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Salty Reminder of the Past

Saturday, May 05, 2012

When I regularly consumed more than 4,000 mg of sodium every day, I thought I didn't know what dehydrated was. After using Spark for a couple of years, I finally got my sodium levels down to the max recommended - around 2300 mg/day. And, in the past year, somewhere between half that and the max, regularly.

I didn't know how dehydrated I was before. I didn't know that I was actually poisoning my body every day.

The only reason I NOW know how it affects me is that sometimes I get a reminder. I now know what GOOD feels like. I've lived depression-free, even in some of the toughest times of my life. Not that I haven't seen sadness during that time. It's different.

Experiencing what GOOD feels like is a powerful thing. It helps you recognize that feeling bad isn't normal. I thought it was. I had migraine headaches twice a week, or some form of headache for what seemed like an endless stream of consecutive days.

It turns out that I didn't move enough, didn't eat enough, didn't eat well enough, didn't drink enough water, didn't sleep enough. When I deprived myself of what it needed to be healthy, I got bigger, somehow. Yet giving myself MORE made me feel better, and slowly, naturally, become a bit smaller.

The short version of the rest of this blog is that I slipped into an old habit that I recognize now that the day is over of not eating enough, having too much sodium, and not moving. I also had unreasonably high expectations of myself, adding to the tension of an already stressful situation. The end result was a storm of pain through my neck and head, that felt like a migraine, if it crushed my skull instead of piercing it.

***The details are:

Today at 8, I left the house only having a banana and some chocolate oatmeal no-bake cookies. I went into work early. I sat in my chair for over two hours without moving anything except my swiftly typing fingers and micro-movements of my wrist, updating hundreds of financial records for work. Hundreds of times over it was some version of these keystrokes: ALT-E, P, enter, Y, enter, P-K, enter, V, (stare), enter,V, enter, D-E-L, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, 3, enter, /, enter, , enter, , enter, , enter, , enter, , enter, *, enter, 1-3, enter, B, enter, , enter, A, enter, (mouse click), /, enter, Q, enter, /, enter, then the next one. My pinky on the righthand gets a workout. My shoulders build tension. I forget to take a break. I drink water mindlessly, as long as I can keep my bottle filled up. I am focused on the numbers on the screen. I type too fast and wait for the system to catch up. I forget to blink. I zone out for a second, running too much on autopilot-autohands, and have to refocus, do one of the records again.

I refill my bottle and drink another 3 cups of water by 11 am. This does nothing to stop me from feeling ravenous. But it's Friday and there are free bagels in the break room. I'm late for them, of course, so I pick through what's left to find a cranberry one, and the last scrapings of the cream cheese (which is still over 2 tablespoons, slightly runny). I leave it to toast while I sneak into the ladies' room (because I had been ignoring that urgency- lots of water).

50 more records updated, and the pressure in my brain is growing steadily because this special priority task is pushing the other 3 things that were a "1st-thing-in-the-morning" task further delayed. And as soon as I finish, I have 2 other priorities placed on my desk that need immediate action, and I can't fulfill my obligations.

I need to hurry to go to lunch around 1 because I have an anti-harassment training this afternoon that will take up 1 hour of precious time. So I volunteer to cut my hour lunch in half. (But I didn't bring anything.) This means I can try to squeeze in a couple more reports that were already past due this morning, and the minutes tick by too fast because it's already 1:20 before I'm even close to forcing myself to quit.

My co-worker drives us to get fast food (that I haven't had in months). I order a pared down version of a grilled chicken sandwich, and drink my water. I eat it on the way back to work in big bites, knowing that if my normal lunch time is too short, this 20 minute excursion will eat up my minimized 30 minute schedule. After returning we have to take an extra 5 minutes to walk around the building because the doors on that side of the street have suddenly stopped working, and we are locked out.

By the time I get back, I hit the filtered water machine on the way in, and it's time to log into the computer to wait for the website to load to punch back in. While it's loading I look at the pending email requests that piled up in our absence and try to figure out how to maximize the 5 minutes before we need to walk to the other building for the training. I rationalize that I almost have 10 minutes (not true) and keep trying to do one more thing before my co-worker drags me away, threatening that we'll be late. She's right. There's not enough time to fill up my dangerously-low water bottle. I have maybe 4 oz left for the next hour (right after my salty lunch). :(

There's just a couple of us there, a few others missing because they were in the middle of reports (and I say, "Wait, we can do that?! Because we're understaffed today!" to no avail).

Sexual harassment videos are not fun. THey're not just boring either, it's really uncomfortable for me, manifesting physically, and the acted-out scenarios replay and continue and continue. I try to soothe myself by remembering that the people acting in them are aspiring stars that were probably really excited to have this paid acting gig.

My "break" is walking back to the other building after the meeting. And I walk into a tornado of having to fix an error I made on a report that was sent to all the production supervisors. It turns out to have been one swapped number, but was a very big deal to the person who was slighted. Luckily a fast fix before my boss informs me we were supposed to drop everything 10 minutes ago and JUST FOCUS ON verifying the checks processed.

Today, everything was a priority. But it really wasn't THAT different than any other day. Most of the time we can just finish one priority in time for the next deadline.

The other new girl and I are cross-training each other on the tasks we mastered during last month (so we are each scrambling to do both jobs or at least help each other, and less "efficient" [whatever novice version of that we established in the past 2 weeks]). The A/C stopped working very well while we were at lunch, and there's not really any moving air (my body HATES this, and always has, especially if my neurons are firing so rapidly for such extended time), my blood vessels expand in my head, more pressure, and the sickness starts. (From a science-y POV, it's probably higher blood pressure from the sodium-laden chicken burger, expansion to cool myself, and rush needed oxygen to my brain - but those over-taxed vessels are pressing on the brain I need and my whole system is starting to try to FORCE me to S L O W D O W N. It won't happen.)

Too quickly it's after 4, we're supposed to start wrapping things up in preparation for some 5pm deadlines and gearing up for the AMPED up URGENCY, though that has been there NONSTOP ALL DAY LONG... Then there's the pressure of needing to balance our team's money processing at the end of the day, wrap up the electronic $ processes, finalize and scan the paper checks and m.o., save files, send them to the bank to deposit in time,(my new task) ... all of this coming up, too. ANd we can't stay there too late (in fact, why aren't we already DONE???).

It feels like being squeezed from both sides while we're locked in our tiny & intimate windowless room. As a team of 5-missing 1 today, we all try to stay calm while coordinating the dance of end-of-day (some of us more understanding and patient than others)... The blur of the next two hours and FINALLY we're done with the most pressing urgencies, even if it was 17 minutes past the cut-off. The boss is long gone, along with a co-worker, and the other new girl and I risk more unauthorized overtime if we attempt to clean up some of the unresolved "priority" tasks that are strewn about our memories and our desks.

We leave before 7:30.
It's been over 5 hours since I ate anything, and 4 since I was away from my desk. I forgot to hit the bathroom on the way out, since I'd been ignoring it, but remembered to refill my water.

I ache, am slightly irritable and the nauseating pain that I was trying to ignore becomes more insistent. I find another chocolate oatmeal piece of cookie and quickly eat it while dashing across a busy street (WHY DO PEOPLE NOT STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS?!? I wasn't even jaywalking; did they just speed up?!?) and hiking over to my car for a few minutes.

Um, I accidentally walk right past my car and have to turn around in the next aisle. I have to hurry to unlock it because that guy walking down the sidewalk looks a little shifty. My head pain feels like a terrible migraine, luckily without the pain behind my eyes (because I have to drive a couple of miles). I neglected to have any caffeine today, and though I'm sure that I'm probably dehydrated but the only thing that has worked consistently to relieve this kind of pain in the past has been a large Starbucks with extra espresso.

I drive through with the AC on HIGH (even though my car hates it and threatens to shut down sometimes); luckily no one is behind me because they forget to make it with non-fat milk as I requested and I wait for a new one. The second time they accidentally forgot to put the sweetener in -- I drink at least 6 oz trying to decide if it's just that I have the extra espresso in there making it bitter or if it's really off before I pull into a spot and walk in. They pump out some stuff into it at my request and insist on giving me a free drink card (most likely because I and slumped forward and looking like I've been run over by a truck while reassuring them that I'm just not feeling well, and it's not them at all, IT'S ME, no thank you). They insist, so I take it and leave.

I drink it as quickly as I can, as fast as I drink water (which is fast, and a lot); I drink some water to try to help push it into my cells and my blood, shrink my vessels... And I sing.

I sing and sing and sing along to Jason Mraz's "I Won't Give Up". I replay it and sing along again, doing AT LEAST as well as anyone who first auditions for show Voice. (LOL- well, as long as I'm just singing along and can get my "confidence voice" boosted.) I try to sit up straighter and take deep breaths to hold the notes, sing from my diaphragm like they taught me in 5th grade. Some of the tension melts away.

I got home to an empty house and played with Heather's cat. I drank more water and went outside as the light was fading to find her solar light backyard string of glass globes glowing softly from the charged solar panel. She'll hang them soon, and I'm so happy that they're beautiful. I see her vision of what they'll be when she hangs them and want her to have the prettiest things, and for her to capture the joy of the promise the idea held. It makes me smile.

Some more cat therapy helps me relax a little some more, and I have a growing need for actual food. (It's about 8:30 p.m.) Luckily I'm feeling less sick.

It's almost 9 by the time I get to the coffeehouse (I know they have some semblance of less-processed food, and get a greek chicken salad wrap, have half of it.)

It was kind of stupid for me to go there, though. Because that's where my ex-husband has a weekly gathering (that I used to help run), and he's there with his new girlfriend (kind of used-to-be-mutual-friend). I have mixed feelings. I think I decided to go tonight because I figured that IF it was really stressful, I already felt like crap earlier so it wouldn't be ruining anything. He's pretty much the same, doesn't ask about the new job or anything, and talks about Adam West. She and I talk in a second conversation about my apartment/room share hunting, and interview with a (possible drug addict?) girl last night. Talking to her again in person confirms what I thought when I first found out that they were dating: It's really too bad we weren't better friends before, because we have enough in common for it to be interesting. Now, I feel like my attempts in that area might seem weird. Plus, I don't want to spend that much time with my ex-husband.

I also remember how I can't help but have an undercurrent of .. what? disappointment mixed with in-credulousness and the beginning embers of some anger that I keep trying to dampen. The less I see him as a victim by my hand (from leaving him), the more slightly outraged I've become over the past few months at leftover injustices, inconsiderate actions, and manipulation. It's a very low simmer, but it keeps me a little on edge around him, critical of his actions and reactions, more judgmental than I need to be. It feels unhealthy. And it's a reminder of how we don't really mix anyway. I remember why I was avoiding much contact before.

I got ready for bed, and came to Spark about 10:30, once I reconvened with Heather & her husband at home. I got distracted and looked at a 100 or so butterfly garden pictures I took at the beginning of April that I haven't downloaded from my camera. I was going to work on the birthdays but started this blog. Now it's past midnight and I have another room-rental interview to go to at 8 a.m.

So good-night.

I've learned many things from today. It's almost the same thing that I keep re-learning about TAKING CARE of myself. I'm not dieting. I truly am trying to live a more healthy life. I've tasted FEELING GOOD, and I want more. I don't need more food, or more indulgences. I need more simplified, delicious, goodness. And the resulting happiness and contentment that goes with that. ANd love, lots of self-love and love to and for the world around me.

I remember what I wrote when I was losing 100 pounds here on Spark - I am working toward a FIT body and a FIT mind. Fit equals strength, health, and vitality to me. And moments of peace.

Okay, sweet dreams now.. really... I think the caffiene could be wearing off (I hope!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Reading your blog was a reminder to me of lessons learned from days like you just had. The build up as you wrote was captivating and I started feeling the tension and struggle as I would when my days working would do the same to me! I have to say you handled the whole ex-hubby thing very well, I would be stressed by the whole encounter!

    It is testament to how we are always learning to be our best self regardless of the challenges we face each day. As long as we are aware and chose to learn and change our lives for the best and strive to let go of as much of the drama that is negative, and use the stress that drives us to get up each day to make the positive changes! Your journey is such an inspiration as you have faced these challenges with great success.

    Have a great day tomorrow prepared to fuel your body with healthy foods, lots of water, and find some time to stretch and move your body. Some simple neck, shoulder, arms, and hand stretching while you sit all tense as you work at your desk, it may go a long way to preventing your headaches. I am sure you already know these things!

    Keep up the great work...
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    2111 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/8/2012 4:36:55 AM
  • ABB698
    The thing about our journeys is we're always learning something new. Hang in there Joce, you're doing so fabulous! emoticon
    2112 days ago
    I carry protein bars and packets of tuna in my bag and stash them in my car for emergencies...

    In a pinch you can eat them for lunch if you forget to bring one or don't have time to go get one.

    And at least for me protein seems to keep me feeling fuller.

    Hang in there, Chica.

    And maybe find a new circle of friends so the grating resentment you might feel about your ex won't add to your frustration?
    2112 days ago
    Life is just way too fast paced these days. I'm glad you remembered that bit about taking care of yourself.
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    2112 days ago
    Phew, sweetheart! You had MY blood pressure soaring, just reading about your day. (And puh-leeeeze ... a stupid "training" meeting in the middle of all that? so ridiculous.) I want to come pick you up and take you to yoga.

    Not that I, myself, do yoga. But it just seems to be what I'd want for someone who had THAT kind of day.

    Please be nice to yourself ... you're so wonderful.
    2112 days ago
    Great insights and lessons learned! Sounds like you're building some super supports at work too!

    2112 days ago
  • _BABE_
    It just goes to show that you have to deal with stress and life for the rest of your life and be ever alert to the pitfalls. Kudos to you for having to see your ex and the rest of it and not completely going postal. I can tell you got back on course and it was just a bump in the road. I also want to say I love your before and after pics in progress...they are so inspirational.
    2113 days ago
    Makes me really grateful for my job and the time flexibility that I have for the most part.
    2113 days ago
    I was completley enthralled reading this! Wondering how your day would end.... the slow build up had me on the edge of my seat :)

    2113 days ago
    My goodness! That was one heck of a day. I'm glad you were able to negate the pain as quickly as possible, though!
    2114 days ago
    Wow, what a day. One thing that's probably different about yesterday than the past it reminded you of was having learned some things. I hope that you had a good night's sleep. I wish you a relaxing weekend full of feeling good.
    2114 days ago
  • EUEK098
    Quite the day you had love, with enough time to adjust, and planning, you'll pull through, oh and if you wanna do something while at the desk, you can get one of those under the desk leg cycles (not too sure on the name)
    2114 days ago
    It's great that you made the connection. The new job seems to have tossed up your routine. I like Jespah's suggestions. With a little bit of planning, you'll be able to balance work and your health.

    Thanks for sharing this. It reminds me that I need to put some safeguards in place too. We're in the middle of a system implementation that goes live in 10 weeks, which puts me right in the middle of competing demands and everything being urgent. Our best defense is a good offense. So, let's come with a plan!
    2114 days ago
    Wow, I know I wouldn't be able to write a blog like that after a day like that! I get those headaches also, but never thought it could be my sodium intake, which is higher than it should be. I need to be more diligent in tracking my food, maybe I can get rid of those darned headaches.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about!
    Enjoy the weekend,

    2114 days ago
    Corporate America truly is a mean and nasty. When I started working in the 70s, it was a 7 hrs/day of work time, 1 full hour for lunch and 2 - 20 minute breaks. Now, 8 hrs+/day of work time, no breaks and 1/2 hour for lunch..... and I was told on my first day at my new job that "the unspoken rule is that we eat at our desks". What?!?!? No, I don't think I'm going to donate 3 weeks of my life each year to the company and ruin my health in the process.

    If your company can't find it to be kind to you and your co-workers, then you must be sure to be kind to yourself. Get up at lease every 2 hours and walk to the ladies room, get your coffee and clear your mind for those 5 minutes. Have your healthy breakfast and lunch ready the night so you can grab and go.

    You deserve all the care that you would give to someone you love.
    2114 days ago
    Ugh sounds like a stressful day!!!! Coupled with little/poor food just made it worse. I guess sometimes its good to have a day like this - it reminds us how far we've come, how we prefer and need healthy foods - not just our tastebuds but for our bodies sake!

    Hope you have a great weekend *hugs*
    2114 days ago
    Wow! Jocelyn you're amazing! I'm feeling stressed after just reading about your day! I hope you find time over the weekend to rehydrate, revitalize, and rejoice in moving your body to some Zumba, jogging, or whatever makes you smile.
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    2114 days ago
    Sounds like a very stress filled day and night. I am thankful that you were able to concentrate on feeling good about yourself and what you are doing for you. Your background is pretty, it that one that you had taken earlier?
    2114 days ago
    ...BREATHE !...
    Wow, You live with a lot of stress. But, it sounds like you know how great "Feeling good" feels, so you won't slip back into old habits. Stress, lack of sleep, bad food choices, add up to making this an easy habit to slip back into.
    You have to work as hard at living right, to stay healthy, as you did at losing weight.

    emoticon I know you can stay on the healthy track!
    I wish you strength!
    2114 days ago
    Wow what stress!!! You are in my prayers!!!!
    2114 days ago
    Okay, I'm exhausted just reading this.

    I think you need some planning. Let's rewind this day.
    1) Oatmeal for breakfast, instead of oatmeal cookie bits.
    2) The water-drinking is all fine; I wouldn't change it except I'd slow it down a bit. I think you're getting an electrolyte imbalance and it's making you a bit dizzy/affecting some bits of judgment (that can happen).
    3) Packed lunch or at least a planned one. Maybe turkey in a pita? Something low-salt and high protein, portable and not messy.
    4) Get up once every hour, even if it's just to visit the ladies' room. You need the movement (and the trip, it sounds like) and this will do both. Despite missing a few minutes every hour, I think it'll make the remainder of the hour better/you'll be faster so it should wash.
    5) Planned dinner. You don't have to bring it, but an idea of something. Greek is actually, mostly, fine. It's got fairly high sodium but that's not a problem if you've been keeping the sodium otherwise down all day.
    6) Leaving - own a commuter cup and fill it at work, rather than go to Starbucks. It's cheaper and it'll be made correctly the first time. Buy some Torani Sugar-free extract (Amazon sells it if you can't find it in your supermarket) and keep it at your desk. It's a flavor shot and it has no calories. You probably won't miss Starbucks at all. This will also save you a good, what, 10 - 15 minutes so you can get home earlier and have more cat therapy or sleep.

    Anyway, those are my ideas. I know you're working really hard and I don't want this to look like I'm suggesting more burdens for you. Actually, I'm trying to suggest some planning so you'll have fewer burdens.
    2114 days ago
    Wow. I read that and I felt like crying - I could FEEL your stress and frustration... because my life is kinda similar. Just constantly on wheel of "this is urgent!!!!" type panic at work and emotional disappointment everywhere! Where's the break?

    I'm working on more 'me' time and more exercise and more relaxation. A work in progress because, you are right, the old patterns are too easy to fall back on.

    Putting yourself last is definitely a pattern to be rid of... and creating a new one of putting yourself first (or at leat near the top!)

    I know that you have come such a long way and every day is not like this one... how you cope is amazing. It goes to show that health is a holistic thing - it's not just about food and drink.

    2114 days ago
    Wow, I realize reading your blog that I really should be drinking more water! Persistent stress is so draining; congrats on getting through it. I know what you mean about knowing what GOOD feels like; it really makes you recognize when things aren't right.
    2114 days ago
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