Sunday, June 21, 2020
Trigger warning: Eating disorder
So much has happened since my last blog post, approximately 3 years ago (early July, 2017). I worked 2 years at my old business, the local casino. I moved to Washington DC. I have been working at earning my Masters Degree, in I/O Psychology. I have a better idea what I want to do for my life, career and life-satisfaction wise.
Two years ago, I dealt with an eating disorder. I was refusing to eat. I was still very, very heavy, and I hated how I felt in my body (I've identified that I am agender, which means that I deal with similar dysphoria that other trans people deal with), and I loved the sense of pride and control that came with refusing to eat. But that wasn't healthy, and tore me apart in my prediabetes.
I'm going to post this and edit it, because I want the blog points.
Now, naturally, not eating didn't help me in any form whatsoever. My insulin was all over the place, and the starvation mode didn't change my weight or frame at all. My cells clung to my fat, while making me sick as I struggled without vital nutrients. With the help of friends and therapy, I was able to start eating again, though the memory of that sense of control taunts me.
There were a few other health issues that were never really cleared up, digestive health wise. Several medical procedures, including my gallbladder being removed. So, that was fun.
I was also struggling hard with cPTSD and Bipolar Disorder. At one point, I was put back on Abilify. This is where it got bad for my blood sugar.
I wasn't being monitored for glucose/insulin side effects. I was on the road when the symptoms got worryingly bad; I thought it was a severe bladder infection. I was very, very wrong. I went to the doctor first thing in the morning, and when they checked my blood sugar, it was very high. My insurance denied the medication my doctor had prescribed me (Victosa) and I didn't have access to any other insulin adjusting medications. By that night, I was unable to complete a sentence without being lost in thought. My brother took me to the ER, and it was discovered my blood sugar was well over 400. The doctors were quite frankly surprised I wasn't comatose yet, I was not reacting well. Several IV drips of insulin and saline later, I felt more normal, and I had a 'script for metformin.
This was July 2019.
I struggled. Adjusting diet, exercise, making sure I took my meds, but still on the Abilify, I couldn't get below 150 fasting. A UTI ended up landing me back in the ER, because it was playing around with my blood sugar. Around January of this year, due to regular psych med adjustments, Abilify was removed from my regimen by my psychiatrist.
I hit my highest weight yet that month. 354 lbs. And frankly, it wasn't a big deal. My life was far too big and scary and hard to bother with weight or size. I was a bit frustrated with not being able to fit into my binder the way I wanted, but hey. I had graduate level statistics to struggle with. I was learning about my triggers that held me back from functioning: how to clean house without fearing for my life anymore, how to go to work without crying in the car before hand. My therapist was much more concerned about how I would go for periods of time without eating again, and my sleep habits.
Covid19 shut down DC in mid-March. I voluntarily furloughed myself from my work as a barista by disclosing several physical ailments that make me high risk for complications. My spring semester finished with online courses and my summer semester has been strictly online due to the quarantine.
BLM began getting international press. I fought from my keyboard, sharing information and supporting the bail funds. Eventually, it became too much. Somehow, a different psychotic break was triggered of a past assault, and I shut down my social media.
My roommate lived with me from January to June. From January to June, I lived in the living room with zero privacy, sleeping on a cheap futon. She moved out in June for several valid reasons.
The last three months, due to the changing world, I was able to shift focus onto my dedication to my lifestyle. I was more regular with taking my meds. I ate at home more frequently. I ate with more regularity. I drank more water.
It paid off.
It so paid off.
My labs came back the past Friday.
My fasting blood sugar was 100. My a1c was 6.4. If you don't know, 100 is the lowest number for prediabetes. 6.4 is the highest number for prediabetes. Which means, according to both, I'm prediabetic when on my meds. My lifestyle changes and my meds have brought me down, in 11 months, from diabetic coma, to not diabetic symptoms.
(Unfortunately, the nurse who delivered this news was not at all impressed, and talked down to me about the hazards of cooking with butter, and the dangers of white rice, and that a portion of lean meat is the size of my palm, and that half my plate should be vegetables. I did not appreciate the condensation.)
But the aforementioned nurse spurred me to reconsider what always discouraged me from trying Sparkpeople again.
I really mulled it over and broke it down. And it turns out it's the small range of calorie goals. Which makes sense--- if you type in you want to lose two pounds a week, it will give you the calorie range to reach that goal. If you want to lose half a pound a week, it will give you that range. And that isn't a huge wiggle room of range in either case.
But that tiny range is super hard to balance for me without engaging in malfunctioning behaviors for me. I start obsessing, cutting walnut halves into eighths. Struggling to force myself into this window.
So I opened that window.
As long as I'm in a relatively healthy range of calories for my body, that is what matters. Adjusting those labs, that's what matters. Encouraging my body to not need the metformin as much, maybe at all, is what matters.
So I used Sparkpeople's algorithm to find the upper range, by looking at the highest calorie amount I can eat and still lose half a pound a week. Then I looked at the lowest calorie I can eat to lose 2 pounds a week. And that became my window. It's a 1,100 calorie difference window. Between 1,500 calories and 2,600 calories. I should still "lose weight" in my sedentary lifestyle if I stay anywhere in that range. What is more important, I can record my foods without triggering my behaviors. I'm pretty much guaranteed to fall in the proper range for my calories, proteins, fats, and fiber, and therefore won't be judging and berating myself for not being perfectly balanced.
I also finally did what my therapist has been urging me to do: make a safe space for myself in my home. It turns out, it's my kitchen. I can understand why: when I was a child, I cooked for my little brothers, and I baked for myself. As an adult, I threw elaborate dinner parties, I invented dishes for friends. This weekend, I finally cleaned my dishes that I had been putting off, and I emptied the fridge, because for the first time in months, I went grocery shopping (this had been my roommate's chore). I bought food *I* would be interested in eating. Fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean meats, whole grain carbs. I prepackaged individual servings. My freezer has so many frozen berries and peaches. After cleaning and restocking my kitchen, I went ahead and rearranged it so it suited me. Silverware displayed the way I wanted it. Blender and coffee pot where I thought they belonged. Drawers filled with what I thought they should hold.
So. I got my lab results on June 19th, 2020. Remember that the last time I blogged, I was 340, and that was my new high? And how in January 2020, I was 355, an all time high? By February, I was back down to 340. And over the last five months, I've stayed there. I've maintained my weight through this pandemic and through two stressful semesters.
June 19th, 2020, was Day 0.
The next day, my kitchen was set up, my fridge was full, and I not only cooked the healthiest and tastiest sloppy joes for dinner I had ever had in my life, I logged every single thing that went into my mouth.
June 20th, 2020, was Day 1.
I am supposed to see my follow up diabetic appointments every 3 months.
Three months is September 20th, 2020. That is Day 92.
So. Here we go. A lab lead experiment.
The goals are as follows:
1: Record everything. It doesn't matter if it is under or over the goal somehow; what matters is the consistency of recording everything I eat or drink.
2: Drink 8 cups of water a day. It's a good habit to build.
3: Spin the Sparkwheel every day. It reminds me to get on the site, and to keep trying.
Later, if I feel up to it, I can add: cardio exercise, strength training, balance and flexibility exercise, reading Sparkpeople articles with frequency, staying within the calorie count, and blogging/posting/updating. Those all, I will do when I feel I am able to for that day. It doesn't matter if I don't. I will, eventually, build habits of those, like the first three goals, but they are simply encouraged behaviors as of this moment.
I want to thank you if you read this far. It was a long one. I guess that happens when you vanish for 3 years. I hope your journey goes well. Thank you for glancing at mine.