Category Archives: Tough Stuff

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.

Adventures In Online Dating (or My Luck Might Be Changing)

It’s been several years since I’ve blogged about online dating. After my first post about it, I stepped away from online dating for a while. I wanted to focus on me and dating wasn’t really a priority anymore. Then I was going to get back online when I found out about my tumors. I got my profile set up on a few different sites, but wasn’t really doing much about it. I didn’t want to start dating someone and have to explain that I was going to have a major surgery. And then when I had my miracle, I decided to jump back into online dating and try to be a bit more serious about it.

I’m technically on 4 different dating sites/apps right now, but I only really use 3 of them. But 3 is still a lot! And in the past, I haven’t really had a lot of luck with meeting guys online. Sometimes I would meet someone for coffee or something, but more often than not I would start talking to a guy online and either the conversation would die completely really quickly or he would turn out to be a total creeper and say something disgusting to me and I would never want to meet them. And I’m still having those same issues, but I’m also still having a ton of luck with online dating for the first time ever!

From the 3 sites that I’m using, I’ve met at least one guy from each of the sites. Sometimes I go on a date and realize pretty quickly that there is no way that we could work out. I had a date with one guy who chewed with his mouth open and asked me about how much money I made and how much I paid for various things in my life. That’s not ok with me and I was glad when that date was over. I also had a date with someone who was really awesome and I had a great time meeting them, but they were only in LA for work and I’m not looking for anything long distance.

And then there have been some really great guys that I’ve met and from some reason or another we just didn’t do a second date. It’s never easy to deal with rejection no matter how old you are, but I’m doing better with it now than I have in the past. And unlike most other times I’ve ventured into online dating, none of my rejections have been because of my weight. I do have some full body photos on my various profiles so I’m honest about how I look. But even though I did that before, I had guys years ago say horrible things about my size on the date as a way to reject me. I don’t know if I’m meeting better quality guys or if guys are just more mature in their 30’s than in their 20’s. But either way I’m glad that I’m not dealing with the fat shaming that I had in the past with guys that I’m choosing to meet.

I’ve been joking to my friends that I’ve never had this much luck before in the past with online dating and it’s surprising me how well it’s been going. I don’t know what has changed with me, but maybe I’m just a better version of myself than I have been in the past. And a friend suggested to me that maybe my tumors were taking up all my good luck for so long (since I never had to deal with any of the horrible complications those tumors can cause) and now that I’m getting them under control my good luck can move to other parts of my life. I kind of wish the good luck was with my acting and not my dating, but beggars can’t be choosers and I’m happy that I’m experiencing some good luck in my life!

I haven’t met anyone that I’ve gone out with for more than 2 dates yet, but that’s ok with me. I’m working on being busy with my life again now and I don’t want to give up my time to someone who I don’t see as really amazing. My life is still a priority to me and I just want to meet a guy who fits into that or adds to my life and doesn’t take away from that. But I’m so glad that at least this adventure into online dating has been the most successful one I’ve had yet and I’m hopeful that I will meet someone who really does add to my life and not take away from everything else that I’m trying to do.

It’s so difficult to stay positive with dating, especially in LA where it seems impossible to meet guys who are single, straight, and quality men. But I feel like my experience recently has given me more hope than I ever have had that there is someone out there for me. I just have to keep working on finding him and need to be patient because it might not happen right away.

“Unapologetic” (or Being A Documentary Subject)

Sometimes, I feel like fate guides me to go places because I am really meant to be there for some other reason. And this is a story of fate directing me that I’m so proud of.

Not too long ago, I attend a SAG-AFTRA panel on diversity. Originally, there was no way I could attend that panel because I would have either still been in the hospital after surgery or just home from the hospital. And even without having surgery, that was during the time that my parents were in town so I was sure I’d be busy with them that evening. But I ended up having the evening free and was able to attend and I loved it!

Everyone on the panel was incredible and I got to meet many of them at the reception after the panel. And one of the panelists that I got to talk to more than others was Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez, who is a stunt performer. I knew after listening to her on the panel that I wanted to see about getting her on the Inside Acting Podcast, so I pitched her at the reception. After talking to her about the podcast I gave her my card. I only had my personal/acting/blogging card but since that has all my contact information on it I always seem to give it out. And when I did, Michelle noticed the name of this blog on the card.

She immediately told me about an amazing documentary that she’s producing called “Unapologetic”. And as soon as she sent me the synopsis, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this!

“Unapologetic”: Why apologize for a body frame that doesn’t fit in a very narrow measurement of subjective definitions of beauty? In this documentary we will explore the opinions, struggles, and accomplishments of numerous women that not only broke the mold, but also opened the door for other women to feel empowered in their own natural beauty.

I was so honored that Michelle and her producing partner, Sarah, asked me to be interviewed for this project! I would have loved to help out in any way but to be one of the subjects was so much more than I expected. Of course, I immediately said yes and this past weekend I was interviewed for “Unapologetic”.

When I arrived, Michelle was still doing her own interview so I got to listen to her story and get an idea of the questions that were going to be asked of me when I was in front of the camera.

When it was my turn, I got miked up and ready to go. Most of the questions were pretty easy for me to answer and are things that I talk about on here (body image, my eating disorder, my fitness journey, acting) but there were plenty of questions that made me stop and think really hard about how I wanted to answer it. In answering some of the questions, I learned a lot about myself and realized new things that I never thought about before. It was really an amazing self-discovery journey that happened in front of the camera.

I do think that I am pretty unapologetic for myself. I am who I am and I know that I’m not going to make everyone happy at all times. But all I can do is to make myself happy and make sure I’m not hurting others in that process. But another part of being unapologetic is to not be apologizing for yourself or saying sorry all the time. I’m totally guilty of saying “sorry” when I don’t need to and it’s a bad habit that I’ve been working on stopping. There are so many articles on why women say sorry so often, and I know that I totally fit into that stereotype.

I even apologized after my interview for the documentary was done. I was saying that I was sorry for rambling and talking too much. It’s so ironic that I finished being interviewed for a project called “Unapologetic” by apologizing! But I know that fixing this constant apologizing habit takes a lot of time and I haven’t been working on it as hard as I should be.

I was interviewed on the first day of interviews, so this film may not be coming out for a while. Of course I will keep you all posted on any updates I have on the film because I want you to be able to check it out! I only know 2 of the stories in it (mine and Michelle’s) and I really want to hear what everyone else had to say. It’s such a powerful topic and I know that I will learn so much from everyone else!

Thank you again to Michelle, Sarah, and the entire crew of “Unapologetic” for asking me to participate! I had the best time on set and you were all awesome! It’s still crazy to me that people want to hear my story because I feel like I’m not that unique. But maybe by speaking openly about my experience that is what is unique about me. I’m not scared to share the good, bad, and the ugly about my life and I hope that others will be able to relate and feel understood or not alone.

Now I’m just going to have to be patient to find out when this is done and ready to share with the world!

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.

A Long Workout Week (or Being Emotional And Going Easy)

This past week of workouts was a bit crazy for me. I was on such a high from my amazing 5K race the weekend before. Then I was nervous because I knew that this would be my last big workout week before my surgery. Then I found out I’m a medical miracle and my surgery was canceled. My emotions really got to me this past week and it did affect my workouts. And since I was emotional, I ended up overdoing it at times and having to take it easy when I really didn’t want to. If this was my last 4 workout week before surgery I probably would have been a bit disappointed. Fortunately, that won’t be the truth so I can feel a bit better about how I did.

Monday’s workout was a mix of endurance and power and it was a run/row day. I was still feeling a little bit sore from my race, but I really wanted to see what I could do since I was feeling so amazing from my PR. The running portions were .6 miles and .15 miles. I started doing my 2 minute running intervals, but after those first 2 minutes I had to stick with walking for the .6 mile parts (which means I did .3 miles since power walkers go half the distance). I did manage to run the .15 mile segments in full, but it was a bit slower than I’m used to. And for the rowing, we had 150 meters and 600 meters and just like the running I ended up doing those a bit slower than normal. I tried to just tell myself that it was a recovery workout, but I struggled not to push myself more.

I did much better on the floor that day. We had squats with bicep curls and lunges with arm raises which both went pretty well for me. Lunges are still a weak point, but they didn’t feel too bad. We also had 2 rounds of 1 minute of knee tucks and while I was hoping to do them on my toes I ended up doing them on my knees. My hips were hurting a bit more by that point and I knew that pushing myself would hurt more than help. And we ended with a core blast with plank work and sit ups.

Wednesday’s workout as a mix of endurance, strength, and power. This was my first workout after finding out my surgery was cancelled and I was feeling on top of the world. I think that feeling had me wanting to push myself to new limits to prove how great things are. All of the blocks were 5 minutes (4 on the treadmill and 4 on the floor) so I decided to test out my running again on the treadmill. I had some time to recover and my legs and hips were feeling pretty good. So for the first block we had a 4 minute progressive push followed by an all out pace. I increased my speed .1 mph each minute and managed to run for the entire 5 minutes. The second block was 30 second pushes to 30 second all outs and I managed to do the last all out at 7.7 mph which felt almost too fast but at the same time felt amazing to do it! The third block was all inclines and while I tried to run them it wasn’t happening for me so I walked everything until we had the all out pace at 3% incline (I told myself it was good practice for the giant hill on the 5K next year). And the last block on the treadmill was kind of mix of everything we had already done. We were on the treadmill for about 28 minutes and I almost went 2 miles. That’s faster than my 5K pace and that was pretty incredible to me!

On the floor, we focused a lot on leg work which felt a bit tough after all that hard treadmill work but I did my best. We had squats, lunges, and squats to walk out push ups which were new to me and very tough to do. We also had a rowing block where we did static squats between rows. And we ended with a core workout for the last floor block.

Friday’s workout was a power day and I had really been looking forward to it. The blocks were short and had a lot of great opportunities for me to work on my running some more. All of the push paces were quick and we had a lot of 30 second all out paces with walking recovery back to back. I maxed out at 7 mph which isn’t my all time best but still pretty respectable. The only downside for me was that I was feeling pretty light-headed by the end of the treadmill block. I’m not totally sure what caused it, but I did have to go to the hospital for some blood work that morning so that could be the culprit. Whatever caused it, it wasn’t fun and it really affected my floor work.

On the floor, it was arm focused with chest presses, skier swings, squat rows, and shoulder work. I really was trying to work hard, but the light-headedness really was getting to me on the floor. It felt like I needed to take a break every few moves and I know that I didn’t get that much work done compared to normal. Again, I knew that I needed to go easy on myself but it’s tough to do that when I know what I can normally do. But I also was scared that I would get worse so I just took my time, focused on my form, and did whatever I could get done before we were done with that block. And when we ended on the rower we were working in time with the treadmills but I didn’t worry too much about rowing with a push or all out pace. I just rowed when we were supposed to and took rests when we were supposed to.

Saturday’s workout was a 3G workout and I was pretty grateful for that. I was having a tough morning and I was glad that I didn’t have to spend more than 15 minutes at any section of the room. I started on the treadmill and as soon as I started I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to run at all. My hip was killing me and I was dealing with some pretty bad cramps. So I did only walking for the entire 15 minutes. It was an endurance workout so we had a lot of longer push paces which for me meant having the incline at 6 or 8%. I didn’t feel like I was working that hard and my heart rate monitor was showing that my heart rate was much lower than normal. But I had to just consider this workout a recovery day and be ok with that. Walking for 15 minutes is still better than if I hadn’t been at the workout at all.

Next I moved to the floor where we had 2 small blocks of work. The first block was squats, plank leg lifts, and core knee tucks. I was doing fine with the plank leg lifts (which normally cause me some issues) but I really struggled with the knee tucks. My body just didn’t want to bend that way and I worked to find out how I could sit to do the best modification I could do. But on the second block I had much more success with the work. We started with single arm rows on the straps and this was the first time I didn’t have a tough time keeping my shoulders down. I was visualizing my back muscles moving and for some reason that helped me from not bringing my shoulders up and I felt the work a lot more than normal. And the last move was doing push ups with one hand on the Bosu ball. I had to do the push ups from my knees, but I was feeling really great about how I was able to balance nicely with the push ups and was able to get farther down that normal.

And I finished my workout on the rower with long rows (3 minutes first and then 600 meters after) and some squats and lunges between rows. The rowing went ok for me and I was able to get my 600 meter row in under 2 minutes which is always my goal. But the squats and lunges were getting really hard with my hip bugging me so I took my time and balanced myself on the rowers. Fortunately, there was an empty rower next to me so I was able to use both my rower and the rower next to me to hold on to.

Even though my surgery was canceled, this week’s workouts will still be based on the schedule I had thinking I would have surgery. I’ll still be able to get 3 workouts in, but it will all be in the beginning of the week. My parents will still be in town so I didn’t want to take time away from hanging out with them to do my workout. But in another week, I’ll be almost back to my normal schedule and I’m so grateful for that. I’m on track to hit my workout goal for this year so I’m glad that I won’t have to worry about taking any time off from my Orangetheory classes!

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!

A Challenge For A Weird Month (or French And Deep Breaths)

Another month brings another monthly challenge! It’s crazy to think that it’s a quarter of the way through this year already. It seems like it’s been flying by so far and that March went by so much faster than I ever expected!

My monthly challenge for March was to work on learning French every day. I was using the app Duolingo which I had tried to use before and just couldn’t get into. But I decided that I was going to go all out for the month with trying to learn French and if I hated it that I wouldn’t force myself to continue doing it. I did 2 lessons each day (each lesson took less than 5 minutes) and I really did make an effort to take it seriously and work hard at it.

It wasn’t easy to learn French just through the app (that might have been my problem the first time), but I was able to get through the entire month and have continued to work on it each day. I do go back and review past lessons often and the way the app is set up they do have words that seem to be the toughest for you in each lesson to work on. Some of the stuff is hard to understand because I don’t know why things are one way versus another or the different way to use various verbs. But I am understanding much more French than ever before and I am looking into other ways to work on learning the language. Overall, I think it’s another very successful monthly challenge.

When it came to planning what my challenge for April would be, I struggled with it for a while. There are several things I would love to use as a monthly challenge, but with surgery and the recovery coming up I knew there would be a good chance I wouldn’t be able to do it each day of the month. I don’t want to set myself up for failure when I know that it might be impossible for me to do something while in the hospital or while I am restricted in what I can do.

I probably thought about this for almost all of March, but I finally thought of what I could do every single day in April that would benefit me even though it is an easy challenge.

This month is going to be a stressful month and I don’t need to do anything that will add more stress in my day-to-day life. Taking deep breaths is something I don’t do that often but when I do focus on it I notice a benefit in my day. Taking time to take some deep breaths allows me to take a moment to just focus on that and not what else is going on around me. It allows me to center myself again and then get back on track with whatever I need to be doing.

There will be a lot of things that will be benefitted by deep breaths. I’ve got my MRI coming up this week and dealing with the IV needle is always tough on me. And the time inside of the MRI machine is very stressful and I know that if I use that hour inside the machine focusing on my breathing that I won’t be thinking about how small the MRI tube is or how loud the noises are. And after my surgery I’m sure I’ll have moments of pretty bad pain and taking deep breaths can give me something else to focus on instead of waiting for painkillers to start working.

I know this is a simple monthly challenge, but I’m taking it as seriously as I have with any of the past challenges. I am taking time each day to work on deep breathing and just a few days into this month I’ve already noticed a difference. And I think knowing that I have a challenge this month that will be able to be accomplished before surgery, after surgery, and while I’m recovering has made me relax a bit because I won’t be worried about trying to get something else new done while dealing with recovery. I am hoping that I will be able to continue with all of my monthly challenges while recovering, but I also know that I have to be lenient and forgiving with myself if I can’t do it. All I can do is to stay calm, take deep breaths, and focus on being the best me possible through this entire crazy month.

Routine Time Again (or Getting Back On Track)

After the incident my oven breaking, things got a little weird for me. The routine that I had been in for a while was stopped because I couldn’t do my meal planning the same way. I had been given multiple dates that my oven was supposed to be fixed where the repair people never showed up, so I stopped trying to plan things out. It just got frustrating getting food thinking I’d be able to make it, waiting hours for the repair guy to show up, and then having to go to the store to get something else to eat because I couldn’t cook what I had just bought.

Finally this week, after waiting more than a week to get my oven fixed someone came by. I’m grateful to have my oven back, but I’m a little annoyed that it took over a week for someone to come by for a repair that was completed in less than 10 minutes (I’m serious). I finally started to try to eat the foods that I couldn’t make because they needed to be cooked in the oven to get things back on track. I had been living off of a lot of microwaved meals while my oven was broken and I know they aren’t always the best choice for me. There are worst choices like getting delivery food, but the best stuff is usually things that I’m making in my oven.

When my meal planning stops like it did this time, it’s a bit tough for me to get back on pace. The way the meal planning was successful for me last month was to do all the planning and shopping one day and then just work through that food doing the week. And with the timing of the oven issue, it disrupted 2 meal planning weeks with last week and this week not being the way I wanted. And I’m struggling a bit to get back to it now.

I don’t want to sound like I’m putting things off until the weekend (that sounds like people who put off dieting or exercise until Monday or the next month). But I haven’t been able to take the time out to plan like I normally do or go to the store to get what I need. Fortunately, this week is almost done and I should be able to do my normal meal planning on Sunday like I like to.

With my food being thrown off, a few other things in my life got weird too. With work, I’m so used to having my lunch planned out in advance so it was easy to grab what I was going to eat in the middle of working (funny how it only took a month for this to feel normal to me). With the lack of meal planning, I was spending too much time thinking about food. And with thinking about food a lot, there were some not so great food days.

I’ve said this so many times before, but each time I have a setback like this I have to be grateful that I recognize it as a setback sooner rather than later. I can focus on getting things back to how they have been instead of waiting until I’m very uncomfortable or have gained back a ton of weight to do so. I can easily remember what I was doing a week or two ago that was working instead of struggling to remember what I was doing a month or a year ago.

I’m glad that I’ll be able to get things back quickly so I can focus on all the other things I need to focus on in my life. I can do some great meal planning for the week coming up so that all my other time can be focused on work, going to Orangetheory, having fun, and getting things ready for surgery. Time is much better spent on those things than trying to figure out what I want to eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

I feel like a broken record sharing a similar story over and over again. But I feel it’s important to do this. I don’t remember reading any bloggers who talked about the ups and downs and the random struggles that they had that set them back a few days. But when I talked to people, it seems like this is the norm. It’s especially the norm when you are recovering from an eating disorder. But people don’t seem to blog about it because it’s not interesting or attention getting. But it’s the truth and that’s exactly why I wanted to share it. Hopefully sharing my struggles will help someone else realize that things are hopeless and they can get back on track too.

Working On Self Care (or Going Back To My Checklist)

I think it’s been a bit obvious from my past posts that I’m in a bit of a funk right now. I wouldn’t say that I’m depressed, but I’m not my usual happy-go-lucky self. I get this way from time to time and I know that I just have to suck it up and wait it out. Sometimes these funks are for a certain reason and sometimes they are random. I think this one is a combination of both.

While I know that I need to wait out these funks, that doesn’t mean that I don’t make an effort to get out of them quicker. Sometimes, what I need it to be out and about. I need to be around other people and remember to have fun in my life again. But in this case, I’ve had a pretty busy social life lately. I feel like I have to fit in all my social life into these next few weeks before I’m out of things for a while. While there is a chance that I won’t be recovering as long as I’m afraid I will be, I still feel like I have to be out and getting things done.

I think that I’m experiencing a bit of burn out right now. My calendar has been packed lately and I’m working hard to do everything that I tell my friends I will go and do. I don’t want to let others down and I’m probably putting other people ahead of myself recently. So I’ve spent the past few days trying to slow down and focus on myself.

I’ve been sitting and home and just been lazy and that has been really good for me. I’m catching up on podcasts that I’ve been meaning to listen to and watching shows on my DVR that I’ve been meaning to watch. Sometimes all I’m doing in a day is work (or work and then going to Orangetheory) and that’s been perfect for me. It’s weird to think how much I needed to have some alone time, but it seems like that has been doing the trick into getting my mood back up.

I’ve also gone back to my happiness checklist to focus on those tasks. It’s pretty easy for me to do most of those tasks but because they are easy I don’t work on them that much. One of the things on my checklist is reading, and that is something I do every day. At the very least, I read in bed before going to sleep. But that has not been enough for me lately and I have been trying to carve out time in my life to read more. I’ve been re-reading a lot of books that I’ve loved in the past and that has been bringing me so much happiness. I know many people don’t read books more than once, but I love going back to a book that I’ve enjoyed and seem to always find something new in the book.

I’m also just ok with being alone in my house just being quiet and doing nothing. I hate to waste time and it’s a luxury that I don’t have that often, but when I can be lazy and not worry about what I’m trying to get done I do that. It’s a way for me to recharge myself and try to refocus on what I really do want to do versus have to do.

I’m still not 100% back to my usual self, but I’ve definitely made steps into getting out of this funk. I know that being sad isn’t really helping me and that there isn’t a real reason for me to feel that way now. But I’ve been acknowledging my feelings and letting them sit with me. Doing that can help me understand why I’m feeling this way and what I should do to take care of myself. I never would have expected that being too social could be the problem, but from doing some reflection I figured out that it could be the case and I think that I was right.

I’m going to keep working on self-care and working on myself over the next few days and I’m sure I’ll be back to normal before I know it. It’s not fun to feel this way and I want to get back to feeling like me. Sometimes it takes time and while I’m working on being patient, I don’t have all the time in the world so I’m doing what I can to get myself back.