Thursday, August 7, 2014
Day 27 of 100 Days of Good Karma.
I tried running today.
(Before I get a zillion comments about the foolhardiness of this: My doctors are all on board with me staying active throughout treatment. The surgeon who placed the port even gave me permission to run the day after surgery if I felt up to it.)
Since I started running five years ago, I’ve come to rely heavily on physical activity as a form of stress relief and relaxation. Since the last few weeks have been the most stressful of my life, I climbed on the treadmill with a certain amount of excitement.
Let’s just say it didn’t go as expected.
Before lacing up, I planned how I’d approach my workout.
I thought: I’ll do some short intervals. Go easy on myself.
I decided to give myself a long walking warm up. I usually walk two or three minutes before running anyway, but today I felt generous.
Feeling smug I told myself, you can have five minutes of warm up.
Five minutes passed, but that five minutes turned out to be harder than I thought.
Okay. Okay, I thought, negotiating with my body. An extra two minutes of walking.
After seven full minutes of walking I’d had enough and was ready to get down to business.
Again, I decided to go ‘easy’ on myself.
I bumped the speed up to four miles an hour. That’s way slower than I’m used to running. Barely more than what I was already walking, really.
I could do four miles an hour in my sleep. Right?
I took exactly three steps before I had to slow back down.
The jarring motion on the port was very uncomfortable. Also, I was surprised to find that running on the treadmill was extremely disorienting.
When I first started running after my son was born, I had to learn to orient myself on the treadmill so I didn’t get dizzy. It isn’t a motion sickness kind of dizzy, but it does take some getting used to. Eventually I was able to switch from the treadmill to road running back to the treadmill with very little effort.
So I’m used to the weirdness of running on a treadmill, but this was still more than I expected.
I experimented with the speeds a little and found that I couldn’t go faster than 3.7 mph before the port started bothering me and I got disoriented again.
I’ve never been a fast runner but less than a week ago 3.7 was my walking speed – not my top speed.
Completely furious now, I resigned myself to walking.
At the end of the workout I looked at the treadmill display. Disgusted, I saw that it had taken me 36 minutes to walk two miles.
Not a minute after I stepped off the treadmill my phone rang. It was a nurse at my doctor’s office calling to reschedule an appointment.
Since I had her on the phone, I asked if it was normal to feel so disoriented on the treadmill.
“Too much too soon?” I asked her. Of course, I already knew the answer.
She paused, then said, “Ye-es.”
“But don’t beat yourself up over it. You just had the port placed and your first treatment a few days ago,” she said. I could hear the smile in her voice. “I’m impressed you even want to run. A lot of our patients don’t.”
She cautioned me that the port would be sore for another couple of weeks, but she also said she’d heard of some women doing 5k’s while on chemo.
I felt some hope at that.
After hanging up the phone I concluded I have ridiculous expectations for myself.
Here I am, only a few days from the first surgery in my adult life and only a couple of days after my first chemotherapy treatment.
Yet I’m pissed off that I can’t run.
I have to remind myself that setting goals is a good thing, but setting unreasonable goals is detrimental to both my sanity and my physical well being.
Learning my physical limitations has been a hard lesson today. I can only imagine how hard it must be for people who face incurable diseases like Multiple Sclerosis or ALS.
Today’s silver lining: Today I am grateful that all I have to do is slow down.
Today I am grateful I can at least walk.
And most of all, today I am grateful that my doctors are supportive of my staying active throughout treatment.
I’d probably lose my shit if I had to sit still for six months.
What’s your silver lining today? I love comments!