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Monday, October 22, 2012

Deep, dark depths...

Sometimes I wonder if my focus on running is a metaphor for my life. I tremendously unhappy with certain aspects of my life presently, but, through all the bad turns, the moment I step outside, and start pushing that ridiculous jogger, I feel better. I know it helps me mentally work through the days missteps, and also helps me to reconnect neuronal pathways for balance, and, hopefully, agility. I dream that one day I won't need to use a jogger for balance, and that ill be able to elongate my stride, and pick up my pace. Yep, that will be the day.

The consensus seems to be presently, that I move from event, as a method of fleeing from government funded disaster of a rehab program. I really didn't agree with that allegation, but now, as I face my last event of the year, I wonder if I somehow, have misguided myself, into a frenzied, action oriented life style, once again, .. because that's my true nature, or because it takes me out of the demeaning, negative lifestyle, I'm currently up to my eyeballs in. I live between a rock, and a hard place currently. Mentally, I just want to leap off, and hit the ground running! Physically, we all know I'm not there yet, but, I can say, I get closer everyday, even if it doesn't feel that way.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gloomy, yet, fun fall days

I feel a need to sum up my week in general today. I've been been a little down recently. A little bit of everything really. It's like I woke up one morning, and realized how very different my life is now, from anything I'd ever planned for. It's not as though I feel like things are hopeless, it's more like re-learning to put life in perspective. I still can't decide exactly where I want to go from here, but, my plan is to go ahead, jump right in, and figure things out along the way, as we all do. We all. Face our own sets of challenges each day. Therefor, who am I to whine about my brain injury, and all of the ridiculous situations I find myself in, because of. It's as though I've been slated to return to elementary school in my 20's, yet gotten kicked out, and had to eek out an existence that I, nor others understand. Anyways, that said, I know I'm still trudging forward, despite the sinking fear I will be stuck on government programs forever. I'm convinced, this environment and rigid programming, us responsible for the insipid numbers of ever increasing social disorders in this country. This Is so not what I intended for tonight's topic to be. Although, now I'm curios if there are case studies involving this type of hypothesis. Can you tell I studied sciences in college? Anyways, I'm just reaching what feels like a mental tipping point, in regards to what I'll tolerate. Apparently, not much at the moment, but that's a huge leap from the past few years, where it rarely occured to me to change a situation I didn't care for. I also have a hard time, the more I become aware of how fortunate I am, to not only have the abilities, and mobility I do today, when 5 years ago, we were all told there wasn't any hope that I'd regain much of anything. I got out easy, in those days, as I don't actually recall much of it, I can just read the blog, from those days. That's actually been so helpful Fo me, as I progress, to maintain awareness and insight about the ever so long journey I've been on. Last week, I genuinely felt crushed, by life, in general here. I felt bad for myself, and was consistently upset with each piece of my life. Over the weekend, I worked out, running, spinning, and attempting yoga. Monday, I cleaned my living space, tried to regain focus, practiced my tongue twisters, from a new vocal teacher I've sought out. Not a therapist, but a teacher, of annunciation, and diction. I really need help in this area, and am hopeful working with someone trained, only for the modification the sound, and volume, at least, in my case, will be the ticket. I then, ran 4 miles , and brought banana bread I'd made to a pot luck. Tuesday, was a little back slide, I still ran, and did all of un done house chores, that take me unreasonable amounts of time, such as laundry, and cat box replacement. I could not detest the task of laundry any more than I do, because it is so time consuming, to wash, dry, sort and put away clothes. Takes upwards of 4 hours for me. But, I did it, all in one go. My reward to myself, was to go for a run. You, probably think that's weird, but, running gets rid if the negative energy I don't want to carry around.
That evening, I attended a mini-gala at CHIPS, where I interned last year. I've decided to become a board member there, and was able to attend my first board meeting. As well, as have a conversation about job openings within the office. It was a remarkable night, for me, to once again understand, and relive the meanings if compassion, rand respect. They are so fortunate, as a community to have staff members who go the extra mile to complete all projects to appropriate standards, and beyond. Wednesday, I already detailed for you, about the anti-gravity treadmill, and my vocal training, and of course more running. Thursday, Hillary and I got back on track with our yoga classes, to begin, and end the day. In between, I did some of my typical idiotic moves, such as trying to scale a grassy, though vertical hill. Looking back, I could've exercised better judgement in trying to do that. I look at physical challenges very simply. You don't know what you can do, until you try. I ever so gracefully ascended 2 steps, only to loose my footing, and land in a heap. Here's hoping no one saw that ridiculous try. It's funny writing about the ridiculous things I try to see if I can do. Only now does it occur to me, that to an unknowing observer, I must appear, well, crazy... Though I probably have already thought that for quite a while...
The reason for that stroll I just detailed, was to harass a local non-profit, Local Motion, about potential opportunities to partner with local adaptive organizations, to increase awareness, and get more people, of every ability, out and moving. They were very receptive, and I look forward to potentially helping them put together an event.
That brings me to today, Friday. Dressed to run, yet never actually made myself get out there. Our fall this year, is more reminiscent of a typical NE spring. Cold, and rainy... I had no desire to subject myself to the elements. Instead, I had a slow morning, before getting a ride to a local rock gym, Petra Cliffs. Back in the day, 2007, I shared an apartment with some college friends. It was a duplex, and the couple in the other apartment ran Petra Cliffs. Having that connection made approaching them so much easier for me. I already knew they were warm, friendly souls, and was optimistic they'd be interested in putting an adaptive event together. The meeting went so well, and Andrea immediately reached out to her adaptive contacts, so that we might all be able to partner, and hopefully reach a larger volume of people! Andrea, if you read this, you hung-go willingness to help me pull off an all inclusive adaptive event made my week, and I got to test run on a zero G treadmill this week, so, it was a pretty great week already!
After Petra,the 'dream team was reunited, yep, Hillary and I, and we grabbed lunch, before I had my 1st meeting with a new psychologist. This gas been a part of my rehab. program, I rarely want to detail for several reasons. I had a different one, up until last spring, when I threw in the towel, since I never felt I gained anything from those meetings. I finally pulled the trigger, and met with a new one today. I've only spent an hour there, although the difference in my ability to feel comfortable sharing who I am, was dramatic. I even made it through my whole story without tearing up, which I don't know that I've ever done. Such a dramatic difference, I'm beyond mystified as to why people with the same job title can impact your psyche so differently. Unbelievable. Leaving, I didn't have a definitive plan, but, was so relieved to find a message saying a jogger had been located for me to use in DC next weekend, at the Marine Corps Marathon 10K, next weekend. Such a relief, because I was having difficulty locating one, among friends in that area. Relief!
We ended the day, and week, by celebrating fall, and making my annual fall trip to Adams Farm Market in Williston. They make apple cider slushies that are beyond amazing, in my book! Writing that, I crave another...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Space-Age Technology!!

Well, today was a first. I had an opportunity to check out what's called an Alter-G treadmill. Treadmills are normally the most nerve-racking piece of exercise equipment out there, in my world. You can only fly off them so many times, before you decide, perhaps that's not the tool for me. My gait is pretty erratic, and I'll easily clip an edge, and land in a confused, shocked, and disoriented heap. Yep, Queen of grace, that is me.

The allure of this particular treadmill, however, is that you are literally zipped into it. I got to wear some neoprene shorts, that are zipped into a hoop around me, and, securely fastened to the treadmill, itself. I realize, you, as the reader probably find the idea of being zipped into a treadmill, somewhat terrifying. But, the reason for this , is to enable the machine to lift you out of some of your weight. Like, an anti gravity treadmill. I imagine this technology is designed for professional athletes, to bounce back from injuries more effectively. I was thrilled to try it, to see if it could assist me in reestablishing a more normal gait pattern. Today, however, was not my day for relearning to run on a treadmill. I was on the machine for around an hour. I fell not once, not twice, but 3 times. But I hurt myself zero times!

One the very most frustrating things about this injury for me, is that I remember how to move, mentally, in every situation, yet, I'm not able to tell my body how to react, or move. I know, it's amazing I've been fortunate enough to regain the mobility I do have, and that it still seems to be improving, which I'm beyond thankful for the strides I'm making. Still, it doesn't make it easier to rationalize spending limited resources on super awesome, fancy pants technology, if I can't pick it up right away. Alas, no-one knows better than themselves, as to their physical and mental capabilities. It's just like using the jogger, somedays, are great, others, a disaster waiting to happen. Story of my life, really. The swat pants my friend screen printed SLOTH, on for me, in high school, could not be more appropriate now. Good thing, I still have them!

Even though, I couldn't get it today, there's always another day, and always the hope that a treadmill can help with training through the cold, snowy winters, as well, as in general. Looks like I've found yet another work-in-progress. Oh boy!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dear US government/state of Vermont government programming,

I HATE YOU!!! I don't mean to sound unappreciative for the assistance you've given me over the years, but here I am 5 years later, an angry, emotional wreck, because I put my heart and soul, everything I have, into my rehab. program, and what do I have to show for it? Dozens of Medicaid treatment denial letters, a job 10 hours a week that actually makes me regret having taken it in the first place, and a list of roommates/live in aids longer than the list of guys I've dated in my lifetime. What am I to do? I graduated from college, only to spend the next 5 yrs fighting tooth and nail, to regain a life that I can identify with. I just don't understand why for every step forward, I fall back 4 miles, in some other regard. For those of you who question my motivation to run> I run because the repetitive aerobic motion allows me to rid myself of the angst, negativity, poorly planned and implemented systems I accepted as part of my rehab. program. I changes my mindset completely, and I look forward to every day I'm able to run. Also, because there was a time, not very long ago, when I couldn't imagine heading out the door to go for a run. When I fall into a miserable funk, I can put on my shoes, grab my ridiculous baby-less jogger, and go! Such a release!

I'm at wits end, I clearly cannot succeed the way you'd like me to, nor can I succeed the way I'd like to. I suppose it's time to put my sneakers on...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I'll tell you what I did today...

All week, or, more correctly, all summer, I've been swapping emails about volunteering/ helping out at the kids rehab gym. More aptly , I keep forgetting to respond to inquiries, and they get lost in the overwhelming number of spam messages I get. But, that's all beside the point, I finally was able to connect with and check out the organization. Unlike the rehab gym, kids is a non-profit group, and seem to have too much to do, in too little time.
We started talking in June, and summer came, and my thoughts were elsewhere.
Today, I was able to go in, and meet the PT I'd been in touch with, as well as get to know the space in general. So cute to see teeny size treadmills, stationary bikes, even walkers. I think those were actually gait trainers. It was well, pretty fun to see what they do. Having been through, and/or used much of the equipment, it was pretty cool to really go and see what a lot of it was. I must've sounded like a cracker-jack, since every time she told me the name of a piece of equipment, I'd respond, "oh, that's what that looks like." I forget that the world doesn't understand that I was once fully blind, and now, thankfully not so.
It was an extremely interesting/ awakening way to volunteer some time. Also, for once, a productive morning. It's a vey rare day, I am showered, well dressed, and have eaten before 9. It's a good feeling, to know that I can do it though. I think I have a lot of self doubt, primarily from my rehab team. It's like anything else, they all have good and bad, or unhelpful qualities. What sticks with me the most, is when I'm told, I cannot do something because of how my injury has affected me. But that's also my biggest motivation, to get up, and amaze myself, and whomever else, with all the ground I'm covering, because 5 years ago, no one knew what the future held, in terms of my survival. I guess, it just comes down to the fact that I've worked this hard to get to where I am today, yet I can't get some people to slow down enough to consider how I could fit into their business or organization, All I know right now, is that I need to find a way to support myself, and my aspirations before I drown in red tape and pointless beauracracy. I realize we are very fortunate in this country, to have the freedoms we do, but if you're poor in the good oleUS of A, freedom seems like a pretty foreign idea.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Maine Marathon (1/2)!

What an extraordinary event! This is a Boston qualifying race, which makes it a pretty big deal in the NE running world. I absolutely had no idea regarding its size and standing. There were 3500 runners in Portland, ME yesterday, and it was such an incredible honor to be among them!

Every time I return home, I'm reminded how fortunate I am to have such an amazing group of close HS friends! We stayed with Val, who just thought of everything, and was incredibly helpful for me, as well as my dad. She just goes above and beyond for my family, and I. She also is the only friend I have with an ability to make me chill out, when I'm being a high strung nut case. My Dad and I both get wound up and hyper with each-other in high stress situations. Races are stressful for us both, and we often squabble over useless things. This race experience was a land mark experience for us both in that sense. My dad invited his friend to run with us also. This was a fantastic idea, because it gives him someone to talk to, and enjoy the goings on in race. Running takes a lot more mental focus for me than for others. Therefore, I'm not that fun for people to run, as support for me. I love having the company and support, but am easily agitated as I begin to tire. It was great to rub along listening to their critiques of other runners.

We ran the first 3 or 4 miles, at daybreak, which was spectacular seeing the sunrise in early morning light. It was also a drizzly cloud cover, which brought spectacular colors. I wanted to start the run at 6, so I could finish nearer to the time that others did as well. The race officially began at 8, and most of the elite marathoners finished before I did. It was amazing to watch their stride, and marvel at their speed. It's incredible as I gain more awareness and appreciation for how different we all are. When I run, I can barely lift my foot off the ground, unless I'm specifically focusing all of my thought, and mobility on running in that stride. It's also a matter of strength, once hit 11 miles, I feel I need the jogger to keep me upright, like I'd collapse without it. I know I wouldn't, because the jogger would flip if I actually leaned on it for support like that. I know I need to train more for these events, because I hit a wall around 11 miles, and it takes everything I have to get through the last 2.

In this race, as well as the last one I began to favor my right hip, and begin squawking like an old lady about my hip. I finished more strongly than last time, which is a good sign, but again, I concede, I need to train with more long distance runs, especially because I still want to do a full marathon, in the future!

I creaked in to the finish line to an amazing herd of people congregating along the plastic mesh fencing for the last mile or so. I felt extremely weak and tired crossing the time strips, but was immediately reinvigorated by the boundless excitement and joy at the finish line. My Mom was there cheering us on as I ambled over the plastic timers. I genuinely dislike those things, because they make the finish line pretty anti climactic for me, as I feel like I must look so pathetic and slow as I hobble over them lethargically. We made move straight away for the Pizza, and were stopped and congratulated by many including the race director. This was really the first race I've done where there was such a boundless euphoria after finishing. I also know that I was more prepared this time and had the benefit of two amazing supporters throughout the race. I honestly loathe the fact I need the help, but I could not be more grateful for the company I had, thank you Dad and Rich! You're helping me get there, one step at a time, literally!

After an hour or two standing in the rain, we got ourselves together, and decided to meet at Val's for a mini post race party. Some of our other HS friends wanted to visit too. Of course they arrived while I was in the shower. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but this apartment you step out of the shower into a hallway in full view of the entire apartment. Excellent. Just one of many of life's many awkward moments.

Eventually, I joined everyone for a fantastic lunch of Thai food that totally hit the spot. Great food, great friends and family, great time. It was a whirl wind visit, though I couldn't be been happier to see so many of the people that mean so much to me. The only thing that makes it hard, is realizing how much we've all changed in the last .5 yeasts. I've been so focused on my rehab that I've missed a lot of what each of them have been through in life, and its like I'm floundering back at the starting line, watching my friends do amazing things, advancing their careers and traveling the world, while I'm still looking to them for assistance. It's because I just hit 5 years, and that's a significant chunk of time. I feel as though I'm at a dead end with my TBI program right now, I know I'm not, but I can't help that feels like repeatedly walking into a brick wall, but at least I just ran 13.1 miles! And that is why I run. It gives me a baseline, I know where I've been, and the harder I work at it, the more I improve. When I look at it like that, it makes dealing with my brain injury no little thang!

The most ridiculous part of this extraordinary adventure is that we made the return trip to Vermont last night after the race. We got into Burlington around 10 last night. Heck of a race, though I was bummed to have to turn around leave. Back to reality. Get set, Go !