For every path we take there's going to be twists, turns, and roadblocks...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It had officially been about a month of my intensive diet plan. Basically, in a nutshell, it's a power smoothie to replace one meal per day (usually an on-the-go meal, either breakfast before early work or dinner before early clinicals), then there's the spinach salad with chicken breast or hard-boiled egg, and then dinner kinda random depending on what I have but always home-made something. Snacks are greek yogurt, apples with natural peanut butter, and grapes. I thought I'd get bored with the consistency but instead I found it liberating. I always knew what I had to eat, always knew it would sit well in my stomach, always knew I'd have fuel for my day! I did enjoy a vernors here and there or a little piece of dark chocolate. I cut my coffee to 1 or less cups per day and it's often 1/2 caff. I'm drinking my water and staying away from anything prepackaged/processed unless I truly know what's in it.

People have been noticing!! At first it was hard to decline all the eating out offers. I'm an ER nurse - we order out A LOT! But eventually it became habit. I didn't eat the homemade breads/cookies/brownies and other assorted items sitting on the counters. I began to realize if I was hungry and driving, instead of thinking what "sounded" good, I began to think "what am I at risk for if I order ______". It's a whole new way of thinking and it really didn't take that long to make the habit.
Then last week I was missing my friends something fierce. It's hard to be in school, clinicals, and working and still manage to have some resemblance of a social life. So I did eat out a few times - but I chose very carefully and was able to escape all 3 restaurants without stomachache or side-effects! My biggest challenge with the restaurants was that hot loaf of fresh bread at Outback - oh man. I decided "just one piece". Interestingly enough, I haven't eaten bread in so long now (gluten free) that it actually didn't taste good - in fact, it tasted odd. 2 bites of that and I was over it! I used to be able to devour loaves and loaves of that stuff!!!

Wednesday afternoon I carved pumpkins (which I hadn't done in years) and had a blast! Thursday was a long 12 hour shift in the ER. Friday morning I was to meet a friend for breakfast. I woke up with neck and right sided chest pain. During breakfast, I actually had a hard time breathing. But, with time, it moved out of my chest and really into my right neck, shoulder, and then numbness into my right arm and fingers. I knew I had "done" something to the base of my neck (I didn't realize, as I write this almost a week later, it would still be here!). That was hard because it put a total stop to my workouts. I did do some stretching and basic yoga but it was all far too painful. Was it the lugging of giant pumpkins? Was it carrying the 7 year old with the badly broken leg? Was it my attempt at yoga for the first time in a long time? Yep, not sure, but I definitely did something!!

The weekend was filled with clinical hours - it's high stress and highly draining but I do love every moment and I'm learning so much. I fight anxiety regularly but my coping mechanisms are working better and better! Neck still hurt but what can you do?

Monday morning was an early appt with my doctor for a physical. She was impressed, to say the least. She had seen me in June and recorded so many of my difficulties with headaches, stomach problems, weight gain, etc. She couldn't believe how many of these things had resolved with just diet changes! No more pain in my stomach, no more bloating, only 1 migraine this season change (last year they went on forever!) - she was pretty amazed. Plus the weight loss was significant. So I'm still waiting for my lab results but I'm hoping there's been good improvements!! She wasn't thrilled with my need for Xanax to help me out this semester but after hearing all the positive changes, seeing a counselor, taking the Holy Basil (which has helped decrease my Xanax needs), and frankly hearing how hectic my schedule is - she was ok with it.

Then I kinda started slumping. That afternoon I got drained of all my energy. My face and chest were beat red, I was running a low grade fever, ached everywhere. I tried to nap but couldn't - I just wanted to lay there. Then I found out my Mom was super sick and was worried about her too. It was kinda like my "high" just disappeared and all the work I'd been doing hit me like a ton of bricks. I spent Monday afternoon through to Tuesday night pretty much doing nothing but simple household tidying, homework, and watching tv. I'm not proud - in fact I feel guilty. Yet, if I keep fueling and treating my body well - if it screams at me like that, makes me feel completely and utterly exhausted - should I not listen to it?

There's a balance I'm still trying to obtain. One of pushing through the hard times but knowing when it's ok to say "whoa!!" and hold back some. It seems a waste to just "sit" but then again, if I didn't, could I potentially be very sick today instead of markedly improved (with the exception of this darn neck pain!)?

I don't want to feel weak. Yet a friend told me yesterday, it's ok because it makes us human - just don't make "skipping" things (like class last night) too easy or it becomes a pattern. And she was right - I needed to just be home - I needed to just take 48 hours to shut up, stop taking care of everyone else, and be quiet. I was also worried about my Mom and felt like I needed to be available in case she needed me.

As I laid in bed I was journaling and realized something pretty big about fear. Fear can paralyze. I honestly wonder how much of the past 2 days has been paralysis from fears? Pure exhaustion, fatigue, lack of motivation - all physiological symptoms of fear. I tend to worry and fear so much - most of which has little significance realistically and almost none of which actually happens. With as busy as I am, if that fear takes over in my mind, it really does bring everything to a halt. I run out of resources - no power smoothie can keep up with all the worries, fears, and regular physical demands of my life.

There's a balance to be obtained here. A lesson to be learned. I'll talk it out with my counselor today - she tends to have really good insight into this. But I think the biggest thing I need to do is allow myself a "break" - but then break time is over. Otherwise I fall into a slump and it's a LOT harder to get out of it.

I wish everyone a happy "hump" day and rest of your week! Mine goes into overdrive now as I prep for 12 hour shifts Thursday and Friday and clinical hours Sunday and Monday. But I'll have my consistent foods and I'll have my plan to cope with the stress and I'll pray my neck gets better. I know God's going to help me get through this - I just have to remember to keep asking :)
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    Hang in there. Working ER can be very stressful in itself if your ER is as busy as the one here is. I covered ER Radiology, Ultrasound, and some CT for 7 years on weekends before I mostly retired.
    2679 days ago
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