504. How to Create and Use a Medical Resume


I just got a text from my dear childhood friend and college roomate, S, whose baby sister had brain surgery for a tumor several years ago and who is being advised by her medical team to get another surgery done by EOY.  She has an active tumor and symptoms (particularly eyesight) have been aggravated lately.

She was looking for someone to ask a second opinion so of course I was like, I LOVE my neuro.  Go see her.  And then I cried my eyes out.  I still am.  But then I figured I’d publish this post bc this method has been very helpful to me especially as I’ve met new docs and sought their advice concerning specific issues or procedures.

Update:  No labral tear hip surgery for me, at least right now.  Coach R’s “Physical Therapy” is working.  He’s an Athletic Trainer/medical professional and all and knows what he’s doing (it helps that he’s got almost 3 years of data on my gait and is also a Strength Coach) but I maintain that he’s totally just making this up in his head.  Which is okay (I just like to say sassy things) since it’s totally working.  Sometimes I’m like, Owww!  and he just looks at me with the slit eyes like, We should do this anyway.  And one day my right leg FREAKED OUT so he just held the patella in place or something and made me finish the set.

If you’re wondering how Trainer D and Smurfette are doing, they are fine and dandy.  Except Animal Muppet yelled at me for a WHOLE HOUR a couple weeks ago bc he found out I had stopped eating food again.  :/  Quote from yesterday:  How are your neurotransmitters?   Seriously, D – I am so embarrassed for you right now.  Who asks that sort of thing?  I don’t even know what that means.

Meanwhile, I’m much more interested in the fact that Smurfette is rocking a new long bob after donating her curls to Locks of Love.  High 5,  Smurfette!!

I’m also starting a podcast.  I will launch formally when I send my next email update.  But check it out on iTunes.


Back to the Medical Resume thing:  Mine has become much shorter  over the years.  Assume the doc will only glance at it briefly.  What do you want them to know, and what do YOU want to know?  Go in there with a goal (e.g. Information on Pros and Cons of X, Images and Tests, advice on how to approach a problem) and signal intent to pursue this seriously by managing your own time and the doctor’s schedule by accomplishing your agenda and getting what you need with a minimum of fuss.  If you lay it out on paper they know you mean business and can serve you better and faster.  Also, bring a friend or family member so you can compare notes later.

This image is an example – it’s what I used for my Ortho Surgeon.

I know, I know – the majority of the population will not need a Medical Resume.  But there are some of us who are so EXCRUCIATINGLY COOL that we will have a template we customize for each new doctor.  This is a tool you can use to help yourself get the level of care you want.  It’s also a great idea for a family member of friend to do for a loved one who is not able to create one for him/herself, and also for people facing a new diagnosis.  It keeps everyone on track at the appointment, especially if you’re new at this and nervous, or an old hand…frankly, I’m ALWAYS nervous.

Note to D:  This is YOUR body and your decision.  The best thing you can do is get insight from professionals.  It’s scary and it stinks, but be guided by their expertise even if it’s not what you want to hear.  You want the best outcome for the long term.  I’m sorry.  SNIFF.  Big Hugs and lots of prayers for you and your whole family, xoxo ning.

501. Jan 2016: Recalibration Phase II


Hi, everyone! My plan is progressing nicely. I have not blogged in such a long time I miss it terribly. That’s right – I’ve written 2.5 books in the meantime, but I STILL have more to say. And I’ve been informed that even though I write and talk a ton I’m not saying everything still. That’s why I’m in Therapy :/ (not the Rehabilitation kind, the Mental Health kind). So I’m experimenting with occasional blog updates.

I’ve been very under the weather and it’s been super boring. I cancelled all of my appointments last week. Thank the Lord I was okay enough Saturday morning to go to Mrs. Ridgely’s memorial service. It went really well and was completely packed. Sniff.

The only other thing I did was early in the week when I still felt okay – bloodwork and a brief consultation with Smurfette. A fantastic friend at Boo Boo’s made me this super cool Florida State Seminoles Tiara for Smurfette. You heard me – a TIARA. I noticed while I was speaking at Tea that a lady in the audience had something sparkly in her hair. It turns out she runs a collegiate ribbon business and has recently been offering hair accessories. I told her I needed an FSU Noles item for my Dietician. She made this Tiara and a gorgeous burgundy grosgrain headband for J. Smurfette. Thank you so much – she LOVED it!! Look at her face. Isn’t Smurfette adorable?


Don’t let that sweet little face fool you, though. The girl is a teeny tiny tornado. And 5 minutes after I took this picture, Smurfette done threw the gauntlet DOWN. I started verbally prepping Trainer D a week ago because my physical is coming up and my new numbers will be published and I always tell him everything so I bought a fancy scale with hand and foot sensors so I wouldn’t be freaked out when the time came for me to be officially measured at my PCP’s office. When I told him about it Trainer D’s explanation was simple – You’re in storage mode again.

Me: You mean like that Evil Catatonic State you told me about last time? I queried.

D: LOL. It’s “catabolic.”

Me: You say po-tae-to I say po-tah-to.

I admit it. I’ve had trouble with the eating again. Hence the conversation with Timmy above. He refused, FYI. I can’t think why. It was egg whites, chicken and broccoli. This is one of my tricks: you throw anything in a Magic Bullet, add liquid egg whites and microwave it. It’s packed with protein and is easier to eat.

Anyway, so I spoke with Smurfette:

S: Tell you what – you keep your calories up at X for Z weeks and then we’ll talk about bringing you down to X-Y…

Me: Can we skip straight to the X-Y part?

S: No. You have to PROVE to me that you can eat X so we can repair your metabolism.

…[later, while she’s writing down the MyFitnessPal information so she can monitor me…]

S: Tell Trainer D that he can inquire about your nutrition, but I’m calling the shots.

LOL. They totally crack me up as a couple. So, yeah, Smurfette threw the gauntlet down and her husband, Animal Muppet, informed me of the plans he has for this next round of training. I think he said something about using machines (he hates machines but uses carefully selected ones for me bc of my motor deficits), building more muscle, and the absolute necessity of carefully timed liquid protein consumption.

In December Trainer D taught me how to squat in the squat rack like the Big Kids do and he was so excited he yelled at me the WHOLE TIME. FYI he has increased my weight gradually with goblet squats or with a kettle bell and has seen my balance and awareness improve as I’ve trained with him and Coach R, so D knew I was ready for this. He’s making me learn the movement with just the bar, or with 5 lbs loaded only on one side to work on my symmetry.


The first time I did it I got myself under the bar and lifted on my shoulders but just stood there thinking hard.

Trainer D: Why aren’t you moving? I specifically remember telling you to move.

Me: I’m trying to figure out which one is my dominant foot!!

[Tell me THAT, Smartypants.]

You’re supposed to take 3 steps back starting with your dominant foot. I have always been left-footed (e.g. I cartwheel with my left), but then after the stroke my left side got all messed up.

We had some more words and then I decided to just go for the left foot on the assumption that he’d catch me if anything happened.

And WHERE you ask, is Coach R?


Coach R is well. This is Ed Blueberry proofreading Coach R’s book. Since I’ve been sick I didn’t see Coach R at all last week. I turn around for ONE SECOND and people start asking him to go to other countries and stuff. Seriously. Last time I was like, who’s the person asking you to go? Answer: “This guy I know from the Olympics.”

Blinks. Oh. Okay.

Yeah, so Coach R has some travel coming up, which theoretically I am very glad of, but for real – I need him to stop gadding about creation and FOCUS because I have a new project.


To: Coach R

From: Me

Re: NEW Plan. Chop Chop.


I am still ill and am thus lying in bed planning bc this is getting super boring.  Please survive this weekend bc I need you to put your thinking cap on and get on this chop chop:

  1. You invent something cool
  1. We go on Shark Tank

This needn’t interfere with our Amazing Race audition – the two schemes could happen concurrently.

So that’s what’s going on in my world, folks.

UPDATE: I’m not seeing the guys this week anyway. I’ve still been ill and I had 3 different doc appointments (pre-planned check ups) and my PCP heard something weird in my left lung, but the x-ray was all clear! I ran into Animal Muppet on Tuesday (bc Smurfette works in the same building) and after we cracked ourselves up for a while I remembered I was supposed to go see my psych so D made himself useful by reading the directory so bc I couldn’t remember what floor my doc was on. I got a good report from N1, my fabulous Neurologist today, and now I get to concentrate on planning Ed Blueberry’s 85th Birthday (the 5th anniversary of my injury).  Please pray for wisdom in this matter – I want it to either be really quiet or really special.  Thanks 🙂


Prayer Requests:

  • ASK: that I will get over this cold completely ASAP
  • ASK: That I will achieve a higher level of health in Recalibration Phase II: that I will eat, rest, and move better.
  • THANK: that Mrs. Ridgely is home and happy, and that her Memorial went well.
  • THANK: for a lovely Christmas and New Year with my family, that I am SO much more comfortable than last year, that the bad dreams are better, I have such a great Team of professionals to care for me, and I did quite well at my medical appointments this week.\
Learning How on Amazon - it's all NONPROFIT!

Learning How on Amazon – it’s all NONPROFIT!


498. On Sale Today! A New Song – LH Vol 4

It's NonProfit!! go to Amazon

It’s NonProfit!! go to Amazon

It’s time to get your fingers ready to click on the picture above and go to Amazon.com and order Learning How to Sing a New Song – Learning How Volume 4. While you’re at it, go ahead and order my other titles, and once you read remember to leave a review! Descriptions are here, or you can just browse Amazon. As always, it’s all nonprofit, and your order qualifies for Prime and Super Saver shipping. And since it’s so early, you’ll get your books in time for gift-giving purposes!  [3 hours later] I just uploaded Kindle versions of Learning How to Sing and my Memoirs!  They both have an active Table of Contents and are priced at $8 if you like instant gratification.  The print copy is $10.  Although at least Vol 4. Song is in the match book program so if you buy the print copy you get a $2.99 deal on the Kindle version.  And my friends, you do NOT need to own a Kindle to enjoy these digital versions.  Just download the app!!  I love it.  It totally helps my eyes, which are about to fall out right now.  But I was getting impatient with all the Kindle conversion stuff so I just started pressing buttons after dispensing with the pictures for the most part.  The important part is that the books are on Kindle.  I’m only 2 years behind schedule with my Memoirs.  :).   I’d link to the Kindle versions but there’s a 12 hour conversion time before it’s “live” on Amazon so I’m just going to have to trust that it will happen because I need to go to bed STAT. Hey, I’m doing what I can over here.

I was just talking to Mommy a couple days ago about writing, and I said, If I hadn’t gotten sick, I would have never known that I could write. Well, I guess I’ve always been able to write papers in school etc. but didn’t really have anything worth writing about that people other than an English professor might want to read. But one of the funny things about this is that my grammar declined and colloquialism ramped up dramatically once I got sick. And I write like I speak, so there’s a whole lot of “voice” happening.

A week or so after she came home from the hospital, Mommy and I went to go see Mrs. Ridgely. I put a print-out of our book on the table in front of her. You DIDN’T, she gasped. Oh….but I DID, I shot back.

This is one of those times that writing was the only thing that would make me feel better. So I was up early, clutching my travel cup of coffee (a sealed mug is the only way I can carry stuff upstairs), and I went to my people to fix my arm enough so I could keep on typing. (Me to Trainer D: I said RUB it, NOT BREAK IT!!) That Monday during Stretchy Time Coach R asked me about my weekend. I thought for a moment, trying to remember what happened.

Me: I wrote a book!

Coach R: (long pause) …Okay, so first of all…who responds to “how was your weekend” with an answer like that?….

I don’t know why he’s so surprised. I totally did this to him a couple months ago, except you won’t see his book until 2016 since I’m busy celebrating Mrs. Ridgely right now. Sometime in August during Ladder Time I casually mentioned, Oh, yeah – we’re writing a book.

Coach R immediately bought in. That’s why we get along so swimmingly – he lets me have my own way most of the time, except when I might hurt myself, e.g. when he caught me “running” at the maximum incline. When I emailed Trainer D saying we were writing a book however, he immediately messaged me saying, Are you serious?

YES, of COURSE I’m serious, D!!!

Honestly. That’s how I roll. You should know that by now.

Trainer D and I get along swimmingly, too, but the tenor of our interaction is *cough* different *cough*.

I finished Coach R’s book and happily placed a copy in his hands. It doesn’t sink in until you hold it in your hands, I think. It’s a vague idea until you can see it and read it yourself and can tell that it’s a marketable text. I also gave Mrs. Ridgely a pre-publication copy of Coach R’s book because it’s a great example of the co-author process. I wanted her to know I would write the book and she would have as much room to take it in any direction she wanted, but if she didn’t have a lot of energy to spare and liked it as-is, it could be released as a finished work.

Hilariously, Mrs. Ridgely loves Coach R’s book. I am so grateful – apparently it really ministered to her and she learned a lot more about my day to day experience as a result. I emailed Coach R triumphantly to inform him that the CRFC (Coach R Fan Club) just got bigger.

Happily, Mrs. Ridgely loves our book, too. It happened so fast I didn’t realize it, but it’s what I would have said to her if stamina weren’t an issue and we could just sit around for hours and talk. It’s about what happened to her, what happened to me, how it’s been an arduous road, but it makes so much sense and how the path has been strewn with marks of indelible grace. And it’s about how we prepare for life, and prepare for death.

This is the first chapter. Soli Deo gloria.


Chapter 1: She Was Right: A New Song


“I was a drug addict, an alcoholic, and I was very well known on 14th Street…”


Mrs. Ridgely and I had been invited to speak at the IFI Women’s Conference in April 2015. Mrs. D made it easy on us by making it a question and answer format. I was thrilled to be asked and emailed Mrs. Ridgely a few months before when Mrs. D told me she was going to be my partner.


Oh, Ning, you’ve done this before, but I haven’t! Mrs. Ridgely told me she was nervous.


I laughed inwardly but tried to reassure her as I emailed her back. Seriously, Mrs. Ridgely, I learned that this kind of life was possible because of YOU.


Mrs. D didn’t know this when she asked us both to participate at the conference, but Mrs. Ridgely and I go way back. She got a liver transplant when I was a freshman at Georgetown University in 1998. Her hospital room was just a short walk up the hill from my dorm so we started spending a lot of time together. She prayed me through my undergraduate course (COL ‘02), my early working life, and getting an MBA (MSB ‘09).


But while I was busy getting my degrees and cutting my teeth in the working world what I was really learning was what it looked like to live victoriously even if you’re sick. I didn’t learn this because Mrs. Ridgely sat me down one day and told me about her experience. It’s because I sat by her bedside as she was in and out of the hospital and watched.


Many of my friends who are slightly younger than me were too young to be told about the kind of life Mrs. Ridgely lived on the street before she became a Christian. So when she made her opening statement, especially the part about, …I was very well known on 14th street… I kind of just stared at her and knew that she had just managed to get the full attention of everyone in the room. I was deeply impressed that she had found a way to be frank and keep it real so graciously.


After her introductory remarks the rest of the conversation (about being sick and the impact of cataclysmic illness on your beliefs about God) flowed freely. I wanted to just sit back and listen to her, it was so interesting, but I had a mic, too, so I did my share of talking. But I seem to remember saying a lot of, Hey, Mrs. R – Do you remember the time…..


And then we’d laugh.


And then we’d remember there were a lot of other people there. And that we were supposed to be saying things for their benefit, not just chatting like the old friends we are.


We were both so glad to have the opportunity to talk about this in public. Thank you, Mrs. D!!

That was in April. I’m writing this in October. Two weeks ago we got word that Mrs. Ridgely has cancer. It’s bad. She has so much going on, and so many organs are compromised at this point, that the doctors are focusing on making her comfortable.


I talked to Mr. Ridgely, aka Charlie, when they first got the “unofficial” news – he told me on the phone and I was just like, So…I’m gonna pretend like I didn’t hear that because I find all of this deeply upsetting so I’m going to be in denial for a while. I’m going to hang up the phone now – call Daddy later, okay? Thanks – bye!


Mr. Ridgely played along because he’s nice like that. But we both knew that my denial strategy could not last.


It lasted 2 days. Then they got the official biopsy results and then Mommy, Daddy and I trekked our way over to the hospital to see them both.


I consoled myself while I was still in denial by deciding to write this book. I told Mrs. Ridgely via a garbled voicemail that we were writing a book, and when we arrived at the hospital she handed me a piece of paper with some thoughts written on it.


I had said nothing more than, We’re writing a book. It’s going to be called Learning How to Sing a New Song. All she heard was the word, “song,” and she was off and running. It took me a while to work up the courage to actually read what she wrote but when I did I decided that we should change the title to Throwdown: Carol Ridgely.


Man alive. This cancer has given her a fresh dose of life perspective and apparently she’s ready to throw it down. I’m going to follow suit.


Sheesh. What have I gotten myself into? I don’t know that I’m ready for this.


But I’m doing it anyway.


It is impossible to ignore the leading of the Lord in our lives – how our paths intersected when I was young, how an unlikely friendship influenced how I view illness and God, how I got sick myself and learned that this path is not for the fainthearted, and how God’s grace is truly astounding in the midst of suffering.


Back in 2003 my Daddy had cancer. It broke my heart. And one day I was crying my eyes out in the Ladies’ Room at Church. I’m talking ugly cry. It was bad. Mrs. Ridgely found me and was extremely distressed to see me so grieved.


That week a card arrived in our mailbox. She wrote,


If our lives were always sunny we’d never know that He can deliver you, or give you love, peace, and joy in the midst of pure pain.


Mrs. Ridgely told me that over 12 years ago. A lot has happened since then.

I got sick.


And I learned first-hand that she was right.


That card meant so much to me that I kept it all these years. When I moved to Oregon I cleaned my room and threw out a lot of things. But after I got sick and moved back home to Maryland I found this card – it was too special for me to part with. But as we anticipated speaking together in April I knew Mrs. Ridgely had been having a rough time of it physically and had been in and out of the hospital. So I wanted to encourage her and found this card and mailed it to her. She had no idea I had treasured it for so long. And when she received it she told me she just cried and cried.


She also cried the first time she saw me after I got sick. I’ll tell you more about it in Chapter 3 but for now I’ll just say I had an AVM Rupture and massive stroke when I was 30 and after about 3 months of inpatient hospital life in Oregon I flew home to Maryland. I was at church one day, secluded in a classroom since I absolutely could not handle crowds at that point, and Mrs. Ridgely came to sit next to me.


The tears rolled down her cheeks as she told me she was so sorry she hadn’t been able to fly out to Oregon to be with me when I was living in the hospital. I thought that was so sweet! Even though I was still very loopy at that point (it took a long while for things to settle down mentally) I knew that Mrs. Ridgely had some pressing matters of her own to attend to, and thought it was ridiculous that she should think of flying across the country, but also deeply touching that she had wanted to do so.


When I first got the diagnosis of her cancer I mulled over the title of our book. Was Learning How to Sing a New Song the right thing? All of my books in this series start with Learning How…. but we could take it in any number of directions.


One afternoon I rooted through a box of old cards I had received while in the hospital but that had been largely untouched.   I knew there were cards from Mrs. Ridgely in there and went searching for some source material.


I was not disappointed. There was a whole series of cards from her. Since I cannot read normally now I had never read them. But this time I got my reading glasses and pored over the cards hungrily.


When I reached card number three I stopped in my tracks. Here was confirmation. …How to Sing a New Song was the right title. The card was dated July 13, 2011 – a couple of weeks after I was discharged from my last hospital and came home. Essentially, this is where the real work of Recovery began.


Mrs. Ridgely is an authority on long-term illness. You will likely receive lots of support from friends and loved ones when you’re in the acute onset stage of illness because everyone is panicking over the urgency of the situation. Once you make it to the Recovery stage you and your family start transitioning out of survival mode, though, you look around and wonder how the world could possibly keep on turning when yours stopped.


That’s just how it is. People necessarily need to attend to the pressing matters of life as you come to grips with your new circumstances and realize that since you’re still alive you need to gather the shattered pieces of your existence and see what this could possibly look like going forward.


It’s been a humbling and daunting process for me. It was horrifying to realize that I was the only one who would ever know about and remember certain things that happened while I was still drifting in and out of consciousness. The alone-ness was terrifying.


But in the midst of that terrible isolation came the peace and love of God – like a gentle dove that hovered nearby until I felt confident enough in what I knew about God and what I knew about myself to put out my hand and let it rest on my finger.


The timing, circumstances, and severity of my injury were bad. That’s an understatement.   The word on the street is that a lot of people were angry about it. But God saved me from a lifetime of anger and bitterness not because He wrote a special message to me in the clouds one day, or fashioned a rainbow into words for my benefit, but because I remembered that Jesus Christ came to heal the broken-hearted, and I fit the bill.


Even though something really bad happened to me, God was trying to tell me through a myriad of circumstances that He loved me, He knew exactly what was happening, and that I could trust Him.


I have trouble talking about many of these circumstances publicly. They are often still too precious for me to canvass. But let me just say that these things – e.g. planting certain people in a time and place so our paths intersect – has happened with truly frightening regularity and specificity that simply cannot be interpreted as coincidence.


One of the circumstances I am ready to talk about is the fact that Mrs. Ridgely and I are friends. She knows how hard it is to be sick for a long time. In that card she sent me after I first got home she wrote,


In case you hit a road that’s not so joyful and kinda gets you down I pray these verses for you:


Psalm 40.1-3

{To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.}

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.


495. Bumpy

Coach R trains US Soccer's Ali Krieger - 7 exercises to prevent ACL injuries

Coach R trains US Soccer’s Ali Krieger – YouTube:  7 exercises to prevent ACL injuries

Right before I started talking at the Christmas Tea I turned to Smurfette and was like, Hey, J – you ever done this sort of thing before? Cuz things are about to get a little craaazy…..

Ann Ning Learning How | Dec 14 - AVM and Stroke Recovery Yr 3 | Yeah, I totally just went there

She told me it was cool – she knew the drill – so my no-holds-barred approach that day didn’t unnerve her. I spoke at a Brunch a couple Saturdays ago, where we welcomed some new friends into our family.  I gave a brief update on my physical condition bc when I did the Christmas Tea, Trainer D had called me out the day before. Things have gotten so much better since then, and I have definitely reached another level physically.

I was gritting my teeth the whole time at Tea. I really wanted to set the record straight so I didn’t tell Mommy how poorly I was feeling bc I knew she’d make me lie down or something.  I had to expend an inordinate amount of effort then.  But this time at Brunch it was much smoother sailing. I am SO much healthier, thank the Lord.

After I consulted Smurfette initially, I counted calories for a couple of months, saw that I had been under-eating for a long time, and learned how to game the system within a couple of weeks so I wouldn’t get the Nastygram from My Fitness Pal. I also started drinking Ensure and felt so much better (Trainer D: DUH. [rolls eyes]). And then Trainer D proposed that I adopt Macro goals (%Protein, Carbs, and Fat). And so I did this “If it fits your macros” style of eating in addition to ramping my calorie goals up by 300-400 over another few months, during which I rediscovered the joys of the sandwich.


16.  Now is *not* the time for fasting...but maybe it is.

16. Now is *not* the time for fasting…but maybe it is.

The results were good. I became more mindful of what my body was telling me – e.g. on days that I “run” and train I have to eat a Giant Breakfast. I know now that once I “feel” the deficit I’m in the danger zone. I used to fast weekly in my Old Life. When I started this practice (I researched it and talked to the Health Nurse at work, FYI) I hid my scale so it wouldn’t be about that. It was fabulous – it’s how I learned to use the body to engage other parts of you. But now I can’t muscle through – I feel my body shutting down if I am failing to fuel appropriately, and I feel an intense obligation to MommyDaddy et. al to not allow this to happen. So last week at the Running Gym I instated a mandatory snack time for myself at 10.30am (this left an appropriate block of time prior to the start of any activity) since I had not been able to eat enough that morning. Coach R played along while I chewed my Quest bar dutifully, but Trainer M declined to participate.   I was going for the: If I have to suffer, we ALL have to suffer effect. Oh, well. You win some you lose some.

When I started eating more appropriately I was also able to “run” and train harder.   This is where the rubber really hits the road. My core strength, balance, spatial awareness etc. are improving, slowly but surely. I can do more things and know the tricks to make my eyeballs last longer and to prioritize so I can exercise the mental acuity I need for certain activities. And as time passes, I am getting better at managing my deficits and surround myself with people and safeguards to help me recognize when I need to scale back my activities.

When Uncle Bus passed away I was extremely sad. I’m still sad. And I recognized that I have a LOT of older friends and this situation was just going to escalate. I informed my people that I would be a MESS when this happened.

Well, it happened. Aunty Haigouhy went home to be with the Lord last week. She was Uncle Joe’s wife. They were special to me.

50.  A Cup of Water

50. A Cup of Water


Last Sunday we went to the hospital to see her one last time.   I tried to press myself into the wall outside her door and just disappear.  She was “asleep” but became agitated when she heard our voices. I hadn’t seen her in a long time because she had been moved into a home a while ago. Sigh. It’s been kinda rough.

I put myself on an eating vacation. I postponed an appointment with Smurfette, which confirmed Trainer D’s suspicion that my regimen had been derailed. I informed Coach R (technically, I email bombed him as is our custom), and then I tried to do “mindless eating” by watching a video of him training Ali Krieger (US Soccer) while I ate half of my barbacoa salad from lunch.

It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. At one point he’s explaining how to move one’s arms – you know, athletically. I started giggling and haven’t stopped for four days. Poor Coach R. I know he’s very good at what he does and all, but seriously? How am I NOT supposed to laugh at this stuff? Truly, though – you should watch this video, esp if ACL injuries are a concern of yours.

But you know what? Even though things have gotten kind of craaazy bumpy I’m doing well right now.  I was in excruciating pain when Dan Uncle passed away at the end of 2014.  Over the last couple of months I’ve had similar stress, compounded by a medication-induced cough, and a harrowing trip to the ENT, but have not been in that kind of pain.  Thank the Lord the cough cleared after 3 weeks and Coach R no longer has to carry my cough drops in his pocket.  I’m still nauseous.  Last week in the middle of a set with Trainer D I paused with my kettle bell mid-air and shifted my eyes from left to right and said simply, Trash can.  (i.e. in case I throw up, where do I go?)

did have some weirder head pain that made me nervous enough to get a full work up even though I’ve been assured nothing’s growing in there.  The last time I got an MRI was in 2012.  So I got a new one a few weeks ago and it came back clean (Yay!)  so the pain was just stress-related. Surprise, surprise.  It’s gotten better with time.

Stretching my hips at a fancy restaurant with Boo Boo's family.  April 2015

Stretching my hips at a fancy restaurant with Boo Boo’s family. April 2015

Notably ,my right side hurts as often as my left side now, or more.  I guess it’s the cumulative effect of 4 years of guarding my left side’s weakness.  But I know how to roll stuff out, and I’ve scaled back on my cane usage and typing/piano to save my arms (which is a new wrinkle, but we’re rolling with it).  I routinely get out of my chair and squat to stretch my hips – it doesn’t matter if we’re at a fancy restaurant, or in some other context that’s weird – the point is that I know what I need to do.  This is still a work in progress, but I don’t feel helpless anymore – like I just have to wait for things to happen.

The end result:  My wellness level has shifted upwards.

Feel free to cheer rowdily at this point.

This is another indicator that all my Training + Treatment is working. Thank you, Team Tanimal!!

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491. BMTCR Day


The week after we progressed to the no-holding hands during step-ups incident this happened:

To:      Coach R
From: Me

Re:      I decided 2 things.

I decided 2 things this morning

  1. I’m going to bump my caloric goals up by 100
  1. Today is BMTCRD – Be Mean to Coach R Day
    1. this is in response to how you wouldn’t hold my hand last week (?!?!?!)
    2. don’t worry – recent attempts have shown that when I’m trying to be scathingly mean people think it’s utterly hilarious
    3. you should be grateful – EVERY day is Be Mean to Trainer D Day.


See you soon!


477.  Hey, Mommy - Look what I did! | Seriously, I just reread this post to make sure it was the one I was looking for and it's a riot.  The best part is that it's all true!!

477. Hey, Mommy – Look what I did! | Seriously, I just reread this post to make sure it was the one I was looking for and it’s a riot. The best part is that it’s all true!!

This brilliant idea struck me while I was ignoring my multiplying oatmeal and doing my hair.   I do some of my best thinking while wielding my hair implements. But I put the iron down long enough to shoot this email off chop chop.

Later that morning during Stretchy Time:

Me: Are you ready for BMTCR Day? I’m punishing you for not holding my hand last week.

Coach R: But you were successful.

Me: Irrelevant. It’s the principle of the thing, R.

Soon after this exchange I had occasion to punish Trainer D, too. I pulled out all the stops. I emailed Smurfette, I hid in the elevator even though D hates it when I don’t take the stairs (I recruited a staffer to be my lookout – his job was to create a diversion in case D approached), and I purchased a special “treat” for him at the grocery store (the broccoli apple puree in the picture at the top.)

I forwarded the email string between me and Smurfette to Coach R as a cautionary tale. “Do not let this happen to you,” I said solemnly.

I saw Trainer D again at the end of the week. I left the banana that was actually rotten at home bc I was feeling magnanimous that day.  I thought the one I included with the Broccoli was sufficiently brown.  It turns out that man actually LIKES brown bananas.  Grrr….  Plus his caloric needs are so great that he delights in whatever I bring him.

I have to ask him how the broccoli tasted. A couple days later, after I had been meaner than usual for a week and made a semi-public example of him, we reached an understanding and called it pax. Or to be more accurate, I decided to stop antagonizing him. We’ll see what the new week brings.

Update:  I’m scheduling this on Monday.  So far so good.  But I can’t make any promises for the rest of the week.

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487. Leave Nothing Left in the Tank


I started taking selfies to send to J to make her laugh. Check! Goal met. I took this one after a “run” + Train double-header. Coach R was in fine form.

Me (looking at some guy doing some lateral stepping on his hands over a riser while in a plank position): Hey, R – we’re never doing that, k?

Coach R: I designed that exercise.

Me: Why am I not surprised? Still, I’m just telling you out front that we’re never doing that.

Both Trainers have gotten increasingly exacting lately. I think Coach R has had his thinking cap on bc he’s been observing my “running” form and sees more material to work with, whereas Trainer D has been highly motivated to write and execute a new training plan for me ever since I got on his body fat scale. (That was a one-time only event, BTW. I flatly refused yesterday.)

When I do “sprints” on the bike Trainer D pulls out all the stops in terms of motivational Trainer Talk. The problem is that I keep on laughing whenever he starts and it’s disruptive to my breathing pattern and interrupts the circuit. I’m still dripping sweat by the end, though, so something good must be happening. One of the phrases that doesn’t make me laugh, though, is Leave nothing left in the tank.

He’s telling me to go all out – don’t hold anything back, and expend every ounce of effort in me. Coach R subscribes to the same philosophy – win or lose, he wants to see you giving 100%. (My side note: but of course, winning is nice.)

Coach R backed down from his pinky-swinging, no-hand holding agenda over the past couple of weeks as he saw me going downhill. I haven’t been feeling great – there was the coughing plus some yucky head pain (I got a new MRI and it came back all clean!), accompanied by some worse than usual nausea. Around this time I got it in my head to bump my caloric goals up by 100. SMASHING idea, I thought. And then I immediately got stressed out and had trouble eating anything. I got the NastyGram again.

One day I had to take some significant pauses during Line and Ladder Time and then Coach R had to go get my Ginger Water (ginger helps with nausea) while I was lying on the Leg Press. As I took generous swigs I told him about the day before when I was over 500 calories short: It wasn’t my fault, R – I fell asleep BY ACCIDENT!!

Trainer D has been particularly attentive to and observant of signs of distress (even if I’m not aware of them myself), he is just so…. I don’t even know how to describe it.  As we  had our pre workout update chat one day I couldn’t contain myself – WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS?!?!?  I wondered out loud.

I watched the clock very closely two Fridays ago and was APPALLED that every time I checked only 20 min had passed.  The fourth time I was glad bc it was all over, but no, he seriously says to me, Come over to a table.  We’re just gonna do some core work real quick. So I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase, Leave nothing left in the tank wherever I am – training, running, at home, etc.

The real reason I’ve been sad and stressed is that Uncle Bus passed away on May 18. SNIFF. I have been avoiding writing this post. Usually writing makes me feel better, but lately I just wanted to hide.

I adjusted my expectations regarding many things when I got sick – but something I never said out loud was that I secretly hoped that my Older Friends would “wait” for me to get better and things could ] be like they were. I was always shuttling people places (supermarket, pharmacy, doctor, church) and did a lot of hospital visitation in my old life. I did it because these Older Friends took such good care of me as my adopted grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Visiting 101 - part I

Visiting 101 – part I

But now I understand that it’s never going to be like that again. They can’t wait for me like I had hoped.

I saw Uncle Bus about 3 weeks before he went home to be with the Lord. He was living with a granddaughter and could barely lift the pen to sign the documents Daddy had brought him to attend to. This did not stop him from giving me the cheekiest wink ever when we left.

A week or so later, Daddy needed to go back but I asked to be excused. “I don’t think I have it in me,” I told Mommy quietly. She understood. I thought I had already said my goodbye.

But then when Uncle Bus stopped eating Daddy was called in to see if he could coax him into swallowing some nourishment. I gauged the urgency of the situation and told Daddy I wanted to come, too, if he thought that would be okay. He did – I think Uncle Bus would be very encouraged to see you. As I got ready I prayed with tears in my eyes because I knew it was going to be rough. But I told myself, You’re stronger now. You remember how to do this. Uncle Bus has been your friend for as long as you can remember. This is the least you can do for him. Leave nothing left in the tank.

When we arrived Uncle Bus was sleeping and we saw the names of other friends on the sign-in sheet who had been spending time with him. I could tell from the physical change, even while Uncle Bus’s eyes were closed and he was breathing gently, that there would be no convincing him to eat and that he would be home with the Lord soon.

Before he went way downhill, Uncle Bus had asked Daddy to preach at his funeral. He also said that Mommy and I would be very welcome to attend. It was a private family-only graveside service and this was a very great honor so of course I was determined to be there. There were some major all-terrain mobility challenges but I made it. I tweaked my ankle a bit but Gen fixed it. Daddy was under the weather and was eating my cough drops (he NEVER takes cough drops) prior to the service but I texted my siblings an SOS message in the car, they prayed, and Daddy did great. He brought a good Word and didn’t cough once.

On the way home I took care of his jacket and Bible in the back seat. I realized that the last time I held his Bible was in Oregon. I had “borrowed” one from the stack of different translations he keeps by his bedside and kept it beside my special chair in my apartment. I used it daily and “forgot” to give it back. I think Mommy found it in my storage garage last year and brought it home.


Since that day I’ve been working through everything and have found that even when I think I’m giving 110% and leaving nothing left in the tank, because I know the Lord there’s always more. It’s like the widow of Zarapheth’s oil that didn’t run out when she was making bread for Elijah.

308.  No Sign of Weakness

308. No Sign of Weakness

It’s a good thing, because if I’ve learned anything over the past four years it’s that big things happen and you’re sad, but the machinery of life still keeps on rolling and you have to keep moving or be crushed. For me, this means that I need to eat (it’s a lot better this week!), keep on Training and getting treatment (I’ve been super stressed but my body (not head) pain level has been very low – I attribute this to overall strengthening), and right now we’re planning for Uncle Bus’s memorial service.

I’m working on his slideshow and as I look at the old pictures I can’t help but cry a little. Or a lot. But I’m going to do this thing right – I won’t leave anything left in the tank.

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484. THIS is why I do this


At the end of 2014 when things started going downhill but before he called me out, Trainer D started getting in my grill about wanting even more information to feed his data-driven approach to Training and started talking to me about his favorite metabolic rate test – it involves wearing this crazy mask thing that measures your breathing, etc.

448.  Called Out

448. Called Out

I held it together while at The Gym but I cried for a week as I struggled with the memory of one of the first times I sat in a chair. I consoled myself by pre-ordering a Fitbit Charge HR (the one that measures your heartbeat through your wrist – you don’t need to wear a chest strap) so I could provide more data if pressed sans mask and when I showed up at the gym again I explained the situation to Trainer D with tears in my eyes. I don’t want to do that test, D…bc I make jokes about thinking I might die during PT but the first time I really thought that I was scared bc I couldn’t breathe and I lacked the verbal skills to tell anybody.

I haven’t done that test but now, 5 months later, I did the thing I vowed NEVER to do and got on The Gym’s body fat scale because Trainer D was talking about wanting more data again. I have told both Trainers, I am never getting on your body fat scale, nor will you ever approach me with a pair of calipers.

I made Coach R this reminder.

I made this for Coach R’s benefit.

But as is my custom, I seem destined to do things I never thought I would – e.g. that horrifying StairMaster experienceand we measured my body fat. (PS. Calipers = Still Not Okay.) So Trainer D got geekily pumped to go home and map out my new Training Plan and I lost no time in reporting to Smurfette and getting the ball in motion to see her professionally since I need some additional assistance with my eating “disturbances.”

Let me just state again that I’m not Training for Training’s sake. That’s the point of this post – I’m not just talking about body fat for kicks, promise. There’s some major method to this madness and as I’ve indicated before, more muscle protects my joints – which are increasingly showing signs of wear since they move in a way that is abnormal. But hey, I am grateful to be moving them at all. I work hard at this so my voice, vision, stamina, balance, spatial awareness, and overall carriage continue to get stronger.

I saw Mrs. P a few weeks ago at one of CP’s big design events. (He’s my friend who inspired the “Food for Thought” Business series.) The event was swarming with people eager to see C’s design, hosted in a beautiful private home, not a public ADA compliant space.

Food For Thought When Launching a Business Series | Ann Ning Learning How

But I did it – I survived a rare evening event and it was SO worth it. Mrs. P (C’s Mom) told me how she was hilariously struggling to get her son the artist to look at the pretty spreadsheets she had built for his business, and at dinner she said, You look amazing.

Side note: if you haven’t seen me in a few months or more, you see more dramatic changes and your language is likely to be stronger.

Me: Thanks, Mrs. P – I’m telling you, it takes a village. I have a team of highly trained professionals for all this. [Pointing to myself up and down.]

It’s true – I get a lot of help and invest all my time and money into Recovery so I can do things like go the Design House.   I took some squatting breaks bc my hips were bothering me, but I’ve been trained to do what it takes to last longer and move more efficiently, and J told me, You were moving really fast on those stairs.

Recently I was honored to speak at the IFI women’s conference – Mrs. D made it easy for me with an “interview” format and predetermined questions. Mrs. R was supposed to be my partner that day and I was SO Excited. Mrs. D didn’t know that Mrs. R and I go way back when she first asked us to do this. Mrs. R was as glad as I was to be asked, but she wrote me a nervous email about how she hadn’t done this before.

I laughed and tried to calm her – Seriously, Mrs. R, I knew this sort of life was POSSIBLE bc I watched you do it for over a decade.

I kid you not – I knew what this looked like bc I started hanging out with Mrs. R when I was a freshman at Georgetown, and GU was her hospital. She prayed me through undergrad, my early working life, and Business School (and beyond). Thanks, Mrs. R!

And at the conference I’m telling you, she was phenomenal. (Side note: she had been hospitalized like the week before, or something.) It was Words of Life on steroids. You can’t speak with Power unless you’ve lived it. And she’s lived it, and I learned about it not because she sat me down and talked to me but because I spent my early adulthood watching.

Right before we started I walked down the center aisle caneless. I saw myself like in a movie – I could hardly believe I was really walking, but I made it safely to the front and sat down. Later, I told the group – No one told me I had to run. I decided to do that by myself. And THIS is why I do it.

The ability to participate in events like this and have the mental stamina to prepare appropriately is exactly why I pursue Recovery aggressively. But my life isn’t spent just “waiting” for the next event. Every day there are small triumphs and things to look forward to.

Last week I cleared the dishwasher in the morning. I do my best physical work soon after waking up. Still, I had to do it in installments, and I had to practice my breathing and bracing bc my back was getting grumpy. But as I took the last dish out of the bottom rack I smiled knowing that Mommy wouldn’t have to do it later. She spent enough time picking nuts and berries out from under my wheelchair cushion and washing my hair for me, etc. It’s taken some time but now I can do more – so I smiled again and thought, THIS is why I do this.

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483. Erm…Are you sure about this?

image1Last week my massage was particularly harrowing. I told Gen how it’s hilarious that she lets me talk about what I think is wrong and what hurts, but she gathers all the information she needs by looking at me as I get up from my chair and walk to the room and then she gets down to business when I’m on the table.

She laughingly referenced the day we met – You had a hundred “rules.” Examples:

  • No cream – I’m allergic
  • Don’t touch my neck
  • All these clothes stay ON
  • Don’t touch me in general

Just kidding on that last one. Kind of :/.  PS.  Not kidding re. the clothes.

She recited some of my introductory rules and then mimicked her inner thoughts when we I first showed up – What, did someone bring you in here at gunpoint?


I thought that was hysterical bc I had never verbalized it like that before but it’s so representative of this whole situation. Now I flatter myself that I’ve gotten used to this whole Recovery thing and can roll with the punches, but apparently I still give off the air of being an unwilling participant who just wants to be left alone.

The problem is that my physical deficits require a lot of close contact for treatment and safety reasons.

Mm hmm. How terribly ironic. Holding hands with people was not my custom in my Old Life. One day I stumbled at the Gym doing some kind of I don’t remember what sort of move.

Trainer D: Ok, do it again. Wanna hold my hand?

Me [shrilly]: NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

[reconsidering] Sorry, that came out meaner than I meant it to.

But when it comes down to it I have become dependent on the safety provided by another person. But it turns out everyone’s plan is to lull me into a state of complacency and then SURPRISE!! It’s time for you to do this on your own.

480.  It's friendlier with two

480. It’s friendlier with two

Last week Coach R progressed from the pinky-swinging to making me doing step-ups without holding on to anything (he put me on a step near a railing so I could grab it if I lost my balance). The idea was for me to practice my balance and move my arms, which you know I love. :/

Coach R:       I want you to do this without me holding your hand.

Me:                How did I NOT see this coming? (Seriously, I was shocked.)

I WILL cry if I have to. (PS. I don’t make idle threats.)

Coach R:       I’m RIGHT HERE (indicating his proximity.)

Me [sullenly]: Yeah, yeah, yeah…

I could tell from his silence that he was concentrating on his ready stance and it was time for me to stop protesting and start moving. So I did my best but we stopped without even completing the full set bc my left ankle was hurting. I used my core as much as I could.

Coach R:       I’m happy with the way that went. That was better than what I was anticipating. Was that what you thought would happen?

Me:                 I didn’t think

Coach R:        [Chuckle] – that’s a really good answer.

Me:                 Seriously, I never even imagined that you would make me do such a thing.


In retrospect of course I should’ve known that we were moving in this direction – but I guess I refused to let myself think of it.

When I told Gen the story about the pinky swinging she smiled knowingly bc this is very much her world. But the thing is that it wasn’t my world until I got sick. When I landed here I was terrified and appalled at all the things that have to happen in RecoveryLand to get you healthier.

But Gen summarized it nicely. After she listened to my rules recitation at the beginning she (after laughing inwardly) thought to herself, Okay, I get it – you’re telling me I have to earn your trust.

And she did. They all did. So now even though I’m still scared sometimes, and although I like to put up a bit of a fight and say sassy things for fun, they all know that I’m really just along for the ride.

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481. A Reason to Celebrate


On the day I “interviewed” at The Running Gym we did strength/range of motion testing and Coach R forwarded the “Getting to Know You” conversation thusly:

Coach R:  So what part of China are you from?

Me      [Internal]:  Ummm… Why ya gotta ask me these hard questions, R?  It’s my FIRST DAY.

[Out Loud]:  I dunno.  Our blood is Chinese but we’re actually from Malaysia and Singapore.  Why?  You ever been to China?

Answer:  Yes, Coach R has been to China.  He was there for the Olympics (Beijing ’08).

Coach R is not used to helping people like me.

But he chose to do it anyway.

However, the fact that Coach R’s professional expertise has already been recognized at a very high level presents a problem – I style myself as a skilled provider of personal branding and career building collateral – the fact that he’s already been to the Olympics narrows my sphere of influence drastically.

I used to do resumes and interview prep for friends all the time in my Old Life.  I don’t really remember how it happened – I think I picked it up in B School and as an interviewer at an old job and for the Career Services department at Georgetown.  This part of my brain made it through unscathed.  In fact, my skills might even be stronger now that my social filter is compromised.

Anyway, since Coach R has already reached a certain point in his career he is not giving me much room to work with over here.  And I like to feel useful.  So I do what I can.

All of this Recovery is exhausting  463.  Marked Progress

All of this Recovery is exhausting 463. Marked Progress

A couple weeks ago we celebrated RAD – Coach R Appreciation Day.  It was the work of months.  Remember when I told you about my idea for a Coach R TV show?  I pitched it to him via email and he told me later with eyes wide, That was SO detailed.

I’m like,  Oh, R, you have NO IDEA (pointing to my head) how all this works.

Although he is very accomplished and all I have noted several areas of growth for him over the past year+.  E.g. Coach R’s knowledge of doughnuts is sadly lacking.  He is also not very good at pretending to have mobility impairments.

456.  Agility

456. Agility

So I decided to help him learn to use his imagination more. I waited until he was away training some athletes in another country and I roped the crew at The Running Gym into helping me take pictures etc. for RRN Episode 1 – this is the pilot presentation of Coach R’s Neighborhood.

I think the whole thing is a complete riot.  But then again, it’s like this blog – of course I think it’s funny because I wrote it.  But I did get Coach R to LOL which is a major win in my book, and when Mrs. Coach R viewed it that morning (prior to RAD, via email) she enjoyed it thoroughly, too.

My CRFC (Coach R Fan Club) focus group gave me some feedback, which was very helpful – but the best part of the CRFC was informing Coach R of its existence (because I take somewhat of a naughty delight in making him cringe).  He had NO IDEA what I was planning when I asked him to be a regular character on my blog a couple weeks after we met.  All of my peeps have growing fan bases – that’s been my goal all along. I also made this video bc, as I explained to Coach R later, I need to throw your fan club a bone at some point.

Side Note: Fandom begins at home.  Example 1:  I took a series of pics of Trainer D one morning.  I sat in the leg press cage thing and snapped away while telling him laughter-inducing stories.  I emailed a bunch to  Smurfette and she was tickled pink bc I was feeding her scrap booking addiction.  “Smurfette loved them,” I informed him smugly.  “You’re welcome.” Example 2:  Ed Blueberry is the President of the Mommy Fan Club.  He didn’t want to let Tanpo in bc he’d probably want to preside, but Mommy says marriage trumps membership so I think Tanpo is all set.

I’ll share RRN Episode 1 with you tomorrow, and then I’ll leave you alone on the video thing for a while.  I’m just giving you the background information in this post.  The first 2.5 minutes are RRN Episode 1 and then it morphs into my Thank You video.  BTW, I appreciate your kind responses to my Thank You vid so much.  I am going to be a slow responder, but let me just say, HUGs.  

After we both finished traveling we finally had RAD at the end of April.  My tech friends were in charge of snacks.  Aren’t these popcorn boxes cute?


In my world you learn to celebrate as a means of survival.  I always need to be celebrating something.  And Coach R was an easy target – this year is his 20th year of service at The Running Gym.  I’m glad the occasion presented itself so conveniently for me but I had another Trainer check the system to verify R’s start date bc really?!  I’m pretty sure they had to bend some child labor laws to let him start working if he’s already passing the 20 year mark.

The thing is that Coach R doesn’t relish being celebrated.  It’s like me – I love celebrating stuff as long as it’s not me.  So I targeted him.  Heh heh.  I informed the staff that he was a flight risk.  “I’m pretty scrappy,” I explained, “but he’s stronger and faster than I am” – so they knew to be on the lookout in case they needed to “intervene.”

I informed Coach R himself 5 minutes beforehand and I said, R, this is gonna be like the time you took your children to see The Wiggles:  I need you to Man Up and take one for the team.

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