Pedal Another Mile

Bicycling, death, life after death.

A week's worth of posts in one easy package

:) I can't think of a better title since I'll be all over the place in this one :)

Last Thursday was the final of the weekly bereavement workshops. It goes back to third Thursday of the month now. The speaker was Rachel, and she shared her story with us. Her and her husband David were expecting their second child and discovered that he had a rare genetic defect called Trisomy 13, also called Patau syndrome as well as many heart defects. 80% of children born with this do not live to see their first birthday, and Jason was one of them. The NICU at the hospital was not very supportive, and the family felt rather alone as a result. Thankfully, friends, family, and their church helped them, giving them gifts, books, and support they needed. Joliet Area Hospice was there for them as they brought their son home. Counseling and therapy helped some, but something was still missing.

This is where she decided to have their son live on by doing something for parents that find themselves in similar situations, and began a foundation called Heavenly Brothers. This foundation creates boxes to help parents get through what is no doubt a ridiculously difficult time in their lives. It has taken nearly three years, but in January the foundation received 501(c)(3) status - quite an accomplishment. If you are interested in donating or for more information, the website is here. Note: It has auto playing music so if you're at work you may want to make sure your speakers are lowered. 

Rachael had a choice... let this ruin the rest of her life (and her husband's and young son's in the process) or as she put it, forge a new path. She chose to forge a new path and now not only does her son's memory live on, it thrives every time a new box is delivered and helps a family that needs it. The hospital is also making changes so no parents have to deal with what they did, and she is a vital part of those changes. A giant bureaucratic-filled hospital is taking direct input from someone they wronged. Amazing.

I am telling you about this to reiterate the fact that we all can choose the path we will take. If you come to a fork in life and don't like the way either path looks, forge a new one. It's up to you. No one can make you choose or forge paths - it's up to you.

Before the workshop, I had a doctor appointment to discuss the blood tests I mentioned a few weeks ago as well as some other items. The doctor told me that the stress and depression I was under was literally going to kill me if it had not stopped. I had heart attack or stroke making a beeline straight for me. I would have been lucky to see 50.

Quite scary. I wish I had been able to discover the new me a lot sooner. I know the stress would have been there... it was so total and enveloping that I had no chance of escaping it, but I likely could have lessened its control over me by seeking help, by letting my feelings out, by doing anything other than what I did - hold it all in. I know I sound like a broken record now, but do not think you can handle things on your own. You may be able to, but if your feelings don't change, if your mood doesn't improve, if your health begins to slide, you are NOT capable of handling it on your own. If you don't feel comfortable talking to anyone, professional or not, then at least write stuff down to release the pressure valve a bit. 

Being told that you were heading down a path of doom is a bit hard to take, however, I have reversed all the serious issues I had. I truly feel as good physically and mentally as I have at all in the past 20 years. As a result, I am now either off most of my prescription drugs or tapering down for a month before stopping them. The only one left is Linosipril for high blood pressure, but he thinks I may be off that later this year. If we get to that point, I will be medication-free. I am unsure when the last time was that I could say such a thing.  As if on cue, tomorrow marks the five year anniversary of me quitting smoking.

I was told by a friend that I needed to watch a show that just started this year, a sitcom starring Matthew Perry (Friends) called Go On, on NBC. He is a 40-something guy who loses his wife and joins a support group in order to keep his job. He doesn't want to go, he just wants his paperwork filled out. That changes. Weird topic for a sitcom but it works, and I can relate to things going on in this show. Some are downright eerie. It's like they are in my head.

Here's a clip from the pilot. No, this isn't what I was talking about when I said relating... and the group I am in is not anything like this, but it will give you an idea of the premise

I love it, and hope it gets picked up for another season. 

Finally, last Saturday I got to ride my bike! Outside!! It wasn't too windy, it was about 43 and sunny, and I said screw it - I'm not waiting for spring any longer. Felt great to be back on the road :) - it was a little cold but not too bad:

I also am in week 3 of Couch to 5K and ran it outside with Wrigley yesterday, as opposed to on a treadmill. I still friggin' hate running, but I am determined to try and run that entire National Ovarian Cancer Coalition 5K in May... no walking. After that I can start really getting ready for the big goal of the year - RAGBRAI in late July.