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!

Not Drinking At A Bar (or A Birthday Party At Neat)

After doing my 5K race (and getting almost no sleep that night), I was ready to be at my house the rest of the day and being pretty lazy. When I got home around 11am after the race, that’s pretty much exactly what I did. I showered and got into comfortable clothes and then pretty much didn’t move from my couch for several hours. But I did have to move eventually because one of my workout friends was having a birthday party that night!

I don’t get to see many of my Orangetheory friends outside of workouts. Even though I really enjoy hanging out with them at the workouts, we don’t always get to socialize outside of class. So when I get a chance to see someone in normal clothes, I totally take advantage of that! And since they don’t usually see me in something other than workout clothes with my hair in a top knot, I decided to make a bit more effort than normal in picking my outfit.

I don’t usually wear red, but the theme of the party was to wear something red and I found that belt on Amazon. The way I dressed was pretty different from what I’m used to, but I was feeling pretty confident and now I’m looking at ways to dress more like that more often!

I was a little nervous going to the party since the only person I would know there was the birthday girl. I’m a bit shy in situations like that and always feel so awkward going up to people I don’t know to join in on a conversation. But thankfully, my friend was awesome and was introducing me to a bunch of people that night. She knew that I didn’t know anyone else there and I appreciate the effort she made to make sure everyone was having fun and not feeling left out!

The party was held at a new bar called Neat. In full disclosure, the manager is the brother of a friend of mine (who I hadn’t met until that night), but I have to say that this is such an amazing bar! I don’t have a ton of bars that I love because so many bars in LA are either super fancy or are just too showy. I like being able to go somewhere and not stress too much about how I’m dressed or if I’m making a good impression on others. That’s one reason why I also love Bodega Wine Bar. But to find a bar like that is tough to find and it seems like when I find one they end up closing down.

But Neat was pretty awesome. There was a semi-private space in the back that was reserved for the birthday party that still was a part of the action. And in the main room most of the tables are on the edges of the room so there is a lot of space in the room that makes it not feel too crowded. There were a ton of people there, but since I didn’t have to keep going around chairs or tables it didn’t feel that bad.

And they do have a pretty epic drink menu too! I would have loved to have tried a drink or two, but I can’t really drink right now. But that didn’t matter since the staff at Neat was so cool. I talked to my friend’s brother and he asked me what sort of flavors I liked. I told him I liked citrus and then he got to work. I don’t know everything that he used in my drink, but there was some lime in it and before I knew it I had a custom non-alcoholic drink just for me!

It was so nice to have a festive drink at the party since it can feel a bit weird only ordering water at a bar. But I felt like I was included in the fun because I had a drink that I really liked! It was pretty tasty and reminded me a bit of a margarita. Even when I can drink again, I would totally consider getting this again because it was so nice and refreshing.

I really had a great time at the party, but I was getting pretty exhausted right after the birthday cake was brought out. I had been up so long that day and my legs were starting to feel a bit like cement. It’s not easy to wear heels a few hours after doing a 5K race! So I decided that it was time for me to go home and get some needed rest.

I’m so glad that I went to the party. Not only is it fun to get to see someone outside of Orangetheory and get to meet new friends, I got to check out a bar that I have a feeling I’ll be going to from now on. It’s always great to find new places in LA that I love because I do get stuck in ruts from time to time. But I busted out of that rut at this party and now I’m excited to get to go back to Neat again in the future!

Hollywood Half 5K (or It’s Hill Time)

I feel like I had done so much preparation for this 5K. After doing a run/walk 5K for the first time last year, I knew what I was capable of and I wanted to push myself to see what I could do 6 months later. I knew that I could do more than what I had done the last time and I wanted to makes sure I prepared myself the best I could. I worked on my endurance a lot during my workouts at Orangetheory so I could run longer during my intervals. I started to run on inclines to prepare myself for the crazy hill. But even with all that preparation, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do at this race.

I tried to keep my nerves down while I drove to the race bib pickup. It was in a different place than before so it was a bit of a longer drive for me. But there was a  meter with time left on it right by where we had to go, so I took that as a good sign. I got my race number and got back into my car so I could get home, have some dinner, and get to bed nice and early.

I usually don’t have too much trouble sleeping before a race, but this time I really struggled to fall asleep. I went to bed around 9:30 and read for a little bit. By 10:30, I turned off my light and tried to fall asleep. For some reason, I just couldn’t get my brain to shut off. I was tossing and turning and just couldn’t fall asleep. Around 2am, I finally fell asleep but since I had to get up at 4am I didn’t get as much sleep as I had hoped.

I wasn’t feeling too tired when I got up, so I tried to stay positive and hope for the best. I got my stuff together, drank a little chocolate milk (I don’t do well eating that early but I don’t do races on an empty stomach), and got into my car to drive to Hollywood. And as soon as I opened the front door of my house, I noticed that the ground was wet and it was still drizzling. I knew that there was light rain in the forecast, but it hadn’t started when I went to bed so I was hoping it was wrong.

It was raining or misting the entire drive there and I thought that maybe it would be like last year where it was raining until the race started but during the race it wasn’t. And that’s exactly what happened! It was misting until it was time to get into the corrals to line up but I didn’t have to deal with the rain during the race at all!

It seemed like the race was a bit smaller than it’s been in the past, but that was fine with me. There was still a great energy in the starting area and I was getting really excited as we started to get ready to go.

I tried to stay as excited as possible but the idea of trying to run on the hills was still making me nervous. But I put a smile on my face and got myself as mentally prepared as I could be to start.

The race started super prompt this time and they were letting the corrals go much quicker than they have in the past. I was in the 5th or 6th corral and I crossed the starting line at 6:15am (the start was at 6am). And as soon as we started we made a turn to go down the first hill.

I had set my watch intervals to be 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. I had every intention of sticking with that as much as I could and it went really easily at the beginning. Of course, running downhill isn’t too bad. But even my run back up the hill toward the starting line wasn’t that bad at all. I was sticking with my intervals and feeling pretty great. I was a bit tired, but not nearly as bad as expected. And before I knew it, I got past the 1 mile marker.

And then the big hill was in front of me. It happened to be part of my walking minute when I started the big hill, but as I did it I realized that I just wasn’t going to be able to run up it. Thinking back now (and knowing that it is supposedly a 3.5% incline), I probably could have done it. But at the time it seemed impossible. So I decided that I would ignore my intervals during the hill and I would walk up but run down. That did work ok with me although I know that my walk uphill probably should have been faster.

As soon as I was at the bottom of the hill I got back on track with my intervals and a few minutes later I was at the turnaround (which is close to the 2.5 mile mark). After the turnaround I was feeling really great and got to the last little hill of the race. It starts as a downhill so I decided to run that entire thing and walk up just like I did with the big hill. I really wanted to stick with my intervals, but I knew that I needed to do what felt right for me in the moment.

After getting up that last hill, it was pretty flat from there to the finish line and about only .2 miles left. So I started running and decided that I wasn’t going to stop until I crossed the finish line. I glanced at my watch and knew my time was going to be close to my PR so when I turned the last corner and saw the finish line I took everything I had and sprinted to finish as fast as possible.

I stopped my timing watch as soon as I crossed the finish line but it took me a minute or two to calm down and catch my breath before I could really look at what it said. I went into this race knowing that it is a tough course to PR on because of all the hills. I knew that even though I was running more than I did the last time, I also walked on hills which is slower than my normal walking intervals. So I was pretty shocked when I looked down to see that I PRed by 14 seconds!

14 seconds isn’t a lot, but it’s something. And on this course I know I’ve been slower because of the hills. When comparing this race to doing the race last year, I improved by about 11 minutes. When comparing this race to the best time I had on this course, I improved by about 9 minutes. That’s insane!

After I got my medal and had my timing chip cut off my shoes, I ran into Ken who is also known as the Free Hugs Guy! Ken is the director of this race and I was so excited to see him! And of course, I had to get my hug from him.

I wanted to see what my official time was, but they were having some issues getting the official time sheets printed. So I decided to wait in line to take a photo with my medal in front of the step and repeat. It took a bit of time, but I had time to kill so it was perfect.

I think my expression says it all. While I hoped to get a PR with this race, I knew that reality might be different and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. And then I surprised myself by not only kicking butt with the longer intervals and dealing with the hills, I did get the PR I was dreaming of!

My official time was exactly what my watch said (which made me happy to know I’m getting better at timing with my watch) and I started to walk back to the start line where I parked my car. I could have taking the subway one stop like I have in the past, but I decided that my legs needed the stretch and the walk would be good for me.

The next race I’m planing on doing will be the Hard Rock Cafe 5K which is probably about 6 months away (they haven’t announced the next race date just yet). But now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do 2 5Ks with mile times under 16 minutes, a few of my friends want me to go for a Disney race. Doing a Disney race has been a dream of mine, but I know they have 16 minute mile restrictions and I couldn’t get under that. But now I can and it’s time to think more seriously about doing a Disney race. I’m also debating if I want to do the 10K as another challenge for myself, but that’s still something I need to think about and see how I feel over this year.

I don’t think I could have asked for a better 5K race. I never knew that adding running to my races would make them so much better. I’m not struggling as much as I have before and it is making me think a bit more about adding some other races back in. As of right now, I don’t know if I’ll add any more races this year. But I’m thinking about it and seeing how my body feels as I push myself more in my workouts. But even if I just keep doing 2 races a year, that’s enough for me to prove to myself that I am getting stronger and faster!

A Shorter Workout Week (or Doing Some 5K Prep)

This past week of workouts was a 3 workout week, but that was for a good reason. I had the Hollywood Half 5K on Saturday so I couldn’t do a Friday or Saturday workout this week. I don’t do workouts the day before a race so I did a Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday workout and it seemed like each of these workouts were designed to help me get ready for the race.

Monday’s workout was an endurance day with a 5K challenge. The idea was to be on the treadmill for 23 minutes and get as close to a 5K as possible. I know there is no way I could do a 5K that fast, but I knew I would be able to get at least 1/2 of a 5K. There were intervals that were given to us, but I didn’t follow that guide. Instead, I stuck with 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking intervals since that was what I wanted to do at the race. I’m getting more comfortable with that interval set and it made me feel more confident about the upcoming race after knowing I could do that for 23 minutes. I did 1.616 miles, which isn’t the best I’ve done, but it felt good and that’s what was most important to me.

For the second half of class, each block started with a 1 minute row sprint. In the past, I know I’ve been able to row 300 meters in a minute but I just can’t seem to get back to that. This time, I did 233, 260, and 280 meters. Those aren’t bad at all, but I’m still working on breaking that 300 meter mark again. After those sprint rows, each block was 2 moves that were timed by the coach. Each thing was 45 seconds and we switched back and forth between each move. It was interesting to not have count my reps for any moves in the entire class and I could just work on my form and making sure I was doing everything right.

Wednesday’s class was a strength day and I figured that would be perfect since I wanted to get ready for the hills at the 5K. I tried to run at 3% for the first push pace, but I could only do that for a minute. It was really frustrating that I couldn’t do more and I was starting to feel nervous about the race, but I didn’t let it get to me. I ended up running all the all out paces which were on a flat incline but walked all my push paces at 8-10% incline. I told myself that I was still training for the hills even if I wasn’t running them.

The floor work was mainly arm work that day. We did rows with the weights, biceps on the straps, and triceps with weights. But the last block had an interesting row challenge. We were trying to do 100 meters with as few pulls of the rower as we could. That meant leaning back as far as we could on the rower and pausing while at the back. It seemed easy when it was explained to us, but it was actually very tough. The first attempt I did was 12 pulls of the rower, but I eventually made my way down to 7 pulls of the rower. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get under 7 pulls, but that was one of the lower numbers of the day so I was very happy with myself.

Thursday was my last pre-5K workout and it was a power and strength day which was kind of the perfect combination for me. We had push to all out paces on inclines plus stand alone all outs on inclines. I ended up walking the longer push paces but I did run all the all outs. And I even was able to run for 30 seconds at 9% incline! I have looked up the incline of the big since this workout and it claims to be about 3.5% incline, but it really feels more like that 9% run that I did! Either way, doing some running on inclines really made me feel prepared for whatever Saturday’s race was going to bring.

For the floor work, it was a lot more upper body and core work than anything else. I was grateful for that because I was starting to feel a bit nervous that my legs would be overworked in the workout and I would struggle at the race. So not focusing on lower body work helped me mentally feel ok. We did also have some rowing in the first block with a 500 and 400 meter row. I have been wanting to get my 500 meter row under 2 minutes, and I did it in 2:00.2. I’m so close, but just not there yet. But I think I’ll be there soon enough!

For a pre-5K workout week, I think this was pretty ideal. It challenged me but it also helped me build confidence going into the race. My last 5K was so spectacular that I was worried that this one might be a bit of a let down. I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up with getting a PR since there are the hills, but I also know that I’m running more than before. But this workout helped me focus back on the work and not as much on the results and that’s exactly what I needed.

And coming up tomorrow, my race recap of the Hollywood Half 5K!

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!

One More Disney Day (or Yummy Food and Roller Coasters)

With my surgery coming up in about 2 more weeks, I’m trying to get a lot of fun stuff in before I have to take time to recover. And of course, this list included going to Disneyland. While I’m recovering, I won’t be able ride roller coasters for a while. I might be able to walk around Disneyland and do some of the easy rides, but since I love roller coasters I wanted to make sure that I did my favorites before I had to take a few months off.

My favorite Disney buddies Dani and Michelle were with me this time and we were also joined by Michelle’s friend Lauren (who fit in perfectly with our Disney craziness). All 3 of them knew that I was on a mission to ride the roller coasters I love the most and I’m so grateful that they let me decide most of the rides that went on that day. And besides my mission to ride a bunch of roller coasters, this was the only time I was going to be at Disneyland during this year’s Food and Wine Festival. So we all wanted to make sure we tried a bunch of the offerings that they had this year.

When we got to Disneyland, we headed to the California Adventure side first where we went on Toy Story Mania first. I used to be so much better at this ride, but I think I’m overconfident in my ability to play the games within the ride. I didn’t get that great of a score, but as always it was fun to ride. And right after that we had Fastpasses for California Screamin’ which is one of the roller coasters I love and had on my bucket list for the day. We all wanted to do some great poses for our ride photo, and this photo makes me laugh so much! And thanks to Lauren, who has Photopass on her annual pass, I was able to get great copies of all of our ride photos that day!

Our next ride time wasn’t for a few hours after that, so we decided to take some time to check out the Food and Wine Festival and get some lunch. Last year, I got one of the cards Annual Passholders could buy to save a little money on food. But I wasn’t going to eat that many things so I ended up just paying for each thing I got one by one. I got the deviled eggs, a beef tenderloin slider, and tacos.

The servings are small, but that was fine with me because I could try those 3 things and not feel too full. Each thing was really good and I feel like the food was even better this year than it was last year. And hopefully next year will be even better!

We also did some sightseeing around the park. They have been busy working on changing the Tower of Terror ride to the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride. This will be opening soon and there is a chance I might be able to ride it before my pass is blacked out for the summer. But if not, I’ll totally be going on it in August!

We also made a stop at the Animation Academy where we drew Hei Hei from “Moana”. I actually have not seen “Moana” yet, so it was weird to draw a character that I didn’t know what they looked like. But I think we all did a pretty good job with our artwork.

Our last ride in California Adventure was Radiator Springs Racers. The 4 of us ended up getting a car to ourselves so we were trying to plan something funny to do in our ride photo. Dani, Michelle, and I are so used to just thinking of what we can do with the 3 of us so it took a moment to figure out what could work with 4. And we decided to do the YMCA poses in our photo. We weren’t totally successful in doing that, but again it was an awesome photo!

We headed over to Disneyland after that ride to get in the rest of the rides we were hoping to do. I had a couple of rides on my list, but we ended up just doing 2 rides and riding each one twice. We did Buzz Lightyear twice because Michelle and I have our points competition for this year and we wanted to see what we could do. She ended up beating me both times, but this is a ride that I can go on while I’m recovering so I’m hoping to get some good scores soon.

The only other ride that we did that night was to ride Hyperspace Mountain. This is probably my favorite ride in the park and I am honestly a bit sad that I will have to take a few months off from riding it. One time we rode it Lauren was with us but she had to leave before we were able to ride it the second time. I was wearing my new I’m A Liver Not A Fighter shirt and was hoping to show it off in the ride photos. It didn’t quite work out that way, but that’s ok.

After our last ride, we were a bit stuck in Tomorrowland because of the parade and the fireworks. So we decided to see if we could find a nice spot to watch the fireworks and then we were going to take the Monorail to Downtown Disney to miss the crazy crowds trying to leave the park. But that ended up being a great decision because we found an almost empty area to watch the fireworks from that also got us to the Monorail quickly when it reopened.

Even though we weren’t expecting to be at Disneyland for a full day, we ended up being there for about 12 hours. That really helped me get my Disneyland fix in and while I probably will be antsy to get back I think I’m good for a little while now. It felt weird being there knowing that I might not be able to do a day like this again for a few months, but I’ve been preparing for this and this was just another thing in my pre-surgery countdown.

Thank you Dani, Michelle, and Lauren for making my day so awesome! Thanks for letting me take charge a bit to pick out our rides and being just as silly and ridiculous as me in our ride photos. Now I’m just counting down the weeks until surgery is done and I can get back!

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.

Rowing And Partners (or Enjoying A 4 Workout Week)

I didn’t realize this until after I completed this past week of workouts, but this was second to last time I will be doing a 4 workout week that I know of. I plan on getting back to 4 workout weeks eventually, but I have no clue how my recovery will go and how long it will take me to go from 3 workout weeks to 4 workout weeks. But I’m really glad that I pushed myself to do more 4 workout weeks because they now feel comfortable and normal to me. I remember when the 4th workout was a struggle and I am glad I got over that feeling. Hopefully this will make getting back to 4 workout weeks much easier for me when I am able to do so.

With the 4 workouts I had this week, I seemed to have a decent amount of rowing to do (which has been a trend) and a couple of partner workouts. It’s nice that it felt like there was a bit of a theme for the week and even though there were similarities with the workouts they were all different and had their own challenges.

Monday’s workout was a power day and we did a bit of switching between blocks but not with each block. All the blocks were about 5 minutes of less and that allowed me to pretty much do all running on the treadmill. We had a lot of 90 second push paces or 1 minute push pace to 1 minute all out paces, so the running wasn’t too long for me. The first and second block on the treadmill were similar (and we did those two blocks back to back without switching). And for the third and fourth block we mainly did push to all out paces which helped me keep running for all of the treadmill segments. It’s nice when I can do that and limit my running, but I also have started to wonder if I’ll ever be just a runner and not do any walking. I don’t know if I want to do that, but it’s giving me something to think about.

On the floor, we had a lot of lower body work and then some core work. We also did some bicep curls on straps and push ups on the ground. And the very last block wasn’t on the floor but on the rower. We were on the rower for 5 minutes and we did 20 seconds at an all out row followed by 10 seconds of a recovery row (basically going as slow as possible for those 10 seconds to get ready for the next 20). In those 5 minutes, I ended up doing over 1100 meters which really surprised me. I’m so used to averaging 100 meters every 30 seconds even though I’ve been doing much better than that lately. It was nice to have this 5 minute row to reinforce that I’m much better at rowing than I was even a month or so ago.

Wednesday’s workout was a partner workout and I got to partner with my friend Dani. We had 2 blocks each of which were a partner challenge for 23 minutes and each of which had one of us on the rower. The first block was one where the rower controlled the pace and the other person was on the treadmill. The rowing segments were 1000, 750, 500, and 250 meters and we switched between the rower and treadmill each time. And the person on the treadmill was just running until they were tagged out. I started with running on the treadmill, but I was getting exhausted from the rowing so I ended up walking after my first treadmill time. We didn’t quite make it through the entire challenge (Dani got to do 250 meters but I didn’t), but I think we did pretty awesome.

The second block was one where the rower just rowed for distance and the other person was on the floor controlling the pace. The floor person was doing chest presses, rows with weights, lateral raises, and plank work. And when they were done they tagged out the rower and started rowing. We didn’t reset the rower between switches and the goal was to get to 5,000 meters between us in 23 minutes. I tried not to take too many breaks on the floor because Dani was waiting on me on the rower, but it was a tough block. And at the end of the 23 minutes, we only made it to 4,900 meters so I was a bit frustrated that we didn’t make the goal. But again, considering how tough the workout was I was proud of us both.

Friday was a power day and again it involved rowing. We had 4 cardio blocks and while a majority of the time was on the treadmill, for the first 3 blocks each time we started with a 45 second all out row. I was surprised how tired I was feeling after just 45 seconds on the rower, but I think I went a lot harder on the rower than I normally do because I knew I’d be done in 45 seconds. After that, we headed to the treadmills and we had push to all out paces. I did manage to run all of those but I was walking when I could between to take a bit of a break from things. The last cardio block had no rowing, but it was all push to all out paces back to back.

On the floor, the first 3 blocks started with 45 seconds of bench hop overs. My form was fine for the first one, but it really got sloppy after that because of how tired I was. The rest of the floor work was a good variety with lunges, bicep work, plank jacks, and squats. And for the last floor block we headed back over to the rower. We had push to all out rows on the same timing as the treadmills and by the end of class I was so happy that I was done.

My 4th workout of the week was on Sunday instead of Saturday (I had something I couldn’t get out of on Saturday), but it worked out nicely to have that extra rest day before that workout. Sunday’s workout was a 3G workout and we were switching between blocks so we were never at one part of the room for more than about 7 minutes. For the treadmill, the first block was push paces to all out paces and each round the push pace got shorter. We started at 2 minutes and ended with 30 seconds. I was able to run all of it but it wasn’t easy. Our walking recovery within the block was pretty short so each time it was time to run again I was really wishing there was a bit more time to walk. The second block was pretty much all 1 minute all out paces with 30 second walking recoveries between. Again, I ran it all but toward the end I was cutting my all out paces a bit short to walk a bit more than the 30 seconds we had. I was starting to be a bit sore, but I was able to get back to running after recovering a bit longer.

On the floor, each block was 3 different moves. The first block was squats to bicep curls, frogger squats, and atomic mountain climbers. And the second block was weighted flys, jump squats (I do squats with calf raises), and plank work. Even though these blocks were each about 7 minutes, they felt really long. I think it’s because I was able to get through the work quickly so I got a lot of rounds done each time.

And on the rower we had one normal rowing block and one partner rowing block. With the normal rowing block, we had sprint rows and then we got off the rower to do squats and lunges. And on the partner block we had a partner who rowed 100 meters while we did burpees and then we would switch. I was a slower rower than my partner, but I hate burpees and he wanted to work on his so that worked out well. And at the end of the partner rowing block we had a 1 minute squat hold.

For being one of my last 4 workout weeks for a while, I’m glad that I had a decent amount of variety in my workout. It’s crazy to think that I only have a few more weeks of normal fitness blogging before my posts on Mondays will be either about a lack of working out or what I’ve been doing to start getting back to workouts with my recovery. I’ve been doing these Monday workout recaps for over half of the time that I’ve been blogging and I’ve loved doing them. It’s going to be a weird transition when I’m not able to blog about fitness the same what I’m used to. But hopefully my recovery journey will be as interesting as my fitness journey has been.

The Artist’s Way Recap (or 12 Weeks Later)

I previously blogged about how the podcast I work for was doing a group to support each other through the 12 week process of “The Artist’s Way”. I’ve attempted to complete “The Artist’s Way” a few times in the past but I usually didn’t make it beyond week 2 or 3. But having an accountability group really helped to keep me on track and this past week I completed the full 12 week journey.

I’m pretty proud of myself for making it through the entire thing. I’m pretty stubborn when I set my mind to things, but this was something that for some reason I wasn’t able to complete before. I don’t know what was holding me back, but clearly there was some block happening that was making me quit each time I tried. And the irony on how the journey is about unblocking yourself wasn’t lost on me.

The two main elements of “The Artist’s Way” for me were the morning pages and the artist date. The artist date was a bit odd for me. There are a lot of things I do each day that make me happy. I don’t usually set aside a time each week to do something like that since I try to do things every day. But I did try to do something each week that felt a bit more special than the usual things that I would do. That could be going to the Pantages for our shows, going to a movie screening, or just sitting on the couch and watching something on Netflix that I’ve been wanting to watch. I think it will be easy enough for me to keep up the weekly artist dates because it is not that far removed from what I’ve been working on with my therapist.

The morning pages were something totally different. When I was in high school, I kept diaries. These were done every night at the end of the day and I would recap what happened that day. It was a great way for me to work out my thoughts and to decompress. Now I have this blog (although I do still keep some things private to me). I don’t keep a diary and don’t feel the need to do so.

The morning pages are supposed to be 3 pages of freeform writing each morning. I’m not a huge fan of handwriting because my writing is so sloppy, but it’s encouraged to handwrite the morning pages instead of typing them. And even though these could be stream of consciousness pages, I still wanted to write in full sentences with proper grammar. I did get frustrated when I made a mistake or spelled something wrong and had to cross it out. I like to do things perfectly and I hate seeing mistakes.

I totally struggled with my morning pages. I take a while to wake up in the morning and I didn’t want to write as soon as I was up. I tried to get my pages started within 15 minutes of waking up and I usually could do that. But more days, I was using it as a diary like I had in high school. I would recap what the past day was like and I didn’t have much else to say. Occasionally I would write about a weird dream I had the night before, but most of the time I didn’t know what to write.

There were plenty of pages filled with me writing how I didn’t know what to write or how I wasn’t loving the morning pages. It got me through the 3 pages on those days I couldn’t think of anything to write, but I know that doing that is not the goal of the morning pages. But when I don’t have any other ideas of what to write in the morning, I didn’t want to try to figure it out for a long time. I had things to get done in the morning and couldn’t spend an hour trying to get 3 pages done.

Besides the artist dates and morning pages, there was a chapter to read each week and questions and ideas at the end of each chapter. I dedicated a bit of time each Sunday to read my chapter and to work on the questions. Most of the time, I kept my answers to the questions to myself. Sometimes I would share (or they would inspire me to write something on here), but the journey is a personal one.

Now that I’m done with all 12 weeks, I’ve been reflecting back a bit on what the journey did for me. I don’t necessarily feel more creatively open in my life, but I do feel more open in general. I’ve been more relaxed in what could be a stressful and uncertain time for me. I’m a planner and not being able to plan for things next month could easily bring out some OCD tendencies in me. But I’m happy to see that I’m not experiencing that and that I’m more open to see what will happen.

I’m also in a better morning routine than I was before. I’ve been working hard at getting up at the same time every morning. It’s not easy, especially when I have a tough night or am out late. But I really want to be more consistent in my wake up time every day so it doesn’t feel as tough in the mornings. At the beginning of the 12 weeks, there were plenty of days that I overslept past my alarm. It usually was only oversleeping by 30 minutes to an hour, but that was affecting my morning. But now, I’m usually getting up within 5-10 minutes of my alarm going off and I’m not hitting the snooze button. The latest I have slept in this month was 10 minutes after my goal wake up time. That’s so much better than an hour.

While I did have some victories over my 12 week journey, it wasn’t as life altering as I expected it to be. But when I reached the end, that actually was discussed in the book. Some of the changes in my life might have been during those 12 weeks and other might not happen until a year or so later when I reflect back on things. And I have a feeling that will be exactly how things work for me. When I started my Spark Planner/Ink+Volt Planner, I didn’t notice the results the same way at the beginning as I did when I reflected back at the end of the year. I need time away from the process to see the change that I’ve been able to make.

I’m very proud of myself for completing all 12 weeks. I’m glad I stuck with it and I’m so grateful for the other people from the podcast who did this journey with me. And I now have friends who are about to start the 12 weeks and I’m excited to see what they are able to do. While I don’t plan on necessarily continuing my morning pages and artist dates regularly, it’s good to know that I have those habits to go back to if I need them. And I might try to do this again for the first 12 weeks of 2018 just so I can see how I change over this year.

No matter what I do, I finally can say that I completed the entire “The Artist’s Way” journey and that’s something that I haven’t been able to say before. It’s an accomplishment that I’m so happy with and I know that it will only do amazing things for me.