In Trust Your Gut: Tish’s Story; Part 79 | Medical Study Progress Report I am going to review how the first month of the medical study went. If you missed it, you can find it here. I did the testing for the study in January. The study started 4 weeks ago. I have had some things happen which I will write about, but please understand, I am also participating with the blessings of my doctor. It wasn’t required, but my doctor is aware of it, and yesterday, she told me how proud she was of me for taking this step. She also said that she wished more people would do more to be proactive in their own health care.
Yes, you read that correctly. I saw my doctor yesterday.
When you start any new physical activity, it is always the right thing to do. I saw her before I started, and I saw her again yesterday to discuss something that happened this past week. Before I get into this, I want to review my thoughts on the whole month. I will get back to the reason for the doctor’s appointment and the result of it in a bit.
I agree with her statements. It is a lot for me to just show up. Let’s explore this in more detail.
To understand how hard this is for me, you need to know that I weigh over 300 lbs. 318.9 as of this morning if you want to get specific. I have not seen a huge weight loss in one month of the study. This is not the most encouraging thing to think about at the moment, but I KNOW I NEED TO DO THIS. If I keep showing up, I might just save my own life.
There is no payment for this study.
It is completely voluntary. They are measuring the effects on people with type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes (which if we are being honest, doesn’t exist) who exercise. They are checking my body muscle and fat density, taking oxygen measurements, and my blood sugars. The study will compare the H1AC (the 3-month average) blood sugar levels while it is happening. I signed up for 7 months. What was I thinking?
I know it will help me with my own health issues. However, if you have been reading these blogs all along, you know that I have issues with showing up for myself and have been wavering since I stopped going to Zumba class twice a week. It is a decision I made for my own reasons, and I love Zumba. I have tried it at home a bit this year, and I will continue whenever that mythical energy is here to stay. I have seen improvements in my energy levels, but they aren’t consistent, yet.
No, really, what was I thinking?
I was thinking that I need to move on purpose this year. I needed a reason to do something. Some days I feel strong, and others I can barely manage to keep the heart rate up to where they need it to be for the study.
They make us wear heart monitors every day. It can pinpoint if something happens, and most of the time they tell me I need to pick it up a bit. Which sucks. I did sign up for it, and I am doing my best to show up and do what they need me to do. It is not a leisurely stroll on the treadmill I am taking.
In the first week, I had to walk for 80 minutes.
We broke it down to 20 minutes a day for 4 days. I got to have Wednesday off, as a rest day. Did I ever need that rest day! I was so happy to be able to sleep in. Being unemployed for over a year has affected my sleeping habits, I had been in the pattern of staying up too late and sleeping in every morning. I am not excited about being on a treadmill at 8 am 4 or 5 days a week, but I am still showing up.
The schedule is flexible, so if I should happen to get a job, they will accommodate a different schedule if I need it. I picked 8 am so that I would be able to drive my husband to work, and then hit the treadmill, on weeks when he needs the car. He shares driving with a co-worker, so every 2 weeks he drives, and if I want the car, I have to be in the car to take it from his work and pick them up after work.
The one issue I had in the first week was sore calves. Did they ever express their unhappiness out loud to me in that first week. The first day was the worst for the calves. I wear compression stockings, and they help improve circulation in my calves. They did not like the change in my routine, at all. I kept going, and I got through the first week okay.
Setting My Own Goals
In week 2, I walked for 100 minutes, so the daily minutes increased to 25 minutes a day. I still had Wednesday off, and I started testing my body to see what worked to get my heart rate up. I also took the time to create a list on Spotify, called Treadmill Tunes. It is great on shuffle, and today I almost laughed out loud when this played in my ears…Mustard! There are 311 songs on that list… I have a hard time narrowing it down, okay? I haven’t heard all of the songs in a month. Variety helps me to stay motivated and change my pace to, “Bump it up!” as they keep telling me when my heart rate is too low for their study.
Sometimes I skip through a few songs to find the beat I need for that moment, but shuffle usually does a good job.
By the start of week 3, my calves weren’t the issue I had on my mind. My nerve pain in my right thigh sometimes kicks in. It is related to my hip flexors, and I have had this issue for years. All I can do is stretch it and work through the pain. I know it won’t last forever, and I have to push through it. By the end of week 2, I was using my Zumba stretches after walking on the treadmill, to make sure I didn’t get sore after going home.
My goals are to increase the intensity when I can, and keep the heart rate up high enough so I am not having to bump it up every day. I am working on this; I have good days and bad days.
There was a new concern in week 3.
I performed a very entertaining Bambi on Ice routine, where I slipped but managed to recover and stay on my feet. My hip flexor muscles on the left side were pulled as a result, and I was very concerned about how it would affect my time on the treadmill. I take painkillers when it is sore, and try to rest. It is worse after sitting in my computer chair for long amounts of time. It doesn’t hurt on the treadmill, which I was a relief.
Week 3 time increased to 120 minutes. I was walking for 30 minutes, four days a week. Dealing with the issues above, and starting to challenge myself with increasing the incline for longer times every day. I play with the speed, as I move with my whole body for some songs, and for parts of songs on a lower speed so I can get my groove on without face-planting.
It hasn’t happened yet but on a treadmill, the fear is real.
On Friday, last week, I noticed that my left knee was trying to bend the wrong way. I pay attention to my body because I need to know how to manage all the curveballs it throws at me. I checked with a friend who works in the fitness industry, and she advised me to take things easy on the weekend, which I was already planning to do; and to pay attention to what was happening. Later that day I felt like my hip was going to go out, and my knee did its funky thing shortly after this. I was cautious all weekend and rested as much as I could.
As the weekend progressed, week 4 was approaching.
I worried about week 4. This past week added 30 minutes to my walk time, which means I am now walking for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, for a total of 150 minutes a week. The good news is, there are no more time increases for me to worry about. The difficulty comes when I am needing to bump it up.
On Monday, I paid close attention to my knee, and my hip, both on the left side. The right side has eased off, and I don’t have the nerve pain every day, or for very long when it happens, now. I realized that my left knee is over-compensating for the hip muscles. This means I was able to correct it before things got worse, and I am feeling stronger by the end of week 4.
I started wearing my knee brace to walk, to support the knee, and it is helping. I only wear it on the treadmill, and I think just even knowing I have it on helps a lot. Monday and Tuesday were tough.
For me, it is all a head game.
I need to talk myself through it every day. Getting up, showing up, pushing through and relaxing when they tell me I can cool down. It’s my favourite part, actually, because I am done for the day. Whatever gets me through it.
I watch the timer. I watch the heart rate. It can be affected by the other people in the room, so I can’t trust the heart rate, but it gives me a general idea if I am working hard enough or not, most of the time. I tell myself, only so many more minutes to cool down, or I had the incline to 3.0 for a whole minute longer than I did yesterday. Woo-hoo! I have to be my own cheerleader, constantly.
On Wednesday, I fell apart.
I pushed real hard on Wednesday. Keeping the incline at 3.0 as long as I could and held it at 2.5 for another record-beating time. I was feeling like I was going to be able to keep pushing for week 4.
And then, it happened. My left hip made a twinge. This one little smidge of pain unravelled me.
I started to panic. I thought I would have to quit the study. My biggest fear is injuring myself and having to quit. If this happens, I would be letting myself down. I faltered and was told to bump it up.
When I bump it up, I can also bump it down when I arrive at the correct heart rate, as long as it doesn’t drop. I play with the speed and the incline while I am working out, as needed. I bumped it way down after I got to where I needed, and the panic running through my veins kept the heart rate high enough to not have to increase it any further at that moment.
Exercise-Induced Asthma is something I have been diagnosed with.
I have carried a Ventolin puffer around with me for years. I have wheezed when I push myself, and to allow me to complete the walks every day without needing to stop, I decided to take 2 puffs, preventatively before getting on the treadmill in the first week. It is helping me to breathe better while working out.
Wednesday was no different, I took 2 puffs before getting on the treadmill. Due to scheduling conflicts, it was a 4 pm walk that afternoon. I had coffee in my system when normally I just have water and my protein shake before the workout. My protein shake is made by mixing a scoop of chocolate protein powder into my unsweetened cashew with vanilla milk. I drink it before I leave the house if I am just driving myself, or in the car if Roy is driving himself to work.
The time of day was off, and my mental game was off. I had a complete panic attack by the time I stepped off the treadmill. What made it worse was I COULD NOT BREATHE! I went to the chair to rest, like I always do, and found my puffer.
Usually, I will sit after the walk and drink my water, do my stretches and head home.
On Wednesday, I had to get into my head and play hardball. It was very hard to talk myself down from the panic attack. It was so scary; I thought they would need to call 911 and rush me to the hospital. Not for the panic attack, but because I could not catch my breath.
When I took the puffer, it was just like you see others do with bad asthma. Inhaling the puff was loud, and it was hard to hold my breath while holding the medicine in my lungs. Breathe it in, count for 10, exhale. I had to do this twice, and all the while, I could not breathe.
Once I got the puffer into me, I worked on calming myself down. It took about 45 minutes before I felt good enough to go home. I did not stretch, and I forgot my hoodie. I was not feeling like myself at all, and when I change a routine, I am more likely to forget things.
Thursday morning, I talked about what happened with the students who are recording the data from the study. I was a little upset, still, and it helped to talk about it. I made an appointment to see my doctor as soon as I got home.
One good thing about a blizzard is that you can get a cancellation appointment easily.
The doctor’s office is not far from where I live, so I went to see her. She is sending me for tests on my lungs but agrees with me that the main issue was the panic attack. Fast forward to Friday.
I did it for a month, successfully! I am proud of myself. Today, I realized at about 8 minutes in that I forgot to take the puffer. It was okay, although it was a little harder for me to keep my heart rate up today. It does make a difference, and it does help, but I can do it without the puffer. I will have to skip it on the day of the appointment, and now I know what to expect.
I have been following different people at different times in my journey, since it started in November of 2016. There are people who inspire me, people who have become friends, and colleagues in the authorpreneur world. (Yes, that was an intentional spelling, we do combine as authors and entrepreneurs). As a result of my own curiosity and desire to learn, I have discovered that I have issues with anxiety.
I want to explain my own beliefs. First, I believe in the magic of the universe mixes equally with science. In addition, I also have a strong sense of faith. My faith tells me that I do not have to understand how they all mix together, but that they all begin with God. To clarify, I am not writing to preach, but rather to explain why I can openly accept the beliefs of others while staying true to my own.
So, are you still with me? Good. Now that I have given you a basic understanding of my own personal belief system, I can move on to what is prompting me to go there. I have friends who are believers of the magic of the universe, and one of them shared posts about anxiety.
It is more than just being stressed out.
I see a lot of the signs of anxiety in my life. Being a stubborn person, I am strong enough on an average day to use the mind over matter theory. This allows me to carry on without these signs ruling how my day will go. If I am in a situation like I was a couple of weeks ago, on the other hand, things can escalate quickly. Consequently, there are times when I do not know what is happening. Therefore if I don’t recognize the signs, I cannot manage how I am feeling. This can be scary, as a result.
In the past, it has led me to the hospital to make sure my heart is okay. It is. On the day I went to the hospital, I was having a full blown panic attack. There is no reason why I was panicking. It was my anxiety. Until I was aware of what was happening, and since the symptoms were similar to what a woman can experience when having a heart attack, I went to the hospital. Once I understood that my heart was okay, I started to feel better.
The mind can play tricks, as it did in the situation I described above. It can react in a panic attack, and leave me wondering what caused it. As an overacheiver who is all too often too hard on herself, I frequently become overwhelmed. If I am being completely honest, sometimes it happens on a delay with me. I can be perfectly fine and finished with whatever should have made me feel anxious, and then at a later time my body will react. Fun times.
More recent signs have been showing up when I am driving my car. No, it is not road rage I am referring to. It is venting, for a lack of better terms, while I am driving. This has happened in relation to my planning to be on time for something, and angry because circumstances are going to cause me to be late.
I have written about this a little on my own personal Facebook wall, and if you are a follower, then you are already aware that I have been yelling in my car. For example, I try very hard to be on time. As a result, when I am going to be late because of something like the snowplough driver going by and leaving snow in the way of me moving my car or forgetting something at home which I need for the event I am going to, the anger inside of me can cause a meltdown.
When the cork pops on the bottle of my emotions, there is a lot of force behind it.
I recently had a book signing event at a large book store. It is a well known chain within Canada, Chapters. It was a big deal. I left with enough time to arrive early. While I was on the road, I realized I had left my signs at home. Consequently, I had to turn around to go and get them. As a result of this I began losing my composure.
My husband happened to be outside working on widening the driveway and shoveling. I got him to go get the signs, and I continued on my way. After I drove away, I had a mini meltdown in my car. I yelled at myself for being late and I yelled at my husband for not going with me to support me. In addition to the eruption of my frustration, I had a few tears while I expressed my feelings. Guess what? It wasn’t anger or the things I was yelling about which caused the meltdown. It was anxiety.
I try not to keep things bottled up. When I do, it inevitably causes me to have meltdowns. For instance, I certainly never realized until recently that every time I have experienced a meltdown, that the underlying cause was anxiety. most importantly, having this knowledge is something I am going to be able to deal with a little better the next time I am freaking out.
I am glad I know what is happening.
Knowledge is power. With this information, I can learn how to avoid the meltdowns if I know what the cause of them is. I can’t say that I will never freak out or have a meltdown again. As an emotional woman, I know I need to express what I am feeling to be able to grow as a person and to be more creative. Accepting my emotions in various situations has already helped me in both of these areas. As a result, it doesn’t mean I have all of the answers, but it does give me some clues for what to watch out for.
After that, all my worrying, when I arrived at the book signing event I was right on time. On the other hand, I was a jittery mess. When the offer of coffee or water from the Manager on Duty in the store was made, I passed.I chose to have a piece of gum in my mouth, to help calm my nerves. This alone did not calm me down.
Therefore, I was an anxious author until two really good friends showed up. I had packed my own camera, but when they arrived, my friend who also takes amazing pictures was one of the two who came to see me. He took some really great pictures of me at the event, and I will share them here.
The power of friendship.
After my friends came to see me, I noticed I was calming down. As a result of seeing them, I relaxed, so much so that I was able to finish the event with ease. Upon my own reflection, I think the reason I was having such a hard time was both the location of the event, and feeling like I wasn’t getting support. Of course, I absolutely understand that my family and friends support me, and most importantly I know it. I just had to see some familiar faces in the crowd on that busy afternoon to help me remember.
My first book, From Where I am Sitting…A Collection of Cat Tales is available to purchase locally at Artful Persuasion, Chapters, Westminster Books, and Whimsy. If you do not live in Fredericton, you can visit my Bookspage to order your copy online.
In addition to my first book, I am currently writing my second book, #Tishspiration: The Art of Surprising Yourself as well as writing a short story draft for submission to an anthology. The Tishspiration Newsletter is going to be sent out in March, so don’t forget to sign up to get your copy, right from the start…and I just announced yesterday I am working on Tishspiration Station, my Youtube Channel with weekly #Tishspiration videos.
Finally, I want to say thank you to my friends.
In conclusion, I want to thank Ginger for bringing the posts to anxiety not only to my attention but to help many people who have seen them. I also want to thank Matty for taking the pictures and showing up with Ash on my event day. It really meant so much to have them show their support, and,, subsequently, they made me feel so much better during the rest of the event.
Do you have anxiety? How do you manage it in your life? Leave your comments below, and maybe we can help each other cope with it better.
I had a health scare this week. I was at work when my chest felt tight like I couldn’t breathe in a deep breath. I have been experiencing ringing in my ears and realized it is affecting my sleep. I had a lot of indigestion. I was worried. I have read that the symptoms for women that have heart attacks are not as easy to tell as they are with men. I have some of the risk factors, including my weight, and diabetes. So when I was trying to ascertain what was happening in my body, I thought maybe I should go get checked out.
When I got to the hospital, I spent a fair bit of time talking to the triage nurse. She asked a lot of questions, and someone else took my temperature and blood pressure. I had no fever, and although my blood pressure was high, I was quite admittedly, freaking out.
I am not the most active person in the world, but I enjoy Zumba, and sometimes, when I want to, I can run short distances. If I’ve gotta go bad enough, I will run to the washroom, for example. I can walk fast when crossing the street if there is a car waiting for me to cross it. I can push my speed limits, and I have the capability to do more than I actually do sometimes.
I do go to Zumba, as often as I can. Last night I missed class. I was at the hospital. I hated missing class, but by the time I left work early, I needed to follow through and make sure that I was going to be OK.
I didn’t have pain, but my chest was feeling really tight. It was hard to take in a deep breath. I had a lot of gas, and that was making it worse. I decided to take a walk outside to see if I could make myself feel better.
It didn’t help, and at that point, I was really starting to panic. I was upset. My supervisor and another supervisor talked to me for a few minutes, and I called Roy to come and get me. He was home, it happened to be his day off. I made him take me to the hospital. He waited with me, even though it drove him a little crazy to lose all of that time there.
Six hours later, they had run an ECG and taken bloodwork and cleared me from having any issues with my heart. I can still have faith that my heart is strong, and it wasn’t the issue yesterday. I didn’t get an official diagnosis, but I am fairly certain that it was an anxiety attack, also known as a panic attack. As it came with a new symptom this time, I didn’t want to take any chances.
After the doctor ran the bloodwork, he came back and asked me about another incident in 2013. I was confused and said I didn’t remember that, and he was confused because they had run a 24 hour test on me at that time. When we questioned him, he looked again. He explained a few minutes later that another paper was mixed in my papers, and everything was normal. Talk about a mix-up. Doctors are human too, and there had been two traumas arrive while I was waiting to be seen. As long as he corrected the mistake, and apologized, that was fine by me. It also meant I was not losing my mind.
Living my life as someone that is classified as morbidly obese does come with its own challenges. I can’t do everything I want to do sometimes. I have to pace myself and fight to catch my breath when I do push too hard. I have to learn to say no a little more often, and I don’t like that word, no. I need to take more time to rest so that I don’t have panic attacks. I need to work on me a little harder. I am trying, really hard on that one.
The doctor said that it was good for me to get checked out. I had actually seen him when I had the knee infection two years ago. I don’t think he remembered me, but I remembered his name. He did tell me that they don’t want people to be there for every little concern, of course, but that if I had a genuine concern about my heart, they would rather see me go get it checked then have me found after something bad happened, and it is too late. I felt a little silly waiting there all that time but relieved that all the tests came back normal.
Having panic attacks are becoming more common in my life, and I plan to talk to my new doctor about it next month. It may be why my ears are ringing so much. I really need that to calm down. Knowing that what I felt may just be another symptom of a panic attack, will help me do what I have done to deal with them so far. I usually calm myself down, but I have to know what is going on before I can do that. Yesterday had a curveball.
I was trying to figure out how to explain panic attacks to people that don’t get them. I am not an expert, nor do I know if what works for me would work for other people. I was thinking before I started writing, that for me it is like treading water. I love swimming, and treading water is a good skill to have. I can tread water for a good amount of time and I don’t mind doing that. However, it is harder to do if you are only using your legs. For me, if I am only using my legs, and then I lift my arms up over my head, I go under the water. So I metaphorically had my arms up over my head yesterday, and I had to stop and reassess.
I stayed home today to rest and recover from yesterday’s ordeal. I needed the downtime, and I hope it will help me cope better with work tomorrow, and next week. I postponed an event I am hosting here for a week later, to give me more time to be ready. I have been told in the past that I am too hard on myself. Maybe I am. But I don’t know any other way to be. So I am going to keep treading water and keep working on me. I am glad I did go to the hospital, if for no other reason than to know what was ruled out after the testing was done. Now I have to figure out a better way to deal with my stress and anxiety so I can carry on and do what I was meant to do with my time here. I don’t have any plans of giving up anytime soon.