Friday, March 30, 2012

Should this happen?

To end my month of March hiatus I signed up for my first ever "professional" massage. I was so looking forward to this but also quite apprehensive. I never thought I would have the courage to have a massage because of my surgeries. An uncomfortable position for someone that has had to have a mastectomy. I decided to treat myself to this hoping for some relief from both the physical and emotional stresses of day to day life right now.

What I did not expect was to be turned away from having my massage today because I have cancer.  I was asked to fill out a few pages of paper work and sign a waiver, which I did. However, when we discussed my cancer she told me she would not be able to give me a massage since I have cancer, that  they were taught there is a risk of spreading the cancer from massage therapy. I believe its from stimulating the lymph system. Even though I am considered NED ( no evidence of disease),  I am actively in treatment, I would need a doctors note with permission to have a massage.I felt humiliated, sad, disappointed and like I wanted to run out of the building!

The massage therapist was nice and was not rude to me at all. 
She's just following protocol and looking out for my best interest. She did say I could get a note from my Onc and come back.It was just hard to hear and caught me off guard which was embarrassing. The situation was just difficult.

 I am a bit torn here. As a Personal Trainer, I too can refuse to train someone if I feel there is too great a risk, and require a doctors note if I feel it is necessary. So, I understand that. At the same time, I can't help but feel  I should be able to sign the waiver, understand the risk, and make the decision myself.
  • When I just spoke with my nurse after I got home, she said it does happen sometimes ( that people are turned away). The massage therapists are afraid of spread, braking bones and lymphodema.She said, next time just get a note from my Onc. and it would be fine. I told her I wasn't feeling very "massagy" anymore. My hubby told me "  The best massages are here at home anyways. You would have been disappointed". I think he's right.
  • We talked about how this situation today may have been prevented. Perhaps some overall health questions on the phone or online before you show up for a massage and have to be told at the last minute " I can't give you a massage if you have cancer".
On the bright side...I kicked it in my spin and yoga classes and after I had a little pity party decided I was not going to let this one thing take away from the great morning I had already had!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

So, How's it going?

The answer is great in some areas and ok in others. Just a few updates from my Month of March Hiatus.

The decompression therapy seems to be going well. I do feel relief in my neck/spine. Last week the chiropractor added more weight (30lbs) from the original 25. Unfortunately,  I did have a headache for the next 3 days, continually. When I went back on Thursday I told him and asked if the weight increase may have caused them to return. He said possibly, lowered the weight and Thursday was better.

However, Friday after working out another HA began and it was a bad one. Lasting until I woke up this morning with pain meds only taking the edge off. It was looking good at first but the HA's seem to be increasing again. None today!

Next steps; probably need to call my neurologist, which I had been holding off on and let him know....there back! I do have a new primary care doc. visit in May. I will try to see if they can get me in sooner. If not, I have been given 3 more PC docs to try by my Onc. nurse. One of them offers acupuncture in his office and I have heard many positive results for HA's using this treatment.

The workouts have been amazing and my energy levels are climbing! My concentration has been on swimming, yoga and cycle class. Loving all 3 so far. With all the surgery and radiation to my upper body, I feel the swimming has absolutely been the best way to build back up strength in this area. I do feel a "heaviness" and weakness in my right arm when I swim but it is manageable.

 Not to mention a few added benefits to joining the health club that are helping with stress and just kind of nice!They have  indoor hot tubs, eucalyptus saunas and a spa that offers everything. My friend came to visit from out of town and we enjoyed all three including a facial, which I have never had :) I use the  eucalyptus  steam sauna after each swim. There also appear to be several health benefits to this as well.

I have seen my little grand-baby boy during the past few weeks, just have not had him all day. He is now 5 and a half months old and just makes me happier than I could have ever imagined. With that, I will leave you with some pics of one little guy who makes me smile with his beautiful big blue eyes and smile.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Month of March and Many Decisions

I have started to write this post two times prior and have just put it away. I have made some decisions and will just simply jot them down and how they are working out so far.

First choice was to take the month of March off from all my teaching, training and even a little break from my "Nonna days". That opened up time for me to concentrate on the changes I felt were absolutely necessary to help me with the continual headaches, fatigue and stress.

My husband and my  counselor Dr. K agreed with this decision and encouraged me to "be kind to yourself". I have realized that from the beginning of the stage 4 diagnosis I have been working so hard at living..moving forward...working..staying healthy...fighting...that it felt wrong to rest, wrong to take a break, wrong to focus on myself at a much deeper level. To assess where I am, what I have gone through for almost 14 years, and where to go from here. Quite frankly, I had become exhausted!

Not only were my doc's, family and friends very were all my clients I train. I was worried about putting our classes on hold for a month. I am very appreciative of them, their prayers and support.

After step one to put a month aside it was time for step two. The headaches, which led to even more fatigue, a lot of sleeping and medication for pain and yes, depression. This was NOT a fun cycle! I was really starting to feel "sick" and knew I was sinking into a hole that I had to dig out of. When you are constantly living with pain it becomes so hard to get through day to day. Especially when you live, or are trying to live an active life. On the last day of my GroupFit class everyone looked at me and said "you have another headache don't you"? I asked "how do you know that"? They said "we can see it in your eyes", you are doing a good job of covering it up, but we can tell".
I think that was one of the turning points for me that I realized I  had to deal with this.

I made an appointment with a primary care doc to help me manage all this. I have only been under the care of specialists for the past 4 1/2 years. I felt she had some great suggestions for me. However, I also got the impression she saw my life as very "short term". I thought and prayed about it and decided I need to move on and find someone that is on the same page as me, my family, friends and other docs. Someone that will help me live a life with HOPE for a very long future. So, the search continues and I have another primary care doc. lined up in May.

I had been holding on to a chiropractors name and number given to me by Dr. K. I felt comfortable and trusted his recommendation. This visit went much better! He went over my MRI reports with me which show disk protrusions and spinal stenosis in a few areas. This is NOT the same area the cancer had been in my spine but is causing quite a bit of pain. He said it may very well be causing the headaches/ migraines. So, I have begun spinal decompression therapy. I will write more on it in another post but it seems to be working so far!

Next step, I joined a health club. Yes, I am a personal trainer and yes I have a home gym. But, I felt I needed to take some time to be the student, to take the classes, to have some one on one with other trainers and mostly to get stronger again.  I have gone back to swimming, and have missed this tremendously!  It is so much easier on my body right now. By day 2 back in the pool I swam a 1/2 mile and was happy with that. I have some goals I am working towards and will keep an update on that as well.
I have begun a yoga class and love it!  I am feeling stronger and the stress relief from that class makes me want to go every single day.
 All this  is helping tremendously with stress, energy and feeling stronger in areas I was feeling very weak.
I did meet with a personal trainer and have a greater appreciation for my clients who show up nervous and excited on day one and have to face where they REALLY are with their health and fitness. For health purposes I am within "normal" ranges. However, I am neither happy or comfortable with my Fit Point results. Yes, this is the trainer and marathon runner in me coming out. So, in time I plan to work back to where I was or as close to it as i can. IN TIME.

It is March 12th and these changes have reduced the headaches by about 85/90 %, which is huge! My energy and spirits are both up and I look forward to each day once again. For now, this is where I am and hope to continue well on this journey of "living life with stage 4 metastatic cancer" while running, swimming, breathing and being kind to myself.


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