Gray Follow-up: 1 Yearish Later

Absence makes the heart grow fonder?? I return with an ending to my ‘growing out the gray’ saga, discovering that the middle was really, really boring. There were no road-blocks, mini-goals, or suspense of any kind. No products were used to alleviate any discomfort. Even the hair cuts were of no real consequence, until now.

When I see photos of myself, as a member of the ‘gray lifestyle’, it’s still a little surprising. Such a change from the light brown-dark blonde (my usual), to the gray mix. I’m pleased with the shade, I love the cut, and over-all, presently the best decision I’ve made. When I walk down the hair dye aisle at the store, I feel myself grinning and delighting in my new-found freedom! It’s one more thing off my to-do list.

As I get older, my ability to let go of my self-esteem issues becomes stronger. I accept more of what I have been given, especially since returning to better self-care with exercise and diet. A little bit of good health changes ones perspective in so many ways. I encourage everyone to LET IT GO! It’s a rush!

So here is the before and after…yikes!

Before

After

After

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3 Simple Steps: How To Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate

A while ago I shared my thoughts on why it is so difficult to be and stay healthy, with a focus on body weight. You can read it here.

I will be expanding on each of the eight points I made, beginning with the next post. What I write about comes from my own personal experiences and observations. Everyone is different when it comes to health, because of various health issues, body type, emotional stress, coping skills, age, and so on.

As individuals–our health–needs to be approached as such.

I thought I would start off with a very important issue, something I learned a few years back; how to be my own healthcare advocate. This will also work if a friend or family member is unable to do this on their own. I strongly suggest this as a way to improve communication with your doctor. Also, to figure out where you stand with diet, exercise, and your overall health; increasing your level of knowledge.

1. Do you have difficulty remembering all the details that you wanted to tell your doctor?

This is big, and one of the most important points. If your doctor does not know all the details, how then can he help you?

Before heading to the doctor’s office, take some time, lots of time if necessary, and think about what’s going on. Find a quiet place, and bring a pen and paper with you. Really consider your emotional state, because you will want to be completely honest with yourself, for your own safety. Start paying attention to how your body works. If you start imagining or making stuff up, you won’t get the help you need.

Jot down some notes as you remember; what, where, when, and how.

  • What is the most pressing issue? The most recent? Work back from there. Go back years, if you have to, and be specific.
  • Where were you when you noticed the symptoms? What may be some factors that set it off? Perhaps it was a very hot day. What were you doing differently?
  • When did it start? When did it stop?
  • How long did it last? Making a timeline is an easy way to visualize, for you and for your doctor.
  • Does it integrate with an existing health problem?
  • Why do you think this is important? Not everything needs a doctor, so be sure. Ask someone if you aren’t.
  • Know about the medications you take, including supplements. The pharmacy can print out a list of your medications, make sure you or someone you know, has knowledge of why you take them.

2. Do you feel like your doctor is really listening to you?

This is where detailed notes come in handy. The more detail, the better.

  • Google until you can’t Google anymore. There is a surplus of information , so you do have to take your time going through it very carefully; comparing and compiling your notes. Take this seriously, remember to be realistic. Ask a friend or family member for their opinion.
  • This will raise some questions that you can ask; listing symptoms, and giving you solutions. All of this is for clarification. This is not about being a hypochondriac. Getting answers is not always easy, but if you go in with your questions written down along with some possible solutions, they will more likely be answered.

Let’s face it, doctors do not know everything, nor can they remember everything. They have many patients, all with different issues, and they are very overworked. I’ve noticed dramatic results from taking my health seriously, learning everything I can about my own issues, and bringing up my results during the visit. I think it challenges them, keeps them on their toes, and you end up with some answers through an informed discussion. If your doctor doesn’t like playing that way, find another doctor. Some of them can be a bit pompous, but do gather up your self-confidence and go for it. You have nothing to lose.

3. Do you feel rushed through your visit?

There is a simple way to stop that.

  • When you are making your appointment, state that you need to discuss some issues and need some extra time to do so. The appointments are usually 10-15 minute blocks, and they do overbook in advance of probable cancellations.
  • Take with you, two copies of your detailed timelines, questions, etc. One is for you and the other one is for the doctor. If you go into the detail, that I suggested above, then they don’t have to write everything down, and have time to focus on you. This is also handy, as it will be added to your file for future reference.
  • When you hand over the extra copy, tell him what it is, and that you would like to go over it with him. You can also add, if you are feeling brave, that you will not leave until each question has been answered sufficiently.

My health is a work in progress, and I continue to write down, (like a journal), anything new that arises. Essentially, I have created a baseline for ongoing health concerns. I never head to the doctors office without my notes, and I don’t leave until I have my questions answered. I’ve also learned a great deal about myself, during this process.

I’m sure that some of you may find this a bit ‘whiny’ or ‘obsessive compulsive’. Maybe you never ask questions, and just go along with what the doctor says. That’s up to you, of course, but I want to be in charge of my health; looking at the bigger picture and how it all relates.

If you have anything to add to this, please feel free to leave a suggestion below. As always comments are welcomed and encouraged!

 

 

8 Thoughts on Health

Why is it such a challenge, a struggle, to be healthy? Attitude, society, availability and affordability of healthy options…maybe? I think that the majority of us (adults), are well aware of what we need to be doing to be healthy, and we all use the same excuses, to not be. Myself included. Yes, there are many health reasons that can put some extra weight on us, or make it more challenging; thyroid issues, diabetes, arthritis, and any physical disability. The list goes on, but, we do have control over what and how much, we put into our mouths. That, even over exercise, is a huge component in weight loss and over-all health.

1. Television ads of fast food, cereals, snack bars, etc., entice us with the happy looking, healthy looking, slim and fit looking couple or family; who of course, have the perfect relationships and the happiest of lives. This is wonderful! Don’t we all want that? So lets buy that food, and then we will be happy forever. They convince us that food has a therapeutic value, and yes it does. However, there are many other healthier options for providing therapy, that don’t lead us to more therapy. You will also see how quick and easy it is to cook a meal from scratch, should only take thirty seconds, yes? Turn it off. Have limits on how much you watch per day. Make sure you’ve eaten a healthy meal before you zone out or you will be participating in a little something called ‘unconscious eating’; that hard to break habit of force feeding yourself some sugary or salty snack.

2. Our lives are so hectic (or so we think), that we eat in our cars, while at our computers, or in front of the television. Here’s a new concept; turn the television off, turn your computer off, turn your phone off, and just eat. Savour each mouthful, taste the food, be mindful. Show gratitude for the food you eat. Enjoy some conversation over the breakfast, lunch, or dinner table. Make eating a pleasurable experience. You will begin to build a routine that way, which will only lead to other positive changes. Take charge and be consistent, give it a chance. Nothing happens in a day or two, obviously.

3. We take the road well travelled, not intentionally, but because it feels easier, faster, and fills the gaping hole inside of us, so we can get back to doing other, more fun, time-wasting, mind-numbing, stuff. A sugary snack (instead of a healthy one), can give you a high, and while you are in this high, you can do and be anything. Then you fall from the sky, as if your parachute didn’t deploy. When you hit bottom, your emotions are free to trample your heart and your thoughts, then your high ends on an even lower note than the day before. This is the vicious cycle that so many of us are caught in. I’m looking in the mirror right now. Changing your entire maddening behaviour, is all it takes. Just get out of your head and make the changes. I know, I know, it’s not that easy! It really is though, just your attitude that is holding you back. Your excuses, the lies you tell yourself, become your truth. One day at a time, downhill or uphill. It is a choice.                                                                                                          

healthy fruits and vegetables

4. It can be expensive, the fruit and vegetable isle. Low income presents a huge problem. Depending on our location, we could grow our own gardens, freeze and can the food for winter. That is time consuming, and if someone has a long commute, or has to work two jobs, when would they have time to garden? Or could they have a garden, if they lived in an apartment building, in the middle of a busy city? Would there be enough fresh food to sufficiently feed a family of four or more? It seems that there is always a sacrifice of one thing for another. Depends on what you most want, what is most important to you. It’s the ‘get out of your head’ thing again. New study confirms that eating healthy does indeed cost more…  Even if we eat healthy food, we still aren’t getting all the nutrients required; enter supplements. Even a really good multivitamin is not going to help meet those needs. If you are going to take supplements, choose ones that will address your individuality. –and yes, supplements add an extra monthly expense. Yay!                                                                                                     

floating rock clock in the sky

5. The amount of time it takes to prepare fresh food daily, is mind blowing. The daily routine becomes much longer, albeit a healthier one. You are standing and moving about while slicing and dicing, and not being a couch potato. I attempted this a while back, making huge salads (to last a few days), and preparing mostly vegetables for meals. It literally sucked up my days. I don’t enjoy cooking at the best of times–just ask my guy–but this was ridiculous. I ended up wanting to do anything else but prepare food. Honestly, when will ‘They’ come up with a pill, that covers all your nutritional needs and fills you up? I’m sure I would still have an occasional treat, and my green tea lattes, but I definitely am not a ‘live to eat’ girl. I am an ‘eat to live’ girl. On a positive note, the four days that I completely cut out sugar, white flour, white rice, anything processed, my energy level went through the roof. A hill that might have noticeably increased my breathing, had no effect at all. That lasted a good few weeks, even though I added back a few things to my diet. Why then, since I felt so divine, am I not continuing? Well, that is a good question, isn’t it?

6. Exercise. Some of you may be so far in denial, that you question what that even is. I block out exercise sometimes. I go in stages where I do wonderfully, and then I will get slammed with some physical ailment (could be a cold with a hacking cough), that will put a crashing halt to my routine. I love routine, and right now, I’m searching everywhere for the one I lost a while back. Isn’t there someone, somewhere, that can do it for me instead? It goes back to the time thing again, exercise takes time, so if you can’t find the time, then make the time. If you wrote down all your necessary tasks, including sleep, and the time allotted, there would probably be some time to fit in a few sit-ups, push-ups, or some yoga. You would probably be surprised. Simple. Instead of watching your favourite television show, go for a walk. Yah, that’ll work.

7. We have this grand vision of what we will look like, once we’ve started to eat better and exercise. Forgetting of course, that the changes are small, and stretched out over time. Make your goals achievable, baby steps. Don’t get stressed out if you take longer to achieve a goal or fail to achieve one. Just start again. A daily goal of eating carrots for a snack, and getting in your twenty minute walk, is a start and is achievable. Or, pick one of those, and just start. Then, because you achieved, you feel happy, you want to repeat it. That’s the idea anyhow.                                                                 

people exercising with weights

8. You will most likely fail, if you have no support system. A support system is a must if you are to be successful long term. We seem to need the basic information to health, pounded into our brains on a regular basis. As an example; Weight Watchers holds weekly meetings. Some of the information shared is quite simple, and even silly to some, but nonetheless, very effective. It’s all about showing up, being accountable to yourself in front of others. Knowing that you are not alone in your challenge or struggle. You may even meet some new friends, who by the way, are like-minded people who can be added to your support system.

After all this, we must remember that our attitude holds huge sway, when it comes to our choices. Strength of character? You can do it! We are also the role models for our kids, and if we eat crappy, our kids probably will too. If we are heavy, then our kids will probably follow suit. Why not be the positive example for others, at work, at school, and at home. The more you have on your team, the easier it will become.

Writing 101        As always, your comments are welcomed and encouraged! Don’t be shy!

The Twelve Year Old

She comes out every morning in a silly, orange and pink, housecoat. I think she’s had it forever. It looks like she can hardly make it down the two steps to the walk-way. That’s where the paper lands, once it leaves the older boy’s hand. He rides by very fast, I don’t know how he gets it in the same spot every day. I’ve seen him around, other places–“Oh! Here she comes,” I whisper to myself, feeling some sort of weird excitement.

I sit on the front steps of a neighbour’s house, in the morning before school. I walk their little boy to school, and they pay me. At the same time every morning, I see the old lady’s door open slowly. Everything is slow about her. She is old, I guess that’s why. I don’t want to get like that, all wrinkled. Mom and Dad are getting wrinkled too, they are so old. It took her fifteen minutes, according to my beautiful new watch, payed for with my babysitting money, to get her paper and go back in the house.

I heard my parents talking about her a while ago, something about her getting kicked out. Mr. Pauley died three months ago, and the house looks like it’s going to fall apart any day. I think it had something to do with her not having any money left. I remember Mr. Pauley, he used to be the one to come out and get the paper, but he would stand outside with his face up to the sky. I think he was a bit looney. That’s sad that he’s gone now. He said hi to me once, and asked me how I was. He seemed okay.

I didn’t know that she had kids, who were all grown up now. I’ve never seen them visit her. I don’t think I like them very much. I’m pretty sure that I would visit my mom, if she was alone like that. I wonder if that’s one of her kids. Why are the police coming. I watch intently, a little on edge, at the scene play out in front of me. The police were taking Mrs. Pauley out of her house. It looked like she was pulling back, but they didn’t let her go. She still had her housecoat on. “She’s in her housecoat,” I shouted as I ran across the street. “She’s in her housecoat. Where are you taking her? She needs to get dressed.”

Mrs. Pauley sat in the back of the police car and stared out the window. It looked like she was crying. No one spoke to me. I watched the car as it pulled away. Jimmy called to me from his front steps.

As always comments are welcomed and encouraged!

Writing 101

Gray Follow-up; Two Months Down

To start, I have to comment on how remarkably slow this going gray is. Everything else seems to speed by and sometimes, even without me noticing. Why the difference? I suppose my anticipation of having it complete, hangs out in the forefront of my thoughts. I also want to note, that it has been more than two months. I was about six weeks in, when I made the decision.

gray hair

 

 

So far, so good. It’s definitely spreading! I only ever hear comments from the mirror herself; they are generally good, depending on her mood. When I’m away from the mirror, I don’t think about it at all. When I go into a store and walk down the hair dye aisle, it doesn’t enter my head. It’s such a relief to not have that six-eight week mark, in your brain at all times, so that if you are in a store, you can pick up a box. DONE WITH THAT!

 

gray hairI don’t think I look any older, I certainly don’t look any younger, but how young do I want to look? I’d be content with looking my age. It’s taken me quite a few years to get here, and yes, I’ve earned those years, along with the wisdom that came with them. I’ve no desire to use a semi-permanent yet, but as it grows out, that is an option I will keep open. Apparently you can get clear coats, which add moisture and nutrients, without any colour. Don’t need those yet, but again, I will keep as an option.

I think I’ll go a little shorter, maybe another inch off the bottom. I do like to be able to pull it back from my face, but the shorter it is, the more wave I have. We’ll see.

I still haven’t heard from any one else who would like to join me. To anyone listening: I feel freer, more authentic, the further along I am. I actually find this fun; watching the changes in the mirror, and then sharing it with the world. Well, maybe not the world, but a world bigger than mine was before. Anyone??

You can read about my decision to go gray, here.

More good, gray, reads!

25 “Gray Hair” Bloggers Who Rock

My First Dependent

lynx point siamese tabby pet cat

I adopted a beautiful kitten, whom I named Quaker, after searching in encyclopaedias, (yes, it was that long ago), for a cool, and unusual name. Accomplished! My first pet, as a independent, working, woman. She grew up in my apartment, and therefore, was an inside kitty. Unfortunately, for all of my family, she became a cranky kitty, with an attitude. I never had a problem with her. She didn’t scare me.

In the corner of my living room, I had a ginormous dieffenbachia, (no joke), in a ginormous pot. A lipstick plant used to live at the bottom of the dieffenbachia, but, eventually died, leaving visible dirt. It did not matter what I used to deter the cat, she would stir up that dirt, making a mess on my carpet. Of course, this was done while I was at work. After several store-bought, trial runs with disincentives, and failing, I had one left to test. Some sort of twist-tie with a deterrent attached, was tied to the bottom stalk of the plant. When I came home from work, I found it chewed up, by the front door. Years later, someone told me I should have put large rocks at the base of the plant. Shoulda, woulda, coulda!

My friend would cat-sit for me, when I went away. Quaker would race around on her quilt, and put little picks in it. Needless to say, she was not very happy about that. I thank you, friend, from the bottom of my heart, for looking after my kitty.

lynx point siamese tabby cat pet

When we moved to North Vancouver, she went out in the backyard. She didn’t venture very far, as she was getting older, and was a bit sickly. Her weight increased, and she had bad arthritis. She was still cranky though, but, not to me, nor to repair men. A weird attraction to repair men, she had. Quaker was diagnosed with diabetes, so she went on a diabetic diet, and I had to test her blood, and give her insulin. Oh, joy. Her health was not improving, and one lady vet, suggested to the girl at the desk, that owners should not be overfeeding their pets. I should have, in no uncertain terms, given her my thoughts on that. However, at the time, I was completely taken aback, and had no response.

The next vet I took her to, was a naturopathic vet. She decided that Quaker was allergic to the diabetic diet. (Huge, sigh). I put her on the ‘raw food diet’, and within a week or two, she was off the insulin, and losing weight. Her arthritis improved quite a bit, but, her kidneys were getting the best of her. There was always a wet mess around the cat box.

lynx point siamese tabby cat pet with beagle coonhound dog

Quaker had new life in her, and she got another three years of a somewhat healthier life. She was happier, she lost all her extra weight, was more content, could fold her paws under, and didn’t sleep on her back anymore. Happier that is, until we adopted McKay. Notice how they are keeping a close eye on one another. They eventually got used to each other, but, were never good friends. McKay knew her place, Quaker was Queen.

Then comes my first experience, of taking a pet to be put down. She was hurting, and I could see that. Her litter box couldn’t keep up with her, as her kidneys were worsening; from the diabetes and such. I drove her to the naturopath, to have this done. She gave her an exam, and then told me that she would not do it. Quaker could take some pills and have a dramatic recovery. Honestly, I could have screamed, had I not been so emotional, and teary. I marched her off to the other vet; to my relief, they agreed with me, and they put her to sleep.

A gut-wrenching experience, that I know I will have to repeat at some point. In the end, Quaker looked so very peaceful, no more pain, and that made me happy. I know she keeps an eye on me, my beautiful girl.

Just a head’s up, for anyone wishing to get on my nerves: with years of experience under my belt, I will, in a calm, assertive manner, give you my thoughts.

As always, comments are welcomed, and encouraged.

Gray Follow-up; One Month Down

I can definitely fit this daily prompt, into my post. GREAT EXPECTATIONS. This will be quite the transformation, and if I make it, when I make it, there will be a celebration to end all celebrations! Probably, just a glass of wine, at home, with my guy, or something like that. I’m sure this will take me into 2015, but, the end of the year, is a great goal.

So far, so good! I’m a bit relieved, when I see myself looking back from the bathroom mirror. It’s still early on, but the gray looks to be blending well. The final colour I chose to dye my hair was a good choice, it seems. Not sure if that will be the case when I have four inches of gray growth, but, one step at a time.

I'm okay with this.

I’m okay with this.

These are my roots now. I have trouble seeing it, but, I have been told by a couple of family members that there is some silver happening in there. Pretty psyched about that…’rainy day’ gray can take a hike!

Parted just above my ear, a little frightening. Good thing I don't normally part my hair here.

Parted just above my ear, a little frightening. Good thing I don’t normally part my hair here.

There have been no random comments, from any Peanut Gallery, so far…I guess it’s not too noticeable yet. One note to self; these pictures are taken in natural light…it looks less gray in the bathroom mirror. I’m still loving my shorter cut! Signing off until next month… excited, pumped, and smiling!

You can read about my decision to ‘go gray’ here.

Is anyone joining me? Would love to have some companions on this journey! It’s exciting! Really!