As the new year is about to begin I’m taking stock of where I’m really at emotionally, but also physically.
My list of ailments is lengthy, the treatments have been many, the result has been devastating.
In 1986 I was diagnosed with ‘chronic severe migraine headaches’. A Neurologist took me through a series of medications in an attempt to find the right treatment for me. (He had sent me to an ear, nose, throat doctor to see if there was a physical condition that might be causing the chronic pain. That doctor discovered that I had had a skull fracture, my eye socket had been broken and there were fragments of the bone in my sinuses, but he didn’t think that was contributing to the chronic pain, at least not significantly enough to justify surgery to remove them.) He couldn’t find a way to get me relief, after more than 10 narcotic medications, home injections and finally sending me to the E.R. for treatment, he gave up and told me he didn’t know what else to do for me.
In 1994 I was diagnosed with ‘major depression’, ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’, an ‘unspecified anxiety disorder’ and both ‘degenerative joint disease’ and ‘degenerative disk disease’ at precisely the same time my father was battling and succumbed to cancer. My cervical spine was found to be twisted and bowed and had developed calcium ‘ribbons’ between and around the vertebrae in an effort to stabilize my spine.
The psychiatrist and family physician treating me prescribed a number of psychotropic medications and pain killers to try to manage the chronic pain. In a matter of a couple of months I had put on more than 50 pounds.
Over the course of the next 8 years my doctors tried to find the right combination of medications to treat my diseases. Unknown to me, at one time, while taking 9 medications a day, 6 of the 9 medications listed as their first side effect “significant weight gain.” When I addressed this with my family physician, the response I got was, let’s get you feeling better, manage your pain, then we’ll worry about your weight.
In 2002 I decided to work on my weight on my own. I became a vegetarian, avoided processed sugars, sweets and gave up soda completely. I immediately lost approximately 80 pounds. I asked my doctor if there were some exercises I could do safely, seeing as how I had these diseases that affected my spine and joints. She suggested “Curves for Women”. I began going to the gym 3 days a week.
I had an accident in which my car was totaled. I had whiplash and began to experience a lot of pain that was determined to be ‘pinched nerves’ and an MRI was ordered. The results devastated me.
The pain was not attributed to the car accident, as I now had a ‘Synovial Cyst’ growing in my spinal canal pressing on my spinal chord and sciatic nerve. I had ‘nerve root damage’ of the sciatic nerve. I had two disks bulging at L3 and L4. The disk at L5 was completely gone, apparently had ruptured and been absorbed by my body. I had developed ‘Spondylosis’ of the spine and ‘Stenosis’ of the spine. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and edema at the same time.
When I met with a Neuro-Surgeon, he told me I should never have been doing the exercises at “Curves”, I was lucky I hadn’t done severe damage to my spine and joints. He told me to stop doing those exercises, to avoid percussive exercises, bending, stooping, crouching, or lifting anything over 5 pounds. He went on to tell me that he didn’t feel comfortable operating on me at my weight at that time, he wanted me to lose another 100 pounds before he would touch me, telling me I would likely lose the use of my legs in a couple of years. I asked him what on earth I could do to continue to work on reducing my weight, he told me to do whatever I had been doing… my response was ‘WHAT?’, I had just explained that I was working out at “Curves” and he’d told me not to continue doing that.
I really gave up. The pain was horrific, every time I stood, if I walked more than a few feet at a time, even when I sat down or lay down in bed. I spent so much time crying, it sometimes felt like that was all I did.
I was only able to eat and sleep and even sleeping was painful at times.
Now, I weigh hundreds of pounds more than I did when all this began, I use a power chair to do all my housework, to walk my dog, to move around the back yard.
I’m going to share pictures of myself online, for the first time, depicting my size, as I’ve never been able to do that and I think it’s got to be part of my overall ‘recovery’ and growth to look at myself honestly and make a plan to work on my physical well-being, as well as my emotional health.
I hope that after the new year begins, I can start to push myself physically a little bit more, and start walking around my yard, perhaps walk in place whenever I can until the pain is too much, and start moving about my home without my wheelchair a little more. My doctor has told me I’m not eating enough, as I only eat once a day, so I need to start eating a couple of small meals, as well as that family dinner, each day.