Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My body has been trying to tell me something

My body has been screaming at me for several weeks that something is wrong. I would not listen, so it did something to make me pay attention. In hindsight, this is kind of funny.

A little over three weeks ago my body attacked itself. At the time, I thought it was some strange allergic reaction. I had no idea what made this happen and had never had anything like this happen before.

I was sitting at my desk at work, 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon about three and a half weeks ago. I hadn't eaten anything since noon, and only had water to drink . Suddenly I had a tingling in my upper lip, on the inside, right in the middle of the lip. It was a sensation I'd never experienced before. My lip started to swell up, very quickly, but only on the upper left side. Then the hives started on my upper chest. Terrible welts appeared and they itched like crazy. I looked like a freak.

I went home and took Benadryl. I just thought it was an allergic reaction. I must have touched something at work, then touched my lip. I'm allergic to peanuts, but this was different. Peanuts make my throat close up and I can't breathe. That didn't happen.

The Benadryl I took had absolutely no affect on me. The swelling of my upper lip continued and so did the hives. By Saturday, the hives calmed down, but my lip remained swollen until Sunday. I refused to leave the house because I looked so hideous. 

By Monday I looked normal and put the whole thing out of my mind. Too much other stuff to worry about, can't think about it now.

Two weeks later, same thing, same time of day, at my desk, but it was my lower right lip that started swelling and my entire body itched, with hives.. Again, I thought it was some weird allergic reaction to something at work.

Today, five days after the last episode, it happened again! This time I was at home, 5 a.m. I hadn't eaten or drank anything yet. I had just got out of bed to go to the gym. I promised myself that I would get back on track with the exercise. As I was dressing for the gym, I started thinking about the project I'm on at work, about a particular problem and how I'm going to fix it, realizing I don't know how. Boom! The tingling in my upper lip, left side, started again, and it started to swell up! Right on queue, I break out in terrible hives on my entire upper body. This time the hives are worse than the last two times.

Okay, I've had enough. I make an appointment for the doctor, and took the day off from work. I took pictures of my lip and my hives with my cell phone to show the doctor. By the time I got there at 3pm, I looked normal again. I showed the doctor the pictures and he was impressed--he said "this is serious". Then he asked me the question I expected, has anything changed in my diet or my personal care products. No to both. Then he asked about my life. I told him a little about my crazy, stressed-filled life. And what does he say? He tells me he is 100% certain that my problem is stress induced. The swelling up of my lips, the hives, all from stress! The prescription, first Zyrtec twice a day to stop the hives and itching, second, I need to relax.

Wow! If that's not a wake up call, I don't know what is. It's like my body said, "hey stupid, you need to slow down and take it easy. You're killing me.". I ignored my body. Again, "hey, YOU...listen to me!". Finally today, with the worst hives so far, "HEY, I'M TALKING TO YOU!". Okay, you got my attention. I hear you!

I tried to think about what is so different in this last month from the previous five months. I handled much worse stress in those five months. I didn't get hives or a swollen lip. True, I almost had a complete mental breakdown several times, but I held it together. Then it hit me. The two things that have really changed in the last four weeks:  my diet and exercise. In spite of all the insanity during those first five months, I managed to stay pretty much on track with my eating and exercise. If I didn't go to the gym, I walked at lunch. I ate healthy foods, although sometimes too much. I got down to 173.

Then I honestly don't know what happened, other than I felt like the worst of it was over and I had been to hell and back. Then I started eating junk, I barely exercised, maybe one or two times a week at the most. I even went a whole week a couple of times without going to the gym at all.

My body has let me know that this is not a good thing. Eating poorly, not exercising, and my body revolted against me. It sure got my attention. My focus now, eight hours of sleep, good food, and daily exercise. These things are a must. They aren't optional.

I can't help but wonder if this was what the outside of my body was doing, what is going on inside my body.

I think it's kind of a miracle that our bodies are smart enough to do something like this to get our attention. I knew things were bad for me, that I wasn't handling the stress well, my eating was out of control, and my exercise was almost non-existent. I just didn't realize things were really that bad. I think I got the message loud and clear.

Postscript: I thought I'd look up the medicine they gave me for the hives before I took it. I thought the doctor said Zyrtec, which you can buy over the counter. I wasn't sure why I needed a prescription. They gave me a prescription for Ranitidine! Which is "Zantac"! Which is for heartburn, not hives. I don't have heartburn, I have hives. They gave me the wrong medicine! The script was sent in by the doctor on the computer (not my regular doctor). It wasn't a hand-written script. I just called the pharmacy and the doctor entered it in wrong. I guess hives...heartburn, Zyrtec...Zantac. Thank goodness this wasn't a serious condition or a dangerous medicine. Just makes you realize that you should always double check your prescriptions before you pop them in your mouth.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I continue to struggle

A favorite blogger of mine has been writing posts recently that I could have written myself during the past few weeks. It's odd because over the past four years of blogging, Lyn and I are often on the same phase of weight loss or weight gain at the same time, weighing the same weight.

I sure don't have any solutions for our situation. I just know that losing weight is hard. Keeping the weight off is harder.

My weight last Friday was 196. I have no idea what I weigh right now because I didn't step on the scale over the weekend or today. I just can't bear to see it.

Life is a struggle for me lately, in all areas.

Work - I'm on a project with a tight deadline. I had to move out of my cubicle into an area where the team can work together, along with the project manager making sure we're staying on track. I've never worked on such an intense project. A lot of it is new for me, with a huge learning curve. It means long hours and short lunches. It's a lot of pressure.

My sister - I don't really need to say a whole lot here because I've said it all before. Being a guardian is a lot of work, and it's job that never stops. My sister had a complicated life. Now it's my complicated life.

My marriage - continues to be hard work. I often wonder, is every marriage this much work? Is it worth it? I've been married 24 years and this isn't the first time I've had this thought.

Then there's the diet and exercise plan that have literally been placed on the back burner of my life. Now I understand when people say they are too busy to count calories or go to the gym or track their food. I feel like I'm on the run all the time. It's a constant barrage of things that need to be done.

I am last on my list, but really, it can't be any other way right now.

Well, this is one depressing post, isn't it? I know lots of people have stress-filled, difficult and complicated lives. I'm just not use to it, and I'm not handling it well.

I had big plans to take a yin yoga/meditation class last week, but I didn't have time. Seems to be my theme lately, I just don't have time.

I'm really tired right now, so I probably shouldn't even post this tonight. I just re-read it and it sounds horrible. A real woe-is-me post, but if I wait until I'm in a happier, better frame of mind before I post, I may just never post again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting back on track is harder than I remember

My weight this morning was 192.6. It's continues to be a struggle to eat healthy, but I haven't purchased any junk food for over a week. I'm good if the food isn't in the house, and the way to keep it out of the house is don't buy it in the first place. I might overeat fruit or have a bigger piece of chicken than I know I should have (if I'm not weighing it you can bet I'm eating too much), but that's not as horrible as trying to eat an entire cake in one sitting.

Somehow, and I'm not sure how it started, I'd be at the store buying healthy food and decide I needed a "little" treat. I deserved it. Life was hard, I wanted, no...I NEEDED a treat. The treat went from one candy bar to an entire cake, then to a shopping cart full of junk food. Wow. How did that happen? I honestly don't know, I let my guard down a few times and boom! I'm back to old eating habits of four years ago.

I feel more in control. I'm eating better and I feel a lot better. Eating crap made me feel like crap. I'm back at the gym, although not every day. I was really consistent for a good 3 1/2 years, going almost every single day to the gym. Then my sister's stroke happen, I became her guardian and my life changed. Now I'm only averaging three times a week. It's not enough. I need to do more. I don't want to do more, but I'm working on it.

Today was an intense day. It started off with a three-hour meeting at work, which turned into four hours (9am-1pm). It was a meeting where I had to really paying attention and participate the entire time. Exhausting and mentally draining.

Then I left work to take my sister to the dentist. This was her first dentist appointment since before her stroke (a two-hour appointment). She has gorgeous teeth, and has always taken really good care of them. I curled her hair, put a little makeup on her and she looked gorgeous.

I almost got myself a $450 parking ticket at the dentist's office. Actually, I did get the ticket, but the "parking official" canceled it after hearing my sob story.

I did the terrible thing of parking in the handicapped spot at the dentist's office to get my sister out of the car and into her wheelchair (I don't have a permit yet). I have never, in my entire life parked in a handicap spot for even half a second. Once my husband pulled into a handicap space at the store to drop me off (many years ago). I was horrified and made him move before I'd get out of the car.

Anyway, it's a small dental office with about ten parking spaces in front and one handicapped parking spot. It was the only spot available when I pulled into the parking lot. I got my sister out of the car, into her wheelchair, then into the dentist's office, and into the dental chair. This isn't exactly an easy feat. The receptionist told me to leave my car parked where it was, even though I told her I didn't have a handicap permit. She said it was fine and they let people park there all the time if they can't walk far.

I went back out to my car to get a book, and the "parking official" as he called himself, had just issued me a ticket for $450 on his little handheld device. As I walked up to my car, I said "you're not giving me a ticket, are you?".  He said yes because I didn't have a handicapped permit. I told him my sister was in a wheelchair and I'd just taken her inside for her appointment. He told me it didn't matter if my sister couldn't walk, but without a handicapped permit, I was breaking the law. I couldn't park there for one second. Then he tried to hand me the ticket. I cried even more (and these were real tears because it just broke me). I tried to explain to him that he had no idea what my sister and I had gone through in the last six months. I was shaking because I was so upset.. He said it didn't matter and he was just doing his job. I cried some more. Finally, I said okay, but I'll go to court on this and take my sister with me in her wheelchair to show the judge she can't walk. Finally, with the ticket still in his hand, he said okay, okay, I won't give you a ticket. But get the permit and don't do this again. I promised him I wouldn't ever do this again. Whew!

The changes in my sister since I moved here down here to Washington are nothing short of amazing. In spite of going through hell these last six months since her stroke, and being 73 years old, I think she's absolutely beautiful. Since I talk about her all the time, I thought I should post a picture of her here. This is from today, right before we left for the dentist (I can do the wheelchair transfers with her all by myself!).

My sister, Joyce

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I am okay.

It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do for one's psyche. The weekend was difficult, with very little sleep because I was worried...about everything! I hate it when I get like that, focusing on every bad thing in my life (and that's a lot right now!).

I slept a solid eight hours last night and although nothing changed during the night, I feel like my old self this morning. Yes, I still have a lot on my shoulders, but I think I can handle it.

The affairs of my sister will calm down eventually. She had a very complicated life when she had her stroke and it's taking a long time to sort through this stuff and get it all straightened out. It's been six months, and I see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I think by the end of this summer I should have most things wrapped up.

Enough about sister, how about me? First of all, I love you guys. I figured I'd post and not hear a word from anyone. I was gone a whole month! Instead, I got a lot of sweet, kind and loving comments. Thank you so much. I will return the favor, as soon as I can sit down and spend a few minutes doing personal stuff on my computer (instead of sister Joyce stuff :).

My eating is back on track (thank God!). I'm down from that 197 weight to 192. Eating healthy, smaller portions, but still not tracking. That's my goal for today, track my food.

Dressed for the gym right now and heading out the door as soon as I push publish on this post.

Thanks again for all your support. I've been a bad blogger, not reading blogs and not posting comments. I've missed you all terribly. I need the blog world. I need you.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Am I okay?

Am I okay? That's a hard to question to answer. I guess you'd have to define "okay".

Life is hard. Lately, my life has been harder than it should be, or at least, harder than I'm use to experiencing.

Since my last post:

I thought my sweet 8-year old kitty, Tommy, a gorgeous black and white short hair, was battling a bad case of pneumonia for the last three months. After five vets and many office visits and tests, two weeks ago he was diagnosed with Stage V Lymphoma. The fifth vet I took him to finally figure why all the antibiotics weren't working for the pneumonia. He told me Tommy only had a few days left. Within twelve hours Tommy had a seizure at 3am as I was petting him. I had to take him to the emergency vet in the middle of night and say my final goodbyes to him. It was horrible.

Last week I was granted permanent guardianship for my sister by the state of Alaska. Sounds like a good thing, right? My sister consumes me. Trying to take care of her financial situation she left behind in Alaska, which is extraordinary, is like having a part-time job. Making sure my sister's physical needs are met, checking on her during the week, talking to her caregivers (occupational therapist, physical therapist, the owner of her home, etc. etc. etc.) is time consuming. Because of the guardianship, I have to document every move I make regarding my sister, every decision I make for her, account for every penny I spend of her money on her many expenses. I have to keep detailed records which I update every day. Some weeks there are as many as 50 tasks I handle on her behalf The Excel spreadsheets I've been keeping are ridiculous. This is required by the state, and it takes a lot of time.

I love my sister, I want her to be happy and well-taken care of, but even though she's in a beautiful adult family home with wonderful care-givers, there are still a lot of tasks to attend to for her. I have no choice in this matter. I couldn't live with myself if I let her become a ward of the state, which was the only other option.

The Vulnerable Adult Order of Protection was awarded by the court last week, against my niece. I knew I had to do this, but you can't imagine how awful it makes me feel, to keep my niece away from her mother. It's necessary, but heart-breaking at the same time.

Work is more stressful than normal. I have a deadline that is set by a government mandate, which means there can't be a delay on this project. It's a very complicated project, and frankly, I'm not sure I can complete my part of it in time to meet the deadline. That scares me.

My eating had been horrible for two weeks. I got up to 197.2. I was terrified and angry with myself. I finally got back on track about two weeks ago and actually was able to cut out sweets completely, started eating fresh fruit and vegetables again. I was feeling great.

Then I came down with a horrible cold a week ago. I stayed home two days, sneezing and coughing. It was just a cold, but I was miserable. I didn't exercise at all last week until Thursday, and again Friday. Then the weekend came and again, my sister came first, I came last. I just didn't have time for the gym.

I spent several hours with my sister on Saturday, dealing with a problem she was having with the new splints she has to wear on her paralyzed arm and leg. It was quite the ordeal, with her crying and screaming. She was extremely upset. I finally figured out the problem, but it took hours. Remember, she talks all the time, but no one can understand her. When she has a problem, she lets me know it, but figuring it out is something else. It requires a lot of time and a lot of patience.

Then again today, we spent several hours together as I took her on a little car trip, just me and her. It was her first car trip since the stroke, almost six months ago. We had frozen yogurt at Gibson's in Tacoma, and then went down to the waterfront for a while, just watching the people. Next, we drove by her new dentist's office (where' we'll be going on Thursday). It was a really good day for both of us. I like doing this stuff with her, but it just takes a lot of time out of my life.

So, what's the verdict. Am I okay? Not really. I'm tired. Worn out. Not exactly feeling "okay". At least not by my definition of okay.

It will get better, I guess. Someday, I'll be okay again.