Unplanned Trip..

While I adore Hawaii it might be that Hawaii is not good for me. Turns out that – as suspected – I have a large pulmonary embolism caused by the flight and some medication I was taking which can cause these embolisms in some circumstances. They call it a saddle embolism and from my googling this is not awesome.

When they see what you have on the scans like that, they do not make you wait a couple of days for the results. They saw it right away and so once the scan was done they asked me to wait in the waiting room.

Within 20 minutes of the scan being complete the doctor who read the results had been on the phone to my local doctor, and then was on the phone to me, telling me that I needed to head straight for an unplanned trip to the local hospital, do not fly via Hawaii, no shopping, no bargains on the way. 😦

Symptoms I had experienced were tightness and burning in the chest, shortness of breath, and feeling like my heart was racing or trying to escape my chest. It felt a bit like little asthma attacks 15-20 times a day. I was pretty certain before the scan that this would be the result, nothing else made much sense.

I was taking Aspirin while we were away – I got a huge bottle from Costco cos the tablets were pink and the price was great. I don’t usually take it regularly so lucky I was taking it – this could have been much worse. I will now have to take blood thinners for 6 months.

They kept me in overnight which I hated, and they wanted to keep me longer but I said no thanks, I have a partner at home who is much more obsessive about my health than anyone here will ever be, plus he has all the gadgets you have here at the hospital, and you have ZERO cats here, which means nothing is sleeping on me and purring which means my recovery will be much delayed.

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The blood oxygen & portable EKG machine my nutty other half bought.

So, they sent me home with some charts that the other half can keep all his observations on, and I spent a good hour cleaning all the glue from those sticky things they stick on you with eucalyptus and orange oil, and then the longest shower ever. Ick. I am a germophobe, so not a big fan of hospitals at all.

In speaking with the doctors I know now exactly when it happened – probably 3-4 hours into the flight, one of my legs went to sleep and when I got up to try and wake it up, there was this pain in the back of my thigh. I asked the other half to punch and massage that spot a little – and he did. This may have been an excellent thing breaking up the clot into smaller pieces.

After that I found it hard to get comfortable and I ended up sitting on my travel pillow. I did get up a few times and go into the galley area and do some leg exercises and stretches however that spot was still sore and I kept sitting on my travel pillow thinking it was a muscle cramp and trying to stretch it out but not being very successful. Now I understand why!

I knew something was not right as early as Friday last week but just thought I might be getting a flu and ignored it, I pushed through, kept going to work and struggling against it. Stupid, yes. I will admit that.

If you know something is wrong, you know and I did know something wasn’t right. It was weird even the smallest exertion and I couldn’t get my breath.

So my new advice for anyone travelling

When you visit to get your scripts before you leave, speak with your doctor about –

– whether you are at risk of forming these clots before you travel

– whether any of your medications could increase your risk factors

– whether you should be taking aspirin before flying

– whether you should wear compression socks

Whether or not you are at risk, you should keep hydrated while in flight – a lot of us ladies flying think it is a big hassle to go to the airplane bathroom so we cut back on the fluids. This is not a good idea.

Usually in flight I have a water bottle which I brought on the plane – this time I did not thanks to the TSA not allowing them through the checkpoints and I did not pick one up before getting on the plane – my bad – so I had to rely on getting water from the flight attendants which is a bit more difficult than it sounds. I probably drank half the amount of water I normally would over the space of 10 hours.

You can take an empty bottle through the security checkpoints so I highly recommend you do that, and then take it into the galley while in flight and they will fill it up for you – they did this for me on the way over.

Also you might want to google leg exercises while in flight – here is a decent one I found.

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Well, this could be fun..

I hadn’t been feeling the best since we got home. I thought maybe I might have picked up a chest infection of some kind, or maybe I was experiencing some asthma and allergies. It feels a bit like pneumonia which I had 10 years ago this December.

I knew something was not right, and after a not good night last night, I went to see my doctor today. He is concerned about possible Pulmonary Embolism – e.g. blood clots in the lungs.

Sadly that fits in with the symptoms I am experiencing – mostly shortness of breath, chest pain and feeling like my heart is racing. So tomorrow I go for a scan thingy, and probably won’t know for sure if that is what it is until early next week.

We’re scheduled ahead a few days here on the blog – and thanks to the concept that I should not be doing anything too exuberant, I will likely get on with writing my trip report over the next few days.

I’m posting this not for your sympathy or comments – comments have been turned off on this post.

I’m posting this because because I think there is a lesson to be learned from my experience.

The lesson is – don’t just ignore symptoms, push through the symptoms or just keep going and think things will get better on their own. I’ve been doing that for a week now, and it has been an epic fail.

When you know something is wrong, you know. So do something about it. 😉

In the meantime, my trip report continues shortly. 🙂 stay tuned!

Hot Hula

If you are looking for a different kind of workout while on Oahu, you might want to check out the awesome Hot Hula.

Does this not look like incredible fun?

I first heard about it thanks to this thread on Tripadvisor about Zumba – I was googling.. and I found the Honolulu Club, which sounds absolutely incredible. The club has been recently renovated. Guest fees are pretty pricey for us tourists at $25 per visit (you might want to double check that with the club, I could only find it on one spot on the website) but the range of group classes available are just mind boggling. Everything from Ballet to Aqua Zumba.. Tai Chi, Pilates, Yoga.. and on the schedule I spotted Hot Hula.. so I googled some more and found out all about Hot Hula.

You can see the schedule for Honolulu Club here.

If you like the look of Hot Hula and want to do it as your regular workout at home there are dvds available.. and for those who like to go to a class.. it is starting to be found in Australia

You can of course find regular hula classes about the place, including free Hula classes at the Royal Hawaiian Center where they also have Lei Making and other excellent free classes.

This begins the next step of my journey

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When I walked the Magic Island path on November 14th, 2011, I have to confess something:

I didn’t know how much I weighed.

Now, a statement like that wouldn’t seem to be a huge thing, as if you asked 100 people their weight, most wouldn’t be able to give you an exact figure. Now, consider this:

I had no idea what my actual weight was.

If you go back to those 100 people and asked them what they thought their weight was, 95-99 of them would be able to tell you within, I would say, 10lb or 5kg depending on what part of the world you’re in. I, on the other hand, would have been way off, and not by a small amount.

Now, as I depart this morning for Hawaii, I can say this:

I’ve lost (at least) 180 pounds in 2 years

At that time, the best guess that we have as far as a weight at that time is something well above 500 pounds. Which really makes what I did in 2011 that much more amazing. I flew myself all the way over to the other side of the world, using a single seat (though it was a very difficult fit into the single seat), travelling around a new country to see tons of sights, and then flying back home

Looking back, that trip was just beginning a journey that is being capped off (for the moment) with a return trip to a place where I missed out on so much last time.

My original plan (which I hadn’t really planned out too well, as I well hadn’t planned it) was to travel by bus to Pearl Harbor, and visit there. After that, I was then going to head to Ala Moana mall and meet up with beedoo and her travelling party, where we would enjoy a going away dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp.

Due to my poor planning of the day in Hawaii, when I arrived, I was frantically trying to figure out how to store my bags; if I’m remembering correctly, beedoo may have mentioned to me the Aloha Airport Delivery and Storage people, but I didn’t store any of their contact information. Not only that, I was worried about having to pay overage fees for the baggage while I travelling back to the mainland.

Among that was spending time in a restroom where, while changing clothes for the day, I worked out what the baggage fees were and also reorganized the bags to ensure that I was closer to the weight limit. When I went to contact the people from the baggage place, I didn’t get through right away, which put me in a bit of a fit, and made me worried that they didn’t exist.

Ultimately, however, they did answer and picked up my bags, even allowing me to pay for the storage when I picked it up since there were no ATMs at the airport, and the only US currency I had on me were a few $1 notes I hadn’t changed plus some assorted coins. They provide a great service and it is something that is indispensable since the Honolulu Airport doesn’t have any on-site storage facilities.

Unfortunately, this had frustrated me already, but my next course of action was to go to the post office and ship out the box of stuff that I was bringing home. Unlike many other airports, Honolulu does not have a post office inside the airport. However, I found out that the post office was not that far away:

airport to po

Instead of retelling the story, I will insert a portion of an email I sent to beedoo while sitting at the interisland terminal while walking to theBus to go to Ala Moana. The spelling is as it was on the email:

…I was off to the post office. Or so I thought. I get I where I can finally see the post office and realize that I have to go across a busy street mud block and there is a fence. So I start walking towards what look like police officers on bikes, which is what they were.

However as I get to the curb, it’s not a straight up and down curb, it’s angled, so then I wind up losing my balance and falling. Not into grass or anything but a rock garden and thankfully I don’t thinking anything was hirt myself especially. The cops saw this and asked if I was ok and u am, maybe done scratches cut nothing major

So, after that, it was off to Ala Moana shopping center and then to home.

Before I went to Australia, I started to do something that was, initially, to allow me to get used to the concept of being more active – for bushwalking (which sadly we did not do very much of), doing different tours, and just general moving around. That was to go to the gym.

I started out with a guest pass at a gym in the town I work in (which, incidentally, has a location in a town close to beedoo, which helped in choosing the gym, as we were thinking that we’d possibly go to the gym while I was there), and that guest pass, based on my work timeline, allowed me to go to the gym after work.

In the two years and 4 months since, I’ve been to the gym well, nearly every night after work. In fact, the times that I have not gone to the gym after work are very few – maybe under 50 or so, and most of them actually coming this last summer due to a new post work activity that I have discovered – swimming, which I finally learnt to do this summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work for 6 weeks.

Anyway, I started off doing just some light work (i.e. treadmill for around 30 minutes at a very low speed, like 2 mph/3km/h), then moving along to more heavy duty stuff like the elliptical; at first about 5 minutes, but then going up to 15, then 20, then 25 minutes. Incidentally, I’m now up to a full hour nightly on the elliptical.

As a matter of fact, I had already started to lose quite a bit of weight before going to Australia; if you look at the difference in my passport picture (taken in July) and pictures taken while in Australia, there was already a difference in my face. Again, not having any earthly idea of what my actual weight was, I have no way of quantifying how much I had lost up until that time.

The reality is that I weighed, even after losing some weight, probably over 500 pounds

However, the weight really did not start to come off until March of 2012 when, realizing that it was time to finally make a change, I bought a gift card from Costco for the “weekends off” Nutrisystem plan to give that plan a go. Ever since then, I have kept up the Nutrisystem plan, but going with the full orders, as that is really a much better value for your money than the weekends off plan, especially when I am able to get the plan for quite literally half off (thanks to the awesomeness of Costco, where not only do I save, I manage to get 3% cash back through my membership)

It was shortly after that when I was, only about 4 years after buying a high-capacity scale, able to finally get a measurement of my weight. At that time, I weighed 203kg, or 446lb. I kept going with the plan, and the pounds kept coming off. Throughout 2012, I would check my weight, and it would go down little by little, progressing through the (in kgs) 180s, 170s and 160s, and then into the 150s, which is what I wound up the year in, with a weight in February of 2013 of 154.3kg, or about 340lb.

Among the things that I was able to do during this time was to basically buy some new clothes, but not only that, I was able to fit into clothes that I fit in while I was in school, or more than 10 years ago while I was on my way up. One of my proudest moments was when I was able to fit into my suit jacket. This is a piece of clothing that, the last time I had worn it, I was a senior in high school. Because of my weight, I was unable to wear my suit to my brother’s wedding and it really depressed me because it made me feel like an outcast since I was the only one who wasn’t wearing a suit, rather I was forced to wear a sweater.

For a while, my weight had levelled off at around 320 lb (145kg) for some time, but a few weeks ago, while I was still doing my meal plan, I started to increase the amount of exercise that I would do, ramping up to the full hour on the elliptical that I described above, and in doing so, burning right around 1,000 calories every night. In that time, I have been able to take off some more weight, bringing my most recent weigh in at the scale in the gym on 312 lb (141kg).

One last thing re the clothes: last Saturday night I drove from work to the destination XL store nearest to me (then I went to the gym afterward). The last time that I bought pants, I bought pants at a waist size of 56 and 58 from a general goods store (Blain’s Farm & Fleet, which is not to be confused with Mills Fleet Farm). The waist size that I bought on Saturday? 52. I almost bought the 50s but I did want to have something slightly more comfortable. As it is, on my previous clothes buying, I bought a 54/56 inch belt. After a few months I had to make a new hole on it because it was too loose. Sadly, those belts broke down due to the extra hole. So, I had to buy new ones and I got 50/52s 🙂

Overall, this had been a long journey and one that will never end as I have to keep exercising and watching my diet (though I have learnt that you can splurge occasionally as long as you watch what you have the rest of the day. That and that hummus is awesome), because I never want to be back where I was just over two years ago, when the only clothes I could buy was from the specialty section of the specialty big and tall store (think a waist size of nearly 70 inches; 66 or 68 was a tough time for me to get into back then).

I hope that my story inspires others to take it upon themselves and work to a better future for themselves. I have been able to do it without surgical intervention, which I have seen so many people turn to as a “quick fix” only to see it fail and they go back to the size they were previously.

Rash Vests & Sunscreen

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I see that some people find the blog by searching for “do you need to put suncream under a rash vest” – “do you not need sunscreen if you wear a rash vest” etc.

The answer is – you do not need to put sunscreen on under a rash vest as these contain their own sun protection – either 30+ or 50+ are the most common I see.

You WILL need to put sunscreen on any area not covered by your rash vest. This includes your hands, neck, ears, face, etc. And you WILL also need to make sure you protect your scalp from the sun with a hat, and protect your eyes with a pair of sunglasses with UV protection.

Where can I buy a rash vest?

You can buy rash vests and full body suits in many places – they are fairly common these days – if you want to shop online in Australia you might like to take a look at the range of sun protection offered by the Cancer Council. Some of the items there are made by Stingray and you can look at their range online too. They also have a decent range of plus sizes which can be difficult to find.

If you want sun protection as well as wind protection and keeping warm in the water for extended lengths of time, you might want to check out Sharkskin. These are technically awesome garments with a micro fleece lining – great for snorkelling, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, kite surfing, etc. I have a set of these for kayaking and I love them.

A little secret

For those of us not entirely bikini ready (and for those of us who do not want and never intend to be bikini ready!) rash vests or body suits can also be shapewear – they hold all your jiggly bits in just that bit firmer. For this reason combined with the sun protection factor I highly recommend these for your next beach trip.

Island Soap & Candle Works

These are some of my favourite products from Island Soap & Candle Works.

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There is Creamy Coconut Botanical Lotion, which contains – Aloe Vera, Sea Kelp, Elder Flower, Yarrow, Comfrey Leaf, Chamomile Flower, Bitter Orange Flower, Burdock Root, and Calendula Flower as well as other ingredients. This lotion is decadent, absorbs very easily, leaves your skin silky smooth and smells incredible. You only need a tiny amount to cover a large area.

There is Island Passion Shea Butter Body Cream, which contains Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Mango Seed Butter, Yarrow extract, Burdock extract, Calendula officinalis extract, chamomile extract, Bitter orange flower extract, sea kelp extract, elder flower extract, comfrey extract and other ingredients. It is Lilikoi – Passion Fruit flavour

The body cream is available in several flavors and you can see another of the flavors right next door – Pineapple Paradise which is pineapple flavoured. This is a slightly heavier cream than the Botanical lotions.

You will not believe the gorgeousness of the smell of these creams. The products are all made in Hawaii.

Next to that you can see three of the lip balm flavors – there are actually four and they are the same flavors as the body creams. Kauai Kiss and Hawaiian Sunrise are the two remaining flavors not already mentioned. Again, all of these smell amazing.

But do not just take my word for it, on your next trip to Hawaii pop into an ABC store where they have testers of all of these products – and more! – available for you to try. If you really like what you see, it might be worth making the trip to one of their stores – there is one at Ward Warehouse, and one in the Royal Hawaiian Centre.

You can also order these online at the Island Soap & Candle Works website.

Doctors & Chemists

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Due to a medical emergency on our last trip, we spent a considerable amount of time at the Straub Hospital. You can read all about that in my 2011 trip report – and important note, do not travel to the USA without excellent travel insurance! QBE is who looked after us, including sending a paramedic escort for the trip home.

What I wanted to mention today was – where do you go if you need to see a doctor while on holiday @ Waikiki? These are the options I am familiar with from personal experience.

Straub provide two Doctors On Call clinics – one at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, one at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. Click on the link above for opening times, locations and contact details. There are fees involved – these should be covered by your travel insurance, though if you have a excess you may find it is cheaper to pay the fee.

One of the doctors at the HHV on call clinic saved my Dad’s life. If she had not sent him for a catscan which was followed by emergency surgery, within hours he would have been returning home in the cargo hold instead of in the cabin with us. One of the surgeons at Straub went on to perform life saving surgery. The staff at both the clinic and the hospital were absolutely amazing to us.

What if you need medication? There are plenty of chemists throughout Waikiki but I have to send two special shout outs –

Longs Drugs at Ala Moana – we were at this place so often buying supplies on our last trip it began to feel like a second home. Incredibly handy if you are already at Ala Moana buying other things – as we Aussies so often are. 🙂 They have an excellent range to browse.

Walgreens behind Ala Moana opposite Walmart – open 24/7 for everything you could possibly need from bandages to cold and flu drugs with pseudoephedrine (read my post about the difficulties I had finding that here) to snacks and prescriptions.

When you pack – make sure to include plenty of your own medication. Do not just take enough for the length of time you will be there. I did that last time for our 10 day trip where we ended up staying 21 days and had to organise extra medication which cost a bundle – this was also covered with our travel insurance thankfully, and they even contacted my doctor at home and organised the scripts to be sent to the pharmacy, but it was a hassle I could have avoided entirely by bringing more medication with me.