Friday, April 29, 2011

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blogging...

My momentum has been cruising forward all week. I joined LA Fitness on Tuesday and ran a treadmill 5K in 23:53 the same morning. That night I came back with Valerie and we did Pilates, that class is no joke! Wednesday I went in with Sheila and then Thursday I ran 4 miles before sitting down for a personal fitness assessment. Apparently I need to drop fat and gain muscle if I want to hit my goals, so now I get to learn the correct way to do so. I've been on a fitness high all week, faithfully chugging my protein shakes, eating my fresh produce, and shunning all animal products possible. You may ask if I have a point... I do... I am proud of myself! Just this Monday I teetered on the edge of a downward spiral, but by sheer determination I turned it around, go me!

That is all. Carry on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No More Hello Kitty Blankets

One day can make all the difference if you give it no other choice. This morning I felt Mica crawl into bed with me, and wrap her tiny arm around my waist. Before I even opened my eyes I knew today would be a good day. The sun would be out, I would feel better, and I was going to the gym come hell or high water. I opened my eyes to find both JT and Mica right in my face, waiting for Mommy-Bot to get up and serve them. Instead I grabbed them and distributed a million kisses evenly among them both before popping out of bed and stretching. I adjusted my neck and felt the stiffness settle in, and when JT asked what was for breakfast my stomach growled warningly at me, but still I kept moving. I made the bed, got dressed, and hustled the kids. All the while the pain in my neck (brain stem!) began to warm up, but instead of giving in to it, I ignored it. Everything in the fridge triggered my nausea, so I just grabbed a protein shake and started chugging. After I deposited my ducklings at school I headed up to LA Fitness for the first time. My Bally's contract just ended and I was in the market for a new gym. An hour later I had signed up and was pounding away on a treadmill, hitting stop just as I reached 3.1 miles in 23:53. I sucked in air and my stomach lurched menacingly, but I just kept moving, down the stairs to the mats, and stretched deeply. When I left the sun was shining, a breeze was blowing, and I was right on time to grab Mica from class and get a huge kiss. Afraid to lose my momentum, I came straight home and mopped, cleaned the kitchen, and fed Mica, finally settling down right here and getting work done online. The pain is with me but I renounce it, taking away its power, and ignoring its pleading calls to lay on the couch with my Hello Kitty blanket. I have no time for Hello Kitty blankets, I have a life to live, and what a difference a day, and an attitude, can make.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Earlier this month Paul and I packed our bags, left our kids and dogs in other people's care, and booked a hotel room in Palo Alto so I could go through 3 days of Cyberknife treatments on 3 tumors in my thoracic spine. They looked like 2 on the first scans, but turned out to be 3, all facing each other with my spine in the middle. They had only grown slightly since making an appearance a couple of years ago, but that growth has been steady and measurable, so with Dr. Adler's help I got set up with his team at Stanford and had these suckers zapped. You may remember just last month I had 3 small and 1 long brain tumor all treated with Gamma Knife in Newport Beach, so after this treatment my grand total for Spring Cleaning would be 6 tumors in 2 months. Seriously? All of the treatments were outpatient, and Cyberknife specifically was very easy to go through. I called my treatments my "Radiation Naps." Paul and I even ran the Golden Gate bridge one afternoon after leaving the Cancer Center, and I only had about 3 days of nausea to remind me that anything had happened at all.

Now I am home, and it has been a few weeks. Paul is back to work, I am training for a 5K and the kids are ready for the end of the school year. My hair started falling out last month but as of now seems stable, however my scalp itself has a weird burn over it. It just hurts, and I can't pull my hair up or back, so I have given in and started sporting a loose soccer Mom ponytail. Every time I glance in the mirror I look sloppy, thrown together, and I am reminded of the truth I so studiously avoid, that the inside of my body doesn't look the way it is supposed to. That I am growing things from the inside out, and there is no cure, and if they keep growing they will slowly take over my brain and spine, and if I am lucky I'll have a sudden aneurysm or just go to sleep and never wake up, but most likely I can look forward to several years of being in a nursing home before I go. I get all of that from a sloppy ponytail. What can I say, its a gift.

Now over this weekend the nausea has come back, and I was hoping to loose a few inches of belly fat from it, but of course I am still hungry as always. My pot belly demands carbs even in the face of nausea. The nausea itself doesn't concern me, but then my brain stem started hurting. (You know you have NF2 when you say brain stem instead of neck.) Then my feet started cramping under again, and my head started ringing... louder than it always does. I whined to Paul that everything hurts, and he nodded sympathetically and went back to watching Smallville on tivo. I wondered aloud if MoFo could be swelling, or if maybe it was just the lack of sleep and abundance of junk food I had stolen from the kids' Easter baskets. Paul shrugged noncommittally, but he did gently rub my neck (brain stem!) until I relaxed.

I woke up slowly, and immediately realized the pain and nausea stuck it out through the night, and "I no feel good" as Mica would say. So I am most likely dealing with a bit of post-rad swelling, which could be a good thing because it means the treated area is reacting. I like to picture the tumor screaming a little as it visibly withers and dies. I'm wandering around half-heartedly cleaning my condo and spending too much time online playing Bejeweled, I can't face the world right now, it irritates me too much. I just can't with some people, I watch them and imagine what it would be like to have a normal life to take for granted and throw away as people seem intent on doing. To expect to live another 30 years (at least) and be able to hear and meet people and listen to music, and ride a bike without falling over, and wear a tank top without people asking what the hell is wrong with my back, and not wonder if a picture I just took will be put up at my funeral. What is it like to just live a typical life? To be asked how I'm doing and answer "Great!" without a hint of irony, to go an entire week without saying tumor, to spend a vacation somewhere other then the hospital, to cough without wondering if a tumor is causing it?

The fact is that this is my life, this is what I get, and I am doing the best I can with it. I fight, I run, I push, I write, and sometimes I yell and I cry. I am human and I am flawed. I'm not always a role model, but at my worst I hope to at least inspire people to question their perception of reality, and to remind people that life is complicated, but life is beautiful. We require pain to appreciate joy, and I may struggle but I am alive, loved, safe and blessed to know how amazing that is in a world like ours. The nausea will fade, but I never will.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

From Cupcakes to Bikinis

I should say that taking a 2 week break to do nothing but sleep, eat cupcakes and cuddle was a bad idea. In actuality it was genius, and definitely a great use of my time. Tomorrow reality comes crashing back in the form of Monday and I am ill-prepared to say the least. I didn't bother to get the kids back on schedule a couple of nights ahead of time, or to detox them from all the junk they have consumed. I am going to show up at their schools tomorrow and drop them off exhausted and filled with remnants of 2 weeks of cupcake sugar, then me and my pot belly will be escaping to the gym for some punishment. I have only worked out twice this entire time, and haven't even been doing my daily yoga. I look like a puffalump and if one more person asks me if I am pregnant I am going to tell them no I just went to the schmashmortion clinic but thanks for asking.I know all the cool moms are doing Insanity right now, but I am not good at following through with home routines. I have to get out of the house and once I escape you have to drag me back, so I will typically work out for up to 3 hours 3 times a week. I am still learning how to best use
that time, and becoming more efficient as I devour issues of Men's Health. Keep in mind this routine is the foundation, but I constantly change little things to avoid a plateau, keep my muscles guessing, and avoid burn out. Also, remember to always maintain proper posture, keep your belly button drawn close to your spine, and do every move from your core. Here is the current version, and it is rocking for me in a hurts when I sneeze kinda way.

Warm Up: Treadmill 5K in under 25mn
Weights: all supersets = Do every move 10 times, repeat that section 3 times without stopping.
Rest only after all 3 sets of 10 are complete before moving to next station. Please wipe your
sweat off the machine!
A. Medicine Ball sit ups on Bosu Ball
B. Go from laying flat to touching feet while holding pilates band
C. Lay in a pilates V shape and pulse hands near sides 100 times.

A. Chest Press on weight bench
B. Scoot to bottom of weight bench so lower body hangs off and do 10 of each: leg lifts, leg curls, bicycles, scissors, point toes high and flex feet up and down, lower into plank and pulse...

A. Incline Squats
B. Pulse 30 times on squat machine
C. Alternating lunges

A. Set resistance weight machine to a height right above your head, use rope attachment, face machine and holding posture grab rope and slowly lower to upper thighs, and slowly return to start.
B. Pulse 20 times near middle of move.
C. Roman Chair leg lifts, slowly
(how you feeling!?)

A. Free weight bicep curls
B. Tricep dips off edge of bench
C. Stretch upper back with resistance band

Ta Da! Part 2 is done... now...
Cardio! Cross Trainer for 1 hour (I am only up to 45mn) Start out at a comfortable setting (6)and move quickly for 2 minutes, once warmed up increase setting super high (13) and keep moving. You should feel like you are running uphill with bricks on your feet! "Run" for 3 mn, go back to first setting. Repeat this 2mn/3mn pattern for the entire workout. 2 "walk" 3 "run." Make sure you have a towel and water!
Stretch Now move to a mat for some yoga! 5 sun salutes, then stretch legs every way, then
back to sun salute but slowly, stretching deeply in each pose for at least 3 to 5 deep breaths.
When you come to stand up, exhale, lean down to touch your toes, as you slowly roll yourself back up inhale deeply and guide energy through your entire body. As your hands pass your head reach up and out, exhale, releasing all of the strain out to the universe and feel it dissolve. Continue this move as many times as you need to feel really cleansed and finally end in...
Namaste and thank God for the ability to work out like you just did!

Well that is what I do at the gym right now, putting it down motivates me to stick to it, and
maybe one of you will draw some sort of inspiration from it. Either way, if I actually stopped taking cupcake breaks and did this 3x a week for even 3 months I would be ripped! I am tired of
"woulda" and "coulda" so tomorrow it is on like Donkey Kong. I think that freakish heat wave earlier this week was the universe's way of reminding me it is almost summer and time to shed the winter layer! I don't want thinspiration, I want fitspiration!
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