As I have been surfing other fitness and food related blogs I noticed that in addition to their “About me” section, pretty much all of them have a deeper story. Of how they decided to start, to lose weight, cook more…or how they changed their life. So, it’s only fair to share my story.
Food has always been a frienemy to me. I love it, but it doesn’t always love me back. It entices me and takes over my logical thinking part of my brain. We didn’t have much when I was young; my mom was a single parent for a few years after her and D* split up. Then she met my Dad. Seriously the most patient, most amazing father a girl could ask for. He spoiled me and loved me unconditionally. Still does. We spent a lot of time together as a family when I was growing up. And it usually revolved around food. However, I was never heavy. I ate what I wanted and learned bad habits young. I was never involved in sports or any other physical activity. So I didn’t learn healthy habits as a child. I became a stress eater. When life is too much to handle…I binge.
Around the time I was 15 I started to realize that my monthly friend was also not so kind to me either. I started missing classes because the cramps were so unbearable. I couldn’t sleep, eat, or even sit up most of the time. After several months of this my parents said I needed to go to the doctor. After talking to the doctor, describing my symptoms I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, and put on an oral birth control pill to stop me from ovulating thereby ending the cysts and pain. And it did for many years.
Also during this time in high school I started to assert myself more where my food was concerned. I stopped eating meat. When I was 16 my Mom found out that she was diabetic and needed to lose weight, and soon. So we started walking around my High school after hours during that winter. I would stay after school and she would come up after dinner to meet me and we would walk, and talk. Sometimes we’d hammer out 4-5 miles in less than an hour. Then I’d go home and push food around on my plate for a few minutes and go to my room. I assume that my parents figured I was eating at school, saving part of my lunch or packing food to eat and never seemed too concerned that dinner was not a big priority. But…
I wasn’t eating at school. I would get a bottle of Dr. Pepper and a bag of Cheetos, or Famous Amos cookies and that is all I would eat all day. I would look in the mirror and not like what I saw. I saw a fat stomach, fat thighs that rubbed together when I walked. Fat, fat, fat. My junior year of high school I went from a healthy 125 pounds to 105, with the help of Mono. Which I blamed entirely for my “dramatic” weigh-loss. As the spring of that year approached and I started to get very thin, I hid my withering body in overalls and spent my lunch-hour and study-halls in the darkroom and in the art studio. I hid from my friends, and got lost in my own silence.
My drawing teacher constantly tried to feed me. Which at the time, was seriously annoying. I thought she was overweight and was trying to fatten me up like her. And I didn’t want to be fat! My Grandmother was overweight and diabetic, my Mom was overweight and diabetic…no. I had control over what went into my body and I was not going to be fat and diabetic. I realize now that she saw what I was doing and was trying to help. She was trying to save me from hurting myself.
Junior year ended and so did the evening walking. I was not athletic, so sports or outdoor exercising did not appeal to me. I no longer had the walking every evening, no longer was exposed to the vending machines. I was home and had my own kitchen to explore. I know that my relationship with food changed that year…and it could have ended a whole lot worse. Whatever fear that I had of getting fat and sick ended as the school year did. Senior year was uneventful…and I went back to my normal eating but never gained any of the weight back. My senior prom dress was a size 2…and slightly loose.
Once in college, my busy schedule left me working a full-time job, a part-time job and a full class load. My part-time job was at a gym. If I was not in class or working…I was on a cardio machine. I got down to close to 100 pounds. I was too busy to eat normally, and frankly didn’t have the money. I lived at home the first 2 years of college and then moved to Mankato and into a dorm. Worst year ever. I was miserable. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t have a job and being painfully shy never put myself out there. The cafeteria food was repulsive so I lived on vanilla coke and hot-pockets. (ew!) By the end of first semester I had gone from 105 to 135. I felt gross and none of my clothes fit. I hated my roommate so at semester time I switched rooms. That did not help things at all. Sweet roommate, just around all the time. At this time I had discovered that I could eat the food in the cafeteria because it was all you could eat. Well, heck! Why am I spending all my money at the grocery store?! And I ate. I ate and slept and went to my favorite class. I had a full load, but Music History: R&B to MTV was the best part of my week. It got me out of bed and smiling. By the end of that year I knew I was not coming back. I left Mankato at 165 pounds and so deeply depressed that I didn’t even know what to do.
I struggled several more times over the next 7 years going up and down. From that 165 to wearing a 14 in girls from The Gap when I worked there; back to 156 last year. Constantly yo-yoing. But 4 years ago those oh so familiar monthly pains were back…
One morning in January I was getting ready to go meet a friend for coffee. I put on my shoes and turned to get my purse and it was as if someone stabbed me in the abdomen. The pain radiated from my belly button to my feet and back. It knocked the wind right out of me. My initial thought was “Get some midol”. It’s a muscle relaxer…that will help. By the time I took the 3 steps to the bathroom my world was going dark. I managed to get the midol and get to the kitchen before I couldn’t see. I sat down on the kitchen floor shaking so hard I splashed all of the water out of my cup. In all my brilliance I decided to drive to urgent care because it was just across the street. When I got there they took my BP and it was low…really low. I explained the situation and they instructed me to go to the ER. I needed an ultra-sound. They wouldn’t let me leave until my BP came back up.
I did manage to make it to the ER, explained what had happened, what the nurse at urgent care said. But all I got was an x-ray and a “you’re constipated…go home”. No pain meds, no ultra-sound. I argued. I demanded an ultrasound but the doctor on call wouldn’t budge. So I went home in pain, and in tears.
Fast forward to one year later. Almost to the day. I awoke in the middle of the night to those same pains. I got up and writhed around on the sofa in pain for 6 hours. I have no idea why I didn’t wake Jeff…I guess I didn’t want to worry him or, disturb him. But I knew that something was wrong. For 2 weeks I put up with that constant pain. My OB later said it is most likely on the same level as labor pains. Yippee. I finally made an appointment. 2 ultrasounds (1 external, and one internal), 4 appointments, one screaming, crying phone call to the doctor later I finally got the news. I had a mass on my left ovary. It was large, the doctor wasn’t quite sure how large, probably orange sized. She referred me to a specialist.
The OB/GYN surgeon that I was referred to was amazing. She listened, she heard me and she believed that I was in pain. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, not PCOS. My doctor told me that is probably what I’d had all along. It explained the pain, and lots of other things. She said I needed surgery. And I was terrified. Seriously terrified. I’d only ever had stitches twice in my life. And one was dental so that doesn’t count. We went over what would happen. There were two possible outcomes. One they would start laparoscopicly and try to remove the mass that way. While
removing burning away the endometrial tissue. Or in the event that they were unable to do that…I would have to be “opened up” from hip to hip. Guess which one I got…
When I awoke in recovery it took me only seconds to realize that I now had a 9 inch scar for the rest of my life. I was in so much pain. And then I heard the worst of it. My official diagnosis is stage IV Endometriosis. I didn’t even know there were stages. The mass ended up being soft-ball sized. And the pain that I was feeling was caused by the mass being so heavy it was twisting my fallopian tube, cutting off the blood supply to the tube and my ovary. I went into the surgery knowing that it was possible that I could lose it if it was too damaged. Luckily they were able to save it. Although both of my tubes are acluded (blocked) and there is so much damage and scar tissue from about 20+ years of endometrial tissue ravaging my insides from my uterus to my bladder to my bowel…I don’t have any more endometriomas (endometrial tissue that has metastasized). All in all they removed half a dozen endometriomas from my abdomen, the largest from my ovary, the others grape to golf-ball sized.
When I went into have the surgery I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. Once the swelling went down, and I could stand up straight…I saw my feet for the first time in over a year. During my recovery I could only stand for a few minutes at a time which meant I lived on cereal and pudding. I got down to 135 by the end of my recovery. And then because my doctor did not want this happening again and I needed additional time to heal, I was given a shot of Depo-Lupron. This shot is the devil. It put me into menopause at 28. Hot flashes, night sweats, terrible mood swings. I totally lost my focus and my mental clarity went right down the tubes. By the time I was given the 2nd round of treatment I had gained nearly 15 pounds. At the end of the 2nd round I had gained another 20.
I was miserable, and scarred. I was fat, and uncomfortable. I was also dealing with the news that I would not be able to conceive on my own. The only thing I ever wanted was to be a Mom. And, sadly my body has betrayed me. After the second round of treatment I decided I’d had enough and went back to an oral BC. I knew that I needed to get some of this weight off, and the Depo- Lupron would not allow me to do that. 6 months of oral BC, and nothing was changing. I was so frustrated.
Thankfully…I was unable to afford the pills at the end of this past December. I took my care into my own hands and stopped taking the pill. 2 years since having that major, life-changing surgery and I am pain-free, hormone free, healthy and getting the body I have always wanted. One that I love and can be proud of. I have made bad health decisions in my life, but the worst one was not advocating for myself that day in the ER. Had that doctor paid attention to my words, and done what I’d asked…she may have been able to prevent a traumatic surgery, 6 weeks of recovery time and a year and a half of being miserable and in pain.
And now…I love my body. I am 30, and I have never been happier. My relationship with food is still rocky; but we are working on it. I know that I will always be a stress eater; but I now have the tools to make responsible choices with my food. I have realized what my passion is, and what I want to be when I grow up. I hope that my journey will one day be an inspiration to others who are struggling and who want to make a change.
March 2013 UPDATE: Very, very excited to announce that there is a little life growing in my belly. To our amazement, after being told it ain’t gonna happen, a year of sad, negative tests there were some positive ones! We are overjoyed to be welcoming a little one this fall!
January 2014 UPDATE: Despite 2 years of hard work I find myself right back where I started.
I am now on a mission to get my pre-baby body back, and fully invest in myself and make this a way of life; not just a means to a smaller size. Follow along with me as I huff, puff, run, lift and eat my way back to a healthy, fit body and mind!