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Planes, Trains and Automobiles – re-imagined

Again with the timing of appropriateness.

Twelve years ago yesterday, after about a month and a half of tinkering with the idea, Big Ring and I made our togetherness official. For 12 years, he has been my number one cheerleader, my number one support, my number one bestest friend of all. The things he has done for me, the love he has given me, the specialness of him, I cannot imagine life without his hand in mine.

And the story I share today is a perfect example of his greatness.

Let’s go back about five or six months. Back to those strained months before I got into dietetics.

I told Big Ring if I got in he would have to throw me a party, a big party, a huge party. This was going to be a party for me, but also very much for everyone that helped me. And there were a lot: those who helped edit my resume and cover letter;  who helped with the interview preparation; who took Little Ring so I could study; who helped me study; who repeatedly gave me confidence boosts; listened to me rant; acted as shoulders to cry on; even that one person who provided a word that my brain refused to grasp on its own.

Yes, I did lose a few friendships along this journey, as was mentioned in the last post, but there were so many others who became strong pillars for me. So many who I appreciate and love for all they have done. And I wanted to thank them in a huge way.

But the thing is, Big Ring, he’s not so much about the party scene, and planning a party, oh man, that’s like nightmare causing for the man. He offered an alternative:

“What if we went on a trip?” he suggested.

Dear friends and family, travel always wins!

Big Ring told me he was taking me away on a little adventure. He didn’t tell me where, he didn’t tell me what, he just told me the dates, and promised me oodles of fun. Trust me, he said.

Last month, his plan was executed.

I’m not the greatest at handling surprises. I’m not the greatest at letting go of control. It was a mystery right up to departure day, and it was a mystery every moment of every day of the tour. It drove me absolutely bonkers… and gave Big Ring great amounts of glee.

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Day 1 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We stayed at the Opus Hotel, where we stayed 12 years prior, and went to the Queen concert as well as dinner at Chambar, a restaurant I hadn’t been to in years, but recall the last time drooling over the lamb. This time I got halibut, which wasn’t as tasty as the lamb of my memories, but the atmosphere and company were perfect.

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Day 2 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We had breakfast at Musette, a cycling café in the heart of the city and watched stage 3 of the Tour de France. Again, with the atmosphere. The café had recently reopened after an extended closure. The tables were made using wood from the track of an old velodrome that was demolished in Antwerp. There were booths patterned after the shower stalls of the velodrome in Paris where the Paris Roubaix, a spring classic, finishes. The table flags were bib numbers from the Tour and the Giro d’Italia.

So much character.

And sitting there, eating my oatmeal (oh man, that oatmeal was good!!!) with morning cyclists all around me so enthused about the outcome of the stage, excitement all around, it was just a really perfect way to start the day.

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From there we walked along the Seawall for about an hour before picking up our suitcases and heading to the waterfront where we caught a HELICOPTER (!!!) and flew to Victoria.

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I’ve been on a blimp, I’ve been on a float plane, I’ve been on a stunt plane, but never a helicopter. It was awesome. It was a perfect day, and because it was a holiday, and he wasn’t having to worry about work schedules, the captain took us along the longer, scenic route.

So freaking beautiful.

The ride was only about 45 minutes. There was a guy next to me who I am sure had flown helicopters multiple times because he nodded off instantly. But me, I couldn’t stop looking out the window. I couldn’t wipe the amazed smile off my face.

A helicopter!!!

Day 3 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We rented cruiser bikes from the hotel that we were staying at (The Oswego: super cute) and rode along the Galloping Goose trail. I was channeling my inner Euro as I rode in a skirt with a baguette in the basket. I totally loved it!

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And Big Ring pretended he was racing against Ryder Hesjedal 😀

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Those bikes were crazy heavy so I was pretty impressed with the 25 km ride we did. And I only had one skirt flying up incident… of course, it was right in downtown Victoria, a nicely congested area of people all around! Oops! There was also an incident of the baguette flying out of the basket subsequently getting run over by the bike. And yet, when we pulled it out of the paper bag for a picnic lunch a short while later, it did not look any worse for wear!

My favourite part of Victoria was Munro Books; I got completely lost in that bookstore. It was inside a beautiful heritage building, and the books were displayed so perfectly, with old wooden chairs situated throughout giving you an opportunity to flip through the pages. I didn’t feel rushed. I didn’t feel obligated to buy (although I did on my second return to the shop.) It wasn’t just the books capturing my eye, but the scenery and friendly atmosphere too. Everything about this place said “stay”.

Big Ring and I were also really drawn to Fan Tan Alley, a super narrow alley, just three to six feet wide and 240 feet long, that’s located in Chinatown. Going in, I didn’t know the history. The initial draw was an artisan ice cream shop we’d read about that turned out to be as good as its review. But the history of the building, the hidden nooks and crannies, the cute little shops, and the fact the alleyway was smaller than the width of my outstretched arms all had me wanting to learn more.

Fan Tan Alley was a hotspot for gambling clubs and opium factories in the early 1900s!

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Day 4 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We travelled from Victoria to Seattle by ferry.

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I was soon discovering this trip was as much about the locations as it was about the modes of transportation. First we had the helicopter, then the ferry, what would be next?

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Day 5 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: We went to a baseball game. It was long. Really long. At one point I said to Big Ring: Baseball is like the Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going and going and …

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It is funny, though, the last time the two of us were at a Mariners game was 13 years ago when we were both working for the local news media, and hadn’t even yet developed a proper friendship, and were sent on assignment to cover local boy Justin Morneau’s intro to the big leagues. Needless to say, this time was MUCH different. Big Ring was not on the field shooting, and I was not in the men’s locker room blushing, or the press box dodging fly balls that landed in one journalist’s soda cup!

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Day 6 of the Katie Got Into Dietetics Mystery Tour: Homeward bound – on a train!

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Seriously, this trip was like planes, trains and automobiles – re-imagined!

And that, my dear readers, is the way this man loves me ❤

 

The journey begins

It seems appropriate I write this post today. It’s a post long overdue. Some of you already know, some have forgotten, some don’t know at all.

On this day three years ago, I pulled my editor out of his holidays, I told him it was urgent he meet me. My stomach was full of nervous bubbles, it was a day I had been counting down for 10 months prior. It was a day I never believed I would ever have a count down for.

Time did not make it easy.

Three years ago I told my editor I was leaving the world of journalism, the world of my childhood dreams.

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Journalist me: so many adventures!

Today, I am four weeks from starting on a path I have been building up to for the last six years. On May 17 I was officially accepted into the dietetics program at the University of British Columbia.

Eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

The year leading up to this day there was a lot of nervous tension. This is a highly competitive program: over 100 hundred applicants; 50 of who get interviews; and 30-34 accepted. I spent years working towards acceptance. I interviewed several dietitians, I volunteered in areas I knew would boost my profile, I spent months looking over my application, working on my interviewing skills, anticipating the questions that may be asked. I spent countless evenings studying, perfecting my knowledge, ensuring my grades were above par. (It didn’t always work to my favour: math and chemistry were like bones constantly jabbing my confidence.) I lost friends in the process.

All for the goal.

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Studying me: pretty much anything in the loft was fair game for my studies: whiteboards, walls, spare paper, even my arms!

People kept telling me I was in. They’d be stupid not to take me, they said. My history, my vision of working with Type-1, athletic diabetics, it was solid. But I’d met other candidates and they, too, had solid stories. Deep down, I believed in myself. But on the surface, the what ifs had clouded that belief.

I remember walking out of the interview, which by the way was crazy intense, with a smile on my face. Big Ring was waiting outside and as soon as he saw my face, he knew I had nailed it. And I thought so too. But the thing is, five minutes into the car ride home, that evil little devil on my shoulder started steering my memory into a negative direction. I started thinking about things I didn’t say, or the fact that I was so sure they would ask right off the hop why I wanted to be a dietitian, and that’s how I started to answer, only to realize 30 seconds into answering that oh freaking hell, that’s not what they asked at all.

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The application was in. The interview complete. The only thing left to do was reflect.

 

It took about a week and a half for the worrying pit in my stomach to release.

Thanks to a great friend.

We had been chatting about the interview, and I told him the odds just as I did for all of you above. He broke it down into the most simple terms:

“So, do you really think, honestly, that you could be one of the 16 NOT selected?” he asked.

Hmm. No, no I didn’t.

A huge smile washed over me. Another week and a half and I had my acceptance.

Dear readers, I AM going to be a dietitian!!!!!

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And surely that warrants an ice cream celebration!

 

No Surgery for Labral Tear

I was sure surgery was the only option.

Last week I received word that my MRI came back positive for a small labral tear in the right hip. I suspected this would be the diagnosis, and frankly I was happy to finally have a diagnosis after a year of suffering the chronic pain. Back when I was still going to physio, he was treating me as though I had a labral tear. After a couple months of weekly appointments, sometimes bi-weekly, there was minimal improvement. That’s when we decided it was time for x-rays and an arthrogram MRI.

Time has not healed. Physio has not healed. Like I said, I thought for sure surgery was my only option to heal.

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Friends gave me teary eyed emojis at the mention of surgery, family tried convincing me otherwise. But the thing is, I don’t want to spend my life in pain. I don’t want to be the mom who could only play a few minutes with her boy before succumbing to the aches. I don’t want thoughts of a rapidly aging body to cloud nearly every movement I make. And frankly, I bloody well want my once extremely flexible body to get that gum-like stretch back.

Surgery was not scary for me. A life of a pain was.

Still, I thought I would have months to mull it over. Surgeons usually have crazy long waitlists; the doc told me to expect at least a four-month wait before even talking to the surgeon. But then, just one day after meeting with the doc, the surgeon’s office called. Apparently one of the benefits of going through the university hospital is students get preference. Five days after learning the diagnosis, two days after seeing the doc, I was in the surgeon’s office.

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“I would HEAVILY caution against surgery,” the surgeon said, almost right off the hip, er, I mean hop 😂

Hip arthroscopic surgery is a straight-forward procedure for the surgeon, he told me. It’s day surgery, just 1.5 hours, no biggie – for him. For the patient it sucks, he said.

Because the hip is tricky, he would have to dislocate the joint to get in and have a look around. I got queasy just hearing it. Patient recovery is extensive. Inflammation is severe. I would be on crutches for a month, no running, no weight-bearing activities, no carrying my kid for at least three months. Full recovery would be a minimum six months.

I suspected almost all of that and had come to terms with most of it – if it took the ache away.

There’s a high probability it won’t, he told me.

There’s a very real chance it could make things worse, he told me.

You may be even more limited than you are now, he told me.

Possibly no running at all.

Whaaaaaat?

So here’s the thing no one told me: labral tears are common. Sixty to seventy per cent of the North American population in their 40s (not quite there!) suffer labral tears, sometimes without even knowing.

My labral tear is small. The MRI, which scanned eight sections of my right hip, detected “focal detachment of the anterior-superior labrum” in images seven and eight, which indicate a tear. The rest of the labrum appeared intact. What this means is I can’t squat for long periods, I can’t sit criss-cross apple sauce, or plain just sit for extended periods without my body painfully revolting. Yet, it does NOT prevent me from running. Running causes it no pain, not during, not after.

Surgery could take that away.

That’s not cool.

The surgeon spent a good 20 to 30 minutes going through the surgery process, recovery rates, alternatives. He told me he would do the surgery, but every two seconds (or so it seemed) cautioned against it.

I listened.

Instead of surgery, I have opted for the less invasive procedure of getting a cortisone shot injected into the joint to see if that helps take the annoying ache away. It’s not a perfect solution. Apparently I am limited to a total of three cortisone shots in one joint in my lifetime. Cortisone can eat away at cartilage, which also really kinda sucks. We’ll wait and see what happens.

In the meantime…

I run!!!

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Forever in my diabetes-thriving heart

Tears.

When I got the email two weeks ago, my heart broke into pieces.

We had been together for 21 years. I had chosen this man, picked him specifically from a lot of others. He was perfect in every way that my 18-year-old self desired. He had an American accent. He had a welcoming smile, a fit body – oh, those legs – a firm, warming handshake, and a delectably nerdy side too.

He had me at bow-tie.

We had grown comfortable over the years, familiar. There was a warmth between us. The awkwardness of new was long gone. Our conversations were easy, filled with laughter, and respect, dare I even say knowing twinkles in our eyes. I yearned to impress him. When not in his presence, I counted down the minutes until I next was. I always dressed the part, making sure my face, hair, clothes were as close to perfection as I could muster.

But now, all that is gone.

Dr. Hottie is moving on.

Yesterday was my last ever appointment with my crush-worthy endocrinologist. It was the last time I would ever feel his strong hands softly caressing, er, I mean, inspecting my neck for thyroid growth, the last time I would feel his warmth so close as he checked my racing heart, the last time I would have his eyes boring into mine, so invested in my words. It was the last time I would see that welcoming, inviting smile of his, so hypnotic you forget you’re talking to a doctor and share everything – everything. It was the last time I would giggle over his choice of bow-tie: a classy navy blue with blood red polka dots. It was the last time I would ever have his silky warm hands wrapped around mine; you better believe I lingered.

Yesterday was the last time I would ever hear Dr. Hottie boast again of my diabetes rockstardom.

The realization of that is where I crumble.

I have not always been a diabetes rockstar. There were several years in my teens and early adulthood where I repeatedly rebelled against this disease. I started seeing Dr. Hottie at 18; the first seven years were not my best years. He saw me at my worst, and yet, he never judged, just encouraged. He was the first specialist to see ME, not my diabetes. If I wanted to go out and drink myself under the table, he didn’t necessarily condone it, but he also didn’t live in a shell. He knew I was going to do it, and he gave me tips on how to do so without completely destroying the diabetes within me. If I wanted to eat the cruddiest food, he didn’t say no, he gave me options for better balance.

He talked with me, not at me. That was huge.

When I finally punched Dear Diabetes in the face and said Look, you don’t control me, I control you, I did it for me. But if we’re being completely truthful, and I think we are, the crush I have had on Dr. Hottie has been a strong guiding force in keeping Dear Diabetes under my thumb. When my hgA1c started on a trajectory towards near perfection, the excitement I saw in his twinkling eyes, and heard in his voice made me want more. I craved his exclamations:

“These are numbers to grow old with!”
“Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”
“You’re healthier than many without this disease!”
“You’re a rockstar!”

While I am still mourning the loss of this great specialist in my life, I am proud to say that we ended our relationship on a beautiful note. Yesterday’s hgA1c was 5.3. To put that into context for those without this disease, the hemoglobin A1C for a “healthy” non-diabetic is less than 5.7.

Yep, I am a rockstar!

Goodbye Dr. Hottie, you will forever be in my diabetes-thriving heart.

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     About men, indeed 😉                                                                                     (Photo retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44592535@N04/)

An inspired mom’s day perfection

It has been 214 days since I last ran a race. I haven’t been itching to get out there. Some of my runs have been serious struggles. Mental struggles more than anything. They haven’t been the great fun they once were. In fact, it was only just this week that I had a run I thoroughly enjoyed from tip to tail. The weather was perfect, not too cold, not too hot. The speed wings were soaring. My breathing was heavily laboured. My eyes were focused forward. There was no stopping, just go, go, go.

Both Big Ring and Little Ring have been champing at the bit for me to get back to my racing roots; Little Ring mostly because he remembers the juices he used to get at my races. But personal eagerness hasn’t been there.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I switched roles.

Yesterday, I got up early.

Yesterday, I went to the race start.

Yesterday, I cheered my beautiful niece out of the gates and back to the finish line.

My 25-year-old niece ran the Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women 10 km race at Westbrook Mall near UBC. She used to be quite active in the running scene back in high school, but after an extended hiatus only began running again two months ago.

I made a sign.

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We got laughs 🙂

I cheered for all the runners: “Have a good run! Run hard! Run fast! Run smiling!”

I nearly peed my pants when I saw my niece pass by, jumping up, clapping so hard, super excited.

Little Ring was cheering too: “Bye! Bye! Bye! Bye! Bye! …” He totally sounded like the pelican from Finding Nemo.

When I saw my niece at the race clock’s 57 minutes, I knew she could see the finish. Her face was hard and focused. The muscles in her arms were flexed tight. Her body was perfectly positioned. Her legs rotating with impecable cycle.

So fast.

So strong.

I started jumping. Little Ring was clapping. She was laughing. All of us smiling.

The clock had just ticked over 58 minutes when she crossed; her goal was under an hour. Oh my gosh, the pride this auntie had for one of her first littles, wow, my heart was near bursting!!!

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So, so, so proud!!!

And that, my friends, was the inspiration I needed.

MOTHER’S DAY RUN:
• 10:30 a.m. BG before: 6.4
• Temp. basal: -50% 1.5 hours (started 1/2 hour before)
• Fuel: 4 dried apricots
• Time: 39:54 minutes
• Distance: 6.29 km
• Average pace: 6:20 min/km
• Workout:
– 10 min warmup: 6:20 min/km
– 10 x 1’ fast, 1’ easy: 4:39; 4:34; 4:56; 4:35; 5:26; 5:16; 4:51; 4:48; 4:38; 4:30 min/km (fast)
– 10 min. cool down:
• 11:30 a.m. BG after: 6.1
• Temp. basal: +50% 1.5 hours

To kick off Mother’s Day, Little Ring and I went out for speed intervals this morning; he’s training for a cycle race this summer 🙂 and me for what may come. It was fantastic. Again, I felt my speed was great: Little Ring kept me in line; my fast twitch muscles cycled my feet with optimal turnover; and the rest of me surged with a smiling lightness.

It was Mom’s Day Perfection!

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Instead of celebrating the day in a loud, over-crowded, stuffy, over-priced restaurant, I suggested we have a Parisian-style picnic with supplies for making baguette sandwiches obtained from our local bakery and deli. And because it was cool and grey at the lunch hour, we transformed our living room into a bistro and had the most lovely, tasty, un-stressful, super smile-worthy indoor picnic.

It was Mom’s Day Perfection!

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And then to cap the day, we went into the city for a park adventure and the most tasty afternoon ice cream treat at Earnest Ice Cream. I had my go-to Whiskey Hazelnut (I sample and sample but always go for the same). Little Ring had Seriously Chocolate (and it is!). Big Ring had Blackberry Cheesecake (Super decadent. Super good.)

It was Mom’s Day Perfection!

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The boy’s first with Earnest; he’ll be back again!

This boy makes me want to do everything better: running, schooling, adventuring, ice creaming, everything ❤

And so much of the goodness in me is this woman, which I spent the full day with on Friday.

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Love! Love! Love!

Together, they have made me the best me!

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Huge credit to this man for helping to make this day the full specialness it is ❤

Happy Mama’s Day everyone!

Chronicles of a MRI arthrogram

I have run two marathons.

But this, I was scared.

I kicked serious butt in the birthing room.

But this, I was scared.

I quit a successful career and went back to school at 36.

But this, I was scared.

I have lived with type-1 diabetes nearly my whole life.

But this, I was scared.

Yesterday I had a MRI arthrogram to try and sleuth what the hell is wrong with my groin. I had been told ahead of time this would be a most unpleasant experience, that the dye injection would be inserted into my hip, and that various movements would be employed to purposely initiate pain in the area. I was told I would not be released without someone there with me, but not told why. I was told I would be transported via wheelchair from radiology to the MRI clinic, but again, not fully explained why.

I googled MRI arthrogram.

Big mistake.

Lots of horror stories.

I was scared.

Honestly, I had nothing to be scared of.

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Except maybe the poo-coloured pants they made me wear!

The freezing agent that was injected into my leg wasn’t the greatest feeling, but it didn’t hurt, nor did it burn as the radiologist indicated it would. It just felt like a lot of pressure. I didn’t enjoy it, but I was more wigged out than anything. Same with the contrast dye injection. I could feel that there was something there, and I knew they were doing stuff, and my eyes were squinted shut, and my nails were digging into my hands, and my left foot (the opposite side they were working on) kept vigorously flexing back and forth – but there was no pain.

Big Ring described it perfectly: it was the same feeling I get and actions I do when in the dentist’s chair. I know they’re doing stuff, and I know there should be pain, and I’m waiting for that pain, but that pain never comes. Just a whole lot of wigging out for nothing.

Mental pain.

The MRI, however, was a test of strength. I do have slight claustrophobia, although I kept telling them I didn’t when they asked, almost as though I was trying to will it away. They gave me earplugs and headphones with music to try and take my mind off the ridiculous loudness of the machine. As they were pushing me into the machine (full body), the guy suggested I close my eyes. Well, of course I now wanted to open my eyes. (Yes, I was that kid.) I took a peak…

I WAS IN A BLOODY COFFIN!!! And the walls were closing in on me! Holy freaking hell, I squeezed those eyes back shut as tight as they could go.

I had to keep perfectly still.

And suddenly all my nerves started twitching, and bones cracking, and muscles involuntarily spasming. Stop it!

After the first picture, they told me to remember to breathe lightly.

So naturally I start hyperventilating. Stop it! And I can’t swallow. Stop it! My body wants big gulps of air. Stop it! And I’m trying to sing Sunday Bloody Sunday to take my mind off of it all.

Finally 40 minutes passes. It feels like 400 hours.

I get the results in two weeks.

Running reboot: injury be damned

This blog is lonnnnnng overdue. I started writing it back in January, but was sidelined (and subsequently pummeled) by integral calculus, which took pretty much all my focus. The post was pushed to the side, only to be revisited today – four months after I started my official running reboot, and three days out from getting an arthrogram MRI to see what the heck has plagued my groin for the past nine months.

Let’s go back in time, shall we.

Bloop-bloop-bloop…

Jan. 15, 2017: It wasn’t a blip in the pan. It wasn’t fly by the night. It was real.

I went for a run. I did not know what to expect on this run. I was still injured. I still am injured. My leg feels sharp stabs of pain daily. The groin ache is still there. At this point, I don’t know if it will ever go away. What I do know: when I run it’s not there.

I am a runner. Injury be damned.

The significance of this is huge.

I have not run since October 5, 2015. First taken out by a foot injury; later by the attack of the femur.

Let me do the math for you:

That is more than 15 months – a total of 441 days of no wearing out running shoes; no soaking up technical shirts; no squeezing into sports bras; no searching for Garmin-controlled satellites; no dodging puddles; no squinting through the blinding sun; no speed-induced power thoughts; no hill climbing stress relief. Nothing.

And it was killing me.

Not even pregnancy could keep me out of the sneakers that long.

I have gone to multiple physiotherapists; I have done the muscle-firing IMS; I have done the less invasive acupuncture. Nothing has helped. My current physio suggested it is either femoracetabular impingment or a labrel tear in the groin. Scary words.

The x-rays came back negative. I was put in the cue for a MRI arthrogram.

I tried resting it. The groin injury presented itself last July; that is solid resting. I iced. I heated. I did ibuprofen. I did heavy duty Nsaids. None of it worked.

So last week I straight up asked the sports med physician what the harm would be if I started running. I told him this semester was full of math. I told him I could not survive this semester without running relief. I told him I was ready to chop the bloody leg off and get a prosthetic if that meant I could run.

I also told him that while squatting and sitting and stretching all caused pain, my brief sprints to catch the morning bus did not.

He gave me a thumbs up, but with the clear warning of take it easy, go slow, do not overdo it.

I followed doctors orders. I started out real slow, real tentative. I listened to every moan or groan my body made. The first run was 10 and 1s, running 1 minute, walking 1 minute, plus a 10-minute dynamic warmup and cool-down. It was a happy, happy day.

Bloop-bloop-bloop…

April 28, 2017: I am still not at the level of running I would like to be. The furthest distance I’ve reached is just shy of 7 km, my pace is sometimes slow as mud, and my stamina is lacking. I feel the need for walk breaks. I don’t know if it’s in my head or real. It’s discouraging at times.

But, I’m running.

It’s been a learning curve: again figuring out my diabetes with the level of running I’m at; figuring out what to eat; what to set my temporary basal rates at during the run and post run; how much to reduce my breakfast bolus by if I’m running in the morning. I don’t always succeed. It’s frustrating at times.

But, I’m running.

The pain, well, it seems running has loosened it – significantly. I no longer have the feeling of debilitating shards of glass cutting through my thigh multiple times a day. I no longer uncomfortably ache during exams. I sleep at night, pain free. That all began with running. The pain is still there, but it is no longer an ugly force, just a weak reminder there’s still something wrong. I don’t have the flexibility I used to. Squats and sitting cross legged are still challenging.

But, running was the near cure.

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Running reflection.