A mum of 2 trying to stay sane in an overly airbrushed world.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Running Nowhere Fast

I started running 14 weeks ago. Previous running experience? A few badly trained for 5ks and a lone 10k which I definitely didn’t train to complete...

Prior to this 4 month running spree I would have told you I’d rather have had chemotherapy than run (this is now not wholly true) I’d now rather have chemo than run anywhere for longer than 40 minutes! Looking at the positives this is a marginal improvement.

My husband reminds me that 14 weeks ago I was struggling with the 1 minute run sections of couch to 5k - this is entirely true, so why do I feel so horrendously useless that getting past 40 minutes is an impossible dream at the moment?!

I’ve assessed my running ‘goals’ and it’s hard to really know what I want...

  1. Do I want a fast time? 
  2. Do I want to prove I can run a set distance?
  3. Am I just trying to run without walking for the longest time possible? 
  4. Do I just want to enjoy it?
  5. Do I want it to feel easy?
  6. Do I want to be fitter?
  7. Do I just want to lose weight?
The easy answer is I want all of those things... my mind is niggled with annoyance when I run:

  • Why do my split times not get any quicker EVER?
  • Why am I struggling to do distances I was able to do 6 weeks ago?
  • Why have I not improved a PB, when I’m putting so much time in?
I really felt I achieved something with couch to 5k, this 5k to 10k slog is just making me feel useless.

The only thing that keeps me going so readily (religiously 3 times a week) is the absolute fear that if I miss a run and it snowballs into me stopping altogether then it will be too hard to restart from day 1 all over again. 

1 week on from when I wrote the above and things haven’t improved; I took things back to basics - ditched the Nike running app, switched off all voice indicators when  running and just tried to run a route without stopping and still had to walk about 20 mins in FFS!! I can do it - I have done it but for some reason achieving a 6.5km run with no stops has totally knocked my mind out of the game. So I did what any normal struggling ‘athlete’ would and I signed up for a 10km in 3 weeks time! Lovely. Jubbly. 

I have no plan; I’m just hoping that I knock some sense into my self and regain the mental strength to just keep going instead of making myself walk!! The real irony of this whole blog is that I run/walk my distances quicker than if I just straight run them! WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT??!! 

Any tips or ideas greatly welcomed...I have 24 days to get my running mojo back! 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Chemo Diaries: Part 1.2

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." - Gloria Steinem

24th August 2017: Days past chemo -----> 2

Woke up feeling physically good, mentally not so strong today...I just want to be normal again and worrying about mundane things. The thought of having to do this a minimum of 5 more times is daunting - I don't want anymore cannulas, chemo side-effects or change. I don't want to be the dick in the GP queue handing in a letter about my post chemo body; I want to be the girl in front telling the receptionist that she just got married and is 5 weeks pregnant (I don't even want more kids - I just got jealous and don't want this life for my family).

Pity party over...symptom wise the tummy ache I felt this morning faded by lunchtime and its just mostly an anxious day. Nausea is better this evening - which could be down to some anti-sickness bands I got sent from a friend at work.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Summer Fruits #lovefreshcherries Challenge

This summer has been full of unexpected surprises: 
  1. the actual real life sunshine staying around for longer than a week.
  2. the English football team nearly actually living the dream at the word cup
  3. the kids actually discovering a new fruit they like!
When we were asked to take part in the #lovefreshcherries challenge with BritMums I was dubious of taking up a fruit based challenge. Aside from bananas, strawberries and raspberries we don't have the biggest fruit fans and they aren't known for their adventurous palettes.

Turns out de-stoning cherries is exciting stuff - they loved getting involved and helping to prepare them and found them to be really juicy and sweet so they were a winner! They also loved that we made brownies with them (recipe below).

On the information that came with our #lovefreshcherries kit I was also surprised to find out that cherries contain melatonin which helps to promote healthy sleep patterns - now surely that is winning on all levels, not only one of the 5 a day but also something to help the kids sleep!

To really promote the new fruit to my two I decided to mix cherries with their favourite song of the summer (Three Lions) and the results were as follows...

Fresh Cherries for Dessert by Henry aged 4

Here's our recipe for Cherry Chocolate brownies:

130g butter
150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
55g cherries
225g caster sugar
55g cocoa powder
75g plain flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 large free-range eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas 4. Line a 20cm square baking tin (or the equivalent) with greaseproof paper.
  2. Melt the butter and dark chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water).
  3. De-stone the cherries and roughly chop them along with the pecans. Stir into the melted chocolate, then take off the heat.
  4. In another bowl, add the sugar, then sift in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder. Add to the melted chocolate mixture and stir till well combined.
  5. Beat the eggs and mix in. Roughly chop and stir through the milk or dark chocolate (if using).
  6. Transfer the mixture to the tin, then bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You want them a little gooey in the middle.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool in the tray, before cutting into squares.
This post is an entry for the BritMums #lovefreshcherries challenge, sponsored by Love Fresh Cherries (@lovefreshcherries).

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Chemo Diaries: Part 1.1

"Opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized." - Sheryl Sandberg

23rd August 2017: Days past chemo -----> 1

I spoke (or wrote) too soon last night, I had gone downhill by 7pm 😬.

My chemo started at 2pm and I was done by 4pm, I'd felt fine and stupidly cocky come home and had a celebratory chips and curry sauce from the chip shop. BIG MISTAKE.

7pm came and I was hit by terrible nausea, I took myself to bed and tried to sleep it out. Things got worse and by 11pm my husband was on the phone to the hospital for help to work out which (if any) anti-sickness drugs I could take as I battled the overwhelming urge to be sick...too scared to even open and close my eyes the sensation was that bad.

My biggest advice at this point is to never be too proud or scared to call the emergency helpline number they give you - never just suffer in silence! That one call helped us take some control of the situation. I then managed to sleep through and woke up feeling LOADS better!

So far today, so good...evening nausea did return though but luckily I had saved my good anti-sickness to overcome this. Still makes me scared to even attempt an evening meal after the chips and curry sauce fiasco - but night 2 was nowhere near as bad as night 1.

Monday, 6 August 2018

The Chemo Diaries: Part 1

Its taken almost a year for me to face typing these up, not because I was scared, scarred or traumatised - I just didn't want to keep reliving it. Once your in your chemo cycles you live for the days when chemo isn't the first and last thing you think about, you just want to get as far away from it as possible - for as long as possible.

I had every intention of writing this diary for all 6 of my chemo cycles, but by cycle 3 I barely wanted to talk about it - let along write about it.

Here's what I did get, as I wrote it and unedited...I hope it can do something to provide answers, hope and tackle any curiosities you may have about chemotherapy.

Cycle 1 - FEC-T Chemotherapy: 22nd August 2017

"The best motto for a long march is "Don't grumble. Plug on" You hold your future in your own hands." - Sir Frederick Treves

Waiting I hope is a hell of a lot worse than any of the treatments i'm about to start; pain I can handle! I know nothing can rival childbirth, the loss of hair I feel more accustomed to now I have my wig and enough headgear to keep the 'scarf stage' interesting...the pure vanity within me is still worried about the weight gain - silly really when the other option is death! Lets hope cancer is my time for the weight to just fall off, other times this has been possible but never materialised were:
  • the transition from student to full time work
  • being a mother 
The pounds were meant to just drop off on both occasions...NOPE! My greed and dietary choices laughed in the face of both.

As I wait to be hooked up its like waiting to be both killed and cured, don't really want to do it but I have to. Just trying to balance the thoughts with things I hate doing normally; would I want to do them now?

Poos on the potty? NO

Pottery painting with Henry? NO

Taking Henry for injections? NO

Delivering a presentation at work? NO

Chemo wins - dramatic as it sounds, I would rather do; much easier to just handle my own emotions and expectations!

Having the treatment is painless - having the cannula inserted in the hand is never going to be nice but its done well by nurses who could do it blindfolded. I'm having FEC-T so this round consisted of a few infusions of pink liquid and 1 of clear liquid. The only thing I felt from any of this was in the final infusion of a clear liquid - a sensation like when you jump in a pool and you inhale water up your nose; I got that all over my face. 90 minutes it took in total and not a second of it dragged.

Post treatment I feel woozy, but not too dissimilar to how you feel if you have a few early drinks without eating.

1 down - I CAN DO THIS!

To be continued...

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss

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