A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘bariatric surgery’ Category

Frustrations

I was going to add an image here, but after looking through clip art I was so offended and insulted that I decided I would not put a picture in. Google images for obesity and take a look at the insulting and sarcastic images out there.

A two second look was all he gave it. A brief glimpse into the Internet and he declared his ruling. “It is not a reported side effect.” He had gone to the manufacturer’s website and true, it is not listed. I had scoured the internet for information before taking the drug. But here I was, three months after starting this new shot and 16 pounds heavier. He deduced it must be due to my consumption. I looked at him through tears and said, “Do you know how much food I would have to eat to gain that much weight that quickly?” He could not respond. I sat there, tears streaming down my face and said, “You are calling me a liar.”

Here I was again with a follow up visit to the rheumatologist office. At the December visit, I was having such a terrible reaction to the medication, Humira, that they thought I had damaged my heart. I was sent through many tests and had to visit a cardiologist. The results of the tests were my heart was fine and strong. I was taken off the medication and improved immediately. But there was an impact on my kidney function again. Once off the drug, I immediately started to take the few pounds off I had put on.

One month later, in January, I was on a new shot called Stelara. This shot is outrageously expensive and not everyone is approved for it. I was only because there was not much left for me to take. I have taken within the last three years Enbrel, Simponi, Cimzia, Avara, Otezla, and Humira. When I first went on medication thirteen years ago, I was put on methotrexate (MTX) and prednisone. Six months in I was peeing blood. I told my doctors who said it was because I was on Coumadin. I stayed on this drug for a year and a half. My glucose A1C went from 5.6 to 13. My blood pressure went up and I gain thirty pounds.

They took me off the drug and sent me to a specialist because my kidneys were damaged. One kidney seemed to not be working at all. The nephrologist intern said to lose weight. That was the extent of the visit. The damage was there and there was nothing they were going to do. My kidney did get better over time and my output levels improved. I also dropped the weight and then some and lowered my glucose levels too. It never returned to the 5.6 but stayed around 6, which at that time was ok.

Then, I started having kidney stones. I passed and collect over 32 stones. They were big and they were small. Some hurt terribly, others not so much. I never went into the hospital and I probably should have for the last one back in 2015. It was so big that I struggled to pass it. The labs results showed dangerous levels of uric acid in my blood plus other indicators that the kidney was not working. But no one did anything. I even showed the stone to my doctor after I birthed it and he cringed. My kidney labs never went back to normal. But I also have not passed stones because he put me on allopurinol. Kidney issues are now commonly reported now for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and they are beginning to do research on it. But no one has admitted that the medication exacerbated this situation or this correlation.

Here I was again, sitting in a doctor’s office being told to go on Weight Watchers. I have been on WW so many times I know the points for just about everything I eat. Last time on WW, I gained weight. Then the discussion about bariatric surgery came up again. I just gave up and sat there crying. I am so weary of all this. I told him I put on 3.4 pounds from the reading I did yesterday in the morning to checking the scale at night when I got home from work. It went back down the next morning but was about a ½ a pound more from the previous days. I have watched in horror this slow creeping. And yet, I have done everything I can to be careful in my consumption. Nothing changes with me in my diet. I eat the same breakfast and lunch as I have for years. Dinner is always chicken and veggies or salad most week days. I have cut out salty things including my beloved cheese.

On top of the weight, my blood pressure sored to dangerous levels right after the first shot. This is a common side effect of the shot and reported in the material. My kidney output again indicated there was a serious issue. My labs were terrible and the levels indicated were now in stage four CKD. My PCP was so concerned he called me in to the office. Again, he gave me medication for the BP. But again, the weight issue was my fault. After a week on this new BP medication, my once skinny ankles looked like Barney Rubble’s. The BP came down a bit but not enough. I was so puffed out that there were nights by feet hurt. I finally said enough of this and he put me on something else. Too soon to say what will be that outcome.

I will admit I am terribly afraid. The weight issue is such a horrible thing for me. Trying to convince people that I do not eat what they think I do is a never ending battle for me. Both doctors have recommended bariatric surgery and both doctors admit it would be very high risk for me. No one sees my health issues past the fat. I am not a person; I am a morbidly obese non-compliant patient.

I went to the patient portals for people with PsA and Psoriasis. In less than an hour, I had four pages of patient’s quotes who reported large weight gain on Stelara. It’s out there. I am not alone. And the frustration is not mine alone either.

And then I got it. The biggest selling point of Otezla is that people lose weight on it. It is true documented fact that you will lose weight on it. It is from being so sick. Those who lose weight reported diarrhea, nausea and other gastric issues. I was on it for a short time and it made me terribly sick. I could not walk straight. I felt like I was falling over all the time. It was like living with the worse hangover. It did nothing for my PsA or P.

This Stelara is a fairly new drug. It is expensive. It costs over $20,000.00 a shot. That is why most people do not get it as insurance companies do not want to pay that. It IS amazing. My psoriasis is almost gone. My ability to move is much improved. My pain levels have not been this low in years. I am grateful for this. But would people even try it if they knew there was a good probability they would gain weight on it? No, they won’t because being fat in America is the worst thing possibly you can have wrong with you.

I read somewhere that people would rather face debilitating depression and face suicide than take medication that would help, but had the side effect of significant weight gain.

I write this for people who have medical issues that may be similar in hope there is some comfort to know it is not just you. I found over fifty people who are on the same medication as I who took the time to write about it in post on a patient board somewhere. It is a small percentage of users? I do not know but I have to think it is more prevalent than that because not many people use or will write on these patient boards. Does it matter? Yes, because if we do not advocate for better treatment we will become slaves to drug companies selling poison. Doctors need to be aware that not all obesity is caused by consumption. I will probably never in my life be able to prove that. But I am going to try.

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Fighting for my wellness

rolling fog

I am writing this morning for those who suffer with a chronic illness, especially one that is not widely known by lay people and the medical field. Psoriatic Arthritis is a crippling auto-immune disease that unfortunately I have. But that is not what this blog is about. It’s about advocating for yourself and you wellness, whatever the illness is. The fog is very heavy this morning outside and the grey engulfs the house like a wet shroud. It is peaceful but it reminds me of the travels I have had lately with the medical world trying to figure out what was going on with me. It is like traversing through a fog. I hope that someone who needs to know they are not alone will find solace in my words and the strength to fight on.

When I was first afflicted with this disease, no one would believe it was anything more than me being fat. I had very bad pain in my feet, lower back, and sometimes other joints. I played tennis at the time three times a week at a tournament level. It was nothing for a match to go three or more hours. Most times I would not hurt until afterwards, but then I started having back pain before the game. Stretching helped, but not much. My energy level also started to wane and simple tasks around my home would wear me out. After my divorce, the disease bloomed full on. The stress exacerbated everything along with another medical emergency. I can say that I went from occasional pain to constant in very short order. But no one would listen and the medical advice I got was to lose weight.

Funny thing, I did drop almost 35 pounds when I had the medical emergency but the disease still happened. I had recently switched to a new doctor after the one I had almost killed me with not letting me have a medical procedure I needed. Finally, when my hands started to turn into claws, they tested me. No one also correlated the funny rash that was appearing all over my body. It itched and it was everywhere. I went to the dermatologist and even he did not know what it was at the time. They thought hives possibly brought on by the stress of my divorce and move.

A year later, after the tests, the answer was psoriatic arthritis. The rash was a different form of psoriasis that did not present in the normal way of the white crusty patches. I ended up with that much later on in the disease progression. I had to make my doctor look past the weight and see the human. She was great afterwards and when I said this about that, she listened. She actually escalated my visit to the rheumatologist so I could have the help I needed. I have been with him for ten years.

Psoriatic Arthritis was so new (in the scheme of things) that there was little in the way of medicine. I was put on methotrexate (MTX) and prednisone. I felt better but after less than a year in, my sugar readings, my A1C, was 13. I never had high sugar before. I also was peeing blood constantly. I was having labs done but no one said anything until my appointment with my reheumy. He said my kidney crashed. I was then sent on a rotation of seeing specialists. I saw the most egotistical endocrinologist who said lose weight and a nephrologist, who said lose weight and an urologist who found nothing. The tests were pervasive and inconclusive. My reheumy put me on Enbrel. Slowly all my labs returned back to normal. Except my kidney function never was perfect again. My A1c went back to 5.6 and remained there for many years until slowly there was a creeping of it rising.

After year seven, the Enbrel started to fail. I then was put through two years of hell. My PsA started to flare out of control. My P was not so bad but was coming back. The first drug I tried was Simponi. I stuck with that for six months. My A1C kept creeping up and the diarrhea was so prolific, it changed my life. I will not go into much, but I learned to be very empathetic with those who have Crohn’s or IBS. My blood pressure began to be out of control. I told my reheumy I wanted off and he put me on Cimzia. Within the second shot, my glucose readings were 350 to 400. This is the shot that truly wrecked my ability to synthesize sugar. I went off everything for about two months. My BP returned to 127 to 70 and my A1 c went back down to 6.5 -7. Meanwhile, my PsA was not medicated and kept getting worse. I was also beginning to get covered in pustular psoriasis.

I had to let the drugs get out of my system and then we tried Otezla. This was supposed to be magic. It would possibly help me to lose weight. This was the worse of the worse. I felt like I was going to fall over at any minute. Walking was pure torture. It made the pain worse and I bloomed psoriasis like it was spring and I was a fertile field. Next was leflunomide. There was not enough time in between to get the old stuff out of my system before we put something else in. Then in July we tried Humira. I had tried it once before for a very brief time and it did nothing. I was hoping it would work this time.

This fall, after taking two shots a month, I had been on Humira three months. I was a mess. I knew I could not go back to the reheumy for a bit as he was getting frustrated with my inability to tolerate the drugs he was prescribing. This was a mistake on my behalf. I need to fight for a change again. But I was afraid, so I stupidly kept my mouth shut. I started taking potassium for the horrific leg and foot cramps I was having. I had one at work that had me crying in my office. Fortunately, no one saw me. By November, I was taking Advil every morning. I then added another dose at night. It allowed me to walk, but I was the walking dead. I slept an hour at the most, having to get up to pee or because of the pain. This went on for over a month. NO sleep, constant pain, itching so bad and in places no one should suffer with. I was a mess.

I had labs done and my kidney function was horrible. I stopped the potassium. I was not taking that much anyways but my potassium was a little high. My hemoglobin and hematocrit was in the dumper. It had never been so low. I have My Chart and can see my lab results. The graphs showed major increases where I did not want and huge deficits in my blood. My PCP said very little when I went to see him other than I was fat.  He actually said I should have bariatric surgery. I sat in his office in tears and thought, holy crap, I am back to square one.

Fortunately, a week later,  I went to my reheumy who thought differently. I was having mild chest pains, dyspnea, and my systolic BP was very high. He ordered cardiac tests immediately. I had an EKG, and Echo and a nuclear stress test. He said to stop the Humira and no Advil. I spent the holiday weeks in stress, in the hospital having tests and miserable. I had no strength, no energy, I could not walk, and I could not sleep. My skin was covered, my hair and scalp was awful, and I was crying every five minutes.

It is now about a month since my last shot. My skin is clearing. I have some energy and I can sleep much better. The itching was not from the P but from the Humira. I was having a very bad reaction to it. I went back to the PCP and made him pay attention to the blood work. He finally agreed that the issues, the elevated sugar and BP was from the drug, Humira. He said he thought so before, but he did not prescribe it. No, instead you just called me fat. I told him I was pissed but I did look into the bariatric surgery. I asked him if he knew that if you lose a lot of weight, and your skin sags, that they have to do more surgery and it is not covered under insurance. He smiled a sheepish grin and said yes, he knew. I asked if he knew the level of threat of that surgery for someone with a blood clot issue along with an impaired immune system, how prevalent sepsis was? Again, the sheepish grin…. Yes, he knew the risks but felt he had to suggest it. He has no idea how upset I was.

My BP has dropped forty points consistently. I bought BP meter for my home. My glucose is stable but still too high. The tests revealed that my heart muscle is healthy and strong. I told the cardiologist I am built and look like an OX! She laughed.  I had an ultrasound for the kidney and it too is clear. All of this horrific pain and suffering was from my not speaking up and getting off the Humira faster. I usually do a lot of research on each and every drug and vitamin I take. I did not check on Humira because I wanted to not be predisposed to the idea of side effects. This time I should have. There is clear clinical documentation of cardiac issues brought on by Humira. I was heading for a heart attack.

I am feeling so much better as the drug leaves my system. I just saw the PCP again because the blood work was still going down. He was concerned this time. He put me on iron and gave me a  B12 shot.  Finally.

My whole point of writing this long blog is for those who sit back and do not fight for the treatment you need. Everyone is different. I know many people who have issues with Enbrel. I had none for many years. Do not let the system kill you. If you something is not right, speak up to your Dr. They are not mind readers. If you say you feel like crap, explain it well so they can help. One thing I did not mention was I also requested lab work done monthly. I have to go anyways for my INR so I requested they add a CBC and other tests.  That was how I proved that there was a decline in my blood levels and a sharp decrease in kidney function indicating a problem. It was not enough to say I was tired and was peeing every two seconds. My reheumy added his tests and they indicated that my SED and CRP rates were extremely high indicating inflammation. My pain was truly getting worse. When you think about it, on average, a doctor has about twenty minutes to assess how things are (if you have a good doctor). Without your input, they have to go on what they know in general. Help them help you and do not worry about “what are they going to think?” They are going to think you are smart.

 

 

 

 

 

Death sentence

clown 2

Every year since I was very young, this time of year brings some form of bad illness or pain for me. It has been that way since I was 11 years old. I cannot sleep at night. I wake up and I have pain or an issue of some sort  and insomnia becomes the norm. I have written before about this.

I can remember as a young girl getting up in the dark and going downstairs to see the remains of my parents drinking all night. Their favorite glasses would have remains of watered down liquor and the ashtrays would be full. I remember one time when I had something wrong with my shoulder and could not raise my hand above my head. They thought it was bursitis, but I know now it was a Psoriatic Arthritis flare. Back then, they did not even know what Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is. Many medical providers still don’t.

I have been struggling the past two years trying to find the correct drug to manage my PsA symptoms. Currently I am on Humira, which is if nothing else, has not caused a lot of side effects like some of the other medicines I have been on. But it also is not working. My labs show my SED rate and other indicators show high amount of inflammation. I do not need any lab to tell me that. On top of the PsA, I have just plain old psoriasis. I have never had it as bad as some people get it until now.

I want people to understand. Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease that affects 7.5 million people or 3 % of the world. There is no cause and there is no cure. The skin becomes inflamed and the reaction varies from person to person. I had been lucky not to have many lesions. These are crusty little to large patches of bubbled up skin that itches and burns. The Humira is not working on the Psoriasis at all so now I am covered with very itchy skin and scalp. My legs are mess. A component of Psoriasis is Inverse Psoriasis which occurs in very sensitive places. I am also having an issue with Inverse but I will save the details. However, this is what is keeping me up all night. Anyone who has a mosquito bite can tell you how bad an itch in the middle of the night can be. Imagine that it not only itches very badly but burns.

On top of all this mess, I have been having terrible back pain on my left mid side. I know it is my kidney. I have at least three large stones in there the last time they looked, and they are so big they will not pass. When I lay down, they are pressing on my kidney. By an hour after I get up and have some water, I am ok. I wanted to know why now this was happening on top of my labs showing a change in my Creatinine and GFR.

My Doctor is a young Indian who is usually very patient and concerned about me. He subscribes usually to less is more when it comes to medicating. I have been seeing him for about five years. He does not like the fact that my rheumatologist has been changing my medication so much and does not really understand why we cannot find the right drug.

This visit was terrible. He told me that my kidney had not failed. Yes there had been a change in the creatinine but not that significant. (The lab reading was as high as it was when I struggled to pass a huge stone two years ago) He said the GFR was not a reliable indicator. (So why have the test?) My Systolic reading was forty points higher than normal for me but the diastolic was only 73, which is my normal. And he dismissed the back pain. He also told me to stop taking a potassium supplement I was using for the leg cramps.

What he did say was so painful I started to cry. He said I should go get bariatric surgery. In all the years I have seen him, he has never said this. My last doctor said it would be extremely dangerous for me to have the surgery because of my blood clotting issues. Factor V Leiden is an inherited disease and is passed down through families. It has nothing to do with my weight. He seemed short tempered as he spoke, like my visit was a bother.

He said my blood pressure is out of control. That’s not true, it has been steady and normal level for over a year and a half, since they took me off one shot (for PsA) that raised it to dangerous levels. He said my kidney issues are from being overweight. I said I have stones in there and this has not been a problem since May of 2014. He saw the stone I passed then and was amazed. He seemed to totally forget all that. I had to ask him to schedule me for an ultra sound to see what is going on, because this was NOT normal.

There was more he said that was harsh and I sat there with tears streaming down my face.

To me, he has sentenced me to death. I cannot express how much this affects me. I have a reaction to the concept of bariatric surgery that is so visceral it makes me physically ill. You know when something is very dangerous, and your gut tells you…”BE WARE”. That is what happens to me. When I was younger and able to exercise, the thought of going under the knife did not bother me. I wanted the help. But I was told I was not a candidate way back then. In those days, you had to go through hoops to get the surgery. In most cases, insurance did not cover it.

Now I am 62. I have a diagnosed blood condition and a chronic illness. Now they will cut you open if you simply ask. I argued back with the doctor that the long term success rate they are now finding is not great. This surgery is still new medicine. This was when he made a comment about dying sooner from being obese or having a longer life. I asked, “what if I die from the surgery?” His response was I was high risk, but he felt it would be worth it. REALLY????

Many people gain all the weight and then some back. But even if they do not, the other complications are huge. I do not know anyone who has had the surgery personally who said they would do it again. One friend had such terrible anemia, she had to have transfusions. And she is one who gained everything back. We let one employee go because she was out so much. They found another reason to terminate her, but she never recovered well from the surgery. She was not obese. She was plump and did it for cosmetic reasons. We just had one young employee who had two toddlers die a few months ago from the surgery. She became septic. She was 28. I know of someone locally who had a debilitating stroke from the surgery and is still not and never will be the same. One friend had it done two years ago and she has kept the weight off, but she looks 60 to her actual 40 years of age. She was much prettier heavy.

I could go on for hours about this. I have cried every night, and I am fighting them now. My point is that this is what people of size put up with all the time. I went to the doctor because I think I have a kidney stone trapped. The labs indicate it, my pain indicates it, and I needed professional help before it gets worse. My physical abilities are in the crapper right now because I am not properly medicated for the PsA. I can hardly walk some days. The pain level is extreme. My skin is on fire. I am not sleeping because of this. I cannot get into the rheumatologist until January 3rd.  He never has open appointments because rheumatologists are in such short supply. And my PCP is telling me to take a risk with my life and have a surgery that could very possibly kill me. ( and my gut says it will)

I do not think I have ever been as depressed as I am currently. I am not saying that being thinner would not resolve some things. I am not that stupid. I feel trapped in a world lacking of compassion, ignorant and insensitive, which is leaving me to suffer with vacillating issues of either continuing to suffer in pain or commit suicide, which is how I feel about the surgery.

 

 

My mother and Weight Watchers

stone goddesses

I began Weight Watchers in January, 2015. I am strongly letting everyone know that it has nothing to do with being accepted or trying to meet anyone else’s expectations. It is about me getting my Psoriatic Arthritis under control, which it is not. I found out that inflammation changes the hormones and body chemistry making it very difficult to lose weight. In fact, most people gain. And I am like most.

In the last two years, I sat back and watched my weight steadily increase, some of it since last May when I had a horrible incident with a kidney stone that was 6mm big. It threw my chemistry completely off and within a month I had put on 8 pounds. I thought it was fluid, but it kept climbing higher, even after I passed the stone.

I did a lot of research, as I often do when I come up against something. I thought about bariatric surgery and discovered it should be called barbaric surgery. I asked around a lot and found from the mouths of people who had the surgery that it worked at first, but then MANY gained back some, if not all. And then on top of that heartbreak, they all had some form of  new issue such as diarrhea, hair loss, pain, mal-nutrition, anemia and the list went on. This to me was not an option for me because of the other complications with my blood clotting. I scratched it right off the list.

Then I looked into serious weight loss plans. Again, major rebound issues coupled with health problems. One program was good for small weight loss like 20 or so pounds, but very impossible for long term. The diet was 500 calories with multiple supplements. Really? How does that change a life for better?

So I turned back to old Faithful Weight Watchers (WW). This was my third go at it. First time I lost about 30 pounds but rebounded. Last time I gained right off the bat. This time…. well…. First my story. This is triggered by a friend’s blog I read tonight.

My weight issues began when I was very, very young. I do not remember ever not having a weight problem. I was pudgy as baby. I had severe food allergies and then that seem to not be a problem. There is one picture of me around three and I am not fat but I am not thin. I was tall though. A picture of me at five is that of a beach ball. It remains that way the rest of my life. But in truth, there is a picture I found of me standing up and I was around 13 or 14. I was fully developed, taller than any woman in my family and thick. Not fat, not thin. Shapely. I think at that time I was a size 14-16. The same size clothes now would be a 10-12. I had fabulous legs because I rode a bike everywhere and for miles. I walked, skated, swam all the time and danced. I had a bit of a gut compare to others, but I also had a shapely figure. But by then, I learned to hide, so to see a full shot of me was startling. I also realized I was not the beast my family had portrayed.

My mother, sister, aunt and both grandmothers were petite women. No one was over 5’1 and no one was over 120 pounds. In 6th grade, I was 5’5” and 117 pounds and in a DD bra. I was considered an aberration and chastised soundly by everyone. I can remember my aunt telling me to wear a girdle when I was 13.

My mother decided right about then she was going to “fix” me. She put me on this diet of green beans and Jello. I like both, but it was all I was allowed. I bought lunch at school and that was when you did not have choices, just one hot lunch for 25 cents. Our house was filled with candy and cookies. My father made his own root beer. We had store-bought bakery goodies and donuts every Sunday. Dinner was a roast or casserole with white bread, whole milk, fresh butter, and some dessert.  Crème sauces were big and on everything like fish, potatoes, veggies and meat. Veggies were lima beans, corn, peas and potatoes. I did not have a tossed salad until I was 16. Fruit was rare and often a “salad” was a canned pear on a leaf of lettuce with a glob of mayo and a maraschino cherry. Very chic! Very 50’s.

So her solution to my EATING problem was making me eat beans and Jello for a while. Now mind you, when I was younger, if you did not eat your dinner, you were severely punished. As children, we did not eat with the adults until we were older. On holidays we were allowed at the dinner table, but no talking and no messing around. Just eat and shut up.  I learned very early to eat everything. I was the kind of child who hated being scolded in any manner. Still don’t like it.

My mother could out eat us all. Her metabolism was not given to me. My siblings could eat and remained thin until much later in life. Not me. I ate what was on my plate. Rewards were foods like a special Dunkin donut covered in frosting. Birthday meals were fried chicken or lasagna. Candy lurked everywhere, dishes and bowls of the stuff. Fortunately for me, I am not a big fan of most hard candy, but in a pinch. My mother and father had buckets of Fanny Farmers’ assorted chocolates. There was always a full cookie jar on the counter in the kitchen.  Cheap soda was in the refrigerator and the famous root beer was shared on special occasions. Even alcohol was allowed early in life and on special occasions. I learned to love Cherry brandy by the time I was eight

The part as an adult that I have had to work on so very hard is to get my mother’s critical voice and disapproving looks out of my head. She would skew her face up and would look at me with such distain sometimes that it would hurt me to the core. Food was the enemy she deemed and would go on rampages to humiliate me or shame me into “doing something about my weight.”

Dinner often turned into a battlefield, especially if they had been drinking, which….. they did every night. Some nights, it was a race to be done eating to get away before something happened. Common tortures were a heavy knife handle to the elbow for having it on the table. We had these ball shaped salt shakers which my father would swipe up and pelt at you for some perceived misdoing. As time went on, and my siblings left to go to college or their own lives, I was the featured target. My father would take his dinner plate and fling it at the back of your head like a Frisbee. If he was really out of it, he would fling whatever he could reach.

But I always ate my dinner with my head down and quiet until I was around 15. Then I began to cook for myself and eat privately when I could. My parents often never got to dinner or it would be ten o’clock or so. They were so smashed it didn’t matter. My father munched on cheese and crackers and Mom smoked. But by this point in my life, my food issues were tightly engrained and my body was never going to be petite. NEVER. I ended up at 5’ 6’ inches with size 8 feet. (Mom’s were a size 5) My hip bones (pelvic area) were a good five inches wider than hers, and at her  4’9 inches, I towered over her.

But her voice never left me. is I will always see her dark hair framing her disapproving looks.

Fast forward to now, the present moment… well we will back up first. When I started working at my job there was this woman who I saw for the first time from the back and my heart skipped a beat. I swore it was my Mom.  Something about the way she held herself.  This woman and I do not get along. She is critical of everything and everyone. She has a frown on her face most of the time. She especially does not like me. I am in the position she held for ten years as head of Education. She is a nurse, I am not. This is my failing and she and a few others let me know at every opportunity they do not approve of me. It was very hard for me to get passed her and ignore her and her cryptic comments and her LOOK.

Now, present moment. What does any of this have to do with Weight Watchers? I was doing WW on line since January. But they offered a deal at work and were going to have meetings there. So I signed up and arrived early to the first meeting last week.  Who do you think walks in to join? Mind you, if she has ten pounds to lose, it is a lot. So there I am and all the old guilt, resentment, and uglies surfaced. I could barely speak in the meeting. We had to share why we were there and I wanted to stand up and scream because my mother was a mean bitch and so are you….(looking at this woman). But in a shaky voice I mumbled about being a big beautiful woman and that I was here to get healthier. I went home so upset I thought I should quit.

But I did not. Instead, I challenged her. She has four other participants and we have our own team from HR/ED. We will win. This week our team all had significant weight loss. I am doing really well, after a couple of stalls. This will happen and then I lose a few more. Right now I have lost 5% of my total body weight from where I started. It’s all numbers. I am still big. I am also still in pain. But I have not had a shot in two months. It will be interesting to see what happens once I get a shot and calm the inflammation. Right now I can barely walk so I am not exercising. But that will become necessary soon.

The team that loses the most total poundage gets a lunch provided by the other team. I will enjoy watching her serve me……hahahah. I keep holding on to that.

 

 

 

What if we had a Fattie Ghetto?

I read something earlier today in the paper which has stuck in my craw all day, festering and making me more and more angry. This was an editorial in the A section. I believe in the right to speak your mind. But when something gets published in the local paper, you better have your facts. This woman clearly did not and was out to make her stand no matter what. I got to tell you, if she was in front of me, I would have hit her. (Not really, I do not hit people) but she would have made the running for the first.

Seems she is proposing legislation to sanction overweight people. She wanted to propose a bill or mandate that people who were morbidity obese HAVE to do something about it. I am sure she is proposing surgery. Maybe she would like people to sew their mouths shut, which is pretty close to having your stomach stitched off. She said anyone who is obese would be sanctioned as well, but she did not reiterate how. She had no statistics, but spouted off like she was an authority on the cost of medical expenses incurred by fatties. (my word…because I am really getting cranked up now) She then went on to liken this legislation to be imposed and regulated the same way that cigarette smokers were sanctioned.

Here is how I see her thinking this would work: Every time a fat person wanted to buy food, they would have to step on a scale. And according to whatever weight they were, they would pay a higher percentage for their purchase. Chicken taco for a skinny mini: $3.59. For a fattie, 35.49. with taxes. Seems fair right? I mean, why should we pay for the extra health cost because this person wants to eat? Right? I mean after all, they are so fat they don’t need to eat.

GRRRRRRR….this is akin to a Nazi state. All the fatties will have to reside in a fat ghetto where they only get water and low fat Weight Watcher’s bread.

When my husband and I first met, I weighed less. We were so poor. We were going to college, working two shit jobs each and trying to keep the mortgage. That was my primary bill. That and the ten year old cars we had. When I went grocery shopping, I spent what I could. We were also feeding his 14 year old daughter who could pack it away. What do you think I bought? I bought the cheapest thing that went the farthest; pasta and sauce with cheap meat. We ate it all the time. I have discovered now for me it is the worse trigger food I have. That and white breads, which was another staple. The result of course was we put on weight.

We went shopping this weekend as I wrote earlier. We filled ¾ of the shopping cart with fruits and vegetables. The rest was a 6 pound only white meat turkey breast for $18.00, low fat ground chicken, and low fat other products like broth and some low fat cheese. No crap at all in the cart. Our bill for two people was over $200.00. We can afford that now, but that was more than I spent in a month back in the day.

When I was teaching in an urban college, I remember the mothers telling me how much they hated shopping for food for the kids. It was cheaper to get a happy meal and be done with it than shop for good healthy products. And on top of that, they were going to school and working jobs. When were they supposed to fix these fancy healthy meals?

To that point, I spent the whole weekend cooking. I made Weigh Watcher’s 1 point vegetable soup. I made buckets of the stuff. I made the turkey breast. We had haddock on Friday. $13.99 a pound. One piece of fish spilt between the two of us was almost $15.00. We bought what fruit was available. All of it was ridiculously priced because it has to be shipped in. I just cut it up to have it finger ready. I made low fat burgers for dinner on Sat and the rest will be for the week. The ground chicken was $4.49 for the package. The package is only 12 ounces, so it cost more than $5.00 a pound. Tricky aren’t they? My weekend off was spent on this effort to eat healthy. In between was spent doing wash and cleaning. Such fun!

My point is this. Here I am working so hard at this healthy life style. This B* tch has the balls to throw out there that all fat people should be penalized for being fat because the impact on the cost of medical issues. I am not going to deny that there is a high prevalence of more disease with obesity. However, not all fat people sit on their ass all day watching TV and stuffing their faces with beer and tacos. Some do. I know this. But not all.

When we were driving around this weekend, I was paying special attention to what food joints we passed. I was shocked and thought no wonder this is an epidemic. Every corner had a fast food joint from burgers to fried chicken. There were tons of pizza palaces and taco stands. There were ice cream and yogurt shops, donuts and on one street, two bake shops and a chocolate store. I did not see one salad joint although I know they exist.

And as far as medical costs: here is something to think about. I worked in the system so I know of what I speak. All people diagnosed with mental retardation or developed disabled have the opportunity to have the State and Federal government pay for everything for them from their diagnosis at infancy to death. They can get housing, food, medical treatment and in some cases full ride to school. Most do not get a degree, but the State believes they have the right to a higher education. And they cost the school systems huge dollars because they need so many services and support. And part of their genetic makeup makes them very susceptible to illness. It was rare to have someone who was MRDD live past 30. We used to institutionalize them to keep society safe. We warehoused them in droves. Then Geraldo Rivera went to Willowbrook in 1987 (not that long ago) and the rest is history. My point is that this is a population that cost taxpayers millions and millions. Lots of dollars have been spent to understand their genetic makeup in order to help them have a better life. 28 years ago people who were MRDD were cast out and ridiculed for a genetic hiccup. Maybe we should have taxed the parents for having mentally challenged children and putting a burden on society. What do you think? (By the way, if you agree with this, stop reading, I cannot help you and you should be ashamed)

See, I am sure people do not see the connection. For some reason we cannot move past that not all overweight people have a terrible lifestyle. People cannot and for some reason will not accept that because their bodies fight them constantly either with metabolism and/or some form of mobility issue some people are prone to putting on weight. I believe there is a genetic connection. If it was all up to what goes in the mouth or how much movement people do, than why are not all people fat? Some people can eat a house of food and not gain weight. Add to this fact that everything slows down as we age including our ability to process sugar. That’s why everyone is getting diabetes for their 50th birthday. Want to guess the cost of diabetic medical costs? Maybe we should put them in the fat ghetto too as they probably overweight anyways or so they say. I hope my skinny super hyper active friend who was diagnosed at 55 with diabetes reads this. She will love it!

And we have such limited choices if you want to purchase prepared foods that are healthy. Much easier to pop a big Mac and call it good. If you scrape the secret sauce off, it will save you 400 calories….. I am joking. I have not eaten McDonald in 30 years.

I cannot and will not stop fighting for this awareness until I fall on my face and suffocate myself in my largeness. That last part, by the way….was sarcasm.

Not giving up

This blog post took me several times to start it. There has been a lot going on in my head. I have not shared all of it, but I think it is time. I am scared shitless of dying. Every day I wake up and wonder if this is the day. This started about two years ago when I was beginning to face turning 59. My Mom died at that age. She got sick when she was 58 and within six months, she was gone. She had lung cancer. So as I approached that age, it started nagging at me. Then I turned 59 and woke up still alive. Then I was facing 60. And that was horrible. I do not know why, but this has been an awful time for me.

I stopped a lot of the introspective work I was doing because it was actually making things worse. Ever twinge, every muscle cramp signaled to me that my body was failing. I have NEVER been connected to my body. And the result is why I am so overweight. I never felt fat until recently. And the realization of my body mass coupled with my progress towards old age has plummeted me into an abyss. I admit it. I have been more depressed than ever…. And truthfully, I hate being depressed.

So what is feeding this? Well, on top of my Mom’s early demise, my father died at 71. That is only 10 years more for me. I also have a weird habit. On Sundays, I look at the obits. I think it is my duty to read the last thing people have said about them. It may only be their only tribute too. You never read “John Smith was an a-hole who beat his wife.” I started the habit in my 20’s. When I got divorced, it upset me so much that I would die and not be the loving wife of someone. Sad, I know…but I am confessing here. Now I read the obits and often I am older than the deceased.

I get very upset when we visit Joe’s parents. They do nothing but watch TV and fight. He is 94 and she is 90 and has dementia. It is terrible to see such vibrant souls trapped in their own hell. This is what the future is? I see all the geriatric patients housed in our affiliate nursing facilities and think: What -ho….what a grand life….NOT! I have taken Hospice training and although I think Hospice is wonderful, it has added to my unnerving.

I decided that maybe taking a look at losing weight might add to my longevity. I struggle so much with this because I LOVE food. I love to cook and love baking even more. I also confess that this last year I ate like crap and I gained weight. I knew better. But nothing is going to change unless I take the reins. So what did I do? I met up with that jerk of a counselor who wanted me to get bariatric surgery without even talking to me. She added to my angst so much. I wrote about it but I do not think I went into the level of how much she really upset me. This weekend, I pursued another avenue. I signed up for the program called NYFatLoss.com. The website again sounded fabulous. They balance your hormones, your body makeup and balance your intake and so forth. Sounded perfect, but the website was extremely vague with any details such as cost. My BBF sent me a link to a user’s blog and what an eye opener. The cost was over a thousand dollars to several thousands. It is a 500 calorie diet for forty days. And when that is up, you ante up again. The promise is 35 pounds in 40 days. Of course, if you are eating 500 calories, you are on the Auschwitz diet and you WILL lose. I told my husband you get a choice of two veggies, two fruits and two servings of meat. He thought it was for one meal. That’s it for the day and only certain fruits and meat. You will lose, but when you go back to eating normal you will be right back again and probably worse off because your set point will be so screwed up. You have to pound several vitamins and their supplements which include products that raise your blood pressure and will thin your blood. Not a good combination for someone on Coumadin for a hereditary complication. Again, I hit the wall.

Today in my class I teach, I had two students who both have had bariatric surgery. One was heavy and the other one was thin. They both were eating fast food. They shared that they both have gained weight back. One of them confessed she gained all her weight back and then some. Both said they had complications including being very sick. The thinner girl said she still gets sick. As I walked past her and eyeballed her mayonnaise covered sub with the bag of nachos and sweet tea. I said, “I would get sick too.” I served her a heaping helping of shame with her lunch. I felt terrible and I did not get a chance to apologize. I spoke the truth. I do not eat fast food hardly ever because it does make me sick. Some things that are prepared commercially really get me. McDonald is death and I have not eaten it since 1986. I do not eat red meat either since 1986….well the list is quite long of what I do not eat.

I am so sick of all this. The depression, the frustration, the anger and mostly the additional self-loathing I seem to be heaping on myself. I secretly started planning this weekend to make some changes. I spent much of my time cooking. And I am cooking things for my health. If I have the right things in the house, I will eat them. I eat “bad” things when I am bored. After my disappointment with NYFATLOSS, (what a hose job) I had a choice. I could give up and just continue being this way, or do something. If you know me, option one is not a choice.

So I joined Weight Watchers. All I am going to say about it for now. I am doing this for me because no one else’s opinion matters. If I am successful and take off some weight, wonderful. I am determined. If I don’t, I will start again. I had to get up a walk away from my computer after I typed this. This has been an dreadful or dread-filled time for me and I am worn down to a nub of humiliation covered in fear.

I am stopping for tonight. I have a lot more to share on this topic. Not about swapping recipes for losing weight, but on the humiliation, shame and condemnation people cast on others. I know I have mounted a beaten old nag of a white horse. But I think this is important because body image issues are not about just weight at all. But for now, I am tired.

Bariatric Surgery or BS

I had an interesting experience today and I feel right now, not very pleasant. I am going to share it and I will admit right up front, it is taking a lot balls for me to talk about this. I really want people to comment on what I am about to share. I think the opinions will vary and I am asking for honest feedback. I know I am opening myself to a lot of criticism.
So let me explain. I had a horrible day about three weeks ago. I was so upset and scared and I could not stop crying. Silly thing now, as I have no idea why. Just one of those phases I think. But I got on line and started poking around for support groups. I think at least that was what I was looking for. I love to spend hours on Google searching things out. I start with one thing and go off on a completely different direction. I used to sit and read my home version encyclopedia. I think it is why I am such a master of inane information…
I found this website for a therapist who specializes in people with PTSD, trauma issues, eating disorders, family counseling, anxiety and other problems. She offers help with life balance. I thought humdang! Digging in further into her site she talks about mindful eating and body acceptance. I was so thrilled I sent off an email asking for a session. And much as I think that cognitive based therapy can be dangerous with the wrong therapist, I was willing to try again.
I get there five minute before my appointment. I wait in the waiting area for about 2 minutes. I can hear her talking to someone. I thought, ok she is on the phone, so I knocked to signal I was there. She did not answer. I waited again five more minutes and knocked again. She said she would be right out. Ok. She was with someone so I had no problem. Then she gets me, I sit down and her phone went off. She answered it and left me and went to the waiting room to talk for another ten minutes. It is now a half hour into my appointment time of an hour.
She finally comes in and starts to fire off questions. Of course, she is taking a history which I had expected. Some of her questions were weird and some were pretty probing. But I answered honestly. I think it sort of shocked her. We swing around to talk about my weight issue. I am very uncomfortable talking to anyone about my weight, but hey, that was one of the reasons I was there. However, she went right into something I was not expecting.
She went on the charge of why I should have bariatric surgery. I felt myself flush and I had to hold my anger in. This is the second time a Doctor (she is a PhD doctor) has done this. She knows nothing about me except a brief ten minute interview. I started to explain that my medical issues with Factor V Leiden and Psoriatic Arthritis do not make me a candidate. Matter of fact my two GPs have said not it is not a good idea. She did not know what Factor V Leinden is. My bet is she does not understand that PsA is an autoimmune disease and not osteoarthritis.
She starts to tell me all sorts of things about how when you have the surgery your metabolic rate changes. It is different than dieting because you are not restricting food so that the body goes into shut down and hordes calories. I just shook my head. How is it not restricting calories. It most certainly is because you cannot eat a lot of food without getting violently sick. Talk about Pavlovian training. Eat too much and you will get sick. I did my homework on bariatric surgery along with having several friends who did it. They change the capacity of the stomach by constricting it with a band, stapling it or suturing it or totally by-passing it so food goes right in to the small intestine. Oh my good gracious. How does anyone not see this  to be mutilation of some form? I understand that it has helped many people to lose weight when they could not any other way and that is fine for them. But I told her, not for me. I did not come to her because I was desperate to lose weight. Matter of fact, I was more at peace with myself and my body before I went into all this self-evaluation and discovery. It was peace I was looking for and self-acceptance. I would still be troubled if I was a size 3.
She went on to say how she had the surgery and lost all this weight and so forth and so on. She said I will never lose weight, even forty pounds. I was totally turned off. I became a bit brittle and she felt it. When she asked me why I was pulling away, I said I was not interested in bariatric surgery in any manner. She said she would send me some literature. I said fine. We finished our session with a few other things. She set up another appointment, which I am not sure if I will do.
There is a ton of information out there on these barbaric…oops I mean bariatric processes. They all say the same thing. I understand how losing weight can be life-saving. But I also read about the mortality rate and the long term prognosis of it. There are malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies for sure. Hair loss, anemia, major poop and intestinal issues, blood clots, infections and other ramifications are all in the literature down at the bottom. All say the crappiest statement ever invented about how the cure/medicine comes with issues which the doctor or whomever deems worth the risk…. I paraphrased but it is on most medicines and other medical documentation. I want to change it to … “You feeling lucky?”
So again, in search of trying to better myself, I walked away feeling like a failure and disgrace. I am angry. OHHHHHH am I angry. Why is it we can do all this medical research on obesity and yet not find a cure other than mutilation of the digestive system? I read recently a medical journal article that there may be some connection in a T cell formation that maybe linked to obesity. That same rotten cell also has a lot to do with cancer and can you guess…Psoriatic Arthritis or autoimmune disease. Why can they not figure out that what you put into your mouth couple with the output of energy does not always equate with body mass. Yes, for some it is about what they consume. But if it were totally up to that, then everyone who eats McDonalds would be huge. But they aren’t. Only a select group of people consume food quantities which have an impact on their weight. Try explaining that to some doctors….they will laugh at you. If you are obese, you eat too much. Period! BULLSHIT. I am not going to go into a full rant on this right now.
Although I have a ton more to say on this topic, I am getting very upset. I need to go to bed and I am all cranked. If it were up to me, I would wave a magic wand and make everyone in the whole world obese so they can see that is only a body. We attach so much to image that it makes me crazy. Would we stitch a lung closed so smokers won’t crave cigarettes. Would we suture alcoholics mouths closed so they won’t drink? Would we give women with PMS a frontal lobotomy for depression…..which, by the way IS what they used to do to women and not too long ago. Think of that. I guarantee that someday in the future, they will look back at bariatric surgery as pathetically as primitive brain surgery. Hey, we finally figure out putting mercury in our teeth was pretty stupid.
Tell me what you think.