As I wrap-up my final article for Wellesse in 2015, I thought it apt to do a health round-up for the year. It’s been an interesting and challenging on, proving to me that I can handle a lot more than I think I can and I’m a pretty tough cookie. Getting older is something you always joke about, but man, it can be a real pain in the keester!
Let’s first talk weight. I’ve talked pretty openly about my struggles with perimenopause and the weight gain that came with that and the hormonal changes. That, coupled with my lack of resolve to pay attention to my health for a bit, I had watched my weight climb and stepped on my doctor’s scale to the tune of 196 lbs this past June.
I was NOT having that after eight years of a pretty successful run after weight loss surgery, so I immediately got back on track and lost thirty pounds over the summer. As of now on December 1st, I’ve been pretty successfully maintaining that loss and holding steady at 166. My clothes fit better, but most importantly, I feel a lot better. Which is good, because I have some challenges ahead of me.
I often think about where I would be if I hadn’t had weight loss surgery. I had some pre-existing conditions at a young age that would have posed some very serious problems for me: pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and the most frightening of all of them was a pre-existing condition with my left kidney that required several surgeries and hospital stays about two years after my weight loss surgery.
If I hadn’t lost the weight, I have no idea if I would have even been able to have the surgeries I needed, and if I would have survived them. I went through a lot with that, and when I think about having another 160 lbs on my body and how difficult it would have been for the surgeons, it really scares me. I’m thankful that I’m better now, very thankful.
But I have new challenges. This past year I began facing migraine headaches and seizures. Thankfully, both were managed through medication pretty successfully. We were never really able to pinpoint why the occurred, but I’m at least happy they are controlled now. I’ve also found that changing my diet and my supplements has helped quite a bit.
I’ve added more B2, Iron, and Magnesium to my regular routine and I’ve been eating foods rich in those nutrients like red meat, dark leafy greens, avocados, etc. While I do believe the medications have helped, I also strongly believe the supplements and my eating well and cooking and diet have a LOT to do with me feeling better. I just eat cleaner and better in general, and it can’t be a coincidence that things have gotten better since doing that.
So all of those things have really turned around for me, but as I finish out the year, I was given some not great news that is a little mind-boggling. As most of you know, I am a vocalist by profession, and I had recently been having some trouble swallowing and breathing. My neurologist referred me to the head and neck surgery department and I was run through a few different tests in the radiology department. They found something and called me into their office to discuss it. Turns out that “my spine is growing into my esophagus.” My immediate reaction when he told me this was, “I’m sorry, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”
Apparently, what I have is a large cervical osteophyte, which is essentially a bone spur that has grown into my esophagus and causes difficulty in breathing and swallowing. There is also a growth that they need to do a CT scan on to determine if it is anything of concern (that takes place on 12/8/15 – fingers crossed!). If the growth is non-invasive, they do not recommend surgery as it is very invasive and difficult, however, that is left up to me and it depends on how much it is interrupting my life, particularly as a vocalist.
It’s something I need to determine is worth the risk of surgery, or if I can deal with as-is and work around. It’s been enough of a problem in my life that I went to see a specialist. However big, scary, risky throat surgery? Not exactly ready to jump on board that train.
It’s always something, isn’t it? There are people that have health issues far greater than mine and they get up and get through each and every day with a smile on their face. My issues? They’re a challenge, but they’re workable. I’m getting older. Things are going to happen, that’s just the way it is.
What I’m thankful for is the fact that my body is easier to manage. I am in tune with it in a way that I never could have been before. I know how to nurture it to help it get better, I know what it needs to get healthier. I am extremely pro-active about my health and my health-case appointments. I’ve learned that I have to be. I stay on top of my appointments, scheduling, testing, etc. I don’t leave anything up to chance, and I don’t wait for them to come to me. The one thing I do know is that I need to be in control of what happens to me, even when things like this are out of my control. I can at least be on top of the things that I *can* manage.
So overall, I leave 2015 in decent shape: down 30 lbs, eating well, on top of my appointments, and knowing that this new blip in my health radar is a little scary, but I have scary things before. I can manage this. I can handle it. I can stay on top of it, and I can take care of it. Look how far I’ve come and what I’ve beaten so far!
I hope that you all stay on top of your health as well and that 2016 brings you health and happiness!
Taunia Soderquist is a professional musician, music educator, and radio host located in the Greater Los Angeles area. She’s also a seven and a half year gastric bypass post-op living a healthy lifestyle after losing and maintaining 150 lbs. Now a passionate cook, but not-so-passionate about exercise (eh, she’s trying). Check her website for live shows and more info: www.divataunia.com.