Archives for posts with tag: exercise

Visited my oncologist – the fabulous Dr. Shroff – SmileyFace on Friday for a regular office visit and to have my port flushed.  I was left in the examining room for about an hour waiting for my doctor but I do not get impatient as I know sometimes the prescribed 15 minute appointments run long, particularly if she has to deliver bad news.  And Friday, as I would find out later, was a bad news day for lots of her patients but fortunately for me, I was not among them.

I feel pretty good, have a good head of returning hair, and all systems are “go” for now. If anything I am too fat.  I emerged from chemo in March with incredible aches and pains in my bones and joints so each time I worked out at the gym I couldn’t sleep for the next two days because of the pain in my lower extremities.  As a matter of fact, right before my cancer diagnosis last fall I was investigating alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

My right knee was replaced in 2009 and way back then the ortho doc told me my left knee was not far behind.  That knee surgery in 2009 was big and bad and recovery was difficult so I was actually looking at stem cell therapies that might help me avoid surgery when cancer interrupted my research.

Anyway, despite having put on weight in the past 2 months, my fabulous oncologist could not have been more supportive and encouraging.  She didn’t scold for the added weight.  In fact, she said it was great to see me so hale and hearty (or something like that).  I told her I was going to pursue left knee replacement and she gave it her blessing, encouraging me to do whatever I needed to do to feel good and get back to all my regular routines.   Those routines include regular exercise that requires fully functional knees.

After my visit with my fabulous doctor I was ushered into the chemo room so they could do my blood work and flush the port.  The oncology nurses are just so remarkable they deserve a mention here.  Throughout my four-month chemo journey,  they  delivered that toxic cocktail with great skill, cheerful support, and friendly efficiency.  They have to blend accurate nursing skills with the most elegant customer service skills, and do it with warmth and humor all day every day to folks who are at some of the lowest points of their lives.  They watch some recover, and watch others fade, and still maintain that relentless warmth.  I thank them all each time I visit, but also wanted to make it known here as I suspect many of my fellow cancer patients have had similar experiences.  If you are reading this and had a similar experience, feel free to comment.

Provided cancer stays in my rearview mirror, I will move forward with knee replacement sometime before February 28.  That is when my medical year ends so I would like to get it done this year since I have already met deductible and out-of-pocket.

For now, back to the gym I go.  I need to lose weight and build up strength in both legs which is key to quick recovery from surgery.  To that end, I am headed to the kitchen to whip up a HUGE batch of gazpacho: a crispy, cold summer soup with lots of vegetables and not many calories.

Gazpacho

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I have a strong sense to nest right now.  I feel October 29th looming and because of that deadline I am spending my time attending to long-neglected home projects.  My surgery is of the out-patient variety so I will be home the same day they operate.  But then I do expect to he here in my little condo for at least a few weeks and potentially all of November.

So lots of laundry first.  Washing rugs and lots of towels and things that have been lying on the closet floor for months.  Among other things, I gathered  my bras and panties today and realized that the 4 bras I just washed won’t be needed beginning post-mastectomy. I don’t know exactly when bandages come off and not sure when I will need to don a bra again, nor do I know what kind of bra it will be.  Oh well, I reckon that will become clear soon enough.  

It wasn’t depression or fear or hopelessness that I felt at that moment.  Rather, it was a resigned pragmatism.   I think it was similar to the feelings I experienced as I gained weight and had to buy larger jeans and yet it appropriately diminishes that experience.

Trash.  Threw lots of stuff out yesterday.  And I expect to continue performing this exercise in the near term which means more is headed for the dumpster.  

These exercises serve two purposes.  I think it gives me a sense of being in control of something and let’s face it, the cancer diagnosis makes me feel like a game show contestant in my own life rather than the potentate that I had always been.  It also helps burn some nervous energy and focus on something other than all this crap that is front and center.  

I actually went to the gym last night, partly because I don’t have cable TV and my gym does so I could watch my beloved Wildcats on ESPN, and partly because it just seemed like a good idea.  And it actually turned out to be a great idea.  I got to watch the Cats while working the cardio for 45 minutes and then did a round of weights.  I know I can’t undo 4 years of bad habits and I won’t get fit in the next 16 days but I can make some incremental positive improvements.   Again, it just feels good to focus on something positive.

But the best benefit of the busy day and a good exercise session was blissful, restful, sleep.  Just sleep.   An illusive commodity since Friday, October 4 when I visited my regular doctor who immediately got me in to see the surgeon and the waking nightmare began in earnest.  

Blissful, restful, sleep, I have missed you and welcome you back.

To sleep, perchance to dream.  Peacefully.  And wake up rested and ready to fight again.

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The Seminole Wekiva Trail is almost 14 miles of paved recreational throughway on top of what was once the Orange Belt Railway.  It snakes north from Altamonte Springs nearly all the way to Sanford.  It has been my preferred outdoor exercise venue for the past 10 years which is as long as I have lived in Seminole County.

I have had religious experiences out there, scary experiences, eaten more bugs than I care to remember and made my share of “deposits” along the way.  I have fallen down, wrecked my bike, hurt my knees, endured blisters and been savaged by mosquitoes.

Fox, turtles, cows, horses, hawks, eagles, squirrels, snakes and deer are common sites.  So are all kinds of people.  There are those just like me who drive to one of the many parking spots along the way to launch our bike our just set out on our run.  And there are those who actually live alongside the trail who walk their kids, their family or their dogs.

Over the course of the past 10 years, many of the users become familiar to me.  Some will be out there for weeks and months and years, training for an upcoming event.  The novice runners eventually getting 10 miles regularly.  The bicyclers advancing from leisurely pleasure rides to death defying time trials.

Several years ago, I logged hours and miles on that trail, training for half-marathons.  I would always schedule my long run for a weekend morning.  During the week I would dash home after work, change clothes and head to the trail to get anywhere from 3 to 7 miles.

In the winter, daylight doesn’t hang around much after the dinner hour so I would often be finishing my run as darkness fell.  Once the light fades, every noise is amplified.  Fellow exercisers become scarce and that last ½ mile can feel lonely and long.

But not once Cookie showed up.  My final ½ mile was always at the same spot because of where I parked my car.  And it took my past a neatly kept home with a handsome boat parked in the driveway.  And that was Cookie’s house.

Cookie was a cute little buff-colored snorting pug.  Her mom, Brenda, told me that Cookie preferred to walk at dusk because it was cooler and because she could get a whiff of all the forest creatures that were making their way out of hiding.  Every other week for almost two years, I would find Cookie and Brenda out walking and they would always accompany me until they reached their house but then they would stay by the side of the trail and watch until I reached my car.

Seeing the two of them was reassuring in so many ways.

After my 4th half marathon, knee pain prevented me from running and eventually I had knee replacement surgery.  I did not venture out on my beloved trail for 3-4 years, and blew up like the Michelin man as a result.

So now, here I am fat and 55 and worried that I will keel over any minute if I don’t get a little leaner and a little fitter.  What better place to start my personal renewal project than the Seminole Wekiva Trail.  I have biked and/or walked for each of the past 3 weekends.  The people are all different, the landscape is different and even the car parks are different, but the Trail itself is the same. Comfortable and reliable like an old friend.

This past weekend, my third outing on the Trail, there were lots of people out walking, running, biking, rollerblading, and bird watching.  For the past three weekends I had passed Cookie’s house and wondered about her and Brenda.  The cars were different and the boat was no longer there, so I suspected that Cookie and Brenda were long gone as well.

But as I approached this time, there was a cute little buff-colored snorting pug and a woman about my age at the other end of the leash.  This woman was a little heavier than I and the pug was slightly heavier than the Cookie I remembered but I just had to ask.

I pulled off the path and, looking squarely at the dog I asked if this might be Cookie.   Brenda turned and said “yes” and then asked how we knew each other.

Thrilled,  I explained how she and Cookie had escorted me those many years ago and how grateful I was for the company and the security of knowing someone had my back as I was finishing up my late runs.  Brenda remembered or at least lied well enough to convince me she remembered.

As she began to speak, I noticed the tell-tale scar indicating a long ago tracheostomy had been performed. I also noticed she walked with a decided limp and wore some kind of brace on one leg.  She went on to explain that she had been in the hospital for almost a year and a half, had been clinically dead, still suffered lingering effects from Guillain-Barre syndrome but was happy to be home and well and able to get the now 12-year old Cookie out for her constitutional.

We chatted a bit longer and I thanked her again. Both for her kindness a few years before and again today for chatting with me.  She wished me well as I went on my way, and bid her and CooKie the same.

Time passes, things change, people come and go.  But I am glad to have a Cookie for a North Star.

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