Friday, December 31, 2010


I love my job. Not in a brown-nosing, hope my boss reads this sort of way, but in the truest sense. There are days and moments when it is rough and I get frustrated, but there are other moments that make it totally worthwhile. On the list of things I am thankful for this year, my job is definitely there. I love interacting with my patients (I had a guy this week who was in the Army stationed in the Dominican Republic when Castro tried to take over- he told me all about it), love helping them and their families understand what is going on (sometimes "Translating" doctor-speak into layman's terms), and sometimes actually walking away feeling like I saved a life. Not only that, but I feel valued by the hospital where I work.

I work with 12+ doctors, and equate dealing with them to dealing with my kids. Not any comment on their maturity- just on the fact that they all have different personalities and different preferences in their medical treatment of patients. (Just like I know which of my children won't eat mushrooms or drink milk, I know which cardiologist prefers which medication in a given situation). It takes some work to get them all figured out, but after 5 years I feel like the code has been cracked.

There are the mundane daily moments, but then there are the moments that make my job so incredibly rewarding. These are the moments when I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I had a conversation with one of our ICU nurses the other day. We were talking about patients at the end of life. In our hospital, we see a lot of elderly patients (if I don't see three people age 90 or older in a given day, it is an unusual day). Many of them live independently, and are very functional. At the same time, many have "DNR" (Do Not Resuscitate or Allow Natural Death) wishes. In light of the odds of a successful recovery after CPR at age 90+, this is pretty reasonable for most of our patients. This means that we deal with a lot of patients at end of life, many of whom have very peaceful passings. We fight as hard as we can up until the point they opt for just care, or the point where their bodies tell us it is time.

In our conversation, we talked about working with patients and their families during end of life. Sometimes they can be challenging. Then you step back and remind yourself that this is our daily experience, while this is the biggest event/crisis in this family's life at this point in time...perhaps ever. Sometimes you can help them through it with compassion, but without getting emotionally attached. Occasionally, there are those patients and families who find their way into your heart. You stop by to check on them one last time before you go home for the day, you go home thinking about them, your heart sinks when you find out they have passed away. Even though the clinical part of your brain knows that it was their time, you feel immense sadness that you couldn't do more.

I met Mr. B two years ago. Without sounding cocky, I helped as a part of our team to save his life. It was a group effort, and he was in the hospital for over a month. He could be very opinionated, but for some reason we clicked and he was always wonderful to me. He never gave me a hard time. I got to know his family very well, and came to look forward to seeing them. He was back a couple of times over the past two years, but never quite as sick or for quite as long. When I saw his daughter last week in the elevator, she told me it was time. Instead of walking to my car, where I was headed, I went to see him. He was awake, his vital signs looked decent, and his first comment was "You changed your hair since last time I saw you." (Really? He noticed that?) I was able to check in on him a couple of times a day, and he declined a bit between each visit. I went home thinking about him and his family every day. My husband was extremely supportive when I came home one day particularly down because he and his family were weighing on my mind. I was saddened to hear of his passing on Christmas Day, and even more disappointed that the stomach flu kept me from his funeral this week. If we were affected in this way by every patient, we could never do our jobs. Though if this didn't happen every once in a while, we wouldn't be good at our jobs.

So to the speechless part...I got a phone call at work on Monday from a co-worker to make sure I read Mr. B's obituary. I had been looking for it anyway to get details on his funeral arrangements. After the information about his wonderful family and the memorial service, I was floored to read this. "In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in honor of Kiersten Henry's dedicated friendship and care to St. Luke's Episcopal Church" In the face of all his family had to deal with, they were thanking me for the small part I played in his care. Yes, I checked in on him and looked out for him, but his family was there day and night with him, surrounding him with love. Moments like these remind me why I love my job- because sometimes a kind word and some compassion make all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Today I was standing in the greeting card section at the drug store. I have a tendency to be a bit of a sap (read: I cry at EVERYTHING). So I'm standing there looking for a card for my husband, getting all choked up as I read them. I don't think it is that the cards are so amazingly well-written, they just articulate feelings I already have. So I'm standing amidst the tinsel and getting choked up. Did I mention I am a sap?

On that note, I had to share a very funny exchange that occurred last night after my 8 year old and I went to the grocery store. To set the context, my kids have been watching "The Santa Clause" movies this week. In the movies, the fireplace stretches magically to allow Santa to get into the house, then snaps back to its original form. Pretty cool.

So here we are in the car...
S: "Does it hurt to have a baby?"
Me: "Well, it was a lot of work, but totally worth it."
S: "Oh"
Me: "Do you understand how babies come out of their Moms?" (We've talked around this before, but never broken out the diagrams. My Mom once explained it and my son piped up "Ewwwwww.that is esgusting!")
S: "They come out your bellybutton" (Uh oh, here we go).
Me: "Not exactly. Do you understand how babies are made?"
S: "Blah Blah Blah (relatively accurate and detailed explanation)...Sperm...Blah blah blah"
Me: (Did my 8 year old just use the word sperm?????? Next she will be spelling "gestation" for me!!!) "That is about right. Where did you learn all that?"
S: "I read it in a book."
Me: "Really? What book?"
S: "I don't remember. It was at the church book sale."
Me: (Thinking to myself "You can't make this stuff up!"). (Provide explanation of where babies actually come out of the body)
S: "How does that work?"
Me:"Well, the bones move, things stretch, and then they go back to where they belong."
S: (Ponders.....) "Oh, like Santa coming through the fireplace in the movie. Got it. Can I have dessert when we get home?"

How come these conversations never happen for Tommy?????

Monday, December 20, 2010

Keeping the Christmas Magic

I feel thankful this year that my 8-year-old still believes in Santa. I can tell she is fighting hard to keep believing. She is a smart cookie, and she knows there are some inconsistencies, but she keeps on believing. Even in the face of friends who tell her that they don't believe in Santa, she keeps believing. I tell her "I guess they won't be getting a present from Santa, then."

Where is "Myths and Fables and Good Parenting for Dummies?" when you need it? We were watching the Santa Clause 2 last night, and my 4 1/2 year old was quizzing me about the tooth fairy. "Is our tooth fairy a Boy or a Girl?" "Where does our tooth fairy live?" and on....and on.... The pressure of answering these questions is almost as bad as worrying about your kids growing up to be fine, upstanding citizens one day. No one wants to ruin all the little hopes and dreams these guys have. The upside is, I'm confident my daughter will help keep her brother believing once she finds out Santa is more a spirit than a person.

So this brings me to the seasonal struggle. My children are fortunate to have a home, food, a good school. How do you balance allowing them to enjoy the magic of the season, without letting them get spoiled by all of it? I would like to think we do a good job, but I did jump on last night for the "one last thing" that I heard both of them mention. There are no tantrums, no demands, just nicely printed lists and requests. (My daughter's list was only 3 items so she could help ensure that she got what she wanted).

To keep the spirit of the season in mind, we have always donated toys to local charities. The kids see the toys, help pack them up, and understand where they are going. I hope this instills them with the idea that Christmas is just as much about giving as it is about receiving. This year, a friend of mine has been very involved in the Toy Drive for children hospitalized at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Her own son went through multiple surgeries there after his birth last year, and now she is paying it forward. We got to hand off our big bag of toys to one of her elves yesterday, and hope they bring lots of smiles to the kids at CNMC. Thank you Leigh-Ann for being selfless (I don't know how you find the time for this, but I'm glad you did).

So what is the right answer? My kids will have the gifts they hope for under the tree this year, but I hope we have helped them to see that there is so much more to this season. I guess only time will tell. (So far, they are both on the "Nice" list).
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Road to Recovery

The last couple of months have been a bit rough. Even as I type that, I know that friends are going through much "rougher", more life-changing events right now. I've had some crappy moments, but they are all in the "this too shall pass" category. All things that I can see to the other side of. Will they shape the fabric of my life from here on? Of course. (Do I sound like a commercial for cotton? maybe). Have I really processed my ectopic pregnancy and the loss that went with it? I don't think so. It was such a surreal experience from start to finish that it seems like it happened to someone else. For me, being open about things helps tremendously. Others prefer to keep things to themselves, and I fully respect that.

When I felt good enough to get back on my bike/in the pool/ out for a run, I realized my knee was still a problem. So here I sit, ice machine flowing, after arthroscopy to fix a torn meniscus. It was torn in three places. No wonder it freaking hurt!

I also sit here looking forward. I look forward to starting PT tomorrow. I look forward to thinking about my first race. I have kept my 2011 schedule very open, so that I can see how recovery goes. I am thankful to have an orthopedist who gets athletes, and knows I want to be back out there.

Even more, I am thankful for all the love and support from friends, family, and teammates. I am on the road to recovery, and I can't wait to pound some serious pavement.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


When you use the word "Angel", sometimes the stereotypical, ethereal being with halo and wings comes to mind. To me, an angel can be someone who comes along at the right moment, just when you need them, to lend a hand. It is simple as the woman who stopped a few years ago when my son was having a meltdown in the parking lot and carried my pizzas to my car for me. This allowed me to pick up my son (who was trying to lay down in the road), and not deposit my pizzas all over the asphalt.

Being home after surgery has led to a lot of reflection. A lot has gone on in the past few months, but I feel like I am in a great place. One of the reasons for this is that I have so many wonderful people in my life. There are those who we probably take for granted. My husband Tommy is amazing. There is a reason I married him. He is my best friend, and has been there at every moment when I've needed him. Even if we weren't quite on the same page, we were trying to get there together. He dropped everything at work to be there for me when I was unexpectedly in the hospital. (In his field, dropping everything is a little more complicated than some).

There are people in our lives that we probably take for granted. Our spouses, parents, siblings (their spouses)...they jump in when you need them most. My family has been amazing. I'm so thankful for their love and support.

Sometimes the "angels" are those people who come to lend a hand at an unexpected moment, from an unexpected place. A wise woman I know told me recently that sometimes people are put in our lives for a reason. I was totally overwhelmed by the unexpected people who reached out to me when I needed them. People who shared their own stories, those who sent me notes or an encouraging email (or a "something borrowed" to help me get through), those who brought me food in the hospital (who knew Nerds would be the one thing that helped my nausea?), those who made dinner despite dealing with so much in their own lives.... I only hope that I can return the kindness one day.

My experiences of late have given me greater appreciation for...
Random acts of kindness
My family
Taking a moment to do something that might seem small, but will brighten another person's day
The little things

Friday, December 10, 2010


While it is very cliche, I think we would all agree that families come in all forms. I am fortunate to have a wonderful "biological" family. In addition, I have wonderful friends I consider my family.

Some of them are new friends. I am so excited to get to know the new members of the Team Trakkers family (more on that to come soon). Through work and the sport of triathlon, my extended family has grown.

This week I was reminded that sometimes the closest friends aren't those we necessarily talk to on a regular basis. Nadia and I grew up together. I was 3 and she was 2 when we met. We lived on the same court, and literally had the run of a large neighborhood for over a decade. We were complete "pool rats" in the summer (endless games of Sharks and Minnows, and hide and go seek when the pool closed). There were countless sleepovers (including the time she and I camped out on her kitchen floor when my Mom was in labor at the hospital with my sister Meredith). She has a large family, and I was considered one of the gang. I was always at family functions, and her uncles teased me just as much as they did her.

April 1981 (Ages 4 and 5)

We saw each other less in our teenage years, but were fortunate to reconnect as adults. We have daughters who are actually two weeks apart in age. It has been so great to get together with our girls, which is like looking back 20 years. This week, I had the occasion to see Nadia's family every day. Do you ever have that total feeling of warmth and "home" when you see someone who brings with them fond memories? Seeing all of these people who were like a second family to me is like going to a reunion. I can't do the feeling justice, but it just feels reassuring. A lovely reminder that some bonds are stronger than time, the hectic pace of life, or anything else. I'm so thankful for such wonderful people in my life.

The next generation

Friday, December 3, 2010


5:15 am- The alarm goes off so I can swim
Motivated Me- "Get up, Sleepy Head"
Unmotivated Me- "There is a reason they invented the snooze button. You can cycle
on the trainer tonight."
Motivated Me- "When have you EVER felt like a workout on a Friday evening?
Fridays are always crazy at work."
Unmotivated Me- Saaahhhnooooozzzzzzeee
7 minutes later...Motivated Me wins out.

90 minutes later, after a glorious 30 minute swim (my first in over a month), I'm showered and pulling up in the driveway. Crap! The same lights are on as when I left. Are the kids still sleeping??? (Insert stress here). Tommy was going to get them up. I walk in the door and there are my awesome kids. They woke up for their alarm, are both dressed and getting their shoes on. I can talk, cajole, yell, stomp my feet, and it never happens this smoothly. Not only did they get themselves up and dressed, but they also got their Dad up. (He is a fan of "Snooze", too).

Work was great. Fridays are always crazy, but I was reminded that I have so many awesome friends, and I love my job! I think the workout this morning just seriously altered my perspective. Even the call from the orthopedist saying I have a torn meniscus and need surgery didn't put me in a bad mood. I'm hoping it will fix my pain and I can be back stronger in 2011 (my physician colleagues said I should ask for bionic parts while I am at it).

Murphy's Law on Fridays is that we will get lots of cardiac patients in the Emergency Department at 3pm. True to form, we had three. We got through them, had a nice time working with our ED staff, and I got out to buy birthday balloons for my daughter (am I seriously old enough to have an 8 year old???).

Dinner tonight was the Bday girl's we went to Sakura (the local Japanese Steakhouse). We had a blast, the kids were great, and there was cheesecake with a candle and "Happy Birthday".

It doesn't get better. Sure, my knee will hopefully get better, my fitness will get better, but LIFE. IS. GOOD.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Rev 3 Portland

Want a family-friendly 70.3 race on the West Coast? Check out Rev 3 Portland. After racing Rev3 Quassy and Cedar Point, I can attest to the fact that Rev 3 puts on an awesome race!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bring on December!

I've started about five blog posts in the past couple of weeks, but have never actually posted. My perkiness and pep are still escaping me (though I see a glimmer every know and then). I have tried to exercise, but the knee injury that started late this summer flares every time I try a lower body workout (run, elliptical, bike..). I am always one for "sucking it up", but apparently I need to see an expert...tomorrow I see the orthopedist.

November sucked on many levels (considering I started the month with a very unexpected stay in the hospital). At the same time, November included my sister's wedding which was a wonderful event filled with family, friends, and good times. On this last day of November, I am tired, I am grumpy, I am seriously missing exercise! Reading all of the race reports lately just makes me realize how much I miss it!

So how to break out of this funk? (*It isn't depression, definitely just an irritable state). I've realized I need to break it down into things I can change and things I can't, and look forward to the awesome things to come in December. I can't change that I was ill, that my knee is a wreck, or all of the things at work that are out of my control. I CAN suck it up, put on a smile, stop eating total junk, stop sweating the small stuff, work on getting my knee better, figure out a race calendar for 2011, start getting in workouts somehow, and enjoy my awesome family!

So bring on December. I am ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

An awesome time at my sister's wedding.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Where is my pep?????

Anyone who knows me well would probably agree that I am a relatively perky person normally. Perhaps a little bit Polyanna, glass is half full, try to make the best of it, but perky nonetheless.

This leads me to feel EXTREMELY frustrated that I have absolutely no pep these days. I know I am coming off of an illness, and that I have to give it time. Monday was my first day back at work after two weeks off (the first of which I pretty much spent in a supine position, on meds for pain and nausea). For the past three days, I have carried my gym bag into work, hoping for a short run at the end of the day. For the past three evenings, I have carried the back back out to my car without opening it. I worked later than planned on Monday, but each day have left work completely exhausted. Yes, we have been busy at the hospital, but not the busiest we've ever been.

I know I need to listen to my body and give it time. I keep reminding myself that just going to work and being on my feet all day is more exercise than I've had in two weeks. I still don't like it, though.

So enough whining, but if you find a little extra pep or perkiness lying around, would you please send it my way?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

How to Plan a Wedding in 3 Weeks

The setting: Uncle Rob's awesome log home in West Virginia (near Shepherdstown)
The Event: Girls Weekend, Taking a walk before lunch

The Conversation:
Meredith (My younger sister): "Trevor says maybe we should just save money and get married here."
Me (thinking to myself "Didn't we talk about this as a location MONTHS ago?) : "How about November 13th?"
Meredith: "That could work"

Three hours later, we were walking into David's bridal. The salesgirl never knew what hit here. In one hour, we had the perfect wedding gown, my dress, my daughter's dress, and the MOB dress for our Mom. This is what happens when the girls go to "relax". We also got wraps at Macy's since it will likely be chilly.

Fast Forward two weeks, t-minus 6 days from the wedding. My energy level is really frustrating....I can't do nearly the amount to help my sister that I thought I would be able to. If it involves physical labor, I am out. Thankfully she has lots of awesome friends and family to help. I am just hoping to be able to stay vertical for the wedding. It is amazing how everyone has pulled together to make this happen, and I know it will be beautiful.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Relinquishing Control

"Control is never achieved when sought after directly. It is the surprising outcome of letting go." James Arthur Ray

If you asked most people who know me well, I like to have control. I like to have a plan. Surprisingly, my job often involves very dynamic situations. We have to react quickly to changes in patient condition, and I manage to handle those crises pretty well. I like a plan, though. When my sister decided to plan her wedding in three weeks, she knew that I would be more than happy to be very involved in the planning process.

Over the past four weeks, I have been frequently reminded that sometimes life doesn't go according to plan. It just doesn't. Sometimes the changes are minor (a sick child, a car problem), and sometimes they are life-altering. They say that God doesn't give you more than you can handle, but I definitely think sometimes He tests your limits. I have commented before about people who "overshare" on their blogs, but I have come to realize lately that getting my thoughts on "paper" is healing for me (so this is me oversharing).

I found out last week that I was pregnant. We have two beautiful, amazing children. Lately, we have been enjoying the fact that our youngest is becoming more and more independent at 4 years old. We hadn't planned on a third, but apparently that plan was going to change. I selfishly thought about the things that I would put on hold for a few years. No triathlons in 2011... "Ok, I'll shoot for 140.6 when I turn 40" (that would give me 6 years). No more disaster medical team.... "Ok, that can be put on hold. I can still attend the trainings and keep up my skills." "We can't afford three kids in childcare...Ok, we will revise our schedules to eliminate before and aftercare for the two older kids." In a week, I had come up with a potential plan. It was a rough week. A lot of crying. A lot of guilt, for being shocked by this pregnancy when I know there are so many people who are trying so hard to have children. I felt tired, and nauseated, but tried to push through. Of course I started to become attached to this new little one.

On Monday, I started to feel uncomfortable. Pregnancy can make you uncomfortable, so I prescribed myself a dose of "Suck it up". Hours later, the pain was intense. (It should have been a sign when I put my jacket on the floor of my office and lay down for a few minutes trying to get comfortable). Eventually, my OB sent me to the ER. I was an emotional and physical disaster. I always feel fortunate to work with such amazing people, but even more fortunate to experience their skill and compassion when I needed it most. It took a ridiculous amount of pain medicine to get me comfortable, but they did. Tests showed that the pregnancy was ectopic (it was taking place in the fallopian tube rather than the uterus). This can be life-threatening, but thankfully they caught it in time. They were able to give me medicine and avoid surgery. It took an overnight stay to get the pain and nausea under control. The medicine (methotrexate) is a chemotherapy agent. It stays in my system for over a week, and causes nausea and other symptoms. I still have a fair amount of discomfort, but it gets a little better every day.

Three days later, I don't think I've begun to process it all. I went from thinking about how life would change with a baby, to not being pregnant in a week. I know I need to grieve, but I think I am too emotionally exhausted to be there yet. I do know that I don't have control over when it will happen, and just have to let things come as they may.

Above all, I am thankful for the love of my family and friends. Tommy has taken time off to take care of me, the kids have kept their fighting to a minimum, and everyone has been so wonderful with their offers for help. I couldn't ask for more. I am sure there is some lesson in all of this for us, I just don't see it yet.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I have this quote hanging in my office at work. I've had it for over a decade. I walk by it every day, but re-read it again yesterday. It sums up my 2010 race season (I finished my last two races injured because I was too stubborn, I mean persistent, too give up), and life in general right now.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race"
Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My 2010 Season in Pictures

Trakkers Gear!

Post-its from Jenn at HQ...always appreciated

Meeting Teammates

My first race sporting Trakkers Gear

My Daughter's First Race

Columbia Tri

Rev3 Quassy: Trakkers Tent

Rev3 Quassy

Half Rev Quassy

Working the Quassy Water Stop

Iron Girl Pre-Race

Pre-Race with Trakkers Teammate Kelly


Rev3 Cedar Point- Trakkers & First Endurance

Rev3 Cedar Point: My First Half!!!!!!!

LOVE the Rev3 Bike Racks!!!!

Cedar Point- Hotel Breakers

Waiting, waiting, waiting for mommy


While Mommy Races.....

Finishing my First 70.3

Finishing with My Daughter!

The Best Support Crew!!!

The Best Support Crew!!!

Half Full Tri: Pre-Race

The Minds Behind Rev3 Timing

T1 Here I Come!

Love those hills!

Finishing 70 miles after a knee injury and walking 11 of 13.1 miles