Back Baby Steppin’

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This is me socializing in the park. Even my lunch dates require exercise now!

There so many exciting things are happening in my life right now. I am volunteering at the library, getting to know new people, writing more and exercising more. I have not had an episode of pain in two weeks. I am delighted. My husband is relaxed and I am making very small progress on all areas of my life. I am cooking, walking, and stretching a lot more. I am in the zone.

Something that is helping me besides being pain free for two weeks is this new deal I have with myself. If I do not write at least an hour a day, then I have to forgo my modem and give it to my husband to take with him to work. Without the router I have no internet and no TV because we have no cable. So I have nothing to research with while writing or entertain me while I clean. This is an even bigger motivator to jump start myself than the writing I am already doing. Once I get writing I get more excited about the writing. So this is just a jump start to get the fingers moving! It has worked. This week I have written every day.

I have also met my pedometer goal every day and done yoga three times. I even tried to do a yoga video called Power Yoga with Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee is a yoga instructor born in my native state of Oklahoma. (I just found that out!) He is a very handsome man who apparently only owns pants. These pants are made of spandex and are usually neon colors. I like his calm voice and dulcet tones, but I think I want to branch out. I think that I need something called Half Power because I had a lot of trouble doing those yoga moves so quickly. Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog —  Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog…sweaty sweaty sweaty sweaty but I was done when he got to Half-moon pose and fell over because my knee didn’t like it very much.  So I stopped but was proud of myself for attempting and making it about half way through. It’s been a long time since I even put in an exercise DVD. Actually I think last time I put a video in it was a VHS tape.

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Lynne my library lunch date!

I am also cooking more so my husband and I are eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I got back into making smoothies and eggs with veggies for breakfast. Leftovers for lunch and for dinner I am cooking fresh salads, veggie filled pastas and I make delicious veggie tacos.  I am not saying I haven’t had weird pizza roll dinners once or twice but I have been making great strides to getting my healthy habits back.

It feels like I am just bragging in this post but I feel as if I must after what I have been through lately. I am now looking forward to progressing but more importantly, the most encouraging development is coming back to the program feels inevitable. If I have to put my exercise plan on hold for a month because of pain and there be no doubt I will get back to it when I feel better, then that means I am officially a person who works out. It am not a poser. I am the real deal.

 

Is it Always Darkest Before the Dawn?

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Out in the city, sick as a dog

I have been sick and this is the first time in two weeks I have even opened my laptop. I am still getting over a super stuffed up nose, hacking cough, and my own brand of sickness induced asthma. It has been not so fun, of course. Something I have figured out is that being sick in a big city with no car is even less fun than normal.  The sickness was so bad that husband stayed home from work because he was worried about me wondering around the city on foot. I was dizzy and disoriented. I can only imagine because of the not breathing so well. So we walked to the doctor and spent two hours there doing a nebulizer treatment and other tests and then walked home.  Husband took care of me all week: making dinners, reminding me to take my inhaler, buying cough drops and medicine.

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I am ready for the ball

After that, to prepare for my hysterectomy I had to get an MRI. So I was out on my own this time sweating and huffing. Doing anything while I’m sick seems like an impossible task, but going to do the MRI was extremely tedious and weird. First off I walked to the wrong place, (perhaps my husband’s concern was not unfounded.) Also, I went at the wrong time. I had programmed the appointment at 4 p.m. but wrote down 900 for the address. So I went at 9 a.m. So I walked all the way there and back twice that day for no reason.  Then I put on the glorious gown (pictures included,) and they had to take my blood which is a horrible experience because my veins don’t like it. I don’t mean that I don’t like needles. I like needles. I used to get piercings. My veins elude them so they stuck me about five times and then put in an I.V. They put me in the metal tube and asked me to not move which was a minor miracle that it worked because of my stuffed up nose and hacking cough. Then as if it were a field readiness test for sick people they asked me to hold my breath for about thirty seconds at a time while shooting me with a dye that made me dizzy. I went home and slept the rest of the day.

I haven’t gotten the results because I was supposed to go in to the doctors for my biopsy and as I started to feel better from the cold I started my period so I had to reschedule the biopsy. I asked my doctor to call with the results but she hasn’t so I will probably have to wait until next Friday when they plan to do the biopsy again.  Brad says it is my ovaries fighting back because they know they are not long for this world, so I started screaming at them, “You’re going to be medical waste you bitches! You are not long for this world!!” While the past two weeks have been horrible and this period shows no sign of slowing, I am still hopeful. I believe it is only a matter of time now until I am helpful. Today I got back to my yoga and Thursday I went for a walk. I am also getting back to cooking. I am hoping the old adage is true. I hope I will see the beginning of health soon.

Who knew??

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This was the only way to position myself to ease the pain

I have written about how the pain has been excruciating lately, and I haven’t written much because it has been more pain all the time. I have begun lying around with my feet up at all times because that is the only way I can be remotely comfortable. It has been unbearable and I was sort of at my wits end Saturday. I looked at my husband and said, “I think I need to go to the emergency room.” He said, “I think we should try some yoga first.”

I love my husband but my head instantly thought, “F*&^*^ off. How’s that gonna help me?” Isn’t that horrible? I am lucky as hell that my filter was on and it didn’t come out of my mouth. My husband takes care of me patiently and full of love when I am in this pain. So these thoughts are doubly awful but you must understand I was in so much pain I just kind of hated every minute of my life. I have sadly been very sensitive because of the pain. I got mad at everyone who has ever had any part of my life and thankfully they are all so amazing they understood and forgave me. However, when Brad offered to do yoga with me, I couldn’t very well say no. I reluctantly got off the couch and we pulled out the yoga mats. An amazing thing happened; I stopped having as much pain. It wasn’t an amazing miracle or anything. I started breathing deeply and focusing on where my limbs needed to be. The remarkable thing about yoga is that it quiets my mind because I have always been balance deficient. I can’t EVER phone it in when it comes to yoga. We didn’t do anything intense. We only did the truly stretchy yoga moves. It was so wonderful how great it felt. I still had the cramps but they were far less painful. They were like aftershocks to the cramps I had been experiencing. I think it is probably like a little worse than a normal period. I figure this is what normal women experience.

I had to eat major crow for even doubting my hubby but it was worth it. The next day I did yoga twice, once in the morning and once in the evening, and the cramps slowed even more. They were softer and farther apart. I still relaxed and took it easy but I felt seventy five percent better and today I feel ninety percent better. I have rarely had any cramps. It is as if I have cured myself with yoga.

When Brad and I first started doing yoga, I showed my Aunt Nicole our routine. She talked to us a little about how to deepen a stretch when we breathe out. That is how I am dealing with the cramps now. I take a deep breath and then release my muscles with a great exhale. The difference is remarkable.

I would recommend yoga for anyone who has been experiencing chronic pain, health problems, and for women like me who have been through abuse. I don’t know why it is working for my cramps specifically but I have read so much about its health benefits. Our bodies get inflamed when we go through trauma (it’s that whole fight or flight response.) According to a lot of what I have read (including Total Recovery by Dr. Gary Kaplan if you are having chronic pain it’s worth a read), sometimes our bodies can stay like that. Yoga helps with that. I think that is what was going on with me. I have been having pain for so long that my body knows the pain is coming. It goes into full alert mode, and I need to tell it to calm down with the yoga, meditation, and deep breathing.

I am not saying that I have cured the pain. I am saying that it has EXTREMELY helped me. I can’t express enough how much love I have for this process. I love to just lose myself in the yoga, and I think that total concentration is the key to the health benefit. This isn’t just the stretching that has helped me, it is the breathing and knowing what my body is doing. It has helped to actively inhabit my body. I think doing yoga that day reminded me that my brain is in control of the muscles, not the pain.

Thank you, Brad, the most amazing husband in the entire world, for opening my eyes and helping me through this time. I want to say this publicly. You were right, and I was wrong. I’m your b*****.

The Pain

I would like to explain what has been happening to me but it is kind of blurry. Between the pain, the emotional toll the pain presents, and the pain pills my brain is mush. To be honest, it is also in my nature to forget painful emotional things and to move on. I wouldn’t say that it is the healthiest reaction on this planet but it is the way I cope. However, I will try to explain what my life has been like the past two weeks.

An example day would be waking up with cramps that steadily get worse until I am gripping my ovaries so hard it looks like I am going to finally rip them out with my bare hands. (I asked my husband — if he had known, when he married me, that I would one day have my hand or ice pack on my crotch almost every day would he have gone through it. He said yes, thankfully, but it was me asking so…) The next day I would wake up and my hands, feet, arms, and back would be sore, so much that my husband had to rub my hands in order for me to be able to stretch them fully. It took me almost a week to realize it was the endometriosis pain, the tensing from the cramping, that was causing me to wake up with my limbs in pain.

After a couple of days, I broke down and took two pain pills. I really did try to go through it without it, but I was an emotional wreck. So I took the pain pills and then it is as if I am drunk but also stupid. I can’t think of words. Really the only thing I am able to accomplish is cleaning. Not one of my favorite pastimes but at least I am useful. I aspire to write, read, and teach so basically I am worthless in these areas when I take a pain pill, but I guess no more so than when I am in pain. When I am in pain I am able to converse and think although distractedly, so I have decisions I have to make on the fly.  In the morning I ask myself is the pain bad enough for a pain pill or will two Aleve fix it? Will the Aleve dull it enough that I can still meet my commitments to the library, and the ESL students? Should I take a pain pill and go anyway? That one is a scary one for anyone who has seen me on them. I fall, do things without paying attention, speak loudly, and slur. I also ask myself, is the pain bad enough that I have to take a pain pill and forfeit getting to write at all? Sometimes, on the good days where I don’t have commitments I can read and listen to music and that distracts me enough through the pain. There are many more options but I am already getting bored and so are you. Let me lay it out.

Basically there is a battle in my mind every morning between two streams of thought: push through the pain, or be kind to the body. Inevitably, unless I push through the pain I feel useless and guilty, but if I push through the pain, not only do I have to deal with the pain, but eventually I will have no choice but to not leave the house for maybe up to a week because of what the pain has done to my body. I am always exhausted lately it seems. It makes me irritable and sometimes I just cry for an hour.

So my days are spent making these decisions over and over. There is a chronic pain scale that goes from be kind to my body to push through it. I try and hit in the middle somewhere because I want both. I don’t want to feel useless and I have goals. Just like everyone I have goals. After about a week of this pain I just had it though. I lost my nerve and just exploded.

Okay so a little truth here: I had to step away from the computer because I was getting sick of my whining. I don’t like whining at all. I hate it even more coming from myself. I was on the phone with a trusted friend and he said that I am an inspiration because I always try to be positive. I do. I try so hard to be positive. I try to leave myself feeling better than I started. I have gumption for days. I am really trying.

If you have chronic pain, I think this probably sounds familiar. How do you get through? How do you feel useful? How are you positive? And where do you put these feelings? Sometimes this pain feels personal as if this is being done to me somehow. How do you not take it personally?

The Ocean is Worth It

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We were right there in the sea! 

Have you ever gotten off the wagon? It’s not easy getting back on. Hubby and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. While there we enjoyed the snorkeling. It was the most beautiful, serene, exiting time of my life. If you have never been, what you do is basically float with your head in the water and have a tube in which you breathe into the open air. The minute I put my mask into the water, I was in another world. A world with no sound, beautiful shades of muted blue and sand, and exotic fish I would have never had the chance to see: It was akin, in reverence, to walking on the moon. Had I the capability to talk I would probably have gasped audibly but I had no medium to express my awe.

We floated all the way out to the buoy before we came up out of the water and then swam slowly back. When we both popped up near the ladder to go back up to our hotel my husband said, “I think we were made for this!”

I giggled and said, “Two chubby people floating in the ocean, who would have thought!” The only downfall from this blissful foray into the ocean was climbing out of the water onto dry land.

I had the flippers still on, and I had to climb up this steel ladder, much like a ladder out of one of those above ground pools. Except, this ladder is halfway in the ocean and covered with slime.  It took several attempts to get up the three steps to finally reach the platform. My legs were a particular form of Jello that made it gut wrenchingly hard to get out of the water at all. My feet kept sliding off and I would plop down into the ocean time and time again. I would then have to collect my breath and then lift myself out of the ocean again and again.

The platform was half out of the ocean. The waves hit the large cement platform most of the time, so it too was covered in slime, but this didn’t stop me from laying down like a beached whale to catch my breath from the physical exertion of pulling myself out of the ocean.

That is how getting back on the wagon feels. The exertion of overcoming the doubt in my belly, the stiffness in my muscles and the weakness in my pallet can sometimes leave me beached on my bed with doubts of my success. I came back from vacation and was sick so my eating habits were atrocious and I didn’t exercise for two weeks because I was extremely sick.

Last week I was getting back to my yoga, walking and veggies. Before my fall off the wagon I had only been vegetarian for about two months. Grocery buying and recipes weren’t cemented in my mind so I again had to reacquaint myself with what to buy and how to cook it. I only walked a mile that first day, and I was up to three miles before. So my one mile left me aching and sore like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I was a whining wimp.

I was disheartened but Brad pointed out that I was just getting over being sick and having my “Aunt Irma.” These assurances made me feel better, but I also realized that I had gotten back on the wagon almost like it was second nature. I didn’t think about it as if it were a choice. I just did it. I never stopped doing yoga except when I was sick, and even then I did it once. After I got better, I got the right groceries, and I started walking. Done. No hemming or hawing. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to exercise or eat right. I just did it.

I guess I am just gonna have to remind my body that this is the way life is now. I am a healthy person, who does healthy things. That is who I am now. I climb up the ladder. I will probably be climbing that ladder my whole life, but more time in the ocean is worth it.

A New Year – A New Hope?

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This is what exercising in the winter looks like for me

Did you set a New Year’s resolution? If you did, I envy your hopefulness. I usually set a bevy of New Year’s resolution. I usually spend the days between Christmas and New Year’s packing up the decorations and making a list of how my life will be different NEXT YEAR.  This idea that I could drastically change this year was too much for me. The concept that next year would be different than every other year didn’t work for me. Maybe I am too old. Maybe forty was just the year where I throw up my hands at resolutions and say things like that’s hockey pucky, or horse manure or whatever old people say to mean I am not able to believe in the magic of (insert thing here) anymore.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not jaded. As a matter of fact, my Christmas this year was one of the most magical ever. I spent the entire week with family. My family is nuts for Christmas, like weirdly crazy about it. Most of us kids think about the presents months to early. My Mom goes crazy with the pie making and the dinner is of course extravagant and delicious. My nephew is the cutest of course. We got to go look at Christmas lights while my raven songbird sister sang silent night and my nephew exclaimed several times, “That house is the most beautiful house in the entire world.” We got to have breakfast in my brother’s kitchen and then decorate gingerbread houses with little candy canes, sprinkles and as my nephew kept reminding me: not frosting, “edible glue.” Best of all, we saw Star Wars, which by the way took four phone calls before my trip to plan just the snacks, and thanks to J.J. Abrams, I believe in the magic of Star Wars once again. I am not hard hearted. I just can’t believe in the magic of resolutions anymore.

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See, isn’t that magical!

I usually write down all my resolutions, and usually attach them to some area of my apartment. I look at them hopefully for the first month, resentfully the second, and by the third I have totally forgotten they exist. Lately I have been doing better with just having daily goals. I think I just have to take it day by day. Heck, some days having a goal minute by minute is best.

Maybe it was because I was horribly sick this year.

For the nine days I was unable to talk, swallow, or eat without pain and with a snot filled nose. After two days, I got my curse in life, my period, and all that pain that my endometriosis brings with it. I felt as if I had been cursed and spent most of those days attached face down to my bed/sofa. I am lucky that I have the best husband in the entire world. He took care of me every day: providing meals, tea, three different kinds of cough syrup, cough drops and the desperately needed Nyquil.

Because of all this, I just felt like I couldn’t fathom the hope it takes to believe I will actually accomplish my resolutions. No big declarations anymore!

As of yesterday I am feeling better and my cycle has ended! Now it’s time to clear the cobwebs of my mind, my shoes, and my yoga mat. I need to plan on how to get back into my walking and yoga again. I really hate resolutions because I have failed at them all before, and aren’t large proclamations are just ripe for the failure? I am only going to continue doing all the things I was doing before Christmas break. I am going back on the vegetarian diet (turkey was undeniable, also my Dad’s grilled hamburgers, and my brothers sausage gravy –Oklahoma is big with the meat, Okay.) I will both walk and do yoga three times a week. I just need to get back on the train, that’s all.  Okay, now look at me being ambitious, I have already upgraded to thinking by the week!

 

Let us Be Bold again

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Isn’t she the most beautiful sister! 

My sister is seventeen years younger than I am. She has weight of the world on her shoulders. Do you remember that? I mean not really the actual weight, but it felt like it. It felt like make or break time. It felt like every decision I made would determine the course of my life. The fear and the inevitable dread that I had already made the wrong ones kept me up at night or kept me drinking late into the night. Then I got older and realized with age, experience, and exhaustion that my decisions were always the right ones because they led me here which is nice and cozy. I love my life. It is filled with freedom, love, and wonderful people. What it is not filled with: gumption.

Something I have lost is that bursting with energy, that gotta get it done, push it to the limit drive to succeed. As my friend Alice Isak rephrased it, “I’ll get it done, but I am not going to ruin my sciatica.” When I brought up my sisters seemingly innate energy, Alice made a good point when she reminded me how good it is to have young people around. They are energizing even though they always seem to be so exhausted. My sister works full time, has a full college schedule, visits my parents once a week, and has a live in boyfriend who works twelve hours a week. Just writing that sentence made me tired. I love her so extremely dearly, but I could not live like that now…. and yet…I envy the extreme sense of urgency. I miss the concept that I need to accomplish this or I might just implode.

I miss that drive that makes me work harder than I thought I could. I again, finally, have those choices to make. I have a clean slate that I can make my mark upon. I have been staring blankly at it, blinking, and tired. It is awfully big sometimes. It wasn’t when we were looking at my husband’s slate. I helped him decide on a career easily. He listed his options to me, and I printed out descriptions from the internet and we had discussions of pros and cons, and eventually he made a decision that worked out for him. However, now that I have the luxury, I wimble back and forth in my mind. I know getting healthy and higher education are in my future. At forty they seem like impossible tasks but at least I know that much. However, where the higher education will lead or what degree I will get, I don’t know.

My friend Alice Isak just told me I need a toddler’s lunch. I of course said, “HUH?” She explained you need to give yourself only a limited amount of choices and then pick from those. If the choice was every food in the world a toddler would get overwhelmed, but normally it is a choice between two like: hotdog or peanut butter and jelly. I know I want to write a novel, freelance or teach. So in the coming year I want to get some experience doing all three so that I can see which one I like most. The one I like most I will study further. It seems so simple, that blank slate, but I just figured it out. I told Alice I feel stupid not figuring that out before. She said, “Well, don’t.”

I started laughing but then she said, “If it is not moving me to the next step, let it go.” Wow.

Oprah has this article in the January issue interviewing Brendon Burchard, author of The Motivation Manifesto, and he talks about how to accomplish goals. Something he said really hit me, “Let us be bold again.” I feel like I was bold back when I was the first person in my family going to college, and graduating from college, but lately I just feel old and tired. I want to be bold again. I want to gather up energy and feel the intensity of a blazing goal. I want to roll up my sleeves again, and not put them down until I accomplish what I want. I want to brave new experiences, social situations, and environments with the vigor of youth. I want to “boldly” work under the assumption I can accomplish anything I want.

I read a good book called “The Dreamgiver.” In it the author, Bruce Wilkinson, explains that when God gives you a dream it is our responsibility to accomplish it, how is that for immediacy. God wants me to be bold again.