Hope After Stroke

The lime-green one is for Bailey, a 16-year-old girl. The light-purple one is for Diane, a go-getter from Seattle. And the orange one is for her, Lenice Hogan, a 47-year-old from Omaha. It simply reads “Hope After Stroke.”

The bracelets that take up most of Hogan’s left forearm each carry a special meaning, and represent someone, or something, from the stroke community.

Hogan has suffered three strokes. Coincidentally, that’s also the number of marathons she’s run SINCE her third and biggest stroke robbed her of full function in her left foot.

The mother of three boys and inspirational speaker was on campus recently as part Triexerecise, a free monthly program sponsored by the Olson Center for Women’s Health to help individuals accomplish their exercise goals.

As a runner, I went for the inspiration. And to hear Hogan’s story. For a stroke survivor to run one marathon, let alone three, boggled my mind. I tried to train for a marathon once. This was before kids. When I was 100 percent healthy. And 23 years old.

Hogan was 26 when she had her first stroke and seven months pregnant when she had her second at 38. She compares the feeling to a light bulb that isn’t quite screwed into the socket.

After numerous doctor visits (at another hospital system) it was finally determined she had a hole in her heart. Surgery closed it up, and she thought her health issues were behind her. Two months later, her third stroke caused her to collapse and lose the use of her left leg.

It was Dr. Pierre Fayad, who Hogan calls her “angel in life,” at The Nebraska Medical Center’s Stroke Center who finally diagnosed her with a venous angioma that bled. There is no known cause and no known cure.

While Hogan walked out of the hospital of her own accord shortly after her third stroke, she spent the next two years in denial. Thirty-nine-year-olds shouldn’t have strokes. It wasn’t until she met a fellow stroke survivor that her life took a turn for the open road.

He, too, seemed too young to have suffered a stroke. He, too, was just trying to enjoy the sun on a Florida vacation. But the similarities ended there. Just as Lenice was relearning to run, he was struggling to walk. Her left foot was finally feeling good. His left side wouldn’t move and hadn’t in seven years.

She struck up a conversation with him. Hogan remembers eight words of it verbatim.

“You have no idea how lucky you are,” he said.

And that was it. After a few slow jogs on the beach in Florida, Hogan coincidentally received an e-mail from the National Stroke Association seeking runners for its first-ever New York City Marathon team. It seemed serendipitous. But everywhere Hogan turned, she hoped to find a roadblock. Sure, she’d run a mile on the beach, but 26.2 of them was unfathomable. After a green light from her physician and just as importantly, her mother, she called NSA, half-hoping the team was already full. No luck. She signed up.

She only had a few months to train, and was worried it wasn’t enough. But when Hogan stepped off the plane in New York, an overwhelming sense of peace came over her. She knew she could do it. And she did. She ran the whole thing and finished in just over five hours.

“Crossing the finish line was an amazing sense of accomplishment,” she said. “I wanted to sign up for the next one right then.”

She ran her second NYC marathon on behalf of NSA the next year and her third the year after that, bettering her time each year. She planned to run her fourth last fall, but Hurricane Sandy had other plans. So Hogan is signed up to run her fourth marathon in five years this Nov. 4.

***

I went to the TriExercise event thinking it would be a motivational speech. It was motivating, but not because Hogan told everyone, “you can do it.” She showed them. She doesn’t preach that marathons are for everyone. She’s the first to tell you how painful running can be, how long training takes and how scary it is for her to pound the pavement knowing she could have another stroke at any time.

But it doesn’t stop her. And if it doesn’t stop her, then you can draw your own conclusions about yourself.

“The least we can do is try to keep ourselves healthy,” Hogan said. “And it’s often our minds, not our bodies, that limit us the most. It’s about facing that fear and going for it.”

Watch a video about Lenice Hogan.

Lenice Hogan’s Marathon Training Tips

-You can do it in less, but six months is optimal training time.
-Practice your breathing. Hogan inhales for two steps, exhales for four.
-Purchase a GPS tracking device to keep track of mileage, etc.
-Subscribe to a running publication. Hogan recommends Runner’s World.
-Music/books on tape are your friends on long runs.
-Learn how to feed your body. Drink Gatorade to replenish electrolytes.
-If you can’t stand “goo” on long runs, Hogan recommends miniature chocolate Hershey bars and grapes for fuel.
-Listen to your body. Don’t ignore injuries and if you’re ill, take time to rest.
-Training for a marathon takes up a lot of time. Make sure your family is committed to supporting your training schedule.

If running is not your thing, UNMC recently kicked off a 10-week decathlon series with multiple choices for exercise activity. Register online by Feb. 25 to be eligible for a T-shirt.

To be notified about upcoming TriExercise events, email cmcdermott@unmc.edu.The educational talk series runs from noon to 1 p.m. in the Olson Center for Women’s Health classroom, on the fourth floor of the DOC. Speakers are listed below.

Feb. 21
Lincoln Murdoch
, USAT National Champion and endurance athlete

March 7
Vicki Creigh
, triathlete and endurance coach

April 11
Nancy Lennarson, triathlete and coach extraordinaire

May
Swimming tips and more! Speaker TBD.

Top 5 Memories

Yesterday was my 5-year anniversary at UNMC. I knew it was coming up, but when I received the congratulatory email, it sunk in. I’ve been here FIVE YEARS…doesn’t seem like that long at all.

To celebrate, I thought it might be fun to share five of my favorite UNMC memories with you all. So, come, take a walk down memory lane with me.

2008 – My first day.

My first day on the job was the same day as a press conference to announce the naming of the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging. It was exciting to see firsthand how much work (and stress) goes into events like this. I knew instantly I was in the right place for me. Tom O’Connor introduced me to the Chancellor Maurer after the press conference. It was only 11 o’clock in the morning and already it was the best first day of work I could’ve asked for.

Runner Up – My second day. This was the day Tom O’Connor took me with him on a media escort. I quickly learned two things: 1) This campus is massive. 2) Flats are your friends. High heels are not.

2009 – The day we launched the brand.

Some people think of this as “the day we changed the logo.” It was and is so much more than that. When I think back to the day we unveiled not only our new look, but who we are and what we’re all about, I remember all the people who gathered on the Swanson Hall lawn to take pride in UNMC. It was special.

Runner Up – The first time I attended Santa’s visit to the Munroe-Meyer Institute.

This annual event holds a special place in my heart. It’s so moving to see the children and adults with disabilities embrace the holiday spirit in such a pure way. The things they say will definitely make you laugh and sometimes always make me cry.

2010 – Push-Ups for Haiti

For those of you who were there, this is probably one of your all-time favorite UNMC memories, too. The event, organized by my friend Chuck Brown, didn’t involve any brainstorming sessions or weeks of planning. It was an idea that came from the heart and brought faculty, students, researchers, employees and everyone in between together in a time of tragedy. Not to mention it raised almost $9,000.

Runner Up – Coming back to work after my daughter was born.

It’s downright difficult to return to any job after maternity leave, but because I knew I was coming back to a job I love and co-workers who are like family, it was much easier. Plus, I needed somebody to show off all those baby pictures to.

2011 – My first Match Day

It was St. Patrick’s Day and everyone was dressed in green. I got to sit in the front row and record the reactions of fourth year med students as they found out where they’d do their residencies. I felt like the mother of 109 children.

Runner Up – Joining LiveGreen

Sustainability is one of my passions and I really value the fact that I get to use my skill set as a PR person to help us improve upon it as a campus.

2012 – My day with Dr. Luckey

My day spent following a family practice doctor around in David City was the most exhausting, yet exhilarating day in my career here. It provided me with a newfound respect for those in medicine as well as the inventor of tennis shoes.

Runner Up – Student Orientation

Seeing our first-year students so full of hope and promise left me remembering what it was like to be their age. I’m so glad all of them chose UNMC. The McKayla Maroney impressions contest made for some good laughs too.

 

That’s it from me. Now I want to know YOUR favorite UNMC memories. Send me an e-mail at nlindquist@unmc.edu with a short description and a photo if you have it. If I get enough submissions, I’ll do a follow-up blog post. Happy remembering!

We Are (UNMC) Family

Even though I’m a writer, I have no words for what happened in Newtown, Conn., last Friday. What I do know is that the first thing I thought of when I heard the news, probably like many of you, was my family. How much they mean to me. And how quickly all that can be taken away. I have a husband, a 2-year-old daughter and another baby on the way. But they are not my only family.

During the week, I spend just as much time at work as I do at home, not counting when I’m asleep of course. Five days a week for the past five years, I’ve been greeted by the same faces when I arrive at 8 a.m. each day. So it’s no surprise that my co-workers are like family members to me. Just as I’m sure yours are to you.

Sure, there might be a “Crazy Uncle Eddie” or a weird cousin, but at the end of the day they’re still family. And I wanted to take this opportunity to tell my second family how much they mean to me. I encourage anyone else reading this to do the same. Sort of a “happy holidays/pay it forward” project if you will. You could send a quick e-mail or please feel free to write something in the comments below and send them a link to this story.

Without further ado, I’ll get to it.

Bill: I’ve never had a boss who asked a question about my personal life and actually cared about the answer until I met Bill. Also, my daughter is in love with his son, Jack, so this “work family thing” could be an “actual family thing” if she has it her way. :)

Chuck: Not everyone gets to work with a comedian. I feel fortunate to have Chuck as a friend who makes me laugh out loud on a daily basis. And yes, Chuck, you kind of are the Crazy Uncle Eddie.

Dawn: Dawn is fairly new to the family, and I’m still getting to know her, but I think the best compliment I can give her it to tell her she’s “vital” to us.

Jake: It’s always great to have a reminder of your youth in the office. Jake’s ability to eat fast food at any time of the day and be up at odd hours keeps us all young.

Jessica: Jessica is someone we should all strive to be more like. I really respect and admire her work ethic, but am most moved by her kindness to others.

Jo: I love swapping kid stories with Jo. Our children were born just two months apart and she is truly an amazing mom.

Julie: This woman makes the world’s best brownies. I couldn’t help but break the news to my stepmom once. Honestly, I want to nominate them for Guinness.

Kacie: My running buddy. Thankfully, Kacie is able to talk when she runs, so our jogs on Field Club Trail are a lot less boring. She also knows how to spice up a photo. Here’s us at the Color Run last summer.

Kalani: Without him, I wouldn’t be able to keep this blog going. I envy his writing style and am just glad he didn’t apply for the opening I did five years ago!

Karen: If you need a good book recommendation, or just an article that will make you cry, Karen is your supplier. She’s also a fabulous listener who manages to look like this after a half-marathon.

Lisa M.G. My fellow pet-lover. When we thought we might have to put my dog down last year, Lisa was the one I turned to. Her support got me through that tough time.

Lisa S. Most holidays, I get a text message from Lisa telling me “Happy Thanksgiving” or what not. A lot of my friends send mass texts like this, but Lisa’s reminds me to give my daughter a hug for her, so I know she wrote it just to me.

Liz: She asked the toughest questions during my interview here five years ago, but Liz has the softest heart. Here’s the hat she knitted for my daughter that came with a matching blanket.

Mary: This is a woman who never stops smiling. Every day when I enter the office, she’s got a grin for me and everyone. All employees on campus should be so lucky.

Ryan: During the Spirit Week scavenger hunt, this pregnant lady on our team was getting really hungry, almost to the point of low blood sugar. Ryan zoomed into a building and up a flight of stairs to get her a candy bar. That girl was me. Thanks, Ryan. And yes, you’re the weird cousin. Kidding!

Stacie: Not only did Stacie orchestrate the picture that makes me crack up every time I look at it, she also brought me back the sweetest souvenir scarf from her trip to China.

Tom O’Connor: Tom would probably prefer I use this space to promote the Omaha Press Club, but I gotta tell him how much he’s taught me about PR and just being a good friend.  And thanks for always rooting for my Cyclones Tom O!

Tom Waples: Not only is Tom a professional designer (whom I credit with my last year’s Christmas letter) he also has a knack for guessing the size of a pregnant woman’s stomach with caution tape.

Vicky: Vicky’s done many things for me over the years here, but giving me a Prilosec before our office holiday party so I could eat the Cheesy Irish fries at Barrett’s is the most recent.

So that’s my work family. Aren’t they great? I couldn’t have asked for a better one if I hand-picked them myself. Hope you all have a very happy holiday. Please consider telling someone in your work family how much they mean to you!