“A health moment I regret…”
Write about alternative treatments / regimens / medicine. What do you support? What is crazy?
I’m choosing the first prompt because if I choose the second one I’m afraid I’ll alienate a whole bunch of folks. I don’t want to get all confrontational. I think it’s a matter of personal choice. I think lots of things out there are crazy. I support PEOPLE, not regimes or treatments. Some people I care about might make different choices than I do. Some people think I’m crazy because I take pharmaceutical medications. We all have to do what we decide to do.
So… a health moment that I regret? Hmmm.
I regret waiting so long to take care of my health. That wasn’t one moment, but a series of a million moments that stretched into years. I regret waiting, knowing that I wasn’t in the best of health. I was in my forties and I thought I was OLD. That’s why I was always exhausted and out of breath, why I had chronically painful knees and back. I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs without wheezing. But I wasn’t old. I was overweight and sick. I regret having blinders on. I regret not wanting to see what was going on inside me.
But.. it’s never too late to take the blinders off.
Questions I have for for other patients OR
Write about: Life and Death
It might seem melodramatic to say that losing weight and getting more active is a matter of life and death for me, but I think it is. I was on a downward spiral when I first started this blog. I had gone to Weight Watchers many many times in the past, but I didn’t think it was life and death. I thought it was skinny jeans or a high school reunion dress. So it didn’t matter much to me. Looks weren’t important. I thought, it’s what’s inside that matters. What I didn’t realize was that inside, my high blood pressure was out the roof, my lipids and blood glucose were out of control. THAT what was going on inside while I was scoffing at people who wanted to wear bikinis. It isn’t just about that.
It took realizing that it IS all about life and death. I can have a good life, or I can have a shorter, more difficult life. I know I don’t have 100% say. There are genetics and other factors to consider. But I also can lean towards the life part of it.
It wasn’t until I realized that my weight, my activity level WERE as important as life and death that I decided to do something about it. I’m glad it wasn’t too late.
“I want to change THIS about healthcare…”
Write about your advice for someone caring for a patient with your condition
Oh there is so much I want to change about healthcare.
As a health care provider, I’d say I want to change the insane amount of paperwork and bureacracy that it takes. I love love love seeing my patients. But the hours and hours I have to spend DOCUMENTING things in often redundant and irrelevant ways makes me crazy. I hate having to spend hours figuring out what kind of insurance (or not) a person has, and how this effects what I can’t or can’t do with or for them. This is so maddening. I just want to do what they need and not force it to be more or less depending on their insurance. Although Medicare is good in many ways, it’s also stupid in others. For example we only get paid if we see someone for a minimum of 5 visits. If they only need one or two, we either have to eat it, or we have to see them unnecessarily. This is just ridiculous. And then in other cases we can’t see someone as long or as much as they really need. It’s maddening.
As a patient, how nice would it be to just have a uniform way of getting health care. I love the little health post model they used to have in Nicaragua back in the day. Or in Cuba. (yeah! Socialized medicine!) You could just go to a small health center in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD – like literally within a few blocks. And see people who know you and your neighbors. If it’s more serious, you go to a regional or national center. End of story. All paid for. No cards or forms or insurance. If someone (like me) has a pre-existing condition, take care of them, don’t deny them healthcare. JUST DO THE DAMN THING.
Writing Prompts: Health Activist Soapbox.
OR Write a #ListOf3 Things that you’re thankful for / excited about / or inspired by
I really thought I was going to write about my three things today, and maybe I will as a post script. As late as yesterday, I thought I had nothing (or not much) to get on a soapbox about, but now I realize I do.
Last week, I was struggling with a bout of (pre-)shingles. I felt as if my bra strap was filled with burning thumb tacks. It was hugely uncomfortable, especially when I was driving. Which I do a lot. Any little bump in the road sent an electric shot of hot pain through the right side of my upper back. It was killer, and I was terrifying and depressed that it was only going to get worse. My back was going to break out into oozing pustules of painful, itchy yuck.
I had heard vaguely of shingles before, but I thought that they were something only suffered by Old People. I didn’t get the vaccine.
But a couple of weeks ago, I started feeling this… weird discomfort. It was limited to a very specific part of my body, as we learned in PT school, a determatomal patch. When I went to my trainer I mentioned this pain. I said, it’s not a muscle kind of pain. It’s my skin—or rather, UNDER my skin.
This is exactly what shingles is. It’s a dormant chicken pox virus that hangs out, sneakily, for decades, and then sometimes fifty or sixty years after the first outbreak, it wakes up! And attacks with a renewed and very painful life. Childhood chicken box tends to be itchy, but adult chicken pox hurts like hell.
This went on for about a week and steadily got worse. But nothing to be seen on the surface at all. After a week I went to see my doctor. She said it sure sounded like shingles. And that the only way of knowing was to take antiviral medication. If it got better, then it was probably shingles. And if it got worse, then we would have ruled shingles out and we could go on to figuring out other things.
For the first two days on the antiviral meds, the shingles pain seemed to get worse. I was getting depressed and frantic. But then it stayed the same. And then, slowly, it began getting better. And better. And now it feels pretty much normal.
I never got the rash. I WAS SPARED!
So what is my soapbox about today? It’s about… dealing with stuff EARLY. This happened with my diabetes when it was still in the Pre- stage. And I swear that this is one of the reasons it is still in good control. My endocrinologist echoes this. She says that if you catch diabetes before it has gotten to a severe state, then it will progress at a much slower rate than otherwise.
This just happened again with the Pre-Shingles.
I can’t tell you how many times people say, “I’ll just wait and see what happens.” Ie., I will see how bad it can REALLY get. Before getting it checked out. But the problem with that, is that if you wait until something gets REALLY BAD, then the damage is already done. You’re already going to be badly messed up.
I really feel like I dodged a huge, nasty, terrible bullet with this one. I’m staying with my aunt and uncle in laws this week. Their sister-in-law had shingles. It was horrible and painful and spread to her eye and blinded her. Seriously. BLIND in one eye. I am so very grateful I caught mine in time.
The second thing I am on my soapbox about it, take your medicine. Medicine is not inherently evil. A lot of people I know are all, “I don’t like to take medicine.” Who does? Sometimes medicine has terrible side effects. I myself admit that I did not take the Lyrica samples that my doctor gave me for nerve pain. Partly because I was holding out for it to get REALLY BAD (which it thankfully never did) and partly because I read that a side effect is: weight gain. Hahaha. Which I knew I did not want. So sometimes we have to choose.
In this case, though, I am very very grateful that I took this ginormous blue horse pill three times a day. I feel like it spared me an awful situation. I’m taking them until the bottle is empty.
So that’s what my (unexpected) soap box is about today:
Get it checked out in the very early stages, whatever it is.
Take your medicine.
Bonus blogette (second prompt):
I’m thankful for my doctor and my medicine.
I’m excited to be re-joining Team in Training, this time with the Run Team (my first time ever!) starting next weekend. I will be training to do the Oakland Half Marathon with my team in March, but also for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January.
I’m inspired by Juniorette, my daughter, who just ran a sub-2 hour half marathon at the US Half Marathon in San Francisco yesterday. I’m so proud of her! She is a rock star. We’re going to be doing the Tinkerbell Half together and all I can say is she is going to be waiting a LONG time at the finish line for her mama.
Writing Prompts: Disclosure post. How did you decide what to share? What do/don’t you share? OR Write about what’s in your bag / purse / backpack every day
I don’t think anyone is really interested in the contents of my bag or purse, so I’m skipping that one.
Disclosure. Ahh. Well, in the interest of full disclosure I’m going to disclose that I don’t disclose everything. I’ll be honest. Sometimes when I am making poor choices regarding my health, I don’t write about it. Instead I just won’t say anything, often until after I’ve “recovered” myself and then I might write about it retrospectively.
It’s hard to write about things we don’t feel good about, especially when we are in the midst of doing them. It’s so much easier to write about crossing the finish lane of a race, than writing “I’m lying on the couch watching multiple episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix.” It’s easier to blog about a great healthy recipe than “I just snarfed down half a jar of peanut butter.” Right?
There was a period of time when I was taking pictures of, and then blogging, every single thing I ate. This went on for a few months. I have to say, it was probably one of the healthiest periods of my life. Because I was committed to one hundred percent full disclosure. I didn’t eat mass quantities of peanut butter or chocolate because I knew that if I did, I was going to have to broadcast it visually throughout the internet. So it gave me pause, and made me really fully consider all of my choices. It made me think, Do I want to share this bite/plate/meal with the world? And if I didn’t feel good about that, I didn’t eat it.
Looking back on it, maybe I need to take up that practice again. It was a good one, and I learned a lot from it. Because it’s in periods of “hiding” that I tend to do things I don’t feel good about.
I have had even more intense negative feelings about Pilates as I’ve had about yoga. I think both of those things make me feel really inadequate. I feel like I am bad at them, because I am super inflexible, and getting more so as the years go on.
Which is probably why I need them.
I took a couple of Pilates classes a few years ago and ended up in tears. I hated every single minute of those classes. EVERY. They were uncomfortable and made me feel just like a big huge failure. I swore to never go back. Plus, the word “Pilates” sounds like the word “Pilate” to me, which is all about betrayal, right?
But recently, I’ve been having more hip and back pain due to super tight, and I mean SUPER TIGHT muscles. I can’t sit upright with my legs extended. I can’t touch my legs below my knees, let alone my toes. I know that I need professional help when it comes to increasing my flexibility. It’s one of those catch-22 types of things. I am inflexible because I don’t do things like yoga, but I don’t do things like yoga because I am inflexible.
Recently I have been thinking about finding a one-on-one Pilates teacher and working on those machine things. I think I have this notion that I need to get stretched out, like on a medieval stretching machine (drawn and quartered?) and I need HELP to do so. This recent yoga challenge was a real eye opener. Part of me wanted to run for the hills and swear (once again) that I would never EVER do such a thing again, but then part of me knows how much I need it. If I keep going like this I’m going to be shaped like a chair for the rest of my life.
So. Gulp. That’s my new goal for… umm… sometime before the end of 2012. I will investigate and find a private Pilates instructor, someone who can help me, maybe, one day touch my toes.
I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least – and it is commonly more than that – sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. ~Henry David Thoreau
Day 2 – Friday, Nov. 2 Write about the weirdest thing about your health OR Find a quote and use it as inspiration
I’m not so sure what is weird about my health, so I’m going with prompt #2.
Today I woke up in this little cottage in the North Carolina woods. It’s my third flying trip in three weeks, and I was a total grump about getting on that plane. It really stressed me out to leave my work, my complete mess of a house, and numerous obligations to come on this family trip. Back when we planned it, it sounded like a good idea – to visit Mr. McBody’s aunt and uncle (whom I adore) at their home near Asheville, North Carolina.
And as it turns out, it was a VERY good idea. It has already been way worth the stress of wrenching myself out of my life yet once again. Because the last two trips were “busy” trips – one for a conference and to visit friends, and the second to visit Juniorette up at her college. They were bustling and busy and stimulating and GREAT, but also kind of exhausting before, during and after.
This trip? It almost brings tears to my eyes to realize how perfect it is, and how much I needed it. I am, as is no secret, a very very social person. I love meeting up with people at all of my beloved COMMUNITIES. I thrive on community – at Fitbloggin, at Weight Watchers, my adoption peeps, my writer buddies. But what might not be as well known is that I absolutely thrive and need solitude. I NEED IT.
Right now I am sitting at this little table in this little writers’ cottage (normally inhabited by Uncle McBody). It is a freaking DREAM. I am happy. I am beside myself with happy! Outside it is fall and the leaves are trembling in all of my favorite autumn colors. I can hear critters shuffling through them outside my window. Mr. McBody, up in the main house, is engaged in endless conversation with Uncle (which they both love) and my mother is utterly content with Auntie – watching the birds come to the bird feeder, patting the sweet cat, and dealing with the antics of the mischievous dog.
And I am here in the cottage, alone. Exactly where I want to be, doing what I most love to do.
This morning, I took a beautiful 4.1 mile run through the autumn countryside. It was crisp and cool and gorgeous. I was so happy.
We shared a lovely, healthy lunch. A veggie salad followed by two squares of dark chocolate. I like how these people live! (can I mention again how much I love them)
And now… quiet. Ahhh. I can actually think. And rest. And write. And I know that days/weeks like this are as crucial to my health as good food or exercise. I need to re-charge. I need to have no sound but the ticking clock on the little yellow stove.
Back in the day, I used to go to writing retreats a lot more. I was lucky enough to be granted fellowships at colonies like MacDowell, Blue Mountain and Hedgebrook. My longest time away was eight weeks, and man… it was heaven. My mom came to stand-in and help with my children, and everyone thrived. (that’s a whole OTHER topic that I won’t go into right now, how some people villainized me for “abandoning” my children to the care of (gasp!) their FATHER and GRANDMOTHER – but you know? they’re wonderfully functional young adults now, no scars to be had from THAT anyway, thankyouverymuch) Ironically, it’s been tougher to get away now that I have a job and a mother who is harder to leave than my children were.
Be that as it may. Even being here less than 24 hours has brought home to me the absolute necessity of finding and making time like this. It’s as important as sleep, or air.
Do you like or need to be alone? How do you find time for it?
Why do I write about my health? Why do I blog about health? The two questions are interchangeable, because I think if I did not blog about my health, I wouldn’t be writing about it. The blogging, ie the public conversation, is a necessary element.
I started this blog on the day that I first doubted my health. When I felt that my health had betrayed me, or that I had betrayed it. I was alone and afraid. I knew from other trials in my life that writing was a way to find my way through frightening territory.
I don’t know who or what I would be if I could not write. I first began writing imaginary stories, illustrated ones, about girls with cats and men with hats, when I was about six. When I was ten, I started keeping my first diary, the bona fide kind with a miniscule key and gold edged pages. I wrote in Harriet-the-Spy type composition books and then thick black Chinese notebooks with fine lines and thin paper. I have never not written, ever since I learned what writing was.
On the day that I learned that I probably had diabetes, I did not think it would be good for the blog. I was terrified and ashamed. I desperately wanted to talk about what had happened, but I did not want anyone I knew to know what I was grappling with. I could not bear the thought of looking anyone in the face and telling them that I had probably eaten and slogged my way into ill health.
As I always do when I am feeling desperate or anxious, I turned to writing. Why not just write in a secret journal and keep it under my bed? Why not use my already conversational blog? Because I wanted to talk to people, but I wanted to do it from behind the dim curtain of a confessional. I wanted to discuss my predicament, but while wearing a paper bag on my head.
And so I began this blog. A blog in which I could express my fears and worries, and a vehicle for finding other people who had traveled this same path. I needed companions, but not the same companions I had known my whole life. I needed: though I didn’t know it even existed at the time – the healthy blogosphere.
I have met other people with diabetes. Other people who almost have diabetes. People who have lost weight or can’t lose weight or lost weight and then gained it. People who are struggling to get off the couch or who are training to finish an Ironman triathlon, or their first 5k race. I have read the words of people who have made me cry and throw virtual embraces into the air, hoping they will land on a real human.
My blog is no longer secret or anonymous. I have met other bloggers, and my nonblogging friends have come here to see how I am doing, or to express their own thoughts and feelings about their health. It is a place where I can be seen.
This blog gave me my health. It gave me a place to say, “My health is not so hot,” and to say, I feel better than I ever have. It gives me a place to be honest, and vulnerable, and discouraged and hurt and victorious. It’s not just about my health – it IS my health.
I’ll never forget the first time I did the Big Blue Test. It involves taking one’s blood glucose, then exercising for 14+ minutes, then taking it again. Simple. I first did it the first year I was diagnosed with diabetes. I had never done this particular before-and-after test before, and I remember my blood glucose going down a LOT after exercising. It was such an eye opener and it was THE thing that helped me make the direct connection between activity and health. MY health.
Last year I was fortunate enough to participate in the Big Blue Test video promoting exercise for people with diabetes. It was so much fun, such and honor, and to this day I do not fail to get goosebumps when I hear that song. This year’s video is pretty darn cool, too!
The deal is that every day between now and November 14 (World Diabetes Day) – you can take the test at the Big Blue Test site. You don’t have to have diabetes in order to help people with diabetes!Each test done will mean a donation toward much needed supplies for people with diabetes.
This morning I put on my BBT T-shirt. I tested, then got on the elliptical in my garage for 22 minutes, then tested again. The drop isn’t as huge as it was the first year, BUT that’s because I ate an apple with peanut butter less than an hour beforehand and I can tell you that without the exercise, it would have been a lot, LOT higher. So YEAH exercise, and YEAH Big Blue Test.