Posts Tagged With: Health

It’s the End of the World As We Know It

So yesterday was the day. The Day. I mean THE DAY.

After making plans to leave work early, I ended up taking the whole day off, knowing I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on much anyway. So I slept in, then grabbed my mom and we drove to Düsseldorf for my appointment with the clinic for the Endobarrier.

And what can I say? I went to Düsseldorf and talked to a doctor and all I got was this stupid picture of a cat house.

But let me start in the beginning.

I was already disheartened when we drove by the clinic and found it was quite a shabby little place, not what you would imagine an institution to look like that specializes in exciting new treatments to help people with body issues there wasn’t a solution for before. The car park pretty much looked like what I imagine the surface of Mars to be like. Hello, potholes filled with waters so vast I wasn’t sure if I was even in the same country when I made it out on the other end. Finding the way inside was equally challenging, with lots of signs leading nowhere or to locked doors.

Inside, the place seemed okay-ish enough and the assistant was nice but while I was talking to him, a doctor came along and gave me this strange look, then started talking about me with the assistant. Helloooo, I’m right here?! To my horror, he was the guy I was supposed to talk to and who’d put in the Endobarrier.

He told me to follow him, even though I was early, and then the first thing he said was that I was the wrong type of diabetes and why was I even there? I’m a type one and apparently, the treatment is only aimed at patients with a type two diabetes. I had only even seen type two mentioned everywhere in the flyers they’d sent me but since both, my diabetes counselor and her boss had recommended me, I figured that maybe the studies only referred to type two because there’d been more cases or whatever. I could have called them about it but let’s face it, when two specialists suggest something, such a minor detail doesn’t really make you suspicious, does it?

What bothered me the most was the way he was talking to me. Admittedly, from his point of view, the whole preparation was a mess. The form I’d had to fill out before wasn’t complete. There were things I didn’t know and when I’d handed it in to my doc to forward to the clinic, I’d attached a post-it with all the things that they should add, i.e. blood test results. Well, turns out they didn’t. Why hadn’t I attached something from a gym or somewhere showing timestamps of when I had worked out and where? Why wasn’t there anything about a food coach in there yet? Well, because no one had told me those were required! No, actually that’s not even true. Not only hadn’t they told me I didn’t need that at this point, they’d specifically said I should wait and that a food coach would be part of the Endobarrier treatment. No one told me I had to have completely at least two months with one of those to even apply for my insurance to cover the costs. And work out? Well, what do you do if you’re not a member of any gym? If I took up swimming, our local pool has annual memberships and you can come and go whenever you want. There’d simply be no way for me to prove this.

My favorite part of the talk was when he asked me how I felt about this and if I had any more questions and I said that, to be honest, I was quite mad at my doctor for not only giving me all the wrong information but also for letting me walk into this blindly because it was quite a waste of time. And the idiot said he wasn’t mad because it was his job to talk to people and if it wasn’t me, it would have been someone else, so it wasn’t a waste of time. Well, not for you! For me, it was months and months of time and energy wasted on hoping for something that won’t happen, a bunch of extra hours of work I could have taken off to do something fun and a trip to Düsseldorf for, well, nothing.

The only upside is, apparently they’d also lied about the possible weight loss results. According to my doctor, it would be at the very least 15%, probably a lot more. Well, the guy said I should expect a maximum of 20kg, probably a lot less because of how the weight is carried with me. I’m sorry, I know it isn’t only about weight loss here, but that result really wouldn’t be worth all the bureaucratic hassle it would take (another thing my doctor completely played down).

I was so very fucking mad! The first thing I did was cry. A lot. Then I got angry and bitched. A lot.

We were supposed to spend the rest of the day in Düsseldorf, do some shopping, have dinner… But suddenly I was very, very sick of that place and its posh people and its stupid doctors who probably drive a Porsche that they bought with money made from people’s tears. Yes, I’m being overdramatic!

So instead, we drove to a mall near my hometown where we had coffee and I bitched some more – my mom actually joining in this time. And then I went to my favorite lingerie store. I don’t know why but buying delicate things like lingerie that you get to carry home in pretty little bags and that get wrapped in gorgeous thin paper for you to unwrap like a gift when you get home…it’s just oddly satisfying. Even more so than shoes. And I did buy a bra and it is gorgeous and I love the bag I got for it. But still, it wasn’t the best idea I ever had. I love that chain and I love their products (especially because they carry actual wearable plus sizes in decent colors!) but the woman in the changing rooms in that branch just wouldn’t take no for an answer. She attacked me with a measuring tape and just kept poking her head into the cabin without asking and really, when you’ve spent the day dealing with all your imperfections and had your hopes crushed to get help with them (actually even being told yours are the wrong imperfections!), the last thing you need is another stranger taking a closer look at them! Didn’t stop me from buying, though. What ever stopped me from swiping my credit card through a card reader?

Anyway…bad day, hopes crushed, one more door closed. I’ll take a while to lick my wounds and then move on. Finding other ways, trying other things, moving forward in my own pace. Fuck ’em doctors, yo!

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Wake Up Call

I’m still sick as a dog and napping has become my favorite thing to do over the past few days. I like to stay up late and sleep in and that’s what I did yesterday. At around ten A.M., after about five hours of sleep, a buzzing sound woke me up. I vaguely remember checking the display of my phone and seeing an unknown number. I never answer those but something about this number struck me as important, so I picked up. And found myself speaking right to a very calm and kind female voice introducing herself as a doctor from the clinic where I applied for the Endobarrier.

Two things were clear to me right that instant: 1) I was nowhere near ready for that call and 2) I had my mother to thank for this. She’s been to see our doctor a few times lately and really stirred things up. I don’t remember giving her the permission to inquire about the progress whenever she went there, and neither do I remember giving the permission to be so open about it to my doctor. A part of me is really angry that they’ll just discuss me like that. But eh, it’s my mother, she knows what’s up and she’s usually the first person I call with news anyway, so I suppose getting mad about it is a waste of energy.

Anyway, the doctor said she feels I definitely qualify and that she and her team would like to meet me for an interview. Still sleepy and numb, I made an appointment for the 26th. And now I’m so nervous, you’d think I’m going in to meet my future husband!

I know there’s absolutely no reason in the world why I would not seize this opportunity. It’s completely free and there are no likely side effects. If it helps, it really helps a lot in many different ways. If it doesn’t help, that sucks but no worries, the thing will be out within a few days and leave nothing behind but a disappointing experience.

And yet, I’m suddenly a bit doubtful. Maybe it’s just the uneasy feeling I always have when going to an interview about absolutely everything. I know a look at me and my diabetes diary is enough and they’ll see I meet the requirements but I still feel like I need to prove something. But I also keep thinking that since I started organising my food intake according to the 5:2 system, the weight seems to come off by itself. It’s a stupid thought and will get me nowhere because I know the loss will slow down or even stop eventually. Plus, if I do the Endobarrier thing, it will come along with a nutrition tutor that will coach me and help me to stick to goals which I know I will have issues with on my own. But I don’t know, at this moment in time it feels like just taking the easy route when I could do it on my own. Which is really, really stupid thinking. I’ve seen this sort of ‘achievement shaming’ on MFP and other places, where people who’ve managed to lose weight with discipline alone often act as if that was somehow ‘better’. I get that it would probably fill you with more pride but what matters to me is the result and I guess if someone finally invents that magic pill that slims you down to your ideal weight, there’s not a single overweight person in the world who’ll refuse, so can we stop the holier-than-thou game?

Oh, I just don’t know! I guess I’ll just try not to freak out and go to that interview on the 26th and then take it from there. What I already know is that I do not want to do this before Mallorca. I’d have a major freak out if the thing was just in or I had just started eating normal food again and then I’m a two hour flight away from any doctor who could help if there’s an issue…

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Getting There

I didn’t think I’d get to post this so soon, more like mid-February or the beginning of March. But this morning, I stepped on the scale and woohoo, I broke the 130! In total, I’ve lost 7.9kg since December.

I’m wondering when this will slow down because I already expected it to do so after the first two weeks but apparently, the loss is still going well. I’m excited but still trying not to expect too much with every check-in.

Admittedly this week was made a lot easier by me being off sick. I was feeling way too bad to even crave food and even when I wasn’t supposed to fast, I rarely reached my limit. I’m pretty miserable but let’s focus on the good news. Yay, weight loss!

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Upwards and Onwards

I know it isn’t healthy or smart to weigh yourself too often. But after I had my second fasting day for this week yesterday, I couldn’t help but step on the scale again this morning. And I lost an entire kilo since Tuesday. Whaaaat? I’m sure a lot of it is water weight but I’m still quite chuffed.

Yesterday was a little bit harder than Tuesday in the way that I got food cravings last night. Which may or may not have been related to the fact that I was watching Game of Thrones and the commercial breaks were all about food, food and yet more food. Pizza, fish fingers, pasta, cheese…fooooood! But I managed to go the bed with under 500 calories yet again. I’ve also planned my meals and snacks a bit better and had low fat (1.5%) yogurt with blueberries and apricots for lunch. I forgot my stevia at home, so the yogurt itself was a little too sour for my taste but that’s fine, the fruit made up for it. For dinner I had mushrooms again. I eat them straight out of the can and I could eat five tons of them and don’t see myself getting tired of that anytime soon, to be honest. Where I’m not a big fan of mushrooms on pizza or as an ingredient in other dishes, I could just about live off the canned ones.

What I noticed really helps me to get through the day are caramel sweets like Werther’s Original. At 20 calories per piece, they don’t come cheap as far as low cal food goes. But they are so sweet, one is enough for me and they last for a good long while, so long that the craving is done and over with by the time I’ve finished one. I make sure to make the 20 calories part of my play for the day and use it as an emergency treat if necessary.

To be honest, I really expected the munchies to strike on Wednesday. And at first, it looked like they would. I wanted to eat all the junk food in the world at once but ended up staying under 2,000 calories anyway. And had some fruit and veggies, too. Smart food choices despite everything. Today isn’t that much worse. I already had a tuna wrap with a lot of veggies and salad and only one treat (a cream roll). So apparently fasting doesn’t turn me into a ravenous beast.

What I’ve also changed without being conscious of it is my water intake. I always drink a lot but it’s usually diet coke. Now I haven’t drunk that much water lately, either, but tea. With the cold and nasty weather, I find myself able to drink mug after mug after mug. That probably added to the weight loss.

And another upside of this 5:2 thing I noticed is that I need much less insulin. Yesterday, apart from my basal rates, I only needed 4 units of my regular insulin. Usually, on an average day, it comes up to around 30-40. Another thing that not only helps with the weight loss but is a lot healthier in the long run.

So far, I’m pretty happy with how this is working out for me. I don’t know if I’ll manage to fast while I’m in London from the 19th but it’s just four days and I may just use the two fasting days for the remaining week.

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Swan Dive

Despite not making any New Year’s Resolutions this year and especially not setting any too specific goals as far as weight loss is concerned, I, of course, thought about how to get back on track. Like five million other people, I suppose.

I need to get back to a gym routine but decided to postpone that for another month. Right now, the gyms are packed with a lot of New Year’s Resolutions and while I know that the crowd at the gym shouldn’t be a reason for me not to go, I just know that having to wait for ages and being squeezed in between a lot of strangers will make it such an unpleasant experience that I’ll only start coming up with excuses again before I can even find so much as a routine. So that will have to wait until February. I did, however, purchase one of those hyped 7 Minute Workout apps for me to get started again.

I also meant to be stricter with myself as far as food choices go.

For all this, I need to know where I’m at exactly right now, so I stepped onto the scale this morning. Now, checking my weight had become an irregular and one-a-month kinda thing since I found out that my doctor wasn’t lying when she said I mustn’t expect any miracles. The usual loss for me is about 100g-200g per week. I’m okay with that but it’s still not very motivating, so I check less often and see bigger results.

The last time I checked was mid-December and to be honest, with the holidays and me just not being very strict with myself, I fully prepared myself for a disappointment when I dug the scale out and put it in its usual spot this morning. And then nearly fell over when I saw the numbers. I lost a total of 1.6kg! Hooray! That’s huge for me. Also, I must be the only person who actually lost weight over the holidays.

I thought about why that happened because I didn’t really pay that much attention to what I ate. I am tracking calories on MFP again but I wasn’t exactly strict with myself. Now, some people would say it’s the usual case of things falling into place once you loosen up a little, but I don’t think it’s that easy. When I look back at the past month, what strikes me is that I had a lot of ups and downs as far as calorie intake goes. I had days in which I ate a lot and still felt hungry. But I also had days on which I could barely stomach food or when it was easy to only have three regular meals and nothing on the side.

This makes me think that I should give 5:2 a try. Originally I think it’s referred to as a ‘5:2 Diet’ but I feel like it isn’t an actually diet along with all the fasts or ‘Only eat insects that were born and raised in Uruguay twenty-three times a day for six and a half weeks’ diets. It’s something I could stick with infinitely because it isn’t so far from what people usually do anyway.

The basic idea is that you eat ‘normal’ five days a week, then eat very little on the remaining two. The general misconception seems to be that on the five ‘normal’ days, you can eat like a pig. Of course, it isn’t that simple. It doesn’t really matter what you eat, though it’ll still be better if you don’t eat trash, I suppose. And it definitely does matter how much you eat. A lot of websites say you should eat no more than 2,000 calories, though I would personally say that you should stick to whatever goal you already have when you’re trying to lose weight, set by i.e. MFP. A lot of people have a calorie goal of much less than 2,000 and personally, I’d stick to that. Mine is around that already, 2,040 to be precise, so for now I won’t change anything about that.

On the two fasting days, you shouldn’t eat more than 500 calories. They can but needn’t be consecutive days. I think it’s probably easier if you don’t do it two days in a row but hey, I’m only just starting out. Again, technically it doesn’t really matter what you eat but you’d probably want to be healthy, too. Plus, sure, you can eat a Mars bar and have some whole fat milk coffee-based drink, but see where that gets you when it needs to last you through 24 hours. The general consensus is that you should focus on protein and avoid carbs on those days, which makes sense. Veggies are very good, of course. As is fish, if you like that. Fruit is good for getting some calories, though you should be vary here as a lot of fruit are high in calorie.

Today is my first fasting day and I’m finding it surprisingly easy. I’m on the late shift this week, working till 10. I popped into the supermarket before work and hooked myself up with a fresh bell pepper, a can of mushroom heads, cherry tomatoes and a salad + low calorie French dressing from Weight Watchers. With hindsight, I should have planned the day more thoroughly because when I entered all of that (and it’s a lot, about a whole kilo of food, actually), I barely reached 250 calories, even if I have the entire pot of dressing which, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t even like. I’ll probably have to eat a banana to get anywhere remotely near the 500. But that is today. I’m feeling kinda meh and have an upset stomach anyway, so who knows what the next one will be like. I figured in the beginning I should only have them when I’m working because I find it easier to stick with then. I’m busy for the majority of the day and just taking a quick trip to the fridge or the store isn’t really possible.

I’ll definitely report how it’s going, how I’m doing, if it’s worth the effort (for me), etc. I’ll also look into making better food choices and finding recipes. I suppose for now, there’ll be a lot of salads and veggie snacks on the menu for me to stay under the 500 calories but that may get very boring very soon, so it’ll be good to have some more choice.

In the long run, I hope to not just use this as a ‘quick’ diet but incorporate it into my daily life. It seems easy enough, considering as I don’t always have the same appetite and cravings anyway. Also, I’m completely free about deciding which days to fast and which to indulge, so I hope it’ll show some good results.

If anyone has tried this before and has made any good or bad experiences, feel free to share the wisdom with me.

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Angels In Everyone

Saturday was probably the worst day of my life. As bad days go, it started pretty unspectacular. I got up, I went to work, I got home, I called my mom who said she wanted to go to the mall, so I came along. I bought new shoes, then I wanted new pants, too. My mom said she felt hot, so I told her to take her coat off. Then she said the lights were weird and flimmering and I agreed, the artificial lights in the store were pretty annoying. Then she said she was feeling a bit dizzy, so I said she should sit down. Then she couldn’t walk anymore, so I helped her to take a seat.

And then it started. My own personal worst nightmare.

My mom started shaking and spazzing. True, actual spasms that her banging her head against the wall. At first I thought she was…I don’t even know what I was thinking. It was one of those surreal situations that usually happen in dreams which are so crazy that you’re actually calm because you know they can’t be true, so there must be a good explanation. But she wouldn’t stop and she couldn’t speak anymore, so I flipped.

The end of the story was that my mom’s blood sugar was so far down, she had some spasms. Someone called an ambulance and she was taken to hospital where, luckily, they got her blood sugar up again quite quickly and she was allowed to come home again with me. Which is good and a relief but the shock from seeing her like that just won’t wear off. When I got home on Saturday night, I was so tired, I couldn’t even think and fell asleep pretty easily. But since then, I’ve had a mini panic attack every night before I could go to sleep. Like sleeping was dangerous. Like sleeping means I won’t notice if something happens to her again. In all sincerety, I thought I was gonna lose my mom on Saturday. It isn’t even about her bringing it onto herself because she’s so careless that’s keeping my worry alive (well, that too), it’s just the simple fact that it’s something I cannot and will never control. Even if she takes care of herself – or anyone I care about, actually – there’s always so much that can happen or may already be happening that you cannot help. Awful things like cancer or accidents or a violent stranger. It’s always been a worry of mine but since Saturday, it seems so much more acute.

But anyway, although I needed to get that out, this entry wasn’t supposed to be about myself and how very much this affected me. What I originally intended to write about are angels. Not the religious ‘sent from God’ kind or any supernatural spirits or maybe even the spirits of the dead. No, I mean people that just happen to always be there when they’re needed. Actually, I mean two (or actually five) specific people.

Because when that thing happened with my mom, before the ambulance was even called, before I even realised what was going on, a young woman seemed to come out of nowhere. Not only did she immediately step in to help, she also happened to be a professional. In all the chaos, I didn’t get exactly what her job was but apparently she works with diabetes patients a lot and had seen such spasms many times before. She was there with her mother, sister and a young man who I think was her partner and they all knew so much about diabetes, too. And, which was even more amazing, they immediately took care of me, too. They took me aside and while the young woman helped my mom, her family talked to me and calmed me down and hugged me. I’ve never been hugged by a stranger before. Hell, most members of my family never hug me or anyone else! And these people were just…there. As if I was part of their family. I’ve never met anyone who was that kind. There wasn’t anything creepy about it at all and I didn’t even feel awkward. I think if they hadn’t been there, not only would my mom have hurt herself but I would have also gone bat shit crazy. I’m so, so mad at myself for not asking for their names or numbers, so I could have given them something back, even just a small gift. My mom already said we should look into finding them through Facebook or a radio station or something like that. Although I have a hard time believing they’re even real. They truly seemed like angels to me, the way they just popped up out of nowhere.

And, since those were four people, there’s still one missing that I already said deserves a mention here. Who’s actually not popped up out of nowhere but still is always exactly where I need her when I need her and that’s my very, very good friend Mel. While the ambulance guys worked on my mom, the helpers asked if there wasn’t someone I could or should call, a father, a sibling, any family member. And the first person I thought of was Mel. I have an uncle, I have two aunts…but she’s the first person I thought of when they asked me about my family. Because she’s always there. I called her as soon as I could and, as she has so often, she managed to get me grounded again. I really hope that everyone has a person like her in their life, whether it’s actual blood family or someone you just made your family, just someone that you can call anytime, for any big or small reason, who will be honest with you but still have your back either way. And boy, do I know I’m making that hard for her sometimes most of the time.

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Talking To Doctors Or Why I Smell of Mettwurst

Today started with more bad news. Although bad is relative here. My mother was told she’d have to stay in hospital for at least two more weeks. The thing is that neither of us truly understands why. Something to do with an inflammation and bone marrow and…something else.

My family is looking back at a long tradition of holding a love-hate relationship with doctors. This is because I’ve come to realize that the majority of them like to speak in their own language while simultaneously assuming that everyone they meet is on the same professional level. For some reason, they seem to hold a firm believe that as soon as you fall ill, even before you know, before they know, what you have, you immediately know every small, dirty detail and meet them at eye level whenever they’re talking to you.

On the other hand, there is me and the rest of my family. We have a lot of good and at least as many bad traits, many skills and many flaws. But what really can’t be said about us is that we’re very persistent. Nor are we very confident. I personally suffer from enough self-loathing to always assume I am wrong, even when, deep inside, I know I’m right. So when I’m talking to a medical professional of some sorts, I find it difficult not only to question them but also to simply ask when something isn’t clear to me.

I thought of this on Saturday, when I was indulging in some an obscene amount of retail therapy to fight the depression that came with having to go and cancel our flight to Vienna, our hotel, and the restaurant reservation I had made as a birthday present for my mom. Having to find a substitute gift, I made my way to Lush to buy her a bottle of her favorite – obscenely expensive, sorry Lush! – shower gel. While there, I figured I could as well pick up a bar of their much loved shampoo. Several of my friends are huge fans of their solid shampoos and I had also heard that some of them work well when you have a medical condition. Which I do. About a decade ago, a doctor told me I have a mild case of neurodermitis on my scalp. I’ve suffered from an itchy scalp and dry, flaky skin for as long as I can remember. When I shared this information with a friend lately, I was once again told that people around me never really notice. But as with many things that bother you about yourself, what may be invisible to others seems like a huge issue to you. I always feel like everyone just looks at me and thinks ‘Eww!” So flash back again to that doctor some ten years ago. After announcing this to me, he gave me some gel-like substance which I was supposed to massage into my scalp and wear. It reeked like hell, turned the roots of my hair into a sticky mess, barely even touched my skin because it gathered in my hair and – worst of all – I wasn’t supposed to wash it out but leave it in for a day, then wash it out and reapply it right away. For weeks. I did this for about a week and apart from the itching getting worse, nothing happened, so I stopped using it. When I shared this with the doctor, he didn’t get my problem with it at all.

About five years later, I made another attempt at getting professional help. The diagnose was the same and this time, I was given a hellish concoction that smelled even worse, was completely liquid so most of it ended up dripping to the floor and itched even more. Needless to say, I stopped using that stuff pretty soon as well. Not after sharing my bad experience with my doctor and being laughed at again. Well, thanks!

So when I heard about the wonders Lush’s shampoo had worked for other people with skin conditions, I figured I’d give it a try. I was a little disheartened when I found out that there’s an army of wonderfully scented shampoos – flowers, fruit, lavender, cinnamon… – and the one suitable for me smells of a pile of good old German mettwurst (Soak and Float, in case you want to go for a sniff). Yuck! I wasn’t so sure if I should buy it because who wants to walk around smelling like that, right? But my hope a little bit of relief was bigger and I picked it up. I used it for the first time today and was relieved to find the smell vanishes after a few minutes. Okay, my hair doesn’t smell like lemongrass and wildflowers anymore but I guess I can live with that. Straight after washing I noticed that the usual itching wasn’t there. The worst usually happens during the night after washing, so let’s see what tonight will look like. So far, I’m pretty optimistic that there’ll be at least some improvement after a long term use.

So after this little venture into the history of my dermatologically problematic history of personal hygiene, let’s round this up with the current state: My mother is facing two more weeks in history (at least), we don’t know the details of what she has except that she is feeling fine (very!) but still needs infusions several times a day. She’s alright with it, except that she has to share the room with two other patients, one of which can’t talk, the other simply refuses to. So if something is gonna kill her in the near future, it’ll be boredom.

I’m somewhat okay with this (with her staying there longer than we thought, not with her dying of boredom). It puts more pressure on me but since we know (somewhat) what’s up and she’s feeling better, I’m not too worried anymore which is a relief. I’m also off work this week and the next. It’s annoying to always have to include a trip to the hospital in my plans but I can make that work. Except for tomorrow when I’ll take a day off to see a friend and finally go to see Guardians of the Galaxy at the theater (Rocket!!!!!!). I’m still mourning our trip to Vienna but, as I’ve told several people lately, with what happened, the outcome could have been way worse.

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