Monday, May 28, 2012

I did it!

I run for many reasons. I run because I have to. (The Air Force requires a biannual assessment of fitness, part of which is a 1.5-mile run.) I run because it is easy. (All I need is a good pair of shoes, some music 30 minutes of spare time, and my workout is done.) I run for stress relief. (I miss those endorphins if I skip more than a day or two.) I run to spend time with friends. (When time is limited and both a workout and a chat are needed, a run is a great way to accomplish both at once.) And I run because I am competitive and enjoy accomplishing a goal, beating my last time or achieving a new distance.

But even with all that, I never wanted to run in races. The thought of all those people, the adrenaline that comes with a race and doing “my” run on someone else’s schedule just never appealed to me.

In January, my running partner at work suggested we do a half marathon. I gave the excuses listed above and said, “No, thank you.” But, shortly afterward, when my sister and her son completed their first half marathon and loved it, my mind opened to the possibilities. Besides, my runs had started getting a little stale, the stressors at work had started piling up and I needed a new challenge. So I acquiesced, and my running partner and I signed up for the Colfax Half Marathon—three months away at the time—and started training.

Friends who had done marathons and half marathons gave advice—one sent a training plan— and we fit runs into our afternoons as much as possible. Even with the plan, it was tough to fit too much distance into my week. Between, homework and ski season, there was little time for long runs. And, with my boy’s recent health concerns, I didn’t relish the idea of running on weekend mornings and leaving the kiddos home for very long. Another friend was kind enough to find a few afternoons free, and we managed an eight-mile loop around a local reservoir, my longest runs leading up to race day.

Race day actually started in what I normally consider the middle of the night–4 a.m! With a 6 a.m. start, I needed to be at a friend’s house by 5:15 to walk to the start. Yes, we walked two miles to the start of the 13.1 mile course, ran the race, and then walked the two miles back to our cars. Crazy! But, it all culminated in a great morning. Although the crowd was big, it was part of the experience and, with friends around. it wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I had feared. I finished in 2:07, running a sub 10-minute mile the entire way. The sense of accomplishment is still with me a week later.

I think our next half will be the Rock and Roll in late September, with a few shorter races—and maybe even one of those mud runs — before that, as well. It is true: Once you do one, you’re hooked!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A second opinion, and life goes on

It is hard to believe it has been just a month since we discovered my boy has two heart defects that will require surgery to repair. Life continues to fly by with science fair projects, end-of-year school performances and wrap-up of our spring sports schedule. Sometimes, I can even forget we have this major event staring us in the face!

Not so, last Monday. My boy and I met with a cardiologist for a second opinion and a repeat echocardiogram. Not surprisingly, the second opinion was the same as the first. Yes, there are two large defects that need to be repaired to prevent further compromise of my son’s heart function. Knowing that I’m a nurse practitioner, this cardiologist even took the time to do the echo himself, walking me through the pictures and showing me the defects and altered blood flow. He also included me in the assessment, putting my hand on my boy’s chest so I could feel the force of his heart beating against his ribs, not a typical assessment finding!

We talked about how healthy my son seems, and the doctor explained that because my boy is always working at an increased effort, he has less reserve. Light bulb moment! That explains why he struggles more than I would expect to peddle up a mountain on his mountain bike and why I’ve twice had to carry him the last 100 yards up Mt. Evans, a 14,000-foot mountain you can drive up most of the way. I would frequently get frustrated with him during these times. Often, the biking was at his request, and then he “refused” to keep up, often throwing a fit when the rest of us peddled on ahead. Pile on the “mommy guilt!”

Although I really appreciated the second physician’s time and patience with us, I will stick with the original doctor’s office. It is more convenient and is associated with one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. So, surgery is scheduled for the third week of June with the chief of the cardiothoracic department. He comes highly recommended and he has an NP as his assistant. (He can’t be all bad!)

Years ago, I worked in an adult ICU doing open-heart recovery and was the lead on the balloon-pump program. The up side is, I am prepared for the surgery, knowing what to expect. The down side is, I keep remembering all the complications, all the times people returned to the unit still “open,” the times I rushed to the OR with the balloon pump praying for a miracle, the times I sat with families after passing along the news that “things are not going well.” I keep holding to the truth that my boy is healthy and strong, and that this is corrective and planned surgery—not an emergent response to an ailing heart with blocked blood flow.

In the meantime, life goes on with Cub Scouts and camping trips that were planned prior to surgery, together with baseball practice and building of bike ramps, using construction debris scavenged from around our cul-de-sac—typical, active boy fun.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.