Tag Archives: calm

Time For Another MRI (or Still Trying To Stay Calm)

After a busy weekend at the SAG-AFTRA Convention, I was ready to relax. But that wasn’t exactly what was in the plans for me. I had my liver MRI the next day and that’s not exactly the most relaxing thing for me to do. But at least it’s something I’m getting used to. I’ve had several liver MRIs by now and I know what it’s like. And even though it has been 6 months since my last one, I knew what I was in for.

This MRI was to check the tumor sizes. I have an appointment with my liver surgeon on Monday next week to discuss what the plan is going to be. But in order to do that, we need to know what is happening in my liver. So even though this was probably the most routine of my liver MRIs, it was also the most stressful for me. My first MRI was when we still thought I had a cyst and I didn’t know enough to be stresses. My second one was to determine what type of tumor I had and I knew it didn’t make too much of a difference what type it was. My third one was right before I was supposed to have surgery and was just a size check (I assumed that surgery was going to happen so I didn’t think too much about the size). But this one is to see what is happening so we can create a plan.

I tried not to stress too much about things because I cannot control if my tumors shrink or grow. Whatever happens is going to happen and I can’t worry too much. But at the same time, because I have no clue what is going on it is stressful. I want the tumors to keep shrinking because I really don’t want surgery. But I also know that if I do need surgery eventually that it will be the right thing for me.

So going in for this MRI was a mix of stress and exhaustion. I joked to friends that maybe I’d actually sleep in the MRI machine. That really can’t happen because there are audio cues I have to listen to about holding my breath at certain times, but I was hopeful that at least being tired would help keep me a bit relaxed. When I got to the hospital, they were running almost 2 hours behind so I spent a lot of time in the waiting room reading a book. But they ended up bringing me back early to get ready before the MRI machine was ready.

One part of getting ready was getting the IV started. They wanted to do this with me sitting on a chair and I was terrified. While I haven’t really fainted lately with needles or blood work, I was worried that the IV would make me pass out for a bit and didn’t want to fall. We ended up doing it with me sitting on a bench and leaning against the wall and I am happy to say that I didn’t faint with the IV! And then I found out that the new rules for the MRI machine meant that I couldn’t wear my own clothes and had to get gowned up. So I got changed and waited for the machine to be ready for me.

There was still more waiting once I was ready so I tried to just read my book and not think about the MRI. I was still a bit distracted and worried, but at least the reading gave me something to focus on a little more than the MRI. And once they were ready for me, I got on the table and they were able to get me positioned and strapped down (yes, you get strapped down for liver MRIs) quickly.

The MRI was only about 20 minutes since it was only a size check. I tried to count in my head during each scan and not think about what was happening or what they might be seeing. I still don’t really like MRIs and whenever the machine moved I got a bit panicky. But I stayed calm because I knew I needed to hold my breath several times and it’s not easy to do that when you are panicky.

When the contrast went into my IV, it felt as weird as it always has in the past. I hate that feeling and it did make me feel a bit faint, but I kept it together. And after the contrast went in, there is a 4 minute gap before the next scan so they were able to take my IV out so I could finish the MRI without the IV in my arm. That was nice and I’m grateful that they do that for me. And after those last few scans, it was all done and I was released from the table and was able to get changed and on with my day.

But I wasn’t done just yet. Because things were running so far behind and you have to pay to park at the hospital I go to, I decided that I was going to take advantage of something they were offering. If you got a flu shot, they gave you parking validation to cover the cost of parking that day. My parking was going to be about $20, so I figured this would be the perfect time to get my flu shot and to ┬ánot have to pay a lot for parking. I got it, didn’t pass out, and got free parking. Totally a win (except that my arm is still a bit sore).

I have my meeting with my surgeon on Monday, but I already got an email from him. I don’t have all the details, but I do know that my biggest tumor has gotten a bit smaller! When it was discovered a year ago, it was 10cm. When we did the MRI in April it was about 4cm. And in the MRI this week it was about 3cm. I don’t know about the other tumor or if the 3rd one is still not able to be seen, but this is big news! I’m assuming this means that I still won’t be having surgery, but I don’t really know much more than the size just yet. But I’ll be updating you all when I know more!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A 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.