Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weighty Health *Warning: Not for the squeemish*

It is no secret that I have (minor) health problems.

I have known since I was young that I have mitral valve prolapse (MVP). But I have also known that it isn't necessarily serious. After all, 1 in every 1000 women in North America supposedly have it, and only 1 in every 100,000 actually know that they have it (usually as a result of testing for angina-like pain). After several X-rays and blood tests, it was finally found as the reason for my pain through the use of an ultrasound of the heart. The blood does not backflow, so it isn't considered to be a very serious case. The pain seems to come most often when I am stressed or tired, but is not consistent.

I have also known since about my second year in university that I have arthritis in my knees. It is assumed that this is a result of injuries that I gave myself in high school, although one can't be sure. My blood count numbers are low, so it could be one of two types of arthritis. They said that as long as I don't want to treat it with more serious medications than over the counter painkillers, it is not necessary to be able to specify which kind it is, except for determining whether or not it is rheumatoid. (It isn't.)

Until now, I have been able to say 'Yeah, but it doesn't really mean anything.' 'Yeah, but they're nothing to worry about.' 'Yeah, but it's just to know that it's there.'

For the last month I have been having some digestive issues. I'm going to be frank. I've had diarrhea for a month. And at first that's all it was. I simply blamed it on my body having a hard time adjusting to my eating 80% vegetables. But then some blood started showing up in it. At first it was easy to dismiss. 'Oh, I must have cut myself.' 'Oh, it's near my time of month, I must be spotting.' But eventually it had grown from a speck to the size of a quarter, and I still had diarrhea.

To compound this, I was also having heart burn on a daily basis, which had never been an issue for me before, and I has burping up acid several times per day.

I was scared that I had a bleeding ulcer.

The whole thing came to a head when I was camping with Gilles. There were only outhouses nearby, and each were about a block's walk. The closest flush toilet was about the equivalent of 8-10 blocks away. I started noticing just how much I was running to the bathroom, and just how urgent and sudden it was every time.

As soon as we got back to the city and unpacked, I went to the doctor. He told me that it could be any number of things, as serious as cancer, or as simple as diet change. He decided to treat me for the simplest treatable problem, and then work his way up if that didn't work. So to begin, he gave me acid reduction pills for my stomach, and hemerhoid cream for the other problem. (Gah!)

But it worked. The most embarrassing problem in the world, but, I'm glad that it wasn't anything more serious.

Another thing that he mentioned while I was there, however, is that I have to lose weight.

He said that I wouldn't be having the problem with the acid if I wasn't so heavy - that it was caused by my fat putting pressure up onto my stomach. He didn't specify that the... uh... other problem... was caused by weight, but he did tell me that the added weight is increasing my blood pressure, and while it is still in the normal, healthy range, if I continue to gain weight it won't be. This added blood pressure is a problem when combined with my MVP. And he didn't have to tell me that the weight loss would also help my arthritis. I already know that from the last time I lost down to 180 lbs. I was 35 lbs heavier than that at my wedding.

I am being restricted to 1300 calories per day until I lose the first 10 lbs (205 lbs), and then I can eat 1500 calories per day until I lose the rest. My ultimate goal weight is 150 lbs, but I have several goals (and rewards in between). I will tell you about my weight loss strategy in another post, but until then, know this. I am going to be accountable. I am going to lose this weight, and be healthy again.

Those of you who read my blog right on the website will notice that there is a new ticker added. This ticker is started the day of my wedding at my heaviest weight, and extends to the ultimate goal of 150 lbs. I will update it frequently. I can do this.

ETA: The ticker is on the bottom of the page. I have decided to go with one that links directly to the calorie counting site that I use, so that I only need to track my weight in one place. You'll note that it says that I've gained weight right now instead of having lost weight - this is because I have been tracking my weight on and off on this site since 2009, so it considers my first entry as my beginning weight.


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November 30th, 2011 - Present

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