Saturday, January 14, 2012
Life seems to have calmed down again, the radiation treatments are finally over, for real, my health is good, my friends and family members seem to have stopped dying, and throughout it all, I haven't engaged in any destructive, or even counter-productive behaviors. I more than maintained my weight during a time of significant stress. In fact, I lost ten pounds that I didn't really have to try to lose. I attended to my emotional well-being, continued to work out every day that (a) I could, and (b) I knew I should. I have increased my calorie burn per week from 4000 to 5500-6000 calories. I do some type of cardio for at least 60 minutes and strength training of some form six days a week. I eat smart, making certain that I get the necessary balance of carbs, fat, and protein. I drink lots and lots of water. I stay away from processed foods. My total cholesterol has dropped to the 140s (!!), my triglycerides are phenomenal, my resting heart rate is 53 bpm, blood pressure is around 100/55. Obviously, I am doing all of the things that I "should" be doing. And, I think my results have been fantastic. No complaints.
Here's the thing: I am not allowing myself to lose any more weight because I eat just more than the top of my calorie range per day. Part of this is due, I think, to making certain that I have physical reserves should my health head south again. And, I feel so good and my physiological indicators are so amazing, that I don't know if I SHOULD lose any more weight. My BMI indicates that I am at the top of normal weight for my height; that suggests that I could benefit from losing more weight. However, I don't know what my body fat percentage is, except in a crude way (BMI calculation, my own private pinch testing). That suggests that I should keep working toward a goal weight of 135-140. My fear keeps me where I am. I'm afraid I will become physically weak should I have to resume radiation or should I require chemo and weigh less than I do today.
I could throw caution to the wind and forge ahead, but I can't quite bring myself to do it. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the risks I already have in my life. I resigned for my job (effective at the end of the academic year), and come May, I will have no job. I currently have no prospects for a future job. I am getting ready to move away from ND and I am not positive about where I am going because I haven't yet found said job. Caution, caution, caution! That's what my soul is telling me.
Why the caution... Well, I went from healthy one minute to not healthy in the next. That is how it seemed at the end of September. Lumps. Biopsies, Surgeries. MRIs. Radiation. EEGs. Ultrasounds. Blood work. Frequent medical appointments. Nearly every day in a hospital. That was my life for more than three months. I have only very recently been "released" from 5-day-a-week radiation treatments. I thought that was supposed to end by the end of December, but two extra weeks got tacked on. I wasn't mentally or emotionally prepared for that. So, all of that signified more risk, and more caution, and the need for more prudence on my part. Good that I didn't fall apart.
I sometimes feel as though my emotional state is so fragile that I can't take one more thing. I don't feel like I am in a good cognitive place right now. I feel like I just get by in that regard. I am working through my issues. My Motivation and Emotion class is helping with some of that. In doing the same assignments that I give students in the class, I am working through some of my road blocks. And, by writing this here, I am also working through this deal.
There are various forces in my favor. First, I am an optimist through and through (Thanks, Dad!). Second, I am in a good place from a fitness standpoint. I have stamina, a solid fitness plan and routine to which I am faithful. Third, I have the resilience trait (Thanks again, Dad!). Fourth, I have a lot of gratitude. Fifth and sixth, I have a supportive father, supportive daughters, and supportive friends (Thanks everyone!). Seventh (and beyond) I am assertive, forward thinking, open-minded, and tenacious. I know who I am, and I know what I want from life. I keep my expectations in check. In short, I have the characteristics that will help me to continue to succeed. So, my plan is to keep working through my issues. I think it will all work out eventually, even if it doesn't all get worked out today.
Sunday, November 06, 2011
The last month has been rough, rough, rough, emotionally and psychologically. Nothing to do with food and fitness and weight loss. Everything to do with health and that is frightening.
It all started with a routine colonoscopy and a routine mammogram, procedures conducted on back to back days. The colonoscopy resulted in the removal of a benign polyp (Yay!) and a severe prolapse (Boo!). So, surgery was scheduled for October 21. A big deal to me, but not so much in the scheme of things. I came through with no problems.
The mammogram... The mammogram... Required follow-up screening, with special views of both breasts, followed by ultrasound for the right breast. ultrasound views showed 2 lumps. The radiologist recommended a watch-and-wait (for six months) approach. Yeah, no. So, I see my regular physician who refers me to a surgeon (in a different city, 95 miles away) for a second opinion. The surgeon says something like, "Breast cancer is slow growing. If it's breast cancer, it'll still be there in six months and we can decide to do something then." And he walked out the door. Nice.
I got angry, furious in fact. Left the clinic. Returned home. Called my physician's office and discovered she was on vacation. Ten days later, I meet with her again. She refers me to a local surgeon who seemed to have some good sense. Biopsy is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Nothing I've reported here has led to liberty or to a real sense of happiness. However, nothing here has completely derailed my efforts either. Even though I didn't engage in a lot of checking in with my SP friends, I lost 4 pounds, I think, and I didn't lose ground. My fitness efforts continued when I had medical clearance and I continued to track my calories and make good food choices. I didn't lose eight or ten pounds, as I would have liked... But, honestly? Big deal. I lost four. Good enough, considering everything.
These are some of the things I've come to better understand over the past 38 days as I've waited to hear and to know about life- and liberty-related pursuits.
First, I handled stress in productive ways, without the self-sabotage, self-punishment, and pity parties that I've thrown for myself in the past, when circumstances weren't nearly as challenging. I can nurture myself, reduce my own anxiety, and remain positive when things aren't going the way I want them to.
When we're successful at weight loss and fitness, I suspect we all eventually say or think this second thing: Slow progress is much, much better than no progress. When life throws the curve balls, you just keep going.
Third, I really like to work out and I miss it when I cannot. Notice the word, cannot. There truly were post-surgery times when I was not allowed to work out. I actually was able to nurture myself through those times, without deciding that not being able to work out means that I should not be mindful about my choices.
Fourth, my body hurts when I don't do any strength training. It's rough getting old!
Fifth, stewing in silence is a bad idea. I'm an introvert and, thus, much less likely to reach out when I need support, encouragement, or a sympathetic ear. the tape in my head tells me that I'm being overly-dramatic, that I need to put my head down and soldier on, and that I'm displaying weakness by letting any of this get to me. Nevertheless, I reached out to the friends I have in my physical environment. I made a half-hearted attempt to reach out to my SP friends. I beat myself up over that some, but I am giving myself plenty of credit for not soldiering on alone. I'm trying.
Sixth, you can have a birthday, throw yourself a party, and indulge yourself a little even when circumstances don't exactly merit a celebration! I had fun and I had my friends with me. And, for a while, I had no concerns. Ahhhhhhhh! Felt so good!
Seventh, health scares help you re-prioritize what is important. Yes, indeed.
Whatever happens next, I'll handle it. I believe it'll be good news. I hope it will be. If not, I'll deal with it; I'll tackle whatever comes my way.
Friday, September 30, 2011
... my mammogram appointment today.
I decided to walk because the weather was perfect for a brisk walk. I left extra early so that I could get in at least 30 minutes of walking on the way to the clinic. I arrived about 8 minutes early and thought I was golden. Upon my check-in attempt I was told that the clinic no longer does mammograms... What's this you say?
"Nope, sorry. All mammograms are now done at the hospital."
And, I'd walked to the clinic. So...
I grabbed the cell and phoned the hospital. Asked if I should even bother with the run home to get my vehicle so I could drive the five miles to the hospital, or if I should reschedule...
"No problem, Mary. Come on out."
So, I ran, RAN, all the way home. And, sweaty mess that I was, jumped in my rig and drove to the hospital, leaving my driver's license and purse at home. Fortunately, though, my insurance card and my bank card were in my fanny pack and I did have those with me. I arrived 20 minutes late. Apologized all over myself a couple hundred times, went through the registration process and all the rest. Twenty minutes later, I was on my way out the door.
I got in some good cardio, what with my terror-stricken response to being late (which I really hate!) and all the walking and RUNNING (which I am also not too fond of).
So, how did it happen that I didn't know where to go for my mammo? Well, there's a brand-spanking-new hospital in town. My clinic was recently merged with Essentia Health, and another clinic was recently bought out by Sanford Health. With all the acquisitions and the new hospital, apparently there has been a conservation of resources, perhaps to save money? To reduce costs to patients? Yeah. THAT'S the ticket! Lol!
Whatever the case, I now know where to go for a mammogram now. Too bad I won't be living here when I need to get my next one!
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tomorrow morning, I am having an out-patient surgical procedure. Getting ready for it is the pits.
On the menu today? Nothing except clear liquids. It's the living through this part of the journey to tomorrow that I don't like. Living through discomfort, unpleasantness, things that are different from what I want.
As I sit here thinking about this, I realize that I am lucky enough to be able to eat well every other day. Others don't have that luxury. I am lucky enough to be able to have medical procedures conducted in a sanitary environment, with the use of pain killers, sedatives, and anesthesia. Others don't. I am lucky enough to have medical insurance that others don't have. I am lucky enough to have people who care about me and my safety. Not everyone has that sort of support system.
I can complain about my clear liquid diet today, but instead, I'll consider myself lucky to have clear liquids to choose from. I'll consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to reflect on what this kind of hunger feels like. I'll count myself lucky that I am aware that this is temporary and lucky that I will never have to live, day after day after day, wondering when I'll have my next meal.
Yep. I am awfully lucky for my clear liquids, my current circumstances, and plenty of food for thought.
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