Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Six Week Challenge

Things are finally settling down in my face. I went through a really awkward peeling phase, which was accompanied by a general sand papery appearance. I'm thinking about trying oil cleansing for my face. I've done a lot of online research about the most gentle way to clean faces with rosacea, and oil cleansing seems to be it. No harsh soaps, no weird chemical additives or perfumes, and no drying. I still have some residual redness in my face that hopefully will start to fade now, but it's not nearly as bad as it was just a few days ago.

I've been complaining about how I don't have a hobby. I love spending time in the kitchen, but when you're trying to lose weight and stop obsessing about food, standing at the counter with a mixing bowl in front of you isn't exactly the road to success. About two weeks ago, I had some time to myself. I had already cleaned the house and I still had hours to myself. I didn't want to sit down in front of the computer or the tv. I sit for hours and then have absolutely nothing to show for it, except for the possibility of excessive knowledge in easy DIY hairstyles for hair I don't have and a sore tailbone. Instead, I sat down at our piano. Our piano was a gift from Brad's grandmother when she went into the nursing home. I love this piano. It's small, but beautiful. It fits into our dining room perfectly. I took piano lessons a couple times as a child, but never really applied myself. I love music, but I did not enjoy the prospect of spending an hour or so a day seated at the piano, plunking out kiddie tunes when what I wanted to be was a virtuoso. Alas, I was no prodigy. I stink at sight reading. I rarely count. I have a repetoire of about five songs, but only about the first line or so. When I got up from the piano about 20 minutes later, I felt good. I had exercised my brain and my love of music. We've had the piano for about seven years, but I've only sat at it a handful of times. I dug out what little sheet music I have, and began to play. What amazed me was how much music came back to me. Songs that I haven't played in 14 or 15 year were suddenly being played.

I try and sit at the piano at least once a day. The boys are interested, and will plunk along for a minute or two, but then move onto playing with cars, or doing some art. One of my happiest childhood memories is of my mother playing the piano in the parlor, while we kids were tucked away in our beds. We'd shout out our requests, which were normally this Chopin nocturne. I hope that someday soon, I can provide my kids with similar happy memories.

I feel like my mental health, while not back to normal, is in a good place. I feel like I'm making progress. I do think that warmer, sunnier weather can only help. And since I feel like I'm in a better mental place, I think it's time to start getting myself into a better physical place. Last September, before Sam took that drastic turn in early September, I was losing weight with the Eat to Live plan. It's basically a whole foods vegan diet with a emphasis on raw vegetables. The intense program lasts six weeks. I think I can do it. Brad said that we can take some money out of our tax return and buy some new clothes. That alone is motivation enough. I've been wearing the same summer clothes since Jack was about 18 months old. I just haven't been interested in wearing anything cute when I myself haven't felt that great about myself. I know that I'm my own harshest critic, but I do know that losing 15 pounds would only be beneficial to my health.

So, my plan is to start tomorrow. I'll do my before pictures, take some measurements and all that. I'm going to blog my progress, if for no other reason that to stay accountable to myself. I want to see this through. I lack the willpower to see so many things through to the end. I need to prove to myself that I can actually finish a project. I'm going to aim for physical activity every day. I've been surprised as to how little I move some days. I spend a lot of time standing up cleaning and cooking, and a lot of time sitting with the kids, but not really moving. Hopefully at the end of the six weeks, I'll be more active and more healthy, and definitely proud of myself for following through on something.

Monday, March 17, 2014

My Itchy Bump in the Road

The last time I was on here, I was a poster child for the awesomeness of Wellbutrin. I was ready to scream the benefits of it from the rooftops, and I still would, even if I'm not on it anymore.

Dear Reader, I am sure you are perplexed as to why I am not on said wonder drug. It started with some itching in the car a couple weeks ago. I assumed my sweater was the culprit and changed as soon as I got home about eight hours later. I continued to itch that night. When I woke up the next morning, it was gone.

Two days later, it happened again. As it was in the evening, I took some benedryl and headed to bed. I thought that maybe I just had a weird virus that was manifesting itself in the form of insane itching and hives. I woke up the next morning feeling hung over, but the itching is gone.

The next day, I had a follow up appointment to talk about my amazing progress on wellbutrin. As I was heading out the door, I asked him casually if the wellbutrin could be causing the itchiness and hives. His eyes got wide and told me to make sure I knew where my inhaler was and if it happened again, to call him and let him know. That was not the news I had hoped for.

That night, I started with a little itchiness. I tried to convince myself that it wasn't happening. And that worked until 3am. I woke up scratching my lower back so hard that I was bleeding. 30 minutes later, I still was not able to stop the scratching and go back to sleep, so more benedryl it was for me.

I called my doctor's office the next morning and left a message for a nurse to call me back about the itching. I have never gotten a call back so quickly. It's funny how mentioning hives and allergic reaction can catch one's attention. So, I've been off medication for about 10 days now. I'm waiting to see if my total shit insurance company will cover Cymbalta. I really hope I hear back soon. I'm feeling very listless and wanting to be left alone again.

When I was in the doctor's office to talk about new medication, I mentioned that I was having problems with my skin. It's been acting up since September. At first, I thought it was eczema and hoped it would go away much like all the other times I've had scaly spots. It did not. It continued to spread over my face. I would happily trade my skin now my skin when I was 16. I've never had acne, but I do now!

I've tried all I could at home, but I was not having any luck in getting rid of it. My dear doctor, whom I've been seeing for 11ish years now, suggested trying some prescription strength cream that has salyclic acid and erythromicin in it to get it under control.

Oh. My. God. Would that I could go back and say no thanks. Words that would describe my face right now would be: painful, dry, bright red, painful, splotchy, peely, prickly, scabby, painful, puffy, painful, etc..

This would be my face Saturday morning.

I should never have touched that stuff. Thanks to Dr. Google, I have deduced that I have indeed had a reaction to the acid and it should take 10 days to two weeks for my skin to go back to normal. I plan on being a hermit until then. I cannot hide this under makeup. Makeup makes the whole feeling on my face more intense and uncomfortable. Touching my face is a dangerous game. Either it'll hurt, or it will set off a vicious cycle of itching and scratching which eventually ends up hurting.  Jack cannot stop trying to touch it, and Cyrus needs to touch it in order to go to sleep. I am not a happy camper. Every time I see myself in the mirror, it surprises me. Then, I can't help but lean in really close, and examine my face and hope for a spot that's starting to clear. There's been no clearing yet, but I can tell you that I will certainly be leaving well enough alone for a long time to come.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Long overdue

It has been way too long since I've updated my blog. There's been a lot on my plate in the past year. For those of you who don't know, my dear sweet nephew, Sam, was diagnosed with leukemia on July 5th, 2012. His diagnosis was a huge shock to our family and a huge motivating factor for me trying to get myself in the best health possible. And for a while, things were going well. Sam was responding  well to treatment, and I was making progress in taking care of myself.

On May 1, 2013, we found out that the cancer that Sam had fought so courageously had returned. He fought and fought the cancer, trying every available treatment and even to the point of having a new trial written up just for him. He was transferred from UVA to the National Cancer Institute in NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, back to UVA, and ultimately back to Bethesda. Try as he might, his body just wasn't responding to any treatment the way we'd hoped. He passed away quietly, in his sleep, in the early morning hours in October 28th, 2013.

 Sam and me

My heart broke for Sam and those of us left behind. Grief is such a raw and painful experience. It makes people uncomfortable to see people grieving. No one knows what to say to someone who has lost a loved one, especially someone so young.

I struggled. I struggled with carrying on. I wanted to pretend like nothing had happened. I didn't want anyone to acknowledge my pain because I didn't know how to handle it myself. I slowly started slipping. Slipping into the cocoon of depression. It was almost comforting. I stayed at home. I talked to people only to keep up appearances that I was okay. I felt disconnected from my kids, but clung to them desperately. I bristled every time Brad tried to hug me. I just kept asking him to bear with me, that I would be better soon. I just wanted to be alone.

I started bringing my food vices back into the house: chocolate, cookies, anything sweet. I wasn't strictly plant based anymore. Oil was suddenly used here and there. Fewer vegetables were eaten. Eggs and milk were suddenly okay.

In short, I was completely and totally miserable, and it took me a long time to see it.

I finally decided it was time to help myself. I made an appointment to go see my general practitioner to talk about starting treatment. I've started seeing a grief counselor, but what has truly changed me has been wellbutrin. I have never been a big fan of using pharmaceuticals, but I just wanted to feel better.

Two weeks after starting it, I felt better, but it wasn't exactly what I'd hoped. Then, I reread the directions. In my mental fog, while I had read that I needed to take it twice a day, I had only been taking it once. Oops! So, now that I've finally been taking it correctly, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I don't want to spend all day on the couch watching tv. I want to move. I want to spend time with my kids, not send them off on their own. I want to spend time with family and friends again. In short, I feel like I did before all of the weight and pressure of Sam happened. I feel like I did before I had Jack. I realize now that the depression had been creeping up on me for years, but the process had been so slow that I hadn't realized it.

This evening, as I was putting my sweet boys to sleep, I realized that I want to do everything in my power to keep on feeling this way. I don't want to be on wellbutrin forever. I made a list of things I need to keep things moving forward in the direction of happiness and goodness in my life. First, I need to exercise. I love to run, which is something I never thought I'd say, but Sam's love of running won me over. I need to put effort into my personal appearance. I need to get my haircut on a more regular basis, instead of once every six months or so. I need to see a dermatologist about the eczema/rosacea on my face. I need to lose about 20 pounds. I need new clothes. I haven't bought nice clothes for myself since I was pregnant with Jack almost six years ago. I really need a hobby. I need something to keep me occupied and fill my free time instead of watching tv or surfing the internet.

And so, I plan on keep up to date here on my progress toward these goals. I want to succeed. I want to be happy, and I've finally decided to do something concrete about it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday weigh in and having time alone

First things first, this morning, I weighed 179.2. Not great, but for once, it didn't bother me. I know that I'm doing the right stuff, and I'm really working on cutting back on snacking and nuts. Apparently, I have a vicious addiction to raw cashews. I'm working out more, and I have my little coach, Jack, to help motivate me. Jack is constantly asking me why I do certain exercises, or why I'm not doing the more difficult version of an exercise. On one of the Jillian Michaels' dvds that my sister, Abbey, is letting me borrow, Jack's even chose one woman that he thinks is extra pretty. I exercised every day last week except for Tuesday, when we were running late in getting out of the house.

Since having Jack, I've had very little time in which to be truly alone. I don't say this in a grumpy way. I love my kids, and Brad and I consciously chose to have me stay at home with them before we ever became parents. I don't regret this decision at all, and I'm thankful to Brad for shouldering the burden of being the only one bringing home a paycheck. That being said, there are times when I need some time to be alone. It's not a want, it's a primal need. The kids are constantly crawling over me, asking to be held, needing pains assuaged, reassurance that I'll always be there. I love being that rock for them, but there are times when I just don't want to be touched anymore. Times that I don't want to take care of anyone else but myself. Times when I can sit down without having someone try to crawl into my lap, or poke me in the eyes and mouth. I know that there are many of you out there that understand what I'm saying. So, yesterday, Brad took over as primary caretaker for the children, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and more importantly, the kids enjoyed spending time with Brad. Again this morning, Brad took the kids to his parents' house as his normally does, and while I've enjoyed more time to myself, I miss my boys. And there lies the most important part of time alone. When we are reunited, I am so ready to enjoy the cuddles and giggles. I'm better prepared the handle Jack's moments of inner turmoil, and Cy's meltdowns at our inability in to understand what he's trying to communicate.

I'm sitting here on the couch, awaiting the arrival of my kids, and I feel so ready for it.

 How could you not want snuggles from this baby?

I love exploring the world through Jack's eyes.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Long overdue

Ugh. So it's been a long, long time since I've updated here. Long story short, I haven't had much success in the weight loss front. In fact, I've gained weight. I'm back up to 179, but it's not all bad. I've made exercise a part of my life now. I exercise anywhere between 3 to 6 days a week. I have more definition in my arms than I've ever had, and underneath some excess padding, I can feel my abs! I've never had abs. With the beginning of vegetables coming in, I'm excited to start eating fresh, local produce. I've missed it over the winter. I know that eating from the garden, be it from mine or a local farmer's, will help me finish this whole weight loss thing. I want it done. I look at the clothes I have in my closet, and I wonder what on earth I will wear this summer. I don't do shorts. A dear friend of mine is insisting that we will find shorts that will be kind to my figure, but I just don't see anything that's within my budget that doesn't make me look ridiculous. So, I peruse websites and dream of fitting into some of these oh, so fashionable shorts. Boden is a new found favorite.

As I was drifting through a page of clothes that were priced way out of my lifestyle, I realized what I was lamenting more than my inability to buy the clothes. I was lamenting that I wasn't working on getting myself in the shape that I wanted. I have become complacent. So, I am rededicating myself to myself. That sounds a little odd, but there it is.

Part of my problem is that I am tired. Cyrus is working on getting his two year molars, and his sleep is very interrupted at night. Part of that might be that he's the size of a two year old, and that he needs more space in the bed than we can currently provide him if both of us are in bed with him. So, bunk beds are on the short list of purchases that need to be made soon. I digress. But, I'm not sleeping at night, and Jack is no longer taking a nap during the day, so I'm not getting a break at all during the day. I feel like my days are a marathon for which I am constantly unprepared. So, I'm hoping that when we move Cy out of our bed and into his own, I'll finally start getting some regular sleep. Hopefully.

So, I plan on blogging again with some regularity. I think it will help clear the cobwebs from my head. I feel like I just need to shake out some thoughts in order to approach my days with some clarity and calm that I just don't have right now. I'm going to try and blog at least once a week, hopefully more.

Until next time! Tah!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Starting again

So, it's been a while since I've posted about my health. It's been frustrating. I've been hanging around 175-177 for months now. I think that a lot of my stall has to do with the fact that I haven't been blogging about my struggle to get healthy again. I started a Biggest Loser type contest with some friends, and while I've finally started exercising again, I haven't been losing weight. I am seeing some differences in my arms, though, so that's encouraging.

I'm going to start posting my weight again. I think that the fear of posting my weight really helped motivate me to make the best choices in my diet. I eat too many nuts, and I need to cut chocolate out completely. Cocoa powder is fine, but chocolate is too high in fat. I've been keeping up with the whole foods, plant-based diet, but I haven't been  keeping with the low to no-fat aspect of the diet as much as I need to. Occasionally, eggs or milk will sneak into my diet in the form of baked goods, but it's minimal, and I can easily stop it.

Right now, I'm struggling with late night nibbling. After the kids have finally gone to bed, I like to just sit on the couch, sometimes for the first time that day, and watch TV, or surf the interwebs. It is these painfully simple things that I enjoy so much. I am on my feet all day long, and if I attempt to sit down, I immediately have two kids diving head first into my lap.

While I do love these snuggles, there are times when I am completely touched out, and I want to have my body to myself. Cy has started an unfortunate habit of shoving his hands down articles of clothing. His current favorite is my pants. When he's going to sleep, it's down the front of them. If I sit or squat down, he goes for the back. There's something kind of disturbing about baby hands down the back of your pants.

Jack is starting to cut back on naps. He still gets a nap a couple times a week, but it's no longer everyday. I suppose I can't expect daily naps when he's four. Cy is also cutting down on naps to one plus maybe a little one a day. Part of me is sad that there aren't two guaranteed long naps a day, but I also look forward to not worrying about being home in time for naps. I feel so tethered to the house in order to keep precious nap and meal schedules.

So often, friends will ask to get together. And while I so want to, it is inevitably during a nap for one or both of the kids. So for now, occasionally my social life will pay the price for well rested children.

I have started venturing out without the kids in tow. I went to dinner with my fellow LLL leaders last Friday, and it was nice to sit down and eat a meal and enjoy company without the added challenge of keeping Cy entertained.

So, I am going to start posting my weight again, and hopefully we'll see me push past this plateau and finally get to my goal of getting back to my old self.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


As we left Sharp Shopper today, Jack was walking ahead of me. As I looked at this little boy with his shopping bag hanging from his right arm the way old women carry their purses, all I could think of was how much I loved this little boy. His clothes were big, his shoes a little flippy in the heels, his hair stood up from the way he sleeps at night. He had a ball point pen mustache drawn on by yours truly.

He was completely happy with his appearance, and I was happy with him. We've had a lot of ups and downs since Cy was born. There have been more downs than ups, but over the past 2 months or so, we've started having giggles again. And now, I'm happy with being a mother of two. It has definitely been a challenge. Navigating naptimes and meals and competing needs left me feeling drained, resentful, and guilty. It was harder than I had imagined to meet these two little people's needs, and I would get frustrated at Jack for not understanding that there were times that I needed him to be older. Then I would inevitably feel guilty about all of this. How could I expect Jack to be older than what he was?

Cyrus just celebrated his first birthday and I feel that the party was as much for me as it was for him. I made it. I had made it through the first year. All those diaper changes, and all night nursing sessions, and heavy drooling due to teething starting at two months old, all of it--I did it. I made it! I had met all these challenges, and overcome them.

So, as for my mental health, I feel like I'm doing well. There are days that are more challenging than others, but I do feel that there are more better days than not. We've got a rhythm to our days, and every Wednesday, Jack goes over to his grandparents' house. He loves the time to do whatever he wants without being told to watch out for his brother. I enjoy being able to spend time with Cy and getting to know his sunny personality.

So, I'm feeling good today. Maybe it's because Jack's been napping this week, maybe not. All I know is that as I followed Jack out of the store, I was happy.