Thursday, April 26, 2012

Starting to Feel Human Again

4 weeks post op and I'm starting to feel a little more human again. 


Thank goodness. 

I was starting to have some trouble with my pathetic self.

My recovery from this horrible but necessary surgery has been problematic, to say the least.  I had to have another urgent trip to the doctor on Monday as my bladder hasn't been working quite right.  The doctor thinks that it is having some trouble getting accustomed to it's new internal pressure.  It's going to take some time to get used to its new and improved function.  So in the meantime, I'm on another medication and have to go back for some tests in a week and a half.  Hopefully everything will be normal.  And the medication is starting to work, relieving the pain and spasms I was having.  Again, thank goodness. 

It's been difficult not getting depressed. I'm usually so active and always training for something.  Always having a goal or a project to work on.  I set myself some goals to work on during my recovery - mostly writing related - but in all honesty I've been in such a fog the last four weeks that I haven't been able to think straight. 

And not being able to really exercise has been very hard.  Running would always clear my head.  I'd start off grumpy, angry, whatever, and come home 4 or 5 miles later refreshed and renewed.  I'm up to walking two miles a day now which is certainly helping.  But it's nothing like pounding the pavement.

But then yesterday I got some news that has put a real spring in my step!

I'm in for 2012!  As in the New York City Marathon...again!  I got in the lottery last year, and thought I'd enter again this year. 

I figured that my chances were slim to zero for this year.

But somehow, I made it in again!  I am beyond excited!  November 4th is 199 days away, but now I feel like I have a goal again.  If my first few weeks of training are just walking, well so be it, but I'm still training.

The New York City Marathon is such an incredible experience.  Running those streets last year was a day unlike any other. 

And this year, it's going to be even better.  I can feel it. 

I'm getting my body healthier. 
All my bits and pieces have been put back where they belong. 
I'm losing weight. 
I'm eating a lot more spinach.

And at last my mind and body are starting to resurface from the last four weeks of drug induced lethargy and self induced pathetic-ness.

4 more weeks of recovery restrictions and then...

Look out New York, here I come!  Again!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One step at a time. One pink mile at a time.

Today I walked 3/4 of a mile.  A whole 3/4 of a mile!

I took my BFF (Best Furry Friend) Fendi for a walk this morning and enjoyed the fresh air.  It was cool and fresh and oh so beautiful!  It feels great to stretch my legs again and start moving around.

It's hard to believe that exactly a month ago, I ran the NYC Half Marathon. 13.1 miles through Central Park and Times Square, along the West Side Highway to downtown, past the World Trade Center site, ending at the South Street Sea Port.  It was an incredible route and the weather conditions couldn't have been better.  It was a true joy to run that day!  My legs felt powerful and my heart was full of spirit.  I was so proud to be a runner that day participating in a great race.

Racing to the finish line.  I actually had a great sprint at the end - first time I've ever done that!

Post race at South Street Sea Port.

And now, 30 days later, I am proud to walk three quarters of a mile!  My body has been through a lot in the last 3 weeks following my surgery, and I know it will take me a while to get back to where I was in terms of strength and fitness.  But I will get there, and I will be strong.

It really is all about taking the first step.  Two and a half years ago, I couldn't run even a half or a quarter mile.  Now I've got 2 full marathons and 4 half marathons under my feet.  It's all about putting one foot in front of the other.  You start with baby steps, and then you grow.  Gradually you run farther.  And longer.  And stronger.

I could sit here and feel sorry for myself - and at times I have been doing just that - or I could say this is a time to start again, grow strong again, and run far again.

And that's just what I'm going to do.

One pink mile at a time.

Friday, April 13, 2012

I don't need to "grow a pair"

A little over two weeks ago I had a date with my surgeon in the operating room.  As I lay on the table, waiting for the drugs to kick in, staring at the instruments that would soon be invading my body, I thought of Betty White.

I had originally thought that I would not share all the details of what I’ve been through, you know, the whole TMI thing.  But then as I talked to some of my close friends, I started to realize that there may be some women who could really benefit from hearing about what was involved.  And, truth be told, I think there are some men out there too who should listen.  Women’s bodies are strong – stronger than we realize – but sometimes we have to put up with a lot. A hell of a lot.

Childbirth can do a number on our bodies, to which I can certainly attest.  After three big baby boys, ranging from 8lb 6oz to a whopping 10lbs, all delivered completely naturally at home, my insides weren’t quite in the shape – or in the place - they used to be.  They were dragging, literally.

I’ve been dealing with pelvic prolapse, which is something that many women encounter, post childbirth.  Not everyone needs surgery to correct it, but if I’m going to do something, then I want to go all the way. 

Darn perfectionism.

My surgery corrected 2 problems – a cystocele (a prolapsed bladder, which falls into the vagina) and a rectocele (a prolapsed rectum, which also falls into the vagina).  The cystocele was more of a nuisance than anything.  Stress incontinence.  Sneezing, coughing, laughing and sometimes running would typically result in an, um, accident. Ugh.

My doctor used a bladder sling to fix that prolapse.  He cut open the front of my vagina and inserted a mesh tape around my urethra to put it back where it belonged, then stitched me up.  Over time, my own tissue will grow over the mesh to keep it in place and prevent the stress incontinence.  Whoo hoo!

The rectocele was much more of a problem for me.  I had no idea that the rectum could even prolapse!  Sounds gross I know, and believe me, it is.  And a pain in the ass.  Absolutely.  My rectum had prolapsed so badly that it actually came out of my body. 

Hello world!  
From a piece of my anatomy that should never, ever, ever see the light of day.  And that became very problematic.

To fix my rectocele, my surgeon cut open the back of my vagina, pushed my rectum back into place, cut out some tissue and then stitched me back up.

The whole procedure took about an hour. 

I had a wonderful sleep under anesthesia, but boy recovery was rough.  Talk about pain and swelling. 

But I had some wonderful drugs.  Oxycontin.  The first couple of days were a bit of a blur.  But then my body started to react to the anesthesia and the oxycontin.  Essentially, my intestines stopped working.  They stopped moving things along for 5 days. 

5 long, painful, days.  Let me tell you, when that part of your body is full of stitches, constipation is the last thing you want to deal with.  The VERY last thing you want to deal with. Ever.

My doctor put me on all liquid diet and a variety of medications to get things moving.  Thankfully on day 6, things started working again.  Painfully so.  No more oxycontin though. Sigh.

It’s now been two weeks since my surgery.  I’m on a lot of restrictions.  No lifting anything more than a gallon of milk for 2 months.  No strenuous exercise.  No carrying a laundry basket.  No carrying groceries.  No pushing a shopping cart.

I still feel foggy.  And I feel it if I’ve been up and around for too long.  I’m still taking a couple of naps every day.  And sleeping for a long time every night.

Oh, and now I have a bladder infection.  Great.  More pain and medication.

Thank goodness my dad flew 3000 miles to help out.  He’s been doing the laundry, shuttling the kids around to whatever practices and clubs are going on, plus odd jobs around the house.  My friends have been bringing us meals.  My BFF Beth, a nurse, has been expertly looking after me. My husband has been coming home a little earlier to help out and took a few days off right after my surgery.  My dad is leaving on Saturday, so I’ll be on my own next week and back to shuttling the kids around.  We are going to just muddle through.  If the kids have dirty clothes for a few days, well, so be it.  We’ll survive.

I just have to remember to not lift anything, and take it easy.  As a typically busy marathon-running mom of 3 boys, it’s hard to slow down.  But I have to.  If I don’t, I will undo everything the doctor did, and believe me, I don’t want to go through this again.  Ever.

If there is one thing I believe in, it’s a sense of humor.  To go through this, and the testing that I had to have before the surgery, and emerge emotionally sound, I’ve had to call on my sense of humor numerous times. 
I’m going to write about that.

And as a political news junkie, I’ve also had a lot of time to think while laying in bed.  With all the discussion lately in the media about birth control and womens’ rights, you better believe I’ve got some very strong opinions about the rights I have over my body. 

MY body. And I feel I have to write about that, too. 

After all, this is my journey. With my body. 

My pink miles.

And I will never need to grow a pair, because I'm a woman and my bits are strong.