weightloss


Dramatic and fast weightless….always sounded like a dream come true to me.  I was very thin as a young adult but as I got married, had children and especially started high doses of steroids for asthma and COPD my weight had ballooned up to 240 at my heaviest,  wearing a size 18 pants and 2X or 3X shirts.

Rapid weight loss is not healthy, nor is it pretty.  By the time that I went in for my diaphragm reconstruction in June of 2016 I was down to around 170 pounds.  I felt super thin already at that point.  After the reconstruction and complications that caused me to lose the rest of my stomach, the weight loss just sped up even faster.

Protein drinks.  Vitamins, minerals and injections to try to keep my nutritional status at an acceptable level.  I have been hospitalized for TPN one time since my surgery.  My body got into a state of almost constant dry heaves.  My mouth was constantly filling with saliva and I was to the point of spitting in a bowl because I could not even tolerate swallowing my own spit.  After about 5 days of this I ended up in the ER.  Nothing that they gave me could stop the nausea or wrenching.  At this point I was admitted and started back on TPN.  After about a day the wrenching stopped.  No idea to this day what caused the episode.  I still have those same types of episodes but they never seem to last more than 24 hours at this point.   They do leave me horribly weak.

In the world that we live in, it seems that the goal is to be super thin and it is equated with good health.  When I do venture out of my house, I always try to look good.  I fix my hair, I put on makeup and try to look like everyone else.  I get tons of compliments now on how great I look, how skinny I am, how jealous (yes, jealous) people are of my size.

These people have good intentions and it does make me feel good to get a compliment of any kind.  BUT it is also sad…it has been hell to look like this and it is still a challenging life everyday.  You have no idea what you are wishing for.  I was alway so worried about my size and how fat I was and hating my body.   There are days that I dream of just being my old self as this new “normal” sucks!  I am gaining acceptance of my new self.

I have been able to stabilize my weight around 125 for several months now! This is a huge success.  Recently I gained 5-6 pounds and was keeping it on and was super happy thinking maybe I could gain a little weight.  Well, it turns out that I had a bowel obstruction.  This was 3 weeks ago.  Now that the bowel obstruction has cleared I am back down to the 125 range.

So I guess this is my new size….crazy to buy clothes that look to me like they should fit a child.  It still amazes me to fold my own laundry.   It is shocking to see myself in a picture or too see myself in a mirror with all my loose skin.

Being this thin is painful!  It hurts to sit in a bathtub, on bleachers, any hard surface.  It hurts to lay in bed on my side because me knees are too bony.  Shaving my legs is a nightmare!!!  I have not successfully shaved my legs without cutting myself in the last year.

On the bright side I have all new clothes and shoes….yes, even my feet are smaller!!!  So grateful for online shopping!!!

Questions…..

I thought I would take some time to see if anyone has any questions.   I’m not easily offended and if you’ve read this far you know that I will talk about everything.   So if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments and I will answer as soon as possible.   Thank you for all the positive feedback so far.  ❤️

Eating…can you do that without a stomach???

That was my first question…is this even a possibility?  Is this going to kill me?  Am I going to have to live with a feeding tube?

Yes, I can eat.  A year after losing my entire stomach there are still some struggles that I face with eating, but for the most part it is getting better.  The first thing that you have to learn is that there is nothing to break down your food.  No stomach acid, and no longer a way for your body to control the speed at which your food is released into your intestines.   When my food goes into my mouth I have to chew, and chew and chew some more.  My GI dr at Mayo advised me that they way I swallow my food is the same way that it will come out.  I started with liquids, then soft foods, then experimenting with everything else.  I can eat almost anything now but sugar.  It makes me super sick for hours and hours.  I can have a bite of something here or there or if my blood sugar is super low.

I rarely eat with other people anymore.  Simply because if I get started talking or get distracted in any way, I forget to pay attention to chewing my food.  If I eat too fast nothing is going to stay down.  There is a feeling that I call my heart attack pain that occurs if I eat too much, too fast or do not chew well enough.  It radiates throughout my chest and it feels like everything is just stuck.  This usually results in vomiting or hours of pain waiting for it to move.  It seems like taking a drink would be a simple solution but actually makes the problem worse.  You are actually advised NOT to drink 30 minutes before, after or during a meal.  There are several reasons for this.  First, it fills you up too quickly and you need that room for nutrition.  Second, my food is already going directly to my small intestine way too fast, drinking while eating just pushes food through even faster and you lose more nutrition that your body desperately needs.

Nourishment… The reason for eating.  I used to eat for fun, for comfort and simply because I really loved food.  I now have to force myself to eat.  There is no enjoyment.  My tastes have changed also.  When I do eat something that tastes really good I usually end up eating too much and then it ends badly.  This last year I have come to despise eating.  I know I have to and I will continue to but it has lost nearly every ounce of enjoyment.

Drugs… I have tried using marijuana as an appetite stimulant.  It does make me feel a little hungry which is awesome but the downside is then I usually eat too much or too fast.  Not a good solution as well as not legal, even medically in the state of KS.  I was able to purchase what I tried in the state of Colorado where it is legal both medically and recreationally.  I am a firm believer in the legalization of both.

Alcohol…I have only drank a handful of times since losing my stomach but have found that half a drink and I am drunk.  If I stop then in 15-20 minutes I am totally sober.  If I continue drinking then I maintain the same level of drunkedness and no matter the amount that I drink once I stop, the effects seem to be gone within an hour and no hangover.

I am supposed to eat every 2-3 hours.  I developed severe dumping syndrome and hypoglycemia.  Due to this I have been advised to try and eat non stop.  Gag.  I do make an effort every day and even set alarms on my watch to remind me to eat every two hours and keep lots of snacks with me and at home.

Nutritional failure…we discussed this the last time I was at Mayo clinic and visited the GI dr. and what all this would consist of.  I have lab work done all the time…seriously am surprised that I have any blood left.  A lot of vitamins and nutrients are totally or mostly absorbed in the stomach.  B12 is one of those and I currently give myself an injection every other week.  Potassium was very hard to get to a stable level and I hover around low normal now finally with supplements.  My vitamin D was chronically low before this and dropped even further even with supplementation.  I have started tanning and spending more time outside and I finally got that level into a low normal range.  There is really nothing about my body that works normally anymore.  I have stabilized my weight finally between 125 and 130.  I am 5’9″ and hover with my BMI bouncing between underweight and normal.  It is still shocking to see myself in the mirror or in a picture.  Rapid weight loss is not pretty.  If my weight would continue to fall again or my body is unable to maintain adequate levels with supplementation it will be back to being on TPN or J tube for feeding.  As much as I despise eating now that is the reason that I keep trying.  I do not want to be tube fed or IV fed again.  I know it will probably be a reality at some point in my life but I am planning for it to be way in the future.

Speaking of eating…time to take a break and eat…

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings…

With all of the horrible things I was experiencing, I was also covered in blessings.  First and foremost, my three kids are all healthy.  I know many mothers (and fathers) that are struggling with their children having severe illnesses or cancer.  Years ago, I had to have a frontal sinus drill out at the University of Colorado hospital in Denver.  As my husband and I pulled up to the hospital, the building next to it was the Children’s hospital.  It had a huge bright sign and balloons on the side of the building.  The false happiness of the outside of the building was gut wrenching to me.  I told my husband that I will go through being sick and do it every single day for the rest of my life…I just never wanted to have to take my child to that kind of hospital.

Today my kids are 17, 18 and 20.  Basically adults.  I still feel the same way, I never want to see them hurt or in pain.  I feel a very deep need to try and support these parents that are dealing with sick kids.  They are always in my prayers and the resilience of children is so amazing.  They always fight, they don’t know how to give up.  They are simply amazing.

My marriage…I have always loved my husband and love him more every day we are married, but being sick has been a glue that has stuck us together in a way I never imagined.  We rarely fight, we joke about morbid things like dying, we joke about and talk about everything.  With all that we have been through we have totally bared our souls to each other.  We have seen each other at our absolute worst and at the absolute best.  We know that each day, each moment is a very precious gift.  I believe that we would have a great marriage despite this, but we both feel that all of the trials have made us stronger.

My kids…my greatest blessings ever.  I cannot explain the deep feelings of guilt that I have for what my kids have been through.  I have caused them pain, deprived them of activities, and scared them so much.  My youngest does not ever remember me being healthy which is heartbreaking for me.  It has caused all of them to suffer from depression or anxiety at some point.  We have always tried to be honest and upfront with them.  In ways even the bad has blessings…my kids know how to go without.  They know that bad times don’t last, they get better and worse, life is never constant.  At ages when a lot of kids argue with their siblings they learned that the only other people that knew how they felt was each other.  Don’t get me wrong, they have fought like cats and dogs but also pull together and support each other without hesitation.  They have learned that it’s OK to not always be OK.  They have learned to give to others as we were given to in times of need.  Whether it is helping someone move, mow, taking a meal, giving a gas card, or just asking what someone needs.   It makes my heart happy to see their giving hearts.

I have been sick off and on now since late 2004.  Almost 13 years.  The biggest blessing is my faith has grown and continues to grow.  I have and continue to try and use my trials for good.  To try and support others struggles and help them learn that happiness is truly an individual choice.  No person, no thing can make you happy until you are first happy with yourself.  Yes, I have bad days and mad days, but overall my attitude stays pretty positive.  Even in the worst of times their is always a reason to keep fighting and keep believing that life is worth living.