moving in mid-December.

I remember why I only paint once every 10 years: I hate it. I hate moving stuff. I hate covering stuff. I *VERY*hate cutting in.

However, my month of night shifts is drawing to a close and I'm hoping to be 95% done with everything I wanted to have done on the house by next week. I'll be done with physical therapy - which, by the way has gone fabulously. The physical therapist/torturer had me feeling 90% better the first 2 visits. I've been going 3 days a week for a month and I've done more squats and lunges in the past month than I had previously done in my lifetime. I do feel (and maybe, just a little, see?) a difference, though and these will remain a staple of my workouts at least 3 days a week.

So, without anything else meaningful to say at this time, please enjoy one of my favorite Nike ads. I always have my 120g ipod on shuffle while I drive, and when this song comes on, I want to stop the car in the middle of the road, just leave it there abandoned with the door hanging open, and do a triathalon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Confession time.

I'm seeing someone on the side. There's been this unanswered throb inside of me, calling out, unanswered, for release.

God bless him, my sweet fiance did his best to give me what I needed. I will always love him for that.

I even tried desperately on my own to satisfy my need for release. It ended, embarrassingly, with me on the floor, and feeling dirty.

I met him this morning. He promised me that he could ease my ache; he would use his hands, and sometimes heat and ice, to get the relief my body craved. He said there might be pain; I was intrigued. There was no mention of a safety word. He put my body into positions I never thought possible. At first, it was painful, but slowly, I began to enjoy it. The yearning throb was replaced with release. Relief. Even... pleasure.

We made arrangments to see each other tomorrow. My body just can't get enough. He said he's done 2 people at the same time before. Maybe tomorrow I'll bring Dan with me and he can learn some new moves.

After all, at our age, anyone with the aches and pains we have can benefit from a session with a good physical therapist.

(Get your minds out of the gutter. Sheesh.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week in Review

So the week in review's a day late. Big woop, wanna fight about it?

It was a decent week, in general. Despite getting up at 4:50am, I still can't seem to actually set foot on the gym floor until 6am. I refuse to get up earlier than that, so I need to become more efficient in the morning. (HA!) However, I don't have to worry about becoming more efficient for four! more! lovely! beautiful! awesome! titillating! (ok, not really that great) weeks! Yes, it's that time again: Night shifts for 4 weeks. Butterflies and hearts fill the air. Things get accomplished - bills paid, yards mowed, carpets cleaned, houses dusted. It's like having a full day to do what you want/need to do, in addition to your regular work day - as long as you don't care too much about sleep.

In an unexpected twist this past week, I suddenly have somebody who wants to rent my house for a year. I didn't even know I wanted to rent it out, that's how unexpected it was. So that's what'll be getting done this month on nights. Lining up plaster repair estimates. Painting. Fixing the porch floor. Moving stuff. Ugh. Moving.

So, as you can see, I should really get off my ass and do something rather than sit here blogging. Without further adieu:

Monday - chest/core + 30 minutes on the staircase. That staircase... not fast by any means, but it gets my heart rate up there and makes me pour sweat. Pretty disgusting, really. However, it burns more calories in 30 minutes than any cardio I can stand to do, besides running.
Tuesday - arms + 45 minutes on the staircase. What I remember most about this day was the odd feeling of every extremity being shaky and jello-like all day.
Wednesday - legs/core - I didn't have enough time for cardio this day. Boooo. However, my leg workout was extensive and my heart rate was up in target range for most of it.
Thursday - crapped out. Slept in til 6am. Feels weird to say sleeping in in reference to 6am.
Friday - combined Thursdays arm workout with Friday's back/core workout. I really felt that back workout the next 2 days - the difference? Much higher weight and using the nautilus machines. Only 13 minutes cardio on staircase. Felt like I've been fighting something off (little one has (probably) the flu) and I didn't want to push it.
Saturday - it's my weekend off! So, nutskin.
Sunday - walked 4 miles with the dog - and man, did she need it. We'll be getting out later today too.

Results? My weight is decreasing, but the numbers are fickle and frustrate me. Better to focus on the increased strength and endurance, and the fact that jeans that cut into my waist a few weeks ago fit very nicely now.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Cecil,

It's GYM, not Jim. Jesus, that's all I need is you starting nasty rumors with Jims living next door on both sides of us.

Furthermore, I'm off this weekend and starting night shifts Monday. I was planning a couple of nice long walks for us this weekend and lots more time together the next 4 weeks. So... chill! And quit pawjacking my blog.



Love,
Your feeder/walker/butt-scratcher

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jim.

Who is this... Jim?

Every morning, you wake up hours before everyone else muttering about going to Jim. I don't know who Jim is, but I strongly disapprove of this relationship.

See, when I see you getting up early and lacing up those running shoes, that always means that I'm going somewhere with you. The park, the trail, the lake.... maybe just a walk around the block. That's our time and this Jim guy is stepping on my toes. And I have a lot of toes.

So listen, Jim. I've been cool about this, and I haven't said anything about this to The Man. What does she tell him when she rolls out of bed at 4:50am? Does he know about you, Jim? I don't want to, you know, hold anything over your head... but what if someone were to, say, somehow clue him in to you? Maybe she'd be mad at me for a couple of days, like that time I chewed up her shoelaces, but I bet without you in the picture, Jim, we'd be going for more walks.

Be warned, Jim. I've spelled your name out in venison-sweet potato kibble on the living room carpet. It's only a matter of time before the jig is up and you're out of the picture, and I get My Person back.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A word about professionalism

An open letter to my public safety brothers and sisters:

Let me start off by saying that if you got into this for recognition and glory and media coverage, get out NOW. Your job is to protect the public, comfort and treat the sick and injured, and be ready to do it all again tomorrow. Without fanfare. Without a mention on the 11 o' clock news. Many times, without so much as a thank you. If you are in this line of work "to help people" (doesn't everyone say that in their job interview??), then you shouldn't be out there whoring for attention on Facebook or Twitter for just DOING YOUR DAMN JOB.

What is a professional?

A professional takes pride in their ability to perform their job, all aspects of it. If that involves having to hump 60lbs of equipment up the steps of a high rise because the elevators are out, and then carry the equipment and the patient back down, then so be it. A professional keeps their equipment (in this case, their body) in optimal working order so that it can perform under extreme duress. If you don't take care of your equipment, it will fail. Write up an equipment failure report on yourself (do an honest assessment of your physical condition) and get that equipment serviced (get off your ass and get some exercise, put down the pizza and the Stouffer's) so that it will work properly (and you don't have to file a workman's comp claim because you had to perform duties that you damn well know are in your job description).

A professional provides, above all else, comfort. If you do not provide comfort, those other "life-saving" "skills" - of which you're so damned proud - will mean squat to the person in need. Be truthful with yourself: How many lives do you really save per week anyway? Get over yourself. Does it bruise your ego to have to take 2 extra minutes to keep someone warm, or to respect their belongings and property by making every attempt to leave their residence exactly the way you found it (or better)? Do you mean to tell me that Grandma who couldn't pee will be so grateful that you saved her life that she won't notice you couldn't be bothered to wipe your boots before entering her house?

A professional is a team player and recognizes that they need to play nicely with not just their team, but any other team that enters our field. A professional also recognizes that if there truly is a problem that occurs during an incident, that there is a chain of command to follow to resolve that problem. Professionals resolve problems via the chain of command, not by posting snarky and attention-seeking comments in online venues.

A professional realizes that the image they project, even outside of work, reflects not only on them, but their employer and co-workers. A professional looks at the big picture and realizes it's not all about them. That no matter how much one thinks one is hurt or suffering or disrespected or not getting one's due, there is always another out there who is much worse off.

A professional is reflective and grateful that they are in a position to be allowed into others' lives to share what is often their worst day. A professional respects the trust that is inherent in each contact with the public and does not cheapen that trust by calling attention to themselves and their perceived slights and gripes.

So now do you think you're a professional?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week in Review

It's been a good week in life and in TWOM (the Work of Me). I've been getting to the gym at the ass-crack of dawn before work a minimum of 5 days a week and getting a good hour-plus in. Bonus: the commute from the gym to work is 100% less annoying than from either house from which I commute.

The wrap-up:
Monday - legs, no cardio. I just couldn't get it together that morning. It was, after all, a Monday. I count making it to the gym at 6am and eating a homemade turkey burger for dinner (instead of the fast food I craved). Major win, in my book.
Tuesday - chest, then 30 minutes staircase for cardio. I really felt that chest workout the next few days.
Wednesday - arms/core, then 30 minutes on the staircase. Dan helped push me through the arm workout, and wow, did I feel that one the rest of the week. Thursday - back, then 30 minutes on the recumbent bike (I was feeling lazy).
Friday - shoulders/core. Dan worked out with me this day, too. Fun to have a partner to work out with. Especially when you can kick his ass at wall sits. Then, staircase for 30 minutes. I could tell it was a great workout because I was disgustingly sweaty and my muscles twitched and shook all day.
The weekend - I've done absolutely nutskin. The gym is open *exactly* the hours I work on weekends, so not an option. It was crappy out yesterday morning, so no dog walk. This morning, I'm not sure what my excuse is. There may be a dog walk in the future, but after 12 hours of work, most likely my cardio will consist of walking up the steps to the house, and weight training, lifting a book off the shelf to read in the tub.

Back at it in the am before my OT shift tomorrow. Time to plan my workouts for the week.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anchor

I've found my Anchor.

For a while now, I'd resisted joining a gym. I have a nice treadmill. Dumbbells, exercise balls, and a weight workout all written out at whatever house I may be occupying.

However, soon after joining the gym, I realized that it was having one place to which I could go and get everything I needed that was going to cement my routine.

I get out of bed, swill some coffee down, change into workout clothes, brush my teeth, and I go. I don't have to worry about waking anyone up with my music or the pounding of the treadmill. I don't have to take the weather into account. It's always sunny in LA (Fitness). I don't need anything but a minimum of an hour and the desire to feel this energetic and strong every day. Oh. A good sports bra helps, too (I don't have one). And a sweet gym bag with its own hair dryer.

I have a new routine: Legs + core Monday. Chest Tuesday. Arms + core Wednesday. Back Thursday. Shoulders + core Friday. Each weight workout followed by as much cardio as I have time for. Weekends are for fun, but I must do something, even if it's just walking the dog around the block. This weekend I'm looking forward to swimming some laps at least once, maybe both days.

You know, the way I feel now, I don't think I'd care if I never lost another pound. Ok, that's a small lie. At some point it would piss me off to be working so hard with nothing to show for it. However, I know for a fact there are normal weight people around whom I can run circles and bench press without breaking a sweat - normal weight people who just don't feel as good as I do right now. I get up at 5am when I work daylights to make it to the gym before work. Sometimes this is after going to bed only 5 or 6 hours prior. Yet I get to work at 8am infused with energy. My mood? Ask my co-workers. We got slammed with 23 calls the other day. I was the biggest recipient of the slammage and every time another call came in, I'd just laugh because it was so ridiculous. I can't imagine how I'd have reacted if in hibernating, junk-food-eating slug mode. It wouldn't have been pretty, I imagine.

Who knew a gym membership would be so important?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Wednesday is a wordy one...

But, first, a happy picture. There's a dog in my house!

My house has found a new purpose: Doggy Day Care. When it's going to be a long work day, we bring the little girlie to my house for the day. It's in the area in which we work, so she's not stuck in the house for 14 hours without a break. It's really nice to come home and find a dog happily wagging her entire back end simply because I've shown up.

In other news, we've joined LA Fitness. Yes, *the* LA Fitness. It is a beautiful facility. The new aerobics room is bright, with mirrors on all walls and a new wood floor that springs back when you step on it. I will be honest, I really can't be in that room without seeing, in my mind, spent bullets on the floor. I think it's because I've seen large amounts of blood, and I've seen people die in ways they shouldn't have, and I've dealt with mass chaos all before - but never have I seen handfuls of spent bullets on a shiny wood floor. To this day, that is the image that sticks with me. Weird.

I got the free workout-slash-sales pitch from the personal trainer Monday. I will admit, it was a shorter and more effective workout than what I have been doing. However, the cost of working out with a trainer 5 days a week equaled my mortgage payment, so I will continue to do things the uninformed rube way. I did decide to work on a body part per day so that I am doing something different Monday-Friday.

Something the trainer pointed out, that I kinda/sorta knew in the back of my mind, was that I wasn't getting enough protein every day. This wasn't news to me. I've been tired and bonking every day at 3pm. So, off to GNC I go. The whey protein shakes I got are pretty decent and can mix with water. I have noticed a difference in my hunger and energy levels when using them the past couple of days.

I am still out of sorts as far as my routine. Every time I leave to go somewhere, anywhere, I feel like I am packing for vacation. I always have a bag of clothes with me. Gym clothes. Change of clothes. Uniform. I have duplicates of things I really need at my house and Dan's. Hair spray. Kashi bars. Deodorant. Muir Glen organic soups. Hair Dryer. I have THREE FUCKING HAIR DRYERS. Nobody who's not a hair stylist should have to own three hair dryers. However, in order to cut down on the toting around and packing of bags, I have one at my house, I have one at Dan's house, and I have one that now lives in the gym bag.

The gym bag. Simple concept. Stuff you use at the gym and after. You think it's simple. Until you have to go from a place where most of your belongings don't live, to the gym, and then to work for 12 hours. You realize that yes, you may have a sample-size body wash, but nothing with which to dry off. Or to floof your hair. Or to deodorize your sweaty bod. Or to paint one's face. Oh, to be a guy and need so little. To pee outside and laugh at your farts. But, alas, my plumbing and pysche dictate that I smell good and feel clean and my hair is floofed when I face the world. I got up at 5am. My timeline in my mind had me at Wal-Mart buying necessities for a stocked gym bag until 5:40, then working out from 5:50-7am, then showering and heading to work. The gym bag stocking mission ran until almost 6:30 (I should have known the shampoo aisle alone takes me 20 minutes, what with all the opening and smelling of scents), and there was no gym trip that day.

However, now there is a fully-stocked and dedicated gym bag, in which resides everything I need to transition from gym to work, or even a week's trip if I have access to laundry facilities.

It's the little things.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That beautiful woman in the right hand column of this blog...

... She would have turned 71 years old today.

There is an inexplicable ache that hits me, every year since I was 13 years old, on September 23rd, and on April 23rd. Then I see the calendar, and the understanding hits me. These are the day my mother was born in 1938, and the day she died in 1984.

I know she is still with me, but I miss her.

This house is not a home.

I'm in a transition period right now. Still in my house part of the time, but spending more and more time at his; it will be my home, too, when we can get it together to make room for me and my stuff. That will be weeks of work. Everything and everyone I love in my life now is there. The only piece missing from that puzzle right now is me.

Missing is a good word to describe my general demeanor now. There is a huge void that is evident every time I unlock the door to my house, tiptoe to the bedroom, and find an empty dog bed on the bedroom floor where there was once a snoring German Shepherd. Missing is the routine she and I had gotten into. Hanging out together in that bedroom in the mornings, her rolling and yapping and demanding food, me getting a workout in before the day started. Six days a week, mostly without fail. Missing is my brain for the past month. Distracted, scattered. I have lists. I misplace lists. Tasks are forgotten. I am in such a hurry every day to get out of this empty shell that used to be a home, that I can't remember what it is I wanted to accomplish when I do go. My focus is missing.

At his house, too, I am aimless. Still seems like I am just hanging out at someone else's place on my days off like I always did; like I should be somewhere else, or doing something else. There is always that pull - I need to go home to _________ . But the truth is, I only need to go there to grab a change of clothes occasionally. There is no one to take care of here now. I am trying to create a routine at his house, but it's difficult; I'm not used to accommodating other peoples' schedules and needs. In other words, it's not home yet. It definitely feels more that way than it ever did, and more than my empty, dogless, soulless house does - but it's just not going to happen until I am there 24/7.

I gave myself a good 7 days to be a slug. Now, I am obligating myself again to break a sweat for 6 of 7 days and to be moving in some fashion every day of the week. I haven't been able to run on the treadmill since she's been gone. Not the one in my bedroom, anyway. I just can't/don't spend that much time there. It's painful. I've taken to walking the Little Girlie on the 4-mile out and back loop in the park when at his place, and doing a 3.5 mile walk at a fast clip, on a route I call Hill Of Death when I'm at my place. I've got weights and a workout ball at both houses now, so I can do the Body Fat Solution weights workout every day, no matter where I am.

There's a gym membership in the works so that no matter where I am, I have that as an anchor. It's a start, anyway.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

She is gone.


She came into my life in November of 2001, by a twist of fate. I had just closed on my house and Gunner and I had moved in just weeks before. I happened to be on a call with one of our local cops who mentioned in passing he was trying to re-home his 6 year old German Shepherd, because he had to move from a house to an apartment. He was heartbroken.


What if I had not been on that call with that cop on that day? Would our paths have ever crossed? I don't even like to think about that possibility. I went to his place after work one day to meet her. I even dragged my best friend, a vet, with me. It gave the pretense of impartiality, but everyone knew when I got out of my car and 85lbs of black and tan charged at me barking, that we would belong to each other. I knelt on the brick road and she stopped mid-charge; all the wind went out of her sails.

"You're not scared, huh? Hmpf."

Thus began one of the most tumultuous yet most rewarding relationships of my life. First, there were the fights with Gunner. Not snapping at each other or barking. Fights that were frightening to watch and sickening to hear. Fights from which my arms and hands will always bear scars, because no matter how dumb it is to try and separate 175lbs of intertwined teeth, fur, claws, and spit, I intervened every time, occasionally sustaining the inevitable collateral damage. I learned a lot about dog behavior from those two. With careful management, the scary fights would dwindle down to once or twice a year.

Our first Christmas, I came home to find lamps overturned and a my cat, Molson, dead on the living room floor. Not mauled, but it appeared as if he couldn't play quite as hard as she thought he could. I remember asking her, "Just what the fuck am I going to do with you?" She just looked at me lovingly with those brown eyes.

After the first couple of rough transition days, she had decided that I was hers, and her eyes would follow me if I moved around the room. If I left the room, she'd be right behind me, most times actually running right into me if I should stop too quickly, she was so close. After a couple of weeks together, we met up with her old owner at the park where my dogs liked to run. He pointed out that no matter where I went, she kept an eye on me. He was both heartened and saddened that she had bonded so quickly and strongly to me.

As time went on and we learned each others' ways, I found that was a common theme: She kept an eye on us. Whomever she deemed hers, she watched over. At the park, Gunner would take off, oblivious, following his nose wherever it led. I didn't have to keep an eye on him because she did. "Where's Gunner? Go find Gunner!", and she was off. She'd charge up to him, stop just short, and touch him with her nose; she'd then look at me as if to say, "See? Found him. He's right here." Then she'd run back to me with her tail tall and proud. If I was the one who left the area, I would see her eyes following me. If I got too far away, she'd run to me, circling widely around me, finally approaching from the side with the trademark nose bump, "Found ya."

A year after she came into my life, I almost lost her. During a week of lots of tears and very little sleep, we finally arrived at a diagnosis: Addison's Disease. It nearly killed her before she was diagnosed; that's the way Addison's is. I remember telling her, as she lay on my bed with fluid slowly dripping into the IV on her foreleg, "I'm going to take care of you, and you're going to be ok." She stared blankly at me. I think I was saying it mostly to comfort myself. She did get better, slowly, and her condition became just another thing we managed.

Things like chewies and toys were not possible in our house. They just weren't worth the trouble and the fights they would cause. Once I actually had time to monitor them with rawhides, so they each got their own to chew. As usual, she couldn't mind her own business, and got reprimanded several times. Resigned, she sighed and went to her side of the room to work on her chewie. Moments later, her head popped up as if she heard something. She rushed upstairs in three bounds, barking as if she were singlehandedly holding off a home invasion. Gunner ran upstairs to join her, barking and growling - at what, he didn't know, but damned if he was going to be left out. Once he arrived at the door, she quietly slipped back downstairs, inhaled Gunner's chewie, then lay on the floor and finished her own. I swear, she was smirking.

The pet sitter told me she sat by the back door looking for Gunner for 3 days after he died in December of 2007. She always kept an eye on us.

She had both rear cruciates repaired, thanks to an angel of a vet who did the surgeries at cost. She slept as close to my bed as she could, on her egg-crate orthopedic doggy bed. No matter how many times I was up and down my steep stairs doing laundry, she'd follow. Sometimes I'd be up and down them again and see that halfway down, she'd stopped to sit and rest. Sadly, I recognized that though she still defied her age, she wasn't young any more.

We celebrated her 14th birthday with cake and candles. It was a day made for celebrating. The nation, with a little help from me, had just elected its first black President. She was a little slower, a little more bony. You could hear the snap-crackle-pop of her hips as she hauled herself up off of the floor. Yet, every morning, I was greeted with her rolling on the bedroom floor, kicking her legs up in the air, yapping joyfully. This was my cue that it was time for breakfast.

At the end of August, when she wouldn't eat, not even cooked eggs, not even chicken and rice - I knew something was wrong. It turned out to be an easily treated infection from which she appeared to recover very quickly. Then, suddenly, not even a week after making a great recovery, she was down again. She couldn't get up; wouldn't eat or drink. Later in the day, it became apparent she was suffering from vestibular disease. After a home visit and a pep-talk from the vet, I felt confident that this, too, we could ride out together.

It was supposed to last a few days, at most. Seven days passed and she had not eaten and had not even attempted to get up. I'd return from work and find her in the same position on her beloved orthopedic bed that I'd left her in over 12 hours prior. She would take a little water, but would turn her face away from anything else: chicken broth, chicken, rice, eggs, even hamburgers. She had no weight to spare, and she became skeletal over that last week.

I took her to the vet's office on Thursday. It was becoming painfully obvious that she wasn't happy. Even as we carried her to the car on a blanket, like a queen being carried through the village by her servants, she looked up only briefly, then put her head back down. She couldn't get comfortable. We ran bloodwork, though I didn't know what I would do with any questions raised by the results. I was becoming more and more certain that no procedure or medication or treatment would take her back to the way she was 7 days ago, when she was following the Dish installer around and giving him hell. That was the last time I saw the real Tara. The bloodwork came back totally normal. It confirmed what I already knew; there was no easy fix. She didn't flinch when they drew blood, or when they started the IV that would ultimately give her the peace she had earned.

I sat on the floor with her, her head cradled in my lap. I told her what a good girl she was, as if she didn't know that already. I told her how much I loved her and that Cecil was going to have some pretty big pawprints to fill. I told her that every dog I was ever going to have for the rest of my life would be compared to her. I told her for the second time in our lives together that I loved her, and that I was going to take care of her.

As she slipped away, I whispered to her, for the last time: "Go find Gunner! Good girl..."

Tara Jean II

November 4, 1994 - September 10, 2009

“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.”








Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What made me start running again? (and other burning questions)

  1. This song. I downloaded this for my workout playlist and I just couldn't keep myself at a walk with this blaring through my speakers. Seriously, try it. Perfect cadence.
  2. Laziness. "But, how can laziness make you start running again?", you ask. Simple. I am too lazy to block out/plan for an entire hour of exercise on most days. If I run and do a weights workout I can be done in 40 minutes and have sweated enough to feel like I pushed myself. (That's not to say that is what I do every day; I do crap out sometimes and just do a hill climb workout. I like to try and bargain with myself that if I don't run, that my cardio workout should burn as many calories, so I usually end up with a workout of longer duration.)
  3. I honestly don't know what the impetus was that pushed me in this direction, or how long it will last. Whatever it is, I'm thankful for it. I will say that if I can get my workout clothes on and get myself to the treadmill, chances are I will break out of a walk for at least a short time, but usually it lasts for about 20 minutes.

I discovered this website while searching for new workout playlists. So far, I haven't found anything else besides #1 that I like enough to buy/download, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Week In Review

Another rough week, schedule-wise and life-wise. Ol' Biddy, aka Tara, made a full recovery from Much Ado About A ButtThing; I knew she had recovered when I came home to a guilty-looking dog and a half-eaten butternut squash that had been pilfered from the pantry. I snapped a picture with my phone and sent it on to Dr. Kate, my best friend and her regular vet, and got the reply, "Yep! All better!"

Ol' Biddy has had a setback again and is dealing stoically with a bout of vestibular disease. It's so hard to tell when she can't get up and walk, or won't eat or drink for two days, whether her Addison's Disease is trying to kill her, or if it is - like today's bout - a pretty benign and self-resolving thing. She had a down day yesterday, refusing to eat even cooked eggs. I checked on her this morning, in the 15 minutes I had between work and my IPMBA class, and my breath caught in my throat. For a full 10 seconds I watched her; then, the shallowest of breath. She tried to get up, splaying her legs out to try and balance, and gave up. She had a dull, resigned look in her eyes that broke my heart.

Long story short, when I came home from 8 excruciating hours in class, worrying about her, she had the classic signs: a head-tilt and nystagmus. The kind and generous owner of the veterinary practice took the time out of his holiday weekend to make a house call and confirm the diagnosis, help administer subcutaneous fluids, and chart a course of treatment. You really just don't see doctors like that any more, and Tara is lucky to know two of them.

It's actually comical now to see her look at you, head tilted to one side, right eyebrow rhythmically jerking up and down; to me it looks like she is hanging on every word you're saying. Continually, "Hmmm, dear? Hmmm, dear? Hmmmm, dear?" repeating her movements like a dancing .gif image.

So, with yet another stressful week behind me, here's the tally:

Last Sunday - ended up walking the young pup in a leisurely fashion
Monday - I did nothing, because I worked a 20 hour shift and frankly, just didn't feel like doing any more.
Tuesday - I road-ran!!!! Holy shit!! C25K W5D1 on the road. It wasn't bad, but I do remember thinking "IhatethisIhatethisIhatethis" while I was in the thick of it. Probably not great for something I want to keep doing for exercise. Road running is still an option, just not my fave.
Wednesday - I decided I needed to get a full cardio/weights workout in, but in a minimal amount of time. This led to a 20 minute run on the treadmill at 5.5mph, then Body Fat Solution Workout A.
Thursday - I was extremely sore after Wednesday's ambitious leg-heavy orgy of running, squatting and lunging, and I got my ass handed to me at work overnight Wednesday. Just for fun, I was also getting my Dish installed any time between noon-5pm. I can't nap for an hour when the sleep I am missing can be counted in days and not hours, so I did what any reasonable person who is walking-into-walls tired would do: I cleaned. Up on chairs dusting ceiling fans and corners. Down on floors scrubbing. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Vacuum the carpets. Steam clean the carpets. Cleaning for 8 hours when I could hardly walk straight? I'm callin' it exercise.
Friday - I liked the compact workout so much I did it again. Ran 20 on treadmill at 5.3mph (feeling lazy), and Body Fat Solution Workout B.
Saturday - biked half the day in IPMBA course. Slow-speed riding is difficult. Hanging at home with the Ol' Biddy after class, so I banged out a Body Fat Solution Workout A while half-watching the House marathon.
Today - more IPMBA! More riding! If I can knock out a Body Fat Solutions Workout B after class, that's plenty for me to call it a day.

Looking ahead:
I'd like to do the cardio/weight combo 6 days a week. I just need to back off on the running if I start to dread it and sub in a hill-climb workout like I did in the past. I am starting to feel weird if I don't get my workout in; nagging thoughts nip at the edges of my subconscious all day, until I make the time and get it done.

This is a good thing.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The TV Drought at My House Has Ended...

And man, it's raining Dish! Hallelujah, it's raining Dish.

Honestly, I think my love affair with tv has ended. I knew last winter we were bad for each other. We'd sit there together, not even speaking or moving a muscle. I felt like I could outgrow the toxic relationship if I could only get away for a little while, but the draw, the attraction... oh, it was so strong.

In a moment of PMS-laden insanity, I broke up with tv. Much like a breakup, there was the sad picking-up-of-belongings scene, and the one last flailing attempt to resurrect a relationship that both parties know is dead: "Are you sure you don't want to just downgrade to basic so you don't have fees when you want to re-install?" The look on my face, however, confirms. It is over.

It was the best summer ever. I may have cheated a little, DVRing Hell's Kitchen at my fiance's and catching up every couple of weeks; but the relationship, it doesn't feel so ... dirty, for lack of a better word, now. I kayaked. I (holy shit!) cleaned. I folded laundry (as opposed to plucking it, piece by piece out of the dryer, until the dryer is empty and the cycle starts over). I walked the dog. I went to the farmer's market. I painted and constructed and ran. I caught up on movies, renting a Red Box when the occasional urge hit. I worked out. I. Worked. Out.

Before, tv, much like a lot of my eating habits, was something I liked to do alone. I just couldn't enjoy either with someone else around. It was like having a threesome pushed on you that you just didn't feel comfortable with in the first place. Now, sorry tv, you're the odd one out. When it's time to watch those DVR'ed shows, we're watching them together as a family, curled up on the couch, some night there is nothing better to do. Yep. You've become our Boredom Booty Call. We could take you or leave you, but we're sure as hell not going to introduce you to our friends or invite you to any of our parties.

Even with my new embarrassment of riches of channels and DVR options, I can't seem to muster the gumption to watch a single show in its entirety, unless it is providing background noise for a workout. This is stark contrast to last winter, during which I would aimlessly watch stuff I didn't even want to watch, just so that I could put off doing those annoying life tasks: You know - working out, seeing the sun, spending time with my loved ones.

Maybe it's too early to say for sure, but I think maybe now I have tv. Tv doesn't have me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Paramedical Mythology

Every career out there has its myths. Stay-at-home moms eat bon-bons and watch Oprah reruns all day. Doctors are filthy rich and roll around naked in their millions at any given opportunity (sometimes if the light is right and you look real hard you can see the occasional $100 bill still sticking out of the Doc's scrub pants from the latest romp). Who hasn't heard of the hooker with a heart of gold or pictured a middle-aged and obese white guy with glasses, when conjuring up the image of a banker? Isn't it possible that the hooker, in reality, is kind of a bitch? Or, that the banker is a grandmotherly-looking lady who lives with her similarly grandmotherly-looking (but not legit in the eyes of some - tsk, tsk) wife of 25 years?

So many myths about my profession abound. Some of them are perpetuated by the unknowing public, and some of them we actually perpetuate, otherwise - let's face it - you'd think we're assholes.

The public thinks:
  • If you use an ambulance to go to the hospital, no matter how minor your illness or injury, you'll "get in faster".

What is really the case:

  • You and your toothache/finger laceration/ear infection may, indeed, proceed past the waiting room and back to the treatment area (where you will sit and wait until everything more serious than your toothache/finger laceration/ear infection is triaged, treated and discharged). What is more serious than a toothache/finger laceration/ear infection? Most everything. Oh, and we've been diverted to the waiting room before with patients on stretchers. Exit stretcher, sit in chair. Have a nice stay. Hope you brought a book.

The public thinks:

  • "I got to the ER two hours before the person in room ____. Why are they being seen first?"

What is really the case:

  • See #1. This is not Hell's Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay is not going to stomp into the ER and berate the overworked staff for treating the 6 chest pains, 2 asthma attacks, 3 seizures, countless hip fractures, and that one really bad head bleed - before treating you.

The public thinks:

  • At least 50% of people who need CPR wake up in the middle of it being performed, hug and thank their rescuers profusely, and then go whip up some tollhouse cookies and a pot of coffee to show their gratitude.

What is really the case:

  • If you're to the point where you need CPR (do I have to say it?), over 90% of the time, you're screwed. CPR is not a magical thing that brings back the essence and soul and smile and sense of humor of that person you knew. That person no longer resides in that grayish, slack-mouthed and vacant body. If I could bring that person back to you, and they would be the same pervy old uncle, cheek-pinching grandma, or gossipy mother-in-law, don't you think I would?

The public thinks:

  • "I should pack a bag while I'm waiting for the ambulance."

What is really the case:

  • "Samsonite-Positive" sign is only appropriate if there is another human being inside the patient's body who is furiously and painfully trying to exit. Otherwise, if you have the time and energy to pack a suitcase, (say it with me, everyone!) you don't need the ambulance.

What I tell you:

  • "I've seen worse."

What is really the case:

  • If I am referring to your illness or injury, it's 99% true. The other 1% of the time I'm just reassuring you because you're scared and I'm confident. If I'm referring to the state of the inside of your house, I'm lying about 50% of the time. I'm not talking general clutter. I'm talking about having to avoid piles of dog shit inside a person's house. I'm talking about unidentifiable foul odors, clinging to my uniform, hair, and inexplicably, my skin. I'm no neat freak; however, I don't like to feel like I need a bleach sponge-bath when I've been in your house, either. If it's bad, yes, we will talk amongst ourselves about it. Chances are, the other crews have been there, too. "Yeah!!! The house with the 3 inch layer of cat hair on the carpets! I've been there!"

What I tell you:

  • "No, I don't have a band-aid."
  • "No, I don't have an ice-pack."
  • "No, I don't have an ace bandage."

What is really the case:

  • Yes, the state requires us to have band-aids on the units. No, I'm not giving you one. If you need a band-aid, you don't need an ambulance.
  • I don't have ice, per se. I have chemical cold packs. They're not cheap to replace, and if they leak, the chemical inside is a nasty skin irritant. I like to save those for the occasional hyperthermic patient, anyway. There are only 4 on the truck, and I'm not wasting one on the bump on your shin. Frozen peas work great. Go get a bag.
  • I really don't have an ace bandage. Go pilfer them from the hospital like I do.

What I tell you:

  • "Don't worry. You're smaller than our average patient.", when a patient frets over the medics having to maneuver, lift, carry, and otherwise convey them from point A to point B.

What is really the case:

  • I am being sincere here. The latest, greatest model of our stretchers has a 700lb weight limit. There is a reason for that; our patients are getting bigger every year. If I tell you you're smaller than the average patient, it's not a cue to quit working out and really get serious about that all-McDonalds diet. It just means that someone else is throwing off the curve for you.

What I tell you:

  • "Nahhhh. That's an old wives tale about wearing clean underwear in case you go to the hospital."
  • "Parts is parts."
  • "I hope you don't love this jacket/that sweater/those jeans too much..."

What I really mean:

  • If you're wearing something weird, like a banana hammock, we'll notice. If you are of an age where you're expected to be able to competently wipe your ass, we'll notice the skid marks on your undies too. We'll talk amongst ourselves, and the ER staff. There will be snickering. If you're intoxicated, we probably won't leave the room to snicker.
  • I tell you this when I am seeing you naked, or half-naked. But, yeah, I notice. Compare. I most often notice nice things, however. The patient that sticks out most in my mind is a woman in her 60s who wrecked her bicycle while riding downhill, careening into a tree and smashing her head so hard that her helmet cracked down the middle - she ended up with a concussion and some broken ribs. The thing I noticed when I had to expose her to check for injuries was that from the neck down, her body was that of an aerobics instructor in her 20s. Her face didn't betray her age either. She inspired me to get my ass out on my bike again.
  • "... 'cause I'm cutting it off."

What I tell you:

  • while nodding toward the patient, "I'm going to talk to him/her first, thanks."

What I mean:

  • "Shut up and stop talking over my patient every time I ask them a question."

What I tell you:

  • ... when you ask if I like my job: "Yes, I really do. I can't imagine doing anything else for a living."

What is really the case:

  • I mean it.









Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Today's Theme - Exuberance

Photo by: Dan Miller Photography



Sunday, August 30, 2009

Week In Review

It's been a tough week. Actually, the whole month of August has, for the most part, blown hairy goats. This just underscores the fact that what I'm doing has to be built into my lifestyle. Not something I can stick up on a shelf when times get tough, and take it back down and use it 6 months down the road and 30lbs heavier. The Work of ME (TWoMTM)has to get done, more often than not, regardless of what else is going on. There will be stress. Monkey wrenches will be thrown into best-laid plans, always. Butts will figuratively get wiped with the most carefully scribed schedules.

Some examples this past week:
  • The Ol' Biddy got sick. Honestly, the first day, I thought to myself, "This is it. She's got a rectal mass or something and we don't have much time." Turns out it was Much Ado About a ButtThing, and she had an anal gland infection. Still, no small infection. She was febrile and lethargic from it, and with her Addison's Disease, any sort of stress can set off a metabolic/hormonal cascade that can kill her in half a days' time. She's still not 100% right. We had a bad day yesterday, in which she puked and staggered and at times was too weak to get up; and in which I cleaned up puke and pee six times and mentally racked up vet bills and the cost of recarpeting the house. Her vet thinks the Cipro is making her sick, so she's off it now. She's still not eating right, but she's not weak and staggering or puking either. So hard to tell with her Addison's, if she's not eating because she's on the verge of an Addisonian Crisis or if she just would rather have the chicken and rice she's had all last week - rather than scrambled eggs - on her dog food. Workout schedule got a little messed up with vet visits and playing doggie medic.
  • We took a day and went to an amusement park. Multiple food and workout-related monkey wrenches involved in that endeavor.
  • Work. Double shifts. It's hard to convince yourself to work out before a 22 hour shift, but it's even harder to convince yourself to do it after. Add to that piss-poor sleep habits and you've got excuses just waiting to happen.
  • I am starting to rebel against the C25K workouts; instead of just getting up and doing it, I am again starting to find ways to procrastinate it away. This all started with the thought of running outdoors because my treadmill display wasn't working properly. Today, I actually feel like doing a C25K workout again. Below, I'll tell you why I think that is.

The quick and dirty lowdown: Planned = 6 workouts. Done = 6 workouts. Did I do the exact workouts I had planned to do, on the days for which I had them planned? No. Does that matter to me? No. Having said that, though, my goal is to do something every day, so cramming a few workouts into one day because I had to skip 3 other times isn't going to be a regular habit.

Monday - I doubled out Monday, starting at 10am after getting home at 3am (trying to make the most of my days off, ya know!) Didn't work out. Had planned to do C25K W4D1 again. Dog was looking ill that morning. Was almost late to work because I had to make her scrambled eggs, hand feed her, and practically carry her up the steps. That was the closest thing to a workout that happened that day.

Tuesday - Body Fat Solution Workout A. I was hanging out with the Biddy all day, but I still didn't feel the running mojo. So, I plugged in one of the 30 minute hill climb workouts into the treadmill and did that instead. This, I am proud of. In the past, if I didn't feel like running for 45 minutes until I was a sweaty ball of jello legs, I'd just not do anything at all. And you know what? The grossly inaccurate calorie burn readout on the treadmill said I burned basically the same amount of calories as I did on a typical C25K workout. So there.

Wednesday - Dog's been on antibiotics for a day. Looks better. Hungry. Acting like herself, for the most part. C25K W4D1 done. Then jetskiing. Later, we injected antibiotics and steriods into my dog's infected anal sac. Who says I don't still know how to party?

Thursday - Amusement park day. I was up late the night before, and up early on this day. I didn't do a formal workout, however, I got the Little Girlie Pup out for a nice 30 minute walk before we left, and we walked the amusement park for a good 8 hours. We won't talk about what I ate, though as compared to amusement park visits of the past, it was practically nothing, quantity-wise.

Friday - Still found myself feeling very much like a rebellious child when faced with "the schedule says today is C25K." So, I had a conversation with that rebellious child. I told her it was ok not to do that scheduled workout, but there had to be a substitute of greater or equal calorie burn. So, 40 minute hill climb treadmill workout, it was. I'm ok with that and proud of myself for again choosing the good over the perfect.

Saturday - Dog is sick as, well, a dog. Pukes constantly. Pees herself. I clean up and worry. Clean up and worry. Lather, rinse, repeat x6. Had planned to take Little Girlie Pup to the lake, but... Monkey Wrench. The Ol' Biddy and I hung out together on a blanket on the floor watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (If you have insomnia, this is the cure! Still, not a bad movie...) When the pukies were over and the Biddy napped, I made up Body Fat Solution workouts A&B from earlier in the week and did a 40 minute hill climb workout on the treadmill. (Yes, it's that long of a movie. Exactly six dog pukes, six carpet cleanings, forty minutes plus two superset workouts long.) What I don't do: I don't stress eat. I don't use what's going on as an excuse to not work out. That's a win.

Sunday - I don't know what's up for today yet. I have an inkling of wanting to do another C25K workout and put W4 behind me for good. I should get up and do that before my inkling turns into a nahfuckit. If nothing else, though, I'm getting the Little Girlie Pup out to the lake. She's taken being on the back burner this week very graciously, but she really needs to burn off some energy. And I could use some sun exposure.

So, for this week: Perfect took a backseat to Good and nobody died as a result. Stay tuned next week, when Perfect beats Good up in an alley and steals her shoes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dear Ol' Biddy...

... I'm so glad you're feeling better. I wasn't ready for this to be it.

Love,

The Food Bringer and Butt Scratcher

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My old friend,

we've known each other for 8 years now. Quite a tough adjustment when you first came into my life; two strong personalities clashed, and many were the times I agonized and wondered if we were right for each other. As time went on, and we learned each other's ways, I grew to wish that I'd known you all of your life. You're fiercely loyal, you love without pretense or judgement or shame, and you would lay down your life for me. I think you know that I would do the same for you.

We've suffered the lean times together and we've grieved together, but we've had many more good times than bad. We've had walks in the park, and walks in the woods. When those weren't enough, you'd open the door while I was at work, and you'd let yourself and Gunner out to take a walk on your own. The phone call would come, from the police or the neighbors. I'd drop everything and search frantically for you, and find you trotting casually down the double yellow line of a busy road, not a care in the world: "Oh, hi. Just out for a walk. What the heck are all these cars doing behind me?"

You earned your reputation as a canine garbage can, performing (what I can only imagine were) acrobatic feats to move food from shelves and counters, and yes - even the closed refrigerator -into your bottomless pit of a gut. There were times that I couldn't even muster up the gumption to get pissed off, because it was just so... funny. Food wrappers strewn everywhere, refrigerator door still hanging open, emptied of all but lettuce, and one guilty looking pair of brown eyes staring up at me as if to say: "I know. You're mad. But it was sooooo worth it! p.s. Can you let me out now? My tummy feels a little weird."

We've held on through Addison's Disease, which almost killed you, and two cruciate repair surgeries. Now we're fighting a much bigger battle: time. I am picking up on signs that something isn't quite right; your hindquarters are damp because you're licking and worrying on that area all the time. You seem to be enjoying your naps a lot more frequently than before, and when have I ever had to coax you to eat? All subtle signs that maybe someone else wouldn't notice; but, my friend, we've been together too long for me not to notice.

Know this: I'm with you. I'm with you to the end. As long as you show me an inkling of happiness, every day is going to be yours to grab by the cojones and hang on as only you know how. You're going to eat eggs and chicken and ground beef and rice. We're going to play Tennis Ball and we're going to snuggle on the floor together. We're going to sit in the sun together. When all of that doesn't seem to make you happy any more, or the bad days greatly outnumber the good, we'll talk some more, and you'll tell me what you want me to do. Until then, the day is ours.
Love you, Ol' Biddy.



Monday, August 24, 2009

Dear Employer,



Apparently, we've got to go back to the ol' drawing board with the uniforms. In the past 2 weeks, I've been mistaken as:

1: A Shop N' Save employee

2: A Sunoco convenience store employee

3: A Wal-Mart employee

4: A cop

The only company I haven't been mistaken for representing is FedEx, which I find ironic, given how much our uniforms resemble theirs. I draw the line when someone asks me whether they need to pay at the pump or pay inside.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week In Review

Not my finest hour. Or series of hours.

Monday - C25K W4D1. Completed it just fine, but treadmill display is acting up.

Tuesday - Body Fat Solution Workout B

Wednesday - Slept in, then worked. Didn't do anything when I came home from work.

Thursday - Body Fat Solution Workout A

Friday - Slept in, worked 14 hours. Not motivated to work out at 10pm. Imagine that.

Saturday - I have no excuse for not working out today. Leisurely walk in the park with dog and fam.

Sunday - Again. No excuse.

So, as you can see, this wasn't the best of weeks. I had it firm in my mind if I decided to slack the entire weekend, that Monday it would be back to my regular schedule, no excuses allowed - I used them all up this week!

Tomorrow (always tomorrow, isn't it?) it's back to regularly scheduled workouts. Guess I will re-do C25K W4 since I only got one workout in. Definitely noticing that when I *don't* work out on schedule, aches and pains and fatigue creep back in quickly.

Monday. Bring it on! HOO-rah!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Resist.

A (crappy cell-phone) photo essay of all of the temptation facing us every day. This was just part of my shift yesterday. For me, this is akin to someone yelling, "NORM!!!!" at an alcoholic and buying them a round of shots on every street corner.















































Friday, August 21, 2009

Holding it together. Trying, anyway.



This hasn't been the best week, exercise-wise. The display on my treadmill is taking a crap halfway through my workouts, which has made regulating my pace an annoying guessing game.

I have been ambivalent about using it until I know what's wrong with it, so as a result, I've conveniently used that as an excuse to skip two C25K workouts this week.

"Run outdoors!", you say, "Just lace up your Brooks and run outdoors!"

To that, I reply, "Feh."

If you know me at all you know I'm a treadmill sissy. I'm one of those people who can run miles on a treadmill but can't get 100 yards outdoors for some reason. That "some" reason is located squarely between my ears and covered with fake highlights. Twice this week I prepared myself for an outdoor run and twice I backed out, under the guise of needing more sleep. There's a glimmer of legitimacy to that, but I've gone without that 45 minutes of sleep before and nobody has died (that I know of, or, they were going to die anyway, and that guy I ran off the road doesn't count - he deserved it).

So, yeah. I am going to try to start running outdoors like a normal person. If I do C25K workouts Saturday and Sunday I can still finish W5 on time. That will be 3 days of running in a row. (I am buying stock in Icy-Hot on my BlackBerry even as I type that.) Still doing the Body Fat Solution workouts every other day, and I really look forward to them. I am noticing that my mid-section is re-shaping and my upper body and core are already stronger, and I am seeing definition in my quads again. I am holding planks and bird-dogs easily for 30 seconds, where I could barely hold for 20 when I started a month ago. Next up, minute-long planks and bird-dogs. Eek.

So, I guess what I'm saying is... prepare for some whining. There's going to be quite a learning curve as I attempt to leave the ranks of treadmill sissies and switch teams - as it were - and learn to be an outdoor runner.

Monday, August 17, 2009

You know your double is starting to go to hell...



...when this is the only way to keep the blood from your patient's uncontrolled bleeding head lac from overtaking the back of the truck. This is just a fraction of the bleeding - pretty much what weasled its way around the multiple pressure dressings and dripped off the back of the stretcher. There were long clots of coagulated choogie, as I like to call it, hanging from the back of the stretcher as we wheeled the guy in to the E.D. Enough to even make me gag.
You may not be able to tell from the above picture, but that actually tells one quite a bit about the benevolence and empathy of the attending medic (moi!) Wasn't that nice of me to try and contain the mess a bit to minimize my partner's clean-up nightmare? Yeah, I thought so too.
So.. the bleeding head wound above: I had a guy, wearing no protective gear, wreck his motorcycle on the highway at 60mph today, and he wasn't bleeding anywhere near like this guy. Life just ain't fair sometimes.
Other highlights of the day:
  • Intubating someone I went to school with (Pretty sure pizza and heroin was his last meal, if you're interested)
  • EJ on same guy
  • Other medic hurt his knee on a call to the point he can barely bear weight. No sleepy sleepy for me
  • Did I mention I smell like puke now?

This is what I get for having the hubris to put the kayak on my car in anticipation of getting off shift at 8am.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Not an ounce of guilt

(sing it with me!) It's the most WONderful tiiiiime, of the monnnnnnth...

Ok, so any males who cross my path may not understand, but ANY woman knows what it means when another woman orders a combination of chocolately chocolate, salty/sweet peanut butter, topped off with brownies and - what else? - more chocolate! And they give that woman whatever she wants. Because they feel her pain, and they know that when they finish that last pill in their little blister pack, they'll be on the prowl for some similarly gross combo.

Used to be, something like this would be the beginning of a setback that could last a week, but more likely could screw with me for close to a month. I'd think to myself, "Well, the day is blown to hell now, why not get a Big Mac and fries on the way home while you're indulging?" I'd skip the next day's workout, give myself a pass the following day, and wake up 6 months later and 20lbs heavier.

What happened on this day was, however, eerily different. In a good way, though. I enjoyed every salty, chocolatey bite of this overly rich and sweet treat. It was just what I had been craving and I had my fill of it. When I was done, sure, some of those old thoughts crept into the back of my mind, but they were fleeting. I went home and worked out for an hour. Not at all out of a sense of guilt, but because that's what was on my schedule. More importantly, I wanted to have time for Sunday morning indulgence I had been looking forward to: A leisurely hour before work, drinking steaming hot fresh coffee and savoring the Sunday paper.

My, how my tastes have stayed the same.. and my, how my tastes have changed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Handling disappointment

It used to be so easy; hit the CoGo's. Spend $10 on sun chips, fudge rounds, strawberry milk and pepperoni rolls. Eat on the way home to the point of uncomfortable fullness, but stopping just short of the nasty pukies. Grab some Tums on the way in for the inevitable reflux and pass out. Disappointment = handled. Dealt with. Put in its place.

That was the past.

These days, I don't quite know what to do with myself. It's a very uncomfortable sensation, to have all of these feelings swirling around that I now have to (here's a novel concept:) deal with, instead of numb and push away with junk food.

So, there I found myself yesterday, mulling over this stuff all day, since that is now what I do instead of consuming half a package of Oreos in a sitting. Friday, the third of three days off in a row, during our kid-free week. The weather, which had been way too cool to be called summer if you're not in the Pacific Northwest, was finally cooperating. Hot and sunny. We spoke of grand plans: Camping, jetskiing around downtown, going out to a movie that wasn't rated G or PG. What did we end up doing? Painting the kid's room and furniture and building a corner cabinet to match the new bed. It was one of those projects that you look at and delude yourself:
Painting: 2 hours
Furniture painting: 1 hour
Cabinet building: 2 hours
Cabinet painting: 1 hour
Putting the room back together: 1 hour

What really happened:
Cleaning out the room: Oooops! Forgot to take this into account. Couple hours.
Painting: 2 days, the second day finishing up at 3am... so, almost 3 days. Fucking hot pink paint took 3 coats.
Furniture painting: Priming it alone took 3 hours. Complicated by the fact that the first tray of paint got crumby crap in it and I had to dump it out and start over... and had to re-sand and re-prime the drawer that got all crumbed up.
Cabinet building: 2 days
Cabinet painting: 2 hours to prime, with 2 people working on it. (It's beautiful, though. If Dan ever wants to quit his day job, he could build furniture for a living.)
Final coat of paint for all furniture and newly-built cabinet: Has yet to happen, but it took us an hour last night to set up the gazebo tent and clothespin plastic "walls" to it, so that Dan can use his commercial paint sprayer to finish off the furniture.
Putting the room back together: Scheduled for 10pm tonight, after a 12 hour shift at work.

So, yeah. A disappointing way to spend hot, sunny days when you had other things in mind. Dan encouraged me to get out and do what I wanted outdoors. However, I'm a team player. I can't enjoy leisure time if my teammate is busting his ass on a project I could be helping with. I was ok Wednesday. It rained half the day and we had set the day aside to get stuff done. When Thursday night rolled around and it became apparent we'd be still working into the wee hours, I wrote that day off too. Friday, I showed up dutifully, hanging on to a shred of hope. The dog paced the house and yard, stopping to sit and stare hopefully at me, "Going somewhere? We going somewhere? Huh? Huh?" Pent-up. I know just how she felt.

The day wore on, frustrating setbacks happened. It again became apparent that this was going to be an all-work-and-no-play day. I yelled at the dog. I snapped at Dan. I threw a paint brush. All the while, I could have been using one of two of my other coping mechanisms: Eating, or expressing what was wrong. I opted for the latter. He admitted the kid-free week ended up kind of a big disappointment. Magically, with that out in the open, the stressors of the entire three days melted away. I felt like we were on the same team again.

Moral of the story: It's really hard and it sucks to deal with your feelings. But, it doesn't give you the guilt, nausea and heartburn of Oreos.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I have a dream.

It's not a dream for world peace, or universal healthcare (though, yeah, that would be great), or the end as we know it of assholery, fatrocities and rubbernecking (the trifecta of EMS annoyances).

No.

My dream is simple.

My dream is this:
My alarm goes off, or I wake up. I actually get right up, without procrastinating, complaining, making excuses or otherwise delaying the inevitable. I put my workout clothes on and I work out. I don't check Facebook Mobile before I get up. I don't text anyone. I don't look at CNN.com. I don't try and figure out when, later in the day, I could maybe fit this workout in. I don't waste 20 minutes chasing around a stubborn chin hair with my ineffective tweezers. I don't lie there and think, "Hmmm. Maybe I should vacuum first."
I just get up and do it.

If I said it was getting easier every day, I'd be a liar. However, it's still getting done, so that's something.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Resilience

Grace is all I'm asking
When will Grace return?
Grace is all I'm asking



That was the theme of the final vigil held for the women brutally murdered last Tuesday at LA Fitness in Collier Township. The resilience of those who were injured, of the responders, of the community.
Myself, I prefer grace.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Week in Review

Wow. What a week. Work-wise, I don't think it could get more stressful than the last 7 days. I'm really glad to have had a solid week of eating and exercise under my belt to keep me on an even keel, and able to deal with it all without - for the most part - resorting to food or sloth for comfort.

Recap:

Monday - C25K W2D1 - love the Podrunner intervals. LOVE.
Tue - BFS workout B - had half a donut at Critical Incident Stress Debriefing. Given what we'd all been though, and 2 tables-worth full of cake, pie and donuts spread out at the Fire Department, I think that's getting off pretty cheap.
Wed - I didn't do anything. I was up until 2am processing the events of the night before and could barely drag my ass out of bed.
Thurs - BFS workout A (wanted to make up the missed run, but I didn't leave myself enough time - that's what Sunday is for)
Fri - C25K W2D2
Sat - BFS workout B and C25K W2D3, making up the workout I skipped Wednesday. Couple miles on the bike, but they were verrrrry slow miles, doing my best to stay in formation in a parade.
Sun - Grab bag day! I don't have anything planned. I'd like to get the dog out for a walk. Maybe I'll ride my bike to Dan's again, just to prove the first time wasn't a fluke. Of course it's supposed to finally hit 90* here today, so maybe not.

The week's victories:

  • Eating half a donut may not seem to be a victory when one is going for optimum health and fitness. Putting it in perspective, eating just half a donut - while processing the carnage I saw Tuesday night and having easily the most ass-pucker-inducing call of my career - half a donut of the 2 tables full of donuts, cakes and pies available to us for the comfort-eating.. I'm calling it a win.
  • It was so difficult to get up Thursday and Friday mornings and get the workout in before work. But I did it. You should see the advanced mathematics that take place in my brain when the alarm goes off, and I have to calculate just how many more minutes I can doze (subtracting the 11 minutes that my clock is set ahead to "fool" me) and still get a workout in and make it to work on time. I almost talked myself out of getting out of bed Wednesday, telling myself I'd work out when I got home from work. Right. 12 hours of work and I'm going to work out when I get home? That got me out of bed. Same for Friday. Win.
  • Q. - What's even harder than getting out of bed to work out before work? A. - Getting out of bed to work out when you don't have to go to work. Lack of structure really does a number on my motivation, but I didn't let it stop me this weekend. Win.
  • Week 2 of C25K down. Win.
  • I planned my eating well this week. Big win.
  • Many long visits by my Unmotivated Self have been preceded by just one day like Wednesday, in which I had a semi-legit reason to sleep in and skip my workout. One day turns into two, then 3, then before you know it, six months have gone by because I needed an extra hour of sleep the one day. However, as hard as it was, I got up Thursday, literally bargained and forced myself out of bed, and kept the momentum going. Huge win.
  • GruntDoc, one of my favorite bloggers, featured one of my posts on his blog. Icing on the cake.