Monday, July 9, 2012

Physical Life

I'm a little afraid of how whiny sounding I might come across in this next post in my Setting Goals series.  I often feel like I am falling apart!  I've joked since I was in my early teens (I'm talking 13, 14 years-old) that I had the body of a 40 year old.  So, now, almost 20 years later, that makes me having the body of a 60 year old!  It really isn't that bad.  But, some days it can feel like it.

Where I Was

My physical problems started when I was around 12.  I was diagnosed with scoliosis and went to physical therapy for a while.  But, my back would often just give out.  It would freeze up and I wasn't able to move from whatever position I was in for about 30 minutes or so.  Standing for long periods of time would cause me severe pain.  It wasn't until I was pregnant with my twins and my sciatica acted up so bad I literally couldn't walk that I visited a chiropractor for the first time.  Since then, whenever my back gives me trouble that is the first place I head.  I wish I could afford to go on a regular basis, but I just can't.

My early teens was also when I was diagnosed with asthma.  I rarely have trouble with that, though, since it is only activity induced and I can control it by taking breaks when I get winded.

My problems continued when my knees started to hurt when I was around 20.  I eventually had surgery on one.  Then, about two years ago they got to the point where I couldn't walk up the steps.  I was terrified that they would want to do surgery again (if they were hurting this bad again, what good was surgery?!), but thankfully, the doctor just gave me some shots in my knees instead.  Now, they are staring to get a little sore again.  But, when it gets too bad, I'll just head back to the doctor for more shots.

On top of these muscular/skeletal issues, I have sleep apnea.  In college, I started to have problems.  My memory was almost non-existent, I was tired all the time, and I was weepy and moody.  The doctors diagnosed me with depression.  For the next seven years I tried many different types of anti-depressants.  While I was no longer as moody, I was still very tired all the time and my memory was horrible.  I had trouble waking myself up and slept all day.  I eventually ended up having to drop out of college (it was a little more complicated, but I'll tell that story some other time).

Then, I read something someone had written about sleep apnea.  I immediately knew that that is what I had!  Sleep apnea is when your airways close up while you are sleeping and you stop breathing.  In order to start breathing again, your body wakes up.  You often don't wake up enough to remember it.  But, you are still waking up.  This means that you are getting less sleep and the sleep you are getting is very poor quality.

This results in sleep deprivation.  Some symptoms may be (*symptoms I experienced):
1. Tiredness*
2. Irritability, moodiness, and nervousness*
3. Inability to tolerate stress*
4. Problems with concentration and memory*
5. Behavioral, learning, or social problems* (I never wanted to go out with friends and it effected my friendships)
6. Frequent infections
7. Blurred vision
8. Change in appetite*
9. Lack of tolerance*

If anyone happens to read this and wants more info on sleep apnea, the American Sleep Apnea Association has great information on their website.

As you might guess, all of these problems add up.  It makes physical activity difficult and I've used that excuse to not exercise.  This has resulted in me being overweight.  I'd love to blame my weight completely on these physical limitations.  But, that would be dishonest.  Bad eating habits play a huge part in my weight problems.  I know because a few years ago I actually lost 60 lbs doing Weight Watchers.  I was doing great and felt much better overall!  However, when my DH had some medical problems and spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals, I just sort of gave up.  Over the next couple years I gained it all back.

When I first when to the doctor to ask about sleep apnea, she told me "There is nothing wrong with you that losing weight won't cure."  I no longer go to this doctor because of this.  You see, while she is right that losing weight would help in all these areas, she was also VERY wrong.  My back, knees, and asthma all began when I was at a very healthy weight.  My sleep apnea began when I was just a little overweight.  The major weight gain didn't start until I took my first anti-depressant and gained 30 lbs in just two months.  This trend continued for a few years until I had gained 100 lbs.  So, while I know my weight makes things worse, it isn't a cause of any of these problems.  It is a horrible cycle.


Where I Am

My back still causes me problems occasionally.  But, now I know to head to the chiropractor.  My knees are the same way.  They hurt sometimes, but I now have the option of getting a shot that helps a lot.  Both of these things do limit me in some ways.  However, they don't limit me completely.  My asthma is the same way.  If I take lots of breaks and pay attention to my breathing, I can still do physical activity.

My CPAP mask
When I was officially diagnosed and started CPAP treatment, my life changed.  I was able to wean off of the anti-depressants within 2 weeks and have never been back on them since.  I rarely take naps anymore.  I'm still a little more tired than most people and require nine hours of sleep every night to be at my best.  But, that is much better than sleeping all day like I did before.  If I go a night without my CPAP machine I can immediately tell the difference.  My first symptom is often irritability and crying for no reason.  So, I am very protective of my sleep.  Unfortunately, there are sometimes factors I can't control (a stuffy nose that makes wearing my mask impossible, getting home late from work and having to be up early the next morning, etc.)

When it comes to my weight, I really have some work to do.  I don't eat a lot of junk food, but I don't eat healthy stuff for meals, either.  And I definitely need to work on portion control.  According to all the charts I've seen, I need to lose about 110 lbs to be a healthy weight.  That's hard to imagine because looking at old pictures where I weight about 25 lbs more than that, I look THIN.

Where I Want to Be

My biggest goals for my physical life have to do with my weight.  This is the area that I have the most control over and it will effect the other things (my back, my knees, sleep apnea, etc), too.

Starting this week I am going to work on tracking every bite I eat.  My wonderful aunt gave me a Weight Watchers starter kit to help since I can't afford the monthly fee anymore.  I know I can do it if I just DO IT!  Tracking my food made such a huge difference last time and I need to do it again.  I'm hoping doing this blog will help with a feeling of accountability.  Even though I don't really have any readers, I can easily pretend someone out there is reading this and watching to see how I do.

I also need to get up and get moving!  I have an exercise video that I can do without causing myself pain, but that still gives me a good workout.  I need to actually pull it out and do it a few times a week!  I also need to walk more when I can.  Since we don't have sidewalks, walking around here doesn't work too well.  But, I can drive the kids to a park with a walking/riding trail, put them on their bikes, and get a good walk in.

I also need to post some before pics, but I honestly don't have any pictures of myself other than just my face.  Its sad.  This picture of my best friend and me at my sister's wedding is probably the best I have right now (Yes, it is the same pic from the other day).  I'm the one of the left.  I'm going to have to take some "official" pictures.  After all, I was wearing Spanx in that wedding picture and I think that is cheating. Not to mention, I'm turned to the side a bit and have a flowing dress and flowers to cover things up.  It won't be pretty, but it is necessary.

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