The Return of Hammer Butt

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Rites of passage… (is it it repassage?)

One of the very last things I need to do to consider myself “fully recovered” (more important, to really feel like myself again) from the year and a half of hemorrhaging followed by recovering from two surgeries was to sign up to do another triathlon which I haven’t done in well over two years. I’ve coached and been a “swim angel” for Danskin and a “swim sister” for Trek, but haven’t competed myself in far too long.

Since I only just got back to running and did my first 5K since it all began two weeks ago, haven’t logged any serious mileage on my bike because I’ve only been commuting back and forth to downtown and Proctor on the beast of a commuter bike, and haven’t done an open water swim since volunteering as a swim angel at Danskin two years ago, I was hoping to find one that took place in late September or maybe even early October to give me enough time to, oh you know… actually get trained up

After I posted my intent to do a triathlon on my accountability group, I went online to sign up for one of the races I was certain would be in September. Sadly, there were no Bob Green races (my first ever tri) on the calender, No Trek Women’s Tri that I can find this year, the Subaru Tri (my first USAT sanctioned race) is now the Toyota Tri and happened early this year. My last hope, the Black Diamond Triathlon is on Saturday this year, and I work Saturdays.

So I signed up for the Meridian Lake triathlon, Which is… August 26th.

I am in NO way trained up or ready for this. (at least I was smart enough to sign up for just the sprint distance and didn’t try to get right back to Olympic distance)

I hopped on Diva, my carbon fiber triathlon bike that has not left the basement for over two years, for a quick spin around the Scott Pierson Trail to see just how out of bike shape I am.

First Sunny Ride of 2010 - Febraury Insanity 001

I almost crashed within the first block because being a full carbon bike, it weighs next to nothing and felt super squirrelly, especially with the areobars.

I’ve been riding on the platfrom side of my combo pedals on the commuter bike wearing flipflops, so I’m also not used to being clipped to the pedals; having to come to a fast stop and not getting stuck and crashing is a concern at this point.

I managed an 11 mile ride (need to get up to 15 for the tri) and managed not to crash . I’ll be fitting longer rides in wherever I can for the next two weeks. I’ll start commuting to work on my road bike and taking the long way home as well.

Yesterday was the big day.

I headed out to Steele Lake for a solo open water swim.

I couldn’t find parking in my usual spot down by the boat ramp, so I had to put on my wetsuit the in main parking area. I’m sure it was a source of entertainment for a lot of folks. I’m thankful that we start out suited up, and that putting the suit on is not counted in transition time.

It wasn’t pretty. It was slow, clumsy, executed with very poor technique and it was pianfully apparent that I am extremely out of shape swimming wise, as I had to stop to catch my breath a lot and was a bit “wheezy” (common for me to not expand my lungs fully when they are compressed by the wetsuit)

The first mishap was forgetting to put my nose clips on. The first time I put my face in the water a huge rush of burning lake water rushed into my sinuses. In addition to the fact that it is painful because it’s the wrong pH, I got my first ever sinus infection a few years ago training in this lake (which being surrounded by houses/yards/septic tanks/dogs/fertilizers/etc…) is not what you want to have up your nose.

After a few stops to blow the water out of my nose I started getting into my rhythm. I’m still doing OK breathing bilaterally, but my sighting is off and I need to really work on that so that I don’t get off course during the tri.

I made it just shy of a mile.

I chose to swim off the beach rather than the boat ramp so that I could get someone to watch my shoes for me (and perhaps call 911 if I disappeared under water, in which case the lifeguard can would be a good marker as to where to find the carcass) and because the last time I swam off the boat ramp (where a lot of people fish) I stepped on a fish hook which embedded into the neoprene socks I was (thankfully) wearing at the time because the water was super cold.

What I didn’t realize is that there is freaking MILFOIL in the beach area. I didn’t notice it going out, but coming back, the first time I tried to put my feet on the bottom, I stepped in a big matt of it, and almost squealed like a girl. Being completely squigged out by the stuff, I flipped over onto my back and swam the rest of the way in that way until there was sand underneath.

The whole thing, start to finish was undignified, including realizing that I have completely lost the skill of getting out of the wetsuit quickly meaning my T1 transition time is going to suck.

But any open water swim (especially solo) you can walk away from right?

I also managed to get my run mileage back up to five miles, as I had to start over from ground zero after having my innards poked, prodded, cut, scraped and burned. It used to be that I never bothered to go on a run that was less than five miles, it has since become a goal. Life is weird.

I headed out to Pt Defiance and had a lovely run around Five Mile Drive. I took it very easy since increasing my long run distance or overall mileage too quickly will put me at risk for another round of illiotibal band injury, but I ran the whole loop (in the reverse direction going up the vomit worthy hill by the zoo and again between Camp 6 and Fort Nisqually) and I felt good afterward.

I did finally achieve one of my major goals this week, and that was to dump the 25 (yes TWENTY FIVE) pounds I gained whilst dealing with all the stress, medical, surgical crap and not being able to work out. (and of course, hanging out with those who regularly ate and drank to excess over the holidays which I will not be doing again)

I forget how much it is because all I can see is how much work I still have to do to fix my body composition fat/muscle ratio (and then there’s that whole, pushing 50 body changing stuff that goes on as well) so I only realize it when others who haven’t seen me for a while comment.

Several folks have asked how I did it.

The answer is, “There is no quick fix, there is no magic pill and there is no substitute for discipline and hard work.”

I ate and drank less and exercised more.

I dumped foods out of my diet that where empty calories and focused on nutrient dense healthier foods.

The very hard part was changing who I spent a majority of my time with.

When one is making any big changes in their life (even if it’s just getting back to who you used to be) you do have to be conscious about who you are spending your time with

If you hang out with people who regularly drink to excess and base their social life around alcohol and usually too much food; it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to be healthy. Some will want to be supportive, but it’s just a bad environment, and others will actually (be it intentionally or unintentionally) sabotage your efforts by telling you that you’re “no fun anymore”, “loosen up, just this once; it won’t hurt” or by filling up your glass when you aren’t paying attention or shoveling more unhealthy food onto your plate.

I’ve actually had morbidly obese friends tell me that I’m “too skinny” and “look anorexic” (uh, hello, I just barely got under 150 which is right in the middle of the healthy weight range for my height) When I was running marathons, I was down to my high school track running weight of 135.

Trust me, it’s much easier to be healthy (and happy) when you’re around other people who have the same goal. (as an added bonus, it tends to put you in a much more drama free environment)

All of these scenarios have happened to me at the hands of well meaning friends, despite the fact that my blood pressure had risen to a level where I could have had a heart attack or stroke at any time and had to have my second surgery postponed because they were afraid I’d stroke on the operating table.

None of this is about vanity (as has been asserted by one or two of my less than supportive “friends”) it has been about not just regaining but literally saving my life.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t ever hang out with your “party friends” just that it’s best to limit that time and when you do see them, try to do so in a more controlled environment.

I cut out most alcohol. When I do indulge, maybe twice a week, it’s normally only one beverage; maybe two if it was after a good workout like in the beer garden at the Great Kilted Run. I did have three glasses of wine over the course of a long night at a long awaited reunion with friends, and I made sure to work my butt off before I headed over there so that I had the extra calories to burn for both the wine and the wonderful desert that included ice cream and drank plenty of water. And of course, these are friends who would have totally supported my stopping at one glass (or not having any) had I so chosen.

I do still treat myself (I had Anthony’s Salmon and Chips and a beer just the other night) but do so on days that I’ve burned enough calories to allow it.

A tool that I have found incredibly useful is myfitnesspal.com

It works on a computer/tablet and there is an Android app (I’m assuming it’s available for iPhone as well)

Your program your personal information, height, weight, goals (how many pounds a week to lose) and it tells you how many calories you should eat/drink each day to achieve that goal (to lose a pound a week you need a 500 calorie a day defecit, 500 X 7 = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat)

Once that is done, you log everything you eat and drink into the program and it keeps a running tally of how many more calories (and other variables you want to track such as carbs, protien, fat, iron, etc…

If you want to “earn” more calories, you have to exercise (which you should do anyway) you just enter the type of exercise you did, how long you did it and the program calculates and adjusts how many more calories you can consume that day and still meet your goals.

It holds you accountable and teaches (or re-teaches) you to think of food as fuel (which is what it is)

I have lost 25 pounds without depriving myself (which just leads to binging) While I try to eat mostly healthy foods, I have enjoyed pizza, beer, ice cream, mexican food, the occasional margarita, fish & chips, real cream in my coffee and real butter on my baked goods.

The other tool that my friend Christina told me about is the FitBit

It’s super tiny and I just wear it clipped onto my bra.

While I’ve never been a fan of pedometers, this thing is a “pedometer on steroids” has a great computer interface and integrates with many other programs including MyFitnessPal.

It not only measures steps taken, but floors climbed (there’s some motivation to take the stairs) calories burned, etc… I’ve found that it’s pretty darn accurate.

I syncs with your computer and keeps a running tally of your steps, miles, floors, calories burned and active score.

You enter your information, set goals and it tells you what you have achieved each day.

For me, that number on my desktop goads me into doing a bit more before the day is over.

One of the really cool things it does, is measure your sleep; how long it takes you to go to sleep, how many times you wake up at night and calculates your sleep efficiency. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, so this is actually important to know.

I do not have it synced to MyFitnessPal, because not everything I do is recorded by the FitBit (cylcing/swimming) and while you can manually enter it, I like using it as a separate tool which I can double check against.

I still have a LOT of work to do (at a few weeks away from turning 50 it’s not as easy as it used to be) but…

Hammer Butt is back… (I’ll be taking an updated Hammer Butt photo before the tri…)

IMG_0350

~ L



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Full Circle

Six months ago, I was faced with the possibility of cancer, and had surgeries scheduled.

It became apparent that I was not going to be able to heal while dealing with the corporate job I was working at the time.

So I did the insane (but only sane thing I could do) thing, paying for COBRA insurance and turning in my two weeks notice.

It was a very scary, stressful time even before adding in two surgeries and recoveries.

I often doubted the decision I had made, doubted myself, and wondered if I’d find work in this economy once I was ready to look again.

There was a time, late in the winter when many, if not most of us battle Seasonal Affective Disorder when I was in significant pain, during which I battled some mild depression. (this is when I started posting my “daily gratitude” each day, which helps a lot)

What it boiled down to is that I had to trust in the universe; I had to trust in myself. I had to take that risk, because nothing will show you what does and doesn’t matter in your life, like the possibility of losing it.

I also made other changes. Changes in my diet (getting off the holiday food and back to healthy real food) not going to alcohol centered events or hanging out with people who habitually drink to excess, avoiding people who added unreasonable stress to my life, getting back to my art, learning new arts, and of course (once healed) easing back into a regular workout schedule.

When I was finally healed enough to consider working again, I made my intentions known to friends (and the universe) as to what I was looking for.

I did not want to be back in the corporate world, nor to deal with unhappy/unpleasant people stuck in a cubicle all day. I did not want to commute, I wanted to work right here in Tacoma again so that I could spend those wasted commuting hours with my animals and in my garden/farm. I wanted to ride my bike to work.

Most important, I wanted to do something that I loved, not something that I put up with because I thought I needed a certain amount of money/benefits, and I wanted to work with nice, happy people working towards a common goal.

First, an environmental non-profit organization that I have volunteered for over the years contacted me about a part time job they had just gotten a grant for. It was a perfect fit. I am now working with students and interns at Puget Creek Restoration Society helping to conserve and protect one of three salmon bearing streams in the city of Tacoma, and preparing them (the students and interns) for jobs in the environmental science field.

Next, I was made aware of another opportunity to “manage” (I like to refer to it as coordinating) the Tacoma Proctor Farmers’ Market, another part time opportunity doing something that I feel strongly about; promoting sustainability and supporting local farmers, healthy eating and building community.

So here I am, with the best of all worlds. (and full time work to pay the bills)

Educating, protecting/restoring the environment, and promoting sustainability, fresh healthy food and local farms.

I am riding my bike to work (well, OK…. not on days that I have to schlep booth displays around). I’m working here in Tacoma-no nasty commute wasting time I could be spending playing with my dog, working in my garden or creating art.

I am working with great people who love what they do and are passionate about it; and I feel good about what both organizations stand for and what they do.

No, I’m not going to get rich doing this, but since I’m big on living sustainably, am willing to be a bit more frugal. (and if I want extra cash, I’ll just have to pitch more magazine articles and/or do more performances)

I did not reinvent myself.

I decided to be true to myself.

I came back full circle, and couldn’t be happier.

I want to thank those who kept their eyes and ears open for opportunities, those who provided references for me, and most of all, those who supported me and held me up when I doubted myself.

~L

Getting Braces As An Adult

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It’s not that uncommon.

Many people get braces for the first time as adults; more often than I imagined, they get them for the second time.

In my case, I had braces when I was 15 and had them removed when I was 17.

A horse stepped on my retainer, the replacement didn’t fit quite right and I eventually just quit wearing it. (very common story, except for the horse)

Several years after that, my wisdom teeth came in and jammed my teeth together in my freakishly narrow jaw and my teeth became very crooked and ugly. I’ve hated my smile since my 20’s; that never stopped me from grinning like an idiot, but still….

I went years without orthodontic insurance.

When I finally had the insurance, I used it on braces for my step-daughter because that’s what you do when you’re a parent.

When I left my last job, I paid for COBRA benefits and made sure to take advantage of all the dental work I needed done. I had three crowns and some periodontal work.

Part of the reason for the periodontal work was the fact that trying to properly clean teeth that are so jammed together is difficult verging on impossible and eventually leads to gum disease (which can lead to heart disease).

After the crowns (a more painful procedure than one might imagine) and the root scaling, which IS as bad as it sounds, considering that a sharp, whirring, vibrating, cold water squirting device is jammed under your gums to scrape the roots of your teeth I got the added (surprise) bonus of my dentist and orthodontist deciding that my wisdom teeth (yes, all of them) needed to come out before I could get the braces put on.

After all of this was done, I was cleared to get the braces on.

Thankfully, they have come a long way since the days of full bands, brutal tightening, and [shudder] headgear which was the bane of all kids in the 70’s with an overbite.

The braces I have are Damon System braces which have the advantage of being “self ligating” meaning there are no wire ties to poke and cut the inside of the mouth or elastics that can trap food, bacteria and encourage the growth of plaque required to hold the wire to the brackets.

The brackets have little doors on them and the wires can slide freely which eliminates a good load of the friction and is supposed to be more gentle and faster than old traditional braces.

Instead of having someone grab the back of your wire and twist/crank until it feels like your teeth are going to pop out of your mouth, “tightening” is merely a new thicker wire. These wires have memory and pull the teeth into position.

It wasn’t bad having them put on. The staff at my orthodontist office told me to eat a good meal, as I wouldn’t want to eat the next day.

Yowza were they ever right!

Oh, I forgot to mention that after my wisdom teeth were removed, my back teeth no longer touched each other so “chewing” was a hilarious exercise in futility.

It was a miserable two weeks eating very soft food and cutting any solid food into teeny tiny pieces that I could shove into the back of my mouth as the front teeth hurt way to much to allow food to touch touch them. In addition to the front tooth on top that was jutting way out, being pulled back in, I have a spring on the bottom wire to push teeth apart to make room for a tooth that was forced up out of the jaw and back.

I have a rubber band running from the back teeth on the top of the left side of my jaw to the bottom in order to pull it out and correct a cross bite. For a little teeny thing, it sure causes a lot of discomfort. Chewing on that side is out of the question, so the only place I can put tiny cut up pieces of food is in the far back of the right side and “chew” on the farthest back two teeth which aren’t tied into the wire yet (the first two wires are too thin to withstand the pressure of eating without breaking)

Yeah, it’s been “fun”.

But it’s going to be worth it.

While having a smile I actually like again will be wonderful, I did this because I was going to lose teeth to gum disease if I didn’t take care of the crowding. I know a woman who is exactly my age here in the neighborhood who has full dentures. No thank you.

I’ll need to have some chips in the front teeth filed down; but after that, a good cleaning and maybe some bleaching, I think they’ll look pretty good.

More important, they’ll be real..

Here they are the day I got my braces on.

You can see what a big pull it is on the front tooth and the spring on the bottom (probably a hint of the elastic in the back as well)

From February 29, 2012

Here they are about a month later.

You can’t really notice much cosmetically yet, but there was a lot of movement of the cross bite and back teeth (the ones that are wired)

From February 29, 2012

Here they are with the slightly thicker wire, heftier spring. The bad front tooth is pulling down nicely and the cross bite is corrected (he’s having me wear the elastics though the next appointment so it doesn’t go back before the thicker wire goes on) The bottom tooth still isn’t ready to be pulled forward (it’s tied to the wire) until the teeth on either side of it push out just a bit more.

From February 29, 2012

I’m back to soft food for a few days because the new wire is making everything sore again.

This was considered a very gentle adjustment as the first wire was the thinnest one they have and the one on their now is the next thinnest.

At the next appointment the wire is going to go up several gauges and the bottom tooth will be wired in.

and that’s gonna hurt.

I’ve seen adults and kids with braces refuse to smile for the duration.

Not me, I’m grinning like an idiot.

Doing something for my health is nothing to be ashamed of. (and as much as I paid for these things even with insurance, I’m not about to hide them)

Besides… They take a few years off my appearance 😉

From February 29, 2012

~L



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One More Step Towards Regaining My Perfect Health-Home Made Almond Milk

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I’m so lucky that after surgery on my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes that no cancer was found.

I don’t want any more surgery and I want to get off the blood pressure medication (my doc thinks that stress from the former job, medical scares, as well as chronic pain from the girly bit surgeries, wisdom tooth extractions, dental, perio and ortho work was the biggest issue)

In addition to getting back on a normal workout schedule (as soon a I’m done recovering from surgery; right now, the best I can do is walking 3-4 miles a day) I am making an effort to make as many healthy (non-fanatical) dietary changes as I can that will assist with discouraging the growth of fibroid tumors and endmetriosis and get me off of the blood pressure medication.

As soon as the blood pressure issue reared its ugly head (after having a perfect blood pressure up until very recently) I immediately went off my hormonal birth control and caffeine. (yeah, cold turkey, both at once) and stopped rinsing my mouth that was being torn up by the new braces with salt water.

I also got serious about getting back to my normally very healthy eating habits which went to heck over the holidays (I was a naughty monkey); rarely eating out, no processed foods (I even make my own chicken stock) whole grains (always brown rice, and more often than not, I make my own whole wheat pasta) eating organic eggs from my backyard hens, growing my own fruit and veggies in season, being very careful about sodium (I don’t generally salt my food or add much in cooking, but I’m being aware) and of course, I can always do better about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve read a lot (from credible sources) about the health benefits of black strap molasses, so I’ve started using a tablespoon a day in my morning lattes (healthier than vanilla and caramel syrups right?)

I decided that I also wanted to switch to almond milk for my morning lattes

Oh, no… I am not going completely diary free. You can have my cheese when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers and I do try to eat organic yogurt with live cultures several times a week.

I scored some Almond Breeze the other day, and discovered that I really like almond milk. But it’s expensive and the commercial stuff contains additives that I don’t want.

So I decided to make my own (it’s stupid easy)

First, I soaked one cup of raw almonds in water. You can do it from 8 – 24 hours; since these were older almonds, I went for the full 24.

Making Almond Milk 001

It’s important to rinse the almonds well and discard the soaking water, as it contains tannins from the skin that will make the end product unpleasant.

I added the now well swollen almonds and four cups of filtered water (4-1 ratio) to the food processor.

Making Almond Milk 002

If you want unsweetened almond milk, that’s all you need to add.

I opted to add six dates. The only thing I’d do differently is to soak/soften them first so that they didn’t gum up the food processor blades and a splash of vanilla extract. You can also add cocoa powder or nibs for chocolate milk or any fruit that you like..

Making Almond Milk 003

After blending in the food processor or blender if you don’t have one for two to five minutes, it’s ready to strain.

*as it turns out, the food processor wasn’t the correct tool to use for this-virtually none of them handle this much liquid without leaking from the top or bottom-I will be using a blender next time

You can use cheesecloth or specially sold nut milk bags, but I used my jelly strainer. I’m guessing that is what they are selling as nut milk bags.

Making Almond Milk 004

You’ll need to let it hang for some time, and to give the bag a good squeeze every once in a while. Once it’s done, you’ll have finely ground nuts which you can process into nut butter, or dry and use in granola or desert toppings

Making Almond Milk 005

What you are left with, is some super yummy, healthy, inexpensive almond milk.

Making Almond Milk 006

I’m calling this first attempt a “win” and now, don’t need to buy almond milk.

~L



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The End of the Ovarian Chapter (and hopefully the whole saga)

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Between snowmageddon, the epic ice storm and life happening, I haven’t updated the blog in a very long time.

[queue old timey film reel music]

“When we last left our heroine, she still had tumors in her ovary and no scheduled time for them to be removed…”

After getting my dangerously high blood pressure under control, I was rescheduled for surgery.

I was initially pretty freaked out at the delay with no reschedule date in sight and insurance benefits running out (it was supposed to have been done on the 6th of January but it may have turned out for the best in the long run.)

Had it been done on the 6th, I would have missed Frodo’s graduation from doggie class.

Who's a GOOD DOG

It was also just too close to the holiday chaos. As much as I love the holidays, I tend to over do and end up exhausted.

I went in last Tuesday to have the tumors (and maybe the ovary) removed and “since he was in there” to have my tubes tied since a pregnancy after an ablation, although unlikely, would be life threatening.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, at nearly 50 years of age, I got “fixed”. It probably shouldn’t make me giggle as much as it does.

This surgery (which I believe was fit in so that I could get this done by the end of January) was not scheduled at the reasonable 8:00 in the morning, but at 4:30 PM. It didn’t happen until 5:00 PM because my doc and anesthesiologist were both tied up in other procedures that ran long.

Since I hadn’t eaten since 6:30 the night before, I was beyond starving. Had it gone on much longer, they wouldn’t have needed to give me much anesthesia as I was close to just passing out.

I woke up to a room full of smiling folks in recovery who told me that it went very well.

The tumors appear to have been endometrial tissue (not good, but not cancer so I don’t even have to wait for biopsy results this time)

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

I had been experiencing significant pain the week leading up to the procedure. I wasn’t sure if it was the tumor in the ovary or my uterus trying to expel blood and tissue that wasn’t there in an effort to menstruate. I just knew that it hurt like heck, especially trying to sit up and was actually looking forward to being put under and cut on. This of course, had to happen the week before surgery when I was not allowed to take any ibuprofen so I had to just suck it up.

I told my surgeon that the area (directly over my uterus) was tender to palpation and that I wasn’t sure if I was projecting because I knew about the tumors, but that it seemed to be more so on the right side.

As it turns out, I had a cyst in that fallopian tube which accounted for the pain (at least I wasn’t being a hypochondriac; if anything I under stated the pain) and which would have been a medical emergency had it ruptured. One more reason that the timing on this was likely for the best.

My total rock star surgeon had managed to do all of this through only one incision instead of the standard three. It’s in my belly button, and once it heals won’t be noticeable when I belly dance. (I was all set to get a belly jewel to disguise it)

I had many plans in place for my recovery and just about all of them fell through.

I never should have agreed to host an out of town house guest the day of (and two days prior) to having this surgery, especially after the ice storm delayed a lot of my preparation.

No matter how much a guest tries to not be an inconvenience, it’s stressful and kept me from fully preparing. Add that to the fact that neither one of us switched gears from host/guest to caretaker/patient (I am not the easiest person to help) I ended up with a sink full of dishes, a full trash can (added bonus, a bag of trash in the guest room) and all of my leftovers eaten instead of being helped/taken care of.

I had tried to buy chicken feed the day before surgery as I was almost completely out but the truck with the layer pellets hadn’t arrived yet so they were going to be kind enough to deliver in the next day or two. Well the truck didn’t arrive then and there I was recovering from surgery with hungry chickens I was worried about. It all worked out, but I was super stressed.

The two people who said they would come over the day after surgery didn’t (doesn’t matter who or why but I was feeling super sad/bummed out about it) so I was doing too much on my own (because I’m a dork and won’t ask for help)

To make an already bad situation worse, the dog (Corgis are a high energy working breed) who didn’t get walked/worked out for two days like he was supposed to went absolutely nuts yesterday chewing through the power cord on the hot tub I’d just payed to have fixed, because I put him outside because I just couldn’t deal with him being a hyper puppy, chewed up my slippers, ran though the house like a maniac when I tried to get my slipper back (the more I yelled and got mad, the more he wiggled his happy little but and the faster he ran/played) he tripped me and then accidentally pounced on my incision thinking we were playing.

This was when everything that had hurt my body and feelings/pissed me off/stressed me out (along with the fact that I hadn’t eaten or taken pain meds all day) combined and I lost it.

I started yelling and screaming like a Beansidhe and then broke down into hysterical, uncontrollable sobs. This would be when I broke open the glued surgical incisio-I can’t even blame it on the dog.

Yep, complete and total melt down and it was not pretty.

My dear friend Daniel (aka Monkey Boy) called about this time, and knowing I was in a bad way, came right over, ran the dog, picked up the emergency chicken feed the store made available until my bag came in, took out the trash (had to go to the alley as today is trash day) and did a few other things around the house.

My equally awesome friend and neighbor Dana came by later that night to help me with the 50 pound bag of chicken food which had been delivered. The very nice guy who brought it by didn’t want to disturb me by knocking, so he just went around back and put it on the back porch (which sadly is nowhere near the chickens, and then I couldn’t let the dog out as he’d destroy the bag)

When I told her about my meltdown, she asked, “But don’t you feel better now?”

Well yeah, maybe a little, but mostly embarrassed.

I’m putting that part of the story out on the blog because I know other women who do too much and are bad about asking for help and who can be overwhelmed by kids/pets/responsibilities/being let down by people at these times, in hope that they will learn from my mistakes and make better choices for themselves and their care. (and know that if they do melt down, they aren’t alone)

The night before, I had done some serious thinking and soul searching and come to some decisions (which as my friend Megs pointed out, is not a good idea when still under the effects of general anesthesia, but I’m going with it)

When I got the diagnosis and left my job due to the actions of my “manager” I never got time to recover from what had basically been a huge source of stress due to the nature of the job (which I’m sure was a major factor in the blood pressure problems) but which due to her attitudes and one or two insecure/gossipy/backstabby co-workers was more like escaping an abusive relationship.

I moved from that (which I was dealing with while in pain and hemorrhaging every month) into the constant pain (and fear of cancer) of the uterine surgery and later the ovarian/fallopian tube surgery, getting all my dental work done including three crowns, a mouth full of painful periodontal work, oral surgery/wisdom tooth extraction and having braces put on before my insurance ran out (and fighting with the insurance company/Cobra folks about my orthodontic coverage which they kept denying. My doctor looked at me as if I was insane for putting myself through all of this at once and after all my cardiac, thyroid, metabolic tests came back clear is pretty sure that stress is the main culprit in my blood pressure spike.

Let it suffice to say, that I have not done any relaxing nor healing since I left that place in October.

My big decision is… [drum roll please]

that I am not going to jump right back into looking for a day job now that the surgery is over.

I’m getting a refund from the orthodontic payment I made since the insurance finally kicked in and will get a nice tax refund due to my income being drastically cut and paying an insane amount of deductible medical/dental/insurance expenses and having paid my mortgage including interest ahead several months.

I’m going to take a couple of months to relax and heal and make sure that whatever I do end up doing for steady income, be it more assertively marketing my writing/photography/wedding officiating/performing or finding a “day job” won’t suck the life and soul out of me like the last experience did.

I’m going to get back onto my regular workout schedule (well in a few weeks when I’m physically healed) and do all that hiking, dancing, exercising and playing music that I was hoping to have already done by now. I expect that this along with being back on my regular healthy eating will get me off the blood pressure medication.

I can’t move on to the next phase of my life until I can heal; so for the next two or three months, I’m doing just that in hopes that I can get the “old me” (before all the stress/medical stuff took me down), back.

When I was in the glass studio last Sunday (that will be another blog post in its self), I discovered this beautiful piece of locally crafted glass art.

That very morning, I had been looking online for a new tree of life pendant to replace one that I used to wear regularly as a way of reconnecting with spirit. This fabulous and perfect piece magically appeared an hour or so later.

I think it is a fabulous symbol of healing, renewal and reaffirmation. (even if the crappy cell phone photo doesn’t do it justice)

From Drop Box

Moving forward, it symbolizes everything that I need and want in life.

Now to go make it happen.

~L



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No Surgery Scheduled; But Plenty of Frustration…

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I was cleared to have my surgery at my doc appointment on Wednesday. This is a good thing because I really want these tumors out of my ovary and to be able to plan my life past waiting for the next phone call/test result.

I called my surgeon’s scheduler today and she said they didn’t have any appointments this month.

She said they didn’t have any appointments next month.

She said she couldn’t tell me when she’d have a date for me or even when she’d call.

Needless to say, I’m pretty frustrated right now. (I hung up the phone before I said something I might later regret)

The original delay/cancellation (no one’s fault) was bad enough on my finances, stress level and any attempts to plan my life, accept jobs, performances, take classes, etc…

I did send a message directly to my surgeon and my primary care physician explaining that I like Dr Greene and would like him to do it, but if that’s not going to happen any time soon, could they please refer me to someone else.

I don’t expect to hear anything (and maybe not much) until next week.

I am trying not to flip out and get myself even more stressed out and to trust that they will try to work something out.

Health Care; Ain’t it fun?

~L


Phoenix Rising – The Surgery That Wasn’t

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I took some time off from blogging over the holidays, and holy moly, do I have a lot of catching up to do.

I am continuing the sharing of my medical journey in hopes that it will give some comfort to others who may be going through similar issues. It’s nice to not feel alone.

I was supposed to have surgery to remove the tumors from my right ovary yesterday. The story of all that “fun” and surrounding stress are documented here” Take My Uterus Please

That didn’t happen, because it was discovered that my blood pressure was dangerously high (187/111) at that appointment and not any better at home that night)

I was shocked to say the least.

I am used to being “disgustingly healthy” (direct quote from a doctor) and an athlete with no health issues other than my girly bits giving me trouble as I approach menopause.

Now I’m a “sick person” ?

This is beyond difficult to wrap my head around, and I am trying very hard to not let it make me depressed.

This also ruined my carefully laid/on a strict timetable plans which included being recovered from the surgery by Feb 1st so that I can concentrate on working/having a more steady paycheck (although I’ve done well with the writing/photography/performing over the last month) and less financial uncertainly/stress.

I’m really not budgeted to keep up the COBRA premium benefits past the end of this month and was planning on switching to a cheaper individual plan (which would pay less for this sort of thing) but I have no choice now as my health (and maybe life) depend on it.

Last Wednesday I was given an emergency dose of Clonidine in office to lower my BP out of the danger zone. I was also given a prescription for Amlodipine 5mg per day. It didn’t get me down to below 150/90 so I was instructed to double the dose this morning. Of course, I’m not allowed to drive until I know how it affects me, so no trip to the doggie park for Mr Frodo.

Wow, less than a week ago, I was fire dancing at First Night in leather pants and a bustier and now I’m a fragile old lady on medication who’s not allowed any strenuous exercise nor to even drive?

Inconceivable… (yeah, I know, “That word, you keep using it; I do not think it means what you think it means…” )

On September 14th (yes of this last year, just a few months ago) my blood pressure reading at the doc’s office was 116/70 (hadn’t been at work or drinking coffee that day so I was super calm), it started slowly creeping up from there over the next few months (but I’m often stressed just walking into a doc’s office and it if was a morning appointment after I had a latte that also raises pressure, so it did not attract any attention) It was pretty high the day of my uterine surgery, but I was super stressed out/anxious.

My cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid and metabolic blood work is all good. What I could see of my EKG looked good; but then again, I didn’t get enough of a look to note if there were any prolonged QRS complexes or ST segments.

My stress level has been off the charts, and although that may not in its self be the root cause given my bad family history, it’s certainly not helping. Neither is having to leave tumors in my ovary for an as yet unspecified period of time.

I’ve worked through the initial phases of shock, depression and anguish and am back in fighting mode.

The first thing I did was get off the birth control hormones as they can contribute to high blood pressure and stroke in a woman my age.

The next thing I did was stop caffeine. I was able to order some decaf green beans from my usual supplier to roast, so I can still have lovely home roasted coffee/lattes.

Cold Turkey off of caffeine and hormones at the same time-Do I know how to party or what?

I also quit rinsing my mouth with salt water, which I was doing several times a day to assist in healing from the wisdom teeth extractions and mouth irritation from the braces.

I am getting back to my healthy eating habits (holidays pretty well trashed those) making a concerted effort to get back out for what exercise I’m allowed right now, and am trying to keep a good attitude.

Whenever life has thrown me ugly challenges (or tried to outright kill me, which has happened more than once) I always come back stronger.

As a Scorpio, one of my signs is the Phoenix.

I’ve risen from the ashes before (albeit slightly singed), and I’ll do it again.

Who knows, I could end up writing a successful book after all is said and done.

How timely that I’m sitting here looking at the sculpture that my dear friend Christina gave me for Solstice this year to commemorate the naming of my homestead “Phoenix Grove”.

004

Ah life, it’s always an adventure…

~L

Part Deux…posted as a service to those who have been “given way too much well meaning good advice” in times of stress

My friends have been a constant source of love and support.

With that said, whenever someone is going through a medical challenge they are often overwhelmed with advice…

I am offering up the following excerpt from an email I sent to friends and also posted as a FB note.

(It’s amazing how many people immediately responded sharing their own stories of being almost “loved to death” by their friends who didn’t realize that the well meaning onslaught of advice is overwhelming and stressful in its self.)

Between the three months of constant pain dumping stress hormones into my body at an alarming rate and all the other job/financial/death of a friend/creepy neighbor guy bugging me/surgery/tumor/etc… stress combined with the holidays (getting away from my normally very healthy eating habits) and not being able to exercise (my number one stress reducer) due to surgery recovery and prior to that hemorrhage, my body is pretty messed up and I’m most definitely “off my game”.

I had one friend ask me if I had not had my blood pressure checked in a long time (wondering how in the heck it could get that bad undetected) it was a good question; here’s the answer.

On September 14th (yes of this last year-just a few months ago) my blood pressure reading at the doc’s office was 116/70 (hadn’t been at work or drinking coffee that day so I was super calm), it started slowly creeping up from there over the next few months (but I’m often stressed just walking into a doc’s office and it was a morning appointment after I had a latte that also raises pressure, so it did not attract any attention) It was pretty high the day of my uterine surgery, but I was super stressed out/anxious.

My cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid and metabolic blood work is all good. Up until this point in my life, I have always been considered (by doctors) “disgustingly healthy”.

Many of you had given me excellent advice and insight.

I am going to state a few things here in hopes no one thinks I am disregarding or disrespecting their advice.

Everyone is different, and what works for one person, may not work for another.

Yes, I am aware that meditation helps.

However, at almost 50 years old, I have tried just about every method of counting breath, being aware of breath, Buddhist chanting, etc…

Sitting meditation is not my thing/is not in my psychological make up and has never done anything but frustrate me.

What DOES work to get me into a meditative state is “moving” meditation: yoga, walking, running, gardening, playing music/drumming so I’ll be concentrating on that. (I will however be trying the recordings that a friend sent me as I can lay and listen to them I the nest)

I have received numerous strong opinions/advice on diet (most with scientific studies to back up the claims) that a specific diet raw/vegan/vegetarian/paleo/south beach/fad diet de jour/etc… will take care of this without medication. Much of this advice directly conflicts with what the last person just told me and everyone is equally as passionate about what they believe will help (this is actually starting to add to my already monumental stress)

My body weight is normal (but on the high end of normal now, which means I need to get back to my workout schedule as soon as I can)

I am making my changes/taking action in steps.

I do have a medical and science background and do a lot of research (from diverse sources), so I am not stumbling blindly into this nor am I uneducated about how the human body works.

If I change absolutely everything at once, in addition to stressing out my mind and body, I won’t know what did and didn’t contribute to the cause or the cure. (I may never know due to the heredity factor, but science geek girls wants to try to know)

So I am going about this in a decisively methodical manner. (ooh, say that three times fast)

I’ve already cut out caffeine and my birth control hormones; both of these were done cold turkey last Wednesday, as they are known contributors and were easily in my control (and that 187/100 reading scared the hell out of me).

I was thrown into an unscheduled menstrual cycle (yeah, that was fun) which just ended yesterday. The caffeine wasn’t bad as I wasn’t drinking enough to create withdrawal. I love to roast and drink my own coffee, so I ordered some decaf beans/blends to roast and am happily enjoying equally wonderful morning lattes (it is my ritual) and not missing the caffeine. I will occasionally enjoy green tea, but am careful to have it only early in the day so it doesn’t mess up my sleep. Other than that, I’m drinking Hibiscus Bliss tea from Mad Hat.

I also stopped rinsing my mouth with salt water, which I was doing several times a day in order to heal up the wisdom teeth extraction sites and the abrasions from my braces (honestly, it’s like having a cheese grater in your mouth sometimes) No you don’t swallow it intentionally, but some does go down.

I don’t eat a lot of salt, I use it in baking because well, that’s chemistry is is sometimes required to get things to work properly, but in any other recipe I cut it in half, if not out completely.

I do not eat fast foods and rarely eat processed food. I even make my own soup and stock.

Since I know my eating habits went to heck over the holidays, and that is part of the problem, I’m getting back to the things I (through research, medical knowledge and trial and error with my own body) know work for me. (your mileage may vary)

I eat as much fresh, local and organic produce as possible (I have an organic garden in my back yard) and I try to eat my food in as much of an unprocessed natural state as possible.

I do eat eggs (my cholesterol numbers speak for the safety of them as does the current medical research) from my own back yard chickens, humanely raised and fed a vegetarian diet and free range during the day.

I eat salmon, and small amounts of other meat (occasionally, not every day) that is local and humanely raised as possible. If I want a burger or to make chili, I use organic buffalo (I’ve even been to the ranch it comes from).

If I eat bread or pasta (rarely) it’s whole grain and usually home made.

I have been a vegetarian; it does not work for me. I have no intention of becoming vegan. I understand that you who are are passionate about it think it is the best thing for me and the planet; please stop telling me to do it over and over again. (this is adding to my stress)

The same goes for you paleo folks (or anyone promoting any highly restrictive and/or fad diet) it is not going to happen, please stop adding to my stress by lecturing me about how your food plan/diet/philosophy is the best and only way to do it.

I have one latte in the morning with milk. It is organic, family farmed milk.

I DO NOT eat/drink Soy. It makes me violently ill, and there is plenty of research out there proving that it is pretty darn bad for us in the amounts/manner in which it is marketed by “big agri-business” as an alleged health food. I consider it little more than poison. If you’re interested do the research but for gosh sakes, please stop telling me to eat it.

I do not and will not eat “veggie patties/burgers” My philosophy is that the less processed a food is, the better able our bodies are to process it and utilize the nutrients. (see above note about eating food as unprocessed as possible)

I currently have one small glass of red wine in the evening after dinner. (yeah, I had quite a bit of champagne over the holidays, I’m a naughty monkey) and am doing my best to stick to that. I will, for the time being be turning down invitations to the wine shop, wine tastings and parties where it flows too freely (it’s too easy to say, “Sure one more little bit would be awesome” and or have your glass topped off when you’re not looking and end up consuming more than planned)

I am not allowed to do any strenuous exercise for the time being, so walking the dog (better, going to Ft Steilacoom dog park and walking around and around the big area not having to deal with a leash/keeping the dog in training mode) yoga (will start back up once I’m convinced of the safety of driving on the current medication dosage) and some poi spinning/hula hooping will have to do for now.

One of the biggest things I need to do is to decrease and manage my stress.

There will be times when I want/need to talk about all of this, and times where I need to not accept a call/return an email so that I can think of other stress reducing things. Please don’t take this personally.

I will ask that those who are super passionate and maybe upset because you love and care about me, please stop and think about how repeated (and I mean if I don’t answer turning around and calling right back a few minutes later after leaving a near hysterical voice mail message and then sending me an email YELLING (yes, all caps and underlined) demanding that I call you, take actions (based on you not even reading my email/knowing what I have or haven’t done) and doing things that are against my ethics (oh say like LYING) affect me.

There aren’t words to describe the feeling of going from “disgustingly healthy/athletic” to “sick/not even allowed to work out”. It is very depressing.

I need less stress not more and I know that none of you are trying to add to my stress (the vast majority of you are not), you are only trying to help me and are unaware how it comes across.

You have all been wonderful in your own way and I greatly appreciate the calm words of non-judgmental/non-lecturing support. (and I’m really amazed to know how many of you have dealt with this yourselves; it makes me not feel alone in it)

If any of you got through this long missive, thank you for reading and understanding.

I have another doctors appointment on Wednesday and will know more then.

~L



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Take My Uterus… Please…

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The first part of my medical saga began with what seemed to be the typical onset of perimenopause

My periods became heavier and heavier (even while I was on hormonal birth control which is supposed to keep them light) to the point that I was actually bed (or recliner) ridden two days a month.

I know some women have had bad issues from the onset of menstruation, I never did. I have run full marathons while menstruating. It never negatively impacted my life until I entered my very late 40’s.

I also had bad cramping and back aches for the first time in my life.

When I talk about bad cramping and/or being bedridden, I’m not being a wimp. I completed a full marathon with an resolved UTI that had gone into my kidneys, was up on skis teaching (that’s how I earned my living in the winter) seven weeks after fracturing my spine and pelvis. I completed the 10K portion of an Olympic Distance triathlon on a badly sprained, swollen, bloody ankle (with a chipped bone) from a bike crash in transition.

So how did such a psychotically “tough” woman end up bedridden over a simple biological function?

At perimenopause, the ovaries start kicking it into high gear, seemingly in a last ditch effort to get you to reproduce before it’s “too late”. I could almost hear the little buggars saying, “come on… you know you want to… it’s not too late…”

All of this increased and random activity creates heavy irregular bleeding and discomfort (oh, and it does wonders for one’s mood)

This is what I thought I was dealing with.

I tried diet, exercise and vitamins (in addition to being on the Nuva Ring) to see if I could get though it to no avail.

I decided to talk to my doctor about an endometrial ablation to get me through menopause. It’s an outpatient procedure in which the lining of the uterus is (burned/frozen/cauterized) so that it wont build up as heavy a lining that needs to be shed every month.

I know several women who have had this done and it has changed their lives. I also read hundreds of testimonies, both good and bad on various forums.

Of course, there was testing to be done prior to this procedure.

The pelvic ultrasound (which requires a painfully full bladder) shows an overview of the uterus and ovaries; then the trans-vaginal (they let you pee before that one starts) gets a closer view of everything from the inside.

Techs aren’t allowed to tell you anything, and the one I had was not a particularly good communicator but it was obvious from the number of pictures taken and the timing and type of questions that it wasn’t good.

I got the call the following Monday (test was on a Friday) that I had several fibroids (no biggie, while uncomfortable they are benign) and lesions on my ovaries. They did not know if the large mass on my (now extremely large) right ovary was hemorrhagic or solid. (solid is not good they are the ones that even if not cancerous, can turn into cancer later) I also had hyperplasia, unusual cell growth/thickening of the uterine lining which needed to be biopsied.

I would find out later that I had all three kinds of fibroids including the weird ones that twist on their stalks and that the largest one was pressing on my bladder (that would explain the UTIs I was getting)

So the game was changed before I even stepped on the playing field.

I was no longer just going in for a routine procedure to help my quality of life, but perhaps fighting for my life considering my bad family history.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to heal while dealing with all the stress, drama and politics at the day job so for my own well being, I left.

Life’s too short to allow oneself to be treated badly.

The last thing I needed at that time in my life was more stress. I cashed out a CD, took a bit out of retirement, paid my mortgage and utilities several months ahead and prepared to take on the task of dealing with the issue at hand.

I have other (granted smaller, less regular) income and can decide what I want to do career wise after all of this is said and done.

My doctor was kind enough to not do the biopsy the day I went in for it (having a scope and instruments jammed through your cervix is a nasty thing to have done) and rather to do it while I was under general anesthesia for a D & C.

The fibroids did not preclude ablation (a much easier procedure to recover from than a hysterectomy) but he chose a different method than the Novasure which involves a wire mesh being expanded in the uterus and radio waves being used to burn away the uterine lining. Instead, he chose the Thermachoice which is a balloon that inflates (conforms to the shape of the uterus around the fibroids better) which is then filled with liquid that burns away the lining.

First, the D & C (scraping away the lining with a surgical instrument) was done and the contents of my uterus sent off to pathology to be biopsied) was completed, and then the ablation. D & C is the treatment of choice for hyperplasia anyway, so it was a great way to avoid the painful in office biopsy.

Recovery was not bad at all, I even went to dance classes four days later (no abdominal work in jazz, no leaps in ballet) I did not have the next regularly scheduled period (just a few days later) and there was nothing much left other than a couple weeks of blood tinged discharge as is normal after such a surgery.

The biopsy came back benign which is a great relief.

This meant that if the fibroids behaved themselves and the ablation worked, I would not need any more surgery if the follow up ultrasound on my right ovary showed it was a cyst not a tumor.

No matter what it is or isn’t, I am not pleased that even while on hormonal birth control, my ovaries are firing off eggs like a machine gun. Ideally, hormonal birth control suppresses ovulation.

One month later, the ultrasound showed not only the large tumor, but a new smaller one.

The good news is, the fact that it didn’t substantially grow made the likelihood of it being cancer small, but the chance was still there, and there was a new one. Even if the tumors aren’t cancerous now, solid tumors are the ones that can turn cancerous later.

Normally, they would watch it for another cycle or two, but I really don’t have that option as my COBRA benefits will run out soon and surgery needs to be done with insurance, and my recovery needs to be over with in time for me to work.

Besides, who wants a tumor factory and what is basically a ticking time bomb in one’s body?

So on Jan 6th, I will be going back in for a more invasive surgery, this time to remove the tumors from the right ovary (and maybe the whole ovary if anything looks off)

If all goes well, this will be done laparoscopically which will still not be the full six week recovery for a hysterectomy. (if somethings too big, they could have to open me up)

In the mean time, I’m still in recovery mode with the uterus. My menstrual period begins today (according to the no NuvaRing in place for a week schedule, similar to a placebo week on the pill) so I’ll know in a day or two how well the procedure worked (although full results aren’t seen for three months) Of course, anything less than being bedridden on Wednesday and Thursday will make me happy.

Now here’s the best part…

At my last appointment my doctor asked me if I wanted to have kids.

Incredulously, I said, “Are you Crazy? At my age?”

He was required to ask because although the ablation technically makes it almost impossible for me to get pregnant, if there is enough tissue left around the fibroids for implantation to occur, a pregnancy would be life threatening (a dangerous tubal pregnancy is also possible)

So yes, at almost 50 years old, I am getting fixed (hey, go ahead and tie the tubes while you’re in there…)

How can you not laugh at that?

So now I have a break from medical, dental, oral surgery and orthodontic appointments (another post and saga all together) to enjoy the holidays and look towards early next year and my next surgery.

Heck, I could still have them take the uterus and right ovary out and be done with them. I could totally get through menopause on one ovary, I just don’t want the six week recovery time.

I can always buy a new uterus 😉

or knit one.

~L


What Kind of Person Would Use a Planned Parenthood Clinic Anyway?

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With heated legal and political battles raging around a woman’s uterus and the current vote to de fund Planned Parenthood, many conservative (and often financially well off) people are asking, “What kind of (trashy) person would use one of those clinics anyway?”

Putting the abortion issue aside so as not to confuse the issue, let’s talk about women’s health care. Let’s talk about the fact that these clinics save lives.

There are many women who work full-time who do not have health insurance.

Women need annual exams and screenings, not only of their overall health and wellness, but specifically of their reproductive systems.

One of the important screenings that women are recommended to receive every year is a pap smear to screen for cervical cancer.

If detected and treated early, cervical cancer is virtually 100% curable.

If not caught early, it can spread to the bladder, intestines, lungs, and liver. As you can well imagine, the prognosis once that has happened is not as good.

Back in the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s, I was one of those women who worked full-time (and volunteered in my community) but did not have health insurance.

With no insurance and a very modest income, I depended on Planned Parenthood and their sliding scales for my annual exams.

There was a period of a few years when I just stopped going as I was living in SE Utah where there were no such clinics in existence. I was young, healthy and nothing was going to happen to me right?

Wrong.

After having some odd spotting, I drove nearly 200 miles to Glenwood Springs Colorado (which was the closest Planned Parenthood clinic at the time) for an exam. A few days later, my results came back.

I had an abnormal pap smear, a follow up test confirmed that I had a pre-cancerous condition.

I was stunned, I had suddenly transformed from being young, healthy and care free to worrying about biopsies, cryosurgery and possibly cancer.

Not only did I have to worry about the fear, pain (anyone who tells you that there are no nerve endings in the cervix obviously has never had pieces of it torn/cut out for a biopsy) and logistics. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it.

Thankfully, Planned Parenthood worked on a sliding scale and I was able to pay based on my income.

I am convinced that the detection and treatment of my condition in the early stages saved my life.

Since that time, I have fought wildland and structure fires, saved lives as a paramedic and search & rescue technician, taught others to save lives as an instructor, protected the lives and safety of visitors to public lands, taught children environmental science, raised a child not born to me as my own, and volunteered for numerous organizations that support women, children, the environment, our community and cancer research.

THAT my friends, is the “kind of person” who would use a Planned Parenthood clinic.

I would like to think that saving lives and providing basic health care to women who can not afford it anywhere else, might be more important than funding a few missiles/bombs, tax breaks for the wealthy or corporate bailouts.

~L

Mood: WTF?



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Kicking It Into High Gear-Getting Fit in Tacoma

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I don’t do New Year’s resolutions-I do birthday/Samhain/Celtic New Year challenges at the end of October, but that’s another story all together.

January still lends its self to getting back on a schedule after the hectic holidays, and in the case of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, getting back on track so we don’t crash/bonk/vomit/have to push our bikes up hills

I got super out of shape last summer after breaking the foot/big toe, moving, renovating, etc… Then I took the nasty fall down the attic stairs, then the holidays (a time of year in which I take entertaining and celebrating quite seriously) hit.

January is IT by golly, I was going to do it! It was perfect timing; the holidays were over, I was healed up and friends were also motivated.

Well, of course, I got sick. Not only did I get sick, but I got hit with the upper respiratory infection from hell that took out almost everyone I knew (including the uber fit and healthy).

So I started (two weeks) late, but at least I DID start.

I need to be in good shape for Chilly Hilly at the end of February. Leo and I are ride reffing again, and it’s just bad form to vomit while pushing one’s bike up the hill when you are an event volunteer and supposed to look like you know what you’re doing 😉

Chilly Hilly 2010 009

Chilly Hilly 2010 020

January is when my running group, the penguins (yes, that IS because we waddle, why do you ask?) begins our virtual trek to Frostbite Falls (if you click on the link, my friend Karen explains the challenge which anyone is welcome to join)

Since I’m a “Tri-Penguin” I usually swim, bike and run to the falls (I’ve also been known to ski and snowshoe)

Since I’ve been on the spin bikes as opposed to my real bike, it’s taking me more than 100 miles to actually get there 😉

I keep a spreadsheet with distance/mileage, time, calories burned, elevation gain… to track my progress.

My friend Francine found a great smartphone/online program (yes, there are several including RunKeeper and Nike which a lot of my friends use) called Endomondo which not only helps track, but acts as a social networking/motivating tool.

What I like about this particular program is that not only can you use your GPS enabled smart phone to track and transmit your data. It will also take Garmin uploads (my preferred fitness tool, but it’s nice to know I can use my phone in a pinch) as well as manual data. It also supports many sports/activities that other programs don’t. You can also connect it to Facebook if you want to share your workouts with your friends.

My totals thus far: (remember, I didn’t start until Jan 15th, so it’s only two weeks, not a full month)

Cycling: 90 miles, 4048 calories, 5 hours
Running: 15.33 miles, 1998 calories, 4:42
Walking: 8.97 miles, 439 calories, 2:45
Swimming: 6 miles, 2453 calories, 4:30

I also tracked 4 upper body workouts, 0 miles, 476 calories, 2 hours

run in the park

So that’s 19 hours spent exercising…
120.30 miles covered
And 9,414 extra calorie burned (yes, that should be nearly three pounds lost, but since I’m gaining muscle back which weighs more than the fat I’m losing, I’m holding steady on the device to be avoided because it tells you nothing about fitness, the scale)

It’s a start.

If you want to join Endomondo to help motivate yourself and your friends (networking with friends sure keeps one honest on getting out there and doing it) you can do so by making with the clicky clicky here.

If you’re one of my friends and looking to connect, you’ll recognize this picture from last year’s St Paddy’s Day Dash in Seattle (the back side of my shamrock shorts says “feeling lucky”

In addition to sites such as the Penguin Runners and endomondo.com there are some great local resources.

Most Notably the “Y” (YMCA) of Pierce & Kitsap Counties Did you know that swim lessons from beginner to masters are included in your membership fee and that membership fees work on a sliding scale for those whose finances might not allow them to join otherwise?

Another is the Tacoma (Beer) runners

Another is the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club

We have a local version of the penguin list; it’s not been very active lately, but a group of interested locals could change that. Puget Sound Penguins

For those interested in Triathlon, there is South Sound Triatheletes

My short term event goals are Chilly Hilly, the Tacoma St Patty’s Day run, the Seattle St Patty’s Day Dash, and the Tacoma City Half Marathon. I haven’t set my triathlon schedule yet.

See you on the trails…

~L