Category: Health/sickness

On Bended Knee

Alas I have not been proposed too.

Mine is a knee problem of another sort.  Sadly today was supposed to be my last day at the family reunion but yesterday I slipped on a tub in my hotel room and twisted  my knee badly.  I was able to get out of the tub by rolling out and then hobbled to clothes.  However, when I tried to get onto the bed and lift my knee a bit my leg turned to jello and I toppled to the ground.

My poor Dad came to my rescue and had the Herculean task of lifting not so little me up onto a desk chair that they rolled down the hallway onto the elevator.

No wheelchair or bathroom mat I could see!  Badly done Hampton Inn.  The lady was very good to wait for me but I called and told them what had happened and she said ‘I will have someone come fill out an incident report’ and I said ‘could you get me a bag of ice first…(sigh. Litigious world we live in)

Nevertheless, I was in so much pain.  Worse than ever in my life.  Basically carrying me into the car and then drove me to the urgent care.  Luckily the urgent care took my insurance (even though Humana had no one at their call centers for emergencies!)

They were great at the urgent care and did 3 x-rays and gave me a shot, some meds.  According to the doctor it could take a while to heal.  I certainly can’t put any weight on it right now.  I’m honestly very surprised it isn’t an ACL or break because the pain is very strong (although the pain meds do help).

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I have been packing the knee with ice 24/7 and resting.  Thankful for my family for taking care of me and Sam for giving up his room.  In a way it is a good place to have something like this happen because at home I would have lots of stairs and nobody home most the day to help me.

I was supposed to fly home tomorrow but I can’t even have my knee dangling and if anyone touches it there is extreme pain.  There is no way I could wedge into a little airline seat right now.  Luckily I had gotten the trip insurance and Delta let me get a credit.

I hope Sunday I am able to continue to rest so I can work a little bit on Monday.  I’d hate to get too behind after missing 3 days of work this week for the reunion.

Please send a little prayer for me that the pain will be bearable and that it will heal quickly.  It’s certainly been one of the most painful experiences of my life.  I just wish it was all for something more exciting than a shower!

It’s a real shame because I had been having a pretty good time at the reunion.  This is actually not the first knee injury at a family reunion.  My Uncle Jim tore his ACL at a Thanksgiving reunion we had in Colorado.

I guess family is hard on the knees and not just from all the praying!

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Myth of a Sick Day

sick day

Have you ever had a sick day?  I don’t know if I have.  Yes, I’ve certainly been sick and yes, I’ve taken sick days off of work but they aren’t really days off, and I don’t even have kids.

Yesterday was a good example.  I woke up with a stomach ache and spent the morning emptying my stomach.  I had emailed my boss to let him know I would be out for the day.  I answered a few emails and then crashed for about 3 hours.  I have never taken naps even when I was little (my poor Mom).  Pretty much when I take a nap I know I am either sick or on a mission (only time in my life I took naps).

When I woke up I realized I had a notice on my email that estimated tax payments were due that day.  I called my accountant but was having trouble reaching them.  They had told me previously that they weren’t due until July which didn’t seem right but I was so busy with a new job that I shrugged it off.

Sick-Day

Finally I was able to reach the secretary for the accountants and the two of us were able to go through all the figures and thankfully I could make the state and federal payments online.  (The accountants got a piece of my mind don’t you worry!).

This took hours to figure out and the whole time I really just wanted to sleep.  I hadn’t eaten anything all day but finally at about 8 pm I stomached some crackers and ginger ale.  After watching 24 I fell asleep.

I wish I could have taken an entire day off to recover but it nearly always works out this way.  I know I am not alone in this.  In fact, I have it easier than you Mom and Dad’s who really never get a day off to recover.  I guess it’s just being an adult.

I’ve always said the only time I miss my Mom is when I am sick. I’m a pretty independent person but to be taken care of like only a mother can is perhaps the best part of childhood.  My roommate was kind to bring me some crackers but just nothing beats the sympathy and care of a mother for her daughter (even at 33 years old!).

At least with my new job hopefully the work distractions will be fewer.  The downside to accounting is there are deadlines that don’t go away if someone is sick.  Today 5 checks had to be written and it didn’t matter if I was recovering.  The mail had to be gotten and a wire had to be written.  This could not wait.

There are definitely deadlines with marketing but it seems to be a slower pace and be a little more flexible than accounting. I could be wrong but that’s just the vibe I’ve gotten so far.

I know some people have 9 to 5 jobs so when they are home they aren’t at work whether it is the end of the day or a sick day but I think a growing number of us telecommute which means there is no end to the work day, sick or not.

My favorite thing about my job is that I can telecommute.  I am by  no means complaining just talking about my life.

I guess what can be difficult is making sure you get better while still doing all the stuff that still has to be done.  What strategies have you found to be helpful? How do you guys balance work and other demands?  I’d be particularly interested in hearing from other telecommuters.

At least this was just a 24 hour bug and while I was a little tired today it wasn’t too bad.  What was really rough was this last Christmas when I was sick as a dog and had to work the entire time.  I’m sure that is why the illness stretched on for over 9 weeks.  It was brutal.

If only sick days were like this:

Heroism and Weight Loss

fat-supermanI’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time.  Everyone who reads this blog is probably aware of my distaste for weight loss in the media.  I know many find shows like the Biggest Loser to be encouraging but for me they are the opposite.

What bothers me is they paint fat people as bad, and reformed fatties as good and that just isn’t true.   As I often say,  ‘a lot of people lose weight in prison’… Losing weight is hard enough without having these types of morality judgments thrown in our face.

So that’s media but this post is a slightly different take.  I would like to talk about how we as a culture often couch weight loss in heroic terms and how this is almost never helpful.

Just the other day I was watching a show and the reporter asked the man how he had ‘overcome his heroic battle with weight loss’.  This is not uncommon phraseology for our average conversation. All of us, including myself, have used such phrases when talking about weight loss.

What’s wrong with that you ask? I mean losing weight is really hard.  Why is that not heroic?

Well, let’s start with some definitions-

Over on about.philosophy.com author Kendra Cherry asked her readers How Do You Define Heroism?  Pretty much every response is something like this:

“A hero is a person who would risk life and limb just to save people or a person. these people standout as brave intelligent and loving. these people need to be recognized”

So what are the elements of being a hero:

1. They are brave

2. They are worthy of recognition

3.  They are loving

4. They risk their own safety to help other people

It is this last aspect that is the most common thread in all the responses.  Another reader says:

“Heroism is when you act out of the kindness of your heart. Whether you’re helping someone on homework, or helping someone who got hurt, the main thing is that your helping someone who is having a hard time”

So, heroism clearly involves being unselfish and serving your fellow men and women especially when doing so is difficult.

indexHow does weight loss fit such a description?  I can’t think of any other change of appearance that is lauded in such ways.  For example, if someone gets a face lift they are often derided, criticized but I’ve rarely heard that when gastric bypass is done.  Why is one surgical enhanced change heroic and another isn’t?

You could say that gastric bypass is required where a face lift is not? Well, the research from the Health at Every Size movement would strongly disagree with that assertion, but even if you accept that gastric bypass is necessary I don’t see how it is heroic?  If I break my leg and have surgery on said leg (essentially fixing a problem in my body like GB) does that make me a hero?  No, it makes me a person with a broken leg that was fixed.

I can see no part of weight loss that involves risk to help other people. You can help people get in shape or encourage them to enter a race, but that’s not really the weight loss, that’s your service in the community and amongst your loved ones.  Anyone should be lauded who serves others no matter their size.  That is worthy of the hero label.

What about athletes? Who are they serving and we call them ‘sports heroes’?  One could argue such a term is misapplied to professional athletes but I would counter that most athletes are participating in a team or cause greater than just themselves.

For example, an Olympian is certainly worthy of individual applause but also their gift of performance on behalf of their country makes it worthy of the hero label.

There are a few sports like golf that are truly individual events and then I would say they aren’t really heroes but simply exceptional.  We like them because they are good at something and we are not. Nothing wrong with that!

But I hear you saying ‘Rachel it’s so hard.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging?’.  My answer is ‘of course, we should’.  However, there are lots of hard things we do in life that aren’t really heroic.  If I am a PHD candidate and I complete my thesis am I lauded as a hero? I’m encouraged, congratulated, cheered but unless there’s a disability or something extraordinary I rarely hear the kind of language we apply to weight loss for any other ‘hard thing’ in life.

Why? Because the diet industry in America is a 20 billion dollar industry.  They want you to spend money and what better way to get someone to spend money than to either make them feel really good or really bad about themselves.  A tepid, lukewarm person never bought anything.  They have a vested interest in convincing us that we need to change and that if we make said change we can be the hero.

Now, you might suggest that I am focusing on mere semantics and poor word choice.  I would argue back that according to the Huffington Post the average American woman has dieted 61 times by the time they are 45 and that’s starting at 16 (I would start much younger- 81% of little girls in America have dieted before the age of 10).

Assuming some marginal success in most of those diets, the average woman has been the hero 61 times,  and then fallen sometimes quite speedily off of her pedestal.  Then to make matters worse 35% of women gain more than they lost on said diet.

So, now we aren’t really a weight loss villain (to use the cannon of terms) that is probably reserved for sinful foods and the companies who pedal them but we are something even worse- the fallen hero.  I mean think about what that means.  61 times the average woman not only feels let down with her own frailties but is no longer the inspirational tool for her family and friends.  I’ve felt it and I bet most of you have too.  It is devastating.

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I actually remember one time my sister telling me ‘you can’t gain the weight back because then you wouldn’t be this person that we admire’.  She was very little and didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but is that not what all of us go through on the roller coaster of weight loss? 2012 I was at my peak of fitness and weight loss, then I had a personal crisis, chronic pain and a herniated disk in my back.  Things changed and so did my body.

I’m not making excuses.  That’s just what happened.  I felt guilty for a long time.  Like I’d let everyone down, which is insane when you really think about it.  What had changed was something in my body.  My other actions were exactly the same.  I still swam my races, I still blogged.  I still worked.  I still held book club and spent time with my friends.  I still traveled.  All of it.  I can’t think of one thing for other people I could do in 2012 and couldn’t or didn’t do in 2013.  So why did I seemingly let them down?

Because I wasn’t the hero anymore. 

That’s why this language about our bodies is so important.  It can have devastating repercussions that can make us feel like failures, and we already feel that way because of the way we look.  The language just piles on. And sometimes it is not just language.  I have friends who’s parents were vocally disappointed in them for their weight loss struggles. Instead of sympathy and encouragement they received pity and disgust.  (Luckily my parets have always been pretty good about letting me live my own life)

What worries me most is if being the fallen weight loss hero is hard for adults, imagine what it must feel like for a child who has so little control over his or her bodies in the first place?  That I do know.  I remember vividly the feeling of disappointment after diet, after diet, not only frustrated at not looking the way I wanted to, which is hard enough for a young girl, but letting everyone down in the process.  For goodness sakes, now these kids are even letting down the President.

So, in a perfect world where everyone took all of my advice what would I suggest? How would I encourage others in this hard thing called weight loss? I would treat it like the accomplishment of any other worthy goal.  ‘that’s great’, ‘I can see you worked very hard’, ‘great job’, ‘congrats’, ‘I’d love to go jogging with you’, or any number of responses without vaulting the person up as a hero because of the way they look.

What do you guys think? Have you felt like you were letting down people when you gain weight or fail to lose?  Do you think the hero narrative is helpful or hurtful?  Please share your experience, as this is just what makes sense to me.  Love you all!

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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!

Sick Christmas

So remember how I wrote about this being the ‘perfect Christmas’?  Well, I had a feeling I was jinxing myself and I sure did.  I had been dealing with a cough for a couple of weeks but then on Monday I really started to feel poorly.  Enough so that I went to the doctor just in case it was an infection.  Turns out it was a virus.  No big surprise.

I was hoping it would just be a little thing but Tuesday (Christmas Eve) I wasn’t feeling great but I pushed through the day.  My throat hurt and I just didn’t feel good. I got through the day and then stumbled home and crashed sleeping till 10 am.  I felt pretty rotten but I went up to where my parents are staying and got my presents but I kept falling asleep (a bad sign.  I never take naps unless I’m sick) and after about 12:30 I felt so bad I had to go home and spent the rest of Christmas Day in bed.

Then yesterday and today came with more time in bed and I still feel very rotten.  I can’t talk, my throat hurts and I just feel awful.  Thank you to my home teachers who gave me a blessing this morning and my friend Tanya who brought me dinner.

I hope this weekend I am able to improve.  We will see.  At least I have some time off work to heal.

Send out a prayer my way.  Thanks.  Thanks to my family for coming out here.  I am soooo grateful to not be traveling with this sickness.

Pleasing No One

writing_is_a_struggle_against_silence_by_amazinganimegirl-d5f157w

So I learned a lesson in the last few days, one about standing up for my writing in a new way and that by trying to please everyone I pleased no one, least of all myself.

A few days ago I wrote a post I was very proud of about the commonly believed myth that weight has anything to do with finding a life partner.  This is something I have been told all my life and never really believed.  I see too much to argue against it everywhere I look.  As I mentioned in the post, even in Hollywood we see the movie The Heat has 2 actresses, one skinny, one plus size.  It is not the skinny one that is currently married.

Anyway, I used a framing device for this piece a horrible date I had been on where I was told I was fat, needed to diet and exercise in order to attract a suitable spouse.  While I felt hurt I felt the piece was fair as it disclosed no personal information and it could have easily been John Doe for all anyone knew.  He also had every right to write his side on his blog, get his friends to defend him.  I also had given him more of my personal information than he had of me so if anything the power play was in his hand.

Nevertheless, the post sprouted a wide array of opinions- most of the positive and I will admit many of them coming on my request, as I asked for defense (my friends are the best and so loyal).  There was a small minority that felt I had been a bully and unchristlike.

This was hard for me to hear because as a bullying victim I take that type of behavior very personally.  I sincerely didn’t believe that was what I had done but the idea that anyone, especially one very close person, thought that was what I had done bothered me.

So, in a moment of weakness I took the post down but this didn’t feel right either.  I saw the positive effect it was having and one girl even said “I needed to read this today! Thanks for posting, sometimes I feel like the only women dealing with this. You rock!”  If for this woman alone I felt the information needed to be out there.  What to do?  Again in a weak moment I decided to edit it to not include the date and just the weight discussion.  This was a much weaker post but i figured it was better than nothing.

Unfortunately when I did this the comments made no sense so I tried to change them in nominal ways, keeping their core content but a friend rightly pointed out this was censorship and not ethical.  I knew it wasn’t right when I was doing it but was down the rabbit hole at that point.

Eventually I reached a status where nobody was happy with me and for good cause.  Worst of all I risked alienating readers and especially hurting my friends who had come to my defense so quickly.  I reluctantly decided I’d made such a mess of things that I erased the post and moved on.

I would like to apologize for this whole episode and for deleting the comments you took time to craft.  My only defense is that I learned a lot from the experience.  I learned to trust my voice and trust my readers who overwhelmingly agreed with me and liked the post.  If I had just let it be and not worried about it everything would have blown over and been fine.

Writing is a bold endeavor and I am very proud of the fact that I have never held anything back on this blog.  It is the proudest thing I do.  It is the best part of my life.  In a way it is my life.  I need to honor my voice and writing and feel confident in what it tells me to produce.  Lesson learned.

If I can end with a plea.  If you were offended on either side I am sorry.  Please continue read (and thank you for the nearly uniform understanding and support I have felt in the last 2 days), share, comment and ponder.  I have written 720 posts over 6 years, what I conservatively estimate is 400,000 words.  If one post was handled poorly please give me a second chance.  I know what I have to say is important.  I have no editor but I do the best I can and I believe in my voice, now more than ever.

The greatest thing we can do in life is to be true to ourselves and serve God.  Sure love ya! To 400,000 more words and 6 more years. I will keep writing.  Thanks! Now on to Nanowrimo!

Insomnia Specialist

It should be no surprise to any blog reader that I struggle with insomnia.  I have for years.  Even as a child I remember sitting up late at night wondering about things and staring at the wall.    High school and college were plagued with insomnia and even on my mission when I was tired all the time I sometimes struggled to fall asleep.  (My mission was the only time in my life I’ve successfully taken naps but I still sometimes sat up for a half hour to hour trying to wind down from the crazy days).

Well, I’ve recently had a few breakthroughs in my treatment.  I have been seeing an insomnia specialist that is a psychiatrist not an MD.  She can not prescribe medications but works with you to collect data on your sleep and change patterns.  I have been meeting with her for about a month and a half and already noticed some interesting trends:

1. I find it very difficult to sleep without having eaten and not just a snack.  Preferably something sweet seems to be helpful.  I’m not sure if this is the blood sugar that makes me tired or if it is something psychological but it’s certainly fascinating.  The doctor asked me if food gives me anxiety and at first I said NO!  I hate that fat person cliche that we are always crying into a pan of brownies, not true!  Still, I had to admit that the whole process of losing weight and food management does give me some anxiety (which is a different question than does it make me emotional).  It made me think of being a fat little girl who was bullied and I wonder if that anxiety made me a child insomniac?

2. I typically went to sleep around 2 am and woke up between 7 and 8.  We are trying to train my brain to sleep when I tell it to go to sleep so we’ve been forcing myself to stay up until 2 and wake up at 7:30.  It’s been hard but I think it is actually working.  I find myself getting tired earlier than last month.  Maybe it is just my rebellious nature? Can’t be told what to do even by myself!

3.  My doctor ordered me to not have blue light electronics (tv, ipod, phone, computer, etc) an hour before I went to bed.  I was skeptical but I must admit it seems to be helping me feel more tired.  Part of it is I have just been getting bored.  I can read for a little while but I’ve had a hard time thinking of anything else I could do for that hour but sleep and listen to an audiobook.  I’m not going to say the problem is so easily solved but I’m encouraged by the progress in the last week.

4. There are a lot of insomnia myths out there that don’t seem to make much of a difference for me.  For instance, the not eating after 8 pm rule clearly does not work for me (see rule #1).  Eating spicy food and even caffeine in the afternoon doesn’t seem to affect when I go to sleep.  I also can’t take a bath or shower.  Nothing will wake me up faster than that.  Sometimes I can’t even wash my face or brush my teeth (don’t worry do it in the morning) because the water (and peppermint) will wake me up.

5.  Still incredibly sensitive to light, sound and any other stimulus.  Can’t wait to move into my new house away from the pond and tree where I can customize my curtains and get the ultimate perfect sleep! It is my dream to have everything like at the hotel rooms I’ve stayed at.  When I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Folsom I slept for 12 hours! That’s the difference a controlled sleep environment makes for me, more than double my normal sleep!

6. Go to bed only when you are sleepy.  This I learned from my regular sleep doctor but its been reinforced the last few weeks. Never try to get yourself to sleep for more than 20 minutes.  If you can’t sleep get up do something and then when you feel tired try again.  When I think of that horrible incident in February where I couldn’t sleep for over 2 days a lot of it might have been solved if I had just stopped trying and done other things (although my brain was so worked up then I don’t know if that’s the case)

So, I think that’s a lot to learn in such a short period of time.  I’m grateful for good doctors while they last and soaking up all the knowledge I can.  My endocrinologist decided to not do the pay for practice so I have lost him… 😦  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  Makes me weary just thinking about it- maybe that’s the cure for insomnia, think about finding a doctor!

I know many of you struggle with insomnia and I’d encourage you to keep a detailed sleep log and try different strategies, even if they seem counter-intuitive (like eating before bed) and see what works.  I’d be curious to hear your findings and how they match up with mine.

Btw, the name of my doctor is Dr. Lori Neeleman and she is such an easy person to talk to, so insightful.  I really like her.