Goodbye CR-V

A few weeks ago I was just about finished with all of the spring cleaning I planned to do in my apartment. It felt like quite an accomplishment, going through just about everything I own to figure out what stuff to keep and what to give away. I had cleaned out and reorganized every cabinet and closet, and also made a couple of large donations to Goodwill. My apartment looked great, but there was one last item on my spring cleaning list. My car. For several months I’ve been driving around with several items in the trunk, waiting to find time deal with them. As my final act of spring cleaning my goal was to completely clean out my car – specifically, get off my butt and do whatever it is I need to do with all of the things I’ve been toting around town for so long. Unfortunately fate intervened before I could even get started. I told you I had a weird and somewhat disappointing Saturday, right? Well, here’s why. I drove my CR-V for the last time yesterday. I woke up early with the intention of going to Disneyland. Due to a variety of reasons I haven’t been there in a while, and I wanted to take advantage of the cool morning air before the heat of summer sets in. I jumped in my ailing car at 7 AM and set off. However, I only made it a couple of blocks before I realized something was seriously wrong. Third gear was completely gone. Rather than shifting gears around 30 mph when it was supposed to, the RPMs went way up and the “check engine” light came on. This had happened once on Friday afternoon on my way home from work, but I thought it was an isolated incident. I was wrong. My poor little CR-V is completely done this time. I’m thankful it didn’t wait to fall apart on my way back from Disneyland and leave me stranded somewhere, but it kind of forced me to rethink my weekend plans. So instead of going to the Happiest Place on Earth, I stayed home and did some serious car research. The first thing I did was start the process of donating my car. Since it’s worth almost nothing with the busted transmission, I figured the tax write off for donating it would be more beneficial than the few dollars I’d get trading it in to a dealer. I should be getting a call tomorrow to schedule a time for my CR-V to be towed away. I’ll be sorry to see it go, but at least then I’ll be able to focus on finding my new method of transportation for the next decade. After making the call about the donation I cleaned all of my personal items out of my car. Besides all of the registration and insurance paperwork in the glove box, this also included a box with my wedding dress inside that I’ve been meaning to donate to charity for a while, a lamp I should return to Pottery Barn, my old quilt that I need to take to the cleaners, more reusable grocery bags than I care to admit, and my extensive CD collection. What a mess! Hopefully this will be the catalyst I need to finally take care of all this extraneous stuff. When my CR-V was finally cleaned out, I rented a car for a week to facilitate vehicle shopping. I’m not exactly sure when that’s going to happen, but hopefully sometime this week. Like I said a couple of weeks ago when I first wrote about my car troubles, big changes are coming!

Car troubles on my day off

After working Saturday through Wednesday I was looking forward to having Thursday off. I was going to sleep in, run errands, and get a lot done around my apartment. It was going to be great. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. When my car started making some weird scratching noises on Monday I decided I really should take it in for service on my day off. Not the most glamorous use of my free time, but necessary. Actually, much more necessary than I imagined. Turns out the transmission is shot in my not quite 10 year old SUV. When the service rep sat down next to me in the lounge and said the word “transmission,” I knew it was going to be bad. And very expensive. But I left the dealer only paying for an oil change. There was no way I was going to commit to dumping five thousand dollars into an aging car that’s not worth much more than that in its current condition. To make sure the dealer wasn’t taking me for a ride I took my car to Aamco for a second opinion that afternoon. They agreed that the transmission was the problem, but they wanted to rebuild it rather than a complete replacement. The estimate for something like that was around three thousand dollars, minimum. That wasn’t enough of a savings for me to consider the repairs, though. I left Aamco paying nothing, despite the guy at the front desk trying to convince me otherwise. I know what the car is worth, and I’m just not willing to spend that much money on it. Better to save it for my next vehicle. So as much as I hate to admit it, I suppose I’ll be looking to buy a car in the near future. I was really hoping that my car would make it to it’s tenth birthday (September 15th), but it looks like that’s not going to happen. It’s so frustrating. The transmission in a Honda shouldn’t be falling apart this soon! I can’t complain too much since I haven’t had any major problems with my CR-V in nine and a half years, but I still wanted to keep it for a little longer. I guess I’m just not mentally prepared to buy a new car yet, but mechanical problems have forced my hand. So sometime next week I’ll start searching for a new set of wheels that I’ll hopefully be driving the next decade. Big changes are coming!

Injury (part 3)

I have a lot of co-workers who are runners so we discuss training, races, and injuries quite often. After complaining about my knee problems to one of them, she gave me the name of the sports chiropractor that she and several others have gotten positive results from. And since I’d like exhaust all solutions that don’t involve drugs or surgery before taking more drastic actions, I called and made an appointment. I’d never been to a chiropractor before so I had no expectations when I first walked into the office last Monday. All I knew about the profession was a bunch of stereotypes involving back cracking that I’d seen on television. Since I was going to see this guy about my knee I was fairly certain my appointment wouldn’t be anything like that. The big surprise was how much it hurt! The treatment was more like deep tissue massage than anything else. Like deep enough to cause bruising. Yikes! It was very unpleasant, but I was hopeful that it would be beneficial in the long run. Unfortunately there was no immediate payoff since my knee didn’t hurt unless I was running. That was a little frustrating. I went back to the chiropractor on Thursday for a follow up, which was a much shorter appointment, but still painful. He told me to come back a couple of times this week as well. I still wasn’t feeling significant progress, but I figured there was no way these sessions could be harmful.

Then there’s the Surf City Half marathon in Huntington Beach yesterday. What a mess. I hadn’t attempted to run at all since the Star Wars 10K over a week earlier so I wasn’t sure how my knee was going to feel. I was nervous that even after two weeks of rest it wasn’t going to have improved at and that every step of the 13.1 miles was going to be miserable. Turns out I had good reason to be worried. When the race started I got a false sense of security because my knee felt pretty good for the first two miles or so. After that everything started to fall apart. I was able to alternate between running and walking for a while, stopping every half mile or so to stretch my legs. I thought I might be able to keep that up for the rest of the race. I was wrong. At mile 8.5 or so I lost it all together. I walked the majority of the rest of the course because I was in so much pain. It was indeed miserable. I felt like such a fraud collecting my medal after crossing the finish line because it took me significantly over 3 hours to complete that half marathon. Pathetic! But let me explain why running this race today was so important to me. The Surf City Half Marathon is the first step of the Beach Cities Challenge, which also includes the OC Half Marathon in May and the Long Beach Half Marathon in October (both of which I’m already registered for). There was absolutely no way that I was going to screw up my chances at completing the challenge in 2015 by missing the first of the three races! I would have regretted that more than any injury caused by participating. Hopefully my obstinacy won’t have lingering ramifications. Only time will tell.

So I’m wrapping up this little tale today, but the issue has by no means been resolved. I have two more appointments with the chiropractor this week so we’ll see if that helps at all. At this point I’m considering seeing an orthopedist. As much as I don’t want to admit it, my knee might need more serious attention.

Injury (part 2)

After hurting my knee during the Disney World half marathon on January 10th I was a little worried about the next couple of races I was signed up for. They weren’t too far in the future. I was flying back to LA on Monday and the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend was happening at Disneyland the following weekend. Yikes! Back in June when I registered for the Star Wars races I decided not to try to run the half marathon since it was only a week after the Disney World half marathon. As much as I really wanted to do it (and complete my Coast to Coast Challenge in record time), I figured it was just too ambitious for me at this point in my running career. And it’s a good thing I set those low expectations since my knee problems would have made a subsequent half marathon excruciating. As a consolation for skipping the half marathon, I registered for both the Star Wars 5K and 10K to still enjoy the weekend, just with less running. After my injury I was definitely concerned that I wouldn’t be healthy enough for the Star Wars races less than a week away, but I actually felt pretty good after resting and icing my knee for a few days. So on Friday morning when I crossed the start line of the Star Wars 5K I thought everything would be fine. It was just 3.1 miles, right? Too bad my knee was hurting so much after the first mile that I had to walk the rest of the race. I was so disappointed. To avoid further injury I ended up walking almost all of the 10K the next morning too. It was probably a mistake to even do that, but there was no way in hell I was going to miss getting the inaugural Star Wars 10K medal! Maybe that makes me materialistic, but I paid quite a bit of money for that race and it was going to take a lot more than a sore knee to keep me from participating. So despite the difficulties, I crossed both the 5K and 10K finish lines, but I felt awful. About a week later I decided I needed to do something about it.

To be concluded…

Injury (part 1)

This is hard for me to say, but I’m injured. It took me a long time to admit that to myself, but I am no longer in denial and now I’m facing the problem head on. It all started back in Orlando. On my birthday I ran the Disney World 10K and felt absolutely fantastic. It was one of those races that runners dream about. It was effortless. I kept waiting to feel like I was exerting myself at all! I believe that’s what they call a runner’s high. I’ve experienced it so few times myself that I’m unfamiliar with the sensation, though. I never thought it would actually happen to me during a race. In addition to the spectacle of running through Disney World (EPCOT Center, specifically), the runner’s high made the 10K completely magical. I couldn’t have asked for more on my birthday.

Fast forward 24 hours. I was standing in my corral before the Disney World half marathon and I knew something was wrong. My knee was hurting and I hadn’t even started running yet. I’d been having some pain on the outside of my left knee intermittently since October, but I hadn’t thought much about it. I always felt better after a little rest and reducing my mileage. No big deal. But something changed on January 10th. Due to the cold weather and lack of shelter prior to the half marathon, my parents and I spent about two hours in a tiny tent at the start line standing shoulder-to-shoulder with as many other people as could cram themselves in there. Everyone was just trying to stay warm! Unfortunately I think that was the tipping point for my knee problems. I knew I was in big trouble when it hurt before the race even started. After feeling amazing during the 10K the day before, I felt pretty awful during the half marathon. There were a few moments where I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the race, but I kept running and still crossed the finish line in a respectable time (for me, at least). I spent the rest of my time in Orlando icing my knee several times a day (many thanks to my mom who thought to bring an ice bag with her!) and taking a lot of ibuprofen. I figured I’d rest for a few days and everything would be fine. Wrong.

To be continued…

Something stupid

I’m sitting on my couch in pain for a completely ridiculous reason. Over the weekend the smoke detector in the hallway right outside my bathroom went off while I was in the shower. This has happened a couple of times in the past and I think it’s due to the steam. It’s very annoying. I had to jump out of the shower (dripping water all over the floor), drag a bench from my bedroom into the hallway (after moving a bunch of books and clothes off it), wrestle the smoke detector off the wall, and remove the battery. Geez. After I finished my shower I probably should have put the smoke detector back on the wall, but I left it dismantled and forgot about it. Then on Tuesday as I was enjoying a nice hot shower after my evening run, the smoke detector in my guest bedroom started going off. I was so frustrated! Having to run around soaking wet to shut off an ear piercing alarm will definitely ruin your day. Not only that, it can be hazardous to your health, as I’ve discovered. You see, I had to drag the heavy bench from my room into the guest bedroom, which is up a couple of small stairs. As I lifted the bench to get it up the stairs I thought, “This is going to be bad.” I didn’t know how right I was until this morning. The right side of my back hurt with every movement and with every breath I took. It was miserable. I took some ibuprofen and applied my heating pad for a while, but I only got marginal relief. Unfortunately I couldn’t take the day off because I had too much to do at work, so I eventually lurched around enough to get dressed and ready to leave the house. Let me tell you, computer work is not the best thing for a sore back. I grunted and groaned my way through the day until I could go back home and relax my aching muscles. Needless to say, my evening run will have to wait until tomorrow, at least. I’ll heal in a day or two, but the bigger problem is that I have two disabled smoke alarms that will go off in the vicinity of a hot shower. I need to find a solution for that. But for now I’m going to spend some quality time with my heating pad before I go to bed. Ouch!

Abuse

There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about men hitting women. This is obviously domestic violence. It is obviously abuse. But not all abuse is as easy to identify. Fists leave physical damage, but words and other actions leave psychological damage that takes much longer to heal. Maybe you’re married to a guy who freely admits he’s arrogant and self-centered. A narcissist. Maybe you’re convinced he thinks men are superior to women even though he’s never used those exact words. Maybe he told you he “just doesn’t like women” once and it’s haunted you ever since. Even since then you’ve wondered, “What does that say about me? Does that mean he doesn’t like me? Does that mean he doesn’t respect me?” You think, “I can’t possibly be the only exception to his statement.” You never asked flat out, but that conversation made you realize that he would never see you as his equal. And somehow, at the time, you accepted it. Maybe you’re married to a guy who finds little ways to make you feel like you’re not worthy of his love or respect. You don’t think he’s doing it deliberately or consciously, but that doesn’t make it any easier to brush off. Even if you can dismiss 99% of his subtle insults, that last 1% slowly builds up, day after day, until you’re completely crushed under the weight of the chides, tsks, and sighs. Until one day you wake up and discover that you believe him. You’re not worthy of his love. You’re not worthy of having a partner who doesn’t expect you to walk one step behind him. When it all boils down to it, you realize that you’re scared on him. Not because he hits you or verbally assaults you, but because he looks down on you. You’re his inferior. And you know that whatever you do, inevitably to try and please him, will more than likely fail. On some level, at least. For one detail or another he’ll look at you like you’re an idiot and you’ll curse yourself for screwing up yet again. You’ll berate yourself for not living up to his standards, even though the rational part of your brain knows that’s impossible. And after each incident you’ll be even more scared of messing up the next time. You’re afraid of his disappointment, his explanation of what you did wrong, and his lack of appreciation for all of your efforts. This is emotional abuse. Plain and simple. It’s not as obvious as physical violence or outright insults, but it’s just as damaging.

Illness update

I intended to post this illness update yesterday, but I was feeling a bit better in the evening so I went to the laundromat rather than laze about on the couch any more. (The dark chocolate brownie recipe was already written and ready to publish so I posted that instead.) My parents are arriving for a visit on Wednesday and I needed to wash bed linens so they’ll have a clean place to sleep. After feeling really horrible when I woke up in the morning, I was actually pretty surprised that I had the energy to leave the house last night. Even though I had only slept a few hours the night before (my sinuses hurt like crazy unless I was propped up on three pillows), I had to go to work yesterday morning and wrap up a test. I felt absolutely awful – sneezing all over the place and going through a whole box of Kleenex with my runny nose – but there was no way I could stay home. The only good news is that I finished up at 11 AM so I went home early and went back to bed. A short nap and some relaxation seemed to work wonders. I still didn’t try to go running last night, though. At this point I’ve only missed one 3-mile training run due to this stupid cold, but I still don’t like it. I don’t feel all that prepared for the half marathon as it is, so missing any planned preparation scares me. But I wasn’t willing to risk hindering my recovery by trying to run last night. I absolutely must be healthy by next Sunday or the race is going to be miserable! I was really hoping to sleep better last night, but sinus pain still woke me up around midnight. I’m definitely feeling better today (I can breathe out of both nostrils, which is a plus), but not that much. I went to Disneyland this morning and walked around for a couple of hours, which was pretty much my first physical activity since my run on Tuesday night. It didn’t help that it was pretty warm in Anaheim, but I was discouraged by my lack of energy. Hopefully that changes soon. I don’t have time to be sick – this week is going to be way too busy!

P.S. Doctor Who season 8 starts tonight!
P.P.S. Gator football starts next Saturday!

Another setback

I spent my weekend in flip flops because those are the only shoes I could wear comfortably at the time. This is due to some new running shoes I tried last Sunday that destroyed my feet and made putting on just about any shoes painful. That meant no running or even much walking for a while. It was incredibly frustrating. So how did this happen? I’ll tell you.

I took a personal day off from work the week before last because I had a few things I wanted to get done – specifically, get some new running shoes. My ankles hurt a bit after the Seal Beach 10K two weeks ago and the pain only got worse during my two runs following the race. I was convinced I needed new shoes because nothing I’ve tried so far has worked for me. Out of desperation I went to two different stores to get some options. The first place I went was the New Balance store at South Coast Plaza. Not that I’ve loved what I’ve purchased there so far, but being able to get running shoes in narrow widths is what keeps me going back. Wishful thinking, perhaps, but let’s move on. After explaining my problems the salesperson brought me a pair of their new Fresh Foam 980s. I wasn’t expecting much, but they felt really good when I tried them on and walked around a bit. And since they weren’t too expensive I bought them to at least try. I’ve already spent so much money looking for the right running shoes – what’s a little more? Maybe if I kiss enough frogs I’ll find my prince one day. And by “prince” I mean some shoes that don’t kill my feet when I run! But I digress. When I left the mall I went to Snail’s Pace, a running store in Fountain Valley, because I thought they would have many more options to alleviate my ankle pain. On my first visit there I got the Nike Zoom Structures that I absolutely hated so I was hoping for a different outcome this time. I explained my situation to yet another salesperson and he assured me that I need stability shoes to correct overpronation (despite my reservations). I tried on three different pairs and ultimately chose the Adidas Adistar Boost shoes.

To make a long story short, I ran six miles in them and they destroyed my feet (as I alluded to in the first paragraph). I didn’t even realize the extent of the damage until I put on the shoes again three days later. There’s a piece of plastic on the exterior of the heel for structure and stability that must have dug into my heel bone and bruised the hell out of it. It was so painful that I almost started crying when I tried running in them again. Those suckers are going back to Snail’s Pace this week for sure. As of this evening I think my feet are finally feeling good enough to try running again (in some different shoes, obviously), which is good news because I’m supposed to start my half marathon training plan soon. I will try the New Balance Fresh Foam shoes tomorrow and see how they work for me. One thing’s for sure, they can’t be worse than the Adidas!

Post-op post

Yesterday was the first day of 2014 that I didn’t update my webpage, but I think I had a good excuse. My surgery was yesterday, and even though it went very smoothly and I didn’t feel too awful afterwards, I was really tired last night. I’m still feeling wiped out tonight, but I wanted to write a little something anyway. My mom, dad, and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM yesterday for my 7 AM surgery. I didn’t get to talk to my doctor after the operation, but she discussed it with my parents when it was over. She removed two ovarian cysts and discovered that I have endometriosis. That surprised me a little because I thought it was ruled out when I was eighteen. My doctor said it was a mild case, but it was there. Lucky me! After the procedure and about an hour in recovery, my parents drove me home to get some rest. The anesthesia made me feel pretty gross, but we got some lunch from a local restaurant before I took a nap in the afternoon. For dinner we went to Ruby’s because my throat was hurting and I wanted a milkshake. I went everywhere yesterday in some old yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and flip-flops. There was no way I would have been able to wear jeans over the three incisions I have in my abdomen now. Ouch. I even hurt myself turning over in the middle of the night. The pain didn’t last too long, but it still kept me awake for an hour before I could go back to sleep. When I got up this morning I realized that my sore throat was the beginning of a head cold and not just a side effect of the surgery. Of course I would get sick when I’m already taking time off from work for medical purposes. When it rains it pours, huh? Besides the cold I was feeling pretty good today. My incisions are tender to the touch, but I’m otherwise not in very much pain. My parents helped me with some errands today after I finally got up and showered (I was glad to wash off the orange Betadine that was still all over my belly). First we went to the Social Security office to start the process of changing my name back. That was a success and I should get my new Social Security card with my maiden name on it in about two weeks. After that I can go to the DMV and start updating credit card accounts, utilities, etc. I’ll be glad when that’s all over, but it was great to at least take the first step today. Our next stop was Ikea to get a little shelf for my bedroom. The three of us also had lunch of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and ligonberry sauce at the Ikea cafĂ©. Delicious. Unfortunately I was wiped out after those two errands so we went back to my apartment so I could take a nap. The rest of today was very low key because I had overextended myself earlier. Now it’s time for me to sleep again and hopefully heal some more. I’ll be glad when it doesn’t hurt my stomach to sit down and stand up again!