Facebook, Surgery, and Other Fun Things

Taking a few minutes break to write here. Sitting alone in my office, listening to Pandora, as my colleague has a visit with a donor and we haven’t yet hired a new support staff member. I sat in Starbucks for the first hour or so of the workday, but it was very noisy and distracting. Here, it is the opposite. It’s silent minus the sound of my music and the air conditioner pumping cool air into this humid space. Neither environment are inspirational. But, I need to get those meetings set up, so I plug away, trying to focus on my work while my head spins with all that’s going on in my life.

Mom is doing fair. Dad is doing fair. Mom is weak from lack of nutrition and likely dehydration. She’s pushing herself to eat and drink, but it’s like going uphill – both ways – for her right now. And my dad is taking care of her. He’s exhausted. My brother is heading to NJ tonight so he can help accompany them to her important appointments on Thursday and Friday. She’s getting a port in her upper chest where they will input chemo into her body. On Friday she’s getting a cat scan for one of the studies she’s doing with Sloan Kettering. Likely these two days will zap any energy she has, and she will be exhausted. I’m glad Ken will be there. And my sister-in-law will arrive on Friday, to help over the weekend. I’m lined up to head there the following weekend. Mr T will be with his kids so off I go. But, never fear: she’s still active on Facebook!

Last night we went to see Richard III as part of Shakespeare on the Common – my former employer – and my family met Mr T. Briefly, but a meeting did occur.

And, my journey towards my surgery continues. I’m following all of the steps required of me pre-surgery, including meeting with the various members of the medical team at Mt Auburn. Next steps are my colonoscopy and endoscopy, which I will have next week. Other than the prep, they’re relatively painless. I’m hoping for a positive result. Then, the following week, I have a full immersion day, where I learn about the surgery, my hospital stay, and the follow-up. I understand I will be on a liquid diet for 2 weeks, and then slowly, we will introduce foods back into my diet. It’s all very surreal. In 10 months, I will likely lose about 100 pounds. All sorts of things roll around in my head.

Ok, must get back to work!

Gratitude

I’m grateful to my mom for always presenting a positive attitude.

Despite the icky things going on, I had a really nice evening with Mr T tonight. We made dinner, talked, laughed. I am grateful he’s in my life.

I’m also grateful for the supportive people in my life. My friends Rachel & Heather check in on me. My friend Stephanie always sends words of encouragement when I blog. I get sporadic texts from Jen, Joanna, Julie, Rachel S…please know how much it means to me.

Sometimes you have to take a moment & count your blessings.

Balancing Act

My dad called me this morning in a panic about mom. She is weak, he said, she isn’t sleeping. It was a few minutes before I was jumping into the shower so I paused and listened and talked things through with him a bit. We hung up, and then I called my brother, on my way into the office. We strategized a bit, and agreed that my dad needs some support. During a break, I reached out to my mom’s friend who works for American Cancer Society, and asked her for some resources for people who are supporting cancer patients. I wasn’t as worried about mom as I was about him. It is to be expected that mom will be weak and frail after such a big surgery. He is struggling which hat to wear – retired surgeon or current husband. It’s a lot for anyone to bear, let alone an 80 year old man caring for his wife of nearly 50 years. It makes me think that sometimes, life is just not fair.

In the midst of it all, I am moving along with my bariatric surgery. My job is so incredibly supportive – it is unreal  – I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I suppose if I neglected my responsibilities, it might, but you know me – work is very important to me. I have an appointment with HR next week to discuss FMLA, which basically will protect me from losing my job when I have surgery and when I need time to care for my mom. I have been banking my vacation time so I can full recover – and still pay my mortgage – but it will also give me the opportunity for unpaid leave if I need it. At my last job, I was given $300 towards buying my own health insurance. That is it. At my current job, I have very good medical insurance, dental insurance, etc. In fact, I just got back from getting 3 cavities filled. The bill was over $1,000 but I paid $115. I did not have dental insurance at my last two jobs and, unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to pay for all of the maintenance I needed. So, I’m paying for it now, so to speak,  with the endless fillings and whatnot. But, at least I have insurance to cover most of the cost. The rest can be covered by FSA or outright cash. Good job benefits are crucial.

Mr T is coming over for dinner tonight. It’ll be nice to have his company.

July 12, 2018 Update

Mom is doing great. She’s happy to be at home, sleeping in her own bed, and has been feeling little to no pain. Dad is settling back into his routine – a bit changed, of course – and started posting photos again on his FB group. I’m headed there in a few days before I attended a staff retreat, conveniently scheduled in NJ.

I had an appointment yesterday with my doctor regarding my bariatric surgery. She asked me on a scale of 1-10 how ready I am, and I told her “10” with no hesitation. When I think about feeling better, it just makes sense. As my therapist said, “This isn’t a quick fix. It’s surgery.”

I’m busy reading scientific studies on the effects of bariatric surgery on people with pre-existing depression. So far, it looks like the surgery doesn’t tend to worsen depression, but rather, it stays the same or gets better. Most of the people who are saddened after the surgery have struggles about their relationship with food. This is why this process needs can’t be done in a silo – you need to make sure you have a strong support team in place, as well as the right medical team. At Mt Auburn, where I am planning to have my surgery, I am required to work with a surgeon, nutritionist, and therapist along with attend support groups. They also encourage a “lifelong” partnership, which I think is great. Next up, I meet with the therapist and nutritionist to get their feedback and hopefully, their approval to get the surgery.

 

Shopping is my cardio.

Since I have an engaged audience, I’ll keep writing.

It’s 8:27pm and I’m just home after a trip to a beach town in RI with a wonderful Technion supporter. I stopped at Providence Place for a bite to eat, and it was nice to stroll through the mall – one of my happy places. #shoppingismycardio

Mom is rumored to be going home on Saturday. Apparently, today, she told my dad that she was signing herself out of the hospital. Dad said, “fine, but I’m not driving you home.” Poor lady. Dad is heading home tonight with Ken & Marina, and they’ll go back to hospital tomorrow. He’ll stay home. So glad he’s going home. He needs his own bed.

And I’m hearing all this via text & phone. It feels good to be back in my office and seeing Mr T again. He’s got his kids this weekend so I’m on my own. Laundry, sleep, catch up on Hulu.

Keep keeping on.

Independence Day

It’s July 4 & I’m on my couch after a spending weekend the day with Mr. T. I knew at some point I’d breakdown so, today, I delivered my own fireworks in the form of tears. Basically, I lost my shit. While T was cooking dinner, I started crying. And crying. I was finally in a place where I could emote. I was mad at myself for leaning on T because I don’t want to scare him away. It was all an emotional mess. T assured me he’s sticking around. It’s hard to believe someone is willing to deal with all this stuff, but he is. Thank you, T.

Mom sounded ok on the phone today. She’s still in the hospital because they’re monitoring her for infection. I know she’s anxious to get home.

Ciao!

Home.

I’m back home and returned to work today. It was good to be back in the office for some normalcy. Had lots to catch up on and will be continuing to do so tomorrow. We have a 1/2 day so I’m getting a mani & pedi tomorrow! My back muscles are so tense so I’m getting a massage afterwards. Then, I head to Mr T’s for fireworks with friends.

I spoke with mom earlier and she sounded good. She’s starting to eat more and she asked me about my day, which I thought was a good sign that she could focus on other things. Her “going home” date is still TBD because they want to monitor her recovery a bit more. I heard from Ken that it’s starting to wear down my dad. This really hurts my heart because he’s such a good man.

My colleagues have been wonderfully supportive & I even confided in a wonderful donor (who is a breast cancer survivor) about what’s going on. She said she wasn’t surprised when I told her I had wonderfully-strong parents because “look at the daughter they have!” Those small comments really empower me.

It feels good to be back lounging on my couch after work. I’ve also begun the process of preparing for my bariatric surgery, which I’m pretty sure is going to happen. My consultation is scheduled, I’ve inquired how much sick time I have left, and I’m ready to get on with a healthier version of myself.

Ciao for now!

Day 8: Heading Home

It’s 1:40pm and I’m on the train heading home, listening to the sounds of a baby crying, a woman humming, and a millennial on the phone discussing whether her friend is “hetero” or “heteronormative.” Speaking of said millennial, she plopped down – alone – in a section marked “for party of 3 or more” and thus separated a family of 4. The mom is next to me. I hate this millennial. Fortunately, a nice guy was sitting behind her and lifted my 50 pound suitcase onto the storage rack. My faith in humanity is quickly restored. Phew.

Mom was doing well this morning when I saw her. She has been having trouble eating, so they did a cat scan yesterday and saw that her esophagus is very sore. Like mother, like daughter! She’s on a med to help it heal, and she’s going to off the epidural today. She’ll be taking another pain medication so that will be a good transition. It was very good to leave her on a high note. It would have been harder to leave if she wasn’t having a good day. Fortunately, my brother and sister-in-law are on their way to NYC to help out Dad and be there for mom.

I started crying last night about leaving and my dad said I had done enough. Fortunately, I have a work trip to NJ in about 2 weeks so I’ll be back to visit soon. Mom said it was good for me to get home and have some normalcy again. Not sure that I’m going to particularly enjoy this “new normal” but I don’t really have much of a choice.

I will miss the wonderful people from Sloan Kettering. Sandy would come to clean mom’s room every day. She’s an amazing woman who loves my dad, so I feel good leaving him in her hands! Her nurses were all wonderful. I met an NP who handles pain. Just pain. There are techs who only put in IVs. And of course, there’s Dr. Smith – my dad dubbed him “Smitty” – who was very gentle but answered all of our questions. If you stumble upon this blog, I thank you so much, Floor 10!

So now what. Ken heads to NYC and takes over. I go home and pass out for 1.5 days. Mr T is picking me up in a few hours and I warned him I may just break down and cry since I’ve been holding it together relatively well for the past 8 days.

Dad asked me today, “What was the worst day for you?” I thought for a minute and said, “I’ve actually been focusing on the good stuff.” The good stuff includes:

  • The post-op could have been worse with complications. Mom’s doing amazingly well and is determined to go home.
  • The walk to-and-from the hospital was cathartic. On York, I would wander under the shady trees of Roosevelt University until I saw the awning of Sloan. I’d walk back on 1st Avenue to stop for dinner or snacks or whatever we needed that say at Duane Reed.
  • The outpouring of support was (and still is) wonderful. This morning, I left mom while she was visiting with Sister Maggie and another friend from ACS who does cancer advocacy. Maggie is a delight and we even managed a cordial talk about politics a bit (we tend to be on opposing teams).
  • Mr. T, of course. He kept me smiling all week.

This will be my last daily update. I’m going to be more focused on my own health now, proceeding with exploring bariatric surgery & figuring out what’s wrong with my esophagus. Apparently, I helped bring in a $50k donation this week for work so I am feeling pretty happy about that!

Keep reading, keep supporting mom, and keep being you!

Day 7: Totally Tubular

It’s 2pm and this will be one of my last daily posts, as I head home tomorrow at 1pm. For updates, please text mom, dad, or Ken. I’ll do my best to update the blog but it will be less detailed since I won’t be sitting beside her while writing it.

Mom is officially chest tube free! This is great progress. They have also removed the narcotics from her IV, so she will be on regular pain killers now, which is also great progress so she will likely be less groggy and not have to deal with the side effects of narcotics.

Yesterday was nice for me to get into the office and see a show, but today I’m focused on spending time with mom before I head home.

I made a mani/pedi appointment for Tuesday afternoon, which will be so nice! I’ve been keeping up with work emails and projects, which has been a huge weight off of my shoulders.

Ken and Marina will be here tomorrow, so they’ll be giving updates to me.

More later!

Day 5: Evening Update

Dad and I left the hospital earlier than usual but just as we were leaving, the nurse was coming to help mom walk so Dad stayed, and I left to pick up dinner. We had bagels with lox and cream cheese – our favorite!

Mom was very tired today, in and out of sleep. Her memory is a little foggy so we’ll be talking about something, and the she’ll fall asleep, and then reference something from months ago. I’m sure it’s all the meds they’re pumping into her healing body. As we all know, she’s a sharp-minded lady.

Mom’s friend brought her this delicious-smelling lotion from Kiel’s, so I put some on her swollen feet. My dad is now referring to me as “Pope Lite.” If you know my dad’s twisted sense of humor, you’ll get the reference. I just shook my head at him and said, “oh Dad.”

Tomorrow a few of mom’s close friends are visiting and then I’ll be heading to work for a few hours. In the evening I’m seeing “Come from Away,” which I’ve been dying to see! I can’t promise I’ll stay awake during it but…it’s a chance of scenery.

I still stand by the praise of Sloan Kettering. As someone who picked up CDiff at the (now closed) Quincy hospital, I appreciate a place that constantly scrubs the rooms, floors, and patients!

The doctor who performed her surgery – Dr Jewel – will be doing rounds tomorrow so hopefully we’ll get a chance to see her.

That’s about it for now. Keep up with the prayers and good wishes. We need ’em!

Day 5: Quiet

10am:

Mom is very groggy this morning and feeling less comfortable, but I suppose that is to be expected. I am sitting in the “library” with my laptop, working and getting stuff done.

My poor dad lost one of his hearing aids yesterday – and the battery is nearly dead in the other one – so he has instructed me to speak slowly and look at him while speaking so he can hear me. I referred to us to one of mom’s friends on the phone as a “motley crew.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their support last night via Facebook and subsequently, via messenger and text. Everyone has been very gracias and lovely.

We have our routine down now. I’m checking my steps on my phone and am walking a lot more than usual, which is probably good for my own health. Tonight I am taking a breather, and having dinner & pedis with my friend who lives in the city. She has a puppy so I will enjoy some doggie therapy!

Dad is still catching up with friends and family via phone. He is funny because he shouts on the phone now because of his hearing aids. I told him this, and he told me he shouts for THEIR benefit. Uh huh.

It’s 2pm now. Mom is very sleepy still. She isn’t up for phone calls right now, so if you call her phone, you’ll likely get me. We’re keeping visits to a minimum right now too, FYI.

I have had a surprisingly productive workday today – even scheduled two donor visits next week! And we have a 1pm dismissal on Tuesday, and off for the 4th on Wednesday, so I have no doubt I will be sleeping for about 14 hours then! My hotel bed is super comfy, but there is no place like home!

I told Mr. T that a lot of people know about him now…and “are you ok with this?” I asked. He’s ok with it. Told you he’s a keeper!

Dad took a stroll to get some lunch, so I’m working from mom’s hospital room. Thank goodness I can work remotely! Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? I’m heading over to our national office tomorrow so it’ll be good to connect with my colleagues that I usually talk to via Zoom or email.

Ciao for now!

Day 4: Spreading the Word

We’re slowly updating family and friends about mom, layer by layer. I shared this blog on Facebook because it’s a good way to keep everyone informed & up-to-date.

My cousin Pam visited tonight and it was so good to have her with us. She’s just an easy person to be around. She will likely return tomorrow.

Mom talked to several friends on the phone today, which was amazing. They got the scoop directly from the patient herself.

We left around 8pm, and stopped for Japanese food for dinner. Can’t say we’re not eating well this week. Dad and I discussed whether we should feel remorse for eating delicious meals, but we agreed that “we gotta eat.”

Fortunately, the 4-block walk between the hospital & our hotel has some good eats….and 3 pharmacies. I did not visit Duane Reed today for the first time all week!

It’s been a crazy few weeks. One visit to the doctor can alter one’s whole trajectory. The number of people who have been effected by cancer is staggering. It’s all of us. And now, my folks are asking me to look at myself & health differently so I won’t get cancer. It’s all a bit overwhelming.

Somehow life as we know it is forever changed.

Everyone keeps asking about Mr. T! We haven’t been dating long and I don’t want to scare the man away, so I’ll just say that his texts this week have kept me going! Thanks, Mr. T! ❤️

Day 2: Recovery Road

Mom is doing remarkably well. She didn’t sleep well last night because the attending doctor gave her Benadryl – which doesn’t agree with her – and she was very ornery this morning. She dozed off and on most of the day, so we told people who wanted to visit to give her some space today.

My brother and sister-in-law left to return to Boston, and they’ll return when I go home on Saturday afternoon.

Dad and I took a stroll in the late afternoon, got a nice lunch, and then sat in a park for a bit to get some fresh air.

When we got back, dad and mom both snoozed – mom, in her hospital bed, and dad, on the chair beside her. I observed and played games on my ipad.

Mom had some solid food – chicken and part of a smoothie (her fave). Guess who cut it up and fed her? My dad was touched that I did that. Just felt like the right thing to do.

Around 7pm we left and walked back to our hotel. We stopped in the bar and had a few drinks with some interesting guys. One is a principal of a school in Gary, Indiana, where he said the average student does not currently go to college, but he’s working on it. Amazing man.

Dad and I are sharing a room – I talked the hotel into upgrading us to a suite so we each have our own domain. He was amazed how little time I spent primping in the bathroom before bed. I told him I’ve become lower maintenance as I’ve gotten older!

So, we each popped our sleeping pills in the hopes we have enough energy to do it all over again tomorrow.

My brother picked up a ticket for a musical for Thursday night, so that gives me something to look forward to. And, Mr T will pick me up from the train on Saturday. It’ll be good to hug him again!

Goodnight and probably see you here tomorrow!

Post-Op

My mom is seriously a superhuman rock star. After 7 hours of surgery yesterday, she is alert, awake, and her old self (mentally).

I spent about 6 hours with her today at the hospital. She’s got color in her cheeks and we talked most of the day. I continued to play assistant to her as friends & family continued to flood in the calls & texts. I spoke with her Cantor, her friend the Nun, her best friend from her 20s, her former Rabbi, and more. Mr T checked in, of course.

Around 2pm I hit a wall and left shortly thereafter, strolling down 1st Ave towards our hotel. I picked up a NYC bagel & lox sandwich, and headed back to my room, which is a king suite tonight. We’ve had to switch rooms 3 times because we’ve been extending our stay, so tonight, dad & I live like “kings” in our suites. Tomorrow we economize and begin sharing a double room. I hope he can handle my plethora of cosmetics.

My brother and his posse went to see a musical matinee. They’ve had the tickets for months. I asked them to get me one for one night this week so I can have a few hours of the “NYC” experience one night. I may even hit up the Times Sq Sephora and M&M stores just because. They leave tomorrow so it’ll be me & Dad against the world for the remainder of the week.

Waiting.

Today was probably the best and worst day of my life.

Mom and Dad arrived at Sloan Kettering around 5am for surgery prep. She went in around 7:30, and by 8:30, she was under anesthesia & her surgery began.

Having arrived at 1am from Boston, I managed to get up and arrive by 9am to meet my dad who was in need of company.

We got breakfast and then, slowly, everyone else arrived: my sister-in-law’s parents, my brother & sister-in-law, my nephew, and finally, my 1st cousin (mom had a brother who passed away in the early 2000’s – this is his eldest son). We took over a whole alcove in the waiting room.

My phone blew up all day. I must’ve heard from 20+ people via all forms of communication, including text, phone, email, Facebook, and more. It was mom’s network checking in – a rabbi, a nun, her bridge friend, my aunt, friends that might as well be family at this point…you name it. And my own support system checked in. I texted all day. It’s 10:30pm and they’re still coming in! Let’s face it, my mom is loved.

When I wasn’t playing assistant to my mother, we all talked about everything from coding to politics to cancer to my budding relationship with Mr T.

About every 1.5 hours, a nurse would come down and update us.

If I can remember, over the course of the surgery, which lasted roughly from 8:30am-6pm, the doctor removed aggressive ovarian cancer cells from: diaphragm, stomach, lymph nodes, appendix (removed), gall bladder (removed), reproductive system (removed), bladder…I hope I got it all. Crazy, huh? Apparently the cancer didn’t want to leave her bladder. That was one of the trickiest parts.

Listen, my mom had barely any symptoms! She had a little pressure on her bladder so she got checked out by her urologist. And it turns out the poor lady was full of cancer!

Here’s why the day ended so brightly. The doctor performed beautifully and removed the visible cancer. Imagine if mom hadn’t gone to the urologist? Who knows how long it would have taken for symptoms to show since these weren’t her “key” organs?

We had a few minutes with her post-surgery. She looked great! She was loopy but “with it.”

Dad and I will be staying here near the hospital for the week. I’ll head back next Saturday.

You never know how your life can change in an instant. Buy the shoes!

The Secrets We Carry

secretWow, Kate Spade. Kate took her own life yesterday by hanging herself with a scarf on her doorknob. You have to think that her mind and psyche must have been pretty traumatized to take her own life in such a manner. You wonder – what if she had asked for help? What if she reached out? What would have happened? While she did leave a note, she didn’t leave behind what she was thinking the moment she felt like there was no way out but death.

The truth is that we don’t know what others are thinking. We may glance at Facebook periodically and see our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances post what I refer to as a “slice of life” – a photograph of one moment in time – when life is actually made up of 60 moments per minute. You may see a smiling family on FB. But what happens when the cameras are off? Is that family still smiling? Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m carrying two secrets right now. You won’t see me talk about them on Facebook. But I’ll talk about them here as this is my place to say, frankly, whatever I want to say.

First I am dating someone who is very special to me. You guys know that I have dated a lot. Heck, I wrote a blog about them for years. But this person – who has asked that I refer to him as Mr. T on my blog (you happy now?) – who I have only known for a few short weeks – is clearly a keeper. He’s smart, kind, funny, and the best part? He likes me!

The second secret isn’t so happy. My mom was diagnosed with an ovarian tumor last week. While it hasn’t been confirmed cancerous, she is nearly positive that will be the result based upon her many years in the healthcare profession (namely, hospice and cancer support). Ironically, her job was to support people going through what she is going through. So, in true mom fashion, she’s going through the steps to ensure she gets the best care. What I like is that her head isn’t in the sand. She’s actively taking all the right steps to get the best care possible.

I go through many emotions. Sometimes I just start crying thinking about it, and then other times, I just try not to overreact until we know more. I told my mom that I emailed my therapist about what is going on – because I said, “You’re the person I usually talk to about this stuff, and this time, it’s about you!” Mom said I can always talk to her. But the reality is: she’s going to have a lot of stuff going on and probably doesn’t need to hear about my stuff right now. So, it’s good to have an outlet. Plus, I now have Mr. T. Man, that nickname makes me laugh!

I’m not writing this blog post so that you’ll reach out and tell me you’re sorry about mom. I’m going to be honest – those “sorries” feel incredibly empty right now. I’ve gotten a few “I’m sorry.” or “Let me know what I can do to help.” What do I want to say in response? “Great, can you go back in time and remove the tumor so mom doesn’t have to go through this?” The answer is no, so at this point, there is nothing anyone can do except the doctors at Sloan Kettering. I’m not asking you to ignore the sadness we all feel but empty sorries don’t help either. They feel like lip service. Actions speak louder than words. My mom may need chemo. Her hairdresser said that she’d go wig shopping with her. Now that’s an action! I like her so much already and don’t even know her. (Mr. T, a note to you: this isn’t about you. You’re the best!)

Both my mom and I are action-oriented people. Do stuff. Help out. No empty sorries.

I didn’t know what direction this blog post would go, but it helps for me to write stuff out. You have to understand that we’re all in shock and our lives are forever shaken. So if I write something unsettling, all you have to do is stop reading.

I’ll use this as a place to update on things – Mr T, mom, and the like.

Thank you for reading, contemplating, and perhaps taking an action. But if you don’t, it’s ok. Just knowing you’re reading is enough for me at this point!

I found a place that works for me.

I am on the train on my way back home after a week or so in NYC for my job. I’ve been in my current job for 6 months and I still love it. It fulfills all of the things I had been looking for – professional development, strong management, room for growth, fair compensation and great benefits – the list could go on.

I do not take this for granted. I am grateful, although I know I worked hard to get here. I am happy to have found a place that works well for me. Hooray!

Freedom

I had a realization yesterday while walking from my office parking lot into the building. I was wearing a dress and tights but no spanx-like product underneath my dress. For those of you who don’t know what a spanx-like product is, it is basically the modern version of a girdle. You know what I mean: those spandex bike shorts in nude or black that we’re encouraged to wear under pants, skirts, and dresses to smooth out our lumps, bumps, bits, and pieces. I can’t remember when I started wearing them, but I definitely know, as I’ve grown up in a variety of shapes, I’ve owned them in size M, L, XL, and 2XL.

I last wore my undergarment a few weeks ago. I had on a dress with control top tights and a pair of bike shorts over my tights. Needless to say, I was sucked in. When I got home at the end of the day, I took off my layers and my stomach was killing me. I never thought about what I was doing to my body – squishing my outer layers into a tiny garment while likely squishing some internal organs as well. Ouch!

I was so relieved when I freed my body.

So, when yesterday came about, I must have been subtly channeling that pain I recently felt and I didn’t even attempt to put on my bike shorts – just a pair of cozy black tights to keep my legs warm on a wintry day.

And you know what happened? Nothing. The sky didn’t fall. The oceans didn’t overflow. The volcanoes stayed silent. It was not a big deal to skip the bike shorts. Actually, the results were likely positive: no pain and I never once thought that my stomach is protruding more than I’d like. The reality is that I am a women with curves, and a pair of bike shorts aren’t going to mask that.

I know I will return to them in the summer as they make wearing a summer dress more comfortable, but I will not be looking at them as a way to suck in my body anymore.

Freedom.

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 9.09.09 AM.png

#2018

woman-girl-freedom-happy-39853.jpegI haven’t written in ages. Here’s the life update in hashtags:

  1. I have a new job that I really, really like! #enoughsaid
  2. I turned 43 years old a few weeks ago. #yikes
  3. It’s now 2018. My resolution: drink more H20. #snazzynewwaterbottle
  4. I am still sans boyfriend, but I don’t really care very much because my life is pretty fulfilling. #singlesassy
  5. I have a fantastic vacation on the books for December 2018 which includes a trip to Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands. #singlescruise
  6. I finally was diagnosed with sleep apnea and I am working on getting used to a CPAP. When I use it, I feel way more rested so I am incredibly motivated to make that happen. #sleepisgood
  7. I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. In the words of Alec Baldwin impersonating Donald Trump on SNL: #huuuuuggggge
  8. I’ve taken significant social media breaks. #cathartic
  9. I am not currently living paycheck-to-paycheck. I am saving money. #incrediblemilestone
  10. I really need to visit Rome again. #romeishome

NO FOMO

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 12.25.25 PM

I went “social media free” for the past 5 days in order to improve my social life. Yep. Despite the term “social media,” I find that an overabundant use of social media can feel very isolating. You have “Facebook envy” – otherwise known as FOMO.

So, how did my experiment go? Amazing.

On Thursday, I had lunch with two of my besties. I didn’t need to take out my phone because there was no social media checking. I was off from work so I didn’t need to check email. My friend took a photo and asked if it was ok if she posted it, despite my social media break. I told her it was fine, but I wouldn’t see it or comment on it. She apparently posted it because a few days later, my mom said that she saw I had lunch with my two friends. She was not on a Facebook break, apparently.

After lunch, I went to Ikea to purchase a coffee table. No checking-in, no photos of the abundant candy. I drove home and relaxed, oblivious to anything superfluous from my 4,200 or so friends, followers, or contacts on social media.

On Friday, I slept and relaxed.

On Saturday, I went to the eye doctor and didn’t worry when she said she had to dilate my eyes. “No worries,” I thought. I don’t have any tweets, posts, or pokes to read anyhow.

I woke up early on Sunday – well, early for me – and headed to apple picking with my friend and her 5-year old son. We took silly pictures on her camera. I didn’t focus on photos too much, but rather, just enjoyed the moment. We went to Wegman’s and had lunch. I went home afterwards and watched some Hulu. I was pooped from a productive morning of apple picking, socializing, and not sweating the small stuff.

I hadn’t thought about what I was missing out on all weekend because all I knew was what I was involved in in my own world. It was lovely and had just enough in it to make me feel like I was productive, but also enough “veg” time too.

I spoke with my mom and she said the only thing I missed on social media was that my cousin got engaged. I told her I’d congratulate him on Monday, when I’d check my Facebook again.

I checked it today, wished my cousin a big “mazel” and decided not to review my 61 missed notifications.

It was a fun experiment which I plan to do again very soon.

The Gifts of Imperfection

A few hours ago, about 15 miles away, author and psychologist Brene Brown took the stage at a conference and spoke, likely, about her newest book and research. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience her lecture in person, but there are plenty of her past interviews and talks to listen to online.

brownI can’t remember, but I feel like I’ve probably written about brown in the past. I first learned about her if you jobs ago when we read the book “Daring Greatly,” which focuses on vulnerability. It particularly resonated with me because she discusses that when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable, we can help eliminate the shame we feel about our imperfections.

I recently purchased Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection” to help me continue on the path to “knock down” and remove the power of my so-called perfectionism. You see, perfectionists like myself aim to be good at everything – or, at least on the surface – so that we don’t have to deal with the shame or hurt feelings as a result of making a mistake or being imperfect.

My past history with an eating disorder clearly matches up with a perfectionist personality. When I didn’t want to feel, I would attempt to numb my pain with food. Well, guess what, that didn’t work!

Through years of hard work, I’ve been able to tackle my perfectionism and exist with my feelings – good or bad. But, let me tell you, it is hard!

I listened to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast where she interviewed Brown. Listen. Trust me, it’ll be 30 minutes well spent. And there is a part two!

Brown mentioned something that has been resonating with me all day. She said that we don’t pair “joy” with “gratitude” enough. We need to take the time to relish the good things that happen every day, whether it is the wind on our face as we open our sunroof and windows on a beautiful day….or the company of a good friend over an unexpected lunch date….or a morning with little traffic on the way to work.

I can tell that I’m conquering my perfectionism. I made a silly mistake today at work – no big deal and typical for someone still learning their job after only being there for 3-weeks. I am not obsessing over it the way I would have in the past. I acknowledged it with an “oy vey!” and moved on (besides writing about it here!). In the past it would have kept me from sleeping at night – this silly little thing that means nothing in the scheme of life. But tonight, I will not let it fester. I will work hard to let it go!

I will continue to look for things in Brown’s writing and research that resonate. I look forward to discovering more of her wisdom and using it to grow as a person.

Now, go out and dare greatly!

The Importance of Good Sleep

cea1e377395511529d66103cf19c6183Every have one of those good night’s sleep where you wake up so refreshed and energized? I know. Seems to good to be true, right? I remember having one of those nights and just feeling so incredibly content the next day.

Sadly, for me, it has been a very long time.

I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in several years now. I don’t always remember waking up at night, but I can guarantee you that, every morning, no matter what time I went to sleep the night before, I wake up exhausted. For years I suppressed this and chalked it up to stress, but more recently, I’ve realized it is like due to sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, according to WebMD, ” is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep….sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain– and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.”

Woah! You wake up 100 or more times during the night? Well, no wonder I feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning! And you stop breathing? Double woah. That’s scary. I remember when I went on a cruise and was matched with a roommate as part of a “singles” trip, she commented, “It’s so cute. You stop breathing during the night!” I responded, “That’s not cute – that’s sleep apnea!”

Imagine the crap I’ve been doing to my brain all of this time. And, other side effects include: high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression, and headaches. That’s some scary, serious stuff.

I’ve done an “at home” sleep study and the results came up inconclusive. What is the reason I’ve held off doing the “in hospital” study? One reason: money. It is going to cost me between $2,000-$3,000 after insurance kicks in. For those of us who have been on a fixed budget, that’s daunting. But, I’ve spoken with the sleep center and I can go on a payment plan.

I realize now that this is something I must do. I can’t go on walking around like a zombie all of the time. I seriously never feel rested. For years. It’s terrible.

I can’t wait to write about this in the near future and comment on how I don’t know what I did before I got a CPAP, which is the machine that delivers oxygen to you while you sleep.

Sweet dreams, dear readers!

 

 

 

Self Worth

df12f790163687ca82751dc370d9baafSelf worth. What does that mean? It’s not self esteem, but rather, it is more about feeling worthy.

I’ll admit it. There are days that I can feel little worth. I come home from work, defeated, because I waited all day for a “thank you” or a”good job” or a smile.

And I got nothing.

According to an article on PsychAlive,  studies now show that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health.

Jennifer Crocker, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research,  did a study of 600 college students during their Freshman year. Their self esteem was pretty high, in general. Go frosh!

When students were asked about what they base their self-worth on, more than 80 percent said academic competence, 77 percent said their family’s support, 66 percent said doing better than others, and 65 percent–70 percent of which were women–said their appearance.

Yikes. Lots of external factors. The people who focused more on external praise had….more stress, anger…..alcohol and drug use, as well as more symptoms of eating disorders. Ding. Ding. Ding. Yep. Yep. That’s me.

21b04491a57abbd3937c074608303830But I’m not a college freshman. I’m a 42-year-old woman who is still working on conquering perfectionism and finding her self worthiness from external sources.

So how what to do? Dr. Lisa Firestone called it our “inner critic.” How does one quash the inner critic and just embrace ourselves as we are?

One of the things that I’ve been doing is to focus on self care and less on my people pleasing. It’s hard, especially for those people who are use to me puckering up to them all of these years. But I have to be honest. My true friends…the people that really care about me….are encouraging me to do this. They aren’t challenging me looking out for myself. They’re actually supporting it.

Baby steps.

Tony Robbins is tall and a genius.

3946634-anthony-robbins-quote.jpgI’ve never paid much attention to Tony Robbins. Before last night, I knew his name, that he is a famous motivational speaker, and that he has a raspy voice. That pretty much covers it.

I had a bad case of insomnia last night. This happens from time to time, but most often when I have a big work event coming up. This time it is our annual gala.

So, often I will listen to podcasts to help lull me to sleep. One of my favorite reporters/newscasters is Katie Couric. She’s spunky. She has a new podcast where she interviews politicians, celebs, people of notable interest, etc. I had the Tony Robbins interview in my queue for a bit because I wasn’t that interested in hearing it, but last night, I figured I would give it a whirl.

Tony Robbins is a brilliant and fascinating man! He grew up in an abusive household and despite the odds, ended up on top! He gets paid about $1 million a day, and he tries not to have more than 3-4 clients at a time. They are usually top CEOS and, you know, the President of the United States, though Trump is not a current client.

hqdefault.jpgBut what intrigued me was the quick-thinking advice that came out of Tony’s (like how we’re on a first name basis?) mouth? Just brilliant. I can’t afford his advice, but I can watch his TV specials or something on YouTube…and I can afford a book!

P.S. Uh oh. He sells a green drink on his website. Let’s pretend we didn’t see that, huh?

 

 

 

 

Bad Medicine

There’s a simple reason why my last several blog post were a bunch of Debbie Downers. I was taking a very potent medication that, apparently, my body didn’t like. Over time, unbeknownst to us that the pills were doing more harm than good, my doctor slowly increased the dose, egged on by me because it was helping me lose weight. Little did we know that once we hit 50 milligrams, my body was going to completely rebel! As a result I was having abnormal anxiety that often turned into full blown panic attacks out of the blue. 
Like, for example, I would be sitting in my office & suddenly my hands would begin to shake uncontrollably. And my mind would split into a million directions. And I would frantically feel my heart begin to race. And pound. And I’d feel hot and anxious.

I couldn’t imagine life going on like that.

I rushed to my doctor’s office and we agreed: no more bad medicine!

Looking back, I am so relieved that we figured out what was causing my terrible feelings and anxiety. I feel so much like myself again–calmer, more “even”–if there is a calm version of me to be had!

Life is good.