Between a Medical Rock and a Hard Place

It’s hard enough to follow medical instructions when you only have one set of them.  Having more than one set puts us patients between a medical rock and a hard place.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been experiencing some dizziness when I bend down or stand up suddenly, plus headaches, lack of energy, and fatigue even though I’m getting at least 7 hours of sleep using my CPAP.   People at work have been asking if I’m okay because apparently I’m very pale.  I finally decided it was enough of a concern that I should get it checked out.

Yesterday I went to the health plan and got checked out. They took 4 vials of blood to run a battery of tests including checks on levels of B-12, vitamin D, potassium, and iron.  I was asked what I eat on a typical day and how much I usually drink (60-68 oz of water).  Even without seeing the lap results, the doctor said it seems my potassium and electrolyte levels are low, as well as probably my iron.  The things I know I’m doing right are protein and calcium, but I haven’t really figured out how to eat the right kinds of foods to give me nutritional balance in much less food and with the restrictions that come with the band. There’s a lot I can’t eat.

I was told that I should be drinking Gatorade in addition to my water, to increase my electrolytes, and having a glass of OJ in the morning.  While I adore OJ, the lapband people told me to avoid all juices and fruits because of the natural levels of sugars and carbs.   They want me eating about 40 gms carbs per day, which I haven’t begun to reach.  But since my last fill in late January, I’ve been working hard to keep my carbs lower than I did before – and now that I think on it, that’s when I started to feel dizzy and tired.

So what to do:  listen to the “whole body” doctor or the “lapband and weight loss” doctor?  No matter what, I’m going to be violating someone’s medical advice.  I called the lapband office to talk with a nurse, but found them pretty dismissive of me getting advice from anyone else, which made me more upset.  She called back 10 minutes later to say the surgeon wants to see me on Monday morning at 8am. Lab results won’t be back by then but being able to talk with him and not just nurses is a Good Thing.

I’m willing to follow a limited eating program.  I knew that was part of the deal when I got the band – and let’s be honest, it’s just necessary on any food plan.  I don’t expect to be able to eat everything I see or want.  But I want to feel better, have more energy, be more balanced even if it means the weight loss is slower.   I’ve lost 85 lbs at this point in under a year; it’s going to be slower from now on anyway.

I just wish the doctors would understand that I’m a person and not just a lapband or a set of numbers on a lab report.  It’s my job to remind them and figure this out for myself if they can’t come to terms amongst themselves.

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Feeling the Restriction

I had my second saline fill almost a month ago and am finding it much harder than I’d anticipated after fill #1.   There definitely is restriction and I find that I’m PB’ing almost every day, so I’m watching food very carefully.  I think the problem today was eating too soon after having taken a pill (which is hard by itself).  Every day it seems that something goes wrong, but I really don’t know why I couldn’t keep down yogurt.  I mean, how can you gag on yogurt?

So I was anxious going to Boston this weekend, since it meant eating out and being away from normal routines.   I stocked up with some NuGo Chocolate Peanut Butter bars for the train rides (it’s a 2 1/2 hr train ride from New Haven to Boston’s Back Bay station, only 2 blocks from my hotel; no way was I going to drive).   I also brought a water bottle I refilled often, and a blender bottle with individual packets of protein powder.   I rounded out my meals with Greek yogurt parfaits from Starbucks, which was right in the hotel.  I’d hoped to be able to have a crab cake appetizer at Legal Seafood, but given the state of my tummy, the yogurt and protein worked out better.  Plus they were lots cheaper.

But being in Boston was wonderful.  I’ve only been back once since moving away in 2007 and it was great to see old stomping grounds and do a little shopping (zilch at Filene’s Basement, which doesn’t have many fluffy lady sizes at all but scored a pair of on-sale womens petite pants at Talbots that fit perfectly).  Didn’t really feel like spending much time in the mall, though I walked around for exercise, but I finished my Friday getting a hot stone massage at the spa, which was awesome.

Saturday was Family History Day, co-sponsored by and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  They had hoped to get 350 people and ended up getting another meeting room and topping out at 731 people, the max that the fire code would allow in the spaces.  It was a totally awesome event with 6 different classes (2 offered twice) on topics on immigration and naturalization, organizing materials, getting the most from your subscriptions, Family Tree Maker software, and resources available through NEHGS.

They also brought in professional equipment for free scanning of documents onto individual flash drives as well as offering free individual consultations with professional genealogists.  I took advantage of both – they were great opportunities and were booked up through the day.   I’ve been playing around online with new eyes and am starting to figure out how to better track what information I have and what steps to take next.   The event was so worth it on many levels.

Valentine’s Day 2010

Today the world (okay, maybe just the U.S.) celebrates romantic love, the color red, chocolate, and presents.  Even though it feels like a Hallmark Holiday, it’s actually a very old celebration dating to Roman times (when St. Valentine was beheaded on Feb. 14 for secretly marrying couples against the emperor’s ban on marriages).

For the last month, escalating last week, we’ve been bombarded by ads from jewelry store and florists, Hallmark and candy companies.  Stores are packed with stuffed animals holding little red “I Love You” hearts, bags of Hershey’s kisses and heart-shaped boxes full of chocolates, pink or red sappy sweet cards, and red roses.   I noticed yesterday, though,  that those are moving to the Clearance section to make room for sparkly green St. Patrick’s Day stuff.

But many of us would rather skip this day.  I’m not presuming that all single people don’t like it, but I don’t, and I know plenty of others for whom the celebration is more proforma than real.  The love of my life is a cat and she cares for crunchies, catnip, and mommy.  No cards, no chocolate, no red.  I’m happy staying home quietly with her and not being out and about having Valentine’s Day slammed in my face.  And no, I’m not a crazy cat lady.  I’m a middle-aged single woman with a cat; big difference.

If you are lucky enough to have a love of your life who isn’t four-footed and furry, may this be a happy day full of shared love with or without the flowers, candy, jewelry, or red presents.  If not, love yourself enough to celebrate anyway, doing something you enjoy and makes you feel as special as you are.

To Speak or Not to Speak

I’ve been on diets since I was about 10.  Sometimes they would work and I’d lose some pounds, then I would get tired of it, lose my momentum, and gain them back, usually plus more.  I’d say 45 years of that is plenty of dieting.  Several times I would have successful periods when I lost significant amounts of weight, generating lots of comments and questions from other people about how I did it, what advice did I have, etc.  Sometimes I felt like the poster child for Weight Watchers which got pretty old pretty fast.

Seeing other fat people tugged at my heartstrings and I often found myself volunteering things to try.  Why weren’t they following the simple steps that I knew made all the difference?  Eat less, move more is so easy.  Walking was easy.  Lots of vegetables.  Portion control.  Honestly, it wasn’t that hard.

Except that, of course, it was hard.  Sticking with a program for weeks and months and years is not easy when you are programmed to eat in response to particular foods or emotional situations.   I spent time in therapy as well as the gym, WW, and the nutritionist office.  Not for addictive behavior or eating disorders, but still, time with people who helped give me tools to use in working through my issues.

The world is full of fat people, a lot of them are bigger than I am, and I don’t volunteer anything to anyone now unless it’s asked.   I don’t mention lapbands or Weight Watchers or books or gyms or therapy or portion sizes.  I know from personal experience that someone could have lost significant weight that’s not obvious to someone else, or from a medical condition.   If I’m asked about my own weight loss, I’m happy to talk about it.  But I do not impose anything on anyone else, even if they are ordering something in a restaurant that I think is not particularly healthy for them.  It might be a planned treat – and really, it’s none of my business.

Is that enabling them?  Maybe.  It’s also keeping my nose out of their lives and their business.   Being the recipient of such well-meaning comments in the past, I know how much it hurts to have someone else kindly tell me that the right thing to do is eliminate sugar, or go into therapy to figure out my issues, or just go to a gym to help tone up.   I wasn’t stupid, I knew those things.

No matter how happy any of us are about successfully changing our lives by losing weight and making significant lifestyle and emotional changes to do so, those changes apply to us and not to everyone we meet.  Not being ready to deal with my reality was MY business and something that I had to come to terms with in my own time and way.  I owe that to others as well.  The right words at the wrong time or from the wrong person can cause serious harm.