Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lindsey, Livers, and Living

I've been thinking a lot about Lindsey lately. May 21st will mark one year since she left us, but her presence still looms large in my mind. Her blog showcased her clear and unique voice. I miss her posting about life as a liver

I still can’t read Lindsey’s blog without crying. I didn’t know her, had never met her, and only knew that like me, she had an incurable cancer. And she was so young! Much younger than me. Twenty-six and just finishing grad school. She was vibrant and full of life. Looking at the picture on her blog, you could almost see the possibilities stretched out before her. She was newly diagnosed and knew that the journey before her was challenging, but she didn’t act like cancer was her salvation or her mission or her ruin. She viewed cancer as one aspect of her daily life, and she called herself a liver.

Lindsey had metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. Metastatic. It’s such an ominous word, and it’s as bad as it sounds, maybe worse. Metastatic means the cancer has spread beyond its site of origin. Metastatic means you are in no way curable. You won’t be a cancer survivor. You will never be cancer free. You won’t beat this thing. You just have to learn to live with it.

Lindsey had metastases in her liver. With neuroendocrine cancer it’s never just one tumor in the liver. And invariably, one of the tumors is located near an important blood vessel, making surgical removal tricky at best, dangerous at worst. Once you have tumors in your liver, that’s it.

So how do you live with a ticking time bomb in your liver? How do you go about your daily life? That question is probably unanswerable. Ask fifty people, get fifty different answers. If you were like Lindsey, you lived your life with the sense that you still had plenty of it left. And not in a “positive attitude will get you everywhere” sort of way. A practical, no-nonsense, go about your daily life with all its ups and downs sort of way. She wrote about her frustration when things were challenging. She wrote about her future and saw herself in it. She celebrated her messes and her successes.

I first came across Lindsey’s blog when I was crowdfunding to pay for experimental treatment in Europe. She was doing the same, and her blog was different and real and allowed me to feel by proxy. Feeling by proxy. I couldn’t feel emotion about my own condition, but I could look at Lindsey and be moved by hers. We both had all the same treatments. We both had major surgery that palliated our cancer...for a while. We both travelled to Europe for experimental radiation treatment that shrunk our tumors...for a while. We both used a cocktail of off-label oral chemotherapy that worked...until it didn’t. We both tried not to let the disease define us.

The first picture I remember of Lindsey she looks so sunny and young. She’s smiling and she looks intelligent and poised and happy. Happy. The last picture I saw of her was taken a few days before she died. She still looked happy. She was in a wheelchair in her wedding dress, with swollen ankles and sunken eyes but still had her sunny smile. She’s surrounded by friends and family on her wedding day. Something in me broke when I saw that picture. Did I see myself in Lindsey like I always had? Was I getting a glimpse of one more thing we would have in common? That picture doesn’t allow me to hide in denial. And it makes me cry every time. I cry for Lindsey, and for everything we’ll never get to be. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yes, I did day 3 of 30 days of Yoga

On Wednesday I did the 60 minute stability program that I did on Sunday. It went well, and it's nice to see progress so quickly. I initially started off with a Flow sequence, but I was having trouble keeping up with it just five minutes in, so I decided to set myself up for success by repeating the same video I already knew. I'm smart like that. I took today off (today should have been day 4) because I seemed to tweak my shoulder a bit yesterday maybe doing too many planks improperly, or maybe doing the yoga in a pretty cold room. Either way, it seemed prudent to slow down a bit so that I could actually do 30 days of yoga and not injure myself in the first 5 days. Again, I'm smart like that. Tomorrow my plan is to repeat the 30 minute short flow series that I did on day 2. I had to go buy some yoga blocks today because I don't have any and we used them at the studio and they definitely make some poses easier. Okay, that's the update, mostly for myself and not for you because damn it must be boring to read about my yoga.

Songs that Got Me Through 2014...

If you know me, you know that I have pretty bad taste in music. Or more accurately, no taste in music. I don't really listen to anything new, like ever. My standard fare is Steely Dan, America, or pretty much any 70s soft rock. 

This year, I somehow branched out a little tiny bit. I guess the other thing you need to know about me is when I discover a new song that I like, I play that song and nothing else, repeatedly. For weeks. And weeks. It's a strange phenomenon. Also to note is that I don't listen to music all that much anyhow. I can't listen to it while I read or write because my brain can't do two things at once. And when I'm in the car I am listening to Howard Stern on Sirius.

All that being said, here are the two songs that I love love LOVED this year. I'm not even saying they're from this year. I just discovered that they existed this year.

The Last Ride is a bonus song from this year. Try not to love it.

Enjoy the ear worms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 2 of 30 days of Yoga

Well, I really intended to make the 30 days be IN A ROW. But sadly, I way overdid it on day 1, so I was pretty sore and tired on Day 2. Plus I had class and that threw my whole schedule off. So today was Day 2, even though it should have been Day 3.

I was pressed for time, and so I picked one of the shorter videos on the Verge On Demand menu. Oooooof. I chose "Verge Simple Flow with Cara" because it was only 38 minutes. It was my first attempt at Flow yoga, and I guess I did okay. I also learned some new positions such as lizard and half pigeon, which were uncomfortable and lovely in the way that only yoga positions can be.

I was sore and sweaty, but a hot shower and some Advil took care of that. And at least I did it! Woohoo!!
Yup, hurts so good!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

30 days of yoga

Day 1

Well now that the semester is winding down, I have time to do things other than write papers. And I really need to get back into some sort of shape. My muscles are all jellified from all the milkshakes I've been getting at Shake Shack!

Basically, I'm too out of shape to even try to do yoga in front of other people at this point. No wait, I don't really care about them, but I don't feel like seeing myself in the mirrors at Verge. So I'm doing their yoga on demand for 30 days. Guys, I love Verge and I love their on demand videos available through vimeo.

Today I did "Verge Stability" with Cara. It was a good starting point for me, as it focused a lot on legs and breezed through the core stuff. Not too many planks. However, my legs are traditionally pretty solid, and this video shows me just how far I've fallen. I was so wobbly and sore. Somebody's gonna sleep good tonight.

My point in posting here is some sort of accountability, but I also hope to track my progress. And also, I can't emphasize enough how great the on demand is from Verge. I highly recommend it!

Check it out here!