Friday, September 27, 2013

Just so you know

The day went very smoothly, and I got home and feel pretty good so far.  More to come.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why all this?

Why all this?  Because no one told me that being overweight could lead to endometrial cancer.  I don't have endometrial cancer, as far as I know, but tomorrow morning I'm going to find out if I do, or if the recurrence of abnormal cell growth in my uterus is still pre-cancerous.  That "pre-" business is sure freaky.  Anyway, why does this happen?  Because excess body fat -- as I understand it -- can cause a hormonal imbalance.  I'm not going to look up the details right now, but either estrogen is produced or something that mimics estrogen.  Anyway, as I'm post-menopausal, that estrogen isn't balanced by progesterone, as it should be.  The first time -- I think it was maybe 9 months to a year ago -- when I had some bleeding, which was completely wrong wrong wrong -- I went through a series of biopsies, ultrasounds, hysteroscopies, D&Cs, and progesterone pills, and it all went away.  Woo hoo!  At the six month check-up, not long ago, I had an ultrasound again -- and the endometrial lining had thickened with extra cells again.  So here we are.

Tomorrow early, I go in for another D&C, biopsy, hysteroscopy.  This time I'm also getting a Merina IUD, which I completely dread.  The reason for that is that it releases progesterone locally and can stay in place for 5 years.  Except that I am fortune-telling that it will be agonizingly crampy, and I'll need to run back and get it removed in no time.  I need to stop doing that and believe that it will be fine, of course, until I hear otherwise from my uterus.

The other options are to take the progesterone orally, which is not good if you have a family history of breast cancer -- and even if you don't -- but I sure do.  Or you can take it orally in a cyclical fashion -- some days on, some days off -- which will stimulate my body to menstruate.  I don't THINK so.

The other option -- and the only option if it turns out to be cancerous -- is to have a hysterectomy.  I've been told, heck, why not, just get it out, who cares.  This is pretty much my feeling too, except, of course, that it's major surgery.  These can be done through laproscopic incisions and the uterus removed vaginally these days -- so no major incisions.  Unless you haven't gone through childbirth, because there's just not a lot of room to move in there without having had those stretching exercises.  So it's probably major incision/risk of infection/long recovery time if I do that.  I'll do it if I need to, but I guess I want something else to happen altogether.

Losing weight could help, although the process will take a long time.  But other health problems can be reduced or eliminated altogether if I lose weight.  I won't need to take blood pressure medicine, or a statin for cholesterol, and I may no longer have a very serious sleep apnea problem when I lose weight.  That might mean that my sleeping would no longer be disordered, and I'd feel more rested, which could help me lose more weight, and might lift some of the depression, because sleepiness and depression are co-related.

So tomorrow morning, I go in and get put to sleep and manhandled and all that.  I come home and recover, and sometime next week I find out the results of the biopsy.

No one told me about this endometrial hyperplasia business.  But I don't know that I could have lost weight and kept it off forever, even if I did know.  This weight business has been a lifelong struggle.  I feel confident that I'm learning to address it now, finally, with the help of this group.  And we'll see what tomorrow brings.

I don't want to scare my friends and loved ones.  We've caught it early, and I truly feel that there is nearly no chance that this will kill me or anything.  I trust my doctor.  I think this uterus just isn't going to hang around much longer to keep bothering me anyway.  Can't get uterine cancer if I don't have a uterine!  It's a very common operation, apparently second only to Caesarians for women.  A ton of women apparently have the operation for the same reason I do.  We all need to learn how to listen to our bodies, so that we can learn the difference between hunger and -- whatever it is that makes us eat.  Quit listening to diet things.  Quit believing what people say to make you feel empty inside.  Love yourself, wouldja?  OK, I'm done for now.

I may not get back here for a day or two, but don't worry about that.  I may be just too foggy to write.  I'll get on FB though, so my friends will know everything's ok.  Love you all.

Profile update

When I first got back into this a few days ago, I saw that my profile said I was a "temporarily derailed dissertator."  Boy, that's how I defined myself.  No wonder I took time off.  Nothing has held me back more than thinking I'd get around to that again sooner or later.  For some reason, when I got back, I only took out the word "temporarily".  Yes, I didn't finish that dissertation.  No, I'm not going to.  I might write something eventually, other than Facebook posts and this thing.  But I recently found that writing something for anthropologists was really rough on me.  At first, it was exciting, then daunting, then paralyzing.  So I clearly have a lot of work to do on that, psychologically.  So, no.  I'm not going to define myself as a failure, which is what that sounded like.  If I write something, it probably won't be for peer review.  I love anthropology, I love my area(s) of study, and I would have loved the dissertation at one point.  Actually, I love writing.  But the big F in Failure looms large and I don't want it to get me again.  I'm successful at what I do, in whatever way I choose to define that, and that's that.  Hah!

Hi Mom!

I just got back from stocking up at the grocery store.  Every time I leave, I think, "I ought to call Mom."  I used to call her in the car on the way home from the grocery store.  This seems like a significant thing to muse upon, and I haven't just yet ... but I was thinking about this blog post on my way home.  As usual, I bought something to eat on the way home - a sandwich and a can of carbonated flavored water.  My thinking:  Well, it could be worse.

Anyway, so I'm driving along thinking about my dear mom that I love so much and miss so much.  I'm not maudlin, and I don't believe in heaven, so I don't talk to dead people very much, even those I love.  But I was thinking about what I'd tell my mom at the moment, if that made sense to me.

I'd tell her not to worry about me.  Interesting to realize how often I had to tell her not to worry about me.  (It never helped.) Of course, I was so well trained by her frequent concerns about me that I worried about myself all the time too.  I don't blame her at all.  As a little girl, she probably had to worry about herself a lot -- she didn't have an easy time.  It makes sense that, when she had kids, she worried about them too.  A lot.  I've stopped worrying about myself, most of the time -- I sometimes worry about events, but even that is just fortune-telling.  There's no way to know the outcome of anything, and there's only so much you can control, but the future isn't one of them.

Anyway, as a teenager I defied her worry sometimes.  As an adult, I did too, but I got a lesson in keeping anything from her when I went out of town for a couple of days and didn't tell her, because I didn't want to hear how much she would worry about me.  I called home to get my messages (this was before cell phones, doggone it), and heard a series of messages that were more and more frantic as I didn't call her back.  She was afraid I was dead in my apartment, and she was going to call the police to go look.  This has actually become an ongoing joke for me, something I realize I remind myself of every day.  Hmm, I might need to rethink that joke.

Much of my life, I heard how worrisome I was.  And then, when my dad died, I realized how afraid I was of her worrying about me.  I worried about her worry.  I became paralyzed, almost literally, when I realized that, if I went to do my dissertation fieldwork (in Canada, for god's sake), she would be worried all the time (she told me many times that she was worried about me going to a foreign country.  Remember, we're talking CANADA!), and I couldn't be held responsible for that.  Instead, I just got almost catatonic with depression and everything fell apart, for years.

At this point in the drive home, I realized I was eating that sandwich.  I stopped and evaluated:  Am I actually hungry?  Am I eating this because I was looking at all this worrying?  Well, yeah.  It wasn't that good a sandwich anyway.  I didn't need it.  I wasn't remotely physically hungry.  I took a few more bites and then wrapped it up and tossed it out.  I don't know the last time I did anything like that.

Again, I honestly adored my mother.  She struggled with a very difficult childhood.  To her, I think, love = worry.  If she wasn't worried about something, she'd find something to worry about.  She said several times to me that, if you worry about something, it probably won't happen, so that's a good thing.  That poor, dear soul.  She fought against her own upbringing in so many ways.  She was stubborn and funny, and those things really helped her, and us, so often.  But she was paralyzed with certain fears, and I guess the well-being of her kids was one of those fears.  Of course, in many ways, that was a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I was a wreck from all that worry.

She raised four children.  We all love each other immensely.  She doesn't have to worry about any of us, because we have each other.  We have all grown into good adults.  I am so fortunate to have them and know that each of them is there for me if I need them, and even when I don't.  There are times for concern -- but it's not the same thing as a little girl internalizing the idea that her mom feels she's about to do something wrong, all the time.  It's very liberating not to worry about myself anymore, and I'm getting better at it all the time.

This week in group therapy, we're talking about families.  It's not surprising this has come up, but boy oh boy, it's powerful stuff.  By the way, my therapist says I can tell you about it.  It's called The Hunger Within.  Her name is Marilyn-Ann Migliore.  There's a workbook you can get if you're interested (at  I won't talk about the other people in the group, of course.  Their stories aren't mine to tell.  But it's powerful stuff, and it's apparently working.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ohhhh, yes I will.

I'm experimenting this week, as per the group therapy thing, with trying to separate physical hunger symptoms from environmental signals/conditioned responses ("It's lunchtime" or "Do I smell popcorn?"), and further from psychological signals, such as stomach grumblings when I'm anxious.  Did you know that a growling stomach does not indicate hunger?  I didn't know that.  I never knew that.  The stomach is not a good indicator of hunger.  (!) So apparently I've been feeding my anxiety all this time.  And I've had long, long bouts of chronic anxiety.  I really got a sense of that today when I got a mild reprimand at work and immediately started thinking about lunch, and this was about an hour after I'd had breakfast.  (And this is after I've had years of therapy and anti-anxiety training, medication, etc.)

Physical manifestations of hunger are central nervous system cues, such as shakiness, blurred focus, and that sort of thing.  A lot of nutritionists and therapists and dieticians and stuff try to tell you that the rest of hunger is the kind of thing that comes from environmental signals, and so all you have to do (ha) is try to get your mind off of it.  Turn the channel when the hamburger ad comes on (whoops, all the channels have hamburger ads on), or go for a walk.  Ha.  First, this won't actually help anything, because it's not about the ad, and the walk won't help, especially if you have self-loathing when it comes to exercise -- and/or physical pain from it.
The thing is that eating does actually temporarily reduce anxiety for someone like me.  It may only work as long as I keep eating, though.  I'm not a regular binger, in terms of sitting in from of the TV with a big bag of chips and a bowl of dip and finishing them off.  I do that sort of thing on occasion, but by no means every day.  But when I do, I find I plan for it, in the back of my consciousness, sometimes for the whole day.  Sometimes I only start planning it when I'm in the grocery store and, even when I'm doing that, I'm telling myself I won't do it.  OHHH no I won't!  OHHH yes you will! ...

Meanwhile, the therapeutic training I've had that is really helping me get into this without fear is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  I say "without fear" because there really is a part of me that is strangely scared by the process.  Probably from years of failed attempts (and by "failed" I mean that I tried to follow something that turned out to be unfollowable, and so predictably I couldn't follow it) and the fact that this process means closely examining the stories I tell myself about myself and then changing them.  It's a daunting process, and it brings up a lot of emotional pain.  But, luckily, CBT is on my side.  My daily quota of self-loathing has been much diminished thanks to the tools of CBT.  I've learned to recognize some of the stinkin' thinkin' to which I'm prone, and stop it before it starts.  No, I'm not "starving" -- that's pretty catastrophic!  Etc.

So, an interesting experiment.  I've spent a lot of time thinking, "Wait, am I hungry?  Maybe this isn't hunger.  It feels like what I think hunger is ... but is it?"  At my age, it's a strange thing to be realizing what I thought were clear physical signals were not, all along.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Looking at my old posts still -- and I found comments by a dear old friend that he apparently posted after I stopped looking.  That friend has passed away in the meantime.  Lots of loss in the last five years.  Not that I'm morose or maudlin; far from it.  But for a long time -- starting long before this blog got started -- I struggled with a deep and persistent depression, probably from childhood.  Surprisingly, it's not always obvious to a person that they're in a struggle for their lives, which is a struggle I've been in at least a few times since I was a kid.  But the last time I got the help I needed to get through it, and I have the tools I need to get help the next time I need it (and the awareness to monitor for signs that I need it).  Lots of gains in the last five years.

That includes my current therapy group for disordered eaters.  I'll ask the leader of the group if she minds that I talk about the stuff here, because it's already incredibly useful, after two sessions.

I've done a fair amount of journaling (for me) on some of these issues, and I'll share some of that here.  Not too long ago, I made a long, long list of ways that my life and health will improve if I can lose the weight.  Not surprisingly, even that didn't spur me to a non-disordered way of behaving, because very little else ever has either.  I'll be interested to see if this group therapy helps, but it does seem to have already raised my awareness of some things I hadn't truly grasped before.  For the edification of those who have not experienced this problem (and especially for those who think this is something a person chooses for themselves), I will find that list and add it to the blog.

I guess I'm working up to the business at hand.  I'm a bit reticent to begin, for some reason, even after dusting off the cobwebs of the blog and all.  It's more personal that I usually get in front of the world (or the 5 people who will read this blog), so ... eek.  And, really, where to begin?  Not at the beginning, surely.

Well, it will work itself out.

Looking back ...

I'm shocked to discover that I had 1,064 hits on my old post about high thread count sheets.  That really surprises me!  Nothing like a rant about cotton to bring in the readers.

Well, I hope I can do as well in future!

Hoky smoke!

I left this blog behind 5 years ago -- I guess the twitterin' and the bookin' were just too easy.  It's very strange to look at these posts from The Future.  Pre-Obama and all.  So strange.

Well, these days I feel I have something to say, more or less, and so I'm going to be turning this blog over to the Me of Now.  I want to write about something that some of you will understand very well, and others may find tedious or laughable.  Well, you don't have to stay to read it then, obviously.  I'm going to be talking about my long, long, long struggle with obesity, what it has meant for my life and for my health, and specifically the surprisingly serious turn it has taken recently.  Many people seem to think that gaining weight is some sort of moral failure, and that somehow it is something a person chooses.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It can be agonizingly painful, limiting mobility and restricting even the simplest of activities. Solutions are usually temporary, and rebounding creates more havoc and self-loathing, if that's possible, than pre-diet states.  So, yeah.  Read on if you wish.

I also expect to go off-topic and occasionally ridiculous.  Such is life.