Weighty Matters

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Searching for Focus

I’m having the devil of a time staying focused today.  I don’t feel like I stayed on task or could maintain much concentration at work.  Luckily, I did not have multiple projects on deadline today.

That said, this morning I was able to zero in on a killer workout.  So, I’ll give myself some points in that department.

Overall, I’ve done pretty good on my food plan for the last three days.  I’ve given myself permission to switch meal choices during the day a couple of times, but have not given in to compulsively eating stuff at times other than my usual three snacks/three meals.  I’ve also been exercising.  In addition to rowing/strength class Monday and today, I also got Natty out for at least one 30 minute walk each day.  I’d like to try for two on days that I don’t row, but the weather has not cooperated with that plan.  I also rode my bike up to the store yesterday as a little extra exercise.

One foot in front of the other, searching for each day to be a little better or easier than the day before.   Natty and I cuddle a lot at home which is, I believe, good for both of us.

This post could go longer, but that lack of focus thing is coming into play.  Rather than force myself and break into typed-babble, I’ll end.  Before I do, thank you again for all of your kind words and support.  I appreciate all of you very much.

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Turning a Corner

Warning.  I’m blue and down on myself.  Understandable, considering Friday.  This is compounded by not having been pristine on my food plan.  Yes, I’m still cutting myself some slack, but falling off the wagon affects me emotionally as well as physically.

At some point over the weekend, I was mulling over things and suddenly thought, “You know, the last five months have had a lot of suck in them.”  In early May I had the car accident.  Soon after that, the plantar fasciitis got really severe and I started getting treated.  Then I get that handled and my dogs get sick.  (Natty had a battle with a persistent ear infection while Pyxi had the bladder infection.) In the middle of all this, we discover that one of my boat engines is blown and can’t be repaired so I have to start the process of arranging finances to buy a new one.   Pyxi gets worse, can’t recover, and we have to say goodbye.

Through it all I was also in a pretty significant relapse into my eating disorder and food addiction.  Add it all up, and yes, it weighs more heavily on the suckitude side.

I don’t like to wallow.  When I wallow, I get more mired into food and inappropriate eating.  I start to not want to get my ass off of my couch and move.  My whole attitude drags down and that affects my spirit.

So, I’m working on lifting myself up.  It’s okay for me to still be sad about Pyxi.  Grief has its own timetable, but I have to keep moving.  Not only do I need it, but so does Natty.  I think he put on the weight that his sister lost.  He is definitely more pudgy than he should be.  Yes, I’ve embraced the rowing classes and I am not going to let myself make excuses to not go.  I’ve booked my three classes for the week already.  My food wasn’t great this weekend, but I can climb back up onto the wagon and eat right again.  Back to the basics — pre-planning my meals, logging my food, working program, reaching out to the support groups.

I’m also getting in touch with my gratitude.  No matter how bleak or upset or towered I feel, there are always reasons to be grateful.  I think I mentioned a long time ago that when my mother was dying, before I went to bed each night I would think of five things for which to be grateful.  Sometimes I really had to dig and search but I’d find five things.  I can’t explain why doing this helped me, but it did.  It got me through.

So, for today, here are five things for which I am grateful:

  • Nat.  He is a warm, fluffy, hug-me-Mommy, cuddle-pup and this comforts me.  We have each other.
  • The overwhelming love and support shown to me by friends, family, co-workers, blog readers, just everyone.
  • The willingness, opportunity, and physical ability to work out or take walks.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles won today!
  • The knowledge that no matter how badly I think I screwed up with my eating this weekend, returning to recovery is as close and simple as the next choice.  I can get back up on that wagon and I will.

 

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Saying Goodbye and Cutting Myself Some Slack

With deep sadness, Nat and I said goodbye to Pyxi this morning.  I knew in my heart yesterday that there was no more that we could do for her to help her condition turn around.  She was refusing food and water, getting weaker, and her little damaged kidneys were progressively losing ability to function.  It has always been my position that when a beloved dog reached such a point, I would not force them to hang on because I couldn’t suck it up and say goodbye.

I consulted with both of her veterinarians.  We all agreed that no more could be done to make her well and decided to help her go peacefully before she worsened and began to suffer.  I’d read somewhere that it was helpful to the companion dog if he/she saw the other dog’s body after death.  I didn’t want to leave with Pyxi, return without her, and have him go around looking for her and wondering where she was.  Our primary vet and staff were wonderful. We made her comfortable, kept stroking her, and she went peacefully and quickly.  She was ready.

Obviously, I am incredibly sad.  I took the day off from work so Nat and I could just have quiet time at home and I would not require any more of myself than I could emotionally give.  The outpouring of love and support in the form of condolence comments, text messages, and phone calls from friends and family has been amazing.

Last night, knowing what was coming was difficult and I worked on accepting what I couldn’t change and reaching for serenity.  I have to admit that I veered from my food plan somewhat.  My emotions were in waves… sadness would well up, crest with tears, and then recede to a sort of numbness.  Looking back on the hours, in those numb moments, it felt like I was incapable of mindfulness.  So that’s when I would eat off my plan.  I ate the rest of a sweet potato that I had originally cooked, hoping to tempt Pyxi’s appetite.  A little while later, I thought some sort of protein would be good, so I spread some of my home made ricotta on a piece of whole wheat toast.  About an hour after that, I wondered if maybe Pyxi would nibble on even a tiny piece of bacon.  (Bacon was a favorite treat.  I don’t feed my dogs much “people” food, or any food that is very fatty.  But when I cook a little bacon, I give each a couple of bites, knowing that the small bits wouldn’t hurt.)  So, I cooked a couple of pieces, but Pyxi wasn’t interested.  So I gave Nat half a slice, and ate the other slice and a half.  It was tough for me to make the move to go to bed.  I think this is because I knew it was our last night.  I moved between sitting on the couch with her on my lap and stretching out on the floor next to the dog bed that she favored, just stroking her head.  Since I was still up, I crunched a couple of small handfuls of cocoa-dusted almonds.

So… half a sweet potato; piece of whole wheat toast with ricotta; slice and a half of bacon; a couple handfuls of almonds.  That my friends, constituted a binge for me last night.  On a bright spot, although I thought about doing it at least a dozen times, I did not get in the car and drive to the corner store for ice cream and candy.  I had flashes of wanting to, but I discovered that taking off my bra when I got home was a good deterrent.  I was too tired to redress myself and there was no way on this green planet that I would go braless – even while grieving, even just to the convenience store.

I’ve been sharing with friends about my previous realization that not stuffing my emotions with excess food is a big part of the reason why I’ve been so emotionally wrecked and not coping as well with her illness as I feel I usually do with crises.  I talked about this some more with a couple of friends who called to check on me.  One told me that while I think I’ve been a mess, from what anybody else saw I was doing a darned good job of caring for Pyxi regardless.  So, all in all, I was still coping.  Another good friend, after hearing me talk a little glumly about not sticking to my plan and using food last night, listened to my list of food and said, “Oh yeah.  Like that’s a bad fall off of the wagon.”

Her words and tone, with the smile in her voice, caught my attention and I got the point that she didn’t say which was, I surmised, “Give yourself a break.”

Both of these conversations were reminders to not beat myself up because I don’t deserve it, and to keep things in perspective.   Indeed, to give myself a break.  So that’s what I’m doing.

Nat and I are going to snuggle on the couch and take a little nap.   I have an evening rowing class scheduled.  Right now, I believe I’m going to keep the appointment.  The workout will feel good.  If it doesn’t feel right to me when the time comes, I can always change my mind and won’t beat myself up about it if I do.   It’s a rough, upsetting day.  I deserve to treat myself with kindness and consideration, no matter what.

Thank you all for being here for me during these difficult times.  Your comments and support have helped.

Rest in peace, my sweet, special, feisty, Pyxi-girl.  Nat and I love and miss you, but we are grateful that you are at ease.

Pyxi Apr 7, 2007 - Sept 25, 2015  Love you,  baby girl.

Pyxi
Apr 7, 2007 – Sept 25, 2015 Love you, baby girl.

 

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Truly Feeling the Emotions

Pyxi and I are plugging along.  You know, I feel like I should apologize for currently turning this into a blog about my seriously ill dog, but then again, it’s my blog.  This is what’s going on in my life and it’s what I’m dealing with so I guess everything is related.

Anyway, we’re going day by day.  Some days she seems to be a little better; some days a little worse.  Some times holding steady.  It doesn’t escape my notice that, like my program, we’re taking her illness one day at a time.

I will be honest and tell you that I am preparing myself to have to make the ultimate, difficult decision.  I love my dogs very much.  Part of that means that I will never force one to suffer because I cannot suck it up, say goodbye, and let them go with love.

This is not the first time that I’ve dealt with a beloved dog nearing the end of life.  I have been in this place before.  Heck, it’s not just pets.  My mother was very ill before she died.  I was her primary caregiver, which her pretty much 24/7 for several months.  With her wishes known, my brother and I held her medical power of attorney and were trusted by her to act on her behalf when she couldn’t.  There came a time when we knew that there was nothing medically that could be done to prolong Mom’s life.  With the help of hospice and support of family, we could prepare her and help her approach her death without pain, in the comfort and familiarity of home, surrounded by the people who love her.

So, this is not a new situation, but I have to say that I feel like I am an emotional wreck.  I do my best to keep a positive, upbeat and good energy demeanor when caring for Pyxi.  When I’m away from her and think about how she isn’t gaining ground and I could be on the verge of having to say goodbye to her, I dissolve into a crying, grieving mess.  It’s hard for me to discuss her condition with friends and family without falling apart.  Just typing it here started the waterworks again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to say that I’m usually an unfeeling, repressed person.  Far from it.  I have big emotions.  I’m passionate and expressive in my joy, enthusiasm, anger.  But, I think I’ve learned to be appropriately expressive and balanced.  Right now, I’m completely out of whack.  If I usually navigate on a mostly even keel, right now I feel like my upset is a rogue wave swamping and threatening to capsize me.

Yet, except for a couple small deviations, I’m handling the crisis without relapsing into full scale binge eating or compulsive overeating.  I’m working program, pre-planning and eating to plan, logging my food/water/exercise, and working out.  That’s all good.

I believe it’s also why my emotions are roiling so dramatically.  Stuffing great quantities of food into one’s body is one way to also stuff down emotions.  When I overeat or eat off plan, I am counteracting my feelings – negative and positive.  Food as anesthesia.  Sooo, because I’m not using food to suppress the anxiety, worry and grief, they are going to town.

With everything that’s going on, I didn’t make the connection before now.  You’d think I’d have realized it right off, but, hell, I have a lot weighing on my mind and heart.  Now I know.  I’m conscious of it, so I need to work on maintaining better balance.  I’m not saying it isn’t okay to be sad and worried.  These are normal.  I do, however, have to keep them from throwing me so out of whack that I can’t function physically and emotionally.

I need to experience the emotions and still be able to think, work, breathe, and take care of Pyxi, her brother Nat, and myself.  We are all relying on me to do so.  If the time comes that I need to consider the decision for Pyxi, I need to be able to process the facts and reality and do what is best for her.  In the aftermath, I then need to be able to continue to care for myself and Nat without sinking into relapse.

How do I do this?  I keep reaching for program and the tools with which I am so familiar.  They are always present as long as I pick them up.  I need to continue to take care of myself by following my food plan, going to my workouts, getting acupuncture, arranging for massages or other treatments.  Not shorting myself of sleep.  These things are all important to preserving my recovery and staying healthy.

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Recognizing the Changes

Pyxi had an up and down weekend.  Yesterday, although she ate a couple of times during the day, she couldn’t keep it down, seemed very weak and was not at all perky.  Honestly, last night I was afraid she was going to die.  This morning, I texted our friend/vet and he met us at the clinic to administer more sub-cutaneous fluids and some anti-nausea medication.  He prepared me that she’d probably be very sedate today from the meds, which she was.  However, she also ate three small meals throughout the day and has kept it all down!  She is still turning up her cute little nose at the carbs, but as long as she eats anything and retains it, that’s something.  We’re testing her blood again tomorrow and, hopefully, her numbers will have improved.  Fingers and paws crossed!  We can consider an appetite booster which might make her more interested in a greater variety of food items or, that might happen without help if she starts to feel better.

I had a little bit of an up and down weekend with my food and, at times, I thought I was a whole lot worse than I truly was.  Thankfully, I’ve continued to log my food in my digital food diary so I can go back, read, and truly analyze my intake rationally.  This is so important because when I don’t look at things with logic and rationale, but instead view it through the distorted lens of my eating disorder, my perspective goes all screwy.

Even with Pyxi sick, I know she’s okay if I leave for an hour or two.  I don’t go for long stretches of time, so I get back to coax her with food, check if she needs anything, and so on.  I went to rowing class yesterday morning.  I had a facial mid-day.  I went to dinner last night with a friend.   These all fit under the heading of taking care of myself so that I can continue to take good care of her.

I didn’t pre-plan my exact foods for dinner.  Instead, I logged it in the morning as “reasonable dinner”.  We went to a local restaurant that I really like and I ordered food that I really like – including the brussel sprouts “chips” appetizer that I love.  We split it and brought at least half of it away in a box.  Same thing with my entree — at least half of it came home with me and will be dinner tomorrow.  They asked if we wanted dessert and I made the conscious choice to share some of that too.  A few bites were totally yummy and satisfying — and saying yes to myself actually helped emotionally.  If I’d denied myself the treat, I would have experienced resentment, grumpiness, and, most likely self-pity.  All of those could have led to me coming home and binge eating on something.

Of course, even though I completely ate reasonably and did not overeat, I still experienced several moments where I felt like I’d done poorly.  Such is the nature of my disease.  I came home and started to beat myself up and then called a halt to the negative mind-trend.  Instead I reminded myself how I’ve been taking good care of myself; how I’m being rational about my food, how I worked so hard in the morning rowing class.  I’m convinced that doing these reminders kept me from eating compulsively last night after I got home.  Being able to stop myself from disintegrating into disease behavior is a positive change.  I need to recognize these changes when they occur.  Doing so helps them take root and provide a stronger foundation for the future.

I recognized another positive change a little later in the day.  After getting back from the vet and spending a little time decompressing by reading a book while Pyxi rested, I decided to go into the pool and exercise.  I went into the bathroom to change into my swimsuit.  When I took off my shirt and started to remove my bra, I glanced in the mirror.  In that moment, I saw where the rowing classes have begun to cause some changes in my body.  There are hints of better definition in my shoulders that weren’t there before.  My waist looks a little smaller.  I nodded at myself in the mirror and smiled.  Then I put on my bathing suit, went to the pool, turned on some music and exercised for 30 or 40 minutes.

Seeing some physical improvement is such good positive reinforcement.  I don’t know what the number on the scale will read tomorrow morning.  (Forgot to tell you that I stuck to my commitment of only weighing Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.)  If it’s down from Friday, terrific.  If it isn’t, I know that my body is still slimming down, getting more defined and also gaining in strength.  No matter what, I need to recognized and acknowledge these changes.

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Food and Crises

When I look back at events in my life, I can’t think of a single major crisis in which I did not use food and overeating to try to cope.  My father’s sudden death kicked off an eating spree in which put on the 100 pounds that I’d recently lost and then some.  Mom’s relapses and later her illness and death – same thing.  I always turned to food and binge eating.  Stress, grief, anxiety, anger, sadness — pick an emotion that might threaten to overwhelm me and keep me from functioning and I would eat-eat-eat-eat in order to cram them down into tight little boxes so that I could stay on track with handling the crisis.

That I am managing to stay on track right now during Pyxi’s illness is miraculous.  It also takes effort, focus, and a willingness to fight for my abstinence and recovery.  I’m not 100% perfect, but hot damn, I’m doing a really good job taking care of myself while I take care of my little girl dog.

Right now, ironically, among the big challenges in her illness is her weight loss.  We’ve stopped the nausea and vomiting, but she is turning up her cute little nose at most foods.  She needs carbs but all she’ll eat consistently is protein — cooked chicken, specifically.  Forget the special formula of dog food for kidney disease patients.  She took one sniff and turned away as if I’d offered her some foul preparation.  She ate rice for a little while and then tired of it and acted like pasta was a new fave food.  Now she’s over that too.  She never quite went for smashed potatoes either.

Unlike her, if someone coaxed me to eat rice, pasta and potatoes for my own good, I’d chow down like a champ!  Food has a strong, insidious, tempting call. I went to the grocery store, desperate to find a range of possible things I could try to tempt her to eat a little more.  I thought of baby foods, mac and cheese, even whole wheat bread.  As we all know, the check out lines are bordered by racks of two things – magazines and candy.  While the clerk scanned my purchases, I caved and grabbed a small packet of mini-candies.  I got out to the car, grabbed the packet out of the bag and ripped it open to cram a few little pieces into my mouth.  Then my head caught up to my compulsive impulse and said, “Wait.  Think about what you’re doing.”  “Shut up,” I said to that voice.  I worked out hard this morning.  Some chocolate won’t hurt.”  However, while I said that in my head, I also read the label.  One package of little pieces of candy would add up to 310 calories!  Yikes!

On top of that, the very act of eating compulsively, of grabbing and ingesting food that I didn’t plan to eat, acting out of stress or an other emotion, does more damage to me emotionally and mentally than the sugar and carbs do to my nutritional goals for the day.

Eating the rest of this candy is not going to help me and it won’t do a darned thing positive for Pyxi.  She and I both need for me to be calm, as relaxed as possible, clear-headed and functioning.  We don’t need me to trigger a binge-eating relapse.

I grabbed the candy package and crushed it in my hand, squeezing all the remaining individual bite-sized pieces into one messed-up ball.  Then I started the car and drove home.  After I parked and got out of my car, I took the candy package and threw it into the outside trash.  That was a positive act for myself and for my recovery.  Stopping myself from consuming all of the candy and then knowing not to tempt myself by bringing the rest of it into the house, showed me that I am stronger for today than my disease.  This elevated me a great deal.

Inside, I tried out a few different foods, offering them to Pyxi.  She wasn’t interested in the little sweet potato/rice puffs or the mac and cheese.  She did eat half a slice of whole wheat bread. Desperate to get her to eat something more, I decided that if all she would consume was more poultry, at least it was better than her stopping at half a slice of bread.  I spooned out some of my ground turkey leftovers from last night.  That was much more to her liking.  She ate several pieces before going back to her bed for another nap.  I decided that I’ll try her with some more and a little more bread later on.

I then proceeded to eat my own, planned-for lunch, which I enjoyed.  Not only did it taste good, but since I planned it out and ate on track, I didn’t have the negative emotions and thoughts that accompany my meals when I’m not on plan.  One more time, I was dealing with the crisis using my program rather than using food.

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Good Nutrition is Confusing

I’m still doing a good job staying on track.  I lost a few pounds, which provides good positive reinforcement.  I’m sticking to my work out/exercise commitment.  My brain is operating rationally which is always a plus with my eating disorder and food issues.    I continue to reach out for support, which just overall helps the effort.

All of this has been particularly helpful while coping with Pyxi’s illness. That I’m able to be stressed and upset but still effectively manage her health care and treatment and NOT over eat or go off my plan is somewhat of a miracle.

Quick Pyxi update:  We’ve seen some improvement.  The anti-nausea medication really helped.  She’s kept down all of her food since having the shot on Tuesday.  Therefore, she’s also getting the anti-acid pills and the ammonia-binder.  In general, I think these all help her feel better so her demeanor is brighter and more engaged with a litle more energy.  The other vet that did acupuncture showed me some points that I can rub on her paws to further help keep nausea down and I do a little energy work on her kidney area.  Plus, we started Pyxi on some Chinese herbs for overall kidney support.  Paws crossed that my girl continues on an upward trend.

Okay, back to the post.  In keeping with my determination to live a healthy lifestyle and do whatever I can to support myself, I went to a presentation at the local hospital today, lead by their dietitian.  (The hospital where I had my weight loss surgery and all of the associated support teams are more than two hours away from where I live.)

The presentation was excellent.  As much as I’ve educated myself about food, eating, calories, weight loss, nutrition, etc., there are, apparently huge gaps in my knowledge.

Good nutrition can be confusing.  I think it can be even more so when one is a bariatric surgery veteran.  I’ve been targeting 1200 calories a day, high protein/low carb.  I obsess over whether that’s too many or too few calories.   I rarely allow myself to eat bread, potatoes, rice or pasta.  I occasionally add some homemade whole rolled oat/low fat/low sugar granola on my 0% fat yogurt.  I worry about whether I’m eating too much fruit.

I think now that maybe I eat nuts and seeds too often as snacks.

Arggghhh.

In the presentation, the dietitian talked about the food plate.  Remember the old food pyramid and then the food steps – both of which were to illustrate what we should eat in each food group?  The food plate is the newest (circa 2010) version.  The young woman, who was very knowledgeable and interesting, also did a chart showing how much of each food group should be included each day depending on the total calorie goal – 1400, 1600, 1800, 2000, 2400.

Note – there was no column for 1200 calories.

The next thing I noticed was when she said that the accepted dietary guidelines suggest no fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrates a day.  The food plate shows a whole section for grains.  5 ounces of grains in a 1600 calorie per day plan.  Yes, grains — like bread, pasta, and rice — i.e., the stuff that my surgeon considered worse than poison.  You know that worry about eating too much fruit?  According to her, even if I only bumped up to 1400 calories a day, I could still have 1.5 cups of fruit a day.

Her guidelines showed 4 ounces of meat (poultry, fish, beef, lamb, pork) and beans per day.  That seemed drastically low to me with my high protein mindset.  She also listed two cups of milk/dairy.  So, I went online to look up number of protein grams in 4 ounces of chicken and two cups of dairy plus a quarter cup of chickpeas (that could go toward veggies).  I saw that it would come in at about 57 grams of protein.  So, is that high enough?  If it is, then I need to add more dairy to my daily meal plan.

Don’t get me started right now on balancing out my fats.  Oh, except that with all the talk about coconut oil being so much better for us, I was surprised to find out that it’s considered a saturated fat.  However, the dietitian is doing more research on that because she’s heard that the way that it’s processed may affect its designation.

I really need to put a halt to my confusion and get more facts about what is right for me.  To some extent, I feel like I’m shooting in the dark while wearing a blindfold.  I sort of know a lot but not enough to know if I’m really doing what’s best for me.  I spoke with the dietitian for a few minutes after the presentation.  While she has not worked with a lot of bariatric surgery patients, she has worked with some and she has access to solid information.  I’m going to schedule a one-on-one consultation with her.

Knowledge is power and I am determined to keep powering through with my weight loss and healthy living.

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Care Team

A quick post tonight because I’m exhausted.  The last two days have had ups and downs but we’re doing okay.

I’m still on track with my program as far as my food.  Even though I wanted to weigh myself last night and also this morning, I’ve honored my commitment and won’t weigh until tomorrow morning.  I rowed yesterday and am scheduled for class tomorrow.

Pyxi has also had her ups and downs.  The vets (Yes, now seen by another excellent vet) have both said that there is still hope and a possibility that we can turn this around.  While her kidneys won’t repair, dogs can sustain with good quality of life on kidneys that don’t work 100%.  We need to get her nausea and stomach acid under control so that she can hold down nutrition  and be interested in drinking.  If we can do that and do other things to support her kidneys, she could rally.

So…. we are throwing everything we have at this condition.  She’s getting Sub-Q fluids when she needs them.  Today she got an injection of medication to fight the nausea.  We had a consultation with one of the other terrific vets in town who does acupuncture.  Pyxi was terrific on the table and hopefully the treatment will assist the various organs and other parts of her body to function more efficiently.

She isn’t in pain. While the tummy troubles aren’t pleasant, they aren’t creating constant discomfort.  We just need to get her retaining the nutrients to fuel her body.  We’ll continue monitoring, do another session of acupuncture next week and we’re also looking into Chinese herbs.

As we were driving home from the second appointment, I thought about how many people are on Pyxi’s care team.  Team Pyxi has two great vets and their techs, me, my friends, family and co-workers.  Everybody is supporting her in some way and everything helps.

They’re supporting me too in a myriad of ways.  They understand that I’m stressed and get upset sometimes.  They take time to listen, to offer help.  The vets are using their knowledge, experience, and willingness to consult with each other.

My post tonight acknowledges the need I have for a care team.  As much as I love to think of myself as self-reliant and able to take care of myself, which are not bad qualities, I don’t have to go through life all alone without assistance and support.  All of us need support, even if the ways in which we need may be different.

I have a great care team.  Friends, family, co-workers offer support, help and understanding.  Some who might not understand my issues are still willing to listen if I need to share and they can be sounding boards without judging me or trying to “fix” me.   The women I go to for acupuncture, massage, esthetician/nail service, even hair are part of the care team because the help me feel good.  I’m going to count the trainers at rowing, too.

You’re part of my care team too.  You are part of  this place that I come to  where I can share, vent, process what’s going on, etc.  Your support is felt and it matters.

Thank you, Everyone.

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Pretend Coping

It’s Sunday night.  I’ve made it through a stressful, emotional weekend without blowing my abstinence.  Instead of running to food to cope with the upset of Pyxi’s ailment, I ran to program.  I kept using the tools of committing my food in the morning and logging it in the diary.  I went to my newly discovered online support group and read their posting while posting my own note.

This morning was the worst.  Pyxi has not been drinking a lot of water.  She is still interested in food  but is not always able to keep it down.  Even a couple of hours past a meal, she may throw up.  Even though our veterinarian and his wife are friends of mine, I am reluctant to bother him on a weekend when I know he is not on call.  So, I called the emergency number and the on-call vet got back in touch with me pretty quickly.

I conveyed Pyxi’s symptoms and condition to her since she wasn’t in the office with access to the medical records.  I wanted to know if I could start giving Pyxi an over-the-counter acid fighter to help with the vomiting.  I wanted to know if the vet thought that it was time to give her some fluids since she wasn’t drinking much.  Let me preface what I’m about to write by saying this other veterinarian is a good doctor.  While she hasn’t seen my kids often, the couple of times that she has she’s been good and thorough with them.  I trust her knowledge.  Besides, I know that my regular vet would not have invited her to join his established practice if she wasn’t up to his standards.

Okay, that said, I question whether it was necessary for her to give me a quick and sudden lesson in the nature of kidney disease in dogs, including how it is incurable and we focus on managing symptoms until we reach the point where we have to consider our dog’s quality of life and weigh other decisions.

At some point in her talking, I stopped hearing her actual words because my brain started saying, “Pyxi’s dying.”  I ceased being able to process things rationally at that point.  All I could really say was that this was dramatically more somber than M had been on Wednesday and, while I knew her condition is serious, I didn’t think we were at the “assessing quality of life” stage yet.  I felt like my hope that we might be able to at least stabilize Pyxi had just disintegrated.

I guess I was able to participate enough in the conversation to hear the vet say to start her on the anti-acid meds twice a day.  She also suggested that I could try to syringe some water into her and, if she didn’t get in some fluids today to call and I could bring her in for some subcutaneous fluids.  I told her I’d call her, thanked her, and disconnected the call.

Then I lost my mind.  I went into a complete emotional meltdown with my chest heaving, tears pouring out of my eyes and my arms wrapped around my mid-section.  It was awful.

Through it all I kept repeating, “Don’t eat.  Just don’t eat.  Don’t eat.  It won’t help.  Just don’t eat.”  I don’t often fall apart, but when I do, I’m thorough about it, let me tell you.  It was a good 15-20 minutes before I pulled myself together enough to think.  I decided that my friend would absolutely not mind me reaching out to him in this case.  I was such a basket case that I didn’t even remember that I actually have his cell phone number, so I texted his wife, apologized profusely for bothering them on a Sunday and asking if he had a minute to call.  I even said that I was probably overreacting but I was losing my mind over it and needed verification on what I should do.

My vet is the calmest, nicest and most gentle of people.  He called me within five minutes.  The first thing he said was that I should never feel bad about calling him any time and that he actually preferred that I call him directly because he has Pyxi’s history in his head and knows her so well.  The second thing he did was reassure me that, while Pyxi’s condition is serious, he does still have some hope that we can stabilize her so that she doesn’t worsen and that we might even be fortunate and see some improvement.  He feels we need to look at more than her numbers and assess her behavior.  Even though she sometimes throws up, it is still encouraging that she is eager to eat and there are things that we can do to treat the vomiting symptoms.

This immediately calmed me down enough to tell him what I’ve been seeing in the last 48 hours.  He wasn’t surprised that I’ve kept a log of when she eats, drinks, pees, vomits; what her behavior and demeanor are like, etc.  He reiterated to keep her on the anti-acid medication.  He told me at this point not to force her with syringing fluid into her mouth but to keep monitoring her intake and output.  We agreed to touch base later in the day.  If we thought it necessary he would meet me at the clinic at any time and give her Sub-Q fluids.

Before we disconnected, I wanted to let him know that I understood the seriousness of the situation and that I accepted that it might not turn around for her and she could deteriorate to where we’d have to face that quality of life discussion.  He told me he knew that and that I knew he would always tell me straight.  This helped settle me in my mind even more and I truly felt that we aren’t at that point.

As the day went on, Pyxi didn’t get any worse.  She did throw up several hours after her first dose of anti-acid med, but at least she had time to digest some of her breakfast.  She continued to be pretty quiet, sleeping most of the day.  She’ll get up and go outside or follow me into the bedroom, but then settles down again.  I was on the point of calling him and suggesting the sub-q fluids when she went into the kitchen and drank more water.  Dinner was several hours ago and it’s now three hours since she drank and, so far, everything is staying down.  He called me for an update and we decided that if her water intake doesn’t increase by mid-day tomorrow, I’ll bring her in for fluids.

I am so fortunate to work where I do.  They are completely fine with me bringing both dogs to work when I need to do so.  Nat and Pyxi behave very well in my office so I can get work done and they don’t disrupt any body else in the building.  I’m going to take only Pyxi tomorrow.  Normally, the two of them go everywhere together but I just have a feeling that she’ll be less ramped up on the trip and in the office if it’s only her tomorrow.  Natty won’t like it at first but I also know that he’ll go back to sleep within minutes after we leave.

The day is winding down now.  I’m going to bed soon and plan to still go to my 7 a.m. rowing class in the morning.  I am so happy to have gotten through this day without mindlessly abandoning my food plan and attempting to use food to cope with the upsetting situation.  I stayed on track.   I even went out and did 35 minutes of water aerobics.  Then I prepared a delicious dinner (Grilled lamb steak with roasted rainbow carrots and fingerling potatoes) and enjoyed eating it — without overeating more than I’d planned.

Given my decades-long history of using food to cope, this is sort of miraculous.  That brings me to the point I wanted to make when I named this post.  Using food or any substance, heck, using behaviors in ways that could be destructive, are not really coping.  We call them coping mechanisms, but when we use them, we aren’t truly coping.  In my case, when I’m upset and plunge into compulsive overeating, I’m actually running away and not dealing.

As emotionally upsetting as it was to sit here sobbing and think about possibly losing my sweet little furgirl, I needed to go through the process, experience the emotions and get to a place where I was functioning and thinking straight.  I need clarity to properly manage Pyxi’s care and get her whatever she needs.  Drugging myself with food is not going to help.

It will only make me feel worse and then create even more stress and upset when I get mad at myself for overeating.

For today, coping means feeling the emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or painful or scary, and doing what is necessary regardless.  It means not looking for false mechanisms to make it easier but choosing effective, not destructive methods.

It means that, no matter what, don’t eat.  Just don’t eat.

 

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Staying in the Day

I have a bad habit of pressuring myself with big expectations when it comes to my weight loss performance.  Surely this is part of a diet mentality, but sometimes it feels like big wishes while other times it could be setting myself up to fail.  I’m not sure but I know that I have to stop.

The root of this is my obsession with weighing myself.  I’ll get on the scale before showering or eating anything in the morning and then again before I go to bed at night.  My mind set is somewhat different, depending on what stage I’m in for the effort.  When I’d first start a diet and was going great guns, or right after weight loss surgery, I just wanted to weigh myself alll of the time, as if I could physically watch the pounds disappear from my body and just needed the digital evidence before my eyes.

When things go great, this is positive reinforcement.  Look, I lost a pound.  Hooray!  That’s great.

Then I start calculating progress in my head and projecting where I want to be, or where I could be a few weeks or months into the future.  I set goals based more on “oh please, that’s where I want to be” rather than giving any thought to what’s practical and possible.

What eventually happens is that I veer a little off course, or my body doesn’t stay on the schedule that my mind determined.  I get upset with myself.  A little depressed.  Air leaks out of my motivational balloon.  My mindset gets less positive.  Things can go downhill fast.

I’ve had a string of really strong days but I can already see that I’m falling into that bad habit again.  Too much weighing.  Too much playing “what if” and calculating how much weight I possibly could lose by such and such date.  This game goes like this… “What if I lose two pounds a week?  That’s eight pounds a month, or thirty pounds in four months.”  Oh, but wait.  I don’t stop there.  The thought process goes, “But if I lost 10-12 pounds in a month, then I could lose almost 50 pounds in four months!”  Gradually, the expectations get larger, more improbable, and the pressure increases.  I lose my focus on what I need to do today with each meal.  Projecting into tomorrow, next week, next month or whenever, does not help me shore up the foundation of right now, which is what I need to get to tomorrow.

I like to think that weighing myself daily keeps me honest, and twice a day gives me an emotional boost.  While these things could sort of work positively for me sometimes, honestly, there is more potential for screwing me up in my head.

My recovery program emphasizes One Day at a Time.  When times are challenging, it could get even more immediate, like One Meal at a Time.

I need to stay in the day with my program.  This is a process and not an event.  It’s a journey.  It isn’t a diet.  It’s my life — lived in health and recovery.

Most of the time the tools of the program are things that we do.  In this case, the next tool I need to add to my kit is to stop doing something… weighing myself so frequently.  It is almost as scary to think of doing this cold turkey as it is to give up a certain food all together.  I am afraid that it will stress me out too much to right now commit to only weighing myself once a week.  I’m going to gradually reduce my dependency on that digital display as a measure of my success.

This requires faith in myself and in my program.  I know, I know, that if I follow my food plan and keep my abstinence one day at a time, I will not only be a lot more serene and happy, but I will also lose weight.  I need to free myself of a time schedule for the weight loss and just keep going day by day by day.

Just like I’m making sure to commit my food by typing it into a digital note on my phone every  morning and then logging each meal on My Fitness Plan after I eat it, I’m going to make this commitment in writing — okay, in typing.

For this week, I commit to weighing myself only three times:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before breakfast.  My focus will not be on what I weigh, but what I need to do every day to stay abstinent, follow my food plan, and nurture my recovery.  No matter what the scale number says on one of those mornings, I will not give into the temptation to weigh myself again at night, or the next morning.  Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings only for the week.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

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