Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Sleep Study is Up Next

The next leg of my medical journey is underway.
I recently got all of my tests back for Cushing’s and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  Turns out it’s neither.  There is nothing wrong with me hormonally.  Apparently the original spike in cortisol was just a fluke – leftover stress from the workday or nervousness from getting blood drawn perhaps.
The doctor then suggested I be tested for sleep apnea.  Apparently years of not getting enough sleep and routinely depriving one’s brain of oxygen can result in a number of the non-specific symptoms I have.

I was pissed.
Don’t get me wrong – this is good news.  No one wants a screwed up endocrine system.  And I can hazily see how sleep apnea might contribute to how I feel.  It’s also very easy to detect, treat, and manage.
That being said, I felt letdown.  Angry, in fact.
While I didn’t want to have it, Cushing’s put a face to my situation.  A bunch of checkmarks next to a list of vague symptoms that have been accumulating in recent years.  It gave me validation that something is indeed wrong with my body.
Now that validation has been taken away.  I’m left with some very grumpy feelings:
·         What if there's nothing actually wrong?
·         What if I just suck at losing weight?
·         What if this is the way my adult body looks and feesl like?
·         What if this is as good as it get?
I am not confident they will find sleep apnea, and even if they do, that rhinoplasty or a breathing machine is going to make me feel loads better and enable me to become healthy.
I feel imprisoned by my body.  It conspires against my wishes to be a fit human being.  It makes me grimace when I look in the mirror or go buy clothes.  It is filled with unending muscle pain that is just low enough to not take an aspirin but high enough to not ignore.  It forces me to be dependent on high levels of water to function.  It makes me feel weak, tired, endlessly hungry, and dejected.

I used to take my health for granted.  I’m perfectly aware that my current weight is the result of too much stress, poor eating habits, and little exercise. 
The issue is that it won’t let me change.
I value change very much.  I believe you can change yourself, for better or worse.  Your life is in your hands – you control the outcome.
But my health is not within my direct control.  I reduce my calories by an acceptable level and it results in energy crashes.  I do light exercise, such as walking or biking for 30 minutes, and my hips and legs are angry for days.  I now have a good balance with stress and ensure “me time” is built into my routine.
These changes have amounted to very little.  The scale is approaching 200 pounds and I cannot stop it.  I am ashamed of this. 
This past weekend, a good friend and I sat complaining about our looks, circling the same frustrations we have been voicing for years.
In many ways, I’ve come to realize that placing an exaggerated emphasis on the way someone’s body looks is juvenile, not just unhealthy.  There’s something immature about making looks a discussion point.
I am very guilty of thinking this way.  I grew up in a very judgmental environment that placed great emphasis on fitting in and looking right.  While I never bought this attitude enough to change who I was, the message did sink in enough to cause insecurity and doubt.
Feeling like I am judged based on my appearance.  That my looks overshadow all the other accomplishments in my life.  That I should be nervous of what people will say when I go to my high school reunion a year from now or when I visit family who I haven’t seen in a while.

It is still something I’m working on.  I hate that I am so very cognizant of how stupid this mindset is and yet can do little to repel it.
Graduate degree, feminist, career woman supportive of everyone else’s body but her own, the headline would read.    
I wondered today, however, how much of this sick attitude of feeling like I’m just a blob of flesh might be induced or influenced by how my body actually feels.  What would my outlook be if my pain was reduced, if I had more energy, if I didn’t feel so limited physically?  Would I be so down on myself if I didn’t feel so down physically?
I don’t know.  I certainly hope so.
Sleep test is in two weekends, not sure when I get to discuss the results.  Guess we’ll go from there.

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