Friday, February 23, 2018

What I'm Reading This Week #8

Wow.  Two months of the new year under our belts guys.  How crazy is that?!

Let's rocket into...

If You Have This Surprising Habit, You Could Increase Your Risk of Breast Cancer  (Go for the natural stuff)

40 Tips for Men Who Want To Lose Weight After 40  (Good things to keep in mind)

Healthy Weight, Healthy Mind: Pay Attention to Lose Weight  (It can easily sneak up on you)

10 Tiny Changes That'll Help You Drop Serious Pounds  (Great places to start)

100 Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself  (Save yourself some money, honey)

I Took Turmeric Shots Every Day For 1 Week, and Here's How My Body Reacted  (Why am I intrigued?)

12 Oatmeal Alternatives That Are Just As Hearty  (Hmm, I'll have to give a few of these a try just for some variety.)

Alzheimer's Disease Is Completely Reversed by Removing Just One Enzyme in New Study  (How amazing would this be?)

Is Winning the HGTV Dream Home Actually a Nightmare?  (I've often wondered this)

Batch cooking heaven  (Nothing like having what you need on hand when you need it for only 2 minutes of babysitting!)

Since I was knocked off my arse Wednesday night with a revenge of the legs scenario, I'm taking off all forms of exercise and stretching until Sunday.  I'm sure we'll probably go out for lunch or something tomorrow but not a ton of stuff on the agenda for the weekend.  Ugh, I just remembered it's grocery refuel weekend.  Sigh.

What are you up to this weekend?

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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Taking a breath

As you know if you've been reading, it has been a week, y'all.

I had a good amount of work I could've dove headfirst into in the morning but I just wasn't feeling it.  I put the TV on mute and just sat listening to the rain and the sound of the cars driving by in it.  It was relaxing and nice not the have the static of life swirling in my head.  I think we should all do that more, just take 15 minutes to listen to nothing, not have our face buried in a screen and just reconnect with ourselves.  Taking time to take a breath without the weight of our worlds sitting on our shoulders.  I heard a few bird chirps and knew I wouldn't have heard them otherwise if I had Hallmark's Home and Family blaring in the background as I hunched over my laptop.  It was nice to just focus on having my feet up on the couch in recovery mode, getting my water in and not thinking about anything other than how thankful I am to choose to heal my body rather than being forced into fighting for my life had things turned out different Tuesday.

A week ago today is when I was sitting in bed with 90 minutes sleep praying for meds to allow me to walk from the most horrific pain I'd felt in my life.  Truly, I've never been that scared before...until several days later with the mammogram call back.  You sandwich a not so great reunion with someone from my past in there and it was a lot for my brain and body to process.  When I woke up yesterday morning, I was just so grateful.  My legs were sore from the two miles we walked around the lake and I used my microcirculation pad on the top of my quad which was particularly sore and it felt better in about 10 minutes.  We've been good about stretching every day the past few days with my sessions going anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on if it was after a walk or a whole workout.  The muscles are still very tender from the trauma they endured as well as the efforts to stretch things out since they're not used to that.

I've made sure that pigeon pose stretches are a go to as it really seems to target the area that was most affected.  Hip flexor stretches are also very important since that's where the pain also stemmed from.  Basically, every leg muscle you can think of needs attention.  My quads where it connects by the groin were greatly affected and sore so I make sure I do a bending hip flexor stretch on my balance pad and then straighten the forward bent knee to get a good hamstring stretch which got bunged up by default from everything else being so out of whack.  The soleus and gastrocnemius muscles in the calves are also tied in and very sore from the contraction and being pulled upward as well.  The only positive to come out of that is it has taken the focus off of my ankle but my ankle always feels better when I don't put weight on it.   It has been the hardest thing to basically be told "no exercise for you!" for a whole week and I need to listen to what my body is telling me which is those muscles are not ready for prime time yet even if I'm technically cleared today.  I need to respect the healing process since I've neglected it for so long in the past in an attempt to get my body to work on my timeline. I fear my body is still going through a very dicey game of push and pull right now that left me feeling back to square one last night.

I thought it was timely that as I was taking this "me time" that this article from about How to Stay Fit While Injured or Sick showed up in my feed.  It all made sense and just reinforced how important taking a breath is to heal not just your body but your mindset.  I am trying to find the good in this forced hiatus.

Do you stop to take a breath when your body/mind need it or go full speed until you hit the proverbial wall?

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Hamster Wheel of Fear

I wanted to thank those who sent their good vibes, prayers, and messages yesterday.  I am always so thankful to know you're on my side.  I'm starting this an hour before we're going to leave and need to keep my mind occupied so bear with me.

It was a beautiful day outside

I couldn't help wondering if yesterday was going be the "before."  I remember at my last call back, to waste time we went to this vintage toy store and took pics in a photo booth.  As I look over at it on the armoire now, I'm reminded of the thought I had then looking at our smiling faces..."I wonder if this is the last picture before my life changes."

I was surprised how much less stressed I was as the night went on from two years ago when I got my first call back.  Then you start thinking "wait, should I be more stressed?  Am I going to get a karma switch flipped for not worrying enough because God thinks I'm cocky and need to be knocked down a peg?"  Ahh, there's the anxiety I know and loathe.  I did do some research because I'm not one to go in blind to these things.  So I start putting in things like "mammogram asymmetry result" and stuff like that to see what pops up.  Of course it says it's relatively common and if it does find a reason for the asymmetry then it's likely a hormonal issue where your fat is moving around, a skin fold that wasn't smoothed out (I ruled that out because that woman had me holding arm fat and did everything short of ironing my boob) or possibly a fluid-filled benign cyst.  Or you know, it could be cancer, and some studies have shown that women with X amount of asymmetry may have a higher breast cancer risk.  Oh well, thanks.  One piece of info I absorbed was to ask for the BIRAD score which you want 0-2 for completely clear, and anything above that starts to go into small and medium suspicion of malignancy, and if you're at like 5-6, you might want to sit.  I kept telling myself not to forget to ask because they can still give you a clean bill of health but you could be a 1 or 2, and at that point, I'd have questions.

I did a pretty good job keeping my mind immersed in work during the morning hours.  I ate breakfast as soon as I got up so I could eat lunch sooner since I tend to eat later on a normal day.  Around noon, I decided I should go ahead and get my shower.  I made sure to soap up the pits nice and frothy since you can't wear deodorant.  As I was showering, the thought slid in "will this be the last "normal" shower you take?"  As I looked down at the girls, I bent over trying to see how noticeable this asymmetry was.  I felt like I might be able to see where one part was slightly fuller than the other.  I felt around to see if I could feel any kind of cyst or mass and didn't feel anything different to me.
"You behave missy," I said.

As I dried off and went into the bedroom, I needed to pick out an outfit I wouldn't mind burning if I got bad news.  Seriously, I always remember what I was wearing when something bad happened, and I didn't want to burn a new favorite shirt or jeans, so I dug deep in the closet to the section of "still fits but you forgot you had it" and pulled out a black loose fitting shirt.  I'd planned on wearing my yoga pants in case the shine from a jeans button would somehow reflect off a wall and into the machine, but they were black too and if I walked in like a was already in mourning, was I willing a bad outcome?  I grabbed a pair of jeans that are so so, but I wouldn't be sad if I had to throw them in a burn barrel.  I went down and ironed them and decided to make lunch.  I started getting really weak and shaky.  I didn't have "pit hunger" which can make me feel that way on a normal day, so I knew nerves were really setting in.  I just did some deep breathing as I made lunch and unloaded the dishwasher.  As I carried my plate out to the table, my bowl of fruit was shaking on the plate.  "Calm down, asshat!"  It's like I felt calm inside, but my body was telling me otherwise which is a bizarre feeling.  I decided since the tech was fidgeting with my hair so much the first time, I was just going to chuck it back into a ponytail.  The wind was blowing really hard anyway.  Was that an omen?  Is a metaphor for a storm coming into my life?  Stop it!!  I had to keep my body relaxed because I was still recovering from the leg stuff and I could feel my body tensing in the spots I needed to improve.  That brings us to now.  The rest is written afterward.

I went back after they got some insurance info adjusted and got into my snazzy shawl.  The tech was the same woman who took the pics the other day, and while I felt she was super thorough the first time, a part of me was like "um yeah, she wasn't a good photographer the first time, can we bring in  the second shooter please?"  So they want it squished from every angle.  The first is the side squash, then the re-shoots of the ones we did before but with 32 lbs of pressure which you can imagine felt lovely.  She had me sit in between because of the type of settings they wanted.  I had to look over at the image on the screen.  It looked fine to me, but I'm no doctor.  Then I did see a small spot and started to freak out.  "Is that something?  Is it the start?  They would've seen that before wouldn't they?  That's not an asymmetry problem.  Stop looking over there."  The final one she smooshed parts I didn't know could fit under there and it didn't hurt per se, but it wasn't kickin' back by the campfire either.   I told her I was hoping it was a case of "vacation boobs" since I was back from recent food tour of the Windy City and hadn't yet gotten the weight off...she didn't get my humor.  Have you not heard of defense mechanisms woman??  LAUGH wench!  "Why isn't she laughing?  Is it because she lacks a humor gene or she sees something and is thinking "sorry sister, it's not vacation boobs for you.""  She drapes me back up and takes me to the radiologist waiting room.  I've been here before.  This is where the Mr and I waited for the news on my baseline, and they had me get dressed that time.  Why isn't she having me get dressed?  Because you need an ultrasound.  They saw something, that's why she retook that last one, you're screwed.

As I looked around the cold, impersonal waiting area, my checklist began to tick off.  "Okay, you need to get the Mr the schedule of all of the bills and show him how to pay them.  Some come in automatically, but others don't.  Film all of the rest of his favorite recipes so he'll have your voice and instructions on how to make them when you're gone.  You should probably think about cleaning out the entire house, so he doesn't have that much to go through while you're still able.  Stop it!  You're dusting up The Secret kind of sh*t and negativity is going to come back to you if you keep this up!  Annnd you're talking to yourself.  Yep.  Talking to yourself because it's taking so long for them to review things."  I heard a noise and footsteps.  "Life about to change in 3...2..." 

"Follow me please," my tech said.  "Yep, here it comes, you're going in for the ultrasound."  She led me back to the screening room and closed the door with a paper in her hand.  It was the x-ray image:

"It was vacation boobs*!"

Okay, she didn't say that, and while I assume, that's what my actual boob looks like inside right now. This is what she really said when she shut the door. 

"Good news" she smiled.   I burst into tears, and she said this is always the good part of the job and hugged me.  I said, "this SUCKS!"  She said she knows and then gave a long-winded explanation of why they had to do it, and I told her I forgot to tell her that at the last callback they said to let the tech know to smash those puppies.  So you can bet I'm considering a tattoo in between them that says "mammogram tech: Smash these effers like pancakes or until they pop!"  She said she didn't want to bring the Mr back for that news so she'd let me tell him.  Did I ask for the BIRAD score?  No.  Totally forgot.  *rolling eyes*  I told him all was good and he was relieved.  He said he was worried but didn't want to let on.  I had to laugh a little because ever since the call Monday morning, any time he'd look at me it was always with this pained look on his face like "you poor thing."

We left and decided to go to a nearby park to talk and walk around the lake for our exercise.  I couldn't help but notice how turbulent the waters looked on our way back.

I wondered what my thoughts would've been had the outcome been different.  Would we have stopped there or gone home to start research and making plans?  Would the water have looked as blue to me with eyes that had just seen an uncertain future?  Would I look at them as a storm that's coming instead of potential one weathered?  I'm grateful I didn't have to answer those questions but know others are not that lucky.  For all of the stress and racing thoughts and honestly, just plain being pissed that it's happening again, I'll take cautious and catching something early than ignoring what needs to be done and finding it too late. 

Thanks to my rocks both IRL and here.  Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.  You have no idea what it means that you all pull for me in times of trouble just as I hope you know, I pull for you as well.  Thank you for letting me rant about the hamster wheel of fear that goes off in my brain when that phone rings.

It's a scary thing to have that doubt, but I know it's nothing compared to what those who get the news that they have a new challenge to face for the fight of their lives.  If you or someone you know is newly diagnosed, and you're looking for a place to start your/their fight, consider these resources for some of the most up to date information:
Susan G. Komen Foundation

*- in no way am I using the x-ray image to make light of the potential seriousness of the situation.  I am a big believer in using humor to relieve anxiety and fear.  I hope that anyone who may be dealing with cancer takes it in the spirit in which it was intended.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Here we go again

Welp, I got a callback on the mammogram.

Mother effer.

I've got no mental capacity to come up with something for you today so please forgive me for that.

I will refer you to this post from two years ago to refresh what is going through my mind but replace the dense spot in the right breast to an "asymmetry" problem on the left.   I still have what I call "vacation boobs" which I usually have for 2-3 week upon return before they begin their slow deflation.  I'm praying because I'm about 13 lbs higher than my last mammogram (ouch) between the holidays and a recent Chicago oinkfest, that I'm packing no more in my left boob than some leftover Gino's East deep dish and a Bent Fork Bakery ginger molasses cookie.

Have a great Tuesday!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Learning A Lesson the Hard Way So You Don't Have To

I read articles all the time talking about the importance of stretching and resting your body.  It all sounds fine and good but at the end of the workout, the amount of time either of us dedicates to stretching is negligible compared to what we just put our body through.

When we were in on our trip, I walked a total of almost 15 miles between Woodstock and Chicago which was good for me considering my ankle/foot recovery.  I had my roller with me but did I use it?  No.  I was more focused on using the TENS unit and the microcirculation pad.  Then when we came back, I had to ease back into exercise but still did decent strength sessions and we walked a bit to try to keep any endurance I may have gained from the trip up.  After weighing in, I knew we had to get on it and really buckle down to see results.  I had jumped back into PT hard since I basically didn't do it on the trip.  Part of the clamshell exercises I do with my heavy band requires my inner thighs to do a good amount of the work.  You throw on top of that two other PT exercises that require the inner thighs more than other exercises and things are going to get bunged up in there.  If that wasn't bad enough, my new incentive to get vacation weight off, came with a dive in mentality that has screwed me before.  My exercise schedule looked like this:

Sunday:  Free Weights with emphasis on upper body with a few lower body things thrown in
Monday:  Powerstrike (lots of kicking and made sure to really try to kick high)
Tuesday:  Turbo Fire Tone (uses bands and did some wicked hard lower body stuff)
Wednesday: Turbo Fire 45 EZ which also has a lot of kicking & I kicked high

I didn't stretch properly at all after any of these sessions and throw on still recovering from Chicago and my body let me know in no uncertain terms, it'd had enough.

Late on Valentine's Day, I had a horrible outer thigh cramp.  It thankfully passed rather quickly and I should've taken that as a sign to just hop on the floor and stretch...I didn't.  At midnight, after a few inner thigh twitches, I grabbed my Graston tool to dig stuff out.  Just the act of bending my knee up onto the couch sent off an inner thigh cramp that was the worst pain I'd ever felt.  I've been attacked by a dog, had gallbladder attacks and surgeries and none of them delivered the kind of pain I felt in that moment.  I was SCREAMING at the top of my lungs as nothing would make it stop.  The Mr. was trying to rub the area, even trying to punch it into submission since that gets rid of his.  Nothing was making it stop.  My mouth went dry, I started sweating profusely, my hands went numb, my breathing was shallow and I had to stand up to get to the back door to get cold air or I was going to go down for sure.  The Mr coached me to take long deep breaths after a while because he was scared at the sound of my breathing.  After 20 minutes of consistent pain, we decided to head upstairs and just get me into bed.  At the top of the stairs, the other inner thigh set off with just as much ferocity.  Cue the sweating, dry mouth, feeling of passing out, etc.  I spent 2 hours at the top of the stairs attempting to roll out my inner thigh without setting off another attack while the Mr looked up info on Dr. Google

We tried everything from drinking pickle juice for electrolytes, drinking even more water than I was already drinking, eating a banana for potassium, taking an ibuprofen, digging into my legs with my Back Buddy (affiliate link) and foam rolling and a bath was out of the question because just the act of raising my leg would send me into another episode.  I sat with a heating pad on the areas and the muscles kept trying to fire again so I was up until 5:45am because everytime my body would relax to almost fall asleep, my muscles anywhere in my body began to twitch and kick a limb into the air.  I got about 90 minutes sleep and the next day I couldn't move so I did a session with Doctor on Demand as my last resort to see if they could get me muscle relaxers.  She said my body didn't appreciate the overload and I, unfortunately, paid a painful lesson and that even doing something good for yourself can have side effects if you don't properly do aftercare.  She prescribed low dose muscle relaxers, Prednisone (7-day course) to calm down the inflammation and 800mg Ibuprofen as needed.  I was told no weights for a week and nothing but stretching/yoga and walking for exercise.  She said that other symptoms I was experiencing with the sweating, dry mouth, numbness, etc were because my blood pressure was probably at stroke levels and often times, it's not the event that kills someone but the stroke they can have as their body reacts to the pain.  That scared the sh*t out of me.  The fruit of my digging efforts really showed themselves the next afternoon and my thighs looked like a cheetah.  The Mr would cringe when he saw them and said I looked like I'd been beaten.  Accurate.

The Mr really took care of me and made all of my meals that day while I stayed upstairs all day Thursday.  It felt like things could fire if I moved wrong so even stretching was not in the cards that day.  I wish I could say the muscle relaxers made things feel better but they didn't, they just made me sleepy.  The Prednisone seemed to reduce the inflammation which was nice and I'd take one ibuprofen before bed just to hopefully keep anything at bay while I attempted to sleep that first night.  I got decent sleep but the muscles were still sore from all they'd been through.  I was served breakfast in bed so I could get my meds in for the morning and I got ready for my mammogram.  Thankfully, that went smooth and I didn't have to be in any positions that put a strain on my legs.  Then I wanted to hold a puppy after all I'd been through and we got a long haired Daschund out.  She was cute but way too barky and rambunctious for us so no chance of being tempted by her.  It was nice to get a shot of puppy breath to help heal me.  When I went home, I did as much standing stretches as I could and spent the day resting.  It was really hard but I had to do it.

This weekend was obviously the lowest of low key.  It took me about five hours to get the strength to be able to go to a thing my mom wanted me to go to.  I really only just went so the Mr could get his belated Christmas gifts.  Don't ask.  We ended up being there for two hours which about took me out so back home we went.  Sunday, my legs were less twitchy but still not great.  We sat around and had a good talk, I did a little work and then I decided I wanted to walk for a workout which the doctor said I could do.  We did about a mile and a half before we both had to pee like racehorses and it was probably better for my legs anyway.  We immediately went downstairs and I did a one-hour stretch session.  I determined what stretches would be most beneficial to me in the immediate future and ones that I can sneak in during the day to help as well.  (I'll be using my 30-minute water alarm as a reminder to also stand up and stretch because that ain't helpin')  I used my microcirculation pad (affiliate link) on any area that began to spasm and within 10 minutes, it would calm down.  I made dinner and then watched Blade Runner 2049 (affiliate link) to thank the Mr for all he did to help me in this past week.

So the take away in all of this is if you do any kind of exercise, you need to respect your bodies need to recover properly which includes more than just a few 30-second stretches.  Yes, it sucks to have to add maybe another 15 minutes onto things but even sitting on the floor stretching in front of your favorite show will make it seem less daunting and your body will thank you for it.  I have known the benefits of stretching but quite honestly, felt like stretching either took too long, didn't apply to me or was for wimpy people.  I know better now.  My body told me to stretch or die...almost literally.  That is a warning I can't ignore and neither should you.  I don't want anyone to go through what I went through.  I know it sounds like "oh shut up, you just had a leg cramp in a tender spot, big deal" was a big deal.  It wasn't just a little cramp.  It was debilitating and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy especially once, much less twice.

What was the most excruciating pain you've ever had?  What lesson did you learn?

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Friday, February 16, 2018

What I'm Reading This Week #7

Happy Friday all.

I'm getting my mammies grammied today.  Have you made your appointment?  If not, get on it, please.  I am still amazed every time they squish da boobs the kinds of horror stories I heard growing up about mammograms.  I smash my boob harder on accident grazing it with a free weight.  The worst part for me about a mammogram is holding your breath while they take the image so if you're scared, don't be...unless you basically just have nips and very little breastage, then I hear it can be a little more uncomfortable but not painful.

There's my public service announcement.  Now, let's scan...

50 Things You Don’t Know About Chocolate  (Dig in)

16 Things All Smart Homeowners Do Once a Year  (Better get on a few of these!)

My Body Size Does Not Determine My Ability  (A good goal to shoot for!)

7 Smart Ways to Invest in Your Health (Start today!)

Why I Regret My Weight-Loss Surgery  (This is an interesting perspective.)

What to Do When You're Sick of Your Side Gig   (The burnout is real, yo)

I Swapped My Headache Meds For Peppermint Essential Oil  (I can vouch for this.  Last week I was plagued with kink-in-neck headaches combined with hormonal headaches and peppermint oil reduced it by 75%)

These Everyday Habits Can Seriously Increase Your Dementia Risk  (The more you know)

How to Avoid a Dangerous Flu Complication  (We need all the help we can get with this deadly flu season!)

Not sure what we have on tap for this weekend.  I'm going through a physical issue right now so hopefully, I can report good news come Monday.  This weekend will be about rest for me.  All I can say is thank God for the Mr and will report back when I have a better idea what I'm dealing with.

What are you up to this weekend?

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Progress Report

Good Thursday to you all!  Did you do anything fun yesterday?  (This would also include curling up on the couch and binge watching a show with a box of truffles because that sounds like a whole lotta self love to me!)

I already gave the Mr his gift early for our Chicago trip because I told myself if he mentioned them before we left then I'd give them to him.  Of course, he did so he got a razor he wanted for travel and his snore ring (affiliate link) that helps him get a solid 3 hours before the bathroom calls in the middle of the night.  I saved back some of his favorite candy for the actual day which are Curly Wurly's that I split up between stocking stuffers at Christmas and Valentine's Day and mint meltaways.

I also put together a crossword puzzle for him with hints of our love story so that was fun to watch him struggle with two of them.  HA!

He got me my favorite candies to show he was tucking away ideas as I mentioned stuff I liked over the past month.  Of course, I split some of it with him like the box of Hawaiian Host.  

I made dinner of filet mignon, baked potato and asparagus and a little appetizer of arancini balls.

It was a nice chill evening which I needed after a few hectic days to start the week.

I figured since it was mid-month now, I should look at a "progress report" of sorts to keep me on track with my February goals.

Food:  We did have popcorn one night but it was a movie night.  We have a lot of sin to work off from Chicago and we're having a lot of talks about that.  I'll update when we have a firm plan in place.

Exercise:  I have been keeping up with breaking up the scar tissue around the elbow and I think between that and the laser, it's been slowly helping.  I am modifying what I can and am seeing small improvements in the elbow situation.  Earlier this week was NOT good for the foot but I may have found some spots that jamming the golf ball in until they release may help going forward.  Who knows.

Water:  I am kicking @ss on this right now.  Go me!

Sleep:  I'm hoping it'll be better once I get the new pillows.  I've got some deadline stuff to get done this week so I know I will really have to push it to get in bed by 12:30am.

Mental Health:  Hit a bit of a rough patch leaving Chicago and had a tough mental week following.  The month started off great with friends but then a wave came over me that left me feeling very worthless and unmotivated.  Trudging forward as best I can and trying not to get overwhelmed.  I'm hoping I can end the month on the mental high note I started on.

What's your progress report for February looking like?

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