Bad Things Come in Threes

A while ago, I wrote about how good things come in threes. Well, I guess bad things come in threes too.

I didn’t write a motivation progress report this week because I screwed up. I’ve been forcing myself to work and to run, but I’ve been eating junk and not tracking my calories. When I get stressed and upset the only things that seem to make it ok for a little while are eating dessert of buying stuff. Since I’ve been busy working and running, I haven’t had time to buy stuff, so that leaves eating. I really hate myself for it.

The second bad thing this week is this lesion in my mouth. It’s been three weeks and it hasn’t healed. I burned the right side of my hard palate on a nacho a while ago. It felt like the typical minor burn you get from eating something that was too hot, but then I noticed there was something hard and sharp where the burn was. Exposed bone. Great. Could I really have burned myself so badly that I exposed hard palate bone?! It didn’t hurt anymore. The burned feeling went away after a few days, but the lesion never closed. I went to the dentist to get it checked out. She doesn’t know what it is, but thinks it’s weird, so she’s sending me to an oral pathologist. Why does all this weird stuff happen to me?! I just don’t want to deal with it right now (or fork out $300 for the appointment). I took the next available appointment with the oral pathologist which is guess when….. my birthday! How would you like a bone biopsy for your birthday?! Brilliant. This bone thing was kind of sharp, so it was really bothering me. Not really painful, more annoying, like a canker except sharp. So I got fed up and I pulled it out. I don’t know if that was such a good idea, but it’s out and feels better. Now there’s a big dent where the bone was. It feels like the hole that’s left behind after you pull a baby tooth out as a kid. I saved the bone shard in case the pathologist wants it. I wonder whats going on. Hopefully I’ll find out Tuesday.

The third bad thing really puts my whole exposed bone trauma into perspective. One of our friends has cancer. She and my husband met as teenagers and have been best buddies for nearly 15 years. Since Hubby and I have known each other for 10 years, I’ve obviously become pretty good friends with her. Lynn loves animals, works at an animal hospital and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. It breaks my heart when such awful things happen to such good people. She’s 32 and two days ago she was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer that has spread to her liver. How does this stuff happen so fast?! She thought she had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)! The doctors have told her it’s treatable, so she’ll take 6 months off work to do chemotherapy. Treatable?! Is that code for something I don’t know about? I think doctors forget sometimes that what is base knowledge to them is not to everyone else. As I scientist, I forget all the time, but it’s not my job to diagnose people and explain to them what is going on. Lynn thinks she is going back to work in six months. She’s looking at her time off as a vacation. No one explained to her what metastasis means. No one told her that there is a 6% survival rate after this cancer has spread to another organ. I’ve spoken to some of my twitter friends who have known people in similar circumstances. They had 6 months after diagnosis. I don’t know how to face her knowing this. I’m not going to be the one to tell her. She was supposed to meet with the oncologist yesterday. Hopefully they gave her a better definition of “treatable”. This is the kind of thing you see on TV, it’s not the kind of thing that actually happens to someone you care about. I’m in shock and feel totally sick about the whole thing.

I’m trying really hard to stay positive. Miracles do happen. She’s not just a statistic. She’s pretty healthy otherwise, there is hope. For now, we’re going to focus on her birthday which is on Thursday. We want to do something fun for her before chemo starts.

If anyone has known someone with colorectal cancer, or cancer with metastasis to the liver, I’d really like to hear from you, to know more about it.

Cake Binge

I like food too much. I rely on sweets, cake in particular, wayyy too much. Cake is what I want when I feel down or have had a stressful day. Cake is what I want to celebrate reaching the end of something or accomplishing something difficult. Is it weird that the answer to everything, good or bad is cake? I want it even when I’m bored. Especially now that I’m watching my calories, I think about food constantly and the urge to binge on sweets of all kinds is really strong. If I hold out and don’t binge, the urge gets stronger, but if I give in and have a piece of cake, I’m afraid I wont be able to stop myself from eating the whole thing. Sometimes I wish I were one of those people who get sick from having too much sugar or dessert that’s too rich. I’m not though. My stomach can handle endless amounts of it.

I love cake

I wish there were more dessert restaurants around here. I think that would help me with portion control. I could go out, pay to have one piece of cake and be done with it. No leftovers to worry about. All the dessert restaurants have slowly closed since I’ve move here though, even the grocery store has stopped making my favourite little treat. It seems like the only way to get my fix is to buy a whole cake these days.

I know eating is addictive. Sugar especially, activates the same dopamine reward pathway in the brain as many addictive drugs. Low levels of serotonin and dopamine, as is the case in depression, can lead to compulsive behaviour, like a binge. The medications I am on are meant to increase dopamine and serotonin. When I don’t take my meds, I end up eating even more. Also, studies have shown that people with stress or anxiety are more prone to reward-seeking behaviour. They end up losing perspective, prioritizing the reward over the regret they’ll feel later. This is definitely me!

Why can’t I stop? I know binge eating is bad for my health and my appearance. Just knowing that should be enough to deter me, but it’s not. What would my fat say if it could talk? How is binge eating helping me? If I were eating for good reasons, what would they be? I know, it’s stupid. There are no good reasons for eating like this. Life would be better without fat and binges. The parts of life that would improve if I dropped to 120lbs are not the parts that keep eating cake. But, if I keep doing something, then there must be a benefit to it, otherwise there would be no reason to do it, right?

I don’t think I’ll be able to stop until I find out what my reason for eating is. What am I trying to fix by eating? Maybe I am trying to get more joy out of life. Eating is something I have to make time for anyway, so I eat junk hoping to fit more joy into my schedule. My time is precious and I feel like I have so much to do that I need to use my time wisely, be productive. Doing something simply for the joy of it is not an option. That’s selfish and inefficient. So I turn eating, something I have to do to survive, into something that gives me joy. This links back to sugar activating the dopamine pathway in the brain which creates the feeling of joy. It also creates the addiction, which just perpetuates the cycle.

Does this make sense at all? It would mean in order to stop eating so much I would have to find a different source of joy. What do you do to to bring yourself joy or make yourself feel rewarded?

Gratification for Surviving the Day

I often feel like I need something to look forward to get through things. I used to get really depressed during exam period in undergrad. To get through all the monotonous studying I’d pick a TV show to look forward to. If I did some good solid studying during the day, I’d stop and watch the TV show at night. I was lucky my folks had enough channels that there was always something interesting on.

I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, my daily tasks have gotten bigger and bigger. Three weeks of solid studying for exams is tough by most standards, but now, getting out of bed is hard, going to work is hard, making a meal is hard. Things that I took for granted before have become daunting tasks that I need to have a reason for doing. Most of the time I rely on logic to get things done. I get out of bed because nothing will get done otherwise. I go to work because I want to finish my Ph.D. I make meals because I’ll feel sick if I don’t eat. Logic doesn’t give me much pleasure though.

My basket of rewards has gotten smaller over the years too. TV shows no longer interest me very much and they don’t feel like much of a reward after a daunting task. For a while, I was putting money aside. For everyday that I participated in and didn’t hide, I’d put a little bit of money away. Eventually I’d have enough to buy myself something I wanted. That worked until I started my Ph.D. Now there is no money.

Lately I’ve turned to sweets as a reward. I get one of those giant cupcakes I mentioned in an earlier post once a week. They are only a few bucks or if things are too tight, I can persuade myself to bake. But now, not only am I gaining weight, but once a week isn’t quite enough. I need a new reward. I’ve thought about trying drawing as a reward, but I already use that as an outlet for stress and a way to recharge my batteries. I can’t really deny myself my drawing time if I don’t participate in life for some reason. Any suggestions?

What do you look forward to? What do you use to treat yourself? Or to bribe yourself to get moving?

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