Friday, August 18, 2017

A Hard Roe to Hoe

The two months following my slip on the ice constitute the most difficult period in my life to date; I don't expect to experience worse without dying. I knew that if I just let myself become house-bound, as I did after my previous accident, I wouldn't survive. I think fearing for my life actually pushed me through it.

I eventually got back to work, although I had to modify my station so I didn't have to bend down to grab anything; bending was near impossible with the Jewett brace. I had to relearn my knife skills with my right hand. I really should have taken a dose of marijuana tea before work but I've always hated working with people on drugs. Working without it, though, left me in agony.

I frequently had early morning appointments at the hospital. I had a terrible phobia about ice so I often shook as I trundled over ice with my cane. I didn't go out for smoke breaks at work anymore because I was afraid of the icy sidewalks. My commute was much longer because I was too afraid to walk down the hill to get directly on the metrobus. Even showering took longer because I had to keep my cast dry.

Everything was harder to do and took much longer than before. By the end of the day my muscles ached as I adapted to missing 40%, then 42%, and finally 44% of my crushed vertebrae. Clamping myself into the Jewett brace made me wince. I hated the cast.

Everyday seemed to last 30 hours and at the end of it I needed my marijuana tea. Every night, as it sank in, I could finally relax and sink into my bed for the night.

I counted minutes all day long as I learned to go an hour at a time without so much as a sip of water. Eventually I was going 2 hours, and then I started having just water every 2 hours and maybe a hard candy or a cigarette after 4 hours. I added spaghetti with 3 tablespoons of low-salt tomato sauce to the menu, and often had a low-sodium V8 and half an apple with lunch. I also began adding fruit to my morning oatmeal.

One day I noticed the bag of hard candies on my printer and realized I couldn't remember putting it there. That's when I realized I had put it there days ago and not even thought about the candies since. I was finally having 3 meals a day and zero snacks. I also realized I no longer smoked until the end of the day when I had my marijuana tea. That's when I realized I hadn't had any of that tea in a few days.

At some point after about 2 months of struggling to go longer and longer without snacking and just stick to my diet, the struggling stopped. It had just become routine. My BMI had dropped from 43 to 37 during that two month period. That's when I went out and bought a digital bathroom scale. I hadn't had one for over ten years.

People keep asking me for recipes and what I ate to lose so much weight. I believe it's more about the how than the what but I'll tell you what I was eating by the end of that first two months.

For breakfast I had plain oatmeal (about 275 calories) with a cup of fruit (maybe 100 calories) and three ounces of 1% milk (maybe 40 calories), 3 ounces of orange juice ( 40 calories ), and one to one and a half ounces of lean roasted meat or chicken ( 70 calories ).

For lunch I would cook 85 grams of spaghetti (315 calories), top it with 3 ounces of low salt tomato sauce (25 calories), and a third of a can of tuna (110 calories). I usually had a can of low-sodium V8 (70 calories) and half an apple (maybe 30 calories).

For dinner I ate about 300 grams of boiled potato (300 calories) with a cup of frozen veggies tossed in (120 calories), topped with 3 ounces of low salt tomato sauce (25 calories). I usually added about 2 ounces of lean roasted meat or chicken (100 calories).

Did I enjoy that food? No, I did not. That's not even what I ate for the whole two months anyway. I already stated that I had to struggle to stop snacking. To that end my goal was to get down to having three meals that were between 500 and 600 calories of old fashioned hospital food. I wanted to hit a reset button on my palate so that, when I started adding variety, things like carrot sticks would taste good again.

In the early days, I kept my snacks limited to things like a half cup of plain popcorn, or one hard candy, or ten nibs. I worked hard to increase the time between a meal and a snack and then I started replacing those snacks with a cup of tea, or maybe a glass of low-sodium V8. I no longer let taste dictate what I ate; I decided what I needed to be eating and then pushed myself to eat just that.

As I said, by the end of the two months, fighting pain and fear of another fall, having long hard days of physical recovery, I had made a very bland, sparse diet part of my normal routine. I let myself have one 'indulgence meal' per week. Often it was a nice omelette with one slice of toast because I would only indulge flavour and not the desire to fill my belly to bursting. Fortunately I could just prepare that meal at work so I didn't need to fill my cupboards with savoury ingredients.

By the end of that first two months, I didn't experience any hunger. I usually didn't want to eat my next meal because it sucked. I told myself when to eat and what to eat, for the first time in my life.

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