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?

 

#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.

threesecondmemory

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.

muskoka-cottage-rentals

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.