10 Things I Learned During My Week at Cleveland Clinic
|December 19, 2012||Posted by Lauren under LifeontheRun|
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.
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.
If 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.