I Already Said I’m Imbalanced So Shut Up

Gallery

I just bought a cane. A dull pink one straight from the pharmacy. If it really helps my balance issue I will special order a  cane that will have turquoise and a tiny bit of shiny silver and beautifully polished … Continue reading

PAIN 11/11/11

pain
Pain
...Hurt...

I AM convinced that menopause was the catalyst for my getting a thyroid disorder, actually an auto-immune thyroid disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Fibromyalgia which crept in….no, more like, crashed into my body right after menopause and never left. It also changed me from a happy person to a somewhat content person. I am more anxious, I have more fear. If PMS was a wading pool, menopause for me, was like a tsunami.

I had been to doctor after doctor, half of them not having a clue what was wrong with me (including my beloved internist who walked out of the examining room in frustration and left me crying inside, alone.) There was a rheumatologist who said I had “scoliosis” and that my auto-immune disease of the thyroid would leave me “wide open for other auto-immune diseases.” Thanks, really helpful and informative not to mention it scared me half to death. I had another rheumatologist who put me on cymbalta and when it did not help said she could do no more and a maniac rheumatologist who put me on various, toxic medicines that are generally given ONLY to transplant patients so that they don’t reject a new organ. He also let me stay on one particularly noxious medicine that gave me gastrointestinal problems so badly I couldn’t leave my bathroom for a month. When I called him after a month and told him what was happening, he said just “give it another month.” A month later, weak and dehydrated I had an office appointment and he said “my bad, that was my mistake.” YOU THINK?

It’s hard to remember “Before” menopause since I am convinced that menopause and fibromyalgia both robbed me of my memory. What was I saying? Why did I come up here? What did I want to remember? Frankly, its terrifying. I can remember verbatim the words spoken in my husband’s and my first fight but what I did yesterday? Not easy at all. It also robbed me of all the energy I ever had, poured it out of my body with an invisible pump and threw it in a large body of water far away from here. It could be fueling the energy of a little known country for all that I know…..

I consider myself a sick woman now, not a healthy one. My Fibromyalgia flare-ups have been so long and pronounced it’s like they are my new constant. I don’t remember when I didn’t ache in agony. Movement of every kind makes me groan out loud. I’m not asking for sympathy or even help, I am hoping for understanding. Please, just remember, I HURT all the time, whether you believe in this chronic pain disease or not. It is my unhappy life, not yours; do not judge. I don’t complain to you, so please don’t offer suggestions. If I want your opinion, truly, I will ask for it. You have NO idea what I go through so don’t even think about saying “you know how I feel.” Trust me, you don’t.

REPOST: FOR INVISIBLE ILLNESS WEEK:Thyroid Disease And Fibromyalgia With A Touch Of Menopause

Don't give up

Image by quinn.anya via Flickr

I am NOT a Doctor. I may see a lot of Doctors but in no way am I one. I don’t pretend to be one. However, I am a patient, a chronic pain patient and I believe I know a whole lot more, personally, about these subjects than some Doctors do. Sorry, but it is true. This is only what I THINK, only what I FEEL and only what I have EXPERIENCED. For those who have read earlier posts about my dealings with Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Menopause, this is different; I’ve never once put my own theories down on (computer) paper. Also, for the young woman who responded to a post saying she will check out Fibromyalgia even though her Doctor said “He didn’t believe in it”  YOU GO GIRL!

I hope this will take the five or more years of suffering that I had to go through and help someone; HELPING just one person would make me extremely happy. I mean that from my heart. I think there is a correlation with the above- mentioned diseases/changes, at least for me there was, especially with Thyroid Disease and Fibromyalgia.

I went through Menopause about five years ago, it wasn’t too bad, I had the usual symptoms but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t bare. I think that Menopause was the catalyst to all these (bad) changes in my body. After being in menopause, I went to my annual physical where my Internist did the usual blood work. When the results came back, for the first time in my life, I had an underactive thyroid. (Thyroid disease DOES run in my family, both my mother and sister have it.) I was put on Synthroid (my opinion ONLY: I use brand name, NOT the generic.)  My symptoms were chronic pain, muscle pain, severe aches and pain, and extreme fatigue.  My own quote: ” I felt like I had the flu without the fever.” That is what I felt like day in and day out. I thought the Synthroid  (for my underactive thyroid) would help but it never did. For months I was in bed feeling worse and worse, my said Internist said “there is nothing further I can do for you” and walked out of the room leaving me inside, on the examining table, sobbing. True story.

She finally referred me to a Rheumatologist who looked at me and said I had “Scoliosis” and that with my thyroid disease (an auto-immune disease: Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) I should be prepared to get OTHER auto-immune diseases. Gee, thanks. There was no mention of Fibromyalgia and since when did I have Scoliosis? Whatever.

I felt horrible, chronic pain, muscle pain, joint pain, I could barely get out of bed. I won’t even mention the doctor ( he gets lower case on purpose!) that I went to who treated me with very DANGEROUS drugs, I will spare you that. I have Fibromyalgia and I really do think, there may be a connection between Thyroid disease and Fibromyalgia. AGAIN, I am not a doctor. However, I recently read about a new study where they are trying to see if T3 levels are linked to Fibromyalgia. (Promising!?)

Please, if you are experiencing all the symptoms I mentioned, don’t let an ignorant doctor make you feel like a fool. You know YOUR body best. Keep fighting, keep researching and, go to a good Rheumatologist, this is the Doctor that you need for Fibromyalgia. I have a friend who has a Thyroid condition like me (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) and a severe case of Fibromyalgia and she only goes to an Endocrinologist. Big Mistake but she will not listen to me. Don’t be like her. I just want to help. If you do see a Doctor that scoffs at Fibromyalgia and doesn’t believe in it: leave, do not stay. Check out your Doctor on-line, I chose mine from a list that said he believed in Fibromyalgia, treated it and patients loved him. I am one of his biggest fans. You deserve this too. Good luck.

Are You Even Aware, Do You Care? (ChronicBabe Blog Carnival)

woman

Image by Alessandro Vannucci via Flickr

Dear Doctors,

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12, but I bet mostly people who suffer from this debilitating illness know that.  There are people, fellow doctors even, who still think this is all in our heads. That IS the most insulting thing of all. Do you think we would choose this way of life? On purpose? Do you think that we would want to feel pain in every muscle and joint in our bodies for the fun of it? Maybe we just want attention, is that what you think? Do you know that I was diagnosed with two chronic illnesses within a matter of months and that menopause was the catalyst? Did you know that it was menopause that turned my body inside out and sideways, plumped up my lower belly and shattered my metabolism?  Do you know I eat less than the average child but I don’t lose weight and walking around the block twice is considered a work out?

I am going tomorrow to my third Rheumatologist to see what he has to say. He’s local, convenient and since I have had such different points of view from previous doctors I’d like to add yet another opinion to my massively, confused, Fibro Fog memory. That is if I can remember what we talk about which is as likely to happen as Christmas in July. I will try though, I will write things down, I will do intensive listening. I want to hear what you have to say. I wonder if you realize that a Fibromyalgia patient making an appointment to see you is not simple at all? It isn’t, we have to get there too and that is always a work in progress.

Did you know I saw a famous Rheumatologist for years, only to find out later, that the strong, immunosuppressant medications he prescribed could have destroyed me? That the medications he prescribed for me in his fancy office with his “Best Doctor Awards” on his walls, are only supposed to be used to protect a vital, organ? I didn’t know that either until another Doctor, actually two, told me.

Awareness is not just acknowledging a disease or many diseases; it is also imperative to take the accompanying emotional distress that it brings too. It’s no longer just me, it’s me and my shadow. We bring baggage, physical and emotional because many of us have dealt with this elusive, enigma of a disease for many years. Please, bear with us.

Even if you mean the best, you might not want to say “I know how you feel” because unless you are a patient, you don’t.  You can’t walk in my aching shoes, the soles of my feet are rigid, hurt and are on fire, right to the top of my head that aches at times with horrendous headaches, pounding me like turbulent waves on stoic rocks.  Are you aware, Doctors, that when some of  you treat us chronic patients like drug seeking  heroin addicts you demean us? You take away any sense of self-respect that we once had in the past? We know you try to help us but please understand how we feel. We feel pain, we just want some relief, once in a while when we need it the most. Try and understand that, we’re not looking for a quick high or to be comatose on life-altering drugs. We just want to be able to breathe without pain for a short time, ONLY, when we need it the most.

I’ll leave you with one thought. We know you try to help make us feel better. Just remember a moment of compassion, a light hand on our shoulder, an extra second of your smile means a lot, especially when we feel we have so little. If your son or daughter had the same disease and our same symptoms, would you treat him or her any differently? If you have to think about it, please consider treating us, like you would them.

Thank you very much for your time.

My Freckles Are Spreading, No Really

Ashton Kutcher at Time 100 Gala

Image via Wikipedia

I was in a small shopping mall last week and I passed a mirror and I thought, for a quick second, that I saw my reflection. No, that couldn’t be me. I must have seen someone else. Whoever it was, looked bloated, tired, pale and cranky. She was wearing a green shirt, and mom jeans with protruding stomach rolls, and she was frowning furiously that showed deep wrinkle lines.  That’s NOT me! Um, but I am wearing the same outfit and my eyes are green…..

Maybe the mirror I looked in was one of those funny mirrors that they use in amusement parks, or pranks!  I looked around for Ashton Kutcher because I thought I was being  “Punked”or at the very least, pranked. Ashton, however  was no where in sight and the only camera looking at me was a security camera following my every, suspicious move.

That old, sad, mad, fat person warily looking back at me made me want to weep and hide in some stranger’s musty attic or move to Canada or better yet, Italy. I can give good advice to others about positive body image but it wasn’t working for me today.  Today, I flunked the course.  I  ordered a chopped salad for lunch (appetizer size) and I had that lovely tiny slice of Italian cheesecake with the essence of orange, but don’t those things cancel each other out?

If big, cranky, frowning lady wasn’t enough I also saw that there is now something quite wrong with my skin. I’ve always had that pale, cream-cheese complexion but things are changing.  My freckles are joining together; I’m sure that’s what it must be.  It couldn’t be the dreaded old age spots, could it? This day just keeps getting better and better.

Just one more thing: I remembered the cashier at A & P  who asked me my age. I was so confused…..until she told me that Seniors, 55 and older get 5% off their bill on Tuesdays. It was Tuesday and while I am not 55, I’m really damn close. So, thanks for the discount but your people skills stink.

I know all the reasons why women gain weight in their, (cough, cough) mid to later years and I lend these pearls of wisdom to friends as easily as I would a  button-down blue sweater. My own body crashed with Menopause, followed closely by an Underactive Thyroid condition and an Auto-immune Disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. After that, I was diagnosed with  Fibromyalgia. But, today I’m just not buying it. I don’t care, I just know how awful I feel. Today, I am allowing myself to sulk.

Maybe tomorrow I will be able to put things in perspective. I will remember that good health is more important than weight, that I have a wonderful family and I am grateful for so many things. As for the cheesecake? It was worth every bite. The mirror? That, was pure evil.

Being A Mom With A Chronic Illness (ChronicBabe carnival)

Mother and Baby

Image by Praziquantel via Flickr

My goal in life, since I was five years old, was to become a mom.  I thought getting pregnant would be natural and beautiful but it seemed we needed a little help. After two and a half years of painful shots, medication and an every day visit to the infertility clinic  for blood work and ultra-sounds I finally was pregnant. I collapsed to my knees behind the closed-door in my stuffy office and kissed the dirty gray carpet in gratitude. I cried with happiness, one hand already covering my tiny belly.

My son was born and we called him Buddha baby, he never cried, he was always happy, a smiling, compassionate and outgoing kid.  He was my miracle baby, my first born. I went to every baseball game for my son, sitting in the bleachers in the rain, and sneaking away to the car to warm myself up.

My daughter came, naturally, twenty-one months after her brother was born, screaming on top of her lungs as she entered the world. I remember going into her room and lifting this red-faced baby girl to my shoulders, she would take a deep breath and her whole body relaxed into my neck.  I was her only source of comfort when she was a baby. I was there for every ballet lesson and dance recital, holding a bouquet of daisies, her favorite flower, in my arms like I was nestling a newborn baby‘s head.

I did everything for my kids and I loved doing it. This was the career I decided on and I wanted nothing more. I stayed home with them even when they got older because I knew they needed me during the tough middle school years. They would never admit it but they were happy to see me when they got home. Working moms called me “old-fashioned” but I didn’t care.

When I was 50, I went through menopause and my body fell apart. I was diagnosed first with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an auto- immune disease. When Synthroid, did not help me at all, I warily shuffled from one doctor to another, every bone and muscle and joint in my body screaming with agony.  My internist had given up on me, she stormed out of the room while I was laying there on the exam table crying in pain.  After visits to many different doctors I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I felt like I had the flu, every single day and night, with no fever, my personal definition of Fibromyalgia.

My life changed after that. I became the mom “before” I was sick and the mom “after.” I felt that I was no longer the mom you could always count on. I prefaced everything by saying “If I feel okay that day,” and “I’ll call you the morning of…”  Luckily my children were fourteen and twelve but it was now Dad who got up, made breakfast and lunches and dinner. Me? I was asleep, always asleep and in pain.

I felt lost and sad for years, not being able, physically, to be the mom I once was. Now, I am dropped off at an entrance to anywhere we go  like the handicapped patient I am. I sit alone, on a chair, when all the other parents and children go on a campus tour to see the entire campus. I cannot walk that far. I don’t want to be an embarrassment to my children or a burden for my husband.  I want the kids to remember the mom I was before I was sick but I know they don’t. They probably just remember me as I am today. I am not the mom I was before my illness even though my heart remains unchanged. I am the mom that they have now and because of that I have tremendous guilt and a lot of residual, emotional pain.

People Called Me Lazy

free 'sweet' hugs

My Fibromyalgia was diagnosed four years ago along with an autoimmune (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) disease and a connective tissue disorder. They both were gifts I got after menopause. Thanks. I’d rather burst into tears a hundred times and change night shirts six times a night than have this. I’m sure I’ve had Fibromyalgia for a long time, I just didn’t know what it was.

I never had the same amount of energy that other people had and I always needed ten hours of sleep. I can’t function on less than eight but ten is ideal. Let’s not forget the nap too. I used to nap every day for three hours, every single day and I would head to bed at 9:3o pm each night. Every bone in my body hurt, I  thought I had the flu,  without the temperature  but it never went away. New pain pops up like the springs of an old mattress and I just sit there in utter disbelief.’ No,’ I would say to myself,’ it can’t be. Isn’t there enough pain and discomfort?’ Sigh. Apparently not.

This pain I have makes me feel like a hundred years old; my 83-year-old mother is in so much better shape than I am. She does yoga once a week, she swims every day,  she is out of her apartment all day, going to the city, socializing with friends. She literally runs around without stopping to rest or sit down or G-d forbid, nap.  In the beginning, before she understood, (does she really understand now?) she used to tell me that I needed more exercise which is a common thing for people with Fibromyalgia to be told, over and over again. Read My Lips, NO CAN DO. I can barely make it around the block twice with my friends. They continue for a third loop and I beg off, mostly I’m fine with it, a few times I have had a twinge of embarrassment even though there is no reason for me to feel that way.

You get unsolicited advice from many people, people who don’t have a chronic pain illness. Go holistic, just get massages, change your diet. They might as well say dye your hair, or drink raw eggs or spin like a top and throw up as a cleanse. We KNOW the choices that are out there, really, we do. But generally we look to other pain sufferers for the answers not you. We know you mean well but frankly, it doesn’t help us.   Often, we don’t know WHAT to do and we are the ones that are suffering.  I’m there now. I’m not only caught up in the cotton-headed Fibromyalgia Fog (where am I, what did I come up here for?) that is my life but I feel unsure and anxious about my options.  I don’t know what to do or who to turn to or who to trust.  My energy is better from the medication I am currently on but now I have new pain in my legs. Great, I can stay up all day having more energy but with more pain. Do I have more pain from the side effects of the medication or from Fibromyalgia or wait, it could be from my auto-immune disease or connective tissue disorder. Listen up, world, I can’t speak for other people, but I am often unsure and clueless, trying to live in this world, day by day. I’m the first one to admit that I have no clue if what I am doing is right. How can we know that? We go to top doctors and hope for the best, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Do we settle? Do we stretch? Do we give up on medications? Is six weeks enough time to know that a medicine is working? Who knows? We don’t have the answers either, believe me it’s our fervent wish to understand and solve these medical mysteries.

I have stopped scheduling things in advance because I don’t know how I will feel that day at that time. My good friends understand, they will say “let’s talk the morning of” and I really appreciate it. My friend Sarah will just say “let’s see how you feel” and her concern (and no advice) is for my health and I know she just wants me to feel good and be happy; I also know she worries about me. I appreciate everyone’s concern, truly, I just sometimes don’t know what to say. I wish I was healthier too and in less pain,  I wish I didn’t have new symptoms from time to time but I do. Please understand that I like it a whole lot less than you. I know you feel bad for me but be careful of your words, saying “just when I thought you had every symptom in the book, you get another one,” is really not helpful. I know what I am going through you don’t need to tell me. Just be there for me, listen, offer me gentle hugs and a shoulder to cry on, be supportive. Take it from me, that’s plenty and more than enough.

A Warm Welcome For New Chronic Pain Members

Strelitzia reginae, also known as Bird of Para...

Image via Wikipedia

Dear New Chronic Pain Member,

I won’t say “Congratulations” for being in this particular club, a club that we all wish we were not in. Life works in very strange ways. There are some things we can’t possibly understand and there are some things we just have to accept; chronic pain/illness falls into that category. Whatever you have gone through there’s a pretty good chance we’ve  all been there and back. At least, you have found the most supportive bunch of people I’ve ever known. Even though what we have in common isn’t exactly our love for food (well, that too) it’s nice to surround yourselves with people who truly understand. Trust me, it helps.

Yesterday I dragged my aching bones and stiff joints up the four stairs for a consultation with a different Rheumatologist/Fibromyalgia doctor, even four steps felt like a lot and the rail  on the wall  called my name; I let it. Unlike my old doctor this new human being seemed attentive and concerned, he didn’t smirk once, didn’t put me down at all. He even talked to me (and not to my husband which used to happen all of the time.) Most of all, this guy  seemed to care. He interrupted my exam to talk to a suffering patient and while I don’t think that’s good form, listening to his soothing voice and gentility made it alright with me. It made me feel that I could call him for questions or concerns, not just send him e-mails like the old dude.

For a patient with a chronic illness or multiple chronic illnesses, a good rapport with a doctor is imperative. Go to a doctor that will give you the gift of hope. I’ve been around the block a few times here, actually 4 years worth so please listen so if I can shield you from the mistakes I have made, please let me.

This is my story, while going through menopause at age 50, my body basically fell apart. I developed an underactive thyroid, aches and pains, high cholesterol and a kangaroo stomach pouch, as I’ve said before “without a joey.” After many mistrials with many doctors, four years later I am here.  My old rhuematologist used to growl and say “Fibromyalgia is a lazy diagnosis.” What was that supposed to mean? Did that mean I didn’t have it because I certainly felt like I did. Those of us who have chronic pain know it; we feel it, eat it, and breathe it. We live with it day by day, aching night by night. There is no question in our minds but a big question mark still for some doctors, the wrong doctors. If your Doctor does not nod his/her head appreciatively or with empathy, do me a favor, walk out.

Fibromyalgia get’s a bad reputation and while it cannot be cured hopefully it can be helped. I had at least 14 out of the 17 pressure points and I was still on a lot of medication. I like that this Dr. took me off things that he thought I didn’t need. NOTE to fellow sufferers: If you have Fibromyalgia or any chronic pain illness and high cholesterol like me, ask your Doctor about side effects from certain drugs. Four years into this I just learned (from my mother)  Zocor or generic Simvastatin causes muscle aches and fatigue. Ask your own physician or call my mom if you want.

I also have an auto-immune illness of my thyroid, called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. What this means is basically my thyroid cells attack each other and this illness too brings pain and fatigue as well. Also, something called connective tissue disorder as well as others:  TMJ, IBS, Interstial Cystitis, bouts of anxiety etc.

I have no illusions that I will be “cured.” There is NO cure for my illnesses.  I am thankful I have friends who understand how I feel. Fellow sufferers who know what it means when I have a flare up  when the humidity is high and I am like a limp, achey, dishrag, basically hung out to dry. I’ve found that people without the disease don’t know how to handle “us.”  “Get more exercise” says my mother. “Go to a nutritionist”says my sister.  They mean well, they just don’t get it and how could they? We live in a different world.

The image of myself that I used to have was of a helpless kitty, crying and lost. Now, it is a beautiful, graceful flower,  purple and orange and called a Bird of Paradise. It looks like a bird‘s open beak, colorful, strong with its head, firmly, bravely, looking up. I pray it lasts.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Fibromyalgia # 2

1/11/10

UGH. DOUBLE UGH.

As some of you know, I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which even though it sounds like a special on a dinner menu is an auto immune disease. Before being treated for that, I was formerly diagnosed with  Fibromyalgia.   My Endocrinologist gave me Synthroid when, after menopause, I was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid.   Synthroid brought my thyroid levels back to a normal range but I still felt absolutely horrible.   Months and months later I found my way to a Rheumatologist who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and prescribed Cymbalta. I still felt horrible and about a year later I found my guru Dr. who is the Head of Auto Immune Diseases and Rheumatology at a NY hospital.  I think I might be in love with him… he’s a genius.

I  take Plaquannel every day.  And folic acid.  Oh, and methotrexate with a high dose of Vitamin D, twice a week. It pretty much takes me out of commission 4 days of the week  because my stomach rages against the methotrexate for two days each time I take it.  I take Cymbalta for the Fibromyalgia (which I may or may not have) and an anti-depressant used for anxiety issues. I am my own chemical compound. I was also on Prednisone which at high doses makes you feel incredible, high, and young and when you lower it significantly and slowly, you feel like you are in the movie “Cocoon” where the elderly first are given a special potion to feel young and fabulous and later on it goes away and they feel old and horrible again. Heartbreaking but true.  I’m not proud of all the medications I have to take but I am not ashamed either.

According to my guru Dr. in the city “Fibromyalgia is a lazy diagnosis.”  His theory is that anyone with an auto-immune disease like mine will feel achy, fatigued and have muscle pain.  To me, the patient, I don’t care what you call it, as long as you can help me feel better.

It took two complete years to even get on the right track of my initial diagnosis and while I think I am on the right track, it doesn’t mean that I feel swell all the time. It means I feel better and have learned to handle and predict certain situations. I am also 53 and not 23 and that does make a significant difference. Somewhere in this medical mystery of mine, I have had many broken  bones, sprains and torn ligaments;  I think there is a connection with the Hashimoto’s but not definitively.  All I know is that  it hurts and takes a very long time to heal.

My experience with the above urges me to say the following: If you feel that something is wrong, believe it. My internist didn’t believe me at all and actually left the office in a huff when I started crying from all the pain. Go to different doctors for their opinions. Don’t be scared that Dr. Jones will be insulted if you see Dr. Stevens. Nobody cares. Hardest but most important of all, believe that you will get better! You may not be perfect but you will be better and you do need patience for that.  Keep trying and keep believing that you will not always feel this bad. Believe me, I am still learning  and relearning that lesson every single day.

Good Luck!

Fat Fits

OUCH!  My pants are killing me and they are digging into my stomach and causing major red welts. WHO put them in the dryer for so long??! It is obvious that they shrank to a smaller size. Who hasn’t asked the very same question or said those very same words? When you are in your twenties or early thirties, five, even ten pounds are not that hard to lose. You skip some desserts, eat a few more salads with dressing on the side, you’re pretty much back to where you were. Not really a big deal although it probably seems like it when it happens. After all, you have nothing to compare it to. You can moan or groan and be a size 6 or 8 or 12 or 22 and still feel conspicuous. You can lie (as most of us have done) and say it’s “water weight,” “I’m bloated” or “just too much salt in that French onion soup (regardless of the mountain of gooey, stringy cheese on top).”  It’s all very plausible and they basically mean the very same thing. It’s not fun but it is fairly easy.

Now,  we are married and pregnant and you ARE eating for two! Thank goodness I had my children in my early thirties because now I hear that you are only supposed to gain about eight pounds for your entire pregnancy. Eight pounds? I probably gained that in between office visits when I was pregnant.  I didn’t crave pickles and ice cream much to my husband’s disappointment; he wanted me to wake him up in the middle of the night with cravings for chocolate ice cream with butterscotch syrup. I just wanted to sleep without peeing every hour on the hour.   With my son I craved Chinese food, French rolls from Dunkin’ Donuts with grape jelly (no butter) and bologna and orange American cheese sandwiches on white bread with butter; chocolate milk was the beverage of choice. After all, the baby and I needed calcium.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, a  mere twelve months after my son was born, we thought she would be Greek because all I ever wanted were Greek salads with extra feta cheese, all the time. It sounds healthy but it really wasn’t. The Italian (I know, right?) place I got it from gave giant-sized portions with about two pounds of salty feta cheese along with their deliciously creamy home-made dressing; extra dressing on the side, please.  It was a salad, and, in my befuddled brain, that meant healthy. It was also served with a lot of bread.  In addition, since I was pregnant in the summer, Carvel’s vanilla cones, dipped in multi-colored sprinkles were a must or extra thick, creamy French vanilla milkshakes to quell the nausea (if there was nausea), of course. Again, we needed even more calcium.  All that vanilla and my second child, my daughter, loves only chocolate. It figures.

Losing baby weight from two pregnancies in a row is a joke and besides, those pregnancy pants are so darn comfortable. Skip ahead a few years, okay, more than a few, and you’re fifty. You’ve gone through peri-menopause, menopause and post menopause and every single thing in and on  your body changes and you pretty much fall apart. The three pounds you used to be able to lose in two days? Gone.  You have gained weight by NOT changing your diet at all and you’ve developed a large kangaroo pouch for which there is no joey. Your fat is redistributed and your clothes don’t fit the same anymore. Your waist has all but (speaking of the butt, the butt reinvents itself and is its country), your hips take on Titanic proportions and you can’t even begin to describe your upper legs as thighs. They are more like battleships and the more you walk around, the more they shift and fight each other and no one ever wins; there are no survivors.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure things out and you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to put the pieces together; you are older now, middle- aged, middle- aged plus, or old and your body, in a sense, is breaking down. To put it clearly, after a certain age, you really do start falling apart.  I find this happening more to women than men but that could be because we just talk about it more. That is, women talk to women about these kinds of things ad nauseum.  This is not a discussion they are having with their boyfriends or lovers or G-d forbid, their husbands.  If we don’t speak about it, it must not be true.

The years go by, the numbers go up. You try to exercise but the numbers stay the same. If the numbers go up, it’s definitely muscle mass. It’s so damn cold outside how can we exercise? It is way too icy to walk and heaven forbid slip, you don’t want a broken ankle especially because your bones are more brittle now too.  You have the elliptical machine that you could use but with the foot/heel problems you have had your orthopedist strongly recommends you NOT use it because of the trauma to your already torn ligament. Of course there’s indoor swimming, which even if you had the ridiculous amount of money they charge at the gym, the thought of swimming indoors and going back outside to the freezing cold with wet hair is less than desirable. Don’t you get an instant cold that way? That could lead to the flu, swine, regular or all-purpose.

What can you do?  You either fight like hell and become a person who is relentless in starving and maintaining the lowest calorie account imaginable.  You can eat a moderate amount and not forsake all the things you love.  Or, you can eat as much as you want, when you want and just buy bigger clothes.  There are a few options in between and we can justify whichever one we want.  Basically,  fat is a relative thing. Health is a whole other article.  Do what’s right and what’s comfortable for you and don’t let anyone, ANYONE judge you. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want to lose the extra ten or……if I easily could. But, the fact is, I’ve tried and I’ve tried again. Being 53 I just don’t care that much about what other people think of me. I know who I am and I’m the same woman inside no matter what the label says; let us be comfortable in our own skin, inside and out.