Thursday, June 24, 2010

Apostrophe, part 2

I made a comment to someone at lunch today that I think I've figured out the real goal of professors in graduate school: to fill your brain with so much information all at once that you do a core dump and forget everything you ever thought you knew. :-) I know that's not -really- the goal, but it sure does seem that way sometimes.

I'm working on getting my rhythm established so that I can get everything done that I need to get done and not go completely, quietly, irretreivably insane in the process. The major problem with summer classes is that we have a full month less in which to complete a not very truncated set of assignments than we'll have in the full semester. I don't know about any other University, but here we have a 10-week full session summer semester and 14-week fall and spring semesters. Thankfully I have my laptop now, so I can tuck in at the library and write as much as I need to with books piled all around me. In fact, that's the plan for tomorrow and for Monday and Tuesday next week so that I can corral raw data into something resembling a paper. :-) What I do this weekend will depend heavily upon how convincable my body is to get out of bed and leave the house. Of course, I don't -have- to leave the house to write.

After my class tonight, I need to see if I can find some sources for my next paper so I can get started on the research. Somehow, I doubt that my Undergrad strategy of waiting until two or three days before to do the research then writing the paper the night before it's due is going to cut it here. :-) Especially considering I have an entirely new citation style to learn... Gah.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that the stress from having so much due all at once has not had me running for the Cheez-its. Or the jelly beans, for that matter, which is an awesome thing. I think that the fact that I know I'm going to be living in a semi-perpetual state of stress for the next two years lets me plan for it in a way that I can still eat the way I should and not let the stress eat my head. It may not seem like a big thing, but usually by now I'd have completely given up and given in and just eaten an entire pie or something. As it is, a friend made the hubby a red velvet cake for his birthday and sent us home with the rest of the cake. I've had one peice of that cake. One. And I -love- red velvet cake. I'm probably getting too much caffeine, but I'll take my victories as I can and count them proudly.

One thing about it being so gorram hot is that I'm definitely getting my water in. :-)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Apostrophes and Oxygen Deprivation

If you don't know what an apostrophe is with regards to enlightenment, then you need to stop reading my blog right now and go watch "Hook" with Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams. Go! Shoo! I'll be here when you get back. :-)

Anyway, I had a bit of an apostrophe this morning. Today is the second day in a row that Knoxville has had an Orange Air Quality Action Day. That means that the air ain't fit to breathe, in the vernacular. It also means that pollen, ozone and fine particulates have mixed together into an airborne sludge that makes it extremely difficult for anyone with asthma, COPD, bronchitis, or any other pulmonary impairment to breathe. Hi, that would be me. While I've not been diagnosed with asthma officially except as exercise induced asthma, I can usually feel an Orange Alert day coming about two days before... definitely the day before. Needless to say, breathing this week has been, uh, interesting. Yeah, we'll go with "interesting". It feels like I'd have an easier time if I'd just go ahead and grow gills. :-) Because of the heat, humidity and now the poor air quality, I'm not getting even my 20 minutes. :-/ So... I'm pondering how to do that without keeling over because even indoors my breathing gets labored. I don't even want to contemplate what a Red Alert or higher would feel like, and I pray I never have to.

Anyway, the apostrophe comes in when I realized this morning that even that meager 20 minutes was helping me stay sane with regards to my food choices. I've noticed that my choices aren't as good as they are when I'm walking even 20 minutes a day. So, yeah, I really need to find a way to get that movement in. I'm really not sure when, though. I've pondered going and walking upstairs in the stacks for 20 minutes and just ignore anyone who might think that's weird. :-) I've also pondered swimming in our complex's pool after my classes are over on Monday and Thursday, even though that means not getting in the pool until after 9PM. At least I wouldn't have to worry about sunburn, right? :-) I'm considering going to the YMCA on Tuesdays and Fridays before I go to the Library. I need to see what the hours are for the downtown library... I could maybe go there for an hour or two of studying. I believe they have Wi-Fi there... even if they don't, I could use the time to peruse print resources. I'll ponder and get my act together for next week... or maybe even for Friday. I'll look up the library's hours and see what I can do. That way, I can go to the gym a couple of days a week at least. In the Fall, I'll be able to add Monday and Thursday to the mix because my classes are Wednesday AM and Saturday AM. That'll work. M, T, R, F at the gym, then to the library. Which library will depend on the hours of each. :-) Four days a week at the gym -should- be enough, I'd think. For the rest of the summer, though, I'll have to figure out what I'm doing for the days I don't go to the gym. I need to have that built-in way of making better food choices. I think that, for right now, starting today, I'll go up and walk in the stacks. It's a bit warm and stuffy up there, but at least it's cooler than it is outside. :-)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday, How I do Love Thee! How I do Loathe Thee!

Now that I've started Graduate School and am taking classes during the truncated summer session (10 rather than 14 weeks), I am of two minds about Fridays. On the one hand, I love the fact that it's Friday because that means that I don't have to be up at the ass-crack of dawn in the morning to be at work. On the other hand, Friday means the end of the week, which means one less week in which to get done all the projects we need to get done. It's kind of a weird paradox, and I might come to grips with it about the time that I graduate. :-)

In class last night, my professor extended the deadline on the project that was due next week. I am glad about that. It's not like I needed the full week that he extended it... just another day or so should be fine. As he put it, though, extending the deadline on this project is sort of like "robbing Peter to pay Paul" because concentrating longer on this project takes time away from the bigger project due in a few weeks. I'm sort of concentrating on both, so it's not too bad for me. The project I'm currently the most concerned about is the assignement that's due on Monday. It's not a terribly long assignment, but it has caused me to totally re-think the idea of "Reference" in a library setting, and paradigm shifts usually take a bit of getting used to.

As an Undergrad at the same University I'm now attending as a Grad student, Reference was a totally different beast than it is now. To put a scope on this, I graduated with my BA in 1995, a mere 15 years ago. In that time, information technology has exploded and so much is done online now - including my classes - that would have been considered practically science fiction when I graduated in 1995. When I was in college from 1991-1995, HTML was new and exciting and always hand-coded. None of this Frontpage frou-frou nonsense. ;-) You didn't find graphical internet browsers; text-based browers like LYNX were the standard. I remember looking at the internet via Netscape in 1995 and was amazed, even if the images weren't the near-photographic quality they are now. If you wanted to find a journal article via an online search, you used something called InfoTrac, which was a pain in the butt to use and navigate. Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature would usually get you to your information a LOT faster and more easily. 20 years ago, Librarians were worried that TELNET Gopher would make them obselete, now it's Google. Getting back to my original point, the Reference Desk - which used to be in the Reference Service area in the mid-1990's when I was there - is now the "Research Assistance" desk housed within the Commons area. I wager that most of the reference questions they get are either via text chat/text message or e-mail. The assignment due Monday required me to observe the "Reference Desk" and report my findings. I observed this desk for an hour and a half, and there was only 1 in-person reference query. If that's not the changing face of libraries, I don't know what is.

This stroll down amnesia lane got me thinking... if I've noticed these changes in technology having taken place in the last 15-20 years, I have to wonder what it's like to live inside the mind of my Great Aunt who has lived from steam engines to space exploration.

I suppose that it's the height of irony that I'm having a discussion about the changes in information technology via a blog. Such is life.

Update on Yesterday's Post

The friend I mentioned in yesterday's post passed yesterday afternoon. I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feeling Very Conflicted

I found out a couple of days ago that a friend (well, in the sense that a I know her pretty well and she's more of an acquaintance) had a stroke. Her husband came home after a day out with his son to find her unconscious and in a pool of blood from where she hit her head. She's not regained consciousness and the MRI shows that the damage was massive. She's been moved to Hospice where they're letting nature take it's course.

I should feel bad about this, right?

That's why I'm feeling conflicted: because I don't. Not really. I feel badly for her family, with whom I am much closer. I feel badly for her actual friends, with whom I am much closer.

I do feel badly for her because it seems like she's been trying to die for years. I hope now that she seems to be getting her wish that it's a peaceful passing, and I am praying to that end.

I do know that seeing her long, downhill slide has helped me to realize that I'm still young enough to reverse a lot of the damage I've done to myself and my health over the years. I hope that I, too, can be an example to people... just not in the same way she is.

To that end, I walked today for 20 minutes in the heat and humidity. I need to get a bathing suit so I can start swimming, too... in my copious free time. ;-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What was I thinking? :-)

I'm not seriously doubting my decision to graduate school, but I have to question my sanity sometimes trying to do it and work full time. In any case, I'm caught up with all my reading and am trying to stay a little ahead (easier said than done, but I'm trying). I have two projects due next week, so I'm trying to get them done AND keep up with the reading. I think I'm OK and I'm really liking my classes.

So, how is going to graduate school and working full time interfering with my wellness program? Funnily enough, it's not. In fact, I think I'm actually benefitting from it in that regard. I'm walking home from the library, which is about 40 minutes, 2X/week, and I've been helping Circulation get books shelved. Since my classes are online and I've been getting online @ home, I've been thinking about setting my laptop to the side and using the pedaler when I don't actually have to talk. So far, I'm not stress eating, which is a novel concept, but I'm excited to recognize that I may be stressed out, but I'm not turning to food to salve it. This is a GOOD thing.

I go see the psychologist on 07/01 and 07/06. I had to change my appointments due to financial constraints and because my evening shift day changed. I go back to see my PCP on 07/07 so we can see how much progress I've made, if any. I've not lost a LOT according to my home scale, but I'll be happy with even 2 pounds since my last visit. I would, of course, be much happier with 5 or 6 pounds, but I'll take the downward trend over the upward trend, any day. :-)

I hope all are well! TTFN.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Holy Crazy Week, Batman!

I have had quite an intersting week. But, first, a report on the buffet. I think I did OK. I only went twice; once for food, and once for fruit for dessert. The first trip, I concentrated on non-fried food and I got tastes of many of my favorite dishes. The only thing breaded I got was coconut chicken, which is one of my faves. I ate slowly and savored the tastes of the food, which helped me realize that I didn't need more than what I got; I was plenty full.

Okay, my interesting week.

I came back from my lunch break on Monday to two voice mail messages, one on my cell phone and one on my work phone. They were both from my SIS advisor asking me to call him right away. As I was headed immediately to the Circulation Desk, I couldn't call, but I did check my email and saw that he'd sent me an email, as well. I responded to that email telling him what time I was done at the Desk and asked if that would be a good time to call. He must've been waiting for some kind of response from me because I got an almost immediate response saying that would be fine and the he would be waiting for my call. Of course the hour I spent at the Desk had my mind whirring on what he might want to talk to me about. Honestly, my first, fearful thought was that they'd changed their mind and didn't really want me in the Program. :-/

So, I called Dr. M when I got back to my office. He told me that someone who'd been awarded the ITRL (Information Technology in Rural Libraries) scholarship had to withdraw from the program citing personal reasons. He asked me if I were still interested in the program, as I was the first person on the waiting list. I told him that I was and accepted the scholarship over the phone. I then had the task of hurrying up and getting ducks in a row and my first class was Monday night. Unfortunately, UT classes actually began last Thursday, so I'm a week behind in one of my classes, but I'm diligently working to get caught up. There is a -serious- amount of reading, but it's at least interesting (to me) reading. Thankfully, the DE courses are recorded, so I was able to listen to the lecture from last week and can go into tonight's class not as far behind as I might've been otherwise.

When I said that this was my year, I do believe that the 'Verse was listening! My posts might prove a bit more erratic, but I am going to attempt to keep up with this blog.

Wish me luck!

Friday, June 04, 2010

TGIF... sort of.

I am really glad it's Friday, don't get me wrong. Why is it that four-day weeks always seem to be about 10 days long? Probably because we try to cram five days worth of work into four days. Anyway...

I'm cooking along with the mental work that I think is needed to get through this process and be successful on the other side. I do hope that the changes I'm making are lasting, because I kinda like the person I'm becoming. As I said in my last post, I'm nervous about the meeting with the psychologist. But something is happening tomorrow that I'm even MORE nervous about, if you can believe it.

A trip to the Chinese buffet.

I'm going out of town and the folks I'm going with have decided that's where they want to eat. One of my friends is a dialysis patient with a limited appetite, so when he decides he thinks he can eat something, that's where we go. I do try to make the best choices from what is available, but I've not tested myself at a buffet yet. *gulp* I'm trying to decide if I want to wait for the full test until my new habits are better ingrained and see if they have a menu I can order from or if I should just jump into the deep end and go for one trip and avoid the fried stuff and mounds of rice. I suppose I'll make my decision upon walking in the front door and it may depend upon how much the buffet is and how much an entree is. For once in my life, though, I'm more concerned about the cost of a buffet to my eating/mental decluttering process than what it might cost financially.

But, if ordering off the menu is a lot cheaper, I will probably go that route and leave more left over for the used book store. :-)

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The 6-Month Medically Supervised Diet Begins

I have re-set my weightloss ticker (look to your left) to show my starting weight for the 6-month medically supervised diet, which began today with a visit to my internist. Have I mentioned lately how much I adore my doctor? No? Well, I think Blogger puts a limit on my posts, so I probably don't have room here. Suffice it to say that I am extremely fortunate that my doctor is also a Healer. Do you have any idea how rare that is? Believe me. It is. I don't know if anyone out there remembers Richard Simmons' "Deal a Meal" but the first doctor I had as a newly insured person seemed to follow that approach. In his mind, he'd put my characteristics on cards: I'm overweight, I'm a woman, I'm (well was then) under 30, et cetera. Then, he'd just pluck one at random and that's what he'd hang whatever it was I'd come to see him on. Sometimes it was a weird combo and I wondered how he could even come to that conclusion. For example, did you know that more women than men suffer from plantar faciitis? You didn't? Me either. Okay, really we do, but that's not the point. I'm not a high heels wearing fashionista so blaming my plantar faciitis just on the fact that I have two X chromosomes is just silly, don't you think. Needless to say, just about any doctor would've seemed heaven-sent after that guy.

I think I'm edging a bit far afield here...

So, I met with the doc and he seems to think I have a decently well-thought out approach to this. He said we'll see how I'm doing when I come back to see him in a month and if it's working, we won't try to fix it. If it's not, then we'll tinker. I did find out two good things today. Thing 1: he'd already sent my surgeon's office a letter of medical necessity so that's one more check mark. Thing 2: my anti-depressant is one that has been shown NOT to cause ulcers, so I should be OK with taking it post-op. While I do hope that my increasing wellness of body AND mind will assist me in going off of all my medications, knowing that I can still take it if I need to is comforting to me.

Next week is my first appointment with the psychologist. Expect nervous rambling about that for the next few posts, especially as we get closer. I've never been to a psychologist, so I am a bit anxious. I think that I'm afraid that he'll tell me that I can't have the surgery for some reason. I know that thought is rooted in fear, but I can't help it. Maybe I need to get on the message boards and see what I can see about that.


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I'm so proud... of myself!

I was hoping for a proud-of-me moment. I didn't know when it would come... how soon... in what form... how I would celebrate it. In some vernacular, these are called NSVs or non-scale victories. They are the best ways to measure your success when you are in this for the long haul, and not just to look great during swimsuit season. Sometimes, these come in the form of someone noticing for the first time that you are losing weight. Sometimes, it's the fact that you can no longer shop in the "big girl" section. Sometimes it comes when you are facing your food addictions down both barrels and you say to the food "hey, sissy, is that all you've got?" That's what my victory, what my proud-of-me moment is all about.

Yesterday, I made the conscious decision to finish off the remains of a package of Twizzlers (hereafter known as ropes of HFCS) so they wouldn't be in the house anymore. I planned for it in my food budget, so I committed the crime with complete malice of forethought, but I plead guilty to a minor offense, your Honor. I also had my planned supper and, at 9PM, I mentally flipped the "closed" sign on the kitchen. Right now, my eating cut-off time is 9PM. I'm trying to edge it closer to 8PM as we get used to not cooking so late, but right now it's 9PM.

Anyway, DH came home a bit after 10PM and offered me one of his dark chocolate Reese's cups. Anyone who knows me at all well knows that this was a recipe for disaster. Dark chocolate? Peanut butter? My idea of manna from Heaven. But you know what? I said that I appreciated the offer but that I'd already had those Twizzlers and I didn't really think I should over-do it on the sugar. Plus, it was after 9PM.

Woo frickin' hoo! That's a proud-of-me moment for the record books, I think. I actually chose not to have a Reese's cup because I'd already chosen to have the Twizzlers. Now, if I can just keep that mindset up, I may have a shot of getting the 30 pounds I need to lose before my surgery lost and then have a good liklihood of being really successful post-op.

Now I'm trying to find a Yoga class I like. I really think that is going to be the key to my losing a lot of the mental weight I'm carrying around, which can only help me lose the physical weight.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

I live!

I've been taking a self-imposed internet sabbatical which has been quite useful for me, but I will probably be back a bit more now.

Anyway, an update on the pathway to my surgery... I had my initial consult with the surgeon on 05/13/2010. He's very nice and extremely quiet. I had the feeling that he would have answered my questions for days if I'd kept asking them. The surgery we decided on, at least for now, is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. It is similar to the Lap-Band/Realize Band in that it is a restrictive form of weight loss surgery. The major difference is that with the Sleeve, the surgeon removes about 80-90% of your stomach, making it totally irreversible. It will allow me to digest just about any kind of food once I'm past the first 6 months post-op, which is good. It will also allow me to take NSAIDs if necessary. The type of surgery MIGHT change, but I doubt it. I feel pretty comfortable about it. The sleeve used to be the first step in a duoedenal switch surgery or bypass because it allowed for super morbidly obeses patients to loose over 100 pounds, thereby making them safer to operate on. In the last few years, bariatric surgeons have discovered that it is safe to do as a stand-alone procedure and that it has similar weight loss projections as bypass without the risk of vitamin deficiencies because the small bowel is not bypassed.

The same day I had my initial consult, I met with the Insurance specialist at the clinic and we got my ball rolling towards fulfilling all of the clinic's requirements and all of my insurance company's requirements. Many of them overlap, so that's good. I've felt a Divine hand guiding this process because I've already (since 05/13/2010) had the initial consult; had an EKG, Upper GI series, and lab work; gone to the pre-surgery weight loss class; gone to the emotions and overeating class; and I've got my two psychologist visits next week and the week after. So, all I have left are those visits which are already pre-authorized, gettting a letter of medical necessity from my PCP, 5 years of records from him showing that I've been morbidly obese for a long time (duh), and I have to go to a support group meeting.

One of the insurance requirements is a 6 month medically-supervised diet. I was told that my PCP can oversee that, so I'm going to let him. That way, he can be as in the loop as I can make him, which I know he likes. I start that on Thursday. I don't know if I'll have to go the full 6 months or not. We'll talk about that then, I expect. As a State employee, they can go back 2 years in my medical records. I know that my PCP and I have discussed what diet I'm doing, what exercise, et cetera. Since my doc has sent people to this clinic for surgery before, I think he'll know what sorts of records he has for me will count towards this requirement.

So, really, the only appointments I need to worry about with regards to DH's schedule are my appts with the psychologist and then the monthly visit to my PCP for the diet. It's actually been a lot less difficult getting to everything than I feared it would be. Again, that's why I feel that a Divine hand is guiding the process.