Thursday, November 26, 2009

Time to Heal

I got an email from my friend, Bob, this week saying, "I checked your blog and this is the longest you've gone without writing. Are you okay?"

I told him that my tendinitis was flaring up again, so I wasn't running much.

"That explains the not running," he typed back. "What about not writing?"

Well. That's more complicated. I guess I haven't wanted to once again document my Not Running Life here on my running blog. Because the Not Running is not bothering me nearly as much as it was over the summer. Perhaps my Mental Health is improving and I am not so dearly dependent on running to keep me (relatively) sane. Or maybe that's all hooey and I am in complete denial. I honestly don't know.

Anyway, here on Thanksgiving morning, a time generally reserved for a pre-meal long run, I am Not Running, and I'm okay with it. The weather has been mild this November so I have been able to get out on my bike. And I have been swimming and lifting at the Y a couple of times a week. I am thankful for so many things in my life: family, friends, homeschool, pets, writing, music. Missing a few runs pales in comparison.

Pretty much.

I am looking at this as a time of healing. A necessary down time at mid-life. I am trying to re-group, re-think, re-prioritize. And it seems to be going well.

I just started taking violin lessons. What a joy it is to make music again. I played the violin growing up, played in orchestras in grade school and middle school, dabbled in college. The kids all play the piano now, as does Brian, and Nell started violin earlier this fall. One morning, listening to them all take turns on the piano, it occurred to me that everyone in the house was making music except me. So I signed up with Nell's teacher (picture Emma Thompson with a violin under her chin) and have been playing for about three weeks.

When I look at the music and try to make my fingers respond to the notes on the page, I can feel all the old firings in my brain. It's like a brain massage. Old synapses quiet for decades are springing to life. It's very cool. Pop pop pop goes the inside of my head. Squeak squeak squeak goes the instrument. I'm not very good yet, but I'm working at it.

I think its valuable, as a homeschooling parent, to really suck at something and work to overcome that suck-i-ness. Because that is what I am asking of my kids on a daily basis. It's good to remember, as I try to help Ben learn to read, what if feels like to begin a difficult task, what it feels like to fail, and what it feels like to finally crack the code. It's a good exercise.

My other challenge these days is my stomach. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a non-bacterial gastric ulcer. I was put on Nexium and told that I should stay on it for the rest of my life. Sometimes the Nexium works and sometimes it doesn't. I started researching the drug and discovered that it is intended to be taken only for two week periods.

So I am trying to get off the Nexium. I am working with a Naturopath and we are doing our level best to get to the bottom of my stomach distress. It has been an uncomfortable process, but ultimately worthwhile. I am off the Nexium now, feeling mostly okay (the nausea is gone and I am left with only heartburn, which I can handle on a daily basis), and working though dietary changes. I am off dairy and wheat at the moment and waiting for the lining of my stomach and esophagus to heal. Then we'll go from there.

It's funny, but since going off wheat almost a week ago, I find that I am much sharper. I am chattier, less dragged out, more clear in my thinking, especially when I am talking to people. Weird. It's like a veil has been lifted. And there are so many gluten free products on the market now (expensive!!), that making the switch has not been much trouble.

And my tendon will get better. Eventually. This I know because my long-suffering PT tells me so. I haven't run since last Saturday (5 days). I hurt it again on the roads last Saturday during a long (which turned out to be not so long) run with Susan. I had noticed twinges down around my ankle all week (why do I so consistently ignore the warning signs?), and then on the long run something gave and the hurting started again. I walked back to the car, but the walk was long and the ankle was sore. And then I spent 4 hours standing on the hard pool deck tiles at a swim meet. By the end of the day, it was really sore. So. Back to square 1. Or perhaps not square 1, maybe square 3 or 4. I don't think it's too bad this time.

But overall, life is good. Biking is fun. My swimming is getting better. I actually did a 1000 yard IM yesterday morning and felt marvellous afterward. I am helping to coach Nell's swimteam again this year. I love coaching swimming. The kids are great, the parents are wonderful, and this year's coaches are phenomenal. Swimming is such a great sport for kids. Nell would go every night for two hours if I let her. Clearly she has the exercise bug. But she's only 8. Three times a week is enough.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading here. This life is a gift and today I am conscious of being endlessly thankful. Thankful without ceasing. All day long.


  1. Nice to have you back Pam. I know you were not far away, but I know that I missed reading your musings. Think about this time away from running as a mental break also, with you coming back in January ready to do the training for Umstead.

  2. Even if you never ran again you would still be a wonderful and engaging writer. There is a lot more to Pam than just running.


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