Archive for the 'weight loss' Category

21
Jun
08

June 20, 2008

Big news today is that I’m down 2.4 pounds since Monday the 9th – total down now is 24.6. I haven’t been this light since I was at PSU 4 years ago. It feels really good!

I decided that one possible cause of the fatigue was due to a change in my medications. The insurance company recently switched me over to the generic version of Zyrtec for my allergies when Zyrtec went over the counter – I thought maybe part of the problem was my allergies breaking through because the generic wasn’t working as well. I bought some Zyrtec the other day, and have been taking it instead of the generic, and so far, it doesn’t seem to have helped with the tiredness.

When I saw the oncologist for my quarterly check-up, he told me to check back in a week if I was still experiencing excessive fatigue. So I called him, and he decided I need to have another CT scan to check for pulmonary emboli, and then he added on a brain MRI.

So every time I’m sick, I have to worry that I’ve got cancer or another PE? That really annoys me! Of course, it annoys me more that my solution (changing my allergy meds) didn’t work – why couldn’t it be that simple? I asked him why I couldn’t just go to my primary care, and have her check me out for something fairly simple – but he feels that he needs to rule out “the big stuff” before I go that route.

Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I mean, usually when you start ruling out things, you check the easy stuff first – no, it’s not bronchitis; no, you just need new glasses; no, your ears are ringing because you were at a rock concert.

Until I got breast cancer, my doctors always assumed I had “small” stuff – if I had pain in my chest, it was due to overtaxed muscles; if I was coughing, it was a cold; if I had headaches, it was sinus problems or stress.

Now I don’t need to be a hypochondriac – my doctors are doing it for me.

Brian says, “Great, you’re outsourcing!”

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13
Jun
08

June 13, 2008

Can you say “hypovitaminosis”? I knew that you could!

The test results from my first quarterly check-up with my oncologist are back – no thyroid problems, no organ function problems, but I am Vitamin D deficient. Not radically so, the number is just on the very low end of the normal range. The doctor wanted me to take another 200 I.U., and while I was on the phone with the nurse, I told her that I am already taking 2000 I.U. daily in a Vitamin D supplement, plus I think there’s some in my Calcium supplement (I’ve been on this dose for a couple months). She checked with the doctor, who said that I should maintain this dosage for three months and we’ll do a re-check at the next quarterly appointment.

I asked if D hypovitaminosis (isn’t that a fabulous word?!?) could be the cause of my general fatigue, but she didn’t think so, and based on a quick google of the disease, it’s not a typical symptom. On the other hand, it is possible that I have had a deficiency of Vitamin D all my life, since my knees are valgus ($20 word for knock-kneed) – this is one way in which rickets presents in children.

Recently, Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a predisposition for some cancers, including breast cancer; it also is listed as a predisposing condition for IBD, MS, ischemic heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and others. I so do not need any of these!

For now I’ll operate under the presumption that my fatigue is related to recovery from surgery, even though it is more than 3 months since the last one. If it continues, I’ll pester the doctor again prior to my quarterly exam.

In other news, since I’m not downtown today (taking the day off), I’ll weigh in on Monday, then try to get back onto my normal Friday weigh-in meeting schedule. According to my home scale, my weight is stable since the last weigh-in on Monday. So last night I stopped at the store and bought some rabbit food, because I haven’t been eating enough fruits and vegetables the last couple weeks. It may be too little, too late; but then again, better late than never.

09
Jun
08

June 9, 2008

Considering what a bad girl I was last week, it hardly seems fair that my weight went down. Only 0.6 pounds, but hey, down is down. I suspect that the long working hours, the short sleep, and the hauling of boxes, walking from event to event, and general busyness counterbalanced the fried foods; the cheeses and sauces; the pasta, breads, pastries, baked goods, and desserts; and the 1/2 Lemon Drop and one Hefeweizen. I also tried to eat small portions, so even though I had a lot of unhealthy things, I didn’t eat much of any one thing. At one meal, there were no vegetables other than artichoke poppers, spanikopita, and caesar salad drenched in dressing – so I grabbed some tomato wedges that were garnishing the salmon platter. So far, I don’t seem to be having any symptoms of salmonella.

The symposium went extremely well, and with only a couple hitches that were fairly easy to rectify. The early mornings were hard, but plenty of coffee got me through the day. By the end of the 3rd day, my feet were killing me, and wearing heels messed up my back a little bit, although it does seem to be recovering fairly quickly. Interestingly, I can’t remember having a single hot flash during the symposium – however, I was having them the night before, and I have had a couple since. Go figure.

I had my first quarterly exam with the oncologist today, and he seems pleased with how I’m doing. When I complained about being tired (after I’d already told him about the nasty cold and the very long hours), he responded (in a manner that bordered on snarkasm) that who wouldn’t be, after all that? However, he did check my blood oxygen level to confirm that I don’t have another pulmonary embolism (my cold symptoms were similar enough to PE symptoms that he just wanted to make sure); and I’d already had a thyroid blood test scheduled because I’d been complaining about being tired prior to the cold. My blood counts (both red and white) are normal, so I’m not anemic, and hopefully I should have the results back on the thyroid test in a couple days. Since I’m losing weight, I suspect that I’m not hypothyroid – my skin is definitely not dry, either, which seems contraindicative. Apparently a lot of people have few or no symptoms of hypothyroidism – and my older brother is hypothyroid, so it’s possible it runs in the family. Guess I’ll find out. . .

03
Jun
08

June 2, 2008

Woo-hoo! I weighed in today – the first time since May 16 (nearly 2-1/2 weeks ago), and I’m down 2.8 pounds! I’ve reached 20 pounds down, plus some – and last week was a *bad*, *bad* week in terms of what I ate.

This week is starting out OK, but will be challenging on Weds thru Friday, because I’ll be working our user symposium, which means that I’m not going to have a lot of healthy food choices. I’ll just have to be vigilant and very focused on avoiding the really bad (i.e., good) stuff. I won’t be able to get back to my regular Friday weigh-in this week, due to the symposium, so I’ll weigh in again next Monday.

I’ve also been fighting a cold the last two weeks, and am finally getting over it – not completely, but nearly there. It hit me really hard – I have pooh-poohed everyone who has been telling me that I shouldn’t overdo it, because I’m still recovering; but obviously there’s been a lot of denial on my part. Usually, if I do catch whatever is going around, it’s fairly mild – in general, I’m pretty darn healthy. So for something to exhaust me the way this has means that my body is still very depressed (physically, not mentally). I’ve been telling people that I’m no longer immune-compromised because my white blood count is back to normal, but the reality is that the immune system is just that – a system composed of several parts. Apparently other parts of my system are not in as good shape as the white blood cells. This is at least the third time I’ve been sick with something since mid-January (2 weeks after my last chemo), two of which have been since I went back to work at the beginning of April.

In other news, I’m a redhead once again. I decided to dye my hair again, and this time went with a red that matched my chemo wig. The first day or two it looked pretty purple in certain lights, but has settled down to being a lovely auburn. The only problem is, with it being so curly it kind of looks like a ‘fro, or a darker version of a short-haired Bozo wig. But in its natural color, basically salt-and-pepper (heavy on the salt), it was starting to look like the stereotypical little-old-lady perm. It’s going to be interesting getting through the growing-out stage where it’s not heavy enough to hang down at all. I have a vision of it being like an aura surrounding my head, perfectly spherical except where it breaks around my neck and face. That should be an interesting look, especially if I decide I don’t want to keep dying it, and have salt-and-pepper roots with red tips. Shudder!

Frankly, I liked the bald look better than the Dickens urchin look.

11
May
08

May 11, 2008

Yesterday was our big adventure – the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk!

Thank you to everyone who donated – as a team, we raised $1,995, just $5 short of our goal – many people were very generous, and Schrodinger as a company donated not only one quarter of the total amount, but also paid for the team t-shirts.

Special thanks are owed to those who walked – Carolyn; Evelyn and Vada; Jenny and Lawrence, along with the girls, Lily and Addie; Laurie (and Bobbi the Corgi); Leah; Olimpia, Cole, and Daniel; and, of course, Brian (and Robin). We made it the full 4-mile circuit, and saw parts of Portland up close that I hadn’t really noticed before. To those of you who signed up to walk but had conflicts of various kinds (including leaving the country!), I know you were thinking of us as we walked: Heidi, James, Lynnette, Mike, and Shi-Yi; and I know each of you would have been there if you could have.

Particular thanks go to Jenny, whose idea it was to set up the team, who did all the organizing, and who put her feet to the pavement in support.

I don’t know yet how much the overall Walk earned in donations, but we saw many teams, and many survivors participating – if their friends, family, and co-workers were as supportive as mine, then I’m sure that the American Cancer Society met its own goal.

For my part, as well as being grateful to and inspired by my team, I walked for those who have touched my lives who have been hit with breast cancer (and some other cancers, also). I carried a banner with the following names:

In Memory of:
Mom (although she did not die of breast cancer, she showed me how to handle it with strength and humor)
Peter’s mom

In Honor of:
Aunt Pat (x2)
Steph
Teddy
Shirlie
Karen
Monica
Sue
Joyce
Evelyn
Yvonne
Helen
Jolene
Nancy
Kristin
Aunt Julia (chronic lymphocytic leukemia)
Cathy (ovarian)
Penny (adrenal)
Jody (glioma)
Elaine (colorectal)

And, of course, for those whom I have never met, yet who have walked, or will walk, the breast cancer journey.

Yesterday after we got home, Robin and I took a long nap, and went to bed early. I had some stiff joints and some soreness, and still do today, but other than being tired, I’m really pleased at how easy it was, and how relatively little the long walk affected me.

I celebrated by having pizza for dinner last night! After adding up all my points from yesterday (and subtracting the 4 points of activity from the walk), I only dipped into my weekly points by 1/2 point – hooray! I’ve had two weigh-ins since the last post – on Friday the 2nd, I was down 0.6 pounds, and on Friday the 9th, I was down 1.4 pounds for a total of 2 pounds in 2 weeks. Sadly, I didn’t quite make my first mini-goal of losing 10% of my weight as I had hoped to by the 9th, but I am now within 0.6 pounds of reaching it (in my last post, I said I had 2.2 pounds to go, but I was mistaken – at that point it was actually 2.6 pounds). So progress is being made, which keeps me motivated to continue the good work. I need to start thinking about what target I will choose for my next mini-goal, once I’ve hit the 10% goal. My girlfriend Laura chose her roommate’s daughter’s weight as her next goal (and already met it – yay Laura!) – I suppose I could go for losing a “Robin” of weight, but since he’s about 5 or 6 pounds overweight himself, that would mean I’d have to lose nearly 30 pounds to reach my next goal. On the other hand, I could choose a “Jasmine”, but since the little poodle barely weighs a couple tenths’ more than 9 pounds, that goal seems too close. Anyway, I guess I’ll keep thinking about a goal that is close enough to keep me motivated, without being so close that I reach it too soon – the weight of either my yarn or fabric stashes are beyond my final goal; since I’m so into books, maybe I should plan on losing the Oxford English Dictionary (in its multi-volume incarnation, not the one-volume version that comes with a magnifying glass).

Today is a “lazy” day – I’m going to try to get Robin out for a walk, assuming the weather cooperates, but other than that, I’m going to do some reading, some beading, and other than that, nothing much else.

Happy Mother’s Day to Charlene, and to Aunt Pat,

Love, Julie

26
Apr
08

April 26, 2008

Not a lot going on the last couple weeks – I was down on the 18th with a headache that was as bad as a migraine, but was different from the way I usually experience migraines. It actually started on the night before, and kept me awake most of the night – I even took some of my left-over pain pills from the surgery, and they didn’t touch it at all. It eventually subsided to a bearable level Friday evening, but lingered through Monday, more like a tension-style headache.

This week, I worked late most nights making up the time I missed on the 18th – I have been extremely tired all week. Once I get home from work, I need to wind down, no matter how tired I am, so even though I was tired enough to want to sleep, I wasn’t sleepy. This meant that I ended up going to bed very late, and not able to sleep in much. So today I am lolling around in my sweats and slippers, reading, writing, beading, maybe napping.

Tomorrow I want to go to the Art & Elegance in Beads show at the Oregon Convention Center – I am particularly interested in finding some focal beads – typically they sit around for a while and tick around in my brain until I come up with a plan to use them – there’s not usually a specific thought process on “What am I going to do with this?”, but I’ll see something in a magazine or online, or even in person at a store, and it will trigger the thought of a particular bead I have, and I begin designing something. Sometimes, though, I just buy some beads that will go with a particular focal bead, and just sort of make something happen with them. Of course, then there are the projects for which I specifically choose a pattern and follow the supply list religiously – usually so I can learn a new technique. I have more projects than I know what to do with.

I also have a sort-of sculptural diorama project I’ve been contemplating, involving some carved animal-shaped stones that came in a surprise package I ordered from Fire Mountain Gems – I’ve gotten some strands of stone-chips to use for the project, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to use as the base of the diorama. My mother-in-law saw a shell-shaped bowl and suggested it (the theme is ocean-related), and it hit me that a plate or platter of some form would be perfect for the base. So now I have to start keeping an eye out for the perfect platter to use – I have to get out more, obviously, because I’m not going to find it just going between home and work ;-}

My weight started back down again – I’ve been really working hard, especially this week, to get back on track. It can be frustrating, when I know I’m following the plan closely, to have little movement, or even to gain a little. But so far I’ve managed not to fall into the trap of giving up when I have a bad weigh-in. My previous weigh-in was two weeks ago, and I went up; I missed the 18th because I was sick (but my weight didn’t seem to have shifted at all, at least according to my scale at home); so this week it was a pleasant surprise to find out I’d gone down 3.4 pounds for two weeks. I got an “Ooo” (an *impressed* “Ooo”) from the group when I mentioned that this had included a meal at The Melting Pot. My total lost so far is 15.4 pounds, and I’m within 2.2 pounds of my first mini-goal of losing 10%. I hope to achieve that in two weeks. This drop also meant that I had to recalculate my daily points – I was just getting used to the relatively new level of 22 points per day, and now I’m down to 20 points per day. That means I have to eat more 0 point snacks (veggies, veggies, veggies!) and really focus on planning my meals so that I don’t get taken by surprise. I could save points by giving up my half-and-half in my coffee, but I’d rather give up so many other things, except maybe chocolate. . .

Another thing I need to work on is increasing my activity. I bought the Weight Watchers pedometer that calculates how many points-worth you walk, and because my job is so sedentary (pretty much sitting in front of the computer, typing all day), I rarely even make it to the level where I start earning one point – how sad is that? I’ve been trying to get out of the office for a walk, at least when the weather is not completely uncooperative. The week before, I was very good about getting out for a walk with Robin after I got home from work, but with the late nights last week, I didn’t get out once. The office building where I work has just added a fitness room, free to the building tenants, that opens up for use on Monday, so I’m going to try to drag myself into work an hour early to see if I can get some workout time in – I am so not a morning person!

The other day, I had the odd experience of being surprised at remembering that I have had cancer. For the first time in a long time, it wasn’t an ever-present background thought, or being kept as a focus of my attention through pain, fatigue, lack of hair, having to take time off for doctor appointments, or being limited in what I can do physically. What a weird feeling – getting back to “normal”.

Julie

14
Apr
08

April 14, 2008

Friday was disappointing because my weight was up – only 0.6 pounds, but still. . .

Friday was great because we had beautiful weather, and I had to leave work early for a doctor appointment, so dang! I had to lower the convertible top. I hate it when that happens ;-}

Saturday was *hot*. I had to put the top down Saturday, too. Plus I went to a trunk show at Beads at Dusti Creek, and found some brilliant bargains, and have all sorts of new beading projects to work on. Dang.

Robin got a couple really good walks this weekend – on Saturday we went with the poodle and her mom to Bethany Lake park, and the only problem there was that it was firmly dusk coming back, so the gnats and mosquitoes were rising. We saw a miniature Australian Shepherd – I’d never heard of them before, and thought she was a puppy, but she was about three years old. Robin was intrigued, but didn’t stray from his poodle-love. On Sunday, we walked through the greenspace park north of our neighborhood (again with the poodle and her mom), and got to practice not freaking out on the busy street when cars come up from behind. We’re getting better about that ;-} Our next-door neighbor Arno, who’s around 5 or so, came over Sunday to ask if Robin could play, so they ran around the front yard, only it was hard to decide which one was chasing the other – I think they both thought they were in the lead.

I also power-washed part of the driveway – it is filthy, and had moss growing on it. It wasn’t too hard on my arms, but I realized too late that I was bending forward just slightly most of the time, and it made my back problems act up. I took an Epsom Salts bath when I came in from the yard, and I’ve been stretching and focusing on my core-strength exercises, trying to get it to clear up – I’ve also used an ice pack periodically. Unfortunately, I can’t take any anti-inflammatories, because of the blood thinner. I’ve got one month to go on that – I will be very happy to be done with the whole blood-clotting thing. But Brian gave me a nice massage last night, and that helped a lot. As long as I remember to get up and walk around periodically during the day at work, it seems to be maintaining, and not getting any worse.

Not much else to update – this was my second weekend after starting back to work, and I was not nearly as exhausted as I was on the first weekend. I still get tired, and my evenings after work consist of dinner and some reading, but I definitely see improvement in my stamina.

Interestingly, I don’t think I had a single hot flash today – either that, or I’m getting so used to them that I don’t notice them – nah, I definitely notice them!

My hair is really getting an attitude – it thinks it needs to be very curly, but it’s so short that it pokes out all over rather than laying flat. I don’t think I could get it to do this if I tried – oh, the wonders of chemotherapy! I see the plastic surgeon on Thursday for my 7-week check-up on the reconstruction. There’s still some swelling, but for the most part, I think he’s going to be ready to release me to doing whatever I feel like with lifting, etc., after one more week.

A reminder – there’s still time to join our walking team for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event on May 10. We’d love to have you walk with us – the link takes you to my page where you can either sign up to walk with the team (you don’t have to be a coworker – all friends and family are welcome), donate online, or print out a form to mail a donation in. There have been several extremely generous donations, and in addition to making a donation, my employer, Schrodinger, is buying our team t-shirts for the employees who sign up to walk. I still feel a little overwhelmed by how many people are showing their support by either walking, donating, or both. Thank you all – and know that as well as my gratitude, you have the gratitude of those who benefit from the American Cancer Society’s research, even if they can’t thank you in person.

Julie




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