Where we say goodbye to Schmidty, part 1

I made it through my surgery on Monday and Schmidty has been forcibly evicted from my body. I’m recovering at home, helped along by an ice pack and a prescription of vicodin. I don’t know what the incision looks like since the bandage that’s in place practically covers my entire breast and as curious as I am to see it, I’m too scared to peel back the bandage so unless it falls off between now and my post-op appointment I’ll have to just wonder about how it looks.

Since this was my first surgery, the days leading up to it was kind of a mystery. I had a ton of questions mostly surrounded around how to prepare, because I like being prepared like a Boy Scout. What can I expect the day of? What about pain meds? Will I be prescribed something or did I need to buy some OTC? And if so, which kind? What kind of anesthesia was I going to have? How “out” was I going to be? When can I play badminton again (yes, badminton. Sounds weird and random but I decided to play again. Two weeks before my surgery. I never said my timing was the greatest)? What do I wear? I mean, what was I supposed to wear? I couldn’t imagine wanting to zip up a pair of jeans afterwards and dressing super cute seemed a bit misguided. So I did the logical thing: I Googled “what to wear to surgery” which helped me to relax about the one thing I could control: what I wore.

I traded a few emails with my surgeon and discussed a few more of my questions with the anesthesiologist who assured me that I would not see or feel anything. Apparently the setup would be similar to what was shown in that clip from 90210, with a curtain like thing separating my head from the rest of my body so I wouldn’t be able to actually watch what happened. My goal was to get my medication and then wake up in recovery like I did when I got my wisdom teeth pulled. The anesthesiologist said that was what would most likely happen.

I received my appointment time last Wednesday, yes, right before Thanksgiving, and was given this list of things to bring/do that was basically the same as the lists I had previously Googled:

1. Bring my medical card and photo ID
2. Bring a method of payment
3. Come completely natural: no makeup, lotion, deodorant, nail polish, etc
4. Leave valuables at home (no jewelry, including piercings)
5. Wear something comfortable
6. Do not eat or drink after midnight (because I’m a gremlin?). This includes gum and candy. If I needed to take any medication the day of surgery, I can take them with a sip of water. And they are totally not kidding about the sip.

All that was left at this point was to sit and wait. My mom would be taking me to the hospital the day of and based on my prior conversations with the surgeon, this would be an out-patient surgery so I estimated I’d be there for about 5-6 hours before coming back home. Easy peasy right? A few people asked me if I was nervous or scared and I honestly didn’t feel much of anything. I wasn’t nervous or scared because, well, I knew things would turn out fine and it was something that needed to be taken cared of anyway. I had prayed about it on my own and again the Sunday before with my Pastor and felt covered. To be honest, I was kind of weirdly looking forward to it. I don’t know why but that is kind of within character for me. Who looks forward to getting cut and stitched back up? Why can’t I be normal?!

You’ve grown on me…

I don’t remember when I first happened upon the lump in my breast but I do remember waiting a bit before finally getting checked out. Silly, yes, especially considering what we know about the risks of breast cancer and what not, but I think I was a bit afraid of what it could be and kind of told myself it wasn’t a big deal. I did such a great job that I forgot it was there.

It wasn’t until two years ago, that my current doctor noticed the lump and finally made me confront the issue. She was fairly certain it was only a fibroademona, a benign tumor, and scheduled me for a fine-needle aspiration to see if her assumption was correct. My appointment was scheduled the day Michael Jackson died. Freaky, eh? So whenever someone asks me where I was when I heard the news, I get to say I was on my way to get a needle stuck in my breast. Yay! Anywho, the biopsy wasn’t too bad. The doctor was older and very to the point, swooping in to stick a skinny little needle into the lump and give me his preliminary diagnosis (a fibroadenoma) and reassure me that it wasn’t cancer, won’t turn into cancer, and didn’t occur because I was hit really hard in my breast (really? That was an option?) before slapping on a band-aid, handing me a pamphlet (“So You Have a Fibroadenoma…” totally kidding, I don’t remember the name of the pamphlet), and sending me on my merry way.

Up until this point, my only other exposure to a fibroadenoma was a “very special episode” of Beverly Hills 90210:

I will go through everything that is wrong with this depiction in a future post. Possibly with John Madden like telestrations. Oh yes I maybe will!

I had a few questions: what did this mean? How did it get there? What do I do now? Why does Wikipedia refer to them as “breast mice?” WTH, why are there mice in my boobs?! My options for treatment was either take a “wait and see” approach or opt for removal. I picked the path of least resistance (and admittedly, the easier choice of the two) and kept an eye (or hand…hehe) on it. Fast forward to September of this year and the bf started asking questions about it, seemingly concerned about its apparent growth and my disturbingly nonchalant attitude. With his prodding, I returned to my doctor who repeated her concerns with the growth and scheduled me for an ultrasound.

This is where things flipped into light speed: My OB-GYN appointment was on a Friday. She scheduled my ultrasound for three hours(!) later, where the ultrasound tech and doctor¬†both¬†didn’t like what they saw and requested a surgery consult, which ended up being scheduled the following Monday. There, I had a core needle biopsy for a final test to make sure nothing’s changed. I received the test results a day or so later and ended with a tentatively scheduled surgery for its removal (apparently they like to remove them when it’s 4cm long. Mine was 5cm. Even my tumors are over-achievers!). A week later I was back in for a pre-op consult where we discussed the procedure and possible complications, two weeks after that I was back to do some blood work for my labs, including a mandatory pregnancy test (I was really tempted to text the bf, “Guess what? I’m NOT pregnant!” but I figured my humor might not go over too well) and a few days after that, spoke with the anesthesiologist about what to expect for surgery.

The thought of having surgery is a little daunting to wrap my mind around. Of course there is the obvious, cosmetic concerns: the scarring, how will my breast look post-surgery (I’m not that well-endowed and at this point, the lump (ooh, double brackets! Anyway, I’ve resisted the urge to name the lump but I can’t hold out any longer: I shall call him “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,” but I think I’ll call him Schmidty for short) makes up a small chunk of my breast) and the really important concerns: will I lose feeling in that nipple? Will I be able to breastfeed normally post-surgery. Both of those latter questions are unknowns. It really just depends and I’m the first person the surgeon’s operated on that hasn’t already had kids so up until this point, he hasn’t come across that concern before. Dammit Schmidty!

Oh yeah, that name just paid for itself. IT’S GOLD!

But I’m confident in God that everything will be just fine. I’m covered by Him and will all turn out well. I’m already blessed that it’s not cancer! So hey, point for me.

There’s so much more to say but I won’t say it all now because that would make this one insanely long post about my breast and that’s kind of weird. But I do plan on sharing more of my experience as things wrap up because it’s a narrative that should be shared. So get prepared to know more than you ever needed to know about my boob.

Boom.

And then I was running…

Way back in March (I think, I don’t really remember and I don’t feel like going back through my archives though I probably will anyway because I’m annoyingly accurate like that) or something, I was talked into signing up for 10k distance in The Giant Race. Okay, so I wasn’t really talked into it. It was merely suggested, I halfheartedly hemmed and hawed even though I was already considering doing one, just not right now, and eventually gave in, since I was already thinking of doing one eventually anyway.

Interesting sidebar: I’m notoriously stubborn and it’s pretty hard to convince me to do something unless I’m already leaning that way. Then if anything goes wrong, I can blame it on the other person.

Anywho, so I set out training in preparation of this 10k (or 6.2 miles of delusional hopefulness, however you want to describe it) and felt pretty good about my chances. I did manage to hit 5.5 miles once back in May, I think? I was on a high. I WAS RUNNING!

Aaaaaaaaand then things started going downhill from there.

My training scheduled sputtered, taking days off while the boyfriend was visiting and then again to make the trip down south for Lindsey’s graduation. From there I was pretty unpredictable with my running. Some weeks I’d hit all of my scheduled run days and others I just couldn’t pay myself to think about slipping into my shoes to run. As a result, my stamina dropped back to the my January levels and I was suddenly struggling to hit 2 miles before needing to stop to walk. After finally getting back up to 3 miles, I flew off to Seattle. Basically, I sucked at training. It was hard and I was frustrated with myself and my seemingly turtle-like progress.

How was I ever going to run 6.2 miles if I could barely huff and puff my way through 3? That goal seemed so hard, so far and unreachable. Eventually I convinced myself that it didn’t matter if I ran the entire distance; just that I finish. There are some marathoners that have to walk part of the race but they still ran a marathon. And so I eased up on myself and gave myself permission to walk if I needed to so long as I ran across the finish line. I was feeling good about my decision. Great, even. Then I stopped running. The entire two weeks leading up to the race. Because I am a GENIUS!!

Race day arrived and I was a ball of nerves but okay since I was okay with walking. I woke up, headed out, and then proceeded to get stuck in traffic less than a mile away from the parking lot. My pre-race jitters turned to “Am I going to make the start?” jitters. I was completely stressed but felt better seeing other runners running towards the starting gate too. Thankfully I was set to start towards the end of the pack anyway with a sub-10 mile time, I was able to make it just fine. With my iPod playing, I relaxed into my race and just kept running.

I was able to keep a comfortable pace (about 12 minutes per mile) and just focused on enjoying the run. I tried not to look for the mile markers because I figured I’d start to tire once I knew how far I ran but next thing I knew, I was at the split and then sometime later I passed the 4 mile mark. I was surprised but felt really good so I kept running. Then I past the 5 mile mark and I realized I was almost done and I had ran every mile so far, and since I was only a mile and some change out, I HAD to keep running. And so I did. The adrenaline started pumping and I couldn’t stop smiling and all I wanted to do was high five everyone I passed along the way.

People, I ran the entire 6.2 miles of delusional hopefulness. I still can’t believe I managed that but I did. And it was amazing. Sure all of my race course photos look like I’m walking and I was suffering from the post-race euphoria, as evidenced by this tweet:

10k tweet

But I was so proud of myself. Even though I barely trained, I still showed up and gave it my best. Plus I accomplished something I know I’ll look back on and be proud of (it also doesn’t hurt that I finished in 1:21:21, under my personal goal of 1:30:00!). Needless to say, I’m looking forward to my next race, whatever that will be. And I’m totally open to running another 10k. It’s a great step towards eventually tackling that half marathon one day. One day.

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This is the look of accomplishment. Or possibly delusion.
Kind of weird how it’s the same expression, huh?

When a run turns into a hike

You know that quote about golf? How it’s a “good walk spoiled”? Yeah, that’s how I felt about this last 5k race I ran. What was a beautiful course was spoiled by hills. Oh the hills!

So last weekend I took to the park for my first trail run ever. This one was organized by the Brazen Racing group, who organizes a few races throughout the year that, from what I can tell, are well-attended, and held at Wildcat Canyon Regional Park in El Sobrante. Have you done a trail run? They are a completely different animal with all the unpaved and uneven walking trails and hils. While I have ran a handful of hills on my weekly runs, I was still worried about translating my paved road running experience into trail running. Plus, I was running completely blind in that I did not go before the race to check out the course. I pretty much showed up hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.

My Plan B was pretty simple: walk up the hills and run down them. Things were going well until I realized that I couldn’t really run down the hills for the most part because they were uneven, it was difficult to gain a solid footing, and one of the inclines was pretty steep [here’s the elevation profile]. I almost rolled my ankle a few times so I had to slow down and fast walk down instead. It was a bit frustrating to my competitive nature but I had to constantly remind myself that it was okay to take my time; it was the smart thing to do to avoid injury and potentially jeopardizing my training for the 10k in the short term, and my overall ability to run well into the future.

So how was it? Here is the Wildcat Canyon 5k in 3 acts:

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Act 1: Survived the first hill and I’m FINALLY running!

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Act 2: OMG. I’m going to die. Are they serious with these hills?!

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Act 3: I DID IT!!

In all actuality, I did have fun on this race. Yes it was an incredible challenge and I probably was only able to run a mile of it TOTAL but I was able to enjoy some amazing views of the bay, views like this:

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Total bonus: they had It’s-It ice cream sandwiches as part of their post-run refreshments. So what if I just suffered through a 3.1 mile hike disguised as a run that had me digging my hands into my waist while huffing and puffing my way up the inclines as if that would make it any easier to push my way up the hill while simultaneously cursing myself for thinking I could do this [even though I did], I was excited that I got to reward myself with ice cream. At 9:30 in the morning.

Hells yeah!

*All photos courtesy of Brazen Racing volunteer photographers