osodecanela: (cam capture)
I awoke this morning with a knife in my ass. At least that what it feels like.

I have a history of my right SI joint tweaking out of position. When it does, it just aches and is worse in certain positions. Sitting is not something I'm enjoying right now. I'm not as bad as I was this morning when I got out of bed and immediately, had to sit right back down. I've had a hot shower, and a couple of tabs of Norco left over from dental surgery I had last year, and while I hurt, especially to sit or bend over, I feel better than I did this morning. Now I'm just cranky. I'm hoping I'll be able to stretch out later and coach my husband into trying to stretch me into a pose where the joint might reduce back into place. Any of you who've ever met him, are probably smiling at this thought; he's half my size. I've been known to introduce him as my better third. The Osteopath I used to see, who'd put this joint back into place when this happened has retired (ironically due to repetitive motion injuries to his hands - go figure), and my two friends who're CMT's are not available to do the kind of massage that might make me pliable enough that this will reduce back into place.

Once I was mobile, I went to the kitchen to get the beans out of the soaking water and into the crock pot. Hobbling around the kitchen, I climbed the step ladder to get the crock pot down, browned the chunk of uncured pork butt to get into the crock along with it, toasted then ground the cumin seed, sauteed two chopped onions to get into the crock along with every thing and finally left it all to bubble away for 8 hours for dinner tonight. Spent almost an hour getting everything together; it all took me longer because of the blasted knife in my butt.

Well, I just got home from running a bunch of errands this morning and early this afternoon, and walked into the kitchen to check on and stir the beans. They were raw and ice cold. WTF?!?

The kitchen island does not have power running to it. We ran a permanently placed, surge protected extension cord to the wall next to the island and that was what the crock pot was plugged in. There is a lighted on/off switch on the extension cord and while I had turned it on this morning and the crock was hot before I left, someone had switched it off thereafter. My husband is notorious for shutting this particular switch off and on one of his trips through the kitchen this morning, it's exactly what he did. He doesn't remember doing it, but I have had him do it to me while I have been standing there in the kitchen in the past. He reminds me at times of my father (he should rest in peace) who routinely walked through the house turning off lights in empty rooms throughout my childhood.

I just exploded. I'm hurting and cranky and not really wanting to go out again today, nor do I feel like making something else for dinner tonight. He doesn't cook. He doesn't know how. Moreover, I'm not feeling particularly social and given how much I'm hurting, not feeling like I want to go anywhere. As someone with celiac disease, I wind up having to watch what's put in front of me with care or I'll pay for it. Last night at dinner, I asked if the soup was safe for me - this is a local place we eat at frequently and generally they're appropriately careful with what they put in front of me. It was busy there last night and my soup came to the table adorned with a couple of packages of crackers. At least they were on the side of the plate rather than already on top of the soup, so I was able to hand them back to the server, who immediately apologized, for bringing them out. At the moment, I'm not feeling like I want to look over somebody's shoulder to ensure my own safety.
osodecanela: (cam capture)
Saturday I was rounding at the hospital, two patients in house, both sadly on the oncology unit. The younger of the two is 6 months my junior and not doing well. I always have to steel myself when heading into the heme/onc unit. Such a high percentage of these folks do poorly and being there for them takes an emotional toll on me. It's something I'm quite willing to do, but if it were a steady diet for me, without the joy of welcoming new life that OB brings me, or the nurturance of doing pediatrics, I would not survive this field.

I spotted a colleague, a vascular surgeon I really like and respect, I needed to check in with. We have a mutual patient, one of my 'problem children' (a woman as non-compliant as the day is long, who's son is an enabler - go figure) I needed to touch base with him about. He was talking with a 3rd colleague, a well respected and very well liked woman in our medical community. Quietly, I waited for them to finish, not wanting to interrupt. When she turned to leave, she seemed a bit more gaunt and angular than usual.

The surgeon turned to me looking sad and rather misty. Our colleague looked more gaunt, because she is. She's just started her second round of chemo, diagnosed 2 weeks ago with a malignancy that's already spread. I was shocked by the news. A few moments into our conversation, he looked to me and said, "Geez, please tell me that with all the weight you're losing, you're OK. I don't want to hear any more bad news today."

I shook my head. "No Doug, I'm fine. This weight loss is one I'm working real hard for." We'd talked about my celiac diagnosis and all that I'm doing with diet and exercise, over lunch a couple of months back. He'd noticed at Thanksgiving time there was seriously less of me. That was 25 lbs ago.

I saw my own doc this morning in follow up of my recent labs and a check in on my progress going down the scale. I told her about our colleague and as the tears started rolling down her cheeks with the news, I finally was able to find my own. I'd felt numb since Saturday, unable to really wrap myself around the emotion. The news is so unnerving and hits too close to home. Reality is sometimes we have no clear cause for something so horrid to happen to someone. Sometimes with no risk factors, crap like this just happens. Why so often it's to someone so nice, and so kind and giving makes it even harder to deal with. My doc and I were just shaking our heads. I asked openly, "It's just so unfair. Why the hell does it always seem to be someone so good and kind, instead of someone difficult," to which she countered, "you mean like so-&-so? (naming another doc in our community who can be rather caustic) You took the words out of my mouth." Then we laughed, the pain at bay for a moment.

It's way to soon for us to mourn and bury her. It's time now to pray and to support her in the battle that's to come.
osodecanela: (cam capture)
Alright, today is going to be a day to baby the ankle. It did not like the walk from yesterday and its complaining. I'll skip the gym workout I'd planned for later in favor of just soaking it in the hot tub. It was very stiff and sore first thing this morning and is only just now loosening up and quieting down.

Looks like it'll also be a good day to get some weights in while I'm there. Hopefully, it will be happier tomorrow and I can get back on the elliptical in the morning.
osodecanela: (cam capture)
Somehow, I'm not surprised most of the time who notices that there's less of me. More often than not it's a diabetic, or someone else who's struggling with their own weight. Folks who don't have a weight problem often look at me and think, "now what's different?" I can't tell you how many times I've been asked when I cut my hair or if I just trimmed my beard. (For the record I haven't cut my hair since 1992, and I always trim my beard down to 1 inch in length at least once a month, if not twice.)

No fewer than 10 patients today commented to me about my weight, or rather my weight loss. Most were surprised having not seen me in the last three months. Today marks three months since I started. The statistics? I've dropped 52 pounds, 8 inches off of my waist, 3 suit sizes, 4 pants sizes, & 2 shirt sizes. By my calculations, I've run 170 miles in that time, and probably walked in equal amount.

I am not hungry all the time. I have said this to people, and more often than not, they stare at me in disbelief. "How can you not be hungry?" I would think I would know if I were particularly hungry. So many have made comments to me about my willpower. I honestly don't think it's particularly strong.

I'm simply faced with choices. I can live without my arthritis & my psoriasis, or I can eat wheat. That one's a no-brainer. Now that I understand the connection between the two, it's no struggle to make that choice. Staying off of the wheat reinforces my choice to stay low-carb as well, and with exercising, I'm losing significant amounts of weight. I feel better. That one's also a no-brainer for me. It's not a matter of willpower, it's a matter of how I want to live and what I want out of life.

My Doc was right. I didn't give up wheat; I've been liberated from it. There's no cold turkey for me. There are no white knuckles here. I have been asked by a fair number of people if I miss certain foods & my honest answer is, "not really". For a man who never met a slice of bread he didn't like, this is a C-note change. Like I said, I can live without my arthritis & my psoriasis, or I can eat wheat.
osodecanela: (cam capture)
Good news - I just crossed the 30 lbs mark, 11 since I last saw her 2 weeks ago. Would appear the first plateau I hit was relatively short lived.

Bad news - left ankle is flaring up from overuse. Not the inflammatory arthritis, but more from walking too much on a previously damaged joint. I did do a 5 mile run on the elliptical on Saturday, plus two hikes of 3 and 1.5 miles on Wednesday last.

We talked about the changes in life and what active choices I'm making. I shared that I'm taking the stairs up at the hospital, but the elevator down. I'm concerned about not taxing the left ankle by stepping down on it too hard coming down the stairs. She countered about increasing the use of my right quad to cushion the ankle going down. I cross countered I had increased the incline on the elliptical to provide more resistance and build the quads more for just that reason. (That part of the interchange almost felt like fencing.)

I'm open to telling her what I'm not enjoying and what I have to force myself to do. Love the elliptical. Don't love lifting weights and resistance training for the upper body. Have gone swimming, and I suck at doing laps. (She of course pointed out that my ankle will love the water.) I almost went into the Zumba class at the gym on Saturday when I got there, but not knowing it was going on, I got there 10 minutes after it started. I watched for a few minutes and decided to hit the elliptical instead, as the room was PACKED. Maybe next week. IF the ankle isn't still complaining. It doesn't seem to bother me much after the elliptical. Walking on open ground seems to be harder on it after the second mile. I'm also not liking walking out where we live, due to the footing. The roads are not well paved and paths are often very steep, and being that it's rural, street lighting is minimal after dark. I worry about falling or twisting an ankle and given my childhood klutz factor, I did that way to often as a kid/teen, not to mention that I've fractured each ankle once during my mid 20's (the first one dancing at my sister's wedding and the other three weeks later trying to maneuver down a flight of stairs in a cast and crutches, at LJ's old apartment buidling.) (Did I mention I'm the reason south-paws are thought to be accident prone?)

My cardiac conditioning is surprising both of us. My resting heart rate is now in the mid 50's again, which is were it was in college and med school when I was bike commuting.

It's way too early for me to be thinking about how it will feel when my avoirdupois is gone, to wonder what I will look like and what it will be like to be an average sized person in society, but there have been moments where it feels that someday in the next couple of years, that will be a reality for me. It's beginning to feel tangible.

I have packed up some of the clothing that has gotten too large for me to wear. No, its not freakishly large on me, but why wear something too large when I have appropriately sized things hanging in the closet? It reaffirms the positive changes. Further, boxing up the large stuff frees up room for me to see what is appropriate for me to wear. However, I'm not yet in a place, where I'm ready to get rid of it. Why?

Fear.

My testing for celiac disease was negative. Not everyone tests positive. After going onto the gluten free diet, testing should revert to negative after a while, although the month between when I got rid of the wheat and when I tested would be shorter than typical. I've had remissions of my arthritis before, though never both the arthritis AND my psoriasis simultaneously. If I go another 6 months with no flare of the arthritis or my psoriatic skin disease, I think I'll be more trusting that this is my new normal. Until then, I have plenty of room in the garage for boxes of large clothing.

Besides, I have 1/2 dozen unopened shirts that are now too big for me. Time to think about eBay. Well, maybe in the spring. After all, they are light weight shirts.
osodecanela: (cam capture)
I'm so loving this.

Today marks two full weeks completely wheat free. I walk without pain most of the time. My hands are working with no trouble. No longer am I having to deal with red, swollen, tender, hot joints in either my hands, feet, wrists and most importantly, my ankles. I have my moments where there's some discomfort from challenging my ligaments, but they're fleeting and controlled by my morning Celebrex.

And I'm no longer constantly scratching my head because of the psoriasis. It's a fraction of what it was.

This morning I ran on the elliptical at the gym for just over 45 minutes, covering 3.1 miles and burning a glorious 700 calories, if the machine is to be believed. A 15 minute mile ain't bad for someone my age, and for somebody my size, its downright impressive according to my doc. I had an appointment at 10:30 this morning and left the car at my office, choosing instead to make the 2 mile round trip on foot, just because I could. (And I am blessing my podiatrist office neighbor, who got me into these running shoes which are giving me the correct foot/arch/ankle support so I'm able to do this without injuring myself. He caught me me going out for a hike on Sunday afternoon and called out to me from behind, "not in those shoes you're not!")

So far I've said goodbye to 19 lbs since I started with the change 3 1/2 weeks ago.

Figuring out what's safe to eat is still a bit of a challenge. Deciphering wheat products in all of their incarnations is interesting. Maltodextrin? No, not on the list of things that are safe. Did that soup get thickened with flour or cornstarch? Not chancing it. Dealing with picking the croutons out of my salad, even though I told the waiter not to add them, and then skipping the dressing in favor of just plain oil and vinegar on the table. Again, hold the maltodextrin please. At least the waiter heard me, when I said, "dressing on the side please." It is however so totally worth it, not to have the arthritis and to be able once again, not feel disabled. It's kind of hard to identify as disabled, after doing a 3 mile run on the elliptical.

Incidentally, that's not something I would yet dare to do on open ground, and may never think of doing so. Running, your feet hit the ground with 3 g forces - multiply your weight by 3 and that's what your feet and weight bearing joints 'see' with each foot strike. The damage left by the 22 years of the psoriatic arthritis ain't going to tolerate that at my current size. One technically pedals an elliptical, so its a superb cardio workout, without the joint trauma. I've always wondered what it would be like to run a marathon, though. I doubt that with ever happen, but who knows? It I lose enough, I suppose anything is possible. Without the wheat on board, and without the pain, I itch to move every morning when I get out of bed. I can't wait to get out and see things, listen to the sound of the wind in the trees, in my hair, on my skin. It's delicious.

And this morning I finally felt it again. The first recurrent inkling of the runner's high. That was one of the things I used to love about the elliptical. Once upon a time it would hit at about 25 minutes in to a run. This morning I had my first taste of it again, some 35 minutes in. What a delicious sensation!

Off to patient care. My day awaits!
osodecanela: (cam capture)
I've just gotten back from an hour-long walk. I covered 3 miles; actually a little bit more.

Sitting down right this moment this feeling really, really good.

Walking is feeling, well good. It isn't the high that I remember having 10 years ago when I was working out on the elliptical stepper. I started out on the elliptical because it was possible for me to do, plus it was accompanied by a really great calorie burn, but honestly I never thought I'd fall in love with doing it. However, when I got to a point that I could do 20 to 25 minutes of fairly exertional jogging on the machine, I began to experience the runner's high. Up until that point I'd always thought the people who talked about the runner's high were indulging in a group hallucination. I remember being in the state where the sweat was simply pouring off of me, and all of a sudden there'd be this sense of almost euphoria, a sense that "God is in his heaven and all is right with the world."

I guess it's too early to expect that again, but it simply hasn't happened to me, at least not yet.

The rains will be arriving in this part of California likely within the month. We had drizzle light rain early this past week. Once the rains begin in earnest I am not going to be hiking out-of-doors the way I've been doing for the last couple of weeks. Now my husband and I purchased a gym membership a dozen years ago at 24 hour fitness. By paying for two years upfront, we got renewals for life for $49 per year. Even though I have not been using it the last several years, I've been continuing to pay that small amounts in hopes that I would get back to the gym. That day was yesterday.

Last evening at six I walk then, changed clothes and got onto an elliptical stepper for the first time in longer than I care to remember. The machines have changed a bit; either that, or I've gotten shorter. I managed 32 minutes and according to the machine 2 miles, Burning (according to the machine) some 400 cal. I had to adjust the machine couple of times while I was in the midst of my 'run'. Resistance first was moved up and then down. Incline got changed, & 25 minutes in, I needed to reduce the incline by almost half. It's interesting to be on a machine that monitors your heart rate. I managed to keep mine smack in the middle of the 150s.

I will admit to you I am feeling it today. My glutes are aching, in ways that walking does not produce. Similarly my quads. This may not make sense to anyone who's not involved with exercise, but it's definitely a sense of it hurts so good. Frankly when I got home last night, I expected I'd be a lot more sore today than I actually am. It certainly didn't stop me from doing a 3 mile hike just now.

I stopped by the gym to step on the scale; apparently, I've dropped 9 1/2 pounds since I started, not quite two weeks ago. A chunk of that is water weight I'm sure. Still, nine a half pounds is nine and half pounds and I am grateful not to still be hauling it around.

I hope you all will bear with me. I'm sure that posting about this has got to seem somewhat self absorbed. So be it. I'm still amazed at the difference in how I feel. Two weeks ago tomorrow, I eliminated 90% of my simple carbohydrate, the bulk of which were wheat products. As of today, I am four days, completely wheat free. My psoriasis is all but gone. Granted, my skin disease was mild, but I was constantly scratching my scalp due to the itch that the plaques caused. Well there's no more scratching, because the plaques are basically gone. Yes, I still have joint pain, but the character of the pain has changed. The inflammation is gone. There's no more redness, swelling, or increased warmth. The permanent joint changes I have suffered are still there and those will not be going away. However, while sitting down right this moment feels really, really good, I can get up and walk, even after the hike I just took, without abject misery and that is clearly progress. If this is what a eliminating wheat will do for me, then I'm willing to do it.

The other thing that I'm remembering is the other thing that exercise to me, which is it's surprisingly an appetite suppressant. Hiking and the elliptical don't leave me ravenous, they leave me not really particularly hungry.

Well, time to head for home. I need to get the recycling done and there's a shower with my name on it.

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