My Progress!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Migraines and my recent Diagnosis

Note: No, that isn't my brain. Mine is MUCH bigger than that ;)

Ok, so a few weeks ago I developed what I thought was a migraine. I used to have horrible migraines and every once in a while would get a baby migraine (as I called it) which I could usually knock out pretty quickly with medication. Several years ago, my migraines were so bad I thought I was going to have to go on disability because I would get them two to three times a week which meant pretty much my entire week was shot.

In addition to the headaches, I would get what I called “migraine fog.” This was how I described the confusion and inability to attend to anything or concentrate on anything. I would experience this preceding and following a migraine so you can imagine when you are having 2-3 a week it pretty much becomes an a problem that takes over every aspect of your life. I really feel the migraines contributed to the slippery slope that got me to 465 lbs because it really cut back on my daily activity level and made exercising almost impossible as getting my heart rate up could trigger another migraine.

The migraine I developed a few weeks ago lasted over a week. It got so bad at one point, I was having phantom smells, vision problems, incredible pain and nausea and vomiting. I went to the hospital and spent almost an entire day curled up in one of my doctor’s examination rooms while they tried to determine what was going on with me. This was absolutely the worst migraine I had ever experienced.

The doctor sent me for an MRI of the brain which came back normal, but they noted some possible narrowing of the foramen magnum which prompted them to order a follow up MRI of my cervical spine. Here are the results of that MRI in a nutshell:

1. Note findings consistent with Chiari I Malformation with inferior deviation of the cerebellar tonsils (which I think means they may be herniating through the hole at the base of the skull).
2. They also noted degenerative disc disease throughout the cervical spine (the neck)with flattening of the thecal sac (this is a description of the situation which occurs when a herniated (slipped or prolapsed) disc has extended so far into the spinal canal that it is pushing on the thecal sac or covering of the spinal cord)
3. Bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing again, I think this is possibly referring to narrowing of the opening in the spinal vertebra the spinal cord passes through due to some of the degenerative disc disease.
4. Partially empty sella: from what I can gather from my research on the interwebs, the sella is where you find the pituitary gland. When it presents as "partially empty" this could be normal or due to abnormal pituitary function which would make sense considering I've also been diagnosed with PCOS and abnormal levels of all the pituitary hormones (FSH, LH, ACTH, etc) contribute to this syndrome.

Based on these findings, my primary doc has referred me to a neurosurgeon to get his opinion on how bad it is and how it should be treated. Honestly, I think it sounds worse than it actually is. Yes, this can be a serious condition, but it sounds like I may have a mild form of it. I really expect the surgeon to say that all we really need to do at this point is manage the symptoms. I would be very surprised if he recommended surgery, but I guess that is a possibility.

Honestly, it is such a relief to FINALLY have some answers about the years of headaches I’ve had to cope with. It may even explain to some extent why I’m so uncoordinated and accident prone. Perhaps now that we know the cause, we can do more to prevent the migraines from happening. I’ve had a couple days where I feel almost completely headache free so some of the medication must be helping.

I see the neurosurgeon this Thursday and I will update you guys on what he says. Thanks again for the support xx

Monday, April 25, 2011

What the???? and Perspective

Holy cow! Stepped on the scale last night to see 307 after getting down to 296!!! I know some of it is water because I feel bloated and my hands and ankles have been swollen, but geez! It isn’t 11 lbs of water. I’m not going to live in denial…this past week, with my birthday on Thursday, I have been eating a lot of things I shouldn’t. Mainly carby things that are going to make my more hungry which means I started “grazing” instead of sticking to three meals a day…not a good combination obviously. It scares me a little bit though because honestly…quantity-wise, I wasn’t eating a lot, but when you are doing a half assed low carb diet, your body is just going to react as if you are back on the high fat diet and respond accordingly.

So, here is my gameplan:

1. Get back on my “nuts and bolts” diet. This means I’m going to be having one protein shake a day and two low carb meals. I’m going to do this at least for the next week just to “detox” from all the carbs I’ve been ingesting.
2. I’m also going to get back to logging my food intake at sparkpeople. It is the only way I can truly be aware of how many calories I’m taking in. Part of the problem over the last week is I would allow myself to think “Ok, so I’m having some nachos…I only ate three! Big deal.” The problem is, I’d be eating a little something else a few hours later. Not logging my food allowed me to deny how much food I was actually eating. Obviously, if I gained 11 lbs in a week, I was eating a lot more than I thought.
3. Now that I am feeling better (again, more to come on this later), I want to start walking again. It is starting to get hot here in Texas (I went on a walk yesterday with Greg and had a hard time keeping up).

Today went fairly well although I did manage a few more bites of birthday cake lol. One thing I’m noticing is that in the past, I would typically beat myself up over a gain like this. Especially after FINALLY getting under 300 lbs. I won’t lie, the suckage factor is at least a 9 on a scale from 1-10, but I don’t feel as if I’ve lost complete control. I am confident that I can get back on program and there isn’t this nagging fear in the back of my head that maybe this is just the beginning of the end. I KNOW it isn’t. Besides, I have some awesome clothes I got off craigslist that I want to get into pronto. I’m also enjoying my life WAY too much now to give it up for a few bites of something bad.

I’ll end this particular post with a little birthday anecdote. I basically celebrated my birthday over about three or four days. Thursday was my actual birthday so I spent it with Greg (yes, back together again lol). Just a simple evening at his place eating pizza, drinking a little vino and watching some tv while snuggling on the couch. For my gift, he had blown up one of my favorite pictures of my mom and tanner and then another recent one of tanner and I that was very similar and put them in pretty silver frames…such a thoughtful gift and exactly what I love…you can’t go wrong with picture gifts for me. We are both into photography, so he knew exactly what would melt my heart. I have both pictures on my bedside table now.

Friday, Tanner and I attended his first concert as you have already seen by my post yesterday. We had an amazing time, ate at Zushi Sushi beforehand…it was great! Music has always been such a huge part of my life and when my son lost his hearing, that was one of the things I grieved over…thinking that I wouldn’t be able to share my love of music with him and here we were having the time of our lives at his first concert. Good stuff! We were absolutely exhausted by the time we made it home, but it is one of those memories I think will last a lifetime.

Saturday, I had asked friends and family to meet us out at a local restaurant ChaCha’s for some margaritas and good texmex. At the last minute EVERYONE started canceling on me. I’m sure it had a lot to do with Easter being the next morning; I mean, who wants to go out and get plastered when they have to get up for mass the next morning lol? Other friends had emergencies come up, I completely understood. Erik even stayed home…he said he wasn’t feeling well. By then, I was just feeling pretty crappy. I had ordered this huge cake and it looked like only about 3 people would be showing up…I felt like such a loser lol! I decided to head to the restaurant without the cake and was trying to not dwell on the fact that it looked like the evening was going to be a bit of a bust.

So, as I sat at the restaurant, all by myself, for about 45 minutes lol…my best friend Shannon was running late…I started to feel worse. All of a sudden, I just stopped and said “You are NOT going to let this ruin what has been one of the most amazing birthdays of your adult life. You are healthier than you’ve been since you were in your 20’s. You had an amazing night with your boyfriend, an AMAZING night with your son and you are about to spend a great night with a few friends and eat the best damn birthday cake ever!(shannon picked it up on her way to the restaurant lol)” Not to mention I had people coming out of the woodwork on facebook to wish me a happy birthday and congratulate me on this last year. I had a heck of a lot to be thankful for.

It is all about perspective folks. When you step back to look at the big picture, you can relish in a beautiful landscape OR you can choose to focus on the few brown blades of grass in an otherwise see of green foliage. I choose to take it all in and recognize that those few blades of dying grass only make me appreciate the thriving green even more.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Be Brave and Fight Like a Girl!" My favorite new breast cancer slogan!

Friday night at the KT Tunstall concert, Tanner and I were lucky enough to stand next to Cherie Mathews, owner and founder of A breast cancer survivor herself, Cherie designs and sells post-surgical friendly clothing for breast cancer survivors and also works hard raising awareness and promoting advocacy efforts for those affected by breast cancer (friends & family included). Tanner was completely smitten by her and talking to her in between sets kept us entertained to say the least. He was particularly impressed by her picture of herself posing with Joan Jett and a video she shared of her sister in one of The Cult's videos (her sister dated the lead singer for several years) and I appreciated the genuine interest she took in amazing kiddo who can often be misunderstood.

He LOVED the attention she showered on him and on the way home that night said in a somewhat disappointed voice, "We should have gotten her number so that we could see her again some time." I told him that she had given me her business card and he broke into a huge grin and said "Cool." He is such a social kid, but he has some social delays which...when coupled with communication issues...can often impede his desire to connect with other people. It warms my heart when people like Cherie take the time to get to know him and see the amazing boy I see inside him.

So, later as we talked about various things, we discovered we had a "cancer connection" (her being a breast cancer survivor and advocate and myself having worked for the American Cancer Society for almost 9 years; not to mention losing my mom to lung cancer and my grandmother to breast cancer). She gave me her card so I could look her up on facebook later and when I got home that night I checked out her website,

I instantly fell in love with the whole concept which is essentially designing and gifting specially designed post-surgical clothing for breast cancer patients. I remember flying up to help care for my grandmother after her mastectomy and how difficult it was for her to open her shirt and show me her scar and drainage tubes for the first time. I will never forget the look on her face as she looked up at me to gauge my reaction. Painted all over her face was a horrible mix of apology for the breast that was no longer there mixed with a seed of hope that I'd reassure her in some way that she hadn't changed in my eyes. Trying not to show the grief I felt for all she was going through, I looked her in the eyes while grabbing a washcloth to clean around her incision and said, "Wow, they did a great job, how does it feel?" I have no idea if those were the right words, but it broke the ice between us and I could feel her relax as I continued to bathe her and catch up on things. Losing a breast hadn't changed one thing about her in my eyes and that was what I wanted to impress upon her.

As I helped my grandfather care for her over the next week or two, I remember how frustrating it was for her to cope with the drains that often leaked and the difficulty she experienced trying to get dressed those first few weeks following surgery. I really think she was thankful to finally be done with the surgery. They had initially tried to save the breast and over a month's time kept pulling her back into the OR to get cleaner margins until they finally recommended a mastectomy. Afterwards, I really think she was ready to get on with living, but the frustration of dealing with the physical healing was a daily problem for her. I can definitely see where the clothing Cherie has designed could have made that whole process so much easier for her.

Check out her website. If you know someone facing surgery, buy them a shirt instead of flowers. If you don't know someone who needs a shirt, gift one to a breast cancer patient in your local area and provide that much needed "Spirit Jump" many patients need following surgery. If your life has been touched in some way by breast cancer, you'll want to check out her "Be Brave and Fight Like a Girl" shirts or "Support Crew" shirts (the support crew shirts can be personalized with "Team (name of breast cancer patient)"....what an awesome way for family and friends to show support!).

To Cherie: I was amazed to learn later that you and I share a birthday as well. I still struggle with not being able to see or hear from my mom and grandmother on my birthday...I don't have much family left really so many birthdays come and go without much hoopla, but I'm a big girl now..I can take it ;) I'd be lying though if I acted as if I didn't miss them when that day rolls around each year. To comfort myself, I like to think about my mom and grandma sitting up there in heaven, probably around a dining room table with a cup of coffee gossiping about all the trouble we are managing to get ourselves into and trying their best to orchestrate some good stuff for those they left behind. I hope you don't mind if I consider our serendipitous meeting at that concert a little "sign" from them that they are still around and definitely keeping tabs on those they love. I look forward to ordering a shirt from your website (can't decide which one...may have to get one of each lol) and getting to know you and your organization better. Thanks for taking your experience and channeling it into such a worthwhile effort!

To my readers: I'm sorry I've been derelict in my blogging duties, but I've had some health issues crop up in the last few weeks. I'll go into it later this week. I'll live, but have found some answers for why I've been migraining.

By the way...I stood on my feet for 5-6 hours STRAIGHT at this concert. We had an absolute blast and yeah...I ached everywhere the next day and had a migraine to boot, but I wouldn't have traded that day with Tanner for anything in the world! It was his first concert and my birthday...AWESOME SAUCE people!! Definitely could NOT have done this activity this time last year. What a difference a year makes :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Big Binge

I feel like crap today. I’ve spent the better part of the last few days in bed. I can’t tell if this is a migraine or allergies/sinuses or what, but it has been a long time since I had a headache like this. I was thinking migraine because Thursday I experienced the mental fog I usually get pre-migraine, but it has been so long since I had one that I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I just thought that I was overly tired or something.

Friday I had to leave work early because I got to where I couldn’t focus visually and my headache was pretty bad. I slept for hours and was supposed to go for a walk with my friend Shannon and while I felt better, I didn’t want to tempt the headache fairies by getting my heart rate up so we took the dogs to the dog park instead. I ended up going to bed early because the headache came back and the next day was pretty much a repeat (leave work early, sleep most of the day and continue on that night with a headache).

I’ve had lots of people suggest Zyrtec D so I’m going to see if Erik can run to the pharmacy when he wakes up and get me some. There is some slight burning in my nose and above my right eye and even my neck feels kinked up, but that could be all the sleeping I’ve been doing. I just don’t like feeling this way for this long.

On a lighter note, I’m down to 300 this morning so we may pass into the land of the 200’s very soon. Because of the headache, I obviously haven’t been having my nightly glass of wine. I have no idea if that has anything to do with it, but it is an interesting observation.

One thing I haven’t talked about is my BIG BINGE. Yes, it happened. I mentioned it on my facebook status so if you are there, you know about it. Apparently oreo cookies can slide right through my stomach fairly quickly and, for whatever reason, a few nights ago, I sat there and ate almost a whole package of double stuffed oreos all by myself. I was under a lot of stress due to the car situation, tanner, erik, the relationship I was in, etc. As you saw in my venting post…nothing was really “working” the way it was supposed to. I guess the good thing is, I realized ( a bit late) what I was doing, closed the package and stopped. Before, I would only stop once I ran out of oreos. The next day, the package was still there, but I refrained from having any more and was right back on program.

I had purchased the oreos to make these cookies and cream cupcakes—probably one of the most requested out of all the cupcakes I make. I was in the mood to bake and wanted to make something special for Greg and his daughter since he had mentioned she was really into cupcakes…since we broke up I’ve found myself wondering if they didn’t wind up in the trash instead :(. I made the cookies and cream cupcakes and then these peanut butter cup-cakes (chocolate cake with peanut butter fudge filling, pb frosting and a reeses cup on top)..two dozen of each…yeah, I’m a glutton for punishment obviously. I did good though, I only sampled one or two over the weekend and gave away most to neighbors and friends.

So, while I’ve had plenty of temptation and plenty of stress this weekend, I haven’t experienced another binge, but I’ve also spent a good portion of the weekend in bed. I’m on the lookout for it though. I realize the urge is still there so here is hoping that awareness and commitment and the lure of the 200’s being within my grasp will keep me out of trouble.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Changes, changes and more changes

I know I should be blogging more. The last several months have really seen me coming face to face with SO many of the things that have contributed to my weight gain over the years. I think that is why I’ve been trying to “distract” myself in various ways…to avoid really having to deal with these issues. That was probably fairly obvious to you guys, not so obvious to myself.

Abandoning my blog was another avoidance tactic I’ve discussed before; because it is often here where I come face to face with a lot of these issues. Avoid the blog….continue to live in lala land.

A weight update: I am at 301 today. Nope, still haven’t managed to get under 300, but I continue to walk and I’m really enjoying the activity. I hope to get our bikes soon so that will be another thing we can add to our activity list.

They found our car, but we are still waiting to hear from the insurance company about what they plan on doing with it (fixing it…it had two flat tires, but I don’t know if there was any other damage). I should know something by Monday. I honestly don’t know what we will do either way since the car is on its last leg. I’m kind of hoping that we will just be able to fix the tires and drive it until it stops and in the meantime, I’m just going to do my best to save up for a new car so that it can be replaced when the time comes.

Another problem when it comes to the car situation is I don’t want to share a car with Erik anymore. I’m really beginning to feel some resentment when it comes to our whole financial situation because he just doesn’t seem all that concerned. At least not concerned enough to get some additional work to make sure he can pay his bills each month. The last two pay periods he’s been about $200 short of what he owes me. The last pay period, he managed to borrow some money to make up the difference, this time, he’s waiting for his student loan money to come through. In the meantime, the bills still have to get paid so guess who gets to take on some more work to make sure they get paid? Luckily, my good friend Nick got me a job editing some documents that pays pretty well so hopefully, I’ll be ok this month.

Speaking of work, a friend of mine may be able to help me get a better job outside the home. She works for a college here in town and they need admissions counselors. She loves what she does and I think I would be great for the job. A lot of the programs at this particular college are medical in nature and I certainly think that I could sell someone on the value of an education. I sent in my resume and the woman who does the interviewing told Tracy several times how pleased she was with my resume. The pay will get me back making about what I was making when I was with the American Cancer Society which will mean a substantial increase in pay for me which I think we can all agree would be VERY WELCOME! Apparently her boss has been incredibly busy because I haven’t heard from her yet, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

I would love to get a job working outside the home. I really NEED to get out of this house. It is going to cause some problems with the car situation and managing Tanner though. I think Tanner will be fine, there may be a few nights where he’d have to take care of himself for a few hours until I got home; most nights I’d probably get home within an hour of him arriving home. The car situation is going to be the worst, but I’m at the point now where I think it is high time Erik started trying to figure out some of these things. I’m the one that always seems to be trying to figure out how we are going to juggle tanner, transportation, etc. I figure he can start looking up bus schedules, find a job closer to home that he can walk/ride a bike to or talk to his mom about co-signing on a car or something for him. Of course then he has to figure out how to pay for the car, but again…not my problem.

One additional update…I am now single again. It is a good thing though. I still have lots of work to do and I think it will be work best accomplished without the distraction of a relationship. One thing I don’t think I will ever do again is the internet dating thing. One thing I realized through this whole experience is I don’t NEED a significant other to be happy. I’m not looking for someone to complete me or fill some void inside me. Don’t get me wrong, if a great guy came along I wouldn’t blow him off, but I’m not necessarily seeking it out. As a matter of fact, I think I’ve officially revoked my rights to pick any future prospects for the foreseeable future. At least for now, I still don’t trust my judgment when it comes to men. Sometimes I think I’m going to have to limit my prospects to fellow Str8s lol. At least then, I can be fairly sure of myself and I think another str8 will understand where I am coming from.

I will continue to do the meetup thing because it really is so much fun! I’ve made so many new friends and I’m getting out and trying new things, going new places, etc.

Thanks to those of you who commented on my last blog. I plan on exploring some of the points Chris brought up in future blogs. She’s right, those questions are at the “meat” of the issue…that is what I have to figure out for myself so that I can truly move on with my life. *Sigh* sounds so easy…