When the days flow together

You can add definition.

I “retired” (maybe permanently, maybe until my health is better) in late June 2019. Husband ended his contract test job around Thanksgiving 2019. Housemate began working from home to avoid COVID-19 in the first week of March 2020.

Each of these transitions came with its own changes and flow. Initially I was the only one home weekdays. Then it was two of us. Now three. And while I didn’t go out all that often before, now we’re at home except for grocery, pharmacy, and medical trips.

The first definition is that housemate has senior programming job, and is often on meetings or focusing on computer code. We try to be considerate of the demands on his time and to give him space and quiet to focus. It also makes us more aware of things like “Labor Day” and weekends.

My exercise pattern also adds definition. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are treadmill days. Since the treadmill is in the not-AC sunroom, this means that summer mornings involved meds, coffee, breakfast, and treadmill – before anything else. These days I’m more relaxed, but those are still treadmill days.

I’ve also moved from “when my back hurts I’ll remember to do crunches” and “when my knees ache I’ll do squats” to having Monday, Wednesday, and Friday be days when I do squats, clamshells, leg lifts, and arm/core exercises.

There are other rhythms to the week:

  • Release days for favorite podcasts.
  • Recurring chores scheduled for different days – doing my pill minder on Mondays, cleaning a floor on Tuesdays, recycling etc. (I do this using Habitica).
  • Saturday & Sunday I watch AM Joy (on the TiVo, not at 7am Pacific).
  • Sunday night I enjoy the “All Blues” music on one of the local NPR stations, KNKX.

Finally, Sundays I have no exercise and no chores scheduled. It’s a nice contrast with the rest of the week.

Who thought knees were a good idea?

You may remember that I can’t take NSAIDs anymore.

I’ve also written about knee issues, and that recently I wasn’t having them.

Apparently I tempted the fates or something, because last weekend I managed to do something to my left knee.

The good thing is that I have been able to treat it with using my cane more to reduce strain; elevation; an ice pack; and doing more of the exercises I learned in physical therapy.

I’m also very aware of how moving is affecting my my knee. Placing my foot in one direction or another can be painful or not. I’m more self-aware.

Would I like to take some ibuprofen occasionally? Yes! But I’m managing without, and with little pain.

A post

I have installed Habitica again, and setup a system of things to do daily, things that repeat frequently, and occasional to-dos.

One is to “Write a blog post”. So. This is a blog post. :)

Life Without Ibuprofen

I became aware of ibuprofen in high school, as a reliever for period pain. I used it with happy abandon for assorted cramps and pulled muscles. When my knees started hurting, I used ibuprofen. Headaches weren’t much helped by ibuprofen, but that’s what acetaminophen is for.

Eventually I had knee issues that ibuprofen didn’t handle, I added physical therapy exercises to ibuprofen. I didn’t stop taking it.

Enter blood thinners, to avoid another blood clot in my lungs.

You know what’s bad when you’re on blood thinners? Any other blood thinners. Like aspirin or naproxen or ibuprofen.

Seriously, that’s why older folks are often advised to take a low dose of aspirin a day – it’s a mild blood thinner, to avoid unneeded blood clots. But if you’re on specific medicine to make your clot less, then meds that adjust your clotting are bad.

Which means: I no longer take ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. I can take acetominophen, but carefully, since my blood thinner med keeps my liver too busy to clear things like alcohol as fast as usual. Acetominophen goes through the liver, too, so I’m mindful about it. And, y’know, acetominophen didn’t really help with cramps anyway.

So here I am, in my mid-fifties, having to face arthritis, pulled muscles, and other ills without ibuprofen or naproxen. What to do?

  • I am more focused on strength training to support my knees and back.
  • I am more regular in stretching to prevent muscle cramps.
  • I am dealing with things like “sore neck and shoulder from sleeping wrong” with slow stretches and patience.

….and, if needed, I can drink. I just need to be aware it has stronger and more lasting effects than it used to have. :)

Fat Bias In Treatment

Researchers are looking at data on N1H1 flu to see how COVID-19 might go. For example, reviewing how fat people fare.

Results: We identified 22 articles enrolling 25,189 laboratory confirmed patients. The pooled estimates indicated obesity significantly increased the risk of fatal and critical complications of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infection (for fatal, OR = 1.81, 95% CI: 1.23-2.65; for critical complications, OR = 1.67, 95% CI: 1.13-2.47). However, we found significant interaction between early antiviral treatment and obesity (β = -0.28). After adjustment for early antiviral treatment, relationship between obesity and poor outcomes disappeared (OR = 1.14, 95% CI: 0.94-1.39).

Gee. Fat people didn’t get the same disease treatments as thin people, and didn’t recover as well thin people who were aggressively treated. It’s almost as if not treating diseases in fat people is a problem.

It’s unreasonable to wait for people to lose weight before treating diseases.

Yoga revisited

I never really stopped stretching, but now I’m starting to do a few yoga poses again.  I stand in a “warrior” pose and marvel at how my mat holds my feet still, and I remember being able to have my feet further apart without any of the balance wobbling I’m doing.

I remind myself I used to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill and when I started again it was 3 minutes, so quit worrying about “used to do” and just do.

So. A few standing poses. I’m aware of my balance. A few floor poses. I’m aware of my back. A few twists.  I feel looser. Getting off the floor is harder but doable.

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MegaYoga by Megan Garcia

I often refer to the book MegaYoga by Megan Garcia when I’m unsure about how to position my feet and so forth.

This is written as I am rebuilding strength and stamina after a pulmonary embolism and other issues that made me persistently short of breath. 

 

Review: The Relentless Moon

The newest Lady Astronaut book from Mary Robinette Kowal is fun. It features a 50ish woman, Nicole Wargin, who finds and defeats bad guys in an alternate world where the space race started in the 1950s; by the early 60s, there’s a moon base and a mission to Mars.

Nicole is an ex-WASP who admits she was probably only accepted to astronaut training because her husband, Kenneth Wargin, was a senator. To the surprise of everyone else, she excelled. By The Relentless Moon Kenneth is governor; Nicole wants more time with him, but is happy to live in the moon base 3 weeks a month since her arthritic toes like less gravity and no heels. That said, Nicole is frustrated that she doesn’t get to pilot the “big rockets”, just the on-moon “puddle jumpers”.

This world is like ours in the early 1960s, with sexism, racial segregation, and protests.  Add in rapid global warming, food shortages, and an expensive space race, and Earth isn’t exactly a quiet place to be. Both the civilian government and the space organization – including Kenneth, Nicole and her coworkers – must deal with protests, riots, and sabotage.

The Relentless Moon is set on Earth and the moon in parallel with the Mars mission in the prior book, The Fated SkyThe Calculating Stars is the first book in the series.  Amazon has a page with all three books.

I loved this book, but I also have some content warnings.  If you are a completely “no spoilers” person, stop reading.

LadyAstronaut

First: Eating disorders. In particular the narrator forgets to eat, doesn’t want to eat, and deals with resulting dizziness, muscle weakness, and fainting.  She is supported in her recovery and her symptoms are treated.  I came out of this book with a new awareness that forgetting to eat is not a virtue.

Second: A polio outbreak occurs at the moon base. (Polio vaccine development was delayed in this history due to the event that kicks off The Calculating Stars.) It’s noted that polio has an incubation period of up to 10 days, most people who have it are asymptomatic, and it can affect patients who’ve recovered years later – does that sound familiar? A recap of how polio spreads and how they wouldn’t know who had it for up to 2 weeks had me trying to back up through the couch, if that makes sense.

Third: Intentional weight loss to join the space org is discussed.

Disabled or not?

A person with a disability is defined as: A person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or A person with a record of such a physical or mental impairment; or A person who is regarded as having such an impairment. – NW ADA Center

“Disabled” is still a term I wrestle with. I have a disabled parking permit because I use a cane to walk and often can’t walk more than 200 feet. I use a mobility scooter at big box stores or events. But I’m not considered disabled by the US Social Security Administration, because I can do work that I did before (software testing, which physically means “park self in front of computer”) (just not at the pace and hours expected by Amazon of a senior person) (which really the US tech industry assumption that everyone has 60 to 80 hours a week to dedicate to work is a serious problem that I’m pretty sick of, and has me considering other, part-time options).

So yeah, I’m disabled, but I’m not.

I looked up the Social Security info because my primary care ARNP suggested it.  I still don’t think I would probably qualify – from what I’ve heard, it’s a pretty onerous process.

ACK

Cathy yelling “ACK!” Cartoon by Cathy Guisewite

In the mean time, I went from feeling a bit chuffed that I handled the walking at the primary care office fine while wearing a multilayer cloth mask, to … having an asthma attack walking down the hallway at another appointment in the hospital medical offices.

(I am a grownup, so I didn’t actually YELL “ACK!” out loud. Just, you know, THOUGHT IT really loud.)

I did take a minute away from other people to use my inhaler, which of course required removing my mask. But the inhaler helped my lungs relax.  I continued walking.  Slowly.

One step forward, one step back.  Walking is aerobic and improves my blood pressure; aerobic exercise is an asthma trigger. Strength training reduces/removes knee pain; strength training can be boring.

That’s kind of life, I know.

 

Back On The Treadmill

Got back on the treadmill today. (Actual for-exercise home treadmill, not a job.) I started this a while ago, but the last 2 weeks my schedule has been a bit off.


I don’t do much, because I can’t. The shortness of breath persisted way past the rest of my recovery from the pulmonary embolism.


I walk about five minutes at 0.8 or 0.9 or 1 mph to The Hidden Almanac podcast. Not long!

Yet.

My resting pulse has dropped below 100.

My blood pressure is dropping.

The leveled treadmill with support rails on both sides lets my knees & hips walk in the most neutral position so that they can relearn good habits.

Yes, I’d like to be able to walk further. But this is what I can do now, so it’s what I’m doing now.

Thankful Thursday

Starting this practice again.

  1. Our single-story home. We’ve been here for 2 years now, and it’s still the right decision.
  2. Unpacked some boxes this week. (We’re old and thus have lots of stuff.)
  3. Chosen family.
  4. Twitter friends.
  5. My mobility scooter, which makes events and shopping easier.

December Again

Reviewing old posts tells me that in December 2010 I was unemployed and job hunting. Now I’m unemployed and not job hunting.  In a lot of ways I’m resting now, catching up on day to day.  I’ve been cooking again.  I’ve been sorting through clothes and fighting my “but I might never find this again and what if my body size changes?” reactions to actually part with some of them. And, of course, I’m working with a specialist on why I’m so short of breath all the time.

Life goes on. :)

Hi Again

Didn’t mean to leave things on a cliffhanger, more that I wandered away from the keyboard and didn’t come back.  (Oops!)

My lung function is, apparently, fine.  My shortness of breath and fatigue are due to another issue that I’m working on with yet another specialist.

In other things, I’m trying to write more (failing), have a book to beta-read (failing), and trying to keep up with housework (bleh).  How are you?

Medical Tests of the Itchy Sort

In May 2018 I was short of breath. I thought I might have pneumonia.  Turned out they  found a pulmonary embolism and I spent 4 days in ICU. I was finally discharged to go home and rest. This also came shortly after a kidney stone and high blood pressure diagnosis, and I was really, really, tired.

But my lung capacity, while better than with the PE, still sucks. “It takes time to recover from a PE”.  Uh-huh. Also I was busy trying to hit deadlines at work, despite being tired all the time, and I only had so much time and energy to deal with crap. So I didn’t push to hard on why my lung capacity is still smaller than normal.

It’s over a year later. I still get short of breath trying to walk any distance. Slowing down helps but is frustratingly slow. So this week I’m going to the Pulmonary Clinic for lung capacity testing!  Good!  And to find out my unmedicated state, I’m not taking asthma meds and anthistamines for a day beforehand!

Oof.

“You can use a rescue inhaler like albuterol if needed up to 4 hours before the appointment.”

Uh, right.

What really worries me is that I’ll end up itching. I did confirm I can use topical meds, like hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine eyedrops.  I may be focusing on itching to avoid thinking about shortness of breath.  But still. No Zyrtec. Eek. 

Carol Gwenn Interview

Carol emailed me after I mentioned BBW Magazine in a post to tell me she used to write for it!  I asked her to do an interview as someone who’s been around fat acceptance since the 70s…

Q: How would you introduce yourself?

I’m Carol Gwenn, former writer and lifelong big person. I’ve had numerous occupations, almost all of them in & around the entertainment industry (performer, writer, teacher, agent, etc.). I currently function as sort of caretaker/watchful eye over a building belonging to the owner of the company I work for. We use it as office space & I’m kind of the babysitter for the property.

Q: Are you comfortable with the word “fat” for yourself?

Sure – am confortable with “fat” for myself because it’s what I AM. Have never seen anything wrong with the word fat when it’s used for what it is: a descriptive word, like “tall” or “blonde”.

Q: How would you describe your body size?

I’d describe my size as fat-to-middling (5’6″ and a size 18, 1X ). I’ve been larger & smaller, but my current size (where I’ve been for the past 13 years or so) is comfortable for me.

Q: How has being fat affected your life?

Only as much as I’d allow it, which is VERY little. I always put myself out in the world as a great looking, sexy broad, and with VERY few exceptions that’s how I was perceived. Have always believed in the principle of mind over matter in many parts of life, and one of those things is that if I believe in my own value & in my own terrific looks, then that’s how the world will see me. The down side to that is that, now that I’m past middle age & into the stage of life where things are disintegrating before my eyes, trading on my looks is something that will no longer work: you can’t trade on something you no longer have. But it sure was fun while it lasted!

Q: How did you encounter fat lib/fat acceptance?

5. I came upon the fatosphere as an entity sometime in the late ’70s. There was an article in my local newspaper (the Los Angeles Times) about NAAFA and the Fat Underground, and shortly after that the original BBW Magazine started up & I began to write for it. The sad thing is that we don’t seem to have gotten terribly far in the past 40-off years: if anything, I see more rampant fat phobia out there then ever, people becoming more and more obsessed with being thin and regarding fat people as alien beings. Wish I could think of a way to fix this -suppose we ALL would like that – but there doesn’t seem to be one. There seems to be something in human nature that compels people to find someone to dislike and/or look down on. Unfortunately, in many cases, it’s us.

Q: What’s the worst part of being fat for you?

The worst part of being fat for me …all the people I’ve encountered in my life who persist in telling me that I’m somehow broken and that they can fix me, if only I would torture myself via eating disorders (i.e., diets) and crazed physical exertion to make myself smaller. The other worst part? It’s SO not legal to stomp those annoying people into little blobs on the ground.

Q: What’s the best part of being fat for you?

The best part of being fat for me…it’s that wonderful song title from “La Cage…”: ‘I am what I am!’ I wake up each morning & say “Thank you!” for my nice, big, healthy body that does so many nice things for me. Also – and this is SERIOUSLY important – being able to make use of as many teachable moments as possible when I encounter diet talk or fat phobia, trying to combat that attitude of “But YOU’RE not that fat…” Hey – fat is fat, however much of it we’re wearing this year, and it’s great to be able to put it out there that we ALL deserve the same respect.

Q: What’s your favorite place to buy clothing?

TJMR (That’s TJ Maxx – Marshall’s – Ross). I’ve been buying clothes at these stores for a LONG time, and have found a good selection of clothes at VERY reasonable prices in everything from my current size up to a 4X when I needed it. There’s a shopping center in L.A. that I refer to as heaven: the above-mentioned stores PLUS Nordstroms Rack, Off 5th, Target…ALL IN ONE PLACE! It’s not just fabric clothing I buy – am one of those gals with a need for shoes in a size not always easy to find – and Marshalls has been great about stocking the size I wear.

I understand that for someone my size, finding clothes is relatively easy – have shopped Macy’s, Target, etc. and there have always been items available . Friends who were much larger than I have told me how tough it can be to find nice things in sizes above 26 or 3X.

Barry Deutsch Interview

I first encountered Barry at via “Alas, a Blog“, which led me to his political cartoon site Lefty Cartoons and Twitter.

Q: How would you introduce yourself? 

I’m Barry Deutsch, a cartoonist who does graphic novels and political cartoons. I sometimes do political cartoons with fat acceptance themes (and I want to do more). I’ve been very hesitant about doing fat-acceptance political cartoons, because it’s such a personal subject for me.

Barry

Q:   Are you comfortable with the word “fat” for yourself?

Definitely!

Q:   How would you describe your body size?

I’m fat enough so that anyone looking at me would say I’m fat. I’m fat enough so that people have sometimes yelled derogatory comments about my weight from cars as they pass me.

But I’m thin enough that many of the ways society routinely exclude fat people don’t really effect me. I can get through turnstiles (occasionally with a struggle), sit in theater and airplane seats (although sometimes that’s a close thing), and once in a blue moon I find clothes that fit me in stores. I need an extension to buckle my seat belt on an airplane, but usually I don’t need an extension in a car. And I simply face less frequent and less vicious anti-fat discrimination than my fatter peers. I think Caleb Luna would describe me as having a “smaller fat body.”

Q:   How has being fat affected your life?

Well, aside from pragmatic inconveniences – difficulty finding clothes, being careful not to sit on delicate chairs, and so on – the main effect is that I’ve been taught to carry around a great deal of self-hate, which I struggle to leave behind.

Q:   How did you encounter fat lib/fat acceptance? 

I read a book questioning everything I’d been taught about fat and about weight loss diets. I’m not sure which book it was – it might have been “Big Fat Lies” by Glenn Gaesser, published in 2002, or maybe it was an earlier book that’s since been lost down the memory hole. Whatever book it was, it completely blew my mind.

Later on I had a job at Oregon State Health University, and so had daily access to a medical library. I’d haunt the stacks, reading journal articles, and I confirmed for myself that something that everyone I knew had always accepted as uncontested fact – being fat is deadly, diets work – was actually a subject of enormous controversy among researchers and experts.

Q:   What’s the worst part of being fat for you?

Having been taught to hate myself; that I am gross; that I’m not worthy of being loved.

But also, sometimes the realization that people I love are carrying around a great deal of anti-fat bigotry. I once wound up seeing a fat suit comedy with a close relative (bad idea, I know, I know). The movie was bad enough, but what was a thousand times worse was my relative sitting next to me, cracking up at every anti-fat joke. I don’t blame them – they were raised in this society too. But the memory stays fresh, many years later.

Q:   What’s the best part of being fat for you?

Finding solidarity with other fat people.

Q:   What’s your favorite place to buy clothing?

I don’t have much money, so I frequently look for clothes on ebay. I’ve splurged on a couple of t-shirts from Rage On that I love (their sizes only go up to 5x, though).

My new favorite item is suspenders with a musical note pattern, which I got from Amazon; I’ve been getting a lot of compliments when I wear them. A couple of years ago I decided to wear suspenders all the time, and I’m so glad I did – I like the line better, and I feel much more comfortable. (And, oddly enough, it’s made me more comfortable wearing body-hugging shirts than I used to be).


Thanks Barry!  If you would like to be involved, email me at living400lbs AT gmail DOT com!

New Series – Interviews

I’ve started interviewing fellow fats to include here.  But, if I’m going to ask others to do this, I thought it might be best if I did as well.  So…

Q: How would you introduce yourself?

Hi, I’m Jen. I’ve been writing here about being fat since September 2008. There are linked Twitter and Tumblr accounts: @Living400lbs and Living400lbs.tumbler.com.

In my normal life, I’ve been a software tester over 20 years, along with doing tech support, project management, and technical writing.

Q: Are you comfortable with the word “fat” for yourself?

Yes. It’s a simple descriptive word.

Q: How would you describe your body size?

I often say I’m “too fat for Lane Bryant”, since with few exceptions their clothes are too small for me. I’m about 5’8″ tall and round, often called an “apple” shape. My waist is about 65″ around when standing, 76″ around when sitting. Yes, I like elastic waists.

Q: How has being fat affected your life?

It’s just always been there. It’s what I got picked on for in school. It’s what doctors told me to change. It’s what my mother told me was wrong. It’s become a topic I’ve read a lot about, if only in self-defense.

In the day-to-day, it also affects which chairs I can sit in at restaurants. I use a seat extender in most cars. Flying is definitely uncomfortable and more expensive. So’s clothing,.

Q: How did you encounter fat lib/fat acceptance?

Via BBW Magazine in the 80s, a glossy fashion-for-fats magazine with articles on how dieting tends to lead to weight gain and many people “dieted their weight up” and only stabilized after they quit dieting.  Later I discovered UseNet and with it, various fat acceptance discussion groups.  This lead me to books like Big Fat Lies and Fat!So?.

Q: What’s the worst part of being fat for you?

Trying to get medical personnel to focus on the reason I’m there, and not that I’m fat. (It’s not like just woke up this way today.)

Q: What’s the best part of being fat for you?

As I accepted that I would probably stay fat, I became less afraid of being the odd one one in other ways, which helped me deal with criticism for majoring in computer science.  I’ve been able to work on cool software and, incidentally, make a good living because I stood up to peers telling me computer science was “icky”.

Q: What’s your favorite place to buy clothing?

Most of my wardrobe is from On The Plus Side (formerly Making It Big) either directly or secondhand on eBay. I have items I bought in the 90s that still fit, and their stock is mostly made in the US.  I also love Torrid t-shirts, though they don’t last as well. But … A “The Dark Side Made Me Do It” shirt! “Be Nice Or Go Away” shirt! “But First, Coffee!”  I doubt their more fitted stuff would fit me well, but the tshirts are my friends. 


Anyway, that’s the first interview! If you would like to be involved, email me at living400lbs AT gmail DOT com!

It came from the search terms

In the tradition of Captain Awkward I’m going to treat the search terms people used to find the site as questions.

im 400lbs is it too late for me to get healthy? 

This is completely up to you and to how you view health. If you are sedentary, you can probably be more active, and ideally have fun with it.  Depending on how you eat, you may want to add more veggies or whatever makes your body feel better – The Fat Nutritionist may be able to help with that as well. Research has found that focusing on eating healthy foods and being active can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol as well as psychological benefits. This is called a “Health At Every Size” approach, and focuses on improving health. 

If you mean thinner, then that’s a different question. Medicare’s Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer (PDF) by UCLA reviews 31 studies on diets and recommended that Medicare not cover diet programs because they are not effective enough to be worth Medicare coverage.

350lb flying cross country?

OK. That sounds like a lot of time to sit still. It’s probably going to be uncomfortable. 

if i weigh 450 pounds do i need an extra airline seat? 

Very likely. Airlines have some choice on how many seats they squeeze into a plane. Seat Guru has information on seat sizes by plane and airline so you can check. One method is to check the size of the seat, then measure chairs to see what the airline seats will be like.  Note the “pitch” is the distance between seats, and affects how much legroom there is. 

If you do need an additional seat, you will probably have to call the airline to make the reservation, and the airline will probably warn you the seats may not be together. Yes, this is a problem.  

More on this: 

what can a fat person spray on body to prevent yeast?

I have mostly rely on baby powder (cornstarch) to prevent chafing and yeast infections under my belly. Anti-jock itch spray like Lotramin can work as well.  Lately I’ve been experimenting with Fresh Breasts lotion, which dries as a powder.  This can be easier to apply than a powder.