My Thyroid Failed. not my surgery
This will be long. March 13 was 18 years post RNY. My first 6-7 years were successful in getting to a weight I was comfortable with. I had given up scales, so I've no clue what my weight was, but I got down to size 12/14 from 22/24W plus size (beginning weight about 253 lbs at 5'). My food plan was on track in the beginning and my appetite had changed along with the end of cravings.
Seven months after my WLS I remarried and my husband introduced me to Earl Grey Tea. I just "had to have it" with sugar, but it was only one or two cups in the evening and presented no problems. Or so I thought. (More about that later).
About seven years post WLS my weight began to creep up but it was very slow and my clothing was still fitting so I wasn't too worried. Shortly after this, (and even somewhat before) my husband and I were undergoing multiple stressors: moving multiple times, then my husband becoming disabled, and then myself. My husband's disability caused major stress, but my weight was fairly stable. However, the back issues that had motivated me to have WLS were growing worse and it was determined that I had two major issues that needed surgery. Because my husband was still in the approval process for SS disability and I was out of work, we were on public assistance. The medicaid declined approval for my surgery and shortly after, through several appeals I was finally awarded SS disability as well. At this point I was still able to walk and stand for long periods of time. But somewhere around 2010 my weight had begun to creep up again. My thyroid was checked and my values were in the normal range, or so we thought. (More about that below)
Then in 2012 my thyroid was checked again and this time I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. I was put on TRT but noticed little difference. I continued to gain weight and my sweet tooth was returning in a major way, along with loss of self control over these cravings.
By 2017 my weight had crept up to 234. My mobility was being greatly affected by my lower back pain and issues, and now my right knee was developing serious problems. Although we were now on SSDA with Medicare coverage, my husband's health was seriously deteriorating and his kidney cancer (2016 he lost his right kidney) and kidney stones (left kidney had to be laser blasted before the right kidney with the tumor was removed) which took precedence for us. Then I had several falls which required two shoulder surgeries.
Finally, in 2017 I was seen by a spine specialist who agreed I needed surgery, because now I'd developed scoliosis in addition to the other two lumbar spine conditions. However, my weight being at 234 and the length of time required for the surgical procedures had him sending me home to lose 70lbs. I was devastated.
Not being able to lose weight, in 2018-19, I saw a weight-loss surgery specialist who sent me for imaging tests to see if anything was wrong. There wasnt. He did tell me that the body does adapt to the malabsorption and that the benefits of it do not last. I don't remember anyone telling me that before. They may have. I just don't remember.
I tried very hard to lose weight, but could not give up my tea with sugar and gave into cravings for chocolate and candy bars. Eventually that morphed into switching from tea and candy to large travel mugs of coffee with massive amounts of sugar and whole milk.
Nevertheless, by August of 2020 I was at 216. But, I was having severe symptoms of fatigue and brain fog. As I spoke with my PC, he diagnosed those symptoms as adverse reactions to long term usage of my restless legs medication (Mirapex) that I'd been on since 2000. So we began the miserable journey of titration off this medication. Almost immediately I began gaining weight, first slowly, but by November I was gaining nearly 5-10 lbs every four weeks. By January 31, 2021, my weight hit 241 and my eating had not changed. I was freaked out and my doctor believed me that my eating was substantially the same as it had been in August. So he took blood to check my thyroid levels.
In the mean time, before I had the results of the labs, I went home ready for war. I cut out sugar entirely (and all artificial sweeteners). When the labs came back he had me come in asap, about 10 days after his call, because my thyroid was grossly undermedicated. In that period of time I lost 10 lbs and I began to discover certain foods and liquids aggravated my restless legs, so I cut out coffee, caffinated tea, all corn and corn products, cows milk (lactose intolerance) and any prepackaged processed foods. We increased my dose of my thyroid med and I went on a two meal a day food plan, one being a protein smoothie with blueberries and unsweetened coconut milk for lunch and a home cooked meal in the evening. I began weighing all my evening protein and using a calorie tracking app.
It turns out that the restless leg med is known to mask thyroid values. My thyroid had been failing for a very long time, but really tanked in menopause., which hit 2012-2013. Coming off the Mirapex by 87% revealed the thyroid issues and motivated me to make changes I'd not been willing to make.
There is also a huge faith component to my changes as I've walked through the last 11 months (the last decade really). The willingness to change and let go of feeling victimized by my body, by my passions, by the ortho-spine surgeon and the negativity of family in my past has been because of my faith. I give God all the praise and glory for what I've learned, what has been revealed, and being able and willing to change.
Today, I'm down 50 lbs, weighing in at 190.5 this morning. I'm on a doctor supervised 900 calorie a day food plan, mostly so low because the back issues have progressed to the point that standing and walking more than 5-10 minutes are not only painful, but cause numbness then burning in my left thigh. And with my knee issues, I am sedentary 90% of every day. Any time on my feet is walking to the bathroom, preparing our meals or walking to the bed to sleep. Therefore, low caloric daily consumption with doctor supervision is necessary
Grocery shopping is once a month and takes a day to recover from. But, I'm losing weigh. It's okay to feel hunger and it's okay to ask God to help me when saying no to cravings is hard.
I wanted to share all this because obesity is a very complex issue and there is no one size fits all solution. Our bodies change over time and adjustments are necessary to address these changes. Medications may have unintended and hidden consequences and I believe that our bodies, while important, are not the essence of who we are as people. I've learned that the majority of my suffering is neither physical nor emotional, but directly tied to the health of my soul. I know I would not have connected all the dots and changed without my faith.
I don't know if I'll ever get my back or knee surgery, or if I'll get down to my goal weight. But today I'm at peace with it all. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and the future is in God's hands. He'll get me through whatever the future brings my way. I simply won't be adding fuel to any trials that I encounter. At least to the best of my ability and by his grace I won't be.
Thank you for reading if you got this far. God bless you. I pray my story is an encouragement.
on 8/15/21 9:18 pm
Thank you so much for sharing this information! God Bless you!
My Hypothyroidism was dx in 2006 but I still gained and gained. In 2015 at 388 I had my surgery. By 2017 I was happy at size 8 or 10 and about 185. I am 5'6". Then covid and I have no idea why yet but I went down to 138 which put me in a size 2 . I also have lymphedema in my whole body. It is not reversible or curable only treatable. There I was so skinny that everyone was accusing me of intentional restrictions and my ankle still didn't fit into skinny jeans. Fast forward to Jan of 2021 I had gotten back up to 155 and the dropped my thyroid replacement now I weigh 225 and I am still gaining. I have taken pramipexole all these years and never even looked at it.
I will now!