Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Black Box

Because Science!

So here's a fun new thing - as of yesterday, I'm a participant in an NYU Langone study of the effect of exercise on blood glucose levels of chemo patients. One of the researchers had stopped by during my 4th infusion to see if I wanted to participate, and I said "Sure!". I'm part of the control group, who gets to just do what we usually do. Another group will be given an exercise regimen to follow. I probably couldn't have volunteered for the regimen group as the next few weeks are gonna be crazy at work, but my normal winter activity, when I can talk myself into it, is lots of walking interspersed with paddles. I say "when I can talk myself into it" 'cause although you wouldn't guess it from my "halfway through chemo" post, I'm actually such a warm-weather gal that in the wintertime, there's always a part of me that would really like to just curl up on the couch and eat cookies all winter. I try not to let that part win, though, 'cause I know I feel better when I'm keeping up at least a moderate activity level. One thing I was kind of psyched about with this study was that participants are asked to wear exercise monitors for a couple of weeks, and I thought it would be interesting to see how much I'm really doing - am I more lazy or less lazy in the winter than I think I am? - and also that seeing that might inspire me to do more.

So yesterday, I went for a 6 minute walk test (gives them a baseline fitness level - I was expecting a treadmill but they have you walk up and down a hallway around 2 cones, felt kind of silly but I guess it lets them measure how you walk naturally) and then I got my monitor during my infusion. Well - it turns out that although they understand that the control group may be inspired to be more active by being part of the study, they don't want us to be  actually looking at this doohickey and setting ourselves goals (exactly as I was thinking I would do, in fact), so they set it to a blank screen. Sort of like having a personal flight data recorder, where it tracks a bunch of stuff but you don't get to look at it. Bummer bummer bummer. Oh well, I still don't want it to go home and tell mean stories about how lazy I am, so I'm walkin' here, I'm walkin'!

Monday, February 01, 2016

Halfway through chemo!

Haven't done a cancer update for a while, 'cause basically there hasn't been anything really noteworthy to mention, but I thought I would have someone take a picture of me today to show how I'm doing here at the halfway point in my chemo treatments. Pretty well!

I actually had a whole week without a doctor's appointment last week (woohoo!), I'm done with the weekly reconstruction appointments and now I just have 4 more chemo infusions, each one 3 weeks apart. I'm glad I took the kinder, gentler of the 2 chemo options I was offered; on the one hand, I would most likely be done with the chemo at this point (4 sessions 3 weeks apart instead of 8 sessions 3 weeks apart), but from what my oncologist and her nurse said, it would have been a much more disruptive process - like I probably would not have been up for the fantastic 7.5 mile paddle I went on with friends at Sebago today, and I certainly wouldn't have been out and frolicking about the way I was on New Year's Day. There will be a 2nd operation for the reconstruction in April, after the chemo's done, and I'll have to stay off the water for a month after that (boo) but I should be able to paddle again in time for the Hokule'a's arrival in early June (that has been my main goal through all of this!) and the initial recovery from this one will be much faster than the October recovery.

I do get a slightly upset tummy for a few days after each infusion, with a couple of more intense, but isolated, gastric rebellions (mostly a matter of learning what I can and can't eat after an infusion, I really do have to go bland for a few days afterwards), and I think it may make me a little tired, but I haven't missed any work, and I've been getting out and having fun on weekends. As I think I've said before, some people have ordeals when they go through this, but at this point, I'd still rate my own experience as more of a hassle than an ordeal. So far so good! 

More pix from Sunday here. What a beautiful day on the bay! Full description of the trip over there.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

US Winter Swimming Championship, La Marina, Manhattan

It was great! They had a beautiful day for it and they swam all day. Here are a few preliminary pictures, I took about a million, of course, and haven't finished sorting them out. Also, if you'd like to learn more about the event, there was a better write-up than mine on DNA Info.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

US Winter Swimming Championships, coming to Manhattan on Saturday, January 30th!

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club heads to the water for their weekly winter swim, the day after our giant blizzard (oh yeah, some of 'em even went IN the blizzard - these folks are not easily deterred, and some of them are in training for this weekend's big event!). Photo by Deb Rabinowitz, via Polar Bear Allyson Howard. Thanks Deb and Allyson! 

Just a quick lunchtime post to share info about a really amazing event that's happening this coming Saturday (January 30th, 2016). It totally snuck up on me - I meant to post about it late last week, but better late than never. Saturday's forecast says 40 degrees and partly sunny; the Stevens Institute NYHOPS site (I love that site) shows water temperatures at the northern end of Manhattan to be in the mid to low 30's - now doesn't that just sound like the perfect conditions for a swim meet in the Hudson River? Well, it does to the fine folks at the US Winter Swimming Association, who have picked the Hudson River as the location for their 2nd annual US Winter Swimming Championships. Full details at their website. I'm going to go cheer on my friends from the Coney Island Polar Bear Club! Woohoo! Go Capri, Go Cristian, go anybody else who's competing!

Note - Oops, at the time I posted this there was no actual schedule of events on the USWSA website, but when one of my paddling friends pointed that out, Capri (The Polar Bear Princess, who's actually the one who gave me Pedro the Penguin Hat) was able to provide a tentative one: adjusted tentative schedule for next SAT JAN 30, 2016 - US Winter Swimming Association National Championship 2016 - at La Marina: SAT JAN 30, 2016
9am – registration begins 

10am – 200m free 
11am – 25m breast 
12noon – 50m free 
1pm – 50m breast 
2pm – 100m free 
3pm – 25m free 
5pm – relays

I'm always a bit amazed at these folks who actually swim in water that would stop most of us untrained mortals cold (literally) in minutes -- if you've ever read any of those cold-water safety sites over there in my sidebar, you'll know that off-season boating is something that smart boaters approach with full awareness of the hazards and an expensive (and generally garish) wardrobe of outfits designed to extend your period of functional time should you accidentally end up in the icy drink -- cold water is nothing to be messed with and the folks who actually swim all winter (not just for a New Year's Day caper) are a very special kind of athlete. I'm very excited that the championship is here this year!

For more NYC winter swimming fun/madness, check out the Coney Island Polar Bear Club on Facebook or at Polarbearclub.org.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Brooklyn Blizzard - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, CHEESE!

Yesterday - 
 Today -

And tomorrow? Well, no pictures of that yet, for some reason, but with the city having had a full day to clean up and a nice south wind bringing in some warmer temperatures tomorrow, I'm fully expecting a normal commute & work day.

TQ works for the NYC Parks Department and he was called in at oh-dark-thirty to help with the cleanup. Go Parks Dept. and Sanitation and anybody else involved in Shovel-out Sunday! I had a nice quiet day, though - slept in, then decided to walk over to the Food Co-op where they usually have the pasteurized, just pasteurized, not ultra-pasteurized milk that I've been getting for my ongoing experiments in cheesemaking. I wasn't sure they'd have any, New Yorkers tend to do the same crazed buying of bread and milk as people do in less populous areas, but I figured I'd go see what the situation was, and if nothing else, I would get a good walk out of it. Which I did. Lovely day in Midwood and Ditmas Park. 

 When I got to Cortelyou Road, I was amazed to find that the Cortelyou Road Greenmarket was actually open for business!
 Only 2 vendors, understandably, but I was surprised anyone had made it. I'd only planned on getting milk, but since these two had made the trip down, I figured I'd do a little more shopping. 

 Rogowski Farms was selling all her root veggies for two dollars a pound, so I got a pound each of carrots, potatoes and beets.

 I got cider and eggs from the Knoll Crest gentleman. Even if the co-op didn't have milk, now this trip was worth the time,in addition to being the nice walk I'd hoped for. 
Food co-op was stocked as though nothing had ever happened, so I got my milk and headed for home. Little bit more of a hike with so many groceries, but I need the exercise!

Got home, had an eggs-cellent breakfast sandwich with a greenmarket egg (very fresh and good!), tomato, Serrano ham and grated romano cheese, then curled up on the Evil Futon of Nap with The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Naturally this led to a nap, because that is what the Evil Futon of Nap does, no matter how much I'm enjoying the book. This wasn't a bad one, only about 40 minutes, I woke up, read for a bit more and then decided it was time to get going on my cheesemaking. I collected the stuff and then realized that I didn't have rubber gloves (I'd decided to try mozzarella again and that involves kneading and pulling the cheese at 135 degrees) or bottled water (even NYC's wonderful tap water has chlorine in it, which will stop your cheese from cheesing) so I went out to get some -

and immediately came back for my camera, because there was a fine sunset going on, one of those pretty pink-and-blue ones.  

Came home and made my cheese. Mozzarella, 2nd try, came out delicious - first time I'd accidentally gotten 2% milk, which you can still use to make cheese; this time I got whole milk, plus I worked it a little bit less and left a little more whey in so it came out creamier, tenderer, and moister than my last mozzarella (which was my first ever cheesemaking attempt, and was pretty good, but a tiny bit rubbery - I think I fixed that this time). 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Brooklyn blizzard -

Yes, we are having a little snow today. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Happy Bloggiversary, Frogma Blog!

Well, goodness, first I was going to do a post about cheesemaking, because January 20th is National Cheese Lover's Day and I have a bunch of pictures of my end-of-2015 first-time-ever cheesemaking session that I haven't shared yet - but I'm tired from a very late night at work and there were a lot more pictures than I realized, so then I wasn't going to post at all, but then I happened to look back to earlier in this blog and discovered that, goodness gracious, it was on this day 11 years ago that I first launched this blog. I missed the blog's 10th year celebration last year 'cause I was on a fabulous sailing trip in the Caribbean and I'm neither committed enough nor technologically advanced enough to blog on vacation - but here I am and here this blog still is, 11 years later, so here's a quick post to say "Woohoo!"


 Amazing what a little interaction with other people does - over the years, I have tried diary-keeping from time to time, I mean old-school pen-and-ink style, but I don't think any diary I ever started made it past the first month. Lots more fun doing it online though.

Here was my first post ever - if you aren't already in the know about where I got the name for this blog, that tells the story.

And in case anyone's bummed about the lack of cheesemaking, don't worry, there will be a belated National Cheese Lover's Day post soon.