The Treadmill

It occurred to me the other day when posting the story about my pea soup years that I hadn’t written since the end of January. So, for the three of you who have been wondering about the hiatus here’s the scoop.

Last year Matthew and I started walking on a treadmill. Then summer and vacation took over followed by fall and excuses, etc. so the treadmill stood there collecting dust. After the holidays we (and that’s the empirical ‘we’) decided to start again and get back in shape. We found that 30 minutes a day could work neatly into our schedule and we were set.

Set, that is until the day I talked to my friend Georgann. Georgann has been my inspiration, she is one of these walkers who goes out rain or shine and gets her exercise. We were sitting there talking about walking, I smiling smugly to myself when she pulled out her FitBit which show she had logged in six miles that day.


The one and a half mile stretch that Matthew and I were so proud of suddenly seemed pretty miniscule, no wonder we were barely breaking a sweat. So, I decided to step it up a notch. Well, yeah. That didn’t work. In fact, this is what I looked like:

I even thought the treadmill was broken because it kept speeding up but the repairman assured me that the problem was all me. I was not keeping up and dragging the track down and every so often it self-corrected. Through extreme perseverance we ever so slowly improved.  Today some people see us walking on the treadmill now and wistfully mention  they would like to keep up our pace… I remind them we didn’t start on high speed.

But this was the point where our exercise began to interfere with, well, everything else. It took time to find the time in each day. Something had to give…and it was me. Instead of sitting in bed leisurely drinking coffee I had to get up and get going so that I could be done in order for Matthew to hop on for his turn at precisely 8 o’clock. It has to be a 8 o’clock because that’s when Daniel Boone is on and that’s a requisite. Initially, we were so tired that getting our exercise in was the highlight of our day…sheesh, we were worn out.

Finally, after almost six months we’re finally getting there. We have significantly increased our speed, distance and endurance.

Matthew is doing very well with his walking. I was worried because he has a particular gait reflective of his cerebral palsy diagnosis and tight, tight calf muscles. But as my mom pointed out to me, Matthew looks really good on the treadmill. In fact, now that we are paying attention we realize he is walking better on the treadmill even through the up and down hill routine. I’m hopeful this will translate into more balanced muscle tone in his legs and better walking in general. I also finally realized that instead of blaming Matthew’s droopy, sloppy, ill fitting shorts on worn out elastic or his super heavy wallet (the one stuffed with picture gift cards), the truth is that he was becoming very fit and has lost much of his belly. When we went shopping for new shorts we discovered he went down TWO sizes! TWO! No wonder his pants wouldn’t stay at his waist.

Matthew looking fit!

Matthew looking trim!

On the other hand, my progress is a little slower and my pants still don’t fall off. Hey, I’ll still blame the chemo. So what if it’s been over four years? Okay, okay, maybe it’s harder to lose weight when you become a woman of a certain age… But the important thing is we are becoming healthier and in better shape.

I knew you'd want to see my progress so Matthew took this pic for you!

I knew you’d want to see my progress so Matthew took this pic for you!

So that’s it in a nutshell. This is where we’ve been, the whole spring we’ve been putting on the miles and never leaving the living room.

Is a treadmill the best form of exercise for you? I surely don’t know, but it works for us. It took time for me to be comfortable with Matthew enough so that I didn’t have to stand right next to him. I knew that if he ever fell he would not want to get back on.

After all these miles and we also can share what we like and don’t like about the treadmill, about our shoes, and about how important it is that the treadmill is stationed smack dab in front of the television.  In fact, this treadmill was tucked away in the bedroom where it served as a clothes drape for Bob until we moved it. There’s no two ways about it, mindless TV viewing helps the time go by. We’ve decided this exercise is important enough that we even picked up a reconditioned model for our time in the mountains. You are welcome ask questions or even to come by and try out our treadmill, just don’t come when Daniel Boone is on.

The Pizza

Last year following the first or second surgery my parents moved in to help. They had plans to spend the winter in the desert and search for gold. Instead they dropped everything, packed up all their stuff and came home. “We are family, “they said. “We’re to help.” And help they did. They entertained Matthew and kept Rebecca busy. They made sure Bob had someone to talk to and were a shoulder to cry on. They cooked and cleaned. And on one occasion they made pizza.

You may recall that our house is gluten free. That means we can’t order a pizza from the place down the street.  Because of that I keep in the pantry a gluten free pizza crust mix. We make it up and add our favorite toppings. 

One day following a chemo treatment Mom wanted to know what I could eat for dinner. (Chemotherapy can do nasty things to one’s appetite.) Surprisingly, a Hawaiian pizza sounded tasty. I must have been delirious as I remember telling Mom that it was fast and easy to make from scratch.

My parents are pretty good sports and willing to try anything so they decided this would be supper. After finding the mix Mom decided that the directions were too small. She needed help…”John, come read this for me.” Apparently, too, the directions were more complicated than they expected. Hilarity ensued as they talked back and forth questioning both the directions and then each other. “When do I add the yeast?” “How long do I mix it?” “Do I need eggs?” “You need eggs?” “What kind of oil?  –Where’s the olive oil?” “How long should it rise?” “Why is it so sticky???”

With one reading and one helping and a third searching for ingredients I thought I should help. Instead I feigned sleep and lay quietly on the couch snickering. It seemed like it took forever to get made but I’m pretty sure my memory was dimmed by the chemo and most likely I took a nap. I know it smelled delicious as it baked and everyone enjoyed it.

Now when I make pizza I always think about the one my folks made. It was funny watching their efforts. But,  what I remember most is how they dropped everything to come and keep some semblance of order in our suddenly chaotic lives.  Family–yep, glad we have them.

Hair Today–Gone Tomorrow

Well, it happened as they said it would. My hair is no longer something to be styled. Sunday it began coming out in handfuls. It was more emotional than I expected so Bob and Rebecca were recruited to cut it. Rebecca chopped it off to an inch then Bob spent a half hour neatening it up. My hair has always been thick so even though I’m shedding like a scared cat there is still a lot attached to my head. I don’t think it’s actually falling out but rather breaking off at the root. Kind of creepy if you ask me. I asked the family to go ahead and pull it off but everyone is unnerved after the first handful. Still in the next couple days I expect there will be very little left. Oh, and gentle readers you are indeed fortunate the hair cutting picture was too blurry to share. Right now I look an awful lot like a short haired porcupine. Or maybe a Chinese Crested dog. In any case a scarf is in order.

I was looking forward to wearing my new stylish hats but thus far my head is too hot to wear anything but my one old silk scarf. Hot–I mentioned this to the doctor last week. “Good,” she says, “Hot flashes…” I am waking up in the night roasting but to the docs this is a sign that the medicines are doing their job. Thank goodness it’s not summer here, I would be miserable.

One thing I remembered to ask about during this last chemo treatment was whether the effects would be cumulative, getting worse each visit or stay the same. Fortunately, it sounds like each time the reactions will be similar. I don’t think the nausea was as bad this time but I hate to say anything in case it suddenly gets worse. What I can say is that the nurse gave me one more anti-nausea pill so I’m up to four choices depending on how bad or ugly it gets. I’m hoping to float through this without taking those last level pills. The nurses say I may be more tired but that is likely due to the decreased blood counts as we go along. No argument there. Thirty minutes of work and I’m ready for a break.

People ask how the rest of the family is coping. My folks were a huge blessing keeping us on track. I think I can safely say we are adjusting to this new lifestyle where the rest really pick up the slack. Bob and Rebecca make sure the clothes are washed and folded, that the kitchen is cleaned each night and both are careful to see that bathrooms and germ areas are cleaned daily. Thankfully, Rebecca is still on break as we’ve come to rely greatly on her help. We’ll have another adjustment once she goes back to school but by then we hope to have a good routine in place. Matthew, as always, likes to keep his routine and as long as it’s not him to see the doctor he’s okay. He has been much more inclined to help me and leaves his computer willingly to go for a walk every afternoon. Of course, he is more than happy to watch tv when I want a nap…as long as it’s one of his favorite shows.

Next therapy is Jan. 15th. That means I should be good for at least a week. If you’re in the area please stop by for a visit. Give me a call and I’ll be sure to have my crazy head covered. And remember not to be offended if I start yawning.