Saturday, December 24, 2011

Seasons of Love

Leaving Providence St. Joseph,
December 23, 2010

As I sit here on this December 23, I reflect on the past year. These last few weeks have been filled with touchstones at the very least— The MRI showing the sudden collapse and near disappearance of the residual brain tumor came nearly a year to the day from when I was diagnosed with a two-inch brain tumor.  I let December 15 slip away like a bad dream and aside from wishing a co-worker a happy birthday, the day passed without incident.  The first days I was in the ICU, despite my doped-up state, I knew it was important to stay calm and not move much so I would affect my ventriculostomy, causing my CSF to drain too much. And while I was there, in the early days, I kept singing to myself lines from a DC Talk song, “I want to be in the light as you are in the light.  I want to shine like the stars in the Heavens… all I want is to be in the light.” And, staying in the light is something I crave and helps me get through some of the more difficult times. The days from December 15, 2011 quickly passed by me as I was spending time with family, skipping from holiday party to holiday party and traveling home to see the rest of my family and meet my adorable niece.

No snow this Christmas,  nonetheless
I get to run by this converted
milking  barn on training runs.
Today felt like it called for a little more reflection. I woke up in the room I grew up in, rolled over and turned off my alarm. I looked at the calendar and mused, “hey, one year ago today, I woke up in a hospital and was discharged in the afternoon.” Other than having passing thoughts about where I was last year, the day was pretty much like any other day before Christmas. Then, the family piled into the cars to go on our training runs.  I had intended to do somewhere between 2 and 3. When I got a four-corner intersection, I chose the road with the least amount of hills and started down it. I just figured I’d keep going ‘till I hit about 1.5 miles. I then figured I’d run to the next road. It wasn’t fast, and ultimately, I only logged 3.6 miles when I got back to the cars, but it was a very exhilarating 3.6 miles. Between getting a cold just after Thanksgiving and then these holidays, getting any mileage in always feels like a miracle. As much as it pains me, I’ve re-jiggered my schedule again and I am settling into Hal Higdon’s NOVICE program. I’ve run one half-marathon doing something like this, and I know I can do another one. It feels like I took a giant slide backwards after Thanksgiving, I’m giving myself the grace that I would urge my friends to give themselves.  

So, it’s been a year since I was discharged.  I am still not used to people calling me a miracle or learning about strangers praying for me or meeting someone new and having my story touch them, causing tears to well up in their eyes. It has been quite the year. Reflecting on what the year has meant and everything that has unfolded.  I couldn’t put it better than Jonathan Larson who wrote the Broadway musical, RENT and composed “Seasons of Love.” 

Thank you all for being part of my seasons of love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Letter for You

In honor of the time-honored obnoxious Christmas bragging letter, please enjoy the next post.

December 15, 2011

Regretfully, Dear Friends I was unable to get out a 2010 Christmas letter as I was hospitalized at the peak of letter writing season. Not to shortchange you, I’ve included some highlights from last year.

Let’s face it, I am awesome. After working for the Senior Vice President of my old company & stretching the position & salary, I left to assist the Executive Producer of two local court shows.

On December 10, I found a new way to get across town. Hot damn. What good looking chauffeurs! There is no better way to travel at excessive speed & not get a ticket than in an ambulance. In short order, I arrived at my holiday vacation spot (aka Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center).

I figured I’d keep my research for the Grey’s Anatomy spec script going & have some surgery on December 15.  Odds are if you are born on this day, I will remember your birthday, if not, too bad for you. PS for the record- the OR DOES NOT LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THE OR IN GREY’S ANATOMY.

In June, I traveled to La Jolla to visit my brain-tumor specialist & figured while I was down there, I might as well do my 6th half marathon.

In August, I was going to have the opportunity to get drilled again, & as much as some girls are eager to get drilled, I passed.

Christmas came early, & in the fall, I was promoted to Associate Producer. Fall was also filled with imbibing & not enough running. Coupled with good eating, I added another 7 pounds… This was all a subconscious need to put on extra weight in case I had to get on chemo. Well, that’s the lie I’m telling myself.

I started dating! I’m really dating to lose weight. My December 9, 2011 MRI shows the tumor is shrinking. I’ve got the tumor on the run! I better start really getting some running mileage so I can keep this tumor & my waistline shrinking.

I do not want my new route to Burbank to overshadow darling rescue cat Robert, who has been busy growing 6 inch whiskers when he’s not busy taking gargantuan naps. He & I are both busy getting advanced degrees in how to speak the ancient language of Podling & often spend many a quiet evening doing so.  We are looking to travel in 2012 & use this in our encounters with other felines.

Robert says “hello.” We both hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Love & kisses forever.
Sarah and Robert

Monday, December 5, 2011

Half Marathon Minus 11 Weeks

Gosh. When you talk about having a half marathon on February 19, it seems so far away. There are so many things to get through, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day.  There are friends, work, and countless pet projects. THERE ARE ALSO 11 WEEKS UNTIL I LINE MY TOES UP TO THE START LINE of the Rock n Roll Pasadena Half Marathon.

I cannot find the name of the project and/or artist, but this
was on the website Close
I got a cold that put me on the sidelines last week (also known as Week One of my training). Now, I am a week behind. I don’t even have a cool story of why I stopped or why I got sick. I simply got sick. While frustrating, it’s easier and almost a badge of honor to say, “well, I was training so hard, my immune system became depleted” or “I was training so hard, I needed some rest” Anything is better than saying, “I got one of those holiday bugs because my body recognized it was okay to relax.” NO. It’s not time to relax IT’S TIME TO GET BUSY WITH TRAINING.

Now, there are other obligations that interfere with being a diligent runner like holiday parties and like travel to San Diego for my next MRI. Sure, one can do a half marathon with minimal training, but I need to finish and I need to finish strong for my own ego.  I cannot have a repeat of October.  I have been advised not to chase a PR and just have fun with the journey. As I’ve seen with friends and one running buddy in particular, he did not chase a PR, he simply had fun with training, got bad sleep the week before the race and still managed to knock 10 minutes off of his half marathon! Pretty impressive. While I likely won’t use his training paradigm, it is a good reminder to just get out there and run. I’m a little competitive and am secretly (or not so secretly) chasing that PR.

This week marks 11 weeks until race day. I’m going to pretend like I ran last week and do what I can with the schedule considered that I have the holidays pulling me in a million directions. Despite the frustration of being waylaid by all this, I am eternally grateful that I am here to be enjoying the festivities and that I can enjoy them as much as possible.  Until Friday, I am resting in the confidence that as my neuro-specialist says, “there’s a lot of room for (residual tumor) growth.”