Archive | May, 2012

A Very Strange Day

25 May

A Very Strange Day

Today was a very strange day. I’m not exactly sure where to begin. I suppose I’ll start with a few facts:

1. Our washing machine has been broken for 3 weeks.
2. My director closed our office today to give us an early start to the Memorial Day weekend.
3. Sears Home Services was scheduled to send a Repair Technician to install the broken washing machine part between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.
4. I had an appointment downtown at 3:30 p.m.
5. I may never ride the bus again.

I woke up early today, or early for a day off anyway, to be ready when the Sears repair man arrived. He was supposed to get here between 8 a.m. and noon. It was nice to have the day off; I am taking two classes this summer session, which is rather intense. Having the extra time at home gave me the opportunity to work on some assignments for school, and get a few things done around the house; like servicing our Roomba vacuum cleaner.

At 12:05 p.m. I figured I should check-in with Sears to find out why the service dude had yet to show up. They told me that he was running an hour behind, and should be there closer to 1:00 p.m. I was down with that, no big thing, I had the day off after all! Right after I hung up, Alex sent me a text saying that his phone just told him that he had received a voicemail at 9:00 a.m. saying that Sears was running behind. Fair enough, I thought.

At 2:05 p.m. I was a little less okay with the fact that the repair dude still hadn’t arrived. We were now an hour past “we’re going to be an hour late.” So I called Sears again. I may have had a bit of an attitude during this phone call, but I had already been waiting for 6 hours for this dude, and I had an appointment at 3:30 p.m., which meant I needed to leave by 3 p.m. The representative I spoke to apologized and said she understood why I would be annoyed, and that she would send a message to the technician and tell him to give me a call with an update.

At 3:00 p.m. I was pissed. I called Sears again while heading out the door to go downtown. I was explaining my frustration to the customer service agent when I got on the bus. I told her that I had been waiting for 7 hours, and no one showed up, that I needed to leave now, and that I wanted someone to come out tomorrow, because this was ridiculous. As I said all of that I sat down on the bus. I should note that the bus smelled really bad. I was trying to listen to the customer service agent, as people on the bus tried to get my attention. I ignored these people because they didn’t seem like folks I would normally associate with, and because I was intent on solving my issue with Sears, but the people were persistent. I finally asked them what they wanted, and they told me that the person who was sitting in my seat before me had shat herself, and I was now sitting in it. Take a moment, let that thought sink in.

I stood up, and the people laughed at me. I got off the bus at the next stop, and headed back home to throw away my clothes. Ironically enough, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t wash them, since my washing machine is still broken. At this point I was still on the phone with the woman at Sears, who had relentlessly taken the position to not help me. I stood in my dining room and implored that she find me an appointment for tomorrow, while stripping off my ruined clothes, and she told me she had to put me on hold while she called someone. I asked her if she could call me back, since I didn’t want to be on hold, I wanted to get naked as quickly as possible and being on the phone with her was impeding that. Then she told me that she “couldn’t guarantee me a call back.” And I lost it.

What really through me over the edge (besides the shit, that obviously didn’t help matters), was that she was refusing to help me. Sure, Sears may have a stance that they don’t guarantee people a call back, but that woman, Mindy or something like that, could have given me, a human being, her person guarantee that she would help me. And she didn’t. And I told her that, and she still didn’t budge. She finally relented that she could have the dispatch center call me back. So I hung up.

I threw out my clothes, got changed as fast as I could, and decided that I would bike to my appointment. It was the only way that I was going to make it. I had been unsure about biking because I haven’t had my one-month follow up visit with my knee surgeon yet (today is one month, yay!!). His general stance was that as I healed I should “not go crazy,” but who knows what that actually means. Was riding my bike 2 miles each way going crazy? I wasn’t sure, but I had to get to Center City, and I had no intentions of getting back on the bus.

Surprise, surprise, while I was in my appointment the dispatch people did not call me back. Alex called Sears when he got home at 4:00 p.m. to see if they could still come today, and they told him that they could. Alas, at 4:55 p.m. they called to say that the technician couldn’t make it to our house today, but they can come next Friday, which is completely unacceptable. I’m not going to wait a week, which means another trip to the Laundromat, and take a vacation day because they were incompetent. I called them when I got home and got the money we’d prepaid for the service back, and told them that I’ll never do business with them again.

Now I’m telling the world, I will never do business with Sears again. They were rude, incompetent and unhelpful.

Also, I may never take the bus again; I may have some serious PTSD after the shit incident.

All of that being said, it wasn’t a bad day. I got to ride my bike for the first time since my surgery, it’s a gorgeous day in Philadelphia, and now I’m going to go out with my husband, who I just celebrated my second wedding anniversary with this week.

Have a great weekend!

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Wordless Wednesday: 1st 13.1 – 9/16/2007

23 May

Image

History Lesson: Part 1

20 May

I know it’s been a while since my last post.  My goal is to write two to three times per week, and I have already missed that goal. C’est la vie, each week offers us the ability to start fresh, and to begin anew.  When I was brainstorming for this post, my first thought was to tell you about my 2012 running goals, but then I realized that we should not venture into the future without first looking at the past.  Before moving forward it is important to know where you have been.   

I vividly remember running in my middle school gym class. We were sent out to run around the field, and I’m pretty sure that the goal was to run a mile.  The gym teachers stood at the finish with their stopwatches timing us.  I remember thinking that it was so hard, that running wasn’t for me, and possibly that my teachers were sadists.  I also remember that there was a girl in my class that ran that mile in around six minutes.  What I don’t remember is how fast I ran that mile.  Judging by the fact that I thought the teachers were sadists, I’m pretty sure that it was nowhere near six minutes.  It was at least twice that.  And I hated it. 

Instead of attempting to improve, I gave up.  Running wasn’t for me I decided (neither was any form of physical activity for that matter).  I half assed by way through gym class, and focused by efforts on art and academics, things that “mattered” in my mind.  Physical fitness wasn’t going to get me anywhere, so it didn’t deserve my attention. Especially since I seemingly was quite the opposite of physically fit.  

That decision, coupled with my love of all things related to eating (and drinking), is probably how I wound up weighing 220 pounds.  For those of you who don’t know me, I am 5’11, so 220 pounds on me isn’t morbidly obese, but it’s still not pretty…or healthy.  I’ll devote another post to describing how I lost 50 pounds (I eventually gained 27 pounds back, and recently lost 18 pounds of that: insert yoyo diet comment here), just know that coming to the realization that I was unhealthy was instrumental in my decision to find a place for physical fitness in my life.

In 2007, when my husband was still my boyfriend and we had been together for less than a year I went to visit my great-uncle in Taiwan.  On my way back to the States I had to layover in Seattle, so I did what any traveler does, I bought a random magazine at Hudson News.  That magazine changed my life.  What was it you ask?  Runners World.  While flipping through the magazine on my way to Newark I saw a full-page ad for the Philadelphia Distance Run, a half marathon in my hometown.  I was inspired, and exhilarated, and possibly a little crazy.  I decided that Alex and I would become half-marathoners and told him so almost immediately upon getting back to our house in State College, PA. 

My trip was in May, and the race was in September.  That gave us roughly four months to get ready.  I bought a book and started reading up on running.  There are very few things in life that I jump into without first researching fully.  I am, after all, the adult who taught herself how to knit with a book from the library called, “Kids Can Knit.” The book I bought came with a training schedule, so I made a copy of it and posted it on our wall, and we crossed off our workouts as we completed them. 

I’d like to say that we trained super hard, and were ready to rock and roll come race day, but unfortunately that wasn’t quite the case.  Our longest training run was eight miles, which is respectable, if I had actually run the whole thing.  A great deal of my training consisted of running and walking. Don’t get me wrong, that is a great method to ramp up your physical fitness level, but probably not the best way to be ready to run a half marathon.  The fact that I couldn’t run eight miles during training probably should have been a clue that I wasn’t ready.  Another clue that I wasn’t ready should have been when my running shoe guy, Terry, told me that he didn’t think that I was ready. 

Of course I eschewed all of those obvious signs and lined up at the starting line of my first half marathon.  It took me 3 hours and 15 minutes to finish it.  I ran a small portion of the race, and walked the rest.  I did finish, and I took great honor in that, but I left disappointed that I didn’t run the race.  When I gave a recap of the event to Terry the shoe guy he told me that my race sounded painful.  He was right, not only was the race physically painful, as moving yourself for 3 hours and 15 minutes is no easy feat, but it was emotionally painful.  I felt like I failed. 

I hung up my running shoes and didn’t lace up again until 2010…more history in the next post! 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Progress

9 May

4/27/2012

5/9/2012

PT 411

8 May

I’ve been promising a physical therapy recap, since well, when I started physical therapy. So let’s do it!

Before we scheduled the surgery Dr. Carey outlined the projected recovery process. I’d be walking a few days after the surgery, and I’d start physical therapy as soon as possible. Once I started PT I would go for twice per week for three weeks, and then once per week for an additional three weeks. More importantly I could start running (and biking, playing soccer, etcetera and so forth) between four and five weeks after the surgery. So physical therapy for six weeks, and at week four-five I can start to run again. That was pretty much all I took away from the conversation.

I started physical therapy last Tuesday, which was four days after the surgery. My physical therapist is pretty much amazing. Or at least, I think she is, and that’s what counts, right? She’s offered the right amount of support, while still pushing me to work hard. And she gets my sense of humor, which is essential. My first visit was mostly a “meet and greet,” you know, between Allison and my knee. We tested my range of motion, which was apparently rather impressive, and then outlined what needed work.

During this first visit I learned some fascinating tidbits about anatomy and physiology. Apparently, what we are working on has little to do with my knee itself; it seems it will do just fine on its own. Our goal is to rebuild my quadriceps muscles. It seems that any sort of trauma or swelling to your knee region deactivates, or shuts down, your quads, like that (imagine I just snapped my fingers). It explained a lot. Most of the issue I was having with walking was not as much pain in my knee as it was weakness in my leg. Talk about an “ah ha” moment. At my first visit even doing simple leg lifts was difficult, so difficult in fact I was afraid that I was just generally weak. I tried the lifts with my left leg and had no issue, so we’re safe.

At this point I’ve completed three of my nine PT sessions, and I can see some improvement. We start out with a warm up, my first two sessions I rode the stationary bike for a while and yesterday I got to rock out on the elliptical. After the warm up we check back in on my range of motion to ensure that is improving, and then I get to do more leg lifts. I mostly follow Allison around the gym and do as I’m told. Which can include standing on one leg and throwing a ball against a trampoline, doing squats on a balance board, or doing leg presses on a weight machine. Once the circuit is done I get to lie on a bed for 10 minutes with a bag of ice on my knee and reflect on the world around me…or play Draw Something on my iPhone, whichever seems more entertaining at the time.

Generally, in terms of strength, I think we’re seeing progress. In terms of pain in my knee, however, today it hurt more than it has in about a week. I am displeased with what I see as a setback, and also concerned in a paranoid “I broke it!” sort of way. But as people have reminded me several times today when I whined about being in pain, “I just had surgery.” Which reminds me of something my husband often says to me, “patience is a virtue…which you don’t have.”

Do you have any PT stories, good or bad?

Broad Street Recap

7 May

Yesterday was the 33rd Annual Broad Street Run! While I will still whole-heartedly say that I am disappointed to not have participated as a runner this year, I am completely serious when I say that I had a great time as a spectator. My amazing husband, Alexei, competed in Broad Street for the first time yesterday morning. I decided that if I couldn’t run the race myself, that it was my wifely duty to support Alex in his quest to tackle the 10 miles of Broad Street ahead of him. We started our adventure Saturday by picking up our race packets (I picked up my bib and t-shirt as a consolation prize and memento for the year that I finally got serious enough about running to get my knee fixed) at the race expo and finished up at the finish line in the Philadelphia Navy Yard yesterday.

I love race expos; the runners, the energy, the swag, the running gear for sale, it all gets me going. All that being said, the expo for the BSR kind of sucked. Instead of holding the event at the Convention Center, which is pretty standard for running events in Philadelphia, they held it at Lincoln Financial Field. Logistically, it was a hot mess. They held the event on the concourse of the stadium, on the third (or fourth, I lost count) floor, and didn’t use the entire concourse. The line to get into the stadium was long and unmoving, and it continued that way all the way up the three levels. Other negatives about the expo: the concourse was crowded making shopping difficult, t-shirts and bibs were given out separately causing some confusion, and other than the t-shirt there was no swag. Positives about the expo: being around so many runners, feeling the excitement, and finding out my body fat level at the Independence Blue Cross exhibit.

On to the race itself! We got up at 6:30 and got dressed in our running gear. I wore my craziest running outfit for two reasons: A. even if I couldn’t run the race I was getting in the spirit and B. I wanted Alex to be able to spot me on the sidelines easily. This called for blue spandex pants with lime green swirls, a bright orange tech tee, and a lime green long sleeve running shirt. We pinned Alex’s race number to his shirt, and packed up the day’s necessities into my backpack. After toasting our cinnamon raisin bagels and smearing them with peanut butter we were out the door.

All of the racers were encouraged to use public transportation (we would have anyway, go green!) so the subway was full to capacity and then some. After our 25 minute subway ride we arrived at the starting line, and met up with fellow runners Amy and Heather. It was time to get Alex to his corral, do some stretches, take some pictures and wait for the “Runners up!” While standing around in his corral for a bit I realized that we were standing next to my former co-worker, Malika, who I haven’t seen in three years, small world! I gave Alex one last kiss and ran (figuratively) off the starting line so I could see him cross and send him on his way. Unfortunately, I did not spot him in the hordes of people crossing the starting line. I did, however, see my coworker’s husband, Dave, and chatted with Mayor Nutter while he high-fived all of the runners!

Once all of the runners crossed the starting line I was off myself. It was a race against Alex; only instead of running I had the unfair advantage of the Broad Street Subway line. I had a plan setup where I would see Alex at the Susquehanna stop (I had hoped to meet up with my coworker, Michelle), then again at the Ellsworth-Federal stop (where I would hang with my friend Sarah who was cheering on the Students Run Philly Style participants!), and finally meet up with him at the finish. Unfortunately, the subway had other plans. I realized that Alex was going to beat me to Susquehanna, so I stayed on the subway for one more stop and got off at Cecil B. Moore, which meant missing Michelle. I waited at Cecil B. Moore for a while, and grew anxious that I missed Alex here too. I was about to get on the subway when I saw him trucking up the street! We high-fived and I jumped back on the Orange Line to follow his progress.

My next stop was Race-Vine where I found Michelle and her adorable little boys, Nolan and Russell! We waited on the sidelines hoping to see her husband Dave. We were bummed when it became clear that Dave had beaten us to the stop. Once again right as we were getting ready to jump back on the subway Alex came along the course! Another high-five and good luck, and he was on his way. Our cheering squad headed for the underground with high hopes of beating the husbands to the finish. My next stop was going to be Ellsworth-Federal to find Sarah, and help her hold signs and cheer, but that silly subway was unrelentingly non-cooperative. After waiting for what felt like eons for the train I had to abandon my plan to stop again to head to the finish line.

Not only was the finish line was a solid mile from the last subway stop, but there were crowds like I never expected. With the mix of spectators and racers who had already finished the race I felt like a salmon swimming upstream. The crowd was completely against me, but I was determined to beat Alex to the finish line. I dodged and I weaved, and I may have perhaps run a tiny bit (shh!). It was worth it though; I beat Alex to the finish line by maybe three minutes! He was all smiles when he saw me at the end.

On the whole, the day was a great success. Alex did not run his best race, in fact quite a bit of it was not run, but walked. That being said, he finished, and he had fun. While I didn’t get to run at all, I had a great time traversing our city, and supporting my dearest one. We hobbled home together at the end of the festivities.

When all was said and done yesterday, I think I covered about 4 miles on foot myself. I’d love to say that my knee took it like a champ, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m feeling it today. My knee is stiff and a little sore. I can still walk without a limp, and I still mastered the subway steps this morning, but I can feel the after effects of being on my feet for too long yesterday. This intermediate phase is super frustrating. I don’t feel bad enough to stay in bed, but I’m definitely not back up to snuff yet. So I’m getting antsy. I’ll get there though. In fact, I’ve already started planning out my summer/fall race schedule in preparation, stay tuned for the details!

Recovery and Rehabilitation

3 May

The title of this post makes it sound so intense, but I am happy to report that my recovery thus far has been phenomenal! So a quick rehash of the past six days.

Friday – Surgery Day!
Saturday – Whoa mama, my knee hurts! Percocet is my friend.
Sunday – Percocet and I are still buddies, but we’re not hanging out quite as often. By Sunday night, Percocet and I said our goodbyes, and the crutches are thrown by the way side. Even better news, I ditched the GIANT bandage that went from my mid-thigh to my foot.
Monday – I am walking with a minor limp, and Aspirin is my only pain reliever. Stairs up are no problem, and stairs down are only slightly troublesome.
Tuesday – First day of Physical Therapy! I rode a bike for 5 minutes, did like 8,000 leg lifts, and got hooked up to an electric current machine to stimulate my quadriceps (that was weird!).
Wednesday – First day back to work. Figured out how to attach an ice bag to my pant leg with a chip clip. Took the bus to and from work to avoid the subway stairs.
Thursday – Took the subway and the trolley this morning and owned the stairs, both up and down! Back to PT this afternoon, and I see my surgeon for my first follow up appointment.

So far I’ve been absolutely amazed by the progression. My recovery has been super-fast and with the exception of Saturday morning into Sunday morning almost pain free. My knee is still stiff and swollen, and I can tell that the strength in my right leg (especially those quads!) has significantly decreased. I am not blind to the fact that I have a bit of a road to recovery ahead of me, but thankfully it seems more like a dirt path than a highway!

Hopefully at my follow-up visit this afternoon the doctor willl still be on board with me returning to running in three weeks! I will update you all this evening with his stance on the matter.

Keep on pounding the pavement!