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Archive for September, 2009

Stupid Walnuts!!!

  Damnit!  It’s fall in the Greater Cincinnati area and the stupid walnuts are falling too.

  This morning my friend Jamie and I went out for a short run.  Well, “long” for me, short for her.  She’s going to be running a half marathon on Sunday.  We thought that she could use this as her last run before the race, and I could use it to get back into shape. 

  I met her at her house, we walked to the top of her hill and then turned right.  We had decided to go on a bit of a hilly route on Grand Avenue.  So, we go about a quarter of  a mile and turn left at the light.  Grand is a windy course with a rolling elevation.  I was thinking that I had to be careful on the first left hand curve, as there are some oak trees that hang over the sidewalk and they tend to drop acorns.  I’ve had move than a few run-ins with the acorns.  Nothing serious.

  Jamie and I had run about 3 houses toward that curve when I suddenly felt my right ankle step on something, it turned and I was on the ground.  Then I felt the pain!!!!  I grabbed my right ankle yelling something along the line of “I broke it!”  My ankle didn’t feel right, felt like it was sticking out.   Then I felt a pop…it was dislocated and popped back into place.

  Turns out I stepped on stupid walnut.  (I’d rather use a stronger word, but this is a family blog).  Landed right on it!  My ankle turned completely.  So, Jamie ran back to her house and got her car.  She also woke her husband up to help me out.  Meanwhile, I waited, sitting on the sidewalk in the rain, bleeding like a stuck pig from my left knee.

  The ankle didn’t hurt that much, but I could feel it starting to swell.  I managed to stand up and attempted to put some weight on it.  That wasn’t a good idea.  Jamie and Joseph showed up after what seemed an hour.  It was really about 5 minutes.  I hobbled into her car and she drove me home.  They then helped me to the door and I sent them on their way.  Jamie and Joseph, thanks again for the help.  I’m glad Jamie was with me, I wouldn’t have been able to get home without you.

  I rang the doorbell, Michael opened it with Kristen behind him.  I said to her, “I don’t think  you’re going to work today.  We’re going to the ER.”  She saw my knee first and said something along the line of “What happened?”  I told her that I’d about broken my ankle and she said “well, you can drive yourself to the hospital, can’t you?”  Now, in her defense, work was going to be crazy today for her.  She’s working on the H1N1 vaccine studies at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.    I think they had 21 patients between 3-5 today. 

  So I showed her the bad ankle and she decided that maybe I couldn’t drive myself.  Well, we went to the University of Cincinnati Hospital ER.  They were great.  I was in and out in about 2 hours, which is amazing for an ER.  Now, I did contact my pulmonologist because I figured that they were going to get a call for the “what precautions do we need to take for surgery for him?”  Dr. Joseph called the ER and gave them the scoop on me.  I think I got in quicker because I needed respiratory isolation (due to the H1N1 flu crap). 

  The diagnosis: a severely sprained ankle.  Honestly, I can’t believe it.  I was sure that I had torn something in there.  The pop when I touched it was my clue.  I guess I’m not a doc after all.  I’ll be out of running for at least a couple of weeks.  I’m really not happy about this.  I was really looking forward to getting back into shape and improving my running.  Now I guess I’ll just be working on getting my ankle better.  I’ll still be at the Run Like Hell, but I probably won’t be running in it.

  The next week is going to be percocet, ibuprofen, and crutches.  We’ll see what happens after that.

  I hate stupid walnuts!!!!!!

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I’m Normal

  Ok, well maybe not normal, but within normal range.  Here’s the story.

  Yesterday I had an appointment with my pulmonologist and then an appointment to enroll into a research study.  I was at the pulmonologist for quite a while.  Most of it was just bad timing.  Before my appointment I had to do a Pulmonary Functions Test (PFT).  I have to do them every time I go see her, so this is nothing unusual. 

  I ended up blowing an FVC of 3.12 liters and an FEV1 of 2.57 liters.  Not my best and a little down from 4 months ago.  But that didn’t bother me at all.  I took almost all summer off from running, and my last numbers were right after marathon season, so I was in shape.  Dr. Joseph commented on it, but wasn’t concerned at all.

  Around 11 Am I went to Children’s Hospital to enroll in the study.  The study, AZLI vs. Tobi (two different antibiotics), has a requirement that you must be under 75% FEV1.  My number earlier was a 73%, so I figured I was in.

  Well, I get to the PFT lab at Children’s and start the test.  My first blow is always lower than the rest, just because I have to clear everything out of the airways.  In fact, my study nurse commented that I didn’t try that hard.  Well, I didn’t try hard, but I did blow my way out of the study.  You see, I blew a 2.81 (liters), which is 81% on their scale.  My nurse (whom I know very well) yelled at me for doing so well.  She was kidding, as she’s very happy that I’m so healthy.  But I had just finished telling her that I was a 73% at UC. 

  She also commented that my lungs are better than hers.  The RT that did the test said “You’re joking!”  She said that she can only blow a 75%.  Scary that a 38 year old Double Delta F508 CF Patient can still do that well.

  By the way, about the normal comment.  In the PFT world anything between 80% and 120% is considered the normal range.  So, like I said….I’m normal!  (Anyone that knows me will tell you that I am certainly not normal!)

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Explosive?

  Hold on tight, this is an actual running related post. 

  Over the past 4-6 weeks I ‘ve decided to improve my running.  Well, I’ve decided to start running again…and improve what I’ve done in the past.  I really had to get back to the point where I missed it.  Well, I’m there.  Part of the improvement is loosing weight.  I’m down about 7 pounds, heading for 17.  The second part is actually improving the running.  I’ve been working on exercises from the book Explosive Runningby Dr. Michael Yessis.

  Dr. Yessis has a very interesting view on improving running.  The first section is about running form.  Honestly, I’m not tool concerned about form.  It’s not that mine is perfect, but I’ve got bigger problems.  The next three sections are on running specific stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and explosive (plyometric) exercises.  His process is to perform these exercises within the movements of running.  It’s a little hard to imagine, but pick up the book if you’re interested.  I’ll warn you, it’s very technical, which is great for computer geek me.

  I’ve been working on the stretching and strengthening exercises for the past 5-6 weeks.  I’ve seen some decent results.  First of all, I can tell that I’m stronger than my cardiovascular system can handle.  Right now, it’s my lungs holding me back, not my legs.  That will get better as I run more.  Second, I’m recovering better after each run.  I’m only running every other day, but usually my shins are sore after a run.  Not at all right now.

  Today I had my first really interesting run after starting the exercises.  I started out to run three miles, which is my short, medium, and long distance right now.  My course had a couple of decent hills in it, but I didn’t really want to focus on them. Instead, I decided to try to focus on my pawback and toeing off for each step.  You know what, it really worked.  And, I was able to tell when I lost focus.  When I got to about 2.4 miles, back at my street, I decided that I’d go a whopping four miles.  So, I just did an out and back of 0.8 miles.  Up until now, I’ve been averaging about 11 minute miles.  Today, without really pushing I run all four miles in a 10:20 average.  Now, that’s not going to set any records, but 40 seconds per mile is pretty good in just a few weeks. 

  I’m hoping to continue the improvement, lose the rest of the weight, and be in good shape for marathon season.

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A Father’s Story

  No, this isn’t about me.  It’s about my father, Earle.  It’s a new story that I heard this weekend.  I thought it was hilarious, hopefully you will too.

  When I was young, maybe 12 or so my brother Dave and sister Judy rented a house together.  It was an old three story house.  The top floor was turned into the perfect bar.  It already had a bar, they put in beer signs and a pool table, and gave it the perfect name: Busch’s Dive Bar.  The only thing it didn’t have was a refrigerator/freezer on the third floor.  I’m not sure why, but it had to go on the second floor.

  It was an old fridge, with a very small freezer inside the fridge.  The only problem was that the freezer didn’t have a door.  Well, my father the engineer, and english major mind you, decided to make a door.  He took some styrofoam and a piece of plexiglass and made a door.  It took him about 30 minutes. 

  Well, being the engineer that he was, he set out to layout the word freezer on the new freezer door.  He layed out the letters so that they would be evenly spaces.  He created nice block letters in perfect type with a sharpie.  He spent 2-3 hours working on the lettering.  At least that’s how my brother Pete tells it.  When he finished, Pete walks in an looks at the perfect lettering, etc. and says “What in the hell is a Feezer?”  Dad looks at it and says “Well, hell, I forgot the R!  Oh well, it will have to do.”

  My mother says that it was the funniest thing that he was an English Major that couldn’t spell.  She says that his spelling was horrible.  I can only imagine the people who moved in when they left asking “What idiot wrote Feezer on this door?”  I can’t stop laughing when I think about it.

  I miss my dad very much.  I miss his sense of humor and I miss hearing the crazy stories about his life.   Most of all, I just miss having him around.  But, it stories like this that will keep him in my heart forever.

  So now if someone asks, “Where’s the feezer?” I’ll have a clue what they are talking about.

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PTSD

  It’s 10:36 Pm on September 8th.  Usually, I’m out like a light by now.  The 4:45 AM alarm clock has a lot to do with that.  Tonight, however, I’m wired.  It’s another Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) night for me.  It’s a long story, but I have the time.  It’s been raining since about 6 PM and when I put Leo (our six month old Lab) to bed, I thought I was good to go.

  At about 10 PM, he let out a good bark.  I was nearly asleep already.  Mirapex (for RLS) will do that to you.  I know that bark by now.  It’s the “I’m in my crate but I really need to go out, NOW!” bark.  So, I got up and took him out in the rain to do his business.  He did, but only half of it.  Hopefully he’ll make it to the morning.  So, I got back upstairs and into bed and my wife says “I heard some computer noise down stairs while you were out with the dog.” 

  So, I get back up and go check.  Turns out it was here iPhone alerting her of an appointment tomorrow.  So, I go back to bed.  Only this time, I’m awake.  And, my PTSD has kicked in.  See we were robbed.  It was Christmas Eve of 2000.  Needless to say, it ruined Christmas.  That was a different house, but I still have the memories.

  Ever since then, if I’m startled awake for any reason I’m usually up for a while.  So, I figured I’d type and try to get tired.  Wish me luck.

  I’m back to running again.  I’m running 3-4 times per week and just working to build up my endurance again.  At this point I can run for about 30 minutes.  I could run longer if I could keep my heart rate down.  I think that will happen as I get into better shape.

  I’m also working on strength and stretching to improve my running.  I’m using a book by Dr. Michael Yessis, Explosive Running.  It has a good set of stretches, strength exercises for running, and a section on plyometrics.  I’ve been doing some of the exercises for about 3 weeks.  I just added the stretching and am now working on adding more of the exercises.  My legs are sore, but feel good.  My lungs are the part killing my running right now.  That will get better.

  The weird thing is that I’m no longer covered in salt when I finish exercising.  It’s very weird in fact.  I’m blaming my last research study.  I’d be very interested in having a sweat chloride test done to see how the numbers have changed.

  Ok, I’m tired now.  I’m going to try to go to sleep.  Wish me luck.

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Changes

  No real changes in my life lately.  The biggest change has been Leo, our now 6 month old Black Lab.  He’s a great dog and a good friend for me, my wife, and kids. 

  Tonight, we went to the Cincinnati Bell WEBN fireworks.  This was the 33rd year (I think) and it started as a Birthday Party for the local Rock Station (WEBN).  The title of this post hit me when they did the standard screaming contest between the Ohio and Kentucky sides of the River.  Every year that I can remember Eddie Fingers did the MC job for the fireworks.  Every year except this one.  It appears that Eddie no longer works for WEBN (obviously news to me).  It’s just not the same without Eddie.

  This year has had a lot of changes for me, my family, and my friends.  Probably the biggest change is that my sister in law is now battling ovarian cancer.  She’s doing well, but not perfect.  My brother opened his long awaited restaurant Virgil’s (my father’s middle name).  It’s doing great, in fact you may have heard of it.

  But the change that really hit me tonight is how people can change.  Last year at the fireworks, it was a very tense situation.  Two of my friends were just starting a divorce.  I was caught in the middle and trying to help them work it out.  It was that night that I finally figured out that there was no way in hell it was going remain intact.  Lately I’ve seen here a fair amount.  She’s very happy now, like my old friend was when I first met her. 

  Tonight, he came to the fireworks with us again.  My god the difference.  He’s happy, laid back, and fun again.  A completely different person, and again, like my old friend.  I thought the divorce would destory the two of them, and it did.  But it’s built them back up into better people than they were before. 

  I’ve been thinking about another old friend of mine.  One I haven’t seen in many years.  I didn’t treat this person very well when I last saw them.  I was in a very bad place then and was really having a difficult time finding a reason to live.  You see, it was just a couple of years after my sister died (of CF in case you’re wondering).  I was a mess, a real disaster.  I’ve thought of my friend over the years, and hoped that I could find them to just tell them I’m sorry for the way I treated them. 

  Well, I recently stumbled onto a way to contact them.  I haven’t.  There are too many complications that keep me from doing that.  So, I guess this is my apology.  If you happen to ever read this (and you know who you are), please accept this as my apology.  I’ve changed completely from the person you knew and become the person I’ve always known was hidden by the pressures of CF.  I’ve become a husband, a father, a good friend to a small group of people, and (hopefully) an inspiration to a group of chronically ill CF patients in the world.

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