Friday, July 27, 2018

Dental Health Matters

Dental Health Matters
Why Dental Health Matters
I'm pretty sure that I've talked about my anxiety issues here, but if I haven't, I have some anxiety issues. These stem a lot from my PTSD...yesterday, I realized just how bad it's affecting me.

Due to a variety of reasons, I haven't seen a dentist for any real dental care in approximately 17 years. Over the past half a dozen years, I've started losing teeth. Still, I didn't seek out a dentist.  A lot of that has to do with having zero dental insurance and knowing that I had no way to pay for any dental work. The rest has to do with my anxiety. I had to have a lot of dental work done when I was younger and most of it wasn't pleasant. I've developed a very real anxiety when it comes to dentists.

Still, 2018 is the year about being brave so after some serious anxiety attacks, I made the appointment. Yesterday afternoon, I drove the 20 minutes to their office. I fought back tears and panic the entire drive. The hygienist was nice, but before I even got to see the dentist, I was in tears. The entire thing felt completely overwhelming. When the dentist actually came in, they sat behind my head and went over the x-rays as if I wasn't there. He poked around my mouth some, gave her some notes, and then left. I think he told me to have a nice day but I don't remember. I was too wound up by that point. I know that he never introduced himself to me or anything.

The rundown? The TL;DR?

  • My insurance will only cover: routine cleanings, extractions, fillings, and partial dentures.
  • They will not cover: root canals, bridges, crowns, or deep cleanings...or even Nitrous.
I need:
  • 5-6 extractions (most of these are broken stubs of teeth)
  • 11-12 fillings
  • Debridement
  • Normal cleaning
  • Root scaling/planing (also known as deep cleaning)
  • Antibiotics to fight an infection
  • Prescription toothpaste to help try to strengthen the remaining teeth. ($22)
  • Nitrous Oxide to help calm me down. ($23/visit)

 Everything except that last one and the toothpaste will be covered by my insurance. The deep cleaning? That one will cost about $610. $610 that I really don't have but if I don't have this procedure done, my oral health will just continue to to get worse and I risk losing more teeth.

All of this is extremely stressful and when added to my anxiety, I ended up in my car afterwards having a complete breakdown. It was bad enough that the friend who called me suggested that I contact my doctor's office to see if they would prescribe me something that I can take before I have to go in for my next appointment. I don't know how many appointments this will take...I have 2 currently scheduled and that's just the start. I'm scared spitless so I guess it's just as well that the toothpaste has the added bonus of making me drool.

As for my weight, etc? Well, I got started on Monday and did well Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday and yesterday were all about anxiety and stress so I didn't do as well. I'm trying to get back on the horse today. I made a smoothie for breakfast and took my meds and then brushed my teeth with that god awful extra minty toothpaste (I hate mint toothpaste!). My water intake is slow but it's all I'm drinking and I have hopes of getting in my 64 oz before bed tonight. I even bought a scale yesterday!

The numbers?

Starting Weight: 314.4 lbs
Current Weight: 313.8 lbs
Change in Weight: -.8 lbs

It's a lot. It's overwhelming, especially when you add it to the rest of my life, but I've started the ball rolling so now I just have to keep it going.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Changes Have to Happen

Changes Have to Happen - Welcoming Weight Loss
This sounds brave, right?
I promised all of you an update after I'd seen the doctor so I'm back! It didn't even take me two weeks! I know you're as proud of me as I am about that.

The appointment actually went really well. I intentionally set it with the nurse practitioner because she's a bit more laid back than my doctor. I guess even a couple of months ago I had my suspicions that my results this year were going to be a problem.

I went in and the first thing she touched on, of all things, was my birth control. I swear that there isn't one that doesn't have some sort of issue. After three years, I went off the depo shot because that's the limit before studies have shown bone density loss. I went onto the patch because I really do need something that's more set it and forget it. It turns out that there's a higher chance of blood clots with it so I need to watch for swelling, redness, and warmth in my legs. Really, a girl cannot win with these things.

After that, she touched on my cholesterol levels. While they've always been high, they jumped about 50 point in this past year. That's not really good. We discussed the idea of putting me on meds while I worked on the diet side, but the risk calculator didn't put me at a high enough risk that she felt it was worth it.

I talked to her about how I'd already started making small not buying chips or cookies anymore and making soda a treat and not a regular thing. She seemed impressed that I'd already started working on things. I also talked to her about how I'd lost weight in the past (Does anyone remember my Mamavation days?) and how I'd done it. We came to the conclusion that accountability seems to really work for me. She suggested getting involved in something like Diet Bet, but I don't really have the extra funds available right now. I really appreciated how she talked about how she'd done it with her sister over the winter. I never felt lectured which was such a relief.

I got through my pap smear, talked to her about how I think my allergies are affecting my one eye (and got something to try out for a couple of weeks to see if it helps), and came away with a reminder to schedule my mammogram and they're going to work on finding a surgeon that accepts my insurance (another issue for another post).

So, to recap. No leukemia. No liver failure. I'm not dying but I do have to make some diet and life changes.

The other day, I talked about some of the first steps in this process. Today, those steps seem so much more important because two people that I've known through my time in the comics industry have died in the past two days. Both of them had weight issues and while I don't know if those issues played a role in their deaths, I know that they probably didn't help.

I'm taking today to work on a meal plan for this coming week and to make a list of tools that I'm going to need to help. I know for sure that I need a new scale. My old one broke ages ago and while I have no intention of becoming obsessive about weighing in, I do need to do it about once a week to mark my progress. I'm also going to need a few things in the kitchen.

Remember how I mentioned accountability earlier? One of my friends and I have started a support group on Facebook. It's going to be a place where we can support each other, share tips, share recipes, and ask questions. It's all about working together for all of us to get healthier. If you'd like to join, you can find it at Welcoming Weight Loss. I'm also going to work on posting here more often and at the bottom of the posts, bringing back:

Previous Weight:
Current Weight:
Change in Weight:
Average Water Consumption:

It's going to take a while to build these habits, but every journey starts with a single step...or blog post.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Health Update

Health Update - Self-Diagnosis
Self-Diagnosis Can Be Scary
I can't believe that it's been an entire month since I posted here! I have no excuses, just life. Still, for those of you who do follow along at home and for my own sanity, I wanted to post an update.

Last week, I went and had my yearly blood work done. Well, I went, they stabbed me and took 3 vials of blood and then I went and had my tattoo worked on while they worked on my blood.

Today, I saw that the lab results were up on my patient portal and being one who doesn't like to be surprised at the doctor's office, I took a look. Really, I'm not sure if this is a good habit or a bad habit. After all, with me, something is always wrong with the results. Usually, it's my cholesterol. It's something that I've had a problem with since I was in my 20s.

Today? There was a whole slew of things and, of course, I had to go look them up to see what they mean. Since I figure no one should ever freak out alone, I'm going to break them down for you and tell you the worst possible meaning...Ready?

CBC Test

Gran # - 9.4 (normal: 2.0-8.1)
Red Cell Distribution Width - 14.4 (normal:11.5-14)

White Blood Count - 13.9 (normal: 4.8-10.8)

  • Gran # stands for granulocytes. According to one website, "Granulocytosis occurs when there are too many granulocytes in the blood. It’s a condition that’s closely related to chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and other bone marrow disorders.

Granulocytes are white blood cells that have small granules or particles. These granules contain numerous proteins that are responsible for helping the immune system fight off viruses and bacteria. Neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils are three types of granulocytes."

Leukemia and one marrow disorders, you say? Oh well now...that's nothing to panic over.

  • Red Cell Distribution Width ...I didn't even know that this was thing until today. Of course, research was needed and I found this gem:

"High RDW and normal MCV. This suggests a deficiency of iron, B-12, or folate. It may also indicate chronic liver disease."

Woot! Leukemia and chronic liver disease! I'm on a roll here!

  • Of course, we know that a high WBC means most likely there's an infection of some sort...I'd say that leukemia and chronic liver disease may fall under this....

In all seriousness, if I didn't know that it's most likely my Glucose levels being borderline diabetic causing not only these but my Albumin and Globulin levels to be off, I'd probably be completely panicking by now. Granted, the WBC does throw me a bit, but I suspect that it's nothing more serious than the ongoing allergy issues that I have every summer. 

So, odds are that I don't have a) liver failure b) leukemia or the popular WebMD conclusion c) cancer.

Instead, what I have is a body that is screaming out for healthier foods, more water and some exercise. On some levels, that's almost as scary to me because it seems like this huge thing...I mean, realistically, I need to lose around 150 pounds and I no desire or ability to go through surgery to do so. 

My insurance won't cover anything like a nutritionist or a gym membership. So, this is all me. I have to do this. If someone is going to save me, it has to be me. No pressure, right? Okay, only all the pressure. Yep...all the pressure and I'm feeling it tonight. 

So, what's a girl to do who is freaking out a tiny bit and working their way into a panic attack? She takes a few deep breathes and then together with all of you, she starts making a plan....

I'd already started making a few baby steps towards this.  I've stopped buying any chips or cookies. I haven't really bought any soda, either. There are all three in the house (well, maybe not on the cookies. I'm not actually sure) and I'm not just going to pitch them into the trash. I will be rationing them, however. I actually haven't had any soda in about a month. 

Does that mean I've switched to all water? No, I'm afraid that it doesn't. I've switched to pink lemonade and flavored bottled teas. Like I said, baby steps. From now on, I'm going to start filling my travel mug up with three mugs of water before I have anything else. I'm not cutting it out of my life, but I am cutting back on it. 

My kitchen is an utter tip so I need to work on getting that back into a functioning space. I've already started slowly emptying the fridge of anything that nobody is ever going to eat. This should make room for healthier choices and things that I actually want to eat. 

Meal planning is going to be a big one. I recently added a meal playing layout to my bullet journal so that will help, I think. If I can plan ahead, it will mean less frozen dinners tossed into the microwave. I really need to get away from the processed foods that have been my life since my last major bout of depression.

Bullet Journal Meal Plan Layout - Katrina Roets
My Weekly Meal Plan Layout

I think one last thing to kick this off. I already have a habit tracker in my bullet journal for each month, but I think I'm going to create a second one. It's going to be completely dedicated towards getting physically healthier. I'll move my water, no soda and no candy ones to it and also add things like : ate three meals today, tracked my calories today, etc. to it. It will make my other one smaller but that's okay. I need to have a place where this is all right in front of me.

Let's summarize my current 4 step plan towards baby stepping to being healthier:
  1. More water, less sugared drinks.
  2. Sorting out the kitchen.
  3. Meal planning.
  4. Healthy Habits tracker for my bullet journal.
That really doesn't seem like much but I also know that I can't overwhelm myself or none of those numbers above will get any better. 

Now, if you've read this far, you're a total superhero. Please feel free to reach out to me with your stories or your encouragement. I'm so thankful for every single person that takes the time to read here. 

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