A stress free Thanksgiving……

and other lies we tell ourselves.

I will officially have lived in the Inland Northwest nine years this coming January. Nine years after driving away from the only life I have ever known.

Since we have moved here we have never done the same thing twice for Thanksgiving. We have: gone to the casino, gone to a friends, had turducken, had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, served at a soup kitchen, and have dinned somewhere nice.

This year I asked my son what he wanted to do for Thanksgiving. It was a time to actually give thanks. I am cancer free, done with surgery and treatments. We should celebrate everything. He asked for a ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving. So that means turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and lots of gravy.

Since I was working the day before and the day after I really didn’t want to make a big mess in the kitchen. So sticking with our tradition of doing something different each year I decided to order one of those pre-cooked dinners from the grocery store. I ordered the traditional turkey dinner. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, rolls, and cranberry sauce. I ordered a small side of green been casserole too since my son likes it. The advertisement says it is fully cooked. How difficult can it be? I ordered and set our pick up time as 9AM. The deli worker said I will need to warm the turkey up and it would take about an hour and half. That should work out great. I am baking a sugar creme pie that I have never even heard of until two weeks ago. It takes about an hour and half. That will free the oven up for turkey and time to reheat all the pre-cooked foods.

When Keith came home with the food it was not what I expected at all. There was a turkey that you can tell had just barely been defrosted in time. It said on the directions that it needed to be in the oven for 3 to 3 and 1/2 hours, yikes! All the side dishes were ones that you could just buy out of the deli in the prepackaged food ‘ready-to-go’ section. I thought it was going to be made at the deli. The turkey took forever to warm through. I put the stuffing in the oven for the last 30 minutes to heat it up. The gravy was simmering on the stove top and the mashed potatoes were in the microwave. Three minutes is what the directions said. Mashed potatoes, gravy and rolls are my favorite part of the holiday dinner. All the carbs on one plate. I was looking forward to the potatoes.

When they came out of the microwave and I stirred them it was like water. WATER! Noooooo! In my eyes dinner is ruined. The turkey was taking forever, the potatoes runny. Ugh. I asked where we may go since dinner sucked. They laughed and said the turkey will be fine and we still have gravy and rolls. I popped the potatoes back in the microwave for five more minutes. They finally stiffened up and actually tasted great. Disaster averted.

I bought a frozen apple pie and a chocolate creme pie. It is a good thing too, the sugar creme pie texture is different. And the taste is kind of bland. maybe that is how it supposed to taste?

Anyway dinner was fine. We ate too much. There was very little clean up, and I hung out with my family. All wonderful things in my book.

A side note: The day before Thanksgiving my doctor emailed me my blood work results. My cholesterol is up too high. She said I need to lay off the carbs. Lay off carbs, ugh. Also I went to a Turkey Burn Zumba class on Saturday. It was 90 minutes long. NINETY!!! It felt great.

The picture is a Thanksgiving that happened four years ago. A friend was celebrating living in her first home and wanted to make dinner. This is also me 25 pounds ago. I think I really do need to lay off the carbs…

 

When someone else has to wipe your ass and other gross stuff…

When I started this blog it was intended as a place for me to write about my revenge plan. I wanted revenge on a friend in a certain race. I wanted revenge on my fluffy body. I wanted revenge on my mind for being too lazy to turn my wog into a run.

When the diagnosis came it was a safe space to talk about my cancer and what I was going through. None of my friends and family knew about the blog or followed it.

It is totally still a revenge on my mind and body blog. It is just a perspective shift.

Anyway, there is nothing more humbling than being treated for cancer. All the research in the world will not prepare you for what you are going to go through. You are fully aware that surgery will make you sore. You know chemotherapy will make you tired. The weekly doctor visits will make you poor. The reconstruction fills will make you ache. Expanders do not fit in a bra. You will always have scars.

What you may not be prepared for after a double mastectomy with reconstruction  is not being able to wipe yourself clean after going poop. Not being able to shower and worse yet not being able to lean forward over the sink to have your hair washed.

The hubby and I never really thought about the poop thing until a friend suggested I buy a spray bottle to ‘wash’ myself off with. Hubby freaked. “I don’t know if I could do that” “What am I going to do if I have to wipe your butt?”  Thankfully we never really had to deal with that. The pain meds and surgery make you so stopped up (ugh) that by the time I had a bowel movement I was able to take care of business myself.

Not being allowed to shower until the five drains came out was also humbling. My hubby took me to the local hair/beauty school so I could sit in a chair and lean back to have someone wash my hair for me.

I had a friend come over and she sponged bathed me. Not that the hubby wouldn’t do it he was just so exhausted that he never thought of it and I was so tired and drugged I couldn’t verbalize it. She took me in the bathroom and gave me a good scrubbing.

All of it is very humbling, somewhat embarrassing and very much a punch in the face to realize you are vulnerable and have to be trusting. Cancer is not only a jerk but it is also gross. Not many people talk about the gross ass wiping part. I for some reason felt I needed to talk about it. I think because I am realizing how deep my husbands love for me must be. How strong I connect with a few of my friends. And mostly how humble I have to become. I realize how lucky I am that the revenge I am taking on my cancer makes me a better person. Compassion, humility, vulnerability, and stronger at expressing love, emotions, and gross stuff.

Bonus gross: the picture for the ‘No Shave November’ makes me think about how I couldn’t shave my armpits for weeks! Couldn’t life my arms above shoulder height. Poor doctor had to look at the hairy pits for weeks!

 

 

 

Confessions of an out of shape fitness instructor.

 

I have a belly. I have a big belly. I have large and in charge thighs too.Even when I was down to 128 pounds I still had thighs. The thighs rule my closet. The thighs determine what pants/skirt/dress I can wear. The belly determines what shirt/pants I wear.

Funny thing is I am a licensed fitness instructor. Does this mean I am fit? NO. Should it? Probably. Does this mean I have figured out how to eat right? NO. Does it mean I have the tools and knowledge to eat correctly? YES. Do the thighs and belly stop me from moving forward? NO. Does that mean when I get on the scale I don’t cry when I see the number? NO. Does it mean that I know better than to get on the scale? YES.

Tonight I did my Cancercize with Renee B video and wore a crop top. A CROP TOP!! What the hell am I thinking? My belly kept popping out all over the place. I referred to it as my Big Bertha Belly.

Truth is my belly was starting to conform, behave actually. All because I was watching what I eat. What?!?! a fitness instructor admitting that eating right works better and faster than exercise. Sigh, yes it is true BUT you have to keep moving so your body keeps up with the weight loss and you don’t look like a baggy sack of stretchy skin. Besides, working out and moving helps your energy levels and mental stability. Food can’t always do that for you. Bleh it is all about balance. But I digress, we are talking about the belly and thighs….

I often wonder if I am actually doing more harm than good when I do these online workouts with my body shape. My energy levels and strength are lower than I am willing to admit. It is harder to workout and my ten minute Cancercize videos are all I get in on most days. Do I have the right to call myself a fitness instructor with how I look today?

I do you know. I studied and passed the national exams. I went to the training classes and put my time in. I AM a fitness instructor. I AM not perfect. I AM not in the best of shape. I AM trying. I AM a work in progress. I AM what most people are. I do have the right to teach classes and be online and have a Work it Out fitness group. I am real. I am honest. I have bulges. I have low energy. I struggle with a hard workout. I modify all the time. I have food struggles and issues. I have thighs.

Anyway here are some old pictures of me. Hope my friends don’t mind that I shared these. But you can see my thighs and belly in all of them.

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Time for a reboot….

I just spent the last several days in paradise. Paradise Montana to be exact. The hubby and I took advantage of the long weekend and went to the hot springs. We have been there several times before. There is no cell service unless you are in the bar/casino. There is wifi in the rooms so you can access online things like social media. There are pay phones, yes honest to goodness pay phones if you must make a call. Other than that there is nothing going on. It is just eat, drink and soak in the hot rotten egg smelling water. It was the best!

I think at this point of time in my life it was better than any other time I have been there. I just came off two weeks at work without my boss. It was a very difficult two weeks for me. I used to be better at covering for her. Not so much anymore.

I haven’t had any real vacation time since the diagnosis. It has all been used for recovery from the surgeries. Not really a vacation.

I needed this. I really needed this. The stressful two weeks at work caused major hot flashes. Made me drink every night. I know, I know ‘made me’ is  a strong statement. But truth is it was hard to fall asleep without having a drink.

Coming home today I realized things have got to change. Time for a reboot.

Today is the day that I: eat better, move more, make purposeful decisions, find another source of income, win the lottery, rest more, drink less, and develop a sense of fashion.

I know, I know such an inspiring list. I just can’t live like this anymore. I feel I have a purpose and that mundane things are a waste of what precious time I have left on this earth with my family and friends. A purpose to live larger. A purpose to live more peacefully. A purpose to pursue.

Or, it could totally just be the sulfur infused water residing in my ears.

14141796_10208994198804166_5793634426242132236_nPay phones at the resort. Do you think anyone even knows how to use them anymore?

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Just some of the beautiful views of the area. So beautiful, so peaceful. A great place to let your mind go numb and just enjoy all that is around you that is right.

 

Endurance

I know it is hard to tell from this picture but this is a hill. A hill I tell you! My neighborhood is either all uphill or all downhill depending on which direction you choose to walk first. In this particular spot the sidewalks are all jacked up from tree roots and such. I always pretend that it is  a ‘Cross Fit’ training sidewalk. Gives my body different movements as I walk along it.

Yesterday I went for a morning walk. I have been struggling with my mojo. I did my Cancercize video and was feeling strong so out the door I went. It is so therapeutic, plus I had just received my new iPod touch and I wanted to use it.

I downloaded the Runkeeper app on it so I could have my music and a running commentary on how far that I was going. It was a great walk

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I was telling my husband what a victorious walk I had! I walked over 3 miles in 45 minutes!!! The Runkeeper app told me so as I was going. Then eventually reality settled in. There is no way that this is accurate. My FitBit said I went about 1 and 1/2 miles.  My Runkeeper app is obviously not working right. Also, isn’t it weird that the picture of calories burned has a picture of a burger in it?

Anyway, while I was walking up this hill I kept telling myself to keep moving. I can do this. Endurance is an act, a purposeful task. It doesn’t come from thinking about something it comes from doing something. I tackled that hill with many thoughts of endurance. I was going to go up further than I have since the surgery. I was going to push myself no matter what. Halfway up the hill I saw two pairs of running shoes sitting neatly on the sidewalk next to each other. I thought to myself: these people were determined to endure this hill too, no matter what!

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I may not have gone 3 miles but I did get up and go. It gave me enough energy and motivation to try driving too. It had been two weeks since I had driven. I worked out, I drove, I visited friends, I picked from a garden. It was a day of me proving that I have endurance.

At the end of the day according to FitBit I did get a total of 3.5 miles in. So I did walk 3 miles yesterday just not in a row.

When you lose your mojo…..

Before I began chemotherapy I had to go through an education class. You are then overwhelmed with information. You learn about ports, names of medications and the side effects, oh the side effects. There were so many things discussed and presented in a slide show. At the end of it they send you home with a binder filled with everything you just heard.

One thing that was stated over and over again in the class by the NP and again reiterated by the Oncologist was how important exercise is. The best way to fight the fatigue is exercise. The best way to get the  chemo meds through your system to kill the cancer cells is exercise. The way to keep your oxygen levels up, yep you guessed it exercise.

As a group fitness instructor I already knew the health benefits of daily exercise. I taught classes three nights a week. Went on wog’s several times a week and was always on the move. Taking extra steps at work, dancing with friends, enjoying the ability to move daily in life.

Hearing that exercise is one of the best things to do during chemotherapy I had set my mind to it. I started the Cancercize program on YouTube and a Cancercize Facebook page. I promised the doctor, NP , my friends and myself that I would workout EVERY day through chemo. Yes everyday, even if it was nothing but a few stretches there would be a workout. I did not want to have the fatigue. I know how to exercise so I will give the theory my honest  test. I did. I worked out through the whole treatment and actually made 120 days straight of working out. I felt the effects of the chemo. More importantly I felt the effects of exercise. I honestly believe I would not have done so well if I had not worked out in some way everyday.

As the day of the oopherecotomy neared, I worked out longer and harder. Concentrating on my abs.  I knew they would be out of commison for some time after the surgery. I asked the surgeon what kind of exercise I could do after the surgery. She said very light weights and definately lots of walking. Great I can do that.

The trouble is I haven’t. I have tried to do a few Cancercize videos. I have three up since surgery. They are slow and easy but they are there. I have walked a few times too. The trouble is that is all I have done. I can’t seem to make it a consistent habit. I have lost my mojo. Conviction. Focus. Mindset. My enthusiasm.

I put my finger on it today. I have to get up and move! It is the only way to make me want to keep moving. It is time for me to get back on track. It is time for me to set my mind. I am the only one that can make me take care of me. That includes getting back up on the horse.

Today I walked, just a few blocks. I think it was enough to wake my head up again. When I got home I vaccumed, did a load of laundry, took out all the trash and recycables and dusted. DUSTED! I powered through the uncomfortablness. I moved slowly and used the handrails going up and down the stairs. The point is I moved. Intentionally with a purpose. To get better and heal.

I may have my mojo once again……

 

My evil plans….(insert maniacal laugh here)

I have plans tonight with my family. It is Star Wars night at the ballpark. My husband is a season ticket holder for the local Class A Short Season Northwest League. He is a lover of the sport and actually enjoys watching farm teams more than most Major League teams.He gets so excited if I show any interest in going with him. It makes him so happy. I like to make him happy. So tonight I am going to the game, my son is joining us too.

Since I am still in recovery mode from my latest surgery my husband has given me very strict rules today: Take lots of naps today!! No walks. No exertion of any kind.

Today I am feeling somewhat better and my apartment is a mess, a mess I tell you. So messy that when my friend Scott came over after we had lunch to see where we live he gave a very disapproving look! He is a bachelor and a better housekeeper than me. It made me a bit ashamed. I just kept making excuses. The sad truth is I hate cleaning house. I have always been bad at it. It has never been a priority to me and even less now that I realize how short life really is. Oh, that disapproving look! It got to me.

So today my evil plan is to clean, clean, clean the house! Also a  possible walk around the park with my neighbor. I just have to wait for the husband to leave for work. Also for the ibuprofen to kick in. BUT I WILL GET REVENGE AGAINST THE DUST!!!! ah ah ah!!

How sad is it that my evil revenge plans are to clean my own home.

I will get rest today. I want to be able to stay awake for a very long game tonight. The Star Wars part won’t start until the game is over and it is dark enough out. Unfortunately living in the Inland Northwest this time of year it really isn’t dark until around 10.

What revenge plans do you have?

Recovery

It has been an interesting few days.

Thursday was the oophorectomy. It was such a long day. Recovering from the anesthesia was not easy. I always struggle with it. Checked into the hospital at 11AM left about 6PM. That is a long time for surgeries that only took a total of an hour and half. I have not heard anything from anyone about the ovaries so I can only assume that they looked good and no more cancer. I accept that theory.

Friday was a day of rest and pacing up and down the hallway in the apartment. Watched movies with my son so the hubby could go to the ballgame.

Saturday. SATURDAY I got to met Paula from Never A Dull Bling and her hubby James from www.50in50marathonquest.com. This was the best day ever!  Okay so my belly is sore and swollen but I wasn’t going to let a chance to finally meet a fellow blogger/friend in person. We met up at a local Starbucks for a quick hug and some pictures. They were on their way to Missoula for another run. I was so thankful that Keith drove me down to meet them. Our next visit will have to be longer. I sure did enjoy it. 13639580_10208514853260827_1265141630_o13662621_10208514853980845_310345588_o

Paula is the one who sent me Bear. The softest, sweetest stuffed bear to accompany me to chemotherapy. She had never actually had a chance to meet Bear so it was fun for all of us. Our visit was brief but perfect. She is just as lovely in real life as she is in the cyber world. James too. What a great moment in my life.
The rest of Saturday I had to recuperate from the visit. It took a lot out of me. So I watched Star Wars in order. Almost made it through all of them in one day!
Sunday. This was another day of rest for me. I watched t.v. all day and slept off and on. Keith and I got out and walked around the block once. Walking feels good, much better than the standing up and sitting down.
Which brings me to Monday. Normally I would be up and going to work. Today I am sitting, writing and planning easy stuff to do. Like shower. I need to shower, and eat. I think Keith and I are going to go for two laps around the block tonight when he gets home from work. I don’t really know what to do with myself other than read, write, nap, watch t.v. Having limitations is hard. Knowing that they are just temporary helps.
So a recap: two more surgeries done, met a friend, went for a walk, watched Star Wars, napped. Yeah, recovery seems to be coming along just about right.

Just a few scattered thoughts..

Today I woke up with chaffing on my inner thighs! How can I get chaffing in my sleep?!?! All I can figure is the night sweats are so bad that the inner thighs are sticking together with all the slimy sweat that they are feeling chaffed but are really just chapped. Chapped thighs, from sweat, in my sleep. Can it get any sexier than that?

I know that this next surgery is going to directly affect my abs so in my Cancercize with Renee B videos I have been hitting them “hard”. I use that term loosely because I am still not at full workout capacity. It must be working because my abs are SORE!!! So sore that now I worry that I over did it and will make recovery very challenging.

Also, speaking of  Cancercize with Renee B on YouTube : https://youtu.be/3t8Agt5Cn0s As of today I will have worked out 120 days in a row!! IN A ROW!! This is huge in my eyes. Especially when you consider that I started after my double amputation and while going through chemotherapy. I know the workouts are not super intense and sometimes not very long. It doesn’t matter. I moved, on purpose, 120 days in a row. It is documented on YouTube. This makes me happy. No it is not why my thighs feel chaffed.

Surgery is tomorrow. I am not allowed to eat or drink after midnight tonight. That means no coffee in the morning. I get caffeine headaches if I don’t have a cup in the morning (not addicted) do you think if I drink coffee all day today it will hold me over? That is what I do with the water. I must have water first thing in the morning too or I feel lousy all day.

I find it odd that the hospital hasn’t called yet to do the pre check in. It is a different hospital this time but they are all part of the same network so maybe they just assume I read my letter from a few weeks ago and I just remember to not eat or drink. To not take ibuprofen one week before (I kind of forgot but I think it was a week ago I took it) To not shave the surgery area. I have no idea what I am to wear after the surgery since my stomach will have holes and be bloated. I do not have prescriptions yet for pain or infection. It is a bit unsettling. Maybe they will call today.

I think there is a possibility I do have chaffing after all. I tried to put jeans on the other day for work since it has ‘cooled’ off a bit over here. As soon as I put them on my body went into heat stroke mode….so put on the dress. That means thigh on thigh action when I walk at work. I need to find my Glide and apply it today.

I have decided. I am drinking ALL the coffee and all the water today. I am going to do a squat workout and later tonight some distressing stretching to calm my nerves. The chaffing will disappear since I will be not moving so much in the next few days. I am still going to see Paula. Chapped thighs and bloated gut and all.

Warned you, scattered thoughts. Thanks for hanging in and finishing this rambling with me. Have a great day!! I am all hopped up on coffee and nerves so you know mine will be entertaining to others at least. (:

Joy is not circumstantial…

About a month ago the Reddaway truck driver that used to have our route was covering for the new driver. He knew that I had been fighting cancer but hasn’t seen me since the surgery and public announcement. He simply said  ‘your smile is still here’ All I could think was ‘of course, joy is not circumstantial’

There is a difference between joy and happy. Happy is a temporary emotion generally driven by our circumstances and current surroundings. Joy, joy on the other hand is deeper than that. It is sincere, planted deep within and doesn’t fade. Joy is not about our circumstances it is about our choice to find and keep it, to nurture it, to not allow it to starve and disappear.

There are many things that make me happy that also feed my joy.

Working out with heavier weights. Having my cousin Craig do the dishes better than anyone, ever. Picking cherries with the littles. Texting friends first thing in the morning to start the day off right. Mysterious reprieve from the night sweats. Half a pound less on the scale. Hair growing back even if it is all gray. Hugs. Going all week without a head covering. Planning for the future. Hitting my Fitbit goals. Creating new memories. Easily forgetting the drama and stress at work. Discovering my own inner strength. My own inner love. My own inner peace. My own inner drive.

I know those are all circumstantial. Yet they are making a lasting deep impression and adding to my joy. I have always been a firm believer that love is a decision. I have argued this point often. Feelings fade. Decisions should last. I honestly believe that joy is also a decision. You make the choice to be joyful. You can’t hope that others make you happy. They won’t. Maybe for a short time but people never stay the same and can never be the source of joy or love.

I am preparing for more surgery soon. I am preparing to see Paula from @neveradullbling. I am preparing to pursue my joy. I am preparing to grow as a human with a bigger heart, more compassion, overflowing joy and kindness. It is work but it is worthy work.

What will you do to fill/fuel your joy? Run? Write?Volunteer? Give? Share?

Have a joyful day my friends. ❤