Roller Derby My New Life

The Year of Firsts Part One

The clock started on May 17th, 2022. It will be the year of all the firsts without my beloved Bobby. The first month is a blur of arrangements, tasks, dealing with money, meetings with strangers. It went by so very fast and so very slow. Ended up in the Hospital for 4 days with COPD flare, probably triggered by stress and grief. The second month was getting back to work, back to a routine that was completely foreign to me. All my time was spent working around Bobby’s dialysis and transplant schedule. I had very little time to think about anything else. I was consumed with just getting through each day, each week, each appointment, what to about food, how to keep up with Theo. I had time for little else. I spent evenings just reading some books to relax before bed. Taking Theo for walks and trying to make him comfortable with us.

What do I do with all the time? I have Theo but I don’t have appointments and driving back and forth to dialysis 3 times a week. I only have to feed myself. This is an ongoing adjustment. Sometimes I just sit and do nothing as I can’t figure out what I want to do. I couldn’t read, or watch tv really, I just left it on reruns of shows I watched the past few years working from with COVID going on. I did start cooking, eating out was old and expensive and suddenly I have extra bills and not the income that was paying for them. I was not prepared for this. How do you even prepare for something like this. You don’t. It is not possible, you cannot even fathom what it is like until you live through it.

I have slowly begun to get into a new routine, it is much harder than you realize. Work helps but still so much more time to do something with. Thankfully my kids all pitched in and helped me clean out my house. Still some things to do but it is so much better and has brought me much peace. It has been a summer of project after project with the help of friends, neighbors and family. Being busy is best, it helps.

And then you discover Netflix, oh my goodness. I have joined the millions of people binge watching shows. Yikes, then I find out one series is going off of Netflix and here I am double binge watching! At least it has pulled me out of the sitting and staring at reruns.

September is around the corner and it will bring with it the trading in of my cars to get just one that works for me, the first Texans games that I will attend without him. Parting with his Expedition Max is hard, way harder than I thought it would be. But that is because it was his, we may have shared it but it was his ride. The last couple of years I was the one that drove it with him in it but I still considered it his. The dealer I go to is working up a deal to help me get this part of the things out of the way and clear up some debt that I hope will bring up my credit score.

Memorial
Family, Roller Derby My New Life

Transplant Journey that wasn’t

At the Rodeo, Happiest Day of the year 2022

Oh what a journey this is turning out to be. We had the first set of tests done on December 10th 2021. The next appointment was February 10th 2022. Now we have two days in April and two consults in May. I have still not been able to test as a Donor. The process is tedious and long and so very frustrating. I have never been through something that takes so long. We just want to get it done so Bobby can live a fuller, healthier and more normal life.

I understand some of this but it seems that it could be streamlined a bit. Having to bug them to get appointments is not a good way to handle the business. But we are in it for the long haul. We will get to the end goal!

If you know anyone that is on Dialysis you know what a toll it takes on the body and mind. Yes it is life sustaining but as time goes on the quality of that life goes down. Many of these people have multiple health issues and their best option is to get a transplant. But not everyone can qualify to receive a transplant for a multitude of reasons. I was not aware that if you cannot show financial ability to pay for the life long anti rejection drugs then you could be turned down. This was not going to be a problem for us.

However, on May 17th 2022, Bobby passed away. He did not make it to the last 2 appointments. I am heartbroken and relieved that he is no longer suffering. I just wish we could have made it through the process. I know that this is God’s plan and I am ok with it. He was my love and life for so many years and we did so much together. I will miss him but I will not miss watching him be miserable and in pain. I start on a new journey and I will be here for my kids, grandkids and all my family and friends. I will be fine, I know how to take care of myself. I have the support that I need at anytime.

This is not what I would have chosen for the remaining years of my life. I wanted to retire, to travel with my love and to grow old and cranky together. Not everyone is blessed to live long but we were blessed to live so fully and to do so many things. We lived well and I would not trade it for anything. Bobby touched many people and he was blessed to be loved by everyone who knew him. I am grateful for the 27+ we had together. I will miss him for the rest of my life.

It did bring our son back home for which I am eternally grateful. He has been a blessing to have with us and we can finally give him the support he has needed all these years. I thank the Lord everyday for the family and friends that support me through all the things still to come as I move through this year of firsts without my husband.

May you rest in peace until we meet again my love. See that we are all doing ok and we loved you more than you could ever know.

Roller Derby My New Life

Reflections

In a few short hours I will turn 60 years young. It is a milestone birthday that has brought so many memories flooding back to me over the past month. I don’t feel 60. I don’t know how that should even feel. This has been one of the hardest past years that I remember. I have been trying to declutter my house and a while back I found a birthday card from my mom. She wished I could spend my birthday with her so she could bake me the heart shaped strawberry cake she would do for me every year. I cried so hard. I wish I had gone home on my birthday a few times but I never did, plus it was always during work closings and it was hard for me to take off work, a word of advice, never ever put work over family. All those years, 32 to be exact got me no where but laid off.

I am taking vacation for the second time ever on my birthday tomorrow. The first was when I turned 40. It will be a day of quiet reflection, doing some things for myself and getting a few things done I have been working on for almost 2 years now.

I miss my mom and dad. I miss getting together with my family here and back home. I wish I could go and meet my new found sisters. I wish I could give my kidney to my husband now. I wish COVID had never happened. But wishes are not reality and I know that I can only do what I can do.

The thing is, I have had this awesome life that I had no idea would come to me. I have gotten to do things that not everyone has been lucky enough to do. I can say I would not change a thing about the life I have had, it has been such a blessing with so much goodness and mercy and I would not trade it for anything. Oh make no mistake, I have been through the fire and struggled and didn’t know how I was going to feed my children at times but God watched over us and always provided. I spent about a year having popcorn and a Coke for lunch at work to have money for dinner that night. We had a lot of frozen pizza and kids meals but we survived. If not for the trials, I would not have the empathy I possess today.

I was blessed to have the absolute best family that chose me. And now I have even more extended family that I have been blessed with and cherish more than anything in this world. I choose not to regret the mistakes I have made as they are forever a part of me. They are what has helped me to grow. I still have a lot more growing to do as we never are complete until God takes us Home.

I have always been driven to try to do as much as I can to move through my career and be able to get what we want as much as what we need and I have been blessed to be able to do this. We focused on the children first, then ourselves and now it is all about the grand kids! They are the most awesome thing to experience! Funny thing was I planned to be a career woman and not necessarily a mom. God had other plans and I am so glad that he did.

I have lived to see a black man become US President and a woman of color become Vice President. I hope that this will bring the real changes needed for our country. I cannot wait to see what other history will be made in my time!

Thanks for reading this and following me as blog my life.

Kool!!

AKA Gina

Roller Derby My New Life

Good bye 2020

To God be the glory for me and my family and getting through this year without catching the COVID-19 so far. I am so blessed to have my family and friends this season. I miss my mom and dad so much, especially this year. I can’t go and visit their graves and it has been a very hard holiday season. It isn’t over, since Christmas will be different than all other years. I plan to take a whole lot of pictures so my husband can see them when he is ready. I need for him to get the vaccine and be able to visit his grand kids and kids and any other family he wants to see. He has been locked away since March. I have gone to some gatherings being very careful and working hard to stay well for him. It devastates me to see him so isolated and sad. I hate what this year has brought to all of us. We are determined to survive this and turn the next years into the best ever! I will do everything in my power to get him well and a new kidney. God has a plan for him and he will be able to fulfill it!

This has been a season of self evaluation, self reflection, and self improvement. I have found many things that I need to work on and am actively seeking to improve who I am. Many things have put me on a downward spiral that I have been struggling to overcome. It is Christmas time and I miss having a tree and all the people in my house. Now we go to my daughters for Christmas morning. I love doing that for the grand children but I miss our times here in my house. Today I have 2 poinsettia’s for my decorations. They are beautiful, and I love plants. One of my presents from my awesome husband is a baby bonsai tree. I am so excited to spend time with it and learn about it. I have always loved doing gardening as therapy and I am going to start back up. I need to be a part of nature again. I need to renew my spirit. Life has driven me to the edge of grumpy isolation. It is time to take back and move forward again. But I miss all the decorating I used to do. I miss going out and looking at all the lights with the children and the oooing and awwwing. I want to play again, be young happy and full of energy.

Some of this I can get back but some pretty significant events need to happen in 2021 to get back where I want to be. But mostly I need to work on me! Starting with getting my treadmill up and running and doing some workouts again! I will feel and function better once I start working out again. I hope I will be able to skate soon too, even if it isn’t right away!

Be sure to take care of yourselves and each other! Until next time, have a blessed holiday season!

Lots of love,

Kool aka Gina

Roller Derby My New Life

Living in a Pandemic

I remember in January starting off a new year with new hope and new ambitions and a change in my life due to retiring from competition roller derby. I was going to still help out with the games as an NSO and still on the BOD for one more year and I planned to skate mostly recreational with my league. I just love skating!

Fast forward to March, suddenly there is this virus that we have been hearing about in China. Then it quickly started spreading to other countries. Totally getting a little worried about this as a virus can be really bad for me and my husband. He is more vulnerable than I am. Now fast forward to September. I have been working from home except for 4 days in June, since March 22.

Everything has been cancelled, and I have not skated since maybe February. I am trying to start skating outdoors but man it is too hot right now. Hoping it cools off a little after this holiday weekend so I can virtually skate to the capital! Wish me luck as I am a lazy butt these days.

The good news is I started a new lash business and have connected with some of the most awesome people ever! Who knew lashes would become my thing!! But it got me out of the funk and back to actually getting dressed and putting on makeup which makes me feel so good about myself. Now I just want to share this with everyone I can. Life is so different right now and I don’t see it getting much better very soon.

Lashes and makeup! Rocking it again!

I pray daily for all the people suffering from COVID-19 and their family and friends because so many are not making it through this. I pray for my family and friends and for all those that are not my friends to be blessed and to do the right thing no matter what anyone else does. I pray for the end to all the violence from every issue. I am doing what I can to support the marginalized people.

Roller Derby My New Life

QUARANTINE – COVD-19

This was my 6th day to work from home due to the pandemic that is going on right now. It is March 22, 2020 and things are so different than the any of my 59 years on this planet. First off, I am in the high risk group with COPD and my husband is even higher risk with multiple health issues. I still go get food from drive thru and the pharmacy and grocery store when necessary but I am wary of people, all people.

I don’t get to go see my grand kids (to high risk of them carrying something) and our roller derby season may be over before it ever really got started. The family reunion has been cancelled, my granddaughters gymnastics meets have been cancelled. Professional sports have been cancelled or put on hold. I like being home but I also need some interaction and over the phone and DM is just not the same. However, I have to make due with phone calls and video calls because I cannot afford to get sick or bring something home to my husband.

Yesterday I went to HEB for weekly groceries. I have a N95 rated mask I got a few years ago when I was first diagnosed with COPD. I ride a bus full of people to work normally, so I need to protect myself. HEB was doing everything they could to help protect people by wiping down carts before going into the store, separate entrance and exits and some limits on products. What I did see that concerns me most was entire families shopping together. This will be what causes this to continue to infect more and more people. So many people still don’t understand or care about protecting themselves or the high risk group. Since I am 59 I am not able to shop at the senior time.

One of my masks to protect myself

I wish more people would understand that the more we comply the faster we will be able to go back to work and play. So many people at the store didn’t pay attention to the footprints on the floor to stand at a safe distance. I will never understand this from grown people. I don’t like this anymore than anyone else but please, do your part.

Love,

Kool

Roller Derby My New Life

Roller Derby Retirement

August 10 2013 Yellow Rose Derby Girls played their very first game against Spindletop in Beaumont. I was on the All Stars and I was one of the Original Members. On August 10 2019 I officially retired from competitive roller derby. I started my derby journey with Houston Roller Derby in late 2010. I was part of the recreational league until Texas Thai Foon aka Kari Malone decided to start the Yellow Rose Derby Girls which was going to be right around the corner from me. I was so excited that I joined up the night I went to the meet and greet. I also volunteered to be the Treasurer. I have doing roller derby for 8 wonderful, awesome years and would not trade this experience for anything.

When I broke my ankle in November 2018, I worked hard to return to derby, but as the time passed and my priorities started changing, I found that the same passion I had was no longer there. I still love the sport, watching it, doing NSO things, would be up for coaching as well, but I no longer had that pull to get back out there, so I finally decided it was time to retire from competition derby.

Kool’s Retirement

It was amazing, I laughed and I cried, and I hugged everyone! My Yellow Rose Derby Girls league is the best thing to happen to me! I love every single one of them and those that left before me.

Now it is time for me to do recreational skating so I can get back into shape and still be among these awesome women. I have to start back slow but I am excited for new adventures.

All the love

This night went on to my Crushers winning the home team Championship once again and I am so proud of each one of them and their accomplishments this year! It was a hard fought battle and they played an awesome Ruckus team. I was so honored to be a part of them this night. I will miss this dearly but I have the greatest memories to hold on to forever! Thank you Yellow Rose for everything I was able to accomplish on and off the track with you!

Crushers Champs!

Roller Derby My New Life

It Happened

Well, I have skated for 8 years and it finally happened, I got a roller derby injury.  Thursday night November 15th, I broke my ankle jamming in a scrimmage for All Star tryouts.  It was bad, scary and oh so painful.

Thursday night after emergency room

The league mates at Yellow Rose Derby Girls were so awesome.  They made all the calls to family and got the ambulance there for me and waited at the hospital with my husband and daughter when they couldn’t see me right away.

I saw the surgeon, and I had a dislocated ankle with a trimallolar break (3) places, so I had to have surgery to put in a plate and screws. Surgery was November 26 and I was out of commission until December 11th. At that appointment I got a boot and was told to start weight bearing on it immediately. That was scary. It was a month since I last walked on it and it was numb all across the top of my foot, big toe and the incision places. I started PT the next week.

My next visit to the surgeon was January 8th and off with the boot and into regular shoes. I had already been walking without the boot in shoes and PT was teaching me how to walk again. It was still unnerving since my boot was my protection. But I did it and I have awesome physical therapists.

I am serving my league as the Head NSO and we had our first home games February 23rd. It was really different knowing that I would not be skating again anytime soon. But I was ok with it for now. It was fun to watch and arrange all the NSOs jobs and I like doing the paperwork for the stats. I may start learning to ref but that is a big job too.

This Thursday is my hopefully last appointment with the surgeon. I expect to be released without restrictions but you never know until it happens. Probably means the end to PT as well and back to training on my own. I have learned a lot about getting my muscles back and that I need to ramp up the endurance. But I have learned to use the elliptical so that will be a thing now. There will be lots more weight training also. I plan to roll but I won’t be doing too many skills. I have also been so busy with work and family that a step back from derby has been a good thing.

After Surgery and stitches out
Roller Derby My New Life

Training and Goals

This was written the first year of our home teams and never published. I’m publishing it now as this was before I found out about my COPD.

A new season begins for my roller derby league and we are experincing a lot of growth and I am excited to be a part of this. I started training with a personal trainer that I love working with and I have seen progress in my personal fitness. I will get play for a home team the Clutch City Crushers this year but I won’t be playing on the All Stars. I am obviously disappointed in my performance not being up to that challenge but happy that I will at least get to play. This will be a new experience for our league but I love my new team mates and think we can do well. I will be ramping up the training and working this recovery.

I got to go to our hosted bootcamp with Coach Spanx and it was an awesome training session. I have lots of personal goals and actual things to work on to improve my agility. This has been something I have not been good at but have not had a good regimine to work on for this. I got that this weekend and I am so going to work on it like crazy.

Being an athelete and a part of team was something that I never thought I would do. When I was 5 I lost hearing in my left ear from inner ear bone damage. That means that hearing aids are useless and it is considered a handicap. I got help with college tuition because of this but other than that is has always been a hinderance to me and part of my insecurity growing up. I can compensate pretty well most of the time. I tried playing difference sports for fun such as softball, basket ball and tennis and raquet ball. I had bad experinces with the team sports because of my inablility to hear well especially when there is a lot of background noise. After being introduced to roller derby, it took me 4 months to work up the courage to actual go and give it a try. I fell in love with it because I had always loved to skate. I am also very competitive. I was terrified of not being able to hear and how that would hinder me from being a part of this sport.

All of this made me hesitant to even tell people that I had this handicap. Why? Because some people do not want someone with a handicap playing on their team and they do not know how to adjust to interact with them during games because the hearing world is so dependant on hearing. I learn more and better by watching than by hearing and I discovered that other people learned this way and more people than I ever knew had the handicap I did.

Today, I tell people and remind people constantly. I wear a sticker on the left side of my helmet that is the universal sign for hearing impaired. It is a part of me in all things and I have learned to own it and embrace it. So I started my roller derby journey at 49 in September of 2010 and here I am still working to stay a part of it!

Family, Health, COPD

My COPD Journey

This has been approved to post in the Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness Group.

Yesterday I posted that I had improved my lung function 20% over the past year.  I got many requests to share what I did to make this happen.  I am going to explain this journey in this blog, with hopes that it will help someone else dealing with this disease.

First of all I have been an athlete for the past 7 years, participating in a sport called Roller Derby which is a full contact sport. Think football on roller skates without a ball and we play offense and defense at the same time.  Check out u-tube to see what it looks like.

That being said I was diagnosed with Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis in November of 2016 when I had been sick on antibiotics and suddenly could not breath well or catch my breath.  I was referred to a pulmonary doctor and he started me on inhalers, stronger antibiotics and oral steroids after giving me a steroid shot.  I got better and started doing my normal things again but by Christmas I was not doing so well. Not understanding how critical it was to get treatment immediately, I put it off thinking I could get well just like I used to.  This was a mistake that landed me in the hospital on oxygen, intravenous antibiotics and steroids for 5 days on New Years Eve.  When I did get to go home, it was with oxygen and more oral antibiotics and steroids and a nebulizer.  I went back to work with oxygen and was eventually able to come off the oxygen after a few weeks.

I was taking my medicine and doing what I thought I was suppose to do but I kept getting sick.  Sometime in late March or April I found Noah’s group on Facebook.  This changed my life.  I figured out I was not taking my inhalers in the proper order and at the proper times.  No one told me this mattered but boy did it matter.  After another bout of sickness in March (where I ended up back on oxygen) I was finally able to get over the lung infection.

Because of my husband, I am proactive in my health and I began researching and reading everything I could find about my diagnosis.  Noah’s book is number 1 on my list of what truly helped me on this journey.  Every single chapter made a difference, from my attitude to my nutrition and exercise program.  This helped me get well enough to go on my vacation to Florida in July with my family and spend several days on the beach and walking all over Disney World.  I was not fine mind you, I had to stop and rest use my rescue inhaler and take time to recover from events, but I did it.  Since then I have gotten progressively better.

As I felt better, I got back into my roller derby sport and started training twice a week with them.  I had to take to slow at first because my heart rate would go up to over 150 very quickly and I still got very short of breath.  I had team mates that made me step off and take care of myself and not let me overdo it.  They were my angels.  As an athlete, I had always tried to eat better and started strength training outside of the sport training. I had to stop that training in order to get well.

One of the hardest things to do was to give myself permission to feel bad and do what I needed to take care of myself.  This consisted of eating properly, and getting enough good sleep.  Sleep is under rated and is required in order for your body to heal.  Humans do not seem to understand just how important this is.  It is also easier to get good sleep when you exercise. Nutrition is the other very important thing.  I have learned to listen to my body as it will tell me what it needs in the form of cravings.  Since I don’t eat a lot of sweets and avoid fried foods, I don’t crave those things.  Instead, I crave carrots, or green vegetables, roughage, or salt because I have very low blood pressure and I do not put it on foods or use it to cook with.  I listen to this because these are the nutrients that my body is lacking.  I also take a multiple vitamin for women over 50 every day.  This takes discipline and it is hard and I fail at it often, but I do not beat myself up over it, I move forward.

As I felt better I trained harder, but I always take a day off if I don’t feel real good and just skate without contact and do endurance training, or just walking.  I take pre-workout supplements and I take post workout recovery supplements.  I have had to modify my thinking and know when it is good to push myself and when it isn’t.  I have to decide this, no one can tell me, only I know how I feel and what I can do.  I make sure I have recovery time, as it is good to push and ok to be sore but it takes me longer to recover than the 20-30 year old women I skate with.  Right along with this is not caring what people think.  It is just a waste of energy.  I am selfish when it comes to my health.  My goal is to grow old and see my grand kids grow up.  Since I cannot control what others think it is none of my business.

I also use essential oils for various things and I practice meditation.  It may sound silly to some but I center my chi and balance my chakra’s. Yoga is good for you, I don’t do enough of it.  I feel that the most important thing is to find what makes you feel good about yourself, what activities you can do and enjoy and do those things.  For me that is roller derby which in turn makes me want to work out to get into better shape for the sport. If you like it you will do it, otherwise it is like work and you will not stick to it.  I did discover that working out is addictive.  So if you can get past the first few weeks, your body will crave activity.

Another very important part of my daily life is practicing deep breathing.  I practice every day, multiple times a day various versions of breathing.  This is also a part of my meditation.  I also know that I will not be able to participate in a contact sport for long but I have already decided to learn to be a referee on skates and that will take the place of the contact sport.  I have plans and I pursue them.  I am only 57 and to me that is still very young!

In December of 2016 I decided to go back to school, I am getting my MBA from WGU online.  You can never learn too much.  This motivation keeps me feeling like I still contribute and I can stay mentally strong to fight this disease.  Life was never promised to be easy or fair, it is just life and I intend to live it to its fullest!

Now with all that positivity make no mistake that I have setbacks and trials and normal human bad times with the good times.  What I try to do is have more good than bad and power through the bad because something good will be on the other side.

An example is July of last year my mom was diagnosed with lymphoma, after having survived breast cancer twice.  She was in her 80’s and chose hospice.  I went up to see her at least once a month until she passed in November.  I drove 9 hours up to see her at my brothers and the same coming back.  It was hard and tiring but the most beautiful thing to get to spend a lot of her last days with her and my brother’s family.  Sitting with and talking with my mom about everything, she asked me if I asked “why me” and felt sorry for myself when I found out I had COPD.  Only because I have had significant self growth before this was I able to not ever ask this question.  Instead, my focus was ok, how can I live with this and how can I help myself.  I know that smoking when I was younger contributed to this but I had kicked that habit almost 20 years before and I never felt that this was my fault.  I do not let what others may think or say about this bother me, if they think that way, I either educate them and if that doesn’t help then I have not time for them.  I have found that my attitude towards others is all I can control and letting their ignorance upset me does me no good.  If they don’t get it, I move on.  I know that one day I may need lots of help and that burden will fall to my family but they all know this and we are close and support each other in life.  I feel like my positive attitude works miracles on me and others.  Now, I have to say that I also take medication for anxiety which helps with the positive attitude and being able to maintain it.  That diagnosis came years ago and I have dealt with it for a very long time.  But it is what made me look at ways to help myself but I still have to take the medication.

Mom’s illness slowed down some of my workouts but I still walked on the treadmill at the hotel.  I was finally able to start back with a trainer in February of this year.  I am doing cross training with lots of weight lifting.  I found I can do so much more than I ever thought was possible.  We have so much strength within ourselves and we don’t even realize it most of the time.  And even when we do realize this, we have to remember that it is ok to cry and feel bad or be blue.  Just cannot wallow there for long periods of time or it will be harder to come out of it.  This is another way to relieve stress and it is very important to control stress.  I am working at company that is selling my business unit, we have known this since last December, still do not know who will buy us and if we will have jobs.  We know it will be around the end of the second quarter.  I could use this as an excuse to stress out and make myself sick but I choose to trust in my God and work on a path forward regardless of the outcome.  My health cannot handle this type of stress so I do what I have to, to get rid of it.  I talk about it with my family, friends and co-workers.  We lean on each other.

Wow, this was a lot and I hope it makes some sense.  I honestly believe that we can control more with our bodies than we know and maybe someday there will be proof of this.  I am very fortunate in that I have not had other major health problems and this could be why I was able to improve so much.  I know that multiple health issues make it much harder to help yourself.  However, when I heard the phrase “use it or lose it” it has become my daily motto.  I was a couch potato for a couple of years before I found roller derby and I was well on my way to not being able to do things that I should have been able to do, so I know you have to use your muscles, your lungs, your eyes, your brain or you will lose things over time.  I hope someone finds hope and help in this and would love to hear other’s success stories.

As always work hard and play harder

Melody Kool

AKA Gina White