Saturday, November 29, 2008

Update and Confessions and a Hospital Food Rant...

So, Friday morning the doctor phones, and he says (to Michael), I want you to go to the emergency room NOW and check in to the hospital, because with these blood tests plus breathing problems, I'm worried that you're getting blood clots. So we do. And that's where we've been ever since. It's been a wild ride.

And what's happened, really? Not, in a way, very much. There have been a lot of tests. They have all come back negative. Michael's heart rate has been really high, and they've been trying to get it down. They gave him three units of blood to try to deal with the anemia. And he has been sleep-deprived, and uncomfortable as hell, and earlier today, he was hell-bent on checking himself out. Which, to make a really long story short, he didn't do... but in the process, he managed to really make everyone furious with him, some of which is fair, and some of which is not. I went home and slept for a few hours last night, but tonight, I'm staying with him... I think that will make it easier... and so I'm expecting a rocky night.

The trouble is, he's a terrible patient. Just the worst. He hates sitting and waiting. He hates being hooked to monitors. He hates taking medication. And it's not like any of us are crazy about it, of course... but some people have a little more grin-and-bear-it tolerance. Plus he takes it all personally. Really personally, in a way that I can't relate to at all. I mostly figure that hospital staff are trying hard to do their jobs, jobs that are really not easy, and that basically it's mostly not about me. The peak of it all... well, peak number 1... was them trying to give him a new heart medication without discussion about it beforehand. I think that it if it had been the other way around... if the very nice doctor had explained it first... it might have all played out differently. But as it was, he was through the ceiling furious, refused to take it... and everything went downhill from there. He insisted on leaving. The doctor said no. He said yes. And this went on and on, with and without other people.

Eventually, the physician's assistant came in and told him his options, and said some things that actually made sense, and went off to check him out with or without the doctor's consent.... or, rather, to see if he could get the doctor's consent. And then we waited. Which gave Michael time to cool off. And when the PA came back, with all the discharge paperwork done, Michael was ready to change his mind and stay. So I went out and talked to the PA... who, unbelievably, was rude as hell, made it clear that he'd gone to all this effort, and that he was not happy, and that he wasn't going to do anything to faciliate rescheduling any of the things that had been cancelled. And was just totally obnoxious about it. Kept saying, "I'm not willing to do any of these things because he keeps changing his mind. I have done everything that I can do." I said, "You have not done everything that you CAN do; you have done everything that you are WILLING to do." And he said I was wrong, and reiterated the same thing again.

I am a pretty reasonable person. I understand that patient noncompliance is really a problem. I understand that this kind of thing creates tons of problems for all of the staff. I really do. I am not unsympathetic about this at all. But Michael only changed his mind because of what this guy said... and then he is an absolute total jerk about the whole thing. I am angry. Still. And hopefully I will stay angry for long enough to write the letter of complaint that I fully intend to write.

Anyway. Here we are, as I said. Still on one heart med. With three units of blood that appear to have done no real good. And hopefully scheduled for a colonoscopy on Monday, oh joy. At least, that's the notion behind staying here, to get that done rather than waiting until January as scheduled.

So here is my confession: last night, I was both so hungry and so upset that I stopped on the way home and bought a loaf of forbidden wheat bread plus some cheese and some chocolate, and ate most of it. No, clearly I'm not done with emotional eating. You think you've gotten past that particular bad habit... and things get bad enough, and it all comes right back to bite you.

And here is my hospital food rant. The food here is atrocious... but that's not the issue. When we were in the emergency room, I asked the doctor if I could go out and get us some food. She said, sure, but it has to be diabetic-appropriate. Then the nurse offered us the box lunch from the hospital cafeteria. Contents... two slices of turkey on a HUGE white roll. A container of peaches in syrup. A container of apple juice. And a sugar cookie. WHAT exactly in this meal is diabetic-appropriate? (Answer: the turkey, which was also salty as hell.) Every single meal in this hospital has been just like that. French toast. Turkey and gravy on white bread. Mounds of stuffing. Pudding. Sweetened juice. Absolutely unreal. At least now he's on clear liquids, in preparation for the scoping, so food ceases to be an issue, for him anyway.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Some years, it's harder to give thanks than others.

I'm having a hard time.

It's the first Thanksgiving since my mother died. A little over four months, and it's as raw as ever. My father is really not well. I am absolutely swamped with work, and I see no end in sight. And worst of all, Michael is only getting sicker, and no one seems to really know what the problem is. His anemia continues to be severe, his blood tests show all sorts of unexplained things, his breathing is so bad that we now have an oxygen concentrator, his heart rate is about twice normal... in a good moment... and he's exhausted and confused a lot of the time. Right now, he's gone back to bed, to sleep. Hooked to the oxygen, in a way that's all too reminiscent of the last few days of my mother's life. It's not the same situation, I know. But it's hard not to be scared to death. And it's hard not to feel desperately alone. Which, let's face it, I am.

I only make things worse by being frightened. I only make things worse by not taking care of myself because it's so hard to take care of me and him. And my son gets the short end of the stick, as always... he's at his father's today; I sent him there because I knew it would be a grim holiday here.

So. And now what? How do I put the pieces together? How do I see the good in all of this? How do I see the way through this and to the next thing?

I don't have the answer yet. But I will, somehow. And right now, I have a turkey to cook. Plus under all of this, there are things to be thankful for. I just have to find them. .

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Food Diaries

I have to say that almost at the top of my list of things that I don't want to do is start keeping a food diary again.

I did, for a very long time. I did it obsessively for a year and a half right after Michael and I got married, before we were eating low carb. I have to say that one of the extreme pleasures of low carb for me was that I felt like I could stop keeping a food diary, after I got the hang of it. And it just made everything better, in two ways.

First, it always takes me a lot of time. I eat almost no prepared foods, so all the components of every recipe have to go in there somewhere, and it can take ages if its something complicated. I can get around that with recipes that I prepare often... but that's not a lot of things. So it forces me to spend a lot of time and get obsessive about measuring and, all in all, put a lot of much-needed brain cells into an activity that doesn't thrill me. And I hate all the software, too, to varying degrees.

Secondly... although I suppose that it doesn't really have to be this way... it causes a lot of marital friction, or at least it did when it was "our" food diary and not "my" food diary, because I had to keep careful track of what Michael ate, and I am not that great about keeping my mouth shut about things that I think he shouldn't eat. Which is a whole different post, I think, the different ways that people relate to food. And I don't want to go down that road again; we have entirely enough stress going on already.

But let's face it. I am not losing weight at any great speed. Or, really, at all. Just bouncing the same few pounds back and forth. And I'll regain them next week when I go to NYC with my student team, if I'm not VERY careful anyway. I'm feeling fitter since I've been doing the Wii (more about that some time in the future), even though it's been kind of intermittent, and I've been eating a better balance of food lately. And everyone who's commented is right, and I do eat too much salt, and so on... and I know that I'm stressed, etc.... but at the end of the day, I need to do something to change the current pattern. And much though I hate this idea, I think that I'm going to have to go back to a food diary, at least for a while, and make sure that my carbs AND calories are where they should be. I think that my carbs are ok, but that really, I just eat too much to actually lose weight.

And so I'm just going to have to go back to doing this, at least for a while.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Get Back on the Stupid Horse

It's just a world of weight-loss angst out there. It seems like almost no one is doing well with their weight loss goals at the moment. And this time of year... in the Northeast anyway, you just want to curl up by the fire, hibernate, and add on a few layers of fat to get through the cold winter. (Ok, reality check...: we still don't have a fireplace, and it was 78 degrees in upstate NY yesterday, but this time of year makes me feel that way anyhow.)

I''m not losing weight, and I feel really lousy. Michael is not losing weight, not eating properly, and feeling really lousy. The theme here... general misery.

I don't think that this is the same problem. We used to eat pretty much all the same things all the time (yeah, Nina, get a clue... if you eat pretty much the same thing as someone who weighs nearly twice as much as you do, you are not going to lose weight). Over the last few months, we've pretty much given that up, for a whole variety of reasons but mostly because Michael's been feeling so lousy that the foods that he can tolerate are a small (and variable) subset of things that I'm willing to eat, plus some more carby things that I'm really not willing to eat much of.

My problem, on the whole is that, let's face it, I am eating too much, and I am eating too much fat, and I am occasionally just mindlessly eating things that I have no business eating. Let's take yesterday's botched eating attempts...
1. started the morning with smoked salmon and cream cheese on multigrain, high fiber crackers. These crackers are not the worst thing in the universe, but that's about 16 carbs right there, and usually I skip them. But this particular salmon was not the best, and it's really better on a cracker, so that was my "reason"... and it "needed to be eaten." Sigh. Nothing "needs to be eaten."
2. Came home for lunch. Had some cottage cheese and leftover steak that I'd made last night. This would have been kind of ok, but I ate about twice as much as I needed to. Why? No idea. The one clear idea was that I needed to have some proper lunch before I went to my student meeting... and that didn't work out at all because...
3. Went to student lunch meeting. Ate two revolting slices of pizza, quickly and like there was no tomorrow. I have no idea why I ate this. I am usually pretty good at skipping this kind of thing, but it was like a reversion to some earlier, more compulsive time.
4. Came home. Ate the rest of the leftover steak "because I won't be back for a few hours and I might be hungry."
5. Went and gave a two-hour exam (would I have starved in two hours? Very likely not.). Came back and had dinner about an hour later... pork roast and salad. Ate most of the crackly skin off the outside, which I have to say was really yummy, but nothing but a ton of fat.
6. All of the above doesn't include the cream in my coffee, and the other bits of cheese or whatever that I probably picked up as I was cooking. And a few sugar-free chocolates.

I am actually quite embarrassed to write that all down. I was not eating like this a few months ago.

I need to do some major rethinking about what and how, and probably most importantly, WHY I'm eating like this. I am eating too much fat... and, yes, you can of course eat far too much fat and far too much food, even if it's a low carb diet (actually, I did ok on carbs yesterday). There's just some point where you're eating too many calories for weight loss, and where you're providing your body with far too much easily accessible fat to make it burn the stored fat. I need to completely retool what I'm eating, because I am simply Not Getting Anywhere, and I feel just awful. Not surprising really.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Too Many Carbs, Too Many Calories?

I am not losing weight. Actually, I'm gaining weight. I am about 3 lbs. higher than I started the week. And I can't for the life of me figure out why or if I should be doing anything other than noticing that it's weird and moving on. The strange thing is that this weight gain has coincided with the last three days, which have been different only in that I've been doing the Wii Fit program.

I have a feeling that I should just be ignoring this and letting it sort itself out, but really... I mean, I've been paying NO attention to what I've been eating for months. And eating far too much, though still low carb. And my weight pretty much hasn't changed. I start getting my head together to really pay attention to this again, and what happens? Not only can't I lose weight, but I'm gaining. Arrrgh. I am just really annoyed.

Yesterday I ate... cottage cheese and some cold fish for breakfast, eggs and smoked salmon for lunch, a Starbucks latte, swordfish and broccoli and a few carrots for dinner. 2 glasses of wine. Tea with milk. Oh, and some Jarlesburg cheese that I was nibbling on, and 2 Russell Stover sugar-free chocolates. Carb sources... the carrots, the milk, mainly.

I just don't know. My short term plan? Nothing in particular, I guess. My important student competition is Monday, and there is just too much to do to spend a lot of time focusing on this, unfortunately. Keep up the Wii, and try to not get totally stressed by this because I have way too much other stuff to be stressed about at the moment. But I am really puzzled and annoyed.