Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Card

My husband is lying beside me in bed, just winding down after a low key but very nice Father's Day - after brunch and loot, he had an epic bike ride while I cut down (very small) shrubs and moved around some dirt to make a small courtyard kitchen garden of herbs and heirloom tomatoes for him. We met for coffee at the end of his ride and I drove him home to watch golf. And then the four of us had a really amazing dinner of carnitas - it's become my specialty (you'd have to be a complete fool to ruin a pork shoulder!).

And in a few hours he'll be celebrating his birthday - the big 45 - the beginning of the year in which he plans to get into the best shape of his life. After a real eating and exercise push over the last few months ("preseason training" he called it: swore off booze, dabbled in the gluten-free and vegetarian lifestyle and started RUNNING), he now tips the scale at 100 pounds less than he did eight years ago. Since that time back in Winnipeg when we were both at rock bottom physically and emotionally, it's been a very slow up-and-down journey to both physical and mental health, but we are both well on our way.(note: image shown here is of a sugar, fat and gluten-free organic birthday cake lit with low-carbon soy candles)

Eight years ago my husband was a stressed out, obese, pasty-faced single-malt-drinking white-collar type who wore very nice suits and dealt with stress by hitting the drive-through on his way home for dinner (or on his way home FROM dinner on the many nights he had a business event.)  And on really bad days, by hiding under a duvet. We didn't see much of him, and there wasn't much left of him by the time he did make it home - life was a little on the toxic side back then, for all of us.

But decisions were made, big ones - game-changers. Eight years, five moves, thousands of kilometers, plenty of debt, one PhD and a hundred pounds later, it's all different.

I don't even think I'd recognize that other guy today - the very handsome, sexy man I live with now and love with all my heart has what can only be accurately described as bright eyes and a shiny coat. He dresses like a well-groomed surfer/recreation professor because that's who he is now - last time he wore a suit was my office Christmas party six months ago. He's not fat, not at all! He deals with stress on his bicycle, or on the footpath (only occasionally climbing right into a bottle of decent red wine - okay his mother was visiting and I was on the warpath, and there is only so much that exercise endorphins can do in a situation like that).

And he is very much present in all of our lives.

He eats local "this" and organic "that" - going out to the farmer's markets on Saturdays and bringing home food he bought from the people who grew or made it. He doesn't "do" McDonald's - ever- anymore. Last week he got cranky because he didn't get out to buy his weekly bag of sprouted seeds from these hippie guys at the Moss Street Market. What?

And he is setting a fine example for me, for our boys and for his students. He is living proof that people CAN change who they are. It has taken an incredible effort over the years, months, days. A lot of saying "no" to some things and "yes" to others. "Yes" to himself, to me and to our family. "No" to other people's expectations of who he's supposed to be. And the most resounding "no" to the voice inside him, the voice of generations of his fatalistic Scottish ancestors saying over and over that we cannot help who we are, and that we are powerless to change. No to that, just no.

This blog post is my birthday card for him.  I could have bought or made a card,  but I am so proud that I want EVERYONE to know just what he's achieved.  And he's only just begun.

Happy Birthday Bear! Whatever you need from me to achieve your "45th Year" goals, I'm with you all the way.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Bloody Thursday

I went over to the local hospital today (nestled in the midst of a tall evergreen forest - so Vancouver Island) for what was supposed to be a fairly routine CT Scan - FYI a CT angiogram actually (just to make sure I wasn't going to be felled anytime soon by a great big brain aneurysm like my old dad).

So they have to start an IV so they can shoot in some sort of contrast, really quickly, at high pressure, while they are taking the special pictures - a whole lot of little slices that get reassembled into a 3d rendering of the blood vessels in my brain.

First they couldn’t get an IV going (scaredy cats - wouldn't even TRY. Said my veins were too tiny and deep) so they had to call in the “IV TEAM” – picture a bunch of nurses running down the hall pushing a cart full of medical supplies ahead of them - okay actually it was a single nurse wearing a fleece and cargo pants (again with the Vancouver Island thing), meandering in at her leisure . Anyway the “IV TEAM” got the line going and I was finally able to settle in for the test. I was advised that I might have a “warm, flushed feeling” and even possibly the sensation of “wetting myself” – but was reassured that NOBODY, EVER had actually wet themselves on the table (foreshadowing here).

So I’m lying very still during the test, waiting for that “warm flushed” feeling when they inject the dye into the IV line at very high pressure. Instead get a “cold wet” sensation along my arm , waist and hip, radiating down toward my bum. I lie perfectly still – assuming this must just be my way of responding to the IV, but kinda wondering if something has gone terribly wrong. And then of course thinking that pretty much EVERYONE getting this test has a moment of alarm when the dye goes in - because the feeling is so out of context....

But no – the cold wet feeling is NOT what I should have expected. In fact, the high pressure, large bore IV injector thingy had blown open and soaked me, the back side of my WHITE jeans (aaaargh), my very cute mostly-whiteJoe Fresh tunic (and my bra and underpants -okay beige, but still!) with a mixture of blood and IV fluid….It looked like a murder scene.

So they ended up having to fix up the IV, mop me up enough to continue the test, and then give me hospital clothes to wear home because my clothes were completely soaked with blood. I'm probably one of the only patients ever who went home from a CT scan with her clothes in a "patient belongings" bag. I think the folks in the imaging department felt pretty bad about what happened, but I assured them that being 45 years old, this was absolutely not the first time I'd gotten blood stains on a pair of white pants. (All the stains washed out with a good soak in cold water and Oxyclean, by the way).

And of course all this happened on an empty stomach because I was on clear fluids before the test. Oh my - I did not feel so well when I got home, especially when I realized that my underthings were actually STUCK to my body with dried blood and medical chemicals and I had to shower to get all the gore off me. Let's just hope this is the end of this, and I don't get a great big serving of brain aneurysm, AVM or tumour to go along with today's ick.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh! Oh! Oh! (about this running business)

Totally forgot to mention this last night: JTM told me he thought I was probably running too fast after he followed me while wearing his fancy Garmin GPS (swear he SHOWERS with that thing on: "Hey I logged .000001 of a mile this morning AND deep conditioned my hair!).  Says to slow waaaaay down.  And I was reading a bit about lactic acid, and the anaerobic threshold, and thought it might be time to stop sneaking peeks at the other treadmills and just do my own thing - not worrying if my running pace is slower than the next person's walking pace.

And sure enough: it was lactic acid all along  - not asthma - not a bum ticker - just the big bonk coming way too soon!  So when I slow down to 4.1, or 4.2 mph, I can pretty much avoid it all together.  Now only plain old ordinary fatigue is what slows me down.  I ran for ten, yes TEN minutes without stopping the other day.  Woot!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Almost (but not quite) Summer

So here we are in June - hard to believe how long it's been since I last posted. May was a very up-and-down (or more like down-and-up) month.  Early on, I found myself very focused, both on the eating and the exercise, trying to keep my attention focused away from incredibly stressful waiting for biopsy results (but YAY, YAY, YAY! I don't have thyroid cancer!!!).  And then a weird downer that should have been crazy relief and dancing-for-joy, but after holding my breath for two long weeks, I just felt deflated (and perhaps a little oxygen-deprived).

And then John's mom showed up for her quarterly visit - always stressful - always a disruption to the routine.  And always, always an extraordinary challenge for me when it comes to food and eating.  First there's the giant suitcase o' junk food, then there's the eating out, and finally there's the part where I medicate the mother-in-law visit stress, frustration, incredulousness, etc., with the aforementioned suitcase contents.And I never seem to get much better at dealing with it.

So I'm up a few pounds in the last two weeks - back up to 173.  And that's okay - I can own that.  Some new woman working the scale at Weight Watchers tonight looked at me and said, ever-so-earnestly, "How can we help you?"  And my response was equally earnest, "You help just by being here."  So corny, but so true.  I really do lose my way when I don't show up for Weight Watchers meetings.

Oh yeah, go me- TOOT! TOOT! It was Bike to Work Week last week, and I made the 13 km round trip three times on my GREAT new bike.  Such a difference to be lighter, both me AND my wheels.  And I hit the gym twice last week too.  I gave my Bike to Work t-shirt to Cam; he rode EVERY day - so proud of him!