Hitting the Ground Running

August 22, 2009 at 5:19 am (Uncategorized)

So this 1/2 marathon is no joke, I’m totally serious about running this thing. I know it’s going to be challenging, but I feel it’s something I have to do; not just for myself, but for so many others. The run is a fundraisng/awareness event for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, and for those of you who don’t know, I have Crohn’s disease. The money raised for this event will be used for research of new medications and the disease itself.

So, here is my story, I know it’s a bit long, but please keep reading. In December of 2005 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, although I knew this meant I would be dealing with chronic illness my entire life, I was relieved to know that my symptoms actually had a name. I started treatment the same day as being diagnosed, I was put on the highest prescribable amount of cortical steroids, and had instant results. Things weren’t so bad the first few weeks on steroids, I felt better, my energy was up, and soon enough I feeling great. As I tapered down the steroids the symptoms came back, I also became really irritable, and noticed my body changing as a result of the steroids. One group of steroids stopped working, so I was put on a different group, then they stopped working, and the symptoms persisted. As my body shrank my face grew fatter, it was a very odd look, but it meant the steroids weren’t working. I was finally put on immunosuppressants to try and get my immune system to stop attacking my GI tract as if it were a foreign body. It worked…for a while, I got a head cold which almost turned into pneumonia, so I needed my immune system back. I was put back on the steroids, experimented with new ones, went back to high doses of old ones. I knew things weren’t working and my Crohn’s was spinning out of control, I was missing a lot of work, sleeping all through the weekends, eating less than 1000 calories a day so my stomach wouldn’t cramp up.

In November 2007 I was hospitalized, I thought it was only going to be a few days most; get some IV fluids and meds in me and away I go. I knew that wouldn’t be the case after I got the results from my first CTscan, my intestines had ulcers and abscesses, surgery looked like it was in my near future. However, surgery had to wait, my immune system was shot from all the meds I was on for the past 2 years. I was so anemic I needed a blood transfusion, I was so malnourished I needed TPN (total parenteral nutrition) and lipids administered through the IV, I also only weighed 99 pounds. I spent a few days at one hospital while my doctors decided what to do with me, finally the transferred me to a newer hospital that had teams who specialized in Crohn’s cases. This transfer probably saved my life. I was set up with a new team of doctors, put on new antibiotics, and had the sweetest room in the hospital.  I spent 6 weeks here, waiting for the next step, having CTscans and other noninvasive procedures done. People think I should have gone crazy, being trapped like a lab rat, not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow. It wasn’t so bad, I had my family, I had amazing friends who would come and visit or call me daily, my doctors we great, as were the nurses, I also had a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. I would spend my days walking the halls with my “dance partner”, which was actually my IV pole, talking with the nurses, watching the fog come in through the Golden Gate, and sipping on apple juice flavored contrast fluid for my CTscans. Apparently that apple juice concoction tasted pretty nasty, but to me it tasted great since that was the only thing I could have. My CTscans started to look normal, and then they looked great, and my blood levels looked great. It seemed I had dodged major surgery. I was released a day before Christmas Eve, it was great spending time with my family out of the hospital. I was so happy, and so was everyone I knew, I was so excited to be out and about again. 

Two days after Christmas I woke up sweating, I had a fever of 103, was delirious and felt like the Incredible Hulk had punched me in the gut. My mom rushed me to the doctors, again I was hospitalized and put in the ICU. I was rushed in to have a CTscan, my small intestine had completely ruptured and toxins were entering my body. I was septic, and was given a central line in my neck, giving the doctors a clear path into my heart. My blood pressure was extremely low and my pulse was racing at 150. I was being prepared for surgery and given a platelet transfusion, but they couldn’t operate until my pulse and fever came down. I was packed in ice and given an extremely low dose of childrens’ Tylenol. After 6 hours of this I was finallyable to go in for surgery. I was so happy that I was joking with the OR team about listening that radio station they had on. After the surgery I woke up, doped up, asking about what the doctor took out. I had to have a foot and a half of my small intestine removed and about 6 inches of my large, I ended up with an iliostomy. An iliostomy to most other 24 years olds would probably mean the end of the world, but it meant freedom to me. The diseased area was gone, I was finally going to get better and return to my life.  My doctor told me that within 6 to 9 months I would be looking at another surgery, but it would be to reattach my intestines…a good surgery so to speak. I was still on antibiotics, which slowed healing, but after 7 months I was healthy enough for my second surgery. In July 2008 I was pieced back together, I felt normal, despite having a 10 inch incision on my stomach.

It’s been over a year since my successful reattachment, during my recovery my doctor suggested I should get more exercise. I started with simple walk around the block, then started walking a mile, and I kept increasing the distance. While on the CCFA website I found out they sponsor runs around the US. I started thinking that it would be great to be able to complete one of these runs. 

So, here I am training for a 1/2 marathon, I’m not doing it alone, the CCFAhas set up training groups and coaches.  Right now in my training I’m moving on average 4 mph, so I’ll complete the half in a little more than 3 hours, not bad. In 16 weeks, after my training is complete, I should be able to complete the run in under 2 hours. Now, I don’t want to sound selfish in my reasons, I am running this for me, but I’m raising money to help those like myself who have suffered from Crohn’s disease.  So that’s my story, it sounds unique, but unfortunately it isn’t. So many Americans are afflicted with Crohn’s, and many haven’t even been diagnosed yet because their doctors don’t know the signs. This run will help those who still need help.

Thanks for reading. I will start my fundraising campaign soon if any one would like to donate.

If you would like any more information on Crohn’s disease of the Rock’n’Roll 1/2 marathon go to http://ccfa.org  or http://www.ccteamchallenge.org/site6.aspx


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Where Have I Been?

August 15, 2009 at 12:47 am (Uncategorized)

It’s been a long time since I have written anything for my blog. For those of you who follow it, I’m sorry. But, I am here to tell you that more posts will be coming soon, and not just posts of my cheap exploits around the LA area. I have recently started training for a half marathon that takes place in December in Las Vegas. So, instead of annoying people with Facebook updates about every mile I run, every wall I hit, every cramp I get, and so on, I will talk about it here. I would love to get any feedback on my running; critiques, pointers, or your encouragement is welcome. Some of you may think I’m crazy for wanting to run a half marathon, (especially those of you who have seen me run), but it’s something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’ll have to wait to tell you the full story with my reasons for doing this in my next post, because right now I’m off to the gym.
Happy Adventures!!!

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As Seen on the Big Screen!!!

June 29, 2009 at 7:04 pm (Hiking!)

When you hear the name Vasquez Rocks a mental image may not immediately come to mind. Despite being a world famous geological feature it is also one of the least visited. Still have no idea what or where Vasquez Rocks is? Picture huge linear rocks jutting out of a desert landscape at a 45 degree angle. Still nothing? Remember the original Star Trek, the episode where Capt. Kirk battles that lizard dude, yeah, that’s the place. Vasquez Rocks was also used in Star Trek as the planet that Spock from, I’m not a Trekker or Trekkie, so I have no idea the name of his fictional planet. Not in to Sci-Fi? Okay, for you 80s movie fans, the rocks were used for the gateway to hell in Bill  & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Or, for you western fans it was always used as the antagonist’s hideout in Bonanza, Blazing Saddles. and Zorro. If you still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, here is a something to jog your memory.

Vasquez 1

So now you know what that place is called that you have seen in countless films and television shows. Sorry to ruin any movie magic for you, but now you know that certain films were not shot in space, hell, or the badlands, but in sunny Southern California. 
The features Vasquez Rocks are actually more majestic in real life than on the screen. These huge sheets of sandstone come shooting out of the earth giving the landscape a disjointed feel. While out among the rocks you get the impression that eons ago two worlds crashed together and formed this jagged terrain. In a sense, that is exactly what happened, (now I’m not talking about any extraterrestrial business), Vasquez Rocks happens to be part of the San Andreas fault network. Because of the spectacular terrain these rocks have been an interest to many people throughout history. From as early as 2000 BC to the 1700s the Tataviam people used the outcroppings of rock for shelter in the hot desert sun. Tataviam. In the late 1800s it was a hideout by the bandit Tribucio Vasquez, after whom the rocks were named after. Presently, Vasquez Rocks is a county park that is enjoyed by hikers, rock climbers, equestrians, and uniformed Trekkies recreating their favorite Kirk and Spock moments.

Vasquez Rocks is a great place for hikers of all experience levels. It’s a bit nostalgic, crawling all over rocks, seeing how high you can go, it brings back memories of reckless childhood adventures. The rocks are a lot of fun for you and your friends to hike around, do some orienteering, or be a total nerd and reenact your favorite big screen moments. The area is the nicest early in the morning or close to dusk, at those times you have the best light for photography and the cooler temperatures. You don’t need any heavy duty hiking gear to explore off the trails, all you need is a good pair of sturdy shoes. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, a hat or bandana, and bring lots of water because it get sunny and hot; remember you are in the desert. Watch out for rattlesnakes, although there are few incidents a year, nevertheless watch where you put your hands and feet. Be sure to make some noise by stomping your feet periodically and the snakes should avoid you. There are picnic tables and barbeques in the park. Parking and entrance is free, so it’s a pretty popular spot. There are not a lot of trashcans around so take your own trash bags if you plan to picnic. Also, dogs are welcome, but please pick up after them. Unfortunately, not everyone picks up after themselves in the park, be an awesome person and pick up some of what others may have left behind.. The rocks are easily accessible, just take the 5 northbound to the 14, after passing through Canyon Country, that the exit at Agua Dulce Canyon Road. Turn left at the bottom of the off ramp. The road passes through the southern part of the rocks, then it makes sharp  right turn. A short distance further, the road makes an abrupt left turn, but the park entrance is straight ahead on Escondido Canyon Road. The park entrance to the immediate right.
Happy Adventures!
Information on Vasquez Rocks:
For Films and Television:
Vasquez 2

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No Chub Adventure Grub

June 16, 2009 at 4:26 pm (Munchies)

So I have been trying to find a great snack to remedy low blood sugar while out and about. Unfortunately, most pocket sized snacks are loaded with unnatural ingredients and unneeded calories. Power Bar fully admits to using GM (genetically modified) ingredients, and says it’s good for you because the FDA approves of GM products. Although, some might consider the FDA to be infallible, just keep in mind the FDA’s inability to make a decision on saccharin. Despite multiple studies concluding that it causes tumors and cancer in both rodents and primates, (poor little animals), the FDA is still on the fence, and has recently stated that saccharin is “not classifiable as to the carcinogenicity to humans”. I know that both Kashi and Clifbar use good, unmodified ingredients, they are still expensive, and come in limited flavors. So, enough of that rant. Basically, I was looking for a great snack to give me energy that won’t melt, make me feel like I have a rock in my stomach, or possibly give me cancer. While looking through a stack of my Dad’s outdoor magazines to get camping ideas, I came across this granola recipe from a Backpacking themed magazine from the 1970s. It‘s so awesome, and you can make it as organic as you want, and alter the flavor with your favorite dried fruit.
2 cups rolled old-fashioned oats
1 cup rolled barley or wheat flakes
1 cup raw or toasted wheat germ
1 cup slivered almonds
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp salt
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk, light can be used
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup diced dried mangoes, papayas, or dates
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, barley, wheat germ, almonds, brown sugar, coconut, and salt.
3. In a large glass measuring cup or a bowl with a spout, combine the coconut milk and vanilla. Pour into oat mixture and mix well. Spread out in baking pan.
4. Roast for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally to cook evenly, until the granola is golden. Do not let the granola get too dark, and stir frequently during the last 15 minutes, to prevent scorching.
5. Transfer to a large bowl to cool completely. Stir in dried fruit.
6. Store in an air tight container for 1 month at room temperature , or 6 months in the refrigerator.
This recipe make 8 cups.

Eight cups may seem like a lot, but believe me, you will love this granola as a morning cereal, a topping for yogurt, or as a mid-day snack. I  prefer making this with a ½ cup of dried mango, and a ½ cup of dried strawberries, but any dried fruit can be used. To make for easy storing and eating  in the wild or  the concrete jungle, store the granola in a wide-mouth water bottle, like a Nalgene. When you’re ready to snack, just crack open the bottle and pour a little in your mouth at a time and enjoy.

Oh, here are some links to GM foods and the saccharin studies.
GM foods: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/gmfood.shtml
Saccharin and the FDA: http://enhs.umn.edu/current/saccharin/fda.html
Power Bar: http://www.powerbar.com/products/49/POWERBAR_NUT_NATURALS_Fruit_and_Nut.aspx

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Get Off Your Ass Los Angeles!

June 10, 2009 at 6:51 pm (Hiking!)

This post is for all you weekend warriors out there, who have no interest in wasting your days off watching the Lakers or the Dodgers do what they do every season…win, win, win, win, lose. So if you want to avoid the inevitable disappointment, pull yourself away from your couch and television, and enjoy some of the many local treasures that Los Angeles has to offer. Yes, that’s right, Los Angeles has much more to offer than just the sports teams. I know when most people picture Los Angeles in their minds, they see the skyscrapers of downtown crowned with smog, or they picture an asphalt labyrinth packed with cars. However, Los Angeles has a much softer and cleaner side, it’s full of places you can escape to. The southland contains some of the most beautiful wilderness areas on the west coast. The best way to explore these natural treasures is by going hiking. There are hundreds of trails out there waiting for you! You don’t need super high-tech moisture wicking clothes or heave duty hiking boots, all you need are comfortable  clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and a sturdy pair of shoes. Oh, and don’t forget to get an Adventure Pass, it’s a permit that lets you park your car at trailheads, and it‘s good for 12 months: it’s $30 and $5 for an additional car, you can purchase the pass at any REI or Sport Chalet. So get out there, have fun, take pictures, enjoy fresh clean air! And while you are out and about on the trails, please remember these 5 simple rules:

1. Always check conditions before you go hiking.
2. Always tell people where you are hiking.
3. Don’t be overzealous with choosing a hike.
4. Bring water, snacks, first aid kit, a compass and map.
5. Don’t be an asshole to Mother Nature! Stay on the trails and take out what you take in. And if you do see any garbage on the trail, feel free to pick it up, because Karma is a beautiful thing.

Here are some great resources to get you started on your outdoor, wilderness adventures.
Afoot & Afield in Los Angeles County by Jerry Schad
Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels by John W. Robinson and Doug Christiansen (book also comes with a map)
Angeles National Forrest Website http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/angeles/
Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy http://www.smmc.ca.gov/
ABC’s and 123’s of the Trail http://www.abc-of-hiking.com/hiking-etiquette/hiking-etiquette.asp

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Hoist the Sails!

June 9, 2009 at 9:16 pm (Uncategorized)

Good Morning Boys and Girls! This is Miss M., aka No Beard the Pirate, in her first official entry. So ,you may be wondering what this blog is about, I mean what else could anyone want to blog about? Well, to be totally honest, I’m still not sure what I’m going to write, but hopefully you will find it interesting. I want people to become aware of the “awesomeness” that is Los Angeles….yeah, I’m not afraid to say it. I want to exhibit the other side of Los Angeles, the true side, not what you see on television, that Los Angeles is a fictional character. The true Los Angeles is not full of Celebrities and “celebreatards”, it’s full of hard working people with real lives and with little time on their hands. So this blog is for the true Angelenos, the people who do more than shop and stuff their faces with sushi. It will be a place for random events, cheap thrills, quick getaways, and the tools to become an avid adventurer in the “City of Angels”, and remember kiddies, I’m on this adventure with you.

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Hello world!

June 9, 2009 at 7:08 am (Uncategorized)

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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