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!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Daily Decisions

It was a very hot day today. It was too hot for me to walk to the mini-mall nearby. So, my Mom dropped me off there at around 1pm today. The Easter Sale at the Christian bookstore officially started today, which was why I was so excited to go there. 

I've had my eye on the ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible for a long time now. The leather edition sells for above RM224! Because of the Easter Sale discount, for a limited time, I can get it for only RM179! So, this afternoon, I headed straight to the Christian bookstore and bought it! The last pristine copy left! It's like the Study Bible was waiting for me to buy it! 

I'm so excited! I can't wait to delve into it tonight during my quiet time. I have extra motivation to read the Bible now! I've been rather lax lately, I hope my enthusiasm lasts though! Heck! I'll make it last! I've never read the Bible cover to cover in all my years as a Christian, well, this is the year I'll finally succeed! 

After that, I went to an air-conditioned cafe, known as "Kitchen Creatures". It's a no frills restaurant with bright lighting and ample natural sunshine to make it an ideal place for me to do cross-stitch in. Well, since my Mom is giving me the entire afternoon to hang around here, I brought my cross-stitch along! Man, did I make progress on that project today! 

"Hmmmm! What to order?". I finally decided on their home-made fish fingers as I just wanted a small snack, I already had lunch, some taiwanese meat sauce noodles, courtesy of my Mom, she brought it home for me (I ate before my outing). 

The fish fingers were delicious. I then asked for ice and poured my little bottle of water that I always carry with me into the glass, Ah refreshing iced-water! But then, I was still v. thirsty, like I said, it was a hot day! 

I then order some old-fashioned root beer, sweetened with cane sugar, NOT HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)! 40 grams of sugar, oh well! The lesser of the 2 evils, at least it 's not HFCS! (refer to article on HFCS on SP!). And it's not everyday I drink soda...... 

The 4pm rolled around. I was starting to feel hungry again, looking at all the delicious food the other patrons were ordering. I was busily cross-stitching by then. At around 4.30pm, I finally gave in and ordered a pizza. Now, the pizza's here only come in one size : 10 inches in diameter. 

Oh Man! I can't finish that much pizza! Then, an idea come to me, courtesy of my SP membership! I'll brown bag what I can't finish home! Then I can have another meal of two for later or I can even treat my family to pizza! So, being a good girl, I ordered the vegetarian pizza, because I was supposed to watch my protein/phosphate levels, and only ate 3 slices, I ordered the waiter to brown bag the rest straightaway, so I wouldn't be tempted to polish it all off, it was delicious!!!! 

When I got home, I was too full to eat dinner, but I figured some more vegies won't hurt, so I ate a small serving of bitter gourd that my Mom cooked. I was thinking, I shouldn't have ordered the pizza as my Mom cooked a nice dinner today, but hey! I was hungry in that cafe, surrounded by people eating pizza and pasta! 

Oh, well! I just consider it a celebration of sorts for my finally getting my BIG treat : The ESV Study Bible! Man! It feels so good to treat myself! I can't afford to do that all the time the next treat will in the next 2 months of so........

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some Minor Adjustments

Anyone can get used to anything, even if it is unpleasant or difficult. That's what I found out during my years as a dialysis patient. I've been a dialysis patient for 6 years and counting now.

At first I encountered less problems (after I got free of my IJC : which is the tube inserted into my jagular vein, that is, my neck before my arm access matured), as my body was still new to dialysis. But now, going into my 6th year, my heart is not as healthy as it once was, and the phosphate, calcium & potassium levels have accumulated in my blood due to careless eating.

As a dialysis patient, I can't eat like a normal person. Well, after 6 years I guess I kinda think : "What the heck! I'll die someday even if I'm careful anyway, so I might as well enjoy eating", and went on my merry way eating whatever I like, however much I like, "to hell with portion control!", until the doctor gave me an ultimatum.....

So, in  a nutshell, I have to really watch my protein, phosphate (protein and phosphate are like partners : where there's protein, there's phosphate), potassium, sodium and fluid intake. No excuses, no arguments or my medical fees are going to go up. That is, the doctor has threatened to exchange my phosphate binder from the affordable Calcium Carbonate to the more effective & much more costly Lanthanum Salts.

Now, I'm already spending a lot on my condition as it is, so I guess I have no choice but to be a good girl and follow the renal diet closely. So, today I was preparing dinner for myself, my Dad and my brother, because my Mom was out and requested I handle dinner.

So, I thought, "Yay! I'm finally in control of the menu, so let's put this new diet to work in my cooking today!", If my Mom cooks something that's unsuitable for me, I just take less of the unsuitable foods and more of the suitable components but today, I was in control.

Omelettes? Well, I can't have egg yolks but I can have egg whites. Minor adjustment : I just separated the yolks from the whites and prepared 2 omelettes! One using the whites and one using just the yolks, my normal Dad and brother can have the yolks, I'll take the whites. A little more effort maybe, but it was just a minor adjustment. I didn't waste food and everyone's happy!

Meat, I can't have much, but I'm not just cooking for me, but for my Dad and brother as well, I'll just prepare a meat dish and they can have it, I'll either not take the meat or take just one small piece. Again, everyone's happy.

I also cooked a vegetable dish, that I can have, but not too much though, I have to watch my potassium levels as well, I also fried some potatoes. But before cooking the potatoes, I soaked them in water first after slicing them to leach out the potassium. No addition of phosphate to crisp up the potatoes, I just fried them fresh. I took just a few slices because potatoes have phosphate too.

Minor adjustments like these just take a little bit of effort but I have to make them because my life depends on it. If my phosphate & company levels get out of control, there will be some unpleasant and potentially life threatening consequences. I'll just have to adjust and control my desires for certain foods.

Minor adjustments, I can do that! It's no problem! After all, it's my life I'm prolonging!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don't take life for granted!

There's a saying that you won't miss something you have until it's gone. I find this very true, I used to be normal, able and even encouraged to drink more water, the more the better. Well, I can't do that anymore because I'm now a hemodialysis patient. In other words, my kidneys have lost their function and I have to limit my fluid intake drastically and also follow the renal diet.

The renal diet means, less of certain fruits (making sure that I have low potassium levels), less salt, less phosphate (less meat, dairy products, nuts, beans & mushrooms), I also have to watch my dietary calcium levels for some reason too. In other words, I can't just stuff my face whenever I like anymore. Hence, going to an all-you-can-eat buffet is a bad idea now.

Well, enough of the things I can't do. What about things I can? I still have my eyesight, which I thank the Lord every minute of every day for. I don't know what I'd do without my eyesight. Granted, I wear prescription glasses for myopia (short-sightedness) but I can see! I don't know what I'd do if I can't occupy my time with reading, writing and cross-stitch embroidery!

Now that I'm on hemodialysis, I can't hold a regular full-time job anymore as not many employers give you flexi-hours where you can leave work early 3 times a week. On the upside though, I have lot's of time on my hands, and this is exactly what I want in order to be a published author.

From now on, I'll devote some time to writing in general, whether it's this blog or some short stories. I'll keep sending out manuscripts until they get published. This is how J. K. Rowling started too. Did you know that the first few publishers actually rejected Harry Potter. Look at JKR now!

Anything is possible, you just have to keep trying!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Waking up after a long sleep of negativity......

I'd like to say that I've always been positive about my lot in life but I haven't been, not always. I have episodes of denial and depression where I'll keep questioning God, "why me?". For those that are new to my blogs, allow me to explain : I have SLE, Lupus, as it's popularly known and it has cause my ESRF (end-stage renal failure), in other words, I now require dialysis for the rest of my earthly life.

I know that I've drove many people crazy with my "why me?" diatribes. I've always been envious of my old classmates who have gone on to successful careers, marriages that have double incomes with property (houses), cars etc. Things that I currently don't have because I'm finding difficulty to secure employment.

I'm ashamed to say that I have a very negative view of myself : a woman in her 30s, still living at home with her parents, without a job, and without functioning kidneys. I've always felt like a big, fat failure until tonight, after reading a story from "Chicken Soup for the Soul : Think Positive" by Toni L. Martin.

In this story, Toni talks about her late daughter, who also had SLE. But unlike me, she had it worse, at least I'm not in pain or in hospital. My life is actually pretty normal except for the fact that I visit a dialysis center 3 times a week for my treatments. Toni's daughter, Amanda, had to have dialysis every night for 10 hours, and had to be hospitalized towards the end of her life. I'm not sure whether she was in pain towards the end of her life, but compared to her, I'm can be considered pretty fortunate.

I have 4 dialysis-free days that I can do whatever I like in, merely because of the fact that I'm not employed like all my other friends. I have a confession to make, I've always wanted to be a published author. If I had been completely healthy, I would probably be working myself to an early heart attack in a stressful IT job (what I qualified in, I have a degree in IT).

Now, at least I have to free time to try writing some pieces and get them published. Which is exactly what I'm going to do from now on. Yes! I'm now a full-time author! I will not complain about my life anymore! I feel as if God has reveal His purpose for my life tonight! And I'm so happy I can almost burst from the joy I feel in my heart! I'm Free! I'm free to write!

I've always wanted to write children's books. And now, I have all the time in the world to indulge in my passion of writing, including this blog! Actually, this blog is just a start, a start to get me into the discipline of writing anything, anything that occurs to me.

My heart is bursting for joy at this moment! I finally have a purposed in life! After wasting 6 years in the deep slumber of negativity of moaning and complaining, I've finally 'got it'!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I must! I must! I must control my fluid intake!!!

After countless warnings from the nurses about my fluid intake (read : ice-cold water) and spending about 3 to 4 months at the top of the heaviest patients list, I've finally decided to get serious with myself and not take my good health for granted.

You see, dialysis patients like myself can't afford to keep extracting 4 kilos every time we dialyse. It will weaken our hearts because our hearts have to work harder, the more fluid is extracted from us. In most dialysis centers, the maximum that can be extracted is 4 kilos. So, yes, I'm a very naughty girl!

I used to be a good patient, I would only gain 2 plus or 3 plus kilos every time. I don't know what's got into me, I guess I was thinking : "What the heck! Everyone dies sooner or later, I might as well have a good time drinking ice-cold drinks in this hot climate!". Which is of course, very wrong and foolhardy of me.

I guess that after being on dialysis for 6 years, I'm beginning to get a little over-confident of my seeming good health and problem-free heart and also I might be having a death wish because I'm a little sick of being a dialysis patient. Imagine being stuck to a machine for 4 hours 3 time a week with one of my hands immobile (the hand where the dialysis access is, the hand that connects me to the dialysis machine).

True, I've finished many good books (my own and the library's) during dialysis treatments but I keep thinking, there has got to be more to life then this! I mean, I can't even get a regular job like a regular person because which boss likes it if his/her employee has to get off work early 3 times a week?! I'm still looking though........I'm sure somehow somewhere I'll find a good job that will take into account my limitations as well as my talents and qualifications.

In the mean time, I just have to keep applying, praying, hoping and keep a positive and hopeful attitude. And most importantly, if I want to live longer, to control my fluid intake...............