Friday, December 27, 2013

One Little Word for 2014

I've been thinking a lot about this.  It's different this year.  It's not one little word that I think will be impressive.  It's one little word that will be important to me. This is not to say that the changes or pattern that I evoke with this word will only effect myself.  It's more about making sure that I'm my own most important person. 

I've decided to go back to CHOICES.

I think I was partially haunted by my choices this year and yet, I know that it is choices in which I exercise my power. 

I want to choose YES more than no.
I want to feel POWER in my choices.
I want to know that I can be REDEEMED by making a different choice.

My 2014 will be a year of choices. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Different Take On Christmas

This Christmas was different than any year I ever remember.  The difference?  I was relaxed. 

For as long as I can remember, Christmas started the day after Thanksgiving with furious activity of rushing, going and worry.  The tree, the 48 hour+ baking spree, multiple days of shopping, a day of wrapping perfectly, searching for food, preparing new and cool foods and gifts, running from home to home and shopping some more...  I like to think that I'm a relaxed, type B personality.  But in the last couple of weeks I'm starting to think that maybe I'm more type a than I think. 

This year?  I didn't put the tree up.  I never spent a good 48 hours baking all kinds of Christmas cookies that partially got thrown away.  I shopped for gifts one day and was done.  I used gift bags instead of pretty coordinating wrap.  I never made a huge deal over a special breakfast on Christmas eve or day.  I didn't shop for days over 2 new outfits for the 2 days. 

Pete and I opened gifts on the 23rd, which is our tradition.  I commented that this year felt different and more relaxed than I've ever been.  He commented that he saw that and in turn it was more relaxed for him also.  We didn't argue about how he wasn't liking going to my extended family Christmas; I went and he stayed home.  We both won. 

This is a new experience for me. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The F Word

You know it.  You think it, you say it.  You're as caught up as anyone.  It holds power and not all of it is good power.

What word?  Fat.

I hate it with a passion.  HATE it.  I don't want it to have the power that it does.  I think that it does such damage to a person. 

I read last week about how Justin Bieber called a curvy size 14 teenager a beached whale.  My heart aches for that girl.  She must have been so excited ot be near her celebrity crush; so excited to meet him.  And what does he do?  He calls her fat.  For no other reason than to build himself up.  No other reason.

Jennifer Lawrence of Hunger Games is quoted as saying:
"I think the media needs to take responsibility for the effect it has on our younger generation on these girls that are watching these television shows and picking up how to talk and how to be cool," she continued. "So all of the sudden being funny is making fun of the girl that's wearing an ugly dress. And the word fat! I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we're regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren't we regulating things like calling somebody fat?"
As soon as I read this, I was like YES!  Why aren't we realizing the power words have on young kids like this? 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My 2014 Word?

For the last few years I've been choosing a word in December to live the following year by.  A word that represents some change I want to make or what I need to focus on or a reminder.  Interestingly I think that my choices are very representative of what actually happens within the year.  Maybe it's just self fulfilling, maybe it's luck, but whatever it is, it works.

Last year my word was grace:
I want to live gracefully. In beauty and kindness. With poise and centered in myself. I want to chose nice over mean. I want to give myself grace and forgiveness and be ok with who I am at any given moment. I want to be graceful in motion and thought. 
I have to admit, when I had the abnormal biopsy I abandoned my word and I felt that it abandoned me.  How could I live gracefully when this bad thing was happening to me?  How could I be ok, let alone poised with this decision?  How could I be ok with myself when I was about to remove body parts in a preemptive move?

In reality, I think that grace supported me.  Grace was there to let me recover both mentally and physically.  Grace was there for me to allow myself to ask for help when I needed it.  Grace was there to be ok with where I was at, at that given moment.  Without thinking about it, I was living a graceful life and it was giving back to me in return.  Without grace, I honestly don't know where I would be now or what my mental status would be.

So this is my little thank you to whomever started the trend of One Little Word.  My thank you to the prompt of seeking something to work on year by year.  My thank you for the support throughout this year. 

My 2014 word?  I don't know.  Something is pushing me to go back to the word choices.  To focus on the fact that I can't change all the choices I had to make this year.  To focus on the things that I can change and do something about them.  But I'm still giving it thought because I have about 3 weeks left to decide!

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Love Myself

Deep down, I know that I love myself, just as I am.  But the day to day me isn't always so sure.

After losing weight I was liking my body, but the good and the bad parts.  But with the surgery scars and the weight gain, I feel the self doubt filling in those empty spots.  My scar is long and red and raised.  Ready?  Be gentle with me, because this is the first time I'm publicly sharing some of my scars. 


This is my abdomen scar.  Where they took skin and tissue to rebuild the breasts.  The scar runs from buttock around the front to the other buttock. 

Why am I sharing this now?  I watched some documentary where they talked about self doubt and hate.  One of the things that a therapist said, what she would prescribe that patients go home and post on their bathroom mirror:  I love myself unconditionally!  Read it twice a day and say it out loud.  She said that the first 20 days or so would be filled with self doubt, criticism and sometimes hate.  But after day 20 those critical statements after the sentence would get less and less.  After 30 days, they're down to very few.

So, I'm here to say that I love myself.  I'm not perfect (no one is) and I have things that I can improve upon.  I'll do those when my body and mind are ready to tackle them again.  Until then, I'm choosing to give myself grace and be ok with where I am.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Shades of Grey

Tell me, where did your mind just go? *wink*  Well, my shades are considerably more boring. 

For years I was frustrated at every political discussion I had.  I was frustrated about every social issue discussion too.  Oh, and schools?  Yep, frustrated too. 

The process would look like this:
Other Person:  All cows should be blue.  Period.
Me:  But not all cows are blue.
OP:  But they should be.  Blue or yellow.
Me:  But the truth is that some are green.
OP:  But cows have historically been blue and yellow and they shouldn't change.
Me:  But there are so many reasons why cows aren't always blue and yellow and we need to consider those.
OP:  Nope.  Blue or yellow.
Me: grrrrrrrr (leaves conversation)

When my counselor asked me to describe myself the other day I said that I am the greyest person I know.  She laughed and asked me to explain.  I told her that for any statement she gives me, I'll likely to find several different points that would both support and discount it.  I told her that I usually cheer for the team who is losing, even if I switch sides every inning.  I spend a lot of time explaining my reasoning behind everything and I often get frustrated.

Her response was that it was all awesome.  And then I laughed.

Most people in this world have a very black/white outlook on life.  They are very absolute about what they think and believe.  Me?  I'm the opposite.  She said that in her practice, she spends a lot of time with those black/white people trying to get them to understand the grey areas as those people have a hard time seeing that there could be any other answer, other than A or B. 

Interesting. 

But I explained that it frustrated me when I talked with others that they couldn't see the things that I see.  She acknowledged this and said that while hard, it must make me a pretty understanding person.  When I thought about it, I agreed. (toots my own horn...) 

What I left with was a new understanding about not only myself, but those around me.  I feel a lot like the person who's always saying, "But, what about this?"  And while that may be true, I also help people think about things that they had not or could not even think about in many situations.  Maybe that's why I like being a probation/parole agent so much?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What I've Learned in 5 Months

Five months ago I was in surgery.  A long surgery that's colored every part of my life since.  I've spent a long time in the last few weeks considering the choice that I made and how my life has changed.  And while there are days I'll tell you that it was the worst thing that ever happened to me, the reality is that not all of it was negative.

1.  I learned who really cared for me in various ways.  Reality is that when someone has a life altering event, most people think about how sad it is.  Not all of those people offer to help or even support.  Some just can't and others don't want to be bothered.  I learned that I have an awesome husband who will go to the ends of the Earth for me.  I have caring co-workers who organized a lot of help.  I have friends who live no where near me, but were with me every moment of every day.

2.  I learned that I can't do it all and that's ok.  The world will not end because I didn't make my famous potato hotdish (Translation - Casserole. Remember, I'm midwestern.) for the Christmas Potluck.  It will not end because I didn't do cute little Halloweek bags for my trick or treaters.  And It will not end because the bathroom counter looks like a tornado for 3 days straight.  Family and friends will be ok not getting a Christmas card this year.

3.  I learned that I need to let my husband into my head a little bit.  That withholding my thoughts is akin to turning my back to him when I need him most and then getting mad when he doesn't help.  IO learned that out of a sad/difficult thing, cvan come a new awareness and awakening of a realitionship.  I learned that we love each other...a lot.

4.  I learned that while my brain may feel ok, my body doesn't and I need to listen to it.  I need to go slowly and have patience with myself.  That nothing goes from 1-100 without all the other 98 numbers inbetween.  I learned that even 5 months along, it's sitll ok to nap a couple of hours a day and spend time relaxing to recharge.

5.  I learned that my relationship with my family is important.  My realtionship with my Mom is at times difficult because of how different we are, but that when it comes down to it, we are similar also.  I learned that my Grandma, all 89 years of her, will help out any way she can. 

6.  I learned that I could do a better job advocating for myself.  Instead of letting myself get to the crying every day stage, I could have admitted to the plastic surgeon any number of times that I needed help.  Instead of letting Pete do my talking, I could habe been more vocal about my needs and wants and sought out a solution.

7.  I learned that I do much better when I have an action plan of how to fix things.  Whether it's validating emotions and what I know to be true around them or planning on exercising on certain days, it's a plan. 

I know that there's way more that I could list out.  But those are the big ones.  I suppose that if I posted again in July 2014 (which I'm sure to do) I'll have more things that I've learned.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Admissions and Limitations

Saturday was spent hibernating in the deep freeze of Minnesota. Love the cold wintery weather with snow. But high temps that never get above zero?  Um no thanks.

So between laundry, crochet, baking, House of Cards in Netflix and my snugly puppy, I never left the house. In return, there was a list of other things that I should have done. I just didn't. 

At times, I think I have bounds of energy and I tackle that to do list in the spirit of an athlete. Friday, I shopped...for 7 hours. Grocery, clothes, crafts and Christmas. Ran home, helped Pete cook dinner and was in bed by 10pm. I had a similar, if yet indoors, list for Saturday. But I did none of it. Not because I didn't want to, but because I had no energy or motivation to do it. 

About 1pm, I took a shower so I could feel clean and change into clean PJs (really just one of Pete's old long sleeved shirts and flannel pants).  But in the shower I thought about how much I wanted to sit in the living room and watch the twinkling light of the tree.  And how I usually spend the day after Thanksgiving putting it up. And how it's now well past Thanksgiving and I stare at an empty space and dog toys.

What I realized was sad. I didn't have the motivation to wrestle that tree up and decorate it. Oh yes, I could muster the energy to do it today. But I'd be in a heap the rest if the day. And more importantly to Pete, that damn tree would stay up until Valentines Day when Pete would take it down out of frustration. It's not fair to him or me to do that.  So I made the call to not put up the tree this year.  And I shared this with Pete when he got home.  He was very sweet and said that he'd get me a tabletop tree that fols out so it's just set and plug in, but I told him no need. 

I don't know, maybe it's a positive thing, this realization of my limits. Maybe it's good that I not only realize them, but stick to them. And maybe, a part of me wants my superhuman self back. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

I am still here...

I'm still here.  Still struggling in some ways and flourishing in others.

I haven't posted because...well it's complicated.  I realized last night that I don't have the running dialogue in my head all the time.  I've talked before about how I felt like there was this running stream of consciousness going on in my head all. the. time.  Well, it's quiet...er.  I can sit and spend time crocheting and I'm not running 40 things in my head about what I did that day or plans for the next or how I screwed up and what I need to change or 15 other random things.  It's a wonder why I could never meditate with all that going on.  But I sort of can now.  I'm enjoying crocheting things for gifts and for myself and the time spent with no TV/radio; just me and my hook and yarn.  It's relaxing, rather than stressful.

But, that stream of consciousness seems to have been where most of my blog posts formed.  I sort of feel like I've lost my blogging voice.  It's a hard thing.  I want to blog and document what's going on in my head, but I can't.  Many times in the last month I've sat at the computer or my netbook or even my phone and stared.  Everything that I thought about writing felt very forced and not at all authentic.  So I closed the screen without saving a single letter. 

Last night I realized that if I'm going to blog, it needs to be a conscious effort to do so.  And maybe, just maybe, I need to ease back into it, just like I'm easing back into my life in other ways.  So today, is post 1.  I probably won't be blogging daily anymore, but my goal is to do so 2-3 times a week.  I've written myself some notes about things that I really do want to talk about.

PS, thanks for listening....

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

You Can't Juice A Banana

So last week Pete traded appliances with a friend.  (really)

He traded our never used air popper, panini maker and rice cooker for a juicer.  I'm not sure who got the better deal.  But I will say that even if we trade back, we got the chance to use something new and see if it worked for us before we bought.

He's juiced pears, apples, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, kale, bell peppers and hot peppers, lemons, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower and pineapple. 

Not all together though.  He makes his own blend of things, drinks the juice and goes on his way.  I keep pointing out that the pineapple orange isn't really the intention of the machine.  I mean, sure, it's fresh produce, but it's all sugar.  I keep trying to get him to juice kale and tomatoes and add a few berries in for sweetness so that he's getting more veggies.  (he doesn't eat many veggies)

So over the weekend he sent me all these SMOOTHIE recipes, as a suggestion on what produce to buy him for the week.  Only I had to point out that you can't really juice a banana.  Right?  I guess we could try.  I told him that smoothies are for the blender and juice is, well, for the juicer.  I encouraged him to look up juicing and the benefits and recipes.  All I get in response is smoothie recipes.

I had him juice me some cranberries and oranges.  I've been adding that to my water every day to give it a bit of flavor. 

Anyone else juice?  Got any non banana recipes for Pete?

Monday, November 18, 2013

I Need To Get It Together

Somewhere, along the way I lost the me who was pretty organized and on top of it all.  Maybe I really did lose a whole bunch of brain cells the 2 months of sitting watching reality TV after surgery.  Who knows?

I've randomly gone to the gym here and there, but nothing consistent.  I am attending physical therapy though and doing exercises at home.  Last week I felt my lower abs engage for the first time since prior to surgery.  It.  Was. Awesome.

I've both watched what I ate and gone back to trick or treating my own fridge for chocolate.  I hover somewhere around 209.  Not happy about it.  But I'm also not beating myself up over it at this point.

I work from home most days so I'm more relaxed, less make up and have hair that sticks up in random places.  But I also have counseling appointments, physical therapy appointments, staff meetings and other random meetings that I have to go to each week.  So I feel LESS organized and relaxed in some ways.

I am doing really good in the relaxation area though.  I've rediscovered crocheting and how relaxing and rewarding it is to craft.  I've done a few Christmas presents, some scarves for myself and I'm working on a big ol blanket.

My goals do include getting back to the gym on a regular basis.  I think I'm waiting for life to get easier, but my realization is that it's not going to get better than this for a while.  So...here goes:

Goals:
Get to the gym 3 days in the next week for at least an hour at a time.
Eat cleaner.  More veggies and lean protein and less cheese, muddy buddies and chocolate.
Plan week on Monday mornings and post calendar for Pete so he knows where to find me.

I'm using this as my accountability partner for the week.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Hate The Elliptical

I hate the elliptical.  The round and round motion throws me off balance and sometimes I suddenly stop and yet the foot pad shoots up and throws me off to the side.  Maybe it's just that I'm uncoordinated?

Running.  I'd much rather run. 

I can see my body sunning in my head and if I close my eyes I can feel the treadmill under me, running smoothly with my feet hitting it.  I run fast and hard and far.  Then I slow down and job, looking around.  I push myself and run hard again and see myself crossing a finish line to victory.

I want to run again.  I want to feel my legs tired from exerting.  I want to feel the strength in my legs carry me over miles and miles.  I want to sweat and get red faced and all the other things that I complained about. 

Instead, I walk.  Walk quickly for 30-40 minutes and get on that elliptical for 10 minutes.  But everyone starts somewhere, right?

Feeeeeeeelings......

Woah, woah Woah, feeeeeeeelings... (is it only me that has that song in my head?)

So feelings.  Powerful things.  Learning a lot about them.  Mostly - there is no such thing as a bad feeling.  What we can and should change is how we deal with them.  And what I'm learning is that we come from a generation of people who wasn't all that great at allowing feelings and modeling good behavior with regard to feelings. 

I read this quote from Bears receiver Brandon Marshall about Incognito bullying a team mate:
“Look at it from this standpoint,” Marshall said. “Take a little boy and a little girl. A little boy falls down and the first thing we say as parents is ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK. Don’t cry.’ A little girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s going to be OK.’ We validate their feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, to not show their emotions.
Wow.  He's right.  And I think that we not only do that with little boys, but we also do it with little girls.  We do it because we don't want kids thinking that every small thing is a big issue and getting upset about it.  But we, because I've done it too, go about it the wrong way at times.

So as an adult, I've learned that my feelings are valid at the time that I'm experiencing them.  I'm ok to feel that way.  But I can be positive and proactive and learn how to take control of the feelings.  I'm the person who creates BIG balloons of details about something I perceive in my head, when I could stem that process by just asking questions about the issue. 

Pete sells Body By Vi and has a multitude of customers.  He often times offers locals not only the shakes, but personal help in starting a weight loss/fitness program.  At times it's very demanding.  In the last week, there were several days that he spent more time with a couple of customers than me.  After a few days I started building this story in my head about how he didn't want to spend time with me, how he was leaving me behind, how he would rather be out with others.  In the past, I would have let this go and build and build.  But this time, I chose to just tell Pete that I was feeling lonely and left out.  1 sentence.  No confrontation.  No big story.  You know what happened?  He validated my feelings, realized that he hadn't made time for me and we planned a night out.  Solved. 

It. Was. Awesome. 

It felt powerful and calming and loving. 

So, the next time you catch yourself telling someone (child or adult) to shake off their feelings, think about how you're doing it.  Can you validate the feeling and share ways to deal with it in a positive and loving manner?  Try it!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Long Time; No See

So Monday morning I went off to my counseling appointment.  We talked more about what I wanted out of counseling and less about the past, if that makes sense.  More about where I am and less about how I got there.

She was happy that I blog and seem to keep a running list of what's going on with me at any given time.  And at the end she gave me an assignment of sorts.  To label my feelings throughout the week, explore them and come to some conclusion about them.  To learn what things I can change and what I can't.  She also asked that I print my blogs so she can see them.

You know what happened?  I got a blogging block.  Seriously.

So let's explore this.  I blogged in the beginning to track what I was going through.  I blog to get things out of my head, onto paper and so that I can review them later.  I blog to help myself and others.  Yet blogging so someone can read it and tell me what I'm going through may not be the right way to do it?  Totally scary. 

So I stopped blogging (as evidenced by my lack of posts).

A couple of times this week I've had anxiety and I get all "I want to jump out of my skin" and pace a bit and my mind goes from 45 mph to 145 mph and speeds away from me.  A couple of the times I talked it over in my head (I swear this is a good thing, not an "I hear voices talking to me" thing).  A couple times I talked myself out of it.  Meaning I had this story all built up in my head about something that Pete was doing and talked myself through a conversation with him about it (because I don't like confrontation).  When I realized that I maybe making a way bigger thing out of it than needs to be and that I may very well be wrong.  So I backed my brain down to 45 mph and just asked him.  I was wrong.  Solved.

But there was also a time this week that I get very anxiety ridden and Pete wasn't home and I got tearful about feeling very very alone again and it overwhelmed me.  I started trying to think about it all and suddenly remembered the sheet about the feelings.  Perfect!  I literally ran to it to start writing.  And in the quick few word statements that I made I quickly tamped that anxiety way down.  Maybe it' documenting it?  Maybe it's learning a new way to address it?  But the specific items on the sheet worked well for me.

So it's Friday afternoon and I hope you're all out having fun.  I have goals this weekend and coming week:
1.  Tomorrow I'm meeting with women at Bright Pink in Minneapolis.  I am determined to keep meeting women who are high risk for breast cancer and or have had surgery and make some connections.  They don't have to be perfect, just connections.
2.  I'm going to enjoy ice cream date with Pete tomorrow to tour a local ice cream shop.
3.  I'm going to take time to relax and crochet.
4.  I'm going to go to the gym at least once.
5.  I'm going to plan my week with hopefully less in and out of the house as this week.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Counseling; Day One

So today is day 3 on an antidepressant and day 1 of counseling.

The antidepressant is going to take some getting used to and some time to build up in my body.  The first day I took it in the morning at the suggestion of the pharmacist.  It made me sleepy and it really made me nauseated for about 4 hours.  No good.  So I started taking it at night.  It's working better.  But last night I woke up in the middle of the night extremely thirsty.  I drank water but it made my stomach worse and I was awake for a bit.

All morning I kept telling myself I was dumb for scheduling counseling; I really didn't need counseling.  Then I wondered if the emotional crying and stuff was simply my normal menstrual cycle?  After all the signs that I used to have are gone/changed since surgery and I have a harder time knowing my body signals. 

Pete pointed out to me that I tend to want things to fit in categories, be specific.  Not everything can be categorized.  Maybe some of my anxiety and issues with this is that I can't categorize it all.  He's s smart man and I realized that maybe he's right.  I may not fit in a category, but it doesn't mean I'm not part of of the larger group.

Today's counseling session was spent learning my story, my family history and my life.  At the end she asked me to think of goals that I'd like to work towards so that I know when I'm making progress.  She also commented that I'm pretty hard on myself and I should think about interrupting the negative self talk and allowing myself grace.  When she said that I about fell to the floor.  It was like she knew that I was trying to live in grace for 2013.  It was some confirmation that maybe things do happen for a reason and choosing that word was no accident for 2013.

So I'm going to keep a note on my phone and start recording some of the goals I want to achieve and where I want to see myself.  Some of the things I'd like to learn and how I can be a better version of me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Husband Likes Soup

When I first met my husband I did a fine job of trying to impress him with my cooking.  I cooked homey hotdishes (casseroles for you non Midwesterners), fragrant soups and cheesy pasta dishes.

One day, about a year after we'd been married, my husband suddenly says, "You know, I don't like soup."  And I was shocked.  I mean, how can you not like soup?  He suddenly volunteered that sandwiches were for lunch, not a dinner item.  Cheese was gross.  As for hotdishes, they have all the food mixed up and not much flavor.

Then I realized that he was not the man I thought I knew.  Growing up German with a father from the Southeast, I thought for sure that he'd welcome the kind of food I cooked.  Potatoes layered with sauerkraut and sausages?  Nope.  Chicken noodle soup on a cold day? Nope.

So we moved on and I cooked other things. 

Then one day a month ago, I noticed that my cheese package was pretty small.  After thinking about it I asked Pete and he admitted that he was...STEALING MY CHEESE!  Here he'd been having toasted cheese sandwiches and even cheese slices cold from the fridge.  Who was this man and what had he done with my husband?

Last week we went to a local restaurant for restaurant week.  It's a fixed menu where you make a couple of choices and spend $30 on a meal that would be $75 or more.  For a starter, my husband chose curried butternut squash soup with apples.  WHERE IS MY HUSBAND AND WHO IS THIS MAN?

Later in the week, we visited another restaurant and one of the garnishes on the salad was a candied onion.  Oh how I was looking forward to the sweetness of the candying and the sharp onion on the inside.  But no.  MY HUSBAND ATE IT.  ALL.

So, last night for dinner, we are had Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Apple, Smoked Chicken Sausages and crusty bread with Cheddar melted on it.  All things that my husband (or so he says he's my husband....) did not eat 30 days ago.

Does this seem weird to you too?

(this post is in good humor.  I really do not think aliens abducted my husband.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Connections

“It is man's social nature which distinguishes him from the brute creation. If it is his privilege to be independent, it is equally his duty to be inter-dependent. Only an arrogant man will claim to be independent of everybody else and be self-contained.”   - Mahatma Ghandi

I believe that we are better for the connections we make in life.  Every connection, good or bad, tells us something and leaves a lasting impression upon our soul.

I've spoken previously about how even connections on the internet are important to me.  I have a great group of friends that I met online and am very close to.  Some of them I've never met in person, but could count on them doing anything for me.

Recently I joined Brew Mama's Fall Swap and was paired up with Getz Girl On Fire.

I've had such fun learning about her and her life.  It parallels mine to some degree - we both love our puppies and stalking Food Network Chefs.  We've been chatting back and forth and last week exchanged some fun things.  After all, who doesn't love getting packages in the mail!


Can you see how cool that wine glass is?  I can write my name on it so that everyone knows it's mine!  How cool!  I've already dug into the pumpkin coffee Sunday.  It's all about pumpkin in my house right now.  And I'm using one of the cool pens for work. 

So my challenge to you all is to stop and make a connection this week.  Whether it be online, or in person, connect with someone new and see what blossoms!

Sunday Mornings

As a kid, weekends were golden. No school, no rushing around and I could do what I want (for the most part).  Saturdays, my Mom deemed cleaning days. We turned up the stereo and everyone worked on a room. After that we were free to ourselves. I'd spent the afternoon and evening reading, watching TV or out with friends.

Sundays mornings were spent eating some form of brunch.  Pancakes, waffles, eggs, toast, bacon, sausages, cinnamon rolls, orange juice, coffee. I've memories of my Mom making perfect omelets even though she doesn't eat eggs.  She'd get out the shiny silver waffle maker and boil down water and maple flavoring for syrup. 

My Dad was less conventional about cooking. He grew up the son of a farmer who never had to think about cooking, because my Grandma did it all. He'd make freshly grated hash brown potatoes with large pieces of onion, scrambled eggs and diced hot dogs. Then we'd squirt copious amounts of ketchup all over it before eating. 

Food is connected to my childhood memories, whether I like it or not. And while my relationship with food is a bit broken, I still treasure those memories. They speak to a childlike innocence, lazy and relaxing days.  They are emotionally comforting in a time where I'm not quite sure where I fit in right now.

Yesterday was a Sunday golden day. A day I made sure to live presently in, all day. I feel as though the dog tried sleeping on my face all night, but let me sleep until 8 am. I woke up to pumpkin coffee with a dab of cream. I concocted a breakfast of potato hash with bacon, onion, jalapenos, cooking on the stove. Finished, I topped it with runny eggs and sharp salty cheddar for me, instant grits and runny eggs for Pete. We are in front of the TV, talking about the weekend. I am relaxed and present.

I read my new cookbook and crocheted a bit after breakfast. Relaxing with a warm sleepy puppy and a blanket my Grandma crocheted for my high school graduation. All the while watching reruns of Law and Order. The sun glowed through the blinds in the living room and made the cold outside seem much warmer. Golden. 

It's Sunday nights where I feel most like an adult. Sundays are when I bake bread and cakes. I roast whole chickens with root veggies. I slow cook turkey sausage chili with cornbread. The making of large meals again reminds me of my childhood. Of sitting round a table in the dark evening with tender roast, buttered carrots and soft potatoes. Of pieces of white bread with butter and the TV running the evening news or a football game.

This Sunday I made Turkey Wild Rice Hotdish with a crusty whole grain honey bread. Between dinner and breakfast, I made some new golden food memories. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

207; A List of Plans

Even water proof mascara isn't really water proof.  It's likely water resistant or something.  I always wonder what kind of make up reality stars have on that they never get red and raccoon looking when they cry.  Because me?  I do crying, ugly.  I'm red, blotchy, runny nose and tears flowing.  So my lesson to you all is not to wear mascara when going for help with depression.

I love my doctor.  Can I just say that?  She listens, really listens to me.  She helps me problem solve.  She also lets me lead in what my medical care should look like.  She lets me feel in control, even when I'm not.

When she entered the office I half heartedly smiled and she could tell that something was wrong.  She asked me to explain in my own words what was happening and it's then that I realized I should have written it down.  Not only do I ugly cry, but when something like this is bothering me, I cry when I try to speak.  And you can't ugly cry and verbalize at the same time.  At least I can't.  So she waited while I tried to gather myself up to talk.  Then she listened.

At the crux of this is that I feel very much alone.  I have the support of my Mom (breast cancer/mastectomy survivor).  I have the support of Pete, who does tons of things for me and listens to everything I can manage to tell him.  I have the support of friends online and in person.  But I feel so alone.  An island unto myself.

I feel almost as though I did all of this for no reason, this self mutilation of sorts, because there was no cancer.  Which leads me to wonder if I was so ready for this to happen in the first place?  Did I rush (is 3 months of waiting, rushing?) into this decision when I could have waited or should have waited?  I feel as though my 'choice' to do this is 'rewarded' by the complications and issues that I've had since the initial surgery. 

I've tried to seek out support form several places, but there is no one like me.  No one that is a Previvor, but not BRCA positive.  No one that has chosen to do this in a situation that mirrors mine.  No one that is in their 40's and has some of the same experiences I did/do.  No one who can tell me that yes, it will be ok.  Yes, this is how I got through it.  Yes, call/text/email me when you have issues and I will listen. 

Logically I know that what I write here is off and that I know better.  But I can't seem to connect the logicalness of it and my feelings about it.  They're off course and I need to get them back on track.

So we have a plan.  A good one.
1.  I called for physical therapy again and I'm scheduled to start on 11/6/13.  Exercising is a great mood booster and I can't wait to be able to learn how to exercise without hurting myself.
2.  I was prescribed a low dose antidepressant for 6 months.  Something to help me get over the hump and have enough energy to do what I need to do on a daily basis.
3.  Seek counseling.  If I can't find a support group, I need to find a counselor for a few sessions to figure out how to sort through the feelings I'm having.

I'm adding a few to the plan:
4.  I'm going to connect more with Pete about how I'm feeling on a daily basis.  Let him know my fears because he is strong enough to listen, even if he can't do anything about them.
5.  Keep blogging.  Keep getting it out of my head and onto the 'page'.
6.  Keep being creative on a daily basis.  Something that makes me happy - crochet, reading, photography, cooking...anything.
7.  Let go right now of my weight issues.  I'm not returning to the emotional/chocolate/soda/carb addict eating, but I'm going to say that it's ok if I'm not losing weight. 

So, that's my list.  I'm very much a list maker who has to have a plan.  And this, this is my plan.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

207; Admitting Defeat

If I'm nothing else here, I'm honest about what's going on in my life.  I want to know a year from now that I got through this and how I did it.  So I'm saring the darker side of me, recording it all here.  I'm hopeful that I can come back to this and see how far I've come.

My plastic surgeon thinks that my left nipple will heal ok.  He thinks that the healing that I see as problematic is normal and I just need to ride it out.  If something does happen, he can create a new one.  And with that I am at once relieved and angry.  I'm angry that I lost part of it and that it's just ok.  I'm relieved that I'm not losing more of it.  This is not how I imagined recovery.

He also shot up the scar on my chest with cortisone.  He says that he uses a tiny needle so it doesn't hurt.  But damn, did that little needle hurt and the solution hurt going in.  It feels like there is constant pressure on my sternum normally and with that it was very irritated. 

I still have to keep all my scars covered with tape, a silicone pad or this Scar Guard product that I brush on.  I make raised, red, unappealing scars.  Just another notch in the bedpost of things that didn't go as planned with surgery. 

Yesterday when I got home from the doctor's appointment I was mentally exhausted.  I had a headache, my chest hurt and all I wanted to do was sleep.  My insomnia has been rearing it's ugly head and I'm averaging about 3-4 hours a night.  Even though my "office" is in the bedroom across the hall from mine, it was to far away yesterday.  The thought of pushing the button to turn on the computer was more that I could physically do.  The idea that I'd have to use my brain for something other than sleep and taking migraine meds was impossible.  So I didn't.

When Pete got home, I had been laying in bed, sleeping off and on and taking migraine meds.  He asked me how I was doing and paused.  He finally asked if I thought that I was depressed.  He says that I'm holding back with him and not telling him what's going through my head.  It makes him feel like an outsider in my world.  This is not my intention and I got angry.  I believe that potentially, if I say all these things out loud they are true.  And having them be true is scary.  Very scary.

So I made an appointment with my doctor today about my insomnia, my migraines and to talk about the possibility that I am depressed.  I admit defeat in this emotional battle of being a Previvor and having surgery.  Defeat.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Like a good portion of bloggers, I'm actually writing this Monday night to auto-post on Tuesday.  I've a full plate of things on Tuesday and yet I feel like I need to get this out.  Excuse me, because this post is my free form ramble, not a planned and edited post.

Thursday I spent the afternoon inn the doctor's office.  I lay on the table while he took out the last stitches.  And he examined my left fake nipple, the one that wasn't healing well.  He snipped away with scissors, the same scissors that he used to cut out the stitches.  He snipped and snipped and  talked about the Ren Faire, the dissolvable stitches that were poking through, and about how the nipple would heal much better now. 

I remember thinking that it was all going to be ok.  He put the bandaid with Neosporin on it over the area and sat me up.  He told me I'd be happy with it and the profile would be a bit diminished, but it would be good.  He taped up my other scars and told me to keep taping them.  Then he took 3 month photos and talked about how he wanted to see me back in the office for the cortisone in the scars to help flatten them.

On his way out he handed me the business card for what he called "the hippie tattoo artist in Uptown" who they refer all patients to.  He told me that she would flip to see how my body scars, and that I needed to wait until my left fipple had healed completely.

And I left.  I was a bit sore on the left side.  Weirdly sore.  I can't feel the skin that he was working on, but it's almost as though my body sent signals to my brain that it should hurt, so it did.  Much like the phantom pain that I've read about with amputees.  So instead of going to a movie/presentation for work, I went home.  I relaxed in bed with my reality TV, my dinner and my dog.

Friday I got up and didn't change the bandaid or the tape over my scars, I just showered, dried them all well.  I got ready for work, worked all day and came home to relax with my hubby and my puppy.

Saturday I got up, was pretty lazy with my crocheting, my coffee and my pup.  Pete had a meeting for the motorcycle club and I had my nephew's birthday party.  I really didn't want to go, but I forced myself to get ready and I went.  Pete and I got home about the same time and cuddled with the TV until bed.

My point is that I I kind of went through the motions and just did what I needed to do to get by.  There are days and weeks in the last few months that have been much like this.  Days and weeks that I couldn't tell you what happened, unless I read blog posts or asked Pete about them.  Days and weeks where my mind was so occupied that the passing of time is a second.

But Sunday.  Sunday I worked around the house, doing 6 loads of laundry, baking a cake, reading some blogs and emails and crocheting.  I cleaned a couple of rooms and by 1pm I was tired.  I laid down to nap and actually fell asleep easily.  Pete and my alarm woke me up to shower for your dinner reservations.  I took the previous bandaid off and really looked at my left nipple.

Half of it was gone.  No wonder he told me the profile would be different.  No wonder he snipped so long.  It was cut in half from front to back.  I get it.  It's just a nipple.  But on the flip side.  It's my flipping fake nipple after a hard long summer of surgery and recovery.  It's days like that where I wonder why.  Why me?  Why did I do this?  Why did I chose now to have surgery? Why can't I heal right for once?  Why do I have to keep going through this?  Why?

In the scheme of things, it's a nipple.  But it's just that it symbolizes so much more for me.  I have breasts that are fake that I can't feel that have scars all over them.  I have a tummy that has a paunch right above it/above my belly button, but my tummy is flat as Minnesota.  I have hips that are bigger and my butt is still the same size as before.  I can't flex my abs without wincing and I can't do much with my chest muscles before they ache.  It still takes me about 15 minutes of sheer wincing and grimacing and sometimes crying in the morning to stop my muscles from spasmming after laying still all night.

Can't my nipples me the one thing that turned out great?  Can't they be the one thing that didn't cause me concern or worry or tears?  And then I watch TV and see how the people n the Boston Bombing talk about not letting the bombers make them victims.  They talk about persevering and even prospering.  And I feel weak and pitful.  For today I've let breast cancer and being a previvor be something that I'm not ok with, something that has turned me into a victim.  I feel weak and dumb and such a fool.  If they can do that in the wake of a horrible tragedy, why I can't I do this when I knew for years in the back of my head that it was coming?  Why?  Why can't I live above it, through it, each and every day?  Why do I cry in the shower and put on a happy face for everyone?

I want to scream and yell and punch cancer in the gut. I want to cry that it's not fair and give it to someone else.  I want to throw in the towel, admit defeat and stay in bed for weeks with the blinds down, my dog on ne side of me and Pete on the other.  I want to yell and scream and cry and pout and be mad.  I try to decide if what I'm going through is normal or I should be seeking meds to help me get through it.  I have insomnia issues starting back, just like I did before surgery.  My anxiety in public is telling me that everyone knows and they're staring.  I'm uncomfortable because I've gained weight and I can't fit in my clothes and I'm worried that I won't get back to where I was.  I eat Starburst candy corn like it's my only saving grace.

I'm a mess. This morning I called the doctor's office because with all this, what's left of my left nipple is starting to look like it did before he cut away the skin.  It's forming this thick white area between the edge of the skin and the open area.  I cried when I told the nurse that I was getting worried that I was going to lose the whole thing soon.  I don't want to lose it.  I want 2 nipples.  I want to look like a damn normal woman again.  That's all I want.  That's all.  Normal.  Equal.  Even. 

So when this posts, I should be back on that table again in that doctor's office.  Laying back and wondering what's going to happen.  Only this time I'm taking Pete.  I need the support and I realize that I don't have to do it all alone.  I don't have to suffer in silence.  Pete married me in good times and bad and he's really my biggest champion in all this and he wants to be with me.  And for that, I will never ever be able to tell him how much he means to me.

Monday, October 21, 2013

205.2; On Blogging

I realized not long ago that I've been blogging off and on for about 10 years.  Mostly I started for me, to record the things that were happening inn my life for myself.  It wasn't public and I was my only reader.  At some point I decided to take the plunge to make it public.  I remember thinking how scared I was to do that and open myself up to criticism.  At that point I was big into scrapbooking/paper crafting and I belonged (actually still belong) to a big name website.  Bloggers who opened up their blogs to the women on that site were ripped apart.  But I got over my fears and just did it.

My blog has been a record for everything from dating to meeting Pete to wedding planning, to family issues, to losing weight to my surgery.  It's a record of what I've gone through in the last 10 years and just as life changes, so does the focus of my blog.  I've designed it myself (I am a horrendous designer), I've used free templates and most recently I've used Hubby Jack.  He is a much better designer than I am, by far.  I'd totally recommend him if you're looking for some design. 

In the last couple of years I've thought more about how I could help people with my blog.  First with losing weight and having a gastric band and now with being a Previvor and my mastectomy.  I've also thought about how my connections with friends over the Internet are very important to me.  I've had great friends over the Internet for 7-8 years that have sustained me through hard times and rejoiced with me in good times.

So, with that, I joined a couple of swaps.  I love learning about how/why other people blog and learning more about blogging.  I joined Brew Mama's Fall Swap.  My partner is Getz Girl On Fire.  And holy buckets, her running photo is fierce!  She's obviously determined to re4ach her goals and that's very cool.  I'm finding out more about her and we have some pretty cool things in common:  she's crazy about her pups like I am with mine, she loves her Keruig like I love mine and we both like to cook and stalk Food Network Celebs!  I'm a bit jealous of her wonderful friends and their great trips.  Those friend connections are what makes life and making memories on those trips just solidifies the friendship even further.  So go check her blog out!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

206; Doctors Offices Are Weird


Did I ever tell you about the time I got locked in the bathroom?



It was about 2 weeks after surgey and Pete took me to an appointment at the professional building by the hospital.  On the way in I told him I had to use the bathroom. We stopped, he went in his and I pushed the door in for mine. When I was done I grabbed the handle to pull the door. Holy buckets it was heavy. I pulled and got it open about 1 inch before it closed. I sighed and pulled again. This time, 2 inches and closed. I looked for a handicapped door opener and found that I was in a bathroom without one. 

Sigh. 

I got my cell phone out and sent Pete a message telling him I was stuck. Then I watched it error out because there was no service. I was stuck. I finally opened the door an inch and yelled for Pete. My knight in shining armor rescued me from the potty. How glamorous!  

It occurred to me today, as I was writing this in my head, that a whole bunch of strangers know a lot about my private bits. Probably almost as much as I've told my family (other than Pete).  It's weird and at the same time almost empowering to share. 

I had my follow up with my plastic surgeon about my fipples. I didn't sleep well last night and by the time of the afternoon appointment I had a killer headache. I realized I had been gritting my teeth and locking my jaw. The stress has been hard on my TMJ. As I waited to be called back, I couldn't help but wonder how they fix a fipple?  Or can they?  Is it just a lost cause?  Would he fix it in the office?  Should I have brought Pete?  I think waiting is the hardest part, my mind wanders and generally not to good things. 

Eventually I was seen. He cut away the (gross alert) dead skin and scabs. Yuk. He said I'm just a poor healer who makes thick scars. Great, another think to add to my list of physical issues. The nipple will have to heal in its own. So band aids with ointment for the next month. 

As for the thick scars?  I go back in 2 weeks for cortisone shots in them to hopefully flatten them out. I also have to wear tape or silicone scar pads on all my scars for the next 30 or do days. 24 hours a day. All.  The. Time. Apparently even the tape helps flatten the scar because of the pressure. Fun. Silicone sheets are $15-$30 a box and my body requires the whole box (told you I was cut hip to hip). The sheets should last a week and tape needs to be reapplied every day. And let's hope that I don't develop more blisters from the adhesive on the pads or the tape. Fun. 

Signed,
The poor healing, thick scarring woman

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

207; I Just Want To Be Done

I had a dream the other night. Everyone had to get annual check ups at a check in service. I was in a long line by myself for my check up. No one would listen to me about my mastectomy and they wanted a mammogram. It scared me and I felt I didn't need it, but staff insisted. I woke up crying and breathing hard. 

I'm 3+ weeks out from my revision and fipple surgery. I go on Thursday to get all the stitches out and have him check everything. 

My left one isn't healing well. It's got the same characteristics that my felt foob had. My foob had a spot underneath that wouldn't heal right. When he did my fipples, he cut the edges of skin out  to create new skin to new skin. I'm sure there's some way to do the same thing with this. I'm sure there's a way to fix it and make it work. 

But honestly?  I'm frustrated. I feel like I need an all clear from the doctors to move on with my life, return to me. Only something keeps dragging on and out and keeping me in this mode of recovery vs living. Mentally I need this clearance. I just want this all to be done. 

206.2; Life Goes On

Monday sucked. No other way to say it. 

Pete no sooner got to work than he was laid off. Every time it happens, it takes a little chunk of his confidence, a part of his soul. He'll get unemployment, but it's a hard struggle for another job. 

After dinner Pete was talking to a friend of ours. She sounded strange and eventually an ambulance was called. Today she is paralyzed on her left side from a stroke. She's had untreated high blood pressure and untreated diabetes. Her life has changed dramatically and she had a long road ahead of her. 

Sometime life dumps on you. But life goes on. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

204.6; Friday Fives

1. Oktoberfest, the redo, this weekend. I'm sticking up on chocolate, licorice and other bad for me foods. 

2.  I have to go by skylarks or sky people for my nephew's birthday. Anyone know what he means?  Certainly not a car or a human right?  It's some Wii game. 

3.  I'm fitting into my 14 work pants again, but they're snug. I had my band filled some more and I have a date with the gym this weekend. 

4. I'm saying prayers for some ladies who need them. 

5.  I'm trying to find someone to take our photo for Christmas cards I'll buy but never fully send out. Am I the only one who does this???

204.0; 90 Days

90 days.  3 months.

It’s been 90 days since my surgery.  When I think about it, it feels so long ago, as though it was years since surgery.  I’ve gone through recovery, follow up appointments, nights in the electric recliner, days at home by myself, returning to work.  All of it seems to equal a length of time that really isn’t there.  Maybe adding up the little things and all those lonely days at home recovery make a pile of days that seemed to extend well past 24 hours.

And yet, it’s only been 90 days.  That’s it.

Today I am better.  I’m healing physically.  The scars are getting less red and puffy.  The numbness seems to be subsiding form certain areas.  I have fake boobs and fake nipples and I look like me.  I can’t sit up without my abs really working hard and feeling like I’ve done 100 sit ups.  I still have some residual pain from the lump above my left foob.  And I have about 10 pounds to lose to be back at my pre-surgery weight.

But the inside?  That’s a mess.  There are days where the comprehension of what I’ve gone through crashes down like a truck and I cry.  There are days where I try to do something that was so easy to do pre-surgery and I fail.  There are days where I can’t seem to stop thinking about this choice that I made and I’m so emotional that my face is red all day.  I’m coming to realize that I don’t think I’ll ever be the me that was before surgery.  And that is so difficult to accept.  I’m hopeful that I can find something close to the me that was there.  Hope.

Daily it seems that I am bombarded with Pink-Tober for Breast Cancer Awareness.  I’m both drawn to read and look at everything I see.  Find out who is sponsoring it, who is selling it and who is donating.  And yet, every article or ad that I read seems to be like a stab to my inner soul; a pulling off of the scab that isn’t quite healed there.  I’ve read blog upon blog aboutPrevivors, breast cancer survivors and advocates for both.  I’ve read website upon website for raising money for cancer.  But what I’ve come to realize, is that very few are focused on the prevention of breast cancer.  Very few are focused on what exactly causes it; hereditary or environment.  Few seem to care about this and would rather focus on curing it.  

If you take anything away from my post today, it’s that I would rather have a prevention than a reaction.  After all, I prevented cancer with my choice, rather than react to it if/when I was diagnosed.  So when you see all the pink slashed across the TV, internet and stores, think about what you’re buying and WHY.  Understand if you’re giving $5 or 5 cents by buying it.  Find out who exactly it goes to, and what that organization does with the money.  I’m not saying that we should stop supporting those who are diagnosed or test positive for BRCA.  But I am saying that if you’re giving, make sure you know where your money is going.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

204.8; Random Facts

1.  Because of my surgery, I have numbness in my chest. I once (okay maybe three times to different audiences) pulled a Tera Reid. I've learned that those smocked tops/dresses without straps are NO good to me or others. 

2.  Because of surgery my abdomen is numb. If it wasn't for my booty, I'd have no idea if I was wearing panties. 

3.  Just once, I'd love to have a day in the office that doesn't include this:  "please fill out the form and have a seat as the sign directs you to."  For the love of baby fishes, please fill out the freaking form!!

4.  I have a dog walker. I feel so big city but I live in the outer 'burbs. 

5.  Oktoberfest #2 scheduled for the weekend!  Love me some German chocolate and licorice. 

6.  I sleep with more stuffed animals now than when I was a baby or a teen. They're all my dogs toys. 

7.  Pete has a new suit to use for warmth when he rides the motorcycle. You know those wind suits that ski hill jumpers use?  Think that on a Harley. Seriously. 

8.  If it's apple or pumpkin, I crave it currently. 

9.  I'm running out of randoms. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

204.4; Turning The Corner

I almost hate to say this, but I think that I've turned the corner back into weight loss and healthy living.  I got really lost all spring and summer.  So lost, at times I didn't know how to get back.  You know what got me back?  Not fitting into my work clothes.  *sigh*  But I'm back, to stay.

I'm re-energized by eating healthy, losing some weight and just feeling better about myself.  The weight loss from just stopping the crappy crappy food really jump started my loss and my better attitude.  I tried on a dress today that I bought 2 weeks ago.  I ordered the size I always order from this company and when I tried it on, it wasn't a-line, it was booty hugging.  I tried it on today and it fits much better, enough so that I'm considering wearing it soon.

I'm into all things pumpkin lately, because of the cooler weather.  I've cooked down lots of tiny pumpkins and pureed them for use later.  Only they never seem to make it to the freezer, they make it in things that I'm baking and cooking.

This is my favorite afternoon snack:

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon chia seed
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash vanilla

Wisk everything together until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours. 
The chia seeds will puff up and create a thick pudding that's really pretty good for you.  150 calories.

Monday, October 07, 2013

204.0!!!!!; Eating Better

According to my tracking, I've lost about 10 pounds in a week.

Only we all know that it's not a loss of 10 pounds of fat.  (I wish!)  I think it's interesting to see what happens when you make a commitment to eating clean(er) and your body.  I've never ever had this happen before so seeing it first hand is pretty cool.

I've been reading some body building and weight loss sights about the initial rapid weight loss.  From what I've read, it's about 2/3 water and 1/3 weight that I've lost.  6 pounds of water weight in a week.  Man, just how much salt and crap what I really eating? 

I'm having an easier time tracking my food now with My Fitness Pal.  They have a bar code scanner that makes it almost impossible to track.  And I'm surprised by what my week ended up being:

1.  I am almost always under by goal of 1500 calories when I add in 30 minutes of walking. 
2.  I eat a bit more cholesterol than was planned.
3.  I am under my sodium allowance for the week, but sometimes go over in a day's time.
4.  I am eating twice the amount of sugars than planned.
5.  I am getting almost 2 times the amount of vitamin A than planned, but only 1/3 of the potassium needed.

I need to figure out ways to resolve some of those for a better diet.  Another thing that I like about MFP is this:

This chart is going to be helpful for a new way of eating that I'm going to try to work in as best as I can.  Eating by macros.  I've been reading more about this too and can't wait to see if I can help achieve goals by doing this.

Do any of you eat by macros?


Friday, October 04, 2013

205.4; Friday Fives

1.  Yes, I'm still alive. I'm stuck in the office for a few weeks and can't blog on that computer. (Boo)

2.  I've lost 10 pounds since Saturday. Actually I think it's my body's dump of crap from it's stores and a couple of actual pounds. 

3.  I like My Fitness Pal. But I have no MFP friends. (Sad face)

4.  Pete and I are going to Oktoberfest tomorrow and I'm more excited for German chocolate than the beer. 

5. This week is National Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week. If you don't know your family history, FIND OUT!  That's an order. 

PS. This post was made from my teeny tiny iPhone. Not responsible for misspelled words or nonsensical autocorrects. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

208.6; Moving In the Right Direction?

The number is back.  That number before all of my blog entries.  Maybe part of my issue is that I put weight on without really noticing.  You see, I couldn't wear anything other than stretchy pants after surgery because of surgical scars, so no jeans or khaki pants.  And I stopped weighing myself with any frequency.  Initially it was depressing because I was so swollen from surgery so I stopped.  But I never picked it up again.  Thus the big crying fit when nothing I wear to work fits.

Weighing myself every day is a key to relearning my body - when it goes up and down and why.  I don't want to be trapped by the scale; live and die by the scale.  That said, I think it a a tool that I need right now to head back in the right direction.

So do I really think that I lost 5 pounds since Saturday?  Maybe.  I was drinking lots of carbonated soda, eating lots of sugar and not drinking as much water as I should.  I was also not moving a whole lot.  So the real answer is maybe. The thing is, I forgot how motivating even a little bit of loss is.  Even the 2 pounds over night to Sunday left me feeling motivated to keep going.  The continual losing is continual motivation.  And seeing that I can stay around 1500 calories and feel satisfied is also motivating. 

I'm in a job rotation where I need to be in the office all day, most days, for 3 weeks.  I'm using it as a jump start.  I move lots more when I'm doing that part of the job - up and down from my desk all day, talking, and walking through the building.  I drink lots of water at work (like 75 ounces a day) because it's dry both summer and winter.  And because I'm so busy there is no random snacking, continual snacking or anything like it.  This 3 weeks should jump start any eating right and water goals that I have.

As for exercise.  Well, Pete and I walked the Mall of America for a couple of hours on Sunday and then walked Ikea for an hour.  By the car ride home I was falling asleep.  My stamina to just do daily life is greatly diminished.  I'm really trying to build that up so that I can get up before work and walk at the gym and get back to Body Pump and running.  This 3 weeks will force me to just get up every day and do daily life.  I think I need that to get over this hump of inability to just do life and get back to where I'm working out daily again.

Do I feel better than Saturday night?  Absolutely.  Do my work pants fit me with the loss.  Nope.  Do I still hate the crap out of my "new" work pants?  YES.  But I'm going in the right direction.

Monday, September 30, 2013

From Hand to Mouth

After last week's whole pants incident I was pretty down. I had some great comments and reminders that this is all about being healthy and to keep trying. 

So I'm going to. 

But not until I decided to eat 1/3 of a sheet cake (not all at once) a quart of ice cream (again, not all at once), a large chocolate bar (in 2 'servings') and 8 cans of ginger ale.

 I was? am still? depressed about the whole thing and that's how us food addicts deal with emotions; we eat. 

Saturday night, as I ate my second piece of cake, I kept thinking this was nuts!  I want to lose weight, but I keep eating. I don't think I'm overeating, but I must be. Not to mention my choices. 

So you can follow me on My Fitness Pal as Shevyblue22. 

Accountability.
Food tracking. 
Exercising tracking. 
Black and white. 
No excuses. 

I want to get to 175 still, so that's my goal. When I weighted myself Saturday night, post cake, I was 214. Fuck. Really?  I lost 2.6 pounds overnight (goodbye cake!) and this morning I was 210.2. 

I am tracking everything that goes in my mouth, while I'm doing it. I'm stuck in the office for 3 weeks, which should increase my stamina a bit (or totally do me in) so that I can start walking at the gym when I go back to working from home. 

I'm on the better side of this and I know I just need to keep going. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Confessional; Seeking Forgiveness

I feel like I should be in the confessional at church asking my priest for some sin that I've committed.  My sin?  Gaining weight back, after working so hard ot lose it.

I had to try on pants yesterday because I'm working at the office for a couple of days and yoga/jeans are not acceptable.  None of them fit.  I could get none of them over my ass.  None. 

It makes me so frustrated to see that I had come so far and now I'm headed back in the wrong direction.  Call me Judgy McJudgerson, but when I used to read weight loss bloggers talk about a significant weight gain, I judged.  They fell off the food wagon and couldn't get back on.  I thought that I was immune to regaining my weight.  I have the gastric band, I have a good relationship with food and with the gym, I have a supportive husband. 

And I was so freaking proud of myself before surgery because although my gym going was sporadic, I had learned how to maintain my weight.  No I wasn't losing, but I also wasn't gaining. I thought I had such a good, reformed relationship with food and how to eat to maintain weight. 

And yet here I am, 6 months after this roller coaster of possible breast cancer and mastectomies and recovery and I am a good 15 pounds heavier than I was pre-surgery.  My body shape has changed, both because of my weight gain and my surgery.  None of my pants fit me, other than yoga pants.  I don't feel good about myself and my body and I don't fucking know how to make it all better.  I just want it all better.  I want my body and life that I had before it was all mashed up with biopsies and surgery and sitting around.

If I confess all my sins to you, can I get back to that place?  If I say 12 Hail Marys and study the food chart, will I be forgiven?  Can I forgive myself?  I'm frustrated and sad and I feel like I have no control over what is going on in my life!

And then it occurs to me that maybe that's why I'm eating.  Maybe my food relationship isn't all that great and I'm eating because I can't control the rest of my life.  But I can sure control that bag of Muddie Buddies Chex Mix going in my mouth.  Maybe that's the lesson in all of this.  I know putting that food in my mouth isn't making the control and emotions any better.  I know this.  It's not making the fact that I had both breasts removed and have fake boobs any better.  It's certainly not making my post surgical body image any better.  It's not making anything better.  Maybe that's the lesson in this.

I need to continue to accept that I am a disorganized eater with a broken relationship with food.  Instead of pushing the emotions away by trying to eat them, I need to recognize what I'm putting in my mouth at all times and why I'm eating it.  Instead of eating my life, I need to talk it out or write it out or exercise it out, hell even scream it out into nothingness.  But I can't continue to eat it.

Maybe there is a lesson in all of this.  Maybe I can ask for forgiveness.  But not from a priest, from myself.  I need to forgive myself and it's ok to do that.  My relationship with food will always be broken, but I have choices in how I deal with it.  Maybe the lesson is forgiveness and choices and learning to allow myself to have these periods and chose to get myself out of them.

So I bought pants.  And I hate them.  I absolutely fucking hate them with a passion.  They fit, they're nice pants, but I will always hate them because they are a size or 2 larger than what I was wearing before.

Monday, September 23, 2013

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step back

Surgery on Friday went well, at least I think so.  If I talked to the doctor after surgery, I have no memory of it.  Pete says that he told them it went well and everything was good. 

The large lump on my left chest area was dying fatty tissue.  He took out most of it, but said that if he took it all, there would be an indent and he didn't want that.  This worries me to be honest.  The Lump must be directly on my muscle and it presses when I try to exercise my chest.  It would actually shoot pain up through my neck and make that muscle pretty sore.  But I guess I need to trust that this surgery fixed most of the problems.

He also decided to fix the ugly scar and take the sebaceous cyst on my chest.  The thing is like a cat and has multiple lives.  Every surgeon has said that they got it all out.  Let's hope that he got it all this time.

I'm back to my back really hurting in the morning from the way that I must be sleeping.  The pain from the surgery sites wakes me up at night and I have to take another pain pill.  I'm trying to go without during the day and today is the first day back to working after surgery.  I'm cutting it short at 4 hours.  But I was supposed to have a full day tomorrow and Wednesday.  I'm not sure that I'm up to that and hopefully my co-workers understand this.

I feel like I took 2 steps forward in recovery and could do lots of things and feel pretty good and now I'm back to limited motions, pain and soreness.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Am One of Many

I remember after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Our family became involved in raising money for Susan Komen and American Cancer Society.  We went on walks and meetings and held events.  It was important to support my Mom in what she needed to do at that time.

I find myself taking a similar path.  And it occurred to me that what I really want is to know that I am not alone.  It'd not that I wish this on anyone, but for me life is about knowing that I'm not alone and making some connections.  I need to know that someone walked the same path I did, before I did.  That someone can tell me the way to go or give me hints on how to get to where I want to be.  This is what I did when I had my abnormal biopsy and when I wanted to lose weight; I reached out.

With my surgery looming on Friday 9/20/13, I find myself desperate to connect with others who have walked my path.  I've connected with FORCE and registered for what I could there.  Yesterday I Googled "Previvor" and started clicking links.  There are women out there who are Previvors, but I have yet to find a woman who isn't BRCA positive and still chose to have the mastectomy.  I sometimes wonder if I am an anomaly?  A one of a kind?

These are the blogs/sites that I found:

Previvor Generation:  A woman who's had mastectomy and is in the process of reconstruction.  She's honest.  And I love that.

High Risk Humor:  This woman was partially though her process and considering therapy.  She last posted in March so I'm not sure what happened.

Previvor:  This 23 year old woman documented her journey in video.  I'm amazed at the willingness women have to share and this is no exception.  I can't wait to watch her videos, probably after my surgery.

Three Sister Survival:  These 3 sisters were all diagnosed with breast cancer within the same year!  Talk about family history and risk of genetic cancer.

Brave Bosom:  This woman talks about all of the various aspects of BRCA, testing, media, insurance...  She is a wonderful writer and makes me think of things that I had not previously thought of.

Bright Pink:  I've not heard of this before, why?  They are an advocacy group for women who focus on the risk reduction and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women while providing support for high-risk individuals.  Me!  I sent an email about an event they are having in Minneapolis on 9/25/13.  I'm hoping that I feel well enough to attend.  Incredibly, I received a response almost immediately that the national contact was forwarding my email to the local contact.  I received a response that said if I'm not up to the event next week. to let her know when I am feeling better and she will meet me for coffee.

Still?  I am searching for that one woman.  That woman who isn't BRCA positive, didn't have cancer, but because of other risk factors chose to have the mastectomy.  Surely I'm not the only one?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

FORCE

3 weeks ago I received an email from one of the ladies from the support group that I went to.  They were going to have a table at the Minnesota Lynx basketball game and needed volunteers to help.  I immediately responded that I would help.  Without thinking about it.

The more that I thought about it, the more I wanted to do this.  I don't feel like a fake any longer when it comes to my surgery.  I feel caught in the middle.  I'm not a cancer survivor, I'm a previvor and that comes with it's own set of issues, emotional and physical.  I feel the need to connect with someone like me, to talk to someone who understands me.  Someone who made the same decision I did - surgery to prevent cancer. 

I showed up early and the group of us set up tables in the halls of the center, where game goers would walk through.  The posters showed women and had questions about genetic testing, breast cancer and the signs of ovarian cancer.  We had stickers for kids and business card sized information for adults.  The Lynx gave us some t-shirts to give away.

Our mission was to hand out information and answer questions.  There were members of FORCE.org, peer educators, women from Susan Komen organization, women from the MN Alliance for Ovarian Cancers, genetic counselors and people like me who had gone through testing and surgery.

You know what?  It was damn hard to give out that information.  Women would joke that they didn't need cancer.  They would turn their heads and not acknowledge us.  They would say they knew all about it.  The only time that they were willing to walk up to us is when we had the T-shirts or they knew one of us by the table.

I was disheartened.  Here I was ready to share my story after much soul searching and no one wanted to hear it.  And these are mostly women at this game, women of all ages.  One of the peer educators talked to me and said that about 70% of people don't want to know if they have a genetic predisposition to cancer.  They'd rather just live life.  At 27 that was me.  But now, at 43?  I wanted to know, needed to know that I was doing something to reduce my risk other than mammograms. 

So when I got home, I signed up to volunteer on the FORCE Organization website.  I don't know what all that entails, but I left that basketball game wanting to share my story with more women and wanting to support and be more involved with women like me.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I'm here...Anxious Again

I'm going through that rollercoaster of emotions again.

Friday I have my revision surgery to clear up some issues with my foobs (fake boobs) and I get my fipples (fake nipples). 

Again I think I'm in that place of "it will be over once this is over."  That place where I try not to think about what is coming, because if I did, I'd go nuts.  Maybe I am already nuts.

 I had a major nesting episode this past weekend where I  started cleaning.  Pete causally says "Are you bored?"  Wrong thing to say.  Nope, not bored, just cleaning a house that needs cleaning.  I think I tarted a fight to relieve some of my pressure and he started to respond, then told me to go away.  An hour later, we had both cleaned our anger away and apologized.

I'm struggling with the fact that I feel better.  I feel good enough that I'm working 8 hours a day (albeit at home).  I can clean for an hour (it exhausts me and I'm fast asleep by 8:30pm).  I can cook/bake (but take a nap in the afternoon).  It's a struggle because I keep telling Pete to go, ride his motorcycle, go to the store, walk and work out.  When I want to be doing those things with him.  Initially I told him to get out of the house and do stuff because it wasn't fair that he was stuck inside with me.  But partially I did that because I knew that I couldn't participate.  Now I think I can do it and it stings to watch him walk out of the house without me and make plans without me.

It must be like living with someone who is bi-polar, this living with me.

I've learned though, that I need to talk.  That I can talk.  And that it's ok to share.  I'm opening up a bit by bit and letting him understand some of what's in my head.  I hope that I can continue to do this, bit by bit.

So that's my story, for today and today only.  All of this may or may not change tomorrow.  It's just how my life is working right now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Today Has No Plan

Today has no revolutionary plan to change my life completely by Friday. 

I keep seeing on Pinterest this quote about if you're tired of starting over, don't quit anymore.  Well damn, that's a kick in the pants.

This is the thing, I don't think I quit.  I think that I was on am on this healthiness journey in life.  This marathon to the end.  And along the way, I needed to detour to do something else for my health.  Right?  I mean, who the hell cares if I'm skinny Michelle with rock hard abs and hips like a 13 year old if I have breast cancer and my body is ravaged by the side effects of chemo?

Keep trying.

I met with Dr July.  My very loved bariatric surgeon.  She is one of two doctors that I'd follow to the ends of the Earth for care if they left this area.  She's brutally honest and wants me to be honest too.  She's caring, but will tell me to kick it in gear when I need it.  She also doesn't have unreasonable expectations of me.

She noted that I gained 15 pounds since prior to surgery and about 5 pounds in the last month.  Clearly, my band is not where it needs to be to keep me from stuffing my face.  Clearly, I need this band to be set for me to help me eat in a way that is healthy.  It's convicned me that I really do need this band.  We talked for a while about how I've been doing and what's been stopping me from being healthy.  Really talked.

One of my issues is that I don't know how to work my abs and chest so that I'm not hurting them, but rebuilding muscle.  I can't walk/run because my abs are so weak and really a bit injured still from surgery.  So I'm on this cycle.  She referred me to a few sessions with a sports physical therapist to help me learn how to do that without hurting myself. 

She referred me back to eating 3 planned meals and 2 planned snacks a day.  To try this for a couple of weeks and if I can't sustain this, I need to make an appointment with the nutristionist for some check ups on my eating habits and patterns.

She referred me to their exercise specialist at the center.  I can meet with her as often as needed for help with appropriate exercises for healing and getting back to loving that daily workout.

And I committed to myself to be mindful of my eating again.  To ask myself why I'm eating before I put something in my mouth.  And to check myself for a healthier option to what I was/am about to put in my mouth.  Mindful eating.

So I have a plan.  But unlike the other plans, this is today.  I'll worry about tomorrow when it arrives.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Life *IS* Randoms

I was watching some TV show today talking about being authentic.  And I couldn't help but wonder if I needed therapy.  I mean, in the last 48 hours I've signed up to be an advocate for Force but actively spent hours wondering if I did the right thing in having surgery.  I'm irritated/frustrated about my inability to work out/run like I used to and hate the number on the scale, but eat chocolate cake and chex mix like it's my main sustenance. 

I think I have it all figured out at various points in my life, but when I look back on those episodes in life, I never really had much figured out.  What is clear to me is that I give pieces of my puzzle to everyone.  They help with that one piece and I bring it back to add it to the table.  The thing is that the piece changes a little with each fix and the puzzle no longer fits together.  So I cover up the empty spaces as best that I can to make the puzzle look whole.

When I met Pete I starting giving him more and more pieces to my puzzle.  And it was so liberating.  My heart soared and my soul was more free than it had been since I was a child.  The preverbal birds sang and hearts floated on air.  The issue?  I revert back into myself and start hoarding my pieces.  This causes me pain and issues and self doubt and all that crap floats back in my head.  I close off to Pete and he thinks that he is doing something wrong and he closes himself off.

Lets get one thing clear.  Well 2 things.  1.  I love Pete with my heart and soul.  2. Closed off people cannot succeed in a relationship and be truly happy.

So I come back to the thought - Do I Need Therapy?  I've never done it before.  Well, no, that's not true.  I've done some sessions for my TMJ back when I was a teen and I've done some sessions for an assessment for my lap band/gastric band.  I know that there are people who are totally against it.  I know that there are people who participate and keep it secret.  Then there are people who sign from the rooftops about therapy.

Maybe I'm tired of trying to hold my puzzle pieces in place.  Maybe I'm tired of not being able or feeling like I can show anyone my puzzle.  Maybe I just want someone to validate my thoughts and let me know that I'm normal, or at least working towards normal.

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Emotional Toll

I thought I had it all worked out. I spent hours with Pete talking 5 years ago when my Mom was tested for BRCA.  We talked about how having a mastectomy would change myself, and in turn change our lives.  I had it figured out after spending so much time talking.  It would change me, but I could get through it.  And I had it all figured out. 

When my mammo was abnormal and my path changed and I thought I had it all figured out.  I had spent all that time talking and thinking and figuring it all out.  But the reality is that I didn't.  I have this self doubt that is creeping in.  I have a lack of confidence that is disheartening.  I can't help but wonder if I did the right thing.

I spent so much time prior to surgery getting physically and mentally ready for surgery.  When I let myself think too much, I was an emotional mess and spent the day or days in bed crying.  I tried to focus on the positive and often put a smile on for those around me.  I planned and wrote lists and made calls, all things to keep me busy. 

I spent the days after surgery trying to physically recover.  This was a hard surgery.  Even now, 60 days later, I hurt and have muscle soreness and pain.  And I remember remarking to someone, about 30 days out, how surprised that I wasn't more of an emotional basket case.  I kept waiting for the emotions to bubble up and flow out.

The last couple of weeks, as I try to resume my life from before April, I noticed that I was more emotional about random small things.  While I can potentially attribute some of this to my cycle (I'm still learning my body's new/other cues), I can't blame it all on that.  I've had some long crying jags and intense discussions with Pete, along with car rides where I don't remember getting from point A to B.  The emotional part has kicked in.  Hard.

I think I'm in the middle of grieving my old life.  I've done this before.  My failed and destructive TMJ surgeries led me to grieve the life that I would have had without the daily pain.  I was well out of grief when I could look back and see that's what had happened.  I had no idea what was happening while in it and likely held most of it in, leaving no one to point out to me what was going on while I was in it.  This time I have an inkling of what's going on.  But as with any grieving process, it's different for each person and each time.  The difference is that I can't go this alone and I shouldn't go it alone.

It's a struggle.  I spent so much of my life relying on me.  Living in my head, figuring out things myself and living my own problems out.  But I can't expect to not let Pete in.  I can't expect him to support me, without knowing what I'm thinking and what I need from him.  I need to let him in.

I've come to realize today, that I think I'm second guessing myself.  Second guessing if I should have had the surgery.  I'm caught in this no mans land of being a previvor, not having cancer, but having a pretty big probability of having it at some point.  I'm struggling with body image, self confidence and figuring out how my life looks today and forward.  What if it was all for nothing?  What if I took the wrong path?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

We Are Women Who Try

So um, over the long weekend, this happened:

One half marathon registration?  Check.
Scared shitless?  Check.
Did it to show Pete that I could really hit the submit button?  Check.
Signed up on the 29th so I could get a free shirt from this year? Check.
Forgot about it 1 hour after I signed up? Check.

Then, this happened:

I attended the expo for this year's race.  Then I sent the following text to Pete:  "Holy Shit, I signed up to run 13.1 miles in less than 3.5 hours."  He replied that I needed to breathe and believe.

And you know what?  He's right.  I can do this.  I can accomplish this goal if I put my mind to it.  I'm worried that I'll be bumped off the course by the hay wagon with the "not good enough" people.  Shhh...don't tell anyone...but even if that happens, it's ok.  You know why?

I TRIED.

Because not trying?  That gets me nowhere in life and it took me a long time to realize it.  It took me a lot of lost opportunities to realize that I could have gone a different direction, accomplished something or met someone.  Not trying isn't an option anymore.

Women Rock Minnesota is a pretty new race.  This was only the second year it was held here.  I think it attracted me partly because it's only females running.  Not that women are inferior to men, but it's less scary (to me) to be running against other women.  I think it's the same thing as a female only gym.  It's not a perfect body completion while you're working out.

This is the race I've been wanting to run.  This is the race I've been dreaming of.  This is the one that I want to finish.  I can do it, right?

PS.  I've never run in a race, just on my own.  I currently can't even sit up without help from my arms because the mastectomy reconstruction took blood supply from my bottom ab muscles.  But I can do this.  I can.