Kinesthetic Learning

There are several different types of learners in the world.

Some people learn best from watching, some from listening, and others, like me learn by feeling.

Knowing what type of learner you are and accepting that can go a long way in developing new skills.  It allows you to work more efficiently and can help you to understand your individual needs.

I bring this up today because I was having one of those days were nothing ‘felt’ right. Because I am a kinesthetic learner, I really rely a lot on tactile sensations.  When I am learning something new, I try to replicate what I see and translate that into what I feel when I am doing the movement–whether it’s a stretch, specific muscles being used, pressure–any physical sensation generated by the movement.  Once I know that something looks right (meaning I have Boss’s approval), I work to try and recreate those sensations as closely as possible as I work through it to try and develop some muscle memory.

Because the physical sensations are so important to my learning and development, I think that is why I find practice and repetitive training so meditative.  When I have my ipod on and I am off by myself in my corner I effectively close off my auditory and visual senses so that I can focus completely on what my body is doing.

Most days, this is extremely stress relieving, calming, productive and mind clearing.  But every now and then I have a day like today when I just can’t seem to focus down and everything is just ‘off’.  It’s like my body won’t cooperate with my mind.

The key to days like today is to not let myself get frustrated and just keep moving through my exercises.  Find small positives and write them down in my ‘Book of Positives’.  Be proud that I didn’t give up and plowed through.  Know that the next day will be better–it almost always is.

One of the other things I wanted to point out with this is a realization of really how much my relationship with Boss as my coach, instructor and partner has developed.  I have been training with him almost 3 and a half years, and for some reason the frustrations I experienced today reminded me of a difficult period Boss and I encountered about two years ago–but ultimately led to a positive change on how he taught me.

As far as I can tell, Boss is not a kinesthetic learner.  I think he is more visual and certainly auditory.  I am almost useless when it comes to learning from what I hear and translating that into what I do.  I have to try something and figure out what it feels like before I know if I understand it.  For Boss, the idea that I rely so much on my ‘feelings’ was almost an alien concept for him and anytime I told him that something didn’t ‘feel’ right, we would usually end up having an argument where he would tell me I can’t rely on my feelings and I should focus on what things look like.  In addition to the learning gap, there was also a bit of a language gap where ‘feelings’ to a Russian is more about ’emotions’ and doesn’t quite translate into the ‘physical sensations’.  So initially Boss thought I was talking about my emotions.

It took a lot of conversations and explanations but eventually we reached a compromise.  I finally found the word ‘sensation’ to describe my ‘feelings’ and that went a long way.  In the end, I started to work on equating what I feel with what I see, and Boss began to understand my need to try things before they ‘clicked’ and I understood them.

One of the biggest positive things to come out of that whole period was that when I was having difficulties with some things and seemed to be doing the same thing wrong over and over, he would ask me if I could feel that I was doing something (for example that I was twisted). More often that not, I would have no idea. This led him to realize why I struggled so much in standard before my surgery.  I am hyper-flexible through my back, so movements that feel ‘stretched’ to other people felt the same an any other movement to me because I never felt a stretch as I twisted. It made him realize he had to try a different approach in working with me on standard to try and help me to develop an awareness of what my body was doing.

It’s been frustrating work for both of us, and it got much better after my surgery because of the way everything got pulled, but understanding the differences in each other’s approach, and style of learning has helped us to work better together.

I am not sure why today reminded me of those conversations, but maybe it is because I am working on developing some new skills and muscle memory right now and today felt like muscle amnesia.  It just reminded me of how lost I can feel when I can’t get things to feel ‘right’.

But I am sure that tomorrow things will start to ‘click’ again. Sometimes having an ‘off’ day helps you to appreciate those days you are truly ‘on’.

Weight Training

I wanted to talk about something different today.

I did have a lesson that went really well, reviewing rumba walks, cruzado walks and of course working on the rumba routine.  Some interesting stuff there, but I will get into it in my next post 🙂

In addition to dance, I also do strength training 3 times a week, and I thought it might be interesting to talk a little about what I do in addition to dance and practice to help support the work I do in the studio.

I really enjoy strength training a lot.  It is something I have done regularly for years–especially as my job requires a minimal amount of strength and mandatory fitness tests every year.  Before I got sick, I was following a program provided to me for a rehabilitative specialist through my work that helped to support a permanent back injury I have from an accident during training several years ago.  The specialist was aware of how much I danced and even met with Boss and I together once to discuss the work I do for dance and what type of cross training I needed which allowed her to adjust my program.

Unfortunately, after my second chemo treatment a year ago, I was faced with a decision of either continuing strength training or dance because I didn’t have the energy for both.  That began a 1 year break from regular weight training workouts.

After my surgery, and once I got clearance, I was able to start back to a regular program working on my own at home, based on exercises and the programs I have done before which I put together myself.  I can’t go back to working with the specialist until I come off of sick leave, which probably won’t be until after my next surgery.

Returning to weight training took some adjustment, and it is a little disheartening to see how much weaker I am compared with what I was doing before chemo.  For example, I used to regularly do squats with a 50 lb kettle bell, and 3 planks for 1 minute each time.  Now I can barely hold a plank for 35 seconds and I am doing squats with 5 lbs.

But, one of the things I enjoy about weight training is that if you always push to your max every workout, the next workout you are able to do just a little bit more.

I do work with free weights, a swiss ball and a balance board, and I try to do exercises that work multiple groups of muscles instead of just one.  I also ‘super set’ meaning I combine two exercises working opposing muscles together before I take a break.  Like all my work, my weight training program is very structured.  I rest 1 minute between sets and 2 mins between exercises and set the timer on my phone to keep me on track.

My current program takes me about 1 hour to complete, and I do 3 sets of 12, or the max I can for each exercise.  Currently, I am doing:

Goblet Squats followed by Plie Squats

Regular planks followed by side planks

Chest press/Chest Flies on a swiss ball followed by Arm Raises front and side

Swiss ball crunches followed by balance board stands (on toes like in waltz right now)

Modified Tricep Dips (with bent legs) followed by bicep curls on the balance board

I was just able to increase all my weights today for the first time, and definitely I am feeling it!  I like how the strength training always gives me a goal to work towards–for example if I did 12, 12 and 10 of one exercise one day, then the next I aim for 12, 12, and 11.

The work on the balance board of course supports dance.  I try to balance on the board with my standard frame up on my toes with my knees bent and my upper body counter balancing my knees.  Boy does this show how many muscles in the body work to keep us in balance when we dance!  I would recommend trying that to anyone–it’s much harder than it sounds.

I am hoping that with the regular strength training some of the parts of me that got a little ‘soft’ while I was sick will tone back up again, and those parts of me that toned up some while I was sick (my upper back has really changed thanks to standard!), will continue to get stronger.  All of this supports my weight loss too, as more muscles means more calories burning.

Something interesting I noticed the other day from my fitbit–since I started back to dance and weight training after my surgery (about 2 months), my resting heart rate has dropped almost 10 beats per minute to below 60.  I am really glad to see that as it indicates my cardio is improving and my metabolism is getting better.  It also says that my body isn’t working as hard on healing as it was–so I see that as positive too! My resting heart rate was 52-55 BPM before I got sick, so it’s great to get back there.

There is a poster on my wall across from my chair in my living room with a quote I want to share.  I have a small collage of some dance photos surrounding this poster with some ‘post its’ with small sayings to remind myself everything is worth working for.  The quote is:

“It takes 4 weeks for you to notice your body changing.

It takes 8 weeks for your friends and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.

Give it 12 weeks.  Don’t quit.”

It’s been 8 weeks since I started back to dance and 4 since I started weight training.  After my next surgery I will start again.  It’s amazing what you can do in 12 weeks.

Blast from the past

This has been a busy week and things are now going in a different direction than they were at my last post.

We aren’t going to do a mambo at the competition in a few weeks, we are going to do the ‘fight song’ rumba now.

It was unexpected, but circumstances beyond mine or Boss’s control meant that he wouldn’t have the time to put into doing the choreography for the mambo to the level he would want to do with me.  He had a plan on Monday for when he would sit down and work out the routine and all he wanted to do, but as I said, things went sideways and he didn’t get the chance.  He even had to move one of my lessons.

The mambo is not dead, it is just being shelved for a while and both Boss and I agree on that.  It will probably be the performance piece for my next showcase opportunity, whenever that might be.  It is still something to look forward to, and I am sure the ‘mambo monster’ will come out again.

Doing the rumba turns out to be a good compromise.  At my lesson yesterday, we tried to run through it a few times to see much work it needs to bring it back to performance level, and it turned out to be not as bad as we both thought.  There are some parts we both had forgotten, but reviewing the video helped bring them back.

In fact, it is in a good enough place that Boss doesn’t feel it is necessary to devote all my lesson time to it right now, and when we do work on it, we are able to ‘play’ around with it some and add in the progress I have made in latin since the fall.  One area in particular that I can tell is quite different from before is I am able to do things faster now, there are more hips and my spins are more confident.

During my lesson today, we spent the first half reviewing the rumba walks, which seem to be coming along really good according to Boss, and then he surprised me by deciding teach me cruzado walks in samba.  I think he even surprised himself as his first plan was to work on bota fogos and voltas.  Cruzado walks are a gold step in samba and similar to rumba walks, but yet different enough that I have to make sure I am not doing one for the other.  The big difference I noticed is using the samba ‘bounce’ through the pelvis and knees to generate and move through the steps instead of the settling of the hip.

We didn’t spend too much time on it, but we did enough I can tell my mind is working on processing it, so I am eager to see how it goes next time.

In the solo, we focused on sorting out some of the parts that we didn’t remember as well and working on adding sharpness to the movements, speed to the spins, and incorporating the additional body movement I have learned since after my surgery.  It was fun to be able to dig into some details we weren’t able to get to before, and we were able to go from start to finish with only one major gap.

I didn’t practice in today because I am having some trouble with my right glute and want to give is a good rest before putting it back to work.  I over-stretched it doing the splits on Monday, but it felt fine Tuesday.  I did strength training Tuesday and when I work up on Wednesday it was clearly pissed off again.  It feels like it has tied itself up in a giant knot.  It hasn’t worked itself out since and was quite uncomfortable last night so I have been trying to work it out with a foam roller and heat and anti-inflammatories.  It is doing better today, but still quite tight, so I am giving it a rest as I hope to be able to get back to strength training tomorrow.

I will say that having a sore glute is one of the most annoying things I have encountered–it is literally a ‘pain in the ass’.

I’ve unleashed a monster…

A mambo monster apparently….

I should have known things were going to get interesting when I saw Boss yesterday and he made an quick remark about our mambo that ‘we are going to have fun with that’.

Oh yes, he is definitely having fun.

It’s good to see, actually.  It’s been a while since I have seen him so excited about something.  Today was more or less about trying some different ideas he had to see if I could do them and how they looked.

It seems this is going to be a bit of a samba inspired mambo.  Boss has taken some of my trickiest moves in samba, dressed them up, and adapted them to mambo speed and timing.  The result is a little insane–but I am thrilled I can keep up!

We even tried some natural rolls today, although I cannot imagine what they will be like at mambo speed.  I have discovered why rolls are considered so tricky–you basically lean as far forward as your core will support, then as far over backward–but you are doing this while in closed position with your partner, moving and turning all at the same time.  And now we are going to do them at mambo speed with mambo timing!

I spent a lot of time today spinning and twisting to say the least.  Boss has us doing some side-by-side stuff, including a triple spin (at least I hope it will be!).  We were working through one part where I am basically doing a grapevine–except that I am doing it with hip twists into a lunge.  I had no idea I could twist my hips that fast.

Boss is definitely capitalizing on my speed and strength in this routine.  At one point today he told me he plans to even speed up the music a little because ‘the speed it is now is for people in their 60s…but we are not in our 60s, we are in our 30s, so we have to do faster’.

He is certainly being more ambitious with this routine than any other–and we only have 3 weeks to put it all together!  Needless to say, I am going to be doing 3 lessons/week until the competition.

Boss has also given me a challenge (as though the spinning and twisting is not enough!).  At the beginning of the solo, it seems that each of us will be on our own.  Boss has asked me to do some googling of some latin solos of pro couples to get an idea of some moves that I like and can do at the beginning of the routine.  I am not even really sure where to start!

I think the trickiest part of that challenge is actually that more pro ladies are very tiny, so it is hard to imagine what something that looks good when they do it will look like on my more curvy body.  I will see what I find though–it’s very rare for Boss to give me basically carte blanche to suggest what I want to do.

We also decided today that I am going to wear a fringe dress for this solo–so my other challenge is to find a basic black dress that we can add coloured fringe to.  I am thinking a black bodysuit with a latin skirt might be the way to do for that.  I can already see the fringe moving as I twist and spin in my mind though!

So I guess I have lots to do before Wednesday–practicing my rolls, finding some choreography and a base for my dress.  If you need me, I will be googling and hoping the mambo monster doesn’t speed things up too much 🙂

Ready or not…

Boss has decided I am ready to start some concentrated work on lead/follow in latin.

My lesson yesterday was really interesting as it went in a direction I certainly didn’t expect.  First, we did only latin and focused on rumba with a little bit of samba thrown in.  Even on Wednesday, we were still doing mainly standard and actually moved from breaking down the waltz to breaking down quickstep.

We worked on breaking down the rumba routine and making small stylistic changes while also looking some at my body movements.

That was finished with some work in samba which led to Boss declaring me ‘ready’ to focus on lead/follow in Latin.

I should clarify, this is not lead/following the steps in latin, but working on leading/following the body movement in latin.  I am finding it pretty intense to work on and all we are doing right now is some work on maintaining the proper tone and pressure as we move and responding with the correct hip movements.  The basic exercise involves leaning towards Boss as he increases pressure and moving away and leaning back as he exerts pressure in the opposite direction.  At the full range, I am leaning back enough (and so is he) that we are supporting each other, and at the other end we are very close together.  It takes a lot of trust at both ends of the spectrum and I think that is where I am struggling some.

I am interested to see how this goes from here though.  We have done a little bit of work previously on it, but we have never really focused on this aspect of lead/follow.  I keep trying to lock out my elbows as we do it and one of the first things I have to learn is to relax them and allow the resistance to move from hand to hand through my body like it does in standard.

It’s not often Boss surprises me, but this sudden declaration of it ‘being time’ and that I am ‘ready’ to work on this did surprise me.  It’s going to be an interesting challenge, I think.

On a slightly different note, there was a change in format for the pro/am for the local competition here in town and now the pro/am is non-competitive solos only.  With that in mind, I agreed to do a solo and Boss and I have decided to revive an older mambo routine and revamp it.  I haven’t done mambo in more than a year, so this is going to be fun to work on for the next couple weeks.


I hit two today.  One I have been waiting for and one by accident.

The one I had been waiting for was the last wound from my surgery to finally close–and success!! When I woke up this morning, it was finally closed up.  No more non-stick pads and gauze, no more risk of it getting infected.  It took almost 5 months, but milestone achieved!

The second milestone was a complete accident.  I ended up doing my entire practice today in my 2 1/2″ heel practice shoes.  First time I have worn shoes that high since before my surgery!  I was just going to do it for today, but it felt really good to do and I could tell the higher heels were making me work harder, so unless Boss has any huge objections (I don’t think he will), I am going to keep wearing them for practice.

It was an accident because on Friday during practice the suede on the bottom of my heel protectors on one of my shoes came off and I had lent my glue to a friend who had just gotten her first pair of ‘real’ dance shoes so she could glue suede to the bottom of her heels.  We were supposed to meet up on Saturday, but plans had to change and I didn’t get my glue back until I was at the studio today.  Not wanting to wearing my cuban heel shoes for practice, I just figured I would try my higher shoes and see how it went.

For those wondering about the suede–I will explain at the end of the post what I do to help increase the life of my heel protectors and cut costs–it’s a really useful tip!

Back to practice, I was pretty surprised at the difference the 1/2″ made in how I was working.  The higher heel automatically puts me a little more forward over my toes, so my posture was adjusted a little and I had to work harder to maintain it and keep myself ‘up’ (no more sinking!!).  The higher heel also meant that my body had to work harder to maintain my balance and I felt my muscles automatically start to adapt–especially my inner thighs in my standard exercises, my upper abs in latin, and my hip flexors overall.  My ankles were also getting a good workout, as well as my feet.  The best thing was that my feet didn’t hurt as much as I thought they would with the change–which shows I have gotten stronger over the last month and a half.

It seems like such a small difference, but I was definitely working much harder without really realizing it.  When I finished my last set of cuban breaks, my fitbit measured my pulse at 172–definitely high end cardio, and about 10 points higher for the same exercise in previous weeks.  To be honest, it felt really great to know I was working that hard.  I really felt like I had accomplished a lot by the end of my practice.

This is also my second week doing strength training and thankfully my body is starting to adjust to it.  I could stand on one leg without it shaking and feeling like it was going to collapse today–which is what I was experiencing this time last week.  I didn’t have a lesson today due to an issue with the hall, but I am really looking forward to my lesson on Wednesday.  I won’t be able to practice on Wednesday though because of a meeting, so it will be a Thursday/Friday exercise week.

So, about the suede.  I don’t know if it’s the same for others, but I can wear a hole in a pair of plastic heel protectors in about 3 weeks–2 if I am doing a lot of standard like right now.  After getting really frustrated about how often I was having to change heel protectors and cognizant of the rising costs (they cost about $3.00/pair, which adds up every 3 weeks), I researched some different ways to help them last.

I saw a lot of information about suede heel protectors, but quickly discovered that they are almost impossible to find these day.  Ever one to improvise, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I went to the local leather store and was able to buy  about 1 metre of tan suede on clearance for $20.  That much suede will probably last 2-3 years at the rate I am going.  A friend tipped me off to a really good glue called ‘Shoe Goo’ which can be bought at Walmart or Canadian Tire for about $10.

Now the arts and crafts part.  I take my plastic heel protector, cut a square piece of suede big enough to cover the bottom and apply glue to both the suede and protector.  I wait 2 mins for the glue to ‘set’ then stick the suede to the bottom of the heel protector.  It cures in 24-hours, at which point I trim the suede so there is no excess around the protector and put the protector on my shoes.

I don’t know why it works, but the suede helps to protect the plastic from wearing too quickly and unevenly (I used to have a huge issue where after 1 week my heel protectors were on an angle, making my heels uneven).  One piece of suede usually lasts about 2-3 months depending how much I am using the shoes, and the odd time that it comes unglued if the suede is still good, I can just glue it back on.  Over time, the suede does tend to shift a little or flatten out, and I use that to determine when it is best to replace it.

As a bonus, the suede helps make spinning easier on the knees in latin (as it slips a little bit better than the plastic), and it makes the protectors less slippery on the edges when doing heel leads.  Doing this has dramatically increased the life on my heel protectors and my shoes!  1 pair of protectors can last about 6 months before they wear a hole or are too uneven.  Much better than every 2-3 weeks!

That ‘sinking’ feeling

That was a big focus for today–or rather trying to keep me from doing that in latin.

It seems that when I ‘settle’ into my hip I have been allowing myself to collapse a little and not stay standing tall with my weight forward.  Boss spent quite a bit of time with me today to try and figure out what was going on and trying to get me to recognize when I do it.  Once I got into my head what the difference is, it made a huge difference!

The interesting thing about this is that once I started to focus on making sure that I keep my upper body ‘up’ in latin I could instantly feel my upper ab muscles start to work with the rest of my body to move me.  I am not sure why, but that really surprised me.  Once I got used to it, everything seemed to make better sense.

The strange side effect I have to work on from this is that when I keep my upper body up, for some reason I don’t want to bend my legs now as I move them from position to position.  Always something to work on :).

We also finished going through my waltz routine in slow pieces today.  Now I just have to remember everything when working on my own, and when everything is in time with the music–not asking much!!  It’s good to get through it though.  I find that exercise and way of working through the routines really helpful because when it is broken down so much slowly because my mind tends to just absorb everything like a sponge.  I am curious to see what effect that has on the routine at speed.

One thing I am really enjoying right now is the consistency of how we are working, and being able to feel myself get just a little bit of a better understanding each time we  repeat something.  Case in point–we have been doing the ‘diamond’ CBMP exercise I mentioned earlier pretty much since I started back to dance.  Today I realized that my body is starting to make the right adaptations to all the changes in direction on it’s own and my mind has almost grasped the sensations of stretching and opposition needed for it.

Dance has actually been a little tricky this week on top of my return to strength training.  It’s hard to work on legs that are all jelly from squats!!  My body will adjust though in a couple weeks so I just need to keep being consistent right now.  I decided to make strength training days Sat, Mon, Wed to let my Friday lesson be a little easier and to space out the training with my exercises, which are Mon, Wed, Fri.  Best thing about the return to weight training–I have slept really really well all week!

The surgery to fix my belly is booked for April 22.  It’s a day procedure so it looks like no hospital stay this time, which is nice.  I just want to get it over with and hopefully get onto the final stage of healing!

Revisiting old friends

At least that is what my routines feel like these days.

Today was an interesting lesson because we went through all of my routines for the first time since my surgery.  We weren’t going full out, and worked through them slow, but it was good to run through them again.

Even though it was more or less a review lesson, there were still some interesting points that came out of it.

We started by having a look at my rumba basic and focusing on some of the finer points I am missing, including the ‘flick’ on the forward step, keeping the toes of my moving foot on the floor with my heel facing back, and settling into my hips at each end.

We also looked at my rumba walks and while they are going well, I have started to let myself ‘collapse’ a little so my body is sinking when I am settling the hip.  We worked on keeping my upper body just a little more forward, but also keeping my body up throughout the whole motion.

That actually led quite interestingly into something a little unexpected when we started running through my routines with rumba.  After running through the routine once, Boss took some time to work on the connection through the hand for lead/follow.  Instead of just walking through my steps, we were working on connecting through the body movement so he was leading me through them.  It was interesting and challenging for me because I am always very cautious and don’t ever want to be too heavy or strong when dancing with someone.

What we were doing required me to apply pressure through my hand to Boss’s, but to use that pressure to communicate and move my body.  I needed to work the movement from my body through to my hand to let Boss know where I was in my movements–whether I was up, settled, or transitioning.  It was really interesting to do and certainly took my perception of following to a different level.  I found myself repeatedly fighting my instinct to be ‘light’ and not apply pressure, but when I did I was surprised how much more I could move using the lead from Boss.  We didn’t do a lot, just worked through the fan in rumba, but it was enough to start getting my wheels turning.  It also gave me an idea of where we will be working when we start working more often on latin, and we are done working through the focus we are doing on standard right now.

The other surprising thing to come out of today was two comments from Boss on my frame in both samba and paso.  In samba I guess I made some adjustments without realizing it, and it really carried through to paso.  Boss was surprised and pleased to discover that my frame has become more stable in both dances and now he can feel what I am doing from one side through to the other, instead of both sides stopping at my elbows and being disconnected.  I could certainly feel a difference in Paso which I am pretty sure are coming from the work we are doing in standard.  It will be interesting to see where that direction goes.

Today was a good day to review my ‘old friends’, as today I also returned to strength training for the first time in over a year.  After multiple strength training exercises to exhaust and build my muscles, I was definitely feeling fatigued when I got to the studio.  In addition to that, the way things got timed tonight I practiced before my lesson (usually it is the other way around).  By the time I got to my lesson, my legs were shaking whenever I had to put all my weight on one side, and I was having a hard time keeping my arms up, so it quickly became obvious that concentrated and focused work on waltz wasn’t going to go well. I had given Boss a heads-up that I was probably going to be weak and shaky from doing strength training so he wasn’t too surprised.  It will take about two weeks for my body to adjust, and I am glad to be able to get back to strengthening–even though the rest of the week is going to suck with the DOMS I am already feeling.

On a different note, I didn’t have a great weekend.  The anxiety I was feeling Friday continued and when I saw the surgeon on Saturday he surprised me by saying that the best thing to fix the issue of the fluid and swelling in my abdomen would be to surgically correct it.  It was surprising because I really thought he was going to tell me I would have to just put up with the swelling and fluid, and that is not what he said (which I am gratelful for). So yes, another surgery in my future, and probably another 6 weeks off of dance to recover from it.

When I saw the surgeon, he checked my belly and right away could tell it was full of fluid.  He wasn’t sure why the radiologist was not able to find it, and at first he was going to send me back to get a drain put in by radiology.  But he rethought it, and admitted at this point that a drain wasn’t likely to work and that surgery would be a more definitive and final solution.  I told him flat out that if given a choice I would prefer the surgery.  I just want to get all of this over with and behind me and it doesn’t make sense to wait 2 more weeks to possibly get a drain put in that is not likely to help for a decision to be made 2 weeks after to do the surgery.  As it is, it will probably be at least 2 months before this next surgery will happen.

By Saturday night, everything hit me really hard and came to a head.  But I am lucky in that I have some great friends and one of them was around to be supportive when I needed it.  Today I am feeling much better and more positive and I am waiting to hear when my surgery will be.

In the meantime, all I can do is keep working to get as strong as possible beforehand so the recovery will go easier.  Starting strength training and moving forward with dance will all help with that–so too will losing some weight and I am happy to report that finally I am starting to drop some.  It’s early days for all, but I know I have the drive and dedication to keep moving towards my goals–even if there are some ‘speedbumps’ in the way.

Bumps are sometimes hard to start to conquer, but once you get to the top, it’s all downhill from there.


Off day, off lesson

Ever have one of those days where you just feel ‘off’ from the get go and nothing wants to go right?

That was my day today.  It just started weird and didn’t get better.  For some reason, I had a lot of frequent hot flashes today and they make me anxious (something to do with the hormones they release), and it just went from there.

I actually thought about cancelling my lesson because I could tell things would be rough, but I went in the end and even made myself do my full practice after as well.  I think I was hoping the activity would help sort and even things out, but it wasn’t the case today.

Off days happen though.  I wasn’t surprised to find myself struggling through my lesson and just not able to get my body to really cooperate with me. My emotions were also pretty near the surface today too and I kept getting easily frustrated.  Boss could tell something was definitely up with me, and kept making adjustments and telling me things were ‘ok’ when I got frustrated.  We actually covered a lot, it just wasn’t done very well, and not a lot was working on my own.

There’s been a lot of stress this week, so in some ways I wasn’t surprised to be off today, and I don’t think Boss was surprised that I was either.  At the end of a what seems like a really long week, it’s understandable that I am pretty exhausted.

In an unexpected surprise, the oncologist wants to wait at least 4 more weeks before retrying the hormone therapy at half dose.  He is seeing some positive improvements, but he would like me to be a little more stable health-wise, with no open wounds (still have a small one), more active, sleeping better and less exhausted, and not having side effects from the medication for the hot flashes (no hot flashes would be nice too).  By waiting, it increases the chances that I might be able to tolerate the HT.  My family doctor agreed and I am on sick leave for at least another month.

My appointment with the oncologist was a little bit of a reality check though.  One of the comments I made about having to wait was that my illness and treatments and prevention seemed to be ‘never-ending’.  The oncologist just looked at me and said ‘it is never-ending’.

I think part of me until that moment really believed that if I can tolerate the HT or not, once I get past that, then the cancer part of my life would be over.  Unfortunately, even though I am cancer-free, there is going to always be something–whether preventative treatment or screening or scans or testing–that is going to keep cancer and thoughts of cancer part of my life.  It doesn’t mean it has to rule my life, just that it is always going to be peripherally there and something I will always have to consider.

I will put having cancer behind me, but having had it will have an impact on the rest of my life, even if in just small ways.  There is no going back to ‘before’ and I think that yesterday I just started to really understand what that means and how I will have to adjust my thinking going forward.  Cancer prevention is now a part of my life, but I don’t have to dwell on it.  It’s like fire prevention–good to be aware of, but doesn’t rule your life.  You still have to remember to change the batteries in your smoke detector though, and you don’t have open flames next to flammable objects.

One good thing about off days is that they are just that–days. Not weeks, not months, just a day.  Tomorrow I will probably wake up feeling better, or maybe it will be Sunday, but it won’t take long.  Monday will start a new week with new goals for healing.  I see the surgeon for follow-up tomorrow and I think I will feel much better once that appointment is behind me too.

Sometimes you just need an off day to lead you to appreciate how often you are ‘on’.