Greetings from DC

The good news is that I’m down in DC for my favorite geeky library systems people conference with 1600 of my closest friends. I took the train down yesterday from CT and enjoyed the comfortable travel and chance to see things on the way, though the bathrooms were a bit smelly. We don’t spend the trip in the loo, though, so it wasn’t a big deal. Had dinner last night with my roommate, a friend of many years from Philly, and this morning we were at excellent workshop on transitioning systems, and then lunch in a very posh place with sparkly chandeliers and yummy food.

This afternoon my roomie and I went to the National Zoo, just a few long blocks down the street. We’d planned to go and really wanted to see the pandas and big cats, and were smart enough to take a cab to save on my knee. If you’ve never seen the National Zoo, make sure you go when you’re in the city. It’s free and it’s huge. The giant pandas are so cute and cuddly looking as they munch bamboo and look through those black eyes. The only other animals we saw actually moving around much were the tigers, who paced back and forth like, well, tigers. The lion, cheetahs, clouded leopard, and fishing cat all were sleepy and made me think of Tessie. I bought a little stuffed cheetah that makes rrraaawwwrr sounds when you push her tummy.

The bad news is that my afternoon adventure has about killed my knee. Slow walking through a rather raw afternoon, with lots of up and down hill sections, had me limping badly and feeling sorry for myself – and in a lot of pain. I opted to stay in the room tonight, dining on room service and letting the percoset start to work. I have three more full days here before heading home, and I can’t afford to be such a mess this early. Keep your fingers crossed that I listen to my body and pay attention to what it needs. Stretching limits is one thing but immobility and pain is something else.

Feeling good

Construction Workers on BreakHad an interesting experience this week on my way to lunch with a colleague. I work on a college campus with pretty, thin, young co-eds all over and now that it’s warmer weather and coats are off, I can feel pretty fat amidst all the young folks. I can’t hide my size but I feel uncomfortable walking around.

Add to that the lovely experience of walking down a block near a construction spot at lunch time, with construction workers in hardhats lining the street, eating lunch, having a smoke, and watching the passersby. I hate feeling as though I’m walking a gauntlet.

But this time I had a thought, remembering how B looked at me when we were in Chicago a few weeks ago. He is the first man I’ve ever met who really prefers large ladies and told me I was beautiful with his eyes saying the same thing. As I walked down the street past the construction guys, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, one or two of them saw the skinny college girls but thought that they preferred women with meat on their bones.

I walked a little straighter with a little swing in my step.

FYI – I’m off to DC this weekend for a conference with 1800 of my closest friends. I won’t have tons of time to blog but will pop on when I have a chance. Stay out of trouble!

My knees are crumbling away

X-ray of an Arthritic Knee (not mine)They’re worse than I thought. My knees, I mean. And I didn’t think they were all that good in the first place. At least now I understand why a bit more.

I had my initial visit with the new ortho people, a year after my last consult in Boston with the surgeon who worked on both knees and treated me over a 12 year period. My last MRI’s, carefully lugged in on the bus and carried over in my hot little hands, were pretty worthless because they are 2 years old and the right knee had surgery after the imaging was done. But still, as an academic background, they were useful.

What he wanted to see were weight-bearing x-rays, showing how the joints look when they’re in action. One look at those and he said, no wonder it hurts so much. There’s this little space in the joint where the meniscus is, and in a healthy joint, it’s the same width all the way along. Mine looked like it was pitched cockeyed, with the bones touching on the medial (inside) part and the normal spacing on the lateral (outside) part. The ends of the bones were ground down without the nice rounded edges they are supposed to have. The right knee was considerably worse than the left, and the left isn’t going to win any prizes.

So, what to do. I have a referral to a joint replacement specialist – not to schedule surgery just yet, but to talk about long-term and short-term options. Eventually there will be a double knee replacement in my future (I do, after all, have my father’s knees and he’s already done it). Losing weight will ease the load on the joint but the damage is already done, between wear and tear of weight bearing over many years + arthritis + degenerative joint disease. Lucky me.

I also have some inserts to put into my walking shoes instead of the orthotics I’ve used for years. It seems that they correct my pronation, alright, but that actually pushes the knee in the wrong direction. Maybe years ago it would have helped – and actually, I think it did – but now that simply pushes the already tight joint into more bone-on-bone grinding. The new inserts will push the leg the other way, hopefully opening up that little cushion space enough to feel some relief.

Of course there’s the other problem that I have arthritic feet. God, it’s hard being old. When I lace on the walking shoes, the lacing presses right on the top of my foot which is where the arthritis is. The next joint down is where the shoe bends when you walk, and that presses on an even worse little arthritic space. So wearing the good for me healthy shoes actually can case more pain than not wearing them at all. The orthopedist described my pain accurately as though someone stuck a knitting needle in my foot and then ran a rolling pin over it. Yeah, that’s it. I want to avoid this at all costs.

So I’m going to have to think about managing the insert thing to help my knee with the foot and shoes issues. It’s not possible to use inserts in my adorable Birkenstock pink sandals. Which I wore today and plan to wear again tomorrow.

Are we having fun yet? That’s what I thought.

Seriously considering lapband surgery

Fat woman in a bikiniI’m not doing so well on my post-WW eating plan. Because I’m not holding myself accountable, which I know is what I need to do, or eating the things that I know I should be eating, because they’re not here or my schedule is crazy or I just don’t feel like it. I have a big attitude problem.

But really what I want is to be smaller. Not a skinny minny, just smaller so I can feel more comfortable in my body, fit into seats, find cute clothes that fit. I wouldn’t know myself as a skinny minny but I wouldn’t go into surgery obese and wake up thin anyway. It takes time.

There was a segment on 60 MInutes tonight about bariatric surgery and the changes in how it’s performed as well as the effectiveness on medical conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and chances for getting cancer. The post-op patient panel members were happy, enthusiastic, and successful. I wish more people with longer-term success had been included, but there are other places where I get that kind of information.

My doctor asked me back in March if I would consider the lapband surgery based on current research and patient experience, not on what I’d heard before. I’m not quite there but I’m a lot closer. I know that WLS isn’t an easy out or an easy adjustment to a lifestyle. But my current approach isn’t working and hasn’t for a long time.

4 Handed Massage

MassageYou all know that I am a big fan of massage and get them regularly. What I had today was a 4-handed massage – no, not from a Hindu deity with multiple arms. Instead, it was a double massage with two therapists working on me at the same time for an hour. Oh. My. God. it was the most amazing experience ever, even beating my beloved hot stone massage.

For a massage to work best, all the muscles need to be totally relaxed and it’s always a bit of an adjustment to having strangers touch your naked body. I’ve been to both of the massage therapists before and was familiar with the space, so that helped. That familiar New Agey Celtic music was playing softly and there was the sound of water.

Having four hands work on me at the same time relaxed not only my body but also my mind. There was good energy between the therapists and it was almost like a little ballet as they moved in tandem around me, working on arms and feet and back and neck. it was too much for the mind to keep track of it all so I just let go and felt and enjoyed and was totally present in my body.

It turns out that I was the very first client to get this new treatment, which the center just started offering 2 weeks ago. I’ll definitely be back.