Posts Tagged ‘Brain surgery’

5 K Medal

5 K Medal

 

2 Day Challenge Prize

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year on Memorial Day Weekend I was in the Neuro-ICU recovering from brain cancer surgery. 1 year later, I finished the Med-City Half-Marathon  in 2:52 and the 5-K, the 2 Day Challenge, to celebrate 1 year as a cancer survivor. I like to thank all those people who made this finish possible.
In the past couple of months I have been busy, so busy that I have not made time for posts on this blog. My original plans were to finish the Med-City Marathon but in April I decided to switch to the half-marathon. This was a good decision, because I finished strong, enjoyed the perfect day, and was able to walk after the race.  I wore brain tumor awareness shirts for both events and dressed in gray for both events for brain tumor awareness. My training included weekly long “runs” with the longest duration of training 3 hours and the longest distance of straight run/walk a 15K.
Of course, the respiratory bug that I had in April did not help my run training or the Minnesota Masters Swimming Short Course State Meet. I went to this meet the day after I became sick and basically showed up to the meet. I tried to swam as fast as

13.1 Medal

13.1 Medal

I was able even with less than 5 minutes of rest between some events. The only reason I walked home with medals was I was either the only swimmer or there were only 1-2 other swimmers that were better than me.
Now with my first triathlon of 2014 less than 1 week away, I feel fitter, faster, stronger, and lighter than I have in recent years. In the race next weekend, I am going to leave nothing left at the finish.
There is another event less than 1 week away, my 1 year MRI. Yes, I am a little nervous, but who wouldn’t be. I am praying everything turns out fine. The truth is after a long year, I finally got my energy back, working longer shifts at work, and getting work done in my yard. Last weekend I went to my second annual Cancer Survivors Day event. I have been blessed, to meet all the cancer survivors I have met in this past year and by all that I have learned in the past year that has changed my views of cancer and life.
Citius, Altius, Fortius
~dmj

MP_stay fighting

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Christmas in Rochester, MN

Christmas in Rochester, MN

Happy Holidays,

I hope this post finds you well.  2013 was a tough year for me. The year brought both challenges and rewards. In March after having a CT for “spells” where I would not be able to use my legs and arms or blackout, I learned I had a brain tumor. After further imaging and surgery to remove the tumor on May 24, I learned that it was grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, a malignant brain tumor.  I spent much of my Summer at Mayo Clinic with 33 radiation treatments and adjunct oral chemo therapy.  That treatment is followed by oral chemotherapy 5 days each month x 6 months. I have completed 4 cycles so far and my MRI is stable.

I am still working at Golden Living Center-Rochester East skilled nursing facility in Rochester. During the beginning of the year I worked day shift but switched to nights in April because of a staffing shortage then stayed on nights after returning from surgery. Most of our residents are Mayo Clinic patients but we also care for several Olmsted Medical Center patients.  In addition to nursing, I am still an assistant coach for Med-City Aquatics. During the Fall, I coached mostly 10-13 year old swimmers and the adult masters group. I also earned extra cash as a soccer referee for youth, high school, and adult games. I also earned extra cash as a Mary Kay Skin Care Consultant and AdvoCare nutrition distributor. In addition to the above, I am still working on building my holistic wellness consulting business, Winning Wellness Solutions.

Even though my training was limited last year, I managed to participate in several events. Although about every event I participated in it rained. I finished in the lower middle third of the CrossFit Games Open. I raced a few 5K’s. My first triathlon saw cold 54 degree water temps and low 50’s air temps. I entered the water did about 50 yds and swam back to the shore. Half of my heat did not even start. The next day I participated in my first long-course meters swim meet which was held at the University of MN. During the summer, I walked a 5K as a relay in the RochesterFest Triathlon and walked a 1-mile race prior to the RochesterFest parade (and walked in the parade afterwards). The biggest highlight of my athletic pursuits in 2013 was competing in the USAT Sprint Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. This was only 9 days after my last radiation treatment.  I managed to finish the triathlon. In September, I started tennis lessons.  I officially became a weightlifter in October after competing in my first sanctioned Olympic weightlifting meet.

I am in the process of applying to graduate school to earn a PhD in nursing.  Also, I just recently joined the St. Marys Hospital Auxiliary to volunteer in hospitality. My athletic goals for 2014 include Med-City Marathon, Minnesota Cup weightlifting, CrossFit Open, Ironman 70.3 Muncie, IN, USAT National Championship, and in my dreams an Ironman Inspired Kona spot.  My main goal for 2014 is to stay healthy. Thanks to all those who helped me achieve my goals in 2013.

Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year,

~dmj

Below are images from 2013

FINISHED

FINISHED

I am wearing the red swim cap

Luther College Alumni Meet

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Thanks Coach!

Thanks Coach!

Up, down, and around

Up, down, and around

TRI-UMPH

TRI-UMPH

rochester fest

Mom and I

My incision CDI.

My incision CDI.

MN Open snatch

MN Open snatch

The bell rung

The Bell

Ready for treatment

Radiation therapy

LC Alumni Soccer game

LC Alumni Soccer game

Amen

Amen

I am wearing the red swim cap

Luther College Alumni Meet

Women's Session 2

Women’s Session 2

MN Open snatch

MN Open snatch

MN Open Clean and Jerk

MN Open Clean and Jerk

So October has had its ups and downs.  My athletic pursuits have included Luther College’s Alumni swim meet and The Minnesota Open Weightlifting Championships in which my performance was hampered by a bought of bronchitis and asthma exacerbation that need antibiotics. I also was on the last day of a 5 day oral chemotherapy course for the weightlifting meet and worked night shift the night before. I am happy,  I got a total on my lifts for my first weight lifting meet even though I missed 1 of my snatches and 1 clean & jerk.

I also went to the ER last week with a strange cluster of symptoms likely cause by a number of things working together. At the ER I learned my lymphocyte count was low which makes me a little worried especially when I work with sick people. My energy is low and I have been so busy that and little time I have I need to sleep or relax. My house chores are not getting done.

Today marks 5 months since my brain surgery. My incision has healed and my hair is starting to grow back. I just hope my tumor is not growing back. Although my last MRI showed a contrast enhanced area on the border of where my tumor was removed. My physicians are leaning towards scar tissue but are uncertain. Only time will tell if this is tumor growing back. If it is tumor, hopefully chemo will shrink it. I have my next MRI in about 1 month.

Today also marks the beginning of marathon training. The only way I can stay focused on exercising is if I have a goal.  My goal is to run the Med-City Marathon and 5K to mark the anniversary of my surgery and brain cancer diagnosis.  The Med-City Marathon weekend is Memorial Day Weekend the last weekend in May. May is also Brain Tumor Awareness Month. I am already planning to wear grey for the marathon and run the marathon to raise funds for brain tumor research.  Gotta  get my strength and endurance up to help find a treatment and a cure for this awful disease that is the leading cancer killer among youth under 20, the second leading cause of cancer deaths among males 20-39, and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among  females  20-39. These statistics are unreal since only about 25,000 people are diagnosed in the US each year with a malignant brain tumor and the majority of the people diagnosed are 40 and over.  Although the term brain cancer also includes some non-malignant tumors.  1 step closer to 26.2 and 1 step closer to a cure.

The WOD 10/24/13: CrossFit then 30minutes of 200yd run, 200yd walk

~ dmj

Thanks Coach!

Thanks Coach!

My USA Triathlon Sprint National Championship Experience

MY MOTIVATION

TRI-UMPH

TRI-UMPH

 

The day was Sunday August 11, 2013. Place Milwaukee, WI.  I had been waiting for this day since last Fall. I am a former elite triathlete and triathlon coach. This was supposed to be a race to be competitive and do well but the plans changed with my diagnosis of anaplastic astrocytoma and 7 hour brain surgery. Brain cancer was not going to stop me from neither starting nor finishing. In the back of my mind, I knew I was doing this for a cause, the American Brain Tumor Association and for those who cannot. It had been 11 weeks since my brain surgery and just over a week since my last oral chemo dose and radiation treatment. I had been unable to train much because of post-surgical restrictions, slowed recovery from chemotherapy, and fatigue from treatments. I reminded myself with a quote from President Obama at the Boston Marathon Memorial Service, “Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn’t know we had, and we carry on, we finish the race.”

PRE-RACE

Pre-race Reminder

Pre-race Reminder

My morning started with getting my race kit on, my chip on, my race number tattoos on and drinking my meal replacement shake mixed with coffee.  Off to the race, just a 15 minute drive from the hotel to the Milwaukee lakefront. I was one of the first in transition, but where is my chip. Oh, we cannot leave transition bags in transition. One minor problem, my chip was gone. I spent over 15 minutes getting a new chip and renumbered. Where was I going to put my fancy transition bag that I won at a Duathlon a few years ago if I did not connect with my Mom?

Well I met up with my Mother then gave her my bag. I put on my wetsuit on and she zipped it up. The national anthem played, but I still had over an hour before my wave would start. Next, I headed over to the swim start and stood by the railing overlooking the harbor. I talked about the race and triathlons with other racers. We watched wave after wave begin.

SWIM

Done with the swim

Done with the swim

Finally, my wave was called. I walked down to the dock with other triathletes in my age-aroup and crawled into the cold Lake Michigan water. We had about 10 minutes to warm-up. My second open water swim this year. My third time swimming since my surgery in May. We lined up next to the dock and the horn went off. I started slow, kept it steady, and concentrated on my form. While swimming, I got a little dizzy from turning the head to breathe but that was not going to stop me. The swim went under the bridge, around the buoy and back under the bridge to the swim exit which was a metal ramp with wooden rungs. There were catchers to assist. My time was 17 minutes for 750 meters swimming, which was when I crossed the timing mat so it included some extra running.

T1

Thoughts for T1

Thoughts for T1

I was so excited that I finished the swim I ran into transition put my bike gear on. My bike gear did not include my aero helmet as I wanted to make sure I had a secure helmet. Under my helmet was a sweat cap to protect my bald spot from radiation therapy and surgical scar from the sun and my helmet. Next I ran with my bike out of transition. Someone was ahead of me. I tried being nice and letting them go first but they were too slow. This is the ten seconds that cost my one place in the Athena under 40 division or maybe it was the ten seconds that I choose to put sunscreen on after the bike.

BIKE

Up, down, and around

Up, down, and around

The bike was relatively flat. I kept a high cadence and built the bike portion. Not taking it out too fast and finishing stronger during the last few miles. There was a small hill before the first turnaround and a ramp to a bridge that we went up and down one way and reversed on the way back. I was able to remain seated in the saddle on these hills thanks to my CrossFit workouts. My average mph was 16.7 over 12.4 miles.

T2

Motivation for T2

Motivation for T2

Came in on the bike to run transition and continued to run my bike into transition. I put my running shoes on casually and took off putting my hat and number belt on the run.

RUN TO THE FINISH

Keeping a slow but steady pace

Keeping a slow but steady pace

I ran the first mile without a walk break. During the second and third mile I took 1 minute fast walk for every 3 minutes of running. Racers were passing my left and right and some with names and USA on the back of their tri suit saying “good work” and ”keep it up”. I kept my own focus throughout the run.  Once I heard the finish I continued to run it came up so fast. When I got to the carpet I was filled with tears. I took off my TriRochester cap and pointed to the bald area on my head while I heard Karen Smyers say, “Dawn Johnson from Rochester Minnesota still top 10 in the Female Athena division” I had finished my first triathlon of the year and my first triathlon since my brain cancer diagnosis. To top it off, I was honored to have Chrissie Wellington hand me my finisher’s medal. Overall, my run was 37:01 for an 11:55 min/mile pace. Here is the link to the finish video http://www.marathon-photos.com/scripts/event.py?event=Sports/CPUK/2013/Age%20Group%20National%20Championships&match=4178&name=Dawn

POST FINISH

FINISHED

FINISHED

 

 

I stayed long enough to get some food and wait to get my bike out of transition. Since I had placed, I was upset that I could not stay for the awards ceremony.  I had to get back to Rochester, MN to work night shift at my nursing position. My plans are again to race and place again at the National Championship event next year. Maybe even earn a spot to Worlds. The sky is the limit.

~dmj

 

 

 

 

 

 

WOD Box jumps, jumping pull-ups

WOD= Box jumps, jumping pull-ups


Highlights
Pet bird Rio dies on July 4, 2013
Mowed lawn
Return to CrossFit
New birds Sochi and Ronaldo
Full post in the works

MP_do not give up

 

 

Today I made a call to get more pain medications since I only have 9 pills left, and I have this pain behind my left eye.  The reply I got was NO. My surgeon’s nurse stated, “our craniotomy patients never have this much pain from surgery.”  I told her I would make them last but then broke out into tears at the end of the call at the fear of being in pain. An hour had passed and I thought something must be wrong inside my head. So I called my surgeon’s secretary and asked to speak with the resident. He stated that the resident would call back. The nurse called back and told me that the team would recommend I go to the ER and get a CT scan. While at the ER, I get a CT scan and a CBC. I was later told the CBC was meaningless because my white cells would be elevated because of the Decadron (steroid) I took for cerebral edema but would be used as a baseline if I developed infection later. After my CT scan, I was told that I have areas of fluid pockets but this was normal after surgery. I got a different opinion on the pain medication from the neurosurgery resident that I talked to in the ER. He stated it is “normal” to have pain after a craniotomy this size. I left the ER, feeling like my pain was accepted and relieved to know that nothing serious was wrong. Also had a script for more oxy if I need it.  The resident also indicated that this could be a migraine type HA so I will try caffeine in the AM.

~dmj

 

So true

It is the Tuesday after Memorial Day, and I have to make calls for ST disability, reschedule my appointments, etc. The pain continues behind my eye, I can bear it during the day but at night I want to sleep. I think I got only four hours of broken sleep last night.

~dmj

My new T-shirt

 

Finally back home in my own bed – my “sleep number” bed.  I get this stabbing pain behind my left eye when lie down even though I have the HOB up at 30 degrees. Pain medicine is not doing a thing for it. Now when one of my patients asks for Oxycodone and states that their pain is only a little bit better, I will believe them. Instructions for activity state no lifting >10 lbs for 6 weeks, no exercise other that walking on a flat surface or stairs.

~dmj

 

My incision CDI.

My incision CDI.

Left arm. IV infiltration

Left arm. IV infiltration