Health Update #I’veLostCount

The Good News:

I went to the nutritionist this morning and weighed 248.5 lbs, which is down 23 lbs since the Diabetes diagnosis in September! Yay progress!  Go me!

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Screenshot of my FitBit app.  You can clearly see the peak in Sept.

What kinda baffled me at the time of getting on the scale is that, for the past two weeks or so, I’ve been eating a lot more carb-ish types of food than I had been, and I’m astounded than I’ve continued to lose weight.  The problem, of course, is that I’m still unemployed, and based on bills, current bank balances, and how much money I net-lost last month, I’m putting off grocery shopping for as long as possible.  That means a lot more meals featuring beans and rice than I (and my medical team, I’m sure) would like.

Luckily my nutritionist is pretty understanding of circumstances (and this isn’t the first time I’ve had issues affording decent food), so my “homework” from today’s session:

  • Continue elliptical & walking & dancing – 1 day per week each
  • Increase vegetables – inexpensive ideas: broccoli, cabbage, frozen veggies, carrots, & turnips
  • Continue to limit portion sizes of things like rice, beans, etc.
  • Continue lots of water

I don’t know when I’ll get work, or when I’ll run out of okay food to eat from the pantry, but I will definitely keep the veggie ideas in mind (in other words, tell my bestie so he can cook them).

But YAY, PROGRESS!!

Quick Diabetes Update!

Literally just got the results of my blood tests from last week:

  • A1C = 5.7%  (less than 5.7% is Normal)
  • Cholesterol = 196 (less than 200 is “desirable”)
  • Triglycerides = 87 (less than 150 is Normal)
  • Direct HDL = 66
  • Direct LDL = 103 (“within normal limits”)

So my A1C is down 0.4% and my cholesterol panel is “excellent.” Go me!  ^_^

Diabetes Appointment #2

Ha! Writing about a thing less than 7 days after it happened!  Go me!

As I was actually fasting for this appointment, the numbers were accurate:

  • FGT: 110  (falls into Prediabetes range now, woot!)
  • Weight: 256.3 lbs (15 lbs lost, 12 more to go!)

I did have blood tests done at the lab after my appointment (cholesterol panel & A1C), but I haven’t gotten the results back yet.

So my nefarious plan is still working, and Thanksgiving eating didn’t set me back!

Insurance companies supposedly only cover A1C tests every 3 months, so I may need to pay for my test this past week.  I also think that’s why Bonnie wants my next visit to be in 3 months.  But I have a nutritionist appointment in December and my physical in January, so it likely won’t actually be 3 months until I see someone again.


In somewhat related news, I was laid off from work earlier this week.  My thoughts on this:

  • It’ll be harder for me to get my daily steps, now that I don’t have to move around for work.
  • No paycheck = money rationing = more stress?
  • Applying for jobs is exhausting.
  • I didn’t get the chance to gather my courage to talk to the cute guy at work. 😦
  • More time for sleeping and craft projects and errands?

Of course, I was out of work for less than 24 hours before my dad decided to be a douche and started turning off the internet at 9 pm.  As if that’s going to help me find work.  At least he’s leaving it on during the day while he’s at work, which is sadly an improvement over the last time this happened.

No, I have not told him or my stepmother about this health problem.  They’re already hard enough to deal with, I don’t want to be told “I told you so” about my past food choices.

Diabetes Appointment #1

So this appointment was about a month ago now.  I’ll try to remember all the relevant and interesting stuff… Starting with the nurse’s name: Bonnie.

Bonnie explained the differences between Type 1 and Type 2; The former is an autoimmune disease & usually strikes in childhood, and the latter is caused by your pancreas working too hard and not making enough insulin to regulate the amount of glucose molecules in your blood & is usually found in adults.  Also, with the added glucose in your bloodstream, your body tries to flush it out, and that’s why diabetics drink more water and have to pee more.  (It all makes sense now!)

In the process of explaining the functions of glucose and insulin (which is what gets the glucose into your cells, BTW), I interrupted with “Yeah, C6H12O6,” and she gave me this blank look.  I’m thinking, ‘You are a diabetes specialist.  You cannot possibly have forgotten the molecular formula for the thing your work revolves around.’  I took both Chemistry and Biology; You can talk science to me, it’s ok.

She gave me the results of my blood tests.  The FGT (Fasting Glucose Test) measures blood sugar when you haven’t eaten anything for at least 8 hours, and the A1C measures your average estimated blood sugar over the past 2-3 months.  I should point out here that the morning I’d had the blood drawn, I didn’t know I was going to be doing this, so I’d had a few spoonfuls of cottage cheese before my appointment.  Therefore, the FGT results are not technically fasting; A1C does not have to be fasting.

FGT:  Normal <100  —   Prediabetes 100-125  —  Diabetes 126+  — My FGT = 128

A1C:  Normal <5.7% —  Prediabetes 5.7-6.4% — Diabetes 6.5%+ – My A1C = 6.1%

I also got this dorky book on carb counting and meal planning.  Bonnie explained that I could use my hand to measure portions; my palm for red meat, up to the first knuckle for chicken, and up to the second knuckle for fish.  I literally laughed out loud at that; portion sizing is depressing and doesn’t work for me.  I don’t think she thought it was funny…  I still carry the book with me, though, because it has tables of foods and their carbohydrates.  My food plan = eat mostly protein and veggies and switch to medicinal-grade (≥80% dark) chocolate.

Bonnie said that to start reversing this, I should be exercising 30-60 minutes every day and start by losing 5% of my body weight.  At the time, I was 271 lbs, so 5% = 13 lbs.  The last time I got on my bathroom scale I was 259 lbs, which is 12 lbs down.  This astounds me, that my nefarious plan is working, because I honestly haven’t been exercising as much as I should.  It also means that losing 10% (getting down to 244 lbs) is actually in the realm of Possible, so I’m going to keep working at it.

I did order a planner to map out my weekly exercise, and I keep the schedules for the YMCA classes and swimming times pinned above my desk.  I write into the planner on a weekly basis what my options are for the coming week, so I can plan around other things like overtime at work, contra dances, etc.  It’s kinda working…

A few random related notes:

  • My bestie still has not completed his YMCA application.  It’s hard to be a gym buddy when you don’t have a gym membership, dude…
  • I have been transferred to a different department at work for the next month (until the Seasonal job ends), and this job I will be standing all the time.  It’s also maybe 15 min to the YMCA I have a membership at, so I have fewer excuses to not go.

So my next appointment and bloodwork are scheduled for Tuesday this week.  Hopefully I don’t let this one go a month before writing about it.

Diabetes

So, as I believe I stated in the post on recent work changes, the new work schedule is not my natural rhythm.  To get to work by 8:30 I have to wake up by 6:15 am, and as it’s almost impossible for me to get to sleep before midnight, I have been perilously short on sleep.  Worknights (nights with work the next morning) I’ve been getting 5-6 hours of sleep, and that isn’t really balanced by 9-10 hours the remaining nights.

And that lack of sleep, combined with a low tolerance for people, incited bad food and exercise choices.  Like, cheesecake and cookies for dinner, and not dancing because I was too tired.

Naturally, that all caught up with me.

Since the beginning of August I’ve gained about 15 pounds, and a recent blood test showed that I have early Type 2 diabetes.  Talk about a wake-up call.

I have a friend that I met through dancing who has diabetes.  A few years ago, she had half of her foot amputated; she calls it Frankenfoot now.  And since then, she’s had multiple multiple other surgeries, on her nerves and her eyes…!  I think she’s almost blind in one eye now.

That is NOT going to happen to me.

This mid-level terror going on in the background of my mind has inspired me to start making lifestyle changes:

  • Severely limiting my sugars.  A tiny slice of my best friend’s birthday cake was my sugar ration for the week.  And I’ve switched to dark chocolate; you have no idea how helpful it is mitigating the wild mood swings and fiery internal rages I feel while trying to kick this sugar addiction.  It is really really hard to say NO to myself after an exhausting day when I know a cannoli will instantly make me feel better.
  • More activity.  I’ve started staying later at dances, taking more walks, and am trying to find a regular time to go swimming.  My Fitbit does help, and my bestie is working on a YMCA membership so we can be gym buddies.
  • More protein.  I have a pile of various meats in the fridge now.  I just need to make sure I eat them before they go bad.  But protein helps keep me full and energized.

And according to the bathroom scale I use, since I was diagnosed I’ve lost about four pounds.  Also, the skin lesion on my lower shin has greatly improved (hey, I’ll take any signs of improvement).

I have an appointment Tuesday morning with the diabetes specialist at my HMO.  She seems to be under the impression that I have been and/or am willing & able to test my blood sugars regularly.  I don’t think she quite understands the lengths I’m willing to go to to get out of having to prick my finger every day.  Thinking about it gives me anxiety; The last time I watched a needle draw blood I passed out, and it wasn’t even me getting bloodwork done!  Also, when I have my iron tested before donating blood, it Really Hurts.  I have sensitive fingertips.  I don’t think it’s a wise idea to ask someone with long-term depression to hurt themselves every day.  That can lead to Bad Things.  So I’m gonna lay down the law, and we’ll see what her response is.

My therapist was really supportive.  Apparently she’s got a strong family history of diabetes and knows how difficult it can be to manage.  She really liked my idea of using a planner to map out my exercise and dinner meals each week; I’m just waiting to run the idea past the diabetes nurse and my nutritionist before buying the planner.  (I also have been thinking about printing out inspirational exercise pics from Pinterest and taping them into the planner, to help keep me motivated.)  My therapist also suggested putting unsweetened cocoa powder into a banana smoothie with plain yogurt; I’m not a fan of plain yogurt, but if I can handle 88% dark chocolate I think I can deal with a not-very-sweet smoothie.

I’ve told my mom (and therefore my stepdad), my brother, and my bestie.  I also posted a message to my close friends on Facebook.  I have not told my dad or stepmother, as I fear they’ll have an “I told you so” reaction.  My mom’s reaction was “W.T.F.  Diet, and get back below 190.”  (Literally, that was her response via text.)  Diet, yes.  Lose weight, yes.  But I’d have to lose over 70 lbs to get that low, and I think that’s being incredibly unrealistic; Does she not know that I have more muscle than I did the last time I was that weight?  Usually my mom is really supportive, so I’m not sure what the deal is.  My friends have been pretty good about it, too.

So yeah.  Serious wake-up call.  I can’t believe I ever joked about this.  And I’ve advised my younger brother to get tested, even if just to establish a baseline.

Health Update

Things got really cray-cray for awhile there, but I’m pleased to say that regaining my health is progressing well, despite tiny paychecks and even tinier SNAP allotment.  The last time I visited my nutritionist I was 252.9 lbs; when I entered the number into my food diary app YouFood, it said that I’ve lost 15 lbs since starting the app in June last year!  What’s more impressive to me, though, is that I could finally put darts in the back of a pair of jeans, which took about 5″ out of the waist.  SO much more comfy!

Here are the notes from the last two nutritionist visits:

  • Look for 100% whole grain breads (including baking recipes)
  • Restart smoothies; must include a protein such as yogurt, milk, nuts/nut butters in addition to fruit
  • Try to do some type of physical activity/movement every day – swimming, walking, dancing, exercise class at YMCA
  • Add notes about cravings & moods to food diary; look for patterns
  • Freeze fruits & veggies before they go bad
  • Limit anything starchy to 1/2 cup serving, including potatoes, rice, pasta/noodles… Add more non-starchy veggies instead (broccoli, zucchini, beans, cucumbers, peppers, asparagus, parsnips, turnips, etc.)
  • Investigate weight training circuit at the Y

Other things we discussed included making an appointment with my doctor to be tested for asthma, and (when I get a job other than tutoring) investing in a Fitbit.

In other health news, I’m starting my physical therapy exercises for my knees again.  They were starting to make disturbing noises while taking stairs, again.  I have a PT buddy this time, one of the older ladies I dance with, so we can make sure we do them daily.

Also, I got my brother into contra dancing, so now I have a carpool buddy who hates being late, which therefore forces me to get there for the first dance and increases my dancing time.

Thoughts on Food, Food Insecurity, and Thanksgiving

A couple of weeks ago, I sent in the paperwork to renew my food stamps.  I knew that I was likely to have them cut due to increased income, but they were almost stopped entirely.  The lady I spoke to on the phone said that I was lucky to get my $16 / month, because it means that my case hasn’t closed, so when my income decreases I can ask them to update my file.  But going from $170-ish to $16 was a pretty big shock.

I know that there are people out in the world who have it a LOT worse than I do.  I know that there are resources I could tap into if things got desperate, which I’m not using now.  That doesn’t stop me from being concerned about my next meal.  Worried that I’ll have multiple meals of beans and rice.  Concerned about my health and overall nutrition if my resources for good food decrease.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been worried about food.  It’s got me wondering about the long-term psychological effects of food insecurity on young adults;  Who hasn’t heard of the “poor college student” and how we / they will attend any function or meeting if there’s going to be free food?  Am I imagining the flipped switch in my head that tells me food is more scarce, making it harder for me to lose weight and improve my health?  Thinking about food makes me feel different than it did before that phone call.

This all is especially relevant, considering that today is a feast-day.  Thanksgiving is generally celebrated by stuffing ourselves stupid on delicious food and then napping off the food coma that follows.  I’m taking a dish of roasted veggies over a friend’s house, which is great because it’s kinda potluck-ish; it’s not so great because I don’t know if I’ll be able to bring any leftovers home.  Leftovers are important.

I got a whole frozen turkey from work last week; it’s staying in the freezer, likely until January when my stash of food is running low and I desperately need protein.  And then it will feed me for at least a week, more if you count soup from the carcass.

This brings my train of thought to my pantry.  When I have my own place, I am going to build a food stash that will carry me through Ragnarok.  I am going to can fruits and veggies, and freeze things, and have a pyramid of store-bought canned food.  Eventually I want to work up to homesteading, wherein I grow and make as much of my food as possible, and only buy things like meat and staples (flour, sugar, etc.).  I really want to have chickens for fresh eggs.  (Have you SEEN the price of eggs at the grocery store lately?!?)

Food is one of those hospitality things, like offering a guest something to drink.  I want to be in a place where I don’t have to worry about food or a roof over my head, where I’m comfortable enough with what I have to share it.