Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Crisis That Wasn't

I had a little medical crisis last week.

Actually it's been going on for a lot longer than a week but I was treating it the way I usually treat running injuries - with public optimism and private worry. It's the ultimate in yin and yang therapy. Brush off the fact that I'm in any pain to anyone who notices and then when I'm by myself go through the list of potential diagnoses and try not to freak out that it's probably cancer. It's always probably cancer.

I had a pain in my pelvis. Not bad pain. More like just an annoyance. Sometimes it wasn't bad, sometimes it was worse and sometimes it wasn't even there at all. It's probably been a few months that I'd had it but I hadn't seen a doctor because I kept believing it would just go away. Or maybe hoping is a better word.

But last Sunday it got worse. Not to the point of having to have painkillers but bad enough to have me lying on the couch all afternoon with a heat pack and being cranky because, well pain hurts. Iven was all for me going to the doctor on Monday but I was still stubbornly believing it would just resolve itself. And it had improved a lot overnight so I didn't. I didn't go on Tuesday either. Or on Wednesday. But on Thursday the pain was bad again so I finally did what I probably should have done weeks before.

I got to see my favourite doctor - not an easy ask at such short notice. She's not my favourite because she's a medical genius. She's my favourite because she bulk bills me and she chats about her kids and she prescribes me whatever I ask for. Yes, she's my drug dealer. Don't judge.

She had a bit of a poke around my belly and made me cough and proclaimed that I had a hernia. Then she referred me to get an ultrasound to confirm and suggested that running should stop for the meanwhile. I suggested that I'd probably run Melbourne marathon with it so why stop now? Then she suggested that I be sensible and I agreed. But I had a sneaky suspicion that her version of sensible was a little different to mine.

Eff it! A hernia was not what I was wanting to hear. But it was a lot better than a lot of the other diseases on my self-assembled list of differential diagnoses. I had about ten items on that list ranging from appendicitis, ruptured ovarian cyst, endometriosis to a few real nasties ending in cancer. Hernia had made an appearance on the list but was in the 'unlikely' column because I'm a woman and it's more prevalent in men.

A hernia means surgery. And surgery means that I have to be off running for a while. It also means that I have to be cautious until I have the surgery because intestine could get stuck in the little hole in my abdominal muscles, die and turn gangrenous which could lead to me dying and turning gangrenous. And then I'd be off running permanently.

I went home and had a little pity party. Messaged a few running friends so they could be part of my pity party. Messaged my sister who's an anaesthetic nurse and was in theatre doing a hernia list when she got my text. Googled hernia surgery. Read running forums about hernia repairs and recovery (which was quite encouraging - minimal time off running). And basically came to terms with imminently having to go under the knife. The running forums also let me know that most crazy runners continue to run with their hernias for months until their surgery so my doctor was just being a worry wart when she suggested that it was better if I didn't.

I didn't sleep so well that night. The pain seemed to be worse. I'm pretty sure it wasn't but the fact that I was thinking about it all the time could have contributed. I got up the next morning and ran a really easy 10k with my posse and they got to listen to my tale of woe. Then I went home, ate breakfast and waited for my appointment. Part of this waiting process involved fasting for six hours. And I have to confess that I decided that five hours would be enough and a coffee while I did the crossword would help pass the time better. Okay, it may have been more like four and a half hours but I was still pretty hungry with two hours to go and started to google whether it was even necessary to fast before a hernia ultrasound and all the sites said that it wasn't. So then I was hungry and resentful.

Eventually it was time to go and I really didn't have to wait long till I was called in to be examined. The lovely sonographer told me that my doctor had ordered the wrong test. She was a pelvic sonographer and I needed a muscular one (not a bodybuilder type - although I wouldn't have minded if he was built) but if I waited a little longer she'd arrange for the muscular guy to do it. I confirmed with her my suspicions about fasting. No I hadn't needed to but she would get me a coffee if I'd like. And that's the moment when I fell a little bit in love with her - just as well because it would have been so very wrong letting someone I had no feelings for do the things she did to me later on.

A bit more waiting then I was good to go. A bit of cold jelly on my belly and a bit of pressing and we had the results. No hernia! Not on the side causing me pain anyway. There's a little one on the other side but it's not the cause of my symptoms. My new girl crush had seen some things on the screen that she thought warranted further investigation so she offered me the full pelvic job and she found this.

Okay, maybe not. But she did find a giant uterus filled with fibroids. Woohoo! Her estimate was that my uterus is the size of a five months pregnant uterus and probably weighs about five kilos. I think she may have been exaggerating with the five kilo bit but she said it so I'm going with it. She also found lots of ovarian follicles so it looks like I won't be going through menopause any time soon. Forever young!

Her best guesses as to what was causing the pain was that one of the bigger fibroids had outgrown it's blood supply and was degenerating or that I'd had a ruptured ovarian cyst. Either way, the pain would just resolve by itself. Like I'd initially thought. I'd just given up too soon.

So Saturday I was running again, without fear of strangulating my intestines, and regaling my running companions with all my medical escapades. Of course most of them were males - they really love hearing about all that female reproductive stuff gone bad. I can tell by the way they put their hands over their ears and try to drown me out with "la la la la ...".  But when I got to the part about the five kilo uterus they were all of a sudden more interested. The general consensus was that I should go ahead and have my giant uterus whipped out for the sake of my running times. Five kilos lighter = faster. 

And if it weren't for the whole surgery thing and the months of recovery I'd be so doing that. I wonder how much faster five kilos would let me go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Businessing Like A Boss

I've been businessing my little butt off lately - ever since I decided that I would take my loud and proud tights to the world. And I've been learning so much.

I've learnt that notebooks are precious commodities and shouldn't be left in the reach of destructive Dalmatians. I've learnt that I might have enough technical knowledge to set up a website - but I'm not completely convinced that I will. I've learnt that if you're a one-person business you actually have to do everything on a project unless you outsource and you're still going to have to be the one to organise the person to outsource to so effectively you're the one doing everything.

I have spent hours on the computer. And, yes, it might have looked to my husband that a goodly amount of that was on Facebook (which it probably was, but my brain can take in only so much proper information without needing a fluff-break) but I have been mining the internet for nuggets of gold that are going to prove invaluable in this process.

I've been writing lists entitled 'Important Stuff I've Got To Do'. Yes, that's right - there are multiple lists that are all called the same thing. And that's because I keep thinking of other important stuffs that have to be done and then the old list becomes defunct. And I've been trying to attack at least one of the items on the list every day - on top of trying to cut out stuff to send to my machinist. It's been busy - but it's been fun busy.

On Tuesday the task I'd set to tick off was actually the task I'd set myself for Monday and not gotten around to doing. It was to decide what to have on my washing label for when I get my custom labels printed. I thought it wouldn't take long to do.

I was wrong.

But only because I got distracted by one of the sites that came up when I Googled 'washing labels'. Or it may have been 'funny washing labels'. Don't judge - businessing doesn't have to be all dull and boring.

Anyway I ended up deciding that I want to have something a little bit quirky on my washing labels after seeing these.

So far I've got all the boring, utilitarian stuff written.

Made in Australia
Cold Hand Wash or Gentle Machine Wash in Laundry Bag
Don't Wring, Iron, Tumble dry or Dry clean
Dry in Shade

I just haven't quite decided on the quirky. So far it's between 'Run Like a Girl' or 'Live Long and Perspire'.

Or if any of you comedic wordsmiths out there have any suggestions I'm totally open to them.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Just Because Your Last Run Was Bad ...

I know I haven't done a lot of writing about it lately but I have been running since Melbourne marathon.

Photographic evidence that I really have been running

Really, I hardly stopped apart from a brief hiatus the week after. I had my first run back on the Friday, where my legs reminded me that they'd run 42+k, then another run on the Saturday. Both were short and easy. And ever since then I've been building back to normal. Back to four sessions a week. Back to some decent speeds. And back to some longer distance stuff.

It's all been going pretty well. Apart from the heat and humidity. We've had a couple of really nasty humid days and both have seemed to coordinate beautifully with the weekly long run.

The first was a week ago and it wasn't fun. It felt hard right from the start and only got harder. We didn't push the pace and we stopped at every water stop and still by the end I was trying not to faint when I stopped. Which is a little disconcerting for me and a lot disconcerting for my poor running companion who doesn't know if he's going to have to try and break my fall. (Just protect the head Elio, everything else will heal but a brain injury is for ever). I spent the rest of the day on the couch with a bucket trying not to vomit. Yeah - good times!

So this week I was a bit antsy about a repeat performance. The conditions were pretty similar to the previous week and I still hadn't totally worked out where I'd gone wrong - apart from actually getting out of bed to run. Part of me wanted to pull the pin on it altogether but I'd organised an early start to get 4k done before joining up with the squad. Really the only way I'd feel justified in piking was if I'd been throwing up all night or had a heart attack. So I set my alarm for 4:15 telling myself that if it felt awful then I could pull out after the 4k. Or I could just do the 12k with a good proportion of the squad. These are the lies I tell myself so I"ll get out of bed.

Of course there was never really any intention to pull out and run less. Once I've got a distance in my sights I can never be happy until I've got it done but those little lies I tell myself can be enough to keep my calm when I'm worried about something.

So we set off at 5:00 the next morning and did our 4k loop and it was okay. My legs didn't feel as uncooperative as they had the previous week. We were keeping the pace gentle. We were drinking when we could. And Elio was doing a great job keeping my mind off the previous week's debacle.

I had water and Powerade once we got back to the group. Sweat was trickling down my back already. It was hard to completely wipe away the thoughts of how bad I'd felt on the last long run when the conditions were just so similar. I just had to remind myself that we were taking it easier. That we were going to be drinking regularly. And just because one run is bad, it doesn't mean that they're all going to be bad.

And it turned out that I was right. There was nearly nothing about the run that was bad  - for me at least. Can't say the same for one of my friends who got distracted by a couple of pretty faces and ended up on the pavement in a puddle of blood. Proof again that a lot of men find it hard to multi-task.

I've been running for a lot of years now and I know quite a bit about it but it seems that there are still so many things that I don't know. And so many things that I'll never understand. Why is one run so, so hard and another in similar conditions, off a similar work load not? I don't get it. I can't science my way to an answer. But I'm happy to accept it. Just because your last run was bad doesn't mean that they all will be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Birthday Luke!

This little boy's 22 today. My sweet little baby boy who had ear infections every couple of months until he got grommets put in. Always dirty - "dirt just comes to me!" Taught himself to read at 4 with a phonetics program on the computer - who says that phonetics isn't a good way to learn to read. Musical, athletic, kind and thoughtful. He'd be a catch if he hadn't already been caught.

Yep, he turns 22 today and I can't give him a big, sweaty birthday hug. Or a gift. Or get him to blow out candles. Because he's half a world away. On an epic European adventure. He's currently in Florence so if there's any Fiorentini mamas out there reading this and you see a lanky, good-looking Aussie wandering around, taking in the sights, can you give him a hug from this mama who misses her little boy. I've included a more recent pic for easier identification. He might not be wearing the lederhosen though. 

Happy birthday Luke! We will celebrate your special day eating birthday cake while watching the Socceroos beat Krygyzstan tonight.

And if I'm feeling kind I might even bake you another one for when you get home in three weeks (not that I'm counting).

Love you lots!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

When The Universe Speaks ...

The universe has been trying to tell me something lately.

The universe has often tried to tell me stuff but I'm either not very attuned to subliminal messages or I'm just so obstinate that I refuse to listen. I've never really liked being told what to do.

It all started last Wednesday when I went for my meeting with the lovely Bek, who's going to design my logo. I left my notebook there. But it didn't have a huge amount in it so rather than go back I just bought another one. And I wrote a heap in it that evening because I'd just talked with Bek and Bek had great ideas and I needed to get them down before I forgot which I'm fairly prone to do. Then I just left the notebook on a low chest that was low enough to be in Ricky's reach.

Woke up to this the next morning.

I probably could have persisted in using it but it had been so pretty and un-slobbered-on and the pages had turned over so much more easily before they'd been deformed by Ricky's malicious teeth full of evil intent. It would have bothered me so much every time I went to use it that my creativity would have totally shut down. And besides, it was only $3:00. So I went out and bought another one.

The next one was even prettier. Bright pink with gold spots. Sure to inspire exceptional creativity. I was so excited to find it on the shelf in KMart. Excited enough to fork over $5:00. Don't worry - it'll be tax deductible as long as I can find the receipt. 

I paid for it and declined the plastic bag because I like to do my bit to save the planet and I'd hate for a turtle to die a horrible slow death of starvation just because I'd been negligent. And besides I already had a plastic bag that had enough room for me to shove the notebook into. Pity I didn't actually think about what that plastic bag was carrying .... (cue ominous music)

I got home and pulled out this pretty pink source of inspiration and creative genius only to find the bottom of it covered in a warm, brown jellyish substance that smelled distinctly of roast chicken. Oh yes, I'd had a warm roast chicken in that bag and it had leaked out of it's own bag all over my milk and my dreams.

Ok, maybe a little melodramatic but I did say a little swear word out loud. Possibly loud enough for the neighbours to hear but they're getting on in years so I'm banking on deafness setting in. I didn't really want to have to lock up the house and get back in the car and drive back to the store and find another parking space just to buy another notebook so I set about with a paper towel to clean up the mess while trying not to slip on the drool-coated tiles or trip over the three dogs which we must never feed because they're always starving. 

And it really did come up pretty well. At least the pretty pink cover did. The inside pages were a little damp and warped at the bottom but I figured they'd dry so I left it on the bench and went to do some real work.

At about 1:00 I came up to get some lunch (chicken salad if you must know) and found the kitchen abuzz. Flies everywhere! I might have thought I'd done a reasonable job cleaning up the chicken juice but that black swarm told me otherwise. And at that point I got the message that the Universe was trying to send. Go digital! Use the computer and smartphone for your notes!! Use Dropbox or Evernote or one of the other apps that will send info from one device to the other. Embrace the 21st century and the technology that you have at your fingertips.

So do you know what I did? I said 'screw you, you're not the boss of me' to the Universe, sprayed the pretty pink notebook with a bit of surface spray and have felt empowered every time I open it up. I am the author of my own destiny - not the Universe! I also remember to put it up high out of the reach of curious canines when it's not in use.

And talking about curious, hungry canines, there have been a couple of 'incidents' in our house in the last few days. Chewing incidents. And I was just starting to think we'd gotten through Ricky's puppyhood relatively unscathed. 

First it was the notebook. 

Then an entire roll of toilet paper. 
Bubbles was not the culprit but she really enjoyed the 4 ply, quilted softness

Then finally, a new box of tampons. 

I've noticed that his tastes tend towards paper and it was his first birthday last week. A birthday is like an anniversary and tradition has it that the first anniversary is the paper one. Coincidence? I think not!! I'm so glad that dogs don't live to 60 or in 59 years I'll be having to hide my engagement ring.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

No Doubts About It

I had a big moment of self-doubt yesterday

I was pretending that I was a real business woman and went for a real business meeting. Luckily I didn't have to do anything crazy like dress up for it - it was a business meeting with a friend after all and friends don't make friends wear heels. She's a graphic designer and I need a logo for my new business - match made in heaven.

We talked a bit about what I was wanting to do. What image I was trying to get across. What sort of thing I wanted for the logo. Then she started talking about the website and that's when I realised that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Websites need planning. You need to know exactly what you're going to put on every page. It's not just about some pretty pictures. You need words to go with the pictures and size guides and order forms and payment options and return policies and probably a lot of other stuff that I've already forgotten. Because I'm at an age where I forget stuff  even if I've taken notes. Which I didn't - and it wouldn't have mattered if I did because I left the notebook behind.

She pointed me to a site where I can set up my own webpage. Apparently it's a fairly easy process. But I was less than confident about my technical abilities. Just because I've set up a blog doesn't mean that I have skillz in that area.

I briefly thought 'I'm too old for this' and 'do I really want to be bothered?' and 'you could outlay a whole heap of money and not have it work'.

Doubt was putting excuses in my head. Doubt was wanting me to shut the whole thing down and just continue plodding along with work in status quo. Not a good thing when some weeks I haven't been getting any.

But then I remembered how much I've been enjoying working on this new project. And I remembered that old adage - that you've got to spend money to make money. And I remembered how much great feedback I've had about the tights. And I remembered that I'm a reasonably intelligent person who can read and follow instructions so if that website is as easy as it claims, surely even the less technically inclined amongst us should be able to manage. And I remembered that this middle-aged woman can run marathons - in a BQ time.

I've had a lot of practice talking down my self-doubts this year. And I'm getting pretty damned good at it. That doesn't mean that the self-doubts happen less. They definitely don't. It just means that when they do start shouting at me I can shout facts back that shut them up - or at least quieten them down. It's kind of awesome to have finally learned this life skill.

So I walked away from the meeting knowing that yes, there's a lot of hard work ahead of me. But that I'm perfectly capable of working it all out. Or sourcing people who can work it out with me.

And then I went out a bought a new notebook.

I have stuff to plan. Over coffee and a scroll. And the crossword.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

In-House Experiments

Do you ever run small anthropological experiments in your house just to see what's going to happen?

I do. All the time. Like leaving an empty Vegemite jar in the fridge and secretly using the one in the pantry just to see how long it'll take for Iven to cave and admit that it's really empty. Or not throwing away mouldy foodstuffs to see how long he'll keep shaving the mould off the cheese despite the threat to his health. That man really likes to live on the edge.

I've actually had a small experiment going for the entire length of October which I could only just reveal - being that it's now November. For all of October I had the calendar hanging on the back of the toilet door opened to November. Okay, it was an accident but when I noticed what I'd done the next day, I decided to leave it and see how long it'd take for someone to say something about it. I was pretty sure that no one would actually change the calendar because that seems to be my job and mine alone. But I'd notice if they did and the experiment would be over.

My toilet door is covered in cork tiles and cute animal photos. Makes for a more pleasant toilet experience if you ask me.

A week passed and no one said anything. Each day I'd sit on the throne and chuckle to myself about how unobservant my family is. In the second week my cleaning lady told me that it was on the wrong month so I then had to explain what I was up to. She understood exactly what I was doing - providing myself with scientific proof that men are less observant than women. And so far she'd helped out the women's case enormously. We were now at 100% for observational skills.

By the end of the month I'd heard nothing from the male side of the equation. Zip. Zero. Nada. So yesterday I revealed to Iven that he'd unwittingly been a participant in my study. And apparently my observation, that 100% of males wouldn't notice that a calendar was on the wrong month, was incorrect. He had noticed but he'd assumed that I didn't like the October dog as much as the November one. He just hadn't bothered to comment about it.

So my experiment proved nothing except that 100% of males in the household couldn't give a rats about the calendar. And that 50% of the males probably didn't even see it because they rarely bother to shut the door.

Why do I bother?!!