Saturday, December 6, 2008

We now join our show already in progress...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

We now join our show already in progress...

Current mood: chill

Category: chill Life

It's time for a big update so those of you in my life who are in the inner circle and get the daily updates can skip this one (or just skip down to where it says CURRENT for the latest update) but I have picked up several new friends/readers over the last few months and for those of you who might wonder or have questions and don't have the time/desire to go back and read the archives (which is easier to do on my Blogger acct than it is on myspace- here is the Blogger link if you want to check that one out- it has pics!!
So let's start with what kicked off the need to write a blog. My brother Troy passed away on December 31, 2007. He was 42 and he killed himself. I had gone home for Christmas last year to spend time with my Grandma who is at the Eastern Star nursing home and so from the time I got there to the day I left I spent as much time as I could with her thinking it might be the last chance I got to see her- it is beyond ironic that it instead turned out to be the last time I saw my brother alive and have seen my Grandma several more times). She is in her 90's and her quality of life is slipping, as it does for anyone in their 90's. I flew back to Phoenix on the 27th of december and then on new years eve got the phone call that changed my life forever. I will go into more detail about that night and the events that followed later but suffice to say for now that my life got flipped upside down that day and hasn't landed yet. Everything is still in the air for me and my entire family. As it turns out we are not a group who is very good at getting over things...not that you could ever get over losing someone this way.

So, after spending a week back home to be with my family and then flying the longest and most painful flight of my life back to Phoenix I was alone. Very alone. I have lived alone for a long time and have often had to explain the difference of "being alone" and "being lonely" to married people especially but this is the first time in my life I felt frozen and isolated and utterly totally alone in the universe. I was in so much pain and couldn't reach out to anyone else because the only people who knew what I was going through werein just as much pain and couldn't help me.In fact, I have been taksed as being "the strong one" at a time when I was crumbling a bit more and more everyday. I had a lot of time to think and reflect and try to figure out answers to the 10,000 versions of the question "why" that thumped in my temples like a raging migraine. I saw what happened to my family after losing someone and I took a good long look in the mirror and thought about where I am in my life and if I am leading the kind of life I wanted. One of my favorite quotes is "your life is a reflection of your mind" and I could not say that I felt my life reflected who I feel like I am inside my mind and heart. SO....I decided to do what I could to make some good come out of losing my brother and give me something BIG to focus my energies on. Truth be told I had aleady been making the shift towards this path for months before but the death of my brother is def. the catalyst that was the final push to walk the plank.

On April 3, 2007 I began a program called Smart for Life. This is also known as the cookie diet but that is a bit misleading, tell you why in a second. The local radio station I listen to is KISS and one of the DJ's on there had been on this diet and lost over 100lbs. It sounded like a good fit for me so I checked it out then made an appt. The initial assessment includes an EKG, BMI (measure your Boby Mass Index) and metabolic blood work. Then they explain the diet which is an 800 calorie diet and your meals consist of these "cookies" you eat during the day (which are organic, and scientifically developed by a food scientist and are very dry "health food" like and do not taste like cookies!) and at night you have a "regular" meal of 6 oz of lean protein (no beef- chicken, fish and turkey) and 2 servings of veggies.

Now I have been on it awhile now so I sub out some of my cookies for the shakes and soups they have. At this point my daily food is 1 shake for breakfast (which equals 2 cookies) then I have one cookie about 10ish then for lunch I have soup (just started the soup and its soo good in the winter, guess it just never sounded good when it was 120 degrees out). Then before 5 I have 2 more cookies (been microwaving them now and it makes them taste better). There are 8 flavors of cookies but I stick with 2- banana and chocolate chip. The banana tastes a bit like banana bread when warm. The soup is the chicken soup- they have beef but I don't go there. At home I eat a lot of fish (throw a couple of frozen tilapia fillets in the oven) or I'll bake some chicken and have a salad or make some steamed veggies. I can have frozen dinners no more than 3 nights a week and they have to be under 300 calories. The Lean Cuisine fish entrees are my faves!
After my inital assessment I was advised to go to my doctor because I had a pretty severe wound on my leg. It had been developing for months and was causing my legs and feet to swell to the point where I could only wear flip flops and crocs for shoes (which was sooo much fun wearing back in Iowa in the winter). I had noticed months before that I had these bumps (acne like) that would burst and leak a clear fluid. They kept getting worse as I waited for it to get better and my legs and ankles swelled to the point where there was a deep ridge around my ankle that was getting raw and sore from all this fluid accumulating. So the doctor sent me to my doctor who didn't know what it was but sent me to the Wound Care Clinic. I went and for the first time hear the word "lymphodema". No one explained what that was but a lymphodema pump was perscribed which is a $4,000 piece of durable medical equipment which I was told was the only fix (it basically "milks" the accumulated fluid up and out of your legs by sequential squeezing) and which kicked off a 3 month battle with my insurance company to get said piece of equipment. In the meantime my wounds were getting much worse and the only thing the wound care doc was telling me was to keep the wounds dry. This meant taping 3-4 4x4 gauge pads together to cover the wound (it has spread that much) and my ankle wrapped to keep the crease as dry as possible. This went on for months until I was finally referred to the Lymphodema clinic at Scottsdale Healthcare. It took several weeks to get in but thank god I know the Director there so I was able to pull some strings and get an earlier appointment. This is where I learned what I had and what to do about it.

Lymphodema is a chronic condition, meaning I have it and will have it for the rest of my life. It is a failure of the lymph nodes to regualte the flow of lymphatic fluid through your body and in my case my legs were affected (some people have it in their arms). If you think of waiter doors- one swings in and one swings out door is broken so all the fluid accumulates in my legs and doesn't get pushed out properly). It very very often goes undiagnosed in overweight people because doctors attribute it to the weight and think more about the heart than the lymph system. I began treatment which was a very specific clincial massage and then wrapping my legs. If you have looked at my myspace pics those are what you see there. I started by keeping my legs wrapped 24/7 for almost 3 weeks while I was getting treatment and during that time I lost the equivalent of three 2 liter bottles of fluid from my legs and the wounds totally healed up. The next step was for me to wear compression stockings during the day (that nice, attractive medical stocking brown color of course) and wrap my legs up at night. Oh and the pump I fought like a banshee for with my insurance company that cost 4 grand? Yeah, didn't need it so much after all but I have it. It doesn't hurt using it but that alone never would have been affective.
At this point my leg care is: get out of bed, take off leg wrappings (5 layers of bandages), get ready for my day then put on the compression stockings (they basically just keep fluid from accumulating in my legs during the day). Get home, do 30 mins (down from an hour) of self massage in my lymph nodes (groin, neck, armpits and tummy) then by 8pm wrap up my legs. I have a special tool to wrap them because it takes a good 45 mins to wrap them manually and 25 mins to do it the bandage roller I bought. At least now that it is not 114 degrees is it not so bad wearing them and it was a great great day when I could start wearing "normal" shoes again!
I also wear bike shorts (compression shorts) at night to keep the lymphatic fluid from pooling in my thigh area or (gasp) gential area! Fun eh?

The prognosis for my legs is unknown. As I lose the weight it will lessen the pressure on the lymph nodes and I may be able to lose the wrapping at some point and just wear the compression stockings but this is chronic and will always be there so really only time will tell. So the rountine I just explained will be in place until....???

Still with me? Told you this was a super fun recap. OK, the blood work also confirmed that I have a thyroid isses which I knew and I got back on meds to correct that. I go every 6 weeks to get my blood checked and everything is fine. I get a full cholesterol panel done as well and my cholestrerol went from 240 to 177. All other functions (liver, sugars, etc...) are normal so I am being very careful about doing this weight loss thing as healthy as possible.

CURRENT: (in case anyone wanted to just skip to the good stuff) As you know I go every week to get weighed in and as of yesterday I am down a total of 147 lbs. The interesting news is the doctor wants me to take a break to let my body rest for a bit. Guess you can't live on 800 calories forever but I have obvious concerns of stopping before I hit my goal. My ultimate goal is to hit 145. That is the low end of the healthy range for my height/age/weight according to the BMI. I am not stuck on that number per se but it is the goal for now. I am scared to stop and lose momentum and what if I don't lose or even gain while I take this break? I will do what the doctor says because I do want to do what is best for my body but I am concerned. We shall see what happens.I guess she wants to take me up to 1400-1600 calories a day so I should still lose and be able to exercise more.

You may recall that I had talked about doing yoga and walking a mile a day? Well I had to stop that because I wasn't losing any weight. I was cutting into the core 600 you need to stay alive and keep your prgans functioning and my body was going into starvation mode so I had to cut the exercise for now. Which was bummer because I really liked it. So if I add in more calories I can do more. It's back to my analogy that your body is a car with a one day tank. You only put as much in the tank for as far as you want to go that day. If I put more in the tank I can do more.

Wow, that seems like a ton of information and I hope it catches everyone up. I have to admit that I have been very honest and open here knowing the small pool that has been following my adventures but now as I learn more people are reading it I am feeling a bit self conscious. I think it may be a high school reaction to because the Boone High Class of 88 has found Facebook and declared it to be the new "3rd floor". I guess I am hoping that there are no judgements thrown out there. The 38 year old me is all "I am a grown woman so who give a shit" but the 16 year old me still wants everyone to like me. Especially since so many of you still live around my family. I am all safe here in Phoenix but I have this little movie in my head where someone sees my sister or mother at Hy-Vee and proceeds to give a commentary on my blog. You can take the girl outta the small town...but her family still lives there.

But, at the end of the day this is my space to with what I want and I am putting it out there in truth, honesty and with the goal fo healing myself and doing the best I can to tell my story in my way.

If you have any question feel free to ask and I there will be much more to come....

No comments: