Houses, Health Care and the Word of the Week…Mystifying.

I think I have four good reasons why I’ve been a little quiet on my blog this week:

  1. I’ve gained five pounds, and I’m annoyed at myself.  Hard to talk about my big life changes when I seem to have lost all enthusiasm.  I’m pretty sure it’s just all salt bloat, but I still feel gross.  I’m not excited to cook anything.
  2. The Dallas housing market is a beat down.  Seriously.  All I do is look at houses, make offers on houses, get rejected.  Rinse.  Repeat.
  3. No new health news, but my rounds of specialists gets kicked off this week.  First up?  Gastroenterologist.  I’ve been a projectile vomiter since I was an infant…let’s find out why!
  4. Quilting.  I haven’t done enough quilting.  Loved going to the Dallas Quilt Show Sunday, though.  So fun!  I pity the fool that didn’t get to see Mr. T in person:

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You know what’s not fun?  Getting shut down on a super kickass house that you’re in love with, despite offering $16k over asking, agreeing to a 60 day lease-back, not asking for a damn thing and having financing approval.  Not just pre-approval, but actual approval.  I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to buy a house in this stupid market, but gift cards and letters of thanks will certainly be due to the two lenders I’m working with, not to mention my super amazing realtor.  Love you, Betsy!!  (Hanne too, I’m sure, once I meet her 🙂 )

So I woke up kind of ugly today, these things happen to the best of us.  I get some work done, I check my email every ten seconds like a crazy person to see if we’ve heard back on the offer, I eat healthy things full of too much salt, I check my email again.  How is the ugliness supposed to improve under these circumstances?

No house, and even my realtor is “mystified.”  Gosh that’s a great word.  I’m going to use it to describe everything going on with me right now, like dating in Dallas, buying houses in Dallas, dealing with my unknown health BS and why my scale isn’t nicer to me.  MYSTIFYING.

Know what else is mystifying?  How health insurance works.  Remember when I had nine vials of blood drawn last month?  My first bill said I owed nothing – AWESOME!  Red herring, though, because I got a new bill today for $600.  That’s right, there are two zeros.  TWO.  $600 is a big chunk out of my couch fund.  Fortunately my current living room furniture still looks good, because even though I’m sick of it and ready to move on, my finances might require me to drag it out a bit.  Sea foam for a whole decade, y’all!

Anyhoot, I’m a little scared of these specialists for a whole new reason now.  $600 out of pocket for the lab tests my regular doctor had me do…what fresh hell will be unleashed with a specialist?  I already know I have to get a scope done, so I guess that’ll just push me up to my deductible.  Good grief.  And I get an extra scoop of guilt because now that I’m aligned with the health care industry, I’m also part of the problem.  Our government is a shit show, so I see why socialized medicine is unpopular, but good grief.

See where my head is spinning right now?  I’m spinning, I’m stressed out, therefore I’m not being as careful with food so I feel like crap AND I gain weight.  At least I’m not drowning my sorrows in vodka, so I’ll take that as a win.  The human body is a mystifying thing, my friends.

Hopefully I’ll have some good news from the gastroenterologist on Wednesday.  And maybe a new house will pop up.  Have I mentioned none of the good ones last longer than 24 hours on the market?  Sheesh.

Cheers!

Reality Checks

Ah, weekends. I had a great one, even with big old reality checks, level sets, priority checks and a boatload of sleet. Dallas, stop it. I’m being serious.

Remember when the fat envelope was a good thing? I was finally willing to walk down to the  freezing cold mail room to catch a few days of pile-up, and I had two big old envelopes from UT Southwestern. I assume kids today get an email or tweet or some other digital bullshit when they’re accepted to college, but we always looked for the fat envelopes. Skinny was a wait list or rejection for sure.

Well, these fat envelopes aren’t cool. Here’s my first reality check – the hematologist is at the oncology clinic.  Harold C. Simmons Cancer Clinic, to be exact. God that header is big.  HUGE!   I know cancer is a slim possibility with all this mess I have going on, but it’s still there. It’s almost like this letter is telling me, “Hey girl.  You probably do have Lupus. But at least it’s not cancer! Buck up, buttercup.”

And let’s be honest – we’re all hoping I’m in the 15% that have bad labs but nothing is wrong. Not having any reason my numbers are off is scary in its own way, because then there’s no treatment and all of the risk is still there, but I’ll deal with that when I have to deal with it. Inflammation is not a nice thing to have in your body, but again, it’s not cancer.  Even just thinking the word reminds me of the person I was once close to that died a couple years ago, and my heart just skips a beat.

I’m pretty good at shoving emotions aside and just using my head and logic to work things out, but I slip sometimes. I’ve joked that I’m emotionally dead inside, and honestly, sometimes it’s the best way to deal. If it isn’t going to hurt anyone else, fake it ’til you make it.  I enjoy a winning strategy.  So I’ll whine and freak out on my little online journal, and maybe some more to my mom, and otherwise I’m going to pretend it’s not happening until I have to. Most of the time I’m totally fine.

Happy, even.  There’s so much good stuff in my life right now, and I just need to count my blessings.

The second envelope is for the “Digestive and Liver Diseases Clinic.” You’d think my liver would be the issue if you’ve spent any bar time with me (just kidding mom! I say these things for humor!) but my liver is a-okay 🙂 I’m not even sweating this one anymore, even if shoving a tube down my throat to see why I throw up so much will probably just make me throw up.  Good grief. Sorry for the overshare, but it really is ridiculous. I’ve been good the past couple weeks, but I’ve been soooo careful and haven’t had much of an appetite anyway. Guess it helps.

Speaking of no appetite, though, I’ve been taking little chances here and there with my diet while I’ve been out and about this weekend. I know my blood reacts to gluten, dairy, soy, etc., which is why I stopped eating it. But I had some cheese and a couple bites of pita Friday  night, and the world didn’t end. I had some naan with my chicken tikka tandoori and masala sauce last night, and the world didn’t end. It did knock me the hell out though, holy smokes.  I slept for over ten hours last night!

I haven’t been sleeping well from all this stress, I guess, but that did the trick. Too bad I can’t take bread instead of a Tylenol PM. Reality check number two – bread isn’t worth the belly bloat and skin breakouts. I could feel my cheeks start to flush. Definitely not something I’m going to make a habit of, so don’t worry Mom!  I’ll get back to always carrying beef jerky and almonds if I get stuck somewhere without food I can eat. Fortunately I can eat the masala sauce without naan next time I’m craving Indian 🙂

Reality check three – I can eat my average of 1600-1800 calories a day, but throwing bread in the mix will put a pound of fat back on my ass. I actually only averaged 1400 calories the last couple days, and I still feel like I’ll have gained five pounds when I weigh myself in the morning. And I know I should have eaten more, especially since I worked out, but when you’re not hungry you’re not hungry.  And having six hour quilt classes really keeps you distracted 🙂

So this is me, casually freaking out. I quilt, I have cider, I break all the rules for a couple pieces of cheese and some naan.

Did I mention this was a great weekend? So fun going out Friday night, sleeping in, taking my quilt class, catching up with an old friend over takeout and a mani pedi today. The only thing that would have made it better would have been some sun. Please come back, sun. I miss you.

Here’s the quilt top from Saturday’s class – super cute “Playful” layer cake by Cotton + Steel in a disappearing four patch quilt class taught by one of the gals in my paper piecing class. I was so excited, and this will be a great piece for me to learn how to quilt on a bigger piece! More classes to take 🙂

Laying out the nine blocks so I can evenly distribute the prints.

Finished product!

And I’m Instagram famous! Wish I had put some lips on 🙂

Cheer!

When It Rains, It Pours…the Results are In.

Seriously, Dallas.  Cut it out.  I think my friend Jamie put it together best – “Only in Texas can it rain, sleet, snow, and the sun shine all within 10 hours.”  The city was shut down for two days, snowed more this morning, and by the time I left the office I was practically sweating in the 55 degree sunshine.

I wish the insane weather was my only complaint, though.  Unfortunately, the pouring rain I’m talking about comes in the form of the rest of my test results – they came in yesterday morning, and I’ve given myself a day and a half to let it all sink in.  My ana (autoimmune screening) came back positive, so now my just in case trip to the hematologist for low platelet count has become a you are definitely going to a hematologist and likely following it up with trip to a rheumatologist too.  What???

What does this even mean?  Well, here’s what my doc had to say courtesy of the rheumatologic association:  “The immune system makes an abundance of proteins called antibodies. Antibodies are made by white blood cells and they recognize and combat infectious organisms in the body. Sometimes these antibodies make a mistake, identifying normal, naturally-occurring proteins in our bodies as being “foreign” and dangerous. The antibodies that target “normal” proteins within the nucleus of a cell are called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). ANAs could signal the body to begin attacking itself which can lead to autoimmune diseases, including lupus, scleroderma, Sjögren’s syndrome, polymyositis/ dermatomyositis, mixed connective tissue disease, drug-induced lupus, and autoimmune hepatitis.”  Cancer gets thrown into the mix too, but I think that’s a very, very low possibility.

I know that’s a lot of big words in there, but I’m thinking best case scenario, my low platelet count, insanely high inflammatory levels and positive ana all likely have something to do with each other, and at least a hematologist and/or rheumatologist will help me sort it out.  And there’s a 15% chance it’s not a damn thing at all, just my body being an asshole for asshole’s sake.  Wouldn’t surprise me.

I spent the weekend being annoyed that finally taking doctors and allergies seriously didn’t have the healing powers I thought they would, and now this is dumped on me too.  I’m fine, honestly, because there’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about, but it’s unsettling.  And to make it worse, I can’t get into a hematologist until March 31st, which means I get to spend a whole month feeling unsettled and jittery.  And that, my friends, sucks.  I don’t do this unsettled thing gracefully.

On the bright side, surely if it was critical I wouldn’t have to wait that long for an appointment.

As I told my parents tonight, it’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden order a pizza with extra cheese and a beer, because going BACK to gluten, dairy, soy, etc. would just make everything worse.  And the gastroenterologist I get to see mid-March for completely different issues would likely agree.  A GI scope, SO FUN!  I’ve been burning off nervous energy at the gym this week too…thank goodness there’s one in my building since the streets were iced over.  I’m just feeling jittery and awkward and blah.  I haven’t had an appetite all week either so maybe I’ll at least get to drop a few more pounds. (Bright side, I’m looking for you.  Hard.)

I started a new quilting project to take my mind of things, and WOO I haven’t had to redo this many stitches since I first started sewing.  My focus is more than a little off, so I’ve had to rip out a lot of seams.  The worst part is that I’m doing paper piecing, which means the stitches are tiny tiny tiny.  Ugh.  That’s the biggest reason it’s taken me two whole evenings to do just one block.  It’s a great block, though, and I absolutely adore these fabrics.

Here’s what it looks like to rip out stitches out of a small block, followed by what it looks like to rip out stitches out of an almost completed block.  Whoops.

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Maybe by the time this sucker gets done, I’ll have a guest bedroom to feature it!  It won’t be at the cow house, since that’s long gone, but I’m sure something else with three bedrooms and a pool will head my way in the next couple months.

I think that wraps things up for me now.  My body hates me and is attacking itself, no cow house, work is absolutely bananas and Dallas weather is insane.  Goodness.  And I’ve got the attention span of a gnat right now to boot, which doesn’t help any of the above.  Ack.

Hopefully I’ll have a better attitude in the morning, or at least by the weekend 🙂

Cheers,

C

Good News, Bad News and the 50 Pound Mark

Good news first, yes? I officially hit the 50 pound mark over the weekend. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around being 51 pounds heavier this time last year. I’m still struggling with how I look and how my body (poorly) functions at this size, so how on earth was I doing it last year?

Oh that’s right…I wasn’t. I was a mess 🙂

I was worried the loss was a fluke, since this weekend was mostly ridiculous, but the scale said the same thing today so I guess I’m in the clear. It’s so great to drop into the next set of numbers too.

On to the bad news – turns out my house had TWELVE other offers. Isn’t that insane? I have no idea if their realtor even shared my awesome cow note, as it wasn’t mentioned with any correspondence with my realtor. I was surprised by that in particular – the last time I got into a bidding war of sorts on a house and wrote a note, the realtor thought I was the cutest thing ever and wanted to set me up with the homeowner. I can’t remember what came of that, but I think I actually talked to him a couple times.

Anyway, I’m not shocked about the house, as I did offer over asking but not by much. The selling agent told us how popular it had been, albeit in a seriously unprofessional way. My cow house with a fireplace and pool was at the top of my budget, so I couldn’t exactly get crazy. I am being kept as a back-up option, so we’ll see.

The search will continue, and I definitely will be looking at places with pools. Since I’ll be living in the middle of Dallas, it’ll be a great way to bring people together this summer, and I love hosting parties. As fun as my house parties were in Richardson, I can’t imagine how great they would be during the day with a pool, especially since so many of my friends now have little ones. Yay for barbecues!

The other piece of bad news I’m still trying to wrap my head around. This whole blog was started as a way for me to journal about my experience changing my lifestyle and adapting to a much more restrictive diet, all in the interest of fixing my random health issues. I’m thankful I found a doctor that I like – she’s my age, accepting, a great listener – and I wish she had better news for me.

I had nine different vials of blood drawn last week, and though the tests haven’t all come back yet, the ones I was most concerned with did on Friday. The one that go all this started, the C Reactive Protein (hs CRP) that serves as an inflammation marker and is used to measure cardiac risk, among other things, has actually gotten worse. My last measurement was 22, where it needs to be under 5. Now it came back at a 24.7!! Alarming!

Where would it be if I wasn’t essentially following an anti-inflammatory diet? Part of me wants to say fuck it and eat some pizza with a side of Chinese food, but an unsuccessful effort at lowering inflammation doesn’t mean I don’t have severe food intolerances. I actually had some gluten over the weekend, tiny amounts, and was rewarded with skin breakouts and severe headaches. Guess that ish is for real after all. Sigh.

I already had an appointment made with a GI to have a scope done before any of my test results came back, so I guess I’ll just keep moving forward. I’m getting kind of sick of the doctor’s office at this point, though. I do feel better than I did before I changed my diet, so I’ll stay the course, but I’ll admit I’m pretty damn devastated that the hard work hasn’t given the results I was after. Losing weight has been great, but it’s just not enough.

The other bad thing was my platelet count. I don’t know if I’ve even blogged about this one, because it’s frankly not as interesting as the whole change your diet thing, but my platelet count came back very low back in October. Normal minimum is 150, and I measured 125. Dr. Brown is pretty unflappable, and she was concerned enough for me to have it retested. November I read 140, still low but better. Now it’s even lower – 116.

New doctor told me not to be too worried, since it’s only gets super alarming when it drops below 100, but I’m still being sent to a hematologist. That’s right, friends. I get to see two different specialists this month. Yay? Hopefully it’ll just be ideopathic and a low platelet count will just be my new normal. I won’t even wrap my head around the things I found on Google.

Bah.

I was so down when I got home from work Friday night, and I’m so thankful for friends and family that distracted me, via text or barstool (I amended Lent to veto vodka and other liquor – it’s still a sacrifice. There are only so many ciders a belly can hold and vodka is my favvvvvvorite.) I was planning to wallow that night in some happy pants, but got pulled into a very fun evening that cheered me right up. More the same the rest of the weekend, and I’m just feeling thankful to be so loved.

I might not have been up for chatting on the phone or FaceTime, but even the sweet texts I got from my bests made a world of difference. From the ski slopes, house hunters, long weekenders and moms chasing their babies, Seattle, Springfield and Dallas, I was feeling the love ❤️💙. You guys know who you are. Xoxo.

Dreary day in Dallas and the city is practically shut down, so I’m going to work on some pretty quilt blocks between conference calls and the usual Monday work day. And I’ll keep counting my blessings until I have more concrete reasons to worry.

Cheers,
CL

Food Hiding, Doctor Visits and Labwork

So it occurs to me as I sit in my truck and sip on my contraband iced Americano, I’ve mentally come a long way. I mean, instead of parking in a fast food lot of shoveling down a milkshake or crunch wrap supreme before someone can catch me, I’m sneaking a ten calorie coffee.

Btw, I had to google my usual thing for Taco Bell. And by usual, what I used to get pre-Seattle for the boozy fourth meal.  I couldn’t remember what it was called!  I’ve been there twice in the last four years, once on a drive to Boise Memorial Day weekend and another in Seattle when it just sounded good. I still love tacos, but I’ll likely never go to Taco Bell again because they have ZERO things I can eat. Even their plain tacos and “al fresca” items all have either gluten or soy. Insane.  Soy does NOT need to be in every little thing, America.

I digress, though. I’ve always been a food sneaker, a food hider. Calories don’t count if no one sees you, right? If you’ve ever seen me pig out, know that you’re probably one of my favorite people on the planet, because it’s taken me years to be comfortable eating around other people. YEARS.  And to be frank, I can’t remember the last time I binge-ate, other than a chip basket at a Mexican restaurant.  I do remember the last time I binge drank, though.  Don’t tell my mom.  Or my doctor.  Damn you, patio days.  Just kidding, I totally told my doctor and her nurse a real answer.  “Christina, how many alcohol beverages do you have a week?”  Me:  “Well, what’s the weather?  Was I sitting on a patio most of the day?”

So when I say I’ve come a long way, I mean it.  The only candy in my presence sits right on top of my desk at work – and I barely touch it.  It’s full of Jelly Bellys, and my co-workers grab them by the handful.  I don’t miss it, really.  The only thing I really seem to miss is cheese, and cheese isn’t something I ever stashed away.  Well, and the coffee, but I don’t think a cup of coffee, usually decaf, will get me if I do it 3-4 times a month.  Can I justify the occasional dairy splurge by saying I need the probiotics?  Guess not.

I mentioned last blog that I was excited to get labs done to test my progress, and I was able to get that completed this morning.  I established care with the fabulous Dr. Barreto, gave her the rundown of my intolerances, inflammation, low platelets, vomiting, etc.  I swear, when I’m giving my life story I feel like the biggest hypochondriac, but I guess labs don’t lie.  I AM anemic, I DO have cardiac risk thanks to my inflammation, I DO have a low platelet count and I DO throw up more than any human I know.

What does that net me?  Nine vials of blood.  Even the sweet lady taking it was like, whoa.  The labels just kept uncurling.  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!  Glad I wore a super cute sunny yellow jacket to keep me cheerful.  I got several compliments on both that jacket and my navy and silver polka dot overcoat this morning – yay!  That always puts a little spring in your step, right?

Anyway, here’s what I had done:

  • Comprehensive Metalobic Panel – I had this done in October with Seattle’s fabulous Dr. Brown, but I think she wants to see it all again.
  • Hemogram
  • H Pylori
  • C Reative Protein (Inflammation Marker)
  • ESR (For SLE Monitoring)
  • ANA (Antinuclear) abs
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate (Folic Acid) Serum – looks like the prenatals I take aren’t enough.  God bless any poor guy I date that looks in my medicine cabinet and thinks I’m trying to trick him into having a baby.  It’s for my  hair and the iron, buddy!  I swear!
  • Lipase Serum

Last but not least, a referral to a gastroenterologist.  Awesome.  Hey Mom?  Maybe we’ll finally get me a doctor who can figure it out and/or does more than shrug their shoulders and tells us to deal with it.  That’s an awesome thing to hear when you’re a child, btw.  It’s only taken 37 years 🙂  Looks like there’s a throat scope in my future.  That should be fun.

I’m also weening off the Wellbutrin and switching over to Paxil.  Dr. Baretta thinks it’s a better match for me since it also deals with anxiety and is gaining popularity for patients with IBS.  I don’t have that as far as I know (maybe these labs will show otherwise) but since my gut, intestines, etc. is so damn sensitive it really can’t hurt.  And my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.  Not panic attack bad, thankfully, but I could certainly be more chill.

She also tells me that losing around a pound a week on a 1600-1800 calorie a day diet is fine, and if I cut calories more I would have to do it under a doctor’s supervision and that I would want no part of it.  So I guess if I want to drop pounds faster, I’m just going to have to do that much more at the gym and also make sure the content of my calories is as healthy as can be.  No booze, less processed crap and more fruits and veggies.  Sigh.  Good thing I just gave up alcohol for Lent.

Thanks for reading through my overshare, friends.  Hopefully I’ll be posting positive lab results in the next few days!