How fitting that my last post, some 6 months ago, was titled On Hiatus. It must have been my subconscious writing that day as I really did have no immediate plans to abandon my blog. Apologies aside, I'm back. Now let me catch you up to speed...
Basically, I was feeling like real crap. Crap with a capital C. The kind of crap that you just can't put your finger on so you ignore it, chalk it up to getting older and trudge forward dragging one foot at a time. I knew something was off but I just couldn't quite pin it down. Was it Joe? Was it the kids? Was it work? Was it CF? Was it the house? The dog? The yard? The bills? Uhm, no dumbass it's YOU!
Once I made that startling revelation, I grabbed the phone and made an appointment for a complete physical, something I had neglected to do since turning into a human incubator for the past 5 years. While on hold with the receptionist it dawned on me that I had serviced my car more frequently than I had my own body. The girl who had once been so responsible about getting a yearly physical, had taken a hiatus on her own health, servicing only her vagina for those nasty postpartum checks once every eleven months. Vagina be damned. Enough was enough.
As I drove to my appointment the following week, I was nervous - sweaty palms kind of nervous. I knew that the scale was not going to be kind and the doctor even less. Let's face it, 4 pregnancies in less than 5 years does not a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model make. I thought back to the old me - the me who had taken up running 8 to 10 miles a day 'for fun'...what had happened to that girl? I was trapped inside a body that wasn't mine and absolutely everything ached. Doing the math, it was not hard to understand why either. Since Charlie's birth nearly 5 years ago, I had put on 160 pounds yet had only managed to shed half as much. By the time Henry was born I looked like Jabba the Hut, tipping the scales at 239 pounds. Everyone kept feeding my ego about the pregnacy glow - yeah, it was a glow alright...a red hot mess of a glow.
Dr. K walked in, asked how I was doing and I burst out in tears.
"Not, good..." I snorted. "Not good at all." Between sobs I told her how tired, how depressed, how frustrated, how completely spent I was. I told her about how stressed out I was about cystic fibrosis and how I felt like I was always waiting for the roof to cave in, the other shoe to drop...basically, for the shit to hit the fan. I had practiced on the drive in to work the converstation of me being completely open and honest with my doctor. And for the first time in my adult life, I was. If she was gonna bill my insurance for this visit, she was gonna earn every penny of it, dammit. No more feigning Mrs. Good Patient. I was coming clean.
I'm not one to break apart so easily - at least I like to think so. Evidently, though this is not the case. It was kind of like a breach in a dam; once the leak was sprung, everything came spilling out. She listened, I bawled. She listened some more, I ranted. A little blood work, some urine and a few tissues for the road and I was done. As we say in Spain, pis pas no más. I was out the door.
Life went back to normal - whatever that means and I waited for her call that labs were back and it was time to consider Prozac. Instead, I got a personal invitation to come back in to go over the results. I had a sinking feeling wash over me. Breast cancer? A brain tumor? Schizophrenia? I was a mess.
"Well, we have your labs. Quite interesting really..."
Great, I thought. I'm dead.
"Remember how upset you were at the last visit? How you complained of being so tired, so depressed?"
My throat, dry a as a bone, I barely managed a "Mmmhmmm..."
"Well, I checked your thyroid. Kelly, a normal functioning thyroid will score in the range of 3 to 4; high being in the teens."
Oh God. It's over. I have cancer.
"Your thyroid came in at 136. It's the highest score I've ever seen in more than 15 years of practice."
"It explains everything, Kelly. This is why you have been feeling so down. Your thyroid has been underperforming and so your pituitary gland has been dumping excess hormone levels into it in hopes of kick starting it. But what's happening is that it's flooding your system, causing you to be overly tired, lethargic and yes, even depressed."
Screwed yet again by bad genetics. Dammit.
"I'm putting you on a thyroid medication, and a daily dose of vitamin B. We'll follow up in six weeks to reassess and if need be, tweak the dosage."
That's it? No chemo? "Uh, okay."
That was in how my conversation ended with Dr. K on August 17th. Now, 4 months and over 150 miles later,
I can say, erh...I can shout, "I'M BACK. THIS BITCH IS BACK!"
At last appointment, my thyroid, cholesterol, and weight were all within normal range and I feel like ME again. Is it the meds? Well yeah, they definitely helped to get things under control but I don't attribute everything to them. I've been working out daily and working out hard core, like I used to. The treadmill that once mocked me, now winces when it sees me coming. The .8 of a mile that nearly brought me to my knees is now a cool 10 mile run, balls to the wall as I like to say, with NO pit stops. I hear Ronnie Sharpe pushing me with "...you can do anything for just one more minute, can't you?" I hear CysticGal pounding that treadmill and baptizing those new lungs of hers as HERS. I hear Maylie's fit of giggles as she jumps higher and higher on that trampoline out back. I hear Charlie coach Lola to "take a big breath, hold it as long as you can and let's see who can stay under longer." And the mommy guilt that once was no longer is. I decided that in order for me to be a good (insert noun), I have to lead by example. How can I ask my kids to adhere to an hour or more daily health regimen if I myself can't even maintain one? If I want Charlie, Lola and Henry to love the feeling of a good workout then it's my responsibility to show them; not just talk the talk but walk the walk. I traded my 5AM drive into school to work on lesson plans that may or may not get rave reviews for a 5AM drive to the YMCA. I kept "21 days to make a habit" as my mantra knowing that if I could stick with it long enough, it would be a need not a just a seemingly intangible want. I tuned out the excuses and plugged in to those who were leading by example; mainly my friends on CysticLife.
Then, almost by dare, I took it up a notch. I signed up for my official comeback. March 20, 2010 I will be running my first half marathon since gosh, I can't even remember how long its been. Of course I'm running for my cause, CF. One of the many rock stars of the CF community, Emily Schaller, has organized a virtual race, Out Run CF. The concept is so genius - sign up to run, pay your twenty bucks (all of which goes to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation), pick your distance, then no matter where you are on 3/20/11, RUN IT.
I am running to raise funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis. I am running because I have two strong legs, two great lungs and two awesome kids who are chasing good health. I am running because I want to show my kids, all three of them, that comebacks are the norm not the exception. I am running because I can.
And I invite you, my long lost friends, to do the same.
RUN. WITH. ME.