Monthly Archives: July 2007

7/31/07 Dream Bigger

Physical status report.  Sleep is difficult.  Back hurts.  Ribs still hurt.  Have to sleep sitting up.  Good news is arm is getting significantly better every day.  Was able to do several arm exercises yesterday — not the number of reps I wanted to do but I did them with no assist.  I think another week and my arm will be all there.  Hit 1,500 on the Breath Volume machine.  That was good.  Calf, strangley still hurting.  What could that be?  Did I rip a muscle?  Tiger balm having minor effect on it.  I would say I feel a smidge of improvement each day — like 1% so from 100% injured I now feel 89% injured.  Incredibly optimistic that by next week I’ll feel all better.  Have nothing to support that but how long can bones take anyway? 

Mental status report.  I’m spending a lot of time thinking and mulling. Mulling and thinking. Asking myself a lot of questions.  Arguing with the answers. (Who is that annoying little voice who answers those questions anyway?  And why does he sound like Yoda?)

If you really want to know the answer to a question sit quietly in a room with no distraction, ask the question and listen for the answer.  It’s not always the answer you want to hear but usually it’s the right answer.  The trick is to wait long enough.  Go ahead, try it.  Ask “why am I overweight?” “Why can’t I find a job?”  “Why does my boss hate me?”  “Why am I ____?” “Why am I tired?”  “What should I do?”   Ask one question.  Sit quietly and wait for the answer.  Keep repeating just the one question.  It may seem like a long time, but the answer will come. Now the trick is what do you do with that answer?  Do you ignore it or do you listen to it and take action?

 Since the accident I’ve been hearing lots of comments.  Foremost I hear “but why you?  of ALL people, why you?  This meant so much to you.”  (Like it didn’t mean that much to EVERYONE out there that day?)   I have also had several people say to me “well, in my mind you ARE an Ironman.” (Really?  Then you didn’t get what it was about in the first place.)  But what I am hearing more and more is “so exactly when will you be back to work?”  Lol, sympathy runs only so deep when there are databases to build and websites to design.  Yeah, yeah, I hear them say we’re really sad for you, now would you mind looking at this code string?  Talk about a drop down to reality.

First of all I want to say I am NOT an Ironman.  I have too much respect for the people who worked hard and managed to navigate ALL of the pitfalls of doing such a race.  Lots of people put in Ironman intentions but part of the game is showing up, navigating all obstacles, finishing within the time allocated.  Otherwise no go.  That’s what makes it more special when you DO finish — because not everyone can.  You don’t win a tennis match because you were up Ad-In — you have to close it out.  It’s like saying “well as far as I’m concerned you graduated college even though you have one incomplete on your record.”  Hey you don’t get the sheep’s skin until you finish the requirements and you don’t get to call yourself an Ironman until you’ve crossed the finish line before midnight.  You don’t get the point if the ball goes through the hoop after the buzzer. Those are the rules, that’s the game.  I don’t want to take anything away from the people I respect so much because they have fought to finish.

So why me?  One of my friends wrote me that she cried when she heard the news.  She couldn’t understand what purpose there would be in having this happen to me.  “You worked so hard” she bemoaned “it’s just not fair.”  To this I offer the profundity — Sheet Happens.  It’s not whether or not crappy things are going to happen to you in life — I’ll guarantee that they are — it’s what you do when they happen that counts.  You look at people all over the world living in poverty and dieing in wars and they’ll not understand one lick of what a DNF in an Ironman means.  After explaining it in detail they are more likely to respond, “So let’s get this straight, you had enough money and time to train for a very self-indulgent sport, got lots of exercise in, travelled around, made friends and you are upset because you didn’t cross the finish line?”  That’s really a hard thing to explain to someone in Rwanda.  It’s a game.  It’s for fun…  As one of my teammates said to me “I take terrorism seriously, I don’t take an Ironman that seriously.”

 So then back to the question, why me?  Only I can have the answer and I think I have the answer.  Because I took it too seriously.  I made the Ironman something it should not be — an obsession.  An Ironman is just a race.  I made it into something bigger, a symbol of who I would be when I completed it.  Boy did I get my triathlon shorts handed to me.  As I am sure many people can attest, after the Ironman, the world keeps spinning, mortgage payments continue to be due and people get get in their cars and still go to work the next day.  I can’t help but wonder if the Universe was trying to slap me down a notch.  Trying to tell me to not take myself so seriously.  Telling me it is time to think bigger — more broadly — Do some charity work, save Darfur, for God’s sake please think about something else!!!  I think most of my compatriots had a lot more realistic vision of what doing the Ironman meant in their lives.  I made it bigger than it was supposed to be.  It’s a sport.  It’s for fun.

So that’s why I think “it” happened.  I was out of focus.  Now I feel like I am regaining focus and I’m a little embarassed by how much I let myself get carried away by the obsession.  Triathlon is just one aspect of my life.  It’s what I do inbetween life’s real challenges.  Time to put triathlon, fitness, Ironman, Weight Loss in perspective.  Time to contemplate what is important and what do I need to do to help make the world a better place?  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m more determined than ever to finish the Ironman but now it’s not some epic journey — now it’s a task that will be completed along the way to many more.  I will still train hard, I will give it my best effort and I will cross that finish line, but when all is said and done, I realize now that having someone call me an Ironman is simply not enough.  As Oprah says when someone comes on the show and says “it’s been my life dream to meet you,” she’ll respond “it’s time to dream bigger.”

 I’m proud of my friends who did a great job on race day.  I think they really did accomplish something great — not everybody can say they put in the training and time and final execution to complete this feat.  But I was proud of them before they became Ironmen — I was proud of who they were as people when they got out of bed in the morning.  The Ironman is just icing on the cake.


Some more race day pix.  Here I am talking to some of my teammates before the swim.


 Suck it in!  Starting to look a little more nervous….


 All tucked in.  Thumbs up.  Time to go…  Don’t believe that confident smirk for a second!


My face says it all here.  “Help me!!”  Next year I won’t have to be this nervous, thank God!!


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7/30/2007 Butterfly in the Garden

Monday. Had to sleep in chair last night. Bed is too uncomfortable and unpredictable. I need to sleep sitting up. Was suprised to find that not only is it harder on my back to lie back, but it is harder to breathe. The doctor warned me that sometimes the lung collapses again but I don’t think that is my problem I think it is the rib that gets in the way of deeper breathing and reclined breathing.

I have to be honest. Choked back a couple of tears this morning as I hobbled toward the backyard like an old lady. Was it really only a week ago that I felt in good enough shape to do an Ironman?   The comparison made me sad and without permission a few tears escaped. I had to keep saying six weeks, six weeks — that’s really nothing, it will go by so fast. Then I took a Vidadin and didn’t feel anywhere near as terrible.

I’m trying to allocate my medicine out for every 6 hours — 9 and 3. The prescription says I can take every 4 hours but then I find I am just sleeping way too much. Yesterday I walked around our back field twice. Funny that now I can look at it and think that definitely we could fit the 400 meter track in the field and that’s what I imagined I was walking around. I make it around once and then have to sit. So if I can do it three times today, that will be good. I follow it up with some arm exercises.

 This morning I was able to make a fist with my right hand and do a bicep curl unassisted by my other arm!!  That was the first time since the accident that I could move my forearm unassisted. (I have been able to use my fingers, but I had to put my forearm in place first.)So I’m concentrating on the progress. Yesterday no forearm use. Today forearm use. Everything still hurts but I broke bones so what do I expect?

I spent a little time thinking about two people this morning.  First person was Matt, a friend from St. A’s from 2004, who was in a terrible accident during the 2005 NYC transit strike.  A bus ran him over while he was riding and pretty much crushed all of his bones.  Over a  year later and he is still fighting toward recovery — and I mean fighting every step of the way — but he is winning! My injuries don’t even begin to compare to his. He has maintained such a powerfully positive outlook. What casue do I have to sniffle because I can’t go for a swim or bike or my bones creak a little more than usual? At least I can walk.

 The other person I thought about a lot this morning was Cindy, a teammate who lost her life earlier in the season. I never wrote about Cindy because it was just too raw to think about, never mind write about. But this morning I couldn’t help but think of her and how spirited she was — always a plan of action, something to work towards, active and moving. No pity party there. So as I wiped away some tears I thought of her and said, that’s what I need is a plan. Cindy wouldn’t sit here feeling sorry for herself, she would make a plan and start working toward it. So I made a plan to bring out a extension chord from the garage and to hook it up in the backyard, bring out my laptop, get some pillows and set up my chair in the garden and I would do it all without any help from anyone. Okay it took me an hour to do it, but I did it. And while I was busy with my plan I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself or think about what I couldn’t do.  There is a life lesson right there — change direction of focus for pain relief.

Then I started to think about the blog. What was my purpose? What was my focus? Is there any reason to write the blog while I can’t really exercise? Then I thought, well what if someone else got hurt and someone was reading my blog? What would I want to say to them? For me, the blog has always been about documenting the journey, to record the transformation from “I wanna be” to “I am.”  This is just another phase. Another shade of grey. For the documention of how does it feel to not complete the Ironman, to have some broken bones, to not be able to do some fairly basic things — it hurts. That’s normal. But what to do? How to proceed? It’s the same as if I were healthy — set goals and get to work. Yes my goals are very different right now. It’s not about shaving seconds off my swim or max speed on the bike or even effort on the run, right now it’s walk around the field, do ten bicep curls, ten bicep rotations, ten shoulder hangs, ten shoulder shrugs, attempt the shoulder reach today. Maybe throw in a few extra squat stands. Try to repeat the entire sequence three times today. Start with that. Be grateful for having enough health to be able to do that because there are many people who would glady switch places with me.

Later this week I will change the colors on the blog. Fresh coat of paint. New declaration of Ironman 2008. Maybe a new launch as of August 1st. Count down to Lake Placid 2008. BUT, the one thing I would do differently this year is to not make such a big deal out of the Ironman. It’s not the be all and end all. It is just one race. I no longer look at it as the defnition of my athletic ability. I look at it as a one of the many stops on the highway of health — just one of the sights on my Journey to Fitness. This morning a butterfly landed on my hand and I swear was trying to talk to me. I’m too thick to figure out what it was trying to say but I have had to guess it was saying “notice the here and the now, don’t focus on too far away because it is only the here and the now that matters anyway.” Who knew? A Buddhist Butterfly….


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7/29/07 Home

Sunday. Well I am finally out of the hospital after a six-night stay and at my parent’s home in CT. This is going to be a lonnnnggg recovery. Everything hurts. Hard to sleep. Even harder to try to get up.

The doctor came into my hospital room yesterday morning to remove the catheter tube from my chest. He said my lung had finally expanded on its own. He told me to breath in, he yanked, the tube made a horrible gurgling noise, I almost fainted, he told me to exhale as he slammed his hand over the hole in my chest. “Done.” He proclaimed, like it was nothing. I was holding onto my physical therapy stick so hard my knuckles were white. “What?” he asked. “Do you hurt?”

“Oh no, I’m fine, I’m used to people yanking tubes out of my chest and hearing terrible gurgling noises like my lung is going to collapse….”

“You’re fine. Breath normally.” He said.

“Define Normal” I said.

I told him about the pain in my calf for the whole week. Feels like a pulled muscle but I feel it should be okay by now after a week of lying around. He wanted me to go get an ultrasound to make sure it was not a blood clot. If not a blood clot, I could go home.

I was thrilled to find no blood clot (although now I have a strange lump where the ultrasound gal pinched my leg during the screening.) I also thought it was strange that she tested the inside of my leg and not the outside where my calf hurt. (“we are following the main artery” was all she explained.)

They doped me up on some extra drugs for the ride home. My brother picked me up and we had an easy ride but I was definitely feeling high most of the ride home. I was singing and having a grand old time. But then the drugs started to wear off and we had to get my prescription filled. I was a little worried because it is for Vicadin which is the drug that Dr. House (from TV) is addicted to – of course I am worried that I’ll become addicted. The nurse told me the stuff I had been taking percaset and oxycondid were more powerful drugs. I told her she was talking to someone who gets addicted to things like Goldfish and Spaghettios so it’s not so much the potency of the drug – just the fact that it is one.

My family believes in a different kind of medication. I told them I was dying to have my first glass of wine and I wanted it to be a Chardonnay from Russian River Valley in California. They may not understand triathlons, but wine they understand. When I got home, they had 4 different bottles for me to choose from – all from Russian River Valley. I chose the Simi Chardonnay and it was great. We had some shrimp cocktails and drank some great white wine. I wish it could have been in a more celebratory setting instead of one filled with pain. The wine was not as magical as I thought it would be – kind of like the Mallomars – nothing really takes away the pain – it’s more like a temporary diversion.

My brother has been great, setting up my “hospital bed” in CT and helping me get my stuff set up. I sure he is counting the hours till his plane leaves for England. I can tell already that life outside of the hospital is not going to be so easy. The number one thing I am going to miss is the motorized bed. Having a bed that can lift me to 45 degrees was very nice and I was actually able to get out of bed by myself. Here in CT I told them I would need assistance if I fell below the 45 degree angle while sleeping. This sent my family out on a search to find a bell or alarm for me to call out for help. I told them to not make me laugh but it was like a three stooges routine with them pulling out pots and pans and different devices to bang the pots and lids – comparing each one for the tonal effect. My mother voted for the spaghetti pot lid with a wooden spoon. My brother pulled out an old wooden flute from our childhood. We were laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe – literally. It hurts soo much to laugh. My broken rib.

Of course I fell off of my pillows in the middle of the nights and was trapped in a flat position on the bed – couldn’t reach the spaghetti pot lid or the magic flute and had to lay there until my brother heard me calling for help. Then he came up with an ingenious idea. I’m okay if I get someone’s arm to pull me up so he tied an old printer cable to the footboard of my bed. So now if I fall below the 45 degrees I can pull on the printer cable with my left hand (kind of like a rope tow) and pull myself back up. It hurts like the dickens, but it works!!

So I’m kind of miserable in that everything on me really hurts today. Vicodin is not as good as percaset. My chest hurts, my scapula hurts and my ribs hurt. My knees are covered in scabs (I know gross) so now it even hurts to bend my knees. My back is starting to itch as the road rash is starting to peel away. I’m a mess. All I can think is 6-8 more weeks of this? Shoot me.

Believe it or not the worst part of all of this is looking at the weather and thinking – what a great day for a swim and knowing we are surrounded by plenty of lakes and swimming pools!! But not only would I NEVER be able to finagle my way into my bathing suit, there is no way I could save myself if I was drowning. I’m pretty sure even a basic stroke would hurt very badly. The ride home was very scenic and I kept looking at the sides of the road and commenting on whether or not this would be a good bike route. Will I really not be able to swim or bike for 6-8 weeks? How can that be?

So today I am hooked up with my laptop, a comfy chair in the living room, some books to read and a bottle of vicadin next to me. I think I’ll download some episodes of House.


P.S. On the ride out of Lake Placid, my brother and I examined the location of my accident. I was shocked to see exactly how narrow the road was right there and how choppy the road was. We agreed that it seemed like an accident waiting to happen.

p.p.s – the nurse said that there were over 400 people treated for injuries during the Ironman. That’s 400 people treated by the med tent and emergency room. There was only one person admitted to the Adirondack Medical Center as a patient. Figures….

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7/28/07 Ponderings from Lake Colby

Saturday.  Just another day in the hospital.  Kind of unbelievable if you ask me.  I’m feeling better (not great but definitely better).  I would feel a lot more comfortable if I didn’t have this tube in my chest and have to carry all this tubing and a box with me wherever I go.  It’s a pain in the neck to have to be unplugged from the wall every time I want to go to the bathroom.  My scapula hurts and my ribs hurt, but overall I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude.


Yes I am grateful.  Grateful because I am injured just enough to see what life would be like on the other side of good health.  I know I will get better and resume a life of healthy living. But now I see what daily life is like for people with breathing problems like emphysema.  I won’t take if for granted  — even being able to walk around the nurses station (as lame as I look) it is something.. (One of the nurses said “soon they’ll be having you do stairs” and I got all excited!  How’s that for persepective?)


It’s easy to lose perspective.  I’ve had several friends now who have had cancer and fought back to productive lives.  We start to take it for granted – their wellness seems permanent now and we don’t have to worry about them.  I don’t think worrying helps anything but being grateful for whatever it is you have is a huge liberator.


I keep checking myself every morning.  How do you feel?  I keep expecting to find myself emotionally crushed that I didn’t finish the Ironman.  I mean it has been a goal for sooo long.  The strangest thing is no, I do not feel crushed.  I am much more concerned with getting my lung to expand than worrying about whether some guy calls me an Ironman.  (Perspective).  I think I really get it now that this is about a lifestyle and not about one day.   I resume training for IM Lake Placid 2008 in a couple of months and my goal is to weigh less before I start training for 2008 than I did when I finished training for 2007.  I am not going anywhere.  I have lots of races ahead of me (okay, I’ll admit I wish they were different races but even that can have it’s advantages of seeing how much I improve year to year.)


Things could  be sooo much worse than having to sit in bed for a week with a bunch of really nice nurses taking care of me. My left calf muscle has been sore and hurting all week (must have been hurt in the accident).  Last night I said to the nurse that I was worried that my calf muscle was really hurt because for a week it had been sore.  He said he would have the doctor look at it this morning.  He asked me how long I usually rest a sore muscle – a day or two at most I said.  He said my calf is probably in shock that it is just getting so much rest.  I thought about it and laughed – yeah it is in withdrawl!!


I get a kick out of how the nurses treat me like I am some kind of super athlete.  They keep talking about how strong I am.  (That’s me that keeps getting stuck in the bed and need a crane to get me out.)  [Now I don’t want a 100 emails telling me I am a super athlete – you know what I mean].


Yesterday I wasn’t able to get up to do some of the exercises that my PT gave me (as I was now attached via cable to wall suction).  I came up with my own version of exercising my right arm (I can’t really move it – it’s not broken but there is no mobility from the shoulder).  So I threw a USB cable from my computer over the “Trapeze” thingy they have above my bed and started to pull my right arm up with my left arm via the cable.  I was really proud of how clever I was to come up with this exercise.  When the PT came in I showed him my “invention.”  He left and came back a few minutes later with some cables and a pully and attached it over my head so now I can do the exercise with a pully!  How cool!! 


He also gave me a stick to use for doing my deltoid and bicep exercises.  I hold the two foot stick in each hand.  Whatever I want my right arm to do, I just do the opposite with my left.  It works great.  I don’t have any muscular use of my right arm yet but I can move the arm in the different directions, now it is a matter of getting the arm to do the work on it’s own.  (P.S., my PT’s last name is Drinkwine – if that is not a message from the universe, what is?)


A few things I am grateful for this morning:


Yawning.  I wish I could yawn without excruciating pain.  For now on, whenever I yawn I will remember how much it hurts to yawn with a broken rib and open my mouth even wider!


Burping.  Burping hurts too.  Not that I am sitting here burping all day but I did have a diet coke yesterday and it reminded me that burping is not a pleasant experience with a broken rib.


Shopping.  I don’t know where that came from, but I love to shop and boy I can’t wait to put on some nice (non-athletic) clothes, head out to Madison Avenue, get my nails done, go shopping and have a nice lunch WITH a glass of wine somewhere.  Gab with my girlfriends, look for a sale, wear shoes that do not have rubber soles.  At least for a month or so before I go back to dry-fit clothing.


Air.  Man do I take air for granted.  Nothing better in the whole wide world than a deep, deep inhale all the way down to my toes.  


Coffee.  Yes it is the little things in life.  They actually make a decent cup of coffee here at the hospital and every morning they bring me three cups of coffee on my tray and don’t bat an eyelash.  Enjoy your coffee I say – life is short!!


Flowers.  I’m looking at these beautiful flowers sent by my friends and I can’t help but think how God created these masterpieces of art and we walk by them every day and ignore them.  One bloom is more perfect than the next.  One blade of grass is worth all the art in the Louvre.  Okay perhaps staring at a lake in the 

Adirondacks for six days is getting to me, but man it really is beautiful here.  I saw call a florist and send yourself the biggest bunch of flowers you can afford, have the note read “From Me Because I Can” and enjoy them!!


Friends.  I am lucky.  I have great friends who are keeping tabs on me from afar and sending me emails and text messages because they know it is hard for me to get enough air to talk for any length of time.  Jokes, funny stories, they make me feel like I am right there with them.  I feel so blessed to have such good, nay GREAT, friends, truly blessed.


Family.  My poor brother flew all the way from England to come watch something called the Ironman and now he stays in Saranac Lake waiting for me to be released so he can go home — boy he didn’t bargain for this trip!  My Mom and Sister-in-law are making preparations for me to be put up with at home in CT – I don’t think they know what they are in for.  In a big way it has been a blessing to spend the first week in the hospital because I can bug the nurses all night every time I get contorted or stuck. I’m hoping to have enough muscle built up by the time I get home to get myself in and out of bed with no help.  Thank God for strong legs!


Coaches and Teammates.  Every day I get check-ins from coaches and teammates to see how I’m doing.  They offer great perspective on my day.  As coach Scott reminded me last night I had a great YEAR going into the race.  I did great at St. Anthony’s, I did great at Tupper Lake, I hit my 10:06 minute mile.  I had a great swim at Ironman.  I really did have a great year – it’s unfortunate that the actual race got away from me, but really when I look at the great time I had training with my LTS group and the fun we had – the Ironman is really more about the journey than those hours between 7 a.m. .and midnight.


So today, even though I have a lot of creaking (and I mean CREAKING) going on in my body – bones going snap, crackle and ouch.  I am not depressed.  I am grateful.   The Universe gave me a big wake up call – a big slap of “hey pay attention to what you already have instead of looking so far ahead.”  I am lucky, it could have been worse,  I already have abundance in my life and I know it is just going to get even better.  So I missed out on one race day, big deal, look at everything else I got in the process.




Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson


Picture my friend Dennis took of me coming out of IM Swim — I was very happy, giving Coach Earl 5 up.




Me Finishing Loop 1 of the bike.  I was very happy here too.





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7/27/07 Marshmallow Treats

Friday.  Ugh.  Am I still here?  Yesterday was not a good day.  Around 3:30 in the afternoon they brought me down to the procedures area.  I thought I was getting a needle in my lung to help it along.  Instead I got a catheter tube in my lung to drain it.  I’m still not really sure what this means.  I have a hole in my lung which is making it hard for my lung to fill up with air.  There is not fluid in my lung (as I had been lead to believe by one of the night nurses).  The doctor was trying to explain about negative and positive pressure which I didn’t really get.  Supposedly if we put a catheter tube in there the extra air and gunk will come out so I can fully inflate.  There is a long tube attached to the catheter that reaches to a box on the floor.


When  I got back to my room I started to cry.  I couldn’t help it.  It hurt so much and it felt like I had been here forever.  Everything on me hurt.  My chest, my back, my arm.  There was nowhere to move  and no end in sight.  It seemed so unfair.  The nurse Paul, was really nice he said that everything was going to hurt a lot for the next three days – this is the time, then he said that on top of all of my other injuries someone just stabbed me in the chest and made a hole – so it is going to hurt.  Then he showed me my pain “menu” they listed all the different pain meds I had been using and I could “order” whatever I wanted.  I took a shot of the dilaudid as my appetizer, opted for one pill of the percaset for my entree and then at 9 p.m. I would return to the oxycontin (I’m spelling all of these wrong) for dessert.


The funniest thing for me was while I was in the procedure room, and the doctor was stabbing me, a huge box of Mallomars floated into my mind.    When I got back to the room, the first thing I did was send my brother (who was coming over) an email to tell him to bring some for me.  He had never heard of them.  I wasn’t sure they even made them anymore it had been quite awhile since I had had them — maybe 30 years.


Back when I was in 4th grade I had a high-jumping accident.  It was after school and I was practicing for a president’s fitness award competition with my friend Scott.  The coach had us practicing with those thin mats – one each.  I think now a days we call them yoga mats (just kidding but they are not much thicker.)    During a jump my foot caught the bar just long enough to hold  my leg and it crashed on the mat in a V – the bottom of the V was my kneecap and it shattered into a million pieces.  They didn’t say I fractured my patella, they said I shattered it.  And I fractured my tibia and fibula to boot.

I spent a lot of time in the hospital that year and some of it was kind of lonely.  Some days there were other kids to play with in the hospital play room and other days there weren’t and I’d set up games hoping a nurse would play with me.  I remember there was one nurse who felt bad for me, she couldn’t play but she brought out a box of Mallomars and let me have one.  In my entire life I did not know there was anything that could taste as good as a Mallomar.  It was a cookie with marshmallow fluff covered in chocolate.  OMG, it was so good.


After the hospital I pretty much forgot about Mallomars – that was 37 years ago.  I had seen them in the stores over the years but when I looked at the calorie and fat count they were definitely on the “bad food choice list” and eventually totally forgot about them.  So how funny is it that yesterday after 37 years, the doctor numbed my chest and poked a catheter in there and the first thing that comes to mind was Mallomars – through the tears and the pain that was all I could think of. Hospital + Pain = Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Treat.


I tell this story to illustrate how deep our associations run.  I haven’t been in a hospital for nearly 4 decades, I can still remember what the old hospital smelled like.  I still remember the pink flower with the smiling face my mother brought to me.  I still remember my bed being covered with stuffed toys when I got back from surgery and I still remember long, boring days when the only thing that made me feel better was a little chocolate treat called a Mallomar brightened my day.  Kind of sad and kind of scary but man they were good.


Unfortunately they don’t carry Mallomars in Lake Placid (not sure they still make them) but my brother ran into a woman at the supermarket who remembered what they were and directed him to buy some chocolate pinwheels.  Yes they taste the similar and they are delish, but I was really hoping for the same miraculous cure I had experienced 37 years ago.  Alas it didn’t happen and I had to suffer through the night.  (I ate three though…)  


Around 2 p.m. I called a nurse and asked her to put my arm back in the sling.  I realize now why the doctor had put it in there in the first place.  It wasn’t for my arm, it was for my scapula.  When I had my arm straight my scapula was killing me.  In the sling, the arm swings forward and kind of pulls down on the scapula so it doesn’t hurt so much.  I just took my arm out long enough to update the blog and now it is going back in.


I asked the doctor when I would be released.  He said when my lung expands.  I told him I had to tell my family so they could get back to work.  He shrugged.  Then I said “Saturday or Sunday?”  He said “that sounds about right.”  As he walked away I realized that’s what he said when earlier in the week I had asked “Wednesday?”


I woke up this morning feeling much less pain than last night so that is good.  Everything is sore but I’m not crying any more.  So much for being a bad ass – I think my card was revoked.  I tried to think of Clint Eastwood – he wouldn’t cry.  But then again Clint Eastwood wouldn’t ask for mallomars either.




“I tried being reasonable, I didn’t like it.”


Clint Eastwood

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7/26/07 Pneumowhat?

Thursday.  Hard to believe I’ve been in the hospital since Sunday.  Most of it has been in a fog.  Talk about lack of productivity.  I had imagined I would be reading books, watching videos and doing work.  Basically I stare out the window for five minutes then fall asleep.  I wake up usually because it is time for meds.


Yesterday morning they gave me ocicondin  — a time release formula for pain relief.  Unfortunatlely they gave me too big a dose because I was basically out of it all day.  Loopy and sleepy.  Last night they cut it in half and it is much better.  Now I have that as my base pain reliever and then I take percaset whenever I need it.  Basically they are all the same drug – the percaset just has some Tylenol cut into it.  As long as I sit quietly and don’t move I am really not in too much pain.  It’s when I try to get up out of bed or reach for something that my upper back (scapula) and shoulder and ribs start to scream.  (So don’t do that, I hear you say.)


I had another PT session yesterday.  The exercises they have me doing are painfully simple and yet I still have difficulty completing them.  Bending at the waist and letting my right arm dangle for ten seconds.  This is one of my exercises.  I feel like yelling – “I can do a lot harder than this” and want to whip out pictures of my pilates contraptions.  I can’t even imagine doing a basic rolldown never mind a oblique exercise (hey maybe that’s why I had to do those oblique exercises, so I could get myself out of the hospital bed!)


I have something called a pneumothorax which is a build up of fluid in my lung caused by a puncture.  The problem is, with the fluid there my lung does not want to expand to its full capacity.  Of course I’m thinking that perhaps I have had a pneumothorax all season because I’ve never been able to expand my lungs to full capacity.  (Although I have been able to walk more than 10 feet without getting out of breath).  They took another xray this morning and if it has not gone done (Doc doesn’t think it will) they will take a needle, insert into the lung and fill it with air that way (or something like that, wasn’t really following.)  He went into a long explanation of how the lung works and what he was going to do but basically I heard blah, blah, blah, stick a needle in your lung, blah, blah, blah.


It’s hard for me to not sit here and feel like I should taking blame for this.  I feel like I was riding behind these guys and I should have been able to stop my bike.  It still bugs me that those final moments are vague.  If I had been faster, smarter, somethinger I should’ve been able to stop.   And then I could’ve continued the race.


Now it looks like I will be out of exercising commission for 8 weeks.  I  will pretty much lose all of my fitness in 8 weeks and I’ll be starting all over from scratch.  That stinks.  I’m pretty sure they won’t let me swim, bike or run.  I’m not even going to insult my doctor by asking him to guess when I can do that considering I still have to have the nurse help me button my pants!


I am able to wash myself, brush my teeth, comb my hair – all things I never did before (just kidding).  I notice that all the other patients here are wearing hospital clothes but they don’t give me any problems staying in my own clothes (I’m wondering if I made a big stink while I was delirious or something.)  I’ve been washing out my clothes at night and changing into new clothes in the morning, but I seem to be the only patient doing that.  Okay by me.  I would rather feel like I’m getting up for work than sit in a hospital gown – that would be too depressing for me.


People in the hospital couldn’t be nicer to me.  My room is very comfy.  I’m looking at Colby lake.  I have Internet connection.  I seem to have energy from about 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. and then zonk out for the day (come to think of it, that’s how I am at home too!)  


Right now I’m still trying to master this Voldyne 2500 test.  I think this is an unfair test because I don’t know what level I could get this thing before my pneumothorax hit.  So maybe I’m trying to hit 2500 when I couldn’t do that before.  It reminds me of the old joke of when the guy goes to the doctor and says “Doc will I be able to play the piano after this surgery?’  The doctor says “of course” and the guy says “great, I’ve always wanted to be able to play!”  I know, really, really bad.  I’m on meds, what do you want?


Exercise for me today.  Eat healthy.  Enjoy the sunshine and write and tell me about it.  (No phone calls please – too hard to breathe and talk).  Emails and IM are fine.



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7/25/2007 R&R

Wednesday.  Still in the clink. Doc says maybe tomorrow  I have a little machine iI have to breath into called a Voldyne  It measures how much I can inhale.  Right now I can only get it to 1,000ml with any regularity hit 1500 twice and 1750 once.  Lung guy was in and explained that if I dont get all the grapes in my lung to expand that’s how I can get pneumonia.  I guess lungs are like clusters of grape with the stems being the bronchia and the “avia?” (sp?) are like the grapes.  They are little sacs that open and close.  Right now I am not getting them all open so I have to practice.  I also have to keep wearing the oxygen tube because my oxygen is low 80’s and shld be high 90’s…  More numbers to train by.

I had physical therapy yesterday and flunked big time.  She set the bed flat to see if I could get out of it on my own.  No way.  If it is in upright position I can do it by rolling onto my side and putting my legs over the side and pushing up on my left arm, but I have to be in upright position — I couldn’t do it from flat bed.  They are writing me a prescripion for  a hospital bed for home use.  I think in a couple of more days I’ll get the hang of it.  All I can say is thank God I have strong legs, because without being able to squat I wouldn’t be able to do a thing.  I use the squat to get up out of bed and to go the bathroom.  Once I am upright I am okay to walk.  Getting me upright is a long process.  My legs are good but my back, abs, ribs, right shoulder, are KILLING me.  They changed my meds to a more long acting one.  I was taking percasomthing every 4 hours but about 1.5 hours before the next dose was due I was in a lot of pain.  So now they are giving me a longer acting base pain releiver and will add on percawhatever when I need it.

Hurts to laugh, cough or burp.  Ouch!  Must be the broken rib.  I’m sleeping quite a bit which is funny in itself as I am the one who can never sleep.

My memory comes and goes.  I have flashes of the race and then draw long blanks.  Donald did some research and found out the names of the guys who went down and some of the spectators of the incident.  From all reports it was a mess.   One of my friends from home sent me an email that it was her dad in the car that was coming toward me and he saw the whole thing.  A mess.

 Part of me is really cursing myself.  I should be a better rider.  I should have been able to stop.  Why did I let this happen?  Did I fall asleep at the wheel?  Was I not paying attention?  Could I have done something differently?  Can’t help those thoughts.

The people in the hospital have made me very aware of how bad it COULD have been.  Lucky I didn’t lose my life.  Lucky I didn’t injure my spinal chord.  Lucky I didn’t have head trauma.  Couple of broken bones and a punctured lung will heal.  Yes it is going to hurt but in the end I will be stronger for it.

So my friend Colleen has had some famous people send me emails which was kind of a hoot.  I got an email from the Barb Lindquist, the Olympic Triathlete and world number 1 who told me to not be dicouraged by the crash but to pick another race and this accident just makes me a TRUE cyclist, lol.  I also got an email from ultramarathoner Pam Reed who told me to keep the attitude of this is a lifestyle not just one race.  It was kind of neat to see these famous names pop up on my email — particularly from women who have set records and “walk the talk.”  The best emails have come from my teammates, who have been really incredible — sending me their kind thoughts and well wishes.  Some of them quite funny.

I do agree about the lifestyle comment.  I know that once I decided to do Brazil, it took a lot of the anxiety away from the Lake Placid race.  If you think this is it, your one shot, there is so much pressure.  But if you look at it as — this is my lifestyle, I train as an endurance trithlete and races are but checkpoints along the way — it gives everything a different spin.

Going into the race I was really overwhelmed by the generosity and caring of my friends and family (and teammates).  The amount of support I received was nothing short of overwhelming.  I do feel bad that I let them down in a way — not finishing and all.  But next year I will be even better.  I will be faster, stronger and smarter.  I also have a huge advantage in knowing how the transition areas are set up, how the swim feels and how the bike feels (at least the first loop).  That will help me a lot next year. 

Of course there is a part of me that thinks, I have to wait an entire YEAR for this?  Doesn’t seem fair, not sure I can wait that long.  And, how am I going to stop this from becoming a huge buildup in my mind?  I almost think if I went off in November/December and did an Ironman I would be better off.   Not sure, jut thinking….

For right now I’m in forced R&R no decisions for awhile.  First agenda is to get this Volodyne to read 2,500!


no quotes right now, typing with 1 1/2 hands — too hard….

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