Thursday, June 27, 2013

Coffee Talk

I didn't blog on Tuesday, due to the crazy-busy pace at work, people needing things ordered, fixed and picked up before they leave on their summer vacations and such.  I got through it OK, but it always irritates me when I can't keep my office countertops clear, and don't have proper time to put things away.  As closing time came along, I still had three patients in my office, one of whom was "Rose".  You may remember Rose from This post.  I began helping Rose when I was in my late twenties, and back then, I was always irritated by how she wanted to talk my ear off about stuff I couldn't yet relate to.  That was a much busier office than I am currently working, but all of my coworkers would suddenly become "unavailable" when she appeared in the office.  Rose comes to my current office every few months to make sure the screws on her glasses are tight, and she usually ends up spending the better part of an hour talking and asking questions.  This time, she waited patiently while I helped the other two patients, and then we talked about every little thing that came to mind.  It was like two old friends (or two new friends) having coffe talk.  We talked about bad knees, and she showed me that hers are so bad that she can't even straighten one all the way, I never noticed that before, and it looks really uncomfortable.  She is so worried that insurance won't cover the surgery, that she has gone more than 10 years without cortisone shots, and only takes Tylenol for the pain.  Luckily, she will be getting Medicare shortly, and will be able to have the much needed surgery.  During our coffe talk sessions (sans the coffee unfortunately) what I have learned about her is that, despite having a lot of problems in her life, she is a really positive and helpful person.  She is patient and considerate, she lets other patients go ahead of her because she knows she will take up more time, she is smart, always smiling, and just all-around pleasant.  And the more I get to know her, I am learning that she has quite a good sense of humor.  Even though Rose kept me at work nearly an hour after close on Tuesday night, there was a moment when we were both laughing out loud and saying how much we needed that talk and laugh.  Rose is as people should be in so many ways.  And for some reason, it seems like she always pops into my office when I am stressed out, and teaches me a lesson about lightening up and being more positive, just by her actions.  Of course the stress always returns, but for that time spent, and for several days after, I feel like I've had a good therapy session.
I have still been having a lot of sleep issues, and the nights that I do get good rest it is due to taking melatonin, which makes it hard to get up in the morning.  At the beginnning of the week, I set my alarm to allow time to workout, and by Wednesday, I realized that I am going to take the rest when I can get it.  I am feeling so tired and weak, I don't really know what I can do.  When I do get a physical therapy workout in, I feel pretty good, but that is always in the evenings, when I generally do have more energy.  It would follow logic to switch to evening workouts, but it would be tough to plan, and would hinge on my kids cooperating at the gym's kid sitting station, which they are not too fond of, and have gotten kicked out of for fighting in the past.  I had a physical exam with my doctor yesterday, and we discussed all of my recent symptoms.  My blood pressure was unusually high, numbers I haven't seen since I was first diagnosed with HBP in 2008.  That flooded me with a bunch of emotions/fear that all of my recent health issues are being caused by my heart.  After a thorough exam, including listening to my carotid artery, she released me with orders for a bunch of bloodwork.  During my physical, she mentioned (5-6 times) that she wants to check my vitamin D levels, as the sun allergy has me covering up and slathered in sunblock.  How lucky would that be if that was all it was?  A lot of the symptoms match what I am experiencing, and a deficiency can lead to high blood pressure.  She is also checking my thyroid function and vitamin B-12, and iron.  I am glad that she took the time to listen and check a bunch of different things.  I am worried that it will be high cholesterol or blood sugar issues, but I know I can fix that and get those numbers turned around.  What terrifies me most, is the sinking feeling I get when I think, what if they don't find anything?  I had my fasting labs drawn this morning, so I imagine I will find out what my blood looks like in a few days.  Fingers crossed for vitamin deficiency.  I have had my thyroid tested a few times and it always comes back within normal ranges, and I doubt I have anemia.  None of them are good, but some of them are much easier to fix.  I am hopeful for something to make me feel better, have more energy so I can get back to taking care of my health through diet and exercise.  I don't feel like myself right now, and I don't like it.
My mother will have my boys next week, which will be a rare opportunity for me to both sleep-in and workout in the morning.  We'll see how that goes.  AT some point, I may just have to push myself, despite the lack of energy and strength.  I can't stay stagnant much longer, it is breaking me.
This weekend should be rejuvinating, with plans to go to the zoo and spend a little quality time with my husband, maybe try a new recipe or two.  I am looking forward to not waking up to an alarm.  Yawn!
Hope you are doing well.  I promise I'll get back to those happy, uplifting blogs at some point, just have a few things to work out!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Aha Moment

My recent "aha moment" came when I was getting ready for work and noticing how tired, unhappy, and just generally bad I look.  I started to slip into the negative internal dialogue that I somehow try to convince myself will inspire me to make changes.  I was so fed up** F.E.D  U.P** with the same old argument,  God, I look awful, I look half dead, I feel like crap, I need to get moving again, etc etc etc. Then, whisper-shouting to myself in the mirror I finally let the truth seep out of my subconscious.  I can't get moving because my *#$@ing knee isn't cooperating.  I want to move, I want to feel alive again.  This knee surgery was supposed to magically make things go back to normal, and they haven't.  I am not broken anymore, but I am not whole and I am so *#$@ing angry that I am not and I'm stuck in the middle of wanting and not being able to and the fact that the word CANT is even in my vocabulary.  These things have been sitting heavy on my mind since they surfaced, and I am realizing that if I don't learn to accept things as they are right now, I will never move past this hurdle.  The truth is, this may be the best my knee ever feels.  I had unrealistic expectations, and I am reacting emotionally because things didn't pan out the way I dreamed they would.  I haven't miraculously gotten back on track.  Everything seems to irritate my knee, even the physical therapy exercises I have been given.  I have been using that as an excuse to not do anything, including my physical therapy, assuming that it will feel better soon, and then I will kick booty and be the best me I've ever been.  But today it dawned on me that having these expectations is setting me up for a huge amount of emotional eating and depression when it doesn't pan out.
So I am working on coming to terms with some things.  This may be the best my knee ever feels, if I don't find a way to make things work for me, I will certainly cause a lot more damage to it, and then I will be really limited in my mobility. I don't even want to think about how depressed I would be then.  And waiting for some magic time that may or may not come is just an excuse to try and avoid the physical pain, which by the way, isn't nearly as bad as it was before the surgery.
So last night, as I did my physical therapy, I allowed myself to be totally aware of how it is bothering my knee and I reminded myself that I was feeling pain even during physical therapy, and she always offered me ice or recommended ibuprofen afterword, so she knew that the things I was doing would likely made my knee feel bad, and that must have been OK for it or she wouldn't have prescribed them, right?  I just have to trust in the path that has been laid out for me and stop fighting it every time I feel a little resistance.  I am more edgy about my knee because I don't want to have to go through anything like this again.
My plan, for now, is to make stationary bike my main cardio exercise, because it truly may be the only thing that doesn't bother my knee, and try to get in my physical therapy exercises at least 3 times/week.  That equates to lunges and single-legged squat-type things, hip/glute work and I have added some planks in to help strengthen my core.  I will try to hit the gym for upper body workouts a few times a week, and maybe sneak in some light leg work from time to time. I see my doctor tomorrow for a full physical, and to discuss how I've been feeling lately.  I am hoping to get some answers about the exhaustion, sleep issues, and sun allergy.  I am not confident in myself, but I have to take a step,even if it is a wobbly, painful one.  I am moving forward because as Green Day says, "always move forward, going straight will get you nowhere."

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Good Stuff

So, I realize my last post was a bit of a bummer, written from the fog and frustration of my physical maladies infecting my mental ones.  And my constant need for information in an attempt to self-diagnose drives me insane, but I have a hard time not doing it.  So, I finally scheduled a physical exam for next week, to see what is going on with me.  I am going to stop trying to self-diagnose and leave it to my internalist to help me put the puzzle pieces together. 
Last night, when I got home with my children, my youngest was so cozy on the couch, on the verge of falling asleep, and I was laying on the floor thinking about how great a nap would feel.  Then my older son began laughing and talking about something and before I knew it, they were outside playing and having a blast.  I lifted my post-surgery leg and didn't like how much it still aches.  So I did my physical therapy exercises.  These are no joke, and include one-legged step squats and lunges.  By the time I was done, I was feeling awake, and decided to try a core move that I'd found, knee planks.  I got a couple sets in before everyone was back in the house asking for dinner and help with baths, etc.  It made me feel a little more energetic and gave me hope that I would be able to commit to doing it more often, as I hadn't done PT more than a few times in the past month that I've been back to work.  My entire lower body is still really weak.  I don't like how that feels.  So I want to do my physical therapy 3 times a week, and sneak in some core training, as it is something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing in the gym (at least, not the moves I've got, which all involve being on the floor). 
This morning I was fighting myself about getting up to do cardio.  I didn't have the option to get to the gym because my husband was working earlier than normal, and I sat in my bed trying to find an excuse to go back to bed.  Did I have a slight headache/sinus ache?  Yep.  Was I tired? Yep.  Stiff/sore in multiple parts of my body? Uh huh.  But in my eternal inner dialogue there was some glimmer of logic.  I thought about that little extra boost of energy I got from the previous night's endeavors and thought, I rarely ever regret going for a walk and got up and made it happen. I wish I could describe the smell of the different kinds of vegetation here where I live.  We have trees that smell like they are in perpetual fruit blossom, and weeds that smell like asparagus, wild dill and everything in between.  The air was humid, but a nice breeze kept me from being too hot.  I was immediately aware of how last night's therapy irritated my knee and made my thigh bone sensitive.  A strange sensation, this.  Part of my surgery was smoothing out some splinters on both my shin and thigh bones, and for some reason it has made them sensitive at times.  It feels a bit like an electrical shock inside the bone.  Anyway, I was limping and sore, and noticing how oddly my knee turns as I walk, and seeing potential issues not too far down the road, but then I let my mind drift to other things, to the move to California, to having nice weather all year round and to the fact that this morning's overcast sky was a releif to this sun allergy-stricken girl, and appreciating the fact that everything is lush and green and I can actually get out and walk.  After about 20 minutes or so, the endorphins kicked in and the knee felt a little better, and I silently reminded myself that sometimes "the good stuff" takes a little longer than we expected. 
I know I've got some mental housekeeping to take care of, because I am still using food as a drug.  And sometimes when I need to take a painkiller (the ones they gave me after surgery) I am noticing that they make me feel almost the same as indulging in off-plan food does.  I wish it were easier to pinpoint what is going on in my head, that my subconscious is guarding so tightly.  I guess the copious amount of time I spend thinking about my weight would be wiser spent trying to fix what is damaged inside of me.  I'm really great at fooling everyone including myself, that my life is great, but then what is it that I am constantly trying to comfort?  Work to be done, indeed.  I am realizing though, that using that as an excuse to not do something is only hurting me more.  I feel like half the summer has past and I am just now waking up, still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and looking out a hazy window, deciding whether or not to step outside or hide within.  I am not gung-ho, 100% on board, but at least I am getting back in the game. 
My good stuff is out there somewhere, it's just taking a little longer to get to it than I expected.
Happy Friday!  I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This is Getting Old

I could probably copy and paste any number of posts from the past 2 years in here, as I feel like a broken record skipping over and over on my least favorite song.  I'm stuck.  I'm confused.  I have no energy.  I am too sore/need a rest/ just generally don't feel good/have sinus issues/haven't slept wellWhen will it ever end?!
I feel like I am rolling down a steep hill and trying to stop myself with a blade of grass.  I feel like my days are not long enough, even though I have less on my plate now than I have since September.  I feel really old and worn out and almost useless.  I see changes happening in my body that are making me really worry about aging. I spend my days swinging wildly between over and underwhelmed and trying to think and organize a million thoughts at once. I want to get back on the wagon but I feel like something is wrong with me, and I am starting to feel the atrophy and wonder if I will ever get my strength, fire or energy back.  When I think of when I was unstoppable, I feel like that was a much younger and vibrant person compared to who I am now.  The knee thing stopped me in my tracks.  I can't keep using it as an excuse.  Things don't get better without effort. 
I am especially frustrated with how my body is feeling lately.  Its not just that I don't want to get moving, but that I have NO ENERGY, and when I do push myself anyway, my body revolts, giving me pain in my knee, hip, heel, or head.  Even my recovery times have become completely ridiculous, taking nearly a full week to rid my body of pain and stiffness after a good training session in the gym.   And the more I research my sun allergy, PLME (Polymorphic Light Explosion) which seems to be getting worse, the more I am seeing a link to Lupus and other auto-immune disesases, and it scares me because I have some of the symptoms of Lupus.  But I am known to believe I have a disease just from researching it, so I am trying to not overreact.  I will eventually have things checked out, as I don't feel like myself and I want my mojo back.  Part of that could be the simple fact that I have neglected my body, and have been so limited in what I can do for so long, that I have been taking it easier than I needed to.  I have regained 23 pounds since my lowest weight, and that is a lot of extra stress to put a body through.  In the past I have said countless times,  I know I can get over this, and get back on track, but I am really feeling like I need some help this time.  I don't know where that will come from or in what form, it may be as simple as getting a physical exam and discussing my lack of energy with my doctor, or in a visit with our staff nutritionist or even a session with a mental health counsellor.  Sometimes I can't tell what is fighting me harder, my body or my mind.  All I know is that I am not giving up.  I was happier, stronger, more confident and just more alive when I was conquering my demons one at a time.  I miss having that drive and that release.  This whole in between and underneath is getting old, and it's making me feel old.  And I'm too young to feel that way.
Hopefully my next post will be written in post-workout glow.  A girl can always dream!
Hope your Wednesday is going great!

Busy Week; Busy but Weak

**This is a post from last weekend that just went through now.**
Today is the first day in about a week that my head has been "in the game" in matters of diet and exercise.  My schedule has been off, my inspiration and energy depleted; sleep inconsistent.  I have had a lot on my plate as my kids' school year is winding down, and business in my office is booming while we are short-staffed due to vacations and such.  I am also making headway in planning our potential move to California next April, with my seemingly endless hours of research starting to pay off, we have finally narrowed down that we will likely live in the suburbs of Sacramento.  
At work, I was singled out and honored with a $1,000 scholarship award toward my education, which put me closer to the VP of human resources, who interestingly enough, also sits on the board of the company I dream of working for.  She has asked that I stay in touch as I get through my courses, which is a good sign.  
My surgeon has released me from his care, and I've returned to work full time.  My knee still bothers me from time to time, but nothing like before.  My Dr told me that because of the amount of tissue he removed, I will get arthritis in that knee at some point.  But my goal right now is going to be to make sure my muscles are strong enough to support me, to help lessen the impact to my entire body.  I am going to focus on core training, something I've never looked into or given much thought about.  This injury has shown me how weak my core is, and how easily that can have a domino effect on other body parts. 
Today as I was walking, I was thinking a lot about running.  At no point did anyone tell me I shouldn't or couldn't run anymore, in fact my physical therapist asked if I had gotten back to it, and I told her that I was giving it up, because I am at higher risk due to the reduced amount of tissue.  She said nothing about it.  I'm sure it would be better for me if I didn't, and would stave off the old arthritis a bit longer, but I allowed myself to at least consider it.  I won't run again unless I have my form assessed and get shoes that are correct for me.  The company I work for has an excellent sports medicine team (they help train Boston Marathoners) and they offer visual and video assessment for $99.  I am keeping it in mind. 
I am noticing how greatly my hormonal cycle plays into my energy, will, and drive, as well as cravings.  Half the month I am driven and committed like nobody's business, the other half, quasi-committed and caving into to cravings for salt, fat, and sweets.  Sigh.  To find a way to not give in, I am still struggling.  It's causing me to feel like I'm constantly having to restart.  
I finally bought a great cookbook for plant-based eating called the Happy Herbivore, and am excited to try some new recipes.  I think that has been some of my problem staying on track, what the hell can I eat?!  But I'm slowly figuring things out.  And eventually, it will be second nature.  
Now if only I can make getting to the gym second nature too...
Hope you are well and enjoying some nice weather!