Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ode to my Bike!

Yesterday evening I ran downstairs, as quick as I could, to get napkins from the garage and suddenly I noticed something missing.  Something was out of place.  My bike!!!   Where the "ef" was my bike?  I screamed just as my best friend and her family arrived for dinner another friend upstairs ran down.  My bike! My bike, it is gone!  Comprehension dawned slowly, somehow, someone had stolen my bike from my garage!  I couldn't fathom it! How? Why? When?

I'm not a very materialistic person.  I mean sure, I like nice shoes (even though I can't wear them anymore). I like my home, love some things in my home, but if you would've asked me about my most dear material possession, I might have said my bike.  We have history.  We've traveled miles and miles together. We've fallen in and out of love together.   It taught me how to ride better...  Gone!!

Today, the police report, the insurance claim, the fear, the anxt- I mean I am doing 2/3 the Malibu Tri in 2 weeks.  I need my bike!  All of this made me feel superficial.  My bike was a possession, I can replace it.  Yes, an expensive possession along with all the assorted gear that was stolen too. However, my bike was more than a possession...

I bought it in the run up to my first triathlon.  I hadn't been on a bike in 10 years when I signed up for that race.  I didn't own a bike, but hey, I thought it should be fun.  After months of riding on a loaned bike, I decided I needed one of my own. Enter my bike!

I knew next to nothing about road bikes when I bought it, but it fit my price range and was comfortable and available, so it become mine.   That race lead to more tri's, which lead to more half centuries, which lead to centuries.  My bike and I became friends.  It wasn't a material possession, but it was freedom! It was also peace.

I run for the endorphin rush, I ride for clarity of mind. As I've gotten back to cycling post my surgery I've realized that my bike brings me peace and calmness. I love my bike, that which it represents not the material, bike, I guess.

My insurance will pay for a new one (minus the deductible).  I'll have two weeks to become friends with it before the Malibu Tri.  I can do that I hope.

Still ByeBye my bike! I miss you!! I can't believe that someone took you from me!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First few steps towards a Half Marathon

My alarm goes off at 550 am. I groan, Sadie snorts and buries her head in the pillow. I hit snooze and briefly debate staying in my bed. However, when the alarm goes off the second time, I open my eyes and begin my stretching routine that will let me get out of bed. Sadie retreats under the comforter declaring it too early with a loud huff. My puppy may be smarter than me, but it is time to get up to head to my Team-in-Training practice.

More stretching, eating and wiping of cobwebs off my brain, and I'm ready to head off to SantaMonic for a planned 4 mile run. It's a great group of people with a great energy all joining together to run either a full or marathon and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I'm not sure if I find the fund raising task more daunting or the running, but I'm committed to do both.

Cancer has changed my life, changed my life permanently.  I'd rather not have had to face it. I'd rather not be in pain all day, every day, whatever I do.  I'd rather not have known it, but I still know that all of the changes aren't bad they are just there.  Before I started down this road, I'd let myself get out of shape. I'd put my own health on the back burner in lieu of my medical training, work, other things that seemed more interesting. Since my first series of surgeries health and fitness have been staples in my life.  I've complete several traithlons, and am now training for another.

However, its not just about the races, the athleticism, I want to give back to the cancer community that has supported me. I want fewer people to know this pain and fear. I want cancer in all its forms to become treatable, for fewer poeple to die.  Raising money for Pediatric Cancer Research as a part of the Malibu Tri, raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society as a part of training for the WaltDisney World half marathon, somehow this makes sense to me.  It feels right.  I chose to give back rather than kick, scream and cry.  (Though, I've done that to).

I'd be incredibly honored if you'd help me support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team in Training by clicking here.

Before each Sunday morning run we have a moment where someone shares what Team-In-Training has done for them, invariably I cry. But I feel so blessed to have been able to have met these people and to run again on my foot I can't feel. Cancer sucks, but my life is blessed.  So while you all are snuggled up in your beds on Sunday mornings and my dog is hiding under my comforter know that I will be running and doing my little part to give back to the cancer community.

Thank you

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to work, but I miss being a Doctor

I've been back to work part time since August 1.  The nagging pain in my foot, my inability to stand, or move quickly on a moments notice, and the difficulty focusing caused by my pain meds have conspired to keep me from returning to clinical work, but I'm at least back doing something doctorish.

This past week, I've attended several teaching conferences, yesterday during an interesting conversation of complication cardiopulmonary physiology, I remembered that I love being a Neonatologist. That my chosen field remains fascinating and intellectually stimulating to me (even though it is not always easy). That I enjoy teaching young physicians.  That my job is far from just a job, it is a career that is a huge part of who I am, and I miss it.  I have been blessed to be with families through some of their darkest hours and hopefully watch their babies improve.

I'm probably still months from being able to return to clinical work.  The size of our new unit overwhelms me.  We are going to have get creative to get me back there, but I will get back.  Just as I am starting to run, I will find a way to get back to taking care of critically ill babies.  However, I will not return until I know I keep my Promise.

Accepting Limitations is so hard!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I believe in hope

Two weeks ago, my surgeon in LA told me "I've never seen the intrinsic muscles in the foot come back after being atrophied for so long.  You may need to prepare yourself that this is your new normal."  What?  I can't stand, I am severely limited in the shoes I can wear, I hurt all the time (I mean all the time, ALL day, every day). How can this be as good as it will get.  I cried, I called my dear friends and family for support. I grieved this loss.  I tried to process it.

After a few hours/ days, I came to the conclusion that if this is as good as it will get for me, that's OK.  I have my foot, I can swim, I can ride, I'm starting to run, I can live my life. Yes, the pain sucks.  I hate the pain, but I'm still glad my foot is my own.  Sensation or no.  Someone wanted to cut my leg off, but my tenacity said no there must be another way.  So, I had to found that other way, and I'll find a way to make this work too.

Still I held onto hope. No one was saying it was impossible, just that they hadn't seen it.  Maybe my doctors in NewYork would have a different theory, different info.  I prayed silently in the night for that to be so.  My dear friends propped me up supported me, said those prayers with me.  I knew I'd make it OK, I just wanted to be told, I wasnt' in this pain for no reason.

Fast forward a few weeks and I'm in New York in my ortho oncs office, she says yes its possible I'll get the muscles back, never as robust, never as strong, but back yes.  She says the pain should improve over the next 6 months to 1 year, the muscles may take up to 2 years, but she believes.  I believe too, I choose to believe in hope.  I choose optimisim.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Malibu Triathlon Again

Last year I signed up to complete the Malbu triathlon as a way of giving back to the cancer community, a way to raise money for our most innocent cancer patients, children.  I felt I was at the pinnacle of health, at least for me.  Sure my foot went numb sometimes, and I had other odd symptoms, but I was 4 years out from my cancer diagnosis and certain that it was behind me...

However, a month before last years race, I received the cruel news that no, it wasn't behind me.  My tumor had likely returned.  I told very few people, I was too scared to admit that my nightmare might be recurring.  I trained hard. The race day dawned and I loved every second of it even though the hideous numbness kept telling me there probably was something wrong.

The rest of the story is now well known to those of you who follow my blatherings here or on twitter or facebook, I lived in denial for awhile, then finally got it biopsied only to learn that, yes, my cancer had returned. Yes, I was once again facing possble amputation.  Yes, this was a nightmare! I cried, I screamed, but ultimately did what I do best, face it.

Surgery was more extensive than anyone hoped and I woke up begging to be told why it had lasted 6-8 hours longer than it should have.  Slowly the reality of what was done to remove the cancer from my foot and give me the best chance at a functional recovery dawned on me.  I vowed to fight.  Two weeks in the hospital, weeks never out of a chair (wheeled or otherwise), and the deadline for the Malibu tri approached.  I had planned to do the olympic distance this year, but now I was in a wheelchair unsure of whether I'd walk again from my own cancer journey.

Still somewhere in my self absorbed brain I knew it was better to face this as a functional adult than a child and that I'd find a way to swim, bike and run again.  I didn't know how, I just knew I would.  The deadline to sign up was days away.  Initially, I said "no way, I can't. I don't know even when or how I'll walk again."  I was fairly certain I could swim by then, bike maybe, but to run? that sounded preposterous.  I asked a few friends what they thought.  "Could I walk the run?" consensus, my ego wouldn't allow it.

Should I sign up to do the race?- My friend Jason replied
"After much thought I would say not this year.
I admire your desire to move forward and not let anything hold you back. I think more than anyone else I know, you COULD do this. Your enthusiasm and sacrifice far exceed most.
I always proceed on the side of caution with these things though. You should take the rest of this year and let your body heal, rejuvenate and get back to where you want to be. There are plenty of tri's to do and I'm sure you're going to kick ass in all of them but for this year just regroup. 
This is not to say you CAN'T do this .. you totally could. 
I would rather see you fully recover over the next 6 - 10 months and then start training hard for the next season."

His thoughts stuck with me, should I focus on recovery? Or give myself a goal? I knew that he was right, if I set the goal I'd make it, but would that hurt my ultimate goal of health?

My solution, sign up for the race as a team.  I asked him if he'd run for me. The next day he told me how inspired he was by my determination.  I don't know about that, I was just a girl in a wheelchair with an irrepressable spirit.  I asked my friend who'd turned me into the cyclist I was prior to surgery if he'd ride, and thus Team Lisa was born, a mixed relay triathlon team.  It hurt to not do the whole thing, but over time I knew it was right.  Then a month or so ago, I realized I wanted to swim and ride the race and Jason would run.  It felt right.  My training has been fun and inspired this year.  Everything I do, and have done, for the past 8 months hurts, but training for this race has felt easier, smarter than last year.  I've been safe, stayed in my limits and enjoyed it.

So, in 5 weeks time, I will complete 2/3 of the Malibu Triathlon with my friend Jason running to support me in every way as he has done over the last 4 years of our friendship.  We do this because cancer won't get me down, but more importantly it shouldn't get any children down.  We'll race for me, for health and fitness, but also to raise money for my hospital, Children's Hospital Los Angles's pediatric cancer center.  

I am beyond proud to do this and beyond proud to have a friend who will help.

Will you also help us?

To donate in my name click here

To donate in Jason's name click here