Fresh air

I loved the feeling of freedom in running, the fresh air, the feeling that the only person I’m competing with is me. -Wilma Rudolph, four time olympic gold medal runner

Wilma is one smart cookie, and could not be more right–fresh air rocks. After working two fourteen hour days at the hospital, the sun is shining, the air is crisp, and despite only getting four hours of sleep last night, the place where I want to be is outside. And, of course, the place I currently live is not the most friendly running area–some roads have no shoulder whatsoever, the cars drive fast, and since I’ve been here, have found it hard to find places to run (biking is another story). Due to this dilemma, I’ve been traveling across the river (the big ol’ Hudson river) to Ulster County, and the New York State Park’s and Preserves over there. I’ve spent many hours in the Catskills and Shawangunk Mountains, running and climbing.

I find trail running more enticing than simply running along a road passing cars, not because I tend to trip over roots and rocks quicker than you can say 1-2-3, but because I find trail running more challenging. When you run in the woods, it’s just you, bugs, bears and rattlesnakes, and the trees. No toxic car fumes to inhale–only the sweet, pure air of Upstate New York.

Ahhh.

If you are serious about trail running, it might be a good idea to look into shoes that are designed for trails. These running sneakers are sturdier than road shoes, waterproof (usually Goretex), and may have a reinforced toe, to save your toes from all the rocks you kick and trip over. I personally have Salomon’s XA Pro 3D Ultra for my trail runs and let me tell you, you can trip and fall over all the rocks and roots you want, and your toes will be intact by the end of the two-hour fall-fest. Plus, they have the elastic laces. So if you are lazy like me, just tug on the elastic and presto–the shoes are snug around your foot!

Praise be to the inventor of the trail running shoe.

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Swiss Army Knife

“You’re like the Swiss Army knife of nursing.”

My friend once compared critical care nursing to swiss army  knives: the critical care nurse is trained to do basically, everything. The critical care nurse is trained in telemetry, may be required to make life and death decisions until a physician appears, acts as a PACU nurse, and knows how to manipulate minute details that can change a patient’s condition. The nurse acts a patient advocate as most patients are vented, sedated, and unable to speak up for themselves, is there with the family when the patient does not make it.  The ICU nurse is expected to be able to float to other areas of the hospital- the ER, med-surg floors, same day surgery, and have atleast some idea of what to do. She pushes medications during resuscitation when a patient is coding, may be needed to make life/death decisions if no physicians are available.

The ICU nurse is able to juggle a post-op patient whose condition is deteriorating faster than you can count to twenty, another patient who has both an ALine and CVP monitoring and on drips to keep their blood pressure from plummeting, and deal with the psychiatric patient arousing after being given Narcan, trying to escape from the floor, and  starting fights with the biggest male nurses on staff. The ICU nurse is on her feet for 13, or 14 hours, helping his or her fellow colleagues when they need a hand, and chugs a mug full of stale coffee at 1800, thinking it tastes “fabulous and fresh” becasuse she or he has not had an hydration since coming on in the morning. The ICU nurse is rarely heard complaining, is not afraid to ask for help or speak up, and is a vital member of the team. What do you need? Alcohol pads? Tape? Scissors? Flushes? Gauze? Flashlight? Stopcocks? Ask me–I have my pockets stocked with supplies.

He was right. A critical care nurse is the Swiss Army knife of nurses.

…And that’s what I am.

Care to sit down for two seconds?

I just realized the other posts on my blog are all about sports. But, it’s also about starting off in the ICU. For of those of you that don’t know, an intensive care unit is a unit were acutely ill patients go for care. They are the real sick ones who have either had cardiac arrests before, or will have one on the unit, or have so many differing issues relating to various organs which seem to be going into failure. The population I work with is mostly in their 70’s and above. Occasionally I’ve seen patients who are in their 30’s, and rarely in their 20’s. I must admit it can be slighly….ehh….uncomfotable taking care of someone the same age as you, who has gone into multiple system failure, vented and trached, PEG tube in place, and having multiple other issues. It definitely puts life into perspective.

Many of the patients are on various fluids and electrolyte replacement, and continuous medication infusions which you monitor like a hawk because we titrate the medication according to certain responses we want. For example if a person has too high of a blood pressure, we start him on a nitroglycerine drip and in small increments, increase the dosing as it correlates with the person’s blood pressure. And increase in nitroglycerine should decrease blood pressure.

I have 2-3 patient assignment loads, which is a lot for the nurse-patient ration (which should technically be staff ratio of 1:2 But with the lack of appropriate staffing, it seems that the number of patients each nurse accepts is on the rise, which I feel is dangerous. Every person on the unit is in critical condition, and being short-staffed increases risks of errors.

I had a two patient assignment, one was vented and had a new tracheostomy and going to get a PEG placement next week (a PEG tube goes straight into the stomach, instead of a nasogastric tube, that  goes in down through the nasal cavity, down the esophagus, and into the stomach.) And the other had blood pressure issues, so I had to closely monitor the vasopressor drip he was on. His lab values and electrolytes were all out of whack, so we were constantly replacing him with more electrolyte solutions, redrawing labs to see how the replacements had helped him, and keeping him sedated. Furthermore, he had horrible weeping skin tears, so I was changing his dressings every couple hours.  Aie. He was a mess.

Our shift starts at 0700 in the morning, and supposed to end by 1930. But it’s rare to leave before 8. And yesterday, with all the new issues popping up with my one gentleman, and my other new post-op trach patient becomming increasingly aggitated, I don’t think I sat down for more than 5 minutes the whole shift (and those 5 minutes were scarfing down my lunch).

Who has time to sit when you’re in and out of patients rooms, checking them every five to fifteen minutes, re-assessing, changing their positioning, and titrating drips which are hanging?

That’s why a good pair of shoes is vital.

The triathlete and the frog

A man was out jogging in the forest one day when a frog called out to him and said, “If you kiss me I’ll turn into a beautiful princess.”

He bent over, picked up the frog, and put it in his pocket.

The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will tell everyone how smart and brave you are and how you are my hero.”

The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and returned it to his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said, “If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I’ll stay with you for a year and do ANYTHING you want.”

Again the man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.
Finally the frog asked, “What’s the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, that I’ll stay with you for a year and do anything you want. Why won’t you kiss me?”

The man replied, “Look, I’m a Triathlete. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool.”

I found this post funny even though I am not a guy, the same applies for females. Plus, I have hundreds of little frogs that live in a small lake behind my house. Cute as buttons, and was reminded of them when a friend sent this joke to me. Training takes up a lot of time. So does my work. I work three 12hr shifts a week, and they are long days. I also have classes that I need to take for my job. All the other days I have off  I am either doing more preparation for work, running,  biking or hiking or doing some sort of physical activity. Someone asked why I don’t have a boyfriend (my family is notorious for asking that, “Any boys yet?” Drives me nuts.) Yeah, I’d like to have a man become a part of my life, but right now, I completely relate to the triathlete. Between all my long rides and long runs,  and the long hours spent at the hospital, I simply don’t have the time. “I’m sorry, I can’t go out tonight–I need to wake up early for a run tomorrow–” perfect example of what I’m known to say to friends and family. Furthermore, I’ve found other athletes to have done the same thing. Training for races really does become somewhat life-absorbing, and, addicting to a point. Although not the bad-type of addiction.

So, Mr. Frog, you’ll be staying in my pocket for right now.

Gu, anyone?

Everywhere you look, literature revolving around the subject of supplements can be found. Sports literature, whether it be online, in magazines, or the ancient paperback books, has a plethora of information on what to consume during a long workout. A friend of mine introduced me to energy gels a couple months ago. These gels contain the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, and are easily digested by the body. From my research, depending on the brand, they usually contain about 100-140 calories, electrolytes such as sodium and potassium (which are quickly depleted from the body if you sweat a lot like yours truly),  and contain 8-10% carbs, which is needed by the muscles to function. I’m saving you from my nursing/scientific explanation of what exactly the carbs do.

The gel packets are small, easy to carry in a pocket, and come in different flavors. All the major brands which produce energy bars, such as PowerBar, Cliffbar,etc., now have energy gels. I must admit after trying my first Gu on our run, I did feel a bit of a jolt of energy, but I felt as if I was trying to swallow strawberry cream frosting.

I am not a frosting person.

It is vital, however, to replace what you lose on a long run. Some runners find when their sodium levels (basically, salt) drop, they have more muscle cramping. If you are similar to me and don’t have the palate for uber-sweet frosting like food, perhaps fill up one of your water bottles with an electrolyte containing fluid. I won’t go into sports drinks, because hydration is a whole other post in itself. Although, I tend to only drink water on my runs, again, because I dislike sweet things.

Nowadays, to go with the gel, there are also sports energy jelly beans which are easy to carry on a run and pop in your mouth. I believe Jelly Belly makes a sports jelly bean. Go ahead, take a guess as to whether or not I like jelly beans.

The main point here is, if you are exercising more than 60minuntes (depending on what source you read), your body needs some sort of replenishment, and there are plenty of options out there you can try.

As for me, I’m still trying to figure out what to snack on.

Sole, sole sad

What the bottom of your sneaker should NOT look like.

The Biker Tan

No, I’m not talking about the bikers who ride around on Harley Davidson’s sporting nothing but black leather and fringed jackets, revving their engines and turning everyone in the community deaf. I’m talking about cyclists, in their gloves, Pearl Izumi shorts and tight, form fitting jerseys. Baggy shirt thats a size too big while riding? Absurd! That article of clothing is not at all aerodynamic–all it does is flap around in the wind, slowing the rider down. Have you ever seen a professional  road race with the cyclists wearing cargo shorts?

This post is not about cycling attire, though. (Don’t worry, I’ll touch upon that subject another time.) This post is about the sun and tans. I admit that I used to be “that person,” you know,  the one who never exited the building without slathering on enough SPF 150 sunscreen to coat all of Luxembourg’s army. As of late, however, I have been slacking in my sun protection, and it’s noticable. I now have the visible “biker tan”: a tan extending from mid-bicep  down to the wrist, and then from the thighs to the ankles. My hands and torso are two shades lighter than the rest of my body. Boy, am I relieved there’s no bikini wearing in my immediate future.

When riding, or running, it’s vital to wear some sort of sunscreen. Even though the majority of Americans today lack sufficient Vitamin D, there continues to be a high risk of cancer associated with prolonged sun exposure. According to the American Melanoma Foundation, dermatologists recommend the use of sunscreen with a SPF of atleast 15 be worn year-round to protect from harmful UV rays.

You may notice I make numerous references to the Tour de France. I’m not sure if you are familiar with the event, but just a FYI, it’s the Superbowl and World Cup combined of the cycling world. On the last stage of the 2010 TdF, members of the American team were caught by officials not wearing their appropriate jerseys and bib numbers (I still cringe when I think of that). The team members were told to switch into their registered team jerseys. So, to be kept from being disqualified from the race, the Americans did what they were told. When they switched jerseys, it was hard to ignore the well-defined  biker tan lines on their biceps…

…And incredibly muscular biker bodies.

Turtle Awareness in Dutchess County

I happened to pass this sign on Mill Road on my ride today, right after passing a squished turtle. I’m glad to know there is some attempt to save turtles in Dutchess County.

Some people have babies…I have bikes

Well, for the first time in four days, there is no sign of rain, and the sun decided to make itself known to us again! And you know what that means: bike ride and run in dry conditions!

A couple weeks ago I signed up to do the 2nd annual Vassar medical Center Tri/Duathlon down in LaGrange, New York. I told you a goal of mine is to complete a triathlon, so competing in duathlons is my way of “babystepping” to triathlons. I completed my first duathlon in July which was incredible. Ohh, FYI, in a duathlon, you run, then bike, then run again–unlike triathlons which have swim-bike-run. In this event, the run will be 1mile, followed by 14 miles of biking, then a 3 mile run. Does not sound too bad. However, I am notorious for not training for long distance events. But I am actually trying to get my body a tad bit prepared for this event. I purchased a new Scott road bike last week in preparation for the race, and it really is a beautiful bike. I consider it my baby. Some people in their 20’s, 30’s, and more often nowadays 40’s, decide to have children and start familes. I on the other hand, just purchase really amazing bikes (if you are a cycling enthusiast and watched the Tour De France, Cavendish won the last stage of the tour on a Scott).

It’s a Scott CR1 Team road bike. Carbon Fiber. Light. Fast. Yes, it really is a beauty, isn’t it? Eventually my drooling with stop.

Proper duathlon training encompasses weekly rides and runs, of various distances, starting weeks before the actual race. This type of training is similar to that of running races. I know this because I have started numerous training plans for marathons I have run, but never actually continued to follow the plan for more than a couple weeks. Either work or some other excuse would arise. Starting today, though, I’m back on the plan, which means bike ride with my baby, and run.

I am also going to re-start my training for a marathon I signed up for September 26th and I have a feeling I will die completing it. I told myself after running two marathons in the past without training, that this one would be different: I would be prepared. I would follow a training schedule. And that is what I began to do a couple months ago. Follow a training plan (which I’ll post later). But the training candle kind of fizzled out once I started work. How hard can another marathon be? Piece of cake, right?

Secretly, I am terrified.

And for you readers, please consult your physician before doing any type of strenuous activity to make sure you have no known medical conditions which might be affected by your new athletic regime. Furthermore, do NOT follow my non-training training. NOT training for athletic events is stupid and you can do quite a bit of damage to your body. Train. Train. Train. Get your body used to the activity. It will reduce the risk of harm. Trust me, I know.

Wet Run…

Trail running in a sudden downpour–the paths turn into streams–and your Asics get a little wet….

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