Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I've Moved!

July was a fresh start for me and that include my switch to wordpress.

Come to catch up on my journey at http://www.cynsspace.wordpress.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ice, ice and more ice

Ice is my friend.  In fact, ice is a pretty popular commodity in our house.  When the boys were little, they use to scream "Ice!  Ice! I need ice!" for any little boo-boo; oddly enough, they both would have nothing to do with bandages.  I clearly remember one trip to the drug store being that much more exciting with the simple promise of buying an instant icepack for my gear bag.  Even today, for my teen and tween, ice seems to fix all of their aches and pains.

When I fell, I followed my sons' examples.  I knew right away that I needed to ice my chin so I picked up handfuls of snow on the walk home.  The great thing about that was I had an endless supply; the not so great thing about it was every time I dropped some snow back to the ground, I left a trail of blood which must have made people question what animal had died nearby.  When I got home, the first words out of my mouth were "I need ice!"

Before we left for the hospital, I told my husband to get a roll of paper towels and fill a bag with ice.  "They have ice at the hospital," he laughed.  "We have to drive there and I need ice now."  Dave understood that tone and got the ice.

Just over half an hour later, I still hadn't seen a doctor and I was running out of my "wonder drug."  Dave asked the nurse for some.  We waited.  Fifteen minutes later, he asked again.  Still no ice.  Finally, Dave asked the nurse, "Where is the ice machine so that I can get it?"  He came back with a cupful and he continued to get his own refills until I was admitted.

After the doctor diagnosed a broken jaw and I was hooked up to an I.V., he proceeded to stitch my chin.  "Umm, you're stitching my chin?" I questioned.
"Yes, but we try to be careful with the face.  We don't want to leave any scars."
"But you haven't washed my chin yet," I said. 
"Oh, don't worry," he replied, looking at the I.V. "You have plenty of antibiotics going through you.  There is no risk of infection."

Week 2: Clean but still swollen.
"I'm not worried about infection," I thought.  "I'm worried about dirt being stuck underneath and my chin looking dirty for the rest of my life."  I refrained.  Later, I realized that my chin probably was spotless because it had been drawing in ice for a few hours.

The next day, the oral surgeon told me to expect my chin to turn black and blue "right down to the clavicle."  It didn't.  It only ended up being a greenish-yellow, probably thanks to my vigorous icing.

Everyday for the past 8 weeks, I have tried to peek under my chin to see exactly how I have healed.  The doctor was right; he was careful with my face.  But I can't help but wonder whether there is any dirt trapped under the flesh or not.  Fortunately, I'll never really see whether there is or isn't.  Sadly, though, 90% of the population I deal with from day to day stands below five feet tall.  Hopefully, they'll never notice too. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Six Weeks Later

In my last post, I wrote about my fall; my jaw was fractured in 4 places and I spent the next 4 weeks resting and reflecting.   Every day, I wondered whether or not I wanted to keep running and, if so, how much longer could I stay competitive.   My brother compared me to his 11 year old son who has had enough of playing rep. hockey.  "If he is ready to retire, Cyn," he said, "maybe you should be thinking about that too."

Truth be told, I spent the first few weeks not wanting to run at all.  In fact, I didn't want to do anything: spinning, yoga, or swimming. I was more concerned about trying to get strong enough to get back to work and not losing any more weight (I dropped close to 10 pounds thanks to my liquid diet).  Working out was not high on my to-do list.

Besides, it was a good month not to run.  February was one of the worst winters that Ontario has had in years.  I did not miss heading out into the cold and I most certainly did not miss all of the laundry that came with it.  But as I started to feel better, I was keen to start working out again and I hoped for a longer leash each time I went to see the oral surgeon.   After week 4, he cleared me for some stationary cycling but "Absolutely no downward dog," he cautioned.  "You can't clench your jaw."  I never really thought about yoga being a jaw-clencher but I heeded his advice.  By Week 6, I could get back to Power Yoga and swimming.  "You'll know when you're ready to run," he said.  "It all just depends on how much pain you can handle."

My ready-test was simple.   Over the past month, whenever I thought I might be able to run, I did the test: step down from the curb onto the road.  As long as that continued to hurt, I knew I wasn't ready.  As time passed, I longed to hit the roads (with my feet, not my jaw).   Mentally, I was ready; physically, I needed more time.

All along, my recovery plan was simple: build cardio; keep up with the cross-training until March Break.  Then, take the time to ease back into running.  But last Monday, I felt ready.  Temperatures jumped from the deep freeze to the just below zero mark, and the time change meant that we would have more light to run later in the day.  All morning at school, I kept looking at the blue skies and longed to get outside.  By lunch, my mind was made up; I was going to run that night - even if it was just 2 or 3 kilometres.  My co-workers cautioned, "It's going to be icy," to which I confidently replied, "I'm going right after school when the sun is out and it's still warm.  I'll be careful."

And I was.  I finished a glorious three kilometres.  Since then, I have run 2-5k distances and  I will continue to build distance and speed, with a few races in mind.  Slowly, I am on the road to recovery and back to chasing my dreams.
Six weeks of healing and I'm back on the roads.


Monday, February 2, 2015

How It All Went Down

For many years, Wednesday has been my favorite day of the week; it was run night.  Shawn and I use to run our tempo on Wednesday's and I spent all day looking forward to them.  When I joined the Toronto Olympic Club, Wednesday remained a staple in my running diet and rarely would I miss a practice.
This Wednesday was no exception.  I was looking forward to a quiet night at home with the dudes, making cookies and helping with homework, but all that was going to happen after 7:30, after I got home from training with Coach Kevin and, this week, the guys.  As any other week, I got dressed to run at 5:30 and left just before 6:00 to meet them at the Rec Centre.  The temperatures were perfect; a drill of 1 kilometre repeats was planned; I was going to like this workout.
I left the house in my Saucony neon pink jacket and warmed up along the quiet roads.  I was only 300-400 metres away from home and I felt myself start to fall, but it was an almost surreal experience.  I felt my toe hit something and I couldn't figure out what was happening.  In fact, I clearly recall thinking, "What is happening to me?"  All I do know is that I was airborne.  I felt my body float forward, my bottom jaw thrust with it, my top jaw follow and my chin whack the concrete road.  My head rang; it was as though a gong inside my head was hit and everything was dinging from ear to ear.  At that point, I realized I was lying flat on the road.  The ringing stopped.  My forehead was okay, but I was not.  Then I knew that my toe hit an ice rock, the black chunky ice that gets stuck to the back of cars, which had somehow managed to stick to the road.  When I hit it, I moved, not it.
Dazed, I entertained going to the Rec Centre as it was closer than home but I knew something was really wrong.  Quickly, I grabbed a handful of snow to ice my chin and realized I was losing a lot of blood.  I started to walk home, shaking, scared, and scooping up handful after handful of snow to try to keep down the swelling, leaving a trail of blood.  My teeth didn't feel right and I counted them - twice - to make sure they were all there.  "It's Wednesday night," I thought. "Thank goodness the dentist works late."  Cars passed but I couldn't get my hands away from my mouth fast enough to get the drivers' attention; when I saw two runners, I wanted to yell but I couldn't open my mouth enough to get the words out.
As soon as I got home, Dave called the dentist but he had just left. "We have to go to Emergency," I said.  "There is something wrong with my jaw.  I think I've dislocated it."  The dudes scrambled to get my health card, and Dave and I left for the hospital.
When Dave and I arrived at Emerg., there were too many people to count.    At Triage, I was told my blood pressure was high (135) because I just fell.  "But it's never that high," I replied. "It's normally at 80 or 90.  Even when I was pregnant, it never got that high."  "But you just fell," the nurse repeated.  When we finished, I asked how long the wait was likely to be and started to cry; it was the first time I had cried that night.  The nurse looked ant me and asked, "Well, how much pain are you in?"  "I was in less pain when I delivered both of my kids."  She booked me as a "9" and fast-tracked me.
By the time I finally saw an intern, the bleeding on my chin had mostly stopped.  I knew that my teeth had been displaced and I was still fairly certain that I had dislocated my jaw.   The intern did an assessment, concluded that I had a mild concussion, there no indication of a dislocated jaw and I needed stitches on my chin.  He consulted with the ER doctor who said the same thing.  "But my jaw doesn't feel right.  There is something wrong with it."  The two walked away but I heard them say that they would x-ray me "as a precaution."
When the images came back, the doctor came in surprised.  "You have a broken jaw."  My mind raced with images of a former student who broke her jaw while skiing and had to be wired shut.  I worried about being away from work and getting things done around the house.  I didn't want to be out of commission for any chunk of time.  But it was too soon to get any answers.  All they could do was pump some antibiotics and painkillers into me, stitch up my chin, give me a prescription and a few meds to get me through the night and a referral to see an oral surgeon the next day.  Home we went.
On Thursday morning, Dave and I went to see the oral surgeon who showed me the x-rays. There are 4 fractures: 3 closed and 1 open.  Two are next to one ear and the third is next to my other; that explains the ringing sensation I had.  The open fracture means that the bone has broken into my gums and has pushed behind my bottom teeth.  The surgeon wants to wait for a week for things to settle down before he makes any decisions, but he is hopeful that he won't have to wire my jaw shut and that my teeth will slowly start to shift back into place.  He topped up my prescription with more antibiotics and painkillers and ordered me to a liquid diet and bed rest.
It's five days later and I don't know how much improvement my jaw has seen.  I am getting use to liquids only and have perfected a soft-boiled egg that I can simply "swallow".  I'm trying to staying positive but there are still a lot of unknowns, and unknowns frighten me.
There are so many times that I have stumbled while running and been able to recover.  This was such a freak accident and I still can't figure out how it happened.  Lighting was obviously a factor; at 6:00,  a black icy chunk of rock blended in perfectly with the road.  Why I wasn't able to catch myself will always be a question.
I have always been a believer in "things happen for a reason" but I don't know the what this one's is.  When I figure it out, I'll be sure to let you know.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking back and moving forward.

For those of you who are wondering where I've been, I'm right here, toeing the line, ready to take on 2015.  Like training for a race or a marathon, life is a journey; everything that you have done in the past prepares you for the next step but, sometimes, things take you by surprise. 

Last year took me by surprise.  In the spring, I watched the health of both parents change, resulting in selling the house and moving both of them into a retirement home.  In the summer, my brothers and I got them settled and closed the family house, which meant countless hours of sorting, purging, distributing and donating over 50 years of their possessions.  In the fall, I went back to school feeling as tired as I was at the end of June, but now I faced my 5 year evaluation - again, hours of prep work and oodles of stress.  The circumstances of the year helped me to see the fortitude of my family - my brothers, their wives, my husband and sons.  We worked together, we got along, we complained about each other and laughed about our quirks. 

During 2014, I also re-discovered how important my running is to me.  I was at the end of my marathon training cycle when my year started to turn.  With less than a month to go, I recognized that I needed to be available to help my parents.  How could I do that with my own children to care for, while working and training for a marathon?   I thought about quitting the race before I even started, but I didn't.  I knew how much I needed it, to keep that regiment of training - something I could control - in place.  I ended up finishing the marathon in 3:33, but with an unexplained ache in my foot and hip and the disappointment of missing my goal time. In the next few months, I continued to face unexplained aches and pains through my hips, legs and feet to the point when I seriously contemplated hanging up my shoes. By the end of August, though,  I decided to challenge the complaints I was feeling and do "whatever it takes" to keep me on the trails and roads.  I turned back to physiotherapy, went back to regular yoga and started a slow build-up of distance.  And I - gulp - ordered orthotics.   By the end of November, I raced 4 times, with a Masters win in a 10K, and a second and 2-third place overall finishes in the 5K races; times were consistent with previous years so, maybe, just maybe, things weren't all that bad.

By mid-December, the challenges of 2014 had been put to rest.  Over the last two weeks, I have done nothing - absolutely nothing - but rest and play.  I've spent time with my family and I've run.  Physically, I am still healing but I am feeling ready to throw myself into some higher mileage and faster times. 

Goals are set; I'm ready to chase them down.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Living History

One of the things that I will always remember about my mom is her story of JFK's assassination.  "I'll never forget that day," she started.  "You were only two months and your father called me from work.  I knew there was something wrong right away."   She told me the story several times, and she always began it the same way.

In 2001, when the Twin Towers came down, I was home alone with my baby boy.  Mom called me.  "Are you watching t.v?" she asked.  "Turn it on.  Something has happened."  Like my mother's memories of November 1963, that moment and the rest of that day has become etched in my mind.

As today's events on Parliament Hill unfolded, I knew that they were quickly becoming my next piece of living history, not a current event but something that will be a part of me forever.  "How could this happen?" I thought, as well as "Why would this happen?" or "That's not suppose to happen in Canada."  For hundreds of years, Canadians have welcomed people from around the world - as tourists, as refugees and as immigrants.  We are a peaceful, loving nation.  I felt violated. 

Every day, as we sing the anthem at school, I am grateful to be a Canadian.  My boys can play at recess without armed guards around the perimeter of the playground to protect them.  My teammates and I can run through the streets at night, our only concern being whether we are visible enough to oncoming traffic.  Young or old, we have dreams and we go after them; that will never change.

But how we chase those dreams will.  We will stop and look; we will think twice; we will be a little more cautious - vigilant.  But we will not stand down.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thank you, Mother Nature.

Over the past year, I have done my share of complaining about the weather.  In the winter, I ran more treadmill runs (4) that I had in the 10 previous years.  The spring had many windy, windy days and, somehow, they all managed to land when I had my long runs.  Summer never really came and, for someone who loves to run in the heat, I was truly disappointed in Mother Nature.
This fall, though, has been great.  Okay, so I had to train for a few downpours which had me looking for Noah's Arc, and I raced on one of the wettest Sundays we had all year, but the fields have been dry for cross-country and we haven't had to cancel a single practice - until Friday.
On Thursday night, the forecast showed a 90% chance of rain and the dreaded lightning bolt.  In schools, that means that practices or any other outdoor activity is cancelled.  I really wanted Friday's after school training to continue; it has become a favorite workout for the kids and I love their enthusiasm from start to end.  On Friday morning, though, the forecast stayed the same; at lunch, the lightning bolt still showed on The Weather Network; by 2:00, we made the decision to cancel practice.  I glared at Mother Nature.
But every cloud has a silver lining and I quickly found it.  My husband had been away for most of the week and we had 3 different teacher nights (mine and the two dudes') so my run time had been minimal all week.  Once I had cancelled cross-country, I realized that I freed up almost 2 hours to get my own run in before I had to pick up Little Ironman at the babysitter's.  After work, then, I rushed home, changed and hit the road during what ended up becoming a light drizzle.  I picked up LI, then Skipper and the rest of the night was quiet family time.
So, thank you, Mother Nature for helping out a fellow mama, this running mama.