Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's GO time... (exceedingly loooonnng post)

I've been planning to give an update on my stupid health issues for over a month now, but when I stumbled upon this old post, written a little over a year ago, I didn't want to put off writing this any longer.  And it's probably going to be a long one (even longer than my usual), so don't say I didn't warn you.  In fact, I almost split it into two (or three) posts.  If you have no interest in my health, and only come here to hear me say something funny, or extremely stupid and/or personally embarrassing, do yourself a favor and skip this one.

I was humiliated and ashamed of myself as I read last year's post about all the changes I was pledging to make the day before my 43rd birthday.  Needless to say, those changes never happened.  Any weight that I lost was minimal, and quickly regained as soon as I returned to my old, familiar eating habits.  In fact, of the 40 pounds I lost 3-4 years ago, I have now gained back... 40 pounds.  It was gradual; I'd gain 10 lbs here or there, then lose 5, then gain 15, but now it's all back, just the same.   I am now the fattest I've ever been.  Again.  And it shows. 

My Chaz Bono chin/neck appears to be on the verge of giving birth.  I've
decided to name my chin/neck, since she has become such a prominent member of the family.  You see her before you see the rest of me, so it felt rude (and impossible) to keep ignoring her.  She is now Laverne.  I bought Laverne a lovely scarf, but she doesn't like it.  It's itchy.  Naming my chin/neck caused my gigantic arse to become jealous, so it had to have a name, too.  Since my backside is so large, I felt that each side needed a name of her own.  So, now...  The left cheek is Mary Kate, and the right is Ashley (and are you thinking, "Oh, gross," right now about this pic?  It's okay if you are.  You can say it.  Gag if you want to.  That's not me.  Did you think it was me?  Seriously?  Not quite.  Not yet).

Anyway, I still have the same health problems I blogged about in that old post, along with one that I've been keeping a secret from almost everyone.  Only a few friends (and of course, my immediate family) (oh, and the people my husband has told, "so they can pray for me," even though I asked him not to say anything) know about it. 

The "big secret" will be of no interest to my friends in Bloggerville.  It will only matter to those who know me- those who've been kept in the dark about it- or who've been basically lied to every time I told you I'm fine.  If you fall into that group, I'm sorry.  I'm nowhere close to fine. 

Supposedly, I have Fibromyalgia.  I haven't even decided yet if I believe Fibro exists (which is not to say that I think people are lying about their pain.  I don't.  I believe it has become a very popular catch-all diagnosis in recent years when a doctor doesn't know what else is wrong with a patient, to the point that some people are being misdiagnosed with Fibro when they actually have something else). 

Actually, the onset of my "illness" and all the continuing symptoms line up most closely with Lyme disease, from what I've determined through my own research since all this started.  Here's what happened... 

(If you want to shorten this post, and couldn't care less about Fibromyalgia or how I got "sick," skip all the blue type and jump to the end)

Several years ago, I started running a fever and feeling achy, like the flu was coming on...  Only it never did.  I had a solid week to ten days of high fevers and feeling really tired and out of it (but no other flu or cold symptoms, like coughing or congestion, nausea, etc.).  And when I say tired, I mean laying down to take a little nap, then sleeping for the next 18 hours.  This happened several times throughout that week (Thank God Darrell was home at that time to help with the kids, at least).  It was weird.  But, again, we thought I was coming down with something, so it wasn't that weird.  The aches kept getting worse, but finally the fever stopped.  I expected to get better, but the aches and fatigue continued.

After a couple weeks of that, I went to the doctor.  He asked me if I'd had a tick bite and/or a rash when I first got sick, and I said 'No.'  This ruled out Lyme, as far as he was concerned.  But...  Wouldn't it be possible to get a tick bite and a rash in a place you wouldn't necessarily see?  Especially if you're, um, large-ish, like myself?  Now, several years after the fact, I wish the Dr. would've just tested me for Lyme anyway.  He thought it sounded more like Leukemia and tested me for that, as well as for Lupus.  Both were 'negative,' so he said Fibro was the best fit. 

I have never heard or read of another case of Fibromyalgia that initially presented itself with fever.  Plus, I continue to have bouts of unexplained fever.  In fact, I've been running a fever every day for the last three weeks.  Whenever this happens, I hate it.  I always feel like I'm just about to get sick, but never do. 

During the time of waiting to see what was wrong with me, I also started to notice that, as the fatigue became worse and I was feeling more tired, I was actually sleeping less.  It's as if those 10-18 hour "naps" in the beginning were God's way of prepping me to never sleep again.

I don't know what the heck it is, but I do know that I am in pain, to some extent, almost all the time.  Often intense pain.  It does go through 'cycles' (for lack of a better term) where it gets better or worse, but some part of me is always hurting.  The cycles of pain do not seem to follow the cycles of fever, either.  There is no absolute pattern to any of it. 

Right now, as I write this, the bones and muscles all around my collarbones and in my pelvic/hip areas feel like I've been beat to crap in a bad car accident.  I've had times when it's hard to walk, hard to lift my own baby, hard to get myself in and out of the tub or the car.  Oftentimes, weakness comes with the pain, and you can see me visibly shake as I try to lift a glass.  It's ridiculous.  To watch me walk around during these times, you would think I was 40 years older than I am. 

Because of that, I have become a hermit of sorts, even avoiding phone conversations (especially with my mom, who probably thinks I'm a horrible daughter for not keeping in touch as I should.  Sorry, Mom).  The kids always say I have a "pain voice" and they can hear it when I'm hurting.  It took them a while to learn the difference between my pain voice and my angry voice- lol, but now they can hear me say "hi" and know immediately that I'm in pain.  And it's just hard to make small talk or focus on a conversation when you're in pain.  When I'm hurting the worst, I will avoid you like the plague.  I won't go to church, or the store, or any other place.  I'm like an old cat, who will slink off to a closet to die alone (speaking of which...  I just realized I haven't seen Mama Kitty since yesterday...  Hmmm).

The long and short of it is that Fibro has added about twenty years to the way I feel and the way I function.  My "Quality of Life" sucks.  I'm lost in a constant brain fog (pain distracts you from everything else).  I'm slow.  I'm unproductive.  I'm...  pitiful. 
Aside from the pain, the most frustrating aspect of this is the extreme fatigue.  I am tired all the time (but can't sleep, which is also apparently a normal part of Fibro) and always feel worn out, as if I've just been through a rigorous work-out. 

And guess what?  When people see a big woman who says she's tired and is having trouble getting out of a chair, you know what they think?  They think "LAZY!"  "LARD*SS!"  They think, "Maybe you should put down the cake, honey."  That's what they think.  You can see it in a person's face, sometimes...  you know, when they're judging you and making assumptions about who you are based on your weight.  I hate that part of it, too.

I'm no longer on any pharmaceuticals for it.  I tried several (for years) and they didn't work.  I think this lends more evidence to the idea that I have something other than Fibro, but what do I know?  I'm not the one with the degree on my wall.  I'm just the one in pain.  And currently, I'm the one in pain with no health insurance, so there won't be any further testing or prescriptions in my near future.

In addition to the Fibromyalgia-or-whatever-it-is, I still have uncontrolled Diabetes (the fat chick kind, Type 2- not the "born with it" kind), high blood pressure, ridiculously high cholesterol, HORRIBLE insomnia (and have I mentioned I can't sleep?) a bad thyroid, and a hormone imbalance that drives me up the wall ( PCOS- Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome).  And, as long as I'm listing ailments, I've had a new, weird thing going on...  In the past 8 months or so, my armpits have started hurting, too.  What the heck is that?  I have no idea whether or not that's part of Fibro, or Lyme, or any other thing, but it seems like a strange area to be hurting.  It's even painful to shave or put on deodorant.  As if the rest wasn't enough, huh?  Well, I've always had to be a little unusual.  I guess my pits are no different.  I'm a mystery, wrapped in a pancake. 

Wow.  This is a lot of rambling.  Look at all these words!  Are you even still here?  Am I flipping talking to myself again?

It's a little late to make a long story short, but basically...  It's time to take the bull by the you-know-whats and do something.  I don't know what.  But something.  If I don't change my ways, I'm going to die.  I don't mean that to sound all melodramatic, like I'm dying today, or anything...  I just mean I can't reasonably expect to be around for my children's children if I'm going to continue choosing to ignore my health (or at least the parts of my health that I can control, anyway).

I can't do anything about the constant pain or fatigue.  I'm stuck, there.  And the point of mentioning it in this post, is not so that I can whine and complain.  This is not a "poor me" thing.  This is about me being fed up with all the things in life that are beyond my control, and wanting more than ever to get control over the few things I'm able.  I know my weight is to blame for some of this. And some of this is to blame for my weight.  And really, the only thing I have a real shot at controlling is my weight.  And by controlling my weight, maybe I can have a little control over the diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, and just maaaaybe, my life expectancy (not that I truly think I can control how long I'll live, but you know what I mean...  I'd like to add a few years if possible).  I'm hoping I can find the strength to knock down this one huge domino in my life, and then that domino will... well, you know how dominoes work.

As far as getting the weight issue taken care of...  I just don't know how to do it.  I know that I'm not going on another diet.  I'm more interested in learning how to eat better, healthier, and more organically, than I am in following some restrictive plan that will leave me feeling deprived and only yield short-term results.

I just want to live a healthier life and feel better.   That sounds like it should be easy.  Why isn't it easy?  Am I really asking for too much?

If you read Looking For George, I'm looking into a lot of the same things Elaine is interested in (bio-identical hormones, etc.) trying to live as naturally and healthfully (??? Healthfully?  Is that a word?) as possible without a reliance on pharmaceuticals.  I'm trying to find more natural ways to manage pain and insomnia effectively (which I haven't yet) and trying to figure out a healthier diet for myself and my family.  That's where I'm struggling the most.  I've told you guys before that I don't know the first thing about eating (or cooking) healthy food. 

I'm very confused right now about what exactly qualifies as healthy and what doesn't.  A lot of "lite" or sugar-free products, like yogurt, for example, contain Aspartame and/or lots of other chemicals.  So is it really better to give up the calories, but eat the chemicals?  OR should I be looking for more natural, unprocessed products that may have a higher calorie count, but contain less "crap?"

I may or may not blog about my little Journey to Health, and my progress (if there is any).  I haven't decided yet.  If I'm successful, will it even matter to anyone but me?  Does anyone have the slightest interest in hearing that one of my fat rolls shrunk by 1/8 of an inch?  And if I'm not successful (again), do I really want my failure recorded here, staring back at me for all eternity, in black and white?  If I do blog about it, maybe it will help keep me accountable?  Or maybe it will just help me lose the 2 readers I still have...  I don't know. 

I certainly will not blog my starting weight, but my goal is to lose 75 pounds, and give Laverne, Mary Kate, and Ashley their walking papers.   I want to be running around outside with Sammy this Summer.  I want to get some type of activity into every day.  This will be very hard to stick with on my "bad pain days," but I hope to do something, even if it's only walking around the block.

I may blog more about my plan, once I know what my plan is going to be.  Right now, I'm confused.  And frustrated.  And feeling like the odds are against me before I even start.  But...  I still have a tiny bit of hope, too.  I feel a change is coming.  And it's just got to be a good one, right?


Nicki said...

I think a lot of people (like me) are in the same boat. It sucks and it's frustrating. I actually had the food thing all figured out before I was derailed by emotional crap. One of the things I learned, though, was to stick to the perimeter of the store. I think if we ate only from the perimeter we'd pretty much lose weight anyway. But also I think fat isn't the enemy and is naturally occurring so I used to veer from artificial even if it meant higher calorie. I think you are right on to focus on eating normally instead of dieting. I lost a ton doing just that so I know it's possible (unless emotions get in the way and derail you like they did me!)

Anonymous said...

Since I didn't want to write a comment as long as your original post, I sent you an email!

Anonymous said...

You said: "If you have no interest in my health, and only come here to hear me say something funny, or extremely stupid and/or personally embarrassing, do yourself a favor and skip this one," but then went and named your chin and each butt cheek. If that doesn't qualify as funny or personally embarrassing, I would like to know what does! And really if each cheek is only the size of Mary Kate or Ashley, that's really not that big.

Seriously though, I understand what you are saying. I need to do something too. I joined Weight Watchers online, and then my Girl Scout cookies came two days later. I was really hoping it would be a motivator, but it hasn't been.

I never learned to eat healthy. My mom was always on some crazy diet - the soup diet, the liquid diet, etc. I want to teach my children to eat healthy, but I just don't even know where to start.

If you are concerned it's lyme, I have a friend who has it and seems very knowledgeable. I can put you in touch if you want.

Anonymous said...

I would totally choose more calories from healthy food over fewer calories from chemical laden food. Totally. And? I knew that wasn't a picture of you. As far as the armpit thing -- that could be swollen glands/lymph nodes. When I had mono in high school (no, I did not get it from kissing a bunch of boys) (I got it from sharing lip stick with my friend who kissed a bunch of boys) my arm pits got all swollen and painful. They still do that sometimes when I'm coming down with something or have something. So maybe it's something like that? Also, in addition to all the Suzane Sommers books, check out the Marilu Henner books, especially Total Health Makeover. She talks more about healthy eating than Chrissy Snow and all her doctors. Hang in there. Email my mom if you want to talk fibro -- she was diagnosed with it a long time ago but it seemed to get better after she got completely through menopause (although she may tell you I'm wrong about that -- it's just how it seemed to me). At any rate, she's better, so there is hope. Hold on to it. (((hugs)))

Lina said...

I'm finally getting caught up on reading blogs...well just a couple, but yours was first on my list!

My mom was diagnosed with Fibro years ago too. She lives with daily pain. She struggles with many of the issues that you do outside of Fibro too. I'm going ask her to read your post. She has said she doesn't know if she even believes in Fibro or if it is just a catch-all that docs use when they really don't know what the heck it is.

Can't they still test you for Lyme's? That stuff is NASTY. My dad got that last year...it was terrible until they figured out what it was.

I feel for you Michelle, that is a lot to deal with and a very devastating blow to get that diagnosis. Now I know why you're up watching the Genie bra commercials! ;)

As for the weight....I joined a Biggest Loser competition at my work March 1st. I hate being on a diet....so I'm not...and I have to face the music every Tuesday morning. I thought about quitting work just so I can eat without guilt. Hahahaha. I like to eat...cheesie, gooey, chocolatey, yummy types of food. Not diet. And I totally agree - avoid the chemicals and stick with the natural foods. Eat like a caveman and you probably will lose wieght without trying too hard. Wish I followed that...but I love carbs. I grew up on Mac and Cheese and Pizza. It sucks. If we all had to chase our food around and kill it with a spear none of us would have a wieght problem...but we've got it way too easy.


Colleen said...

Michelle, I didn't know you were blogging again!

Hey, I had some good success NOT dieting by changing my cooking style to Mediterranean and Asian. I began including fish every week and rarely cooked red meat. That was a big change for me, but we ended up really enjoying the new, fresh meals I made. I began to walk my treadmill three to four times a week as well. On the flip side, I got to have my Starbucks whenever I wanted and treats now and then and still lost twenty pounds without ever feeling deprived. When Miss Holly joined the family, exercise and healthy cooking sort of came to a halt. But as soon as I recover from a recent surgery, I'm going to commit to MediterrAsian cooking and living again. It has been my favorite so far. I have a web site about it linked on Young Adventures called Going MediterrAsian.