Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dear Media in Edmonton:


I am wanting to write about a public inquiry that is happening this week at the Edmonton courts, with the hopes that it might get covered in the news. My sister, Shaunnie Rebecca Payne, passed away in September 2012, while she was under care at Alberta Hospital.

Rebecca was 31 when she passed away, after years going in and out of different facilities.  She was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder, and had all the difficulties associated with it: couldn't hold down a job, difficult family relationships, housing troubles, substance use, etc. etc.  At any rate, long story short is that she was in Alberta Hospital in intensive care; after having been taken off her medications and started on Clozapine, she passed away suddenly.  On a Friday, she had a physical assessment by an MD, and then she was found dead in her bed on a Sunday morning. The post-mortem indicated that she had a toxic amount of clozapine in her blood. No one knows “why,” and thus, our family called for a public inquiry. 

As someone who works with, and cares a lot for, folks who live with Mental illness and substance use, I am very interested in advocating for better care for this population.  My hope in the inquiry process is that there will be recommendations that will be made, which cannot be ignored.  People should not die while they are in psychiatric intensive care.  I want the public to be made aware, and I don’t want other people to die from the same (possible) mistakes that were made. 

I see media as being a very powerful tool to help with these types of this, hence my reaching out to local media. People with mental illness should be in the hospital to when they need to improve, heal and be kept safe.  Medications provided to any patient should have the keenest of knowledge around them.  Policies surrounding staff competency, staffing levels, and observational rounds should be rigorous and promote safety for clients.  People should not spontaneously die while in a psychiatric ICU.   

My sisters death will hopefully open a door to preventing accidental deaths in controlled psychiatric environments.  No one going forward should die from a toxic level of their anti-psychotic medication in their blood serum. Health care needs to be kept accountable, and this should not be kept quiet. The inquiry is at the courts in Edmonton Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Please feel free to be in touch, my phone number is 778-628-1909, and I am around! (Though, on the road today from Vancouver, so coverage is spotty.)

Amelia Birch, RN, MSc. 
Sent from some sort of handheld electronic device

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Oliver Half Iron Race Report

Oliver Half was a last minute entry for me, as I had planned on racing Cultus Lake Loop, the weekend after.  However, I'm really happy with the weekend, and the time spent in Oliver, and heading back to the site where my first BC race was, after I moved back from Montreal in 2012.  We arrived on Friday, after a beautiful drive through the North Cascades, and then had a good swim.  It felt like it was going to be the hottest place on Earth.  My shoulder has been a bit twingy, so I decided to not swim on Saturday & give it ice and a rest.   Up early on Saturday, got a great bike in (fast, with a low HR), and quick brick.  Then, mostly legs up with a bit of wine tasting!  I was also sipping on electrolyte water all day long. 

My goals were to mostly try to race what Ironman should feel like: comfortable, but not insane.  Drink more fluid than I think is needed.  Race smart, race strong.   I think my pre-race warm up was well executed (run with strides, a little time in the water, lots of arm swinging).  It was hot already (had to stay in the water to stay cool) and I knew I would suffer: I am not awesome in hot weather racing, particularly in running.  The race start was delayed, but, once it got going, things were smooth. I think a downfall is that I haven't had good "heat" race experiences in the past, and that is kinda stuck in my brain. 

The swim was FAST! I also didn't feel my shoulder *at all* which I was worried about, and subsequently relieved about.  I never had a set of feet to follow, as the #1 girl and I got separated by the 1st buoy.  Lots of men to weave through, and came out of the water in 2nd, with a 32xx ish swim... the swim was long, but awesome.  I'm confident that if it was true to distance, I would have been sub-:30.  In fact, when I look at my garmin, 2000m past at 29:15.

Off onto the bike, where I wanted to keep control of my HR (in the 140's/low 150s) for as much as possible.  It was a good ride. Other than a few lonely times on the first loop, the second loop was quite excellent though, I ended up riding predominately with another strong female rider (Sarah, from north van), who ended up being an excellent match.  We were able to ride controlled and steady. I felt like I would've been able to take in more fluids (at one point, I was stuck with empty bottle, and only had a superloaded carbo pro bottle), and perhaps more salt.  I've been testing out potatoes for fuel, and they have been going well!  I had one gu close to the end, and lots of bits of prima bar and chomps.  Again.. still think this could've been upped a bit.   HR avg 151, so I would say that my goal was well hit. 

Got off the bike, wanting to run SLOW.  I wanted to "negative pyramid" it... I.e: first 5k at 5:15, 2nd 5km at 5:05, 3rd at 4:55, 4th at 5:05 and last 1.2 km all out.  This did not happen at all.  A solid mistake I made was not taking the first two aid stations seriously.  I felt good at the first one out of transition, so I took nothing. The second one was "minimal."  This was Not the day to do that. ice, water, cola and gatorade was the pattern for every other station.  I wanted to pull out of the race, with lots of negative thoughts of "this is too hot, why should we suffer like this, I don't want to ruin myself" blah blahs.  I think that in racing like this, its not when the darkness comes (it will arrive for a while), but how you handle it when it comes.    Eventually, once I started hitting the aid stations appropriately, that was able to change.  The slowness through the aid stations really slowed down my splits, but at least they kept me running in between.  All in all for the run, it wasn't "awesome!!!" but I was glad to overcome what was some pretty negative thinking.   My Favourite bit was when I asked myself "Why do I do this?!?!"  And the answer came: BECAUSE YOU'RE GOOD AT IT!  BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING THAT MANY OTHER PEOPLE CANNOT!  BECAUSE YOU DEDICATE TIME AND MONEY AND EFFORT.  BECAUSE YOU ARE STRONG AND POWERFUL AND CAN FINISH THIS!"  Avg HR 164... which is actually about Par for a race. It certainly wasn't a "steady 164" though... a bit all over the place. 

I was excited to have an age group win!!!  but I didn't feel "stoked like crazy" with my race.  I know that the category was small, and probably slow (d/t Victoria the next week).  But, I'll take it!  I haven't had an age group win for a while.  I was super sore after the race, with lots of twitchy crampy muscles after the race. 

SO now, its on to Ironman Canada!  Anyone have a 5-week to ironman training plan!? :) 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Legs up!

It's the night before a race, and there is a whole lot of nothing going on!  Exactly the way I hope. We drove to the OK yesterday after meeting Sean and Sam following the epic Alaskan bike and ferry ride. Then we drove an amazing highway: the North cascades across to Osoyoos.  soSo beautiful!

I am going to be racing the Oliver Half Iron put on by Dynamic race events.  The last time I was here, it was 2012, I did an Olympic, and it was my first race in BC after moving back from Montreal. This race is #2 of 3 scheduled for the year, and I feel relaxed! We are staying at beautiful Spirit Rodge resort, and it feels like a race-cation.  Today we even got some wine tasting in, and pool side sitting.  (All, of course, while I taking plenty of salty water and a few more carbs than normal.)

I was out on a ride today, and I was able to go fast without much effort.  Exactly what you hope for.  The day before a race.  It is going to be ridiculously hot tomorrow:  in the likes of 35 degrees.  Last year, when sean and I did the granFondo, it was just above that (37 or so), and it was Tough!  So: what are my goals?  

Time goals are out of the window: the bike is an extra 5km, so I doubt it's a PR day wih that extra 10ish minutes of riding. 
Consistency is up there: starting my run manageable, with quick cadence and controlled HR. No fly and dies & running the hills.
  Keeping cool will be essential tomorrow. 
Good nutrition is up on the goals list: to fuel like I will in Ironman.  Plenty of fluids (I think I can handle more than I drink now), potatoes in race time.  Eat to fuel a marathon, even if I am only racing a half. 

Go hard.  Race with all my heart.  Feel happy to be wrecked tomorrow after the race. 

See you on the flip side. 
Also: my pre race photo:  are these legs or hotdogs!?