Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.


New kicks!

The boys are happily building their new Lego sets.

Guess what? Santa even brings toys for runners! Perhaps a review will have to be written after I try them out…


The children were nestled all snug in their beds…

What are you dreaming of tonight?


Happy Holidays, everyone.

Winter reflections

Winter is my favorite time to run. I love running after a snow, when everything is cloaked in white. It’s peaceful and quiet. The snow muffles sounds, even my footsteps feel lighter.

I love running in the cold, too. No sweat-fest, a winter run is spent trying to warm up my body. It’s usually a mile or two before I even start to feel warm. And when I do, it’s such a stark contrast. I’m running, in the snow, breath making frosty clouds, and yet I’m unzipping my jacket and removing my gloves. I love the feeling of warmth paired with with the chill of the air on my skin.

Once in a rare while, I get the opportunity to be the first runner on the path after a snow. It’s a bit surreal to be breaking the first footprints into the fresh snow. To think that I’m the first one to be out there is a pretty sweet feeling (and not one I get to experience very often). I’m running alongside the tracks of the rabbits and other critters, with not a shoe print to be seen.

It’s a run like this that make me remember just why I love to run.

What’s your favorite running season? Do you like the cold?


I know I haven’t been posting much lately, and I’ll probably say that again for a while.  (Our LEGO team made it to State = another month of practices)

But, in light of what happened a week ago in Connecticut, writing about my successes, troubles and concerns just doesn’t seem important.  I have boys that are in kindergarten and second grade.  For the last week all I can do is think about how lucky I am that they come home every night.  When I’m annoyed or frustrated with them, I remember that at least they are here to annoy and frustrate me.

There are 20 families who would give anything to be in my shoes right now.   I know that, and it’s humbling.

What happened in Connecticut was senseless.  Some have said unimaginable, but, sadly, it’s not that impossible to imagine.  That’s part of what haunts me, imagining what those beautiful children experienced.  But my heart keeps turning back, not to those children, but to their parents.  I just can’t comprehend how anyone could look at a 6 year old and pull the trigger.

A week later, I still find myself with tears in my eyes if I think about it too much.  I’ve avoided all the TV coverage, because I honestly can’t think of a reason why it would be healthy or informative for me to hear all the gory details over and over again.

I’m here planning for Christmas, wrapping presents (actually I haven’t started yet…) and thinking of the future.  20 families are looking at their child’s Christmas presents that won’t ever be opened (6 more families are probably doing the same thing for the adults who were killed).

My kids aren’t affected.  They asked me what happened and I told them the truth, without embellishment or extra emotion.

“A man went into a school with a gun.”

“Did he shoot people?”

“Yes, he did.”

“Did he shoot any kids?”

“Yes, he did.”

That was all they asked.  Later my kindergartner asked what the name of the school was, and where it is located.  But that was all.  I told them if they ever have any questions, to just ask me and I’ll answer as honestly as I can.  I’m glad that they aren’t overly curious, although I’m a bit surprised at that.

Yesterday we had a big snow storm.  The school let out a bit earlier than normal, and due to the weather I wasn’t sure when the bus would make it home.  I was a bit anxious waiting for them to get home; I knew the roads were treacherous, having just driven home on them myself.  I couldn’t help but think at the same time how incredibly lucky I am, how blessed my life, that the biggest concern of the day was what time my kids’ bus would get home.

My heart is whole, but it aches for those who are enduring the worst pain a parent could suffer.  I can’t imagine anything as horrible as what they must be feeling.  Each night I hug my babies a bit tighter, knowing that I can never predict what the next day will bring.

I don’t even know how to end this post.  I can’t say something uplifting, like “there are 20 new angels in heaven.”  I am sitting here staring at the screen, waiting for the right words to appear.

But there are no right words for this emotion.  No way to right this wrong.

It’s just senseless.

Control Freaks


So, folks, once again I have been fairly absent from the blog-o-sphere.

I have a good excuse, I swear! See this little guy? He’s a Lego Mindstorms robot, and he requires a lot of attention.

Why? Because he is going to a competition on Saturday! I am mentoring a team of 10 fifth graders this year on their FIRST Lego league team. We’ve been working really hard to get this robot finished, and to make him do the things that the team wants him to do. Our team is designing all the arms and attachments for the robot, as well as writing programs to make the robot accomplish tasks on the game table.

We’ve also been working really hard on our team project.

These kids blow me away. They are fifth graders, and their ability to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions is just incredible.

I can’t wait to go to competition Saturday and watch them enjoy the experience. They are going to do great!

Go Control Freaks!

how easy it is…(Stem Cell Donation) – Part 2

Okay. Here we are, back to the story. Click Here to read Part 1.

If you’re just getting to this story, you might want to catch up by reviewing these posts (there’s a lot more you’ve missed, but this will give you the main points of the story). The complete list of posts is available here, as I’ve tagged them all with the same category name.

Here are the highlights, in order:


When I left off on Part 1, I had just slept 10 hours in the hotel, getting ready for Day 5, the “Donation Day.”

Day 5.

We woke up early, knowing that we were going to be met in the hotel lobby at 7:00 am to walk over to the hospital for the donation. I got up and dressed in my best yoga pants (!), preparing for the likelihood that I would be in a hospital bed unable to get up or move for most of the day. We walked down to the lobby and over to Starbucks, where I tried to eat some oatmeal and drink some juice, but my nervous stomach wanted nothing to do with it. So I sipped on the juice, nibbled on the oatmeal, and tried not to think about anything. (It didn’t work.)

Promptly at 7:00 am, a nurse from the hospital walked into the lobby, picked up me and my husband, and also another man waiting in the lobby. It turns out he was coming in that day to donate bone marrow. The nurse walked him to another part of the hospital while we waited, and then took us upstairs to get ready. In a small room, I met with the doctor who would be overseeing my procedure. She then gave me my last two shots of filgrastim. Then, the nurse inserted a needle into my left forearm and drew a few more vials of blood, while the doctor worked on distracting me by showing me things out the window (she knew I was nervous I’d get sick since I threw up the last time they had drawn blood…). Then, using the same needle he had used to draw blood, he connected an IV saline drip and I was set.

We then walked downstairs, to the actual donation room. I’ll admit, it was underwhelming. Three beds lined up, each next to an apheresis machine. The apherisis machine is a machine that draws blood from a donor, then separates out the “desired” portion of the blood (in this case it is stem cells) and returns the rest of the blood to the body. I was justifiably nervous about this part. Having never experienced it before, I was not sure what to expect, or how I would react.

As the extra liter of fluids continued to drip into me, I made sure to hit the restroom one last time (this would be the second time since reaching the hospital, but it made no difference…I’ll explain later). Then the nurse in the donation room started to hook me up to the machine. In order to draw my blood, she had to insert another needle, this time in my right arm, inside my elbow. And oddly enough, I was completely calm.

Before I knew it, she had connected all the tubes, and she turned on the machine. I watched my blood flow up the tube across my chest, and felt, well, nothing. Really. I watched my blood flow out of my body and did not, for a second, feel ill. That alone amazed me.

After the process started, I knew I was in for a long wait. I was not going to be able to move my right arm until the procedure had completed – and I had been told to prepare for 6-8 hours in that bed. So, of course, about 20 minutes after the procedure started, I started to feel like I had to pee. I tried to hold it as long as I could, but they had already started the second liter of saline in my IV, and my body just can’t handle that much fluid. So, how exactly does one go to the bathroom when you can’t get out of bed or move your right arm? It’s quite lovely. It’s this fantastic contraption called a bedpan.

There you have it, folks. The bedpan was the most exciting part of the donation process. The most difficult too. Have you ever tried to put on your pants with one hand while lying in bed? Without moving the other arm? It’s almost impossible. And guess what? I got to do it twice. Apparently they were so impressed by my ability to NOT hold fluids that they continued to pump me full of them. Fun stuff.

The only other remotely exciting part of the process was when the machine would start to beep at me. You see, if it isn’t drawing blood well enough, it beeps to alert the nurse. Then she would come over, check the machine, and if it wouldn’t resolve, she’d have to adjust the needle in my arm, the angle of the bed, or the position of my arm. This happened quite a few times, and so I ended up almost flat on my back with my arm in a very particular position in order to make the machine happy.,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg

The rest of the process involved me watching daytime TV, including shows I would never watch if at home. I also read most of an amazing book – Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. This book was so good that I read it late into the night the next evening and woke up early the next morning and read some more. I highly recommend it. As I was reading it, I kept thinking, “There is no way I could make up this story, and yet it’s true!” I promise, runners and WWII buffs alike (and I am both of those) will enjoy it. I literally could not put it down until I finished it, and it was a long book.

Although I prepared for 6-8 hours of donation, I was actually done in a little over 5. Surprisingly enough, my body was really good at making stem cells, so there were plenty of them to harvest. I felt great at the end of it all, too. I watched the nurse shut off the machine and get my stem cells ready to send to the patient. As she was labeling and sealing up the stem cells, she told me that immediately after she had them ready, that someone would be by to pick them up. Then, a person escorts them directly to the patient (the same person stays with them until they are delivered to the patient). They were to be given to the patient within 24 hours. This was when it really hit me that it had happened, and I cried a bit. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a lady came by to pick them up and get them on their way.

Before they took the stem cells, my husband took a picture of me with them. See that bag of cranberry-colored stuff on my chest? Those are my stem cells, ready to be transplanted. In the back of the picture you can see the apheresis machine.

After the donation!

After the donation!

After I ate some food and got my instructions, we were discharged and got back to the hotel around 4 pm. It was early, but oddly enough, after spending the majority of the day in bed, I still kind of wanted to lay down and rest. We did just that for an hour or so, but soon I felt good enough to go out to dinner with my husband and do some walking around.

The thing that struck me most about the whole process was that, literally hours after the donation completed, the thing I wanted most in the world was to have a chance to do it again. I know the odds are slim that I would ever be a match for another patient, but given the opportunity, I would not hesitate to do this again. There’s always a chance that this patient may need a second transplant, and I am ready to donate again for her.

The day after the donation I felt almost completely normal. I still had a dull headache and slight backache, but even that was gone by the following day. The doctor had warned me that due to the extra blood thinners they give during the donation process and the fact that platelets are removed with stem cells (they are similar in density so they are filtered out with the stem cells), I would be prone to bleeding and bruising for a while. So, I wasn’t allowed to shave or do anything strenuous for a few days in order to reduce the risk of injury.

Now, a few weeks after donating, I feel fine. I am back to running (although taking most of the month of November off has left me needing to rebuild my endurance), and I am having absolutely no side effects. It’s almost like it never happened.

So there it is. The whole process. My stem cells have now been in the patient for almost two weeks. I had a dream a few nights ago that everything was okay, and that she was already showing signs of recovery. Of course I have no way of knowing that, since I won’t receive any information about the patient for a while. According to the information I received, it can be 100 days or longer for the recovery process. So I will hope for the best, and wait for news of her condition.

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