by Debbie Rodrigues | Apr 17, 2015 | Brain Tumor, Challenge
When you have all the time in your hands but, for whatever the reason, there is only little you can do, you start to think through another perspective. Using a Holistic Health approach has been helping me.
Because of my brain tumor surgery, I had to change my pace. Here are the 7 things I have learned through slowing down.
Where I am now
My mom has always said I do not like things the easy way and she (as all mothers) is right.
Just sitting around doing nothing is something I cannot enjoy.
For me, the time has always been too precious to be wasted. I must be active, productive, or else I will get bored easily.
Note that doing “something” can go from working out to reading a book, but I need to be occupied somehow.
The trick about my revalidation is that until further notice, I can’t do much physical activity.
Being frank: I can pretty much sit and lay down, for now, that is all.
I haven’t dared to walk around the place for longer than the minimum necessary yet because it has already been tiring enough to me.
Watching TV or even writing a blog like this one is not a piece of cake either because my concentration span is still limited too.
So what then when you are a busy bee? What can you do?
So this week so far has been an incredible opportunity for me to take a step back and become more mindful of life around me.
Here are 7 things I have learned through slowing down my pace so far:
1. Develop Patience
Exactly how long my full revalidation will last is something I do not know yet. My first appointment with my surgeon will be on May 19th, 2015.
Only after that I will (hopefully) get the green light to get slowly back to my routine or, at least have some plan put together.
Until then, I have to exercise one of my weaknesses: patience.
Waiting is all I can do for now.
Even though it is not like I am just lying down like a lazy cat all day long, I am not my usual multi-tasking Debbie either.
And it is OK…
Patience is indeed a virtue, and I am taking advantage of the opportunity to appreciate it.
After long days in the office and evenings (and sometimes also mornings) working out, I am accustomed to leaving a lot to do on the weekends.
In other words: the days fly by, and I am just rushing from a to-do to another.
Under such conditions, even the healthiest person on the planet will crash after some time.
It may not show up immediately, but chances are their metabolism is getting messed up, and inflammation is taking over.
During my leave, I am focusing exclusively on healing, especially in holistic health.
No work, no stress, no rush.
Eating well and getting enough rest is the only thing that matters and it is helping me recharge my depleted batteries.
3. Try New Things
When one’s agenda is packed, all that they wish for is that nothing comes in between and that they have the chance to do. If not everything, at least as many planned tasks as possible.
There is no time for creativity or spontaneity.
The result is falling into a (safe) repetitive pattern without any room for improvisation.
Because I don’t have the handcuffs of endless appointments keeping me down, I can:
- Try new recipes (even if I have to find the closest chair every 3 to 5 minutes).
- Browse different radio stations just-because.
- Watch all cat vids on YouTube (not ALL of them, but you know what I mean…).
It may not be exciting as going for a walk in the forest, but that is what I can do, and I am enjoying it.
4. Have Clear Thoughts
Being constantly on the top of everything is an impossible task, but we try it anyway.
Technology makes our life more comfortable at the same time it overwhelms us with information of all kind, anywhere, anytime, in different formats.
I’m guilty of watching TV using my laptop at the same time and always having my smartphone or tablet within reach.
There is so much going on at once (and for society, the more we can handle the “better” we are) that unless you do some type of meditation, yoga or Reiki, you are always on the run.
At the moment, there is only this much I can deal with at the same time without getting the urge of taking a nap.
So if I want to spend at least a few hours of the day awake, the best thing I can do is clear my thoughts.
5. Be Mindful
“Mindfulness means to maintain a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment”(1).
I discovered the term years ago through Zen Meditation, but outside the ZaZen sessions, I have always struggled to practice it.
There are different ways to reach this state of mind. Some use prayer, other chants, and visualization exercises to assist them to achieve it.
Ideally, however, we should be mindful, present, aware, every single moment of the day.
If I am trying to put together my grocery list while writing this blog, I’m not mindful.
Not focusing on The Now is much more exhausting that you can imagine. Also, it will probably damage your productivity as well.
6. Reevaluate Priorities
The fact is: at least in the beginning of my revalidation, the amount of energy I can spend and the number of things I can do is very limited.
Things will (probably) get a little better once the clips are removed, but, still, I won’t be able to start training for a 5k race just yet.
The solution in such cases is looking at the things I can do and at the ones I want to do and prioritize them.
While I normally can do social media, write one to two blogs a day and workout when I am at home. There are days I have to pick one task to do in the morning and another, in the afternoon, and that is it!
No nagging in the world will make any difference (patience is number one on this list for a reason), so why not saving energy for something else?
7. Enjoy Me-Time
When you are not overdoing things, your batteries are recharged, and your thoughts are in the present moment; you have the chance to enjoy your companion fully.
When you are at peace with your mind and taking good care of your body, you are exercising self-love.
Since I’m not rushing from one appointment to another, I’m granting myself the chance to be my sole partner, and it is a genuinely pleasant experience.
Probably because I know it isn’t an indefinite state, I am getting the most out of this me-time until I am back to civilization again.
Your time down doesn’t have to take months like mine, but if you can save a weekend to pace yourself, please do so.
Afterward, you will be back reenergized, and the experience will prove itself worthy.
Before you go
Can you answer the following question in the comments below, please?
How would you describe your usual pace?
by Debbie Rodrigues | Apr 2, 2015 | Brain Tumor
I called my brain tumor surgery the time for a reset. It was a reset to have my “present” removed and start a new phase in my life.
Before you start reading, let me advise you that the content of this blog personal.
As I mentioned in “Getting Out Of The Closet,” I was diagnosed with brain tumor in 2012. For various reasons I delayed the surgery for as long as I could, but the time has come.
By the time this blog will be posted, I will be getting ready to go to the hospital, first for tests, and tomorrow, on Friday 3rd, 2015, the surgery itself will take place.
I cannot put into words how hard it has been for me not to be able to plan anything ahead, just sit down and get things done for “today”. It is a paralyzing feeling that I still need to get accustomed to because that is how my life will be for the next weeks (months?!?): one day at a time.
Getting back to my daily activities is at the moment just a dream that I want to make come true as soon as possible.
This journey has been beyond special to me. It is a journey back to my heart, to my soul and my beliefs. I have changed so much since I came here (to Belgium) that I almost could not recognize myself anymore. The rejection and isolation had brought me to dark places, and I ended up getting used to them. However, they are not who I am and therefore, they do not define me.
I am grabbing this opportunity life gave me to reset, to set things back on track and I am 100% convinced that I will make it!
With that said, I have to admit that my last day at work was hard. I ended up staying 12 hours in the office because I simply did not know how to leave. There was still so much I wanted to do…
The same after my last training at the CrossFit. I have become so much stronger, and the possibilities are endless. The thought of getting back to training is one of the things keeping me together these days. And I am glad I, at least, got the chance to “play” in the new box before the forced hiatus.
There is still so much I want to accomplish. Even though I am turning 40 soon, I never felt so young.
The years passed way too fast, and there is still A LOT I want to make come true. There are so many people and places I want to see (again)! I may not be able to make appointments at the moment, but nothing stops me from dreaming.
As soon as I get the chance, I will be posting updates (see links to my social media below). I know I am not alone in this path. Besides my family, relatives and friends, there are many others out there overcoming similar struggles together with their beloved ones. If I can bring hope and inspiration to at least one person, my mission will be accomplished.
I would like to thank those who knew about my tumor from the beginning but were discreet about the subject.
Those with whom I did not talk about my condition, please understand that it was not an easy topic to me. The fear of being treated differently was also something that I wanted to avoid at all costs.
Yes, I have migraines. Yes, I can hardly sleep. But so do most of the population under the (di)stress of modern life. The only thing “special” about me is that my condition was timely discovered while most people go through the worst before knowing what is really happening to them. Besides, there is the emotional aspect. It is incredibly hard for me to look into people’s eyes and discuss the matter, even for someone like me.
I am truly looking forward getting back in action. Staying as fit as possible while I recover is a number 1 priority for me. Even though it is still not clear what I will (and will not) be able to do in the coming days and weeks, I built up a nice collection of mobility tools I cannot wait to start using during my recovery.
Before closing this blog, I would like to thank all the support I received my entire life. Life lessons are sometimes hard, but it is a blessing when you have people around who help you overcome obstacles. And for the ‘obstacles’, thank you for helping me see a side of things I did not know before and for helping me become a stronger person.
See you all again very soon!
For other posts about my brain tumor read also:
Please check the list of link parties I join here.
Be Healthy and Live Fully.
* NOTE: Not all headaches are related to tumors. Still, if you have concerns, do not hesitate to discuss it with your MD to look for the best option in your case.
by Debbie Rodrigues | Dec 12, 2014 | Brain Tumor
Life is full of surprises. It is amazing that whenever we insist to staying in our comfort zone, something unexpected happens and changes everything around you. Almost 2.5 years ago, I was blessed with a discovery that forced me into a movement that is still going on and that I am truly thankful for.
Until now, I have kept it to myself, my boyfriend and a handful of people. I wanted to avoid the curiosity and the fake concerns it could bring, however, the time has arrived for me to get out of the closet and speak freely about the thing in my head…
In 2011, I applied for a job position and I was chosen for it. Even though it offered a great opportunity of career growth, the setback was having to continue performing my previous responsibilities in addition to the new ones for 6 months straight until my substitute was “ready”. Needless to say that despite my countless sleepless nights and working weekends, I could barely handle the basics. This was beyond words frustrating for me. I had worked hard to achieve that level in my career as a foreigner here and I was seeing it all escaping through my fingers in spite of all my best efforts. No matter how many hours I was working, I was still only one person.
At a certain point, tiredness and stress started to have the best of me. Not only the frequent migraines had returned, but they suddenly started to feel “different”. I have had it since the age of 9 and I learned to read its signs throughout the years and that is why I had a “feeling” it was something else from what I was accustomed to have. Whatever I was experiencing was really getting in the way of my routine. Lucky me that I had great people supporting me at home and in the office because there were countless days when I simply could not get out bed and get dressed to work without first taking some painkiller and waiting for its effect. I have always been very resistant to pain and it was not just anything that could get me to stay in bed away from work so frequently.
When I finally decided to go to the doctor, I had to convince him of prescribing me a MRI. He could not really understand my concern, but I was a 100% positive of its need. There was nothing wrong with my blood tests, my blood pressure had always been good, so why looking for something else?!? But the results have proven that I was right in my concern: a tiny brain tumor was found.
The news was brought to us by our MD who called my boyfriend late at night on the same day I had the MRI done. He was leaving on vacation the next day, but he wanted to inform us immediately. Suddenly, it seemed that time stopped. It was the two of us at home, looking at each other without knowing what to say, what to think or how to react. Even though I already had a feeling that there was something, I was not ready to face it just yet.
It took me some months to get an appointment with a neurosurgeon to investigate things further. My life was suddenly placed on hold. My dream of starting a course to get my Masters degree went down the drain and I was not sure of anything in my life for a while. I dropped Brazilian Jiu Jitsu then and even though I was in the middle of getting ready for my very first Bikini competition, there was no telling I would even be able to participate in it.
After a second MRI, this time with contrast, things became clearer. I already knew that it was benign tumor, but its real size and shape became clear. It seemed too small to go through an operation to remove it back then, so we agreed to follow it up on a yearly basis allowing myself some time to get accustomed to the idea of the surgery. Life continued business as usual.
It was not always like that at first, but recently I realized the “present” it has been to me. I had been living my life, day in-day out, so busy, without taking time to admire things and be thankful for the blessings I have. I may not be the best known chick in town, but I have friends for life. People I trusted my little secret and who kept it for themselves for all this time. I have a partner who has been there for me, supporting and assisting me in all ways possible. And above all, how many can say that they discovered a tumor before its worst symptoms started to show, such as vision loss or seizures? I know it does not happen every day and that is why I stopped focus on the “problem” and started looking at the opportunity to make things different.
In the past years, I forced myself into Lifestyle changes. Getting fit, which was something that started entirely for the esthetics and as a way to get me out of the office at a regular hour and help me get a good night sleep, became a way to improve my overall life quality. It was not only about the hours spent at the gym, but also the types of food that I was eating and how I could get the best in my body. I discovered things such as organic food, hormone free meat and reduced the ingestion of processed meals and sugars.
This year, I went a little further and started the course of Physical Coach and now, I am studying to acquire the NASM Personal Trainer certification. I want to assist others who are stuck with bad habits and out of shape to discover ways in which they also, no matter how little time they have to spare, can become healthy and fit. For the past weeks, I have been attending my Physical Coach internship at CrossFit Aalst which has been a fantastic experience. I am learning so much (there you do not find people performing exercises with horrible form) and it has given me the chance to become part of the fun. I will surely get enrolled once my training is done.
Maybe you are wondering why I decided to speak up about it after so many years. The truth is that the tumor has grown significantly in the past 12 months and a surgery has become inevitable. I still do not have a date set, but I am not going to postpone it endlessly anymore. And I wanted to get it out of my heart and share my story with others who might be in a similar situation or who know someone battling somehow. Each case is a different story, but knowing that you are not alone out there helps cope with the daily challenges and adversities. No matter the obstacle, you can still overcome it if you put your heart and soul into it and believe blindly in your success.
I am not going to make this page about my health condition. Debbie in Shape is not about the tumor. It is about a woman, who is turning 40 next year, who decided that she was going to get back on track of a healthy life and stay there, no matter what. I simply hope that my story and experience can help and inspire others fight against their own challenges and overcome them all.
Thank you for reading it!
* You can also find me on:
* NOTE: Even though my tumor was discovered at a stressful period of my professional life, it would be incorrect to associate them. Not all headaches are related to meningiomas. Still, if you have concerns, do not hesitate to discuss it with your MD to look for the best option in your case.