Thursday, June 27, 2013

Calm Amidst the Storm

There is a lightness today, a feeling I hadn't known for awhile. Two weeks and two days to be exact.  My daughter had surgery to remove a tumor from her femur on June 10. Since then it has been a waiting game. Waiting. It is the worst. Especially when cancer or no cancer is in the balance. And the person at the center of it is my child.

The surgery went well, and the surgeon was able to remove the tumor by arthroscopic means. She has 4 small holes, and since there was no incision her recovery will be relatively short. The surgeon advised  us the tissue would be sent to pathology and we would have the results in 3 to 5 days.

By Friday, when I hadn't received a phone call I called the office and spoke to the surgeon's assistant. I learned the results from the pathology had come back and the pathologist and the surgeon agreed it needed to be sent to The Mayo Clinic for further evaluation. I'm not going to lie. It was like a kick to the stomach. Not what a parent wants to hear. I felt panic rise like heat from within.

But then a strange thing happened which surprised even me. I was able to pacify myself and did not fall apart. This is quite a revelation as in the past I have been known to fall apart at the slightest provocation. But today I am stronger. I find that I am able to take things as they come. I've finally been able to adopt the attitude of "why worry before I know something concrete". Today I deal in facts and not "Oh my gosh, what if?"s. This means freedom, as worry is nothing but a burden. I put the unknown in God's hands.

This morning we heard from the doctor and were told the tumor was completely benign. Even though I hadn't been a worried mess, a huge sensation of relief washed over me. Only then did I allow myself to feel the gravity of the situation. And then I let it go. It was replaced by sheer joy that my baby was completely fine.

It feels pretty damn good to have faced a seemingly earth shattering event at face value.  I put facts around it.  And, unlike my former self, instead of focusing on the possible gloomy outcome I focused instead on being positive.  The surgeon believed from the moment we met with him that it appeared benign. In my mind I acted "as if". In my heart the tumor was benign. And I set my intention to that unless I was told differently.

What will be will be.

Taking this stance allowed me to be a calming influence on my daughter instead of a basket case.  She didn't need a frazzled mom.  She needed a mom to tell her everything was going to be alright. So I believed it was all going to be alright and that's what I conveyed to her.  She believed.

Hand in hand our family walked gracefully through this event.  And through it all we grew.  I saw her brother show genuine love and caring for his sister. None of the usual sibling bickering occurred. And her Dad softened.  Patience was the emotion du jour. Love was abound and we all rallied together.

My daughter is pretty amazing.  And pretty healthy.  And we are all extremely grateful.

She returns to work tomorrow morning.  6:00am. Guess who's driving her there?!  I'm trying to get into gratitude about that and my 5:30am wake up call.  I suppose this is my cue to say goodnight.

Peace xoxo

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Humbled Cyclist

Something has been up with my cycling mojo, and last week wasn't good.  I was off my game.  Granted, there was a lot going on and I was preoccupied with my daughter, but cycling always grounds me.  This being said, my riding performance last week was humbling to say the least. I fell down on three successive rides. The falls were not graceful and were not in some grandiose or exciting fashion such as a dramatic crash, a pothole or an errant animal darting out in front of me. No...I've fallen over while completely stopped or coming up to a stop.

Now, I've heard that a successful blogger is able to poke fun at themselves, well I suppose this is my time. A little self-deprecating humor is good for the soul. And in this case I just have to laughi!  It's so ridiculous it is really kind of funny.

I know I've mentioned once or twice that my favorite discipline in multi sport is to ride my bike. The bike leg of a triathlon is always a no brainer, as I enjoy the training. So far this year I have logged 2,900 miles in the saddle.  My goal is to cover 6,000 miles by the end of the year.  This is my fourth year as a serious cyclist. My point? I have enough experience that I should know how to come to a stop without landing on my ass on the pavement!

Last Saturday was the first.  The dawn's dim light greeted me as I loaded my bike and gear into my car.  It was 6:30am and it seemed the rest of the neighborhood was still sleeping. It was eerily quiet, except for the birds singing their morning wake up call.  I hummed along, to a song I had listened to the night before which was stuck in my head. I chuckled to myself as I knew the tune would likely be with me the entire day. It was.  My mood was light and I was looking forward to my weekly group ride.

It was with a group of experienced cyclists whom I've learned a great deal from through the years. I respect them and their ability.  Near the end of the ride we were approaching a 4-way stop, and I shifted to a faster gear in preparation for gaining speed after the intersection.  I literally was not gauging how close I was to the cyclists already stopped and had to stop short while still clipped in to my pedals, leaned the wrong direction and went down.  Everyone rushed to my aid and I could feel the redness creep to my face.  I was mortified. This hadn't happened to me since my beginner days.

The very next day I was riding with a group of triathletes.  Different dynamic, as we ride without drafting.  I was more relaxed than I had been the previous day, as there was no wheel to wheel pace line.  While we still rode in a group, the triathletes were spread out, almost as if each of us was riding solo and in aero position.  Fast.  Just the way I like it! At the 30 mile point, three of us decided to get in some additional mileage and kept riding. About 20 miles later we stopped at a parking lot to refuel and discussed directions home. I was pulling up next to the other ladies thinking about grabbing a Gatorade from a nearby store when BAM....down I went.  WTH??  Again, mortified.  This time a huge bruise and a scrape on my left knee, and a "crunch" sound as my head collided with one of the girls' pedals.  I lay there stupefied, until they helped me up.  What was the matter with me?  Two days in a row!

I  took a few days off from cycling. Monday was a necessary rest day spent with my daughter during and after her surgery.  Tuesday I swam and got a massage, as my neck was painfully stiff.  Wednesday was a swim/run day. Thursday I had a 50 mile ride with two other cyclists planned.  As you can imagine, I hadn't slept well all week and had a dull migraine headache. Still, I was determined to proceed with the ride. We chatted as we prepared to ride.  I put my helmet on then climbed onto my bike. As soon as I clipped in, I leaned the wrong way and went down.  I said out loud "are you honestly, seriously kidding me with this?" I hadn't even gotten out of the parking lot. Hell, I hadn't even started pedaling yet. Blood formed over an immediate bruise on my right knee.  I was going to look lovely in shorts this weekend.

What's that expression...bad things happen in three's?  Am I done with the falling down phase? I vote "yes".

It gave me pause, along with painful scrapes and bruises.  What the heck was my problem?? Was I getting to cocky?  Can girls be cocky?  Hmm....maybe I should call it "over confident" instead.  That sounds a bit more appropriate for a woman.  Perhaps it's a matter of being distracted by my thoughts or lack of balance during the three incidents.  Who knows.  What I do know is it's embarrassing.  Hugely so. To unceremoniously fall on the ground in front of other cyclists.  Not to mention passing motorists. (I know, you're laughing.)   Maybe it's the Universe's way of reining me in and reminding me I'm not invincible.  If that's the case, then I suppose I should be grateful it was three tip overs bruising mainly my ego, and not a horrendous crash.  Knock on the proverbial wood.  I think I've gotten the message.  The Universe has taken this girl's ego down a notch and brought me back to earth where I belong.

Yesterday I had a 100 mile ride planned.  I was nervous as I drove to meet the group.  I arrived and at least 30 cyclists were warming up at the meeting place. Great.  I only had 5 hours of sleep the night before and had eaten less-than-desirable-pre-race-nutrition at a party I had attended. Hot dog with ketchup, mustard and relish (and a bun!!!), cupcakes, etc.  Emphasis on the etc.  Not food I typically fuel my body with.  As a result, I was not feeling very enthusiastic about the ride. I was tired and my tummy hurt. I had the "let's get this out of the way" attitude.

I made it out of the parking lot without falling, and with the group as large as it was we cruised along at 24mph so the adrenaline was kicking.  I am happy to report the ride was fantastic!  Great company, great weather, no Michelle falling down!  Dare I say I have my mojo back?

Going forward I need more sleep, good nutrition and hydration and have to remain vigilant.  As I finish typing this at 12:30am on Sunday, I am hoping it makes sense.

Next time you ride with me, give me wide berth at stop signs.  Hopefully the good mojo is here to stay and I'm back on my game.  Time will tell :)

Two big events coming up:  RAIN (ride across INdiana), July 13, 160 miles in one day.  Terre Haute, IN to Richmond, IN.  I'm hoping to finish in 8:45:00.  Next event is Ironman Steelhead 70.3 on August 4 in Benton Harbor, MI.  1.2mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.

I got this....

Peace, out xoxo

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Precious Time

Precious time, a day in the life.  Fear no more.

It seems as if several days in my life have passed, as if I blinked and they whirled by.  I've finally come up for air.  The kids are out of school for the summer and my normal routine has gone bye-bye.

I haven't posted in over a week. (You may or may not have noticed :). Part of the reason is my routine being out of whack, but more importantly I've spent time with my children. It's summer...I have the time...and life is short. They both had birthdays this week. My son, Nick turned 13 (a teenager!!) and is beginning 7th grade in the fall.  My daughter, Kendall turned 17, will soon have her drivers license and will be entering her senior year of high school.  Senior year!  Next year she will (God, please!) be off to college. Yes, I am that old. (Funny, I don't feel old??)

Time really does fly. Occasionally it's necessary to step back, examine life and re-prioritize. I seem to be doing that quite a bit lately. (I'll save that for another time).  We all need a break now and then I suppose.

The main reason a pause was necessary... Kendall will be having surgery on Monday morning.  She has experienced ongoing knee pain in her left leg for a few years. In 2010 I took her to an orthopedic physician. He ordered an MRI, which showed "nothing" but a small knot he diagnosed as a calcification.  He prescribed physical therapy and said to come back if the pain persisted.  With PT her pain subsided, so no further action seemed necessary. Fast forward to early 2013. The pain was back, this time much worse.  I urged Kendall to revisit the PT exercises which had previously helped and encouraged exercise to strengthen the surrounding muscles. A few months passed, and the pain was intensifying rather than subsiding. I took her back to the orthopedic physician in mid May. After another MRI we were asked to return to the office for the results. The MRI revealed that the small bump was now much larger, and had become what he called it a tumor.  We were referred to a specialist at Indiana University Health who specialized in childhood tumors. When we saw the specialist ( was difficult for me to use that term) he advised the tumor would have to be surgically removed and biopsied.  BUT the good news was, in his expert opinion it appeared to be a benign tumor. We would only know for certain after the biopsy, but his confidence buoyed ours.  He also felt the surgery could wait until after school ended for the year.  So here we are.

It's very I've evolved in the last few years, I am not the worrier I once was.  I honestly have hope that what is meant to be will be, and that we are only given what we can handle.  I used to spend so much time worrying, and the only result was much more stress.  I am convinced that to worry about an unforeseen event or outcome is completely useless.  I will take what comes as it comes.  This is not to mean that I am blindly going through life just waiting for things to happen.  I take action today for what I can, and turn over what I can't.  This approach makes life so much easier!  For the most part I am fairly stress free, one day at a time.

I think my new approach to life has rubbed off on Kendall. So very cool.  She is nervous about the surgery (she's never been under general anesthesia except for some routine dental work) but she has a sense of calm.  My daughter is just like me, only stronger.  The last few years of evolution in our family have touched her as well.

That being's not every day your child faces surgery, and ultimately an unknown prognosis.  We will handle whatever comes together.  To be honest, however I am apprehensive and a little scared.   This is my baby (albeit my young adult baby), after all.  I do know that with our resolve we will get through this.

We spent the last several days at my Mother-in-Law's lake house.  Kendall asked specifically to go there on her birthday so that she could have some fun on the water before her surgery.  I was happy to oblige.  This was the first time I had been to the lake this year, and we are not sure when we will be able to go again, so it was very nice to get away with the kids.  Laughter is the best medicine.  Flat out truth.  Apprehension evaporated into the clean lake air, and our giggles and smiles radiated in the sunshine.

I didn't write, I just spent time with them.  It was what we all needed.


On this beautiful Saturday, with the windows open behind me, I am at my desk typing away.  I've missed it!  Time away proved effective, because writing this post just flowed naturally.  I am glad to have the opportunity to share with you, and to translate my churning thoughts into a post.

Another day in the life, and fear is nowhere to be seen.  What a blessing.  If your thoughts turn to me on Monday, think also of Kendall.  Perhaps you might be inclined to say a little prayer, or just to send a little positive thought and good vibes our way.  It would be very much appreciated.  Stay tuned...thank you for listening.