Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dream: Soap Dish Salad

I'm in a medical clinic, in an exam room, waiting for a doctor.  I am not sick, but I am a subject in a survey waiting for a brief exam.

There is a mixed green salad on a thin metal soap dish that protrudes from the blue wall.  (The walls appear in color and pattern like a paper hospital gown.)  I am eating the salad with my right hand.  It is dry, with iceberg lettuce, carrots chopped in matchstick shapes, onion, radish slices and perhaps diced red pepper, so it takes me a while to chew and swallow each bit.  I am painfully aware that eating the salad in this manner (using my unwashed hands and taking it from a fixture that's been exposed to all sorts of hospital germs) is very unsanitary, but I do it anyway.

Since the door is open I can tell how far along the doctor is on his rounds.  As he enters the nearest neighboring exam room, I know that I will be next.  I want to finish the salad before he arrives, so I shove the last handful into my mouth.  While I'm chewing that, I go into the adjacent bathroom to gather all my belongings so I can leave right after the exam.  I grab that nearly unused bar of vegan lavender soap and put it in my bag, glad that I spotted it.

I open the door to go back into the exam room, but it hits an obstacle.  There is another doctor in the room bent over and attending to something.  She has long thick dark brown hair and is wearing a frumpy white lab coat.  She's unaware of me, and I wait quietly and patiently for her to finish what she's doing.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wednesday Weigh-In 20121227

I'm off from work this week, so the timing of this weigh-in is different. I had eaten breakfast and then spent two-and-a-half hours shoveling snow from the driveway. Then I peeled off all my clothes that were soaked with sweat and weighed myself. So the measurement is lower than it should be, probably by two pounds, due to the lost sweat.

Waist = 36.75"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Parkinson's Disease and Christmas

A few months ago yet another family member was diagnosed with a neurological disorder.  My cousin Joe has joined the 1 percent of folks over 60 years old who have Parkinson's Disease.  His sister already had been dealing with Multiple Sclerosis for 30 years.

The latest issue of Neurology Now features an article on Parkinson's Disease (PD): Not Just Tremor: Recognizing depression and other non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease.  And as I read it during the Christmas season, I was especially drawn to this single paragraph:
People with PD even have a tendency to lose their interest in religion—a change more readily considered philosophical than pathological. According to research by Patrick McNamara, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine, people with PD report significantly lower levels of interest in religion. Brain scans show that this lack of interest coincides with changes in the prefrontal cortex but does not correlate with depression, age, education, intelligence, or medication.
 I pondered this all throughout the Christmas religious service.  And I also thought about why I quit the church choir -- mainly it was the hypocrisy of singing about that which I no longer really believed in, particularly at Christmas time when the verse proclaimed the miracle of virgin birth.  (And it should be noted that hypochondria is one of my "pastimes.")  So (feeling empty myself) I wondered if this is how someone who has lost religion feels at Christmas?  Are ministers aware of this aspect of Parkinson's?  What if this happens to a minister with Parkinson's Disease?

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday Weigh-In 20121219

This is the first weigh-in that's lower than 154lb. What's been different lately? Well, I've stopped exercising. I've cut out the half-hour lunch time walk in order to take holiday lunches and get some extra work done. Seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? But what if you consider that my body senses this inactivity and reduces my appetite so that I eat less?

Waist = 36.5"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quotes from "Why We Get Fat"

Because the insulin level in the bloodstream is determined primarily by the carbohydrates that are consumed ... it's those carbohydrates that ultimately determine how much fat we accumulate.  Here's the chain of events:
  1. You think about eating a meal containing carbohydrates.
  2. You begin secreting insulin.
  3. The insulin signals the fat cells to shut down the release of fatty acids (by inhibiting HSL) and take up more fatty acids (via LPL) from the circulation.
  4. You start to get hungry, or hungrier.
  5. You begin eating.
  6. You secrete more insulin.
  7. The carbohydrates are digested and enter the circulation as glucose, causing blood sugar levels to rise.
  8. You secrete still more insulin.
  9. Fat from the diet is stored as triglycerides in the fat cells, as are some of the carbohydrates that are converted into fat in the liver.
  10. The fat cells get fatter, and so do you.
  11. The fat stays in the fat cells until the insulin level drops.
If you're wondering whether any other hormones [besides insulin] make us fat, the answer is effectively no....
- Gary Taubes, "Why We Get Fat," page 122

...cortisol makes us store fat both directly (through LPL) and indirectly (through insulin).  But then it works to release fat from our fat cells, primarily by stimulating HSL, just like other hormones.  So cortisol can makes us fatter still when insulin is elevated, but it can also make us leaner, just like every other hormone, when insulin levels are low.  And this may explain why some people get fatter when they get stressed, anxious, or depressed and eat more, and some people do the opposite.

The bottom line is something that's been known (and mostly ignored) for over forty years.  The one thing we absolutely have to do if we want to get leaner -- if we want to get fat out of our fat tissue and burn it -- is to lower our insulin levels and to secrete less insulin to begin with.
- ibid, page 124

...when you eat sugar, according to research by Bartley Hoebel of Princeton University, it triggers a response in the ... part of the brain ... known as the reward center ... that is targeted by cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and other addictive substances.  All food does this to some extent, because that's what the reward system apparently evolved to do: reinforce behaviors (eating and sex) that benefit the species.  But sugar seems to hijack the signal to an unnatural degree, just as cocaine and nicotine do.
- ibid, page 142

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Sleep Study

I had complained to my doctor about sleepiness at my previous wellness exam.  He recommended a sleep study for sleep apnea.  I declined.  I would have to stay overnight at the city hospital.  But at the next visit when we discussed the topic, I decided to go through with it.

Even before the doctor mentioned sleep apnea, I was pretty sure I had it.  Ever since I could remember, I would wake up groggy and somewhat out of breath.  I've had a few dreams in which I was holding my breath underwater and then I'd wake up gasping for air.  And my wife would wake me to complain that I was snoring very loudly and "snort like a gunshot."

And I remember that when I was on pain meds after sinus surgery, I would realize I had stopped breathing while drifting off to sleep.  When I mentioned this to the ENT surgeon at a followup visit, he dismissed my complaint as just a vivid imagination.

But I declined the initial sleep study referral because the only solution is either surgery, an oral appliance, or a machine that forces air into your nose (a CPAP machine).  None of these options appealed to me.  But I reconsidered because the study itself wouldn't cost anything, and the solution would be partially covered.  The main reason I reconsidered was because my wife made me do it.

I had a private room at the hospital with its own bathroom.  I changed into my PJs.  The technician suggested that I relax a bit and watch some TV.  Then when I was ready to go to bed, I should let him know so that he could attach electrodes to my body.

I don't watch TV.  I usually read before I go to bed, but I had forgotten to bring a book.  But I did find a TV channel that played relaxing music.  It didn't really matter because at that point in my life I was so thoroughly tired all the time that I could fall asleep quickly nearly anywhere, even standing in a line at a bank.  I went through the motions of a pre-bedtime ritual only for appearances sake -- I felt that the technician expected me to watch TV before going to bed.

After a short while, I was in bed, and the technician was attaching electrodes to my scalp, wrists and ankles, and attached a pulse oximeter to my finger.  He explained that the doctor ordered a "split" sleep study.  In this type of study, the first half would include just a monitoring phase.  If during this phase I should stop breathing, the technician would wake me and attach a CPAP machine to me.

I fell asleep right away, despite all the wires attached to me.  And then right away, inexplicably, the technician woke me up.  "What's going on?  Why'd you wake me up?" I asked a bit crossly.

"You have the worst sleep apena I've ever seen.  You really surprised me.  When you first walked in, I didn't think you'd have it.  Most of the folks who have sleep apnea are very overweight.  Boy was I wrong!"

He placed a special mask over my nose and explained that it would keep my airway open using air pressure, which he'd adjust remotely.  He'd be able to determine an optimum pressure that would be programmed into my own machine once I got it.

The next time I woke up, it was morning.  I actually felt refreshed.  It was amazing!  It was still early as I drove home.  Traffic was light, and I had the whole day ahead of me.  I had the euphoric sense that infinite possibilities were within reach.

The story continues here with My CPAP Breathing Machine.

Wednesday Weigh-In 20121212

It's not often that my weight drops below 155lb and my waist size below 37". Yet that's where I find myself today. With my nasal congestion, I can't smell or taste anything. Perhaps smell triggers more eating. And taste provides the enjoyment that might prolong eating. Well, the other thing that's going on is that I've cut back on carbs. I've reduced or completely eliminated the starchy side dish of rice that comes with many meals (including those that my wife makes).

Waist = 36.5"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wednesday Weigh-In 20121207

I've been battling persistent nasal congestion. Up until today, it felt as though someone forced cement into my nose. Even Sudafed offered little relief. I'll be happy once we get a few inches of snow on the ground. That will seal off the mold that I'm reacting to.

Waist = 37.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

NaBloPoMo Wrap-up

Well, it's December 1.  The November NaBloPoMo is over, and I rocked it -- 36 posts in 30 days!  Woot!

I probably could post every day for a full year, but I have so many other interests (plus a full time job) that my other projects would languish.  So I'll quit while ahead and focus on: Reiki, Dog Training, Feng Shui, photography, exercise, finances, family, food, reading, work and whatever else looks fun and interesting!

Dream: Spirit Entity in Closet

I'm staying as a guest in a large mansion.  I'm standing near the front entrance on the inside.  There is a closet to the left of the huge, double-door entrance.  The mansion owners have locked a nice spirit entity in the closet, and now she is knocking and calling to be let out.  I would like to release her, but I don't want to displease the owners.  They are not in the room with me, but they would know that I released the spirit.  There are other people who are also staying as guests.  They are very kind like me.

The others arrive. In the hubbub of their entering, I open the closet, and the spirit emerges.  In appearance she is a lovely blonde woman, radiant and warm and happy.

It's later.  All of us are getting ready to embark on an outing in the countryside.  I'm standing behind two golf carts.  The friendly folks are in the golf cart on the left, which seats four.  The owner and his cronies are in the cart on the right.  It has a few empty seats, so I decide to ride with them, reluctantly.  But they start to speed away.  I guess I'll walk, partly relieved.