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Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

Sorry for the delay in getting a “health update” out there. I’ve been so darned busy with all the normal daily activities of life (and so very grateful to be able to say that!) that the blog took a backseat for a bit!

I saw my surgeon, Dr. Brown, for a follow-up visit (can you believe it’s been 3 months since my colon surgery?) and he said I was doing great. There’s still a little “tightness” where the incisions are, but that’s normal and will soften over time. I also still have a tiny bit of “seepage” but it’s fairly minor and should also go away with time.

The only disappointing bit of news is that he wants me to see a urologist now. It seems when they remove the rectum, it leaves the pelvic floor unsupported for a while, until the organs and tissue shift around and fill in the space. So, he now thinks it’s possible that my bladder has “tipped” slightly (as things are rearranging themselves and vying for space in my abdomen), and this could be what is creating some newer symptoms I’m having. (I swear, I absolutely DID NOT go through the challenge of colon surgery and having to adjust to life with a colostomy only to end up with urinary incontinence! Not at 48!) So, we’ll just see what this next specialist has to say about things. Dr. Brown is referring me to a woman urologist, someone he felt I would “really like.” Uh-huh.

Meanwhile, I’m on my third round of Xeloda since starting back on chemo in January. I’m sorry to note the side effects are building with each round. The main thing is I get suddenly fatigued without warning. Sometimes I’m able to push through it and other times I just have to lie down and nap for a while. Often though, by the time I should be thinking about going to bed for the night, I’m finally wide awake and not so tired anymore. So, it makes for an odd rhythm to my days.

another chemo side effect

Another side effect – one my oncologist checked for at each office visit during last fall’s treatment, but which never happened then – is a skin problem with the palms of my hands and soles of my feet. The skin is slowly getting redder and redder, and it feels very “papery” – as if it will crack easily, which it does. It’s not terribly painful, but I can tell it’s getting a bit worse with each dose of Xeloda. So, I’m constantly slathering on various moisturizers, including a nightly coat of Bag Balm and wearing little white cotton gloves to bed. Very charming.

Got Moisturizer?

I’m due to see Dr. Fekrazad on Wednesday. I’m sure we’ll discuss all of this and more. I believe he’s going to order another ultrasound on my arm that had the blood clots. If they’re still gone (fingers crossed!) I’ll be able to stop giving myself the nightly shot of Lovenox. My belly will be very happy about that as the bruises from being poked so regularly are starting to seem permanent!

In the way of happy news: I’ve been back to yoga class a few times. I’ve felt well enough to take an hour-and-a-half long class for level 1 and 2 students. My sweet teacher, Linda, has been very encouraging, telling me I’m doing great. She said I still have good balance and even some of my former flexibility, but I really need to build my strength up again (she gently mentioned my skinny arms are like “little bird legs…”). However, I did manage a nice head stand – my first time doing any kind of inversion in about eight months. It was a little disorienting and I was nervous about my colostomy “voicing its opinion” about being upside-down, but thankfully it stayed quite for the minute or so that I was balancing on my head.

I’ll report in again after Wednesday’s appointment at the Cancer Center.  For now, I’m off to try to get some rest…

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If I’m not careful, you guys will start to think all I do these days is go out and enjoy myself. OK, it’s true for most of this past week. I’ve had four very fun things take place:

1. I attended a yoga workshop! My teacher, Linda Spackman, called to invite me to a two-hour workshop she was giving on the Yoga Sutras. She felt it was tailor made for me to ease back into practicing. She was so right! We spent most of the class discussing ten of the sutras about cultivating clarity in the mind, then doing some breath work, some meditation, and about 15 minutes of gentle yoga postures.  Oh, they felt so good! (I was humbled to discover I couldn’t touch my toes or get my heels to the floor in downward-facing dog…but it’ll all come back in time.) Yoga! Such good stuff!

Frank Murphy's lovely book "The Spirit of Tea"

2. I was invited to afternoon tea with Frank Murphy, author of The Spirit of Tea, and photographer Kitty Leaken, who is now working on a book on tea rooms. We met at Reposo at the St. Francis Hotel where we enjoyed beautifully prepared Chinese teas (Kitty and I each had Oolong while Frank chose White tea). As luck would have it, I recently finished reading Frank’s book, so I could at least speak intelligently with him about it! But I was surprised to find him picking my brain about the tea business when he is one of the few folks who have actually completed the training of the American Tea Masters Association. It was quite an honor to meet him. I have Kitty to thank for the introduction to Frank and for including me in such a pleasant afternoon with two generous and artistic souls.

3. I splurged on a handmade reconstructed sweater from Etsy artist Jill2day. I’ve been slowly transitioning my wardrobe away from the fitted tops I’ve usually worn (they make me uncomfortably aware of my colostomy now) to more loose, flowing tops. I saw this gorgeous garment on Jill’s Etsy site and immediately placed it on my “favorites” list. For over a month I kept going back and ogling it. Then I read more about Jill and her work in an article on Etsy’s blog, which enticed me further. And, one day recently, I found there was enough money in my PayPal account – so I bought it!! I must say, it’s much more beautiful in person (and exceptionally well constructed) than the photo shows. Sooo, what do you think of my new look?

My "new" reconstructed artsy sweater

4. I went to a Women’s Workshop with my mom that was held this morning at her church. The topics presented were: self care, balance, and boundaries. All stuff I’ve had no choice but to work on over the past six months! Much of the workshop was a good reminder that when we’re not taking care of ourselves first, we’re not likely to be much good for others. I was glad to be there with my mother (who, in this daughter’s opinion, could stand a little more practice in the way of self care, balance and boundaries…I’m just sayin’…).

So, it’s been a heady week full of several themes I’m pretty passionate about: yoga, tea, creative expression and taking good care of oneself. That leads me to encourage you all to take time to find joy in something you’re passionate about, too. I know this much: it’s good for your well being.

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