A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘fat’ Category

Fat Shaming

There is a very strong movement out there that I think is wonderful and way overdue. It seems to be popping up everywhere on the Intranet. There are many web groups that are devoted to the principals of stopping Fat Shaming and Body Acceptance. It’s about time.

See, it isn’t just about just other people accepting a person of size. It is about how you accept yourself and that is the basic principal for most of these groups. They know to change society’s  point of view will include fighting the fashion and medical-insurance worlds. They have to take on the giant media world. But at least they are starting the awareness. This will start with the individual saying “no more guilt and shame.”

This is not about  eating whatever you want. It is about being healthy at any weight. And the first thing that most people say is that if you are overweight you are not healthy. That is not true. The degree of being overweight and the abilities of the person are factors that need to be included in the overall health of a person. But to judge someone by a statistic is unfair and bias. It is how the insurance companies do it. It is how the medical profession where trained. And it is darn near impossible to change those minds.

Most of these programs work with the primary concept that people have to accept and love who they are. If you have self-compassion for yourself, you will naturally take care of yourself. Taking care of you includes eating better. It means dealing timely with health issues. It means getting the care that you need when you need it. It means dealing with stress. It means, and I think this is the most important concept, not letting people make you feel guilty and bad about being you. Do not let people define who you are.

Living in a world where being Fat has only a negative connotation is difficult. You are discriminated, ridiculed and harassed. Up to now, it has been generally accepted that it is ok to pick on the fat person. We see it in our media. Look at the characters who are the bunglers and pathetic ones in movies and TV. They are fat. Fat equals dumb.

Fat shamming will probably never go away. But I am glad that it has a foothold and people are becoming more aware. I think of all the young girls who put themselves through torture to starve themselves and end up with an eating disorder. Being overweight can be an eating disorder too, but you do not see the same empathy for someone who struggles with compulsive eating. I think about how many women think they are grossly overweight and therefore an abomination and they really are not. What do you think would happen if these women were not riddled with guilt and shame?

Getting rid of the guilt and shame to me is the most important part about this new movement. Women are easily boxed in by trying to meet society’s rules. If people are free of guilt and shame, they are able to dream and be creative and do amazing things. I know many women I work with who are so focused on everything they put in their mouths. They count calories or points and perseverate on every morsel and are bound up with such guilt that it limits them to enjoy life. There is little joy for those who are so worried about every point and calorie. Enjoying one piece of cake does not make you a horrible person. It is like being tied to bully. And organizations like Weight Watchers feed that mentality. I know this to be true as I have done WW many times only to end up frustrated and shamed. Nothing says guilt like getting on a scale in front of everyone in a group, being weighed and although they don’t say it out loud…. Failing because you did not lose a pound. OMG, I think of the subjective oppression that brought on.

Being free of food shame is very liberating. And if you really listen to your body, you will eat what you need and when you need to. But that is a hard process to learn in our world. That’s another blog.

Pay attention to this change. It is everywhere. It makes me hopeful for the next generations. It has to be a better world where every individual is important and is allowed to be free from shame and guilt. Join in this fight for freedom of guilt. A healthy body can be at any size.

Here are a couple of organization’s I am involved with:

https://benourished.org/

https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/index.asp

 

 

 

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Fighting for my wellness

rolling fog

I am writing this morning for those who suffer with a chronic illness, especially one that is not widely known by lay people and the medical field. Psoriatic Arthritis is a crippling auto-immune disease that unfortunately I have. But that is not what this blog is about. It’s about advocating for yourself and you wellness, whatever the illness is. The fog is very heavy this morning outside and the grey engulfs the house like a wet shroud. It is peaceful but it reminds me of the travels I have had lately with the medical world trying to figure out what was going on with me. It is like traversing through a fog. I hope that someone who needs to know they are not alone will find solace in my words and the strength to fight on.

When I was first afflicted with this disease, no one would believe it was anything more than me being fat. I had very bad pain in my feet, lower back, and sometimes other joints. I played tennis at the time three times a week at a tournament level. It was nothing for a match to go three or more hours. Most times I would not hurt until afterwards, but then I started having back pain before the game. Stretching helped, but not much. My energy level also started to wane and simple tasks around my home would wear me out. After my divorce, the disease bloomed full on. The stress exacerbated everything along with another medical emergency. I can say that I went from occasional pain to constant in very short order. But no one would listen and the medical advice I got was to lose weight.

Funny thing, I did drop almost 35 pounds when I had the medical emergency but the disease still happened. I had recently switched to a new doctor after the one I had almost killed me with not letting me have a medical procedure I needed. Finally, when my hands started to turn into claws, they tested me. No one also correlated the funny rash that was appearing all over my body. It itched and it was everywhere. I went to the dermatologist and even he did not know what it was at the time. They thought hives possibly brought on by the stress of my divorce and move.

A year later, after the tests, the answer was psoriatic arthritis. The rash was a different form of psoriasis that did not present in the normal way of the white crusty patches. I ended up with that much later on in the disease progression. I had to make my doctor look past the weight and see the human. She was great afterwards and when I said this about that, she listened. She actually escalated my visit to the rheumatologist so I could have the help I needed. I have been with him for ten years.

Psoriatic Arthritis was so new (in the scheme of things) that there was little in the way of medicine. I was put on methotrexate (MTX) and prednisone. I felt better but after less than a year in, my sugar readings, my A1C, was 13. I never had high sugar before. I also was peeing blood constantly. I was having labs done but no one said anything until my appointment with my reheumy. He said my kidney crashed. I was then sent on a rotation of seeing specialists. I saw the most egotistical endocrinologist who said lose weight and a nephrologist, who said lose weight and an urologist who found nothing. The tests were pervasive and inconclusive. My reheumy put me on Enbrel. Slowly all my labs returned back to normal. Except my kidney function never was perfect again. My A1c went back to 5.6 and remained there for many years until slowly there was a creeping of it rising.

After year seven, the Enbrel started to fail. I then was put through two years of hell. My PsA started to flare out of control. My P was not so bad but was coming back. The first drug I tried was Simponi. I stuck with that for six months. My A1C kept creeping up and the diarrhea was so prolific, it changed my life. I will not go into much, but I learned to be very empathetic with those who have Crohn’s or IBS. My blood pressure began to be out of control. I told my reheumy I wanted off and he put me on Cimzia. Within the second shot, my glucose readings were 350 to 400. This is the shot that truly wrecked my ability to synthesize sugar. I went off everything for about two months. My BP returned to 127 to 70 and my A1 c went back down to 6.5 -7. Meanwhile, my PsA was not medicated and kept getting worse. I was also beginning to get covered in pustular psoriasis.

I had to let the drugs get out of my system and then we tried Otezla. This was supposed to be magic. It would possibly help me to lose weight. This was the worse of the worse. I felt like I was going to fall over at any minute. Walking was pure torture. It made the pain worse and I bloomed psoriasis like it was spring and I was a fertile field. Next was leflunomide. There was not enough time in between to get the old stuff out of my system before we put something else in. Then in July we tried Humira. I had tried it once before for a very brief time and it did nothing. I was hoping it would work this time.

This fall, after taking two shots a month, I had been on Humira three months. I was a mess. I knew I could not go back to the reheumy for a bit as he was getting frustrated with my inability to tolerate the drugs he was prescribing. This was a mistake on my behalf. I need to fight for a change again. But I was afraid, so I stupidly kept my mouth shut. I started taking potassium for the horrific leg and foot cramps I was having. I had one at work that had me crying in my office. Fortunately, no one saw me. By November, I was taking Advil every morning. I then added another dose at night. It allowed me to walk, but I was the walking dead. I slept an hour at the most, having to get up to pee or because of the pain. This went on for over a month. NO sleep, constant pain, itching so bad and in places no one should suffer with. I was a mess.

I had labs done and my kidney function was horrible. I stopped the potassium. I was not taking that much anyways but my potassium was a little high. My hemoglobin and hematocrit was in the dumper. It had never been so low. I have My Chart and can see my lab results. The graphs showed major increases where I did not want and huge deficits in my blood. My PCP said very little when I went to see him other than I was fat.  He actually said I should have bariatric surgery. I sat in his office in tears and thought, holy crap, I am back to square one.

Fortunately, a week later,  I went to my reheumy who thought differently. I was having mild chest pains, dyspnea, and my systolic BP was very high. He ordered cardiac tests immediately. I had an EKG, and Echo and a nuclear stress test. He said to stop the Humira and no Advil. I spent the holiday weeks in stress, in the hospital having tests and miserable. I had no strength, no energy, I could not walk, and I could not sleep. My skin was covered, my hair and scalp was awful, and I was crying every five minutes.

It is now about a month since my last shot. My skin is clearing. I have some energy and I can sleep much better. The itching was not from the P but from the Humira. I was having a very bad reaction to it. I went back to the PCP and made him pay attention to the blood work. He finally agreed that the issues, the elevated sugar and BP was from the drug, Humira. He said he thought so before, but he did not prescribe it. No, instead you just called me fat. I told him I was pissed but I did look into the bariatric surgery. I asked him if he knew that if you lose a lot of weight, and your skin sags, that they have to do more surgery and it is not covered under insurance. He smiled a sheepish grin and said yes, he knew. I asked if he knew the level of threat of that surgery for someone with a blood clot issue along with an impaired immune system, how prevalent sepsis was? Again, the sheepish grin…. Yes, he knew the risks but felt he had to suggest it. He has no idea how upset I was.

My BP has dropped forty points consistently. I bought BP meter for my home. My glucose is stable but still too high. The tests revealed that my heart muscle is healthy and strong. I told the cardiologist I am built and look like an OX! She laughed.  I had an ultrasound for the kidney and it too is clear. All of this horrific pain and suffering was from my not speaking up and getting off the Humira faster. I usually do a lot of research on each and every drug and vitamin I take. I did not check on Humira because I wanted to not be predisposed to the idea of side effects. This time I should have. There is clear clinical documentation of cardiac issues brought on by Humira. I was heading for a heart attack.

I am feeling so much better as the drug leaves my system. I just saw the PCP again because the blood work was still going down. He was concerned this time. He put me on iron and gave me a  B12 shot.  Finally.

My whole point of writing this long blog is for those who sit back and do not fight for the treatment you need. Everyone is different. I know many people who have issues with Enbrel. I had none for many years. Do not let the system kill you. If you something is not right, speak up to your Dr. They are not mind readers. If you say you feel like crap, explain it well so they can help. One thing I did not mention was I also requested lab work done monthly. I have to go anyways for my INR so I requested they add a CBC and other tests.  That was how I proved that there was a decline in my blood levels and a sharp decrease in kidney function indicating a problem. It was not enough to say I was tired and was peeing every two seconds. My reheumy added his tests and they indicated that my SED and CRP rates were extremely high indicating inflammation. My pain was truly getting worse. When you think about it, on average, a doctor has about twenty minutes to assess how things are (if you have a good doctor). Without your input, they have to go on what they know in general. Help them help you and do not worry about “what are they going to think?” They are going to think you are smart.

 

 

 

 

 

Rough water

rought sea The River

Have you ever looked at someone who gets out of a handicapped parking space and watch them walk completely normal and even sometimes smoking a cigarette and wonder; “Are they really handicapped?” Or seen a large person struggle to get out and then lumber into the store and think, they should park farther away and walk for the exercise? There are so many people out there who have chronic illness that do not manifest in bloody sores or stumps for legs. But they still are impaired. I often wish that people who know me would walk in my shoes for a day and see how they would manage. I do not have outward signs of what I deal with daily, other than being a large person. But that says it all for most people. I am fat. And what always follows fat is lazy. However I am not lazy in any manner. But this is not about being fat. It is about chronic illness.

I have a friend who husband has been sick for a while. He stopped working, making his poor wife support the family of three. He stays home and often would not even get out of bed. I used to get really upset with my friend who always had an excuse for him. On top of that he smokes a lot of pot. They both smoke(d) cigarettes. He was finally diagnosed with Crohn’s but the medication was too prohibited, I guess, for him to get it. I am not close to her anymore but see her on Facebook. He was just in the hospital for surgery and I am sure it was his Crohn’s. To look at her husband, you would never know how sick he was. I was just as guilty of judgment like so many others.

I face many issues daily, including Crohn’s like symptoms. They have only diagnosed it as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, but Google that and see what you get. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to hear how you suffer. It’s funny, women will go on and on about childbirth extolling all the gory details until in a hushed tone they will add, I pooped myself.  Even my rheumatologist did not want to hear about it. His reply was to go see the doctor I saw for my colonoscopy and stat. He prescribed Imodium.

I discovered that this is not an unusual progression for Psoriatic Arthritis. Not through scientific resources but from other people who are diagnosed with PsA. It is truly a crappy little secret, pun intended. There are a few drugs they prescribe for both issues. Who knew? I did not know that these changes in my physiology were part of the disease progression. Since I was diagnosed years ago, no one ever said I was going to have this issue and here is what to do. They still aren’t telling me what to do. Matter of fact there is little evidence based information on the topic of the link between PsA and Crohn’s.

After reading and talking to my Rheumatologist, we decided to go with a new drug called Cimzia. I have to take two shots every two weeks in my gut. They are self-administered syringes and not injectable pens. Thank goodness I do not mind shots as they are huge syringes. It could take up to three months to actually see any change in my PsA but already my gut is better. Not great, but not feeling like I have to go to the bathroom every five minutes or having a surprise when I have no place to go is a big help.

But in exchange for the things this drug can do, there is always a side effect. For me, it is charlie horses. I had this issue before when I was on Enbrel and it became constant and horrible. I tried to tell both doctors about it and neither one had a way for me to deal with it. I am not dehydrated. I am not lacking in vitamins. Once I stopped the Enbrel, they stopped. I went on Simponi last year and then in August had very dangerous reaction of it spiking my blood pressure and had to come off of it. Now, after only one series of Cimzia shots, the night leg cramps are back. I only slept last night in two hour blocks before my feet or legs would go off and wake me up. They happen in the day where my toes go up the wrong way. The circulation is fine and my ankles are skinny. (They are the thinnest thing on my body) I cannot find much about Cimzia either, not even on my user site. BTW, when you want to find out how a drug works, go to their chat boards. This is where you will really hear about issues from the people who use the drugs. This is much more realistic than the manufacturers statements. For example, I would not have known about the issue with Simponi raising blood pressure. On the manufactures sight they say it is only  a 3% chance. But, because I was aware, I was able to deal with it.  I knew it was a reaction I had from what I read on the user boards and sought medical attention. One person was hospitalized for his reaction which spiked him so high he was a candidate for a stroke.

My point is; we never know what a person is suffering from by the outward appearance. Things like depression and chronic illness and even grief are often not visible from the demeanor and appearance of someone. Often, when you live with these factors, you learn to just deal with and put on a pain free veneer.

I wrote last week about the fact that people are uncomfortable with the suffering of others. I quoted from another blog; He said. “instead of trying to cope and bury your issues, live with them. We are a society where other people’s suffering makes us uncomfortable.” He said that is why people want to help. “It is not really about the sufferer, it is about the dis-ease that suffering generates.” The author, Tim Lawrence, is speaking not about just illness, but grief and loss in general. You can find the rest of his blog at this site; http://www.timjlawrence.com/blog/2015/10/19/everything-doesnt-happen-for-a-reason

So yes, I am whining this morning. But I am trying to offer awareness. People deal with things in their own manner. My husband, who has arthritis in one knee, thinks he is a cripple (until he wants to play golf.) My other friends all have issues and they all deal with them in their own way. My way is to pull inward and shut off from people so I do not have to explain myself. I am not angry, I am in pain. I do not want anyone to dismiss my pain and tell me to get over it. It exhausts me and not sleeping is not going to help. It is very real. But it also very lonely and isolating.

 

 

I am sitting here trying to write through the tears that are pouring out of my eyes. I hate this. I am so frustrated I could melt iron with my anger. And because I know my anger does nothing, I am even more frustrated and around I go until I just burst into tears and sit sobbing until I give up and go to bed. I just thought I would write and see if it helps. So….why am I so upset? Several things.

I have Psoriatic Arthritis. For those who do not know, it is an auto-immune disease which targets the joints and the surround tissue. On the scale of severity, I am pretty lucky and it has only disintegrated my foot, ankle and toes on either foot and I have some deterioration in my lower spine. I can live with the fact that I limp on some days. I can also live with the shooting pain for the most part and the pervasive ache that is so deep in my bones it seems to be like hot lava.

What I cannot live with is the incompetency of the people who I have to work with to get the drug that helps alleviate this pain. Because I am on a specialty drug, I have to go to a high end mail order pharmacy for my drug. Every single time I had to deal with the company, Accredo, it was a major clusterfuck. And they lie like a cheap rug. One time I had to go without my medication for almost three months before they straightened out their mistakes. And then when it was all done, and I went to order the following month, they cancelled my prescription because I had not called for it in three months.

Well, my insurance switched to a new pharmacy. Can you guess what happened? They have it all screwed up. Although it was supposed to be a clear transfer of the script and authorization, it did not happen. So now I am on week 2 past due for my med because of their screw up. First they did not have the authorization and now they say they have an authorization, but it is for the wrong dose. What I do not get is nothing changed from the one pharmacy and the script was for at least six months.

Meanwhile, the pain crawls up my back like a sloth climbing a tree. PsA does not affect just my joints. It also affects my hormones and internal organs. It changes my body chemistry. This creates a situation where I am even more frustrated. I put on weight. So I have been on Weight Watchers now going on three weeks. I lost many pounds the first week, less the next and so far this week I have GAINED 2.5 pounds.

Everyone will say, “it’s what I am eating.” IT IS NOT! I am tracking every mouthful of my food intake.

I am following the point system which gives you a gimme on fruits and vegetables. They say you can eat all you want. Well, for me, it is the basis for my diet normally so this is very easy. But it does not make me lose weight. So now, I am looking up the nutritional value of even the fruits and veggies. For example, broccoli is wonderful for you. But a head of broccoli has five points when you put it into the WW calculator. That’s a lot of points. And yes, I can eat a whole head of broccoli between lunch and dinner. Even with me counting those, I still eat every day 10 or less points than the amount I can. And I gained weight. Do you have any idea how frustrating this is?

So the answer is, move more. Get up and exercise. Well,……. See above. Last night I worked with my DVD on yoga. This morning, I was in pain. As the day wore on, the pain increased instead of got better so I am not doing it again tonight… Anyone else see the issue with this?

Writing helped me to stop crying. I am grateful for that. But I know as soon as I head to bed, I will start again.

On top of all of this, a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer today. This is a re-occurrence for her, but it is not in the same place as it was years ago. I know she will probably be fine, but I cried all the way home thinking about her and how brave and wonderful she is.

And then I think…I have an issue? Ok that set me off again… Night!

What if we had a Fattie Ghetto?

I read something earlier today in the paper which has stuck in my craw all day, festering and making me more and more angry. This was an editorial in the A section. I believe in the right to speak your mind. But when something gets published in the local paper, you better have your facts. This woman clearly did not and was out to make her stand no matter what. I got to tell you, if she was in front of me, I would have hit her. (Not really, I do not hit people) but she would have made the running for the first.

Seems she is proposing legislation to sanction overweight people. She wanted to propose a bill or mandate that people who were morbidity obese HAVE to do something about it. I am sure she is proposing surgery. Maybe she would like people to sew their mouths shut, which is pretty close to having your stomach stitched off. She said anyone who is obese would be sanctioned as well, but she did not reiterate how. She had no statistics, but spouted off like she was an authority on the cost of medical expenses incurred by fatties. (my word…because I am really getting cranked up now) She then went on to liken this legislation to be imposed and regulated the same way that cigarette smokers were sanctioned.

Here is how I see her thinking this would work: Every time a fat person wanted to buy food, they would have to step on a scale. And according to whatever weight they were, they would pay a higher percentage for their purchase. Chicken taco for a skinny mini: $3.59. For a fattie, 35.49. with taxes. Seems fair right? I mean, why should we pay for the extra health cost because this person wants to eat? Right? I mean after all, they are so fat they don’t need to eat.

GRRRRRRR….this is akin to a Nazi state. All the fatties will have to reside in a fat ghetto where they only get water and low fat Weight Watcher’s bread.

When my husband and I first met, I weighed less. We were so poor. We were going to college, working two shit jobs each and trying to keep the mortgage. That was my primary bill. That and the ten year old cars we had. When I went grocery shopping, I spent what I could. We were also feeding his 14 year old daughter who could pack it away. What do you think I bought? I bought the cheapest thing that went the farthest; pasta and sauce with cheap meat. We ate it all the time. I have discovered now for me it is the worse trigger food I have. That and white breads, which was another staple. The result of course was we put on weight.

We went shopping this weekend as I wrote earlier. We filled ¾ of the shopping cart with fruits and vegetables. The rest was a 6 pound only white meat turkey breast for $18.00, low fat ground chicken, and low fat other products like broth and some low fat cheese. No crap at all in the cart. Our bill for two people was over $200.00. We can afford that now, but that was more than I spent in a month back in the day.

When I was teaching in an urban college, I remember the mothers telling me how much they hated shopping for food for the kids. It was cheaper to get a happy meal and be done with it than shop for good healthy products. And on top of that, they were going to school and working jobs. When were they supposed to fix these fancy healthy meals?

To that point, I spent the whole weekend cooking. I made Weigh Watcher’s 1 point vegetable soup. I made buckets of the stuff. I made the turkey breast. We had haddock on Friday. $13.99 a pound. One piece of fish spilt between the two of us was almost $15.00. We bought what fruit was available. All of it was ridiculously priced because it has to be shipped in. I just cut it up to have it finger ready. I made low fat burgers for dinner on Sat and the rest will be for the week. The ground chicken was $4.49 for the package. The package is only 12 ounces, so it cost more than $5.00 a pound. Tricky aren’t they? My weekend off was spent on this effort to eat healthy. In between was spent doing wash and cleaning. Such fun!

My point is this. Here I am working so hard at this healthy life style. This B* tch has the balls to throw out there that all fat people should be penalized for being fat because the impact on the cost of medical issues. I am not going to deny that there is a high prevalence of more disease with obesity. However, not all fat people sit on their ass all day watching TV and stuffing their faces with beer and tacos. Some do. I know this. But not all.

When we were driving around this weekend, I was paying special attention to what food joints we passed. I was shocked and thought no wonder this is an epidemic. Every corner had a fast food joint from burgers to fried chicken. There were tons of pizza palaces and taco stands. There were ice cream and yogurt shops, donuts and on one street, two bake shops and a chocolate store. I did not see one salad joint although I know they exist.

And as far as medical costs: here is something to think about. I worked in the system so I know of what I speak. All people diagnosed with mental retardation or developed disabled have the opportunity to have the State and Federal government pay for everything for them from their diagnosis at infancy to death. They can get housing, food, medical treatment and in some cases full ride to school. Most do not get a degree, but the State believes they have the right to a higher education. And they cost the school systems huge dollars because they need so many services and support. And part of their genetic makeup makes them very susceptible to illness. It was rare to have someone who was MRDD live past 30. We used to institutionalize them to keep society safe. We warehoused them in droves. Then Geraldo Rivera went to Willowbrook in 1987 (not that long ago) and the rest is history. My point is that this is a population that cost taxpayers millions and millions. Lots of dollars have been spent to understand their genetic makeup in order to help them have a better life. 28 years ago people who were MRDD were cast out and ridiculed for a genetic hiccup. Maybe we should have taxed the parents for having mentally challenged children and putting a burden on society. What do you think? (By the way, if you agree with this, stop reading, I cannot help you and you should be ashamed)

See, I am sure people do not see the connection. For some reason we cannot move past that not all overweight people have a terrible lifestyle. People cannot and for some reason will not accept that because their bodies fight them constantly either with metabolism and/or some form of mobility issue some people are prone to putting on weight. I believe there is a genetic connection. If it was all up to what goes in the mouth or how much movement people do, than why are not all people fat? Some people can eat a house of food and not gain weight. Add to this fact that everything slows down as we age including our ability to process sugar. That’s why everyone is getting diabetes for their 50th birthday. Want to guess the cost of diabetic medical costs? Maybe we should put them in the fat ghetto too as they probably overweight anyways or so they say. I hope my skinny super hyper active friend who was diagnosed at 55 with diabetes reads this. She will love it!

And we have such limited choices if you want to purchase prepared foods that are healthy. Much easier to pop a big Mac and call it good. If you scrape the secret sauce off, it will save you 400 calories….. I am joking. I have not eaten McDonald in 30 years.

I cannot and will not stop fighting for this awareness until I fall on my face and suffocate myself in my largeness. That last part, by the way….was sarcasm.

This is not so easy

I have been absent from writing this week. It has been busy, but that is not the reason. I am just going through one of those things and one of those times. January is not a favorite month for me at all. I am the type of person who loves having a million projects going all at once. That is one of the things I like about December. It is so busy. But there is an anticlimactic feeling when it is all over. I don’t want to do anything.

But I am also in the process now of changing my lifestyle and it is becoming apparent to me how necessary this is. I am not sure of the outcome. But in typical fashion I have overdone things.

I went on Weight Watchers. This is my third try with this program. I love it only because it really is a good product to use as a tool. That is all it is. A tool. The thing that will make it work or not is between my ears more than any place. I have to re-evaluate what I do all day.

Fortunately for me I love vegetables. I am very satisfied with a plate full of broccoli. It has not been hard to swing into eating good things. I get into trouble when I am bored. My body sends a message that I can relieve my boredom by munching. This is very common. Good news…veggies are crunchy. Bad news is what happened last week. I had a major diverticulitis attack. Inflammation runs rampant in my body because of the Psoriatic Arthritis. Because of that, about four years ago, I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with diverticulitis. I have had a few mild attacks since. Once you have it, you get it again and again. The one last week was terrible. There is nothing much to do about it except switch to soft foods and broth for a while. That is what I did and I was better. But it was brought on because I put too much fiber in.

The other reason it happened is that I sit at my desk all week. Sitting is terrible for this condition and just not helpful for losing weight. I am trying now to walk around inside our square building a couple of times. I am not the only one so no one says anything when they see you go by several times in a row. But it is something I have to be mindful to do because the day does get away from me. Friday was a perfect example. Every time I went to go walk, someone came in to chat. My Fridays were (operative word: were) my day to catch up because I had no meetings. I had three this Friday. Many people came to grouse because the payroll was messed up and no one in our division got paid. (This is another story) So the tension was high all day and people wanted to kibitz. This happens often that my intention of walking gets waylaid. By the time I get home I am exhausted and have no desire to go out in the subzero cold.

I have to change my thinking on this though. I have to make time for me and I know this. But I also have to realize Rome was not built in a day. For example, Saturday is our shopping day. Once a month, we do a huge shopping. Because I wanted healthier choices in the house we decided to go to the Mecca of stores, Wegmans. Now, there are grocery stores and then there is Wegmans. Their produce is divine. You pay a bit more but it is worth it. It was a nice day so I said lets go to the Mother ship, their premier store in Pittsford. This Wegmans takes up the whole end of a shopping mall. When Cher was here, this is where she wanted to go. It is huge. I wanted the walk. It is like going to a bazaar in India. Bright and colorful and there are people handing out samples everywhere. I do not like the crowds but the store was reasonable. So we walked the store and every isle. Two hours later, and almost to the end and checkout, my legs began to hurt horribly. This is not just muscle pain. I do not mind hurting muscles because it means you are doing something. This is a deep in the bone ache brought on by the PsA. We pushed on and by the time I got home I was ok. It was just too much.

This is what I do. I do too much. I grab on to something and go hog wild and overdo it. I have to slow this down and make it part of my lifestyle. But if you know me, I am not patient. This whole thing has been a bit frustrating.

One of the things people do not get with this type of arthritis is that it is a reaction to stimulation. It is a bad reaction. When I exercise, especially if it is a movement that I have not done or I repeated it a lot my body says. “Oh look, she has a boo boo” and swarms the area with inflammation. Because of that, I have really stopped moving. To add to this, I have extreme charlie horses. I know why I get them, and it is not for any of the physical reasons like dehydration. It is a chemical imbalance and they are triggered because I am in a total body clench most of the time. When I sleep and relax, they go off. I am working on that and have been pretty successful in lessening that response. But, I get them also if I move a certain way and that way can be anytime. I discovered the medicine I am on causes these types of charlies. These muscle cramps are not just in my calves. They are in my thighs and the worse ones are in my gut and abdomen. I get them in my shoulders and back also. Just moving slightly the wrong way and I am writhing in pain.

This is adds to the frustration because I want to move. I sat down the other night to work with my yoga DVD and set off a charlie that hurt into the next day.

In my head, I am trying to not let this all get to me. It would be easier to just say f**k it and let nature takes it course with me. But that would really be stupid and I am not stupid. Nothing I have ever done in my life has been easy. But that’s the point. There have been many roadblocks and obstacles in my life and I have overcome them. I do not remember the things that had me tweaked five years ago. I do not remember things had me tweaked five months ago. Point is we do get over things if we work at it. I cherish what I do have in my life because I worked so hard for it. I have to make my mind up what do I want and then go for it. And then “I need to cut me some slack, Jack!”

The eyes have it

eyes    Today I feel like I reached the bottom, which is fine and now I am on the way up again. So true confessions, there was more going on with my life which I did not share because I did not know all the facts. Something occurred today, which has swung the pendulum. One thing I have learned in the past three years “hang on, nothing stays the same.”

The short story is on New Year’s Eve, I went for an eye appointment to get new glasses. It has been four years and my glasses broke right in half. I had an old pair which was great. Seems my prescription for the past ten years has not changed much. Wonderful!

However this time, the doctor found an anomaly in my eye. She said my optic nerve was enlarged. I made an instant appointment to see a specialist. And then, being who I am, I started Googling.

Turns out that the condition has a variety of names, none of which I knew. Seems the cause of this condition can be from medication, blood pressure, fluid, spinal fluid, and the one that stuck with me…..being obese, which is called papilledema. When I read that, I was devastated and furious. I cannot find anywhere what the connection is and why this can cause this condition.

The first technician I saw today looked at the readings and info from the first doctor and said she felt the readings indicated a normal range. But the Doctor said to do tests anyways. So I went through a battery of tests for about an hour. I had different drops and stared at all sorts of bright things.

This was all fine. Leading up to the appointment was not. All the information I read was….well, it just added to the failure I have been feeling about myself lately. I felt “I did this. I deserved it. If I was thinner, this would not be an issue.” No one can beat themselves up like I can. It was a week of this and it got worse and worse. I would check something on google during work and get upset and then come home and read it again, only adding to my angst.

The bottom line is this. I do not have papilledema. I have the markers for MAYBE glaucoma…. Or it is just the way my eye cup is. She said do not lose any sleep. I asked her if this had anything to do with being fat. She just laughed (nicely) and said no. It may be nothing at all, but without any past history she can’t tell. I may have been born with this enlarged opening. She said to just make sure I have an eye exam every year. We are going to do more baseline readings also. She said actually my eyes were healthy, pressure and depth and thickness of the cornea all were fine. I finally let out my breath.

I had been seeing the same eye doctor my husband had for years. I saw him for about 8 years. Last year, my hubby had to have surgery for cataracts that were so bad, one eye was almost totally occluded. And of course, my husband did not say anything. When they went in, it was much worse than they thought and he was under the knife for an hour…. for a fifteen minute surgery. He is now also seeing someone else.

If I had a vision loss of any kind, I would have known it. I am fanatical about my eyes. I am a photographer. I express myself though the lens. (I don’t post many here) I do so much with my eyes that they are absolutely precious to me. The punishment I put myself through this past week just is a demonstration of what people like me do to themselves.

The upshot of all this is I have this safety net in place to help me protect my eyes. I am ok with her prognosis and diagnosis as she was pretty convincing that this really was not an issue, but preventative.

And I think I finally faced up to some challenges I have about my health. So with this hurtle out of the way, I think things I will start to pick myself up again. I am up for the challenge.