Archive | September, 2014

Pectoral muscles and my new hobby…

26 Sep

I’ve struggled since my mastectomy/reconstruction in 2012 to do things that I used to be able to do.  During surgery they cut the pectoral muscles when they inserted the tissue expanders in order to create a pocket for the implants once I had the reconstruction.  Some of the things that I have a hard time with are raking leaves, shoveling dirt, bowling…pretty much anything that really uses my pectoral muscles.  It would either hurt immediately or I would be paying for it the next day when I had muscle spasms.  I wanted an exercise that would build up those muscles, but also be fun.  Honestly, I hate exercise…it is boring.  I love going on a hike or for a long walk, but anything that makes me sit/stand in the same position while staring at a wall (think treadmill, elliptical, lifting weights) or even running down the road without enjoying what I’m running past is no fun.

For the last 5 years or so my husband has wanted me to go kayaking with him.  The first time he asked we lived in Florida and the thought of kayaking along side an alligator did not appeal to me.  I didn’t like the idea at all.  So, I’ve been saying no, changing the subject or telling him I *might* do it if it is a 2-person kayak. I’m not a very good swimmer.  I worried about falling out and thought if he was in the boat with me he could help me get back in it. I always had an excuse of why I couldn’t do it.  The excuse during the last year or so was my pectoral muscles couldn’t handle the paddling.  🙂

In August we went to Michigan for my family reunion.  It was held at my brother’s farm.  He has a pond and a canoe.  My other brother brought his kayaks over in case anyone wanted to paddle around in the water.  While we were there Kev asked me if I wanted to go in the canoe.  I thought it would be so much more stable so I said sure.  As I was getting in I almost tipped it over.  The thought of Kevan getting into it too alarmed me.  I knew we would end up in the water if we couldn’t keep the thing balanced.  Knowing that he always wanted to go in a kayak and knowing that I’d be in it BY MYSELF I asked him if he’d rather go kayaking.  I knew I could keep it balanced if I was in the boat by myself!  I’m a little of a control freak sometimes.  He said he wanted to go in the kayaks.  Whew!  So, we did.  Let me tell you…..I loved it!  It is the most peaceful thing.  It didn’t hurt me to paddle at all.  Although, it was a little pond, but we did paddle around for about 40 minutes altogether that day (we did it twice).

Once we traveled back home I became a little obsessed with kayaking.  I’m pretty sure Kev was very excited that I was finally on board with the idea.  We researched kayaks and found out that there was a kayak manufacturer (Jackson) near us.  It made us happy that they were made in the US and locally.  We love to support our local economy.  We decided to rent a couple of kayaks just to make sure we really liked it.  The kayaks we rented ended up being Jackson kayaks as well.  We loved them.  As we did our research we realized that we also wanted to fish.  We didn’t just want to paddle/float around.  So, we would lay in bed and watch YouTube videos of people fishing on their kayaks and looked for things we might want our kayak to have (a place for rods, dry compartments, etc).

Here is a picture of me trying out a Jackson Kilroy.  We were near the Caney Fork dam and the water was freezing, but it was fun.

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I was a little worried about sitting in a kayak for a long period of time since I have horrible tailbone pain since chemo treatment.  This made me want to try a few with seats as well (the molded plastic ones, the small inserts and the larger full seat that can be removed.  We finally decided on which kayaks we would get and it had the removable seat.  The seat lets me sit up really straight (it has adjustments) so I don’t have to sit back on my tailbone.  It is very comfortable.  Kev ended up with a sit on top and I ended up with a sit in.  WE LOVE THEM.

Here is a picture of the one I purchased from Caney Fork Outdoors – it was dark out so the pic is pretty dark….but it is really pretty.

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The next day, I used my Silhouette to cut out a vinyl breast cancer ribbon and “Survivor” sticker to put on my kayak.  I added one to both sides.  See below.

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Here is a pic of Kevan in my kayak.  I am usually the one with the camera so I don’t have a picture of me in my kayak.

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Being in my kayak is so restful.  I love paddling around rivers and lakes looking at all of God’s creation.  It is so beautiful.

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A great bonus is that I’m getting exercise.  Sometimes we have to paddle more because we are on a lake (no river pushing us along) or because the wind is is pushing against us and we are trying to make it back to where we put in at.  But, I LOVE IT.  I don’t mind the extra paddling or the exercise.  I actually love it more when I have to paddle then when we are just on a lazy river.  I love pretty much….every minute of it.  I also love that I’m in MY OWN kayak.  Kevan and I were on a lake last weekend and we were arguing (just a little – ha!)….I said, “You should be glad you are in your own kayak right now because if I was in it with you I would push you out!”  HAHA!!  We both laughed and he said the feeling was mutual.  lol!

Another great bonus is that we catch DINNER.  Yes.  I love fresh fish.  Kevan cleans it and I cook it.  Perfect match.  It tastes so good.  Here is a pic of Kevan with a bass he caught for our dinner while we were camping the other day.  It looks tiny, but it actually fed both of us.

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Here is another great pic of my best friend.

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Just because you are a breast cancer survivor who has had a mastectomy and reconstruction doesn’t mean you can’t do things like kayaking.  YOU CAN DO IT!  I am so blessed that God has healed me and that I’ve had the opportunity to experience paddling around with my husband and enjoying God’s creation.  One more thing that I find myself doing while I’m kayaking is praying.  It is just so peaceful and I won’t even realize that I’ve been sitting there talking to God (in my head, not out loud) while I’m paddling around, fishing or sitting back and looking around.  I don’t use my computer, my smart phone or watch TV on my kayak….so the time that I’m sitting there I tend to end up praying.  I asked God a question the other day while I was paddling around.  I *thought* I heard an answer (in my mind).  So, I was a little shocked.  I asked God if he really answered me.  Then, Kevan came up beside me in his kayak and said the EXACT SAME THING that I thought God had just told me.  I think God was confirming to me that He really did just answer my question.  It was such a special thing.

So….lastly, it is a great way to spend time with God in prayer.  I love it!

Menopause Update

16 Sep

I’ve been avoiding my blog. Mostly because I didn’t have any real updates and also because I didn’t want to sit down at my computer once I finished working. I was working way too many hours, but things are a bit calmer now (thankfully).

I have a huge praise regarding one of my previous posts. I can’t remember if wrote about this before, but when I saw my Oncologist in February I told him I had a suspicion that my periods had stopped due to my thyroid medication (Synthroid). It seemed to coincide with the thyroid med change since my cycles had come back after chemo finished. He confirmed that he didn’t think it was chemo, but that he was stumped by it. He couldn’t change me back because the thyroid meds I was taking were no longer available (Levoxyl). Anyway, in June I did some research and found that Levoxyl was now available again. I called the pharmacy to make sure they were filling it. The pharmacist confirmed that they were, but that it was VERY expensive and that insurance was not paying for it due to a study that had been done that proved that the results were the same for patients on Levoxyl as were those on Synthroid. Synthroid is cheaper to make.  He said to make sure my doctor added that it was medically necessary to see if insurance might pay for some of it, but that it would still be expensive. That was unfortunate. When I saw my doctor a couple days later he went ahead and prescribed it and wrote that it was medically necessary.  I was worried about how much it was going to cost, but when it was filled at the pharmacy it was only $12. I couldn’t believe it. Very thankful.  🙂

I am taking my thyroid medication a lot better than I used to. I have hardly missed it. After starting the Levoxyl my period returned within 1 week. It was a huge blessing and again have hope that God will hear our prayers. I have had 3 cycles now – 21 day cycles instead of 28. 21 is a blessing too because that is about 4 more cycles per year – which means more opportunity to pray that God blesses us with a child. 🙂 Although, that is also 4 more times to be brokenhearted if God doesn’t answer with a yes, but still….I have hope again.

There are two things I am dealing with lately that are causing me some grief. First, for about 2 months now I’ve been having migraines that mess up my vision. It may be related to the thyroid medication – I’m not sure and all my blood work is coming back fine. 3 weeks ago I stopped eating sugar (to see if I lose some weight) and I think the migraines have improved. I only had one last week. So, maybe it is a diet thing….not sure.  I’ve been extremely tired since quitting sugar.  All I want to do is sleep.  lol!

Second, my tailbone. It is so much worse than it used to be. I can hardly sit without pain. It is all day every day. If I stand it doesn’t hurt, but any sitting causes pain. I am trying the chiropractor again, but it doesn’t seem to be helping at all. Last time I went to the orthopedist he told me there was nothing they could do, but remove my tailbone. That doesn’t sound fun at all. Since I didn’t have pain until after I completed chemo I worry that it is cancer. The pain is that bad and is progressing. Kevan reminds me that my pet scan in December came back fine, but I still worry. I can’t imagine dealing with this the rest of my life.  It is so hard to sit and work all day.  The doctor gave me prescription pain medication, but it doesn’t do anything for the pain – just makes me even more tired.  Even Aleve doesn’t help it anymore.  I will just continue to pray that God removes the pain.

Well, I don’t want to end on a sad note so I will say that I am very blessed that God has allowed me to no longer be in menopause. I feel a lot better and no longer have hot flashes! Say a prayer that God gives us a child. Please!