Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Beginning

Well this is the beginning of my story. I tend to ramble sometimes so please be patient lol.
I grew up in Windsor, Ontario with my parents and my younger sister, Andrea. I had a good childhood if somewhat sheltered. I was brought up in a Christian home and was one of the few kids who had parents who were still together.

I was never overweight as a kid. I was very active and participated in sports. I had an athletic type body. I do remember however that body image issues started when I was about 12-13 years old, I think I was in grade 7. Boys started to notice my body. Most boys that age start to notice girls more I think lol. I didn't know how to react to it all and then one day I was told that all the boys in grade 7 and 8 had voted me as having the nicest butt. Most girls would be proud of that and I was in a way but I was also mortified! From that day on I tried to wear shirts that were long enough to cover my butt. In grade 8 I started to develop a bit faster than some of the other girls. Meaning, I got myself some curves. Well, I got more attention from the boys but I remember one boy telling me my butt had gotten bigger. I was actually a normal size but that comment stayed with me. When I was 15 there was a boy I liked and he liked me also. One day he decided to blurt out that I could stand to lose 10lbs! I was crushed, even more so that he dumped me, who weighed about 120 pounds then for a girl who was maybe 200lbs!!

It's bad enough to be told you are overweight by kids your own age but even worse to hear it from teachers. By grade 10 I was 5'4" and weighed 150lbs. I did not look fat, I think my thighs looked a bit chunky but I know I was NOT fat. I had this gym teacher who was in love with herself. She really thought she was the best thing since sliced bread, apparently so did the boys' gym teacher who was having an affair with her. Well, one day she decides to get all the girls on a scale. Most of the girls were scrawny, no muscle to them at all. I was not only into sports but by that time I had been regularly working out with weights. I had muscle. So, I get on that scale and this teacher tells me I am fat. I was so embarassed!! Some of the other girls were merciless after that, taunting me and whispering and laughing at me. I began to hate school, largely because of one teacher's ignorant comment.

Although these comments were damaging and caused me to have a low self-esteem I still was not fat. At most I was 10-15 lbs overweight. Then, I met a guy. I won't go into the whole long sordid story but he ended up being my husband. Anyways, I was in love and weight dropped off me. The weird thing is...I looked in the mirror and saw a fat girl. No matter how good I looked, how much weight I lost, I saw a huge person standing there. Up until the day before my wedding my dress had to keep being taken in at the waist but I felt fat. I would binge on food then take laxatives to try to get rid of it. I tried to make myself throw up but I never had a strong gag reflex. I was getting dizzy and weak from not eating. Then I'd go crazy eating as much as I could for days.

I love food, I really really do. I'm a taurus and I read once that the taste of good food going down a tauruses throat is one of those almost out of body experiences that can't be described. I agree! I get such a high from food! I will eat and eat until I feel I will burst but the good feelings it gives me makes it soooo worth it.

Yes I am now going to tell you about my weight gain, how I got to this point. As a kid my hungarian mother was an awesome cook which is probably why I have such a love affair with food, but she also would not allow a lot of snacking. She believed we needed to be well fed but not overfed and we were always told if we ate bad we'd get fat.

Well, I got married a month after I turned 20. It suddenly hit me that I could eat as much as I wanted whenever I wanted. I had nobody to control my eating. I hid it quite well for the first month when I'd go get myself munchies. Then, a month or so after getting married (and already gaining 5-10 lbs) I got pregnant. Yippee! Now I had an excuse to eat all I wanted!! Of course my husband didn't know that "eating for two" is an old wives tale and I wonder if he realized I was eating more for an army than for two. I developed cravings and HAD to have a Harvey's cheeseburger every night. I also had my hubby go pick me up a ton of junk food from the variety store near us every night as well as a very occasional banana split. I craved junk food like mad when I was pregnant with my son.

After having my son I lost most of the weight but was probably still 15 lbs overweight. I had gained 46 lbs while pregnant. My junk food diet did not stop after he was born however.
Skip forward two years and I had gained about 25 pounds from my junk food diet then I got pregnant again. I felt relieved, I could hide my weight gain behind my pregnancy. After my daughter's birth I was disgusted with how I looked and went to Weight Watchers. I managed to lose 40 pounds and did really well. I was within 20 pounds of my goal when I hit a plateau that would not budge. My marriage was going well with my new weight loss but there were money problems that stressed me out. My son was in the terrible twos and I had a baby to take care of as well as running myself ragged chasing my son. My stress was always only relieved in one way...FOOD.

I started to cheat on my Weight Watchers diet. Then I found myself skipping getting weighed on the weeks I know I gained instead of lost. Eventually I stopped going and kept eating.
Early spring of 1995 I was pretty big and my marriage was crumbling. My husband had been abusive on and off over the years but it started to become more of a regular thing. He was verbally abusive more than physically at that point but soon he would be both most of the time. I got pregnant with my third child and shortly after my husband was telling me he wanted out of our marriage. He had friends who were making the single life look promising and fun. I started to suspect he was cheating and then I caught him with evidence of his cheating. He'd just lie and lie while I sank deeper into depression. At the time I felt like such a hypocrit, something I hate with a passion, because I was choir leader at church as well as a sunday school teacher, yet my home life was far from perfect. I did everything right, everything a wife should. I think the larger I got the more abusive he became. I was not healthy for that third pregnancy and then I found out I had gestational diabetes. I had to pick my finger several times a day and give myself shots of insulin in my legs. I was getting more and more depressed while my husband spent more and more nights away from home, out all night.

When I was 29 I ended up having back surgery for a herniated disk that had plagued me for 2 years. It was a pivotal moment for me. I travelled to London with my mom and my youngest, Katie who was 2 at the time. I was scared to death and when I made it out ok I called my husband to share with him that I was ok. He was abrupt with me and told me he was too busy to talk. That was when it hit me. I could not hold my marriage together any longer and if he was that selfish...I didn't want to stay in a loveless marriage with him. I decided to let go. I had lost weight before the surgery. I had gotten up to my highest at the time of 220 pounds and lost 20 before the surgery. I remember reading the report of my surgery in which the surgeon described me as a "morbidly obese" woman. I was horrified! I had lost weight even and was still considered morbidly obese?!?

I just want to note that when I was 200 lbs I did not look like a typical 200 lb woman. I don't know if it's from the working out I did when I was younger or just my body type but I looked thinner than I weighed.

So, after deciding my marriage was over I met another man. Chris has been with me for 10 years now. I'm still a bit shy to remarry but who knows what the future holds. I started smoking during all this too, when I turned 30. Smoking was always something I had been against. I think I not only wanted to try and shock my husband since he smoked and didn't want me to start, but I also was trying to cry out for help. Nobody caught on though...I self-destruct when I am at the end of my rope and I tend to do things to hurt myself rather than hurting others. Anyways, shortly after I met Chris I had a lot of traumatizing events happen to me that eventually lead to me having to fight in court over the course of 5 years to protect my children from their father. This was a very stressful time and took all of my energy. Chris and I had a child together during the time I was going through my divorce and child/custody fight. I had a very very hard pregnancy. I remember at one point thinking I would die before she was born I felt so bad. I gained 76 lbs with that pregnancy! It was very high risk, I had gestational diabetes again, only this time we had a hard time controlling my blood sugar even though I did everything I was supposed to.I was filling up with fluid and I couldn't feel my feet anymore nor did they resemble feet at all. I was going to the hospital 3 times a week for non-stress tests and once a week for ultrasounds. When I had Kalli she was very floppy and they could not get her to cry. Off she was wisked to be put into an incubator receiving 100% oxygen. I had quit smoking as soon as I found out I was pregnant and did everything right. We didn't find out until Kalli was between 6 and 9 months old that she had a disability. I started to smoke again. I blamed myself, adding to my depression and self-loathing. After a year long maternity leave I was back at work and soon after I changed to a different company. Then I decided to go back to school and take nursing. I made it through a year but they messed up the program and none of us were accepted in the next year due to a screw up on the college's part. so I went back to my old job. I didn't have the drive I used to though for anything. At one point I lost my job and went into a deep depression. I sat at my computer all day long and all night. I never went out, never socialized. I lost a lot of my friends but I didn't care. It seemed that all the life I had in me was depleted with all the stress from fighting to protect my kids. I also had a lot of problems with nasty neighbours who thank God finally moved out. During this whole time I was of course eating. I'd eat fast food a LOT and it was nothing for me to spend $30 or so a night on junk food from the store...every night!

So there I was, sitting at my computer hour after hour, pushing my kids away, sinking deeper into depression while I built a wall of fat around me to protect myself. My fat had become my security blanket. I got to the point where I didn't get out of my pajamas and some days I didn't have the energy to take a shower.

I can't really say what my breaking point was but I did have one. It was like I woke up one day and saw that I wanted a life, a good one. I got a job which was one stress or weight off my shoulders. I started to do a lot of soul searching, trying to "find myself". I realized that because of all the crap that had gone on in my life that I needed to get rid of the baggage and be who I really was deep down, not the person that all the crap had made me become.

One of the big changes was my weight. I knew I needed it off. I couldn't even feel alive until I did this. In the past year and a half I had gone from 220 lbs to 306 lbs! A 86 lb gain!! I was almost sick when I realized what I had done to myself. I knew I didn't feel healthy anymore but seeing the numbers scared me. I tried the Atkins diet and lost 8 lbs the first week. Then my lifestyle and working midnights in a gas station/convenience store got in the way and I gained it back plus 2 more pounds, UGH!

Now keep in mind that for the past two years I had done some casual research on weight loss surgery but when I had first started to look into it I was about 240 lbs and everything I read said I had to be 300 lbs before I'd qualify as I didn't have any co-morbidities. I also knew some people who had weight loss surgery and asked them questions, most did great with it and one said she'd never do it again and she gained some of the weight back.

One night while I was at work this tiny little woman came into the store. She was looking for something to munch on while she was on the road as her work had called her to go out of town that night. Then she said something that shocked the hell outta me. She said, "You'd never know I used to be 300 lbs!" as she grabbed a bag of chips lol. I was floored! No way was this woman so tiny yet had weighed 300 lbs at one time! What's more is she told me she was 60 years old! I found this incredible. I was in awe and all of a sudden excited at the same time. I asked her a gazillion questions. She was great in answering me and after she left I seriously felt that God had sent me an Angel that night. It was like she was a messenger and handed me the answer I had been looking for. I thought, if she can do it at her age, why can't I at mine? I'm still fairly young and somewhat healthy but if I keep going the way I am I won't be healthy for much longer.
So, first thing I had to do was find myself a family doctor. Mine had retired years ago and I never had one since. He had taken care of me and my family for so long and knew everything about me. Was it possible to start over with a new one and get this surgery? I decided it was worth a shot.

Please understand I am not one to ever go to a doctor so I had no idea how to go about finding one. I went to a clinic with a minor problem I've had for a while and didn't care much for but I figured it was a baby step towards fixing myself up. While there they informed me my health card expired 6 years ago. I almost died laughing and told them "that should tell you how often I see a doctor!". So, off I went to apply for a new one. I got a temp and went back with it. I was asked who my family doc is. I replied I don't have one. They told me of two newer doctors who were taking patients. It hard to find a doctor in Windsor who is accepting new patients. I called the woman doctor figuring I'd rather have a woman. I got an appointment to meet her! I was so excited! I was even more excited to learn she is my age and she is nice and friendly.

By this time I know fate must be involved or something. I've always believed nothing just happens by chance. I now believe God sent that woman into my work that night to get me started on this path. So now I am sitting there with my new doctor and she sets it up for me to get all my bloodwork done since I couldn't remember last time I had any done. I get all that done and go back to her a week later for the results. Everything is normal, some things a bit on the low side like iron and B12 and my blood pressure is low. I was shocked that I wasn't diabetic yet, at the weight I am!

She told me I needed to lose weight and to quit smoking. I said I was interested so she put me on Champix to quit smoking and I asked her about weight loss surgery. She said she'd look into it and it might take a few weeks but she'd get back to me with some info. Well she called me back two days later! What was even more shocking? She told me I was already pre-approved for weight loss surgery!! I was in shock. She was just going to "look into it" and all of a sudden I am pre-approved by OHIP?!? I was excited though to say the least. I was having much success with the Champix to quit smoking also. I knew I needed to quit before I could have the surgery. So my doctor gives me the number of a surgeon in Michigan to call. I called and the woman on the other end was so nice. She said she thought she'd hear from me sooner, I was a bit taken aback by that but I guess my doctor had told them I'd be calling. She set me up with a seminar to attend on May 1, 2008.

My 39th birthday was April 27, 2008. I had chosen that date to totally quit smoking by. On April 26, 2008 as I was getting ready for bed I had my last cigarette. I can't begin to describe how great it is to breathe, to smell, to taste, to be able to laugh without choking! I am so happy and this is just the first step towards being healthy!

Ok so, timeline? I asked my doctor about the surgery middle to late April, got pre-approved at the end of April by OHIP to have the surgery done out of country. May 1, 2008 I took my mom with me to a seminar. Dr Steven Hendrick, my surgeon, seemed to be a very nice man with a good sense of humour who genuinely cares about his patients. I had good vibes about this. I had my bloodwork done shortly after and faxed the results over to his office in Wyandotte, Michigan. My surgery was set to take place at Henry Ford Hospital, Wyandotte, Michigan. On May 15th, 2008 I drove over the border with my parents to have a consult with Dr Hendrick that was to last the whole day. There was a group of us there. We listened to a physiotherapist speak as well as program director, the surgeon, a nutritionist and psychologist. The doctor and psychologist saw us individually. I was the last appointment of the day. I was told they'd call me when OHIP gave the final approval.

I think it took 3 days before I got the final approval. I was sooo excited but there was on drawback. Dr Hendrick was worried I might have sleep apnea so he requested I do a sleep study first before he'd go ahead with surgery. I deflated. I called to get my doctor to refer me for a sleep study, The sleep study clinic got me an appointment right away with the doctor there. Once there I was told it could take weeks to get in to do the sleep study but they'd put me on a cancellation list. Then they noticed I work the midnight shift at my job. They had 1 opening for during the day to do the study, right after I got off work, in two days! Everything was falling into place so quickly and smoothly!

I did the sleep study and was told it could take 6 weeks to get the results but that the doctor would rush it for me. Incidentally, he was my allergist/asthma specialist when I was younger and he remembered me lol. So, I called the end of that week and they had my results. I didn't have sleep apnea and could go forward with the surgery. I called Dr Hendricks office was told I needed to fax a copy of the results. I called the sleep clinic back, only the doctor could do that and he just left for a weeks vacation! I was crestfallen. I waited and when he got back I called again. I was told they had faxed the results to my family doctor a week ago...what the hell?!! I called my family doctor and they said no they did not get a copy so I called the sleep study again (grrr) and they faxed over another copy. I get to my doctors office later to pick it up so I can fax it to my surgeons, well guess what? They lost the freaking results!!! I waited for about 20 minutes while they looked and then had the sleep clinic fax it again only to find out the dimwits hadn't looked in the fax machine in the back where my results were sitting! Sheesh. So, I get it and race over to staples to fax it to my surgeon (for some reason my doctor won't fax things if they are going over the border, we have to do it), while at staples I see a sale going on. I've been looking to buy a new computer chair as mine was falling apart. I saw one there, regular $200 on for $100, so I snatched that baby up! It is so comfy!

Ok, so I decide to call my surgeon's office in the morning to see if they got the fax as it was now 5pm. I call the next morning and find out they won't be in the office until the next week! Ahhhhhhh! So, I waited lol. I'm not a patient person either.

FINALLY the next week I call and at first was told they didn't get my fax. I almost cried! Then Rachel (the nutritionist who is a sweetheart!) said to hang on, she'd check on the surgeon's desk. It was there! Yay! So she set up a date for my surgery. I had been hoping for end of June but that would be too soon, like a week or so. July would be good too but I guess all the spots filled up quick. I got August 4th. It's not too bad but I wish it was sooner. Now I am glad and think it happened that way for a reason. One of my friends I met on is going to also have her surgery the same day, same surgeon, same hospital.

Ok, so this all went too smoothly and quickly. I am now catching my breathe and had my little freak out moments but I want to tell you something. Before I went to my doctor in the first place to ask about the surgery, I prayed. I always leave my major life decisions to God. My prayer was simple, "God, if this is meant to be, if it is your will then please let everything go smoothly and quickly". That's how my journey has started out so far! I believe it will continue to go just as quickly and smoothly. I also believe the people coming into my life now are no accident, God has a plan ;)