But I can’t ask her about it…

What I normally do when I have a question about medicine, or health, or organic chemistry for that matter, is call my younger sister.  She’s a veterinarian and a maniac for knowing anything medical, the more obscure and subtle, the better.  She’ll stay up long hours on the phone with me, answering all my questions, teaching me whatever I want to know.  She’s got a gift for teaching the complicated subtle stuff, and for seeing the connections between an odd constellation of symptoms and the cause.

I’m sure what’s going on with me is a crisis, despite the fact that the doctors are mostly unimpressed.  You know the docs, I mentioned them… the “You’re not dying. Go home” docs.

What I should do is just pick up the phone and call my veterinary sis. I should tell her about my symptoms and ask her what she thinks the problem is.  Especially since she’s had many of the same symptoms herself. She’ll know, and we can talk about what’s broken and I can make a plan.

But I can’t ask her about it because she’s already dead.

In my family the women habitually live to be a hundred. Heck, my mom is in her 80’s and just last year she took half a dozen of her tween and teen grandkids on a 4-week bust tour of the US… without their parents. So you KNOW the women in my family have got some staying power.  They run strong right up until they exit at their centennial year. Except my younger sister.  Three years ago a friend found her dead in her living room, of apparent respiratory or cardiac failure.  She was 50 when she died.

She was smart and funny and charming and a brilliant writer.  She was two years younger than me. She’s been gone for 3.  I feel like I’m five years on borrowed time.

I have her symptoms. The weight gain.  The loss of energy.  The weird heart rhythms and blood pressure. The general pain and being out of breath all the time. The sense of being definitely not ok.  What was wrong with her, what killed her, that’s what’s wrong with me. Or at least I think it is. That’s why I’m scared.

She knew she wasn’t well. Her co-workers knew. Her friends knew.  They tried to take her to the doctor, make her go, but she fought them off.  She refused to change her life, and she refused to get help.  I don’t know if she understood what was wrong, but she refused to admit to anything.  And I can’t ask her about it because, well you know why.  She’s dead.

And I’m not.  But I’m afraid I’m going to be.

I don’t know why the docs I talked to can’t hear that, why it doesn’t alarm them that my *younger* sister is dead and I am not ok.  I’m sure if I were dying in front of their eyes they’d notice, but since I’m not… Move More Eat Less. Go Home. Come back when you’re dying.

I need an education on what is going wrong, and I can’t ask the one person I know would help me find it. I’m on my own.

Alrighty then, I’m diving in.  First stop – Bacon. And why it matters. Google is my friend.

My husband’s right… I’m on a mission.

I’ll let you know what I learn as I’m learning it. Come along…

~ Zee

My sister’s blog Vet on the Edge – Life As A Vet In The 49th State [Or: Alaska: It’s Not For The Faint Of Heart, Or Anyone Lacking A Sense Of Humor And A Good Winter Coat.]

About me and her, and how we lost her.

you can read about my journey here:


Well clearly THAT’S never going to work…

Alrighty then… I guess it’s a real problem.  And I can’t go on ignoring it.
Damn it.
Fine. FINE.
I’m not admitting to being scared or anything… but this is scaring me. Clearly I am not ok.
Not that I’m admitting to anything like having a real problem here.  But I look at what the doc says and I think… That’s never going to work.
know it’s never going to work because the only part I can do something about is the food… when I move, I hurt. So I don’t move.  Well, I don’t move nearly enough, and even knowing that moving might be the key to getting better, I don’t move.

I’m a smart gal, and I’m stubborn, and I’ve fought through some pretty tough things… but this… I am defeated before I even start.  Move More ain’t happening.

Okey dokey then, I’ll start at the other end.  Eat Less.  So I’m already controlling my calories.  Not that it isn’t a struggle, but I’ve been holding them under 1500.  Well, some days it’s closer to 1800, but not often.  I log everything, track my nutrition, follow the food pyramid.
I’m hungry. Frequently.
And I have heartburn most days, several times a day. I have reflux at night. And I’m getting a large percentage of my daily calcium from Tums.

So back to the doc, and the doc says… heartburn, yeah that happens. Tums are fine. But your blood sugar is up, and you need to fix that.

Right, I say. But This Is Not Working. Please talk to me about how to manage my eating so that I can lose a few pounds and then I can move more.

Maybe he thinks I’m serious about this now, because he thinks for a minute, then says… alright, let’s talk about a plan.
He says… smaller portions (check… doing that).
He says… eat one item at a time, one cracker, one grape, one bite, and then wait before you eat the next one (ok, I can do that.)
He says… and eat less fast food (I know, but I travel a LOT.)
He says… well then, order the salad, and don’t eat all the dressing. Ok, I can do that.

But I’m Still Hungry.

The doc says… then eat bacon.

Er… What?

Bacon.  He says… fry up a pound of regular bacon, the good kind, and a pound of turkey bacon together.  Then it’ll all taste like real bacon.  Put that in the fridge and have a piece of bacon as a snack when you’re really hungry.  He says… not fake hungry, or anxious hungry, or bored hungry, but when you’re really hungry.

Seriously? Because eating bacon as a snack every day, several times a day, for weight loss? Well clearly THAT’ll never work.
So the doc says… its the fat, it makes you feel full. And if you feel full, you’ll eat less.

Right there, the heavens opened, a ray of light beamed into his office, and a chorus of angels started to sing.

Ok, well maybe that didn’t happen, but it surely should have. Because that’s pretty much the nexus. Right there. Turning point.

Ever have a moment in your life that defines a point of change? A single minute or event that makes you see your world as before- and after-?  Yeah, that.

Who’d have thought I’d have Bacon as an Epiphany Experience?

FINALLY something I think I can do.  Eat Bacon. Check! I can do that.

And the most astonishing thing happened… Bacon Actually Works.  Under 1500 calories and not hungry.
Not. Hungry.

Ho.Ly.Cow.  There is hope after all.

SOMEthing is happening there that is counter to everything I “know” about how I’m supposed to eat.
Clearly my education is wrong, or at least what I’ve taken away from everything I’ve read tells me that the Bacon Epiphany should not have worked.

Clearly I need a new education.

My husband says… uh oh, she’s on a mission.

I’ll let you know what I learn as I’m learning it.  I hope you’ll come along.

~ Zee

you can read about my journey here:

Because … what if it’s really serious?

Some days, I think it might really be.  Serious.
Other days, I think I’m fine.  But on the days I’m not fine, I worry that it might be serious.
What if it is?
What if the fact that I can’t think clearly is really an issue?  That I can’t focus? That I know my brain is not working up to par?
What if the fact that I can’t do things like run to catch a door means something is really wrong?
What if being on 1450 calories a day – carefully counted – and continuing to put on pounds means something is really, truly wrong?

So the doc says… move more, eat less.  More grains, less fat. More turkey, less beef.  Of course he does.
The doc says, your hormones are fine, you just need more exercise.
The doc says, yes of course your joints hurt, you’re over 50 and overweight.  Loose some weight and that will stop. Take some advil.
He says, your blood sugar is a little high, and your blood pressure is too – here’s the food pyramid, eat that.
The doc says, here are 4 drugs for your blood pressure, I know you said that you don’t function well on them, but the alternative is worse.

So someone holds a door for me and I say to my body … Trot up there and grab the door! … and my body won’t. Will Not. Doesn’t. It would hurt.

So I eat my “more whole grains” in a nice hearty slice of whole wheat toast… and in 5 minutes the heartburn is just killing me.

So some days my heart is skipping beats, or racing at 70% over normal and won’t slow down.  THAT’S gotta be serious, right? So I take myself down to the doc, and he says… yeah, not skipping exactly, but getting out-of-timing. Not working according to the normal Lub-Dub-Pause-Lub-Dub-Pause plan.
What I’m feeling is more like Lub-DubLub-LongPause-Dub-Pause… YIKES! Now that’s SURELY serious… but it gets a shrug from the doc. Nothing that’s too big a deal… and the high pulse rate? Yeah, not a big issue.  MIGHT mean that I’m working up to an arrhythmia problem in the future, but right now? Meh.

Still, I’m kinda freaked about it, so he sends me to the ER and they put me on the cardiac monitor… their diagnosis? You’re not dying. Meh.

But I’m not living either.  Something is wrong.

Their answer? Nothing to do.

And what about 60 extra pounds in 4 years? Yeah, move more eat less.  More chicken, less beef.  That it’s not working? That gets a shrug too.
Keep at it. Try harder.
Calories In < Calories Out.
You’re an Engineer, do the math.

Move more, eat less. Here’s the food pyramid.

But it hurts.  Everything does.
Moving hurts. Eating hurts. Thinking hurts.

Life is not supposed to hurt.

Well ok, most of my life I have hurt – knees, back, migraines, anxiety, fear… all of that going back to at least grade school.  I’ve had maybe two dozen days since I was 12 where Nothing Hurt. But still… not like this, where it keeps me from doing basic things.

Maybe it IS serious.  Something has to change, there has to be a way to turn this around.

I have a choice – Sit Down and Die – or – Fix This.

I’m choosing Fix This.

If it’s helpful to you, I hope you’ll come along.

~ Zee

you can read about my journey here: