Check

I haven’t written in forever. So here’s an update.

I trained, and trained, and trained for the half marathon. The longest I ran before race day was 8.5 miles. I got sick with two separate week-long illnesses (one cold and one flu) during training. I hoped that the excitement and flow of race day would get me though. And it did! That and having Emily and Matt my cousins, and my bff Suzi at my side. Emily and I ran the entire thing together. I would have finished by myself, but I wouldn’t have done it before they officially closed the course. At the 7 or 8 mile mark, Suzi sped-the-heck up and went for gold. Matt stayed with one of our group-mates, Ayla, while she slowed down. Emily and I toughed it out together, walking the hills and running the straights with our identical buzz cuts.

I could tell tell Emily started to struggle at mile 10. The only thing that hurt for me was my arms, where the insides were chafing against my sports bra. No side ache, no knee or foot pain, so I couldn’t really complain. I did my best to coach Emily to mile 12 with my brand of running ‘coping methods.’ I had us run to certain signs, count our strides, and provided ample words of encouragement. We walked approximately 1-2 total miles between miles 9 and 12. I really wanted to run the last mile. I didn’t know if I could get Emily there myself, so I asked Matt to talk us through the last 1.1 miles. He did a great job. He extremely encouraging without pushing us to the limit.

Matt, Emily, and I crossed the finish line together. It was a great feeling. My time was 2:47. Here are all of my other stats. Also proof that I finished. It made me a little sad to see that out of 1154 runners, I finished 1121. That’s ahead of a whole 33 runners. It doesn’t count the people that didn’t finish at all (which I estimate at 30-50 people), or the people who finished after the 3:00 hour mark (which was maybe another 10-25). But it’s still a little embarrassing.

Here is the progression of half-marathon goals from January to race day:
1. Finish it by any means possible.
2. Run more than half of it.
3. Finish in under 3 hours and 30 minutes.
4. Finish in under 3 hours (when I found out that the official course was closed at the 3 hour mark).

I achieved goal #4 which means I achieved all of the other goals. This was all after waking up on Friday morning with a sore throat. I consumed my body weight in Emergen-C (which didn’t do anything at all) and hopped myself up on DayQuil, pseudoephedrine, and Vitamin I (a.k.a. ibuprofen) on the morning of race day. I felt fine/normal during the race, but rapidly declined in health afterwards.

I was extremely sore and felt a general sense of malaise for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday. On Monday I knew something was wrong when, in the evening, I got a major case of the chills. My temperature topped out at 103 degrees on Monday night. I had the flu. I’m glad it didn’t keep me from running the race, but it was the 4th time I’ve been sick this school year (which is how anyone who works at schools counts the number of times they get sick).

I can’t say I ever want to run a half marathon again, but if the cousins would be down, I’d do the same race again next year. We had a Grade A group of cheer-er-on-ers. Mama Linda, Papa Paul, auntie Laura, uncle Frank (also race day photographer) sister Beth, cousins Maggie and NIck, friend Jenny, and wiener dogs Pippa and Nico cheered us on at 4 (or 5?) different points on the course. It was awesome.

I’ve had no knee or back pain, which is common among the runners in my family, but am experiencing some plantar fasciitis type symptoms in my right outer-heel. I feel a bruise-like pain toward the outside of my inner heel in the mornings. It goes away after 5-10 minutes of walking around, but is back the next morning like clockwork. I am also experiencing some bruise-like pain on the top of that same foot, which probably has something to do with the tendons. I’m resting it–hard. I haven’t run or engaged in any strenuous activity since the race on April 17th. I’m going to give it 6 full weeks before I think about taking up running again.

Diabetes wise–here is low down.
I woke up on race day at 179, which was good. I ate greek yogurt with berries and granola. I only bolused for the carbs–not to correct the 179. I completely suspended my insulin for the entire duration of the race (3 hours). 10 minutes after finishing, my blood sugar was 116.

I resumed my regular basal program about 30 minutes after the race’s end, thinking my sugar would continue to drop. I went home and took a 2 hour nap. When I woke up I was at about 389. I corrected, ate lunch and bolused for the carbs. I went back to sleep, and when I woke up the second time, I was at 410. I gave an actual injection of insulin and started consuming lots of water. It eventually came down into the 250s, and by the time I went to bed was back down in the 100s. I think the stress hormones and all the other chemicals in my body had something to do with the major rebound afterward. Next time (if there is one), I will be watching far more closely after the race. I had more fear that I would go low, but I knew there was a good chance I’d end up high.

I’m still alive and kicking, and looking forward to achieving the next goal I set for myself.
Whatever that may be.

Fresh

Almost all of my things are in boxes or bins for the short move to my new one bedroom apartment one suburb over. With help from mamabird and daddy, and other friends, I hope to have everything moved on Tuesday, and be unpacked by the end of the week.

I will very much miss my current place. It’s so open. My master bedroom is huge. But there is a lot of unused space here. The living room is cavernous, but almost never filled with people. The guest room is great, but people stay over less than once a month.

My new place is smaller, and more expensive (since I will not have a room mate with which to split the cost). It is on the main floor, however, with a walk out to grass. This will make Nico very happy. It doesn’t much like bounding up or down the two flights of stairs at our current place. He usually waits to be carried up (which I call giving him a transport). It’s a dog friendly complex with an off leash dog park on the grounds, so I hope we meet other dogs and humans with which to be friends.

Transitions are only as bad as they last. Soon I will be at home at the new place, and onto the next hill to overcome.

Everything’s Up

I had an appointment with my interim diabetes practitioner on Friday afternoon. Dr. K is on mama-leave with her kids, so I’m seeing PA. L, who is an endocrinology physician’s assistant. I had my labs done and everything is up including the a1c. It’s now at 7.4. As much as I’d like to blame it on the Freestyle test strip recall, it’s also due to guessing on carb counts at lunch everyday and eating too many treats at work. We made small changes to my basal rates, bolus rates, and correction factor, but two mornings in a row, I’ve gone low at the all day correction factor of 22. Between 6am and 9am it should probably be closer to 25. It all feels like one big test of trial and error, but at least the snow is melting.

I also donated a pack of unused Levemir pens to the clinic, along with 100 or so used pen needles. Just kidding. They had not been used. They were sealed and all. Since I use a pump, I don’t have a need for the long acting insulin. It’s been sitting patiently in my refrigerator since two Octobers ago. The expiration date is August 2014, so I figured I should let some living being get use out of it before it goes to waste.

I contacted a twin cities dog rescue, and they told me they would be happy to take it. Dogs use the same long acting insulin as humans, albeit in smaller amounts. I noticed there was a diabetic doxie on their site named Junior Mint, and emailed them letting them know that I would be happy to donate the insulin to be used for any dog that needed it, and that if a family adopted a diabetic dog that I would be more than fine with them taking the insulin to ease the initial cost of the adoption.

After consulting my ever wise and patient sister, Beth, I decided I should offer it to the nurse educators at my endocrinology clinic for human use. They have an ’emergency supplies’ area for patients who are in between insurances, aren’t/weren’t covered for health insurance, or don’t have enough money for their prescriptions even if they were covered. The clinic happily accepted it, and I feel good today knowing that the insulin I donated will keep someone from having to urinate 46 times a day, blurred vision, headaches, and a general feeling of malaise.

Breakthrough

I’m now reading Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg’s Breakthrough, described by the cover jacket as the “heartwarming true story of the discovery of insulin,” which in reality is rather the opposite of heartwarming.

Type 1 diabetic Elizabeth Hughes is 11 years old and weighs just 45lbs, put on a starvation diet to keep her metabolism in balance just long enough for a Canadian doctor called Banting to ligate the pancreatic ducts of a dog and extract what magical serum he could from the Islets of Langerhans. A magical serum that he would later use to lower the blood sugar in other diabetic dogs.

The most striking part so far has been the admission of Banting that, had he been more familiar with the literature on the extraction of insulin (which documented failure after failure after failure), he would not have pursued his idea to ligate a dog’s pancreas and try to collect insulin at all.

Had he not experimented on those dogs at the time, it could have been decades longer until someone did, and decades after that until someone else figured out how to synthesize insulin in labs and get it effectively to those who needed it. It’s not to say I’d be directly affected by Banting ‘not trying’ but it’s certainly interesting to think about all of the things we haven’t done, or made, or discovered, just because we were afraid of all of the failures that came before us.

Tramadol

After Nico’s surgery, he was prescribed Tramadol. I knew it was for pain, and to keep him comfortable, but I didn’t know how strong of a main medicine it was until I did a little reading on it.

I’ve noticed that he’s been acting a little peculiar–putting himself in the kennel, sleeping, and quivering when I hold him (almost like he’s cold). My guess is that he is as high as a kite. He has been getting 25mg every 8 hours. The bottle does say 8-12 hours as needed, so maybe I ought to scale him back a little bit.

The problem is he can’t really tell me if he’s still in pain, and I don’t want him to be uncomfortable. It does seem to help in keeping him zonked out and relatively calm/still. I guess I’ll just keep an eye on him. The woes of motherhood.

In other news, I tore some bad blisters on my hands the last time we did pull ups at the gym. I’ve never had my blisters tear before, and didn’t really realize how painful they are. I’ve been keeping triple antibiotic goo on them constantly, otherwise they open up when I open my hands. Washing my hair is pitifully difficult. It burns! I sure hope Nico and I heal up soon.

Nico 2.0

Nico, my mom, and I are back in Minnesota in one piece. On July 23rd, Nico had his percutaneous laser disc ablation surgery at Oklahoma State University. The surgery went well, and Dr. Murphy let us know that they achieved the desired result…she blew up his jelly donuts!

Nico had 8 of his lumbar discs ‘ablated” by a laser. Dr. Murphy described each disc as a jelly donut with a doughy outside and a jelly inside. When a disc herniates, the jelly pops and oozes out of the doughy part where it’s supposed to stay. The laser hardens the jelly part so that it stays where it’s supposed to–inside the dough.

Nico looks like frankenstein only because they shaved his left side. He has no stitches, and the only visible sign of surgery are 8 tiny little dots that run parallel to his spine. So now that he’s had a system upgrade, he’s Nico 2.0!

My Nico

This coming July 22nd, Nico has his laser disc ablation surgery in at Oklahoma State Small Animal Hospital in Stillwater, Oklahoma. My mom and I will be road-tripping it there with Nico on Sunday the 21st. I hope it prevents him from ever herniating a disc again, or at least keeps him from sustaining neurological damage if a disc does herniate.

What is a dog?

I always knew I wanted a dog, but why? I never had a dog. My family members didn’t have dogs.  I didn’t watch Lassie or read stories about kids with dogs. But I remember loving them as long as I’ve known what a dog was. These creatures, 4-legged, generous, and faithful. They will always have my heart.

With Two

I’m sitting in bed with two dogs at my feet. Nico is at his regular post–the edge of the bed closest to the door, and Pippa is sprawled out horizontally across the end of bed. There isn’t a whole lot of room left for me, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Nico went in for another re-check today. Dr. Wood agreed with me that he has remained stable for the most part. She thought she saw some improvement in his gait, but that there wasn’t any reason not to go ahead with the LDA surgery in Oklahoma. I scheduled it with the OK State veterinary hospital for July 22nd. Oklahoma here we come!

Nico isn’t 100% back to his old self–but I’ll take it. He isn’t ‘wobbly’ per se, but he does walk a little funny. His back feet hit closer to his midline when we walks almost like he’s pigeon-toed. Interestingly, he looks completely fine when he trots or runs.  The best thing is that he’s not in any pain. We’re on week 7 of kennel rest, but it’s gone a little by the wayside. We’re letting him walk to get stronger, but discouraging the use of stairs and jumping on beds and furniture. He’s also getting physical therapy in the pool, which really just means we make him swim around the outside a couple of times with breaks in between each loop.

Initially when I brought Nico in to the vet, when his legs were all tucked in and he was pulling himself around like a seal, Dr. Wood told me that if it were her pet that she’d have the neurosurgery (that costs $7,000.00). Her vet clinic had no money to be made by choosing the neurosurgery route (she would have had to refer to the University of Minnesota), but here is no way I could afford that. I felt very guilty walking out of the hospital that day with Nico in one arm and a bag of prescription drugs in the other. I’m not sure Dr. Wood expected Nico to heal the way he did with conservative treatment, but I hope that she’ll pass on Nico’s story to the next dogs she sees with herniated discs.

Confident

Nico has been getting more and more confident about doing the things he think he is able to do and especially the things he is not allowed to do. As my coach Rob wisely said, “sounds like a dog.”

Nico has been jumping off the bed in the night, and it greatly concerns me because it’s how he injured himself in the first place. He just cries all night if he has to be in the kennel…so the middle ground is that I put my mattress directly on the floor. The mattress used to only be on the box spring, no frame or anything, but it was still too high for that suspension bridge back.

We’re all in bed now–Nico, Pippa, and myself. No one is going to roll out or jump off and hurt themselves. We’re all safe and close to the ground.

History

Nico is a pretty important part of my life, if you haven’t already guessed. I suppose if I’m willing to drive to Oklahoma to have a cutting edge surgery on him, I can’t completely hate him.

I got Nico when I was in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. My roommate and her family were dog lovers and enthusiasts–particularly of malteses. Her father was having his hair cut one day and the barber/stylist told him that her daughter had a dachshund puppy that she was looking to rehome. My roommate’s dad said that their family would take it and find a home for it. So he drove to a neighboring city and picked up the puppy. My roommate and I drove from Pittsburgh to Columbus one Friday night to get him.

He was pretty wiggly when I first met him. He was very excited, and probably scared. He tried jumping all over my roommate’s small maltese. It was late at night, and we all needed sleep, and I remember sharing a bed with my roommate, her little white dog, and Nico. Nico fell asleep right on top of me, but I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I spent it petting him, and thinking how scary and awesome it was all at once to have this little creature as my own.

I was not allowed to have dogs growing up. My papa can sometimes be a rigid thinker. He considered a dog to be too much responsibility. He wanted a nice lawn. He didn’t want the dog to bother neighbors. All valid concerns. So I was allowed to have bunnies. First came Sugar. Then Luna. But it wasn’t like having a dog. Even though I had never had a dog, I knew it wasn’t the same. The bunnies were always wild. They would allow themselves to be held and pet, but when it came down to it–they were wild animals. They would not be ‘walked’ on leashes, did not preform tricks, and certainly would not cuddle or sleep with me for more than 10 minutes. I know some bunnies do all of those things, but even with lots of socialization, mine never learned to tolerate them.

I had expectations for Nico, and he pretty quickly surpassed them. I taught him most everything he knows. He wasn’t trained when he came to me, but I have to attribute his temperament to his dad, Vivian Moo Moo Campbell (called Viv), a longhaired piebald. I know this because Nico came with his CKC registration papers. He got his black and tan from his mama, Nikki.

Anyway, Nico wiggled his way into my heart pretty fast. I always knew I was a dog person, but my parents didn’t know they were, too. Not until they spent a month with Nico after graduation. My dad would come to my room and get Nico in the mornings when he woke up (about 6 hours before I did). My mom liked to snuggle with him in the evenings after work. And before we knew it, we all went to a farm in Paynesville and brought home Pippa.

Nico is a great dog, and I hope to keep him around for another 15 years. He’s at 85-90% mobility right now, and I think there’s even more healing to come. It would be a miracle if I can get to OK State to have the laser disc ablation surgery for him. It won’t fix any damage that happened this time, but it could/should prevent any future herniations (the reoccurrence rate for disc herniations in dogs is 30% without intervention).

In thinking about the risks and benefits of owning a breed with a genetic condition, I know I’d take a dog as sweet as Nico with a back problem over a less friendly dachshund (or other dog) without a back problem. I don’t resent caring for him or listening to him cry at night in the kennel. I guess it’s a little like being a parent. I’m happy to care for him in both sickness and health. Although I wouldn’t marry him. He can’t zip up little black dresses, open tight salsa cans, or hold down steady, gainful employment.

Right now he’s curled up on the chair like a tortellini noodle and I’m feeling thankful. After a rough day today, and another rough one to come, I can only feel thankful right now. That he’s alive, healing, and mine.