Thursday, January 05, 2012
We all believe we are Wonder Woman - able to finish what we start and in record time. Today was a lesson in priorities and humility... and licking a few self-imposed wounds.
I own my own business as a wedding photographer and I edit all my own photos. So there is a lot of time that is taken up by sorting, editing, and artistically processing people's photo packages. The timeline I gave myself to do so got eaten up this year by two things: one, a technical bug in a piece of editing software that consumed (and nastily spit back out) about three weeks of work this fall (grrrrr), and dealing with this so-far-undiagnosed health issue that I discovered in October this year.
I don't usually like to ask for "extensions" especially with people's photos but it was inevitable to save my sanity. I only hope that they will all understand.
As an update, in October, I found a rather huge mass in my throat. Turns out it was a 5.5cm (2"+) nodule on my thyroid. I saw a specialist (surgeon) who wants to cut it out, which means that at least half of my thyroid will be removed according to him. That's assuming that it's benign. If it's malignant, they will have to take out the entire thyroid and go from there.
Tomorrow morning is my biopsy appointment. I can't help but feeling worried and nervous... I know it won't help matters, but my mind is hard to keep control of at this moment. So instead, I wrote a nice email to my clients briefly explaining the situation and am partially dreading the response. It's hard when you can't live up to your self-imposed image/demands, and I just always expect the worst when it comes to things like this. Perhaps it is a defence mechanism so I'm not shocked by the bad when I intrinsically want to expect the best in people.
In the meantime, I have been using most of my time to not do work, but instead research my condition. With the hope and expectation that the nodule/mass is benign, I now have a possible non-surgical plan to stop the growth of the nodule and hopefully even shrink it thanks to two wonderful women, my naturopath and a nurse that specializes in women's hormone issues and alternative health. I will also go back and consult my family doctor as well as the specialist as soon as I can get an appointment. The natural health information has calmed me down a lot as there is a distinct possibility that I may not have to go "under the knife" however, this is all assuming that there is no malignancy.
They tell me that the test results can take up to three weeks. So until I know for sure, I will start on the supplements and vitamins that both natural health practitioners have agreed upon (they agreed on everything, so that made me feel better). None of the supplements can hurt anything so hopefully I can get a jump start on dealing with this issue.
Should anyone feel like sending along some white light/prayer/positive energy, I will be eternally grateful. My biopsy is at 9:30am tomorrow morning (friday) and I am doing my best to not be too hard on myself in the meantime.
Hugs to you all for reading this and thank you in advance for any comments, energy, or knowledge you might impart.
Friday, December 23, 2011
I am calm. Really. I guess because right now there is no answer - at least not one that I am privy to. I saw the nose, ears, & throat specialist yesterday. My blood tests all came back without issue - my thyroid is otherwise functioning fine except for this eensy-weensy nodule on it... Right. Change eensy weensy to a a 5.5cm/2 inch enormous lump in my throat. As my doctor puts it, I have l large sized egg sitting on my right thyroid. Lovely.
So the only choice apparently is removal. But the kicker is, is that I have to wait another two weeks before I can have a biopsy to find out if this egg is hatching more than just a metaphorical chicken. It could be hatching a dragon. After the biopsy, three more weeks go by before I can find out the results of the test. Either way, they either have to take out the right hand side of my thyroid and possibly the whole thing. The waiting game, to be blunt, sucks.
Apparently over 30% of women develop thyroid nodules. They surgically remove those over 3.5cm. I've been reading articles on the internet and should really stop. I have had hormone imbalances my entire life and have just gotten them under control in the past year. I'd hate to have to start all over again. Meds and I don't usually get along so hopefully there is something natural that I can take instead if need be.
If anyone has had experience with thyroid removal, please let me know. Otherwise, I will be grateful for any positive energy, well wishes, prayer, or white light that you have to spare.
Five weeks.... hopefully they go by really really fast.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Today is my three month SparkPeople Anniversary - and coincidentally, it is also the day that I am exactly 20 pounds down from my weight when I started this journey. This in itself makes me do a crazy happy dance around the house as I've been trying to lose this weight for the last 5 years very unsuccessfully... in fact, during most of that time I've just continued to gain more or go a few pounds down only to gain it all back.
But now the tides have turned! I am giddy, have far more energy, and - will wonders never cease - I want to jump on my rebounder and dance/bounce to fun, upbeat music! Yes, I want to exercise...Who knew this could happen?
I am so thrilled that this morning I went to assist my parents with some yoga and then my 77 year old mother and I traded on and off practicing with my pixie hoop! (for those of you not "in the know" it's an adult sized, weighted, hula hoop.) My mom can do 40 turns in a row... Wow!! But what shocked me, the girl who a few months ago could hardly do 10 rotations hit an all time high of -- are you ready? -- 210 hoop rotations!! TWO HUNDRED AND TEN!
My world is changing.
My body is changing.
I am HAPPY.
And today, I admitted openly that I've been trying to lose weight. I mean, my boyfriend knew, as did our house-mate. So did my mother and a few of my friends. But I finally took the plunge and posted the following comment on my very public Facebook page: "Michelle is officially down 20 pounds. Woot!" That's it. Seven little words. And what followed was close to an avalanche of congratulations. Come on people, it's just 20 pounds... It's not like I found the cure for cancer... but really, I've come to realize how BIG this is and how CHALLENGING it is to accomplish! And I was even more proud to tell them that I did it through SparkPeople, and did it the old fashioned way by eating well and moving instead of doing some silly fad diet or costly miracle shake.
Less than 24 hours on facebook, my tiny little comment has received 56 "likes" and 22 comments. And I cannot tell you how much that support means to me. I'm overwhelmed.
Five of these people followed my referral link and are now members of Spark. WOW! And on top of it, I won a Spread the Spark award today. Just icing on the cake, I tell you...
I still have a long way to go but the first milestone has been not only passed but has been vaulted over. I have about 50 more pounds to go until I reach my goal. But it's not just a pipe dream anymore... right now, I know it's just a matter of time before I celebrate again and let everyone know that I did it! Because, in a way, I already have. I'm here, active, and living the Spark every day. I have over 70 SparkFriends now and a community I can come to for fun, for support and for life. Thank you to all of you who have made this place and especially my journey so far, so incredible.
I believe in you all. You're all amazing stars!
Happy holiday wishes to you all, may you achieve and surpass every one of your dreams.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
There are days that I admit that I worry about things I have no control over. There are days that I wish I could just sit back and let life unfold and roll with the punches. I already live a high stress life but am trying day by day to work toward something better. I love my job but... I love my bf but... I love my family but... I love myself but... there is - always - a but. The reasons behind them constantly change. What matters though is getting through the day with as positive an attitude as possible and trying to find happiness and strength for the future.
Sometimes, though we are not strong enough. Some turn to alcohol, some to cigarettes, some to drugs, some to other, more harmful methods of coping. And most of us here, we turn, or have turned, to food. Six plus years of impossibly high levels stress made me seek comfort. Comfort turned out to manifest in 70 extra pounds which, of course, made my job harder, my health worse, my relationship more strained, my self confidence fall, and the guilt impossible. So when all came to a head, I took the hard road, and set off to make a difference. I've tried so many times and failed. I know how to succeed... I'd done it once before. But the hard road is exactly that. Hard. So much easier to give in, give up or simply be apathetic. But I knew that things wouldn't get better by themselves.
I've been a part of SparkPeople (officially) for years. But never did anything more than read the articles. Obviously that didn't make me more motivated, though it did educate me immensely. Three months ago, I actually started using the tools provided here. And in those three months, despite even higher stress levels, a month of business travel, and a backlog of work, I've lost 16 pounds.
This week, I gained three back.
This week, I had an ultrasound of a large egg-sized mass around/in/on my thyroid. An egg-sized mass that I didn't know existed until I dropped those 16 pounds. Which of course is a bittersweet paradox: it's good that I lost the 16 pounds to realize that I have the mass so something can be done about it (hopefully so) but bad that the mass actually exists. They couldn't tell much from the ultrasound so I am waiting for a referral from my doctor to have a biopsy done. I know there is no sense in worrying about something I can't do anything about right now but it's so hard not to seek some sort of comfort or fill the fear with food. It's illogical, I know. I know that food won't make it better. I know that all I can do is stay positive and wait for the unknown to be known so I can deal with it better then. But for all the logic, the hard work, and the knowledge, I ended up falling down the rabbit hole again and having an affair... with a tin of my mother's christmas cookies.
Yes, it's not the end of the world. I am three pounds heavier from butter cookies and facing a medical situation that may be as simple as removing a benign mass or fighting a more challenging battle. I had a weak few days where I let go of control and let my fear, emotions and old habits get the better of me. But honestly, the control I do have right now is still powerful. It is changing what I can - what's right in front of me. I have to let go of the stress and fear and not try to eat everything in sight when I'm just seeking to feel "full" but not am hungry. In the immortal words of Dorothy Fields, "Nothing's impossible, I have found; for when my chin is on the ground. I pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again." www.youtube.com/watch?v=oa2io_4uiRo
Should you have any good wishes, positive energy, white light, prayers, etc, to spare, please feel free to send them my way. Having support helps with the unknown fear that taunts me... And it just may also help keep the cookies at bay.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Last week I was in Mexico capturing a destination wedding at an all-inclusive resort (for those of you who don't know, I am a wedding photographer). I was also at a resort three weeks ago for another wedding in Jamaica and will be at one next week in the Dominican Republic. For those of you who have travelled, I'm sure you know that all-inclusives can be anyone's nemesis: buffets that are pretty much open 24/7, a number of bars within reach, and just in case you can't squash that late night pang and are too lazy to leave the room, there's always room service.
In Jamaica, I was very careful with my food choices. I obviously didn't want to undo all the good that I had done over the previous month since I joined SparkPeople, and I spent a fair amount of time carefully tracking the food (and drink) that I did partake in. I lost track at the end due to a very busy schedule but then picked up the tracking as soon as I got home again. Coming home to cool weather from the heat and the humidity of the tropics always forces my body to carry a fair (or not so fair, really) amount of water-weight but luckily that disappeared over the next few days. I am not naive enough to think that I will actually lose weight while I'm away (I do have a penchant for trying new foods and spoiling myself a bit), but I do hope that I will be able to recover quickly from any weight -- water or otherwise -- that I do put on during that time.
This past Saturday, I arrived back from Mexico having not tracked my food for pretty much the entire week. It wasn't for a lack of trying at the beginning, but the food served at the buffet at the resort didn't fit into most of the options on the food tracker (a lot of traditional Mexican fare that I honestly had no idea what the ingredients were) so it got to be a bit frustrating and I gave up tracking for the week. I did however notice that when I didn't make the wisest choices on food, I was eating substantially smaller portions and when there was fresh food that was appetizing, I consumed a bit more.
Is my body learning?
Upon my arrival home, I stepped on the scale and only weighed 4 pounds over when I left. Those 4 pounds have pretty much disappeared over the last 3 days so I know that it was really only residual water weight that my body is now letting go of. So in essence, I didn't really gain anything while I was gone which truly is a remarkable feat for me.
I am home for only 6 days in between trips this time. Yesterday, I plugged in my breakfast as usual into the tracker and then set out on my day. But I didn't keep tracking online as I usually do at the end of each meal... I waited until this morning to reflect on my food choices yesterday and was surprised to find that I was right within my limit on not only my calories but on my protein/fat/carb count as well! So I'm curious... if I actually eat what my body wants this week, will I be over or under my allotted intake levels?
So I'm going to be running an experiment on myself for the remainder of this week... I will be tracking my food only the day after I consume it so I don't have an idea where I stand throughout the day and how many more calories I "have left" to consume in a given day. I'm curious to see if over the last two months of strictly calculating my food, if my body is actually beginning to understand and crave what it needs instead of just what it wants. It would be very nice to, one day, not need the food tracking tool any longer and trust in my body to make the smart choices. So let's see what happens! I have 3 days left before I leave again -- hopefully too small a time to do any major damage in this experiment -- but also hopefully long enough to see if I am actually integrating all of the knowledge and practice that I've accumulated so far.
What do you think? If you gave up on your food tracker for a few days, would you fare well or would old habits take hold?
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