A very recent incident in the ER had me seriously reevaluating my life and how I go about it.
A few days ago, I awakened to find that the Bell's palsy I was 62 days into on the left (and was nearly recovered), was now on the right side as well! Back to square one! WHY????
I rushed to the ER to see if there was something inflammatory causing yet another side of my face to be paralyzed. They found my BP in the 200s over 100s, my blood sugar in the upper 200s. Those were findings I didn't expect. Now, the hard time healing the Bell's expediently made sense!
I'm not someone you would have guessed would have those issues. I am very active in my daily life physically with a great deal of housework involved and caregiving. But, as a caregiver, like many, I ignore my own health.
I do a lot of things to keep my health in order like proper supplements, high fiber, water, but I also am prone to weekend beer, ordering from Uber, and once a week McDonald's. My poundage has been high for me, in the BMI obese range actually, though being tall and muscular in general, I tend to read high on BMI.
I daydreamed about losing weight while not actually doing anything to that end. I continued the same busy lifestyle and ignoring my body thinking, "some time I'll start the diet exercise, serious regimen."
And I had ignored seeing a doctor because I still got up every morning and did what needed to get done.
I don't know anyone who has had more stress than I have in the past several years. What I do in a day and the pressure I feel to try and survive, has been more than immense. Losses, financial struggles, business changes, and being in an industry with sporadic pay, not to mention the stressors of being a caregiver and being there for everyone all the time.... "Virgo syndrome," had me running around like a house on fire. And, my sleep - don't even ask about that.
So, here I was in the ER being told I should go on Metformin for possible diabetes and lisinopril for possible hypertension, and an antiviral for the Bell's palsy, and I was overwhelmed. As I was functioning, I figured nothing was wrong. I didn't drink a lot of water or pee all the time and I didn't have hypertension headaches, so didn't think I had these issues. I felt okay.
I was, however, heartened to see that I lost 20 pounds in two months of Bell's since sense of taste is diminished and eating is awkward. It was a start toward healthy BMI range.
Somehow I felt like healthy weight loss might be the cure for everything I had done to my body. Lower salt. Greatly lower carbs. Prepare my own food so I know what's in it. Purposeful exercise, not just laundry and vacuuming.
I made a vow before it was too late for me - I cannot live the way I was living or what I have developed will kill me soon.
So, I am taking off the rest of the year from any work and I had to circle the wagons of friends to help me get through this kind of stress of not being able to complete projects and feeling bad about leaving things up in the air. It goes against my nature and I will have to rely on those around me to help me which is totally against my nature, but a humbling experience has a way of humbling your previous doctrines.
I immediately made lists of things I could eat when both sides of my mouth don't chew well, while considering salt content and sugar/carb content.
hard-boiled eggs, sardines, avocadoes, berries, boiled veggies, Boost drinks, low-sodium soups, refried beans with cheese, low-sugar yogurts, salmon, smoothies made with veggies and oats....
Ironically, with no sense of taste and difficulty chewing, I don't even feel hungry. The weight loss will be pouring off, but building muscle in the fat's place is my concern. So, with nothing on my schedule but mental and physical health, I have plenty of time to do some weight resistance with bands and some dancing or gentle elliptical walks to help me unwind and stay active..
There comes a time when all you've done through the mad 30s and 40s comes to roost in the 50s. This is the time disease process shows its establishment. It was fermenting in your earlier decades with fast food, desk work, stressful schedules, children, bosses, commitments, but now it's becoming firmly established after decades of this.
I can't encourage people enough to see a doctor in your 50s and get the routine workups. I know you may not want to hear that your lifestyle and stress levels have brought you to early disease, but reversal is so possible at this time. The 50s are the breather after the career rush and child-raising rush when you can evaluate what you need.
I need a long life and to not do what my family members did. I've watched my family die off of lifestyle-related disease.
Dad - Died at 59 of heart disease, overweight, enormous stress, travel, no exercise, poor eating.
Mom - Died at 74 of emphysema, a smoker with hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis.
Sister - Died at 50 of complications after a stomach stapling and tummy tuck for morbid obesity. Adhesions led to her intestines basically bursting and shutting down her systems.
Brother - Died at 43 of alcoholic cirrhosis.
I have a sister today suffering from lifetime smoking, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic retinopathy, and fighting against a foot infection that threatens amputation.
As the baby of the family it's up to me to look at how they did things and choose to do the good examples they emulated and avoid what was their downfall.
Life is ironic. I wanted to slow down my work pace and responsibilities and lose weight and now I'm forced to.
I believe that I'm lucky it was something as simple as Bell's palsy, an annoying but totally recoverable condition that led me to realize underlying health problems brewing beneath the surface.
For some, that warning comes in the form of a stroke or heart attack.
I may not seem like a person who would be afflicted with these things or poor health, as I am not only very vibrant and youthful, but was a serious athlete growing up with a tall, strong presence. You may look at yourself and think, "well I'm not as fat as (so-and-so) and they don't have diabetes." Comparisons are apples and oranges when it comes to people and most of that resides in the stress factor which can act like an amplifier of disease.
It is reported 100 million Americans have diabetes or are in pre-diabetes situation.
Over 100 million have high blood pressure.
If you wonder if you're at risk for metabolic syndrome - the middle-aged disease of America that leads to serious diseases -
Waist measurement (men over 40 inches and women over 35 inches)
BP of over 135/85
Fasting blood sugar (over 100)
HDL (good cholesterol) level of cholesterol less than 40
Triglycerides over 150
Stress is one of the most killer forces that degrades our physical, mental and emotional state. How you handle the stresses coming your way really shows a profile of your disease potential.
Expecting, not necessarily perfection, but mastery of everything you do, creates one level of stress. Another level of stress is feeling as if you have no control over events around you. Yet another layer of stress is rumination and worry about outcomes. There's the stress of people's expectations and opinions of you. A general negativity about your "luck" or "capabilities" can add more fuel to the fire.
Stress was definitely the biggest factor for me. It led to weight gain for the first time in my life when I was in an unhappy marriage. Going out of the marriage to live on my own for the first time and try to survive, that added another layer. Throughout, it felt like fires burned and I was putting them out with leaky buckets. I couldn't catch up to the combination of events I can't control and my desperate need to deal with stress by adding more responsibilities and stress.
I'm jumping out of the crazy hamster wheel because I need to learn something this lifetime caregiver never figured out - what Sharon needs... perhaps a walk in the woods.
When we get an over-inflated concept of ourselves by believing only we can get things done and we must be there for everyone and we should never say no - we risk the very thing we believe is holding it all together - ourselves.
If you believe you're that important to everyone, then treat yourself as if you ARE that important.
With this task ahead of me, I plan to share it on here. I will have lots of articles coming about lifestyle change, what to eat, how to exercise, and making the commitment to self.
I also plan to do a bikini shoot when I reach goal weight as I will have earned it and it will give me a sense of pride that will help me maintain all these lifestyle changes.
Maybe somewhere along the line of cutting off the umbilical with stress, I will find a sense of self being instead of self doing.
Hugs and good health, my friends over 50!
I am trying out Chaga Mushroom tea which has extremely high antioxidant count (more than 31 times blueberries). It is touted as helpful for greatly reducing inflammation, hypertension, high blood sugar, heart protection, cancer fighting, and any other inflammatory issue that needs calming.