Friday, October 16, 2009

My journey back to health

Preparation... 10-16-09 to 10-24-09

I am keeping a journal here on my blog of my journey to better health through weight loss and exercise. I'll start a new post every week and do a running log for that week only. That way, if you're following me, the most recent week will be at the top and you won't have to scan through old posts to find it.

My feelings and thoughts, in addition to helping me, may encourage someone else to take control of their own life. I've always tried to find the easy way out or a quick fix to problems... this time I realize there is no quick fix and I'm ready to accept that and finally get moving in the right direction. My hope is that I can stick to my program because talking about it will keep me focused.


This is me...Sandy...this picture was taken in May of 2009

This is Wayne and me in 2006. I was about 160 lbs and feeling pretty good. It's my goal, to get back to this weight. I was on a pretty high dose of prednisone at the time so my face is full due to the side effects.

The lights of my grandchildren.

Time for a little story I was staying at David & Kim's house earlier this summer...Morgan and Madison were heading off to bed. They had a candy bar or some sort of candy on the kitchen table. Morgan kissed everyone goodnight and started up to bed with the candy. Kim said, "Morgan, leave that on the table" to which she replied, "But grandma will eat it!" I nearly peed my pants laughing...out of the mouth of babes. This was a real "moment" for me because she was right...I probably would have.

A little background information:
I’m 62, have emphysema and need to lose weight and get into a healthy state of mind or I won’t be around to enjoy my family and grandchildren. I realize that I have got to make some serious changes in my life now. I decided to commit to a weight loss program and an exercise program before it's too late.

I had a dream job, as a college instructor doing what I always dreamed of doing…teaching radiology…my profession… at the college level.

I started teaching as an adjunct professor in 1990 at St. Petersburg College in St. Petersburg, Fl. In order to get a position as an instructor I had to get a college degree. So, in 1990 at the age of 43 I went to USF. It took me 9 years (I worked full time as an x-ray technologist, taught as an adjunct and went to college). I received my M.Ed. in Instructional Technology and Curriculum Development and went on to a part time position at Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Fl. In 2000 I moved into a full time position as the Clinical Coordinator in the Radiography Program at Greenville Technical College in Greenville, SC. I worked for 5 years until I ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks with MRSA and an exacerbation of my pulmonary disease. I was really in bad shape at that time and had to take four months off from teaching. In April I returned to the classroom and attempted to keep up the pace of teaching, doing clinical visits and all the extra committees and meetings required of the teaching staff.

In October of 2005 I began a downward spiral…to this day I don’t know what triggered it, but I assume it was because I couldn’t keep up with my responsibilities as an instructor due to my failing health. About this time I was put on oxygen with exertion. How embarrassing that was to drag that tank with me. I also was on a nebulizer every 4 hours.

The changes came on gradually, but brutally. I couldn’t eat or sleep and was just on my last nerve every minute of the day. I went to my pulmonologist begging to be put into the hospital. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I had a nervous breakdown because I couldn’t cope. I finally went to the emergency room and insisted on being admitted or being put onto something to help me calm down. Finally I was give medications to calm me down and help me sleep. I lasted until December 5th, 2005 when I had to quit my beloved job and go on disability retirement. I did it to myself through smoking and now I was going to pay for it. I began to gain control of my life after a few months and decided to look into new procedures available for COPD sufferers and found a research study at Cleveland Clinic.

The study evaluated the safety and effectiveness of the IBV Valve System for the treatment of severe emphysema. The research was experimental to help patients with acute and chronic conditions of the lung. As a believer in research I was thrilled to get into the selected group and to participate. An additional incentive is the fact that two of my sons live in the Cleveland area so I had free room and board too! I really worked hard to get into shape so the company would accept me into the study. I lost 50 pounds and went into pulmonary rehab at St Francis Hospital. Wayne and I went three times a week from January until June. I was up to walking on the treadmill for 50 minutes at a speed of 2.5 miles per hour. In addition I was working on machines to strengthen my muscles, especially chest muscles used for breathing. I was really proud of my accomplishments.I went into Cleveland Clinic in June, 2009 and had the surgery. Here is a link to the research information the valves didn't work for me and I had to have them removed after about a month.
At this point I think I gave up on myself and lost hope. I quit going to rehab and started to gain my weight back. I lost sight of the fact that my illness was progressive but that my quality of life depended on being a healthy weight and being as fit as possible.

My wake up call...
This summer I spent months with my sons and grandchildren in Ohio. The limitations I experienced were almost overwhelming. Even small trips out to the store or to a park were nearly impossible. In October we took a trip to Captiva, Fl with my brother and I had a rude awakening about my deteriorating health. Thank goodness he brought along a golf cart to help me get around the resort. I could hardly function at all. Walking just a few feet in the heat nearly put me into respiratory arrest. I couldn’t catch my breath and would have to stop doing whatever I was doing and rest until I could breathe again.

Denial bit me in the ass….I took a good look at myself a few weeks ago and saw how much my health has deteriorated. I have gained all my weight about 20. I can't walk across the room let alone a mile and my breathing is getting worse. I'm on oxygen at 2 liters at night, but find that I need it during the day if I'm attempting to do anything around the house. Getting dressed is a major feat and taking a shower exhausts me for hours. So it’s decision time… I either have to take charge of my life and get back in control or… continue on this downward spiral until my health is completely gone.

The hardest part is getting started...
Today I signed up at Nutritional Solutions in Greenville for help with weight loss. The program I chose is 9 weeks with doctor supervision. The 21 week program is still open to me, but I want to make sure I can do it before I commit to 21 weeks. The cost was $949.50 of which I paid $249.00 down and owe $100.00/week for 7 weeks. I saved $250.00 because there is a special on now with 1/2 off the down payment fee. It's usually $499.00. I received a notebook and program information, a lab form to have blood work done, a bag full of the products to try before I buy and an appointment with the doctor for October 26th. I can't start the program until I see the doctor and she goes over my history and the labs. I'm feeling positive about this because I know after I lose about 20 lbs. I will be able to get back into exercise. I also joined the Y and will begin once I get the OK from the doctor. I decided to blog about my journey, hoping that I’ll stay on track if I write down what I'm doing as I go along.

I will probably write a new post each week and put the most recent post at the top of my blog. We’ll see how it goes…this is a work in progress.My sweet hubby Wayne is very supportive and will probably join me on this journey. He’s in excellent health for his age of 81 and I might need his help getting around to the different meetings and appointments. So, when I talk about Wayne…you’ll know who he is…

And now it begins......

Tuesday 10-20-09

Tomorrow I'm going to go for my lab work and then see the doctor on Monday.

I finally got my flu shot today. Since I have to attend weekly meetings on this program I sure don't want to catch anything. The flu would probably put me in the hospital...thank goodness for hand cleaners. Now if everyone would just cover their mouths when they cough...ahem...

We went to Sam's and bought a blender to mix the Optifast powders. I think that they are cheaper than the pre-made ones.

My friend has just gone through gastric bypass surgery and is having a hard time getting enough protein down. She's an inspiration to me because if she can take that drastic step I certainly should be able to stick to a program for 9 weeks.

Time to taste the Optifast

The vanilla pre-made drink took me about an hour to drink. Not the best taste (doesn't compare with a MacDonald’s shake) but palatable.

I tried their berry bar and their peanut butter bar. They gave me samples to taste before I buy an item. Each is 170 calories and can be substituted for a meal. I finished the Berry one, but the peanut butter one got pitched. I have one more to try, it's the chocolate bar and I'm saving that for Sunday.

Wednesday 10-21-09

A visit to the YMCA...
Wayne and I started the day at the YMCA checking out the facility. It has a large pool with lap lanes. Problem for me is that the chlorine smell was overwhelming and I wouldn’t be able to stay in that environment for very long. As we get into a routine, I need to find out when they chlorinate and avoid those times. There is also a sauna and a hot tub. They don’t provide towels or locks for the lockers.

The exercise room was much smaller than I expected, but had three huge TV screens and they had Nancy Grace playing on a TV in the lobby….my kind of place.

A visit to the lab...
After the Y we went to Spectra lab in Mauldin. That’s where Nutrition Solutions has an account.

Thursday 10-22-09

Wayne and I went to the Y today for an orientation on the machines. Jeremy showed us how to use every machine but we can’t see the personal trainer until we get medical clearance from our doctors. In my case that’s two of them, my internist-Dr. Bray and my Pulmonologist-Dr. Hollinger. Why do they make it so difficult to get into an exercise program???? Come on guys… I’m not trying to run a marathon after all.

I made an appointment with Dr. Bray for tomorrow and I’m hoping that my pulmonologist, who saw me last week, will fill out the form without needing another appointment.

Friday 10-23-09

It looks like I won’t be going to the Y for a few weeks at least. The doctor wants me to have a few tests before she’ll sign off on the Medical Clearance Form. I need an echocardiogram and some more labs. I swear if it wasn’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all…. My recheck with her is on Friday the 13th of November… hope that’s not an indication of things to come…

Wayne’s doctor filled out his form and already faxed it to the Y.

I will start the Optifast 800 on Monday regardless and will begin to walk on the treadmill here at home.

Saturday 10-24-09

Today I had lunch with Norma (bannercelebrations) , Hazel (nascarnanna) and Rosemary (minniemaes) who are members of my SC etsy street team. We try to get together once a month to talk about etsy and how our shops are doing. It's great to network with others trying to sell their handmade items on-line. We decided to get together again in November at my house for a Holiday Bazaar where members can bring their items to sell and invite family and friends to shop. Sounds like a great idea to me! Since I'm always looking for something to organize, this is right up my alley.

Sunday 10-25-09

Today is a gloomy day in SC, but I feel pretty good. Beginning in the morning I won't have to worry anymore about what to eat. Meals (drinks) will be lined up in my frig... what will I choose??? vanilla, chocolate or strawberry?


Norma (Banner Celebrations) said...

Good luck, Sandy. I'll be thinking of you this week and praying all will go well for you.
P.S. Love the house!

Mary K said...

I'll be tracking you on your blog and will call every once in a while to see how you are I said in Captiva, no excuses!! When you come down here for Christmas (which you will...I promise we won't BUY you anything), I want to see the old you!!! It's time to put that Pavluk negatism away and fight for your life...your kids (including me) and grandkids (including my girls) won't accept anything less.

Wooohoooo, you go girl!!!

Sandy said...

Thanks for the support... I'm determined to make the changes I need to be around for a long time.