Weighty Matters

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Conversation Comparison

This is what a conversation in my head sounds like when I’m in disease and obsessed with food:

(While driving home from work.)  “What do I have to eat for dinner? Do I have anything in the house to eat?  What am I hungry for?  I could stop for take out from that new Mediterranean place.  Gyro.  Spanikopita.  Baklava! Oh, wait.  I have leftover spaghetti squash with tomato meat sauce and fresh ricotta.  I should eat that.  Healthy.  But it’s Italian.  I should have bread.  I haven’t had any.  Did I eat other carbs today?  I need bread.  I don’t have any bread in the house.  I’ll top and get some.  Crusty chewy Italian bread.  (Begin imagining myself tearing off a thick hunk from the loaf and slathering it with soft butter.)  Dessert.  Do I have dessert?  Lots of fresh fruit.  But I want chocolate.  I can practically taste chocolate.  I must have some chocolate.  Cookies?  No, maybe ice cream.  Ohh, that gelato!”

This is not a work of fiction.  I had this conversation earlier today in between work and the acupuncturist’s office. Exhausting, not to mention damaging.  From one thought to the next, I can totally veer off of my healthy food plan and fall into compulsion.   Plus, that’s just one conversation.  In the course of a day, when I’m in full compulsive eating disorder mode, I have those internal chats frequently throughout the day.  They build on themselves like a snowball rolling down hill gathers more snow and more snow, getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  The more momentum the compulsion gets, the less resistance I have and the more likely I am to go from trigger point to the actual act of eating or overeating.

As I said in the previous post, I saw some real easing of compulsive thought in the past week, but I won’t pretend for a nanosecond that a single acupuncture session can fix me.  Nothing will ever fix me.  It can hopefully be an effective weapon in my anti-disease arsenal, however.  So, I pulled into the acupuncturist’s office, which distracted me from the obsessive food chatter in my head.  We talked for a few minutes.  I recapped everything that I’d felt/experienced in the last week post-the initial session.  Then I stretched out on the table while she inserted the needles to help continue the heel and tendon healing, reduce knee pain, and work with my cravings and compulsions.  I relaxed into the treatment, breathing and being mindful and present in my body and mind.

She’d told me to be aware if I felt anything in my body during treatment like twinges, aches, pains or anything.  Those could signify blocks releasing and opening up to let the internal energy flow.  About mid-way through, my knees began to warm and my flesh felt a little like it was experiencing a low modulating vibration.  It was comfortable and lovely, actually, so I continued to relax and enjoy.  A short time later, the needles in my right ear which are for the food cravings and weight issues started to hurt a little.  It was not the same pleasant sensation, but I remembered not to constrict and fight it.  I breathed deeply and expanded into the feeling.  Before long, the discomfort faded away.  I also felt a little pricking feeling in my left foot, right in the area where the doctor inserted the needle at last week’s plasma injection in order to treat the tendon.  It felt like it had a needle in it, but I didn’t remember the acupuncturist inserting one at that spot.  More breathing, expanding, noting.

When the practitioner returned, I told her about all that I’d felt.  No, she hadn’t put a needle in my left foot at that spot.  It was a sign that the healing energy was getting to the necessary spot.  All of the signs were promising.

When my session was done, I walked next door to my manicure appointment.  I was decidedly more mellow and relaxed.  My nail tech friend and I had a nice chat while she did my nails.  A co-worker dropped in to say hello after finishing her acupuncture session.  It was fun.

I got in my car and had this conversation with myself on my way down the highway:

“Oh right.  I still need to fix dinner when I get home.  I was going to stop for that Italian bread.”  (Pause.)

(Pause)  “I like this song that’s playing.”


“I don’t really want that bread.  I’ll just go home and have that spaghetti squash.  Don’t need that chocolate either.  I have all that fruit.”

Definitely less obsessed with food and a whole lot less compulsive.  This is what it’s like for me when I’m in a good place, when I have time between the inciting/trigger thought and the actual action of eating.

I can’t quite bring myself to 100% believe that the acupuncture treatment has this capability, but I am definitely optimistic about it.


Calmer and Less Compulsive

Behind me, in the kitchen, the pressure cooker is blowing its steamy, rhythmic whistle.  Inside is a stuffed artichoke that will be my dinner.  Do you like artichokes?  I love them.  My favorite preparation is to do a little mix of bread crumbs, garlic powder and grated parmesan and then spoon a little into the base of each leaf.  I think cook it in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes and take out a tender creation.  Leaf by leaf, I pluck it and scrape the veggie to the bottom.  Yum!

I’m a big fan of using the pressure cooker.  It cuts off so much cooking time for a variety of things.  Usually it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to steam or boil a whole artichoke.  15 minutes in the pressure cooker.  I’ve done stuffed pork chops that come out moist and tender also in 15 minutes — a third of the time.  Last week I cooked beets.  I’ve done short ribs that fell off the bone.  This method of cooking also packs in the moisture so foods don’t get dry and tough.

Anyway, if you’ve cooked in a pressure cooker and have a recipe to share, I’d love to read it!

On to the blog post topic.  Tomorrow is a week since I had the acupuncture treatment.  My next one is tomorrow.  I’ve been out of the boot since Sunday and my followup appointment with the foot doc is also tomorrow.  I can happily report that I have experienced tremendous reduction in pain in my left heel and tendon.  So the combination of the plasma rich platelet therapy and the acupuncture is definitely working.  I’m adding in the effects of acupuncture, even if I only had one treatment, because I also was treated for pain in my right knee and, wow, has there been a big, noticeable difference!  So, I’m definitely a believer in the effectiveness of acupuncture!

You probably recall that I also spoke to the practitioner about my eating disorder.  I cannot claim that the treatment has completely removed the compulsion this week, but there has definitely been improvement here, too.  I am not obsessing so much about food.  Food and eating are not constantly on my mind.  I’m able to put some distance between a trigger and action which give me a chance to not act on the trigger and eat.

Perfect?  No.  Much better?  Yes, for sure.  Overall, these improvements lead to me being much calmer about myself and my disease which is also greatly beneficial.  It makes me feel better and healthier overall when I don’t feel like the disease is controlling me or that I’m locked into a downward spiral of eating-eating-eating.   It’s not a miracle and I don’t expect a total fix.  However, if the acupuncture treatments continue to help, it gives me peace and the ability to follow the healthy food plan; the healthy course of action.


Emotional or Physical Damage – Which is Worse?

The physical and emotional damage of having an eating disorder are both horrible.  They’re also tightly connected and the effects of one have a strong impact on the other.

Earlier today, I was on the phone with someone I’ve known since I was in college.  She too has battled an eating disorder for most of her life.  While I don’t see or talk to her often, when we do we know that each of us “gets” it.  We were catching up with each other today.  Her husband is battling cancer.  As his wife, helper, chief support system, she’s working very hard to keep herself on track too.  “I have too,” she said.  “If I get into the food, I can’t be present for him, for anybody.”

I talked about how I’ve been struggling with the compulsion but am in there fighting.  I shared the insight I had a few weeks ago about how when I first got down to this weight I was delighted and excited.  Now that I’m at this number because I gained some weight, I’m not happy about it.

She said that the self-hatred we experience when we’re in our disease is the worst aspect of having an eating disorder.  I agree.  Most people might eat too much ice cream, cake or potato chips and feel the physical discomfort of being too full or bloated or queasy.  Those of us with an eating disorder feel those things — with a heaping helping of self-directed anger, loathing, dismay, and sadness piled on top.

Then, all of those emotions erode our confidence and make us feel so terrible that we want to medicate and anesthetize the feelings.  Our drug of choice is food and the destructive ways in which we eat.  We rip into ourselves, call ourselves horrible things and treat ourselves with so little love and kindness.  Overeating or compulsive eating, combined with the emotional backlash really results in a harsh form of self-abuse.

It goes without saying that if we are stuck in this behavior for long periods of time, we create physical damage.  Pounds pack on.  We become obese and can trigger numerous co-morbidities.  Over time, carting around excess weight strains our body, damages our joints, stresses our organs, creates conditions that shorten our life-expectancy.

Right now, I’m still overweight, but far less so than before I had surgery.  I don’t have the co-morbidities of Type II diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure any more.  I’m more physically fit.  So, in truth, the physical effects of my eating disorder are less prevalent.  For now.  I am ever conscious that I can lose this state of grace.

Overall, I am much more damaged emotionally by the current struggle.  When I feel bad about myself, I want to eat more to bury the feelings.  That just makes everything even worse.  So, while I continue to work on refraining from eating compulsively, I also consciously focus attention on what I think and feel about myself.  Equal attention to both these aspects of my disease are the only way in which I can recover.

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Speak Your Truth

Every night for the last several nights I’ve said to myself that I wanted to write a blog post.  Then I’d get involved in something else for a few minutes, sit on the couch and end up nodding off.  Sorry about that.  I guess I’ve needed extra rest.

So tonight right after dinner I turned on the computer and resolved to write before I got involved in anything else!  My thoughts are revolving around the truism that we are only as sick as our secrets.  To that I say, yes, speak your truth.

I believe that we are more likely to talk about surface problems.  The run of the mill things that are more commonplace.  We’re more comfortable when we have an issue that we know is shared by many.  Other things — like in my case an eating disorder — we hold tightly within ourselves.  Perhaps we feel ashamed, or maybe we fear that people will think less of us if we “confess” that we have whatever deeper problem affects us.  Fear, shame, confusion, whatever the reason, we hide the truth within ourselves.  When we bury stuff deep inside, it can’t be brought out into the light.

If we don’t bring it up and talk about it; if we resist sharing these truths; we are left to suffer, and suffer alone.

The first night that I went to an OA meeting and said, “Hi, I’m Mary.  I’m a compulsive overeater, or binge eater, or something” turned out to be one of the most liberating, joyful nights ever.  I spoke my truth, kicked it out of the closet, and opened myself up to getting help.

Now, I don’t advocate sharing our selves with every single person in our respective universes.   It’s important to find the safe circle, to look for people who will understand.  If they don’t understand, at least it’s good if they are willing to listen without judgment.  The point is that staying silent and not going outside of ourselves to seek help, only keeps us locked in the affliction.

I was thinking about this again this week as I prepared for my first acupuncture appointment.  A good friend who has used acupuncture treatment for a variety of things was the one who first suggested I go for a referral about my heel/plantar’s fasciitis and my ongoing knee pain.  Even though I’ve seen doctors for both conditions, she reasoned that acupuncture could be a tremendous asset to the healing process and enhance my conditions, if not resolve them.

For many years, I’ve been open and interested in the body’s chi — our own internal energy.  I’ve seen mine develop and help through the practice of Tai Chi.  I know how effectively my massage therapist works with my energy to help during sessions.  So, I was definitely open minded about trying acupuncture.

My personality is such that I always want to do things right.  That includes any kind of medical examination.  You know when you go for an eye exam and the doctor is figuring out your vision numbers, he/she does a process of flipping between two options and asking which is better, option 1 or option 2?  Ever since I was a kid, that part of the exam has stressed me out.  I am so worried that I’ll pick the wrong answer.  Yes, the rational, adult part of my brain knows that there isn’t a wrong answer, but I never claimed to always think rationally!  (You want to see test-stress?  You should have seen me the days leading up to SAT day in high school.)

Anyway, knowing that I wanted to make the most of my acupuncture appointment (Doesn’t that sound better than do my appointment right?), I asked my friend if there was anything that I should do to prepare.  She advised me to review the physical issues I was experiencing so that I wouldn’t forget.  I asked her if she’d ever talked to the practitioner about the auricular acupuncture that’s reputed to be good for stress relief, quitting smoking, weight loss and other things.  She hasn’t but she said I should bring it up if I felt comfortable.

I thought about it and thought about it and decided that I was going to include it in the consultation conversation and speak my truth.  I’m a compulsive overeater/binge eater.  I’m having difficulty right now in abstaining from compulsive eating which means that, even if I’m not eating huge quantities, I am still eating compulsively and not sticking to my healthy choices.

So, plantar fasciitis, osteoarthritis-related knee pain, compulsive eating.  Check, check and check.

The practitioner and I had a great initial conversation about everything.  We then went into the treatment room for the first session.  I really liked her thoroughness, her manner, and her holistic approach.  She explained why the needles were being placed where they were.  She told me that after they were inserted, at some point during the session I might start to feel strange sensations, twinges, or some pains in various parts of my body as the areas where the energy was blocked began to open up.  When that happened, I should note it in my head, take some deep breaths and try to expand into the feeling rather than tense up and constrict if it was a little uncomfortable.

After encouraging me to relax, even fall asleep if I wanted, she left the room while the needles did their thing.  I know I fell asleep for part of the time period, but for most of it I was awake and relaxed.  I’m not sure how long into the session I’d gone before I started to feel a few things, but at no time was I uncomfortable.  Mostly I began to experience sort of a warming vibration… almost like my internal energy really was waking up and flowing better.  Different sensation but not unpleasant in the least.

When the session was over and she returned to remove the needles, I immediately noticed a reduction of pain in my right knee.  I think that was the most dramatic difference at the outset.  My left heel feels pretty much pain-free too, but it’s been improving over the days and the boot stabilization and cushioning assists with that too.  I think the real test for that part of my body will be this weekend when I can give up the boot for a few days and just walk around in sneakers.

I came home and ate the sensible dinner that I’d planned and I haven’t eaten anything compulsively since.  That could be me, or me enhanced by the treatment.  It’s too soon to tell, but you can bet that I’m paying attention and taking notes.

Taking notes is something that she asked me to do.  She wants to know what I experience and how I feel between now and the next treatment next Thursday.  It’s important to know not only in the first few days immediately following the acupuncture, but also, even more so, in the 4th-6th days after.  That will help her see how my body holds the positive effects over time.

Even though I don’t know at this point what the benefits – short term and long term – may be, I am so glad that I decided to speak my truth about my eating disorder and struggles.  If having acupuncture doesn’t help, it doesn’t help.  However, not bringing it up and not seeking treatment would mean that I never even gave it a chance.

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Taking Care

It is much easier for me to take care of other people than it is to take care of myself, or to let others help me take care.  I’m learning.  Okay, at least I’m trying to teach myself.  The whole boot experience is a good teaching aid.  Since it is physically more awkward for me to get around, it sort of forces me to not overdo.

Since I never asked the doctor why the boot is necessary, I’ve assumed it’s to stabilize and cushion the foot while the healing process progresses.  It could be all that and also the whole awkward-can’t-overdo thing too.

Today for example, I opted out of a lawn party benefit for a local shelter.  I wanted to go and then thought practically about the fact that there wasn’t going to be a lot of seating.  Knowing that, I assessed how I’d feel about standing for an hour at the minimum.  I didn’t feel too enthusiastic because I’ve discovered that standing for more than a few minutes gets uncomfortable.    Weighing everything I realized that if I really wanted to take care of myself during this time, I should stay home and limit my activities to things around the house.

I’d like to always be good about taking care of myself.   How many times have I circled around to this before?  Self-care is so hard to perform and maintain.

I do better externally.  I have manicures and pedicures.  My hair appointments are scheduled like clockwork.  I usually remember to get a facial every couple of months.  Lately, I’ve gotten massage therapy more regularly too.  Hey, it only took me a couple of months before I went to the doctor about the plantar fasciitis. 😉

Unfortunately, the truly good self-care when it comes to my food plan and eating is not nearly as consistent as my manicures. I’ve improved when it comes to the quality of my food, but that whole compulsive behavior continues to be a tough challenge.  I’m not sure what need I’m feeding when I compulse, what owie think I’m taking care of.  Puzzling.  Upsetting. Annoying.

Tomorrow, all I can do is get up with do my best.  Resolve to be abstinent.  Take care of myself in ways that truly do represent actually taking care of myself.

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Shuffling On

I made it through my first boot experience.  I was able to stop wearing it on Sunday and have been in running shoes for the last few days. I am cautiously pleased and optimistic that the treatment is working and my foot is healing.  I’ve had significantly less pain than I was experiencing before the treatment.  This means that every step does not feel like I’m driving a hot spike through my heel.

I go for the second treatment in about an hour, then ten days again in the boot.  Hopefully then all will be well and I can get back to more activity!

I’m still struggling with the eating disorder, which sucks.  I am, however, determined to keep fighting.

How’s everybody else?


Perspective and a Question

I’ve been wearing the boot for almost a week.  I am cautiously optimistic that the platelet treatment has done some good and healing is progressing.  The boot itself is awkward and walking is somewhat uncomfortable.  I’m off-kilter because the booted foot and my other foot are uneven in height.  So walking, particularly going up or down stairs, twists my back and strains my hips.  Plus it feels like there is now more pressure on my right knee, which is the one that already has the bad arthritis.  I’m waiting for a device to arrive that I can strap onto my right sneaker that will elevate that foot 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch which should balance me out and alleviate some of those issues.

All things considered, it could be worse.  Awkward and uncomfortable are not as bad as burning pain, which is what i experienced before the treatment.  Still, every once in a while this past week I’ve found myself slipping in whine-mode and I have to stop and give myself a reality check.  I think of the dozens of military veterans I’ve met over the last several years who have returned from active duty with devastating injuries.  For the rest of their lives they will function with prosthetic legs or arms, or legs and arms.

I’m in a boot for a couple of weeks, with a break in between those weeks.  When tempted to whine, I need to suck it up.

So, that’s the perspective part of this blog post, now on to the question.  Have any of you ever used acupuncture as a treatment?  It’s been suggested to me by several people whose opinions I trust and value, including my sister-in-law who is a nurse practitioner.  We have an excellent acupuncturist in town. I called for a consultation but she’s on vacation this week.  I’m curious to hear from anyone who has undergone this form of therapy, including what you had treated and what you thought about the experience.  (If you’re comfortable and willing to share, of course.)  Thanks in advance!


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Boot Scootin’

I couldn’t stand the pain in my left foot anymore.  More to the point, I couldn’t stand that what I was doing wasn’t providing relief from the pain in my left foot.  I had two days of a media shoot at work which required me to be on my feet a lot.  Thankfully, the foot specialist prescribed me a great anti-inflammatory that I only needed to take once a day and that would be easier on my stomach.  I did my best to sit down whenever possible during the shooting days, but even so, by each afternoon, every step on my left foot felt akin to stepping on a hot coal.

I’d decided to go ahead with the recommended treatment of plasma rich therapy injections.  Apparently my health insurance plan is with one of the only companies that covers this therapy.  ****Mini-Rant**** I really like my doctor and, in person, his office staff is friendly, warm and competent.  However, I had a little bit of a problem communicating with them about the need to make sure that they contacted my insurance company and got pre-authorization for the procedure so that, indeed, it would be covered.  Should not have taken me five phone calls. ****Rant Over****

Anyway, I survived the two day shoot and drove up to the doctor first thing on Friday for the prp.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this therapy, I’m happy to describe.  Hopefully this isn’t too much detail if any of you are squeamish.  Remember that my diagnosis is acute tendonitis of the Achilles tendon and plantars fasciitis.  There are some slight tears both that tendon and the fascia.  Those tears were the focus and the intent is that this therapy will accelerate/concentrate the growth response/healing process.

First the doctor took a sizable tube of blood from me to spin in a centrifuge.  This would concentrate the plasma and platelets.  (Hence the “plasma rich” part.)  While my blood was spinning, the assistant swabbed my foot with iodine.  The doctor numbed my skin with a cold spray and then injected me with a numbing agent in three spots.  Honestly,I think those injections hurt the most and, even then, they weren’t so bad.  He purposely irritated the sites a little while he was in there which also stimulates the body’s triggers to heal.  Except for the one time he hit a nerve, I didn’t even flinch.  After a few minutes while the numbing agent did its job, the doctor then injected my platelets back  into my body in those areas.  Even including the 15 minutes needed to spin the blood, the whole thing took less than half an hour.

The very nice assistant cleaned up my foot, put on bandaids, and then brought in the boot.  Call me shallow, but for me, this is the most annoying thing.  I have to wear a boot for ten days to protect and stabilize my foot while my body, with its juiced up platelets, works on healing my trouble spots.

Have you ever had a foot injury that made it necessary for you to wear a boot?  It was really weird when I first tried to walk.  I wobbled sort of like a drunken sailor who couldn’t find her sea legs.  Once I got the hang of it I did fine.  It’s just a little awkward to adapt my walking to this thick soled, padded, black boot, but I managed.

Gratitude note: Thank goodness, the problem is my left foot and I drive a car with automatic transmission.  The boot does not interfere with my driving one bit.

Once I got home, I took it easy for the rest of the day.  By the afternoon, when all of the numbing had completely worn off, my foot was a little sore at the injection sites so I broke down and took one of the prescribed pain pills.  I managed a semi-active day yesterday — including climbing into a friend’s convertible and boosting myself up as we rode in the 4th of July Parade, supporting a friend who is running for City Council.  While she walked the route greeting parade watchers and handing out fans, we threw candy to kids, waved, and sang along to patriotic music.  I then went up to see friends who’d come into town for the weekend.  I need to be careful over uneven ground and I don’t speed walk, but I do okay.

The hardest part is going up or down stairs.  I make a point of grabbing onto rails or other means of support, just to be sure.

Gratitude note #2: I don’t have to wear the boot when I’m in bed!

So, for the next several days, the boot is my chief accessory.  Basic black, goes with everything!  I then get a break from it for a few days before I repeat the treatment and the boot time.

I know that things can’t possibly heal so fast, so I’m sure it has more to do with the protection and support provided by the boot and, perhaps, the lingering effects of some internal numbing, but I noticed today that I am not suffering that horrible heel pain that has been a constant in my life for the last couple of months.  I’m crossing my fingers that I am finally on the road to recovery!

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