Think happy thoughts!

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Straight foot!

Well after almost two weeks, I finally went over my calorie intake. I feel terrible. I’m so mad at myself. I’m having terrible thoughts that I have very seldom had, and only when I was in a very dark place.

I haven’t had bulimic thoughts in a very VERY long time. I was probably sixteen the last time I did. I have never acted on them, but since I’ve been dieting and calorie counting, I’ve become obsessed. If I eat I need to exercise, even if only going for a walk.

Having a borderline eating disorder, I’ve done a lot of research on how to beat it, what not to do, the dangerous thought patterns etc, and not ever have I been so tempted to do something so stupid.

And of course I just got my own air cast and it’s enabling me to exercise more. And on the flip side my foot it straight again. Not loose, it’s still stiff as a board and doesn’t move naturally, but it’s straight. I’m beating my CRPS with a stick, but losing to an eating disorder I’ve never truly believed I had.

I know how bad eating disorders get. I’ve seen them completely overtake a person’s life, I know the consequences. I don’t want to become like that, but I need to continue losing weight for health reasons more than any other reason. I’m quite overweight for my height, and I want to avoid obesity. 

I really don’t mean to complain, but the thoughts I’m having are scary. I don’t want to do anything drastic and give this problem roots. I need to stay strong so I can focus on saving for a house with my boyfriend, and remaining walking. I don’t want to need my wheelchair forever. I don’t want to go to my brother’s wedding in my chair. I don’t want to go to my own wedding in a chair. I need to exercise and keep walking and losing weight.

I’m scared of myself… How silly…

Walking!

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So I’ve recently started walking again! I don’t have anything fancy like an AFO (ankle foot orthosis iirc) but I have a majestic aircast walking boot I borrowed from a friend! 

Now let me put this monumentous achievement into perspective. I have not been able to walk unaided since December of 2015. I have been using a walker or cane for all outings and now I use my wheelchair to go long distances. I can hobble around my house but it is painful and slow and I do it out of sheer stubborn pride after being told to use the chair in the house. 

I like my wheelchair, but I can’t relax in it. I can’t go for a relaxing stroll to the park, or take a brief powerwalk to help control my weight. My chair is built for indoor and brief usage outdoors. I can’t take it down the sidewalk. My chair is is great in malls, stores, and around the house on the worst days, but outside it plain sucks.

Bt this walking boot is incredible. I can do laundry in it, go down to the gym in my building with it. Take a walk, walk my dog, heck I can even jog a bit because my ankle can’t turn inwards and trip me! I can even walk up and down the stairs!

My stamina for walking is still garbage, I can go about twenty minutes before feeling like I’m dying. Using the boot seems to confuse the mixed up signals in my foot though, because when I take it off my foot is loose and moveable. For all of three minutes before that one tendon locks up again. But hey, progress! Now I have more to tell my neurologist after I get my MRI done. (Although who the heck knows when that’ll happen) 

My action plan to lose weight~

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I have always had issues with my body image and weight. Probably since I was twelve. So for half of my life I have hated how I looked, but have been unable to take action in a solid way to manage my weight and be happy. 

First things first, I know the basic science behind weight loss and gain, the psychological effect of stress eating, and why I have problems overeating. Science says if you eat more than you use, you will gain weight. Eating when upset or bored is a terrible idea, and I have issues overeating because I lack a true hunger reflex so I eat out of boredom and never feel full. 

I can and have eaten until I’ve thrown up. It was terrible and made me feel horrible. But even then I couldn’t convince myself to limit my food intake or exercise more often. But I may have finally found something that motivates me.

I’ve never believed in calorie counting. People do it wrong, wind up in starvation mode, and pack on the pounds. People seem to think that by cutting your caloric intake in half or less that you will magically drop weight with few side effects. WRONG. I don’t care who challenges me on this, that is not how calorie counting is supposed to be done.

The human body is a fickle thing. Eat too much and you gain weight, eat too little and you’ll gain weight and feel like crap. There is no magic diet that works for everyone other than a solid lifestyle change of conscious eating and balanced exercise and sleep. 

By eating too little, your body thinks you’re‚Äč starving and will hold onto fats longer to preserve energy. So when calorie counting, if you don’t take this into consideration, you’ll wind up exhausted, cranky, and hungry while gaining weight. 

HOWEVER

If you decrease your calories slightly, logically you would lose weight without the horrible side effects of starvation. So instead of consuming 2000 calories, get about 1700 and theoretically you will SLOWLY and safely lose weight. 

This isn’t meant to be a diet guide, I’m not trying to tell people how to live, but by eating the right foods and exercising several times a week you will safely lose weight. High fiber and high protein foods take more energy to digest than processed foods. So by eating a high fiber diet, you can feel full longer and burn more calories. 

I found an app that has a huge catalogue of brands and types of food and it has all the dietary information catalogued, I literally punch in the brand and name of the food and I can find it. It came up with a safe weight loss plan based on my activity level, weight, age and sex, and estimates that if I stay on track, I can be 54 pounds lighter in just one year. 

Of course if I exercise more I can adjust it in the app, so it will bump up my recommended caloric intake to even out. I don’t want to lose weight quickly just to put it back on. I want to learn ways to adjust my eating habits and train myself to eat on schedule so I’m not snacking all day. I finally have a tool to make a safe lifestyle change that I can follow and challenge myself with.

I’m set to lose weight, be more active, and remain positive, all with one little boost from a helpful developer. My goal weight is realistic, my starting weight is terrible, but I can do it. Even being unable to use one leg and having more bad days than good I finally feel like I can take control of my life and smack some sense into my stomach.

Universals have so many uses

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I had a doctors appointment last week, and instead of being intelligent and getting a ride from someone, I was stubborn and tried to go on my own.

Not only is my doctor’s office on the other side of town, I had to leave an hour earlier than scheduled in case I missed any of the four buses I had to take. 

So, it’s time to leave, and I check the weather. It’s supposed to be something nice like -2 Celsius. I’m like, “Oh I won’t need a hat, it’s sunny and warm out!” Little did I realize that it was absurdly windy and the wind chill was -15 and freezing rain was forecasted. 

It wasn’t too too bad until I got to the station for my last bus. I missed it by two minutes and the stop is located on an overpass. There is a shelter, but it has no doors, (the people who work for the city bus company aren’t too bright) so the wind whips through the shelter like crazy and it was so cold! 

So I had to wait half an hour for my bus in the super windy shelter. Since I have CRPS my right foot is extremely sensitive to temperature, especially the cold. The cold feels like razors in every single nerve being lit on fire. Since it has spread up my calf to my knee, my entire lower leg hurt like crazy! So I got creative.

I was wearing this massive universal scarf, like a foot and a half wide and two and a half feet long. It’s knitted with fluffy yarn and these fluffy ball things making it super soft and warm when wrapped around your face. I ended up using it as a blanket. I’m pretty sure I looked a little strange, but it was slightly warmer so I was happy. 

I’ll admit I’m not used to wintering in a wheelchair or with CRPS. I’ve done some stupid things this winter, and I’ve learned important lessons. Like don’t roll through dog poop, and if there’s no leaves on the trees then spring isn’t here yet. Also not to wear ventilated sneakers. And pack a damn blanket if it’s too windy, I don’t care if I look stupid, that’s happening from now on! I have this lovely blanket I’ve had since I was a baby, it’s got a goose wearing a bonnet but I don’t care! No more freezing in the cold for me! 

The Fashion Crisis

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I’m young, I’m depressed, and I’m disabled. Why am I depressed, you may ask? Well other than being some level of depressed since I was ten, I’ve come to the realization that I look awful in my wheelchair. 

I’ve never been very vain, I dressed in baggy, oversized clothing until I was eighteen. Wore Salvation Army treasures until they couldn’t be worn any longer, and never really  conformed to a style of clothing. But since I now go out in a permanently seated position, I find myself wishing I had a better wardrobe.

My wardrobe currently consists of maybe four decent shirts, a couple tank tops so old the straps are coming unstitched, a single dress and many crappy shoulder covers to avoid sunburns. My pants are even worse. Three pairs of baggy jeans, five pairs of ancient sport shorts and a bunch of bell bottomed yoga pants. I also have one of those silly one pieces, the shirt with pants attached. I have no idea what they are called, but its very comfy so I begged for it as a birthday present a couple years ago. And the sweaters, dear lordy, some are so old I’m surprised they haven’t turned to dust.

Because I have CRPS in my foot, ankle, and now my entire calf, my choice of pants are limited. I can’t wear anything with a tightly closed ankle, so skinny jeans are out. Trying to wedge my foot through a pair of skinny jeans is not fun. Stupid thing is stuck at about eighty degrees and won’t flex down. I also can’t wear baggy tops, they interfere with my wheeling. 

So it seems I am limited to tight shirts that show off my bodacious muffin top, and giant flowing pants that pool at my ankles! Sounds awesome! Maybe I can pick up some long skirts or dresses, show off the muffin top and hide my shrinking right leg! At least a dress would stop the entire world from being blessed by my bum when my too large pants decide to slide down. Sexy right? I am the epitome of frumpy homebody forced into the outside world. I should go to Walmart more often, I’d fit right in!

At least I can go shopping with a friend when my taxes come in. Go buy some hippy pants and more tank tops to replace my decaying ones. Maybe pick up a new pair of sneakers while I’m at it. Does the “no shoes no service” policy count if you’re in a wheelchair? I’d love to go barefoot all summer! 

A new milestone!

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I can finally be added to the long list of wheelchair users who have run through doggy doodoo! Coming out of my apartment building and right into a small pile of rather soupy poopy. Needless to say I have never hated irresponsible dog owners as much as I did right then.

I have always been annoyed by people who think snow is an excuse to neglect stooping and scooping, but oh holy cow i was mad. Cursing and screaming unholy retribution on all the lazy people in my building, and silently loving my dog for being scared to poop outside. (He poops on puppy pads even though he’s two years old) 

Totally wishing I could put up large annoying signs on my windows, seeing as my apartment is the one right beside the side entrance where I ran through the doodoo. Just get some poster board in neon colours and threaten sweet poppy justice for all who ignore our building’s “stoop and scoop” policy.

I will literally sit in my bedroom and stare out the window, every time someone doesn’t pick up the poop I’ll bang on the window and waggle my finger threateningly.

A step closer to acceptance?

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I have always been fond of walking. Taking long walks to de-stress, walking to enjoy the day, moving quickly around obstacles (such as people moving too slow while texting *rageface*) and just generally being able to get from point a to point b. That’s why I’m finding accepting my wheelchair so difficult. HOWEVER! I have started doing laundry in my chair! 

Laundry a la chaise is so much easier. No more trying to force my foot to do stairs, no more stumbling around like a drunk trying to maneuver a huge basket of laundry, no more putting it off because of the debilitating fear of more pain. I will admit that there are some less then wheelchair friendly machines in my building, being crammed into a corner makes them slightly more difficult to reach the card reader, but most of them are easy enough to reach. I just hang a Walmart bag on the back of my chair and fill it up, zip down to the basement to do a load, and zip back up between the washing and drying. So efficient… So pain free… So awesome!

I also have been dabbling in teaching my dog to walk with the chair. It’s very difficult because of the all the salt being put down, it burns his feet really bad. But on days far from snowfall I can bring him out in the chair and he acts like a tiny sled dog! He loves to run, he is a dachshund after all, but when im walking I can’t keep up. So in the chair he just hunkers down and puuulllllls! I’ve gotten quite a few funny looks from the maintenance guys in my building, they see me most often when they are vacuuming, and Charlie goes ballistic at them until I pick him up and toe push past them. They just laugh and accept my apologies. (Have I mentioned I love my building?) 

Using the chair in the house is a difficult step I’m working towards. It’s slow going, but I’m hoping I can suck it up and do as I’ve been told by my doctors soon. Think positive! That’s the key! I love my wheelchair, I just don’t love that all my food and dishes are located in cupboards far above my head! Oh well, I can  stand, and for that I count myself very lucky. 

Blame is shame

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Blaming people for mental illness is one of those things that really bother me. I spend a lot of time perusing the internet for random information, and I stumbled across something that disturbed me on such a profound level, I felt ill. 

First, a little history. I have a mild eating disorder. My best friend struggles with anorexia. I HATE people who shame or perpetuate shame on people with eating disorders. I have watched my friend survive on nothing but celery, hate very part of herself, even self harm for eating too much. It is heartbreaking.

And it is not a choice. 

To me, anorexia is part obsessive compulsive, part addiction. It gets inside you and eats away at your core. It eats your self esteem, your body image, any love for yourself, and warps your perception of what beauty is. 

What I stumbled upon yesterday was a WordPress blog promoting anorexia as a lifestyle. It was so disturbing, children were commenting that they wanted to be sixty pounds, and needed a “pro ana coach” so they could be proper anorexics! 14 and 15 year olds!

The human skeleton weighs forty pounds, and I weighed sixty pounds at about seven years old. 

My friend’s battle took her to almost seventy pounds. It also put her in a coma and caused permanent organ damage and arrhythmia. She almost died. These  young teens want to be even lower.

People don’t realize how damaging anorexia is, or even worse, shaming people with an eating disorder. It doesn’t work. You have to bring back the things they love to the forefront and encourage them to want help. This doesn’t mean screaming how disgusting they look, or how stupid they are for wanting it. It means making every effort to be there when they break. It means doing research and showing them the harm it can do. It means bribing them to eat, making deals, and comforting them when they cry over their food.

Forcing them to get help doesn’t work. Trapping them doesn’t work. Forcing them to eat leads to even more trouble in bulimia. It is a delicate balance of offering hope and love, praying to whatever power your believe in that they make it out of this alive, and trust. Most important thing is trust. 

If someone trusts you enough to tell them they are going through this, you can’t destroy it. You have to be stronger than I was, and stick by them. I ran away, it became too much, and nobody kept an eye on my friend. I am haunted by guilt for something I could have stopped. Being severely depressed and suffering from my own eating issues didn’t help.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After about eight years struggling with body image issues and binge eating, I am finally recovering. I’m starting to accept myself, see that beauty doesn’t equal hatred for oneself, or skeletal thinness. I had a teacher in highschool who got help and became a nutrition and cooking teacher. She taught me so much about health and acceptance. My boyfriend is teaching me to love myself. And I’m trying to help my friend make the same steps. 

My first real wheelchair!

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On Monday my occupational therapist called me to inform me that the chair they ordered for me was ready and she wanted to bring it by for me to test. It’s incredible. There are no words to describe how different it is from the rental chair.

The therapist chose to order me a helio c2 folding chair made from carbon fibre. I required a folding chair because my boyfriend owns a small car that would have difficulty fitting a rigid chair. It fits perfectly. From the back rest to the foot rests it is perfect. Everything is removable, making the carrying weight twelve pounds, and the full weight only thirty. My rental chair is forty two pounds and nothing is removable. 

I haven’t actually been approved for funding yet, that will take about two months. But the gentleman who placed the order for the chair with his distributor told me I can keep it until the company starts really bugging him to bring it back. The chair had to be custom made, so nobody else is waiting for it to test. He also told me that they often forget where all the “tester” chairs are, and I may be able to keep it until I get funding.

I really don’t want to go back to the rental.

It’s like I have my life back. I went for a walk for the first time in two months. I didn’t get very far, because I was forced to go on the road (the sidewalks are covered in thick icy snow) but I had such a sense of accomplishment. I can do things on my own again. I can zip around the mall or grocery store and not worry about slowing everyone down. I’m getting stronger. I’m losing weight. I’m happy. 

The sheer amount of freedom I have gained through something so simple as a new chair is amazing. I no longer feel like a clunky dead weight. I’m more confident and sure of myself than I have been since I got crps. I’m still not very good at manoeuvring in tight spaces or going long distances outside, but I guess getting my first wheelchair in Canadian winter isn’t the best way to start off.

But I’m happy. My parents see how happy I am and have finally stopped telling me to keep forcing myself to walk. Their acceptance is helping me accept myself. I don’t expect to be in a chair for the rest of my life, but for now, it’s wonderful.

Migraines: insult to injury

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I suffered chronic migraines for many years, and I know all too well the effect they have on day to day life. But now, at twenty five, I have been migraine free for almost six months. 

I had my first crippling migraine at six. I remember waking up screaming in pain, being carried downstairs by my step father, and taking tylenol. It was horrible. 

They became a chronic issue at around fourteen. I would get several a week, sometimes lasting a few days. I started missing school and was put on medication at sixteen. It did basically nothing and I ended up being taken off of it at eighteen. 

By twenty four they were unbearable. I had five or six a week, and they would cripple me for several hours, unable to bear light or sound. Luckily I could get rid of them by sleeping in most cases, but I know people who get no respite from pain no matter what they do. 

I started researching uncommon ways to get rid of them. I was willing to do anything to gain some measure of relief. Having fibromyalgia and these awful migraines destroyed any chance I had at a productive life. I read a bunch of tips, like taking a hot bath to draw the blood to your feet. Or accupuncture, yoga, meditation etc. 

I can’t imagine doing yoga with a migraine. 

By chance I stumbled across a piercing forum talking about a type of piercing I had never heard of. (I’ve had many piercings over the years and am no stranger to them) It was called a daith piercing, and there was some hype that it could stop or reduce migraines in certain people. 

Not everyone can get a daith piercing, you need to have enough of a cartilage fold on your inner ear. But luckily I have a lot of cartilage and every fold is pronounced. 

It took me months to convince myself that it was worth it to try. It’s based on the same principle as migraine accupuncture. There’s a cluster of nerves that when punctured can help with migraine pain. I eventually found a piercer that had the training to do one and went on to see him. I won’t just go to any place to get a piercing, after a bad one when my cartilage was broken and was incredibly painful and almost impossible to heal. 

The piercer I went to had the second highest rating on google in my city. I know that’s not the best way to judge a place, but I was desperate. After arriving and meeting him, he immediately warned me that it may not work. He had received mixed feedback within the piercing community and didn’t want me coming back and blaming him for it being unsuccessful. 

I signed a waiver in the end. He did his best to make me comfortable, putting me at ease and answering all of my questions in a calm and professional manner. It hurt. I expected it would. But the pain was worth it. Two days later I had a minor migraine and was devastated. That was the last I have heard from a near constant pain companion in almost six months. 

I now get completely manageable headaches. They go away with an advil and are a hundred times less painful. Every week that goes by I am more and more thrilled by how lucky I was. It gave me almost no trouble healing, I had excess scar tissue build up for a few months, but that is purely cosmetic and just means I was playing with it too much. 

I urge anyone who has suffered for a long time to do some research on the daith piercing. Seventy dollars was totally worth it in my opinion. It may not work, but when you’ve tried everything under the sun to stop the pain, it’s worth it to take a shot in the dark. Sometimes it’s the unconventional method that gets you the results. Find a knowledgeable piercer, and if they don’t ask you to sign a waiver, or tell you it may not work, find another piercer. 

I ended up calling my piercer back and thanking him. He was very happy with my feedback and told me that every success story boosts his opinion on doing the piercing. He saved me from years of agony and misery.