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    Resident Cancer #1: A Ganglion Cyst

    [box type=”info”]Disclaimer: This post may contain scattered thoughts, ramblings and graphic imagery. Reader discretion is advised. The names of people have been changed to protect their identity, for my own amusement and/or mostly likely because I can’t remember them. Their new names will probably only makes sense to me. Try not to read too much into it.[/box]

    A Ganglion Cyst

    I guess we can start this with a flashback. It was probably sometime in 2013 when I discovered an oddity in my left wrist. When I first noticed it, all I could tell was that my left wrist felt different than my right wrist. It was a little harder and not quite as level. I’d fallen a couple of weeks prior and I’d used my hands to break the fall. Had I fractured my wrist? It didn’t hurt. Surely, if I had fractured my wrist it would hurt, right? I wasn’t overly concerned about it but I brought it up the next time I saw my doctor. She told me it was most likely a ganglion cyst (apparently using a bible to smash and rupture them is a thing. I’m glad I didn’t try that. I might have ACTUALLY fractured my wrist.), that they were common and referred me to an orthopedic specialist.

    I made an appointment, had my wrist X-rayed and their diagnosis was the same. It’s a ganglion cyst. Dr. Horrible Boss told me he could remove it with surgery. {insert panic attach here} I hate doctors, I hate hospitals. I’ve never had surgery and the only time I had to stay in the hospital overnight was when I had my son. I was so uncomfortable, I couldn’t sleep and requested to leave a day early. Getting released was such a hassle. You know what? I’ll save THAT story for another day. Back to my panic attack. Surgery scared the shit out of me. Dr. Horrible Boss said it would be out patient and that I’d go home that day. He then ended by letting me know if the cyst didn’t hurt or bother me, I could leave it. Done! That’s all I needed to hear. I left and didn’t think about it again. That is, until it started growing.

     

    Growing Discomfort

    Fast forward to June 2015. The lump in my wrist had grown. While it wasn’t painful, it was starting to be annoying and uncomfortable. After a lot of deliberating I decided to just get it over with and have it removed. I scheduled my surgery for mid July.

    I wasn’t allowed to eat the night before and had to remove all my jewelry. Taking out my tongue ring is no biggie while taking out my lip ring is always a bitch. As I was getting undressed and prepping for surgery, I broke down and started crying. (Hello panic, it’s you again.) My husband tried to calm me down but anxiety doesn’t care. They knocked me out with drugs and I didn’t wake up until in recovery. The surgery itself was 30-40 minutes. It was pretty weird waking up with my arm bandaged up, knowing it had all been said and done. They kept an eye on me for about an hour, gave me a coke, and told me not to eat anything too greasy or fatty. I gave that idea the finger and requested to have lunch at Giordano’s. I stress eat, and pizza is definitely a comfort food. I didn’t puke. So worth it.

     

    Feeling useless. #surgery #ganglioncyst

    A post shared by Desirai (@desirai) on

    Removing The Stitches

    After the surgery I was forced to wear a bandaged splint. It didn’t hurt much but the feeling of stitched skin pulling kind of sucked. Getting through the 10 days to my next follow-up was difficult. If I could forget about it I was ok, however the panic attack struggle was real. At least once a day I freaked out about the pins and needles in my arm. What if I never got the feeling back? What if it doesn’t heal right? A co-worker recommended taking vitamin B supplements to aid in recovery. Being able to take some sort of action made me feel better.

    When it was finally time for my follow-up I practically ran there. Dr. Horrible Boss’ apprentice (what do they call them?) removed my stitches while I held my eyes tightly shut and faced the opposite direction. She applied some sticker stitches and then wrapped it in an ace bandage. Good lord it felt so much better after that! If you listen to the podcast you’ll remember me talking about it here: http://themommygamers.com/2015/08/episode-98-one-armed-ninja/

     

    Before I left, Dr. Horrible Boss mentioned the cyst was sent to a pathologist in Orlando. He claimed this was normal and something they did after every surgery. However, the pathologist didn’t feel comfortable diagnosing it, so they sent it to Harvard Medical School to be looked by someone with more experience. I decided not to jump to conclusions and waited to hear back from Harvard.

    The Big C

    A couple weeks later I had another follow-up. They wanted to check on the mobility of my wrist and how I was healing. The scar a was a little itchy, but outside of that I was doing well.

     

    The pathology report had come back from Harvard, and it wasn’t what any of us were expecting. ‘The appearance and immunophenotype fit very well with metastatic malignant melanoma.’

    Dr. Horrible Boss had lots of questions. How long had I had the cyst? Was there any history of cancer in my family? Have I had many severe sunburns? Have I noticed any questionable moles? I answered each of his questions. He struggled to understand the diagnosis. The cyst had been growing in my wrist for over two years before I opted to have it removed. Wouldn’t there have been more signs? It just didn’t make sense.

    Before I left, the Dr. ran through a few different scenarios with me. I got into my car and cried. I was under the strong impression that I might have to have my arm amputated.

    Malignant Melanoma Harvard

    Cancer. It’s been 5+ months since that office visit and I’m no closer to identifying with that word. It’s hard to say “I have Cancer.” I feel like a fraud. Physically I feel fine. Shouldn’t I feel sick?

    There’s so much more to say; so much more to cover. I’d been holding off on telling people. I really wanted them to be wrong, but we’re passed that now. I’m writing this post (and hopefully others) as a way to cope with what’s happening, to prevent feeling so alone, and as a way to update those that care about me in some form or other. So for now, you can expect a Resident Cancer series.

    Why Resident Cancer? Well, ‘My Cancer Journey’ and ‘Living With Cancer’ sounded super cliché. Eventually my gamer brain kicked in, and with Resident Evil being one of my favorite series about a spreading disease, it just made sense. I’ll be playing catch up with my first few posts. I hope you’ll stay with me while I deal with the things that happen next.

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    Sweaty Bands Review

    cheetahlicious

    Sweaty Bands – What are they?

    I discovered Sweaty Bands thanks to the expo associated with Chicago’s Hot Chocolate 15/5K run during the first weekend of November (yes, I had to take a break from my Extra Life marathon to go). They are, basically, headbands designed for active people. They come in thick or thin, and the website boasts about 900 different designs, from animal prints to blinged-out styles. Prices range between about $10-$20, with the wide ones being on the higher end, but the ones you like will probably run $12 or higher. The company also offers a “Tailgate Collection” with team colors and lets you create custom Sweaty Bands for fundraisers or companies. At a slightly cheaper price point, you can purchase a “Mystery Grab Bag” for $7.50, which nets you a randomly-chosen headband that might be slightly damaged or irregular, or of an older style. Sweaty Bands are also available in stores and on Amazon.com; you can locate a better selection through the website at www.sweatybands.com.

    How do they work?

    I have no idea. I mean, they’re headbands, right? The big selling point is that they don’t slip. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why they work. My guess is that the velvet that lines the inside provides a certain amount of traction that keeps the headband in place. You put the thing on your head, and it stays there. This works whether you’re wearing it on your forehead near the hairline, or on top of your head. Elastic makes it stretchy to fit around your big noggin.

    Do they really perform as advertised?

    Yes, they do! I bought one thick band (blue) and one thin one (sparkly and brown), and wore them to my dance classes – Zumba, including a full two-hour Zumba Jammers dance party (a Jammer is a certified Zumba instructor that specializes in creating choreography and holds jam sessions), and S.W.A.G. (think of it as hip-hop Zumba with songs you actually know from the radio). Although once or twice I adjusted my headband due to a minor amount of slippage, neither ever fell off or even felt too loose! I’m the type of chick who never wears ponytails, because I look pretty stupid in them, and I’ve never worn headbands because I can’t find any that would stay on through a high-impact workout – until now. To my surprise, the wider one worked better for me than the thinner one.

    Is there anything else I need to know?

    Sweaty Bands are hand-washable and designed to hang dry. I have already accidentally machine-washed my brown sparkly one, which got mixed in with my dirty workout clothes when I dumped them into the washer, and it seems fine.

    Final Thoughts

    File these cool fitness accessories under “things you never knew you needed but now can’t live without.” Yes, they’re a bit pricey. And I found that despite looking at something like 500 different Sweaty Band styles at once, I still couldn’t find the style I wanted (a simple hot pink to match the stripe in my cross-trainers). But still, Sweaty Bands come in some super-cool designs and they’re my new best friends.

    Bonus Video!

    I just love S.W.A.G., short for Sweat With A Groove, but chances are you’ve never heard of it because it’s totally local. I’m sure Mike and Ceci, its founders, would love to make it as popular as Zumba. So here’s a little sample for you, thanks to a video that features Mike and a few of the people I work out with every week, representin’ at the Beats Provoke Movement studio in Skokie, Ill.

    Scientists: 10 years. Gamers: 10 days.

    Foldit_smallWhen people scoff at you for gaming, show them this: in 10 days, gamers helped Washington University scientists decipher the structure of an HIV-like enzyme that they’ve been struggling with for over 10 years.

    Scientists have been studying the M-PMV retroviral protein for 10 years in the hope that by learning how this protein works, they can also learn more about HIV/AIDS and possibly work towards a cure. One of the ways scientists study proteins is by folding. The shape of the protein helps to determine its bonds, and tells scientists what it can do, and what drugs may help to counteract them.

    Foldit is a puzzle game that attempts to use our pattern-recognition, puzzle-solving, and intuitive abilities to help this process along. As living, thinking beings we can make leaps of faith or intuition that computers can’t. By harnessing these organic abilities, the Foldit team also hopes to be able to “teach” computers to be able to do the same.

    So after 10 years of nothing, a biologist at Washington University sent the 3D model of M-PMV to Foldit, just to see if any headway could be made. Using distributed computing, players came through!

    “The critical role of Foldit players in the solution of the M-PMV [retroviral protease] structure shows the power of online games to channel human intuition and three-dimensional pattern-matching skills to solve challenging scientific problems,” said the study, which was published by Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. “Although much attention has recently been given to the potential of crowdsourcing and game playing, this is the first instance that we are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem.” – Seth Cooper, Washington University computer scientist and lead designer and developer of Foldit

    This is probably the highest and best use of games: saving lives.

    Source: ZME Science

     

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    Dance Battle vs The Married Gamers

    Challenge_accepted

     

    When you get off track with your fitness goals it can be hard to get motivated to get back into the swing of things. As a gamer, that competitive blood that burns in our veins can be just the motivation we need. With that said, I bring to you…bad dancing in the guise of exercise, and great friends to keep you tracking.  If you’re confused, stick with me here, there will be an explanation and a ridiculous video of me dancing.

    Kelly at TheMarriedGamers issued a challenge last week in her Get Fit Friday segment. This was a challenge she and I had talked about, one I had said I was on board with…but I dropped the ball. So this past Friday she put out yet another challenge, not to be deterred by my laziness. The challenge for this week is:

    Dance at least 10 songs in a row from the list. Post your top TWO scores. Make sure to do your songs at either medium or hard difficulty.

    The songs:

    • Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg (DC3)
    • Da’ Butt (DC3)
    • Disco Inferno (DC3)
    • Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) (DC3)
    • Ice Ice Baby (DC3)
    • Now That We Found Love (DC3)
    • The Hustle (DC3)
    • Baby Got Back (Mix Mix) (DC3)
    • Brick House (DC)
    • Bust a Move (DC)
    • Funkytown (DC)
    • Jungle Boogie (DC)
    • Rump Shaker (DC)
    • The Humpty Dance (DC2)
    • This is How We Do It (DC2)

    The funny part of this is, that Desirai and her husband danced to the songs from LAST week and posted their scores. Good on them for getting some bonus exercise in!

    Here is what we need from our community. Post your scores in the comments section. We know that we are much better dancers than  The Married Gamers, and we will show it with amazing scores.

    Here is me, dancing:

     

    Ok, so that’s not me. That is MightyMeCreative, the guest host on Episode 39 of The Mommy Gamers Podcast. Because I have no shame, I will show the real video of me dancing to the Humpty Dance. Feel free to outdance me and share your scores, or your videos.

     

    Graze.com Delivers Healthy Snacks To Your Door

    Graze.com

    Penpal-ing. Did any of you ever do that? I used to love getting letters, stickers, and small gifts in the mail. You should see how happy I get when my amazon packages arrive. Some (my husband) would say I’m even a little obsessive about checking the mail. I’ve sent him out to check it 3 or 4 times in one day. Feeling the way I do about receiving mail, it’s no wonder I love subscription services so much. I actually just joined another one. Enter Graze.com. Graze delivers assorted healthy snacks to you door for only $5 a week. I talked a little about it to Marcia and Elaine during our last podcast, Episode 28: Sharing My Box and also in Episode 30 (not out yet).

    When I first signed up for Graze I was given 4 codes to invite friends. However, it seems they are growing so quickly they actually took 3 of my invites back! They explain on their site:

    [quote]Why Can I Only Invite One Friend?
    graze is new and space is very limited, but you can invite one lucky friend to join graze. If you’ve already invited someone, for now your invite code won’t work, but as soon as we have more space, we’ll let you know.[/quote]

    Unfortunately, at this point, it might be tough to get an invite. But keep an eye on Graze.com if you feel having healthy snacks delivered is something you might be interested in. Everything I’ve received from them so far has been delicious, unique, and definitely interesting!

    Fitbit “Flex”es Its Muscles

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    Let’s talk about fitness trackers for a hot minute here. Personally, I’ve used one as a motivator to get me moving since having my second baby. My device of choice was the original Fitbit. Since getting my first device, Fitbit has improved on their original design with a line of new trackers, all of which look wonderful. But it’s one model in particular that has my attention: the Fitbit Flex. Following in the footsteps of the Jawbone UP and the Nike Fuel Band, the Fitbit Flex is a tracker that you wear on your wrist like a bracelet, instead of on your hip the way you would wear a standard pedometer. According to Fitbit, the Flex will be able to track steps, distance, calories and sleep. It will also have a silent wake alarm as well as having the added bonus of being water resistant.

    The reason I haven’t bought either the Jawbone UP or the Nike Fuel Band is simple. Neither device had exactly what I wanted. The Nike Fuel Band doesn’t track sleep (and thus has no alarm capabilities). The Fuel Band seems to do a wonderful job with everything else, but I have consistent problems with insomnia and figuring out my sleep patterns is particularly important to me. My major issues with the Jawbone UP are the build quality (lots of complaints of breakage), as well as the fact that the device doesn’t sync wirelessly. Remembering to put a device on a cradle or attach it to a cable is something I am terrible at. The Flex fixes both of my major issues with the devices currently on the market. I get sleep tracking and wireless sync. I also get what I consider to be the best part of Fitbit, its online tracking tools. I’ll be checking out the Fitbit Flex when it hits the market this Spring for $99. What about you? Are you interested in a fitness band?

    Considering the Flex? Let us know how you feel about these types of trackers in the comments!

    Mommy Gaming and Fitness: A Juggling Act

    photo credit: diametrik via photopin cc

    Aside from child rearing, which is not for the faint of heart, I have a very active lifestyle. On a typical day, after my spawn is fast asleep, I’m doing intervals. I switch it up between walking and sprinting through thick forests, snowy mountains, and dark caves. I walk up to monsters ready to attack and sometimes I sprint away from bosses who are out to kill me. I am constantly on the go, never still. Oh except for my actual butt that is planted comfortably on my sofa. Insert large sigh here.

    Society expects two things from the female gamer. We are to be either grotesquely overweight and ugly or stunningly beautiful with gigantic breasts and a tiny waist. Now I will admit, that the latter is probably never going to happen for me but I’d hate to live up to my potential of becoming an ogre. Which means, that I have to find a way to fit in a healthier lifestyle than just sitting on my butt fighting evil, eating junk food, and drinking Arbor Mist*. Hey, Arbor Mist is yummy and its cheapness means I can buy more!

    So how does a Mommy Gamer find the motivation to fit an exercise routine into her already busy life?

    • You could hire a personal trainer. Try to find one that has similar interests to your own if possible. Otherwise, they might look at you a little funny when after the 5th burpee (I’m a low level fitness freak here!) you yell out “Ermagherd! I’m gonna wipe! Healz puleeze!” Look for a trainer with sleep deprived gamer eyes or ask to see their Gamestop card because if they don’t have one, you need to move on because really 10% off of used games IS that important.
    • You could play one of those funky dance games in your own living room! Unless you’re paranoid and believe your 360 is snapping your picture and automatically posting your picture to Facebook for all 867 (5309) of your nearest and dearest friends to see. Because that’s not embarrassing AT ALL. But forget that, you could involve the kids! Because at least then you’d be photobombed by the cutest kids EVER and no one would even notice you.
    • Here’s my favorite. Buy an exercise bike (I was lucky enough to score one for freaking FREE from Freecycle) and play your favorite racing gaming while you pedal. I like to play Mario Cart on the Wii so I can exercise my arms too! Pretend your pedaling is powering your cart and go faster for an extra boost of speed. If Yoshi doesn’t speed up, it’s because you’re not pedaling fast enough! Just don’t stop when the blue shell gets you.
    • You could also earn your gaming time. Set a number of fitness minutes per gaming minutes or say you have to exercise for 30 minutes to be granted gaming time. Just don’t work your arms too much, it’d suck to not be able to play because you did too many bicep curls.
    • Switch from your favorite beverage to water, lots of water. Every time you halt your gaming to pee, again, take a fiver to do some squats or a quick jog around the house. Then chug some more water. If you’re in the middle of a dungeon, tell your party that you’re taking a cig break or walking the dog. Somehow, they will totally forgive you.
    • Make yourself some fancy trophies or achievement badges for your accomplishments  Ooh or high scores! Challenge a gaming friend to beat your best score on your elliptical!

    Maybe you won’t turn into a center folder gamer chick, but with a little creativity, you can totally make fitness fun and fit your gaming in too. Because really, who wants to give up their favorite MMO just to become healthy? We’re just fighting the stereotype here.

    *Disclaimer: We at The Mommy Gamers believe that if you want to drink cheap wine, you should buy it in a box, not have fake Arbor Wine which is merely alcoholic soda that dresses up in a wine bottle.

    Shop Healthier With Fooducate

    Woman Food Shopping

    Getting fit and healthy can be pretty difficult for someone like me who doesn’t know what to shop for. I barely have enough time to food shop at all. And let’s be honest, stopping to read every label and do research on all the ingredients isn’t going to happen. Kudos to you if you’ve actually been able to master eating healthy. I however still have a long way to go.

    But luckily for me there are apps, like Fooducate, available (on Android and iPhone) to make the whole process easier. I actually talked a little bit about Fooducate in Episode 9: Train Wreck.

    You can use Fooducate to:

    • Automatically scan a product barcode
    • See product highlights (both good & bad)
    • Compare products
    • Select better alternatives
    • Dig deeper and learn more about food and nutrition

    Features:

    • Created by dietitians and concerned parents
    • Uses your mobile’s camera to effortlessly scan UPC barcode
    • Over 200,000 unique products and growing daily
    • Simplified information helps you make better choices
    • Works on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android OS version 2.2 and up

    [quote] “Fooducate is like taking your own personal dietitian to the supermarket.” [/quote]

    Fooducate analyzes information found in each product’s nutrition panel and ingredient list to show you what manufacturers don’t want you to see, such as: high fructose cornsyrup, excessive fats, confusing serving sizes, additives and preservatives and more. It then grades the product on a scale of F-A+ and goes into detail on why it received it’s score. One of the best part of Fooducate is that it’s NOT funded or influenced by food manufacturers. Using it feels a lot like taking great advice from a trusted friend.

    Do you use Fooducate or any other app to help with your food shopping?

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