Doubts

I have always tried to keep things pretty light and positive on this blog.  I believe very firmly that maintaining a positive perspective is one of the most important things you can do in life in general.  I also feel like I am probably one of the luckiest human beings in the world and have no right to complain about anything.  I am, however, committed to staying honest.  The reason for having a blog in the first place is to be honest about my goals, my progress, and all of the challenges that I may encounter.  So here is a very honest post about some of those challenges, as I stare spring racing season in the face, and try to decide when to bite the bullet and sign up for my first half marathon.

Spring 2015 is going to be absolutely nuts at my house.  Joe is finishing residency, which means 2 things.  1.  He is writing his royal College Exam this spring, and 2. We are moving to a new city.

Let me explain.

1.  The Royal College Exam is kind of like the Bar Exam for doctors, except it’s on steroids.  Not all doctors have to write it; it’s for specialists, but since Joe is an Emergency Medicine specialist, he needs to write it in order to be Royal College Certified.  I think this is only a thing in Canada, but it’s similar to the American Board Exam for doctors.  Except that in Joe’s program, they write the American Boards for practice every year, starting in their first year, and he has been passing every year.  The Royal College is a lot tougher than that.  People are very afraid that they might fail…  they start studying a year in advance (a year) and they are all working full time as well.  So as you can see, this thing is big, and it’s been a major player in our lives ever since this past summer, when Joe’s study schedule started.  We are now entering crunch time for Royal College, meaning that the next 3 months are all about survival for Joe, and me doing whatever I can to be supportive so that he can pass this thing, and we can all move on with our lives.

2.  Because Joe is graduating from residency, pending he pass his exams in May and June, he has accepted a position as a real, grown-up doctor in another city.  He got a few offers, and we’ve considered all the pros and cons and visited different cities and attended interviews and mulled it over, and we’ve finally settled on Toronto.  So this summer, we are moving to Toronto…  meaning that I have an exam of my own to write, in order to be licensed as a nurse in Toronto.  And jobs to apply for, and interviews to go to, and apartment hunting to do…  all while Joe crams for his exam, and we both continue to work full time, because life has a way of throwing everything at you all at once.

The good news is, when the exams are all finished, and I’ve officially left my job (a whole other post on how sad that day will be for me will, I’m sure, appear on this blog at some point), and we’ve found a place to live and we’ve moved all of our stuff…  after all of that has happened, we are taking a month long vacation to Asia, where we will finally get the Honeymoon we never had because we were too busy when we first got married.

OK, so what does all of this stuff have to do with running?  Well, I’m honestly not sure what to do this spring…  Part of me wants to just sign up for a half marathon and go for it.  Jump in with both feet.  I feel like if I don’t sign up, I’ll never get motivated to push myself, and it’ll never happen.  I know I can do it, even if my time isn’t fabulous, and it hurts a bit (or maybe a lot), this is something that I want to do.  The problem is that we’ve got so much big stuff happening in the coming months, I’m not sure I’ll be able to commit to training.

So there is another part of me that thinks I should wait it out until fall, when things have settled down a little.  Find a job, find an apartment, move, go to Asia, come back, join a running group in Toronto, and aim for a fall race.  But there’s part of me that is worried about that too…  will I be able to stay in shape while on my belated Honeymoon?  Will I have enough time to train when I get back?  Will I be too overwhelmed at my new job to stay committed to my training goals?

So this is my dilemma.  I feel different about it every day, and I’m honestly not sure what decision I’m going to end up making.  But in the name of honesty, there it is!  What I do know is that running will help get me through the chaos of the next few months.  And as crazy as this spring and summer are going to be, I am wildly excited for all of this.  🙂

Do you have any big races coming up this spring?

How did you decide to run your first marathon or half marathon?  Did you plan it all out, or just jump in with both feet?

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The Playlist Post

Well, hello, friends…  Just checking in quickly.  I`m about to head out to the gym for an afternoon of cardio…  So, what will I be grabbing as I walk out the door?  Aside from the obvious house keys and water bottle, I never leave the house without my headphones.

There are times when I do a full workout without any music on at all.  I know people who never listen to music when they run…  I generally nix the music when I’m having a post work workout, and I just need to de-clutter my brain after a long day.  I actually find an hour of silent cardio very therapeutic on days like that.

Today is not one of those days, however.  This is my only day off all week (including last weekend AND next weekend, both of which I am working) and if I’m going to fit a workout in this afternoon, I could use a little pumping up.  So I thought I’d share some of my favourite workout music, and invite you to share yours!  I could always use some new music ideas!

What do you like to listen to on a run?  Are you into the slow burn of laid back tunes that carry you through a nice, relaxed jog?  (I went through a phase for a while where all I would run to was Band of Horses.)  Or are you all about the upbeat pop?  I, myself, have a heavy preference for rap and hip hop, but there’s a bit of “hipstery” stuff thrown into that mix, too.  (What does “hipster” even mean?  I use that word semi-sarcastically.)

Sometimes I like to just throw on an album and listen to the whole thing, and sometimes I put on my running mix.  Either way, here is a glimpse into my music taste…  a pretty strange little mix, I will admit, but hopefully you will discover something you like!

My top 3 workout albums right now are:

Kanye West Presents Good Music Cruel Summer (you cannot go wrong with the song “Clique” and it helps to have a lot of Pusha T in the mix)

CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe (I love just putting this album on and listening to it from start to finish on a run)

J Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (mainly because this is my favourite album in general right now)

My favorite songs for working up a sweat are:

Worst Behaviour, Drake (I just put this song on repeat sometimes, and run to it for like, 3 miles, before switching to something else)

Partition, Beyonce

Sweatpants, Childish Gambino (working out to this song is great for your ego…  unless, of course, you think having a huge ego is a bad thing…  in which case, i guess you shouldn’t be listening to any rap songs at all…)

The Mother We Share, CHVRCHES

Workout, J Cole (obvious, but still very motivational)

Midnight City, M83 (never gets old)

Underground Kings, Drake

G.O.M.D., J Cole

Clique, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean

Bad Girls, M.I.A. (because I like to pretend that I, too, am a “Bad Girl”)

Believe Me, L’il Wayne feat. Drake

0 to 100, Drake

Trophies, Drake (yes, you ARE sensing a theme here, but this one’s really awesome for getting pumped up and being all “f*** the world, I’m RUNNING!” …as I’m sure Drake intended when he wrote the song)

XO, Beyonce

Chandelier, Sia (I know, that one seems a little random, but hey…)

Love Me Harder, Ariana Grande feat The Weeknd (for once, the Weeknd doesn’t totally ruin this song, and it’s got a great driving beat to keep your feet moving)

When I’m Small, Phantogram (one of my all-time favourite songs, period)

Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Kanye West

Annnnd, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I can always get a good run in listening to old school Mariah Carey.  There, I said it.  Now the whole internet knows that I still listen to “Always Be My Baby.”  (Even if you can’t run to it, it’s always a gem at karaoke.)

Happy running, everybody!

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, and an essential truth about Nursing

I know this blog is primarily about fitness.  But sometimes, I like to talk about my work as well.  Mainly because there are a lot of similarities between having a challenging fitness schedule and having a challenging job.  It`s almost impossible not to apply the life lessons I learn from nursing to staying fit, and vice versa.

This past weekend was a great weekend at work.  It was tough and scary at times, but utterly satisfying in the end.  My patient went from being crazy unstable to being sort of stable…  three days of solid work by a great team of surgeons and ICU doctors and nurses and RTs.  It was one of those weekends that makes me love my job.  It`s absolutely humbling being entrusted with such fragile little patients, and it`s a great feeling to know that I can help them get stronger.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, it’s made me reflect on how far I’ve come in my career as a nurse.  When I was a new nurse, this patient would have terrified me.  And I’ll be honest, we had some pretty intense moments with this little patient over the weekend, and it was still pretty scary at times.  But somehow, in the past 5 years, I’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  That stress that I feel when I see something going wrong and I need to act fast is actually a very good thing.  I’ve gotten to know that feeling, learned to act on it and live with it in my work at the bedside.  That feeling is part of being an ICU nurse.  Instead of trying to avoid it, like you do when you’re young and inexperienced and everything in the hospital scares you, good nurses learn to use it.  That “oh shit” feeling is your friend in a lot of ways.  It makes you act, and take control of the situation.  You learn to love the discomfort.

I could apply this lesson in a thousand ways to other parts of my life.  Let’s talk about the “oh shit” feeling you get when you hit a wall during a tough run.  I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt it.  How can I learn, as a runner, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable?  Well, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that one.  And I know you all do too, because it’s kind of obvious.  Practice makes perfect.  The more unstable patients I have, the better I get at taking care of them.  The more I push myself past my comfort zone when I run, the better I will become at dealing with it.

As obvious as all of this seems, it’s nice to have a reminder of it every once in a while.  I guess I`m having an “oh yeah” moment.  This is why I train hard.  So that when I’m uncomfortable during a race, I’ll be ok with it.  I’ll know how to take control. 

I’ll be honest, I’m still learning that lesson when it comes to my fitness.  I used to really just run for fun, so if I wasn’t feeling it, I didn’t have much motivation to push through and keep going.  But if I’m serious about running longer distances, I’m going to have to learn how to be uncomfortable.  Eeesh, this doesn’t sound fun.  But I’m pretty sure I can do it.  If I can adjust to caring for critically ill children, I can probably adjust to anything, right?

So that’s my essential truth about Nursing.  If teaches me how to be better in all areas of my life.  And I think that’s probably true about running, about loving, about doing anything that’s actually worthwhile.

Fun with the treadmill

After yesterday’s workout with my trainer, I am feeling pretty sore today, especially in my thighs and definitely in my butt…  (thank you olympic squats, that’s a part of my ass I’ve never really worked before.)  And after a long day at work, I promised myself that tonight’s workout would be light.  It’s one of those times where I just needed to show up at the gym and be happy if anything happened.

On a typical work + gym day for me, I’m out the door at 6am, at work all day, at the gym for a bit, and back home for supper by 10pm.  Anything longer than 30-40min at the gym, and it turns into a crazy long day.  So given my soreness and my timing constraints, today was the perfect day for a little 5k treadmill workout.

treadmill meme

Obviously, I much prefer to run outside, but given the fact that I basically live in the North Pole, I am forced to treadmill it for a few months every year.  Lately, I’ve been reading about different ways to work out on the treadmill.  If you want some resources on that, check this out.  And this, and this.  For my purposes right now, it looks like playing with pace and incline are two great ways to keep things interesting and push myself while on the treadmill, without over complicating things.

While my trainer has been showing me different ways to play with incline, tonight I just really felt the need to let my legs turn over.  The thing I love about speed intervals is that feeling of just letting your feet fly…  you know, right before your lungs start to burn, you get that feeling that you might vomit, and everything just goes to shit.  So tonight, I didn’t want to just jog an easy 5k.  I wanted to add some speed intervals to make it fun!

My workout today consisted of 1 warmup mile at my recovery pace, followed by about 1.25 miles (maybe a bit more) of intervals.  I finished a total of 3 miles at an easy pace, with a slightly increased incline just to make it tough.

The way I approached my intervals was to start at a pace 0.5kph faster than my recovery pace, and do 1min interval at this pace, followed by 1min of recovery.  (Unfortunately, the treadmills at my gym are in kilometers per hour, and I much prefer using miles when I’m running…  so I’m sorry for the confusion.  It actually confuses me, too…)  Then for each consecutive 1min fast interval, I increased my pace.  I was sort of just playing around to see how different speeds felt, because I usually run intervals outside and have no idea what the numbers on the treadmill mean.  I didn’t really get that speedwork lung burn feeling until my last mile, when I started increasing the incline, and then I could tell that my heart rate was nice and high and I was feeling the burn.

In the end, I covered 3 miles in 32min, with all the speeding up and slowing down of the intervals.  I felt awesome afterwards, and had a lot more fun doing this type of workout than I normally do if I just jog on the treadmill at a constant speed, even if my speed is normally overall faster than that.  Now that I’ve got a feel for it, I’ll definitely repeat this workout with faster intervals, and maybe throw in an extra mile or two…  there’s a lot of potential to build on here…  For a light day, I’d say it was an overall success!

What does it really mean to love your body?

Seeing as I’ve been dying of the plague (aka the flu) this week, I’ve been sitting at home trolling the interwebs a lot more than usual, and have been spending time catching up on some of my favourite blogs.  One of those blogs, The Hungry Runner Girl, wrote a recent post asking the question “do you work out because you love or hate your body?”  A great question, actually, although I brushed it off at first.

Now, I generally have pretty high self-esteem.  While I’ve never considered myself to be the prettiest girl in the room, I’ve always figured I must at least be one of the cooler ones.  I have plenty of friends, I’ve never struggled to get a date, I keep myself in decent shape and don’t feel too shy in a bikini…  So when I first read the question, I sort of shrugged it off.  Pfft…  Obviously I love my body.

Well, maybe…  On second thought, I don’t know, let’s see…  mayeb I need to dig a little deeper.

First of all, what does it even mean to love something?  Like really love it, full-on acceptance, no questions asked?  A lot of people, myself included, think of the word “love” as an action, or at least would agree that claiming to love something is generally backed up by action.  You can’t just say it, you gotta show it!  I do all kinds of things out of love for my husband that I wouldn’t do for anyone else.  Is this also how I treat my body?  Do I really treat it like I love it?

I think, while we’re considering this, we need to take a good honest look at what’s motivating our actions.  Do I do come home and cook dinner after work because I want my husband to have a good meal at the end of the day?  Or is it because if I cook dinner, that means I can stick him with the dishes?  (That example is obviously ludicrous – Joe and I both know I’m a terrible cook.)

Now I’ll apply that same principle to the way I treat my body.  Do I go to the gym and workout, or hit the road and log those miles, because I know it’s good for me?  Yes, this is what my body needs right now, I’m going to do this because it is an investment in my health.  I think that, a lot of the time, this really is the case.  That is often the type of motivation that gets me off the couch and out the door.  I really do think about wanting to increase my cardiovascular capacity.  I think about the health benefits it will reap down the road if I develop good exercise habits now.  But then, once I’m out there, when I really need to push myself to run that last mile or do that last set of squats…  my self talk changes.  I start to think about how this last mile will help me lose those last two pounds that I hate.  Or how if I lift this little bit of extra weight, it’ll help me target my “problem areas”, which I hate.

And what about those times when the most loving thing you can do for your body is to rest?  Or at least to take it easy?  We live in a culture of no pain, no gain.  People exercising themselves straight into the hospital, because they’re being told to push through the pain.  That sounds like an abusive relationship to me, not a loving one.  There are some days where you really do need to let yourself off the hook.  Take a break.  Calm down.  If we really loved our bodies, we wouldn’t be thinking Oh no!  If I miss this workout, my arm flab might come back!!  Instead, we should be thinking I need to take care of myself today, and my body needs a break.  I really love my body, so I’m going to take care of it.  (For a really great article on this, go here)

Example:  Me, today, struggling to get over the flu and get back into the gym.  It’s easy for me to become discouraged and feel like all of the recent progress I’ve made at the gym is in jeopardy because I’ve missed so many workouts due to illness.  But, If it were my best friend experiencing this, or my husband, or even one of my patients, I would tell them not to be discouraged.  Do what is good for them.  Stay home and rest, and their bodies will get back into shape when they’re ready.  Why can’t I treat myself with this same kind of love?

Here’s a weird thought.  What if I was ever given the opportunity to trade my husband in for a different guy?  I’m 100% certain that I would be appalled by the idea.  I don’t want another guy, I want to be married to my guy!  I love him!  Exactly as he is, and there’s no one else out there that could ever replace him!  But if I imagine myself being given the opportunity to trade in my body for a different one…  I’m honestly not so sure what I would do.  I can come up with a list of my flaws fairly easily…  given the chance, wouldn’t I be crazy not to trade this old bod’ in for an improved version?  One that at least doesn’t have an appendectomy scar and love handles?

OK, if you’re all still with me, I’m sure you’re wondering so what?  Exactly what does any of this mean for me and how will it change anything?

Well I think it means two things…  For me, I think I need to start looking at my relationship with my body the way I’d look at any other relationship.  I’m not talking about whether or not I love my intelligence, or my sense of humour, or any of the other things that make me who I am.  I’m specifically talking about the type of person I am within my relationship with my body.  Am I an asshole?  Am I abusive?  Or do I treat my body with the same love that I would treat anyone else that is dear to me?

Finally, I think it means I now have a strategy for how to approach my health.  The way I eat, the way I sleep, the way I exercise…  all of these things can be looked at through a lens of self-love.  Is it loving for me to work overtime tonight and miss out on a good night’s sleep?  If I really loved my body, wouldn’t I put a little extra care into preparing healthy food to eat?  And finally, why am I really running this extra mile or doing this extra set of squats at the gym?

Because I really love my body, so I’m going to take care of it. 

That time I broke my back – Part 2: Dealing with injury: Learning to be tough, going to physio, and taking control

Those of you who read my previous post may have figured out that I’ve spent a large part of my 20s as a party girl.  Yes, I am dedicated to my profession, and yes, I am now comparatively settled down, married, and very dedicated to my husband.  But in 2012, the year I injured my back, my primary dedication was to my friends…  and they liked to party.  (Side note, I am still absolutely dedicated to those same friends, but we’re talking a few years ago when we were all relatively unattached, gainfully employed, and living our 20s in Montreal.  Soooo, yeah.)

Of course, one other thing that I’ve been dedicated to for a very long time is exercise.  So when I hurt my back (see: link), it was a huge deal for me.  I was no longer able to cope with the ups and downs of life by hitting the gym and sweating it out…  I could barely go from standing to sitting, let alone hit the treadmill and run 3 miles.  In fact, normal, daily activities such as putting on pants, walking, and using stairs, were now almost impossible for me.  Every day, I got up and tried to dress myself.  And every day I ended up in tears, shaking from the pain, needing help…

I spent the first 3 weeks post Igloo-gate at my parent’s house in the suburbs, at a time in my life when the suburbs = death, and having to depend on other people for anything, ever = the total obliteration of my self esteem.  (I was supposed to be an independent woman!)  I was completely cut off from my social circle, missing out on parties and dinner dates, at a time in my life when FOMO was one of my biggest fears, and every weekend was, like, super epic and I HAD to be there.  I was an urban 25-going-on-26-year-old, still single at this point, feeling fabulous, and living in the city.  And then, in one split second, all of that got taken away from me, and it SUCKED.

Now despite the fact that I’d had a few years of relative ease, I would like to think that I’ve also always possessed a certain amount of maturity.  I may have been the kid who partied her way through Nursing school, but I was also the kid who worked her way through Nursing school – at school during the week and at work on the weekends, paying for everything out of my own pocket with no help from Mommy and Daddy.  (And guys, I love my parents very much.  They’re the people who taught me the value of a dollar, and instilled in me the work ethic that got me through Nursing school.)  I have experienced some dark times, but I’ve always believed very strongly in hard work.  Sometimes there are no shortcuts, you just have to put on your big girl panties, and do it…  so this injury wasn’t going to end me.  I was determined to use it.  To learn from it.  To beat it.

And so began my first-ever foray into the world of rehab.  Visiting my physio twice a week, tirelessly doing the exercises she gave me twice, even three times a day.  Knowing every morning when I got up that dressing myself would hurt like hell, but getting up and doing it anyway.  One day, I’ll wake up, and I’ll be able to put on my own pants again.  Maybe it will be today.

Rehab became my newest obsession.  I wanted to find out everything I could about my injury.  I read about how to overcome injuries like mine.  I exercised, I exercised, I exercised…  even though my exercises at the beginning consisted only of standing up straight and then holding it.  (It literally took me 2 weeks before I could actually stand up straight.  It was exhausting.)  I started at the beginning, with the simplest exercises, and I worked my butt off until I could do more.

I gradually got stronger.  I was able to walk, albeit slowly, from my apartment to the bus.  I could now ride the bus, and go to the physio therapist all by myself.  I could shuffle across ice-covered sidewalks to the sports medicine clinic, all alone.  I got a back brace, and it helped.  My physio taped my back, and that helped too.  I was staying at my own apartment again, for one or two nights at a time.  My friends came over and put my socks and shoes on for me.  I attended my 26th Birthday kegger and saw more of my friends.  My awesome and wonderful roommate helped put on my boots for me and I went out with my girlfriends for Birthday tapas.  I didn’t cry when it hurt to get in and out of a cab.  I kept doing my exercises.

birthday photo

That’s me on the right with one of my best friends, celebrating our shared birthday in Feb, 2012.  I have a pretty dress on underneath my flannel, but I feel so crappy in this photo that I really don’t care about how I look!  Just happy to be out of the house.

Eventually, my physio deemed me ready for the gym again…  but no running!  Not yet.  She told me to continue my physio exercises (a lot of core building stuff, including TONS of planks once I was ready for it) and to build in cardio by hitting the bike.  No activities that cause pain of any kind…  if it hurts, it’s because your body isn’t ready for it yet.  Try the bike, she told me, and we’ll talk about running later.

Now I’m not sure if I was just desperate for some good cardio, but I began an intense love affair with the stationary bike.  I started out doing 20min a day on it, but it quickly turned into 30, then 45.  Warm up, a couple of good, hard miles, some high intensity intervals, then cool down.  I was exercising at an intensity level that I hadn’t really gotten to before.  I used to go out and jog my 3-4 miles, come home and call it a good day.  But now, on the bike, I was pushing myself.  It was like my injury was challenging me: You think you’re so tough??  Show me!  And I was responding.

Within a couple months, I was allowed to start walking briskly again…  and then jogging lightly.  It was a while before I went for an actual run, and most of my runs were short at the beginning.  It was a long and painful process.  But by summer, after a winter and spring spent killing it on the bike, my cardio was better than ever.  Jogging 3 slow miles wasn’t good enough for me anymore, and when I was finally well enough to run again, I was running 5ks in under 23:00.  (I am not that fast anymore, but it sure speaks to the effectiveness of interval training!)

Toughness comes in all sorts of different shapes and sizes.  But for me, that winter, it was all about mental toughness.  It was about knowing that something might hurt, and trying to do it anyway.  It was about not being afraid to look ridiculous at the gym, and working out with a severe injury in front of all the meat-heads and body builders who must have thought I was pathetic.  It was about regaining control, turning this painful and frustrating experience into a learning experience.  Trust me, guys, it sucked.  I felt so weak at times during rehab, it was absolutely humiliating.  I saw myself at my most vulnerable, and that’s a place most people do not want to go.  But learning to dig deep is not a bad thing.

Setbacks are lessons, they are chances for you to prove to yourself that you can do hard things. 

As I write this post, I’m looking back at my old Facebook statuses from January and February 2012.  One of them says “I put on one of my own socks today…  BY MYSELF!  No big deal.”  It earned me a number of congratulatory comments.  There are tons of jokes on my wall, about being “crippled”, about wearing a back brace…  friends who were right there with me, making me laugh through my struggles, colleagues wishing me well and a speedy return to work.  These are like the spectators cheering you on during a tough race.  You need your own mental toughness, but you need these people too.

If I scroll a little more through my Facebook timeline in 2012, I realize that after my injury, I ended up having an amazing year.  My first solo vacation to Europe.  Being the Best Man at my brother’s wedding.  Attending my favourite music festival with some of my closest friends.  The birth of my first nephew.  Falling in love with the man who would later become my husband.  Going on our first vacation together to California.  And to commemorate it all, getting my first tattoo.  Maybe this injury thing happened for a reason.  Maybe it took me away from what I thought was important, so I could see what was really important.  Maybe it was the catalyst for me to become a better athlete, after all those hours of rehabbing in the gym, pushing myself, and seeing what I was truly capable of.  And maybe it was an opportunity for me to become a better person.  To appreciate my friends and family in a way I never had before.  To value my health, and take steps to protect it.  To learn to celebrate the small victories, appreciate the ordinary moments, and be grateful for the things I used to take for granted.

Here’s one last photo for good measure, taken with my husband on our first vacation together, back in 2012.  There’s something I will never take for granted.  This guy.  🙂

cali photo

Do you have an injury story you’d like to share?  Email it to me at allisondavis947@gmail.com!

That time I broke my back – Part 1: The Injury

Friends, I think it’s time for me to tell you a story…  the story of me, 3 years ago, experiencing my first serious injury, my journey through rehab, and how the experience has made me a better runner.  I’ve seen a few blog posts over the last little while that explore the topic of injury, and one of the major themes I see in each of these posts is the feeling of isolation that is brought on by being injured.  I thought it might be nice to add my story to the mix, mainly just to put it out there.  It turns out, injuries happen to runners all the time, and rehab can be frustrating.  I hope my story has some stuff in it that you can all relate to, and maybe help you feel a little less isolated if you’re dealing with an injury too.

The Injury

I suffered my first major injury in the winter of 2012, pretty much exactly 3 years ago.  At the time, I was a consistent runner, but I wasn’t tackling very long distances.  I was running multiple times a week, at distances between 5-8k.  Considering it was January in Montreal, I was spending a lot of time at the gym cross training, and getting my running in on the treadmill.  During 2010-2011, I’d been living with a roommate who was, to put it gently, wildly inconsiderate and terribly selfish, and I absolutely hated being at home, so I developed the habit of spending all of my free time away from my dysfunctional apartment, often going for a run outside, or hitting the gym.  Fast forward to 2011-2012, and even though my roommate situation had drastically improved, my exercise habits from the previous year had stuck.  Needless to say, in the months leading up to my injury, I was in pretty awesome shape!

Then it happened…  And this is the embarrassing part.  I’d like to tell you that I got injured while exercising, but if I’m being honest, my injury was actually more party-related than exercise-related.  It’s hard to explain exactly how it went down.  One weekend in January, I was attending a mid-winter outdoor rave called Igloofest (yes, that is how we do things here in Montreal in the middle of winter) when I somehow got caught up in a fake-dance-fight-competition with one of my friends…  Hard to explain the exact mechanics of my injury, but suffice to say, I ended up being hauled out of Igloofest in an ambulance (terrible) and spending the night in the Emergency Department of my local hospital (terrible), completely unable to walk (meaning I couldn’t even get up to go to the bathroom…  terrible!)  Yes, this is a true story.  No, the Emergency Room doctor didn’t believe me at first…  thank goodness I have a bunch of friends who happen to work in said Emergency Department who were able to vouch for me.  No, her boyfriend doesn’t beat her. Seriously, I’m sure she really did get into a fake-dance-fight-competition related accident, that actually sounds very much like her.  And thank goodness for my best friend who stayed with me through the entire night, sitting in a chair next to my stretcher, calling the nurse to beg for pain meds and a bed pan…  Yes, a bed pan.  That is a real friend, and it’s no surprise that she was the friend who ended up being my maid of honour a couple of years later…  when I married one of our other friends who works as a doctor in said Emergency Department.  (See, it all comes full circle.)

igloo

A photo of me (far left) with some of my friends at Igloofest on that fateful night in 2012

So the first 24 hours after my injury (let’s call the injury Igloo-gate from now on…) were pretty awful.  I’m a nurse, and I actually feel pretty comfortable in hospitals.  The smells and sounds and sights don’t bother me at all, and most of the people working in the hospitals in Montreal are either my friends or friends of my husband…  But lying on a stretcher in my snowsuit for 18 hours in the middle of an Emergency Department hallway on a Saturday night, needing to pee, but unable to get out of bed to do so, was not the type of hospital experience I was used to.  (I will admit, this experience has given me so much sympathy for my patients and their families…)  I wanted to get out of there so bad, I tried to get up and leave on multiple occasions, only to be met with the type of extreme pain that I have never before, nor since, experienced.  I was, to put it bluntly, completely stuck.  I was powerless, totally helpless.  This was not the Saturday night I had imagined when I agreed to go to Igloofest with my friends.

It wasn’t until almost a day, and a few doses of Dilaudid, later that I was finally able to shuffle out of the hospital, and slowly and painfully get myself into my mom’s car…  Tears were streaming down my face the entire time, but the Dilaudid they were giving me for pain control made me so dizzy that I refused to take any more of it.  I was clinging to my mother’s arm for support and shaking from the pain of walking…  I remember that walk across the parking lot to this day in excruciating detail.

So there it is, the story of Igloo-gate.  Embarrassing though it may be, it was actually pretty serious.  I ended up missing a month of work, and starting my first ever stint at physio.  My injury was to my lower back/hip area, where my Sciatic nerve was being compressed due to the swelling caused by my accident.  I was completely unable to walk for the first week or so, unable to bend over to put my pants on, unable to go from standing to sitting without having serious pain shooting all the way down my leg.  I was forced to move home with my parents for weeks (horror!!), and I even almost missed my own 26th Birthday party (again, horror!)  The next few weeks would be mentally and physically tough, even socially tough.  But I learned lessons from that experience that I didn’t even know I needed to learn.

To Come: Dealing with injury:  Learning to be tough, going to physio, and taking control.