Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All Done

As 2008 comes to a close it is a time of reflection and of renewal as a new year begins.

I am sure this is probably true of all years, but this year seemed to have so many more changes and challenges.

In January, Kelly's testing showed that her leukemia has returned with a vengeance. her marrow was producing 1% abnormal cells (blasts) on Jan. 4th, by Jan. 10th, it was producing 80% blasts. Kelly had just turned 19 the day before getting this devastating news.

I can remember reading an e-mail later that month that Don had sent and going upstairs to talk to Sue, shaken and crying. I told Sue I have to go to Seattle to see Kelly. It was such a powerful feeling and I followed my heart's desire and I made plans to go in Februrary.

I flew out to Seattle on February 7th and got to be part of an amazing once in a lifetime moment.

Kelly's parents had written to Kelly's transplant donor, Emily asking her if she would consider coming out to Seattle to meet Kelly. This was one of Kelly's goals in life was to meet Emily. Emily's trip coincided with mine and her flight landed 30 minutes after mine. What a moment that was to be able to see them meet for the first time. They fell into each others arms, laughing, smiling, crying. Friends that shared an irrevocable bond with each other.

Emily had signed up to be a bone marrow donor when she was in college. Her selfless act gave Kelly almost 5 years of being free from her cancer. If you haven't signed up for the bone marrow registry, I would encourage everyone reading this to do it. You might save a life.

I am still amazed when I think about the odds that Emily would have planned her trip at the exact time that I was going. That was providence.

I also got to meet Fenway Bark on this trip. Fenway is a service dog that visits families at the Ronald Macdonald house. Fenway was incredibly attached to Kelly and her entire family. Fenway and his owner later flew from Seattle to come to Kelly's service.

It was hard for me to say good bye to Kelly. I didn't want to have a meltdown and make it hard on her. We talked about some of the things she wanted to do on a trip we had planned to take her on in the fall in New York. I hugged her goodbye, told her I loved her and that we had a date in New York and I would see her then.

I am so grateful that I was able to see Kelly again and have the special memories of our last visit together.

Later that month it was Adam's senior high school musical play, Ragtime. Adam had one of the leads in this play. What a treat it was to finally see him in a role where he could showcase his talents.

I can remember on opening night during the first number where you could clearly hear Adam's voice. Adam wasn't even miked during the end of this song and his voice clearly stood out. His voice rich and reasonating with promise.

Three magical nights for us to cherish. My cousin Scott happened to be in town on a business trip and he got to see Adam on opening night. That was a nice surprise.

My mom's brother Jim and sister June flew out to attend the play as well adding to the richness of this event for all of us.

March 14-Kelly's dad called to tell me Kelly had taken a turn for the worse. Kelly had fought so long to get home. They had been home less than a week and finally the pain got so bad she had to go to the hospital. Her organs were beginning to fail.

March 16-Running of the Green 7K. I knew this would probably be the last race I would run while Kelly was still alive. I wrote this note to Kelly afer the race.

Dear Kelly,

I had quite an emotional run this morning at a Saint Patricks day race. I had a hard time getting it together during the first two miles of the run. I felt so sad to think of you in the hospital and kept fighting back tears while I was running. I decided at the two mile mark, this was not how I wanted to honor you today. Told myself I was going to hold my head up high and fight for you all the way to the finish line just as you continue to battle. I passed so many people in the last two miles. I celebrated your incredible spirit and my love for you all the way to the finish line.
I so wish I could visit you right now. You are in my thoughts and prayers and in my heart at all times.
I love you so much. You are my hero! I am so incredibly proud of you.

March 17-My cell phone rang as I was driving to work. My heart sank as I knew Don was calling to tell me the words I never thought I would hear.

We drove to Cut Bank later that week to attend Kelly's service. I had the ultimate honor to be one of Kelly's pall bearers and help lay her body to rest.

We stayed right next door to Don and Patty. One of their neighbors opened up their house to us as they were out of town. That was nice as we have often talked about how nice it would be to be closer. So at least for a couple of nights we were next door neighbors.

Sunday morning I got up and ran to the cemetary to visit Kelly before we left. As I was running back home I saw Don and Patty leaving to take Marcy and Travis to Great Falls. I thought that was really neat, waving a hello to my neighbors as if that was something we do all the time.

March 24-I made a new friend, Shayna who becomes an important part of my support system. Shayna read a post about Kelly on a blog and asked Dane for my e-mail address. Shayna has been incredibly kind to me. We are good friends, we just haven't met yet.

April 4-I post my first ever blog.

April 18-I had quite the experience one night driving home from a board meeting, running out of gas which has brought me back to church for the first time in years.

April 22-Laiken Kenwood(Shayna's team hero) passes away.

May 3-Furry Scurry to benefit the Denver Dumb Friends League-Rocky shows his skills at the obstacle course. Be white, hardly move :)

May 10-Kickoff for TNT fall season, a call to arms and legs for Kelly.

May 15-Laura celebrated her 21st birthday. Adam graduated from high school.

May 17-Training starts for the Denver marathon.

July 11-Patti Kaufmann passes away. Patti was a colleague on the LLS board. She was the driving force of the LTN campaign.

August-I run in the Georgetown to Idaho Springs 1/2 marathon. I make a friend for the day on the course(Katie). We run most of the race together, pulling each other through the bad spots and have a great time going back to the finish line to cheer in the rest of the TNT team.

September 2-Run into my sister Jan at Panera Bread. We have a nice visit. I had run a Park to Park 10 mile race earlier that morning and stopped there to drink some Ice tea. Looking back, this is the first time I felt like something was not quite right with me physically.

Later that day we find out that our cousin Jim died in a plane crash in Ohio.

The financial meltdown on Wall Street begins to unfold.

I finally get to meet my friend Dane who is in Boulder for the Boulder marathon.

October-My emotional meltdown continues. I feel so fearful about being able to do the Denver marathon.

Kelly's parents send me one of Kelly's bandana's and a locket before the race. Something of Kelly's to treasure forever.

I am able to finish my 16th marathon for Kelly. I find out later that I probably ran the marathon with a possible tear in my hamstring.

All signs point to Barack Obama carrying Colorado. Who needs pollsters? Just go for a run and count the signs in the yards. I run in many different neighborhoods and I haven't found an area yet that doesn't lean to Obama.

November-Sue, Laura and Adam go to the polls together on election day. Barack Obama becomes the first African American to be elected as President of the United States.

Laura and I continue our tradition of running in the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day together.

Western Union cuts 4% of it's workforce. Layoffs feel more real than ever before as I know many of the people that are laid off.

Testing, testing, testing begins for all of the physical problems I am having.

December-I run in the coldest Jingle Bell run ever. Brrrr!

I spend almost the entire day on my birthday this year at the Doctor's. I had a biopsy procedure, a visit to the Cardilogist and a visit to the orthopedic doctor. Not much of a chance to do anything in between appointments. Probably a very typical day for Kelly and her family over the years.

That night my sister and I go to see the Jersey Boys at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. The theatre is packed so at least for now it seems the entertainment industry hasn't been impacted by the economic downturn.

Christmas Eve lights run-Far fewer houses seem to have lights out this year. People seem to have really cut back in this area.

Like many families, we really cut back on Christmas giving this year. I think this may actually be a positive impact as the focus should be on relational giving, family, what matters most.

I have met many new wonderful people this year through TNT, Daniel, Jeraylyn, Catherine, Sarah, Alison, Ryan, Katie, Brittany...That has been one of the best things about Team in Training is getting a chance to know so many people all sharing the same commitment, learning their stories.

I was able to reconnect with my cycling coach, Gary who moved back to Colorado.

I saw another dear friend, Kerrie at Ragtime. Kerrie teaches math at Adam's high school. Kerrie and I rode together in 2003 and 2004 on the TNT cycling team. I was so happy to see her that night, starting to hug her and then immediately started crying over Kelly. It is so nice to have people in your life that totally understand and support you.

Some year I will have to write down my new years resolutions. I think the only one I actually kept was to attend a Yoga class. I started that in January and I am actually still practicing Yoga.

I did surpass my mileage goal for the year, but that was not really a resolution. I picked 1,776 miles in honor of our country. So many of the miles I run were not run with intent. They were run as junk miles as I became a hostage to my run log.

So I ended this year with one last run which was like so many others to meet a mileage goal rather than running for enjoyment.

Time passes so quickly. I hope I spend next year more wisely, living with intention, moving from the shadows to sunlight. Living joyfully as Kelly chose to do.

As Keegan would say about 2008, "all done".

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ha Ha Ha Yoga

I went to a Yoga class last week that was quite interesting.

The instructor has been teaching Yoga for 30 years and has taught all over the world. I am not sure if he is a regular instructor at this new 24 HR fitness center. This was the first time I have seen him. I hope I get to take another class with him.

He told us that there are 8.4 million different Yoga poses. 1 pose for every species above and below ground. I don't know who did the counting and documentation for that. Trivia to impress your friends.

We spent quite a bit of time on stretching hamstrings. He kept coming over to try and correct my pose. No bending your knee he admonished me. It was quite funny as my body doesn't move that way...

At the end of the class, he had the small group of people(12-15) get into a semi circle and we ended the practice, practicing laughing. It is the first time in my brief time as a Yogi(11 months) that the practice didn't end with a Shivasana pose.

It was interesting to watch the people in the group as he instructed us on the laughing "pose".

Some people totally got into it, didn't hold anything back.

There were two people that felt a bit uncomfortable with this and watched rather passively.

The instructor was undaunted and kept extolling the virtues of laughing. Deep belly laughing, he would throw his head back and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Even the reluctant Yogi's had to laugh a little bit and overcome their fear of letting go.

One obvious observaton about laughing.

It is impossible to feel depressed and sad when you are laughing.

I have a friend at work that must be the world's happiest person. She is always laughing.

Children laugh all of the time. They are not prone to hold on to their feelings of sadness.

I have always envied adults that have the ability to be child like. They seem far happier, still open to the wonders of life.

I hope I see this instructor again as I really need to perfect this new Yoga "Pose".

I was one of the two in the class that need help with this pose. I think this is far more important than keeping my knee straight.

Ha, Ha, Ha!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Words you are not ever quite ready for

I have spent most of the last week running to and fro the doctors office for various procedures.

I have had two appointments with an orthopedist sandwiched in between a MRI exam.

Last Friday, I started off the day at my family doctor to have a needle biopsy of a skin lesion.

After that I had an hour or so to kill before heading back to the Cardiologist to pick up a halter monitor to wear for 48 hours. Hoping that under less controlled conditions that this device might be able to detect any sort of palpitations, arrhythmia etc. It will be a week or longer before those results come back.

After getting that hooked up it was back to the orthopedist to get the results of the MRI.

The diagnosis is that there is a slight tear in my left hamstring at the insertion point of the ischial tube. The very good news is that there were no tumors detected by the MRI. That was one of the things he was considering as a possibility.

Here are my choices.

1. Stop running.
2. Stop cycling.
3. Continue running and live with the pain.
4. Get a steroid injection.

I won't be in any hurry to try #4. There is a risk with that procedure that could leave to nerve damage in my foot if the needle hits the wrong spot.

#3 is not much of an option to consider as the pain has become harder to deal with and basically running isn't really any fun right now.

#2. I was quite surprised to hear him say that. I was semi prepared to hear him say to stop running. The cycling puts more pressure on the sit bone(ischial tube) so I guess in a way that makes sense, but to have to give up both running and cycling at the same time is not something I was prepared for at all.

#1. The $64.00 question is always how long do I need to stop for and there is never a clear answer. 4-6 weeks and then try and resume the running slowly. He said not to jump in with a 100 mile week. That should be pretty easy as I have never even come close to that.

I am struggling with when to stop running. I had set a mileage goal at the start of the year(1,776 miles and I am less than 20 miles away).

I hate the thought of having to rehab again and lose all of my conditioning and endurance. I have had to do this so many times in the 10 years I have been running. I guess I must be a slow learner because I keep having to take the same test over and over again.

My family doctor called me this evening with the results of the biopsy. I was surprised to get the results so quickly. I didn't think I would hear until Christmas Eve.

Words I wasn't prepared for. The lesion was cancerous, but they had gotten all of it. Nothing to worry about. Happy Holidays.

That was a lot of information to get in 30 seconds.

For now, he will just monitor to make sure there is no recurrence. Just make sure to always wear sunscreen, hats, sunglasses. Something I haven't always been diligent about as I should be.

After weeks of various testing it seems most of the bad things are being ruled out. If the heart monitor testing comes back normal than in some ways I will be back to square one, no closer than when all of this testing started in understanding the fatigue and feelings of malaise.

It could all be stress related which in some ways would be weird since exercise is supposed to be a stress reliever.

On a funny note, I told Sue that the doctor was recommending no running or cycling for 4-6 weeks. She said, what about your family? How will we put up with you?

More words I wasn't quite ready for....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jingle Brrr Run

The weather didn't bother this hearty runner.

Check out these two awesome looking runners sprinting to the finish line. Cold weather didn't bother these two friends! They were so much fun to watch, arms pumping, legs kicking. They didn't leave anything out there at the finish.

This is one of my favorite events to run in and as a person that suffers from Arthritis it is also an cause I love to support.

This is a fun run, everyone gets bells to put on their shoes and it is so fun to listen to the sound of the bells as you are running. Lots of pets come out for a best costume contest.
I hope we get better weather next year. I can't wait to do this with Keegan.

I have run this event every year since 1999 with the exception of 2005 when I had a broken foot.
This was a first for me this year as it is the first time I have run this event without Laura. Laura had shoulder surgery the Wednesday before the run to repair a torn labrum so she wasn't able to come this year.
This was the coldest Jingle Bell race I have ever done. It was so cold this during the run my eyes were watering and at one point I couldn't blink. My eyelid was frozen shut.
Sadly the cold affected the race day turnout. There were a total of 531 participants in the run and 5K walk. Some years this race has had over 1,500 participants.

Kudos to everyone that was either brave or crazy enough to come out and support the Arthritis Foundation. I know which category I am in.