Category Archives: Health

Diary of a fat black woman

Here we go again…..

Weight. It seems to haunt each and every one of us. Whether we feel too fat or too thin, it is a rare specimen that feels happy with their body. I am with the majority, feeling very unhappy with myself but I believe that my feelings are warranted. I have never felt slim but then I guess the times I was at a healthy weight I was too young and carefree to notice.

If you have read any of my Diary of a sick black woman articles then you will know about my health issues over the last year. If you haven’t read them I will give you a quick run down. In April 2018 I ruptured a disc in my back which gave me some mobility issues. I had a day surgery in August 2018 to alleviate some of my symptoms and came out worse than I went in. I was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease which means I will have limited mobility for life and will always suffer from chronic pain.

Limited mobility means that I am not burning as many calories as the average person. There was a period of time during which I was bed-bound and then slowly I began to learn to walk again and that contributed greatly to my weight gain. I now have a fulfilling life, going to work each day and out with the family but I have had to make changes to accommodate my needs. Unfortunately, one of the things I didn’t change was my eating habits, in fact they got worse. Because when you are in pain and barely able to move you don’t want to cook. You just want to pull up Just Eat and see who can deliver to your door. That means there was a lot of Chinese food, KFC and other take-aways in my life on a weekly basis.

So, having gotten to a larger than life weight I decided that I was going to try and lose some. I tried counting calories, Slimming World, Noom, I seemed to either not lose much weight at all or I’d fall off the wagon a few weeks in. This time I am sharing my weight loss journey with my readers and I hope this will give me enough accountability to stick with it.

1st August 2019 is the start date. I weighed in that morning at 16 stone and 7.75lbs. That’s approximately 232lbs which, at 5′ 9″, gives me a BMI of 33.1. According to the NHS BMI calculator a healthy weight for my height is 8st 13lb – 12st 1lb. I am going to aim for 12st. Losing 4st seems like a daunting quest but it has been done a hundred times before me and will be done a hundred times again, whether I am successful or not.

Some come along on this magic ride with me. Watch my vlog on my YouTube channel and give me a comment or two whether on here or on there. It may be an encouraging word, a recipe you want to share or even so exercise tips for ambulatory wheelchair users.

Ke-what-sis?

It’s not easy trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight when you have a sedentary lifestyle.

Since I ruptured a disc in my back and was diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease I have gained over 35lbs. It seemed to creep up on me. I was so focused on learning to walk again and reducing my constant pain that I didn’t think about my weight.

Having a sedentary lifestyle means that exercising to lose weight is very difficult. I had tried wheelchair workouts but most included bending or lifting, neither of which I could do. So what is the solution?

My first stop was Slimming World. This seemed so great. There were so many success stories that I was an immediate convert. I brought my sister to group and she lost a stone, my mother reversed her pre-diabetes and lost a stone and a half and is happily living at target weight. I was not so successful.

Slimming World promotes cooking healthy meals and standing in the kitchen just caused my back to ache. Also, I am kinda lazy! I didn’t find the ready meals available in Iceland appealing and so I constantly made bad food choices.

My next stop was Parsley Box. After seeing the ad in a Mobility magazine I looked at the meals on the site and loved that the meals were both low in price and in calories. They tasted ok but were nothing to write home about and with that drive thru Mc D’s on my drive home, things still weren’t going well.

My next step was my GP. This was good because she referred me to the NHS Nutrition and Dietetics service and took bloods to see if there was a medical reason behind my inability to lose weight. In the meanwhile she asked me to practice intermittent fasting but I could eat normally during non fasting hours. I guess my normally is not actually normal. I followed that for two weeks and gained 5lbs.

The worse news is that my bloods came back and in addition to worrying results related to other things, I also now have high cholesterol.

That was the final straw. I’ve researched and decided to aim for a keto adapted state, this means getting into ketosis and staying there for a while but let me explain a bit further.

Ketosis

If this is something you’ve only heard skinny peeps taking about on TV and YouTube you are not alone. If you eat healthily your body should go into ketosis every day. We all know that carbs and sugars give the body the energy it needs to function. When your metabolism has finished all the glucose it has converted from your last meal it then resorts to burning your stored fat to function until you eat again. When your back boobs and buddha belly are being used to run your body ketones are produced. Monitoring these levels with strips are a good way to check if you are going in the right direction.

Keto fat adapted

Now although ketosis is widely spoken about keto fat adapted is a less common term. When you start your keto journey your body is still learning. For your whole life your body has always used the carbs and sugars from your food first and then, if you’re lucky, reached for your stored fat if it ran out. When you keep up a keto lifestyle for long enough your body adapts and gives in to using fats to fuel your body.

All those terrible side effects you’ve been battling lift like rain clouds caught in a summer breeze. The irritability, fatigue, lightheadedness, nausea, headaches, weakness, muscle twitches – all gone. These symptoms are your body throwing its toys out of the pram but, just like a belligerent baby, if you hold your ground the rewards are so very worth it.

When keto fat adapted you will feel fuller sooner, reducing overeating, the carb cravings will go away and your energy will increase. The icing on this low carb donut is the weight loss!

And now to me20190407_1838098633737516532050238.jpg

So after spouting all of this as if I were an expert I am inviting you to come along with me on this weight loss journey. Keep me accountable, give me tips, be encouraged. Whatever you take away from this let me know.

As I adjust and, hopefully, succeed I will keep you informed, share my recipes, chronic pain workout tips and (Lord, help me) maybe a photo or two.

Wish me luck. See you along the way.

10 things to do when returning to work after long term illness

There are so many reasons why any one of us could be off work with a long term illness. Returning to work may seem daunting and even overwhelming. Take these 10 steps to ensure you are ready.

1. Talk to your employer.

While you are off sick keep regular contact with your employer. It may just be an email once a month to see how things are but keeping in touch reassures your employer you intend to return. Agree a provisional return date and increase contact closer to the time.

2. Talk to your GP and or consultant.

Speak to your medical team and let them know you intend to go back to work. They may have advise on support your employer can give you or equipment necessary. They can also amend or advise regarding medication at work.

3. Consider a phased return.

Instead of jumping back in full force, which may be setting yourself up for a fall, consider a phased return to work. Maybe half days or less days per week and work your way up to full hours.

4. Have a workplace assessment.

Ask your employer for ergonomic workplace assessment. Having this done before your return could ease your transition into work

5. Ensure all equipment has been bought and is in place.

If there is any equipment recommended by your medical team or by the workplace assessment ensure that this is all ordered with a delivery date in good time.

6. Consider travel.

Look into whether the journey you used to make into work is still feasible. If your condition affects your resilience factor in travelling time into your proposed work day.

7. Support network.

Establish and mobilise your support network. Whether it’s making sure that meals are cooked and ready for you to reheat in the evenings, giving you a lift to work or taking care of the shopping – any help is going to be a Godsend.

8. Bulk cooking. Consider cooking in bulk and separating portions for freezing. This will help on those days you are too tired to cook and can be taken for lunch when the time comes.

9. Sort out medication. The routine that you have fallen into while you have been off work is about to change drastically. It is not unusual for you to forget to take your medication because of the changes. Make sure you have the medication you need to take while you are out of the house and set reminders. Failure to take your medication can be a set back to your health and your return to work.

10. Lastly, feedback if it is too much. Monitor the way you feel throughout your work day and also through the week. If you feel overwhelmed feedback to your employer or your GP. A slight change in work hours or medication are just a couple of the changes that can be made.

Most employers are very accommodating when it comes to returning to work. Legally your employer has an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to ensure you are able to work if you have a disability. If your employer does not have their own Occasional Health department then a free workplace assessment can be done through the government scheme Access To Work.

Overall enjoy yourself. I, for one, really grew frustrated at being home and useless for so long and I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work. Don’t stress yourself out, enjoy it!.

Wheelchair Friendly London

 

Sometimes I have to wonder who I think I am. It’s true that a lot of people ignore a cause until it affects them personally. I guess I’m just one of those people. If you have been reading my health posts you will know that I am currently using a wheelchair. Having never had to use a chair before, every difficulty faced is new to me. Like the first time I tried to get on a bus, only the driver dropped the ramp without actually lowering the bus and I tried to wheel myself up I flipped over onto my back. Hello A&E.

 

 

Continue reading Wheelchair Friendly London

Diary of a sick black woman: 6 of 6 – Escape is imminent

Progress! I was seen by a different doctor from the surgical team. She ordered an MRI to see what was going on with my back and also some blood tests. The MRI showed that although there was some shrinkage in my ruptured disc it was still pressing on my nerves which is continuing to cause sciatica. This should have no effect on my ability to walk. The blood test showed that I had a huge vitamin D deficiency. The optimal amount of vitamin D A person supposed to have is 70–80nmol/L . My test return of vitamin D level of 23nmol/L. I had a Vitamin D deficiency some years ago and thought that it was all sorted, seems I was wrong. Continue reading Diary of a sick black woman: 6 of 6 – Escape is imminent

Diary of a sick black woman 5 of 6

Funny, you never really realise you have a favourite until someone else steps in. Or in my case you don’t realise you have a favourite healthcare assistant and till the one you’ve always had switches shift. I’m going to call my favourite HCA Marie. Obviously her name isn’t Marie but when I asked her what she wanted her blog alias to be that was what she chose. Now I couldn’t really tell you if she goes the extra mile or whether she’s the only one that does the job properly but she sure makes it harder for anyone else to measure up. Continue reading Diary of a sick black woman 5 of 6

Diary of a sick black woman: 4 of 6

I am really losing track of days now; my memory is becoming a blur in the monotony of hospital life. So yesterday was interesting, I had a surgeon come and see me in the morning and tell me that I would be discharged. I found that astounding. Here am I not able to walk more than 4 steps with no one at home to care for me no wheelchair to take home and in a flat which is not wheelchair compatible and I was being discharged. This made me absolutely terrified. I decided that I would not leave this ward until I had an acceptable care plan in place. I gritted my teeth and I bore down ready to fight this thing out. Continue reading Diary of a sick black woman: 4 of 6

Diary of a sick black woman: part 3

Another day another diagnosis. I’m feeling pretty stressed out today. I’m having conflicting messages from different surgeons. The first surgeon that came to see me said that this pain that I was feeling, the pain that is worse than my original pain, is expected as a possible side effect of the procedure. I was told there was nothing to worry about and it would wear off. My concern is that I had a new pain. I have pain in the front of my legs where I didn’t have pain before. Continue reading Diary of a sick black woman: part 3