Mar 12, 2010

I'm Fine

I'm such a drama queen.  To all my loved ones: I'm sorry.  I'm sorry I worried you and sorry I allowed myself to sink so low into the muck.  I promise I'm out of it now, cleaned off and ready to move forward.

I've lost 5 pounds in 5 days.  For the first time in a dozen years I weigh 190 pounds.  It's a good start.

And that's what I'm focusing on from now on: the good things.  And they do exist.  I realized last night during a major meltdown that my attitude was defeating the purpose of all of this.  If I was set to live miserably for the rest of my life, which life was now going to be much longer because I'm actually taking care of myself, then that meant that my changes were only setting me up for a lifetime of being miserable.  What's the point of that?  Plus, my misery was making my family miserable, too, and enough was enough. 

It's still hard, unbelievably so.  I can't feel a little without wanting to feel it all, so every day is focused on just getting through it.  Food is no longer a joy in life, it's just fuel.  But I'm determined to find the energy to go out and do the things that other people (and me in the past) find fun.  We're going rollerskating tonight.  Sunday, we're taking the boy to the park in Bowie so he can spend time with his friends.  I'd like to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie.  I have my Don Maass conference next month and still have some work to do for that.  All good things.  That's where my focus is.  That, and breaking the 190-pound mark over the weekend.


Oatmeal, banana 79
365 organic macaroni and beef micro meal 159
Cheerios 111


Out of bed 98
Oatmeal, banana (will fill in later)
Amy's organic micro meal (will fill in later)
Cheerios (will fill in later)

Mar 11, 2010

Define Happiness and Health

My last post was two days ago and it feels like months. 

I'm not being dramatic, at least not intentionally.  Tuesday, Wednesday and today I have lived the "good" life, one of low-fat, low-sugar and low-cholesterol.  I call it the Low Life Diet.  I barely have the energy to write this post.  I'm not kidding.

I've been thinking nonstop these past few days about what it really means to be healthy, and what it means to be happy.  Is it healthy to not care if the world blew up tomorrow?  Is it wrong to be happy surrounded by fun food?  It all feels mixed up in my head.

I know how I'm supposed to feel.  I'm supposed to love eating cardboard and feel refreshed and alert every morning and be full of energy to go out and bike ride all day long and clean my house from top to bottom and still have time and energy to be President of the PTA.  I'm supposed to want to be so thin that my collarbone looks like it belongs to a chicken and the only curves on my body are the rounded ones of my head.  When I'm happy, I'm supposed to celebrate by going for a hike, and when I'm depressed, I'm supposed to cheer myself up by writing a list of all the good things in my life.

I don't know how people live like that.

Don't get me wrong.  I never wanted to be enormous and gross and waddle around wheezing from lack of oxygen to my fat-crushed lungs.  I never had a goal of not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop a dozen times (once for each step).  I've always wanted to be healthy, but in a sane way that would also allow me to eat my fucking macaroni and cheese every once in a while.  Is that too much to ask?

Alas, according to my chemical makeup, it is.  So now, instead of looking forward to dinner with my family, I rush home, shovel down a serving of Cheerios and run upstairs so I don't have to watch or smell them cooking the food I love.  The kitchen used to be my home-within-a-home, the place where I was always happiest (next to the bedroom, wink wink), and now I feel like it's No Man's Land, somewhere I don't dare stay for too long for fear of what I'll do.

I'm not ready to "cook" my "healthy" "food" in there yet.  In fact, there's nothing TO cook.  And I'm not strong enough to watch anyone else use my pots and pans and stand where I always stood between stove and cutting boards and make some meal that I can't eat.  A meal for MY family, for whom cooking was my major household contribution.  Now I just try to stay out of everyone's way, including my own, and sleep as much as I can to escape from this "healthy" new lifestyle.

I really hope the happy part starts soon.


Green Lemonade, banana 100
Organic waffles without syrup, Kashi microwavable meal 95
Handful of unsalted pistacios
Cheerios with 2% milk

Out of bed 94
Green Lemonade, banana, plain instant organic oatmeal 104
Kashi microwavable meal 111
Cheerios with 2% milk

Green Lemonade, banana, plain instant organic oatmeal 79

Mar 9, 2010

Shades of Grey

Let me tell you a story.  It's a little graphic and angry, just so you're warned.  It will include words like "menstrual cycle" and "blood clots" so read ahead at your discretion.

I began my new drug, Januvia, on Thursday.  Coincidentally, my menstrual cycle had started a day or two earlier.  My period takes its sweet time getting here, even after it's made the annoucement that it's on its way, so I wasn't bleeding much yet.  By Sunday night, the heavy day stage had arrived.  I anticipated the usual pattern of 24-36 hours of bleeding like a stuck pig. 

I always bleed a lot.  I also clot, big dark-red blobs the size of my palm two or three times during a cycle.  Big deal.  Been doing it for twenty-five years now and it's nothing scary or even gross anymore.  It is what it is.  But by Monday morning, I'd racked up at least half a dozen clots and they'd doubled to the size of my whole hand.  And I was bleeding even more than usual.  By the time I got to work, I'd lost the usual amount of blood in two hours that I normally lose within a full day-and-a-half.  At work, I went through two full days' worth of pads and tampons in two hours.  Sometimes I had to change again before I even left the restroom.  Then, at around 11:00 a.m., I bled through my clothes.  The stain was a six-inch-square patch of red surprise.  I called my doctor.

Have you ever had to call your doctor for anything other than an appointment?  There's no feeling like the one you get when you briefly tell the receptionist why you're calling and instead of the usual, "Thank you, Ms. Baumann, I'll leave the message for the doctor and he'll call you back as soon as he can." you instead get, "Please hold on a moment," and less than a minute later the doctor is on the line.  That's way fucking scarier than a whole bucket of blood, I swear it is.

So I told Dr. Weinstein everything and he said, "You need to come in.  Can you come now?"  I work in D.C. and he's sixty miles away in Baltimore so, in a nutshell, no I couldn't come now.  We agreed to meet at 4:00.

In his office, he reviewed my blood sugar log (and praised me for the great work I was doing).  Then he told me I need to be on cholesterol meds and the birth control pill in order to regulate my period.  I told him I didn't want more pills, that I wanted to fix things through weight loss and diet, and he was understanding but adamant.  "That's great," he said, "but if you're learning to tightrope walk, your first step shouldn't be to remove the safety net.  If you want to lose the weight and then come off the meds and see how your body does, that'd be fine."

Then he said we could talk about it more after he'd examined me.  (We always talk first and examine second.)  Even though my bleeding had slowed considerably by that point, apparently I was still pretty bad off because he had to use extra pads and kept saying softly, "Wow, there's just so much blood."  He asked me if I was dizzy and I admitted I was.  This is normal, it seems, because as I asked him later, you actually can bleed to death through your period.  Your own blood vessels "wash away" the lining of your uterus, and my blood vessels just wouldn't stop washing.  Those clots, which I'd thought were actual pieces of the lining, were actually huge amounts of compressed blood.  That's when he insisted that, for this month at least, I go on the pill at least to stop the bleeding.  (The estrogen in the pill apparently heals the vessels and makes them stop pouring out blood.)

He asked if my uterus had been contracting, and I said it was.  Then he said he's have to do another biopsy, just like the first one of months and months ago.  I wasn't worried.  I can deal pretty well with pain and I'd been through it before so I knew what to expect.  First came the needle to my cervix to numb things.  Then the little brush-wand through the cervix and which would then bend at a 90-degree angle in order to do a 360-degree sweep of my uterine walls.  Last time it was rather uncomfortable.  This time it felt like someone was dragging their nails inside me.  And then punched me for good measure.

When it was over, my sweaty hands let go their grip on the paper gown and I tried not to cry on the table.  Dr. Weinstein was as kind as ever and the pain was through no fault of his.  My insides were so traumatized by the bleeding and whatever else was happening that it was as if every nerve was a live wire. 

Al helped me to the bathroom and held me while I kept trying not to cry.  I knew what this all meant.  A blind idiot could see it.  Things were steadily getting worse.  In his office, after the biopsy, Dr. W told me gently and plainly that we had to get this under control or I would get uterine cancer.  He didn't mince words, though he spoke kindly.  There was no other option.  Either it gets fixed or else.  And there's only one way to fix it.


Of course.

No more candy, ice cream or sweets (except the occasionaly dark chocolate piece)
No more potatoes, period
Very little carbs of any kind including the whole wheat variety, because of my cholesterol
Limited dairy and red meat, also because of my cholesterol
No fried foods
No fast foods
No foods cooked in butter

Here's the bounty of what I can have:

A few fruits and all the non-starchy vegetables that I can choke down
Skinless baked chicken the size of a deck of cards, 2 or 3 times a week
Fish (which I don't eat) 2 or 3 times a week
Dry beans
Olive oil
Nuts (no peanuts), 1 serving a day

Lucky fucking me.

It's taken me over two hours to write all of this because I have to keep stopping to compose myself.  I am at work, after all. 

Not many people understand why this is so hard.  Allow me to explain.

If I told you that you had a serious health concern, a really serious one, and that you needed to fix this health issue immediately, would you do whatever was necessary to make things right with your body?  What if I told you that the only fix for your health issue was to be rendered completely color-blind?  Not the usual kind where blues and greens get mixed up.  I mean completely unable to discern any kind of color at all.  Would you be okay with the idea that you'd be a perfectly healthy person who could only see in shades of grey?  That you'd never again see the beautiful blue of your lover's eyes, or the golden red of your son's hair?  When other people ooh and aah over the gorgeous cherry blossoms or spectacular fireworks, would you be able to stand there and smile politely, having only a memory of those things?

This is what it's like for me.  To everyone who doesn't have a food relationship like I do, this may sound dramatic and extreme, and maybe it's both, but it's still the truth.  This type of dietary restriction severs huge parts of my life.  No more dinners out.  Why?  Because I'm not strong enough to sit there and have a good time eating my salad and broccoli while everyone else is enjoying a steak and a baked potato.  And no, I can't ask or expect--I won't ask or expect--my friends to limit themselves just because of my stupid health issues.  It also means no fairs or outdoor (or indoor) events where they sell food.  A cokehead wouldn't be expected to walk through a maze of cut Columbian Gold, would they?  No luches with friends, no eating out at all, unless it's at some miraculous place that sells only what I can eat.  No family dinners, because why in the hell would I subject anyone else to this shit.  Maybe, if I'm a really good girl, I can still do Thanksgiving.   There, something to look forward to.

So my stress is still at the same level--my job is nothing but a paycheck that I can't give up, my workdays are 12 hours long thanks to my commute, I have no time for family or writing career thanks to my full-time health regime, I'm nowhere near where I want to be in life--yet my one and only affordable stress reliever is gone.  Now what?

Seriously.  Now what?

And if I read one more article where someone recommends replacing food with working out, I'm hunting the author down and taking a dumbbell to their head.  I fucking mean it.

And the worst part of it all is that I'm not supposed to feel anything about this.  Can't feel sad, because then I'm just feeling sorry for myself.  Can't feel angry, because it's my own damn fault.  Can't cry, because that's just plain wussy.  Having to swallow this and pretend that it's just another day in the neighborhood is killing me faster than potatoes were.

This is my life now.

Mar 4, 2010

Keeping Up

March is a new month, and I always fall into the idea that a new month or a new week (or a new year) can change things, erase the past and give me a clean slate.  As if starting a diet or exercise program on a Tuesday would be less effective.  But it's all driven by the heart, and the heart can't always steer well.

I start my new meds today.  Januvia.  Dr. Weinstein says that I'm already pretty close to getting a handle on things, and might even still be able to reverse the whole Diabetes issue someday, but that the Januvia will give me another little leg up.  I still don't trust drugs, never have, but I'm trusting his knowledge and, frankly, I'm ready to admit that I'm human and need all the help I can get.  I want this to be over.  Someday, I want this blog to be about my writing career and less about my dietary struggles.

Someday.  But not today.

I did have a minor breakthrough this afternoon.  I'd had a naughty but filling breakfast of pancakes and bacon.  There's this greasy spoon behind my job called Ferdinands, a tiny little pickup place that makes food like fried chicken wings, cheesesteaks and macaroni and cheese. 

Side Note: I can smell mac and cheese within a 5-mile radius.  I even found some at Au Bon Pain.  If there's a pasta noodle sitting within an inch of some melted cheese, I will find it, rest assured.  If I were a dog, I'd be an AKC-registered M&C Bloodhound.  Purebred.

Back to the breakthrough.  After my delightful breakfast, I tested my b.s. and found it far above my doctor's recently-lowered b.s. cap of 130.  It was over 160.  Bad girl.  Bad pancakes.  Gooood pancakes.  But baaaad pancakes.  So no more pancakes.  Damn it all. 

Now, since breakfast was at 9:00 a.m. and I have to eat every 3 hours--a very difficult thing for me to do since I normally eat every 6 hours--I had to eat again at noon.  And I did.  I assembled my sandwich and popped open a bag of 100-calorie Cheetos.  I brewed some Berry Beauty tea and got a glass of water.  I brought everything back to my office and began to eat. 

After almost an hour, I'd only managed to get down half the sandwich and half the chips.  I wasn't the least bit hungry after my big breakfast.  In fact, I felt exactly as I always do after eating a big meal: I didn't even want to look at food.  That's why I only eat every 6 hours.  And why I'm positively ravenous when I do finally eat again.

I finally threw away the majority of the second half of the sandwich.  I kept my other 100-calorie snack bag for now, 4:00 p.m., so I don't end up starving by dinnertime, when I'm supposed to have my lightest meal of the day.  My Pauper meal. 

And it all made sense.  I guess I knew these things somewhere in my pseudo-educated brain, but the reptilian part of my brain always gets in the way.  We'll see how it all pans out, but so far it looks rather promising.

I logged today's food and b.s. in my last entry so I won't repeat it here.  But I will say that my doctor warned me that I MUST be vigilant about checking my b.s. after every single meal once I begin taking the Januvia.  It always freaks me out when drugs that are supposed to help have potentially nasty side effects, like death.  Christ.

Mar 2, 2010

A Hundred Different Titles

I've written this blog post in my head over and over these past few weeks, never managing to actually write it down on virtual paper.  Probably because I've fallen off the wagon so hard I bruised my ass...and gained three pounds.

I went to the endocrinologist on February 22nd for my follow-up.  I told him I wanted to fast for a few days, get myself back on track.  He was adamant that that wasn't a good idea, that I would be running too high a risk of bingeing as soon as my fast was done, thereby undoing all of the work.  He was right and I was happy to hear it.  So we moved on to other topics--namely, when I eat.

"What do you normally eat for breakfast?" Dr. Weinstein asked.

Thinking to impress him, I replied, "My Green Lemonade and maybe some fruit.  Just like the Raw Foods Diet book says."

"Oh," he said.  His grandfatherly face creased with concern.  "That's not good."

"It's just that I'm not hungry in the morning," I stammered.  "In fact, sometimes I don't even want to drink a glass of water.  It's like my stomach is closed for business." 

"But you eat a large dinner?" he asked.

I nodded.

He smiled gently.  "You are definitely true to your kind."

My "kind" are other women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  Seems we have a habit--a need, one might say--to eat the bulk of our food at the end of the day, close to when we sleep, and that's not a good thing.

So my newest doctor-prescribed goal: eat a good breakfast and a very light dinner.

"Like the saying, 'Eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner'?" I asked.

He smiled like I'd given him a new toy.  "Is that how they're describing it now?"

It's harder than you think.  At least, it's harder than I thought it would be.  When I told Dr. Weinstein that due to my commute I didn't get home most nights until 7:30--90 minutes before my bedtime--he suggested that if I couldn't "walk in the door and eat something light" that I should instead just have a bowl of cereal.


Cheerios, anyone?

That was the 22nd.  Since then I've avoided logging what I eat, I haven't taken my b.s., and I've gained steadily.  I'm now at 198 pounds, which is dangerously close to the dreaded 200-pound mark.  I refuse--REFUSE--to cross that line ever again.

So here I am, trying to write it all down like I promised.  Trying to clean up the mess I've made out of my goals and ambition and salvage what I can.  I can still feel the ink on my back, reminding me that I can do this, that all I need is to remember that I'm worth it, that not feeding the need for heavy, processed foods isn't giving up something good in my life, it's allowing room for change and a chance to exercise my will. 

It's so hard.  I don't want to sound whiney--and forgive me if I do--but it's like pulling a chunk out of my skin every time I force myself to choose a carrot over a piece of fried chicken, or a bowl of cereal over a bowl of creamy mac and cheese.  It feels like punishment.

I can remember when I was pregnant and I lost weight.  Having a baby grow inside me distracted me enough that food didn't take front row in my head for once.  I'm still trying to find something like that today, but haven't managed to yet.  Everything costs money and I can't very well replace food with things that drain my bank account.   Although I'd love to take dance lessons.  Someday.

I'm tired.  Literally tired.  And I'm fighting back tears even as I write this.  I'm grossly disappointed in myself.  I know all the right things to say to reassure my inner child that I'm not a failure, but the fact remains that I technically am a failure.  I set out to do something and I didn't do it, and for no other reason than I didn't have enough willpower.  It's why I delayed writing this for so long.  I promised I'd be honest, and I will continue to be, no matter what.  But it's hard to describe the extent of my lapse without feeling shame.  Yes, I know it's only me putting such a large burden on myself; no one I love does that to me.  I'm grateful for you all.  Sometimes I'm not my own best friend.

I named this entry A Hundred Different Titles because about that many went through my brain before I finally composed this entry.  It's easy to tell where my head was at different times this month when you hear the draft titles:

And The Doctor Said...
What Are We Actually Worth To Ourselves?
[Insert Expletives Here]
The Definition of Failure

I settled on A Hundred Different Titles because it shows best where my head is lately: in a hundred different places.

But I'm not giving up.

I'm NOT giving up.

* * *
Out of Bed: 104
Pork, mac and cheese, mushrooms and asparagus: 103
Sandwich (ham, salami, bologna, cheese...1 slice of each on wheat), 2 100-calorie bags of baked Cheetos 115
Chicken noodle soup

Out of Bed 88
Green Lemonade 83 
Pancakes and bacon (forgot to check)

Out of Bed 89
Pancakes and bacon (didn't forget to check this time...and regretted it 167) more pancakes and bacon.  Big surprise.
Sandwich (same as Tuesday) 118