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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moving Forward

Dr. L decided to have me come in and remove my last drain!  It's slightly more comfortable now and a little more progress being made. 

I got to visit with him for bit - my first office visit with him, post-op.  I can tell he is happy he was able to contribute to bettering my health.  He jokingly told me I owed him a massage, as his shoulder was sore from holding up my flaps of skin during my 6 hour surgery.  He told me he removed  two 6lb. pieces of skin, just from my front, lower abdomen and that when detached, he could pull it down to my knees.   He also removed 2 liters during the liposuction on my back. Ouch!

My pain level has been practically 0 to 1 on the incisions since I came home. 

My soreness level where the lipo was done? 
That's a completely different story! 

I have a plenty strong stomach (except for long buggars from kids noses making me gag), but seeing how they do lipo on TV and knowing that they did that to me and that's why I'm sore, is just crazy -- and makes me want to throw-up in my mouth a little!

My arm incisions are looking good, but I do have an angry spot on one arm.  It's somewhat unavoidable due to the location of the incision (under the arm), but I'm managing with the help of my Hubs, who's doing so much to help my recovery. Even though he has (jokingly) referred to me as "Frankenwife", I still appreciate everything he has done!

I can hardly believe the abdomen incision though... so clean and pink.  It's healing really well.  After they removed all the purple-ish "glue" you could really see the difference.

I still have to wear the "straight jacket" ( a 3/4 leg girdle with a 4" binder build in on top) for a couple more weeks.  Dr. L said to give him 10 more days in it, and then I can move to regular shape-wear for the remainder of the 6 weeks. 

Once the drain incisions heal, I can get back in the pool.  Yay!

So what happens after everything heals?  I start training again, building my base again. Get strong again.  It's going to be like starting over to some degree.  Running and swimming will feel different; my gait may change and I definitely lost some buoyancy! I can't wait to go lift and do a "Clean" where I can actually keep the bar close to my body!

On the schedule is a couple races -- the first couple I won't really be "racing", it will just be fun to get out there again!  I'd like to see myself recovered by the 5150, so I can do that race with a plan. :)

River Cities Triathlon
Summertime Blues



Galveston 5150 (???)


Then volunteer for IM Florida... and register for 2014!!!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On the 13th Day

So as of today I'm 13 days out from surgery.  Time flies.... like a lead weight!

I've been out and about, mostly just walking around, running light errands with my Hubs and Cass.  It's nice to get out of the house some. My head still feels a little foggy... like I'm in a bubble.  I don't know if it's just the changes post-op, or just being out of my regular routine, but I don't feel completely right in the head.  (Uhhh, no comments from the peanut gallery.  LOL).

I still have 1 of the 2 drains, which is a necessary pain in the butt, but hopefully it's going to come out in the next day or so.  I. Can't. Wait.  A little of the swelling has gone down and I'm starting to see some shape shifting happening... in a good way. 

This weekend, Cassie had a triathlon at COMBAT (College of the Mainland Bay Area Triathlon) on Saturday.  This was her first adult race; she competed as part of a relay team.  Cassie, MH and her Coach Evan from NextGen were on her team.  They got 2nd place on the mixed relay.  I can't tell you how proud I get when my little girl faces her nerves and crushes it!  She was a little nervous swimming between the adults, but she did it anyway.  She got a little hung-up behind a long stream of slow swimmers, but finished her 300m in 5:50-ish.  She even managed to navigate around 1 or two athletes.  :)

I did volunteer, but took it very easy.  I was a place holder for missing athletes on the swim start -- Just had to stand around and enjoy the company of my fellow triathletes.

Here's some pics from the race. 
Cassie on the Swim exit, sprinting to Transition. :)

Coach Evan (Bike), MH (Run) and Cassie (Swim), pre-race


Sunday wasn't much of anything.  More errands, Cassie had a girl scout party, and I had NextGen.  Again nothing strenuous -- just more standing around.  LOL

However Sunday we decided to make some changes at home, which all started with a plumbing issue on the second floor, causing a leak in the ceiling in our office on the first floor (over my desk, even!). 

So in trying to come up with creative ways to balance training, I need a place to easily setup my computrainer. A space that is somewhat private and somewhat free from "Mommy, can you...?"  Early morning rides during the week are going to be key for me to keep balance.  We decided that our office needed to move and that we would transform it into our Pain Cave!  It will be far enough from the bedrooms to keep stay quiet for those in the house NOT training for Ironman. LOL

So we got rid of our guest room, moved the play room to the guest room (Cassie is loving the door and privacy -- wouldn't every 8 year old?).  We moved the office to the old play room, leaving the old office for the Pain Cave.  I want to make that room so inspiring that no one could walk into it without wanting to be better when they walk out of it! It's going to be a fun project.  Cassie has already made me a poster with flaming skulls on it!  Haha!  Plus there will be room for 2+ bikes, so Darren can even ride with me!  Of course in all this, I say "we".  By "we", of course I mean that I pretty much just supervised; Darren and "TB" (Training Buddy) came by and helped Darren move everything.

Another day further along. :)


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Ironman?


From my very first tri experience at 300 lbs, a relay team at the Austin Danskin more than 10 years ago, I fell hard for the camaraderie of the sport.  165 lbs. later, when I became a strong enough athlete to race individually, that feeling of crossing the Finish was simply satisfying.  I chose a goal, planned, prepared, executed and succeeded.  How can that not feel good?

Every time you do something you know is good, it makes you feel better about yourself. 

But sometimes you have to choose goals so big that they scare the snot out you, and that in it of itself keeps you focused.  I had never done a sprint before!  You can bet I was training.  First Olympic? Trained my butt off for it.  First 70.3 -- training was a religion for me!  Through all that training I stayed focused on a goal and my body and mind reaped the benefits.  Because for me, it is far more exciting to train for a triathlon, than head to 24 Hour Fitness for a "body pump" class every Saturday morning.  No offense body pumpers!  It's just not for me.

So there's that... I just love the idea of multisport, like others love fishing or baseball. 

In later years though, as I seek some inner-healing, I see Triathlon as a practice in vulnerability and see how it builds courage.  Each training session, each race, I push myself to see how far I can go.  How deep I can really dig.  Yet, I've never really let-go enough to really push my limits. I worked hard of course, but fear always made me hold something back. I never raced with reckless abandon or like no one was watching me.

Hello Fear,
Nice to meet you.
I will prove you are a liar.
Love,
Donna

It does take the vulnerability to go out there lycra-clad when I feel shame that my body is so imperfect. I would worry I am so slow to finish that even the cold pizza is gone when I cross the line.  Maybe I possibly feel like a hypocrite, because after all that I've been through, my body is still not at a healthy weight.  I felt as if onlookers were being repulsed by my body, snickering, wondering why I am even bothering with race?  Or worse, do they feel sorry for me?

In the past, when I received encouragement on the course, it used to fill me with anger.  I was not even capable to receive the joy that should come when someone says, 'Great job, Girl!"  I would sometimes get angry, because how dare they they assume they know my story?  "I know I'm going to finish... I always finish -- they don't have to tell me!"  "They don't know my story!" I used to think.

With every race though, I get better.  Better and better and accepting encouragement for it's  priceless value.  Racing today is definitely more joyful, now that I am better at appreciating the fact I have the choice to  do this!  If I were stuck in a wheel chair or didn't have legs it would be an even greater challenge.  I am healthy and can move on my own will and for that I am truly grateful.  Being grateful is necessary to experience joy.

So it seems the last few years have been lesson in understanding myself, receiving receiving joy and appreciating encouragement  and accepting positive words from others.  It's made everything a richer experience.  I have a small village to thank for this part, in particular, all of my coaches, past and present, who treated me like every other athlete out there, and while I wasn't the best, they see the desire in me. 

It was not until this last year though that I had a break-through.  This will seem trivial to some, but I never did the run in a tri without a running skirt.  I wore a skirt to hide my pannus (that hanging abdominal flap I just had removed).  I did it once, then twice last year, and then again at my most recent race... even after I knew I put on 15 pounds over the Winter!  Vulnerability completely exposed.  I owned my story.  No one even noticed.  Shame erased.  Courage tick marked on the board.

Shame can't prevail when you own your story and overcome your vulnerability.  Courage is built.

I am very happy it happened prior to my skin removal. 

I have so many recordings in my head from childhood about everything I couldn't do because of my weight.  Can't dance, can't sing, can't play sports, won't find a job. You shouldn't do that because..

And hey, I know they were just advising me out of love and educating me as to the harsh realities of the real world, but who knew 35 years later these recordings would still be clamoring through my head, limiting me in various facets of life.  

Though I am slightly better today, there is still much shame inside me about my body.  What I've done to myself, what's been done to me, what it's kept me from doing in my life.  And despite doing some pretty amazing things, I've never totally exposed myself. It's as if I've "gotten away" with something in the game of life.  I don't want to "get away" with stuff any longer. I want to live BIG!

Ironman is such a BFG (big F'n Goal) that I will have no choice;  I will be vulnerable to what comes that day. I won't be able to escape it. I won't be able to get away with anything to get through it.  On race day it's just me and the BFG facing off.  I want to learn I can be vulnerable without it meaning weakness, and from that vulnerability, grow the courage to no longer believe those recordings in my head -- because frankly, if only 1% of the nation finishes Ironman, that data proves enough to me. :)

I want to own and know that space between pushing my limits and cratering.  I want to know what I'm capable of; if I prove it to myself, I will never allow anyone to make me feel otherwise.  The moment I cross that Finish, that space becomes clean for me.  Sacred.  I will know and own my story and defend myself proudly.

What if I don't finish?  I can't even visualize that happening.  Seriously, I can't, even if I try. 

Coach said something a long time ago which stuck with me about how athletes who dive into training head-over-heels and lose their sights for anything else in life are running away from something. 
I've often thought about it; why do I want to do 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running?  I mean, I'm not even a big fan of running!

I realize that for me, I am actually running towards something. Something good.  I've chosen a goal so big that it will force me to become more of who I want to be and expose who I already am.

I know I did not choose this path. As sure as I love my Husband and Daughter, I know I am being led down this path, and it would be ridiculous to dispute the order of events in my life over the last two years. Because really... who *chooses* Ironman?

I've been training for Ironman since that relay at Danskin.  It's been a long and bumpy road with many obstacles, but I am still on the path.  This accomplishment will prove what I what I have been trying to teach myself to believe -- I am enough.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A-ha!

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat." 

Roosevelt 


A-freakin'-ha.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Post-op Soul Searching


"Loving ourselves through the process of owning our own story, is the bravest thing you'll do."

 Brene' Brown

So I'm 5 days out from my, what I am going to call, "reconstructive" surgery.  I don't consider what I had done cosmetic.  Yes, looking better, while only relative in my case, is a nice benefit, not to be lifting my pannus each step on a run and revolution on my bike, or even just the daily routine walking up the stairs is a gift.

What did I have done?  After losing 165 lbs, I had my pannus (a large deflated flap of skin that hangs low over the pubic area, from under the belly-button) removed by an extended abdominoplasty, arm lift and lipo on the hips and trunk.

No, the procedures did not magically make me look like Barbie -- I'm still a sturdy woman and will always be; I still have weight to lose and work to do, but having these procedures will help those processes in many ways.  

Trust me when I say this was not an easy choice, and most definitely not easy to go through -- and I'm a self-proclaimed tough-chick.  I've felt a gamut of emotions through all this, which is, and is not terribly surprising at the same time.

After being home 24 hours, I look in the mirror and wonder, "What did I do to my body?"  I look like a cartoon super-hero in shape; small where the pannus was removed, but larger on top where I'm most swollen.  They say swelling will remain for 3 months and to not assume that what you see is the final result.  My two goals were pannus removal (check!) and not look malformed (here's hoping, but right now I look like Superman."  I'm over that hump now and feel much more positive.  :)

I've shared a bit about my own story on my blog which goes back more than 10 years now -- and I had a blog before Blogger was a twinkle in some geek's mind.  I've always used my blog to process and work on healing past experiences.  Going through this change with my body is prompting me to keep working on the emotional stuff.

I've gotten away from that process in the last few years.  Triathlon is important to me, but my mental well-being, the ability to love myself and others, self-acceptance, confidence and peace are all more important.  Since I'm targeting Ironman Florida in 2014, I figure getting my head right is in good order, so I'm going to go back to what works for me.  Blogging.  

To know real courage is to be vulnerable.  I'm going to do just that.  It sucks and it's hard.  Despite knowing some friends in "real life" read this blog, I'm going to go ahead and ask them to respectful of me and the content.  Blogging, in a strange way, still feels somewhat anonymous.  I used to feel comfortable journaling about more thoughtful, emotional issues that are important to my well-being.  For me, putting it in words makes it visual and therefore I process better.

My story in a nutshell? 

I'm a 45 year old wife, to Darren and Mom to Cassie (8 years old).  Born in the Bronx to my Mom and a "Bio-Dad" having a teen pregnancy.  Later, Mom married who I always knew as my "Dad" and then we moved to NJ where I was raised.  Parents divorced, Mom and Dad each remarried.  Dad is an alcoholic.  Mom was a workaholic.  At 14 I found out my Dad wasn't my "real" Dad.  I was very close to my Grandmother (passed on in '96).  I have a younger Sister and Brother. 

I grew-up in a Dance Studio run by my Mother and step-dad. I struggled with my weight from childhood, and while I enjoyed dance, I didn't dance just for pleasure.  I understand now that continued to dance to earn my Mother's approval and acceptance, in the way she accepted my Sister and her students.  She didn't have any interest in my playing sports, so I kept Dancing.  Of course that never went far, because of my weight -- it was a constant battle between us and I just got bigger and bigger.  Even at my lowest weight I was "normal" but didn't even see it, because in the Dance world I was practically ridiculous for even attending class.  I was an embarrassment to my Mother and pulled from shows where I landed lead roles because my Mother was trying to motivate me to lose weight.  Years later I understand that my Mother wasn't capable of having any interests, other than Dance.  It was never about me. Dance was quite literally her life.

Other things happened in my Childhood that weren't so kind; suffice it to say they were the kinds of things that when they happen to you as a child, they quite literally change the person you were going to become.

I married my best-friend in my early 20's and we were divorced 3 years time.  He was alcoholic.  I stuck around for 3 attempts at rehab, and once drugs came into the picture, I left and never turned back.

I moved to Texas in 1996 for a clean slate.  Fell into a fast and furious relationship that ended 3 months after arriving, but looking back it was a good thing -- I learned much about myself in that time, and this is probably just about the time I realized I needed to so some soul searching  and healing to deal with everything else.

I met my Husband, Darren, my biggest cheerleader, in 1998 and we've been together ever since.  I don't know for sure how he puts up with me sometimes, but he does and I swear he loves that I am tough and don't give-up easily.  He understands I'm a work-in-process and is by far the most patient and loving person I know. Most of the time we balance one another; my kray-kray to his laid-back.  We were blessed with our Daughter Cassie 8 years ago and won't be able to have anymore kiddos, but she is amazing, so why rock perfection, right?

In 2006 I had RNY Gastric bypass, and by most counts have been successful according to statistics.  I didn't lose enough weight to get to that "normal" BMI, but I am no longer an Insulin dependent Diabetic.  Instead, now I am a strong athlete with a resting heart rate of 49.  It's a race that is never over and I am pretty happy with maintaining a 165 lb loss.  My recent procedures are going to help me finish not only my first Ironman, but also get to that healthy weight.  I have about about 40 lbs. to lose.  :)

In 2007 I did some internet searching and located my Bio-Dad's family, but he was deceased.  I met his mother and a few of my cousins from that part of the family.  I haven't been the best at dealing with them and keeping routine communication -- something else I feel I owe them... an obligation, but I struggle with doing it... there is something that holds me back.

So to wrap up this super-long entry an get on with it, here's what I know for sure:

  •  Just because someone is your "parent" doesn't magically give them the skill set you think they should have.  Until they know better, they can't do better -- and even then they will never fit that image you created in your mind of the kind of parents you longed for since childhood.  
  • Just because someone isn't of your biological family, doesn't preclude them from being your family just the same. 
  • I love my Mother and Father for who they are today, but struggle constantly to understand them.  
  • It was not my fault.  Period. This I know for sure.
  • If you cannot love yourself, you cannot accept love from others.
  • The times I have left myself the most vulnerable have taught me the most courage and strength.
  • Being vulnerable is hard and it sucks.
  • I am enough. I am fully loaded and totally equipment for the path ahead of me.
  • I know my family loves me.  I know I love them.  
  • Be careful what answers you seek.
  • You can be kind to everyone, but you need not befriend everyone.  If they bring nothing of value to a friendship, it's okay to let it (and them) go.  
  • When people show you who they are, the first time, believe them.  NO.  Really, believe them.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people; the kinds of people who lead by example and show you who you want to be. The best friends are the ones that inspire you to be better version of you each and everyday.
  • I know I will finish IMFL in 2014 under 17 hours.   Well, yeah, I had to throw that in there!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Bumpy Roads

I know.  It's been a while.  Too long... a rough few months. 

I've been preoccupied somewhat since December... maybe even a little longer, with some things I didn't want to share yet on my blog.  Good things, but still things that I didn't want to put in print yet, so let's get caught up. :)

So, Winter came and went. The holidays were great, even if I did fall of my Paleo wagon. No... I didn't fall off, let's just say the axel broke!  It's been hard to get back on and string more than a few good days together, but I'm on the right track now.

In December my company was acquired by a private equity group and my dear boss retired -- I absolutely adored her.   The first quarter of 2013 was not great. It's been a very bumpy and unknown ride at work and still is, but I'm navigating much better these days. 

In February my bronther-in-law passed away, unexpectedly, leaving my Sister and 2 nieces behind.  It was very tragic, but I was thankful work let me go home for more than a week to be with them.  It was where I needed to be and I'm so glad I was there.

So, as you can see, lots of life events.  Not stuff I really wanted to blog fully and openly about -- plus it's kinda depressing and boring stuff.  I just couldn't come out to the blog though and not write about it, so I didn't write at all.  Just wasn't inspired... that where the topic of my preoccupation comes in.

So back in August my BFF went to Rivercities Triathlon with me.  She doesn't tri, but she's one of my biggest fans and we got to have some visit time together.  She's not just my BFF, she is a "Sister" to me.  I'd take a bullet for her.  She's been there for me through good and bad since 1997, and is one of the first few people I met when I moved to Texas from NJ.  My Husband calls her my "Normal" friend, because for a while there, every friend I had needed something from me.. and generally more than I could give.  

He thinks she's "normal,"  clearly he's never seen her power-shopping.  :)

Anyhoo, my "Sister" told me she wanted to do something for me.  Something special.  Something she knew I'd never do until Cassie was grown-up and out of college. 

She started the conversation with, telling me how she came upon what I call, REALLY good fortune.  She told me she had some things on a list.  Things she wanted to do for others if she ever came in to a nice windfall of money.

Of course she would... that's how my BFF rolls.  She's good people; the kind that makes others want to be better.  The kind that makes you want to be more of whatever it is she sees in you.  :)

Then she says, "I know your ultimate dream is to do an Ironman..."

Okay, you have my attention. :)

Then she went on to tell  me that she knew my loose skin held me back from achieving my goal any time soon.  Then she drops the bomb.

"I want to give you the money for your  surgery."  "I want to  do this for you."  "I want to help you reach your goal."

"She wants to to what? That's crazy!", I'm thinking in my head. 

I was stunned.  I was speechless.  I teared up.  We talked a more and I got my feet back on the ground.  I have never had anybody *want* to do anything quite so generous for me.  It was quite overwhelming.  I mean, who am I to deserve that kind of thing?  This is the stuff that happens to other people, not me!

Needless to say I thought on it for a few days and discussed it with my Hubs, because my BFF would have it no other way.  I decided to accept her offer and was moving full-steam-ahead.

As with most business deals, things don't always go off without a hitch, and we hit a little obstacle with the funds coming in before my surgery date in December.  I was bummed.  BFF was heart-broken for me and her family.  She'd been dealing with this business mess for a year already.  She promised me it would still happen, but it would be in the future. It broke my heart to hear her so sad about it.

Well, friends, it's happening!  I've waited as long as I could to say anything, but in a less than 2 weeks I will be having my excess skin removed by an extended abdominoplasty and arm lift (I rash really bad when running).  Dr. L says I have 15-20 pounds of loose skin that will be removed. 


So there you have it; the BIG news.  More to follow.

And yeah, I'm signed up to volunteer for Ironman Florida in 2013 -- that only means one thing... guaranteed registration for Ironman Florida in 2014.

All because I have an amazing Husband, Daughter and "Sister" who support my crazy dreams.

Oh yeah... this is a "Hell Yeah!"

It's been quite a bumpy road over the last 6 months, but I'm here now and it's going to be an amazing ride.  Amazing.