Monday, November 28

A New Life, a New Start

I almost died!

They sent me home to die.

But now I'm alive! And better than in years! And getting better all the time.

It's been a long time since I posted. In order to catch the blog up properly I would need to write a book, literally. So I'm going to skip that, and even skip the reader's digest version, and just go right to a single post that summarizes some things, to get my blog up to date.

Then, from now on, we'll see how my current plans work out!


1. Lipedema (sigh). Visions, voices, dreams, and yet-more of years of pubmed and web reading to try and figure this out, have brought me to a couple of realizations I have not yet had time to implement, but will. For those in that boat with me I'll share a summary. Might be worth what you're paying for it but hey, nobody else has a cure, so...

Some agriculturalists say we "broke the sulfur cycle" in the 1940s in our nation and that people have been chronically deficient in this mineral since. Sulfur is in every cell and is what makes the membrane properly permeable and flexible. Without sufficient sulfur, the body has to allot what little it's got, and some cells will have to have rigid exteriors which do not allow oxygen respiration and waste disposal which will lead to bloated, toxic, unusable cells. Which also may have trouble being broken down properly as well. It's only theory but it would make sense the body would do this to fat cells since they are the cells most disposable in the body, and since they can easily be redistributed away from the vital organs. As rigid membranes would mean some cracks and leaks, chronic inflammation, pain, and so on in the areas where the body is storing those en masse makes sense.

My body had suggested sulfur. At the same time (same night) it suggested quercetin. It turns out the membrane surface of cells needs to be conductive so that energy can pass between them (not just on nerve pathways but cell to cell). I looked in pubmed and this is what quercetin does. I believe an ongoing supplement of a quality MSM and quality quercetin will not harm me, and eventually may help. Who knows? I'm just sharing what I've gotten.


2. I had an ongoing period where I took a great deal of the supplement serrapeptase, with a little bit of nattokinase as well, before bed. I did this in the hopes that it might have some effect on too much fibrous growth in the lipedemic areas (hips-thighs for example). After a little while, my eyesight improved notably. Turns out that's one of the things it's used for.

I'd had a significant health issue: I'd had whooping cough, and though it finally (took forever!) went past, my lungs never fully healed. Even the teens around me who had it, their hadn't either, we were having a talk about it over a year after we'd all gotten it. Although my lungs had partly healed, never fully and I could not sing as a result -- air control issues. Some time after the eyesight bit, I started coughing, for no apparent reason -- not sick -- but it genuinely felt like I was coughing up crap from the very bottom of my lungs. After about ten days of doing exactly that, my breathing was better, and I eventually realized I could sing again. I looked in pubmed and it turns out both of these things -- eyesight and lung healing -- have successful research on them with serrapeptase.

Meanwhile my friend's sister began taking it and after some months was able to reduce and finally ditch the cane she'd had to use for six years, for her knees. There are lots of stories like this it turns out. Worth looking into.

Co-Q10 (and other supps)

3. For reasons I'll mention below, I began taking the supplement Co-Q10, a few hundred milligrams a couple times a day. I was in a situation where I had cause to know: this supp really, really helps if there's a heart issue. The difference in energy and recovery of my heart, specifically, was very notable based on when I'd taken it vs. forgotten to take it (I suck at being consistent with supplements).

There are only few supplements that I have found in my life where I really NOTICED a difference -- most we just hope they're helping. Those were:

* Vitamin D3 in a fairly high dose. The first time I took about 10K of D3, about eight hours later I had what I can only call a significant improvement in my "fundamental sense of well-being."

 * A very hefty dose of lecithin and ascorbic daily (I was doing microencapsulated ascorbic, sometimes called homemade liposomal vitamin C though it's different. Note the sunflower lecithin is drastically higher in this, than in commercial versions of lipo-C, and I believe that's where much of the difference came in, it wasn't just the C). I spent ten days feeling like my whole spine had an "under construction" sign on it -- it felt a lot like overtraining deadlifts can -- it got less with each day until gone. I believed, intuitively, that the phospholipids were being used to rebuild the nerve sheaths around the spinal column. I had a vast amount more social patience, less traffic-driving stress, and so on.

* Serrapeptase, see above.

* Magnesium when rubbed all over my torso and legs, waited about 15-20m then took a shower and went to bed. I had signficantly more energy the next day every time I've done this.

* Co-Q10, see above.


So several years ago my energy utterly tanked. After ketogenic dieting had done awesomely for me, suddenly I couldn't survive on it. The overall effect got worse over time.
I went through such extreme energy problems that for example, if I did the herculean effort to go grocery shopping even for a few things, I might sit on the couch, watching them go bad in a bag on the floor, because I hadn't the energy to get them to the fridge and freezer and hadn't the energy to get up. I could sit for hours trying to come up with the energy to take off my jacket. I had to "psyche myself up" for an hour to be able to get up to go to the bathroom. It's one of those things that in retrospect was so extreme I can't believe I wasn't in ER or something, but what would you complain about? I had no medical coverage then. (Note: that was my fault. I simply had not chosen to pay for it. Had I been truly poor, the government would have given it to me.)

I spent a long time collecting "obscure supplements," sure that it must be something missing in me. Then I took them, once they were collected. This was aversion-training for taking pills. At the end of many months, it had helped enough that now my energy was merely about zero, as opposed to in the negative.

I kept growing, physically, particularly in the lipedemic areas. By October 2013 I shouldn't have been driving. By February 2014 I couldn't anymore because I literally could not fit.

Aside from the disaster of my size, and an energy problem so severe I could barely make it from the car to the door, I started reading and realized that I was probably insufficient in every nutrient, due to long-term low-grade anorexia. "Anorexics in fat suits" is a common term for lipedemics -- something about it seems to kill appetite, which is all anorexia means (the "nervosa" term added, is something else). Even without that, large people often undereat nutrients, overeating energy-foods, and so are often a bit malnourished anyway. I figured the two combined might be very serious, and might explain the problem. I determined to go on a sort of anorexia recovery program which would require me to eating very regularly and robustly.

My body had been growing. And my heart was getting more tired. I would stand up to go to the bathroom and already any energy was gone. Merely getting to the bathroom and back, never mind shower, took the kind of effort most people only use for extreme versions of rock climbing. And it took me 20 minutes sitting in my bed to recoup. Thankfully I work remotely on a laptop!

I got more sedentary until I was literally bedridden. I kept growing, physically, despite not eating much, because at that point nearly everything I ate seemed to cause 'reaction' (similar to a gluten inflammation reaction). I knew my heart was pressed but this was said to be normal for someone with lipedema -- when it's extreme -- and I had reached menopause, which is a hormonal event and those are known to cause big issues with lipedema and growth as well. It seemed like a cycle of degeneration that there was nothing I could do to change. I determined to get medical insurance so maybe I could at least get some help with the seeming heart stuff, but it would have to wait quite awhile as my company only does this once a year. 


In October 2015 I had a significant heart attack. I wasn't treated for it. I wasn't sure until a few weeks later that's what it had been, and at that point I was already past the worst of it. Let me just summarize and say that this and the 2 week aftermath fall into the category of things I never, ever want to experience again for any reason. 

Starting Jan 2nd 2016, I worked frantically, now that I had health coverage, to get to see a doctor. Nobody could see me without a primary care physican. Nobody would become my PCP without my visiting their office. I was literally immobilized -- aside from barely making it to the bathroom and that with ropes I had anchored to cling to all over -- I could not stand, walk, etc. All the doctors said even if I went to ER and they were standing right next to me they would not be able to become my PCP, it required a visit "in their office" for insurance reasons. It was insane.

In February 2016 the edema that had been growing from my lower body upward basically reached my lungs. I was literally drowning from the inside. And at one point, I could no longer make it to the bathroom on my own. I got there and knew it was the last time. I called the paramedics, and I went to ER. In the ER I told them of my Oct experience and how it had gotten worse ever since, and how I didn't have a doctor and why. They said they had to refuse me treatment because their charter is only for "acute" issues which means "new" the last few days. I said, I AM DYING. I will not survive another couple days. They said yeah, we see. The doctor talked to me until, in my brain-befuddled state, I realized that if I did not personally volunteer something that made it a RECENT (within 3 days) event, they could not help me. I said, "I've been having chest pains!" and that was it -- they checked me in.

I was hospitalized for 8 days, during which they ran a gazillion tests and had me on strong IV diuretics (thank goodness). My weight according to their space-age bed was about 455. A strange thing kept happening. A doctor would see my specs from the tests. He would come in to talk to me about the fact that I was gonna die any minute. And he would see that I was totally alert and functional and react very oddly -- I mean it was obvious (one doc literally his eyes got huge, his mouth dropped open, he stepped back, and then excused himself and nearly ran from the room to do something different than planned on my account). They were attempting to get me this surgery for the heart, it is not open heart surgery which I didn't think I would survive nor did they. One of the big things in OHS is that you have to be mobile immediately after, you must, the stats on failure are huge for those who aren't. But I wasn't mobile even before the surgery. They would apply for me, three different docs trying to help, and the answer was always no. I didn't fit the stats.


They sent me home on hospice to die. I had about six months they estimated. That turned out to be a pretty good estimate. But for the sake of "quality of life" they kept me on (oral) diuretics. Which really, really helped. Because I worked hard -- not 'too' hard -- on losing some fluid and getting more mobility. I thought maybe if I did that, I could qualify for surgery and not die.

But I had what I was pretty sure were a couple more small heart attacks, not long after a little exercise and food. It was clear that I was unlikely to survive to the point of being as mobile as I needed to be. Finally I begged my hospice nurse to help me talk the doc into finding me a surgeon -- maybe some wild cowboy lunatic with 99% chance of killing me but I was willing to kill myself at that point, I was so physically miserable, in pain, in despair, with no hope for the future. I figured if I died during or after surgery, well, at least I wouldn't have to live like that anymore.

They found someone willing to look at me -- they didn't actually get a surgery agreement, but I didn't know that! -- and then because of my size, they put me on a high gurney and shipped me six hours away to St. Louis. I am pretty sure that a perfectly healthy person on an elevated gurney for six hours of bad highway would be seriously sore after. I literally woke up wailing and unable to move a muscle in my torso/shoulders voluntarily and had to be medicated for pain every morning for three days.

On the other hand, during these days and another two, they were doing tests on me, all the same tests as before, and then some -- detailed lung tests, and a CATH test of the heart.

And when all that was done they said: most people have clogging of the arteries. You don't. Most people have build-up in the heart valve that requires bypass. You don't. Blood pressure: normal. Blood insulin: normal. Insert a long list of other stuff here -- all normal. The only thing they could track was that I had a significant heart murmur, which I was born with, and that I had a profoundly degraded heart valve -- which I was born with.

Who knew?

So apparently, super-sized women age 50 in the cardiac ward, are not commonly healthy by every measure except-that-heart-valve-thing. And the lipedemic fat, but that wasn't going anywhere and it wasn't in my torso so aside from stats on paper didn't seem to affect any numbers much. Seriously they were a little bit amazed. I said well, I ate really well for about ten years! Maybe that helped.

They said based on the heart valve, I hadn't been getting up to 70% of the oxygen and nutrients to my brain or body, in a rising gradient %, for many years. So my suspicions about anorexia were right -- but it was vastly more profound than I dreamed, and due as much to blood issues as what I ate or didn't. And they said if I had open heart surgery, assuming there were no problems during or complications after, that this would actually solve that problem.


So I had open heart surgery on July 1, 2016. It took half the normal time. Everything on recovery happened a day early. Went great. But let's add this to the box of "things and their aftermaths" that I never want to experience again in my life.

They stuff you with fluids during and I came out of it larger than I went in, as incredible as that seems. Their theories (the docs) was that after a few months I would probably be losing the edema.

They said that my body would literally have to grow from scratch or rebuild from atrophy all the inner workings to handle vastly more blood volume and heart pumping power. It's one thing to fix the heart but it's another to have the body systems ready for the upgrade. This is estimated to take about a year after the surgery... although that's for normal people, probably not people my size.

The surgeon told me -- three times no less -- that my valve was one of the worst he'd seen and that once I was really healed up, my life would be "so amazingly different" I wouldn't even be able to believe it.

I am on a beta-blocker for 'heart remodeling' (Coreg) and on Diuretics (previously Lasix/furosemide but I asked for a change to Demodex/torsemide which I got) but that is all. I am reactive to codeine and vicodin so the drug they gave me for pain was not do-able for me, gave me horrible nausea and they didn't send me home with any anti-nausea prescription. So I lived on gel ibuprofen (won't take Tylenol, I love my liver!) but I rarely take it now, and when I do, it's due to the side effects of the diuretics.

I have lost a lot of edema though I still have what I'm estimating is about 140# or more of it. When it's gone, my weight will be lower than I expected, but that's probably from losing lean body mass due to a few years -- and the last two in particular -- of being nearly bedridden.

So I am learning to stand, walk, be mobile again, I'm getting better all the time, re-developing all the body systems required. And the heart thing fixed my energy problem thankfully, although I still need to develop both muscle and cardio improvement.

The more I've learned about this the more I've realized that pretty much the last 20 years of my life have been affected by the heart-valve problem; especially the last ten; and acutely, the last five.


As a surreal side-effect though, by the time of the surgery, nearly anything I ate that wasn't meat caused massive "intolerance inflammation." I was to the point where I could hardly eat anything, it was horrible. But now, I can even eat wheat and rice, which used to destroy me even in tiny amounts, I can eat it outright and I do react, but more like I did a decade ago -- after 8 hours with rice, after about 24 with wheat, I get a little bit of lung asthma, that's all. I still don't really want to eat much gluten anyway, but not having to stress about every form of it even a little bit in something, plus half the spices in the world that were setting me off eventually, has certainly opened up my food options again. Bear in mind I live in Nowhere, Oklahoma. We don't have stores for herbs, there is no such thing as gluten-free bread in my walmart, really there are few options here. So limitations on foods tend to have a more dramatic impact here than they do for people who live in larger cities.

Long ago a chiropractor friend told me that when people have serious liver/kidney issues that are untreated, they seem allergic to nearly everything, but that it was because the body just didn't have the normal "tolerance" for the standards of life, like grass and laundry detergent. That if you dealt with the organs issue, this would change. I think this is true, as I saw that happen with someone I know. I'm wondering if the gluten thing might relate. By which I mean, yes it absolutely IS a problem inherently, but maybe whether someone reacts or not has a lot of variables -- both within their digestive system, and also in their immune system. Once my immune system was not getting so much of my blood poured back into my body with a massive valve leak, maybe it had the capacity to 'deal with' more issues from other things.

As I was not losing edema AT ALL after two months post-surgery, I went on a ketogenic eating plan, hoping that losing the base body water would inspire my body somehow. It really did. I lost like 66# of water in four weeks. But this had bizarre and very painful effects body-wide. It turns out that diuretics are one thing, and keto is another thing, but the two together do not end well. It's just not enough water -- my body told me in a dream. I tried going off the diuretics, but I grew massively in a week so I went back on them. I went off keto, and I grew but far less massively and over a period of weeks, but I didn't regain all that I'd lost of the water -- only the baseline (about 25#) I tend to carry at this size. I waited a few weeks and then tried again keto with no diuretics -- same result.

I am only just beginning a new plan -- sans keto, with restored diuretics -- tomorrow. It combines a variety of carb levels depending on the day (for fluid reasons) and intermittant fasting. So, we will see how it goes.


It turns out that years of life, utterly wrecked, were probably due to the birth-defect nobody knew about all along.

My body needs to rebuild muscle-etc. for mobility after years down. My body needs to build massively inside, veins arteries lymph and more for the change in blood volume/power. There's tons of edema to lose. And more fat as well. So there is plenty to do ahead.

But the good news is, I GET TO LIVE!

I thank God, the Universe, and anybody else I think is listening, every single day.


Tuesday, April 29

Accelerating out of the Curve

When I was 16, I took my boyfriend Chris to meet my grandfather, Robert Bourbon Bunyan Maples (aka "Bob") of Ojai, California. Bob came from Texas to California in a covered wagon in 1904, when he was four years old -- and he was a character like something out of a book.

Two decades later, Chris told me the main thing he remembered about the man was his repeated insistence to us (having watched some inspiring documentary just before we arrived) -- while dangerously waving his large cane for emphasis -- that we have sheep in our eyebrows!

I can see how that might stay with someone.

It embarrassed the hell out of me at 16, but seemed hilariously sweet in retrospect, when grandpa was gone.

From the time I was five years old, he'd make me read the newspaper to any fool crazy enough to get near.  ("She's smart as a whip!" he used to say to everyone.) And he loved to give advice. When I got older and I was around 17, he loved to opine to me while driving. Especially about driving.

"When pulling out of a turn," he intoned as he took the circular curve of an on-ramp, "You have to feel the car," he says, as the 'pull' from the end of the hard curve took us. "Then accelerate out of the curve." To example this, he promptly accelerated to about Mach 2 just as we reached the 101 Freeway. (Given its daily percentage of PI lawyers, drug lords and movie stars, this went totally unnoticed.)

I felt both terror and trust. We were like my once-favorite Roadrunner cartoon, but in an old American car only slightly smaller and lighter than an Abrams tank.

I later came to consider his advice an aphorism of sorts:

After all the twists and turns one goes through, when you finally see the road is straightening out ahead, that's not the time to relax from the stress, it's the time to get ready. Use the stress at the end as something to push off from, put some power into it and get yourself on the straight and narrow.

Well, it makes sense to me, anyway.

I'm just about there now, with health and nutrition. I won't lie, I am frankly exhausted, emotionally, from the effort it has taken over years to try and figure out what went horribly wrong with my body, my diet, my health, where my energy went (where my damned hair went!) and so on.

But this isn't the time to let go or relax. I think I may actually see the highway up ahead.

My Poster Child License Has Been Revoked

I quit blogging here for a long time. Even for years before that, it was nothing but barely.  That's because I began this blog waxing-on about low-carb. VLC helped me lose 170 pounds and feel awesome.

Until it didn't. I "crashed" into fatigue and other health symptoms so severe I'm lucky I've survived.

Of course, you know what it's like: One day I'm the Poster Child for VLC and the next day you must have been doing it wrong. 

Well, clearly whatever I was doing was wrong for my body. But I was pretty damn successful with eating the expected foods and getting the expected results... initially.

We could back-seat drive the "what-if's" all day to no useful end.

I am fairly rejecting of the medical system. This is due to my being a little bit 'Type A' personality ("I'm fine!" I once hollered as nicely as I could at a nurse, while ordering an overnight delivery of a new laptop computer to my hospital bed so I could continue work. Seriously). But it's mostly due to my having utterly lost respect for allopathic medicine's expertise on anything beyond rescuing one from the most acute version of poison or injury or something gone amuck to the far extreme. And even in those categories, it's more that they simply hold the legal monopoly of access and power for the equipment and elements needed. They still rate very low on the common sense list of treatment strategies in my view, even then.

My family loves doctors. They believe everything they see on TV or are told by someone in a white coat. They all end up on chronic medication (sometimes multiple), missing minor organs (as if any organ is minor), and gradually getting sicker at a financially-lucrative-for-pharma slow pace, opining to me sometimes -- as if this means anything -- that they are sick "because they're getting old" (even if they're in their 40s) or that their chronic skin cancers have nothing to do with the fact that they've been taking rat poison daily for years and can't have vitamin K, no, the doctor explained it's because they were out in the sun a lot as a kid. (Insert facepalm here.) Don't get me started.

So, I didn't go to the doctor. Anybody else with even half the severity of my post-VLC symptoms would probably have been on their way to a whole list of tests and labels and medications.

But me, I just sat motionless (it was all I could do) and used google to search, and read, and search and read. Every night, every week, every month, every season, for a long time, years really, though I cycled through brief bouts of optimistic ideas (which failed) during that. I was trying to learn more about what my body might be missing and how I could fix it. Along the way I also found a lot of fascinating substances and techs and historical people and nutrients and so forth.

I even discovered that the "unique" elements of my weight (and that of both sides of my family, though I am the far extreme) are in fact predictable and part of a known syndrome/disease (lipedema) with a huge estimate of affected women. Something which diet and exercise won't 'correct' (explaining why I lost 170# and none in those areas!) and for which there is no known cure. 

Excuse me while I leap from this ledge.

But moving on: whatever the solution, I knew one thing: VLC worked great for losing weight and feeling great, right up until it didn't. Maybe partly because of my lipedema, but maybe just because.

Then my job went insane and for 10 months I worked so many hours I didn't have time to pee regularly let alone eat regularly. I annihilated what was left of my health, working from bed until I fell asleep on my laptop around 3-4 am, woke up and continued around 7am, seven days a week for six months. A few less hours a week 6 days a week for another four months. My best friend yelled at me more than once that a cocaine habit would have been less destructive to my life and health, my kid all but flunked out of school while I obviously wasn't looking closely enough, my web coding projects fell to pieces, my friends huffed off telling me when I felt like being a friend again to get in touch, since I hadn't answered an email or called in months -- in short, it ruined "the rest" of every area of my life that the health-crash following from my eating plan 'diet success' hadn't already covered.

Once I finally had some hours back in my life -- and a lot less active web projects or friends, alas -- I wanted to blog a little more. My fatigue was even worse by then, by far. But I didn't have much to say about food that wasn't either depressing or confused. And that's not the kind of stuff I want to share.

I would like to have shared some of the stuff I was reading about a given nutrient or DIY-health idea. But with a blog called "The Divine Low-Carb" it seemed ridiculous to be blogging here if I didn't have anything to say about low-carb. 

By the time I finally started reading the blogs I had before in the LC/Paleo world (both back "when I had hope" and was blogging sometimes, and before the Google Reader debacle where I lost all my RSS feeds), I realized I was right in line with lots of other formerly VLC people who'd had similar results. All the things I thought were only about me turned out to be embarrassingly predictable.

Still, I suspect it is as much about the accumulated nutritional status and integrity of the body when someone takes VLC on, than the eating approach itself, that leads to whatever end result someone has.

None of us have a clear idea how healthy our organs are, or how nutrient replete we are with everything down to the spectrum of amino acids. It's a black-box situation.

I suspect we are all on a long road to understanding what works vs. doesn't for our bodies, and even what does work or doesn't at one point may change later.

I Missed Congeniality

In the last couple years in particular, I have learned something important from folks in lowcarb forums. I forgot how much I missed them when not visiting those worlds.

Lowcarb is the most awesome community of good people on the internet. I've been on the 'net since 1993, and I've been part of many and owned several forums, and I'm telling you from a solid base of experience that most the people in the low-carb world are just inexplicably really nice people.  

Especially compared to the internet at large.  Whatever else that eating plan is doing for the world, it is at the least a great contribution to a sense of community.

And guess what? It turns out, they don't care if me or others are still eating lowcarb or not. They actually learn to like people for being people -- imagine that!

A lot of the people in the "low-carb" forums I lurk in or post in are not even LC at all. Some are paleo, some are even Weight Watchers or vegetarians or whatever.

Because once people get to know each other, the detail of whether someone else might be eating honey becomes irrelevant. It doesn't have to be religious dogma by which all others are judged.

Carbism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be eating a potato.

Many people I know have "cycled through" nearly every diet book and approach there is. Hell it's their body anyway, not mine, so who cares, sheesh. Right?

That's the way it should be in every food community. It's not, I know. And maybe there are corners of LC where it's not, also. But in the main forums I visit (dominantly Active Lowcarbers [for my journal] and Lowcarb Friends [where I'm mostly a lurker]), that's mostly the way it is.

The people there are just Really. Damn. Nice.


Now that I am "accelerating out of the curve" and onto something a lot more like "an actual life" again, at a very low level yet the best I've had since about 2008, I've decided to take up occasional blogging again.

I had previously (a few years ago) revised this with a big caveat that it was not-a-diet-blog. But now, at some point in the next month or three, I'm going to rename this blog something else, as soon as I think of what. That will change the address too, alas, but with a bunch of fancy footwork I think I can work it out.

Suggestions for a new name welcome. I don't want it to be about food or nutrition solely, I just want it to include that, along with anything interesting to me. Maybe I should just make it my name. That seems dull!

Lions and Tigers and Bears

So just lately, I've been reading so much about the "gut biome" that my eyeballs keep falling out.

I'm excited for the simple reason that this falls into the crack of what I have not yet tried. 

So, it's got enormous "potential."

My growing "food intolerances" suggest this may be critically important. I've heard some people say they actually resolved their food intolerances by repairing their gut biome. Literally that the things that used to give them major 'gluten-ing' symptoms now don't. That's stunning! Wow, if that's true, that's amazing.

It turns out our entire body especially gut is filled with teeming hordes of bacteria who are living like whole forests and jungles of creatures, or whole cities and planets of life. An entire sub-cosmic ecosystem.

Wars of hand to hand combat and devious intrigue are going on in our guts all the time, with lives that cover the space of minutes or an hour in our timescale, and we don't even notice.

Our gut environment is affected by food and even stress. I bet it functions like the mysterious will of the Far Being Retzglaran inside: Luck, synchronicity (and the inexplicable Will of the Divine) to the life within.

I find it kind of amazing. We have a whole universe of creatures -- inside our intestines!

And sheep in our eyebrows. Right! :-)


Friday, November 2

Teenage IF and Nothing Left to Lose

Insanity is relative.

Insanity is MY relatives. Let's talk about the teen.

Ry is 16 years old now. She is amazing, awesome, beautiful, and also miserably infuriating, and capable of making me want to rage, weep, despair, and implode with love, within any 15 minute time-span.

My parenting sucks. I need to work on being much more disciplined with her; she is horribly inconsiderate of me in so many ways, that 'entitlement psychology' that drives me mad.

A lot of it really IS 'energy' issues on my part.  When you barely have the energy to get up and pee, never mind take a shower or drive to the store, then having the energy to fight with your teenager (and constantly get up and stalk them to make sure they do stuff and nag them for the 1.2 billion things they screw up or half-ass do) is easier said than done. But, I know it is what it is. My not feeling particularly up to it most of the time does not excuse me from being responsible for it.

Sometimes I get so angry and everything about her behavior just seems so wrong. One day, in the middle of ranting at her about something I can't even recall, I remembered the lyrics to a Linkin Park song I like -- archetypal teenage angst. The lyrics, made succinct here:

Tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
And every second I waste is more than I can take
Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow
And I know I may end up failing too
But I know you were just like me
With someone disappointed in you
I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you
-- 'Numb' by Linkin Park 

And I realized that what I really wanted to do was shake her while yelling, "Be more like ME dammit!"

At that point, I realized the black humor of it all.

Teenage Fat and Self Esteem

She has fought obesity, eventually to morbid obesity. I can't take back the past and my own ignorance and thinking that a lot of stuff was "not a big deal," and thinking that my inability to lose weight in the areas that turn out to define 'Lipoedema' and my inability to handle carbs without weight gain was unique to me. Like I was some alien circus creature and surely "everyone else" wasn't that way. After all, I was surrounded by people who ate 10x worse than I did and they were normal, or at least much smaller. So much for that logic. Some of them are now huge.

I didn't get fat until my early 20s. I had a little chub that hit hard and fast at 13, but it fell off me when I hit 15, 'baby fat' they called it. And she seemed to have more her father's body shape and coloring than mine. So I never expected it of her. By the time it was overwhelmingly obvious that something had gone wildly wrong in her metabolism, she was a pre-teen and the damage was done.

Our house was already mostly low-carb and mostly gluten-free by then. At that point it was more a matter of  wanting to support her and let food focus be her own decision. Wanting to NOT be like mothers of my friends, who told me that their own mom's response to their weight when young was far more horrifying than the weight itself. I told her everything I could about low-carb but how too much of that for me had been an issue so maybe it should be moderated; about emphasis on fresh foods, good fats like coconut oil, and lifting weights. Basically, the things I was reading about at any given time.

That doesn't mean that she has been able to do something successfully before now. Or be willing to do something even 'with me', even when I was willing just for the sake of helping her. It has to come from her, I have learned that the hard way.

To say that the effects of fat on her self esteem are radical is an understatement.

It has been hard for me to understand. By comparison, I was a fairly confident, slightly intellectual, barely-starting martial arts enthusiast, a manager in my workplaces from the time I began working, and a performing artist since I was a child. It turns out I am more an introvert than I realized (when I got to know myself, my psych rating changed from ENTJ to INTP/J). But she is none of that.

She really is nothing like me in many ways.

When I was around 24 and suddenly the social world of strangers began treating me like some especially gross gum on the bottom of their shoe, I was at first perplexed (how could anybody not know that I was cool?), and then enraged (how could they have the gall to look down on me?) and then mortified (if I stand behind the column in this shopping mall for another 10 minutes, those women I used to know in high school will leave). That is to say... I dealt with it poorly.

But, once I got over nearly putting a bullet in my head about it, I was ok. I just focused on work. That's what dad said he did when his (now on #5) marriages went to hell. If you work enough, you don't have time to focus on, think about, anything else. And everyone you are around defines you primarily by your work, not by your weight, at least to some degree. So I became a workaholic.

I'm working normal hours now. Probably temporary. But I'm trying to focus on fiction writing which 'feeds my soul' in some fashion, in my personal time. Still, it's true I'm affected by my weight, psychologically and socially, but except in rare moments of angst, it's more in the background for me.

Not for her. It is up front and center for her.

I didn't deal with fat nearly as poorly as she did, in her own way, though. She got it when self-esteem was still developing. Fat has had an emotional and psychological impact on her that it never had on me, because I had long grown past formative years (including response from boys) when it arrived.

She claims shyness, and "a degree of social anxiety." I don't know what to believe, since the latter often seems to overlap with her not wanting to go anywhere or do anything and seems like a lazy-excuse. All I know is that she has been seriously harmed up by the situation, via more than just her figure.

Teenage Self-Imposed Dieting, Exercising, Intermittent Fasting

On her own, since she is in that "never comes out of her room" phase, she has shifted to a 'fairly low-carb' eating plan on her own, lifts weights, and works hard on practicing IF, or Intermittent Fasting.

Of course, she is 16. She is an artist (impressively so), which to my Virgo x4 logical mind appears to translate in our lives as "never does anything properly, won't study anything thoroughly, makes a mess of every environment, and is the laziest human alive."  I think work and study are The Answer(tm). Clearly, she doesn't. So, getting her to "do these things right" and "truly understand them" is a lost cause.

She does "something" and she's not particularly consistent and she's not particularly severe about it.

But, I'm one of those people who was consistent and severe and ended up with seemingly new problems thanks to 'overdoing' VLC and 'underdoing' rich-nutrition, I suspect. So, it's possible that her doing it "mostly" and screwing it up "to a degree and sometimes" is actually the far-healthier approach!

  1. She eats lowish carb. Except when she doesn't. Mostly she tries to keep her carbs to vegetables, legumes, and rarely fruits, and what comes in certain dairy.
  2. She eats high fat. That is to say she eats to satiation, and is directly responsible for increasing stock prices in the Daisy Dairy company for their cottage cheese and sour cream products.
  3. She eats meat as the base of any meal.  
  4. She tries to eat once a day, as much as she can, until she is totally full. She may blow it and have a protein shake or something else very LC in the middle of that sometimes. Once a week, she tries to fast for 30 hours instead of 24.
  5. When she can gather up the gumption, she does the lifts I have insisted are the foundation of fitness: we don't have a bench and she's using only dumbbells, so: deadlifts, squats, arnold press, and then some messing-around things (e.g. side bends, shoulder shrugs, calf raises). 

At least, she tells me she is doing this, and that this is why my weights are not in the living room where I want them to be. Since she is holed up in her room like a train robber evading the posse, I will have to take her word on it.

She has lost from around 283# to 240#. (She is 5'6".) She's excited about that, but it's been a bit slow going, probably because she probably has too many calories when lowcarb, and too many carbs when normal on calories, and she is likely seldom if ever truly ketogenic, due to not retaining the <35g carbs daily for long enough to get there more than the tiny dip during sleep or something.

Still, it is a very visible improvement all over her body, and she's so hopeful. The more I read about how weight regain is nearly inevitable and so on, the more when I think of her I feel an incredible rage. I want her to have a life and be proud of herself and feel good. She is young. Surely if there is hope for anybody truly losing it and being able to keep it off, it ought to be her.

Food and Stuff

I had cans of white meat chicken that I store for emergencies, quick protein and kitty treat. Now I can't keep the stuff. She's discovered if she drains it, and fries it with spices, it becomes a diced/flaked chicken she can mix with lots of other things, eat plain, put in salads, whatever. It's surprisingly good.

It's this stuff. At amazon if you buy the 10oz can, 12pk, on subscribe with prime, it's basically the same price as Super Walmart. Except they deliver it to your door.

Initially I thought, I'm not fond of this as her primary food, since I am prejudiced against canned food, and it's expensive as hell for me as a 'primary' food, and surely fresh chicken is better. But she doesn't want to cook quite that much if she doesn't have to. So she's living on canned chicken, ground (organic) turkey burger, and (factory) chuck-burger, along with enough 'soft-dairy' for a Vermont advertising model.

She's fond of the Greek seasoning I get her from Penzey's, and herbed crumbled feta cheese. She likes basic italian seasonings, and Montreal steak seasoning.  She still doesn't like eggs, but she doesn't mind them "in" things. She uses canned diced green chilis, and sliced black olives, both in large quantity. And shredded mild cheddar cheese... and she never met anything that cream cheese didn't make better. Sometimes turkey pastrami sliced at the grocer deli. She's getting more courageous experimenting with spices.

She drinks only water, since she says she can guarantee a facial zit for every few drinks of any soda, almost predictably. She eats salads with ranch dressing sometimes. That's about all I can think to say about her eating since I don't actually SEE most of it. I have to work 9-10 hours a day, and sleep, and some computer stuff, which means the only time I might actually be sharing her life in the early evening, she is usually locked away in her room, playing WoW or SIMS or drawing.

But it's working for her...

She's losing weight. She's measurably smaller. She feels optimistic about it.

And if she does every individual thing not so well to begin with, and blows it entirely off and on, well it might be that this actually does her more help than harm in the end.

Because what she's doing is working. She had almost given up hope. She felt desperate and demoralized. She felt like she had nothing left to lose. Now she feels better.

I consider this a great thing.