Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Breath of Fresh Air

I'm in DC! It feels so good to be in the States. Even though I'm a New York girl (university and my first job) I spent quite a lot of time in DC as well and feel right at home here.

The first thing I noticed as soon as I got out of the airport was the crisp winter air. It felt great to be able to take a deep breath without any added dust or pollutants. I loved seeing the joggers and cyclists along the river and in the park -- we don't have either in Kuwait. It made me wish I had brought my workout gear, even though I could probably only manage a stroll. Anyway. I'll keep this post short.

All is well. The trip over the Atlantic was not nearly as painful as I thought it would be. I'm glad I came a day earlier than previously planned so that I could use today to rest (and shop). My best friend arrives from New York tonight (I'm SO excited!!!) and the conference starts tomorrow. Busy days ahead ... Feeling good and breathing well.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

FMM - Holiday Shopping

Although this should have been posted on Monday, I've scheduled it for Tuesday so at least something is up for today (since I'll be traveling all day).

This week's post is about Holiday Shopping -- how could I not participate?!

If you've taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you're new, please take a moment to answer this week's question on your own blog and then add your link in the comments section at to share your FMM questions and answers.

1. Do you like to shop? YES! I'm a total shopaholic!

2. Have you started shopping for Christmas gifts yet? Yes I did. I'm so excited - now all I need is the perfect wrapping paper!

3. Did you shop on Black Friday? If so, what did you buy? Unfortunately they don't have Black Friday sales here in Kuwait -- so no Black Friday shopping for me ... I sure do miss being in the States for the biggest shopping day of the year!

4. List a few of your favorite stores. In Kuwait: Nine West (shoes of course!), ALDO, On Time (store for watches and accessories), Pottery Barn, and Dean & Deluca. Online shops for those things we can't get here in Kuwait:,,, and

5. What is the last thing you purchased for yourself (food and drinks excluded?)?
I bought myself a few accessories today - 2 cuff bracelets and 2 pairs of earrings.

6. Do you prefer to shop in-store or online? In-store whenever possible; however, since there's a lot of stuff that we don't get here, I do resort to quite a bit of on-line shopping.

7. If you could purchase one thing that you don't need at all for yourself today, what would it be? 'Need' is such a subjective word ... of course I'd say a stunning pair of shoes right off the bat. If I'm being honest, probably anything I bought at this point in time would be something I didn't 'need'

8. Does your significant other shop with you? Do they love it/hate it? I have definitely found that shopping separately is a key to peace and tranquility! Shopping together only works if there's something specific on the list - particularly when related to an electronic gadget of some sort!

9. Do you shop at thrift stores? No. I don't think there are any thrift stores in Kuwait.

10. When you're holiday shopping, do you make lists? I always make lists ... I think the real question would be, do I stick to the lists? I usually use it as a guide/reminder of people I have to buy things for or ideas I have for presents. What happens once I get to the shops is another story!

Now it's your turn, so copy and paste - add your own answers, then come back here and link up!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Subconscious Desires

This morning, I got into my car and started driving ... at least five minutes had gone past before I noticed that I was not on my way to work but rather was on the highway leading to the gym -- my subconscious was definitely taking over! If only I was strong enough ... I did stop by at the gym today though to see one of the trainers. It felt so good to be there ... hopefully I'll be able to get into a routine, even if it's an easy one, after I return from my trip.

Speaking of the trip - today was utter chaos in terms of getting things organized. I was originally going to leave on Wednesday, but because of the strikes going on in the UK, I had to change my flight to tomorrow morning - cutting out 24 hours of my planning time! Right after I changed my flight I realize that my passport was still at the Argentinian Embassy ... which was closed today!! I almost had a complete meltdown - but D saved the day!! He told me to call the Argentinian embassy in Abu Dhabi and see if they could help ... sure enough, they could! They gave me the mobile number of the ambassador who assured me he would get me my passport today ... and half an hour later, I had my passport in my hand!! This is a very mild retelling of the story - it was much more chaotic and stressful when it was happening!

So, I've got my passport and my flights and hotel are booked ... now I've just got to finish packing and figure out what I can wear to comfortably get through the upcoming journey.

Normally I'd be fretting over packing in gym clothes, but I know that I won't be working out in DC, but I do hope that I'll do quite a bit of walking.

Ok - there's lots to be done before my flight in a few hours.

I'm not sure how much I'll be posting over the next few days - but I'll try to blog whenever possible!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

It Takes Time

The main change that I've noticed lately is how much more time things take now ... I walk slower, I drive slower (probably a good thing), and I take longer to recover from something a simple as visiting a friend.

It's ok though. I've taken it in stride. My schedule is insane until the end of the year. I've got a paper to write, my thesis to complete, a conference to attend, and on the fun side, lots of holiday celebrating to do ... not to mention Christmas shopping, which is the best part!!

I've just got to figure out how to fit everything in ... and of course I really, really want to get back to the gym ... even if all I can do is walk on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes. I just miss being in that atmosphere and seeing my gym friends (at the gym instead of at my place - though they're always welcome of course!) Although I do think I'm ready, I don't think it's a good idea to go just before traveling in three days. I already know that the journey will be exhausting ... and I am a bit nervous about sitting on the plane for such a long period of time - I know I can move around, but it's not the same. Anyway.

I guess I need to figure out how to make the most of the next two days without exhausting myself. It's definitely easier said than done ...

Saturday, November 26, 2011


This week was a big week. Not only did I go back to work, but I also had quite a few errands to do to prepare for Thanksgiving ... Although Monday and Tuesday were terrible ... I did feel better on Wednesday and Thursday, but after waking up this morning, I now realize that I may have overdone it. I tried to take it easy, but there was a lot of movement involved - a lot of bending to pick things up or stretching to reach. I didn't feel any pain - and I don't really feel any pain right now, but I'm definitely uncomfortable - kind of like my intestines have shifted inside me. I know, I don't even know if you can really feel the presence of your organs, but that's the only way I can really describe how I'm feeling right now.

So the only thing on today's agenda is REST.

I am glad that I was able to move as much as I did ... I just have to remember that just because I can doesn't mean I should. However, I do have to say, although I'm not feeling that great at the moment, it was totally worth it -- I love Thanksgiving :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fired Up for Fall - Final Update (Week 10)

So today is my final Fired Up For Fall update.

I can't believe ten weeks flew by so quickly.
Although I was not able to reach my goals as planned, I have learned a lot in the process ...

Life happens.

Many unpredictable things happened over the past ten weeks ... most of them related to my health (namely my bronchitis and surgery). It's frustrating when you set off on a mission only to be let down by something that was out of your control ... or was it in my control? I'm not sure.

In any case ... now it's time to focus on the weeks ahead. My goals are still the same - and I'm trying not to let the fact that I didn't really hit any of my goals get me down. I just have to keep moving forward. I guess that's the bottom line, right?

The end of the year is always challenging in terms of weight loss - lots of holiday dinners and festivities lined up. However I think the best way to deal with the food aspect is portion control. We'll see how that goes.


I'm feeling better today. I took some strong painkillers and managed to finally get some rest. I took it easy for pretty much the whole day ... it makes such a difference. I hope the worst is finally behind me in terms of recovery ... I'm more than ready to be totally back on my feet. If only my body would catch up!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


If I had to rank today, I'd give it a 1/10. The only reason it's not a 0 is because I put up some Thanksgiving decorations today ... and decorations of any kind always make me happy.

The drive to work today was terrible. I left the house 2 minutes later than yesterday but got stuck in horrible traffic, which resulted in a lot of start/stop motion ... the nausea I felt was unbelievable. I almost turned around and went back home. If I hadn't just come off of 3 weeks of sick leave I definitely would have headed home ...

I had an ultra-short class today ... my cramps were just so bad that I couldn't see straight. I am not exaggerating. I had to force myself to keep my head up and walk straight. It was downhill from there ...

Although I had finished teaching early, I still had a few errands that I had to run today. Tomorrow is already packed - with a class, a meeting, and tons of pre-Thanksgiving prep ... so I dragged myself through my errands - pacing myself and taking lots and lots of deep breaths. The painkillers I'm taking do not seem to be working at all.

At home I finally got a chance to rest a bit. It's never easy trying to relax when you're in pain - as I've said several times during my recovery! I know I'm whining ... but it is what it is.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Making Progress

I survived the day, and it didn't go nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

The thing that I was actually dreading the most was having colleagues trickle in and ask how I was doing. Only my two closest friends and the director knew that I had surgery; the rest of my colleagues knew that I was ill. However, having been out of the office for three weeks, they must have assumed it was something major (or that I was just ditching work!). Anyway. I had a few that asked if I was ok and then lingered ... I knew they wanted details, but I didn't offer any. I just nodded my head and smiled and said I'm ok, each day gets better. Nobody pressed much further. I'm glad that's over!

Class itself was ok. I teach in an adjacent building -- I don't know if it was smart or not, but I decided to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I couldn't bring myself to take the lift just to go up one floor. At the top of the stairs I ran into one of my students who decided to walk with me to class. Now one of the things the students tease me about is that I walk really fast. Whenever they walk with me, they always comment on how fast I walk ... however, today was a different story. We were chitchatting while walking towards class, but I could tell that the student didn't know what to do - should she continue to walk at my snail's pace or pull ahead? Eventually as we got to the second hallway, she went on to the classroom. What a relief - because I knew I was walking a bit faster than I was comfortable!

Class was fine. I stayed back at the office to catch up with some grading. I should have gone home immediately, but I wanted to buy a few groceries. So I stopped at the nearby supermarket ... I had told myself to leave everything that didn't need to be put in the fridge immediately in my car so that D could bring it up later ... but as seems to have been the trend today, I decided to carry them all up (the bags weren't too heavy).

Once I made it home, the exhaustion set in. I had already been feeling nauseous from the drive, and all the movement didn't help. By the time I put the groceries away and tidied up a bit I was completely knackered, and to make things worse, I got my period. That was definitely the worst part of my day. The cramps were killing me!! It was hard not to take a whole bottle of painkillers to get rid of the pain ... while I managed for the most part to firmly push out any bitter thoughts about how it wasn't supposed to be this way anymore, a few moments of pure frustration did creep in ...


Overall, here's what I DID manage to do today:

- drive
- climb stairs
- do groceries (and carry them up and put them away)

That's a lot of movement compared barely anything over the past three weeks. No gym yet, but I'm working up to it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Driving Forward

I think yesterday's rant really helped me. I got it out of my system - and although the feelings haven't disappeared, they're not lingering over me in the same manner (at least for the time being).

My sleep seems to be breaking around 3:30 a.m. lately. However, I stayed in bed until 5 and then got up and did something that I haven't done in quite a while -- morning yoga. I used to have a short 5-pose yoga routine that would do every morning to help me get centered. It wouldn't take much time, but just those movements would loosen me up and get me ready for the day. Although I couldn't do all the poses properly, I did do the whole routine and just focused on my breathing. I had forgotten how good it felt. I'll post my routine in another entry.

I still had some residual anxiety (well, I always have some anxiety so I'm not sure if it was residual) so one of the first tasks I did was to sort some of the kitchen cabinets that have been driving me crazy. I boxed up a bunch of mugs and other dishes that I don't frequently use but am not ready to get rid of yet -- just seeing the cleared up space made me feel better.

I did some prep for dinner (Shepherd's pie tonight - meat version for D, veggie version for me) and then ... the highlight of my day ... I DROVE!!

I had not driven since Oct. 29th!! I really missed driving. I slowly and cautiously drove to the salon for a much needed mani/pedi!

I had a few other errands on my list, but I was feeling rather tired so I just headed home after the salon -- I didn't want to overdo it for the day.

Getting out of the house gave me such a feeling of relief and freedom ... I hope that as I go back to work tomorrow my routine falls into place without much difficulty.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Last Rant

This internal monologue used to be constant - it was almost easier when it was constant because it was kind of all that I was focusing on. Now, it's more intermittent. Everything will be fine and then all of a sudden I'll feel like somebody punched me in the stomach, yet I'll have to keep my composure because you can't just fall apart whenever you want to ... I'm struggling, but I'm also tired of the ups and downs. It's absolutely exhausting ... so this is my final rant. I'm putting it all out there and then I'm just going to move on. These thoughts have been haunting me and though the don't hit me as frequently, they still hit me as hard.

I can't believe this is happening to me.
I can't believe that the surgery wasn't a success.
I can't believe that they couldn't even take out the 6-cm fibroid that caused the alarm in the first place. They just closed me up? Just like that? What - and shrug their shoulders saying, 'Sorry, there's nothing we can do.' That's it?

Did I make a mistake? Did I rush into this surgery? Did I choose the wrong surgeon? I knew that having a hysterectomy was in my future after my surgery three years ago, so I don't think I made a mistake in my decision. Did the surgeons do all that they could, or were they just not prepared to go further? I don't think they did all they could.

So now I'm stuck here.
Stuck with a uterus that's the size of a 6-month pregnant woman's uterus.
Stuck with the haunting words of that doctor who said, 'You can't lose weight around your abdomen no matter what you do.'
I'm stuck with these fibroids that are not only still in my uterus, but will probably keep growing and keep multiplying.
I'm stuck with the fact that at this point, even if I did want children, I wouldn't be able to.
Worst of all, I'm stuck with the pain and discomfort.

Stuck. That's how I feel. I've heard all the encouraging words - They wouldn't have found out about the adhesions if you hadn't had the surgery (or so we're assuming). There may be another doctor somewhere in the world who can help you. Things will get better, just wait. Time heals all wounds. Blah blah blah - All I have to say is 'Shut the fuck up.' I don't care about those words. I don't care. I know that there are thousands of people who have it worse than me. I know that things happen for a reason. I know that there are some things in our lives that we just have no control over. I also know that medical miracles do happen. However, at this point in time, I don't care ... as you're sitting there, smiling, giving encouragement, urging me forward, all I can do is smile and nod and say I know ... but all I really want to do is punch you in the stomach and see if you can stand that pain on a daily basis.

This is my pain. My reality. My problem.

I have been positive. I think I have been a pillar of 'Keep your head up and keep moving forward.' I will continue to move forward and be as strong as I can because really, that's all that I can do. However, in the midst of all this, I have not taken the time to grieve over what happened, and I think that has really been affecting me. So today I'm taking the time to grieve - even if it's by myself and via this blog. I'm just letting it all out there for the first and last time.

I felt like before it was already a struggle to keep moving forward and staying motivated - having to have a pep talk on a daily basis to keep yourself going is exhausting ... and I had to do that before I had the surgery ... so now it's even tougher. Still, I'll keep going forward - of course I'll keep going forward ... I'm just hoping that letting these words out into the open will help take some of the weight off my shoulders (if not my abdomen - hahaha, see, I still have a sense of humor!).

End of rant.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Roller coaster

My insomnia is back.

Yesterday I woke up at 3:00 a.m. I stayed in bed until about 3:45, which is when the anxiety got so bad that I had to get out of bed.

I hate it when it gets to that point. There's nothing in particular triggering it, but at the same there's a lot on my mind ... and in my heart. You can keep pushing forward ... but powering through only gets you so far for so long.

I don't even remember what I did for the rest of the morning, but at 10 a.m. KD came to take me out to do some shopping. It was a great morning/afternoon -- we took it slow, but it all added up. By time I got home around 3 p.m. I was knackered and nauseous. I just lay on the couch and could not move until around 8. I wasn't in pain, but I was sore ... really sore.

I took a few pain killers, but they didn't really help.

Unfortunately, tonight was another sleepless night ... what the hell is going on? It's so frustrating ... however, since today is my last official sick leave day, I am determined to do absolutely nothing at all except veg in front of the TV.

This roller coaster of emotions and physical pain/relief is getting old. I sure do hope that things turn around soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fired Up for Fall - Week 9

I know I'm a day behind posting my FUFF update ... the days all seem to merge together lately.

After 2 painkillers and 9 hours of sleep, I woke up this morning feeling much better. However, I've made sure not to make the same mistake as yesterday and I've been taking it easy for the most part. It seems like life is always about trying to find a balance ...

Part I: Positive Picture
I actually had quite a tough time finding a positive picture for this week. It's not that I'm not feeling positive, but I guess I'm just not feeling inspired. Perhaps it's understandable given the events of the past few weeks ... of course I'm trying to stay positive overall, but some days are just more difficult than others. In any case, I looked through tons of websites and images ... and this is the one that struck me the most ...


What have you done this week to work towards your goals?
It's definitely been a tough week in terms of working towards my goals. Limited movement = limited achievement. At least I did manage to go out twice and go for a slow walk. Plus I got back to my PhD work this week ... it's slow and steady at the moment. I'll definitely pick up the pace as soon as I can.

What have you done this week to make yourself feel fabulous?
I can finally get out of bed without struggling too much or feeling much pain -- such a simple thing, but I guess something that I definitely take for granted. As I've gone from such difficulty moving to slowly regaining my strength, I am so grateful for all that I can do -- regaining strength and being able to move much more easily has definitely been fabulous.

What is the most positive thing you've taken away from this challenge?
I've found that the most positive aspects have emerged through the most difficult times ... when I look back at my posts over the past 9 weeks I find it amazing how things can change in such a short span of time ... for me it's mainly been health difficulties (bronchitis and surgery) ... however, despite these obstacles, life goes on. Things do get better - obstacles don't mean permanent roadblocks or failure ... they're just obstacles. Some can be overcome in a day while others take a lot longer to deal with. In any case, there is not much that can't be done without patience and persistence.

It's your last week, the run to the finish, what is your priority?
Well, I most probably won't be heading back to the gym, so I feel like most of my goals will not be reached in terms of losing weight and sticking to a workout program.
The main thing that I can focus on is getting back on track with my studies ... I have until the end of the year (though they've said I can take a bit longer if needed because of the time lost for the surgery - but I really hope I can finish by the end of this year). Getting as much done on my PhD is a top priority for sure!

Fun stuff - Desert Island: You can take 1 person, 1 famous person, and 3 items besides food and water. Who and what do you take?
My items are easy - a knife, a blanket, and soap :)

As for my people -- I'd take my BFF for a combination of great company and entertainment and for my famous person ... at the moment, with all the Grey's Anatomy I've been watching, it's Eric Dane -- who wouldn't want McSteamy on an island with them?! He'd be there for a totally different type of entertainment ;) Yum!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Too much too soon

I woke up this morning feeling good. Well, as good as I could feel at 5:00 in the morning ... I was sleepy, but I didn't feel much pain at all.

I got up and decided to start my day because I knew there was no way I'd be getting back to sleep. I thought I'd tackle the HUGE stacks of paper in my office - all related to my PhD research. I needed to streamline my material and get rid of papers that were up to 4 years old and no longer necessary.

After a few hours of sitting at my desk I decided to move to the living room and continue my work there -- a few trips back and forth from the living room to my home office (to get more papers, a stapler, more post-its etc.) ... I seemed to be extra-clumsy and kept dropping things, which meant that I had to keep bending to pick them up ... I realized I was definitely feeling less pain as my movements were not as slow as the previous day ...

I cleaned a little, cooked a little, organized a little ... and by 3:00 p.m. I was EXHAUSTED. Exhausted to the point of dizziness and nausea. I wasn't in pain, but I was definitely in extreme discomfort.

It got worse over the hours ...

A group of friends were scheduled to come and visit me later in the evening. In hindsight, I probably should have cancelled, but I hadn't seen them in almost a month so I stuck to the plan. By the time they left, just before 11 p.m., I was in so much pain and discomfort I could barely breathe.

I would have never thought that just moving back and forth between two rooms and picking up a few things would have this effect ... but it did.

I guess the doctor was right - I still need to take it easy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trip to the Avenues

I really needed to get out of the house, so D took me to the mall (I'm still not allowed to drive). The one thing I was dreading (and something I remembered from my previous surgery) was the road leading up to the mall which is not made with proper pavement, but rather paved with bricks ... which makes it very, very bumpy. It was unbelievably painful - and just those two minutes on bumpy road had me feeling dizzy and winded before even stepping into the mall.

I'm glad we went to the mall early because it was so quiet - it gave me plenty of time to leisurely stroll from one end of the mall to the other and back ... though I have to say, I was exhausted. I walked for just over an hour -- sounds like a lot, but I was walking very, very slowly - and also browsing in a few shops along the way.

The Avenues is not an easy mall to walk in. First of all it was cold - very cold; they seem to still have the AC on high even though it is definitely becoming cooler outside. Second of all, the floors are not easy to walk on, especially when you want to take your time and need a lot of energy just to stand straight and walk slow.

By the time we got back to the starting point I was exhausted. Still, it did me some good to get out of the house and actually walk. Although I do feel quite a bit better today in terms of pain, I am once again reminded of how much time the body does take to heal ... I was hoping to maybe make it to the gym in the next few days ... but if the exhaustion I'm feeling now after that little stroll is anything to go by, I think that's a bit of an optimistic estimate!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Some Down Time

I didn't post yesterday.

In fact, I didn't do anything yesterday.

I took two really strong pain killers on Tuesday night and they really knocked me out -- felt the effects throughout the day on Wednesday ... so the lethargy from the pills plus trying to fight the depression related to being stuck at home and thinking about the surgery just had me parked on the sofa watching episode after episode of Grey's Anatomy.

That's all I really seem to be doing lately - just watching TV. There's not much else I can (am allowed to) do at the moment ... it's incredibly frustrating. Although physically I am getting stronger, it's been incredibly difficult emotionally - I feel absolutely overwhelmed at times. I know that I should keep positive and move forward ... yes, I know that ... but that doesn't mean it's easy. So yesterday I guess I just gave myself a break to mope around a bit. I've been out of touch with most of my friends - just don't want to talk about anything or answer any questions ...

Today, however, I kinda tried to get back into a normal routine. I woke up early and sat at my desk instead of in front of the TV. I managed to do a bit of work, but mainly surfed the web and caught up on a few emails.

I still have to take it easy. I'm amazed at how easily I get tired. I mean, that little outing to the doctor's office on Tuesday (followed by some friends coming over later that day) absolutely exhausted me. I even find doing little chores around the house totally wipe me out ... I guess this is why the doctor said I'll need another 10 days before I'm back on my feet.

I can't wait to be able to drive again and get out of the house - even if it's to sit outdoors for a few hours. I feel like I'm missing some really good weather ... maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Health Update

I left the house today after five whole days of being indoors - talk about cabin fever! It was such a relief to get out of the house, even if it was just to go to the doctor's office.

My stitches came out today. I had no idea what to expect in terms of how it feels to get stitches removed - it wasn't painful. Kinda just like a scratch. She said the wound is healing nicely, but I've got to wait another week to ten days before I can move about more and things like going up and down the stairs will become easier. In about five days I should be able to get back into somewhat of a regular routine -- to do household chores she said, like ironing, cooking, and cleaning ... geez, why do those things have to be the first things I'm allowed to do? Who wants to recover from surgery just to iron clothes and dust countertops? ;)

I've got some muscle bruising which she said is to be expected. It's such a pain (literally) because it makes simple movements like getting in and out of bed/a chair etc. difficult. Still, I do feel stronger each day thank goodness. It's just about being patient.

In terms of food I need to stick to a high fiber diet and she stressed (a number of times - does she not believe I'll listen to her advice?) that this was not the time to count calories or restrict calorie intake because I need the nutrients to heal and regain strength. She told me that the abdominal distention should subside within ten to fourteen days. I can't wait for that to happen. I feel like a freaking whale!

It's deceiving how much time and energy it takes to actually heal ... I thought the short trip to and from the doctor's would be fine. Although it was definitely easier to climb up and down the stairs as compared to last Wednesday when I got home from the hospital, the whole trip did leave me a bit winded and tired (the potholes and bumps in the road did not help at all!) ... so I am getting stronger each day, but I still have a ways to go.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fired up for Fall - Week 8

Week 8 already?! Where has the time gone? I feel like I've definitely hit a brick wall in terms of weight loss. I'm hardly moving and I'm totally bloated from the surgery. Although I don't feel like I've eaten much over the past few days, I also haven't lost any weight. I don't seem to have struck a balance just yet. I spent most of this past week on the couch - thankfully not eating my way to oblivion - but really just vegging and watching Grey's Anatomy. It sounds fun, but when you're not comfortable in any position, vegging in front of the TV sucks.

Part I: Positive Picture
Something I definitely need to keep in mind ...


What have you done this week to achieve your goals?
Not much -- I'm trying to watch what I'm eating and focus on regaining strength. Lately it seems like all my energy is focused on just getting through the day without dwelling on the challenges that lie ahead ... I can't face those challenges if I don't get through this stage, right? So this week it's just about taking time for me. Maybe next week I'll be able to move forward a bit more.

What have you done this week to feel fabulous?
Ummm ... nothing really done on this front as I haven't left the house in five days! However, the bouquets of flowers from friends do add a bit of fabulosity to the apartment ;)

How important is a social life to you? Are you a loner or a butterfly or somewhere in between?
Having a social life is really important to me. I love hanging out with my friends and making new friends. I think I'm more of a social butterfly though I do have times when I like to be completely alone ... There was a point in time when I felt like I couldn't breathe unless I was with other people - always had to be surrounded by others and doing something ... but now I'm happy to say that I don't have a problem being on my own. Social pressures can add up, but now I'm much more confident and I don't need to be surrounded by people to validate me.

How do you balance life outside your home with healthy living?
One of the most important things has been to have a supportive network around you - and that includes friends who understand that I'm watching what I'm eat - even if they do not always follow a diet. I've been quite lucky that the people I mainly hang out with are health conscious or at least very understanding when I say that I don't want to eat something or go to a particular restaurant because it doesn't have healthy options. It's not always easy, but it does get easier, and it's definitely not impossible. It just takes discipline on your part and understanding on the part of friends.

What do you like to do for fun?
I think I'm pretty adventurous. In Kuwait I definitely find that my options are a bit limited, but I love hanging out with friends, movies, and shopping (of course!!).
In general I love to travel and when I'm abroad I'll take the opportunity to try things that I can't (always easily) do in Kuwait - like skiing, ATV'ing, etc.
Above all, I won't give up any opportunity to put on my dancing shoes :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Eat healthy foods. Exercise.

Any effective weight loss or diet program really comes down to these basic principles.

There are some people who can simply exercise and eat whatever they want - yes, that includes hamburgers, sodas, and chocolate ... but they still lose weight, and there are others who just need to cut back on their calories and they'll drop pounds without even thinking of hitting the gym.

I don't fall into either category.

If I want to lose weight, I have to exercise and I have to watch what I eat ... and it's not just what I eat, but I have to watch the portions too.

So, now that I've been banned from the gym for another two weeks (well, five weeks before any vigorous/intense workouts and weight lifting) and my movements have been limited, I really have to watch what I eat so that I make sure this five-week break doesn't equal a fifteen pound gain in weight!

To do this, I'm starting with the numbers.

The basics:

Ideal weight
I visited this website to establish a frame of reference for how much I should weigh and what my BMI should be. I pretty much knew these numbers before but I just felt like I needed another reminder. I think some height:weight calculators can be unreasonably low, but as I said, this is just a frame of reference for me to use to get to where I want to be.

I've been reading Jillian Michaels' book: Winning By Losing, and I followed the formulas she has presented to calculate calorie burn etc.

Losing weight
Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) -- the number of calories your body burns without any additional activity
Females: 655+(4.3 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years)
Males: 66 + (6.3 x body weight in lbs.) + 12.9 x height in inches) - (6.8 x age in years)

I've had to recalculate my daily activity level. Before I did moderate activity - going to work + gym ... but now I'm basically confined to the house, and even then mainly to the couch! So I'm down to a sedentary lifestyle (score 1.1) [light physical activity score 1.2; moderate activity level score 1.3; high physical level score 1.4 -- note that this is your normal daily level and it does not include workouts at the gym - just how much you move on a daily basis because of work, running errands, taking care of family etc.]

Then I used the following chart to get an idea of how many calories I burn during exercise (the most accurate number would be from a heart-rate monitor - not the number that the exercise machine gives, but an actual, personal heart-rate monitor).


BMR x Daily Activity Score + Exercise Expenditure = Active Metabolic Rate

Breaking it down

Losing 1 lb/week = creating a deficit of 3,500 calories per week (500 calories daily)

After calculating your Active Metabolic Rate, figure out how much you'd like to lose per week (2 lbs/week is considered a healthy amount of weight to lose per week) and then you can divide it up for your calorie allowance per day.

I know that the bottom line is - eat less, move more ... but I think it does help to keep the numbers in mind, and this is especially true in my case at the moment when I'm barely moving. We'll see how it works. I've got the numbers down - now I'm got to implement a realistic, sustainable plan.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's Only Pain

KD had come to visit me in the hospital and I got a chance to vent my fears and frustrations to her. Going from great cardio and weight lifting sessions to barely being able to get out of bed without help is so demoralizing ... it's tough to be patient, but I really have no choice.

While KD and I were talking all of a sudden I felt my throat clamp up and I knew what was coming - a cough. Something that I was totally dreading - you have no idea how much pain a cough can cause when you've got abdominal stitches.

I started to panic, but she sat me down, had me firmly hold a pillow against my abdomen and said - It's only pain.

It's only pain.

Such a simple statement, but something that was important for me to hear in order to refocus and remember that this is all temporary.

So I quickly coughed a few times and felt an excruciating amount of pain, but after 10 seconds it was over.

Finding the mental strength and determination to keep moving forward is tough. Especially to keep it up on a daily basis, all the time ... it's obviously something that I've posted a lot about in my blog, but determination truly is such an important cornerstone to making progress ... and keeping things in perspective is the key to moving forward.

So, I may need a bit of help moving around over the next few days, and it may hurt like hell to cough, but it's only pain. It's temporary. I still have control over the bigger picture -- what happens over the next two weeks matters, but it's not everything. I just have to keep trying to move forward and not be overwhelmed by setbacks.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hospital Food

The day after my surgery I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything at all - not even water. It was tough. I was so dehydrated, but with all the handling of my intestines etc. they said it was all in a very fragile state, so nothing.

On Monday I was allowed only a few sips of water, a bit of juice, and some clear broth soup.

On Tuesday they said I could eat soft foods ... when they brought in my tray I was absolutely shocked at what I saw they had served me for breakfast --

A HUGE croissant, two slices of bread, cream cheese, an assortment of jams, apple juice, and some tea.

I hadn't seen that many carbs in front of me for ages. I had to double check with them to make sure they got my food right ... and they said yes - it's all soft.

I managed to have a quarter of the croissant with a bit of cream cheese, and I sipped on the apple juice over a few hours.

Lunch was a cup of boiled rice, three cups of different boiled vegetables in light tomato sauce or something like that, a cup of vegetable soup, yogurt, cocktail juice, another very large bun of bread, butter, and a small piece of cake.

Again, I only managed a few spoons of rice, soup, and maybe 3-4 pieces of carrot.

Dinner - pasta?! More veggies, more bread, more of all of the above ...

I was really shocked at the amount of food they were giving me. There was no way I could eat even a fraction of the food they were serving ... but I was told that I needed to make sure I ate properly in order to help the healing process. My body needs nutrients and energy to heal properly/quickly ... it's still been a bit of a struggle though. I don't have much appetite, although I have to say that the hospital food was prepared really well.

Although they were serving a lot of food, I could tell that it was low fat - no oil, nothing fried, all the veggies were just cooked in tomato sauce ... simple, but as I said, well prepared.

Breakfast Wednesday morning:

A chocolate cream filled donut? Strawberry milk, eggs, salami - and the picture doesn't even show the big bun of bread and cream cheese to the side ... Again, didn't eat even half of it, but tried to eat a bit more. The nutritionist came in to see me and talk a bit about the food - she reminded me of the importance of eating properly and having a well-balanced meal. That means that everything is important - protein, carbs, fiber, and fat -- you've just got to watch the proportions. She told me not to be afraid to eat, but just to be sensible. It's going to be a challenge over the next few weeks with limited mobility.

Seeing the donut on my breakfast tray does not mean that it's ok to have a donut every morning for breakfast - but it does mean that as long as everything else is kept in proper proportion (seriously proper proportion) that having a donut once or twice a month is not going to hurt.

I totally understood what she was saying about being sensible and careful. You've still got to use common sense and realize what's good for you and what's unhealthy. A chocolate donut and strawberry milk are never going to compare in nutritional value as a poached egg and some apple juice!

It was a good nutritional note to leave on ... it's always about balance.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fired up for Fall - Week 7

I had intended to have this post lined up to be published this past Monday, but things got hectic as I was preparing for my surgery, so this is a bit late ...

I guess I'm going to have to reevaluate my goals and strategies for reaching them since I'm dealing with recovery at the moment -- let's see how it goes.

Part I: Positive Picture

Finding a positive picture for this week has proven to be quite tough. I mean there are lots of positive pictures and words out there, but I had a tough time finding something that spoke to me - a picture that showed positivity yet didn't undermine the fact that I'm not in the most positive frame of mind at the moment.

In the end, all I can hear is my mom's voice - whenever I've stumbled, felt down, or just felt totally defeated or heartbroken, I always remember my mom soothing and consoling me saying ...

Sometimes the words are frustrating to hear ... I remember when I was younger thinking - Ok so it'll pass, but what about NOW?! -- Still, these words are also true. Whatever happens, there's always another moment. Each day I get a bit stronger physically ... maybe this is just the way it's going to be for the next few weeks ... and then I'll be able to tackle the mental hurdles - regardless, it will pass and then it'll be on to the next step.


What have you done this week to work towards your goals?
PhD - Before going in for surgery I finally submitted the next 3 chapters of my thesis for my supervisor to review. I had been working on those chapters for AGES - it felt really good to send them off. I hope he has positive comments. I have almost two full months to completely get it done.

Gym - Well, I know that I went as often as I could ... unfortunately there will be no more gym for the rest of this challenge ... so I'm going to focus more on the nutritional aspect of losing weight and see how much controlling only food (with barely any movement) has an impact on my progress.

NROL4W - Not happening ... I'm not allowed to do serious weights for another 5-6 weeks ... so this goal will have to be put on hold.

Weight loss - It's strange. Even though I've hardly eaten over the past four days, I feel quite bloated and heavy. I think it's partly the lack of movement and partly the bloating post-op plus from the IV fluids. We'll see how it goes. I think I've lost a total of 6 pounds since the start of the challenge - so only 4 pounds left to hit my goal ... just might be able to accomplish this one!

New recipes - Since I've got some time at home, perhaps I'll get a chance to experiment a bit? My enthusiasm for food has kind of waned, but we'll see if that improves over the next few weeks.

Home office - This is practically done. There are a few boxes that I need to sort through, but I'll try to tackle them over the next few weeks.

What have you done to make yourself feel fabulous?
It's hard to feel fabulous when you're in pain! However, this morning I finally had a good, long shower and properly fixed (straightened) my hair - small, but definitely fabulous after being confined in a hospital room for four days!

How do you pull yourself out a slump or prevent yourself from falling into one?
This question is rather appropriate at the moment, isn't it?

It used to be really tough for me to pull me out of a slump. I'd just wallow in self-pity/doubt -- it took a while for me to actually realize and accept that that type of attitude wasn't getting me anywhere.

I think over the past two years I've become much more positive. A large part of it is pure determination, though a fraction of it is also stubbornness. It also has to do with being realistic and also allowing yourself time to grieve/be sad/be complacent ... but only for a short time. I don't think it's realistic to be positive all of the time. The key is not to let it get the best of you.

At this very moment, if I'm perfectly honest, I'm not feeling very positive (or hopeful) - but I will keep moving forward, as standing still in this moment will do nothing good for me. This is not the place I want to be stuck at. For me, what I'm going through is real and it's tough - and I think part of being able to move forward and regain that positive outlook has to do with allowing yourself some time to feel angry and sad - but then move on. If the place you're in right now is not a good one and not making you happy, then there's no sense in keeping yourself stuck there.

Are you naturally positive or do you have to work at it? How do you keep yourself positive?
I guess I answered most of this question above. Again, take the time to acknowledge your feelings and express them ... and then move on. In the end, it's all up to you to feel good.

If you could go away anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?

Without a doubt or any hesitation Italy. I've been wanting to go for years - even learned Italian so that I'd be ready whenever the opportunity arose. For some reason, however, I still haven't made it there. I've been to so many countries, but still not Italy. I think part of it is because I want to really spend time there - not just one or two weeks - more like two or three months and really feel like I've lived there and soaked it all up ... I'm sure one day soon ...

The good, the bad, and the next step

The Good

I'm home. I'm fine.
I can walk around, though I get tired easily and shifting positions - sitting to standing, getting up from bed - is still challenging. The right side of my abdomen is still quite sore so sleeping isn't quite comfortable, but overall, I'm definitely getting a little bit stronger each day. I've just got to be patient and resist doing too much at once.

The Bad

The surgery did not go as planned.
They told me that they opened me up - saw that multiple adhesions had formed from my previous surgery, and after a total of five surgeons worked on me and consulted with each other for just over two hours, they decided they would be doing more harm than good ... they closed me up and that was it.

Apparently a lot of scar tissue (adhesions) had formed between and around my organs after the surgery in 2008. This had fused my uterus and intestines together. They removed as many adhesions as they could, but it was not possible to remove all of them without risking major internal damage. It seems like the adhesions were so bad that the surgeons could not even get to my uterus.

What does this all mean?

They couldn't do the hysterectomy.
They couldn't even do a myomectomy.
They couldn't even remove the largest fibroid (6.5 cm) let alone the other smaller ones (just removed one 2 cm one).

As a result, my doctor recommends no surgery - ever again.

So nothing has changed. Nothing will change. I will have to continue dealing with the pain, discomfort, enlarged uterus, bloating, and so forth until we find another solution. At the moment, there doesn't seem to be an easy or effective one in front of us ...

The Next Step


Right now all I'm focusing on is healing.

It has been absolutely exhausting talking about everything that has gone on. Everyone is saying - we'll see what happens; stay positive; some solution will come up for sure.

Of course I nod my head in agreement, when all I really want to do is scream and punch something.

Mentally. I'm totally fucked up.

There's really no other way to put it. I cannot explain the unbelievable amount of depression and hurt I am feeling inside. It is really hard to push past the implications of this ... and really hard for me not to think - Shit. I went through this surgery and am out of the gym for 6 weeks to heal for nothing. NOTHING. They told me once I had this surgery I could train like an athlete and finally physically see the results of all the hours and hard work I put in at the gym. Now, still enlarged and bloated - how fabulous.

I know they couldn't have understood the extent of my situation without having opened me up, but frankly that doesn't mean much to me as I'm sitting here at my desk, half leaning over because there is no comfortable position for me to properly sit in.

It was such a big step to take to begin with ... and the one thing that really pushed me forward was the thought of having NO PAIN after the surgery. It would all be over. I would feel normal. To have that completely yanked away from me - I can't even begin to explain what that feels like.

Honestly, when other people talk and make suggestions, most of me just zones out. I appreciate that they all mean well, but I think it's going to take a lot of time to get over this. I just feel completely empty.

Still - I'm here. The only thing I'm focusing on now is healing physically. I will not rush. I will do what I can. I will be vigilant about what I eat, and I will be back in that gym as soon as possible. I don't have the capacity to think about anything else or deal with anything else. I don't feel optimistic or pessimistic, hopeful or hopeless anymore - I just feel numb.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Healing at Home

I'm home.

I'm doing ok - tired, sore, still in pain - but so much better than Sunday.

Trip back from the hospital and up the two flights of stairs was exhausting ... But it's so good to be back.

Proper update tomorrow.

Hope everyone's been healthy. Hope to catch up on commenting over the next few days.