A resurrection story

I completed the Endometriosis Awareness Virtual 5K today. Though a bit chilly, it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun shone as brightly as my yellow endo shirt. I drove into town and parked at the Wooster Library. From there, I traveled North on Grant Street to Bowman Street. Then I went East on Bowman to Beall Avenue, then South on Beall Avenue to Liberty, then West on Liberty back to Grant Street. My second loop through town was shorter, walking East on Larwill Street instead of Bowman. I completed the 5K (3.1 miles) in 1 hour, 21 minutes. I didn’t walk fast, but kept a steady pace. During my walk I had several text messages from friends offering encouragement. Yesterday a friend told me about a fun app called Voxer that makes one’s phone like a walkie talkie. I downloaded it and was grateful to hear this friend’s cheers in real-time throughout my walk. At the completion of my walk, this friend met me for lunch at Matsos, our local Greek restaurant, where I enjoyed a yummy Greek salad and spinach pie.

Participation on this walk today holds significant meaning for me. As one who has suffered with this disease for 27 years, I am grateful for the platform in which to raise awareness. Far too many women suffer in silence and it is important for them to know that this pain is not normal; that it is not “just part of being a woman,” as many, including doctors, will tell them. More than my own experience with this disease, though, today’s walk was about health and wholeness. Nine months and 87 pounds ago, it would have been inconceivable for me to even consider such a walk. In fact, even as I think about it now, it is hard for me to believe that I actually did it. Yet I did it!

Tomorrow begins the holiest of weeks in the Christian year – a time when we consider the expectations of the crowds cheering Jesus on Palm Sunday, the dark days leading to his death on Good Friday, and the hope of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. As I consider my own journey during the last several months and my participation in today’s walk, it, too, is a resurrection story. God is continuously at work in our lives, transforming our pain and brokenness, moving us toward our fullest created potential. In the week ahead, may you not only remember the Resurrection, but see signs of hope for your own resurrection story.

Until next time, peace …

I’m laughing here at the completion of my walk, holding the endo “fact cards” I created with yellow ribbons attached.

The back of the T-shirt I made (since the official walk shirt has not yet arrived).

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Walking to End Endo

I’m getting excited about participating in the Endometriosis Awareness Virtual 5K! This event was organized by a group who will be running together in Seattle tomorrow. People all across the country were invited to participate “virtually” in their own locations. Since registering about five weeks ago, I have been walking each day and I think I am ready! I mapped out my course through the streets of downtown Wooster and will begin around 11am. The event T-shirts were mailed earlier this week, but mine has not yet arrived. L What a disappointment! But not to be deterred, I went to the craft supply store this evening to purchase a yellow T-shirt, fabric pens, and embroidered butterfly appliqués. I also bought yellow ribbons and made pins to give to people I encounter along my route. Though my registration fee supports the Endometriosis Research Center, the event is not a fund-raiser. It is simply to raise awareness of this often debilitating disease that affects 1 in 10 women (176 million worldwide). Here are some basic facts:

  • Endometriosis occurs when tissue normally found in the uterus grows outside of the uterus and on other organs and structures in the body.
  • Its cause is unknown, though some theories include genetics, a faulty immune system, and/or the over-production of estrogen
  • Symptoms include very painful menstrual cramps, pelvic and lower back pain, intestinal pain, infertility and fatigue.
  • There is no cure. However, the disease can be treated with pain medications, hormone treatments, and surgery.

A fact sheet with more information can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website at http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/endometriosis.pdf

I’ll post pictures from my walk tomorrow.

Until next time, peace …

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Nine month news flash

Yesterday, March 14, was my nine month anniversary with Weight Watchers. Consider my Top 10 list of what can happen in nine months.

10. An estimated 675 billion status updates on Facebook.*

9. An estimated 81 billion pictures uploaded on Facebook.*

8. Driving 60mph for 8 hours a day, one could travel 129,600 miles – more than half the distance to the moon.**

7. The hair of the average person has grown 4.5 inches.

6. Assuming a low-ball figure of 2 hours per day, a person has watched 540 hours of television.

5. At an average of 7.5 hours per night, a person has slept roughly 84 days.

4. Students can complete a full academic year.

3. Along those lines, one could complete half of an Associate’s Degree at a community / technical college.

2. A human life is formed from fertilized egg to full-term baby.

1. Robin Dillon has lost 86 pounds!

*Facebook: The Making of 1 Billion Users, Business Week, October 4, 2012.

**Earth’s Moon: Facts and Figures, NASA’s website

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Survival and the Art of Minimizing

It’s been nearly eight weeks since my surgery and over the last few weeks as I have gotten back into my normal routine, I’ve been feeling better and better. I’m still struggling with insomnia and some other menopause-related symptoms, but overall, I am doing quite well. Actually, very well. I’m so grateful to be rid of the pain that shaped my every action and interaction for too long. Since I was a teenager, the pain of endometriosis had been such a “normal” part of my existence that I couldn’t remember anything different. During the last several months as the pain got progressively worse, I felt awful, but now that I am on the other side and actually feel “good,” I am beginning to realize just how much agony I really was in. I am not a biologist or neuroscientist so I cannot explain the intricacies of the body’s sensory processing, but I do know that our bodies were created with built-in coping mechanisms to endure sometimes harsh conditions. Those coping mechanisms are good. They are necessary for survival.

As I reflect on my pain now, though, I realize how often I minimized it, unconsciously AND consciously. It was often easier to say I was “fine” than to explain what was really going on. We humans do this for many reasons: we don’t want to hear others’ solutions to our situations because, after all, they don’t really understand anyway; we don’t want people to make a fuss over us; we don’t want to be perceived as a whiner or complainer; we don’t want to admit that we are imperfect and fallible creatures who are otherwise “less than;” we don’t want to be vulnerable. So we neatly package everything and smile and try to keep moving. It’s hard to be honest – with others and ourselves. Yet honesty is critical for authentic relationships. And making time for reflection is crucial if we are to honestly assess ourselves and our situations.

As I continuously reflect on who I am, one thing I have discovered is that I am a minimizer. This can be a gift in many circumstances. It helps to maintain one’s composure and avoid over-reaction to a given situation; it gives an allusion of calm. But it can also be a detriment – in both good and difficult situations. It keeps us from reaching out for help when we need it and it hinders us from celebrating the truly good things, too. In recent weeks, as I’ve been challenged with the menopausal effects and the natural plateaus of weight loss, I have minimized my success. I’ve lost 84 pounds (as of last Friday’s weigh-in), but it will take at least another 84 pounds to reach my “ideal” weight. Some of the voices in my head say, “Really, Robin, it’s not a big deal. You’ve got a long way to go.” Yet it is a big deal. It’s a huge deal. And so I am telling that minimizer voice, “Shut up! This is something to celebrate!” I’m now just 16 pounds shy of 100. Wow. That is something to celebrate. I’m beginning to consider ways to mark the occasion and welcome any and all suggestions. I’m so grateful for your support on this journey.

Until next time, peace …

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Walking for a Cause

In my last post on Ash Wednesday, I outlined my plan for walking as a Lenten discipline. When my sister visited with me after my surgery she told me about a 5K in which she is participating this summer, so a few days into my new walking routine, I began to consider the idea of 5K, too. I wanted to participate in a 5K that would benefit a meaningful cause. I searched the internet for 5Ks in Northeast Ohio this summer. As I read through the possibilities, I started to wonder if there was a 5K for endometriosis, the disease that caused so much pain for me and that ultimately necessitated my hysterectomy. I discovered that there is indeed an upcoming walk for endometriosis – a virtual 5K. In a virtual 5K, people from around the globe participate in the event by charting their own course in their hometown or any other place of their choosing. Participants then take pictures of their event and post them to the walk’s website. So I have registered to do this virtual 5K to raise awareness for endometriosis right here in Wooster, Ohio! The date of the walk is March 23 – yes, just a few short weeks away – so I have stepped up my daily routine a bit to be ready. I’m looking forward to donning my yellow endo t-shirt that day and walking through town for a cause that is near and dear to me. I’m grateful to be pain free and well enough to participate. And my 82 pound weight loss will make the walk much easier for me, too!

March is Endometriosis Awareness month. This painful and often debilitating disease affects 1 in 10 women in their reproductive years. The cause is unknown and there is currently no cure. For more information, check out the Endometriosis Research Center (http://www.endocenter.org/) or endometriosis.org (http://endometriosis.org/endometriosis/).

Until next time, peace …

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A Lenten Discipline

Over the last several months I have shared from my heart about the ups and downs of my weight loss journey. Admittedly, it’s much easier to write about the successes, but in the spirit of honesty and humility, I confess that I have not been eating well over the last several days. Today I woke up to the sound of my stomach growling. I generally don’t wake up hungry, but I think my ravenous appetite this morning is an effect of my recent eating habits. I have not been tracking my meals, and though last week I reminded myself that I have come a long way and should be gracious with myself during my recovery, I realize I have been too lax. It’s like a child who has been diagnosed with some serious condition and is excused for her bad behavior because of her illness. I’ve eaten cookies and chocolate and breads and other assorted goodies over the last week or so to give myself comfort. I’ve not done this mindlessly. I gave myself permission to do it, but now I need to get back on track. I stepped on the scale this morning and I’ve gained 5 pounds. Yep, 5 pounds. Eeek! I recognize that some of this may be related to my sudden menopause, but I cannot allow the good habits I established over the last several months to blow up in a hot flash. So this morning I decided to take some action.

Until today my weight loss has solely been the result of changed eating habits. When I started this journey, I knew that I could only make one major behavior change at a time so until now I have not engaged in any organized fitness routine. Prior to my surgery I made a commitment to myself that once I was fully recovered, I would add exercise to my program. Since today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season in which we should be more disciplined, I decided to start walking. My doctor encouraged walking so this is something I AM allowed to do until I am fully recovered in a few weeks.

With determination this morning, I grabbed my iPhone and looked at some of my music playlists. I decided to start with the “confirmation class” playlist. This is a list of songs selected by Oak Chapel’s confirmation students last year for use during the worship service when they were confirmed. These six songs by Francesca Battistelli, Moriah Peters and Rebecca St. James totaled 22 minutes. I went to the basement (which is the full size of my house and virtually empty!) and walked laps for the full 22 minutes, singing those songs and praying for those students and others at my church. It was energizing. Now I certainly don’t want to “push” it and exhaust myself before returning to work next week, but 22 minutes of walking each day won’t hurt me. As I walked and prayed, I decided to add one song to this list each week which will increase my daily walking by 3 – 4 minutes each week. By Easter I’ll be walking about 50 minutes per day. As the end of Lent approaches I can then decide how my fitness routine will continue.

After my walk this morning, I sent an e-mail to my two dear friends who encouraged me on this journey even before I made it public. One of them responded, “Maturity comes not from never slipping, but from taking responsibility for those things that are part of the rhythm of our journey, and addressing them with honesty.” How true. It’s something to consider not only during this penitential season of Lent, but as we continue to grow and become the people God created us to be.

Until next time, peace …

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I’m Only Human

This week was a bit of a weight loss challenge for me. I’m finally feeling better after my hysterectomy, but I am not yet back to work or into my normal routine and I don’t yet have the physical stamina to DO a whole lot. It’s been somewhat frustrating and I found myself just wanting to EAT. A LOT. I ate almost anything that was not nailed down. It wasn’t mindless eating as I might have done in the past. This was intentional eating. I was well aware of the choices I was making. That chocolate bar was a comfort to me. Well, actually, not one chocolate bar. I had a few Skinny Cow chocolate bars this week. And I’m not really sorry that I did. However, I did try to balance it out with several servings of vegetables each day. The result? No gain this week, thankfully, but no loss either.

It would have been nice to reach the 80-pound mark this week, but I continue to remind myself of the big picture. I posted a note on my refrigerator yesterday, “Be gracious to yourself, Robin. Look how far you have come!” I’m 79 pounds healthier than I was last June. And once I am back into my normal daily routine I know that number will grow.

Last week I received an e-mail from Weight Watchers about their “I’m Only Human and I Did It” project inviting members to share their stories via video in an effort to motivate others. Yesterday I created my video and uploaded it to the project site on YouTube. I’m including the link below. I encourage you to watch not only my story, but the stories of countless others who are on this journey.

Until next time, peace …


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