East Bay 510

The East Bay 510k was the final race of this year’s Run the Bay series.  As usual, it was a well organized, well supported event.  I’ll start with the free parking close to the finish line and the busses to the start line. That was totally rad! Parking has always been a major stress factor for me during races. So having this perk was very much appreciated.

I love the shout out from the start line, it truly made me feel special.  The new course was lovely! it was mostly flat and the waterfront view was very pretty. The kayakers gracefully gliding on the water were interesting to watch. Running through the park which was a nice break from the usual blah views of road races.

This was the first race that I had done in two years where I did not have to hold anyones hand or had to  use a cane. I can say that I walked this race all by myself! I have to admit that I didn’t think I was able to finish. I was just not ready!  I had spent most of my summer exercising in the pool.  Then I had to sit out 7 weeks after I had surgery for the Baclofen implant.  And it was warm at 8AM in October!! I was exhausted and disappointed. I thought that my leg would be more cooperative specially after the surgery. It was supposed to make my leg looser, but I have not felt much of a difference. Hopefully a few more tweaks to the amount of medication will do the trick.  I was relieved to reach the finish line.

I was feeling sentimental about this race. As I had mentioned, this was the last of the Run the Bay Series for the year. I had so much fun being an ambassador for this series. Represent Running was a great group to be a part of.  I do hope that they will the program again next year.

 

Much Love,

Momma Berna

Ha! Not sure if this was about me or the weather!
Ha! Not sure if this was about me or the weather!

 

A part of the waterfront course.
A part of the waterfront course.

My History of Running

One of my favorite memories growing up was waking up at 6:00 a.m on a Saturday morning and going for a jog with my dad. Our home in the Philippines was very close to the ocean, so that was where we would go. If we get there early enough, we would catch the fishing boats coming in.  My dad knew some of the fishermen, so we were able to buy the fresh catch. Breakfast! During these jogs as i start complaining about how tired I am, my dad would tell me stories about his childhood. This is one that stands out in my memory: My dad grew up in the  Philippines during the tail end of the second world war. The Japanese were slowly leaving their posts,  with a few stragglers still hanging around the provinces.  His older sister and himself would run errands for their mom delivering fish sauce, which my grandmother made, to neighboring towns.The trips they would take were about 5 or 10k one way.  They of course had a healthy fear of Japanese soldiers. So when they see one they would start running.  My dad was around 8 or 9 years old during that time. Sometimes, a kind soldier would give them water. I wish I could still ask him about those days, unfortunately he passed away 20 years ago.

So you would think that with that running history, I would be a natural runner. Ha! When I was in community college, I had to sign up for a a PE class. I chose BEGINNING  JOGGING. Sounds easy enough, right? I thought I was in decent shape: 118 lbs, gym once or twice a week working with weights and aerobics videos at home.  The first day of class, I could not complete a lap. It was more than pathetic than it sounds. I thought I was going to die. The teacher told me I will not pass the class if I could not run a mile. Walking was not acceptable. The second week, I switched classes. Weightlifting was easier. I continued to hit the gym, hop on the treadmill for a few minutes then lift weights. i would joke that running is not my thing, outside is bad. A/C is good.

Fast forward to 2011. We got our Twinkie girl. This yellow lab was a hyperactive beast.  She never walked, only ran. She jumped, nipped and ran.  A friend observed that when I am walking Twinkie, I look like I was on water skis being pulled by a very fast boat. One summer morning, I was out with Twinkie (a.k.a Bootcamp) trying to keep up with her, when she spotted a cat. Cat was too hard to resist, so Twinkie made a dash for it, which led my face to have close contact with the sidewalk.  As soon as I recovered from that nasty fall I decided to start running.

This beauty here is who got me started running. I could not ask for a better running partner.
This beauty here is who got me started running. I could not ask for a better running partner.

On the treadmill at first, (it was summer after all) then gradually outside minus the dog. I started running while the boys were at soccer practice, I actually started to  enjoy it.  Once I felt strong enough, I took the dog with me.  Someone suggested I download an app to track my miles. My question was ” you can do that?” On my birthday, in February of 2012, I took the dog out and we just started running. I was feeling good, she was behaving. When we got home, people were waiting for us so we can celebrate my birthday. I checked my phone and was pleasantly surprised when I read Five miles!  I felt incredible, I felt strong and I felt amazing! I think that was the moment I fell in love-with running. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of my early running days (I did not know it was a thing. Ha!)

Anyway, I’ve rambled on long enough. I will continue this history lesson on my next post!

 

Much Love,

Momma Berna

 

 

 

Represent Running

There are many things that I love about running, but the one that I really cherish is the camaraderie and fellowship among the runners. These past couple of years I have been privileged to be a part of a local running group: Team Run The Bay. This team is spearheaded by Represent Running who is the powerhouse behind these three local, fun, and well organized races: the 408k, Across the Bay 12k and 415k and the East Bay 510k.

Being a part of this group has been a spectacular experience.  I’ve met some really inspiring, kind and FAST runners.  I’ve been accepted into this fold of runners as I hobble/walk my way to the finish line. Hearing the cheers and applause from JT and the team as I reach the finish line, never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Seeing posts on social media from the different ambassadors, is very inspiring. I may not have most of the other ambassadors, but I feel that I know them personally (sorry for the stalker vibe).  To be accepted as a ‘runner’ by this group has really been a privilege as I have not done any kind of running at all these past two years. I had rolled, walked and hobbled instead.imgres-2

The last race of the 2016 Run the Bay series is happening on  October 9th. Run the East Bay and represent the 510. This also completes the Run the Bay Challenge . If you had run the 408k and Across the Bay 415, this is the final race of the series where you will get the extra bling. Join the excitement of the East Bay 510k. Register here! Use code Represent2016BG for a 10% discount.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Represent Running Crew for welcoming me into your fold. I have felt welcomed, accepted and loved.

I am looking looking forward to the last race of the year. And I am keeping my fingers crossed that I would be a part of the team again next year.

A look back:

 

We know the way to San Jose!
We know the way to San Jose!

 

i still needed support and my husband is always ready to give me a hand.
i still needed support and my husband is always ready to give me a hand.

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Pump Me Up

A few weeks ago, I underwent a trial to see if I was a candidate for a  Baclofen pump As the results were positive, I elected to ahead and go through with the surgery. The doctors told me, that there was going to be a two to three month wait to get something scheduled. I was eager, but was not bothered by the wait time. I was going to use that time to work-out, strengthen my core and just get stronger all over, After all, I  will not be able to exercise the way I am used to for 7 weeks after the surgery and there will be no pool exercises till the incision heals (one month).

i will miss Aqua Zumba!
I will miss Aqua Zumba!

One week after the trial, the doctor called and told me that there is an available time on August 25th, a mere three weeks after the trial! I think I mumbled something that goes ” Like, this August? In like two weeks?.” The doctor replied that I can have the rest of the day to think about it and to let him know the next day what my answer would be. I panicked a little, thinking I let go of an opportunity. I talked things over with Armando and we both agreed to give it a go.

The day of the surgery came, we check-in and get settled into the pre-op room. As soon as I get into my hospital gown, the nurse told me that the surgery time was moved forward, The surgery in front of me got cancelled.

I look too happy for someone who is about to go under the knife. The drugs must be working already.
I look too happy for someone who is about to go under the knife. The drugs must be working already.

Waking up, I am now officially battery operated. The battery would last seven years, but I would need a “top off” every few months.

To be honest, I expected to “run”  out of the hospital. I didn’t expect the pain that I was going to be in.  I knew going in that I will be given the smallest dose to start with but it was still disappointing that the result is not instantaneous. It was like opening a much desired Christmas present, but the major parts are still missing. The medicine will be slowly adjusted until it reaches the best therapeutic dose. I now need to work much harder as I have been given a major tool for recovery. I do have to take it easy for a few weeks to let the “equipment” settle into my body. This next few weeks I am only allowed to walk, lift no more than 5 lbs, no twisting and no reaching up, no sit-ups and no jumping. Yikes! I really have to watch what I eat to stay healthy.I will be seeing my physical therapist soon, so I will work with her on safe and effective workouts.

One of the nurses asked me what my plans are now that I have the implant. I had only told my close friends and family this goal:, I plan on running the NYC Marathon in 2017. I will enter the lottery in January, and if I do not get picked through the lottery, I will enter as a fund-raiser.  I heard a saying once (not really 100% sure of the words) that goes “If you let your intentions known,the universe will conspire to make it happen” So here you go universe I have set forth my intention: I will run 26.2 miles of NYC!

Much Love,

MommaBerna

Balance:

I had just finished my balance exercises. Somehow, during the stroke my brain’s wiring got all jumbled up and balance was one of the things that got fried. This is true for many stroke survivors. So as much as I can, I have added balance exercises to my daily routine. I look kinda funny standing in a corner eyes closed, wobbling precariously. Brain rewiring is not a glamorous job.

 

This girl isn’t going to be on a balance beam anytime soon.

Balance has always been elusive to me (heck, I can’t even balance my checkbook. HA) I look really funny riding a bike. My boys always teased me about getting training wheels.  As I relearn how physically balance, I am also learning how to have balance in other aspects of my life.  I am now a much slowed down version of myself, so planning and balance is essential. There was a time where I could get caught up in reading a book for hours. And still be able to be ready to get the boys to where they need to go. Now, I need to be cognizant of the amount of time I do things.  I can spend a good of time reading, watching t.v. or surfing the internet, but those activities will not help me get better. I put in time to workout, write, work on my hand and fingers and stretching (this helps with getting my movement back). I need to once again be a productive member of society.  How do I fit all of these in one day?  How do you keep balance in your life?

Much Love,

Mommaberna

Keep your Hands and Legs Inside the Ride…

I love roller coasters. In amusement parks, I would be the one to coax my boys to ride a coaster. The last time we were at Disney’s California Adventure, I had strong armed the boys to ride California Screamin’ with me. We ended up riding it three times.

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To say that stroke recovery is a roller coaster ride is making a huge under statement. This StrokerCoaster is a ride that I did not sign up for and yet I cannot seem to get off.   There are days when I feel the ultimate high of the first loop. . These are days where I feel strong, energetic and clear headed. These moments could last for days or hours. These are the days that I hope would last forever.

Then there are days when I wake up and I am in so much pain physically and emotionally, getting out of bed is a monumental task. This ride drop sometimes happen when I least expect it. Like last night. I had a great time watching a movie with a couple of my friends. I laughed till I had tears and maybe even snorted a little. On the way home, I got hit with an overwhelming sense of sadness. I was so incredibly sad that when I got home, all my energy was gone. I woke up this morning feeling more positive.  I will try and hold on that feeling the rest of the day.

I know that I will be on this ride for a very long time.  I know there will be good days and there will be bad days. I will try to do my best to appreciate the good days and take the bad days as easy as possible. In the meantime, I’ll sit back, fasten my seatbelt and keep my arms and legs inside the ride at all times.

 

 

Much Love,

MommaBerna

 

 

 

 

Stalled but not Defeated

” But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed, but not defeated” – Ernest Hemingway

The word “plateau” is one that brings fear to athletes. By definition PLATEAU is to reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.  But for athletes, to reach a plateau in their training means they now have the challenge of having to change up their training. For runners it might be adding hill repeats, adding fartleks to their routine or simply cross training. This are what athletes do when faced with a lack of progress.  They do not see the lack of progress as a time to quit, instead it is an opportunity to establish a new routine so they can better themselves.
Apparently for some doctors, physical therapist and of course insurance companies a plateau is the time to just quit. To give up and lose hope. When i left the rehab facility, the neurologist and the psychologist both told us that I have six moths to regain what I have to regain. After the six month mark, I am just to accept whatever progress (or lack of) I have and learn to live with it.  I have to admit, hearing that was scary and painful. I was not going to accept that I will be in a wheelchair forever.  I was so afraid to hit the 6 month mark, that I worked hard to start walking again.

I had made a lot of progress during the first six moths,but I knew I had a long way to go. I kept working on getting myself better. There would be moments when i felt stuck. I went to my Neurologist with questions. I would ask her for ways to improve, for ways to retrain my brain.

Her response every time would be “You have plateaued. There is not much you can do.”  What I heard was “The insurance company have determined that you are on your own. Good luck”  What I did was researched, asked questions and worked harder. I found out about Botox, acupuncture,E-stim all of which helped. But the work is still up to me.  There has been many bumps along the road. I get frustrated, I hurt emotionally and physically. But I keep going. As much I would like for there to have a “miracle” cure, I know there isn’t one. There are research currently being done on how to rewire the brain, but for now I only have hard work to count on.  It has crossed my mind to participate in different trials and I probably will if I find one that I would feel most comfortable with.

If given the opportunity, would you participate in an experimental treatment?

I will keep asking my doctors questions, I will keep working hard. I have proven doctors wrong in the past and I plan on doing more of that in the future.

Much Love,

Momma Berna

 

 

What Happens Next?

I had done the five day ITB Pump trial.  I can say that the results were amazing! For a couple of days, I was able to feel how to walk “almost” normally again.

  • I “checked in” on Monday. After getting out of my street clothes and changing into the standard issue uber sexy hospital gown and settling into my room, the nurse took vitals and I set to wait for the doctors.  The doctors came in and gave me a rundown of what was going to happen the next five days (We were in constant phone contact prior to this day, so this was just a review).
  • The doctors then prepped my back for the insertion of the catheter which will infuse Baclofen directly to my spine. They start with  a super low dose. After the insertion, I am to lay flat on my back for 6-8 hours to allow the insertion site to heal. Otherwise, I run the risk of getting a spinal headache. Which according to  the doctors, is the worse headache one could ever experience. I was not even allowed to bend my legs. Apparently, I did not follow this direction to a T coz I got a headache that kicked my ass the next day. I wanted to do a test walk, so I lied and told the Dr. I was fine.
  • The first day at a low dose, I already felt a difference! My steps felt lighter and my foot was not curling in. The doctor and I walked a couple of times around the floor. My headache was getting worse, so we had to stop. And once again I had to lay completely flat on my back for a few hours.
  • Wednesday, the physical therapist came by to walk with me. We once again just walked around the floor. I asked if they had a treadmill, unfortunately they didn’t (i brought running clothes!!). I really wanted to try my new legs! She watched the video of me walking before the medicine was hooked up. It turned out that I was walking the wrong way. I was walking fast and steady, but I had adapted by walking while swinging my leg outwards to make big steps. I now have to relearn how to walk again.  I also walked around with Armando and Scotty, they even noticed the difference! Scotty said “You don’t walk like Frankenstein anymore!”
  • Thursday I was at full dose. My leg felt light, I didn’t feel any tone or spasticity, I wanted to run! Later that day, they started tapering down the medicine I was receiving. I had so many mixed feelings. I have many questions, I was anxious. I knew that when I wake up the next day the little bit of freedom that I had was going to be gone. My light legs will be gone.  I was sad.
  • Friday was check out day. The catheter was removed and I was placed on flat bed rest again for the rest of the day. The doctors came in and talked to me about the results of the trial. He was glad that I had thought to record myself walking as it served as a  good reference for the trial. We took a before and during video during the trial. Both the Doc and the PT  were very encouraged by the results, they think  I will get very good results from getting the implant. The decision is mine.
  • As I was flat on my back, I was apparently getting attacked by a Pokemon. My valiant husband rescued me!
    As I was flat on my back, I was apparently getting attacked by a Pokemon. My valiant husband rescued me!

The medicine is now completely off my system and I can definitely say that it made a big difference. I have talked it over with my family, I have thought about it the past few days. I am leaning towards getting the implant. Do I have HUGE expectations? You bet! I have some time to think about this, I have many questions. My family and I also have our reservations because as with any surgery there are risk. But seeing the difference, how could I even have a second thought?

 

Falling Down at 1.99

UFLW9498Part of my therapy, my exercise routine is to go for a walk on days that I do not go to the gym. My very good friend and forever neighbor sent me a text asking if I wanted to go for a walk, it was a bit unusual since it was Thursday afternoon and she is usually at work. I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I have been slacking off on my walks. I have been to the gym and use the elliptical or the treadmill. So off we went. I love our walks Tammy and I, we have known each for ages, since our kids were toddlers. We used to spend many summer afternoons well into the evenings playing at the park. Our kids covered head to toe with sand. We’ve had to spray them off with the hose on at the front yard before going inside. Now, our kids are teens, now busy with their own lives . So it is just now Tammy and I reminiscing about the good old days. We also vent, talk about our day, our week our lives.  So there we were, on a warm Thursday afternoon walking down familiar paths that we have walked many, many times.  We turn around to get back home and I see that my Runkeeper was at 1.85 miles, I of course wanted, no needed to make it to 2 miles. I asked Tammy if it would be ok if we walk to end of the street and around the corner to make it to two miles. I was pushing myself, trying to walk faster and all of the sudden, I feel myself going down, I see the panic on Tammy’s face, I dropped my phone and as if on instinct the first thing I did was to STOP the Runkeeper app. A rush of frustration came over me when I saw that I fell at 1.99 miles! Ok. ok some of you might just shrug it off and think it is no big deal, but another runner would understand the frustration. I felt something warm on my arm, my running capris was dotted with little red spots, the pain now starting to creep up on me. A car pulled up as we sit on the sidewalk, blood dripping on my arm and pants. Two people come out of the car asking if we were ok.

The young man addressing Tammy said “We saw what happened. We saw her fall, can we give you a ride home?” I tried to protest, the house is just around the corner. Tammy accepted their offer, she was shaking. I keep telling her I am ok. Things were getting blurry now. My son, Vincent, heard the car pull up to the curb and ran out to meet us. Tammy’s voice was shaky as she tells Armando what happened.  I had ran to the bathroom to see the damage. I had sustained a cut on the left side of my face, right under my eye barely missing my eyeball. My eyeglass broke and a piece of plastic cut my face. It was decided that I needed a trip to the emergency room.

To be continued…

Much Love, 

MommaBerna

 

This is the Story….(how my life changed got turned upside down)

I once had a blog where I intended to talk about running, races, and training for runs and races. Life got busy and the blog fell by the wayside. Then life threw my family and I for a loop.

It was Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Game 6 of the Giants vs. Royals World Series. I had been asleep all day, having had a shot of morphine at the emergency room the night before. I had the worse headache of my life Monday night, I was screaming in pain so my husband, Armando drove me to the emergency room. They did not determine anything to be wrong, do they gave me a dose of morphine (perhaps to shut me up as I was screaming!!!) and sent me home. The next day, I called in sick for work and slept. When I woke up at around 4:00 P.M. feeling guilty because I had slept all day, I went downstairs with faint ache still lingering in my head which I attributed to the meds wearing off, I made dinner.

I guess this time, my tutu did not bring me any luck at all.

After dinner, wearing my orange tutu I cheered my Giants on. A win would cinch another World Series title.   My headache was getting progressively worse, it did not help that the Royals tied the series. I remember everything being hazy that night. I went upstairs to get ready for bed my head pounding now, I was also very nauseous. I said goodnight and I love you to Scotty, he asked me too lay down next to him for a bit. He looked very sad when I told him I can’t I just wanted to lie down because my head was really hurting. I threw up in the bathroom and staggered out. Vincent kept asking me what was wrong, I was telling him I my head was hurting really bad, he kept saying “I can’t understand what you’re saying”. I don’t how Vincent knew, but he said “I think you’re having a stroke”. He called 911.  I tried opening my eyes and saw paramedics, I kept hearing “stroke”. My recall of that night is definitely vague. I thought I was saying I have to say bye to Scotty, but when I asked my family about that they told me I never said it. This was the beginning of what would be the longest race I will ever tackle.  Please join me on this adventure.  I would love and appreciate your support.