Thursday, January 3, 2008


It's that time of the month. Again. Big Sigh.

I'm bloated. I'm cramping. I'm crabby. I'm retaining fluid (and what feels like everything I ate over the holidays!) And my sweat pants just don't seem to be doing the trick. The hot pad that I put on my stomach did little to relax my cramps, and I definitely need something way way stronger than ibuprofen.

I would make myself a stiff drink, but I'm afraid of liver poisoning (with all the Tylenol and Motrin). So hot tea, a hot pad, and Motrin every 4 hours it is. Super!

And boy - am I a pleasant person to be around! (Actually, Nathaniel said that - "give the circumstances" - I'm doing rather well. Yea! That's surely a record - please make note of that!)

This actually started three days ago, on the 1st. Happy New Year Marit.

I woke up relaxed and excited about the new year, had a great breakfast and morning with my folks and Nathaniel, hopped on the bike, and then it hit me.

It started first with the cramps. Great. They got steadily worse during the shower and afterwards while watching Women's Downhill Ski Racing. The stress associated with packing up my bike for the flight home, and leaving my parents - who I love dearly - didn't help. By Tuesday night, I was a bloated, blubbery mess, tearful about leaving Mom and Dad, stressed out about traveling with the bike (who doesn't get stressed about taking their bike on flights?), and my cramps made me feel as though my uterus was being twisted and turned in every which direction.

Or in a vice.

Take your pick.

Either way, it was not good.

Tuesday night after I finished packing, I chanced a peek at my ankles. One of my worst fears was confirmed (the others being sharks, ghostly reflections in mirrors. oversleeping a practice, and the cancellation of "Survivor") - my ankles were retaining fluid. My calves were no longer shapely. My feet and ankle area had an odd, bloated look about them - I was retaining fluid big time. I no longer had distinct and separate feet, ankles, and calves. They had all formed into one gigantic glob.

I had cankles.

This has happened to me before: after long flights, after eating an entire bag of Honey Mustard Onion Pretzel Pieces after Gulf Coast 1/2 IM, after sitting for hours typing my thesis... it's not that much of a problem, and it doesn't bother me too much, however it's just something that I've always been conscious about.

Nothing says I'm an in-shape triathlete like fat ankles.

I first really noticed my cankles after a hellish 40 hour flight from Denmark. I had just finished rowing at the Under 23 World Rowing Championships, and was trying to make my way home. After the cancellation of several flights, the missing and changing a few other flights, taking a shuttle bus from JFK to Newark (the only time I've been to downtown NYC), I missed a late connection from St. Louis to Minneapolis, and ended up sleeping at the airport. I had no money, a set of cumbersome oars, and wanted only to get home and recover from my recent adventure.

I ate airport food, scrounged as many snacks from the vending machine that I could afford, and half-slept, propped against my carry-on luggage. My body wasn't happy, and my ankles rebelled. They ballooned up, revealing their true anger against my missed flights, salty food, and lack of sleep.

They had a mind of their own. They were evil!

After returning from Denmark, my cankles were the worst that I had ever seen them. My doctor said it was a combination of factors that caused them to react the way they did: fluid imbalance, lots of sitting, lack of sleep, etc etc, genetics, etc etc, poor circulation, etc etc. A plethora of factors that combined to form the cankles of a century.

A few days ago, when I snuck a peek at my legs while changing into my pjs, I noticed unusually shaped ankles. My period, combined with holiday food, salty treats, and little sleep had made my ankles unhappy. I sighed, and pulled on my compression socks, knowing that 5 or 6 hours of flights the next morning would not be great.

Yesterday at Panera Bread in the Atlanta airport, Nathaniel remarked that I was doing, "unusually well, given the circumstances."

He was right. My cramps were awful, my ankles were swelling and fat, and the stress of wondering would my bike arrive safe and sound were all making me a stress-monster. So my body did what it's done in the past: reserve anything and everything it could - preparing for the imminent disaster that it was sure would come.

After an hour delay in Atlanta, we finally arrived home - safe and sound. (No plane crash! Yea!!) I gave Tabbitha a big hug, took another dose of Motrin, and scrambled into my flannel pjs. I briefly debated removing my compression socks, but saved the deed until after making a cup of orange spice tea.

And then the moment arrived.

I told Nathaniel to stay in the living room - that I had to do something in the bedroom. He gave me a strange look.

"Are you okay?" he asked, brows furrowed.

"I'm fine. I'm just taking the socks off and don't want you to see my legs."

Obviously he knows me well, as he didn't bat an eyelash. He just nodded, hid his grin, and returned to his unpacking. He's all-too-familiar with my cankle woes (but loves me in spite of them - just they way I am).

I entered the room, closed the door, and mentally prepared myself. Period + holiday food + long flight + lack of sleep + stress + no am workout = major cankles. I knew what I was about to discover and was trying to prepare myself in any way possible. One sock was wrestled down my leg, and then the other. The effort wasn't too great, as the socks had been stretched out a bit. I know that it's probably very "old-lady-like" of me to wear compression socks - but hey, whatever works, right?

And then my cankles emerged. I sighed. It wasn't as bad as I thought - but then again, I'm a bit of a pessimist. Glass-is-half-empty, the-plane-will-crash, I-will-be-eaten-by-a-shark! But they weren't all that great, either. They were there, they were fat, they looked like big and sturdy ankles. Ankles from my East European heritage.

I certainly couldn't wear the cute, green, polar bear boxer shorts with these boats - no, my cankles would be hidden in flannel. And slippers.

I poked the skin, and saw a brief white finger print remain. Ah - a sure sign of fluid retention. My legs and ankles felt stiff, bloated, and I knew that a sure way of helping my cause would be to go for a quick run.

But I was tired. I had awful stomach cramps. I felt grimy and gross from the airplane and breathing recycled farts. And all I wanted to do was to cuddle down in bed with a good book (current read is "Atonement" - which I'm doing before I see the movie), hot tea in hand and Tabbitha by my side.

So I choose option numero two.

Now it's a day later. My cankels are mostly gone - the 14 hours of sleep probably helped. But I still feel bloated and gross from my period. If anyone is interested in a uterus - mine is totally available. I'm not very happy with it right now - as the Motrin is wearing off (yet again).

Luckily, in a few days this will all be over. In the meantime, I'll cuddle with Tabbitha and my book, sip lots of tea, and take my usual dose of Motrin. And maybe get a new pair of compression socks, as the old ones have been stretched. And they no longer compress. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for more medicine, and a hot pad. And maybe some chocolate - the dark "healthy" kind. Hopefully that'll help too.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to say something about carbonated beverages!

Pedergraham said...

Yes, chocolate fixes everything! I believe that. P.S. My daughter is fascinated with the photo of you sitting in the tub with your clothes on...

Hope you feel better soon.

BreeWee said...

Giggle, giggle, I am laughing at how detailed this post is! It is cracking me up and I am laughing out loud! Partly because I got a miracle! After having Kainoa the monthly pains went away- serious, some moms get lightened times of the month- not a good excuse to have a baby, but at least now I can read this post and laugh!
I still get a bit fatigued though... and just an idea, I use the St. Johns mood tea (some use it for depression) but it really lightens the mood and fatigue like wonders! AND corn flakes! I am serious! There is something in corn flakes that is supposed to help women during that fun time of the month... BEST of luck- have a "fun" week :)

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Thanks for the comments everyone - sorry if this post is "too detailed!" Sorry for grossing you out.... but I figure that I'm not the only one out there. Oh well. Today I"m A LOT better - workouts, back on my usual schedule, and lack of said cramps has worked wonders! Not quite ready for the kid thing, though... but I'll certainly try the St. Johns tea - sounds great! Again, sorry for grossing anyone out... to find out more about cankles - watch the movie "Shallow Hal" - cankles are mentioned. :) Have a great Friday everyone!