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Full Steam Ahead

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog.  I’m going to try to fix that and begin posting regularly.  I’ve been on this weight loss journey since las December 2017, and it has now become “real”.  First, let me say that I’ve lost 66 pounds on the Keto diet since then, and it’s working.  That has been an exciting realization for me.  It has not been without its difficulties, believe me, but I muddle through and take the bad with the good.

The good is that with the weight loss, I’ve also lost clothing sizes.  I’m down from a 26-28-30 to a 24-26.  I also notice that I can now “do things” that I haven’t been able to in such a long time… like touch my toes!  I can stand and/or walk more than before on days that the arthritis isn’t ravaging my legs and feet with pain.  One odd, noticeable thing is that I don’t see any change in myself in the mirror.  I know I must look different, 66 lbs is a lot of weight loss, but I cannot see it.  When I look in the mirror, I see the same fat face, bulging cheeks and triple chins that I’ve always seen.  Yet, my husband says there is a noticeable difference all over.  I think that’s the only “bad part” about the journey so far.  Well, that and not being able to just eat anything I happen to pick up.  I have to be very conscious about what I buy for groceries, what I eat for each meal, and very careful about what I do/don’t eat.  It’s been hard, and I have given in here and there ~ a little ice cream before bed, a slice of rye toast with my eggs a couple times a week, the soda (diet/sugar free).  All that has to go again, starting now.  Even though I have still continued to lose weight with those no-no’s.

Tammy 8-20-17 (3) ipiccy

So, I have been going through the motions to have bariatric weight loss surgery.  Yes, I’m losing weight through diet, but not fast enough.  My knees, legs and feet are giving out rapidly.  I need to lose the weight so I can walk better without so much pain, and then maybe have knee replacement surgery later.  But it needs to happen faster.  So I went to an info session at a local hospital in February and decided to pursue WLS (weight loss surgery).

It is an intensive and expensive endeavor.  Fortunately for me, my insurance covers a good deal of the expense.  The process to even get approved is approximately six months filled with appointments and group sessions.  I’ve met twice with my surgeon, so far… a nutritionist, a psychiatrist, my cardiologist, had tons of labs, and endoscopy, gone to support group meetings, and there is more to come.

My husband, Al, is right there beside me backing me up and being supportive.  That in itself is motivation enough.  Yesterday I received the approval from my insurance company to go ahead with the surgery.  As they say, “It just got real.”  Am I ready for it?  I can say, yes, I’m ready ~ but honestly, I’m scared as hell.  This is not something to take lightly, and it effects your life – your entire life – for the rest of your life.  More to come…

Thank you for stopping by.

Blessings ~  Tamara

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Catch 22

Sometimes I feel so torn, like I have no right to complain about my problems ~ that others have it so much worse than I do and I should just shut up and feel blessed.  But when my life, that I thought was on a pretty good track, goes awry, I need some time to regroup, ponder and pray.  Lord, what am I to do next?

That’s what has happened recently.  Besides being morbidly obese, I have severe arthritis in my feet and knees ~ especially my right knee, which is now bone-on-bone and beyond pain comprehension most of the time.  I now walk with a cane all the time, which I hate.  I’ve been seeing an orthopedic specialist for 2-3 months now, and, after visiting him yesterday to hash out our next strategy for pain relief, instead he said he can do nothing more for me.  Then he went into a long dissertation about how bad my knee(s) are and that I’m a candidate for knee replacement surgery IF I can lose a minimum of 60 lbs first.

He continued his long monologue about bariatric surgery, and that it appears to be my only last bastion before being immobile/unable to walk.  I sort of remember being in minor shock at that point.  Deer-in-the-headlights kind of thing.  I thought, “But no!  That can’t be!  I’ve been working hard, changing my eating lifestyle and losing weight!”  He seemed to have read my thoughts and said that at the rate that I’m losing, it would take me about two years to lose the necessary 60 lbs.  “Not fast enough,” he said.  He’s talking by the end of THIS year.  But I’ve lost 25 lbs. since the week before Christmas.  I thought it showed good promise.

I left his office in a fog.  That fog turned into despair and then depression.  The thought of bariatric surgery made me shudder.  You see, I had such surgery in 1988 when I was 29 years old.  From the moment I woke up in the hospital, gagging on the NG tube down my throat, the next 10+ years would be a nightmare of hell on earth with regard to my digestive system.  Most of the first 5-6 years were spent vomiting and/or feeling nausea like you can never imagine.  I used to have extreme nausea for hours, sometimes all night, and would curl up on the floor or the bed in the fetal position and rock myself until the feeling passed.  I used to beg God to make it stop, crying that I would never eat whatever hellish food that had made me sick that time.  It continued on into my current marriage, as of 1998, and I used to have to ask Al to pat me on the back (it helped?).  It was embarrassing the first time it happened with Al, and I had to explain it all… why I was curled up into a ball on the top of our bed groaning and begging to die.  It may seem irrational, but I’d rather spend an eternity in the firepits of hell than vomit once.  Vomiting, for me, IS the embodyment of death.  Next to gagging, it’s the closest I can come to meeting eternity without actually dying.  I don’t know why.  So, this bariatric surgery had been my near-death experience, over and over for decades.  It has lessened now to only once or twice a year… praise the Lord!

And now here I am, again, confronted with having a new torture to deal with all over again.  Even though my common sense tells me that, after 30 years, procedures have changed.  It has to be better now.  And I know I have to try this again.  I say “try” because I may not get accepted, and/or my insurance may not cover the surgery.  Last night I wallowed a bit.  But I also prayed and asked many of my wonderful friends to pray.  I figured my options are either sit and do nothing while my health continues to go downhill one part at a time, or I could take God’s hand and keep going, keep moving forward and do the best that I can to right myself.  I’m admittedly scared.  I’m no longer 29 years old.  It’s 30 years later and I don’t heal as well.  Regardless, I cannot be idle, self-pity or wait any longer.

The answer is to push forward, step-by-step and go where God leads me.  I’ve contacted a local bariatric team at our local Crouse Hospital in Syracuse.  It’s the way to start.  I’m working with them to see if I qualify and if my insurance covers the surgery.  I should know in a few days.  I have to be optimistic.  Any other option is not acceptable.

 

And So It Begins…

2017 is coming to an end and 2018 looms ahead.  Feeling pretty good about myself and the future, for once.  I’m still working on putting the past behind me 100%, it’s so hard not to feel remorse or guilt for so many things.  I need to remember that God has forgiven me for all of my past transgressions, and there’s nothing more important than that.

So, I’ve been losing weight.  I started my own version of the Atkins diet several weeks ago.  I’ve lost 16 lbs in 3 weeks.  It’s a good start and I’m happy with it.  My PC doc is good with it and very supportive.  However, I have not been without my weaknesses.  Eating LCHF (low carb, high fat) is not as easy as I thought it would be.  I really miss a lot of foods, and finding substitutes is far from ideal.  But I’m muddling through.  Eggs (fixed numerous ways), bacon, sausage and other meats are “ok”, but getting tired of it.  NEVER thought I’d be sick of bacon and eggs!  But I sure miss my cereal!  I’ve discovered cauliflower – Steam Fresh riced cauliflower – and I really like that.  Great substitute for mashed potatoes and/or rice.

I don’t like feeling hungry all the time, though.  I never feel like I’m full… or even close to full.  More often than not I feel ravenous.  I’m working on finding some recipes that use almond flour so I can BAKE something.  I’ll get through it.  I’m determined to make this work for the rest of my life.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a New Year.  365 days of new choices, new goals making appropriate changes.  I’m going to try to blog more often.  Not that I think anyone reads my posts… well, “someone” does, as I see almost each day that someone has viewed my Home Page.  Wish I knew who that person was.  But anyway, I do this for me.  And, since I got a new camera for Christmas from my beloved, I think I’ll try hopping back on board with some of my favorite authors on WordPress.  I used to always post photos and take part in challenges.  I need to get back to that.  I have lots to share, and I like being a part of those who also like to share.  Looking forward to being more WordPress prolific again!

Anyway, I think that’s about all I have for this morning.  Maybe I’ll post some pics this evening of the new family addition(s).  Until next time, thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.  Bye for now…

~ Tamara Eckstadt

 

July 31, 2017; Journal Entry 3: De-Carbonated

Well, it’s been 6 days without any carbonated drinks.  I’m pretty proud of myself for that.  I’m pretty well addicted to Pepsi, or any other soda.  I’ve known for a long time, and I didn’t need Dr. M to tell me, that carbonated drinks are SO bad for you.  I just hadn’t gotten to the point where I really cared enough about my own health to stop drinking it.  And, indeed, it’s been a very difficult week.  I wish I was  one of those people who could just chug water and be happy and healthy.  I’m a flavor addict.  If it doesn’t taste good, I want nothing to do with it.  I’ve tried some of those little bottled flavorings that you add to water, but they give me heartburn.  So, I don’t know what the future holds in store for me to drink… I might just have to bite the bullet and drink the flavorless water anyway.  I’m in this for the long run.

I’d like to say I’ve been doing exceptionally well with my food intake.  But I’m not feeling guilty about it, as Dr. M (the endocrinologist) said he doesn’t want me to change my eating habits until I get my blood workup done next month.  Even so, I’m consciously holding back and eating better.  Mostly.  Dr. M said he would be “teaching me” how to eat/avoid carbs etc. after the blood workup comes back.  I’m hoping when I go see  him again that I’ve lost some weight.

Even so, I have this scary symptom(s) that does not seem to abide by my rules.  It rears its ugly head whenever/wherever.  Usually when I have to stand for any length of time.  First I’ll break into a profuse sweat (soaking anything/anyone around me), then my hands will begin to shake, then my arms and, if I don’t find a place to sit fast enough, my entire body will tremble.  My breathing will come much faster and uncontrollable, and to the point where I will pass out.  The only resource to stop it is to sit down for around 15 minutes at least.  It can be terrifying.

I will be contacting my primary care doc about this one!

So, that’s about it for tonight.  Not so much.  I’m distracted and need to go quilt.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.  Blessings ~ Tamara

 

Hypo “what”? Hashi “who”?

** This post is for my own benefit. I doubt anyone else will read this, which is fine. I don’t want sympathy. I will just need to remember this down the road.**

Try to imagine. Just try.

I’ve lived the past 30+ years in pretty much constant pain. I have (5) herniated discs in my back (C1, T5-6-7 and L5), as well as knees and feet “riddled with arthritis”, according to my orthopedist. Add to that, just for fun, that I’m about 200 lbs overweight. Yep, about that. I’ve had my health issues and gotten through them with a healthy heart (per my cardiologist), healthy lungs (per my pulmonologist), healthy urinary tract (per my urologist), healthy reproductive area (per my OB/GYN specialist). But, some time back, I don’t remember exactly when, I was diagnosed by my primary care physician, as having hypothyroid.

Hypothyroid is having an underactive or inactive thyroid gland. I was prescribed medication to help “activate” my thyroid. So what? That’s what I thought. I didn’t really even know what a thyroid was, not to mention where it’s located. So it can’t be too important or vital to things. But I took my meds, off and on, and not in earnest, not really caring about the diagnosis. I continued to visit my PCP twice yearly for checkups, and my thyroid always read low ~ duh! Of course, I wasn’t taking my meds appropriately!

Well, this year, things have changed for me. I don’t know why, and I may never know why. Back in May, I decided I WOULD begin taking these thyroids meds like I’m supposed to… in the morning on an empty stomach, then wait for an hour before you eat breakfast. Okay, doing good. One month later I’m starting to have some not-so-good symptoms. Out of curiosity, I found a decent hypothyroid women’s group on Facebook and I joined. The stuff I’m finding out is still making my head spin! The administrators of this group seem to be very well-educated on the subject, but I’m not one to believe information just on a say-so. I weigh facts from several different sources before making decisions about things.

But what was real are these symptoms: hair falling out, no tolerance for heat above 65 degrees, profuse sweating, sinus drainage causing constant clearing of throat, leading to laryngitis a couple times a month, extreme fatigue, debilitating brain fog, short term memory loss, the “shakes”, inability to concentrate, lack of appetite, light-headedness, confusion, easily bruised, depression, on and off fever, inability to get to sleep, inability to get out of bed in the morning, pain in all of my joints and muscles, constipation, inability to make decisions, lack of any real interest in anything. And I’m sure I’m forgetting at least two or three. All of this while still having to deal with unresolved chronic pain. I’m really just about at the end of my rope.

I have, however, researched, found, and made an appointment with an endocrinologist in Auburn, NY. My appointment is one week from today. I’m optimistic. Dr. Shirwan Mirza seems to have a good reputation according to his reviews. I pray to God that he’ll be able to help me.

Oh! I almost forgot the “Hashi-“ part! Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is often the CAUSE of hypothyroid. It is an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies directed against the thyroid gland lead to chronic inflammation. It is not known why some people make antibodies, although this condition tends to run in families. Over time, however, this results in impaired ability of the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones, leading to gradual decline in function and eventually an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occurs most commonly in middle aged women, but can be seen at any age, and can also affect men, and children. Hey! How about “no cure”? It can only be treated with medications, diet and/or surgical removal – which will require medications. I’ll be tested for all of this when I see Dr. Mirza.

For now, it’s “wait and see”. But, if anyone does read this, thank you for taking the time. And maybe something here can help you.

Blessings ~ Tamara Continue reading