Friday, April 20, 2012

Eye Problems and Diet Soda Round Out My Week

Since last writing, a couple of things have happened. I had an issue with eyes that kept me from being able to do much for a couple of days and I’ve given up soda.

The eye thing turned out to strain on the retinas of my eyes. Bright, arcing slashes of lightning bolt shaped light flickered in my eyes for an hour or so last Wednesday. It didn’t hurt but I could see them even with my eyes closed. The light seemed very bright and was uncomfortable to look at but there was no way to look away. Once it subsided, I saw several “floaters” in my vision for a couple of days. So I called my eye doctor and they squeezed me in on Friday, fearing a retinal detachment.
Fortunately, there were no tears and they explained to me how things like this are more common as we age, particularly as we cross the 50 year mark. Great, something my body has to be right on time for! Lol. There is nothing that can be done to prevent more of these episodes but I did learn what to watch for and when I should call the doctor again because it might actually be a detachment. Even that is correctable but I have to say – this getting older stuff sucks.

It was more of an arc but this is close to what I saw but up close and personal in my eyes

It really got me thinking about my age and my health. Being 50, for me, means I am probably well past the halfway point of my life. Time is running out for me to “fix” things” There aren’t that many tomorrows left.

So Idecided to do something I’ve known I should do for a long time. I gave up soda.
I drink diet coke primarily, and decaffeinated when I can find it. I don’t buy soda and keep it in the house so I thought I was doing ok, only having it when I went out. Problem is I would go out once or twice a week and get soda from places that had free refills. Then I would sit drink 30 to 40 oz. each time. I also got a 20 oz. bottle every time I went to a store or gas station because I was thirsty. Or I’d have my husband bring me one on his way home from work. It averaged out to at least20 oz. of soda a day.

That doesn’t sound like much  but even at a $1/soda – which is low – that’s $30 each month. Plus I’ve read about how diet soda metabolizes in such a way as to make you hungry and make you crave more soda. So in essence its making you eat and drink more. Well no wonder I’m not losing weight!
Now I know soda is not to blame for my condition. I am. But this journey is about taking baby steps to get healthy. So I took this one and here’s what I’ve experienced 6 days into this.
Even the caffeine from a 1 soda/day diet has had an impact. Today is the first day in six that I haven’t woken up with a headache caused by caffeine withdrawal. The headache was bad on day three that it woke me several times throughout the night. 

I seem to be sleeping worse. This may not have anything to do with soda withdrawal as I am under a good deal of stress right now and I still have that apnea thing to contend with but I’ve noticed I’m waking up more since giving up the soda. I will have to see if that changes as I get farther into this.
I’ve lost 3 lbs. OK, wasn’t expecting that. But here’s the thing. I don’t like milk and fruit juices and I don’t drink tea (Caffeine) and don’t like green tea even without sweeteners which are also bad for me. Crystal Lite and those things are not providing me with any nutritional value and can add up to a lot of money. So, yep, I’ve been drinking water and more of it each day. 

Is the lack of diet soda making the difference or the increased water? I have no idea but I’ll take. Today’s weight was 264.8. A long way to go but that’s okay. Next week is the sleep study and hopefully another step on the road to a fitter me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Breaking the Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle

I can’t take credit for the title or the subject of this blog post because I read it on but it struck a chord with me.   Michelle May, M.D. asked several questions about eating behaviors that seemed to have been patterned after many of my own, things like “Do you think about food and eating more than you think you should?” and “Do you often eat when you are bored, stressed, sad, lonely, or angry?” Ad celebrating, happy, tired and breathing to that list and it just about sums me up. 

Her conclusion is that simply “dieting” alone wouldn’t get the job done for people like me. She went on to offer 7 steps for achieving greater success with weight loss. They may same like same-old-same-old but for some reason they resonated with me today. So as not to steal her work, the link to her article is at the bottom of this post but she inspired me to take several steps of my own.

  •   I will not totally restrict my favorite foods as this will only make me crave them more. I will carefully choose when to indulge in “those” foods. 
  •  I will pay attention to that little voice in my head trying to tell me when I’ve had enough instead of “cleaning my plate.” 
  •  When I am tempted to eat, I will challenge myself to discover the reason why…am I truly hungry? Is it just appetite? Was there an emotional trigger? 
  • Most importantly, I will not demand perfection of myself because that only sets me up to fail.
I am sure there are more things I could be doing to improve my health but as the blog’s title suggests, I am taking baby steps to wellness. It took me years to get this way. It will take years to correct.

DR. May's article

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apnea and Me

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I may, and probably do, have sleep apnea. Apnea is the short cessation of breathing. During sleep this can occur hundreds of times. It is often accompanied by snoring, usually loud snoring as those around me claim. But snoring alone is not the only symptom. When a person stops breathing, the brain sends a message to make them cough or something similar which wakens them to some degree so they start breathing again.

One of the bigger concerns is the strain this can put on the heart over time. The other consequence is fatigue.

Oh for nap!

For years I have gotten by on about 7 hours of sleep. Until the last couple of years, that has always been enough for me. I wake bright eyed and bushy tailed. But over the last couple of years, a change has crept into the quality of my sleep and that change has been the apnea.

Now instead of feeling rested in the morning, I often feel like I haven’t slept. Sadly, sometimes that is the case. I wake many times during the night. I am consciously aware of every time I turn over in my sleep. Sometimes when I wake, I cannot get back to sleep for a long time. I am aware that I have just coughed. My husband says at other times, it sounds like I am choking and I don’t wake up at all.

During the day, moments of inactivity-of which there are few! – are met with a sudden and overwhelming fatigue and desire to nap. Some evenings, I fall asleep watching TV as early as 7 or 8 o’clock. If I stop moving or focusing on something specific, I can fall asleep. My energy is zapped all the time and I have to pick and choose what I can get done in a day. Usually exercising isn’t among them because it will wipe me out.

I chalked much of this up to getting older and getting heavier. At 267.5, almost anything I do, leaves me short of breath and tired. It wasn’t until, as a writer, I did an article for a client on CPAP machines that I put the pieces together and saw my doctor. 

She said what I describe is a classic case of sleep apnea but in order to get treatment, I need a sleep study, something my insurance company was reluctant to approve. Finally they have though, and I get to go on the 24th of this month. I am hoping with the official diagnosis and the CPAP machine to treat it, my husband and I will both sleep better and I will reacquaint myself with my former energy levels and slimmer self. I’ll keep you “posted.”

Circle 8 Anthologies Featuring my Short Stories