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Round and Round We go

We all know that I’m not the bad ass that I used to be.   Not that I was ever the baddest of the baddest bad asses,  but for me and where I started I was pretty bad.    Things change.   Life is full of hills and valley’s.   It is very easy to get stuck in the valley.  Right now, I’m in search of the keys to start engine to get up the hill.

It’s time that I admit that even with my health issues that my running (or lack of running) is not all tied to it.   Yes, it started with the thyroid and calcium problems; but it is so much more now.   It’s a vicious cycle.   Due to the health stuff, I couldn’t run as much.   Not running or exercising as much caused me to loose a lot of my carido strength.   Loosing the cardio strength made running more difficult.   When the running became more difficult, I didn’t want to run as much.

Round and Round we go.

This doesn’t even take into account the mental part of it.

This past week I went for six miles.   By one and half miles in, my legs are burning, heavy, and tired.   My breathing is heavy.    I just want to stop.   Now mind you, I am not even pushing the pace AT ALL.   I thought about turning around and going home, but I didn’t.   And truth be told that is all that I can ask of myself.

Honestly though I do need to ask myself to get out the door more.  Part laziness.   Part knowing it will be hard.   And part wondering if it is worth it.   I know that I will get out.   I know that I am doing a half in January, but here is another fact.   I don’t really care.   I am not motivated.   This is the mental part that I’m talking about.

I ask myself, “Is it worth it.”

Here is the truth.   My legs are sore just from just standing all day baking cookies.   I’m exhausted by the end of a non running day.    It’s actually depressing.   So imagine how I feel on running days.   Although, at least those days I have a reason why.

In the next few weeks before Fred Lebow,  my doctor is going to be adjusting my medications.   I recently took a 24 hour urine test (not as fun as it sounds -Ha).   I failed it swimmingly.     According to my doctor, a normal calcium level for this test is 200.   Someone who is Hypopara, it should be 300.   This is due to the high amounts of calcium/meds  we have to take.   Mine was 578.    So adjust medication we will because if not this will not bode well for my kidneys.

One of the reasons that my levels are so high is that currently my blood calcium levels are great.   They are right where they were prior to surgery.   Sounds good, right?   Wrong.   The levels need to come down and they need to come down a decent amount.   I have to find what is the level to feel good enough to function while protecting my kidneys.   Can you see the dilemma?

To answer my question though.

It is worth it.

But I need to balance it with my actual life.  I’ve already decided that Fred Lebow will be what it will be.   This is no longer a goal race.   The only goal is to finish which I will.

I am making the NY Half marathon a goal race.   I’m not sure the goal, but this race I will give what I’ve got.   I’ll get there.   I just have to not only get my body there, but my mind.

One day at a time.

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Don’t Let Fear Stop You

According to FDR “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”   While I totally agree with this statement that doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.   It’s also not all good either.   Fear is a powerful thing.   It can hold you back.   It can make you plant your feet in one spot and not move forward.   It can keep you from reaching your potential.

There are times when we wear our fears right out in the open, but these fears are usually minor.   Like fear of spiders or watching a horror movie.   Then there are times we hold onto fears that we aren’t even aware of as we don’t want to admit the truth because it makes them real.   Once we admit to the truth of our fears, then and only then can we begin to let go and deal with them.

So I’ve been pretty out in the open in dealing with my Hypoparthyroidism aka calcium issue.  Again people hear calcium and you think bone and teeth, but did you know that calcium is the most common mineral in the body and one of the most important?  Yes it’s needed for bones and teeth, but it also helps nerves work, helps blood clot, the heart to work, and keeps muscles from cramping.  There is probably some other stuff, but I’m still learning.   With this your bone density changes over time and although your bones are thicker, they may be more fragile and prone to breakage.    Did you further know that calcium levels decrease during exercise?    For a healthy person, the body will adjust but when the glands (Parathyroid) responsible no longer function properly there is no adjustment.

 That being said, I’ve been holding onto a lot of fear when it comes to it.   Part of that comes from feeling like I was on my own medical wise.    Yes, I’ve been under the care of an Endocrinologist this last year, but even then I felt like I was on my own.   This condition is not common.  It’s even listed under the National Organizations of Rare disorders.   There is a lot not understood about it even in the medical community.  I still am just beginning to understand how it’s all connected but mostly I go by how I feel.

Prior to my thyroid surgery my surgeon told me that there was less than a 1% chance that this could occur, but if it did it would just mean that I would have to take calcium.   I did not fully understand the impact it would have on me and I’m pretty certain neither did the surgeon.  After the surgery when it became apparent that besides no longer having a thyroid but that my parathyroid glands no longer worked, I saw two separate Endocrinologists.   The first one was good, but I was looking for one more versed in this disorder.   To be honest I think I was better off with the first one because she seemed willing to learn with me.   The best way to describe it was as if a patient was told that they were diabetic and needed to take insulin, but were not given any facts how to manage it.    That being said, I also did my own research found an online support group and learned what I could.   Anytime I would ask a question my second doctor, his response was always, “Your numbers are good.”   But I knew from my own research that my numbers might be too good which could lead to a whole host of problems with my kidneys.   So I persisted.

So after literally months of waiting, I finally was able to see a doctor in a major teaching hospital whose focus and studies involve hypoparthyroidism.   She literally teaches doctors about it while also studying it.    I will say that the best part of seeing her was the feeling of validation of my concerns, the way I’ve been literally feeling, and knowing that my doctor actually knows how to manage the disorder.    She also agreed with me that although my numbers are good, they might be too good for the long therm.   We discussed treatment options,  testing that I should get, and such.   She also gave me her cell phone number which she said she gives to all her hypopara patients.   Seriously, what doctor does that?

So I left her office with a sense of relief.   Nothing had changed, yet it was all so different.

Now if you’ve made it this far, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with my running…..  Because of all this crap, things are different when it comes to my running.   I tire more easily after training.   I definitely am more sore and cramp easier.   I’ve also been afraid to push my limits which I’ve mentioned before.   On top of that due to the thyroid and not running as much, my weight continues to go up.  This starts a viscus cycle because it makes it even harder to run, I’m out of breath easier, and I can’t keep up.  It’s amazing how much things can change in a year.   I’m hoping by my second anniversary of my surgery, I will be in a better place and back to the confident runner that I was before.   I may down the road decide that I need to tackle the marathon distance again, but not yet.   Right now my focus is on preparing for my January half.

I’m not giving up.   I’m not backing down.   I’m moving forward slightly more confidently because now I know that if I do have issues that I can ask my doctor who will actually understand and be able to help me with it.

start-where-you-are-use-what-you-have

364 Days

So tomorrow marks one year on this magic carpet ride.   Last year at this time, I was prepping for my thyroidectomy.   You know the usually stuff you do prior to a surgery – make sure your will is up to date, make sure the house is clean, make sure the fridge is stocked, Oh and make sure Thanksgiving Dinner was ordered.

Going in I was prepared for the recovery of the surgery.   I was prepared with having to deal with getting my dosage right for my meds to replace my now missing thyroid.   Easy Peasy.    I really was not worried at all.    You see, I knew so many people who either had their thyroid removed or knew someone who had theirs removed.    Another ace in the hole was one of my sons although he has a thyroid, it has not functioned since birth.   To be honest, my only concern was that a surgeon was going to literally be slicing open my neck.   That was my main focus.   Everything else would just work itself out.

So now I am one day shy of my surgery and I realize that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.   The blip on the screen was much bigger than I thought it would be.  Still trying to adjust the thryoid meds which is really what I attribute my 15 pound weight gain this last year too.   Oh and the fact that my running took a dive. It’s a work in progress.

This last year has been an adjustment both physically and mentally.   Prior to the surgery I in my mind was chasing a 4:15 marathon, completed a 50 K, and was pushing my limits.   I did not realize that post surgery dealing with parathyroid glands that decided that they no longer would want to function properly that my limits would change and change drastically.  I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as Parathyroid gland let alone 4 that were very important.

Over time, I may get back to where I was but realistically speaking I am not getting any younger.   In less than 2 years, I will be hitting a number many refer to as a milestone even, but we aren’t there yet!

Where we are is a celebration of where I am today.

Today

Is it where I want to be?   Not exactly.   That being said….

I ACTUALLY RAN THIS WHOLE THING.

There was no walking.   There was no stopping.   There was only running.   And while I will admit that it was so much harder than it used to be and I was so happy to hit the end, it is so much better than it has been.    Life gives you what it gives you.   Today it gave me 3 miles.   For today that is enough.   I admit that some days it’s not, but as I continually remind myself….. You can’t live in the past.    You can’t spend your life living the should of , could of, and would of’s of life.   You get what you get and you don’t get upset.   And my personal favorite that my sister hates….

It is What it is!

So today, I look back on not where I was prior to 11-18-2016, but how far I have come since then.    The support that my friends have given me has helped me continue to push on.    You have been there when I have complained about my aches, my pains, my feeling tired all the time,  and everything else in between.   So this is my shout out to you……   For listening when I complained.   For understanding.  For your ideas and suggestions.  For run/walking with me when I need to and when I need to again and everything in between.   It hasn’t been an easy year learning to deal with “the new normal,” but thanks for taking the trip with me.

 

PS – I’m still following my training plan for the January Half Marathon.   One week down:)

Creeping Up There….

I went out yesterday for what should have been a “easy” 6 miles.    Even skipping my normal training in Vermont, these 6 miles shouldn’t have been that difficult.   I was not in the mood to keep track of time, so I decided to just keep the pace slow and I would give myself a walk break every mile.   Seemed like the way to go.

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As you can see from the long red and orange line, even at these paces I was working hard.   Harder than I feel that I should, but I imagine the paces don’t really tell it all as it evens out with the walking.  Still need to work on it.   Part of the problem is that in the 8 months since my surgery I have gained 10 pounds.    I’ve never been what one would call petite.   That being said, I had remained steady in my weight for many years.   As I’ve blogged before in Laying It Out There even though the numbers never changed, I could tell that it was redistributing with added muscle.   Sadly, I can not say that now.

Part of the weight gain I attribute to not exercising as much post surgery.   Part of it might be from thyroid surgery while getting my levels correct.  Part of it might be Christmas and winter coming during this non running time.   While I don’t care about the extra weight per se, I do care that my clothes are not necessarily fitting the way that I like them.   I also think this is part of why I am struggling a bit with my running.    Yes, my legs are more sore than before, but that doesn’t account for all the heavy breathing.

Now is the what to do, what to do moment.   I honestly and whole hardheartedly hate dieting.   It’s not my thing baby.   

That being said, I am creeping up to another big milestone that I do think I would be upset to hit as it would be how much I weighed when I was pregnant.

  I  know that with my hypoparathyroidism, I do need to do better with my diet.    It might help with the muscle cramps and other issues.    I have toyed with my diet for this reason, but never committed especially since I still think my parathyroid are going to bounce back and work properly.  I keep waiting for the doctor to tell me they made a mistake.   I know.   I know.   It’s a foolish pipe dream, but I still can’t fully admit that this is permanent and my life yet.   It’s a work in progress.

So maybe it is past time to meet with the nutritionist that I called and never followed up with an appointment.   Not for my clothes.   Not for the way I look, but for my health as I really need to eat a diet with less salt and more calcium rich foods.    There has been much discussion in my hypoparathyroid groups on what is a good diet and I really need to start paying attention.   Also, I really need to figure out proper fully for runs.

So maybe I could turn this all around.   You know make lemonade out of lemon kind of thing.

start-where-you-are-use-what-you-have

Moving forward is all you can do as sitting still is not an option.

 

 

 

Yes, It is Real.

 Yes, my running is coming along.   Yes, I’m getting stronger than I was before, but in my mind and body I knew that things still just weren’t right.   To the outsider looking in they might think that everything was ok.   I knew differently.   Mostly because as much as I talk, as much as I share; there is a whole host of things that I keep to myself.   Plus sometimes you begin to wonder, “is it me or is it because of the calcium levels.”

I really though that my thyroidectomy was just going to be a blip on the radar.  So many people in my inner circle either knew or even themselves had their thryroid removed.   It was just a simple procedure and then you just figure out what level of hormone pills to take.

Easy Peasy.

Yes, the doctors warned me of potential risks.   One of them actually being a problem with my calcium level.   But these were minor risks effecting less than 1% and really how hard is it to take calcium pills?   But just like the informational….  But there’s more.   So much more.

I’ve talked about the struggles that I’ve been having since coming back from my surgery.   I’ve mentioned that my calcium levels are never coming back.   I’ve accepted this.  The name for this is Hypoparathyroidism.    It is actually considered a rare disorder.   Yeah, me.   I like to be different.

Again, part of the problem is just trying to figure out if it’s me or my calcium.    Before my surgery a friend who had her thryoid removed gave me a piece of advice.   I’ll paraphrase.   She is also a runner, so she understands.   She said that I should remember that I am a marathon runner and that I know the things that my body can and have done.   If something doesn’t feel right after surgery, I will know because I know what I’m capable of doing.    I hold onto this advice as I try to sort out things.   It is with this thought that I am reminding myself that things just aren’t right when I get a full night sleep and am still exhausted and need a siesta during the day..

What I didn’t know though that I wasn’t alone.   It is a powerful thing when you realize that you are not the only one and it’s not just you.   It’s amazing the information that you can find on the World Wide Web that is actually useful.   The problem is weeding out the garbage.  I recently (like last night) stumbled upon a Facebook group for athletes who also have hypoparathyroidism.   Once I joined the group and started reading some of the posts, I wanted to cry.   Not because they were sad, but because I realized that I wasn’t alone.   I wasn’t babying myself.   I wasn’t making excuses.    These are things that have gone through my mind.    I realized that the “Suck it up Buttercup” mentality really didn’t apply.

From the site NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders) on side effects of low calcium.

  • The severity of the condition can range from mild symptoms such as a tingling or numbness in the fingers, toes or around the lips (paresthesias) to severe muscle cramps and muscle spasms
  • Additional symptoms that may be associated with hypoparathyroidism include fatigue, generalized weakness, muscle aches, anxiety or nervousness, and headaches. Affected individuals may also have dry, coarse skin, brittle nails, and patchy hair loss such as the thinning of the eyebrows. S
  • Depression, irritability, confusion, disorientation, mood swings and loss of memory have also been reported in individuals with hypoparathyroidism.

Because it is so rare and because people hear “low calcium” levels,  most people (and I was previously one of them) think that calcium is only for strong bones and good hair, but it really does effect so much more.   Then when researching and as told from my doctor the potential side effects of the treatment which for me is a minimum of 5,000 mg of Calcium a day (8 pill minimum throughout the day) with another medicine (Calcitriol) to help my body absorb the calcium., there can be severe side effects.   You can end up with calcium deposits on the brain, kidney stones, and such.   Good times.    According to my doctor, the goal then is to keep my calcium level just high enough to be right at the bottom level of proposed calcium levels, but not too high to cause problems.   Sure.

Easy Peasy.

One of the blogs I read summed it up perfectly.   They said that treating calcium levels is very similar to how a diabetic has to regulate their insulin levels.   Most diabetics can tell by the way they feel if their levels are high or low.   It’s about paying attention to their bodies.   The difference is that a diabetic can easily check their insulin levels at home.   This is not the case for those with hypoparathyroidism.    So it’s about paying attention.   It’s about knowing your body.   It’s about knowing this is a real issue that requires constant care.

I’ve already realized that when I come back from a run where I’ve pushed it, I can feel it.   Sometimes, I will get a twitch in my face.   My muscles are sorer than I remember them ever being.    I’m learning to handle it.  It’s about knowing that I need to roll with it.    I’m now learning from those that have already figured things out.   Life is all about learning, adapting, and doing all that you can.

So I’m going to figure this out.

its-not-what-happens-to-you-but-how-you-react-to-it

 

 

The Struggle is Real:)

For those who have been here you know that I’ve been struggling a little recently.  I could tell that I’ve been off both emotionally and physically.  I recently changed the way that I’ve been taking my medicine and I think the change is working.    I was waking up and taking my thyroid medicine, 2 of the 8 calcium pills that I take during the day, and another pill to help my body to absorb the calcium.   It now appears that when my thyroid was removed, my parathyroid glands were damaged or have decided they need an extended vacation.   There is a chance they could still bounce back and start working but it seems unlikely at this point.  Surgery was 3 months ago and most people are back to normal within two  weeks.   My doctor did say in rare cases it could take up to 6 months, but I’m not hopeful at this point.

My last blood work showed that my calcium was just under the normal limit.   This got me thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be taking everything at once in the morning.   I’ve never been a pill or medicine person, so maybe it was just too much for my body.   After talking to my pharmacist, I implement the change.   It has only been going on two weeks, but I really think it is making a difference.   I guess we will see when I go for my blood count again in two weeks.  I already think my calcium will be on target with the changes or at least I hope so.   I can tell my nails are not as brittle, but I’ve still got really dry skin.  Your guess is as good as mine.

And you thought calcium was just for strong bone and teeth.   Who knew calcium was so important?  Not me.  Live and learn.   It is important for a whole host of reason.

I do think though even if I have to tweak the calcium dosage that my thyroid levels should be good.   My doctor upped my dose a month ago and I think that those levels will be on target.   I have more energy.   I am also starting to get  back to my old self which I think getting back into my old routine is helping with.   I’m paying attention.

So what is that routine….

I’m still not where I was, but the good news is I don’t need to be there right now.   Since I wisely switched from the NJ Marathon to the Half Marathon, I don’t feel the need to push myself to the 40 miles a week I was running presurgery.   I do hope to build to a 20 to 25 a week, but I’m in no hurry.  My goal for NJ Half is just to finish.  Period.  End of Story.

Now that I’m looking forward, I also want to take time to reflect on my 2016 and how I fared.   This will allow me to FINALLY see what goals if any I want to set this year.   I’ll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

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It Seems So Far Away

So I thought that I should really start looking at my NJ Marathon Training plan.   Even though I am not running for a PR, I still need to be able to complete it. 26.2 miles don’t just happen.   It seems so far away, but when I get my handy dandy calendar out to count out the weeks I see that I am officially in marathon training.

13 weeks.

How did that happen?   I know that seems so far away, but it’s not. I’m ok with it though.   I think because of how I’m going into this marathon.  Either way, this weekend I will fine tune as in print out or really look at where I should be in my training.    I went out for 6 miles today.   Felt good, but I did do some walking.   What was interesting is that I didn’t stop my watch for walking.   I did stop it when I had to take a phone call and fix my shoe, but I kept it going otherwise.    My fiend that I was running with stopped her watch.

Now disregard the trouble I was having in the beginning as I was trying to fix my setting.   Anyway, as I’ve said before I plan to keep my watch running during training for my reality check.    Now I do like the second picture better and the splits looks o much prettier, but that is not where I am right now.   Although even with walking you can see we weren’t doing so badly and we only walked less than .4 miles.   Probably a lot less than the beginning of the month.   Even with the walking though I was pushing it as can be shown with my heart rate.

heartMy heart rate was up and actually in the red zone for training for 54% of the run.   I think that is a good run.   I actually felt good  today cardio wise.   The reason I wanted to walk was that yesterday I did cross training on the bike and my legs felt it on hills today.    I’ve still got to figure out which days I will be doing what.   I need to have an idea so that I don’t work my legs cross training before the day I’m going to do a long run.

Either way, I’m very happy.   I feel like I’ve been making progress.   I feel like I’m getting stronger.   Plus I am upping my thyroid medicine not for training but because my TSH levels show it needs to be raised.   Anyway this will only help me not just in training but overall.  Maybe then I won’t need a nap by the end of the day that I never seem to be able to take.  I think that is more about staying up too late and being a mom of 3 though.

Either way things are coming together.

How’s your training going?

 

Down but NOT Out

Patience

I’ve had surgery before.   I was prepared for that.    I know how to recovery from surgery and even though I’ve been told I’m a bad patient I think I’m a pretty good one.   I take my meds when I’m supposed to.   I’ve had more energy after having c-sections than I have after this procedure.   This I wasn’t prepared for.   I figured that I would bounce back to my normal self within a week.   Well it’s been a week and I’m not there yet.

For the most part I feel ok.   I’ve still got some soreness in my neck from the incision.   But there is more than that.   I’ve had some muscle pain in my shoulders and neck maybe from the way I’m holding my head.    Who knows?   Then there is the tingles, muscle spasms in the hand where my pointer finger locked up and I couldn’t bend it.   Didn’t last long but was freaky.   I want to feel like my normal self again.

I haven’t even  been doing much of anything.   To be honest, I’m not really ready to do much anyway.   I woke up today at 10:30 and by 2:30 I was ready for and took a nap.     This is not me and I don’t like it one bit.   Not at all.   Not to say that I haven’t been known to take an afternoon siesta on occasion, but this is different.    When I asked for advice, I was told rightly so that the body needs time to recovery from the trauma of surgery.   To think of how much energy it takes to recover from the flu and that one week really isn’t that much time.   I get this but patience really has never been my strong suit.   You might even say I’m an impatient person.

Add to the fact that this is my favorite time of year and I don’t feel like doing anything.   Although, I was very proactive and decorated my house presurgery so I do have that going for me.   I just thought that I would be back.

Today was the town Turkey Trot and as much as I loved seeing everyone’s photos, it did sting a little.   In my mind, I knew I wouldn’t be up to running it but my heart didn’t know it.   I’m also wondering what it is going to be like when I do finally get those running shoes back on.   Actually, I’m not even thinking of running.  (ok, I am).   I think that I will start with a walk.    That being said, I worry about how far and how fast I will be able to run once I get back out there.   It’s a concern.

A running friend who last year had the same procedure said that it will take time to make sure that I find the right dosage for my hormone levels.   I get that.   I just don’t like it.   Then I remind myself of the following:

  1.   In the whole scheme of things, this is nothing.
  2.  I’m very lucky that I have a supportive family/friends who are taking care of me
  3. That this is temporary
  4. People are dealing with much worse.

So it is all good, but I think I’m allowed and it is good to recognize the truth of how I’m feeling.

I may be down, but I’m not out….