July 29, 2011

Check Out My Guest Blog Post (on triathlons!)

I am so excited to be a guest blogger! Lisa, who blogs at 110pounds.com, put out a call asking for guest to post on her blog. I've been a long time follower of Lisa's; I read her blog religiously and follow her Twitter. She has lost over 110 pounds, and is such an inspiration to me for healthy living. Please check out my guest post, "Triathlon Help", on her blog, where I give advice to people who are interested in training for a triathlon, but are afraid to. Thanks, Lisa!

July 26, 2011

7 Links

There has been something called 7 Links circulating around the blogosphere. I was honored when Thesesa over at Active Eggplant nominated me to do it. It's a great way to dig up old posts, especially for newer and casual readers. So, without further ado, here are my 7 links:

1) My Most Beautiful Post

This is hard! I'd have to say it's one of these two: Thoughts on Mothering My Daughter and Thoughts on Mothering My Son. I wrote both last Mother's Day, 2010, and to me sums what what I have learned from parenting each of my children, including my daughter who has some special medical needs.

2) My Most Popular Post

My most popular post, based on page views, (apart from when I did my Tommie Copper Compression Sleeve Review and Giveaway) was I Miss My Daughter: ICU Update. Last month my daughter was unexpectedly in the ICU for a week, including over her 5th birthday, when her lung collapsed after a supposedly simple surgery to close the hole where her trachestomy had been. Lots and lots of people read that post. It was hard to write..and after re-reading it now, I'm extra glad she is home.

3) My Most Controversial Post

I don't think I have ANY controversial posts! I will post this one, I Feel Like A Running Fraud, because that was an INNER controversy with myself. I didn't feel like a real runner, or a real triathlete, even though in actuality I am.

4) My Most Helpful Post

I will nominate What is YOUR Excuse?, in which I counter-attack all possible excuses for not making time to exercise! I firmly believe that we can ALL carve out time to work out. If I can do it, anyone can!

5) A Post Whose Success Surprised Me

I wrote about a necklace I had engraved with the phrase I Am Not Afraid. I Was Born To Do This! My friend and jeweler Erica Sara made it for me. It expressed my thoughts on overcoming my fears, both when it comes to racing half marathons and triathlons and in parenting.

6) A Post I Feel Didn't Get The Attention It Deserved

Oh, heck, I don't know! I honestly don't pay attention to the number of people who view my blog or each post. I also don't keep track of comments, as some people comment on my blog, others write their responses to posts on Twitter and dailymile, and many more people read but don't respond at all. I will, instead, randomly choose one that didn't get a lot of comments: My Sweet Potato Moment, where I explain why I am grateful for all the little "ordinary" things my daughter does...including getting food stains on her clothes.

7) A Post That I Am Most Proud Of

Easily this post is The Swim. I was proud of the way I wrote; I thought it encapsulated a swim session from beginning to end perfectly.

And now I'm supposed to nominate 5 people of my own to do this exercise. I'm not sure if these friends have done their 7 links yet, but if not, I encourage them to do so!

Steena at Finding My Happy Pace
Jacqi at Bloggin 'N Joggin
Jenn at My Little Rays of Sunshine
Jenn at Junk Miles
LB at My Reason To Tri

July 24, 2011

Training For Your Life

Last week I rode my bike around Miramar Lake, a local lake here in San Diego with a path that circles around it for almost 5 miles. It's not a very challenging course, as it's pretty flat, but it was the best place for my Wednesday bike ride. My husband, J, was out of town last week, and I don't like to ride far when he's away. I felt safer here; if something happened, like I blew a tire and couldn't fix it on my own, I could easily walk it back to my car. By the way, I have learned how to change my bike tire, but luckily haven't had a flat (yet) so have never done it on my own.

I did three laps around the lake, plus a little extra to make it an even 15 miles. Keeping the bike in a high gear and going into a headwind gave this flat-ish course more of a challenge for me. It was fun, and I was happy to be biking. I recently had an epiphany that I am LOVING the bike! I am getting stronger and stronger on the hills, and lately have been going up hills nonstop that just a few months ago I needed to stop in the middle of and rest.

Anyhow, this lake is very popular for people exercising. Every time I've been here (and I have been here dozens and dozens of times over the years) it is packed. On weekends it's hard to find a parking spot. Even this week, on a Wednesday morning, there were tons of people there. There are people running, biking, walking, and roller blading. There are seniors running and families walking with young kids, often with a child wobbly on their first bike. I love it.

One reason I love going to the lake is that everyone is there to get fit. It's not a place you just happen upon. You have to drive to the lake. You have to get up in the morning and say to yourself "I'm going to Miramar Lake today to bike/walk/run/skate". You have to make an effort to get there. Hence, everyone is purposefully there to get fit, to walk around the 5 mile lake, or even to walk a mile in and then turn around and walk back the other way. Whether it's someone who is running the lake 5 times in preparation for a marathon, or a pair of friends strolling slowly around catching up with each other in the sunshine and fresh air, no one is there to be a couch potato.

I got to wondering, on my second lap around the lake, what people were training for. It was obvious that many of the people were training for a race, perhaps a half marathon, marathon or triathlon, because they were wearing race shirts from previous such races (I always smile when I pass someone wearing a t-shirt from a race that I myself did!) But I also know that not everyone races. Why, then, would people be out there running or biking or whatever if not in preparation for a race? (I am addicted to training for races, it's what motivates me to to get out there daily, so I come from a different mentality).

It hit me.......those people were training for their lives! Just because some people don't race doesn't mean that they aren't in training. People want to lose weight, control diabetes, gain muscle mass, add bone density, lower their blood pressure...the list of health benefits goes on and on. And I am sure that many of the people out there on the lake, and in fact many people that I see biking and running and swimming on a daily basis are doing so for the sole purpose of bettering their health, with not a competitive bone in their body (indeed, there is a woman I see twice a week at the pool...she gets there at 5:30 in the morning as I do, and she told me that she doesn't do triathlons or swim races, she swims solely for her health and for fun).

I seriously tip my hat to those people who exercise just for their health. I am addicted to swimming, biking and running, and love to sign up for races as a way to not only keep up my own motivation but as a way to measure my progress. But you don't need to train for a triathlon or a half marathon (or even a 5k) to get out there and exercise. All you need to do is move your body. I see people out there doing it all the time....training for their lives.

July 19, 2011

Rejuvenated Swimmer

I try to swim twice a week as part of my triathlon training. I just started swimming for sport a year ago, and really enjoy it. I have worked my way up from doing 18 laps (a lap being there and back) with a LOT of breaks in between each lap to doing an average of 40-50 laps per swim, with no breaks. I even sometimes do 60 laps, if I have the time and energy to spare, and once did 70 laps.

Last week, however, I felt like I had lost my swimming mojo. I still swam, but my heart wasn't in it. I realized that I was bored. It wasn't really a challenge anymore, and going back and forth and back and forth for an hour or more, without any music or any other input, could be mind-numbing. I usually enjoy the solitude of my thoughts in the pool, but lately I've just been bored. It's not unusual for me to be bored during a long workout, but at least on a run I can put on a new song on the iPod or look at the scenery. And it's hard for me to be too bored while I'm biking, as I really have to keep my wits about me and pay attention to my environment.

So I brought the issue up to my amazing community on dailymile. (For those of you who don't know about dailymile, the only way I can describe it is that it's like Facebook for athletes. I have "met" so many athletes from all over the country--and the world!--who challenge me, motivate me, and cheer me on...and I do the same for them. It's so inspiring to me to see my friends' workouts when they post them.....they motivate me to try harder myself.) Anyhow, I asked my swimming and triathlete friends how to combat boredom during the swim, and got tons of replies! The most common thing people told me was to shake up my routine and do drills (I'd only been doing straight freestyle, sometimes throwing in some work with paddles). Having never done drills before, I read their descriptions of some, and did some googling to find more drills as well.

Additionally, I did myself a favor last week and bought myself new goggles. I have been through MANY pairs of goggles over the past year---different brands, different styles--and had yet to find a pair that worked for me. I have a narrow face, so a lot of goggles would leak. The ones that don't leak tend to fit me oddly, and cut in sharply on my orbital bone. I had always lived with the pain, deciding that having pain was better than leakage, but I would often have to stop after doing a set of 500 yards to readjust. On Friday, I went back to the swim store yet again, and tried on dozens of pairs--again---and was about to walk out empty handed when the manager came over with a pair that was so new that it wasn't even out on the floor yet, nor did it have a price yet. I tried them on...and knew instantly it was for me (Jazz, by Barracuda). Not only did they have great suction, but the rubber lay so nicely over my eyebrow that my orbital bone didn't even feel it.

Today was my first swim since getting the new goggles and the new advice. I had an amazing swim! I did 2000 yards (40 laps). The goggles were amazing...no leaking, and I didn't even feel them during the 55 minutes I was in the pool. They were so comfortable! I did lots of laps with my usual straight-out free-style, and did my usual 500 yards with paddles...but also did some laps with closed fists, some with only using my right or my left arm, and sprints. The drills were HARD but challenging, and definitely kept my mind engaged. And I know they will make me a stronger swimmer. I am eager to work on these drills, as well as try new ones that have been suggested to me and that I find online. I'm even considering another private lesson with a swim instructor to learn new drills.

July 18, 2011

Potty Training Woes

I haven't written in the last week, and that's because what I really want to write about is a topic that has been frustrating to me, so frustrating that I'm hesitant to write about it.

First, the good stuff. Ever since coming home from the hospital two weeks ago, A has been doing great. She had her first-ever swim lesson last week (only her second time ever to be in a pool!) and seemed to like it, although going underwater shocks her. Yesterday we went to the beach, and afterward she took her first shower. Small things like this---swim lessons, a shower, a bubble bath--are huge to us. I am so grateful, and don't take it for granted at all. Unbelievable.

So, what's bad? Potty training. Yes, my newly-turned five-year-old daughter is not yet potty trained. And she's starting kindergarten at the end of August.

It's not like we haven't tried. I've tried training her on-and-off for years. In the past, it wasn't a big priority. Things like teaching her how to eat and drink (so that she could get her feeding tube removed) was number one in my mind. And then, of course, she didn't walk until she was 3 1/2, so I cut her some slack there. After all, I reasoned, how would she be able to go potty if she couldn't walk, let alone stand to undress herself? And with all the medical issues she's had, I kept making excuses for it.

This past year, however, I've been focusing on potty training more and more. A kept telling me she wanted to wait until she was 5. Well, she's been 5 for almost 3 weeks now, and we're still no closer to training than when she was 2.

A few weeks ago I decided no more diapers. She hasn't been in an actual diaper for a week and a half now (of course, I put a pull-up on her at night) and she's been in underwear. She continually has accidents. If I put her on the potty, and she sits for long enough, she'll eventually go...but she's yet to tell me (or a teacher at camp or at the gym daycare) that she needs to go. It's like she's continuing to use her underwear as diaper.

One of the big problems with this, besides the fact that I am READY to be done with diapers and training, is that she should be trained to go to kindergarten. She's going to a regular, non-special-ed class, and all the other kids will have long been trained. At our IEP in May, we talked about this. They can't deny her an education just because she's not trained, and I guess if she's not then the health-aide in the office would have to deal with dirty diapers. I am worried about this for A socially....I mean, I'm sure none of the other kids will be in pull-ups. She already has enough that is "different" about her (hearing aids, glasses, she walks a bit off-balance, etc) that I don't want yet another thing to set her apart from the others.

The thing is, there is a possibility that she can't even help it. Medically speaking, she may not even be able to feel the urge to go. If so, it's not her fault, which is good and bad---good, because then the lack of potty training isn't willful, and bad, because then does this mean she'll never be trained? We see her pediatrician in a few weeks for her well-child 5 year check up, and if there is no progress by then, I'll talk to him about it and maybe ask for a referral (to urology? to GI?) to see if there is testing to be done to see if this is the case.

At any rate, if anyone has any suggestions for potty training a child with special medical needs, please let me know. I know she's been through a lot, but this child has overcome EVERY obstacle that life has thrown at her so far, and I am determined to help her overcome this one.

July 10, 2011

My Daughter's First Swim!

Yesterday I had the BEST day ever at the pool.

I have had many great days at the pool, which is at my gym. I swim there twice a week as part of my triathlon training, and have enjoyed many small victories there over this past year as I build up my yardage. Each time I up my yardage by another 500 yards is a huge milestone for me.

But yesterday, I experienced a milestone of different kind. Yesterday my 5-year old daughter, A, was able to go swimming for the first time in her life.

Since A's had a tracheostomy since she was 4 months old, she was not allowed to be in water. Submerging her in water would have drowned her almost instantly, as the trachestomy, or breathing tube, led directly to her lungs. Bathtime was precarious; I never was able to fill the tub, instead having to let the water run without the drain plugged in, and I had to be careful in leaning her head all the way back while rinsing her hair, lest water get down her tube. Not only had she never been in a full bathtub or pool, but she'd never been in the ocean, in the shower, or even run through sprinklers. Water was just our enemy.

Last year, she got the trach removed, which was a godsend. However, she still had the hole in her throat (called a stoma) where it had been, and her doctor wanted to wait a year before closing it up, just to make sure she did ok. Things got easier, not having to lug around gear for the tracheostomy, but we still had to avoid water submersion, since there was a hole in her throat. We did take her to the beach for the first time last summer, but the sand was as far as she got. No ocean for her.

Two weeks ago A had the surgery to close the hole. And while we had complications post-surgery, she is home now and doing great. Yesterday was the day to finally take her to the pool and fulfill my dream of having her join me. She LOVED it! There was pure joy on her face the entire time. I can't even imagine what it must have felt like for her....for the first time in her life, she was entirely wet! She was either in my arms the whole time or bobbing in her lifejacket (with me holding her, of course, as she doesn't know how to blow bubbles when her face gets wet). She kicked her legs, splashed her brother, and loved it when I spun her around fast so her legs trailed behind her.

We are getting swim lessons for her this summer, and I can't wait for the first one. My daughter, the swimmer! I waited a long five years for this day, and experiencing her bliss in the water yesterday did not disappoint. I look forward to many more lazy pool days with her this summer.

July 5, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

I just wanted a quick post to update on my daughter. We were able to bring A home on Sunday. After 11 days in the hospital (which included 7 days in ICU, 4 days in step-down, 6 days completely under sedation and 3 different trips to the OR) we were thrilled. She's still not out of the woods yet---she still has some crepitus, which are air pockets in her chest--but she's well enough to be home. We are under orders not to let her do strenuous activity or rough-house, which could cause the crepitus to spread, so we're trying to do quiet play. But she's doing great! We were even able to bring her to the fireworks last night. I am grateful to have her home

July 2, 2011

Taking Care of Myself

Tonight ends our 10th day in the hospital. The good news is that not only is A out of ICU and in the step-down unit, but as of today she has both of her chest tubes out and seems to be doing great! The better news is that if all goes well tomorrow, we may discharge tomorrow, or by Monday at the latest. Of course, things may not go as as planned and we're here longer...but I am nothing if optimistic. She's even been for a few short walks around the ward today (wobbly on her feet after being in a prone position for 10 days, but still!) and is eating and drink like the champ she is.

These last 10 days have been very hard on me. Not only is it a tiring emotional roller coaster, but it's physically exhausting having a child in the hospital. Even just sitting bedside depletes my energy. The first several nights I slept at home, since she was under sedation and didn't know that I was even there; I felt it was best to get what sleep I could. Now that she's awake (ever since Wednesday) we've been here 24/7. I slept here the first two nights, and J slept here last night. I'm here again tonight (I went home last night and got a glorious 10 hours of sleep). I'm hoping that tomorrow night all four of us are tucked safely in our own beds, all under the same roof.

The other thing that has been hard for me physically is not being able to work out every day. It's no secret that I'm addicted to working out and try to swim, bike or run 6-7 days a week. I'm always training for something (these days I'm training for my next triathlon, which is in September, and the Long Beach Half Marathon in October). I am the queen of being able to find time to work out, but having a child in the hospital has wreaked havoc on my schedule.

Before I was here [mostly] full-time I was able to get a quick run in the morning before coming to the hospital for the day. But since being here most days and nights I have only been able to squeeze in a few workouts here and there (I got two short swims in this week while my son, D, had his swim lesson, and did a great elliptical workout the other day in the gym at the hospital's Ronald McDonald House). My working out is less about training these days than about a stress release. When I am able to work out and get a good sweat going, my body feels better and my mind clears. Doing a short swim yesterday was literally a breath of fresh air; after being in the hospital for 55 hours straight, moving in the water in the fresh air and sunshine was heavenly! I realize that family comes first, and am happy to give up a lot of my workout time in order to sit bedside with my daughter. But at the same time, I need to do SOMETHING here and there for my sanity; it makes me a better mother.

(Speaking of training, I feel that my fitness has really gone downhill recently. I haven't done a long run since June 5 when I ran the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, and while I have done a few swims since then, I have only gotten one "real" bike ride in, although I've had a few sessions on the spin bike at the gym. I have a new mysterious pain in my foot and am trying to stay non-impact for the next few days. I really need to kick it up a notch once I get my princess home, so I'm in optimal shape for my first Olympic-length triathlon.)

I am glad to have the outlet, even if it's occasionally, to work out as a stress release. I need to take care of myself in order to be there for my kids and husband, and I can think of no better way to do so. Hopefully the next post I write will reporting that my baby is finally home!