Um, Now What?

Normally, I wouldn't post about something boring like this, but writing is therapeutic for me and I need to write this out as a way of processing my thoughts.  Also, I admit, I'm curious as to whether or not I'm the only person on earth who has ever had this experience.

I'm sorry if today's post bores you.  (And if you're a new reader, I hope you'll bear with me for a day!)

Once upon a time, I was thin.

Now, I'm not.

I've gained twenty pounds since my car accident and I feel disgusting.

An extra twenty pounds might not be much on some body frames, but it is cumbersome and uncomfortable for me.

I've blamed my weight gain on decreased activity.  When a person has surgery after surgery (after, yet another, surgery!) she isn't also out running marathons.  When a person walks around, day after day, in chronic pain, the idea of capping off the day at the gym isn't remotely appealing.  Instead, you (I) just want to curl in a ball and will the pain away.

On the other hand, I have made an effort.  I've tried walking four miles a day on a regular basis, and working out on our elliptical, and dieting . . . and I never seem to be able to lose the weight I've gained.

I've examined my diet, and I've realized I don't have perfect eating habits, nor do I have very bad ones.

So why the fat?

I've gotten frustrated.  I've thought about giving up.

I've gotten angry with myself for not being a thinner, stronger, person.

I used to be able to maintain a healthy weight pretty easily.

Recently, my mom informed me she had some tests run and discovered she's insulin resistant.  I didn't really understand much about insulin resistance except that it can be a precursor to diabetes which my grandmother suffered from.  

I didn't know much about it, but I knew it was BAD.

(I did know, however, insulin resistance and diabetes can both be hereditary.)

I won't bore you with all the blah, blah, blah details.

Except –

I went in for a routine/annual physical.

I found out I'm also "insulin resistant."  The doctor explained it to me like this, "Unlike most people, if you even look at a carb, you will gain three pounds."

"Yes!" I said.

As weird as it sounds, it was wonderful to be validated.  It isn't that I eat horribly, but my body is no longer metabolizing food the way a normal person's body does.

I learned other things too.

My glucose levels are good.  My blood pressure is good.  My cholesterol levels are good.

Pretty much everything was good (excluding my arm, of course) except for two things:

1.  The way my body is metabolizing food (insulin resistance)

2.  My C-Reactive protein levels are off the charts.  (!!)

I had never heard of this c-reactive protein level thingy.

It translates to this …

It is a measurement of pain.

I'm simplifying things, of course, but that's what it comes down to.

The test came back telling the doctor, my body is living with very (!) elevated levels of pain.  

I already knew that.

What I didn't know was, pain actually changes things chemically in a person's body.

And guess what?

Living with high levels of pain can make a person insulin resistant … leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.  

The explanations are long and technical and I won't bore you with them.

The thing is … I feel better just knowing this.

I feel like less of a failure.

There are actual, very real, scientific reasons for the changes I've seen in myself and I'm not a failure as a person for not having a better grip on my life.

Because?

I have felt like a failure.

Like most of us, I could do with one less reason to feel bad about myself.

Of course, I asked the doctor …

Now what do I do?

I want to be as healthy of a person as I can be.  I don't want other health issues on top of the chronic pain I live with.

She suggested a very (very!) low carbohydrate diet.  She also informed me this is something I will have to do as a way of life for now on.  This isn't a "diet" to lose weight for a few weeks, but rather a new way of eating based on the changes which have taken place in my body.  

(Insulin resistance also sometimes develops in women as our hormones change after we've … um, aged … beyond the age of 23.)

Also?

I have to get my pain under control.  It is, literally, wreaking havoc with my body's ability to function normally.

I'm not sure how to do this.

I've lived with a lot (!) of pain for nearly four years now.  Obviously, I would have gotten rid of the pain, or lessened it, if I knew how to.

If I can get my pain levels down it should decrease my insulin resistance.  

This is very, very, important for my health.

So, for now, this is what I've decided.

1.  A low carbohydrate way of life began the moment I talked to the doctor.  It must be my way of life for now on. 

2.  I have to get back into PT for my arm as soon as I can get insurance approval.

3.  I need to see a pain management specialist immediately to see if there is anything further they can do to help me live more comfortably with my disability.

I'm curious for your feedback.  

I have so much to learn.  

Are you familiar with low carbohydrate diets?  

Are you, or is someone you know, insulin resistant?  

Have you, or has someone you know, had chronic pain affect their metabolism?

© Twenty Four At Heart

30 Responses to “Um, Now What?”

  1. Michelle

    Regarding your questions: No; No; No; No.
    But, on the other hand, it is such a relief to know that what you are experiencing has a reason. That’s it’s not because of your way of living, but a medical reason. (I have just discovered that the pain I have had in my foot for the last 6 months is arthritis, and I can cope with knowing that. Because I KNOW. Good luck with the very low carb diet, I hope it helps (does this mean less martinis? 😮 ). And I hope and pray you can get into PT quickly and remember that even though it will hurt (esp initially) it helps. 😀

  2. Joanne

    what test determines insulin resistance?
    I am glad to hear you are going back to PT, I know it will be tough for a while, we will be rooting for you

  3. LPC

    Low carbohydrate – depends on what they mean by that. In other words, do vegetables count as carbs? Do whole grains count? If it’s about eating low on the glycemic index, that’s a great diet, in my opinion, one that leads to a great feeling of well-being. Glad you have some more medical data.

  4. Mo "Mad Dog" Stoneskin

    I don’t have much to say on the pain, though I’m sorry to read of it, but what I do know is feelings of failure. What I also know is that the causes behind them are often commonly shared.

  5. Cute~Ella

    I can’t answer your questions, but maybe offer a perspective…
    In regards to the weight – now that it’s figured out, you can fight it! Keep posting, “bore us” if you need to, I’ll keep reading. 🙂

  6. DebrAbby

    Over the past several years I had not listened as my doctor told me my glucose numbers were rising. I simply ignored him, because I knew he was “biased” about my weight. Yep, I had a very serious weight problem — all my life. I had finally gotten to a point where I had decided to accept my weight and not beat myself up about it all the time. I had been healthy up to this point and I really didn’t agree with him. Well what happens when you ignore something? It turns around and bites you in the @ss. I was diagnosed with Diabetes II. Sure enough the new doctor I went to thought I was crazy when he said I could control this with medication or diet/exercise. I said I would lose the weight. Now he looked down at the chart, but I could easily read his expression (sure you will)… but I surely did. I researched “low carb” diabetic diets, and what I found was a “diet” similiar to what the very OLD weight watchers plan was, so I knew I could do it. Let me warn you that carbs in basically all food groups. I think what you need to do is isolate the “bad” carbs (like in starches & breads) from the “good” carbs like in fruits & vegetables. You’ll find that some vegetables (like peas & corn are really starchy) are higher in carbs and you may want to limit those. But I limited my ‘bad’ carbs to 100 and I stuck with it. Even though the literature said that low carb diets are hard to stick to. I can see that a lot of people would not have wanted to do a change as drastic as I did, but over a year later and 100 pounds less over the age of 50 I think it was successful. I got my health back and feel great. It’s now a lifestyle for me, not a diet. I gave up bread, rice & pasta. I haven’t had any since 2007, and I never ever intentionally plan on eating white flours ever again. I also gave up white sugar. You’ll find what will work for you and I think if you tweak your foods you’ll find a change in how your body treats the insulin & if you could get some pain relief I think you will feel 1000% better!
    Good luck!

  7. Sandi

    40% of Brandon family is insulin resistant. I had never heard of it until I met him.
    I think you look beautiful.
    I am heartbroken about how much you are hurting.
    I still want to kill the torturer with my bare hands, but we can talk about him over lunch.
    Please call me, I am still home alone. Maybe you can come over?

  8. jennifer, playgroups are no place for children

    My husband follows a low carb diet (except for ice cream, because he LOVES ice cream). He’s been doing it for about 5 years. It’s really not that hard. We’ve found that we eat fairly normally, I just rarely serve potatoes, rice, or bread as a side dish. Instead I serve two veggies or a veggie and a salad.
    You can totally do it!
    I’m so sorry about the chronic pain. I can’t imagine.

  9. Spudrph

    You can do it. The issues you have are significant, but not impossible. It’s hard to hear news like this- but pretending you didn’t hear it, as your commenters have said, doesn’t make it go away. To use a baseball metaphor, because I turn everything into a baseball metaphor, you just gave up a grand slam. It’s 7-0 in the third inning. You can get mad about the situation, or you can dig in and start fighting. There aren’t any 7 run homers, so start small. Throw a strike. Then throw another one. Then get an out. Then get three outs. Now go up to the plate and get a hit. Then a walk. Then another hit.
    You can do this. Give yourself permission to have setbacks, too, but keep moving. You’re playing for the highest stakes of all: your life.

  10. Kristan

    So I’m going to be completely unhelpful (sorry!) because I have no experience with any of this, but I will say that the way you consider your body and try to care for it, even when it’s not always helping you, is admirable. Keep at it, and I’m sure you’ll figure out a way back to where you want to be. 🙂

  11. missy

    I can answer yes to two out of the three above items. I have been insulin resistant for easily 5 years and as you know last year I began losing weight following the South Beach plan which is a balanced diet but in the first two weeks eliminates sugars and carbs and then slowly adds back the good carbs and small amounts of added sugars. I have lost 45 pounds in 14 months. It is a very easy plan to follow and keeps my other numbers in check. I also take medication twice a day to keep the insulin levels stable. I know it’s a shock but you do adjust and will feel so much better once things are under better control.

  12. NeCole Scott

    I have to eat low carb and I primarily use the South Beach Diet and Recipes. It’s based on the glycemic index and is very healthy–it’s composed mostly of low/healthy fats, proteins and healthy complex carbohydrates. There are several blogs and websites that provide tips and recipes also. You can also have some types of alcohol in moderation and there are desserts. It fits my lifestyle well.

  13. Chris

    My 12YO son is a type 1 diabetic, I’m very familiar with insulin and the role it plays in the body. I’ve not had to endure chronic pain the way you have… I can’t even imagine. I’m miserable if I sleep wrong and my neck or back aches for a few days. I’m sorry for that… for you.
    I’ve read many books on diet, nutrition, exercise, behavior, brain chemistry, etc… There’s a new book out that you might find interesting. It has a goofy title, “The Perfect 10 Diet”, but I found many of the doctor’s principles [all supported by research] to be interesting and for the most part, sound. The only thing he recommends in the book that recent research cautions against, is substituting Agave Nectar for sugar. We did that for a while, and now we’re using honey or raw sugar for the occasional treat… and it’ VERY occasional.
    Hope you find a strategy/plan that works for you. It’s so difficult, and it shouldn’t be. Darn.

  14. Linda

    I have been a gym member for 2 years, had a personal trainer 3 times a week for a year, been on WW for a year. Want to know how much weight I lost? THREE F*@KING POUNDS! Forget about a teacup. My ass is big enough to balance a 3 course meal on! I know as we…um….age, stuff slows down but this is ridiculous. I have a Dr’s appointment next week. I have a list of questions about my weight and my inability to lose it.

  15. Liz Tee

    I have a similar problem with insulin resistance, but it’s because of polycystic ovaries. I struggle and go up and down. Currently I’m up, way up, even though I know better.
    It really isn’t complicated, even though I don’t seem to do very well at it: To start, give up white food (sugar, white rice, white bread, pasta, anything made with white flour) and of course anything in a crinkly bag. Lean meat, lots of veg. In the beginning it’s a good idea to give up grains in general for awhile – just to break your cravings. Eventually you can add whole grains back in slowly.
    Oh yeah, alcohol is like sugar. Sorry. Until you get yourself balanced, it’s probably going to be a rare and special treat.
    I tried South Beach and Eat to Live. Both worked to jump-start me, but I found both unsustainable for the long run. However, the Eat to Live book gave me a LOT of very important information about insulin resistance.
    You could also look up diet plan info on the American Diabetes Assn. site. Much less faddish and probably more sustainable for the long run.
    I’ve let myself slide to an all-time high weight just through laziness. I really have to get on track too. I found that writing on my food blog (justmeeating.blogspot.com) helped before – maybe I ought to commit to that again.

  16. Erin R

    Thank you so much for writing this post! My mother has fibromyalgia and I immediately called her and told her to ask her doctor about the diet and c-reactive protein levels.

  17. di

    I am not insulin resistant yet… Yet being the operative word. But I know that my time is coming if I don’t get rid of the carbs in my diet. I WAY over eat on carbs every day. I’ve done this ever since the hot flashes started about 4 or 5 years ago. It’s like an addiction to carbs that I can’t say no to and I hate being this way. It’s packed 20 unwanted pounds on me and I feel like a slug. I do have small amounts of chronic pain in my feet due to a bit of arthritis and also morton’s neuroma in both feet. I used to be very active but my feet have slowed me down. I used to walk miles every day but the feet simply won’t handle it anymore and I don’t want a surgeon to cut on my feet since I have heard that surgery on neuromas are not always successful anyway.
    There is no way that my husband would cut certain things out of his diet and I am curious as to how married women handle the change in their meals with a husband to feed. Do they prepare 2 meals?

  18. Amy_in_Stl

    Well, at least you have a reason for the problems you’re facing. I find that when I’m in pain – physically or emotionally – I turn to carbs for comfort. Bread, sweets and alcohol all make me happy inside when the outside world has gone to shit. My trainer doesn’t believe me but I really do feel warm and fuzzy and not down and sluggish. Of course that’s always counteracted by then beating myself up for being so weak and not just coping “like a normal person”. I hope you can figure it out – good luck!

  19. Sandra

    I’m so glad you wrote this! I find if I know WHY something is happening and it has a NAME, I’m much happier. Validation is important. I’m glad you got answers. 🙂

  20. Michelle Pixie

    I don’t have any input but I am very curious as to how this works for you and the comments poeple have left seem to be very helpful!

  21. Kelly

    It’s amazing how the body works (or doesn’t work) in sync. One thing leads to another thing. I hope there is a way to get your pain under control. I have done low carb diets and they wrok well after adjusting to them. Let us know how it is going!

  22. middle-aged-woman

    You know I know what I’m talking about when I say you have to attack the pain management from several different angles at once. At one time, I saw a psychiatrist for a prescription for Cymbalta, a therapist for EMDR (a form of cognitive therapy), a physical therapist, and pain meds. It really worms into way into your chemistry, so hitting it from as many ways is really necessary. You know I’ll e-mail with you all you want about this!

  23. Duchess

    You had the car accident at the same time you were getting older. Some of the weight gain might simply be that. We all carry more weight as we age — not the same as getting fatter.
    But I am interested in your carb finding because it confirms what I have suspected for a long time. If I eat spaghetti — no olive oil, no cheese, no meatballs, just spaghetti and tomatoes — I gain weight.
    It might be stupid, but my current theory is that I don’t gain weight if I eat all my carbs (other than tomatoes and greens and wine — which are all technically carbs) before noon.
    In practice that means that I can eat toast at breakfast, but though I eat fruit and veg, I don’t eat bread or potatoes at lunch or dinner.
    Well, we all have our diet fads. But I think South Beach is very good.

  24. Jenny in MN

    This is actually good news for you in a way. The dr. identified an issue that can explain your weight to you and now you know what to look for to try to tackle it. Being small framed, 3 lbs can make a huge difference! Medications can change your metabolism, cause water retention and cause cravings too. Having chronic pain does a whole list of bad things so trying to fix what is causing the pain is very important and/or finding a way to manage the pain if the problem can’t be ‘fixed’. The fact that your dr. picked up on this is HUGE!!!! Yeah for you! (I’m sure you aren’t feeling that way though).
    Foods: pretty much anything processed = not a good idea. Anything with corn syrup in the ingredient list = bad. Start reading labels of anything you use and you will be surprised what you run across.
    I’ve found Stevia (usually in natural food section) to be a good sweetner. It claims to have pretty much zero carbs and it is from a plant instead of chemically produced. Maybe you can check to see if you can have that? (it tastes good too) Your body will take some time to adjust to new eating habits. Balance and real foods will be the key for you. Processed flour, processed grains and added sugars are things you will need to avoid to do low carb eating style. I’m pretty sure the natural sugars from fruits and veggies are ok due to the higher fiber content and slower breakdown in your system. You’ll find a list of food and get to try new recipes. However, being in terrible pain – who wants to do the work for a new recipe? Start our simple and easy at first and hopefully the pain will get under control soon. Once you are feeling better you can experiment with more extravagant recipes. 🙂
    Hang in there and try to be thankful the dr. is giving you some guidance and hope. Thanks for sharing….

  25. Maureen@IslandRoar

    Once I turned 40, excuse me, I mean 25 (I’m clearly older than you) I suddenly couldn’t eat normally w/o gaining weight. I wasn’t ready to be 10 pounds over where I felt good so I cut back significantly. I have one “fun” snack each evening, end of day reward. Otherwise, I eat very little. This keeps me normal, not skinny. You sound like there are some big things contributing here. And that you have a plan of attack. I don’t think there’s anything you, Suzanne, cannot do, once you’ve set your mind to it!!

  26. Christine (SugarPlumsMomma)

    I am glad you were able to find an answer to what is going on with your weight. Now you can move forward and treat it. Giving up carbs is going to be hard – they are so addicting – but you can do it. You will find the answer to control your pain so that you can be healthier overall!

  27. Overflowing Brain (Katie)

    I have chronic pain from a variety of stupid brain things that no one can find an answer or adequate pain control for.
    I physically cannot go to the gym at the end of the day. If I make it through my whole regular day, I consider it a victory. And therefore, I have to manage my weight with diet alone. I’m not insulin resistant (as far as I know), but I gain weight VERY easily, which started around the same time as the latest set of hideous headaches. For the two years prior to that, I could eat pretty much anything I wanted with very minimal weight changes.
    I hope this works for you. Considering how much everything else sucks right now, the thought of giving up carbs is pretty much too much to bear. Sad fact is that I’m totally serious.

  28. Jenn in Tenn

    First, you could never bore us…we’ll always be here…
    Second, yay for you and your dr. for finding those issues and working on getting them treated. At least you have some guidance. (and yay for you getting back to PT, it’ll be hard, but worth it!)
    Keep your head up!

  29. Kathy Porter

    Hi Suzanne – about 4 years ago I had something called “frozen shoulder” – If I’d been wearing a skimpy top so that you could see my shoulders, my left shoulder jutted outward creating a 90 degree angle. The pain was constant and at times, unbearable. No surgery, but 9-12 mos of rehab. What also helped was therapeutic massage. Re-hab was a b**tch, but I did it, sometimes not too graciously. It’s a slow process and takes time, but it works.
    You’ve got more answers now about your body than you did before this post and that’s huge. Take it a step and one re-hab session a day.

  30. Mama Badger

    Ahhh, I’m over visiting from Jan’s, as she posted about your low carb question. A kind word of advice before you go off into low carb dietville.
    When I was pregnant with LG, I was diagnosed diabetic. And my mid-wife made me go to an actual endochrinologist, instead of letting some half-arsed dr take care of it. The nurse there put me on a 4 time a day sugar check (no fun) and asked me to keep a diary for a month (also no fun). What came out of it was interesting, though. Not all carbs throw off my insulin. Just some. So, I was able to avoid consuming those in quantity, and voila, I felt much better.
    You might want to do something similar. Tailor your diet to your specific body, instead of simply throwing off carbs altogether. Like I said, the first month sucked, but the results made all the difference.
    Good luck, whatever you end up finding!

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