“You are…fat?”

kidney

“You are…fat??” she said with trepidation. I replied, “Yes, yes I am,” as calmly as I could muster. This new student at my ESL class seemed to be thinking of the right words after she witnessed me taking my blood sugar. Following that horrifying moment, another student made me proud by knowing enough English to scold her, “We no say fat. We say unhealthy.” Right after I got distracted by other students asking questions about how to say something or other. I think it might have been intentional. My students are some of the most polite humans I have ever met. I don’t know this student at all because she was new. I don’t even remember her name, but I can bet she didn’t mean to insult me. I would wager she was actually concerned about me.

I am usually like Teflon when it comes to this stuff. I sizzle when it happens but then it slides right off. I usually bristle back at the asshole who thought he could comment on my health or most likely appearance, but this wasn’t an asshole. I have to say I ruminated on it all day, and four days later still thinking about it. I keep seeing her confused face, and hear her say it over and over, “You are…fat?”

I probably would have shrugged it off but I had a horrible health week. I found out I have kidney damage. My A1C was 6.5 which is barely diabetic but that puts me back in medicine territory. I told her I didn’t want to take meds because I am trying to do things more holistically and that is when the doctor told me I have kidney damage. That’s another phrase that’s been going around in my head, “KIDNEY DAMAGE.” She later called it “low grade kidney disease.”

So for those keeping score, I now have fibromyalgia, PCOS, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammation, diabetes, and now KIDNEY DISEASE! I know she said low grade, but seriously kidney disease doesn’t sound good. I’ve been researching it and it isn’t. I can’t make this better. I can never make this better. I can’t heal my kidneys. The damage is done. This isn’t a car, it’s my body. It’s not like I lost that new car smell. I lost part of my kidney function. This is bullshit.

There are two reasons this could have happened to me – my high blood sugar, and my excessive Aleve use. Because of the pain, I have to take sometimes four Aleve a day. Now I have to stop all Aleve which so far has been the only thing keeping me sane during times of pain (other than yoga.) I also have to take some diabetic pills and I have to monitor my blood sugar closely again.

So basically I’ve damaged a part of my body, I can’t repair it, and it’s only going to get worse unless I seriously turn it around. Which should be so easy right? Since, I’ve done it before. Okay…so I haven’t done it ever. So this week has felt pretty hopeless.

After yoga yesterday I just thought. I can only do what I can do. Ya know?

Have you received bad health news in the past? How did you deal with it?

The Good News

This is a day I was super happy. Swinging with my nephew. (Had to cut him out of the pic, that's an internet no no.) I am almost this happy today.
This is a day I was super happy. Swinging with my nephew. (Had to cut him out of the pic, that’s an internet no no.) I am almost this happy today.

September of 2013 I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was prescribed 1750 mg of a drug called Metformin and a Victoza injection every night. That day I cried on the floor with my husband looking on helplessly. In the two years since, I have gone through so much pain and setbacks. I have quit my job, my Dad had a heart attack, I left the friends and family I love so much and moved across country. It has been a really hard two years. Between the PCOS and Endometriosis, I have been in pain, depressed, on pain pills and frankly fed the fuck up.

Slowly I have been trying to take control of my health. First, I started eating all organic about three months ago. I have learned about all the chemicals and antibiotics they put in our food, and how cruel they are to animals in industrial farming. I have wanted to vote with my money for a long time, but finally put that into fruition three to four months ago. An amazing side effect of this choice is my PCOS symptoms have lessened. It was surprising but also very motivating, and so Brad and I decided to take it further. About a month ago we went to a mostly vegetarian diet. Ninety percent to ninety five percent of our diet is meat free.

I went to my doctor’s appointment last week, at the time I found out that I had lost twenty-nine pounds in just a month and a half of my last appointment. This is really awesome, but not even close to the best part. This morning my doctor called to give me the results of my tests. I am overjoyed with the results. I now have the A1C results of a pre-diabetic, not a diabetic!!!! Hard work pays off!  I am not out of the danger zone yet. I doubt I will ever be out of the danger zone truly, but for the first time ever…my numbers are going the other way!!!!!! I am only taking one Metformin now and no Victoza. My doctor wanted me to take two but said it would be okay if I waited another three months to see what I could do in that time to get my blood sugar down.

I have three months to get my sugars down .2 points in order for my doctor to feel good with my current medicine regimen. So that is where I must start. I can do this! I am of the fake it until you make it camp so I say that a lot. However, for the first time ever, I believe it. I am so happy that the choices that I have been making are finally the right ones. I feel like I should celebrate, but I will wait. I have many more meals to plan, and miles to walk before a PLANNED celebration. That’s how I do things now. I plan my indulgences. I make good decisions. That’s me, controlling my destiny over here.

Okay, so I might be having a mini celebration in my head which is pretty powerful these days.

Positive Peer Pressure

Sights seen while walking with my honey!
Sights seen while walking with my honey!

So most of my family is buzzing with healthy ideas. My brother Matthew and I have been talking about our progress and he referred me to a documentary called Forks over Knives. I like to always listen to my siblings because they are impressive people, so that day hubby and I decided to watch it. I am not going to review the movie here, but the gist is; by eating a healthy vegetable diet you can lower your risk for heart disease and even reverse it. The statistics they give are amazingly definitive. So we have been researching and have decided to try it.

I must tell you my Midwestern roots sort of shudder in their boots when I say it out loud. My husband and I are working towards changing our diet to dare I say it…vegetarian. I cannot believe I am going to stop eating meat but it is something we are working on slowly. We are going to phase out meat slowly. The slowly part is something we realized after searching for recipes and understanding we know nothing about being vegetarian.

My friend Emily has pointed out that learning recipes from blogs aren’t always the best ways to start out because those recipes are usually the most impressive. I need to start with the basics. So I am going to first do one veggie meal a day. It is still a challenge for someone who was raised meat and potatoes style. I don’t know if everyone else has this problem but the normal protein sources that are part of a vegetarian diet I have not put into my recipe repertoire. I am researching recipes to get us on the right path.

This change in my habits is causing some disbelief from my family. We were talking about the fact that I made a veggie sandwich for dear Bradley to take to work, and how after I told him about said sandwich he declared, “But there is chicken in the fridge.” It was meant to be a story about how brain dead I was in the early morning. I had forgotten about his plan to take said chicken, but Momma jokingly said, “Poor Brad.” As if my hummus, cheese, spinach, and red pepper sandwich was something so depressing. We both laughed and Mom asked, “Does he have cash?” I said yes, and she said “Well, he is gonna throw that sandwich away.” I insisted that he wouldn’t although I was giggling at the prospect of Brad just being like, whatever, and throwing away my sandwich. I told Mom it was Brad’s idea that we start eating mostly veggie, but she was unconvinced. I said I will have him take a picture of him eating that sandwich, she said, “Don’t do that Danielle. Don’t make that man lie! He will take that picture and then throw it in the trash and then go with the guys to the roast beef shop.” I will tell you that this conversation brought me intense joy, as did the subsequent conversation with Brad about this.

His response was, “Oh sure. I can explain this to my boss. What are you doing Brad? Oh, I am taking a sandwich selfie. It’s a thing, right? a sandwich selfie?”

Brad did take the sandwich selfie at different states of eating. I was impressed at his thoroughness. I then emailed it to my entire family.

For your pleasure, the sandwich selfie:

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That’s another change. I have been sharing all the healthy stuff we are doing with my family and hopefully they will with me. I am hoping that seeing that their oldest, chubbiest sibling is eating cut up radishes and sweating her ass off in the hot Philadelphia heat will be motivating and health affirming, but more on that later.

Right now, I am asking if you could give me any good, simple vegetarian meals they have made or any tips for becoming more veggie centric. I would love to know your opinion on a produce heavy diet.

So Far it’s Working!

One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.
One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.

I am very pleased with myself, because I of my new daily goal system. I may not be a morning person. Heck, I may never be a morning person, but I may have figured out a way to get things accomplished anyway. When I am productive in the morning it makes me feel good the rest of the day. Last post I told you that I have started to make lists at night. I write down what meals I am going to make, and what goals I have. The purpose of making the list at night, when I have the most brain power, is so in the morning I don’t have to think about tasks or the order of those tasks. I don’t get overwhelmed anymore by my hazy morning brain. It has been giving me just enough clarity to get me by. So when I finally fully wake up around eleven a.m. I have some tasks already done, which is encouraging.

There has been a really great side effect of writing down all I have to do, and what I have done. I have been journaling how I feel every day because I wanted to know how this was working. It was like a science experiment. I have realized so many things as a result.

The first one is that I realized I have more good days than bad. When I feel bad, groggy, lethargic, it is like thinking through a haze. Lately I have been thinking that my life is filled with those days. Between the fibromyalgia and the soreness from exercising, I thought pain was what my life would be like now.

I had about four days in a row that I felt pretty amazing when I started keeping track. I was feeling energetic and thinking clearly. It was pretty good and I thought it might be because I was really paying attention to my feelings. Also I was eating well, and getting exercise because it was on my list. I was really happy that my list was successful too.

I don’t know why but slicing words in half is so rewarding! Seriously when I cross stuff off my list I get a real high. Does that make me a weirdo? Maybe. However, it is also making me very happy so..

Something else I noticed is how awful I felt when I ate something horrible. I was craving some junk food and when I ate some “not so good for me” Mexican food one night, the next day not only was I bloated, I was lethargic and my body ached. I don’t think I would have even noticed that was the cause had I not been writing down everything I ate and how I felt.  I always understood that fast food could give me indigestion or that extra bloat, but I didn’t realize that because of one bad meal, I slept badly and so the next day I was seriously off my game.

I think that is part of the reason that I am so horrible at losing weight sometimes, because I don’t notice how bad food makes me feel. I don’t know if others are as oblivious as I am, but I think that not only writing down what I eat but how I feel is helping me see what I have been missing for years. I think I am different in that I don’t really notice what food is doing to my body. I am teaching myself to be more in tune with how I feel and what I need to do to fix it.

This is making food choices and exercise easier because I understand the repercussions a little better. I am excited that I am making a little more progress on my road to being healthy. I guess it is super healthy to at least know how I feel.

I am oblivious about how my body feels so often. If I have a goal, I can work through pain and hunger without feeling it. I have eaten crappy food before and I know it must have made me feel sluggish over and over but I didn’t notice it. At least, with my new plan I can get on top of that now.

Not only that, I have been writing myself encouraging things. I know that sounds corny but I am really liking having this way of checking up on myself. It is both an efficient way to keep track of how I am feeling and what affects my feelings, but also a way of encouraging my efforts in all areas. At this point, I have to be excited about anything that is working and providing more stability in my life.

Indelicate Information

Bathroom

Something has come to my attention about exercise and it is indelicate but I believe I should talk about it, if only because I have never read anyone else talking about it. There is something they leave out of all the exercise pr…the poops…literally.  No one says that when they try to get you into exercising. I read Self, Shape, Health and Women’s Health. I don’t recall ever reading in any of those magazines how to deal with getting the shits on the track, or almost pooping your pants while jumping in aerobics class.

The other day I had an appointment with my Edward Jones representative. To get to the appointment, I took the wrong bus, and ended up five or so blocks out of the way. I had to run to the appointment and showed up to the fancy Pyramid Club my hair flat and listless. After my appointment, it started raining. I was walking home and had to immediately duck into Starbucks because nature wasn’t just calling; it was screaming. Then I had to buy something. I couldn’t just leave after bombing their bathroom.

After that I went to the Reading Terminal Market, it was brimming with people, the different stores are amazing and they even had a singer that day. I decided to get lunch. It was super busy but I finally got a table across from some really nice ladies: Chris and Kate. They were lovely and told me all the great stores in the market and sent me to the best bakery. Kate was interested in creative writing and I have my Bachelor’s degree in that. I had the greatest time talking about stuff with her. Then I started to sweat again. I almost asked her for her phone number to be friends but had to cut it short…again I had to go to the bathroom. I was worried I wouldn’t find one but luckily the Market has a great bathroom, which is good because I spent about a half hour in there. As soon as I was done, I went to the butcher and the baker and then I had to run home for another round.

When I got home my door woman, Eula, asked me if it was still raining. Frustrated, I pointed at my hair and said, “No, that’s sweat.”

About this time, I had walked over eight thousand steps, and I had carried my luggage with the groceries home. When I got into the apartment I threw everything down on the floor, including my coat. I was so exhausted after that, I put my groceries away but left everything else and took a bath. When my husband got home he thought I had evaporated in thin air. He finally found me in the bathtub.

This day is an example of what happens whenever I walk long distances. I am told that my bowels will get used to the exercise. I really can’t wait. I hope it happens soon.

I like some of the good aspects of walking so much. My feet actually feel better at night because the nerve pain is decidedly less. That fact alone is amazing. I also have been having less fibromyalgia pain. These things are blessings and I guess that outweighs the fact that most of the time when I am out walking, I desperately search for a bathroom.

 

Tiny Pellets of Death

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Okay, so it has been two weeks of no carb/low carb living… I am trying to get my blood sugars down from 210 sometimes to the necessary 120. This is the goal, this is the normal expected blood sugar. I wasn’t even close starting out. So far, the lowest I have gotten is 133. It will be a slow process from what I understand. Right now I am at defcon one when it comes to sugars. I have to be super strict about it. I want to get off this medicine. I know it won’t happen quickly but I think the feeling of urgency is helping me to stay on point.

Okay first the bad news. This change in our lifestyle is time consuming and frustrating. My husband who does the shopping and the cooking has really been trying but convenience foods have sort of been our go to for a long time, like I am sure a lot of Americans. We have relied on things you can easily microwave or picked up at a window. We sometimes sit paralyzed in the dining room trying to decide what to eat. We stand up together roam through the kitchen pantry and peak in the fridge for like twenty minutes with no ideas. I realize that it seems easy, right? It’s really not. We have to make our brains think differently. I mean I can’t have a package of popcorn. That’s my go to snack. Now, it is like, I will eat this piece of cheese and a small piece off the left over chicken. That’s just an example of something random. Things you would think are awesome are sort of off limits for now, like grapes and peaches. Which is especially heart breaking because I just got my favorite peaches from the farmers market, giant snow peaches from Kelley Orchards. I am just allowed to stare at them…maybe have a couple slices here or there.

I am having weird dreams that husband and I are buying ice cream, gallons of it, and also ice cream sandwiches. It is like God is allowing me to binge in my dreams. Also about three days into this no carb thing, Brad was making tea on the stove and the burnt burner must have had a piece of pasta on it. I was sitting there day dreaming I was eating my favorite pasta ala olio. The long strands of spaghetti sliding around on my tongue. Brad came up behind me to place my tea on the table and I meant to say thank you, but all I could say is, “Pasta.”

Husband is frustrated. It isn’t his fault. He is like me, he isn’t used to it. He sat there after one of our brainstorming sessions and said, “I hate that we have to think about food this much.” It is so true. It feels like we are three and don’t know how to feed ourselves. He feels that he can’t get mad at how hard this is, so he ends up being grouchy at other times. Finally I sat him down and had him get it all out. That took about thirty minutes, and he felt better.

The good thing about my husband is how oddly encouraging he can be. I was at work and they bought the entire center pizza and soda. I texted the husband, “Talk me out of it.” He responded, “It’s triangles of death and heart palpitations in a can.” While I was laughing at this text another came through, “The pizza maker has a nose picking habit and the soda factory lost track of where their rat poison went.” I responded, “LOL.” Then another came through, “Someone stinky licked all the pieces and the soda cans.” Needless to say I didn’t eat any pizza. I felt that much effort for motivation should be rewarded by a positive result. He also called cookies pellets of death.

Supporting each other, listening, and loving each other, that is what is going to get us through.

I want to use pretty soap

As a food addict, I use food to suffocate bad feelings. I use food to celebrate, to soothe myself, and to calm my anger. It is something that I believe is universal, using things whatever it may be to take ourselves out of reality. I don’t know if you have done it, but if you have you know it’s usually only a temporary reprieve. Instead of being able to savor a bag of fries, my new life is a piece of chicken and some veggies for lunch or dinner. While those things are delicious it isn’t quite the hit fries and ice cream provide. I know the theory that food like a drug seems intense or going overboard, but I know I use it like that. I know I feel a release when I eat really good things. I know I depend on it far too much. It is a common thing to feel comfort or joy from food. I must stop that, and halfway will do no good. I have to go all the way. I am doing pretty well this week. I could do better. Right now I am trying to get my blood sugars down to the standard 120 after I eat. The lowest I have gotten is 133. I am doing this by cutting out most carbs and eating less of everything else.

This is a sort of stringent way of having meal time. Brad says he will most likely lose weight because he will start hating food because of this. Every time we don’t have a preplanned meal and one of us is just hungry (me) we end up having this intense conversation.

He says, “How about cheese sandwiches and soup.”

“To many carbs,” I say.

“Rice a Roni?”

“All carbs.”

“Left over stew?”

“Yuck.”

To this he throws his hands in the air and goes into the other room to look for more options. It is an aggravating process and one which we are working to improve by having more quick options on hand. We aren’t as prepared as we want to be. It is a process.

So I have taken away our way of coping with things and we are both grieving for. Not to replace this coping mechanism, but to make the voyage easier I am doing things that make me feel good. I am delighting in small touches of luxury.Image

My work gave me this fancy soap. It is from Cost Plus and is grapefruit and tangerine scented. It was sitting in a container on my countertop for over a month. Yesterday I broke it open and decided to use it. It is so luxurious. It is thick and feels like there is lotion inside. Rolling it in my hands is a small meditative experience where it releases the moisture and the smell of the soap. It makes your hands smell like dreamsycles. I usually use the cheapest drug store bottle soap that just smells like soap.

Also I bought myself a present. I purchased the most beautiful dangly moonstone earrings. For six months or more I have been trolling etsy, and many other jewelry sites. It has been to long since I have gotten a new piece of jewelry. I haven’t bought clothes or anything else to pamper myself. I finally broke down this week and did it. They are absolutely beautiful on me, and I wore them three days in a row I was so excited.Image

Hot baths and naps are also ways in which I am being nicer with myself. I deserve time out, and to revitalize myself in a way that isn’t unhealthy. I deserve to pamper myself a little in this time of change. Everything is changing down to the tiny decisions I have to make, and because of that even the tiny hairs on the back of my neck are wound too tight. I have to write down every morsel that enters my mouth. I have to stick my finger every two hours. I have to exercise every day. All these things are carefully monitored and are stringent new requirements. I have to be kind to myself through all this.