Sunday, May 5, 2013

Life After Surgery

    None of the nurses in the dialysis center said : "I told you so!" but I said it to myself. I have never really followed the renal diet closely; as a result I had sky high levels of phosphate and calcium, resulting in itchy skin all over my body. As a result of all the constant scratching, I had marks all over my body, not a pretty sight.

    I needed to have my Parathyroid glands removed badly. This is because the itchiness I was experiencing indicated that my Parathyroid (PT) glands had already swollen tremendously by this time. Everyone has 4 PT glands. And it's not easy feat to remove all 4 because 2 will be in an obvious place (behind the thyroid glands) but 2 will be in not so obvious places.

    I was told all this when I went for my first doctor's consultation. I was originally scheduled to have surgery on the 5th of July but because my nephrologist (kidney doctor) spoke to the endochrine surgeon (Thyroid and PT doctor) on my behalf, he managed to persuade the endochrine surgeon to move up my surgery date sooner, so on the 22nd of March, I went in for surgery...........

    I was admited on the 19th, to prep me for the surgery on that fateful Friday. I was in surgery for 5 whole hours. And I was so very thankful that the surgeon managed to remove all 4 PT glands! He also dissected the smallest gland and implanted it into the muscle of my right arm; so I wouldn't lose my calcium regulation completely. That's right, the function of the PT glands is to regulate the calcium levels in your body.

    When I came out of surgery, I felt really groggy, it was so surreal! My parents were there for me and told me that all 4 PT glands had been removed. I heard them, it registered in my brain but I couldn't speak because the PT glands were so near my vocal chords that my voice was then nearly gone.

    During my next doctor's visit, I was told that I couldn't sing for 6 months, and I was told not the talk so much for now. I calculated on my desk calendar and the 6 month mark is the 22nd of September. So maybe I can sing this Christmas but I'll have to wait till next January to sing in the Church Worship Team.

    All in all, I'm glad it's all over now. I just have to rest my vocal chords and later this year, I'll be able to sing my heart out for the Lord again!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Destructiveness of a Fixation with Skinnyness

I think the media is largely to blame because of this! Women look at the various magazine covers and wish to look like the cover girls they see. "Oh! I wish I was that slim", "Oh! I wish I had her abs", and so on.

What they don't realize is the work that goes into that magazine cover. Most mag covers are air-brushed so the model looks 'perfect'. And many times, to look as 'fit' as they do, the models have to do all kinds of 'tricks' to look so 'perfect'. And these tricks can sometimes be dangerously unhealthy and should never be adopted long term to have that perfect bikini body! Even bikini models have an off and on season. Even they don't adopt those crazy plans all year round! Imagine cutting out fruit totally for weeks or even months! That can't be healthy! Loading up on proteins and cutting out carbs is also unhealthy for long term! These are some of the 'tricks' these models employ to look 'perfect'.

The only way to be healthy is to eat a healthy diet and exercise consistently. And please, drop the 'diet' mentality! By diet mentality, I mean : "I will strict in my diet until I lose this X pounds/kgs, then I can go back to 'normal eating". Nah-uh! This will never work! What will work is adopting a healthy lifestyle; which means eating healthy everyday of your life and exercising regularly and consistently!

Which brings me to the 80/20 rule. Eating like a rabbit all the time can get boring after some time. So, the 80/20 rule means : eat healthy like you should 80% of the time, and 20% of the time, you can eat the calorie dense food that you like an enjoy like ice-cream, cookies, potato chips, pizza, burgers and the like. But remember, watch your portion sizes ALL the time, no matter what it is you're eating. That's important too. Sure, you can eat unhealthy foods 20% of the time, but that's no licence to lose control and go crazy! Or you'll do more damage than good.

The reason for the 80/20 rule is : you do need to cut yourself some slack sometimes. Or your body will rebel and you'll binge, which will be even worse for you and your body. And you should not think of food in terms of good food and bad food. Just healthy and not so healthy food. It's all a question of balance.

And once you've reached your goal of a fitter and healthier body. You still need to maintain your weight loss. Which is why, once you go back to your 'normal eating', the weight will come back. Which is why, you must remember : a healthy lifestyle is for life!

Which brings me to my next point. You need both cardio (running, cycling, jogging, swimming, walking, etc.) and strength training (crunches, sit-ups, leg-lifts, lifting weights, etc.). Cardio is to exercise your heart and lungs and burn fat. And the strength training is to maintain and increase your muscles; which in turn will help you burn even more calories, even when you're sleeping!

And even when you think you've reached your goal and are already as 'perfect' as all you can be, you still have to maintain your new-found figure! Continue with the healthy diet and exercise! And remember the 80/20 rule! Or your new healthy eating habits will feel like a prison! And exercise!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Grass Greener on the Other Side?

People in general always want what they don't have. And in a way, I'm no different. As a dialysis patient, I had to have surgery on my left arm to insert a fistula, which in layman's terms means that one of my main arteries in my left arm is 'joined' to a main vein in my left arm to my heart so that through this, the dialysis machine can get to circulate my blood to clean it. I'm sorry I can't explain any better, but that's the gist of it.

This surgery has left a very obvious and ugly scar on my upper left arm. As a result, I can't wear anything sleeveless anymore because it's way ugly. Neither can I wear halter necks, spaghetti straps or anything  shoulder-less. So, when I see an attractive woman with a halter-neck dress or blouse, for instance, I can't help longing to wear something similar but I never can now because my scars are just too obvious.

I also find myself longing for the kind of life I'll probably never have now. A life of international travel, being a hot-shot executive, having a five figure a month income, well, you get the picture. Now that I have a fixed dialysis schedule, I'm finding it harder and harder to find a job. This is because I can only work part-time because 3 afternoons a week, I have to go for my treatments.

To an average employer in this country, that means taking half-day leave for 3 days a week, or having MCs (Medical Leave) 2 afternoons  a week and that is unacceptable. Added to the fact that there are many fresh grads out there, with normal bodies that can work full-time, so, my chances of landing a job are even slimmer than before.

I do have some assistance to pay for my treatments, which isn't cheap. I also have a very small disability pension but that doesn't include my meds and injections. Meager as my income is, I still have to bear the costs of my medication and hormonal injections myself. These injections encourage my body to produce red blood cells, a function usually carried out by my kidneys. Since my kidneys aren't working, I need 4 jabs a week to make enough red blood cells.

As you can imagine, I still live with my parents. How can I not? I can't work normal hours and I only have a pittance to live on. Of course I know some people who have it worse than me. They don't even have a pension (little as it is in my case), and they don't have parents who'll take them in because their parents have already passed on, they may have little children dependent on them. Yes, I know, I have to count my blessings.

But it's still hard to deal with sometimes. Especially when you're surrounded by wealthy neighbors and you know your ex-classmates are doing much better than you are. But you know what? Dwelling on these things will only depress you. I can only live my life one day at a time. I've started sending short stories to publishers. I hope to be able to generate enough income through my writing soon.

This blog of mine is for me to get into the habit of writing so I can write something publishable someday. Other than that, I've decided to sell my cross-stitch pieces here :

I'm always cross-stitching something or other. Except these days, I'm more busy reading. I've read that the more good books you read, the more it'll rub off on you, and you indirectly become a better writer.

I am just a mere mortal woman. I can only do my best to get through life despite my limitations. I know some people are more capable than me but you can only play with the cards you're dealt with. Self-pity will only make things worse. It will eat you up inside. So, I can only trust God and live my life one day at time. I know that there are some things I can never do, now that I'm on dialysis.

Why not a kidney transplant? If only it were that simple! As I've mentioned in my previous blog, in this country, if you've gone through a successful kidney transplant, you will be considered a 'normal' person and all financial aids will stop. And a transplant is not the be all and end all. You still have to spend an obscene amount of money on anti-rejection drugs. Nope! I know some people will opt of a transplant but I'm content the way I am. At least I'm getting some financial aid. And I now have to time to indulge in writing. I really hope to be a published author someday............

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Self-Control and Self-Consiousness

If you've been on dialysis for as long as I have, pretty soon, you'll start to get sick of the routine and start to get some sort of a death wish. I'm not saying all dialysis patients have a death wish but I certainly did. I started drinking water, tea, coffee, juice, soups whenever I wanted too, without care of how much fluid I was ingesting.

After years of tight fluid control, suddenly, I began thinking in a "Damned if I do and damned if I don't" kind of way. In other words, I started getting sick of watching normal people chug down ice-cold drinks and the like and started feeling this way : "Why can't I do it too?!".

Of course, as a dialysis patient, the cardinal rule is : watch your fluid intake, keep it down to less than 500ml if you can! But after doing this for so long, I guess I began to rebel. I started thinking : "Must I go through life thirsty and longing to drink more?".

Bad idea! Pretty soon, my pulse started racing and my blood pressure started dropping towards the 3rd hour of dialysis every time. And I mean every time! It got so bad that my blood pressure would even drop to 60/20ish! Now, that's bad! I mean, I was literally courting death. I felt bad too, when this happened. At these times, I was extracting 3 to 4kgs per treatment. Sometimes, I didn't even manage to extract all that I should because I felt so unwell.

My friends, the nurses, were justifiably worried about me. They warned me that if I continued this way, my fistula (the part of my arm that enables dialysis) could stop working altogether or my heart could eventually fail. I could even die but what happens if I don't die but keep dying. I would suffer an agonizingly slow death.

If my fistula failed, I might have to go on to CAPD and that's really bad news. I've heard that patients on CAPD can never shower again but have to clean themselves with a damp cloth to avoid getting the stomach area wet (to avoid serious infections) and I can't even stomach that (pun intended). CAPD means having a surgical insert in your stomach lining. You then have to do some kind of fluid exchange for around 30 minutes, 4 times a day everyday! To me, this is worse than being on hemodialysis (what I'm currently on, which means : you drop into a dialysis center 3 times week for a 4 hour treatment through the fistula in your arm).

Obviously, I was in a very bad and risky place! I realized that I have to go back to being disciplined with the  way I was ingesting fluid aka. drinking. I have a digital weighing scale at home that I constantly use to check on my current weight. In this way, I keep an eye on my weight so I don't go beyond 3kgs. If I was really thirsty but was approaching the danger zone, I would just suck on an ice cube, but I can't do this too often either because each ice cube was 30mls of water, so I only do this if I'm really thirsty.

So far so good. I've been weighing in at less than 3kgs for around 2 weeks now. I've resolved to be disciplined and vigilant about my fluid intake for the rest of my life. I have no choice as I'd rather die than go on CAPD. Hemodialysis is way better. At least I still have some measure of freedom with it!

So, this is my 'new' resolve! I did have some iced-tea earlier today but I immediately weighed myself and I'm approaching the 2kg mark, so I'll have to watch it more carefully today. Don't want to go beyond 3kgs. So, I'll keep weighing myself and trying, keep trying to keep my weight gain to below 3kgs.............

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Super Excited with my New Business Venture!

I'm always cross-stitching something or other. And I have a few finished unframed pieces in my collection. Today, I decided to photograph them and post them online for sale! This is my new business venture!

Check it out here!

I hope you will like my work and order something! I will be posting new pieces as I complete them!

Hope to see you there!


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Learning to Live Within My Means

It's a hot day! Again, I find myself longing to go to the nearby cafe, Coconut Groove to try their huge and icy Coconut Shake. I've never tried it before and it looks good on the menu. But it'll probably be a bad idea because 1) it's not exactly cheap 2) it comes in this huge jug which frankly to me looks like it could be shared with a family! Not a good idea for a dialysis patient like me; who need to control her fluid intake.

Also, as always, I have cravings for a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger, which again is not a good idea because of the cost, the amount of fat I'll be ingesting, not to mention sending my protein and phosphate levels rocketing sky high! Just think : 2 slices of cheese, 2 fatty beef patties, bad idea, not to mention the sodium. And don't even get me started on 'saving' money by ordering the McValue Meal, which adds more fat and sodium in the form of fries, not to mention the sugar-laden soda (soft drink) that comes with it.

But still I'm longing for something cool to drink as it's a hot day. So, what did I do? I went to the fridge and poured myself a small cup of ice-cold water! Ahhhhhhh! Bliss! So, you can save money if you really want to. Anyway, the sun out there is just frightfully hot, I don't even fancy walking out of this air-conditioned room where my computer is to get my burger or coconut shake.

If I'm hungry, my Mom's noodles will do. She cooked a huge batch to last us from lunch to dinner. I'll be saving money by not eating out. Inflation in Malaysia has driven the prices of everything up and up!; including cafe prices.

So, if you're hungering for some store bought food, ask yourself : is there anything in your fridge or pantry that is just as good, if not better and healthier? Then eat in, not out! Saves you money and you get to cool off in the comfort of your own home.

Just imagine popping your own popcorn with those cheap raw corn kernels. No butter or sugar, takes some getting used to but I think plain olive-oil popped corn is delicious! Then eating that pre-portioned bowl of popcorn and watching a movie on your DVD player in your air-conditioned hall! Now, that can't be beat! So, stay home when you can in your free time and be creative!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meeting Myself Halfway

Loosing weight is an uphill battle even if you're not on steroids, but even more of an uphill battle with steroids. I was prescribe steroids by my nephrologist (kidney doctor) when my SLE was active. At that time, my weight ballooned up to 68kgs! Imagine being that heavy at 4 feet 11, I was overweight, bordering on obese!

No matter what I did at that time, the extra weight just refused to budge! To make matters worse, I had a tummy to rival that of a pregnant woman! And I was teased by heartless people for my tummy problem! To make matters worse, the steroids also increased my appetite. Now, I have a pretty good appetite even without the steroids but with the steroids, I was hungry all the time! And I had to eat a lot to fill my rumbling tummy! So, that made it even harder to slim down.

Then came the magical day when my doctor announced that steroid are not meant to be taken long term and that I'd be taken off the steroids from that day onwards. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! I don't have to take them anymore! And within a few short months, my extra weight just melted off and I've been maintaining at 56kgs ever since.

Of course, I'm a work in progress and I'm still striving to lower my fat levels to improve my body composition. In other words, I still have a little bit of a tummy problem that I'm striving to get rid off. But who knows, maybe if I listen to my body, I'm at a healthy compromise right now, but well see, I'll keep eating healthy and exercise and I'll see where that takes me.

I'm a member of Sparkpeople (, a website that teaches you how to be as healthy as you can be through proper diet and exercise; and they teach that you should never go through life hungry. If you're really hungry, you should eat enough, don't overeat. 

After all, how fun can it be if you're hungry all the time and have a twiggy figure. It's better to be healthy and reasonably satiated. In other words, eat enough, not too little, not too much. And it's better to be healthy, slim and fit than to be skinny but hungry all the time.

And to celebrate my new weight, I've purchase some designer skinny jeans that were 50% off! And I'm loving the way I look in it! But like I said earlier, I'm still a work in progress!