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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beyond Ready

Well, I did doctor stuff all morning.  I had an appointment for my annual physical early this morning and another appointment for my sonogram after that.  I feel thoroughly violated now.  J  Nothing really out of the ordinary happened except it was a little disconcerting to see among the blood tests my doctor ordered, a couple of tests for ovarian cancer screening.  That is because of the cyst they saw in the MRI.  I feel sure it is nothing, but you have to take the precautions.  Otherwise, she said everything looked really good.
 
I am interested to see my blood sugar level and my HDL, LDL and Triglyceride levels since I have been doing Atkins.  She asked me if I was doing anything to watch my cholesterol.  I stumbled around a little and told her I was on a weight loss diet.  I have read so much about how high cholesterol is not caused by eating things with fat and cholesterol, but she obviously is part of the old thinking.  So this test will be telling to me.  I have always had low cholesterol (it’s heredity).  My paperwork said the last time they measured it, it was 142.  The only thing not good about it was that my HDL was a little low.  But with cholesterol that low, they don’t worry about it.  They said exercise more and that should take care of it.  I eat good fats all the time, but do not eat hydrogenated fats except once in a blue moon (in commercially baked products).  The thing I would like to improve in that area (when I can afford it), is I would like to be eating butter and cheese from grass fed cows and any meat and animal fat I eat to come from naturally raised animals.  It is so expensive to do that!  Mostly I eat olive oil, nuts, avocados and that type of thing.  But I do eat a little butter, and of course eat a lot of meats.  I say that.  Right now I eat some kind of meat, fish or chicken once a day (and sometimes we have eggs), except on one day of the weekend.  So I am not even getting that much of it.
 
The guy doing the sonogram wouldn’t say anything.  I asked if he could see the cyst and he asked, “oh, have you been told you have a cyst?”  So I told him they saw one on an MRI, like last time.  He said he wasn’t allowed to tell me, but I kind of have a feeling it was there.  He couldn’t see everything he needed to see with just the regular sonogram, so I had to have the scope inserted vaginally.  Fun, fun.  I should hear tomorrow.
 
I purchased a cancer policy from AFLAC this year.  It took effect on January 1, but there is a 30-day waiting period.  If I had a diagnosis of cancer during that waiting period, it would not be covered.  I got to thinking about that after my appointments today.  Today is the 30th (the 30th day).  But, God forbid, if there was that kind of diagnosis, it wouldn’t happen from just the sonogram and the blood test.  They would have to follow up with other tests.  But I told my doctor about it and she is aware of it.  The only reason I purchased the policy is that all my kids went off my insurance this year, so I went ahead and used some of the extra funds to purchase it since there is some cancer in my family (my mother had lymphoma and my grandmother had some kind of cancer).  It is a kind of better-safe-than-sorry thing.  I had no idea about the cyst at the time I signed up for the policy and thought that waiting period would be no problem.  And hopefully it won’t.  (And I fully expect this cyst thing to be nothing or minor.)  If you don’t have any AFLAC policies, I highly recommend them.  They have helped me and my kids so much.  I used to have a dental policy, and then later had the accident policy and the hospital indemnity policy (which has been a real blessing with my daughter’s issues).  And now I have the cancer policy.  All of them pay for bills and lost income when you are sick or hospitalized.  It has been a lifesaver, to replace lost income when my daughter has had to be in the hospital the last two years.
 
I started out feeling better today, with my back, than I did yesterday.  I hurt until bedtime last night.  I slept in the chaise, so perhaps that is what helped.  But that will cause my neck to get flared up again.  My shoulders are really hurting.  I am waiting on a call from my doctor’s office.  Goodness, I am ready for my life to not be all about doctors, etc.
 
Toward the end of the day, I am deteriorating again.  My back doctor’s office called back and I told my doctor’s assistant that things seemed to be getting worse, I have no confidence that the injection will work, since the ones in the past have not, and I wanted to skip the injection and do the surgery.  She is going to talk to the doctor and get back to me.  If I can get that done, I am hopeful that I will be on the road to recovery and get moving on with my life.  I am beyond ready.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This Has Gone On Too Long

Walking to work was a little rough this morning.  It was more back and knee pain than anything.  Going up stairs has gotten almost impossible, at least with steep ones.  My thighs just do not have the strength to lift me like they used to.  And that was not a problem a couple of months ago.  I am just very tired of this.
 
This morning I am wanting the comfort of food.  I know food is not really comfort, but that is where my mind is going.  Today is a little different in that I plan to have my main meal at lunch, so hopefully that will help.  The girls both have things to do tonight and won’t be cooking dinner.  When all I have (for the most part) is shakes during the day, I am really hungry when I get home.  I could be pretty dangerous if I got home and had to wait until I cook myself some dinner (and I am usually hurting by that time of day, so being on my feet is not appealing).  So, I have a gift card from Potbelly I haven’t used all of yet, so I’m going to get myself a Farmhouse Chicken Salad for lunch today.
 
After saying that, I was still wanting comfort.  And I was not wanting a shake.  I went downstairs to get a SF Red Bull (which I am having occasionally these days) because I am dragging so much from not sleeping well and having to take the muscle relaxants every day.  However, I took extra money with me, which means I had it in mind to get something to eat.  What did I end up getting?  A banana, along with the SF Red Bull (the breakfast of champions?).  I ate the banana and did not drink the shake.  I realized that, more than wanting something off my plan, I just wanted something different.  And the banana did it for me.  I learned something:  it is perfectly okay to want something different every once in a while.  I did that without adding any calories to what I had planned.
 
I have the picture below hanging on the little tack board at the front of my desk.  It motivates me.  But today I momentarily looked at the old me with a bit of distaste.  My thinking these days about “that girl” is usually a little more understanding.  I know what she went through – she lived in abuse for 21 years and took care of everyone but herself.  When someone tells you often that you are disgusting are that they are ashamed to be seen with you, you start to believe it.  I have a little compassion toward her because, once she started getting well on the inside, the old shell started disappearing.  I realized she is strong when she doesn’t have someone tearing her down all the time.  (And she is now strong enough that she will never allow someone to do that to her again.)  So, I can have compassion toward “that girl,” who has now changed so much.
 
 
One reason I said all that is because I have always had a very hard time loving and being understanding toward the little girl in the first picture below.  That is me in the 6th grade.  Every time I thought of this picture through the years, I have just hated that little girl.  Unforgiveness toward myself has always been a big problem for me.  I am my own worst critic.  I seem to expect perfection.  I thought of the little girl in this picture this morning and wondered why I cannot look at her with compassion.  So I began trying to do that.  When I say the following, please know I am in no way saying I grew up in an abusive environment.  I did not.  This little girl came into the world feeling like she better not make any trouble or people wouldn’t want to have her around.  Subconsciously, there was always this fear of doing the wrong thing.  I was always a pretty well-behaved child, but my feelings about that caused me to go to food for comfort.  And I think the shell of the extra weight was a way of protecting myself.  But mostly it was about feeling like I did not measure up and feeling like I had to earn my right to BE.  That’s a pretty heavy load for a kid to carry.  I am beginning to be able to look back at that little girl and be more understanding.  No, I did not grow up in an abusive home, but there were things that little girl needed that she didn’t get.  I am not blaming my parents.  I understand the situation they were in (as an adult) and I know they were doing the best they could.  I am sure my kids could say the same thing about me in some areas.  But that little girl needed reassurance.  She needed someone to show her that she was special, just because she was, not because of anything she did.  I am only saying this to say, I am now beginning to have compassion for that little girl that I have needed for years, and to be able to forgive her for not being what I thought she should be.  I think that is a huge step in my healing progress.  Perhaps it is in yours too?
 
 
As the day goes on, I am feeling like one big ball of pain.  The sciatic pain is flaring up on me early in the day today.  I am guessing that is from sleeping in the bed.  My shoulders and arms are still hurting from sleeping in the chaise, although they are beginning to improve.  But they are still hurting  I just want to crawl into my little cave today and not come out.  I don’t have that luxury, though.  My backup, who I talked about in my post yesterday, is home trying to get to feeling better today.  Plus I need to save my days off for if I have surgery, plus I want to take some days off for the wedding.  So I have to plow through today.  It’s not that bad, as long as I am sitting down; it is just wearing on me.
 
Later
 
It has worsened this afternoon.  I just need to stay sitting down.  What I often wonder is if part of it is knee pain or is it radiating pain.  Today I know it is radiating pain.  And it hurts!  I worry about being able to walk home and I’m not sure I can get a ride.  I’ve been worrying this day would come.  Not actively worrying, but it has been at the back of my mind.  L
 
Now I know my daughter is going to change her schedule so she can pick me up.  Bless her.  I am hurting in ways I haven’t hurt before and it is concerning.
 
I got home and did anything I had to do that required being on my feet and have parked myself in the chaise on the heating pad for the night.  Except for getting up to go to the restroom, I have stayed off my feet.  I am still hurting even while sitting.  I put a call in late in the afternoon to my doctor.  Honestly, I have no confidence that the injection will help.  I have had at least four of them before.  I already have to wait until Monday for that, and I don't feel like I can wait the 10 days until my appointment and then however long to get the surgery scheduled.  I need this to move along.  I have a job I have to be at and a wedding coming up.  And I have a life to live.  I feel like this has gone on way too long.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Three Days' Worth

Sunday

It's Sunday evening.  I have so much going through my mind and heart.  I have rarely been more motivated to work on my weight loss efforts.  My daughter, Stephanie, is making wonderful progress in her efforts.  She bought her bridesmaid dress for Bethany's wedding substantially too small.  I personally thought she was pushing the envelope to be able to get into it by March.  She has been working out faithfully the last few weeks and working on her eating, although she has been a little up and down with that.  But obviously she has been doing very well because she almost got the dress zipped tonight.  She comes home and talks about her workouts, I read blogs about people's workouts, and I just want to get out there and get to work.

But I can't.  It is so frustrating to me.  At least my eating is going well and I am making progress.  I am thankful for that, but I want so much to get my workouts going.  I have always not only wanted to lose weight, but I want to be fit.  I want to be an athlete.  My motivation is there right now, but my body is in the way.

I tried to get down on the floor to do a modified plank a little bit ago.  But my arms and shoulders are so sore from sleeping in the chair (definitely feels like a pinched nerve), that I couldn't do it.  I do not think I have a permanent situation going on there, but I think I could be in danger of that if this continues.  Definitely don't want to go there again.  I have a week until the injection, and 10 days after that until a follow-up exam.  If I don't get relief from the injection, I want to schedule surgery immediately.  It will still be quite some time after that before I can do heavy workouts.  But it will be the first step.  In the meantime, I will keep with my eating program, and doing what I can to make progress.

I am going to talk to my doctor later this week about hormone replacement therapy.  I have had two people tell me it has made a difference for them, one of them being my sister.  I know there is negative press about HRT, but my sister said that her doctor told her that the research on this is faulty.  The other person said the same thing.  I think it could help boost my weight loss.  It's been so tough to lose the last couple of years.  Low estrogen levels could be the reason for that.  I have also heard it helps with your energy and with depression.  I think it is worth a try.

That's all for tonight.  I just wanted to get some of my frustration out.

Monday

Someone make it stop!  That’s the way I am feeling today.  That refers to the headaches I am getting because sleeping in the chair is causing issues with my neck and shoulders.  At least the back and leg problem doesn’t bother me often as long as I am sitting.  Not so with the other.  Not only the headache, but every time I reach for something, the sharp pain shoots through my arm, and just the general discomfort of the tightness in my neck and shoulders makes me not feel well.  I may try, once again, to sleep flat on my back in the bed tonight.  If I get nothing else out of the injection, I would be happy to have that relief from then until surgery was done.
 
Eating is going well today.  I was supposed to go to a lunch with my boss and some co-workers, but a couple of people called in sick, so it had to be postponed.  I didn’t bring enough shakes for the day, but hopefully I will get through the afternoon without one for a snack.  If not, I will improvise with something.
 
I feel pretty today.  I am wearing a dress I only got into fairly recently, and am feeling better than ever in it.  I have on my boots which are “wide calf” boots.  Soon the “wide calves” are going to be too wide.  They are somewhat loose.  But I can get through the rest of the winter in them.
 
As the day has gone on, the headache has been relentless.  Nothing helps.  I need to get home and take a muscle relaxant.  I pray that I am able to sleep in the bed tonight.  I can’t take much more of this.  I will have to start taking a muscle relaxant during the day and hope that helps.
 
Tuesday
 

I’m hungry this morning.  I try to listen to my body a little bit when it’s like this.  I did not have my afternoon shake yesterday, and I filled up pretty fast on dinner, so didn’t have a lot then.  I ate some frozen blackberries with a tiny sprinkle of stevia and have plans to have my Atkins chocolate shake this morning.  I also have celery, baby carrots and some dill pickle spears if I need them.  I am hungry enough that it keeps coming to mind that I should eat something a little more substantial.  But maybe I should have my shake before I make that decision.  So I did.
 
I slept in the bed last night, flat, with my knees propped, just like I always did before this episode.  I put the cushion from the chaise I have been sleeping on, on top of my bed to hopefully make it a little softer.  It seemed to work, although it was very hard to get out of bed, it was so high off the ground.  I was having twinges in the back of my thigh at first (but I had been looking all over my room for something my daughter lost, getting down on my knees, and pushing furniture around).  I put the heating pad on the back of my thigh and it settled down.  It took me a while to go to sleep, though.  I have ordered me a mattress topper that I hope will help in the same way and not be so high off the ground.  We will see.  The main reason I am encouraged about this is that, already, my neck and shoulders are feeling a little better.  I had the worst headache all day yesterday and that has been building ever since I have had to be sleeping in the chaise.
 
I got busy after I wrote the first paragraph, so did fine the rest of the morning.  I had my second shake and some raw veggies and dill pickle spears at around 1:00.  I was still a little hungry after that, so ate a banana.  It is 3:30 now and I am still feeling satisfied.  If I get hungry I will drink my shake; if I don’t, I won’t.
 
I’m feeling pretty decent today.  No bad headache and the neck and shoulders feel much better.  And no sciatica, so far.  That often will hit toward the end of the work day.  The longer I am on my feet, the sooner it will hit.  Who knows, though.  Maybe one day it will just stop.
 
I pursued gastric bypass at one time.  My insurance would not cover it, I could not self-pay, and so I gave up (and started losing the weight myself).  I am sooooooooooo glad I did (and that the insurance would not cover it).  I have mentioned it before, but my friend at work had it.  I would not wish what she is going through on my worst enemy.  She says (and tells anyone she knows who is considering it), if she had it to do all over again, she would “get off her ass and exercise.”  She is 5’4” (or less) and weighed 350 pounds or so.  Oh – and she is still larger than me.  And with what my daughter has been through (for a different reason), I hope I never have to have any abdominal surgery.  However, if I were so bad off that I had lost my mobility, I would consider having some form of weight loss surgery.  It would have to be like the lesser of two evils.  I am just so glad I have been able to get this far without it.  I am certainly not critical of those who have had the surgery.  I would just hate to see anyone go through what she has been through.  Not only did she have gastric bypass, but some scar tissue wrapped around her intestine and cut it off, so it eventually died.  They removed 3 or 4 feet in addition to what was removed in the gastric bypass.  The two together have created such a situation with her that is very hard to live with.  She has chronic dumping syndrome, which means she has diarrhea, all day, every day.  They are trying different combinations of diet and exercise to try to manage it, but so far, it is not working.  I won’t go into the details of how having diarrhea all the time would affect you, but you can imagine.  If you think of her, please pray for her.  She has also had five kidney stones in the last few months, so has been dealing with both of those things.  My heart goes out to her.
 
I got home and my daughter had dinner cooked -- Tillapia, roasted broccoli and a few sweet potato "fries" (baked).  I've had a few more carbs today than I usually do (except my off day), but it was all healthy stuff and I am sure is fine.  Then I had some hot chocolate and now I am feeling pretty satisfied.  I need to drink my last bottle of water and I will be good.

The guy I went out with in December has started messaging me the last few days, so I am encouraged about that.  I knew he had some things in his life to deal with and I just waited while he did that.  He still does, but things (in his life) are moving along.  I had hoped he could come to my daughter's wedding -- I would have been proud to be on his arm -- but that is not a good time for him to get away from his work, so unless something changes, he will not be coming.  I thought about looking for another "plus one" just to have someone on my arm when my ex is there, but that does not appeal to me.  I am just fine by myself and my heart would not be in that at all.  I'm not into having a man just to have one.  I will be plenty confident on my own.  My ex is the one, during our marriage, who said if something happened to me, he would never remarry (the implication was that he would never want to go through THAT again).  I said I didn't know if I would or not, and his reply was, "Oh you will, in no time" (implying that I was the one who just had to have somebody).  He got married again less than 2 years after our divorce and it has been 10 years since we split up.  So who was more of what he accused me of?  If I ever do it again (and I hope I do), I will make darned sure it is the right kind of man this time.
 
That's is for tonight.  Over and out.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekend Happenings

Saturday

I think I am going to have to face the fact that the week I got down under 244 was a fluke.  The next week I was, at times, 13 pounds above that!  I don't get it, but it happened.  I know that had a lot to do with water retention, but I never have gotten back down below 245 since then.  This morning I weighed 247.6, which was 3 pounds less than I weighed last Saturday.  So I'll take it and just chalk the low weight from 2 weeks ago up to a fluke.

The good news is, I feel smaller today than I have at any time so far.  The apron of fat in my lower abdomen seems to be getting smaller, and I am happy about that.

I went through a bin of clothes in my closet last night -- one that I haven't been through in quite a while -- and there are clothes in there that I can now wear.  I can wear a "new" outfit every day next week!  At times I think I am never going to get down to a 14/16 -- I have so many clothes in that size -- but I know if I keep working at it, I will.  At least the plan I am on right now is working and is doable for me while I can't burn extra calories with a lot of exercise.

The biggest thing I hope will help me this week is that I am not going to eat any sweets on my off day.  Overindulging on that one day really pulls down my progress.  I will have things I don't normally eat -- particularly, some carbs -- but I want the amount I eat to be in control.

So, for breakfast this morning I had 2 slices of raisin toast with a little peanut butter spread on each, and a bowl of frozen (unsweetened) cherries.

We went to Uncle Uber's Sammich Shop for lunch.  I had a pulled pork sandwich, which had coleslaw on it, with some fries.  I couldn't quite eat all of it and I was very full.  It was very yummy!

Sunday

That's all I got written on Saturday.

I got on the recumbent bike Saturday morning.  I felt twinges while I was on it, but the sciatic nerve never fired. I did about 15 minutes and 2.65 miles (I kept stopping because I was in an instant message conversation with someone, so that pulled my miles down). However, I felt very sore when I first got up this morning.  Not like muscle sore, but "fire going through your bones" sore, which is the nerve.  I seemed to do okay the rest of today, but am definitely walking like an old woman like I have been lately.  I think I will try it again in the morning and see how I do.

The rest of my eating yesterday consisted of some popcorn, some hot chocolate, a couple of more slices of toast with peanut butter, and a few nuts.  I never had a real dinner.

I weighed when I got up this morning and I weighed less than I did yesterday.  And that was without taking my BP med yesterday or drinking much water.  That is good, because usually I spend half the week trying to recover from my off day weight-wise.  Hopefully I will have a good loss next Saturday.

My youngest daughter, who has been out of town for the past week, called (they are back in town, but she had not gotten home yet) and asked if we wanted to go eat at the restaurant in Arlington where my son is the Manager.  So we did that.  It is a higher end steak place.  They have a new lunch menu, which has a smaller selection than they have in the evening.  Today was not a carb day, so I wanted to be careful.  I did not eat anything this morning.  I had slept late and I wanted to be careful in case I overdid at lunch.  I had the sirloin salad, which was a mixed green salad with sliced sirloin on it.  It also had grilled squash, asparagus and tomatoes in it, topped with a blue cheese vinaigrette.  Oh yeah, it also had some grilled potato wedges.  It was only two small wedges, and I did eat those.  I had my hot chocolate this afternoon and I just had a chocolate Atkins shake (a little before 7:00 p.m.), so I am on track for a good day today.

Tomorrow is another day which will be outside of routine.  My boss is taking me and some other girls from the office to a nice restaurant downtown.  We usually do this before Christmas, but he was sick on the day we planned on it, so we had to reschedule.  I will just switch my day around and have my usual dinner for lunch and a shake at dinner.  I plan to eat a steak (or other protein) and vegetables, and stay from  carbs.  Meeting my goal is much more important to me than pigging out at lunch.  I'll tell you tomorrow how I did.

My neck, shoulders and arms are really not happy with me.  It's sleeping in the chaise.  I think I'm going to try the bed again, elevated this time.  My neck needs a break.  I hope when I get the injection it will at least allow me to sleep in the bed again.  I am so ready to be through with this.  So ready.

That's it for this weekend.  Here comes Monday again.  Over and out.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Struggles

I am going to be more real here than usual (and I know that is saying something), but just in case someone is following my plan, I want them to have a heads-up.  I had the most miserable night last night – not because of back pain, but because I was so constipated.  I won’t go into the gory details.  Suffice it to say that when you follow this plan, you might want to take a regular supplement to guard against this happening.  Of course, I am also on pain medication (narcotic) and that also causes your system to slow down.  But I have been taking veggie lax tablets every morning and evening that I remember to do it, and I still had a big problem.  I have now started taking Muralax to hopefully help this situation.  It was pretty miserable and I didn’t get much sleep until after about 2:00 in the morning.
 
This, compared to what my friend is going through, however, is minimal.  She had gastric bypass a few years ago (maybe 3?).  She experienced an obstruction in her intestine and had to have, I think, 4 feet of her intestine removed (because it was necrotic), in addition to what was removed in the gastric bypass.  I don’t believe that situation was related to the gastric bypass, but possibly from her hysterectomy.  Something that caused scar tissue to wrap around her intestine.  She is now in “permanent” dumping syndrome with about everything she eats.  That means she has diarrhea all day, every day.  The pain and discomfort she is going through is immense.  They are working on different combinations of diet and medication to see if they can get it under control.  She is to the point where she doesn’t want to eat anything at all.  Yet she still wears a size 20 and is 5’2 (or maybe 5’4” – anyway, looks a lot bigger than me).  It is for this reason that I do not recommend gastric bypass.  With the obstructions my daughter has had, and the problems my friend is having, I don’t want anyone messing with my intestines if it is not absolutely necessary.  Scar tissue can be a serious thing.
 
I have stuck to my plan all week.  I am looking forward to a day off.  I will not eat sugar this time, however.  I just will not be drinking shakes for breakfast, lunch and snack.  We are planning on going to a gourmet sandwich place tomorrow.  They have the best sandwiches ever!  My cubie made some microwave popcorn today and it smelled so good!  She offered me some, but I didn’t partake.  But I think I will have some tomorrow!
 
It’s mid-afternoon and I am hungry.  Hungrier than I have been all week.  I have another shake and some raw vegetables I can snack on, but I don’t want to do it too early.  I’m so glad tomorrow is an off day.
 
I am also tired this afternoon, which is probably another reason I am wanting to eat.  Being tired is a big trigger for me.  It’s probably best I go ahead and have my snack.
 
Beginning on February 1, I think I will do at least one week of a more regular, whole foods diet.  Not before then, because I bought groceries to do the present plan and don’t really have the money to alter it at this point.
 
Finances are rough right now.  My daughter is still not working (although she has been putting out plenty of resumes/applications).  She had two interviews today, and one looks promising.  (She got called back for a second interview!  Yay!)  I think everyone is just now getting up and rolling after the new year.  She really hopes she gets this one, and if she does, that will solve some of my problems.  I have to come up with the money to pay her COBRA insurance, since it would be catastrophic for her to lose her health insurance.  It is over $600.  One of the people she has worked for recently (keeping someone’s kids before the end of the year) still hasn’t paid her.  And her unemployment payments stopped coming through.  She has to take this orientation course, but no one told her that before her payments stopped coming.  Both of those would help in paying her car payment, which I am also going to have to help her with (I co-signed the loan), and the COBRA payment.  I am not saying any of this to blame her.  She is doing the best she can and her biggest problem is her health problems, and I certainly cannot blame her for those.  I also have to come up with the money to pay for my injection and the surgery, should that happen.  My plan is to borrow from my 401(k), but I’m trying to decide just how much I need to borrow.
 
As usually happens, toward the end of the day, the sciatic nerve is starting to fire and I am hurting.  I still have an hour and a half to go.  I took extra medication (doctor sanctioned), but it hasn’t had time to work yet.  I already look like I’m exhausted from the night I had last night.  I just hope this settles down so I don’t have a miserable evening.  I hate that this happens right before I have to walk home.  Sitting is what I need to do to get it to settle down.  I could have someone pick me up, but I have to walk almost as far to do that as to take the shortest route home, so there is no point.  I’ve got 10 minutes for it to settle down.  Ugh.
 
I'm home now.  Hopefully I can stay off my feet for the rest of the night.  TGIF!  Over and out.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Report from Doctor's Appointment

Here is a report from my doctor’s appointment concerning my back.  I am somewhat optimistic after the appointment.
 
The biggest thing causing the sciatic pain is what they call “foraminal narrowing.”  Bone spurs and ligaments that are thickened and enlarged because of the ongoing inflammation (arthritis) have caused the opening where the nerve exits the spinal canal (in this case, the sciatic nerve) to narrow and have pretty much pinched off the nerve on the left side, and moderately on the right side.  This is what is causing me all the pain.  The other issues I have (slippage in two vertebrae (spondylolisthesis) and bulging discs in three) have remained stable and have not worsened.  So that is good.  First we are going to try another epidural injection and see if I get some relief from that.  (To be honest, these injections have not helped me much in the past, but I am certainly willing to give it another try.)  If I do not get enough relief from that, there is a procedure they can do that will clean out the bone spurs and trim up the ligament so the foraminal opening is opened up.  This procedure will not keep me down nearly as long as some of the other things they may or may not have to do in the future, mainly a fusion.  I need to lose more weight for a fusion to be safe, and hopefully that will never have to happen.  I will continue with my weight loss efforts and hopefully there will be no further slippage or anything that could create the need for a fusion.
 
For some reason, after I got this news, I wanted to eat.  And I wanted to eat what I shouldn’t.  I think it’s because I knew I would not be having a fusion in the near future and I didn’t feel as urgent about getting weight off quickly.  I actually stopped at a convenience store and was going to get some donuts.  Then I remembered, I am getting off sugar and I “can’t have” that stuff.  So I started thinking of alternatives.  I was really hungry because I had not drank a shake yet this morning and it was 11:00 already.  (My shakes were not cold, so I hadn’t drank one yet.)  I ended up getting a little container of fresh fruit and ate that in the car.  So I did good with that.  When I got to the office, I drank a shake (I had one at work that was already cold).  Then a little while later, since it was lunchtime, I ate a 100-calorie pack of almonds.  I will probably drink another shake soon, since it is now 2:00.  There is no reason for me to vary my plan right now.  Fusion is not out of the question in the future, if the other treatments don’t help, so I need to keep my weight moving down.  Not to mention being ready for the wedding and reaching my ultimate goal.  So, onward I go.  I was kind of proud of myself.
 
I can’t find a definitive answer as to how long the recovery time is for this type of thing, but I know it will be shorter compared to the other.  So hopefully I can get back to walking and exercising again in the not-too-distant future.
 
My head is really hurting this afternoon.  I wish I could have the injection sooner and move on toward getting better, because sleeping in the chair continues to cause problems.  Ugh.  I just wish I had a solution.  I wish I could sleep on my stomach, but that also bothers my neck.  Sleeping on either side bothers my lower back.  Maybe I need to sleep standing up, lol.
 
I was just reading about losing weight as it relates to postmenopausal women.  It seems like it is so much harder than it used to be.  This article said that it really is not as related to menopause as it is to what we eat.  A diet composed of more fruits and vegetables and fish is recommended.  So tell me something I didn’t know.  I do know higher protein helps.  I think any supplementing of volume needs to be mostly fruits and vegetables.  Staying away from desserts and sugary drinks (sweets in general) was the biggest thing.  Another reason for me to stay away from sugar.  That’s what has always worked better for me.
 
I finally found a good thread talking about recovery from a foraminotomy.  The main person in the thread’s doctor told them to do nothing but rest (with some walking) for two weeks.  I also learned that often during these surgeries, the nerve will get irritated (and already is very irritated) by the surgeon having to work to get the opening free.  So I will likely continue to have sciatica for a while afterward (possibly months) while the nerve is settling down and healing, as well as regenerating.  Nerves heal very slowly.  Walking is encouraged often to help stretch the nerve and increase the blood supply to the area, which aids in healing.  I suspect that my nerve has been clinched for quite some time (my first MRI in 2011 showed that it was severely pinched and I suspect it had been that way for a while before then).  So I imagine this nerve is pretty angry.  But I handle pain pretty well, so as long as it is improving, slowly but surely, I will be fine.
 
My daughter made an omelet for dinner with eggs, sausage, onions, poblano peppers, spinach and cheese.  A little sriracha on top and some diced avocado finished it out.  Yum!  I didn't have my 3rd shake again today.  Just didn't get to it.  I finished the day with some SF hot chocolate.
 
I'd like to fast forward through the next 10 days, and the 10 days after that to see if this is going to work.  I just want to feel better.  I for sure want to be doing better by my daughter's wedding.  We can't have the Mother of the Bride limping down the aisle and crying.  The ceremony is outside and walking on uneven ground, particularly in dress shoes, is not something I look forward to in my current condition.
 
That's all for today.  Over and out.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rough Day

It's been a rough day.  I decided to sleep in the bed last night, flat, with pillows under my knees, just as I always did until this episode started.  I thought, either I'm doing better or not, but I need to know where I stand before going to the doctor tomorrow.  I lasted 15 minutes.  That's all it took before the pain was shooting from my hip down my leg and out my foot.  I moved to the chaise and took medicine, but it took two or three hours before I could go to sleep.

I was still kind of hurting this morning, and this afternoon it started up and only just now let up some after taking extra medicine and taking a hot bath.  I also took a couple of muscle relaxants, so hopefully I will do okay tonight in the chaise and can sleep.

I stayed right on plan with my eating and drank a good bit of water.  The scale is finally starting to move a little.  I did decide to add a few calories in case the problem was that I was not eating enough.  I had a banana with breakfast and a 100-calorie pack of almonds with my lunch.  However, I did not have my afternoon snack, so it was really about the same.  I was busy and not particularly hungry.

That's it.  I'm ready to be fixed.  Over and out.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Unexpected News

I got a voicemail last evening from my doctor’s office.  They must have called when I was walking home from work and I didn’t hear my phone ring.  It was my back doctor’s PA.  She acknowledged that she knew I had an appointment in a couple of days, but she said my doctor had just reviewed my MRI report and told her to call me.  She asked me to call her back.  I have a call in to her, but she was with a patient and I am waiting on a call back.  I don’t know what this is about, but it doesn’t sound good.  I don’t know why she would call when she knows I have an appointment in two days.  This says to me that it is more urgent and they didn’t want to wait the two days.  You will likely get the answers to this at the end of this post, but at the time I write this, I don’t know what is going on.  Of course, all kinds of things are going through my mind.  The scariest thing going through my mind is that they have seen something that has nothing to do with my back.  That is just the product of an overactive imagination.  Last time I had an MRI on my lower back, it mentioned that “bilateral adnexal cysts are seen” and that a ultrasound of the pelvis was needed to check these out.  That scared me at the time.  I had a sonogram and it turned out they were normal cysts that form as part of your monthly cycle and they had already burst by the time I had the ultrasound.  I am sure this is about my back and not something else, but I hate that this makes my mind try to jump to anything and everything.
 
I had a very good day yesterday.  Here is what I ate:
 
Breakfast:
3 celery sticks
Atkins vanilla shake
 
Lunch:
3 dill pickle spears
Atkins strawberry shake
(nice combination, huh?)
 
Snack:
2 celery sticks
Atkins chocolate shake
 
Dinner:
Baked chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese
Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon
 
Evening snack:
SF hot chocolate
 
96 oz. of water
 
That was it and I was satisfied.  Atkins shakes are 160 calories.  I am guessing I had around 1,000-1,200 calories and it was pretty low carb – most of the carbs coming from the hot chocolate.  I will have a similar day today.  I am having baby carrots with my breakfast, which will have a few more carbs than the celery (that is good – I don’t need to go too low carb).
 
If the doctor tells me I need to have surgery soon (that’s what I kind of expect) and the abdominal fat is still an issue, I will likely switch to a strictly liquid diet of 5-6 Atkins shakes a day, just until the surgery.
 
I debated on whether to sleep in the bed or the chaise last night.  The bed feels better on my neck, shoulders and arms, but even sleeping with a lot of pillows to elevate me, the bed makes my lower back hurt and/or causes the sciatica pain to fire.  I elected to wear my neck collar and sleep in the chaise.  But I woke up with even more pain in my shoulders and arms this morning.  It seems I can’t win.  It does feel, though, like maybe the problem is that I close my shoulders in toward each other and that is causing the pain.  So I am going to work on stretching that area back as I go through the day.  I will go back to the bed tonight, and I am going to lay flat (except with pillows under my knees) and see how I do.  If I am better, I need to know it.  If I am not, I need to know that too.  I feel I should not have to be choosing between the lesser of two evils when it comes to sleeping.  I’m ready to move on with treatment.  I am pretty settled in my mind now – I want the surgery unless something drastically improves soon.
 
I will be glad when I have something to talk about besides my back issues.  I am ready to talk about workouts and getting fit.  But perhaps someone is/will be going through the same thing and something I say will be helpful.  And I just need to let it out.  I am glad that I have found an eating plan that is working for me when I cannot get much physical activity.  If I were going backwards weight-wise in the midst of all this, I would be getting really depressed.  Ultimately I want to be eating healthy, whole, non-processed foods.  But right now I am just trying to make progress and be ready for surgery, if that is what happens.
 
I try to guzzle my water when I think about it, to get more down.  Today I am a little stuffed up.  It’s tough to guzzle when you can’t breathe through your nose!  Lol.
 
One thing I am thinking about – if I am going to be out of the office for 4-6 weeks, beginning in the next few weeks, I want to make sure my desk is in as good of shape as possible.  I know people will be “snooping around,” looking for things, so I want it to be organized and tidy, with anything very personal put away.  I did that for a little while until other work took over.
 
I FINALLY heard from the doctor.  It turns out the message was non-back-related.  I have another cyst.  However, the MRI report says it is bigger than the last time and this is abnormal for a woman who is postmenopausal.  Last time I had not gone through menopause yet.  They said they could not exclude two things, one being a benign cyst and the other one being a malignancy.  So I have to have a sonogram.  That's a little scary, but I did a little reading about it and the size of it is small enough where it's likely not malignant (or else they saw it really early).  I am not really worried about it.  I will get it checked out, but I am not going to get myself all worked up about it.  I don't know any more about my back, except that I read the MRI report.  I will find out what she says about it Thursday.
 
That's it for today.  Over and out.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Plan for This Week

Here is my plan for this week.  I want to make sure I have a good loss.  I need to keep moving, for surgery’s sake.  So my plan is to continue with the Atkins shakes breakfast, lunch and snack, and then an Atkins dinner.  The difference is that this week, I will not be supplementing during the day with nuts, cheese, etc.  I can have raw veggies or dill pickles, etc. to supplement, but nothing with a lot of calories.  And I plan to drink 4 24-ounce bottles of water each day.  I should be drinking that much anyway, but usually I am drinking 2-3 on a good day.  Honestly, I like drinking the shakes and having a nice dinner.  Of all the “diet shakes” I have had, the Atkins shakes are the best.  They actually taste pretty decent.  I don’t crave them, mind you, but they don’t make me gag like a lot of diet shakes would.  And I like not having to give any thought to what I am eating for breakfast and lunch.  It’s working for me right now.
 
I also plan to have no sugar.  No small piece of hard candy after a shake.  No sweets on my off day.  I just need to leave them alone.  I will make a decision when the time comes whether I will make an exception for a very special occasion (like my birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas).  One thing that has improved is my ability to leave them alone when I set my mind to it.  But not when I am eating them on a regular basis.  If I decide to eat them on my off-day, I tend to eat way too much on that day.  It is better for me to leave them alone and keep my mind closed to them as far as my day-to-day plan.  That’s just for me.  I am not saying that is what everyone needs to do.  But if I eat them, I want them all the time and a little is never enough.
 
Also in my plan this week (and I only decided this since I got to work today) is that if I am not in the midst of an active episode of the sciatic nerve firing, I will do a recumbent bike workout (with no resistance and a relaxed speed) each day.  The best time for this is first thing in the morning, I think.  Unless something happens during the night that sets one off (which generally has not happened when sleeping on the chaise), I am not having a problem with the sciatica first thing in the morning.  It is generally after walking around too much that I will have the problem.  Weight bearing seems to be what sets it off (aside from lying flat in the bed).  I just want to do something to get a little bit of activity.  That being said, I may not be able to do one today if I have any trouble during the day today.  But tomorrow, I will get up early enough to hopefully do a 30-minute ride (but will play it by ear when I am actually on the recumbent bike).  Something else I think I am going to try is to do a modified plank every day.  A good friend of mine, who has had back surgery, recommended that I do this to help with my core strength.  At the time he recommended it, I was not having as bad of problems as I am now.  I never got started because we were moving right then and I was going to wait until things settled down after that.  That’s when the bad back pain started.  The plan is to do a plank from the knees and hold it for 30 seconds, to start with.  Then, each week, or few days, or whatever works, add 5 seconds.  At least it is not weight bearing and does not require any bending of my back in a bad way.  I will have to try one to see how it affects me and go from there.  Core strength is very important with back pain, and in recovering from surgery.  One thing that may be a problem, though, is the shoulder and arm pain I am having right now.
 
I slept in the bed last night; however, I woke up with a lot of back pain (not radiating pain) at around 5:00 this morning.  I moved to the chaise and felt so much better.  I wore my neck collar last night and that seemed to help my neck and shoulder issues a lot.  So I will keep doing that every night, without fail.  I am having more headaches right now because of the flare-up with the neck.  L
 
Reading online about people’s experiences with a lumbar fusion is scary.  My daughter had the surgery and it was not nearly as bad as what I have read online.  I don’t know what to think.  But I have had a cervical fusion and I know what that is like.  So I am going to read about that and get the general feel of what people said about recovery.  If there is a lot of negative, I will know that people who post about it tend to be more negative than I am because, honestly, the cervical fusion was not that bad for me.  When I woke up from anesthesia, I was quite aware that I felt infinitely better.  I went back to work in less than two weeks and did fine.  I have been told I have a high pain tolerance and I think that is true.  It’s not that I didn’t have discomfort after my cervical fusion.  I did.  But it was not anything that I could not work through.  I suspect it will be that way with my lower back (although I know it will take me longer than 2 weeks before I can go back to work).  If I can be back in 4-6 weeks, that will be great.  Reading last night, I became worried that I would have to be gone so long that I would lose my job, or at least my position.  I hope the FMLA would protect me from that.  If my daughter does not get a job by then, it would be nice if she could go in as a temporary for me.  She does not have my skill level, of course, but she could help the lady who is my backup in doing some of the less skilled things so that my backup would not be as overwhelmed with having to carry my load.  Whether they would do that here, I do not know.  But at least I would have eyes and ears about what the attitude was with my absence that way.  One thing that scares me is that the lady who worked for my boss before I did (for 20 years!) wants to come back here and would do just about anything to work for him again.  One good thing is that she works for the firm that is opposing us on our big suit, so to bring her in at this point in time would not smell right and would make them a lot less likely to do that.  I really do not think they would anyway, but you tend to worry about these kinds of things when you are going to be out for an extended time and you work for the big boss.  :/
 
My boss came in this weekend and left a long dictation tape.  He rarely does that.  Usually he comes in and we work together.  When he dictates, he dictates with me sitting in front of him.  But I like coming in to a lot to do.  So I’m a happy camper.
 
I have now done some reading about recovery from cervical fusion surgery (I had a double fusion in 2011).  My conclusion:  you read a lot more negatives than positives on these boards and my experience was much more positive than most I read.  I can see that a lot of the symptoms I had for months after surgery were part of the recovery from the surgery (as opposed to the surgery not working).  Some things that I thought I was just going to have to live with have now improved.  Like the bad headaches.  I think that was more part of the recovery because they got a lot better, the further out from surgery I got.  It was hard to know because I had headaches for so long before surgery.  That is one reason I want to be really careful right now with my neck.  I was getting used to not having them all the time and this flare-up caused by sleeping in the chaise has brought them back a little bit.  But all of these things that went along with recovering from the cervical fusion let me know that what other people think are a huge deal that keeps them from going back to work, I tend to just deal with and work through them.  So I feel more optimistic about being able to get back to work in 4-6 weeks, as opposed to being off for months, with the lumbar surgery.
 
There are other things that make me think I need to go ahead with surgery very soon.  My legs are getting weaker.  I read some people describe it as walking through deep snow.  I have had that feeling for a long time.  Or tiring so much like I was walking uphill all the time and legs just didn’t want to move as easily as they should.  Now I have noticed that my legs are so weak, I can barely climb stairs.  To lift my body weight from one step to the next has gotten very difficult in the last few weeks.  It was not like that before because I was climbing stairs at the loft for extra exercise not that long ago.  This is not a good sign.  I think putting it off longer will bring more nerve damage.  It’s time to get this done.
 
2-1/2 bottles of water down.  I’ll get this one done by the time I get home, so I just have one more this evening!  Looking forward to dinner – my daughter is cooking baked chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese.  You need to try this if you are eating low carb.  Sooooo good. 
 
I’ve been very twinge-y and sore all day, but no bad pain so far, thank the Lord.
 
Dinner is done -- the pesto chicken and some roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon.  I'll let that settle a little and then have some hot chocolate.  That should fill me up sufficiently.
 
I've written enough for today, so will share some more pages from my motivation book tomorrow.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Checking In

It's been a quiet weekend.  I have not done much physically.  My neck, shoulders and arms are really bothering me because of sleeping in the chaise, while I am at the same time trying to protect myself from the sciatic pain.  I slept in the bed the last couple of nights, elevating myself quite a bit with pillows.  That has kept the sciatica at bay, but hasn't helped the neck stuff very much.  Hopefully it will with time.  I am just so ready to feel better.

My weigh-in showed a gain.  I don't understand that.  I certainly ate in such a way that I should have lost weight.  Hopefully it will balance out soon.

I ended up taking the whole day off, eating-wise, yesterday.  I don't think that is a good idea.  I was out of control on sweets.  Once again, I know I need to just stay away from them, so that will be my goal in the next week.  Aside from the sweets, my eating was fine.  What got me going was that my daughters were having a party and made cupcakes.  Those are always dangerous to have around.  But I have to learn to resist, no matter what the circumstance.

The good thing is, I got things right back together today.  I still stumbled on Sunday last week, so that is an improvement.

I have caught up on my blog-reading this weekend, and that gets me really wanting to work out.  But I really can't right now.  Doctor's appointment Thursday.

That's all for today.  I just wanted to check in.  Over and out.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Possible Surgery and Financial Forecasting

Wednesday
 
I got on the scale last night and was a little bit appalled.  Not taking the BP med really makes a difference.  I also took my blood pressure this morning and it is still a little elevated.  Not too bad, but not as low as it should be.  So I called to get my BP med refilled and will be going in for my annual physical in the next couple of weeks.
 
It is difficult to not let something like that affect you, but I know why I am showing the big gain.  I have been doing well enough this week that I should be showing a loss.  Hopefully by weigh-in day, that variance will be balanced again.
 
My plan this week is to have a splurge meal, not a splurge day.  I was following a much stricter plan last week, but since I am eating a regular dinner every night this week, I am just going to do one meal off.  Otherwise, I spend the whole week trying to recover from what I ate that one day.  I will have a regular Atkins day, except for the one meal.  Not the shakes on that day.
 
I felt pretty good most of the day yesterday.  I decided to try to sleep in my bed last night.  I went to bed after 10:30, and by Midnight, I was starting to feel the pain go down my hip and leg.  So I got up and moved back to the chaise.
 
I did not do the recumbent bike this morning, mainly because my alarm did not go off.  I thought my phone had plenty of charge in it, but evidently it was not a good connection when I was charging it because it went dead during the night last night.  I did do the arm work last night and, unless I work late, there is no reason I cannot do the recumbent bike tonight.  I may also do a little strength training that does not involve my lower back.  I want to keep doing arm, shoulders and upper back work so I will look as good as possible in whatever I wear at my daughter’s wedding.  2 months from tomorrow!
 
I read a really good article about mind power tips to be healthier.  I am already putting some of them to use.  One thing she says is that she likes the term “releasing weight” better than “losing weight”.  I do too, so that is the term I am going to use.  I highly recommend you read the article.
 
I am using my motivation journal a lot right now.  I wanted to show you most of the illustrations I have put together.  I made the journal by listing all the reasons I want to release weight.  I filled in some more after I made my initial 24 or so, so that is why the numbering is the way it is.  There are a couple that are too personal to share (have to do with a particular person, or something like that, so I’ll keep those to myself).  Here are a the first few:
 
1.  I want to be free from everyday pain.
 
 
1a.  I do not want to become crippled with pain.
 
 
2.  I want to win this battle I have fought my whole life.
 
 
2a.  I don’t want to feel like a neurotic, sugar-holic, secret-eater, food thief.  (Anyone ever felt like this?)
 
 
3.  I want the healing I have found on the inside to show on the outside.
 
 
I will post some more tomorrow.  I read these through when I am struggling and when I want to remind myself why I am doing this.  Why am I turning down the donuts in the break room?  Why am I drinking this shake for lunch, again?  The visualization part of it has helped a lot.  I highly recommend it.
 
I wrote all that, and then later in the day, I tripped up.  I know what caused it and I will be prepared next time that situation comes up.  I had to do the switchboard for lunch, and I went up there pretty hungry.  There is a candy bowl up there and I got into it.  One thing led to another and I didn’t end up having a very good day.  Could have been much worse, mind you, but still not on plan.
 
I also had another episode with my sciatic nerve and by the time it was time to go home, walking home was kind of iffy.  I have to walk a ways anyway, even if someone picks me up, so I just walked the shortest route home and gritted through the pain.  Consequently, I did not do the recumbent bike.
 
Thursday
 
I am writing what I remember about Thursday on Friday.  I pulled myself together on the eating and had a good day.  I was back on my BP med, so in a few days I should be balanced out again.
 
I had another episode of sciatica Thursday – a pretty bad one.  I was either going to have to take more med or go home.  Actually, if I had gone home I would still have taken more medicine, so I took it and waited to see if I could make it through the day.  It took a while, but eventually the pain was better and I was able to finish out the day at work.  I don’t know many people who could do what I did yesterday after taking 20 mg of Hydrocodone.  Most people it either makes them loopy, puts them to sleep, or wires them and makes them nauseous.  For me, I got a little sleepy (and drank a SF Red Bull to combat it), but otherwise, I am able to function.  Pain relief is its main effect.  My boss and I went to our office where we work and he dictated a long agenda while I typed it.  He made one small addition to it after reading it over, but found no typos.  I guess I am blessed that it does not affect me like it does most people.
 
Friday
 
So far, today, I am doing fine with my plan.  The scale is being stubborn right now, but I know I should be losing and hopefully the scale will respond soon.  I am very motivated.
 
I am having increasing pain in my neck, shoulders and arms from sleeping in the chaise lounge.  I know the problem comes when I rest on my elbows, which pushes my shoulders up and my neck down between my shoulders.  I am sure that puts pressure on the nerves, as well as just makes me sore and tight.  It also leads to headaches and I don’t want to get those started on an ongoing basis again.  I need to find a way to sleep that does not set off the sciatica, and does not create these neck problems.  I feel this is the reason I developed the problems that led to the fusion surgery in my neck.  I had been sleeping in a chair for 3 years because it hurt my lower back to sleep in the bed.  Since I got my tempurapedic mattress, I had been able to sleep in the bed until recently.  Now, lying flat seems to set off the sciatica.  I think I will try tonight sleeping in the bed, but sleeping in a more elevated position that keeps the bend in my back, but does not allow me to rest on my elbows.  I am also going to wear my neck collar again and try to get the pain there to settle down.
 
Honestly, I am ready to get this lower back thing taken care of.  Even if I still had some pain in my lower back, if the radiating pain is fixed, that would be an enormous improvement.  I also am anxious to get started on some exercise.  I know it will be a good while after back surgery before I am able to do much in the way of exercise, but just being able to walk for exercise would be good.  My daughter has been telling me how using the rowing machine is good for her and I want to try that.  I could do that now, on a good day.  It’s just hard to know what is going to set something off, and it hurts enough to where I have become afraid to set something off.  I wouldn’t feel quite as afraid on the weekend, since I could just go home and medicate until the pain was under control, but I am reluctant to set something off on a work day that will keep me from being able to work.
 
As an example, I was just in my file room.  I bent over to look in a drawer and took a step forward, and all of a sudden pain is shooting through my calf and down my foot.  At first I had this thought that it was something in my leg that was the problem (even though I knew better), because the pain was not shooting down my thigh like usual.  I went to my desk and sat down and that is when I felt it all connect up from the lower back down.  I just never know what will set it off.  I can just shift in my chair sometimes and it fires.
 
One of my concerns with having back surgery is financial.  Not only the cost of the surgery itself, but missing work.  To be fully prepared to make my decision, I calculated what my likely income would be if I missed 4 weeks or 6 weeks from work to recover from back surgery.  With the sick leave and vacation time I have available, short-term and long-term disability insurance, which would kick in after 2 weeks, plus the AFLAC policy I have which would cover hospitalization and a benefit for the surgery, but then taking into consideration I would not be getting the usual overtime I work, I could be out a full 6 weeks and still have more income than I would if I worked with my usual amount of overtime.  That is comforting.  I would have to be gone quite a long time before it would have a negative effect on my income.  It is the AFLAC policy that is the big help there.  I am so pleased with how AFLAC has helped with my family issues, including my daughter’s health issues.  It is such a great benefit.  I go to the doctor next Thursday and will make my decision based on what she says.  But I am pretty ready to do something about it.  What I have long “feared” – loss of mobility – has come to pass.
 
I have continued to do well with my eating through the afternoon.  Sometimes after I drink a shake, I like to have a mint to kind of get the taste out of mouth.  Someone put some little candy canes in the break room, so I took some back to my desk, just to have a little piece of one after I drink a shake.  It is surprising to me how much even that little bit triggers cravings.  I wanted to eat them all up.  But I didn’t.  Good Lord, sometimes you just have to challenge yourself and say no.  My daughter had me print off some motivational quotes yesterday, and one of them said:  “You’ve come too far to take orders from a cookie.”  Yes I have.  That also applies to a candy cane.
 
Steph had dinner ready when I got home -- grilled (thick) pork chops with sautéed onions and melted pepper jack on top (my addition), a half of a baked sweet potato and some roasted Brussels sprouts.  Yum!  I could get used to someone having my dinner ready when I get home all the time, which is how it is with my daughter living with me.  For "dessert" I had some of my hot chocolate, which I find very satisfying.  I've got to drink down another bottle of water and I'm done for the day.
 
TGIF!  Over and out.