Saturday, March 1, 2008

My Story....Why I'm Starting This Blog

I'm a 39-year-old single mom to the most incredible and awesome 7 year old little boy...he is the best thing that has ever happened to me! Yes, I'm smitten with him. :)

I am starting this blog today in order to share the story of my gastric bypass surgery, which took place in July of 2007. I have kept a journal and taken photos throughout the months pre- and post-surgery, and want to share them in case anyone finds the information here helpful. So the first part of my blog is retrospective, as I pulled entries from email and my journal, and then the blog switches to real-time of my ongoing journey.

Me in the summer of 2004 in the pink shirt. Blech. And I gained another 40 to 50 lbs. from this picture before I started pursuing weight loss surgery. The striped shirt picture was taken in December of 2006. I had started the process of preparing for surgery...questionnaires completed, gathering medical history, attended the first of two info sessions, and I had my surgical consult. I'm about 254 lbs. in this picture. Lastly, the black and white picture is about 6 weeks into the Risk Reduction Program in April of 2007. I had lost about 10 lbs. from my highest weight.

I've battled my weight since puberty, which kicked in early for me around age 8. I never thought anything about my weight, or what I ate until one summer when visiting with my grandparents and cousins in Texas. My grandmother cooked the most wonderful, fried southern foods...and all of us kids just gobbled them up. One afternoon as I was sitting down to some homemade French fries with my cousins, one of my boy cousins said "don't eat too much Texas food." I had no idea what he meant or what he was talking about. All of my cousins laughed. Apparently my mother, who was always concerned with weight, had forewarned my grandmother that she didn't want my eating to be uncontrolled. My grandmother took this to mean that if I ate too much and gained weight, my parents wouldn't allow me to visit with them again. All the cousins and rest of the family knew of this preoccupation with my food habits and weight...I was apparently the only oblivious one. In her fear, my grandmother monitored my weight by putting me on her scale every morning to make sure I hadn't gained. And so it self-consciousness about my body, what I ate, etc. Early puberty and the curves that go with it by 5th grade didn't help either. By middle school, I had become anorexic, and into high school I added bulimia to the list. I also became a much more withdrawn and depressed teen...home life was very turbulent for many reasons and I didn't really care all that much for my life.

I graduated high school, worked full-time at a major university in NYC and went to nursing school part-time. I joined Weight Watchers for the first time when I was 19. I did really well and lost 38 lbs. in a healthy way...for the first time in my life. Shortly after becoming a Lifetime Member, the urges to binge started taking over again. And I battled with losing and gaining and losing and gaining. And then a few months after that began, my father passed away from Multiple Sclerosis. I hadn't seen him or spoken to him in 4 years (long story but his much younger wife was threatened by me and was pretty verbally abusive, so I stayed away). I was pretty consumed with guilt and depression. As a result, I ended up hospitalized for my depression and I spent a good bit of time inpatient trying to get my life together. When I was 22, I was out on my own, working, and living with my significant other (we married, and divorced, unable to sustain a relationship because his own addictions were too difficult for him to overcome). By this time, I was 30 and life really started to get better and I started to care about myself again.

I had gained and lost many, many times. Many diets later, I bought Oprah and Bob Green's book "Make the Connection". And I began eating balanced and very healthy meals, and I exercised vigorously every day. I lost 78 lbs over the period of a year or so. For a while, I kept it off. Then, I started dating someone and I fell in love...and all of my urges to binge started to come up again. In the months we waited to close on a house we were buying together, he decided he didn't want a relationship (so he said) anymore. Truth was, he didn't want a relationship with me. I was 4.5 months pregnant with my son when he jumped ship altogether and hooked up with a 17 year old (he later married, had a child with, and divorced...he's actually on his third marriage now--he was married before he and I were together). Anyway...

I had my baby boy and I felt incredibly blessed to have this amazing little human being. I had no family near, but my mom moved up this way shortly after my son was born. And she really became his second parent. I gained weight, tried dating here and there but found my string of guys who decided (so they said) that they really didn't want to date someone with a child...too much responsibility. So I've been romantically alone for most of my son's 6.5 years. I lost and gained weight, and lost and gained many times.

In May 2006, my mother passed away very unexpectedly from a massive pulmonary embolism. It was devastating to both myself and my son. And I ate. And I gained. And the thought of another diet (and the thought of failing at another diet) was simply more than I could bear.

In October 2006, I saw a commercial for the Lap Band. I had considered gastric bypass surgery before but was too afraid of complications and malabsorption issues. I started looking into the Lap Band, got my information packet from the program I was going through, and I felt renewed hope...until I found out that my health insurance wouldn't cover that procedure, but would cover RNY. I had a lot of thinking to do...mostly about my son and how afraid I was that if something happened to me, he would be essentially alone. I came to the realization that I was going to either die from a comorbidity of my obesity or I would die trying to make my life better for myself and for my son...and so I decided to go for RNY.

I completed all of my consults, intakes and tests by January 2007. I was honest about my history and feelings every step of the way. I have continued in my counseling all these many years since I was first diagnosed with an eating disorder at age 12. I haven't had any kind of purging activity at all since my late teens/early 20s. The psych doing my eval felt that I still had too much depression and so wanted me to have a pharmacological consult. I followed through with a wonderful doctor who felt that my chronic insomnia contributed significantly to my depression and as such, getting me quality sleep would help tremendously. We tried various meds, and eventually found one that worked best for me. I began feeling much less weepy and more positive.

I'm now waiting to hear what the clinical team says about my case.

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