Monday, May 23, 2011
I've had such trouble starting and restarting this blog. You know me -- I like to be eloquent with the words. Yet these days words are failing me. Not only can I not seem to write them, but I really can't speak them. I'm having one of my sinusitis/laryngitis episodes that is taking forever to clear up. It's particularly disparaging to me because just around a year ago I had the sinus surgery that held such great promise to end all this nonsense for me. I actually had a complete physical last March. Of course at the time I was feeling just peachy so I found it hard to whine about feeling chronically sick and basically got the clean bill of health. Yet...
I have made it in to work everyday because I have patients that have waited sometimes weeks to get an appointment with me and I can't disappointment them and besides, I have no room in my schedule to move them to anyway. I'm not complaining about the busy schedule. I like to be busy. But no one else can fill in for me. It's major job security which is a good thing but a real pain in the tush when I'm sick!
All the busyness and all the fatigue from being chronically stuffed up and hoarse is taking it's toll on my spark time -- not to mention my diet and exercise. I've gained a little weight but still within the top of my self-imposed comfort zone.
I've really had to do some self-inventory. Think hard about my priorities. Ask myself questions like why do I seem to feel chronically ill? Why the constant fatigue? I'm not depressed - truly! I have a kind and sympathetic spouse who lets me know that he loves me in so many ways. I have a job that I love and gives me the opportunity to meet so many interesting, enjoyable women for whom I can help them improve the quality of their lives.
When I want answers, I do two things first -- pray and head to Barnes & Noble -- in that order!
This past weekend I did just that. My hunt for a book on optimizing my health was no easy task. I wanted a book that would represent valid, proven, medical information -- with a holistic touch. What could I as an individual do to strengthen my immune system and improve my health and well being. My copy of "The Spark" is dog eared from how often I've gone back in and read and re-read for the value of inspiration and motivation for weight loss. I wanted another sort of book like that.
I think that I've found it -- or them rather, as I bought two both by the same guy: Andrew Weil, MD.
The books are: " Natural Health, Natural Medicine" and " 8 Weeks to Optimum Health".
This isn't a book review as I'm only one third into the first book, but so far I'm impressed and optimistic. If any of you in spark world has any experience with these books, please feel free to drop me a note. I'd appreciate it.
In the meantime, I'm trying to rest my voice when not working because next weekend I am headed to my nearest and dearest sister's house in Virginia for a relaxing vacation of girl stuff -- talking, shopping, working out together, spa pedicures, probably a movie, talking, sparking together (she lost 70 pounds!) and did I mention talking? Hopefully my voice will be back to normal by then.
So far, I've made one BIG commitment towards optimizing my health -- logging on to SparkPeople each and every day. Tracking my nutrition and exercise consistently. Staying in touch with all my wonderful spark friends.
I've been leading two spark teams and I'm going to relinquish those leadership roles. I've got too much to do to get my own house in order right now. When I eat right and exercise and get adequate sleep I feel better. My health is my first priority ahead of the numbers on the scale. They'll come down, of that I have no doubt. It's a natural consequence of eating like we should beeating, exercising like we should be exercising, and sleeping like we should be sleeping! Isn't it amazing how that works. We feel better AND lose weight!
I promise to keep you posted faithfully on my progress. Even if the words aren't so eloquent
To those who have taken the time to read this -- I say THANKS! It is such a tremendous comfort to me to know that I'm not trying to struggle on this journey alone. And to my special spark friend -- you know who you are -- THIS SEEDLING IS GOING TO GROW! Thanks for having my back...
Thursday, March 31, 2011
My husband and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful city of New Orleans while I attended a conference for the Society of Urological Nurses and Associates. Our hotel was right down in the heart of the French Quarter. Never having been to the “Big Easy”, I had no idea what to expect. My boss said that like Las Vegas – you’ll either love it or hate it.
We loved it! Everywhere we went from restaurant waiters and waitresses, to shop clerks, to street performers, we found the people to be so genuine and friendly. They give meaning to the phrase “Southern hospitality” that’s for sure.
Before we went, I was nervous about my eating while there. New Orleans is famous for its Creole cooking and those little French puffs of fried pastry coated in powdered sugar – known as a benae’. I’m still trying to get back down to my goal weight after a rebellious holiday!
My husband and I decided first of all that we would definitely sample the local cuisine. You don’t go to New Orleans and order a cheeseburger at the golden arches! We looked for little local bistros and “sample” the local cuisine is what we did.
Breakfasts for me where provided by my conference at an early morning meet and greet. The selections were perfect – whole grain bagels, fresh fruit, and low fat Greek yogurts. They did lay out the benaes’ everyday, but one little nibble and I had no trouble tossing the rest. Waaaay too rich for my morning tastes. We packed protein bars for my husband to eat in the room.
We walked all over the French quarter admiring the beautiful old architecture. We walked down Bourbon Street at night enjoying the hustle and bustle of the night scene and the clubs featuring signs like the one with the huge neon sign proclaiming:
1000’s of beautiful girls and 3 ugly ones!
We spent one evening enjoying some fabulous blues music in a club very typical of most of the clubs – no cover charge, but a one drink minimum. I joined my husband in having a non-alcoholic O’Doul’s beer for a couple of bucks and only 60 calories.
We found the creole cooking to have plenty of vegetables and fresh seafood. Red beans and rice were healthy and delicious. I had a Po-boy with shrimp that wasn’t fried and they graciously left off the tartar sauce. I didn’t want the fries so they kindly brought me a dish of the red beans.
Our most fabulous meal was on our last night – our 35th wedding anniversary. We got reservations at Emeril’s restaurant. I LOVE Emeril! I feared just a little bit that it would be packed and touristy but I didn’t care. I always laugh and say that Emeril can say “Bammm” in my bed any day!
We were pleasantly surprised! The restaurant was understatedly elegant. No traces anywhere of signs of celebrity. The wait staff was unobtrusive yet extremely efficient. My husband had a steak cooked to perfection. I had to try the dish entitled “Mac and Cheese” which was angel hair type pasta with small bits of vegetables and subtle garlic tossed in a creamy cheese like gruyere. Fantastic! A small salad accompanied it made from dark leafy greens and lightly dressed. Of course there was a crusty loaf of French bread but I only had a small slice with a light smear of butter. Since it was our anniversary, we indulged and shared a little piece of heaven – Tiramisu – our favorite dessert and a cup of bold New Orleans French roasted coffee.
I texted my son how thrilled I was to be in EMERIL’S restaurant eating a piece of tiramisu and sipping coffee. His reply? :
“Man you guys ARE old! Eating dinner at 5:30 pm and feeling all wild because it’s after 5 and you are having caffeine”!
Yeah and he should have seen me after walking 7 blocks back to our hotel in high heels! Talk about feeling old!!
The good news is that I came back from New Orleans down 1 pound. The bad news?
My blisters are just now healing up…
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I dedicate this blog to my husband, Jim, to whom I will be forever yours…
March 12th we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary which some would consider remarkable in this day and age with a divorce rate of over 50%. I think that it is remarkable for another reason, and you will too when you consider our story:
The year was 1985. We were in the prime of our lives, young and in love. Married 9 years, we had three beautiful children ages 6, 5, and 3. Jim was in line for a big job promotion that would transfer us to New York where he would manage a manufacturing plant – quite an accomplishment for a 30 year old man.
Then came the day when his drunken antics caused him to fall off the back of a cart at a golf outing with work buddies. It turned out to be the fall that saved his life…
He came home complaining of some vague stomach pain and while my initial reaction was that he got his just deserves, I became concerned when a few days later he became pale, exhausted, and still complaining of the increasing pain. A trip to the doctor prompted an order for an ultrasound to look for the presumed gall stones. What it did reveal was a solid mass the size of a man’s fist on the left lobe of his liver. Apparently the fall had caused the mass to bleed.
Two days and one painful biopsy later, we were delivered the devastating news: CANCER.
We were in a complete daze in the hospital, when a young soft spoken surgeon came into Jim’s room, introduced himself, and started to explain the operation that Jim would need as soon as possible. My mother-in-law cut him off, leveled a stare at him, and in her direct no nonsense manner asked him if he was up to the job.
Looking right back at her he replied confidently that he was. Because God was the surgeon and he was just the tool in God’s hand. We all nodded our heads and Jim silently signed the consent.
The next day, Jim came out of the grueling 8 hour surgery to begin a long, horrendous, recovery process that was fraught with every complication the text books could predict and a few more. My days/weeks were spent shuffling between his room in the ICU and the ICU waiting room where I waited until the next hour when I could spend my allotted ten minutes by his bedside. He was yellow as a banana, and his weight was down to about 120 lbs. on his 6’2” frame. His breathing was becoming more and more labored as pneumonia ravaged his lungs, causing one to collapse. Finally I was summoned from the waiting room and told that they were running out of options as he wasn’t responding to the massive doses of IV antibiotics and it was extremely difficult to dose the medications as they all had to metabolize through his liver that was now precarious and missing it’s left lobe. The team of doctors decided that in one last ditch effort, they would put his body into an artificial coma and put him on a respirator to allow his body to totally rest without even having to endure the effort of trying to breathe. They suggested that I stay by his bedside and not leave if at all possible – bending the usual strict 10 minutes on the hour rule. Later, I would learn that was because they felt very strongly that he was not going to make it through the night and had even put the morgue on stand-by.
My head hurt and my throat was sore from all the tears that I had shed for so many days – how many I had lost count. Just like I had lost track of which relative currently was caring for our children. I can remember though, as if it was yesterday, leaning against his cold arm that was resting on the cooling blanket they had under him to help lower his temperature. I single tear trickled down from my face to his arm and I whispered, “Don’t you die on me Jim Cory. If you do, I’ll have to kill ya!”
God only knows what prompted me to utter those almost ironic words to my dying husband, but I said exactly that. The very next day he turned the proverbial corner and his temperature started to drop as his lungs started to clear. The last ditch effort to give the body a chance to heal itself through absolute, total rest was working. He still had a long road ahead of him, but he steadily progressed from that point on. While in the coma, he was given medication that was supposed to obliterate his memory of the trauma his body was subjected to. Largely, when it was all over, he said that for the most part he didn’t remember much of anything. Just a few vague pieces slipped through. He never alluded to what they were.
Fast forward to 2010. Our children (with the exception of our son that passed away 5 years ago) are grown and we are the grandparents of 6 beautiful grand children .We are successful in our jobs and as much in love as ever. Somehow, after surviving that close a brush of being separated by death, the fact that his shorts perpetually miss the laundry hamper just doesn’t stress me out anymore. I hadn’t given thought to that fateful night in the ICU for some time – until last year in fact when I myself had a bad turn of luck healthwise. I was allergic to several different antibiotics including penicillin and when a nasty sinus infection failed to clear with the usual antibiotics left in the arsenal I could take, the doctor asked me just exactly what my reaction to penicillin was. I said I didn’t know, my mother thought I had a reaction when I was an infant but she wasn’t sure. It might have been my sister, Kaye. So based on that sketchy history, it was elected to give me penicillin. Two hours after ingesting the first tablet, my body broke out into hives and my face swelled so severely my eyes were slits and my lips looked like they had been stung by a swarm of bees. I groped my way down the bannister of our steps into the family room, where Jim was watching television. He took one look at me and said we were going to the hospital. I felt sick. Incredibly sick. Yet I was able to breathe and swallow my saliva ok so I wasn’t panicking.
In the emergency room, I was sick to my stomach, and Jim gently held back my hair as I retched into the tiny basin they gave me for that purpose. I started to cry. I don’t know if I was afraid I’d die or afraid that I wouldn’t at that point. Jim was anxious and man of few words that he normally is, leaned over and whispered: “Don’t you die, Joanne Cory, because if you do, I’d have to kill ya”!
I looked up at him and our eyes locked. We didn’t say another word yet we said a thousand words. A lifetime of connection. His heart to mine.
I want to share a song with you by Michael W Smith entitled “Forever Yours” because sometimes someone else can say it better than us. This song IS our song. Here are the words, but even better is the link at the bottem to listen.
Forever Yours by Michael W. Smith
I’m swept away in this moment, I feel your heartbeat next to mine
My hands are trembling, it’s overwhelming
A whisper breaks through the silence, a vow to test the breadth of time
Until forever, I’ll be forever yours
Not just tonight, I’m by your side
For all your life –
Till death comes between us, and the heavens steal you away
I’ll stay yours forever –
Don’t you worry, don’t be afraid.
The heart can shift like a shadow, the deepest passions start to wane
Stay ever tender, never surrender
Come waltz with me through the twilight, and we will dance as seasons pass
We move together, I’ll be forever – yours
So hold me tight, say you’ll be mine
For all your life
Come what may
So all we have is this moment, but moments come and go so fast
Until forever, I’ll be forever – yours
There is no other, I am forever –
Monday, December 27, 2010
First a little history:
I am a compulsive eater. Every meal, every day, every occasion - I binged compulsively. I never purged. Not even tempted. I thought that "those women" were truly sick. I obsessed about food and would be thinking about what I was going to eat for lunch and supper while I was still eating breakfast. I'm not sure that I ever really tasted my food, let alone savored it, because I ate so fast shoveling it in like I was on a time limit before it disappeared off my plate. I had no concept of what it really felt like to feel satiated and full to a "normal" level. Full for me was stuffed, bloated, on the verge of pain. Sitting around until the next meal wishing I could give birth and get it over with. As a woman who finds security in orderliness and control, I spent years as an adult living with the fear that I wouldn't ever be able to finally overcome that destructive pattern and eat "normally".
For anyone who recognizes themselves in that out of control behavior and still struggles with it, I can tell you confidently that you can learn not only to regain control of your eating, but to actually prefer to - even if you have yo-yo dieted for years like I did.
I've blogged before about how I did it so I won't go into all the particulars here, but it started where it all starts with determination, willpower, and a spirit that says this time you can do it.
After a while and the benefits of your efforts really kick in, your motivation becomes more self-sustaining. Not just at the scale, or in the clothes closet, or amongst your complimentary friends.
Anyone who knows first hand the side effects of compulsive eating, knows that one of the prime targets in the body of a compulsive eater is the digestive tract. We are plagued with heartburn, hiatel hernias, gall stones, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, and ---
chronic intestinal gas. Your intestines are in a constant flux of activity digesting too much food. They never get a rest. Add in the fact that most of that food is in the form of simple processed sugars which ferment in the bowel providing a constant food source for the natural bacteria that lurks in the depths causing them to multiply more rapidly than college kids on a mexican beach during spring break. That bacterial overgrowth produces even more gas.
To put it bluntly - compulsive eaters belch and fart more.
It isn't just the increased weight -- a big, but muscularly strong person who eats reasonable amounts at a reasonable rate, produces far less gas. When you throw in all the carbonated soda pop that many compulsive eaters wash it all down with, you triple the gassy effects.
When I am eating reasonably, I rarely pass gas. Even with increasing the fiber in my diet, eating lots of crustiferous vegetables like cauliflower, and beans, I don't have an issue anymore.
I find that I love having a nice, calm, GI tract. I love savoring tastes. I love it when my "appestat" produces that just starting to get full feeling and I can set my fork down for good BEFORE I feel bloated, stuffed, ready to give birth. I truly do. And while I know that the compulsive eating behavior is like a beast in hibernation, I feel confident that if or when it threatens to rear it's ugly head, I am NOT powerless to overcome it.
In fact - I went through an episode recently - thus this embarrassing but true tale:
I recently broke out with a bout of the shingles. If you've had them, you know how painful they can be. Luckily I work with physicians who were able to start me on treatment immediately so I could avoid risking any long term "post herpetic neuralgia" - chronic pain in the affected nerve track. The treatment included a weeks worth of anti-viral medication, heavy doses of prednisone (steroids) for three weeks, and narcotic pain relievers. I am certainly no stranger to taking prednisone. I have taken it for everything from herniated disks, to asthma and allergic reactions. I never understood the fuss people made about the side effects. You'll be starving and won't sleep I was told. Never happened. But then again, I was never on this high a dose. Nerve pain can be particularly difficult to circumvent so they blast you with the steroid anti-inflammatory bomb right off the bat.
Well let me you -- I now know what all the fuss is about! I laid wall eyed at night for hours at a time. Not even the narcotics helped me sleep. And the BEAR - my compulsive eating beast came blinking out of the cave roaring! Right at Christmas no less. I fought for some sort of control, but with the shingles pain, I was unable to exercise which is probably my prime coping mechanism. I didn't panic. I recognized it for what it is and just kept reminding myself of my wise mother's saying - "This too shall pass".
Along with the roaring beast, came the roaring digestive activity. Thank goodness I was on vacation from work. Not just because of the discomfort. To even shop in public or have my nails done, I'd go home feeling like I'd done the BUTT MASTER video for 24 hours straight!
Not just noisy, blustery gas. The kind that could clear out the entire shoe section of Kohl's (thankfully I was at the Kohl's across town...)
I went to my daughter's house Christmas eve and if you read my last blog, was anticipating a meal of cuban grilled salmon. She actually had a nice South American meal of guacamole' and chips with - GASP - black bean salsa, spanish rice, cheesy fried corn, and the salmon. She even baked some wonderful cheese stuffed pork chops for the carnivores amongst us. Then topped it off with a fabulously rich lemon coconut cake. While helping her get ready for dinner I shoveled in chips and salsa at an alarming rate. I had already stuffed myself at a Chinese buffet for lunch where she politely cocked an eyebrow and asked if I was Ok?
In the meantime I found a great "cover" -- my two year old grandson, Jude. While we were cooking, he played in and around the kitchen and his mother asked him several times "Jude did you poopy"?
"No", he would protest indignantly while she pulled out the back of his diaper for a peek all the while he silently eyed me with those wise eyes that seemed to say why don't you pull out the back of GRANDMA's pants!
When I finally laid down my fork after the second piece of cake, it was de' ja' vu. I pronounced that I felt FAT, BLOATED, AND DISGUSTING!
"Mom" my daughter exclaimed. "Don't say that in front of the kids - especially F-A-T"! She went on to explain that she didn't want them to grow up with warped feelings about their body image. She is right, of course, so I kept to my suffering in silence.
After clean up, I joined my husband in the living room and the after effects just kept rolling out. "Oh my God"! What smells like all eight of Santa's reindeer just dropped more than toys on the roof"???
"Scuz me" I mumbled, "Toots on steroids".
"No wonder Mark McGwire isn't getting in the hall of fame - if that's what steroids do to you" he replied tartly.
Non-plussed I reminded him that he was probably just jealous. But inside I was ashamed. Somehow before when I lived day in and day out with the after effects of compulsive eating, I must have become numb to the loss of dignity.
My daughter joined us to cuddle up on her big sectional sofa to watch the children open their new Christmas Eve pj's. Almost like holding your breath -- I pinched, I squeezed. My head swam like I was going to explode -- until I did.
My daughter whipped her head around accusingly and cried "Oh Mom - that is gross and disgusting"!!
My sweet, precious, grand daughter looked up while pulling on her footie jamas and whispered giggling "But not F-A-T, Grandma"!
Christmas day I was able to start weaning down from the prednisone, and with the lower dose, the beast is once again heading sleepily back into the cave to rest. I am back to exercising, and pushing myself away from the table when those first feelings of fullness start to creep in. I'm confident because I really do know and believe that thin feels better than fat tastes.
I'm feeling more in control and that's a gift -- but not one that I'm likely to take for granted.
Or the others around me for that matter....
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
The other night I was putting the finishing touches on my homemade Christmas decoration for work. The contest: make a creative homemade Christmas decoration or ornament using at least one item from your work area. Tricky assignment for me who works with women who wet their pants...
But I rose to the challenge and turned a specimen pan (the kind that slips under a toilet seat and collects urine) into a hot tub for Santa and Rudolph complete with a rectal probe Christmas tree.
Anyhow, while cursing the fact my probe tree wouldn't glue to the plastic pan (suture saved the day) my daughter text messaged my phone out of the blue --
Her: I'm a plescatarian now
I sighed with relief. We raised her Lutheran and she turned Catholic when she got married. I was Ok with that. I mean I always considered being Lutheran kind of like being Catholic Lite. But a couple of weeks ago she announced she was going to be Buddhist. "Relax", I told my husband. "She is newly divorced and just rebelling against anything her ex-husband participated in. It won't last long". I texted her back --
Me: I think that you will find it fits you better than worshiping Buddha. What is it? A cross between a Presbytarian and an Episcopalian?
Her: It's not a religion, Mother, and yes I'm still studying Buddhism. I just don't eat meat anymore, only fish.
Her: I can't bring myself to eat anything that caused suffering to another being, but I can't give up sushi.
Me: I wasn't aware that fish were offered a valium when pulled from the water....
Her: So we'll be eating Cuban grilled fish when you are here Christmas Eve. I'm starting a new tradition and each year the kids and I will adopt a new country to study and enjoy the cuisine. They can eat turkey blah blah at their dad's house.
Suddenly the memory of the last time I talked my husband into taking me to a pricey seafood restaurant sprang to mind. He doesn't really care much for fish, but can tolerate shrimp once in a while. The first thing he said when we entered the restaurant was "It smells like fish in here"!
"Really? What was your first clue"? I replied a little sarcastically.
I noticed when we were seated and perusing the menu that he was beginning to look a little pale. He shut the menu abruptly and asked me to just order him some shrimp. I got the Chilean sea bass. We hadn't taken two bites of our entrée when he suddenly stood up and bolted for the door. I summoned the waitress to box up our remaining food, paid the bill, and left only to find him throwing up all over the front steps of the restaurant. I saw people turning around in disgust and walking back to their cars. I knelt down beside him and asked couldn't he have made it to our car - or at least some place - somewhere away from the FRONT steps? All the while I was waving my styrofoam box around his head. He looked up at me and proclaimed:
"EXCUUUUUUUSE ME FOR BEING SICK! AND DON'T EVEN THINK THAT YOU ARE TAKING THAT SMELLY FISH INTO THE CAR"! I chucked the $25.00 Chilean sea bass into the bushes...
I texted my daughter back --
Me: You will cause your father to suffer.
Her: He can grill a steak. I'm trying to establish my own traditions. Humor me. PLEASE
I broke it to my husband, hollering down the stairs to where he was watching TV:
"Your daughter is a plescatarian now".
"You were right" he replied, "The whole Buddhist thing was a phase"
Oh little does he know....
Despite the knowledge that my Christmas dinner would not be my white wine and butter basted turkey with twice baked sweet potatoes, I rustled up some Christmas spirit as I finished my decoration and started writing a little poem to go with it. After all, I thought, Christmas is about celebrating Christ's birth with your loving family. Not about what we eat.
Twas The Day After Christmas
Twas the day after Christmas and Santa was done.
It was time to relax. It was time to have fun!
So he filled up the hot tub and called, "Come on Mrs. C"!
As he sank into the bubbles -- it was pure ecstasy!
He closed his eyes and laid back letting his thoughts scatter
When all of a sudden he heard a great clatter!
Hooves on the hot tub -- right before Rudolph jumped in --
Landing with a splash right up to his chin.
"Oh no"! Santa cried. "You're not invited"!
But Rudolph narrowed his eyes and refused to be slighted.
"Hold the phone, Fat Man -- I seem to recall
A certain someone promising me ANYTHING at all
If I'd guide his sleigh that foggiest night"!
At that Santa laughed and said, "You are Right"!
"You not only saved Christmas, but therefore my rear,
So enjoy a good soak, Rudolph my Dear".
And to all who are reading this, I have one thing to say ---
Ho Ho Hope that you have a GREAT holiday!
(Even if it means eating Cuban grilled fish....)
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