Archive for the ‘ Health ’ Category

it’s a start

A small step in the right direction. Weight is down to 320. That’s six pounds in a week. Actually, that’s about what I expected. Losing water weight is pretty easy and the first month of my typical diet can see me lose up to twenty pounds. Unfortunately, that’s the easy weight, then it gets to be a slog. Still, I am not complaining about a small victory. Successful battles win the war.

On another note, wife and I went out to go grocery shopping yesterday and found that our van has a flat tire on the right front. This is one of the last things I need. At least we have a second car to use. Later in the day, while there was a freeing drizzle coming down, I went out to check on the spare tire. It is stored under the back end of the van. This is a really inconvenient place for it, and besides that, it exposes the tire to terrible conditions. While the tire still has air in it, it is almost as rusty as the rest of the van. I think it would work, but I don’t think I would risk any high speed driving with it.

Moot point, actually, because when I tried to find the jack point on the frame, everything kept crumbling into rusty bits and pieces. I could not find a way to jack the car up to change the tire. Not to mention that I was sitting in snow to do this, the flat tire being against the curb, limiting accessibility. So there it sits, a rusted out hulk with a flat tire. I honestly don’t know what to do. It just might be time to put the old girl down and get the new (used) car. I suppose I can have it towed to my mechanic to replace the tire, but I think that is just throwing good money away. I was hoping to make it through the winter months before looking for a new car, but sometimes fate deals you a different hand.

At least it is getting a little warmer out. We have had temps in the teens – both above zero and below zero – for the last couple of weeks and that was getting older than old. Small blessings, I guess, even if it meant that I had to scrape frozen rain off my windshield this morning before I could drive to work. If don’t like it I should move. Actually, I think I would , if I could afford it. Ain’t a’gonna happen.

free to choose

You know what? I’m tired of being a fat man. I don’t want to be a fat man. I’m not going to be a fat man any more.

No one is making me be a fat man. Sure, I have no choice about the getting old part, but I do have some say in the being fat part, and I say it’s time for a change. All I have to do, really, is eat less calories – and the right calories – than I burn every day. I’ve done it before, so it’s not like I don’t know that it can be done.

I’m just tired of my body hurting, my knees and hips in particular. Yeah, I’m going to need some replacements, but my body would move so much easier and with less pain if I weighed less and I wasn’t eating crap that caused inflammation.

So I’m going to stop eating crap and get my body into the best shape that it can be, even if it is nowhere near where I wish it could be. That’s it. No further discussion. Just do it.

my wife’s turn

I spent some time in the hospital this weekend, only this time I wasn’t the patient.

My wife was staying overnight at my house, having kindly offered to help me do some cleaning to get the house ready for me to move out and back in with her. Very early on Saturday morning she woke up with a pain in her right arm, something painful enough that she couldn’t sleep any more. This was around 1:30 in the morning or so. She took a couple of aspirin and I massaged her arm for a while, but the pain did not go away entirely. She was able to fall asleep on the couch for a while, but woke up again with her arm hurting.

Thinking that maybe it was because she had overused it, or slept on it funny, she did a gentle version of her stretching routine and it seemed to help. While I was still waking up and getting ready for the day, she started going a little cleaning, dusting the whole of the bedroom. It got to be time for breakfast, so we headed for McDonalds, but as we were driving there she started to feel more pain in her arm, and into her armpit, and then into her back. Eating our breakfast, she was only able to have a couple of bites of food before her pain really started to worry her.

Now, I’ve been there, done that. If you have a severe pain that you can’t explain, it is better to be safe than sorry – GET IT CHECKED OUT! She dithered about it for a while, but in the end decided that she would not be comfortable going on with the day without knowing what was going on. So it was off to the emergency room.

By this time she was feeling the pain in her chest on the right side, too. With these kinds of symptoms, particularly in women, it is pretty much a given that they are going to take your situation seriously, and they did. They gave her all the normal tests but nothing seemed out of place. They tried some medications but they didn’t do anything to relieve the pain either. As we were at a satellite ER, they decided to load her up into an ambulance and take her to the main hospital.

Once there she went through a couple of other tests, and then it was a waiting game. The whole time, though, her blood pressure was considerably higher than normal, and they tried several things to get it down. Personally, and in hindsight, I think that they might have over-medicated her, but I’m no doctor. Anyways, I stuck around until after 5:30 in the evening, but I needed to get something to eat and get some rest myself, so I left her in the good care of the hospital.

Sunday morning I woke up and, checking my cell phone, saw that my wife had texted me, saying that she was feeling better and to come get her in the morning. While I was getting ready to leave, she called me and told me that she was going to be going home and that she was waiting for them to release her and she would call me when she knew more. In the meantime I went and got gas in the car and got some breakfast. I went to my usual eating place and read for a bit, and then decided to go ahead and go to the hospital. Just as I started driving there, my phone told me I had a voice mail. It was my wife telling me to come get her. Good timing!

Well, it seems that it wasn’t her heart. Everything checked out pretty well. She still had no relief from the pain she was suffering, so eventually they brought her a heat pack to put on the spot. Lo and behold, that took care of most of the pain. Indeed, my wife said she was feeling one-hundred percent better now, which was a good thing. So we walked out of the hospital and headed for Starbucks for a little caffeine to relieve her caffeine headache (and why do they only serve caffeine-free coffee in the hospital meal service?).

We had earlier planned on doing a little grocery shopping for her, so we headed to Walmart. We managed to get a couple of things she needed, but then she started to feel a bit weak. I suspect it was the medications they had given her to try to fight the high blood pressure, which was probably now too low. She sat down and thought about what else she really needed right then, and then we quickly picked those few things up, checked out and left. Back in the car she was hungry so we went to McD’s for some lunch for her, which did help.

The rest of the day, though, she was a bit of a basket case. She was feeling better overall, but was very tired and feeling a bit “loopy.” Again, I think it was the medications they had given her. At least she didn’t have to do anything and could just sleep it off, which she did. Later in the afternoon I needed to get going myself. I had a couple of things to do and I needed to get something to eat. I talked to her later in the evening and she was going better.

So that’s one long story that seems to have no interest to anyone other than her and me, but allow me to attach a moral to the story. If you don’t feel right, get it checked out. At our age, it is ever more important to not ignore pains and feelings that you cannot explain. Sure, it may cost you something to have it checked out, but it can cost you one hell of a lot more not to check it out. I have never had a hospital staff person say anything other than that they are glad you came in to have it checked out.

It is a bit depressing that we have reached an age where our minds go first to “am I having a heart attack” rather than “wonder what I did to make myself hurt,” but that’s just the nature of the beast. Being older and out of shape, it is easy to over-do the physical stuff, which puts us at greater odds for that kind of pain, but if the pain is not obviously related to something we have done physically, then we have to consider, and act upon, the alternative. Better a check-up than to check out.

visions of the . . .

Wowsers! That was weird. I just experienced my first ocular migraine this morning. It came out of nowhere and it freaked me out. I didn’t know if I was imagining it or not. It only lasted for maybe fifteen minutes, thank goodness.

I already knew about ocular migraines because my wife has had them, but having the experience is a whole ‘nuther thing. I was maybe a half mile away from work when all of a sudden it felt like my vision was “fracturing” at the periphery of my sight. When I got into work and into brighter lighting, it almost seemed like someone had stuck little pieces of clear plastic wrap on the outside edges of my eyeballs. The best I could describe it was a shimmering at the edges of my vision.

I looked it up on the good ol’ interwebs and, sure enough, classic symptom of ocular migraine. Fortunately, it was not a precursor to a real, full-blown migraine. Only the visual effects, without the headache. It seems that it is something that can just come and go, with no apparent causation.

I hate it when something messes with my vision. As it is, I have the remnants of a huge “floater” in my left eye. That freaked me out at the time, too, but no serious cause was ever determined (and yes, I did have it checked out) so it is just something I have had to live with. It’s amazing how your brain can adapt to such disruptions of your normal vision.

I will say, though, that once was enough. I don’t care to have a repeat of the ocular migraine as it was a bit disorientating, but if it happens again, at least I’ll know what it is.

tricks for an old dog?

Every year is one year closer to my death.
Every month is one month closer to my death.
Every week is one week closer to my death.
Every day is one day closer to my death.
Every hour is one hour closer to my death.
Every minute is one minute closer to my death.
Every second is one second closer to my death.

Why am I wasting any of that time?

This acknowledgment of my impending demise it not a morbid or fatalistic fascination with my death, but rather an appreciation of the life I have left. The slide down the backside of life gives you a new perspective. In the past, days went by and days went by and each day was a day that just went by. Now, each day, hour, minute, and second have a new importance, an urgency that will not be denied.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t be spending my time snoozing in front of the television, or swinging in a hammock reading a book, or going to work every day. It means that I will be participating in those activities (or lack of activity) because I consciously choose to.

I think that is the big difference between my youth and now. I would float through days without regard to the value those days held. Time seemed to be an unlimited resource. Now, I can almost count the number of days I have left. That once limitless number of days has become a very finite commodity. And, just as in market economics, a short supply makes a thing much more valuable.

In these downhill days, your health has a way of constantly reminding you that there is limited time left. I was walking through the grocery store yesterday and I suddenly had a severe stabbing pain in the left front side of my chest. It was bad enough that I stopped walking, waiting for it to pass, wondering what it was, and even if it would pass, or if I would shortly be lying on the floor croaking, “Call 911.”

But it did pass, and as I did not appear to have any other symptoms related to any medical emergency that I know of, I went on my way, wondering if I was just given a momentary reprieve. So far, I seem to be okay, but who knows what lurks within the chest of this old man? In fact, I just had a twinge as I picked up the phone to answer it. Nothing else, though. Indigestion? A new blood clot in the lung? Who knows? Wait to see if it happens again or gets worse, I guess.

So all the more reason to take the best care of your health that you can, and to do the things that you want to do, rather than pretend like you will live forever regardless of your dwindling resources. It’s a lesson that I am learning very late in life, but not too late (hopefully) to take advantage of the lesson. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

one small step for fattie

Finally, I hit the mark. Got up early today. Decided to weigh myself. I usually weigh myself Saturday morning anyways. Weight was 299.8 pounds. Damn. It’s under 300 pounds, but just barely, and so little under that I just couldn’t come to call my weight to be under 300.

However, mornings are pee time. After a couple more unloadings, I decided to weigh myself again. This time it was a solid 299.0 pounds. I have met my first, and very important, goal – I broke 300 pounds.

300 pounds. It sounds like such an unbelievable weight to be, but I’ve been easily staying above 300 for some time now. I am really happy to be able to say I now weigh less than 300 pounds. The thing is that it comes off so slowly, but seems to sneak back on as soon as your back is turned. The price of maintaining your weight is constant vigilance, at least it is for me. I wish I were one of those people who can eat anything and not gain any weight, but such is not my lot in life.

I still have a long way to go to where I want to be. Ideally that is around 225 or so. I kind of doubt I will get there, but even if I can just manage to get it down to 250 I will be thrilled. So it’s stay the course and, when I stray, get back on the course. I think I can manage it for a while longer.

never fast enough

I fell off the old “diet” band wagon last Tuesday. I just got fed up eating what I had been eating and really, really craved some pizza. I gave in. Ordered my usual, a large, thin-crust, with light sauce, Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms. Went and picked it up, brought it home, and ate the whole damn thing. After all, this was definitely off my diet so I didn’t want any leftovers.

Other than falling asleep almost immediately after eating it, I didn’t fare too badly. I figured I would really pay a price for it. Well, it took another day, but I did. Oddly enough it wasn’t until the next afternoon (and night, and Thursday morning) that I started to feel like shit. I thought I had the flu or something, but Thursday afternoon I started feeling better. Once again, I slapped myself around over the evils of eating poorly. Sure hope I remember it next time I have such a desire.

No, pizza in and of itself is not a terrible thing. Mass quantities of it are, and my diet doesn’t allow the crust, either. Moderation has always been a problem for me, which is why I can never have sweets or snacks in the house. I always thought, “Well, I’ll just have a few a day,” and in an hour they would be gone. I know better now, which sure helps with the diet.

Of course, part of the problem with dieting (actually a misnomer – it is “changing my eating habits,” not dieting) is that you never lose the pounds fast enough. Once you start eating differently, you want to see fifty pounds drop off of you in two weeks. Ain’t gonna happen, and realistically you know that, but reality has nothing to do with it. It’s always encouraging to lose that rather easy ten pounds right at first, but boy, weight coming off at only a pound or two a week after that can really be depressing.

Still, if you just keep at it, the pounds will come off. I thought that the pizza would really kill my weight loss for the week, but when I stepped on the scale today, I was actually three pounds down from last Saturday. I was shocked, but pleased. 308 pounds. Sigh. Still so far from where I want to be. Where is that? I’m not sure, but at least down to 250, and would like to be down to at least 230. That’s going to take a while, though. My closest happy point is not too far away, though. When I break that 300 pound barrier I will know that I am truly on my way.

it continues

Yes, I am still eating my “new” way. I continue to be amazed at how much less my bad knee hurts. Yeah, it still hurts, but mostly at a level I can cope with. Have I been tempted to go off the diet? I will openly admit that I miss some things that were not good for me. Pizza, chocolate covered peanuts, big sandwiches (all that bread), hash browns with my breakfast, among other things. I know plenty of you do not think such things are necessarily harmful, but they were hurting me. I actually haven’t had a lot of trouble denying those cravings. Sure, sometimes it’s a pain in the ass to figure out what to eat instead of the things that were my mainstay meals, but I manage. The results I am getting are encouragement enough to stay on the straight and narrow.

There are plenty of recipes for low-carb food and I should take advantage of them. It’s just a little difficult to feel motivated to cook after you’ve come home from a day at work. You just want to eat and get it over with. Unfortunately, fast food does not lend itself easily to eating low-carb, unless you throw away much of what just paid for. I have figured out which fast food I can make work with a low-carb diet, but in the end it is usually easier to eat at home. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It sure can save you some money.

Anyways, I don’t intend for all future posts to be about my diet, but if sharing my experience helps anyone suffering from the same type of problems I was having, then it is worth it. Yes, I know the idea that anyone is reading this is laughable, but humor me.

the giant awakens

The giant has, indeed, awakened, and he’s decided that he has been a giant for far too long. It’s time to shrink to some semblance of “normal.”

Never in my life could I have imagined that I would weigh more than 300 pounds. Inconceivable! But there I was after 63 years of life, embarrassed by the doctor’s scale when it said 330 pounds. That couldn’t be! And yet, one year older and the scale still read the same, all the way up to two weeks ago.

To tell the truth, my weight was only a symptom of deeper issues in my life. There have been too many years of emotional turmoil, too many years of eating to compensate for the desperate feelings inside. Truly, no one’s fault but my own, but I was unable to “fix” things.

I’ve long recognized the fact that no one is going to get me into a better place in my life. You can only do it yourself. Ten years ago I found a wonderful woman and we created a relationship that I thought would send the rest of my life in a positive direction. Alas, I didn’t foresee the difficulties to come, nor, most certainly, did I count on the rest of her life being so short.

It has been a year since she has passed. I miss and mourn her every day. The longing to have her alive and with me will never go away, but reality forces me to accept things as they are, and that means moving forward in life, rather than living in the regrets of the past (and there are plenty of those).

For some unknowable reason, I seem to have awakened from the stupor I was in. Though not a perfect life by any stretch of the imagination, I feel that it is an acceptable life, and not only that, but that I can improve on it. Rather than just lying back (or more accurately, just sitting on my ass) and stagnating in my own emotional swamp, I appear to have turned a corner.

Yes, I’ve said this before. It is difficult to truly believe that I am going to continue on the positive course I am on. I’m too skeptical of my self-motivational skills. In the back of my mind there is a little voice that keeps saying, “It’s ok, take a little walk on the ‘positive’ side of things. I know you’ll return to the dark side.” I fear that I may. I have always done so before. But there are reasons why I may not backslide as I have done in the past.

First, what have I done? Mostly, all I have done is quit eating sugar and drastically reduced eating grains and other carbohydrates, at least as much as possible. This isn’t really new to me. Many years ago I was on the Atkin’s diet, and I lost considerable weight and was feeling great. Life, however, took some unexpected twists and turns around that time. It was not enough to have lost weight, I wanted more. Eventually, one thing led to another and I obviously packed the weight back on, and then added even more.

Recently, my wife had been telling me about a book she was reading which pushed a ketogenic diet. I bought and started reading the book, too. It’s actually a further development of the Atkin’s style diet, utilizing less protein and more fat than in previous diets. I can’t tell you why (because I don’t know, not because it’s a secret), but the idea of changing my eating to the kind of diet I had used to successfully lose weight earlier in my life started to really resonate with me. What did I have to lose, except some weight? So, essentially two weeks ago (plus a couple of days) I decided to give it a go. The results, so far, have been really encouraging.

In these two weeks, there are two changes that have encouraged me enough to make me believe that this is the way to eat for the rest of my life, one of those things was unexpected, and, to me, pretty damn amazing.

And that amazing thing? I have bad knees. One has been replaced and the other is bone-on-bone and needs to be replaced. For years my natural knee has been getting worse and worse and it has made walking very painful. I had finally come to the point where I knew I had to have it replaced as soon as I could. Then I started this diet. Within a week or so, I suddenly realized that my knee wasn’t hurting so much. In fact, the pain was probably less than half of what it was before, and it is a pain that I can live with now. That’s not to say that the knee shouldn’t be replaced, but I really don’t want to go through that any sooner than I have to, because it was no fun when I had the other knee replaced.

So what happened? It was inflammation! Eating the sugar and carbohydrates was creating inflammation in my body, and in particular in my knee. Often when you make a change in your life there can be a placebo effect, depending on your expectations. But this caught me totally by surprise. I had no expectation or even a thought that my knee would feel better (except later, maybe, if I took some weight off of it). This has really opened my eyes. And there’s an additional benefit. If my knee is doing so much better because of reduced inflammation, I have to believe that the rest of my body is experiencing similar effects, whether I can “feel” them or not.

And the other thing, though not really amazing and actually expected, is the improvement in my mental state. It’s pretty easy to think that what you eat doesn’t affect your psychological state, but it does. I have been feeling more positive and am not experiencing the highs and lows (actually, lows and lowers) that I was before. No, I’m not dancing in the streets with joy, but I’m actually finding that waking up each day is a good thing, rather than something that I am just going to have to suffer through again.

These two things alone are enough to keep me going. Well, that and the fact that since I have started eating this way, I have lost about fourteen pounds. That’s not chicken feed. Yes, I know my weight loss cannot continue at that pace, though I really wish I could get below 300 pounds like yesterday, but it is going in the right direction. It was a scary thought that at 330 pounds, it was likely that I would be putting on even more weight the way I was going.

So, I recommend to you, cut out the sugar, cut way back (and I mean WAY back) on the carbohydrates, increase your fat intake, and moderate your protein intake. You may be surprised and pleased with the results. I know I was, and I can only imagine that even better things are to come. Assuming, of course, that I live that long. But my odds are better now than they were before.

another pointless worry

So today I was a mess. I had myself worked up into such a state worrying over what the doctor was going to tell me about my test results. I was nauseous all day and couldn’t even take my morning medication because I kept choking on the pills. Stress can do strange things to you.

And, of course, there was nothing in the results to warrant all that worrying. No unidentified masses, no immediate threats to my survival, just the worsening back problem that I had seen the doctor about in the first place. Strange how the news that your back is worse can be a relief.

Not that a bad back is anything to be happy about. Physical therapy is next on the list to learn how to strengthen my body to help deal with the problem. The doctor talked about possible solutions for the future if it gets worse, but I really do not want to even think about back surgery. I’ve known too many people who have had surgery that has either not helped in end or has even made the situation worse. As long as I can find a way to deal with the pain, I’ll live with it.

It really is painful to worry over your health, but as you get older it just goes with the territory. It is worse for some people than for others, but everyone deals with a body that won’t go on forever. That is a really hard fact to accept. Maybe not accepting it and fighting it is the way to live a happier, longer life, but I’m not there yet, if I’ll ever be.