Is it hot in here?

Yowza! The last two weeks, the hot flashes episodes were off the charts. I even checked my temperature one night just to make sure I wasn’t overlooking a fever. They’re like how they were when I was going through chemo.

During the first few cycles of the Lupron, the hot flashes were just that…flashes. I’d blink and then they were gone. I thought they were a piece of cake. Ha. Hahahaha.

I should have known better. Nothing about life with C was easy, why should anything after C be easy?

I have an appointment with Dr YB tomorrow, so I’ll talk hot “flash” management with him then. That and sleep. I’ve had a heck of a time falling asleep this last week, which I don’t believe is related to the hot flashes since they don’t necessarily occur together. I forget what number my infusion cycle is tomorrow, but I know it’s close to the end. I want to say I have one or two more after this.

I also have an appointment with Dr H tomorrow. I’ll get drained again. I know this because I can tell there’s extra juice in my abdomen. Yay.

I’m restarting my clean eating tomorrow, and exercise, I’m looking forward to fueling my body with stuff that’s good for me again. I felt so good, physically, when I was eating clean before the surgery, and I wish I could have kept up with it post-surgery, but my appetite was just so off that I felt like I needed to just eat what I could.

Also, I’m creating a team and registering for the local Komen Race for the Cure. I’ll post the details here once I’ve got it all together, in case anyone is interested in joining or supporting the efforts. It’ll be Saturday, September 22.

Three down, one to go…

So this is a little late, but I had my follow up appointments with Dr H and Dr JB on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Dr H – Drain removed from left hip. Hopefully right hip drain will slow it’s roll, and the numbers will be low enough for it to be removed at my appointment on Monday. Seems like I’ll be losing my right nipple, it’s back to its black color regardless of the ointment/Vaseline. I’m ok with that. Dr H said we can reconstruct that later on, if I want to. My tummy wound is opening a little bit, but not a lot. (Seriously don’t Google it!)

Dr JB – Pretty much said the same stuff as Dr H. I did ask about these tiny little blister bumps I have around my chest. It seems that the surgical bra, that I have to wear like all the time, is irritating my skin. Yay! So I’m trying to give myself breaks from it, and I’ll wear a tight tank top to keep things contained instead. They also recommended lotion for the rash.

It’s just been a blah week for me. Lots of emotional ups and downs. I’m ready to go back to normal, you know? This has been dictating my life for several months, and I want to dictate my life again. I want to be able to go run errands and not be exhausted. I want to work! (Which I’m doing a little of next week whether anyone likes it or not!)

The week after next we go on vacation. I’ll be chilling poolSIDE for a week, unable to actually get in the pool due to my wounds not being fully closed. When we get back from the trip, I plan to return to work. I’ll have an appointment with Dr YB for my infusion and Lipton shot Monday the 18th, and I’ll probably have a follow up with the surgeons that same day.

I’m anticipating being in much better shape by that point. I think the key is going to be doing a little each day and gradually building myself up. I think I’m being too sporadic, and that’s the problem. Like going 75% one day, 50% the next, then 100%, 0%, and then back to 50% isn’t helping. It’s inconsistent and I think it’s confusing my body. So I’m going to try to start small and keep going up. I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself too far, I just feel like I haven’t been building myself up, I’ve just been randomly diving in, depending on my mood.

Anyway, something else to note is that I haven’t had much of an appetite post-surgery. I’ve had hunger, but I’m not 3-square-meals hungry. Like it’s after 1, I haven’t eaten, and I’m not even a little hungry. So, needless to say, I haven’t been sticking to my eating plan. I’ve been trying to focus on protein when I do eat, since I know I’m not getting a good sampling of nutrients and that’s the key nutrient for healing. I’m certainly not starving, I do get random cravings throughout the day and snack. I get late night cravings, too, and I have healthy snacks like fruit. I always eat dinner, it’s just breakfast and lunch are sometimes a wash. I am also having my Shakeology every day, which helps with protein and other nutrients. So hopefully my appetite will sort itself out soon and I can get back on track with Portion Fix.

Oops.

I’m pretty sure I have a pulled muscle in my lower back. I consulted Dr. Google with my symptoms and the location, and it makes sense. It’s tender in certain positions, but particularly when I take deep breaths. So there’s a muscle in your lower back that works with your diaphragm, and it can be pulled or strained.

This doesn’t surprise me considering some of the odd ways I’ve had to maneuver to get myself up and down, laying and sitting, shimmying and scooting…all while trying not to put too much pressure on my upper arms and abs.

And of course, I’m probably doing more than I should in general, but I feel good so it’s hard to not try a little more when I think I can. Despite what anyone says, there’s no rule book for recovery. Everyone is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I was told to listen to my body, and I have been. I didn’t pull a muscle running a 10k, I probably did it doing something simple, something we all take for granted when we’re healthy and operating at full capacity.

Anyway, needless to say I’m taking a step back and trying to not be as mobile as I’ve been, which is so incredibly frustrating because the walking is fine. I’m good at it even. But unfortunately the getting up and down and readjustment of positions is sometimes a problem. I just hope the increased sitting doesn’t hurt my posture, because I was doing great with that!!

(Did you check out the new title and banner?? Progress!!)

Work for strong, not for skinny.

When I’m bored, or when the app icon has a little red notification tag, I go Pinterest hopping.

I have to admit, it’s given me tons of great ideas over the years. Some I’ve tried, some I’d like to try, some I never will try, but are there for wishful thinking.

Like everyone else, I’ve got boards for food, home, sayings, etc. I have a Breast Cancer board with random tattoo ideas, words of wisdom, and miscellaneous ideas. I’ve also got a Fit Inspiration board I filled with lots of inspirational words for me to reflect on and to motivate me when I don’t want to lift my middle finger, let alone a dumbbell.

Anyway, I was scrolling today and saw this one and immediately pinned it.

Work for strong. Not skinny.

In retrospect, when I started doing Beachbody back in March, I had skinny on my mind. It wasn’t the entire pie, but it was a respectably sized piece.

But now, as I sit here in recovery, I realize that regardless of my mindset at the time, my results were more strong than skinny, and that has made the real difference.

Am I dead lifting one week post op? Heck no. But am I pacing the house, going for walks, getting up and down by myself? Heck yeah!

If I had achieved skinny, but not strong, I probably wouldn’t have the energy to rise and shine every morning (or afternoon after a much needed nap!).

So I guess my point is that exercise doesn’t have to be about getting skinny. It’s about being fit and healthy and having all the right kinds of energy. It’s being able to use the bathroom independently post-surgery. It’s about so much more than a number on the scale.

If you want to chat about what I did to get strong, and what I’ll be returning to as soon as I can, let me know!

Advice: Fit for Surgery

Whenever you feel well enough, exercise. This was a huge help for me before my mastectomy. I finished chemo in January and started to feel human in February. In March, I started exercising and eating well again. It may not seem worth it to exercise for such a short time (I had about 6 weeks between feeling good and my surgery), but it has made a huge difference.

Squats are fantastic because that’s how you’re going to want to sit down/lower yourself onto a chair or the toilet.

Overall leg strength is also so important because you can’t use your arms except for some no pressure balancing. You’re going to want your abs to be strong, even though they’re going to feel sore. They’re probably not actually sore though, it’s just the belly skin pulled tightly. You’ll need your abs to shimmy into position when you can’t use your arms, and you’ll need them to sit up, lay back, and gain balance.

Of course you can do these things with assistance, but you are eventually going to have to do it alone, and that’s a good thing, as long as you’re not pushing yourself with too much, too fast. But if you’re anything like me, you’re going to want your independence back ASAP.

Listen to your body, but don’t be afraid. I was terrified to sit up because I thought my gut was going to come out. It’s irrational, but the thought was there. That’s the kind of afraid you don’t need to be. Your gut isn’t going to fall out. Not even when you cough.

Don’t over do it, but don’t be afraid to try.

And of course, the sequence of your treatment or your physical condition may not allow for exercise. You may feel like garbage all the time, or you may have your surgery immediately, with no time to prepare. You may not be able to or even want to do it the way I was able to, but if you can even just squeeze in some walks or squats or lunges, you’ll thank yourself later, trust me!

Post-Op: Part III

I may have mentioned that I’m sleeping off and on, and at random due to the pain pills and muscle relaxers, which is to be expected. I was mostly awake during the day yesterday, and slept through most of the night. My tail bone is totally sore though, so I can’t wait to get up.

So every day post-op I have different goals. The day of surgery was just bed rest. I had the catheter and didn’t get up for anything. The next day, yesterday, was to get up and move to the chair, and use the bathroom so the catheter could come out. I passed that with flying colors, and I honestly fell back on some of my exercise techniques in order to do that. Today the goal is to walk the halls, which I am looking forward to since it’s more movement! And tomorrow with be bathing.

I’ve had the same night nurses, day nurses, and techs, which definitely makes it more comfortable since they get to know me and how I like to move, etc. So that’s pretty cool. Plus they’re awesome! I got very lucky. The hospital is also super quiet, so I get a lot of attention if I need it.

You know I’d mention the hospital food. It’s not bad at all. Yesterday, I had eggs, hash browns, and a blueberry muffin for breakfast. Lunch was baked chicken with gravy, rice, and veggies. And dinner was roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy, and creamed spinach. I mean, it’s hospital food, so it’s not epic, but it’s pretty decent. Plus, I’ve got lots of snacks people have been bringing by.

I’ve had some visitors, and they’ve brought healthy snacks, not so healthy snacks, drinks, etc. So I’ve had quite the variety as far as food goes, which is nice. I also have lots of pretty flowers and balloons.

Those photos were the best I could do from my bed. 🙂

For the first 24 hours I couldn’t eat, so I was doing ice chips and water, which was totally OK since they have ice like Sonic has…crunchy ice. I’ve even asked for it after I was cleared to eat. Yum!

TV stinks, so I’ve been trying to entertain myself with the occasional re-run, napping, blogging, and checking FB and my emails. I’m working on reading, but I’m mostly still too groggy for that.

Fun Fact: whenever a baby is born in the hospital, they play a lullaby over the loudspeaker. One of my visitors was a coworker who brought her baby boy who was born here in March! So adorable.

Post-Op: Part II

Still a little drowsy from the meds, but I just had dinner so I’m feeling a little surge of energy and alertness, so I thought I’d try to squeeze in another post.

I had a catheter. They inserted it while I was unconscious, so that’s cool, because apparently that’s what’s uncomfortable about it – having it out in while you’re awake. So yay. It was kind of neat to just be able to pee without thinking about it. There were periods of discomfort, mostly due to the positioning of the drainage tube. It was uncomfortable when they pulled it out, too, but it’s not like they yanked it. They did it gently.

I’ve gotten up to pee three times since the catheter has been removed. Standing up is uncomfortable because I want to use my arms to push up and stabilize myself, but I can’t. I also feel like my abs are going to jump out of my body. I think it’ll be much easier to do once I get over those things. The first time I tried to sit to pee was a struggle, but the second time I remembered my squats and it was a piece of cake. Laying down hurts when I engage my abs. The nurses hold my back and lower me, but it’s nearly impossible to just release my abs and let them do the hard work. So that’s another thing I need to get over.

The last thing I remember before the surgery was the anesthesiologist saying he was going to sedate me a little bit to do the nerve block, which I remembered from the lumpectomy. He inserted the medicine into my IV and it was game over. I vaguely recall telling Dr H about my successes with losing inches around my mid-section, and saying something about wanting big boobs. That’s about it! Then I woke up in recovery. So while the world was passing hours upon hours, I was in an amazing time warp!

And I do have big boobs apparently. Double the size. Yowza!

Anyway, getting groggy again so I’ll talk to you later!!

I also apologize if there are typos in any of these post-op posts. I’m not proofreading, and I’ve only got one eye open half the time. Ha!

TTFN

Ten Years?!

Last week, on May 3rd, Brad and I celebrated our ten (10!!!) year wedding anniversary. I honestly don’t feel old enough to be married for 10 years, but I definitely am. I’m old enough to be married longer, but it just seems weird. We’ve been together for 15 years! Almost half my life. Crazy.

Each year, for our anniversary, we head to Concord, NC for Carolina Rebellion with Brad’s brother, Jeff. It’s a three day rock music festival held up at the campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sort of like what I imagine Woodstock would have been, complete with the dirt and the stink. We don’t camp, though. We stay in a hotel, conveniently located directly across the street from the event. Because beds and showers, duh. I can’t imagine being sore and hot from being on my feet in the heat all day long, then having to sleep on the ground. Heck no.

Anyway, this year was as much fun as years passed. We get VIP tickets so we can leave the venue and gain re-entry later on, which we took advantage of when there were bands playing that we were less interested in seeing. We love to experience as much of the festival as we can, but sometimes we need a break.

I’ve been staying on my food and exercise plan as much as I can. It’s not easy eating clean at a music festival, but I’m doing the best I can and opting for the least processed foods. Surprisingly, it’s not impossible since there are a lot of food trucks at the event and you can get things that aren’t greasy or fried. I’ve also been exercising at the hotel (thank you Beachbody® On Demand!). I did cardio and yoga, and it felt good. Just the right balance of energy and stretching. My feet and legs didn’t get nearly as sore as they usually did at the event, and I think that goes back to my increased endurance from staying active over the last few weeks.

Anyway, if you like rock music and haven’t been to one of these festivals, I highly recommend going. Carolina Rebellion is awesome, but there are others that are part of the same series, like Rock on the Range (Ohio), Welcome to Rockville (Florida), Rocklahoma (Oklahoma), and more. So much fun.

And a lot of people say, “Aren’t you too old for that?” The answer is “No.” There are all ages at these shows, and I mean that. Babies to seniors, no joke. There was a woman in her 80s crowd surfing one year…someone in a wheelchair, even. You don’t have to be in the center of a mosh pit to be at a concert, there are plenty of safer, calmer places to be and still have a good time.

Plus, I’m a firm believer that you’re only as old as you feel. Some days I feel like I’m 100 years old, other days I don’t. Bottom line: I’m going to enjoy myself.

Port Shift?

When I got the port place, it felt awkward. It was like, “Holy crap, there’s something popping out of my chest.” Not actually popping our of my chest, but it’s there and it’s foreign and it’s weird. I still sort of feel that way, but I’m used to it.

So back to the beginning. I remember being afraid that if I sneezed a really good sneeze, like one of those muscle-popping sneezes, that the port would just pop out of my chest. I can’t explain why I felt that way, or how I thought that could happen, but I totally did. I presented this concern to the doctor, even though I was fairly sure it was an irrational concern. She said not to worry, that port wasn’t going anywhere.

Challenge accepted.

Enter jump castle. Correction. Enter jump castle obstacle course.

I thought it would be wise to show how great my endurance was and how quickly I could move through the jump castle obstacle course since I’ve been getting so much exercise, building muscle, etc. So after going through it once solo, I decided to race my sister-in-law.

You can imagine how this went. Long story short, we collided somewhere in the middle. She sprained her wrist, I overstretched my left arm, and I’m pretty sure I popped a stitch on my port because there’s a little wobbliness that wasn’t there before.

Shrugs.

I’ll see my surgeon this week and she can check it out, but everyone at the oncologist said it looked okay. It is attached to my jugular, so if there was an issue, I’d know about it by now. It’s been over a week and I’ve had an infusion through it, and nada.

So yeah…if you have a port…maybe jump castles aren’t the best place to be…or at least a jump castle race might not be the best decision.

Oh! I did win the race against my sister-in-law, but I then challenged my brother-in-law and lost miserably.

Second moral of the story – when you’ve got something crazy going on with your toenail, jump castles might not be the place to be.

Physical Therapy

I’ve had a few physical therapy sessions now. We do various exercises to stretch my right shoulder, and then started doing the same with my left since I fell in the jump castle at my niece, Gabby’s, birthday party, and super stretched that side. They did say I probably increased the range of motion on that side, though…so there’s that. Everyone got a good laugh. Yay, I’m funny.

Anyway, the stretches feel nice, and they’re easy and practical enough that I can do them at home as well. They’ve also told me that they don’t usually get people who come in who are already exercising, so that’s pretty cool. I guess most of the time people are injured, so they can’t exercise.

I’ve been taught some simply lymphatic massage techniques, too. Ways to sort of wake up the lymph system, particularly on my right side where some of the lymph nodes were removed.

The exercises are not strenuous at all, but I can see how they may become so after I’ve had the surgery and am sore in the shoulder area.

So, surgery is just a few days away now and I’m doing my best to stay active and energized! And positive, of course.