Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Berkeley HeartLab results

My Berkeley HeartLab test results came back and I met with the ARNP to go over them. Basically, the conclusion was that my high cholesterol is likely genetic, and that I fall into the group of people whose cholesterol can be lowered by statin drugs. This group of people is at higher risk for heart disease and heart attack, but the other group--the group whose cholesterol doesn't respond to statin drugs--while at much lower risk for heart issues, can have them develop or happen out of nowhere. Another issue (only identifiable with a test like the Berkeley) has to do with the size of the blood particles the body produces to fight the bad cholesterol. I happen to be a person who produces smaller particles than usual, so that is something else that will have to be factored into my diet and treatment regimen.

Niacin on its own has failed to improve my numbers, but it tends to increase the particle size, so the ARNP and I struck a compromise: I am now taking a drug called Simcor--500 mg niacin, 20mg simvastatin, which is the lowest dose available. (Prior to surgery, I was on 80mg simvastatin.) We will do bloodwork in three months, tweak it as needed, blah blah blah.

I am still having a hard time with the sleep schedule, though I am loving the job. I also registered for two summer quarter classes. I haven't been working out, and my weight is in a holding pattern--I may even be up a pound or two. I am cutting back on diet soda and trying to avoid the bulk candy at work, sticking to the Zone Perfect bars and only one of those per shift. I'm having a hard time with the company-provided meals, too. They offer a lot of vegetarian things, which would be great except they are awfully heavy-handed with the pepper and spices. They have great pizza and rolls, two things I should not be eating--too many carbs, plus they stick in the pouch. I've been eating some of the things that aren't so great for me, and I often don't feel too hot as a result--so the past few days, I am drinking a lot more water than anything else and sticking to my protein drinks and 'safe' foods for meals. I eat lots of plain Cheerios, and I love my Jamba Juice lunches. Sugar-free energy drinks are less fattening and easier to digest than coffee, so I usually do one of those a day. I'm trying to make better choices, and every day is a new one--that's how I try to look at it when I get discouraged.

Saturday 9: Jumping Someone Else's Train

1. When was your last train ride?

When I was a kid, we took the train to Montana every summer to visit family. I haven't ridden the train since then, but my favorite bed and breakfast is made up of refurbished cabooses and we go there once or twice a year--I don't think it counts though! I have really fond memories of riding the train as a kid. The people were always very kind.

2. How many foreign countries have you visited? Tell us about one.

Only Canada and Mexico. Mexico was really hot and beautiful. I was struck by the poverty, though--and I know I only saw the areas that had been spruced up.

3. What do you always take with you on vacation?

Books, camera, and iPod.

4. Tell us about something you've lost recently.
Just weight!

5. Do you prefer action packed vacations or relaxing ones?


6. How long will you wait in a checkout line before abandoning your purchases?

I've never abandoned my purchases.

7. How old do you wish you were?
Sometimes I wish I could be about ten years younger, but I like the age I am now.

8. Do you consider yourself kind?
Yes. I don't take any crap or suffer fools gladly, so I can sometimes be perceived as otherwise, but I have had more than one person I was close to say I was the kindest person they had ever met. I consider that the highest compliment anyone could pay.

9. Tell us about your tattoos. Or if you had to get a tattoo, where and what would it be?

I don't have any, but I am definitely considering it, probably on my calf, my upper arm or my back. I think about a lotus, because a dear friend told me I was just like one, that I had become a beautiful person though I had come from shit--a really powerful statement. I think about one of my paintings, an important word (maybe courage). Who knows?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dressing room

One of my friends and I like to go to Old Navy periodically, and we did last night. There were a lot of cute things on sale and clearance, and it's fun to dig through them. We usually share a dressing room, and I always take back about 7 items to try on for every one item I end up buying. I am slowly fitting into smaller sizes, which is cool because I am finally at the point where I can buy in the actual bricks-and-mortar store and not have to order from the online-only plus section. I can get into a 16 in their pants, but an 18 is still more comfortable and looks better. I seem to be perpetually in between one size or another, no matter the store or brand.

My friend has also lost a significant amount of weight in recent years. I have never gained weight in my legs, yet that's where the loosest of my skin seems to be, at least as of yet. It was that way for my friend as well--it made me feel a little better, because she wears a 10 or 12 now and looks great in clothes. I think it was the most fun I've had in a dressing room--they have not always been places I wanted to be by any means! Clothes were piled from floor to ceiling, and were laughing ruefully while comparing loose skin, concluding it was the result of aging as well as weight loss. Gravity happens!

Saturday 9: Goodbye to You

1. Have you had to say goodbye to a good friend or lover because they were moving?

Many times, and sometimes the person moving was me.

2. Have you ever wanted to use personal information about someone to sort of "blackmail" them? If yes, tell us about it.

No, that's below the belt. I'm too much of a believer in karma for that! Things like that cross my mind, I have an evil chuckle, then I get over it and wait for karma to get them if they have it coming--and it always, always does.

3. What two things influenced the choice of your present job or to stay at home?

Money and money.

4. Do you like warm weather? How warm does it get where you live? What is the best way to spend a hot, summer day?

About 65-70 is ideal weather for me--I'm not a fan of super hot weather. It can get into the 80s and even 90s for a few days each summer here, but for the most part it is in the 60s-70s range at its warmest and that's good for me! The best way to spend a hot summer day? Inside with the A/C on. :) If I have to be outside, I need a lot of hydration, sunscreen and an umbrella.

5. What do you find "hot" in a man/woman? What is the first thing you notice about someone who is hot? Do you ever think of yourself as hot?

What I think is hot/what I notice: humor, kindness, a nice smile, nice eyes, someone who makes you feel comfortable. Do I ever think of myself as hot? No. Average.

6. Are you quick to anger? How do you react when you are angry or frustrated? What do you do to cool down?

I can definitely get angry quickly--I tend to vent and be done with it for the little things and stew for a long time on the big things. To cool down, I just feel what I'm feeling, knowing it will pass. If it's not passing, I ride it out and work to use the energy motivate me to persevere.

7. In your family, who is the least like the rest of you?

I'm the least like the rest of them.

8. What are a few great books that you've taken along to the beach or on vacation in years past?

I always have a book or a stack of books. There are too many to list!

9. Do you like going outside during a thunderstorm and watching the lightning?

I like watching it out the window.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh yeah, the weight loss thing...

There's not much of note to report on that front. I have continued to eat well and religiously take my vitamins and supplements. I keep my portions small, paying close attention to how full I feel--occasionally I worry about that because I am able to eat more now. Last night, I determined that I have to be wary of the bulk candy at work--they have M&M's and Jelly Bellys in big jars that we can help ourselves to. (I've still never full-on dumped from sugar, but if I eat too much of it, I definitely don't feel too hot--it can result in an unpleasant headache and things have the potential to get stinky--both good deterrents!) They also have protein bars sometimes, which makes me very happy, and we are provided lunch or dinner every day as well. The food is above-average quality, healthy and good for you; it isn't all stuff I can eat, but there is always salad available and at least one type of cooked veggie if I can't tolerate the meat entree (I couldn't last night, for example--it was some kind of Thai pork in peanut sauce and way too spicy for me). I haven't gained any weight, which is all I hope for at this point because I haven't been working out. I feel like things are in a holding pattern because of the swing shift schedule. I don't sleep all in one block of time; I often wake up relatively early and then doze on and off through the morning, setting my alarm clock for noon so I don't oversleep. I know that's not a great way to function, but we only have one bedroom and Mr. Salted is on day shift so it's hard to avoid. The swing shift thing is only going to last another month, so it won't be like this forever. Since I know where I'm going to be working, I can at least find a conveniently located pool I want to use. I'm also not sure about classes this quarter--there is one on two Saturdays that I could do, and two that are online I could possibly do; I need to call the instructors to be sure.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My new job

This week, I started a job at one of the most famous Internet companies in the world. I am absolutely thrilled to be working there (and to be off unemployment!), even though the position is a contract job through a staffing agency--the assignment is supposed to last a year, possibly two. It just so happens that I have submitted resumes to this company directly several times over the past few years, so I am hoping this will be a foot in the door. If not, it will look good on a resume. It all happened somewhat by accident--I answered a blind ad on Craigslist that didn't specify the company that was hiring because the position sounded ideal for me. I was later informed this method of advertising the job was done purposefully so that they were not flooded with resumes from people that were in no way qualified but would nonetheless want to work for the company.

The whole experience has been a total trip. I had to have a background check and agree to (but have not been asked to actually take) a drug test. They checked references, and I had to sign a 12-page NDA (non-disclosure agreement). Security is extremely tight at this company. I have to have a badge not only to get in and out of the building, but to get in and out certain doors of the building during my shifts, even to go to the bathroom and back. When we went in the first day to get badge ID photos taken, we were given very specific rules about choosing a password--it had to have a number, a letter, a symbol, upper and lowercase, it couldn't be a pet's name, it couldn't be this or the time I got to the guy that was putting me in the system, my brain was completely fried. I was having a hard time inputting my password multiple times in the exact same configuration--and he wouldn't let me write it on a Post-It! "I can't do that unless I can shred it or set fire to it afterward," he said. I looked at him and said, "I will EAT it after I write it! That's how I remember things! Give me a break, I'm older than most of these people!" He at least chuckled at that, but still wouldn't budge--and there were more passwords to come. I had to choose another unique password for separate internal usage, and we were each issued a special device that would generate random unique one-time passwords for other special occasions. It's wild!

I am on swing shift for a few weeks, which is messing with me a bit (as I mentioned previously). This first week was spent in training learning their software tools and some policies. I'm not supposed to say much to anyone about where or when or what--it's very "if I told you, I'd have to kill you". I really like the job thus far and am really hoping it turns into something I can stay with. Not working with the public ROCKS!


So, I finally got to see Vegas. It's a very interesting place and can be fun--I took 800 pictures--but not anywhere you'd go to relax! (I took the above photo of the fountains at the Bellagio, and I love it because you can see the smoke--I was thinking of entering it in a photo contest. Unfortunately, they were playing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" during this particular display, which served to make me realize that even though the movie "Titanic" came out more than ten years ago, I still would rather not ever hear that song again.)

My friend and I stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel--which had great restaurants in it and music memorabilia and decor that was very cool, but it was also chock-a-block full of Aspiring Beautiful People, most of whom were young enough to be my kid. (Needless to say, I didn't bother going down to the pool.) My traveling companion smokes--she had a guy offer her "a bump for a smoke" while we were waiting for the airport shuttle. (I had to tell her that meant cocaine. It was kind of cute.)

Cher was great--she looks and sounds phenomenal. There were a lot of costume changes and acrobatic Cirque De Soleil stuff going on behind her. She did not sing "Love is a Battlefield", but oddly enough, she did cover Bob Seger's "Fire Down Below" (and well!).

On topic--I got all dressed up when we went to see Cher and wore something sleeveless in public for the first time since I was twelve years old (not counting bathing suits, but I've always worn T-shirts over those whenever possible). For me, that was a big deal. Once we got onto the Vegas strip, there were people of all shapes, ages and sizes letting it all hang out. My arms were exposed to the world for the evening--and, lo and behold, it did not explode. I posted pictures on Facebook and my friends and family all told me how great I looked. I cringe to myself when I see certain pictures, but Rome was not built in a day.

Temperatures were in the 90s while we were there, but physically I was surprisingly comfortable. About a week after I got home, Mr. Salted and I went to a big local festival with some friends, where we walked around all day--and I didn't get winded or tired and I wasn't in pain the next day. It was MIRACULOUS!

Saturday 9: If I Had a Hammer

1. Are you handy with tools?

Not at all. I am the sort of person people take hammers and kitchen utensils away from.

2. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

I started my new job. :)

3. What was the worst thing that happened to you this week?

Having to have a fasting blood draw while on swing shift.

4. Do you think you act your age?

Yes, except I say "dude" and don't really dress like a grownup if I can avoid it.

5. Describe an item of clothing that has definitely seen better days but that you refuse to dispose of and still wear. Why won't you toss it?

A pair of Converse slides I have that hasn't been manufactured since the mid-90s. They are SO comfortable...

6. What is your favorite summertime beverage?

Plain old cold water.

7. Have you ever lied about your age?
No. People routinely think I am younger and I am good with that. :o)

8. What was the most memorable birthday party you've attended?
I'm going to say a few years ago when I went out with some girlfriends to see a bunch of AC/DC cover bands. It was a riot.

9. What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?

I have PTSD, and yes. That's all I'm going to say.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jamba Juice!

Things have been crazy busy--I went to Vegas, came back, got sick, got well, started a new job, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I went and had my blood drawn for the Berkeley Heart Labs this morning--no mean feat when you have to fast and you're on swing shift. I have a lot to blog about, but will have to catch up later.

Yesterday, I went to Jamba Juice to get one of their "light" smoothies, and I have to say, I like them a lot better than Coldstone's! My favorite is Mango Mantra. They're not cheap, but they taste good, are refreshing and serve as a meal (or two). I think the largest size is somewhere in the 300s in terms of calories, and there are boosts that can be added to them, too. So hooray for Jamba Juice!

When I parked my car, I saw this stop sign and it made my whole day. Glad my phone has a camera!

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
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