Monday, February 15, 2010

Long Time, No Blog or "Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

Hello. You might remember me. 5' 7", brown hair, brown eyes, rather bookish? I am still alive and mostly well, despite a nearly four month absence from blogging. A lot has happened in the past few months, but here's a quick overview:

I ended 2009 with a total of 85 books read, which was short of my goal of 100 for the year, and also short of my 2009 New Year's resolution to surpass my 2008 total of 125. I think I probably could have managed to achieve both of those goals if not for moving in August. Still, given all the changes in my life last year, I'm happy that I was able to read as much as I did. I would like to hit 75 this year, and I'll be thrilled if I can surpass that. At the moment I have 71 to go. Not the best start to the year reading-wise, certainly, but give me a few lazy weekends and I'll make up a lot of ground.

Walking on Sunshine
As 2009 drew to a close, I decided that I wanted 2010 to be an epic year. It's now been three years since my entire life got turned upside-down by chronic fatigue syndrome. In 2009, I saw a significant improvement in my energy level. After three years of watching life pass me by, I want this to be the year that I grab the brass ring. I want to achieve something. When I mentioned this desire to my cousin's wife Rebecca in late December, she suggested training for a 5K walk. Rebecca and my cousin Scott are both triathletes -- I'm constantly in awe of what they can do. They're both absolutely amazing and inspiring athletes.

I have to admit that I initially thought that my doing a 5K was a pretty crazy idea -- two years ago I couldn't get the laundry from the basement to the second floor without a 15 minute break in between, how could I possibly walk a 5K? But Becca believed I could do it, and offered to be my coach. So, four days before Christmas I went for my first walk to prepare for the Valley Forge Revolutionary Run/Walk in April. I had no idea what to expect from my body. I wasn't terribly athletic before I developed chronic fatigue syndrome, so I was very pleasantly surprised when I wasn't half-dead by the second week of my training. There have been some setbacks along the way, most notably a hip injury that has finally healed and a breast cancer scare that seriously messed with my head (more about that later), but I'm absolutely astounded at how much I've accomplished in just a few short weeks. Walking has quickly become the highlight of my day, and something that I can't imagine my life without.

(I don't usually talk about overly personal things here, as that isn't the intended function of this blog, but I know that I have a lot of female readers around my age and if sharing my experience helps someone or prompts somebody to do regular breast self-exams, then this is worth it.)
In early January I discovered a lump in my right breast during a self-exam. I had already scheduled a routine appointment with my family doctor, and that appointment was only a few days away, so I decided I would ask her to take a look at it. I was remarkably calm during this time. There is no history of breast cancer in my family as far as I know, but there is a history of fibrocystic breast disease -- small, benign tumors -- and I figured that was all the lump was. It wasn't until my doctor started ordering ultrasounds and mammograms and talking about biopsies that I started to worry. Then I got conflicting stories from the radiologist, my doctor, and the radiologist's written report to my doctor about my test results. For about 36 hours I had absolutely no clue what was going on, which was incredibly stressful.

Finally I was able to see a breast specialist who had previously treated my mother. She had liked this doctor a lot and I hoped that he'd be able to clear up some of the confusion surrounding my test results. Within ten minutes he told me that he was 99.8% certain that the lump is an adenofibroma -- a benign tumor and not cancer -- and that I can have it removed in a simple outpatient surgery. This was originally scheduled for this past Friday, but due to the record snow, it was postponed until February 26th. I'll have a small scar as a result of the surgery, but I think that's a small price to pay for peace of mind. This scare has been an interesting and trying experience -- one I'd prefer never to repeat -- but I believe I'm stronger for it.

So, this evening I'm enjoying watching more snow fall (We have about 40" of snow on the ground already and are expecting another six inches) as I flip back and forth from re-runs of Bones and coverage of the Winter Olympics. I'm looking forward to getting caught up with reading and blogging over the next few weeks. I've missed this!