Sat 27 Aug, 2011 11:59 am
We all make one - a journey, that is. Like most people, mine has had its ups and downs - mostly ups, fortunately. I'm not really interested in talking about what's transpired to bring me to this point, but I'd like to journal a bit about moving forward. I suppose parts of the past will come out as they affect decisions ahead, but the focus is primarily intended to be, "What's next?"
I'm 55 years old, mother of two, wife of 22+ years (this time), business owner and probably the most self-reliant person I know. Actually, I think that's been my main goal all these many years - to be independent and self-reliant, possibly to a fault.
So, why open up now? Because the past couple years have been ones of major transitions. My health started failing, my children both left for college, and my husband has been dealing/struggling with long term unemployment. It's been a pretty ugly two years. I've been doing a pretty good job, I think, of keeping it all together in my independent, self-reliant way but I've finally realized that something needs to change.
Me. I need to change. I need to stop sucking it up to everyone but myself while at the same time wallowing in my head. My intent here is to move forward. To find some balance between complete self-reliance and wallowing.
I'll quickly highlight the current issues and then move on to intended solutions. First, I was put on three meds - supposedly for life - in Mar '10 after a second TIA/stroke event. Second, our COBRA coverage expires in October and the insurance companies won't insure me because of my medical histories. I'm eligible for a state run program that will cost me at least $11,000/year just for myself. I'll figure out how to insure the rest of my family next month when it becomes an issue. Third, in an attempt to get back to a normal weight last summer I broke my leg and spent six months on my ass regaining the 10lbs that I'd lost plus an additional 10 for good measure.
1) Get off all of my meds. I don't like the idea, the cost, or the side effects of taking any of them. I'm not dumb enough to quick-stop taking medications, particularly things like anticoagulants, bp meds, and statins. They were prescribed for a reason and I need to be careful about how I proceed.
2)Get back to a reasonable weight. I lost the bonus 10lbs over the spring/summer and now I need to focus on the 15lbs that will be me back to my decades-long adult (pre-menopausal) weight.
3)Deal with the emotional upheaval and baggage that a week ago brought me to the point of feeling like I was dying. That sounds more dramatic than it was. It was simply coming to grips with the reality that I could continue to silently wallow or I could get over my freaking self and make some changes.
1) Journal. In public, which is a HUGE change for someone who spent a lifetime becoming the most self-reliant person on the planet.
2)Get out of the chair! I need to be careful that my leg doesn't do me in. It's still quite sore and I need to be cautious what I ask of it. I have a health club membership that I use primarily for the therapy pool for my knees and back (a different long story) but I can also use the club for general exercise too.
3)Continue on with the diet plan that I started on Monday. I've never been more motivated in my life to get back to my normal weight.
4)Slowly and carefully eliminate my prescription drugs. I stopped taking my bp meds a couple months ago when I started taking CoQ10 to counteract the side effects of the statin and noticed that my bp dropped by 15 pts. The food plan that I'm on is low salt, low fat, low carb and after 5 days my bp was 110/67 this morning. I'll stay on the Plavix until October and then I'll switch over to a daily baby aspirin. I need to stay on the statin for as long as I'm losing weight. One of the things I recently learned is that weight loss is a primary trigger for cholesterol plaques, which makes sense when you think about fat stores being released and circulating through the system before being eliminated. Both my first (mini-stroke) and second (TIA) events occurred during weight loss. I wish I'd known then what I know now! Once I reach my target weight I'll keep taking oat bran daily to help absorb/eliminate cholesterol as I come off the statin drug. I'll also dial my primary md into the loop, although sometimes I think I know more about me and my health needs than she does.
Well, putting this in writing on a public forum is step 1. Keeping it going will be a challenge so I'll ask some of you to bump this up occasionally to help draw me out if I fall back into the abyss. Cheerleaders are welcome, as are comments of similar journeys you may be making.
I just completed a 5-day detox/quick start and I feel great! Better than I've felt in ages. I'm ready to move on to the slow, safe grind of losing 2 lbs/week for the next couple months until I reach my target weight.
I'm off one of three meds.
I've also gone for a 1.5 walk today (30 minutes, which is waaaaaaay slow for me) and I did some back strengthening exercises. My leg is sore but not too bad and my back isn't screaming at me. OH! I also bought an "Easy Yoga for Arthritis" cd which I'll check out soon. I've tried yoga in the past and my knees simply aren't up to it, but we'll see.
I've decided that this 55 year old with the body of an 80 year old is not going to cave. This is me coming out swinging.
Courage, La Belle . . .
I have faith in you. I admire your resolve.
Thanks, Set. I appreciate it.
Take it slowly. I once stopped taking a prescription "cold turkey" and then got very sick.
Good going, JPB, good post.
Only thing I'll add is that I figure you have seen recent articles about some study that showed eating nuts and soy protein may be more effective than statins for lowering LDL..
Who knows, may be just more contradictory information to deal with, but may be useful once you pull off the statins.
Will do, jw. The bp med was the easy one because I was already controlling it in other ways.
And, I might as well get this out of the way up front
now I need to focus on the 15lbs that will be me back to my
One of the lasting effects of the mini-stroke is some scarring in my brain near the language center which results in me making random, sometimes comical, grammar and word choice mistakes. I proofed that first post four times before I hit "reply" and only saw that mistake 5 minutes later. Sometimes I don't see the mistakes for hours or days. The scarring was discovered during the CT scan that I had for the TIA. At least it gave me an answer for all the goof-ball things that come through my fingertips.
I relate to a lot of what you say. Not specific money/ health issues, but the self-reliance thing and offshoots thereof.
I had a very similar thought the other day about starting something here to get goosed into going to the gym again -- my motivation has been terrible ever since my workout buddy moved to another state. I need to be accountable to someone other than myself, I think.
If you think it would be helpful to have someone else do that part of it with you (get back to working out, and keeping a record here), happy to do that on this thread.
That was new to me, osso, thanks!
You go, girl. I'm just a handful of years behind you, but I haven't had insurance for 15 years. All my friends with insurance are forever popping pills and getting tests and thinking they are sick. I believe we can control the majority of physical problems with good diet, lifestyle (no smoking) and exercise. It's not 100% prevention, but I think it's close to 90% or at least you delay illness for years. One day at a time, better food, better activity (you don't have to do anything more drastic than a long walk everyday) and you will be amazed at how your body will heal itself.
diet, diet, diet.
(nut thin crackers are worse than asparagus for odor, BTW)
be careful out there...
I am here to cheer you on, JPB, and encourage you when you need it.
Certainly there is a lot you can do to help yourself along the way, but I am a bit concerned about your medication, especially since you've had a stroke already. Before you leave off any medication, you should have a thorough physical and have your blood tested too, please.
It sure is disgusting that insurances are still in the driver seat - the reform did not help anyone but insurances themselves. That's a whole other issue though.
Good luck, JPB, you're strong and have a lot of determination - what your mind conquers your body will too!
Yes, please! Welcome aboard!
You're right, GW - we do tend to take health care for granted when it's being paid for by someone else. I'm not brave enough to go without because I'm at a high risk for stroke. I didn't work hard all these years to end up with all of our assets ending up in the hands of the medical community.
But, I do intend to do everything in my power to keep my health in a better place.
RH -- ha, I think I'm going to skip the nut crackers. I went to a "raw food" center with a friend this spring and they had all sorts of creative ways to make foods. Not my thing, but I'm sure they're all good for you.
CJ -- you're right. I do need to be very cautious. I had my labs done in June and notified my primary that I'd taken myself off of the bp med and why. I'll get a baseline cholesterol before coming off the statin - and that will only be when I reach my target weight - and then monitor it going forward. The baby aspirin vs Plavix choice is one of economics and need. It's over $300/month and I simply can't do that once we lose our COBRA coverage. I have a long history of strokes/embolisms/phlebitis in my family so I know I need to take at least an aspirin/day. The Plavix was chosen because of that history, my age with multiple events, and the fact that it was covered by insurance. I'll be careful. Thanks.
JPB - looks like you've got yourself a solid plan (though I worry a little about you cutting out prescription drugs). Good luck. I'll be following your progress....
JPB, You are a major good kid, and I'm sorry to hear that you're having a rough time.
I'm hardly a health maven, but I've been through a lot--weightwise, medicationwise, and health insurance wise.
I'll be happy to offer moral support. Wish I could do more.
I confess that I was a bit alarmed to read that you want to eliminate all your meds. Like I said, I'm offering my support, but I have to throw in an oy. It's my nature.
When I was a child, my father gave me some basics for fighting--defense and offense. You come out swinging, kid. The woild better duck.
So, you sometimes write like the rest of us sometimes write.
OK will do!
I'll keep my first goal realistic so I can attain it and get some "yay I did it" momentum going -- I shall, I shall I say, get to the gym next week (Monday - Friday).
I believe that most persons can gain very good health through natural means, that each person is responsible to seek out that which meets their specific needs. And of course, if you are on medication to disengage slowly, cautiously, as you discover what works in its stead. I think you already know this, but I just want to say it by way of encouragement.
Not to get off on a cholesterol tangent, but here I go - I read an article in the Atlantic back in the eighties, titled "The Cholesterol Myth", that set me to thinking about the nature of plaque formation. The author, if I remember, out of Harvard school of med, was vilified or at least denounced, probably lost his position or at least power to get grants, and then was rehabilitated reputation wise quite a number of years later as not such a wacko after all.
Of course, I've no idea of the pros and cons scientists are working with now, but that old article rings a bell after reading the LA Times recent one.
I'm one of those people who think high cholesterol is not really the problem. It has more to do with inflammation, bacteria and other factors in our diet and lifestyle. Before getting hooked on the typical American diet, Eskimos ate an almost all meat diet and had no strong history of strokes or heart attacks, even as they aged. As the Eskimo communities started to eat more processed food their health deteriorated until a large portion of the population now suffers from diabetes, obesity, heart attacks and strokes. This happened in one generation. They were much better off eating blubber. There is a lot of information on this and all sides can easily be found on the web.