Okay, so my story is probably the same as thousands of other people. I was a chubby baby, a chubby toddler and chubby child. At age 7 my family moved and the isolation drove me to eat a lot more - add that to the fact that I had very little activity (my neighborhood had NO playgrounds for a start) and you get a FAT child. I started grade 3 as "The Fat Kid."
Of course I didn't need my new school mates to tell me I was fat, I was already hearing that at home. My brother and sister (both older) teased and tormented me on a daily basis. The term "moinker" was made up especially for me. It was made up of the combination of sounds that cows and pigs make (moo & oink.) Creative huh? Obviously they were not very sensitive. To make matters more frustrating, they were naturally skinny. I don't mean normal sized either - SKINNY TOOTHPICKS! They ate more than I ever did but they had golden metabolisms. Talk about unfair!
My parents never really did much to stop the torment either. In fact from time-to-time, my father would say things like, "Debbie, should you really be eating that? Eat some carrots instead." Or he would suggest that I skip dessert or potatoes or bread... My mother without officially telling me that I was "on a diet" tried to control the food I ate. She would pack my lunches with celery and carrots (no cookies or treats), no butter on my sandwiches or cheese, and she would keep skim milk in the fridge just for me. I may have been 7 but I knew I was dieting. I can even remember my mother putting my sister in charge of my snacks after school. My sister and brother would eat ice cream and waffles and my sister would give me one carrot and a glass of water. Fun city!
When Christmas rolled around that year, I got my first gift in the very LONG list of exercise gifts: a Barbie Allen Dancercise Record. Woo-hoo! I was 7 - I was not impressed - I cried that even Santa thought I was fat.
Slowly though, by grade 5 (age 10) I started to slim down a bit. But then I had started to mature early so my hormones started to give me hips and boobs while the kids in my class were still bean poles. I was the only girl in my school in 1983 to wear a real bra at age in 10. I continued on the diet and exercise path like a demon but I never ever did get tiny.
By high school, I was around 130 pounds. Not too bad for a 5'3" woman but a little large in comparison to other 14 year olds. By this time, I had already started to abuse laxatives on occasion to get rid of food that I felt guilty about eating. And then, after a very rough time with depression and a suicide attempt, I gained about 25 pounds.
Now I was 15 and my sister's wedding was coming up. My mother suggested that I lose weight to look "pretty." I didn't mind the suggestion since she paid the money to get me the "Richard Simmons Deal-A-Meal" program. I lost about 35 pounds. I was also working out with Jane Fonda and extra aerobics for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours a day. I looked good. I wanted to get skinnier but on the evening of my sisters wedding (after the reception) I was in a car accident that landed me in a wheel chair for about a month and a half. I gained back 10 pounds.
I managed to stay at the same weight until just after high school and then I gained another 10 pounds. Add a couple of years of college and working at an office and oops! I'm up to 160. So then I tried to diet some more but this time, nothing worked. Now I had only been using laxatives and vomiting on rare occasions but I was desperate to lose more weight so I started doing it all the time for EVERY meal. I became really obsessed with it. I lost about 20 pounds quickly but I didn't feel very good. Plus, I had raised the suspicions of my friends and family and with their encouragement (more like threats) I saw some doctors to try to stop. (I am proud to say that I haven't "purged" in any way since 1996!)
Enter more weight... more attempts of weight loss and the year 2001.
I saw my weight in 2001 go from 180 to 220. I nearly fainted. I found a new diet one night on a late-night television infomercial. It was "The Six Week Body Makeover." I was ready for it! I ordered it and once I got it, I stuck to it faithfully. I lost 45 pounds in six weeks. Awesome! Since it was close to Christmas, I decided to take a break and then get back on it in the new year. That never really happened. Work stress and whatnot made it impossible to make the food that I need to diet and so I just went on a diet hiatus. I did manage to keep my weight stable without any effort though... until...
I had a complete nervous breakdown in July of 2002. I was burned out from work, had zero self-esteem and could not seem to do even the simplest tasks correctly anymore. I fell into a very bad depression and was extremely suicidal. Doctors made me quit work and started me on drugs and therapy. Rapidly, I began to gain weight. ALOT of weight. From July to September I gained 15 pounds. Then my shrink wanted me to add something that made me gain 35 pounds in 5 weeks. Fun! In the year to come, I gained another 15 pounds. Then in 2004, my shrink made me try another drug that put on another 25 pounds in 4 weeks. ARGH!!!! Only stopping the offending prescriptions made me stop gaining weight. However, stopping them did not help me lose any. This whole time, I was really freaking out about my weight. It was not helping me recover completely from my depression. My doctors kept telling me to go easy on myself and not worry about the weight gain. That once we got my mental state back to a more normal level, we could worry about the weight. Yeah, right!
In the meantime, I saw a new specialist because I had developed Fibromyalgia. This doctor was so hell-bent on me losing weight. It was all he would discuss. I tried to tell him what my family doctor and psychiatrist said about my weight but he didn't care. He said that I should have a gastric bypass. At this point in 2004, I was not ready for that. I could lose the weight on my own. I was sure of it.
I tried the "Six Week" diet again but I only lost my patience after 3 weeks and a 2 pound loss. Slowly I gained that back and another 5 pounds. Then I tried another home-made diet - it was a bust. In August 2006, I tried Jenny Craig. In the first two weeks, I lost 13 pounds but then in the next 13 WEEKS I lost ZERO pounds. So I quit that (gained back 8 pounds) and then tried Dr. Bernstein's Diet. Again, I lost weight in the first two weeks but then... nada. That diet was so agonizing and the clinic promised that I would lose anywhere from 16 to 20 pounds a month. Where was the weight loss? It was so disappointing.
Now it is 2007 and I am at an all time high of 278 pounds. Needless to say, I am still very depressed and I still am on medication and out of work. I have the most supportive husband in the world. He loves me so much and always tells me how beautiful and special I am. I don't feel very beautiful or special these days. I have accepted the fact that I need some outside help to get my weight under control and get my life back.
Unfortunately, living in Canada we are at the mercy of a socialist health-care system. It is not to say that I cannot get weight-loss surgery - I can. It is a matter of WHEN I can get weight loss surgery. The process works like this:
- see your doctor and get a referral to a weight control program
- wait for the program to call you for a two-day information seminar (this can take months or even a year)
- work with the nurses and dieticians in the program to see if you can make weight loss work without surgery
- make an appointment with a surgeon (this can take another several months)
- get the surgeon to approve you and schedule you (this can take YEARS)
Even if I get into the program relatively soon (I still haven't heard from them and it has been over a month) and wait to get in to the seminar, I will have to wait at least 1 year before a surgery date. The wait lists for bariatric surgery in Canada are HUGE! There are many, MANY people who have been waiting as long as 4 years. I am 34 years old, I have spent the last 5 years trying to pick up the pieces. I feel my life has been on hold for too long already.
I have been told that you can get the government to pay for your surgery provided that you get prior written approval for it. I doubt I will get that approval since I haven't been given an official wait time for surgery.
So, what do I do? Well, my husband and I decided that we just ante up the money and pay for it ourselves. I am liquidating some of my retirement funds for this but we look at it this way - if I die of a heart-attack or something else weight related, I am not going to be able to use my retirement funds ANYWAY.
I have reviewed a few American clinics and I have decided on the Weight Loss Institute of Arizona. My first appointment is June 27th. We are aiming to have my surgery in early September.
I know this is not a quick fix. I know this is a HUGE life-change. I want this change. I NEED this change and I'm ready for it!