A Good Sweat

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I happen to be having a rheumatoid arthritis flare right now, which means frequent inner conversations that go something like this:

My body: Everything hurts.

My brain: Yes, it’s an RA flare, we’ll be fine.

Body: Nope. Pretty sure we’re dying.

Brain: We are not.

Body: We are. We should lay on the couch in the fetal position and not move.

Brain: Actually we’re going to go exercise now.

Body: Nope. Need fetal position. And a doughnut.

Brain: No, we’re going to work out.

Body: But it hurts to move!

Brain: We’re leaving now.

Body: Why on earth would we move when it hurts to move???

Brain: Because it helps.

Body: WHY DO YOU HATE ME?

Brain: I don’t hate you.

Body: Well I hate you. And I want a doughnut…

 

Needless to say, when I get to the health club to work out during a flare, it is often with a body that is cursing under its breath at me. And sometimes that makes it hard to muster a good attitude – especially if, say, I missed my morning group fitness class because I was doing something stupid (like spending several hours trying to understand my cellphone bill, that kind of stupid). You know what else makes it hard to have a good attitude? The stair climber. Or, as I like to call it, climbing stairs to nowhere. Feels ridiculously futile, this climbing stairs in place thing, but when ya gotta sweat, ya gotta sweat, right?

And speaking of sweat…

This might sound like oversharing (and if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’re thinking, “Jen, that ship has sailed”), but I perspire profusely when I work out. I like to think that it’s because I’m just so gosh darned fit, but I don’t really have anything to back that up. All I know is, when I work out there might as well be a sign by me, like the ones they have at amusement parks: “You will get wet.”

So when I’m on the stair climber machine, going nowhere hard, I can seriously soak that sucker. And I’ve mostly gotten used to the looks when people walk by. Especially the poor guys whose job it is to clean the machines. I see them pass by warily, towel in hand, their faces painted in dread as they observe the way I have drenched the machine. One guy actually visibly shuddered, I’m not joking. Between them and all the side eye from the ladies with the perfect hair and makeup, it makes me want to stand on the rails of the machine and announce loudly: PEOPLE! I AM GOING TO WIPE THIS DOWN WHEN I’M DONE, SO RELAX! THE MACHINE WILL BE FINE!

The other day, after spending my morning with every cellphone bill from the last year and a half spread all over my kitchen table, and with still no answer as to why we are being billed for a number not associated with any of our phones, I gave up and headed to the health club and the dreaded stair climber. To add to my lovely mood, there was the RA flare, and those things can make me crabby if I’m not careful. Not as crabby as taking my “escape hatch” prednisone, however. My rheumatologist prescribed it for flare ups, but the last time I took it, I almost got kicked out of a soccer game, so I try to avoid touching the stuff. Instead, I try to eat super clean and work out and do all the healthy things (in addition to my regular RA meds). But for this moment, I will say I was a wee bit crabby.

So here I am with my aching joints and poisonous attitude, climbing stairs to nowhere and getting more than a little irritated at the “Oh my gosh could she sweat any more” looks I’m getting, only to notice out of the corner of my good eye that a guy has stopped walking and is standing next to my machine. Yes, if he had been on my left he’d probably still be there, but he was on my good side, so I knew he was there. And I was irritated. For real! I can’t believe he’s doing this. He’s probably waiting to catch my eye so he can shame me or laugh at me. I hate this. I hate being here on this stupid machine, climbing these stupid stairs with my stupid joints. I kept my eyes forward and silently, angrily sang along with the song in my headphones, until I heard him talking. Exasperated, I pulled out my earbuds and heard, “…you’ve got sweat flying everywhere!” I whipped my head around, preparing my best angry look (and I have some good ones, just ask my kids), only to be confronted with the most radiant smile. This beautiful man was beaming up at me appreciatively, “Look at you! You’re just going at it! I love it!” It was one of the personal trainers at the club, but I’d never seen him before. My mouth hung open for what seemed like a ridiculously long time, before I stammered something eloquent like, “Yeah, I sweat a lot…” He smiled, gave me a thumbs up and a “Keep at it!” And walked away.

To my credit, I did not proceed to trip up the stairs that oddly enough don’t stop moving when you pause to have a conversation – but I could have, I was so stunned. I stood up a little straighter, grinned and kept climbing the stairs to nowhere while dripping sweat all over the machine. But I did it with a very different attitude. Look at me! I am a beast! A BEAST, I tell you! Screw RA and cancer and fake hips and wonky eyes, because I am going at it! I don’t feel crummy often, and it’s very rare for all of my health “things” to come to the party all at once, but when they do, I want someone like him at the party too.

I left the health club with two takeaways. The first was about Mike (I checked his name tag when I high fived him on the way out). I thought about how, when other people saw gross, he saw good. I want to do that. I want to be that for others (I was going to say that I want to be like Mike, but I think that slogan is taken. Bummer, ’cause it would be good here).

The second thought was about Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, which I cannot get enough of (thankfully she just released another book, so it’s going to be ok). In it, she talks about the ways we make up stories to explain the things with which we struggle. Only it’s not always a true story that we tell ourselves. She encourages people to say, “The story I’m making up right now is _____,” as a way of honestly examining and owning what we’re telling ourselves about the situation. So on the stair climber, the story I was making up was that everyone around me was disgusted by my sweat. The thing is, I didn’t actually know that was true. Perhaps no one even noticed my perspiration, or they did but weren’t repulsed by it. Who knows? Not me. So why make something up? Here I was, all achy and irritated, expecting the worst – and instead I got the best. It made me wonder: how many times do we brace ourselves and throw on our armor because we know what’s coming, only to find out that… we actually don’t know?

On that day when I didn’t show up at the health club as my best self, someone saw good anyway. We can’t always tell when someone is having a crummy day, but we can, like Mike, choose to see the good instead of the gross – and then take the extra step to speak it.

From one sweaty person’s perspective, I’d say it makes a difference.

Self care

All is well in the land of bionic hips! Once I get that sucker warmed up, I can walk with barely a trace of a limp, and I’m fully back to pre-surgery activity levels – minus the flexibility, but I expect that’s going to take a lot longer. They tested my metal levels at six weeks post op, and it’s amazing how they’ve plummeted (that’s good!). My chromium has gone from 110.3 to 17.7, and my cobalt from 96.7 to 9.4. I think normal levels are below 5, so I still have a little ways to go, but they should continue to fall.

That’s the good news. The slightly less than good news is that the vision in my radiated eye has taken a noticeable nosedive in recent weeks (perfectly timed with my pre-scan anxiety, more on that later). It’s not unexpected, just disappointing. Things had been holding steady long enough that I started to think that maybe that was as bad as it would get. But the doctors did say it would take 1 1/2 to 2 years to know exactly how much they fried my optic nerve, and I’m only at a year and three months, so I suppose this is par for the course. And speaking of disappointing, I’m starting to have more joint pain again, which could mean that my body is not a fan of cutting my RA meds in half. My rheumatologist has another drug he wants me to talk to my oncologist about taking in addition to the Plaquenil, but I was really hoping this half dose thing would work out. That way all my specialists would be happy and it wouldn’t matter if they talked or not. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Is your head starting to spin a bit? Sorry. I do try to keep things separated into manageable little compartments (for my own sanity), but sometimes all three rings of my health circus start performing at once, and it really does get difficult to know where to look.

Really though, the cancer thing is in the main ring right now, because I have scans coming up next week. How has it already been six months?? Yes, the hip stuff proved to be a stellar distraction, but I am once again reminded that I have cancer. And I still haven’t figured out how to have cancer. I’m pretty decent at getting hip replacements, I’m getting better at having RA, and although I’m cranky about it right now, I’m generally pretty chill about the goofy vision. But I just don’t have this cancer thing figured out. Not yet anyway. It’s surreal when I think about it, really: every six months I go to the Mayo Clinic, knowing that at the end of all my tests and exams a doctor will tell me whether the clock has begun to tick, or if I’ve renewed the lease on my body for another six months. How do you prepare your mind and spirit for that?

In my case, it’s by getting thoroughly psychotic for the few weeks before the appointments (maybe longer, you’d have to ask the lucky folks who live with me). It’s like having really bad, really prolonged PMS. Everything makes me cry – happy things, sad things, dog videos on YouTube – you get the picture. I’m also quick to snap, less patient (not my strongest quality in the first place) and my language has gotten rather salty. In short, I am just not the best version of myself right now, and I don’t like it. I do remember a dear friend and neighbor who happens to be a cancer survivor gently warning me about this: “Jen, my friends and family just know that the few weeks before my scans I am not pleasant to be around.” And she’s been at this for years. Years. I don’t know why I thought that wouldn’t be the case for me, why I am so disappointed at my own weakness and vulnerability, but there you have it. I’m scared, I’m worried and I just want to get this over with. The funny thing is, just the other night I was chiding my dear, Type A firstborn, “you are so good at showing other people grace, but you are so reluctant to show yourself grace.” Hmmmm. Not the first time I’ve given my kids advice that I would be wise to take myself.

So that’s been the last few weeks for me. It hasn’t been all gloom and despair and brainlessness, trust me. I’ve had some lovely moments of humor and hope that have kept my head above the waves (and kept my family from having me committed). I know that in times like these I have to lean hard on my resources – my faith, my family, my friends, even my fitness. Just telling trusted girlfriends how I’m feeling, spending time in a good devotional or listening to music that pumps me up while I sweat it out on a spin bike is therapeutic. There’s also all the self care stuff, like getting decent sleep (ok not always successful but it’s a good goal) eating right (medicinal chocolate anyone?) and all those other things I see in the healthy living articles people post on Facebook and I keep saying I’ll try. Still, I’d expand “self care” to include things like chatting with my parents on the phone, picking Tessa up from play practice and hearing how much fun she’s having, laughing with girlfriends as we celebrate a birthday, watching my dog try to “play” with a bug she’s found (the bug always ends up dead, which is sad, but watching my dog is funny), going to the theatre, watching the birds at our feeder and the ducks on the lake, going on college visits with Riley… Too often as I’m wallowing in my own fear and worry, I forget that I have so many resources available to me, and so many sources of goodness and encouragement around me. I instead try to work it out on my own, and I get frustrated and feel powerless that I can’t save myself when the waves of emotion threaten to overcome me. But I don’t have to do this myself, that’s the thing. I only think I do. And then I hear the still, small voice saying, you’re not alone. I have an amazing family, incredible friends, a supportive community, and a great God who knows everything about me and loves me anyway. So I kind of stink at having cancer, big deal. If I can show myself some grace and lean heavily on my resources when things are hard, the struggles don’t go away entirely but they do get lighter, because I’m not doing all the lifting myself.

I do hope to get better at having cancer, even if I don’t ever entirely figure it out. I also hope to get better at these tough weeks before scans – and I REALLY hope I have lots of years to work on that. Life is indeed good. I try not to forget that.

Speaking of which, remember when I said last year that I wanted to take a spring break trip with my family? That I didn’t want to wait for a bad scan to plan the tropical vacation? Well it just so happens that as I write this, all four of us are on a plane bound for Hawaii, a birthday surprise from my awesome husband. A few days at Disney’s Aulani resort, then a stay with dear friends who live on the island. I can think of no better way to get my mind off the upcoming scans than sun, sand, umbrella drinks and people I love. Making memories…oh rats, here I go crying again. That really has to stop. Oh, and since this is a public blog, let me publicly say that my house is not empty – I have two attack dogs (if you think what the one does to a bug is scary, you don’t even want to see what she does to intruders), and our house sitter is a ninja. So don’t try anything shady. Seriously.

As for me, for the next few days “self care” is going to look a lot like a drink with an umbrella in it.

Cheers.

Sinking the battleship

Hey everyone, sorry for the wait. I really did intend to do a more comprehensive post last night, but once we got home I was so exhausted all I could manage was opening a bottle of wine and making dinner (in that order, thank you very much. Ok wait – first I hugged my kids, and then I put on sweatpants. THEN I broke out the booze. I know, I know, nice way to celebrate a healthy liver…). And now I have family visiting, which is awesome for me, but not for anyone who was hoping to get some more details on my day at Mayo.

It’s a weird, surreal thing being at Mayo. It’s like time completely freezes. You never go outside because all the buildings are connected by this huge underground level. And there are shops and restaurants down there, along with tons of other things, so you really don’t have to leave. And all around you is this mix of sterile, professional doctors and administrator-type people, and tense patients and families. There is a palpable sense of emotions being held back as we all swim in this weird dimension where there is no time. Which is probably why it is such a jolt to return home, to a place where time as been happening while you were gone, and now you have to somehow re-enter it. It’s like suddenly having to jump onto a moving treadmill. Which is hard, because after all the physical and emotional exhaustion, all I want to do is find a quiet place to just sit and reflect. To exhale slowly and say to myself, “Ok, so what really just happened?” I feel like I should take a walk in the woods, or sit on a bench overlooking a lake or something. Instead I jump onto the treadmill and sprint to catch up. It’s all good – I’m grateful to be living a full and busy life – it’s just an awkward transition sometimes.

So it was a looooong day, but it was only one day (not two, like before), which was very nice. All of my did-the-cancer-spread tests were in the morning, then we had a break before we headed up to ophthalmology for the rest of the day. That’s always tough because they turbo dilate me right away, leaving me with nothing to do but observe the other people in the waiting room (more about that in a later post) and listen to bad musak (“Nadia’s Theme” AGAIN! Seriously, they need to get some more uplifting music).

Some things about the opthamolgy department don’t change. I see a lot of the same nurses, doctors and techs. I was in the same exam room for my visual acuity check as I was last time – I know this because there’s still a sticky note on the desk with words scrawled in red sharpie: “If you ‘borrow’ it, bring it back!” The same woman dilated me, and the same guy, ZB, did my eye ultrasound (maybe it’s Zeebee or Zibi, I don’t know. By then I can’t read name tags). He makes having an ultrasound wand pressed really hard directly onto my eyeball actually rather tolerable – a sweet man with an awesome Russian accent, who likes to whisper to himself during the exam. “Now I have to find scan I like and I measure…” He always makes a joke about the chair having an eject button. And I know that when I see Dr. Pulido, he will be wearing a cool tie, cooler glasses and fun socks. Oh, and my favorite: I know that at the very end of my stressful, emotionally exhausting day, when I finally know my results and am walking out of the exam room, Dr. Pulido’s assistant Kim will give me the world’s most awesome hug.

I find all this sameness very comforting.

I was also comforted and encouraged by all the messages of support and love – comments on my post here, facebook messages and comments, emails, texts and phone calls – it was amazing. I felt so completely surrounded (in a good way), it just warmed me from the inside out. So thanks to all of you who reached out. And thanks to everyone who sent thoughts and prayed for me. I continue to be blown away and deeply humbled by that. I felt those prayers, I know I did. And the ways God has shown up big in this whole thing is material for another post. Suffice it to say, He rocks.

Ok, so details – you thought I’d forgotten about that, didn’t you? All right, you may have been correct. I did get off on a tangent a bit there. Well as I nervously sat there in the exam room for my last appointment of the day, waiting for my results, with my heart racing every time I heard footsteps near the door, suddenly Dr. Pulido threw the door open and burst into the room. Before he was even fully in the room, he grabbed my hand excitedly and exclaimed, “You’re doing GREAT!” Oh, those are sweet words to hear, and the best way ever to see your oncologist! He proceeded to tell me how fabulous my scans and lab work looked, and then he pulled up the pictures of my eye – side by side with pictures from back in December. Quite honestly, I’m never really sure what I’m looking at. It kind of looks like the Death Star with a big, ugly cloud of smog over part of it. But Dr. Pulido was very excited to show it to me. The tumor is thinner now, which is fantastic, and the base hasn’t gotten any wider. Apparently that won’t shrink until the tumor gets thinner, and this is normal, so it’s all good. But what he was positively ecstatic about was the color. “Do you see the change?” he asked. Ummm…yes? It was pretty subtle to me, but to his trained eye it was a dramatic and definititive shift to a “battleship gray” color. “That means it’s dying. We hit it hard.” Sinking the battleship. Oh yeah.

So my tumor is sinking – I mean dying – and my scans showed the cancer hasn’t spread. I don’t have to go back for 6 months now. The only negative bit that I encountered in the whole thing was the realization that my oncologist and my rheumatologist do not see eye to eye on how to treat my RA (oh ugh, totally unintentional pun). So this is going to be an ongoing project: trying to bring the two parties to the table to negotiate. So far, we’ve been doing this whisper-down-the-lane thing with me and the doctors and their asssitants, but I’m going to have to find a way to get them to talk directly with each other. Maybe I’ll have to enlist my fearless internist to act as secretary of state, brokering a deal. Whatever it takes. We just need to find a way to treat my RA without compromising my immune system to the point that I’m at greater risk of the cancer spreading. And it would help if they agreed.

But, that’s a project for another day. I’m still celebrating the sweet victory of clear scans and a tumor on the run. I’ve never been a big fan of the color gray, but I kind of love it now.

Thanks again for going on this journey with me! I hope you’re savoring the victory too. Score one for my battleship-sinking army!

Scans tomorrow

Well it’s finally here – the next round of scans. It’s funny how far away September 29th sounded initially, but it seems to have arrived rather quickly. The bad news is, I’ve been insanely busy and preoccupied in the past month…the good news is, I’ve been insanely busy and preoccupied in the past month. No time to sit around and worry about the upcoming tests. And that’s probably a good thing.

Tomorrow we head to Mayo first thing in the morning for what will be a long day. I’m grateful, however, that they got me scheduled for all of my tests and appointments in one day (last time it was 2 days). I will be sure to post here as soon as I have eyes that can focus, but keep in mind that can take a while – ah yes, the turbo dilation. I’ve missed that. They use at least three different kinds of drops to dilate me, and then numbing drops before the eye ultrasound, leaving me with nothing to do in the waiting room but stare at the floor tiles and listen to the world’s worst musak. I mean honestly, last time I was there, the first song I heard as I nervously awaited my first test was “Nadia’s Theme.” Come on, nothing says “you’re going to die” like Nadia’s Theme – and a bad musak version of it at that. Yes, someday I will take over the Mayo Clinic, and the first thing I will do is change the music. Just to something a little less morbid.

I have, however, mastered the art of not panicking in the MRI: the eye mask. Yes, as simplistic as it sounds, I have found that if I can’t see that I’m being stuffed in a tube, I can pretend that I’m not in one. It works, don’t judge. It’s a little harder to completely zen out and go somewhere else for liver MRI’s, though. After putting the world’s biggest needle in your arm (the nurse warned me last time. Holy cow, she wasn’t kidding), they put this cage around your chest and then you have to follow their instructions to breathe or not breathe. So I can forget about sleeping, but between the cancer and my hip, I think I’m getting the hang of this MRI thing.

Speaking of my hip and/or high metal levels, there’s nothing to report there. I’m still following orders and not running, and we’ll repeat the blood tests at the end of October. If my levels are still high, we’ll repeat the MRI (MRI’s!!!! I totally LOVE those!) and then go from there.

As for the rheumatoid arthritis, my oncologist said no to methotrexate, but agreed to let me take Plaquenil. And as much as I don’t care for the side effects of prednisone, that stuff was magic. Magic, I tell you. I don’t think I really had a sense of how much function I had lost in my left hand until I got it all back. It was totally worth having to pee every five minutes. I’m serious. And since the Plaquenil takes months to start working, my rheumatologist gave me more prednisone to keep on hand in the event that I have another flare up. So while mentally I’m still trying to wrap my head around this newest addition to the three ring circus that is my health, physically I’m doing pretty well.

Which leads me to how things are going emotionally. Honestly, I’ve been doing well for the most part, and I’m feeling pretty good about tomorrow. I ended up having a liver ultrasound last month due to some funky bloodwork, and everything looked good. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing there, but it does mean there’s nothing big there. As warped as it sounds, I find that comforting. And I think it’s just going to take time to get used these scans – both the anticipation of them and the actual tests. For instance, I’ve already learned that once all my scans and tests are done and I’m finally, nervously sitting and sweating in my oncologist’s exam room, the door is going to open at least once, maybe twice, and someone who is not my oncologist will come in and do an examination. Seriously, I’m waiting breathlessly for my results, and the door moves – suddenly my heart starts beating so fast I get this buzzy feeling – but the person entering the room is merely one of my oncologist’s fellows, who can tell me nothing. They do the same exam that the nurse did and the oncologist will do, and while I understand that this is important for their education, it’s unnerving to say the least. But I’m expecting it now, which makes it a bit easier.

The other thing that makes all this easier is the massive support I’m receiving. I am ridiculously blessed with the most amazing friends and family. People who are willing to laugh with me, cry with me, pray for me, let me vent, encourage me and inspire me – it’s probably not easy walking this journey with me, but they’ve never abandoned me, never even rolled their eyes at me (or at least they’ve been kind enough to wait till my back is turned…). I feel like I have an army surrounding me.

So, army, if you feel inclined, I would welcome your prayers for tomorrow. I’m praying that the scans will show that the tumor is definitely shrinking, and that the cancer hasn’t spread. If you would add your voices and hearts to that prayer I would be grateful. Also, I’d appreciate prayers for my kids – that they will have peace tomorrow and be able to go about their classes and activities without the distraction of worry.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for your support! Hopefully I’ll have good news to share tomorrow!

Seriously??

Hey everyone! Let me quickly get you caught up on the last month of “stuff”, and then I will explain the exasperated tone of my post…

First off, my permission to run lasted all of 48 hours. When my orthopedist had more time to think about it, he decided that we needed to find out if the running was causing the high metal levels, since the MRI was inconclusive. So, I got a phone call (luckily just after squeezing in the most lovely 8 mile run) telling me to knock it off. I am, of course, not happy about it, but I want answers and if this is what it takes, so be it. I’ll have my blood work repeated at the end of October, and if it’s still funky they’ll repeat the MRI to see how the fluid on the hip looks. Then I guess we’ll go from there.

The oncologist then weighed in (not directly with me, more in a whisper-down-the-lane kind of way that took 2 weeks) and said he knew of no connections between cobalt and chromium levels and melanoma, and he didn’t see a problem with waiting to see how things shake out. So no insight or clues to anything there.

I then saw my new internist, and first of all let me say how much I LOVE her. I came in and told her everything I had going on and she didn’t put on her Nikes and sprint to the nearest exit. Quite to the contrary, hers was more of a “bring it on” kind of reaction. I like that. After a thorough exam which included an ultrasound of my heart (I don’t know why, but it was cool looking), the most detailed family history I’ve ever been asked to give, and a complete review of my other doctors’ reports, she candidly declared that I was a mystery. Boo. BUT, she wasn’t about to throw in the towel. She ordered a bunch of blood work and told me to see a rheumatologist, and then report back in a month.

A rheumatologist? Oh yes. I’ve neglected to mention it in my posts here, but I’ve been having join pain, stiffness and swelling in my hands and feet for the last 3 months. I totally chalked it up to the metals, since they happened at the same time, and my internist agreed that the timing was suspect. She thought that a rheumatologist might know if there was a metal connection or not. I was game, since it had gotten to a point where I couldn’t make a fist with my left hand (it’s ok, I told people, I punch with my right hand).

I love my rheumatologist. He’s a super great guy, and another one who didn’t run screaming when faced with the task of caring for me. And he has a good sense of humor, which is important to me. However, neither of us were laughing when my blood work came back: I have rheumatoid arthritis.

Hence the title of this post.

I mean really? Is this truly necessary? I kind of thought I had enough going on, but sure, let’s add something else, shall we? Now, the thing about having cancer is that you start to measure everything by “Can it kill me? No? Ok, we’ll deal with it.” This is hardly tragic, but it’s not a tiny thing either. And it’s all complicated by the cancer thing – because a lot of the big guns in the rheumatoid arthritis-fighting arsenal are a little sketchy when it comes to cancer. So I’m going to have to get every RA medication ok’d by my oncologist. I already have a call in to him about 2 meds. We’ll see how many weeks of talking to nurses and assistants it takes to get an answer.

In the meantime, I’m starting on prednisone tomorrow (and very much looking forward to getting thirsty and fat – my previous experience with the drug). If the oncologist is cool with it, we’ll start methotrexate in about 4 weeks, and then see if we need to hit a biologic med or not (but those are the ones that are especially sketchy with the cancer stuff, so we’ll see). If we can treat it aggressively I could even end up in remission for the RA. I would like that.

So the plan is now as follows: start treating the RA, get my scans at Mayo at the end of September (and hopefully see that the tumor is on the run and everything else is clear), go on vacation (yay!), then revisit the hip and metal levels. Oh, and not have anything else come up. Seriously.

That’s the scoop for now. If you’d like to linger in the Land of Jen (and really, who wouldn’t? It’s full of fun and surprises!), I will tell you a little story…. (Or you can be done reading. Really, it’s ok. That other stuff was really long.)

Back to a month ago…

Initially I handled the moratorium on running with a great deal of poise and grace. I should have known something was up right there. But the emotions eventually caught up to me – at 10:30 on the night before I was scheduled for a long bike ride with some girlfriends. My tire wouldn’t pump up, and the more I tried, the more it deflated. I just couldn’t get it to work, and as I began to get more and more frustrated, I had the thought, This wouldn’t be happening if I could run! Aaaaand the next thing I knew I was having a meltdown rivaling that of any petulant two year old. Like a full-on tantrum, complete with wailing and throwing things. So much for poise and grace. Once I pulled myself together enough to determine that the tire was flat (and I have no idea how to change a flat), I had the desperate thought to text my girlfriend Jeannine. She is a dear friend and a hard core runner, and her husband is big time into cycling. Did I mention it was 10:30 on a Saturday night? Yeah. I did that. I asked if I could bring my wheel over, and they graciously agreed. So, at 10:45, I pulled into their driveway, and before I could even exit my car they were out of their house like a pit crew. I stood there with my swollen, tear-stained face and meekly held out my tire, which Marty took and immediately began working on. I turned to Jeannine and just whispered hoarsely, “I can’t run.” She nodded and hugged me, and we stood there silently while Marty finished fixing my flat. And then I was on my way back home, with a repaired wheel and a mended heart. That’s the kind of friends I have: friends who will hug you and love you when you have a flat – knowing all along that it was never about the flat.

So thanks to you all. I am blessed to have your support, love and prayers.

And I hope my next update is really boring. Just sayin’.