Monday, April 9, 2012


I have three weeks left until I'm finished with my first year of nursing school. Three weeks, seven tests. That's barely even registering with me right now, because at this point I've gotten so used to having a test or three every week that this is just par for the course.

The good news is that my Pharmacology final is open book, open note. I can't even express how wonderful that is.

Other than doing nursing school stuff and having some future-professional successes in the last week (including getting my official offer for the nurse extern summer program--yay), I've been spending most of my energy on running and gardening.

I've been flirting with running on and off for a couple years now, after running track in high school. Nursing school crushed it for a while, even though the more I learned the more I knew I needed to be exercising. I had a legitimate fear of injury that would boot me from the program (happened to 3 other people). I'd run for a while, then I'd quit, then I'd start running again and then I'd quit...cycle.

A few weeks ago, my grandmother lost a very long battle with cancer. I don't really like that phrase, "lost a battle" because in the end it's not much of a battle. The cancer won, fair and square. Cancer that started when she was in her 40's and eventually got her at age 68.

I haven't told very many people about it, because honestly I'm still having trouble coming to terms with it. I've lost all but one of my grandparents now, but she was the first who I've had real trouble realizing is gone.

Anyway, I don't really want to talk about that right now, but the point is, after Grandma finally died, it was the real wake-up call that I needed. In nursing school, you learn that pretty much two controllable things lend morbidity to pretty much everything:

1) Smoking.

2) Obesity.

Guys, quit smoking. Seriously. The public's general knowledge of how smoking is bad for you doesn't even scratch the surface. It's hard, but there is a lot of help and support out there for smokers who want to quit. Talk to your doctor. You'll never regret quitting.

I read a statistic in one of my nursing textbooks that said by the year 2050, 50% of Americans over the age of 50 will have Type II diabetes.

Think about that. That is terrifying. The same passage also said that 90% of Type II cases can be managed through diet and exercise (if caught early enough).

I'm not trying to lecture; these are just things that I find interesting and horrifying. I'm lucky enough to be pretty disease-free, but I have a mountain of family history for breast cancer staring at me. I owe it to myself and my husband to treat my body the best I can, to keep it as healthy as possible for the possibility that I will one day need it to fight for me in a way that I can't even comprehend right now.

Nurses are community leaders. How many times have you had a nurse who seems less than healthy and thought poorly of him/her? Nurses should lead by example. If I'm telling a patient they need to exercise and eat a balanced diet, yet the only activity I get is during my shift on the floor, and I go home and eat three double cheeseburgers for dinner, that's a little more than hypocritical, don't you think?

So I'm running. Right now, part of my running is dealing with my grief and stress, and that's good. It's healthy. I'm beating myself up on the road in the best way possible, and it's helping. But I don't want to have any more cycles. I want this to be the beginning of a lifetime.

I signed up for a 5k on May 6, which is the day before my 26th birthday. And I've verbally vowed to run my first half-marathon, with Nicole Ducleroir, in October. I'll register officially on my birthday.

Goals keep you honest.

Are you being honest?


Old Kitty said...

I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. The big C is totally evil and if we are able to stave this big C off with something like quitting smoking and looking after ourselves then yes! Please peeps do so! Take control!

Good luck with your exams and your running!!! Take care

Jessica Lemmon said...

That is a terrifying statistic! Last year I went vegan for health reasons, mostly. I didn't do it to lose weight, but I lost 25 unwanted lbs. :) I admire your commitment to physical exercise, it's always been the one thing I avoid doing. Thanks for the reminder to look ahead, and avoid being part of that 50%!

Stina said...

Way to go, Summer! I love running. It's when I solve my blog problems and come up with ideas for my blog posts.

I used to be in nursing school. I quit before the end of my first year. I knew several females who had to leave because of unexpected pregnancies.

Grammy said...

Oh,,Babe, I'm so sorry for your loss. One of my daughters had cancer two years ago, and after going through treatment is in remission, but it is a daily battle; my other daughter's husband has multiple myeloma and through treatment is holding it at bay. Wish I could run, but I encourage you to keep at it. God bless you, my dear. Congrats on your going to nursing school. Will keep you in my thoughts. Ruby

Teri Anne Stanley said...

I'm sorry about your grandma, but it sounds like you are processing her, Summer, run!

I struggle with compulsive overeating...I've gained and lost and regained LOTS of weight over the years...and I'm a bit of an evangelist about the evils of refined carbohydrates and fried crap.

It's like smoking (which I did manage to quit 20 years ago)'s so easy to know that it's bad for you, and so hard to just NOT do something, because our stupid brains are involved. We get addicted, we over think things, we rationalize...

Okay, stepping down from my soap box now.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Summer, I'm very sorry about your grandmother. Prayers for your family.
I don't smoke (never have) and I eat right, exercise, and am in better shape now than when I was younger.

Jemi Fraser said...

So sorry about your grandmother. It's so hard. Sending best wishes your way *hugs*

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear about your grandmother. Good thoughts headed your way. Good luck with the 5K and the 13.1. I know an unhealthy nurse. Unhappy, unhealthy, diabetic, but works as a cardiac nurse.

running4him said...

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Sarah Ahiers said...

Aww i'm sorry to hear about your Grandma. She was so young!
As i've been pretty honest. I'm in that fat category, though i've lost 13lbs since January. But we have our first 5k ever in June and we're going to start running outside (instead of on the treadmills) at least once a week, once the new shoes are broken in.
I have to say, your running is a big inspiration for me wanting to be a runner. So thanks for that!

Unknown said...

I love that you are embracing the idea of nurses being role models -- so true! I know so many doctors who smoke cigarettes or tan in tanning beds. Hello?? Anyhow, I'm looking forward to running that race with you in October -- we're going to rock it!

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

Oh dear, I'm so sorry for your loss. I know you don't want to talk about it though, so...just *hugs*

I think it's wonderful that you're taking your health seriously. It's taken me a long time to get to that point and a lot of battles with my immune system. I'm not a runner, not in any real sense, but I'm working hard to take good care of myself, eating well and lowering stress levels. Perhaps someday I'll take up running, too.