Sunday, July 17, 2016

One of Us

In my life, because of Search and Rescue, I have proudly worked closely with Law Enforcement.  I was sworn  to serve and protect.  To defend the constitution of the United States.   I have worn a badge on my chest and carried a gun on my hip for more than a decade.  I have been a part of a department that has lost deputies to senseless violence. I have screamed at the news of their deaths, and mourned at their funerals. 

I only have a tiny taste of what it's like to be a police officer or a deputy, but I have a mighty respect for the job that every officer does.

And here's the thing.  They are your mother or father.  They are you brother or sister.  They are your son or daughter. They are your neighbor.  I am them.  They are me.  You are them.  They are you. 

These men and women that don the uniform do it because they care.  They care about their mother and father.  They care about their sister and brother.  Their son and daughter.  Their neighbor. 

Me.

You.


They are a member of the community in which they serve.  They CHOSE to serve.  They do the job that you can't do.  That you won't do. 

Because of you.

For you.


So when one of them is shot at… When one of them is attacked…. When one of them is killed….

Don't you get it?  It's one of US!  It's one of your own community.  It's your mother or father.  Sister or brother.  Son or daughter.  Neighbor.

Me.


You.



Friday, July 15, 2016

Slow



More.  Faster. More. Faster.

That's the everyday background mantra.  Get more done.  Go faster.  If you go faster you will get more done.  Don't stop.  Can you do one more?  

I get it.  I get the pace.  It makes sense for what we do.  

It bleeds over into my every day life.  I woke up this morning and so many things rushed through my mind.

So much that needs to get done.  Feed the herd.  Laundry.  Vacuuming. Poop scooping.  Dishes.  The list goes on.  

And there was my ride to do.

So much to do that I froze.  The animals almost didn't get fed because I had so much that needed to be done I couldn't do any of it.  (Don't worry, between Velcro the cat and Kaeden, no meal gets missed around here.)

If I didn't ride, I'd have more time to do....

If I didn't ride.

It would have been easy to not ride.  So much I wouldn't have to do - putting on the super rider suit is its own involved chore.  

I wanted to ride.

But.

I needed to slow down.  Slow something down.  

So today I chose to ride slower.  Not that I ride fast to begin with. Today I was conscious of my speed.  I wanted to control it.  It was MY pace.  I could choose to go faster.  I could choose to go slower.  

To be honest, I didn't realize what I needed from my ride until I got underway.
I even changed the Pandora Station I listen to to Sia.   There's really no riding fast with that station.  (For the record, changing your Pandora station while riding is difficult at best.)  
  

Not being obsessed with going faster or beating a time made today's ride more mindful. I paid more attention to me.  Everything from my hand position, to my legs, to my feet, to my breathing.  To my thoughts.  To the words in the songs I was listening to.

                        "The fire used to burn, all the words used to hurt
                          But you're not like us, you are different
                          I couldn't see that that was a compliment."

I took the time to contemplate the meaning in this song I had never heard before.  It's about realizing your own strength despite what others think or say about you.  

I haven't had time to think about a song in a while.

As I rode, I felt almost like I had slowed time down.  I was looking for that anyway.  I didn't want the ride to end because that signaled that the next thing could get done. 

But did it mean that the next thing HAD to get done?

Today maybe the laundry will get done.  Maybe the vacuuming will get done.  

Maybe.


747 miles this year.
1302 miles since I started a year ago.  This is my 1 year bike-iversary. 
237



















Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Look at ME

This will likely be one of the most raw entries I will ever do.  Forgive me as I travel down this rabbit hole.

I went to the doctor today.  I went for a very specific purpose.  It was not an annual physical, although it has been a year since my last physical exam.  I had a mole that I wanted looked at. 

A mole.   


The doctor did indeed look at the mole.  He stared at it intently.  He asked a couple of questions and agreed that it did look odd.  Of course, if I felt that it had changed, we absolutely had to investigate it further.  He talked to me about what that looked like.  I agreed that having it removed and biopsied was a fine idea with me.

As he typed away at his computer, I said I had another question for him.

He said, ok, but first...

He asked about the hysterectomy I had about 10 years ago. (Yes, I had a hysterectomy. No they didn't take my cervix.  Yes, it had been 5 years since my last pap smear.  Yes, I should get one.  Next year, he said.)

He asked about my gallstones. Any issues?  (No)

He asked about my last mammogram.  (Yes, I am overdue.  I would like to schedule it.)

He confirmed my age (48).  He advised that at 50 I would have to have a colonoscopy.  (Great. He also shared a tip he had received from a patient about taking the prep for the colonoscopy - Adding Sprite to it and drinking quickly.  Thanks.  I'll remember that in 2 years.)

He asked if I was taking the cholesterol medication he had prescribed last year.  (No.)

He reminded me that my blood work, from 13 months ago, revealed high cholesterol (that he never talked to me about.  I got an email that said there was medication  prescribed for me.  And then an email asking when I was going to pick it up.  And then an email saying it was going to be shelved).   He then said he wanted to check my ASS score.  (Yes, I am sure that's NOT what he said, but he said it several times and I don't know what it stands for, but that's what I heard)  It is a risk assessment to determine my risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years.  It involves several things (like??) and he would put the information in and it would tell me what my risk was. As he typed away at his computer he talked about how the paradigm has shifted where cholesterol meds are concerned and this score is more important than just the blood levels. 

He finished typing and said 

Your risk is... Oh.

Very low.  1%  

He gave me permission (thank you) to take fish oil - Omega 3s to be exact - instead of starting on medication.  

He talked about my BMI.  (40.08) 

Which makes me obese.  (Thank you.  I missed that.)

So we need to talk about weight loss. (I heard you at last year's visit.  I really did.  I bought a road bike and I ride....)

Okay.  Good.  (But I wasn't finished)

There are several programs available that you can take advantage of.  (But I am riding several days a week and hiking at least one...)

Okay. Good.  (Again, I still wasn't finished)

I would recommend taking advantage of one of the programs we offer.  There are even some that are free online. (Since I've been riding, I feel better and ....)

Great.  Check out what we have. (I have been trying, I really ha...)

I know you have.

And he stood up.  I guess we were done.  At no point in time, aside from looking at the mole, did he put his hands on me.  Listen to my heart and lungs.  Check my lymph nodes.  Look at my throat.  Look in my ears.

Why would he?  I was only there to have him look at a mole.

He saw a number.  Well, a few numbers.  Made a judgment.   And told me I needed to fix it.

If it were only that easy

(For a humor break.... On the way out the door, he asked how my sister was doing.

I was totally confused.  I have 2 sisters.  I have never shared anything about them with him. But he was concerned about one of them.  I looked at him a bit longer and said, um, fine. It wasn't until later that I realized he was asking about my wife - until recently, he was her doctor.  In fact, he was her doctor first.  

Okay, maybe that wasn't funny.)


So I made an appointment for my mole.

I didn't make an appointment for a pap smear (I can do that next year... he said so).

I didn't make an appointment for a mammogram.  (I WILL - stop yelling!  But it was never mentioned again)

As I walked out, he handed me a pamphlet that outlined their weight loss programs.  

I walked out of the office, feeling like I had just been punished for trying to take care of myself.

He never saw me.  To be sure, he was in the room with me.  He smiled at me and he saw my mole.

He never saw me.

I drove to work, trying to decide if I was angry or hurt.

After work, I drove home, still deciding if I was angry or hurt.

At home, I shared the experience with my sister wife (relax... it's a joke.  She's just my wife). She was indignant for me.  She defended me, something she is very good at.  She asked if he actually paid attention to the patient in front of him (me) instead of the numbers on his screen.  

I tried not to cry as I said it's not like I haven't been trying.  I have done so much in the last year - I am riding as many days a week as I can, though the last 3 months, I've been off my game a bit, but ...  

Was all I have been doing for naught?  My own doctor didn't seem to lend any credence to whatever actions I had been trying to take.

Have I been wasting my time? 

I was angry.  And I was hurt.

Did I need to do one of the programs in the pamphlet?  One is a meal replacement plan (that costs money) that is 800 calories per day.  800 calories.  Yes.  I will lose weight on that. I might lose my mind too.  

I went online to look at their (free) online weight loss help program.  It involved a lengthy series of intimate questions that I answered honestly (and I already know I am an emotional eater).  With each revealing answer, I was given cute little statements like "ask people for help"  and "when emotions drive you to want to eat, take a deep breath and get busy doing something else".  Oh.  Okay.  Why didn't I think of that? 

Here are some numbers
My BMI is over 40.  (Which is actually less than it was a year ago)
My blood glucose is 80 (nope, not diabetic)
My weight is 237  (yep it's up from last entry here, but down from the last Dr's visit)
My BP is 105/78 (yep, that's good)
I have ridden almost 1200 miles since I started riding 10 months ago in August.  1197 to be exact. 

I feel better.  I can do more than I used to.  That has to count for something.  Right?

I don't know what my answer is.  The thing is it has to be my answer.  It can't be your answer.  It can't be my doctor's answer.  It has to be my answer.

I am trying.

And I think I am finding a new doctor.






















Friday, April 1, 2016

Contacts



I have a list of people in my phone that's growing.  I wasn't expecting it to grow, and quite frankly, I never thought about it until now.

A friend of mine died.  Well, let's be honest.  He killed himself. That information in and of itself rocked me. I began searching for answers.   I was trying to, morbidly perhaps, Google him to see what had happened.  My phone's browser showed me different web entries.  At the same time, it also showed me his contact information that is on my phone.  Almost like it was trying to tell me, why Google him when you can call him? Here's his info, just click and connect with him.

It stopped me for a while.

There are others on my phone too.  I have contact information for a growing list of dead people.  It would be easy to delete them.  A couple of clicks and they're gone.

Having them in my phone is like some kind of weird insurance.  Or, really, reassurance. It sounds ridiculous, but for a minute, when their name pops up for some reason, it's like they're not really gone.  For one short moment, I can think of them in the present instead of the past.

Another day has come and gone.  And another name has been added to that list.

RIP
AnnMarie
David
Greg
Linda
Mary
Tom
Toby

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's Not Your Fault


The more I thought about writing this, the more anxious I became.   At one point I convinced myself not to write about it.  Then I thought about how scared it made me, and I realized that's exactly why I have to write.

Rape isn't about sex.  Rape is about power and control.  It's about displaying power and taking control.   It's about pain and humiliation. 

The affects of sexual assault are long lasting and far reaching.  

I know.

I was raped.

I was high school age.  It was someone I trusted.  

I walked away bruised and in shock.  

I was humiliated.

I questioned myself so many times, trying to figure out how I had gotten myself into that position.  What did I do wrong?

The man who assaulted me was someone who was in my life.  Someone I knew I would  come into contact with again and again.  He made it clear he wasn't afraid of me or what I might say.  He was invincible.  

It was a while before I thought I could share it with anyone.  Finally, I did the only thing I knew how to do when dealing with such a monumental experience.  I wrote it down in a letter, intending to send it to a friend I could trust.  Before I could send it, someone else found it and read it.

She sat me down and told me that she had read the letter.

She asked me what happened.  She wanted to know.

A wave of relief washed over me.  I was finally able to let this secret out and this was a person I could depend on. She wanted to listen and I knew she would protect me.

So I cried and let it out.  I shared what happened, how afraid I was because I would see my attacker again - it was unavoidable.  I was terrified and didn't know how to handle it.

"Don't you dare say a word to anyone else."

I was stunned.

"We can't let anyone know."

In an appalled silence, I listened to her talk about the humiliation it would bring to me if I told anyone else.  She went on to say that no one would believe me anyway.  She went so far as to say

"You know, you could have said no."

It didn't matter that I did say no.  That I did say stop.  That I did try to defend myself.

There it was.  Definitive proof. I could have stopped it.  

It was, without a doubt, my fault.

My own mother had just confirmed it for me.

So I tore up the letter.

I lived in panic and worry.  For years.

Periodically, I would have to face this man.  It was a long time before I was comfortable with any man in any situation.

I spent time in therapy trying to build up my inner strength and move on. In time, I realized it wasn't my fault.    I know the psychology behind the attack.  I even know the reasoning behind my mother's response was likely because of her own past that I knew nothing about. 

We never spoke of it again.  

Why share this now?

As I read about the singer Kesha, whose songs push me to ride harder and faster, I felt like I relived my rape and everything that followed all over again.  I wanted to reach out to her and say "I understand, I get it, and I am sorry you are going through this."

There should be no shame in a victim sharing their horrifying experience.  I know that what I went through is nothing compared to what others have gone through.   Anyone should be able to come forward and say "this happened to me" and get a resolution of some kind.

Not be shamed or ridiculed or worse.

Blamed or dismissed.

Kesha is a brave woman.  It might have taken her a long time to realize her strength and come forward to try to get away.  

And she was dismissed by those with the power to help her get away and move on.

Shame on them.  And shame on the system that perpetuates it.  That chooses to say "you could have said no" and blames the woman for being attacked.

It's not your fault.  It never was.



Friday, February 19, 2016

Definition


I succeeded.  My hike, the one that I felt defined me, is over and I accomplished what I set out to do.  Way to go ME!

I am beginning to see differences with 6 months of bike riding.  It started subtly. Activities that made me feel out of breath quickly, now aren't as difficult as before.

Clothes are fitting differently.  I am not at all near 'buy a new wardrobe' but I am at 'those pants that were uncomfortable are now easy to wear'.  

My face has changed a bit - it's interesting.  It's something I see every day so it's hard to notice.  One day I looked in the mirror and I noticed the difference. Almost like it had happened overnight.  

My legs.  That's a big difference.  I began feeling what they could do differently about 3 months in.  At the same time I began feeling the difference in how they felt when I walked or flexed for some reason.  I couldn't see it.  But the muscle was definitely noticeable to the touch.

This week I actually saw the changes in my legs.  There's a visible definition that wasn't there before.  That shocked me.  And made me smile.  



Perhaps more importantly, I am noticing changes inside me.  Inside my head.  I look back at all the things I was afraid of doing.  The challenges before me that I never believed I would accomplish, so I pretty well convinced myself to not even try.

I rode 3 miles, but was positive I wouldn't be able to ride 5 miles.

Now I ride 8+ miles for all of my rides.

I rode at 9 mph.   I was convinced that I would never reach 10 mph.

Now I am at 13+ and I even saw a 14 once!

That's what conditioning has given me.  I have built myself up and improved on myself.  

Here's where my mind, my head, has begun to change.

I started out by walking my bike up hills.

Now I have added sections to my ride that have hills.   I cringed when I added the first one. Truth be told I flat out whined when I added it.  But I did it.  My most recent hill addition kicks my ass EVERY SINGLE TIME.   I have to talk myself into doing it when I decide on my route in the morning.  And sometimes I talk myself out of it.  I have to say, though, that when I do make it up that hill, I feel elated.

I avoided going fast down hills.  I rode the brakes as hard as I rode the pedals for the up hill portion.   I was so scared of losing control.

Now, there are three hills that I look forward to flying down and I am scouring Strava after the ride to see my top speed (I have hit 30 mph!!)


We spend so much of our lives defining ourselves.  Making a box around who we are and saying "this is me".  

I am not a box.    

I don't have a limit.   

This is my most recent self revelation.

I know myself well enough to know  that I will still struggle with that.  It will be easy to slip back and say there are limits to who I am and what I can do. 

My only limits are in my head. 

I hope I can keep coming back to that.

This year 238 miles
Overall 792 miles

233.2


Friday, February 5, 2016

Do It Anyway

I am afraid.

More like terrified.  

A part of what all this riding has been about is happening this weekend. 

Thinking about it rattles the inside of me.  Just thinking about it has caused an anxiety attack WHILE RIDING MY BIKE (something I don't recommend).

Every two years I have to do a 'fitness hike' for my Search and Rescue team.  It involves distance, time, cumulative elevation and a 20 lb pack.  The time element determines what 'level' team you are. The principle behind it is to have some measuring tool to say yes this person is fit enough to be deployed on a search.   I have done this hike many times.  I have always been a level 2 team - meaning I have done the hike in under 3 hours - until 3 years ago.   

I have never wanted to be a level 1 team.  That encompasses this hike - but faster, plus additional proficiencies designed to ensure you can search at altitudes above 7000 feet. That has never been a need of mine.

A level 3 is the lowest of the low.  The barest of the bare minimums.  It means you'll be allowed to search on essentially flat grown, devoid of challenges.   In other words, the likelihood of you getting deployed on a search dips near zero.

That's me.  

Three years ago I didn't make it in time.  I made in enough time still be considered deployable, just not enough time to be deployable on the majority of searches out there.

I was crushed.   I can make a zillion excuses, but it boiled down to ... me.  My head telling me I couldn't do it.  It was right.  I was right.

I didn't do it.

Last year, it was time to do it again.  

Missed it by 9 minutes.  

9 minutes.

I am not due this year.  Not for the hike anyway.  I am due to recertify with my dog however. And your level of fitness dictates what test you can take with your dog.   

Since we have been certified together, my latest dog and I have been on 1 search together. One search.    To be sure, some of that is because the region we live in doesn't have all that many searches.  But it's also because of me.

So I set out to re do my hike in advance of when it is due so that we can become that 'better' team.   So that we can have more opportunities to be out there, to help those that need us.

I had time line goals and to be completely honest, I was intending to do this hike before now.  I had thought of November.  November came and I couldn't make myself get past the fear and do it.  Same with December.  And really... January.

What is my fear?  Of failing of course.  Trying and failing, yet again.  In the back of my head, if I fail, yet again, I will definitively prove that I am no good.

I am less.

I am not worthy of being deployed on any search.  

Which is funny considering,  in my 24 years in search and rescue, how many searches I have been on  and where they have taken me.  

I have sloshed through snow for hours on end throughout the night.

I have climbed up and down and up and down endlessly.

I have gone back day after day after day,  crashing through brush and trees and foliage.

I have searched mile after mile after mile in conditions I would never choose to go on a hike in.  And gone back the next day to do it again.

But this hike defines me. 

If I make it, I am WORTHY.

If I don't.... I am not.  

So, it terrifies me.

If I intend to become that 'better' team, I must do it now.  

I must try.

I am still scared. 

I am going to do it anyway.




2016 -175 miles
Overall - 730 miles.

233.6