Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moving towards the Mountain.

I once had a violin teacher tell me that playing violin was like walking towards a mountain. With daily practice, we continuously get closer and closer to the top; it may take a long time, but eventually we'll get there.

But he also warned about the dangers of improper practice and how by not focusing, not paying attention, letting our intonation become sloppy and not listening to ourselves - we move further away from that peak. And the only way of fixing ourselves, once we've set upon this improper path, is to practice the RIGHT way, retrace our steps, and continue on our path. It will take longer to reach the top (which is why its important to get it right the first few times) - but we'll eventually reach wherever it is we're trying to get to.

One way or another.

Mr. Yamada was a fantastic teacher. A little frightening, perhaps (especially to a 13-year old kid who sought approval and permission to solo at the "top" recital at Suzuki Violin Camp - an honor granted to maybe the top 12 violinists at camp) - but his lessons stuck with me.

In the past few days, I figured it would behoove me to apply this same logic to Multisport. True: I haven't yet been given clearance to swim-bike-run-functional strength YET. However, my doctor DID concede walks and hikes as part of my daily regiment.


Last weekend, I had finally had enough. Nearly two-weeks of being-stuck-inside-coughing-with-only-the-cats-for-company + beautiful weather + the longing to race/compete/get those competitive juices flowing + Oceanside 70.3 just up the coast - I had to break free.

I told Nathaniel that I was going for a hike - and that he could join me if he wanted. But that I needed to get out. NOW.

We ended up heading towards the backside of Camp Pendleton - away from the throngs of Oceanside athletes and spectators, away from our place and the alarming number of empty Kleenex boxes, far far away from people, cars, noise, or the reminders of my being constantly sick. It was just the rolling green hills, fire roads, and the occasional used-up ammunition round.

And I loved it.

We definitely didn't push it, I listened to my body, and at the end of the day didn't feel any worse for the wear. In my head, I took one step closer to the Healthy and Happy Mountain Peak. And sometimes - and especially when we're sick and tired of being sick and waiting for test results and not training the way we want - that's the best thing ever.

Aside from individual pieced sheet cake. The cheap frosting kind...none of this fancy 'butter cream' crap. Just give me the cake and mounds of sugar.

But I digress.

Today I just had to get out. Again. No symphony rehearsal meant that - as long as I practiced those tricky sections from Mozart's 40th Symphony on my own (because I DON'T want my section to get called out like we did last night. Ugh) - I could head out, solo and impromptu. And happy. So that's exactly what I did....

This time, I remembered the camera...

Passing under the canopy at the beginning.
Destination: that top peak on the right there....via the trail straight ahead.
Green green green hills!
Half way up one of the first big hills. Note the yellow wistle...With my pack and focus on safety, I felt a bit like "Russel" from Pixar's 'Up'. Maybe I'll make myself an Honorary Wilderness Explorer...
Looking ahead to the upper half of the big ass-hill that I still need to tackle.
A Little Lizard Friend!
Mud on the trail...indicating a rare SoCal water source.
Triceratops or Rock? How about Tricerarock? I know. I'm sorry - bad joke. But the rock formation is neat, regardless.
Trails branching out somewhere below...
Getting closer. I think I can I think I can I think I can...I realize this self-portrait is almost exactly the same as the last one. Oops. I was more focused on not tripping on the rocks than smiling. At least the background is different.

GREAT summit view, looking towards the Cleveland National Forest and Eastern San Diego County.
Parts of the trail.
Parking lot and SR-67 overlook
Pac-man Rock.
Blooming flowers!
My shadow kept me company, although I saw lots and lots (and lots) of people on the trail. Which really made me happy, as I knew my chances of being eaten by a mountain lion were statistically lower.
Fields of wildflowers, growing on a slope that was destroyed by one of many wildfires in 2003.
Waterfall (yes, tiny compared to some...but proof that there IS running water - in late March)
Green slopes on the Western side.
At the end of the day, it was a fantastic hike. And while I still miss the activity involved with Swim-Bike-Run, at least I feel like I'm not moving away from my Multisport + Happy + Healthy Mountain. Could I have done more? Probably...but why risk it? It was just GREAT to be outside, to enjoy nature, think to myself, relish the greenery and spectacular views, and remember all the wonderful things that I have to be thankful for.

Triathlon will return - and hopefully after my next appointment on the 8th, I'll get the clearance I need to start training the way I want. Until then, I know that I'm no longer moving away from the mountain - but I'm still enjoying the views and taking the lessons learned in stride. And really - right now, that's all I can ask for.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thank You Time.

Sometimes you just come to a fork in the road and...you take a picture. Pause. Think. Look both ways and cross the tracks...and keep going - knowing that you could have gone the other way, but you didn't.

As determined as I am to not let this pneumonia get the best of me, I would be pulling your leg if I didn't admit that I've felt a bit blue over the past few days. Its not about the racing, its definitely not about the training...

(Okay. You got me there. I miss the training. I never was a good liar anyway. I tend to laugh at the most inopportune of moments. I guess that's why I never play poker - just about anyone can call my bluff. But that's besides the point.)

I just miss the outdoors, I miss being myself. I miss parts of me. But I'm taking things day by day (by day, day by day - ode to Ben Stiller in "Meet The Parents"), and holding fast to the notion that with each day that passes, I'm one day closer to being pneumonia-free. And that is reason enough to jump for joy.

On the flip side...there are SO MANY things to be grateful and thankful for. Some slightly serious (great friends) and others that are, well, downright goofy (cold grapefruit). In order to cheer myself up - I made a list.


-Saucony! I'm part of the Saucony Hurricane Program, and absolutely LOVE running in my Progride Guide 3s. The shoes are fantastic - especially as I was having so many calf and shin problems with my other-brand shoes at the end of last year. Once I made the switch to Saucony, I've been a MUCH happier camper (when I've been able to run), and haven't looked back. That being said - not much racing or training going on.

However...what did I find when I came home from today's new doctor's appointment? Two large boxes waiting on my front step with GREAT Saucony gear! I am SUPER excited to be a part of this awesome program - the attention to detail and care that Saucony gives all athletes is amazing. I sent my rep a THANK YOU email RIGHT away...and then threw on the running shorts. Just because they are comfy and I love them and maybe I can "will" my way to better health. It was the best pick-me-up an athletic gal-at-heart can get.

- Stacy...my incredible, awesome, amazing friend who helped me find a new doctor (who I think is totally fabulous!). Stacey - I know I've sent you emails...and I'm totally looking forward to chasing you around GWL and Mt Laguna in a few (fingers crossed and knock on wood) weeks - but I'm saying it again. THANKS for your help. You didn't have to do what you did - but you did anyway. Awesome!

- i-tunes. Because when you're sick as a dog, you don't want to leave the house if you can help it and none of the movies in your collection seem appealing. Yeah. Notably, I'd like to call out to the following films, which have kept me very entertained (with numerous views)
* Up. (Can I just say I think this is one of the best movies. Ever. And I totally want a dog like Doug now. In fact, whenever I see a dog - I think of the "puppies" from Up. Sure - I laughed and cried repeatedly throughout - but it was great. Bravo Pixar!)

* New Moon. Okay, okay - I fell for the 'Twilight Saga' thingy. At least the movie was WAY better than the book. Now...let's get film #3 to be released....

* Julie & Julia. Cooking, food, good storyline...need I say more? Bravo!

-Kleenex with aloe and lotion. Because after near constant tissue use, I don't think I would have a nose left if what I was blowing in hadn't been medicinally altered. Yeah. Still - my nose has adopted a near constant red state-of-being (but at least it matches m Saucony gear!).

-Fake fireplace. The ambiance does me good, even if I have to appreciate it between nose-blowing and cough episodes.

-Blog friends, people, random strangers who leave encouraging messages of support. The downs of life aren't always easy. And when things are humming along to a perfect tune - the bad stuff never seems as bad and the GREAT stuff is always in the forefront. But at some point or another, the tide turns - if even for a little bit. No matter how crummy I feel, how many boxes of Kleenex I go through, or how many times I make Nathaniel cringe by hacking up another loogie - I am ALWAYS grateful and thankful for my many wonderful friends and support system. THANK YOU!

- Mozart. Because he is MUCH easier to play than the random Polish-composers we played for our last concert series. And he sounds better too. Trust me.

- The Green Fern. So far, I've managed to keep my fern alive for the past month. Hooray! (Read: I'm not a plant killer and therefore totally inept when it comes to other life forms). He/She is still looking great and not at all "wilty".

-Cold grapefruit. Yep, this one's for real. I cut it up into tiny sections and spoon it out the way I did when I was a little kid. Its one of the things I can still taste in my congested-state. And it is delicious with every scoop.

-The new toilet bowl plunger. Yes - I think my toilet has it in for me. Perhaps its the medication, lack of exercise, change in diet - or all three. Its never a good thing when you find yourself praying that everything will flush before even attempting to flush. Seriously - its not my internal plumbing...its just the pipes in our condo. At least the new plunger makes life a little easier.

-Real Housewives of ______________. (take your pick). I don't normally watch this shite, but lately I have been. I'll blame the late night coughing fits. And in all seriousness - it makes me feel better about myself (even in my pneumatic-state.)

-Book Club. They make me feel better about the stuff I watch on TV (that was sort of a joke). I'm looking forward to this weekend's meeting... We just finished reading "The Likeness" by Tana French. Good read about Utopian-like societies...and such...but that's all I'm saying. The writing wasn't as draw-you-in-can't-put-it-down fantastic as last month's "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett - but the themes were intriguing and I'm interested in seeing where the discussion will go...Good ending, but I think I would have liked it better had I been feeling healthier while reading. Oh well.

- Outside deck: because at least if I can't train outside, I'll at least get to enjoy sitting out here. (And NO - this is not my outside deck. Its one of the train depots in downtown San Diego. I took a few pictures when I was down there last January with Dad...)

- To ME. For not totally spazzing out about not training/racing, going with the flow, being kind to myself, letting myself eat (and enjoy!) chocolate, and realizing that sometimes we need to get on a different train for a time being - and that's okay. Because the destination - whatever we choose it to be - will still be there. When we're ready.

Now...I'm just waiting for my train, and trying to decide which one is right for me. I'll be sure to keep you posted - just in case you were worried.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Day by day, by day...by day.

Well - at this point I'm taking things day by day. I've given up entirely on racing or really any productive early-season training. Hopefully this means that I'll be SUPER ready to go by September and October. Part of me is really sad. I miss the sport, I miss being active, I miss feeling like me.

And, I had a 2008-broken-back-flashback when today, I walked for an hour. Its been a while since I considered a walk of any sort a form of exercise...but when you're recovering from pneumonia - well, all bets are off.

On the plus side - I get to spend more time with Nathaniel (yea!) and his parents who are in town.

Just before this photo was taken, Nathaniel popped the hood on the helicopter and gave us a quick explanation.

I was floored.

Wearing the uniform and listening to him talk about mechanical and aviation-type things - well, suffice to say, the guy was hot.

But enough of that. I'm going to stop before I make my in-laws ill. Or my parents. Ew.

So on that note - I'm just trucking along. Counting walking as a working out and waiting breathlessly for the days when I can swim-bike-run sans pneumonia. And that my friends - will be great.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The NEW ID card...

This was from Maria... It was too good to NOT share!

Maria: you are AWESOME! Thank you for making me giggle, laugh, feel loved - this was the highlight of my Friday afternoon. Thank you friend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Confiscated ID Card.

I've never come even remotely close to being thrown out of a public building. Hopefully it won't happen again.

Wednesday morning I found myself driving up to the normal health clinic for my ER-diagnosed pneumonia follow-up appointment. I was interested not only in what my regular doctor had to say, but to see if she had any ideas or suggestions about possible immunity problems. Not that I haven't already tried. Trust me, I have.

[At some point though, enough is enough. I can't tell you how many blood tests, internal specialists, exams, scans and an assortment of other tests that I've had done. I don't think its a lack of cooperation or trying on my health provider's part... I think whatever I have going on is outside the scope of their practice. Additionally, I think the pneumonia was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back; I'm eager for a second opinion and a fresh perspective. (And have taken the steps to do so!)]

But I digress....

This will be the last time I walk through these doors I thought grimly as I climbed the steps. I tried not to wheeze or cough. I wasn't successful. No more Tricare Prime for me...Standard - and the ability to choose my own doctors - all the way from now on.

And I guess, in retrospect, walking into a building with the confidence that it will be your last visit to said building, isn't always a good thing. Then again hindsight is, well, hindsight.

I'm not really proud of what I did; in a way I just had to blow off some steam. Was I looking for a fight? Perhaps. But Julie and Sunshine took the brunt of my displeasure.

Let me back up a bit.

Just bare with me - it won't take long. My race reports are MUCH longer, trust me.

I left the house in a bit of a panic. I had lost my wallet - containing all important documentation, credit cards, and a lovely picture of Nathaniel and myself. I look at that image everyday and think about how lucky I am; you had better be sure I wanted my wallet back! (Later on after my appointment, we found it on the couch - squashed between the cushions when Tabbitha and her cat-ass had sat on it. Ew).

There were some tears and frustration - not just with the missing cards, but with my state of health. I threw a few things off the counter, and took great satisfaction to the clanging they made on the wood floors. At least I'm not holding back, holding things in. Thank you 2008 bike crash lessons learned!

But I know how important ID cards are with the military and - for one crazy second - thought the clinic staff wouldn't let me see my doctor because I was missing my ID. In retrospect, all I had to do was take a deep breath for them; they could have heard the pneumonia and verified that I was who I claimed to be.

So instead, I grabbed my first military ID card ever issued. It expired way back in 2007, and through some quirk I had managed to keep it (technically it was "US Government Property". I found that out - later), and faithfully stored it in my bike tool kit. I figured that, even though I carried ID and health cards EVERY time I rode my bike - it never hurt to have an additional ID card in my bike bag. You just never know.

Flash forward....

I'm walking into the clinic...turning red to suppress my cough and not expose the full waiting room, worrying about my lost ID cards, more worried about my current bout with pneumonia.

I waited until the clerk gestured me forward and in a breathless (pneumatic) sort-of-way said, "Hi! I have a 10:30 with Dr. H."

I thought for a brief second I might be able to get away without presenting my expired military ID. I was wrong.

I handed the girl, who looked very nice on first glance, my military ID and explained, "I lost my wallet and couldn't find my regular military ID. This one is expired, but its the only thing I have. I didn't know if you guys would need to check or not. I figure with pneumonia I could just cough and you'd know who I am..."

Let me clarify: when I'm nervous, I talk. A lot.

"Oh." She replied. "Okay - let me just check you in."

I seriously thought everything was going to be okay. That she would hand me back my ID card. I could hear the nurse calling my name and I called over my shoulder that I would be back in just a moment.

And then I heard it. "Oh wait...Um, ma'am?"

Its never a good sign when a 25-year old calls a 29-year old "Ma'am".

"Ma'am? Did you know that your ID card is expired?"

Did I not already go over that with her?

"Yes - you see...I was in a hurry. I lost my wallet and I grabbed my old ID card. I keep it with my bike bag - just in case I get into another bike accident. I like to have an extra form of ID on me at all times. You know...to keep safe."

I tried to stress the word "extra" - as though I would never ever ever walk around knowingly with an expired ID card. Heck, I freak out when our vehicle tags are even remotely close to expiring (after a tearful encounter with a lovely North Carolina Highway Patrolmen, who although sympathetic to my waterworks and expired tags, still wrote me a hefty ticket). I just don't like being in trouble. It makes me nervous. It makes me upset.

Heck, I barely even speed (anymore). And - the real topper. I'm working on feeling less guilty when I miss a workout in Training Peaks. Not that I would ever get in trouble...I just follow the rules, follow the directions.

I never even participated in underage drinking - I swear. And no, I don't expect you to believe me. But I really didn't.

"Well, you see. Your card is expired and I'll have to keep it." She suddenly didn't seem so friendly. And I could sense that her tone took a slightly hard edge to it.

And then - right at that exact moment - I could feel it: I was getting pissed.

Very rarely do I relish a good fight. I can only think of two - maybe three times in my life where I've openly looked forward to a showdown with another person. One was at music camp when three directors wanted my 14-year-old-self to sigh financial papers saying that my parents were responsible for all expenses for the FULL 5-week camp, when I was too homesick and wanted to leave early. It wasn't cheap, but I knew enough to never sign anything. My Mom is great with this stuff. In the end I prevailed (and I still marvel at the kid I was...still wish I could go back and give her a hug. It wasn't easy - but I'm proud that I didn't even cry (in the adult's presence).

The second was when some Lt. Col's wife told me I had to volunteer for something because Nathaniel was the detachment's Officer-in-Charge during his second deployment. I very kindly told her where she could stick it. We resulted to shouting obscenities over the phone at each other, when she threatened to have Nathaniel blacklisted from being accepted to flight school (her husband was writing one of Nate's many letters of recommendation). Clearly - her reach is far (not). But the fight felt good, the heated words did much to relieve myself of the pre-deployment stress I was going through.

And we got the last laugh; Nathaniel not only got into flight school, but graduated with top honors and got the aircraft that he wanted in the location that he wanted (which is extremely difficult to do. I'm very proud of my guy...).

I thought briefly back to those two instances - I had won them both. And while there was little I could to to retrieve my ID card (short of jumping over the desk - NOT going to happen with my pneumatic state. And I didn't relish being arrested for assault on a government employee), I could at least voice my displeasure.

Again; I'm not proud. But I'm also frustrated. Upset. ANGRY. Tired of being sick - and unfortunately Julie (as her name turned out to be) was the perfect target.

"Oh really? Are you serious?"

Her non-blink, non-response showed me how serious she was.

And then I started talking much louder.

"This us unreal. Abso-fuckin'-lutely nuts. Are you for real? I mean, I've had that ID card for years. YEARS. And there's never been a problem. Its a safety concern - would you even understand that? No, because you are here. I put it on my bike at ALL times. Give it back."

And then - I put both hands in the counter, with my hair slightly askew and wheezed, "Give me back my ID card. Now."

You could have heard a pin drop. I could have sworn there were crying babies when I first walked in - but they were silent. Even the other clerks had stopped filing, stopped talking, and were watching our exchange.

She continued in a slow, deliberate calm voice. Which of course made me even angrier - but I didn't care and I tried to not let it show. "Your ID is expired. It is US Government Property. I DON'T know how you managed to keep it all these years or get a new one with the old one. But its MY job to get confiscate it. And there's no need to be upset."

I was looking forward to this. I really didn't think I would get the card back - but that wasn't the point. I was sick, I couldn't find my regular cards, and I felt like I had nothing (even though I knew that wasn't the case). And there she was - taking something else away from me. Looking back I know I was extremely upset. But again...hindsight.

"Oh wow. Do you think this is upset? Because man - if you want upset, I'll GIVE you upset. I can't tell you HOW many times I've been here in the past few months with no answers and now - of all things I have a fucking case of pneumonia. I'm sick. And I'm tired. And now YOU have taken my only ID card. I carry that ID card in my bike bag. What part of 'back-up' don't you get? This is un-fucking-believable."

She stammered, "Ma'am...I can't give you this card back. Its...expired."

"Fine," I snapped. I pulled my Mom's favorite line, "Where's your supervisor?"

A second - even younger girl walked forward, even though she had been witness to the entire exchange. Even the nurses had stopped calling patients forward and were watching. Had there been a security guard, I'm sure I would have already been thrown out.

"My name is Sunshine. How can I help you."

I just looked at her. And then I laughed. "Are you serious? Oh my God. Is that your real name?"

"Yes," came the reply.

"Wow." I said. "Well, Sunshine and....what's your name?....Julia," I read off her name tag. "I'm very upset. You have taken an ID card that I use when I bike. My wallet has been lost and this is the only thing I could find. I'm taking your names and you'll be hearing from me. This is unbelievable."

And then she just had to get smart. Which is exactly what I would have done, had I been in her shoes. "Don't tell me that this is the only form of ID that you bike with? You can't be serious."

From somewhere, my nurse put her hand on my arm and said very sweetly, "Let's go...its not worth it."

I had to get in one more lick. I couldn't help it - "Have you not been listening to ANYTHING? Good God - NO! I SAID that this is my SPARE ID. My regular wallet is lost and I'm in the process of LOOKING for it. I've never been treated like this before - this is unreal and unheard of. Un-fucking-believable..." My words felt like knives, stabbing through the air. But the release felt good - even if I was one-expired-ID-card short of my goal.

And I left it at that.

I can't say that I'm proud of what I did. And later - sitting in the sterile appointment room, waiting for a doctor whom I knew wouldn't give me the answers that I was so desperately seeking - I cried.

I cried because I was ashamed of my behavior, of how I spoke to another person (persons). I knew that they were just doing their jobs, and that even on my military ID card it states "Property of US Government." I cried because I'm so sad and tired of being sick. And I cried for all the people who are currently ill and searching for answers. Its not fair, its not right. No one should have to go through this.

And I cried because I'm scared. Part of me knows that eventually things will get better, that my body will recover and that it will be stronger for having endured what it went through. But in the mean time...I'm still sick, and waiting for answers.

And then, very quickly - so no one would know how upset I was - I splashed cool water on my face and blew my nose. I figured the red and puffy eyes could be blamed on the pneumonia and general crumminess that accompanies it.

I never did apologize to Julie and Sunshine. After my appointment I walked out - sans ID card - to my car. Too proud to offer sympathetic words, to fearful of public tears, to ashamed to face the individuals I took my anger out on.

With that being said: To Julie and Sunshine - I'm sorry. Please forgive my unruly behavior. It won't happen again. (Especially since I really won't be setting foot in your clinic). But bravo for dealing with an unhappy patient - you stood your ground, you held firm, and you did your job. Good work! Enjoy the ID card and I hope that you confiscated it in a manner that would make Uncle Sam proud!

Oh - and sorry for making fun of your name. Yeah - that wasn't very nice either. Hopefully I'll never see you again.

At the end of the day, I think that we all have a breaking point. We are pushed to a certain extent and we can handle only so much. And if there's something wrong we NEED to find a productive way of getting our feelings OUT. Some ways may be more appropriate than others...but NEVER ever ever deny the feelings that you have. Anger, frustration, fear, sadness - all very normal emotions that everyone experiences. Some, more than others...true. But don't deny the feelings exist, even if you're afraid of how they may come off.

Oh well - enough for now. After I arrived home, Nathaniel remarked that my mood was remarkably improved (for having learned nothing new about my health), and eventually we found the wallet. But I really DID feel better - even if it was at the expense of poor Sunshine and Julie. All's well that ends well, I guess. Confiscated ID card and all. And with that note...

The End.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


First - THANK YOU to everyone for your kind and thoughtful comments. They mean a lot - and I'm always grateful for your support. See...the community of triathletes and even those non-triathletes are/is wonderful. Also - for the many fantastic emails from friends and family...thanks. My replies may have been a tad, um, long - but I'm not going anywhere fast.

Still - thanks!

Things for me have looked mostly like this...
Me and two house monsters. Tabbitha front and center and Anabelle's rear view.

I know, I know - the flash (or lack thereof) is off. Nathaniel was trying to fiddle around with it during last weekend's concert. But I think we got it fixed. After this photo.

I've been parked on the couch. Literally. Parked. On. The. Couch. This having pneumonia thing is really exhausting! Phew! I have to personally thank my Mom for dusting the triangle shelves when she was here last month - from where I'm sitting they look great! And given my current state of boredom, I probably would have gotten up to dust.

Oh my.

But I've got two kitties keeping me company. Actually - they're fighting an eternal struggle for posession of the Most Awesome Fleece Blanket Ever (again - thanks Mom). I think for once, The Ugly Green Recliner is finishing a distant second. But don't you go and get worried: its still there, Ugly. And Green.

Now I'm just waiting. Waiting. Waiting.... ho hum.

I haven't practiced violin for a few days, but I'll get back to it tomorrow. I think I'll be strong enough to hold the darned thing up. And as I've got an entirely new concert of music to learn by next week's rehearsal - I had better get the ball rolling.

As for the training. Ah yes...that thing I so love to do and dearly miss.

Well - I'm no fan of junk miles. And given the fact that I lean up against a wall while waiting for our elevator, and find the walk from the bedroom to the kitchen tiring - I won't be doing anything too soon. But all in good time...that will return.

So that's the latest and greatest.

I think I'm going to have dinner and take my prescription narcotic medicine to help suppress my cough (so I can actually sleep at night - wonderful!). Appropriately I'm going to watch Pixar's "Up". Again. Ha ha - oh well. I'll blame the pneumonia for my weak jokes...

Here's to YOUR health and happiness - wherever you may be. And thank you again to everyone - you know who you are...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just when...

...I thought it couldn't get any worse, it did. Mother Nature has a very funny way of throwing us curve balls (and no - I am absolutely NOT pregnant). Just when I thought the tides had turned, the winds had changed, that I was standing on the dawn of a new day (can you see the sun rise? The wind flowing through my chemically-altered hair...? Hear the swelling of violins?)-

Things changed.

My new diagnosis: Pneumonia.

I wish I was kidding - but sadly, I'm not.

I've spent the past day searching for The Why. Trying to figure out what happened - and when. And Jen and Elizabeth have both been fantastic along the way. So too were my folks and Nathaniel (but that goes without being said. But it should be said - because I'm very lucky to have them in my life).


Why is this happening to me?

I don't want to throw a pity party - and I try to refrain from doing stuff like that...because there's not much I can do. But this is beyond training and racing. This is affecting my Quality of Life, overall health and happiness. Something so trivial as racing is at the very back of my mind at the point (where it should be).

I want my health back. Everything else will be icing on the cake.

Could it go back to Kona? Before Hawaii?? Or was it the recovery afterwards? Was it sinus infection #1 or #4?? Or the January cough that felt awful but (according to my then-but-now-about-to-be-fired doctor) didn't need an X-Ray because it "didn't sound that bad"? Perhaps the dumbfuck (and I get to say that because its my blog and I'm frustrated) that SHOWED UP TO TUESDAY TRACK WITH BRONCHITIS...?


Sorry about that.

Actually - not really. Again...its MY blog. And I get to rant.

But seriously - where's the line? Where's the rush to train through illness? Is it REALLY helping? Think about it asshole and then get back to me.

When I started coughing last Thursday, I thought it was sinus drainage (the possible culprit in my January cough - again...according to my newly-minted-ex-doctor). Friday was about the same...and then I skipped Saturday's Masters swim because it just didn't feel "right". I was tired and didn't think the intensity would do me good. I substituted the hike instead - and didn't regret it for a moment.

The day was beautiful, time with Nathaniel was extraordinary, and being outside in the greenness of Southern California was priceless. No regrets.

As for the Orchestral Performance - I loved it! It was fantastic - and I am SO happy about playing the violin. That being said - I feel awful about exposing people to my germs. Had I know what was really going on, there is NO WAY I would have performed. Also... I may have peed a little trying to suppress my cough during one of the pieces. But no major harm done...I was sucking on cough suppressants and sipping Robitussin during intermission.

But I did learn that - I can hold in a MAJOR cough - extremely well.

Sunday night was rough: I thought about going in to the Emergency Room...but figured I would call my doctor in the morning first thing. And naturally - every other sick-person-over-the-weekend was also calling. First thing. Long story short: there were no appointments available until Wednesday, and given my lack of sleep, cough, congestion, and rapidly-diminishing mood - that was unacceptable.

And instead of heading to Camp Pendleton's Naval Hospital - where during my last ER visit I waited 5 hours before being seen (don't ask) - I headed to Scripps Hospital (same place where I went post-bike crash. I figured they did a SUPER job fixing me once, they could probably do a better job than anything that I've already gotten. Sorry - another rant. Its the pneumonia... I swear that I can't help it). They were GREAT. The doctors and nurses were completely understanding, didn't make me feel like I was crazy for having the symptoms that I had, and confirmed something was very wrong.

And then they gave me the necessary tools to fix the pneumonia.

Still - there's the undercurrent of Something Else That's Not Right going on. Four sinus infections + 1 suspect January cough + 1 sinus surgery + 1 Pneumonia since late October...Wow. That's just...well....wow. Not right.

But that's long term focus. Short term - squash the pneumonia. And take steps to fix Long Term Issues. Finding a new doctor is a start. From there - we'll see. I'm open to just about anything at this point. The part that makes me sad - is I miss training. I miss that great run feeling. Feeling STRONG in the pool. And like I've got that extra gear on the bike.

I miss feeling like me.

But I also need to be grateful for what I've got...

I've got a fantastic family and network of friends. My social network is incredible - and I'm grateful to everyone. Even if we've never met - thank you for taking the time to share this Journey with me. And for Those who are going through struggles of their own - you are not alone. Life isn't easy. And we can't always control what happens... But know that you are not alone.

And a bag of Peanut M&Ms never hurt.

I'm so happy to be playing the violin again - and in a professional orchestra, no doubt! It is fantastic... and I'm already exploring other facets of music that I would like to pursue in the near future.

I feel like I've reached a great balance. That things in my life are all coming together - that I've managed to unravel my Knot, picking apart the various threads and "stuff" is falling into place. Except for that pesky health thread.

So...with that being said (and with some help from Saturday's hike pictures - because those were some really happy moments for us)...

The Road may be long and uphill at times...

With some curves thrown in for good measure...

Undoubtedly there will be bumps along the way...

Some rough, prickly bits as well...

And the destination may seem very far away...

But I've got the best friend (and fantastic support system) EVER...

And I know that through it all, lessons will be learned, I'll discover more about myself, and things eventually will work out. They just may take a little more time than I initially thought... And that's okay. Because as long as I can keep my eye on the prize (health!) and the many wonderful things going on in my life - I'll be happy.Sideways-glasses and all.

If anyone has ANY ideas, suggestions, or advice. Bring it. I may or may not have headed to an homeopathic vitamin store (casually mentioned to me by a sympathetic nurse) - but that's a different post. For now its (more) pain meds, antibiotics, and the Will To Survive.

Everything else is just icing my friends, icing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

By Day, By Night...

Today we did this...(and yes, there were some VERY steep parts!)

While tonight, there was a little of this...The violin...ready to go.
Nathaniel, fueling to spectate!
Too nervous to eat.
(Warming up, 20 minutes before the concert...)

A great hike late morning around the Mike Turf area of Camp Pendleton, followed up by my first orchestral performance in 12+ years. Yes - I felt a little rusty performing with an orchestra... I may have skipped dinner due to pre-race, errrr, performance jitters. But all was well.

Overall it was a great day - even for these two... who could rest easy. Literally.

And tomorrow - I get to do it all over again. The performance, that is. Great for ironing out those missed cues, I suppose. As for the hike - while I loved just about every minute (even the 45-degree angle part), will have to be put on hold. I've got a run on tap - and as long as my sinuses cooperate, we should be good to go.

Have a GREAT Sunday Everyone!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Look before you jump

Have you ever had one of those days?

You know the kind...

Where - you tell yourself that you're not swimming slow...just that everyone else in the lane is SUPER fast. And the day just d-r-a-g-s on because you're waiting for someone special to come home after being gone for nearly a month...

When you question how much slower you can run, because at this rate you most certainly will not break any records...and running group track the previous evening just solidified that fact. And in spite of making healthy nutrition choices and fueling for performance, bits of you just refuse to shrink...

And the various passages of music that you've been practicing over and over and over again - sound, well...yucky, and hopefully don't reflect your professionalism and commitment to the violin.

But in spite of the many things that seem slightly 'off' today - at least I'm not the one responsible for this sign:

At some point you just need to sit back and laugh. With dedication and hard work the swimming will get faster, the running will improve, the body will come around, the music will be learned, and time will pass as it always has and Nathaniel will be home Friday.

But at least I'm not the idiot responsible for breaking the ceiling fan by jump roping directly under it - and than no matter how crappy of a day I think I might be having - somebody is clearing having a much worse time.

And the great news?

I'm one swim stronger, one track workout faster, one violin rehearsal better - than I was before the day started. So there.

Plus - I've got two loving kitties to keep me company in the mean time...

I wish I could classify these as a 'before' and 'after' pictures of the same cat. Unfortunaltey - it's not. Clearly - the House Monster is distinguishable from the Mini Monster.

Though they're still afraid of this guy...

But that's a different post for another day. Until then - if you decide to jump rope, make sure there are no ceiling fans in close proximity to your person. Seriously. Oh, and just take things one day at a time, bit by bit...I know I am.