Making medical decisions by coin toss

April 20, 2012

Doctors no longer seem to be all-knowing gods to many of us.

My grandparents always did just what the doctor told them to do.  They trusted their doctor to be honest, knowledgeable, and infallible.

Fast forward many decades and things have changed.  A lot.  For one thing, there are the studies that suggest doctors lie to their patients.  They apparently do this to protect their patients, to save their feelings, but it doesn’t help with the trust thing.  Doctors are now overworked and dealing with lawsuits, insurance, and budget cuts.  In other words, they’re human.  The mystique is gone.  Even more, we have the internet now and can do a lot of our own research.  This helps us to realize that, again, our doctors are human.  They don’t know everything.

Now, I do think that a lot of my doctors are very knowledgeable and I trust them.  That, after all, is why I continue to see them.  However, I still find it difficult when I need to make a decision, and I have no one to help me make it.  I talk to my parents for advice, but I’m getting tired of that; I’m over 30, for crying out loud!  I’m not in a relationship, so I can’t turn there.  And anyway, these all just other laypeople (though my parents are very smart and knowledgeable.)  I can talk to my doctors, of course, but they won’t tell me what to do.  Sometimes they strongly hint at their preferred course.  Sometimes they say it outright.  But many times they don’t know what the right thing to do is.  Damn, they really are human.

I am now facing a small dilemma.  Should I continue my gluten-free diet, with its good effects but also possible negative ones?  Should I quit the diet and see if the negative effects go away?  But then the good effects might go too.  Should I try an over-the-counter med to see if that helps the symptoms?  But what if my body is still adjusting to the new diet?  It could be that I improve from the diet, but if I take the meds, I won’t know which is helping.  Or I can adjust my thyroid med dosage.  I’ve already filled the prescription.  This won’t help the nausea, of course, but it could help the fatigue.  But what if the diet just needs more time to work, and adjusting the thyroid med covers that up?  And I could have negative effects from changing the med dosage, too.  And these are just my top choices – there are even more options to consider!

It would be so easy to have someone tell me what to do.  It would remove this pressure that’s sitting on my shoulders.  But I have to admit, I’m glad when my doctors admit they don’t have the answer; it’s better than pretending otherwise.  Besides, I’m sure I’ll figure it all out eventually.

Does anyone have a coin I can flip?

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If you can relate to this, please pass it along and share the camaraderie!  Let’s build the community!


Cheating my way through dinner

April 18, 2012

I had a fantastic plan for last night’s dinner.  It was delicious and healthy and used up all of the starting-to-get-old veggies in the fridge.  But I was exhausted last night, so I made an omelet instead.  I hate omelets.

My top priority, in meals and most other things, is my health.  I’m also concerned about money, especially these days, since I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to work, and there’s still no word on whether or not my long term disability claim will be approved by the insurance company.  Put those together, and it means I’m not eating out.  I live near a lot of restaurants, but take-out is a big no-no for both my health and my wallet.  So instead, I cook.

Cooking sounds like a great idea, right?  It’s healthy and cheap (or can be, depending on how you shop.)  The problem is, it takes energy, and since I live alone, I have to do all the cooking.  That’s why last night’s dinner ended up being an omelet.  That’s why I planned the healthy dinner again for tonight, but again it didn’t happen.

Those veggies in the fridge need to be eaten, but cutting them up just wasn’t going to happen today.  I still made the rice, but I skipped the fresh veggies and instead nuked some frozen ones.  Forget garlic and onion; that’s too much chopping and garlic powder works just fine.  Ok, it’s not as good, but it works!  I use dry beans now instead of canned (to avoid BPA and whatnot) and I cook them in large amounts and freeze them in individually portioned bags.  This works great, but when I thawed them, they didn’t have a ton of great flavor.  Enter garlic powder.  And throw them in a pan for a minute with some olive oil.  Add the veggies.  Splash in the gluten-free soy sauce.  And some rice.  Now let’s see: starch, protein, lots of veggies.  Good enough for me!

Luckily my standards aren’t too high.  I don’t need a 5 course meal.  I don’t need anything fancy.  I don’t even need anything that tastes amazing, just something that doesn’t taste bad.  And with minimal effort and very little energy expenditure, I made dinner!

Those veggies will just have to wait until tomorrow.  Tonight, I feasted on the easy version.  A toast to all of the dinner cheats out there!

If you have a great “easy” version of a meal that you want to share, please add it in the comments!  We can all help each other out with new ideas.

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If you can relate to this, please pass it along and share the camaraderie!  Let’s build the community!


Sometimes “fate” intervenes

April 17, 2012

I wonder sometimes about timing.  Maybe if I had sat in the next subway car over that day I’d have run into a friend.  Maybe if I hadn’t been running late the other night I would have met a new business contact.  I don’t believe in fate.  I don’t think there’s some force controlling things.  But I do think that sometimes timing is everything.

After this weekend’s great walks, I decided to keep up the momentum, at least to some degree.  Ok, I won’t be walking 3 miles every day, but I know I need to do more than what I was doing before the trip.  So today I promised myself I’d take a long-ish walk.  A mile seemed like a reasonable goal.  But it was too hot.  So I ate some ice cream.  Still too hot.  I sat in front of a fan and watched tv for a while.  Yup, still too hot.  I ate dinner.  Ok, it had cooled off enough, time to get off my ass and walk!

I debated washing the dinner dishes, then decided to let them wait.  I don’t usually do that, but I wanted to get out before it got dark.  I could have changed my clothes or checked an email, but instead I rushed to leave so that I would be sure to take the walk.  What if I had delayed leaving for any reason?  On the walk, I slowed down to chat with a nice guy with a cute dog.  I’m a sucker for a cute dog.  What if I hadn’t slowed down?  I finished the big loop and ended up back at my building.  I could have stopped, but I pushed myself to also do the smaller loop that I had already planned to do.  What if I had skipped that?  At the far end of the loop, before turning back towards home, I decided to push myself and do a bit more.  I started walking a longer route home.  What if I had turned back when I planned?  But I didn’t.

And that’s how I turned a corner and saw a blind woman in the road.  It was a relatively quiet one way street, and the car had stopped and was waiting patiently.  The woman was in the middle of the wide street and she turned left, moved her cane, then turned right, moved the cane some more, then turned left again.  A guy across the street was watching this, clearly not sure what to do.  How many of us have been in the same position?  I’m guessing most of us have been on the receiving end of this internal debate: is it better to risk offending someone by offering potentially unwanted help, or to risk letting someone struggle by not offering potentially needed help?

I called out to the woman to ask if she needed help, and she gratefully said yes.  She was on her way to the T and had gotten turned around.  I led her back to the sidewalk.  She asked if I was going to the T and I said no, but that I was walking past it, which was true.  She immediately slipped her hand onto my arm and asked if I’d lead her there.  Of course I was glad to.  We joked and laughed about how we hold ourselves to high standards, trying to be perfect despite our disabilities.  She, of course, had no idea what mine were, but that didn’t matter.  We had a nice chat, and then I left her off at the door to the train station and continued on home.

There are dozens of ways we might have missed each other.  I don’t believe in fate, but I am so glad the timing worked out so that I could help someone else.  It is so easy to become absorbed in our own health issues, and it meant a lot to me that I was able to get outside of that to help a stranger.  I am sure she would have eventually made it to the station without my help, but I hope that I made her night a little better.

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If you can relate to this, please pass it along and share the camaraderie!  Let’s build a community!


Breaking routines and pushing boundries

April 16, 2012

After many months at home, I finally got out of town this weekend.  Aside from being too short (as always) the trip couldn’t have been better.  The weather was fantastic, better than anything I’ve seen this time of year.  I had good company and a great atmosphere.  We ate healthy food and took many walks.  That last part was the most amazing part.

For many months I’ve been fighting fatigue.  I’d love to say that the fresh ocean air was enough to fix everything, but of course it wasn’t.  Still, it helped a lot.  Getting away helped.  Getting out of the city helped.  Being pushed to do more by someone else helped.  And somehow, yesterday, I actually walked 3 miles!  Now, I won’t pretend that I could do that every day.  And afterwards I was so exhausted that I took a nap (with the dog, who was even more worn out), something I haven’t been doing as much anymore.  Still, I walked 3 miles!

We stopped to rest a lot, and we didn’t walk very fast, but we made it.  One great part was the exercise.  Another great part was the fresh air and beautiful views.  But there was something even better: knowing that I was able to accomplish this.  The last 6 months have been so demoralizing that this long walk, even if it was just a one-time thing, was a reminder that in some way, at some time, I am still capable of it.

I don’t know when or if I’ll be able to do that again, but for now I know that this weekend, I was able to walk 3 miles.  This weekend I felt good.  No, it wasn’t perfect.  I had nausea and back pain and whatnot, but I walked 3 miles.  Whatever happens next won’t change that.


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