Thursday, December 14, 2006


I went to sleep Sunday dreaming of Bedford Falls and woke up in Pottersville. You know the place, right? It's a very very bad place where everyone works 14-hour days and then wake up only to work out like madmen before heading back to work again (OK, I made that part up about working out). Still. You don't wanna live there.

Where, oh where is Christmas?

My news is that I'm scheduled to have a little surgical procedure on Feb. 12.

I don't embarrass easily (as you know only too well if you've ever read my blog), but for some reason, I am embarrassed about this: I have urinary stress incontinence.

Excuse me for a minute.
Voice inside Jeanne's head: Jeanne, it's not like it's a moral failing or anything! It's not like you killed someone!
Another voice inside Jeanne's head: Yeah, but if I was smarter, this wouldn't have happened!
Hand of first voice inside Jeanne's head: Dope slap.
Hello my name is Jeanne, and I have UI. And voices in my head.

I "leak" when I run, walk, talk, sit, sneeze, cough, move, live, or breathe. If this fact makes you queasy, imagine how I feel about it.

I had to tell so that the rest of my story will make sense. But first, let's learn a bit about UI:
Between 12 million and 25 million Americans are thought to have UI. Exact numbers are not known: many who have the condition are too embarrassed or pessimistic to seek treatment. But according to the National Institute of Aging, at least one in ten people over age 65 has the condition. Women are more likely than men to get UI because it can be caused by the physical trauma of past pregnancies and by the muscle weakness that sometimes results from a drop in estrogen at menopause.
—from the AARP's cutely named "Oopsie Daisy" site (gag me)
I don't quite fit into any of those groups, except I did have one enormous child 20 years ago. And I'll be 50 in February (Feb. 7 to be exact: mark your calendars!).

It's nice to know I'm not alone. And I'm betting that some of you out there have this problem too.

So,the upside is that I should be cured after this procedure.

The downside is that, post surgery, there can be no aerobic exercise—nothing, not swimming, biking, elliptical, nada— for—are you ready?—twelve weeks. I can walk fast, but that's it. And that's only after at least two weeks of total rest. No lifting weights, either. (And yes, I've tried all the other treatments, rest assured.)

You know what happens when you go two weeks without exercise. You can imagine what visions are dancing through my head just thinking about twelve weeks with no exercise.

And now, please whine with me and pity me, because twelve weeks of no training takes me into May and that means: No Cherry Blossom 10 miler, no St. Patrick's Day 10k, no Mother's Day 10K, no George Washington Parkway 5k ... waaaah, all my favorite races!

It also means quite a loss of muscle tone and endurance and, unless I'm extremely careful, weight gain.

OK whining over. I don't have cancer, I don't have any incurable or painful disease, I need to thank my lucky stars.

And I decided immediately that I would spend the time between now and Feb. 12 getting into the best shape of my life.

I started this week by taking a drastic step: I gave up sugar. Great time of year for that, right? So far, so good.

Next, I sampled some classes at a drop-in gym one block from work.

So here's what my week looked like:

Monday, 6:30 a.m.: A one-hour Reebok strength-training class that kicked the stuffing out of me. I still hurt from it.

Tuesday: 7 a.m.: Ran my first three miles since Spain. 11:30 min pace. I was sucking air the entire way. Not pretty, but my leg didn't hurt.

Wednesday: 9:15 a.m.: Second strength-training class with same instructor as Monday. Going to this was a pain because I had to get to work early, work, change, leave work, etc., do the reverse, and her class on Wednesday is very different than on Monday. A lot more talking, a lot less working. And NO OFFENSE TO the SAHMs out there, because I would cut off my arm to be one, but the class was populated by mostly rich Bethesda SAHMs, who had nothing to talk about but getting their hair done and the burden of the holiday and its many parties, and getting their grass manicured and their feet cut (or was that the other way around?), anyway: not for me.

Thursday: 6:30 a.m. this morning. Yoga (not Bikram) class. This was also a killer. KILLER.

So, I consulted my trusty, (if two-timing), highly unpaid coach for a plan that made sense, and this is what I got:

3 days of running: 30-45 minutes. Go easy. You're just trying to maintain right now.
1 day: yoga (which I consider core strength training)
1 day: upper-body and core strength training
1 day: spinning class

I realize this is 6 days of exercise. If too much, drop down to 2 days of running.
Now, this I can live with! And I hope it does the trick.

I had to tell my colleagues the situation, and one of them asked: Do you have any evidence that getting into great shape now will result in less loss of muscle tone after surgery?

Um, no?

But I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere that going into surgery healthy should speed recovery time. (Tammy, help a sistah out!)

So that's the story. Blood and gory.

Merry Christmas you old Building & Loan!


21st Century Mom said...

Oh my,my,my,my,my...

first up - wah! So sorry you have to have surgery and miss your favorite races.

second up - Yay! Not life threatening, curable

third up - fast walking will do you more good than you think. I lost 10 pounds and listened to some great books walking.

fourth up - wah! Sounds like a drag

fifth up - getting in great shape will mean you are in better shape when you can get back to getting back in shape - if you know what I mean

and last, but not least - no shame.

*SMOOCH* Who loves ya?

Laurie said...

I love your honesty.

I think you are right about wanting to get into as good of shape as possible by February. You will boost your metabolism and hopefully not gain as much weight while sitting all the time.

Rich said...

Jeanne -

1. You've got more in common with Mary Lou Retton than just your finesse on the uneven bars;

2. I see group photography in your future next Spring

3. Two timing coach?! She said she was going to dump you first! Heavens!

David said...

I missed the blood and gory part.

Maybe you can be a coach for 12 weeks. Think of somebody who's way behind you in their "experience" and give a hand.

Thomas said...

I'd rather pee myself than going without exercise for 12 weeks. 12 Weeks! 12 WEEKS!!!

Nancy Toby said...

So you're having pee-pee surgery? OUCH!! I'm sorry. I hope it works!!!

susie said...

Good for you putting this out there. I'll bet lots of us will learn and be helped b/c of your experiences. And we'll laugh with you (not AT you) the whole time:)
Hang in there, Jeanne. You will be back in NO time.

suburbancrawl said...

I'm with ya. I'm in a new job and would love to have a weekday where I could just be a gymrat. Can't be a SAHM b/c I don't have kids, so I'm waiting to become a woman of leisure. Maybe my husband will win the World Series of Poker.

Dori said...

OMG! I can't stop laughing--at the video you chose! Merry Christmas, indeed.

I agree with 21CM--you can stay in shape by walking. And watching what you eat. We must be on the same wavelength--I'm trying to quit sugar too! I started on Tuesday. It's harder than running a 10 minute mile.

Dori said...

BTW, your link to Bex is broken.

Susan said...

Jeanne, you'll be the most in shape patient they've ever seen!

jeanne said...

bex linked: fixed!

Nancy Toby said...

And about the exercise, I'd say it's time to start developing your racewalking technique! Crank it up to 11 or 12 mpm and GO! :-)

Nancy Toby said...

Er, um, I meant GO FAST, not GO in the sense of urinate. That would be bad.

Black Knight said...

Well after the surgery it will be easier for you to break all the P.R. Good luck and take care Jeanne.

Neese said...

aw bless your heart, i'm sorry you have to go through that... looking forward to all your blog entries even without the running for awhile.

Rhea said...

It could be worse. Much, much worse. That said, I know it's very frustrating, the not-exercising. But fast walking is good. And we spend so much time feeling guilty about not running that the chance NOT to run - per doctor's orders - well, one could consider that a blessing in disguise, ne'est ce-pas?

Lora said...

Why do we women get all these crazy problems?? I'm sure men arent kegeling daily!!

Anyways...make sure you overload on protein and vitamins before cutting day. You'll breeze thru it!

runr53 said...

"OK whining over. I don't have cancer, I don't have any incurable or painful disease, I need to thank my lucky stars." Yep, definitely could be worse. Run Good!