Category Archives: Health

Another Weight Loss Challenge (or Getting Back On Track)

This past week, a new weight loss challenge got started at Orangetheory. This challenge is only for the month of June and there aren’t too many requirements for it. Mainly it’s a weigh in at the beginning and end of the month and I have to do a certain number of workouts (it’s either 15 or 16 but I know I’ll get that done). There will be a prize for the winners, but they haven’t announced what that will be yet.

I’ve done a couple of the weight loss challenges at Orangetheory and they are a fun challenge to do. I’ve placed in one of them, but usually I’m not able to do that because it’s based on a percentage of weight loss and I have more weight to work with. But I like that it’s a challenge with everyone supporting each other and that nobody is too competitive. Everyone is excited for everyone else and I am just as happy seeing someone else win as I was when I placed in second.

While my focus right now hasn’t been on weight loss, it should be again. I was trying to lose weight before my liver surgery and I didn’t do as well at that as I had hoped. And after finding out that my surgery was cancelled, I stopped stressing about losing weight and got focused on getting my life back to normal. It was important to get my life back (and I’m honestly so much happier now than I was before), but I need to focus back on my health again. And yes, I’m aware that losing weight can totally be related to getting my life back. It just hasn’t been that way in my mind recently.

I think that my exercising is pretty close to what I need it to be right now. I probably should be doing more on my days off from Orangetheory, but working out 4 times a week is pretty great. My trouble is (and pretty much always has been) food. I hate how hard dealing with food can be for me. I’ve said it before that I wished that my addiction issues were with something that I could avoid every day and not something I had to deal with 3 times a day. But that’s the hand I’ve been dealt and I just have to work with it.

I had lost quite a bit of weight around the time I found out I had the tumors and managed to keep most of it off. But it has slowly been creeping back up on me over the past month or so. I haven’t gained all of it back, so that is a victory for me. But I’m up about 10 pounds from where I was and I want to get back down to that and to continue to lose more. Ideally, I want to get to my goal weight/goal size and stay there. But I also know that this journey isn’t a linear one and can easily have lots of ups and downs. That’s how my journey has been for pretty much my entire life and I have no reason to believe that it would be any different now.

So while I’m doing this weight loss challenge this month at Orangetheory, my main goal isn’t necessarily to win. Winning would be awesome and I’d love it if that happened. But I can’t just compare myself to other people like that. What other people are able to do shouldn’t affect what I can do. And I just need to focus on myself and use this challenge as a personal one. If my personal challenge ends up winning, great. But if it doesn’t I don’t want that to affect how I feel about any weight loss that I have this month.

Hopefully, things will be able to get back on track this month and I will be back down to (or lower than) the weight I was before. I still have some big weight loss goals that I’m trying to accomplish and I know that I have to take baby steps to get there. The first step is to get back to where I was and keep going. I actually reset my weight tracking app to start at what I weigh now so I don’t have to see the recent weight gain. Seeing that gain was actually causing me to feel less motivated and even though the number is the same now, I feel much better about it. I feel like I’m starting fresh and able to kick some butt again.

Maybe in a month I’ll be sharing with you all that I placed in the weight loss challenge. That would be awesome. But to me, what would be even more awesome is if I could tell you all that I lost the weight I gained recently and am still continuing to lose. That is the best thing that I could hope for right now and I really want that to be true.

Dentist and Disneyland (or Having Fun Things To Look Forward To)

After my past few dentist appointments, I’ve tried to schedule a Disneyland afternoon. This helps me stay calm at the dentist since I’ve got something good to focus on. It’s a nice tradition that I’ve started and I’m glad that it seems to help to keep me calm. So when I found out that I had a dentist appointment this week, my first thought was to call my friend Michelle to see if she wanted to go to Disneyland. And ironically, she had a dentist appointment that day too so we decided to go after we were both done at the dentist.

I didn’t have the best dentist appointment. This was the big appointment where I meet with the dentist and get x-rays. And one of the fillings that was done 14 years ago is now chipped and I will need some work done to fix it. Hopefully that will only be another filling, but there is always the possibility that it will be a crown. This isn’t fun, but I have to do it. Hopefully since I’ve had so many more needles lately I won’t react as badly to the numbing shot. But I won’t know until I have my dental work appointment.

My dentist is a block away from Michelle’s house, so I had parked my car at her house and walked to the dentist. When I was done, I walked back over to her place and we got into her car and headed to Disneyland!

Because I had my big dentist appointment, it was a bit later than I usually have dentist appointments. So we were driving down to Disneyland in the start of rush hour traffic. There are some carpool lanes on the freeways that we take, but it still was a bit of a longer drive than we are used to. But since we were both feeling pretty chill about this Disney adventure, we didn’t mind things taking longer for us. And once we got parked, we were able to get onto a tram to the park really quickly!

The only ride we really wanted to ride was Hyperspace Mountain since that will be closing and the ride will be the normal ride again next week. But we also both needed something to eat (I don’t usually eat much before dentist appointments and I was so hungry). We thought about trying to see if we could get into Blue Bayou, but they weren’t doing any walk ups at that time. They told us we could come back later, but we were both pretty hungry so we headed over to Plaza Inn for some pot roast.

I usually don’t get this to eat, but it was pretty good and filling! And it’s always nice to sit down to eat and not feel too rushed. The park was pretty crowded between people being there after work and people celebrating graduations, so to be away from the crowds was good.

After that, we headed over to California Adventure to wait until our time to ride Hyperspace Mountain. The new Guardians of The Galaxy ride will be opening this weekend and the entire park is going to be doing a summer of heroes event. I don’t think anything has started yet, but the signs were up as we walked into the park.

I know I’ll be in the park at least once before I’m blacked out for the summer, so I’m excited to get to see what offerings will be in the park. They’ve already promoted a fun menu and I think that it will be nice to see what else is happening.

Once we got to California Adventure, we did a bit of window shopping and then headed over to the Animation Academy. My biggest issue with drawing is drawing circles. And of course, the character we were drawing was Mickey Mouse, which is all circles! But I think in the end both of our drawing look pretty decent!

We headed back to Disneyland after that to ride our ride, and I got a moment to admire how much my new key chain matches the park!

We had a good ride on Hyperspace Mountain. Our photo didn’t really come out, so I don’t have a ride photo to share (sorry!). But we were both just taking in the ride and enjoying all the fun things they added for the Hyperspace overlay. I don’t know if this overlay will come back, but I hope it will eventually. But I think I agree with Michelle when she said it will be nice to have the regular ride back. It’s had this overlay for quite some time and I think the normal ride is going to feel special again.

Our last ride that day was Buzz Lightyear since Michelle and I have our year-long competition happening with that ride. I guess I’m really lucky that one time I scored a really high score on that ride, because Michelle is always beating me! And this time was no exception. But in our year-long battle, I’m still ahead!

With the park being as crowded as it was and both Michelle and I tired from our dentist appointments, we were ready to head home. And we realized that the parade was going to start so we wanted to rush out before it started and it became difficult to leave. But even with rushing out of the park, I took a brief moment to get a photo of how pretty Main Street looks at nighttime.

It’s always magical at Disneyland, and at nighttime it seems even more magical. After getting out of the park, we made one more stop at World of Disney in Downtown Disney. There were a few things that I had been debating about getting and I wanted to look in the store to see prices and to think carefully about what I wanted to spend my money on.

I’ve been wanting the Disney ice cube tray since I had seen it months ago, and I finally decided to get it. And right next to it was a really cute votive holder that I couldn’t resist getting. And I’ve been looking casually for a new mug (the ones I have are all chipping and are pretty old) and had never found a Disney mug that I loved. But this time, there was a really cool mug that didn’t scream Disney that I had to get!

It’s a bit of a splurge to get stuff at Disneyland, but I rarely do it. And it wasn’t too expensive even with all 3 items so I figured I could find other places I could cut back this week to make it work with my budget.

Michelle and I were only at Disneyland for about 4 hours and we really didn’t do much, but it was a perfect post-dentist outing. I know I won’t be able to go after my big dental appointment since that is so late in the afternoon, but I’ve already got a Disney day planned for June. And there’s always a chance I’ll have another random Disney day before I’m blacked out for the summer!

Explaining Myself (or It’s Not Disappointment)

It’s been over a month since I was supposed to have surgery. By now, pretty much everyone in my life knows that my surgery was cancelled and the situation around that. I tried to email and text most of my friends as soon as I knew and many other people found out though here or social media. But every so often, I’ll run into someone who had no clue that I didn’t have surgery. Sometimes they are surprised to see that I’m looking so good or out and about and sometimes they are just assuming everything went fine and I forgot to tell them about it.

Each time I run into someone who didn’t know (or I meet someone new who is finding out about the situation), I feel like I have to explain the entire thing. I have tumors, they aren’t supposed to shrink, somehow they did shrink, we don’t know how it happened because I didn’t change anything in my life, I don’t know what’s next for me. And so often people tell me that I sound disappointed that I didn’t have surgery and I should be grateful that somehow I beat the odds.

It’s not easy to explain that I am grateful. I didn’t want surgery. I was stressing about surgery from the day I found out I would be having it. But at the same time, I spent 6 months knowing that I have tumors inside of my body and was excited to get them out of me. Now I only have 2 tumors so at least there aren’t 3, but I still have to be ok with the idea that there are 2 tumors just hanging out in my liver.

But even though I’m grateful, I’m still a bit skittish about this all. I am supposed to have my next MRI in about 4 months to see what’s going on (as long as there’s nothing that causes me to need a MRI sooner). Once that happens, I’ll meet with the surgery to make a new game plan. We have already discussed a bit of a plan where if the tumors are bigger I’m having surgery and if they are smaller we are going to keep waiting. But if they stay the same size as they are now, it’s a bit of a gray area.

My tumors are small enough and in a position in my liver that they aren’t as risky for me to keep as they were before. But there are still potential risks for me later in life if they stay in there. So there is this great unknown of what the next step will be or if I will be having surgery in the future. One thing I love about my OB/GYN and my liver surgeon is that neither of them are afraid to tell me that they don’t know the answer to something. But it’s a bit frustrating when neither of them know what the long-term plan for me will be.

And if I do sound disappointed about any of this, it’s because I had a plan in place. I was going to have surgery, the tumors were going to come out, and that was going to be that. Now I’m in another situation where I don’t know what my future will be and I don’t like that. I don’t know if in the fall we will have to plan for surgery and then I’ll need to do a lot of the same prep work that I had just done. Or maybe I’ll continue to be a miracle, the tumors will be smaller, and they will be small enough that there are pretty much no risks for me anymore.

The other weird feeling I’ve been dealing with is wondering at times if I totally imagined this all. Maybe I needed the surgery to make it feel real? I’ve had this feeling with some pretty intense news in the past. When I found out my mom had cancer or my grandpa died, I was almost wondering if I dreamt it and it wasn’t real. I was almost scared to talk to a friend to get support because I wondered if somehow I’d find out that it wasn’t true and would feel silly. And that’s a bit of what I’ve been feeling about my tumors. I made a huge deal about them and then it became almost nothing. I feel like I shouldn’t have made such a fuss about them (even though there was no way for me to know they would shrink). But nobody has been making me feel bad about things, only myself.

I know that most of you reading this understand my feelings. I’ve had several friends who have dealt with medical issues totally get what I’m talking about. It’s a weird feeling to want to be grateful but be worried at the same time. And hopefully as time goes by this feeling will be less intense and less often. It’s gotten so much better over the past month and hopefully the next month will make it less of an issue. And eventually, this will maybe just be a weird story that I can share from time to time without having any feelings attached to it.

Feeling Normal Again (or Happy To Be Back In Control)

My last few posts have been about getting back to my usual self. While I haven’t been writing about that too much, I think this is something that I’ve been struggling with for a while. It’s easiest to say that I’ve been struggling since I found out about the tumors because it seems like I’m splitting my life into before tumors and after tumors.

As soon as I knew about the tumors, my life got crazy. There was the scheduling of tests and planning for surgery, but that wasn’t what really got to me as much. It was the disconnect I felt with my body and life because I couldn’t understand how I could have massive tumors and not know about them. I felt out of control and not in charge of my own body and life. It’s such an odd feeling and I wasn’t able to express myself properly.

Control is a weird thing for me. Eating disorders are usually all about control. I question if mine is a control thing since I’ve likely had my eating disorder since I was a kid, but maybe it has a little to do with that. I control what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat. While I do feel like I’m in a trace while I’m having a binge episode, maybe there is an element of control in that. So to feel out of control isn’t the best thing for my eating disorder.

And when I found out the surgery was cancelled, my first feeling wasn’t one of relief but one of feeling out of control even more. Now, not only did I have tumors and not know about them but they were able to shrink and there’s no way to know why and I can’t control the shrinking. Also, I didn’t know my tumors were shrinking so I was not able to control anything about that.

I really do feel like my soul and body have healed a lot in the past few days. I don’t know what triggered it, but getting back to my regular life is probably a lot of it. I’m a creature of habit and routine and being able to get back into my routine from pre-tumor time is nice. I haven’t had that since October (when we found out there was something wrong with me) and now that I’ve had a few days in my old routine it’s been very reassuring for me. There are still tumor related things in my life (no birth control pill, needing more medical tests, the possibility of surgery in the future), but this is the closest I’ve been to my old routine in a long time.

I’ve been having such a feeling of calm while doing things that I’m used to doing. Being back to a normal work schedule (and not having to work extra hours to bank them for time off) is so nice. I have free time 2 work mornings a week so I can do errands or just take my time getting ready for the day. I’m adding fun things back into my calendar and not stressing about how I’m spending my time after work (before, I was worried if I should be doing something to prepare for surgery instead of having fun). I’m able to get back to auditioning when opportunities come up and not worry about when the shoot dates are. And I can put the idea of my tumors in the back of my mind when I can.

I’m sure that the tumors are going to be something I worry about the rest of my life. Even if at my next MRI they appear to be completely gone, I will still be at risk for them to come back with any hormonal changes I will have in my life (pregnancy and menopause are the two biggest ones I’ll have to worry about). And if I am pregnant in the future, I will have to be monitored a bit more than most women. But I’m lucky that I have an awesome OB/GYN who has been doing so much research on the tumors and how to take care of patients with them. So I think I’m going to be fine as long as I have her as my doctor.

It’s weird how nice it is to feel like I have control again in my life, but I’m glad that I figured out what was making me feel off and how I could fix it. I’ve been wanting to feel normal again for so long and I guess it just took some self-discovery to figure out what it would take to make that happen.

It’s A Fitness Challenge (or Being Calm and Plank Time)

Last month, I set my monthly challenge to work on staying calm. That was a pretty easy challenge to do, but I had that be easy on purpose. I wasn’t sure what I was going to be able to accomplish last month and I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. Of course, I ended up not needing a simple challenge for the month and I was feeling like I didn’t really get that much done. I’ve really gotten used to pushing myself in my monthly challenges and last month didn’t push me. I didn’t know that my month was going to be the way it was, so I can’t be too upset. But that got me thinking about what would challenge me a lot in May.

As I mentioned yesterday, I realized in last week’s workouts how tough it was for me to hold a plank. I used to be great at doing a basic plank and could hold it for over a minute without any issues, but most of the time in workouts now they are planks with other movements too. It’s been a while since I’ve focused on holding a plank and it’s something that I just assumed I could still do. That’s not the case and I want to get back to having my core be as strong as possible.

There are a ton of 30 day plank challenges out there (even though May is 31 days, I can use a 30 day challenge and just repeat the last day). I’m going to be using an app I already had on my phone, but it seems like the set up is pretty similar to something I found online.

I don’t know if I’ll be doing the rest days, but it’s nice to know they are there in case I need it. I have a feeling that it’s going to seem really easy at the beginning but once it gets to doing them for a minute it’s going to be very tough and challenging for me. And that’s exactly what I want in a monthly challenge!

I think doing another physical monthly challenge will be good for me. Since I discovered I have the liver tumors, I’ve had some very mixed feelings about my body. I feel like my body has betrayed me because getting these tumors is such a rare thing. I’ve been working so hard on improving my body and my body decided to screw it all up. But I also feel so grateful for the strength I have now because I’ve been able to do at least 2 5Ks with the tumors in me (I have no clue how long I’ve had the tumors so maybe all my races have been with them). And by some miracle, my body has been able to shrink the tumors when nobody thought that would be possible.

Because I’ve had those mixed feelings, I need something that should be totally positive for my body and to help me reconnect with myself. It’s weird how disconnected I’ve felt lately and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced disconnection like this before. I had a similar feeling when I rapidly lost weight on the UCLA RFO diet, but this time it was even worse. I didn’t feel like I had any power over my body or what it was doing. I didn’t feel like I had control like you should have. And once I found out the tumors shrunk, that feeling continued because I don’t know what shrunk the tumors and I didn’t feel any different. How am I supposed to be connected to my body when I don’t feel the difference between a 10cm tumor inside of me versus it only being 4cm? I need to get back to feeling like myself again and I think doing a physical challenge will help me.

At the end of this month, I’m supposed to be able to hold a plank for 300 seconds. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to do that, but it will be interesting to see how close I can get to it. But if I can’t do it, that’s not what the priority of this challenge is for me. I need to reconnect to myself, feel strong again, and take control of my body in a healthy way. And hopefully by the end of this month I will be able to say that I accomplished that!

I know some of you have also been doing monthly challenges and I’d love to know what you are doing for May. And if you are doing a plank challenge, hopefully we can support each other.

A Short Workout Week (or I Would Have Ended On A High Note)

When I thought that this past week of workouts was going to be my last week before surgery, I knew it would be a short workout week. There were only so many days in the week before Thursday and I booked 3 classes in a row so I could at least get 3 classes in. And once my surgery was cancelled, I decided to keep my workout schedule the same since my parents would be in town and I was going to spend time hanging out with them. But if this week had been my last week of workouts before a long break, I would have been pretty happy with myself. It was a great week of workouts and I felt super accomplished!

Monday’s workout was one that I had heard about online the week before. It was called the Everest Challenge and it was 23 minutes on the treadmill all at inclines. We started out at 2% incline and went all the way up to 15%. I’m not that used to being at the much higher inclines as I was before so my goal was to try to wait as long as possible to reduce my speed on the treadmill. I made it until 13% incline at my usual walking speed that I use for my base pace and then I dropped it down a bit for the last 2 inclines. And even though I spent the entire time walking and sometimes walking slower than I’m used to, I still got 1.3 miles done during class.

The floor was mainly upper body work which was good after all those hills on the treadmill! The first block was chest presses, hammer curls, squats with shoulder work, and a 250 meter row which I got done in 50 and 48 seconds. The second block was a lot of work using the weight bench including leg lift ab work. I usually can’t do the leg ab work because of my hips but I decided to test it out and found that I could do them with a decent range of motion. It took me forever to do all my reps for the ab work, but I did it and that’s what matters! I totally felt it in my core and not in my hips which is a huge victory for me.

Tuesday’s workout was a power day that was a very unique switch format. There were 6 total blocks, but it wasn’t just floor, treadmill, or rowing blocks. I started on the treadmill and had all push to all out paces. Since there were no base paces, I was able to run everything. Next, I moved to the floor where it was all work with the Bosu ball. I had lunges, squats, mountain climbers, and sit ups all using the Bosu. Then it was back to the treadmill where we had more push to all out paces but in between each set we had squat bicep curls. Then it was to the rower where we had sprint rows with squat shoulder presses. Back to the treadmill again for more push to all out paces. And finally I was back on the floor for lunges, chest presses, and pop jacks.

It wasn’t an easy workout, especially for a power day which usually are my favorites. Moving around like that was fun and it was a nice switch from the standard blocks that we do most of the time. Even though it was tough, I was having a lot of fun and felt like I was challenging my body more than normal because the blocks were so short. I also had to think more about my workout than I usually do because it wasn’t the routine that I’m used to. All of these things are good things that challenge me that I don’t get to do as often as I probably should.

My last workout of the week was on Wednesday which was an endurance day. Originally, when I thought this was going to be a big deal workout since it was going to be my last one for a while, I tried to get a bunch of friends to sign up for a class with me. But once I heard that surgery was cancelled, some of my friends decided to try another class another time. It’s not a great time for many of my friends to take class and I’d rather have them in a class where they are more relaxed and not stressed about traffic.

The workout had 2 different 6 minute distance challenges on the treadmill. I know that I can totally run for 6 minutes and I was excited to see what I could do during the challenges. It’s not easy to do these challenges sometimes because I overdo it in the beginning and then the second challenge suffers. This time, I took it easy the first time just to get more comfortable with a longer run. But even though I took it easy, it wasn’t easy. And for the second attempt, I bumped my speed up more just because I wanted to be able to beat myself. And I managed to do over .5 miles each time which it pretty great for me!

Between those challenges we also had a regular treadmill block. I did my normal plan of walking all my base paces and running my push and all out paces. I probably could have run the entire time, but I wanted to save my energy for the last distance challenge. And I’m glad I did that because I’m so happy with both of my distances.

On the floor we had 2 blocks that were a nice mix of work. We had alligator and tricep work on the straps, 4 point plank and sit ups for core, and burpees and mountain climbers for all over body work. Plus, we also had a 600 meter row that I did in 2:28. Overall, the floor work was pretty awesome but I unfortunately was hit with some bad nausea while on the floor and I forgot to pack my anti-nausea prescription in my pill container I keep in my purse with the medications that I don’t take all the time (I keep pain pills in that container mainly). I was taking a lot of breaks on the floor to make myself feel better so I didn’t get as many reps in as I could have done. But it was important for me not to push things too much because I didn’t want to make the nausea worse.

Overall, these were 3 incredible classes where I got to push my body a lot and worked really hard. And if these were my last classes before surgery I think I would have felt ok about that. Of course, I’m much happier that I didn’t have surgery and I’m not missing any classes now. I’m back to my regular workout schedule already and can keep working toward more and more goals! I’ve got about 6 months before my next 5K race and I’m already looking at my workouts as training for that!

Celebrating Not Having Surgery (or Getting To Have Some Family Time)

Today was supposed to be my surgery day. I had planned out blog posts to write while I was going to be in the hospital and how to document my recovery the best way possible. I think I’m still in a bit of shock that the surgery was cancelled and that I’m not going to have to worry about all of that right now. There is still a chance I will be having surgery in the future, but unless something crazy happens soon it won’t be for at least another 6 months or so.

My entire family did so much planning to make sure that they would be able to help me as much as possible through surgery and recovery. While most of my family wasn’t going to be able to be in LA with me, my parents made plans to come to LA for a week to help me get through everything. My parents have come to LA in the past to take care of me after I’ve had surgeries, so I expected that they would do the same this time. But I’m still aware how lucky I am that my parents have the ability to come here to help me out when I need it.

Since the surgery was cancelled, a lot of things have changed but one thing hasn’t. My parents are still going to be in LA with me for the week. I don’t think my parents have ever spent a week with me in LA outside of taking care of me after a surgery, so this will be pretty cool. We are slowly filling our calendar with some fun things that we’ve been wanting to do so we can enjoy this weeklong hangout. I’m going to take a few days off of work since I banked so many hours so I can spend a lot of time with them. But I’ll also be working a little bit as well so I still have some hours saved if I need them in the future.

I think it will be pretty great getting to have this week with my parents here. Normally when they are in LA, they are only here for a day or so and we are pretty busy doing things. They haven’t really met any of my LA friends. But now, they will have a chance to meet all the people I hang out with (and blog about) while they are here. I think it will be pretty cool to get to have everyone meet each other. And my dad is going to join me for an Orangetheory workout too! He usually only does the Thanksgiving workouts, so this will be a nice bonus for him.

I will also be going to San Diego with my parents to visit my grandma. I won’t be in San Diego as long as originally planned (since I won’t be recovering with my parents and I want to work a bit), but I will get to spend a nice weekend with them. It will be much more relaxing this way than it would have been if I was in pain from surgery.

I just wanted to say thank you again to all of you who prayed for my tumors to shrink or put some awesome tumor shrinking thoughts out there. Since I shared the news that my surgery was cancelled, I got so many amazing messages on social media and emails telling me congratulations and how they were so happy for me. I’m so grateful that you all care about me and my health and that you were as excited about my news as I was!

While I won’t be blogging about surgery or recovery now, I’m glad I’ll have much more interesting things to share with you all in the coming weeks. I’m working on getting my social calendar filled up again since I was planning on taking time off. And so far, the things I think will be coming up are going to be so much fun and just a continuation of celebrating not needing surgery today!

A Tumor Miracle (or I Wasn’t Expecting This)

Today I should be going to my pre-op appointments for my surgery. But that has been cancelled because my surgery was cancelled! This is totally not what I expected but it’s true! But I should probably explain a bit of what has happened over the past few days.

When I found out that my tumors were adenomas, I learned quite a bit about that type of tumor. One of the main things that I learned was that they are a 1 in 3 million side effect from hormonal birth control and the best way to stop them from growing more is to stop the hormonal birth control (or whatever hormonal treatment you are taking). But in almost all the case studies, it says that the tumors have to be surgically removed as they typically cannot shrink. And if they do shrink, it’s only a little bit.

One of the reasons I was waiting a few months to have surgery was to hopefully have the large tumor shrink a little bit. The smaller the tumor is, the easier the surgery will be. The large tumor was almost 10cm and in my head I wanted it to be under 8cm. I knew that would take a miracle, but I spent time every single day working on visualization and just trying to be as healthy as possible. But I also knew realistically that the chances of the tumors shrinking were really slim and that’s why I’ve been working so hard lately to get ready for surgery.

I had my MRI last week and I figured that I’d learn about what the tumor situation is like at my pre-op appointment. But on Tuesday afternoon, I got a phone call from my surgeon. Not only did my tumors shrink, they shrunk significantly!

My 10cm tumor is now about 4cm, one of my 3cm tumors is now about 1cm, and my other 3cm tumor is not able to be found anymore! This is seriously a miracle! My surgeon has never seen this happen with any of his cases before. There is no medical explanation for what happened so I’m just considering it a medical miracle! I know that there is some serious power behind positive thinking, but this is beyond what I ever imagined could happen!

While there are still issues that can happen with having the biggest tumor in me, it is no longer as serious as it was before. The size of the tumor and how it is situated in my liver now makes it something that I could live the rest of my life with. It would still make being pregnant in the future a bit risky, but nothing compared to what the risks would have been if it stayed the original size. And I still cannot use any hormonal treatments as long as the tumors are in me.

But since my life isn’t as threatened as it was before, the plan now is to cancel the surgery. My surgeon gave me the option to continue with it, but it is not his recommendation anymore. Instead, his recommendation is to do another MRI in  the fall to see what’s happening if the tumors then. If they are bigger, I will have surgery. If they stay the same size, I will probably have surgery. But there is now the chance that maybe they will shrink even more and maybe disappear completely. This is not normal with these tumors, but nothing is ever normal with my medical situations.

I completely trust my surgeon’s judgement and he has been very open and honest with me about the risks to keep the tumors in and the risks of surgery. He has answered so many of my questions (and there have been so many questions!) and I never felt like he was getting annoyed with me. I’m very lucky to have a surgeon who has been so awesome and I’m glad that he told me honestly that he doesn’t recommend surgery for me right now. If he left it up to me, I probably would have been going back and forth on what I wanted to do.

I’m totally excited to not need to have surgery. This surgery would have been major surgery and there are always risks when you have any surgery. And this one would have had more risks than any other surgery I’ve had before because of potential blood loss and other complications. And I was not looking forward to recovering and not being able to do everything that I’m used to doing.

But at the same time, I do feel a bit weird that I’m not getting rid of these tumors. I’ve been focusing on how glad I will be to have them out of my body that the idea that they are staying is a bit odd. I’m sure that a lot of it is just shock right now and I still can’t believe that I am lucky enough to have my tumors shrink without medical intervention. Soon enough I bet I’ll just be happy that I didn’t have to disrupt my life with a major surgery and the idea of keeping the tumors in me won’t be as weird. I also feel like I was overreacting before with getting ready for surgery, but honestly there is no way we could have known this would happen to me. If my surgeon has never seen this happen before, why would I ever expect it to happen to me?

This is seriously a miracle and I just want to thank everyone who has sent positive and healing thoughts my way or who have kept me in their prayers. I don’t know how this happened to me, but I’m so grateful that for now I don’t need to have surgery next week. My parents will still be coming to town, but now we get to spend a couple of days having fun instead of them having to be here to take care of me while I’m recovering. They don’t come to LA that often and when they do it’s usually for a super short time. So I’m pretty excited to get to spend almost a week with them in LA!

If anything changes or if something doesn’t feel right, there might be a tumor update within the next few months. But if everything keeps going the way they have been going, I won’t have anything to blog about regarding my tumor until my next MRI in the fall. It’s crazy how quickly this chapter of my tumor journey is closing, but I guess since it started in such dramatic fashion that it’s fitting it is ending the same way!

MRI Time (or I Think Being Calm Is Helping)

I had what should be my last pre-surgery MRI this week. I needed this MRI so that we could see if any of my tumors have shrunk in the past few months. If they have shrunk, that will help me keep more of my liver during the surgery. It’s ok if they have to take some out since it does regenerate. But it would be nice to need less of my liver to regenerate because the tumors are smaller.

I previously had a monthly challenge to work on visualization to help my tumors shrink. I won’t know if this worked until I see my surgeon for my pre-op day, but I’m feeling happy with the work that I had done. I don’t feel like there is anything else I could have to help them shrink. And if they don’t shrink, that’s ok too because it wasn’t a guarantee they would get smaller after I stopped hormonal birth control. I’m prepared for anything when I see the MRI results.

Before a year ago, I had only had 1 MRI in the past and that was for my hip. But since then I’ve had 1 breast MRI and 2 liver MRIs before this most recent one. So this one was my 4th MRI in under a year. And all of those MRIs involve contrast which means I had to have an IV put in (which isn’t fun since I still don’t do well with needles). And while I’m not super claustrophobic, being inside the MRI tube isn’t fun and it can feel like the sides of the tube are closing in on me. I’m lucky because my head is toward the outside of the tube so I can tilt my head back and see a bit of the room behind me, but it can still feel very closed in.

For the MRI this week, I was feeling a bit stressed about it. Some of the stress was unnecessary (like feeling guilty that this was during work time but I had already banked the hours to cover it) but I also know that I’ve done well in past MRIs and just wanted to make sure that I would be the same this time. I’m always worried that for some reason things will be different this time (I’m like that with the dentist) and I just wanted to have a smooth MRI day.

Things started off rough with me getting there 4o minutes early because I had put it in my calendar at the wrong time, but I figured that is better than being late. And when I checked in, they let me know that they were running 30 minutes behind so I was worried I wouldn’t be home to start work when I told my manager I would be. But somehow, they ended up getting back on time quickly and I was brought back to the MRI area only 5 minutes after my appointment time.

I feel like a pro at MRIs now. I know not to wear things with metal on it so all I had to take off when I was going in was my sweatshirt and my shoes (the tech there was impressed that I wore a sports bra with no metal clasps and knew to do so). I got onto the table and the techs got everything set up with the various pillows to have me in the right position for the MRI. And then I got my IV in (I had warned them that I pass out but I came back very quickly and it wasn’t too bad) and got into the MRI tube.

Since this was my 3rd abdominal MRI, I knew that I would hear prompts to hold my breath at various times. The first time I had to do this, I wasn’t really prepared and since I was nervous it was tough for me to hold my breath when I needed to. This time, I focused on taking steady deep breaths when I didn’t have to worry about holding my breath. When I had to hold my breath, I tried to count in my head to distract myself. And I tried to zone out while the machine was going since it is so loud and can make it seem more claustrophobic for me somehow.

I have to say that this MRI was the easiest one that I’ve done. It does help that I knew what to prepare for, but I could have said that for my second liver MRI and that one still wasn’t as easy as this one was. When it was done, I was actually very surprised it was over. I thought that maybe we were only halfway through or something. But it had gone really easily and I never felt too panicky or anxious while in the MRI tube. The worst part was when the dye went in my IV, but it was not bad at all and more just a weird sensation in my arm.

I really wished I could have looked at the computer to look at my tumors. I know I couldn’t read it properly, but I am curious what things look like now. I did get a little glance at one image from my MRI where you could see the 2 smaller tumors. But since I’m more familiar with the big tumor, I can’t tell too much from looking at the image of the other ones.

In about a week, I meet with the surgeon to go over all of this and to do what should be the final pre-op step. I’m a bit anxious to hear what he will say, but I know whatever he says that things will be ok. I’m going to continue to focus on being calm and taking deep breaths since that worked so well for me in the MRI. I never expected that test to go as smoothly as it did so clearly this plan is working for me. Hopefully it works for me while in pre-op appointments, surgery, and recovery too!

Surgery Shopping (or How To Prep For The Unexpected)

I know I’ve posted a lot about my liver surgery lately (and I will be posting more about it over the next few weeks). I’m now 2 weeks away from surgery and there is so much that I’ve been trying to get done or need to do. I’m still trying to have a lot of fun, but surgery stuff is taking up a lot of my time.

I have the stuff I expected like various doctor appointments and tests. I’ve already done some blood work and today is my MRI. I’ve got my official pre-op appointment next week and that will consist of multiple doctor appointments at one time so I can meet with the surgeon, the anesthesia team, and possibly the inpatient team. I’ve also been working more than normal because I’m banking hours at work. I can’t afford to take time off (I don’t get paid time off at any of my jobs), so I’ve been working extra hours unpaid to cover the time I won’t be working coming up. I’ve got all the hours banked that I think I’ll need, but that has taken a lot of time in the mornings that I usually do other work.

I’ve also been trying to get things ready to be in the hospital for a while. I’ve been getting ideas of things to have with me from friends who have been in the hospital for a while before. I’m hoping the hospital has decent wifi because I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot of Netflix or Hulu there (also, if I feel up for it then I could even work from the hospital). I’ve also gotten some dresses that are easy to put on and are cheap to wear after surgery. There’s a chance that things with waistbands won’t work for a little bit for me so dresses seemed to be the easiest solution. I also know I might have surgical drains when I go home, so I found these awesome sticky pockets to put in my clothes if I need them.

I still have a pretty decent list of things I still need to get for my time in the hospital and while I’m recovering with my parents. Some things I expected to be easy, like getting some slippers to have with me, but somehow they haven’t been easy to find in stores. I’m guessing I’ll be doing a big Amazon order soon. I might wait until after my pre-op appointment so I know what else I might need. Thank goodness for fast shipping with Amazon Prime! I’ve been told I might get a list when I go in for the pre-op appointment, but if any of you have been through any type of abdominal surgery and have suggestions for things I should have please let me know!

And then of course there is getting my house ready for this all. I will be doing some big cleaning because I don’t want things cluttered when my parents are here and I don’t want things to feel dirty when I am back home. After I’m out of the hospital, I will be recovering with my parents so they can help me out with things or buy things I forgot about. But I still want to try to get as much done now as I can. One thing I was trying to do but have been slacking on is getting some food made and frozen so it’s easy for me to eat at home even if I’m tired. I don’t want to go back to ordering delivery food (plus I’m guessing I’ll be on a restricted diet so I want to have food that I made and know what’s in it).

I know it sounds like I’ve got a handle on things and seem really prepared, but I don’t feel that way at all. There are still so many unknowns with this entire thing and a lot of the answers won’t be things I can really know in advance. I have no idea how my body will react to this all and I can’t prepare for what I don’t know will happen. It has been giving me a pretty steady level of anxiety lately, but nothing as bad as a regular panic attack. And I have had a few minor attacks but fortunately my friends and family have been able to calm me down.

When things were 2 months away or even 1 month away it seemed like I had unlimited time to get ready and that it wasn’t going to be soon. I think it really hit me when I had 3 weeks left how soon this was all going to be. I’m very lucky that I’ve had time to prep for this and it wasn’t an emergency surgery where nothing could be done ahead of time. But sometimes having prep time is the worst because I can analyze things to death. I’m trying to stay as calm as I can be which is why I set my monthly challenge to be being calm and taking more deep breaths.

Over the next 2 weeks, there will be posts about preparing for surgery but I will also have some fun posts in there too. And I am hoping to keep this blog going regularly while I’m recovering, but of course I don’t know how I’ll feel. But I do promise that if there are some days I can’t blog I will get back to writing regularly. I’ve been doing this every weekday for so long, and the idea that I might miss a day does stress me out a bit. But I hope that you all will stick with me while I get through all of this and hopefully I can find some fun things to write about while I’m recovering!