Weighty Matters

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Our Dogs, Ourselves

The last few months have been populated with several visits to the veterinarian.  Natty has battled a stubborn ear infection.  Pyxi’s had vulvitis, a bladder infection and some periodic incontinence.  Ear drops and sprays for Nat, antibiotics for both of them have been our norm.  Neither one of them has eaten well, in particular Pyxi.  She’s been consuming less than half of her normal diet.

Both of them put on a couple of pounds while I was dealing with my chronic foot issues.  They were not getting their customary amount of exercise during that time, plus it’s been so blistering hot that even when I can walk, I don’t push it with their little fur-coated bodies.  During the summer, I don’t walk them later in the morning than 8 a.m.  In the evening, we don’t go out until after 7 p.m.  If you’ve ever wondered when the pavement or street are too hot for your dog’s paws, here’s an easy test.  Hold your fingers or palm of your hand to the pavement for 7 – 10 seconds.  If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.

Pyxi, dropped the most weight and I’ve been concerned that something else might be happening, but waited until she was done with her antibiotics to see if she would start eating more regularly again.  However, by the time their follow up appointment arrived earlier this week, I was starting to get scared.

Our vet is wonderful.  He ordered a full blood panel.  While we waited for the results, he thoroughly examined her again from nose to tail with diagnostic instruments and hands-on touches.  He called up her recent x-rays and studied them again to make sure nothing had been missed the last time.  Thankfully, he neither felt nor saw any masses, misshapped organs or other things.

The blood results came back and some key levels were elevated, indicating kidney issues.  Her kidneys are functioning at about 60%.  My heart jumped and fluttered and I could feel myself getting scared.  My vet and I have been friends a long time and he swiftly made sure I knew that this could all be a result of the recent infection and the strong antibiotics.  He also went through the blood test line by line and showed me how other levels right away helped him rule out a couple major problems.  I started to breathe again.

The first thing he wanted to do was to put her on a lower protein diet for two weeks and then run another blood test to see if her levels normalized.  To achieve this diet, he wants me to cut out a third of her regular kibble and replace it with rice or pasta. In their evening meal, both dogs get a small scoop of some wet food too.  Instead of that over the next two weeks, Dr. Mike wants me to give Pyxi some chicken.  “I know how busy you are, but this won’t be too much for your to accomplish, will it?” he asked, although he already knew my answer.

I wouldn’t care if my days were three times busier than the President’s.  If my dogs need me to cook rice and chicken for them, I will.  I assured him it wouldn’t be a problem.  (I cooked for my old Irish Setter for two years before he died.)

Thankfully, that night I still had some leftover grilled chicken in the fridge and some rice in the cupboard that I could cook up. I also boiled some pasta for variety.  Friday night I bought a roasting chicken and some brown rice.  All three of us will be eating from that chicken for much of the week.  Let me just tell you that the dogs are loving it.  I’m not sure whether Pyxi started to feel better after her appointment and naturally has more appetite than before, or whether it’s the novelty of rice, pasta and chicken that stimulates her eating, but she’s cleaning her bowl at both meals.  (Natty doesn’t need the rice/pasta/chicken, but I don’t have it in me to deny him some bites when his sister is getting it.  I don’t give him as much, but he too is now eating more reliably than he was.)  I am relieved that she seems to be improving and am hopeful that her re-test in a week and a half will show that her levels are back to normal.

Here’s my point in tell you all this story.  As soon as the veterinarian prescribed a change in diet for the sake of my dog’s health, I immediately complied.  I went right into action mode to help my little girl feel better and recover from her ailment.

Doing this for her was automatic.

Unlike all of the years when I knew I need to change my food choices and eating patterns for the sake of my own health but didn’t make the necessary improvements.

Let this be a good reminder to myself.  I should always resolve to treat myself with at least the same high level of caring and commitment as I devote to my furry family members.

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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.”

(Pause.)

“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.

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