Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 17....Ugh

Horrible day today.

First, Dunkin Donuts has installed a huge magnet on the face of their building which attaches itself to my car as I drive by.  Magnetic force is a very hard physical property to over come.  Or so it seems.  I did manage to make it past Dunkin Donuts and the beautiful Boston Cremes that were waiting there to soothe my frustrated soul, only to succumb to two cookies, Tombstone frozen pizza and a diet coke at my parents house tonight.

Really, just an all around horrible day.  The cookies helped for about three seconds, the pizza was a huge disappointment, the diet coke was DELICIOUS and my stomach hurts.  I think the fact that diet coke is bad for you is just as metaphysically unfair as tanning being bad for you.  Everyone looks better with a tan and everyone feels better with a diet coke.  How could those two things be so bad?

Don't worry, I am in no way, remotely giving up.  That is not an option.  All in all, the eating plan and workout plan have been going fine.  The other night I actually made fresh asparagus for a bedtime snack. Seriously.  Unheard of on so many levels...1) fresh asparagus being in my refrigerator in a recognizable, non-mushy state, 2) me cooking, and 3)  eating it as a bedtime snack!!!

Today just felt overwhelming, frustrating, sad...sometimes it feels like I'm wearing a coat that doesn't fit quite right.  And whatever is wrong with the fit, is not noticeable on the outside, but always irritating to me.  Some days I am absolutely certain I will change and the coat will fit perfectly but other days I just want to tear it off and put on something baggy, comfy and sweet...metaphorically speaking.

And its not like I don't have healthy, effective coping mechanisms available to me.  I mentioned a link, in an earlier blog, to a really good, short meditation/breathing exercise: http://www.ishausa.org/ishakriya/
It is so helpful and so easy and "works" every time I use it.  I feel stronger, calmer, just more able to face the day.  But sometimes I just want to do what I know best and that is eat.  So fucked up, right?

Well anyway, tomorrow is another day.  I work out with my fantastic trainer Greg.  Shooting for four and a half minutes on the vile stair master tomorrow.  I work with Patrick tomorrow so I will bring back words of wisdom and funny videos from him.

Let me end with two things that did make me happy.  First, my sweet, youngest niece Kelley, wrote a paper about me for school, on the subject of caring.  She said many really sweet things about me that made me cry, but what really got the waterworks going was she mentioned that every year for Christmas, I get her and her 3 siblings an animal from Heifer International, that is then gifted to a family in Africa.  You cannot imagine the teasing and laughter that goes on every Christmas when the kids open up their wrapped up pictures of cows, chicks, pigs and goats.  They think its hysterical and absolutely NEVER listen when I try to deliver my annual State of Poverty in Africa speech.  BUT, apparently they really do listen and appreciate it!  Or at least one of them does.

Second, Patrick handed in an English paper titled, I Love My Gay Nurse (me).  Hysterical.  He refused to let me publish it in the blog, but gay jokes aside, it was a great paper about how people who live outside the box sometimes have more to offer.  Best of all, he ended it with "I'd like to thank my sponsor, the Skittles candy company, for their product, Taste the Rainbow."

The kid is a riot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 12... Pics of Team Patrick

When I started this journey, Ed Reardon, owner of Results 22 in Glenview, asked me "What is your goal?  The race, losing weight or getting fit?"

I answered it was the race.  Completing the sprint triathlon.  It was about raising money for Patrick.  And if I lost weight and became fit along the way, that was great.

Not to be easily deterred, Ed followed up, "What if you were able to complete the race safely, but did not lose a pound along the way?  Would you be okay with that?"

Yes.  I would.  I'm not saying I wouldn't be disappointed, but if I got to the point where I was fit enough to safely finish the race, that is enough.  Size itself is not my issue.  Its freedom to move and live in the world as fully and freely as I want.  Again, having said that, losing a few lbs along the way would be great, but not a deal breaker.

5'2"   263lbs

For this reason, I don't want to spend a lot of energy talking about weight loss.  But it is a real issue in this journey.  My body is going to change in some way, so I'm posting the "before pictures".  Greg took these at his studio on Day 1 of my work out.  I think we can all be thankful I did not go for The Biggest Loser's bike shorts and sports bra look.

Meet our team:
This is a picture of Team Patrick: Greg Cabachon, Stephanie (Patrick's physical therapist), me and Patrick.  I got Patrick to smile by describing what I would look like crossing the finish line.

Laurel and Hardy run the Chicago Triathlon!
This is Stephanie, the beautiful and gifted physical therapist that works with Patrick along with Greg.  Stephanie is the first to join me in the triathlon! I'm not sure two more different body types exist. We are going to make a fabulous team on August 26!  Any bets on who will be the first to cross the finish line?

Join us!!!!  If I can do it, anybody can do it!!!

Day 12... Advice from Patrick

I realized that posting every day is a bit much.  Pearls of wit and wisdom do not flow from me daily. And anything other than that makes for very boring reading. So there may be times when I'm condensing to spare you incessant  whining.

Random exercise tip: Music REALLY helps.
On tuesday I was on my own to do a 30 minute walk.  I hate walking just for the sake of walking.  I love bike riding because you move fast.  Walking seems soooooo slow even when I'm trying to go fast. So I try to find a place that's interesting to walk.  I went to Lake Glenview and walked around their lakeshore path.  Its 1.5 miles for the loop.  Despite the fact its pretty and there is a lot of wild life, I still spend a significant amount of time looking over my should to see how far I've walked and looking at my watch to see how long I've walked.  I decided to put on my earbuds and listen to music to distract me.  It so worked!!!  However, it is impossible for me to hear music and not sing along or dance.  Luckily it was cold and windy on Tuesday so the people who were subjected to me walking along the lake path singing "I got the moves like Jagger. I've got the moves like Jagger.  I've got the mooooooooves like Jagger", were kept to a minimum.

On an earlier post I wondered what Patrick does when he is frustrated or angry.  He doesn't have the option of eating, or drinking, or slamming a door, or yelling.  So last night I asked him.

"Patrick, I eat when I get frustrated and angry.  What do you do?"


"Do you get angry and frustrated?"


"Come on! You never get angry this happenned to you or frustrated that your progress isn't faster?"


"What are you freakin Buddha?  How can you not feel angry, frustrated, resentful about this? How do you view this? Do you every ask yourself why this happenned to me?"

"No. This is just how it goes...that this happenned.  You can only change your future.  You can't change your past."

Clearly I (Mary Jo) could not believe this is how Patrick is handling his injury and current life.  He never complains and is always wanting to work harder, but I assumed that he had to struggle with frustration if not anything else.  I wondered if Pat was always able to take things in stride or if this is something has learned since his brain surgery.

"Patrick, before you had the brain injury, when you lost a water polo game, or a swim meet, were you just able to shake it off and think 'I'll just do better next time'?"

"No. I would get pissed off."

"What accounts for the difference now?  Why are you able to look at this differently?"

"I don't know why I look at it differently now. I just know that my job is to work as hard as I can now and not worry about what has happenned in the past.  I do get angry when people try to limit my progress or limit me...like you do."

Let me just interject here, I (Mary Jo) do NOT try to limit Patrick.  We have a difference of opinion of what is safe.  Pat prefers to forget that I am a nurse and just keeps me around as his texting bitch.  A real challenge for everyone, is Patrick is 19 years old and is an independent adult.  Most 19 year olds, however, are not making truly life altering decisions about their health care.  Its a constant and really important balance for everyone in Patrick's life to respect his autonamy.

"So you realize Patrick, since Mother Theresa has clearly been reincarnated in your body, it is really hard for me to complain about anything in front of you without feeling really stupid and petty..."

Much laughter at the idea of him making me feel stupid and petty....

I'm going to paraphase the rest of the conversation.  Basically Pat told me that I bitch about everything (so not true) and that its really not that complicated...I can change my current diet and I will lose weight.  Let me just add it is essentially impossible to defend yourself when the person who is telling you this, is blinking it to you.  And I am enough of a bad witch to be annoyed by that.

It is impossible to have the last word with Patrick.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Days 7 and 8 Week 1...check

Well, I have completed one week of my new program, lifestyle, insanity, not quite sure what to call all of this other than different.

Let's start with the good news first: 3 days of cardiovascular activity
                                                        4.5lbs lost

Let me back track a little bit.  I started working with Patrick in late September of 2011.  At that time I was working 8 hr shifts and its pretty hard work.  Because Patrick cannot move on his own and had less head control then, it was a lot of lifting and turning and just finding yourself in awkward positions.  Because I'm short its sometimes a little bit more of a reach for me and I was doing a lot more movement than I had been.  As the weeks went on, I noticed that I was very gradually losing wt.  But it wasn't healthy.  I was so tired when I got home I fell asleep without eating.  For those of you who are nurses out there, it was kind of like going back to work on the floor...at 53.  I also have another part time job as a hospice nurse on an inpatient unit.  I work nights and that job is also like going back to floor nursing.  Anyway, I was losing wt but I was not healthy.  From Oct 1 to April 1I had lost 12 lbs.  So  a grand total of 16.5 pounds and now I'm getting healthier.

I skipped writing yesterday because it was another REALLY hard day.  I was at my parents house, which I believe I've mentioned before is like a robotic trigger to eat.  Its kind of amazing how when you change your habits even for a week, you become a little bit more mindful of your eating triggers and emotions.  Which in some ways is very annoying.  Its so much easier to just cope automatically and grossly unfair there is anything wrong or unhealthy about that.  So long day at my folks and I forgot to bring anything good for me to eat.  Followed by grocery shopping for our Easter dinner.  Really, never, ever go to the grocery store when you are craving the least little morsel of food and you have just spent a crazy afternoon with your parents.  I got home once again cranky and whining.  Does not make for good reading.  I was much to bitchy for any meaningful insights.

Ok, back to more good things.  I mentioned that a reader had suggested the website www.ishausa.org/shakriya/  to follow a guided meditation.  I did the meditation last night and this morning and its a very simple, short meditation which is perfect for me. It truly helps to carry on through the day without chips, sugar, popcorn, drugs, alcohol or diet coke.  I highly recommend it.
The second good thing I discovered is that it really does help to have healthy choices THAT YOU LIKE, around your house, other people's houses, your car, the el...wherever.  I have heard that for years but I am finally desperate and/or committed (a little early to use the C word) enough to have actually followed through.  All I can say is thank god for precut celery and carrot sticks with hummus.

This morning I got up and walked for 30 minutes and it was a pretty brisk walk.  Unfortunately the wind was also a bit brisk which got me to thinking Race Day, August 26, may be a little windy here in the Windy City and for the first time it dawned on me that the weather could be less than ideal in the humidity capitol of the Midwest.  I'm not going to think about that now.  Much too early. Baby steps...like trying not to be dangerously resentful of the mothers and their strollers and their clamoring, jumping, 3-6 year olds who were sharing the track with me.  First of all, the track is for serious athletes.  Second of all, if I had two in a stroller and two hanging off my legs on Easter morning, I'd be at home with a bloody mary in a Mommy size sippy cup directing "hot" and "cold" basket hunting until then fell over from exhaustion or a chocolate induced coma.

On to my folks house to make Easter lunch/dinner.  Really just a meal they could eat sometime during the day.  I really am not a good cook and yesterday in preparing for the meal, I was reading the cooking instructions for the ham.  I bought the ham at Whole Foods because the ones at Trader Joes were huge. I was at Whole Foods anyway looking for the elusive leek and noticed they had the perfect size little ham.  Anyway, I'm reading the directions and they say 7-8 minutes per pound.  I immediately realize there is a math equation involved here and look to see how many pounds.  4.52lbs.  Remember that number. I then happened to notice the price for the first time...$36!!!!! For a ham I could hold in the palm of my hand!  You would think because the farmer does not have to pay for the hormones, antibiotics and genetically engineered little piglets that the price would be less.  And they don't have to pay for cages.  That pig better have been sleeping on a velvet pillow or at least be a distance relation to Charlotte.

Anyway, I was far from perfect today.  Despite bringing healthy food, I did have one diet coke and a cinnamon bun.  Oddly, I don't feel bad about that.  I know how this day could have gone and how it has gone in the past and I feel pretty OK about today.  I'm either slightly evolved or once again honoring the Harte family tradition of denial. 

For just today, don't share which you think it is.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 6 and HATING it

I think its fair to say the euphoric bubble has burst.

I'm bitchy, crabby, cranky,whining, evil and feeling every bit the bad witch.  My best friend Maria, who has known me forever, says that in my relationship with Renee, Renee is the good witch and I am the bad witch.  She's right.  And today I would love a broom stick.  And a diet coke. And a bowl of buttered popcorn with salt and Parmesan cheese. And PEOPLE magazine.

I was at my mom and dad's house today and since as long as I can remember that has been a trigger to eat.  So I am sedated and can calmly catch whatever they throw my way.  Now its much more bittersweet and I'm sad.  And they are bumping along in their own less than perfect way and who wants to see your daughter come in looking sad, or tearful or crabby, especially when you think you're doing just fine.  So eating makes it easier.  But I did not eat today and I'm not happy about it.  I know I should feel proud, one small step and all that.  But I don't.  Right now, I'm thinking that meeting a goal and soldiering on is completely overrated.

And Patrick man, your everyday is a million times more challenging than this shit.  I know it.  I do have some presence of mind to feel mildly embarrassed about that....but not enough to be even remotely a good sport.  I'm sorry.  Why haven't I ever asked you what you think about and do when you are pissed off about your life circumstances (besides telling me to fuck off)?  Next time I see you I will ask you.

I also just got back from Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to stock up on my healthy food.  I had to ask a lady in the produce section what a leek looked like.  And then they were out of them!!  So I have bags of groceries full of crap I can't even recognize, much less cook.

I'm going to sign off before I totally pollute cyberspace with negativity. A lovely woman who reads my blog sent me a link to a guided meditation.  I am definitely going to check it out and will pass it on.
Right now I'm going to sit down and eat my hummus and cucumber sandwich on whole wheat pita bread.  I hope it helps.  I'm not holding out a lot of hope.

Does anyone know what the carbohydrate content is in a shot of Tequila?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 5...Patrick on video...my salvation

I have the weirdest combination of total exhaustion and energy.  I'm not quite sure what to do with that.  Any time I feel energetic, I get a little worried because its such a foreign feeling.  Even talking about it makes me a little nervous, so more on that later.  And just for the record, I am no more fucked up than any of you...I'm just sharing.

Today was day 2 with my trainer Greg.  Renee, (my partner/wife) is already offering to pay his childrens' education because she trusts that I am taking a safe route to fitness.  In the past, I have been just a little bit impulsive and she's glad someone is reigning me in.  Ironically, however, there is no need to reign me in.  This is VERY hard!!!  You know how in your head you always envision yourself at whatever age and size you were feeling the most confident?  And then you just stick with that image because why ruin a great fantasy with reality.  So even though I know I'm fat, I don't ever really think and feel fat.  Believe me when you are in a room wearing capris, a huge tee shirt, surrounded by mirrors, looking like you are going to take your last breath on a fucking stairmaster rather than smiling beatifically at your loved ones, you feel not only fat, but REALLY out of shape.  Longest 30 minutes of my life!!!

Let me say one more thing about Greg that is such a welcome relief.  One of the problems of going into your average gym and being trained by the anorexic 15 year old, is that they are so overwhelmed with the challenge in front of them that they go nuts!  They want you on the treadmill for an hour and then the weights and then another machine...I am not kidding.  And they do not know anything about compensating for a body shape other then a Q tip.  This is a true story.  Many years ago I had joined a gym and was assigned my trainer, who I'm sure had just graduated from high school the day before.  She wanted to "work my core" and had me lie on one of those incline/decline benches.  So basically I am lying upside down with my head near the floor.  Now when you are a large woman, your body follows gravity.  I was being suffocated by my breasts which were being shoved out the way by my belly.  Literally, my breasts were covering up my face.  Not only could I not breathe, I could not see.

Today I was on the recliner bike.  This is where true expertise and skill comes in.  I know something is wrong with the way I'm positioned because when my knees are coming up they keep knocking into my stomach.  So I asked Greg, "Do you think I should move back a little...my belly is in the way".  He walked over and instead of moving my seat back, which would have made it hard for me to reach the pedals, he reclined the back of the seat.  Problem solved!  This may seem like a very small thing to those of you reading. But I am telling you I have been suffocated by my boobs, got my tee shirt stuck on a bike seat so I ricocheted back when I tried to get off, and in general risked serious injury because people did not know what to do with me.  This is why so many overweight people do not want to go to a gym.  Besides feeling embarrassed and self conscious, its dangerous.  Take the time to find an athletic trainer.  The difference is night and day.

Patrick's injury is interesting because while he is not able to voluntarily use his voice, he can use it involuntarily.  This happens most often when he is really laughing. His impulse to laugh causes his diaphragm to contract and push the air out of his lungs hard enough to make it up and over his vocal cords. So you can hear him laugh. Also, for reasons I don't fully understand, he is able to get more  voluntary muscle movement in general when he laughs.  We also discovered early on I was a great source for entertainment.  I'll sing rap songs while doing my very intimidating, bad ass, gangsta rap moves.  I'll do my Zumba exercises.  I'll tell stories from my youth which I think are fascinating and he thinks are hilarious.  The point being that often during physical therapy, his therapist Greg or Stephanie, will yell "Mary Jo, make him laugh!!" and I'm on.  Please don't think for a minute Patrick thinks I'm a gifted comedian or he is laughing with me...he is clearly laughing at me.  Luckily my ego is strong enough to handle a 19 year old.  Plus, not a bad gig spending a lot of your time laughing and getting paid for it!

Today was one of those days.  Greg is saying, "laugh, laugh"!! and I start talking about coming over the finish line on August 26, looking terrific in my bike shorts and sports bra.  Just lost in the vision of my success....he is laughing HYSTERICALLY!  We got a lot of movement out of that one today!

Here's a video to give you an idea of what I'm talking about.  I love this kid!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 4...costarring Patrick on video

Today was the first official day of training.  I almost died.  I have only two significant things to say today:

1.  Whoever invented the stairmaster was spawned from the devil and should be shunned from all human interaction forever more.
2.  When you transition your diet from 0 grams of fiber to A LOT of fiber, best to stay close to home.

My terrific trainer Greg, whom I'm sure I will soon hate, started me off on what I think is interval training.  I used 4 different aerobic machines, doing several minutes on each, adding up to about 30 minutes.  God, how I miss the brisk walk.

Everyone has expressed so much support and a few folks have expressed some concern about what I'm getting myself into.  No need to worry.  I am aware of exactly how far out of the bell curve I fall!  This is why I am working with Greg Cadichon at Rebound Fitness in Northbrook.  He is an athletic trainer...NOT a personal trainer.  I myself just learned the difference.  I always thought that the athletic trainer who ran onto the football field to the aid of a writhing player was some guy who really loved sports, took a First Aid course, and found away to parlay that into a career.  I'm serious.  And now I'm also embarrassed because an athletic trainer is really a rehab specialist who has extensive education, board certified and has a minimum of a bachelor's degree.

This is not my first time at the fitness/weight loss rodeo.  Like most overweight people, I actually know a lot about what to do and how to eat...I just don't do it and several therapists' kids have enjoyed a high quality college education funded by my efforts to figure out why.  I have started gym training programs many times.  Inevitably, whenever I went to a gym and hired a personal trainer, I was paired up with a 21 year old Popsicle who looked like she was 15.  Or a 21 year old chiseled man who looked like he was a 12 year old with chest hair.  Neither of them knew what to do with me.  They had no idea what to do with those of us who are outside the bell curve.  Greg does.  His first words to me were "you know you are at risk for a heart attack.  We are not getting into weights.  We are just going to work on building your cardiovascular endurance.  Having said that, I know you can do this."  Sounds good to me.

I am ending with a video of Patrick.  I worked with him tonight and told him I wanted to include him more in the blog.  You will not hear his voice because he is not yet able to talk.  He looks up for yes and down for no. You have to be careful what you ask a 19 year old.  So we talked about goals.  This kid is unbelievable.

Day 3...a family affair

Totally cheating this morning by posting yesterday now, and today, later today.  No one has ever accused me or my life as being linear!

This morning I woke up to this quote in my Daily Om:

A moment of choice
We can choose to start over in this very moment, there is no need to wait for a new year, a new month or or a new week.

I don't know how the Daily Om people do it, but they always seem to know what I need every morning.

I have another blog that follows the journey of me moving back to Chicago from San Diego to help care of my parents.  That blog involves a lot more cursing, though this one is still in its infancy.  Something tells me that the combination of no sugar and exercise will bring out my, as my niece Annie would say, "inappropriate" vocabulary.  Anyway, for those of you who may not know, two and a half years ago I moved back here to pitch in with my brother and sister to help my folks.  My mom has Alzheimers and my dad has advanced heart disease.  They are a riot...in every meaning of the word!

At my brother's house.  The golden is his dog Benny, who loves my Dad because he always spills food on the floor.  He will not leave my dad's side at the dinner table.
So Day 3 included them in my workout.  Take a look.

For those of you who know my Dad, don't be alarmed.  He only uses a wheelchair for long distances.
So picture this: I'm pushing my Dad.  My mom is following on her giant tricycle with my sister's dog, Murphy, in the basket.  It was sunny and I was getting warm so I had my VERY bright pink sweater wrapped around my waist.  My ass looked like a neon stop sign.  Safety first!

The walk was not brisk, but it was 30 minutes and I'm taking extra points for the upper body workout pushing my Dad.

Off now to meet with my trainer. Met with my nutrition coach yesterday.  More later!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Day 2...Cardiovascular Event

Well, I postponed Boomer Yoga in favor of a "brisk 30 minute walk".  What exactly is "brisk"?  I understand a "brisk day", a "brisk wind", but i really don't understand a brisk walk.  I think I start out brisk..head high, in the moment, pretending like this is not the first time in 3 years I have taken a brisk walk, but then things become decidedly less brisk.  My head is down so I can keep an eye on my feet, less they get tangled in the dog leash, a curb or each other.  I am no longer in THE moment, but 100% hanging on to the promise of the 30th minute when I am FINALLY done.  I am maintaining, however, that the glass is half full: 30 minutes...done
                           brisk....done (as well as can be expected)
                           oxygen tank....not needed
All in all, not too bad.

I looking over yesterday's post, I realized that some folks may think when I say "i'm terrified", that I am referring to the triathlon itself or the training process.  I'm not.  Though I'm pretty sure that will come.  I am terrified of changing how I eat.  Changing how I eat also means changing how I feel, how I cope, how I present myself to the world.  This is also day two of my sugar detox.  Yesterday I cut out about 75% of my typical sugar intake and today about 90% and tomorrow I'm planning on total withdrawal.  I will not be a happy person, nor will I be pleasant.  What do you put in your coffee to make it yummy?What do I do instead?  Seriously, what do I do instead of eating something sweet? I have never been willing to completely give up sugar unless someone offered me something, other than a drug, that worked just as well as comforting, sedating, energizing.  I have yet to find that something.

This picture was taken after we had left Northfield at 6:45am to get to a 8am appt downtown, only to find out we were there on the wrong day.  People often ask me, how can you tell when Patrick laughs?  This is how.
I know there are several of you out there screaming at your computer screen, "Exercise"!  The endorphins get going, and you know they are just as good as morphine, and before you know it you are feeling great and you will crave exercising just like you craved sugar.  Yeah, I don't think so.  I would not know an exercise induced endorphin if it landed on my head.  And I'm pretty sure I've never craved a brisk walk.  But this entire project is one gigantic leap of faith.  I'm not getting my hopes up on the endorphin rush or looking forward to a time when nothing could make me happier than a spin class followed by a carob coated almond.  But I'm taking the leap of faith that even without those organic moments, I will be happier, healthier and able to tell Patrick, "ye of little faith, smart ass".

I was just thinking that I'm sounding very cerebral about all of this, which is highly unusual for me.  The leap of faith is based on all the mountains of data that tell me I will be healthier and subsequently happier.  But if I'm truly honest, and for some reason I feel compelled to be, it is also about my spirit, my heart in the non anatomical sense.  I cannot do what I want to do and that really pisses me off.  I've been big for many years, but I've also been very active for many of those years and my size never limited me.  Now it does.  I went to Fiji two years ago and was not able to hike as long and as high as I wanted.  There was a natural rock slide that all the village kids were on but getting to the top was just too hard.  Totally and completely pissed me off.  I do not like to have anyone, or anything, including nature, say no to me.  So my soul is ready too.  Scared, nervous, terrified but ready.

What the fuck do you do when you can't eat cookies in bed at night?  The world is going to suffer the consequences.  I'm apologizing in advance!

ps...a great blog my cousin Kate writes...breatheandbewell.wordpress.com

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day 1

I am completely terrified.  In 148 days or 4.93 months, I am going to compete in the Chicago Triathlon, Sprint distance.  I'm not sure compete is exactly the right word since I'm pretty sure I will not be competing against anyone.  I don't know the appropriate athletic term for "want to participate, finish and survive"...in that order.

Just to be sure you understand the complete weight, pun intended, of my previous statement, I am 5'2, 263 pounds, 53 years old and have not seriously exercised in years.  I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you are asking, "why"? The answer follows below:

I spend most of my days, in one way or another, in the company of the most amazing, infuriating, stubborn, creative, infuriating, driven, persevering, stubborn, funny, insightful, indefatigable, adorable....did I mention infuriating,  person I know.  His name is Patrick Stein.  He is 19 years old.  I adore him, I love him and on most days he is the cause of every wrinkle I have.

His also a quadriplegic and has been for the last 18 months.  In October of 2010 Patrick underwent emergency brain surgery for a brain aneurysm.  After the surgery, Patrick was diagnosed with Locked-in Syndrome.  It is medically defined as having lost control of all purposeful movement other than your eyes and eyelids.  You cannot speak.  You cannot swallow.  You cannot move a single muscle other than your eyes and/or eyelids.  You cannot call out for help.  You cannot leave a room when you are tired of a conversation.  You cannot push someone out of your way.  You cannot kiss someone you love.  You cannot taste your favorite food.  You cannot sing your favorite song.  You cannot go to the bathroom by yourself.  You cannot breath without the tube in your throat.  You cannot fuck (at least not in the same way you used to).

You can: smile, laugh, think, understand, feel pain, happiness, frustration, anger, spell fuck you to your nurse, work hard on physical therapy every day, make huge improvements, text inappropriate messages to your friends (using a third party otherwise known as a texting bitch).  You can dream, concentrate, learn, make other people laugh, make other people cry, enjoy movies, watch Tosh.0 until your nurse is ready to run from the room screaming.  You can communicate with your eyes by spelling, giving the you are the dumbest person in the world and I can't believe you just said that stare, and smiling.

I am one of Patrick's nurses and he has impacted my life beyond description.  Earlier this week I was talking with Patrick and his athletic trainer, Greg Cadichon, during Patrick's physical therapy session.  I was whining about wanting to lose weight, not being able to lose weight, hating to try to lose weight....you get the idea.

Greg left the room for a minute and Patrick said (spelled) to me, "It is so easy for you to lose weight".

I started to answer, defending myself, outraged because if it was so easy, why am I still fat, smart ass?

As I'm talking, Patrick starts rapidly blinking his eyes, which is his signal that he has something to say; so essentially he was interrupting me.  I stopped talking and asked "why would you ever think it is so easy for me to lose weight"

He replied, "Because there are so many things you can do".

"You mean compared to you"?

He looked up. "Yes".

Well shit.  What do you possibly say to that?  There is no possible childhood trauma, lost love, missed opportunity, or bad marriage to trump that.

So.  I am going to be in the Chicago Triathalon, August 26, 2012.  I will be doing about a half mile swim, 14 mile bike and 3 mile run (walk).  This will be a fundraiser for Patrick and his foundation.  Much more to follow on how you can help Patrick and me out. His trainer Greg will be helping me prepare and train.  Others will help me with nutrition.  Mostly Patrick will motivate me because every time I mention it, he starts laughing hysterically.  Watch out dude.

Today is Day One.  I have done nothing but write this blog and started to cut out sugar in my diet.  Tomorrow I am going to "Boomer's Yoga".  I am hoping by midweek I will have actually completed some cardiovascular activity.

Follow me on my journey.

I am terrified.  But I'm more crazy about this kid than I am terrified.  That seems like a good place to start.  Patrick is a tremendous athlete.  Before his competitions he would tell his team "Crush it".

I will crush it.  Watch me.  Join me.

I dare you.  "There are so many things you can do."