Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm Colour Rad and Muddy Awesome!

I can't not be busy. I don't think it's possible. I want to not do anything most days, but yet somehow I fill my days to the brim. Especially this summer. Oops. Summer is half over and I realized I picked up so many extra shifts at work, that I lost July and half of August with my kids to work.

These last two Saturdays though were dedicated just to me. Doing something I really enjoy. Running. I did a half marathon last October and then I had surgery. Now that I feel better, I was considering another race. However, training for a half marathon is really time consuming and I wasn't feeling up to it this year. But I wanted to do something to help me get back into running. That's when I hear about Colour Me Rad I had never done this before, but have seen a lot of my American running friends post pictures of being head to toe in colour on their facebook pages. I had to do it. Just a 5k, no intensive training needed, and it would get me back into the habit of running.

July 20 at 9am I ran my 5k at the Red River Exhibition Park in Winnipeg, MB

This race wasn't nearly what I thought it was. I had fun, but it didn't provide the challenge in a race that I like. The thing I didn't know was that Colour Me Rad is more of a social thing. More people walk than run the 5K. Those walkers have probably never run in a race and don't really understand the importance of staying to one side of a trail to leave room for the runners to pass on their left. Even though the announcer mentioned keeping to the right of the trail if you're walking, no one heeded his words and many of us were left weaving in and out and dodging people throughout the 2.81miles. That was the other thing. It wasn't a true 5k either. It was short. In my few short years of running I have apparently become a more serious runner lol It didn't help that I left my mp3 player at home and had a dozen people in my head talking. It made for a noisy, non relaxing run on top of everything else I found annoying.

The good about the run? Getting smashed with colour. Seeing little kids running, walking, getting pulled or pushed in wagons and strollers. Getting out and completing a run I've never done before. The only way I would do this again though is if someone I know who really isn't into running, but wants to do this 5k asked me. Otherwise, challenge wise for me, saying I at least participated in it once is good enough for me.

On Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 10am I ran Mud Hero in Winnipeg, MB. Actually it was in Grand Beach, MB around the Grand Beach Entertainment Center.

What on earth does my shirt mean? I have a wonderful friend on facebook from the UK and she dared me to put "My name is Sarah and I'm F'ing Awesome!" on my shirt as I have four kids and do so much I should have probably drove myself completely mental by now. Like padded walls and straight jacket mental. Reality is, the kids and what I do is probably what keeps me out of that padded room and straight jacket. As you can see I modified the wording on the shirt just a bit and called her out instead lol.

Due to my Dad scaring me about the difficulty of the obstacle courses of this race, I turned to Google to find out how long it would take to do. I knew I had the running down as I've done two half marathons to date and have been doing some practice runs prior to this. My worry was the obstacle course and my lack of upper body strength. Thank goodness for this wonderful blogger here at Piper's Run. She had just done the Mud Hero run and had a lot of helpful hints, as well as how long it took her.

Feeling better, I hydrated like nobody's business the night before, I also made sure to eat a protein filled breakfast in the morning. I don't normally eat before my runs (although I probably should), the tip was to make sure I ate in order to make it through without wanting to throw up and pass out by the end. Mom and Dad picked me up very early, while hubby stayed back with the kids.

Of course we were there EARLY and registration didn't take that long. So I warmed up, jumped up and down, danced a little to the music. Finally it was almost time for my wave to go through.

I didn't bring my mp3 as I didn't want to get it full of mud and not work ever again. So I just kept telling myself to pace myself and run my own race not someone else's. I also tried to run the whole thing with the least amount of rest as possible. Tried telling myself that the obstacles were my rest points. It worked until the last 2km. My body was getting tired and there was a lot of uphill at that point. Also, I was running trails. I normally run on pavement of some sort. Some trail, but nothing even close to what I went through on the mud run. I think I would have done better if I would have had some significantly more upper body strength.

First big incline and very steep decline. There really was a reason it got slow at this point.

Last obstacle. Similar to the mud pit we went through in the beginning. There was so much mud in my eyes, I could barely see after that one. I still have mud in my left ear that doesn't want to get out.

I'm almost at the end right? I'm really tired, but I spot my parents. This must be close. Then I spot the last mud pit.

Here we go. I'm really hoping this is the last mud pit. This is some gritty mud and it's everywhere.

Yes! I made it! And dude, I would make one ugly sasquatch. (Imagine that mud as hair).

I wasn't sure of my time. But my ultimate goal was just finishing. We left shortly after as my Dad was really tired. I was so glad my Mum was there. This was the first race she has ever come to. I'm sure she was tired as well, but didn't say anything about it.

A few hours later at my In-Laws for dinner the race results were revealed. I was so stoked! My goal was 2 hrs as I was not sure how the obstacles would slow me down. The lady from the blog did hers in 1.5hrs. I was shocked and very pleased at my ending results.

RESULTS: Mud Hero. Time: 0:58:28.4. Pace: 8:44. Category: F35-39. Cat. Place: 46/146

Would I do this again next year? OF COURSE!!! Now to get a group together to drag through the mud with me.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just A Support Worker

How many times do I hear this statement? How many times have I even said it? I'm just a support worker.

The vision I get in my head and what most people think is someone who sits around, talking to their coworkers, while they get paid large amounts of money to "babysit" some people who can't take care of themselves. Oh if only it was so my friends. If only it was so. More people would flock to this line of work and there wouldn't be such a high turnover rate. Working at McDonald's I saw less of a turnover in staff. So what does a support worker do?

Well, we provide a whole slew of care for mentally and physically disabled people. It really isn't just taking care of their personal hygiene and making sure they are fed. It might be different in an institution setting, but, in the community homes the job is intense and demanding.

Where I work they have a motto of "freeing the spirit" and enabling a persons potential. Those that see someone in a wheel chair, or some physical disability see limitations, our community homes prove there is more to this, you just need to look closer. These people are extremely intelligent and usually "trapped" in their bodies or minds or sometimes both. They are unable to communicate in the traditional ways. We need to listen closer. We need more patience. We need to try to provide oppoutunities to do things, others have said are not possible. Sometimes, it is not possible, sometimes things need a modification, but at least we are giving them opportunities to try and keep trying. Giving them a quality of life they wouldn't normally have.

To do this, instead of living in an institution, my clients are placed in community homes to live as normal lives as possible. We then become their caregivers in every sense of the word. We protect them from exploitation inside the home and outside in the community. We assist them in dressing, bathing, and eating as expected, but it doesn't end there. We are to help build harmony between them and their roommates. We become their most trusted allies.

We help them maintain and strengthen their family ties, which in some cases isn't easy. Unfortunately, once these people get into the community homes, as the "burden" of 24 hour care is relieved from the family member (typically the parent), keeping these family interactions on a consistent basis becomes harder as these family members find a freedom in their lives they haven't experienced since their child was born. That stressor is gone. Much like when we leave our parents and have families of our own. While we don't intend to have more and more time space the moments we spend together it happens. The difference in our "normal" lives is that we have to be accountable for ourselves to keep in touch with those aging parents.

We are their bankers. We have to ensure they have funds to do fun things, yet, still buy things like clothing, personal hygiene products, everything we would need in our own lives. We are their lifeline to the simple things like swimming, going to a movie theatre, going to the beach, a walk down the street. We are their advocates in the community, showing that they can live functionally and safely, making much better neighbours in most cases than your average joe.

We are their maids and cooks. We have to maintain a good eye on what's healthy for each client, maintain their weight and their medications. Keep their living space clean and healthy. Teaching them and in most cases reteaching daily and hourly as short term memory and delayed learning impedes remembering why it's important to use the washroom more than once a day. Or why we get undressed or dressed in a bedroom or washroom with a door closed.

We are the yard maintanance workers. We mow those lawns, pull those weeds and seed that grass. We shovel and salt those driveways and sidewalks. We put in the reports if something is broken that we cannot possibly fix without the extra help.
(my black feet from working in the yard to keep it gorgeous for my clients)

We are the Occupational Therapists outside of the OT appointments. Being taught how use wheelchairs, lifts, special equipement so our clients can be more mobile and use normally unused limbs to keep muscle tone and the insides healthy and moving to do their jobs.

We are the medical advocates when something goes wrong and the medical doctors or teams need to know past health, current meds and what happened in order to have their jobs easier, the right diagnosis made and the best solution applied. We are the frontline to keeping these people alive and healthy.

There is easy burnout in this as there is so much to do. So much to know. We don't get breaks like everyone else, and some days, I don't get to use the washroom. My pay is not much higher than minimum wage for doing the job of at least 5 different people. I work anywhere from 8 - 12 hrs per shift and can be mandated to work the next shift if they have a sick call and no one is available to come in. So that becomes a 16 - 20 hrs shift very quickly.

I'm not complaining about my job, it gives me a satisfaction that I wouldn't get anywhere else. I'm just tired of being seen as "just a support worker", just like I get tired of being seen as "just a mom" when wanted to be a stay at home mom. My job gives someone a new lease on life, a chance to be something and someone they otherwise never would have been. At the same time it gives me purpose and a new lease on my own life. What I'd like is people to see the truth in all we do do. It's not easy work, definitely not worth the little pay we get, one of the common complaints is the allotment of money from the top down and from the institution setting to the home settings. I'm hoping that one day all we do will be seen for the superhero feats they can be some days. That I won't be seen as "just as support worker" and that maybe my pay will start reflecting it or at least going up at the same pace as the standard of living.

So next time you hear someone say they are "just a support worker", give them a hug or a high five and remind them of the importance of their chosen super hero profession. Or if you are tempted to say that to or about someone else, stop yourself and remember they are doing what most of society cannot.

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