Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crazy January

I can't believe that we are already all the way through the month of January- it kind of feels like a blur! The month started out rocky with me having surgery on January 2nd to remove melanoma from my ear and two lymph nodes in my neck. It was stressful and nerve-racking but with the support of our wonderful family and friends we got through it and are stronger because of it. All reports have come back good and I am proud to say that I have kicked the cancer in the a$$! I ended the crazy month of January with one last appointment with Dr. Connelly and he said things look great. He removed the last two stitches that hadn't dissolved and said that he would see me again in 3 months!
Maybe someday I will figure out the reason!
One of the best things that a friend said to me was,
 "Try to relax and trust God. Sometimes He just wants to remind us who's in charge."

 The recovery from my surgery put me a little behind for the month but I didn't let it last long. I have a half marathon in March  and a full marathon in May to train for! I did what I could as soon as I felt I could do them - I was cautious and backed off if it didn't feel right and pushed myself harder when I knew it was ok to do so. Here are my totals for the month:
  • 112 miles total
  • 68 miles running
  • 38 miles biking
  • 5 miles walking 

Looking back now I am pretty proud of all that I accomplished in January even if it got off to a rough start. Here is a run down:
  • I beat cancer (Melanoma = Cancer; it still feels weird to say that! I was lucky and surgery was all that it took to win my fight. Sometimes I feel guilty or like I had it "easy" to win my fight. It is hard to explain and put into words. I feel for all of the people out there that are fighting.)
  • I have started to accept myself more and am ok (most of the time) with the new me.
  • I realized that I am stronger than I thought and that I have so much support in my life!
  • I ran a half marathon (in the rain, sleet, and snow) only 25 days post- surgery (not having fully trained for it)!
  • I have continued to work on my eating habits and am making progress in that area.
  • I have a new perspective on like!

I am truly blessed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Weekly Chase #5

    The training plan for today said 3 miles and after the 13.1 miles in the snow, sleet, and rain on Sunday I wasn't sure if it was going to happen. As I drove to the Y I was just hoping to make the whole 3 miles. My legs are really feeling the difference from running on the treadmill to running outside the other day. I got on the treadmill and selected to run in Chicago on the Virtual Active setting (in my mind I was thinking that this was the flattest location of the options in the Virtual Active setting) and I took off. Much to my surprise it felt really good! My legs felt great and I found my groove very quickly. I enjoyed some new songs on my iPod and before I knew it I was at 3 miles but I wasn't ready to be done! I decided to keep going but not to push it too much so I ended at 4 miles. It felt great to have such a strong run this soon after running the virtual half on Sunday!
    Now onto The Weekly Chase!
Let's recap last weeks goals:
  1. Plank-a-day challenge- I did good until Friday and that is where I stopped doing them for the week. Thursday's plank was pretty week after doing a great arm workout the night before. Need to continue to work on this goal.
  2. Get back to doing my daily squats- Again, I did great with this until Friday. I was sore from the workouts earlier in the week and opted to take a rest day so I would be ready for the 13.1 miles we had planned on Sunday.
  3. Get all of my half/full marathon training runs in (per the Hal Higdon training plan)- Done! I am proud to say that I got all of my training runs in!
  4. Get my Scentsy Family business re-organized and book 2 parties (Scentsy, Grace Adele, or Velata)- Started to work on getting organized but need to keep this as a goal for this week. Need to get some parties booked for Feb.
  5. Make healthy choices when it comes to snacks and eating. Start moving towards "clean" and healthy eating. - I feel like I did really good on this. We went to the store and got more produce and other healthy foods to have in the house. Other than pizza on Friday night we did pretty good.
  6. Complete the MRTT Winter Runnerland 13.1 - Done! It wasn't pretty but it is done.
Now for my goals this week:
  1. Plank-a-day challenge- Do a plank every day. This week I am not going to worry about increasing my time each time I do it. I just want to make sure I am getting them in. In the back of my mind I am always trying to better my time but I won't beat myself up over it if I am not feeling it one day. I will get it done and be happy with that!
  2. Daily squats- keep at them. I notice a difference in my running when I stick with it.
  3. Add back in some core work this week- Get in 2-3 sessions of some type of core exercise.
  4. Make friends with my foam roller. Roll for 10-15 minutes daily.
  5. Work my Scentsy Family business- get working on my tax information and get 2 parties booked for next month.
Check out Mindy's blog Road Runner Girl or Molly's blog Thinking Loudly to see what goals others have. You can also particpate by linking up your own Weekly Chase post and get support from others!

Do you follow a training plan? If so, which plan do you follow?
What are your goals for this week?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Runnerland

All last week I had planned to do my MRTT Winter Runnerland Virtual Half Marathon on Sunday. The way things were looking I was going to end up doing it on the treadmill. Tim was planning to do it with me but we were not sure how it was all going to work since Aidan could only be in the Y Watch for 2 hours and we knew that it was going to take longer than that. Well yesterday came and along with it came a Winter storm- snow, sleet, and freezing rain. The storm also came with some warmer temperatures. After church we decided that it wasn't too bad out and that maybe we could get some of the miles in outside (you know I have been itching to get in a run outside for about a month now!). We decided to try it and then we could still head to the Y to finish the miles and we would be good. Once we headed out we decided it wasn't too bad so we decided to head for The Great River Bike Trail.
The trail was beautiful and peaceful!
 It was a mix of snow/sleet as we headed out the trail. At times there was some freezing rain mixed in but it really wasn't too bad. We decided to go out to 6.55 miles and then head back. We were both feeling pretty good. At the turn around point we stopped for a minute and had some Honey Stinger Chews. We had the Fruit Smoothie flavor and they were really good. We took a couple of pictures and headed on our way home.

Along for support
Feeling pretty good at 6.55 miles- Half way done!

We were still feeling pretty good as we headed for home. It wasn't too long when I started to get thirsty. That is when it got ugly! We hadn't planned on doing the whole 13.1 outside so we didn't bring water along- big mistake! With about 4 miles to go we broke down and took some snow/sleet/ice off of the rail of a bridge that we crossed - I can't even believe that I am saying this... but it was amazing and really helped! About that same time it changed from snow/sleet to pouring rain! Not long after that I got a horrible side ache- way up high in my ribs. I had to stop and walk with my arms above my head for a minute to relieve it but it kept creeping back for the rest of the run and we had to walk multiple times to take it away. I am not sure if it was the Honey Stingers or the lack of water- maybe a combination of both. The last 3 miles were the longest ever! Our legs were getting very sore from running in the slush and having not run outside for a month. We were very excited to get to our driveway and to be done! 13.16 miles done in 2:26:09 in a Winter Runnerland! It really did feel great to finally get outside for a run for the first time in about a month. In the end it really wasn't bad considering we were only up to an 8 mile long run in our training plan. I also have to say it felt great to accomplish that only 25 days out from my surgery! It gave me an idea of where I am and what I need to work on in the next several weeks before the Shamrock Half in Virginia.
We earned this baby!
2:26:09 running in a Winter Runnerland!

It has also been a while since my last update on my ear/neck. I feel like things are doing great. I am pretty much back to all of my normal activities (except swimming- I am ready to get back in the water but wanted to make sure my ear was all healed before getting in). I don't have an appointment until this Thursday so I will know more then. As far as I can tell it appears to be healing nicely. I still have some numbness in my jawline near my ear but that seems to be getting better. The worst thing right now is the itching. I guess that is a good thing because they say that means it is healing. The sensitivity to the cold seems to be getting better but is still there when it is really cold and windy. It also isn't as tender to the touch and I am able to wear a hat now. Here are a few pictures so you can see the progress.

January 28, 2013

January 28, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When will I learn?

We have been doing fairly good on the healthy/clean eating over the past week... well until last night! When will I learn that I can't keep the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in the house? After a great workout and eating a wonderful salad last night for dinner the craving hit me! I NEEDED to make chocolate chip cookies - or maybe I should say just the dough! We almost always have everything we need in the house to make them so I whipped up the dough and that is when things fell apart. There will be no cookies because we don't have enough of the dough left to make them! It wasn't just me- my husband and even my kids participated in this little snack! They are no help to the situation. If I say I think we should make cookies they don't stop me! My craving is satisfied but now I regret it all! It wasn't worth it. When will I learn? I just need to keep the ingredients out of the house so things like this can't happen! I also need to make sure I have more willpower and control over the crazy cravings like this.

Today I got up and got a solid 4 miles in on the treadmill followed by some serious stretching. I also did my plank-a-day (2:10.8), my 100 squats, and some weighted side crunches. After a great workout and another wonderful salad for lunch I am moving on and trying to forget my craziness last night!

What things do you crave and give into?

How do you stop yourself and maintain control over cravings?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Long run & The Weekly Chase

Our long run for the past weekend was scheduled to be 7 miles! On Saturday it was beautiful out but we were busy with getting the boys to basketball games and then me having to get to work. That meant that our long run would have to be on Sunday. Unfortunately for us it got crazy cold between Saturday and Sunday and we were forced inside on the treadmill for our long run. I made sure to grab my iPod and Yurbuds and we headed to the Y. We were lucky and were able to find treadmills next to each other! We choose the Virtual Active setting- which I am loving- and we decided to run together in Italy! It was beautiful but it was also fairly hilly (when we were done it Italy we eneded up in the Swiss Alps). I have to admit that I was a little intimidated when I saw the graph come up on the screen that shows the incline changes- I wasn't sure how things were going to go with this being our "long" run! Once we got going it really wasn't bad and I was actually grateful for the changes in incline because it kept the run interesting and mixed it up. It took me a little while to get in the groove. I think I finally felt really good about 3.5 miles in. We also took along Sport Beans to use. I ate a few at the 3 mile mark and then a few more at the 6 mile mark. They tasted pretty good but I am not use to eating and drinking much while running so it was different for me. I did get a bit of a side-ache at about 4 miles- not sure if it is related to eating and drinking at 3 miles or if it was just a fluke. Fueling is something that we need to work on as we continue on our half/full training plan so we are trying a few different things. In the end 7 solid miles DONE!!! 

Road Runner Girl
It has been a few weeks since I have done The Weekly Chase but these were my goals back on January 1:
1) Keep a positive attitude as I head into surgery tomorrow. (Done for the most part- doubt/fear made it's way in a few times but I feel like I did a pretty good job of keeping my head up)
2) Drink 64 oz. of water a day. (Done- I drank a lot of water that week. I had a scratchy throat and I didn't go far without my water. I have continued to do well with this goal)
3) Take time to rest and recover from surgery. (Done- Because of my wonderful family that helped out with the boys I was able to take the time that I needed to take it easy! As I started feeling better I started adding in exercise and workouts that I felt I could handle.)

4) Plank-a-day challenge that a friend posted on Facebook for the month of January.-Do what I can this week! (This has been a work in progress! I started back doing it once I was able to but have since fallen off the wagon.)
I feel like I did great on my goals for the week of my surgery and for the most part continued to do well with them over the past few weeks. I have started to get back to my normal workouts and am ready to get back to The Weekly Chase!
Here are my goals for the week:
  1. Plank-a-day challenge- get back to doing my planks and push myself to improve each day.
  2. Get back to doing my daily squats! Jess @ Run With Jess has a great January Challenge 2013 printable that I have been working on following (Plank-a-day, Squats, and Running).
  3. Get all of my half/full marathon training runs in (per the Hal Higdon training plan).
  4. Get my Scentsy Family business re-organized and book 2 parties (Scentsy, Grace Adele, or Velata).
  5. Make healthy choices when it comes to snacks and eating. Start moving towards "clean" and healthy eating.
  6. Complete the MRTT Winter Runnerland 13.1
The Weekly Chase is hosted by Mindy @ Road Runner Girl and Molly @ Thinking Loudly- you can visit either blog to check out the background and how to participate.

What was your long run this past weekend?

How do you fuel on long runs? What is your favorite fuel?

What are your goals this week?

Friday, January 18, 2013

An update and getting back on track

Last week I saw an oncologist that gave us lots of great information. He asked lots of questions, did a quick once over physical, and talked a lot about prevention in the future. He said that I am more prone to melanoma and that we just need to do what we can to prevent it in the future- both for me and the boys. He also told us that the protocols tell us that we have done all that we need to do! The cancer is gone and they don't recommend any further treatment or tests. The only thing I need to do going forward is to continue with my yearly physicals in Family Practice and see Dermatology once a year. He also suggested that I do one in the spring and one in the fall- that way I would have someone seeing me every six months. With the timing of my appointments that is how things will work out.
 I went back to Dr. Connelly yesterday and things are looking pretty good. There is one spot inside my ear that is very tender and he said that is because it is a spot along the incision that opened up about 1/16th of an inch. It will be fine we just need to keep it clean, continue to put on the antibiotic ointment and keep a close eye on it. I go back again in 2 weeks.
Things are starting to get back on track in the running department too! Half/full marathon training has begun and I have gotten in some good miles this week. I have my training calender written out and am following the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Program and the Hal Higdon Full Marathon Training Program. The two programs fit together just about right for my goal races- Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach (March 17) and the Green Bay Full Marathon (May 19). Tim and I have followed the Hal Higdon program in the past for the half marathons that we have done and it worked out great for us so I figure why mess with a good thing, right?
I am getting antsy to get in some outdoor miles but my ear continues to be very sensitive to the cold so it will need to warm up before that will happen. My ear is also still very tender and I don't even want to think about putting a hat or headband over it. For now, I am loving the Virtual Active setting on the treadmills at the Y- you can select different places to run and it adds in "hills" for you so it helps make it feel more like running outside.
I am finding that having my iPod blasting has really helped me get in the zone on the treadmill. It helps that I finally found a pair of earbuds that I love! Before Christmas I received a gift card from a great friend that I decided to use on a pair of Yurbuds- Inspire for Women that I purchased at Target. I had heard great things about them and let me tell you they live up to all of it! They stay in my ear without me having to push them back in all the time. They fit perfect and have great sound. They also have lots of wonderful colors  to choose from! I had a helper along whose favorite color is yellow so that is the color that I ended up with. I would have to say that I would highly recommend them! Now I just need some new music. Any suggestions?
Oh! Guess what? I wore my hair in a ponytail at the Y last night and I survived!! It really was no big deal like my mind had made it out to be. I am getting use to it but there are still times that I look in the mirror and I can't help but get down for a minute. I know that I am not alone and that it is OK to feel this way.  This is a portion of a message that I received, after one of my last posts, from an amazing person that I am very proud to call a friend, "Tomorrow I go in for my yearly mammogram, and as long as everything is good, I will be four years cancer free. Yet, even after all this time, the disfiguration of my one breast, still can make me sad. Not as often as it used to, but sometimes it just hits me. For the longest time, I was even mad at it, if that makes sense. People can say to you, just wear your hair down and to me, with a bra on no one knows, yet we know and the reminder of the cancer is still there and very real to us." That is exactly how I feel- sometimes it just hits me and it does make me sad or even mad that I had to go through all of this. Seeing my new ear is a reminder that I did have cancer! It makes it very real that things like this can and do happen!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I sweat pink!

I am super excited to share with you that I am a new Sweat Pink ambassador! I'm so excited to join this great program and can't wait to share my experience with all of you.

Have you heard of Sweat Pink? If not, it's basically a program to get women on board with healthy eating, healthy living and staying fit.  These are all things that I enjoy and hope to inspire others to enjoy as well.

Several of my favorite bloggers are Sweat Pink Ambassadors and I had checked it out a couple of times but they weren't taking applications for new people. Then back in December one of my running buddies- Nikki @ Running Yoga Mom posted that she had just become a SPA (Sweat Pink Ambassador) so I decided to check it out again. I love what Sweat Pink stands for and I am on the journey to living the life they promote. Just like Nikki said in her post- I love encouraging other people to take control of their lives and get fit and healthy -  the right way- eating right and exercising!  There are no quick fixes. You have to do the work to see the results and I can't wait to learn more from this great network of ladies!

Check back for more of my journey with Sweat Pink!

~Sweat Pink!~

Want to know more about it? Click here:

Interested in being an ambassador too?: Check it out!:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Moving forward

On Monday we got GREAT news and like so many family members and friends I am super excited for that! For most people in my life hearing that they got all of the cancer and it hadn't spread is where this whole story ends. Unfortunately for me that isn't where it ended. I was torn emotionally and still am to some extent (I have my "bad" moments). Yes- I was incredibly excited that I got that great news but I still had to face the physical change that happened- all because of a stupid little dark spot on the top of my ear! I am sure this is going to be long but here goes...
In the doctor's office I was super excited for the great news! As a bonus I would be getting the dressings off- that was what I was hoping for all along going into the appointment. I wanted a shower and wanted to wash my hair so I was thrilled to learn that I was going to get to do those things. I hadn't even thought about what that all meant. I hadn't thought past hearing those words and getting the results of the pathology reports. As we walked to the car it hit me, "What does my ear look like?" Dr. Connelly said in our consult, "it would still look like an ear, just smaller". What did that mean?
As we got to the car Tim gave me a kiss and said he was so excited for the great news. I think it was at this point that I asked him how it looked and if I even wanted to look. I was so scared! He told me that it didn't matter that he was just happy to have the cancer gone and for me to still be with him. He said I was beautiful no matter what! We both started texting the good news to everyone. As Tim made a call I decided that I was going to be brave; but I wasn't as brave as I thought I could be and was only able to give myself a very quick peak- I had seen enough! My heart was breaking and I was devastated inside. I was nervous about what people would think of me! Tim was great and reassured me that it was fine and that it didn't matter what other people thought- he still loved me! But I still felt like it sucked! I just got great news and never really had to chance to enjoy it- life still felt like it sucked!
I decided to suck it up and move on. I texted the good news to family and friends that had been so caring and supportive over the past few weeks. I tried to call my parents but was only able to talk to my mom for a bit. She sounded so relieved so that made me feel a little better. I still wasn't really able to feel excited for the wonderful news that we were just given because I couldn't stop thinking about what I saw in that "quick peak" in the mirror.
It wasn't long and my step-mom called me back. I have to say that was the best thing that could have happened at that time. I don't know that she will ever understand how much I needed to hear what she had to say. She "got" it! She was excited for the good news and we talked about all of that but then she told me that it was OK to still be sad for how I had changed physically. She had ideas to help me going forward. I broke down a little on the phone with her because finally someone was validating the feelings that I was having. She wasn't making me feel like I shouldn't be feeling what I was feeling! I was beating myself up inside because I was so torn emotionally and finally someone was telling me it was OK. After talking to her I felt better; I knew that there was someone in my support system that understood!
As excited as I was to take a shower and wash my hair you would think that was the first thing that I did once we got home. Nope- I was too afraid! I was afraid it was going to hurt and mostly I was afraid of having to look at myself in the mirror again! We ate lunch together and then Tim had to head back to work. I texted a little back and forth with some friends/family and then it was time to face myself and finally take that shower that I had been longing for.
I got Aidan settled in with a movie and pretty much locked myself in the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror and just sobbed! I pulled my hair back into a ponytail (like I wear my hair most of the time) and the difference was so noticeable that I just cried and cried. It was so hard for me to look at myself in the mirror but I forced myself to look and take it all in and deal with the emotions that kept coming up. In the grand scheme of things it really did look good. Dr. Connelly did a great job on the reconstruction given the situation. I am very grateful that I had such a great doctor working on me!
It was so emotional to know that this is the new me! Yes, with my hair down you can't really tell. Yes, I am lucky I am a girl and that I have longer hair. Yes, I know I can hide it. I have heard all of the reassurances! Reality is- it is still hard! Part of me was thinking that all of my family and friends are going to be curious of what it looks like and now everyone is going to want to see. How do I deal with that? Am I OK with it? 
I took a nice LONG shower (it probably would have been longer but I ran out of hot water) and allowed myself to cry and feel the emotions that I was feeling. At one point I wished Tim would have stayed home but then at the same time decided that maybe it was better that I had this time for myself. The shower was a good cleansing for my soul. I decided that when I got out of the shower I was going to move forward! Pity party was over and I would deal with my fears as I had to face them. This is the new me and the only thing I can do about it is stay positive and be as confident as I can (although this has never been my strength). I got dressed, did my hair and felt like a new person.
Isaac had basketball practice and Riley had swimming lessons that night so we all headed to the Y. This was my first outing without the dressings covering my ear. I left my hair down and my ear was covered but I was still nervous. Physically I was feeling so much better than the previous days. I was itching to get some kind of workout in. With the stress of the day all I could think about was running- my way of dealing with stress. I knew I didn't want to push it and cause any setback but I needed to do something to test it out. I promised Tim that I would take it easy and not push myself. I told him I would walk if it was too bad. We found treadmills next to each other and got going. I slowly increased my speed and as I got to my normal starting pace I knew this wasn't going to happen like I had hoped and had to back down on my speed a little. The moving of my neck/shoulders as I ran was a little uncomfortable. As I went back down on the speed it was OK and I was able to get in a nice slow mile run! It felt pretty good but I was frustrated that it hadn't gone as well as I had hoped it would. Really, what did I expect less than a week out from surgery?
 We decided to get on the recumbent bikes for a while to make my legs happy. Here I wouldn't have to move my shoulders/neck like when I was running. I was thrilled that the bike felt great! We rode the bikes for about 35 minutes. Tim wanted to stop multiple times but it felt good and I wanted to keep going. Once I hit 7 miles I agreed to stop. We then walked the indoor track for another 35 minutes. It felt great to finally get moving again- even if the running didn't go how I had expected it to! I just need to keep doing what I can and I will be back at it before long!
Over the past few day those negative voices continue to pop into my head once in a while. Sometimes I let them get to me more than I should but I am working on that. Last night I watch the documentary "Hungry For Change" on Netflix. Someone in a Facebook Fitness Challenge Group that I am a part of recommended it so I thought I would watch it. This documentary exposes the secrets the diet, weight loss, and food industries use to keep us coming back for more. Wow! What an eye opener! I would recommend that you check it out. I sat with a notebook and took notes and plan to watch it again! There was one piece in it that really hit me. I can't even remember how it all tied in but it was about negative self-talk. The person in the interview recommended this: "I accept myself unconditionally right now!" Write it out. Say it. Post it on your mirror and repeat it (look at yourself in the mirror and repeat it out loud) 2x/day for 30 days. After doing this, when you have that negative self-talk going on in your head use this quote to fight back. Given what is going on right now this really hit home and I think I will try this for the next 30 days!
I could really keep going on but this has once again gotten very long winded! I do have one more thing- I have decided that I am feeling very brave today and I know everyone is very curious. Here are the only two pictures that I have from this past week:
1/4/13- Removing the lower dressings and getting our first peak at the incision.
Here you can also see the top dressing that was covering my ear. 
1/7/13- Checking it all out for the first time.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I am back... and with good news!

I finally feel like I am getting back into the swing of things, at least a little! I am told my surgery last week went well -  I really don't remember much of the surgery itself but here is what I do remember from that day:
Our day started out in Nuclear Medicine where they did two injections of a radioactive dye into the top of my ear. The first one wasn't too bad but the second one was a duesy! Once they did that, they took a bunch of images as the dye filtered to the lymph nodes in my neck. This would help them to know which lymph node(s) to remove and where to find them. I had to lay there as still as I could as they did all of the different images. We were in there for about 1 1/2 hours. I was doing OK until the machine kept getting closer and closer to my face! I knew the tech had left the room and I started to have a mini panic attack inside as to what would happen if the machine didn't stop moving and I was stuck under it. Lucky for me it did stop and they were able to get great images of two lymph nodes. They were then able to use the images to make a mark on my neck as to where they could find them.
From there the tech walked me to the pre-op waiting room. Just as we sat down a nurse came and got us. It was game time! I think my stomach sank with nerves! She took us to a room where she had me do a mouthwash rinse and spit (this was to remove any bacteria that could get pushed down when they intubated me in surgery) and then told me to remove my clothes and put on the lovely hospital gown. Next up was the IV start - in the past I have been a tough start but the tech I had did a great job. I hardly felt it. Once it was in I was a little annoyed by it being in my hand and not really being able to move my fingers without it hurting but I guess it didn't really matter once they put me out anyway. My nurse, Marilyn, was wonderful and calming. She hooked my legs up to the thromboguards (sleeves that are hooked up to a pump that fill and empty to help with circulation) which I actually really liked. I thought they were kind of relaxing in a way. Hey, maybe I need to get some of those to help with post-long run recovery!. She also had to ask all of the normal pre-op questions and had me sign the consent. The Anesthesiologist also stopped in to see us and go over a few things with us. It was kind of a whirlwind!
 My parents (Mom, Dad, and Step-Mom) arrived and we had a little while to visit before it was time to head to the OR. When it was time to go they got me up to the bathroom one last time and my parents wished me luck and headed to the waiting room At some point during this time the nurse gave me some medication to help relax and calm me (I have to admit now that I was very nervous as to how I would do with this medicine! Aidan got very silly and acted like a very drunk little 3 year old when they gave it to him- I think I did OK!). This is where things get fuzzy... I remember being wheeled to the OR... I remember moving over to the table from the bed and that is where things end! 
Next thing I remember is trying to "wake up". At this point things were still kind of fuzzy. I remember a nurse asking me if I was cold and then telling me that I had been so sweaty that they had to change my gown. I guess it was from something they had me hooked up to in surgery (The Bear-hugger?). My throat felt really scratchy and it hurt to cough. I remember being moved to a different area where things started to come together a little more and before long my husband (who I have to say has been so amazing and wonderful) and my mom were brought back to see me. I had some water and Sprite and before I knew it I was up using the bathroom and getting dressed. At some point in this area I remember Dr. Connelly stopping by and saying that things went really good and he thought the nodes looked clear. He said something (not sure what) to make me smile (which I did) and he said that is what he was looking for (He had explained to us in our consult that much of the surgery would be very close to the nerve that controls part of the face so he was checking to make sure it still worked). I remember thinking to myself that I knew what he was doing and I was relieved that I was able to smile!
Next thing I know I am getting in a wheelchair and am headed home! Once we were home I tried to get comfy on the couch. My head and neck were all bandaged up so it was tough. I knew I needed to take some pain medicine but that meant I also needed to try to eat something. I decided on toast but that didn't go so well. I couldn't really open my mouth or chew. Plan B- yogurt! I was in tears for a while because it hurt and I couldn't get comfortable. I am so grateful that my dad and step-mom had picked the boys up from school and daycare and had taken them to their house for the night! I was very good about drinking water but then that meant that I was up all the time to use the bathroom. I didn't sleep well at all that night.
The next morning I was feeling pretty good as long as I stayed ahead of it and made sure to eat with my meds. Aidan came home late in the morning and was super sweet. He kept asking me if I was feeling OK and kept checking on me. He spent most of the day playing with Grandma in the basement. Riley and Isaac came home after school and Isaac also had to check on me right away. He was so sweet too! They headed to the basement for much of the night. I slept off and on much of the day and did what I could. That night I stopped taking the strong pain meds because they were making me feel awful and I started taking ibuprofen.
Friday was better! I had an appointment with Dr. Connelly so I took a bath and tried to clean up the best I could. That really helped me feel better- but I still couldn't wash my hair and that was driving me crazy! Tim and I headed to my appointment while "little man" ran errands with Grandma. When Dr. Connelly came into the room he was pleased. He said again that things went great and he said, "I think we have this beat." He took off the dressing around my neck and I felt relieved to have it off! He also took off some of the dressing around my head. He put an ointment on my incision and said things were looking great. Then, he wrapped me all back up- head and neck both. I think I could have cried! The dressing around my neck was making me crazy and I was hoping it would stay off! Next he told us that we could take the dressing on my neck off the next day but that still felt like forever away. He also told us that the Pathology report on the nodes was still not back. The nurse gave us some bandages and sent us on our way with an appointment for Monday for a recheck and hopefully results on the nodes.
Tim and I met up with Mom and Aidan and had lunch at Culver's and then we headed to Target to find some "dry shampoo" and just to walk around a little while we were out. It felt really good! Once Riley and Isaac were home from school, Grandma and the three boys headed back to Iowa for the weekend! It was really crazy just being the two of us in our house for a whole weekend! We ordered pizza and watched a movie. Then we went to the Pearl (a local old fashioned ice cream shop) and got a chocolate malt. We stopped and walked around another store and then also at Wal-greens to find some Tylonol PM to hopefully help me sleep better.
I slept pretty good and didn't get up on Saturday until about 10 AM. Even at that time I was still a little foggy (I guess taking two Tylonol PM is too much for me). We watched a couple more movies and I took another bath and we headed to Wal-mart to get some groceries to make a "good" supper. With the boys gone we could make whatever we wanted without having to worry who wasn't going to like/eat it! We have a great supper of marinated chicken on the grill, green beans, and ranch potatoes. It was nice to have a quiet house to relax and recover! That night I slept pretty good again. I decided to use the body pillow that I used when I was pregnant and I was able to finally get comfortable.
Sunday Tim and I got up and headed to church. This was different without the boys as well! It was nice to touch base with our pastor and let him know how things were going. We had a little time at home and grabbed a snack as we were going to be eating an late lunch/early supper when we met Mom to get the boys back. Since we had to go past the hospital on our way to get the boys we headed out a little early so we could stop in and see the ladies I work with. I should have been working that weekend so it was my "normal" crew. It was great to feel their support and concern and to let them know how things were going. Then it was time to get my boys back!
I was excited to see them again! We met at one of our favorite places- The Great River Roadhouse. They were excited to see us and tell us all about their adventures from the weekend. We enjoyed time catching up and eating pizza and then headed home. It meant so much to us that my mom was able to take them with her for the weekend. I was amazing how much those few days alone helped! Once we were home it was back to reality. I love my boys dearly but I think we were only home 15 minutes when I was ready for them to leave again- they were CRAZY!!! Plus, I think I was tired from being out and about most of the day. Tim was finally able to get them to bed and we were able to relax a bit ourselves.
Monday morning Tim headed off to work. Lucky for me I slept great and felt really good when I got up. Tim gets the boys up and moving before he leaves and then I just have to get their cold lunches (if needed) and get them out the door. I got up to find that they were pretty much ready to go and Riley had even made his own lunch. They headed off to school and I laid back down for another hour (Thankfully Aidan is great about sleeping in) or so until I needed to get ready to go back to the clinic. I took a bath and got cleaned up as much as I could (I also don't think the "dry shampoo" did much other than make my hair smell better). Aidan woke up as I was getting into the tub so I sent him off to watch TV and told him I would be out soon. I got myself ready and got Aidan dressed and ready to go. Tim got home and we headed to my appointment. We waited for a few minutes and then the nurse came and got us. As we walked to the room Dr. Connelly was standing in the hallway and said hi and smiled. Vanessa, his nurse took me into the room where I realized that Tim had not followed. As I sat down Tim came in with Dr. Connelly smiling. GREAT NEWS!!! The nodes came back clear!!! Dr. Connelly explained that both the nodes and the margins of the area on my ear that he had to remove were all completely clear! Then he said some more great news- the dressings were coming off. Before I got too excited I had to ask, "Are they staying off?" He said they were and I about cried!
He took off all of the dressings and then started the painful part of the appointment- getting off the dressing that had been stuck to my ear and getting the packing out of my ear! His nurse, Vanessa, put her hand on my hands and even let me squeeze her hand when it hurt. She was wonderful and I appreciate all that she did to help me through it. Dr. Connelly also removed some of the stitches in my ear and on my neck. He told me to go home, take a shower, and wash my hair! I didn't even have to ask! He said that I would feel so much better after doing that- Boy was he right!
I believe this has gotten long enough. I am sure you don't care about all of the details and I hope I didn't bore you too much.  While I was living most of it I felt like I wasn't even there. It felt like I was numb and just watching it all happen. I think writing it all out has helped me process it some and document it for myself in the future. I think I was just so scared that I was trying to protect myself by being "numb". 
Please come back again:)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

My head is swimming with all kinds of things today as I get ready for surgery tomorrow!
First off- Happy New Year!! Did you do something special to celebrate? I had to work so my wonderful hubby and little man took me to work and then came back at 11 PM to pick me up (the older two boys went to the YMCA New Year's Eve Overnight). When I was done with work we headed out to find a prime parking spot to watch the midnight fireworks. It was so much fun ringing in the new year with them. Aidan was so excited to have that time alone with us and he talked nonstop. As soon as they were over we headed home- Aidan didn't make it far and he was sound asleep! 
Second order of business is The New Years Virtual 5K! The is the last of the Virtual Holiday races hosted by Kiley @ Daily Vitamin F. I knew today was going to be crazy as I have to work again this afternoon and I also knew it was suppose to be negative wind chills and the treadmill wasn't an option so I did my New Years 5K yesterday on the treadmill at the Y. I love doing the Virtual Holiday races because it motivates me to get my booty moving even when it isn't easy.
My 3.1 miles was just part of a solid 5 mile run to end 2012! I had to get in one last run before surgery. It felt great to push myself and sweat out my stresses one last time for the week. I am starting to get a little anxious for the surgery. I had my pre-op call yesterday where they gave me my instructions for the day. I have to arrive at 7:45 for pre-admitting and then they will take me to Nuclear medicine for the injections. After that they will take us to the pre-op area and we will have to wait for about 4 hours. They expect surgery will start around noon.
The last several days we have kept ourselves busy with a project! My husband thought I was crazy when I told him I thought this holiday weekend would be a great time to repaint the living room (ceiling and walls) and pull up the carpet and put down new flooring. I had to work Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (2:30-11PM) and he was going to be home almost all of those days and we didn't have anything else planned- so it seemed like a perfect time. Honestly, I think it was a good distraction for me going into surgery!
Next up is The Weekly Chase. I mentioned this a few weeks ago. Mindy @ Road Runner Girl was my motivation for doing it. My goals for this week are going to be simple.
1) Keep a positive attitude as I head into surgery tomorrow.
2) Drink 64 oz. of water a day.
3) Take time to rest and recover from surgery.
4) Plank-a-day challenge that a friend posted on Facebook for the month of January.- Do what I can this week!