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Pause, Reflect, Move Forward

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I am glad that I took the summer off. I have been working hard in multiple teams for nearly 16 months. I think that if I had pushed to continue in some of these summer team challenges I might just have 'imploded' and gone away 'for good' and that is not what I want to do because I have plans for my time spent here on Sparkpeople and disappearing into the night is not one of them!

I have 'downsized' with the amount of team involvement for this coming fall. I have loved my time spent with many of you and I see you as having been instrumental in walking a part of this journey of mine together. Don't count me out! I may be back in your team some time in the future but for now I am looking at those teams that I feel will support me on an ambitious upcoming year for me. I based this decision on what I feel will work for me to achieve the last leg of my weight loss journey. It is more about me than any of you so please do not take this as anything more than seeking what I need. Thanks for understanding!

As to my new team members whom I will be engaged with this coming fall and beyond, I look forward to getting to know all of you and being as supportive as I can be for your own personal goals as well. WE Can and Will DO THIS!

An update on my food plan. I have switched around my food plans (never really going too far though from my original SP Diabetes Meal Plan) and now my body has demanded that I deal with an immediate change. As of March 2017, I have experienced worsening symptoms of a long standing digestive condition I have had for about the time that I gained double my weight. At first, my body tolerated the abusive way that I ate. I was a binge eater and a compulsive overeater for two decades. The flip side of the coin was that I also did extreme dieting during that time and as result of one rapid weight loss diet I ended up getting gall bladder disease and I had my gall bladder removed in 1992. My metabolism was wrecked as a result of my eating behavior. I joined OA in 1995 and I began working on those manifestations of my eating disorder. Fast forward to today in 2017. I still binge but not as often. It usually only happens when I have felt a lot of weariness from dealing with other issues in my life; ie. underlying depression from multiple losses, chronic pain, general anxiety and insomnia.

Now, a binge is around 2500 calories (decades ago it was more like 5000-10000 calories) in one meal. However, I am also much older and my abused digestive system is wore out and as weary as I am. I am malnourished as a result. I am anemic in spite of eating my veggies (when I do) because of the repeated diarrhea I have when I stray from my food plan which can be often.

Do not ask me why I continue to do this? I would like to say that I do it so innocently that it hardly seems like I am involved in the decision making process but the reality is I am not as kind to my body as I would like to believe that I am. Now, the past six months I have gone through some terrible, horrific pain as a result of my eating behaviors and food choices. I have colitis, spastic colon and IBS (something that now is an every day occurrence rather than an occasional one as in the past). If I eat more than 700 calories at any given meal I will quickly develop extreme lower abdominal pain and go through a period of agony which I usually end up having to treat with NSAIDs for the pain and just plain wait for the food to move through my digestive system. All of this has taken over my life in a way that I never expected nor wanted it to. I know that if I do not get a better handle on this I could be facing much more serious consequences than the ones that I have right now (and these feel pretty serious as is).

I am not a normal eater and these physical manifestations of that statement are what I have described above.

I took the summer off thinking that I needed a break from all of the team involvement but what I ended up doing was delving deeper into the causes of my self-neglect. My definition of self-neglect is just plain not taking care of myself and what my body needs. I used these past couple of months well though and I am facing a lot of the things that I know need a lot of work on in my life. I am doing some 'interior housecleaning'.

I have asked myself some tough questions like: what am I doing to contribute to the insomnia? what are the underlying reasons for my depression and anxiety? why am I constantly in pain and what can I (by myself) do to alleviate some of it? what are the fears that I am not facing in my waking moments? These are some basic questions but they are also quite scary to dig into and find out who I am at the core of my being.

Right now, I am in the process of following what is known as a 'low residue' diet. It is designed for those who have IBS. [IF any one wants to know what it consists of, PM and I will give you the list of foods] Most exercises that target the deep abdominal muscles are out. I am currently taking some probiotics as well as some natural supplements known to heal the 'gut'. My progress has been choppy. I keep a detailed food journal so I can note when I have GI flare-ups (and I had a huge one this past Sunday) and I add that food to my growing list of foods I need to avoid (how long I don't know).

As for the underlying causes for my eating behaviors I have made some strides. I joined a History book discussion group as well as my local public library summer reading program and I have reconnected with one of my former favorite pastimes: reading books in history, biographies and mysteries. There are prizes in the summer reading program and I hope I win the massage one. I told the head librarian she could give me the basket full of chocolates (both of us laughing) but chocolate is something that is a trigger now and so that would not be wise! To say that I am stunned and dismayed by that development is an understatement.

I started on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and I noticed that my moods were much different. I am not as emotional and I feel more upbeat. I have been taking a magnesium supplement for over a year but I recently upped the dosage and that has helped with my muscles overall. I have read that anti-depressants help with the inflamed nerve endings after IBS flare-ups so I have begun taking a natural supplement on occasion. I have taken traditional anti-depressants in the distant past and I simply don't feel that the depression that I do have warrants a prescription one. I am not suicidal and I am a relatively happy person. I have asked those close to me and they have agreed that I am more mildly depressed (and they also --I agree-- feel I have good reason to be with the chronic pain and the IBS symptoms).

My general anxiety stems from the financial debt that I share with my husband. Both of us lost our jobs in 2009. He was forced to become self-employed (which he hated). I managed his 'career' (unpaid but I have managerial skills) and I applied for and was accepted for SSDI in 2014. We are 64 and 59 years old respectively and we are facing our future retirement with 3x our present income in debt stemming from that time period. I manage our money (something we both agreed upon). As someone who also has had 'problems' with handling money in the past as part of my addictive behavior I often find it both puzzling and somewhat amusing that I have been doing this for the past ten years. I have steered us through some very troubling waters relatively well and many of my present decisions I am very proud of.
However, it is an added stress (which also impacts IBS) that I have come to accept and live with.

One of the problems that I can not escape is we simply do not have enough money to be able for me to even remotely consider getting the joint replacement surgery that I have needed for 14 years. That is a long time to be dealing with the subsequent pain. Yes, even with insurance, I can not afford (at this time) the out of pocket expenses that will result from surgery. My husband has had skin cancer surgery (which his parents paid for and they are in their 90s) as well as suspicious growths removed from his colon last year (which we paid for and it was no easy task). It is not just about me. I have to wait my turn as well.

I have decided that I am going to look into some updated training (my skill set is outdated) and fortunately I do qualify for some local government training which I am scheduled for an orientation in a few weeks. If I am accepted to one of their programs I will be returning to work in 2018. I feel we need the extra income so we can pay down our debt. I do want us to face the future with significant less debt and I know that this will go far in doing so.

Since I have re-discovered my creative side while being unemployed I have also decided to explore that further. I am currently enrolled in a jewelry design course with the NYIAD. I can't say if I am any good at this but I won't know until I learn the skills and 'see what happens'. I have also decided that I would like to start doing some woodworking and making some small wood projects. Some of this stems from wanting to both save money but also some small projects that I think I could sell to the public. I got this idea after a short 'vaca' my husband and I took (the first real vacation we have had since 2004 when we spent a week in Nashville) in the mountains of northern Georgia. Most of the small towns are 'touristy' but it gave me an idea to approach some of these shop owners and see if I could both sell my jewelry but also some small wood projects (like storage benches and Airondake chairs). You may have heard the term used by older 'folks' " supplementing their Social Security"--well, this is what I am talking about. It is a new worry that a lot of older people have: living longer (which is kind of nice) but then having the money to cover those 'extra years of life' as well.

I also joined a new health center at a very discounted price. $20 to join and $20 every month thereafter. It is gorgeous (well the photos are). I got in on a ground breaking 'deal' by signing up before they have even built it. LOL. The salesman, a very young guy, was more than happy to sell me the 'add ons' but I stopped him and said, "Let's get the thing built first before I agree to anything else!" It is a two story building with everything you could ever want or imagine. It should be ready by mid-winter 2018. So, I have water aerobics (a huge Olympic sized pool) for $20 a month. If I ever get where I can do other things those will be available. Budget friendly. I am excited and can barely wait.

So, laying some groundwork and dealing with some immediate issues as well as planning and preparing for the future. I hope you are too. Life brings problem but that is when we have to become 'problem solvers'. We can do this!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Welcome back, Pam!

    I don't have any actual debt, but I live hand-to-mouth and also have this background stress and worry about what will happen when I stop earning money from paid work. I guess many, many people are in this kind of situation. The jewellery course sounds interesting - good luck with that project.

    1336 days ago
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