December Goals

Last year, I did the Runner’s World Run Streak, where I ran one mile every day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I missed one day because I was sick, but I made up for that day with a two mile run later that week.

This year, running isn’t a possibility because of my recent surgery and I was sad that I was going to have to miss out on participating. 😦

Also, it was easier, weather-wise, to run outside every day because we were in Oregon and the weather never really got below freezing the entire time. Now that I’m back in Minnesota, it’s a different story. We have been lucky in the fact that it’s December 1st and we still haven’t had snow that’s stuck around, but that definitely won’t last.

I can’t do the run streak this year, but what I CAN do is have a walk streak for the month of December. I’m going to walk a minimum of one mile every day this month. I was inspired by my friend Jeremy’s 30-day goal posts on his site. But, instead of 30 days I’m going to make my goal follow the calendar month to make keeping track easier.

This poses a few challenges:

Needing a place to do this when the weather eventually turns to actual MN winter.
Done! I have a membership at the YMCA and they have an indoor track which will make the indoor walking much nicer than walking on a treadmill.

Holidays.
Last year, since I was able to do everything outdoors (even in the 40-ish degree rain/drizzle), holidays didn’t matter. I just laced up my shoes and went outside. This year, it’ll be different as I’m pretty darn sure the YMCA will be closed on Christmas Day. I guess I’m going to get all my warmest gear out to tromp a mile through my neighborhood that day. ❄

Motivation.
I’m having a tough time with motivation because I’m not in the best head space right now. Still struggling with grief from my Dad’s passing and the shorter days/colder weather is making me want to burrito myself in a fleece blanket and never leave the house. Working remotely: the struggle is real.

However, when I put my mind on doing something, I’m going to do it come hell or high water. Then, hopefully, this month of activity will allow me to start going back to CrossFit. I miss the hard workouts, but I also have to realize it could take 6-12 months before I’m fully healed from the hysterectomy and able to push myself as much as I used to. I’m so impatient!

What goals have you made for yourself this month?

Six Weeks

I realized today that it’s been six weeks (and one day) since my surgery! Back on my last post, which was one week (and one day) post surgery, I was feeling so frustrated in not being able to do much of anything. Now, I’m getting around much better!

In fact, I had my six-week checkup yesterday and my doctor said I’m healing up nicely and that I’m able to resume normal activity again. YESSSSSS!

I know, right?
I know, right?

I’m not immediately going back to CrossFit; I’m going to wait until after the first of the year before I start up that again. My doctor said that it would take probably six months before I’m 100% back to normal again. The idea of doing a burpee makes me cringe. I can’t even sleep on my stomach yet!

Instead, I’m going to start a couch to 5k training plan to get my endurance and strength back which will hopefully put me in a better spot for when I go back go CrossFit. But, I’ll still have to go slow because if I overdo things now, my incision lets me know. Jerk.

That's pretty much how I feel if I overdo it.
That’s pretty much how I feel if I overdo it.

Today is also Thanksgiving Day here in the US. My family is having their big dinner (at my house!) on Saturday, so we drove down to my brother’s house and had dinner with my Mom and one of my sisters instead. The rest of my siblings were at their in-laws, per tradition. That’s primarily why my family never celebrates the holiday on the holiday: the in-laws are insistent it be the day of, and my parents never gave a shit – they just wanted all of us to be together.

This year I’m thankful for family and that I got my own health problem taken care of so now I can focus on getting back in shape. This year taught me a valuable lesson about not taking things for granted and to live more in the moment, not wasting so much time and energy on things that you can’t control. It’s why I got this tattoo earlier this year:

Tattoo number two! #a8cgm

A post shared by Carolyn Sonnek (@csonnek) on

Just a reminder to always breathe. Happy Thanksgiving!

One Week.

Well, technically it’s been one week and one day since my surgery, but that doesn’t make as succinct of a post title. So sue me. πŸ˜›

A few things that have surprised me about this whole journey:

  • How many women have had this procedure done.
  • How many women don’t talk about having this procedure done.

I say “fuck it” – I’m going to talk about it.

I should note that if you at all get squicked out by talk of surgery, you should just stop reading now. There’s not going to be any pictures or anything related with my surgery in the post – but sometimes people even get squicked out by descriptions so just call this your fair warning.

I’m serious. I’m going to talk about all sorts of stuff – so just close this window and don’t come crying to me if you get squicked out. 😎

Now then!

Surgery went well. I had what is known as a “total abdominal hysterectomy”: meaning my fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus were all removed. My ovaries were the wild-card; my doctors didn’t know if I’d be able to keep them until they were doing surgery. Thankfully, I was able to keep them!

I should say I got to keep ~1.75 of my ovaries – one of the fibroids I had was growing into one of my ovaries and they had to cut a bit of it out to get the fibroid off of it. However, it shouldn’t affect its functionality, so I should be good hormone-wise.

What was removed ended up weighing almost two pounds!! Good lord. A normal uterus weighs approximately 50g and two pounds roughly converts to 900g. No wonder I was having so many problems!

My doctor said that one of the multiple (I think they stopped counting after six) fibroids was the “size of a baby’s head”. Fuck. No wonder I had to have an abdominal incision to get it out! I have a photo of what was removed – don’t worry, it’s not getting posted online – and it doesn’t look anything like a female reproductive system. 😨

(If you’re a good friend and you’re local, I’m happy to show you the photo. But be forewarned: it’s gross. My husband has not and will not even look at it.)

My doctor also said that I most likely had been suffering from this (and the symptoms of it) for at minimum two years. One indicator of that was another fibroid had grown into and got stuck in my pelvic bones and they had a heck of a time getting it out!

Looping back to the day of surgery, I’m pretty thankful that my anesthesiologist’s team had me out before we got to the operating room. I think if had seen the equipment and all the machines there I would have had a bit of a freak out. Thus, the last thing I remember was kissing my husband and getting wheeled out of my pre-op room, then the next thing I remember was waking up and groggily asking the nurse there when my surgery was going to start. She laughed and said it was all done and I was in recovery.

I will say being on the receiving end of surgery is much less nerve-wracking then being the person waiting in the waiting room having been through a few surgeries with my parents this year.

My incision ended up being the horizontal or “bikini cut” type. Thank goodness! My swimsuit modeling career can continue!

I’ll just pause so you can fully get that laugh out. πŸ˜‚

Me? A bikini model? That IS hilarious, Bill!
Me? A bikini model? That IS hilarious, Bill!

I didn’t have any staples/stitches on the outside but surgical “super glue” – pretty cool stuff. I have dissolvable stitches internally, and those should dissolve over the next month or so as I heal.

I spent two days in the hospital eating applesauce, jello, oatmeal, and scrambled eggs because that’s all I could stomach. I also spent two days watching HGTV and yelling at the TV because of the idiots on Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, and this abomination of a show called My Lottery Dream Home. Now I love me some David Bromstad, but my god do we need to encourage people who were previously poor spend a shit ton of money on a “dream house” that they won’t be able to upkeep with monthly maintenance costs and property taxes? Have we learned nothing from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? GAWD!

Well that got off track a bit. πŸ˜†

The first week of recovery featured:

  • Numbness around my incision. This is due to the nerves in my abdomen being, well, severed due to the the incision. Duh.
  • My gastrointestinal system being – let’s just put this delicately – inconsistent. Some days there was no action, other days there was LOTS of action, and most of the time I felt like a gassy antelope. Gas pain + abdominal incision = DO NOT RECOMMEND.
  • Diet consisting primarily of oatmeal, pudding, applesauce, jello, apple juice, cranberry juice, chicken noodle soup, and peppermint tea. I got gutsy and had some coffee and some eggs on toast for breakfast one day and holy shit (LOLZ) did I pay for that one. See the point above for reference.
  • A notepad with references to the two pain medications and a medication to “move things along” as referenced by point two above. One of my pain meds is a controlled narcotic, which makes your gastrointestinal system be all like “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” like it’s Gandalf or some shit.
  • Existing in our spare bedroom watching TV. The bed in our bedroom was way too high for me to be able to get in and out of but thankfully we kept our old platform bed and Tim set it up in our spare bedroom so it’s much easier to get in and out of bed.
  • Coughing or laughing. OW FUCKING OW OMFG. I had to stay away from watching comedies or anything that could possibly make me laugh because holy shit you don’t realize how much your abdomen is involved in either of those things until it happens after abdominal surgery. I’m terrified of a sneeze coming on because you can’t stop that. 😱

This week has found a lot of the numbness starting to wear off right around the time when I need to wean myself off the narcotic painkillers. My appetite is back, but my gastrointestinal system is not back to normal. I wasn’t able to have any carbonated drinks that first week (see point two above again) but I’ve been able to keep ginger ale down with no adverse affects. I had two slices of cheese pizza for dinner last night (go shorty…it’s yer birthday) but I followed it up with some Activia yogurt to help my system digest the dairy/refined carbs. I didn’t feel the greatest, but nothing awful happened either. Thus my pizza days go back on hold for a while as I should avoid dairy (except for the yogurt) and greasy foods for a month or two.

I hate that I can’t do much of anything for at least six weeks. I hate feeling so helpless and I hate that I have to ask my husband for so much stuff. I know he says he’s happy to do it, but it has to be a shock for him as well to have to deal with every little stupid thing I need after being with a pretty damn self-sufficient partner for over ten years.

And yes, I’m an indecisive turd when I’m not feeling well. He’s had to run to the store for my latest demands every day since I’ve been home. Sorry sweetie.

However, even with post-surgery pain/discomfort – I already feel better. I don’t feel John Hurt with the Alien fetus is trying to burst out of my abdomen anymore.

From the series
From the series “Coupling” – one of my all-time favorites.

I’m also down about five pounds from my pre-surgery weight. I suppose not being able to eat pizza or drink wine on a whim helps that I’m sure. I do think that crazy pile of reproductive organs was also giving me some crazy amounts of hormones as well. I’ve been having issues this year with “the girls” getting bigger. Like to the point where I had to buy bigger bras every few months. Now they’re back to a normal size. Could it be related? Who knows – but I do know that I don’t feel like an overstuffed sausage anymore.

I also took time off and would be going back to work next week – but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to by then. Sitting in a chair or standing for long periods of time really bothers me even with an abdominal binder. I have a sit/stand desk but I don’t really have a comfortable office chair. I have one of those ergonomic chairs that is supposed to “engage your core” and since I’m not supposed to be doing jack shit with my core for 6-8 weeks, I don’t know what I’ll do. I certainly can’t stand for eight hours and trying to type while in bed bothers my back/neck. Fuck.😩

(Yes, I wrote all this in bed. But I started the draft yesterday and had to quit after my back/neck started bothering me. πŸ™)

Pixel tries to help, but she's an awful caretaker. Sleeping on the job again.
Pixel tries to help, but she’s an awful caretaker. Sleeping on the job again.

I’m so thankful for Automattic and their “take what time you need” stance with regards to time off – especially after this year. I don’t know what I would have done if I worked for another, less-understanding company. Plus I’ve been getting some “get well soon” presents from some pretty amazing co-workers that’s really brightened my day. β™₯

Once I’m back on my feet, I’ll be back to animated gifs and nonsense in no time.

Carolyn’s First Surgery

I was going to write a blog post about how 2016 can just fucking suck it, but I can’t get the words down on the blog about my Dad’s illness and passing, then my Mom’s serious illness immediately after my Dad’s funeral. Mom is doing just fine now, but I’m not sure I’m emotionally over either one of those things yet, much less being able to write about them.

Instead, I’m going to talk about how, at 43 years of age, I’m having my very first surgery.

I fucking hate this game.
I hate this game.

No sense having a simple procedure for this lady – we’re going full on major surgery: scheduled for a total abdominal hysterectomy on Wednesday.

It should be obvious by now that this goes into female reproductive stuff – so don’t come crying to me if you’re offended by periods, etc.

How did this all come to pass? Well, I had been experiencing some issues with urination. Yes, I know that has nothing to do with my lady parts, but things eventually got bad enough I went to see an urologist at the beginning of September. Had an exam, everything looked great, but the urologist wanted me to have a CT scan “just in case” to make sure everything looked ok.

Had the scan and went back a few days later to go over the results. He said he had good news and other news; the good news was my bladder looked great! The other news was my uterus was double the size it should be and there was a noticeable lump on one side of it. Now he did say that he wasn’t an ob/gyn, so he couldn’t say for sure, but that it was most likely fibroids.

I called a referring ob/gyn – because I didn’t have one – and had an appointment set for October 10th to check this out. Fast forward to going to my company’s Grand Meetup in Whistler, BC mid-September and had my urination issue rear its ugly head again on the day we flew back home – and had to go straight to the ER from the airport. The next day I called begging to be seen by an ob/gyn as soon as possible because there was no way I could go two more weeks (at the time) before someone saw me.

Thankfully they got me in two days later. I had an exam and an ultrasound a few days later. Definitely fibroids. Lots of ’em. In fact, there was a pretty substantial one pushed right up against my bladder! No wonder I had trouble. 😐

I tried to find a funny uterus/fibroid image - THEY DON'T EXIST - instead I found more squick-worthy photos of surgeries. Please don't search for those things. Here are some kittens instead.
I tried to find a funny uterus/fibroid image – THEY DON’T EXIST – instead I found more squick-worthy photos of surgeries. Please don’t search for those things. Here are some kittens instead.

Since I never wanted to have kids and with the difficulty of simply removing the fibroids (never mind the fact that they’d grow back), my ob/gyn recommended a hysterectomy. Now there are different types of hysterectomy surgeries and you can go search for them yourself, but I have to have an abdominal one due to the size and number of fibroids. Basically, the same procedure as a c-section. They’re taking the uterus, fallopian tubes, and cervix and keeping my ovaries – but even then they won’t know for sure until they’re in there whether or not I can keep my ovaries. I hope I do, otherwise I’ll hit early menopause and have to go on hormone replacement therapy – DO NOT WANT.

The weirdest thing is that I didn’t have the most common symptom of fibroids: heavy periods. Mine were always light and lasted 2-3 days. Every other symptom: oh hell yes. By my estimate, I’ve been fighting this for at least two years now, but I chalked most of those to getting older and all the damn stress I’ve had this year already (seriously, fuck 2016). Now that I know, I’m pretty hopeful that I’ll feel like my old self again and not this old lady who feels like crap all the time.

I’ll be in the hospital for at least two days and I had to take at least two weeks off work for recovery. I also can’t drive for two weeks and not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or do any activity other than walking for 6-8 weeks. No CrossFit! No running! No housework…ok, that one is not so bad! Guess I’ll get caught up on movies, TV shows, books, and video games that I don’t allow myself to enjoy because I could be doing “something more productive.” Like housework.

Am I scared? Absolutely. Will I be happy to not feel like shit anymore? Hell yeah. No more periods or worrying about an unplanned pregnancy: BONUS!

Change.

So many things have changed since my last post. Some things I still need to write about, but are too painful to tackle right now.

But one thing that has made itself apparent is that change is looming on the doorstep. Changes that are due to the new perspective that I have on all things in my life. Stuff that used to be a Big Dealβ„’ now seem trivial. Things that weren’t on my radar are now first and foremost in my mind.

change

As such, I’ve renamed the site to reflect the new direction of this blog – where I’ll post more about my life and everything in it, rather than just the health/fitness focus that I started with.

Speaking of fitness, I did start CrossFit again. So there’s still going to be fitness-related nonsense, but I’ll be adding more personal stuff as well. More on the catalyst of all these changes to come shortly.

Timing.

Been a rough couple of months! Moving prep. The actual move. After the move. I’m not moving again for a VERY long time.

(I say this, and watch us move in a year)

April turned out to be quite the stressful month. Well, March wasn’t much better. Living apart from your spouse SUCKS.

I had some fun times, though. In April, my team had our meetup in Dublin, Ireland and I spoke at WordCamp San Diego. Here are a few photos of Dublin – not sure why I didn’t take any photos in San Diego!

Then the moving. Oh boy that was fun. And by fun, I mean a nightmare. The three day trip took four due to a really shitty Penske truck. Here are the “highlights”:

Day one.: Portland OR to Coeur d’Alene ID. Husband and I in our car with the cats, my sister driving the Penske truck. Nothing too exciting aside from Pixel having an accident in her kennel. A bit slow going with the truck because it wouldn’t go over 60mph.

Day two.: Coeur d’Alene ID to Miles City MO. After climbing over the mountains in Idaho, in a area of flat terrain, the check engine light in the Penske truck came on. Spent an hour in a gas station parking lot on the phone troubleshooting the issue. Once we got back on the road, it was decided that I needed to drive ahead (and going the speed limit of 80mph) to our already-booked hotel in Miles City so the cats wouldn’t be in the car so long again. I got there around 10pm (after driving through one of the worst rain storms in a long time). The truck with my husband and sister rolled in around 12:30am.

Day three.: Miles City MO to Minneapolis MN. Well, that was the plan anyway. When we were all packed up and ready to depart, the truck wouldn’t start. GREAT.

Waited around for about an hour while the local diesel mechanic got things running again. Headed out later than normal, but since we’d be getting to our new house, I didn’t care how late it would be. Until we stopped to fuel up. When we got back on the road again the truck going up any sort of incline would slow down to a crawl of 35mph. On the interstate. To say this was dangerous was an understatement.

We pulled off in the middle of nowhere North Dakota and called Penske again. Said we should make our way to Bismarck where there was an International garage where they could take a look at it. We made it there around 5pm and thus we spent the night in Bismarck instead of our new house. 😦

Day four?: Bismarck ND to Minneapolis MN. Started off the day with a truck with a freshly flushed out fuel system (which was a lot of the problem) and our optimism of a day with no drama or surprises.

Wrong.

Going down the road for an hour, we needed to fuel up again, get some coffee/water, and take bathroom breaks. Back on the road, the truck started doing the EXACT. SAME. THING.

Pulled off again in a different middle of nowhere North Dakota and called Penske. Again. After troubleshooting, they had two options: they can send a new truck and movers to unpack/pack our stuff into a new truck, or they could just tow us to Minneapolis if we could make it to Jamestown ND. Since we had amazing movers pack our stuff up in Oregon and it would be faster to be towed, we opted for the tow.

We got to Jamestown where we met up with the tow truck driver. He was going to tow us to Fargo ND where we’d swap tow trucks with a second driver – something about crossing state lines or something – and the second driver would tow us the rest of the way. It worked shockingly well. In fact, the tow truck went 75-80MPH the rest of the trip. Fastest that stupid Penske truck went the entire trip. 😐

More photos of the move:

We’re mostly unpacked – I still have all my artwork that I need to hang up and a few other little things to organize, but for the most part we’re all settled in! Since this is turning out to be a photo-heavy post, here’s some more photos:

Next in my crazy life: going back to CrossFit. That’s for another post, though.