Sunday, April 28, 2013

NOLA RnR 2014 Training Log

My colleague Dr. Julia Bates is a veterinarian in Madison, Wisconsin. She started a Facebook "event" to invite people to come race the New Orleans Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon with me on Feb 2, 2014.  She posted recently in it, reminding everyone that it's now less than 10 months away. Wow. I'm about 6.5 months post neck-breaking, and I can walk a mile in the walker, so no pressure for doing 13.1 miles in 10 months, right?
WANT TO JOIN MY EVENT? Cross the Finish Line with Monique
(warning: there will be a lot of animal docs!)

So I figured I should start training. Most of the training plans I know start 3 months out if you have the ability to run 3 miles a few times a week, so I'm shooting to be able to do that October this year. I don't have a coach, heck I don't know if anyone would know what to do with me. But I've got a game plan.

I'm posting my training log. I'm anal about it when I do it, a "data whore" if you will, so it'll be kept up to date. I started today.
One thing to remember! I'm  reminding myself more than you. While walking, speed is not the key. Form is. Bad habits, suck as hiking my hip, are hard to avoid and I have to keep focused. So i'm timing myself but that's not really a  good measuring tool.
Also, the loop around my house is 0.45 miles, so I'm using that to start with.

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO: Click HERE to link to my training log

Is it possible? No one can answer that but me. And, beats me! But damned if I'm not going to plan on it.

RnR nola 2012

RnR nola 2013

RnR nola 2014

Friday, April 26, 2013

300 Yard & Career Change Consideration Friday Update!

Q: How much can Monique presently swim in a pool without drowning?
A: At least 300 yards!

Woohoo! It's not nearly what I could do before, though yay! My right knee still ain't bending properly, but it's proprioceptively behaving so I'm stoked. It's hard to keep my legs from sinking to deep - what's up with that, a weak core or something? Any swimmers out there with the answers I'd be grateful to hear it!


I'm allowed to cane about on even surfaces where nothing is going to knock me over. That means if I come to visit you at your house I'm caning it!

 Me & my "quad" cane. My drawing skills are terrible but at least you can always tell my right leg! (it;s the straight one)

I've been driving for a week; only locally but hey! I still have to build up my stamina for longer drives (sorry HOU and NOLA and COV and CoMO and all my other friends that I swear I will visit) but local is fabulous.

My therapist Wulf is quite brave - he takes people with strokes etc out to see if they can drive. Here he is in my 1999 Chevy Silverado, 300000+ miles, no A/C, me driving with my left foot.
It all worked out fantastically, I swear!!

WORK - I'm a vet, I like to write, I like wildlife & pets & people & making sure things are done precisely. I'm digging being part of the city. Helping cyclists. And racing.
You see, I erroneously believed that I'd be let back easily to my previous job, and now that I wasn't they're being elusive about what I actually need to accomplish to do it. My therapists wrote another report, the doc signed off on it again, so We'll See.
BUT it has me thinking about quality of life and all that jazz. I lacked that before this broken neck thing. I like to WORK, this not working stuff is hard for me. I'm down with a career change. I'll go back to school even. Whatever it takes. So hey I'm open to suggestions, please hit me up if ya got any! HAPPY FRIDAY YA'LL!!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Have to skip this Monday!

Toooo busy, can't post vet stuff today! Will revisit next week! Have an awesome Monday!

Friday, April 19, 2013

FREEday Update!

What a Week! Our Heroine is Not back at work yet, she STILL is stayed by paperwork red tape! She Was, However, okayed to drive! She says, "Just Locally, but MAN will that help! This week proved she can take care of Snakebyte all on her own again, she can Accomplish independency in life, and is Well on the road to feeling like her Old Self again. Not to mention, Walking! From Facebook: "Totally, Our Heroine walked in therapy. No cane, nothin. She says, this Does Not mean she'll be able to do it consistently for even maybe Months, but it Does Foreshadow being able to do it consistently in even maybe Months."(The scribe meant Today instead of Totally!)

With this comes Internal Struggles. She says, "I AM extremely lucky, blessed, and All of it; it could have been so much worse! I keep feeling I should have been Dead or Hurt Worse, like I'm a walking miracle, and that's so so tough because I've met SO many people that will never have the opportunities I do. (And it's True; a Broken Neck would have been a death sentence without modern Medicine!)
"BUT this is where the hard part comes in. In order to move forward, I can't let all this define Me. The sadness of Other People's plights should not stop me from Moving Ahead with recovery. I cannot get "Used" to being disabled and start identifying myself That Way.
"Life could have been Worse for me. It is Time to Accept that, and Move On."

The Devil's Courthouse, North Carolina
Up there is where I first told Nic I loved him!

Life ain't just great for me. I have to drive with my left leg, probably for a while to come. I can't type with all the fingers on my right hand because of tendonesis. Pianoing is hard because of this too. I still have a very diminished sense of feeling in the lower half of my body. My legs are Always tight and pulling and crawling - I wonder if they'll ever relax! I don't know if my blood pressure or heart rate will ever be where I can race again (this point is hard; I'm determined it will though it's something I can't control!) I am definitely sweating again, and I'm going  to pretend that it will be to a point where I can thermoregulate.
Actually I'm determined to get ALL of it back. This is scary, what if it doesn't happen? There are things I can't control. I right now for me have to believe I'll get that back too. Quickly. This year. It's so easy to think that I shouldn't but I guess that doesn't really matter. Like any injury, some people can be crippled for life by an incredibly close or similar injury than someone who can be completely normal again. I have an Incredible amount of challenges, some people I know had barely any. Many had so many more. So I fall in between.
HA I'm struggling with this so much! I guess because I feel guilty and scared all at the same  time.

Meanwhile, balancing as much as I can! Falling because my therapist says it's teaching my ankle to balance. Learning how to work with diminished senses. Strengthening. Living.

Tiny Speckled Kingsnake at my house yesterday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

How to Be a Veterinarian, Part 2: Make sure it's what you want!

SO, do you really want to become a veterinarian? A vet is in charge of the decision making for the animal's health, and often it's the techs that do most of the hands-on (though, if the animal is particularly hard to handle, the dangerous work is usually up to you!) The health and well-being of your patients is YOUR responsibility, and you will be held accountable if something detrimental happens to the animal if you or your staff make wrong decisions. There is a lot of paperwork involved, and you have to be able to make a living even though people often don't/won't have the means to pay for the services they need.

School is rigorous and not cheap. About a 3.8 average GPA will get you in, and then you will spend years of your life consumed is study. Starting out pay for vets is between $40K-&60K, but school can cost $150K to upwards of $250K. I graduated in 2005 owing $230K, and my first job paid $57K. This means I owe close to $1900 a month just in student loans. I am incredibly limited by my job choices due to the amount of money I owe! Here's a very pertinent article from the New York Times in 2013:

I Love My Job!!! But I had the wrong Idea about what my life was going to be like, make sure you don't make that mistake! There are many ways to work with animals that may be just as, if not more, satisfying than being a veterinarian depending on what you want to do!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Poem About Walking

I walked on my own
Between the fridge and the couch
(typical American, right?;)
And it felt like I feel when I'm running
Fully focused on form
Just thinking to myself
Instead of,
"Forefoot, heel kisses ground, flick back"
"Heel, push off toes, full weight, relax hip"
Instead of,
"Slight lean from ankles, small elbow drive back, soft hands"
"Feel abs, stand tall, shoulders back, fingers straight"
And I want to go Fast
But form is more important
And the similarity is making me

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday's Update Spectacular!

Me: I'm soooo sensitive to ambient temperature! I wonder what people did a long time ago before air conditioning when they broke their necks. Oh, that's right, they died!
Nic: Yeah, life was much simpler back then.
Me: Sigh. Things are quite complicated in this day and age.

In the news:

Drugs-down to 25mg baclofen a day, and that does it for prescriptions! I was on 7+ types of meds so this is fantastic. Baclofen is an anti-spasmodic that I'm slowly weaning down. Spasms, by true definition, are created by disruptions in the spinal cord. Related to the hypertonicity of my leg, it happens when the muscle tries to talk to the brain via the spinal cord, and the message is all garbled, making  the muscle twitch or contract in various ways. There's a possibility I'll need it long-term, but it's really a small possibility, and way more likely I never needed it in the first place! Baclofen just never seemed to work for me. It doesn't cause any side effects really, I just don't want to be on meds if I don't need them. My spasms are considerably better; now they're tiny and just a bit annoying every once in a while.
Spasms are hard for me to talk about because they can be debilitating, they can progressively get worse, and many people have them and they never ever ever go away. I'm just hopeful mine will since I'm so highly functioning. But I'm getting sad and fearful just typing about it.
Luckily I haven't had ANY pain since the first few weeks of hospitalization, and I haven't needed pain meds at all this year!

Work-well...this week? The only thing holding me up is honestly redundant superfluous paperwork. Incredibly frustrating. I'm losing hundreds of dollars a day because of it.

Taxes-done! almost ;)

Bike court-I was all prepared to defend myself, it was a no-brainer really and after reading  the laws it was very clear to me that I was in no way in the wrong. THEN I happened to know a lawyer who was there for other cases, who is also a runner/triathlete, who discussed my case with the judge and had my tickets cleared! Woohoo! Not that I wouldn't have won it on my own but it was a big weight off my shoulders. Also there was Ben Broussard, who's family, if you remember, took the video of Nic and me crossing the finish line. Completely ran into him by chance. I love this place!
This is the video, how awesome Ben & Family! Whoa, Really loud!

Driving-soon I hope!

Therapy-FaBuLoUs!! Finally got to try the e-stim machine that would help my hams overcome my quads, but it didn't work very well for me after all. MAINLY because I've improved so much over the last couple of weeks that it was obsolete! It's not perfect, but my quads are really starting to calm down. Things are looking totally up! No One Knows, I may never get better past this point, but I'm expected to make a 95%+ recovery. I say 100%.
My hand is also getting better! I can shake hands again now - this is big! - and my strength and function is returning. SLOW but definite progress. I get frustrated but Simonne my OT can always show me where I've made progress even if I can't see it myself.

Geaux Run rocks. You should check them out.

FestiVELO-Laffy's 1st Bike Festival was last Sunday, and a huge success! It's "Bike To Work" week this week. I'm incredibly hopeful for the cycling future here!

Lastly, I'm part of another blog if you haven't checked it out already, with two other women that battle life-threatening lifestyle changes. We're all the same age, all are mothers, and all stay healthy despite our challenges! Here's the link:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday's How To Be A Veterinarian, Part 1: Careers in Veterinary Medcine

There are many types of veterinarians; the field is much more versatile than a lot of people know! Some depend on if you get board certification, which usually requires a residency; more on that later. There are also military positions available, private industry, and many others. Here's a list of some of the fields you can enter.

Small animal veterinarians
Equine veterinarians
Food animal veterinarians
Food safety and inspection veterinarians
Research veterinarians
Professors, etc
DVM with Board Certification (for specialization)

Alternative medicine
Animal behavior
Animal welfare
Birds (pet and ornamental)
Clinical pathology
Clinical pharmacology
Diagnostic imaging
Emergency and critical care
Internal medicine
Laboratory animal medicine
Preventive medicine
Reptile and amphibian
Shelter medicine
State veterinary medicine
Sports medicine
Zoo animals and wildlife
You can make a veterinary career as rewarding as you like! There are so many ways to be a vet that just about any personality type would fit in. My colleagues are all very different but we mesh so well.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Asics Rocks!

My brand new shoes, a gift from Asics!

Gel-Excel 33

Nic has an awesome family. For example, his brother-in-law Patrick. Patrick is married to Nic's amazing sister Analise. He's a PhD at Harvard and he works with  tiny tiny things that you can't see without a microscope. Even though I'm a doctor he still does things that I don't understand. He's also super sweet, great with kids, incredibly thoughtful, etc etc. Anyway, he mentioned our story to Asics since we were wearing matching Speedstar 5s in the New Orleans Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon picture. In fact, the Today Show even honed in on our shoes, ha!
Patrick & Analise!

Analise and her twin sister Laura Zaunbrecher are world-class triathletes. Laura had recommended the Speedstars to us, and she even wore hers at the race too!

Laura, Nic, & me with our Speedstars at the NOLA R'n'R Half Marathon 2013!
Charles did Not have on Speedestars, but he loves Asics too ;)

Because Patrick piqued their interest, I sent Asics the real story behind my shoes, and I'll include it here. It's long, & it's what you've mostly heard before, so I've only included the good parts ;) And because of this story, they sent me a very warm email and New Shoes!

I had been placing well in previous triathlons and training hard for this one. But not 2 weeks before it I was cycling & struck by an unlicensed driver, breaking his windshield and my neck. Nic brought me my walking shoes when we realized that I was going to be long-term, maybe months, in the hospital.

BUT I asked him to bring my Speedstars instead. I had missed my birthday triathlon, my whole life was in danger, and I needed something to focus on. For me that was racing again. YES I wanted to continue being a great mother, and continue my fulfilling job as a veterinarian. However focusing on racing again kept me motivated to be on my feet again, even when I wasn’t sure that was going to be possible. During my 2 months of hospitalization I wore them daily. They were my constant reminders of the life I was determined to lead again.
I had barely started using a walker when the 2013 RnR NOLA came around. I *knew* it was out of the question for me, but Laura & I had planned on racing it together and she had already scheduled her trip here to do it. Nic and I were just going to watch her race. But at the last minute (this seems to be a recurring theme for me) I received a free entry from her boyfriend. Nic offered to push the wheelchair, & we decided to do it! I plan on racing it again next year, this time completely under my own steam!
So that’s the rest of the story behind the picture at the finish. I still wear only those Asics to therapy. I do expect to race again. I was told to replace the sole of the right one with leather so I could slide it forward (my knee isn’t bending quite yet) but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Guess I’ll get another pair to do that instead!

Friday, April 5, 2013


Maybe I'll fry something today? Maybe there are baby fish today?

I changed the blog title! And some other stuff! Still a bit more work to do! I don't like the background color. Comments/suggestions appreciated!

So we DID get to go to the Holi Festival last weekend, yay!!! I didn't realize how tired I must look all the time. or how bad my posture has become, until I saw the pictures. BUT, I'm working on it!!
Snakebyte, Nic, and Ji. Liam HAD to show you his shoes!

Matt & Emily

Silly! Oh, man, I love this guy!

We gave a talk to the Rotary Club of Lafayette North this week. It was a great honor because they organized a blood drive to help pay for my medical bills. These are Wonderful people and they do So Much for the community. Besides for being HUGE advocates for the cycling community, they're also working hard for polio eradication. I'll post more on that later.I was incredibly happy to meet them.

I also went Swimming this week! At Chris Pool. This is a program run by the Lafayette paralympics coordinator, and they meet twice a week. And I Could Freestyle!! My core is still weak, my right knee won't bend as much as it should, and my hands won't listen, but I could totally do it. SO stoked!
Earl J Chris Pool


This is for the tickets I received. I pleaded Not Guilty. Wednesday, 8:30a.

Dr. Terro (chiropractor) is continuing to work with me, and PT/OT is getting harder it seems because I can actually work at it, which is rockin'. I can bend my knee even more now and I'm remaining hopeful it will be normal soon. This is big news. My hands are Definitely coming along, definite improvement, just soo slowly!

Me, I'm Exhausted. I've been sick, and all my muscles are achy. Therapy is *finally* where I can build a lot of muscle & it's tiring (in a good way.) Swimming is awesome & also wears me out. At home I'm doing Pilates on my own every day and yoga through the guidance of my friend Julie.
There's also arguing with social security now which is draining. They denied my claim from over 5 months ago. I hope to be able to go back to work for good, but I don't know if my fingers will ever get back to normal. If I go back to work they probably will deny my appeal. If I don't, my leave will run out & I'll start losing money.

Sheesh. I want to just give in & learn to live with my lot in life, but I figure, once you really really realize that life's unfair, you have no choice but to continue to work hard to get to being happy. It's tough, but ain't nothing more to livin than tryin!

If you're in Laffy, go to FestiV√ČLO de Lafayette in Parc Sans Souci this Sunday! April is Bike Month in Lafayette and FestiV√ČLO is the kickoff party. I'll be there!!!

Did I mentioned I was stoked about swimming???? :)

Have an awesome weekend!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday's How to Be a Veterinarian: Intro & Symbol Explanation!

I get a lot of questions about this, and I think the better question is should I be a veterinarian! I'll answer the how to be a vet question first, and then we can discuss! I think every Monday I'm going to continue this section of the blog. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, or if you're a vet, if you have anything to add!

I'll start with the explanation of the veterinary symbol. The "Rod of Aesculapius" is known as the more "correct" and traditional symbol of medicine, and has a single snake entwined around a staff. Aesculapius was a Greek deity associated with healing and medicinal arts. He was the son of Apollo and a student of Chiron, the centaur. Aesculapius carried a cypress staff with a single snake wrapped around it when he was in his human form. He was given the divine rank of the god of medicine. Hippocrates, the "father of medicine," is thought to begin his career in one of Aesculapius's temples.

The Caduceus, which is more often used as the symbol of medicine, has its roots in Hermes. Hermes was a diplomat and ambassador, and known to be a bringer of peace. Wings are associated with him because he was a swift messenger. The caduceus seems to have arisen by Hermes' links in alchemy. The myth is that Hermes threw his staff between two fighting snakes and stopped their quarrel. Therefore RD's ("Real Doctors," my term for MD's ;) use a rod with 2 snakes wrapped around it with wings, the "caduceus."

Where I graduated from! This is the veterinary symbol. The snake always looks to the left.

So again, any questions, answers, comments, etc you can message me!Talk to ya next Monday!!! Have a great week!

Thanks to the following for the info: