Sunday, August 31, 2014
So it's been a year. In some ways it seems that it can't possibly have been that long but mostly it just seems like it has to have been longer. Not in a bad way... in a "this is just how I live and completely normal" kinda way. I can't imagine not eating this way. Yesterday my 18 year old, Harmoni, saw some horrible food advertised on tv and said, "I sometimes wonder why we ever wanted to start eating like that to begin with. Now it feels like I should have always wanted to just surround myself with fruit and salad and juice. Why would I NOT?!" Made me a proud and happy mom, I'll tell you that. (You should hear her go OFF when pharmaceutical commercials come on. LOL)
So on my one year anniversary I completed a 5K with my gorgeous and amazing oldest daughter, Bonni. It was literally surreal. This was me, Natalie, at a 5K in the late August heat! I won't go all into just how sick and in pain I was one year ago, I described that pretty thoroughly in my early posts. We all know I was headed for a wheelchair and an amputation and not long for the world the way I was headed last year. This post is my victory song. This post is about JOY. But standing there in the heat, waiting in line for my packet for about 2 hours, the old Natalie couldn't have even been outside on a day like that much less on my feet the whole time. A year ago my main focus when out in public was to remain as invisible as possible. I didn't want to subject anyone to noticing me any more than necessary. As you can see, that doesn't exactly describe me now;)
The little glow tubes we made our glasses and necklaces out of came in our packets but they were duds. No glowing:( So I bought the dreads and the bracelet and got my face painted. We then had another hour to wait in 95 degree heat in a big park for them to start lining people up for the start of the race. So we go looking for someplace to get some water. Well, no luck. They only sold beer. At the 5K. In AUGUST. No joke. I am thinking of writing to them about that because that is dangerous. Most of us brought a bottle of water but only one. We assumed water would be available at a 5K! That is not only foolish but dangerous. Thankfully I am very conscientious about staying well hydrated. The only water available that entire hot afternoon and evening (nearly 5 hours altogether) was one 12 oz bottle at the halfway point and one at the finish line. And many people stayed for the after party as well so even longer for them with, I'm sure, plenty of beer:/ But enough griping about that. Once it got dark, they lined everyone up at the starting gate and boy were there a LOT of people! They had people start in waves and since I'm pretty slow compared to most of these youngsters, we joined the last wave - wave 6. So that means we stood in line for another half hour. LOL In my old life I was extremely claustrophobic and a bit agoraphobic and really, really needed my personal space. I couldn't stand to be in big crowds; couldn't stand to be bumped and jostled. I would have full blown panic attacks. But there I stood in the middle of the road with hundreds of people crowding up to the starting line and all I could do was thank God for bringing me there. For allowing me to fulfill the dream that began a couple of years ago when my Bonni took up running and, one day after watching the Biggest Loser, she said to me, "Wouldn't it be cool if we could do one together some day?" Inwardly I wept because I fully believed that it would never be possible. I knew how rapidly I was declining but I hadn't told my children. It would become obvious to them soon enough. But my God wasn't done with me yet. And when he placed the way before me, I took it without hesitation and guess what...
There you have it. My celebration of my rebirth. My declaration to the world that I am back. That August day in 2013 when Fat Sick and Nearly Dead popped up on my suggestions in Netflix, I knew immediately that everything was about to change. I NEVER EVER took pictures of myself. But I took one that day. I had my kids help me out to the yard and I took a picture. I knew I would need the proof one day of how far I had come. I knew I would need to remind myself from time to time of just how bad off I was. I usually didn't write doom and gloom in my journal but I had written very openly of my despair just the week before. God knew I would need to remember just how far I had sunk into that despair. The way was prepared before me in so many big and small ways. It is really amazing to look back on.
I still have a long way to go. Anyone want to put money on how far I will go by next August? I'll be riding horses again on a regular basis I can promise you that. I'll be completing more 5Ks with and even without my daughter and this time I will run them the whole way. Me with the tore up, bone-on-bone knees and the leg with damaged circulation that would need to be amputated and TWO crippling bone diseases in my back WILL be running 5K. Running is actually starting to feel good to me now so I know I'll get there. I feel like I have probably lost about half the weight I will eventually need to but I know that as long as I keep my tunnel vision locked on my health that the weight will take care of itself. Over the past few months there have been periods where I maintained my weight loss for a while and then got into "reboot mode" and lost some more and then maintained for a while again. How fantastic and liberating to know that I have the tools I need to do both. To lose and to maintain.
I knew I would need to put together a new progress picture when I hit one year. My last one was done at about 9 months I believe. I was a bit worried I would feel let down as would my friends and family since I haven't lost all that much weight in the last 3 months. I don't know exactly how much since my scale quit working and I'm not going to replace it for a while. I need to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and focus on health and joy instead of numbers on a scale. But I dutifully went into the bathroom to take my progress picture. As I was taking it I thought, "I should probably change into some nice tight jeans to hold that gut in.... except my jeans are all baggy so I'd have to borrow some from my daughter, Gini. ... Oh ugh that double chin is just never going to go away... Wow my hair has gotten long!" And then I looked at the picture. I pulled up the picture next to that one I took last year and I wept. I look like me again. I am excited about losing more weight, sure. Big time! But I really have to stop under-valuing what I have already done. A few observations... my hair has NEVER grown very fast. I couldn't believe how much it had grown in that year. And because of hypothyroidism, I didn't have any outer eyebrows at all and now they are coming back! And best of all... sorry if this is TMI, my boobs stick out further than my gut again! Been a long while for that!! LOL
So even though I had intended for that to be a test run and I would fix my hair and put on cuter clothes and then take the one I would share with people, I just used that one. It's real. It's me. And for today I'm 100% happy with that. Now bring on year number 2! Life is good on da juice!!!
Thursday, July 03, 2014
So let's review. Last August, I was writing goodbye messages to my kids in my journal and challenging The Almighty to finish up anything he had for me to accomplish in this life because I was done. I was in constant debilitating pain. The doctors had long since let me know that there was nothing to be done to improve my lot, they could only treat the symptoms. Since I clearly didn't have the "willpower" to lose weight and I wasn't a candidate for weight loss surgery due to my history of blood clots, I would just have to try to manage the symptoms and accept that I would be in a wheelchair soon. There was talk of amputating my leg because of the damaged circulation from a massive blood clot 20 years ago. My knee had been a mess since 1982 when I shattered the knee cap and it was now bone-on-bone with bone spurs and arthritis and scar tissue. My right shoulder was also "permanently" compromised from multiple tears in the rotator cuff that they couldn't operate on so it also had scar tissue, bone spurs and arthritis. I had undergone physical therapy which helped a lot. I was able to effectively use my right arm again at least. Couldn't do overhead tasks with it and it caused me a great deal of pain but it was at least functional. The stated goal of the PT with my shoulder and knee were to give me enough mobility to perform basic personal tasks on my own. Like dressing myself and going to the bathroom.
I also had ruptured discs in my back twice and had others that were deteriorating. I was told I had "degenerative disc disease." And then, in early 2013 came Paget's. The pain in my back started becoming really unbearable over the 2012 holidays and I was afraid I had or was about to rupture another disc. It turns out I actually had developed a disease called Paget's disease of the bone. It was causing the bones in my pelvis and hip to become very soft and the combination of that with my severe obesity (I was about 320 at that point and eventually ballooned up to 340) was causing remodeling (deformities) in the bones. It caused excrutiating pain to even have to sit upright in a kitchen chair or the seat of a car. Walking was... torture. I had become effectively house bound. Rarely left my bedroom.
I had other medical issues; autoimmune disorders - Hashimoto's thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, fibromyalgia - high blood pressure, irritable bowel. Needless to say I took a number of perscription pills each day. In July of 2013 I was a serious mess and had also started having symptoms of congestive heart failure. I hid this and avoided my doctor as I had made the decision that I wasn't going to seek treatment. That I was, in fact, going to stop taking ALL the pills and let nature take it's course. I figured a stroke from the blood pressure would put me out of my, and everyone else's, misery quickly enough.
On August 17th, I was watching movies on Netflix and a movie came up in my "recommended for you" section called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and the rest is history! That was a Saturday. Thursdays were my husbands paydays so on the 22nd I cleared out every single thing in my house that couldn't be juiced and stocked up. I started my juice fast on August 23rd, 2013. I consider that my "rebirth-day." I don't live in pain anymore. I swim and walk for exercise and have no issues with sitting, standing, walking, getting up and down off my knees, squatting. But I haven't run yet. I haven't run on land in over 25 years, maybe closer to 30. I used to jog in the water, which I'm sure looked pretty crazy, because I didn't want my body to lose the muscle memory of HOW to run.
So a couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook and my oldest daughter, Bonni, posted that she had set up a team for the Tulsa Glow Run. If anyone wanted to join her, it would be on August 23rd. It took about a nanosecond for me to say, "I'll do it." WHAT?!?!?! Nine months ago I couldn't even walk across my yard without my son or husband to lean on! Even when I was active in my teens and twenties, I was into horses and swimming. Never ran a race in my life! Was I crazy?! Well, maybe so. But just watch me run, baby. I have 7 weeks left to train. I will be doing the Couch To 5K program 3 days a week, meeting with a personal trainer once a week and doing the assigned strength training from her two more days each week. I don't know how much of it I will run and how much I will walk but I promise you I WILL finish:)
JUICE ON YA'LL! I GOT THIS!!
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I started this journey nearly 6 months ago at 340 lbs and miserable. Because I had SO far to go, I set up 10% goals. You improve your risk of certain diseases fi you lose 10% of your weight so I lose 10% and then decide to set my next 10%. So I lost the first 10% pretty quickly, about 6 weeks. I looked at my weight at that point, 306, and set a goal to lose 10% of that by my birthday. Well, it's my birthday and to have lost that 2nd 10% I would need to weigh 275.4. Now I haven't been in the 270s for about 10 years! Today I just weighed and I kid you not, I weigh exactly 275.4! Exactly! Oh and, by the way, my BMI has come down 10.4 pts!! Happy birthday to me!
Saturday, February 01, 2014
Let me take you back nearly 20 years. I had just had my 4th baby and I developed a huge blood clot in my right leg. It was pretty far gone before we figured it out. It went from my groin to behind my right knee. My right knee was already a bit of a mess because I had shattered that kneecap in college. I was on blood thinners for 6 months and then went on with my life. A couple of years later when I had my last child, I had to be on blood thinners during my pregnancy but other than that, I didn't feel like the issue had really created any significant problems for me. When my youngest was 2 years old, however, the blood clot reformed and I threw a PE (pulmonary embolism) and was put back on blood thinners for a year. The doctors wanted me on them for life but I had no insuranance and couldn't afford lab fees to have the levels in my blood monitored safely. So one year of therapeutic coumadin and I was off again. I felt like a ticking time bomb. I think that was when I started to believe I wasn't detined to live to be very old.
A couple of years later, the blood clots developed again. The doctors strongly advised coumadin for life. My leg was quite damaged by this time. The knee was bone on bone as well. That leg was considerably weaker than the other and was constantly discolored and several inches larger than the left leg. The doctors said that because the risk of surgery was too high for me (this had actually come up before so I already knew I was not a candidate for any surgery other than the emergency, life-saving variety) this damage was permanent and the leg would very likely have to be amputated eventually.
In the meantime, while all of this was going on, I was diagnosed with several autoimmune disorders and my health and quality of living was going downhill at an alarming rate. I accepted that I would be very lucky to live as long as my mother had, which was 68.
For those on blood thinners, you know that you are advised not to eat much of certain vegetables and things that actively thin the blood because the combination of blood thinners and blood thinning foods can be deadly. Well, last August I made some decisions that I know will be controversial to some but let's remember it is MY life. When I discovered just how much switching to a totally plant-based diet supplemented with fresh made green juices and smoothies was healing my body (all autoimmune disorders in complete remission - symptom free - totally, including hypothyroid now normal, oh and my blood pressure and cholesterol are now normal without meds as well) I decided to take a leap of faith and I once again stopped the blood thinners AMA and began eating tons of all those things that naturally thin the blood. I haven't taken any medication, prescribed or otc since September and this is the result:
There used to be nearly 7 inches difference between right and left calf. Now there's less than 2" difference. I have talked in previous blogs about the complete relief of constant, severe, chronic pain. It kind of amazes me that people will see that I have corrected supposedly permanent conditions like hypothyroid, put MG and Fibromyalgia into complete remission, corrected blood pressure, cholesterol and corrected damage that the doctors said was permanent and still say that what I have chosen is "too radical." When someone says to me, "I would love to stop being in pain all the time, but I just couldn't give up meat." Or sugar or bread or cheese... whatever. Fine. Admit that X food is more important to you than your quality of life. You have a right to your choice! But don't tell me that what I've chosen is radical or dangerous because you are still buying the ridiculous lies being sold to you by the food industry and a complicit fda.
Stepping down from soapbox now. We now return you to your regularly scheduled cheerful Natshell:) And, for the record, I fully intend to outlive my sweet mama by about 30 years.
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