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……

 

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. ❤

Prophylactic laparoscopic bilateral salpingoophorectomy

Yeah, salpingoophorectotmy. It’s a word in the medical realm. Translation: the removal of both ovaries via laparoscopic surgery.  Here are my random wild thoughts going through my mind these last few days:

The surgeon looks Like Taylor Swift and younger than my 27 year old son. I am sure she is in her thirties though. I didn’t ask how many of these she has done. I felt it would be rude.

Had a dream and all I can remember was me asking the hospital staff to not tell my husband that I cried.

I need to get my cousins address’ so I can mail them the genetic address for my mutated gene so they can make the choice if they want to get tested or not.

Surgery is scheduled the day my husband flies out for his 30th reunion in AZ. I am confident I will be fine with my son and friends checking on me. I am worried that I will not be.

I plan on keeping my upbeat positive attitude and some type of Cancercize video going, being back at work in two weeks…but the worry is there. What if this time this ‘simple’ surgery does me in? What if I am nauseated the whole recovery process? How hard is it going to be to sit up then down then stand? I know I will have to walk to prevent blood clots, will I be able to?

Can I do this without the hubby around? He has been my rock through so much of this.

Insurance deductible starts over July 1st, so guess who will have to start all over with the bills? Yep, that is me.

The next day Paula from Never A Dull Bling will be in town and I wanted to hug her and get a picture of her and I with Bear. Will I be able too? Maybe if my son drives me downtown to the hotel for a quick meet and greet. Or maybe she can come up the hill to me?

I am thankful that coffee is not on my ‘do not eat or drink this anymore’ list. I find that I really want a glass of wine these last few days.

And while I am rambling lets add:

Why when I do a live feed on Facebook the video sound is off? How does one go about creating a webpage? How do I use the other video program on my Apple? How can I load and copy pictures to my blog? I wanted a picture of Taylor Swift with her hair the way the doctor wore hers, couldn’t get it to ‘copy and paste’ or download or any of that. Why does technology intimidate me so? Can I get a massage without having to lie down on my belly? Why do I feel so lazy when I don’t get a walk/wog in more than once a week? Isn’t it strange that the hair on the side of my head is growing back faster than the top and back? And on that note, why is the armpit hair growing back faster? How many cups of coffee are too many? Wait, don’t answer that last one.

So many things to think/worry about. I am like the dog in the pic. I could totally take those kittens if I wanted to even though they are a bit intimidating.

 

It started off as confidence….kind of

The day started with my usual two, okay three cups of coffee. Time wasted on social media. A catch up on the local news. Some meditation and contemplating. Recorded my daily workout video for Cancercize and packed lunches. Not a bad start to my day but nothing special.

Suddenly I was feeling brave and confident. I decided I was NOT going to wear a head covering today at work.

As I was getting ready for work, applying my makeup I looked good and hard in the mirror and thought, hmm I think I can do it.

I walk to the dining room to grab my lunch and purse and kiss goodbye. I tell him today is the day I am going to be brave. How do I look? This was my first dent in my confidence.

His response was ‘I look at you everyday, I am used to you, your coworkers are not’. It wasn’t meant cruelly, it just came out in boy speak. You know words and tone are not their  finer points. But it was enough to make me grab a hat as I walk out the door.

As I drove to work on the freeway still feeling somewhat confident, I noticed a car keeping perfect pace with me. I glanced over. He was staring. Staring intently until he was caught, so he sped away. This is my second dent in my confidence.

It messed with my emotions more than I anticipated. How can I expect co-workers and friends to accept this head if I can’t. I can’t because strangers can’t. I had a hard time shaking that thought process today.

BUT WAIT!!! This is a picture of me! I had a friend come over and snap pictures for the Canercize flyers and the website we are building. So I must have some confidence. I just don’t have ALL the confidence…..yet.

 

Cuckoo

The other night my son came over and we had a movie night. I was in the mood to watch ‘The Wedding Singer’ because at work the song ‘Love Stinks’ came on and we all started talking about the movie. It is such a fun movie.

There is a scene right after he is stood up at the altar when the nephews are teasing him about being cuckoo and needing to go to a mental institution. The voice of the child is still rattling around in my head. Cuckoo cuckoo.

Last night a friend messaged me and told me I was her hero. That with all that I am challenged with I still keep going. I am not a hero.

I am a girl. Who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Who had surgery and chemotherapy to put the cancer in its place and control it. Nothing more nothing less.

It did however get me to thinking. When you get the call that you have cancer you suddenly become a deer in headlights. It is overwhelming and scary all at once. You are bombarded with doctors and insurance and bills and advice and un-welcomed suggestions. Forming a plan of action. For me surgery, reconstruction, chemotherapy. It is put into motion and professionals are helping you meet that plan of action. You do what you need to do and trust those you need to trust. It is really not that hard because you do not know better.

What is hard is the mental battle. Your emotions are all over the place, often controlling you like a puppet. You wake up ready to face another day and suddenly your brain starts telling you don’t forget you have cancer. People die from cancer. Cancer is your fault. You must have done something really wrong in this world to get cancer. Only bad things happen to bad people. Cancer is eating your body right now. You will never feel normal again. Don’t forget to have a pity party. It flat-out can make you feel like you are cuckoo. Not for cocoa puffs, just cuckoo. It mentally slaps you, hard.

How can you be a hero when you are cuckoo? You can’t. You just get up and go. Go until you exhaust your thoughts. Go until you can finally prove to yourself you are not cuckoo. Go until someday the thoughts will no longer haunt you.

I am a girl. Slightly nuts before, definitely crazy now. Ready to embrace this new sense of ‘normal’ and accept that cuckoo is not really a bad thing. It can’t be. And besides, it was really funny and almost cute when the 5 year old said it in the movie…

 

Today is better….

I was so discouraged the other day. The day I wrote about ‘I can’t’

It was the first time that I really thought I can’t since that fateful call on Nov. 3rd.

My poor husband. I came home on Wednesday and he made the mistake of asking if I was okay. Okay!?!? NO! No I am not okay as I lay crying in a lump on the bed. What was your first clue? I was so tired. I just kept telling him I can’t do this. I can’t do this.

He picked me up and said yes you can you are just tired. He then told me that he will feed me Taco Bell and then I should go to bed. I think it helped. I know the Taco Bell did.

They told me that the last round of chemotherapy will hit me the hardest. Knowing it and living it are two different things. No matter how much I braced myself for it I was not mentally prepared. The fatigue was harder, the dry fingertips are unmanageable , the flat taste in my mouth and dried tongue are worse. Then to top it off my asthma started kicking my ass, er lung I should say. So not sleeping from night sweats, chemically induced fatigue and a cramping right lung truly left me discouraged. It left me at I can’t.

Today, today is so much better. Now my mind is wandering and wondering.

Thinking of things like the following:

Are chemically induced hot flashes worse than when it happens naturally? My vote is yes.

The hair on my head that is growing back is like a brillo pad. It is coarse, gray and sticks out in all directions. Soon it will poke straight through my hats and wigs. When I showered the other day I used conditioner on it hoping it will soften. I think it is a logical conclusion. It didn’t.

Vanilla seems to be the saving grace for my coffee with the tongue/taste bud issues. Is it wrong that I am drinking extra cups of my froo froo sweet vanilla coffee because it actually tastes good? Probably, but right now I am still too tired to worry about calories and dehydration. I will just drink more water inbetween cups, yeah that is totally logical.

Why isn’t being naked at work and in public acceptable? The moment I put clothes on I start sweating. Granted I don’t think people would appreciate all of ‘this’ (pointing to my body) naked.

Do all the hot flashes and night sweats smell, or is it just in my head? I have started spraying my clothes down with my signature scent just in case. It worked for the French.

I am ready for life after chemotherapy. I am searching for my new ‘normal’ I will find it. One cup of coffee and douse of perfume at a time.

 

 

 

 

 

A little personal…

As I am navigating this new journey that life has handed me, I realize how much uncharted waters there really are.

Changes in my body by surgery. Changes in my diet, exercise, daily living. Learning that not all change is good. Accepting that all change can be turned into good if I focus it. All the mental challenges of the diagnosis itself. Reminding myself that I have revenge goals that I damn well want to meet next year.

I tested a wog yesterday when I took out the trash. It was from the garbage can to the front door but I feel like I can do it. I tested lifting heavier weights in a private workout and feel like I can do it. I tested a new sleep combination/blanket and feel like maybe I can do it. Started taking my hair, skin and nails vitamins yesterday and feel confident I will have hair again. It is all these little things that are making me stronger. That I am choosing to make me stronger.

There are things I didn’t think about having to navigate through. Like yesterday. A new challenge confronted itself.

I was at a friends thirty-two hot to handle birthday party at a local Irish Pub. Excused myself to use the restroom. No big deal. I get to the public restroom and put down the thin potty seat protector (I used to never use these things but germs  concern me because of the chemo) I sit down on the toilet and do my business. Not really thinking it through. I was having a hot flash. When you have a ‘flash’ your whole body becomes a sweat pool. THE WHOLE BODY including the backs of your thighs! The part sitting on a thin piece of paper that is now officially stuck to you. Not all the paper, bits and pieces of the paper. So you catch yourself peeling chunks of ‘protective’ paper off your flesh and trying to get it all in the toilet without making another kind of mess.  Oh there are other messes. Trust me.

 

I found this today in FB I think this should be a law. 13260170_1173613056005518_4980833294891281579_n

And now I must go. The laptop is making me have a hot flash as I type! At least you now know what to expect if you are starting menopause and have to use a public restroom. The germs are probably less annoying than the paper sheet stuck to your thighs.

Living paycheck to paycheck….

Many years ago, when I was much younger, freshly married and a new mom we truly were living paycheck to paycheck. It was frustrating, exhausting, and worrisome at times. How were we going to make it?  There are bills to pay and needs to be met with a new young mouth to feed. Somehow we always found a way to make it to payday.

Life has a funny way of repeating itself. The circumstances are different yet the reasons are just as noble.

I catch myself watching my bank balance. My husband makes a decent living so he pays the majority of the bills. I am in charge of groceries, the phone bill and paying for my fitness lic. and continuing education expenses and miscellaneous things.This usually leaves me with a cushion in my bank account before each payday. Until recent events.

The cancer diagnosis was  a life changer for sure. A very expensive life changer. Bills coming from everywhere, even with insurance our out of pocket expenses ate up all our cushion. Now we have met all the out-of-pocket for now and there are no extra charges, just co-pays. Yet, I catch myself still living paycheck to paycheck.

This is why, I have started living. I no longer put off the things that I didn’t do because I couldn’t afford them. I just do it. I have loved ones that I want to send something to, so I do. I have pictures that I had developed from an October Zumba fundraiser that I have not framed. Not anymore. I want them framed and put up to enjoy. I want to send flowers to a friend, an extra card in the mail to a loved one, donate to a charity I believe in, try growing an herb garden, go out and laugh with friends. Get it?

Life is too short to wait and do the things someday. If you are not living now, then when? Enjoy what you have. Enjoy it now. Enjoy the things that make you happy. Give until you can’t give anymore. Give of yourself, give joy, give time, give money, give devotion, give peace, give encouragement. Just give and you will see that you are really living, paycheck to paycheck. Surprisingly though your life will feel fuller and richer than ever before.

Today is my last round of chemotherapy. Soon I will be living even more. Stay tuned.