Thursday, December 31, 2009

TWENTY-TEN - Call to ACTION!

I love the sound of the coming new year - TWENTY-TEN. It sounds decisive, powerful, capable, strong. Two thousand ten...not so much. 2010 is going to be good. I've said that many times already, mostly in comments on others' blogs, and I honestly feel it. Optimistic. Hopeful. Certain and deliberate. Intentional. Yet another piece of good stuff I heard at an AA meeting once was "it's okay to look at the past, but you don't have to stare." I take that to mean that while we can learn from our mistakes and successes in the past, that ain't where we live our lives, and it can be counterproductive to look back too much. It can be easy to get hung up on where we didn't do so well, what went wrong, how we wished we'd been different. On this last day of aught 09 (and in the days preceding) I've reflected a bit on the last year, but more on the one coming and how I want to proceed and continue living my life and striving to be the best Leslie I can.

When I first started blogging in June, I kept seeing blog talk about the Hot 100 challenge, and didn't really know "whaddup wi'dat". I 'spose I could've found out by clicking on someone's link to it, but never did - allowing myself to feel out of the loop, which was a common default setting of mine some years back, and a great excuse to not show up fully for whatever I might allege to be interested in taking on.

Not anymore. I'm in on the ground floor of the Perfect 10 Challenge by South Beach Steve that you can read about here. This is a ten week challenge beginning January 1, 2010, and will be an excellent tool for helping me get back on track with weight loss, exercise, and continuing the journey to my best self. (God, I sound like Oprah=])

I'm going to list my goals below, but before I do, I have to note that a huge goal of mine for 2010 is to get more literate with computer skills that will help me to tighten up my blog a bit. For example, I didn't know how to do a hyperlink until 3 minutes ago, when I Googled how to do it, wasn't able to figure it out, and so had my daughter spoon feed me through it. And now I can (assuming the above link works)! Not a Perfect 10 goal, but the first success of my broader Desires and Goals for 2010 otherwise known as RESOLUTIONS, were I not totally opposed to the term after a lifetime of unresolved resolutions. I'm psyched that I can hyperlink, now. Truth be told, until an hour ago I didn't know the term for that clever little maneuver all of you slipped into countless posts...I only knew I couldn't do whatever the hell it was. Yaaay me! How much better will it feel to get to goal weight, which is gonna happen this year. Mark my word and read my goals for Perfect 10 . Oops, I did it again!

My goals are:

1. Lose 20 pounds by the end of the challenge. This is a 2 pound a week loss, which at my current over-weight is absolutely realistic and achievable.

2. Do minimum of 30 minutes of cardio daily 6 times a week. Due to my knee recovery, I'm not entirely sure when I'll be able to actually power or treadmill walk or use the elliptical trainer again for any substantial period of time, but I know I can use a stationary bike (within PT stated parameters) at the very least for the accomplishment of this goal. When I'm at my peak, I'd ordinarily do 45 minutes to an hour, or even longer if I'm walking the loop at Ridley Creek State Park which is my favorite form of exercise. If I can do that during this challenge, great. But I'm setting the 30 minute goal to be realistic given my current circumstances.

3. Spend at least 15 minutes 5 days a week (or more - unlikely) sitting quietly with no noise, tv, music, or other distraction. Just sitting, and if the spirit moves - meditating. Focusing on my breathing. I put this in because I'm a total noise/activity/music/tv junkie, and I'm aware that I stay in a hyper inner state in my mind as a result. This can result in me feeling chaotic, which will ultimately make me more vulnerable to giving in to cravings or binge-ing thoughts. I strongly desire more peace - from within as well as from outside. This can't happen if I don't program in just a small amount of quiet time each day. If I do more than 15 minutes - great. It will be challenge enough for me to just do the minimum of 15 for 5 days each week. Eventually I'd like to establish a regular meditation practice, and have actually worked on that at times. But my inner "agita" (south Philly term) always gets in the way eventually.

4. Write down my food each day. I've pledged this a thousand times, and have started out strong and then petered out. I believe I can do this for 10 weeks, and if I don't need it after that - fine. But for ten weeks I will do it. When I've done it in the past for a few days, it's been helpful.

5. I will weigh and post my weekly weight on Fridays during this challenge. I may weigh inbetween, but always will on the Fridays for my official reporting. I will start this tomorrow - January 1. Every Friday I will do a Perfect 10 update.

Those are the only goals for me. I wrote recently about how I've basically sucked at keeping my stated goals in the past. I don't want that to continue. I love the idea of weekly accountability, and pledge to follow through. What more can I say? I'm really grateful to Steve for putting out this challenge at this time. I need it to spur me back into ACTION, which was what I talked about in my post yesterday. Talk's cheap. Goal setting is easy. Follow through is a little harder and requires ACTION.

I don't mean to be getting all linky on you guys, but me loves my new skill! I hope they work, because if not I'll have to go back to the drawing board, or at least Blogger 101. I have to remember when I didn't even know how to use a digital camera, much less post pictures. All of that I learned since starting this blog. So there's hope. If you find my links lead nowhere, let me know and though I'll be &%$#@#%'d off, I'll deal with it and figure it out.

I hope everyone has a safe, sane and reasonable New Year's Eve - and even more, a HAPPY NEW YEAR. Please be careful and don't party too hard. And STAY PUT if you do!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking back/looking ahead

Lou played Santa Claus for his adoring family - he's standing in the midst of a bright sunbeam pouring through the window here. He's a little late wishing everyone happy holidays! You can tell he's ever so slightly pi$$ed off that we were messing with him. He's quite fun to play dress-up with!

There's a saying in AA (and the rest of the world) that if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting. Well, I'd like to extrapolate on that nugget of wisdom: if you stop doing what you were doing that worked when you were doing it, you'll stop getting what you were getting when you were doing what you stopped doing - results.

What I'm talking about is that for the months I was being careful and committed to a food plan and regular exercise, I was actually losing weight, shaving inches and toning my assorted parts. I lost 30 pounds from early June - most of it through September, by being very intentional about my eating. Intentional in the sense of not just paying attention to and being mindful of the food I ate while I ingested it, but also about meal planning, food purchasing and food preparation. Specifically I made sure to have plenty of good healthy fresh food on hand, and to prepare it in amounts where it was available to take for lunch at work, or to supplement with other freshly made dishes for dinner. I spent Sunday afternoons cooking, chopping, slicing, dicing...in order to set myself up for easy but healthy clean eating over the course of the week. I surprised myself with such sensible and workable strategies.

In October, I started slacking off on the food prep a bit, and began working on a dysfunctional relationship with my scale. In November, we took a 10 day trip to the Dominican Republic, where food was blessedly not the "Main Event" in my consciousness on a daily basis and we did tons of walking. Subsequently I lost several pounds while there and was aware that a period of normal eating had descended upon me for possibly the first time in my life. Almost immediately upon returning from the DR, I found out about the torn meniscus in my left knee, which effectively sidelined me from the gym. Early December brought knee surgery and sluggish recovery, followed by the "eatin'" holidays; which brings me to the present where I find myself 8 pounds above my lowest weight. Essentially I've averaged weighing 195 (give or take a few) since early September. I started in early June at about 224. Good progress - yes. But given that I'm not 6'5", there is more to do. Episodic binge-ing, playing scale roulette, plateauing myself like a beached whaled in the upper 190s...are just a few of the ways I sabotaged myself and my efforts. Obviously there are emotional issues swarming below my still somewhat dimpled surface; but they were there when I was in the 220s and I managed to get a grip successfully enough to lose about 14% of my weight. I didn't need to figure out my issues in order to do some right things.

There's another AA saying I love: "You can't think your way into right action, but you can act your way into right thinking". I believe this to be true. If I could think, or figure out with my mind, how to be thin without taking solid healthy action in a variety of ways, I'd have done it long ago. I'd be typing this as a size 8. What actually happened was that I finally took some right action one day, and then another day, and another...and even though my issues were present - I still got results because I was DOING RIGHT THINGS. Taking action. I wasn't lying on a therapist's couch vomiting out my dysfunctional past so I could go a day without bingeing. I just went a day without bingeing that coincided with a trip to the gym. Repeat next day, and for at least 5 days a week. Yield: lost of about 30 pounds in 3 months. Translate: Just do it (thank you Nike).

In reflecting on what I did that worked, I didn't have to strain my brain too much. Set myself up for success. Food planning and prep. So I started today by doing a big food shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables. I haven't done this since the knee surgery because I really didn't have the ooomph to traipse the aisles of the produce store. Today, with my ever improving knee - I did. And I've already made a big pot of a very healthy ratatouille - seen here before it simmered for a couple hours
This has green and red peppers, onions, zucchini, garlic, eggplant, yellow squash and tomatoes, along with fresh seasonings, and is utterly healthy and delicious when served with either chicken, pork, a little feta cheese or even by itself. I also plan to do a pan of roasted root vegetables and cook a turkey breast. There fruit bowl is full and I bought packs of reduced fat string cheese. Having this kind of stuff on hand really helps me with the eating.

Also, my gym membership is reinstated from having been frozen while my knee rehab was seeming stalled. I won't be able to do full cardio for awhile yet, but I can do the biking slowly and at no resistance for as long as I have no pain. I can begin some upper body strengthening also. My physical therapy is going well, and in the last 2 days, my knee seems to have improved as much as it had in the entire post op period prior. Apparently lots of rest and care work wonders! I'm truly feeling optimistic now about eventually being able to return to a challenging exercise routine.

All the above may not seem like much to those of you who've been going great guns steadily throughout the months. To me, they feel big, and they feel fantastically hopeful. I love when I'm PUMPED to do and be healthy. For the last 6 weeks, I've felt draggy and droopy and uninspired, and couldn't THINK my way out of it. It seems like beginning the Physical Therapy last week was the beginning of the renewal. Whatever it was, I'm grateful to feel newly and freshly enthusiastic to again be my own best friend and act positively on my own behalf. Even if some of my "issues" are as yet unresolved. The last AA saying I'll bore you with is "Bring the body around, the mind will follow." That refers to attending AA meetings, but obviously it applies in other areas. If I wait 'til I'm "ready" and resolved, I'll die fat and unfit.

I have a family wedding coming up in March in Atlanta which will serve as my first time goal. I haven't quite figured out where I'd like to be by then (on the the scale), but I do know that this will be a goal that I don't blow off. I've not met any goal I've set since I began blogging in June 2009. That WILL change. Just watch.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy last days of old year!

Just a brief post here to remind self and others that I have a blog on which I'm committed to being honest and accountable about my eating and exercising; a blog I started for the purpose of aiding my efforts at losing weight and finding fitness. Seems I've forgotten about the blog for the last few days, though I've been reading many of your blogs. And I haven't really forgotten mine...I've just been so distracted with Christmas, family, friends and life that I haven't been doing my usual thing of writing posts in my head as I go through my day to day activities. I actually do that a lot...I'll hear something or a thought will occur and I'll begin "writing it up" in my mind. Not so for the last 5 days.

My knee has been slow to come along. PT is going well, and at my last visit I got to warm up by doing 5 minutes on a stationary bike, at no resistance. Sounds like not much, you say??? It felt great to me because it was the first legitimate "cardio" type of activity in which I've engaged since early December just before my arthroscopy. I'm hoping for more of the same on Tuesday when I go, but know I have to follow the directions of the therapist so as not to overdo. That seems to be a tendency of mine that has already thwarted my recovery a bit. Apparently while at work my first week back, I twisted the knee a bit and actually caused a painful strain below the knee...not related to the surgery! The move likely wouldn't have caused an injury had my knee not already been compromised, but it has been a painful and pointed lesson in not doing too much too soon. At 56 I'm not quite as pliant as some of you 30- and 40-something bloggers, though I still think of my self that way. I have to take care of myself! DUH.

Anyway, the twisting or torquing or whatever I did has caused me a lot of pain in one single spot when I walk that has resulted in me limping substantially, thereby throwing off my body alignment, and causing other assorted aches and pains of minor nuisance. Soooo, a physical therapist at my work last Wednesday, (my last day until January 4th) called me on the carpet, saying that I was going to end up in traction if I didn't stop the limping, and she offered me a cane to borrow over the break that would enable me to walk normally, pain-free, and allow the newly injured tissue to heal. I've been using it and resting the leg as much as possible, while carrying on with my physical therapy exercises, and the knee is finally starting to feel better for real. I'm using this week off to truly be careful and treat it gingerly, with plenty of rest, and plenty of required movements after which I'm icing it. I know you guys must be so glazed over reading about this knee drama again, but I need to talk about it because it's "in my face" every minute. I appreciate your patience or your quiet fast forwarding on to a smarter and more successful blogger who isn't such a boob as to further injure herself because she's bullheaded.

Foodwise - not too bad. My weight was 198 Sunday morning, which is up from my 192 low pre-op and pre-holiday timing, but much less awful than it could or would be if I was pulling my usual holiday stuff (recall Thanksgiving's journey back to "Twoterville". I know I'm still retaining a bit of water, and a couple of days of stringent following of my plan will work wonders. I still have several holiday related occasions over this week where I will enjoy and not be adhering tightly to my food plan, but where I will be careful and make good choices. I haven't felt like binge-ing at all, and actually find that as I'm eating more calorie-laden food than usual, I do desire smaller amounts and am not plagued by food-thoughts as can happen at times after several days of uber-clean eating. Overall, I feel optimistic and excited about returning to a more typical routine of eating, exercise, and good orderly direction.

Having the kids home has been awesome. They are happy to be with each other, and with us. We had a wonderful Christmas with much less gift giving due to all of us needing to tighten our belts in the financial realm and the fact that all 3 kids took expensive flights to get here...which Tom and I pain for! I've gotten a few pics, but hope to get more today before Stephen has to head back to Chicago to work tomorrow. Jean will be here until Sunday when she returns to the Dominican Republic, and Mark will be heading back to college in Atlanta on the 10th. I hope to get a decent shot of the three of them together to post, ever being the proud mama.

I'm so inspired by how many of you have held fast to your food and exercise goals through the holidays. I do hope that next year I will be one of you who can write motivational posts about how the holidays don't have to derail our progress toward our goals. Actually, I've never had a more successful set of holidays in that regard than this year, even with the bum knee and loosened up eating. A key has been this blogging...just staying accountable. Also, weighing frequently (2-3x/wk) so that little gains don't become major backslides. But I'm ready to have some big progress in the weight loss arena in early 2010 for a number of reasons I'll talk about later. In the meantime - enjoy this last week of 2009, everyone. I have a feeling that 2010 is going to hold some wonderful successes and amazing stories for all. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ho ho Hope!

I took yesterday off from work in order to not feel rushed about my mid-morning Physical Therapy appointment; as well as to panic shop for Christmas gifts still not thought out, much less bought. It turned out to be a really good day (clouded only by occasional guilt waves about calling in sick), and succesful on all fronts. I used my knee as the excuse so it wasn't an outright lie, but I've been working with it in worse shape for over a week. Basically, I needed the day! I'm back today for the last day until January 4th. Woo-hoo!

Physical therapy was as good and positive as I was hoping it would be. My PT's name is Katie, who was just back from having ankle surgery. She came highly recommended by a friend who had treatment at the same rehab place, so I'd requested her. This was my first venture into PT, other than a one time visit several months back about an elbow issue that turned out to be a waste of time.

Katie asked me all about the knee and the surgery, how it was feeling, where it hurt...all the pertinent questions. She then evaluated it completely for status and function, measuring how well I could flex and extend it. It took about 20 minutes for this. She then showed me 3 different exercises (stretches) to begin doing at home, and also told me I can start using a stationary bike beginning with 5 minutes a day and increasing slo-o-o-wly as tolerated, showing me how extended my knee should be at the lowest point of the pedal. It was pretty exciting to hear I can do that. I don't have a bike at home or work, so will unfreeze my gym membership right after Christmas. In the meantime, I go back for another session tomorrow, once the following week, and then twice a week for a couple beyond that, if needed.

The exercises are simple, but not easy. Amazing how diminished and weakened my quads and hamstrings have become over the last few weeks. Katie also watched me walk and saw that I'm walking on the outside of my L foot and landing almost on my L toes to accomodate the discomfort, so she gave me some pointers to think about when I'm walking. I swear - 24 hours later I can already feel a difference. She was very encouraging, saying I was doing well for not quite 3 weeks post op. It feels wonderful to have something to focus and work on physically again and makes me feel excited to eventually return to my regular (though sensibly modified!) workouts. I think I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be substantially impaired from now on - that's what catastrophic thinkers do - so to be reassured that I'm basically "on schedule" feels good.

Before and after PT, I did quite a bit of shopping, so by the end of the day I was dragging my leg around like a heavy, useless sack of potatoes that was severely weighing me down and screwing with my gait. Limp city! Resting, elevating and icing it brought it back "up to code" (my specifications) within 45 minutes, allowing me to cook dinner and then head out to an AA meeting to see some buddies. I got a lot of wrapping done and threw a few more ornaments on the tree. All in all it was a productive day, though I didn't get much blog activity in. Hope to make up for that today, between nursing moments. I've been using the trike all day, more because it's fun than necessary I think. The last day before the break has such a relaxed atmosphere that it's okay to have some lightness and fun.

Number one son Stephen (the oldest) gets in from Chicago this afternoon, and I can't wait to see him. I'd love to stay home this evening, but I'm going to a healing session for my friend Lisa that is being conducted by one of her acupuncturist friends. I've never been to one of these before, so it should be interesting. It will also likely be very emotional, and maybe sad. I'm a little nervous about it but wouldn't miss it for anything. It's funny how not knowing what to do or how to act at something unfamiliar can make me nervous, and even afraid to show up. I know all I have to do is bring the body, and the mind will follow and be just fine. I have plenty of time to see Stephen. Then Jean, my daughter, will be flying in tomorrow and the nest will be brimming with little chickadees again. It will be busy, crazy, fun and also nerve-wracking at times. But I'm looking forward to all of it.

I fully plan to post tomorrow, and maybe even on Christmas, but in case I don't, I wish all of my friends in blogdom a wonderful peaceful holiday. And if you don't celebrate this holiday, I hope all the trappings and activities of the celebrants aren't too annoying! Abundant blessings to all!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inching towards extra inches

Our snow total in Philly this weekend was 23.2 inches! Impressive, and record setting for the city. Also beautiful. Having grown up in Florida and then living in Georgia for several years, snow still delights and amazes me. I love to stand in the garage looking out at the air just teeming with zillions of frenetically falling flakes, looking like wild whiteout chaos - yet utterly silent. It makes not a sound! On the news they were talking about a phenomenon called "thundersnow" where there is actually thunder during almost blizzard conditions where the snow falls at a rate of 3-5 inches/hour. We didn't get any of that, but places in Jersey did. I got one cool picture of an uber icicle that I can't post because I forgot my camera cable. Maybe next time.

I was absolved from shoveling duty for this storm because of the infamous knee, which continues to baffle and stymie me, along with totally pissing me off. I never mind shoveling snow with the husband...great exercise and invigorating. And being "the little woman", I can always go in when I get tired of it. Alas, my exercise Saturday consisted of making a pot of split pea soup and holding down the couch most of the day.

I'm sorry to keep talking about the knee, but it's really getting discouraging to have it continue to swell up and down, and just feel weak and tender. I continue to have the one "hot spot" below the actual knee that really hurts at times when I walk and causes me to limp. I don't feel it all the time which I'm sure is a good thing, but when I do, I really have to alter my gait. This whole thing is so NOT ME! I'm not whiny, I don't have a low tolerance to pain, I'm willing to work through discomfort, and I hate being so less active than usual! Damn it!

Then yesterday, after I'd spent a lot of the day out shopping and running/leg dragging around, I was pretty limpy by late afternoon. I saw a friend at a meeting and she got this stricken look on her face and said, "Oh My God! You're worse!" Do people realize how upsetting that kind of thing is? I told her I was actually better, but very tired after a too-active day and overdue on my Aleve; but she wouldn't reliquish her obsessively worried look. Rather than assessing, just ask how I'm doing, please. I start Physical Therapy tomorrow, for which I can't wait. I know it will be helpful to have some guidance and support, as well as encouragement that I won't be like this forever.

Also, my eating continues to deteriorate. I didn't get on the scale in the last 3 days, which isn't a good sign, so I need to weigh tomorrow to see what's up - HAH! Literally. (That wasn't intentional, but fitting, huh?) What with wrestling with the knee, being behind on all aspects of holiday preparation, and generally feeling sorry for myself, it feels like too much to eat sanely. I know in my head that I'm going to have to deal with the weight gain eventually and that this overeating I'm continuing with right now is totally counterproductive to who I am and what I want for myself; but the self-pitying emotional part of me feels like I just can't restrict myself when I have this knee thing going on. Talk about a shitty excuse.

I've said this before in the last few posts and I'm sorry to keep repeating myself, but it ain't going away. In fact, it's escalating. That's what the slippery slope is all about. So far I haven't baked any cookies, but I have made the outrageous herbed nuts that I give away each year, and the cookie recipes are stacked up on the counter, just goading me to get moving. My kids will eat them, but they'll eat them like normal people. Same with hubby. Just one, 2 tops. WTF??????????? Like someone who drinks half a glass of wine and leaves the rest...makes no sense to me. Addiction, thy name is Leslie.

I still haven't binged, but I'm starting to wonder at what point overeating becomes a full on binge. Just because I'm spacing out the overindulgences over my awake time rather than cramming it into a couple of hours doesn't really change what I'm consuming, I suppose. I think the volume is less, and I'm not out of control - but the true nature of what I'm doing is threaded throughout, whether bingeing or grazing. AARRGGHH! And do you know I just had the thought that if my knee would be all better, I'd be fine and stop this? Denial, thy name is ALSO Leslie.

I'm going to try to not anguish too much over this all, as there is much good going on as well. My daughter from the Domincan Republic is in Atlanta for a few days and will get here on the 24th. Stephen in Chicago will be get home the 23rd, and our nest will be full. Our kids are great and continue to reassure that they don't need or want "stuff"; they just want to hang out as a family and torment me! It is always open season on mom, and I will love every minute of it. They're very funny and edgy which makes for great entertainment. I am blessed beyond measure in so many ways that to allow myself to grovel in despair is self-indulgent and futile. I'm aware of what I'm doing and I do say no to things I'd just as soon have. These wouldn't be happening if I was off the deep end, so I'll continue to tread water, tell on myself, and keep the vision of my best self clean in the mind's eye. This is a detour, not the end of the road.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Nurse in transit

After being so optimistic on Wednesday that my knee was better, I had a day from hell with it yesterday. It started out a little shaky (translate: hurting and weak), and by the end of a very busy day at work that included the holiday party and a thousand laps up and down the long hallway (photos of said hall to follow), each step caused me to see stars due to a jabbing pain at one little point below the knee. One tiny spot that felt like a knife was stabbing it repeatedly (think shower scene in "Psycho") with each foot fall.

This obviously had me distressed and thinking "I'm suing that freaking orthopod"; but after a conveniently scheduled acupuncture treatment, rest, Aleve, ice and warmth alternating, and a fantastic night of sleep, it felt better enough this morning that I went back to work. The staff and I all thought I'd never make it in today after the shape I was in at the end of the day yesterday, but it felt much better, and since I want to take off next Tuesday for my first PT appt. (which is in the middle of the morning and would be hard for me to leave work for and come back), I really didn't want to miss today if I didn't have to.

But I knew that I had to be very careful, and try to avoid some of the possible overdoing of the last 2 days and take it easy. So, in an effort to shamelessly garner sympathy from fellow bloggers, I took some pictures of the long hall and ramp that I'm up and down over and over during the course of each work day: left is looking down the ramp to the far end of the building, and on the right is standing in the same place looking in the opposite direction up the other end of the hall
My office is just before the close small bulletin board on the right (past the big one with the aqua paper), so I'm in the center of the expanse. The ramp in the picture on the left has been a killer on the knee...not walking up it, but down. So today, I found a better way to tend the flock at work...WHEELS! Not a wheelchair, but this:

and here's another view: This is a therapeutic trike that our clients can ride in the gym for exercise, therapy and fun, or a nurse with a bum knee can use to navigate the long halls of the building to pass meds, check on people, and get laughed at. Note the white basket behind the seat; this perfectly holds my med tray. I coasted down the ramp, but then found I could actually pedal back up with both knees (slowly and carefully) and it felt good! It makes me realize how much I need physical therapy and can't wait to get started with it.

This really helped me today - all kidding aside. I didn't walk down the ramp one time and I know that prevented additional wear and tear on the knee. This trike handles surprisingly well and has a single handbrake that makes it easy to use, and fun!! I always like to keep things light (when possible and appropriate), and this certainly helped today. We'll see if I pay tomorrow for the pedaling I did today.

My food has continued to be not awful, but not measured and clean. I continue to stay at the 198 range, which is not great but acceptable to me right now, given the circumstances under which I'm operating. Maybe next year I'll be one of the bloggers who talks about how some weight gain and relaxing off the food plan doesn't have to accompany the holidays. But for this year, I'm hoping to just stay in Onederland, no matter how close to the next "country" I'm dwelling. Maybe that's a sucky attitude, but it's my reality today.

We're supposed to get snow tonight, with a possibility of 10 inches. I'll believe that when I see it! Our local forecasters love to whip us all into a frenzy and cause mass chaos at the grocery stores over impending snow. Invariably predictions of 10 inches turn into and inch or 2 at most, with the weather reporters claiming a "late change in the track of the storm". Personally, I'd love a 10 incher, or more. That might help keep me from overdoing it this weekend and be satisfied to hang out on the couch with my books and knitting.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Potpourri

Just a touching base post. Very good news is that today is the first day that I can say that my knee is better! The painful places that were sharp and harsh before are definitely more dull. Present, but more tolerable, and allowing my gait to feel smoother and more normal. Frequent resting between long treks up the hall at work help a lot. Bottom line, the light at the end of the tunnel is evident in the distance now. I don't know what the light will bring and I'm trying to keep my expectations low, but of course if I wrote the script the light would illuminate me jogging and walking back at my beloved Ridley Creek State Park eventually. Seems likely somewhere on down the road, but I know I have to keep an open mind and be willing to let the process take as long as it takes.

I scheduled my first Physical Therapy to begin next Tuesday, and I think that will really help. In reading about post arthroscopy progress, restrengthening the thigh and calf muscles is key to helping support the knee in the best way possible. Prior to stopping cardio for the knee a few months back, my thighs felt really tight and toned, and were the body part where I'd lost the most inches. It's amazing to feel how un-tight my left thigh feels now, which is surprising. When I read about "re-strengthening", I thought, "well, my thighs are my strongest part"; but apparently the accomodations my legs have made to this knee injury, esp. post op, have really caused me to go flabby! Long sigh =O.

With this awareness, I've started doing a lot of isometric exercise and quadricep setting with my left leg to get things moving a bit, and maybe that is part of why I'm noticing some improvement. I'm still treating it very gingerly, but intuitively I know that starting to use the muscles will help it along.

Per some of your suggestions yesterday, as well as my own procrastination finally showing a chink in its armor, I went online and got just about all the Christmas gifts I had left to get. Also took #2 son, Mark, out to Kohl's for some clothes and shoe shopping, which will comprise most of his gifts. So I'm feeling better about holiday preparations. A good friend who cleans houses did my downstairs Sunday (a luxury in which I rarely partake) and so I've thrown up the stockings and a few holiday chatchkas. Christmas will come whether I'm ready or not, so I'm trying to not stress over it. I'm not a Martha Stewart kind of gal (other than as a wannabe), and so lack of perfection in my surrounds is just fine. I have up the stuff the kids will expect to see, and I guess we'll get a tree this weekend. Truth be told, I'd be just as happy without one this year. It will just flare up my allergies and chronic sinus stuff, but my husband would rather prostrate himself over hot coals than not have a "real" tree. Another sigh.

On a sadder note, my friend with metastatic lung cancer, Lisa, is experiencing a sudden increase in pain where one of her tumors is putting pressure on her rib cage. She put it to me like this: "I think I've taken a turn for the worse." She sounded horrible yesterday, and stayed in bed or on the couch most of the day. Her husband spoke with the oncologist, who said Lisa needs to be taking maximum pain medication at this point (of course). She's been trying to use pain meds sparingly, and the doctor told her she needs to get over that, what with being a stage 4 cancer patient. It's not fear of addiction, but rather the blunting of awareness and not being fully present that she's wanting to avoid. I understand, but expect that the pain will start calling the shots.

Today she sounds better after having had a good night sleep, and has an old friend staying with her for a few days to help with kids and life stuff. I didn't ask, but I'm sure she's started on every 12 hour oxycontin for pain - otherwise she wouldn't have slept. It's gut wrenching to see this happening to a friend who's younger than I am (or to anyone for that matter). She alternates between sounding totally resigned to her impending death with sounding optimistic and hopeful that her designer chemo drug is going to work. Please shoot up a prayer for her and her family if you're so inclined. This gal is not ready (yet) to leave her rich, wonderful sober life that is full of children, family, friends and possibilities. But watching this unfold is demonstrating to me how people do eventually become more accepting and ready, especially when there is tremendous pain and suffering.

Sorry to end on such a tough note, but Lisa is on my mind almost continually. She's the person who said to me once, when I was complaining about someone doing something I thought was wrong, "Let her be your teacher today." I've gotten wisdom, acceptance, friendship and love from her like I've gotten from precious few in my life. Have any of you been through this with a close friend? It prompts me to remind all of us to cherish the people we love every single day, and let them know how we feel about them. And to let go of petty resentments and anger. Life really is too short.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tuesday Talk

It's my second day back at the job and I'm holding up. Day 1 was okay, but by quitting time, my knee felt shredded and I was pooped! Then on to my 2nd visit with the acupuncturist immediately after work (great timing!) and while it didn't exact the miraculous improvement of the first visit, it was helpful and relaxing. Perhaps one reason it wasn't quite as effective is that I spent part of the time in pretzel-like contortions taking pictures of the needled knee. She treated different areas this time, including behind the knee which bothered me a lot yesterday, so she had me turned on my right side rather than on my back for needle placement and heat application, making it hard for a blogger to snap pics! Following is the back of the knee where she inserted 2 needles and then a heat lamp nearby:
Here are a few shots from the front, where she had more needles, some again attached to electrodes, and with heat directed from another strategically placed lamp:





Pretty cool, huh? The practitioner was all excited I was taking pictures and offered to take some if necessary. I excused her from such scintillating duty, as she surely had other ailing folks to poke and prick. She's quite lovely though, and oozes kindness and competence.

When I was loading these pictures into the computer, my husband said, "Oh, are those from your surgery?", then quickly saw the needles in the skin and said, "Whoa! I just ate. I don't want to lose my dinner!" Cracked me up, because this looks like nothing; but he's one of those types who passes out when he has blood drawn. Drops like a stone. Poor delicate Tommy. He'd have made a lousy nurse, but is a great railroad man!

The knee is definitely better today, but there is one area that continues to catch when I walk, and therefore I'm still very gimpy. It's close to one of the sites where the arthroscope was inserted, so again, I wonder if the doc left a clamp or a chunk of torn meniscus in there! Not really...but it's like a little lightening jolt that makes walking a bit of a pain in the a$$ - or knee. I'm trying to be tolerant of my slowish progress, but I have so much to do and very little Christmas shopping done that it's tough being a patient patient. I keep reminding myself that Christmas will come whether I'm "ready" or not, and my kids have all said they really don't want or need much and just want to be together.

This google image doesn't show up too well, but the message is DO(N'T QU)IT...DO IT. I mentioned in my Sunday post that my eating has been...er, relaxed over the last week and that I was going to weigh on Monday. I did and was 198. I was 192 the morning of the surgery. Teetering at the exit from Onederland again. So I had a good clean day yesterday and plan one for today. But I tell you - this knee situation is eating away at my motivation and determination(I love food metaphors!). Not making me want to give up or quit, but feeling it's okay to stay where I am for now, and that's a dangerous attitude, or as South Beach Steve says, a slippery slope. So weighing frequently is a good thing for the time being - as I move beyond this knee episode and am able to exercise and move around freely again, I'll re-evaluate.

Have a good Tuesday everyone, and hang in there...not matter where or what "there" is. "Together we can do what we can't do alone"...from where else? AA!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Will Sundays ever be the same?

Thank you to my blog buddies who've either via comments or emails checked in with me or noted my recent lack of posting. It's wonderful to be in a community of folks I've never met who miss me when I'm gone! I miss all of you as well, when various circumstances take you from the blogging connection for a short interval. This blogging community is quite remarkable, because we really do come to know each other, care about each other, and think of each other during our days when we're aren't sitting at our computers. Dare I say it's a support group? Of sorts, anyway. And I'm eternally grateful, because I need it and love it! I'm returning to work this week and expect my blogging will go back to the daily variety, as it's the very best way I've found to goof off at work - smile, smile.

It's funny - I was thinking I had nothing to say today, but now that I've started typing, thoughts are flying in at a blinding pace, and what I thought would be a short entry may turn out to be l-e-e-e-n-g-t-h-y. Big shock, I know. Feel free to speed read through the verbal cabbage.

So - will Sunday's ever be the same? The same as what, you ask??? For one thing, it's raining today - steady, drenching, annoying, seemingly endless, Christmas shopping-preventing rain that is cold and miserable. We are in the middle of having a new roof put on our house which we need desperately as when it rains we have leaks. Several. And every place that leaks is in the half of the roofing job that hasn't been done yet. So it's raining in as well as out. If my camera wasn't entirely jacked up, I'd take pictures of the multitudinous buckets and towels strategically placed throughout the house under said leaks. Suffice to say, it's anti-feng shui. But we've had so much rain this fall that it isn't the object of the post title.

The typical Sundays I've spent over the last years included long walks with friends as the exercise du jour. Since June, I went to the gym daily M-F, after work for cardio and strength training. The weekends were reserved for the aforementioned long walks, sometimes up to 6 or more miles. But for the 5th Sunday in a row, I'm grounded, rather couched - by this F*&%$#@*!ING bum knee, and it's wearing on my last nerve. This is my 2nd post-op Sunday - last Sunday was only day 2 after surgery and I expected to be down for the count with the knee elevated, iced and heavily medicated. But I was sure by this week I'd be nipping at the heels of normal and starting to warm up my sneakers. Alas, not yet.

It was a rough week with the knee. I wrote Wednesday about prematurely going to work, only to find the knee wasn't ready to man up, or woman up. It rebelled loudly; so I pledged prudence and sanity to keep the limb rested and lovingly tended for the rest of my time off from work, which I've mostly done. What followed Wednesday was my post-op visit with the surgeon Thursday. He showed me pictures from the procedure which looked to me like a panorama of the moon in its many phases. Nursing school didn't teach reading arthroscopy photos - but doc explained that while the meniscus repair was successful and the knee nicely cleaned out, I have a LOT of arthritis, rendering the knee mostly bone, as opposed to the kinder and gentler bone and cartilage combo that makes for happy painless (and younger) knees. Translation: Expect a tougher and lengthier rehab. Arthroscopy really aggravates arthritic joints - increasing inflammation. He kept looking at me long and seriously, saying the knee may give me trouble for awhile - and that if after 8 weeks I still had discomfort, to come in and we'd discuss options. 8 WEEKS? OPTIONS?? WTF? I must have looked shocked, because he quickly back-pedalled and said, "Or, you might be fine by then!" Makes me wonder if he left a hemostat in my knee or something.

Long story short, (I know, too late) I left feeling pretty down. I got in the car and burst into tears...my catastrophizer (resides in my cerebral cortex) was in high gear writing out a script for my future that included crutches, wheel chairs and walkers, but no walks...or any other physical activities. Definitely went into the poor-me mode again, and felt myself sinking into a depressed state that was facilitated by the increasing discomfort and thickness in the knee. Every episode of standing up brought the question, "Where will it hurt most this time"? Pretty grim and bleak. See why I didn't post?

That afternoon (Thursday) I went to Starbucks with a friend who is having bilateral knee replacements in February and also has serious painful neuropathy in both feet from years of drinking. She's wonderfully sober now but continues to pay the price for past indiscretions. Anyway - she mentioned that she's been seeing an acupuncturist for her arthritis, and that it's helping. It reminded me of an article I'd read that said acupuncture before and after joint surgery can be helpful in the shortening of the healing process, lessening of inflammation, and relief of pain. So...I got the name of the friend's practitioner, and made an appointment for Saturday morning.

By the time I got to the appointment, I was having a great deal of trouble walking, between swelling and discomfort in the knee. It just felt thick, unstable and boggy. The practitioner, Dr. Sheng, asked me a bunch of questions, then had me lie down and looked at the knee. She nodded and started getting her needles ready. I cautiously asked, "Have you ever seen a knee like this?" She turned at me, smiled, and said in a voice heavily accented (Chinese) but totally kind and reassuring, "Everyday."
"Really?", I asked.
She went on to say that people came before surgery - hoping to avoid it, or after, or both...and that usually she was able to help them "at least a little". I felt a rush of quiet relief and knowledge that I would likely feel better when I left.

She inserted about 8 or 10 needles all around the knee (painless), and attached little electrodes to 2 of the needles that were placed where I had the most discomfort. The electrodes are stimulators that delivered little vibrations (very low currents) throughout the duration of the time the needles are in, about 40 minutes. Basically I laid there and "cooked" - the knee got warm, as she said it would. Never hot. It felt a little tingly; not even remotely painful. She left me with a bell in case I needed her, soft music, the needles and my thoughts. She checked in every 10 minutes or so, and put some "Chinese herbal oil" around the needle sites at one point. At first, it was a little unnerving, and I found myself wondering if the electrodes could malfunction and fry me into a crispy critter - but eventually I relaxed and even dozed lightly. I kept sensing I was going to be a lot better when it was over, which I countered with, "don't expect too much". After she removed the needles, she applied herbal patches, a small heat pad, and then a sleeve that fits over the whole knee to stabilize it. It's fabric - firm but not heavy or immobilizing, just cozy and supporting.

Than the moment of truth... I sat up, stood up, and took a step. Another. No lie - I felt nothing. The pocket of tense swelling that had accumulated above the knee to one side had dissipated. No pain. Certainly delicate and tender, but entirely different from when I'd walked in. I was stunned. She said I'd benefit by coming a couple of times a week for a couple weeks, to which I readily agreed. It has stayed better since - the boggy sense of thickness and swelling is still gone 30 hours later. I've been staying off it some, but also able to do much more than I had been. This feels like a true miracle. I will go tomorrow after work, and plan to take pictures of the knee in its needled state (if my camera can be wrestled into functioning) which I'll definitely post.

The biggest gift is that this has turned around is my negative thinking. There is restored hope and optimism that I will return to my previous level of functioning, with time and care. I'd had acupuncture twice before from a different practitioner for vague low back pain, and while fine, rendered minimal relief. Perhaps the acute nature of the post op knee made it so receptive to treatment. Whatever - I'm so thankful, not just for feeling better, but for having the resources to seek out a complementary treatment modality like this. I know many folks couldn't afford this or have access to it - it's dumb luck that I can.

This also makes me aware of how reluctant conventional western medical practitioners are to advise or prescribe "alternative methods" of care. I can't wait to tell my orthopedic surgeon about how the acupuncture helped begin to turn this around for me.

Finally, my food has been off, but I haven't binged at all. It's just felt like too much to stay on track this week, which sounds ridiculous. It's true, though. The negative space in my head downgraded my ability to stay enthusiastic and motivated for weight loss while I was having to huff and puff and struggle to just go from the couch to the bathroom. I feel good that I've done no bingeing; also surprised. I haven't felt like bingeing - but I also haven't felt like following my pretty rigid plan. I will get on the scale Monday morning and plan to get back to the clean side of eating. We're going out to dinner tonight with my youngest son who returned from his semester in Buenos Aires last night. Great to see him - and we have 11 days before the other 2 kids get home. Further plan: still aim for the Christmas Challenge goal of hitting 188 by Dec. 26. I suspect I've put the goal out of reach with my less stringent eating this week, but it's worth going for it.

Sorry to go on and on. This is the same thing that happens if I don't share at an AA meeting for a week or so...when I finally start talking, it's hard to stop! Thanks again for the good wishes and thoughts - I feel held up and supported by them and all my friends who, for some reason, continue to hang in there with me!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Poor, poor pitiful me

Disclaimer: My post title is written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I'm really doing okay - but am sick and tired of being down for the count and not able to do what I want, when I want, how I want. Hence, poor moi. Self pity feels like shit.

It feels like forever since I've posted, though it's only been since Sunday. Long time for me who tends toward the "diarrhea of the mouth" brand of blogging. I've been blog reading and commenting a little, but generally I feel out of the loop, and I hate it. Just typing that makes me well up and start crying. In the general scheme of things having arthroscopic knee surgery is no biggie, but it's thrown me an emotional wallop where I'm impatient, irritable, hungry, and a complete and utter bitch. Ask my husband. (He'd never agree, but it's true.) I feel like a shrew. Oh - and a martyr, which is a newer category of being off the beam for me. I don't even know where to begin with writing today which must be why I'm going on and on about what a fill-in-the-blank mess I am. Might as well jump in.

Truth be told, I feel fine physically in every way other than my knee. It aches and feels stiff, thick, creaky. It doesn't look too swollen though it feels congested and boggy. It seems to be coming along fine. After rest, ice and elevation, it feels increasingly less afflicted. After I'm up for a couple of hours, it starts to get funky. Makes sense, I think. I go for my post op visit tomorrow at 11, and will get the whole scoop on what the doc found in the knee and what he did with it. I'll also find out if, or that, I'm progressing on an acceptable timetable. I was fully expecting to be essentially back to normal by now other than a little stiffness. Where I got this idea I don't know, because the doctor told me to plan on staying off work this entire week. Which brings me to an apt place to talk about my newest dysfunctional behavior...martyrdom.

4 weeks ago when I put in my request for the time off from last Friday through this entire week for the surgery, I felt a little guilty. After all, I'd just had 8 work days off in early November for the trip to the Dominican Republic. I'm the only nurse at my job and when I'm not there, it's harder for everyone to do their jobs. Other staff are trained to dispense medicines, but that's just one part of my job. All medical issues come through me, including simple first aid, evaluating concerns about our clients found by staff, emergencies, and so on. The knee injury came up unexpectedly, of course, but I still felt guilty about asking for yet more time off. No one made me feel that way - I signed on for it.

Today, even though I knew better, I decided to go into work, planning to just stay half the day to do meds and catch up on some stuff. It was a dumb idea motivated by me reading between the lines of a few phone conversations I'd had with co-workers over the last few days where it sounded like they were doing okay but would be re-e-e-ally glad when I came back. I went in and ended up totally overtaxing the knee. There is a looooong hall with a loooong ramp that I hobbled and limped up and down numerous times, which is nothing when I'm on my game. But I'm not there yet. We ended up having a 911 call (so glad I was there but they'd have dealt just fine if I wasn't), plus general busy-ness and mild chaos. Like everyday. I felt very annoyed that "they'd made me feel like I should return sooner than I was ready..." which is a load of crap. No one did that to me but me. WHY-Y-Y? So they'd think I was superwoman? All that happened was I practically had to be carted out in a wheelchair because the knee swelled a bit and felt like raw meat! I came home, took Ibuprofen, a Vicodan, slapped on 2 bags of ice and got horizontal to rest and elevate it. Two hours later if feels MUCH better.

I learned my lesson. I'm staying out the rest of the week and will continue to rehab it so it continues to heal. I may have set myself back a day or two with my stupid headstrong action.

Which brings me to patience - or lack of it in my case. I see what an activity junkie I am. I tend to flit from here to there - booking my days in 2 hour increments after work of meeting friends, shopping, going to meetings - just constantly on the move. This enforced downtime is making me crazy, yet I know it's what I need. I so often complain that I don't have enough down time; here when I do have it, sanctioned, even - I just want to fast forward through it.

Oh - and wait 'til you hear this...my friend Lisa, with the lung cancer, came over after work to bring ME flowers. She had to pick up some rx's for herself and do a couple of errands and decided to stop by and pay me a sick call! By the way - thanks to all of you for your kind words about her family and her situation. All offers of thoughts and prayers are graciously accepted. She's hanging in for now and feeling better after going on steroids for inflammation after having a gamma knife procedure to remove a metastatic lesion from her brain last week. Her other known metastatic sites are a hip bone and her spine for now, and the original lung lesion that is growing is causing rib pain. According to her, it's manageable for now. I fear it won't be for long. I'll keep you all posted on her status. It's surreal to see this happening to someone so healthy and vital.

Finally, my food has gotten a bit messy the last couple of days. No binges, but I'm eating more than I need, and making choices that I wouldn't if I was following my plan to the letter. It feels kind of crappish - but it started feeling like too much to keep to the letter with my food while negotiating my knee and my funky self-pitying mood. Can you believe I can even say this right after talking about what Lisa is going through? UGH. I'm trying to do the best I can, but falling short. When I went to work today, I think I was hoping for my usual good food routine to fall back into place. Instead, when one of the room supervisors brought me a piece of a cheesecake she'd made, I scarfed it eagerly and silently wished for more. Si-i-i-i-gh!

It feels good to know I'm about to send this tome out into the ether for perusal by others. I miss my daily doses of readin', writing' and commentin' that are part of my rhythm, and I need to re-enter and regroup. Consider it done. If I could write a title for the end of the post, it would be - "Feeling better for sharing"!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Somber Sunday

Sunday morning, and the knee recuperation is progressing, I guess. It isn't truly painful, but it feels tender, tight and quite delicate to walk on. The swelling is minimal, though internally it feels congested - that's part of the tightness I think. Yesterday I mostly laid low with the knee elevated and iced occasionally. By evening it was achy enough that I did resort to a Vicodan for discomfort. It helped, and definitely helped me sleep. I can also say that I perceived no buzz at all. Probably a good thing, but I feel a bit ripped off. What an f-ing addict I am. I woke up this morning with it feeling continually tight and stiff, though not really in pain. I went to my 7 a.m. AA meeting both days, and then breakfast with friends as usual. Then home for the laying low part of recuperating.

This is showing me what a freaking baby I am about the most minor of inconveniences. I haven't started decorating for Christmas, and before I do I have to clean. I was thinking I'd be okay to do this to some extent today, but see that I'm not. My discomfort today actually sent me to my pre-op instructions, which reminded me that keeping the knee snugly ace-wrapped and frequent icing would help with healing and inflammation. I'd removed the ace wrap the first night (which was fine) but never replaced it other than to secure ice packs yesterday. So I have it rewrapped, and will be religious about every 2 hour icing today. In the big picture, this is such small potatos and I feel bad whining about it. But I guess I can whine on my own blog. Feel free to run from this post at any moment.

The other thing I need to say is another confession. But not about bingeing! I've continued with my clean eating throughout this knee thing so far, which is huge for me. I'm really happy about it. The confession is that I said the other day that I wasn't going to get on the scale for a week. Well, I got on the morning of the surgery and was 192.2, which delighted me. The first evening home, a friend brought over some treats, and all I had was one lemon square from Wegman's that was no where near as good as the ones I make. It didn't trigger me at all; in fact I didn't finish it. Yesterday I was totally clean again so this morning I decided to hop back up on the scale, knowing how righteous I've been. And I'm talking totally clean. Well, I was 197. I immediately knew it has to do with fluid retention (feels like 90% of it is in my knee), anesthesia, whatever... but I was really irritated. I just need to say it here to unload it let it go. This is why I can't weight much - it can make or break my mood and what with being irritable, emotional and uncomfortable today, the scale reading just added to my funkiness.

I'm not going to overeat today. I won't. But this kind of scale murk has me thinking I should fast the rest of the day, or at least undereat. I know that's stupid and am not going to fall into that pit either. Disordered thinking at it's best...er, worst. Knowledge of the gain adds contention, confusion, scheming and conniving into my mental mix that I didn't need. And if I'd stuck to my "promise of not weighing until next Friday, I wouldn't have this to contend with. So often, my misery is of my own making.

One of my AA buds this morning reminded me that general anesthesia, even the 35 short minutes I was under, can play with our emotions and mental status for up to a week, at some level. As a nurse, I know that but tend to think that's a copout for me being totally off the beam. I'm being hard on myself for no reason. I know it in my head, but I can't turn it off. Whatever it all is, I know the answer is to follow my food plan that I've been doing for 6 days now (minus the 1/2 lemon square) and stay off the scale. Just do the next right thing, and it will all be okay and equilibrium will return over the next couple of days.

One of my dearest and closest friends is currently dying of cancer. She'd been doing well until 10 days ago when her routine every 3 month PET and CAT scan revealed many metastatic sites in the bones, spine and brain. (This started in her lung.) She never smoked and lives the cleanest healthiest life of anyone I know. She's been my AA sponsor since the beginning of my sobriety over 18 years ago. It's tearing me up, and I keep saying to myself that Lisa would give anything to have her worst problem be a knee healing from arthroscopic surgery. I guess her situation is also playing with my mood. I expect I'll be talking about her more in coming posts, as she's also a recovering food addict who's helped me and been available and true blue to me for all these years. Just the other day I was telling her that I was again beginning to weight and measure my food portions and tighten back up my food plan. And her response was, "great idea...when in doubt, weigh it out".

She has a 6 year old and and 11 year old. Her husband was at the meeting this morning and for the first time talked openly about her dying. It was gut-wrenching. She started new oral chemo on Thanksgiving that was to evidence quickly if it's working in the lessening of pain she's having. Her husband said this morning that her pain is worsening, along with a cough developing which is new. This is going to be fast, painful and ugly. I feel powerless to do much of anything but love her dearly as I do. My temporary inconveniences and discomforts really aren't that big a deal, even though they're real. It's okay for me to whine a little, but perspective is everything.

Thanks for letting me unload this stuff. I commit to a clean day of following my plan. I ask the universe for patience, tolerance, wisdom and serenity about my own stuff; and a peaceful path for my dear Lisa and her family.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Knee Renewed!

Very short post here (atypical, I know) to say that my knee surgery went fine and was a very good experience. The surgery center was great. Every person I encountered was professional, warm, kind, knowledgeable and competent. And as a nurse, I'm a tough critic of the medical profession, so that's saying something! I'm so-o-o-o glad it's over. It's all wrapped up, but I can take the ace bandage and dressings off tonight or in the morning, and then just put bandaids over the sites where the scope was inserted.

I'll be keeping it iced and elevated over the weekend, but also can walk on it within reason, including stairs. Not too bad at all! And it's still numb from the procedure, but I have a pain rx if necessary, and already took Ibuprofen so I may not even need the big drug. I'm still feeling a little loopy from anesthesia, which isn't unpleasant at all. A sanctioned buzz! Not much of that in my life anymore!

I intend to be a good patient and follow directions so that I have as easy and complete a recovery as possible. Some years back I might have decided to just be "business as usual" right away. Not happening - I'm taking care of myself so I don't screw things up. This is huge growth and progress for me.

Thanks for all the good wishes. I'm going to watch a bunch of movies this weekend and knit my brains out. Sanctioned chill-axin! Also good. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What a difference 3 days make

I'm now 3 days clean with my eating. Entirely clean. Feels great. My weight today was down 0.6 pounds from yesterday, to 194.9; and ridiculous as it sounds, I was irritated that it wasn't lower. Now Monday I was 201.4 after the Thanksgiving Binge of '09, so to be down 6.5 pounds is pretty drastic and due mostly to loss of retained fluids. But my audacity to want more tells me it's time to stop weighing. I'm clearly over the hump of getting back on track, and playing scale roulette is extremely dangerous for me. No more weighing until next Friday, the 11th. Scout's honor, cross my heart and hope to spit, as Beaver Cleaver used to say.

I'm feeling pumped about my journey again. I'm enthusiastic, inspired and truly optimistic that I'm not going to do it; I'm doing it. I want to get below 190 in the worst way now. Next big goal, and it fits in nicely with the 266's Christmas Challenge, where I've committed to weighing 188 by December 26. This past Monday it was seeming like a fading vision; today it feels crisp, clear and doable. It's going to happen if I have to lop of a leg, which I won't because I'm sticking to my food plan to the letter; so my limbs are safe from the lopper.

The Rockettes were great last night - wonderful show. I'd never seen them before and was truly amazed at what "precision dancing" really is. We had good seats directly in front of the stage, though up high and back. I'm putting up a few pictures that are the best my old crappy non-zooming low pixel camera could manage. (BTW, guess what I want for Christmas??)






This definitely made me want to go to Radio City Music Hall to see them on their home field, and preferably with a seat right up front. I'll probably need to work a second job for 6 months to afford it! Maybe next year.

My knee surgery is tomorrow, and I'm ready to get it done and start healing. I'll find out later today what time I have to be there - hopefully early in the day, as I'll be up by 4 a.m. regardless. My catastrophic mind wants to toss up scary ideas like, "What if I don't wake from the anesthesia", and other choice dismal scenarios. But I've learned to just say to the mind, "Thank you for sharing" and ignoring the nonsense. Actually I've been told this will likely take 30-45 minutes and is a routine and unremarkable procedure. That sounds good except when it's my wittle knee. But I'm optimistic and feel fortunate to have decent health insurance that enables me to do this.

Hope everyone has a great Thursday.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Doing better feels better!

Just a brief post today to check in. I had another excellent food day yesterday, as well as a 2 mile walk with a friend and our dogs. My knee reacted poorly to the walk - aching afterward to beat the band. It was bad enough that I iced it, which I should be doing all the time but when it's cold, it's hard to ice and makes me shiver at my timbers. I know I'll be icing it a lot after my miniscus repair Friday, so will have many blankets at the ready to keep me warm around the ice. In a way it's a good thing that the knee is being a bugger - makes me almost excited to get it fixed so I can get back to my usual activity level ASAP! I ran into an old friend this morning who told me he'd had a miniscus repair via arthroscopy, and it was no big deal. AND he said it will feel so much better in no time. I'm hanging on to that!

My weight was down again this morning, to 195.5. I knew the uber-gain that showed Monday was largely fluid and would disappear if I stopped ingesting half a candy counter every other hour. I think I'll weigh again tomorrow, and then revert to the once a week scale encounter. More often than that can send me back to eating according to the scale. I feel strong and committed right now to get on with the weight loss effort I started in June. I'm grateful for that, because the determination can slip away pretty easily if I lose my focus. I had so many good ideas and comments about committment, staying the course, warning me I was on dangerous ground...some things that were hard to hear but I needed to hear.

In particular, I've been thinking today a lot about Chris, from A Deliberate Life, who asked me what voice in my head was saying it was okay to binge the way I was doing? She advised just slamming the door on it - saying NO WAY. A simple idea, but somehow I heard it in a new way that makes me feel that the next time a binge wish wafts through my brain, I will have a concrete tool at my disposal - that being to say "Get the hell out of here! I'M NOT BINGEING!" I feel strong now about it - when in the trenches of food obsession, it won't be so easy. But I'm going to do this - I'm going to get below the 192 that's been my lowest reading so far.

I'm working on coming up with a vision of myself leaner - at goal. Up to now, I've been aware that I can't imagine myself anymore not being a large moosey woman. I didn't used to be large, fat and moosey, but it was so many years ago that my vision of my best self has gotten lost in layers of flesh and fat cells, images of myself in photos always being the fattest person, and the knowledge that I'm often the heaviest person in the room. (Maybe I need to move to other rooms.) So I've gone back to look at my wedding pictures and other photos where I was a normal size. An interesting note: when I got married I weighed 135 pounds at 5'9" tall. But for years prior, I'd been in the 115-118 range (too thin, from doing very disordered eating and purging, sigh), and I recall being so upset at my wedding that I'd gotten "so fat". Actually I was beside myself with shame - and when I look at the pictures now, my whole body looks tiny! Skinny arms, even. What useless suffering and self hate. Sad but true.

So I'm working on seeing myself lean, fit and healthy. I'm already pretty fit and healthy, so it isn't too much of a stretch to add in the pictures of my (albeit) younger self to help me have a real vision of my dream.

I'm going to see the Rockettes tonight - apparently a faction of them have taken the show on the road, and will be doing a Christmas extravaganza at the Wachovia Center here in Philly. Should be fun, and get me in the Christmas mood. I'll eat my weighed and measured dinner first, then leave the house by 6:15, and will be done with eating for the day. My hunger pangs of the last 2 nights have actually felt good - righteous even - and I expect more of the same tonight. But thanks to the extreme motivation and support from fellow bloggers, my determination, committment and focus have returned for the first time since probably September! From the ashes of the last binge seige rises hope and optimism. At least for today, and that's all I have, so it's good enough.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Courage to Change

Thank you all for so many great comments and suggestions to my post yesterday. The combination of processing through all that mental fodder, writing it out, and then reading so many amazing and helpful comments has renewed my hope that I can be successful at weight loss. Some stark realizations have come to me: 1) my defiant resistance to accepting the real nature my food addiction, 2) my refusal to adopt certain strategies that have helped me in the past...because they are rigid and therefore dysfunctional, 3) my fervent desire, even determination, to be normal about food and eating, and 4) that it's time for me to go to any length necessary to stop this bingeing. I think I'll talk about each of these a little.

First, I had an extremely clean day of eating yesterday, with lots of water intake (that had slacked off during my "lost weekend" (plus 4 days), and woke up this morning feeling SO MUCH BETTER. Head clear, residual remorse pretty much gone, and weight back to Onederland - 197.8. Better. But there is much to do.

There is a saying in AA that you can start your day over at any moment. This refers to cleaning up your negative thoughts and behaviors at any given moment more than to drinking, really. With alcohol, once a drink is on board, the day is almost a guaranteed loss. Doesn't have to be, but usually is. With eating though, it's really true. A bad breakfast (high carbs, sugary, whatever) doesn't negate the remains of the day if the remains are clean and sane and well chosen. Also true is that each new day brings the opportunity for getting back on the boat and staying there. Yesterday I got my sea legs back. I'm on the boat, and though it's early on and feels tenuous because of my recent (and ancient) history, I feel I can stay on the boat. I know that I want to. And I know if I keep doing what I've been doing, it won't happen. Another pithy phrase I picked up in AA: "If you keep doing what your doing, you'll keep getting what your getting." It's starting to feel like the only "thing" I have to change is every"thing".

Back to my numbered realizations - the first being that I am resistant to accept the true nature of my food addiction. I think this is classic DENIAL. Well, it has seeped in at a deeper level than ever before that I can deny my status all I want, but that doesn't take it away or negate it. It is what it is, and I got it. To keep refusing to accept it, or the seriousness of it (because I do believe that I have an addictive personality that carries over into food), I can't take any effective and sustainable action about it - because I'm pretending it doesn't exist in the way it does.

Well, between the comments yesterday, my all too familiar feelings of despair and hopelessness about my recurrent bingeing, and the recent lost weekend, I assert that I am not only aware of my food addiction...I accept it. In AA, acceptance is a big and frequent topic. Once when I was whining about something in my life that I hated at the time, a fellow member said to me, "Well you have to accept it. That doesn't mean you have to like it." I don't like it, but I accept it and I want to live freely even in the face of it. I know this is possible, because it's happened a thousand % for me about alcoholism. And my life has done a 180 turn as a result of accepting it, working with it, and getting better. Why wouldn't I believe this could happen with food?

Second realization is my refusal to adopt certain strategies that have worked in the past when I've given them a brief chance. This has to do with designing a food plan for myself, coming up with guidelines about what and when I eat, how, where, with whom - from which I don't vary at all. At least for the time being. My big gripe with 12 step eating programs (OA, FAA, FAIRA) is their absolute rigidity about every minute aspect of food and eating. Writing it all down, calling in your food to a sponsor everyday, on and on with rigidity that I found repressive and controlling. But guess what? When I did those things, they worked. I don't have to include all those tiny details, maybe; but maybe I can in the beginning and see how it goes. Everything can be subject to change over time, including this kind of eating plan.

I've waxed prolific about the dysfunction of rigidity in 12 step food programs. Sitting here being as honest as I can, I know my resistance and contempt for these tactics has because I want to lose weight, get slimmer and fit, without having to stop eating everything I want when I want to, without having to change the big things I clearly need to change. So I call "them" stupid and dysfunctional, and get fat all over again. It doesn't have to be that way. I am praying for my mind and heart to be more open to these strategies, because I know that for the brand of food addict I am, I'm going to have to employ them in order to get better.

My third realization relates to the first, so I don't need to say too much about it as it's obvious. I want to be normal. But I'm not. Bearfriend, at Friend of the Bear, has a wonderful post about this today - the normal vs. abnormal, at afriendofthebear.blogspot.com. Which essentially breaks down to inner peace vs. inner turmoil and chaos. If I carry on like I'm normal about food, I'm miserable, unhappy, antsy, and endlessly remorseful. If the food is relatively, no - rigidly laid out, the chaos will be lessened, and maybe eventually extinguished. Maybe it won't have to be like that forever, but it does today. It's a fantastic entry Bearfriend has written - check it out. Bottom line - acceptance that I'm not normal about food. That doesn't mean I have to suffer endlessly as a result.

Finally, it's time for me to become willing to go to any lengths to get better. I'm actually considering revisiting OA, at least for a meeting or 2. I have several friends who attend, so I don't even have to go alone if I don't want to. I'm not saying I'm going to join or attend regularly, but I'm going to give it a shot with a hopefully open mind.

Also, I am resuming a food plan given to me 2 1/2 years ago in another 12 step program (called Food Addicts in Recovery). I'm going to modify the plan because what I was using was for when I was 30 pounds heavier. The food plan worked but was extremely austere in selection and forbade bananas, corn, peas, all potatoes and dried beans. None of these foods flip by binge switch, so they are safe. I haven't written out my plan yet, but I will later today. I think it will also be helpful to have one person to whom I commit the food each day, just for a bit. Another good reason to check out OA.

I'm going to plan my meals ahead, have them written down, and check off items as I eat them throughout the day.

Lastly (for now) I'm reconnecting with my therapist with whom I've terminated but see occasionally for a tune-up. Maybe I'll set up appts every 2 weeks or so. I can always do more if necessary.

I've written out goals before on this blog and have basically forgotten them after day one. I am committing and giving my word that I am going to follow through with these and be accountable - briefly I promise - each day. Even if only a couple of sentences per post. If I don't, feel free to call me on it. There are more specifics for me to ponder, many based on suggestions from yesterday's comments. But I've gone on long enough. This is a start. I feel calmer just having a meal plan for this day that so far I've stuck with. Thank you everyone for calling it like you see it with me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Anti-progress or Fear of Success?

"Overdue Business Part 2 - the second award", will have to wait until tomorrow because I have other fish to fry here today. God, is there no end my food metaphors!? Maybe my eating/bingeing defect really is an entity physically embedded in my brain, given how everything I say seems to contain ladles full of food words! See? There it is again.

I got on the scale this morning to survey the damage sustained by my body during the 6 day trip to Chicago that was peppered with several binge days, 2 clean food days, and one marginal food day. I expected it to be bad. I even told myself I may have lapsed back into the land of 2s - hundreds that is, but didn't really think it possible, as I was 193.7 the morning of the day we left. But I was preparing myself for a worst that was surely impossible, so when the number was bad, (but not THAT bad), I'd be relieved. Does that make sense? Well, hold onto your hats...

Here it is: 201.4. I've had been in onederland since... (long trip back through my archive to discover when it was I officially left the 2s "for the last time")late August. Boy, the reality of my situation is unfolding for me as I sit here typing. Not just for this return to the larger century (which I expect will turn around overnight or in 2 days at most if I keep on track now), but also the jolt that though I have been 192 at the lowest, for most of the 3 months since dipping into onederland I've been between 195 and 198. So this reflects virtually no real progress. No continued movement in the right direction. A lengthy plateau clumsily crafted by repeated bingeing, or on my better "bad" days, simple overeating. Bottom line - what the fu*k am I doing?

I've glibly posted about the self-designed plateau many times, always determining to blast through with steely determination and hard work. But when it comes to those attributes, I've missed the boat. Hell, I haven't gotten to the pier. Please don't tell me to not beat myself up about this. I'm not beating myself up. I'm facing the stark reality that when it comes to enduring the uncomfortableness of food obsession and compulsion when it hits, I cave about 3/5 of the time, or 3-4 days a week on average. My brief dips into the lower 190s that happen when I have just a few sane consecutive days clearly illustrate that I CAN lose weight. My body performs well in this realm, when given the chance.

I saw a comment Vickie (from Baby Steps V) wrote today on Diane's (Fit To The Finish) blog about 3 questions she asks herself when moving through the world trying to eat and live sanely with food: 1)"What do I mean to be doing?" 2)"What am I doing?" 3)"Is it working?" These are fantastic questions, and what comes to mind is that what I am doing works when I work it. But I have to work it, do it, stay the course every day. Not 3-4 days a week. In AA literature there is a statement, "Half measures avail us nothing." Damn straight, and the textbook object lesson of that statement is evident in reviewing my status since late August. Half measures = no, or at best, marginal results.

I freaking want to stop this bullshitting around. Right now I want to stop it. I won't have a food obsession today most likely, and if I do I know I can get through it because of what the scale revealed to me today. But that pattern of eating to the scale has plagued me, and been written about a lot by me, for months. I have to stop it. I want to stop it. The harsh scale reading calls me to determination and strength of purpose today. But a couple days in, the scale goes back to acceptable territory and I start getting fuzzy again about what I really want. To be lean and healthy, or the Tastykakes that are screaming out to me from the grocery shelf. WHY??!! I truly don't feel I have deep dark pathologic secrets buried within that make me psychologically unable to persevere through tough food obsessed days. But I can't seem to do it over the long haul. At least not yet. I'm sick of confessing this shit over and over and then doing the same things over and over, necessitating more confessing...what an ugly and scary conundrum in which I find myself - again.

Is if fear of success? Fear of the unknown? Weak will? How many times have I asked myself these questions on this blog? I feel like the poster child for "DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU". I HAVE gotten through tough food-obsessed days. Why not every tough day? I really wonder about my motivation and determination. When I read other blogs, it seems other folks are doing this, and with gusto. With excitement and enthusiasm that sustains over the long haul. Longer than over the 2 days it takes to knock off a few pounds from the last "episode".

I'm up for suggestions or even tough, mean love. Or tough mean like, if you don't know me that well. What am I missing here? Referring back to Diane's blog again today (Fit To The Finish)(http://www.fittothefinish.com/blog/2009/11/how-did-you-decide), she writes about "How did you decide"...regarding not just what plan to use, what program, or book, or method, or brand of elliptical trainer, but also how did you decide to finally do it? Lose the weight. Once and for all. And stick with it. Maybe I haven't done that yet. I feel like I have, but when I decide to eat 2 scones from Starbucks and a grande pumpkin latte in one sitting (in the car on this recent trip), where only my husband is there to notice, though if he does he doesn't say anything, being the good Alanon-er he is), fully aware that I'm choosing to go "out of control" for the rest of the day; I have to think that I really haven't "decided".

For the 17 trillionth time, I'm saying this is it. Today is the first day of the rest of my better self who acts on her own behalf and always with her well-being at the forefront of all decisions and actions. I want it now. I'm just starting to wonder if I want it later.

Sorry for another ever so slightly toxic brain elimination. One thing for sure, I feel humbled by my seeming powerlessness about this, even though my heart of hearts is crying out to me that I'm not powerless. And I'm humbled by all of you who are doing it each day, and bouncing back after backslides. I guess in that sense, I'm doing it too; but it seems I'm backsliding way more than stepping ahead. So I must keep my focus on this day only. No despairing thoughts to the food laden month ahead. My AA sponsor says to me that even Christmas is just another day. Of course it is, so why self destruct for the entire month, and beyond. Each day is just another "one day at a time", and will bring unknown delights and struggles. Victories and defeats. Disappointments and happy surprises. And sometimes just mundane work-a-day stuff.

Once again I say, Heaven help me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Overdue business! Part 1

We're home after a 15 - you heard me - 15 HOUR drive from Chicago to Philly in post holiday traffic. 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The first 9 hours were a breeze - no traffic, nice conversation with hubby, some reading, knitting and listening to Shanghai Girls on CD (which is great so far!). Hubby definitely humored me with this particular book on CD, which I'd already started listening to before the trip. Anyway, things on the highway went slowly downhill (figuratively ONLY!) once we hit the PA turnpike, which was an essential parking lot for several hours, and midway through traversing the parking lot portion of the drive, the dog threw up in the car! Total groan and ugh. At least we had pulled into a service plaza, so were able to exact paper towels and extra water for cleaning up as best we could. Eventually the highway logjam opened up, and the last 2 hours were smooth sailing. We ate what I prepared, plus a few extra things like some pretzels and string cheese I got at a rest stop. Again, I thank Vickie at Baby steps V for the suggestion to prepare ahead. I feel so much better after the trip home than I did after the trip there! I'm glad to be home and feel ready and enthusiastic to resume my best weight loss efforts.

Over the last month, 3 different bloggers gave me awards (2 for the same one), and I've been very lax in addressing these awards, passing them on, and expressing my gratitude.

The first was given to me by Lori-ann at Amazon Runner, and Katie J at Katie J Is On Her Way, and is this:

I'm so grateful to Lori-ann and Katie J for including me as a recipient of this award. As best I can tell, it is for those who love to craft the written word in blog form; in other words, most of us who scribble our thoughts and words and hearts out in our respective cubicles of blogland. It is with pleasure that I describe it and pass it on to other deserving bloggers. Here are the rules:

Each recipient must pass the award on to five other deserving bloggers.

Each Superior Scribbler must link back to the author and the name of the blog from whom they received the award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display the award on his or her blog, and link to http://scholastic-scribe.blogspot.com/2008/10/200-this-blings-for-you.html, which explains the award.

Each blogger who wins the Superior Scribbler award must visit the page noted above and add his or her name to the Mr Linky List. That way, the originator of the award will be able to keep track of everyone who receives it.

And finally, each superior scribbler must post these rules on his or her blog.

I'd like to pass this award to:

Bethany at The Great Reduction
Jodie at The Overweight Life
Karen at Mom,Me and Alzheimers
Vickie at Baby Steps V
Tammy at From Fat to Fab

I try to read a ton of blogs, and all I read are inspiring and heartfelt. I always feel everyone who's blog has helped me even one little time, in other words, virtually every one I read, deserves an award. Please feel free to retrieve this for your own if you're not a recipient. I also tried to give it to those who don't already have it!

It's now 11 p.m. and I'm bushed, so the second award will have to wait for tomorrow. It's wonderful to be home after a lovely visit with one of our sons. And it's wonderful to anticipate getting cracking on 266's Christmas Challenge for which I signed on. Monday, bring it on. I'm ready and determined to have a good week.