Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall is Here. Hear the Yell.

So, last weekend was the third weekend in a row that we were out of town for races, and I am so OVER not being home. Like I said to John, it was a good thing we were in Madison that week, because I love that town and it made it more doable for me to be in a place that I love, even though I was feeling spread pretty thin. The best thing is that after today, we both have 3 days off of work. Tomorrow is John's birthday, Thursday is Stinky's birthday and then we have three days of Jingle CX over the weekend. I will try very hard to use some of that time to regroup and relax, but it will also be nice that all the kids and their boyfriends and their dogs will be here at the same time. (nice and stressful, anyway....)

We had a great dinner at HopCat when we arrived Friday night. We checked into our Air BnB, which was a half a block from Willy Street. It was a cute little apartment in a great location.

I woke up by 7 on Saturday, so I could go for a run on a bike path that goes around Lake Monona. I am trying to slowly build up my miles, so I finally ran 4 miles that day. This week, I will try to do my 4.5 mile route and we'll see how that goes...

When I got home, I showered and then John and I went to a place called Lazy Jane's for breakfast. It was so good. We spent most of the day at the Cyclocross race at the Trek Headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin.

When we got back, we met my family for dinner and then wandered around the World Music Festival happening on Willy Street. It was a lovely evening, even considering that family discussion I posted about yesterday.

On Sunday, I skipped my run and we headed back to Lazy Jane's for another wonderful breakfast. Since no Churlita blog post would be complete without a photo of my food, take a gander at those amazing blueberry pancakes. They were absolutely perfect.

I will try to post as much as I can during my three days off, but with so much going on, I can't promise anything. Happy Fall!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Oh, Hey. It's a Family Affair

This is how happy cyclocross makes me...When it isn't killing me. Thanks to Angy Snoop for the photo.
I've decided that I am going to try and change the way I blog coming up here. Instead of only saying, "This is what I did this week or day or weekend", I will add weird posts about a memory I have, or a fiction writing piece or about whatever is chapping my hide at that particular second. Some people may like it better and others may not care for it at all. Of course, I could just lose the three regular readers I have, but it's a risk I'm willing to take in order to make myself write a little something more than just blah, blah, blah, my day went thusly...Although, it might just be a very little something more.

Okay, so...We went to Madison for that bike race this weekend and for the most part, it was very nice. We did hang out with my family on Saturday night, and that is always a crap shoot as to whether we'll get along or if there will be some weird argument over old family wounds or disagreements about some bullsh*t where people are just trying to win the argument, instead of understanding what the other person is saying. Sounds amazing, doesn't it?

Last Saturday was the latter of those scenarios. We somehow got on the subject of the death penalty. We were talking about someone who's crime was so heinous that he was probably going to get beaten and killed in prison, if he didn't get the death penalty, and I made the grievous error of saying that with that kind of choice, I would probably opt for the death penalty. I said that there were certain lives I probably didn't want to live. All the women at the table agreed with me, but the men were extremely opposed. They both said, if you were alive, there was hope that you would see another day. They made it seem that I was endorsing suicide. I really thought it was a harmless statement and I was surprised at how strong the reaction was from the men at our table. The "discussion" went on and on got weirder and louder (because that's how it works in my family) until we finally had to change the subject. Sigh.

I wish I could say I learned my lesson and would never again start a sh*t storm discussion with my family, but I've met myself, and I've met my family, so you all probably won't have to wait very long for the next post much like this one. I did think it was interesting that we so divided among gender lines. I wondered if that meant that men were more hopeful, or if women were just more aware of how crappy a life could be or were more empathetic to what someone in extreme pain either physical or emotional could be going through.

After all the drama had subsided and we were safely back in our Air BnB, I said to John, "Well, apparently, my family isn't much for idle chit chat..." Poor John.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Everyday is Yours to Win

So, here's something weird....I actually have a race report to write today. Of course, I have no photos of said race, so I put up this pic that John took this weekend, because it looks cool.

Anyway...There's this great women's cycling group that puts on training races in our town and they had a cyclocross race yesterday. It is perfect for beginners and let's say, people recovering from cancer) because the race is short and not very technical and doesn't have gigantic hills that some of us (cough, me, cough) wouldn't be able to ride. so, I thought it would be interesting to try to "race" it. I figured, even if I only did one lap of it, it would be a great way to see how strong I was(n't) and to get myself excited about training in order to race in October or November.

I rode my bike to City Park from work, and got to ride past the new Hancher Building, along the river, which made me happy in and of itself. When I got to the venue, things were even better. The weather was lovely and I got to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in a while. The cycling community in Iowa City is a very supportive group, and many people made a point to give me a hug and tell me they were thinking of me and ask how I was feeling. It was so sweet.

John stopped at home on the way from work to feed the damn cats and so when he arrived at the venue, we signed up for our races and then I changed into my kit and rode about 1/3 of the course just to warm-up and no more of it, because I was worried that I would use up the little energy I had and not be able to ride my whole race.

What is it like to race 5 weeks out of surgery? It was hard and I got tired fast, and I know people will say that it's like that to race no matter what, but this was all of that amplified and less forgiving. I raced as a B woman, and we all rode with the A women and the juniors. I stayed to the back of the pack, so I wouldn't get in anyone's way and we were off. Besides most of the juniors, I was last. The other two B women weren't too far ahead and after my first lap, I knew I had to slow down, or I wouldn't be able to ride much more. Since I hadn't done much cyclocross practice this year. I got off my bike WAY before I needed to on the first barrier and I slowed down to ridiculous speeds on the corners. I was okay with that. this was for me and I was enjoying myself. I came around the barrier the second time, where most people were standing and I head mad cheering for me. It was pretty sweet of them, seeing's how I was dead last.

By the third lap, I saw that I was catching the 2nd place woman in my race. I certainly wasn't expecting that. Since I've been coached to race (track, but some concepts are the same), I sped up to chase the carrot. That carrot was a woman who I really like and have much respect for, but that didn't stop my chasing instincts. By the first barrier, we were even. I knew I didn't have her on strength and speed but I had been racing longer than she had, so I could get off and on my back faster, and after a couple of laps, I had gotten much faster in the corners too. I started my 4th lap and I didn't think I could do one more. the lap counter said 2 more, but luckily, I could hear the A race leaders not too far behind me. I finish on the lap they finish on, so I hoped I was going slow enough for them to catch me, so I wouldn't have to ride the last lap, but fast enough that the woman I had just passed wouldn't get me. I was lucky on both counts. I finished my race in 2nd out of 3 B women racers and I had to instantly sit down on the ground. I stayed there and chatted with some of the other racers and when I tried to stand, I thought I was going to pass-out. Whew! I guess that means I I tried as hard as I could. I was super happy with my results. I really thought I would get lapped by the whole field and wouldn't be anywhere near any of the B women racers. I was lapped by 3 women and passed one woman in my race. I was thankful for even the little bit of running I'd been doing the last couple of weeks, because it has really helped my cardio fitness. I won't be doing anymore racing this month, but I will keep training and see what happens in October.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

We'll All Float On. Good News is On Its Way

I got a little scrape on my shin from riding a cyclocross course this weekend. Finally...
 I guess I should do another update here, since I met with the radiation oncologist last Friday. I am done with treatment. Hooray! I talked with Dr Sun and her entourage. Basically, they said that my chance of having a recurrence was about the same as my chance from getting cancer from the radiation treatments, so, to me, it didn't make sense to do possible damage to my heart or lungs and I said, "No thanks!". I'm also not doing the anti-hormone therapy. So, unless my cancer comes back, I will do a breast exam every 6 months and a mammogram every year. It feels so good not to have any of that hanging over my head and not knowing how to plan because I wasn't sure how the radiation would impact my life for the month it was going on.

Here's me with my beer and in my jammies at 7 pm on a Friday night, because I am awesome.
 In order to celebrate, I went to the store after my doctor's appointment on Friday, John set-up our new fire pit, I made veggie black bean chili and corn bread for dinner and we each got a beer and we sat out in front of the fire for exactly 15 minutes before the storm unloaded and started pouring on us.

A sign on the wall of the little diner we went to for breakfast in Knoxville.
 This weekend we went to Knoxville/Pella for a cyclocross race at Lake Red Rocks. It was a pretty nice weekend. We stayed at a little hotel in Knoxville and for a few dollars more, we got a room with a jacuzzi in it. Just last week, I was finally able to take a bath or soak in water without having to worry about maceration of my skin at the incision site, so it was perfect timing.

Not only did we go to Peace Tree Brewery this weekend, we had free beer tickets.
I also got on my bike and tried to ride the cyclocross course at the race venue. The first day, I did one lap and then was exhausted the rest of the day. The next day, I was able to do three laps (5 miles), but not very fast and on the last lap every part of my body felt like it was on fire. I'm glad I made myself do it, though. I figure, the only way I'll get stronger is by going hard and then recovering and then going hard, and then recovering. We'll see how that works for me.

I also had a little bit of a let-down this weekend. I think part of it, was that I was on what John calls "crisis mode" for so long and now that things are looking up, I have more time to think about things, instead of just taking things as they were getting hurled at me. All this thinking seems to make me a little melancholy. I've also been feeling overwhelmed lately - both socially and physically. As I've said, I'm trying to get stronger, and it's hard and it makes me tired, but I hope it will also help me recover faster. The social part, I'm trying to fix. We've been gone the last two weekends and been surrounded by people and then gone out with friends for dinner a lot more than normal lately, and man oh man, do I miss that blessed 2 and a half weeks of FMLA leave after the surgery, where I got to take things slow and easy and just do the things I loved to do and not talk on the phone or answer emails all day at work. Sigh.

So, I took an evening to myself last night to read and cook pasta Primavera and watch cheesy House Hunters shows and it was the best thing I could have done for myself. Tonight I'll cook veggie fajitas and rice and black beans for dinner, sit on my porch and read for a bit and then start packing for our trip to Madison this weekend. Thankfully, it will be our last out of town weekend for a while, and we have a cute little Air BnB to stay at on Willy Street. If I have to go out of town, I am happy that it's Madison and the bike race at the Trek headquarters is always fun too.

I feel like I'm swimming up from my little funk now, and I'll just keep trying to take better care of myself.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

And You May Ask Yourself, Am I Right?...Am I Wrong?

Okay. So, I had a lovely three day weekend, but for some reason, I'm not getting around to writing about it. Maybe because it would mean posting a lot of photos and write, write, writing and I don't have that in me this week. Instead, I'm just going to do a little recovery documentation post.

This is how things are shaking out right now. I am 4 weeks out from surgery. Tomorrow I go see the radiation oncologist and then I'll decide whether I think the side effects are worth the benefit it will give me to do radiation treatments. I am officially done with the dominatrix bra. I still have to wear a sports type bra to sleep in for the next few weeks, but I can wear a regular bra out and about, which REALLY gives me more options with what I can wear to work now.

On the physical front, I ran over 3 miles on Sunday and part of it was on a trail with a really big hill. I could really feel it in my heart and lungs and it made me pretty tired, but I did it. On Monday, John and I mountain biked for over an hour. Again, it wasn't the fastest I've ever biked and I couldn't do the second part of the trails that we normally do, because I was exhausted from riding the bigger hills  on the first part, but I am working on getting my heart rate up at some point every day to help me get strong physically.

And so it is now, that I am settling into my post cancer life. Hopefully, it will be the only cancer I have to recover from in my lifetime. I got lucky and as I always seem to, I used this as another excuse to reevaluate my life and my choices. Am I doing anything different? I am trying to drink a little less alcohol, and rest more and stretch and do more core exercises. I want to take the time to do more creative projects, work on my home more, to make it an even better sanctuary than it already is, I eat well, but I am working on eating less (that's a tough one for me). As always, there are so many things to work on...

Friday, September 02, 2016

August and Everything After.

I guess it's a new month and time to look at my monthly stats for August. As you can imagine...Or,  you don't really have to, since I over-documented the whole damn experience on here already.

Anyway, here is my list of stuff for August:

Miles Biked: 177.5 - Most on the road and a few on my trainer.

Miles Run: 26. I am starting to try and run more this week. We'll see how it goes...

Miles Walked: 25. Wow. the first time ever that my walking and running miles were almost the same for a month.

Swimming: 0. I wasn't allowed to swim for at least a month after surgery. Next Wednesday, it will have been 4 weeks. Yea! for finally being able to swim and take baths again.

Books Read: Now here's where I really excelled this month:  8! And many of them were over 500 pages long.  - 1) "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter", Carson McCullers. 2) "Middlesex", Jeffery Eugenides. 3) "The Paying Guests", Sarah Waters. 4) "The Circle", Dave Eggers. 5) "Maine", J. Courtney Sullivan. 6) "And the Mountains Echoed", Khaled Hosseini. 7) "The Boston Girl", Anita Damiant. 8) "The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach.  I tired to read as many of my hard back books as possible, so I wouldn't have to cart them around in my messenger bag when I was back to commuting on my bike.

Paintings Worked on/finished: I started two different paintings and didn't complete any. Hopefully, this month...

Places traveled to by car or bike: Kalona, Iowa, Solon, Iowa. Amana, Iowa and Cedar Rapids, Iowa (John went there and locked his keys in his car, so I drove there to give him the extra set. He's done many similar things for me, so I was happy to help him out there. I probably still owe him a time or two,,,).

Firsts: I had a few firsts this month - My first surgery, my first lumpectomy and hopefully, my last, my first time under general anesthesia, my first time on narcotics (Yeah, I got through the entire 80's without those), my first time on FMLA and sick leave over a week, and to add something I'd want to do more often than once, my first time hiking in the woods and playing in the spillway with my daughter's puppy.

Races: None and it might be a couple of months before I can put something here.

House Projects: I did work for about 10 minutes on a little backyard landscaping project, but I got too tired and had to throw in the towel. Next month?

So, anyway...Here's to a weird month and hoping I don't have to do radiation therapy so that I have more energy to do fun stuff in September.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Feelin' Stong Now. Won't be Long Now.

This is the old mill in the Amanas.
So, yesterday was my first day to ride to work and back. And since I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, I rode to work, then to the hospital and then from there back home. I wasn't all that tired and I even did an easy 2 mile run. Of course, then I had to take a nap for an hour and a half, but I still was able to run 2 miles. Woop!

In order to prepare for my bike ride to work and back.I did two trial rides beforehand. One in our neighborhood on Saturday afternoon and one where we drove to the Amanas to meet our friends for a short, easy ride on bike trails.

We basically rode around the lily pond there...And you KNOW how much I love lilies.

It was raining when we left for the Amanas, but the radar looked like the storm would move on before we got there. It sprinkled here and there and threatened to unleash on us during our ride, but we were lucky for most of it. There was definitely some wet, muddy patches along the way, though. My friend, Lisa's son, who is 7, rode along with us and was such a trooper and had a blast riding around in the mud.

It was a beautiful day.

At one point, Lisa's son was telling me that he was trying to ride no-handed. He showed me how light his hands were on his bars and then I showed him that I could ride one handed. He tried it and then yelled, "High five! High five!" So, I slowed down and put my hand back, so he could slap it. Unfortunately, he lunged too hard  and crashed on his bike. I felt badly, because I was the adult and should have discouraged the high fiving, but as we all know, I'm not the best person to trust to call out a bad decision. Luckily, Lisa's son was one tough nut and he was all smiles a couple of minutes later.

We got done with our 4.6 mile ride just as the clouds suddenly unleashed. We changed out of our wet biking clothes and headed to the safety of the brew pub for root beer and regular beer.

After the rain stopped , we walked around the quaint little town and headed to Phat Daddies for pizza. John got the incredible garden goat cheese pizza and we all had to try some.

A couple of other friends met us there on their motorcycle, so the adventure ended with good food and great conversation. A lovely end to a fun afternoon.

Also, I was happy to know that I was fine to ride to work and back after that. Double bonus!

Monday, August 29, 2016

I'd Like to be a Gallery. Put You All Inside My Show.

So, Kids...I promise I'm wrapping up the sick girl posts, but I'll probably ease out of them, like I do everything.

Yesterday, I touched on some of the things I actually could do during my recuperation. My lovely days usually started off with a nice walk, and then either peanut butter toast or yogurt and granola and berries and tea for breakfast while I caught up on the last two seasons of "Downton Abbey". Then I would generally go on the back porch and sit on my lounger chair and rest and read for a couple of hours.

If I felt strong enough, I would eat lunch and watch an episode of "House Hunters", before I tried to do a little project, like hanging laundry on the line or cleaning a room of the house that didn't require me to lift more than 10 lbs. Of course, that kind of activity would cause me some serious fatigue, so a nap/rest would be in order afterward.

Like I said, Stinky came over a few times, especially the week before I had to go back to work, and we had fun adventures and little hikes and we would laugh and laugh at her puppy's antics. At one point, we were walking on the bike path, past a sculpture garden, which Jaxson had never seen before and he flipped out. He growled and barked and ran away from the sculptures. I guess, everyone's a critic...

It's probably a good thing this deer wasn't on the path when Jaxson was along for the hike. The poor little guy would probably have had a coronary.

The last weekday of my recovery, Stinky came over after lunch and we got out the canvasses and paints and we drank lemonade and sang along to the Beatles Pandora radio station we listened to and yelled at Jaxson for stealing the sponge that Stinky was on her painting.

It was a beautiful way to spend the day.

These are our (almost) finished products. Stinky's is the one on top and mine is the one on the bottom, which is really just a background I will hopefully use that to paint a gigantic flower over. We'll see how long it takes me to finish it now that I'm working full time again...

Yes, I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends

Archie loved that I was hanging out on the porch so much the last couple of weeks.

So this will be a more random post today. We met with the surgical oncologist on Friday. She said everything looked great, the incision site was healing up. There are no signs of infection and all that's left now is a dark purple, smile shaped scar around my left breast. I had John look at it a few times in the last couple of weeks and he had already told me that.  It definitely helps to have an ortho the tech for a live-in life partner in crime. She did say that she wanted me to still see the radiation oncologist and the medical oncologist to consider further treatment. I will definitely go and hear them out, but the surgical oncologist said that if she thought anti hormone therapy or radiation therapy would make a big difference, she would have told me to do it and she didn't think she could say that. Since I like to err on the side of the least invasive treatment, I might just watch it and get regular mammograms for now.

People have asked me if I went stir crazy being home for two and a half weeks. The answer to that is HELL NO! I love my house and, especially after I got off the drugs and the worst of the pain and stuff, my days were filled with books and painting canvasses and looking longingly at my cats and gardens. How could I be stir crazy....Especially, since I was allowed to go for little walks outside on the days where I felt strong enough.

John did worry that I would feel isolated during my convalescence, but my friends and my daughters wouldn't let me. Holy cow, but John and my girls and my friends are amazing.

My friend Joanne let me walk with her and her dogs to her house on my first walk after my surgery. MnMOM and my friend Kit, bought me a $50 gift card to the co-op, with which, we bought a quiche, a nice bottle of red wine and some fancy things to put in a salad. My friend Molly bought me a $50 gift card to Prairie Lights, with which, I bought 3 books (since I read 6.5 novels while I was home, it was nice to have more selections). My friend Matt left a big bottle of homemade pesto sauce with tons of garlic in it, with which I made some pesto shrimp linguini. My friend Brittany came over and gave me some awesome graphic novels to read. John's ex-girlfriend brought over some homemade corn chowder soup and some lovely bread from the Co-op. My friend Ginger came over with the gorgeous sunflowers you see above. My friend Carrie brought over some turkey zucchini tetrazzini, a plate of brownies, some cut-up fruit and two Goose Island beers for me and John. My friend Lydia left me a bag of girly make-up type samples, that I had no idea how to use, but Stinky was kind enough to come over and tell me what they were and show me how to use them. Speaking of Stinky, she came over several times to check up on me and brought her puppy to go for walks with me and have lunch and get ice cream with me. Of course, John did so much for me, that I don't have the time or space to list it all.

From the list above, you might assume that I have gained a TON of weight these last couple of weeks, but strangely enough, I have lost a little weight. The big problem with that, is now I think I can eat whatever I want without gaining weight and that has never been true, especially now, when Winter is coming...

I am back at work today. I was dreading it, but now that I'm here, it's just fine. I will definitely miss my beautiful days filled with literature and art and nice, slow walks, and flowers and bees and butterflies...But I will have some nice, quiet, time away from my cats now.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

You Win Some. You Might Get Lucky Now and Then. You Win Some.

Looking very "natural" and way too smiley before my lumpectomy.

Sooooo. Yesterday was my 2nd week anniversary of being newly cancer free. Yea me! It's been a weird two weeks, but also pretty amazing in a lot of ways.

John and I showed up at the ambulatory surgery place at 8 o'clock and they immediately started doing their thing. I changed into my lovely "evening wear", they put an IV in me and the nurse said, "Normally, we'd do a pregnancy test now, but they said that since you are over 50 your eggs are too old and you don't have to worry about getting pregnant.' She said she was a little offended by people calling our eggs old, but I told her that as long as I didn't ever have to worry about getting pregnant again, I didn't care what anyone called my eggs...

I was set to go down to radiation, so they could do another 5 million mammograms on me while they took a needle and inserted a wire to the location of my tumor. Right before we were supposed to leave, the nurse informed me that my surgery had been moved from 11:40 to 9:30. That was more than fine with me, but John had to text my girls and have them come down as soon as they could make it.

After the wire was in place, they wheeled me back up to my room. I talked to the anesthesiologist and she asked if I got motion sickness, and I said, "Boy, do I ever!" She said she would put a little patch behind my ear that would help me from getting nauseous but not to touch the back side of it and then touch my eye, because it would dilate my pupils. Weird. The nurse anesthetist said she was going to wheel me into the OR. like everyone we dealt with that day, she was so nice and personable and comforting. I was introduced to the staff in the OR and then the Nurse anesthetist told me she was going to give me the "I don't care" juice. One of the nurses told me that she would be next in line for some of that juice and I asked that she please wait until AFTER my surgery. That was the last thing I remember saying. I'm always happy when I go out with a joke...

The nurse woke me up in the recovery room. I had a brand new, funny looking bra on (John calls it my dominatrix bra, but I think it looks more like one of those 1950's bras but with tons of weird straps, kind of like those old maxi-pad belts (if you're too young, ask your great grandmother and you can be glad we live in better times)). She told me that when I first came-to in the OR that I thought I was late for work and worried about it. What the hell is that with me? When I passed out during my biopsy, I did that too. I guess everyone has to have an insecure fixation...

This was one of my favorite hang-out while I recuperated. I think the cats will be sad when I'm not home to gaze upon them all day.

John took me home and Coadster stopped by the store to get some food. I ate some soup and bread and then slept...And slept and slept.

The general anesthesia took at least 24 hours to wear off and then I started on the Dilaudid. With the drugs, I really didn't have much pain, but the drugs made me itchy, dizzy, weak and tired. So, after a few days, I worked on weaning myself off of them. After a week or so, I was completely off of them, but I might have done that too soon, because I still had some bad pain. I took Tylenol for another few days, before I was drug free. I still had some pain, but it was tolerable and I was much happier that my brain was working a little better then.

My doctor told me that walking would help me recover faster, but that I wasn't allowed to do any other real exercise. I tried to walk two days after my surgery. I couldn't even make it a mile before I had to stop and rest. On Saturday, John took me to Terry Trueblood recreation area.  for a change of scenery. It took me over a half an hour to walk one whole mile and even then, I had to rest on a bench for about 10 minutes. Wow. I'm up to 3.5 miles now and I even got on the bike trainer and pedaled very slowly a couple of times. I'm just working on building up. It could take a while.

In my head, I thought I would be able to get so much done during my convalescence, but I was sadly mistaken. I was on drugs and/or in pain for much of it and I was just exhausted in general for pretty much all of it.  I remember apologizing to Stinky when she came over two days after my surgery for being so spacey from the drugs. "Honestly, you aren't much different than you normally are..." Whatever. The one thing I could do, was read. John said he couldn't read when he was recuperating from surgery, because he couldn't focus enough and had to read pages over and over again. I told him, I don't usually have a lot of focus anyway, so I'm used to it. Okay, so maybe Stinky had a point...

This is the only room in our house with air conditioning. I slept here the first few days back from the hospital.

I got the pathology report back last Friday and the doctor called me and told me it was much better than they originally thought it would be. Yippee! I asked her if that meant that I wouldn't need radiation treatments or hormone therapy after all and she said, she wasn't sure. She said she would set up an appointment with the radiology oncologist and she will tell me if I should or not. As far as I know, that hasn't been set-up yet. John and I are hoping that the Tumor Board met and discussed it and decided I wouldn't need it. Of course, that's just a fantasy. We'll find out for sure tomorrow morning when we go to speak to the surgical oncologist at my follow-up appointment.

So, I will probably head back to work on Monday. I have a release form for the doctor to sign tomorrow and hopefully, I'll get to a point over the weekend where I can go through an entire day without napping or resting and I'll head back to work on Monday.

For now, I will appreciate the last few days of freedom from structure or pants wearing or even thinking about what kind of holy hell I must look like.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Living for Right Now and It's L.I.V.I.N.G. When I'm Here With You.

Well, Kids. Tomorrow is the big day. At 7 am I have to be at the ambulatory service area at the hospital. They told me I won't be allowed to walk and will have to be wheeled to radiology they will stick some kind of rod in my breast to help guide the surgeon as to where my tumor is. Then I'll get wheeled back up to my room where I will a few hours until my surgery at 11:40.

It seems pretty simple, right? I've just never had surgery before, I've never been under anesthesia, except for an epidural during labor with Coadster and I've never taken narcotics before, except for Tylenol 3 once for a kidney stone and I puked and puked. I have no idea what to expect. I know the outcome should be good, so I'm not super worried about that. It's just all the particulars in getting there.

I was looking at all the surgical prep and I can't eat after midnight, I have to wash with a special soap and I can only have one 8 ounce glass of clear liquid. They made a big point to specify that alcohol is not included in that. Damn it!

I started doing my arm exercises to get strong and my range of motion back after the surgery. They seem so easy now. I'm sure that will all change very soon...

This weekend was full of beautiful bike rides and runs and gardening and I will cook some veggie lasagna and potato leek soup to have for the week after surgery. Coadster is coming into town tonight and so John and my girls will be there for me.

What I am taking away from this is just how damn lucky I am. My cancer is very treatable and I have the most incredible support system. This will be an inconvenience in my life, but it's not a tragedy and I will get better and start kicking ass as soon as I can. I will also live each day in wonder and appreciation for all of the incredible people and things I have in my life.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Come On Y'all, Let's Take a Ride

On Wednesday, we rode out to meet RAGBRAI. John had broken a spoke the day before and the only bike shop in Ottumwa was closed to work at RAGBRAI. So, he had to ride about 50'ish miles with a broken spoke and with his back brake disengaged. Eek!

We headed out of Ottumwa and headed to Blakesburg. We were almost on the exact same route we'd be riding the next day. The roads were nice and we had one family out in the country yelling from their farm, "Hey! Yea, RAGBRAI! WooooHooo!" It was pretty cute.

I love the old gas stations in these towns.

John and Burne got their coffee drinks, while I had my favorite, chocolate milk.

We were very close to the route and the woman at the gas station in Blakesburg was so great about telling us which roads would work best for us and giving us directions. She said she had done 5 RAGBRAI's but they had been a long time ago.

We made it to Unionville, which was the last town before we would hit RAGBRAI. As we were heading out of town, I saw two junior high aged girls with a 6 week old kitten. I jumped off my bike and asked if I could hold her. They were nice enough to let me and it made my day even better.

We caught RAGBRAI on the Karras Loop, which extends the route that day, to go close to 100 miles for the day. It was at Lake Rathbun and it was beautiful.

They actually had a full menu and full bar and I actually got a salad on RAGBRAI. That never happens. I also had some Arnold Palmers's, which I love.

We met our group along the way and headed to our first camp in Chariton, Iowa. This really nice couple housed ours and another team and it was really nice.

The next morning, we got to ride over Lake Rathbun again. I like to sing bad songs from the 70's and 80's and for some reason, John is not a fan of that. Of course, that just makes me and our friends want to do it more. So, on Thursday morning, as we were crossing the lake, a guy rode past us with "Dr Love" screeching out of his stereo. It was perfect, we all surrounded John on his bike and sang it to him. He may not have thought it was as perfect as we did, however...

Add caption

We got to my sister and brother-in-law's place around 5. They spoiled the hell out of us. Some of the people on our team hadn't had a hot shower in many days. My family had three different houses on their street where we could get a hot shower AND they let us do all of our laundry and made sure we had tons of outlets to charge our phones. We made a ton of food and fed my sister's family and all of our troops. It was heavenly.

We rode to Washington the next day.

About halfway in, we went to Keota and caught a cool bike trail into Washington. Some if it was pretty rough, but I would definitely trade a smooth road for cooler views.

We did enjoy the craft brew tents this year. I don't drink a lot, but I like to have a few good beers and the craft brew tents are perfect for that. No more drinking warm Coors in unshaded alleys on RAGBRAI. Whew!

the last day of RAGBRAI, we chose to ride from Washington, with a stop for a very early lunch in Riverside and home to Iowa City. It was only 35 miles, but I didn't mind the break. While we were at Murphy's some friends, Andrea and Oliver asked if they could ride back with us. I told them we were going slow and they said that was just their speed. it was nice to chat with both of them. It had been a while. We got home around noon'ish, and had all day to do tons of laundry and unpacking and lawn mowing and take a much needed nap. It was a beautiful week.