Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Home Banking Payment Error

I received my bill from a utility company a few days ago and yesterday I got so excited to pay it off that I didn’t look very closely at what utility I clicked on while I was paying it online. I have been home banking for over a decade now and this is the first time this has ever happened. Instead of paying my electric bill, I paid my gas bill instead. I didn’t notice my error until I was ready to file the paper bill in my filing cabinet. It suddenly struck me that I clicked on Long Beach Utilities instead of Southern California Edison. I went back to the banks’ website to find out if there was a way to cancel the transaction. Not finding any, I finally called their customer support telephone number. After navigating through their telephone tree, I was able to get a live person. I explained my predicament but the lady informed me that the payment was already being processed as we spoke. This was about fifteen minutes after I made the payment, but the time of day conspired against me. I made the payment at about 2 p.m. which was past 5 p.m. east coast time. Well, the bank follows east coast time and they start processing transactions after 5 p.m., so once that takes place, no human can reverse the process. The customer service person suggested that I call Long Beach Utilities the next day so they can send me a refund. I figured that was too much hassle for the utility company and the bank so I decided that my erroneous payment will just have to be an advance for future gas bills, which would probably cover about two months. I went back to the banks’ website and this time I made sure I paid the correct utility company. I’ll be more careful next time. Now if only the computer can spit out cash from the bank when I need it, instead of having to go to the ATM…

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Recap of Saturdays’ Run

It was supposed to be a hot weekend so everyone was concerned about running twelve miles in sweltering weather. The fog rolling in early in the morning made for a pleasant surprise, which made for a cooler start. There were patches of fog in different parts of the twelve mile course, some areas thicker than others. As we ran along I thought the fog was getting thicker and I could barely see a few feet in front of me. It turns out it wasn’t as bad as my eyes perceived, but that my eyeglasses were misted over. I was able to see where we were going better when I took off my glasses. Since I didn’t have anything dry to wipe my eyeglasses, I kept them off for about three miles until the moisture evaporated. I had intended to run our 4:1 run/walk intervals at a slightly faster pace than last week and my pacing partner, Linda, matched me stride for stride the whole way. When I finally clicked my watch off at the end then checked our average pace per mile, I was astounded to see that it registered 9 minutes and 55 seconds per mile. That was way faster than I anticipated. No wonder we were breathing so hard. Maybe it was because we had more targets to try to catch up to this time. Every time we would see someone up front whom we thought we could catch, we went after, so we ended up passing a lot of people whom we started together with and were running non-stop. By the time we finished, the fog had burned off and the heat was back on. Two more weeks to taper for the marathon or half marathon. Time to lick our wounds and recover. Next time if I feel up to it, I’m going to write about two approaches on tapering for the race.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Running May Be Dangerous to Your Health

My friend was hit by a car on a very narrow two way street where there were a lot of runners, cyclists, and on this day a cancer fundraiser walk. During the summer, this street is usually closed down by the police from 9 a.m. till noon on weekends, but not today. I’m guessing it was open to traffic this weekend because officially, it’s not summer anymore. There you are minding your own business while running down a street close to the curb as possible, then a car clips you. I mean, how can you defend against that? I didn’t witness it because I was about a mile behind her so by the time I reached the same spot, she had gone on to finish and the car had gone on its way. When Linda and I got to the finish, I noticed that Sophie seemed preoccupied and with a look of concern on her face. Thinking she was busy with something else, I didn’t ask her right away what was going on even though I saw her icing her arm. I thought maybe she fell or bumped into something. When I finally heard what happened I was shocked and didn’t really know how to react to the news. She looked okay from the outside with no obvious cuts or scrapes, but muscular pain runs deeper and the bruises come much later. She and her friend were waiting for the police to arrive so they could file a report, but the cops were occupied with another call, so it took awhile for them to get there. A police car finally arrived as most of the AREC members had left so I hope she had everything taken cared of. I have to admire my friends tenacity, she ran two more miles to the finish from where she was hit by the car. I wish her well. Take care Sophie, I hope you haven’t suffered anything serious.

My run with Linda went well although she had some breathing problems at about 10 miles probably due to her doctor reducing her asthma and allergy medications. I’m pretty sure, the blistering pace we set contributed to that too. We were 15 seconds per mile faster today than we did the same course and distance two weeks ago. I knew we were running hard but not so hard as to go below two hours for the 12 miles, using the run/walk method. I’m beginning to like this Jeff Galloway method of training a lot.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Having an LOL Day

I’m having such a good day today even though I haven’t done anything extraordinary.

I was watching the movie “ My Life in Ruins” at lunch time, which was worth a few laughs even though it was panned by critics when it came out in the theaters. I thought Richard Dreyfuss stole the show.

My running friend Sophie posted the Paris Marathon website on Facebook and queried if she should run it in April, but had to make a decision by Wednesday. I asked why she needed to decide by Wednesday but she misunderstood my question. I wanted to know if there was a deadline to sign up for it. By the time she read my question, others were already giving her encouragement to sign up, so she took my question to be an encouragement as well. I was laughing out loud when she said she was indeed going to sign up right away because her friends told her to go for it. More power to you Sophie! Then she asked if I wanted to run the Paris Marathon and that gave me an even bigger laugh. First, I don’t travel well anymore, and second, I read awhile ago that the cobblestones of Paris are hell on ones ankles. Well, knowing the condition of my ankles, the thought of running through cobblestones just made me laugh heartily at myself. My ankles would have been DOA.

Then I read a couple of news items, one was an LOL story from Sweden about a truck driver who couldn’t help but help himself, and the other from California about a very lucky woman which gave me a huge smile. Here, you can read it yourselves: http://www.thelocal.se/22272/20090924/ and http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/2009/09/25/20090925gan-multicar-ON.html.

The thought of all of those kept me laughing on my way to the bank and grocery store this afternoon. I’m still having residual effects from it as I finish writing this J. I could use more days like this. Thank you and keep LOL’ling!

Middle Age Paunch

How can you tell you are in middle ages of your life? Speaking only from personal experience, there are a few physical things that one may notice.

Your weight may be down to what it was a few years ago but your six pack hasn’t come back. Why? Because you now have more subcutaneous fat in the belly area probably due to a decrease in testosterone. You can now pinch an inch or more of your love handles which have steadily grown through the years.

The growth of new hair is no longer catching up with the loss of the rest of them, and there appears to be more gray to the ones that are left. Thanks to Rogaine, there are still a few hair follicles thriving.

You are not as agile as you once were although in your mind you can still chase a ball down on a tennis court or jump as high as you used to do in a volleyball court, even though you haven’t played those sports in decades. You have now relegated yourself to Nintendo WII sports.

You have more aches and pains as soon as you get out of bed in the morning and you don’t know where they came from (maybe you played tennis and volleyball in your sleep).

You tend to repeat sentences over and over when you tell a story as if your listener didn’t get it the first time. Like I said, you tend to repeat sentences over and over. And over.

If you are a runner like me, you get slower even though you seem to put the same amount of effort like you used to when you were still decently fast. Running ten minutes per mile (if that) on a shorter run now seems as hard if not harder, than it used to take running an eight minute per mile pace for a marathon.

You push or pull lesser weights or lesser repetitions in your weight training sessions and feel less of a pump than you used to. Another testosterone related problem.

With all these complaints and ailments, I could just surrender and say “Woe is me”, but I choose not to but am opting instead to celebrate what I can still do and keep trying to do better. To borrow a phrase from Hebrew: L’chaim!!! To life! Let’s keep on celebrating it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Changing The Way I Run

I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that if I’m to prolong my ability to run, I will have to change the way I do it, even if it makes me slower than I already am. This means changing my stride from what my body is used to doing all these years. It’s obvious to me that my normal stride isn’t working anymore because my ankle tendons are hurting because of it. I have been trying out two kinds of strides in which I try to lessen my impact against the ground. One is a pulling stride where my leg pulls from front to back, and the other is more like a falling forward stride where I try to get my foot just under the knee and push backwards. Both involve a lower knee lift in an effort to land more lightly and decrease the pounding, and both are more of a shuffle than a full stride. Will any of them work? I will have to be the subject of an experiment of one.

***Side notes about last Saturdays’ run: The aftermath of the 21 miler was that I got a hole in each sock. The strange thing was that I wasn’t particularly sore, so no Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Even though my ankles didn’t hurt as much as I anticipated, they are not healed. It just means that I’m running more slowly. I feel that my ankles are day to day and one misstep can mean several days of recovery. Linda was right, she said my ankles will thank her later when I asked her to set the pace. Because our pace was very reasonable I didn’t have to dig deep for energy other than consuming two gel packets. Now I have to decide whether to switch my registration from the half marathon to the full marathon at the expo. It would be a challenge to find out if I can still finish a marathon no matter how slow, by trying the Galloway method.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

OMG!!! Un-freaking-believable!!!

Ok, someone told me once that guys shouldn’t really be saying OMG because it a feminine expression, but today, I couldn’t help myself because after the run, I felt like saying “OH MY GOD!!!” It was an unbelievable day! Ok, enough of the over exuberance. To borrow a phrase from my friend Sophie’s hat: “Run Happy”, and today was one of those run happy days.

Slightly pulled groin muscle after yesterday’s weight training workout? Feeling pain on the left ankle after doing body weight squats? Had a cold all week and starting to cough? No problem! Let’s do 20 today! Why? I’ve lost weight in the past couple of weeks without running more or doing my other workouts any much harder. Maybe I’m eating better? I could have just done a 30 to 40 minute run today and be done with it. But nooooo… some crazy gene inside my body said, let’s see what we can do today. Will it be 10 miles which the half marathon trainers are doing? After all, I’m only signed up for the half marathon next month. Should I try to do the 16 again like I did six weeks ago? Well, maybe try 18 miles then.

My friend Linda and I planned to start at 6:30 a.m. and do the four minute run with one minute walk break again. We set out with me not entirely sure how many miles I wanted to do. She thought I was going for 18 miles but I remained non-committal. So we ran, we walked, we talked, we missed a turn and had to track back because we got distracted and ended up running more distance than we had to. We didn’t care if someone passed us or if we passed someone. It was just one step in front of the other through the streets of Long Beach. The time and the miles went by. We set a very conservative pace, very close to a shuffle most of the time. Not paying attention to the total cumulative time helps a lot, because you only have to concentrate four minutes at a time. So I didn’t really know how much time we had been running until we finished. We just ran for four minutes, walked one minute, got from Point A to Point B and that’s all it took. I needed some energy gels at about 14 and 18 miles when I felt my energy sagging, otherwise everything felt good. When I had my dizzy run a couple of weeks ago and had to cut my run short, I promised Linda that I was going to make it up to her one day and today I hope did. I’ve given up on the prospect of running another marathon because of my ankle problems, but if I can keep the status quo of my joints and not make them worse, there is still some hope that I may be able to run a marathon again one day. Being able to cover the distance we did today has given new life to my being able to run long distance again. That is the reason why I am so exuberant, happy and smiling widely not unlike the Joker in the Batman comics. How can you be not happy when you just finished running 21.18 miles (34.0859059 kilometers), not get any cramps, ankles not hurting too badly, and just barely 5 miles to do to finish a full marathon? Heck yeah! I dare you not to feel happy!

Postscript: Surprising herself, Linda said she ran the 21.18 miles faster than she did the 20 miles two weeks ago and she was even passing people at that time. So it was a good day for her and me. Thanks, Linda, for taking my ankles to where I never thought I could take them again.On my way home I was feeling famished and couldn’t decide what to eat. I settled for more super nachos like the one I had when I ran 16 miles a few weeks back because my body was craving for salt. While I was ordering it, I felt dizzy and had to go back to the car to drink my leftover Gatorade and water to rehydrate, plus more Gatorade when I got home. I feel better now J

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Emergency Room Assignment

Due to another low patient count in the ward I work in, it was my turn to float to another unit last Tuesday night. This time I was going to the Emergency Room, where the hospital opened a tiny room with two reclining chairs just for psych patients waiting to be medically evaluated and transferred. This was my assignment, to watch over those patients, check their possessions and valuables, and check their vital signs upon arrival and before they get transferred to the psych unit.

I arrived with three patients already waiting, two in the small room, and one on an ambulance gurney in restraints whom we moved to the ER gurney. She didn’t want to be there and was struggling the whole time until she was given a tranquilizer shot by the nurse, which made her mellow out soon enough.

One of the ladies in the small room had so many belongings that it filled several plastic bags in addition to her purse and backpack. Fortunately for me, the worker whom I relieved had already inventoried them. I pity the guy who has to inventory it again when this patient is transferred to the psych ward.

The other lady who just arrived was very familiar to me so I kinda knew what to expect from her. Aside from the clothes she was wearing, she didn’t have anything else, so that made it easy for me. The only thing about her was that she yawned a lot and it was a very loud yawn that if your tolerance level was low, you would have been irritated about it in short time. Good thing the other lady didn’t mind.

A male patient was brought in by the police after being evaluated by their psych team, another was brought in by ambulance because he was seen following a woman while wearing only his underwear and one shoe, and another was admitted due to being drunk and depressed but had to be hooked up to an EKG due to complaints of chest pain.

These patients were waiting in the ER to be medically cleared for transfer by a doctor. In this case, medical clearance involved a cursory exam by the doctor who asks the patient: do you have any cuts or bruises on your body?, are you in any pain?, do you have any medical complaints?, do you know what today’s date is? Plus, sticking a stethoscope on the chest area. Well, so much for a thorough medical exam. I am not a doctor, so he must know what he is doing.

Another duty was transporting a patient on a van from the ER to a unit at another building about a mile down the street from the main hospital. This involved escorting the patient with the van driver and if the patient was particularly belligerent or uncooperative, it would make for a difficult transfer. I lucked out again, nobody gave us any problems. The patient who was in restraints earlier was transferred within the same building. I ended up doing four transfers during the 12 hour shift.

During my break I visited the geropsych unit where the supervisor was hanging out with the other nurses and she told a story which happened awhile ago, about a new mother at the obstetrics ward wanting to give her newborn the name Lucifer to spite her own mother who didn’t agree with the pregnancy. The supervisor was able to convince the baby’s mother and father to do otherwise by explaining the future consequences to them. The supervisor said she wouldn’t have allowed the name to be put on the birth certificate. I hope they didn’t name the baby Damien (from The Omen) instead.

It was not the first time I was assigned to the ER, but it was the first time I had to stay there the whole shift because the psych patients just kept on coming all night. In total, I had to keep an eye on six patients, five who were transferred to the psych units while I was there. So that ends my pretty good night at the Emergency Room.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Born To Run & Run For Your Life

Please forgive me. I don’t really know how to do a book review or a movie review for that matter. What I can tell you though, is that I have been reading and watching some running related material in the past week. Not intentionally, but only because the opportunity presented itself. The book is called “Born To Run” by Men’s Health magazine contributing editor Christopher McDougall, and the movie is “Run For Your Life”, a story about the life of Fred Lebow (now deceased), the founder and former race director of the New York City marathon.

The book was lent to me by one of my running friends, Rick G., who had been telling me about it in the past couple of months because the author was also suffering from ankle injuries before he set out to find out what was causing it. Thank you very much Rick, I really enjoyed reading it. It took me only about three sittings to finish it and it is the first book I have read in so many years.

I can compare the way the book is written to my rudimentary knowledge of the old BASIC computer programming where a flowchart is created from top to bottom with subroutines (gosub command) going off in different directions depending on what you want the program to do, then when you finish the subroutine, the program goes back to the center of the flowchart (return command). I say that because McDougall starts with the main topic about his injuries, then branches off like a subroutine to tell stories about other characters, then returns to the main topic before branching out to describe another character. This goes on several times and somehow he manages to put all those characters together at the end where they engage in a 50 mile race in the Copper Canyon of Mexico.

Like I said, I don’t do book reviews but here are a couple of articles which I think describes the book very well: http://www.kansascity.com/entertainment/story/1439309.html and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/19/AR2009061901078.html

The movie “Run For Your Life” is basically the Fred Lebow story and how the New York City Marathon came to be. It is a good documentary that runners would enjoy, especially those who have run the New York City Marathon and would like to know more about how the five boroughs race started. I don’t know if the DVD is available at your neighborhood video store, but it’s available through Netflix. This is the IMDB plot summary: Without one eccentric first-generation Jewish immigrant from Transylvania, the New York City Marathon simply wouldn't exist. Ehrlich's fun, loving, and inspirational tribute to the late Fred Lebow shows how one man's imagination, determination, and love for running created one of the world's most popular sporting events. Written by Tribeca Film Festival

I think that runners would enjoy reading the book and watching the movie as well as I did, so if you get the chance to buy, borrow, or rent one or both then it would be worth your while.

Care For Breast of Chicken California or Fresh Pasta Primavera?

Sounds yummy, huh? Well…

A quick entry about the place where I work. In the mail yesterday, 9/16/09, I received an invitation from work. This is what was on the invitation: (insert name of hospital here) requests your presence at the bi-annual Service Awards Luncheon in honor of employees with milestones of dedication to (insert name of hospital here). Thursday September 24, 2009, From 11:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Virginia Country Club. Please return response card to Human Resources by September 16, 2009.

Ok, sounds just like a regular invitation to a work function to show appreciation to employees about their years of service. What struck me were the dates. I checked the postmark on the envelope and it said September 15, 2009, I received the invitation in the mail on the afternoon of September 16, and they want the RSVP back by the same date. Today is September 17. I didn’t even notice the dates until today when I finally had the time to look at the invitation closely.

Hmmn?! Either they are trying to be amusing, or someone just failed to mail the invitations early, or they don’t really want us to attend the shindig. Not that I was planning to go, but I didn’t even get a chance to say no to the RSVP. I wonder if the rest of the employees are experiencing the same thing. If so, none of them will be partaking of the breast of chicken California or the fresh pasta primavera. Lesser expenses for the hospital.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Good Cardiovascular Effort and Result

I was able to convince Linda to start with the rest of the group in today’s 12 miler, instead of starting earlier. We were going to try to see how many people we could pass who were running non-stop, while we did a 4 minute run with a 1 minute walk break. After seesawing back and forth with some runners where we would catch up with them, then they would lead again during our walk breaks, we eventually passed quite a few of them and left them behind up to 8 miles when the runners ahead were too far to catch anymore.

Today was a good cardiovascular day of running because it caused some strain to my breathing and elevated my pulse rate during the run portion. It was like doing a tempo effort or lactate threshold effort, or whatever you want to call it. When I checked my splits on the GPS watch, it showed that at some points we were hitting as fast as 9:06 per mile for the 4 minute run portions specially during the middle and later part of the run. Linda even noticed that my footstrikes weren’t so heavy at the start, but I brought it to her attention later in the last four miles how heavy and noisy they have become. Of course it was in the last four miles that I could feel my ankle tendons straining at the effort we were putting in. I knew we were running harder than usual but wasn’t sure what the pace really was until we finished. It turned out to be 10:09 minutes per mile, which was faster than when I ran last Thursday with considerably more effort and only for six miles. That ended up to be a 10:31 pace, which I thought that was pretty good for running and walking. So today’s pace was even better and a pleasant surprise. Though my ankles are hurting right now, I take solace that I may be able to take a few days off to recover. I don’t expect to run that hard next Saturday because the distance is longer, but today’s effort for the 12 miler was just right. Thanks again Linda, for hanging with me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When Nothing Went As Planned

Here is what was supposed to have happened today:

Wake up, then go to the grocery store early to buy some fish that were on sale. That was supposed to be my warm-up for the run I planned to do from home to the dentist’s office where I was going to have the stitches removed from my gums, then walk about a block to the downtown Long Beach Transit Mall to take the bus back home. The run was supposed to start at 8 A.M. so I could get to the dentist by the time they opened at 9 A.M.

This is what happened instead:

I woke up, puttered around, looked for a wireless keyboard and mouse on the internet and in last Sunday’s ads for my Uncle and Aunt (yesterday, I helped them set up their wireless network at home with some assistance from Raj, the tech support person from a call center in India). By the time I finished emailing the links of the ads to my Uncle, it was already 8 A.M. and I didn’t feel so adventuresome about riding the bus back home anymore. So I do my 6 mile run around the neighborhood and by the time I got back home I had another idea of looking for extension cords for my Uncle’s keyboard and mouse instead, which might save them some money. The reason why they needed either a wireless keyboard and mouse or extension cords is because when we moved the desktop computer to a new desk downstairs, the cords weren’t long enough to reach between where the CPU was sitting and the top of the desk. I found the extension cord, emailed the link to my Uncle, then called him to check his email. I had to do that because despite having an internet connection for years and a new computer, they hardly ever check their email or surf the web so much so that they forget how to use it (sorry Uncle and Auntie, I just couldn’t help it J). After having done that, I finally drove to the dentist at 10 A.M. , the time I anticipated I would have been riding the bus back home.

As of this writing, I haven’t even bought the fish yet. Maybe after I finish watching this movie…

Oh well, some things just don’t go as planned.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Growing Up Catholic

Being raised under the Catholic church is so ingrained in my brain so much so that I can probably still memorize the High Latin Mass to this day even though I haven’t attended church in awhile and Latin mass is rarely said anymore. After so many domino vobiscums and et cum spiritutuos, the words just imbed themselves in the mind even though you don’t know what it means.
During Holy Week, we do the Stations of the Cross and say these prayers on every station: We adore thee o Christ and we praise thee, because of thy Holy Cross thou has redeemed the world. See that? I haven’t done the Stations of the Cross in decades!
Take another example: the Angelus which we pray every dusk. Give me the first few words and it will all probably come back to me quickly. I think it starts this way: The angel of the Lord came unto Mary…(I can almost hear the church bells pealing in the background).
Our mother had the family pray the rosary every night when I was growing up that we memorized the Litany after awhile that we didn’t even have to read the prayer book anymore. What I never memorized were the Mysteries, the glorious, the sorrowful and whatever the other one was called.
I don’t consider myself a devout Catholic but neither am I a lapsed one either because I still believe and have faith in my heart. What I wrote above I did from memory and I didn’t look anything up on the internet so if there are things that are wrong, well I hope I can still be forgiven by going to confession again. Bless me Father for I have sinned…

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Dizzy Beginning

What do you do when you wake up and see that the left side of your face is swollen, haven’t run for a whole week, then after getting out of your car you feel lightheaded probably from the aftereffects of the anesthetic given to you during oral surgery 36 hours prior? Do you run? Walk? A combination of both? Or just give up, go back home, and do nothing since you have an excuse to do so?

In my case I wanted to at least try to do the run/walk combination and be conservative with the pace and distance. Seeing Linda and Colleen certainly made that decision easier. The harder decision was how far to run or what to do when the dizziness struck again specially on a hot and humid day. The plan was to run for four minutes and walk one minute, with Linda doing 20 miles, Colleen, I wasn’t sure how much, and I was going to try the shorter 10 miles since I haven’t run for seven days while trying to recover from my ankle ailments. When we hit 2 miles I told the ladies that I might bail out and turn around on our next walk break because I was getting concerned about the dizziness. I certainly didn’t want to faint on the course and someone had to call the paramedics. Well we passed that walk break, and another, and another, until the ladies asked me why I hadn’t turned around yet. Ok, I’ll turn around at 4 miles and track back on the course so I can see the other AREC runners who started thirty minutes after us (we started early and the rest started on time). I bid Linda and Colleen goodbye at 4 miles, wished them luck on their longer run, and told them I was going to make it up to them next time when I was feeling better.

So I started tracing the course in reverse so it would give me 8 miles when I got back to the finish. I encountered the other runners and waved to them, while Todd on his bike gave me the “what’s wrong” look. So I just said “oral surgery two days ago” and that was good enough. I saw Monica who was my erstwhile pacing partner for a few weeks before I started hurting too much and she told me that I was a diehard. Then Kim and Rick came up and I gave them the same “oral surgery” excuse and they told me to be careful. Thanks for your concern everybody.

After about a mile I came into a ‘fork in the road’ situation. Do I keep running straight ahead and make it back to the finish? Or do I make a right turn on Bayshore to make it a slightly longer run? Since the dizziness seemed to have subsided, I opted for the right turn and pretty soon, I was running in the same direction as the Team in Training group and the Sole Runners group. That helped a lot and by the time I reached the finish area I was already slightly over 9 miles. The only problem was, there was nobody else at the finish and not wanting to wait around for the others to come in, I kept on running. I wanted to find Rick and Kim who were doing 10 miles. I thought they would be coming in pretty soon, but it took another 2 miles before I finally saw them. So I ran back to the finish with them and by the time we got there, I had covered a total of 13 miles. Not bad for a limpy, gimpy, slow, and dizzy runner who started out somewhat wimpy. In the end, I was all in a tizzy for what I was able to accomplish.

So what caused the lightheadedness in the early part of the run? Residual effects of anesthesia? Maybe. Loss of blood during surgery? Perhaps. But there is one thing I didn’t expect to find out during this run. Discovering a new training program: run just one day a week and still finish a half marathon (but only if you don’t care about finishing time). Wow, what a concept!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Dental Surgery Experience

My appointment on Thursday was for 10 A.M. so I left home at 8:15 A.M. estimating that it would take close to 1 ½ hours to cover the 5.5 miles in a semi-brisk walk to the dentist’s clinic, with enough time to fill out the necessary paperwork when I got there. The walk was pretty uneventful except for an approximately 50 meter section without a sidewalk on a narrow street and seeing a couple of my patients in the central part of Long Beach. I don’t think they recognized me which was probably for the best. I was thinking that central Long Beach was the dicey part of the walk and it was.

After arriving at the dentist, I filled out the expected paperwork since I was a first time patient there. Then after about 15 minutes in their reception area, I was escorted to one of the examination rooms where I waited some more. I spent my time reading a magazine until the doctor saw me. He verified the information that was sent by my referring dentist. He asked me if I had any medical problems and I told him that I had hypertension which was controlled by medications, but was uncontrolled when I visited a doctors’ office like the situation I was in now, which made him laugh. Then I asked him how long the procedure might take and what kind of anesthesia he uses. He said it was the same as the ones used during a colonoscopy (which I had last year). The meds were Fentanyl and Versed which I was familiar with. It’s a good thing he didn’t say Propofol , which killed Michael Jackson. The kind doctor said he was due for a colonoscopy too but he kept putting it off. I encouraged him to do it and told him about my experience with it, how I didn’t feel a thing and didn’t even know that the procedure was done when I woke up.

Then the doctor left to attend to other patients and a medical assistant came to the room and showed me a bill saying what my insurance company will cover and what I have to pay out of pocket. I had to pay 35% of the bill or the whole thing if my insurance company will not reimburse them. Not only that, I was told that their office was out of the network of my insurance plan. Darn! I didn’t know that. I thought that when my regular dentist referred me there, they were in the same network. Oh, well, what can I do? So when the medical assistant asked me if I wanted the procedure done that day, I had little choice but say yes. After all I had already walked all the way there and my teeth needed taking care of. First I asked if they had a payment plan and the answer was no, then I asked if they accepted credit cards and the answer was yes. Credit card it was going to be. Between buying a treadmill, paying to have it assembled, and now the dentist, my credit card is getting quite a workout this billing period. I’ll have to dip into my savings to pay for it when the bill arrives. People are often advised to save for a rainy day and this one is definitely one of those rainy days. I’m so thankful for still having a job!

More waiting followed which lasted for about two hours from the time I got there. I managed to finish reading a whole Time Magazine and part of a Newsweek until I was finally summoned to another treatment room. They had me sit on the chair, hooked me up to a blood pressure machine and pulse oximeter, then a brace was placed underneath my right arm where the doc inserted an IV line. Next they connected EKG leads to my arms and legs. I told them I didn’t realize that I was sitting on an electric chair. Then they put the oxygen mask on (not doubt to keep me from telling any more bad jokes), and injected the anesthesia. I didn’t even realize I was out until I woke up about an hour or so later.

I awoke lying on a bed with a seatbelt tied around my waist. Wow, my first experience on being put in a restraint. Normally I would be the one applying it. I felt woozy so I just stayed in bed while going in and out of a stupor. I could see the doctor and the nurses passing by to check on me. When I finally felt awake enough, I took off the seatbelt and sat on the bed. The doctor stopped by and I asked him how the procedure went and he said it went well. He asked me how I was getting back home since he knew I walked to get there. I told him that I was getting a taxicab. After another half hour they called a cab, gave me a printout of aftercare instructions and a prescription for Amoxicillin and Tylenol #3. The cab drove me back the other way from where I walked in the morning. Cost of walking to the dentist = free, cost of anesthesia and extraction of two teeth = $905.00, cost of taxicab for 5.5 miles = $20.00 plus tip. Left home at 8:15 A.M., didn’t get back till 3 P.M. I did my own unintentional version of fasting (my Muslim friends are fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan for 30 days). I hadn’t eaten from 8 P.M. the previous night until 4 P.M. the next day which was a 20 hour fast. Since I was in no position to drive to the pharmacy to have my prescription filled, I waited till the next day, and I didn’t even have them fill the order for Tylenol #3 because I wasn’t in much pain. Imagine that, rejecting narcotics!

Remember the Christmas song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”? My own version would be “My Two Back Teeth”, which I lost yesterday. The tooth fairy hasn’t left me anything yet. Maybe I should have gotten the Tylenol #3 after all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My New Treadmill - Part II

Newsflash!!! New treadmill finally assembled! Read all about it here!

The twenty four hour countdown started about 11 A.M. on the first of September. That meant having lunch, watching a video, taking a nap, then going to work at 7 P.M. Work consisted of being sent to another psych unit in the main building of the hospital where they usually house geriatric patients. I was assigned to watch a blind, homeless man who attempted to commit suicide because of his medical problems. He was not a problem at all, very cooperative and nice. I sat by his bedside all night until morning, and after feeding him breakfast, I went home to wait for the service technician with bated breathe. His arrival window was between 10 and 11 A.M. After drifting into a light sleep at 8:15, I awoke at 9:45 and couldn’t go back to sleep in eager anticipation. I checked downstairs twice until he finally arrived at 10:45.

After unloading the treadmill parts from the box, he sorted out the various screws and washers to one side, the base to another, the treadbelt and console at other places. I thought this was supposed to be a two person operation, but this guy was amazing. He read the instructions briefly and was soon on his way putting things together. With all his tools, he made it look effortless. The amount of time I would have taken reading the instructions was about the time it took him to almost finish the job. The guy was done in less than an hour. I asked him how many assemblies he does in a week and he said about six, but he does more repairs than assemblies. Then he showed me the controls from the console and then he was done. I offered him a bottle of Gatorade to go and he was on his way to his next assignment. I was left to take the boxes, plastic covers, and other debris to the trash dumpster.

After rearranging all my exercise machines in the living room to try to make everything fit, it was time for me to test the treadmill. I put on my running shoes and mounted the machine. I didn’t have any intention on running on it because I’m still trying to recover from my ankle pains and I stuck to that plan by just walking on the treadmill while trying out its controls. After figuring it out, I raised the incline from 3% to 6% while keeping the pace slow at 3 MPH and I walked for 35 minutes while reading the newspaper. I found that if I draped the newspaper over the console, I could hold on to the side rails of the treadmill. That way, I’m in less danger of falling off while I read. That was a pretty good workout in a hot living room for a recovery day. Remember: 30 minutes for the heart, 60 minutes to lose weight, and anything more than that is just long distance. So today was a minimum day for me and it was good enough. The treadmill was working well and so far I’m satisfied with it. Finally! After three weeks of waiting from the day I ordered it to today’s assembly, I have a treadmill again. I’ll be using it like a hamster.

Next topic: how will I use all these exercise machines to design a circuit training workout.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What Do You Do When Your Body Won’t?

What do you do when your joints won’t recover fast enough for the next run anymore? Two days off after last Saturday’s run and my right ankle is still very sore. Not only that, my left ankle is starting to feel some pain too. Normally, the pain on the right would have subsided by now and the one on the left would be totally gone. I don’t want to worsen the left one because it is my support leg and if that goes, then I would barely be walking. This situation is very frustrating for me. Today’s workout was supposed to be a run after two days of stationary cycling but since I’ve been hurting I opted to do a brisk walk instead. I hope it will give me a chance to recover better to the point where I can at least do a walk/run workout this coming Saturday. The half marathon trainers are supposed to so a 12 miler which is shorter than what I did the other weekend but I wasn’t in as bad a pain then as I am now.

The problem is that during a run when everything seems to be working well, I am able to tolerate some pain and that tolerance could last several hours afterwards while the endorphins are still working in my body. It is when the effect of the bodies’ natural painkiller wears out that I start feeling intense pain. It didn’t help that I had to go to work Saturday night so I wasn’t able to just put my put my feet up and get a load off my joints. It didn’t use to be a problem because I was able to recover better. Nowadays, recovery isn’t happening too well.

When I go for a run now, I never know how much my joints will be able to tolerate and I may be constantly pushing the envelope to see how far I can go. Instead of going 100% all the time, I should dial it down to about 80%. That means I probably should have waited for Kim and Rick to finish drinking at the water fountain last Saturday instead of going out on my own the last two miles of the run. The extra two mile walk after the run didn’t help either. I’ll have to learn self control even if I’m having a good day of running so I don’t debilitate myself. Sorry, but no happy ending to this post.