Sunday, December 19, 2010

Over and Done? Maybe not.

As much as I feel really done and done over by the situation with my hip joints (and by the way, have I mentioned that I think I have the same thing going on in my shoulders?), some habits die hard.  Two months ago while I was having one of my experimental infusions, I had a long and tearful conversation with my doctor about night times and how many times I had to get up to go to the bathroom, woken up from my sleep in the wee hours of the morning for that very need.  We talked about the stress in my life, how terrible my eating habits had become.  (This was the conversation that I desperately wanted to have with Richard, but he was busy with other people, I already wasn't regular in class and when I turned up, I was usually late, and as I figured out a few weeks ago, he really didn't want to hear about my dietary and exercise woes as it related to my serious health issues anyway.)  The doctor and I agreed that I immediately had to do two things:

1.)  Normalize the hours in which I was eating dinner.  Eric's family had a habit of eating dinner when it was convenient, say around 9 to 10pm or so.  That was devastating for my condition as even though food does not digest right away, eating that late prompts the GI system to go into overdrive and that would be a partial cause for my 20 to 25 trips to the bathroom during the 6 to 7 hours of sleep that I was able to get nightly.  (There's no catching up during the day for me as the pills that I take every morning are stimulants, making a nap completely impossible.)

2.)  Reduce the stress.  Stress does not cause auto-immune problems, but it sure does make them worse.  This home has been a nerve-wrecking situation for me from the normal woes of transitioning from 53 years of being single and "free" to having to deal with the constant commotion of four kids, three of whom are ADD and the fourth with serious issues and who sleeps during the day and wanders the house at night.  In other words, there is not an hour in the day here that the activity doesn't stop.  Add to that a new marriage and since I've been a solitary creature all my life, purposely isolating myself during a great part of that time, although I love Eric with all my heart and wouldn't change a thing, learning how to do the marriage thing has been a terribly steep learning curve.  Additionally, as funny as this sounds, going from living in abject poverty where I didn't know if I would have enough money to make it through the month and be able to feed both myself and especially my dogs into a situation where we're decidedly middle class has been like going through a time warp...  it's too weird to need something and just be able to go out and get it and it stresses me out too.

But the truth is that since the wedding and the reception have been completed and we're able to focus all our energy directly on our home and our way of life (this has been a transition for Eric too as things that he lived with - not happy situations but necessary as there are only so many hours in the day and the time spent managing four kids meant that a lot of things that turn a house into a home had to go by the wayside) , things are definitely getting better.  Not that things are under control yet, but even with the discovery with this last rain that our indoor water fall feature has not been fixed, I was able to resort to simple sarcasm and a post on Facebook linked up to a You Tube video rather than break down in tears, and this morning, I'm almost (so far) finding the situation amusing.  Yes, things are getting better.  Oh yes they are.

One area in which it is evident is our eating patterns.  Mornings and lunch, it's all men (and women and children) for themselves.  The kids are old enough and are used to foraging for food on their own.  I wish they were in the habit of picking up after themselves, but they've had years of training from Eric that he will take care of everything and it's culture shock for them too as I've been holding them accountable for their own messes, and their own laundry, and other things that they've never had to deal with consistently before.  Eric has jumped onto the bandwagon where this is concerned, and although it's very hard for him not to help them when they request it (and what they need is stupid), and it's very hard for him not to respond when they have a crisis (again, stupid crises... we're both right there when their needs are legitimate), he has taken steps in the right direction which renews my respect for him - what he's doing is really hard and I know it - and reinforces both my love for him and makes me sure that loving and marrying him was the right decision.  Despite the anguish that I face at least every other day and is actually mostly daily that mostly brings me to tears.  I'm going through a lot of fake eyelashes right now due to the tears but again, note that we're (by that I mean me)  now middle class, I know a place that sells them for only $2.00 per set and they are of terrific quality, and I can suddenly afford to cry and wreck them, knowing that I can buy more if I need to.  Weird.

But after that doctor's appointment, the fateful one where he insisted that I needed to start cleaning up my act and especially in the area of the times that I am eating, I had a two-day long discussion with Eric and he is so sweet and so incredibly supportive that we implemented the philosophy and are actually mostly holding to it now.

We have a menu chalk board in the family room right next to the kitchen where I am outlining the dinners that I plan for the week.  The plan is fluid in that sometimes life gets in the way and we end up bringing food in from the outside rather than keep to the plan.  Sometimes I flex the menu as we don't have ingredients or the kids really protest what's on for the day.  But planning meals is something I didn't do at all when I was living by myself; I was successful at losing weight because I only had me to look out for and it was easy to keep the healthy foods around the house and just figure out what to make out of them when the meal came up.  Now we're living with human vacuum cleaners and who knows what's going to be left by mid afternoon?

But the posted plan is helpful.  I can refer to it and know what ingredients are needed in the home, and try to ensure that we pick them up early in the day, and last night was another successful dinner.  Yes, originally we planned to have taco night, but we had pulled out chicken breasts for the stuffed baked chicken that I had planned two nights ago and had not used because I was so busy that day that we ended up bringing in Chinese.  So I went with the chicken meal, and although the kids are chafing at having to eat mostly healthy and especially that we don't bring in take-out food (they just LOVE In and Out) very often, more often than not, they're eating what I am making.  Maybe not at dinner time when they protest that they don't like what I have put on the table and refuse to taste it, but later in the evening when they make yet another trip to the "outside" refrigerator where Eric used to keep all sorts of frozen junk food for them to make for their midnight forays (frozen pizzas, hot pockets, mozzarella sticks... you get the picture) and find that the cupboard is bare.  (Thank you Eric; although that food left me cold, the act of them eating junk food all the time was making me want to go do bad things myself.)

And so, again, last night I was able to present a healthy dinner that was really good too.

Stuffed Baked Chicken Breasts:  Butterfly the chicken breasts.  I made the stuffing out of Italian Seasoned bread crumbs that had Garlic in them, Parmesan Reggiano, Parsley, Mozzarella, and a little bit of Italian Dressing to hold the concoction together (no, it's not the lowest calorie stuffing, but the portion size was dictated by the breast itself, I didn't make any extra to cook on the side, and it was somewhat kid friendly). I made the stuffing in the food processor so there was very little mess.   Bake the prepared chicken in a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Roasted Butternut Squash:  Costco cubed butternut squash with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Cooked at the same time in the same oven as the chicken.
And a salad that featured vegetables in all five colors.  (I learned that it was really important from a nutrition standpoint to try to get vegetables of all five colors in every day from a nutrition class that I used to attend.)
Cherry tomatoes, Red-Orange-Yellow bell peppers, Avocado, Green onion, Red cabbage, and Costco's spring mix of greens, with the croutons that the kids love available on the side but no longer mixed into the salad.
That way, they can have a little bit of what they like in the salad but 1.)  We can each exercise our own version of portion control when it comes to this as well as the salad dressing - note that the entire salad was on a Lazy Susan,  2.)  The croutons don't get soggy, ruining the salad as we want to eat it as leftovers.  With the next salad, I'm going to introduce Pine Nuts and Dried Cranberries as optional additions too.  That will be tonight since the salad wasn't finished last night.

Eric & I set a goal for having the dinner meal on the table any time between 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm and since we made this our desired time to eat, we've only missed twice.  Twice in two months!  Exceptionally good considering how erratic the times we were eating were before.  And the regularly scheduled meals as well as the fact that they are balanced, meaning that I don't need to keep going back to the kitchen all night on forays, have decreased my nocturnal bathroom trips down from 25 to 30 times a night to maybe 5.  What a difference!

I don't know what's scheduled for tonight's meal; I will need to get up and dressed and check our menu board shortly.  I have a feeling that I may have to stop at the market for an item or two.  But I know that once again we will be successful at doing what we mean to do because instead of just having good intentions, we are actually enacting our plans into reality.

The next nut for me to crack as it relates to healthy lifestyle, is exercise.  This is going to be a tough one.  As I've mentioned, the situation with my hips is very serious indeed, and I've been instructed for right now not to walk for more than 10 minutes, no elliptical, no exercise class, and the walk is not to be a power walk but instead just a meander up and down the street.  I don't know what the future holds where exercise is concerned, but I'm starting to adjust my outlook and we'll see where it takes me.

The good news is that the mystery of the fainting issue that has plagued me for so many years is done and over with thanks to the addition medication for a slow thyroid (it turns out that the "borderline slow" thyroid that everyone was hesitant to treat was more than borderline; the blood tests showing it as borderline were not telling the whole story, and I was going in and out of thyroid crisis, causing the faints and explaining the tingling sensation in my neck and chest I'd experience that nobody quite believed because this symptom of slow thyroid is so rare that it's quite unbelievable).  I don't have to worry about that anymore as I not only exercise but also live my regular life.  You have no idea how freeing it is not to have to worry all the time about finding myself on the floor at a moment's notice in most any venue, with paramedics called and me yelling that they were not to touch me.  It's hard to believe... the solution was so easy but we didn't know we were solving it when the pills were added to my daily regimen.  What a happy health surprise!

And so, now, the day is about to begin.  The kids have been making more and more noise and screaming for their father even as we both decided to sleep in on this rainy Sunday.  Eric has been marvelous about ignoring them as he should... they need to learn to respect our private space - the bedroom with the door closed - but Miles has just broken that seal, crying that Gabby slammed his neck down on concrete.  He looks none-the-worse for wear, but I probably need to get up and see what's going on, leaving Eric in bed to sleep a little longer.

For me, sleep is not a possibility at this point.  I have taken my morning medications; the newly increased dose of thyroid combined with a stimulant.  I have a fantasy now of perhaps being weaned off the stimulant  since the lethargy maybe perhaps could be attributed to the more-than-slow thyroid too although I have not ventured even a peep of an opinion about this to my doctors yet, but it would be nice not to be an Adderal "addict" although addiction is not really in play here since there is a difference between being drug dependent and drug addicted.  I'm going to stay the course for the time being, seeing if the increased Thyroid medication makes a palpable difference to my daily living before suggesting that we try reducing Adderall doses; I don't want to jump the gun too quickly on this because 1.)  We don't really know what was happening in the first place to prompt the prescription except that I had such a low energy level that I literally couldn't rouse myself from bed without it to even take care of basic hygiene issues like brushing my teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, 2.)  That it was determined between my entire team of Doctors and Therapists - with a Psychiactric consult - with me in complete agreement that my lethargy had nothing to do with depression but definitely was based upon a physical problem, and 3.)  That the Adderall was a necessary component and that was confirmed by the fact that a normal side effect was decreased appetite and weight loss; I experienced neither of these and in fact, have gained weight (I hope now that this will be reversed thanks to my speedier thyroid).

For now, I'm going to take these successes and build upon them.  There are three major points in my life that can be used as benchmarks to show that I am establishing a new normal.  1.)  I am working again.  Check out my Etsy store ( to see how much I've posted, and I'm also making a decided effort to fufill all the promises of jewelry and accessories made throughout this year that I let lapse due first to health and then transition issues, and I also have a new line of jewelry (mixed media) as well as a schedule of classes to teach and I'm entered into more Juried Competitions which is very exciting for me, indeed, even as I don't know if my work is up to placing in the top three yet but I know that it's good and I know it deep in my gut, and it's getting better all the time.  Check this out:

I'll explain what this is in a future blog post when I'm ready to talk about my "Spring to Summer" line, but I'm really excited about the potential.

Second, menu planning and a concerted effort to move towards a more healthy lifestyle for the whole family.

And finally, third, I've started reading again.  I just finished "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls (LOVED it... Dr. Muti suggested that I read this well over a year ago and I'm glad that I never forgot his recommendation, even as the therapeutic crisis that prompted this recommendation passed and I don't even remember what it was), and now I'm about 1/3 the way through "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Loving it too!  Fiction, a mystery, talked about / recommended over and over again by many people including Richard, and I never did get to the top of the list at the Library to check it out, so I broke down and bought it.  I'm glad I did.  I'm getting a chapter or two of something read every single night.

And so, even as I am angry at new medical developments, upset with an injustice I feel was done to me in the guise of 'helping' but I have a feeling was motivated by personal circumstances by the person involved, and I miss my friends terribly since I never see them since taking on the role of family-woman and Step mom, I am also growing more happy and content and in control of my life.  The next step for me, I think, is to start trying to reunite with my friends.  I"m not sure quite how to do that yet... most of them are single or have outgrown small children and I don't know how they will cope with the chaos that is all day, every day here, but we'll see.  I'm feeling positive that somehow, we'll work things out.


Adele said...

I'm glad to read a happy, positive post revealing that a life chaotic can be a happy life as well.

Maybe you should turn your indoor waterfall into a game. Place bets on how much water will be collected in an hour. I'm sure you can think of some sort of prize.

Enjoy the rain from the inside. I've got the blinds completely open and don't mind watching it pour, as I have no place I have to be today.

Anonymous said...

Glad to read upbeat post and things changing directions.

Much love to you. Miss you


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