Several years ago, my friend Elizabeth Burke and I rowed twice a week through the Seattle winter. We ventured out without fail as dawn was breaking - rowing two single shells or a double. We'd row from the Fremont Bridge to the Chittenden Locks and back, or maybe across Lake Union and on to Lake Washington. Sometimes we'd come back to our home at the Lake Washington Rowing Club and wipe the ice off our boats. But we always came back with an irrefutable sense of moral superiority! We'd done it again!

Rowing - particularly Rowing Through the Winter - provides a richness of metaphors...instructive in my life as a Family Physician and the Home Dialysis CarePartner for my profoundly ill husband, Steve Williams. Now that Steve is gone, rowing reminds me of consistency and focus - so critical during grieving. Rowing requires balance, as does my life.

Row with me this winter. Linda Gromko, MD

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Let Me Go When the Banter Stops; Rowing Through the Winter Swansong

Let Me Go When the Banter Stops: A Doctor's Fight for the Love of Her Life - my new book regarding my husband's struggle with end stage kidney failure - was released last month!

Honest, blunt, and written in real time, this book is admittedly a tear-jerker. We know the ending; Steve died. But the process was a roller coaster, and offers useful perspectives to anyone dealing with chronic illness, relationships, stepchildren, crises, the medical system in general - and medical education in specific.

Let Me Go When the Banter Stops is available on,
in paperback and on Kindle.

Rowing colleagues will resonate with the frequent references to rowing and Lake Washington Rowing Club - my hold onto the semblence of sanity I was able to maintain during Steve's illness.

Do you have a group that needs a speaker?

As a zealot for the prevention of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and most especially lifestyle-related kidney disease, I am looking for opportunities to speak. Invitations to speak for breakfast meetings, keynote addresses, lectures, and bookclub presentations are all welcomed. I am especially interested in speaking to medical/nursing personnel, and health care professionals in training. Let me know what you need.

So, this little blog, Rowing Through the Winter, will end; rowing and other new projects will continue. Thank you for your interest.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Greenlake Regata Gives "Rowing Through the Winter" New Meaning

The LWRC Senior Women had their boat all rigged and ready to go at the St. Patrick's Day Greenlake Regata Saturday, March 17. Our oars were at the dock. We were psyched and ready to go.

Granted, it was 36 degrees out. Rain and then SNOW(!) pelted our team...and all the other groups from clubs all over the northwest.

Kim with puppy Watson, Megan, Virginia, Carol, Bunny, Cindy, Linda, and Connie:
Soggy but smiling, the LWRC Senior Women look forward to another race day!

Suddenly, the whole regatta was cancelled - on account of wind gusts, white caps, and snow. After an eight was swamped the other morning on Lake Union, we all appreciate that "safety first" counts.

We are certainly hoping for better weather for our Learn to Row event next week with Queen Anne Medical Weight Loss!

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sculling on Steroids: The Octet Brings in the New Year!

When I showed up for the club-wide row on New Year's Day, Barb asked me, "Wanna row in the octet?"

OMG - Wanna row in the octet? Wanna keep breathing air? You bet!

The octet is an eight - but rigged like a sculling boat. Each rower rows with two oars. With eight people rowing and sixteen oars, you can really move!

The LWRC New Year's Day Octet heads from Lake Washington
towards the Montlake Bridge.

Other rowers on Lake Union paused to take in this visual oddity: even with a stroke rate in the low twenties, we were at "ramming speed!"

One of the rowers said that it was like sculling on steroids. We certainly had more power, though nobody wanted to test our urine.

Rowers Bev, Margaret, Nelson, John, Jim, Don, Linda and Barb pose at a break.
Photos by Coxswain/LWRC Captain Howard Lee
What a great day: calm water, no rain, no wind. Last year's New Year's Day Row had us crunching through ice in the water near the UW boathouse.

Back at the LWRC Boathouse, Bev led us in singing "Happy Birthday." It is, after all, our "rowing birthday" with each of us advancing a year on every January lst.

Happy New Year to all!
Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Monday, December 19, 2011

There's nothing like winter morning rowing...

When everyone's so busy, when life is so uncertain, it's good to have things you can count on. Like uneven blade depth or rushing the slide? Perhaps.

Early morning in the winter is a fabulous time to row - before the wind kicks up. We so often get a window of no rain, even in a rainy spell.

Here's a shot of an early December morning, taken with my Blackberry phone a few days ago.

Hard to beat.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Season in Review

2011 was a "significant" year, which is maybe akin to saying that somebody is medically "interesting."

I did a lot of rowing this year - mostly with the Senior Women's Masters Eight under the persistent and capable direction of Coach George Andreadis. George offered a great mix: very clear and specific in his direction, very funny, and never "personal" in his critique. Such is a great coach. Women like me who hadn't been athletic in their lives were able to get out and experience some competition - and we improved considerably. Watch us next year!

Then, there was my personal favorite interlude: my first three experiences with Sound Rowers!

Sound Rowers is a completely different experience. It's not necessarily "sound" from a mental health prospective, but you row in very different venues, i.e. open water, and for much greater distances. Any human propelled boat qualifies - and there were kayaks, power kayaks, pedal boats, out-riggers, racing shells, open water shells - even a stand-up padel board or two!

It's enormously relaxed - and they feed you afterwards!

Kim Biggs and I did our first two events together, winning county fair style blue ribbons at Budd Inlet and at the Mercer Island Sausage Pull.

Kim and I felt victorious to have actually finished.
Finished? We were hooked!
Photo by Michael Lampi
Elizabeth Burke and I did Lake Sammamish. What a comedy of errors - but what wonderful fun!

It took us a while to get the boat on Elizabeth's Outback. And I was certainly no help. I, of course, left the directions in my computer bag at the LWRC boathouse.

"We're only an hour late!" said Elizabeth, as we set out for our water (water-not-dock) launch.

The buoys were taken down by that time, but it was a gorgeous fall day. So, what's an hour late? We rowed the course anyway. Or actually, what we thought was the course. Instead of the six-mile triangle, we rowed a "bow tie" course of closer to nine miles.

It was life-changing!

And, as I've said before, nine miles makes a head race feel like a sprint.The other morning, our intrepid four: doubles of Catherine Crain and Elizabeth, Kim and Linda - went out to the locks in choppy conditions. No problem!

What else for the season?

Learn-to-Row classes, including two exclusive events for my medical practice's weight loss program, Queen Anne Medical Weight Loss, introduced folks to rowing in a safe and secure environment. Giving plenty of people an experience which stretched their own personal boundaries and made new activities even possible.

Coach Mike Rucier and the QA Medical Weight Loss Eight

But, all of these great and life-sustaining activities were overshadowed by the loss of my husband Steve Williams only seven months ago in April. We held Steve's memorial party at the boathouse, which is a perfect spot for such an event.

Elizabeth's prescription for a grieving widow?

 "Take a 2x, row, repeat."

Truly, that has been the best prescription of all. How wonderful to have a supportive bunch of active, like-minded adventurers to carry me through these rugged times.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fremont Four-Miler Reminds Me of my Mom's Critique

So the Lake Washington Rowing Club's Senior Master's Women took fouth in the Fremont Four-Miler on Saturday, October 9, 2011. We thought we rowed a good race - and we did. After all, a couple of the women had never rowed that distance before. We had our amazing young coxswain Ellie who could surely motivate a slug to sprint!

Here are some photos. Megan Kruse sent these nice shots of our team with the Seattle skyline in the background:

If you don't look too closely, this shot could go on a calendar!

This one, too. Days like these are why we row!
Here's Megan's portrait of the team:

From Left: Chris, Rosemary, Connie, Linda, Ellie, Cindy, Sally, Carol, Caroline
Now here's one of my personal favorites(!):

When I was a little girl - and a bit strong-willed - my mom used to say in frustration, "Everybody's out of step but Linda!" Well, here's the proof:


Photo by Pete Rudloff
  There I am in the seven seat (starboard stroke). Mom was right!

One of the best things about rowing is that you always get a do-over! See you at the Head of the Troll.

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD

Monday, September 26, 2011

Our First Sound Rower Experience!

Kim Biggs and I began rowing at Lake Washington Rowing Club at about the same time, roughly seven years ago. She and I have rowed in all sorts of events, but nothing - nothing - has come close to our eight mile row on Budd Inlet on Saturday, September 17.

Coach George Andreadis wished us luck, saying, "I like your spirit - blood and guts!"

Which is appropriate, as Kim is an honest-to-God CSI (Crime Scene Investigator) detective, and I'm a doctor.

Linda and Kim prepare for the adventure

A Sound Rowers event has been on my bucket list for a while. Kim, though, has the skills to actually secure a double to a truck! (Not in my skills set!)

We agreed we'd do it "for fun" - and "to finish," not to really race.

That was probably a reasonable goal. When the starting horn blew, Kim found herself sitting in bow holding her foot stretchers in her hands! She took care of that matter as quickly as possible - but we lost a few minutes.

Later in the race, we paused to take off some layers of clothing and to drink some water...more time.

But as we got into the event, we passed up the kayaks and closed in on the pack of singles and doubles. This wasn't so bad - we'd probably make it!

Somewhere along the line, I scraped my right knuckles with my overlapping left hand. It took only a few good gouges to start an impressive amount of bleeding - annointing the Hecate and my neon green "Dolly Parton blow-up" vest from Stormy Seas.

We soon learned that the kayaks were trying to take us on. And one was drafting behind us!

Pulling into the dock, roughly one hour and nineteen minutes after our launch, I told Kim about my scraped knuckles. The blood splatter prompted Kim to comment,

"It looks like a crime scene!" And, as a CSI detective, she would certainly know!

Because we were first in our class, i.e. women's doubles, we were awarded enormous blue ribbons - the fancy kind you might win for having the best Holstein cow at the county fair!

By the time we finished the race and then got that big blue ribbon, we were hooked. We'll be back next month for another Sound Rowers event. After all, eight miles can make Head of the Lake look like a sprint race!

Take care,
Linda Gromko, MD