Krissie: Good Wolf/Bad Wolf

Photo on 11-15-13 at 10.22 AM 241.2 which is up .1 pound, which makes me happy because it means I’m actually going down. Well, I know I am. Main problem seems to be dizziness at night, and at other times of the day, which I assume is some form of hypoglycemia, so I need to push the protein. but I think I’ve had enough.
Yesterday — oatmeal with raspberries and brown sugar splenda. lunch – grilled chicken snack wrap at McD’s with limited bbq sauce. It’s one of the few non-fried, low calorie offerings at McD and I was on my way to the shrink at 1 and hadn’t eaten yet (I ate the oatmeal when I got home). Dinner was cajun catfish, roast cauliflower and quinoa. Plus grapes. Now shouldn’t that have been enough protein? Oh, I had a cup of oyster crackers too (5 oz. cup). Seems reasonable.

But I was really taken with Barbara’s Move It post on Wednesday — if you missed it go back and read it. She talked about listening to your body.
My body and I have a strange relationship. It betrayed me in the most fundamental way a body can betray a woman. I adored children, loved babysitting, wanted nothing more than half a dozen children (you can tell in my books — it’s often part of the epilogues – don’t hit me Jenny – of the ones I write). When I was in my late twenties I somehow knew I was going to have trouble conceiving. I never thought that I simply wouldn’t be able to.
We went through all sorts of things and procedures (though it was too early for IVF if you didn’t have tubal issues and my fallopians were just fine — it was my uterus and cervix that were screwy). And one cycle I got pregnant. I knew it immediately. Of course I got my period, thought it was late and I’m never late. And of course, no tests, no proof. But with approximately … 468 periods in my life (from 10 to 46) I knew if one single one felt different. (Actually there was a second one but I tried to ignore it since I’d been so shattered the first time).

And I’ve been terrified of cancer, but I suddenly got the sense that if I had cancer I would be fine. I would fight it and recover and be great. But I don’t know if those are listening to your body or part of an intermittent psychic ability (I’ve known certain bad things would happen, etc.).

I remember in my early thirties a friend was shocked that I couldn’t tell what my body was telling me. But I can’t. If I hurt I’m afraid I’m going to die, depending on my state of mind. I remember one day when I was depressed I was sure I had breast cancer (it was a long time ago — I have no idea why). I checked my breasts 4 times that day. (Almost as often as I checked my breasts the one cycle I was pregnant, and yes,the girls were very different when I was pregnant).

I went through a series of dizzy spells a few years ago, saw the heart specialist and had all sorts of tests and was convinced, absolutely convinced that something was terribly wrong. A little voice kept telling me that (or I kept telling me that). Turns out it was incredibly stupid — I couldn’t sing in the choir with bifocals. I couldn’t read music and look up and then down and then up with the lineless bifocals.

With the cyst that became borderline cancerous — sometimes I was panicky, but my doctor kept saying it was nothing, so I put it out of my mind and prepared to ignore it. It took almost seven years to suddenly become dangerous, but I was ready to cancel the appointment that sent the new doctor into overdrive, and I might have ignored it until it was too late (I’d already asked my regular doctor to do the gyn stuff and she said no, I needed a specialist). I got told so often (not by the new doctor) that it was nothing that I believed it.

Then we come to my knees. They’re weird. They’re fucked. Barbara had this great things where the Bad Wolf tells her “you’re too fat, that’s why your knees hurt, if you just lose weight everything will feel better” (or maybe that’s what my bad wolf says, but her BW and my BW are BFFs ) And I tell myself why get my knees replaced when my back hurts and my sciatic nerve hurts and my feet hurt? I should lose weight, and then maybe the other stuff will get better and it’ll make all that pain and rehab worthwhile. But it’s like waiting for your life to start until you lose weight. Your life is now (sez my Good Wolf).

And then, there’s my gut. I was terrified to have a colonoscopy because I was sure something dark and evil was lurking up there (mainly because I have irritable bowel syndrome so nothing is ever normal). And I was fine! A tiny polyp that they almost didn’t see.
But I’m feeling bloated, and I have a chronic ache from adhesions following the hysterectomy, but all sorts of other strange feelings going on. They told me to call if anything felt off (I’m down to two visits a year in follow up) but my CA125 was normal and they didn’t feel anything and I don’t know what my fucking body is telling me.  I feel dizzy and I think I’m dying.

I know I make myself sick when I push too hard. I know stress makes me sick (I’m pushing too hard and stressed right now). I just wish I could close my eyes and listen and know what my body is telling me.

But as I said at the beginning, and should have gotten over by now, my body betrayed me. Every month the blood of my dead babies washed away. Maybe I’m trying to punish it back?

I want to walk. Hell, I want to dance, at least a little bit. But another part is that I’ve done this to my knees by eating, and part of me wants to punish myself for it.

Good God, I am totally fucked when it comes to my body, aren’t I? And yet I can look at myself and think I’m gorgeous (sometimes). And yet I could never ever say I’m pretty (another really loaded word).

Well, now I feel totally nuts, dumping all this. But Barbara’s post really got me thinking, and clearly this is a huge area I have to work on, because it’s a real psychic and emotional tangle once I open Pandora’s Box.

Any suggestions on how to go about working on it? (and no, that’s not the blogger’s question to get comments, that’s me needing help).

29 thoughts on “Krissie: Good Wolf/Bad Wolf

  1. Jenny says:

    I think I take my body for granted. I live so much in my mind, that my body becomes the-thing-that-carries-my-mind-around. I’m always surprised when something goes wrong–diabetes, the eye thing, cancer thirty years ago–the same way I’m surprised when something goes off in my car. In both cases, the machines run really well, so when they go wrong, there is that sense of betrayal you talk about.

    I think the key is slow change. I think I should do five miles of walking every day (have to find where I put the bra that had the fitbit on it), but if I walked a couple of blocks a day, that would be better than nothing. I needed to radically change my diet for the diabetes, but it was so radical that I slipped back, except that it really is better now with very little sugar, reduced carbs. It’s not ideal, but it’s progress.

    So I think it’s the baby steps approach. You should be out there running up and down the road, but instead you figure out how far you can walk before your knees betray you and you do that. You want to lose fifty pounds, but you concentrate on five, and you get those off and you maintain them, and then you try for the next five.

    I think too often we set goals that aren’t necessarily unreasonable but that are still too much for us to handle and that breaking those goals down into bite-sized pieces gives us both a sense of accomplishment and real progress, both of which stop us from beating up on ourself for not doing better. Small goals tell us we’re doing fine, good for us.

  2. JenniferNennifer says:

    Please don’t feel nuts for “dumping” here. Everyone has body issues, and when you share, you create a space for others to examine their own, or share their successes. Both are good.

    What I really fixated on from your post is your feeling that your body betrayed you. I don’t see how you could ever get reliable information from an entity you relate to in that way.

    You can’t trust something you feel betrayed you.
    You can’t work with something you can’t trust.

    Given your generous and forgiving spirit toward others, if you could do this by yourself, you would have done so by now. I respectfully suggest that the two of you need a mediator to resolve your issues. Can your shrink be that person? or refer you to someone?

    In the mean time, sending love and support

  3. Jenny is definitely onto something. Realistic goals are best. At this point, I’m happy to maintain my weight. So long as I don’t go up, then I’m okay. I will eventually go down. I’ve done it before. Just need to wrap my head around it.

    Seems to me that until you deal with the deep seated issues with your body, this roller coaster will continue. Of course, I have no idea how one deals with and gets past this sort of thing. I would guess your therapist is a good place to start.

  4. As one who has hypoglycemia…you need to eat more vegetables. Just sayin’. And nix the refined carbs (starches: oatmeal, crackers, bun). I get one serving of starch a day. That’s one piece of bread OR 1/4 cup of rice, etc. You would have had enough protein if you’d had some for breakfast too.

  5. I take it back. I looked it up. There is protein in oatmeal (6 grams in a cup of cooked). But, at least for me, the carb numbers are too high: 23 grams (that includes decreasing by the amount of fibre). That’s more than in a piece of white bread (15 grams) so over my allocation.

  6. Carol says:

    This is so smart, and something that I’m really trying to adopt right now. Because if I think about the total amount of weight I need to lose, well, it’s overwhelming and will take so long (never mind that it didn’t all pile on overnight) that it’s paralyzing. So I’m only concentrating on the next 5 pounds. And after that I’ll work on the next 5. Bird by bird.

  7. Kathleen G.S. says:

    It sounds as if the messages you are hearing about your body are coming from your psyche, not your actual body. The psyche screams are so loud and urgent that your poor, neglected body probably can’t make itself heard.

    I also had a very distant relationship to my body. I have been working for two years with a “body wisdom” yoga instructor. She isn’t teaching me the poses; we are simply trying to get me to able to focus on my body as a “here and now.”

    It isn’t about fitness or health; it is learning a different way to celebrate and live in the physical clay.

  8. I have to do things that way, too. If I look at the entirety of what I need to change, it overwhelms me and I freeze up (because freezing and hiding are my go-to responses to anything threatening or overly challenging).

    Accomplishment leads to confidence leads to accomplishment.

  9. Carol says:

    It was an excellent post. I do much the same thing, I listen to what my body is saying and go to the doctor saying “Something is wrong.” That’s how hypo-thryoidism was discovered. The year between 53/54, I thought I might die of a heart attack like my father and my brother. Didn’t happen, but I sure was afraid for almost a year. All kinds of heart tests said “fine” until this year. High blood pressure.

    So it’s eating healthy foods, more vegs, little to zero sugar, ditch the white stuff, and that dreadful word – exercise which is the key for me.

    Have you tried lymph drainage massages? It really worked for me. Got rid of a lot of edema and the build up over twenty some years. It is not a deep massage, it is like being stroked or kneaded in some areas. Had my monthly maintenance lymph massage

  10. I agree with what JenniferNennifer said: you can’t have a good relationship with someone you don’t trust. You need to forgive your body and reestablish trust so you can listen to it.

    I’m like Jenny: I generally consider my body as the vehicle that carries my brain around because I spend so much time inside my mind. It’s not balanced and leads to a variety of problems. Like my recent spate of (mostly emotionally induced) sweets binge during which I’ve put on some of the weight I’d lost. So when I suggested to myself that I needed a sweet after breakfast, I took stock and decided that my oatmeal with dried cranberries and slivered almonds had made me full and contented, so no, I didn’t need a sweet at all. Now I just need to keep remembering to do that. And to reach for one or two of the mandarin oranges on the counter instead of a cookie.

    And Krissie? I also immediately jump to the cancer/some big, bad thing when I feel unwell or have issues that I cannot immediately figure out the cause of!

  11. H says:

    This might be totally unrelated (or might not, I’ll see if I can make sense of it) — I keep watching this JCVD splits video today – the one where he does the splits from the top of two Volvo semis that are backing down the road. Have you watched it already? No? Ok, here’s the link – go watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7FIvfx5J10

    That’s sort of an extreme example of someone who trusts their body, but JCVD is bi-polar and 53, and I’m betting a lot of things hurt when he gets up in the morning. He says his body is crafted to perfection and he has the mindset to manage epic splits. He’s got the ego to match, of course, but I like how he makes the connection clear.

    I know, as an introvert, that I get lost in my head. And if I don’t spend enough time moving I lose touch with my body. You have to have both. Even if one or the other fails you, they work better together.

    I know JCVD didn’t start out doing epic splits, either. I’m pretty sure he worked up to that in small, smart steps. No one leaps onto two semis and says “back it up, boys! I’m ready to try moving splits!” I’m guessing he worked on the split on solid ground, then up on risers, and then higher risers with lots of padding underneath, and so on and so forth…

    Small steps. Have faith. Keeping moving forward, and it’ll come together. And if your knees eventually need surgical help to get you where you want to be, that’s not a comment on your weight or anything else. Just evidence of a well-lived life. 🙂

  12. Caryn says:

    In case it’s useful, my wobbliness (not dizzy, just off balance) is fixed by drinking lots of fluid. I’m currently healing from two (2!!!) rear enders in the last month, complete with a concussion from the first, and only drinking lots lets me not feel like paste on toast. I’ve had vertigo, and this isn’t it.

    Anyway, are you drinking “enough”?

    Best wishes.

  13. I had a similar experience after being rear-ended. I didn’t realize dizziness could be so debilitating until then. It turned out for me that my vagus nerve had been twanged and the 2 things that helped prevent dizziness were lots of water and decent rest.

  14. One of the first times I really thought about the mind-body connection in any depth was while reading Bill Moyer’s Healing and the Mind. It’s been awhile since I read it, but there were a couple of images that have stuck with me: one featured work with cancer patients on the mind-body connection where people were led through simple tasks like slowly eating a raisin as a way to fully engage a person’s complete concentration in a specific moment. Another had to do with how yoga was used as a healing tool. It brought to mind something a PE teacher told me when trying to help me learn a couple of gymnastics moves, only in a completely different light: where the head goes, the body goes.

    I got a few things out of the book: one of them is the opinion that Americans have a very strange relationship with food. It’s almost like we resent the fact that we have to take any time out of our lives to prepare and eat it, so eating isn’t something we enjoy to the extent other cultures enjoy food. Of the many consequences of this attitude is that one of the few times that we’re completely mindful of what we’re eating is when we’re trying to lose weight and basically focusing on all we can’t do/have, which only further enforces our negative feelings. Though I’ve never actually tried this, I’m halfway convinced that if we told ourselves we could eat whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it with the only rule being that we have to be completely mindful about it – eat slowly, truly savor the flavors and the experience, memorize as many things about the moment as possible, allow no tv or books or smartphone distractions – many weight issues would solve themselves.

    Another thing I got is that, in the western world, we’ve more or less divorced the mind from the body and it’s been this way for generations. It’s very hard to overcome a lifetime (several lifetimes) of cultural and personal cues and re-connect those things if we don’t make a concerted and constant effort to do so.

    For myself, I’m as bad as most when it comes to this disconnect. The thing is, in those (temporary) moments where I know that connection is in place, those are the times I feel my absolute best. There is an energetic buzz in the body accompanied by a calmness in the mind that is impossible to describe. It’s a mystery to me how I can KNOW something feels utterly right and fantastic and meant to be, yet I STILL don’t consistently work on making it happen.

    Maybe you can start with some small experiments and see if you can get your mind and body to a place of at least limited detante so they can start communicating with one another. Pick one meal a day and deliberately add 5-10 minutes to how long you usually take to eat and really concentrate on it. Plan 15 minutes that are completely yours with no interruptions to sit at a window and watch the outdoors. Sit down, close your eyes, and listen to a favorite song and ONLY listen to that song – don’t let your mind wander to memories about the first or last time you heard it, etc. Float in a pool for a few minutes and allow your mind to only track the sounds of your breath and your heartbeat and not go off onto other things. You get the idea – do something calm and deliberate, something you generally enjoy anyway, and do only that thing. Devote a few minutes to it every day and see how it goes. (Don’t allow yourself to feel silly and don’t give up if it takes a few times before you learn the trick of slowing down your mind. Your mind and body haven’t been on speaking terms for awhile, it’s bound to be a little challenging to get a decent conversation going again.)

  15. Kelly S says:

    I’m wondering if thoughts are backwards about the knees. I’ve read here that people are wanting to lose weight prior to knee surgery but I’m wondering if knee surgery would enable the weight loss by making it less painful to move. Fixing that one part may cause a domino effect of the rest of the ailments.

    Also, eat within an hour from getting up. Make sure there is protein in it. Stop eating 2-3 hours before going to sleep, if possible. If not, again eat lean protein as your body uses protein while you sleep to build and repair muscle. The most practical nutritionist I have found (Zonya, a Midwesterner), suggests the a person eat a serving of fruit or vegetable any time they eat. Want a cookie, must eat an apple too. A handful of goldfish crackers must eat some baby carrots too. A bite size snickers leftover from Halloween, an orange as well. It makes a person think, am I eating because I’m hungry or is it something else. It also increases a person’s fruit & veggie intake.

  16. H — that was incredible! That’s a body trust beyond anything I can imagine having. I can’t even walk up stairs without watching where I put my feet!

  17. German Chocolate Betty says:

    Oh, I like this idea. I have finally discovered a grocery store chain here in Germany that has baby carrots, so I have bought some and try to nibble on those during work rather than other, less healthy, stuff… Eating a couple of carrots whenever I have a hankering for something less healthy would be a painless way to do it.

    (Also, I have found that seedless grapes satisfy my nibble urge too. They’re sort of like healthy M&Ms — or goldfish — because they’re small and satisfy the “handful of something” feeling…)

  18. Carla says:

    There are days I just want to reach throught the internet and hug you. 🙂

    I’ve had 3 miscarriages. One I didn’t know about until it was too late; the second was gone before I could wrap my brain around being pregnant; the third I had for 2 weeks before it was gone. (I’d love to know what karma found that insensitive gyn’s office nurse. I told her I was prone to these things, but did she listen? Nooooo…) It takes the heart time to recover; some more than others, but in the end you have to let them go, or you’re not “releasing their souls” (or whatever spiritual term you choose) to go out and try again. It’s as much for your good as theirs. Those spirits weren’t meant to be with you, or maybe they were and they came back to you in different forms (a stray dog you took home; a bird that landed on your windowsill and made you smile), but for now you need to release them. With my third mis, I had a dream that my grandparents were holding my baby girl, promising me they’d take good care of her. That was the moment I healed. (I still see a yellow blanket and so much dark hair.)

    As for your knees, you need to do both: lose weight and get them fixed. I dropped 50 pounds and my back doesn’t hurt, my knees are SO much better; once in a while I marvel at being able to walk normally. For every pound you lose, you take 4 pounds of stress off your knees, feet and ankles. I’m still fighting with the last 40 pounds, but I’m pretty sure once it’s gone, I’ll be able to fly. 🙂 But if you take off the weight first, it’ll make recovering from knee surgery (if you still need it) that much easier.

    But more than anything, do take care of yourself because we love you so!! 🙂

  19. The baby steps idea I’d great, but the place I’d start is to start giving your body serious lovin’. Touch it, thank it. Thank it for carrying you around in the world, giving you pleasure, cradling your brain so you can write. Put your hands on it and tell it thank you, every time you have one of those punishing thoughts. Tell it you are sorry for hurting it. Love it some more, thank it so more. Every day.

    It didn’t betray you, of course. A body, every body, has inherent powers and flaws.

    Anyway, I’d start with the mental part of the process. And daily kindness.

  20. Doesn’t the quality of the carbohydrate make a difference? I understand oatmeal is slow-release, complex carbohydrate, like wholemeal bread or brown rice. Much more valuable nutritionally than white bread/flour/rice, etc., which convert to sugar really fast.

  21. It really depends on how close you’re watching the blood sugar as to whether oatmeal is okay to eat. I have insulin resistance (it’s tied in with the hypoglycemia) so it’s not something I eat anymore. According to this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17093157 it really isn’t all that slow-release. It comes out with a GI of 74. So, it’s better than white bread and white rice but not as good as an egg, which has a GI of 0.

  22. I was thinking that was some trust in those drivers which I was actually more impressed with than JCVD’s splits. Yes, it was impressive, but those drivers were backing up the whole way. Wow!

  23. I totally agree with this. Your body acted exactly as needed to so that you could get the children you were supposed to have.

    You need to love your body as it is. It is a fabulous creation that houses your fabulous mind, heart and soul. It does an incredible job.

  24. I just read Saturday’s Daily word and this sentence stuck out for me.

    “I can effect change by taking action. I set my intention and allow the presence of the Divine to guide my way.”

  25. Micki says:

    So many good comments upthread.

    I neglect my body horribly, like many here. But when it responds with pain or heaviness, I don’t have the heart to resent it. I feel so sorry for it, that I haven’t been the good caretaker that I should have been. And I clean up my act . . . for a few days, anyway.

    My body is almost like a dog, in a way. You know cats — you can leave them be for hours, and they take care of themselves. Feed ’em, and if it gets cold, they’ll come up to cuddle with you. Smother them with attention and they’ll often wind up in a high place where nobody can reach. But dogs? They need walks and attention and lots of love. They love us, but they can’t tell us in words what they need. We have to either go with our guts, or read lots of books about dogs in order to have a clue what to do this them.

    My doctor wants to order some more tests because I might have an enlarged spleen. No hurry, no emergency, but still a wake-up call. I need to start taking the bod out on walks, stop feeding it ice cream before dinner, start feeding it better quality chow. More lemonade, and this is where the dog analogy breaks down completely (-:. But . . . yeah. The body is often compared to a temple, and I get that — but I don’t keep my house clean either. I need to treat my body more like a puppy who needs some training, needs some love.

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