Getting My Groove Back

Hello, my Courage Friends!
I know, I’m seriously overdue in giving you an update, aren’t I? I had my DIEP flap procedure in March and then my revision surgery to fix a few problems here and there as well as the first stage of nipple reconstruction. I am so happy to be able to tell you that both surgeries were absolute successes, and after so many failures, it is amazing to feel whole again.

I’m going to post more about the surgeries and how things are shortly, but this is a post I just can’t put off (or else I’ll never do it at all!). Years of immobility and physical restrictions due to surgical complications have left me completely out of shape. I started my surgeries weighing 130 pounds, and at my heaviest in March I weighed 180 pounds. That’s 50 pounds! That’s A LOT of weight! I’ve gotten back down to 160 just by being able to enjoy simple movement, but I still have 30 pounds to go. I also have severe muscle weakness, no flexibility, and fear that if I don’t fix this now I will have difficulty walking and doing simple things as I get older. Passing the 40 year mark really makes a difference in recovery time, or at least it has for me, and I want to stop getting weaker and start getting stronger! And awesomer! LOL.

Courage Is My Strength, my blog

What a difference 50 pounds makes! Left is me at one of my lower weights, the right is me at my heaviest (with my dear friend Tiffaney).

I’ve made a lot of huge adjustments in my life lately. No more coffee. No more Coke (I’m from Georgia, so Coke means any kind of bubbly yummy sugary drink). I’ve been making smoothies (actually, Jon has been making them for me) and I try to replace one or two meals a day with them. I no longer take antidepressants or any other prescription medication. I’m currently taking Betaine HCL to help with a new GERD problem and it’s helped tremendously. I have walked away from my full time job at the medical office and I’m working part time and focusing on my schooling for Certified Medical Assistant and Certified Medical Office Manager. I’m also developing a new project and event that I can’t wait to tell you about, but I’m just not ready to share that secret yet.

All in all, I’m feeling better than I have in a very long time. Except that I find it hard to move my body, and that just won’t do!

I have sat down and researched all of the videos and links I’ve been keeping for the day when I can start exercising again. I have developed a little 30 day exercise program for myself, and I’m sharing it with you in case there are others out there that want someone to work out with while remaining in your own home! I’m going to post the first week for you in a moment.

I just did today’s workout-Day One. Or at least I tried. I picked a lot of dancing routinesbecause my spine and hips are where I’m really feeling a lot of weakness and lack of movement. Instead of rolling with a sexy country girl walk (just listen to Jason Aldean

Courage Is My Strength, my blog

This bag of food weighs as much as I’ve gained since my first surgery!

and he’ll tell you all about it), I have kind of been walking like a stiff old man. So today I stared with a ‘simple’ beginners belly dance routine. Oh, my gosh. When I tried doing my snake arms I could hear my shoulders crunching. When I tried to do the camel move my hips were popping! But that’s ok! I stuck with it and did as much as I could, and I actually feel good. I also have some moves that I need to practice in the privacy of a locked door and a mirror, but I am going to nail those snake arms and camels if it’s the last thing I do!! I have to remember, it’s taken 4 years for me to get this out of shape, so it’s going to take a while for my body to remember how to move again, and to build up endurance and muscle. My physical therapist also told me that I have a spatial problem, all of the nerve and muscle damage to my chest and arms has put my nerve connections out of whack and my brain hasn’t quite figured out where all of my parts are at any given time. Exercise will help, although relearning is a bitch. But I’m working on it, and I’m not going to give up! And if you’re trying it with me, please let me know!

Speaking of letting me know! My old email address ( was inundated with spam mail and I couldn’t get it to stop no matter what nifty tricks I tried. So I shut down that email address. If you use the new Contact Me button you will reach me. If you have tried to email me and received an error email back, you were trying the old address so please try me again!

Thank you all for everything! I promise I’ll be in touch soon!

Week One Workout!

Days 1, 3, and 5

Days 2, 4, and 6

The first video isn’t in English, but it’s easy to follow along.


  1. Congratulations on your decision to be stronger! I am totally doing this with you!

  2. I will work out with you should be fun …..

  3. Debra Gayle says:

    Thanks Michele for updating your long journey. I love the exercising videos. I think I told you about me having Post Mastectomy Pain Syndrome. It is chronic and there is no cure but treatable, (that is if I can find the right treatment for me). I am in constant pain and I have done a lot of research and found a support group on Facebook where there are a lot of women who are suffering with PMPS. This is just another thing that happens and the doctors do not want to address it. It is caused from the mastectomy. I went to a physical therapist who did Myofacial Release and some massage which did help some. I now am doing my stretching and using a hand held nerve stimulator at the sternum area,around the implants and under my arms at home. I will add these exercising videos to my workout. Thanks again for all the information you have put out there. You are my Little Georgia Girl!!!!!!
    I posted this once but I guess it did not go through because I had not subscribe.

  4. Hi Michele! I just stumbled on this blog tonight, but am challenged with many of the same problems in terms of mobility and weight. I had DIEP in September and revision in November. I’m also in Colorado and have missed doing the outdoor things I love. Thanks for your courage and inspiration. Think I might try that belly dancing with you! Keep up the good work and updates!

  5. Debbie Mentler says:

    Dear Michele,
    I just sent you a little letter via your “contact me’ site. Funny I found your info about the day of your surgery and the rest of your story that you wrote on 2/21/14 right after I sent that entry. It sounds like you are doing really great, which is wonderful to hear. It makes me feel allot less anxious about this upcoming surgery in June with Dr. Sullivan for the SGAP surgery.
    Also funny I moved to South Carolina from Black Forest CO about 12 years ago. So you have traversed from south to west and I have traversed from west to south, just kinda interesting. i do miss Colorado, but I love South Carolina.
    Truly happy to hear you are doing so well. You are an absolutely beautiful woman in every respect.
    p.s. your husband sounds like a great guy and I will be telling my husband about your story so he can get an idea of what to expect.
    Thanks again Michele for your stories about your journey which have been so touching and informative and comforting all at the same time!!! You are an inspiration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Thank you so much for the blog but mostly the honest account of your journey and the pictures. I’ve had a nightmare reconstruction, deconstruction, and have decided I’m going to try DIEP. Its that or nothing! For your GERD, there are holistic treatments. I had it horribly and a friend gave me this advice,,,,get Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Dilute the ACV as follows,,,one part ACV to two parts distilled water. Anytime you have heartburn or GERD symptoms, take a small glass and pour the diluted ACV/water mix in to the glass to about 1/8 inch then fill glass about 1/3 with more distilled water. I used to take prescription GERD meds twice a day and have not used meds in 5 years doing this twice a day, particularly before bed. Good luck with your new ventures and again, my sincerest thanks.

  7. I’m so sorry you have had a hard time Shauna! I hope you have great DIEP results like I have. I am so thankful that I was able to replace all of that ‘junk’ with my own tissue. I feel so much better! I think that my GERD is caused by low stomach acid instead of high stomach acid. I have been taking HCL supplements, and it’s amazing how great it’s worked! After the first dose I felt better, and now I only have to take it once a day instead of every time I eat. Thank you for writing, and for letting me know how you are doing! Best of luck and wishes of fast healing to you!

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