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Typical Night with Night Sweats

This is my night shirt after a night of night sweats. I took this photo 6 hours after I took this shirt off and it was still drenched!

This is my night shirt after a night of night sweats. I took this photo 6 hours after I took this shirt off and it was still drenched!

Unless you’ve experienced it yourself, you can’t understand what it’s like to have night sweats. I’ve had them almost every night at least since early December. We don’t know what’s causing them or how to stop them. I’m seeing another cardiologist next week; I hope he’ll know what to do.

Here’s what a typical night is like for me:

Getting ready for bed: Put on t-shirt and shorts. Lay out two more t-shirts at the foot of my bed along with my sleep sack for the morning.

Sometime between 11:30pm and 1:30am: Wake up cold, clammy, and drenched in sweat – I mean drenched: my shirt, shorts, skin, sheets, and pillow. Take off shirt #1. Put on shirt #2. Flip over pillow. Go back to sleep.

Alarm goes off at 5:15am: Wake up cold and wet again. Turn off alarm. Exchange shirt #2 for shirt #3. Pull on sleep sack and step into slippers. Pad to kitchen to make coffee. (By the way – shirt #1 is still drenched despite air drying for the last four hours.)

And that’s just about what happens every night for me. It’s so gross to have my skin and sheets covered in human salt. I don’t know how people who have medical conditions that cause this every night deal with it. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a way to sweat through the night gracefully.

I saw my new cardiologist last week who did a second ultrasound. He’s not convinced that I has atrial septal defect (ASD). He said it might be a patent foramen ovale (PFO). Either way, I have at least one hole in my heart that I’ve had since birth.

This week we’re going to do a transesophageal echocardiogram to get a clearer picture of what’s going on and then we’ll formulate an action plan from there. The heart is right next to the esophagus so they’re going to knock me out and slide a camera down my throat and look at my heart. They’ll have a lot less to go through compared to an ultrasound that has to decipher what’s going on through muscles, bones, and my lungs. Hopefully this means I’ll have answers soon.

Of course, being a recovering addict, the first thing I asked when my doctor said I needed this procedure was, “Do I get propofol with that?”

To Post or Not To Post

WordPress Buttons by Alexander Grounder from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

WordPress Buttons by Alexander Grounder from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t make decisions easily. I mean, watching me try to order a sandwich can be painful. Once a decision is made, it’s made and you’re probably not going to budge me from my position but getting to that point can be a challenge.

There are a lot of things that I write about that never make it on the blog. When I’m writing about something that I’m really fired up about, I know I’m not always in my most logical mind. (As the great Rocky said, “Anger robs thought.” This fits me to a T.) So before I hit “publish,” it’s not uncommon for me to kick the draft out to one or more people to get feedback before I share it with the world. I lovingly call these people, “The Committee.”

At any time there are probably about 10 people I consider part of The Committee, and depending on the posting question anywhere from one to all of them will get a copy of what I’m thinking about posting before I decide if it goes out. I had so many strong emotions coursing through my veins as I wrote the post, I Can’t Stay Silent Anymore (probably my most daring post to date), so I knew I needed a second and third opinion before releasing it. Here are some of their reactions – mostly paraphrased. (I’m only referring to them by first initial to protect their identities.)

B: Sleep on it and see if you still want to release it in the morning.

E: Why are you hesitating? Posting this is not a bad idea.

R: It’s a thoughtful post. Go with your gut.

P: It’s an excellent post. Who better than a victim to truly state the outrage and expose the injustice of the ways this is handled in our society? If you want to put it out there–go for it. The world needs to hear it.

J: I don’t have time to read this right now. I have a massive brief due.

(That last one was just to show you that my Committee is composed of real people whose worlds do not revolve around me.)

I feel very lucky that I have amazing friends and confidants who let me vent, support me when I’m doing the right thing, and tell me when I’m wrong. I couldn’t do what I do without you.

I Can’t Stay Silent Anymore

The way sexual assault is handled in the U.S. makes me so frustrated. Sexual abuse and sexual assault is so pervasive – the CDC estimates that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused and the number of women who are sexually assaulted in their lifetime is devastatingly high, and yet it’s something that is almost never discussed. I saw the trailer for the documentary about sexual assault on college campuses, The Hunting Ground, last tonight and it filled me with fire.

I get so angry when I hear about child molestation by church priests, the abuse by Jerry Sandusky, and the pervasiveness of sexual assaults on college campuses. I’m not angry just because people are being attacked, but because the institutions who are responsible for the victims’ safety are protecting the perpetrators. They are more concerned about maintaining their reputations than doing what’s right. Are they completely oblivious to the devastating effects of sexual assault? Do they know that they have shamed people into silence and attack them for speaking up? It makes me so angry and frustrated at “the system” that it’s hard to find words to express it. I just want to scream at them.

To every institution that turned a blind eye or blamed or shamed of victim who was sexually assaulted under their watch – Fuck You! I don’t believe in protecting perpetrators or the people that protect them.

As a survivor of sexual assault, my heart goes out to these victims and fellow survivors. I suspect I know your pain, your anger, and your shame. We live in a world that tells us to stay silent about being victimized and traumatized, to “get over it.” The people who say this are too uncomfortable with the fact that this happens everywhere and to all types of people, so they try to ignore it. They push the problem onto the victims when it’s really them who have the real problem.

The survivors of sexual assault have a challenge – to deal with the damage of the trauma we’ve been through. And if you’re a survivor too, you know how soul crushing and devastating it can be. This isn’t something we just “get over.” We live with it for the rest of our lives. It’s our responsibility to do what we have to do to take care of ourselves, whatever that looks like. And for some of us dealing with this deep trauma doesn’t take weeks or months; it takes years, maybe even a lifetime.

I’ve been silent for too long, shamed by individuals, institutions, and cultural norms. Speaking only for myself, I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t say that survivors should feel empowered to speak out whenever they need to an to call out individuals and institutions that perpetuate this problem, unless I’m willing to speak out too.

Alternative Uses for the State Bar Directory

My Arizona State Bar Membership Directory - aka Massive Dust Collector

My Arizona State Bar Membership Directory – aka Massive Dust Collector

I just paid $475 for the privilege of being a licensed Arizona attorney for the next year. One of the most frustrating things about having to pay for a mandatory state bar membership is watching the people in power spend it on things we don’t need or want – like a paper membership directory. It’s the phone book of lawyers. Every licensed attorney in the state gets one – and our dues pay to have it printed, shipped, and mailed to us every year.

Some people like having a paper directory. I’m sure this is the same minority that still uses the regular phone book while the rest of us use the internet to look up whatever information we need. I wish there was a way to opt out of getting this, or at least limit it to one directory per law firm. I recently joined a law firm that has 7 other attorneys. We don’t need 8 directories!

This situation made me think, “What would be a better use of our directories than letting them collect dust on the shelf for the year or automatically recycling them upon arrival?” I did some research and here are some of my favorite ideas.

Make spit balls or paper airplanes to throw during boring CLEs

Paper mache project

Kindling

Door stop (I’ve actually done this with my bar directory.)

Booster seat for kids

Cut a hole in the middle and hide stuff in it

Garden mulch

Wrapping paper (The minimalist in me loves this idea!)

Kill bugs with it

Alternative for packing peanuts

Origami

I recently got a new desk and I’m pretty sure my bar directory is going to become my new foot rest. I can’t help my state bar membership directory fulfill its destiny as a phone book but I can give it a new purpose.

What did you do with your state bar directory?

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 – DNF

I did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon yesterday . . . well, more accurately speaking, I started the race. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it. As many of my friends suggested, this was not my race.

AJ & Ruth at the Starting Line for the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 (Photo by AJ Grucky, used with permission)

AJ & Ruth at the Starting Line for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 – Probably my Happiest Moment of the Day (Photo by AJ Grucky, used with permission)

I needed to have an awesome day on race day to complete 26.2 miles. That’s what I had a few weeks ago when I ran 20 miles and I felt like I could easily run 5 more. Yesterday was a good day, not a great day. I didn’t feel particularly bad when I started the day just after 4am. I got up, made coffee, got dressed for the race, walked the dog, had a banana and a bagel with peanut butter, packed my gear bag, and walked a mile to the light rail station. I had an enjoyable chat with a guy from Minnesota on the rail who was the 3:40 pacer for the race on the ride across town. He said he was going to run the race with a GoPro camera strapped to his chest.

The starting line is pretty uneventful. I met up with my cousin AJ and we lined up in our corral. Just before the race started, I had my usual pre-race 5 Hour Energy and 2 ibuprofens. As our group started the race I tried to be mindful of the advice I heard from so many people – Don’t start out too fast. I tried to tell myself, “We’re just going for a jog.”

I never felt like I found a groove in this race. My music kept me going and I occasionally found someone to pace with. My hands started tingling around Mile 2, and I knew that couldn’t be good, but thankfully a cleared up after a few more miles. My right arch hurt starting pretty early on in the race and I had intermittent hip pain on both sides, but I pushed on. By Mile 9, I was pretty certain I would be losing some toenails after the race.

In terms of time, I had a great first half of the race. My half marathon time was 1:58 (9:07/mile pace). Around Mile 12, I started questioning if I really wanted to finish the race. At Mile 14, I really started to hurt and started slowing down. The 4-hour pacers easily passed me. After the turnaround in Old Town Scottsdale, my chest and my liver hurt so I decided to walk. I was surprised by how much my whole body hurt once I stopped running and how slowly I was walking, even compared to how slowly I had been running. I was done.

Both of my Feet are Sore but this is the Worst of my Toes

Both of my Feet are Sore but this is the Worst of my Toes

I promised myself I could stop at the next medical tent, which turned out to be at Mile 19. A friendly nurse gave me a chair, verified my identity, and asked what was wrong. When she discerned that I wasn’t in imminent danger or in need of significant medical attention, she gave me a bottle of Gatorade and called for the shuttle. Another nurse put a towel that had been soaking in ice around my shoulders. I felt like crap.

Gene, my kind shuttle driver, zipped me to the finish line where I pick that my bag from gear check and met up with my family. I sent out a handful of text messages to the people who I suspected were tracking me via my RFID chip who might be wondering what had happened to me. I was bummed I couldn’t finish the race but it was the right decision. I felt so weak, so lightheaded, and my stomach hurt like a bitch that my aunt took me home instead of going out with everybody else. After a few hours of rest, I started to feel human again.

Thank you to everyone who supported me along this journey to do this race and a special thank you to the crew and volunteers who work the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and my friends Karen, La Dessa, Valerie, Dannie, and Bill who cheered me on from the sidelines. You guys made my race a lot less painful.

Will I try another marathon? I’m not sure. The next thing on my to-do list is seeing my new cardiologist and getting my heart fixed. My new guy specializes in my type of heart defect so hopefully he can determine what’s causing my symptoms and how to fix it.

Marathon Training Week 18 Recap – Final Prep

Colts Experience by Valerie Everett from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Colts Experience by Valerie Everett from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The last week of marathon training was pretty uneventful. My marathon training program had me taper down so much that I ran less this week than any other week during training. I did a 3-mile run on Tuesday and a 4-mile run on Wednesday. I was supposed to do a 2-mile run on Thursday, but my chest hurt that afternoon so I opted to skip it. A lot of people, myself included, are wondering why I’m doing this race with my current health issues. The only real reasons I have are sheer determination and because I want to do it.

I got some great advice from my friends who have run a marathon previously. Some of the best tidbits were don’t do anything different on race day than you did during your training and trust your training. I was really nervous about the race a few days ago and I reached out to a friend who is done plenty of marathon and Ironman races for a pep talk. He told me that I’ve done a 20-mile training run and I’ve run a 10K. A marathon is just the opportunity to do them consecutively. That made me feel better.

My Race Shirt for Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

My Race Shirt for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

My friend and I went to the race expo on Friday. We both ran the half marathon 2 years ago and I beat him by 67 seconds so his goal this year is to beat my half marathon time. He ran the full marathon last year and I wouldn’t mind beating his time of 4:30:16. But my real goal at this point is to just finish. We did a quick lap for the expo exhibitors, looking at products and grabbing samples, and I got taped up at the Rock Tape booth. (And for those of you who are wondering, yes I altered the race waiver and they accepted it.)

A few days ago I picked up my custom race shirt at Brand X in Tempe. I had them put “One More Mile” on the back of a highlighter yellow running shirt in silver lettering. It came out beautifully. I hope it will inspire anyone running behind me during the race.

At this point I’m enjoying carb loading and just trying to get everything ready for race day. I hope it will be a low-stress high-fun day.

Advice for First-Time Marathon Runners

Photo by Rich Kenington

Photo by Rich Kenington (Creative Commons License)

I’m running my first marathon this weekend at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona. I’ve done the half marathon four times, and now that I’ve fixed my shin splints and tweaked my running posture, I’m ready to go for the full.

Luckily, I have several friends who have run a marathon as a stand-alone race and/or as part of an Ironman. I asked them to share some advice with me and anyone else who is running their first marathon.

Absolutely nothing new on race day. No new shoes, no new clothes, no new foods, nothing.  Race day is not the time to find out those socks your friend recommended chafe and you don’t want to discover at mile 15 that orange flavored Gatorade makes you nauseous. If you didn’t train with it, don’t race with it. – Ben Schorr, Marathoner

Put your name on the front of your shirt.  – Peter Shankman, Marathoner and Ironman
(People will cheer for you by name if you do this.)

I would say to trust the training that you’ve done so far. Don’t overdo it the week before, but also be sure not to shut down completely. For me, I did an easy paced 5 or 6 mile run the day before the race with a long cool down and stretch. Get a long night’s sleep and make sure to hydrate well the morning of the race.  – Marian Grucky, Marathoner

If you look to the right, and you are standing next to a guy from Kenya, you are in the wrong corral. Okay, some more practical advice.  If you are feeling really good at mile, 5, 10, 15, or 20, DON’T speed up.  Just keep running your usual pace.  At mile 22 or 23, if you are feeling good, you can start to pick up your pace.  – Kolby Granville, Marathoner and Ironman

My advice for a first marathon is to go to enjoy it.  Go to feel out the distance and to see how your body responds to going that far. Stay well within your physical limits in the moment. Relax.  If you want to push wait until the last 6 miles or so when you have a sense that you will make it. Run with someone who has done it before and is not bound to a time. – Debbie Rubel, Marathoner

Assuming you have a target pace in mind, if the race has professional pace runners, stick with them or near them. Race day excitement usually makes me start too fast, and pacers keep you on track from the start, plus they put you in the starting pack at roughly the right place.  – Rick Ortmeyer, Marathoner

Thank the volunteers. The race would be much different without them out there to help us.  – Ben Schorr, Marathoner

Don’t worry about your time — your goal is to finish!  – Chad Belville, Marathoner

If you are reading this because you are preparing for your first marathon, have a great race! I hope you feel awesome when you cross the finish line.

Support your Runners at Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 2015

If you live in the Phoenix area, especially if you live near the race route for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon or Half Marathon this coming weekend, please come out and support the runners. It matters that you’re there.

Photo by Tyler Hurst from Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2012

Photo by Tyler Hurst from Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2012

My sister came to Phoenix to do this race before I became a runner, and I drove her to the starting line, saw her start the race, cheered for her around Mile 8 and at the finish line. It was fun to be part of the excitement of the race and see all the fanfare, but I didn’t think it mattered that I was there.

I didn’t understand until I became a runner myself how helpful and encouraging it is to have people cheering for you on the sidelines, even when they’re strangers. It’s even better when you see a familiar face in the crowd.

When I did that half marathon in 2012, I knew my friends would be watching for me around Mile 8 and Mile 11. At Mile 4, I started counting down how far had to go before I would see my friends. It was so great to see my friend Tyler holding a sign that insulted me (per my request) as I ran by him and other friends. That kept my spirits lifted until Mile 11 when I saw my friend Barb who yelled, “Move your ass Bitch!” (I specifically asked my friends to insult me that year. It’s part of my masochistic nature.)

One of my Favorite Race Day Signs Ever - Photo by Jeff Moriarty

One of my Favorite Race Day Signs Ever – Photo by Jeff Moriarty

Even when I don’t recognize the people who are watching us run, it means so much that they came out to support us. I love reading all the funny signs that people make and seeing the volunteers who dress up in funny outfits. It’s mutual people watching. It’s fun to watch runners who wear costumes or running shirts with clever sayings on them. Quite a few people put their name on their shirt so you can cheer for them by name if you want. This year we had the option to customize part of our race bibs. Mine says “First Marathon.”

The 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona race routes will cross Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Wherever you live, you should be able to get to a portion of the race relatively easily. If you’re going to be on the marathon route and you want to make my race, make me a sign that says “Go Baby Duck!” Baby Duck was one of the nicknames my late coach called me. This will only be my second race since his passing. That would make me happier then having people insult me.

To everyone who has ever driven a runner to their starting line, made a sign, or cheered them on along the way, thank you for your support. It makes a big difference having you there.

Race Day Neuroticism

I got in email last week from somebody asking me to share my race day routine. I love the whole gestalt of doing races – the excitement, the comradery of all the participants and volunteers, and pushing yourself to be your best.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

I’ll be the first person to admit that I can be a bit neurotic, and so part of my race day routine is all about making sure I am aware of where I need to be, when I need to be there, and with all my gear. My race day routine actually begins a few days before the race when I go shopping for the food I’m going to eat the days before the race. I also print out my confirmation form for the race and alter the waiver so that the organizers can be held responsible if they negligently cause me to be injured during the race. (What can I say? I’m a lawyer.)

The day before the race is the expo where I pick up my race packet, and that’s when I usually start feeling really excited about the race. I love talking to my fellow racers and the vendors about running. I usually grab a few samples of products and I get my legs taped up with KT Tape.

When I get home, I get super organized so I can be ready for race day. I lay out my clothes for the race and pay in my race bib to my shirt. I put everything I will want to have after the race that I can in my gear check bag and I make a list of the things I need to remember to throw in my bag before I leave for the race. (I warned you I’m neurotic.) I try to get everything prepared for the race that I can – even things like having my coffee cup and the toaster out so I can make breakfast that much faster on race morning.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Post-Race

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Post-Race

The night before the race I usually treat myself to a big plate of pasta with veggies and chicken and I try to go to bed early. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon starts at 7:30 am, so that means I have to be awake, dressed, and get to my light rail station probably by 6:30. I’ll probably set my alarm for 4:45 just to make sure I have enough time to do everything.

Race day itself is always exhilarating. I’m always a bundle of energy as I force myself to eat a bagel and a banana and get some coffee in my bloodstream and get myself to the starting line. In the starting line area, I stretch out my legs and 20 minutes before the race starts, I down 2 ibuprofens and a 5 Hour Energy. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to take painkillers before the race, but that’s always been my pattern.

When my corral is that the starting line, I put my ear buds in my ears and turned on my race day play list of high energy music. My rules for most races are (1) Don’t stop and (2) Don’t die. It’s a pretty low bar to clear.

Bad Customer Service from Office Max

Holy crap, I had awful customer service from OfficeMax recently. I went to their store because I needed furniture for my new office and lawyers get a discount through the Arizona State Bar. I was there on a Friday late morning, and there was almost nobody in the store. As I perused the desks and chairs, no clerks came up to ask me if they could help. I wondered if they didn’t think I could afford their furniture or if I just wasn’t worth waiting on because I was wearing baggy jeans and a zippy.

I selected a desk and a desk chair and went to the front of the store and asked if I could place the order. I informed her that I was short on time because I had a lunch obligation that day, and I was willing to come back if that would be better. She said she could help me right then. She entered my order into the computer and directed me to her counterpart when I said I wanted to arrange to have the desk assembled for me. He looked at the schedule and said the earliest availability wasn’t for 2 weeks. I let him know that I would like to be put on the waiting list (if they had one) in case an earlier slot opened up.

I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call a few days later letting me know that my delivery was coming. My delivery was scheduled for Thursday afternoon between 1:30 and 3:30. I arrived at the office just before 1 o’clock so I could be there to meet the delivery people; however when I walked in the door, our receptionist informed me that the delivery people had come and gone. I was impressed by how swiftly they worked, until I looked in my office and saw my desk, unassembled, still in the box, on the floor.

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Desk in a Box

 

I called the delivery company to report the problem and they said I had to call the store where I place my order. The clerk who answered the phone informed me that they use different companies to deliver and to assemble products. It’s not uncommon for products to be delivered days before the assembly team is scheduled to come out and put them together. (That would have been helpful information to give me when I placed the order.) He said that the time I booked was the earliest they could get out to assemble my desk.

Are you fucking kidding me? I can’t believe this guy didn’t fully explain their delivery and assembly procedures to me, and that he didn’t offer to do anything to remedy the situation. I was under the impression that I would have a fully assembled desk that day based on the idea that I’d be working in my office and available to see clients. At that point it seemed like my options were to wait 8 days for my previously scheduled assembly appointment or put together my desk myself and get a refund on the assembly service. It’s a heavy desk with a lot of pieces, but I was stubborn and pissed off, so I opened the box and started putting it together. One of my office mates helped when I needed an extra pair of hands.

My New Desk

My New Desk

On that Thursday afternoon I managed to get through steps 1-8 (out of 20). Thank goodness the instructions were relatively easy to follow. I returned to the office early Friday morning and finished putting together my desk around 12:30. When we put the top on the desk, which until then had always been top-down on the floor or in the box, we noticed it had a dent and a crack. I went back to OfficeMax to get my refund for the assembly fee and hopefully an additional partial refund for delivering a damaged desk, but I was told they couldn’t do the refund unless I had the receipt. How is it possible for a business to operate this way? Shouldn’t this information already be in their computers? Shouldn’t the clerk have told me this when I called the previous day?

Damaged Desktop

Damaged Desktop

I went back again on Saturday with my receipt and within minutes the clerk refunded the assembly price and gave me a $50 refund for the damaged desk (~20% of the price I paid). He seemed pretty sullen. I think he knew he screwed up.