Tag Archives: Doctor

Surrendering (And How It Wasn’t as Bad as I Thought It Would Be)

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“Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, Mama said…”

Okay, I’m done. I’m no songster, anyway. The lyrics just floated through my brain and seemed so appropriate for today’s post 😉

I’m not usually one of those women who willingly admits she can’t do something. Actually, I’m more of one of those I-Am-Woman-Hear-Me-Roar types.

I always try to be straight with you, so I’ll be straight right now – the mixture of activities taking place in my life right now is stressful, and at times, overwhelming. I am completing my Practicum experience, attempting to solidify summer employment, working on securing an Internship site for the next academic year, planning a wedding, trying to fit in regular exercise, and managing my apartment as well as daily living tasks and weekly schoolwork. Whew!

[Please note: I am in no way trying to insinuate that my life is any busier or more action-packed than anyone else’s; in fact, I am trying not to play the comparison game these days. I’m simply stating that my life is chaotic in my world.]

That being said, sometimes I need a little assistance balancing everything. After weeks of debating and weighing the pros and cons, I decided to seek counseling at the college’s counseling center.

I thought I would waltz right in, flash my college ID, and get started discussing stress with one of the counselors. Come to find out, my college’s counseling center requires a record of a recent physical and immunization records, as well as a completed student medical information form before the counselors can see any student—even a graduate student. Hence why I made a trip to Richmond in the middle of the week for a physical.

As I was texting Ian about my difficulty in even establishing an appointment, he said something to me that resonated deeply because it is such a prime controversy in this country right now: This is a ridiculous amount of hoops. I wish it were this difficult to buy a weapon. (That’s a different topic for a different day.)

You might be asking yourself, why would you choose to see a college counseling center when there are “real” counselors all over the place? The answer is, for three reasons. Primarily, the college counseling center is close, and there is no waiting list for new clients. Second, it is a free service afforded to all students, graduate and undergraduate. Private counseling practices can be very pricey. Third, and perhaps most difficult to admit, I don’t hold a particularly positive view of college counseling centers. I say “real” counselors in quotes because the counselors at colleges are real counselors—they have experience and training, and many of them graduated from programs similar or identical to mine. They are often stereotyped as either young, hot-off-the-press graduates with little or no experience in the issues experienced by college students who “don’t really help you,” or antiquated older men who live to prescribe medication. In reality, they are rarely either of these undesirables. Hey, after completing 60 credit hours post-Bachelor’s degree and 700 hours of experience, I won’t appreciate it too much if future prospective clients don’t think of me as a “real” counselor! I’m making the best attempt I know how at overcoming my mental stigma against seeing a counselor on a college campus.

So, here I am, ready to see a counselor for the first time since I was fifteen… and still waiting for the results of my physical to arrive. I kind of doubt the counseling center will turn me away if my blood sugar is too low or my cholesterol is too high. I just want to talk to somebody about my freaking stress level!

Someone asked me recently, “Can’t you use some of the techniques you’ve been taught for helping clients deal with stress?” Well, yes and no. That task is easier said than done. It’s kind of like talking to your best friend about what’s bothering you over and over and receiving the same answer each time, and then finally breathing a sigh of relief when you gain a fresh perspective from talking to someone else about what’s bothering you. Yes, I can apply what I’ve learned to my own life, but I think a fresh perspective is just what I need right now.

For example, my meltdown a few weeks ago was actually not the result of stress over floral arrangements or photographers’ prices or cupcake flavors; it was the result of cumulative stress. Since said meltdown, I’m happy to report that my stress level has been reduced significantly 😉

Again, I’ll be straight with you – it’s not easy admitting to people that you need help managing life stressors that others seem to balance with such ease and grace. When I worry about what people might assume when I tell them I’m seeking counseling, I try to remember that each person has unique stressors in his or her life, each person possesses different coping mechanisms, and each person experiences a different outcome as the result of the stressors and the ways they deal with them.

For the first time in my life, I’m looking forward to the ways counseling can benefit my personal life, let alone my career. Stress can be a difficult animal to harness and subdue, and I’m looking forward to letting someone else help me take the reins for a bit. As always, updates to follow!

I’m off to the gym to sweat out a little stress 😉

Question: How do you cope with life stressors?

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A Hodgepodge of My Thoughts

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In my mind, the best kind of learning is unanticipated or unplanned lessons. I got a healthy dose of such knowledge this weekend. Warning: The following is a collection of my scattered, slightly overwhelmed thoughts.

I mentioned recently that I had a bit of a meltdown related to wedding planning… So naturally, I took a week or so off from the planning agenda and focused on me, myself, and I. I exercised mindfully and got myself more centered. I ate well and tried to stay away from the booze. I scheduled a physical and discussed diet and exercise with my doctor. And perhaps most importantly, I put a lot of effort into ensuring that I got enough quality sleep. All of that helped a lot, and when I was finally ready to think about wedding business again, I was actually excited about it.

Maybe some most people live(d) to plan their wedding and soak(ed) up every minute of planning bliss, but I am not one such bride. Don’t get me wrong — I’m loving exploring color schemes, floral arrangement possibilities, menu options, and dress styles; I’m just not so gung-ho about the pressure surrounding it all. It literally feels as though if you get engaged today, you should have had the reception venue and the photographer booked yesterday.

Okay, enough of my rant.

This weekend has been a busy and planning-heavy one. Ian and I had a venue tour scheduled for 4:30 yesterday, a belated Valentine’s Day double date with my parents at 6:30, a cupcake tasting at 1:00 this afternoon,

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and a plantation tour at 4:00. Whew! Needless to say, I am on information (and junk indulgent food) overload right now!

I don’t think I did myself any favors by indulging in (a savory but insanely unhealthy) Mickey D’s breakfast this morning… But on the other hand, it’s nice to know that my body has grown used to wholesome, nutritious foods, and that that’s what it craves. It pretty much rejected hashbrowns and McGriddles, which is fine by me. I don’t need more than one warning that grease and trans fat are no match for my Kashi with banana slices or my Chobani with chia seeds and granola 😉

Ian and I planned a more health-conscious dinner of grilled chicken Caesar salads and fresh mango and Granny Smith apple. Between the cupcake samplings and the multiple ciders at Cap Ale Friday night, I’m pretty sure I’ll be on workout double-duty next week in preparation for Operation Spring Break Cruise (T-minus 22 days!). My plan isn’t of the stereotypical cleanse-or-fast-until-I’m-bikini-ready variety; more so, I’m trying to tone up and do as much cardio as possible in preparation for a week of fantastic food and fun in the sun. I’m also attempting (attempting being the keyword) to train for a 10k at the end of April.

This weekend has been absolutely fabulous, especially seeing Ian so animated and involved in asking questions and touring venues. I am beyond ready to kick back with my salad, put my feet up, and watch some mindless TV.

[Yet again, my apologies for the photo-light post. I’ve been way too busy, and honestly, way too uninspired recently to write much of substance. I’ll have more for you when I’m not feeling like such a cottonheaded ninnymuggins. Thanks for checking in!]

Hope you are having a phenomenal Saturday, blends!

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Gettin’ Physical

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Getting a physical, anyway.

I texted my mom last week to ask her when was the last time I had a complete physical. Yes, I am 24 years old and I still allow — nay, encourage — my mother to be in charge of my medical records. Turns out, I haven’t “gotten physical” since 2006… Oops. Well, I scheduled one for this morning, which consequently meant a trip home to Richmond in the middle of the week on my only day off. It also meant driving 2 hours in the dark after class last night, and then another 2 hours in the rain this afternoon… I don’t mind driving solo at night, but Mother is paranoid about deer. And lonely, winding country roads. And flat tires. And crazed lunatics who likely run rampant between here and Richmond, simply lying in wait for innocent Hyundai drivers to amble by… You get the idea — she doesn’t like me driving alone at night.

If you know me, you can vouch for this — I do not like it when the game plan changes. In other words, even though I made the appointment a week ahead of time, I was still anxious about sacrificing my day off from class and Practicum (which I normally fill with household chores, grocery shopping, and working ahead on assignments) for a stinkin’ doctor’s appointment. I also don’t like doctor’s appointments. Especially fasting doctor’s appointments, and especially doctor’s appointments when I knew they’re going to draw blood.

Of course, as everyone else knew while I was mentally exaggerating everything, the appointment was fine. My PCP reported that I have the slow, steady heartbeat of someone who exercises regularly 😉 My eyes, ears, nose and reflexes were great — always good to know. My blood pressure wasn’t high for once! I have textbook White Coat Syndrome, but that doesn’t stop any of my doctors from admonishing me about having it checked more regularly.

My bloodwork and urine results will be mailed to me in a few days, and I’m actually really curious to see my cholesterol readings and my blood sugar levels. My doctor said that she likes her patients to have a cholesterol screening once between ages 20 and 30, so I’m covered for the next six years. Woohoo! I discussed with her my constant hunger, for which I had seen her a few months ago and had bloodwork done. She recommended bumping up my protein and fiber intakes. I’ll level with you — I was beyond thrilled that she complimented me on recording my eats and my nutritional intake for a week to try to determine the hunger culprit, and that she congratulated my choices in food. When a doctor tells you “you’re doing all the right things,” you might actually be doing something right 😉 We also discussed my weight — my concern, not hers — and how it has completely plateaued. We calculated my “ideal” one-size-fits-all BMI, and it looks like I have less weight than I thought to lose to reach this goal: about 32 pounds. That’s totally doable! Now, if I could just get over this plateau…

There were a few positives to this whole doctor-visit-in-the-middle-of-the-week shit-uation: I got to spend a few hours last night and a few hours today with my mom, I got to spend a few hours with my fiance Ian (the day before, not on, Valentine’s Day, no less), and I got to have lunch at what I have decided is the best burger joint in Richmond — Burger Bach (surprisingly pronounced “batch”) in Carytown.

My favorite sandwich is called the Italian Chick, and it is to die for. So is the pomegranate green tea. So are the fries and their many, many dipping sauces. Okay, so is every single thing I’ve ever tried at Burger Bach. (Wonder if they cater weddings… I kid.) I actually remembered to take pictures before scarfing this time, but for some reason I can’t upload them. Oh, well.

I’m excited about what’s coming up on SWASOV, so stay tuned! I promise, the relevance of today’s physical will become clear eventually…

My Personal “Hunger Games”

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Maybe I live an insanely blah life, or maybe I tend to enjoy things that other people loathe, but perhaps the only thing I like one of my favorite things about starting a new semester is renewing myself from the inside out.

Last semester, I wrote about my near-constant hunger. I consulted my doctor and had bloodwork done, but I only experienced relief for about two months. Of all of the factors we discussed that could have been contributing to my hunger, my doctor and I never discussed whether I was eating enough of the right stuff. For example, I know my diet is full of leafy green veggies, water, fresh fruit, and a variety of bright colors… but I don’t know whether I’m consuming enough healthy carbs or sufficient protein.

At the beginning of this semester, in order to combat my baffling hunger, I’ve decided to keep a log of the (measurable) carbohydrates, total fat, and protein I’m consuming during the week. Being that I’m not a registered dietician, nor am I in the habit of driving myself insane, by “measurable” I mean that raw, fresh, and whole foods will not be included (unless they are supplied with a label) — because I don’t want to measure the number of raspberries on my cereal or Google the nutrition info for one-third of a cucumber. This also means that I won’t count meals eaten out (which are typically on the weekend, anyway).

I am NOT counting calories. I hate the idea of a restrictive diet; I prefer to make an attempt at eating as many whole, fresh foods as possible to strive for balance. Sometimes, I eat what I want when I want to eat it. C’est la vie. I’m not going to get my panties in a wad over a cookie or a Diet Coke.

I am also NOT turning this exercise into one of my myriad “challenges.” I do not intend to alter the foods I normally eat to fool myself into believing my carb/fat/protein consumption is sufficient or over-and-above. I’m simply making a record so I can ascertain whether my consumption is compatible with my RDV and my level of exercise.

Not because I think you’re on the edge of your seat biting your nails with anticipation, but because blogging is an easy way to hold myself accountable, I’ll be reporting back with stats!

Here’s to (hopefully) solving my hunger woes, and to being one step closer to a fitter, more nutrition-oriented me! 😉

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Could there be a cuter way to take notes?!

[Edited to add: Today I consumed 164g carbohydrates, 39g protein, and 8g fat. Low on all counts.]

The Blog Turns One!

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It’s official: Saturday marks one year of blogging! Girl Emerging taught me tremendously about healthy living, recipes, dietary experimentation, fitness, running “competitively,” transitioning from lacto-ovo pescetarian to omnivore, and writing in a public forum. This site, as my new-ish extension of Girl Emerging and segue to more sophisticated blogging, has allowed me to expand my writing and healthy-living horizons. In fact, these days I find myself writing more randomly and freely when I don’t pigeon-hole myself as a healthy-living-blogger. I still think of myself as such, but I tend to think of the term loosely so I can incorporate a healthy “diet,” health-promoting exercise habits, mental health, and healthy daily practices (e.g. meditation, prayer, routine). I want to celebrate the first anniversary of my little slice of the blog-o-sphere (as well as accomplishing my goal of writing 250 posts by the blog’s first birthday) with something very personal.

Today’s topic is more on the serious side. I’ve been trying to find a way to write about this practically since I began blogging. Unfortunately, I haven’t told most people in my life about this topic. I apologize to those of you who were not aware previously, especially my closest friends, but this isn’t something I’m at all comfortable discussing, for numerous reasons. I’ve decided it’s finally time to reveal it in a way that some might find impersonal, but in a way that gives me (a sense of) solace and peace of mind. I’m finally relieving the pressure I have put on myself for so long to keep this secret. So, here goes:

I have a seizure disorder. It’s not technically epilepsy and I’ve never been told specifically that I suffer from grand mal seizures, so the doctors don’t want to classify it as anything other than a “seizure disorder.” It’s well-controlled on anticonvulsant medication and monitored by a neurologist now, but things haven’t always been so carefree. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything as terrifying as waking up surrounded by concerned parents and paramedics asking me questions I can’t answer, being told I’ve just experienced something I can’t remember, and feeling intensely panicked. Most of the time, my seizures caused me to bite my tongue so badly that my speech was affected for a few days, eating and drinking were miserably painful, and my tongue now has permanent tooth-shaped indentations along both sides of it. Sounds awesome, no?

Fortunately, my family knows how to cope with this when it occurs. Even more fortunately, my medication has kept me seizure-free for nearly two years. However, I will probably have to take medication for the rest of my life in order to be able to drive and live a normal life. My neurologist has told us that there is no need for me to go to the emergency room when a seizure happens as long as I’m responsive within five minutes of the end of it. This condition isn’t something that even crosses my mind on a daily basis (even when I take my medication). I’m grateful that I’ve never seriously hurt myself or someone else during a seizure, and I’m also grateful that I’m able to drive. I have had to give up my license twice for six months at a time until my doctors and the DMV could be sure that my disorder was well-controlled — for my safety as well as that of other drivers. I literally thank God that all of that is behind me and that my health is good. I also thank God that the most I have to do to continue to live and drive normally is visit my neurologist to renew a prescription and file a form with DMV annually.

The reason I chose to share this with you is because for almost ten years, I’ve kept this secret to myself. Of course, Ian knows, and my roommate of four years knew (because she had to call the paramedics one evening when we were freshmen), but precious few people have ever been informed. One of the main reasons I’ve kept it to myself is because of people’s general insensitivity. Have you ever heard someone say something to the effect of, “Looking at that strobe light is gonna give me a seizure!” Let’s be honest — people joke about heart attacks, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, strokes, intellectual disability (i.e. mental retardation) and all manner of other serious conditions — and I’m not exempt when I say “people.”

I elected to finally share this publicly for three reasons: (1) As a future counselor, I need to seriously consider clients’ co-occurring health concerns along with their mental health conditions, as well as their feelings about said medical conditions. No one except my parents and Ian have ever asked me how I felt about having a seizure disorder. Decisions were simply made for me by doctors, and I was expected to go along with them silently. (2) This is a bit premature, but Ian and I both have a love of children and want little ones of our own. That said, it may not be possible for me to become pregnant while on such medication, though as I mentioned, the medication is vital. This is something we’ll need to carefully consider with various doctors in the years to come. (3) And lastly, I’m tired of pretending that this condition doesn’t exist in my body or in my mind. It’s high time I came out with it, because there’s no shame in having this medical condition. (4) Okay, I’m ad-libbing this fourth reason, because it was unanticipated when I wrote this post several weeks ago. Sometimes things happen that are simply beyond one’s control… like my annual appointment suddenly being postponed by the doctor’s office four months after I made it. It’s not fair, it isn’t just, and people don’t deserve the medical conditions bestowed upon them by genetics or by chance. The point is, life can go on, even when things are difficult or unfair. And in the grand scheme of things, this condition hasn’t altered my life in such a way that my daily living is affected or so that I cannot live “normally.” For that and for my good general health, I am grateful.

Guess the cat is out of the bag now… So here’s to a future of confronting my fears, facing my challenges head-on, and owning every part of myself — the good, the bad, and the ugly!

P.S. Please feel free to ask me questions — it’s part of the process I began initiating weeks ago toward becoming more comfortable acknowledging and discussing my condition 🙂

Room for Improvement

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Yesterday morning, I ran all over the city for various appointments in preparation for my Practicum (internship) experience next semester. At one of my stops in the Employee Health department of the hospital, a RN took my blood pressure. It was alarmingly high: 164/97. She said it wasn’t cause for immediate worry, but I was not a happy camper. She asked me if I had any “stressors” in my life that could be elevating it.

Hmm, let me see… (1) I was in the hospital (2) in a foreign location to me and (3) I had been unable to locate the appropriate parking deck so (4) I had hiked uphill from several blocks away. I was (5) worried about being late, even though I was 25 minutes early. I (6) didn’t know what to expect from my meetings because they had been kind of haphazardly set up by a third party, and (7) I had just been informed about them four days prior. I have (8) never been comfortable driving somewhere unfamiliar to me. Oh, and (9) I was anticipating an hour-long presentation for my class last night, as well as (10) a presentation for tonight’s class. Let’s add in that (11) people have been telling me since I was 15 that I suffer from “white coat syndrome.” Stressors? Nahhh.

The nurse and I went on about our business with paperwork, and she decided to take another blood pressure reading before she sent me on my way. The second one was equally as high. She decided to pull out the old-school cuff to see if it made a difference; it didn’t, much. She recommended that the next time a blood pressure reading was available, I should consider it. I was like, obviously! I don’t want my heart beating right out of my chest. I told her that at recent doctor’s appointments, I’ve had completely normal readings, but she wasn’t convinced.

I’m not going to say it was a wake-up call. I exercise vigorously 3-5 days per week, depending upon the flexibility of my schedule. I get adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids, and eat (generally) well. I try to manage my stress by staying at least one step ahead, never procrastinating on assignments, and being organized. I know that stressors, as well as simply being in a medical setting, can elevate your blood pressure, but I was sorely disappointed that my body didn’t make a better showing. At the very least, it was a reminder that there is always room for improvement in my physical health and well-being. I’m well aware that I’m not a poster child for marathons or vegetable crusades, but the best part of fitness and eating well for me is finding new ways to constantly be upping the ante 😉

However, there was a bright spot in my day — yesterday was officially Ian’s and my third anniversary, and he had these delivered to me:

…along with this.

I think he’s pretty swell 😉

Have you ever experienced “white coat syndrome?” Do you ever have abnormal BP readings in medical or hospital settings?