Back in the saddle

Ladies & Gentlemen, I’ve just returned from the gym.

Oh, happy day.

I’m back in the saddle. Hooray.

Really and truly happy is what I am right now. No, it’s not tennis, and when the day comes that I step back on that court, I will be really and truly ecstatically happy, but this is a good start.

I saw my Greek friend Spyros, who said “Christos anesti,” to which I replied in kind. He’s always suspicious of my Greek-ness because I married a white guy and my kids don’t attend Greek school, so it was a smallish victory for me to be able to reply to him in the mother tongue. If I’d thought about it, I would have expected him to be there, because he’s always there and may well be the fittest Greek person on the planet, and I would have brought him a red hardboiled egg. See, Greeks dye all their Easter eggs red, to be symbolic of the blood of Christ. We nestle the red boiled eggs into the braided Greek Easter bread, then pass them around to everyone at the table and exclaim, “Christos anesti!” Then we play a little game: two people knock their eggs against each other, and who ever comes away from it with an unbroken egg is the winner. On Sunday at my cousin’s house, Thea Sophia was the undefeated egg holder until my other cousin Kim unseated her. Kinda mean to do to an 83-year-old, but that’s how we Greeks roll.

After greeting Spyros and once again wondering how the hell he stays so fit while loving Greek food, I found my good buddy and trainer LeRoy. Like Peaches & Herb,  LeRoy and I were reunited, and it was pretty good. He usually pushes me to the point in which I think I will barf, and he always knows best. Some people in my household think he pushes me too hard and I’m all worn out & cranky from a LeRoy workout. Those people will be happy to know that today LeRoy was very cautious and treated me quite kindly. He also reminded me often to be patient (blech!) and that getting back to my previous level of fitness is do-able. I’m gonna hold him to that.

Walking on the treadmill is not my thing, ok? I’m looking for something a little more heart-pumping and sweat-inducing than that. Not saying you can’t get a nice workout from a brisk walk, but that I’m too impatient for that. But I walked 20 minutes at a nice clip with a bit of an incline (a bit more than LeRoy recommended, but don’t tell him), lunged down the gym and back, did some light–very light–arm weights (lateral, front, and full raises; hammer curls, tricep extension and high-pulls), step-ups on the tall step not the baby step, and walked another half mile on the treadmill.

Not a workout from days gone by, but a good start. I’m back in the saddle, and learning to be content with that. Yes, the learning curve is steep, but I’m getting there.

A weighty issue

I received a serious assignment from my doc. Now don’t laugh when I tell you this, because it’s not funny, and don’t say “lucky you” because I’m not so lucky. It’s serious.

He wants me to gain weight. A lot of it. So he can build my new boobs. 

We’ve had this conversation a couple of times and I’ve stuck my fingers in my ears and said “la la la, I can’t hear you” because I didn’t want to do this. I’ve spent most of my life beyond the age of about 15 trying not to gain weight. When you’re five-foot-nothing, there aren’t a lot of places to hide the extra pounds, and I personally don’t like the way my body feels with a lot of extra weight on my frame. I’ve never been a skinny chick and don’t aspire to be, but don’t want to be mistaken for a contestant on The Biggest Loser, either.

I worked hard to prep my body before and after my mastectomy, to gain as much muscle strength and cardio conditioning while fueling myself with a good diet. I also played as much tennis as humanly possible in the weeks leading up to surgery. It all paid off, too, with a shorter surgery, no need for Alloderm (cadaver tissue used to connect and close mastectomied chests), and a pretty easy recovery. Because I was in good shape, I was up and out of the hospital bed the day after surgery, trolling the halls. When I got home, I had a decent amount of independence because I didn’t need much physical assistance. That was, and is, important to me. So the idea of turning into a big blobby girl, even temporarily, scares me.

The first few times Dr S brought it up, he warned me that I didn’t have enough belly fat to build the new girls. At that point, reconstruction seemed so far away that I didn’t pay much attention. But the last 2 times I’ve seen him, he’s been more stern about it. I hate it when he gets stern with me.

When I saw him a couple of weeks before Christmas, I told him I’d been drinking a few beers for the first time in 15 years, and I wasn’t playing much tennis because of a recurring foot injury. That was about as much as I was willing to commit to his “living large” plan. I did the usual indulging over the holidays, but I also went to the gym.

So when I saw him the other day, instead of shrinking from his “examine the fat” game as I have in the past, I told him I’d been working on a big project — a BIG project — and showed him my newly rounded belly. I was sitting on the exam table so my belly even hung over a little bit. I thought it was quite impressive, as it’s the biggest it’s ever been without a fetus inside of it.

He was not impressed. Not even a little bit.

He told me to pull my jeans down a little and gave me the pinch test, then had me bend over to see how far it hangs. So much fun. I live for that game.

Then he made a very stern face and said it’s not enough. It’s still not enough. It’s enough for one side, but not both. And maybe not even enough for one. Since I have impossibly high standards and insist on a matched set, that’s a problem.

Dr Sternface says I’m not really even a candidate for the DIEP flap procedure, but since I have no other options, we have to try and make it work. I was thinking about this later and wondered, if I’m not a candidate but don’t have any other choices (i.e., tissue expanders to implants), what’s a girl to do?

Eat, girl, eat. And then eat some more. Then have a beer. Followed by a milkshake.

People make fun of me for being a healthy eater. I genuinely like oatmeal with blueberries. I love salad. Not being a carnivore eliminates a lot of the unhealthier options for me, and I like it that way. I’m not super picky but I don’t like drive-through food in general, and I don’t get the “all you can eat” places at all. I’m not a big junk-food junkie, and usually whatever I cook is way better than that stuff anyway. Not being conceited, just stating a fact.

I’m not doing a very good job with my assignment. Yesterday I had half a bagel with a piece of melted provolone and a handful of blueberries. It felt pretty indulgent to me. Lunch was two pieces of leftover pizza, with an orange. Cheese & crackers for a snack before we played tennis, then dinner after with the tennis gang at a BBQ place. I had pinto beans with pickles, coleslaw, green beans, some mac & cheese and a few fries. Oh, and a roll. Wish I’d thought to put butter on it. Melanie told me that I wasn’t going to get the job done eating all those vegetables and suggested I get a milkshake. Every day.

Today we played 3 sets of tennis and I was hungry. We splurged on brunch at the club, which for me meant mixed fruit, cheese & crackers, salad with lots of blue cheese dressing, and some tuna. Mimosas, of course. Then some pasta with artichoke hearts, mushrooms & sundried tomatoes. Then a few bites of seafood ettouffee. And a sliver of key lime pie and a chocolate-dipped strawberry.

I feel kinda sick.

My doc keeps saying he just hates the idea of me going through this giant surgery and hard recovery and not being satisfied with the results. I keep telling him that any change over the status quo will be an improvement, and I’m ok being average. At least in this one category. He doesn’t seem to believe me, even though we’ve had the same conversation repeatedly.

He wants me to go see the other surgeon who will help him with my case. I’ll have to see what she thinks about the bulk-up plan. Meanwhile, I need to think of a new t-shirt slogan. Something like the “baby” with an arrow pointing at the pregnant belly t-shirt, only a different kind of “under construction.” Any ideas?