Tuesday, 4 September 2012
I'm in Week #7 of this new healthier lifestyle. I've not dropped any weight this week, but good things are happening nevertheless. I asked last week if people wanted any of the "hows" and I got a few people saying they did.
I have been feeling a bit 'off' of late. My 37th birthday is only a few weeks away, and for the first time ever, I'm feeling a little negative about it. I'd not previously been one to hate the ticking over of the clock. I looked forward to my 30s for years, waiting for that time they say you're more comfortable in your own skin. And in a way, they were right.
But this year, I approach 37 with trepidation. A keen awareness of how quickly time travels. I'm watching my children as they approach 10 and 5 and I'm blown away by how swiftly their childhoods are passing. I have this constant state of urgency, almost panic.
My mother died at 43, only 6 years older than I am now. She had 4 adult children and 5 (at the time) grandchildren. Other than her ALS she was relatively healthy (it seems so bizarre to write that). Her blood pressure was fine, her heart was strong. She had no asthma, no diabetes, no heart disease. She rarely got the flu. She worked hard, running around after beloved 2-3 year olds until she could no longer do so safely.
I'm 36 and I can't say the same. I have diabetes. Not just pre-diabetes. Not just insulin resistance. I'm 11 years into Type 2 diabetes. I'm insulin dependant. I have nerve damage. Eye damage (though we still don't know what caused that), enough to make me give up my drivers' license. I'm morbidly obese and suffer all of the pain that goes with that.
I am mentally unwell. I suffer with depression and anxiety and have been diagnosed with Bipolar 2 (though I have my doubts now about that diagnosis). Despite the fact that I don't drink and I've never smoked a cigarette in my life, I'm hardly an advertisment for good living.
I'm hiding. I can't make eye contact with people anymore. My head is down, my handbag carried across my front, arms around my chest and stomach. Frumpy clothing. Everything about me screams "Stay Away. Don't Look at me".
I have two sons. This is NOT the message I want to pass on to them. I want them to love being out and about. Love exercise. Love a healthy lifestyle.
Months ago, my GP spoke to me about a Weight Loss Surgery. One of the more drastic measures - a gastric sleeve. I had had lap band surgery recommended to me a few years ago, and I dismissed it immediately. Back then, I wasn't nearly ready to think about it. I also wanted very much to have a second child, so I ruled it out on the spot. I'd heard of so many cases when lap bands had failed, so it seemed too big a risk to pursue.
Now though, our family is complete (whether we want it to be or not). I'm many kilograms heavier than I was 7 years ago and my diabetes has been virtually uncontrolled for 4 years now. I've done a long stint on Prednisone which was very damaging to me, both physically and psychologically. I've been housebound. Partly because of my pain and the fact that I can no longer drive. But if I'm honest with myself, a large part is my desperate fear of being looked at. By anyone.
The sleeve not only reduces your stomach to about 15%-25% of its normal size, but it apparently takes away the part that creates Ghrelin, the hormone responsible for appetite and that (I've read) increases our desire for high-calorie foods. I was told by the Doctors that this surgery would effectively cure me of my diabetes overnight. It's hard to look past that. But, it is drastic, expensive and irreversible.
I talked to Joel, and I talked to people who had had the surgery. I spoke to my new GP, I spoke to my Rheumatologist and I spoke to my new psychologist. Everyone felt that given my health, this surgery was the best thing I could do for myself. It was going to cost us several thousands of dollars, and honestly, we just did not have them. So we decided we would apply (we're told we would almost certainly be approved) to access Joel's superannuation. I had an appointment with the surgeon and a plan.
And then the pain stepped up, in a big way. There was clear nerve damage. My left arm and hand became useless. The pain in my shoulder and neck became overwhelming. No drugs worked. We tried increasing Ibuprofen and Mersyndol. We tried Norspan patches - different strengths. We tried Panadeine Forte. I took Glucosamine, a barrage of vitamins in fact. Nothing. I had CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds to investigate.
Severe bursitis. Bone spurs in my neck that were impinging my nerves. My situation was getting worse -the pain was strengthening and my ability to cope with it was plummeting. The GP said he felt that it was going to have to be neck surgery for me.
Suddenly we were at a crossroads. I can only access that Superannuation once. One surgery. We don't have health insurance. We keep talking about it, but it never actually happened. Soon, it became clear that weight loss surgery was not going to happen.
This realisation terrified me. I hadn't realised how much I was sub-consciously pinning my hopes on that surgery. Telling myself my life would really start after the surgery. I'm not one of those women who are comfortable with their fat. My Doctors had told me it was the only way I was going to lose weight. They weren't cruel about it. But they acknowledged that given my history, my chronic, severe pain, my diabetes and insulin resistance (Metabolic Syndrome, I'm told), the chances of me losing the weight myself were almost non-existent.
It was tough to hear that. But I believed it. I wished I had more confidence in myself. More willpower. Or at least more acceptance of my body. There are so many I'm seeing online now, so out and proud of their bodies, no matter the shape. I admire them. But I can't pretend for a moment that I am one of them. My fat makes me hate myself. My fat makes me scared to leave the house. But worst of all, my fat is killing me.
So after recurring dreams about dying, I woke up one morning, a few weeks ago and decided that it was the day for a new start. Right then and there. Starting simply, with portion size.
I decided I had to be extremely honest with myself if this was going to 'take'. This is getting too long now. This is the "Why". Tomorrow, the "how" (so far).
Health|Health - or not.|The New Me|