Weighty Matters

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Squashing Hope and Pride

If you don’t want to read a rant, you might want to move off to another blog.

I joined a Facebook group of people who are also following the Always Hungry? plan.  Today someone posted about a recent visit to her doctor.  She’s worked hard to follow the plan and has lost 11 pounds.  Emotionally, she was feeling good and strong about sticking to the plan and seeing weight loss.  She had to go to her doctor about a knee problem.  While he praised her for the weight loss, before the end of the appointment he also said that she might have to consider weight loss surgery to stop the progression of her body breaking down.

You could read in her post how his words deflated her spirit.  When I read it, all I could think was, “Damn him. There were other ways that he could have handled this situation.”  He could have encouraged her to keep on going with her weight loss efforts and pointed out that every pound lost reduces the stress and pressure on joints.  Nope.  Instead of positively reinforcing her efforts and building her up for continued success, he tore her down.  In his mind he was probably doing due diligence, just being honest and fulfilling his responsibility to his patient.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t realize the negative, hurtful, upsetting message he delivered.

I also don’t know if he gets that telling someone they may need to have weight loss surgery isn’t necessarily an effective message that will achieve the desired results.  Based on my own experience, I emphatically do not believe that anyone should have such a drastic, life-altering surgery unless it is 100% their choice to do so.  This is all my own opinion, of course, but I’m putting it out there.  If they are not completely committed to researching all options, to delving deep into their own heads and hearts, to redefining their relationship with food and eating and change their behaviors, it is the wrong choice.  They may enjoy success at the outset, but ultimately, there is too high a chance that they will ultimately fail.

I had a similar experience to this other woman.  In 2007, I had a significant gall bladder issue, namely a gall stone the size of a large olive was stuck in a duct.  I was in the last week of managing three weeks of filming for a tv series.  All around me, co-workers were suffering stomach virus symptoms and I was positive that’s what I was fighting off.  The symptoms of stomach upset, would come and go in waves.  Finally, when the shoot was over, I conceded that I should get to the doctor.  Maybe I needed a pill or something, right?  The night before my appointment, I was in constant discomfort, felt like if I could only start throwing up I’d be better.  I also felt like I was running a fever.

By the time I got to the doctor, I was absolutely miserable.  I stretched out on his exam table, hurting.  Even before he listened to my symptoms and did an exam he said, “I would not be doing my job if I didn’t tell you that you need to have weight loss surgery.”

I was shocked.  Not that he thought this because, well, he was a surgeon with a morbidly obese patient in front of him, but because, hello!, that patient was lying on his table in pain.  Bad timing.  Because I was in pain I couldn’t even come up with a great answer.  I sort of mumbled, “I know, I know, but could we focus on the problem I’m here for right now?”

It only took him about :30 seconds to diagnose the problem and schedule me for a couple of tests the next morning to confirm his diagnosis.  By the middle of the next day I’d already had my gall bladder removed, come out of the anesthesia, and was in a room for the night.  I was discharged the next day but not before hearing again about my urgent need for weight loss surgery.   I never went back to that doctor again.

Here’s the thing, right or wrong, I wasn’t ready.  I wasn’t in denial.  I knew, pretty much every single moment of every waking day, that I was super obese, but I also knew in my heart that I was not in the state of mind, state of emotions to commit to all of the changes that weight loss surgery would mean.

I struggled for the next four years.  I resisted.  I gave up on myself.  I went up and down emotionally and in my spirit.  When I had that defining, line in the sand moment and the big realization that I did not want to give up on myself, that I didn’t want to be dead or disabled by the time I was 60, I was ready to make the choice.  Because I was ready to make the choice, I was ready to commit 100%.

You know the success I’ve had and the struggle. Overall, I am more successful than not.  Just because I’m not yet all the way where I want to be does not invalidate my progress and the level of success I’ve achieved and, more importantly, maintained.

I wish the woman’s doctor was more aware of his words and their effect.  I wish he’d handled the situation differently.  I hope with all my heart that the woman is able to take support from the me and the other posters who commented back to her and not get so depressed and discouraged that she stops trying.  I also hope that she doesn’t allow herself to be pressured into a surgery that she isn’t ready for.  If she comes to the decision on her own, that will be a big difference.

As long as I’m ranting, I’ll share something else that happened this week on that same group.  It’s a very active group so I can’t possibly go back and find my exact post, but I had shared how good I felt not experiencing cravings and that I was really enjoying freedom from compulsive eating behavior.  The doctor who devised the plan and wrote the book left a comment on my post.  The gist of it, or at least the gist that I read and reacted to, was that people buy into the idea that there is a psychological reason for overeating when it’s really just necessary to eat the right combination of good foods.

I read that and it felt like he was invalidating eating disorders; like he was saying it’s all in my head.   I respectfully disagreed in my response and explained that I’ve lived with this for decades and recovery is not just about eating the right combo of foods.  I’m not denying that following this plan has improved my physical satiety and that helps to reduce physical cravings, but the compulsive behavior is more than hunger or cravings.  Heck, I don’t even need to be hungry, in fact, I could be stuffed to the gills, and still reach for food compulsively if I have something else going on and brewing inside my head and/or emotions.

Right now, the food plan that I am following is an extremely useful and effective tool.  If the percentages of fat, protein and carbs work to reduce the physical cravings, great.  That can go right along with the surgically altered stomach forcing me to cut down on  portions.  If I’m in a bad place and binge eating, there is only so much room in my stomach to overeat before it will hurt and come up again.  Stomach… food plan… both tools.

I honestly don’t think that the doctor intended to invalidate my experience as someone with an eating disorder.  He responded back to me and another poster who also disagreed with him in the comments.  His followup comment clarified his position a little more clearly and I felt better afterwards.  I don’t really need him to validate my experience; I’m just touchy when I perceive that someone thinks that food disorders aren’t every bit as much of a real disease as any other addictive disorder.

Okay, my rants are over for the day.  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

 

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Truly Feeling the Emotions

Pyxi and I are plugging along.  You know, I feel like I should apologize for currently turning this into a blog about my seriously ill dog, but then again, it’s my blog.  This is what’s going on in my life and it’s what I’m dealing with so I guess everything is related.

Anyway, we’re going day by day.  Some days she seems to be a little better; some days a little worse.  Some times holding steady.  It doesn’t escape my notice that, like my program, we’re taking her illness one day at a time.

I will be honest and tell you that I am preparing myself to have to make the ultimate, difficult decision.  I love my dogs very much.  Part of that means that I will never force one to suffer because I cannot suck it up, say goodbye, and let them go with love.

This is not the first time that I’ve dealt with a beloved dog nearing the end of life.  I have been in this place before.  Heck, it’s not just pets.  My mother was very ill before she died.  I was her primary caregiver, which her pretty much 24/7 for several months.  With her wishes known, my brother and I held her medical power of attorney and were trusted by her to act on her behalf when she couldn’t.  There came a time when we knew that there was nothing medically that could be done to prolong Mom’s life.  With the help of hospice and support of family, we could prepare her and help her approach her death without pain, in the comfort and familiarity of home, surrounded by the people who love her.

So, this is not a new situation, but I have to say that I feel like I am an emotional wreck.  I do my best to keep a positive, upbeat and good energy demeanor when caring for Pyxi.  When I’m away from her and think about how she isn’t gaining ground and I could be on the verge of having to say goodbye to her, I dissolve into a crying, grieving mess.  It’s hard for me to discuss her condition with friends and family without falling apart.  Just typing it here started the waterworks again.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not trying to say that I’m usually an unfeeling, repressed person.  Far from it.  I have big emotions.  I’m passionate and expressive in my joy, enthusiasm, anger.  But, I think I’ve learned to be appropriately expressive and balanced.  Right now, I’m completely out of whack.  If I usually navigate on a mostly even keel, right now I feel like my upset is a rogue wave swamping and threatening to capsize me.

Yet, except for a couple small deviations, I’m handling the crisis without relapsing into full scale binge eating or compulsive overeating.  I’m working program, pre-planning and eating to plan, logging my food/water/exercise, and working out.  That’s all good.

I believe it’s also why my emotions are roiling so dramatically.  Stuffing great quantities of food into one’s body is one way to also stuff down emotions.  When I overeat or eat off plan, I am counteracting my feelings – negative and positive.  Food as anesthesia.  Sooo, because I’m not using food to suppress the anxiety, worry and grief, they are going to town.

With everything that’s going on, I didn’t make the connection before now.  You’d think I’d have realized it right off, but, hell, I have a lot weighing on my mind and heart.  Now I know.  I’m conscious of it, so I need to work on maintaining better balance.  I’m not saying it isn’t okay to be sad and worried.  These are normal.  I do, however, have to keep them from throwing me so out of whack that I can’t function physically and emotionally.

I need to experience the emotions and still be able to think, work, breathe, and take care of Pyxi, her brother Nat, and myself.  We are all relying on me to do so.  If the time comes that I need to consider the decision for Pyxi, I need to be able to process the facts and reality and do what is best for her.  In the aftermath, I then need to be able to continue to care for myself and Nat without sinking into relapse.

How do I do this?  I keep reaching for program and the tools with which I am so familiar.  They are always present as long as I pick them up.  I need to continue to take care of myself by following my food plan, going to my workouts, getting acupuncture, arranging for massages or other treatments.  Not shorting myself of sleep.  These things are all important to preserving my recovery and staying healthy.

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