Preparing for a New Beginning

So, I didn’t make my goal of a full month without eating out. I suppose I could have if I’d pushed myself even just a little bit to not go for any of those comfort foods. But, I didn’t and honestly I don’t feel too badly about it. I have bigger things on my mind.

A few weeks back I went to see a new neurologist in Wilmar. He was awful. While some of the staff were nice, others seemed to really be unhappy about being at work and treated patients like a bother they had to deal with. I felt really disrespected and not listened to. He prescribed a new medication and told me to come back in January. I thought about it further after I left and decided it was the wrong choice. But, I had to do something. I couldn’t just quit taking my medication, though I had lowered the dose, and I had to see some neurologist somewhere. So, I took advantage of having good insurance and I took the big leap. I called the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. I was surprised to get an appointment pretty quickly. I’m going in at the end of the month.

I’ve had at least three tonic-clonic seizures since August. That’s a lot for me. I usually have a couple months between seizures. I’ve been jerking a lot in recent weeks too. I can’t handle the same level of medications that I used too. I’m trying to, but find I can’t focus, don’t remember things, am just grumpy, and have a dull headache.

I am looking forward to going to Mayo. I know I don’t have a lot of options. I’ve taken 4 different medications now which means a new medication isn’t likely to work. Mayo is known though for being on the forefront of epilepsy research. They are the best in the world, leading the way in surgery, new medicines, and other treatments.

I am finding myself both hoping and fearing the possibility of having a chance at surgery. It feels like it could be a new beginning. I still have a few weeks to wait and don’t know what to do besides just continuing to think about it because I don’t seem to have any other choice, and continuing to write my list of hopes and goals and questions, and being open to ideas.

The Break

I admit it. I didn’t make the full month. I actually broke down on Wednesday and went out for pizza. Then Wednesday night I had a seizure. I had another Thursday morning. So Thursday I pretty much slept all day and Friday I went for pizza again because of a lack of energy and just a feeling I should get some food in my system since I didn’t really eat at all on Thanksgiving.

I’m still feeling beat. I hope I’ll have my energy back by the time I have to go back to work on Monday. I think I did well taking a break from eating out and I may go back to it after the weekend. We’ll see. The real weight loss came with the seizure though. I lost 5 lbs by not eating for a day and a half. I’d rather not lose weight that way, but it seems to be life right now.

One Week In– Still Not Eating Out

I made it through the first week! I will admit that I may have cheated a little on Thursday, but I think it was acceptable. After all Thursday was a big deal in my little town of Morris. It was the annual Parade of Lights. All the businesses downtown open their doors for people to gather in the evening and enjoy some treats and watch the parade. I am not quite sure what originally inspired doing a parade in November in Minnesota, but it’s become a tradition. Every year it seems that the parade is on the coldest day of the season so far. Everyone comes downtown. Crowds wander through the supermarket and make a meal of free samples. Then people gather on Atlantic Avenue. Some happily watch from inside the businesses where they can stay warm and snack on cookies and cocoa and whatever other treats. Others who may be more hardy or just have kids are out on the sidewalks waiting for the candy to be tossed. I did a bit of both, though I didn’t pick up any of the candy. I did enjoy some really good homemade cookies though!

Still, I am proud of myself for not giving in to restaurants this week. I had a few moments when I was tempted. The younger of my two cats, Tickle, got out on Wednesday night when I was bringing the dog in. She’s a four year old house cat and had never been outside. She was scared immediately and the dog chasing her didn’t help. She ran. I spent quite a while with my flashlight combing the neighborhood, but didn’t find her until the next night. She spent a really cold night out alone. First I was tempted to go eat out because I was saddened losing a cat that had belonged to my former foster daughter. Then I wanted to go eat out to celebrate. I did neither. I cuddled with the cat instead. I am reminded though how food can become something to always turn to. That it doesn’t need to be good food. And, that that’s not okay, that I deserve better.

Good things came out of this week. I think I lost about a pound. It doesn’t seem fair that I can gain five pounds in a week and only lose one in that time, but still it’s going the right direction again. I’ve also been only waking up about once a night, down from my two to four times a few weeks ago. I think it helps not to have processed sugar in my system. I also got good exercise this week. I walked. I went to the gym. I did some yoga. Nothing strenuous really in any of these areas, but I was moving about. That’s good. My ankle handled it well and my body and spirit appreciated it.

Still Eating Well

Yesterday was stressful. The day started really well. I found a freshly laundered $20 in the pocket of my pants and I was able to walk to work without my ankle brace for the first time. I had a nice morning meditation and all felt good. In the afternoon though, I got a phone call. I had expected it, but still it made me anxious. The call was from the Mayo Clinic. I’d emailed them over the weekend to see about setting an appointment. They called to set that appointment.

Living with epilepsy is a strange thing. I will go for months without a seizure. Life seems completely normal, except that I don’t know when the next seizure is coming. It’s never far from my mind. After a disappointing visit with a new neurologist last week in which I felt treated with disrespect and no consideration of my experience with my own health, I decided I needed to do something else. I took the leap to schedule a trip to Mayo.

It is both exciting and terrifying to think about going to one of the best medical facilities in the world. Normally, this type of emotional intensity would send me out to eat. After all, I deserve it right? I deserve some sort of comfort or celebration or whatever for setting this appointment.

This time I decided I deserved better, homemade comfort food. It probably wasn’t the healthiest, but it was tasty– scrambled eggs with vegetables, bacon, and cheese. Then went off for a small and super fun yoga class. It was just me and a friend who was leading the session. There were lots of laughs. It was good.

Today had some temptations, but nothing huge. I am wondering about tomorrow though. Wednesdays are often a day for eating out for me.

The First Day

Sundays are a day for me to go to Pizza Ranch. It’s a thing in our little town. A lot of people seem to go there for the buffet after church. I skip the church part, but the buffet has often been part of my Sunday. I am proud to say that this Sunday held no buffet for me.

After a breakfast of berries with yogurt and a little chia seed pudding (and I will admit to some sugar free chocolate chips mixed in), I went to the gym. I’ve just started going back. Today was my first day doing leg weights. The weight was really low, but given that I am healing from a broken ankle just two months ago, I am feeling really good about what I was able to do.

It was a nice day so I took advantage of it and after the gym, instead of going to Pizza Ranch, I took my dog Buddy for a long walk that included some off leash time out in the Pomme de Terre Park. We both loved it.

I don’t know that lunch was totally healthy, but it was a lot healthier than a pop and multiple slices of pizza. I made myself buttered noodles with asparagus and tomatoes and had a little cottage cheese while I was waiting for it to cook. Later in the afternoon I had some fresh pumpkin/ apple bake with a bit of yogurt and berries (and I’ll admit to more sugar free chocolate chips).

The afternoon held a little nap and then working on various projects. I realized something. I realized that my energy is coming back after being really low when my ankle broke. Two months ago I was sleeping all day and night. More recently I was waking up multiple times during the night, but not doing a lot during the day or accomplishing my household tasks. Then I started meditating again and using frankincense in hopes of getting my sleep back and avoiding seizures. Well, I am just waking up once or twice a night now and my house is getting back in order. I’m not sure what, but something is working. My dreams have changed too. They’ve gone from nightmares to strange and entertaining.

Dinner was unusual. I bought tofu yesterday on a whim. I’ve not bought tofu in years. Tonight I threw together the tofu with an array of veggies– broccoli, onion, tomato, garlic, and okra, with a bit of miso, coconut oil, and cayenne pepper and baked it up for about 45 minutes. It was surprisingly good. That’s good because I made enough to have leftovers for a few days.

I snacked tonight on a bit more of the pumpkin/apple bake with berries, yogurt, and chia pudding with more of those sugar free chips. I think the next step may be getting rid of the chips. I can’t imagine they’re at all healthy, but they do taste good.

It was a healthy day and I feel good about it. I hope you all had a good day on your wellness journey as well.

A New Challenge for Me

Okay, tonight’s post is just going to be a short one, but it’s an important one for me to write. About 4 years ago I had my allergies tested and I found that I had a list of mild food irritants. Most are pretty easy to avoid. Buckwheat just isn’t something I’ve ever eaten on a regular basis. But some are harder to stay away from. The truly tough one and the one that really messes with my health is sugar. I have a mild allergy to cane sugar.

Eating sugar is an addiction. It’s an addiction for a lot of us. I do pretty well when I am at home. I don’t bring sugary substances into my house. My problem is that it’s too easy to go out to eat. I will often eat at a cafeteria at work where my meal almost always includes bread made with sugar, breaded mozzarella sticks that include sugar and marina sauce with sugar. Outside of work I’ll go out for pizza which is generally filled with sugar and I’ll have pop which either has sugar or high fructose corn syrup, so basically either sugar or sugar. Sometimes I’ll go out to a restaurant for a burger or something. Again, I’ll have a soda and there will inevitably be something that has sugar in it whether it’s the onion rings or the hamburger bun or something. Then there are the times where I quite simply crash and decide I’m getting a sugary dessert just because. I don’t feel better when I eat like that. Instead I feel my stomach upset and the fatigue that comes with eating poorly.

My addiction has been getting worse in recent weeks since I broke my ankle and my weight has been going up. So, now is the time to detox again and the way I am choosing to do that is to quit eating out, including the cafeteria at work, for the next month. I’ll let myself go if invited by friends or family. I am a person who mostly eats out alone, my family lives far away, and I don’t often meet friends eating out, so I don’t think this will be an issue.

I am hoping the next month will get me back on track, help me lose that 5 lbs I’ve gained in the last two months, get me cooking more good foods, and maybe help me save a few dollars at the same time. I also hope that this challenge will help me get just a little healthier for my next visit to the neurologist.

I hope your health journey is going well!

The Gift of Going for a Walk

I’ve disappeared from the blog-o-sphere for past few weeks. In fact, I’ve disappeared from quite a bit of life but with good reason. You see, about three weeks ago I was laying in bed watching Netflix when suddenly I had a broken ankle. Seriously, that is the truth no matter how strange it sounds. It’s not clear how my ankle was broken, but as I was diagnosed with epilepsy about six years ago, there’s a good chance I had a seizure. I don’t have seizures often, maybe two or three a year. Usually they just leave me with a headache and a sore tongue, but this one didn’t give me a headache at all, didn’t really hurt my tongue either, but it impacted me in other ways. That is, of course, if it was a seizure. There’s still the possibility that it was my dog jumping up on the bed and landing on me. My memory suggests that may have been what happened. My dog’s size, about 35 lbs, makes it pretty impressive that he could cause that kind of damage.

It’s been an interesting journey. The injury happened Monday night. When the pain wasn’t gone and there was some swelling, I decided to go into urgent care on Tuesday. The staff were pretty amazed that I was walking on a broken ankle. I was a bit surprised to learn it was actually broken.

They gave me a cool moon boot and crutches and sent me home to rest. I slept for about a week. It is amazing how much energy it takes to heal. That first week really sleeping was almost all I did. By week two the swelling was down enough that it was time for surgery. I thought with just a block of anesthetic behind my knee that I might get to experience the operation in a conscious state. I didn’t. I slept. Then I spent the night in the hospital so they might monitor for seizure activity. There was none. I did learn that I do not like percocet. Heavy duty painkillers are horrible things. I took it once and refused it thereafter. I really didn’t have any significant pain. At that point, I actually couldn’t feel my foot at all yet so it made no sense to me how the hospital staff kept trying to push painkillers that set my motion sickness into high gear. I couldn’t move without feeling nauseous.

After a few more days at home with my foot up I returned to the doctor and got the okay to return to work with my walker. That’s been the true gift. Before this accident I walked to work, and most everywhere else, every day. In my little town of about 5,000 people, I would typically put on one to five miles a day just doing what I needed to do. Right now, walking a block with my walker is significant exercise. My ankle is healing fast and I’m hoping to get back to a more normal routine in the next month or two, but this is where I am right now.

I find myself thinking a lot of some old friends who taught me about accessibility from their wheelchairs. I am especially thinking of Mark. He was a volunteer when I worked for the Grassroots Leadership College. He had severe physical limitations. I remember him apologizing once when he was late for his shift. He told us how when it was raining the bus drivers would often pass him by. They didn’t want to get wet helping him board the bus. That was just one little example of how the world treated his disability. There were too many others. Eventually, he had enough. He rolled himself down to the lake, propelled his body out of his chair, and landed face down in the water and ended his time being discriminated against.

My experience is nothing like his, but it has been a gift to look at accessibility issues and at how I see myself in this world of varying abilities.

First, I kind of have to laugh at myself. I found myself thinking the other day, as I was trying to open a heavy door without losing my balance, “this would really suck if I really had a disability!” Okay, now I am traveling around on eight screws and a plate, using a moon boot and a walker, because of a broken ankle that was quite likely caused by a seizure. Some might say I have a disability. I don’t really identify with that. It doesn’t make much sense to me. So, there is that, the whole question of what is it to have a disability in the first place? Who gets to decide who has a disability? Why do they have that power?

Then, I have to say “god bless the elders who do this in snow or on hills!” I live in Minnesota so I am thankful that my injury didn’t happen just a few weeks later. Did you know that if you hit a crack in the sidewalk your walker might veer off the wrong direction? Or did you realize that walkers really don’t have very good brakes and can start speeding along on even the slightest incline? I have the gift of being an in shape and strong middle aged woman. I can handle these challenges pretty easily. But, it’s tough for me to imagine what it’s like to use a walker if you don’t have the upper body strength or the sense of balance.

I’ve fallen a couple of times since I broke my ankle. I’ve been able to lean into my fall and land gently. Still, I think to myself what more damage could have done to the already broken spot? Or, thinking again of our elders, I wonder about my hips. It seems that for too many the broken hip is the kiss of death. I have two small steps going into my house. Normally, I barely notice them. Now I realize that they could kill someone.

I’m learning the little things about accessibility from a different perspective and it’s good for me, good for us, to know. One of my first lessons was on my first day back to work. I had to go to the HR office to drop off some files about the incident. HR is on the second floor of Behmler Hall. I’ve worked on campus two years, but don’t go to Behmler all that much. I knew there was an elevator, but I wasn’t sure where.

The bus dropped me off not far from the front entries to the building. It was then I really noticed that both of the main entries have stairs. I had to go down the hill alongside the building to come in a back door to find the elevator. Going down the hill I was thanking my lucky stars that there wasn’t any ice yet and wondering how people make that trek in winter. I also thought about how I’ve been on campus for two years and I had to search to find my way. I wondered about people coming to campus for the first time. How can you feel welcomed if you can’t come in the door?

Thinking of doors, I never really realized before how heavy doors can be. I also never really noticed how often there are buttons on exterior doors to open them, but once you’re in a building interior doors often don’t have that access tool. The building that I work in has, what I had always thought were accessible restrooms. They’re big with room to turn a wheelchair, the sink, soap, and hand dryers at good height. I think there’s even a bar to help getting on and off the toilet. But, those doors are heavy as heck when you’re balancing on one leg and using a wheeled device for mobility.

My experience thus far has been a simple one and there hasn’t been much that I can’t find a way around. I have been given the gift of hearing stories though. I know that there are people on campus who’ve not taken on roles that would both benefit them professionally and benefit the campus community because of the challenges of access in some of our campus buildings.

Sometimes people fight for access and sometimes they decide to just take a different route in life because we can’t all be fighters all the time. Sometimes we just need to live.

I encourage my friends to notice the steps, think about the weight of the door, look at where the furniture is placed, acknowledge the shelves and where supplies are kept. Note these things. Decide for yourself what is acceptable and change what is not.