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I have always been overweight. Or I have always been told I was always overweight.
When I look at pictures of me as a little girl I look like any other little girl. I don't look chubby or fat. I was active, I ran around, climbed tress, swam, got into shennanigans, etc.
Around 13 I began to swim competitively on a serious level and that's when people began paying close attention to my weight. It was also middle school, there was some painful and scary stuff going on, I got teased and I discovered that when I ate I didn't care that much what was going on around me. So I started to eat. I was swimming two hours in the morning before school, doing an hour of dryland training after school and then another two hour of swimming after that 5 days a week and then three hours of training both water and dryland on Saturday. Needless to say the food I was eating really didn't stay on my body. I was thick, muscular and very strong. My coach and my parents were constantly on me watching every bite I put in my mouth. My father would make constant comments. I would be threatened to be weighed in front of the whole swim team if I gained weight, threatened that I couldn't go to a dance or do other things if my weight wasn't were they thought it should be. I was put on multiple fad diets.
Around 16-17 I decided I would quit swimming. Once I quit I really started to eat and because I was not training the weight packed on rapidly. I was miserable and I put that misery into food. And this went on for 20+ years. I joined weight watchers, the Diet Center, did Kaiser's diabetic exchange, tried to be good for six days and then eat what I wanted for one day and then went for long periods of time not trying at all. Around 21-22 years old I went to Overeater's Anonymous. This was the first place I had any measure of success. I got abstinent the first time around 6-9 months after my first meeting. I didn't work the steps that time I just followed Grey Sheet and worked with the sponsor. I remember weighing and measuring everything and being so hungry in the beginning I felt high. That lasted a little less than I year. I lost about 90 pounds and then broke my abstinence because I ate too much fruit and I was off. This was my experience in OA for years. I got abstinent in OA about 3 times. Each time I lost about 100-120 pounds, had a year+ of abstinence and then chucked it all for some lame reason. I never worked all 12 steps on the food issues.
About 7-8 years ago I got confronted by one of the nurses where I work about my eating disorder (I work at a chemical dependency hospital). At the time I was working in the Admissions Department and my job was to help people become admitted. On this particular day I was wearing ankle socks. I weighed about 350 pounds and the flesh above my socks was coming out over the socks because my legs were swollen. She called me into her office and was looking at my legs and asked me what I was going to do about my weight. I told her I was going to go back to OA and she told me that wasn't going to be enough. Long story short she felt I needed inpatient treatment. I told her I would think about it. I went home, prayed, thought and then put a call into a friend of mine who was working for us. He happened to work in Mississippi and asked him what he thought. He gave me the name of a place he used to work for and told me to call them. I called them and about 60 days later I was on a plane, leaving my new husband to go to treatment in Hattiesburg, MS. I ended up doing 9.5 weeks there. It was a great experience, taught me somethings about myself, somethings about food, and was definitely another step in my journey.
All along I had known about surgery. When someone would talk about it I would say stuff about how surgery was the easier softer way, that the surgery didn't do anything for the person's brain which was where the problem really was, etc. Yet when people I knew got the surgery I would be jealous and envious of them. More about this later.
So I came home from treatment, got a therapist, started seeing a psychiatrist and half asses worked with a nutritionist. After about 90 days I have what was to be determined was a series of gallbladder attacks and eventually had to have my gallbladder removed. Following surgery I went back to eating the way I had, gained all the weight back that I had lost in treatment plus.
The next few years were really horrible. I could not stop eating. I would go a few days maybe but would hit the food even harder when I did start again. I was eating acid reducers like candy just to be able to eat the things I was obsessed with. I went up to 396 pounds. I would lie down at night and listen to my heart pound in my chest. I would cry to my husband about how miserable I was and yell and scream at him to not bring certain food into the house. And then a couple of days would go by and I would bring those very foods into the house. I was totally insane. My doctor started talking to me about having the surgery. My psychiatrist started advocating for the surgery. They both started telling me that due to the numerous times I had gained and lost my weight I had broken something inside that helped naturally regulate my weight and that the surgery would be my best bet and getting to a more normal body weight. I kept stubbornly fighting the idea with my lame rationalizations as to why I wouldn't do it. And things just got worse. I got more depressed and passively suicidal thinking that I would just keep eating until I died because I knew I couldn't stop.
Then something changed and I am not sure what. I guess the best way to tell it is I made a decision that I didn't want to die. I went to my doctor and told him I wanted to have the surgery. He wrote up the order immediately. I had already done about half of the nutritional counseling already because I had been playing with the idea when he first brought it up and he had made a consultation for me to see the nutritionist. I walked away from that visit feeling like I had finally accepted my powerless and unmanageability with food and my weight for the first time. I felt different. From there I jumped through all the hoops that were placed before me. I have to say there were not that many. I did advocate for myself. I have never done that before, but I did this time. I followed up on everything. The only snag I had was my EKG. Because I was super morbidly obese my EKG was abnormal. I had to have an eckocardiogram. The surgeon practically wanted a guarantee that I would not die from heart issues. Well no one was going to guarantee that but I got what I could and it was accepted.
I started making little changes with my food along the way but I also had some "Last meals" as well. There was the 3lb box a See's Candy which I ate like a level and a half and then gave the rest away. The special "goodbye to buffets" trip to Vegas my husband and I made in which I got so sick there was no buffets for me (baby jesus must have been laughing hard!). A goodbye to KFC and others. I went from 396 to 365 when I was placed on my two week liquid diet pre-surgery. Even that wasn't so bad. I did like a daily post to keep myself on track. That stuff was so gross that towards the end instead of drinking the allotted 5 boxes I only drank 3. On the Sunday before my surgery the following day I was so excited to be able to have chicken stock and sugar free jello that I had stocked up. Guess what? Horrible. It tasted so yucky that I had like a cup of the stock, one sugar free jellow and drank water the rest of the time. Maybe it was the bowel prep :)
The morning of my surgery I was a ball of nerves. I couldn't sit inside of the hospital. So I sat outside, prayed and enjoyed the cool air until I was called in the get ready to be put under. That was surreal. I remember my husband coming in and sitting next to the bed. The anesthesia people giving me the shots and me feeling GOOOOOOD. The next thing I know I am in recovery, a little sore but nothing major. And I remember - WALK. So about two hours after being rolled out of surgery I am walking, breathing in the tube, walking, walking, sleeping, walking, pressing the pain med button, walking.
The very hardest day for me was the day after I got out of the hospital. I ws so scared of screwing up. I could not fgure out how to get the liquids in, how to get the protein in. How to do all of that with just sipping and taking time in between sips. I worked myself up so badly I got a fever and had a major emotional meltdown. I cam onto this website, freaked out on the forrum, took someone's advise, stepped away from the keyboard and chilled out.
I slept in the reclining chair for about 2 weeks. I kept the pain killer juice for about a week and then didn't need it anymore. Immediately my energy level was way up and my house was cleaner than it had ever been. I didn't move fast, but I was able to get a lot done over a longer period of time and I felt really good. I would get exhausted in the afternoons.
Around the first week I noticed the one of my larger incisions ws looking red and weepy. The next day is seemed bigger and more pussy. The following day we were going to see the surgeon and his PA said it was nothing to worry about. Good thing I didn't listen. It just got bigger. I got an appointment with my primary care physician, he gave me a referral to wound care. My managed care provided didn't move fast enough because while I was waiting the wound was getting bigger and deeper so I got on the phone and cried and I think got close to screaming. I finally got an appointment and what followed was a major infection in three separate incisions that took three months of weekly visits to wound care to heal. That was really not fun but nowhere near enough to make me feel like I did the wrong thing in getting this surgery.
So there is my story. I am going to start blogging now. As of 3/14/11 I am 17 months out. I can definatly eat a wider variety of foods than I did in the begining. I am eating things (chocolate, muffins, donuts) that I said I would never eat again. I weigh less than I ever have as an adult and am wearing a size of clothing I have not worn since I was 13 years old. To be honest I have some magical thinking going on about this surgery which is not healthy. I have begun to take it for granted and I need to stay close. This is the whole purpose of fleshing out my profile and writing on the blog. Thanks for reading.