Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pain, Arthritis, Sugar - and other random thoughts

I'm sitting at my desk, working (and blogging, shhhhh!), and my iTunes is crooning out Minnie Driver, Grant Lee Phillips, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan.... yep - it's that kind of day. I'm listening to my "Everything hurts and I need to be peaceful in order to function" playlist. If you've read my blog for long, you know that I have arthritis. I have good days, I have bad days. Today is a bad day. A very, very bad day. Ugh.

I don't like talking about it much, because I'd rather focus on the positive, on the things I can do as opposed to what I can't. And, to be honest, I hate to sound like I'm whining. But I also know that many of you struggle with daily pain, too, and I hope that by occasionally addressing it, I can encourage you to push on. It's not easy, I know. There are days when I can't even raise my arms to 90 degrees, or tolerate weight on my right leg. Days when I feel so brittle, I expect to shatter. Days when I just want an endless supply of pain killers and a dark room. I don't get it, but boy, I sure want it! lol. While I will not be visiting the gym today (that's just asking for injury - can't you see me dropping a weight on my foot - or someone else's - because I stubbornly try to raise it?), I am up, at work, eating clean and pushing on. Sometimes that's as good as it gets.

There are a lot of times, when I am flared, that I can still hit the gym - get in my cardio or a workout. It's imperative that I do - to be prepared for the days when I can't. It's also imperative that I keep my diet clean and low-sugar. The correlations between sugar and inflammation and chronic pain are undeniable, and just more motivation to limit those added sugars permanently. It was ironic to me that when we met with the veterinary oncologist for my dog (Lymphoma), she warned us to make sure Nakki has NO sugar in her diet as cancer feeds on sugar. I wish more human-care doctors would point this out to patients.

Tosca Reno is pushing a fabulous Sugar Strike this month... if you haven't checked it out, please do so. She and the Eat Clean Diet team also offer fabulous helpful tools to beat sugar/sweet cravings. And if you participate in the contest, you stand to win some cool prizes. And prizes are always awesome ;-)

Cutting out, or even reducing, added sugars in your diet can make such a huge difference. Apart from weight loss benefits, you'll experience lowered inflammation, clearer skin, sharper mental focus, and so much more. Click on the picture here of Tosca to learn more about the Strike Sugar contest.

I know beyond any doubt that without my Clean Eating lifestyle, I'd have a whole lot more bad days. There are so many things I have no control over, but what goes in my mouth is one I can absolutely take charge of. If you need examples of what clean eating looks like, check out my Daily Coolers on my website... I post photos of what's in my cooler and various meals, and list all my food for the day. Solid nutrition is crucial to dealing with chronic pain. I shudder to think of how much worse my condition could be.

So, I'll chill today. Get my work done. Ice my joints. Drink my water. Eat my clean food. Listen to my low-key tunes, lol. And hope that tomorrow brings less pain.

And now to completely change the subject ;-)
Many of you have asked me, "When is The Big Reveal??" - my new post-surgery body. Here's a peek at my new tummy - actually, that's not entirely accurate - it's still my tummy, just minus a TON of loose skin. I know this isn't a great photo, and I'll get a better one soon. It's really cool, especially in the mornings, I can SEE my abdominals! Woot! (unfortunately, this pic was taken in the afternoon). And my obliques are starting to pop back out, too! And look - I have a belly button! LOL! Hahaha! Next time I hit the stage, there will be no gluing my loose skin into my suit. Yay!!
And just cuz I'm obnoxious like this... I want to reiterate that I had surgery only AFTER I had done everything in my power to change my body. EVERYTHING. And maintained it. For years. Surgery was not, and should never be, a shortcut. Clean eating, hard work, and consistency will take you far - very, very far. Sometimes though, we're left with (haha) leftovers. In my case it was a significant amount of loose skin in my belly area. Surgery was (again, I say) not a shortcut. I did the work, the doctor simply made it visible. And now I'll step off the soapbox. ;-) For now. LOL!

Happy Wednesday Folks!!


  1. Hey Chelle!!! Thanks for sharing your after photo and I'm hoping in the near future you'll also post about your complete experience, especially the recovery. You look's so flat and smooth!!
    You worked and continue to work really hard and I'm happy that your surgery went well and your got great results! Well deserved!

    This is so timely, I recently had my 1st Dr. consultation and going for a 2nd and more if I feel it's necessary. I have a very similar story to yours. I too have been eating clean and working out consistently for years, 5 to be specific, and lost all the weight but am dealing with the loose skin on my abs. My biggest concern is the recovery time and not being able to work out for 6 or more weeks. I wonder even after that time if you ever or how soon you get back to the levels that you were at before surgery. I worry about the bloating/swelling too. I wonder how specifically your doing with those issues????

    BTW, my first consultation the recommendation was a TT and the total costs were $10,200. My abs are tight and there would be very little "tightening" surgery would be mainly skin removal. No lipo either.

    Any insight you're willing to share would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Lori!
      The recovery time was difficult for me, not because of pain (though I did overdo it and paid the price), but because of the inactivity. I got the "skin crawling" antsy gotta-move thing, and man it made me nuts! My hubby was awesome about it, and was willing to simply drive me around town for an hour or so until I could face returning home. Lol. It helped though, seriously. Not working out was hard, and I mean HARD, but the sheer cabin-fever was the worst for me. There were times I couldn't sleep because of it. No fun.
      I was able to return to light cardio at 4 weeks post surgery, and at 6 weeks was released to start easing back into my routine.
      The swelling - I think it depends on each individual body, along with how closely you follow orders and take care of yourself. By 6 weeks, I was comfortably back in all my own clothes. I still had a tiny bit of swelling, but it was gone over the next couple weeks.
      My recommendations are to focus on your nutrition - this is the supplementation I took throughout the pre and post surgery weeks:
      Drink TONS of water, keep sodium low, sugar low, and protein up so that you don't lose precious muscle while you're inactive.
      Got more questions? Hit me! ;-)

  2. Thanks for your answers. Are you happy that you did it and is it really worth the investment, recover & gap of time you can't workout vs. learning to live with the skin(I probably have the same amount you did...I'm petite too 5'4", 115 lbs, size 4 or 6 depending on the brand). That's where I'm with in my decision making. Also, I'm pushing 50 and it's not about wearing a bikini, more to look & feel my personal best and this is one area I'm to the point no matter what I do the skin won't tighten and the fat is all gone. Thanks for your insight!

    1. I am beyond happy I did it. It was worth every penny, every moment of inactivity. I had learned to live with the skin - I'd even competed with it, lol, but when I look in the mirror now, I can SEE the body I have worked so hard for. It's vindicating. I look like I feel. I would do it again in a heartbeat. No matter how hard those 6 weeks were (and mine was extended somewhat due to my arthritis and shoulder injury/disease), getting rid of that loose skin is a decision that was right for me and one I do not regret. BUT... a huge part of it being right for me, is the doctor I chose. Truly. This is definitely an area where you get what you pay for. I had to save longer, I had to make sacrifices, but Dr. Cohen was the best - and gave me the best results. Whether I'm in a bikini (woot! I can wear a bikini!) or fully dressed, I feel and look better than I ever have. It's a completely personal decision, and should be made with an abundance of thought and research. For me, it was the right choice. :-)

  3. Again, thanks...that's so encouraging. I actually checked him out and he gets really good's just the traveling that would be challenging! I feel very much the same way you do...I work my abs and have made great progress but you'd never know with all the lose skin and it's discouraging especially when the rest of the body is becoming more defined! One last question, I know you've had several other issues to address as well as the recovery of the surgery, but for someone dealing with only the surgery recovery is it safe to say with determination they'll be back to working out at pre-surgery levels at week 8??? Or, when???? Also, do you still have affects from the surgery?(okay, two ???'s...LOL). You've been really helpful...I appreciate it so much!

    1. No problem!
      1st question - there are no guarantees. It's major surgery, under a general anesthetic, so complications can occur. Your doctor will inform you of possible problems you might have, and you'll sign the consents and such. That said, barring complications and assuming that you follow doctor's orders ;-) and stay hydrated and well nourished and INACTIVE, there's no reason you can't begin light cardio at 4 weeks and begin easing back into lifting at 6 weeks. But it has to be earned. It's imperative that you protect your investment by caring for yourself, and having others care for you. You won't be able to lift anything more than 5 lbs for WEEKS, things you don't even think about now (like changing bed sheets or carrying groceries) will have to be delegated. It's frustrating, but you wouldn't want to undo what the doctor has just fixed, ya know? And, it takes the body a full year to recover to "pre-surgery" levels - that's not to say you won't be lifting and exercising at your pre-surgery levels before that, just that the whole body system is healing for a year. I'd say give yourself about 3 months from the time you begin lifting again to reach your "normal" intensity - and that's again, with no complications.
      2nd question - yes and no. I am still "losing" stitches in my incision. There are actually two incisions, one on the inside with actual stitches and one on the outside which was glued. As my body heals, it is absorbing some of the stitch material, and pushing out others. It's normal, and nothing to worry about. Just this last weekend, I had a little bump form and redden - sorry to be graphic - knowing what it was (since I'd already consulted with the doctor weeks ago), I simply squeezed a bit, and out popped a stitch. It's now completely healed over. Other than that, my abs are more tender than usual, but I can also work them harder since my lower abs are still pretty numb. I've heard that it can last (the numbness) up to a year or more. I've regained sensation pretty consistently in my abdominal area, so I'm confident that it'll all come back, but if it doesn't, it's really not a big deal. Right now it's limited to the area just above and just below the incision. During the initial weeks, I used only Aquaphor on the incision, then began adding in my trusty Emu oil. Now I only use the emu oil and the appearance of the incision is continuing to fade and smooth. :-)

  4. Wow, this is really a big decision and commitment!! I'm going for a 2nd consultation and really taking my time to decide. I'm also checking if I can use my FSA so the cost of the surgery is not taxed. I believe there's a limit, but that would reduce some of the cost! You've been very generous with sharing your experience, A BIG THANK YOU!