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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekend: Degas, park, Korean food, and basketball.

This was our first weekend home in two weeks, so some of it was spent doing those awful household chores that take too much time for a weekday. But we got in a lot of fun, too:
- The Degas exhibit at Newcombe art gallery (I'll post my favorites later).

- An afternoon in Audubon Park, mostly spent working on my crocheting...
Our shadows...because finally we had SUN.
- This crocheting in particular. I finished this 16" doll while at the park.
In granny panties.

- Then I spent some time reading and drinking my coffee. I'm reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. It's just ok. Nothing to write home about. 
More sun.

- Saturday night we watched a short WWII documentary and ate Korean food. This was actually my first time trying Korean food, if you can believe it! I liked our entree - spicy pork and squid on rice - but the kimchi side did not impress. I know kimchi is very on-trend right now, but I guess it's an acquired taste. The spicy marinade somehow seems dry to me, and the flavor is too alkaline, if that makes sense. I mean kind of like mole: the sauce for mole always tastes too alkaline to me, as well. I promise I'm not a picky eater... but the kimchi just didn't do it for me. 

- And while we finished the documentary, I made the doll a little dress. 

Sunday, we slept in a little, and went to church. Later that afternoon, we went to a Pelicans game - the first I've ever been to. We had a season ticket package when they were the Hornets, but I kind of stopped following them recently. I barely knew anyone on the team. For shame.

After the game we visited David's parents to "teach them their phones" as David said; it was good to catch up since it had been a few weeks. We reset their phones to "accessible" which basically makes all the fonts larger, by the way, and that solved most of their problems!

So, full weekend, but nice to spend it at home after being out of town for two weekends.

What's your favorite at-home weekend activity?
How do you feel about Korean food?
Do you have to teach your older relatives their devices?

Monday, March 30, 2015

10k test

My plan for Saturday was to run a 5-mile test run with my Garmin, at a pace that didn't feel extremely easy, without stopping. This was to give me an idea of how I should pace myself at the Crescent City Classic next Saturday, so I won't zoom out of the gate and end up throwing up somewhere on Esplanade Avenue.

It was an incredibly beautiful day Saturday, sunny and so crisp that I actually wore long sleeves to run (Friday night we had to turn the heat on in the living room. On March 27th! That's the latest we've ever used the heat while living here! Or it was until we turned it on Saturday night...the 28th.).

I turned my Garmin on and saw my last recorded run - November 27th. That was last Thanksgiving, at the quite-painful Turkey Day race. That 305 certainly is a trusty little machine: it's been off four months, and it came on with a nearly-full battery and found a satellite right away.
I haven't run on the levee in months, because I've been running such short distances (it's about a mile and a half to get to the levee; I'd just have to turn right back around for 3 miles, my max distance so far). With my whopping 5 mile run planned, I thought today would be a good day to run up onto the Fly (the area on the river behind Audubon Zoo) and continue briefly onto the levee. So with that in mind, I headed around Audubon Park.
What a lovely sight: sun AND a paved road! 
I didn't look at my Garmin while running, but I kept my pace at "uncomfortably easy" - not exactly a tempo run, but conversation would have been short and choppy. Nothing bothered me except for that same awareness of both hips. But my plans to run the levee were foiled: a train track cuts right across the entrance and exit to the Fly, and a train was stopped dead right at the point where you can exit the Fly, either to continue on the levee, or to head back to the park. Now, it wasn't blocking my way to the levee, but the train was  long, and at a complete halt, and I didn't want to stop on my pace test. I knew there was a good chance of it still being there when I turned around on the levee and came back, and I'd have to stop. So instead I turned around and headed back the way I came.

Doing that added quite a bit to my run, so I went over 5 miles, but my run-without-stopping was only five. I ran into a friend just as my Garmin beeped for mile 5, so we stopped and talked for a minute before I continued home. Interestingly, I was EXACTLY at 6.2 when I got home! So I am quite confident, now, that I can finish the 10k race next week!

Anyway. Let's talk about pace. It was much faster than I first thought. I was basing my previous pace off my time gone from the house running (since I wasn't wearing a watch), but since that included walk breaks, it wasn't very helpful. I was thinking close to ten minute pace, but it's more like eight. My splits today were: 8:06, 7:43, 7:43, 7:46, 7:31(short break), 7:27. It took me a few minutes to warm up, so I will make sure to warm up first on race day, and perhaps push it a little more? I'm sure 7:30s wouldn't be a stretch. I could definitely have gone faster, but no lie - I was certainly working. Crazy how fast you lose it! But also crazy that you can get it back. I'm not worried about speed right now. I'm more worried on keeping both legs attached and functioning.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

It's been a long road

Do you know what this is?

It's a steamroller.

And this is a half-paved street outside of my house! It's finally happening: a road. The paving process will take a few more days, but I think they will actually finish in March!

Speaking of long roads, my hip is progressing along nicely. I had to cancel my final two PT sessions because my PT's schedule changed, and it didn't fit my work schedule. But really, at this point it was just fine-tuning, and most of it I can do at home. I will miss some of the balance equipment, though.

My hip hasn't really been bothering me, for which I'm grateful. I have some stiffness and pain after periods of immobility, and it aches after a running increase (like when I jumped up to 2 miles, it hurt later in the day). It doesn't hurt while walking or running, and feels much better once it is warmed up and stretched. Anytime I notice pain increase from running, I just take a day off, and it feels better in about 24 hours. This isn't really problematic, since I'm doing a lot of alternating days, anyway. I dropped my home PT to just once a day several weeks ago, but try not to skip a session. I had to skip some while traveling simply because of tight quarters and schedules, and I definitely noticed a difference - my leg felt tight and weak.

The Crescent City Classic is in one week, and I think I will survive. I plan to do five miles this weekend to see how I feel. I might actually clean the cobwebs off the old Garmin to get a feel for my pace. I think for 6 miles we're looking at something between nine and ten minutes. THE HORROR. If my hip doesn't kill me, my embarrassment will. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Just a few more days...

...Until we have streets again! I was incredibly excited to return home from a weekend away and discover SIDEWALKS to our house. We haven't had sidewalks in months! And now? Yesterday they sprayed the primer for the asphalt! In two shakes we'll have a real street again!
All primed: and the emptiest I've ever seen my street.
The last block of the street still hasn't been started, but at least my block does, indeed, seem to be meeting the vague "March" deadline for completion.

So, this weekend. I mentioned that we were in Atlanta. I should probably also mention that we flew out on Thursday, not Friday.
Because Friday there was a man with a machete and wasp spray attacking TSA agents in the security line at the New Orleans airport! In case you missed the story, the police officer on duty in the area shot him (one TSA agent was grazed by a bullet, the only other injury). The suspect died the next day at the hospital - I suspect from refusing certain care, as he was a Jehovah's Witness. Police later found bombs and explosives in his luggage and car.

Pretty scary close to home - but I'm glad no one else was injured!
Side note: TSA agent's aren't armed?! Why did I think they were? I guess it makes sense not to arm them, and use police presence instead, but I swear I've seen TSA with a taser or something. Methinks my mind is playing tricks on me. I would make a terrible Sherlock Holmes (except I'm sure I'd look adorable in a deer-stalker. Who doesn't?).

In a few minutes, I am probably going for a short run, but I am making sure I keep a close eye on both hips. After my recent fall, I noticed that the left side of my pelvis seemed to be achey, so even though the right side has the bad bruise, I am sure I absorbed impact to both hips. I also majorly slacked off on my hip strengthening for the three days I was traveling, since there was not a lot of room to do it, and I'm doubling up on that for the rest of the week. You can never have too much hip strengthening!

*Edit* Went for run, both hips are fine, skinned knee is furious with me for sweating on it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

I am too clumsy to run.

We spent the weekend with friends in Atlanta, and since our gracious hostess lives just a short, pleasant jaunt from Piedmont Park, David and I went running there during our stay. I love staying with this particular friend: she has access to Piedmont Park for running (and once, a race located there) AND, since she doesn't drink coffee, David and I always treat ourselves by having Starbucks (just around the corner) every morning during our visits. I do occasionally enjoy a good, strong Starbucks!

On the second day of our stay, David and I were running to the park when I stepped on a loose piece of side walk and went flying! I landed on my right side, skinning right elbow, outside of right knee, and of course - landing squarely on my post-op hip. I also braced with my left hand, which is skinned in a lovely scalloped pattern. My godchild told me it looked like pepperoni. I'm kind of annoyed that my hip got the brunt of the fall, but it certainly figures. I'm too clumsy to run.
Jim at 50 after 40 ALSO fell on his hurt hip this weekend, so at least I'm in good company. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Happenings around town

1. This creep got arrested. One of my friends works at the JW Marriott and has complained that his job is too high-drama; I'd agree.

He got moved out of Orleans Parish Prison for "safety reasons" (read: because it's not secure enough). OPP is known as a dangerous, crime-ridden, violent, corrupt hole of a prison, and although they are working to improve security, the feds won't even keep criminals there anymore! And anyway, Durst will be facing murder charges in CA, he's only here for gun and marijuana charges.

2. I actually got a NICE patient. This guy made the little flower arrangement himself, cleaning up the bottle and wrapping it in twine! How cute!
I know. I am the best. 

3. I held with an insurance company for 45 minutes today. The tape kept telling me, "Your predicted wait time is...30 minutes. Your predicted wait time is...24 minutes" and on and on. At 4:50, the tape said, "Your predicted wait time is...12 minutes" and suddenly another tape cut in telling me, "We are sorry, but we will not be able to take your call when the help desk is closed. The help desk closes at 5 pm. Please call back between the hours of 9 and 5." So apparently you just get cut right off when you are predicted to be still holding at 5.
I hate insurance help desks so very much.

4. My hip feels a lot better, but I'm holding off on running until I talk to my PT to see what he thinks about the pain. But I did go to the gym, and made sure to wear my St. Patrick's Day 5k shirt in honor of the holiday!
This is the shirt from the race where I acutely tore my left labrum. Good memories, eh?

5. Big Charity is a documentary currently in theaters. It tells the story of Charity Hospital post-Katrina. There is a lot of local stir about this movie: there are already high emotions regarding Charity, which, if not beloved, has a lot of city history. Many people hold that there were political reasons for its closure after the storm - not flood damage, as represented. Lots of doctors I know went in to Charity and insist it was relatively unharmed, yet it was closed anyway. I haven't watched the documentary, but I want to, even though it's politically biased and skips over most of Charity's fascinating history. I expect to see people I know in the film, and I'll see a building I know, too - Charity looms large and empty across from Tulane hospital, and I walk in its shadow to and from my car every day. If anyone has seen the film, please tell me what you think!
That's charity on the left. Taken walking out to my car. My pharmacy is directly inside the building at the end of this walkway to the garage.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekend: Bay St. Louis, haircut, ouch

We spent the weekend in Bay St. Louis visiting with our godchildren. It was a really nice, sweet visit - they were all in a good mood, no travel exhaustion induced tantrums - and we fit a lot in the day and a half before they left. We also visited mutual friends in Pass Christian, and since they owned a boat, the kids got to enjoy boat rides along the bayou. Plus, we had our first crawfish boil of the season!
I have no pictures. Sorry. Just imagine that we actually got sun for most of the weekend, a blessed break from pouring rain.

I also got sick of my hair and cut off 12 inches. It's the ubiquitous longer-in-the-front tapered bob.


I always forget that my hair is wavy when it's short. So now it's the wavy ubiquitous bob.

And what else...let's see...oh, yes! Running! I ran Sunday in BSL - up to 1.25 miles, 1 mile walk, 1.5 miles, 1 mile walk - and then I woke up with my hip hurting. Boo. So no more running until it feels ok again.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I made it! Twelve weeks post-op

It's finally here - twelve weeks post-op, which means "mostly healed". I went back and read my 12-week post with my left hip, and things are a little different this time around. Last time, I had this weird issue after surgery in which it felt like my hip was falling out of socket when I let the leg dangle (like if I was walking down stairs). I was sure it was iatrogenic subluxation, but it wasn't. It was just that my hip capsule was damaged during surgery (as part of a normal, successful procedure), but it healed too lose. It had lost tonicity because there was no muscle and bone pressure on it. Eventually, that went away - with use of the hip. So this time around, I was not as scared to use my hip, and I did a much better job of early mobilization, exercise bike, and walking once I was cleared. That, combined with the repair rather than debridement, prevented the strange sensation. In fact, while I had more early pain with this hip than with the left, the entire healing process seemed to go faster and I had less pain overall. I remember that I did have a lot of aching, stiffness, and discomfort when I first started running last time, and I kept badgering my doctor about it. But now I know what pain is worrisome, and what pain is due to scar tissue, adhesions, or just disuse.

I'll start with three days a week of running for now, and the plan was up to a mile at a time. Today Christian amended that to 2 miles at a time, because he's worried about ramping up too quickly, but I looked at the timeline we put together a few weeks ago and I think one mile is fine. I don't want to do too much, too soon. Christian had me do a mile on the treadmill today, and it was just fine, but I told him I'm not doing any treadmill over that distance - too risky for the hip joint.

Obviously, rule #1 is pay attention to pain, so that's going to be my guide going forward. But for now I can run! Hip, hip, hooray! (Ha, ha, ha. Sorry, couldn't resist).

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

TSA precheck

Worth it? Yes! At least so far.

We have a couple of short visits coming up, and while I was booking flights it reminded me to post about purchasing the TSA precheck.

We bought the TSA precheck for $85 (5 years) and used it for the first time while flying to Peru. In under 3 minutes, we made it through the entire security line and we placing our bags on the belt. Shoes and jacket stayed on; a quick trip through the metal detector (no body scan!) and we were done. The entire process took about 5 minutes, much better than our usual time on the security line.
I'm notoriously cheap, so for me to pay $85 for a convenience, it has to be good - and this is. We've only used it for our Peru flights and to and from Atlanta, but both times security took just minutes. Since I've had precious few good experiences with the TSA or security lines (due both to incompetent or rude officers or idiots in line in front of me), I consider the cost over five years to be acceptable.
Things to remember:
- The airports you mostly fly in and out of must accommodate precheck.
- So must the airline.
- You are not guaranteed precheck, even if you're relatively law-abiding; for example, we were talking to someone in a bar who was denied because of a prior DUI (not that that is a minor crime, but it's not like he works for Al Queda on the side or something).
So do your homework and then sign up!

Friday, March 6, 2015

A couple of updates

1. My road. It's March, so my road should be done, right? Not yet. Now we have no sidewalks and the road isn't paved (but the drainage part is completed) and no end is in sight: they have not yet even STARTED on the last block that is part of the project. If I were on crutches now, I would never be able to navigate this mess, so I'm counting my blessings as far as timing goes.
My sidewalk and driveway (er - my landlord's driveway, that is). The curb is in already, behind that wooden barrier.

2. My ribs. I caved and started taking NSAIDS daily for my ribs. The pain and swelling was interfering with work, sleep, and even breathing, and I kind of don't want pneumonia (a common complication of costochondritis - you can't clear fluid from your lungs, so bacteria multiply in it; you can't inhale/exhale deep into the lungs to sweep bacteria out either). Taking meloxicam has helped a lot, but I still have trouble trying to lie down or sit against a seat. I can stand or sit on a stool. I can't lay on my back, do core work, lift my arm over my head, or place pressure on my arms like for a push-up or plank. I can't twist or round my back. Coughing or sneezing actually brings tears to my eyes! But overall, there is improvement. I'm thinking two or three more weeks until it fades.
3. My PT. My therapist commented this week, "Hey, in just three more months, I'll have known you for a whole year!" Uh. Yikes. "Sounds like I should stop having surgery," I replied. Christian told me that I was actually his very first assessment! And poor dude. I showed up to that assessment bleeding all over because my wound started draining that day! I was laughing remembering that and Christian told me that he was totally freaking out when that happened. He'd had nightmares about his first assessment including something he didn't know anything about, I was bleeding all over!
Other than reminiscing about the early days, PT is going well. We're focusing on balance and strength; still not doing a lot of range of motion. I need more ROM work, but strength is a priority.
4. My running. So far, so good! I know it's hard to tell how things feel when I'm going such short distances, but Christian had me increase distances already so he can assess things before my PT runs out. So this weekend I will do all the way to the park without stopping (0.7 miles) on Saturday, and a mile on Sunday. It's an increase from our original plan, but I'm also feeling really good! By now my pain is limited to a tightness/stiffness with abduction and some pain when I lift my leg with my knee straightened. That was the last pain to go away on the left side, too. Running doesn't hurt, but I know that the test will be after I run (once my distance increases some).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Things I am sick of saying at work.

1. "Did you check your porch?" I get about three calls a week from a patient who says (panicked) that their medication never arrived via FedEx. Nine times out of ten - or greater - the package is on the porch where FedEx left it days ago, and our little patient never opened their front door. Do these people all hibernate? And since you knew it was arriving, did you not think to check the porch? You know, the same place they left it the last 18 times you had it shipped?
2. My NPI number. Here's a typical insurance phone call: Automated phone tree asks for NPI. First person to (finally) answer the phone asks for my NPI. They transfer me to second person, who immediately asks for NPI. And then - here is what kills me - they ask for it again, because they missed it. If you ASK me for a number, you had better be ready to type it in. Quit making me repeat myself! I still wonder what the point of keying the number in is, since it never does anything to speed your service.
3. "It's too early to fill." Short answer, addicts: I do not fill narcotics early, end of discussion.
4. "It's too early to fill." I JUST SAID, END OF DISCUSSION! QUIT HOUNDING ME! NO!
5. "Use the keypad." Patients verify their identity by typing in the last four digits of their phone number when checking out prescriptions, much like you would type a PIN in. Easily half my patients attempt to write their number in using the little pen rather than type it using the keys. 
6. "I'm sorry, that's not available right now." A good 30 or 40 common drugs are backordered right now because drug (and active ingredient production) companies wised up to the concept of supply and demand. Drugs I need aren't readily available; prices for old, cheap generics have skyrocketed. Doxycycline that used to cost $12 for a bottle of 1000 is now over a thousand dollars.
7. "Yes, you were given a Tulane DEA number when you became a resident here." All my newbie interns vehemently insist that they don't have a DEA number. Two things: 1. Yes, you do. You all do. 2. If you don't, what makes you think you get to write controlled substance prescriptions? If you want to argue that you don't have a DEA number, have fun writing for ibuprofen.
8. "Sure, I'll hold." With the insurance. With doctors who decided to do something else while calling me. With patients who call and forget why they called. With family members of patients who called and don't know what medications the patient needs. With FedEx. With Medicare. With wholesalers. With my own company.
9. "It will say, 'Now ready' when your prescription is ready." I say this every time someone drops off an rx. The helpful TV screen outside the pharmacy pops their first name up as soon as they drop off. First it says "In progress", and then it switches to "Now ready" when it's done. Every single patient, no matter how many times they've been there, rushes in after 2.4 seconds to shout excitedly, "I saw my name up there!" And then I will say 'now ready'... ad nauseum.
10. "I'm sorry, it has to be a legal state or federal ID." I cannot accept your photocopy of your phone bill as ID. I can't accept your bus pass. Your gambling punch card is impressive, but it's not ID. It's the law in this state, and I am not going to make an exception for you, your Percocet, and your student ID from Delgado 1998. WHY THE HECK DO YOU NOT HAVE AN ID ANYWAY?!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Good-luck iPod

What a beauty.
Years ago, David and I replaced the screen on his iPod 3rd generation Nano. Since then, I replaced it with an iPod shuffle that I bought on Ebay for $20. I don't use an iPod often - really, only for races and the occasional long run - and I wanted the smaller clip-on shuffle. I decided I should go ahead and sell the Nano on Ebay - although who would want an ancient Nano that has a messy, wavy case held together with hot glue?! So I sold it for parts.

Well, it turns out that superstitious runners are the target market for half-broken, obsolete tech gadgets. In my description on Ebay I mentioned that, although I was selling it for parts, the nano did work - in fact, I'd run PR races with it, so it must be good luck.
I got two messages asking for details of PR races, and the Nano sold after multiple bids.
Runners. Crazy people.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekend: Boots, painting, anxious waiters, and break-ins.

This weekend I was excited to wear my new boots, end-of-season clearance from Easy Spirit. Except - the calves were way too wide (which is annoying. I ordered wide FOOT, but specifically did not order wide CALF, and the calves were a good inch larger than advertised). No problem, though. I spent Saturday morning altering them. You can see the difference in the 2nd and 3rd pictures - a huge improvement!

I got in my lovely walk/run on Saturday. It was freezing and windy, but at least the sun finally appeared! I saw two of my running friends in the park and caught up with them on their training: one is running Boston, the other the LA marathon, and they did 18 miles this morning. I saw their wind-chapped, salty faces and thought, I actually miss that.
Too sunny for selfies.
That afternoon, I returned to the park to finish my painting. One small problem...a bouncy house was in front of the portion I had left to pain. Oh well, I fudged it. It's art, not a photograph. Someone walked by and offered me $40 for it...I should have taken it.
I'm totally making the bottom part up.
Saturday night we tried Milkfish, a Filipino restaurant in Mid-city. Our waiter started off on the wrong foot, telling us he couldn't accept our coupon, and then informing us that he was out of over half the menu (and literally all the appetizers). But then he felt guilty, and started apologizing, and offered us a 10% discount since he wouldn't take the coupon (still not sure why). We were like, sure, that's great. Yet he still was disproportionately plagued with guilt and sent us both a glass of wine! The problem is - we both gave up alcohol for lent! But we decided to drink it - this guy was so upset that he had potentially alienated two new customers. The thing is, we really didn't care - I'm not an expert on Filipino food, so it's not like I had my heart set on something that was out! I really don't know why he was so worried. And the food, as it turned out, was delicious. My dinner included garlic fried rice that was especially good.

Sunday morning we were awakened at 5 am by someone TRYING TO GET IN OUR HOUSE. Yeah...he tried our front door, and our landlords', then let himself through the gate into our backyard. At this point, I was just waking up, but David had stormed downstairs already. He flung the door open and yelled (in his deep voice), "Hey, what are you doing in my yard?!" The guy was like, "Um, leaving!" and David said, "Yeah? Well do it!" Nice, David. March right out and confront someone, totally unarmed and in your pjs. Please call the police first next time...