2018 Goals

It’s that time of year for resolutions, those things you decide you want to change or improve about yourself over the coming year.

1. Run more and farther.

I ran a good amount in 2017, about 750 km (give or take) over the year.  I had a few minor over-use injuries which isn’t new to me.  I ran a half marathon and had a 10km PB (personal best) race.  I joined a running team (more about that in a future post) and met a lot of extraordinary people, many of whom are survivors in one way or another and who run to stay mentally strong. They are an incredibly inclusive group of people from all walks of life who all love to run.  I feel lucky to have found them.

2. Yell less at my kids.

Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent who doesn’t raise her voice is exhausting.  I found myself in a cycle of yelling and saw its impact on my kids, my eldest in particular. Over the past 6 weeks both my husband and I have made a huge effort to lower our voices and I know with myself in particular, not yelling is hard to do. After asking my child to do something 3 times and not having it done, the only recourse I had, it seemed, was to raise my voice. It got their attention, but in a negative way. When I started hearing how they related to each other I realized they were emulating my behavior.  We sat down with all the kids one day and acknowledged the tension in the house and told them that their mommy and daddy were going to do better.  We asked them for help and it seems to be working.  Oh, I still find myself  yelling – I’m not a saint – but it is less than it was before.  I’m a work in progress.

3.  Read more books, particularly non-fiction.

I surf the net less when I’m reading a novel.

4. Complete another half marathon, or two.

I’m a glutton for punishment. What can I say?

5. Write more.

 

 

 

Welcome, 2018!

Happy New Year! 

I went to bed at 5am. I can’t remember the last time that happened. Probably over a decade at least.

When I woke up the only thought I had (after treating the headache) was to go for a run.

Right?? 

Clearly I fried a few brain cells last night. Who willingly goes out in “feels like -20C” weather to run 5km?

Only crazy people. 

And I’m proud to be one. 

Holy Grail of Christmas 2017

So, my husband was finally able to get back to the Christmas shopping now that all the kids are back in school and not sick anymore.

After multiple texts back and forth about what stuffies to get the kids, being unable to locate the one we know they all wanted at the Disney store,  my brilliant receptionist spent all of 10 seconds on Google and located what we needed at the Showcase store.

Ladies and gentlemen … we  have PORGS!!!!

My crew is going to be so excited to open these guys!

Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

 

Fever x 6 days, multiply by 3.

Every year, without fail, my kids get sick around the holidays.  Last year was the worst, at least for me. I ended up with what was probably a Norwalk virus on New Year’s Eve. We were with friends, without kids and I ended up in the guest bedroom for the rest of the night while my friends rang in the New Year.

This year, the little one (4 years old), developed a high fever (39.5C or 104.5F) that lasted the better part of 6 days.  Eventually we took him to his doctor for a throat swab but it was negative for strep. Husband got a small dose of it for 2 days and I got a head cold that lasted 3 days.  After a week, the boy’s fever broke and he went back to school, none the worse for wear.

Then his older brother (6.5 years old) came down with a fever.  For another 6 days, my husband (the stay-at-home parent) had to deal with a sick kid who was home from school for a week.

Meanwhile, the eldest, was beside herself.

“How come the boys got to stay home from school?”

“It’s not fair!”

“When will I get sick?  I want to stay home for a week too!”

Well, my dear; be careful what you wish for.

The same day the 6.5 year old’s fever broke, his older sister started shivering and complained of a headache.  Honestly, I thought she was faking it.  But then I felt her forehead.

Here we go again.

On the bright side, she should be just fine for Christmas.  However, I have no idea how husband is going to finish our Christmas shopping with another sick kid at home.

 

1 year.

Today marks the one year anniversary the death – the murder – of my classmate and friend. She was a victim of intimate partner violence. I’m wearing the purple pin today, the same one I wore at her funeral.

There hasn’t been a single day in the past 365 days that I have not thought of her. Her death was a shattering blow to my little world.  I have been lucky, I suppose, not to have yet experienced a sudden, unexpected death in my circle, let alone, a murder.  The world has since felt cruel and unfair and unjust.  When my youngest son smiles, giggles or cries, I think of her youngest. My heart breaks into a million little pieces thinking about that little boy who is the same age as mine and is now growing up without his mother.  When I look at my 9 year old daughter and how she is growing and changing, I think of her two girls, aged 13 and 9 and my heart breaks a little more.

I’ve attended the preliminary hearing of the man accused of killing her and seeing him makes my skin crawl, my blood boil and the rage I feel is unlike anything I have felt before.  Her immediate family cannot attend as they are witnesses, so I try to go when I can.  It is a painfully slow process and I wish it would go faster.  We all need some closure.  Sadly with the state of our justice system, that closure will not (has not) come quickly.

I have read accounts of the families of victims of murder eventually being able to forgive the killers. They are stronger than I can ever be.  I will never forgive that man for what he did to my friend, to his children.   But I know that anger and rage is unhealthy and can eat away at me so I try to keep it buried and I run it off when I can.

She enjoyed running.  She would find the time to comment on my posts about running on social media and every now and then a memory will pop up and I’ll see a comment from her. I can’t lie, it helps ease the pain in one sense, but re-ignites the rage in another. I honestly don’t know how her family is coping, I know they have to push forward for the children, but I wish they didn’t have to. No one deserves this kind of living hell.  No one.

I don’t think I’ll ever quite get over this loss.  I wish I understood why it has affected me so much.  We hadn’t physically seen each other since graduation but with social media, I knew enough about her and “followed her” that I felt we were still connected.  She reached out to me a few times when she moved back to the city and we were pregnant at the same time, but we never found the time to reconnect in person. I think I will always, always regret that. I do know that I need to forgive myself for that.  There was nothing I could have done or said, had I known about her situation, that her closest, trusted friends and family, hadn’t done or said already.

I’m mad at her too.  God, it feels awful to say it, but it’s true.  Why did you stay with him? Why didn’t you run away when he hit you the first time?  Why didn’t you listen to your friends and family then? It could have been all so different.  You might still be alive today.

Fuck.

 

The Lake Calls to Me.

Vacation starts in about an hour.

I am checking out of medicine for 19 days.

NINETEEN DAYS!!

The mental break is needed. I know it won’t be a particularly restful vacation – how is it possible with 3 children, the youngest of whom enjoys waking up at the crack of dawn?  But it will be a break from the daily grindhouse, of that I am sure.

It also means a small break from my half-marathon training.  Yes, that is going quite well, but the long runs will take a small backseat over the next two weeks or so.  I will aim to run 3-4 times a week regardless, they just won’t be more than 10k.  I worry about losing momentum but I think I have developed a good base which should carry me through.

I hope to return from the lake with a rested mind. My patients need it. I need it.

 

Success!! 

Two months ago, I started tracking what I ate with My Fitness Pal.  My husband and I had both gained weight, or more accurately, were not losing weight, and he wanted to start eating better and exercising more to see if it would help his chronic kidney disease.  So together we decided to put an end to our big dinners and wine during the week.  We started eating more protein and veggies at dinner and minimized the carbs – ie. no pasta, no bread – and less deep fried foods.  We also stopped having dessert every night – no more Halloween chocolate, no cookies after dinner, etc.  Wine is only on Friday and Saturday night now.

After a few weeks husband started noticing a difference and with me tracking my calories and trying to adjust my macros, I started seeing subtle differences in the way my clothes fit.  He is running more during the week when the kids are at school and I am back on track with my running as well.

Now, I won’t lie, the nasty stomach flu I had over New Years’ certainly did help with the weight loss but surprisingly, the weight is staying off and well, I am pretty excited about that.

Since starting the healthy eating plan and tracking my diet, I have now lost 10 lbs.  I can’t remember the last time I was this weight – well, yes actually, it was before I got pregnant with my 3rd child.  My clothes fit better and I feel better.  We both do.

He says I don’t need to track my food intake anymore, but I can’t deny that it has become a habit for me now and the scientist in me is enjoying the process.   I can’t wait to see how the next few months shape up!

 

2017 – with a vengeance.

2017 came in with a vengeance, for me at least. New Years Eve day started out with my three-year-old up chucking his applesauce then spiking a fever for most of the afternoon. While the older two kids were on their way to my in-laws, it was touch and go whether the baby would be staying home and changing our NYE plans or going to my mom’s for the night. Thankfully with some Advil and Gravol, he perked up enough to be sent there for the night.

As my husband and I prepared to go to our friend’s place for the evening, I had a fleeting thought of “What if I’m the next one to get hit with the stomach flu?”  I forgot to mention that my eldest got hit with the stomach bug two days before.

The evening started out great. We brought all the fixings for a cheese fondue and it turned out great but shortly after starting to eat I felt the distinct uncomfortable rumblings in my lower stomach that signaled something wasn’t right.  Sure enough, an hour before midnight I was hugging the porcelain god and wishing I were dead.  The stomach virus that gently hit my children assaulted me with a vengeance.  Minutes after midnight I was lying in an upstairs spare bedroom shivering with chills. So much for my new year’s eve plans.

Why is it that the holidays bring on such horrible illnesses? This is the second year in a row that my family has been plagued with a stomach virus over the holidays. I myself have had more of these bouts of illness in the last 5 years than I can remember for most of my life. Is it the kids?  Are they the germ factories?

It’s downright awful.

Even after spending almost the entire day in bed yesterday and sleeping close to 14 hours I am still not 100% today and feel like I could be on the verge of intimacy with the porcelain gods again.  As I write this I’m lying in bed with three children arguing for my attention.

Time to sign off …

Adios, 2016

It’s time to reflect on the year that was 2016.

Career

I started a second job at a private health care facility this summer.  I still have my family practice but I needed something more, something different, and I’ll be honest, a large part of the reason was money.  Our government is destroying pubic health care and I feel paralyzed to do much about it.  One the one hand, they are asking physicians to “Choose Wisely” in ordering tests, but on the other, they are vilifying front line workers for creating huge wait times for appointments, tests and surgeries. The right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing.

So, I decided to branch out and see how the other half lives. Private health care is comfortable, timely and compensates me well for my time. For the most part, I am regarded highly by the clients and am appreciated for my work.  This isn’t always the case in my family practice. Sometimes even doctors need their egos stroked every once in a while.

I don’t plan on leaving my family practice any time soon. I am committed to the patients I have and will strive to do my best for them as I always have.  But they have to be held accountable for their own health care as well.  Seeing multiple doctors at walk-in clinics for the common cold is a strain on our health care system and is entirely necessary.  I know you don’t feel well and can’t take any more time off work and for that I’m sorry, but you can’t hold up the emergency department, or see 3 different physicians at 3 different walk-in clinics, then come to see me the next day because you didn’t trust those physicians’ judgement.  And people wonder why there’s no money left for public health care?  If the government instituted a user fee for non-emergent visits to the emergency department, you better believe wait times in the ER would plummet.  People will start to think twice if they are charged $50 up front for walking in to an ER expecting to see a doctor.

But what do I know?  I’m just a doctor. I’m not a politician or an activist. I’ll leave the politicking and the activism to my colleagues who are far better suited for it.

Death

Wow, this year sucked on the celebrity death front.  In no particular order:

  • David Bowie
  • Alan Rickman
  • Glen Frey
  • Nancy Reagan
  • George Kennedy
  • Patty Duke
  • Anton Yelchin
  • Garry Marshall
  • Gene Wilder
  • Alan Thicke
  • Prince
  • Debbie Reynolds
  • Carrie Fisher
  • George Michael
  • John Glenn
  • Florence Henderson
  • Harper Lee
  • Rob Ford
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Kenny Baker
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Janet Reno
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor

On a personal note, the loss of my medical school classmate, fellow mother, runner and friend has left a particularly dark note on 2016 for me.  Her loss was a devastating blow to all those who knew her, to her young children and her parents in particular, but also to the medical community at large. She was a shining star and I have no doubt was going to do a great many things had she lived.  As her parents learn to cope with their new life without their daughter, as her children grow up without their mother, as her patients find new care with other physicians, we must always remember her and say her name.  Elana.

Now is the time for justice. Justice for Elana. Her murderer must be punished and I hope it will come soon, for her family needs closure.  We all need closure.

Domestic violence never touched my life until a month ago.  It won’t soon leave me. I will look for it every day in the eyes of my patients, in their words, in their gestures.  Something good must come from Elana’s brutal death.

Running

What can I say? 2016 kinda sucked on the running front.  My total for the year was 614 km. The year started off with a slump. My dad was hospitalized, it was brutally cold and I lost my mojo.  It took almost until March before I found my stride again, only to be sidelined with injury again.  Shin splints affected me most of the year.  I tried to cross-train with weights and stationary bike but it didn’t seem to help that much.

I did still manage several races this year – 2 x 10K, 1 x 16K, 2 x 5K, 1 x 8K.  No personal bests or personal records for me.

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Ahead to 2017

My goals for 2017 are pretty straight forward.  Run more than last year!  Stay healthy, fit and injury-free.  I would also like to try for a spring half-marathon and if the running gods are with me, a fall half-marathon as well.   I have been on a healthy eating plan with my husband for the past two months and will continue this well into the new year with the aim of losing 10 lbs which dammit, after three children and 8 years of no sleep, I will achieve in 2017! Come hell or high water!

Happy New Year to you all.

Haunted.

Her image is burned in my memory.  Smiling and appearing happy.

How do you reconcile that image with the next one of her coffin being lowered into the cold ground?

How do you move on when a colleague, a classmate, a friend, a mother is taken from this life in a moment of violence?

How do you stop thinking and imagining what those final moments of her life were like? Did death come quickly? Did she suffer? Was she afraid?

How do you honor her memory when now the focus is on the man accused of her murder? Purple arm bands and purple pins just seem so futile.

How do we ensure justice is served?