Ironman Wisconsin volunteering

How depressing is this?

I got this in the mail a week or so ago.  It is the participant guide for the Twin Cities Marathon.  This is the marathon I should be running in two weeks.  I am still REALLY bummed that I’m not running this race.  I had really high hopes of running this marathon in under four hours.

It has been a tough summer watching everyone train for their fall marathons.  This past weekend was especially difficult, because it seemed that almost everyone I know was running either a half or full marathon.  My facebook feed was full of race updates and smiling finishers.  Part of me has been really excited to see how their training was progressing and to see them cross the finish line of their races.  The other part of me is just plain jealous that they can run and I can’t.  It seems I am constantly going between motivating/encouraging and bitter/depressed. 

A couple weeks ago, I went down to Madison to volunteer for Ironman Wisconsin.  My friend, Angela, and I helped out in the women’s change tent in Transition 1.  The women would come out of the water after swimming 2.4 miles.  They grabbed their gear bag and then headed into the changing area. 

I spent a lot of time pulling off wetsuits and tugging biking clothes onto still-wet bodies.  These women were incredible.  They were in the middle of putting their bodies through the toughest thing most people can imagine.  After their 2.4 mile swim, they biked 112 miles and then ran a full marathon.  Incredible. 

The best part of the experience for me was seeing the diversity of athletes represented at this event.  I think everyone expects Ironman competitors to fit into a certain ‘mold.’  While there were professional athletes there, most of the people participating were very ‘normal’ looking.  There were athletes ranging in age from 19-72.  There were those who looked strong and sinewy and others who were a little overweight.  It pretty much destroyed the stereotype I had in my mind of the ‘typical’ Ironman athlete.  And, it made me think that if these people are capable of completing this event, what is stopping me?

And then I remembered that I have chronic back pain and I can’t run more than a mile at a time.  I guess that is what is stopping me.  Once again, I go from inspired and motivated to depressed and discouraged.  It is probably for the best.  I can’t afford to buy all the STUFF that you need to be a triathlete.  My road bike doesn’t have aerobars (not that I could get into that position with my back, anyway).  I don’t don’t have a wetsuit.  Triathlon entry fees are much more expensive than regular running races.

But, I think I will volunteer again next year.  We had a great time and it really is amazing to see what these people are able to do.  While we were at the finish line, we saw a father with his two small sons.  The boys were probably 5 and 6 years old.  They each had a sign with a close up picture of their mom’s face.  The sign was on a long stick, so they could wave the picture out in front of the runners as they ran down the finishing chute. 

As soon as their mom approached and saw her boys holding those signs, she started crying.  She came up and hugged her boys and kissed her husband.  The boys were cheering and the husband was letter her know how proud he was of her.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the group.  It was such an emotional moment.  It really illustrated how important it is for these athletes to have a good support system to get through all the training and the preparation that goes into completing the race. 

And another follow up

Seriously.  How many appointments am I going to have to go through before I feel like a normal person again?!?!  This is getting ridiculous.  Yesterday was my 6 week follow up after the radiofrequency ablation procedure I had the beginning of August.  I met with the doctor and we discussed that I am still having pain.  Although the pain is different, it still limits what I am able to do.

She did a brief exam and tried to find the exact location of the pain.  We talked about the benefit I had initially received from the diagnostic branch block injections.  She then pulled up the X-rays and MRIs and her notes from the first couple appointments.  We looked at an image she had taken during the 2nd injection and she pointed out a pseudoarthrosis of my S1-S2.

And what is pseuoarthrosis?  Basically, it is a failure of the S1-S2 to fuse completely.  It creates a joint where there really shouldn’t be one.  This was pretty apparent on the MRI.  Is this what is causing the pain?  Who knows.  But, it is the next logical step in the diagnosis/treatment plan.

And what is the diagnosis/treatment plan?  Well, I have scheduled an injection into that joint.  It will be a combination of a steroid and a numbing medication.  If it works, I should get several weeks of relief AND then we will know that is where the problem is.  Then we can progress to the next treatment option to provide a more permanent solution.  (surgery?)  If the injection doesn’t make the pain go away, then we are back to the drawing board.  (And I will cry.  Again.)

So, the injection will be on October 10th.  It will be another situation where I will have to go in early and not eat anything.  I’ll need a driver and they’ll probably want to give me some Valium (which I won’t want).  The whole process will take about 2 hours, even though the actual time of the injection process only takes 15-20 minutes.

The doctor wrote the same work restrictions that she wrote when I started my new job.  I am allowed to do moderate duty.  It is a bit subjective, but the management has been really great about letting me get in on a wide variety of different cases and I just have to be very cognizant of what I can and cannot do.  I am fortunate that I am still in orientation because it means that there is always another nurse with me and I don’t have to do anything by myself just yet.

The doctor wants me too continue doing the physical therapy, although she did mention that I shouldn’t be extending my back (think: back bend) too much.  A little bit, just to get a stretch is fine, but too much will put pressure on that area.  So, no yoga for now.  Sad smile

As for running…and really, isn’t that the most important thing…I told her that I have had a couple runs that have felt pretty good.  I’m still doing a lot of walking and I try to get in the pool once a week (although with the new job that is a challenge).  She said that I could increase my running mileage from a half mile to a mile, on the days that I feel good.  I have to maintain a slow pace and I still can’t run more frequently than every other day.

So, I’m still working through this stupid injury.  My fall marathons are rapidly approaching and I am going to have to suck it up and deal with the fact that I am not running.  There is always next year…maybe.

Working woman

I have made it through the first two weeks at the new job.  The Operating Room is a very dynamic environment and there is so much to learn before I will feel comfortable as a nurse.  The first couple weeks have been busy with general hospital orientation classes, shadowing RNs in the OR and working through my THREE INCH THICK orientation binder.

The orientation period in the OR is about 6 months long.  Even though I accepted a .6 position (24 hrs/week), I will be working full time during the orientation period.  And…it is exhausting.  I have about a 45 minute commute each way.  And my brain is working overtime trying to learn all this new information.  By the time I get home, I am pretty wiped out.  (My exercise routing has taken a hit)  I know that things will get easier as I start to learn the new role and even better when I am able to cut down to part time.  It is just going to be a busy few months.

I was able to shadow on a couple of cases this week.  There are two main ‘teams’ in the surgery department:  ONS (Ortho, Neuro, Spine) and General (general, Ear/Nose/Throat, Plastics, Robotics).  At some point during the orientation process, I will choose which team I want to work on.  But, I will orient to both so I can make an informed decision.  I’ve been in several Ortho cases, one general case and a C-Section.  I’m looking forward to next week to see what other cases I will be exposed to.  I know that at least one day will be devoted to making some progress in the THREE INCH THICK orientation binder.  And I have one day of general nursing orientation with other new nurse hires from other departments.

The sheer volume of things I have to learn is completely overwhelming.  Several times a day I have to remind myself that I don’t have to know all of it tomorrow.  There are a lot of nurses in the department and they were all in my shoes at one point.  If they can learn it, so can I.  I am going to have to keep telling myself this whenever I start to freak out!

I really think I am going to love this job.  The people have been great so far.  They understand how much there is to learn and they know that it can be really overwhelming.  There are also just a lot of people to meet.  I’m glad that everyone is wearing a name badge!  There are a lot of nurses and surgery techs and CNAs.  Then there are the anesthesiologists and the nurse anesthetists.  Of course, there are also the surgeons and on most cases there is a surgical assistant.  There are a lot of people in the operating room…which is very comforting!

I am looking forward to learning as much as I can.  This is what I have worked so hard for the past few years and it is really exciting to finally be in a position where I am able to apply some of what I have learned.