Category: health

Headaches

This is a pretty simple post.  The last few months I have been getting terrible headaches. Debilitating.  Yesterday on Easter Sunday I sat in my room most of the day and nursed about a 10 hour head ache.

headache

I know that some of you have dealt with headaches, so I am curious for some advice.  What do you find to be the most helpful?  How do you function if you get one?  At least I have a job where I can work with lights off or sound free environment if needed but just curious if there are any suggestions that might help.

Sugar seems to help and sleeping.  If I have a bad night, which I did Saturday, than I often get a headache the next day.  But it seems to be linked to my blood sugar a bit so if I sip a soda or something sweet the pain is better.  Has anyone else experienced that?  Medicine doesn’t seem to do much to help.

Anyway, just curious for some advice and maybe to vent a bit.  I hate these headaches!

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No Sleep

Last night I got no sleep.  I was tired all day and had to go to the house in Alpine to show someone around.  Worried I would be a drowsy driver I drank some caffeine around 4:30 and I bitterly regretted it by the end of the night.  Plus, my ambien prescription is out and that seems to be the only thing that really helps.

It was a long night.  I kept trying different strategies but nothing worked.  (Deep breathing, counting sheep, listening to audiobook, reading, nothing).  Finally around 4:30 I gave up and decided to start working since I was up anyway.  Its peculiar  because usually this happens when I’m worn out or frazzled but I felt fine.  No real stress. The only thing I can put my finger on is that stupid diet coke I drank.  I used to drink a super big gulp everyday, sometimes 2 and it wouldn’t affect me much but not any more.

I tried to take melatonin but it wasn’t helping.  Nothing was helping.

How do I get in these cycles  you ask?  Well, I stayed up too late during my recent trip and ever since then I’ve had a hard time going to sleep before 2 am.  Sometimes more like 3 am.  My body will be tired but my eyes will be wide awake.  At a certain point you start to have anxiety about not being able to sleep and it gets worse and worse.

I know it affects me in many ways.  Luckily I have a job that is flexible and I can even work late at night if all else fails.  But its hard to be motivated to exercise when you are so tired and a lot of the swim masters are at 6 or 6:30 and I’m sorry but I need more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

Last Fall I went to an insomnia specialist and she helped me get things on track so perhaps I need to see her again.  Meanwhile I’m trying to stay up till 8 or 9 tonight so I don’t wake up at some crazy hour.  Its literally painful.  My eyes hurt, head hurts, my stomach is bothering me and I have no appetite.

I don’t mean to be complaining.  Its just insomnia is the worst!

Do you guys have any strategies that work for you? I’ve also done the sleep studies and have a cpap but it makes my insomnia really bad so I don’t wear it often.  Some days my room helps me a lot with all its beautiful darkness and other days my whole body feels tight and I can’t relax.

Tired Rachel
Tired Rachel

By the way, this is my 700th blog post.  Pretty crazy right! Thanks to all who read it.

Exercise and Weight Loss Success

Many of you know I believe in a healthy lifestyle or the Health at Every Size Movement http://www.haescommunity.org/. 

How do you determine the success of a health regiment or diet? I would wager that 90% of you would answer “weight loss”  or if you didn’t you probably would be thinking ‘weight loss’ in your head but saying something more socially acceptable.

Here’s the thing- THAT IS WRONG!!

Every day there seems to be more evidence that the link between weight, even obesity, and actual health is not as strong as we once thought.  This defies the logic of the ‘war on obesity’, Michele Obama, scores of trainers/dieticians but that doesn’t mean it is not true.

Read this book.  It will BLOW YOUR MIND

health at every sizeThink it is just one woman’s crazy enabling antics?  No.  The book has 7 pages of detailed recommendations from doctors, leaders, scientists etc.  (see articles for more back up

US News World Report 

New York Times, and New York Times

The Today Show

To start the book Dr Bacon (I know ironic last name) shares her testimonial.  Here it is directly from the book:

health at every size 2This quote might lead you to believe the book is merely anecdotal but its not.  There is real science to back up what she says about eating healthy, being happy and not worrying about weight.  She leaves no stone unturned answering questions about diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, bone density, and even has the most brilliant defense against gastric bypass I’ve ever read. I’m telling you it will change the way anyone, not just the obese, look at eating, health and exercise. Here is my favorite (this is also quoted in Amy Farrell’s brilliant book Fat Stigma):

UC Davis.

“In this study, a group of fat women was divided into 2 groups, one receiving coaching in restrictive eating (diet) and exercise, the other being encouraged to eat a healthy diet, listen to their bodies cues, to foster ways to engage in fun exercise and take part in a fat acceptance discussion group.

Significantly group 1- the traditional diet/exercise group- initially lost weight, but by the end half had dropped out; most had regained weight; blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures had not improved and self-esteem levels had dropped.

In contrast, group 2 hadn’t lost any weight, but most stayed with the 2 year program; their blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures had improved dramatically; their self-esteem levels increased substantially; and they exercised regularly.  Encouraged to pay attention to their bodies, to stop restricting calories, to fight the discrimination they experienced as fat people, and to enjoy their bodies through physical movement and eating well- the non-dieters showed significant health improvements.  But, and this is the key point, they never became thin.”

Doesn’t that blow your mind?

One of Dr.  Bacon’s patients describes her battle and realization of her own worth so beautifully:

health at every size 3

I recently have become aware of the activist Jeanette DePatie, otherwise known as The Fat Chick.  She gets it.  I wish someone had explained this to me when I started exercising (instead I went into it expecting to lose 100 lbs in the first year. Sigh…)

I am happy most of the time. I love  my life most of the time.  I have times when I’m more fit than others but I’ve basically looked the same since I was 17 years old and I was always ashamed by that, like it was this big failure I could never overcome.  Now I just make sure I have clothes that fit me in lots of sizes and work out at least 3 times a week.  Would I like to be skinny?  Yes, but I’m finally not convinced I’d be any happier if I was (or healthier).  The guilt is for the most part gone.

I hope this encourages all of you.  I started my journey saying I was the Only Happy Fat Woman in America and I had friends who fought me on it.  They thought I was just being patronizing or disingenuous but it was true then and today it is still true (I really had someone argue with me saying I was basically full of crap.  Not true).  TV will make you believe you have to be miserable if you are fat (biggest loser sorry)  but its a lie! Be healthy, be happy, be human, have bad days, eat cake and then work out for an hour the next day, find stuff you love, therapies that work and live the best life you can.

Every time Tanya and I swim together people look and have a surprised expression.  I know they think ‘I’ve never seen a girl that looks like do what they are doing’ and that makes me so happy.  It may be my greatest legacy of all.

So thats what I have to say on that.  Get active.  Be happy.  Love life and Follow God.

And just keep at it.
And just keep at it.
Do something you never thought you could do.  I love MMA (kick boxing) and I'm not too bad at it!
Do something you never thought you could do. I love MMA (kick boxing) and I’m not too bad at it!
Do a fashion show when you find a cute pair of jeans.  Who cares!
Do a fashion show when you find a cute pair of jeans. Who cares!
Find something you love.  Even after all the swims I've done it still makes me smile
Find something you love. Even after all the swims I’ve done it still makes me smile
My trainer who has stood by me for 4 years. She is why I go to treehouse and she is one of my rocks.  I really love her.
My trainer who has stood by me for 4 years. She is why I go to treehouse and she is one of my rocks. I really love her.

I would also just add that my times in the water when I’m at my thinnest and best trained is about 3 minutes faster than when I’m not.  My recovery is much better but my time really isn’t.  Funny. It just goes to show what your definition of success makes such a difference in achieving it.  If I was only focused on times I’d never be successful.

Pain Breakthrough

The problem disks!
The problem disks!

Let me tell you a little bit about my last 3 years…

It all started January 2011 when I tripped on the steep stairs of my Dad’s rental property putting away Christmas ornaments.  Because I was holding the ornaments I couldn’t catch myself and slammed head-first into the wall at the bottom of the stairs.  It knocked the wind out of me and I couldn’t move.

It was terrifying because nobody knew I was down there and I didn’t good reception down in the basement (don’t get good reception in Suncrest period).  When I did get through nobody was answering their phones.  I finally got a text out to an interested tenant who was coming to look at the house.  I told him ‘please come help me’.  Thankfully he did and we were able to reach my Uncle Jon and go to the emergency room.

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2011/01/08/the-big-fall/

Dr #1

They took an xray at the time but it wasn’t a very accurate one.  I was in so much pain I couldn’t lift my hands above my head without literally screaming.  They said it was just muscle pain and I should push it as much as possible for it to recover.  They claimed the last thing I wanted to do was rest, so I worked hard and yet the pain persisted.

Dr #2

My body got more achy as the days persisted and so I went to my regular care doctor.  He was at least honest with me and said he had ‘no idea’ what was wrong.  I felt achy in my ribcage, lower back, and my exercise recovery was terrible.  I would spend hours in bed sometimes after a simple workout.

Dr #3 (and 4)

I was assured by so many people that it was just muscle aches that I wondered if it was some kind of flare up with my PCOS.  I had been seeing an endocrinologist in Salt Lake but I wasn’t very happy with him.  He treated me like a drama queen and didn’t answer my questions.  Based on one blood sugar reading after I’d had candy he said I was diabetic, freaked me out (I cried) and then retracted it the next time saying it was just so he could prescribe me the right medicine (which I hated see Victoza is Evil) I still can’t believe he would make up a diagnosis just to give me some prescription.

Then I found a new endocrinologist that I loved.  He would talk to you for literally an hour.  Unfortunately he shut down his practice because of Obamacare (his letter said it not me).  Sigh…

Dr #5

Because I was feeling pain in my ribcage I along with my back I wanted to make sure it wasn’t something serious like cancer.  I decided to try an internal med doctor and she was pretty good.  We did do an MRI and that’s where we figured out about my ‘healed fracture’ to my thoracic spine. I thought this might have been the trigger for the chronic pain (usually is a trigger for it).  Then we tried some thyroid meds and they seemed to help a lot.

It was actually a nurse practitioner at this doctor’s office that I loved.  She had fibromyalgia herself and so she understood chronic pain.  Was very sympathetic and thorough (we tested for everything).  I also refused to take pain meds because I didn’t want to get hooked on anything.

Well, just as we were making headway they fired the nurse practitioner and the doctor tried to prescribe a weight loss drug and didn’t tell me that it was also used to treat epilepsy and could lead your brain to be foggy and unclear….That was the end of that  doctor for me.  I couldn’t believe she wouldn’t tell me something like that.

I refuse to take medicine that alters my brain.  I respect those who make that choice but it is not for me.

Dr #6-

http://utahchronicpain.com/

In May I saw an ad for a place called Utah Chronic Pain Center.  They said they treated the patient from the inside out and that you got 2 free laser massages to try it out.  I figured why not? I went in a little skeptical but I learned that it was doctor supervised not some hippy mumbo-jumbo.

What impressed me the most was their dual approach. We did all the normal blood work, increased my thyroid meds to a more aggressive approach and started a treatment with laser massage, compression and other techniques.  It was hard but almost immediately I sensed a difference.  I started going 3 times a week, than 2, and now 1 time; however, if I miss that 1 time like I did on my trip to Cali I have serious pain.

In fact, I was having so much pain after Cali that Dr. Luddington suggested I get some x-rays just to rule certain things out like scoliosis. I went to the US MRI and the xrays only cost me $65 (I don’t have pre-existing condition coverage from my job with Poler until November).  Isn’t that a good deal?  We did 4 x-rays and they put it on a cd-rom for me to take to the dr.

back2

Today I went for a treatment with Dr. Luddington and looked at the x-rays.  The treatment went way better than last week (amazing what a difference it makes if I miss one).  After examining the x-rays he showed me how the disk in the lower back did not have the fullness of the other disks and that they were ‘degenerative’ meaning basically they had been flattened by an extreme event- like falling down a flight of stairs.  This had led to the chronic pain.

The good news is the doctor is confident if I keep with the treatment, keep swimming and stretch like I should than it will continue to grow and heal.

But just think what this means for a second- we now know for sure that I fractured a bone in my upper back and hurt a disk in my lower back and yet I kept on training?  How crazy is that?  Who says this girl can’t handle some serious stuff…

So now I’m armed with knowledge and a doctor that will treat me as long as I need (you pay up front for treatment until you are pain free!). I also have the comfort of hearing a doctor finally say

“So all that time you weren’t making it up.  You were really in pain”.

I really was.  I knew it.  I was just waiting to find someone who believed me.

Oh and I also had surgery on my eyes twice during this time.  Mama Mia!

Have any of you experienced this type of injury or related chronic pain?  What has helped you?  I’d love to hear your stories.

And to all you doctors maybe you should treat people like they are real human beings and believe them when they say they are hurting.  They aren’t drama queens and they don’t need you making up diagnosis, prescribing them weight loss drugs, telling her she needs gastric bypass and treating her like a child.  This is not an assembly line no matter how many patients you see a day.  This is 3 years of my life.  3 years!

Have any of you experienced this type of doctor drama?

 

Peach Dish

I only have a second because I am working but my last box to try came.  Its called Peach Dish.  Its a meal service where you get delivered all the ingredients for a 4 course meal for 2 in the mail.  You can do it on a weekly basis for $20 or individually for $24.  They include all the recipes and everything is healthy and organic/grass fed (even the meat comes with it)

You can also buy grass fed beef and produce in bulk at very reasonable prices from the site.

peach dishI think this is a particularly smart idea if you are like me, single and cooking for 1, or married cooking for 2.  How easy to have everything ready to go? You just have to add oil, salt and pepper!

What do you guys think?  I will be posting a review of my favorite boxes later tonight.  What have looked the most interesting to you?  Which one’s would you subscribe to?  Thanks to all who let me try out there boxes for review at free or discounted prices.  It has been super fun.

Here’s my meal (posted later in the evening)

peach dish2

Slowing Things Down

I don’t think I have mentioned on this blog I have started a new pain treatment at the Utah Chronic Pain Center.  This is a dual approach of hormone balancing and laser/decompression treatment all supervised by nurse practitioners and doctors.   As part of the treatment I am supposed to remain active but not cause my muscles to be overly swollen, tender or pulled.   This would revert all of our progress.  I am also supposed avoid bending, twisting or sudden movement.  As a result I have moved from working out 4-6 times a week to more like 2-3 times a week.  I have also been a little less intense on the diet; although I don’t really have an excuse for that.

I have also been specifically told by the doctor to stop mixed martial arts for the moment because it is too jarring and too much potential for my muscles to be strained.  I miss it and hope to be back soon but for the moment, the treatment is very expensive and I’m inclined to listen. :).

Here’s the weird thing- I feel great.  I feel energetic, happy, and relatively free from pain.  In all the years I was working out hard core I kept expecting to be energetic from exercise but never really felt it.  All those endorphins were a myth to me, never a reality (and I mean never).  I can’t explain it but I feel healthier now than I have in years.  Hmmmm… Why does my body have to be a freakazoid and not response like everyone else’s!  Can any of you relate to what I am saying?  Please, please share your experiences.

Now I have to get training again soon because I have the GSL swim coming up and I have been woefully out of the water this year.  (With everything crazy for Poler and Grabber I haven’t had time to get to the pool as much as I would like.  Going tomorrow though!).

What do you think of this?  Am I just deluding myself that these behaviors are making me feel good.  I don’t think so.  I really feel good.  Most importantly I am not in constant pain when I breath, move, bend over or walk.  What should I do in the future because I don’t want to lose all the training I worked so hard for but it was making me feel terrible and it never got easier after 3 years?  Never.   What would you do?  It’s like I have to decide pain or fat?

It’s so hard because you feel like you should almost be feeling bad when you are training but usually that goes away after a while.  For me it was a constant bad reaction to exercise.  Even swimming would leave me weak and frustrated.  There’s a limit how long a person can live like that especially without losing much weight.

I’m puzzled because it seems to go against what doctors and medical science thinks for me to feel better not exercising.  Thoughts?  All I know is what my body is telling me and it is definitely telling me to slow things down.

slow and steady wins the race
slow and steady wins the race

Holidays and Moving

Honestly folks what was I thinking? And how come nobody whacked me upside the head and said ‘finishing a house New Years Eve will make you crazy’?  I mean isn’t that what friends are for!  🙂 .

All joking aside the gruesome combo of building a house (especially as a first time home buyer) and trying to eek out a good Christmas is not something I’d recommend to anyone else.  It’s been brutal.  My apartment of 3 years is all a flutter, boxes everywhere (the chaos is making me feel chaotic!) and furniture is being sold or attempted to be sold (3 people have stood me up waiting for them to show up.   1 of them was for a free tv.  You think they’d have initiative to come over for a free tv).

The main thing we are waiting on at the house is the cabinets, which finally arrived Friday at the warehouse.  Now we have to find out the install date.  Once the cabinets are installed countertops, appliances, sinks and carpet can all be installed.  Stupid cabinets!

My stomach has been affected by the anxiety and I haven’t been able to digest things well or had much of an appetite.  I’ve felt nauseated and yet my sleep has been bad.

The thing is I know everything will be okay.  Even if I have to move my stuff up to my Dad’s for a few weeks, I have a back up, but knowing that doesn’t seem to make the worry go away.  Last week, for instance, I tried for 4 days to look at the positive and be hopeful, and I was miserable Friday and then Saturday I reached the breaking point where I had to take my anxiety meds (something I am loathe to do).  The only thing that makes me proud is that in the past I would have had a full blown panic attack on Saturday but I kept it under control.

What feels frustrating is I can’t explain it very well.  It’s a non-nonsensical experience.  It makes me feel like an idiot and a also a little guilty.  I know I am so blessed to have a house with amazing tenants.  Even writing that I want to throw up.

Sigh…And then there is Christmas.  I have had a nice holiday season but it has been more of a welcome distraction than a season.  I kind of wish I could pick it up and have it in February instead of December but I’ve done the best I can to be festive and happy.  Will it go down as one of my best Christmases? Probably not. Some of my friends seem to have the perfect responses to being single and stressful at Christmas.  I’m trying but I can only do so much when I feel like my brain is going to explode.  At this point I am on survival mode trying to be as happy and stable as possible, with as few breakdown as possible before move in day.

The truth is  I’ve also felt very close to the spirit during this time.  I know what I’m doing is right and that means everything.  When I feel anxious, prayer and study have helped me to calm down and lessen the nausea.  In a way I suppose I have been able to focus on the true reason for the season because everything has been so crazy.  Yesterday we had a tremendous Christmas program and it reminded me that Jesus Christ was born, lived, and died for me.   He loves me and love means everything.

So to getting through the next 2 weeks without any breakdowns!  (ok maybe 1 or 2 will be allowed? 😉 ).  I will write tomorrow to let you know how my solo crazy Christmas went.  In the meantime Merry Christmas!

(My thoughts have been so jumbled I’ve tried to write this post 3 times and failed so take it for what it is worth.  It’s been a challenging time for me.  Exciting but challenging).

moving-house-holidays