llcoolvad: (newer)
My surgery was on June 15, right about when I thought it would be. I got to the hospital a little late, 1:15 instead of 1, and they took me pretty much right away—surgery was scheduled for 3pm but they had a cancellation. So that was good. I woke up around 5 I think, that part is blurry, and eventually they moved me up to my room. My roommate was mostly silent until they did anything to her, like touch her arm or try to get her to answer all the neuro questions—What is your name? Where are you? What city are we in? What state is that in?—and then she’d either just moan, or for variety’s sake sometimes she’d whine. They had to do stuff to her all the time, like at least once an hour, so it was not peaceful.

I had a really long night of no sleep. Got my x-ray around 4:30am. Listened to my roommate howl in pain and anger (although a lot of it was just drama, because at one point the doctor was saying “I haven’t even touched you yet, you need to calm down”) for about 30 minutes when they took out her chest tube around 8am. I had overheard some of the nurses talking about her and apparently she was detoxing and she’d had a stroke and some kind of accident and she was only in her early 20s so I felt bad for her but really, she was SO obnoxious that I lost that sympathy after a while. I even recorded some of her screaming because it was almost funny (“stop! That friggen hurts! Owwwwwwww!”). Was discharged around 11 and left around 12 when Patrick picked me up. Home, yay!

What was good about the whole experience was how instantly my pain was gone. I had a LOT of throat pain—to perform this surgery they go in through the front, shove over your esophagus and whatever other junk is in your neck, and carve up your back from the inside, so your esophagus hurts like a bitch for days. But my arm pain and back pain and neck pain was just all gone. I have occasional soreness in the surgical area—so deep inside my back, right between the top of my shoulders—but it feels like nothing compared to the nerve pain I had, so I barely pay attention to it. I can’t take ibuprofen/NSAIDs for 90 days after surgery, just Tylenol feh, so all my other aches like my knee and my lower back are really noticeable right now. But again, it’s all good comparatively. I’ve graduated out of PT as of today. I’m still seeing my massage therapist because why the fuck not? It’s awesome. And she’s helping with the lower back and leg issues so that’s good. No ibuprofen, just massage.

So I had a month off from work. To be completely honest, I probably could have gone back easily at the two week mark. If I desperately had to, I probably could have worked at the one week mark. But the extra two weeks allowed me to get extra sleep and to be able to lie down whenever I wanted when I got kind of tired. It also helped because partway through my recovery I had to suddenly find a nursing home for my aunt. So she finally had a feeding tube inserted in her abdomen at the end of June. She had some respiratory issues, however, so the hospital kept her for a week or so. On the Thursday before the holiday weekend (July 4th) we got contacted by the hospital that my aunt couldn’t be moved back to her former facility because she no longer qualified for that level of care. It was a hard core rehab place and now that she had the feeding tube she could be moved to a skilled nursing facility and her insurance wanted that to happen STAT.

My cousin and I did some research and found a five star place on my street. Our thinking was that if we could move her near mother and me, we could really be involved in her care and see her a lot more often, etc. My cousin lives in CT and Mass Health wouldn’t cover an out of state facility, so we had to pick somewhere here. Makes sense. Anyway, she moved in, and we were pretty excited about the things they offered—lots of personalized care, lots of PT, more people around. Her transition wasn’t smooth. She seemed very unhappy that she wasn’t back at the previous place, but she was getting used to it. Then eight days after she moved in she died in the middle of the night. They told us they did a bed check, went back a couple hours later and she was gone. That seems ok to me; peaceful. No last minute rush to the hospital, no heroic efforts. She was 89 and was ready to go, so I’m glad she finally did.

We used the same funeral home as we used for my Dad. They’re (of course) really nice there. We had her cremated, then had a private graveside burial ceremony a few weeks later because the majority of the family could be there then. We had a lunch afterward at a restaurant near the cemetery and it was very nice. I’ve been pretty exhausted since then. Stress, I guess. My aunt’s property and estate all needs to still be sorted out, as her will named her dead brother as her executor and my aunt with Alzheimer’s as his backup, so we need a new executor named and they need to start working on the problem. Thank god that it won’t be me. I did my part, though. I notified everyone (pension, insurance, trust, condo, cell phone, credit cards, charities, etc.), so at least nothing urgent is pending. I just wish the family would get it together and get the probate filed. Whatever, not my problem! I have three cousins who went to law school. One of them can deal. One of them isn’t even working right now, and is living in NH until December, so he’d be the perfect choice. And his mother is the one named in the will as executor, so that would seem to be perfect. Just don’t know what all the delay is about.

So that’s what’s been going on. Good and bad. Anyway, I am going to take a couple of days off and head out to Western Mass towards the end of this month. Get away from everything, eat some good food, go to a museum or two, hang with Suzanne. Should be good and should give me some quality relaxing.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Ugh. This hasn’t been the best year so far between my back and my aunt. Let’s start with my aunt.

Cut because 2000 words! )

OK. I will stop whining now. My problems are not so large. Pain just makes everything bleaker, you know? Feh.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Weather: (FEB 15) OK, as of January 23 we'd only had 5.5 inches of snow for the whole season. We've had 90 inches since then. 90. Seven and a half feet. Today is February 15. So in approximately 24 days we've had seven and a half feet of snow. It's like the freaking apocalypse. It's incredibly claustrophobic. It's impossible to pull out of driveways, which also means it's impossible to drive down streets without worrying that someone is going to pull out of a driveway into you. When you try to go somewhere, it's a lengthy search for parking. Just depressing.

Really it's the mental aspect more than the physical for me. I haven't had to shovel much. Van takes care of all the snow removal (which because of my chest is a Really Good Thing). But the cabin fever and the feeling that there's nowhere to go and no way to get there is just hard. Plus it's been mostly gray every day. Every day. Ugh.

----

(MAR 15) I left that for the record. I was too depressed to continue. So it's now March 15 and today we broke the snowfall record for Boston for all time. 108.6" of snow this season—they count snowfall seasons from July 1 to June 30, so we will probably get more, since there's already more in the forecast for this week. Previous record was 107.6 back in 1995 (which I must have shoveled, because I would have been in Watertown and going to school and working in Waltham at the time, but I don't remember. It was probably more reasonably spread out over the season then). But honestly, if we hadn't made the record I would have been depressed! It's deal-withable now. We had over a week of warm weather and sunshine, so we've lost the opressive towers and we're down to a normal amount on the ground.

I'm not up to peak mood yet, but I am not completely unable to cope, either. Progress.

----

Stuff: So my belongings are split right now between three places. I have my daily stuff with me at Mom's house. I have a lot of stuff like books in Patrick's attic. And I have a small amount of stuff in a storage unit. Couple days ago I got a call from my storage unit. A few weeks ago the building next door fell down, or something, and we were all locked out for a few weeks until they could inspect and make sure it was safe to go back in. Well, we're allowed to go back in as of tomorrow, and we're not just allowed, but ENCOURAGED to stop by because when the building fell down it took out its sprinkler system and the water runoff from that building ran into our building and they don't know how many units are water damaged so we're all supposed to stop by and check. Awesome!

Between this incident, the LAST flood at the same storage place, the flood in my garden apartment, and the flood in mother's basement, I am not meant to have any belongings at all. It's just not ever going to work out for me. I need to just get rid of my stuff. Screw all of it. It's just my first 50 years. I don't need it. Everything I need I have with me already. I need to get maybe six boxes out of Patrick's attic of papers and photos, and get that digitized. Beyond that? Screw it all. I don't need the 2,000 books. The crates of records. Tools. Kitchen stuff. Towels. And whatever the fuck else is up there. And I certainly don't need whatever is in the storage unit. It's stuff I had in Patrick's basement. So it's like Christmas tree stands and my futon and some other random crap. Who needs stuff?

Sigh.

----

Health: kinda dodgy, really. I have been sort of ignoring my diabetes the last few months. Part of my depression. So last week I decided to take a blood sugar reading and...not good. At all. So I put myself back on insulin (I still had some unopened pens from pre- and post-surgery) and have been taking it for a little over a week. And it's made me gain about a pound a day. CHRIST. So I need to figure out a solution there. My pants are tight and it's making me grumpy. AND my blood sugar is better, but not GREAT. I might have to see my doctor. I can't deal with doctors still right now.

And my chest still freaking hurts often. And it pops and clicks and grinds, sometimes, especially when I drive. I've been coughing and it sucks. And my leg hurts. And my feet feel swollen sometimes. And blah blah blah --- all the usual ailments. Tired of this!

----

Work: Ups and downs. Got a raise. Got a really good review. Didn't get promoted yet. Finished a huge project, in the middle of another, feel like I'm not making anyone happy, but what the fuck, kinda don't care. Get to work from home when I want to. 10 minute drive from my house. Work with my bestie. I'll keep doing it for now. If I can get my shit together this year, finish healing up and such, maybe I'll think about something else. But for now, status quo. Took a "sick" day a couple weeks ago, went shopping, saw a movie, had some lunch. Much better than working. Will do that again in a few weeks. Gotta get through the long stretch between holidays somehow (we go from Jan 1 until Memorial Day with not a single holiday).

----

Entertainment: Pretty much the thing keeping me going. Movies, tv, and books. Fewer books, more movies, lots of tv. I should update my lists. Blah.

----

Short-term plans: So this week I'd like to make a few inroads:

  • Visit storage. Is everything damaged? Is nothing damaged? Make decisions.
  • Eat better.
  • Get caught up on laundry, etc.

Start small.
llcoolvad: (newer)
So it's been six months (give or take a couple days) since my surgery. Before I had it, I expected that I'd be 100% back to normal by now, and I'd probably be going to the gym and losing weight and feeling pretty good.

The reality is a bit different. I feel probably about 90% now. I have some energy. I have no real pain unless I sneeze or cough. I have reasonable mobility in my body. On the other hand, I still get short of breath. I still hurt when I sneeze or cough. I can feel my chest sort of roaming around sometimes. When I tilt my head back my incision is super tight (and when I get up in the morning I sometimes stay hunched over a bit because to straighten feels really uncomfortable).

Little things cause setbacks. Like when I got a cold at the end of December, I felt almost as bad as I did around week three because of all the coughing. I felt so much pain in my side that I went to urgent care last week and had them do chest x-rays to see if I'd cracked a rib (I didn't! Yay!).

I'm also not totally back to full capacity at work. It's a good thing my boss believes in me. I have been running at about 70% productivity since maybe late November? And before that I wasn't more than 50%. So I'm improving, but not all the way there yet.

But damn. Six months is a long time to be recovering. I can't imagine what it must feel like to not recover. To be sick all the time, every day. That spoons concept, where you only have so many spoons in a day and sometimes you just run out when you're disabled? I get that totally now. And I've now had a bunch of days where I ran out of spoons. I couldn't be more grateful that I am slowly getting another spoon here and there, every few weeks.

The last two weeks I've been trying to force myself to get to bed earlier. I might be one of those beta sleepers (as one of my friends called it), but I have the ability to fall asleep pretty quickly, so at least if I force myself I can get maybe 6.5-7 hours per night. And I'm drinking a lot of water, taking all my pills (including some supplements: potassium, D3, biotin, zinc, and a multi—thinking I might add in a B of some kind), and trying to eat better at least during the day. I still am snacking at night, so maybe I can cut that out. And on weekends I tend to only eat two larger meals, which isn't very good. I guess I am at 70% effort in taking care of myself. Maybe next week I can get it to 80%.

Anyway, closing in on bedtime. Tomorrow I want to get a bunch of things done. Laundry, housecleaning, maybe file taxes, do a little work, pay some bills. What I don't want to do is get distracted and get to 9pm with nothing accomplished. Here's to that.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Haven't updated in a while. It's now been four months since my surgery. I've had a bunch of tests recently because my breathing issue hasn't resolved (I can't walk very far or very fast without getting out of breath), and I would like it to. A couple of CAT scans (I've had four this year. I probably glow now), a bunch of blood work, etc. I had an appointment with a pulmonologist, who took me for a walk with a pulse ox on my finger and who kind of freaked out when a brief walk up the slightest of inclines pumped my heart rate to 140*. Had his staff do an instant EKG. That turned out to be fine. So he then scheduled me for a battery of tests: pulmonary, echocardiogram (HATED that, so painful pushing on my incision site for 40 minutes), and a stress test. Didn't get enough data from all of that, so a little over a week ago I had an invasive stress test (they referred to it as the "Cadillac of stress tests"). This involves inserting two catheters: one catheter in the neck, which allows them to feed an electrode into the patient's heart, and then an arterial IV in the arm, so they can take arterial blood during the test.

(* I was taking Tramadol at the time, which can have the side effect of increased heart rate. I stopped taking it when I figured that out, and haven't seen it that high since then. I am completely pain-med-free right now, so at least that's not affecting my breathing/heart rate at all)

So they wheeled me into an operating room to insert the catheters. Asked what kind of music I wanted to listen to. I jokingly said The Clash, so within a minute they had London Calling queued up on Pandora. Amusing. The procedure was a bit scary, however. But the surgeon told really bad doctor jokes and kept me distracted. It didn't hurt beyond the needle with the numbing agent. But it was disturbing anyway. They're threading an electrode through a tube in my neck into my HEART! Gross. And it was more vigorous than I would have expected. And the arterial IV just GUSHED blood initially all over my hand. Also gross.

Once I was cleaned up I was wheeled into the stress test room. They hooked me up to a bunch more electrodes (like for an EKG) and then attached them all to a belt around my waist. They had an IV stand hooked up with fluids (?) also attached, and they made me climb up onto an exercise bike, where they taped my feet onto the pedals. Then the echocardiogram technologist came in, and he was about 12. He stuck his hand down inside my johnny with the ultrasound wand, threaded his way through all the cables, and started searching around under my left breast to see if he could get a good image. Thankfully he couldn't, because MAN that sucked. So they did a bit of resting rates, including several vials of blood from the arterial line, then had me start to pedal. You have to keep it steady at 60rpm with no resistance (at first) which is hard because with no resistance your feet just spin around fast. Over the next 13 minutes they tapped me for blood every minute (apparently from both my heart and my artery) and increased the resistance. My heart rate finally got to over 150 and eventually they let me cool down and stop.

So the next week I saw the pulmonologist again and he said that I have a few things wrong with me: 1. body habitus is creating a mechanical disadvantage, 2. mild HFpEF, and 3. pulmonary mechanical limit. I need to probably ask more questions about the pulmonary mechanical limit. I think I understand the other two. Thankfully I recorded my appointment so I could play it back a few times and understand what he said. I gotta say, I will never go to the doctor again without recording it. The bottom line: I need to lose weight. I asked how I could lose weight if I couldn't breathe, and he said that the good news was that there it's safe to push myself to shortness of breath, that there was nothing concerning in that regard. Yay, I won't keel over while I exercise! Yay.

So basically I am fat and I need to exercise and eventually my shortness of breath will fade. I knew the first two already, thanks. Amazing that two years ago I was able to walk very quickly for three-four miles a day, and two years later I can't walk 300-400 steps without gasping like a beached fish. Sigh.

So that's basically the latest. Watching a ton of tv. Trying to get my head in the work game a little more enthusiastically. Grateful I can slack off from time to time. I consolidated the last of my non-student-loan debt (car, credit cards) onto one 0% offer, which I am hoping to have paid off by next December. Otherwise I just have the student loan, which I swear will be with me until I die, and all my normal bills plus my medical bills. That makes me feel good. If I can keep faking it at the job for another year, I'll at least have the rest of that crap off my back.

This last few months I've had a sensitive spot on a tooth, and I'm thinking they're going to encourage me to pull my other two wisdom teeth. I found the process for the first two to be oddly traumatic, so I've been completely avoiding it. But the sensitive spot is the spot in between the wisdom tooth and the one directly before it, so I'm afraid they're going to get me to agree. It's very sensitive and I've been using Sensodyne for months, and now it's not temperature sensitive anymore, but it's super "sweet" sensitive. I'm waiting at least until after Thanksgiving to deal with it.

Also the dieting/exercise. I cannot start something like a diet and then a couple days in have pie and mashed potatoes, so I'll wait until the Monday after the day to start all that nonsense. Sure, I'll try to walk more between then and now, but that's it. I've got a follow-up with the Thoracic surgeon on the 11th (they're doing another freaking CAT scan) so I'm hoping he'll say everything is healing up. It feels a lot better, but I sometimes feel it shift around still. It hurts a lot when I cough or sneeze, so that sucks.

I met an older guy in the work cafeteria who said "I had open heart surgery too!" and I had to explain that I just LOOK like I did, and when we chatted about recovery he told me he had his surgery in March 2005 and wasn't out of rehab until November 2005. I said "jeez I was out of the hospital in four days!" and he said "you do things differently in the north!"

I guess so!

advocacy

Sep. 12th, 2014 09:59 pm
llcoolvad: (newer)
Two times in the past eight weeks I've tried to advocate for myself, medically, and I was met with nothing but skepticism and arrogance.

The first time was my aforementioned cough-that-broke-my-titanium-wire episode six days after surgery. I knew I'd broken something. Knew it. Went to the local ER, asked for an X-ray. Doctor talked me into taking a CAT scan, gave me fluids while I was waiting. Had to wait a long time for someone to read it after. Attending doc came in, told me I'd be released soon, he was sure. There's nothing wrong. It's ok. Then suddenly, no, you're going via ambulance to your surgical hospital's ER because we don't understand what your CAT scan is telling us. Let me hang more fluids. NO, I insisted, the fluids are making me feel worse. Ok, they listened (turns out that was a good thing).

At the ER I stayed in a hallway for 2.5 hours, doped on dilaudid. I make it into a room, at last, and the parade of doctors and surgeons begin. I think I saw seven, plus two nurses and several interns. They initially couldn't load my CAT scan (brought with me on disk) into their system, so everything was delayed. Turns out they could LOOK at it, though, and couldn't see any problem on the scan. They all patronizingly told me that what I was feeling was normal surgical healing pain, and I should go home and take it easy. Seven hours later I did just that, but the entire time I felt that they were wrong.

Five days later, after feeling like crap for those days and having what my visiting nurse and visiting physical therapists both referred to as a "setback", my surgeon's office did a simple x-ray as part of my follow-up exam and told me that yes, the top surgical staple had indeed broken. It would eventually scar over and heal up and I shouldn't worry, though. Even though I could feel flexing with every breath and coughing was making it hurt a lot and I was doing a lot of coughing. Not sure if they could have done anything when I first complained, but I would have felt better knowing I wasn't being hysterical, anyway.

They ended up having to remove a liter of fluid from my lung, and then again doing the same in a week. For some reason I am not getting rid of fluids as quickly as I should be. Still, I could have probably had that done on Saturday instead of Thursday if they had listened to me--I could have had treatment days earlier.

----

The second time was this week. I went to my primary care doc because I can't walk any distance without gasping for breath. It sucks, and I figure that 7 weeks into my recovery I should not have this much trouble. My lung doesn't feel any better than it did while I was in the hospital or after they did the thoracentesis (lung tap). I call them in advance to ask if I shouldn't get a chest x-ray first, so they could tell if I've got more pleural effusion, in case I need another tap. I could get the x-ray on my way in as radiology is right in their building. His PA tells me no, he will want to see me first. I insist that she ask him, explain my issues patiently, and point out that I still can't drive so it would be best if I did it all the same day since I have to get a ride. She calls back after talking to him. No, he wants to see me first. SIGH.

So I go in. I tell him everything, he looks at my prior tests. He listens to my chest, says it doesn't sound bad. Starts writing me refills on all my prescriptions. Doesn't think I need the x-ray I want. I insist. So he has me get it done on the way out, along with getting my blood work done. I go home, dejected. I feel like I'm never going to get better, and I feel like my doctor is just not in the caring business anymore. He didn't EXACTLY treat me like I was a hypochondriac, but he really didn't seem to be addressing my concerns.

Yesterday at 7:30pm, so four days later, he calls me at home. Tells me that the fluid around my lung hasn't increased (note that it hasn't decreased, either), but that instead I had some INSIDE my lung (so, pulmonary edema). Swell. The treatment is to take a diuretic, which he has already called in. I should start taking it in the morning. (NOTE: If he had done as I suggested, and had the x-ray done before I came in, I could have started on the diuretic four days ago. But ok. At least I have a diagnosis and a treatment.)

But why does it have to be so damned hard? I live in ostensibly the best area in the country for medical care. My doctors are based out of one of the best hospitals in the country. I am not a shrinking violet about confronting people. And it's taking all I have to get treated. I can't even IMAGINE what happens to people who aren't pushy.

----

So this is really a PSA for advocating for yourself. Keep pushing. Apparently both pleural effusions and pulmonary edemas can cause permanent damage, up to and including death. Important to get what ails you treated!

Here's hoping the diuretic will handle my fluids. Because breathing is a good idea!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Since it's over seven weeks now, I feel like I should update, but I really don't have a lot going on. I wake up. If it's a work day, I either log in, or get ready and go to work. (I'm sticking to only a few days per week in the office since I still can't drive and since I still have some pain) If it's a day off, I hang around doing not much. I've watched a lot of tv and rewatched a lot of movies. Can't get that enthused about reading right now, other than the internet. Short form seems to be the way to go for my current attention span.

The pain is improving, but it feels like it might be at a point where it's going to stay static for a while. it's very raw-feeling around the incision, and the muscles underneath sometimes get seriously sore. I've still got some referred pain in my back, and the area under my arm still feels swollen and numb. On the other hand, I'm off the hardcore pain meds and am just on ibuprofen and tylenol.

Since I got off the pain meds I'm sleeping better, only waking up one or twice per night and I can get back to sleep most of the time without having to sleep in the chair, so that's pretty exciting. I am SO SICK of lying on my back I could scream. Occasionally I prop a pillow under one shoulder so I can angle ever so slightly to the side, which is pathetic but the best I can manage.

My breathing isn't great yet. I had to have two lung taps and they told me that the fluid would eventually clear out, but so far I can go about 30 feet and then I start breathing pretty hard. I went to my PCP this week and he wasn't particularly helpful, but he did take a chest x-ray, so maybe I'll have to have another tap. Ugh.

I did a load of laundry in my own house the other day. Totally exciting. I can't carry anything heavy (and by heavy they mean ridiculously light like five pounds or less), and even though I'm feeling better I'm afraid to break that rule by much. I can't go through this again. But I can chuck a small hamper down the stairs, drag it to the wash, drag the wet clothes to the dryer in stages, and then carefully bring stuff back up the stairs (as long as I keep it light). SUCH a relief. I think laundry was the worst part. Mom can't do a whole flight of stairs, never mind do it a couple of times in a day. P did some for me at his house, which was over and above the call of duty, then mother and I managed to get to the laundromat a couple of times, but it was stressful and expensive. I am so glad I got better enough to manage it myself.

I've been getting most of my supplies from either Amazon Prime or Peapod or the occasional trip out with either Patrick or mother. Peapod really is super convenient. Having stuff brought right into my kitchen for a small delivery fee? Excellent. I might keep this up. I hate the supermarket anyway. I could save my chores time for going to unusual stores. That would be nifty.

Solving my other problem, washing floors, is my delightful birthday present, Mr. Mint. So cute. Turn it on, wet its cloth, let it go do its thing. Floors clean. Done and done! If the floors are especially grotty, run it a couple times. No problem! I like any tool that I can set and forget and have good things come out at the other end.

Speaking of my birthday, P arranged a surprise party for me on the Saturday following my birthday! I had no idea! It was pretty awesome. There was good food and a bunch of people I like. I even got presents. Everyone got me earrings, proving that my friends know me pretty damned well.

So that's about everything. My license expired on my birthday, so tomorrow P is taking me to get it renewed. I will take my car over to Jiffy Lube and get the fluids changed (it's been sitting for almost eight weeks) and get the tires rotated. And then I'll have to decide if I'm going to keep driving, or wait out the full 12 weeks they suggest. When I called the surgeon's office to ask if I could drive yet, they said if I'm off the pain meds and have full range of motion without pain then maybe, carefully. But the pain part is important because you move more slowly when you're in pain. I'm still worried about the airbags, though. And I drive a stick, so I'm not sure I will be able to handle it anyway. But I like having a maybe on the horizon, anyway!
llcoolvad: (newer)
Tomorrow it will be three full weeks since surgery. I was intending to keep a more detailed journal of my recovery, but mostly I've been sad, lonely, in pain, feeling pathetic, and feeling like this burden would never ease, and who needs to read about that shit? Not even me. I've had excellent help from Patrick, from my mother, and from many people who've sent me cards, plants, flowers, and who have texted and called me to cheer me up. That part has been great.

I did write down a few things as I went, so here they are.

July 27, 2014

I'm feeling angry AND I'm feeling perspective at the same time.

I'm angry because I just don't feel that I was adequately prepared for the helplessness I'm feeling about my recovery. I alternate between everything being ok, reasonable, fine, and then weeping at how hard everything is and why can't I play tennis and swim right now because it's summer! Mostly I am weepy because sleeping is hard. I love sleeping, and getting into and out of bed is just sucktastic. "Sternal Precautions" are hard to remember, sometimes, especially not lifting your arms over your head. I am pretty nervous all the time that I am going to permanently damage myself. I felt a pop last night when I coughed, and I am certain that I did something bad (it really really hurt and scared me badly) but the seven different doctors at two different hospitals couldn't find anything, so I guess I am wrong. Still, each time I cough now I feel a shifting/popping/sliding. So I am angry.

But perspective: I can recover at home. I have a job that I don't need to be at for long periods of time and I still get paid. I have insurance that will cover this (once my out of pocket is met). Beyond normal surgical dangers, I wasn't in danger of dying at any particular point.

Keep the perspective in the forefront. That's really what I need to do. Hard, tho.

August 3, 2014

I probably should stop watching all the normal tv I like to watch—dark crime dramas. It's left me feeling bleak. First I watched the last six episodes of The Killing, which Netflix produced after the series was cancelled at AMC. Then I watched Top of the Lake, which is set in New Zealand and written, produced, and directed by Jane Campion, so while everything is quirky, it's also horrifically bleak. I need something more cheerful. I might switch to movies I've already watched. I can't watch comedies because laughing? It hurts!

August 10, 2014

At my first follow-up visit with one of my surgeons, they determined that I should have fluid drained from my lungs. To do that, they do an ultrasound first to determine the largest collection of fluid and they mark you up. Then they make you lean over a table, stick a needle into your back and stick a tube in and suck out the fluid (in my case, a liter). Surprisingly that part isn't bad. It's the end, when they get close to being done, and you just start coughing and coughing and it feels like you can't breathe and it hurts. Eventually, you stop coughing, mostly, and you feel slightly better.

I had more energy for a couple of days afterward and could get around without breathing hard. When I went back for my second follow-up visit with the same surgeon a week later (this last week), they did it again. This one was for what fluid was left (another liter), and was somewhat more unpleasant, as I started coughing about three minutes in (did I mention the procedure takes a long time? It does) and couldn't stop. Man. Draining in so many ways! The whole next day I was wheezy and congested, too. I had to sleep upright in my chair, because I just couldn't lie down. Bleah.

So the tap was Thursday. Friday I was just wrecked all day, and I had a visiting nurse, and we got a new fridge delivered so there was uproar (furniture had to be moved, doors had to be removed, the old fridge contents needed to be put in a cooler, the new fridge had to be loaded, uproar). I was in pain and wheezy and tired and just a mess. That night I managed to sleep in the bed, however, and woke up and felt better. I managed to go out to the store with mother, did a few errands. It's remarkable how feeling useful really helps. I think the worst part of all of this is that I have no ability to do anything and I can see all the things I usually do and it's infuriating that I can't do them. But I really don't want to mess anything up further. I haven't mentioned here already, but the pop in my chest I felt back the first Saturday after surgery was indeed me breaking a titanium staple. They didn't see it in the CAT scan, but it was obvious in the X-ray they took a week later. They say I'll heal up around it and it should be fine. I am dubious, but trying to be optimistic because I don't know if I could stand going through this again. (I don't even know what they'd do to repair it if it doesn't heal right, because I am afraid to ask.)

I only have about a week of pain meds left, if I took them every four hours like the bottle says. (Yes, I know I can ask for a refill. I did that last week. This IS the refill. I just am sick of being doped) I did an experiment today, and instead of taking a pill at 5:30pm I waited until 11:00pm and just took Tylenol. Uncomfortable, but not excruciating. Maybe I can get off the oxycodone soon. I'll save it for bed, perhaps. It makes me nod off if I'm sitting in my comfy chair, so I'd rather just cut it loose.

So anyway, my status is quo, I guess. I am finally feeling better. Tomorrow I see my primary surgeon, where I anticipate that he'll tell me that there were some micro-carcinomas in my goiter like there were in the part he removed six years ago, and that everything was contained, and that there is no further treatment that I'll require. He'll tell me everything looks good in the X-rays and that I should be fine in a while. I wish I knew what a while is, but everyone is different. Other surgeon said 8 more weeks (I think total recovery is 10-12 weeks) but that I could go back to my desk job any time I felt ready. Yay?

Patrick's BF Peter is driving me tomorrow. Are they the bestest, or what?
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I have to get up at 4:15am to get to the hospital by 5:30, for a 7:30am surgery time tomorrow. I have no idea if I'll manage to sleep at all. I didn't sleep much this weekend. No idea why I'm so nervous. I was nervous the last time about anesthesia since I'd never had it before. This time I seem more worried that I won't survive. Weird! Intellectually I know my odds are very good, so I don't know why it's really got me freaked this time.

Anyway, I spent the day doing the next two week's chores, since I won't be physically able to. Grocery shopped, did returnables, six loads of laundry, changed the sheets, vacuumed, tidied, took out all the trash and put it in the barrels in the garage, swept, mopped, vacuumed some more. I am sore now, which is probably a dumb way to greet surgery. Then again I'll be on meds tomorrow so it's probably ok. Concentrating on hydrating now so I won't be parched in the morning (since I can't drink anything past midnight). Took my insulin already. Had a shower. Will have another in six hours when I wake up. Took an ativan earlier today, then took another about an hour ago. Waiting for another load to finish in the dryer (mom's stuff) before I turn in. I'm as ready as I can be, physically, but mentally I am just still pretty much a wreck. I wrote out a "here are all of my investment accounts and here's what to do and who to call and here's what I owe and all of my passwords" kind of list for mother, which might seem morbid but makes me feel better that she wouldn't have to worry about THAT.

So I guess that's it. I'm bringing my phone and a set of headphones with me as entertainment (oh, and the charger with a really long cable, so I can just leave it plugged in). I am hoping to be out of the hospital by Tuesday, with Monday possibly spent dozing, but I have no clue yet. It depends how I do and how much they cut me.

I said yes to the film crew. I figure I'll be unconscious so why not. Catch y'all on the flip!
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Had my pre-op exam on Monday. It was pretty easy, they took some blood, the Nurse Practitioner did an exam and took my history, and that was about it. Later that day I got a call from a diabetes nurse, however. Apparently my blood sugar was pretty bad, really spiked since February. I've been pretty lucky so far as a diabetic. My levels have been pretty easy to control with just an oral med and reasonable eating. Lately I've been eating really badly, however, and combine it with the stress of being really sick two times and not being good about taking said oral meds, I guess now I'm in trouble. Because if I can't get the damned levels down, they won't operate. So my diabetes nurse prescribed insulin for me. Yikes! She called the Rx in for me and asked me to meet with her on Thursday, after I meet with surgeon number two, so she could go over the plan with me.

So that makes me pretty nervous. Not the taking insulin. I'm fine with needles, and it's just a maintenance dose that's supposed to get my numbers in line quickly. It's just that somehow I've gotten pretty sick all at once:
  1. Sick enough to require antibiotics 2x since end of March
  2. Severe back pain (possibly due to #1, from coughing so much)
  3. A 5.6cm mass in my chest that will require major surgery to remove
  4. Blood sugar out of control
  5. A probable hernia in my stomach (see #1 again)
  6. A weird painful bump on my finger

I sort of whined about it all to my PT while she was massaging my "soft tissue", who remarked that all systems are connected, and often this kind of thing cascades. Yeah, I get that. But I'd like it to stop now, kthxbai.

Yesterday Dr. Gawande called me to ask if I had managed to get an appt with the thoracic guy, because he needed to talk to me about how they were going to get at the goiter. Another revision. He told me that they'd explain it when I was in there. Then he told me he was being followed around by a PBS film crew on the day of my surgery, and would I want to be part? I didn't have to be. I told him I'd think about it. Maybe!

Today I saw surgeon #2 (amusingly named Dr. Wee, which makes me giggle every time I think of that Geico ad where the car salesman says "Why don't WEEEEEEEEEE go out to the car?"). He told me that because of the location of my "lesion" that they'd have to either do a full sternotomy, or do a hemiclamshell incision. And that in my case, because there are arteries and important stuff in the way (the goiter is behind) they should really do the hemiclamshell so that Gawande has more room to work.


I was a bit shocked, to be honest. I went from what I was imagining was about a 4-6" incision to at least 12". And they open me wide during the surgery. Scary. I'll need to stay in the hospital longer, recovery is longer, and there's a lot more "discomfort" as he put it. YAY.

I left there a bit shell-shocked. Met with the diabetes nurse who showed me how to stick needles in myself. She kept asking if I had questions, gave me her cell number so I could call this weekend if I was freaking out or anything, and I kind of laughed and said that insulin was not what I'd be freaking out about, but thanks!

I talked to my boss after I left the hospital to warn her about the extra time away from work, and she pointed out that at least I wasn't coming into this thing from the ER. She had had the ER leading to surgery experience and didn't recommend it. Which made me feel immensely better and snapped me out of my shock, really. I have two good surgeons, I'll be at an excellent hospital, and except for the blood sugar I'm really in pretty decent health to get through this without issue. So yeah. Shock, but recovery.

I'm sad about the giant scar, though. I already have the normal thyroid scar. Now I'll have one that puts that to shame. I am not meant to wear plunging necklines, I guess.
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Had a good vacation. Perfect weather Sun-Tue in Provincetown, where we ate good food, relaxed on the deck, wandered around downtown and looked at art, and visited the Whydah Pirate Museum (which, frankly, was uninspiring). Still, beautiful weather and fun times. There are pictures and a lot more text inside, lots of it about my health... )

As always, more pictures at Flickr.
llcoolvad: (newer)
Goiter 2: The Thyroid Strikes Back?
Goiter 2: Electric Boogaloo?

Short story version: went to Urgent Care to make sure that my six-week-long cough wasn't pneumonia. It wasn't! Instead, there was a mass.

goiter crop with pointer

Probably another goiter (of course they won't know for absolute sure until they yank it out and test it for cancer). It's in sorta the same place as my goiter the first. It's smaller than that one was (5.5cm x 5cm vs. 12cm x 6.5cm), so it's not actually displacing my esophagus this time (yet). It's weird that it's in the same place as the first one since they took that side of my thyroid out and flushed it. Apparently I had a void that needed filling!

I won't know much more until I meet with my fab surgeon again. Saw my doc today and he basically confirmed everything that the hospital said, and called my surgeon to discuss. Apparently he just sits around taking calls, because my doc talked to him while I waited for a couple minutes. When half the thyroid is left, goiters can recur in about 20% of patients. I always was an overachiever when it comes to really dumb things.

Previous entries about the first goiter.
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The blur of days is a little ridiculous, lately. I know I've worked some. Took most of last week off, however. Work does a floating holiday per year, and this year it was the day after the 4th; since I work from home Wednesday and took Saturday off, I got a nice long span of not going into the city. Which is really good, considering how hot it's been. Subway is gross in the heat. No really! I'm sure that's a shocker.

I went to Patrick's as usual on the 4th, and as usual it was fun. No parade this year (I guess the Wakefield denizens didn't get their collective acts together), so we didn't have our usual alone time with the pool, but I went in anyway. Too hot not to! So swimming was had, food was eaten, and hanging out was done. Always fun to spend time with the fam. Was thinking about going in to town to see the fireworks from my office, since the view would be totally awesome, but was pretty fried from the day and just couldn't bestir myself. Spent Friday doing not much. So hot! Couldn't bear to leave the air conditioning, but did a little shopping and errand running.

Saturday Patrick, Peter (Patrick's BF, who officially has won the Most Patient Boyfriend EVAR title), and I went to Marlboro for a gem and jewelry trade show, because yes, we are officially crazy. The event said cash only, so I took out a specific amount and spent all but $30 of that amount. And it was only my relative newbie-ness and lack of real skill that kept me from hitting the ATM and getting ALL THE THINGS. Several of the vendors were selling good quality semi-precious gems and stones, and man, as much as I love costume jewelry and beads, I could totally see myself getting into the good stuff. Every single time I was really drooling over a string of something it was inevitably over $100. Good move bringing a flat amount and not breaking it, Laurie! But of course, maybe by next year I will have upped my skill level and design capabilities and will talk myself into real stuff. AIEEEE!

Sunday was again low-key. I went out briefly to pick up some storage containers for my bead hoard, and was able to effectively utilize Joann's Fabrics sale price matching to get the sale price they offered online only. Got four many-compartmented storage bins for $12 total, instead of the non-sale $24, so I felt better about at least some of the spending the day before. I spent the rest of the afternoon in blissful air conditioning cataloging and putting away the hoard. I feel compelled to track the cost of everything in a very detailed spreadsheet, so when I wear a necklace or something I can think to myself "self, these earrings took an hour to make and $4 worth of beads, and you look fab!". Also so if I ever decide that I am crazy and want to sell stuff I'll know how to price it. Also so I can say, "Hobby, you've cost me $xxx.xx so far, and I think you're worth it, maybe."

Monday was Visit the Elderly Auntie day, and it was unexpectedly fun this time. She's normally a little professorial and a bit detached, but I think because she was still very sad about her brother's recent death and her own inability to make it to the memorial, this time she was extremely gossipy! Lots of interesting chatter about the family. My family doesn't have any REAL dirt, however. They're all pretty nice people. So this was more how she felt about so-and-so and who was kind of snobby, and like that. My main takeaway from this (and really from life in general) is that it doesn't matter how old you get: most people never really change much from when they're kids.

Work has been extremely frustrating this last few weeks, and I'm still waiting to hear back to see if I make it to the next round in the interview process at the potential new place. P assures me that he believes I am one of the front runners and also assures me that the process is always extremely lengthy at this company. It's fine. I JUST HATE MY JOB AND WANT TO LEAVE NOW NOW NOW KTHXBAI.

I visited my doctor last week, finally. First time since October. And I have gained 25ish pounds since October. Which I knew. Still, harsh to see. My numbers were all still good, and despite my many aches and such he didn't find anything in particular going on. He had my knee xrayed and had nothing to report beyond some osteoarthritis, which, duh. I probably need some other test, MRI or something. Because it still fucking hurts and I am pissed about it.

But going to see him seems to have snapped me out of my eating obsession, somehow. I told myself that after the 4th I'd start up with my food tracking and see if I could knock back off some of these pounds, and I did start back and already I'm down three pounds. And, irritatingly, I feel a bit better. I hate it when I have to keep relearning this shit. I also picked up a new FitBit, because I totally lost my old one, and I've been trying to increase my numbers there, too. It looks like an average commuting day is about 6500 steps, which is not enough! And my home days are WAY too sedentary. Ow. My poor knee.

I really need to see the eye doctor next, and I suppose I should pursue the knee thing further but the whole idea is exhausting. We'll see how much progress I make there, I guess.
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Spent the week doing the usual. Added in some Roller Derby last weekend with my pal Michelle. Kind of hilarious. The subculture around it was surprisingly robust. Loads of fans there. Also loads of Shriners, since we were at the Shriner's Auditorium. Sometimes I go whole months forgetting there even ARE Shriners.

Derby Girls


Exercise Oct 10-Oct 19
Wed: Nothing; Fitbit logged 2,250 steps
Thu: Walking 55 min; Fitbit logged 10,600 steps
Fri: Nothing; Fitbit logged 4,200 steps
Sat: Nothing; Didn't wear Fitbit
Sun: Walking 60 min; Fitbit logged 9,200 steps
Mon: Nothing; Didn't wear Fitbit
Tue: Walking 50 min; Fitbit logged 10,300 steps
Wed: Nothing; Didn't wear Fitbit
Thu: Walking 75 min; Fitbit logged 15,400 steps
Fri: Nothing; Fitbit logged 5,000 steps

Trying to take it easy. My knee is a little better: I've got less pain, but it's still stiff when I bend it, and it hurts after a while when I walk. I'm doing a shitload of daily exercises and stretches, at least when I remember to I am. My PT says we'll see if it improves after this week coming, but if not I'd probably need to see an orthopedist. They might need to drain it. I also did something to my elbow, so I decided that I'd hold off on weight lifting for a couple weeks to give that a break too. I feel weird not going to the gym, I have to say. I was planning to go this evening, but I had some unexpected chores I had to take care of:

my guy

He's from the Animal Rescue League in Boston. He's a year and a couple months old. He came from a "crowding" situation (read: crazy cat lady who didn't get her cats fixed and had lots of kittens). I met him last night, and found out this evening that his foster mom chose me. Yay! He's not my normal type (I love the big orange boys, after all) but he's delightful and he needs me, so there you go. My new kitty! Sam's been dead for several years now: it's definitely time. And Sally Ali needs a friend. So I pick him up tomorrow after work. I am excited! Kitty!
llcoolvad: (new)
Exercise Sep 19-24:
Wed: Nothing; Fitbit logged 3,300 steps
Thu: Weight lifting 25 min, walking 10 min, stationary bike 10 min; Fitbit logged 8,000 steps
Fri: Weight lifting 50 min, walking 30 min; Fitbit logged 9,500 steps
_____ hurt myself here, so trying to take it easy_____
Sat: Nothing; Fitbit logged 5,500 steps
Sun: Nothing; Fitbit logged 4,000 steps
Mon: Weight lifting 50 min; walkiing 30 min; Fitbit logged 2,500 steps (forgot it at home when I went to the gym)
Tue: Walking 10 min, weight lifting 15 min; Fitbit logged 5,250 steps (lunch hour at work)
Wed: Nothing. Was home all day so didn't put Fitbit on.

I'm not sure when the injury happened, exactly. I got mad while I was at my work gym on Thursday and maybe overdid it there. While I was waiting to get onto the treadmill I did some ab work (lying on a mat, suspending a 40 lb. barbell above my chest, lifting my legs up to perpendicular) and I then did some upper body exercises and some leg lifts. I didn't stretch beforehand. I got line jumped, and someone else took the treadmill before I managed to finish what I was doing, so I got mad and left and went to the Y. By the time I got there I was pretty pissed off and only did 10 minutes on the treadmill. Got onto the stationary bike and cranked up the tension pretty high. My knee felt sore the next day. Then I was enthusiastic after weights class on Friday and did some more jogging on the treadmill (just a few minutes here and there). It didn't feel good, but it also didn't feel actively bad when I was doing it. As soon as I got off the treadmill, however, I felt like my leg was cramping up. I massaged it and stretched it and limped to my car. The knee was hurting, too. It's still hurting. I'm finding it hard to bend. I got on the exercise bike at work yesterday to see if they'd fixed it, and spinning the pedals made it hurt a ton. It sorta feels like it felt before I had surgery years back. I hope I'm wrong! The walking wasn't too bad on Monday, and I kept the pace up at 3.5mph. Tuesday, though, really didn't feel right, even a bit slower at 3.3, so I decided to keep it super short.

I'm thinking I'll call up my PT place and ask if they can fit me in Friday morning. I probably should have called already, but I was sort of hopeful that the light work I'd done since Saturday would help it. No joy so far! I will probably do some more light walking tomorrow at work. Keep the speed down and keep the incline flat.

I would pay more attention to being sore, but honestly I am sore every day. I have arthritis in my knees and hips (I am guessing about the hips, but hey, they hurt) and I have a problematic L4, so basically I ache a little almost always—and that's whether I work out or not. This makes new pain less noticeable. That's totally my bad. I just hope I haven't hurt myself much! I will make the PT people show me safer stuff to do. At least I can still do weight lifting. Nothing I do there (with the possible exception of some of the ab stuff) is hurting me. The moral? Cardio = bad! :-)
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Had a good week. Very encouraged by my overall health reports, especially the sleeping thing. Part of me still can't believe it. Very cool! I really had the creeping suspicion that I'd waited too long to work on my health, and that I would do all this stuff and nothing much would change. Never happier to be wrong about something. And go figure: conventional wisdom was right all along. Weight loss is good for you. Who knew? :-)

In retrospect, I'm feeling a bit conflicted about my letter from my doctor. The usual letter arrived, but in the same day's mail there was a new letter, obviously sent directly by the hospital with my test results. Part of that letter included a laundry list of all of my "conditions", and it was pretty disturbing to see all in one place. Especially since some of them (in my opinion anyway) are no longer conditions I have. I don't know what the protocol is. Do they stay on my record forever? I mean, I never actually had allergic rhinitis or reactive airway disease: I had a tumor in my throat that was irritating everything around it and making my sinuses inflamed and making me cough. I might not have obstructive sleep apnea any more. I don't get restless legs now. I had a goiter, but they cut it out. So does all that shit stay on there forever? I keep getting requests to be part of hospital studies for people with asthma, but I don't have asthma. AUGH. I guess I should make sure all this stuff is going to stick for a while before I get all uppity about it.

Other people's health: My aunt had a bad pain in her stomach this weekend, along with pretty serious night sweats. Finally called an ambulance at 4am Monday morning. She's 83 and lives alone, so we get pretty scared when she doesn't feel well. It turned out to be pneumonia, which is bad, but could be so much worse that we were hugely relieved. Also, pain in the stomach for pneumonia? Weird! She was already feeling a lot better by this afternoon, and she'd only been in the hospital for about 12 hours at that point. YAY antibiotics and good nurses! They think she'll go home tomorrow. So glad she finally listened to my Mom and went to the hospital. Listen to your bodies, people! Stabby pain usually isn't a good thing. And more evidence that my crazy mother is crazy: she was CONVINCED that Paula must have been bitten by a mosquito and that she had West Nile (she lives in one of the hot zones for it). I like it when SCIENCE smacks down her crazy.

Suzanne had her surgery and got the white sling, so YAY! When I spoke with her last she was planning to be back to work by Tuesday. I've left her alone, phone-wise, not wanting to wake her up if she was napping, so I dunno if that's still the case. Miss Janet was a hero again and drove her to and from the surgery, and stuck around for an extra day to help out in general. She's awesome.
_____________

The week's summary:

Social stuff: Dinner with P on Wednesday night at Ruth's Chris. Was very good! Good thing we don't drink, because MAN was the tab high anyway. Then we got cannolis at Mike's Pastry in the North End. Dinner with Jenn on Thursday night, including dessert. Drove my coworker Joanne home on Saturday after work so I could meet her kitties*. Lunch with P on Sunday, no dessert. Gotta get back on the wagon. I'm going to dream about that filet for a long time. DRENCHED in butter! Saw Mary Ellen at the library this evening, chatted a bit. Drove her home and met her kitties! A week for kitties.

Workouts:
Tuesday: nothing
Wednesday: nothing
Thursday: Walking 45 min (lunchtime at work)
Friday: Weights class 55 min, bike 20 min, walking 25 min (lunchtime at work)
Saturday: Walking 50 min (lunchtime at work)
Sunday: Rest day!
Monday: Weights class 40 min, bike 20 min, walking 20 min






4 out of 7 days this week. Eh, birthday week. I probably should have worked out on Sunday, but I like my tradition of Sunday rest day. And I walked a LOT on my birthday. So meh!

Rest of the week, after all the birthday festivities, was pretty ordinary. I really want to take a nice long vacation. Having two extra days off last week just whetted my appetite for vacation. I need a long stretch. Once New York is over, I'll take some time then.

Watched "Case Histories" on Masterpiece Mystery this week; really good show. I love Jason Isaacs. Apparently he also recorded the British version of the audio books that the series is from, which of course we don't have here on Audible. Found the CDs through amazon.uk so I ordered them. I'll be out of Will Patton reading James Lee Burke, soon, and I'll need a new fix. Go from deep South to odd Yorkshire/transplanted to Scotland accent. Should be good.

I confess: My iPad is truly a delight. I was sort of scornful of tablets; why would I need one? I have a laptop and a smartphone, I've got everything I could need. But there's something about a tablet. It's pretty nifty. Perfect size for reading in bed, watching a video, reading the web, playing games. Not heavy like my personal laptop. Doesn't heat up like my personal laptop. Fits nicely in the hand. I'm sure I'm just about the last person to get one, so you all probably already know this. But I know that in a fire I'd grab it. Maybe after my phone, but maybe before!

And now to bed. Fitbit strapped on and iPad recording my sleep again. Need more data!

* Her kitty Pierre looks like someone took my wee Greykitty and inflated her with a pump. He weighs around 30 pounds and is the largest cat I've ever seen in person! He let me scritch him under his chin and rub his enormous belly, and I even got a rumbly purr out of him. BIG KITTEH!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

SCIENCE!

Aug. 24th, 2012 09:07 am
llcoolvad: (new)

Or at least really good technology! I got two nifty things from P for my birthday: a Fitbit, which tracks all kinds of fitness and health stuff (it's an elaborate pedometer, really), and an iPad. I was motivated by the Fitbit's ability to track how you sleep to finally explore what kind of recording apps I could find for the iPad that would record me while I sleep. I really wanted to know how my apnea is doing, as I've felt better, lately. I found one called DreamPro that has a sound-activated thingie that kicks in when there's sound in the room. Turned it on last night, strapped on the Fitbit, went to sleep. Woke up, saw that there were 55 recordings. There's an "auto play" function, so I hit it, and listened to a couple of trucks going by my window. A few sighs. A cough. Another cough. A little mutter. Sounds of turning over in sleep. Sheet rustling. NO SNORING AT ALL!

Ok, certainly this is not conclusive. My Fitbit shows that I got 5.5 hours of sleep at 93% efficiency. Clearly I need to go to bed earlier. But OMG!

I will continue to experiment. And I'm clearly gonna have to go to bed earlier. But OMG, no snoring.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

menu

Aug. 14th, 2012 09:18 pm
llcoolvad: (new)
I was thinking about the memoir I read a few months back about the girl who talked all about her own weight loss, all the struggles and the funny bits and so on, but never talked about what she ate. So I thought I'd detail the kind of things I eat. It's not really restrictive. I'm eating around 1800 calories per day. I always eat three meals and a couple of snacks, often several snacks.

I start the day usually with one of two breakfasts: either cereal (multigrain cheerios or fiber one honey clusters) with fresh fruit in and a half cup of milk, or I make some kind of egg scramble with some cheese and sometimes some peppers and onions, sometimes none, and sometimes with a slice of Arnold 12 Grain toast with some butter and jelly. Cereal breakfast is around 250 cals, whereas egg breakfast with toast is about 450. I try to adjust based on that for the rest of the day. I do not fuss with egg whites or whatever.

Lunch I try to stick to 550 cals or less. Often it's a sandwich (220 for the bread if I have actual bread, 60 if it's a pita pocket (with flax!), 90ish for the meat or tuna, maybe 50 if I have cheese, use mustard so nothing there, lettuce and tomato are negligible cals), a pickle spear (1 cal), and a piece of fruit (60 to 100 cals, depending), or occasionally Baked Lay's BBQ (140 cals if I eat the whole single-serving bag, which often I don't). If I haven't brought my lunch, I'll sometimes go to a local supermarket and raid the salad bar. The mall is just next door to my workplace, so I sometimes go to the food court there. It's hard to find a lunch under 550 cals there, however. I stick to D'Angelo's, Au Bon Pain, and the salad place, pretty much. And generally it's more like 650 cals. Sigh!

I save some daytime cals for snacks, too. Usually I bring some fruit or yogurt or nuts, or someone brings something delectable to work. I indulge in the delectable, but try to eat half of a normal serving. Depending how filling lunch was and how late I ate it, sometimes I skip after-lunch snack.

Dinner is varied, and pretty ordinary—a meat/veg/starch kind of thing. Sometimes meat/veg/salad, or meat/veg/veg/fruit. I just often double the veggies and halve the starches. Mom's a fan of pasta, so we have that more than my calories would like, at least once per week. I am mostly pretty careful with portions, and I keep up to date in my app throughout the day I can figure out what's left for the day. If I'm at the grocery store and I'm buying something prepared, I always read the package and usually go with the lower cal option.

If I walk for an hour, it usually earns me about 260 calories back, but I try to only eat half of that back (I fail a lot there, though). Other exercises earn me more calories (that's how I think of it) so it means I can have an extra snack or two if I want to. Basically whatever is left for the day after dinner and exercise I tend to use up in snacks. Snacks vary, but I like grapes (3 cal per grape, so count!) and a couple of "cracker cuts" cheese (110 cal for three), or a yogurt, or five Ritz crackers (80 cal). If I have hundreds of calories left, I might have a slice of multigrain bread with some peanut butter and jelly. I am a total obsessive freak about it. I'll plan my snack from my bedroom, calculating what we have vs. what I have left and decide before I get out of my chair. Else I'd eat the whole kitchen, see? I measure or count out stuff into a bowl or onto a plate, leaving the rest in the pantry or kitchen so I'd have to get up to get more.

There are a few snacks that are hard for me to resist, so I've had to only have them in the house when I feel really strong. Nuts are the worst. I buy a container of nuts and actually divide it up into single-serving Ziploc bags the minute I open it. Sometimes even THAT doesn't help, as I'll somehow rationalize two or even three servings. Better than eating the whole can, but bad! Also anything chocolate. If you combine the two, like those dark chocolate sea salt almonds from Trader Joe's? Fuhgeddaboudit. I can resist ice cream, sorta. I can now just have one spoonful, and that is somehow enough. Fiber One Oats & Chocolate bars were awesome for a while, but suddenly I just need to eat them all if they're here, so now they're on the Restricted list.

I try to drink enough water, also, although I mostly fail at that, and I've cut back on my diet Coke intake. I keep vitamin water zero in my minifridge, partly as pill-taking beverage and partly so I don't drink caffeine late at night. Water isn't appealing later at night for me right now.

There are two danger times for me. One is about a half hour after I exercise. Then I am RAVENOUS (and I dunno if it's physical or mental). And the other is 9:00-10:00pm, for some weird reason. Often those two coincide, so that's better. Then it's only one really dangerous time. But sometimes I walk on my work lunch hour, so that leaves the whole night after dinner wide open for trouble. By that I mean that I stay up pretty late every night, and I finish dinner by no later than 7:30pm (Mom likes to eat fairly early). That gives me at least five hours after dinner that I'm conscious. That's a lot of snacking potential, right there.

Eating out could be a dangerous time, but thankfully I was already in the chain restaurant habit, and with very few exceptions they ALL have detailed caloric info on their websites. So when I know where we're going I do my research. I usually know what I'm going to have before I go in, which makes it stress-free and simple to order. My only real dangerous eating out time is if I go to a non-chain place and have something unusual. Then I just call it a cheat day and move along.

I don't allow myself too many cheat days. They're hard to recover from, really. When I was on vacation on the Cape I ate whatever I wanted, and I snacked way too much. When I got back I kept thinking about snacks for days. If I could just cut out the sweets-craving and think-about-food-all-the-time parts of my brain I'd be a LOT happier. Why don't they do lobotomies for that? I'd sign up.

In reviewing my app numbers, it looks like currently I eat on average the following breakdown:

Carb: 49%
Fat: 34%
Protein: 18%

According to stuff I've read, you should aim for:
45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates
20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat
10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein

Sparkpeople suggests approximately 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat and 20% protein.

So I'm pretty much on target. I could dump a little fat and increase a little protein. Most of the carbs are reasonable.

So that's what I eat. I have to pull all my data from LoseIt and see if I can figure what I am eating the weeks I don't lose anything. That might be helpful.
llcoolvad: (new)
Long week this week, and I was just exhausted all week so it felt longer. Mom had her cataract surgery on Wednesday, which involved a lot of driving around — first to drop her off, then to pick her up, then to bring her to her eye doctor's office, then back home — while I was also working from home. We also had contractors at the house blowing insulation into the walls, which basically involves removing clapboards, drilling holes, running the pump thingie into the walls, then (I assume) filling the holes and putting the clapboards back. That is not a quiet process! They took three days, so I had to get up early each day. Really glad that's over with. But hopefully that means we'll be warmer and will pay less for heat this winter.

Social stuff: P and I got a late dinner after my weights class on Friday. That's it, other than work chatting. Too tired for much else.

Workouts:
Tuesday: Nothing
Wednesday: Nothing
Thursday: Stationary bike 30 mins. (MAN did I have to force myself to go, felt good after I did, tho)
Friday: Weights class 45 mins, stationary bike for 15 mins (had to meet P for dinner so I cut it a little short)
Saturday: Rowing machine 15 mins, weight lifting 15 mins, 5 min elliptical (lunchtime at work)
Sunday: Rest day!
Monday: Rowing machine for 30 mins, weights class for 45 mins

That's only 4 out of 7 days. See prev re: tired. Glad it's over. This week will be better!

Sunday was mostly nothing much. I slept late, got up, did a few chores things, then after chatting with a friend determined that I should buy SOMETHING on tax-free weekend, so I went to Newbury Comics and bought a few CDs. I probably saved $3, but at least I contributed to the economy, right? Then headed over to the local farm "stand" — it's really more like a supermarket, but their stuff is really good. Found a few native tomatoes (yay!) and some native corn so I made BLTs with corn on the cob on the side for dinner. SO GOOD. I finally watched the rest of the opening ceremony for the Olympics, fast-forwarding through the parade part. Macca was not very exciting. I wonder when I'll watch the closing ceremony? I didn't record it, so I guess I'll only have the On Demand option.

Today was my annual checkup with my primary care doc. Seemed to go well. I am down 11 pounds since I saw him last (although that was April, I think, so that's not GREAT, but it's still good). Blood pressure was 107/70. I will learn the rest when my 8 vials of blood come back — he sends me a results letter usually about a week after the appt. EKG was normal, too, I think. At least they didn't wave their hands in the air and push alarm bells, so I am assuming all was well. The woman taking my EKG hadn't seen me since last year and freaked out about my weight loss. So that was nice. I've been going to the same doctor for so long I know all the people who work there. Pretty satisfying.

I have to fast before I go to see my doctor so they can get a fasting blood sugar, so I was pretty ravenous afterward. I stopped at the cafe in my doctor's building before I left for my next appointment to catch a quick lunch. I was sitting there playing words with friends and eating my salad when I heard my doctor behind me. "Hi Laurie!" I got a little laugh out of the thought that, after all the discussions of my weight loss, at least I was eating a salad and not a hot fudge sundae. How often do you see your physician at a restaurant? I still felt a smidge ... caught? I dunno. It amused me, anyway.

Appointment number two was my gynecologist. So perhaps you are male or from outside the U.S. and you don't know this about the medical world here: there are tons of women who don't actually have primary care physicians, but because they want birth control they have to have gynecologists. As a result, the GYNs have stepped into the void and become de facto PCPs for most of their patients. So my GYN is very chatty and full-medical-history-taking and involved, spends a lot of time taling to her patients about their whole health, etc. Yelled at me the first time I went about my overall health, my weight, the whole thing. Reinforced that with subsequent visits. It was sorta irksome, because I actually HAVE a PCP, but I understand the driving force behind it, anyway.

Today she didn't actually recognize me. I only see her once per year, so she hadn't seen me since the weight loss. Anyway, she gushed at me and told me to keep doing what I'm doing, and I was her patient of the year, and all this silly stuff that felt really good to hear. She said that the current advice for exercise is 150 minutes per week to maintain decent health, so I feel good about exceeding that by a lot, almost every week. She also thought that if I continue down the path and get to my goal, it's possible insurance would pay for some of the plastic surgery I might need, since it would be medically necessary. (I gots lots of extra skin already. TMI, sorry! It's what I'm hoping the weights and gym will help with, frankly) It's weird to be having that conversation with someone who is also giving you a breast exam, but there you go.

And then I did all my usual Monday stuff, including weights class, which was hard today! But in a good way. I went up in heaviness today on almost everything. My triceps are still wimpy bitches, though, and the "head-knockers" are still tough for me. I tried the 30 pound barbell, did seven reps very shakily, had to go back to the 20 pounder. Wimpy triceps!

I probably overdid it a bit by then hitting the rowing machine after class, but I *like* the rowing machine, and I can't say that about any of the other cardio options (other than swimming). I think the rowing machine is my new friend. Although I am not sure I'm doing it right. My back is a little sore. My guy at the gym told me to keep my back straight, but how the heck do you do that when you're on the recovery part (the scootching forward)? I will have to practice more. Thank god for youtube videos, seriously.

I need a day off. Oh, right, I just had two. Doesn't feel like it!
llcoolvad: (new)
It feels like it's already been a week away from work, and it's really only been a long weekend. I had a lot of things to do this last few days, all neatly portioned out. Saturday before work I had to get up super early and drive mom's car for 100 highway miles so she could (hopefully) finally get her car to pass inspection. She really doesn't feel comfortable driving on the highway anymore. I hopped on 93N, took 495S, and then turned around at mile 50. SPOILER: it still hasn't passed. We're still hopeful. The state apparently doesn't allow you to continue to be inspected after you fail for the thing mom is failing for (something to do with the catalytic converter needing to be reset? I have no idea) twice, so now she has to bring it to a very specific place and they'll reset the inspection computer system. And then she has to have it inspected AGAIN! Dear god.

Then I headed in to work, but it was really dead so Mike sent us home early. Which was great, because P and I had decided to see the Soderbergh stripper man-fest "Magic Mike" — the role Matthew McConaughey was born to play — and it started pretty early. Was awesome in an awesome way (well, ok, some of the plot was a little, um, obvious? But it didn't matter: the pretty men!). Patrick pointed out that all of the men in the audience around us were in pairs. Aw, couples' night out!

Sunday I had to get up super early to drive out to western Mass to help Suzanne pack and move a subset of her things from Sunderland to Shutesbury. Stayed pretty late so we could have a delightful Japanese dinner together with Miss Janet (who had heroically spent four days painting Suzanne's new house). I was so tired I wasn't sure I'd make it home in one piece, despite skipping the sake. By the time I got out of the car after toiling all day and then sitting perfectly still for several hours I was pretty stiff; felt like I was 900 years old as I staggered from my car to the apartment. I slept like the dead for 10 hours pretty much straight. Didn't even check email or facebook when I got home!

Monday I had an invitation from my coworker Joanne to go to see the Tall Ships in Boston, but I couldn't make it. Had to take mom to her afternoon eye appointment (they were going to put in drops) so she could get the ball rolling to get the other cataract done. Came home and couldn't really get out of my own way until the evening; still tired! Took my walk, stopped in at the YMCA in my town (ok, male strippers AND "YMCA" — recipe for earworm HELL), took a tour of the gym and pool, signed up on the spot. I've had a +1 family addition on Patrick's LA Fitness membership for a year and a half now, but I never go because it involves driving over there. I can walk to the Y, so I'm pretty sure I'll use it more. Plus there's no annual membership bullshit. Pay month to month and quit anytime. Yay! Walked to the library after and picked up another JLB "Dave Robicheaux" audio book. Save myself an Audible credit. Took the long way home so I could get in more of a walk, but honestly pretty sore still from Sunday, so only did 40 minutes instead of my usual hour. Moving sucks! Even the small amount I did. Poor Suzanne.

Today I did my Monday chores stuff. Recycling, groceries, stopped by the old gym to cancel my part of the membership, other errands, then dishes, dinner, laundry, etc. Not a lot to write about, although I mostly enjoyed the heat all day. My car is full of stuff — stuff I'd stored for years in Suzanne's basement — and man does it stink of mildew. Dunno if it's just the cardboard of the boxes, although I doubt it. I think the books I stored down there are doomed. Gotta go thru it all in the next few days and decide if I'll try to save any of it, but in the meantime my car stinks! I am sorta hoping that the furnace that the car becomes in the heat will burn some of it out.

And finally tomorrow is over to P's mom's house for the 4th. Should be fun! I usually have a good time. I plan on eating like a normal non-dieting person, although as P pointed out earlier, I can't eat as much as I used to. I get full a lot faster. But I am going to give it the old college try. Deviled eggs! Burgers! Calzones! The best sugar cookies on the planet! Yummy dip! Yay!

Happy 4th to all!

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