August 7th is a special day in my calendar and has been for the last 5 years. On this day 5 years ago I was hallucinating in the ICU after spending 6 hours with my head clamped to a table in surgery. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it.
Going into surgery on August 7th, 2015 was the scariest day of my life and a close second was March 18th, 2015 standing in the emergency department in my pj’s being diagnosed with a brain tumour. The months that followed the diagnosis were challenging. My oldest son was in kindergarten my youngest in diapers. I was a mom to a 2 year old and 5 year old, first year graduate student and unsure of what the future might hold. Life was scary.
Today and every day I celebrate walking from the experience away a brain tumour survivor. Walking away was a feat in itself, my first walk (the length of a hallway) about 3 days after surgery involved my husband carrying my catheter bag like a purse, and IV pole and sunglasses. I will let you picture that because there are no pictures of that part.
My battle scars still exist, I have a nice 3″ scar behind my left ear, a metal plate covering the hole in my skull, and strength I didn’t know I had. I blame my inability to spell and the odd thing I think I can get away with on my now non-existent tumour.
Each year around my craniversary I challenge myself to partaking in an activity that requires balance. From paddle board yoga to rock climbing I have tried some interesting new things over the last 4 years, and this year I took the opportunity to enjoy an inflatable waterpark in Harrison Hot Springs with my husband and kids. While I still have rubber rug burn on my butt from the waterpark slides it is nothing compared to those first 5 days in the hospital.
After 5 years it’s time to close this chapter and move forward. To those still battling, you got this!
When I turned 37 I wished for health for my birthday which in hind-site was like hoping to win the lottery without buying a ticket. My health wish was followed a few months later with a brain tumour, which isn’t all that healthy. Fast forward a year and a bit and the tumour is gone but my health is still a little dodgy. I love sugar, alcohol and carbs, and I am not a big fan of exercise.
Last year as in the start of 2015 I made the resolution to get healthy and I started exercising which is what led me to the brain tumour diagnosis. I am laying it all on the line by telling you that I started the “Bikini Body Mommy Challenge”. I can hear you laughing from here, don’t spit your coffee all over your electronic device. By workout number 2 I was lying flat on my back (it wasn’t part of the exercise regime). I experienced a pain in my head that was blinding. Which I now know was Timmy the tumour telling me that he wasn’t going to let me exercise.
For the 8 long months pre-surgery I limited my exercise to walking, lots and lots of walking. I threw in a reduced sugar, carb and alcohol diet. For the record it was my neurosurgeon’s suggestion to limit alcohol not mine, unless I am growing a tiny human alcohol and I are BFF’s. Post surgery I ate like I have never seen food and un did all my pre-surgery healthy habits. But I also learned how fast muscles atrophy from the 6 days stint I did in the hospital. My calves have never been so small (read jiggly).
Here I am now tumour free and recovered. I started the “Bikini Body Mommy Challenge” again (I can still hear you laughing) and have successfully made it past workout 10. I told my husband about my plans before I started and this is how the conversation went.
Me: I started that bikini body thing again, you know the one I tried last year
him: uh, hun
Me: it’s 90 days long, that’s a long time
him: you realize that fitness and being healthy is really a life long thing right (says the guy who goes to the gym everyday).
Me: oh crap (I know he’s right, just don’t tell him that)
He gave a rather short lecture (because he doesn’t ever say much) on the importance of exercising our aging bodies and the importance of strength. I know that this is not optional, if I want to be healthy I actually need to act, not just hope or wish. I am committed to the exercise daily and have reduced my carb intake substantially to one donut a day (just kidding, no donuts) but the alcohol stays.
Wish me luck on this 90 day (78 days left but who is counting) fitness challenge. If you want a good laugh come by any day around 4 I will be attempting my exercises with my trainers aged 3 and 6. One rolls on the ground by my feet and the other constantly yells “look at me mommy” while attempting to follow along. It’s a full on shit show and I am the star (at least most days).
P.S. Laughter is the best medicine. I hope you burned a few calories reading my post.
I ran and just to clarify no one was chasing me. Running might not seem like a big deal but 8 weeks post brain surgery it is. Running was the last thing on my post craniotomy “to do” list. My brain tumour issues started over Christmas break 2014 when I got sharp pains in my head from an increase in blood pressure. Running was one of the few things that my doctors suggested that I didn’t do when I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. As a result it has been 9 months since I have been running or done any form of vigorous physical activity. Running had been my only form of exercise because it’s free, easy and fast. We were given a treadmill so it’s both free and convenient. I don’t have to arrange childcare to exercise, and I can run at any time.
When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour I stopped exercising. In truth when I got diagnosed I stopped doing everything but as the weeks progressed I started getting back into my old routines. Exercise was a struggle and I started packing on the pounds. So my husband and I changed our eating habits to compensate. Eating clean helped and I walked and things were under control. Then I went in for surgery and for 4 weeks post surgery I didn’t do much in the way of exercise. The first few days in the hospital I couldn’t eat, but then I was starving. My logic was that my body was healing from a pretty invasive surgery and if I was hungry I would eat. I wasn’t eating grass clipping (salad) though, I was eating whatever I wanted. The weight that I had lost before surgery had crept its way back during my recovery. I went to my GP after 4 weeks and was told to hold off on the running until I saw the neurosurgeon. I saw my surgeon 8 weeks post surgery and he said to try running and see how I feel.
In truth I was a little scared to try running again. What if I got dizzy, fell and hurt myself? I am a little worried about bumping my head now. But I ran anyway. I ran for 10 minutes stopped and cried. Not because my head hurt, not because I was dizzy but because I did it. Running marked the END. I completed everything on my post surgery to do list. I have come full circle and I am back at a new beginning.
P.S when I run now I don’t cry. I just run and watch Netflix :).