While I sit here and ponder why I do what I do I am beginning to realize how much my health affects the decisions I make “My health” encompasses a lot.
I’ve had diagnosed depression from the time I was a child. I started exhibiting symptoms early and it was recognized by the time I was 10. I was taken to a psychiatrist, that I liked, but after the first visit I was told I wouldn’t be going back. I would be getting counseling from the church pastor.
I’m going to make a switch to the physical stuff now.
I was a relatively healthy child. And active! I had swimming lessons, played baseball and most important to me was that I was a figure skater. My parents started me young and by the time I was a pre-teen I was at a level where people in my life started talking solitary ice time and private coaching.
Osgood–Schlatter disease (OSD), also known as apophysitis of the tibial tubercle, or Lannelongue’s disease, is an inflammation of the patellar ligament at the tibial tuberosity. It is characterized by a painful lump just below the knee and is most often seen in young adolescents.
An extra bone in my knee cutting the ligaments every time I bent my leg and creating a huge lump that I still have. Do you know how they treat that? They stick you in a cast from thigh to mid-calf and make you keep your leg straight and hope it goes away. If it doesn’t go away by the time you are a teen they might operate but you are in a cast until then.
So, that happened. Having the healthy appetite of an athlete and zero mobility for exercise led very quickly to morbid obesity. By the time I was 13 I was shopping in the adult section.
So that happened, too! Morbid obesity was my only physical health issue after that. But at 28 years old I was 400lbs.
When I started to have trouble breathing walking up to my second floor apartment? Is when I made the decision to go for gastric bypass surgery.
It was a new surgery then. And I went full tilt. No banding, permanent. They sutured off the bottom of my stomach and re-attached my intestines to a new opening they made. They took out most of my duodenum. And they made the opening of my stomach, at the esophagus, as small around as the end of my pinky finger.
I lost almost all my weight within 2 months. I kept it off for a year and worked out to try and look better but I had too much skin from the rapid weight loss. That meant more surgery. They took 40lbs of skin off my stomach.
Surgical complications happen.
Surgeons kind of expect people to push the boundaries after this surgery. It is supposed to be a liquid diet for 8 weeks and NO refined sugar. I can say honestly, from having been to support groups for this surgery, most people violate that. They have no self control about food. They try to eat solids in the hospital still. 5 days out of surgery.
I didn’t. I stuck to that rigid diet for the entire time. And as a result? I never stretched the opening of my stomach like they anticipate everyone will. Even when I began solids I stuck to a very tiny diet, I regurgitated a bit but that was expected.
However, after my skin removal surgery more complications started to show up. What was left of my duodenum started to fail.
du·o·de·numˌd(y)o͞oəˈdēnəm,d(y)o͞oˈädn-əm/nounAnatomynoun: duodenum; plural noun: duodena; plural noun: duodenums
- the first part of the small intestine immediately beyond the stomach, leading to the jejunum.
The duodenum is largely responsible for the breakdown of food in the small intestine. The duodenum also regulates the rate of emptying of the stomach via hormonal pathways. It is the primary source for absorbing vitamins, nutrient and calories.
This means what food I wasn’t regurgitating from my small stomach opening wasn’t doing me any good anyway. My body wasn’t absorbing the things it needed and wasn’t emptying properly.
In addition to that? My recreated stomach failed to produce new stomach acids and hormones. No fault of anyone, just the way my body reacted. But the hormone that tells your brain your are hungry was no longer being produced by my body. I forgot to eat, often.
Then? The icing on the cake was my abdomen. Two external stitches were left in my belly button and ended up inside me. I had chronic infections in my abdomen. Awful stuff. I took all kind of antibiotics but I have a sensitivity to prescription medications so it was difficult and nothing worked. It presented as cramps once. Another time I was full on fever infection. And then mushrooms. Oh yeah, they sprouted out my belly button like a fungus. Can you imagine anything so disgusting?
I had a general surgeon working on a hernia issue I have (from always regurgitating) and he asked about my belly button. He could smell it. I showed him and he took a deep look. Gave me a sedative, went right in and took those two stitches out!! How did no one else discover that for four years?
I know this all now. I’ve spent 10 years trying to understand what went wrong. But I didn’t see it at first. I just kept losing weight, having immune issues I attributed to too many antibiotics and feeling weak. And of course it translated over to my mental health issues at that point.
I developed social anxiety to go along with my depression. Without getting the proper nutrition I was physically and mentally weak. My doctor prescribed a 3 month leave of absence from work.
It was eventually discovered that I wasn’t getting any vitamins, calories or nutrients. My body was starving no matter what I ate. I dropped to under 100lbs. I was put on regular vitamin injections, forced to drink disgusting protein drinks and eventually it came under some control.
That’s kind of the tip of the iceberg, actually. I manage my health issues now. But it’s work and it’s tiring. That rapid weight loss? It damaged all my internal organs. The lack of vitamins? Means I have no calcium. I have zero bone density and walk around on a permanently broken ankle. Means I have no iron. I walk around partially anemic most of the time.
It affected all areas of my health and life so much that I am on permanent disability just so I can take care of myself.
So it makes sense that in the past 1o years my health has affected every decision. Some people would be spurred toward fighting for health. I tried that at the beginning. When I realized I won’t be healthy again and my issues aren’t fixable? They just mean I will fight to live until I die? I made poor choices. I chose to go out having a good time, especially if that quickened the pace.
Now? I guess I want to change that. Maybe I have longer than I thought. And healthier choices will make me happier for however long I have left. Healthier choices will mean I can be a better person to the people around me who love me and are trying to take care of me.