I won my DietBet!

DB2015-BeforeAfterThis was one of the most difficult things I’ve undertaken–second only to quitting smoking. I don’t like sharing photos of myself really any time, but I’m choosing to share my before and after pictures this time because I’m proud of the progress I made. Real, measurable progress.

In this bet, I’ve learned a few things about what it takes for my body to lose weight, how fast, what’s acceptable, and what undoes my progress the worst. I learned that I do stress eat more than I thought. Or, at least, I tend to make significantly less healthy food choices. I learned that I still love cooking and I will never be able to follow a “meal plan” because it’s not me. If someone invents the “foodie’s diet” please let me know. I’m happy to save calories on breakfast and lunch in exchange for a delicious dinner (and maybe dessert).

I also made my 5k bet! My final time on my Santa Claus Shuffle was 37:18, which is WAYYY below the goal of beating 39:51 from 3 years ago. I can honestly say I’m in the best shape of my life.

One of the most important learnings wasn’t mine, this time. My boyfriend finally, FINALLY, has learned to become supportive. Instead of suggesting pizza, he bought me whole-wheat pita pockets. Instead of making fun of me and offering me a cracker for dinner, he came with me to my 5k races this year. That means so much to me. It might actually mean more to me than my own weight loss. I haven’t quite sorted out my feelings on any of this.

Right now, my feeling is seriously in the realm of WHERE DA FOOD?! It’s Christmas Day and I WON!

New Year’s Resolution Complete: Santa Claus Shuffle 5k!

Official Race Results.
Official Race Results.

I did it! I did it! I did it!  Not only did I beat my former best time of 39:52 on a 5k, I did so by about two and a half MINUTES.  I finished the 2015 Santa Claus Shuffle 5k in 37:18 (official time).  Thus, I completed one of my New Year’s Resolutions.

As usual, the Santa Claus Shuffle was held in early December in Portsmouth, VA.  Three years ago, my friend Carrie suggested we run it together–and we set our first pace and time.  The next year, we also ran–though not as well.  Last year we missed the race because I was recuperating from surgery.  This year, I expected to be running it alone–Carrie moved back in January–but much to my surprise, she was in town and met me at the race start!  We didn’t stick together during the race, but we both set new best paces and times.

Race tracking by Microsoft Band
Race tracking by Microsoft Band

Ric was there at the finish line. No video this time–he missed it because I was significantly earlier than expected (gee, darn)! I also don’t have any official race finish photos or anything else except my personal favorite: the post-race celebratory banana photo of Carrie & me.  Yes, that’s a snowman-Dalek.  I did NOT want to run in costume this year, so settled for the most Christmassy short-sleeved T-shirt I had!

Carrie & Me!
Carrie & Me!

Gallstones & Surgery

I’ve been debating for weeks about whether to blog about this.  I’ve decided to tell part of the story: the less personal part.  Starting in early September, I was experiencing pretty severe pain in the right upper quadrant of my abdomen.  It was about the severity of broken bones, and was enough to make me feel nauseous.  Given the location of the pain, I was fairly sure it was in my gall bladder.

The gall bladder normally stores bile, which is produced by the liver.  Bile is what helps to emulsify fats from the diet so that you can digest and absorb them.  The liver also produces cholesterol.  Sometimes this process and the bile-cholesterol balance becomes imbalanced, which can cause the bile to start to become really concentrated and then it precipitates, forming gallstones.

Those things can HURT.   But why the pain?  After a meal (about 30 minutes later), the gall bladder contracts and squeezes some bile into the digestive system.  If you have a gallstone, it squeezes that, too.  That tends to hurt.  If the gallstones are small enough, they may be squeezed into the bile duct, which can be dangerous and very painful.  If the bile duct becomes blocked, the gall bladder can become inflamed and swollen.  This inflammation can spread to the nearby liver and pancreas, which can become life-threatening.

My gallstone was diagnosed by ultrasound.   Fortunately (or unfortunately), it isn’t that small.  It’s big.  It’s actually an inch in size, and that is  8 times larger than the duct–so it’s physically impossible for this thing to pass on its own.  Therefore, surgery is required.  Because it is physically too big to get lodged in the bile duct, my stone isn’t life threatening and won’t become life threatening, so my surgery is considered “elective.”

This has meant some fairly significant delays in getting treatment.  I’ve been in nearly continuous pain for about 2 months now, and that is only partially managed by my prescription for Norco.  Now for fun drug talk: Norco is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Vicodin is also a combination of the same two drugs, but the ratio of hydrocodone to acetaminophen differs a bit (same amount of hydrocodone, more acetaminophen in Vicodin).  The TV show House made popping Vicodin look almost normal.  House is an idiot.  Vicodin/Norco isn’t particularly effective as a painkiller for me (Darvocet, propoxyphene + acetaminophen, was better, but the FDA took it away).  On top of that, Vicodin/Norco isn’t particularly psychoactive for me: I don’t get any warm fuzzies, or high, or anything out of it except moderate pain relief.  I don’t think I’d ever become addicted to the stuff.  Again, House is an idiot.

My surgery is  a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder).  One of the most common questions I get is whether there are other treatments.  For gall stones, not really.  You can’t blast them with ultrasound and break them up (well, you probably could, but you might also damage other nearby tissues like your liver and pancreas).  Even if you do break them up into small enough pieces to pass, that’s going to mean more (excruciating) pain, and they’re almost guaranteed to come back.  There are drugs that can dissolve smaller ones, but mine is far too large for the drugs to be effective.  They can also take years, and once you stop taking the drugs, the stones return.  The only viable treatment option is removal of the whole offending organ.  As it turns out, it’s more of an accessory organ; it’s not critical for life or functioning.

To prepare for my surgery, I’m trying to get my weight into the normal BMI range, assiduously taking my vitamins, and keeping my skin moisturizes (this should reduce scarring).  I’m trying to keep my bowels running smoothly because it seems to reduce the pain I have, but a side effect of Norco (or any narcotic) is constipation.  I’ve watched a video of the procedure so I know what will be happening while I’m out.  I’ve met with my surgeon, and I fully understand what to expect and what will be happening… and I’m still very apprehensive.  I have a fear of hospitals (nosocomephobia), which is surprisingly common: according to a recent report by Women’s Health magazine, it’s one of the top ten fears, and 15% of people have trouble with hospitals.  I’m not sure how accurate that statistic is, but they cite the NIH, so that gives me some confidence.  In the meantime, I’m trying to prepare for my class absences and other anticipated issues and trying to keep my mind off the issue.  It’s getting harder.  My surgery is set for November 6.

WARNING: The video below contains blood and body organs.  It’s not for everyone.  Feel free to skip it. Continue reading “Gallstones & Surgery”

2013 and a new challenge

I haven’t blogged in a very long time, but lately I’ve been feeling like writing again.  So I’m going to, for a while at least.

I have a few things that I left unresolved from last year that I’m going to try to finish up.

I have a few new things that start this week, and I want to write about my experiences.  One, I enrolled in my first MOOC.  It’s Evolution for Educators, and it’s a 4-week course.  I’ve never participated in a MOOC before, and I’m curious, and I wanted to document my experience.

The second thing that I want to keep track of is a 6-month diet bet.  It’s an online thing (actually legit), and I’ve bet that I can lose 10% of my body weight in the next 6 months.  I’m desperate to escape the way things are in my apartment when it comes to food and healthy eating patterns because we don’t have any.  Most of my diets have lasted 2 weeks to a month.  This is longer-term, which I’m hoping will help me build actual habits.

So, those are the things that I intend to write about.  I do still have some photos of the week to post from last year, and I will finish those, and I may even write a year-end summary for 2012–what I remember of it, anyway.