Sox Tales

The Western Canadian Powerlifting Championships are taking place this weekend in Calgary. Of course, I had hoped to compete at Westerns last November but missed out due to being caught up in the unprecedented flooding that devastated BC’s highways and several communities. Although I missed out on Westerns last year and didn’t play my cards right to qualify for this year, I do have fond memories of competing at Westerns in August of 2016 in Kamloops. I went 8 for 9 on my lifts that day, typically missing my final bench press, but I did still manage to break a few provincial records and have a personal best deadlift. That was also my first time competing without my coach in my corner, although I roped my daughter into stepping into the role and she did just fine. I haven’t been on that big of a powerlifting stage since then, and I’m not sure when I will be again. But yesterday at Westerns, a little obscure part of me was on the platform! Okay, so it was really just a pair of my socks, but it is still a pretty cool story.

It all started on June 4, just a few months ago, at the local powerlifting competition I had entered. As is my habit, I had packed my gym bag the night before, but on the spur of the moment I decided to throw a second pair of knee high socks into my bag as a just in case. When you’re deadlifting, you need to be wearing socks that are almost to the knees. My favourite deadlifting socks are from a company called Sox Box. I own quite a few pairs and every one has some sort of word or phrase on them. While none of the socks are offensive, you never really know if a referee might decide that a pair is unacceptable, which is why I threw a second pair in my bag before leaving the house that morning.

So there I was at the venue waiting to be weighed in. My equipment had already been checked and approved, and I was doing my introvert/INFJ thing of people watching as other lifters went through the equipment check. With Covid-19 shutting many things down for two years, there were a lot of first time lifters at this particular competition, many with hopes to get a qualifying total for Provincials only a few weeks away, so that they could then get a qualifying total for Westerns and then Nationals. Many of those new lifters were inadequately prepared for the equipment check. Several of them were unable to wear the shirts they thought they’d be wearing and had to use the ones given to each lifter. As I’m standing there waiting and watching, a young man is laying out his equipment for the referees to check and he had only one pair of socks. The referee asked if he had another pair for the deadlift. He looked a bit lost and uncertain about what to do, and then I spoke up as I dug into my bag, saying that I had an extra pair. The word on that particular pair of socks was EPIC.

Roger, the young man now wearing my socks, was in the same flight as me, so I was able to see most of his lifts, at least as best I could through the gaps in the curtains separating the holding area from the platform. Now I do not know exactly how old Roger is, but he is a sub-junior lifter which means he is between 14 and 18 years old. If I had to guess (and I’m really not very good at guessing ages) I would say that he is 16 or 17 years old. Roger lifted very well for his first competition. Quite honestly, I was super impressed with how strong some of those young lifters were! There were some kinks to work out with understanding all the rules and such, but they really did quite well.

By the time the competition was finished, there was a lot going on and I didn’t even think about my socks again until I was halfway to my car, at which point I decided that I didn’t want to go back to retrieve them. A small part of me was sad to let the socks go, because I honestly do love my Sox Box; however, I have an entire drawer crammed full of socks and truly would not miss one pair. Besides, at least I knew that my socks would be on the feet of a new, young powerlifter and put to good use. My experience with powerlifting has always been positive, so I was happy to pay it forward in this small way.

A few weeks later was Provincials and I was able to watch some of the lifting livestream. And there was Roger wearing my EPIC socks! I had started following him on Instagram after the June 4 competition, so I congratulated him on his Provincials performance and commented on how much I liked his socks. He made some sort of comment about how they came from someone cool. That made me laugh. I appreciate the comment even though I am really not cool at all.

Then yesterday, Roger competed at Westerns and wore my socks. I congratulated him again, and he mentioned how crazy it was to consider that he wouldn’t even be there if it weren’t for me. Now that is probably more than a slight exaggeration. Sure, he might not have been permitted to compete in June without me giving him my extra pair of socks, but chances are someone would have had an extra pair to lend him or he could have got creative by sharing socks with someone, although that would have been tricky. Roger said that he’d remember forever.

I don’t know. Maybe it is because I’m a mom, because of my personality, because of his youth, or something else entirely, but I have developed a soft spot for Roger, even though I do not know him at all. I find it extremely amusing and awesome that my socks are competing without me and going to the big events that I am not yet able to take part in again. I am happy to have been able to help out a new lifter. It was such a small gesture, but its potential is unfathomable.

Deadlift Disappointment

My training session at the gym didn’t go quite as planned this morning. Despite feeling excited and completely confident, I failed to pull my final deadlift at 270 pounds, which would have been a post-injury personal best. I was so confident in my ability that I not only tried again but four more times, and every one of those attempts ended in failure. It was incredibly frustrating, because I pulled 260 pounds last week with relative ease. Today’s weight is not out of reach for me, no way.

I don’t know why I failed, but I did everything I could to fix the problem in the moment. I chalked up my hands and mentally reviewed my setup and positioning. I pulled out my screwdriver to adjust my belt, because it felt as if it was too loose and sliding up. I allowed the frustration and anger to fuel my energy and drive. Nothing helped. Nothing felt right. A few tries resulted in me pulling the bar almost to my knees and fairly quickly, but then it felt as if my lower back would need to do all the work to grind out the lift and I just couldn’t go there. During subsequent attempts, I focused on using my legs but the lower back still seemed to want to take over and my body wouldn’t permit it. As frustrating as it is to try and fail repeatedly, I guess it was also just good to listen to my body.

My coach was pragmatic about the situation and offered some insightful thoughts. Basically he’s not too concerned about it. It’s one miss over an entire training cycle, and it is near the end of the cycle. Fatigue is high and could be a big factor. He also mentioned that lifters, when heavy lifts feel kind of easy during training, sometimes fall into the trap of expecting everything to feel easy and not being prepared for a grind. Ultimately he says it was just an off day and I haven’t had one of those for a long time, so it was bound to happen eventually, so shake it off.

I agreed to shake it off, but it has taken most of the day to do that. While I haven’t been pouting all day, I have felt rather listless and down. This funk will not last very long, but sometimes I just need to sit in my feelings for a while, rearranging the pieces and thoughtfully touching each one. It is a process without explanation really, but it is a process so completely me. Tomorrow is a new day, and I will go to the gym in the morning and have a solid bench session. I will tackle all of the housework I ignored today and maybe have enough time to do some more work on a craft project I started today. And if all goes well, perhaps next week will see me pull a post-injury deadlift personal best.

Breathe in September

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”

Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Fall is my favourite season. I realize that summer has yet to officially end, but, for me, the start of September will always be the beginning of Fall. There are many things to love about this season: the crisp chill in the morning air, the crunch of fallen leaves beneath my feet, sweaters and cozy blankets. Most people might view Fall as an ending, but for me there is a sense of beginning. Perhaps that goes back to being a kid and the start of a new school year, or maybe I am always simply excited for these types of changes.

That excitement has been building over the past week as my thoughts have been landing on ideas and goals, words and themes for the new year. Yes, I did just mention New Year’s goals! I haven’t intentionally set out to look that far ahead on the calendar, but those thoughts keep stepping in and I sense that they are settling in quite resolutely. But it is only early September and I have a few months left to focus on my theme and goals for 2022 (while also fleshing out those ideas for next year!)

Last Days of Summer

Heading into my final weekend of holidays, I am still feeling quite tired and wiped out. The first week of my holidays was all about my daughter’s wedding, while this week has been completely free for me to do just about anything I could want to do, except that I haven’t had the energy or desire to do very much at all. Going to the gym is so ingrained into my routine that I haven’t had any trouble getting myself there for my workouts, although I did have mornings where I sort of resented my consistency because I did not want to wake up as early as I am used to. The housework basics have been tackled bit by bit and out of my usual order based on my normal days off work, which might bother me later as the clean towels will deplete earlier in the week. I suppose vacation days are like that.

Even though we’re still enjoying what is left of the summer, I have turned my oven on a couple of times this week to make some roasted tomatillo salsa. Since we’re usually at work, the air-conditioning temperature is programmed to be a bit warmer during the day, which means the kitchen gets pretty roasty with the oven on at 450F, but the tomatillo salsa is so worth it. I now have a few containers in the freezer, not nearly enough though, and wouldn’t mind increasing my stash if I can find some more tomatillos.

As I drove to the gym at 5:30 this morning, I felt some dismay at how dark the sky was compared to only a couple of weeks ago at the same time. Summer is fading rapidly. The wedding is over. My holidays are nearly over. All things pumpkin will be everywhere soon, children will be back at school, and the days will continue to get shorter and the weather cooler. During my brief drive this morning, I thought about the seasons. Fall has always been my favourite, but I truly do enjoy all the seasons. Each one has something special to offer and enjoy. Okay, so I’m not always thrilled with the dumps of snow or icy roads of winter, but even still there is much to love about winter. I do feel a little sad when summer comes to an end, but I’m also ready for the change. Maybe that’s why I enjoy all the seasons the way I do…because I like some change, switching things up, and the seasons and weather is much like painting the walls in your house or rearranging the furniture. The same yet different and fresh.

A Beautiful Day

I’m sitting here three days after the wedding, so happy and yet so incredibly tired. It is a good thing that we didn’t plan anything for this last week of my holidays. Sunday was for a bit of clean up and a whole lot of nothing. Monday found me back to my normal gym schedule and routine, but I only half-heartedly tackled a couple of necessary housework tasks. In fact, I sort of had two naps yesterday which is completely not me, but my husband and I did go out for dinner to celebrate our 30th anniversary. That was lovely and low-key and all that we needed. Today has been a little more productive; however, it was difficult to get out of bed so I could go to the gym. Also not like me, I hit the snooze button at least twice, quite possibly even three times this morning. But I did eventually get up and to the gym. I tackled some more housework that fell by the wayside while all our attention was focused on wedding stuff like laundry, the cat litter, sweeping the floor, wiping and clearing kitchen counters, getting some groceries. I even made a batch of roasted tomatillo salsa and a batch of blackberry bourbon vanilla jam. As productive as I feel, I still feel exhausted. It was worth it though.

The wedding was simply beautiful and perfect. It is August in British Columbia, and we had blue skies and sunshine instead of the seemingly annually occurring smoky haze from forest fires. Outdoor weddings are always a fingers crossed/praying for good weather situation, and the forecast grew less favourable the closer we got to the day. And yet, there was no rain, no thunderstorms, and the temperature wasn’t scorching hot.

There were moments when it seemed as if time was creeping ever so slowly, even as I wondered if we’d have enough time to get everything done at the necessary points along the way, but things generally have a way of working out and I think all of the details were properly taken care of and anything that maybe wasn’t quite the way the bride and groom wanted it to be likely wasn’t even noticed. This is the way of planning things. Our ideas of what particular details should look like or how things should go often lose their value as the most important parts rise above the decorations and distractions we were previously so focused on.

There is so much that I could say about my daughter’s wedding. She was beautiful. Everything about the wedding was wonderful from the location to the ceremony to the food to the reception and everything in between. Seeing the pure joy and excitement on the faces of Abby and Travis makes my mother’s heart sing. I can say that I really did not cry, which was both surprising and a relief. That doesn’t mean I didn’t feel all sorts of emotions (definitely did and still do!), but I was able to enjoy the proceedings, soaking everything in and just being present in the moments.

Eventually I will share more photos and thoughts from the day, but I’m waiting to see some of the photographer’s pictures and maybe find a bit more energy.

Call Me Van Gogh

I guess I should update the situation with the basal cell carcinoma on my ear, as things have definitely changed since I last commented on it. When I got the call from the surgeon’s office, my appointment date was set for August 15. This wasn’t an ideal date for me with my daughter’s wedding set for August 20 and knowing I’d still have a bunch of stitches in my ear; however, knowing how slow it can sometimes be to see specialists, I accepted the appointment and hoped for the best. To be perfectly honest, part of me wasn’t too concerned, thinking that this procedure would be similar to the original biopsy which wasn’t that big of a deal. My primary concern with having the top of my ear stitched up right before the wedding was my hair appointment and the likelihood of the stitches getting wet or snagged by a comb or something like that.

Two weeks ago today, I had just returned home after running a couple of errands when my phone rang. It was the specialist’s office stating they had a cancellation and could I come in that day as soon as possible. Heck ya! An hour later, I was walking out of the clinic with stitches and steri-strips on the top of an ear that was missing a surprisingly large chunk of flesh. The procedure was obviously quick, but it also seemed pretty easy and straightforward. Having the anaesthetic injected was the most painful part of the process, while the suturing seemed to take a long time and, while painless, felt very weird. I saw the piece of flesh while the doctor was placing it in a jar to be sent off for testing, and the size of flesh was surprising. It makes sense. He had to make sure he was removing all of the cancer, but I still wasn’t expecting it to be that much.

Once the freezing came out, the pain arrived and again I wasn’t quite ready for it. Like I said, I was naively expecting this to be like the biopsy in May. Then the incision was small, the stitches few, and the pain and discomfort minimal. Not this time! I wasn’t able to sleep on my left side for the entire first week, and even now I have to settle my head against the pillow gently and find just the right position for the most comfort. Washing and brushing my hair around that ear has been challenging. Wearing a hat has been awkward and uncomfortable but absolutely necessary when spending time outside lately. I think all the stitches have dissolved, at least the external ends. Swelling has come down and there’s no longer throbbing pain, but that entire area is still pretty tender. Even the back of my ear…you know the part that the arm of a pair of glasses sits on, that area is super tender and sore which doesn’t really make sense to me, but what do I know really.

All in all though, it seems to be healing nicely. I will just forever have lopsided ears now, as my left ear has lost a significant amount of height. The good news is that the worst of it all is behind me and further removed from the wedding than anticipated!

INFJ

Towards the end of my workout at the gym early this morning, I noticed someone that I sort of know using some equipment not too far from where I was doing my wide grip cable rows. This is someone I know really only superficially but enough to know her name, her children’s names, and small (and likely outdated) details of her life. I know her, because we once shared a mutual friend and our circles were slightly connected. Since my relationship with that mutual friend ended many years ago, I have often felt shame every time I have bumped into that former friend or one of her friends. Why is this relevant? Because upon seeing this woman at the gym, I immediately shuffled my last few exercises in order to avoid coming into contact with her.

After my workout as I was driving home, I thought about my reaction and response to seeing Jane (not her real name, of course, but I don’t want to just call her ‘woman’). I realized that my desire to avoid contact was not rooted in shame this time. Maybe it helped that I was in the gym, a place where I feel strong and confident, or maybe the death of that particular friendship no longer haunts me. Maybe both! What I did realize though was that my avoidance was based on my knowledge of Jane and my judgement of her character. That sounds utterly horrible, I know, but it is true. This is part of being an INFJ, but I promise I’m really not a terrible person.

I am frequently watching and evaluating people, and many times I am able to see past the veneer to the heart of their character. When I see someone’s character, I decide whether or not that person is worthy of my respect. This doesn’t mean I treat people poorly; I don’t. I treat everyone with courtesy and a measure of respect, but there is a difference between treating someone kindly because you are a nice person and respecting someone because you know they are a person of good character. I can provide respectful service to a constantly rude and selfish customer, but I have no respect for that person. This is true for people I come into contact with outside of work as well. If you reveal your true character to me, I will take you at your word.

As cold as that may sound, I am also more than willing to be wrong about someone and to change my opinion, even though experience has shown that I am usually right. I want to believe the best in people, and I probably leave the door open for far longer than I should when it comes to giving people second chances.

I also realize that my knowledge isn’t always complete when I judge someone’s character. Like with Jane. I don’t know her well and never have. What I do know is enough to make my INFJ “spidey senses” tingle. That’s enough to make me want to avoid contact, but it isn’t enough for me to ever be rude. Had we bumped into each other and she actually recognized me, I would have smiled, said hello and engaged in a bit of surface level chitchat without ever going even the teensiest bit deeper. This isn’t someone with whom I would share much of myself, and really that is what my INFJ judgement boils down to. Is this person worthy of receiving the deepest, most personal parts of me? Is this person capable of accepting those parts of me? Do I feel safe with this person? INFJ’s are not surface level people, not really. We feel and absorb all of the emotions. We know and perceive an awful lot about people and situations. We are sensitive and often misunderstood. Although I cannot speak to what it is like being any other personality type, as an INFJ, this personality can often and easily become heavy and burdensome. So we protect ourselves.

Part of me is hesitant to share this blog post, because I don’t want anyone reading it to feel hurt that I might have judged them. Have I? It’s possible, of course, but please don’t think that I go around passing internal judgement on everyone who crosses my path. That’s not quite how it works. I do not just look at someone and declare them unworthy. No way! It is body language, tone, attitude, words said and how they’re said, the words not said, and it is behaviour. I don’t know how else to explain or describe it. I suppose finding someone worthy is sort of like coming across someone you instantly recognize as an old soul or a kindred spirit; you just know it to be true, and it is just as true for those whose character is not trustworthy.

For the record, I don’t think anyone untrustworthy bothers to read my little blog!

One Thousand Gifts

Where does the time go? In cleaning up a crate of notebooks and such, I came across a journal I use for listing things I am thankful for along the vein of Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I started this journal in April 2020. My last entry was September 6, 2021, and there was a grand total of 328 entries in my list. So much has happened in the ten months since I last wrote upon those pages and so many things to be thankful and happy for, although their absence in the notebook doesn’t mean they went unnoticed. I took some time this afternoon to put ink to paper and add to my list more recent reasons for gratitude with a couple of older reasons of significance. Being a lover of paper, notebooks, pretty pens, and lists, I am glad that I rediscovered this journal and hope to update it more frequently now.

The reason this journal went unopened for so long was a simple case of out of sight, out of mind. Even though it was in my side table/wooden crate that I see and use every day, I had let the many notebooks contained within to get disordered and sloppy to the point that I was no longer actually seeing individual books. In much the same way, it wasn’t until today that I realized that it was a new month and I hadn’t yet focused my attention on two new monthly goals. As part of my goals for 2022, I decided to focus on two specific goals each month, one to add a positive habit to my life and one to remove (clutter, stuff no longer needed, bad habits, etc). Regardless of how successful I have been each month with my specific goals, I have usually been good at being prepared before the next month began. Not this time. Just another way that time slips by unnoticed.

While I am still not fully decided on my addition goal for July, I was able to decide on an area to focus my removal efforts on and I was even able to make a significant dent in that space already. Normally I would have just added the task to my weekly to-do list and hoped for the best, but I didn’t allow procrastination to settle in today. In all honesty, my efforts today might be the only time I touch that space all week, but I got enough done today to leave me feeling productive and satisfied for now. I came across another little notebook inside my crate…my little book of goals. Now that we’re halfway through the year, it is a good time to evaluate my progress.

My reading goal is progressing very well, which makes me very happy. I had a similar goal last year and was successful, but it required more pushing to achieve as enjoyment in reading had been heavily repressed since herniating a disc. This year, finally, I am truly enjoying books again.

One of my goals was to compete in powerlifting if my schedule allowed between the uncertainty of Covid and knowing that I had a wedding later this summer. I was able to compete in June, which was wonderful and exciting. There may even be the opportunity to compete again at the end of summer or early fall. Being able to compete once was almost unexpected in spite of my goal, being able to compete twice this year would be such a blessed surprise.

Sort of hand-in-hand with the competition goal, though not entirely, were goals to set new post-injury personal records in squat, bench press, and deadlift, whether in competition or merely in training at the gym. For competitors, gym PRs don’t mean a whole lot. It’s what happens on the platform that counts, but since I wasn’t certain I would be able to compete this year I allowed myself some flexibility with these goals. I am still chasing a bench PR, as I have been for four years now, but I did set post-injury PRs in squat and deadlift at the competition. I’d even say there was room for more.

Writing more often is another goal for the year. Sometimes it seems as if I am failing miserable with this one, but when I remember that I was broad in my definition of writing, then I can acknowledge that I am not doing as bad as I think. There is room for improvement, but my Star Wars baking blog mostly keeps me writing something on a weekly basis.

Another goal was to return to running. Perhaps an ambitious goal considering how poorly my attempt to run in the spring of 2021 went, but I am nothing if not hopeful. A few weeks ago, I did actually go out for a run a little more than two kilometres. I did not die, and it was mostly fun and enjoyable. Unfortunately, my training in the gym since then has been high volume resulting in tons of muscle soreness, so running hasn’t even been a blip on my radar. That’s okay.

My monthly addition/removal goals have been a mixed bag. Some months have been more successful than others. Some areas of focus have been better than others. And that’s okay, too! As much as I love having goals, I know that sometimes goals cannot be black & white, do or do not. Even when I haven’t been perfect with these goals, I am still making progress.

Besides reading, there is another goal that I have carried over from last year, and that is a weekly and intentionally encouraging/blessing someone. Some weeks are flashier than others, but the point of this goal isn’t about being flashy or extravagant. It is about encouraging someone who is struggling, blessing someone I care about, celebrating people’s birthdays, anniversaries and milestones, sharing joy or tears. This is part of what makes me tick, so even when the effort feels small and ineffectual, I hope that what I give is a blessing.

There are a few more goals for the year that I haven’t even really begun to work towards yet, but there is still time. Or not. What will be will be. In the meantime, I will just keep plugging away, trying not to let things slip through my fingers.

People Need People

My last two training days in the gym this week have been interesting in good ways and not so good. Earlier in the week, I had been exchanging messages with my coach, talking about how much I was enjoying my current programming and how I was finally feeling like a normal person in the gym instead of an injured person. We shared our excitement over that and the potential waiting in the wings for me. It was a great little conversation, and then something happened Thursday morning that took that positive little conversation and trampled all over it.

Thursday was a lower body workout starting with many sets of light deadlifts. I got to the gym early, right around opening time, found a deadlift platform and went through my warm up routine of a handful of exercises to stretch and prime the muscles. Everything felt good and I was ready to load some plates onto the bar for my first set, but I needed to re-tie a shoe. Instead of kneeling down to do it, I lifted my foot up to rest on a stack of bumper plates about two feet high. As I began to lean my torso towards my thigh in anticipation of tying my shoe, a very sharp and crackly sheet lightning-like pain exploded across the lower left side of my back. I’ve had similar type experiences before at random times, but I don’t think those were ever as strong as this one. It felt terribly awful, and all I had done was try to tie a shoe in a completely normal manner. I took some extra time to try to gently move and stretch out my back. While doing some cat and camel stretches, the cat was no problem but my back resisted the camel quite fiercely. Child’s pose could not be fully settled into. I wasn’t really worried that I had done major damage to my back, but I knew there’d be some stiffness and discomfort to work through for a time. Carefully, I went on with my workout and found that the back presented very little trouble throughout.

As I was carefully doing my ten sets of deadlifts, a woman began deadlifting on the platform beside me. Being someone who remembers faces, I knew her face from when I was previously a member at this gym more than 3 years ago. At one point yesterday, she turned to me and asked if I competed in powerlifting and said she remembered a brief conversation with me several years ago. Wow! While I remember her face, I don’t really remember ever talking to her. She then asked why I wasn’t using straps and chalk while deadlifting like she was. Now I could have gone into great detail about my use of straps and chalk, because I do use both and have both in my gym bag; however, I simply said that I use them when appropriate or necessary. We both did another set or two before she turned to me again and struck up more conversation. I’m guessing that she is younger than me but likely at least in her late 30’s, although I am not good at guessing such things. Our conversation wasn’t super long, but we touched on a few things that resonate with me. Not being where you used to be and not being where you think you should be. Putting on extra weight and struggling to get rid of it again. Losing self-confidence. Oh how well I understand those internal struggles!

I was finished my deadlifts before she was, but I made sure to properly introduce myself and get her name before I moved on. While I don’t go to the gym for social interaction, it was really nice to kind of make a friend at the gym. I’ve been back at this gym since the end of January, and there’s almost no one I know here. When I was at this gym 3 years ago, I still didn’t know many people, but there were at least a couple of staff members who made a point of knowing me enough to form casual acquaintances. Those staff members are no longer here, and although I recognize some of the gym members faces, I slip in and out of the gym more or less unseen and unknown. But now I know Kim and she knows me.

This morning I was again at the gym right after opening time and expected to slip in just as anonymously as always. Sure, I need to scan my key tag upon entry which pops my name and face up on a computer monitor, but there is rarely anyone standing there to see it. This morning, as I slipped off my wet flip-flops and before I could even scan my tag, I heard someone say, “Hello, Angela!” I looked up and saw an employee smiling at me, nowhere near the monitors. I replied to his greeting with one of my own, then headed for the change room feeling surprised but grateful. I am perfectly okay with being on my own, and I am comfortable enough with being overlooked, ignored, and unnoticed. And yet, there is something quite special about being seen and acknowledged and called by name. This intangible feeling is one of the things I love most about my job and what drew me to it. I am so happy when I surprise a customer by remembering their name, even when they are not frequent regulars. People, even the most introverted of us, have an inherent need to be seen and valued, even if it is as simple as, “Hey, I remember you!” or using someone’s name. Or a little conversation that shines a spotlight on how similar we are and opens the door for sprinkling some encouragement around the room. We are all made for connections.

For the record, my back is still feeling kind of stiff and sore today but not nearly as bad as yesterday, although flexion is still not easy or comfortable. Today’s training was also hardly affected by this current back issue, but I did have to scrap my dumbbell bench presses. With the way my back is feeling right now, I cannot lay myself down on a bench without using my hands to ease myself down, which is impossible to do while holding dumbbells. So, I decided to do some barbell bench presses with my feet up on the bench to create some of the instability that using dumbbells provides. While not exactly the same exercise, at least I could get on and off the bench this way.

Dialling Into the Medical System

I am one of those people who dread making phone calls. Whenever I have an important call to make, I will stress over it, push it off as long as possible, and run through my dialogue mentally and even occasionally in writing, because I am not blessed with a golden tongue or the gift of gab. I trip over words or lose them completely when thrust into unexpected or pressurized conversation, or I get choked up by emotions that seem to come out of the woodwork anytime I need to talk about personal stuff, no matter how unemotional I really am about the situation. It’s embarrassing and awkward, but sometimes I still have to make those phone calls.

It’s been two weeks since I received the basal cell carcinoma results of the biopsy on my ear with no more information aside from the name of the plastic surgeon I was being referred to in order to have the rest of the spot removed. That means it has been two weeks of putting off making a phone call to find out my next steps for having more spots on my face checked. There are a few tiny bumps on my face that have been there for some time, and I’ve never given them much thought before because I had no reason to. But now that there’s basal cell carcinoma in one spot I cannot help but look at these little bumps with uncertainty. Maybe they aren’t just part of me. Maybe they have unkind intentions. How can I know? Do I want to know? Is ignorance really bliss? I mean, it was for a while, at least until the ear diagnosis. Now ignorance is not bliss, and I can’t help but feel as if every inch of skin on my face is crawling with evil. It would have been nice if the call with the biopsy results had included more conversation, and I suppose I could have asked more questions in the moment. If I was capable of considering those questions in the moment, that is. Problem with phone calls and unexpected, pressurized conversations, remember?!

Today I worked up enough courage to make the call to the skin cancer clinic where I had the biopsy done and asked what the procedure was for having other spots on my face checked out since I was just diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. The answer was that I needed to see my family doctor and get a new referral. Great! Another phone call. But I made it right away and have an appointment tomorrow. Not with my own doctor, because apparently she’s away for several months, but at least I can see someone without delay. Unfortunately, I will likely need to wait at least a month or more for the referral appointment.

And here’s the thing…

How is this quality patient care? A patient is referred to a specialist to check for skin cancer. Skin cancer is found and a referral is sent off to have the rest of it removed. End of patient care by the skin cancer clinic. Shouldn’t the response of the skin cancer clinic be something like, “Hey! Since we found cancer on your ear we would like to examine the rest of your face (or even all of your skin) to make sure there isn’t more lurking about.” Shouldn’t that be the way patient care works, especially for something like this?

So I am glad that I have an appointment tomorrow, but I can’t help but feel incredibly frustrated with the medical system right now. Again. Good grief. For once I would simply like the medical system to do its’ job smoothly, properly, quickly, and efficiently.