#SayHerName

For Dr. Elana Fric

And every single woman in this world who has been a victim of violence.

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This week I am wearing purple every day to honor my colleague, my classmate, a mother, an advocate, a runner, a friend.

My heart aches.

The Best Post That Never Was.

My three-year-old has this annoying habit of waking up every single night for some reason or another. Usually its for another sippy cup of milk, or to go to the bathroom (we are in the midst of toilet training).  Last night was no exception.  After getting him the milk, helping him with his pull up, he insisted I sleep with him.  It was 4:30 am and rather than fight, I succumbed and crawled into bed with him.

As I was drifting off to sleep, scratching his back, I suddenly had a great idea for a blog post. I had the title and everything. I briefly considered getting up to write it down but thought, “Nah, I’ll remember.”

Dammit.

I don’t remember what the idea was.

It was so brilliant, I swear it was. It was going to mark my comeback to the blogging world.

I thought if I started writing it would come back to me. It hasn’t.

Dammit.

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Starting From Scratch, Again

It’s been a while.

Let’s just say 2015 hasn’t been the greatest year for running.

I missed most of the winter running due to family issues. My dad got sick and life got busy.  And I got lazy, let’s be perfectly honest. After the 1/2 marathon, one year ago today actually, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. But that race really tired me out and physically my body needed a break even if my mind wouldn’t listen.  I got shin splints again and benched myself over Christmas. With my dad’s illness, it was hard to get motivated to run and when you don’t run regularly, the -17C temperatures certainly don’t invite you out.  So, I sat on my couch. I cross-stitched and ate what I wanted and gained back a few pounds.

Finally, I got some motivation and started running again in February or March, at this point it’s all a blur.  It was literally like starting from scratch.  Suddenly I was slow again and dealing with stupid aches and pains.  I had stopped the weight training as well and everything seemed harder.

Race-wise, I made the decision earlier in the year not to repeat any race I had done in 2015.  I planned all new races.  I did the Ride for Heart 5K, the Waterfront 10K, the  Womens’ 10K, the Beaches Jazz Run 5k and the Toronto 10-miler (16K).  None of these races were personal bests, or personal records for that matter.  I just went out and had fun. My training has sucked on and off all year.  Shin splints, groin aches, work-life, you name it there was a reason why I didn’t run regularly.

My weight has creeped up a bit this last month or so as I had to bench myself, yet again, due to wickedly painful posterior shin splints. It’s such a constant battle.  I took two weeks off before my last race, the Scotiabank 5k.  My shins felt okay and since I had started cross training on the stationary bike, I hadn’t lost any ground on my fitness.  Looking at the race photos, the weight gain is super obvious to me and it really bugs me. No one else would probably notice it but we are our own worst critics.

I decided today, on this 1 year anniversary of my first 1/2 marathon, that I will run that race again next year.  Come hell or high water.  I am going to do my utmost to keep up with cross-training and weights. Wish me luck!

 

‘SUP!

Almost 4 years ago to the day, me and 3 other women took a Stand-Up Paddleboard (herein, SUP) lesson.  I had no idea what this meant.  Two of the women had done it before I think and when I was invited I thought, “Sure, why not.”

I had the best time.  For someone who doesn’t swim much and really isn’t a very strong swimmer, it was a bit scary being out on the lake but with my life jacket and tethered to the board, I felt pretty safe.  I fell off a lot that day.  But I also stayed on longer than I ever thought and I totally loved it.

Then three years went by and although I had fleeting thoughts of renting a board or even buying one, it just never happened.  Last summer, while on vacation with my family, one of my girlfriends came up for a few days to the cottage we were renting and brought her SUP board.  I got on, fell off a few times, then found my footing and loved it all over again.

Most of the last year I kept telling my husband on and off that I wanted to get a board, or at least rent a board for our cottage vacation this summer.

Why rent when you can buy?

And that’s what I did. I don’t feel too guilty about it as my birthday is in a few weeks.😉

Husband went to the local SUP store with our daughter yesterday afternoon and scoped the scene, talked with the shop owner and then after work we went back.

I am the proud owner of an inflatable SUP board.

This is what it looks like inflated.

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I am so excited!!! Hoping to take it out later after work today.

Countdown.

5 signs it’s time for a vacation.

  1. You’d rather sleep in than go for a run.
  2. You have no idea what day of the week it is and don’t care to find out.
  3. Listening to your patient with a laundry list of complaints causes you to start daydreaming of the lake.
  4. You stop caring. Period.
  5. You start marking an ‘X’ on every calendar you see until the day it’s time to leave for vacation.

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I’ll be Damned.

I have a decision to make.

Do I vote yes and be complicit in accepting a 4 year agreement that knowingly under funds health care and continues to reduce my income;  or do I say no and be subject to further unknown unilateral fee cuts for the foreseeable future.

Not so easy a choice is it?

Better to be screwed facing your attacker? Or better to be blindsided from behind?
Because that’s essentially what the physicians in my province are facing.

Damned if we do. Damned if we don’t.

I am not political. Never have been and really, never want to be.  But I just can’t stay quiet on this any longer.

I am being asked to trust a government that has grossly mismanaged health care for years now and wastes taxpayers money on scandal after scandal.

I am being asked to help manage utilization of health care resources.  What does that mean? Do I tell a patient that they can’t have that ultrasound because we have exceeded the budget for that month?  Do I close my office one day a week because I am exceeding the budget for that month? Do I tell my staff to take an unpaid vacation day once a week because I can no longer afford to pay them for 40 hours of work anymore?

My head hurts.

A New Training Cycle

I’ve started training for a 16 km (10 mile) race.  It’s in mid-September and since the half-marathon last fall, I have really fallen off track with my cross training.  I don’t think I picked up a weight in 6 months and my running took the toll. Everything just felt harder to do and the muscles got soft.

After the three races I ran in June I felt like I was finally back on track, so I signed up for the 16km race.  I also started weight training again as part of my cross training.  We don’t have that many weights at home and I don’t have time to go to a gym (you know, full time job and 3 kids) so I have to work with what I’ve got.  Husband and I have talked for years about converting our garage to a gym and maybe one day we’ll do it.  In the meantime, I’m happy to use my free weights.  I know it isn’t a lot of weight but for what I need for it to do it’s working well.

This time around I am also going to make more of an effort to incorporate hill training and speed workouts.  Hill training  involves running up a hill  repeatedly (fun, right?).  My first session last week saw me do three hill repeats.  The hill is about 200 m long and I have no idea what the incline is but it felt steep.  I’ve heard the hills should be 400 m long but again, working with what’s in my neighborhood.  Every week I will try to add 1-2 more repeats.

As for the speed workouts, this is a warm up of 5 min followed by 7-8 sets of 1 min sprint and 2 min recovery periods, ending with a 5 min cool down.  Ideally I would like to see these runs clocking in around 7 min/km or less.  This time last year I was running pretty consistently under 7 min/km except on the long runs.  I know my body can do it, it just needs to remember how and that’s why I think the weights will help.

Last week I had a specialized physical exam as part of my training for a new part-time job at a medical facility.  This included an exercise stress test and body fat analysis.  It was very interesting being on the other side of the examination table.  They calculated my BMI at 23.1 with a 28% body fat composition.  I was pretty happy with those numbers, even though I know they don’t mean a hell of a lot.  Still, the message I got was that running is working for me. I’m back in a good space with running and I hope it keeps up.

I dream of Space.

A few weeks ago, a FB friend posted a link to the Canadian Space Agency. For the first time since 2009, applications are being accepted over the next two months to pick the next 2 Canadian Astronauts.

Instantly, my interest was piqued.

Who hasn’t dreamed of being an Astronaut?

The first time I learned about space travel was probably right after the Challenger disaster in 1986.  I was 11 years old. I can kind of remember the chatter in my grade 6 class at recess about the space shuttle blowing up. We watched the news about it as a family later that evening.  When the Time Magazine issue was released (my parents were subscribers back then), I read over every inch of the article.  I was obsessed.  I would ask my parents to take me to the local library so I could read more about the shuttle missions.  I was obsessed for months about the tragedy.

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A few years later, my father introduced me to Carl Sagan.  He knew I was interested in space exploration and the Universe in general and he brought me a book he’d had on his bookshelf called “Contact“.

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After reading the novel, I started to think about life in the universe and truly wondered if we were alone.  I would look up at the stars at night and wonder what it would be like to meet an alien, or travel through space.  It would be years later that I would start watching science fiction television shows. My brother and father were big Star Trek fans for years. I never liked watching those shows when I was a teenager, I was far more interested in Soap Operas thanks to my mom.  Nevertheless, science fiction was all around me growing up, mostly on the book shelves in my dad’s office.

I became a sci-fi “geek” in University.  I started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation after seeing an episode in my first year philosophy course. That episode was “The Measure of a Man“. The episode discussed the idea of whether Data was indeed a sentient being with a conscience. It was fascinating, and I was hooked.

Fast forward 20 years and I’m now sitting at my computer looking at the eligibility requirements to apply to the Canadian Space Agency.  I meet the height and weight requirements; I am a Canadian citizen; I am female; I have several university degrees; I am licensed to practice medicine in Canada.

Holy crap. I qualify to apply!!!!!

And then I started answering some questions on the official application.

“Do you have expertise in Materials Science?”

“Do you have expertise in Orbital Science?”

“Do you have expertise in Spacecraft Design?”

“Do you have expertise in Thermodynamics?”

“Do you have expertise in Space Physics?”

“Do you have expertise in Microgravity?”

“Do you have expertise in Rocket Science?”

“Do you have expertise in Geodesy?”

What the hell is Geodesy?

Hmmm … guess I’m not as qualified as I had originally thought.  Still, I’m going to apply anyway, why the hell not?

Maybe I’ll use this post as my cover letter.

Changes.

It’s been a while!

Hard to believe it’s almost the end of June. There’s been a lot going on in my world, most of it pretty good.

My dad is on the mend from his kidney stone issues and has remained pretty stable with respect to his memory and the Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  Two rounds of infection, two general anesthetics, mild delerium and his memory testing was the same!  Unbelievable really. The thing with AD is that the patient kind of remains oblivious to the reality around him.  He recognizes that his memory has declined but he doesn’t understand anymore the impact it has on everyone else, his wife especially.  If there is any blessing with AD it is that the patient loses their higher executive, frontal lobe functioning early.  It is quite the opposite for the family.  My mom is a strong woman though and she is managing pretty well; she goes to her weekly support group, my brother works from their place once a week and she visits the kids when it gets too much.  I wish there was more I could do for her and for my dad.

As for me,  I’ve done two races this month with decent results, given how awful the winter was with my running.  I have another 10K race this weekend and I am not expecting to do any better than 1:15 but that’s okay.  It’s an opportunity to have some fun, run on the highway and get a cool T-shirt and medal!

I’m starting a new part-time job next month in addition to my family practice.  It is an opportunity I sought out and I am excited about. It is an opportunity to grow as a physician, learn about a different model of care and will be a great change of scenery for me.   I’ll be a lot busier, working 5 days a week (instead of 4) but I think I’m up for the challenge.  The future of primary care in my province is looking hazy right now and I am a little worried. We have been without a contract with our Government for over two years and they are planning on implementing change to how primary care is delivered without consulting the front line workers, ie me!  I felt it was time to start looking at other opportunities where my work is actually appreciated.

I’ve missed the blog.  I hope you missed me too.