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Reshaping Old Truths

Each of us carries with us truths.  There are things that we believe to be true about life, the world, about ourselves.  The truths we believe about ourselves are the ones I’m thinking about today.

I have a bunch of them that formed for different reasons from various sources.  Experience.  Listening to other people.  Coming up with them in my own head.  Mis-learned lessons.  The thing is, not all of these truths are really true, but I call them truths because they appear true to me — I believe them.

Sometimes we, or at least I, hold onto these things with tight grips.  We believe them so strongly that they shape our reactions and actions.  They sculpt the way we feel about ourselves.  They can shore up our confidence, or weaken our foundations.  Once we’ve integrated them into ourselves — our hearts, minds, emotions — they are really difficult to reshape or let go of.

Some of my truths have been big whopping lies, or at least horrible misconceptions.  A few examples from my life?  Thinking my father wasn’t proud of me, that I was a failure.  Believing that nothing I did was ever good enough.  Believing that I would never successfully lose weight and keep it off.  Those are just a few.

There are others that less corrosive to the spirit and psyche.  For example, even though I sang in glee club and choir when I was younger, I don’ think I have a good singing voice.  I sing when I’m alone but don’t like singing in front of other people.  Unless I’m at a concert where it’s so loud that other people can’t hear me.  I think I formed that opinion after I asked someone if I had a nice voice and they told me no.  What’s actually true is that I’m definitely an alto and I don’t have a grand range.  I think I probably sing better than I think I do.  I sometimes wonder what would have developed if I’d stayed with singing groups/clubs.  My control would most like be better than it is and maybe I would have improved my range.  I honestly don’t know, but the truth that’s in my head is, no doubt, far apart from what’s reality.

I have also always believed that I have no artistic talent.  I’m not good at crafts with the exception of needlework/needlepoint and working with sequins and beads.  I have a good eye for finished marketing materials like ads, flyers, and brochures but am not effective at designing them myself.

But let’s get back to the deep, emotional but potentially destructive truths because, man oh man, those are the ones that definitely need to be reshaped and we should give them the highest priority.   Thinking my father wasn’t proud of me weakened my self-confidence for years.  Thankfully, we resolved that issue a few years before he died.  I’d been so ashamed for so long that I was afraid to ever bring it up to him.  When I did, he almost cried.  A lot of pain got washed away and we both changed for the better in our interactions and connection to each other.

The whole believing I’m not good enough thing was always the heart of my eating disorder.   Even though I know that I’m more than good enough, knowing it doesn’t resolve the eating disorder.  That carries a certain degree of suckitude, but it is what it is.  At least the more positive belief helps remove some of the emotional underpinning.  It keeps that leg of the stool more balanced and secure.  That’s so important.  I can work on the physical aspects and, as discussed in the earlier post, the spiritual leg of the stool too.

Speaking of the physical, not ever believing that I could successfully lose weight and maintain it meant that I always felt that I was doomed to fail.  When you don’t really believe you can do something, you’re already setting yourself up for an ultimately negative outcome.  Sometimes I still want to fall back into that belief, so I’m working really hard to reshape that false “truth”.  I have successfully lost a good chunk of weight and, even though stalled, I’m maintaining the weight loss — far longer than I have ever done before.  I’m also maintaining the physical fitness effort.  (Rode my bike 14 miles today and did a one hour Tai Chi class.  Booyah!)  In so doing these things, I’m stacking up evidence for my own eyes and heart that a negative truth can be changed.  We can come to believe differently about ourselves.  That, my friends, is vital to my continued recovery.  Let me tell you, it is definitely the priority!

Now back to that artistic talent thing.  Remember the post on pottery and the class I took?  I’m ready to reveal the end results of my very first experience with “throwing” clay on a wheel.

Here’s the first pot.  You can see it’s uneven both in shape and in thickness.  The glazing’s uneven too.  Still, I gaze on it fondly, even in its imperfections.  I love the sweet little starfish that I added to the inside and the speckled sandy glaze inside the pot.  I now have this little thing in my bathroom.  It’s perfect for holding my earrings, necklace and ring when I take them off at night.

Pot-purplePot-Purpleinside

For the second pot, I achieved a little control which resulted in a more even pot.  I’m not happy with the glazing.  Detailed brush work is a challenge and it was hard to assess whether I’d evenly applied the glaze.  I like the shells that I affixed.  Overall, while it’s clearly not something that anybody would try to sell in a gift shop, I like it enough that I put it in the hall bathroom.  I may add some small soaps.  Whatever the case, I’m not hiding it away where nobody but me will see it!

Pot-aqua

My last, and best pot, surprised even me!  I can’t believe I achieved the overall shape.  On the second trip, when we learned to smooth and “trim”, I even managed to do that in more symmetrical fashion.  I loved playing with the deeper blue speckled glaze on the outside.  I think I achieved a nice, rich color.  Inside, I used a lighter speckled glaze and centered a single piece of sea glass in the bottom.  I love this little bowl!

Pot-bluePot-Blue-Glass

I don’t pretend that I am a  gifted potter after a single foray, but again, I’m not embarrassed to show this bowl.  I, who have always believed myself to not have any artistic ability at this kind of thing, got a life lesson.   I have enough artistic ability to have created three pots with enough success that I’m inspired to try additional things. Working with the clay, shaping it into different pots, helped me reshape another old “truth”.

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Little Steps

Reconnecting my spirit is not an instantaneous thing.  I don’t want to cop to being an instant gratification type of person, but sometimes patience with the process is not my strongest suit.  I want there to be a switch I can flick from “off” to “on”.  Having decided that I need this re-connection, I want it right now.

This in itself is a lesson.  But wait, there’s more.  There isn’t a definitive guide to attaining the spiritual part of a recovery program.  No, do this then this, followed by this, this and this and, bingo, you’ll have connected spiritually.  It’s more of a thought setting forth the intention, verbalized to make it real,  remembering it all when in action mode and then letting it be my guide when facing food options and behavior choices.

I can’t always do this one day at a time.  Oh heck, if I’m being honest, I never do it one day at a time.  Smaller time increments work better so I do it one meal at a time and, frequently, one food choice at a time.

Instead of rushing or forcing the process, I’m taking it slow.  There’s no deadline, as far as I’m concerned.  This is a disease that never leaves us, so building a life of recovery just has to roll out in whatever way it will.

What matters is that when the alarm goes off tomorrow, I remember my goals and the steps, and start the day literally and figuratively putting one foot in front of the other.

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Recovery’s Three Legged Stool

In the OA rooms, we talked about recovery being like a three legged stool.  You need to work on all three legs in order to be in balance – physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual.

When I first got that I had an eating disorder, a compulsive overeating disease, the positive effect on me emotionally was remarkable.  It really helped me clean up my head and my heart.  In ensuing years, even when I fell off of the wagon, I had a much clearer understanding of myself, my relationship with food, the role food and overeating played in my life, their effect on me, etc.  I am convinced that without this understanding, I would not be successfully maintaining my post-bariatric surgery weight loss.

In the early days, however, the ultimate focus was physical recovery.  Losing weight and restoring/regaining physical health were the goals.  Even with the better concept of disease behavior, I yo-yo’d with my weight until I finally committed to weight loss surgery.  If you’ve been with this blog from the beginning, or at least for a while, you know that I’ve lost a lot of weight and that I have worked on a lot of my issues, using this blog to help me process my thoughts and feelings.

Yet, for almost a year, I’ve been more stalled on my weight loss.  I’ve pretty much maintained the level that I reached, but digging in and sustaining the rest of the effort to get to my goal weight has been a constant, annoying, upsetting and frustrating struggle.  I gear up, employ a new strategy, go gung-ho for a while and then get stuck again.   Hence the annoyance and frustration.

A few days ago, I blogged about the constant food chatter that goes on in my head.  My dear, wonderful, long time friend read it and sent me a long email describing her struggle with the same thing.  This friend has also spent a great deal of time in OA.  She’s also had weight loss surgery and lost a phenomenal amount of weight.  She gets the disease thing.

You know that old proverb that when the student is ready, the teacher appears?  In her email, she openly talked about the fact that the food thoughts, the endless chatter and mental struggle ARE the disease to her.  She shared that she needs to remember the powerlessness and the need for the spiritual connection to recovery.

I’ve been re-reading and studying her email for the last couple of days, absorbing the words into my heart.   I see where I’ve been very intellectual about my approaches to food and recovery.  I know how much emphasis I’ve placed on the physical recovery.  I think those two legs of the stool needed my attention and they’re holding strong.  It’s that third leg — the spiritual one — that’s wobbling.  It needs my focus.

The first step of OA is admitting that I am powerless over food and that my life is unmanageable.  My life might not seem to be unmanageable, but right now, when it comes to how much food obsession is controlling my thinking, trust me, it needs to be managed better.  Until I remember step one and the powerlessness, I can’t embrace that a Higher Power can help me.  However,  once I do those two steps, I can make the decision to turn this over to the HP and accept the spiritual aspects of recovery.

It’s not religion, but I do need the spiritual connection with whatever represents a higher power to me.

What really connected for me today is that the physical recovery is not enough for me.  Sure, I could go on for the rest of my life, be happy because I’ve lost so much weight and am maintaining.  I could be satisfied with my greatly improved physical fitness.

But I’m not.  It isn’t enough.  I have more work to do.  I am not enjoying the serenity of full recovery because of the mind chatter, the food obsession, the constant battle to stay on track and not give into the disease of  compulsive eating.  I want that serenity, that recovery, too.   So, while I continue to maintain the physical exercise, et al, I need to reconnect to my spirit and emotional recovery.  That’s my focus now.

Thank you, my dear friend, for sharing your story and struggle and bringing me the reminders that I needed to have, when I most needed them.

In other news, today I walked another 5K – this time for the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event in town.  I didn’t shoot for a particular time goal.  This was about being with friends and folks I know throughout our community, having fun, and raising both money and awareness.  I raised more than $700, dyed and bedazzled a bra for the day, and had a great time walking.  I never would have done this even before weight loss surgery and am glad that I could today.

Here’s the bra.  After I dyed it, I hand sequinned/beaded the “ribbons” onto the cups.  A little uneven, but as I said to friends, so are my boobs at my age.thebra

 

 

Here’s me this morning.  The idea is to wear the decorated bra on the outside of one’s clothes.  (By the way, I’m not feeling myself up in this picture.  I was trying to show off my pink fingernails at the same time.)

We saw quite a variety of great creations!  It was really terrific to see a great turnout of people from the community, walking alongside the Overseas Highway in a spirited wave of pink!

Me in Bra

 

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Obsessive Food Chatter

You know that old statement that guys think about sex every ten seconds?  I have no idea if that’s actually true, but I’d like the people who think they figured that out to chart a similar study of how often people with eating disorders think about food.  It sure seems like I have food chatter in my head a lot.  I won’t go as far as saying that I think about food every ten seconds or every other thought, but sometimes I have entire internal conversations with myself.

This morning, for example, I decided that, even though I had a tasty, satisfying protein smoothie for breakfast, I wanted/needed/had to have a toasted bagel with butter.  Not having bagels in the house, while I continued my morning routine, I mulled over where I could stop to get that bagel on my way to work.  This went back and forth for a while, even while I was already in the car.  Then I presented the counter argument that I didn’t need the bagel, that eating it was not on my day’s food plan, that I shouldn’t give into the compulsion, etc. etc. etc.

The debate went on until I passed the last convenience store market without pulling in to buy anything.  It’s mentally exhausting sometimes to go through these mind conversations.  And that was just one for the day.

I might have a dozen more, or more than a dozen more, before I go to sleep tonight.  They aren’t really chats, more like arguments, because what’s really happening is a struggle between me and the eating disorder.  Recovery vs relapse.  Abstinence from compulsive behavior against giving in.  They aren’t all long debates like this morning’s bagel discussion, thank God, or I’d never get anything done.  Most of the time they’re fleeting thoughts of “I want” and “No, don’t do it” type duration, then I dive back into whatever I was doing.

Repeating healthy, recovery-oriented reminders helps.  I have good nutritious food that I enjoy with me ready to eat at the appropriate times.  I don’t need the other foods.  I’m stronger than my compulsive disease.  Any positive statement helps.  Those also take time and mental energy.  What I really wish is that I could simply obliterate the food compulsion chatter all together.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how so the best I can do is continue to counteract it.

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Foods Previously Untried

We had our bi-weekly delivery of organic produce arrive at work today.  My share had plums, pears, apples, bananas, spaghetti squash, grape tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, lacinato kale, yams and broccoleaf.

I’ve never heard of broccoleaf, but it’s exactly what it sounds like – the leaf of the broccoli plant.  It is touted as a superfood.  Here’s some of what  I read when I Googled it:

  • One Broccoleaf serving provides 100% of your daily value requirement for vitamin C, essential for immune health during this cold and flu season and tasty green provides more calcium than a serving of Kale.
  • BroccoLeafs are also an excellent source of vitamins A for healthy skin and vitamin D for mood and bone health.
  • Like all members of the Brassica family (cruciferous vegetables), the Broccoleaf is a powerful anti-cancer food.

Uses include throwing some in a smoothie, adding it to soup, using it for a wrap, making a sort of egg-cheese-veggie casserole or, to cut to the chase, pretty much using it any way that I might use kale or baby spinach.  I’m pretty excited to check it out tomorrow and in the days ahead.

Until a couple of years ago, I don’t think I ever knowingly ate kale.  I purposely avoided spinach, unless it was in a mayonnaise-laden dip, and would not have spent any amount of time musing other possible uses for a large, leafy green.  My how times have changed.

I was out to dinner with friends on Saturday night.  Went to a restaurant that had a lovely selection of “small plate” menu items.  I chose a dish that featured pork belly with manchego grits and fried green tomatoes.  Normally, I would not even have tasted the tomatoes.  Tomatoes and I have a strange relationship.  I really don’t like them raw — unless they’re chopped up and seasoned in salsa.  I love tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, but that’s where my affection ended.  Or so I always thought.  I looked at my plate, tasted the excellent pork and cheese grits and then thought, “Oh give it a shot.”  I cut into the tomato slice, tasted it and said, “Yum.”

Since having weight loss surgery and embarking on the whole effort to eat healthier, I’ve been more willing to try foods I previously avoided or ignored.  Some, like baby spinach, kale, and beets have greatly surprised me.  I not only like them, I look for ways to incorporate them into my eating.  Others, like any kind of fish, I’ve really tried to like, but have not been successful at cultivating any enjoyment from tasting or eating.  You win some; you lose some.

On the flip side, there are some foods that I ate all of the time, that I craved, that the smell of alone could nearly cause me to salivate.  Nowadays, I can’t stomach them.  They hold no appeal.  Any fast food restaurant hamburger, for example.

Food become sort of an adventure along the way.  I like thinking about it in constructive ways, such as how will I prepare these healthy, vegetables to make delicious dishes?  This is much better for me than the old destructive pattern of just seeing food as something that I wanted/needed/craved all of the time.

Right now I’m contemplating how I can turn the grape tomatoes and green pepper into some sort of fresh sauce to go over the spaghetti squash.  I love to search food sites and just type in potential ingredients to see what comes up.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still love a lot of less-than-healthy foods.   I can very easily binge on chocolate, cookies, okay, almost any dessert.  Sadly, I still need to work on that whole “moderation” thing.  However, I keep trying to expand my food horizon by being willing to at least try things I wouldn’t eat or try before.

How about you?  Share with us about a food that’s a recent discovery for you!

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Brain Training Games

A little more than a week ago, I signed up for Lumosity.  I figured that while I’m spending so much time and effort getting physically fit, I should also not forget to keep my brain fit, too.  Now, one would think that working a full time job and being involved in other things would be enough to keep me in good cognitive shape.  I’m sure I’m doing okay, but I have noticed that my memory isn’t always quite as sharp as it used to be a few decades ago.

So, between television ads, Facebook ads, and one of my bosses, Lumosity hit my radar.  I finally checked it out.   I won’t say I’m obsessed, but I am compelled and eager to do a mental workout every day.  Different games work different abilities – spatial memory, working memory, vocabulary function, number tasks, directional planning, and so on and so on.

The goal is to keep improving at the tasks over time.  I haven’t been doing them long enough to know whether I’m making significant progress, but I have discovered some things about myself and, in some cases, have rediscovered things about my personality.

First realization:  I am competitive, even with myself.  Now these aren’t games that you win or lose, you just keep trying to do your best and increase your score.  Still, if I don’t feel that I’ve done well enough, I immediately want to try the game again.  Now that I’ve been doing it a week, I’ve repeated some of the games, so I actually have a score in those against which to measure my performance.  If I don’t beat my previous score in one of the games, yes, I have to try it again, find a way to improve, do a better job of concentrating.  I take on the challenge.

It’s a good thing that I’m a gracious loser and a non-gloating winner when I play games against other people.

Second realization:  I definitely feel more stress on a timed game.  Oh how I hated the standardized SATs and other big tests when I was in high school.  It was difficult enough to have the pressure of needing a good score.  Having to perform well on the questions and do so in set periods of time was a double-shot of freakout-inducing stress.

I can feel myself getting clear performance anxiety on the Lumosity games that are timed!  I want to hit a pause button, take a deep breath and tell myself to snap out of it.  The games are intended to help.  It’s not like the fate of my life hangs in the balance or that I fail if I only get to a certain score.  In thees games, like in much of life, it’s progress not perfection.

Third realization: At this age, I’m able to more quickly and easily get over my own foibles.  When I was a kid, these things would eat at me.  Then I’d eat over them.

Now I look at them, take note, laugh at myself when appropriate and, like tonight, even write a blog post.  Then, tomorrow, I go back and try the mental workout again.

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Pheeling All Pharrell

I’m experiencing an abundance of happiness.  I seriously could dance around the room like a Pharrell Williams video, singing his mega-hit song.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

I plan to revel in this lightness of being all weekend long and into next week.  Joy needs to be appreciated, shared, and, whenever possible, expanded.  If you’re into being a curmudgeon or grump, you might want to avoid my company for a few days.

Truthfully, I don’t have one solid reason for feeling this way today.  It’s more like a combination of things, or perhaps a culmination.  Remember a few posts back when I talked about the beautiful meme?  In case you didn’t read it, to summarize, the meme suggested that we start each morning with the thought that it’s going to be a beautiful day.  At some point, we should stop and say, “It is a beautiful day.”  Then, before going to sleep at night, we need to look back and claim, “It was a beautiful day.”  If we do that, and store up those beautiful days, down the road we’ll be able to look back and know that we had a beautiful life.

I’ve followed that meme’s suggestions every day.  This practice has imbued me with at least some moments of peace, serenity and gratitude, whenever I pause for the beautiful acknowledgements.  I’ve also taken time to appreciate the good things that occurred — big or small.  The knee treatment plan, good phone calls with family and friends, completing some important projects at work, a better-than-expected report at the dentist,  taking a long bike ride, preparing and enjoying delicious food, even the successful dyeing of a shirt and bra (fuschia!) for the upcoming 5 K Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.  Another happy moment – exceeding my personal fundraising goal for the event!  I made plans today to spend time with friends that I haven’t seen in at least 15 years when I travel up to Jersey later this month.  Fun!

It’s like one good thing just led to another and then another until I had a cascade of happy pouring into my heart and out through my smile.

Yeah, that sounds sappy, but I don’t care.  I’m going to ride the wave and keep enjoying the feeling.

Honestly, I run into a fair number of people who thrive on complaining and appear to latch onto misery and upset.  I choose to not focus on the negatives.  I’d rather attract positive stuff.

So, picture me dancing around and acting like I’m a room without a roof.

Because I’m happy.

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Staying on the Total Care Track

Odd as it might sound, it is sometimes overwhelming to take care of ourselves the way that we need to.  Here’s my case in point.  Among the many wonderful things that I inherited from my parents, came a few not so desirable things.  I have a genetic tendency toward gum disease.  I’ve known this for 20 plus years.  Keeping my gums healthy requires dedication to care at home and visits to the dentist office four times a year for a good periodontal cleaning.

Usually, even when neglecting other aspects of my good health – like I did prior to weight loss surgery when I was super obese and oh-so-sedentary – I still kept those quarterly hygienist appointments for deep cleaning and was mostly good with my home care.   There’s no other way to put this, but somehow in the last 18 months, I spaced on the oral healthy commitment.  I went in March 2013, made next appointment, forgot the appointment until they called to remind at which point, I couldn’t make it.  Rescheduled for a month or so later, but was sick for that one.  See how the slide happens down the slippery slope?  Anyway, I forgot to reschedule right at that point.  Every once in a while I’d think, with a sharp stab of guilt, that I really needed to call and make an appointment, but I’d let it slide.

A couple of weeks ago, the office called me to ask if I’d talk to a co-worker who had questions about our company’s dental insurance plan.  Oh, and did I know it had been quite some time since I’d been in?  *gulp*  “Um, yes, it has and I’ve been meaning to call,” I sort of stammered.  We set an appointment right then.

A few days or a week later, the dentist himself called me too.  He didn’t know that I’d spoken to the office but he’d realized it had been a while since he’d seen me and wondered how I was doing.  Honestly, I feared a scolding, but he is one of the coolest dentist’s in the world.  We acknowledged that we both know that I know what I need to do to protect my gums and, ultimately, my teeth, against disease and moved on.

So, the appointment was this morning.  They x-rayed, did that poke test, thoroughly cleaned and polished and the dentist also came in and did his examination.  I feel like I dodged a dental bullet.  The results weren’t anywhere nearly as bad as I feared.  There’s room for improvement which can happen as long as I stick to the home care regime and come in for the cleanings four times a year.  You can bet that I made the appointment for my next visit before I left the office and it’s already on my calendars.

While I was stretched out in the chair, sometime between the gum poking and the final polishing, I had a realization.  We can’t pick and choose  the essential elements of our self-care.  Annual physicals, breast self-checks and mammograms for women, prostate self-checks for guys, eye exams and dental visits aren’t optional.

It doesn’t matter if I’m crazy busy at work and have more than enough extra-curricular activities to tie up my nights.  These are things for which I must make the time.  It’s not like I ever miss making or keeping my manicure and pedicure appointments.

Honestly, it’s deep on the dopey side for me to overlook any of these elements when I’m working so hard on my weight loss and overall physical fitness.  If the goal is the most healthy Mary I can be, which it is, then I need to be vigilant about the entire package.  Total Care.

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A Beautiful Day

I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet — or under my knee.  Having made the decision to get my knee medically evaluated, I went into action.  Specifically, I wanted someone who would not make surgery the first or only option — unless it really was the only option.  Friends recommended a couple of orthopedic/sports medicine specialists.  I checked each of them out online.   One in particular jumped out at me as meeting my criteria.  As an extra bonus, he trained with the specialists who treat the Philadelphia Eagles — my favorite football team.

It was meant to be.  I was fortunate enough to get an appointment today.  After some football chat, the physical exam and three x-ray views, I got the low-down.  In summary, there’s significant erosion on the medial side of my knee because of osteoarthritis.  It’s created something called a kissing lesion.  The doctor still wants me to have an MRI to check for any meniscus involvement, but he strongly believes we can take a non-surgical approach to reducing the pain I experience.  Honestly, the condition of my knee doesn’t physically prevent me from being active.  It’s the pain that interferes.  Being active is the best thing that I can do for my joints so reduction of pain and discomfort will further aid that effort.

Today he injected my knee with a novocaine-steroid mixture to reduce the chronic inflammation in the knee joint.  Tomorrow I start a six day course of oral steroid medication in diminishing doses.  In a few weeks, I’ll go for three injections of  a hyaluronic acid (HA) product over three weeks.  HA is found naturally in the body and serves to lubricate, cushion and protect the joints, but it thins out in older patients with osteoarthritis.

I’m familiar with HA products for a lot of uses.  I already use a serum morning and night as a facial hydrater.  It’s great stuff.  Now it will help my knee.  No surgery at this point.  Projected reduction in pain and increase in function.  I’m feeling pretty terrific all around.

This leads me to the topic most on my mind for tonight’s blog post.  Recently, I learned from a friend that her husband’s cancer, which he has bravely fought for a long time, is, indeed terminal.   They have a good amount of time left, but they’ve had to face reality.  Right now, she’s angry, frightened, and incredibly sad — all to be expected.  They need to find out how they’re going to go on from here as a family.  I truly hope that they are able to find a way to not let the news steal their remaining joy.  I hope they’ll live to the fullest and not get overwhelmed by the thought that he’s dying.

We didn’t have that chance with my mom.  Once she got diagnosed, things went downhill and got super complicated really fast.  We were fighting, fighting, fighting the cancer and her other conditions and it never feels like we got a break where we could live and find some joy, or at least enjoy a few days here and there.  It just sucked.

The other day, someone on Facebook shared a meme that was connected to appreciating each day and feeling gratitude.  It so resonated with me for a number of reasons, including my friend’s news.  To paraphrase, the meme suggested that if we can, we should begin each day with the thought that this will be a beautiful day.  Then, at some point we should take time to think and say, “This is a beautiful day.”  Before we go to sleep at night, we remind ourselves that it was, indeed, a beautiful day, one to be grateful for.

If we do this regularly, we will compile many, many beautiful days, and at the end, we’ll be able to look back and know that we enjoyed a beautiful life.

It’s almost the end of my day.  While I type, my leg is propped up with an ice pack on the knee, as per the doctor’s orders post-injection.

It wasn’t a perfect day by any means, but it was, definitely a beautiful one.

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About My Knee

I haven’t exercised much this week.  Starting Monday, every morning when I woke up, my right knee – the problem one –  really ached and was particularly stiff.  In Tai Chi class on Wednesday night and yesterday morning as well as whenever I practiced, that knee clicked and felt much weaker than I’m used to, which hampered my ability to balance on it one-legged for some of the moves.  I had to use a “prop” foot much more often.

A couple of days, the pain was enough that I took some o-t-c relief.  I also massaged in arnica gel a couple of times each day.

I thought about it long and logically and decided that my knee was telling me to give it some time off for good behavior.  As much as doing so kicks me into the mental stew of, “You’re being lazy.  Don’t fall out of the exercise habit.  This is wrongwrongwrong.” I focused on the wiser, less judgmental voice that said, “You’ve done a lot over the last few weeks.  If you keep pushing you could really injure yourself and that will suck even more.”

So, except for shorter walks with the dogs a couple of times a day and the Tai Chi, I took it easy.  (Sadly, it’s been too windy to go for long bike rides.)  I didn’t hit the cardio work with the squats, jogging in place and other impact moves.  Today, Sunday, is the best that my knee has felt all week.  This indicates that I made the right decision.

The fact that I experienced this week at all really made me think about the knee overall.  I’ve come to believe that it’s time for me to have it professionally evaluated by a doctor.  My boss/friend suggested I consult the town acupuncturist, which could be a treatment option.  I’m open to alternative therapies.  However, I think I really ought to have it examined by a medical expert first.  I honestly don’t know if the problem is from arthritis, lack of cartilage, a combination of problems, or something else all together.

I don’t think the problem is serious enough to warrant surgery, but that’s my uninformed, not-grounded-in-medical-knowledge guess.  I honestly don’t know.   Maybe the answer is as simple as some physical therapy, or a brace for added support.  Maybe the problem is something more serious.  The maybes are endless.  The only thing for sure is that I won’t know until it’s checked.

I discussed this with my sister-in-law who is a nurse practitioner.  She agrees that it’s time to get it looked at.

In the meantime, I don’t believe that I need to give up exercise, but I need to be more careful about the level of impact in the exercising that I do.  Perhaps I also need to maintain balance and not overload myself with too much in too short a period of time.  I have another 5K walk coming up in a couple of weeks, which should be fine, as long as I don’t overdo it in the days right before and right after.  Some mindful moderation is in order, I believe.

This is another way to take care of myself.  Rather than ignore the problem and soldiering through, taking extra care now will, hopefully, prevent a serious injury down the line.

 

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