Sunday, December 30, 2012

Beyond frustrated, probably more like angry

In the ongoing saga with my low blood sugar, I went from frustrated to pissed off.  I had a good, hearty breakfast in preparation for a long workout at the gym.  Right before I hopped in the car to drive over there, my blood sugar level was 145.  That was perfectly fine because I had just finished eating about thirty minutes before.  I felt that I would be okay during my workout.  I put a nutrition bar in my purse to eat on my way home afterwards, so I felt pretty armed. During my hour and a half workout, I hit the machines pretty hard and I was just oozing sweat.  It was a "good" sweat, though.  Although, towards the end, my fingers started tingling and I was starting to feel out of sorts.  Uh oh.

I got in my car and ate the nutrition bar on the way home.  As soon as I got in the house, I went straight to the kitchen where my monitor was to test my finger.  My blood sugar had dropped from 145 before my workout to 56.  Dammit! Like I said, I was past frustrated and was just plain pissed off. What can I do to be normal around my blood sugar?  I'm just so confused.  I definitely am tracking everything and have the soonest available appointment with my doctor on January 15th.  Sure, I could go in to see another doctor, but I want to see her.  She is the one that first diagnosed me with diabetes, helped me get to Optifast and has just been through everything with me having been my primary care doctor for the last 15+ years. I want to get her advice on what I should do.  The food plan that the Optifast clinic gave me just isn't going to work for my situation.  If I was still following it, my blood sugar would be even lower than it is now, which is unimaginable for me.  Anyway, after I had the low reading, I chewed on four Lifesavers that I bought yesterday to raise my blood sugar.  Basically, the remedy for low blood sugar is to eat 15 grams of carbohydrates, which is one serving, until it raises and stays elevated.  I decided that I was going to let it go and just try to move on from there.  However, I am going to call my doctor's office tomorrow and see if she can squeeze me in sooner.  Sometimes she does have a couple of appointments held off of the books, so I'll see what she can do.

Trying to move past my anger with the blood sugar, because it wasn't doing anything good for me, I spent the day with my mom.  She took me to lunch and then she went shopping with me so that I can buy a new bed for my guest room as well as an office chair and coffee table.  It was nice to spend the day with her.  For Christmas, I bought her a sapphire earring/ring/necklace set and she wore it today, proud of the way I treat her.  She told me that it made her feel very special and loved.  I am amazed at how far our relationship has grown.  From a childhood of abuse at her hands has grown a very special mother/daughter bond where we work through our issues and have grown to really love and respect each other as adults.  I can be honest with her and she can be that way with me.  As I was paying for the furniture at the counter in the store, she told me she's really proud of the woman I've become.  That meant a lot to me and the anger I was feeling earlier was completely gone.  Things really get put into perspective a lot and what seemed like a huge deal before is inconsequential later on.  Funny how that works, huh?  In my heart, I know things are going to work out just fine with my low blood sugar situation, I just don't know what that's going to look like at the present moment.  I need to trust the process and keep doing what I can to be as regular as possible.

All of this is part of the normal process of life -- working through things until you find solutions that work for you instead of taking it out on your body through food.  The purpose of my writing and this blog in particular is not to convince you to do the Optifast program or even to convince you to lose weight.  It is my journey of how I got up to 417 pounds and what I have done/am doing to walk away from that life into a healthier one in every way possible.  I think Optifast is a wonderful program, but it's not my intention to convince you of that.  It has meant so much to me in my journey, but it's only a very small part of the adventure I find myself on.  If you want to know what the program is like, you definitely can read old posts I've written during the days when I was on the fast.  It's the same thing with the weight loss in general.  I have come to absolutely adore and love exercise.  I look forward to it each day.  I wish everyone could fall in love with it the way I have, but that, again, is not my purpose here. 

I suspect that you follow my blog because you're interested in my story for various reasons.  Maybe it's because you, too, can be described as obese (or worse), you've struggled with weight your whole life or there's some shame associated in some way with your size.  Maybe you're here because you are diabetic and don't want to go down the same path I've gone down.  Maybe you're part of my support system, either in person or online, and you just want to find out how I'm doing.  Or perhaps you read my postings because my story is interesting to you in some way and you're privately rooting for me to conquer the weight battle and stand victorious on the other side.  Oh dear friends, I want the same thing, too.  This stuff is hard, it really is.  The entire world judges a person with a weight problem far more harshly than any other addiction, but believe me when I tell you that food addiction is a real thing and many people suffer from it.  I will never preach on my blog about the right way or wrong way of doing the Optifast program or weight loss in general.  What I will do, though, is continuing to talk about the things I'm going through.  I hope that it reaches you in some significant way, even if nothing more than being interesting.  I am the face of an overeater, but I am also the face of a very scrappy fighter --- Kick Ass Kathy.  She's baaack!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cholesterol lab results

Things are going better with the regulation of my blood sugar today.  I am writing everything down, including the food I'm eating and my blood sugar readings.  This is helping me see how many carbs I need to add per meal or where I need to pull back.  It's a lot of work, but obviously it's well worth it if it keeps me on an even keel.  I had no episodes today of extreme lows in my blood sugar that comes with sweating, disorientation or any of those other symptoms I have been having.

Yesterday I had a lipid panel done at the Kaiser lab and got the results.  This lipid panel shows me how I've been doing with my cholesterol since starting the Optifast program up to this point.  So here are the results:

I went to my first Optifast meeting on February 6th and then started the products the week after that.  So the first result is right before starting the program and the second column is where I stand right now. When you go on the program, they have you stop all of your medications.  At the time, I was taking high cholesterol medication (along with high blood pressure medication) so this is without that medication.  The things that were most striking to me was the change in my good cholesterol level increasing from 53 to 77 and my triglyceride level being slashed in half from 112 to 54.  That's pretty striking.

I need to see this as a reminder of where I've been and how far I have come because I have a tendency to dwell on what's left and not what's gone.  A friend of mine pointed that out when she was having lunch with me today. She told me that I need to remember how significantly my health has changed and how striking the change really is.  Thank you, dear friend, because I need to always be reminded of that.  I'm a visual learner and this is a way I can see my progress.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Grateful for watchful eyes

Today was a much better day with my blood sugar level in general.  I woke up to a reading of 104, which was perfect.  I had to get some lab work done at Kaiser and then meet a friend for a movie and lunch.  Since I had to be fasting for the lab work, I came home and had a late breakfast afterwards before meeting my friend.  I purposely had more carbs with the breakfast to hopefully not dip too low.  I tested my blood sugar and it was 89 before eating.  Then later, I tested my blood sugar again and it was 150.  That was good.  I figured that it would be fine since I wouldn't be exerting any energy while watching a funny movie (we saw Guilt Trip with Barbara Streisand - funny!).

How wrong I was on that front.

About halfway through the movie, I started sweating.  Those that know me now know I don't sweat any more unless I'm working out hard.  Even when I go walking with Sara, I hardly sweat.  Not for lack of trying, just that it's been a change in my life.  When you take off a significant amount of weight, you sweat less.  Couple the sweating with feeling disoriented, cold, tingling fingers and my body starting to tremble, I knew my blood sugar was starting to dip too low.  But, seriously, it was 150 ... how low could it possibly be after only about two hours?  I left my monitor in the console in my car, so I couldn't test.  I did leave my friend to go into the restroom to splash some water in my face, I think in a vain attempt to shake it off.

After the movie was over, I told her I wasn't feeling too well and could we please just have lunch in one of the places near the movie theater.  She looked at me and asked me what was wrong ... she could tell something was off.  It took everything in me not to burst into tears and tell her my blood sugar was low.  That normally wouldn't be a moment where I'd be crying, but given all the low blood sugar I have been dealing with lately, it was a moment of pure frustration along with the caring concern of a dear friend who has been with me through so much of my life's ups and downs.  We ended up going to a place across the parking lot that used to be Pat & Oscars (now called O's American Kitchen for those that have it in their area).  They have decent food there and I knew it would be relatively quick.  I ordered my meal, which was a half-turkey sandwich, side order of pasta and 2 bread sticks.  I purposely ordered it because I knew it had a good amount of carbs.  Is it just me or is it the weirdest thing in the world that now I'm actually seeking out starches to keep my blood sugar normal?

As we were waiting for our food, she got up and got the napkins, forks and whatever else we would need.  She was doing her best to take care of me and I was letting her, which is so unlike me.  My order came first since we were on two separate checks.  She looked across from me in the booth we were sitting at and ordered me to eat.  Here I was being polite, waiting for her food to arrive to start eating and she said it again, "Eat.  Please!"  I caught her up on what's been going on with my blood sugar and asked her if my disorientation was as noticeable on the outside as I was feeling on the inside.  She looked at me with such concern and simply told me, "Yes, it is."  Why am I so focused on being polite instead of taking care of my needs?  Lord only knows.

I have a busy day tomorrow.  I plan on going for a workout first thing in the morning, meeting a friend for lunch who I haven't seen in several months (so I know it'll be a long lunch), going to church and then meeting another friend for dinner after the service.  The place where I do my workout is right next to a grocery store.  I am committing to going in there and buying Lifesavers or something else that is sugary and putting it in my purse.  I also commit to keeping my blood glucose monitor with me at all times.  I should never be in a situation where hypoglycemia can take over my body.  I was reading up on the condition today and here's what the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a trusted government website, has to say about it:

Symptoms (I'm sure you'll be able to spot mine if you've been reading my posts):
Double or blurry vision; fast or pounding heartbeat; feeling cranky or acting aggressive; feeling nervous; headache; hunger; shaking or trembling; sweating; tingling or numbness of the skin; tiredness or weakness; trouble sleeping; and unclear thinking.

I highlighted in yellow all the symptoms I was experiencing while watching the movie in the theater.  The other symptoms are things I have felt at night.  In fact, this may absolutely explain why I am unable to ever get a good night's sleep.  Hmm, something to think about. 

The website went on to say that if a person's blood sugar gets too low, they may faint, have a seizure and/or go into a coma.  So, obviously, I have to be as absolutely proactive as possible.  I am trying my best at this, I promise I am.  In fact, I think it's time I employ a little philosophy a la Yoda:

"Do or do not.  There is no try."

The truth of the matter is that I am dealing with some very serious medical issues and I can't make light of them to try to minimize their potential effects on my body.  It's not funny that I can possibly go into a coma.  I don't know at what point that happens, but I can know without a doubt that I have either already been on the border of that or at least in the neighborhood within the past two weeks.  I can't describe the out of control feelings I have been having, but there is a great deal of fear that accompanies all of this.  I am trusting in the Lord to help me walk through this and reach out for help as I need it.  Sometimes that's the hardest thing for me to do.  Type A personality strikes again.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Keeping track of what I'm doing

Ah, I already miss the days when I was solely on the Optifast products.  There was no thinking involved.  I had six shakes a day, the occasional soups and everything was very regimented.  I had no problem following what was prescribed because, seriously, how could I screw it up?  That's probably why I found it so easy to do for months and months until I did the modified fast and then, finally, the full-fast.

Don't get me wrong ... I am not second-guessing my decision to go off the products and onto weight loss the old-fashioned way through diet and exercise.  I just miss the absolute simplicity.  Now I'm sort of relearning some things and how I will continue living healthfully with diabetes or without diabetes (we're just not sure where I stand these days with all of that).  Today my blood sugar levels were better.  The lowest I got was 59 in the middle of the night, which was low, but the lowest it got today during the day after that was 70.  Of course, I had to manipulate my food intake to get myself there.  When it was 59 this morning, I had to have products with sugar in them to regulate it.  That was really hard to do because every fiber of my being was fighting it.  I didn't want to do it.  I thought maybe if I just stuck my head in the sand, it would magically get better.  Naive?  For sure!  Clicking my heels together three times also doesn't work, just in case you were wondering.

Since I track my food, I logged in the products and calories I had to get my blood sugar normal.  It took 793 calories of sugar to not only get me normal this morning but stay there.  Let me tell you, it was a sickening experience.  In fact, throughout the day, I remembered that feeling this morning and made sure to have more carbs when I ate because I didn't want to repeat that low blood sugar again.  I also didn't take the diabetes medication this morning.  I have decided that I'm going to do the best I can to not take it, at least until I see my doctor for advice, and just monitor where I'm at a lot during the day.  So here's how I did:

  • 2:30 a.m. - woke up to a blood sugar of 59 so I had those 793 calories to regulate starting here and lasting for the next 4 hours
  • 3:13 a.m. - 70
  • 4:21 a.m. - 70
  • 6:43 a.m. - 90 finally in the normal range (normal fasting four hours after eating is 80-120)
  • 8:49 a.m. - 100 had a mid-morning snack of carbs before heading out for the day
  • 2:01 p.m. - 71 after lunch, starting to get in the danger zone again, didn't have many carbs with my meal
  • 3:34 p.m. - 91 after a mid-afternoon snack
  • 5:17 p.m. - 81 pre-workout, had 3 servings of carbs before hitting the gym since I knew I would dip low because of the exercise
  • 9:05 p.m. - 95 right after dinner, the level will raise within the next several hours but I made sure to have plenty of carbs with my meal
  • 11:05 p.m. - 106 given I just had dinner two hours ago, it's actually a little low - it should be about 140-160 two-four hours after a meal but we'll see how it fares by the time I wake up in the morning
Yes, I was obsessively pricking my finger but you would be, too, if you had to go through what I did to regulate my blood sugar, not only today but the last several days.  If you're not a diabetic, please count your blessings that you don't have to go through this stuff.  Being too high or too low with the numbers produces effects in your body that are not pleasant.  In fact, when I was on the treadmill at the gym, I was worried the entire time about possibly being too low and potentially passing out on the conveyor belt (talk about having a big imagination!).  If you are a pre-diabetic, do whatever you can to not cross the line.  Believe me when I tell you that's it's worth all the extra effort not to turn into a full-blown diabetic.

Like I said when I started writing this, the days of the fast were so much easier!  I did buy a couple of books while I was at a bookstore today that will help me with counting my calories and carbs, as well as not having foods that have a high glycemic index.  

This first book lists practically every food out there, including combination foods.  It tells you all the nutritional information, including how many exchanges of a carb, protein, etc. it has.  Sometimes when I look online, there is so much wrong information that I really can't trust the nutritional info out there.  This is invaluable if you're tracking your food, which I find to be a necessary practice as I continue in my weight loss.  It also explains how someone who is a diabetic should be eating.

The second book has some recipes of foods that are considered to be in the low glycemic index category.  If you're not familiar with what the glycemic index is, every food has a number from 1-100 that tells how fast it will be converted into pure sugar within your body.  The higher the number, the faster the spike in your blood sugar.  There are some foods that are low and some that are high. For example, a serving of Cornflakes has a rating of 83, which is considered high.  Crazy, huh?  It also has a section in the book that breaks down how to use this info when selecting foods that keep our bodies on an even keel with blood sugar. 

Keeping track of what I'm doing is essential for me to continue being healthy and doing what is right for my body.  I wish I could be one of those people who can be so loosey goosey on just eating whatever food they want, healthy or not.  For now, I need to monitor religiously, just like I am doing with my blood sugar levels.  I want so badly to continue being a success story, not just another sad statistic.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The clothes are finally gone

I have been talking for months about either donating or selling my clothes that no longer fit because they're too big.  Part of the battle of getting rid of them was the emotional difficulty I knew I would face in letting them go.  There is such a false sense of security there in hanging on to clothes that don't fit any more, even for positive reasons like they are now too big.  While I never wanted to fit back into them, it's also hard letting them go because it feels like a part of me is being let go as well.  That's not a bad thing necessarily, just a scary thing.  I feel so naked and vulnerable without that security blanket to wrap around myself.  It did take me a long time to let the things go because of the emotional reasons, but also physical ones.  Due to my worker's comp injuries in my arms, it's pretty painful for me to do a lot of lifting of heaving things.  I can lift heavy things, but it ends up causing me a great deal of pain.  I ended up donating six boxes of items, three of which were clothes.  Thankfully, the Salvation Army will pick up the items and leave you a handy dandy receipt for tax purposes.  So that's what they did today. 

It feels so freeing and liberating.  Part of me wonders why it took me this long to let go, but I also know we all go through our own little process in life.  As for me, I will keep moving forward.  I have to keep taking good care of myself .  Sometimes that's much easier said than done, although I'm trying my best.  My blood sugar got down to 48 today.  Oh my gosh, I am so completely frustrated by the low numbers I've been getting.  I am documenting everything for my doctor, though, so we can have the right plan of action to move forward.  I know that the significant weight loss is contributing to these low numbers because I don't know how to be anything but a out-of-control diabetic when I am on full-food.  That was my experience before Optifast, trying to deal with a body that always had high blood sugar numbers.  Now I'm dealing with the opposite, which is a new thing for me. 

Speaking of new things, I've decided to suspend my "Question of the Day" questions and answers on my posts for the time being.  While I feel it's important for me to write and journal as much as possible, especially about the emotional issues that are coming up as a result of the weight loss, I also don't want to force anything and am choosing instead to be as organic as possible.  There are plenty of emotions for me to deal with and write about along the way.  If you've read my blog posts for any period of time, you've already gleaned that much.  I do have to say the action of writing helps me tremendously.  Not only is it great when there are challenging times, but also to celebrate the triumphs, too.  My triumph today were getting rid of those clothes.  Oh, I also got rid of a bunch of shoes, too.  Forgot to mention that.  Did you know that your feet get smaller with weight loss, too?  Who woulda thunk it!  Another blessing not many of us talk about.  Here's to a smaller body and smaller feet!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Weekly weigh-in and reflection

Hi everyone and Merry Christmas!  I hope that, if you celebrate this season, you were able to spend some time with your family and friends.  Sorry about not posting in a couple of days but the busyness of the holiday got the better of me.  That and the crazy on-going saga with my blood sugar.  But first, on to my weigh-in ...

Our Optifast clinic is closed right now for the holiday, so I have had to resort to my handy dandy scale at home.  The numbers are three pounds less than the clinic, so I always add those pounds any time I get on it.  So, for this past week, I lost two pounds.  I'm perfectly happy with that now that I'm fully back on food and exercising a lot more.  I never expected that the weight would drop off of me like it did when I was on the Optifast products.  Let's face it, we had about 500 calories a day on the shakes.  Even though I was in ketosis while doing it, anything compared to 500 calories seems like a lot of food!

In terms of how I've been doing back on the food, it has been a real struggle to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.  As you may recall from my last post, my blood sugar level dipped down to 38.  Then, the next several days, here's how low it got again:
  • Friday, December 21st -87
  • Saturday, December 22nd - 81
  • Sunday, December 23rd - 54
  • Monday, December 24th - 53
  • Today - 59
Friday and Saturday weren't bad, but, according to all my materials from Kaiser, anything below 70 should be raised immediately.  I started really looking at all the paperwork I have accumulated over the years on what is the proper food plan for someone who has diabetes.  My issue had always been numbers that were too high, but now I really need to look at what is too low.  Comparing my current food plan with what I was given in the past, the number of starches I have been eating is way too low, so I really need to look at what is best for my health.  I do have an appointment with my primary care doctor in the middle of January and since the clinic is closed for a couple of weeks on the day I go to my class, I'm starting to do my homework and playing around with what works and what doesn't.  What I do know isn't working is having blood sugars in the 50's for the last few days and the 38 I had on Thursday night.  That just isn't okay.  In fact, today, I was in the kitchen making Christmas dinner and I snapped at my mom when she came in to see if she could help me.  I knew I was off if I was snapping at her.  I did apologize and told her what my blood sugar was.  Thankfully I bought some regular soda the other day to have in the house in case my blood sugar dipped again.  It has 41 carbs per serving versus the regular 0 carbs of the diet variety [as a side note, how crazy are people who drink this full-carb stuff on a regular basis??].  So I drank a little bit of that and kept testing until my blood sugar got normal.  The problem has been that not only have the numbers been low, but they've taken hours and hours to elevate, including today.  It's all so weird for me to have this experience, but I'm constantly checking my blood sugar levels, monitoring and adjusting as necessary.

Through all of this, I have been in pretty good spirits.  I got reminded in our sermon at church the other day that God never leaves me.  He is always right there to help me and, trust me, I have been calling on His grace a lot lately.  I'm putting one foot in front of the other and just remembering to breathe through all of this.  I continue to have pain in my legs and body, which I am also trying to work through.  I have great people caring for me, though, between my physical therapist and acupuncturist, as well as doctors.  I am also going to look into massage.  It may be a little expensive, but my health is worth it.  That's what I would easily say to friends going through the same thing, so the rules shouldn't be different for me.  I'm sitting in a lot of gratitude today for the blessings in my life.  I am managing to find them, even though all the medical stuff stresses me out at times, even though I'm feeling lonely because I'm not in relationship right now and whatever else causes me concern.  The truth is that I have so much to count as a blessing and I refuse to let anything stop me from continuing to reach for more.  On to my question of the day ...

Question of the Day
What am I doing to approach a healthy life differently than what I may have done before?

When I decided to go on Optifast, it wasn't an easy decision to come to.  It took months of looking at various options for me.  Do I go back to Weight Watchers, Overeaters Anonymous, Jenny Craig and other weight loss programs that worked for me but ultimately didn't work for me?  I mean, I did get a lot out of each program and definitely pulled away some valuable things, but I still found myself super obese at the end of the day.  So, when I finally decided that Optifast was the direction I would go because of all the medical support I would receive, I lept forward and never looked back.  It has been a wonderful experience for me until medical issues dictated that I stop using the products and get back on regular food. Now, here I am living life on life's terms.  I am taking food into my body and exercising/expending calories out.  Being physically active has now become an ingrained part of my life.  I actually enjoy getting the exercise in, whether that is going for a long walk or hitting the gym. I have also somehow picked up other healthy habits, like I willingly park far away from the entrance to a store so that I can get a walk in.  I don't need to circle a parking lot five times to get the closest spot possible.  More than the physical stuff, though, is I know that recovery from the overeating I have done in my life requires searching deeper in my soul, finding out why it is I ate the way I did in the first place and being open and honest about that.  I can't just pray that I become a normal eater and then *poof* it happens.  It does take some effort on my part along with prayer.  And that is why I have this blog.  It's not only to reach out to others who may be going through the same things I am or to have support from other people, but it's for me to personally grow beyond the addiction to the food to a normal, healthy life.  That is my goal.  I never set in concentrating on a certain size on my clothes labels or number on the scale.  It was always, always about being healthy.  Trust me, when you haven't been healthy, it's a dream just to feel normal in that respect.  Living a healthy life is very important to me so I continue to strive to do the best I can, physically and emotionally, and I know it's a process that will never stop.  It may evolve over time, but it never stops.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A frightening experience

Yesterday I had an incredibly terrifying experience.  As I mentioned in my last post, I was going to talk to the Optifast medical staff about the two higher readings I had in my blood sugar, feeling a little alarmed that I might have come out of remission with the diabetes. I didn't know for sure if that was the case, but since I no longer had any diabetes-related medication or insulin, I felt it would be irresponsible for my health if I didn't ask for advice on what to do and maybe keep something on hand for emergencies.

There are many fantastic people I have dealt with at Kaiser's Optifast clinic in San Diego.  However, one the physician's assistants leaves a lot to be desired.  Every time I have spoken with her, and this is probably the fifth or sixth time, I feel like she's not paying attention to me.  Her eyes are always looking in other directions, she's yawning or looking as if she's having a hard time staying awake.  But, she was the one in the office when I went in the other day.  I caught her up to speed on what's been going on and asked her if I should just have some insulin on hand for the times when perhaps my blood sugar might be a little higher, just to be on the safe side.  She acted her usual self but focusing on other things and, I felt, not really listening very well to me.  She told me that instead of jumping the gun with insulin, she wanted to put me back on one of the diabetes meds I was on before called glyburide.  It is supposed to be taken with a meal before dinner or at the beginning of the day.  Granted, the dosage she gave me was minimal compared to what I was taking before, but I had to trust.  She told me that since I'm no longer on Optifast products, I would need to get all my medical care through my primary doctor from now on, which was fine by me.  I completely trust me doctor, who has been caring for me for about 15 years now.

So, anyway, I took one of the pills with dinner that night.  I checked my blood sugar before I went to bed and it clocked in at 63.  Normally, when it's within 2 hours of eating, it should be around 140-160.  When it's more than 2 hours, it should be 80-120.  I was a little alarmed that it was 63 but rationalized to myself that it'll go up during the night because that's what it used to do all the time.  At 3:30 in the morning, I woke up covered in sweat.  I sat up and my hands were shaking, I was trembling and feeling very jittery. I had an electric blanket on me but was feeling extremely cold.  I knew without a doubt, before even testing, that my blood sugar was too low.  I hurried into the kitchen where my meter was and it read 53.  Oh no.  I stood in the kitchen and told myself to calm down because I was starting to panic and said, "Okay, what did Kaiser tell you to do when your blood sugar gets too low?"  Oh that's right ... eat/drink a serving of carbohydrates, which is 15 grams, and then test again in 15 minutes to see if it went up.  I was a little worried that I wouldn't be following my food plan for the day, but couldn't even think about that.  It's not that I was trying to be perfect, but I didn't want to set myself for rationalizations that it was okay to eat whatever I wanted.  However, in the moment, all I knew was I needed to get my blood sugar up pronto.  So I ate an entire banana, which is two servings.  I know those are full of natural sugar.  I tested again and my blood sugar was now 38.  Wait a minute ... what??  Instead of going up, it went down?  Does this mean I would have to eat something else?  I didn't have any sweets in the house, so I really didn't know what to do.  All of a sudden, I remembered that I had pure sugar in a canister in the kitchen.  It was about a year old, but I knew I could sprinkle a spoonful or two on top of oatmeal and that was certain to jack up my blood sugar.  It just had to.

The next time I tested, it was 48.  Dang it ... still too low.  I think I was out of the danger zone of having to go to the hospital, but I decided to call the doctor's office just to make sure I was doing the right thing.  They gave me some advice and told me not to get behind the wheel of car because I could possibly pass out.  So I didn't go into work.  It took nearly until 3 pm for it to get high enough to be considered normal, although it didn't stay there.  It dipped lower again and then finally normalized.  It got me to wondering if the diabetes truly had returned because, if it had, it wouldn't have taken me near as long to raise my blood sugar.  Just having that banana, let alone the oatmeal with the pure sugar, would have done it for me.

It was a scary experience for me because I didn't know what was going on and because I was all alone.  The "all alone" part was what really scared me, and, frankly, made me a little sad.  There are moments when I get really lonely and down on myself because I don't have a special man in my life these days.  I wonder what is so wrong with me that I don't have someone by my side any longer.  I know I'm not the most beautiful woman in the world, but I'm also not hideous, at least I don't think so.  Yet, all alone.  It's in those moments when I really need someone next to me that I feel it so strongly.  But, instead, I was all alone in the middle of the night, scared, panicked and trying my best to remain calm with a blood sugar that was dropping dramatically.  Thankfully I am okay now.  I did the best I could to rest, sleep and try not to even look at my work e-mail.  I got through the moment and that's really the most important thing.

I'm too exhausted tonight to work on my Question of the Day segment, but I will pick it up again tomorrow.  I'm officially now on vacation for two weeks and I'm looking forward to doing a bunch of nothing.  I'll definitely spend a lot of time exercising and taking good care of my body.  In addition, my mother will be coming to stay in my house for a few days this coming week and then my dad will be coming in from Utah the following week to spend a few days with me as well.  I'm looking forward to that.  Just to relax and be in a state of no pressure, no stress ... well, I can't wait.  Thankfully, there's no drama in my house tonight.  I like that.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Has my diabetes returned?

Since being back on full-food and off of Optifast products, I have had two times when I checked my blood sugar that the number was too high for my comfort level.  This morning it was 144 and the other day it was 186.  That's alarming to me, especially the second number.  However, all my other checks show me at either within the normal range or below it.  But, instead of focusing on all the good numbers, I'm focusing on the two that are too high.  So I have to look at why they're too high.  On one of the days, I think that was the day where I had all those cashews, extra protein and extra fruit.  There were a lot of carbs in there.  The one from this morning is a little unexplainable because I did a nearly two-hour workout last night and think I did fine on the food, although I was really very hungry when I came home from work and probably had more food than I should have.  I went into the clinic tonight to talk to one of the physician's assistants and she told me it would be a good idea to put me back on Glyburide, a diabetes medication, but to take it only on an as-needed basis.  She also wants me to make an appointment with my primary care doctor to just review where I'm at since I'm now fully off of the Optifast products.  She said I shouldn't worry at this point since it was just two episodes, but the appointment would be just to monitor it.  I should, however, continue being diligent about tracking my food and exercise so that I can see patterns.  I am in a remission period with the diabetes, but it can return at any time and obviously I want to be on top of anything that can lead me back down that road.  Instead, I need to relax as much as possible.  The last couple of months have been highly stressful for me dealing with all sorts of medical issues, lack of sleep and just trying to do too much.  Relaxing sounds like a great idea to me.  To that end, I only have two more days until I'm on a two-week break from work.  Since I'm also on a break from school, it really will be about taking good care of myself, getting plenty of rest and finding a good sleep pattern again.  It's been so hard for me to relax lately.  Even Christmas is stressing me out.  Since I've spent so much money on Optifast this year, I really don't have the extra funds to be getting gifts for others.  I know everyone will understand, especially given that it was money spent on me and my health, but for me it's difficult because I enjoy giving to others and I just am not in a financial position to really do that this year.  This is part of acceptance, though.  Not everything works out exactly the way I want it and I just have to find a way to deal with that.

Question of the Day
How much weight do you want to lose and it is a realistic/healthy goal for you?

Since my initial meeting with the medical staff at the Optifast clinic, a goal weight was set for me of 160 pounds.  Looking at the BMI chart, although that can't be the sole criterion for determining ideal body weight, 160 was within a healthy body size for my height (5'9").  When I started the program, I weighed in at 417 pounds, so that would be a difference of 257 pounds.  Man, that seemed like the biggest mountain to climb in the world.  A target weight of 160 pounds seems like a low number, but on the other hand, at least in my mind, it seemed like too big a number.  Shouldn't I be around 150?  This is my thinking inside, not taking into account my height.  Of course, it's completely ridiculous for a woman who is 5'9" to weigh 150 pounds.  That's just not healthy.  And the last time I saw my Optifast counselor, he said 160 is too low for me.  However, as I get closer to the number, we'll have to just play it by ear.  I suppose if I'm being completely honest with myself, 160 pounds is too low of a goal weight for me.  At the end of the day, I don't have a clue what is healthy for me because I've never had a normal body size before, not ever.  Who am I to say what is healthy and not healthy, except my gut that usually is very accurate about these sort of things.  My part in all of this is that I need to food the footwork and God will guide me in the right direction when it comes time.  I just have to be willing to listen and not think I know better ... because I have no clue.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekly weigh-in & question of the day

I lost 2.8 pounds this week.  I'm happy with that since it was first full week back on food after stopping the Optifast product.  I feel like I'm starting to get into a groove, although I'm still adjusting to the right kind of food to have.  My body just can't handle things that are too rich.  And that phrase "too rich" is completely relative because most anything is too rich after having had shakes for so long.  I know I'll get into a good pattern soon, though.

As I mentioned a while ago, I want to seriously delve into the emotional side of this weight loss journey.  It's just as important for me to heal emotionally as it is to heal physically.  Let's face it, a person doesn't get to weigh 417 pounds at the first Optifast meeting if there isn't some emotional stuff going on behind the eating.  So I have a few sources of questions I'd like to dive into, some from the Optifast binder and some from other sources.  I'll call these segments Question of the Day.  I have a friend who used to work at one of our sister high schools (she no longer works there but is still a friend of mine) who used to send me an e-mail at work and titled it Question of the Day.  So what I'll do is pose the question, then answer it.  I think it would be great if readers answered them too, if they're so obliged.  You can either do it in the comment section, send me a private e-mail or do it in your own journal.  No matter what, this is about healing and leaving the overeating and the desire to overeat in the past.  Here we go!

Question of the Day

What makes you think you are ready for change now?  In other words, why is now different than before?

This is hard to explain in words, but there has been a shift in my life ever since the day I decided that I was sick and tired of the obesity plaguing my life and decided to go on Optifast.  There was an internal shift, as though I had crossed the line and could never return to the place I've been.  Things were definitely different than any resolve I might have had in the past.  This time I was willing to do whatever was put before me.  I mean, that must be pretty obvious if I was willing to do something like go on a liquid diet for months on end.  Seriously, isn't that the epitome of willing to do absolutely anything?  I didn't want to be regarded is that morbidly obese person who was suffering from diabetes, who was breathing heavy in the corner, with a smile plastered on my face that masked the true pain that exists beneath the weight.  As I move into this next phase of my weight loss life, I know without a doubt that I am not only ready for change, it is imperative for me to continue moving forward.  My life is changed and I never imagined it could feel so good.  Here I am, a person who never exercised voluntarily, and I work out practically every day.  Not only that, I am often the one to get other people to do it.  I like exercising with other people, by myself or either one.  It makes my body feel good and that makes me feel good.  It's a part of my changed life now.  Things are different now because I want this more than anything else and I am surrendering to a process I don't always understand but one that I know is a gift from God.

Okay, now it's your turn to answer the question ...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Felt myself getting obsessive

Today was a good day overall, but I was visiting crazytown a little bit this evening.  My food has been going good now that I'm fully off of the Optifast product and on regular old food.  I can't recall if I've shared my full-food plan on here, so here's what it is:

1200 calories per day consisting of:
  • 6 protein servings no more than 55 calories each
  • 7 veggie servings (first cup of salad is considered a "free" food) no more than 30 calories each
  • 2 grain servings no more than 90 calories each
  • 2 fruit servings no more than 60 calories each
  • 1 serving of beans/legumes no more than 90 calories  each
  • 1 dairy serving no more than 90 calories each
  • up to 4 servings of healthy oils no more than 45 calories each
  • at least 8 oz. of water
I was given a list of sample foods to help me when I'm buying, but it's hard to stay within the calorie count per serving all the time, although I have no problem staying within the calorie count for the day.  I don't want to get to crazy about making it perfect because I think that's defeating the purpose.  For example, I have yogurt for my dairy.  It's plain, non-fat yogurt but it's 100 calories instead of 90.  I'm not stressing over those 10 calories because I haven't gone over my total allotment, especially when I have exercised in the day.  I've been tracking all of my food in MyFitnessPal, which is awesome by the way.  That's where I track my weight on my blog as well.  If you're interested in using it, they also have an app you can download to your phone.  It makes tracking things so much easier.

Anyway, I've been doing well with my food, but I have been feeling not quite satiated.  I seem to do fine until it comes time for dinner.  Typically what I do is have breakfast, a mid-morning snack, lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, then dinner.  So I'm eating something every 3-4 hours, which is great because then my blood sugar is not spiking.  But I am noticing that I feel hungry pretty soon after having eaten something.  I've always had this issue in the past and it required me getting a little more protein in, like an ounce more per meal.  I'm not sure if I should just do that and add an ounce here or there.  There's danger in doing that because it can really start piling up.  However, there's danger in not doing that, like what happened today.

I had my breakfast, did great.  I then had a mid-morning snack before meeting Sara to do our walk around the lake.  That was great.  We walked three miles in the crisp morning air.  Then I came home and had lunch, which was fantastic.  I had an incredibly healthy meal and was proud of myself for really planning good food.  Then later in the day, I felt ravenous.  That led me to having about 4 ounces more of chicken breast, then I had a peach, then I had a couple handfuls of unsalted cashews.  It felt very bingey, even though I would hardly constitute any of that as a binge like I've had before.  Yet, the behavior is what felt negative to me.  I felt bad for what I had done and decided that I wasn't going to have my afternoon snack and took a nap instead.

I woke up after three hours (good Lord, I must have needed that!) and the first thing I did was go check my blood sugar.  I had a dryness in my mouth and throat that led me to believe that my blood sugar was through the roof.  It clocked in at 87.  Man, that was something I didn't expect at all.  Why is it that I drew the conclusion that my blood sugar was high?  I'm sure it was because I felt guilt for having carbs. Then just a while ago, I laced up my shoes and started doing one of those Leslie Sansone "Walking Away the Pounds" DVD's.  It was for three miles.  I was about a mile in and then caught myself.  I said to myself, "Exactly what do you think you're doing, Kathy?  Don't you think you're being just a wee bit obsessive?  You already got exercise in for the day ... stop this!"  I recognized that I had already crossed the line, took off my shoes, turned off the TV and came over to my laptop to write this post.  It's perfectly fine to exercise a lot in a day, and doing 4 miles total is certainly not obsessive, but it is when I think about what led me to the second run at exercise.  I was feeling guilty about the extra food I had.  And, frankly, that is nowhere near the binge I could have easily had.  I mean - chicken, a peach and cashews?  Seriously??

I just was disappointed in myself for picking up the extra food, not following my plan exactly and frustrated at the hungry feeling I have been experiencing.  Who knows why that is happening.  Maybe I do need to add that little bit extra protein.  Maybe I need to drink more water.  The other thing is that I am well aware that my weigh-in is tomorrow night and I'm nervous about that.  Since I'm no longer on Optifast product, gone are the days where I will be able to lose double-digits in a week.  My weight loss is going to be slower than what I averaged while I was on product alone.  Frankly, this how people normally lose weight .... diet and exercise.  I think the average healthy loss is 1-2 pounds a week when done in this way, so I have to remind myself of that fact.  I may lose more on occasion, but not like 10 pounds in a week.  I'm just being super critical of myself and I need to remind myself that I'm no longer in the place I used to be in.  I got a visual reminder of that in the car today.  Something made me pull the seat belt away from my body when I was sitting at a stop light.  I got a pang of tears in my eyes when I saw just how far out my seat belt went.  I remember a time when I needed a seat belt extension because the regular seat belt in my car was so tight around my body that I had a hard time breathing.  These are the little reminders that I can't ever forget.

I'm committing to all of you that I'm going to let my poor choices with the food stay in the day and I'm going to continue walking forward.  I will do no more exercise for the night and I will look at potentially adding in some additional protein tomorrow.  I'll make that decision when I wake up and begin my day. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Costo and gym judgement

Seriously, how bad does someone need a free hot dog sample?
I haven't been shopping at Costco since right before I started Optifast in February.  I did go once for a work thing and another time to buy shoes and vitamins for my mom, but I mean to go shopping for myself.  It is just too tempting a place for an overeater.  Trust me when I tell you that I have spent a pretty penny there in the past.  I was never one to sample the food at the end of every aisle like what I saw back in February.  Every time I indulged, it was in private where no one could see me.  So I went in there today to get some yummy salmon, chicken breasts, fruit and veggies.  Since I will be eating a lot of veggies and fruit as well as healthy cuts of fish and meat, I thought that was a good place for me to go.  Yet, there were those end-of-aisle hawkers.  I was amazed at the lines that accumulated and how annoyed people got at me for trying to go around them.  Well excuuuuse me for actually trying to shop.  I did well and was proud of myself for making good choices.  Yay me!  I did discover something that my body just doesn't like ... Greek yogurt.  Perhaps it was the batch I got, I don't know.  But my body was screaming at me, "Just say no!!!"  I guess I'm just used to the regular non-fat plain yogurt and not that thick stuff.  Otherwise, I found some great stuff to experiment with.  My challenge right now is to get a lot of veggies in without making a big salad at every meal.  I love a good salad, but after a while, you start feeling like a furry little bunny eating all that lettuce.  Melissa did give me some good suggestions for roasting my veggies and preparing them in other ways.  I appreciate that so much because I need the variety.

Later on the in the day, I decided to hit the gym for a good workout.  It was a little difficult because of the ten huge plasma TV's they had above the cardio section ... every single station had some piece on about the shooting tragedy in Connecticut.  I had my iPhone plugged in and was listening to music on Pandora, but I couldn't escape the images.  My heart is so heavy when I think about what happened to those poor babies, their teachers and other innocent victims who never anticipated such a fate coming upon them.  It helps me to remember, though, that I always need to tell people how much I love them and how much they mean to me.  Life is too short and precious not to do that.  Besides that, though, my experience in the gym today was a little weird.  One one hand, I had some man watching me.  I was walking on the treadmill for an hour (I want to run, but my knees just won't let me), alternating my speed from 3 miles an hour to 3.5 miles an hour on a random hill track.  So I would walk slower when I was walking on a flat surface and kick it up when I was walking on the hills.  When I work out at the gym, I am definitely in my own zone.  The earphones are in and I'm lost in the music. But, every so often when I would look up, I would see this man from the other side of the room where the weight machines were checking me out.  He wasn't outright staring at me the whole time, but between his sets.  For some reason, that made me walk faster.  Was it because I was being looked at and wanted to appear like I was doing something or was I trying to run away?  Weird feeling.  Then I had two women who didn't know each other look at me with disgust on their faces.  Hard to ignore when I caught them doing it.  So I was judging them right back, thinking how dare they put all that on me.  They don't have an idea of where I've come from.  If they were judging me so much today, can you imagine how floored they would have been to see me sweatin' it up at 420 pounds?  Actually, come to think of it, they would have never met me at 420 pounds ... I wouldn't have even dreamt to step foot in a gym at that size, no way.

I'm working hard at taking care of myself, whether that is physically, emotionally or both.  Soon I'm going to start writing on some of the questions from the workbook/binder we received from the Optifast clinic.  I want to seriously delve into the "why" of overeating, even if that might prove a difficult task for me.  The easy part was the shakes, the hard part is after the shakes, especially when I'm still trying to lose weight and not being on the shakes.  This is life and it isn't easy, but that's my challenge.  The 2012 year was about starting my journey in losing weight, which I think was a great success.  2013 and beyond is about continuing on that journey while attempting to find joy in the process at the same time.  I don't want this to be about just me taking the weight off.  Of course that is important for me, but I want it to be about a changed life where I get to make different, better choices and embrace being healthy.  Can you imagine me ... healthy?  I want to embrace that and some difficult work will be a part of the process.  The truth is, though, I'm no longer afraid of it.  I want the life I'm walking towards so much more than I ever wanted in that larger body.  And you know what?  I deserve it. So do you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Breathing better

I finished another semester of my college courses yesterday, so I'm feeling a lot of relief today.  This semester was one of the more challenging ones for me.  Not because of the courses I took, but dealing with all the medical stuff, working full time, trying to fit in exercise and attempting to do well in school.  I felt like I was waving the white flag of surrender constantly during these last few days. 

Yesterday was the appointment I had for the MRI.  As you may recall, I posted recently about not being able to fit in the enclosed MRI machine back in February and how the office staff grilled me about whether or not I was bigger than I was back then.  So here's what happened:

I got the the office building and felt incredibly nervous.  I can't tell you why ... these people are relative strangers, so what they think about me shouldn't matter, but I suppose the truth is that I didn't want to be judged and I had no say that it was exactly what they were doing.  So I went into the restroom beforehand, washed my hands and looked at myself in the mirror.  There has been such drastic change in me since February, yet up to that moment, I had myself convinced that I wouldn't fit in the stupid MRI donut.  I had to ask God for courage to walk in that medical office and not turn around and run away from the fear I was feeling.  I walked in and immediately I remembered everything ... the smells, the way the magazines were piled and the western style saloon doors that separated the waiting area from the exam rooms. The receptionist who greeted me was the same one from the phone call inquiring about my size but she had never met me in person before.  As I was filling out the paperwork, she asked me why I wasn't seen last time if I had paperwork from before.  I looked at her with this are you serious? kind of look.  Didn't we just have a conversation on the phone about it??  I told her the reason I didn't have the MRI completed there last time was because the technician told me I was too big to fit in the machine.    She just looked at me and said, "Oh."  Hmm, oh is all you can say to that, huh?  I wasn't about to lose my dignity in that moment, so I finished the paperwork and just sat down to wait for my turn.

Then the technician came out.  I stood up and this man gasped when he saw me.  He remembered me, it was quite obvious from the expression on his face.  Although he tried to cover himself, that moment was priceless for me.  Absolutely, one hundred percent priceless.  He scanned my body up and down and tried to compose himself before officially greeting me.  I tell you what people - it's something I will never forget.  I silenced this critic of my life and I'll never forget it.  I was utterly humiliated in a way I can't quite describe when I was there before.  I wanted to crawl under a rock at the time.  Now I just wanted to fling a rock directly at him!  Maybe that's not the healthiest reaction and I totally recognize that, but it's what I was honestly feeling inside. 

So I went into a dressing room and had to take off everything except my pants.  I put on the gown that tied in the back and it fit perfectly.  My bootie was not hanging out, it wasn't tight around my arms and I could comfortably move around in it.  Now, it was the moment of truth.  I climbed up on the table, got into position with my back against the table and looking up towards the ceiling.  I put my arms to my side and the technician slid me in ... with absolutely no problem at all.  I fit, and quite easily I must say.  I wanted to cry, I really did.  It was a moment of pure triumph for me.

Fast forward to today.  I had an appointment with both my physical therapist and my acupuncturist.  I have been working hard at following the directions and doing all of the exercises the physical therapist has given me and it showed in how much more flexible my body was.  We talked about the pain I am continuing to experience and what makes it feel better.  Frankly, it's the exercise.  You know that old adage that doctors would always tell us that getting some exercise will do wonders for our health and we might have shunned that because it felt like a route thing they were all saying?  Well, there is definitely validity there, at least for a great number of ailments.  I realized today that although I don't want to be in pain and I don't want to have the physical limitations I do, in a sense the osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia have both actually been a blessing for me because I have discovered that doing exercise helps me feel so much better and I am in significantly less pain if I exercise in the day.  In fact, I wasn't going to exercise today, but ended up going much later because I knew it would help with pain.  When I saw the acupuncturist, she did a lot of extensive work on my legs and hips, which really help take significant pain away.  What my experience with her has taught me is that there are definite advantages out of stepping outside of the box (the box being traditional medical professionals).  The acupuncture helps me tremendously.

So it seems that I'm in a really good place of taking care of myself.  The food has been going great, although the early evenings when I get home from work are a challenge.  I just feel so hungry.  Hopefully that will get better as I remember to keep drinking my water and eating every few hours.  I am so glad I made the decision to go on the full food portion of the program.  The light headedness I was experiencing every day is miraculously gone.  In one fell swoop, it went away.  I am enjoying the taste of food again .. the sweetness in strawberries and apples, the freshness of salads, the savoriness of protein.  I am trying my best to appreciate the food and not have an inappropriate relationship with it like I used to have.  I'm feeling pretty grateful to be traveling on the road I find myself on right now.  Thanks for journeying along with me. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Everything but the kitchen sink

A lot has happened since I last posted on Sunday.  After leaving the message for my Optifast counselor on Sunday to talk about my decision to return to full food, I waited all day on Monday to hear back from him but he never did call back, which made me mad.  Part of that was because I had worked myself up to call and never to hear back from him made me feel as though I were unimportant and the other because it was a pretty big phone call (at least to me).  So I ended up going to my class and was thinking about what I would say.

I went straight to the medical office when I arrived.  That's where the physician's assistants are.  Two of them greeted me with a big smile and a "Here comes my favorite patient!"  I told them about the decision I had made to go back to full food and why.  Instead of receiving push back from them, they were super supportive.  Wow, not what I expected at all.  They then went to get my counselor so that he could be involved in this conversation.  He did receive my call, so we talked about where I go from here.  There was also no push back from him.  Double wow.  They said I would have to go into a maintenance class since I was no longer on product.  However, I wouldn't have to do that for a while.  I was concerned about the other people in the group because they are still on the fast and didn't want to make them uncomfortable.  [Look at me always worried about other people when I should be worried about myself.]  My counselor was really encouraging and told me that I have something very special to share with the group so he would like me to stay with them.  Of course that's what I want to do, too.  So I shared with the group what's going on and they were all very supportive about me continuing on with them.  Of course they were ... I honestly, down deep in my heart, didn't expect anything less.  I think it was just fear I was feeling about being off the shakes.

After everybody left when the class ended, my counselor sat with me and went over my new food plan.  I am now at 1200 calories a day and have certain servings per group, like so many proteins, veggies, grains, etc.  Even though 1200 calories may not seem like a lot of food to some people, I was having about 500 calories a day on the shakes since I was in ketosis, so it feels like a whole lot of food.  I mean, my servings of veggies are 7 in a day.  Who eats 7 servings of veggies in a day?  In fact, my first cup of salad is a "freebie" so that doesn't even count.  So anyway, I have a worksheet that I'll be filling out every day and I do list everything on My Fitness Pal because it counts all the calories, fat grams and whatever else for me.  For now, this is what I need to do.  There will be a time when I won't be counting any of these things because everything will be standard for me, but I'm relearning how to eat again, except in a healthy way this time.  I'm just as committed to this portion of the program as I was to taking the shakes.  My counselor said it would be best for me to plan my meals ahead of time.  Additionally, if I make a change and want to swap a food out, I have to write two paragraphs as to why before doing so.  That would make anyone not want to make a change!

The class itself was both horrible and wonderful at the same time.  My weigh-in was awful.  Remember that it's been two weeks since I weighed in. I gained 33 pounds.  That sent me into an emotional tailspin, let me tell you.  Not too long ago, I gained 30 pounds in two weeks.  Even if I was binging every day, I have never gained that much weight in my life in such a short period of time.  In that time frame, I had another medication change (actually four changes).  I also had severely increased my sodium intake because I was trying to get rid of the dizziness I have been having since February and I was also sick, both with a cold and tummy issues.  I was just so frustrated with the constant dizziness and feeling like I was going to pass out, so I decided to see if this would help.  It didn't and caused some major water retention.  In fact, there was swelling around my ankles as evidence and the ring on my finger was snug when before it had been practically falling off.  We even had a discussion in our group about stories of people retaining a ton of water, through no fault of their own.  In addition, there were a couple of times during those two weeks when I didn't make the best choices because I wasn't eating at all during the day due to my upset tummy sickness and would make up for it in the evening before going to bed.  Long story short, up 33 pounds. I can't express how difficult it is for me to even write that, let lone accept it.  Sometimes this whole venture has felt like one thing after another being thrown at me.  I'm trying hard to hold my head up high through all of it, though.  I'm not going to hide anything from myself, let alone you.  I already can tell the difference today with the medication change and reduction in sodium ... my ring is incredibly loose again.  I pray it's only down, down, down from here.  Oh, and the dizziness I have had all these months?  It's now gone since I'm back on full food again.  I'm telling you - I've been through the gamut in the last several months and I'm ready for things to no longer be crazy.

Now, on to the wonderful part of the group.  As I was sitting alone with the counselor and we finished going over my new food plan, we had a really good talk about my progress.  In fact, we talked for an hour.  He told me the reason that he calls on me during every class is because he feels I'm inspirational, insightful and have such a great story to tell.  The fact is, even with the weight gain, I have lost a crazy amount of weight.  I told him that I don't like being put on a pedestal though, which he definitely understood.  However, I also need to celebrate this huge success so far and now that I'm back on food again, I can continue walking towards my goal of continuing to be healthy, while losing weight at the same time.  He does feel that my goal weight is a bit too low for my height, but we can gauge it as we get closer.  He did express to me how grateful he is that I'm in his class and taking steps to have a healthy life.  It was a great talk and I was incredibly touched.

Earlier that day, I received a call from the worker's comp medical examiner's office and they want me to go for a MRI tomorrow.  If you have been reading other parts of my blog, you may recall a post I wrote about not fitting in the machine and having to reschedule my appointment so that I could go to an open MRI machine.  That was the same month I started the program, back in February.  By that point, I had already lost 26 pounds, so I weighed in at 391 pounds at the time.  So when the receptionist was getting info from me and she asked me how much I weighed yesterday, I wondered silently if I would fit in the machine this time.  Obviously things are different and I'm much smaller than I was at 391 pounds, but that's where my head went.  I didn't say anything, just booked the appointment.  She said someone would be calling me today to confirm the time, address, etc.

Fast forward to today.  I received a call confirming the MRI appointment.  She gave me directions on the phone and I thought to myself, I wonder if this is the same place I went to before.  The address seemed oddly familiar, but I didn't really pay any attention to that.  I hung up the phone and about five seconds later, I received this call:

MRI Office:  Hi Kathryn.  This is Cecilia again.  I just wanted to let you know that you have been here before.  This is the same office where we tried to do your cervical MRI but couldn't. 

Me:  Oh, okay.  Well, see you tomorrow.  Shit, it was the same place.

About ten seconds later comes another call from them.

MRI Office:  Hi Kathryn.  Sorry, but this is Cecilia again.  The technician wants to know if you are heavier than you were the last time you came in here in February.

Me:  Excuse me?  Did she just seriously ask me that when they already knew how much I weighed from the appointment setter yesterday?  And, really, did she just ask me that regardless?  I can't believe I'm having this conversation with them.

MRI Office:  Yes, the technician wants to know if you've gained more weight since last time because, if you have, we can't do it.

Me:  No, I have NOT gained any more weight.  In fact, I have lost a lot of weight.

MRI Office:  Okay, so you haven't gained any more weight?

Me:  No, I am not heavier than I was before.  Click. 

Are they freaking kidding me?  They can't possibly know how humiliating that first experience was to have some man who doesn't even know me size me up with one look and tell me I was too big only to have that exchange on the telephone today.  Part of me wants to tell them off for having such a callous conversation with me on the phone and the audacity to do so.  The other part of me wants to show up tomorrow and watch them as they react to my smaller body.  I left the office to head off to lunch with such a big lump in my throat.  I felt like a second-class citizen who needed the approval of some jerk sizing up my body.  I get that these machines are only so big, but then do your homework before you call me.  They already knew my size, so why have such a rude phone conversation with me?  I felt not good enough.  Tomorrow morning I get to find out if I fit in their precious machine.  This is the humiliation that comes with being a larger person in the world.  Talk about being judged for your outside cover.  Not only that, but it is readily accepted in society to discriminate against large people.  That is why my resolve is so strong to be successful now that I am back on the food one hundred percent.  I don't want to be the butt of any fat joke any longer.  It's just makes a person feel as though they just don't matter in this world. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First day back on food

It's obviously been a very long time for me having been on the Optifast shakes for a long time because my eating with the food today was strange at best.  I don't exactly know what plan of eating the clinic will give me since most people either start on full food or transition back to it, not go cold turkey like I am.  However, it's the best thing for the physical problems I've been having with my tummy to get it out of my system.  So I consulted the binder all patients get from the program and it showed what a person should be eating to continue losing weight.  I figured that was my best option until I can talk to someone at the clinic tomorrow.  I did pretty well, but I was getting hungry throughout the day.  I didn't know how often I should be eating, if I should have snacks or anything.  So, about 3:00 or so, I went into the kitchen to test my blood sugar and I think it was 72 at that point.  Hmm, it's good that I'm getting guidance at this because I feel like a food newbie.  Of course, I don't know how to be on full food without the diabetes that I used to have, so this is all new to me.  Talk about feeling like a newborn!

When I was on my regular morning walk with Sara today, I talked to her about how I was going to approach the clinic and tell them I'm no longer doing the shakes.  I know it's completely my choice in what direction I will be going because I am the one paying the bills after all, but I also know them well enough to get that they are probably going to want to know all of my reasons and maybe even talk me out of it.  I am firm, though, about this.  Once I made the decision, I felt very solid.  My only pause was how I was going to tell Lee, my counselor, because he has been such a cheerleader since I joined his class in February.  I'm like their little rock star and I took on the role willingly with my ego leading the way.  I wanted to be the girl who lost 250 pounds on their product and then went on to have a fabulously wonderful life in her thinner little body.  I do see that fabulous life in a thinner body, but the method in which I get there is just altered a bit.  So, I decided that I was going to call and leave a message for Lee on his voicemail and then ask him to call me.  I felt like such a chickenshit, too, because I knew he would not be there on a Sunday evening when I dropped the bomb, but he could digest it and then call me back tomorrow so we can talk about my options.  I wrote down what I was going to say, even scripted myself.  I felt like this guy on the phone, almost like a salesperson trying my best to get the customer to buy everything I had to sell.  I felt so lame, so I stopped looking at my reasons and just spoke from my heart.  That was more natural and definitely more real.  I feel so strongly inside that going back on food is the best thing for me, done in a very calm, rational manner where I take loving action towards my overall health.  Tomorrow I shall report what happened.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Made a difficult decision today

Little by little I am starting to feel better.  I went for a workout at the gym today, which was so amazing for me.  Since I typically get in exercise most every day and haven't done it for a while, it almost felt like I was starting from scratch when I hopped on the treadmill, but at least I was taking care of my body enough to realize that I needed to have a good stretch beforehand and ease into it.  I got so lost in my music that I nearly did fist pumps in the air when a song came on that really gets you moving.  I caught myself before I did it, though, but it was pretty hilarious if you would have been in my head at that very moment.  I'm on new meds to hopefully heal from the sickness I had been feeling for the last several weeks, including a pretty strong antibiotic.  The two new meds that my rheumatologist put me on to replace the other pain med that I recently stopped have kicked in, thank you God.  The two days that I was not taking any pain meds were, well ... painful.  Beyond painful.  I felt like I was walking around like someone who is 100 years old.

Now, on to the title of this post about making a difficult decision.  Since I started Optifast, I have lost a ton of weight, a miraculous amount.  If you have been reading my blog or have gone through and read some of my posts, you then know that I had lost a total of 190 pounds while on product before I gained some back dealing with medical issues.  I think Optifast is a wonderful product and the program has saved thousands of lives.  When you are morbidly obese, even super size morbidly obese (or whatever the title was on my medical chart), simply putting the fork down and walking away from the table was oversimplifying the issue.  I chose Optifast because I knew it worked.  That said, I've also had some problems along the way that have developed.  Thankfully I have had medical experts at the clinic closely monitor me to ensure I wasn't in a life-threatening stage.  This is why I am a huge proponent of doing the program the way it was designed - under the supervision of a clinic.  Anyway ... I digress.

I have been thinking about whether or not I should stop using the product just because I have some special medical concerns.  The four new medications I have all clearly say to take the pills with food.  Beyond that, I honestly don't know if the sickness I have been dealing with is related to the products or something else.  In addition, I have had a lightheadedness since I started the program that has never gone away, I have lost a significant amount of hair, my energy is zapped and I have a very difficult time sleeping.  Again, I don't want to give the impression that I feel this is related to the product itself.  If I felt I was in any danger along the way, I would have stopped.  I have had great success in the program beyond just the weight loss, including no more diabetes, normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, etc.  It's just that I have unique medical issues with the weakness in my body (osteoarthritis & fibromyalgia), sleep apnea that was diagnosed before I started the program and the mystery sickness I have been fighting as well.  Towards the end here, if you'll remember from my last post, I wasn't even having any meals during the day because I was feeling so sick.  I just have been so reluctant to stop the product because success on the program has been incredible.  I mean, good Lord, who loses 190 pounds in the short time I have? 

This morning, however, a very dear friend talked to me about looking at the possibility of stopping my use of the Optifast products and brought up some very good points about my health being the ultimate concern here.  Besides, if I did stop using the product, it's not as if I was giving up on losing weight.  Oh no, that's not even a consideration for me!  There has been a shift in my life.  I am no longer the same person who started this journey.  There is no way on God's green earth that I will accept going back to the life I had before.  I know a lot of people say things like, "I'll never gain the weight back."  For me, my resolve comes from a very spiritual, deep-in-my-bones place.  I can't go back.  I won't  go back.  Besides, I have so much support from people in my life and readers of this blog that I know people wouldn't let me either. So, I thought a lot about this today and spent some time praying about it as well.  The answer became abundantly clear:  it's time for me to go back on a full-food program and stop taking the shakes.

With that decision comes a lot of other feelings, but ultimately I know this is the right thing for me to do.  I do know the Kaiser clinic where I go to my Optifast group has full-food options.  So, when I go to my weekly session on Monday, I plan on going to the medical office and talking to them about what the next step would be and notifying my counselor before class starts so that he's not surprised if it comes up.  Since I missed class last week, I still have to pay for all the products I would have received (that's just their policy - you pay each week whether you are there or not) and I still have some shakes at home, but I have to let the thought that I have some wasted money go.  Again, my health is more important than attempting to get my money's worth.  I did buy some regular food today, following the meal plan that I have in the binder the clinic gives patients as they start the program.  That will at least get me back on regular food until I can talk with the dietitian.

How am I feeling about all of this now?  Actually, relief in a certain sense.  Now I will be doing what most normal people do when they want to lose weight - watch the food they are eating and getting plenty of exercise.  In fact, I will be continuing with the clinic because I want the weekly accountability and I definitely want the medical supervision to continue.  I am not fool enough to think, hey, I got this ... who needs the clinic?  I need the clinic!  I will continue my blogging like I have always done.  Really, nothing changes except my plan of eating.  While that is a big change, the rest of what has led to my success so far will not go away.  If anything, I need to hang on to my support systems all the more and continue doing important inner emotional work so that I can keep walking away from the world of compulsive overeating and the desire to do so.  This is not an overnight challenge ... it is something that I need to deal with over the long haul.  And I really am perfectly fine with that because I know there is a way out of the life I had before.  I'm no longer 420 pounds and I no longer wear a size 34 anything.  I pray I never forget what that was like.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A freakin flood of emotions

I went back to work today.  Being at home yesterday was what I needed to rest and save my voice/energy.  I have a job that has me interacting with people all day long, so it was nice to have a reprieve.  As much as I felt better in that regard, I felt worse today in another.

For about a month now, I have been feeling pretty sick inside but I haven't really said anything to anyone about it because I already have other medical stuff going on and there are some things that other people don't want you sharing with them.  Trust me people, this is one of them.  I can't bring myself to tell you all the gory details, but let's just say it hasn't been good.  Finally, today, one of my friends at work looked at me and asked me how I was doing and a flood of tears came out.  I'm sure she was asking me about how I was doing in terms of my cold, but in an instant she knew there was something else going on.  She ordered me to sit down in a chair in her office and I then told her everything, gory details and all.  She made it safe for me to do that and these incredible emotions came out, too.  I didn't even see them coming, so I'm sure she was just as shocked as I was.

Every single day I have been sick to my stomach.  It started about a month ago, but at first it was just a little bit of sickness so I sort of blew it off to feeling stressed out, tired or whatever I rationalized in my mind.  However, as the weeks have progressed, the level of sickness I feel only gets worse and worse.  It's to the point where I am having to drive myself home from work during lunch, which is about 30 minutes each way without traffic, let myself be as sick as possible and then head off back to work, making sure to pull myself together enough to be able to finish out the day.  If I don't have the opportunity to come home during lunch, then somehow I am able to hang on until the end of the work day by some miracle but then driving like a madwoman home.  That's what it's been like for the last week, maybe two.  Now I'm not having any nourishment in my body until I get back home because of the fear that I will get too sick out and about.  So that means I am not having any Optifast shakes, nor any other food, until the late afternoon.  The few times that I couldn't stand it and decided to have something, I dearly paid the consequences.  Water was about all I could handle.

Why in the hell haven't I gone to see a doctor sooner?  I'm lame, that's the only thing I can say.  I have seen so many freakin doctors lately, been poked with so many needles for test after test and, frankly, I was embarrassed about how sick I had become and that I let it go too long.  But after I cried with my friend this morning, I knew it was time to stop being the strong, silent, stoic woman that I often am and ask for help.  Obviously, there is something very wrong and I'm no doctor.  I did call the doctor's office and as I described what was going on to the nurse, I was crying with her, too.  She was very sweet and told me it was going to be alright.  She told me I needed to come in right away ... I literally had just enough time to shut down my computer at work before heading to an appointment with a doctor I had never met before.

The doctor met with me and went over my history for the last year or so.  As I was telling him my story, I started crying again.  Geez, is there something in the water?  I never have cried so much in one day like that in a long time.  I must have really been frustrated and at my absolute wit's end.  So now I have to go to a lab first thing in the morning before going in to work and get more tests done and only after that may I begin to take the new medications I have been prescribed.  He is hopeful that unless the tests come up with something incredibly serious, I should be back in normal shape within a couple of weeks, if not sooner.  Lord I hope so!  It is such an incredibly uncontrollable feeling of being helpless when you want to feel better but your body just doesn't want to cooperate.  I have been trying to keep my mind on other things, like going through boxes of clothes last night and being into that.  The true teller for me these days that something is majorly wrong is if I don't get my regular exercise in.  I haven't had even so much as a walk or anything for about a week and a half or so.  That's just not like me these days.

Sorry to be so elusive about exactly what is going on, but trust me when I say you just don't want to know.  But I do promise that I am seeking medical care for it now and I pray I will be back to myself very soon. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Only as old as you feel

I went in to work today, but I think with all of the talking I did yesterday in addition to the class I had last night, it really set my healing back and I actually felt worse today than I did yesterday so I ended up listening to the girls at work and went home.  That was the best thing for me because the only talking I did today was through texts that people would send me through my phone.

As I was watching some TV and sitting with my two kitties, who love to snuggle with me when I'm not feeling well, I was thinking about having another birthday.  One thing I caught myself doing on my birthday yesterday was saying that I'm old now.  Really, that's not true at all and I don't know why I was doing that.  Sure, I'm no longer carded to see if I'm legal to drink, but I'm by no means headed to a retirement home anytime soon.  I sometimes get in this "the sky is falling" mode if things aren't in the exact place I would like them in my life.  By this age, I had envisioned myself married with children and it sometimes is hard to wrestle with the fact that it isn't the case right now.  I know plenty of people who will tell me that being married with children is no bed of roses either and they might even prefer being single.  The grass always does seem greener on the other side though, doesn't it? 

With all the medical challenges I have had in the last several months, coupled with the extreme weight loss, I suppose I'm in an identity crisis of sorts.  Tonight I was going through some boxes with some of my old clothes in them.  I held up pants that were in the biggest size I used to wear and compared them to the body I'm in now.  I remember times when I would be busting out of some of those clothes and I know all of those clothes would not stay on me today because they're just way too big.  Yet, somehow, there is some sort of safety in those clothes that I just can't quite describe in words.  Not a positive safety necessarily, but being in a place where I used to wear them is comfortable.  Not wearing them and wearing smaller clothes is very uncomfortable.  Yet, in order to keep moving forward, I need to let those clothes go.  I've written on this blog a couple of times of needing to get rid of my clothes, yet they've been sitting in boxes.  I finally took action and made arrangements for the Salvation Army to come and pick up the boxes, as well as other items I want to donate [can you believe it, Z?].  So they'll be coming out to the house on December 26th since I'll be working up until the week before Christmas and I would like to be here to get a receipt from them of whatever is donated since I can itemize it on my taxes.  This way it gives me a couple of weeks to get everything in boxes that I want out of here, put them in my garage and then be ready to let it all go.  It really is time to let it all go, done so with a lot of peace and no anxiety.  This is about me moving forward and the constant reminders of where I used to be every single day in the house keeps me in that space mentally. 

It does appear I am a grown up after all!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's my birthday ;-)

I am about to climb into bed ... still feeling under the weather and I had a very eventful day.  Today I turned 41.  It seems like I was just getting ready to turn 30 and now I'm 41!  Crazy how fast time flies.  I was overwhelmed with the amount of birthday wishes I have received from people today.  It made me feel extremely loved and cared for.  The most touching one was a card a received from my dad.  He always sends me funny cards, which he did again this year.  However, he wrote a very touching personal message.  I just had to share a part of it with you all because of how special it was:

"It's hard to believe you're 41 ... I mean 29.  Seems like just a few years ago that I was driving your Mom to the hospital.  One of the happiest days of my life.  You have always been a joy to me.  I hope you have a great day."

Aw, how sweet was that!  I have the greatest dad out there.  There has been so much challenge and change over the last year.  Here's the picture I posted on Facebook today, but wanted to share it here too in case you don't "know" me on Facebook.  The picture on the left is my birthday exactly one year ago and the other pic was taken about a month ago.  The amount of gratitude I have today is beyond measure.  Thanks for traveling on this fantastic journey with me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Under the weather today

I'm sick, which absolutely sucks since I just had a cold a couple of weeks ago.  When I went to my brother's house last week, my mom had a cold and she refused to do anything about it.  I told her I didn't want to get sick, but she was being stubborn.  Now, here I am, unable to breathe through my nose and sneezing up a storm.  Oh well.

Even though I no longer present as a diabetic after having good weight loss on Optifast, I still check my blood sugar just to make sure I'm doing okay.  Today I felt like my blood sugar was high, just had these symptoms that used to be clear signs of a level that was near the 300's (which is not a good thing).  So I tested my blood sugar and I was 66.  Uh oh, that wasn't good either.  It's so weird for me to be too low when I spent years and years having a too-high blood sugar.  I suppose I'm still making adjustments as I continue onward to a healthier life.  Of course, these are great things to have to adjust to, just weird for me to believe the numbers.  I'm super grateful, don't get me wrong.  It's a great place to be in and I need the reminders to keep on this path.  Right now, I'm feeling tired of drinking the shakes.  It's been almost ten months and I just want to move past this phase, but I still have weight to lose.  So I'll keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mustering up the courage

The other day I posted about dealing with hair loss that has come with being on Optifast.  Some people contacted me privately to say they are dealing with the same thing, even if they are not doing the same program I am.  It does make me feel better knowing I'm not alone in this.  I already tried the Nioxin product line which didn't really work for me.  Some people have had great success with it, just not me.  Instead of just sitting here waiting for my hair to grow back, I'm trying the best I can to be proactive.  Sure, some people are probably thinking, "What's the big deal, Kathy?  It's just hair."  I get that, but it's really not just about the hair.  How often do you see women with big hair loss walking around that aren't above the age of 60 or cancer patients?  I'd venture to say you don't see them.  Besides, this is about me and feeling good about myself.  Right now the hair issue makes me want to hide in the house.  I'm not doing that, but it's the way it's making me feel.

So, I decided to try Ovation Cell Therapy.  If you live in the San Diego area or another city that is heavily marketed by this company, you likely hear ads for them on local radio stations to the point of making you want to poke your eyes out.  Again, this is one of those product lines that is a hit or miss for people.  They are running a special on it right now, so I decided that I'd give it a try.  I'm in no way endorsing Ovation at all, but just writing about my experience with it.  I am really hopeful that it will help me.

From the time I ordered it to the time I received the products was only two days.  That was a great start!  Here's what came:

This is a 6-week supply, so I'm going to give it a try.  The instructions said to give it three months to see a major difference, but hopefully I'll see some sort of improvement after the 6 weeks to at least start.

The last time I posted a picture of myself on this blog, I cut off the top of my head in the picture because I was embarrassed with how my hair was looking.  This isn't just hair loss from the weight loss, but also weakened hair that left it unable to handle color processing as well as normal, so I lost a lot of it that came out in clumps.  My hair has also changed from thick and curly to very thin and messed up.  So I've been straightening it to make it look a bit better.  Anyway, the reason I titled this post "Mustering up the courage" was because I want to post some pics of what my head looks like right now.  I can't begin to express how uncomfortable it makes me, but it also is a liberating feeling to share the truth at the same time.  You can click on the progress pics link at the top of my blog if you want to compare what it used to look like, but here's what it is now.

Okay, this doesn't look too horrid. 
Besides, look at my collarbone (meaning, I have one!).
This one doesn't hide a thing ... it's just awful.
So here I am.  I know this will get better in time and I have to find some patience to deal with it.  I just don't want to do things to isolate myself because of whatever level of embarrassment I may be feeling.  That will only lead me to frustration and picking up food, which is not solving any problems whatsoever.  Even when I put my hair up in a ponytail, I can see the hair loss on the sides, not just on the top, and I'm losing more all the time.  I'm not unique on this because others have told me they are going through the same thing every time they run a brush through their hair.

Sorry to go on and on about hair today, but it's what I'm dealing with right now in the moment.  There are definitely worse things in the world, but I also don't want to discount how I'm feeling about this either.