Gutbuster

A few months back, I had to have an abdominal CT to make sure I didn’t have anything more serious than an exceedingly painful IBS flare. While I didn’t have anything major like a hot appendix or an intestinal blockage, they did find a supraumbilical hernia. I love when I get to add to my list of shit wrong with my body.

For years, I would have periods of feeling like my belly button was stretched, much like when I was pregnant. It gets so stretched, it burns. What used to be periodic has become constant. I thought I had this pain because of my weight but the more I lose, the more pain I have. Even better, now that it doesn’t have as much weight to hide behind, I now have a prominent lump above my belly button.

Thanks to my “migraine” debacle (during which nothing less than four specialists ran a ridiculous number of tests and STILL didn’t find what my one neurologist diagnosed in thirty seconds…not migraines but instead, I have hemicrania continua), we’ve met our out of pocket and deductible expenses for the year. It’s the perfect time to have surgery. Whoo hoo!

The migraine debacle has made me extremely wary of specialists. Having to find a surgeon on my own would be near impossible if it weren’t for healthgrades.com. I typed in “hernia repair” and my zip code and got a list of doctors and their ratings from patients. Now I just have to get a referral from my GP and hope the waiting list isn’t ridiculously long.

Meanwhile, I am spending a lot of time locked away in my house. My headache medication makes me unfit for human companionship. I didn’t think it was possible but apparently I can be a bigger bitch! I hate everyone and just about everything. I’m not sleeping well and when I do sleep, I have bizarre nightmares. My belly button hurts. I’m irritable and mean.

For the moment, the solution is complete isolation. I have a follow up in September and I am hoping my doctor has some ideas about additional meds that can help my mood since I cannot get off my headache med. Even missing just a single dose causes lightning bolt pain through my left eye. I’d like to avoid that.

So I’m knitting. And shopping online. And having services done at my house, like using a mobile dog groomer. I’m also playing the cutest mobile game called My Singing Monsters. It’s a great way to teach Mendelian genetics to kids.

And I’m waiting. It’s the waiting part that sucks.

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Dance With Me

Today was an unqualified disaster. It’s my fault for having expectations and looking for outside validation. On the plus side, I’m able to recognize that it’s my issue and I was able to self-validate enough that I didn’t fall apart.

All week long, I’ve looked forward to attending an art fair with my husband. After I told him that I needed for us to go on a date, he reluctantly agreed to go. We rarely go anywhere other than to lunch and the grocery store on Saturdays, so I woke up excited. I took extra time in the shower, put on makeup, styled my hair, put in my contacts, and spent more than 30 seconds deciding what to wear. In other words, I treated it like it was a date.

I looked damn good today, too. I’ve lost enough weight that I finally fit into my Chicos jeans, one of my weight loss goals. I’m thin enough to be able to close my buttery soft black lambskin leather jacket. I have all new makeup and the proper brushes to apply it. I do not have a single wrinkle on my face in spite of being 46. I felt sexy and beautiful.

He had to work for a bit this morning, so when I was dressed and ready, I texted to let him know. When he got home and came inside to change shirt and shoes, I pointed out that I was in my Chicos jeans, to which he responded, “Uh huh.” I not so passively and only slightly aggressively said, “Wow honey, you look beautiful today and really good in those jeans.” He laughed and said he would just let me compliment myself because I’m better at it. I let that slide because I wanted to have fun today.

It continued with him informing me that he gave up his “people who work on Saturday” free lunch. I was truly appreciative that he would rather have lunch with me than with his workmates that he eats with three to five days a week. At least, I chose to interpret it that way.

We got to the fair and he complained about the music. The music wasn’t part of the event we were attending, plus it was awful, so I let that slide, too. The fair was tiny and we were in and out in minutes, so I suggested we go to a little tea room downtown for lunch. It’s one of my favorite places and their food is incredible. It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive, either. I think $26 including tip is nothing for a lunch date.

He complained about the price. He complained about his sandwich. He did like his soup. Finally, I told him that he was acting like my mother, who could never find anything good to say about the places that I would pick whenever we would eat out. A restaurant would have to be her idea or she would be rude to the staff and bitch about the food.

At that point, I gave up. I ate my salad in silence and tried not to cry as I processed the day in my head. I knew that having expectations was a recipe for disaster, but I thought this was such a simple thing, surely it wasn’t asking too much. We go to lunch all the time and have wonderful conversations, so that should have been the easy part, but it wasn’t. I finished my salad and we left and came straight home where I promptly put on my pajamas and laid down for a nap. Being sad makes me tired, so I ended up sleeping for four hours.

To me, a date with someone with whom I am in a relationship is essentially foreplay. Stimulating conversation with an attractive man is arousing for me. I’ve been having too many fantasies about flirting lately, and I wanted to have an affair with my husband. The entire time I was getting dressed, I imagined how our day would end, but as each moment of the day played out exactly opposite of how I wanted it to go, sex got further and further from my mind.

When he didn’t compliment me when he got home, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I know that he doesn’t understand how nice it is to be sexually appreciated. But I remember other dates with other guys who told me I was beautiful and sexy and looked amazing in whatever outfit I was wearing.

When I fell in love with a relatively pricey pair of earrings ($30 for punched tin ovals), I decided not to get them and walked away. I kinda wished that he would insist on buying them for me, but he didn’t. That was fine as I know money is a touchy subject with him, but I remember other dates with other guys who did insist on getting me whatever little trinket I coveted while shopping together.

When he did not engage in any conversation with me at the restaurant, I did not take it personally. We talk all the time and have great conversations, and a marriage shouldn’t be judged by a single afternoon. I wished he would talk to me about movies (even though he thinks they all suck) or politics or even his new computer parts that he just bought. I know flirting isn’t his favorite thing, but I remember other dates with other guys where the time was filled with flirtatious, sexually charged banter and we couldn’t wait to leave a place and get to somewhere safe to rip each other’s clothes off.

Fortunately, I also remember that I didn’t end up with other guys for all the same reasons that I did marry my husband. He is good, kind, ethical, hard working, and wicked smart. I have no doubts that he loves me, finds me attractive, and wouldn’t mind if I truly wanted to buy a $30 pair of earrings. However, I understand why affairs happen. I understand that desperate desire to feel that falling in love feeling, even when you’re not actually falling in love. I understand wanting to be wanted. At least I know I never, ever have to worry about my husband having an affair though, as he’d never get a second date, or even manage to get to the end of the first one.

Today, I did learn that it is much better for me to go somewhere alone, have a fantastic time, and come home in a great mood. I also learned that trying to push my husband beyond his comfort zone is asking too much, even if it doesn’t seem that way to me. I remembered that looking good is something I should do for myself, not for someone else. I remembered that fantasy is called fantasy because it’s something that’s unlikely to happen, otherwise it would be reality. And I learned to stop waiting for someone to ask me to dance, even if that someone is my husband.

The Road So Far

I am still committed to the low-carb journey, although I have gone up to 45 carbs a day should I want them. At the behest of a couple of friends, one of whom is a GP, I did check in with my doctor. It was time for a full physical anyway. I gave up five tubes of blood and got a tetanus booster that has my arm swollen, knotted, and itchy. Other than my continuing diagnoses of major depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and insomnia, I’m relatively healthy, although I am still waiting on all the blood results.

Of course my doctor recommended I have 30 grams of carbs per meal. I’m not sure I even know how to do that anymore, unless I eat a potato or something. Should my liver panel show any abnormalities I will obviously have to increase my carbs, but in the meantime I’m at half that. We did agree that I would go back on the slivers of Nuvigil (I can only handle 37.5 mg a day) and that I would see my therapist for this depressive episode.

Depression pisses me off. First off, I fucking hate the word, because it doesn’t really describe the feeling. I think “inundation” is a much better word. I feel inundated with emotion, so overwhelmed that I can’t function because I can’t figure out what the next step should be. Besides, it literally comes in waves. I can feel okay one minute, and then burst into tears the next, then five minutes later be fine again.

It’s been a couple of years since I saw my therapist, but I had to laugh when I saw my folder. It’s almost two inches thick. I’ve been seeing her since 2004, which means I’ve shown her more commitment than my first two marriages put together. She was very happily surprised that Ron and I are still married, as we had essentially decided to divorce the last time I saw her.

We spent a few minutes catching up, (Ron’s great, Aub’s going to college in the spring, Matt’s in California, Aub has an apartment, etc…) and then delved into the cause of this current episode. It all boiled down to my major abandonment issues, my anger at my chronic illness, and my relentless yet hopeless search for a parent.

are you my

This baby bird is my soul sibling.

Most importantly, she gave me permission to grieve my losses. It’s okay to be sad, angry, and disappointed. It’s okay to cry and rant and whine. For a while. But she also had me count out all my positives. Leigh, who offers me the most amazing unconditional love and is a constant source of recovery and healing, even though we only see each other once or twice a year and rarely talk otherwise. My husband, who makes me feel worthy and goes above and beyond every single day. My son, who makes me laugh with his antics in spite of being so far away. My daughter who is truly my best friend and staunchest defender. My friend Rob, who has gently reminded me every day that she is here, even when I push her away. I thought I was past the stage of testing people’s loyalty, but apparently, that nasty habit lingers. Today, I decide to stop pushing and start accepting.

Of course, the not so easy thing is the homework. While I obviously have some residual childhood trauma to deal with (again), this time I have to work at an even deeper level. This week’s assignment is to write out who I am. Not what I can do or have done, but who I am. I really don’t know who I am. In a lot of ways, I know who I want to be, and I know who I’ve been but who I am now? That I’m not so sure about.

I asked my friends and got a few interesting answers: caring, strong, survivor, afraid, quirky, fearless, unapologetic… Ugh, I wish I were fearless. I know there have been times when I have been, but that time is not now.

After much introspection and lots of conversations, I think the only thing that today I know for sure is that I am loved. And for today, that’s enough.

Negative and Positive

As a reader commented the other day regarding her experience, this low carb diet seems to be positively affecting my fibro. I am decidedly less sore and the few nights I’ve managed to sleep, I’ve gotten a straight five hours. I still have ridiculous insomnia and my mental confusion is worse, but my pain is less. This morning, I came across a random article talking about a ketogenic diet being used to treat certain types of epilepsy. Hm. Fibro is treated with epilepsy medication and is considered a neurological condition. So why isn’t anyone studying ketogenic diets as a treatment for fibro? I will happily never eat another potato again if it means I don’t writhe on the bed in pain.

Indeed, the mental confusion does seem to be the worst part of this whole experiment. So far I’ve been baffled by a can opener, the television remote, and my knitting needles. While I can live without tuna, and my daughter can turn on the tv for me, the whole knitting thing is kinda pissing me off. Fortunately, if I divert my attention for a few minutes, the confusion passes and I can go back to doing what I was doing, but I’m really glad I’m not in charge of a nuclear reactor or something. I’m seriously hoping that as I increase my carbs each week, I’ll eventually find a happy medium where I am still ketogenic but not so confused.

It bothers me that so few doctors recommend dietary changes. It’s much easier to write a prescription than it is to talk about various diets. I’m incredibly grateful to my rheumatologist, as she is the one who suggested a diet change to battle the yeast. She recommended the Mediterranean Diet as a way to change my gut flora, but I think my yeast was a little more dug in than that. While my current low carb eating definitely has aspects of the Med Diet, the Med Diet is still pretty high carb in comparison.

While it may or may not be diet related, I went into a deep depressive funk for three days this week. Like “stay in the same nightgown and don’t shower” funk. I just wallowed in my misery in various spots around the house and whined at my husband that I hate my life. I don’t really hate my life (generally speaking), and even with my overall depression, it rarely gets this bad. Finally, in desperation for something to cheer me up, I cheated and weighed in a day early. When I saw that I lost 4.5 pounds, it was like an instant happiness injection! I jumped in the shower, scrubbed off three days of grime, and cooked dinner with my husband.

That puts me at a total of 23 pounds lost. Essentially, I’ve had three babies in the last month. While I still have twice that left to go, I’m a third of the way to where I want to be. What’s different this time is that I don’t have any cravings. When Aubrey and I went to Wingstop for lunch, I had iced tea and original hot wings while she had BBQ wings, french fries, and root beer. The entire time we were eating, the french fries were in the center of the table and I didn’t have a single one.

Last night, we had baked chicken for dinner, and I thought I would splurge 4 grams of carbs on a tablespoon of BBQ sauce. But when I read the label, high fructose corn syrup was listed as a sub-ingredient of three other ingredients. I just couldn’t eat it. Instead, I opted for a glass of wine. It was definitely the better choice, although even my dry white wine tasted overly sweet after not having any sugar for so long

Another thing I’ve noticed that absolutely has to be diet related is my Keratosis Pilaris is GONE. My arms, face, and butt are all baby smooth and soft. That has NEVER EVER happened before, even when I was sugar free for a year. Keratosis Pilaris is commonly known as “chicken skin” and looks like goose bumps, usually on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks, and cheeks. I’ve had it my entire memorable life and tried everything to get rid of it, to no avail. I feel a little like a supermodel now, all polished and smooth! The only downside is that at the moment, the cellulite on my ass is soooooo ridiculously visible, I want to cry.

Last but not least, losing 23 pounds has most definitely affected my sex life in a positive way. I’m sure it’s mostly because I just feel better about being naked, but I was noticing a few issues previously that are no longer issues. So yeah, I highly recommend dietary changes as a first run fix for sexual dysfunction in women.

The end of my fourth week is only three days away, so I’m almost done with the one month experiment to see if this would combat my yeast dilemma. I have to say yes, it has. Enough so that I’m willing to stay sugar free and extreme low carb for another month. While I don’t expect to lose another 23 pounds in one month, I do expect I’ll drop another ten or so. I know the weight loss will slow down as I have less and less to lose, but I have plenty of hoarded clothes that haven’t fit in a long time to keep me motivated and on track.

 

Sweet Treat

I’m quickly coming up on the end of my third week (tomorrow!), and after much begging on my part, Ron took me out to Texas de Brazil for dinner. I was a good girl and ate my veggies first, with a big salad, olives, tomatoes, asparagus, and a nice side of goat cheese that was amazing on bacon. I splurged on a piece of cheese bread, but since I didn’t have any other carbs today, I know I was fine. I ate a ridiculous amount of meat, but was still way less than I would normally eat, and this time I concentrated on only getting the stuff I really like, especially the picanha. I almost made a huge error of putting two splenda into my tea, but fortunately, I caught myself. I actually only needed a third of a packet per glass! My tastebuds have become super sensitive to anything sweet, so it takes just a few grains now.

Ron was very nice and didn’t get dessert, since I can’t have any. That did remove any kind of temptation for me, which was probably a good thing. I cannot resist their Brazilian Cheesecake with caramel and chocolate mousse. I still have another eight days before I can start adding anything like that, and even so, I’ll have to keep it at a bite or two, not a full half of a slice. Meanwhile, I’m planning on making my own strawberry paletas with cream, strawberries, and a bit of splenda in the blender, then poured into popsicle molds and frozen.

Now that I’ve made it through the first two weeks and I’ve added way more fat to my diet, I’m finally past all the nausea and severe migraines. It is great to not feel so sick, although now I think I’m getting a cold. I made it to the pool yesterday and swam 32 laps, but the water was cold and the room was freezing. By the time I got home, I was sneezing and today I’m snuffly. But I’m going back to the pool tomorrow to work off some of this meat. It was extra awesome to step on the gym scale and see that number, so that will keep me swimming, cold or no.

All in all, I’m still really happy with this low-carb lifestyle. The fact that I’ve made it three weeks is unprecedented, to say the least! I did go an entire year without refined sugar once, but I still ate potatoes and I went through a period of eating six bags of popcorn a day for a few months. I did lose a ton of weight back then, though. I fully intend to stick to this super low-carb diet until I’ve been yeast infection free for at least three months. Hopefully by then, it will have become an ingrained habit. It is really nice to not have to count calories.

More things on the pro side of this diet: I feel GOOD, like super healthy GOOD! My head is clear and not so foggy, although this morning I couldn’t figure out how to open a can of tuna. That’s to be expected, since I do still have fibro. I have more energy. I’m going to sleep at 11pm and waking up at 8am, and only waking up for a few minutes in the night. I’ve been in a great mood. And unexpectedly, we’re saving a fortune on not eating out, buying junk food, or even buying stuff to make junk food. It’s amazing how much one can save by giving up Starbucks and margaritas!

 

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

A few months ago, I chopped off all my hair. My friend called it “dykeing” myself. I called it convenience. It’s freakin’ hot in Texas and short hair is so much easier to deal with when you spend a lot of time in a pool. However, I’ve let it grow and it’s now at the point where I would think that I should no longer look like a chicken when I wake up in the morning. While we were on our weekend getaway, my husband looked at me and said, “Your hair exploded.” That is indeed kinda what it looks like.

I’m not big on looking in the mirror. I do it when I brush my teeth and when I brush my hair, but even then, I don’t look at my whole face, just my teeth or hair. When I was a kid, my mother beat it into me that looking in a mirror was vain and slutty, so I learned not to do it. I’ve never learned the opposite, so I look at body parts, not my body.

This morning, though, I’ve been installing Rhapsody on my new computer, which required various Windows updates and a couple of restarts. I’m on my bed so there is an east facing window behind me, shining on my extremely reflective screen. While it’s not mirror perfect, it’s close enough. I’m staring at my hair, thinking it’s ridiculous to still be acting this way at this length and that it’s like cutting it chopped off all the “straight” and what’s growing in wants to be curly. I have *never* had naturally curly hair. My hair is thin, fine, and straight as if I’d ironed it. So this curl thing is something new that I don’t quite know how to deal with.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. The point is, I was looking at my reflection and looking at my hair when I happened to glance at my cheeks and see what I thought was a lump. I thought it was a lump because there was a hollow area beneath it, and I don’t have cheek hollows. Correction. I didn’t have cheek hollows. That lump is my cheekbone, right where it should be. That hollow is a contour on my face, right where it should be…but hasn’t been.

I also have a jaw line. And a throat. And only one chin. And that saggy neck that I thought would require plastic surgery that would never happen in order to make it go away? Yeah, it’s gone, too.

I have hip bones. I didn’t see those in the mirror, but I can feel them. My husband is fascinated with them too, which is also pretty cool. I wasn’t expecting that at all (his fascination). My granny wings under my arms are shrinking. I love having swim muscles, especially the shoulder ones. I really love being able to see them without a layer of flab on top. But the most surprising thing of all? My left eyelid doesn’t droop like it has for the past few years. I thought it was just a side effect of my meds, but now I’m kinda wondering. Who would think that losing weight or perhaps just eating less carbs would affect their eyelid??

Don’t get me wrong. I loved my body before. It took me a long LONG time to get to where I do love my body, even with its myriad of imperfections. But this is a new and different love. Well, maybe it’s more of an infatuation on top of the love.

I still have a long way to go to get to my ideal weight, and I know I won’t be dropping ten pounds a week the entire time. But it’s only the beginning of September. That means even at two pounds a week, I could be 28 pounds less by Christmas. It’s been over eight years since I was that small.

Oh yeah, and I haven’t had even a bit of itching ANYWHERE on my body in three days. THREE days!

Is that worth giving up potatoes, tortilla chips, root beer, and pretzels?

Yes. Yes, it is.

(almost) Two Weeks Notice

I’m quickly coming up on the end of my first two weeks of the Candida Diet. After much more research, I’ve added cheese back to my diet, as well as vinegar. The reasons they are banned from the diet just didn’t add up scientifically enough for me. The whole idea of making one’s body more acidic or more alkaline flies in the face of everything I ever learned about homeostasis. I figure if my body chemistry is that far off, there’s something seriously more wrong than just a bit of yeast.

So far, I’ve lost 16 pounds, my tongue is a beautiful pink with no fuzz, and other than some pretty horrific nausea, I’m feeling really good. I had four days of migraine from hell, but both the migraine and the nausea are normal on an extremely low carb diet. I’m hoping that the extra fat from the cheese will help the nausea ease off a bit.

Although I gave my best effort to switch to Stevia, I just can’t do it. It tastes awful to me. I have that weird bitterness gene that picks up flavors most people miss. It’s why I can’t eat green bell peppers. But, the upside of my being sugar free is that after the last 12 days, I now need MUCH less Splenda. I’m now using three in my coffee and only one in my iced tea. Oh yeah, I added black tea back in, too. It was pretty funny when my daughter made me a cup of cinnamon tea a few days ago and used four Splenda, when I normally used five. It was like drinking syrup!! I was expecting a little bit of adjustment, but I certainly wasn’t expecting that much. I think after another week I can probably go down to two packets in coffee/hot tea. I’m planning on using just a half packet in my iced tea today; we’ll see how it goes.

Aubrey and I are going camping for a few days for the first time in ages. We decided to forego the tent and we’re staying in a screened shelter instead. We have to leave there early on Thursday because she goes back to work on Thursday night, so not having to break down a tent will get us out of there faster. Plus the shelters have wooden bed frames, electricity, and a ceiling fan/light combo, as well as tables inside the shelter, making dinner much more pleasant. It also gives us a place to play games at night. Without internet or cell phone service, it’s enforced digital detox for both of us.

Planning extremely low-carb meals for camping is much harder than it might seem. Chili, hamburgers, and all beef hot dogs minus buns are on the list, as are tomatoes and avocados, but salad is a bit hard to keep fresh without a fridge. We normally have lots of fruit, grilled cheese, and of course, junk food, but those are all on the no fly list for me. I’m sure Aubrey will take her pounds of junk food, but she’s on her own with that.

I’m committed to this extremely low-carb lifestyle for the next few months at least.  I’m continuing to take a pro-biotic, and I’ve added oil of oregano to my supplements, as an anti-fungal. I’m not one to dismiss unscientific stuff out of hand, thanks to my experience with fibromyalgia, being gluten free, and low-dose-naltrexone. While fibro is completely accepted now, it was once considered pure hoke. Most doctors don’t believe in using LDN, but without it, I might as well have Alzheimer’s. As for being gluten free, I know what a huge difference it made in my daughter’s life. It GAVE her a life. Before being GF, she was sleeping 21 hours a day, was in miserable pain and vomiting constantly. So yeah, I’m willing to follow something that doctors consider medically iffy.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the weight loss continues. I’ve got an entire wardrobe waiting for me!