All the sweetness! All the Juiciness! All the AMAZINGNESS! Summer fruits are the best fruits. Sorry Winter – you got all the starchy veggies that I also love. Right now, it’s when summer SHINES! Of course, I also live in Arizona where it is hitting those HOLY CRAP HOT temperatures – so I’m eating all this amazing stuff from air conditioning …. #nocares
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This is my story of treating some actinic keratosis on my bottom lip in the fall of 2018. I’ve had several “pre-cancerous” or “suspicious lesions” froze off and even have a 2″ scar on my abdomen of the pencil eraser sized spot they had to remove, and then come back to cut more out when the margins weren’t enough. So I am not stronger to skin cancer scares. This treatment was different. Longer and a little more painful. Use sunscreen people. Every damn day.
Growing up in the sunshine state of Arizona, as a redhead with naturally fair skin, skin cancer seems inevitable. It’s not a matter of “if”, more like “when”. Every trip to my dermatologist (6 month intervals) has him cutting or freezing something off. This last trip, I asked him about my lips – specifically my bottom lip. For the last 4-5 months it has been in a constant state of chapped; dry and cracking, bleed than peel. In that order, just cycling through. I’ve tried all sorts of lip balms, mask, coconut oil, and it still cycles through.
Actinic Ketosis – pre-cancerous lesions – and he pulled out his little silver can and froze a spot. “That should take care of it, but if it starts to flake again we’ll want to treat it with Efudex cream. Maybe in October because it makes for a gorey Halloween costume”. Sounds fun. So of course when the flaking came back, I did some research on the old internet and completely panicked. This is nasty. But here I am. I was prescribed fluorouracil 5%, directions to apply a thin layer to my bottom lip every night for 7 days. And then stop.
Here’s what I didn’t know when I started – fluorouracil builds up, so each application adds a little more. Don’t expect a reaction right away, or even after a few treatments. I was expecting a big reaction – swelling, skin peeling off, Bloody oozey lips after the first two treatments. By the 5th treatment, I still didn’t have much of a reaction. My lips were a little red, and maybe slightly swollen – they felt like I had a bit of a sunburn. Nothing I couldn’t live through. Then day 6 had me a little worried. Day 7 it was hard to talk, my lips were starting to sting all the time, and were red and swollen. Day 8 – I didn’t have to apply the medication which was a relief because I couldn’t go more than 2 hours without applying some sort of lip moisturizer. By day 9, the oozing began.
Fluorouracil works by preventing abnormal cells from dividing, when cells can’t divide they die. As the medication builds up in the cells, they can longer live, and start to slowly die off. This causes the initial inflammation and then the death of tissue. This is what I refer to as the nasty oozing stage – the precancerous stuff is dying, and that’s the reaction. It hurts. Sleeping is impossible for longer than 2 hours, because the Vaseline is absorbed and the lips become dry and start burning again.
Day 10 and 11 the dead tissue has started to peel away, because I’ve kept the area moisturized, it’s less like flaking skin and more like ooze. And when I speak, the dead ooze sticks to the upper lip and pulls off. This is not a pleasant sensation. If the tissue starts to dry out, it gets crusty (not unlike a scab) and is beginning to crack and bleed a little. These are good signs, I’m laying down fresh healthy tissue under this mess. I’ve gotten subs for my classes the last three days, because talking is painful. If I didn’t sweat and talk while I worked, I’d probably be able to work through this stage. The other positive here is that no one seems to really notice the yellow crust that is my bottom lip. Or if they do notice, no one has said anything or even stared at it.
Chances are I will have to use efflux again, probably not on my lip, but on another area. I have had other pre cancerous lesions burned off, and even cut out. In the meantime, I’ve complied a list of things I found helpful during my experience. I’d also like to point out, that for my first time, I probably got off lucky. I have heard stories of people who have undergone the same treatment, but more aggressively; applying the cream multiple times a day for many more days than I did. And in other body area – the entire face, the neck and chest, back of hands… I can just imagine how uncomfortable a bigger treatment area would be!
Wear sunscreen every day. And make sure your lip balm has sunscreen. Wear sunglasses with polarized lenses. Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your ears and back of head. Wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy. Avoid direct sun exposure when possible, and make sure you wear sun protective clothing when you are outside. And if you really need a tan, the science has come a long way with self tanners – its safer.
Advil – pain management and anti-inflammatory
Cold compress – either ice packs, or even wet frozen paper towels, feel amazing and takes some on the sting out of the burning sensation and helps the inflammation a bit.
Aquaphor and Vaseline – I found it worked best when I alternated the two. But applied every 2 hours, or more frequently if you are eating and talking. Basically, never let the area become dry. Dry equals pain.
Drinking straws – the less stuff touches your lips the better. Even food should be cut into bite sized pieces for consumption.
Face Mask (for sleeping at night) – yes, the SARS kind. During the treatment phase, this keeps the medicine on your lips and off your pillow cases. And during the oozing phase, it contains the ooze and keeps it off your pillow cases. Also, the mask prevents the Vaseline/Aquaphor from drying so quickly (more time trying the sleep)
Before I even start on this thread – WARNING: I am about to discuss intimate details about my body and its functions! Turn away if your sensibilities are easily offended or you would rather not talk about incontinence. It’s okay, I get it. We’re not supposed to take about it. It’s “private” – which is why we don’t realize that it HAPPENS TO EVERYONE! And if it hasn’t happened to you, lucky you. Talk to me after your given birth or lived past 35. Continue reading Box Jumps Make Me Pee, and how I fixed that…. kinda
As a fairly new yoga teacher, one of my worst teaching nightmare actually came true last week. New teachers usually do not have a lot of classes, so they tend to sub for more experienced teachers when they have an opportunity. This can be opportunities for amazing learning experiences, as many of these classes are pretty full with experienced yogis and as a new teacher, this may give us an opportunity to teach a style we don’t normally teach; stepping out of our comfort zone.
Early last week, I subbed for a teacher I have personally taken and absolutely love, and her class hated me. They didn’t say they hated me, but the vibe was there. I wasn’t going fast enough, I wasn’t Continue reading Yoga Teacher – Subbing Nightmare
What should I expect if I hire a health coach?
You made the commitment and hired a health coach. What happens now? I’ve tried to provide you with a brief description of what the experience is like based on my personal experience or how its been described to me by health coaches and others who have used the services of a heath coach and were satisfied with those services. Continue reading Health Coaching: what to expect after you’ve hired one
The newest trend in the health and fitness industry is the rise of the Health Coach. I bet you know at least one person who is currently a health coach. Personally, I have my own health coach and I know several people who are health coaches. But before you shell out upwards of $100 a month, lets take a closer look at the title, the profession and some things to expect. Continue reading What You Should Know Before Hiring a Health Coach
We are trained to be so focused on what the scale says, and rating our weight loss efforts accordingly, that sometimes seeing the small victories, entrenched in our actual levels of health and fitness, become more and more difficult. While I agree, weighing ourselves is the easiest solution to tracking weight, maintaining records of our body measurements, fat and body mass percentages, progress photos (I know I hate them too), personal fitness bests, and yes, how our clothes fit day to day, remind us that the scale is not the be all end all.
Two years ago, I weighed about 150 pounds (I tend to fluctuate between 180 and 160, so 150 was super exciting); I had just trained and ran my first half marathon, so I was doing a lot of cardio, my nutrition was on point, and I looked good. I bought a pair of Paige denim jeans that were a size 29. Holy crap, the last time I was in a size 29 jean I was 29. Super exciting.
Then, 3 months later, I herniated my disc, and then herniated it again. Even though I kept my nutrition in check, and staying as active as I possibly could between surgeries and recoveries, my weight crept back up and I no longer could squeeze myself into those jeans. Until this weekend.
I am not training for a half marathon, I do yoga (a lot) and I spin about once a week, occasionally I take a muscle conditioning class. I am not nearly as active as I was that amazing summer, exactly two years ago. I am also only 8 months since my last surgery, so theoretically I am still in a recovery/rebuilding period. I also do not weigh 150 pounds. I weigh 160 pounds. I am ten pounds above my “goal” weight, and yet, this weekend, I fit into those jeans. Without an issue. No “muffin top”. I didn’t have to lay down on the floor to zip them up.
Anyone who diets can tell you that last 10 pounds is hard. It seems like a lot. And here I am, 10 pounds shy of my goal weight and the jeans fit. I don’t look much different between then and now. However, my fitness life, and therefore my nutrition needs, between the two are dramatically different. I consume a little more protein (more strength training means more muscle synthesis, so protein helps that more efficiently), and a little less carbs (more endurance cardio means your body needs more carbs to fuel those long runs), but my overall calories have remained pretty steady.
The point of this post is to show everyone three main points:
- The number on the scale is not the be all end all. While it has a place in your fitness and wellness journey, it is only a sentence in the book.
- The type of work out or diet you follow is irrelevant, as long as you stay active and properly provide your body the nutrition it requires to do those activities. No carb/low carb/low fat/atkins/paleo/gluten free – find nutrition that easily fits into your life and properly fuels your body. Something you can manage day in and day out without feeling deprived or bored or punished. Apply that same principle to your activity: find something you can do over and over and over again, that you look forward to doing, that you miss when you don’t do it, and find friends to do that with you. Do lots of things. All the things.
- Consistency is the key. Over the course of two years, I had two back surgeries, both sidelining my activities, but I stayed consistent in my nutrition goals (amending them to reflect the decrease in activity, but still fueling it so it could heal appropriately – if you struggle with this hire a coach, I know a few good ones) and as I slowly returned to my active lifestyle (with necessary changes in activities) I adjusted my nutrition accordingly. Today I am active on most days. I don’t do alot of cardio.
Celebrate your small victories, and keep focused on the bigger picture. Take your set backs as an opportunity for change and exploration of your own happiness. Embrace the challenges.
And eat your veggies.
Anyone who has been following my blog may already know that I suffered a herniated disc in my lower lumbar spine, specifically my L4/L5. After trying physical therapy and steroid injections I opted for surgery. Surgery was successful and I was pain free and pretty much back to normal. 6 months later, I re-hernitated the same disc, bigger this time and just went right in for surgery. My recovery wasn’t the same as the first time. And this is what I’d like to discuss.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, and I recently read a little snippet that really hit home for me, mostly because I know excuses are easy to come by. Basically this little tidbit of wisdom was this:
“Before you make an excuse, try phrasing it with “this is not a priority for me”; just see how that feels for you”
The person who proposed this idea went on to explain how when you are making an excuse to not work out, you are actually saying that working out is not a priority for you. It eliminates the rationalization factor; by saying “I don’t have time to go to the gym today” you are really saying “going to the gym is not a priority for me today”, if you honestly don’t have time for 30 minutes of a treadmill, or a few sun salutations or even 15 minutes of squats, lunges and planks, then saying that is not a priority shouldn’t be too hard to state. Continue reading Priorities