Another Surgery….

I have been quiet while having to deal with some health issues related to the hormone therapy.

I found out today that I will be having a total hysterectomy end June/early July.  The sincere hope is that once my ovaries are gone, my hormones will settle down and I can get back to feeling like myself again.

In the meantime, the hormone therapy has more or less crashed my entire system.  Because stopping the hormone therapy is not an option (the shot lasts until May), I have had to be treated with medication for the side effects.  Almost 4 weeks later, I seem to be finally starting to get to a functional point.

I say functional.  The psychiatrist who is treating me calls it ‘presenteeism’–it’s one step up from absenteeism.  Instead of being absent from my life, I am there, just not really participating.

To be perfectly honest, I have never felt worse in my life–including during chemo, radiation, and after surgery.  And I feel helpless to do anything about it, I can only manage it.

Slowly, the mental health issues are improving, but unfortunately the physical ones are not.  I am exhausted.  I am ready for bed at 6 pm after a full day of work.  It takes almost 12 hours for me to feel refreshed.  When I am awake, my energy is fairly fleeting.  It has improved a little in the last week (likely due to the medication), but it is still very restrictive.  I also ache all over.  If you have ever had aches from a fever, that is what I feel like all the time.  That in itself is exhausting.  Usually by 2 pm I have to take some ibuprofen to take the edge off.  I also have frequent headaches and right now the hot flashes are fairly frequent.

At least now, I have a general time frame to aim for when things might get better.  I say might because there is no way to know how my body will respond to surgical menopause versus chemical menopause, but there is a good chance that without my ovaries causing fluctuating hormone levels, things will stabilize and be more controllable.

This also makes very real for me something I have been avoiding–I will never have children.  It was highly unlikely before, but this makes it an absolute ‘no’. In many ways I am grieving for the children I will never have, and I have to acknowledge and give myself time to do that.

To be perfectly honest, I am not really sure if I ever would have had children or if it was something I wanted to do, but I took comfort in having the option. There is a lot more to that, but there are some things I need to keep to myself :).

I do have some dance news.

After I decided to stop dancing, I did go and advertise for a partner in the area where I live.  The response, I am sad to say was two offers for sex and one guy who was genuinely interested in dance, but who also was looking more for a relationship.  It was disappointing, but not really more than I expected, to be honest.

I had a fairly significant breakdown shortly after making my decision.

As part of that, I spent a lot of time discussing dance and what it means to me with my health care professionals.  They encouraged me to reevaluate and to talk to another dancer in the community.  They also pointed out that since my system was so depressed, no matter how much I might want to, I would never be able to see the good side to dance, only the bad.

It took a lot of talk, both with an amateur dancer who has also had breast cancer and previously danced pro/am herself when her partner was unwell, and talking with Boss, in addition to the health care professionals.

In the end, I decided to start writing.  I wrote about what led me to dance, what I enjoy about it, what I want from it, where I am, where I want to be, what I think of pro/am, how I want to learn–in short, 10 pages about dance, going through everything.

It was the most comprehensive evaluation of dance I have ever done, and it occurred to me that throughout my sickness I have had to reevaluate almost every area of my life–but I have never reevaluated dance.

It was long overdue, and it revealed a lot about what I really want and it is quite different from what I was doing and the direction I was going.

I don’t want to say more on that for now, but the evaluation is on-going.

One of the biggest obstacles I am encountering right now is actually the lack of energy, but I hope it will get better.

We shall see.  But now I seem to have something of a timeline for when this nightmare might end.

And so I fight on…

Unexpected change of plans

The ovarian suppression has stopped working.

For the gents reading, be warned this will be a women’s health post.

As I have mentioned, I was switched to a type of ovarian suppression via injection for hormone therapy 3 months ago.  The first two months went exactly as expected.  This month, it seems the injection only lasted less than a week.

I had been feeling pretty ‘off’ meaning emotional, depressed, achy, headaches and nausea for about a week, but I honestly put it down to a combination of stress and side effects from the injection attributed to my estrogen levels dropping quite low.

It turns out, this was exactly what I should have realized it was–PMDD symptoms, or extreme PMS.  Last night I suddenly had a period start, which is a huge ‘no no’ with this type of treatment.  Basically, my ovaries have overcome the ovarian suppression and have continued to produce estrogen.

Industrious little B*T*H*S.

Knowing that a period was not a good sign, I called my oncologist this morning to see what, if anything can be done and what will be the next step.  Basically, since the Zoladex is not working, he is going to try switching me to a similar ovarian suppressor named Lupron.  This is apparently a stronger suppressor, and instead of an injection once/month, it is for 3 months at a time.  On top of that, I have been told I must start the additional estrogen blocker next week, instead of the first week of march as I planned.

I get the new injection tomorrow.  I am a little angry about this as I will have to miss an hour of school to get it, and once again there is no way to know what side effects this injection will have, or what side effects the estrogen blocker will have as well.  I have one more week left to my masters residency, so I am optimistic that the result from this injection will be similar to how I felt after the injection of the zoladex.

I am determined to continue with school.  It’s intense but I am really enjoying it and in all honesty, I am very tired of having to deal with cancer-related issues and having to put pieces of my life on hold to try and deal with therapies.

I was also told today that if this new course of hormone therapy does not keep me in menopause (for example if the injection wears off early), I will be ‘referred to gynecology’ which basically means oophorectomy (removal of ovaries), and surgery.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to hope for right now.  It would be nice to just eliminate all the issues my ovaries are causing, but on the other hand not having ovaries also has it’s own side effects.  I would be in surgical menopause, for which there is no timeline (it could be years before it stops) and cannot be treated (due to inability to take hormones), bone health is affected and the ovaries are proven to big role in heart health later in life.

However, there is no point in worrying about that until and if I have to.  For now, it is necessary to get my estrogen levels under control as best we can and go from there.

I just hope this form of hormone therapy works and my life will stop being affected by cancer prevention.

I can hope, right??

One year Cancer-Free

That was my milestone for yesterday.

It’s been a really crazy year, but it’s done.  It’s uphill from here.  I was told it takes up to 2 years to fully recover from my treatments, so I guess I am officially halfway there.

No, I didn’t get everything done I had hoped to in the last year, but as life kept putting more and more obstacles in my way, I just kept adjusting.  The road to your goals is never a straight line, but full of unexpected twists and turns.

Yesterday turned out to be an unexpectedly busy day.  I received news that once all the paperwork comes through I will be returning to my previous position managing the public relations for the local base and will be working for my old Boss again–at least temporarily until he gets sent to a new position later this year.

I don’t know when the paperwork will come through yet, but ‘any day now’ seems to be the main line I get when I ask what to expect.  I have mixed feelings about returning to a position I have previously done, but I am doing so based on a request specifically for me, and it keeps me in the same location.  It is a job I really enjoyed and I will be overseeing some major transitions in staffing and infrastructure that will certainly keep me busy.

It will be a good place for me to finish healing, and does represent the faith that the senior leadership has in my abilities and that is not something to be taken lightly.

One of the other things I was able to do yesterday was run through and record 3 of the open smooth routines with Boss!  We are sending the videos to the pro who originally choreographed the routines for some general feedback and to see if there are spots she thinks should be adjusted.  It’s great to have gotten the routines to that point where we can run them without stopping even though they are still pretty rough.

My plan for later tonight is to go through the videos and make some notes for myself on styling.  I am glad to actually have reached a point where I find myself thinking about styling more than the steps.

We are going to run the routines tomorrow during the competitive practice to give us an idea of the alignments and spacing in a bigger hall.  I am looking forward to that as I think it’s going to be very interesting.

The other decision I have made recently is to work with a friend of mine on styling in general for smooth and latin. She is a hip hop teacher as well as a coach at a local dance studio that specializes in empowering women through dance (in styles like jazz, modern, burlesque, chair, etc.).  I think the work will be good to help with my confidence.  One of the themes I see a lot in my dancing lately, and especially in my styling is ‘small’. So I need to work on developing (or redeveloping) my confidence to ‘go big or go home’, something my dancing needs a lot of.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I seem to be turning the corner on the hormones.  I haven’t had a headache for 2 days or been nauseous.  My head cleared yesterday, I feel more calm, more energetic and I am sleeping better.  4 more days till I see the specialist.

My first year cancer-free has been a challenge, but I expected it to be (although perhaps not quite such a big one!).

I want to take a moment though to acknowledge that there is no way I would have been able to get through the past year so strongly without the incredible support I have from friends and family.  There are too many to name and I especially wouldn’t want to leave any out, but I hope they all know who they are and how much there support has made a difference for me.

I am looking forward to what I hope will be an easier 2nd year cancer-free.

Recognizing Anger

I am angry. And I have been for a while.

I very rarely get angry and when I do, I seldom give into it, but sometimes it is healthy to let out the anger and frustration to give it a chance to ‘clear the air’ so you can move past it instead of ignoring it.

So I apologize in advance for the angry post that is about to follow.

My body and I are still not getting along.  Even when good things happen (like being able to stop taking medication I no longer need), my body rebels.  I feel like my body and I have been at odds since before my diagnosis, and in some ways my diagnosis was my body’s way of fighting back against the changes I had been making.

Changes to get healthier.

The year before my diagnosis was one of the most positive years in my life.  I was doing very well at work, I was progressing steadily in dance (even transitioning from bronze to silver), I was steadily losing weight and that was having a positive impact on my body.  I rarely needed medications, and I can’t even remember the last time I saw my doctor other than for a mandatory check-up since sorting out my hormone issues the year before.

I was full of positive momentum and charging forward with it.  It wasn’t free of bumps in the road, but the bumps were easy to work through and I just kept overcoming it.  I could even see myself reaching my weight loss goal and was only 25 lbs from it (considering I had already lost 75, 25 was really not much).

Then I found the lump in my breast and everything changed.

Suddenly, I had no control over my body anymore.  Everything from diet to medications to hormones was taken out of my control and put into the control of my cancer diagnosis.  I kept trying to maintain control by eating a specific diet, trying to stay active and doing as much as I could.

But it wasn’t enough.  My activity level had to be reduced, medications (mainly steroids) that caused weight gain had to be taken, and chemo caused so many food aversions I couldn’t eat the things I had come to rely on in my diet and had to find substitutes.  My hormones were thrown into complete flux, first because I had to stop taking my supplements, then chemo caused premature menopause (which also tends to trigger weight gain).

My body was abused, worn out, and eventually gained 35lbs I had lost (which I have been told is the average for chemo).  After recovering from my surgeries and returning to work, I started working on me again–trying to take back control of my body–and get it back in ‘fighting form’.

But it hasn’t worked.

Over the past few weeks I have been getting angrier and angrier because I have put in a lot of time, effort, and sacrifices, but the result has been the opposite of what I expected.  It just seems like every time I get just a little more control of myself, something happens to take it away from me.  I get sick. I have to adjust medication. I have side effects from medications. I fall. I get injured.

The list seems to go on and on.

And I am very sick of it.

The withdrawal symptoms I started experiencing last week are continuing.  I missed 3 days of work last week and will miss most of this week to try and give my body the chance to flush out the medication and get used to functioning without it again.  One doctor said expect 3-4 weeks, another 7-10 days. At this point, I don’t care how long it takes, I want this over with.  It is almost like the last hurdle I need to get over to really take my life back and it is like I reach the top of it only to discover there is still another summit to go.

I feel like I have been fighting to regain my life for more than 2 years now. And I am tired. I am angry. I am trying not to give up the fight.

I am trying to remember how good it felt to see positive and expected results from hard work. I am trying to remember what it felt like to be strong and confident.  I am trying to remember what it feels like to be me–driven, motivated and full of perseverance.

Perseverance used to be my word. I might not be first or even second, but I was going to finish and I was going to do it the best I could knowing that the work I was doing meant I would be even better next time.  I knew that because I knew if I kept doing my best every time, then my best would just keep getting better.

I don’t feel I can do my best anymore. I feel like that has been taken away from me.  I know what that was and despite so much effort I feel like I am no closer to reaching the goals I was trying to reach before I got sick.  And I am really angry about that.

I feel like I am doing everything I can to help my body get stronger and healthier and it is refusing to respond.  I feel like despite all the work I have done in the past year, I am still where I was this time last year–recovering from radiation and shingles and preparing for the biggest surgery of my life.

My instinct is to try to keep fighting and force my body to cooperate as much as I can.  But in the past 3 weeks, my trainer, my physiotherapist and my doctor have told me I am probably doing too much.

I am angry that the thought of slowing down and giving myself a break puts me in a panic.  I am barely able to maintain my health and weight doing as much as I am–doing less sounds like the road to disaster.

I am angry because it is like cancer was a cruel joke sent to me as a message to tell me that I can’t reach my goals. That my goals are impossible and I am a fool for trying so hard and having faith for so many years.  I have spent my life taking one step forward and two steps back and doing things people told me I would never be able to do.

I am angry because although my mind refuses to quit, my body refuses to cooperate.  A part of me is almost wondering what obstacle it is going to present me with next as a further roadblock to my goals.

I am angry because I want to stay positive. I want to keep pushing. I want to feel like my goals ARE possible.

And I feel like that is out of my control.

I keep telling myself to be patient. I keep telling myself to remember that I have been through a lot. I keep telling myself that if I keep working, it will all come together. I keep telling myself to have faith and trust and just believe that it will work out.

But how long can I keep telling myself these things before I am living in a fantasy world instead of reality? How long is too patient?

I just don’t know if my expectations are unrealistic for the new reality in which I find myself post cancer.  I feel as though I am constantly making compromises to adjust to the changes that have occurred, but I am also questioning at what point do compromises become giving in?  I am angry because I don’t think I have anything left to compromise on, and the only options left to me is to give in completely.

I am angry with myself because I blame myself. Somewhere I didn’t do enough, didn’t try hard enough, haven’t been strong enough.  I am not able to be the person I want to be anymore and I am grieving for that.  I feel as though reality is telling me it’s time to give up my dreams and find new more reasonable ones. I am angry because I am not even really sure what those dreams were any more.  My past hopes seem so naive in comparison with my current reality.

All of this may also be part of the withdrawal symptoms I am undergoing (anger is one of the symptoms listed), but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, and it doesn’t change that I feel like I have been failing myself.

That is the hardest thing to deal with right now–feeling like I am failing.  Every day I am not able to do everything I want to do and have to adjust or compromise I feel like I am failing.  Like I am not giving myself the best chance.

Before I got sick, I was very used to doing things on my own.  Too independent according to some people.  While I was sick I had to learn the hard way to allow myself to depend on others, and as long as I was sick I was able to justify that.  Now, I am no longer sick and in my head I feel as though I should be able to take care of myself again without having to rely on others.  I feel like I should be able to work through things now without having to inconvenience others.  But I am angry because I feel like an inconvenience to those around me.

I am also angry because I feel like too many of my posts lately have been about my health and less about dance.  I am angry with myself because I feel like there has been a lot of negative coming out of me lately.  And one thing I have never been is a negative person.

So, I am giving myself some time to just be angry. Time to acknowledge that I am angry about a great many things–some in my control, some not. I am giving myself a moment to feel bad and wallow a bit in self-pity and grieve all I have lost.

My hope is to be able to find within myself the courage to regroup once again. To know that eventually I will move beyond these withdrawal symptoms and when I do the future will be waiting for me to grab it and push my way towards it.

I just have to hang on a little bit longer.

Please forgive me for expressing my anger.

Unexpected news

For the men who read this blog, be forewarned–this is going to be a ‘lady’ post.

After 18 months of enduring menopause symptoms, the bloodwork I had done on Monday showed my body is actively trying to return to it’s usual cycle.

That means I was right when I said the symptoms I was having two weeks ago when I felt exhausted, nauseous, headachy, and fuzzy-headed almost seemed like PMS.

In a nutshell, it pretty much was.

It means that any month now, my periods could return and with it regular ovulation.

This means I have to make a big decision about birth control, including whether I want to have a tubal ligation to permanently remove the risk of pregnancy.

It’s one thing to find out that you are no longer fertile due to health complications, it’s another to have to make that choice yourself for health reasons.

I am 37, single, and will be on hormone therapy for at least 5 years.  While taking HT, pregnancy is a big no-no.  When I finish hormone therapy, I will be 42–an age where pregnancy under normal circumstances can be risky.

My doctor is recommending the tubal ligation to eliminate that possible risk to my health.

I am not sure that I am ready to commit to that voluntarily. I have no way of knowing where I will be in my life in 5 years, how my health will be, or what life choices I will want to make at that time.

On the other hand, another option could be a total hysterectomy which would mean changing the HT I am on and going through menopause again.  It would also eliminate the chance of ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer.  Once my body adapted to not having ovaries anymore, my hormones should settle down.

One thing that keeps me on the fence is the PMS symptoms I experience.  They are debilitating and unfortunately uncontrollable (since I can’t take hormones).  4 days out of every month I can expect to be almost non-functional, and I am not sure if preserving my fertility is worth enduring that until my body naturally goes into menopause.  That said, those symptoms may not be ‘normal’ for me and may be changeable as my body works to return to ‘normal’ cycles.  At this point, there is no telling what ‘normal’ is for me.  It could be a 4-week cycle with 4 days of PMS, it could be shorter or longer.

As I have mentioned before, I had issues with hormones for more than a year before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was diagnosed with PMDD–Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder–a severe form of PMS to the point where it disrupts regular life.  It is a combination of mental and physical symptoms, but things like difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability and fatigue are some of the main mood issues.  The symptoms disappear completely the day menstruation starts.  To put it in a nutshell, when I experience these symptoms, I don’t feel like myself and I feel helpless to control how I react and act.  It is like I have to watch while someone else takes over my body for a few days.

This, more than anything else, upsets and makes me anxious about the news that my body is coming out of menopause.  At my worse, these symptoms lasted more than a week, and were occurring every 3 weeks.  Basically I got about 1 week out of month to feel ‘normal’ and like myself.  It affected every area of my life from my relationships to work to dance.

I don’t want to go back there again.

My periods themselves have not yet returned but I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time.  My oncologist actually told me if they do return while on the HT there might be a study for me to join as this is apparently a bit unusual.

It sometimes seems like as soon as I get one thing sorted, another pops up.  A friend of mine summed it up that this is just another ‘inject’ in my life I will have to deal with, and those words are very true.  But he also reminded me I have support.

I still feel like I should apologize in advance to every one I know before my hormones take over.  I hope the specialist will have some palatable options, but I am not looking forward to the decisions I will have to make.

F*&% cancer.

Putting together the pieces

As expected, today’s lesson was focused in on some of the things that needed work from yesterday.

We started by working on the foxtrot and clarifying the third and 4th line and working through them over and over until they felt really solid, had some shaping to them.  There are some really interesting steps in those lines, but to make them work I have to make sure I do my part right.  We were also working on using my power to travel.

After foxtrot, it was on to quickstep.  again the second and third line to put them together and to clarify little but really important details (especially in quickstep where everything is so fast!).  We fixed some of the iffy parts to make them more solid so neither Boss nor I had to worry about falling.

Again my endurance failed me.  The last two times running through the lines my legs just stopped working.  The last time we both felt me just sink as my steam ran out.  Considering we spent most of the lesson just running over and over through two really tough dances full out, it was a bit of an achievement to make it as far as I did before my muscles started shutting down.  It was also ‘leg day’ at the gym, so they worked really hard today!

I will do my regular workout tomorrow, but after that, no strength training until after the competition to let my muscles rest and be at full strength when I need to be at the competition.

We are getting down to the wire, and to the point where it is just run through, run through, run through, and fix the things that can be fixed in the time we have.  Just build the confidence in the routines.

I can also tell that Boss is already thinking ahead to what we will focus on after this competition, which will be more shaping and upper body work.  Putting all the pieces together.

I pick up the skirt for my solo tomorrow so I can start practicing with it, and my dresses are also really coming along.  I am excited to see them!

Endurance

Of all the things I lost while I was sick, my endurance is the thing I miss the most.  Hands down.

It is also the part I am having the most difficulty dealing with–mostly because it really wasn’t an issue before I got sick.  I was one of those people who could and would dance almost an entire social dance with no break, could do multiple classes in an evening followed by supervised practice, 3+hours and it would barely phase me.

Now I am lucky to get through a full lesson some days.  It’s a slow rebuilding process.

But the important thing is that there has been progress.  Between my first competitive practice a week ago, and the one yesterday, I was making it further through my routines and almost making it to the end of the round.  It’s a small change, but enough to feel good about.

I have noticed lack of endurance in my activities outside of dance, especially in my legs.  I think it hasn’t quite dawned on me how much leg strength I have lost.  One of the things to start doing after this competition is to start focusing on rebuilding more endurance–which is something physio also wants to do for my legs.

In general, I did well this weekend, although I did have a very ‘off’ day on Saturday.  I could feel the effects of the reduction in medication and had several hot flashes with nausea throughout the day.  I also felt exhausted and achy, so I gave myself a break and laid on the couch watching Netflix–something I can’t remember ever doing.

I felt better yesterday and today I have had almost no hot flashes and nausea–just a little bit of a manageable headache.  To say I am relieved it underwhelming.  I am tired, but not exhausted and my muscles also don’t ache as much–even after the practice yesterday.

I have a lesson tonight which I expect will be focused on some of the major points from yesterday, the solo and paso doble, which neither Boss nor I remembered yesterday.

I will be back later 🙂

A day of surprise

It’s amazing how sometimes something can happen and it takes some time just to catch up with it.

I got something completely unexpected when I got into work today. I got an email from my doctor that said I have been approved as medically fit by the headquarters.

This means that I am officially allowed to return to full duties, and that I will be posted from the support unit to a ‘real’ position.  It means that as far as work is concerned, my cancer journey is officially behind me.

It’s a bit surreal.  I have had to read the email a few times today just to remind myself it’s true.  It was completely unexpected, but my doctor expedited my file because I am slated to travel overseas for work in October (after the competition) and the easiest way to permit that was to get sign off as soon as possible.  I thought they were exploring other options and did not know they had asked for my file to be reviewed ASAP.  Usually it takes more than 6 months to get sign-off.

That was the start of a very busy day facilitating media interviews and working on products for my upcoming trip.  I will reveal where it is closer to the time and once tickets are bought (no turning back then), but it will be 10 days in a place I have never been–very exciting!

At dance today, we worked on the Viennese Waltz solo, and that started a bit of another surprise.  Boss started by asking me to show him what I had choreographed for the very beginning of the solo.  He liked my idea, and so it became.  We also got the ending together as well.  By the end of the lesson, we were able to run through the full routine a couple times and recorded it.  I can see I was pretty tired, and some spots that need definite work, but the routine is together!  It’s mainly polishing now.

I generally feel better today–whether it was the news that started my day (which I am still processing), or that the solo is now together and doable, or I am a little pumped from having a really productive day at work.  It was only the very end of my lesson I felt my legs turn to jelly, but I didn’t feel exhausted afterward.  My endurance in general still needs a lot of work to rebuild.

My knees also felt better today.  It seems they are happier on the days I work out my legs, and the day after, but start to flare up on the third day.  It will be something to discuss with my physiotherapist.

Hard to believe but next week I will start tapering down my workouts to allow my body to recover to be in top form for competing.  I always reduce my strength training before a competition and just focus on dance so that my muscles are not fatigued on competing day and I am able to be fresh.

To be honest, part of me still hasn’t quite realized the competition is so close.  It’s like I have been working and waiting forever to get to it, and now that it is almost here it doesn’t seem quite real.  Part of that though may be everything else that is going on.  I am sure that soon enough it will seem too close!

Pre-competition Disorder

It’s coming.

Not here quite yet, but I can feel it coming.  Pre-competition Disorder. Essentially when students freak out before a competition and panic they won’t be ready.

I am usually pretty good at managing it, but this is a bit of a ‘come-back’ comp and all of my routines are new.  And I actually have people to compete against–which has been a long time for me.

In my lesson today, we were running through my solo for the competition.  It’s almost choreographed, and we were able to get through it from mid-beginning to where the choreography stops almost near the end.  It was videotaped and it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would.

I will admit there was a point in my lesson today when I seriously considered suggesting dropping doing the solo.  Boss was being a little frustrated with me because I wasn’t quite getting something, and suggested we ‘simplify’ it so it can be ready.  There is nothing I hate more than not being given a chance to learn something before Boss decides to ‘simplify’ it.  In the end, I got the step as he originally wanted it, so small victory for me.

After that, he gave me a choice of whether to run-through the routine or to just work on little parts.  I chose to run-through it as I knew that mostly I needed to repeat it in context to get the footwork in my feet.  I know the parts that need a little more focused work, and some of them I just need to work through on my own.

I am not really sure why, but I was struggling with two things today–first, my knees were excruciatingly sore.  I didn’t want to bend them and I was compensating for them without really realizing it.  I am not sure why they were so flared up.  Wednesday is the day I don’t have strength training, so they were able to take it easy all day.  I am actually wondering if it is the rest they don’t like.

The second thing I was struggling with was dizziness–which is definitely an issue when doing Viennese Waltz!  What was strange was that I was finding myself a lot more dizzy than I usually would be, and sometimes felt dizzy for no reason.  The dizziness was also one of the reasons I wanted to cut back on the medication–I had been finding it more and more in the last couple weeks, and I am hoping as I cutback the dizziness will go away.

I just don’t need anymore health issues right now.

I think the combination of my knees, the dizziness and feeling the pressure of putting together a complicated solo two weeks before a competition is starting to get to me a little bit.  I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed during my lesson.

I stayed for practice tonight and ran through each of my open silver routines as best I could on my own.  They weren’t too bad, but I could tell I was tired.  That said, the only one that gave me a lot of grief was foxtrot, which I was working on last.  Quickstep is still a little fragmented, but tango has really become ironed out.  I was able to focus on styling a little in cha cha, especially the beginning which is more side-by-side.

I have my final lesson this week tomorrow, and the plan is to run through the solo more, hopefully from top to bottom.  We also need to run through the Paso Doble before the competitive practice on Sunday.  Boss also mentioned he wanted to work through Viennese Waltz just on it’s own because he found in the solo I wasn’t ‘really moving’ and seemed to be struggling with the actual VW part.  I did tell him I was keeping things small on purpose for my knees, which I guess made sense to him. I hope my knees are better tomorrow.

One thing that is adding to my stress a little bit is the news that my roommate was given an offer for his own place, so he will be moving out the end of October.  It was quite a bit unexpected, for him and for me, and it means I have to scramble to find a new roommate.  While I can pay all the bills on my own and even keep myself in lessons, no roommate means almost no savings for competitions.  Therefore, if I don’t find a new roommate then the competition over Thanksgiving will be my last until I am able to find a new roommate.  It sucks, but it is what it is, and I will just have to see how things progress.  I think I have already resigned myself a bit to not being able to afford to do the next competition in January.

Today was my first day on the lower dose of the medication and there seems to be a little bit of difference already–in a positive way.  I can say for sure that my digestive system is feeling a little happier today, and there is less metallic taste in my mouth.  I am going to hold on to those signs and hope it keeps moving forward.  I am though a little concerned that the reason I feel a little bit overwhelmed is also because of the dose change.  The medication affects mood, and has to be ‘weaned’ off to avoid a ‘crash’ if it is stopped suddenly.  I am of course ‘weaning’, but I think it would be irrational of me to think that cutting the dose in half won’t have even the slightest effect on my mood.

I am dealing with it though–as best as I know how :).

Filling in the Gaps

That is what today’s lesson was mainly about.

After the practice yesterday, I sent Boss a note with some feedback from the run-throughs of any places in each routine that were still fuzzy.  Mainly it was transitions from one step to another, and it turned out the main problem was just small directional issues.

We spent the lesson today going through each of the spots I pointed out and clarifying what I needed so I can be a little more comfortable with the routines and able to work on my own in practice.  This is going to be really important in standard as I really tense up with I am unsure of myself.

I did get a good amount of practice in today before my lesson which let me review some of the fuzzy spots myself.  I debated staying after my lesson, but recognized I was pretty sore and tired and gave myself a break.

Mondays, for whatever reason, tend to be fuzzier days in general, although I certainly wasn’t as bad this week as last.  I wasn’t ‘zoning out’ tonight and was able to keep focus through the full lesson.

Boss gave me a homework assignment though, and it was interesting of him to suggest.  He told me to write out notes from tonight’s lesson as there was a lot of information, right into the email he was using to structure the lesson (my feedback from yesterday).  I wasn’t too sure it was a good idea to do it tonight, and I am not one to write notes in general, especially during a lesson, beyond steps and timing, but after I got home and showered I decided to write out the points.

What was actually quite helpful was that I waited until a bit of time after my lesson to write the notes.  Therefore, I had to recall the points and write them in my own words.  For me, that is almost like retention gold.  I see words in my head, so anything I write in my own words almost automatically gets remembered.  I am curious to see how that translates into my next practice (which should be Wednesday after my lesson–unless I get a little energetic and decide to do some runthroughs on my own tomorrow night at the gym).

On a different note, tomorrow I have a phone consult with my oncologist to discuss my medication and the side effects I have been experiencing.  I really hope that we can slowly ‘phase out’ the problem medication without too much difficulty.  As I seem to have adjusted to the hormone therapy, the side effects I am experiencing from the medication I am taking for the side effects of HT are getting pretty extreme–especially the digestive issues.

I have my fingers crossed that the oncologist will let me at least try smaller doses and see how it goes.  Taking medications for side effects of a medication I am taking for the side effects of HT just doesn’t make much sense to me–especially since I seem to having much less (almost none) side effects from the HT. One less medication in my home pharmacy would be really welcomed right about now.

With three weeks to go to the competition, I am feeling good about where things are at, even though they are still a little rough.  As I said before, the goal is to get the routines on the floor for this competition, and I should definitely be able to do that.

I have lessons Wednesday and Thursday this week and they should be focused on the solo and Paso Doble.