January and February seem to be making up for the mild weather we had early in the winter season. We've had over a foot of snow here in the past day or two, which is far less than other areas of the US have gotten but is still no fun. And our snow blower is on the fritz, which doesn't help. Well actually, our snow blower decided to find a copy of Financial Times that the delivery person tossed haphazardly into our driveway, and got covered with snow before we picked it up. So now this stupid paper is jammed between one of the blower blades and the wall of the blower. Jim has been sawing at it with a micro blade and gotten some of the paper freed, but not enough... Stupid free subscription... On the other hand, while working in the garage on the blower, Jim organized a bunch of other stuff and really made a big difference. Our garage is jammed full of stuff, for lack of a better word, and so our cars reside outside. But maybe not forever; he has made some good progress. We were blessed with angels who started the good work for us while we were in Columbus in December for my treatment. One of the things blocking our path in the garage was a new set of attic stairs that had been purchased but not installed. Two of Jim's brothers and his nephew came over and installed the new stairs, without us knowing about it until we got home. So not only did a needed job get done, but we gained back some garage real estate which enabled Jim to work on some other stuff. In general I feel like our house is a big chinese puzzle - any time we want to work on getting rid of/organizing stuff in one place, we find that the space it should go to is also full. So this feels like quite the breakthrough.
I hope to keep the energy going inside, myself. My energy level seems to have finally increased to the point where I am feeling like myself again. Now to translate that energy into action at home...
One of my goals for this year has been to get back to walking regularly. On Thursday of this week I did my first full 30 minute walk since coming back to work from my medical leave.
I had been walking with coworkers fairly regularly during the week , but then spending the autumn having to be out of work and have lots of yucky chemicals poured into my body messed all of that up. I have been wanting to get back into walking; I want to do regular exercise. Plus, as part of a rebate program at my employer, I signed up for a 'coordinated care' program for hypertension. I talk to a nurse monthly; I am supposed to take my blood pressure daily, eat a low-salt diet, and get 30 min of exercise 3-5x a week. If I stay compliant with the program they will reimburse me for my blood pressure medication copays later on. I really signed up though to push myself to exercise, and because if I stay compliant with my care program and I go have an annual physical this year, at the end of the year they will refund the difference in our health plan premium between the 2009 and 2010 rate. That is about $200; would be nice to have, though frankly, our health plan has spent so much on me in the past few years that I think they are entitled to keep that money.
Anyhow, I've been back to work for 6 weeks now. I've walked a few times during my lunch time, but didn't have the stamina to do more than 20 min or so. But in the past week or so I have felt my energy level increase quite a bit. Every day this week I planned walking time in my schedule and every day either something got added to my schedule or I blew it off because I was "too busy". On Thursday, I told myself I had to do it! As I was lacing my walking shoes, one of my officemates popped her head into my cube to ask a question, and offered to walk with me. That turned out great - with the distraction of company and good conversation, I was able to last a full half hour. Sadly, I walked exactly 1 mile in that half hour... so not too swift, but that is okay... I did it. I just need to keep doing it. It remains my goal to walk the 5K when Race for the Cure comes to Cleveland this fall; I still have plenty of time to build up to walking 3 miles comfortably. Rebecca wants to walk it with me, so once the weather is better we will start to train at home. I know Carly will want to do it too, but I don't think she can make it that far and there is no way I am either pushing a stroller or pulling a wagon containing a then almost 5-year-old for 3 miles! So she will just have to hang with Grandma or whoever we know down there - I'm sure we will have company among our family and friends for the event.
I have recommitted to using the stairs in my building at work more, too. I park in the basement garage which is four floors below my office. Last summer I worked up to climbing all four flights each morning...
it sucked, but was a good workout. (As long as nobody in my office needed to converse with me for the first several minutes after I got to the top of the stairs!) When I learned last July that I had multiple metastases, I gave up and quit doing the stairs in despair. The IL-2 really zapped my stamina; throughout the time of my treatment I gauged my energy level by how difficult it felt to go up the flight of stairs in my house. Since I feel more energetic lately, last week I started getting off the elevator a floor early and taking the last flight of stairs to my floor. This next week I will do two flights... once that feels a bit easier I'll have to start climbing all four flights - it would look pretty stupid to take the elevator up one floor! Our wellness folks at work have a little spreadsheet program on our intranet where we can log our stairs taken each day. The program keeps track of my total stairs (up only) and as I get to certain totals, I get a little notice that I have reached the equivalent of the top of some landmark. I have reached the top of the Empire State Building as of this week... next up is the CN tower. Last year I wanted to make it all the way to the summit of Mt Everest so that is my goal again this year.
I have to try to get these bits of exercise in where I can; it's so hard to have time to work out these days. Most week days, I am gone from the house for 11 hours. In my waking time at home, there are so many things that need to be done that I find it hard to even imagine fitting in exercise time. Through my employer I could join Curves for free, and there is a Curves around the corner from my house, but they aren't open either early enough or late enough for me to fit in a workout before or after work. Oh dear Clinic, please move forward with a formal work from home policy! If I didn't have to go into the office 5 days a week, some of the time I would save could be used for working out - wouldn't that be nice? (Not to mention the money I would save on gas; it would be a pay raise of sorts) I have been lucky to have worked for supervisors who have allowed informal work-from-home days but something more official would be really nice. Moving closer to my workplace is not a consideration; we really like where we live and we like being near most of our family, both for general visiting and for childcare coverage. Jim got a tip on a possible job, which unfortunately is even farther from our house than where I work. A job is a job, sure, but being on the road for so long each day is really not conducive to a good quality of life. Of course right now having a job at all would be a good thing... he keeps sending in resumes and completing applications, and has gotten a few interviews, but not been successful. He is officially unemployed now, waiting for unemployment compensation to kick in, and still looking. Bleah.
Fortunately the girls have been dealing with all of our changes pretty well. Both are enjoying school; thanks to the generosity of the owner of Carly's preschool/day care, we are able to continue to send her there as they are waiving her tuition while Jim is looking for work. Thank goodness for that, not just because being home with Daddy all day would drive both Daddy and daughter insane. Carly is getting closer to being a reader; suddenly letters make more sense to her and she loves to fill pages with words that we spell for her and she transcribes. Rebecca is really enjoying first grade; doing really well and trying hard. One of her friends recently called here to talk to her and left the cutest message on the answering machine. They have had a few conversations on the phone, which cracks me up since they are in the same class at school and both go to after-school together, so it's not like they don't see much of each other.When her friend (E) calls, Rebecca carries the phone around with her as she talks, and Carly trails behind. E has a sister in Carly's preschool class, so Carly wants to talk to her as well. Unfortunately Carly hasn't mastered the art of phone conversation yet; as her grandma well knows... whenever C gets on the phone with Grandma she talks about things she is looking at, which of course Grandma can't see through the phone. It makes for a confusing conversation!