Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chocolate milk

Little tiny things can make, break, or just help get through a day sometimes. Grocery shopping today, I was cheered by the fact that Nestle Quik comes in sugar-free. I bought some and got to have a guilt-free glass of chocolate milk this afternoon. Protein is going to be increasingly important after surgery, so milk, string cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese will remain my close companions. Adding up my protein grams every night as well as the calorie count has been crazy; most days I make it to the 60-80 gram range where they want me without a problem, but a "bad day" it hovers at maybe half that. The nutritionist said protein would help me heal after surgery, whatever that means--the inside of my stomach, I guess, since this is going to be laproscopic surgery.

There is something incredibly comforting about a glass of chocolate milk.

Snap, crackle, pop

Yesterday my ankles were popping and cracking and felt a little weak, so I didn't want to go for a walk on the street in case the bum one gave out again. I decided to do one of my DVD workouts inside, so I did "Rockin' Body" with Shawn T--the "Hip Hop Abs" guy. (I can make it through about 15-20 minutes, which is to say, not much past the warm-up.) They move pretty fast, but as long as I march or move at the same pace, I call it good. (Obviously I'm not going to be as smiling and oiled up as the people on the DVD.)

So I made it 20 minutes and quit when I was tired and had a good heart rate. I felt okay at first, but about ten minutes later I realized my bum ankle was sore--sore enough to want to stay off for the day. Since it has given out several times, and always at an inopportune time, I wanted to baby it, and I did. By the time I went to bed, it felt just about normal.

So I wake up this morning and the pain has left my ankle altogether, but has traveled and settled into my hip. The bum ankle and hip are both on the left side--both have been broken in the past. The left hip has been enough of a bugaboo to warrant cortisone shots; I have a tight IT band. The orthopedists' solution was physical therapy and stretching, which were marginally helpful temporarily. They suggested surgery, but I just could not see that and would rather take the three cortisone shots a year or whatever is allowed, but it's been years since I had a cortisone shot in my hip. Mostly I just deal; if it's really bad, I take a muscle relaxer. Which is probably the course of action for this afternoon, after all the errands are done.

I have always felt like an old person on the inside, but somehow it was easier when the physical outside seemed young--at least it was a physical contradiction that was tangible and could be argued when I felt like an old shoe someone threw up in. Now my outsides are rapidly morphing to match the insides; I'm finding that a wee bit depressing.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Light sour cream

Light sour cream? Tastes like ass.

Yeah, I said it.

Basset hounds

I went to a local "Basset Bash" this weekend. I love Basset hounds, have always wanted one, but don't have a fenced yard (Washington Basset Rescue told me this was a requirement because they like to visit people) and, in theory, am not home enough in real life when I'm not amidst this midlife economic, health and career segue. I love their long velvety ears, soulful eyes, and overall sweetness. Some people have told me derisively that they are "stupid", but that's in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? I couldn't believe how many of them, when they see a person--any person--started to wag their tails and wanted to be pet, even though it was cold and rainy and some of them were wearing costumes. This unadorned guy turned out to be my favorite shot of the day; I have a bunch more on my Flickr site.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another day of TCB

Today was bill-paying, laundry, post office, Costco day. I can't complain about going to Costco, since one of my dearest friends just had her husband take her there for their 21st anniversary--not to get her a present, but to buy groceries for the household. (That is about 87 kinds of wrong. Guys? Writing a nice love note still costs absolutely nothing.)

I was doing my strength training exercises yesterday while watching the World Figure Skating Championships on TV. It was discouraging to be tired from doing reps with 2-pound weights when these incredible athletes are jumping and spinning and dancing on ice, but I never claimed to even be of the same species as world-class figure skaters. I just enjoy watching that sport and always have.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hello, lover!

Two nice-looking gentlemen of Latino descent--one of whom was named Angel and certainly looked more than a little like one (I find Latino gentlemen particularly easy on the eyes, always have; I'm married, not dead)--delivered our shiny new fridge this morning. It's so pretty and clean, I almost don't want to put the magnets back on it. Almost. (I'm a fridge-magnet addict. They fit everyone, you know.)

I've never had a new fridge before. I used to order them in lots of 15 for the job I had in subsidized housing, and I'll be damned if this wasn't the same fridge I used to order! Good old no-frills Hotpoint workhorses. They have cool doors designed to hold gallon containers and Costco-size jars of mayonnaise, and the crisper drawers have handy little vegetable symbols on one side and fruit symbols on the other.

After I got all the food back in it and surveyed this wondrous new appliance, I thought about "Sex and the City", when Carrie would see new Manolo Blahniks in the shoe-store window and say, "Hello, lover!" It isn't so much the stuff in the fridge that plagues me, however; it's the damn candy aisle. My addiction du jour: Doves Promises, the milk chocolate, Bananas Foster flavor. Drool.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The recent behavior of my cats (I have a total of three) has led me to reflect on instinct.

One of my cats always wants to be where I am, and sometimes will sit and stare into my face for half an hour or more--which I still find disconcerting, even though I've had him for five years. Almost every time he does it, I say (or at least think), "WHY is this crazy cat staring at me?" I've never been fond of being looked for extended periods of time in general, and I've never had any person or animal do it with quite this amount of intensity. He will never sit on anyone's lap and hates to be picked up, but yesterday he was systematically bringing me all of his toy mice, and then jumping up in my face to see what I thought of them. He gives a loud meow and puts one paw on me if I don't respond enthusiastically enough to his gifts or to his presence in general. He does this almost daily--I think it's a combination of his natural prey drive instincts and in effect telling me, "See? I do love you, even if I don't sit in your lap like those other saps."

My other two cats are a matched set of tuxedo boys and were about three months old when they were found behind a dumpster at a business park where I used to work. Everyone in the office fell in love with them; they were healthy, loving, and purred a lot, but no one could take both of them but me and I didn't want them separated. They absolutely clung to each other for the first year or so--they even cried to be put in the same cage when I took them to the vet to be neutered, which melted the hearts of everyone who worked there. They still play and interact like siblings, wrestling, chasing each other, and settling down for the occasional snuggle, but one is much more aggressive and independent than the other. The less aggressive one actually snuggles more often with Mr. Prey Drive than he does with his brother now.

The more aggressive of the two tuxedo cats is the one who had me thinking about instinct--our nickname for him is Darth Kneader. He always wants to be where we are rather than sit in laps, but for whatever reason, he waits until we are both in bed, comes up between us, and kneads. We're talking determined, brisk kneading accompanied by a five-alarm purr, sometimes continuing for an hour, and usually about 3 or 4 AM. After that is accomplished, ol' Darth goes and gets a snack, then retires to the end of the bed or goes about his early morning business elsewhere. He was probably separated from his mother too soon--even so, it blows my mind that kneading still corresponds with eating for him, even though he is almost two years old and his food comes out of a dish and has for quite some time.

I have often wondered if my relationship to food was affected by the death of my mother when I was two years of age. Food on the whole is so fraught with mother energy and issues of comfort and security; the movie "Eating", that I referenced a while ago in this blog, was chock-a-block full of women talking about how their mothers affected their relationship to food. I've talked to enough women with eating issues to know that mothers often pass down their own food and body image issues down to their daughters. (So can fathers and other people, obviously, but mothers seem to be the most frequent culprits.) Oftentimes, mothers get blamed too much for things in general, but they can certainly have a dog in this particular fight, or so the anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate.

I know my views on this issue aren't without bias, but I can say that when I was contemplating motherhood myself, my biggest fear was that I would die before I could raise my children, a fear that made sense given my own experience. My second biggest fear? That I would pass on my food issues to them.

I'm going to read more about this.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


We had to go buy a new fridge today. It was our first appliance purchase together, and rather anticlimactic, even as such things go. Mr. Salted went to start some slow-cooker soup this morning and discovered the milk had gone bad. Even the milk that was still good, in the next container he opened, wasn't cold. We looked at the flyers in the Sunday paper and online a little bit. I suggested we go to Home Depot--there is one quite close to us, and when I used to do procurement for property management and bought appliances, that was usually our go-to place in a pinch. We found a standard Hotpoint with no bells or whistles for $499, spent some more of the tax return to purchase it, and it will be delivered Wednesday. I was all for buying the cheapest one there, which was some off-brand like "Acer" or "Americana", but Mr. Salted held out for the Hotpoint.

Our salesperson was nice, no high-pressure crap, a 60ish Vietnam vet. I was so glad we didn't have to say more than "we currently reside in a mobile we both hate and hope not to be in long, we just need something that works for now". The fridges you can get now are absolutely amazing, and range in price from $325 to about $2900. Designer colors or stainless, side-by-side designs, some have the freezer drawer underneath, the water machine, the icemaker; we made jokes about how someday when we live somewhere we actually like and picked out together--when we are both working again--we can also spring for a nice fridge. Mr. Salted was disappointed it couldn't be delivered tomorrow, but I told him Home Depot isn't Glinda the Good Witch. (In what universe do you go buy a fridge and receive it less than 24 hours later?) I just hope all that wonderfully healthy food that I have so dutifully shopped for doesn't go bad.

I'm slightly amused that rather than continue to attempt to chip the layers off that interminable crisper drawer, I just get to start over with a nice new one. In all fairness, many of those layers have been there since at least the Mesozoic era, long before Mr. Salted and I even met.

Given the current state of our stove, I would also rather replace than continue to clean it. Some of the burners are setting off the smoke alarms when used, despite our best repeated efforts to clear them of debris. We both have a feeling the stove will be the next to go; we have to keep a thermometer inside the oven to gauge the actual temperature, as it tends to run about 50 degrees too hot. The dinosaurs also had a hand in accumulating ancient layers of crud on that well-loved, oft-used entity, so I can contemplate its inevitable replacement free of guilt.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday morning constitutional

I forced myself to get out and walk this morning. For some reason, it is easier to make myself do it on the weekends. I even remembered to put on my heart monitor--there is a belt that goes around your upper abdomen (you hardly notice it's there, really) and a watch that tells you your heart rate and how long you walked. I purposely bought the cheapest, most idiot-proof one they had--I believe it cost $80.

It is a beautiful, sunny, but briskly cold morning; frost was on the cars and mailboxes. I walked a new way and liked it better than my usual way, as it is an almost completely level street. I live in a rural enough neighborhood that we are only three miles from a Costco, but there are horses and cows around and woodlands nearby. (One morning I even saw an adolescent deer with My Favorite Martian antlers bounding across the street and through someone's yard into the great unknown swamplands.) They are beginning to zone the area as light industrial, but taking their time about it, so you still hear coyotes and crickets at night sometimes.

Because it was only about 7:30, and on a Saturday, not many people were out yet. (Which is good, I want to be left the hell alone when I exercise--I come armed with an Ipod and shades.) I think I saw three cars. Only one dog barked at me, a big old yellow Lab mix, from the looks of him; he barked at me four times on the first way past and didn't bother on my way back. I have a soft spot for big yellow dogs, especially if they have brown noses.

I saw a lot of things I would like to take pictures of sometime, particularly a rusted-out classic car, which looked cool with dew on it and parked in a clearing. (It's one of those neighborhoods with run-down single-wide mobiles nestled against custom-built pseudomansions. Very schizophrenic, but so are many of America's older neighborhoods, in my experience.) Now that cameras are digital and I'm not burning expensive film, I take pictures of everything all the time, no matter how inconsequential they seem. (For instance, the other day I took a picture of the pear I was about to eat on the counter before I cut it up. The picture actually came out cool. It's on my Flickr site.)

I have two workout playlists on my Ipod; one I call "dancy poo" and one I call "classic rock". (Trying to keep it simple.) Today, I used the "classic rock" one, and these are the songs I walked to:

AC/DC--You Shook Me All Night Long
Aerosmith--Eat the Rich
Clash--Train in Vain (Stand By Me)
Climax Blues Band--Couldn't Get it Right
Def Leppard--Animal
Doors--Love Her Madly
Gary Wright--Love is Alive (a better cool-down song, but I love it anyway and I'm no speed demon; good karaoke song, too, and Joan Osborne does a version I like also)
George Thoroughgood--Move It On Over

Friday, March 20, 2009


I have been so unmotivated this past week. I haven't exercised at all. I fought a migraine for a couple of days, but mostly it was just inertia and spotty sleep.

I saw a childhood friend for the first time in 20 years yesterday and really had a nice time. We had some great conversations that made me think. One that was particularly thought-provoking was about being a teenager and the relative importance of Getting Boys to Like You.

I couldn't Get Boys to Like Me back then and I didn't really try all that hard. I wished one would from time to time, of course; I had all kinds of crushes, but I couldn't have handled any kind of relationship emotionally and I think I knew that on some level. I also wanted boys to listen to me more than I wanted them to like me; and for better or worse, I got my wish. I always had really high standards in that I wanted The Boy That Would Listen AND Like Me, which is, of course, totally unrealistic when you're dealing with teenage boys, but what can I say? I read a lot.

My friend and I had both heard all our lives as girls how important it was to grow up and get married, which sounds so totally 1950s in retrospect that it's pathetic, considering we were growing up in the 1980s. I mean, Mary Tyler Moore had long since tossed her beret in the air by then, bras had been burned, the Pill was on the market, they had NOW pamphlets--why didn't the women in our lives know better? (And what if we had been gay? Of course, that wasn't really discussed back then, at least not in anyone's house that I knew. The first person who came out to me was my male best friend when we were sixteen. I had known him since we were six, and my response was, "Okay...I love you." I remember crying privately afterward, but it was because I knew his life would not be as easy as I would wish for him, and sure enough, it wasn't. But I digress, as usual.)

Some people say that women dress more to impress other women than they do men (and I'm assuming we're referring to straight women). I've thought about that a lot and I think there is definitely truth to it. It has always bothered me how we socialize girls in this society. I hope it's more enlightened now than when I was growing up, but somehow I doubt it. I always hated all that "Mean Girls" crap--the way girls compete with each other, comparing themselves with each other, and basically flat-out torture each other. Who's the prettiest? Whose hair is the longest? Who's the thinnest? I see adult women do it, too, and it makes me want to spit. Whose kids are the cutest? Whose husband makes the most money? Who has the biggest house? What a waste of energy! When I was 12, there wasn't much alternative other than befriend boys or bury myself in books, but I have long since refused to be close friends with women who operate on that level as an adult; as a result, I have several absolutely amazing women as my closest friends today.

But the why-women-dress-up thing! That's what I was thinking about. I've always just wanted to be comfortable. I did make more of an effort when I was younger--more makeup, more dresses, fussier hair, but I wasn't comfortable with myself and thought I had to do that in order to be somehow acceptable. At some point, thankfully, I stopped caring. Now I'm a total T-shirts and comfypants (that's what we call pajama or lounge pants in my house, one word, just like that--"comfypants") person who doesn't put in earrings or wear makeup for weeks sometimes (because I'm not working right now). Some people are really disturbed by this. I've had people tell me I would feel better about myself if I just put on some makeup and dressed up a little more. I do those things--when I go to work, or I'm going out on a date with Mr. Salted. But when I'm at home, who am I supposed to be trying to impress? My husband doesn't care. I've never had a relationship with a man who said, "Why don't you dress up a little more? Why don't you slap on a little warpaint before I'm seen with you in public?" I've also always maintained that if you only dress up once in a while, people really notice it and tell you how great you look the whole time, which is enjoyable for everyone involved. :o) Why set impossibly high standards for yourself for that kind of thing when you don't really enjoy it in the first place? (Or, if you're like me, you downright resent it?)

Recently, I've been watching a couple of reality shows about child beauty pageants. (WETV has one, and so does The Learning Channel.) That whole culture is something I find truly sad--bordering on offensive--and yet strangely fascinating. It raises my feminist-lite hackles, but it's hard to take my eyes away from it; it's the cultural anthropologist in me, for its participants do not seem to be of my planet. I feel so sorry for the little girls. The adults in their lives pour insane amounts of money (enough to pay for a top-notch college education a few times over) into having their offspring be judged and win or lose for the most capricious of reasons. These titles are determined by things with improbable names, like "Wow Wear". If the girls are at the age where they are losing their baby teeth, some wear dental bridges (sometimes called "flippers") to make them look like they have a full set of adult teeth. (Often the effect of a flipper is to appear to put Gary Busey's teeth in a little girl's mouth, and it's disturbing. Besides, what is cuter than a kid with a missing tooth or teeth?) They wear more makeup than Cleopatra at a rave and the hair on each child is bigger than the entire band Poison's hair, circa 1988. They spray tan these children (which looks like pure torture from here). Then there's the coaching--many of the families pay people (I wonder how they qualify them, seriously) to teach the girls to flirt and shake around. I've seen the mothers on these shows yell things at their kids like, "You have a booty, so SHAKE IT!" The lineups at the end when they announce the winners is full of smiles that don't reach the eyes, which is more disturbing to see in any child than all of the above put together. Talk about teaching little girls to compete against each other, only to the nth power. And not only against each other, but against themselves. How are they ever going to feel that they measure up? They are immersed in the pursuit of perfection before they even know it has teeth. And claws.

Women's friendships can be so deep and so profound, and yet there are women walking the Earth--far too many of them--who have scorecards in their heads, noticing how often their coworker wears the same dress, or how long it's been since their sister-in-law changed her hairstyle. It takes so much time and effort for girls and women to overcome relentless programming that teaches you that the world begins and ends with Whether Boys Like You. And if you are a straight woman, do you really want to have a relationship with a man who knows whether or not your Coach bag is fake?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chocolate and the brain

I was surfing the Web the other night, just playing around, looking at food addiction treatment-type things--I was curious what was out there. There is actually quite a famous center that treats food addiction close where I live--they have been included in TV documentaries I've seen--so I went to their website and discovered (a) there were no prices listed anywhere, which is never a good sign; and (b) they threw the word "God" around an awful lot as it related to treatment. Salted don't play that; even if I was into that, and I'm not, I think God has bigger fish to fry than my fat ass.

I went to the Food Addicts Anonymous website and it looks as though they use the old Overeaters Anonymous model, which was attended by a close family member back in the day, so I have some familiarity with it. I also read about it in Betsy Lerner's memoir "Food and Loathing". It's a 12-step program. No sugar, no flour, no nothing. I will continue to look for post-op support groups. Though it has worked for many and I respect that, I don't see myself being able to embrace the 12-step model. I will continue to research post-op support groups.

So, I started looking up chocolate addiction, and when Googling the words "chocolate rehab", lo and behold, a British woman is writing a book called "Chocolate Rehab". It sounds like genius to me; I can't believe no one else has written it before. I hope it comes out soon. I found other websites of many different stripes, some claiming that chocolate was more addictive to the brain than cocaine and marijuana and may have similar effects (!).

I found an academic paper from the Journal of Affective Disorders that was fascinating--it was debating whether or not chocolate had antidepressant effects. The writers argued that chocolate craving and chocolate emotional eating were two entirely different things, although they could both exist in the same person. Some studies have shown that seasonal affective disorder and atypical depression sufferers who tend to self-medicate are able to achieve some elevation in their serotonin levels by ingesting chocolate, but the writers of this paper argued that chocolate would not be as effective as other foods or chemicals in achieving this result, yet chocolate is the specific substance craved. The paper's writers ultimately come to a similar conclusion regarding the possibility of chocolate cravings as the result of a magnesium deficiency, providing evidence that other foods would be more effective in making up the difference there, but would not satisfy a chocolate craving, possibly because of the uniquely appealing texture, aroma and taste of chocolate.

The paper went on to define emotional eating and conclude that it failed to produce any real or lasting benefit to a psychological or mood state, and that continued or elevated emotional eating could actually contribute negatively to mood. (I think anyone who's ever been a binge eater would be able to vouch for that.)

Though food craving shares some of the same features of drug addiction, the writers of the paper point out, they found no consensus that food craving qualifies as an actual addiction. They cite the possible reason for this as different reasons for craving drugs vs. craving chocolate--craving drugs is related to a physiological requirement by the body to put it into a certain altered state that alleviates a negative state of "low", where craving chocolate is related to the sheer "hedonic experience" or pleasurable sensation of smelling, tasting, and consuming it.

I found this paragraph interesting: "Chocolate was not greatly preferred over other sweets for self-medication, even among chocoholics. Self-medication occurred most commonly in response to depression, tension and irritability, less often in response to anxiety, and least often to anger." (Indeed! How can one be angry while savoring a Ghirardelli creation? Nom nom nom...) "Anecdotal evidence indicates that chocoholics who are also emotional eaters only crave chocolate, but when stressed, they will crave any other carbohydrate." The paper ultimately concludes that chocolate is an indulgence that invokes pleasure and it may provide some comfort in emotional eaters, but that it is more likely to prolong depressive mood and so cannot be called an antidepressant.

So, basically, according to this paper, I am not an addict, I'm simply a hedonist. Do they have a Hedonists Anonymous?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lazy Sunday

It definitely was. I spent a lot of it in bed, finishing one book and devouring another. It was quite lovely.

"Cinematic Titanic" was an absolute riot. We both pretty much laughed for two solid hours. I swear I pulled something. We went to one of our favorite diners beforehand, I had pot roast dinner (roast beast, loaded mashed potatoes, steamed veggies) and we split a piece of apple pie a la mode. HUGE meal compared to what I usually eat.

I am definitely going to mourn being able to go out and have a big meal like that once in a while. Usually I'm measuring my half-cup of nuts or cottage cheese or piece of fruit or vegetable, drinking water like a camel and not much else, and most of the time I really don't mind that. The thought of never being able to go out and have a big meal again, though, is somewhat sad, but I don't think it will bother me like losing chocolate. That's my heroin. I'm still not quite sure how I'm going to give it up.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cinematic Titanic!

"CINEMATIC TITANIC is the new feature-length movie riffing show from the creator and original cast of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000. Like MST3K, the show was created by JOEL HODGSON and features the same team that first brought the Peabody award winning cult-classic series to life: TRACE BEAULIEU (Crow, Dr. Forrester), J. ELVIS WEINSTEIN (Tom Servo, Dr. Erhardt), FRANK CONNIFF (TV’s Frank), and MARY JO PEHL (Pearl Forrester), Cinematic Titanic continues the tradition of riffing on ‘the unfathomable’, ‘the horribly great’, and the just plain ‘cheesy’ movies from the past.

Founded in late 2007, Cinematic Titanic is an artist funded, owned, and operated venture. With a combination of new shows on DVD every 6-8 weeks (available in our STORE) and an ever-growing schedule of LIVE SHOWS, the CT crew hopes to reconnect with “MSTies” around the world as well as bringing new fans to the comedy artform they first brought to TV 20 years ago."

The above logo and text are copyrighted material from the official website at http://www.cinematictitanic.com/.


Mr. Salted and I are going to a performance tonight. We are both huge MST3K fans, and it promises to be a lot of fun!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thoughts on charity

The other day, a guy knocked on my door. He had a big box of stuffed Easter rabbits with him, and explained that he was exchanging them for donations; an eleven-year-old friend of his had been hit by a car while playing and was recovering in the hospital with several broken bones. He asked for ten bucks, but I only had four. I gave it to him without even thinking twice about it.

I've always given to charity. I don't do it for accolades from others, it isn't driven by religion; it's a human thing. I believe that in an ideal world, we would all help each other.

When I was a kid, I was a recipient of Christmas baskets from charitable organizations on several occasions. It felt so good to think that someone who didn't even know anything about me would go out and buy me food, a toy, crazy socks, or whatever. For me, it was a big deal to get a new pair of slippers for Christmas. Most of the time, I felt that most adults in my orbit never let me forget that that my designated role in life was to be the poster child for orphans or the charity case du jour. Those Christmas baskets were special, though. No one had to think of anything to say, or try to save face. It's simple: someone gives, someone receives. Because I knew what receiving could mean, I grew up and learned how good it felt to go out and buy things for people that needed them. Sometimes I have only had the time to write a check, or hand a guy at my door four bucks, but having a list of sizes, ages, and wishes and going shopping for someone specific always gives me the most joy.

Life has shown me repeatedly that sometimes an understanding word is just the lifeline someone needs to keep hanging on; you never know what something you have done or said is going to mean to someone else. Many people have been kinder to me than they had to be, and at times it has meant the world.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Protein and exercise

I saw the exercise physiologist today, and it actually wasn't bad. 20 minutes on the treadmill, strength training, talking about our cats. I only have to see him once a month, which is good.

Keeping track of the protein content in what I eat has already proven interesting. Cottage cheese has an insane amount of protein in it--13 grams per half cup. I hope my system is going to tolerate all the dairy, beans, etc. The only day I exceeded the 80 grams (high end of the post-surgery spectrum) was the day we had fish for dinner. I have a feeling we're going to be eating a lot of fish--it's never really been my favorite, but as with most of the other food, it is growing on me and I'm getting used to it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't poke the bear.

Just got off the phone with the most unsupportive person I still have any kind of relationship with. This person is a family member. It was one of those conversations that not only veered crazily off into the ditch, but where pieces continued to fall off the car long after it ceased movement.

This person is sending me anti-bariatric surgery articles or trying to get me to look them up myself. "If insurance isn't going to pay," she asked, "why don't you try doing it another way?" "I just don't understand why you can't lose weight like other people do." "How did you gain so much weight in the first place?"

After several deep and cleansing breaths, I have the following response:

Don't poke the bear. The bear is hungry. The bear is pissed. The bear doesn't want to be awake in the first place, and I can guaran-dam-TEE the bear is *completely* sick of your BS. DON'T POKE THE BEAR. You may not find the bear's response to your liking.

Educate yourself. READ SOMETHING. Go to a seminar. Use the brains I know you have. If you want to discuss this issue, then by all means facilitate a DISCUSSION. Not an attack. These are two different concepts; look up the words and read the definitions for content if you need a refresher. A discussion on planet Earth sounds something like: "I was reading about x. What are your thoughts?"

The person you claim to love has been through a lot, some of it as a direct result of your actions, and has handled it by herself. Your particular techniques are not, have never been, and will never magically become helpful. If you continue to criticize and harp on your alleged loved one's every thought and action, as well as invalidating her valid and hard-earned progress, guess what? Your actions not only will not be appreciated--they will not be welcomed, nor will they be interpreted as having originated from a place of love.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nutritionist appointment

Just got back from nutritionist appointment #3. I lost (get ready for it) ONE (1) WHOLE FREAKIN' ENTIRE POUND. Two months = five WHOLE FREAKIN' ENTIRE pounds. To spare the expense of paying for a skywriter, whoomp! there it is. A concrete illustration of the reality of insulin resistance, sleep deprivation's effect on the cortisol hormones (I did not sleep one minute last night, fyi), and why I need medical intervention. 60 !@#$%^&* days, and I would say I deprived myself of anything that tasted really good for at least 55 of them.

I do like the nutritionist. She's easy to talk to, reasonable, and realistic. I forgot to turn my phone off and got a text during the appointment--the text ringtone is "Bust a Move", so she started dancing to it in her chair and we had a giggle. She didn't give me too much guff about that ridiculous craving assignment--she said a lot of people didn't even try to do it, at least I had tried. (I didn't try all that hard, it took all my energy to hold back the bile, but she didn't have to know that. I take my positive strokes where I can get 'em.)

She praised my food diary, which I have kept faithfully (grumblegrumblegrumble) and added caloric content when I had it. She recommended a couple of websites, calorieking.com and fitday.com, that have calorie counts on them. The new assignment is to incorporate more protein into the diet and begin to calculate that.

Protein becomes extremely important because immediately after surgery you are only taking in 400-600 calories per day. Post-bypass, the recommended protein intake is 60-80 grams of protein per day, which is a LOT. You're supposed to eat all the protein you need in a day before you eat anything else. I think the low-sugar Instant Breakfast and I are going to become even better friends than we already are. Apparently Atkins makes some protein drinks, and there is one called Muscle Milk that they sell at Costco and Super Supplements. SlimFast and Ensure have too much sugar (I thought I was the only person in the world who gained weight on SlimFast; now I know why I did). Milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, meat, tuna, tofu, peanut butter, nuts, beans, peas, lentils, cheese. She gave me a protein foods list with happy Clip Art illustrations of happy, happy food. Happy.

We talked about the water-drinking requirements for post-op. I'm drinking enough water, it's just how I drink it that is going to be different. You have to drink 16 ounces of water half an hour before eating, not drink anything while you eat, eat the protein first, drink 16 ounces of water after you eat.

We discussed the dreaded dumping syndrome, or specifically, sugar and dumping syndrome. I'll have to post more about dumping syndrome when I have the fortitude to research it further and make an articulate blog entry with some good information in it. Basically from what I gather, if you eat too much sugar, fat, and grease post-gastric bypass, you'll get violently sick. People don't know what foods are going to trigger dumping until they've had the surgery, though some have proven to be universal, and sugar is one of them. Simple sugars are apparently a huge culprit, so even the sugar-free chocolate isn't so hot because the sweeteners used in making it--the sugar alcohol derivatives, such as sorbitol--are catalysts for dumping syndrome. Splenda and aspartame sweeteners do not pose a problem.

She told me I won't be able to use chocolate to cope anymore. She wasn't mean about it, it was just a statement of fact. I told her I seriously thought I was going to need some kind of rehab. She gave me a food addiction website to look at and some sample questions to ask counselors if I got to the point where I could afford to see one. Since money is an issue, maybe a support group would at least provide some balm. It's not the amount of food or even the type of food I eat; it's the relationship I have with it. It sounds so trivial and silly, but it's a very real concern.

Tomorrow, the exercise physiologist. I'm so thrilled (NOT). It looks like I have to see him every time I see her, so, once a month. I'm not doing any more than I have to, and I told them that today.

Re: the disputed psych eval payment--I had to eat the $220 written report fee, but the billing person spent a good half hour on the phone with my insurance while I was there, who are now "reprocessing" the claim for the remaining $300.

Oh yeah, and it's snowing. WTF?

"The Wrestler"

Mr. Salted and I went to see "The Wrestler" today. We both wanted to see it, and decided to treat ourselves to lunch and a matinee, whether we could afford it or not.

I thought it was a really good movie--the kind *I* like, anyway--great cast, complicated characters that I really cared about (whether I liked them or not), nothing tied up in a neat bow. Interesting, flawed human beings, actors that look their ages and weren't afraid to go there emotionally. They all did really brave work. There were a lot of parallels to things and people in my own life, and it's a solid underdog story. Ultimately, it made me think; it made me want to write; and it made me want to keep going, plugging along. These are all good things. It's one of those films that stays with you for a while, I can see.

Of course, now I can't sleep; I also ate half a pint of Ben and Jerry's this evening, after trying to feel full by eating healthier stuff first. I see the nutritionist tomorrow, and have to raise the issue of the billing snafu, which I am not thrilled about.

Mr. Salted and I paid bills today. It's a shaky time economically and a bit scary in general, but we're grateful that he's employed, we're insured, and above all just grateful that we have each other. Things have been a lot worse than this.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Made myself go out and walk this morning. Cranked the Britney. It started to snow. I made it 25 minutes.

Going to work on my FAFSA now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Costco-size can of whoopass

I'm ready to open one on the insurance company.

I got another statement in the mail today, and they are now denying my psychological evaluation in its entirety, to the tune of $520.00. (!) They are claiming the service was not only not "preauthorized", but that it was performed by an out-of-network provider.

I stood right next to the office person in the provider's office while she "preauthorized" it, the day it was scheduled, and specifically used this provider--out of several in the office--because he was the only one covered by my insurance. (I didn't even want to go to him! He wasn't terrible or anything, but I prefer to see female medical professionals whenever possible. It's a my-own-comfort-level thing.)

So I called the insurance company, who told me that this provider is not in network under his tax ID number. They also told me the claim had been forwarded to the behavioral health division. I explained for the 5,000th time that it was a medical claim, not a behavioral one, which they concurred, and which doesn't help me one iota since he is apparently not in network.

WHY would the office person tell me the provider is covered if he isn't? Did she pretend to talk to someone on the other end of the phone while I stood there? I'm stumped. I called the provider's office, and of course the billing person isn't there until Monday. Conveniently, Monday is my next nutritionist appointment, so I guess I get to take this up with the staff in person. (Oh, joy!)

If I have to pay this entire amount out of pocket, at least the tax return is coming, but it makes my going back to school an elusive pipe dream. I guess I will go through the motions of applying just the same, in the hopes I can still get in and receive student loan funding.

This certainly removes any mystery surrounding the reasons that, on any given day, I'd rather crawl back under the covers and stay there, or sit in a nice, dark, silent room with no other people in it. Pffffft.

Worry and surrender

I've always worried a lot. I think I've gotten better on this score, and it's something I actively work on. I don't think that worry consumes my life, but I know it is something I fall into far too easily, sort of a default setting from hell. I try to be logical and reason with it. "Will worrying about this change anything? Is anyone going to die? Then relax." Sometimes, this actually works. A friend of mine calls it "perseverating", which sounds like the right word for what it feels like: onomatopoeic, even.

I wonder sometimes if other people are more worried about me having this surgery than I am. They ask me things like, am I scared? And what about this horror story I heard? Do I realize what my loose skin is going to look like after I lose the weight? And what if I have complications? What if I'm sick for the rest of my life? And then, there's the mother of all elephants in the room: what if I die?

I've read about my options. A lot. I've listened to actual people who have been through bariaric surgeries of all types talk about it. A lot. I am a well-informed individual who loves research, is endlessly curious about life in general, and reads just about everything I can get my hands on, because I am interested in just about everything around me. (Except NASCAR.)

I was dead-set against this surgery for myself for so many years. There are a lot of facets to not only that feeling, but the reason that it has changed.

I compare it to the way I used to feel about antidepressant medication. I used to be dead-set against antidepressants for myself, too, but now I have come to realize that they ultimately get me out of bed in the morning. This is my reality; it is a reality that surprises many people who know me quite well. I truly believe antidepressants are a tool to help to correct the medical issue of depression, a medical issue I did not ask for but that I nonetheless have. So be it. (Ultimately, I didn't want to admit I had it; who does? I am grateful for today's increased awareness and decreased stigma regarding mental illness, a great contrast to the cultural climate regarding that issue when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, but we as a society still have a long way to go.) Antidepressants do not solve the problem of depression completely for me or for anyone else I know that takes them--but they can, ideally, make depression manageable, and do for many if not most. Despite the fact that I respect myself less for needing antidepressants (aside to self: sounds like that damn shame again, must obliterate at some point sooner rather than later), I have chosen to view antidepressants as a tool that have improved my quality of life; to continue to work at full acceptance of this; and to move on as best I can.

The way I have come to feel about bariatric surgery parallels the way I feel about antidepressants. I have tried every possible method to lose weight, save many of the flavor-of-the-month diet drugs that have come and gone over the years because I could not afford them (and considering what happened with all of them in retrospect, I'm extremely thankful for that!). Surgery on its own does not solve the problem of obesity; it is a tool that accompanies drastic positive lifestyle changes. It is not 100% effective for 100% of people, and it may not be for me. But the chance that it will affect positive change in my life is enough to convince me that it is a good option--for ME. I don't pretend to know--or want--the responsibility of knowing what is right for other people.

I am already physically sick or impaired on any number of levels and I am certainly tired, bordering on bone-weary. Yes, I am aware that my decision to pursue bariatric surgery as an option is a form of surrender. I am surrendering my own biases, perfectionism, self-loathing, and yes, no small amount of my shame to the chance that the tool of bariatric surgery may serve to help me to feel as though eating well and exercising is pointless because I am still, after all, the f-word. There are already health-related complications in my daily life that even people who have known me for 20 years or more have no idea about.

Am I scared? Certainly. I'm breathing, aren't I? But to my mind, the notion of bariatric surgery is nothing compared to the cancer scare I went through almost ten years ago now, nothing compared to the fact that I had to have a full hysterectomy at age 32 that permanently removed any ability I may have had to ever have children, which has been more profound a loss for me than anything else could be beyond my own death. And seriously? Let's face it, if I die, it's over for me and becomes the problem of the loved ones I would leave behind. I don't fear death, but I don't want to die, either. If deciding to undergo bariatric surgery, subsisting on little bites of rabbit food for the rest of my life and working out (ugh) regularly doesn't prove that I am choosing life, than what in the name of all that is holy would?

I think the worry of other people that care about me is that they know (a) how extremely stubborn I am, (b) how I have continued to fight every aspect of these issues, and (c) how very much I enjoy evil yet delicious food, drink, dessert, etc. They also must know that (d) if I have chosen to do this, I must feel as though there is no other choice. Let the record show: I believe there is no other choice. For ME.

Let's accept this and move on.

Circular abdabs

Still feeling a bit doldrum-y. Not the lowest I've ever been by any means, just kind of treading water. I hit the wall with all my wonderful intentions and discipline, and I hate to say it, but this is about the same increment of time it always happens for me...day 55 of the food journal is today, so I'm right on schedule. I'm still eating what I'm supposed to for the most part; I just have to keep the bad stuff (or as they say, "the trigger foods") out of the house. This week my bugaboo was the !@#$%^ Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, which are not only quite delicious, but also have the added bonus of being mild and safe when my stomach does its best Vesuvius impression. I'm trying to stick to the whole-grain Triscuits instead.

Sleep continues to be a challenge. I am sleeping better on Seroquel than I did on Ambien, but I'm still waking up at least twice a night and still eating when I do. The difference is that I am cognizant enough to write it in the g-d food journal, sans weird subconscious commentary, rather than finding crumbs and wrappers later and just feeling ashamed.

Shame sucks; I vote for there being much less of it. In my mind, it's another thing that motivates human beings to do nothing except self-destruct. It reminds me of one of those software programs (like AOL!) that randomly attaches all kinds of stuff you never wanted or needed in the first place in directories you never knew existed on your computer. I know the seeds of my personal shame originated from the behavior and actions of other people, but my battle is not to perpetuate it and let it fester; in short, not to feed it.

Shame is the kissing cousin of depression. (Indeed, could one exist without the other?) Ashamed of what I am *not* doing (ie, exercise the past week) is not that different from shame that I am doing exactly what I should (eating right, exercising on cue like a chubby, pissed-off automaton) and not getting the results I want, need or desire for myself. Even if I was getting the results I wanted, needed or desired for myself (which, for those of you playing at home, has never happened to date), this would not make the medical professionals or indeed the world at large throw out their scorecards and STFU. Shame, self-hatred, anger, and depression are all tied up with the same stupid, gaudy bow, and the line blurs between want, need, and shouldacouldawoulda. Voila! Circular abdabs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Supportive spouse day

Today was one of those supportive spouse days. Mr. Salted needed a gum graft, so I took him to the periodontist, went grocery shopping while they worked on him, went to the store with him, got his prescriptions, made him a protein shake, made sure he took his Vicodin, and listened to him snore while he took a nap. He is really fabulous at the supportive spouse days when he's the caretaker, so I try to do as well when it's my turn.

I am trying not to fall into the circular abdabs--thank you to my friend "GOD" (those are his actual initials, I'm not being blasphemous for once) for that wonderful term, which he himself coined, so far as I can tell. The circular abdabs are something I fall into with more certainty than even gravity could promise; before I know it, in my own mind I am a loser who will be forever fat, unemployed, ending up divorced, sick, and friendless to boot. (Not to mention the not-getting-any-younger thing.) The circular abdabs are basically the ripple effect of every weak moment and negative thought/fear, jacked up on Mountain Dew and ready to rumble. Nobody needs that.

I need to fill out my FAFSA and get the school ball rolling with a bit more purpose. I am still feeling extremely unmotivated and discouraged about the bariatric surgery process. This is about day 52 of the food diary, which means I have about 130 days more to go. I am eating well, but not exercising much this past week. (In my defense, I was sick the last few days, and rather busy today.) I am tired of writing down everything I eat, beyond tired of the insurance company's crap, and am going to have to tell the wellness center that I need to have the minimum number of appointments to satisfy the powers that be because I just can't afford all these copays.

I can see why the insurance companies do what they do when it comes to this surgery; it prevents them from having to cover it in a great many cases, I have a feeling. I can also see why people just give up on insurance, taking out loans or whatever they have to do to make this surgery happen without interference. I can see why people give up, period. It's certainly crossed my mind; no one relishes speaking the words "oh, kiss my ENTIRE ass!" any more than I do, or enjoys the fleeting freedom throwing off shackles of any sort can provide.

However, when I think about giving up on this, I think back on college. I dropped out four times and it took me ten years to get a Bachelors degree. I dropped out four times, but I went back five times. People would tell me every time I dropped out that I would never go back, and I would screw up my courage and stamina and go back. I'm not dropping out this time. I ruminated about it for ten years before I decided to do it, and decide to do it I have. I have more support than I did trying to get through college, and there's that whole not-getting-any-younger thing, again.

I cancelled my exercise physiologist appointment for tomorrow (and, like magic, a massive percentage of the dark dread lifted from me like a swarm of colorful butterflies into the clean, clean air). One of my friends told me I was just not ready to grapple with the psychological issues I have around exercising yet, and she's right. I know I should exercise, and most of the time, I do. Just not every day, and not ever as much as "they" think I should. Some days, like today, accomplishing the things that need accomplishing are quite enough for this mere mortal.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Motivation is lacking

I've been really sick with stomach flu the last couple of days, coming off about a week of not feeling right and being unmotivated. I'm still eating (mostly) as I should and keeping the food diary, but I cancelled the exercise physiologist appointment I was supposed to have on Wednesday. I don't need to see him every two weeks, and frankly, can't afford all the copays. It also looks as though insurance isn't going to cover the complete psych eval--"no insurance company ever covers the written report fee", the office person told me. Someone was supposed to call today about it and hasn't. I see the nutritionist again the following week. I just feel like I'm marking time for nothing in particular, waiting for this all to gel, and what if it doesn't? I don't see how my household can function without my income for as long as this is all going to take to happen, and the news isn't good anywhere when it comes to the economy.

About Me

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Seattle, WA, United States
This blog focuses largely on a personal journey to and through weight-loss surgery. It's also about reading, writing, animals, photography, love, humor, music, thinking out loud, and memes. In other words...life.
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