Saturday, February 28, 2009


The week has gone by pretty good. I've done pretty good on eating. Still taking the fluid pill, which has made a tremendous difference. I have feet! I mean really knobby feet with bones that can be felt. I've even noticed that the little bone which sticks out on the side of your ankle actually hurts because the bone itself is resting on the bed - not a fluid pillow like usual.

Tuesday will tell the tale.

Something to think about - almost all drive thrus have a side salad as an option to fries now. BUT, what I've discovered is that they are all iceberg lettuce with either a small tomato wedge or a couple of grape tomatoes. Iceberg has no nutritional value at all, and from a fast food restaurant, the produce has been chemically treated to keep it from changing colors. Neither of these are acceptable options if you're watching what you eat.

I did notice that Captain D's has romaine lettuce in their side salad. AND, they must not be treated because I didn't get stomach cramps after eating them, and the extra one in the fridge went bad the next day. So, they may be a better choice.

What I've discovered is that by buying romaine, cucumbers, baby carrots and grape tomatoes, washing everything when I get home, chopping the lettuce and cucs into ziplocs - I can put a salad together in about 2 minutes that is far better for me. If I make it easier for me at home, I'll put the food together instead of opting for the ease of the drive thru.

Have you ever noticed that the rise in obesity in this country is directly related to the rise in which fast food and drive thru windows became available? We call it 'death in a paper bag'! Think about it!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Labels, Labels, Labels

Reading the labels may be the very best way to take control of what you eat. Assuming something is healthier because of a few key words may be the biggest mistake you ever make in food choices.


I love frozen waffles. Pop a couple in the toaster and I'm good. I don't even use syrup - they are usually somewhat sweet and I don't like the mess of syrup. Last week I picked up a box of frozen waffles in the multi-grain flavor. I assumed they would have whole grains which had to be good for me. What I didn't realize is that 2 waffles had 460 mg of sodium!!! Now, if you are on sodium restricted diet that is 1/4 of your daily allowance! I don't want to give up that much sodium for that breakfast - not when I could have an egg, turkey bacon and a piece of toast for less!

SO, I decided to check out the label on the box of Velveeta shells and cheese we had that was made with 2% milk, marketed as low fat! One cup - 980 mg of sodium! No way am I wasting 1/2 of my daily allowance on 1 cup of mac and cheese.

So beware - things marketed as low fat, no fat, etc. have to be making up for taste somewhere and it's either going to be in sugar or sodium. Know what YOUR primary dietary needs are and cater to them, but read the labels on EVERYTHING!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


This website has a lot of great information about heart disease, all the different types, meds, food options- a list of foods to eat for heart health - it's a wealth of information . I highly recommend checking it out.

I went over to the Biggest Loser site and thought I would sign up - but I was disturbed to see that it is not free. One month is $19.98 and you can get three months for $55.00. It's not worth it to me. I do enjoy the show, but, I can't see paying.

Weight Watchers has a good site - lots of tips, recipes, etc.

I also went to Amazon and Borders and searching for heart healthy cookbooks. There are a great number of options - I'm ordering one that is heart healthy recipes for two - I figure since I'm about to be living alone that will work for me.

BUT - you do not have to change everything you cook - just the ways you fix some things. Tweaking your own recipes can be a lot of fun and a good way to keep your favorites in your meal plan, just making them more heart healthy.

Big Tip: Don't use self rising flour or cornmeal. Start with the plain, add the baking soda or powder as directed and either none of only 1/2 of the salt. The self rising style has a truckload of salt in it - so you will save tremendous sodium from your body by this one simple step.

My own update today: I have ankles! For the first time in a while I could actually touch my toes today and there was space between them to move around - the top of my foot did not look like a big spaceship bubble and I could feel the bones or metal plates! It was much easier to stand up this morning too!! YEAH!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Eating Plan

When I left the doctor's office on February 3rd, I was disturbed, highly disturbed. What have I done to myself?

I know exactly what I've done, I've eat whatever, whenever, without any regard to what it was or how it might be affecting me. And, I've justified that I wasn't doing too bad with some said excuses that I don't smoke, don't drink, don't use drugs, etc. But, my habits have been atrocious and now the piper is here to be paid!

I know what to do - and how to do it. The chore is to make myself do the right thing and do it everyday without excuses.

So, when I got groceries this week - this was my shopping list:

Total Raisin Bran
Skim Milk
Green Onions
Roast Beef
Whole Grain Bread
Whole Grain Eggos
Whole Grain Tostitos
Mac & Cheese

Not too much of a list - but I had boneless skinless chicken breast in the freezer. I'd planned cereal or waffles for breakfast, with fruit or fruit as a snack, a sandwich with chips and salsa for lunch, chicken and salad for supper with the mac and cheese primarily for the kids, but that I would have a small serving.

It hasn't been bad - I've actually stayed with the plan about 8 days. This weekend I'll have to get groceries again. I have avoided fast food except for one meal. I did have a chicken plate from Habib's - rice, grilled chicken and a greek salad with a pita - a major fat free healthy meal.

I've had three cups of coffee this week and one diet coke!! Otherwise, I've drank water.

And I've pee'd my brains out! I can tell a great big difference already in just how I move, etc. I go back to see the doctor on March 3. I will weigh that day and update my progress. In the meantime, I will share some heart healthy eating tips I'm finding and other encouragement for anybody out there facing a similar fate.

Take control! You can do it!!

The Results

Yesterday before 11 AM the doctor's office was on the phone to me. The first conversation was with the office person - to double my blood pressure and diuretic and triple my Coumadin!

The second call was to be give them the correct pharmacy number to call in new prescriptions, since I would need refills way faster than the insurance was going to cover.

The third call was to confirm everything regarding the prescriptions, the fourth call was the doctor!

He was careful with how he began speaking, but when I didn't wig out on him, he relaxed and we had a great conversation.

My heart is enlarged - and in that muscle being extended past regular size, the valves cannot function like they should, therefore the leakage. There are two valves leaking, not enough to cause great concern at this point, but definiately something to monitor. There is also tremendous pressure within my lungs - pulmonary hypertension. That he thinks is primarily attibutable to the tremendous amount of fluid build up in my body.

Now, most people in heart failure have a problem where their heart does not squeeze properly. My heart squeezes fine, it's the relaxing beat that I'm not doing properly. He also said that for the folks who need help pumping, there are 4-5 medicines they can prescribe. But, for the folks whose heart don't relax, they don't know a lot or have many options.

The best options for me right now are to continue to try and get the fluid off, rest as much as I want or need to, and try to lose as much other weight as possible.

I did ask if there was any evidence that I'd had a heart attack and while the echogram is not definitive, there is no evidence that I have any dead heart tissue, which is a good sign!

More on my new way of trying to eat next post!

Weight Gain and the Echogram

From the time I first saw the doctor in October - about two weeks after the class reunion pictures I've posted to this blog - when I was at 550 lbs - I had gained 50 pounds in 4 months!!

I'm sure my eating habits were deplorable during this time, but I didn't do a lot of cooking thru the holidays! This year, I didn't make one single sweet thing except a batch of Lynn's cookies - and I didn't eat but one of those! No cakes, no peanut butter balls, no chess squares, nothing!

The obviously unbelievable weight gain prompted the doctor to order the echogram. I was scared to go for that test because I didn't know what to expect. Tuesday morning I woke up at 3:00 AM and never did go back to sleep. Renee was taking me, so we left here about 7 AM for my 7:30 appointment.

The tech who did the testing was really nice and tried not to make my fear any worse. The worst part of it all was getting this body up on the table and in position. I haven't laid down to sleep for a couple of years now, for the test I had to lay on my left side. But, she had a pillow for my head and I was actually not uncomfortable. It took about 30 minutes to do the test.

I tried looking at the screen - now I don't know too much - but when she said she was looking at the valves, I could tell the bright colors which indicate blood were not all where they should have been. And, when she said she was listening to the blood flow thru the valves, I could hear the little 'whoosh' you don't want to hear. At that point, I quit watching and just lay there.

The good part was she said she was getting some really great pictures!

Ground Zero

I decided, after two pretty intense weeks of medical intervention, etc., to blog about my pathway to a healthier life which actually began February 3.

On that date I had an appointment with my new primary care provider. It was the second time I'd seen him, since I'd cancelled two or three appointments. BUT, I felt so damn bad there was just no choice but to go. Either go see him or go to the ER, which I had contemplated several times over the last two weeks prior to the visit. Or, maybe end up at the funeral home, which I thought might be a real possibility if something didn't change.

I could tell I was chug full of fluid, my legs were so tight they looked like they might burst, and my thighs had several places where fluid just leaked out. My joints were so stiff I could hardly move and breathing was a chore. All I wanted to do was sit in bed!

So, no holding back. I told him everything, how I felt, how bad it hurt to try to move, how I couldn't breathe, how tired I was. He changed some of my meds, put me back on a blood pressure medicine, changed my fluid pill, and ordered an echogram of my heart to see "if there was anything going on there we needed to know about".

The worst part of the visit was getting weighed. Not an easy task because I was in a wheelchair that I could barely get in and out of so they rolled me upon to the portable scale. According to it, and allowing for the wheelchair, my weight was an unbelievable 601 pounds!

I must say that the tears came at that point, not a sob, not a wail, but tears, lots of them, just streaming. How in God's name have I let myself get to this point? How does a woman who is not stupid by any means, who gives and gives to others, helps everyone she can, works hard and trys to be a good person, how does this person let herself go to reach this unbelievable point of self destruction?

And, the epiphany came on the heels of that. I've taken care of everybody else for so long, it didn't start with my husband, it was many years before that that I'd shouldered more responsibility than I should have. Now, my parents are gone, God rest their souls. I'm no longer married and my kids are grown. It is time for Lisa to put Lisa first and not feel anything but good about it.

My journey to a healthier life began with that realization, it really is okay to put yourself first!