Welcome to the Wandering Drays!

Not all who wander are lost...

Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Where the Sun Don't Shine

It's summer, and even though it's sunny year-round here in Cairo, for some reason summer is just different.  Hotter, for sure.  And somehow, sunnier.  As I run through the Wadi equally worshipping and hating the sun (it's very, very stifling in the desert), it reminds me to get my yearly skin check.

If you've met me, you know I'm pale.  Pale is actually a very, very polite term for my skin complexion.  Stark white, nearly-translucent.  That's more like it.  I wish I could say porcelain.  But that's a lie. It's actually pasty.  Thankfully, I do tan up a bit, and my cheeks are naturally rosy, so I really shouldn't complain.

I've always had a few freckles and moles.  But the years of loving the sun have started to catch up with me.  As a child I had multiple sun burns.  In my late teens and early twenties, I tried the fake bake of the tanning booth (something I very much regret now).  What used to be just a few freckles has grown to be a splattering of freckles all over my body.  Cute, maybe, but all signs point to sun damage.

I've had not less than ten moles removed in my adult life.  I've honestly lost count.  And of those removals, one has been 'funky', coming back as pre-cancerous.  Thankfully NOT cancerous (melanoma).  My dermatologist had to remove deep into the surrounding tissue and I've had no issues since.  But I still breath a sigh of relief whenever I think about what that could have become.  

Yearly skin check.  I had mine the other day.  I knew what to expect - it's the same every year.  Do you go in the sun? (Yes.)  Do you wear sunscreen? (Yes, sometimes.  <--- I know, I'm an RN.  I should know better.  And I do.  But honesty during your health check-ups is way more important than giving the answers you think they want to hear.)  Have you ever had any blistering sunburns in your life? (Yes.  Two as an adult; multiple as a child.)

My doc looked my skin over, head-to-toe.  It's not a comfortable appointment.  Through my hair to see my scalp.  My face, my back, my arms.  Everywhere.  She was very thorough, looking for those moles that aren't like the others.

Four.  She found four that made her say "hmmmmm."  And I was prepared; certain that it would be on my arms or my back - those areas which see the most sunlight.  Maybe even my face.  I was ready for that.

But not this time.  This time, it's where the sun don't shine.  My bum.  Nothing's awesome about having moles removed.  The needle, the lidocaine burning, the scalpel, the tingling pain after.  Laying on my stomach, I was making nervous jokes about my booty.  Slightly embarrassed, yet grateful that she found the discrepancies.  Moles I can't even see.  What might they become if she hadn't found them?  Would any of them have progressed to melanoma?  

So here I am tonight, the day after having those four moles removed from my tuckus.  And it's tender.  [Insert butt jokes here.]  Yet, jokes aside, I'm relieved that those moles were found.  Most likely, pathology will reveal that they are completely benign.  And if not, then I'll do follow-up with a dermatologist back in the States during R&R.  And next year, I'll do the same thing.  And the year after that.  And the year after that.  And the year after that.  You get the picture, right?

Consider this my PSA as a sun-loving, pale, freckly RN runner.  Get your skin checked.  Head-to-Toe.  And don't let your doc miss the areas where the sun DON'T shine.  Because she might just find something that you've been missing.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Biggest Loser, Marathon Training, and...Pinkberry!

Post 10K Wadi run this past week.  Before the sunburn set in.
I'm not gonna lie - I'm totally exhausted in this photo!
Cairo's Biggest Loser came to an end this week.  Seventeen weeks long, my minimum goal had been a weight loss of 12 pounds, my mid-goal was 16 pounds, and my it'll-probably-never-happen goal was 20 pounds.

I stepped on the scale this week, and was 15.5 pounds lighter than I was in February.  Soooo close to the mid-goal (!!), but very pleased with my results.  8 inches off my hips, 5 inches smaller in the waist.  I can now open my closet and wear anything my heart desires.  It all fits.  In fact, some of it is too big.  Not a bad excuse for some retail therapy!

And a NEW countdown commences.  I have 20 weeks until my marathon.  20 weeks!  I started a sorta-training three weeks ago, but didn't really focus too heavily since I was still so far out from the marathon.  But now it has to begin in earnest.  I'm honestly a bit frustrated that I most of my training will be on a treadmill.  I am able to do my weekly long run on Friday/Saturday in the Wadi, but dang.  EGYPT IS HOT.  Like it's already hitting 100 degrees Fahrenheit hot.  And dry.  And that sun!  While I looooove the sun, it doesn't love my very pale, very European heritage skin.  But I'll deal, one way or another.

*I have nothing to prove.  I've never run a marathon before, so just finishing it will be good enough.
*I have one hour at lunch everyday at work that I can hit the gym.  My co-workers are really supportive. The fab hubby works out with me, so I have nowhere to hide when I start thinking "I don't want to workout today."
*The fab hubby also hounds me at home about running, so on the weekends he's the one pushing me out the door.  
*I have two good friends who like to run with me.  In the Wadi.  Crazy supports crazy.
*I have a running group that meets every weekend.  If only they didn't meet at 6:15AM!  But I'll be running with them from time to time when they are doing longer distance days.

*It's hot.  I can't say it enough.  I feel crispy already.  I forgot my sunblock yesterday and my back is fried.  I'm getting too old for sunburn.  Not to mention I'm like the worst nurse example of healthy sun use.  Note to self:  sunscreen and a hat.
*The long distance (14 miles +) runs for training are going to be hard to do here.  The fab hubby says he'll follow behind me in the SUV when it comes time for those distances at the Wadi.  To beat the heat, we'll have to go early.  And I don't do early well.
*I'm NOT a natural runner. Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Now, I feel incredibly powerful when I run.  But I certainly don't look it!  And my knees and my hips are a constant reminder that I'm getting a wee bit older (notice I did NOT say OLD).

*We'll be in the U.S. for 4 weeks, mid-July through mid-August.  I'll hit the bike/hike trail near our home in Ohio and push for some long distance runs for my training.  It's a bit early on the training schedule, but I really think it will help me.
*I'll be at Ft. Carson, CO (Colorado Springs) for 2 of those weeks during our R&R for my annual Army Reserve duty time.  There will be a couple of days I can do some running, and the high altitude (6500 feet) will help with my training.  I just won't be able to do any really long distances while there.  I'll shoot for 8 miles at the most.
*The heat here will taper a little bit in September, allowing me to put a in couple of long distance training runs before my marathon.
*I'm committed to the marathon.  I fact, my airline ticket is non-refundable.  There's no turning back now!

And, oh.  On a really positive note.  Pinkberry came to Cairo.  Pinkberry!  My beloved frozen yogurt from Los Angeles.  What does this have to do with my weight loss and marathon training?  Absolutely nothing.  But it sure does make me happy.  A friend flew in and visited us this past week and we went to the movies and then Pinkberry.  It was totally divine.