Category Archives: depression

On The Move

So many things have changed for over the last year and a half, I’ve lost count. One of the biggest changes, however, is yet to come. I am moving in two weeks!

I was not originally planning this, but the opportunity presented itself. I have been renting a large studio apartment for the past five years. I love this apartment. It has been very good to me. But I have outgrown it and I’ve known this for a while.

In November, my apartment building informed everyone that if we wanted to continue renting month-to-month, which I have been for four years now, they would charge us a penalty. They were encouraging everyone to sign a new lease. I do not mind signing a new lease, but I was thinking that maybe some time in June I might consider upgrading to a one bedroom apartment. I did not want to be tied into another lease just yet. So, I complained.

When I complained to the leasing manager, she told me that they had a glut of one bedroom apartments on the market and they were anxious to move them as soon as possible. She told me that instead of upgrading in June, which is peak moving time for this area, I should consider upgrading now as she could probably give me a very good price. She was right. I am only going to be paying $60 more for the one bedroom than I would be for the studio. And, as a bonus, the apartment I am moving into will be completely renovated from top to bottom, new walls, new carpet, new appliances. I am so excited.

I was supposed to move in February, but the apartment was not ready. So, I have agreed to move in March instead, not that I had much choice.

I have been wildly packing and consolidating. I have taken this time to throw out a bunch of stuff I have been holding onto for no discernible reason whatsoever. I have donated a lot of stuff. And I found a bunch more clothes I need to donate. Last year, when I finally got down to a 1x in pants, I bought a bunch of yoga pants and stretch pants. I have finally accepted the fact that they are all too big for me now. I put on the yoga pants this weekend and could not keep them up.

As I was packing my clothes, I am really surprised by how few clothes I actually have left. I have a ton of dishes, pots, pans, books, bookshelves, etc., but the clothing supply is severely diminished since my last move.

When I moved into this apartment, I had a lot of clothes. Most of the clothes I held onto for years even though they were too small for me. As I lost weight, I was glad that I saved them. I have since purged my wardrobe several times as I lost weight. Once I am finally moved and settled, I will have to start working on rebuilding my clothing supply. I have many empty hangers to fill.

I am very happy about this move. It has taken it’s toll though. It is very emotional going through everything you own. I have felt for a while now like I have been living my life backwards through clothes. Now that I am packing up and looking at everything I own, all of those emotions are resurfacing.

I have been struggling a bit with my emotions, but I feel certain that I can work through them. This downturn of emotions has been unexpected. I’m not sure if it is the winter weather or if the enormity of all of the changes I have been through these last two years, but I feel like I have been reeling. I know in the long run I will be OK, but I feel as if I have been completely caught off guard by this.

My biggest fear is that I will let this go on too long and start going backwards. I really do not want that to happen. I think once I’m moved and settled, and spring shows up, I’ll start feeling better.

On a brighter note…

I am making one other change apart from my move. I have decided to adopt a pet, specifically, a cat. I am working through an organization called Homeward Trails. They take in rescues and save pets from kill shelters. A friend of mine volunteers for them from time to time. He advised me to go to them. I filled out their application and met a kitty this weekend.

I had my phone interview yesterday. They want to do a home inspection once I move. After that, I should be able to bring my new kitty cat home. I’m including a picture of the cat that I met. Her name is Naomi. She is so precious.

She was not my first choice initially. Then I met her! OMG she’s awesome. I am hoping she’s the cat that I end up with. They cannot promise she will still be available in two weeks, but they said they will do what they can. In the meantime, here are some pics of her.

She’s so smart and loves to explore. She’s also very amenable to petting and just being chill, which is good. She was apparently found with a litter of kittens. All of her babies have found homes. I would be so happy to take her in. Wish me luck.

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When It Rains It Pours

So, I’ve been moping around feeling sorry for myself over the last few weeks. Work has been busy and stressing me out.  My personal life is a mess. I’ve been bummed out because of my four-month weight loss plateau. Basically, I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself.

This week, a good friend of mine sat me down and had a talk with me.  She basically told me to snap out of it and appreciate all of the good things that have been happening to me.  She gave me a little pep talk and reminded of all the progress I have made. She is right. I have been acting foolishly.  For the last few days, I have been actively trying to be more cheerful and not dwell on the negative.

But then it happened…

I took my work computer home last night. There was a chance we may get freezing rain last night, and I wanted to be ready to work from home.  That, however, was not the problem.

Because I was reading on the metro and then the bus, I did not really pay as close attention to my stuff that I normally do.  As a result, I left my secondary bag, the one with my lunch, my make-up, an umbrella, my iPhone charger, (the new one I just bought), and my keys on the bus.

Of everything in that bag, the only things I am really upset about are the iPhone charger and the keys.  My apartment building has been great.  They gave me a replacement key until I can get my spare from my sister.  I have a spare car key, but it’s not an electronic one.  I will have to get that replaced. I can buy a new iPhone charger, but I’m just mad that I have to do that…again.

I was upset last night and today at work. But something happened on the way home from work. I stopped caring.

Walking through DC, on the metro, and bus home, I had the most amazing feeling of weightlessness.  It was freeing. I did not have to cart half of my life around with me.

I am moving at the end of the month to a new apartment in the same building. The manager told me that as long as I can return one set of keys, they won’t charge me a fee for the ones I do not have. Done. Someone told me that I can get my key replaced at home depot for $50.00. Done. And the rest? An inconvenience, but replaceable.

What I found surprising is that by letting go of the belongings that I lost, I also stopped caring about all of the other stuff that has been bothering me all month.

Weight isn’t just the physical girth we carry around on our bodies, it’s also all of the emotional baggage we carry around. The weight of those burdens has had me focused on all of the wrong things. Maybe losing that bag was a blessing in disguise.

Struggling & Finding A New Direction

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I have to admit it, I have been struggling since the turn of the New Year.  I got sick on January 2 on my way to work.  Unpleasant, to say the least.  I’ve hit a very long plateau in my weight loss which has me thinking that I may never lose another pound.  That thought terrifies me as I am very afraid that I will start gaining again.  I want to lose another 46 pounds, but if I don’t I’m sort of OK with that.  I’m not OK with the thought of gaining any weight at all.  I also have been struggling with the number of hours I have been working.  That has really taken a toll on my over all mental well-being, mostly because I have no time for anything else and I’m exhausted all of the time.

Mostly though, I have been surprised by the number of emotional battles I have been fighting as well.  That has kind of caught me off guard because I have really been riding an emotional high for a very long time.  I think some of it has to do with the fact that my weight loss has slowed, and I fear regaining the weight.  Some of it I think has been dealing with people who just refuse to see all the work I have done and how I have changed.  To them, I will always be the out of control overeating fat girl who needs to be constantly reminded that her efforts aren’t good enough and never will be.

One of the reasons I have always hated losing weight is the public consumption of my weight loss.  I know…oh the irony of a blogger making THAT complaint.  But it’s true.  Any time I have dieted in the past, everyone always commented on my weight loss, or lack thereof, the food I ate, and whether or not I gained weight when the diet eventually failed. Making a change like that is a very personal, and often, painful journey, yet the whole of society feels free to comment and pass judgment on it.  I think that’s part of the reason I decided to blog my weight loss since the surgery.  If the whole world, (at least my world), was going to watch me lose weight, I was going to at least control the dialogue…this time.

But really, I think a large part of my emotional struggle has been trying come to terms with my own identity.  I don’t know if I’m really done losing weight.  I hope I’m not.  I do want to lose the last little bit I have left.  Still, whether I’m done losing now, or some time in the not too distant future, the end of my weight loss journey is in sight.

For many years I was simply the fat girl.  Then for the past year and a half, I have been the girl who is changing her life by losing an incredible amount of weight.  I now know a lot of people who knew me when I was fat and are now getting used to the new me.  And I’ve met a lot of people who never knew me as the fat girl, who just know me now and do not understand where I have been.

I guess I have really been struggling with who I am now that I’ve lost the weight (or most of it, at least).  Who am I if I’m not the girl who is losing weight?  I guess I’m the one who lost a lot of weight, but that title can only last for so long.

The truth is, however, none of that really matters.  What the world thinks of me is really none of my concern.  What I need to do is decide for myself who I am and where my journey goes from here.  I can choose to have a future where my excess weight no longer defines who I am.  It’s an idea that is as freeing as it is terrifying.  But this is the world that I have chosen to create for myself. Now I just need to find a way to live in it.

So, I made some decisions about this.  I went to a couple of my writer’s group this week and in both of them, we had to set writing goals for the new year. Also, my birthday was yesterday, and it coincided with the Chinese Lunar New Year, which I think is a great time to refocus and start something new.  This is now the year of the horse, and I was born in the year of the horse.  I do not put much stock in astrology, but I do feel that it could be a sign this will be a good year.

In my second, much smaller writer’s group, I said I would start writing on this blog more (again) and maybe change the focus a little.  I want to talk more about my over all health as opposed to just weight loss.  If I really am reaching the end of my weight loss journey, I need to do that.

I’m not sure where this New Year will take me, or what direction my life will go. I’m not really sure what this blog will become.  If the weight loss does start up again, I will definitely update that, but it won’t be my main focus.  I do want to write more about food, body image, health, and weight loss in general.  I am hopeful that I can come to terms with who I am now and where I go from here.  I hope you’ll join me on the next step in my journey.

Getting Back On Schedule

The last three weeks have really been a killer.  I have been working ten-hour days most days.    Plus, I’ve had to go to Pittsburgh to help out my mom.  The good news is her cast is off.  The bad news is she still cannot do everything she was able to do before she broke her arm.  Don’t get me wrong, she’s doing great, but she has a long way to go before her arm is completely healed.

I like my job, and certainly I feel that all of the hard work has been worth it.  And I love going to Pittsburgh to help out my mom, but all of this has thrown me completely off schedule.  Here is what all of this stress, work, and traveling has done to me:

  • I have not been to the gym in weeks.
  • Keeping my eating on schedule has been difficult.
  • When I am home and have a minute to myself, all I want to do is sleep.
  • My weight loss has plateaued again.

I’ve been trying not to get depressed about all of this, but that has been difficult.

Now I am facing a three day weekend.  The unofficial end of summer/beginning of fall.  Autumn is my favorite season.  I am really looking forward to the cooler weather, and changing leaves.  I just love it.  I’m also looking forward to wearing scarves, sweaters, cool new jackets that I bought.  My mom also gave me a couple of jackets.  I am so ready for the fall.

I was really hoping to have lost a few more pound before fall began, though.  These last 50 pounds are going much more slowly than the first 123 pound weight loss.  That’s difficult to deal with.  So, I need to get myself back on schedule.  Just dealing with the food side of things doesn’t seem to be enough any more.

So, today I am heading back to the gym.  I’m going to walk to the gym and see what classes are happening.  Maybe yoga, maybe Bodyflow.  Or maybe I’ll hit the weight machines.

I know things will not slow down at work just yet.  I may have a few more weeks of busy days.  And I still have to go to Pittsburgh to help out my mom, but I have to refocus on my health and weight loss.  That has to be the priority in my life.  Blogging might be spotty over the next few weeks, but I promise to check in as often as I can.

I am including a current picture of myself.  I feel like it’s been a while, so here you are.

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Have a great Labor Day Weekend, everyone!

If I Didn’t Know Any Better…

I’d think I had PMS.  I haven’t had PMS since the last time I bitched on this blog back in March about my periods, or mostly lack thereof.

I had a pretty crummy day today.  I thought that it started out pretty good.  I had an odd dream this am that left me feeling somewhat hopeful about a particular situation.  But as the day wore on and the more I thought about it, the more I accepted that it was just a dream and was more a reflection of my own wishes and not really a predictor of my desired outcome.  That brought me down a bit, but I can live with that.

Then I was very busy at work and at one point became a little overwhelmed.

I was rained on during both the commute into work and home.

I had to take my work laptop back to the office today.  My back was killing me from carrying it around.

I left my debit card at home and could not pay for my coffee this am.  That was embarrassing.  Fortunately, I took my lunch to work and my fare card for the metro was fully charged, so I was good.

I came home and I was totally deflated and just wanted to cry.

Normally, this kind of day would have been enough to trigger a binge attack for me, and it did.  Fortunately, I did not succumb.  I almost did.  I gathered up change out of my change jar and I went down to the market in my building.  Now, the market in my building is a dangerous place for a food addict, and my apartment is immediately above the store.  They have chips, eggs and bacon, more chips, sodas, beer, wine, frozen foods, frozen pizzas, cookies, crackers, candy bars…all the junk food you could want.  And I used to shop there a lot.

I stood there with my fistful of quarters looking around the store, and I couldn’t do it.  I could not buy the horrible junk food I was craving.  I really wanted chips or pretzels, but I couldn’t make myself buy them.

Instead, I bought a box of saltines and some spaghetti sauce.  I then made 5 saltines mini pizzas for dinner, and yes, that is a bariatric-approved meal.  It was actually recommended to me in the diet plan provided by the surgeon’s office.  The tomato sauce counts as a vegetable and the cheese as protein.  The saltines are really just filler food.  I also had a side of string cheese to make sure I had enough protein.

I’m still feeling kind of blah today, but at least I know I’m not totally helpless against the binge monster.  I fought it off today.  That makes me feel hopeful that I will be able to fight it off again in the future.

Old Habits Die Hard

Sometimes, living with change is hard.  I have had a great run with the changes that I have made in my life.  I am very happy with how I look, how I feel, and the weight that I have lost.  Sometimes, though it is really hard to to keep old behaviors at bay.

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One of my World of Warcraft characters.

Recently, I have been fighting the urge to game.  Omg I loved World of Warcraft when I was heavy into the gaming scene.  I have been thinking about WoW a lot recently.  I loved the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  That’s when I played the most and was at the top of my game, so to speak.  I did every raid, every pvp (player vs. player) battleground.  I was the second ranked alliance restoration shaman (healer) on my realm.  My guild was the second alliance guild to down the Lich King (end game raid boss).  I had several twinks (low-level, overly geared characters made just for pvp).  I was on the game day and night, sick or well.    I was obsessed.

My obsessive problems were not limited to gaming either.  I think my gaming addiction was simply one of my addictions.  Obviously, my other addiction was food.

The gastric by-pass certainly helped me control my food addiction.  And managing one addiction helped me let go of another.

I am worried though.  When I start thinking about gaming, I wonder if I am starting to fall back on my old ways.

One of my gamer friends from the WoW days now plays Guild Wars 2.  I did go out and buy the game back in January.  I created a character and played a bit.  Sometimes, when this friend contacts me, I would log on and run through the game with him a bit.  But playing GW2 made me realize that I really have no desire to game.  Thus, I think my character is still level 5 and probably still standing in the middle of the field where I left her.

Last night he sent me messages on Skype trying to get me to log on.  I was tempted.  I miss my gamer friends.  We had fun together running around killing imaginary crap or instigating world pvp battles.  The problem is, this particular friend just does not get what it is I have been through trying to manage all of my addictions.  I haven’t really take the time to explain it to him, but he does have access to my blog and could read it, but doesn’t.  Not that I don’t think he would understand, I think that he would.  I am just afraid that I would fall back into the same trap and end up right back where I was.

I think that is one of my biggest fears since the surgery, backsliding.  I have worked so hard to get where I am and I still have a little way to go before I reach my goal weight.  I am so happy with the changes that I have made.  I feel good.  I look better than I have in years.  But I’m terrified of ending up right back where I was.

It is possible to regain all of the weight lost even after a gastric by-pass surgery as extreme as mine.  I would hate to go through all of this pain, expense, suffering, and sacrifice just to regain the weight and be just as sick as before.  I think that is why I just cannot bring myself to jump back into the gaming world.  I am afraid that if I start gaming again, the whole new life I have built for myself will collapse.

Maybe one day, I will be able to play video games and have them  be a part of the healthy new lifestyle I have created for myself, but not yet.  The pain of the past is still too close and the fear of failure to too near.

Food Addicts R US

Normally, I am not a fan of the show Morning Joe.  I think he’s kind of a jerk and I’m not a fan.  I do watch it some mornings as I get ready for work because there is rarely anything else on that is any good.  I like some of the people he has on his show and I am starting to really like Mika Brzezinski.

This week, however, I am totally glued to MJ as Mika has just come out with a new book:  Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – And My Own.

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Mika co-wrote this book with a friend of hers.  I have not read the book yet, but I am putting it on my wish-list!  She and her friend have been discussing very honestly about their different addictions with food and the effect body image, food addiction, and eating disorders have had on their lives.  Mika has talked about her bulimia and her friend was obese.  Her friend has lost 75 pounds and Mika has gained about 14.

For the record, they are both beautiful women who need to change nothing.

Part of what motiviated yesterdays post about my own food addiction, apart from my mini meltdown on Sunday, was listening to Mika talk about her own addiction.  She tells, and retells a story about how one night, she woke up and began eating an entire jar of Nutella. Her husband found her in the kitchen when he woke up with an empty jar and her hands covered in Nutella.  Although I’ve never eaten and entire jar of the stuff myself, I completely understand and can identify with the feelings that compelled her to do this.  I have certainly found myself in the kitchen gorging myself on whatever it whatever it took for me to satisfy that urge.  Watching her on TV was like looking in a mirror, but a mirror where I am 5’10”, blonde, and totally hot.

I love the conversation she’s had about the shame of having an eating disorder.  I can totally relate.  And she talked about how she felt as if she had no right to come out about her own eating problems and her opinions about food and weight because she is thin and not fat.  Which, I can kind of understand what she means.  I have often listened to skinny girls who complained about their weight and thought, “yeah right, what do you know about being fat.”  But what I have come to realize is that it’s not the fat that’s the problem.  Whether one is fat or thin is immaterial, it is our own self-image that is messed up…that’s the real issue.

She has also talked a lot about how foods are designed to be addictive.  She had the author of another book that I am adding to my wish-list, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.

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Michael Moss specifically talks about how the food companies spend a ton of money to make sure that we crave their foods.  It is easy to see how we have a huge obesity problem here in the US if the food we eat is made to be addictive.

It’s this combination of a destructive obsession with body image, fat, and self loathing and addictive foods that really seems to be at the heart of the problem.  When 2 out of three Americans are obese or have some kind of eating disorder, we have a problem.  People like Mika and her friend talking about their issues, is how we start to address it.

I cannot wait to read these books and I’m really looking forward to see what Mika has in store for tomorrow’s show!

Re-Evaluation 104 Pounds Later: Why Gastric By-Pass? Why Now?

I’m not sure that I have ever gone into a detailed account on this blog as to why I finally decided to lose weight through surgery.  I want to try to do that today.

Now that I have lost 104 pounds and my goal does not seem quite so far away, I have been thinking a lot about what I have been through this past year and how my life has changed.  That had me thinking about what finally motivated me to take such a drastic step.  And that had me re-evaluating my life as a whole.  Needless to say, I have had a very emotional week.

I have been dieting all of my life.  When I say all of my life, I mean every day, every hour, every minute I have worried about food and being fat for as far back as I can remember.  That obsession with fat and food had a very deleterious effect on my life.  I never felt good about myself with the exception of a few times.  As a result, I gained more and more weight over the years until I topped the scale at 315 pounds at my heaviest.

I have tried so many different diets, weight watchers, the cabbage soup diet, I have worked with doctors, nutritionists.  I have exercised.  I have walked endless miles.  You name it.  I have done it.  But after each failed attempt, I just kept gaining more and more weight.

People have tried to talk to me about weight loss surgery for years and I was never open to it.  I knew I could just lose weight if I just put my mind to it.  The problem was, I was not losing weight and after each failure, I became more and more depressed until I just gave up.  I went on for years like that.  I buried my depression in more food, video games, I withdrew from the world, I stopped doing things I loved.  My health got worse and worse.  I could not walk much.  I could not breathe well.  The less I could go out comfortably, the less I wanted to go out.  It was a perpetual never-ending cycle.

So, what changed?  Why was I suddenly willing to consider surgery when before I would not even talk about it?

As with most things in life, it was not just one thing.  There were several events over the past few years which made me really want to make significant changes to my life.  I found new interests and new reasons to live.  I wanted to let go of the past, but I did not really know how.  And it became increasingly apparent to me that if I did not change my life, I might be on my way to an early grave and I would not have a chance to really do anything.

The first thing that changed in my life  was the birth of my niece.  When my brother and his wife brought her home, and let me hold her for the first time, I was hooked.  I knew in that moment that nothing in the world was more important than that little girl.  I never knew that I could love another person so much.  I have heard it said that parents feel that kind of connection with their child, but I’m here to tell you, Aunties feel it too.  She turned a collection of related adults into a family.

My whole life centered around seeing her smile when I walked into a room.   I forgot what I was doing with my life before she was born.  Nothing else was important anymore.  I want to be there with her through all of her major life events.  I want to help her know how wonderful she is and how much we love her.  And most importantly, I want her to grow up knowing her own self-worth and never feel the insecurities and worthlessness I have felt in my life.

My biggest fear was that I would die from my obesity before I could tell her how wonderful she is, how much she is loved, and how she changed all of our lives, particularly mine.

I also decided that I want to write.  I have always had stories and ideas floating around in my head, but I very rarely ever tried to write any of them down.  Mostly, I was insecure and afraid to write.  I was afraid that other people would hate my ideas and think I was a bad writer.  Who knows.  Maybe they do and maybe I am, but I no longer care.  I have to write, even if it is only ever for myself.

I joined a writers group and although I did not write much for years, I slowly began to develop some confidence and even more slowly became less and less afraid to write.   Now that I am doing this blog almost daily, I cannot seem to stop.  I am also doing a lot of writing apart from this blog as well.  I am writing short stories, essays, I’m working on a novel.  I love it and I do not want to stop.

The third that really compelled me to start thinking about surgery was my sister Jen.  She was married a couple of years ago.  I looked terrible when I went to her wedding.  I know what a disappointment that was for her.  She wanted everyone to be there and have fun, to celebrate the new life she was starting for herself.  I know that she had a hard time seeing me in that condition and I hated not being able to fully join in the fun the way I would have liked.

Then earlier in 2011, I started experiencing the symptoms of a kidney infection.  My other sister Sandy took me to the urgent care so that I they could do a test and maybe give me some antibiotics.  They took my blood pressure and it was 210/123-ish.  Pretty darn high.  I was on blood pressure medication already.  Clearly, it was not helping enough.  The doctor at the urgent care insisted I get an EKG and they found an irregularity with my heart beats.  So, he sent me directly to the hospital where the doctor there promptly ignored me.  When I saw my doctor that Monday, she made an immediate appointment for me at a heart doctor in the neighborhood.  They did a sonogram of my heart, another EKG, and put me on three blood pressure medications.  Fortunately, they did not find anything wrong with my heart, and the irregular heart beat cleared up when they got my bp under control, but that was very scary.

Sandy was very worried about me and tried to talk to me several times about doing something about my weight.  The heart thing was too scary for her.  In truth, I was afraid as well, but I was depressed, and not sure what to do.  I did not know what to do, but I knew that I had to do something.

One day, Sandy told me about a girl that she worked with who had lost a lot of weight.  This was maybe in October/November 2011.  She asked the girl how she did it.  Her friend had the lap band surgery.  So, Sandy had me talk to her friend and get the surgeon’s information.  She lobbied hard for me to consider this surgery.  She watched it change her co-worker’s life and she wanted that same thing for me.

I did agree to consider the surgery.  To me, the lap band sounded less intrusive and less damaging than the gastric by-pass.  I went to the surgeon and I was really unhappy with their office.  I really felt like they were trying to sell me a product and they were insistent on pushing me towards the most extreme, expensive surgery.  I left there feeling very uncomfortable, but a seed had been planted.

I decided to get a second opinion, which I did.  I did not like that doctor either.  One, that doctor was connected to the hospital where they basically ignored me after the urgent care doctor thought I was having a silent heart attack.  There was no way I was going to have anything to do with that hospital.  Let them cut me open?  No way.

Then in January/February 2012, I got sick again.  This time I started having excruciating pain on my right side just under my ribs.  I was in and out of the hospital for days.  I kept going to my doctor and she kept sending me back to the hospital for test after test.  The pain was so bad I could not breathe.  After getting a bunch of tests done at the hospital that were inconclusive, I was on the phone with my doctor’s office.  They were telling me they found nothing wrong with me.  I was crying and gasping for air because I was in so much pain.  He sent me back over to the ER.

One of the doctors there was afraid that I had a pulmonary embolism.  The best way to test for it was to give me iodine, which I was very allergic to, for a CT of some kind.  He tried several other tests that were inconclusive and finally told me that if I had an embolism, they would have to treat me for it immediately or it would kill me.  He was gong to have to give me the iodine and risk the allergic reaction.

He gave me a large dose of Benadryl and steroids to hopefully stave off an allergic reaction.  They then shot me full of iodine and did the CT.

Thankfully, I did NOT have a pulmonary embolism, but what they did find was still pretty scary.  My liver was enlarged and my lungs were crushed under the weight of my very large stomach.  My heart was also slightly enlarged.  And my spleen was pretty unhappy.

Now, because I was pumped full of steroids, some of the pain started to abate.  They also had given me some pretty serious pain killers.   They gave me the test results to take to my doctor and finally released me some 10 hours after I had come in for testing.

After about a week of eating nothing but chicken broth and saltines, the pain finally subsided.  My doctor did another round of blood work and kept an eye on me for a few months.  I also lost about ten pounds during that week.  My weight at the start of this debacle was about 315.  I brought it down to about 305 and eventually made it down to about 298.

The seed that had been planted when I went to see the doctor about the lap band surgery really started to take root.  I began to realize that if I did not do something about my weight and soon, I was on the road to an early grave.  If I died because of my weight, I would miss Emmy growing up.  She would only have vague memories of an Aunt who her parents say loved her if she remembered me at all.  All of these crazy stories flying around my head would evaporate into the ether.  My life would have no purpose and I would just be another statistic, another sad obese person who had no control and allowed their addiction to food kill them.  I could not let that happen.

I made up my mind to really have this surgery.  If I was going to die, it was not going to be for not trying.  I started researching other doctors when one day a former co-worker of mine came into the office to visit some of her friends.  I was sitting in my bosses office and she came in and sat down next to me.  She had the gastric by-pass surgery and she looked fantastic.  When she sat down next to me, I stopped talking to my boss and turned around and told her that I had to ask her a question.

She was very open and said,”You can ask me anything.”

Of course, I asked her about her doctor and the surgery she had done.  She gave me his number and I called him.  Once I met him, I knew he was the doctor for me.  Everybody in his office was great.  They walked me through everything step by step.  I felt very comfortable after I left the office and I started making plans.

The surgery has changed my life.  I have no regrets.  I am glad I did it. I know I still have a way to go before I have lost all the weight that I want to lose, but I know I will get there.

Most importantly, my health is better.  I feel great.  And I feel that I have my life back.

Perspective

Fifteen or so years ago when I weighed what I weigh now, I had a completely different outlook on my health and what I actually looked like.

I had at one point weighed about 245-ish and had lost enough weight to get me down in the 190s range.  I worked with my doctor and a nutritionist.  Shortly after my father passed away in 1996, I stopped going to the nutritionist, gave up on my weight loss progress, stopped exercising, and stopped doing yoga.  Obviously, I became depressed in my mourning and I allowed that to derail my health goals.  I bounced around the 200-220 range for a couple of years and in the early 2000s, my weight jumped up to 300-315 range and never came back down.

I will forever regret allowing my health goals to fall my the wayside, but looking back I can see my weight loss progress at that time was ultimately doomed to failure.  Allow me to explain.

It all boils down to perspective.  During that time period, after I had lost about 50 pounds, you could show me pictures of myself before and after the weight loss and I could see no discernible difference.  In my opinion, I looked the same.  All I saw was a fat girl.  Furthermore, the people I had in my life at the time also only saw a fat girl.  Whether they saw a difference between the 245 Colleen and the 195 Colleen was immaterial, to them, I was still fat.  Furthermore, if they did see a difference in my weight, they never mentioned it to me, or never mentioned it in a way that let me know they were happy with the progress that I had made.

I’m not blaming anyone for my inability to stay on track, mind you.  I merely want to point out that I had a serious mind-body disconnect and seriously unhealthy, unproductive relationships with people in my life.

Maybe I have lived alone too long.  Maybe I have developed a healthy dose of skepticism in other people’s opinions.  Maybe years, time, and experience have changed my outlook on life.  Who knows.  But I do know that I have changed.  While I value other people’s opinions, I find that I have stopped letting how I think they see me dictate how I see myself.  I also try to look at my life and behavior more honestly than I have in the past.  I’m not perfect at this, but I do try.

When I look at myself in before/after pictures now, I really see a difference in my weight loss.  Recently, I found a picture that a friend of mine posted on Facebook from her wedding.  The wedding took place in 2003, I think.  I know that I moved back to DC in 2004, so it definitely took place before then.  I was huge in this picture.  I think I was at my maximum weight, which was 315.  I was a mess.  I compared that picture to a pictures that a friend of mine took this weekend, and wow…the difference is staggering! (I am the one in pink.)

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This is a picture a friend of mine took this weekend.

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What a difference, huh?

Maybe I needed to fall that far to really appreciate where I am now.  Who knows, but I sure am glad that I made the decision to change my life.

Do I still look at photos of myself and see that I am still overweight?  Yes, of course I do.  Sometimes, I look at current pictures of myself and all I see is how much work I have to do.  But unlike before, I also see how far I have come.  I feel better.  I know I look better.  And mostly, I don’t care what other people think or what they think they see when they look at me.  I know what I have accomplished.  I know that I will one day get close enough to my goal to make a real difference.  Most importantly, I know that I will never go back!