Saturday, April 28, 2018

I don't have the keys!

My body loves to remind me constantly that I am not the one in the drivers' seat.  Wegener's took they keys away from me 6 years ago and refuses to give them back. What a tool.

Infusion was done mid-February and beginning of March so I should be rolling great right now and for the most part, I am!  However, for three weeks my voice has played hide and seek and my cough roars out of me like a harbor seal ... sometimes uncontrollably so. Now, I am no stranger to bronchitis since the inception of this here disease and I know that coughs linger for months.  But the way my voice is acting up too and the fact that my cough is getting worse and not better has reminded me that I am not in control of how things go.

I had hoped to be back on the 4x a week CrossFit train by now, but I am holding steady at 3x a week.  Which, let's be honest, is not something to be disappointed in.  That's a pretty good schedule, especially for someone who appears grossly out of shape like me. But, it's not where I wanted my butt to be by now and I blame this friggin' cough and these busted up lungs.

I should have been there at CrossFit last night.  But, I coughed and coughed all day, my chest was tight like someone had wrapped a thick band around it and was squeezing and I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. In short, I felt absolutely terrible.  Knowing that my work schedule spreads out in front of me for eternity, I knew I needed to bow out and lie down.  I was asleep by 7:15 p.m.

Certainly a sign of me needing a break.

Today's not much better.  My lungs hurt pretty badly but ... I am more awake at least.  I am positive and looking forward, learning that this disease is a serious butthole and I sometimes have to just listen to it.  I have known this and have repeated it to myself before but I feel like I am actually believing it now.  I've been reading a lot about how to face certain things, how to deal with negativity, accept it, and not let it get under those super tender layers because ... it isn't about me.  Even if something does seem directed at me, it's not.  It's them, that old adage, yadda yadda.  But, weirdly, I'm starting to get it.  I am starting to understand it.  Because, I see it in myself.  I see when I react at something that it's me doing it.  I am in control of how I react and often times, the negative reaction gives control over to other people and ... I have enough problems with my disease controlling me, I don't need people to be able to do that as well.

Definitely trying to find the balance with that but I am a much happier person at work.  I manage to stay just this side of the swirling vortex of drama and if it touches me, it's just enough to shake it off at the gym.

Do I still get anxious about what I can't control?  Sure, but I also have been better at dealing with it.

Health isn't just physical. Mental Health is just as important as physical health because they affect each other.  Physically unwell, you're going to get depressed, anxious, sad, etc.  Mentally unwell can keep you out of doing active things that you enjoy which could lead to bad physical health with illness, etc.  So you see, the two have to work well together.

I am trying to work on both so that I can be happier.

I use to say that there was no point in doing all this saving for retirement because I'll never make it that far.  Why would I say something so terrible?  Well, historical facts.  My parents never made it out of their 40s. My grandparents (minus one great grandmother and my stepgrand parents who don't share my biology) all died fairly young into their lives.  So ... longevity is not something that runs in my blood so why not live now!?

Except, I did a bit too much of that and am paying off debt for it. And, the living I did wasn't even like grand vacations and what not. Nope, just went to restaurants out of my price range and lived beyond my means. But, every action has a consequence so ... I must pay these things off.  And I will it's just a matter of time. Thankfully, we are beyond short staffed at work so there are plenty of extra hours available.

I got a little off track ... OK, back to my train of thought.  I'm trying to work now on both those health things so that I can enjoy my years ahead because I plan on having them. I plan on getting through the next couple years and being mostly debt-free (that house payment isn't going anywhere for awhile!) and being able to plan what happens after I am done with work.  Because, when I started, 30 years felt much longer than it actually is as I cruise halfway through my 16th year with the department.  Over halfway to 30 years. It's time to start realizing what comes next is something I need to plan for.

And I plan on being alive and healthy for it.  Will I be cured of Wegener's?  No. It's not curable. It's definitely manageable and I plan on having this dumb thing so managed that I don't need medications for awhile. Not there yet but ... maybe after the next infusion?  I also plan on being more physically fit so that I can spend my days off (because I will have more of them someday) hiking or ... going and DOING STUFF!  I must do ALL THE THINGS!

I may not be in the drivers' seat of my life ... but I am at least going to make sure my driver is a reliable one that will get me where I need to go in a somewhat safe manner.

What are you going to do today that helps your health, be it physical or mental? Do something that makes you feel good.  If that's just being cozy and doing nothing?  Well, by all means, do it and enjoy the hell out of it.

Take care!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Worst liar in the world? THE SCALE!

Before I write this I must give a disclaimer.  I know I don't look fit at all. Like, not even in the slightest bit. But, this squishy body is getting seriously stronger. 

OK, got that out of the way.  Here's a little backstory:

I weigh myself every day. Five out of ten people will say this is not a good idea because the scale fluctuates up and down, blah blah blah. But, the other five people will be in the same camp as me.  This keeps me wholly accountable.  I didn't do this before I was introduced to the horrific, yet effective, drug known as Prednisone. More specifically, high dose prednisone. 60mg a day. To put it in perspective, most doctors prescribe 10mg or so for an infection and you taper off that over a period of time.  People usually gain some weight on just that small taper dose because that drug seriously messes with your body.  So multiply that by 6! Imagine the things I was feeling when that drug was working to stop my immune system from going after whatever it could. On top of that, I had ZERO energy and felt like shit every day so I wasn't doing anything to counteract the EXTREME hunger that came along with it. 

Anyway, I gained a ton of weight and since trying to get that weight off, I've become well attuned to the scale and watching to make sure I never reach numbers that I had in the past.  It also helps me monitor when I've had good sleep or not and the amount of hours because it will go up 1-2 lbs with little or crappy sleep.

On the flip side, it's not going down from the 30lbs I've gained since starting CrossFit. I've already covered how I did that but to sum up: eating like crap and not being consistent with exercise and good healthy foods.  Even working out regularly can't fix that - we've already covered that ... moving on.

So the scale isn't moving.  OK, I lied, it's inching.  But I'd rather it inch and stay away than drop quickly and return just as quickly as it has in the past.

In my head, I know what I weigh and that translates in my messed up brain to being out of shape, etc. Yet, I walk into the gym, I look at the workout which seems IMPOSSIBLE and then somehow ... I finish it. I may have scaled some of the movements but, I finished. And, we do our strength sessions and the weight is going up, and my form is getting better. For instance, we've been doing multiple rounds of high reps (3 sets of 10-15 at 80% of a certain max that we had) and I finish them at a higher number! It's incredibly motivating.

So, somewhere underneath the squishy stuff is muscle and it's growing and getting stronger.

My pants are also bigger than they should be in correlation to the number on the scale.  I feel better.  I have more energy and even though I might moan and groan that something is sore, I know it's sore because whatever I did is working. It means I used those muscles, even the teeny tiny ones somewhere hidden that we don't talk about.

I look at that scale in the morning and want to be angry but I know it's lying to me. It's just a number that doesn't directly translate to me. I know that I am strong. I can deadlift 320lbs (probably more but that was what I hit just before the fires), I can back squat almost 200 lbs.  I was flinging 85 lbs into the air easily last night during the workout.  I think I can do a 100lb thruster (need to try it - last time was 90 and I was certain I could go higher).  My snatch is UGLY but it's getting there.  I can power snatch almost 100 - it's the squat part that throws me.  My squat clean is also getting there.  Thinking of dropping below a heavy barbell makes my brain scream that I am going to hurt my knees so I am hesitant but ... I did 135 lbs last time and dropped under it and was so happy.  I know I could do more.  My power clean is higher than that.

I am strong. It might not look like it but I am.  And I am getting stronger ... and I will eventually look the way that I feel and that ... will just be icing on the cake.

Don't always listen to the scale - it's there to discourage you and make you feel bad about yourself. Listen to how you feel ... listen to what you are able to do. It's easier said than done, believe me, I know! Because I also do the very same thing.  And then, it takes a good night at CrossFit to make me realize that I am capable of a LOT more than what my weight says I am.  I still can't run for shit without having to stop and wheeze terribly to catch my breath.  But I'll get there.  I also can't do a pull up or rope climb because I am a heavy weight and to be able to do that is to be able to get that weight up in the air. It's not there yet, but it will be.

We need to be kinder to ourselves, and each other.  Girls, listen to me, we need to be nicer to each other.  I feel like we are the worst to one another, always judging people for how they look, talk, etc. We can be so vicious to each other and to ourselves. We don't have to look like the model on the cover of the magazine because even she doesn't look like that! Be amazed at what you're capable of doing, of what you've accomplished.  Be proud of yourself for getting up and walking even if it is just to the end of the block and back.  Instead of getting upset that you're winded, look around you and admire the blue of the sky or the green of the grass.  I get upset during running workouts because I'm walking ... but I am doing something and that isn't something to be upset about so I get it.  I do it too.

We are a marvel. We are capable of so much. And, when we are upset that we can't do ______, remember that there are those people who wish they could do what we can. Life is a gift, every single day is a gift. Find the good in each day because there is always something.

You are not a number on a scale. I am not a number on a scale. I am strong.  I am getting better every single day.  Do I wish I could change things about my life currently?  Hell yes, but I have spent far too many days dwelling on what isn't going to change for awhile.  It will change, yes.  But for now, I must put one foot in front of the other, and take my life one day at a time. Tomorrow's going to come anyway ... and I will have wasted today, worrying about tomorrow.

I hope that you have a beautiful day whatever you are doing. Be kind to yourself, be kind to those you know and who you may come across.  Just be kind.

Thursday, April 19, 2018


In what ways am I abundant?

I am abundant in so many ways and too often I allow outside influences or anxiety about the unknown or what "could" happen cloud my vision when it comes to seeing that.  I am so beyond blessed and grateful to have the family that I do, first and foremost.  My parents divorced when I was young but remarried and had kids and I ended up with this blended family that remains with me even though my parents have passed away.  If Mom and Dad hadn't remarried, I wouldn't have my stepparents to still be here with me.  I wouldn't have my little brothers, my nephew, the aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents.  I have an abundance of family!! I need to see them more, that's for sure.

I am so lucky to have a hardworking husband. Because he works a lot harder than me.  I might be at work for 12 hours a day, but he works just as long, then comes home and does all the physical work on the house and then side work on the weekends. He busts his ass all the time. Can he be a grump?  Yes, but quite honestly, SO CAN I.  Two people who are exhausted from work ... it can be interesting.  haha.

My job. Because that needs to be mentioned, eh?  Do I work a lot?  YES! Do I enjoy working?  Hell yes I do. It is what makes me able to be here as much as I am.  I have a lot of debt ... and this job keeps me afloat!  Do I stress about money a lot?  I do. But I am an anxious person so that comes with the territory.

I have the most lovable cats and fluffy-butt Corgi that bring my heart joy whenever I need it. Of course, when I am feeling super anxious and worried and those 'abandonment' issues come on strong - I think about losing them and bawl all over them and they frantically try to get away from me.  haha. Seriously, animals are the best. Whenever I am sick, I have both cats snuggled on me.  Yes, I know they are cats and cats are total opportunists when it comes to warm places to sleep.  But I certainly enjoy it.

I also have my CrossFit family.  They have changed my life and I think they saved my sanity.  I love doing it, I love the people, I feel healthier and a heckuva lot happier. It helps me put my head back on straight after far too many bad things at work. There's nothing that CrossFit can't fix ...  I am crazy grateful to have that in my life.

There's just so much. If you step outside whatever is in your face bothering you ... and look at your life from the outside, it might look a lot different than what you are feeling at the moment.  I feel like sometimes, problems become mountains that block our view and we can't see the good things around that mountain. Do I wish it was a few years from now and my debt was lower?  Hell yes I do. But, it isn't and right now I just need to stay the course, eyes forward, and one foot in front of the other ... I will get there because time moves FAST.

I remember how LOOOOOONG school days felt, and it felt as if vacations would never arrive. That is not the case these days. As an adult ... the time just goes so fast. Too fast.  So, if I remember that, and remember that "This, too, shall pass" eventually I will get there.

Life is good.  People are truly good deep down. And, don't forget to remember that this is just a mountain right now and eventually you will get around it.

Have a beautiful day.

This entry was brought to you by Day one of Find Your Happy Daily Mantras by Shannon Kaiser.  I may post some of my other things from that book as they come up.  I'm not sure year.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

You get to do this.

My anger has been spiraling today. I let it get out of control and then ... I looked at my calendar.  Yes, I made it all the way to past 1pm before I realized what day it was. 

It's April 15th.  My cancer went into remission five years ago. It's the day I can officially say I am no longer a 'cancer patient'.  Pay no attention to my bi-annual chemo treatments, that's a chemotherapy drug I take for my autoimmune disease. I don't have cancer anymore, yo. 

It's kind of hard to be mad at anything when you look at something like this.  Yes, I'll get mad all over again later because, let's face it, I am human. But ... it reminded me of a quote I had heard listening to a podcast by Ben Bergeron who coaches Katrin Davidsdottir, who is this phenomenal CrossFit athlete and two time world's fittest on woman.  He says he hears people saying "I have to go pick up the kids from _____" or "I have to go to work" and wishes people would stop and realize that they "get to" because there are countless people in this world, probably even in your own town, who wish they could trade places with you. 

I know that there's a man out there who wishes his wife was still alive to 'have to go to work' but cancer stole her out from under us without hesitation. I know there are people who are disabled and unable to walk who wish they could come to CrossFit and run the 4x400m runs that I complain about.  

It's hard to whine when you look at things from that perspective.  

Now, I know that we can't always remember these things and life is not always sunshine and rainbows but ... it's a nice reminder once in awhile.  No one wants to get up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work every single day.  I certainly don't. But, that early rising brings me to a job that pays me well and affords me the ability to do the things that I want to do.  Would I rather sleep in?  Hell yes I would.   Sometimes, we have to do things that we don't necessarily want to do. It doesn't mean we are any less fortunate to do them. 

Yes, I wish I could hold onto positive outlook forever but I am human. I'm going to get mad at what I was mad about this morning all over again.  It's a human emotion, it happens. 

What will I do about it?  What I love to do to get rid of anxiety, anger, stress, frustration, etc.  I will go to CrossFit and fling my body around, lift heavy things and throw stuff to the point of absolute exhaustion. I will complain about whatever the workout is, make faces, feel like I am going to cry and then ... when that timer beeps that it's over, or I finish all the rounds I am supposed to, I will drop to the floor and feel as if everything is gone.  I am able to look at whatever was upsetting me with a new set of eyes and rationalize certain things and it makes things easier for me to address. 

This is my therapy, it is my happy place, it is  my hobby, it's my life saver. Because it screws my head back on, it tapes my heart back together, and it gives me new perspective. 

As of today, I am officially a cancer survivor.  I still have to deal with the butthole known as Wegener's on a daily basis. I am trying not to focus on how I hate everything about how my disease is acting right now.  But I have no cancer. 

Bye Felicia!!!!!! 

I hope you are having a fabulous day. It's getting dark and blustery out there so I hope you are warm and dry wherever you are! 

Friday, April 13, 2018

I've had enough!

That's it, time to stop pussyfooting around and get serious. 

I have the tools in my wheelhouse to not look or feel this way. My brain is full of knowledge on nutrition, and I have this amazing way of working out that will turn me into the person I want to be. I just have been dabbling in it.  I've allowed so many things to derail me. 

Last night, upon leaving work, I had made a decision to stay home from CrossFit because I couldn't stop coughing, my chest felt tight, I was wheezing.  It just didn't feel like a smart idea.  I got home, I walked the dog down the street because I needed to do something and Loki needed air. When I was halfway, I realized that I should just do it. Get off my ass, change into my clothes, and go to CrossFit. I knew I would feel better afterwards and if I couldn't do the WOD that was up there, I could modify it to something that my breaking body could handle.

I changed, I drove over there.  While driving, it felt hard to breathe but I was determined to go and workout however I was able to.  If I walked laps around the building the entire time, I would have. I just needed to do something. 

Of course, seeing all of the people just lifted my spirits and the workout didn't seem like something that would actually kill me with plenty of room for modification if needed. 

So I did it.  I didn't modify other than my usual scaling down and I finished the whole darn thing.  I was pretty happy with myself, I was also 100% happier. That's what it does. 

I feel motivated to be back on my 3-4x a week. That's the easier part. Now, if I could just get the nutrition dialed in for reals, I would be unstoppable. 

I always say, I am the spokesmodel for the phrase "You cannot out exercise a bad diet." Because on weeks I work out a ton, the scale doesn't budge because I eat like an idiot. 

This has to change. 

This is something I have told myself a hundred times before.  I've also said it in this very blog.  But I do need to change. I've been trying to come up with a tracking plan, outside of my usual MyFitnessPal, etc. I have lots of the packets from the liquid diet I did so it will have some of that mixed in.  You know, in case I didn't bring enough food some day.  That will keep me from wandering to the snack table. 

I have a competition in a month.  There's a huge motivator, I will be 40 in just over a year and a half.  I would like to do something fun for that birthday.  Maybe a cruise, or a trip to Hawaii or somewhere I can wear a bathing suit and relax in a chaise and read a book.  Yes, I definitely need to change the way this body looks before I would feel comfortable doing that.

I need to start blogging every day to keep myself accountable on how I am taking care of myself, both mentally and physically.  I just need to start taking care of myself.  

I hope you are having a wonderful day.  

See you next time!  

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Admitting it.

My name is Nikki, and I suffer from depression.

There.  I said it. I've probably said it before but I am taking a good long look at myself and my health both from the physical and mental standpoints.  Can't just fix the outer packaging if the inner engine parts aren't functioning where they should be.  That includes the brain functions too. 

My life hasn't been easy.  In a lot of ways, it actually was fantastic.  And, in others, it's been a shitshow.  Do I care to share some of those bigger shit-showy moments from being a kid?  No. Not particularly, because there is a total of 2 people who know what they are and that is because those two people also shared some awful things with me.  Do I regret anything from being a kid?  No.  Because there are strengths that I have that came from the adversity those things brought.   I think those things also made it so that I could climb over the mountains that were yet to come.

The first time the word depression was mentioned to me by a doctor was when my dad died.  I was 20 years old and it was strongly suggested that I take an anti-depressant because I had just had a loss, not too long after a previous major loss and there were other things as well.  I agreed and tried it.  What happened next was awful.  Well, that's a bad word used to describe it.  I felt absolutely NOTHING.  This is not how I wanted to feel.  I was a writer, I needed to have emotions and feeling and be able to emote on paper.  I couldn't even emote in life.  So, I gave them up.  I felt I was better dealing with things on my own. And, for the most part .... I was. 

In 2012, I got sick. The regular kind of sick that everyone gets.  Bad cold, sinus pressure, blah blah blah.  It was a 'sinus infection'.  Cool, never had one of those before.  Well, it wasn't.  What followed was 8 months of me trying to find out why this crap wasn't going away until I found myself in an emergency room being told I had pneumonia. Guess what?  It wasn't pneumonia either.  Long story short, I was diagnosed with cancer and an autoimmune thyroid disease almost simultaneously.  Shortly after that, they added the Wegener's Granulomatosis cherry on top.  Really?  I lived a good life, I worked hard, I was kind and a good person and this kept happening.  It felt like every time I went to the doctor, they had a new diagnosis for me.

I told my doctor in an appointment.  "What's the fucking point?" She asked if I was suicidal.  I said "absolutely not".  Because, in everything that has gone on in my life, I have never once wanted to die.  Never.  I actually very much wanted to live and still do.  So it was incredibly frustrating to feel like my body had a different plan.

She prescribed anti depressants again.  Same story as before, it didn't. work.  Not at all.  I felt worse, not.  Once again, I was feeling well enough to get through this darkness on my own.  Because it wasn't always around. It would pop up every now and again, and then it would go away.

Recently, I took a class on Peer Support for First Responders (everyone who does a job like I do: EMTs, dispatchers, police officers, firefighters, paramedics, etc). OK, i say recently when the class ended YESTERDAY.  Anyway, while in that class, a lot of things came up for me while listening to people talk or videos, etc.  I realized that ... yes, I do have depression. It's there.  It might not always hang over me like a dark cloud, but it lingers back there in everything I do.

I am insecure as shit.  I have things that happened in mylife that have taught me that my looks matter in people's opinion of me, that if I do nice things for people - they will like me. I am insecure in that I worry about what I said/did, etc in a day and if they were annoyed by me.  I know that the first rule we try to teach people is that we shouldn't care what people think of us, we need to be happy with ourselves but, I struggle with that probably every single day.

Some days, I am super proud of myself.  I am happy with how far I have come from being sick and sitting on my ass to doing CrossFit and actually doing a competition next month for CrossFit.  I did the Open which I never thought I would do.  So I know I can do things.  I have moments of pride in what I've accomplished ... but more often than not, they are overshadowed by my fear that I am not doing good enough.  I am not enough as I am and I need to be better.

Do I want to try medications?  No.  I don't.  Because when I do my workouts regularly, I am in and incredibly good place. Not only am I setting goals for myself and smashing them, but I am around a group of people that don't make me think about work, are willing to listen if I want to talk about work, but are completely unaffiliated with my job whatsoever.  They are supportive and kind, and I feel like I have something that is 100% not connected to work that makes me happy. 

Anyway, the purpose of this blog was for me to put it out there.  I have depression.  I do.  I may have not openly admitted it before and maybe I have and can't remember.  I just don't think I have ever embraced it like this before and accepted it as part of who I am.  I know that I have anxiety.  That's quite clear with m y worry about what people think, my worry about all the things outside my control that plague me.  But, I am telling the world I have depression.  It's OK.  A lot of people have things they are struggling with mentally.

It's OK to not be OK.  Let's get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health struggles.  Being embarrassed certainly doesn't help people going through it and honestly, there probably isn't a single person walking this earth right now who doesn't have SOMETHING they are dealing with in their life that they may not want to share with anyone else.

I am really going to try and check back in daily because I feel like I need to hold myself accountable.  I want to get back to my 3-4x a week CrossFit.  I want to be tackling my nutrition head on, and I want to be physically healthy as well as mentally healthy and I know there are some other changes that have to occur for that last one to take place.  Baby steps, no?

I hope you will join me in embracing everyone who has their own private struggles and letting them know they aren't alone.  Because if you're talking to me,  you aren't alone ... because I am right there with you.  I just may not want to show it all the time.