Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fat Girl Gardening Probs

Ok, so I’m pretty sure I might join a gym.  That sounds awfully non-committal, doesn’t it?  Well, that’s how I feel about it.  After my train-wreck doctor’s appointment a couple weeks ago…..ok, it really wasn’t that bad…..I’ve been putting in effort to at least put some thought into being healthier.  Phew, that was hard to say.  I know, really ambiguous language with a lot of qualifiers, but I’m putting it out there on the interwebs….so I must be serious, right??  The results of the doc visit are in and I have arthritis in my right shoulder and both knees (no real surprise there at my size).  As much as I put up a stink in my last post, I really do get that my weight has a bearing on the pain in my knees….ha, see what I did there….bearing on….oh, never mind.  Anyway, I ordered up some joint juice (A.K.A., liquid glucosamine chondroitin supplement) because it certainly can’t hurt.  Resumed taking my metformin religiously along with all of the other supplements I’m supposed to be taking.  Those include fish oil (I opt for Krill oil cuz I’m a high roller – not really), a multi-vitamin and 5,000 IU of Vitamin D.  Well, the blood tests revealed that, once again, my Vit D levels are in the toilet so the good doc put me on a 12 week course of a Vit D mega-dose.  I also have low levels of some of the B’s so I have added a B Complex supplement.

With all that out of the way, I had some time off work scheduled for the holiday and found myself in pretty good spirits on Thursday morning when I woke up.  My knees felt pretty damn good.  I wasn’t sure why there was a sudden reprieve from the pain but I wanted to take advantage of it.  I called Mom and invited her to join me in a day of landscape shopping, lunch and gardening good times.  We ventured to Steins Garden Center, where I picked up some mulch, a new hydrangea bush and a selection of six veggie plants.  It was a beautiful day out, mild temps and sunny skies.  I donned my best gardening t-shirt (white, go figure, but I made it through the whole day without any stains!) and got to work while Mom kept me company and minded the dog, who was being uncharacteristically well behaved (mostly).
Whaddya mean, mostly.....
I tackled the front by pulling the weeds, laying the black plastic weed barrier, spreading the mulch and planting the new hydrangea bush.  We took a break and I treated Mom to her very first Subway sandwich, which we brought home to eat.  After lunch, Mom decided she had had enough of my company and left for home.  I was a bit spent but after sitting on the couch for a few minutes, I decided to go out back and at least survey the area alongside the garage earmarked for my mini-veggie garden.  After standing there and looking at the plot, I decided now was better than later, broke out the rototiller and got to work once again.  More black plastic, some inexpensive wire fencing and using a serving spoon, I planted one plant each of golden bell peppers, sunburst orange bell peppers, sweet 100 tomatoes, sugary tomatoes, burpless cucumbers and pickle cucumbers.
Can't wait to start pickin'!
I set up the sprinkler, went in the house and plunked onto the couch.  Once again, the outdoors distracted me.  As I peered out the front window, I knew that the front lawn needed to be mowed.  Yes, just the front….long story that involves the boy, the lawn mower and an ill-placed water access pipe.  So, I got my fat ass up off the couch, again, and mowed my front lawn.  All in all, a very productive day and, although I felt physically exhausted, I had relatively little pain.  Until the next morning.

I woke up nice and early again despite having the day off work…again.  I smiled to myself as I reached over and ruffled the cat’s fur.  That smile quickly dissipated when I made my first attempt at getting out of bed.  Oh.My.GAWD!  Everything hurt like a son of a bitch.  My back, my legs, my neck….and not just my knees, my calves, feet and thighs BURNED!!  A week later and the back is fine and my chubby little feet have mostly recovered but my damn legs just can’t seem to put themselves back together again.  I’m pretty sure that if I could live my entire life in a full and upright standing position, I’d be pain free, because it's after laying or sitting that's the worst.  Yeah, good luck with that, right?

So that brings me back to my qualifier-filled, non-committal statement about the gym.  I want to be able to garden.  I don’t mind mowing the lawn.  I think I would enjoy walking the dog almost as much as she would enjoy being walked.  But all of that currently comes with the high price of pain the following day.  I’m afraid that if I decided to get a little beginner’s activity by taking the dog for a walk on a beautiful day like today, that I wouldn’t know my own limitation, get too far from home and have to  barter with the dog to allow me to ride her home like a small horse.  Alright, I know that’s impossible, she has far too much false pride to ever allow someone to ride on her back.  And then I’d be stranded, with the dog mocking me, and I’d have to call someone to pick me up and drive me the two or three blocks back home while I sit silently in my shame.  Seriously, I have that little faith in my current physical fitness that I fear I couldn’t walk a block away from my house and have the energy to walk back.  Hence the thought of maybe, possibly joining a gym.  That way, if I hit my wall, all I have to do is climb down off the treadmill or elliptical, steady myself and crawl to my car.

I really do want more for myself.  I would love to participate in the Color Run….or, better yet, the Dirty Girl Mud Run…how awesome would that be!?  But I am all too aware that at my current fitness level, both are far beyond my abilities.  But I still have the desire.  I would also love to be able to go on vacation, I mean a real vacation, save the money, book the trip and just – go – without having a freaking panic attack when I think about getting on an airplane because I don’t want to re-enact the shame-fest that was Southwest vs. Kevin Smith back in 2011 (I love you, Kevin Smith, you’re awesome!).  Or how about just getting in the car, driving a couple of hours to Six Flags and getting on a goddamned roller coaster (not to mention all of the walking around the amusement park itself).

If I’ve learned anything in all of my recent body love and “fat culture” reading it’s that I do love myself.  I’m trying to learn how to stop feeling like I have somehow failed myself by getting so fat.  Somewhere, in my brain, I know that there is the drive to make the positive changes to improve my physical fitness.  I just have to find the right formula of goals and self-motivation.  And I don’t want you thinking that it’s about looking good.  I mean, everyone wants to look good, I get it.  But I don’t think that I look bad the way I am now.  I just want to be able to do things!  Like, whatever I feel like I want to do, I want to be able to do it.  Thinking about it in very dire terms, if I woke up tomorrow to a zombie apocalypse, I would most certainly die.  First of all, I can’t outrun the zombies…oh yeah, these are the super-scary fast running zombies a la the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.  Second, I’m much too big to be able to fit through those tight places to get the good hiding spots, I’d be all out there in the open.  And finally, no one would want me on their survival team.  Yeah, I’m smart but I’d be dead weight, they’d always be rolling their eyes and sighing loudly, perpetually waiting for me to catch up…oh, wait, never mind, I just got taken out by a horde of aggressive undead, it’s ok, you guys go on ahead.

But seriously, if a natural disaster or other emergency happened, how the hell am I going to ensure my survival?  I can’t climb through a window if my house caught fire.  If I got into a car accident, it would take more than one bystander to pull me from my burning vehicle because lord knows that I couldn’t wriggle out of that tight space myself.  So, I guess it’s more than me wanting to just do stuff, it’s now a safety issue (uncomfortable laughter).

Well, it’s Thursday and I have the next three days off.  I have some house work to do and the lawn needs to be mowed, again.  Seriously, does that shit ever stop growing?  So, I have plenty of time to find more excuses to not join the…..wait, where was I going with this?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Having a Post-Doctor-Visit Existential Crisis

So after putting it off for a number of months, I finally gave in and made an appointment to see my doctor.  I was supposed to see her in March for a routine follow up and blood pressure check....she insists that I have high blood pressure when my typical in-office reading had been 178-ish/85-ish and put me on Lisinopril about a year ago.  She wanted my bottom number under 60, which from what I read after the fact, is really a pretty extreme goal.  Nonetheless, I took it, faithfully, for six months, even investing in an at-home monitor but when my home readings were averaging 90/53, I made the decision to stop taking the pills.  On a side note, I am also on a Qvar inhaler for asthma (Albuterol, too, if I need it), which was diagnosed after a particularly resistant bout of pneumonia two and a half years ago (also revealing several lung nodules).  I also take Metformin as an off-label treatment for the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome I was diagnosed with two years ago.  After the surgery last November to remove my right ovary, it's cyst and the fallopian tube, my cycle has been pretty regular, even during the three months I stopped taking the Metformin....but being the guilty patient, I resumed taking it.

Fast forward to the lengthy recovery time after the laparoscopic surgery, I was still bloated most of the time and within a few weeks of the surgery, I started having joint pains.  It began mostly in my knees, sometimes my ankles.  I asked my surgeon about it at my six week check up but she said she had never heard of anything like that after the type of surgery I had and dismissed it as weight related.  I had almost a full prescription left over of 600 mg ibuprofen from the surgery so I started taking one here and there and before I knew it, I found myself grateful that I was given one refill.  Then about a month ago, in addition to the knee pain (and grinding....which, by the way, is the worst after sitting or laying down and gets better as I walk), I started having pain in my right collarbone.  Weird, right?  Well, to back-pedal a bit, around the same time I was given the PCOS diagnosis, after a battery of tests, I was also informed that I have a mass on my adrenal gland and arthritis in my neck which, at the time, was causing some pain and numbness in my left shoulder, elbow and hand.  Did six weeks of physical therapy (ran up quite the medical debt in the process) and to this day, I still do those stretches every day.  So when the collarbone pain started, then slowly crept around the back of my shoulder, up the side of my neck and into my jaw, I decided it was time to see the doc.

I have a pretty good working relationship with my doctor.  She is usually very personable, compassionate and takes time to listen and work with me and my crappy insurance, sometimes opting for a more conservative diagnostic approach to save me money.  She has always been an advocate for weight loss....what doctor isn't?  A few years ago I had all but scheduled Roux-En-Y gastric bypass surgery, with her as my biggest supporter, until I found out that I had originally been misinformed when I was told that surgery of that nature would be covered provided my case met specific medical guidelines.....turns out my insurance changed it's policy on weight loss surgery within the last five years and it will never....never....cover weight loss surgery.  And since I'm not independently wealthy and uncomfortable taking on a new debt of that magnitude, I cancelled all of the prep appointments and broke the news to my doctor.  She offered a prescription for Phentermine (the non-banned half of Fen-Phen from the 90's), saying that it may just be the "tool" I need to get my "jump start".  I reluctantly agreed, had the script filled and started taking them.  They did work, my appetite was significantly reduced and I began losing weight.  The whole reason I was opposed to the pills to begin with is because I knew that they are not intended for long term use.  She said that she has had some patients that took them for as long as six months but that was about as long as she was comfortable with.  I didn't want to lose weight using this "crutch" which I knew would not be a long term solution.  The whole draw of the Roux-En-Y was the drastic nature of the surgery, knowing a common side effect was to become physically ill if too much food was consumed or even foods that are too rich.  I have a personal issue with vomiting, but I'll save that for another time....but because of that possibility, I knew that having that surgery would cause the constant threat of possible vomiting to curb my habits immediately and permanently.  Maybe I was fooling myself, I guess I'll never know.  Anyway, I stopped taking the Phentermine after four months and a loss of 48 pounds.  I did it as a test, to see if it truly was a "jump start" as she called it.  As I suspected, within a week, I was back to my old eating habits and on my way to gaining most of that weight back.

So, fast forward again, back to today's visit with the doc.  Can a fat girl ever have aches and pains without the cause automatically being her weight?  Look, I'm not na├»ve, I know that my weight has a bearing the quality of my life and consequences on my health.  I know that if I dropped even 10% of my current weight, I would have an easier time going up and down stairs.  But what I take issue with is the statement she made to me today toward the close of my appointment, "Look, I don't want to sound all, you know, and I never push you really hard but, I strongly feel that if you could lose the weight, that would resolve most of your health problems...your high blood pressure, your knee pain, your fatigue."  It was at that point that I really regretted not coming clean about having stopped taking the Lisinopril because she applauded my blood pressure reading of 122/78 but I was too chicken to tell her that I wasn't taking it anymore.  She then started in on the weight loss surgery and would joining a weight loss support group help....but at that point, all I was hearing was blah, blah, blah, fat is baaaad.  So I put on my passive-agressive smile, reminded her that support groups are out of the question because I don't like people (no offense, people, it's just a thing I like to say), agreed to look into doing "something" and went on my merry way to have seven vials of blood drawn and a series of a half a dozen x-rays taken (you know, just in case it isn't all because I'm fat).

After all that business, I got in my car and went to get a haircut.  From the time my favorite x-ray tech dropped her jaw and unleashed a multitude of her own pent up fat girl anger when I told her that the doc said my knees hurt because I was fat (I did clarify to her that those weren't the doc's exact words) right up to the minute I decided to blog about this I have been going through internal turmoil.  Over the past several months, I have read so much about body acceptance which brought me to that place where I cared about how I looked when leaving the house.  I was starting to feel good about being me, who am I now, what I look like now.  And in just under a half an hour, my doctor shooed a big part of that reemerged self back under the bed.  I will still make my efforts with the hair and the makeup and the clothes because I do feel better when I do that stuff....but inside, I'm back to that person who is convinced that everything in my life would be unicorns farting rainbows if I could just.lose.weight.

I am questioning everything now.  Was it a coincidence that my blood pressure was so good today?  Is my now-regular cycle a short-lived fluke?  Do I have arthritis in my neck because my head is fat and my shoulder hurts because of the girth of my arm?  Seriously, why am I allowing a medical professional to bully me into this place again?  This is some bullshit....but here I am.  Wondering how I'm going to budget in all the fresh fruit and veggies I'm going to need to start my juice fast.  Hell, it was like my brain had a premonition because as soon as I made the appointment earlier this week, I went on Amazon and bought some BSN Lean Dessert Protein Powder and a new Blender Ball cup.....seriously, at the time, it was under the guise of "I just want some 'food alternatives' during my work days".....really?

Whatever.....I guess whatever happens from here happens.  I don't know what I want to do or how I want to do whatever it is I decide to do.  All I know is that I'm terribly sorry that I gave in and saw the doctor, I was much happier before in spite of the pain.