Friday, November 4, 2011

Love and Light

Unexpectedly, and oh so unfairly, Lisa has died.

This is her friend Kim posting on her behalf.

She was doing great physically and spiritually, and yet she went to bed on Wednesday night and did not wake up again.  We don't know exactly why or how.

Word has spread throughout her vast community and many people are making donations to her Team In Training effort to raise money for leukemia research.  She had been training for a half marathon in January.  That information can be found here, and you can donate in lieu of flowers if you wish.

Lisa is now love and light.  She is all around us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taking my Training to the Pool

I’m 11 weeks into my journey with Team in Training and I’m taking to the water for good reasons.  I have commented several times over the last few weeks about how much pain I’m in.  It didn’t always seem like running aggravated it, but any time on my foot definitely did.  So, I listened to my body and took my running to wetter pastures.  It is helping even if I miss running.

Still, I’ve questioned is this pain the inevitable result of running on a largely de-innervated foot or will it get better?  As a Type A personality, I can withstand anything when I have an endpoint or a goal, so again what is the recovery potential?  No one knows for sure, but I’m seeking several opinions…

My foot and ankle surgeon remains less than optimistic, and recommended some new palliation treatments that were sadly not helpful.  So then we assessed the rate of nerve regeneration and lo and behold a simple Tinel’s sign says that my nerve has continued to grow right on target and has reached the metarsal heads (AKA the ball of the foot, AKA the site of my excruciating shooting pain.  This all makes logical sense, the raw nerve endings are exactly at the point of maximal impact during running.  Light Bulb goes off in my head, no wonder it hurts SO MUCH.

So, to decrease the impact on my foot, but continue building my endurance for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon I have turned to aqua-jogging which could be a mind numbingly boring exercise except for the amazing support of my Team in Training Teammates.  Last weekend a few of us aqua-jogged for just short of two hours, this weekend will be longer. I’ll be in the pool during the week too.  We’ll see how long I have to stick to the pool, but it may be a few weeks.  However, as long as there is an endpoint I can do it.  I know I can.

I remain as committed as ever to complete my first half marathon just short of the one year anniversary of my surgery.  I continue to feel incredibly fortunate to be on this journey with some of the most amazing and inspirational people I’ve ever met.  I appreciate everyone’s support more than you know.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Its been 9 months since they cut cancer out of my ankle.  9 months since my 14 hour surgery.  9 months.... I can't believe it.  Sometimes I stop and am awed by this fact, by how much time has gone by, by how little time has gone by.  Yet still its been 9 months.  Physically, I'm healing.  I'm proud of having been able to complete 2/3 of a triathlon.  I'm amazed that I am training to run a half marathon less than a year after my surgery.  These facts make me smile, but I hurt.

For 9 months I have been in pain all day every day, and I'm tired.  My surgeon yesterday said this is the harder part of my recooperation.  Geez, I figured out months ago.  I can power through the physical part, sheer will and determination is getting me back into shape, but this pain is something else.  There are mornings that I realize I'm awake when the pain kicks in, nights it wakes me up, evenings that I sit on the couch and won't move because I don't want to take a step.  Yet...

My foot hurting means that I have a foot.  The shooting pain in my foot and ankle means that the nerve graft took, and the nerve is regrowing.  The aching pain in my arch may mean that some of my foot intrinsic muscles are coming back.  My foot hurting means there is a chance that it'll recover completely, a chance that this will all become just a memory.

Still I can run again on this foot.  I can ride my bike.  I can do most of what I want to do.  I can make this be OK.  I just have to keep reminding myself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Today I ran the furthest I’ve ever run.  I ran 9 miles less than 9 months after my radical ankle resection and nerve graft.  My ankle is still healing, my nerve is still regrowing, I still have no muscles in the sole of my foot, yet I run.  Every step I take hurts, yet I run. Then I pause and remember how blessed I am to be running.

I am blessed to be on the road to recovery. I am blessed to have dear friends who have picked me up when I’ve fallen over the last 9 months.  I am blessed to have parents who dropped everything to spend a month with me in New York while I had my surgery.  I am blessed to have remembered that I love my profession.  I am blessed to have a friend who’d help me finish a triathlon less than 8 months after my surgery.  I am blessed to still have this leg.  I am so blessed!

Today, while I was running, I mostly felt blessed to have joined Team in Training, to have met these incredible people who are helping me run further than I ever thought I could. Who are helping me to achieve this goal I have set for myself to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon a few weeks shy of one year after my surgery.   Along the way, I have pledged to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Along the way I’ve met a group of amazing people, for that I am blessed.

Every Sunday before our runs, someone shares their story of what Team in Training or LLS has done for them, a few weeks ago one of our coaches described joining Team after his mom was diagnosed with an untreatable form of chronic leukemia.  He described Team as “saving his life.”  I get this, I feel the same way, or maybe just similarly,  I get it nonetheless. 

I am blessed.  I ran further today than I ever have.  I was supported every step, every painful step, by my teammates.  I feel strengthened by these people who all have amazing stories.  I run because I want fewer lives affected by cancer.  I run because I need to.

I am so grateful to so many for your generous support. Yes, I am blessed!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Its D- Day...

..As in D for Doctor!

I last assumed responsibility for the care and lives of critically ill babies on January 10, 2011, nearly 9 months ago.  Since that time, I have had a 14 hour surgery, spent weeks in the hospital, months in a wheelchair, months at rehab, and spent 8 months on pain meds due to the constant, constant pain in my foot.  I have also completed 2/3 of the Malibu Tri and completed my first 10K run, committed to Team in Training to train for a half marathon.

Some may not understand how i could return to athletic endeavors before work, to those I ask "would you want your baby's doctor on pain meds?"  The answer is easy, no way!  I committed early on this process this time to not rush my return to work, to not renege on my Promise.  I have tried to stay true to these promises.

So, today, I'll put my green scrubs back on and assume care at our smaller hospital to ease me back in.  I'd be lying if I tried to deny that I am deeply nervous about this.  What if I'm rusty?  What if I'm in too much pain?  What if my foot doesn't hold up?  I could make myself crazy with the "What If's."  The truth is I think I'm ready, my partners have given me the support I need in case I need an extra hand.  It is time.  Even if I feel a little like I am graduating from medical school all over again, except for the fact that I actually know what I'm doing. Still....

Wish me luck, please!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Malibu Triathlon- This is Why I'm Doing This

The Nautica Malibu Triathlon is in a week.  The Fundraising efforts are closing in on raising a million dollars to support Childrens Hospital Los Angeles's Pediatric Cancer Program.  Those who read me here or on Twitter or on facebook know why I'm doing this even if I can't do the whole thing quite yet.  I'm so thankful to my friend Jason who will compete in the run for me.

Yesterday, I completed my last real training with slightly over a mile ovean swim practicing entry and exit through the surf, tehn simulated start and race distance swim.  Then I rode the course between cloud bursts.  I fel tgreat.  I love that I am back able to do these things 8 months post my surgery, I am awed by the support of my friends and family.  However, when I need more inspiration I will just reread this email..


The event is coming up fast, wish I had trained more in June and July.  But the event is on my mind in a different and perhaps more meaningful way as I write this note.  Just yesterday morning as I was driving into work one of our cancer docs called me to say that our personal family friend’s child who he has been treating at CHLA lost their her battle with cancer.  Although the news was devastating, it energized me even more to want to work even harder for making the 25thAnniversary of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon that much more meaningful.

In just days as we gather on the shore at Zuma Beach in Malibu to test our skills against Mother Nature and our own athletic abilities, I will be thinking about doing my race in honor of our family’s young child.  I know she will be looking down upon all the participating athletes and giving them the inspiration to achieve their utmost.

I hate cancer, but I love the feeling of knowing that thousands of athletes and supporters of the triathlon will come together and make a huge difference in our battle to end cancer.

Thank you XXXX…

Remember thsi is why we are completing a triathlon to support Peds Cancer Research at CHLA.

Thank you to all who have already donated. If you still want to donate you may do so by following this link.  Thank you

Thursday, September 8, 2011

lap by lap, pedal by pedal, mile by mile, mm by mm

Lap by lap, pedal by pedal, mile by mile I slowly begin to feel more like myself.  Slowly that confidence that used to exude from my being but then got replaced by fear, doubt, anxiety has begun to return to me.  I am far from being the shape that I was in last year, but as evidenced by the miles I rode my bike and the miles that I ran this past weekend I am even further from the wheelchair bound version of myself of this past winter.

My vanity wants to wear my cute shoes again. My pride wants to be able to be back at work full time taking care of critically ill babies, but not yet.  I still must wait.  However, with each lap I swam this morning (and there were 80 of them) I could feel my strength coming back. Each mile I run reminds me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I remind myself that great strides and accomplishments are not met by sitting on the sideline by staying with that which is safe.  You must risk to achieve. So, I risk. I choose not to sit on the sideline.

Still my real recovery is not measured by the miles I cover in my athletic pursuits. My real road to actual recovery to finding out what will be my new normal is measured in millimeters.  As millimete by millimeter the nerve regrows in my foot, the sensation has slowly begun to return to the bottom of my foot.  Will I ever recover any strength in my foot, no one knows, but there is reason to hope.  So while the rest of my body powers through miles, the nerves continue their millimeter a day progress. And I wait and to build the new version of me whatever it will be.