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. 

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


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, 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?


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.