Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Breaking down physiologically

I mentioned before I don't make New Year's resolutions. It is no point make promises you can't keep or can't even remember within one month, let alone by the end of the year. Yet I had tried to promise myself I wouldn't take so much sick leave as I did in 2014, when I think I took seven days off. That figure was not good considering my average for the previous four years was two to three days of sick leave per year (I'm excluding my period when I broke my finger for obvious reasons).

Unfortunately I didn't last very long, taking a sick day for my depression on Monday. It is not a good start to the year and I don't think the situation will get better. I've tried to analyse what is wrong with my life, through a doctor's perspective - physiologically, socially, psychologically.

I know I'm growing old and my body is deteriorating. I know my exercise tolerance is decreasing. I try to maintain my stamina by volunteering to walk rescue dogs every week for around three to four hours. At least this maintains my fitness at the current level.

Despite this, I get tired very easily. I take weekend afternoon naps on a regular basis and for too long. I don't mean twenty to thirty minutes naps - it is more like three to four hour naps, on both Saturday and Sunday. I don't know if it is due to tiredness, boredom or not wanting to face the problems, that I nap so long and so frequently. I know I'm fat and snore, so that may contribute to the problem. Yet I've been a person who can go to sleep very easily and I've been snoring for a long time, even before I gained weight.

Talking about weight, I know I'm obese by Asian standards. I'm currently at 73 kg and my ideal body weight should be 65 kg. In the past I have been 75 kg but I know I can get down to 68 kg. I really need to take up more exercise, to help reduce my weight and decrease my crankiness. At this moment, I will be happy just to maintain my weight at the current 73 kg. 

Food wise, I've been trying to cut down on my carbohydrates to prevent me from getting fat. Most of the carbohydrate cutdown is at dinner times, when I don't eat rice if it is a Chinese dinner. Yet it doesn't help I have a typically Chinese mother, who worries I don't eat enough and tries to stuff me full of food. It is not uncommon for our fridge to be filled with leftovers. Our household usually does overcook lots of stuff. Other ways I have been trying to cut down carbohydrates is by not eating too much dessert. However this has the undesirable effect of make my depression worse and making me cranky all the time. Lunch is difficulty to manage, since I'm out with my colleagues. If my colleagues and I are sharing food, it is usually up to me to eat the leftovers and get fat. In the morning, I've stopped stuffing myself with McDonald's breakfasts and just having my usual grande chai tea latte, skimmed milk, from Starbucks. I get this drink so often at the Sai Kung Starbucks' that a) I have a Starbucks Gold Membership and b) the baristas know what I want and usually don't have to ask me.

I use to order coffee but nowadays my bowels are not what they use to be. I've been suffering from irritable bowel syndrome for a long time. Yet recently it has crossed from being psychological to being more physiological. I have taken too much sick leave last year for abdominal pain and diarrhoea after eating very trivial food. I'm at the stage I have to keep medication in my office just in case something happens. I have to take an Imodium pill before eating any food which can irritate my bowels. I've tried to cut down any irritating food, such as milk and cold drinks. I haven't dared eat any sushi and sashimi, my favourite food, since my clinic's annual Christmas dinner - when I got ill and had to take a day off the next day.

Other parts of my body are starting to get on. My right shoulder has been killing me for the past year. Most of the pain is due to overuse - I'm constantly using my right arm for operating the computer mouse, typing on the keyboard and operating my iPhone plus iPad Air. A massage relieved it in September but it just recurs. What I need to do is rest the arm or try to use my left arm more, which is difficult.

Unlike my patients, I know and willing to accept my body is growing old and decrepit. It's just a matter of managing my physical breakdown without it affecting my life and especially my work.