My Two Favorite Dorks

My Two Favorite Dorks

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bad choices

Spoof cereal boxes

I spend a great deal of my life making good choices when it comes to my health. I am definitely better than the average bear when it comes to self-care, compliance and pushing myself (some people probably think I push myself too hard but I say you can't have one side of that coin without the other.)

But sometimes when you are sick, you feel like it gives you the right to make bad decisions. Example: last weekend (after a week of coming down with a cold, feeling crappy, being frustrated with my health, being slightly depressed and knowing that I would be starting IVs again soon) I stopped by the beer store on my way home from work and bought an inordinate amount of craft beer, which I intended to enjoy mostly by myself throughout the weekend. And I did enjoy it. (Passed my "morning after" test of not feeling guilty or overindulgent.)

Sweet Potato Lager is so delicious this time of year
So I can't say I have regrets about that particular situation, but it is a perfect example of me feeling entitled to make a bad decision. Ideally, I should have been drinking as many clear fluids as possible and making sure I got good rest (alcohol can also affect that) at the very least. By the way, the weekend was not a total throw-away, I took two good walks with the dogs, which was about all I had energy for exercise-wise -- but I was proud of myself for doing it. I also kept up with all of my normal stuff and stayed very well hydrated during the daytime hours. :)

Another example of feeling entitled, I LOVE sugar cereal. I love it so much that I have not allowed myself to buy it for the better part of many years - it is like CRACK to me. When there is a box of sugar cereal in the house, my eyes pop open in the morning and I am immediately thinking about Corn Puffs or Golden Grahams. Seriously. Having diabetes, sugar cereal is one of the worst things you can eat because of the fast and furious spike in blood sugar.

I'm not sure where this feeling of entitlement comes from in me. I know that pretty much forever, when I would go to a doctor's appointment or have to get a shot or anything, there would always be a special reward afterward: Taco Bell for lunch, McDonald's ice cream. So maybe my brain is wired that way. And I'm not saying that is a bad thing; as a child it was nice. 

So, last time I was on IVs (a meager six weeks ago), I went to the store to stock up on some things and decided to buy a couple of boxes of Crunch Berries (because of the fact that I had to be on IVs for two weeks and was feeling totally crappy.) I ended up having slightly better control over the Crunch Berries - maybe because my appetite was so sparse now that I think of it. But unlike with my sweet potato lager last weekend, I did not pass the "morning after" test - I felt guilty every time I ate them.

Now some of you might say (my mother amongst you) that I deserve a break; that I should treat myself because of all I have to go through; even that I deserve it. And what I'm saying is, maybe I don't. Or, maybe I deserve something else. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that I'm not planning to indulge ever again. But it does mean that maybe I will start to look at my reasoning a little more closely.

This time starting on IVs, I had a realization somewhere in between buying the Ho-Hos, really wanting a beer last night and just now: Just because life is hard does not give me the right to beat myself up over it; just because I go through difficult things does not mean that I necessarily deserve a reward. I am the only one who suffers - both in the long and short run - as a result of my poor choices. Hmph. Going to need to think on that one for a while. Clearly there needs to be some balance between sainthood and over-indulgence. Ah, the ever-elusive 'happy medium.'

Taking it one step further: The thing about doing something wrong over and over is that it gives you a false chance to reconcile with yourself every time. (It's what I call cyclical addictive thinking.) It's the 'I had Crunch Berries this morning but I will not have any more refined sugar for the rest of the day/week/year!' and the little feeling of elation that comes with it. Most of the time, you end up breaking that promise because - I think - we get addicted to the elation that comes with pledging to do better in the future. (Conversely, or possibly concurrently, I think that people get addicted to the 'beating themselves up' that comes with making poor choices.) I definitely have some of the former in me.

But I also wonder if I am addicted to the "morning after" test itself - I kid, sort of - the always wanting to recount and assess how I feel about things that I have done. I sometimes wonder: what would my mind and body feel like to be totally free and clear? - I think deep down that is a goal that I am afraid to attain. Like life, while idyllic, would be too boring or something. But how would I know?

I read a piece of advice in O magazine a while back that has really stuck with me: Do more of things that make you feel good; do less of things that don't. So simple, yet so brilliant. But it's a good goal for me to strive toward.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Crappy week

It's been a crappy week. My positive outlook is nowhere to be seen.

Overall, I'd say that just everything is setting in a bit more with Roger's death and all that we went through with that and then my big health ordeal. I have felt frustrated that my exercising like crazy does not seem to be paying off in terms of raising my PFTs. Oh, I know it's good for me anyway, and it's actually one of the few things that I have really enjoyed and looked forward to this week. So there's that.

This week we found out that someone in our extended family had a suspicious growth that may be cancerous. I am sort of out of the loop, but right now I think things are looking good for it being totally fine, but we will know for sure soon. It just made me so sad, so depressed. It's so much to deal with...

And I woke up on Wednesday morning with a sore throat. Whoopee! I haven't even made it to my 4-week follow up - during which I'm supposed to be doing everything possible to raise my PFTs - and I am fighting another virus. It means I will more than likely be starting another course of IVs soon unless something miraculous happens.

It's not so much the doing IVs that bothers me, it's the frustration I've felt about exercising so much with it doing no good, and knowing that I am only going to lose ground here before I can continue on that path to getting better. (I will say that functionally my lungs felt good before I caught the virus this week, and I am thankful for that even if the numbers don't back it up.)

Todd is doing okay. It has been a difficult week for him. But he is having a really great weekend in the mountains with three of his oldest and best friends and I am very happy for him. Here is a picture of a big fish that he caught. I like this picture because he almost has a smirk on his face. And also because I know that when he is fishing, he is happy.

Todd with big fish on the New River in Virginia, Oct 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Doctors, yoga and exercise

I had my check up after 3 weeks of IV antibiotics almost three weeks ago. At that time, I was definitely feeling better. All of my symptoms - including my pesky low oxygen numbers! - had come back up to a reasonable place. My pulmonary functions, however, were not as cooperative.

Below you can see how my PFTs trended up over the course of my IV treatment from Aug 29 to Sept 18. (I started keeping track of some of my medical stats in a google spreadsheet and it allows me to easily make nifty graphs like this.)

My doctor was a little disappointed but I wasn't surprised at all. As you can see, I had been tracking my PFTs pretty closely at home, and what I scored at clinic was on par with what it had been - which is still more than 20% below my baseline. *sad face* The course of action was to keep my Prednisone at 20mg for a prolonged period of time, and exercise exercise exercise. And go back in one month.

I have been keeping up my end of the bargain! I have exercised 11 of of the 17 days since my appointment - swimming, walking, elliptical, even yoga! And I have done so in a mindful way with respect to my back issues, which will always be with me creeping up from time to time.

So yes, last week I went to yoga class for the first time in about a year and a half. It was a huge milestone for me. And I went to another one tonight at a new studio. Both of the classes were restorative classes (also called yin yoga), which means mostly passive positions to let your muscles and soft tissue release tension. Very relaxing and, well, restorative. It's a far cry from my cardio-workout flow yoga classes that are my real love, but you have to start somewhere. Baby steps. I used to hate baby steps but I am seeing their value in my wise old age.