Category Archives: Health

That fun stuff our bodies do to us.

Curse you Bathroom Scale


scaleOk, here is a disclaimer.

I have hypothyroidism, and several joints that don’t work near as well as they used to. Allergies, and mild asthma round out the list of fun things that keep me off the exercise bandwagon more. Add being over 50, possibly menopausal, and the task is just that much harder Losing weight has only been accomplished in the past ten years by losing a body part… a uterus and its resident squatters. Of course that was only temporary. This time around, I know its going to take a long time, and an acre of celery, but I’m determined to try to get a little healthier.

Since I started the project of “Make Less of Sylvie” I’ve noticed a weight reduction once in the past 7 week. That’s right one time. Granted it was a big drop a few weeks ago. Nine pounds over night. I never have figured out how that happened. Of course I didn’t complain, but instead felt I was on the right track, so I’ve done well on keeping under my calorie goals…most of the time.

Well this morning, I got on the scale, and those nine little fuckers had returned. I weighed myself three times too. I just know that little square of metalics and springs has been snickering all day long.

Sigh.

 

 

A Bouncing Food Baby


 

food babyOnce upon a time I was skinny. Once upon a time I could eat a dozen pancakes with peanut butter layers, the whole thing drowning in butter and syrup, and remain skinny. then I had kids.

I was still pretty skinny, but then I started having chronic back issues. The weight started to creep slowly higher. I was no longer skinny, but more average for a woman with three kids, who had a flower gardening addiction.

Then I had a hysterectomy. Even removing the Bubbette and Earline, the fibroid squatters that had taken up residence did nothing to what I was becoming aware of. The weight was still creeping upwards, and nothing I did seemed to reverse the trend.

Then I two things happened. I remarried, and received a hypothyroidism diagnosis. My new husband has terrible eating habits, Sorry darling, but you do, despite some health issues of his own, and I was just in “oh, crap-it-all, I give up.” mode when it came to what appeared to be a belly holding six months worth of baby. In reality it was a belly made of reese cups, bacon, pulled pork, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes and chex mix. I was either going to be needing to give birth, or needing to be berthed at a wharf somewhere.

Then my son insisted I have a sleep study. Hello C-pap machine. I sleep with a full on aviators mask that could almost double as the face sucking monster from the movie Alien. My aging and expanding body had given me severe sleep apnea

Then my knee gave out, and I had surgery. Hello bigger food baby, as the lack of mobility prior to surgery and during recovery meant that anything I ate was going straight to “baby” and my butt. The weight was on an upward trend and accelerating. My designated fat pants were too small, and I had started to look for extra large sizes to wear

My kids gently suggested that I do something to get healthy…like shed a pound or thirty. My son set me up on this app, called Myfitnesspal and I’ve been sticking to it, even recording my cheating. Yes, cheating.  I’m sorry but potato chips, chex mix and a big old serving of biscuits and gravy sometimes just throw themselves in my hand and beg me to eat them.

Since the beginning of August I’ve lost a few pounds, each one sulking away almost without notice. Only my scale can tell, and my fingers, as my rings aren’t quite so tight any more. I firmly expect the next thing to start shrinking are the “toddlers” which is what I have named my boobs. The food baby, so far, refuses to shrink. As I try to do something exercise wise more often, I’m noticing more energy. I still deal with some chronic pain, thanks to joints I’ve been really mean to over the years, but that is slowly improving. I keep warning people not to get old. It’s not for wimps.

I am going to try to do regular updates on how I’m doing, help keep me on track on my progress, and hopefully help you exercise a chuckle muscle. I started at 234, I’m down to 225. Its the  most amount of weight I’ve lost in 25 years, unless you count my ex husband. I’m in this for the long haul. Will I ever see the weight of my skinny days? I doubt it, but could I achieve pre food baby status? Eventually, hopefully.

As The Toilet Paper Rolls


toilet paper heartWhen my children were small, I knew the location of every clean and easily accessible public restroom in three states. Not really, but it was important for me to at least have a decent knowledge of clean toilet locations in my area, because my little darlings had tiny bladders that never needed emptying at the same time.

Now that they are all grown and on their own, I’m finding myself, once again having to learn where the clean and easy to get to toilets lie, preferably those with toilet paper still on the roll. The reason is thanks to an aging bladder and a gastric issue that began a couple of years ago.

At first it was just acid reflux at night, that slowly but steadily worsened. Next was the discovery that eating would make post meal time, a solid hour of wishing the damned Tums would work already. None of the OTC remedies worked, so I buckled down and got the entire digestive tract checked out. I walked away with a diagnosis of Diverticulosis, IBS,  an extracted benign polyp, a script for Nexium, and a whopping bill.

Six months later, I’ve discovered that my body is starring in a soap opera.   My colon and the toilet are carrying on a torrid affair with the roll of toilet paper acting as  a gleeful enabler. There are some days I can’t keep those two apart.  The indignity of spending more time in the bathroom while these two cavort is  when my stomach begins to serenade rumbling “love songs” to whomever may be in earshot. This is not an issue that is easily kept secret.

I’ve done all I can to keep this affair from getting out of control, trying without any success to see what foods are the siren mating call between intestine and porcelain, but I can’t figure it out.  There is no food, or food combination that can guarantee  whether or not another episode of As The Toilet Paper Rolls is pending.  Episodic renditions of “POOP NOW POOP NOW!!!” , “Bloat Till She Floats”, “The Rock In My Belly” or “Is This Nausea or a Pending Belch?” at least add a bit of variety,

One of these days I will figure out how what it is that triggers all of this. It’s still a mystery, as what bothers my digestion one day, leaves it completely unfazed the next. I just wish there was a hidden benefit to speedier digestion in the form of less of me to lug around. No such luck.

 

Considering Cancer Awareness


cancer

 

 

 

 

 

I  got the following email from a reader the other day. Heather writes:

 I’m reaching out to you today in hopes that you will help me with a cause that is very near and dear to my heart. At age 36, just 3 ½ months after my first and only child, Lily, was born, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given 15 months to live. Miraculously, I beat the odds and I’m still here eight years later.

Mesothelioma is considered one of the most aggressive and deadly cancers; most people are given just one year to live upon diagnosis. There is no known cure for mesothelioma and the future continues to look grim as attention to the disease as well as research funding continues to decline. The only known cause of ‘meso’ is exposure to asbestos, which is still not banned in the US. Sadly, it doesn’t look like asbestos will be banned anytime soon, as there is too much money being made by using this deadly mineral.

Since May is National Cancer Research Month, I’ve made it my personal mission to try and spread awareness of this rare, preventable disease. The more people that know about this cancer, the more lives are potentially saved! Would you be willing to share the site that I blog for with your readers? The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance has tons of information about the disease, asbestos exposure, and is also where my husband and I blog about our journey with mesothelioma.

Please let me know what you think 🙂 From awareness grows hope. Each voice could save a life.

 

Of course I agreed to share her letter. I admit I knew little about Mesothelioma other then those class action suit commercials paid for by some attorney’s office hoping to get rich off of other people’s suffering, (a rant for another day). I didn’t know asbestos exposure was the only known cause of this very deadly cancer.

Heather is correct, May is cancer awareness month. On Mother’s Day I went to a minor league baseball game. They handed out pink t-shirts and carnations to all the moms, and there was a a lot of hub-bub about breast cancer. I’m glad for the focus, as I lost my step-mom to breast cancer. But I have to wonder if we shouldn’t also be working to eradicate, or at least better the treatment options for the other cancers out there. How many of us have lost friends or family to cancer? How many of us know someone suffering right now?

I want to see an end to a disease that sickens so many using such diversity to do so. I want people not to suffer surgeries or treatments that cause them pain. I want people not have to worry about losing everything they own, just to be able to help one family member live, even if its only for a few months, because of the incredible costs of treatment.

I’m just one voice, with a little blog. I am also an empath, who feels deeply, other people’s suffering. Heather and her family want a cure. She wants to see her kids grow up, just like my sister-in-law  who is also fighting another form or cancer. We can all help, in small ways, as we look for the means to end a disease that robs so much from us.

Inside Out


I am sitting at my desk, second cup of coffee cooling by my elbow, and I’m still in my pajamas. I don’t plan on changing soon. Today is one of those rare days, where I don’t have to work, although my darling husband does. I am utterly and blissfully alone as even the cats are outside enjoying a break from the onslaught of liquid sky we’ve had for the past several days.

I realize that a slug may get more done today than I.

Being an introvert means that sometimes, every now and then, I need a break from people, from tasks, responsibility, conversations, being awake. Its also a time, where I become reflective, ideas and thoughts being allowed complete free reign in my brain, to do what they will. Usually they peter out, finding themselves in the inner dust heap of concepts that are going nowhere. But sometimes a poem, an essay, a story is born. Sometimes I remember things I should have gotten to that have been shoved aside in my busyness, something that things written down on post-it notes have yet to have complete success in my life. Sometimes I just want to stop a moment, an hour, a day.

Being married to my opposite is actually a good thing. Gary doesn’t know the concept of the word stranger. He’ll talk to anyone, which is why it takes us three times as long to pick up an item at Lowes, then if I went alone. He’s engaging,  funny, and so easy to carry on a conversation with. It is one of the long list of things that I love about the man, his complete lack of reserve when it comes to people. I think my introverted nature is also part of what he loves about me, that I am reserved, not needing to say anything at all, but still can talk with him about just about anything. I encourage him to slow down, as his job takes a mental and a physical toll on him. I tend to I burn both ends of my candle with a blow torch, he uses a high powered flame thrower. He encourages me to be more interactive with people, something I know I need at times, because it is quite easy for me to become a hermit. We seem to help keep one another balanced.

Yet days like today are still welcome. A quiet day, with little on my personal agenda, letting my inside out for awhile,  is just what I need, what many of us who are labeled introverts need on occasion. Quiet, agenda free days are how we recharge, physically and mentally. Such days are too rare,  always appreciated, and intended to be squandered to its full lazy potential.

An Epidemic We Need to Stop


fistThe World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released a study regarding global statistics on physical and sexual violence and the related deaths of women. The information the WHO released proved that physical or sexual violence affects a third of all women…globally. They rightfully consider this an epidemic.

Of course, one can assume that such violence against women occurs mostly in third world nations, or nations experiencing war, and that would be a mostly correct assumption. One would think that a nation such as the U.S. would have the lowest statistics, they would be right, but these statistics are by far not low enough. The percentage differences between the most violent regions and the least is less than 15 percentage points apart.

So the questions remain: why is this happening at all, and why is this such a huge problem in the 21st century? Why is there no relief in sight for millions of women and girls?

In developed nations, our societies have evolved with women gaining many of the rights denied to our ancestors. We can vote, choose our occupation, buy property, and decide who, when, and even if we marry.Yet we are hardly immune to the violence perpetrated against us, often by our romantic partners.

It seems that sometimes we women are determined to be our own worst enemies. We buy “romance” novels by the gross ton where the plot sometimes has the “heroine” fall in love with her rapist and they end up supposedly madly in love by the end of the book. The book series 50 Shades of Gray was a runaway best-seller, featuring a very controlling, sadistic psychopath male and a female who was written to purportedly enjoy his mental, physical, and emotional abuse. The primary target reader of this book? Women. Does our apparent acceptance of such casual violence in fiction mean that we assume that either such violence doesn’t occur in real life, or that the women who find themselves on the victim side of things “like” or “deserve”it?

Our politicians certainly don’t help. They continue to cut funding for rape crises and battered women shelters They either misrepresent or outright lie about facts concerning sexual violence in order to promote legislation or gain votes.

Our judicial systems have weak laws, passed by the legislative branches of our governments to prosecute people who physically abuse women, and yet most rapists are never arrested, much less prosecuted.

Does our frustration with our political and judicial systems mean that we give up, accept the status quo, hope it doesn’t happen to us or someone we know and buy more books glorifying emotional, mental, and physical abuse?

The Bible that so many Christians revere doesn’t seem to offer much help either. There are civil codes where if a woman is raped in a field, she won’t get stoned for adultery, but if it happens in a city and she doesn’t cry out, she is guilty of adultery, and is therefore stoned. We don’t know for sure of course, but is possible that such a scenario may have happened to the woman accused of adultery in the New Testament. We have men stealing women from a neighboring town to make wives out of them, women ordered to marry their rapists, women enslaved as the result of war and forced to marry their conqueror. Does this not seem wrong to us? Or do we essentially ignore those portions of our Bibles?

One would think that in Christianity such things as physical and sexual violence against women would be rare. Unfortunately, it’s not, and that’s what really bothers me. So many Christians are so very focused on women’s issues – so much so that it has crossed the line from religion to politics…but the problem of violence against women has oddly not been given its deserved focus. Instead these groups have chosen to focus their attention on other topics such as abortion, birth control, or demoralizing the efforts of LGBT groups gaining equal rights.

When it comes to the truly important topic of violence against women, not much is being done by religious groups. If a woman were to turn to her pastor or church for help, more often than not she’s told to stay with her abusive husband, to “submit”, to stop being “disobedient”, to pray more, or that their abusive husband would have to commit the “real” crime of adultery before God would allow a divorce. I have to wonder: how many women feel trapped in a church-sanctioned abusive relationship with nowhere to go, and nowhere to turn? How much longer will this travesty continue?

How many sermons do we hear about Deborah, who ruled Israel for 40 years? How often are the names of the female prophets in scripture mentioned? What about all the women who were considered disciples? Why are women not given an equal role in the history of the church? Why are women still being denied equal roles in the church today? Why are they not also given equal protection when abuses occur?

You and I all know someone who is a victim of violence. You and I know someone who has been abused emotionally, physically, and/or sexually. You and I may know someone who died as a result of such violence. You and I may be one of those people who can list themselves in the victim list. You and I may live in fear of being a victim in the near future. As a result,you and I are the ones who understand the pain, the despair, and the feeling of utter isolation felt by victims of gender-based violence.

We can be the ones who do something about this, who work to reduce the list of victims and to ensure that all people live more peacefully and safely. We can be the ones who work to ensure that the fear of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by one half of our population becomes much less of an issue for the other half.

We need to stop ignoring this problem. We need to stop mourning the deaths, and drying the tears while we sit idly by and watch lives and hearts and souls and families shatter. We need to insist that women, all women, decide that we deserve better, and then we need to work together to rid our culture of the violence that threatens half of our species. We need men to insist that their gender conduct themselves with consideration, maturity and integrity. We need to work together, persistently, until we end this epidemic once and for all. The question is, will we?

The fall of the yard goddess.


Once upon a time I could do just about anything I wanted. I’ve never been exactly physically fit or athletic, but I had stamina and the willingness to at least attempt the task set before me. Even when chronic and often quite painful back issues started to become an issue, I often muscled right through getting done what had to be done. I’ve long enjoyed working in the yard, keeping flower beds neat and blooming, and shrubs contained in the spaces I wanted them to remain. I’ve mowed lawns and used weed eaters, but never liked that chore. But I’ve done it, when I had to

Saturday, I decided to do what I’ve always done, trim my bushes using a trusty set of old school, hedge trimmers. I have six boxwoods, a light leafed monstrosity, two smaller boxwood type shrubs in the front, and two more boxwoods and a gardenia on the side of our house. The last time they were done, Gary did them. He admittedly doesn’t like trimming shrubs, but wanted to help me.  Although I appreciated his efforts, I prefer how they turned out when I did them better.

I should have stopped at the first three. My neck had been twinging off and on for weeks. I’d gotten some adjustments at our  chiropractor, including one that morning. But the others looked so bedraggled in comparison to my neatly squared bushes. I went on.

By the time I’d gotten to the sixth bush, I was getting pretty tired. Gary stepped in helped with the two small bushes and the back of the last boxwood in the row. Then I turned my attention to the behemoth. I don’t know what it is, other than it grows a good two to three feet every six months doesn’t bloom and has large silvery, slightly waxy leaves and woody branches. I wish it would get aphids and die, but its likely to outlive me. As tired as I was feeling, plus a bit sore, I just couldn’t wait and tackle that shrub another day. It had to be done, and done that instant.

Tackle I did, with a vengeance. I took three feet off its height, (still taller than me) and reduced its girth so it wasn’t crowding out it’s neighbors. I reached up to pull some cut branches from the top, and my hedge trimmers just magically appeared where my right middle finger happened to be. You’d think such a small cut wouldn’t bleed so much. I went inside washed it thoroughly then wrapped it up in a paper napkin, fastening it to my finger with tape. I sent a picture of proof of my clumsiness to Facebook, then went back outside to finish up. I didn’t need to. Gary had finished up what little was left and had swept all the clippings up under the bushes where they would eventually make home grown mulch.

We cleaned everything up, had supper and realized that we’d overdone things a bit. I didn’t know how much I had till the next morning. I was miserable all day Sunday. There was literally no position that was comfortable. My neck hurt and more so my shoulder with the pain radiating down my left arm. Lying down was impossible, sitting up only really painful, so I spent a somewhat uncomfortable night on the recliner, sleeping only with the aid of an Ambian. This morning I lasted till just before lunch, before I could stand the pain no longer.

So, back to the chiropractor I went. I’ve definitely injured my neck. The jury is still out on the severity, but hopefully its nothing like a disc ruptured and only a severe strain. I was told, quite bluntly to never pick up hedge trimmers again, not even the nifty electric ones. I got adjusted and am now at home, on the recliner doing the thirty minutes on, thirty minutes off routine with ice packs. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that I’m no longer young, and vibrant, but older, and with a different, less physical form of vibrancy. My days of standing on ladders, wrestling shrubs, lugging bags of potting soil and lime are coming to a close. I can still dig in the dirt, planting bedding plants, watering patio tomatoes or pulling a few weeds, but the heavy work is going to have to be passed on.  This yard goddess, wants to live to see more gardens  and yards grow, and bloom and thrive, while still be able to do so under my own power for awhile yet. So I am retiring the heavy tools…or so I tell myself.