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The Stories We Tell Ourselves August 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 2:42 pm

Photo credit: S. Zolkin/Unsplash

Photo credit: S. Zolkin/Unsplash

I know that I’ve been conspicuously absent (again). Yesterday I realized that I’ve been kind of holding my breath, since I got my thyroid diagnosis. I started on medication. And I’ve been dealing with my plantar fasciitis with a variety of measures: inserts, the Sock, visits to the chiropractor and podiatrist. 

I got a phone call from my doctor yesterday. “Great news!” she said. “Your thyroid tests came back normal!”

I was floored. You’d think I’d be jumping up and down with glee, but no. It was one of those moments of reckoning, when I realized I had to stop attributing my weight gain to my faulty thyroid. And I realized that for the past several months I’d been telling myself these stories:

  • I’m sick and low energy and my body doesn’t work right.
  • No matter what I do, it will be undermined by my bad thyroid.
  • Better not to do anything.
  • I’m in pain from my plantar fasciitis.
  • It prevents me from exercising. 
  • Better not to do anything.

I think about how I’ve responded to my various ailments this year (with fear and withdrawal), in contrast to how I responded when I first got my diabetes diagnosis five years ago. Then, the story I told myself was:

  • I’m not going to let this defeat me!
  • I’m determined to handle this and take control of this condition.
  • I CAN DO IT.

Big difference, huh? And of course these two stories yield vastly different results. I’ve been feeling really sad and glum and weirdly powerless. Which is so not me. Or not the “me” of the past five years. It’s been interesting, in a terrible kind of way, to see the huge power that our minds wield over our bodies. 

This weekend I went to a BBQ hosted by my trainer. One of the guys from the gym said to me: “Hey! Long time no see! WOW, you’ve put on some pounds, haven’t you?!” I didn’t know what to say. Except, “yes.” And then slink away and cry.

So, my doctor gave me the green light yesterday. She also jolted me out of my big Excuse that I wasn’t even totally aware I was hiding behind: that no matter what I did, my body wasn’t going to work right. 

I just went back and re-read the first couple months of this blog. I think I have some things to teach myself. I know it wasn’t a smooth road back then, but I had a kind of determination that is pretty absent these days. I am going to get back to more regular blogging, which = accountability, which I know from experience will = success. Hope you’ll be with me, people. 

UPDATE: I was just noodling around on WordPress and came upon my “What Foodie Eats” blog. (which has not been updated since 2011!) I remembered that that was one of my most effective tools ever- to take pictures of every single thing i ate. It really helped to make me that much more conscious, aware and deliberate. I had to consider: would I be willing to commit to eating this thing, and to sharing it? I’m going to give it a go again

 

Overdoing It, Newly Defined October 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 3:42 pm
on the couch

on the couch

It used to be that “overdoing it” meant trying to do an Olympic distance rather than a sprint triathlon. Or doing a half marathon instead of a 5k. I never would have dreamed that “overdoing it” could mean sitting on the couch for an hour.  But that’s what happened yesterday. I had what felt like the most modest of days.

  • I took a shower, got dressed and dried my hair.
  • I had two visits. I sat kind of propped up on the couch.
  • I sat up for dinner (total time = 10 minutes).

I didn’t feel like I was pushing it too much. But apparently it was. Apparently I can’t even lounge on the couch without paying a steep price. I’m back to my previous pain medication schedule. I have zinging, burning pains in my forearm and the hot-poker stabbing sensation between my shoulder blade and my neck. It really hurts to try and use a utensil, a pen, a toothbrush. (bending my neck + using my right arm is not a good combination) My stomach is feeling funky.

I’m discouraged. I’ve been trying to take it easy, really I have. But even the smallest of things, what feel like NOTHING, is still Too Much.

Wah.

I have been reading Jennette Fulda’s memoir, Chocolate & Vicodin, about her years-long battle with a terrible headache that would not go away. I am feeling like there is someone out there who understands. She started by thinking it would go away in a few hours, and then a few days. Starting with over-the-counter meds, then prescription meds, and injections, and MRIs and neurologists and acupuncturists, massage therapists and more. I turn the pages and I keep murmuring, I know. I KNOW. 

I am back to wanting the surgery. And thinking, if it doesn’t work, I just don’t know what I will do. But I will take that as it comes.

In the meantime, I’ll be trying another Alternative Treatment this afternoon.  We shall see.

 

Second Opinion October 25, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 9:00 am

photo credit: Sander Zelhelm/Unsplash

A lot of people know that I had a neurosurgeon appointment this afternoon. I’m blogging about it here rather than repeat the story every time someone asks, “How was your appointment?”

In a word, it was good. It was hopeful. I feel like there is light at the end of this tunnel.

I liked this doctor very much, and so did Mr. McBody. (for the record, we’ve liked ALL of them so far) He said, there is a chance it might improve on its own. There is a chance you could get through this without surgery. But there is also a chance that this very painful and unbearable condition could go on much longer.

He described a few possible surgical procedures that will most likely bring great relief. One of which was not discussed previously.  I’m not going to go into great detail here because … well, I just don’t want to. I feel like I want to make this decision together with this surgeon, my own self and with Mr. McBody. The options that he laid out made good sense to me and I am comfortable with them. I am going to research more over the weekend and give it some thought. I’ll say more when we know for sure what’s going to happen.

We are going to try and put one of these surgeries on the calendar for next week (probably Wednesday). But this depends on getting authorization from my insurance company, and getting onto the calendar at the hospital, and all that. A lot of things need to come together.

I also got a new medication that could possible alleviate some of the dreadful nerve pain. Cross my fingers, it could help. I started it tonight and we shall see.

The plan is to lay low, keep it unstressed and comfortable, and re-evaluate on Monday or Tuesday. If it feels the same or worse and it gets approved, we will go ahead and try to do the surgery midweek. But if it feels better… then we might wait a while longer. Wait another week or two and see if it might continue getting better. Maybe the surgery can be avoided.

So that’s the plan. I’m laying low. I’m crossing all the digits. I’m packing on the ice and continuing to do all I can in the supine position.

But I feel happy that there’s a plan. It makes sense. I’m ready for whatever comes next. I feel…. hopeful.

 

 

See Ito Tri August 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 10:10 pm

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I’ve been looking forward to the See Jane Run Triathlon for a very long time. It sounds like heaven to me – it’s a sprint distance so not KILLER to train for (I hope!), it will be warm weather so maybe not wetsuit necessary? and it’s mostly women so it will be super supportive and festive. This will be my third triathlon, and my most important triathlon goal for this time is to HAVE FUN.

Up until a few months ago, this all seemed so very do-able. But the hip pain that started plaguing me in March threw a real monkey wrench into this plan. Suddenly it became difficult to walk, let alone run a 5k, let alone alone add a swim and bike ride into the mix. This has been bumming me out, big time.

But this week, things are feeling a little different. A little more hopeful. For one, my hip has been feeling a lot better. On a scale of one to ten, instead of feeling in the 6-8s, the pain has been in the 1-3 range. Which is much, much better. Pain is no longer waking me up at night, which is an awesome relief. And I have started experimenting, gingerly, with activity.

I think the combo of anti-inflammatories and some chiropractic treatment have been helping a lot.

This week I’ve been up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina at a family reunion. I had had visions of myself just rocking away in a rocking chair on the back porch, but when people start talking about hiking to see pretty waterfalls, or going up to Grandfather Mountain (where my dad used to work, back in the day, as a traveling salesman), it has been very darn hard to resist. So I’ve been trying things.

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Yesterday I did a pretty steep but not very long (an hour?) hike up to these waterfalls. It was so beautiful. I was so glad to be there. I waited for the other shoe to drop, i.e. for the hip pain to really punish me that night or the next day. It didn’t happen.

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Today, I did some rock-clambering up at Grandfather Mountain and was treated to some pretty awesome views.

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It’s going pretty well. I think the inflammation has been decreasing, and I’m straightening up my alignment, and, well, I’m just feeling hopeful. Plus, I got an encouraging clarification – that maybe I do not have osteoarthritis after all (yet), but rather a condition called FAI (femoral acetabular impingement). Which has different implications. I am going to get more orthopedic input next week, and let’s just say I am feeling pretty optimistic.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I am going to get a new bicycle. I am going to begin training as soon as we get home from this trip. I am going to do this triathlon!!

AND I WANT MY PEOPLE TO DO IT WITH ME!

I swear it is a very do-able distance (400m swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run/walk/jog). It can take as long as you need. I will be there. It will be an amazing time.

I have had the incredible experience of accompanying other friends to See Jane Run events for their first 5k races. There is nothing as special and exhilarating than those kinds of firsts, especially in such a supportive and positive environment. The See Jane Run organization really knows how to make women athletes, but especially beginning athletes, feel spectacular.

There was a time when I might have looked at a sprint triathlon as a “no big deal I can do that in my sleep” event. (Okay, that time may have been a period of about five weeks of my life, but still!) I do not see it that any more. It is a BIG DEAL. And a WONDERFUL accomplishment. But by no means impossible.

As a SuperJane Ambassador, the SJR folks have given me a 10% discount code to share with friends and readers, so that you too can experience the indescribable feeling of being a triathlete. (and for the non-swimmers, there is also a duathlon option: bike + run combo)

It’s going to be this October 5th out in Pleasanton. I want my buddies to be there! Please please consider doing this, even if you have NEVER even in your wildest dreams thought of doing a triathlon. I will train with you! Slowly! Little by little. We can do this!

I’m not going to be breaking any speed records with this one. It’s quite possible that I will be walking a significant portion of the “run” part. But I will be swimming. I will be on a bicycle. It will be a wonderful celebration of being alive and saying yeah, let’s do this.

Join me? The discount code is: AMBTRI

Click here to register. C’mon.

 

Stepping Away From Fear August 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 11:22 am
Tags: , , ,

To say that I have been walking on egg shells for the last couple of weeks would be an understatement. I have been afraid of doing pretty much anything.

It has been both interesting and a little overwhelming to sift through the mountain of advice and comments that I have gotten here, on Facebook and in emails and in person since I have shared my situation.

So many of the opinions are in direct contradiction with each other. Some people say do not wait, do it as soon as possible. Other people say do not let anyone cut into you. Some say to take herbs. Others recommend different medications.

It is a little challenging to find my own way in all of this but I know that I welcome the varying viewpoints.

Right now, this week, I am taking a medication that has given me the first relief I have had since March. Yesterday I took a walk in my beloved Redwood Park and it was incredible how happy I was up there in the music to be able to walk for 45 minutes –Without any pain.

On Monday I will be visiting a chiropractor who was recommended to me. At the end of August I will be seeing a new orthopedist.

For now, I am very grateful to get a full night’s sleep where I do not wake up from pain. I am grateful to walk in the park.

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Race Recap: Oakland Half Marathon March 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 1:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

IMG_1038It’s been a long time since I last posted, and so much has happened I’ve been wanting to blog about. But alas, lack of time. The biggest thing to happen recently was the culminating event for my last season of Team in Training – the Oakland Half Marathon.

I love the Oakland Running Festival. So far I have “race” in three out of the four years since it started. The first year I did the Marathon Team Relay, the next year I did the 5k, I skipped a year last year and this year I did the half marathon. I love this event so much. It brings me so much Oakland pride. The bling this year was so beautiful and yeah, someday I might join MizFitOnline in getting this image tattooed on my self.

I was happy because I was running this one “with” (I put in quotes because I knew they would finish way ahead of me) my beloved training buddy Lily, as well as with Junior. We went to the race expo the day before to pick up our packets and check out the gear. Always an exciting and fun time.

She IS.

She IS.

Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small... :-(

Kinda annoyed bc the LARGE was too small… :-(

Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

Stopped by to say hi to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan!

I also went to my TNT Inspiration lunch, where we got pumped up and remembered why were doing this. I raised over $1500 total for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. After the lunch, I went home and decorated my shirt with the names of my personal honorees.

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So this was my fourth half marathon. (!!!!!) And my second one this year! After coming in with a 3.04 finish time at the Tinkerbell Half, I set in my mind that I wanted to try to finish sub-three hours for this one.  I decided that I was going to try and keep up a good pace throughout and not stop at all (or much).

The half marathon had the latest start I’d ever had at a race – 9:15am. But we got there a lot earlier and were able to see both the start AND the finish of the 5k, and that was super fun. I got to cheer in my couch-t0-5k running buddy Mary, as well as Sofia and her brother James.

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We got to hang around and soak up the general excitement near the start/finish line, and that was cool. I just love the happy, excited energy and races.

ready to go!

ready to go!

We got all lined up and took off. I didn’t really see much of Lily & Junior during the race because, as I said, they are both a lot faster than me. But it was okay. I was pretty happy just running through my city.

Miles 1-8 were, as I had expected, pretty steady and not too hard. But by the time we got to 8-9 (my usual Achilles heel) I was starting to flag a bit, and wondering if I might get some much needed support. Here I got caught by the official race photographers, digging out my phone to text my friend Lisa Marie. I knew she lived nearby and I was hoping to get a glimpse of her for some much needed energy.

calling for help

calling for help


The next stretch was along the Mandela Parkway. It’s a long, potentially lonely stretch and luckily there was some good stuff to pick me up along the way. First, I was out of my mind happy to see Lisa Marie! She was standing on a corner and gave me a quick hug and an encouraging cheer. I SOOOO needed that!

Next, some cool stuff. A fire-shooting Trojan horse thing. It was blasting flames about 20 feet into the sky. I was pretty impressed by that, and had to stop a second to take a picture.

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IMG_1017Then, some cool spectators on this super nifty bicycle umbrella thingie. I don’t know what the heck it was, but what a great vantage point, huh?

THEN a wonderful neighbor lady with a bucket full of orange wedges. OH that made my day! I was very grateful.

IMG_1019Around mile 10 I was passed by my awesome racewalking coach Carolyn. “Is that Susan Ito?” she said, as she sped on by. Dude. I was “running.” She was “walking.” I tried to keep up with her. I tried to catch her. I just could not. DAMN. She’s good.

She was so fast I couldn’t even snap a picture of her swiveling little butt.

Finally we came up upon the lake, which I have run so many times. I thought about how I had had such a tough time on this stretch during the 2010 marathon relay. Lo and behold, I started feeling the same darn tingling in my hands, the same almost-nausea, the utter fatigue. The wall was starting to come up in my face. I had been pretty much running with the same group of people in this last part, and we started giving each other verbal encouragement. We were all going at the same pace and pretty much all gritting it out.

It was hard. Damn it was hard. But I had my eye on my watch and I really wanted to get there under my three hours. I just kept going.

I knew the final tenth of a mile was going to be up a little but not insigificant hill. WHYYYYYY? How cruel is that. You run 26 or 13 miles and then at the end, you have to chug up a hill to get to the finish.

Luckily for me, Junior was sitting on that hill (having finished about an hour ago!). She jumped up when she saw me and ran next to me. You got this mama! I started getting all crumbly and emotional. I am pretty sure I was crying. She held my hand. She might have even pulled me up the hill. When we got to the very final flat spot before the finish, I broke off and SPRINTED in. I was feeling so… RAWR. See?

finish lineThen it was over. I had a tiny little episode of almost-asthma. I was all wheezy for a minute. Then I got myself together and got my medal and found my peoples and found a bathroom (um, with NO TP. BOOOOO. So I had to run outside and find a copy of the Wall Street Journal, which I used instead. Haha) and then collapsed on the ground with our beautiful medals.

IMG_1021Then I found my buddy Estelle who had just completed her leg of the relay. How cool to see her there!

IMG_1027Then I saw my coach Al from Team in Training (“I knew you could do it!” he said) and I got some chocolate milk and my 13.1 Finishers’ Pin from the team manager at the TNT table.

IMG_1032 IMG_1033By then I was in a pretty jovial mood. I figured out that I had beat my PR by a whole bunch. My last PR was 3:04, and I finished this one in 2:49. Fifteen minutes! Woo hoooooo! Time to celebrate!

IMG_1036We gathered up our friends and family and headed over to Barney’s Burgers. I haven’t had a milkshake, in like, YEARS, but I was ready and felt very deserving. Lily and I split a Turkish coffee shake and enjoyed every last drop.

IMG_1042Junior, Josh (our housemate from last year who was back for a visit) and Juniorette enjoyed their Oreo coffee shake as well.

IMG_1044It was happy times. I was really happy to be doing this event surrounded by so many people I loved, in the city I love. I felt really happy with my time. I know that my struggle at the end had everything to do with how hard I pushed it.

After lunch, we headed back home. I took a much needed shower and spent the rest of the afternoon in bed with a gel pack on my butt/hip. Naptime.

IMG_1058I felt really proud of this one. Even though it was hard, I struggled a lot less than I did for the relay, half that distance, three years ago. I am definitely getting better.

My next half marathon is in June – the See Jane Run race which I will be doing with my friend Shannon. My goal for that one is to not break any speed records but instead to support her, to have FUN and to feel happy crossing that finish line. It doesn’t always have to be about pace. I am happy that I proved to myself I could break that three-hour mark. But next time, I’m in it for fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Colonoscopy (A Public Service Message) March 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Susan @ 11:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The Worst Part

So, let me start this post with the disclaimer that Mr. McBody performs colonoscopies for a living. That is his job. And ever since I turned the ripe old age of 50, he has been bugging me. Incessently. He says that Everyone Needs to Have A Screening when they turn 50. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I said. I put it off.  And put it off. Over and over again.

But then I remembered what happened the last time he bugged me to get tested for something. He was Worried about my Health. As it turned out, he was correct in his worry. I had pre-diabetes. Then diabetes. He kind of knows his stuff.

He did not think there was anything wrong with me, but he has come home more times than I can count, to tell of people who came in, had their screen, in which Stuff Was Found. And either it was a great thing, because it was found Early, or it was an awful thing, because it was found Late. So many cautionary tales.

I was NOT looking forward to this (can ya tell?). But finally I bent to spousal pressure as well as good old common sense. I made an appointment with a lady doctor in his same practice. Whom I like and trust.

I was dreading this. (Oh, did I already say that? Silly me). I had had my share of Drinking Unpleasant Drinks for many a glucose tolerance test. On at least one occasion I drank it too fast (trying to get it over with) and ended up throwing up, and much sadness and despair ensued, because of course, I had to start all over again.

He came home with a freaking GALLON of stuff. As well as a smaller bottle, and some other good things to get me “clean as a whistle.” (do not read on if you are squeamish, or averse to TMI, because I’m gonna go there, albeit in language that is as coded as possible)

The first night (Sunday) I began to Prepare. Which meant drinking the first small bottle. This was not so bad because my Method (believe me, Method is KEY to this process) was to eat small amounts of Very Salty Food, and then guzzle the drink. It was both salty and sweet. I put it in a big glass of ice. I downed it. Subsequently, my hands and feet became SO VERY COLD I could barely feel them. I think this had to do with all of the blood rushing posthaste to my gut, thus leaving my poor extremities without a drop of circulation. It was shivery, but I went to bed with 3 pairs of socks and a couple of quilts. I managed.

Monday – the big DAY OF PREP (also known as a holiday, or President’s Day, to the rest of you. I hope you enjoyed it!!). I was to eat nothing but Clear Liquids all day. For those who do not know, clear liquids include chicken buillion, Jello, popsicles (NOT the fruit kind), and soda or tea or water. 

Mr. McBody had had his own colonoscopy a year or two before. He said that the Method he liked the best, was to take a sip of the Vile Stuff, and then follow it with a “chaser” of Crystal Light lemonade. I tried this Method for about one glass, or 8 ounces worth. It took me the better part of two hours.

He shook his head in utter dismay. “You have about 30 more of those glasses to go,” he said. I cried. He was exaggerating of course, but the truth was I had barely made a dent in the enormous gallon jug. The vile stuff, for those of you who are curious, is called “GoLightly” (hahahah) and tastes like thickened salt water. With an aftertaste I can’t even describe, it is so horrible.

I finished the 2nd glass. It was after noon. I was beginning to feel incredibly desperate. He informed me that the output of my body was supposed to look like “pee.” Believe me, it looked nothing remotely like that. 

I decided to attempt my own Method. I mixed the Vile Stuff with its own Crystal Light. Rendering it very sweet and salty and icky. But better than Just Salty. I chased it, not with more liquid (which I could not bear) but with a heaping spoonful of orange flavored Jello. Suddenly I was very, very grateful to the makers of Jello. (or, I think it is, Jell-O)

In this manner I managed to get down about 80% of the ENTIRE GINORMOUS JUG. But it took until about 2am to do so. Meanwhile, our dear Junior was calling frantically from across town. HER tummy was upset. VERY upset. (was she having sympathy pain? Or…?) 

It turned out that she had a gastrointestinal virus, coincidentally. Dear Mr. McBody, who has more tolerance of gastrointestinal distress than any human I know (thus his calling and profession) drove down there and offered her comfort in her many hours of distress. Between the two of us, what a pair.

I entered the Surgery Center at around 9:00am.  Everyone was extremely kind to me. All I remembered is the nurses repeating, “Your biggest job in here is to pass gas when it is done.” I was like, Huh?

Then I woke up. There was a terrible, awful, no-good pain right around my midsection. All around me, on other side of the curtain walls, people were merrily farting away. One guy was like, “I’m so good at this!” BRRRRRRPPPPPP. He was in pig heaven. But I was having trouble producing more than tiny little toots, and thus there was a ton of gas or air or whatever in my transverse colon, and it hurt like the DEVIL. I cried. My husband came in and said that this complication happens in about one out of a thousand people. It made me feel Special, and not in a good way.

Finally, I farted enough of the air out and I felt better. Mr. McBody took me out for a nice brunch since I felt like I hadn’t eaten anything solid or proper in a MONTH (it had only been about 36 hours). Then I went home to bed.

What I learned was that I had 3 benign polyps inside me. They were all removed. Then I felt gratitude to him for bugging me. Because polyps that are not removed, often grow into Bad Things, and then it is Too Late, and even worse things happen than having to drink icky Salt water. Those polyps are gone now.

I have to do this again in two years. (rather than the 10 years it would be had there been no polyps at all) I am stocking up on Crystal Light and Jell-O, and maybe I will take some classes at Farting School. 

All in all, I am grateful. I am glad to have had this Unfun test which I am quite sure prevented me from having even worse things take place.

SO: public service announcement. If you are 50 or close to it, GO GET A COLONOSCOPY. And: stock up on the Jell-O. You’ll thank me. 

That is all.

OH and PS. I have mysteriously dropped some previously stuck-on poundage since the Procedure. I wonder if this might have something to do with being Clean As A Whistle. In any case, I’m not complaining. 

 

 
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