Health Scare, Trust, and Second Opinions

Alan and I spent several days last week looking at death.

That sounds a bit dramatic I know, but it’s true.  At his doctor’s appointment last Thursday Alan was told that he had an aortic aneurysm. And that it could kill him at any moment.

Let’s back up a bit. This is the second time in less that a year that Alan has been given a serious, life-changing diagnosis. Last year he was told by a Pulmonary specialist that he had COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. This for an athlete who never smoked, lives a healthy lifestyle, and aside from asthma, had no previous indication of such disease.  We knew that he was very sick at the time, but when we heard that diagnosis we were in shock. Alan, who had really been too sick to train, felt that any hope of recovery or competing in another Ironman had been ripped away from him.

Health Scares - aneurism

That lasted for about two weeks. He was given a prescription for the appropriate COPD drug, but because he is a stubborn (and brilliant in retrospect) man, he refused to believe, as he put it, that he was now relegated to a life of shuffleboard. He made an appointment with another doctor.

Doctor #2 scoffed, “You don’t have COPD! This is just your asthma!”  Alan was put on a prescription for montelukast (I’ve raved about it here before and have since started taking it for my own exercise induced asthma). At the same time, Dr. #1 got back results on the second culture test that she had ordered. The first one, for which Alan had been told to submit his sample after finishing a course of steroids and antibiotics, had come back negative. It seemed ridiculous to us that they would wait until he was (temporarily) well to take the test, so Alan insisted that they do it again when he was in the midst of illness. Thus he was finally diagnosed with a fungus in his lungs, finally treated correctly, and finally was able to get well. If that story seemed confusing and convoluted to you, imagine how Alan felt..this was his lifestyle that he was fighting for!

One of the tests that Dr. #2 ordered was a CT scan on Alan’s lungs, just to see that everything had cleared up and if there was anything else to worry about.

That brings us pretty close to the present, where because of an insurance change, Alan went to see Doctor #3 last week.  Dr. #3 is a general practitioner, because now we are dealing with an HMO system. This was when Alan received, for all intents and purposes, his death sentence.

He has an aortic aneurysm, said Dr. #3. Alan was pretty much told, that if he continued his active lifestyle of running, swimming, and cycling, that it could burst at any time, and that he would be dead on the spot. At 4.2 centimeters, the aneurism was not considered an immediate threat, though if it grew, open heart surgery would be the recommendation. While his low blood pressure and fitness were in his favor, here was another doctor telling him he might be better off playing shuffleboard.

Health Scares - aneurism

As you can imagine, Alan left the doctor’s office in a state of shock and disbelief. When he told me, I could hardly take it in, it seemed so unbelievable. Alan put on a pretty good front for me, as we talked about lifestyle changes and what we would have to do, but he was deeply upset and disturbed. Pretty soon though, he got to thinking, “I was misdiagnosed before. Could it happen again?”

We are very fortunate to have a friend who is a radiologist. Alan called him the next day, told him what was happening, and he basically dropped everything and told Alan to bring in his records and he would take a look. So, on to Doctor #4.

Health Scares - aneurism

After taking a look at the reports and the actual film (it’s on a disc so I’m not sure if that is the right word), Alan was told by his friend, who is a highly respected and experienced radiologist, “don’t worry.” In fact, he was surprised that it was made out to be so serious. The location of the aneurysm was on the curve of the ascending thoracic aorta, which made it seem slightly bigger than it was. It was also what is called “ectatic,” which means that the artery, though stretched, is unruptured.

Alan is waiting to schedule another CT scan, but in the meantime, we are feeling a lot better. Dr. #4 said he didn’t think that there would be any change in the size of the aneurysm. At this point, it seems unlikely that Alan will have to make a huge lifestyle change (no shuffleboard in his near future!), and we don’t have to worry about surgery or imminent death.

My husband is a lot more private than I am, which is why you never heard the COPD story before, but he agreed to let me write about this. We both want to share because it shows the importance of asking questions and always getting a second opinion! Don’t let any doctor relegate you to the shuffleboard courts without a fight!

The week ended on a much brighter note. On Friday, my daughter-in-law texted me a video of Samuel, which really made my day. They prefer to keep it in the family, so I removed it from my post.

We also had a chance to meet Carrie from Family, Fitness, Food, who was visiting La Quinta with her family. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds, since they were getting in some serious pool time and I had to work all three days that they were here. We managed to finally meet at Starbucks, and now I know that I like Carrie as much as I like her blog! Being good bloggers, we did get a picture, but it turned out pretty bad, plus it includes Carrie’s daughter (who is a beautiful young dancer), so I won’t post it here.

After a tough week, Alan and I are both feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. Alan swam on Friday, went for a run with the cross country team on Saturday, and rode his bike on Sunday, so that part of his life is looking great. We just want you to remember, always get a second opinion.

How was your weekend? Any events, races, or great training you’d like to share?

Vegan Food on the Road, Cross Country, & Costume Party Run Update


I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Team Ignite Athlete, but I thought it was kind of cool how they jazzed up my picture, so I thought I’d share. I’ve been using the InRefresh Electrolytes, and loving it, especially in this humid, hot weather we’ve been suffering through enjoying lately. I didn’t carry my own fluids during the Costume Party Run, but I tried to hydrate as much as possible, both before and after the race, using InRefresh.

Costume Party Run Update

Speaking of the Costume Party Run, I received an email from Ken at Superhero Events. He thanked all the participants, asked for feedback about the race, and promised that it would be even bigger and better next year. The improvements will include providing tech shirts instead of trucker’s hats, and reducing the amount of distance spent running through the parking lot of Qualcomm. Hurray! Those were my only two, admittedly minor, complaints. And they are going to make the finisher’s medal even bigger! Next year, it will be the size of an actual 45 record. Huge! Can’t wait for next year. Hmmm, what should I go as?

Vegan Food

Cross Country

Cross Country practice started on Tuesday! I am always excited to get the season underway, meet the team, start training and planning for the upcoming year. The fact that practice started on the worst day, weather-wise, that we’ve had yet didn’t put a damper on my excitement.

Vegan Food - Costume Party Run

It looks pretty, but it was hot, humid, and even smoky! Though the weather managed to get even worse for my own run the next morning. Just gotta say, 70% humidity is HUGE in the desert! It just doesn’t happen. Until it does.

Vegan Food - Costume Party Run

Vegan Food on the Road

I always get excited when I travel to Encinitas, because I know that I’ll get to eat at my favorite restaurants. After we checked into the hotel on Saturday, Alan and I walked over to the Roxy for lunch. I was in the mood for hummus for some reason, so that’s what I ordered. The Hummus and Pita appetizer, plus a side salad (I didn’t take a picture of it but it was HUGE!).

Vegan Food

I couldn’t even eat the whole thing (the picture is missing a slice of hummus because I couldn’t wait–I reformed it into a 5 pointed star instead of 6). We burned it off by walking to Moonlight Beach to check out the renovations that had been done. They recently built a new dressing room/restroom/concessions complex, made some changes to the landscaping, and enlarged the picnic/playground area. It looked really nice.

Now that Native Foods has opened in Encinitas, there is never any doubt where we’re going to have dinner. I did post a teaser photo on Instagram, though.

Vegan Food

Alan and I both went old school. I had the Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger, he had the Chicken Run Ranch Burger. And we shared an order of Native Fries. And we each had a piece of apple pie. I had to fuel for my race, didn’t I?

Vegan Food

Vegan Food

Vegan Food

Honestly, I think I kind of overdid it at dinner. Fortunately I didn’t have any stomach issues during the race, but my tummy didn’t quite feel normal. Too much delicious food!

After the race (if you missed my recap click here) and a little rest, we headed to the Lotus Cafe for a late breakfast. I was delighted to see that they’d added a full line of breakfast items to their menu, including my favorite, Tofu Scramble. It was really very good. It was served with vegan breakfast sausage (I don’t think I’ve even tried that before!), and potatoes. It did a great job of refilling my tank!

Vegan Food

Even better than the food though, was who we got to eat with.

Vegan Food - family

Vegan Food - family

And especially

Vegan Food - Family

As you can see, Samuel is wearing a specially designed helmet that will correct and round out a flat spot on his head. According to my son, this has become more common since they now tell parents to always put an infant to sleep on their back. If they turn their head more often to one side than the other, it can develop a flat spot. The helmet will correct it, but he has to wear it for four-six months. Since that will encompass football season, my forward looking son and daughter-in-law had the helmet made in blue and are awaiting receipt of various Charger logo stickers to dress up Samuel’s helmet.

Vegan Food - family

I was mostly concerned because, for a baby who always has a smile on his face, Samuel didn’t look very happy. I was afraid the helmet was making him sad. They assured me that he was simply tired, and it was true that after a short nap, the true Samuel-face reappeared.

Vegan Food - family

I drove home feeling completely happy and satisfied on all levels. I successfully completed my half marathon within seconds of my two hour goal (I’m simply not going to sweat that 11 seconds), had great food the whole weekend, and best of all, got to spend time with my family. Life is good.

I’m a little late asking this, but I hope you’ll still tell me..How was your weekend? Did you compete in any events, eat at any great restaurants, spend time with family? It was such a long weekend that you may have had time to do all of the above!

Fun on the 4th of July (and the 3rd!)

We are headed to San Diego this morning, where I will run the Costume Party Race Half Marathon tomorrow.  I think I’m ready. No, I take it back. I am ready. I’ve done my training, I’ve been consistent with all my runs, I’ve even made my costume (except I need a bandana…anyone want to lend me a red paisley bandana for the race?). All that’s left is to actually get it done. Two hours.,.here I come.

In the meantime, a little photo story of our 4th of July celebration. We headed to Huntington Beach on Wednesday. As we were leaving, I saw an Instagram photo posted by Tiffany with the Huntington Beach pier in the background.


As you can see from the conversation, we had good intentions of trying to meet up. I seem to always be missing meeting up with fellow Fitfluential Ambassadors, from Lisa, to Kymberly and Alexandra, to Jody, and even Kelly, CEO of Fitfluential. Circumstances seem to intervene. Sadly, they did again this time, with me at one end of the parade, with family near the start, and Tiffany much closer to the end of the parade. Hopefully we will meet next month at IDEA World Fitness Convention. We are both Inspired Advisors and will be there for the event.

4th of July

All of the above excitement took place on the 3rd of July. My stepson and daughter-in-law had plans for a get together the next day, but a few friends stopped by on Wednesday evening. Then a few more friends. Of course, in this family friendly area, they all brought their kids, so pretty soon, there were fireworks going in the front yard (shhhh, not exactly legal on the 3rd!).

Huntington Beach goes wild for Independence Day. Seriously, I think it is as big as Christmas. Everybody decorates, dresses up, has parties, goes to the parade, the fireworks, and about 5,000 of them went to the Surf City 5k in the morning.

4th of July

Even though we were up late the night before (almost 11…really really late for us!), we were determined to take the boys and run the 5k in the morning. Unfortunately, they were up late too, which meant a late start, which meant we ran in the open race at 8:00 (instead of the residents’ race at 7:00).  I had a dish to prepare for the get-together that was to begin about 9:00 (before the parade), so we finally decided to walk to the race start, run as far as the turn-around (which was about 2 blocks from the house), then run straight home. That meant about a mile and a half run, which really was the perfect distance for our two eight-year-old grandsons.

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

4th of July

They did great! They ran the whole way at a pretty good pace. There were a lot of people, which actually held them up a little. They may have made it the whole 5k, but we still cut off at the halfway point. I had a tofu scramble to make!

Right in front of the house is the staging point for the race. It’s kind of fun to see the horses and their riders up close as they get ready to go.

4th of July

4th of JulyAfter food prep, a little breakfast and a shower, our whole group, including the guests and their kids headed the block or so to the parade. Even though we were right near the beginning, it was about a two hour event. In additions to a few videos on Instagram, I mostly took pictures of the horses.

4th of July

4th of July

After I’d had enough, I walked back to the house. It looked like a parking lot in front. For bicycles.

4th of July

Truly the only way to get around on a busy day at the beach, especially with road closures (we had to park several blocks away because the street was used for pre-parade preparation), horrid traffic, and no parking to be found anywhere.

Alan and I headed home a few hours later, back to the heat of the desert (and our dogs, of course). It was great to get out of the heat, run with our grandsons, and to see our family and meet their friends. At home I made veggie burgers and corn, though it was too hot to cook outdoors. All in all, a good holiday.

Oh, and the fireworks? With the exception of our grandsons’ 3rd of July fun, we didn’t see any fireworks. We stay indoors with our dogs. One in particular tends to freak out from the booming, so we stay inside and try to reassure them.

How was your holiday? Any races or parades? Did you get to see the fireworks?

Family Time

Just a quick post.

Busy weekend. I did NOT do my long run this weekend (the last before the Costume Party Run). I will do it tomorrow because I have an extra day off this weekend.

I did run though, five miles on Saturday, six-plus on Sunday. We also dealt with an electrical issue. Friday morning, I turned on the bathroom lights and…POP…they went off. All the normal remedies did not work. The lights and outlets in both my bathrooms are not working. Alan and I tried replacing the GFI which did not help (and we had such high hopes, too!). Next step, call an electrician, a prospect which sounds complicated and expensive.

The main thing I want to write about, and the reason I didn’t get my long run done on Sunday is…

Family Time

Yes, we went to San Diego on Sunday to visit my son Nathan, daughter-in-law Sarah, and of course, my grandson Samuel. Believe it or not, he’s going to be seven months in a few days! Yes, time flies. So, our Sunday, mostly in pictures (and a couple videos).

If you love to hear a baby laugh, you need to watch the video above. Samuel and his daddy. It’s pretty short, formatted a little funny because these were videos posted to Instagram (or supposed to be, the first one, the best one, didn’t upload properly).

Family Time

They told me that Samuel would just pull off his sunglasses. Ha! Grandma got him to keep them on. The secret:

Family Time

Catch them while they’re sleeping.

Family Time

Feeding Samuel his, um, orange vegetable (can’t remember, but he seemed to love them).

Family Time

We had lunch at Chipotle. This time Alan and I had the Sofritas Bowl (see my review here). Oddly, Chipotle is one of the few restaurants of any sort that can accommodate Alan’s and my vegan lifestyle and Sarah and Nathan’s Paleo diet, even now when they are in the middle of a Whole 30.

Samuel 7

Nothing like selfies with your grandson.

The video is a collection of several vids that we took, mostly Samuel laughing, smiling, wiggling, cooing, etc. Standard grandparent stuff. Cutest baby ever (and no, we’re not biased).

Family Time

I obviously was having a wonderful time. And I was just as obviously in a hurry to edit these photos or I would have cut my son’s feet out of this shot.

Samuel Collage 2

Family Time

I spent most of my day on the floor. In this case, floor = heaven.

Samuel Collage

That was my weekend. How was yours?

I am Grateful

I know the title sounds like a dish at Cafe Gratitude, but it is exactly how I am feeling right now. I am grateful.

The husband of one of my co-workers died unexpectedly last week. I had never met him, but she is about my age, active, smart, a busy woman who takes care of her grandchildren in addition to her full time job.

My friends, Amy and Jeff, are still dealing with Jeff’s brain cancer, the effects of chemo, keeping things as “normal” as possible for the children, and all the other challenges that are now a part of their lives. And yet they are two of the most positive people that I know. If you want a taste of their joy in life, check out their facebook page.

I sometimes get caught up in the small annoyances, inconveniences, and discomforts in my world, and forget how lucky that I am. So, to give myself a smack on the head a la Gibbs, I need to take a moment to reflect about everything that is good in my life.

I go to bed every night with a full stomach, in my comfy bed, in the home that I own.

I’ve been married to my best friend for 13 years. Actually today, as I write this, is the 17th anniversary of our first date. Yes, we both remember that.


I have the job of my dreams. I help people get and stay healthy, prolong their lives, feel better. What could be better?

My body is strong and healthy. I am able to run, ride, lift weights, then get up and do it again the next day.


I have two wonderful sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and of course, my grandson Samuel.


I also have a great step-son, his gorgeous wife, and darling twin grandsons, Cash and Dane.

My small (but growing) family includes my lovely niece, my amazing sister and her husband, and many cousins (including Marcia and Michelle who read my blog).

I have my dogs. Penny, who is my running partner; Sydney, my 12 year old blind cattledog; Goldie, also handicapped, with a compressed disk; Lily and Olivia, who we rescued off the streets several years ago, and Buddy, Alan’s running partner, who wandered to our house and never left.

Live from La Quinta - Things that make me happy - dogs

I am grateful for this blog. It gives me an outlet for my thoughts, rewarding opportunities, and what I think of as a record of my memories. Without the blog, I wouldn’t have you, the people who read, comment, and share the words I write. I think of you as friends and you have made my world brighter.

What are grateful for?

The Weekend: Running, Eating (#Vegan), Family and Easter. In San Diego.


My weekly training recap post will be up tomorrow. Week 10! I had way too much going on this weekend to write. I did have a great long run, which I’ll tell you all about tomorrow. In the meantime, here is what kept me from writing, in (mostly) pictures.

IMG_4834It was a beautiful (but a little chilly) day in Encinitas when we arrived around noon. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we headed to Moonlight Beach. We sat, looked at the ocean, admired the new construction (they’re building a new snack bar/restroom complex), then we headed to lunch at the Roxy. I had a great falafel pita, and while we were there realized that it was almost a year to the day that my son, Nathan, and daughter-in-law, Sarah, made their big announcement while we had dinner at the Roxy. After lunch we did a little shopping (any one else think about MizFit when looking at those dolls?), then checked in. We made it back to the beach for a lovely sunset.


For dinner, we headed to Native Foods. As you know, it’s my favorite restaurant and I’m so happy that the Encinitas location opened a few months ago. It was a beautiful evening, so Alan and I sat on the patio (next to a was a little chilly), and enjoyed our food. Bistro Steak Sandwich for me, Oklahoma Bacon Cheeseburger for Alan. We both had apple pie for dessert. Remember, in spite of the names, everything is free of animal products at Native Foods.


On Sunday morning, I had a 12 miler on the schedule. I decided to cut it back to 10 miles, because of our Easter plans, but I felt so good I ended up running 11 miles. Another beautiful day. I felt so great on the run that I wished that it was race day! I was really pleased that I ran mile 10, which is a pretty good uphill stretch from Cardiff to Encinitas, at race pace. Hurray for me!


After the run, we got a little dressed up and headed south to San Diego. We had big plans, but we stopped beforehand for a few photos. We were on Shelter Island, which is just across the harbor from downtown. Oh, the top photo is actually a statue of a surfer that is in Cardiff. It gets a lot of kidding for the pose and people tend to dress it up for the holidays.


Here’s the main reason we were in San Diego! To see my grandson, Samuel.

IMG_4837And his parents of course. And Sarah’s family. We were invited to Easter Brunch at the Bali Hai on Shelter Island. That is Samuel’s other grandma in the photo above. And Alan finally had a chance to feed Samuel. He’s four months old now, very happy, active, and has been sleeping through the night for about two months! He was a little off his schedule today, but, as you can see, he finally crashed out in his daddy’s arms.

IMG_4839More family shots from brunch today. Check out the view from our table at the Bali Hai. Beautiful, isn’t it?

How was your holiday weekend? Did you get to spend some time with family and friends?