I'm going public


Usually the phrase “going public” is used in terms of some famous celebrity who has a big scandal, serious illness or some other *very important* piece of information they feel the world needs to know about. Or, in business, it refers to a company that is ready to hit the market and make everyone a ton of money. As I’m not famous and no one really cares about my personal issues, and I don’t own a company that will have me rolling in it for the rest of my life through an IPO, all I’ve got is my struggle with my health.

Right this minute, it’s 9:59am on September 20, 2009 and I’ve been in pain since Friday evening. Prior to Friday, I have had this pain off and on for a couple of months. I know exactly what it is: it’s my gallbladder. I had my first gallbladder attack last Halloween. Instead of showing off my little 7 month old in his first costume, we spent that night in the ER. Prior to the nurse asking me if I still had my gallbladder, I was trying my best not to panic with the fear that I was dying. When she asked that question, I was immediately able to calm down and stop assuming that I had a spontaneously punctured lung or a terminal heart problem.

I didn’t take that gallbladder attack seriously and that is why I’m in pain this weekend. When I saw my GP after my ER visit, she said that I should go about eating normally and that it was probably due to my recent pregnancy - gallbladder attacks are fairly common during and post-pregnancy. (Hormones are so annoying, eh?) I was already seeing a dietitian to help me balance my diet for the treatment of my Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), so there wasn’t any need to worry about the gallbladder issue, since it would respond well to the PCOS treatment anyway.

I was seeing the dietitian from November 2008 until March 2009. I had to cancel one appointment and before I called to reschedule, I got laid off from my job. That effectively ended the possibility of further appointments since the expense of a dietitian really isn’t an absolute essential. While I was seeing her, though, I’d had both extreme success - losing 8 pounds in one month - and unfortunate setbacks. The setback was minor - only a 1lb. weight loss the month after losing 8. However, it was due to having to discontinue taking Meridia, which was an extremely helpful aid to me. Because it was preventing me from sleeping, I had to stop taking it and that discouraged me a great deal. I tried to think about it positively by telling myself that it’s better not to be dependent on pills or other weight loss “shortcuts”.

Something that I realized today - yeah, it takes me a while - is that I’ve been stressed almost constantly for the last three years or so. The list of reasons starts with my mom’s very sudden and unexpected death, having to put a cat down, buying/building a house, buying a new car, moving into a new house, getting pregnant, getting a promotion, having a baby, working while on maternity leave, going back to work (and optimistic about it), getting back to work and realizing my optimism was misplaced, trying to improve my overall health (and expecting too much too soon), getting laid off in a down economy - and during the summer when no one hires anyway, fearing losing my house, pressures from neighbors to build fences we can’t afford, etc., etc. I tend to “take things in stride” and not get panicked about them, even though that isn’t how my body responds. I was reading this morning about the signs of chronic stress and realized that I have almost all of them:

  • Headaches…check (almost daily and often migraines)!
  • Frequent upset stomach, indigestion, gas pain, diarrhea, or appetite changes…check!
  • Feeling as though you might cry…check (I sometimes do)!
  • Muscular tension…check (especially in my neck and shoulders, which causes headaches, too)!
  • Tightness in your chest and a feeling that you can’t catch your breath…check!
  • Feeling nervous or sad…check!
  • Feeling irritable and angry…check! (Even if I am only upset about being laid off.)
  • Having problems at work or in your normal relationships…check! Matt and I are happy together, but I think we’ve had more instances of strain this summer than just about any other time in our relationship.
  • Sleep disturbance: either insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)…check!
  • Apathy (lack of interest, motivation or energy)…check! (Fortunately, it’s not constant, but comes and goes, so I do get stuff done.)
  • Mental or physical fatigue…check! Matt told me I needed to get a job soon because my brain was turning to mush. It’s a little joke we’ve had for months, but apparently it’s no joke.
  • Frequent illness…check! Though, surprisingly, this did ease up not long after my layoff…interesting. And Brandon was ill for most of the time I was as well - my poor, stressed baby…haha!
  • Hives or skin rashes…thank goodness, I’ve avoided this one. :)
  • Tooth grinding…check! Mind you, I’m a tooth grinder and have been all my life. I think my personality is one that bottles up stress internally and it comes out in “little” ways like this.
  • Feeling faint or dizzy…check! Fortunately infrequently and I’d like to keep it that way.
  • Ringing in the ears…check! Who knew? I’ve always wondered why that happened.
  • Disruptions/skips in menstrual cycle; unusually severe PMS or menopausal symptoms - AND that’s not one I’m going to address, because I’m just not willing to publish that kind of information in a public forum!

I got this list from The Flat Belly Diet, which I am about to implement as a diet regime to help me get in shape. Sure, there are faddy promises made in the book, but it appeals to me because I like having certain things laid out really clearly rather than obscure directives that I have to interpret for myself. This book lays it all out and that is what works for me. It’s also a well-balanced and not excessively restrictive diet to follow.

Here’s the kicker for me. When I got pregnant, I weighed approximately 220-225 pounds. (In case you hadn’t guessed, we’re at the “going public” part of this post now - who puts THAT number out on the Web for the world to see? Apparently me, if you’re reading this.) I gained somewhere between 35-40 pounds throughout. I tried to keep it down to about 25, and even got in trouble in my first trimester because I didn’t gain so much as an ounce over a month between two appointments. For someone like me, who gains weight looking at food, it was pretty astonishing when that happened. I thought I was eating a lot, but clearly I wasn’t eating more than I was burning.

My third trimester was rough - not in terms of being pregnant; that part I loved - but for weight gain, that’s when most of it happened. I actually gained 5 pounds in two weeks, which was my highest (and most embarrassing) gain. I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD), which didn’t come as a huge surprise since I already knew I had PCOS. Most women with GD aren’t treated with insulin shots anymore; it’s controlled with diet. The biggest risk with GD is that the baby can grow to be quite large. The average size for a newborn baby is somewhere between 6-8lbs. My son was 10.5lbs. He was also born by Caesarean section, though I’d wanted to have a natural (minimal intervention) birth. I am terrified of needles and pain and having to have my first surgery in order to have my first child was incredibly stressful and, to a certain extent, disappointing for me.

The combination of having PCOS and a C-section left me pretty much unable to produce enough milk for Brandon, yet another disappointment. Between that and the GD, I knew I needed to get my health in order before I tried having another child. This year was supposed to be all about the goal of good health. As I’ve written before, it didn’t work out. Whose fault was that? Mine. Have I kept up my half-year resolution? No. Why is it important now? Because I know if something doesn’t change I’m going to create severe and long-lasting health problems for myself. I’m quite literally in a do-or-die situation.

It’s now 10:53am and it’s been almost exactly an hour since I went down to the basement to jump on the Wii Fit to weigh myself. I was convinced that I would be hovering around 235lbs. To my incredible surprise, I weighed in at 229.4lbs. On August 12th - the last time I weighed myself - I was 232 - my highest non-pregnancy, non-still-trying-to-lose-pregnancy weight ever. So, despite the odds, I’ve actually lost a couple of pounds and while I’m not proud of my eating habits of the last month, I am certainly grateful that they haven’t been entirely detrimental.

My ideal weight is something around the 150-160 range. BMI calculators say 120-130, but I have big bones (yes, for real) and only anorexia would get me down to 120. My original goal at the beginning of this year was to lose a respectable and realistic 40lbs, with the plan of losing another 40 in 2010. At not even a pound a week, that should be EASY to do. Instead, I’ve been yo-yo’ing my way from 236, down to 220 and now back up to 230 again. So, I’ve set a new goal for myself: to focus on eating healthy and avoid the foods that harm me. If I do that, I am sure I can lose 4lbs. by October 20th…that’s including my favorite eating holiday of the year - Thanksgiving (for Canada). Thank goodness so much of what I do for Thanksgiving can easily be made really healthy.

So, I’ve done it…I’ve put one of those numbers that you never reveal - age, weight, salary - out there for the world to see. Oh, here’s another: I’m 32 and I’ve been told I’ll have diabetes by 40 if I don’t do something about it now. See? Do or die. I’m 32 and I am about 80lbs. overweight and this is about making some major changes to my life that are long overdue.