Mari Winsor Kicked My Ass!

I realize it has been almost a week since I last posted here, but it has been kind of crazy these last several days. And, to be honest, I’ve been a little lax and unfocused in all of the running around. I’ve made some good choices, and some not so great ones, but I’m back on track today.

My aunt was in town visiting over the weekend, which meant dinner out on Friday and a home-cooked meal (prepared by my mom) on Saturday.  I feel like I made really good choices at both dinners, but the sitting around chatting on Saturday night was a study in mindless munching. The Chex Mix wasn’t even all that tasty, and it really didn’t go well with the glass of Riesling I sipped on, and still I sat there munching and chatting and chatting and munching. Did it ever occur to me to just move the damn bowl? Nope. Not even for a second. Le sigh.

I did, however, manage to pass up the cake at Doc’s birthday lunch. I took one small bite and that bite let me know that I needed to stay far away from it or I would inhale the entire thing. I managed to avoid it the rest of the day. *whew*

Lets talk about today, shall we?  I had my six-month check-up with my neuro-opthalmologist.  In 2007, I was diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri. Basically, a build up of spinal fluid collects in the brain and acts like a tumor, putting pressure on the optic nerve.  I had been experiencing severe headaches for a few years – I remember having a Cat Scan when I was in college because I’d have blinding, “white light” headaches that would make me nauseated. The scan was normal. In 2002, I stopped in for a routine eye exam, thinking that I just needed my prescription updated as I was starting to have headaches again. The optometrist said my optic nerve looked “fuzzy” and could indicate that something, like a TUMOR, was causing pressure. I freaked out! My family doctor ordered a stat MRI for 10:oo am on a Friday and by noon I was driving with my family to New Orleans for my sister’s wedding. And while it was a fantastic weekend, I was convinced I was going to come home to horrible news.

The MRI showed no abnormalities. The headaches stopped. (Isn’t that always the case, symptoms disappear only after you’ve spent a fortune on tests?)

Fast forward a few years. In 2007, I was sitting in the hospital room reading while my mom recovered from her hysterectomy. Each time she would make a sound, I would look up from my book. I noticed that when I looked back down, it would take thirty seconds or more for my vision to un-blur. Sometimes, I would notice “floaters” as though a flashbulb had gone off.  I went to my family doctor again, and he thought he noticed micro-aneurysms in my eyes. This is fairly common in people who have diabetes, which I did not have, so we did some blood work to check and that came back essentially normal. I was referred to an opthalmologist.  He was absolutely no help and his report back to my doctor basically said, “this is out of my depth, perhaps order a neuro consult.”

My family doctor, who doesn’t mess around, decided “screw it” and made me an appointment for the next week at Washington University Eye Center to see one of the best neuro-opthalmologists available.  Dr. Hart was an older gentleman who wore three-piece suits every day and wrote with a fountain pen. He ordered a few tests and before the day was done, he was fairly certain of the diagnosis. I went back the next week for an MRI, to once again rule out a brain tumor, and then had a spinal tap to measure, then remove, the excess fluid from inside my skull. (Note: If you ever have to have a spinal tap, I highly recommend Barnes Hospital in St. Louis…my procedure was as painless as having a huge needle jammed in your spine can be!)

Just as he suspected, my intracranial pressure was 32. They were able to lower it to a much more normal 14. I think. I’m a little fuzzy on those numbers. I was officially diagnosed with Pseudotumor Cerebri. From that point, I had two options. I could have a shunt placed that would re-route excess fluid into my abdomen where it would be absorbed or I could go on high-dose glaucoma medication. Dr. Hart told me that PtC is sometimes referred to as glaucoma of the brain (that’s a little opthalmology humor, I suppose). I chose medication and we have been monitoring my progress since.

Over the last four years, I’ve lost a little bit of peripheral vision, a small bit from the inside, lower quandrant of my left eye, and an even smaller place in the same location in my right eye. But my overall vision has not deteriorated.

Fast forward to today’s visit. My visual field test showed no change. No change is good. This means that my peripheral vision loss has not worsened.  I may never get back what I’ve lost, so the goal now is to remain stable. My overall vision has actually improved.  I’ll see my optometrist for a new reading prescription soon, but that should be all that I need. I’m also off the glaucoma medication entirely. THIS is a huge deal. I started out at 1000mg per day, then we doubled that dosage when my visual field tests worsened. In October, because my VF had remained stable and I was losing weight, we dropped my dosage to 500mg per day. Today, Dr. Van Stavern (he took over my care when Dr. Hart retired in May 2009) took that huge orange pill out of my life for good. I’m so thankful!

I also got to spend the whole day with my sister who volunteered to come to my appointment with me and then out for shopping and a little lunch. I’m pretty proud of myself. We went to one of my favorite restaurants and I chose their signature Mandarin Orange Souffle which is served with this gorgeous, fresh chicken salad. Lots of protein and good carbs. Okay, so the souffle is dense with cream, but I only had two bites.  We did pick up a small piece of Godiva chocolate for the drive home and I swear to you, it was the best tiny little bite of chocolate I’ve ever had in my mouth.

I had the one on the left. The Chocolate Mendiant -Dark chocolate ganache between two dark chocolate disks, topped with bits of organic dried apricot, tart cherry, and sea salt.  I’m so glad we only bought a single piece for each of us! (photo from Godiva)

During our drive, we made the decision to join a local gym. We scheduled a time that works for both of us and we’ll begin next week. The good thing about working out with my sister is that we are pretty competitive  and we can see right through each others excuses. There will be no “I’m too tired” or “I need to wash my hair” attempts at getting out of it. We’re planning to go each evening after her kiddos are safely tucked in bed. I’m excited!

I started this post thinking about Mari Winsor. Months ago I purchased the WinsorSlim Pilates DVDs. I’ve tried them a couple times in the past, but they were hard to get through because my fat thighs made it difficult to do the transitions with the Accelerator bar. Not any more!  My fat thighs have been banished forever! I did the Cardio Sculpt workout tonight…TWICE! I felt really good after the first one, so I decided to keep going. My thighs feel a bit like jello at the moment, so I might regret that decision. I skipped the elliptical tonight, but I’m setting my alarm to get up a half-hour early to get in at least 20 minutes in the morning. I think I said before that was my plan, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way. I really like my bed. Too much. I need someone to pull me out of it at 6:00 am every day. Volunteers?

I found this interesting graphic a while back, and it really helped me to make the decision to go forward with bariatric surgery:

I think I might be on the winning side of that percentage! Love it!


  1. Well done on getting through all that. Loaf and I (and the bunny slippers) wish you a very speedy recovery.

    Big hugs

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