Weighty Matters

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Surgery Preparations

After five years, I’d sort of forgotten how much preparation work is necessary before surgery. Granted, I had to do more things before having weight loss surgery than I do for the knee replacement, but there are still several tests I need to have done. I also have to schedule a pre-surgery registration appointment and a rehabilitation orientation. I’ve already had the CT scan that the surgeon needed so that my custom knee implant can be built.

The surgeon’s office issued detailed instructions, including the phone numbers I needed to call. I’m pretty impressed by their operation, although there are a couple of flaws.  The instructions tell me that their office recommends that I have the pre-surgery tests done five to six weeks ahead of the operation and that they need to have the results in their hands a week prior.  That sounds cut and dried, right? Well, almost. A few sentences down from that recommendation is the information that the lab tests are only good for 30 days.I think they need to double-check their own math because five to six weeks = 35-42 days.

I called my primary care physician to schedule the appointment for my labs. The scheduler suggested two weeks before my surgery for the tests and then 10 days before for my appointment with the doctor to get the medical clearance. Worried that we might be cutting it close on that “surgeon wants the results and the clearance letter a week prior”, I made the scheduler confirm twice that everything would be done and reports received on time.

The other two appointments – pre-surgery registration and rehab orientation – have to be done in Miami where I’m having the operation. Thankfully, I was able to schedule these for the same day so that I don’t have to take two days off from work to drive up, have an appointment, and drive home.

Do I sound like I’m whining? I don’t mean to. Honestly, I completely understand why all of the lab tests are necessary. It would be a very bad thing to be harboring an infection or some other medical condition I didn’t know about when I go into the hospital to have my knee opened up.

This is more my “bottom liner, get things done” tendency. I resisted the very idea of having the surgery for so long, but now that I’m committed, I want to have every last thing scheduled, organized and in place. Not only is this necessary to make sure things stay on track, but it will actually reduce the potential for stress as the surgery date approaches.

 

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Hello, It’s Me

I can’t believe that I have gone seven months and not blogged. I am so sorry.  As I look at comments, I am deeply appreciative that you checked up on me. Again, I’m sorry.

I really didn’t mean to be gone so long. I thought it would be a short break and then I’d think about blogging and not feel like I had anything of any interest to say. Other times, I’d think that I really should check in because I missed all of you, but I’d feel overwhelmed or overtired from the day and think, “Tomorrow.”  Lots of tomorrows followed one right after the other.

Looking back, I’ve had a lot of days when I felt all of those things and more – that I had nothing of interest to say, that I was overwhelmed, that I was exhausted. It’s been crazy for me at work and for most of the last seven months I’ve been a department of one doing all of the responsibilities that are normally handled by me and another person. No surprise that by the time I finished in the evenings, I couldn’t muster the energy to write. To be honest, I had a lot of nights where I’d fall asleep on the couch, right in the middle of a television show I wanted to watch.

Honestly, I think the thing that really held me back was not knowing what to blog about. Frankly, I was in a really bad place with my food and eating, and I was constantly struggling with my eating disorder.  Emotionally, I was on a roller coaster. Physically, I felt like crap as I kept putting on weight, losing it, then putting it back with a little extra.  I guess I thought that all of my blog posts would be bummers.

Not that all of the last seven months have been horrid. No, far from it. I took an awesome trip to Brazil and the Amazon forests in August. I’ve continued to work on my workouts and Tai Chi. I’ve had some fun times with friends and family.

Still, I let so much of my emotional state get wrapped up in my eating disorder or success at dealing with it and all that stuff.

Here’s the bottom line, I regained 50 pounds of the 182 I initially lost. I don’t know if I ever typed that reality before. I kept trying different things and approaches but my disease keep getting the better of me. I started to get really frightened that I wouldn’t be able to stop and I would become one of the bariatric surgery patients who ended up regaining every pound. Did I say frightened? Hell, I was terrified!

Fortunately, right when I needed it, I got an email from a company of two women who have created a business offers programs and support to people who have had weight loss surgery. (Both principals have lap bands.) I checked out their website and an upcoming six week web-based class designed to help people get back on track. I signed up and it really helped me settle my head and emotions.  From that, I joined their year-long online group that does a weekly weigh-in but encourages lots of sharing and posting via a closed Facebook group.  The women also create weekly challenges and suggestions.

Just in a couple of weeks (that group started January 3rd), I’ve begun to settle even more and, more importantly to me, I have learned a lot. The key learning is how much I don’t know about long term strategies and suggestions for weight loss surgery patients. I am now getting some concrete, workable suggestions on how many grams of protein to aim for a day, what range to keep my daily carbs in, how much water I should drink, etc.

There are other practical tools on exchanging habits, goal-setting, fitness, and the like.  All of these things have been huge gifts and just what I needed to hear, learn and implement in my life.  I now am no longer backsliding and terrified that I will regain all of my weight. I am confident in my ability to stay emotionally even, eat healthy, stay on plan, and lose weight. I’m staying consistent with my fitness goals too.

All of these things would be important overall in my life. They are particularly and acutely important right now. One of the other aspects of my life that I’ve had to face is that the condition of my right knee has deteriorated from two years ago. I have more pain, less strength and less stability and it is affecting my life much more than it used to.

I had been fighting the inevitable. The only way to improve my condition is to have knee replacement surgery. I resisted this solution like the most obdurate woman alive. It took some gentle questions from my brother for me to dig into the why of my resistance. It came down to the fact that there will be a period of about four weeks when I will be unable to drive. I hated the thought of losing my independence for so long.

It took awhile, but I’ve resolved the resistance.  I consulted a really good orthopedic surgeon, scheduled a surgery date (March 15th) and have everything in motion to get this done. The sooner I have the operation, the sooner I can rehab and recover.

The surgery date is also extra motivating for me to focus on my food plan. I intend to lose as much weight as possible before my operation while I continue with my fitness commitment. These steps will aid my recovery process.

So, this pretty much summarizes where I’ve been, where I am today, and what I’m looking ahead to in the near future. Another goal is to once more return to blogging here. Hopefully, I won’t bore you while I’m working through the process.

How are all of you?

 

 

 

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Portion Awareness

One of the biggest challenges for me is assessing how much food to put on my plate.  We never really had the “clean plate club” or the “eat everything because children are starving in Europe” mentality at home when we were growing up.  However, we were eaters; if there was food in front of us, we ate it.

Combine that with the binge eating and compulsive eating disorder and I have a lifetime of not being able to clearly estimate portions.  I’m not good at knowing up front what amount is the right one for me when I’m serving myself and putting together a meal.

Pre-surgery, I could eat and eat and eat massive quantities – enough for two plus people.  It took a lot for me to reach the uncomfortable point.

My restricted stomach prevents me from binge eating, obviously.  I can no longer consume large volumes of food.  However, I’m still not always the best judge of what is enough or, more importantly, when my real hunger is satisfied.  Sometimes I’m one bite more than full and then completely uncomfortable.

I am actively working on improving my portion awareness.  There’s a disconnect between what my eyes and mind agree is an adequate amount and what is the reality for my stomach and nutrition.

It would seem that the obvious solution would be to weigh and measure everything.  I’ve discussed before how much I hate doing those things.  I want to learn to eyeball the portions first, then develop better mindfulness while I’m eating.  Ideally, I will develop my portion awareness to the point where I take just enough.  However, if I put more on my plate at the outset, but then reach satiety and have had enough, I want to stop eating – even if food remains on my plate.  There is no law, written or unwritten, that says every single bite must be consumed.

Some of the challenge remains mental.  I see smaller portions and think they will never be enough.  This is a holdover from the days when I was wildly out of control with my eating and, certainly, from before weight loss surgery.  Make no mistake; my portions these days are already definitely smaller than I used to eat, but I think I still start out with more than I need.

I believe the plan that I’m on helps with this balancing act.  The whole fat versions of dressings, sauces, etc., create a good mouth feel and increase satiety.  I’ve had the physical experience of this, but still fight the mental images and the familiar “It won’t be enough; it’s never enough” refrain that still runs through my brain far too often.

Those are the times when I need to remind myself to just do it; to try a little harder; to go with less and see how I feel.  Again, this effort presents more evidence that this is a process, not an event.  It’s a journey.

What a trip.

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Slicing, Dicing, Cutting Back and Keeping Fit

Silly title for a post, I know, and I’ll do my best to make it all relevant to the content.

I had an excellent time away last weekend at my Tai Chi Sabre workshop.  After doing the regular set for more than four years and feeling at least somewhat competent and balanced, it was interesting to return to being a complete newbie with the Sabre Set.  As I joked to a friend, when I started Tai Chi before, I felt awkward.  This time I felt awkward but I was armed.

Did you play sports or do any activity where you had to have a special outfit or equipment?  I remember when my Dad took me to a sporting goods department to help me pick out my first, very own glove for playing softball.  I felt so special in that moment.  Same thing when I got my first two wheel bike, or, later, my own purple bowling ball.  These things were rights of passage in a way and signified our full participation in whatever activity we were involved.

A friend pre-ordered our sabres for the workshop.  When I picked her up and she brought them to the car, I almost said, “Ooooh.  It’s so pretty.”  Honestly, it’s a nice wooden sabre made from red oak, so there is a prettiness aspect to it if you like and appreciate different kinds of wood.  The next day when the workshop instructor first told us to pick up our sabres and showed us how to hold them for the beginning of the set, I felt like I did as a kid the first time I took the field with my brand new softball glove.

The cool, special feeling remained through the weekend, even when I felt my clumsiest or despaired of ever finding my balance and coordination, let alone remembering the sequence of the moves.  Let me tell you, we worked hard.  Each morning we began with two full regular sets of Tai Chi, followed by several minutes of foundation exercises.  After a short water break, we worked on the sabre set.  We learned it a few moves at at time in a sequence and practiced over and over and over again.  Then the instructor would demonstrate the next sequence of moves, adding on to what we’d already learned.

We enjoyed a 90 minute to two hour lunch break during which we shared a meal but then broke into groups to do scheduled tasks such as washing dishes, chopping fruit or vegetables for dinner, putting away tables, etc.  Back from lunch, we all did another full set of Tai Chi, followed by a few more hours of more sequences from the Sabre set.  Break for dinner, do the after dinner tasks, reconvene for another full Tai Chi set, then a couple of hours more of Sabre.  By the time 9 p.m. arrived and we stopped for the night, collectively we looked like we’d just run a marathon.  I believe we all felt the same way.  The next day followed the same schedule and we finished learning all of the set moves.  The next morning when we reconvened, we concentrated on refining the moves and doing the set over and over and over and over again.

Thankfully, even with close to 100 people learning with all of the turns, chops, cuts and “throwing” of sabres (that don’t ever leave our hands), nobody actually got sliced or diced.

I will not pretend that I am anything close to having it down.  I am happy that I can remember most of it, but need to consult my notes if I get stuck on a transition from one sequence to the next.  I just keep practicing and practicing, knowing that eventually I’ll have the sequence down and then can really focus on refining my moves.  I will tell you without hesitation that I had a blast!  This is a fun set to learn and do and there’s something very cool about doing Tai Chi with my red oak sabre!

Food wise I was not strictly compliant.  I gave in to enjoy some really tasty carbs and I don’t regret doing so… particularly not with the overload of physical exercise we got.  Now that I’m back, I’m definitely cutting back — cutting the white carbs out again — and am back on track.

Today I saw my new primary care physician for the first time.  I’m happy to report that my blood pressure numbers remain good.  My cholesterol ratio of HDL:LDL is really good.  So is my blood sugar.  The doctor and I talked for a long time about my weight loss and my fitness levels.  She said that she looks not just at the numbers as in pounds on the scale, but at the overall condition of the patient and my condition is pretty darned good.  She encouraged me to stay on the path that I’m following, have faith that the pounds will come off, add some fiber supplement to my diet and she’ll see me in a year.  So, booyah for a great medical check up and keeping fit!

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Checking In Before the Holiday

The stormy seas on which I’ve been sailing lately have significantly calmed.  (Pardon the alliteration.)  More to the point, I’ve worked hard to reach a place of serenity, determining what I can change, what I can’t and recognizing the difference.  A lot of what is going on that was causing me so much stress really is out of my control.  I can only manage my actions and reactions, do my best, remember to breathe and kiss the rest to God.

I’m delighted that I’ve reached this point without binge eating through the tumult.  I’m doing a steady, consistently good job of sticking to my food plan.  Doing so not only makes me feel better physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  When I do not get side swiped by my eating disorder, overall I am in a much better place.  It’s still a matter of facing this one meal at a time, but I’m working the tools of my program.  I make sure that I plan ahead and prepare my foods.  I say no to the compulsive thoughts when they hit.  I find some other way to alleviate the stress-triggered impulses.

It helps that I’m losing weight again. A little here, a little there.  I’ll go several days, even close to a week, without any reduction and then see a couple of pounds have dropped off.  I really need to do my measurements again, too, because when I look in the mirror, I see a difference.  Having the numbers back up the visual will be good.

I’m going out of town this weekend for a Tai Chi workshop.  In addition to the regular set that we do, the Taoist Tai Chi Society also teaches some other sets, including one that includes sabre work.  I’ve never done this set and am excited to learn it.  I just think it will be a cool addition to my Tai Chi practice.  A friend from the society is riding up with me and ordered our sabres for us.  (They’re oak, not steel.)  It will surely be an interesting experience.  Plus workshops usually have more than a 100 participants.  Heck, some of them have 700 or 800!  Doing Tai Chi in harmony with so many people creates an entirely different energy feel.  I love it!

At the same time, I have a little apprehension about the food.  Meals are prepared for the workshop participants.  I know that I will be able to make choices that suit my food plan.  However, in the back of my mind is always the concern that I won’t make those choices.  Instead, if a white starch is available, will I take a spoonful out of impulse just because it’s there?  Sadly, with this disease, that is always a possibility.  So, I’m mentally psyching myself up to remain compliant to the plan and abstinent.  I’ve also thought ahead to my particular need to eat something every couple of hours.  Rather than put myself at the mercy of the workshop’s meal schedule, I have portable snacks ready that do not need refrigeration.  So, I can fuel my needs on time. This will keep me from getting over-hungry which often can lead to poor choices once food is actually available.

So, this is where I am before the three day holiday weekend.  I’m looking forward to a good time and keeping myself on an even keel.

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Medical Check-Up

Once I made the decision to have weight loss surgery, almost five years ago, it seems like I spent the next few years always going to a doctor.  First there was the consult with the surgeon.  This was followed by a number of tests and evaluations – Endoscopy, colonoscopy, pulmonology consult, first sleep test, pulmonologist’s eval of test, second sleep test, psychiatric evaluation, cardiologist appointment, echocardiogram, blood labs.  And so on and so on.

In between all of those tests I was still seeing my primary care physician for regular monitoring since I was on medication for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.  Doctors, doctors, specialists – I was always in one office or the other.

After the surgery, I saw my surgeon twice a month, then once a month for a year, then every three months.  In between I regularly had more blood labs done.  My primary care doctor still monitored me to make sure that I could now stay off of cholesterol and blood sugar medication and then, eventually, gave the okay for me to go off of the blood pressure medications completely.

Two and a half years ago, my primary doctor relocated.  Almost two years ago, I stopped going to my bariatric surgeon.

So, I’ve been pretty much going it alone for the last couple of years.  Except for the stall in my overall weight loss and slight regain which effected me emotionally and mentally, I’ve felt so terrific that going to the doctor has not been at the top of my mind.

This might all be well and good except that there are so many things that are important to keep an eye on for a woman of my age, family history, and previous self-history.  I came to accept, and give myself a mental head smack, that I’ve been ignoring my health.  I have no business being overdue for a complete physical and blood work.  Then there’s the matter of a mammogram and pap smear screenings.

It dawned on me that, since I stopped steadily losing weight before I reached my goal, I could be risking a recurrence of my blood pressure and blood sugar issues.  I monitor myself at home and things seem to be okay, but that doesn’t mean I should keep skipping full tests.  I also know that not having regular diagnostic screenings is just plain dumb and irresponsible.

So, I’m remedying the situation.  I found a new primary care physician to try and have an appointment for fasting blood work tomorrow.  After that, I’ll have a full physical, get a pap smear done and get a scrip for a mammogram.

I’m not big on self-diagnosing, but I’ve been reading up on thyroid issues.  I have requested a thyroid screening test too to see if it’s functioning the way that it should.  If it isn’t, that could shed some light on the stalled weight loss as well as some other symptoms I’m experiencing.

This is all a valuable lesson for me.  Eating healthy, fresh, clean food and working out are important for my health, but they aren’t a free pass.  I can’t neglect myself in any way by not going for regular checkups.  I’m glad that I’m taking the steps that I’ve put into place and that I’m ramping up my dedication to good self-care.

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The Non-Diet Mentality

Life is still super stressful.  I’m feeling a little piled-on at the moment, experiencing more than the usual amount of stress both at work and in my personal life.  I’ve been getting headaches over it and on any given night could wake up around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m. and not be able to fall back asleep for a few hours.  It sucks.  Plain and simple.   You know the people and internet memes that tout how it’s up to us to choose our attitude?  Trust me.  I am all about being positive and upbeat.  So, a good attitude would definitely be my choice – if I could find one.  I’m going to keep looking.  Honest.  I can feel the stress affecting me not only emotionally and mentally, but also physically.

So, really, I am doing my best to counteract the negativity.  When my head starts to pound and I can practically feel my blood pressure rising, I focus on deep, calming, breathing.  I take walks and do Tai Chi.  When stress thoughts begin to repeat in my head like hyped-up hamsters on an endless wheel (what I believe psychiatrists refer to as inefficient worrying), and disturb my sleep, I pick up a book to read for a little while rather than toss, turn and keep thinking the thoughts.

I practice being grateful.  I also keep repeating the Serenity Prayer.  I have a full cache of techniques and tools and am doing my best to employ them effectively.  When all else fails, I simply remember that the stress won’t last forever and this is not the worst time of my life – not anywhere close.  In the grand scheme of things, these fall somewhere in the “small stuff” category — or at least the “medium stuff” — and I can handle them.

One of the positives that I acknowledge and celebrate is that I’m not eating over the stress.  Actually, I’m doing far better following the Always Hungry food plan of low refined and white carbs/low sugar but full fat and protein than I ever thought possible.  I don’t have physical cravings and am not dancing on a micro-thin ledge where a slight push could have me jumping into compulsion or binge eating on crap foods.

It really is a sensible, workable food plan in my life.  I never thought I’d say that about a low-carb plan.

I should point out that my weight loss has not been fast, significant nor steady.  When I first started phase one of Always Hungry?, I lost 11 pounds in two weeks.  Then I put on three of the pounds when I went to phase two.  I went back to phase one with occasional whole grains and didn’t lose anything for weeks.  A couple of weeks ago, I lost the three pounds I’d regained, then stalled again.  This week I dropped another two.  (At least as of today.)

The lack of consistent weight loss has been frustrating.  I crave instant gratification and rapid loss.  There’s a lesson in this for me and I am cautiously optimistic that I am finally learning to give up the diet mindset and embrace a non-diet mentality.  Doing that was an important part of when I first experienced recovery many, many years ago in OA.  It is important that I remember, and positively reinforce, myself for the daily effort of eating according to my plan; that I find joy in making good, healthy food choices.

Most of the time, I really am jazzed that I seek out fresh, good food instead of chowing down on processed stuff.  I take time to acknowledge when I make good choices.  Earlier today I had a Chamber of Commerce luncheon to go to.  The restaurant featured a salad bar and a series of buffet items.  There were plenty of things I could have loaded on my plate.  Instead I fixed a nice salad with fresh ingredients that weren’t carb or sugar-laden.  I bypassed the rice at the buffet and picked some sauteed vegetables and a little bit of the shredded meat.  The ciabatta rolls looked great but I walked right by them to my table.  Skipped the dessert offering too.  Everything I consumed was right in line with my food plan.  That was the NSV, the non-scale victory.  Even faced with the opportunity of non-plan foods, I chose to eat according to plan.  At no time did I feel deprived or like I was eating diet food.  I wasn’t dieting at lunch, per se.  I was just eating lunch period.

This is the mentality that I will continue to foster.   I know that I’m also on the mark with my portion sizes and striking the balance between healthy carbs, protein and fat.  As long as I continue to follow this approach, eventually I’ll lose more weight.  The journey might be slow, but I can hopefully condition myself to accept that too.

There have been a lot of stories in the news about this study done with contestants from a season of The Biggest Loser.  All or most of them have regained most of the weight that they lost while on that program.  There were also very discouraging claims that our body fights to get back to the number we weighed before we dieted.  Dr. Ludwig, who created the Always Hungry? plan offers hope that it doesn’t have to be that way.  That this plan does indeed help us conquer cravings, retrain our fat cells and lose weight permanently.  For today, I’m taking it on faith that he’s right.

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Managing Stress without Compulsing

You know you’re tired when you’re in the middle of a phone conversation one evening with a friend and your brain clicks off and you fall asleep in mid-chat.  That’s exactly what happened to me last week one night.  It’s been a brutal couple of weeks and when I get home I can barely manage coherent thought, or so it seems.

When I last blogged I told you all about my boat sinking.  The resolution for that came through today.  The insurance company opted to declare it a total loss.  Honestly, that’s the best outcome for me because they will write me a check for the full insured value.  I can start with brand new engines again and not have to worry about problems with engines that had been submerged in salt water.  It also means that I don’t have to deal with the long hassle of someone rewiring my boat and doing whatever else would have needed doing to make it operational and safe.  Instead I can focus on what will be the more exciting task of finding a replacement boat.

Still, getting to this point created ongoing stress.  I went through all of the residual “I can’t believe this happened” and “What did happen?  Why did it sink?” stuff, along with, “Please let the settlement process be easy.”  I’m happy to say that the insurance company was great to work with, that’s for sure.  I don’t know how Progressive is with car policies, but they were efficient and non-confrontational with the boat and this is not an inexpensive claim that they’re paying out on.

Also in the last two weeks, we still had a whole bunch of stressful things going on at work.  We are momentarily through with the most immediately aggravating things and can take a bit of a breather.

Through it all, I’m happy to say that I am dealing without diving back into food and compulsive eating for the most part.  I’m not binge eating.  I’m following my food plan.  I’m working out regularly.  In all ways, I’m taking good care of myself.  I’ve gone for massages and acupuncture treatments.  These not only help me release the physical elements of the tension but they also ease my mind.  At night, when my body and brain tell me it’s time to sleep, I go to bed.  Thankfully, they don’t always tell me as abruptly as they did the night I conked out on my friend’s phone call.

It’s important for me to remember that eating compulsively makes every situation worse.  No amount of excess food can help.  Giving in to the urges and compulsions increases the tension and anxiety.   Working out, seeing to my brain’s comfort and my body’s needs alleviate the negative stuff.   Overall, I’m managing better by staying on track and remaining in recovery.

That alone knocks off several levels of the stress.

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Stress Overload

So, just when I thought the stress was easing up and that I’d turned a corner, I got hit with a big thing.  Not big as in someone died big, but big.

We had a beautiful weekend here in the Florida Keys.  I went to Tai Chi class on Saturday, ran some errands and then stopped in to see a friend at work to firm up plans for a boat outing on Sunday.  While there I mentioned that I was driving up to see the Jungle Book movie and invited her to come along.  That excursion was fun.  We enjoyed the movie and then picked up dinner for ourselves and some other friends who are knew parents.  All around a great day.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and gorgeous with perfect wind and weather conditions to go out on the boat.  My friend came over and we headed out for a favorite snorkel spot.  Along the way we saw wild dolphins three times!  We changed the snorkeling plans when not another boat was moored out there and I felt uncomfortable about us being there alone.  Instead we went to a popular sandbar and anchored up.  We snacked, chatted and relaxed in the sun.  It was nearly perfect.

Great ride home with me loving the speed and smoothness of my practically new boat engines.   We got home when the tide was too low for me to float my boat onto the boat lift, so we tied up at my sea wall.  I flushed the engines and hosed down the boat.  My friend and I chatted for a while more and then she left.  The plan was that I’d go back out in a couple of hours when the tide had risen enough for me to move the boat to the lift.

I puttered around the house, did some laundry, had dinner and actually wrote the blog post that I last posted.  Then i went outside to lift the boat and discovered that it was sinking.

Yes, sinking, as in it was listing to port and water was already filling up.  I immediately called friends on the phone in a near panic.  Seriously, coming out to find a sinking boat is not anything I’d ever previously experienced.  Bless my friends!  They rushed over and brought other people with them to help.  People I didn’t even know jumped in my boat and tried to bail water out.  It was amazing.  Unfortunately, it was also too late.  The tide continued to rise; water continued to fill and before we could believe it, my boat was on the bottom with its hull filled and the engines submerged.  (The water isn’t deep enough outside my house to cover the entire boat, but the parts that were covered with water were bad enough.)

More people came over so we could assess.  I was so stressed I could barely think straight.   It was awful but, again, having a boat sink was a new experience.

Thanks to knowledgeable people, I learned that once engines are submerged in salt water, you want them to remain submerged until you have experienced boat engine mechanics standing by to do something referred to as “pickling”.  So, everyone agreed that the boat was not going anywhere until the following day. At that point, one of the guys who happens to run the local boat towing service and salvage operation would come and raise her from the bottom… after, of course, the insurance company authorized him to do so.

About the most useful thing I did that night, other than thank everyone profusely, tip them some money in gratitude for trying to save my boat, and not pop a clot and pass out from stress, was to call my insurance company and open up a claim.  I went inside after everybody went home and sobbed myself into a massive headache.  Then I called my family and my close friend to warn them before I or anyone else posted the pictures on Facebook.  After a couple more hours of stress and hand wringing, I went to bed where I slept great for about three hours.  I woke up to use the bathroom and that was that.  Thoughts, what-ifs, what nexts and a myriad of other unproductive things ran through my brain like crazed hamsters and my ability to fall back asleep abandoned me.

I spent the next three hours veering between trying to lull myself with going through Tai Chi moves in my head and worrying about what would happen the next day.  In between I had intermittent lapses of confidence where I questioned whether I was competent to have and operate a boat and then more “Oh my God, what happened? Why did it sink?  What if it had happened when we were out to sea???” anxiety.  Around 6 a.m. I dozed again and got in a solid hour before my alarm went off.

After letting work know that I might be late, I sat down and tried to alleviate my stress by working out a detailed step-by-step plan of action.   I find it very calming if I have a plan.  It makes me feel powerful and, okay, more in control.  By the time 8 a.m. rolled around, I knew which boat yard I was calling and was ready to dial the claims rep for the insurance so that I could give him/her the name and number of the salvage guy.  By 8:30 I’d left a message for the claims rep and had spoken to the boat yard owner, with whom I’d previously served on a nonprofit board.  She assured me that she would have a qualified, skilled mechanic ready to pickle my engines as soon as we got the boat to them.

Isn’t the idea of pickling an engine counter-intuitive?  When you pickle a vegetable you put it in brine.  Here we were taking engines out of the briny ocean and then cleaning them of any and all salt water.  Having done all that I could, I went to the office, thinking that falling behind in my work would only heap on more tension and anxiety.  On my way to work, the claims rep called and was terrific.  After speaking to her, I contacted the salvage company and put the rescue of my boat into action.

A few hours later we commenced the operation.  By we I mean the salvage captain and his staff.  Whew, was that a big old undertaking with air bags, pumps, lines, more pumps.  I don’t know how they did it, but they did.  Within a couple of hours, despite a few minor hitches and setbacks, my boat was off the bottom being towed to the marina.

All that was Monday.  It’s now Wednesday night and feels like I’ve lived a week in a couple of days.  I’m exhausted but not as stressed any more.  My boat is in good hands.  The insurance adjuster should be down tomorrow.  The insurance company assured me multiple times that I am completely covered. Good thing on that because raising the boat alone cost between $2500 and $3000.  We still don’t know yet why it sank.  I also don’t know whether the insurance company will simply decide to total it.  However, I’m sleeping better, functioning well, getting things done and not giving in to the inefficient worrying.  I even went and rowed this morning and will do another class tomorrow.

I’m not being terrific with my food, which is a downer, but I’m not being a total disaster either.   I continue to do the best that I can do in the face of extraordinary circumstances.  I’ve decided that, rather than heap additional pressure on myself, I will be as good as possible and treat myself with love and understanding.   It’s the best that I can do right at this moment.

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Step by Step, Day by Day

Lots and lots of stress surrounding me right now.  I and my co-workers need to get through the next 10 days and then we should get a little relief.  It is a challenge to deal with this day after day, along with the extra work that comes with it.  I’ve had nights when I wake up around 2:30-3:00 a.m. to use the rest room and stress-motivated thinking intrudes.  This creates insomnia and I’m fortunate if I fall back asleep before 4:30 a.m.

The situation caused some strain between a co-worker and me in which we definitely did not communicate well and got into a pattern of escalating tension.  Thankfully, I thought to reach out to her on Friday with a verbal olive branch.  I said that we had not had the most shining week and that it definitely was not representative of how we usually work together.  I owned my part in it and asked her if we could take a couple of steps back and regroup.  I’m happy to say that she received the outreach in the spirit with which I intended.  She agreed with me and together we agreed that we’d meet again on Monday and resolve the rest of the situation.  I had the best two nights sleep that I’ve had since returning from my trip to Vegas.

Yikes.  I never posted here that I was going to Vegas, did I?  I went out to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention to hang out with friends, see Vegas for the first time in 47 years, and have some fun.  It was indeed fun, although somewhat exhausting.  I was happy to be there and also happy to get home.

Unfortunately, I was not good with my food plan while away.  This convention does not supply many meals and there wasn’t enough time during the day to sit down and have meals at the restaurants, not to mention the big expense since Vegas is not cheap.  I ended up consuming too many carbs, too much sugar, a few drinks.  Blech.

However, I am committed.  It’s been hard to get back on track, but I’m being kind and loving to myself and making the effort step by step, day by day.  From mid-week to now I’ve done much better with cutting out the junk carbs.  I’m still struggling a little to totally give up white sugar, but I’ve made some improvement there, too.  I’ve stopped bringing it into the house and am building up my resolve to say no to it when it crosses my path elsewhere.

I’m also getting back into my exercise routine.  I’ve recovered almost 100% from that injury.  We walked a lot while in Vegas and I did get up one morning and workout at the gym.  Last week, I returned to rowing classes and Tai Chi.  I paid attention to my body and found the balance between getting benefit from the rowing workout and overdoing it.  I felt the trouble spot start to twinge during one of the workouts so I backed off a little.  I also didn’t do three classes.  This week, I’ll try going back to three classes and see how it feels, but I won’t go crazy like I’m a hepped up wonder woman.  I’m also paying attention to the recommendations of my massage therapist — more hydration and stretching before the workout and making sure I stretch after the exercise sessions.  If I want to continue to improve my physical conditioning, I also have to proceed in an orderly, step by step fashion, instead of trying to jump over several steps and rush my body before it’s ready.

Class by class, workout by workout, walk by walk, Tai Chi routine by routine — it’s all positive progress.

Each time I don’t give in to cravings, whenever I say no to a compulsive urge to eat, when I turn away from a junk carb or sugary treat, I am taking the steps that I need to in order to continue to recover and live a healthy life.

 

 

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