The on-going, first-hand tale of a journey through medical oncology... and what happens after.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fitness - conceptually speaking, that is...

OK - as I noted in my last post, things are looking more and more normal. And they are feeling pretty normal too. I will admit to several second thoughts when it comes to a beer or a glass of wine, and my weight is at a place where I need to think about saying "no" to a second helping (or two). But all-in-all I am ready to think and act like 2011 just didn't exist.

As you will all remember, I have made a point of exercising throughout the whole non-existent 2011 cancer odyssey (redux). I highly recommend to any cancer patient/survivor that they explore the possibility of regular group exercise before, during, and after surgery/chemo. Even though there were (and will be) occasions when you just feel too fatigued to pull off any repetitions, I encourage you to stay with it. In the group setting, with other cancer patients/survivors, I gained a lot of energy and solid support. I cannot say enough about how good that ultimately made me feel. Having a trainer that is aware of cancer and its limitations was an unbelievable experience, and I think I am a better (and stronger) person for that.

Alas, stronger does not mean strong. A couple weeks ago I was chatting with the trainer, wondering if maybe I was ready to "graduate" since I was done with treatment. She simply asked me what my exercise plan was, and when I said I didn't have one she said I had to stay until I did. Wow. Sooooo.... I decided to try out the exercise class/trainer that my wife has been using, in a very basic "CrossFit" program that he was hosting on Thanksgiving Day. Now let me say that he is a great guy, and was very accommodating with my revealed weaknesses, but that class kicked my proverbial butt (and I was using only 15 pound barbells). For context, I have been benching 40+ pound barbells in each hand for a couple of weeks now. As it turns out, my core muscles are terribly weak.

Several "duhs" later - I now realize that I am in no condition for long cycling yet. Apparently have someone slice across your abdomen weakens your core incredibly, and sometimes it takes years to recover strength "down there." My lower back muscles are proportionately over-strong, and they are quick to cramp. I have a lot to learn, and lots of muscle to restore... but I plan several long rides in 2012 - maybe an STP and a Cycle Oregon? Anyone interested in joining me?


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Seven weeks later...

My last chemotherapy treatment was on October 3rd. It feels like a lifetime ago, and yesterday at the same time. I am well into the "normal" catching-up that needs to be done - had a major dental review (full mouth x-rays, which led the dentist and I to conclude that (1) 18 months is long enough for a cavity to form - but just one, (2) two composite fillings have ungainly shadows below them - meaning that I need to have them replaced, and (3) three of my crowns were not correctly seated when they were put in - and they need to be watched/fixed so that the little spurs do not trap food and become cavities or worse. I have two more appointments scheduled for teeth cleaning and dental work to be done on items (1) and (2).

We are also tracking down some of the other (seemingly random) small stuff that has been noticed over the past year. Back in January, one of the things that my oncologist noted - slightly elevated calcium levels - is being checked out by my new endocrinologist. To date, it appears that I may have a slightly hyperactive parathyroid, which may be causing calcium to leach out of my bones slowly. About two weeks ago I had 9 vials of blood drawn for a complete battery of tests and a bone densitometry scan, and I find out about what all that means on Monday. Should be interesting... And then there is the toenail fungus that is being treated by the daily application of anti-fungal toe polish. Turns out that it takes about 6 months for your toenails to completely grow out - and that is how long I have to polish (and un-polish) my toenails twice each day.

My hair has decided to start growing again, but have no fear - the male pattern baldness has been unaffected so far. No one need fear that I will turn into a 2011 version of Grizzly Adams! I am sleeping well enough (though I am told that I regularly snore).

Perhaps most importantly, my energy is back. I am working out twice a week with a trainer at the hospital - but figure that starting in January I will be ready to be on my own. I need to get onto my bike. We are planning a warm, relaxing trip in the near future - I wonder if they rent bikes in Hawaii?