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Monday, June 1, 2015

I Am So Over This


I have started posts and not finished them the last few weeks, but today I really need an outlet.

You might think the reason I have not posted is because I have been “off the wagon.”  That is actually not the case.  I have followed through with my wheat-free, low-carb plan and am making slow progress.  But my body is really messed up in a multitude of ways, so it is slow going.

One thing that has had a big effect is I injured my knee about 3 weeks ago.  I have the left knee that I already need a knee replacement on, but this was the right knee.  I had been having so much trouble with sciatica (also on the right side) that mobility was getting difficult.  I was feeling like I did leading up to my back surgery last February, except that was my left side.  That Friday I asked my daughter to pick me up from work because getting around was painful and difficult.  I got in her car and pushed down on the floorboard to shift my weight in the seat, and there was a definite pop at the back of my knee.  Not the kind of pop like when your bones pop, but the kind that felt like a ligament or cartilage or something like that.  The pop was followed immediately with immense pain.  It hurt so bad, I was giving thought to going to the ER.  After the initial hurt, it hurt particularly when I moved it sideways or twisted it a little, but was extremely sore.

I have a lot of experience with ERs, with all of my daughter’s physical problems.  I knew they would probably prescribe something for pain and tell me to follow up with a knee doctor.  I had stuff for pain, so I decided to do my best with it over the weekend and get in with my knee doctor on an emergency basis on Monday.  That is what I did.  Nothing really showed up on the x-ray and the pain I had been feeling was not manifesting itself with the things he did to my knee in the office visit.  He said probably what happened was a “Baker’s cyst” had ruptured.  I looked that up and it did sound plausible.  He gave me an injection in my knee, told me to stay off of it a couple of days, and that was that.  It did begin to start feeling better after a few days and I credit the injection for that.  I am supposed to follow up in 6 weeks (from when it happened).

However, anytime I had to walk before it started feeling better, I had to walk with a severe limp.  That caused other things in my body to respond negatively.  I began to have this pain in my left shin, which after a couple of days began to travel (the more I was up and around) and it began to feel suspiciously like sciatica on my left side.  It started “connecting up,” shooting from my lower back, down my hip to that place in my shin and it got worse.  I was extremely discouraged with this, because that is what I had surgery for last year and if it was coming back, that meant the surgery didn’t really do what it needed to do.  The only other thing they could do is a fusion and they cannot do that until I get at least 80 pounds or so off.  So I was bracing myself for living in a lot of (more) pain for months to come.

I made the decision to get me a mobility scooter.  I felt if I could stay off of it and keep from walking so off balance, it might help it settle down.  I rented one for 3 days and it did seem to help it.  I only used it at times I had to do “a lot” of walking, like to and from work, and going to the grocery store (but stayed off my feet as much as possible).  So I decided to buy one.  I have done that, although I am still waiting for it to come in.  In the meantime, I am using a loaner.

The sciatica on the left seems to have cleared up, so I am hoping it was more muscular related and not because my spine was pinching off the sciatic nerve on the left side.  However, the pain in my right knee is beginning to creep back as the injection wears off.  So I am back to both knees hurting substantially, and sciatica on the right side.  I had an MRI on my back Friday and we will see what happens.  I feel I am probably headed to the same type of surgery on my right side as I had on my left (decompression – clearing out bone spurs, thickened ligaments, etc. that are pinching off the nerve; remember, all these things are caused by inflammation, but there is no undoing them through diet).  I do plan to get one epidural injection and see if it helps, more to please my doctor and the insurance company than anything.  Then at some point I need to have a knee replacement on my left knee, and the doctor said I will likely be needing one on my right knee in the next few years, but I am not there.  However, there is still the pain from the injury coming back, so I don’t know what is happening there.

So, that’s what has been going on the last 3 weeks.  The good news is, the headaches are substantially better.  Not completely gone, but improved to a degree where I know wheat was the culprit.  If I eat something questionable, they come back with a vengeance.  Like the other day I ate some lettuce wraps from an Asian restaurant.  I knew that probably had some wheat in them (soy sauce has wheat, if nothing else had it as an ingredient).  The next day I had a baaaad headache.

I am working really hard on my diet.  I am learning what damage has been done to my body through insulin resistance, inflammation, etc.  It is going to take some time for it to heal to where I get to feeling better.  And some things (like there being no cartilage left in my left knee) cannot be undone.  I am hoping that other than a decompression on my right side and the knee replacement on the left knee, I can get by without ever needing any other surgeries that have been mentioned, like a knee replacement on the right and a fusion in my back.  I am hoping that a turnaround with chronic inflammation will keep what cartilage I do have left in my right knee from being broken down and the decompression surgeries to be all I need on my back.  The biggest thing is to get the weight off.

After doing some more reading, I know there are further changes I need to make to get things really moving.  Because I am pre-diabetic, I have to be really careful about the number of carbs I eat, and about eating things that spike my blood sugar.  Even fruit creates too much of a spike if I eat too much (I have checked insulin responses with a glucose meter).  So, instead of a cup of strawberries (which would be fine on a “normal” weight loss diet), I can eat 3 or 4 strawberries, or a few slices of apple, or a half a peach.  I have been dabbling in “healthier” sweeteners, like honey, but for people like me, I need to stay away from them until my metabolic system has had time to heal and I lose the weight I need to lose.  So I will limit my “sweet” eating to the little bits of fruit mentioned above.  I am keeping my carbs very low (a little sweet potato or rice occasionally), but while you are in weight loss mode and while you are getting your insulin response to things healed up, it needs to be minimal.  I am evidently quite sensitive to wheat and it has done a lot of damage to that aspect of my health.  The goal is to have no rise in my blood sugar from what I eat (which my insulin responses are healing).  A cup of strawberries will make it jump 20 “points,” not that bad for diabetes purposes, but not what he instructs for helping the body heal up.

I feel very discouraged right now.  Not like giving up.  Just tired of coping with pain all the time.  I am trying to do all I can to get better, although I am not doing any exercise right now.  I am going to try to get back on the recumbent bike now that the knee injury has somewhat settled down and I am going to try to get in the pool or the hot tub at my loft community to get moving a little and do some stretches in the water, etc.  I was waiting on a cover-up I ordered to come in, because I felt self-conscious going down to the pool in my swimsuit, but it came in, so need to get started on that.

One “problem” I have been having is it takes so much time to cook and prepare the food I need to eat like this.  You need to eat “real” food, exclusively, and you cannot depend on food at restaurants to not have something “bad” in them.  I do eat out some, but I try to ask if something contains wheat, etc.  I had an all-day cooking day yesterday to prepare the food I would need for the week, so weekdays would be easier.  So, that is good, but I am paying for it today because I was on my feet way too much yesterday.  My plan this week is to work on portion sizes and to increase water.  (Increasing water is difficult because it makes me have to get up and go a LOT, and when you are hurting, you know….  It is too inconvenient to use the scooter for that.)  As for portions, my appetite has decreased so much that I don’t think that will be too difficult.  I just now read the part in Wheat Belly where he lists a sample week of eating.  I am trying to pattern my portions after that.

Here is an example from what I cooked for this week.

Breakfast:

1 small serving breakfast casserole (egg, bacon, cheese)
About 10 almonds
3 strawberries

Lunch:

Chicken “Tortilla” Soup (no tortilla – just chicken, broth and vegetables with a Mexican flair)
“Side” salad (no meat) with chipotle vinaigrette
3 strawberries

Dinner:

Lettuce wraps (homemade this time)
Raw veggies or a small salad
1 stick of cheddar cheese, if I still feel hungry

Snack (only if needed):

A few almonds (put a few in a baggie so I wouldn’t eat more than necessary)

Bear in mind that I first read Wheat Belly (and Grain Brain) as an answer to my headaches, so I skipped around some.  I had to go back and finish reading the end of the book, so am just not getting to some of this.

Another thing I am going to change after this week is my use of “cured meats,” like sausage and bacon.  He lists them as foods you should not eat.  I cannot remember if he says in the book why, but I have the idea it had something to do with pain.  So, I can buy some uncured bacon and sausage (or make my own).  I was just reading about it last night, so I will go ahead with the supply I have on hand (they are okay on Atkins and Paleo), but try it without it next grocery trip to see if they makes a difference in my pain levels.

I am so tired of hurting.  I feel willing to do almost anything to get to feeling better.  I know weight loss is a HUGE component of that, and I want to do everything I can to get weight loss moving so I can feel better.

I have felt at the point of tears a lot of the time the last week or so.  I am so tired of dealing with all this.  My friend thinks I am putting too much pressure on myself, but living with the pain is so much worse than the efforts I am talking about here.  I am so over this.  I don’t know how much of a pain-free life I can expect, but I do know that a loss of 100-150 pounds would have to have a huge effect.  Moving forward is my number one priority.

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