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10 Things I Learned During My Week at Cleveland Clinic

I don’t normally apologize for my lack of posting. Updating this blog on a regular schedule is something that I’ve never been good at (I’d rather write when I actually have something to say than fill a post with crap just for the sake of publishing), and I don’t have any delusions that people are sitting around anxiously waiting for the next HOTR post to pop up (…well, besides you, Dad…)

But in this case, I have to admit that I feel a little bad. I wrote 10 days ago about going to Cleveland to be with my parents during my father’s aneurysm surgery and then never came back to update. Not exactly the most considerate thing I’ve ever done.

The thing is – I’ve sort of been avoiding the internet this week. At the risk of this post turning into some whiny and self-indulgent ramble, I’ll just say “It’s not you, it’s me (mostly…),” assure you that you’re all better off for it, and move on.


My dad is a fiercely competitive person. Anyone who wonders how I got to be the way I am needs only to spend 5 minutes with both of my parents to realize there never was any hope for me. So despite reminding my father that this was not a competition and that there was no need to PR in knee recovery, he insisted that he needed to be home on Sunday in time for the Steeler’s game.

Normal hospital recovery time post-popliteal artery aneurysm surgery is 3 – 5 days. That man managed to get himself out in two.

Even with the early release, it was one of the longest weeks of my life. It wasn’t all bad though – in fact, all things considered, we had a pretty easy time. I was so thankful that everything went well with the surgery and that my dad is recovering well. Plus, my week waiting in the hospital taught me some pretty valuable lessons (some serious…others not so much).

1.) Au Bon Pain food turns into gourmet fare when you have no other choice.

I think it’s safe to say that I ate more ABP during our 4 days in the hospital than I ever have before in my life. By the end of the week, I could tell you what soups would be on special and practically recite their menu. I had forgotten what any other food tasted like. Fortunately I finally snapped out of my ABP-induced haze on Saturday evening. Something tells me it’ll be a long time before I eat anything from there again.

2.) If you ever find yourself needing to get over a running slump, go sit in a chair for 4 days straight. 


Nothing like forced laziness to get you re-committed to your fitness goals. Particularly after eating your weight in pastries from ABP (see above).

3.) And nothing like a long running slump to completely kill your speed.

I cheated on my boycott last week with one short run on the treadmill early one morning in Cleveland. It felt good to move, but it was a much-needed reality check. I’ve been enjoying Garmin-less runs these days (when I do run, that is), which means that I had no idea how fast or slow I was actually running…until a few days ago. The numbers I saw on the treadmill weren’t pretty. But (surprise!) that’s what happens when you sit on your butt for a month.

4.) Time never crawls so slowly as it does when you are sitting in the “family waiting area.”


Even though we knew my dad was probably underestimating just a bit when he told us the entire thing would only take 45 minutes, those hours that he was in the operating room passed at a glacial pace. You can try to distract yourself at first by making conversation, but after a couple hours with no updates, you find yourself glancing at the clock every 10 seconds, swearing that it’s been at least an hour since you last looked.

5.) It is so incredibly difficult to see one of your parents so vulnerable.

This one needs no explanation. To say it shakes up your world a little is an understatement.

6.) But those moments, as hard as they are, can help bring you closer to the people you love.

I am so happy that I was able to spend an entire week with my parents. Last year at this time, I wouldn’t have been able to make the trip. As stressful as my circumstances might be sometimes, they have afforded me some pretty wonderful opportunities.

7.) After over 30 years together, my parents are still the cutest couple I know.

20120609 laurenandevan wedding 2364

My dad is a pretty chatty/effusive person on a regular basis, but throw some pain killers in the mix and he is outright gushy. I’ve never seen a person more excited to see someone else than when my dad first saw my mom in the recovery room after surgery. And despite my many protests, my mom spent every night with my dad in the hospital room while they sent me back to the hotel room to sleep in a comfortable bed…alone with my guilt. We could barely get her to leave the room for a few hours each day to nap/shower. I think my mom slept a total of 3 hours the entire time we were there. But she did it all without complaint.

8.) The medical care at Cleveland Clinic is world class.

sunset_clevelandclinicIf you have to be stuck in a hospital room, you could do worse than this view…

…and I have an even greater appreciation for every single doctor, nurse, and medical professional out there. Every single doctor and nurse assigned to my father was wonderful. There was never any doubt that my dad truly was in the best hands. And I can tell you this – if something happens and I ever need major surgery, I will definitely be making a trip back to the CLE.

9.) My dad can rock the Frankenstein look.

I will spare you the beautiful picture I took after the surgery (even though it means you’re missing out), but I have never seen such a long incision. My dad is now sporting 37 staples on the inside of his left leg. He thinks it’s disgusting, but I have to admit that I think it’s kind of cool…in a fascinating, gives-me-the-heebie-jeebies sort of way.

10.) Your health is a gift. Don’t waste it.

Running, walking, and being active are not things that we are forced to do. They’re things we get to do. Those of us who are able to run have been blessed with an incredible gift. There is nothing in the world that compares to the feeling of a really good run. The freedom of the road beneath your feet and the air in your lungs. Treasure that gift. None of us really know how many years of running we have left in us. So don’t waste them. Get out there, push your body, and relish the run.

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16 Responses to 10 Things I Learned During My Week at Cleveland Clinic

  1. Aww, great post! I’m glad your dad is recovering and that surgery went well!

    And I agree, I try to treasure this time that I have to swim, bike and run. You never know when it could be over!
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman´s last post ..My Thoughts on Racing

  2. We were glad your dad got out of the hospital before we even got up to see him which we hoped to do on Saturday if he was up to a visit. Hoping for a smooth recovery. He’ll need good knees for GOBA since we’re going to get a tow rope so he can pull us along.

  3. Lauren, I love this post. When my mom had surgery almost 4 years ago, it was really, really hard to sit and wait and then to see her in the days after. It broke my heart, but made me so proud of her at the same time. Taking care of our parents isn’t something we often think about and it really does hit you so hard when it happens. I am so glad that your dad is recovering well and the surgery was successful. Keep us all updated on how is recovery goes!

    P.S. For the record, I think I would actually appreciate “a whiny and self-indulgent ramble”. In fact, I have a feeling I might agree with a lot of your sentiments.
    Corey´s last post ..Relaying…Again!

  4. Love this post! Glad your dad had a successful surgery! It is never easy to see your loved ones all laid up. A few years ago, my dad went to the ER for some chest pain. Next thing we knew, he was in the OR having triple bypass and a heart transplant. We waited and waited for the surgery to be over and it was the longest wait of my life. The next few days seeing them in pain and on a breathing machine was the absolute worst! But the good thing was – our family got a whole lot closer and my dad is healthy again! :) These experiences really make relationships better!

  5. So glad your dad’s surgery was successful. And a blessing that you were able to be there, too. Wishing him a continued, speedy recovery!

  6. I am very happy that your dad’s surgery went so well! I hope he has a quick and full recovery!
    Steph @ Steph Runs On´s last post ..Running Is Hard, Yo! Shiner Beer Run Half Marathon Recap

  7. i’m so glad it went well. reading about your parents makes me hope i can have a marriage like theirs-it’s adorable! :) hope your dad is feeling okay now. from what i have read about him, he’s seems quite determined and strong.
    elizabeth´s last post ..Safety, Jingle Bell Hell, and babies

  8. Yay! So happy to see a post : )
    I am so happy to hear that your father is doing well. What a wonderful Christmas gift to you and your family! Hope you all have a blessed Holiday Season!
    Jenn´s last post ..#Giving Tuesday

  9. Great news about your dad…and I think we need the Frankenstein photo 😉 I wrote something on my blog a while ago about scars and about how they are actually beautiful because they show how tough we are, they’re badges of honour that tell our story and show we’re survivors. I hope your dad feels that way about his scars!!!

    And he’s home for Christmas. Nice!!!!

  10. Great post. And, omg, I have eaten my fair share of hospital ABP – I know what you mean! I hope you dad is recovering well and that the surgery will be successful!
    Meggie´s last post ..Airplane Epiphanies: There Is No Timeline

  11. This may be one of the best posts i have read in a long time! Good luck to your dad and hoping for a speedy recovery!

  12. AuBon Pain’s hospital food is gross. You think 4 days is bad? Try working at a hospital and eating it weekly for 2 years straight. Although the 2 things I love about them is 1. Their creamy tomato soup. and 2. They sell Carvel ice cream. Yum. :-) I’m sure dad appreciated you so much that week!
    Christina´s last post ..Operation Get Pre-Baby Body Back Update

  13. Thanks for the update. I am glad your dad is recovering! Merry Christmas and Looking forward to your next post!

  14. So late on this, but I’m glad your dad is okay and that he got out super fast! (The longer you’re in the hospital, the worse it is!) Hope he’s recovering well.

    ABP isn’t so bad…almost live off of it on night shift since it’s the only thing open.

    Our health is SO important and definitely something most people take for granted. We’re lucky to do the things we do for as long as we can do them.

    Happy new year!
    Susan – Nurse on the Run´s last post ..happy new year from the burn unit

  15. I’m so glad your dad is on the road to recovery! You are a great daughter :) Also, thank you for not posting the post surgery picture.
    Kim´s last post ..2013 Goals

  16. Two summers ago my mom had a double knee replacement, and it was one of the hardest things waiting and watching her go through the recovery. But this weekend I get to walk with her in her first half marathon, and I couldn’t be more excited and proud. I hope your dad is continuing to recover well and won’t need another surgery for a long long time. I’ll be thinking of you guys.
    Amanda @ Running On Waffles´s last post ..Marathon Monday: Goofy Challenge Week 8

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