Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Stroll for Strong Kids

Good morning, I realize it's been about two and a half weeks since my last post. Let's just say, once I was able to drive again, I've been on the go! My Stroll for Strong Kids recap is long over due, and I feel terrible that I have not posted this yet because it is my favorite event of the year. I will also update you on how recovery has been going the past few weeks.

As you know, I had my open heart surgery at the Golisano Children's Hospital at the end of April, I've actually had all of my surgeries there. This hospital holds a special place in my heart (literally) because they've done so much for me and my family. Every year I fundraise for the Children's Hospital and the Stroll for Strong Kids. The funds raised over the past several years have gone to the construction of the brand new Children's Hospital which is set to open next month! I had a tour of the new facilities a few weeks ago, and to say it is beautiful is an understatement! I will fill you in on that in another post though.

I woke up Saturday May 30th, and it was a beautiful day! We've been very fortunate the past few years that the weather for the stroll has been phenomenal! Nita met my mom and me at my house, and I drove because the Stroll is held in a park close to my home. We headed up to the Stroll around 7:45 AM so we could hit up the Sandy Store before the 5K and stock up on Sandy apparel before it got picked over. Every year I spend hundreds of dollars at the Sandy Store, and this year was no exception. I purchased 5 Sandy Under Armour shirts, and a Sandy key ring! Nita and I ventured back to my car to take care of our purchases, and once we got back to the park it was almost time for the 5K to start.

Nita and I met my mom near the back of the pack, and we also saw some familiar faces from back home. Mom and I both set our watches, that way if we got separated we would have our own times, etc.

(Before the Stroll 5K!)

The race started, and mom and I stuck together for about a mile and a half before I started to pull away from her. I had my timer set for a 1 minute run to 1 minute walk interval. I was feeling pretty good, and I kept trucking along the course. There were some areas of the course that had no shade, and no breeze, and that was hard, there were also a few times where I would run 1 minute and walk 2 minutes. Before I knew it, I was turning the corner to the last 1/10th of the race. I jogged along the course and made my way towards finish. I saw Nita cheering near the finish line, and she snapped a picture of me!

(Rocking recovering and running towards the finish - 5 weeks post-op!)

I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I had finished in just over 39 minutes, I'll take it!! Yes, I have some work to do, but considering I had just finished my 2nd post-op 5K, I was really happy (and I wasn't last)!! Mom wasn't too far behind me, so after she finished we walked back over to the center of the park to enjoy the festivities.

The Stroll itself started at 10:30 am, so we watched the start of the stroll. There were so many teams there to celebrate different Strong Kids. Families there to celebrate their child being healthy, to celebrate their children's life, and even to celebrate having such an amazing Children's Hospital right in our back yard. So many smiles and tears. After the stroll started we walked over to the Abbott's truck to get some ice cream (yes, dessert first). We ate our ice cream, then got temporary Sandy tattoos and a Sandy sticker. After that, the food tent had opened and we grabbed a bite to eat before all the strollers finished.

After we finished eating, we walked over to watch the stroll participants finish. Luckily, we saw our friend, Mel, so of course we had to get a picture of the 3 of us together!

(Yay for friends!)

After we saw Mel, we decided to make our way back to the car to head out. On our way out, Nita and I noticed there were some children coloring on the side of a Lexus in the center of the park. We stopped to watch for a minute, and a woman monitoring the car asked us if we wanted to color. Of course!! Nita and I go way back with coloring, so we grabbed a handful of crayons, and the woman pointed us to some open flowers on the front of the car.

(Oh, you know, just coloring a Lexus, no big deal)

(Our work of art!)

We asked about the Lexus, and how it ended up at the Stroll. We were told that Lexus donated the car to the cause for the kids to color. There were certain areas of the Lexus that were able to be colored, as it had a film covering the car. We were also told that the car would be making its way around the area, then it would eventually be covered with a coating so that the color would not come off. Finally, it sounds like the car will be auctioned off at the Children's Hospital Gala this coming fall! Very cool! After we finished coloring we made our way to get a few goofy pictures at the photo booth and then made our way back to the car to head out.

It was another successful year for the Stroll, and no matter what happens I always have a blast at this event. This year was even more special to me because I was actually able to participate despite the fact that I was recovering from my open heart surgery (and I was feeling great)! I owe many thanks to the amazing surgeons, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, patient care techs, and any and all staff involved in my care while I was in the hospital recovering. There's still time to donate to the Children's Hospital, if you're interested you can go to my fundraising page and donate now!

Post-Op Recovery Update:

I'm now 7 and a half weeks post-op, and things are still going well. I still have aches and pains that come and go. Currently I'm dealing with quite a bit of mid-sternal pain which I'm sure is due to the activity from this past weekend. I went to my friends for dinner Friday evening and was lifting her nearly 2 year old son. My muscles are not used to doing any type of lifting over the past 8 weeks, so I'm definitely paying for that. Saturday morning, I met my co-worker Linda to bike to canal path. We ended up biking close to 10 miles, and that felt great, but I have a feeling I'm paying for that as well.

I'm also going back to work this coming Monday (June 22nd)! It's hard to believe, but yes my 8 weeks of recovering at home are coming to an end. It went fast, especially these last few weeks that I've been back at my home. I'm nervous to return, and feel like I need to study to go back! Everyone assures me that it comes right back, I'm hoping they're right.

QOTD: Do you have a special event that you look forward to every year? (Running or not running)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Color Run Recap

As of yesterday, I am officially 6 weeks post op, and starting to feel more and more like myself each day. I'll get to that in a bit, but first I want to recap the color run that I wasn't even going to participate in. So as you my have already read, I was back at my house for Memorial Day weekend. My parents went to Canada, and so they dropped me off at my house. I still was unable to drive, so my friend, Melissa, so kindly picked me up to take me to the color run so I could see all my coworkers.

I had registered for the color run earlier in the year thinking that my surgery was going to be sooner than it was, so I honestly wasn't planning on running it anymore. The morning of the color run was sunny, but very cool, so I threw on a pair of my running tights, a long sleeve tee and a jacket to ensure that I would be warm enough watching my friends from the sidelines. Melissa, Sam and their friend picked me up around 7:30 and we were headed to the run. There was so much traffic, but that provided a lot of time for us to catch up. Once we finally got there and got parked, we met up with some of our friends. My friend Angie was already at the race, but no one could get ahold of her, so I was hoping we'd run into her at some point during the after party.

(Melissa and me before the run!)

I still wasn't planning on running, but Melissa asked me to run with her. Luckily, the week prior at my 3 week follow-up appointment my doctor said I could start working on my cardiovascular endurance. As you know I had been going for walks with my mom. So I agreed to do the run with Melissa, and we decided that we would do intervals. We joined the sea of people in the start corral at the race and slowly made our way to the front, and then we were off.

(The group before the race)

We started off slow and to the side of the course so the faster runners could get past us. This was my first time running since my surgery, so I was not out to break any records, and to be honest, I was worried how it was going to go. Before I knew it we were rounding the corner and running into the first color station. I was feeling great so far which was exciting considering surgery was a month prior, and I could remember a time when just walking around my house would increase my heart rate to >110 BPM.

We took our time doing run and walk intervals as we both needed them, and it was a lot of fun! It gave Melissa and I plenty of time to catch up, and I could hear about what was new at work. We rounded a corner, and started heading up a hill to a point where the race doubled back and we passed runners who were on their way back towards the finish. As luck would have it, I was watching the runners coming down the hill on the other side of the road and I saw Angie! I shrieked, "ANGIE!" She stopped in her tracks and I gave her a hug. I know I surprised her, I could tell by the look on her face. Melissa and I continued on, as I looked back and saw Angie giving me a look... A look of confusion. I would explain to her later, but I was so excited to literally "run into her". 

Melissa and I made our way through the course getting splashed with color, and it started to warm up. I had to admit, I was feeling great, and it really surprised me! It also seems like every year they change the course a little for the color run, which keeps it exciting. We were about a quarter mile from the finish, and a guy passed us holding a condiment bottle with orange corn starch in it. He looked us and said, "Oh hey, girls!" And then sprayed us with more orange color! Haha! We finally made it to the finish where they were throwing glitter on all the finishers. We made our way through the finishing chute, received our medals and each a bag of glitter and color to throw at the after party. Then weaved our way to the water table. It wasn't long before our friends finished, and we celebrated together by throwing our packets of color. 

Shortly thereafter, Angie did track me down and I was able to catch up with her, and explain why she saw me on the course.

We hung around the finishers party for about an hour before we decided to head out. By this time it was beautiful out, clear blue without a cloud in the sky!

6 Weeks Post Op:

It's hard to believe it's been 6 weeks since my surgery, the time has really flown by! Like I said, I'm feeling a little more like myself with each day. I still have some pain, but it's better than it was when I reported 2 weeks ago. The majority of the pain I have is on my right side in my pectorals. It's still a little painful to lay on my right side in bed, but I can for awhile. My incision is looking even better, and I think the Mederma may be helping. I've also been using the Mederma on the spot where they had an arterial line in my arm, and it's helped to reduce the appearance of where the sutures held the line in.

In other great news, I am also back at my home! I was given the go ahead to start driving again last Thursday! I'm not allowed to take long trips, but this works for me. As long as I can drive around town to do the things I need to do, that makes me happy. I'm slowly getting my independence back. I still have a few questions for my doctor which I will email in about this coming week. For now, I'm feeling pretty good, and happy things are progressing.

QOTD: Have you run a Color Run with friends? Do you have a favorite race you like to run with a group of friends?