Friday, 27 February 2009

All Clear

Thanks so much for the kind words -- I'm fine.

PS Apparently fatty deposits -- common in women who have lost a lot of weight -- present as lumps. Now they tell me. I'm not going to suggest you ignore it if you find something when you self-check (and you all self-check, right? That would be me looking away sheepishly, because I never used to. ), but consider this one more reason not to descend into hysteria. Speaking of which, I found it tremendously helpful to ban myself from the Internet during the waiting period -- otherwise I think I might have self-diagnosed into a frenzy.

I've got a zillion things to do, including recovering from the first proper binge I've had in ages (four muffins, 1 Cadbury caramel egg, 2 Cornish pasties, the head of the poor guy who refused to sell me a jam-and-cream finger because it "wasn't fresh," as if I cared at that point), not to mention figuring out exactly why I did it. (Honestly, I'm not sure.) So more later...

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Like It or Lump It

About 9 weeks ago I found – or to be more accurate, BN2 found – a lump on the side of my right breast. That first time, I didn’t want to feel it.

Then he found it again, and he made me touch it. It was hard, but with a bit of give. It felt exactly the way my face does when something huge and nasty is about to appear – like if I only squeeze it hard enough that will be the end of it.

It never works on my face, and I didn’t try it on the breast. It took me a couple of weeks, but I booked a GP appointment, and was unlucky enough to get the most unsympathetic (male) doctor I’ve ever seen. He told me he only had 10 minutes for me so I’d better get on with telling him what the problem was, and then he told me women in their 30s have lumpy breasts. My grandmother – my father’s mother – died of breast cancer in her 40s. I insisted on a scan.

A few weeks went by, and no referral letter. I called the doctor’s surgery several times – notable only because all I wanted to do was to sweep this whole thing under the carpet and pretend it didn’t exist. If I didn’t get a referral letter, then I wouldn’t have to find out.

I had my appointment this morning. There is indeed a lump. It is tender to the touch. And there is not a corresponding lump (or lumpiness) in the other breast – apparently it would be less of a cause for concern if both breasts were lumpy.

I had tears running down my face, and I can’t help worrying about the fact that the doctor saw that and didn’t tell me all the other things it could be besides cancer. She said usually they’d be able to do ultrasound on the same day, but that the radiologist wasn’t in today. She sent me back to the waiting room.

A nurse appeared a few minutes later and said a sentence that began “because you’re so young” and ended with “Thursday at 3 o’clock.” There was something about a mammogram and a biopsy in there. I stopped processing at that point. I didn’t even think to ask what I’ll know and when I’ll know it (in other words, do they put me out of my misery on Thursday or is there more waiting?).

It’s easy to become melodramatic in this situation, and I’m fighting it, though not very successfully. I went to the gym afterwards, wondering what the point was of all this effort to be slim if I’m going to lie around being sick and then dying. (Hello, melodrama.) I passed a Monsoon with cute spring-y dresses and wondered where I’d be and in what state of health when spring comes. I thought about how lucky I’d been with my left knee recently (several doctors had thought it would require surgery, but an MRI showed it wasn’t what anyone expected – and could probably be fixed with an injection of cortisone. Jury still out on that one) and wondered if my luck has run out.

I hope not.

Monday, 23 February 2009


(with apologies to Alanis Morrisette*)

Thanks to the strain – heartbreak? – of the past few days, the waist size 28 jeans BN2 bought me for Christmas fit perfectly. Isn’t it ironic?

After years of struggling against binge eating and wishing (almost) I had the ability to starve myself the way I did during the Summer of a Thousand Peaches, I actually have to guard against cutting back. It’s insidious, this way of thinking: I can do without this snack. Maybe I can leave this bit over. Maybe I can do without rice with my stew. It seems harmless enough right now, but I can feel myself deriving way too much pleasure from the numbers on the scale at the moment. In time of chaos and upheaval, I look to these (artificially) low numbers (I saw 10 stone 6 – aka 146 – the other day) as proof that I am doing something right. Not good.

I did precious little work last week thanks to all of this, so this is just a quick update, and a thank you -- your messages last week meant more than I can say.

*except unlike most of her examples, mine actually is ironic...

Sunday, 15 February 2009


BN2 and I broke up yesterday. Yes, on Valentines’ Day. Well, it was at 1 am on Sunday, but…

I don’t really want to write about it because I don’t want to think about it, but all I’m doing is thinking about it. Nor do I want to write about it because I don’t want the sight of this entry to pain me every time I see it.

I know the mention of him will probably surprise you. I haven’t written about him at all in months – mostly out of shame. I know what I’ve settled for is not normal or right or even good for me, yet to date I haven’t been able to extricate myself from it. Partly it’s because I think I believe some of the horrible things he has said about me, and I fear he will be the only one willing to put up with me, and so I need to accept things on his terms.

How’s that for honesty after months of if not lying, at least committing some sin of omission (or feeling like I am)?

I can’t believe some of the things I have allowed to happen, I still can’t imagine life without him. I’ve seen or spoken to him every day since October, when we went exclusive. Before that he was a very constant presence in my life since December 2007, when we met at a Christmas party.

I’m terrified of life without him. And yet I’m terrified of life with him – of never even having the chance of having what I desperately want, which is someone who loves me.

I’ve been thinking for months about how to end things, but this wasn’t the ending I imagined. I’m not proud of how I behaved last night, and I must admit that alcohol was involved. (As was a mini-binge – 3 chocolate bars, which wouldn’t have been so terrible except that I lied to go off and buy them.) I feel terrible, especially after how sweet he was all day. We exchanged a handful of text messages today, and in one of them he told me how badly I’d hurt him.


We’re supposed to talk on Wednesday but I honestly don’t know if I can take hours of being berated, which is how he operates. In fact, the hours of recrimination were the catalyst for last night’s breakup. We were headed to the school disco with friends – me in the shortest miniskirt known to man – and I met a guy at the pub while I was getting drinks and BN2 was changing clothes. I introduced BN2 to him (yes, calling BN2 my boyfriend) – he was on his own waiting for friends going to the school disco – and his friends turned up and it was all fine and fun. Then at the disco itself at one point BN2 went to the bathroom and this guy – we’ll call him E. – offered to buy me a drink and asked me to help him carry his round. So far, so fine. Or so I thought. When BN2 came back he was furious with this. I apologized but told him he was overreacting (something I never do – I usually just apologize and the emotional beating still goes on for an age until he’s fully sure I “understand” him and have made appropriate amends and/or a plan so that it doesn’t happen in the future). I apologized several more times, but the thought of spending the whole night apologizing and having several pounds of flesh extracted made me want to lie down on the dance floor and die. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but the next thing I knew I was suggesting we get a taxi back to his so I could get my keys and phone (I hadn’t brought them out – miniskirts are not known for storage space and my handbag didn’t look school disco-ish). We barely spoke in the taxi, and I got all of my things from his place. (There wasn’t much left after the fights of late.)

Sixty pounds later (eek), I was at my front door, the taxi driver telling me to take care of myself.

I couldn’t sleep last night. Today I couldn’t decide who to call, since I’ve been less than honest with so many of my friends about what’s going on with BN2 (whether we’re still seeing each other, what he does, etc). I ended up out with a friend from college who was there last night and who lives in the neighborhood.

I was almost ok -- if you define 'almost ok' as nearly everything making me tell some BN2 story -- until we stopped at Waitrose to do some food shopping. Waitrose is where BN2 shops. Where he does nearly all of the grocery shopping – and usually without me – because I have a hard time with it, and because I’m particular about when and how I do it. I’m not sure he does it totally willingly, and we’ve had fights about it, but he does do it.

I have a feeling this will be my life for several weeks or months and I dread it: Crying in the Waitrose over the fish pie he buys me because he knows I like it.

I want to jump out of my skin. I want to cut my head off and throw it across the room.

I want time to pass. I want this to all be wrapped up neatly in a bow without me having to do anything painful, or endure any more pain.

I can’t have any of these things.

I am exhausted and yet can’t sleep. I dread the next days of not even having an office to go to or a project that consumes enough mental energy for me to stop thinking about all of this for two seconds. I fear that I will crumple Wednesday when I see him, that I’ll agree to a peace treaty with impossible terms (as I did a few weeks ago), we’ll get back together and I’ll have to go through all this pain again down the line. At the same time, I fear that I’ll never see him or speak to him again. I fear him hating me. I fear that I am the selfish cold fish he tells me I am. I fear that our problems are what he believes they are – only problems because I don’t try hard enough. Because I am not good enough.

I couldn’t finish my dinner tonight.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Smug Wanna-be Health Nut

Signs I am becoming slightly complacent about this whole weight maintenance thing: I hit the health food store.


This happens every few months. I feel like I’m doing fine – like, hey, I can live with the amount of food I’m eating, but wouldn’t it be better if it were a little healthier? (I definitely don’t eat enough vegetables, I haven’t met a carb I haven’t befriended, and I’ve been known to make both of my allotted snacks chocolate.) So I read food blogs, consider cooking, and then walk up and down the aisle of the health food store, contemplating things that might taste good and then – as always when I buy new things -- wanting to eat them all. One after another.

Why am I such a slow learner? I should have this down by now: Too much choice is bad for me. Studies show that when people are given more kinds of food they eat more. I had a nutritionist tell me that most people eat the same 12-14 foods. So does it really matter if I eat the same things day in and day out if I like them and they fill me up? Honestly, I think I just like the smug factor that comes with shopping in a health food store – and the feeling of shopping, period, since I don’t dare shop for anything but food (hello, can you say “made redundant”?) I can always manage to justify any non-binge food expense…

Today’s purchases: Organic porridge with seeds; milled flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (see me pretend I’m going to add this to my porridge – it is 163 calories for a 30g serving. That’s practically the calories of a 30g serving of Green & Blacks!); a cashew cookie Larabar (definitely will eat that), a 30g Montezuma’s milk chocolate (I tried to talk myself into dark but frankly, I don’t really like dark chocolate); a single serving of beetroot, parsnip and carrot crisps (just reread article about the 12 foods we’re not eating enough of, and one of them is beetroot); a coconut bar (for my porridge – keep reading and thinking about experimenting though I fear having to cut down on actual porridge quantities to make room for topping calories); and wholewheat ravioli in a pumpkin vegetable sauce (seriously delicious – just had for lunch). Total bill: £23.

I am pledging here not to binge on this stuff (I know, I know – but I could binge on anything.) And if thinking about it – or how to combine any of it – sends my head into too much of a tailspin I am binning it.

Friday, 6 February 2009

The Call of the Wild

I suppose it’s not news, but my attitude toward my diet/health/etc changes from hour to hour. I could start a relentlessly positive post one day and by the next I wonder what pipe I was smoking (insert Michael Phelps joke of your choice here) and can’t finish it. Then a couple of days later I find the post fragment and even if the mood has returned, the moment has passed.

Lesson 1: Finish posts when you start them.

Lesson 2: Keeping weight off is hard. (Also not news, but what can I say? I’m a slow learner – and usually, a late adopter. Do you know how long it took me to first get a cell phone?)

* * *

Things I had in my refrigerator Wednesday: one jam and cream finger (translation: doughnut) and three Kit Kats.

The KitKats don’t call to me – I have one almost every day for a snack, although this is the first time I’ve braved keeping them in my flat. (I usually just buy one at snack time, but hey, they were on sale, three for £1, so I decided no time like the present to see how I deal with having them around.) The jam and cream finger – that’s another story. I bought a box of two at Tesco (I’d have bought one but it wasn’t an option) and had one as part of my lunch. Not as filling as my usual lunch, but now hopefully I won’t make that mistake again. (It probably didn’t help that I downed it in about three bites.) I put the second one in my refrigerator, and debated having it as my snack that day. Pros: It’s yummy and I’d get it out of my refrigerator. Cons: I was going to be extra-hungry at snacktime thanks to having wasted calories on it at lunch, and I’d already discovered it wasn’t very filling.

So I had a plain chicken breast at snacktime (no kidding – nothing like a hit of protein to kill hunger) and left the doughnut in the refrigerator.

It called to me all day Wednesday – so much so that it was difficult to write. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to eat it at the very moment I was thinking about it – progress, I guess – but that I wanted time to pass so it would be Thursday and I could eat it.

Crazy, I know. Life must be pretty dull if I’m counting down to the next time I can eat a mass-produced jam and cream finger, hmmm?

* * *

It’s been a tough couple of weeks. I knew freelancing would be difficult, and I am less than delighted that I was right.

Nor am I delighted to confront the fact that essentially, I am the world’s laziest person. Sure, put me in a gym and I’ll sweat up a storm for 45 minutes, but sit me in front of a computer without a deadline and I will read blogs and surf the web and email all day.

In two weeks of freelancing, I’ve pulled in a third of what I estimate I need for the month. As new businesses go, I guess that’s not bad. But I constantly fear not having enough work, which – instead of making me efficient – makes me want to bury my head in the sand. Or maybe a box of jam and cream fingers.