New year’s…ahem…goals, Pt.1 January 1, 2013Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, running, younger son.
Tags: goals, health, new years day, resolutions, running
It’s very easy at the end of every year to look at the numbers on the scale and feel disappointed that they aren’t smaller. Or I can take measurements of my body and be upset that my diameter is definitely not where it should be.
It’s frustrating to me because I watch my diet fastidiously and am very physically active (well, when I’m not in front of the computer). But here I am.
Granted, this year has been been better than most as a result of my celiac diagnosis. I’ve been on the diet about 4 1/2 months, and it’s unbelievable the amount of positive feedback I’ve gotten about how much better I look. So obviously things are going well on that front. However, progress, as always is slow.
I also am not one to make resolutions as they can be easily dropped. So instead I set goals.
I never try to set the goal of reaching a certain weight or size. It turns out that since I started the celiacs diet, I haven’t really lost more than about 5 pounds. However, people tell me constantly that I look it. And, from what they’ve said, they think I’m lighter than I am. Mike has made the observation that I appear to be denser. However, after that comment almost resulted in physical violence, he amended it to “more compact”, which was, in my opinion, a more agreeable euphemism.
My goal, therefore, is to continue to improve my health by watching my diet and running. (In fact, I have already signed up for a half-marathon in May.) I am hoping that my efforts toward these goals will result in weight loss, but I will try not to shoot for a particular number.
There is one thing that makes me sad about my becoming “more compact”. When the younger boy was about 4, I remember him wanting to cuddle on someone’s lap. He decided to try dad’s lap as it had the closest availability. He went and sat down on Mike’s lap…and proceeded to wiggle around for five or ten minutes, obviously unsettled. He got off Mike’s lap, looking disappointed. Then he came and sat on my lap. With just a few minor adjustments, he ended up completely still with a contented sigh.
“Mom, you’re soft.”
I want to be healthy and will work toward that, but I want to be soft enough for little boys to want snuggle on my lap.
Stupid school year August 20, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in education, Fargo, personal, teaching.
Tags: celiacs, health, running, school, teaching
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I may be in the minority, but I really, really hate the fact that school starts here this week. I’m of the opinion that school should not start before Labor Day and should not go past Memorial Day.
Part of me would like to say that this dampens my productivity, but I’m not entirely convinced of that. I think it just lowers my stress-level to not have to worry about running kids around while teaching and trying to get some research done. I just hate being tired all the time.
Another reason I’m tired is that I’m still not running. I apparently had tendonitis in my foot, and most likely there was no sprain. I’m getting lots of ultrasound and massage treatment. It seems to have improved a lot, and in a couple weeks, I’ll have some new custom orthotics for my running shoes. Then I’ll get to start running again. This is good because aside from helping me from feeling so run down all the time, it does a lot to keep my mood up. I’ve been grumpy for about two months now.
I’m also getting used to being gluten free. It’s not all that bad, but I still can’t eat things with lots of fructose or lactose. Those problems should hopefully disappear as my insides heal up. I just wish I weren’t so hungry all the time.
But in the meantime, I better get finished with tomorrow’s class prep.
I will never attend another bake sale August 7, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, Uncategorized.
Tags: celiacs, health, IBS
It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for me.
I have had a lot of medical problems…well, most of my life. It got really bad when I went to college, however, and a year and a half after starting, I found out I had fibromyalgia. I was 19 at that point…the youngest FMS patient most of my doctors had ever seen. In an effort to get a hold of my health, I started a restricted carb diet about 3 years after my diagnosis. Low and behold, I went into remission…something else most doctors had never seen.
About 3 years after that, however, I started having GI issues. First doctor I went to said I was just constipated and needed to drink more water. Second doctor thought I had GERD and abdominal tendonitis. Third doctor told me to take beano when I ate. As time went on, however, the symptoms got worse, leaving some doctors scratching their heads. I’ve had tests and ultrasounds on my gall bladder about 4 times, at least 3 cat scans, a multitude of blood panels drawn, 3 or 4 trips to the ER, etc. The one that really pissed me off was the diagnosis of “anxiety producing IBS”. The problem with both IBS and fibromyalgia is that there are a lot of doctors who think that this is all in your head. Problem is, the meds make you feel stupid and careless but don’t do a thing for your GI symptoms.
So I was relieved when I was finally sent to a GI specialist in 2009, about 8 years after my GI symptoms had started. He did another blood draw and did a breath test, and I was diagnosed with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Like all my other diagnoses, I was better for about a month after beginning the new medication, in this case a super-duper expensive antibiotic. He also sent me to a pain clinic to load me up with cortizone shots. They helped…for a while.
After moving back to Fargo, I spent a year and a half trying to get into a GI specialist here. My regular doc was convinced I just had GERD. After an abnormal catscan resulted from an ER trip, I finally got in to see him.
This doctor, for a change, has been approaching my issues like a scientist. Rather than saying, “You’re symptoms are consistent with xxx diagnosis,” he’s actually been going in and *looking* to see what’s inside me. He’s trying to rule out everything he possibly can. While I admit I really haven’t been enjoying all the fun dietary gymnastics for these procedures, I finally have an answer.
I probably have celiacs disease. There’s a good chance this has been my problem all along, maybe even being the cause of my FMS. (This is apparently a pretty common misdiagnosis.)
The most frustrating part, however, is not that it’s taken this long to figure out what’s going on. I can understand when so many diseases present so many similar problems that it would be hard to tease out the root of the problem, especially when I didn’t start with GI symptoms. However, the first GI specialist I saw gave me the blood test for Celiacs, and it showed up negative. The information on the test specifically states, however:
A negative result (absence of circulating IgA-endomysial antibodies) does not exclude the diagnosis of dermatitis herpetiformis or celiac disease. Patients with mild gluten-sensitive enteropathy may have a negative result.
I am very disappointed that the first GI didn’t follow up further. Although this has probably been going on for half my life (or more), three less years of problems would’ve been nice. Also, this led me on years of a wild-goose chase to figure out exactly what the issue was. I always excluded wheat as a possible factor because I was told the test was negative, leading me to omit from my diet a lot of foods that I probably could and should have been eating.
In the meantime, I have one final test to confirm the diagnosis and then can start on a gluten-free diet. I honestly don’t anticipate this will be as huge a problem for me as some other people given I’d already spent years watching my carb intake and really enjoy eating veggies. (I just never thought to cut out gluten entirely.) However, I do like a treat now and again, so I’ll be on the hunt for some good gluten-free donut recipes…
Chronic illness July 23, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in family, personal.
Tags: health, illness
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I’ve had a lot of stuff going on, so the blogging has been light. I also have a lot of things I’d like to talk about, but the blog isn’t the best place to do it.
However, I’d like to throw out some questions. For those who have a family member with a chronic illness (of any kind), I’d like you to comment on how you deal with it. Specifically, how do you handle financial concerns related to treatment costs? How do you avoid feeling ‘trapped’ when helping support the person who is ill? And finally, how do you deal with all the other people who just don’t “get it”? What kind of support have you been able to get and how difficult is it to find?
Please feel free to comment anonymously as I know this is a touchy subject. I’d just like to see what brilliance the intertubes can provide this week.
Am I better yet? June 25, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in research, work.
Tags: health, illness, surgery
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I had a minor surgery last Friday. The doctor said I should be well enough to go back to work in 4-5 days. I’m at three days now, and I’m getting a bit batty, even though I’m also sleeping a lot more than normal. When I’m awake, I feel like I need to be doing something.
I would be fine with this except that the university has a policy that I can only access the supercomputer cluster from on-campus. I was going so nuts yesterday that I made my husband drive me up there (I was on restricted driving, as well) so that I could do a couple things. I would like to get him to bring me back today, but he’s trying to get some work done, so I don’t know how likely that is.
It’s funny – at least when I’m sick, I don’t feel like doing work and so will take it easy. But here, I’m not sick, I don’t feel too bad, and I just keep thinking about all the stuff I want to get done. At least I have to be home to let the plumber in…I think it’s the only time I’ve been thankful for a plumbing emergency.
I can just imagine what I would be like if I were forced to sit at home for a really long time. I think I’d make everyone nuts.
What are you like when you’re under orders to ‘rest’?
Tags: deadlines, health, time management, working hours
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I’ve been reading with great interest the discussion on work/life balance and all the various issues people have to juggle. In particular, GMP talked about people working ‘regular hours’ versus those who work more erratically. The funny thing is, not only am I dealing with this myself, I’m trying to convince my teenager of this.
When I started college, pre-kids, I had never really learned any study skills. Even though I was taking AP classes in high school, I’d worked in ‘crisis management’ mode through most of it. (Probably the one exception was AP biology…) I’d basically see what was due the next day and do that. I very seldom (if ever) had much difficulty with my homework and studying was pretty much a waste of time because I got everything I needed in class.
You can pretty much see where this is going… (And this is a BIG reason why I’m not crazy about traditional schooling methods.)
Of course, nothing stays as easy as high school, and college was a lot harder. The problem was, no one ever told me how I was supposed to study. More than one of my classmates used the same methods I did (and were equally unsuccessful). I took a year off, working at a job. When I went back, I wasn’t entirely disciplined, but it seemed like I had worked myself into a schedule by having a regular job. This carried over when I went back to school.
Then I had kids…and the need for a schedule was reinforced. You only have kids in daycare during certain hours. And if you’re lucky enough to have a spouse, maybe they aren’t going to be willing to bail you out when you’ve got unmet deadlines. Or maybe they have deadlines of their own.
The question I kept asking is how I could do it all.
At some point, I realized I was chasing my tail and making no forward progress. I could sit and work for 24 hours and still not make “sufficient” progress. I think that view came from high school, too. I used to be able to sit down and finish something. But as you get older, the problems get bigger and more complicated. There are very few things I can sit down and complete in just a couple hours, and most of those are usually brainless tasks.
So there’s another thing I had to come to terms with: I can’t do everything, certainly not in one sitting, and even everything I’m already doing may be too much. Sometimes I have to let things go by quitting them or maybe I just have to put less time into them than I like (which is pretty much everything these days). The important thing I need to ask myself at the end of the day is whether or not I made progress. (I also don’t bother asking if I am happy with my progress because that inevitably leads to me feeling like my efforts were inadequate, which is only counter-productive.)
I try to maximize my potential by doing the most thinking intensive stuff in the mornings. I try to make chunks of time to work on those things as large as possible. (I have a tough time getting focused on a task, and once I do, I need to try to keep that as long as physically possible. Interruptions (aka meetings) are a death-blow to my productivity.) In the evenings, I try to spend time with my kids. After they’re in bed, I try to get a few more things done. When I’m teaching, the night activity is almost always grading. There is absolutely no reason to waste perfectly alert morning brain cells on grading. If I have a choice between getting an assignment graded in the morning so I can hand it back in the afternoon or waiting until the following class session so I can do it at night, I almost always choose to wait and do it at night. Maybe the students aren’t as happy, but my productivity is a lot more important.
I have tried to do other work at night, but that’s more benign stuff like putting together presentations or even planning out my next day (one of the best evening activities). I am far better off getting to bed early than sitting up trying to work on something important and making virtually NO progress. Usually I sit there and work far past the point I’m exhausted, don’t get enough sleep, function less effectively the next day, feel like I didn’t get enough done, stay up late to compensate…and it just becomes a horrible downward spiral. Now that doesn’t mean I can always do things on a schedule, but it usually comes out better when I do.
No, as much as I don’t like it, it’s better just to leave stuff undone and make sure I’m getting enough rest and exercise. The funny thing is, most people don’t really seem to mind. It drives me nuts not having things done, but when I talk to my supervisor (as an example), I’ve just gotten the general feeling that I was making sufficient progress to keep him happy. (Maybe I’m wrong? I hope not…) In fact, both in my own experience and what I’ve heard of others, those who wield deadlines like bludgeons and expect people to work far beyond where they are effective (especially in the face of extenuating circumstances) are generally viewed as bullies. That seems to be the case both in industry and academia.
I am now in the 1% June 6, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in personal.
Tags: health, medication, transit, venus
I had to go to the doctor for a checkup. While doing the checkup, she asked me some questions as to whether something or not was bothering me. I said yes, and she said she thinks I have an infection. She wrote me up a script for some antibiotics, and I was on my way.
I took the antibiotics on Monday night. As you probably read in my post on Tuesday, I was feeling pretty awful that day. It only got worse from there. I am currently writing up a proposal and got involved in a couple very technical discussions on Tuesday morning. Problem was, I couldn’t follow what anyone was saying. They may as well have been speaking Greek. (The only Greek words I know are the names for variables.) Mike said I seemed rather confused. I tried to go for a run after lunch. Usually my runs are 45 minutes. This time, I had to quit after 20 because my whole body was aching so badly. I felt like I had the flu. By dinnertime, I was feeling tired and weak and a bit dizzy. First I googled the meds I was taking to see if there was any relationship to fatigue. The one place I found that relationship explicitly stated, it said to call your healthcare provider immediately, so I called the nurse.
“The doctor prescribed this medication for an infection, and I think it’s making me extremely tired.”
“Of course you’re tired. You have an infection.”
“But I didn’t even know I had the infection until she told me. I had no symptoms until I started taking the medication.”
“Well, take it tonight and call your doctor in the morning.”
I sat down to eat dinner, and contemplated whether or not to take the next dose of meds. However, my left arm started to feel incredibly cold, and I just didn’t feel right. Rather than going to see the transit of Venus with the local astronomy club, Mike brought me to the walk-in clinic. By the time we got there, my left arm was tingling, and the sensation was moving up my arm. Also, I started having problems focusing and kept blinking my eyes.
The doctor guessed that I was, in fact, having a pretty rare reaction to the medication and told me to stop. He said to wait a couple days, and if my symptoms cleared up, I should call my doctor and let her know.
I went home, glad I decided to forego another dose of the meds. Going to sleep was a problem because now my whole left side of my body was cold and tingling. My arm was the worst, but I could feel pretty strongly in my ear and knee, as well. I was exhausted and fell asleep quickly….and apparently said some odd stuff in my sleep, too.
I woke up this morning feeling better than the morning before, but still feeling like I was moving through molasses. My arm has mostly stopped tingling, but I did have off and on sensations of burning or cold in it. And then there were a couple of serious episodes of vertigo. Fortunately, all of this has decreased as the day has worn on, and I’m actually much more awake now than I was this morning.
My conclusion, therefore, is that I better be more careful and NOT make the assumption that a medication is safe. The symptoms I had aren’t as weird as the anti-nausea medication they gave me a few years back (which made me want to crawl out of my skin and then claw out my doctor’s eyes…that was very freaky…and apparently so common they almost never use the medication now), but they were nothing to sneeze at. (Incidentally, sneezing and flu symptoms are also considered dangerous side-effects of this medication.) I guess I didn’t think anything of it because I’ve had to take antibiotics about once a year for various sinus and ear infection-type problems. I really never expected to have any problems…and apparently only about 1% of people do.
Sometimes you don’t want to be in the 1%.
I can’t help feel disappointed that I missed the transit. Episodes like this also make me feel more unsure about modern technology. But I guess when you’re going to lose your faith, you can restore it by looking at images like this:
Dragging June 5, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in personal.
Tags: health, lawnmowers, sleep
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I hate, hate, hate the end of the school year. I’m glad school is over, but the last month is essentially madness. All the end of school programs, activities, banquets, etc. I swear that we had one or more activities going on every evening in May.
On top of that, with the warm weather, we’ve hit lawn mowing season. Apparently the only thing my neighbors have to do is take care of lawn work. It seems like there are lawn mowers going constantly in my neighborhood from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
And now I’m just exhausted. We had to run an errand before work this morning. While Mike ran in, I stayed in the car. Things took much longer than anticipated, and so he came out half an hour later and found me sound asleep despite all the ruckus going on outside. It’s pretty bad when I can actually sleep someplace other than my own bed.
The good news is that I looked at the calendar for June…and it looks like things are finally starting to settle down. Maybe I’ll even get a little sleep…in between lawn mowers.
Seven-month running update: The Fargo Marathon! May 19, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, older son, personal.
Tags: asthma, exercise, Fargo marathon, health, runners, running
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Seven months ago, I decided I was going to see if I could run the full 10k at the Fargo Marathon. I’ll jump to the important part first: I ran the whole 10k and never fell back to walking. In fact, I must’ve had some major runner’s high because when we got to the ramp going down into the Fargodome, I took off at the fastest sprint I could manage. In retrospect, that was not the brightest idea (especially since I’d had to use my asthma inhaler during the run), but I was incredibly excited and couldn’t help myself. Aside from that, I could squeak past 3-4 more people.
The older boy and I met my friend Kari and her husband at the starting line. They were gone pretty quickly (except that Kari’s pedometer attempted to bail on her, so she had to come back briefly and retrieve it). There were a lot of fun things along the course, including an Elvis impersonator and this guy, who cleverly located himself at about the 5 mile marker:
Earlier in the week, they were saying it was going to be unseasonably hot. This morning, it was rather cool but there were thunderstorms. Fortunately, they finished up just as we were leaving for the race, so it was cool and a bit damp outside. The only major issue was the last half mile or so where we were out of the protection of trees and dealing with some gusty wind.
I managed to improve my time from last year by 22 minutes. I also went from one of the last 10 finishers to having about 200 people behind me. (I also started in the middle of the pack and so had nearly half of the participants in the race pass me.) So, I definitely improved. I’m already excited about doing it again next year. First, however, I have a triathlon in mid-August…so I need to start swimming and riding bike.