Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Sometimes it's hard, when things aren't going as well as you would like, to remember just how lucky you are. When your aches and pains and ailments seem to keep piling up on top of one another, it's hard to step back and say to yourself, "Hey. I woke up today. I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat. I have the strength to get out of bed, play with my kids who are healthy and happy, cook dinner for my family, and maybe even run some errands. My back may hurt, and I may not have the energy I did 20 years ago, my life may not be perfect, but I am still blessed beyond measure to have this day." It's all too easy to lose sight of all the blessings that you have, and focus on what you think is missing.


My uncle is in the hospital right now. He has severe COPD and also suffered a heart attack. He was on and off a ventilator and in a propofol induced coma for several days. He has only in the last couple of days been transferred to a step down room and is able to breathe on his own. But because he was unable to breathe and deprived of oxygen for some time, there is also concern about neurological involvement. And of course, how the COPD will continue to affect him in the future. Thankfully he is improving, but for several days, it was truly one day at a time.

My mother and father have friends that they have known since childhood. Friends that, long after graduating high school in 1968 and 1969, remain in close contact. Bill and his wife Sherry are two of those friends. Sherry had a stroke several years ago, but with a lot of work and rehab, she had managed to get well. She had another massive stroke this past Sunday, July 14th. She was declared brain dead and removed from life support the next day. This morning, after a week of lying in a hospital room, slowly dying, Sherry passed away.

A man that I graduated high school with, who is 39 years old, was diagnosed two years ago with cancer. He was initially given a good prognosis by his doctors and was confident that, with chemo and surgery, he would win the battle against cancer. He and his wife were so confident in fact, that they decided to have another baby, a son, who is now not yet a year old. But the chemo didn't shrink the cancer like they had hoped. And surgery somewhere along the line was no longer an option. And now he is in a hospital room, with Stage IV cancer, not only battling the disease, but also the long list of complications that have arisen to accompany it. He wakes up grateful for each new day that he has to spend with his wife and sons, because there is no guarantee that another day will come.

The truth is, none of us are guaranteed another day. Whether we are in the best shape of our lives, or battling a terminal disease, there simply is no guarantee of another day. So while it is all too easy to get sucked up into a "woe is me" attitude because you don't feel well or money is tight these days or something didn't work out the way you'd hoped, it is important to put your life into perspective and count your blessings. You should live every day as if it were your last day, because there's no guarantee that it won't be. Today I am alive. My children are healthy and happy. I have already had a lion's share of hugs and kisses and "I Love You"s today. My husband is safe and not in a warzone. My son is distraught because he doesn't have any pixie dust to make him fly. And my daughter is...reorganizing...every dvd we own. Thank you, Lord, for your many blessings. My cup runneth over.

Monday, July 15, 2013


The last week has been...devastating. It's hard to even put my feelings into words, but I'm going to try. But to really understand the full scope of my devastation, you have to know the whole story.

I have been overweight my entire life. I came into this world weighing 9 lbs and 1 oz, double chin, buddha belly, fat rolls on the arms and legs, the whole bit. My mother weighed about 100 pounds and was a size five when she became pregnant with yours truly. My father, on the other hand, was always a big guy.

When I was a child, I was never home. Every waking moment of my life, I was outside. I loved to ride my bicycle around the block and through the neighborhood. I played non-stop, everyday, until it was time to come in for supper. Then I would eat dinner with my family, maybe watch a little tv on the couch with my Dad, and then I went to bed. I did not sit at home all day long, with an open bag of potato chips in my lap, mindlessly eating junk food while I watched soap operas and gained weight. I did what every kid did. And I gained weight.

When I started going to school, a private Christian school, was when I became aware of the fact that I was fat. My fellow classmates were nice enough to tell me this. Every day. Whether it was the boy in 6th grade who yelled out "BOOM BOOM!!" every time I took a step up the stairs. Or the fact that I was never invited to parties in high school. No one ever asked me to be in the homecoming pictures with all their girlfriends. I doubt they even noticed that I was not asked to, nor did I attend, my Senior Prom. I'm also certain that they never cared that I came home from school every day wishing that I could go to sleep, and never wake up again.

I went to college. On a scholarship. Thankfully, I was blessed with a reasonable amount of intelligence. And since I hadn't had any sort of social life in high school, I had plenty of time for studying. Same thing in college. I didn't bother pledging a sorority, because I knew I wouldn't get in. I never went to frat parties. I did not have one single date in four years of college. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a 3.95 GPA. I had managed to get through four years of college making only two B's, both of which were in one credit hour courses. I did so well in fact, that I was able to graduate college a semester early. But I doubt anyone noticed that I wasn't there when they all came back for the spring semester of our senior year.

My best friend in college, who I would say I ate 80% of my meals with during those 3 1/2 years, said something to me once that I don't think I will ever forget. She said "I eat with you all the time. I see what you eat and how much you eat. You don't eat any differently than the rest of us. I just don't understand why you're so overweight when you're just like everyone else." The truth is, I asked myself the same questions all of the time. Why me? Why me?

I hear skinny people say things all the time like "If you would eat better and exercise, you would lose weight." I eat the same thing the rest of my family eats. And less of it. And I still gain weight. At my highest weight, I was 356 pounds. Now, imagine for a moment if you will, trying to maintain the same level of activity that you currently do, while carrying a 200 pound man on your back. Every time you climb a flight of stairs, imagine doing it with a 200 pound man on your back. Every time you run five miles, imagine doing it with a 200 pound man on your back. Every time you do your cross fit or your yoga or your pilates or whatever it is you do, imagine doing it with a 200 pound man on your back. I did everything, from sun up to sun down, with a 200 pound man on my back. And then after a lifetime of battling an enemy that I could not defeat, I had gastric bypass.

Not long after I had my bypass, I developed a kidney stone and had to have it removed. Then, I started throwing up everything I attempted to eat. Or drink. I couldn't even get water to stay down. I was dropping weight like a brick because I was literally starving to death. My hair was falling out in clumps. I felt faint at work one day and when they checked my blood sugar level, it was 42. And you know what? I didn't tell my doctor. I didn't tell her because I knew something was wrong, and I knew if I told her, she would fix it, and the weight would stop coming off like it was. One of the other doctors in her surgical group heard me mentioning at work one day (I worked in the recovery room at the hospital where I had my gastric bypass) that I wasn't keeping anything down. He called my doctor. Within minutes she was calling me on the phone and telling me that I had to go to a gastroenterologist immediately. I didn't want to go, but I did. Because I was told that if I didn't, I could die.

I had developed a stricture where my new golf ball sized stomach emptied into my intestine. The passageway had narrowed to 3mm, the size of an extra fine mechanical pencil lead. It would have to be stretched, over four sessions, so that I would be able to actually eat again. I didn't want to do it. I was finally on my way to being skinny, and I almost didn't care that I might die in the process. But ultimately, I gave in and had the procedure.

At my lowest weight after my bypass, I had lost 140 pounds. I had gone from barely squeezing into a size 28, to comfortably wearing an 18. I met Shaun. We got married. I immediately got pregnant. I gained 40 pounds when I was pregnant with Jameson. About half of that came off after he was born, but half of it hung on. Then I got pregnant with Fallon, and I gained 50 pounds with her. Again, half of it came off, but half of it stuck around. So between the two of them, I've gained about 40 of the 140 pounds that I lost after bypass back. Still 100 pounds less than what I weighed before surgery, but nowhere near what I was hoping to achieve by having my stomach cut out. And now, five years after surgery, I'm "malnourished" because I'm unable to absorb the nutrients out of the foods and pills I take. So I may be anemic for the rest of my life and will have to have regular IV iron infusions in order to maintain a normal iron level. Yay me.

So here I am, about to turn 40, I've spent my life despising my body because I'm constantly being reminded by everyone that I don't fit into the box that everyone is supposed to fit into. I won't even let my husband see me naked, because after losing weight and having two gigantic babies, I look like I carried that 200 pound man in my gut, not on my back. I never, ever, feel sexy. I question why my husband loves me and am constantly doubting his love. And I'd finally been approved to have surgery to remove this abhorrent flabby fatty flesh, and then it all just fell apart, all because I'm anemic, because I had gastric bypass, because I wanted to be thin. Isn't that just some fucking irony?

When my surgeon called me last week and told me that the insurance company wasn't going to re-authorize my surgery, I completely fell apart. I sat outside and wailed while my husband sat next to me with his arm around me, trying to console me. I screamed and I yelled and I hit things, and then I just sat and sobbed and told him that he just didn't understand what it was like to hate your own body every minute of every day. To be so uncomfortable in your own skin that you didn't even want your husband and father of your children to see you naked. To dread family pictures because you don't want to be the one to ruin a perfectly lovely picture of everyone else. To look at all of the other women in your family, and wonder why you're the one who had to be like this. And to fear, every minute of every day, that one day my children might have to experience the things that I have and it will obviously be all my fault.

At this point, I just have to stop hoping and praying to be thin, and start hoping and praying for some kind of peace and contentment with my body. Of course, it would help if everyone else would stop reminding me that I'm fat.