Bad Saturday

FYI, this post contains discussion of pseudo-personal medical information of a female nature. Nothing graphic, but I wanted to inform everyone upfront in case any male visitors want to stop reading. I completely understand if you either don’t care about such matters or would just rather not read about them. Either way, you’ve been warned!

When I was eighteen I started taking birth control pills because I had debilitating menstrual cramps. Once a month I would wake up in unbelievable pain, and sometimes it was so bad that I vomited. I remember lying on the bathroom floor in a fetal position, crying because I felt so terrible. I could barely function until the cramps subsided. This made going to school on such days really miserable. Sometimes painkillers would help, but only if I took them soon enough. If not, there was nothing I could do but wait out the pain. Then when I was eighteen my mom took me to the doctor to find a solution. After trying a few different options, one particular variety of birth control pills finally got my cramps under control. It was wonderful. Some months I still had mild pains, but they were completely manageable compared to what I used to endure. I ended up taking birth control pills for fifteen years. I only stopped in January 2012 when my ex-husband and I decided to try and have a baby. That’s when I was reminded of how horrible menstrual cramps can be. I usually miss a half day of work every month because I can’t do much of anything when I feel so awful. I dread this day every month.

Yesterday morning I was awakened at 4:30 AM by a twinge in my abdomen. I knew exactly what that meant. I sprang out of bed, ran downstairs to grab my Aleve, and took two tablets as quickly as possible. I was hoping to ward off the worst of the symptoms because I was registered for the Seal Beach 10K at 8 AM. Much to my chagrin, it wasn’t very long before I was in major pain. I stayed in bed with my heating pad, unable to go back to sleep, and prayed that I would feel better in time for the race. Unfortunately luck was not on my side. I only began to feel a little better around 7:45 AM, which was far too late to get ready and make it to the starting line in time. What a disappointment. I can’t believe I had to miss the race in my own hometown! At least the shirt is pretty cool this year. That’s something, right? The rest of my day was basically a wash since the Aleve wore off around noon and my cramps came back with a vengeance. I felt terrible pretty much the whole day. What a way to spend a Saturday. So for anyone out there who thinks women are exaggerating when they talk about period pain, please understand that some of us are truly suffering. And it’s even worse when I miss something I was looking forward to, like a race, because of cramps! Better luck next month.


After not running for almost four weeks, I was so nervous on Saturday at the beginning of the Race on the Base 5K. I’d already transferred from the 10K to the 5K due to my knee problems, but I was worried that even just 3.1 miles was going to be too painful. Fortunately I knew this was going to be a good test of what sort of shape my knee was in because it was such a short distance. I could just walk the remainder of the race if it started to hurt. As concerned as I was about my knee, I was equally concerned about the rest of my body being out of shape after nearly a month of little to no exercise. I knew I my breathing would be labored no matter how slowly I ran, and I knew my muscles would be super sore the next day, but I still needed to try. So how did it go? I felt great! Actually, I was completely thrilled! I definitely got tired a lot sooner than I would have if I’d been running regularly, but my knee didn’t hurt. It was incredible! This gives me hope that it’s healing, even though it’s still not 100% back to normal. And on top of that, the PA I saw at the orthopedist’s office today agrees with that assessment. She didn’t even order an MRI because she’s confident that I’ll make a full recovery with a little physical therapy with my local chiropractor. This is fantastic news because I’m really looking forward to running again. Hopefully my work schedule will calm down soon so I’ll be able to!

Something stupid

I’m sitting on my couch in pain for a completely ridiculous reason. Over the weekend the smoke detector in the hallway right outside my bathroom went off while I was in the shower. This has happened a couple of times in the past and I think it’s due to the steam. It’s very annoying. I had to jump out of the shower (dripping water all over the floor), drag a bench from my bedroom into the hallway (after moving a bunch of books and clothes off it), wrestle the smoke detector off the wall, and remove the battery. Geez. After I finished my shower I probably should have put the smoke detector back on the wall, but I left it dismantled and forgot about it. Then on Tuesday as I was enjoying a nice hot shower after my evening run, the smoke detector in my guest bedroom started going off. I was so frustrated! Having to run around soaking wet to shut off an ear piercing alarm will definitely ruin your day. Not only that, it can be hazardous to your health, as I’ve discovered. You see, I had to drag the heavy bench from my room into the guest bedroom, which is up a couple of small stairs. As I lifted the bench to get it up the stairs I thought, “This is going to be bad.” I didn’t know how right I was until this morning. The right side of my back hurt with every movement and with every breath I took. It was miserable. I took some ibuprofen and applied my heating pad for a while, but I only got marginal relief. Unfortunately I couldn’t take the day off because I had too much to do at work, so I eventually lurched around enough to get dressed and ready to leave the house. Let me tell you, computer work is not the best thing for a sore back. I grunted and groaned my way through the day until I could go back home and relax my aching muscles. Needless to say, my evening run will have to wait until tomorrow, at least. I’ll heal in a day or two, but the bigger problem is that I have two disabled smoke alarms that will go off in the vicinity of a hot shower. I need to find a solution for that. But for now I’m going to spend some quality time with my heating pad before I go to bed. Ouch!

My next big challenge

So after I finished my first half marathon a couple of weeks ago my mom asked me what my next challenge was going to be. At the time I had no idea, but I think I’ve got something lined up now. Despite being fairly active since the beginning of the year, I haven’t been able to maintain any sort of weight loss. I actually joined a weight loss challenge in January with mixed results. My goal wasn’t to lose a lot of weight, but dropping 5 lbs would be fantastic. I started out somewhere around 123 lb and at one point in February I was down to about 120 lb. I was ecstatic! But then I had surgery, causing me to be sedentary for a while, and the numbers on the scale rebounded very quickly. How frustrating. Even after I started running regularly again in March, my weight wouldn’t budge. I dropped out of the weight loss challenge after six months because sharing my stats every week was more stressful than motivational. And as I’ve said, I try to avoid sources of unnecessary stress in my life. They just aren’t worth it. So I gave my scale the summer off and vowed to not weigh myself again until after the Labor Day weekend. What incredible freedom! I ate what I thought was necessary in order to keep up with my half marathon training program, including a few days of major indulgence before my longest runs. The only measure of my body’s size was my clothes. On the morning of the Disneyland Half Marathon, the last thing I was worried about was my weight. I was happier to cross the finish line that day than to see a low number on the scale. The day after the race I tentatively got back on the scale after a three-month hiatus. It read 121.9 lb. I was skeptical of this number, however, since I’d just completed a grueling 13.1 mile run and I was sure I had lost a lot of water weight. The good news is that a week later when I got back from DC (where I ate a lot and didn’t exercise) I weighed exactly the same. Maybe it was real weight loss! Or not. A few days later I was 126.3. Two days after that I was 123.9. And then the next day I was 122.1. My body is so weird.

So what could I do to try and jump start some consistent weight loss/maintenance? After doing some research and talking to some friends and co-workers, I decided to try eliminating grains from my diet. It’s not technically low carb (I still need starches for running fuel) and it’s not strictly Paleo (I’m still eating dairy and potatoes), but I think it’s the first step towards keeping my weight on a more even keel. This means I can’t have any bread, cookies, crackers, rice, or pasta. It seems restrictive when it’s put that way, but I’ve been told I won’t miss the grains after a while. We’ll see about that. I definitely have to put more thought into my meals now and it will require me to start cooking more often. I’ve been lazy in that respect this year, but last night I slow cooked some chicken and roasted some carrots and green beans to take to work for my lunches. This will have to become a regular occurrence. Do you realize how difficult it is to find a grain-free meal at any kind of restaurant? I had a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and potatoes at Disneyland last Sunday morning, but your average eatery doesn’t have much that’s not served on a bun. So I started my grain-free journey this week and so far I feel great! Grains aren’t completely absent from my diet yet (I had a box of Frosted Mini Wheats in the cupboard that I didn’t want to go to waste), but I’m getting there. I know this sounds vain, but my ultimate goal is to be able to wear a couple of pairs of jeans I bought back in 2012 that are too tight at the moment. Of course I want my body to be healthy and to fuel it for the long runs I’ve got coming up later this year, but comfortably zipping up those jeans would make me feel even more amazing! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update (re: soda)

I’m on my flight back to LA now, but it took off about an hour and a half late. I was supposed to land at LAX just after 8 PM, but it will be even later now. Luckily the only thing I was planning to do when I got home was go to sleep, but I was hoping that would happen at a reasonable hour. But rather than worrying about it, especially since there’s nothing I can do to make the plan go faster, I’ll write the webpage post that I’ve been meaning to get around to all week. I’ll have to publish it when I get home since this flight doesn’t have WiFi.

It’s been so long since I posted anything that you might have suspected that the Disneyland Half Marathon killed me, but rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated! I know I’ve really been neglecting my webpage over the last week, but of course I’m planning to write about the race soon. But before I get to that I have a few updates I’d like to share. Not only will this get the things out of my head that have been bouncing around in there for a while, but it will also give me some time to write a decent post about the race. But back to the other updates for now. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about giving up soda to try and improve my running. I’m pleased to say that between then and the race last Sunday I only had one can of caffeine free Coke Zero, and even then only in half-can amounts. The first few days were really rough, though. There was no denying my status as an addict. I craved Coca Cola morning, noon, and night. It was awful. But finally after about a week the urge to crack open a soda with every meal finally abated. What freedom! My water intake had increased after removing fizzy drinks from my diet, and I was no longer ingesting large numbers of calories with every sip. It was a very good thing, indeed. I can’t say definitively that banishing soda from my life helped my running, though. The only real data point that I have is the half marathon itself, and while I felt pretty good during the race (most of it, anyway), I don’t know if that was due to flushing my system of liquid sugar and sugar substitutes. However, since I felt orders of magnitude better during the half marathon than I did during my disastrous 14-mile run, then it was definitely not a bad thing. Of course, limiting my soda intake is a good idea for numerous other reasons, but my enjoyment of running is really my utmost priority. (Maybe it should be my overall health, but honestly, preventing horrible experiences like my 14-mile run is my more immediate concern.)

I must admit that I’ve fallen off the wagon in the last week. I’ve had a handful of sodas or so since crossing the half marathon finish line, but surprisingly, I haven’t enjoyed them very much. Although, the bottle of Coke that I drank on Sunday after the race tasted amazing. But besides that, the sugary beverages don’t seem to have the same power over me as they did before. Even after giving in to my favorite cherry vanilla Coke at Firehouse Subs in DC this past week, I still don’t crave a soda with my meals. This is pretty amazing, considering how strongly I used to associate an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s with the taste of Coca Cola. It was like a Pavlovian response after a while. Now I just grab another bottle of water and eat my egg sandwich minus all the extra sugar. My body is definitely thanking me. While I’m not willing to give up soda completely (weekends are for indulging, obviously), I’m hoping I’ll be able to jump start some modest weight loss by minimizing this particular dietary luxury. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Illness update

I intended to post this illness update yesterday, but I was feeling a bit better in the evening so I went to the laundromat rather than laze about on the couch any more. (The dark chocolate brownie recipe was already written and ready to publish so I posted that instead.) My parents are arriving for a visit on Wednesday and I needed to wash bed linens so they’ll have a clean place to sleep. After feeling really horrible when I woke up in the morning, I was actually pretty surprised that I had the energy to leave the house last night. Even though I had only slept a few hours the night before (my sinuses hurt like crazy unless I was propped up on three pillows), I had to go to work yesterday morning and wrap up a test. I felt absolutely awful – sneezing all over the place and going through a whole box of Kleenex with my runny nose – but there was no way I could stay home. The only good news is that I finished up at 11 AM so I went home early and went back to bed. A short nap and some relaxation seemed to work wonders. I still didn’t try to go running last night, though. At this point I’ve only missed one 3-mile training run due to this stupid cold, but I still don’t like it. I don’t feel all that prepared for the half marathon as it is, so missing any planned preparation scares me. But I wasn’t willing to risk hindering my recovery by trying to run last night. I absolutely must be healthy by next Sunday or the race is going to be miserable! I was really hoping to sleep better last night, but sinus pain still woke me up around midnight. I’m definitely feeling better today (I can breathe out of both nostrils, which is a plus), but not that much. I went to Disneyland this morning and walked around for a couple of hours, which was pretty much my first physical activity since my run on Tuesday night. It didn’t help that it was pretty warm in Anaheim, but I was discouraged by my lack of energy. Hopefully that changes soon. I don’t have time to be sick – this week is going to be way too busy!

P.S. Doctor Who season 8 starts tonight!
P.P.S. Gator football starts next Saturday!

Giving up soda (again)

First of all, I have a cold. This is annoying for two reasons – 1) The rest of this week is going to be unbelievably busy for me at work and there is no way I can take any time off, and 2) I can’t afford to get really sick this close to my race. Luckily I only seem to have a sore throat, a headache, and a low grade fever so far – all symptoms that can be greatly improved by some Aleve. At the moment I’m not feeling too badly, but I still left work a couple of hours early so I could get some rest. And while I’m resting I figured I’d share part of my final Disneyland Half Marathon preparations.

Based on the horrible experience of last Saturday’s 14-mile run, I’ve decided to make a few changes before the Disneyland Half Marathon. The first one is giving up soda. I’ve done this, or at least attempted to, many times with various degrees of success, but I keep going back. But unfortunately in the last few months I’ve become a full-blown Coca-Cola addict. This must stop. Not only will it be good for my diet and health in the long run, but hopefully flushing the mega amounts of sugar from my system will help with my running. Sugar definitely tends to upset my stomach when I run so we’ll see if avoiding soda makes me feel better. As much as I love Coke, I will gladly say goodbye if there’s any chance I can improve my running performance. Eliminating one of my favorite treats from my diet is easier said than done, though. I’m only on day 2 of no soda and I’m craving a sugar fix like nobody’s business. I know it will get easier, but right now I keep hoping to find a leftover can in the fridge each time I look for a snack. Is there a support group for soda addiction?

Post-op post

Yesterday was the first day of 2014 that I didn’t update my webpage, but I think I had a good excuse. My surgery was yesterday, and even though it went very smoothly and I didn’t feel too awful afterwards, I was really tired last night. I’m still feeling wiped out tonight, but I wanted to write a little something anyway. My mom, dad, and I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 AM yesterday for my 7 AM surgery. I didn’t get to talk to my doctor after the operation, but she discussed it with my parents when it was over. She removed two ovarian cysts and discovered that I have endometriosis. That surprised me a little because I thought it was ruled out when I was eighteen. My doctor said it was a mild case, but it was there. Lucky me! After the procedure and about an hour in recovery, my parents drove me home to get some rest. The anesthesia made me feel pretty gross, but we got some lunch from a local restaurant before I took a nap in the afternoon. For dinner we went to Ruby’s because my throat was hurting and I wanted a milkshake. I went everywhere yesterday in some old yoga pants, a sweatshirt, and flip-flops. There was no way I would have been able to wear jeans over the three incisions I have in my abdomen now. Ouch. I even hurt myself turning over in the middle of the night. The pain didn’t last too long, but it still kept me awake for an hour before I could go back to sleep. When I got up this morning I realized that my sore throat was the beginning of a head cold and not just a side effect of the surgery. Of course I would get sick when I’m already taking time off from work for medical purposes. When it rains it pours, huh? Besides the cold I was feeling pretty good today. My incisions are tender to the touch, but I’m otherwise not in very much pain. My parents helped me with some errands today after I finally got up and showered (I was glad to wash off the orange Betadine that was still all over my belly). First we went to the Social Security office to start the process of changing my name back. That was a success and I should get my new Social Security card with my maiden name on it in about two weeks. After that I can go to the DMV and start updating credit card accounts, utilities, etc. I’ll be glad when that’s all over, but it was great to at least take the first step today. Our next stop was Ikea to get a little shelf for my bedroom. The three of us also had lunch of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, and ligonberry sauce at the Ikea café. Delicious. Unfortunately I was wiped out after those two errands so we went back to my apartment so I could take a nap. The rest of today was very low key because I had overextended myself earlier. Now it’s time for me to sleep again and hopefully heal some more. I’ll be glad when it doesn’t hurt my stomach to sit down and stand up again!

What’s been going on

As I’ve mentioned, I had surgery on Friday the 14th. It was relatively minor surgery, but I won’t go into details (trust me, it’s not something you guys want to read about). Luckily it was an outpatient procedure so I got back home about three hours after I checked in to the hospital. Unfortunately I was unaware of the true extent of the recovery time then. After about half a dozen calls to the nurse I deduced that I’ve got about two months of recuperation ahead of me before I’m back to normal. Ugh. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was already planning to take a week off from work, but of course I got a cold the Monday before my Friday surgery. I felt terrible about it because it wasn’t that bad of a cold, but I stayed home from work that Tuesday and Wednesday to avoid infecting everyone with my germs. And it couldn’t have happened at a worse time work-wise. Luckily the cold didn’t affect my surgery because I didn’t have a fever or chest congestion. It just meant I had to use more sick time than I planned. The only upside was that I had plenty of time to clean my apartment from top to bottom before my parents arrived from Florida on Thursday! I had to hurry and finish furnishing my guest bedroom before their visit, but it was a small price to pay for all of their help during the first several days of my recovery. I really had no idea what I was in for when I checked into the hospital that Friday morning and I needed my parents much more than I could have imagined. They were here for a week, but they didn’t really get to go anywhere or do anything outside of my little neighborhood. I feel really bad about that, but I am so grateful that they were here and that I got to spend some relatively relaxing time with them. I’ll write more about that later this week.

A week after my surgery I made my bed for the first time. Pretty pathetic, huh? It took about the same amount of time before I could walk more than 2 blocks without getting winded. I tried to go to Downtown Disney for lunch one day after my parents left and I got lightheaded walking from the parking lot to Earl of Sandwich. Sheesh! And the pain wasn’t fun either. My doctor gave me Percocet and Ibuprofen and there were times that I needed both to keep from being completely miserable. But that passed. I’m now eleven days post-surgery and I’ve been back at work for two days. It’s crazy busy there so I don’t have any time to dwell on my discomfort while I’m working. But I think I’m doing pretty well. I’m down to only taking a single Percocet before bed each night. Believe it or not, I think I’ll survive!

When I was twenty

The night before my surgery I read the pamphlet my doctor had given me about all of the preparations I needed to make before I checked in at the hospital. One of the items was to remove all jewelry. I thought that would be no problem because I don’t normally wear that much to begin with, but then I remembered my belly button ring. I got my navel pierced almost fourteen years ago (7/10/99 – Kathe was there holding my hand!) when I was twenty years old, and most of the time I don’t even remember the ring is there. Until the night before my surgery I hadn’t removed it, not even once, in all that time. I didn’t even know how to take the little ring apart. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to! But that night I popped the thing apart, took it out, and threw it away. At this point I don’t know if I’ll replace my navel piercing, but for now I’m leaving it out. Maybe I’m finally growing up? We’ll see!