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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Entries in Health (9)

Wednesday
May022012

My Dirty Little Secret

Today's post comes from our lady across the pond. Most of you #NoseyBitches (follow on Twitter, it's a hoot!) will know her as Anna, from Anna and The Ring. She's migrated to a fabulous new site, Far From the Wedding Crowd. Check it out for awesome weddingness. Anna's wedding journey closely mirrored my own in time frame and often times, WPMs (Wedding Planning Meltdown). Sometimes I feel like Anna is the British version of me. It makes me happy to know that somewhere, a version of me might have a lovely British accent.

Please welcome Anna and her Dirty Little Secret.

 

Once upon a time I was a happy and healthy child.

Then the chubbiness came. Nothing unusual. I was normal, albeit slightly introverted. Books fascinated me more than people yet I still loved being around people.

Then came 14 and a skiing accident. I remember there was ice and then my knee twisting in a strange direction and I guess happiness stopped.

The appetite remained sadly without the exercise. I continued to play some sports but I was never as fast or confident. I became my true introverted self.

I ballooned and have kept on ballooning since that day.

My body should be able to do amazing things. I should be able to scale rock faces and I should be able to run a marathon and I should be able to wear a dress without Spanx. (And yes I know should is a desperately dangerous word.)

It's so shameful to admit to myself that I am obese, yet to admit it to people who already see I am is even more soul destroying.

Of course I would love to be different. How I wish I were the size I was meant to be. How I wish I could wear the clothes I swoon about. Hence my shoe obsession. I shall never wear the pretty clothes. I shall never be anyone's best friend?

And yet never is a strong word. I guess all these things are actually possible but would you like to know my dirty little secret. A secret I really don't want to share but know that if I do share it might make me realise I'm an idiot. An idiot that can change her life.

Ok. deep breath.

Here's my secret.

There is a significant part of me (well of course it would be significant I have my own gravity!) which wants to stay on the large side.

There is a safety to being overweight. All of life's disappointments can explained away. People don't like me because I am fat. No-one will ever ask me to be a bridesmaid, but that's okay! It's just because I'm
hideous. Who would want to spoil their photographs with me. I hardly wanted to be in my own wedding album. I know I would judge me. I mean who really wants to eat supper sitting across from me? Boys didn't like me when I was younger because was large. Yes boys are shallow and I am happily married now but man, that hurt when I was younger. Young girls please note, sleeping around is not the root of all happiness.

Perhaps I am an intensely dislikeable person. How does one know whether they are a good egg? I think I have the capacity to be a very good friend, but how does one judge whether they are actually a good
friend? Does size preclude me from forming intense friendships? Will I always be the acquaintance? Does my weight imply I am a bad person?

My favourite quotation implies that I know the answer.

What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.”

Leo Tolstoy

 

Perhaps, deep down, I know it is me? If I remove my weighty armour I will still be the same "unpopular" person?

Life is short and yet I am consumed by such thoughts and perhaps fallacies?

Is it the height of self indulgence or is it a pervasive evil thread that is destroying my life?

Should I be brave and force myself into my trainers? Will I magically become a better person or is that decent woman already there? Could changing my shape really change my mind?

 Anna, you've already been told how fabulous this picture is, and I know you aren't a fan of it for whatever reason, but trust me when I say THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr112012

I’m Leaving My Doctor…

I had a recent check-up. You know the annual one where you feet don’t go in stirrups.

Last year I had one with the same guy. He seemed a little quirky, but not so much that I regarded him as anything but a trippy little doctor dude. I’d had the same doctor in Nashville for 6 years, so perhaps I overlooked his odd behavior because of my own nerves. We did blood work last time, and I fasted. We discussed my knees at length. My general health. He addressed my concerns as I brought them up to him. I remember feeling a bit awkward in the fact that he asked very few questions and I had to do what I felt like was “over-sharing.”

Today? Today was freakin’ banana-cakes, people. We’re talking totally crazy-pants. Granted, I got there 5 minutes late myself (I had no idea traffic would be that bad at 3:30 in the afternoon!), but then had to wait 40 minutes to see the doctor. I had just finished a rather challenging level of Angry Birds when he finally walked in.

We discussed Angry Birds for what I felt was a little too long. We talked about my knees and my back, like we did last time. He spoke of some exercises I could do to strengthen them. The same exercises he mentioned last time. He even printed them out, like last time.

I brought up checking my kidneys with some blood work since I take an anti-inflammatory on the regular. But then he dismissed what has been an annual test for me since 1998. So I pushed back for it. It made me very uncomfortable because he was treating the discussion like it was a joke. In fact, everything had a punch line. Of sorts.

I have some new freckles on my legs that concerned me.  My dad has had a ton of skin cancer thingies cut off of him, so I’m hyper-aware of any new speckles on my already freckly, sun-ruined skin. He looked at them and told me it was nothing he could cut off, though cutting them off would make him some money. From the insurance companies.

So now, you can color me creeped out.

This was supposed to be an annual physical. I remained dressed.The doctor touched both of my knees and had me bend them so he could feel the creaky joints underneath while we discussed my meniscus. He didn’t look in my eyes, my ears or my mouth. He didn’t thump on my chest, smoosh my innards around or listen to my heart beat. He didn’t ask one single question.

He refilled my anti-inflammatory, had them take some blood (aren’t I supposed to fast?) and sent me on my way.

My insurance covers the visit, but you can bet yourself some money on what I’m going to do next:

  1. Find a new doctor.
  2. Pay for another annual exam out of pocket if need be.
  3. Attempt to interview a doctor as best I can before I step foot into their office. Why should I or my insurance company pay a shitty doctor for shitty service? Who is to say I can’t interview them first? Sure, I can find stuff on the interwebs, I’m sure. But there’s nothing like making a quick phone call, right? Why should I wait for 40 minutes, have my insurance pay for that appointment (what, about $150 or so?) if I can make a quick phone call, get a vibe and possibly avoid the crap I had to put up with today? Oh, and I had to leave work early too. Race across town for the appointment and then sit in nasty crosstown traffic afterwards? No, no, no, no, no. No on all accounts.
  4. That was a long #3.

So I’m leaving my doctor. For failure to communicate. I wonder if I should send him a “Dear John” or if a silent disappearance and request for records will suffice?

Tuesday
Sep202011

Vaccinations Cause Mental Retardation!

Apparently vaccinations cause mental retardation. What? You didn’t hear?

Just for the record, here are some real things that can cause mental retardation (Source: World Health Organization)

Chromosomal disorders: Downs syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Prader Wili syndrome, Klinefelters syndrome

Single gene disorders: Inborn errors of metabolism, such as galactosemia, phenylketonuria, mucopolysaccaridoses

Hypothyroidism, Tay- Sachs disease, Neuro-cutaneous syndromes such as tuberous sclerosis, and neurofibromatosis.
Brain malformations such as genetic microcephaly, hydrocephalus and myelo-meningocele.
Other dysmorphic syndromes, such as Laurence Moon Biedl syndrome

Other conditions of genetic origin: Rubistein Tabi syndrome De Lange syndrome

Adverse material / environmental influences: Deficiencies, such as iodine deficiency and folic acid deficiency
Severe malnutrition in pregnancy
Using substances such as alcohol (maternal alcohol syndrome), nicotine, and cocaine during early pregnancy
Exposure to other harmful chemicals such as pollutants, heavy metals, abortifacients, and harmful medications such as thalidomide, phenytoin and warfarin sodium in early pregnancy.
Maternal infections such as rubella, syphillis, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus and HIV others such as excessive exposure to radiation, and Rh incompatibility.

Complications of pregnancy, Diseases in mother such as heart and kidney disease and diabetes and Placental dysfunction.

Severe prematurity, very low birth weight, birth asphyxia, Difficult and/or complicated delivery, Birth trauma

Septicemia, severe jaundice, hypoglycemia  

Brain infections such as tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, and bacterial meningitis
Head injury
Chronic lead exposure
Severe and prolonged malnutrition
Gross under-stimulation

Now, if you do a little research before you decide to shoot your kid up with a new vaccine, you might find yourself here – where you can read all about the testing and side effects for Gardasil (made by Merck, who Bachmann is saying paid into Perry’s political campaign – A WHOLE OTHER ARGUMENT for a later date). Nowhere does mental retardation fall into the side effect categories. Now, they do say that fainting can occur. If you faint, you could whack your noggin and according to the World Health Organization, head injury can cause mental retardation.

So, a possible side effect is fainting – which could lead to mental retardation – but only if you knock the hell outta yer head.  Hm. Yeah, I guess we can take that leap, can’t we? I mean, Michele Bachmann feels super-free to do so. I mean, with her VAST medical knowledge from the BA she received at Winona State University (uh, where?) – or it might have been from the law degree she got at Oral Roberts University. Maybe it was the advanced Master of Laws degree at William & Mary where she really spread her wings in the medical field? It’s really hard to pinpoint, I know.

I mean, really people. Is there anyone with any semblance of intelligence who is taking this woman for real? The gross irresponsibility of this retardation statement is astounding. This, my friends, is how urban legends, gossip and misinformation spreads like wildfire. Some woman at her Florida debate told her about her daughter suddenly being mentally retarded? From a vaccine that thousands of young women have been receiving now for several years? A vaccine that has proved to prevent certain types of cervical cancer? CANCER, Michele. CANCER! REALLY??? Can we please do a little research before we go spouting off about the crazy women who show up at your debate?

And these “innocent” little girls? Yeah, guess what Michele? They are having sex. They are giving blow jobs. They are dry humping in the backseat of their parent’s cars. I’ll bet $800 billion dollars that even YOUR 16 year-old daughter has done more than she’s told you (if she’s said anything). And guess what? You don’t even actually have to have sex to catch HPV, you know why? Because men carry it on their balls. You could just lay naked on top of someone and catch it if your little bits and pieces go touchy-touchy. And condoms don’t always help either, that is unless you know of a condom that fits over the ball sack. Now that I’d like to see.

HPV can lay dormant for years. My last OB/GYN told me she had to tell a 72 year old woman she had it. The woman had all of 2 sexual partners (slut!), both of whom were her husbands (she was widowed, twice).  The woman had children and regular pelvic check-ups her whole life (clearly, at 72!). Happily, the woman’s strain did not progress after a cervical scrape. The facts are that approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Another 6 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that at least 50% of sexually active men and women get it at some point in their lives (Source: The Center for Disease Control). I personally might go so far as to call that pandemic.

Receiving a vaccine doesn’t mean that a 12 year old girl recipient is going to go out and start screwing irresponsibly. Who in their right minds would even consider that? There’s this thing called education. It’s called parenting. It’s called opening your mouth and sharing facts about a potentially life-saving drug with pre-teen girls and boys. It’s explaining the risks we are all responsible for these days. It may require some reading. It may require some time spent in an actual conversation with your kids, your partner and yes, your spouse. *gasp*

As a non-HPV side bar? It really bums me out that the Republican party can’t produce better female candidates than Palin (what happened to all the “Just you wait for 2012!” rhetoric of 2008?) and Bachmann. It’s a sad reflection of their party and of  women in general.

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Michele Bachmann? Please stop talking.

Oh, and on a more happy note...there are still TWO MORE DAYS to enter to win the Pre-Love Melissa Sweet Gown! All ya gotta do is leave a comment! Easy-peasy!

Monday
Jul112011

I Lied to My Therapist About ‘The Skirt’

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Several years ago, I was going through a life change that landed me in a not-so-healthy state of mind. I’ve written about it all before in a post called Does My Butt Look Big in This Gown? I finally came to terms with my not-so-healthy state of mind and put myself into therapy where I worked through some binge-eating and body dysmorphia issues. It was a tough row to hoe, but I managed to get through it. I learned some lessons and how to apply them.

The binge-eating thing was actually kind of easy to get over. I knew exactly why I did it, so it was just a matter of recognizing emotions when they happened and addressing those emotions versus ignoring/placating them with food. The dysmorphia gig is still a challenge. I see things that I know aren’t really there, or aren’t as big a deal as I make them out to be. It drives The Candyman  up the wall if I start in on myself. I try not to, but it can be difficult, particularly when I'm stressed out.

I’m not the crazy work-out fiend I used to be. As a result, I’ve gotten a little…let’s say soft. Yes, soft is the word.

My weight has remained the same, but I can tell that muscle tone is gone and parts of me are bigger. For the most part, I’m okay with a few changes. However, I’ve gotten to a point where the switch flips and my mind starts in on myself. I don’t like my shape or the way I feel, both mentally or physically. I’m on dangerous ground and I know it.

Back when I was in therapy, we talked about some of the triggers and how I judged myself. One of the things I would use to measure my physical self (since weight was never was something that provoked me) was The Skirt. I bought this skirt back in 1999 or so, on sale at the now-defunct Marshall Fields on State Street in Chicago. It’s a gorgeous, Oriental-looking silk brocade by ISDA & CO. and I simply love it.  Since it’s a woven brocade it has ZERO stretch. And I mean ZERO. That skirt was my measuring tool. If I could put that skirt on and walk and sit comfortably, I was “fine.” If I couldn’t, I was not “fine.” I let that fucking skirt rule my life at times, putting it on daily to measure success and failure. When I discussed this with my therapist years ago, it was a mortifying secret. I bawled as I told her. Now I look at it simply as slightly embarrassing, but in a quirky, funny sort of way. I don’t think of it as an ugly secret any more. At the time, my therapist told me to get rid of the skirt. She told me to get rid of it when I was ready, but to get rid of it.

Um, yeah. I wore that skirt to Marie’s (of Marie +Vic’s Unfake Wedding) rehearsal dinner this past April.

And I totally told my therapist I trashed it like 5 years ago. I totally lied.

I just couldn’t let it go because I do truly love it. I just stopped using it to measure myself. Um, until last week.

I know, I know! I’m a terrible patient. I’m a terrible person. I do have an excuse though. Wanna hear it? OK, here it is: I needed something to kick me in the arse to get me back on a healthy track. Honestly, I’ve been eating like a jack-ass. I’ve been eating whatever I want, whenever I want and not caring about the consequences. This behavior has come about little by little over the last 6 months or so. Before I moved, I‘d have at least 3-4 servings of fruit and veggies a day. Now, I’m lucky if I have one. My main source of calcium?  Cheese and mayo– daily. Fiber? Meh. See where I’m going with this? I haven’t been binge eating or doing any of that to replace emotions or anything, just eating like total crap. And once you let it go a few times, it just becomes a bad habit all over again.

So you realize that I wore the skirt to Marie’s wedding – this was at the end of April. It fit, not terribly comfortably when I sat, but well enough to wear. I put this skirt on last week and nearly died. So tight I would not walk out of the house in the thing. It was only two and a half months ago that it fit! I mean, WTF have I been eating? So I sat down and figured out exactly what I had been eating: crap. High fat, low fiber crap. *Sigh*

I had to get back on track and the only way I know how to monitor what I’m eating is by journaling my food via the Weight Watchers point system. It’s always been my wake up call. Some people (myself included) claim that food journaling can be just as neurotic as other eating disorders. For me, I don’t believe that is the case and my therapist encouraged it. It puts things into perspective for me. It reminds me how important it is to drink lots of water, eat naturally grown versus over-processed foods and to get creative with my meals. That creativity thing has been a challenge too. Since we eat at home nearly every single meal now, I’ve fallen on some easy recipes that aren’t always the most healthy for us.

I started back on the journaling on Saturday and last night, we had the yummiest dinner of spiced chicken and veggies cooked on the grill with homemade, super-yum hummus (recipe from July’s issue of O Magazine). Instead of eating the whole chicken breast, I ate half, added extra veggies on my plate and had a healthy about of hummus. I was stuffed. For me, it’s all about paying attention – making conscious decisions about what to put in my mouth, which I have not been doing. After two days, I can’t tell you how much better I feel. Is that totally cliché? Probably, but fuck it. I have to do what works for me and this works. Since I’ve been down this path before, I know it will take me a few months to get back into the swing of eating healthy foods without the use of a journal. I fall off the horse, I get up and get back on. It’s just like any other bad habit – practicing the new habits and making them a learned behavior takes time. I consider it a refresher course. We'll see how it goes! Wish me luck!

So do you find yourself waxing and waning in bad habit management? How do you manage your own?

*Please note that I’m not looking for advice on weight management, diets or eating disorders. This is my own call to arms and I encourage a dialogue on how to manage habits, not a neurotic frenzy on how to lose weight (though I apologize if the post reads with that tone). I think the internet has enough of that weight loss crap, don’t you?

Friday
Apr222011

Keeping Secrets

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I’ve never been really great at keeping secrets. I can keep secrets of the surprise-party, Darth-Vader-is-Luke’s-father, the-island-on-Lost-is-actually-heaven/hell/purgatory/WHAT? variety. What I’m not good at is the big ones.

I remember in 1998 when I headed back to Virginia for my 10 year high school reunion. I spent a few days hanging out with my brother in Richmond first and we thought it would be a hoot to call my parents together. We took turns talking to the folks and I spoke with my dad first. In the course of our conversation, he accidentally said, "I’ve gotta go. I need to take my meds.”

“Uh, excuse me….WHAT medication would that be?”

And then my dad goes, “Oh shit. Nothing. No medication. Nothing here to look at. Move on. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” 1

Turns out my dad was dealing with prostate cancer and he and my mom thought it was a good idea to NOT TELL ANYONE. WHAT THE FUCK? Yeah, so he tells me all this while I’m standing right in front of my brother, my eyeballs popping and my jaw resting comfortably on my shoes. He then says, “Please don’t tell your brother.” And I’m all, “No fucking way!” and I immediately turn to my brother and say, “Dad has cancer!” and then we all freak out for a bit. In the end, my dad came away cancer-free (WHEW!) and my parents had a stern talking to about keeping important health issues to themselves.

Not long afterwards, my brother pulled a fast one on us too. Not wanting to air my family’s dirty laundry on the internet, I’ll just say that there was a secret. A pretty big one. It was emotionally embarrassing to my brother, which is why he didn’t tell us. When he finally did, all he got from us was the love and support he could have been getting all the while he was sitting on his secret. He drove himself crazy for nothing.

Recently, a very good friend of mine has been exploring, through therapy, some deep rooted emotions and behaviors surrounding the untimely death of her sister over a decade ago. There was a lot of secrecy surrounding her death and since my friend was a child at the time, a lot of information was kept from her. As an adult, she’s requesting more of that information and no one wants to share. There is a lot of emotional work she has to do in order to heal herself, as well as deal with the grief other family members have been harboring for so many years.

After writing an article for International Women’s Day, a dear friend wrote to me and told me of her date-rape and subsequent abortion. She never told her parents the truth about how she got pregnant, just that she was.

Me? I could never keep cancer to myself. I couldn’t ever keep the kind of secret my brother had to myself either. I imagine myself in my girlfriend’s shoes and I want to march right into her parent's house and demand answers about her sister. I would hope that if I had ever been raped, that I’d be able to tell my family and the cops about it. Family secrets can be huge. Family secrets can be small. Why people choose to keep certain secrets can be shame-based or fear-based.

Take a second to consider social behaviors and traits that you and/or your family might regard with contempt and/or pity, versus compassion and understanding. Here are a few to ponder:

rape   abuse   bigamy   imprisonment   "mental illness"  abortion   child neglect   being fired   fraud   divorce   betrayal   rage   crying in public   homelessness   desertion   slavery   addiction   rudeness   bigotry   dishonesty   cruelty   obesity   incest   infidelity   murder   lying   homosexuality   theft   atheism

There are a few words there that send a red flag waving in my heart and head. How about you?

I found the following info about family secrets:

Family secrets are different than unawareness of information about members and ancestors. They're conscious decisions to withhold details of a shameful, scary, or illegal event or relationship (like a crime, abortion, an affair, or desertion), a personal trait (like an addiction or perversion). Some family secrets stand alone. Others are part of an inherited family distrust-policy that says "We don't tell outsiders our family's business." *

Last year when I visited Thistle Farms, I listened to women recovering from addiction talk about the day’s topic: Secrets. There were a few statements from that discussion that resonated with me so much that I wrote them down:

“The only person I was keeping secrets from was myself.”

“I’m breaking the cycle of secrets.”

“I’m not ashamed of my past, "I’m proud of my future!”

“Freedom ain’t free.”

There is so much truth in these simple statements. To be free of the weight that a family secret can have, you have to first free yourself. Sometimes that comes with a price tag. Sharing secrets can cause long-buried emotional pain to come bubbling to the surface. Then you have to deal with that, whether it be your own secret or someone else’s.

Just like my own family, The Candyman’s family has their share of secrets too. I am privy to them because my husband trusts me with them. I remember right after we were engaged, The Candyman shared one of his family secrets with my parents. When he started to speak, I felt my heartbeat quicken. I held my breath, scared of what my parents might think. In my head, I was screaming, “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!” I was embarrassed. I was scared. I didn’t want my parents to think less of my betrothed or of me, for that matter. I didn’t want to think or talk about it. But you know what? My parents were totally cool. They asked a few pertinent questions regarding the “secret” and then without actually saying the words, offered their love and support and that was it.  After that exchange, I was still embarrassed. I was embarrassed at my own emotions. I felt ashamed of myself and the fact that I thought so little of my parents and their ability to cope and of my own acceptance of the “secret.” It was at that very moment I had absolute clarity, that Oprah AH-HA feeling, that I could and would accept all that my husband-to-be had to offer up to me, both good-to-hear and not-so-good-to-hear. To assume how someone will react to a secret, whether your own or someone else’s, encourages the fear and the shame that the owner has assigned it. 

I realize now that there are few secrets that are so dark and dangerous that they cannot stand being brought out into the open and light, where they suddenly lose the fear and shame that once surrounded them. What was once said of war is true about secrets and the decision to reveal them: "There is nothing to fear but fear itself." *

I would like to start a discussion here about family secrets. I’m not asking you to air your dirty laundry nor am I encouraging gossip (as some family secrets turn into), but to talk about the theory behind the fear, the shame, the habit of family secrets. I want to talk about the fall-out from secrets left unrevealed, how they can be detrimental to families and more importantly, to marriages. Are you keeping your own secrets from your fiancé or husband? Why? How are you and your partner dealing with adopted family secrets? Feel free to post anonymously if that gives you a particular comfort level.

 

1Not sure why the Star Wars references are peppered here today, but let’s just go with it, OK? Also, not really what my dad said, but it was something along those lines.