Hello. This is an introductory post with some backstory; it will be long, and it will be real. If you’re offended by names of parts of the female anatomy, cuss words, or bodily functions described in lay terms, run screaming now. Vagina.
First off: I am overweight. I know this, and I’m not going to try to attribute this fact to some bullshit like glandular problems or an inexplicably underactive metabolism. My metabolism is slow, but that’s because my ass is usually attached to a couch, car seat, or desk chair. When I do get out and do things that do not require ass-to-couch contact, I do them slowly so as to avoid raising my heart rate or increasing my respiration. I don’t care for that.
I have poor eating habits. I know that I eat food that is terrible for me. Earlier today I was thinking this as I ate Little Debbies and felt the waxy “icing” that creates the airtight seal around the cakes lining the roof of my mouth with a film that did not go away immediately after I finished eating them. I developed poor eating habits as a child; unaware that there was any difference between eating 200 calories of Little Debbies and eating 200 calories of watermelon, and preferring the taste of greasy hydrogenated oil, sugary refined sugar, and high fructose-y high fructose corn syrup all whipped together with ingredients that have too many Xes in them to be made out of food, I chose the latter, and continue to do so when the notion strikes, even though I know better now. All you have to do to get to a Little Debbie is open the cellophane…opening a watermelon requires that you cut it open, remove your portion, and return the rest to a covered container of some type and put it in the fridge when you’re done. That’s like, fifty times more effort.
Sometimes I tell myself that today will be the day that I change the way my brain works and stop being so lazy. Then I get tired thinking about it. Mainly because I’m tired all the time. Probably from eating bullshit and not sleeping. I also smoke electronic cigarettes, which have a million times more nicotine in them than regular cigarettes (approximately). Nicotine is a stimulant, and if I smoke one of these things at night, I may get to sleep, but there will be a period of about three to four hours throughout the night when I am lying there, eyes closed and trying not to move, hoping that my brain will turn itself off and I can snag another ten minutes of REM sleep before the sun is up and it’s a lost cause. Alternatively, when I’m not sleeping too little, I’m sleeping too much. Twelve hours a night, with a possible nap in the afternoon from around four till about six. It’s terrible, right? I know.
I am getting to a point, I promise. Just not quite yet.
There was a time in my life when I was as…robust…as I am right now. But after a decades-long and hellish teenagehood full of name-calling and death-threats, I lost over 100 pounds and got into the best shape of my life over the course of two years, and stayed more or less healthy and in good physical shape (my actual shape was what most people would consider “out of shape,” but underneath what was left of my formerly flabby ass was pretty much a muscular figure) for about four years. Then I had a baby, and within six months had lost all of my baby weight, plus ten pounds. During this time, I was basically a vegetarian, with soy being my primary source of protein. I rarely ate red meat or full-fat dairy, never touched fried foods and stayed the hell away from sweets. I went to the gym occasionally, walked to the store instead of driving, hiked, swam, danced…I was an outdoorsy person and would occasionally break into a run for the hell of it. I never tried to measure the distance or anything, but I’m pretty sure I could run about a mile or so. That’s a pretty big deal for someone who wore a size 20 dress in 6th grade.
But alas…a size 20 would now be my “skinny jeans.” I don’t know what or where or how, but gas station deli food became not a guilty pleasure, but a major component of my diet. No longer does one measly little pint of Ben and Jerry’s last me through two months of estrus-related chocolate cravings.
Speaking of estrus, have I mentioned that I’ve been on my period since August of last year? August of 2011 to April of 2012…yup, that’s roughly nine months of bleeding out my vag. I stop for a week here and there some months, but mainly, no, I just bleed out the vag. I Googled the symptoms I’m having. WebMD and others have provided a handful of undesirable possible diagnoses. None are anything I’d like to have…some of the top answers I’m getting are fibroid tumors, cervical cancer, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Of all three of these, I’d like to believe that it’s PCOS. PCOS is fairly common in women with my weight and reproductive system-related issues, and ovarian cysts are a side effect of the Mirena IUD, which I had for two years. “I’d like to believe that it’s PCOS”…it’s hard to believe that I’m saying that. Right now I can’t allow myself to entertain the thought of anything worse.
Why not go to the doctor? Well, I had planned to. I guess I also should mention that I have no health insurance. I understand that if I were to be diagnosed with cancer, it would be hard for me to get health insurance, since cancer is considered a pre-existing condition (the Affordable Care Act could change that, but wait for it…I’ll get to that in a minute, too), and money is tight. My original plan was to get a good job after my college graduation in December (HA! Silly me), then get insurance and go to the doctor, where he or she would tell me what was wrong, and it would be fine because the condition was discovered after I already had insurance. After three months of searching for a good, desirable job, it became apparent that I would not find one, so I decided to lower my standards and get any job. Any job is better than none, and any insurance would be better than no insurance.
After two weeks of screening and interviews for a job I thought might be passable as something I could see myself doing for a while, I was hired. Finally! I thought. With this much effort put into the hiring process, they really must take good care of their employees. Uh huh. As my new boss was putting my information into the computer, I learned that I was to be working part-time, not full-time, for $7.35 an hour. (I had wrongly believed that no matter how low the pay was, surely no one got paid less than $8 an hour anymore. That’s just cruel and unheard of.) Here is a lesson learned: I had read all these job hunting and interview “tips” about how it’s considered bad etiquette to discuss pay before a job offer is made, and since I had no other prospects, I didn’t want to blow it. I had already used up almost an entire tank of gas and eight hours of my time on all of the interviews I had to give to get this job. It took me an entire seven-hour shift to get that money back, after taxes. And it takes me nearly an hour’s pay to get to and from work every day. Screw etiquette.
So I thought, to hell with it, I’ll get the beshitted part-time employee insurance and go to the doctor…well, if I didn’t need to cash my check immediately for paying bills, I would post a picture of one so that America can see what “$147.74” looks like printed on a check, in case they don’t already know. While doing the mandatory counseling about my health insurance options on my company’s website (after watching the mandatory anti-labor union propaganda, of course)–and taking the test that followed (I guess this was so that we could all be sure that I have a deep understanding of my insurance options as an underpaid part-time employee), I learned that health insurance would cost me about 1/5 of my check every week, and that since I am not working full-time, my insurance does not qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, meaning that should I choose to take this insurance, it will only pay for $10,000 worth of coverage per calendar year, at which time my insurance will begin covering the next $10,000, and so on. Also, if I do have a pre-existing condition, I will have to wait up to six months to get any coverage whatsoever. Point me in the direction of the nearest Discount Hysterectomy House, I guess.
Edit: it occurred to me that some might wonder why I don’t sell my computer, if money is such an issue. I’ll answer now, so that I don’t have to in the future. This computer has paid for itself in the amount of income that my husband brings in with his hobby of writing programming code in his spare time. Without a computer, we would not have that extra income. I’m also working swing shifts, meaning that I open one day and close the next, open then close, close then open…which makes it hard to find a second job when you have a different schedule every week. I suppose I could work during those hours I spend every night lying in the bed doing nothing…but instead I spend most of the time that I’m not at work applying for other jobs.
So anyway, now I’m waiting for an appointment at the county health department for an exam. Maybe I should have done this sooner…for the first couple of months, I thought I was just having one of my typical irregular periods, or that my hormones were still working themselves out from having my IUD removed two years earlier (although, I did think that any hormone-readjusting should have surely been finished by then). For the next couple of months, I thought that if the bleeding hadn’t stopped by Christmas, I should probably worry. Well, tomorrow is Easter. The word Easter came, according to the Venerable Bede, from the name of the goddess Eostre, in whose honor feasts were/are held by pagans at the beginning of the spring equinox. Eostre (or Ostara) represents rebirth and renewal, and, interestingly, is also where we get the word estrogen. And my estrogen is still effed all the way up, and my body apparently is trying to rebirth something by cranking out my eggs all day every single day. I have a suspicion that this may also have something to do with genetically modified food, since the food is genetically modified to get big and reproduce as quickly as possible in order to maximize profits, but I still have research to do on that, so I’m holding my tongue on that one for now.
Most of the “home remedies for PCOS” Google searches I’ve done have returned advice about changing your diet to one that is primarily plant-based, and incorporating more exercise into one’s daily regime. Of course, having been on every diet from Susan Powter’s Stop the Insanity to Atkins to Slim-Fast (and occasionally the Slim-Fast/Dexatrim combo…it was the 80s. Yeah, that’s a different story), as soon as I decided to do this, I said that it would be after Easter dinner. There is no getting around that. If I tell myself that I’m going to go to the in-laws’ and eat tofu and fruit salad instead of ham and deviled eggs, I’m setting myself up for failure. I tried to tell my husband about my plans while I was grocery shopping for, among other things, nuts, eggs, raisins, and my daughter’s candy and Easter basket, and it went like this: “I eat nothing but crap, and I have to start eating better. After tomorrow, it’s nothing but healthy food forever…GAAAHHD, THAT’S A LONG TIME!!” And he laughed, because he knows that every spring I eat healthy food for about two months, then I go out for beers one time and get a hangover, and it’s sausage city for the next month. Some people are addicted to crack; I’m addicted to sugar and grease. One meal of steak and chocolate cake and I’m off the wagon. Thank god that I have managed to instill good habits in my kid so far…she hasn’t even thought about digging in the closet for the Easter candy, and she’d rather have strawberries than french fries. She’s really a smart little person…she always gives me positive reinforcement when I cook vegetables for dinner, and lectures me about how fried foods and cookies are “sometimes foods.” I wish I had known what she knows when I was her age.
I know that what I put in my body affects my health–one of the main ways I lost all that weight earlier was by living by the motto, “you are what you eat,” eating only whole or minimally-processed foods, and cutting out white sugar and flour (wouldn’t it be more appealing to feel like a crunchy carrot than a floppy, sloppy Whopper?). After a car wreck that nearly killed me, I healed my body by listening to it, and giving it what it needed, whether it was kale or sweet potatoes, or an occasional shot of chocolate. I know this sounds like a bunch of hippie shit, but for reals, that’s what I did. I didn’t diet, and I think that’s why I succeeded then, and why I fail when I try to restrict myself now. I also walked everywhere I went, or otherwise kept moving for the better part of the day (this part will be challenging, since I also had no husband, kids, or obligations which would require me to get to and from a place in a small amount of time…it was no problem for me to walk to town with a backpack, hit the library, go to the store, take my time shopping, and walk home afterward. Now I count walking inside the grocery store as part of my exercise). So I’m going to do that again.
In closing, I guess that what I’m getting at is that I’m going to be keeping this blog as a journal while I try to treat my PCOS or whatever with a plant-based diet and exercise. I don’t know what this blog will be or what it will turn into, but hopefully it will help me to stay focused, and hopefully I will track some major progress in my health along the way. If anyone has made it all the way to the end of this ramble, I thank you. My next posts will probably be shorter, have pictures, and some interesting rabbit food recipes that I’ve found, as well.