Saturday, September 19, 2009

Grabbing my health by the horns

Last week's September 11 anniversary was bearable and for that I am thankful. I thought about it a lot in the morning, especially now that I live down in FiDi. The worst was hearing the parade of sirens go by -- that really got me. I stopped by the reflecting pool on the way to work to drop off a flower in D's honor. I still think of him every time I see a fire engine go by.

Otherwise the same three topics (music, money, health) are still swirling in my head. For this month health seems to have come to the forefront. Whatever this cough I have is I still have it and it sucks. It's now a dry, hacking loveliness that sometimes makes me gasp for air. It feels like I have something stuck in there. Back to the doc once blood tests come back, hopefully he can help me figure out what the hell this thing is.

In the meantime I started looking for a nutritionist. It's obvious I'm going to need some help getting myself in order so professional help can't hurt. Especially when covered by my work's actually kind of awesome health care. I found a recommended nutritionist right by my work. She even had after hours appointments which is a huge plus. Located in a fancy Soho dermatologist's office, the place was a bit intimidating but the doc herself was great.

I met with her for almost 2 hours. I was honest with her -- no sense in lying when my physical appearance belies -- about my diet and activity level. We went through my food and exercise routine. We talked about what kinds of foods I like and I don't like. We discussed attainable goals. She gave me some materials to read and helped me assemble about 20 different meals to try over the next 3 weeks. It actually got me kind of excited!

It's not like she didn't say things I already know. You have to burn more calories than you eat to lose weight. You have to exercise. Etc. Truth is I just need someone kicking my ass a little bit about it. I went to Whole Foods and bought $100 in groceries. I almost went into shock. I think I usually spend $25/week on groceries. Then I realized that all the crap I've been ordering in has been pushing me over $100 easily and then I didn't feel so bad. The hardest part is going to be giving up soda. I'm really not sure I can do it. But at least I've cut back to 1 can per day for now.

I already feel a bit better. I'm going back in 3 weeks for a follow-up visit. Hopefully there will be good news.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I have seen Fashion Week, and it is great

It's Fashion Week here in NYC and I must admit I'm really getting into it this year. In high school and college I was quite the junior fashionista. When I re-arrived in NYC I had the opportunity to walk in a plus-size show for a friend who styles (plus size! I'm an 8 for goodness sake!). In 2006 I attended three shows in the tents and in 2007 I was at one. But more recently my body and budget issues have put my fashionista aspirations on the back burner. Over the last couple of mmy freelance projects have revolved around fashion. Though the industry is kind of messed up in terms of ego savagery it's been fun to get back into the exciting whirlwind that is FASHION, all caps.

This year I was particularly interested in getting into Leifsdottir's Spring 2010 presentation. I realized it too late and didn't start making calls to the peeps I know until the beginning of September. I didn't have high hopes. Though I had no luck through my connections it was great to get in touch with friends, some of whom I hadn't spoken with in a couple of years.

Usually the response I got was, "Can't do Leifsdottir but I can get you into X." I was shocked! I got invites to some great shows. All I had to do was ask!

Friday was by far the craziest day. After failing to get an invite to Leifsdottir through friends by sheer luck Anthropologie's PR firm invited me directly. I could not have been more excited. I put in a 3/4 day at work and then went to the presentation. Unfortunately my partner in crime F had to bail so I went by myself. It was such a beautiful presentation and I loved just about every single piece. The presentation was my first time blogging about a show and I had trouble editing myself because I was so pleased with what I saw. Here's the post.

Friday was GROSS in NYC -- rainy and cold and more like October or April than September. Soaked to the bone, I ran from 38th St & 7th Ave to the tents to make Nicole Miller. Thank goodness these shows always start late. My friend J was understandably pissed that I was late but once the show started all was forgiven. I loved Ms. Miller's show. She had an intense peacock modern print in several pieces that I found intensely awesome, even from the second-to-last row.

I was a bit embarrassed by how underdressed I was. I usually break out the DVF for Fashion Week and had my Pilar dress set to go. The rain completely messed with my plans. I ended up in jeans, a white tank and a grandpa cardi. Not exactly front row material.

I did much better on Saturday. Rain again killed my Pilar plans but I did wear a fabulous pair of wide leg trousers, awesome 4" ruffle heels and a Theory blouse that was flatteringly...umm...flattering. I was lucky enough to see Christian Siriano's show on the promenade. Again I was in the second-to-last row but I heard that many people didn't even get in so I have zero complaints. His collection was stunning even from that far back. I saw later in the online pictures just how cool the prints he made were and there were several pieces I only wish I was famous enough to have an occasion to wear. My friend F tried to introduce me to Tim Gunn but the poor man, dapper as ever, was swarmed.

And yesterday it was a dream come true as I somehow got into Diane Von Furstenberg's show. I kept pinching myself...could not believe it was real. I broke out a Missoni dress and a pair of Cole Haan heels. Looking at some of the frocks inside the tent I would have been safe in DVF. I love almost all of her stuff but last year was a rare miss for me. I liked what I saw for 2010 a lot better. I didn't think her show photographed very well. The photos I've seen have not captured the movement her pieces had.

The end of the weekend was almost a relief. I have an invite to one more show: Nanette Lepore on Wednesday. I would love love LOVE to go but it's smack in the middle of work. Not sure what I'm going to do. But in terms of seeing shows Fashion Week has already been quite the lucky success.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finding a doctor in NYC: just as hard as it looks

I don't get sick very often anymore but when I do I am down for the count. Anything lung-affecting is the worst; I've suffered from decreased lung capacity since I was a kid. About 2 weeks ago I started coughing. I was so pissed because I know I got sick at the hospital. I was there for a consultation. I walked in healthy. I walked out sick. I knew it was pretty bad when I started waking up in the middle of the night to cough. Then came to lovely phlegm and waking up with a burning throat. There was no avoiding it: I needed to see a doctor.

Since college I've pretty much avoided the regular doctor. I've been good about the dentist and the lady doctor. But I'm young, spry and healthy. Plus health insurance is so friggin confusing. How much is my co-pay? What kind of doctors can I see? Etc. And forget asking friends for referrals -- all my friends are doctor-aversive like me. Cheating sickness by way of not seeing the doctor.

I had been going to a walk-in clinic so I tried there first. The doctors are mostly medical students doing their rotations and they're pretty nice. The doc I saw took a throat culture which came back negative, decided I didn't have the flu and recommended I take Sudafed and cough medicine. And that was it. I tried both, and while I slept (and snored, I'm sure) like a baby I woke up feeling worse and worse. After a few days I woke up one morning with what felt like blood in my throat. It was so nasty. So I went back and they gave me cough medicine with codeine. Which again helped me sleep but I wasn't getting better. I needed a real doctor.

I turned to my insurer's online physician finder. It was helpful in terms of proximity but less than helpful in terms of anything else. In a city like New York I feel like it's important to have a certified, friendly, highly-recommended doctor. And you'd think there'd be plenty of resources for finding just that doctor. But there's really not. New York Magazine publishes an annual list of Best Doctors but it's like those Who's Who buy your way in. The few websites devoted to doctor ratings had little to no information about most of the doctors.

So it became a crapshoot. The first listing I tried was a nightmare. It turned out it was affiliated with Social Services, which made for all kinds of interesting characters at the office. There were also a bunch of unsavory characters. I was lucky enough to go on a day when they were having a recovering alcoholics group come through. It was the first time in New York I felt scared. I left before my appointment.

Third time's the charm so after failures with walk-in clinics and physician finders I called a friend of a friend who is a receptionist for a plastic surgeon in the city. She found a doctor right by my work. It was nuts. I called his cell phone, then he had me call his Brooklyn office to make an appointment. It's like some kind of secret code you have to follow. But he had after hours appointments so I didn't complain.

The next night I went to the office which was above an upscale retailer. I checked in and started filling out the forms. It was just me and a couple in the waiting area. By the third page I realized they were asking an awful lot about my sexual history. Then I started noticing the office decor. An African fertility statue. Literature about cord blood. Some ad for a pregnant New Yorkers network. Oh my god, I realized. I was at a family practice, not a general practitioner. I almost left but I was so miserable and just wanted to see some doctor, any friggin doctor.

Still it was kind of mortifying when the doctor called me back and the first words that spewed out of my mouth were "uh, I may have made a mistake, I'm not pregnant or anything, I just have a cough!" He just laughed an explained that he was an MD and that the other doctors in the office specialized in fertility and family medicine. Oh. Glad we got that out of the way! The second mortifying moment was when I had to weigh myself. I know I have packed on some pounds in the past month or so and I'm already taking steps to rectify the issue. Still, it was pretty devastating to see the scale land on the heaviest weight I've ever been in my life. Just by a few poinds, but still! I'm surprised I didn't lose a pound in carbon dioxide by how much that deflated me. Not the end of the world certainly but considering I've actually really picked up my exercise routine it's unnerving.

The doc turned out to be pretty cool though. He proscribed some Zithromax for the cough (hello again and I met many times through Tonsilitis in college). Then he talked general health with me for a bit. My parents are both type II diabetics and lord I do not want to suffer the same fate. Doc told me to go get some blood work, hands me a form, recommends I hook up with a nutritionist, and wants to see me again in 2 weeks to follow up. It's just the beginning but this could be the beginning of a beautiful doctor-patient relationship. I think I found my NYC doc, and it only took 3 years.