Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mile Repeats

I have spring fever. As much as I am trying so very hard not to absolutely hate winter, I still don't like it very much. I run outside everyday, I run upon trails, road, snowshoes, the season doesn't matter. -40F oh well, get out and do it anyway. I try ice fishing now and again, but don't really care for it. I have taken up snowboarding with my boys. This is the first winter than I haven't gained 10 or more pounds and found myself very depressed. With all the upheavel I have had going on this winter, thankfully I am not depressed or fat, as usual. It could have been more of a nightmare had I been fat and depressed because of my weight.

Back to spring fever. Today I decided to run mile repeats. I realized this past weekend that McNaughton 100 is closing in on me so I pulled out last years training and saw that I had begun to run mile repeats in February. Well, February it is.

There is a 3 mile stretch of asphalt near my home, relatively flat and straight. I measured out 1 mile and placed a branch near each end. After work today Topaz and I ran an easy three mile warmup around the neighborhood, as we were practically attacked by the neighborhood dogs and bad dog owners who actually yelled at me when I told them we had a dog ordinance, and then attacked the mile repeats.

1st mile: 734
2nd mile: 731
3rd mile: 729
4th mile: 730
5th mile: 728

Pretty darn consistant. Topaz beat me on every mile! He knew when we were reaching the end of the mile. He would begin to run tight circles around my feet, I don't know, trying to herd me and keep me from turning around and doing it again? I told him he better not take a nip out of my calve! Crazy pup. I love him.

I was exhausted. After a 3 mile jog home I was ready for a hot shower, a hot fireplace and a good book!

Tonight is my one TV night of the week. I'll be chillin' on the couch, watching The Biggest Loser.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Loving Normalcy

As 'normal' as normal is; for me.

Tyler is doing very well. He attended school Tuesday and felt well enough to attend his youth group Tuesday evening. He has his appetite back. He isn't able to take part in any physical activity for three weeks so that has been difficult on him. He is very active. Baseball tryouts were yesterday, he wasn't able to attend. He will tryout at the next date, sometime in April. He isn't able to snowboard with us. Troy and I, along with Troy's friends will be going in a bit, Tyler will have to stay behind. He will be with friends, watching movies. He reminded me that he missed out on three weekends while he was ill.

He has an appointment with his surgeon tomorrow morning for a final CT scan. Hopefully, we won't see the surgeon again until sometime in the summer when he removes whatever is left of the appendix tissue.

As for me, I'm loving the everyday schedule that I keep. It was very difficult, sitting in the hospital, having no schedule, just waiting. I am most comfortable when I have each hour scheduled out, knowing what I am doing next. Steve no longer has a license, so he wasn't able to sit at the hospital very often.

I have been running each day, twice a day a few times; lifting and using the stair master. I've rescheduled most of the appointments that I missed. Being in the hospital with Tyler was all that was important. The missed appointment with the tax guy, the County Board meeting, the Orrock Board meeting, the guitar lessons, youth group, classes, work, the things that seem important when all is well, weren't important at all.

While Tyler was in the hospital I didn't run, I just didn't feel like it. Running is a sign of normalcy and nothing was normal. Running brings me joy and happiness. I wasn't joyful or happy. I thought I would really go stir crazy, or feel real stressful if I didn't run for a week...but that didn't happen. It just wasn't on my radar. I certainly could have brought running clothing to the hospital and ran around Anoka/Coon Rapids, but I just didn't feel like it.

When I finally went for a run on Monday, after Tyler was home, it was wonderful. I cried tears of relief and joy, I whooped and yelled happily, I chatted to Topaz the whole way. He was as happy as I was! It was a sign that things were getting back to normal.

Yesterday Troy had evaluations/tryouts for baseball. I brought him to the High School in the morning, left the car in the parking lot and ran 35 miles around Big Lake. The temperature when I began was 3F and when I stopped it was 33F. What a great warm up! As I removed clothing I dropped it off in my office at the High School, checking on Troy's practices to see how much longer they would take and how much longer I would be able to run. It was wonderful! There was an ice fishing contest going on with many porta potties, so that came in very handy, too.

This morning Topaz and I headed out to the trail for a 20 mile run. There is still a good 6" of snow on the trail but it was crunchy enough that I only wore my snowshoes for 10 miles, then removed them and enjoyed the final 10 miles snowshoe free. I'm tired of snowshoing!

I guess my training for McNaughton 100 Mile has begun. It's only 7 weeks out. Maybe I'll dig out my training logs for the past three years that I've run McNaughton :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gratitude and Joy

Yes! Tyler is at home. Right now he is sitting on the couch with a hot bowl of homemade chicken soup with dumplings.

On the way home I asked him what I could cook up for him. We stopped to buy three rotisere chickens so I could make a quick homemade chicken soup and dumplings with carrots and potatoes.

I'm so thankful and grateful and full of joy. I do not have the words in me to describe how happy I am, how relieved I am, how wonderful it is to have my son back at home.

This morning when I went to the hospital I was praying that I would be bringing Tyler home. His surgeon has been very conservative, the radiologist told us days ago that he felt we could go home, that Tyler was a tough boy, that he would fight off the infection; but Dr. Johnson was not quite as sure. We waited and waited.

Dr. Johnson wanted to wait until the infection was clear, I couldn't agree more. I didn't want to take him home to have him end up sick again. The infection is clear, they took out the the two tubes and bags, his IV's were pulled and all is well.

As I approached the room that Tyler has occupied for the past 12 days I took a deep breath and opened the door. There was Tyler, sitting upon his bed, all showered and fresh, wearing his street clothing with a huge smile upon his face and his release papers in his hand, ready for me to sign.

I scampered across the floor and pulled him into my arms. Relief.

Tyler has lost 28 pounds through this ordeal, but we are lucky that he had 28 pounds to lose, that he went into this sickness as a very healthy and strong boy. He is 6'3", and was 190 pounds when this began. He left at 162 pounds. He fought the fight and he won. He will be lifting with me soon, his Doctor gave him the OK in two weeks. His muscle and strength will come back.

We have an appointment with his surgeon next Monday. He will probably have surgery to remove whatever is left of the appendix tissue sometime in the summer, when he will not have to miss any more school.

Thankfully, Tyler is an A student and has been keeping up with his homework. His teachers are willing to stay with him after school each evening to catch him up.

I told Troy that if he ever has a pain in his side, we are not going to play around with it, we will be heading to the clinic immediately. I have learned a tough lesson.

Thank you so much for all of the prayers, notes and thoughts. I appreciate each and every one. They helped immensely.

I am so looking forward to normalcy.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Still Bound to the Hospital

Tonight is night number 9 that Tyler has been in the hospital. It's not easy. The good news is that he is feeling better, and is becoming bored. The bad news is that he is still there.

Wednesday the radiologist took another CT Scan. There was a bubble of infection that still remained near his colon, it wasn't draining with tube 1. He added tube 2 through his back and attached another bag onto it. Now Tyler has two tubes draining infection.

His fevers have lessened somewhat, his white blood count has gone down a bit, he has a bit of an appetite and his blood culture looks good. These are all good signs that he is getting better.

The hope is that upon a CT Scan on Monday the surgeon and radiologist will see that the infection is GONE, the tubes and bags can be removed, he can be given an oral antibiotic, get off of the morphine and percoset and I can take Tyler home.

What I don't want to happen upon the CT Scan is to see more infection, to realize the drain isn't working and that removal of infection and appendix has to take place surgically. This past week plus would then be wasted time.

I'm hanging in there. I just want normalcy again. It will feel good to be grateful for the normal things: the three of us riding to school together in the morning, bringing Tyler to guitar lessons, being back at work and having Tyler visit me during his lunch, running. I haven't run since last Thursday, before his CT scan appointment.

I haven't been to work in over a week. Thankfully my coworkers understand fully. I am hoping to be back to work on Tuesday, if all goes well.

Thank you for all of the prayers, thoughts and well wishes. I appreciate every one of them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


A week ago, Thursday, Tyler came down with what I thought was the flu. He had a fever, was vomiting and had a stomach ache. He stayed home Thursday, decided to go to school on Friday and was home sick until Wednesday, when he decided to go to school again. On Thursday he couldn't get out of bed because his side hurt so badly.

It finally hit me. It could be his appendix. I called the clinic for a 220 appointment on Thursday. After the clinic visit, his doctor suggested we go to North Suburban Imagining in Coon Rapids for CT Scan to look at his appendix at 730 PM. While Tyler consumed a large amount of barium, I went for a run with Topaz. I was worried about his appendix. I kept wracking my brain, trying to figure out when the side pain began. It was the Saturday before. Shit.

We went to NSI and sure enough, his appendix had already burst. The doctor there couldn't reach our Elk River doctor so she told us she would call Mercy Hospital and we needed to get our butts to ER as soon as possible. On the way to ER I had Tyler call Steve, Mom and Dad and Laurie.

The ER doctor met us at the door. They ushered Tyler off to ER and began to give him sedatives for surgery. NSI gave me a CD of his CT Scan. The surgeon came in and looked at it, saw that the appendix was already burst and decided to hold off the surgery. He felt that because it already burst the infection had been moving throughout for some time, that his colon, liver and intestines were already compromised. He felt that by going in and performing surgery they could do more damage to the tissue, having to reconstruct it; and if they would drain the infection, let the tissue heal, and complete the removal of whatever is left of the appendix at a later date (3-5 months), Tyler could be better off.

Now, Tyler's primary surgeon is not a pediatric surgeon. Tyler is 6'2", 180 pounds. Not really a child, but not an adult. He has a pediatric surgeon on his team, along with his primary and they are calling the shots together. For now, he has a nasty tube that is cut into his back, set near where his appendix was. It is draining foul things out of him. The hope is that the infection and guk drains well, he gets stronger each day, he can be released and the appendix or what remains of it can be removed, or not, at a later date.

It's been tough. I hate hospitals. Well, who doesn't? It breaks me, seeing my young, tough, otherwise always healthy son laying in the hospital bed. I finally came home for a few hours yesterday to shower and today for a few hours to shower and get Troy and Steve some groceries. With Steve not being able to drive because of the DWI it's really been a bitch. I have spent the last 5 nights sleeping in the room with Ty. He's getting better each day. His fevers are lessening, he began to eat a bit of solid food today, a few things are improving.

Tyler had another CT Scan today but his surgeon was called to an emergency so I haven't heard the result. Tonight when I return I hope to know what our next step is.

Say a prayer. Wish us strength. I sure appreciate it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

New Discovery

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New Explorations off My Well-Travelled Trail

Today the *Friends of the Sherburne Wildlife Refuge* hosted Winterfest, in the Refuge. The Sherburne Wildlife Refuge is the 38,000 acre wild woods that I enjoy running through each and every day. Winterfest was held today from 10-2. They offer sled rides, guided walks through the refuge, brats and cake, bald eagles from the Raptor Center. I would have been interested in the video on animal droppings, but I just wouldn't have been able to stand seeing all of the visitors in *my* running area.

Topaz and I left before sunrise so that I wouldn't have to put up with the public. I LOVE running in the refuge, I LOVE that barely a soul every disturbs me out there, I LOVE that the bridges have been out all winter on the Blue Hill Trail so that nobody bothers me. I LOVE running solo, with only my pup to talk with.

Today I decided to run down to the lake, then investigate further down the never travelled fire path, or whatever type of pathway it is. I'm not sure what it is. I looked at my watch and ran along the path, being careful not to turn an ankle in the uneven frozen snow. I figured I'd run 2 hours down the path and turn around and hit Blue Hill on the way back to the car. I wanted to run a slow easy 4 hours. I didn't wear my snowshoes, they are still a crumpled broken mess from the Northwoods Snowshoe Marathon and I am in no great rush to snowshoe anyhow, so haven't sent them off to be fixed.

As the sun rose and the sky became lighter I could tell that it was going to be a cloudy, kind of hazy day. There was no wind, it was quite warm, 25F when I left home with a high today of 30. I could hear animals in the woods. In the darkness, it kind of freaks me out.

I didn't know where the path would lead me to and every once in a while Topaz would bolt off, doing his herding then, then circle back to me. It was still quite dark and I was wondering what it was he was herding. I heard pileated woodpeckers nearby and they were so loud I just knew there was a big group of them in a stand of oak nearby, feeding. I hoped they would still be around on my return.

Daylight arrived and all around me were dense oak stands. I was sure I was still in the Refuge, as I hadn't crossed any roads and I didn't see any sign of homesteads. It was kind of a weird feeling. I knew I wasn't lost, but I didn't know where I was, either.

I have been running in the Refuge for 5 years, but had never been down this pathway before. There were many off-shoot paths that went to the left and the right of the pathway that I was running upon. I will have to investigate further tomorrow. Eventually I came to a Refuge sign "Native Prarie Grass..Seeded 1996". At least I knew I was still in the Refuge! It was so quiet. Not a person or a sign of a human anywhere. No human prints, only animals.

Topaz spotted two coyotes. He began to tear after them but they were too far ahead of him for him to catch up. Eventually he looped back to me. I don't know what he would do if he were to get close to them. His hair was up on his neck, he didn't like the smell of them.

I looked at my watch and almost two hours had passed. As the path went through a big stretch of meadow, I told Topaz we'd go to the end of the meadow and turn around. Well, at the end of the meadow was a big hill that I couldn't see over. I had to explore further. What was over the hill? It looked like a deep ravine.

We ran along and holy moly! A big metal bridge crossing a wide frozen river. I couldn't believe it. There were Refuge signs on the riverbank, it wasn't closed to entry. I gingerly went through the bridgework and over the river. How exciting! It seems silly, but I really was excited to find this bridge and river. I had NO idea it was out there. Topaz and I explored a bit more, then turned around and headed back where we started.

By the time we approached the car the DNR had placed out parking signs labeled "WINTERFEST". I left the lot as quickly as possible!

I'm anxious to get back out tomorrow to investigate the trail and river further.

(My spell check doesn't seem to be working anymore)