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Training me…and me

“WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO MEEEEEE?” yelled the complainer, thrashing her arms and pounding her legs on the ground. “I’M SICK AND TIRED OF IT ALLLLL!” Had there been others, she’d have made quite a public scene. Fortunately, as always, they were alone.

“You know very well why I keep doing this. Now, when you’re done throwing your little tantrum, you will get up, put on your running clothes, do your warm-up drills, and get out there and run,” said the wiser one, very matter-of-factly.

Sometimes the wiser one makes the complainer go swimming at 6:30 in the morning. Other times she makes her go cycling in pelting, freezing rain. She’s a relentless slave driver. Just as the complainer never gives up on her whining.

My training is probably more of a head battle than anything else. (more…)

Guest Post: Myelofibrosis and Willing to Live

“Diseases are only rare until you know someone with that disease” – Amy Dockser Marcus Myelofibrosis_MF_awareness_badge

I first read this some eight years ago in an article in The Wall Street Journal, but I only understood what it meant when I suddenly found my life turned upside down.

Six months ago, I was diagnosed with myelofibrosis – a rare type of blood cancer where the bone marrow cells, which are responsible for producing the different cells of the blood, die off and are replaced by fibrous tissue.

These fibers disrupt the body’s normal production of red blood cells (which carry oxygen to all organs of the body); white blood cells (which protect the body against invading diseases); and platelets (which help the body form clots when we are injured to stop bleeding and allow our bodies to heal).

Before this, I never knew what myelofibrosis was. My quick reading on my phone as I drove back after getting my results from the clinic showed that it is a fatal, rare disease that usually hits people over 60, with an expected lifespan of two to seven years after discovery. It very rarely affects young people. Every new piece of information I read came as a shock to me – I was in my early 30s, I was part of a small and very loving family, and I realized I had an untreatable type of cancer.

I spent several weeks in a very, very dark place. I was confused, desperate and had nowhere to turn. The only thing that kept me going was support from my partner who stayed strong to help me through this confusion – even though it was confusing for them as well. (more…)

Cycling Europe Days 26 & 27: Italia! My Beebol!

Fatwa #397 issued by Sheikha Nadia El-Awady: Married women are not to travel unaccompanied by their husbands in Italy. Italian men are too handsome and their smiles too charming. Single women, on the other hand, should get their butts over to Italy PRONTO. 

Yesterday was a very happy day for me.

The day before, shortly after I published my last blog post, I went out for another walk

Really, Monaco?

Really, Monaco?

around Monte Carlo. My afternoon walk made me feel very overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. My evening walk made me feel very uncomfortable with the excessive opulence I was witnessing. There were escalators and elevators to take people from one level of the city to the next. You heard me. The most expensive cars roamed the streets. I walked to the casino. The cars standing in front of it! The people going into it! I watched people sitting on their extravagant yachts sipping champagne. It was the stuff of movies. And it wasn’t for me. I needed out.

I left early the next day and had another wonderful and peaceful cycle along the

Italy!

Italy!

Mediterranean. It wasn’t long before I saw it: the sign that indicated I was crossing into Italy. “Oh white day!” I said out loud in Arabic. It sounds silly in English. آنهار أبيض is what I said and kept repeating with a very silly throaty laugh. I then started getting carried away with myself. One of my many personalities started saying, “Who woulda thought? Me, Nadia El-Awady, from the fallaheen in rural Egypt, cycled from Portugal to Italy!” And then one of my other personalities interrupted, “You’re not from rural Egypt! That was your father! YOU were born and raised in the US until the age of 15!” “Oh yeah,” the other one said. “Still. Nadia El-Awady, daughter of Abbas El-Awady who WAS from the fallaheen, cycled from Portugal to Italy!

It was Italy! I was home! The Italians! My beebol (people in Egyptian English)! My most favorite beebol among all beebols. This was something I already knew about Italians. I have been to Italy many times. I know the Italians. I understand them with their loud voices, their belly laughs, their expressive gestures, their hot tempers. They are people who leave nothing on the inside. It’s all out there. And I get that. I relate to that. I understand that.

And the Italians made sure to leave no room for doubt that they were mine and I was theirs. (more…)

Achieving the Ever Effervescent Work-Life Balance

How can one strike a healthy work-life balance? Is it possible to be successful both in your professional life and your personal life? These are questions that we all ask ourselves at one or more points in our lives. The fact that you are asking yourself these questions is good. It means you have slowed down enough to evaluate where you are now and where you would like to be heading.

Defining success is a good place to start. Each one of us defines it differently. A good general definition that can apply to anyone is that success is what gives you a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Success depends on what your objectives are. Imagine yourself after retirement looking back on the past 40 years. Do you feel you’ve accomplished something with your life? Do you feel you lived your life to the fullest? Do you feel you’ve left a positive lasting mark on society…on someone…anyone? Is your life now – at retirement – as satisfying as it was before you retired? Have you structured your life so that satisfaction lasts a lifetime?

If your answer to one or more of the above questions is no, you need to re-think your life strategy. (more…)

It was a moonless night… A social networking narrative experiment

It was a moonless night. They had been at this for hours. Their heavy, tired feet were moving in synch with each other creating a rhythm that cleared their minds of the arduous task at hand and the more difficult task to come. For the moment, all they needed to focus on was keeping up the rhythm:  Tap, plump, crunch, drag, tap, plump, crunch.

 

This is a social networking experiment in narrative writing. I invite you, the reader, to engage now as a writer. Add a paragraph in the comments section that builds on the first paragraph in the story and subsequent paragraphs developed by others.

You are allowed only one paragraph per post. You are allowed one post for every three posts made by others. Your words may be subjected to some minor editing. Your post may not be used if it does not flow properly with the rest of the narrative or if it is deemed inappropriate for other reasons. Do not let this last statement stifle your creativity, however.

Develop the storyline and the characters as the process progresses.

Identify yourself as the owner of your words unless you wish to remain anonymous. But do realize that the final product may possibly turn into a New York Times Best Seller or a Hollywood movie, in which case you might regret not making mention of your name to get credit for your words.

Now have fun! And let’s see what this story is all about!

مختبر نادية للفيديو بلوج: الإجابة على أسئلة المشاهدين

الحالة لما تيجي لي مش بأعرف ابطل. وبعدين عندي ولاء لجماهيري (4 مشاهدين) ومهم أجاوب على أسئلتهم

تجدون بالتالي آخر حلقة من حلقات المختبر لهذا اليوم: الإجابة على أسئلة المشاهدين

توقعوا في الحلقة مفاجئات سارة

Are US science journals not allowed to publish Iranian research?

I received an email from what seems to be a credible source saying that an Iranian working in the field of orthodontics submitted a paper to an American journal. The paper was refused solely on the grounds of the paper’s country of origin, Iran.

This is the email the Iranian orthodontist is claimed to have received (names have been removed by the source of information):

Dear Dr. XXXX

We have received your manuscript in our automated system. Unfortunately, our Federal Government does not allow us to process and edit manuscripts submitted from Iran.

I regret that the world situation results in our inability to communicate science as we would wish. I suggest that you submit your manuscript to a European journal or a journal located in some other country than ours.

Thank you for your interest in The XXXXX.

Sincerely,

XXXXX, DDS, MSD, PhD
Editor-in-Chief, The XXXX
Professor Emeritus
University of XXXXX
XXXXXX University

This is definitely worth looking into. Has the US government really issued warnings to scientific journals against publishing research by Iranian scientists? If so, why? When do political sanctions go too far? Is it smart to sanction science and scientific research?

Nadia’s Travelblog: PMSing During International Travel

Air travel is hard enough without PMS.

PMS, for the remaining few of you who do not know or have been fortunate enough not to experience it first or second hand, is a monthly condition that afflicts women all over the world and that causes their brains to swell. This swelling of the brain can put the best of us in the worst of moods, to say the least. Of course, PMS – premenstrual syndrome – causes other things to happen to a woman as well, but in this particular woman, it is the swelling of the brain that is the main cause for distress; for her and for anyone within a 5 km radius.

I write to you from an airplane headed from Salt Lake City, Utah to Paris, France and with my knees crammed against a deceased leather chair. I will remain in this position for 11 hours. My swollen brain is throbbing and I’m displeased to announce that I am well on my way to a full-blown case of PMS.

As I entered the plane on my previous flight five hours ago (I have three flights on this trip from San Diego, CA to Cairo, Egypt), I watched the male flight attendant place the carry-on bags of the two passengers that preceded me into a compartment right next to the airplane door. When my turn came he told me I’d have to check-in my carry-on all the way to Cairo. There’s no room for my carry-on anywhere on the plane, he told me. But I have three flights and I need my carry-on, I protested. Do not ask me exactly WHY I needed it. I just did. What if I decide to buy something at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris during my six hour transit, for example (this is usually inevitable)? Where would I put it? My carry-on also contained my computer – larger than my purse. I can’t allow my computer to be placed in a piece of luggage that will be mishandled while being thrown into and out of the belly of three airplanes and finally onto the creaky conveyor belt of Cairo Airport. And it is beyond logic to expect me to carry my computer in my arms during three flights and two transits. So I NEEDED my carry-on!

I explained to the flight attendant that I’m traveling to Cairo, and surely either one of the nice gentlemen who entered the plane ahead of me would be willing to check-in their carry-on in order to allow me to keep mine on the plane. Surely they had closer destinations than I did! The mean man, the very mean, mean man, refused that I even ask their permission. When I protested yet again, he asked me to step out of the plane. TO STEP OUT OF THE PLANE!
I went back along the armway (that tunnel thing must have a name, but I don’t know it) to the counter that allows us to board the plane. On my way there, I bumped into the pilot who asked me if I had a problem. My eyes swelling with tears (possibly ooze seeping out of my swollen brain) and my voice choked, I tried my best to contain myself as I explained that I had a very long trip ahead of me: “I’m flying to Cairo and the attendant wouldn’t allow me to take my carry-on with me!” The pilot tried to calmly explain that the flight is full and that if all the over-head compartments are full with luggage it’s only normal that I be asked to check-in my carry-on. “But I’m flying to Cairo!” I repeated, clearly struggling to keep the brain ooze in my eyes rather than rolling down my face.

So the pilot, the very nice and compassionate pilot, took me back to the plane and stepped inside while I waited outside. Clearly he did not want a case of a woman’s brain ooze staining his plane’s floors. After a few short minutes he came back and took my carry-on from me. He had made space for me in one of the over-head compartments. I could have hugged him. I literally felt that he had saved my life and if my swollen brain hadn’t had a shred of sanity left in it I probably would have thanked him for saving it.

I’m now on my second flight on my way to Cairo. I think I would have preferred riding a camel (the animal that comes to mind at the moment) all the way there rather than take Delta Airlines again.

I do not understand why they do not have enough room in their overhead compartments for all passengers. I have never seen this happen on other airlines. This is the second time I’ve been on a Delta flight where I’ve had to struggle to get space for my carry-on.

I also REALLY do not like their leather seats. They can get quite cold. As I first sat down, my seat was so cold I thought it was wet at first.

On internal flights inside the US, you actually have to buy the headsets if you want “in-flight entertainment”. BUY THE HEADSETS! Who buys crappy headsets for US $3? And where is the in-flight entertainment? Not on a screen on the back of the seat in front of you, where it very well should be. It’s on screens on the airplane walls and ceilings as was the case in the olden ages. The result is that I have a choice between stretching my neck upwards and to the right to watch the movie on the screen one meter almost exactly above my head or watching the upper half of the screen on the wall a few seats in front of me while the lower half of the screen is occupied by the over-puffed-up blonde hair of the woman in seat 17B. I also don’t get to choose between a wide array of movies, television series, games, and the likes. Who flies nowadays without having that sort of choice? What has gone wrong with the Americans??

Another thing that annoys me tremendously is the fact that I can’t check-in online because my reservations were made with Air France. Delta is the US partner of Air France and takes over its internal flights within the US. Air France, you gotta reconsider your partners, dudes!

As I prepare to leave you, I spread the airplane blanket over my legs to get me some much needed shut-eye. I’m pretty sure it’s made out of recycled (and previously used) medical gauze.

As you can see, I’m very annoyed, distressed, and outraged. No one should have to travel this way.

And when ON EARTH is someone going to find a REAL solution for PMS??

Disclaimer: the above post does not necessarily represent the views of this blog, Inner Workings of My Mind, and its owner, Nadia El-Awady.

Shopping in the US: Behold the Pee Funnel

As I mentioned in my previous post, I spent my day yesterday shopping – mainly for sports-related gear.

One of my proudest accomplishments of the day was coming across the pee funnel. On Kilimanjaro, because of the high altitude and also because of the diuretic pills we were taking as a prophylactic against altitude sickness, we were all peeing at a particularly high rate. My pee rate was higher than any other: once every half an hour. I seem to remember explaining in lurid detail my pee excursions on Mt Kilimanjaro. Or did I? I could, of course, explain this to you all once again just in case. But to make things short, going out at 2am in the morning at an altitude of 3800 meters to pee sucks. It really does. It is so desperately cold out there. Of course, on Kilimanjaro we were staying in huts in groups of three and four. So on my Kili trip, there was no avoiding leaving the hut to pee. I definitely have much lower inhibitions now since that trip. For goodness sake, I’d wait till it was after dark and pee right next to the hut, not caring if anyone suddenly walked out of the hut right in front of me. There was nothing that would make me walk all the way to those horrid toilets they had at Horombo camp. But those lower inhibitions have not yet reached the stage where I’d be comfortable being in a hut with two other women in it.  But I’ll probably be staying in a tent on my next mountain. And I’ll make sure to stay in that tent alone; just so’s I can use my new pee funnel. I’ll have to make sure I have a designated pee bottle first, of course. But that’s the easy part. Shucks. I have a pee funnel now!

That pee funnel would have come in handy while we were on safari. On safari on the Serengeti I did sleep in a tent – alone. I ventured out of my tent at night just once to pee. On that excursion, the eyes of a hyena reflected the light from my headlamp on my way to the toilet. He ran right in front of me and hid just behind the bathroom. I could see his shiny eyes every time I pointed my headlamp towards him. Freaky! During the subsequent nights I heard lions, elephants, hyenas, baboons and all sorts of scary animals playing around our tent at night. Right next to my tent in one camp was a huge pile of elephant dung. All night long I had nightmares of an elephant stomping into our camp and not noticing my tent situated right at the edge of the bush, bumping into it, and trampling over me. I never left my tent to pee at night again on that safari trip. That pee funnel certainly would have come in handy then.

I went grocery shopping yesterday evening as well. I’m staying at a hotel in San Diego, but breakfast isn’t included as part of the package. So I thought, rather than pay for expensive breakfasts, I’ll buy some breakfast foods and keep them in my hotel room.

Do you know how hard it is to find small food products in an American grocery store? What is wrong with these people? They are obsessed with super-large family sizes! I have a family of six and I don’t buy as much food as Americans seem to buy. While waiting to pay for my food, a small family of three was emptying their shopping cart in front of me. Two adults and a small baby. That doesn’t even count as three. But the stuff they had in that cart! My goodness! They couldn’t possibly finish all that. It just isn’t possible.

All I wanted was a small loaf of bread, a small peanut butter jar, a small jar of jam/jelly/preserves, a small box of a healthy cereal, some milk and some juice. I’m here for more than a week and that would get me through the week with some variety. I found none of the above in small sizes. None of them. Heck. Even the loaves of bread in this country are ginormous. And the stuff the Americans put in their food! There was a jar of apricot preserves that said it was sugar free. I read the ingredients and found it contained all sorts of artificial ingredients in addition to an artificial sugar. What the heck is wrong with an apricot preserve just being an apricot preserve?? Apricots are sweet to begin with! You’d think with all the health-related programs they have on American television that Americans would have gotten it by now. I am rather doubting they have.