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The Truth About Postpartum Depression

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

I am also part of a Mental Health Month blog party that’s happening today.

When I landed in Canada almost twelve years ago, the news waves were buzzing with an unfolding tragedy. A young woman, caught in the grip of postpartum depression, had launched herself into the path of an oncoming subway train while holding her weeks-old baby daughter. The baby had died instantly, while the mother hung on in hospital, never regaining consciousness, before she died several weeks later.

The public, including, I confess, myself, practically fell over themselves in their haste to judge this woman for killing an innocent child. Like many people, I was operating under the smug self-righteousness of someone who’s “never been there”. I didn’t have children at that time, therefore I had never experienced postpartum depression. Although I was very familiar with regular depression, and had frequently thought self-destructive thoughts, it had never stretched to me being at risk of hurting another person.

As much as people wanted to be judgmental, there was one particular element of this story that bothered me a great deal. The woman had sought help for postpartum depression and not received it. She had reached out, hoping someone would grab her hand and save her from drowning. In the aftermath of the tragedy, no-one was saying, “If only I had known,” but a number of people were saying, “If only I had helped.”

Back then, postpartum depression was not really taken seriously. People associated it with mothers who killed their children, mothers who were dubbed as “monsters”.

I got hit with a hefty dose of reality when postpartum depression settled over me like a heavy, oppressive blanket after the birth of my second child. I realized that I had been so wrong about this condition, and that its manifestations are as unique and varied as the individuals who suffer from it.

The media, being the media, tends to sensationalize tragedy, and tragedy resulting from postpartum depression is no exception. In the absence of other information, other sources of awareness, is it any wonder that the unknowing public would associate postpartum depression with the killing of babies? That’s what the media has taught society, and it’s not exactly a subject that the average person is going to go and Google.

Media treatment of postpartum depression, along with the resulting generalizations that people make about it, are largely responsible for the fact that many women are too ashamed and scared to seek the help they need. I myself did not seek help, and in fact I would never have been treated had my doctor not noticed that something was way off during a visit for a foot complaint.

There is a great deal of stigma surrounding mental illness in general, and postpartum depression in particular takes a big hit of it. The women who fall victim to it are dealing with so much more than depression. They are also feeling intense guilt and the sense of being “abnormal”. I mean, you have this gorgeous new baby who is supposed be a source of great joy and immeasurable love, and the whole thing has turned into a pear-shaped nightmare. The moms also feel fear that is beyond words. They are terrified that during some moment of insanity, they will hurt their children. They want to die just to save their babies from being raised by terrible mothers.

I could quote numbers at you. I could tell you how many women suffer from postpartum depression in Canada, the United States, and internationally. But whatever numbers I gave you would be completely meaningless. They would not include the scores of women who do not seek help, receive a diagnosis, or get treated.

If I was in charge, postpartum depression information would be included in the education packages that are given to new mothers, whether they are having their first, second or tenth child. When the hospitals handed out their leaflets about breastfeeding and developmental milestones, they would also be handing out information sheets about postpartum depression, along with fridge magnets printed with the telephone number of a crisis line.

The new mother’s partner, or some other designated support person, would be educated on the signs of postpartum depression. They would be taught what warning signs to look for, and what to do if they saw them.

If I was in charge, mothers would be regularly screened for postpartum depression for up to two years following the births of their babies – because it can take that long to strike.

There would be public awareness campaigns. The media would devote more attention to postpartum depression as a genuine medical issue to be handled with caring and compassion. They would stop the practice of only giving this condition the time of day in the wake of tragedies.

In my perfect world, women are not blamed for having this debilitating and often life-threatening condition.

They are helped through their times of terrible darkness, and they emerge bright and beautiful, like butterflies from a cocoon, and they enjoy rich, fulfilling lives filled with the laughter of their children.

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Taking Care Of Mom: A Story Of Survival

I don’t usually take calls on my cell phone during meetings, least of all calls from numbers that I do not recognize.

Answer the phone, said a little voice in my head. It was the same little voice that has guided me many times in the past, the little voice that I always listen to, because when I don’t, I regret it.

I excused myself from the meeting and answered the phone.

To my surprise, it was the lady at the pharmacy down the road from my parents’ house. My mother had come in to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, and while she was there she had started complaining of abdominal pain. Could I please come and get her and take her to a doctor right away?

Bear in mind that this happened in a country that did not have 9-1-1. I was definitely a better and faster bet than the local ambulance service.

I made the fifteen-minute drive to the pharmacy in about eight minutes, only to find that my mother was not there.

“I’m sorry,” said the lady at the pharmacy. “We couldn’t wait. Your mother really needed to see the doctor immediately, so Michael drove her.”

I didn’t know who Michael was, but that was the least of my worries. I thanked the lady and drove to the doctor’s office. I was ushered into the consulting room immediately, and Michael – who turned out to be a kindly delivery man – was free to leave.

My mother was lying on the examination table writhing in pain. Her body was burning up with an ever-climbing fever and her face was the colour of paper. The doctor, who I had known for years and who had always, up until this moment, been completely unflappable, was trying everything she could. Although she was displaying an admirable calmness, I could see undercurrents of desperation.

An ambulance had been summonsed. It arrived and ferried my mother off to the hospital, with me following in my car.

At some point during all of this chaos I got in touch with my dad and my brother, who were out of town on separate business trips. While I took care of admission paperwork at the hospital, they were trying to get themselves onto last-minute flights home.

With the admin taken care of, all I could do was wait. I discovered that hospital waiting areas are every bit as bleak and depressing as movies make them out to be. After what felt like hours, the doctor came out to see me. The bad news was that my mother had an infection so severe that her kidneys were failing. The good news was that the fever was under control and the pain was being managed. I was allowed to go in to see my mother. She looked dreadful, but with the pain and fever taken care of, she was at least able to talk a little.

She was very afraid – and who wouldn’t be? I was terrified myself but trying hard not to show it. The doctor came back into the room and gave my mother some milky-looking medicine. She sipped the cloudy colloid as I gave her assurances that she was OK, she would be OK, the doctors were taking care of her.

I’m not sure when my dad and brother arrived. All I know is that at some point, they faded into the hustle and bustle as people entered and left the room, trying to get my mother’s body to work the way it was supposed to.

This story has a good ending. My mother recovered and thankfully she is in good health.

On some dreaded day – hopefully a long way in the future – I will lose my mom, because no-one lives forever.

But I am eternally grateful to whatever powers prevail that that day, Mom stayed with us.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Cedar challenged me with “She sips the cloudy colloid. ” and I challenged Leo with “Tell a story that makes a lot of use of contrasts, like light/dark, big/small etc.”

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Out Of The Darkness: Overcoming Post-Partum Depression

This post was a hard one to write, even though the events described happened several years ago. It took me a number of days to get this all down, and it has taken another few days to actually decide whether or not to publish it. My hope in publishing this is that it will make a difference to somebody. Maybe you’re a new mom who is going through post-partum depression. Or perhaps you know a new mom who seems to be retreating into herself. If your life is touched in any way by post-partum depression, know that there are things that can be done. Talk to your friends and family, seek help from medical professionals. And whatever you do, don’t lose hope.

My younger son James was born at a tumultuous time in my life. I had lost my dad to cancer a year previously, and me and my husband were going through some challenging times in our life together. At around that time, we were also starting to realize that there was something wrong with George and we had started to experience the frustration of wrangling a referral out of our family doctor.

I sometimes wonder, when I look back, whether all of these factors led to the post-partum depression I went through. Or perhaps it would have happened anyway. This is an illness that can strike the most unlikely of victims.

I knew within a couple of days after giving birth that the utter bleakness I was feeling was more than a case of “baby blues”. What I had experienced with George two years previously – the mild sadness, the anxiety, the tendency to be emotionally weird – that was baby blues. What I was going through now was completely different.

On New Years Eve that year, when James was six days old, I was sitting in front of the TV nursing my newborn while I watched CNN coverage of festivities around the world. At about five to midnight, Gerard brought me a cup of tea, and as he set it down beside me, he asked in surprise, “Why are you crying?”

I was just as surprised as he was. I had not even noticed the floods of tears rolling silently down my cheeks.

Even though I was filled with this feeling of terrifying – emptiness – I did not initially label what I was experiencing with any name. The first time I thought of the term post-partum depression in relation to myself, James was about two months old. A replay of an old Oprah episode was on – the episode where Tom Cruise spouted forth about how there was no such thing as post-partum depression, and how all new moms could solve all of their problems by eating right and exercising.

What an idiot, I remember thinking. This thought was followed by the sudden light-bulb moment in which I realized that I was suffering from post-partum depression.

There was a good news and a bad news aspect to this discovery.

The good news was that I now had a name for what I was going through. I had something to Google, and sure enough, on every checklist I found, I was able to put checkmarks beside all but one or two of the signs and symptoms. I had a basis for research, and I felt some validation that I wasn’t simply going mad.

The bad news was that I too far down the path of post-partum depression to be able to actually do anything about it. Talking to someone – my doctor, my friends, or even my husband – would have taken energy. And that was something that I had in very short supply. Just getting through the day was an accomplishment. Once I had attended to the basic needs of my kids – feeding, diapering, bathing, dressing – there was nothing left over. No reserves of energy whatsoever.

And because I didn’t do anything about it, my illness got steadily worse and worse. I didn’t talk to anyone about it, and no-one recognized the signs. My friends and family saw me retreating further and further into myself, but they did not know why. They saw that the kids were obviously being taken care of, so they didn’t realize that there was anything to be concerned about.

Even when my depression was at its very worst, I was not suicidal in the sense of wanting to actively go out and kill myself (again, that would have taken energy that I just didn’t have), and I was never in danger of harming the kids. Their health, safety and happiness were my top priorities – my only priorities.

I did start to think about dying, though. I fantasized about what it would be like to die in a car accident, or to have a sudden heart attack, or to be shot during a bank robbery. I thought about being on a plane that had a bomb on it. What if I had some undiagnosed condition, and simply went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up?

My depression went untreated for over a year, and by then I honestly thought that I was lost forever. Right after George was diagosed with autism, I went to see my family doctor, who had received a copy of the diagnostic report. I was seeing the doctor about something unrelated – an old ankle injury was acting up – but he immediately picked up that there was something seriously wrong.

My doctor, who had been absolutely dismal at detecting signs of early developmental delay in George, was able to tell right away that I was going through a major depression. He put me on medication and insisted on seeing me once a week until I was out of the woods.

The pills were both good and bad for me. The bad part was that they made me feel angry. While I was taking them, I was mad at everyone and everything. Back then, I didn’t even have running as a stress coping mechanism, so the anger just sat there and frightened the living daylights out of me.

The good thing, though, was that the pills helped with the depression. I started feeling some energy again – even though the energy itself was negative, it was a start. Negative energy was better than the absolute empiness and desolation that I had been feeling for so long now.

And so gradually, I started finding my way back. With time, I rekindled my relationship with my husband, and I discovered the true joy of parenting. I went back to work and started to find my own identity again. I started running. Little buds of hope started to grow within me.

I found my way out of the darkness, and into love and light.

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Round 2

James is home from the hospital. James is fine.

George is now in an E.R. examination room, waiting to be seen by the doctor. IV fluids are being discussed.

He’ll be fine, but I am so looking forward to life being back to normal.

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The Little Patient

Last night I had to bring my son to the hospital. I stayed here with him throughout the night and now my brain is foggy. Foggy from lack of sleep, worry, lack of food, lack of caffeine.

I will post the full story when I feel capable of stringing more than three sentences together. For now, I will say that the Jamester is OK. He is still receiving fluids intravenously, and we hope to go home later today.

He’s a brave, brave boy and I’m proud of how he’s been handling this.

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Giving Blood, Giving Life, Giving Hope

I sit in the chair across from the nurse, anxiously waiting for that tiny little needle to pierce the end of my finger.  Has it worked?  Has my healthy eating, strict regimen of iron-enriched vitamins, and consumption of gross vegetable juice made my blood as healthy as it needs to be? If I am turned away now, I will be pissed off.

I am lost in my thoughts, willing my blood to cooperate, trying to analyze everything I’ve eaten in the – OUCH!  Holy crap!  For a tiny little needle that HURTS!

Not as much as the big fat needle going into my arm is going to hurt.

Not as much as the multitude of agony that Captain Snuggles has endured over the last five months has hurt.

It’s a tiny little needle, don’t be such a baby.

The nurse puts a little smear of blood onto a slide and feeds it into a machine.  She tells me that the number has to be 125 or higher.  We wait for a few seconds, the machine beeps, and…

…154.  YES!  As I follow the next nurse into the next screening area, I imagine my healthy blood cells, marching around my body like sergeants, getting ready for deployment into the next human body that needs them.

Screening goes well.  My temperature is good.  My blood pressure prompts the nurse to tell me I must work out a lot.  My heart rate is slightly elevated because I am excited to be doing this.  No lesions or bruises on my arms, all of my questionaire answers are acceptable.

I am deemed Fit To Donate.

I am taken to a row of folding chairs, where I take a seat and wait my turn.  I know that my friend extraordinaire and maid of honour Michelle is a short way behind me in the process.  I look for her and she is not in the room; she is probably in the screening area telling the nurse whether she has ever taken money for sex or taken cocaine intravenously.

As I am waiting, a man starts to pass out with his blood in mid-flow.  The kindly woman seated beside me looks at my “First Time Donor” sticker (which I feel entitled to since my one and only donation attempt, over 20 years ago, ended in disaster and could not be completed) and says, “Don’t look at him.  He’s a man.  Us girls can handle this!”

I am led to one of the stations, and as I take my seat in the thing – it’s not a chair; it’s not a bed; what’s the word for it? – I imagine those blood cell sergeants lining up in my arm, getting ready for their marching orders.

Michelle takes a seat on one of the folding chairs, which means I can talk to her instead of looking in the direction of the nurse who is taping tubes to my arm in an ominous manner.  I squeeze my eyes shut, grit my teeth, and – the needle is in!  Those little sergeants have started marching!  I imagine the blood cells in the Captain’s body straightening up and getting their act together (because let’s face it, they have been slacking off in the last little while).  I imagine them coming together, strong and whole, forming a line of defence against illness and infection.

As my blood flows out of me, I imagine Captain Snuggles getting better.  I picture his broken body healing, becoming whole.

My actual blood will not get to Captain Snuggles.  But it will get to someone who needs it.  Captain Snuggles, through his suffering, will have saved a life.  Many lives, since I am now committed to being a regular donor.

It takes less than ten minutes.  When the needle is removed, I sit in my thing-thats-not-a-bed-or-chair for the prescribed five minutes.  There is more fiddling with my arm and bandages, and then I am permitted to go and sit down in the cookie and juice room (no caffeine for first-time donors!)

As I sit there drinking my orange juice and eating my cookie, I imagine where my blood will go from here.  Samples will go to the lab for testing, and the donation will be added to the blood bank.

I imagine it being transfused into someone’s broken body, transforming the probability of death into the possibility of life, into hope.

I imagine the joy of some family, in some hospital, when they are given the news that their loved one is going to make it.

I imagine Captain Snuggles healing and becoming whole.

I imagine myself someday saying to him, “Thank you.  Thank you for making me a better person.”

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Life Blood

What can I do?

This has been the question plaguing me for the last few days, while friend and fellow writer Amy sits at her critically ill baby’s bedside, waiting, hoping and praying.  I have been doing my best to send out an ever-expanding circle of positive energy to Amy, and to the baby, David.  I have tried to let Amy know – hopefully Amy does know – that I am with her in spirit, waiting and hoping and praying with her. I have been giving my own kids lots of extra hugs, letting them stay up past their bedtime just so that I could have an extra fifteen minutes with them, not getting so het up over silly things that prior to learning about the severity of David’s illness, would have had my knickers in a twist.

All of this is important.  I believe that the positive thoughts and the shifts in focus and the offers of support do at least let the intended recipient know that they are being thought of, that they are not alone.  But it doesn’t seem enough.  I have found myself wishing, longing to do something practical to help make this journey even a little bit easier for Amy to bear.

What can I do?

The obvious problem is that Amy and I live in different countries.  If I lived in Ohio, I would be able to do stuff.  I could cook meals for Amy’s family.  I could take her laundry away and bring her fresh changes of clothing.  I could bring books to read to Captain Snuggles. I could offer to babysit her kids so that she could get time with her husband.  The list of what I could do if I were there goes on and on.  But the fact remains that I live in Toronto and Amy lives in Ohio.

What can I do?

Realistically, my ability to help Amy in any practical sense is severely limited.  But this morning, I thought of something I can do that could potentially help other people in her situation, in David’s situation.

Over the last few days, Captain Snuggles has had multiple blood transfusions.  His mother has watched desperately as his life blood has flowed out of him faster than it can be replaced.  Without the transfusions he has received so far, it is extremely likely that David would not still be with us.

That blood has to come from somewhere.  I have plenty of what I assume is perfectly good blood: there is no reason for me to not give it to someone whose life might well depend on it.

The last time I donated blood, it did not go well.  But that was twenty years ago, and due to extremely stressful events that were happening in my life at the time, my health had taken a hammering.  Now my health is fine, and I feel inspired to give it another go.  There is a blood donor clinic at my place of work next week, and I have made my appointment to be a part of it.  For the next week, I will be eating lots of healthy stuff and doing what I can to make sure my blood is whole and healthy.

Maybe this small act will save someone’s life.  Maybe it will bring some family back from the brink of despair.  Maybe it will give someone hope.

Amy, if you are reading this, I really wish I could do something that would help you directly.  But please know that my decision to donate blood is inspired by you and your beautiful boy.  Even though he will not physically benefit, I am doing this for Captain Snuggles.

(Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License)

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Invasion of the Body-Snatcher Bugs

OK, that’s it.  I’ve had enough of this nonsense, and it is time for me to take charge of this situation.  My body belongs to ME.  It does not belong to this pesky bug that is invading it, making it feel sick and trying to keep it down.  This bug has been here before, and on previous visits I have waited until I was sick for weeks before seeing a doctor and getting rid of it.  Earlier this year, right after I had recovered from my injury, this bug hit. I allowed it to go untreated for almost a month, by which time I had bronchitis, was being tested for pneumonia, and was under instructions from my boss to not show up at work until I had a clear chest X-ray.  NOT THIS TIME!!!

I’ve been sick for about a week, and initially I thought I was just catching a cold.  But when I get colds, I get a stuffy nose and an unreasonable sensitivity to normal Kleenex.  I become a tissue-snob, insisting on the expensive super-cushioned tissues because the regular ones feel like sandpaper. My eyes go red and rheumy, as if I’ve been on a month-long drinking binge. My skin gets red splotches all over it that makeup only serves to accentuate instead of conceal.

That’s not what I have. What I have is the fact that I cough up a lung every five minutes or so. It’s the kind of coughing that is so invasive that people who have workstations on the other end of the floor keep coming over to ask if I’m OK.  I have headaches. I am hungry because I am not eating properly.  I am not eating properly because whenever I have food in front of me, I suddenly feel ill and cannot face the thought of eating it. During parts of the day my entire body aches, and I am completely sapped of energy.

This cough, which I can tell from unfortunte prior experience is on the slippery slope to bronchitis, is troublesome for several reasons:
- I cannot run. This is bad for my physical wellbeing.  I need my exercise.  I am getting married 145 days from now and have to look prettier than Kate Middleton, who’s getting married the previous day.
- My incessant barking is bound to annoy the people around me.
- I cannot run. This is bad for my mental wellbeing.  Not running is driving me crazy, and that’s already a short trip.  I don’t need any help with that.
- Every time someone says something funny and I laugh, I end up breaking out into the ugly,hacking cough.
- During the really, really bad episodes of coughing, a tiny little bit of pee escapes.
- I cannot run.  I miss my Sunday long runs with the running club, and I miss my solo runs with my music.
- The kids are getting tired of having their bedtime stories punctuated by coughing.

My tendency to get bronchitis is probably my own fault.  I never had this problem when I was a kid.  I first got bronchitis when I was about 21 and not following the healthiest of lifestyles.  Although I succeeded in quitting smoking almost fifteen years ago, the fact is that I was a smoker for a decade and probably weakened my lungs considerably.  I am hoping that the more I run, the stronger my lungs will get and the less this will happen.  The fact that I have not been sick since February is an indication that things are moving in the right direction.

Today I will be going to the doctor, who will no doubt give me some nice drugs to take.  Within a day, I will start to feel the cough retreat, and by the weekend, I could be running again.

Let the war on the bug begin…

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Invasion of the Body-Snatcher Bugs

OK, that’s it.  I’ve had enough of this nonsense, and it is time for me to take charge of this situation.  My body belongs to ME.  It does not belong to this pesky bug that is invading it, making it feel sick and trying to keep it down.  This bug has been here before, and on previous visits I have waited until I was sick for weeks before seeing a doctor and getting rid of it.  Earlier this year, right after I had recovered from my injury, this bug hit. I allowed it to go untreated for almost a month, by which time I had bronchitis, was being tested for pneumonia, and was under instructions from my boss to not show up at work until I had a clear chest X-ray.  NOT THIS TIME!!!

I’ve been sick for about a week, and initially I thought I was just catching a cold.  But when I get colds, I get a stuffy nose and an unreasonable sensitivity to normal Kleenex.  I become a tissue-snob, insisting on the expensive super-cushioned tissues because the regular ones feel like sandpaper. My eyes go red and rheumy, as if I’ve been on a month-long drinking binge. My skin gets red splotches all over it that makeup only serves to accentuate instead of conceal.

That’s not what I have. What I have is the fact that I cough up a lung every five minutes or so. It’s the kind of coughing that is so invasive that people who have workstations on the other end of the floor keep coming over to ask if I’m OK.  I have headaches. I am hungry because I am not eating properly.  I am not eating properly because whenever I have food in front of me, I suddenly feel ill and cannot face the thought of eating it. During parts of the day my entire body aches, and I am completely sapped of energy.

This cough, which I can tell from unfortunte prior experience is on the slippery slope to bronchitis, is troublesome for several reasons:
- I cannot run. This is bad for my physical wellbeing.  I need my exercise.  I am getting married 145 days from now and have to look prettier than Kate Middleton, who’s getting married the previous day.
- My incessant barking is bound to annoy the people around me.
- I cannot run. This is bad for my mental wellbeing.  Not running is driving me crazy, and that’s already a short trip.  I don’t need any help with that.
- Every time someone says something funny and I laugh, I end up breaking out into the ugly,hacking cough.
- During the really, really bad episodes of coughing, a tiny little bit of pee escapes.
- I cannot run.  I miss my Sunday long runs with the running club, and I miss my solo runs with my music.
- The kids are getting tired of having their bedtime stories punctuated by coughing.

My tendency to get bronchitis is probably my own fault.  I never had this problem when I was a kid.  I first got bronchitis when I was about 21 and not following the healthiest of lifestyles.  Although I succeeded in quitting smoking almost fifteen years ago, the fact is that I was a smoker for a decade and probably weakened my lungs considerably.  I am hoping that the more I run, the stronger my lungs will get and the less this will happen.  The fact that I have not been sick since February is an indication that things are moving in the right direction.

Today I will be going to the doctor, who will no doubt give me some nice drugs to take.  Within a day, I will start to feel the cough retreat, and by the weekend, I could be running again.

Let the war on the bug begin…

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Running into 2011

2010 did not start off well for me, especially from a running perspective.  As I rang in the New Year with Gerard, I was high on Percocet that was barely making a dent in the pain I was in.  Two days previously, a chiropractic adjustment had gone horribly wrong, and damaged a bundle of nerves in my neck and going all the way down my left arm. For the next six weeks or so, I was in unspeakable pain.  The next few weeks were a blur of doctor’s visits, emergency room visits, nights of crying myself to sleep in agony, and many, many drugs. A series of physiotherapy appointments gradually got me back on my feet, and almost three months after the original injury, I was finally allowed to try running again.

The first post-injury run did not go well. I was only able to run for about one kilometre, and it took more than eight minutes.  I kept getting shooting pains going up and down my left arm and I had to keep stopping for walk breaks. The following day I needed about an hour of intense physiotherapy. But I was officially on the road again. I had graduated from injury status to rehabilitation status. My next run two days later was a lot better, and from that point on, the improvement was exponential.  Still, it would be several months before I could say that my rehabilitation was complete.  Even now, I get the occasional twinge in my arm, which I am trying to resolve with the help of a sports massage therapist.

Despite the rough start to the year and the hammering that my average pace took as a result, I ended up having a busy running season. Here is a list of the races I took part in:
- Early April: 10km waterfront race in Pickering. It went OK, especially considering that this was just two weeks after I had started running again.
- Early May: Sporting Life 10K down Yonge Street. I enjoyed this event and I was happy with my time of 1:05:00. Sadly, though, when I got home from the race I got word that my friend and fellow writer Tim had lost his battle with cancer.
- Late May: Whitby half-marathon. Despite some pre-race concerns about the organization of this event, it went really well. Gerard and the kids, along with some extended family, were cheering for me at the finish line.  My time was just over 2:25:00. This was just over two months after my first post-injury run – I was thrilled just to be able to finish a race of that distance.
- Mid-July: Acura Ten-Miler in the Distillery District. The less said about this, the better. It was not my finest moment. Life had gotten in the way of training, the course was mentally challenging and offered almost no shelter from the midsummer sun, and I pulled a hamstring. I finished the race in less than two hours, which is a miracle considering all that was wrong that day.
- Late September: the main event – my 2010 Run for Autism, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon. I cannot put into words the emotional high I was on when I crossed the finish line. It was phenomenal.  I managed a negative split, and beat my time from the previous year by a full six minutes.
- Mid-October: 10km zoo run. I did this race purely for the fun of it.  I had no expectations whatsoever.  I had an absolute blast and got a respectable enough time of 1:06:00 to boot.

All in all, not a bad year.  I put in almost 90km in races, and hundreds more in training.  I overcame a debilitating injury that I had at one point feared would sideline me for good, and I am looking forward to another great season in 2011.

So what does next year’s race calendar have in store for me?  I will start with the Resolution Run on New Years Day – just a fun 5km event that’s not even officially timed, but that does throw in a nice running jacket with the race kit. After that, I’m thinking of doing an 8km race in High Park in early April.  There are lots of hills in High Park, and they’re big hills.  It will be a tough run, but it will force me to be disciplined about hill training.

I have to give the Sporting Life 10K a miss because it’s happening the day after I get married.  I don’t think my new husband will be too pleased if I jump out of bed to go to a race at six in the morning.

At the end of May I will be running the Toronto Women’s Half-Marathon. They have a chocolate station and a water station manned by hunky shirtless firefighters.  I will be a married woman by then, but I am still a woman.  And chocolate is chocolate and shirtless firefighters are nice eye candy.

I’ll skip the Acura Ten-Miler, because my experience with it last year was enough to put a huge mental block to it in my head.  I am thinking about the Midsummer Night’s Run 15K instead, but that follows most of the same route.  I may have to figure out a summer race later on.  I may even have to find one I need to travel to.

At the end of September I will do the 10K zoo run again.  I had way too much fun to even consider missing that.  And then, in October, it will be time for my 2011 Run for Autism.  I have big plans for that – to break two hours.  That will mean chopping at least 22 minutes off of this year’s time, and that’s a massive chunk.  But I am nothing if not ambitious, and assuming I don’t start the year with an injury, I think it might be possible.  Especially since I am doing it for my boys.

There is no time for slacking.  Right after the Resolution Run on January 1st, I will be diving straight back into training mode.