Tribute Poem by Titus Kaphar

I’ve been reflecting on how to express my feelings over the last couple of weeks about the horrible murder of George Floyd and I just had no words to say. Then, this morning I came upon this beautiful painting called Analogous Colors and poem by Titus Kaphar in Time magazine and I wanted to share it with others. As an ally I remind myself that I need to amplify the voices of people of color now more than ever. Please read and share as you feel moved.

I
cannot
sell
you
this
painting.

In her expression, I see Black mothers
who are unseen, and rendered helpless in
this fury against their babies.

As I listlessly wade through another cycle of violence against Black people,

I paint a Black mother…
eyes closed, furrowed brow,
holding the contour of her loss.

In this what it means for us?
Are black and loss analogous colors in America?
If Malcom could not fix it,
if Martin could not fix it,
if Michael,
Sandra,
Trayvon,
Tamir,
Breonna and
Now George Floyd…
can be murdered
and nothing changes…
wouldn’t it be foolish to remain hopeful?
Must I accept that this what it means to
be Black in America?

Do
not
ask
me
to be
hopeful.

I have given up trying to describe the
feeling of knowing that I cannot be safe
in the country of my birth…

How can i explain to my children that the
very system set up to protect others could
be a threat to our existence?

How do I shield them from the
psychological impact of knowing that for
the rest of our lives we will likely be seen
as a threat, and for that
We may die?
A MacArthur won’t protect you.
A Yale degree won’t protect you.
You well-spoken plea will not
change hundreds of years of
institutionalized hate.
You will never be as eloquent as Baldwin,
you will never be as kind as King…
So, isn’t it only reasonable to believe that
there will be no change soon?

And so those without hope…
Burn

This Black mother understand the fire.
Black mothers understand despair.
I can change NOTHING in this world,
but in paint,
I can realize her…
This brings me solace…
not hope, but solace.
She walks me through the flames of rage.
My Black mother rescues me yet again.
I want to be sure that she is seen.
I want to be certain that her story is told.
And so, this time
America must hear her voice. This time
America must believe her.

One
Black
mother’s
loss
WILL
be
memorialized.

This time
I will not let her go.

I
cannot
sell
you
this
painting.

Dear Running

In honor of Global Running Day which was Wed, June 3, Coach Jenny suggested that we write a letter to “running” to talk about what it means to us so here goes…

Friday, June 5, 2020

Dear Running,

We certainly have had a complicated past. I know we met informally when I was a little girl, but I don’t remember much about you back then. I first formally met you I was in middle school or high school in gym class during the 9 minute run. I detested you with all of my being back then and would do anything not to deal with you. Often I would “forget” my gym clothes at home so I didn’t have to participate in class. Now that I think back, it really wasn’t you that I detested so much as it was what inevitably came with you. SWEAT! You see as a girl growing up I think I inherited my Dad’s genes in terms of sweat. I didn’t sparkle, glisten or even perspire like all the other girls seemed to do. No, I hard core SWEAT with all of my being anytime I did any physical activity, including running. Sweating made me very uncomfortable probably mostly because it wasn’t the “lady-like” thing to do. I was embarrassed at my sweaty self and didn’t want to be back in classes around the boys feeling and looking like that. Since I had no control over this, I just preferred to hang back and not do sports at all. Enter choir geek, which by the way was pretty great in its own right.

Fast forward to my fortieth birthday and I was ready to re-make your acquaintance again in order to help in my weight loss journey. At first I just walked, but after 1/4 of a mile I decided to run…and there I was…running in my clunky and chunky New Balance cross-trainers, feeling free and not giving a flying f**k about sweating! I came to realize that sweating is actually good for you…it cools your body down. I decided not to run away from my sweat, but embrace it – own it! Sweating is bad a**!

From here on out we became good pals. You gave me what I needed so desperately back then – a jump start at getting about 41 pounds off my body. I told everyone about you, my new best friend, and all the benefits you provided me. It has been about 11 years since we became best friends and we have been through a lot together during that time. You have been there for me when I was steaming mad and helped me run really fast! You have been there for me when I was brokenhearted and had to cry through my run. You have been there for me when I was full of joy running with my best gal pals cracking up and solving the worlds’ problems. You have been there when I celebrated finishing my first race. You have been there for me when I ran hard races, easy races and races that just sucked. You have been there for me when I was stressed and had to run the crazy off. No matter my feeling or mood, you have supported me through it and always made me feel better afterwards, no matter what. You are my escape, my fun, my fitness plan, and my faithful companion. Thanks for always being there even when I doubted myself and didn’t feel like I could call myself a runner. I hope I can count on you for as long as I can in this life. And I promise from now on, I’ll never forget my sneakers.

Big Feelings

Tues, April 21

Like a lot of you, I tuned into the “One World: Together at Home” benefit concert on Saturday night. I enjoyed the music, the appearances and the tributes to the heroes on the front lines. It was really cool knowing that I was having a shared experience with so many around the country and the world.

I was moved in particular by a snippet in the program geared towards children and I’ve been thinking about it since Saturday. Abby, a pink, pig-tailed, 4-year-old Muppet from Sesame Street gave some advice directly to children about dealing with their big feelings. While adorable, yes, I found Abby’s advice to be very profound and wise for adults too. She normalized having big feelings and said that when we have big, little, or feelings in between we can give ourselves a big, self hug, take a deep breath, and feel comforted.

During these times I’ve been thinking a lot about folks who live by themselves and are self quarantined with either just themselves or with their animals for company. I thought about Abby’s advice for these folks, especially, in terms of self comforting or self soothing. My prayer for this population is that they find solace and comfort in their own company (and if applicable their fur babies) while reaching out to family and friends for virtual comfort. Sending strength and fortitude and some relief to all who are alone or lonely.

Yesterday the governor of Ohio made the announcement that K-12 schools will be finishing up the year online rather than going back to school. This hit me hard. While I knew this was coming and I totally support the decision I had big feelings about this. In reality it only means that the 15 days in May that my son might have had in school are not going to happen now. They have had a month of online learning already. So why was I so upset? I think it just re-triggered my initial big feelings when the schools first went online. Remembering again all of the loss. Yes, I acknowledge that while we are all in this together, we are also in different boats in the same storm. But all loss is tough on those going through it. My feelings of loss are so strong both for my son’s experience, but also for me! Yes, I am one of those parents who goes to every concert, game, celebration, and event. I not only want to be supportive of my son’s interests, but I actually enjoy it myself! I love my son’s girlfriend and group of friends and my heart aches for their loss and mine. From the big things like prom and graduation to the small things like senior skip day, and loitering at Wal-mart at 10pm, the kids in the class of 2020 are missing things. It probably also stings a bit more because my son is a very social creature. He has gone from literally never being home to literally never leaving the house.

I call to mind the stages of grief (Kubler-Ross) I learned about in college: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Yep, I recognize all of these over the last month and I’m sure you do too. The funny quirky thing about loss is that it is not linear. For example, just when I’ve rounded the corner to some semblance of acceptance…BOOM…something happens that brings me right back to utter sadness. So with that being said, what can we do to comfort ourselves when we have these big feelings? I’ve been reflecting on this and here are some of the things that are helpful for me in terms of feelings. Some of this I’ve learned over my 50 years and some I’ve been reminded about during these recent days.

  1. It is okay to have big feelings. Okay, this is probably an obvious one, right? Yes, but I think a lot of us can fall prey to either covering up our feelings (especially ones that don’t really feel good) with false positivity or self medicating with food, sugar, alcohol or something else. I’ve realized that the best way to actually deal with these feelings is to give yourself permission to actually feel them!
  2. Set a time limit. At first this might sound odd, but sometimes it is helpful to give ourselves a time limit to feel negative emotions. This is good for two reasons: (1) We acknowledge the feeling and realize we need to feel it and (2) we have an out for ourselves to not wallow in our feelings and get stuck there for too long. For example, I’ve actually given myself 10 minutes to be upset about something in the past and then it is time to move on.
  3. Learn how to comfort yourself. Just like Abby in the video sometimes we need to know how to comfort ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean to not rely on others for comfort, but I think it means to know what you need to do to comfort yourself. What strategies do you have that work for you? Do you like a nice, hot bath? A chat with a friend? Getting lost in a puzzle or a good book? Going on a brisk walk? Yesterday, when I was feeling sad I went for a run and felt a bit better. It wasn’t a magical cure for the situation, but I had a change of scenery and was able to get out of my head for awhile.
  4. Ask for what you need. We are in uncharted territory right now. Folks now working from home are in a different environment than what they knew before. Being in close proximity to only a few people for days on end has been challenging for me in that in my real life work environment I had other support systems that I could count on. That combined with the stay at home order has made me realize that I need to ask for what I need in terms of family support. News flash: my family cannot read my mind! This is a good growth area for me even without a pandemic, but some lessons take longer to learn for some, I guess!
  5. Get perspective. Different boats – same storm. Yes, it is okay to acknowledge your loss. End stop. No matter what stage you find yourself in on any particular day – give yourself the grace to feel it without rushing to judge yourself. But it does help, when you are ready, to re-frame your situation and find gratitude where you can. This does make all the difference.

And if all else fails, remember, like Abby said you can always give yourself a big self hug. That feels really good too.

The New Normal

April 7, 2020

Okay, so I’ll admit it. It was awesome to change the calendar to April. First and foremost we got THE best news from Xavier University on the morning of April 1. At the risk of bragging I’m going to share that Zach received one of only 18 FACHEX full tuition awards (benefits for folks who work in the Jesuit college network) to Xavier for all four years of college! Hell yeah! Last year they awarded 60 in total. I’m making this public because I’m super excited and I think we all have to celebrate good news during this time, especially! Plus, we have been playing this waiting game since like November when Zach applied so it has been a long, stressful, wait for all of us! We sent in the deposit the next day and now we await how things will unfold in the coming weeks and months. I remain hopeful that this too shall pass and fall schedules can resume for all of us. I choose to be hopeful and I won’t let anyone steal my joy!!!

Speaking of hope, as we all settle into the new normal of life these days I thought I would reflect on the good things that have emerged so far that I’ve seen – the silver linings, as it were. Now I am not that naive to not realize that things are not peachy for lots of folks and that we are plagued by fears, anxiety and uncertainty all over the country and world, but this is not the blog post for that. This is the post about what I see as light in the darkness that surrounds us. Our attitude is shaped by what we focus on, right? Here is what I’ve noticed:

  • The abundant creativity and generosity of people for mask making. Not only are people making them in droves for medical personnel, but people are coming up with creative ways for folks to make them out of ordinary household items (bandannas, socks, etc) and are sharing them!
  • More family time. I have spent more time with my husband and son over this time. Even though Zach has been climbing for over a year, only last week did my husband and I go with him to support him in this activity. Now, would he rather be with this friends? Perhaps, but that is not the point. I think he even enjoyed being able to share this with us firsthand. Yesterday, I even shared my lunchtime run with my son – on a Monday. That has never happened before!
  • More doggy walks. I have increased my walking time by 100%. Before the pandemic hit my dog was lucky to get a walk once or twice in the morning before work. Now we are averaging about 3 walks a day. This is so good for my physical and mental health in addition to keeping a happy dog!
  • Virtual Church! We have been able to share our church service highlights on the web for Sundays and now for Holy Week. We also have started a virtual women’s bible study on Zoom that has enabled women even outside of the Hudson community to join in.
  • Increased communication. My sister and parents and I have committed to a nightly 30 minute family check-in on FaceTime. This has been a great way for us all to stay connected, share updates and just chat. Not to mention the miracle that my folks now know how to FaceTime (tee hee)! Before this I would probably connect with my parents weekly, if that, and maybe monthly, if I was lucky, with my sis.
  • Increased online opportunities. It seems that so many opportunities have cropped up for folks to virtually experience things that are unavailable “in real life” right now. From exercise and yoga videos, museum tours, celebrity performances, and neighborhood social hours, there are so many new opportunities for folks to connect with others, explore new interests or continue to practice self care. It really is amazing and is a huge benefit of the technology that is all around us. I find it fascinating that in the past I saw so much of the negative in social media, but now I can only think of how life giving it really can be if used with a good purpose. Maybe it is my change in perspective? Hmm.
  • Being/Staying in the present. This is the best one. And also the hardest for me. I’m an extrovert, external processor, planner, and all around person who gets her energy from being around people. This is a time when those personality traits/strengths are not entirely useful and actually are not productive. This is a challenge for me to say the least. But, what I am learning is to embrace this whole being in the present thing. Not just after my yoga class and repeating “namaste” to the teacher and then rushing off to hurriedly get to the rest of my busy day. I’m talking about actually being in the present moment. Like my dog is. I’m not in control of the future, but I can take on today. There is a certain freedom in this, actually. Thinking about this idea, the lyrics of a Bob Marley song keep coming to me, “Don’t worry about a thing. Cause every little thing is gonna be alright.” Yes, I believe it will be. Do you?

The Covid-19 Experience – March Timeline

Tuesday, March 31

Well, I’ve finally made it to my laptop to blog. I’ve been meaning to do this for a few weeks now. I’ve been busy,, taking care of things and adjusting to the new normal for now, but also procrastinating this task. This is my second attempt at this. I first started a blog entry on March 22, but didn’t get that far before putting it down and walking away. To say I was a ball of anxiety 8 days ago is an understatement. While the anxiety still comes and goes, I feel much more stable now to be able to write about this incredible time in the world. While I know that writing is good for me, I know this could also bring up strong emotions as I reflect on the last few weeks. I feel that this is important for my mental health, however and also I just want to have this time in history documented as it is so overwhelming and so unparalleled. I have always turned to writing in tough times. And these are tough times to say the least.

I thought I would first outline a timeline as I see it. Disclaimer: this is a very Lisa-centric timeline and therefore very US-centric. My first stab at this entry outlined the timeline of the entire global pandemic starting in Dec 2019 when the Coronavirus outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, China. Yeah, that was too big. I can’t wrap my head around that. Plus you can look that up yourself. I wanted to share a timeline from my perspective and experience and hey, as I’ve always said, its my blog and I’ll write what I want to! I’ll list a timeline with maybe some highlights and then going forward I’ll take some of the big stuff and expand on those in separate entries. Sound good? Great!

Monday, March 9 – Xavier event at the Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland. This was the last “normal” day as we knew it. In the news that afternoon were the first 3 cases of Covid-19 in Ohio. Still very new, this news was a minor backdrop at the event, but surprisingly the event went on as normal. After work I met Zach and Mike for a Xavier Admissions Event. We had a blast, shaking hands with folks with no hand sanitizer in site, ate finger food from a buffet and chatted with the Xavier admissions staff. I was super proud of Zach for having such professional conversations with folks. This was our last chance to woo staff before tuition exchange decisions were made and Zach was stoked about the people he met and the opportunity to go to Xavier. We ended the night with Mitchell’s ice cream. A good night. Little did we know that would be the end of events like that for awhile.

Tuesday, March 10 – JCU’s president announces that classes would be moved to online through April 13 and students are to leave campus by the weekend. As I was meeting with one of my student leaders planning how to make an upcoming event safer (more sanitized) for students we got an email at 2:39pm announcing that classes would go online staring on Mon, March 16 through April 13 and students were to move to their permanent address by the weekend.

Thursday, March 12 – Governor announces all Ohio schools closed through April 6. He first described it as an extended spring break, but then it became clear that schools would move to online learning. Friday, March 13 was Zach’s last before this plan and he said it felt like the last day of school – the last day of senior year – the last day of high school. Hudson’s plan was to start the online learning on March 18, allowing the first couple of days that week for teachers to get plans together. They would then have their spring break as usual the week of March 23 – 27 and then online learning the following week March 30 – April 3. While I completely agreed and supported Governor Dewine’s decision, this was a blow.

Friday, March 13 – Prom Cancelled. Went to work as normal, but it was like a ghost town. Said good-bye to tearful students and got in what I knew would be my last treadmill run for awhile with my girlfriend in the Corbo workout room on campus. We brought Clorox wipes with us to the empty gym and santitized the treadmills before and after use. Right before going to run I got a text from Zach that just said “Prom cancelled”. I went to the locker room and lost it. I had been strong all week, helping students and taking care of business, but this was my breaking point. My mind begin to spin about what else might be canceled in my son’s senior year. Just so sad. Thankfully my buddy was there to comfort me and get it together enough to get our run done! My office worked out an alternating telecommuting schedule. That night Mike and I visited my folks for what I knew would be a long time also. We chatted and ate pie in their house, but at a bit of a distance.

Saturday, March 14 – Found out there was a Covid-19 case in Hudson (a woman in her 50’s)! Starting to feel a bit panicky about this…fear and anxiety ramping up big time. Starting to realize how big and close to home this is and how much mental health issues (my own included) will be impacted here.

Sunday, March 15 – All Ohio restaurants and bars are closed for dine-in. This was inline with the CDC’s recommendation for gatherings of no more than 50 people. This was smart timing given the fact that St. Patrick’s Day is such a big bar day. We skipped in person church and watched a video of my sister’s church message. People can still get drive-through, pick-up and delivery.

Monday, March 16 – Found out that JCU classes will be online for the rest of the semester. Trump changes the gathering of folks to no more than 10 people. I went to an in-person Church Council meeting to meet the new interim Pastor and to discuss online worshiping opportunities going forward.

Tuesday, March 17 – First day telecommuting from home. I had just my basic stuff (laptop) to use and set up one of the spare bedrooms as an office. Worked out a compromise for Zach and Anna to see each other outside with guidelines.

Wednesday, March 18 – Last day in office for awhile. Brought a bunch of office stuff home to prepare my home office. Felt majorly sad leaving JCU today because I had no idea when I’d be able to be back there again.

Thursday, March 19 – First full day working from home. Work went fine. I enjoyed lunch take out in the car at Swenson’s with the boys. I decided we could do take-out twice a week from now on. Zach video-taped the Pastor’s message for Sunday’s service.

Saturday, March 21 – Cleaning Day! I cleaned the bathrooms really good, made banana bread and saw my parents from their car. Mike worked outside all day cleaning out the trailer. Trying to keep busy and remain positive, but feel anxious all the time. I have no appetite and am making myself eat because I know I need to.

Sunday, March 22 – Stay at Home Order. During Governor DeWine’s briefing it was announced that there was a stay at home order for all of Ohio. We basically were already at this point with most service-related businesses closed or hours severely restricted. This order added that all non-essential businesses would close. This meant that my Dad would not have to go into work anymore at the furniture store which I was glad about. I went to Hudson Springs and walked with Mom (distanced of course). So grateful for parks being open still and for being about to get outside!!! My feelings come in waves now from gratitude, fear, anxiety, sadness – all sometimes in the same hour. I really like Dr. Amy Acton – the doctor for Ohio (that’s what I call her). I feel some much better after she talks. She said “I’m not afraid. I’m determined.” I’m clinging onto this and know we can do this together! Rather than thinking about being “stuck at home” I’ll think of myself as “safe at home”.

Monday, March 23 – Mike still working! Mike was to start his next project today, but after the stay at home order we weren’t sure what that would look like. Small businesses fall in many different categories and for Mike it is only him. He talked it over with his client and they were okay with the project going forward. Mike has many safety mechanisms in place that make sure both he and the clients are protected. I was very relieved that this project could go forward.

Tuesday, March 24 – Meltdown with the fam. so I finally had a meltdown with the family at dinner. This is crazy hard on extroverts and I miss being around people…not just my fam. Mike is an introvert and Zach is usually extroverted, but also a teenager. I was able to figure out that I need to do some family activity at least once on the weekend because these are now my ONLY people! I learned that I have to ask for what I need.

Wednesday, March 25 – Virtual Bible Study. I deleted the CNN app from my phone. I’m not really listening to NPR these days either. I realized I have to reduce my news exposure. I don’t usually listen to the DeWine briefing at 2pm either. Now that we have the stay at home order, hearing more news about the increasing number of cases and/or increasing number of deaths is not going to change my behavior. I know that I have to do. I’m working to do it by sticking to my routine and helping others when I can.

Thursday, March 26 – Bad news from JCU. Room and board reimbursement for students means giant budget deficit for JCU…will affect staff positions – no details yet, but anxiety is very high right now. I’m trying to embrace the “one day at a time” mantra, but I really hate that phrase.

Friday, March 27 – Just a bad day. I’m upset about JCU and what might happen with our jobs. We still have not heard from Xavier yet about tuition exchange. We were supposed to hear today, but still nothing. I did have a Facetime call with two of my best buddies which made me feel a bit better!

Saturday, March 28 – New groceries procedure! Almost felt like a normal day except for the Costco process. We are now pretty much wet for 2 weeks. I saw a video about how to effectively sanitize groceries so we did that today. Yikes! Took a bit more time, but totally worth it. Anna came over and the kids hung out and watched a movie outside. Mike installed a TV in the pavilion. We had takeout from Don Patron’s with the kids at a distance.

Sunday, March 29 – Family Hike! We “went” to church at 9:30am for another great video message from our Pastor. This afternoon we hiked 3 miles (out and back) along the bike and hike off of 303. It was a crazy windy day, but nice. It was fun to see the outcroppings of rocks along the trail. There were lots of people, but we kept our distance. It feels weird to almost be afraid of other people. As much as it feels good to get outside, I’m always relieved to be back home with my hands washed. I walked over 17,000 steps today. It was a good day.

Monday, March 30 – Stay at home order extended to April 30. We were not surprised by this at all and I was somewhat relieved, honestly. People just need to accept this in order to keep folks safe and help to flatten the curve. I think I’ve definitely moved into the acceptance phase of all of this trauma . At least that is where I am today. Productive work day with good Zoom meetings.

Tuesday, March 31 – Typical Tuesday. Productive late day for me at work! Just like I do on campus on Tuesdays I “went” into work later today so I was able to get bills paid and other chores done. It felt like an almost normal day. Good to check-in with my students at my night meetings and see their faces!

Great New Year’s Eve Race 2019!

January 20, 2019

So it is now 20 days into the new year and I’m realizing that I never posted about this race from the last day of 2019! This is the race I have done the most often throughout the years. In fact, this year was my 10th running of this race! It is nicely run, well supported and fun to get one more race in for the year! One of the reasons I was not in a hurry to post about this race is because I lost the pics I took on that day due to getting a new phone (Long story for another day). I like to include pics in my blog posts so I was bummed that I didn’t have any. BUT, procrastinate no longer! It is time to blog anyways because I must document for posterity! Well, and because I’m just weird like that.

December 31, 2019 at 4pm – This race is run by SARC (Summit Athletic Running Club) begins and ends at Stow High School. It was a bit chilly at 28 degrees and just a tad slippery in parts (they warned us about Red Flag conditions), but not snow covered. Mike came with me this time just to spend time together and hold my stuff. I ran into Alise and Chris there and we took our usual selfie pics before and after the race. Just take my word for it. It is fun to see them there and keep the tradition going! They always offer soup in addition to the regular bananas and stuff so that is cool. I never eat it, but it is just a cool tradition.

I felt kinda awful during the entire race. I had not been running outside like at all over the holidays. As a matter of fact, this was my first run (like at all) since the Jingle Bell Run which was on Dec 13! So, consequently my lungs felt that I wasn’t acclimated to the cold and to actually running. It is amazing how quickly the body loses fitness!

I finished and gave myself a lecture about needing to get back on a regular schedule – inside AND a bit outside too.

Here are my stats: Time: 34:53; Pace: 11:15; Overall place: 296/414; Female in age group: 10/14; All female: 138/217. This was one of my slower times, but hey, you get out of it what you put into it, right? I’m excited for 2020 because I have 2 races planned – one is the Cleveland Half in May -pretty standard, but the other is the Chicago FULL marathon in October – holla! I’ve got my training plans are figured out and ready to rock starting in January! Yahoo!

Jingle Bell Run 2019

Sunday, Dec 15, 2019

This year there were three members representing the Ram Fam (plus our driver, of course!). Nick was home for Mike’s birthday so he joined Zach and I running the race this year. We almost didn’t make it on time due to a late night the night before, but we rallied and miraculously got our butts to the start before the gun went off!!

Freezing before the race!

The boys ran most of it together, but by about the 2nd mile Zach hung with me while Nick ran out ahead. Zach and I walked the big hill, but then came in strong at the end. Even in spite of our bit of walking we did pretty good – well for me, that is! Our times were: Me: 33:26, Zach: 33:24 and Nick: 32:25. It was fun to be active together even though we were all super tired!

Turkey Trot 2019

Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 28

As per usual it was time to run the annual Turkey Trot again this year. This year I asked Anna to join us! The kids (mostly Zach) were not amused that they actually had to get up early on Thanksgiving Day. Zach attempted to get out of the 5K and run only the Mashed Potato 1 mile, but that was not going to cut it.

Before the race

It was pretty chilly that morning, but we powered through! It even snowed a bit right before the start!

The kids stayed with me for a bit and then eventually went on ahead. It was fun running it together.

I was pretty proud of my time! I ran a 33.27 which was 10:47 mile pace. I came in 10/26 for my age group. The kids came in at 31:42.

Finish!
Swag

The Colonoscopy Experiment

The Colonoscopy Experiment – November 21, 2019

So I’ve learned that when one turns 50, there are a few things one must do. After you have dealt with the weirdness that is the realization that you have lived halfway to 100 (that is a kick in the knickers), it is time to take stock and pay attention to the doctor’s suggestions at your “well” visit.

This year in addition to being lectured about that pesky 5 pounds I still need to shed, and the vitamin D I should be taking on a regular basis, my doctor recommended that I schedule a colonoscopy before the end of the year. Truth be told I really did not even know exactly what this mysterious test was all about. I kept mistakenly referring to it as a colostomy, which, it turns out, is a very different thing altogether. I got the referral and made the appointment for the end of November and it seemed very far away. In the meantime I was seeking feedback from friends and coworkers about this procedure. The basic summary from everyone was as follows: the procedure is not bad at all – what sucks is the prep. End stop. No more specific information was shared. What does not even mean?! Now, I know this is a rather, *ahem*, personal matter, but inquiring minds want to know – what’s the scoop? Give me the 411 on what sucks so bad about the prep? When I pressed people, they still didn’t really share much with me. I don’t know if they smelled my fear, or they had repressed their experience so much that they actually didn’t remember it anymore – like having a baby, or what, but no one was forthcoming with the gory details. This is where I come in!! I am going to do you a solid (so to speak) and give you the straight “poop” (tee-hee) about my experience. Think of it as a public service announcement. I know everyone is different, but at least this will give you one example of how it could go for you if you have not yet had the pleasure. If you are squeamish and/or just don’t care to know the details about my bowls, turn back now. I have no judgement, but you are forewarned.

As my date got closer I began to get more anxious about this procedure. I decided to try to detach from it by thinking about it as a scientific experiment. I decided to track my experience in order to share it with others (and also to distract myself from it)! I kept thinking, I can do this, right? I had a baby! I ran a marathon! All I have to do is drink stuff and go poop. Seems simple. Did I mention I hate being hungry, I get nauseous easily and am not good with anesthetic?

I got the appointment confirmation call on Monday saying my procedure was at 11am and I was to be there at 10:15am. The worst thing was I could not have coffee on Thursday morning!  Ugh. But, turns out, that was not the worst thing…
The instructions said I was to follow a low-residue diet on Monday and Tuesday. This meant no raw fruits and vegetables except for bananas. I had to eat stuff like white bread, white rice, chicken and canned vegetables and avoid things with fiber (which is lots of what I eat!) I suppose the reason for this is so the “prep” day is less dramatic than t would be if you had lots of fiber rich stuff in your system. Here is what I ate on Monday: Breakfast – 2 pieces of white toast, with peanut butter, coffee with almond milk. Lunch – 2 slices of white toast, can of tuna fish with a bit of miracle whip, banana. Dinner – white rice bowl with baked chicken, green beans and soy sauce. Snack at night – 2 pieces of white toast with peanut butter. On Tuesday: Breakfast – 2 pieces of white toast topped with banana slices, coffee with almond milk. Lunch – 2 slices of white toast, 3 scrambled eggs and 2 babybel cheese wedges, banana. Dinner – white rice bowl with baked chicken, green beans and soy sauce. Snack at night – 2 pieces of white toast with peanut butter and some honey drizzle. I felt just okay on Monday and Tuesday.  I went to work as normal. I found myself really ready for every meal and looking around for snacks during the 3pm – 5pm hours.  I wasn’t that hungry at night, but it was just the idea that I had a couple days of not eating ahead of me so I wanted to “stock up”!  Also, I just wanted a bit of sweet. I just do not do well with a deprivation type of situation. However, I did it!

On Wednesday (the day before the procedure) I had to follow a clear liquid diet. In the morning I started with a ½ cup black coffee.  Yes, black coffee was on the list for the day! I did not want to drink the whole thing on an empty stomach so half a cup did the job. I started feeling a bit hungry by 8:30am (let’s face it, I wake up hungry. I’m definitely not one of those “I lost track of time and worked through lunch” type of people) so I started with apple juice. I took a shower and began to find things to distract myself. By lunch I had gone through 3 big glasses of apple juice and about a half a season of Atypical on Netflix. I sat at the table with my bowl full of orange jello for lunch. Not bad. I had Mike get the “prep” medicine ready for me when he was home for lunch so it could get cold. It was a jug that held 4 liters of fluid. Ugh. The powder medicine was already in it and you were to add water and the flavor packets that came with it. You could alternatively use Crystal Light, if desired. Yes, it was desired. I had to start drinking the prep stuff at 6pm. The rest of the afternoon I focused on a project on the computer and had some carbonated water.

6pm finally came and I shooed Mike and Zach out of the house to get Chipotle. I didn’t want to see that food in front of me. I got the prep out of the fridge and got ready to drink my first 8 oz of stuff. I had to drink an 8 ounce glass of the stuff every 10 minutes until 2 liters was gone. The second half was then the job for the next day, starting at 6am. I got it out and got out the measuring cup, but I could not get the stinkin’ cap off! It was one of those “push down and turn” things, but it was not happening. I tried everything for like 5 minutes. At this point I was sweating, my arms were sore and I was swearing like a sailor. Remember I was hangry times 1000. I called Mike at Chipotle and asked them to get their food to go so they could come home and help me get this blasted thing open! Meanwhile I was texting a friend asking for help. That string of texts is pretty hilarious. I was seriously thinking this was a sign that I wasn’t supposed to do this and was ready to throw the whole jug outside when the cap suddenly finally came off as Mike and Zach were walking in the door, Chipotle bags in hand.

Game on! I drank the first 8 oz like a champ. The drink tasted like a thick, saltier version of Chrystal Light’s – like its diluted, lower-calorie cousin. Not my favorite, but not a big deal. I set the timer for 10 minutes and began the process. By the time I was halfway through my 8 glasses the drink was getting a bit old. I started adding more time to the timer – 15 minutes instead of 10. By glass #7 I was on the struggle bus. It wasn’t the taste exactly, but the shear volume of fluid I was consuming. Halfway through glass #7 I gagged and yukked a bit in the kitchen sink. There was nothing really to come up except for that good, old orange jello. Twenty minutes later I successfully consumed my last glass for the night with minimal gagging. I sloshed over to the couch, feeling very full and bloated and waited for the magic to happen. And waited. And waited. I had finished my prep at 8:37pm and the instructions said bowel activity should start 1-2 hours from the start of drinking the prep. Um, nope. At this point, I was so uncomfortably full and wondering if this stuff was going to work for me. I had peed here and there, but no action anywhere else. I had some gurgling and tooting, but nada in the poop department. Finally at 9:40pm – 3 1/2 hours after starting the prep all systems were go and the medicine did its thing. I was going to keep track of the number of bathroom visits, but the truth is I couldn’t really keep track. It was so strange, however, because it wasn’t like any other type of diarrhea I’ve ever had. There was no pain or cramping and after the first couple of times it was just liquid. It was like I was peeing from my butt, but I wasn’t sick. So strange. I was relieved that the medicine was working and relieved to finally get rid of a lot of this liquid! I finally felt clear to go to bed around 11:30pm.

On Thursday I got up at 5:45am to begin the second half of the prep. I was to consume the second 2 liters of stuff by 8am. This time the bowls were more consistent and I was less bloated and uncomfortable. It was still gross and got to be too much by glass #5, but I pressed on with minimal gagging. I did have one accident in my jammies that morning (yuck) which prompted me to bring a second pair of clothes and a towel to sit on to drive the 30 minutes to the hospital. Thankfully I did not need it! We arrived on time to the hospital where I proceeded to use the bathroom 3 more times while we were waiting in the lobby. At this point there was no poop to speak of. There was just yellow liquid, but it was coming out of my butt. Such a weird sensation. Hey, I forewarned you!

I got ready for the procedure, met the anesthesiologist and the doctor. I was most concerned about getting sick from the anesthetic, but the doc reassured me that I should be fine since it was just a twilight level of stuff. Next thing I knew I was waking up and I immediately felt alert and fine, but just really cold. After being in recovery a bit the doc informed me that she found one small, 3 mm, polyp and removed it. She would send it to the lab and depending on what type of polyp it was I would have to come back in either 5 years or 10 years. Fine by me – even if it is 5 years, that is still a long time! I felt good that at least the polyp was out of me and that now it can’t grow into anything bad! That is the whole reason why these things are recommended to be done as preventative thing. I’m a believer, for sure! Yes, it was gross, a bit uncomfortable and a bit inconvenient, but well worth it! I’m thankful to be able to have this sort of preventative care and good insurance to support it. Check this off the turning 50 list! Now, about that Shingles shot…