Get Hit by a Bus, Volume 2 May 23, 2014Posted by J. in Genius.
Tags: anxiety, diet, exercise, fear, feelings, fitness, hernia, incarcerated umbilical hernia, Sisyphus, Speare Memorial Hospital, surgery, weight loss
No one told me when I lost weight that my body would start betraying me every goddamn chance it gets.
First it was the high blood pressure. Never had that in my whole fat life. Lose 45 pounds, though, and WHAM. Your ass is on meds.
It’s okay, though. I’ve passed the 150 pounds lost mark and it’s well-controlled to the point that my doctor cut my dosage in half. As he pointed out, when I went on them, he was dosing someone who was 100 pounds heavier. I don’t need as much. That’s pretty cool.
So, two weeks ago on a Thursday, I got up in the morning and ran two miles. Did my best time ever on that particular route, showered and changed, and felt great all day. Went to my in-laws that night to celebrate Larry’s birthday.
About halfway through dinner, I started feeling really crampy, right in the middle of my abdomen where my belt was hitting. I thought maybe it was gas. My mother-in-law is the best and I love her, but she cooks things that I don’t eat often, and I thought my delicate constitution (*snort*) was rebelling. It’s been known to gas up at anything out of the ordinary. Eating well has turned me into a delicate snowflake, I tell you what. I won’t even talk about what Chinese food does to me now. Suffice it to say I don’t think I should have to count the calories in it because I only borrow it for roughly 20 to 30 minutes.
So I got up and used the bathroom. Nothing. But it still hurt. I went back to the table and the longer I sat, the worse I felt. I sipped some cold water thinking that might help. It didn’t. Dave had to go in to wash his hands and I took him in. I had to sit on the toilet because it was making me sick to my stomach to stand. When I stood up and dried his hands, I thought I was going to black out. I got to the couch and lied down, and by then, I had to tell them that I was unwell. Like, in a lot of pain unwell. Like, let’s go to the ER unwell.
Normally, post weight loss, my abdomen looks and feels like an unrisen loaf of bread dough. Very smushy. But there was a firm lump right behind my belly button that has never been there before. My mother-in-law felt it and said she thought it might be a hernia, so we piled into the car and with seat reclined, I was taken to the ER.
My time in the ER was as most visits go. You get triaged, you wait to see someone, you wait for tests. Also, there was puking, because that shit HURT, and when I said I was an 8 on the pain scale, I got some painkillers. Morphine first, more puking, then anti-nausea and Dilaudid, and that was like magic, bitches. Long story short, doc felt my gut, ordered a CAT scan, and the result was an incarcerated umbilical hernia. For those not wanting to go Google that shit, I’ll try to ‘splain.
See, when you were formed as a fetus, you were connected to your mom via the umbilicus. It was cut at birth, and the hole in the connective tissue between your abdominal muscles where it went into you closed up over time. Mostly, anyway. It’s usually pretty small. Everyone has one.
Sometimes, that hole gets bigger. One of the leading causes of that hole getting bigger is pregnancy. I carried three big babies to term, and every time, that tissue stretched out. I stayed fat and out of shape, so that hole stayed larger than normal. And on Thursday, while doing absolutely nothing, a loop of my intestine slipped into that opening and got trapped.
It seems there are a fuckton of nerves in one’s intestines because that shit HURT.
“Incarcerated” means it was intestine trapped in the hole. Sometimes a hernia has fatty tissue stuck in there, but with less fatty tissue to fill the space, my guts made a run for it. This is bad, because if it’s left to sit there, first of all, that’s a lot of HURT, and second, if the tissue dies, you get a strangulated hernia, which is all kinds of bad and a much harder repair because they have to cut out dead tissue before it decays and kills me.
Also, I’m not a doctor and I probably have some of this wrong, but in my defense, when it was explained, I was tripping balls on an awful lot of painkillers. You get what you pay for, people.
In any case, they were pretty adamant that it meant surgery ASAP, and as there were no beds in either Laconia or Concord (because apparently the Lakes Region is practically Namibia when it comes to health care) I chose to be transported to Speare Memorial in Plymouth at 3 in the morning. By 4, I was told I could have all the Dilaudid I wanted and that the surgeon would be in early to see me.
At 7:00, I met Dr. Casey. He is a lovely man with a terrific bedside manner. He felt my hernia, which didn’t hurt at all even though it had been hours since my meds, and said that it had reduced while I slept. Which is good news. That meant the intestine went back inside where it was supposed to be. It’s why it didn’t hurt. However, the hole was still there and my guts could try another escape at another time and we’d have to start this whole circus all over again. And since I was already in a johnny and had my IV secured, what the hell. Let’s close that bastid up for good.
Because it was no longer incarcerated and I wasn’t in any pain or immediate danger, and because of an emergency that came in, I didn’t get to the ER until 4 in the afternoon, but once I got there, things moved pretty quickly. He fixed me up and I woke up in recovery.
I was chatting with the nurse, while I was coming back to consciousness, about my overall health, and I told her how much weight I’d lost. She was impressed, and asked if I was a runner, because she said she had to shut off the alarm on the monitor because while my heart rate was low, my BP was low, and while my oxygen sats were at 100%, my respirations were lower than the machine liked and it kept beeping unnecessarily. She said I have the vital signs of someone in really good cardiac shape, and that made me feel awesome even in my post-surgical haze.
I thought for the first time at that moment (and I probably voiced it aloud to her) how infinitely glad I was not to have to have had that surgery at 360 pounds. And I’ve thought it a lot more in the two weeks that have followed.
I thought of the size of the exam bed in the ER. Of my own mobility getting on and off of exam tables and the CAT scan machine. Of having to be loaded onto a gurney and transported. Getting on the operating table. Even sitting myself up in my bed, or standing and walking. Those would have been painful and humiliating at my heaviest. And I imagine operating on someone that obese is probably a lot harder as well.
I was released to go home the next day with a Vicodin prescription and orders to take it very, very easy. No aerobic exercise. No bending. No lifting. Go slow on stairs. Gentle walking. And for the first few days, I didn’t even want to do any of those things.
Demons still follow you to the hospital, though. Surgery doesn’t remove them.
I had weighed myself that morning because that Monday, my weight had gone from a low of 206, back up 8 pounds. I was devastated when I saw that. I knew part of it was because I had had the flu for a week and didn’t exercise at all, so I probably lost some muscle mass. Then when I got back on my feet and started right back into running, I got it right back. I retained some water because of the exercise. But eight sure seemed like a lot and to be that far away from 200 again just punched me in the face. It takes me a month to lose that much weight all over again, and I wanted to just cry. To throw my hands up and say “fuck this shit” and flip some tables or something.
I was down to 211 when I went into the hospital, and when I got home, I got on the scale. I was bloated as fuck and back up to 229.
There was a lot of poofiness going on. I looked 7 months pregnant. My fingers and ankles were huge. I knew it was water, and a lot of air, and bruising and swelling going on. And I knew that this is a temporary setback due to illness and once I recovered, I’d go back to where I was.
And two weeks later, I’m down to 210, a bit lower than when I went in, but still working my way back to that lovely 206. I got a clean bill of health yesterday from Dr. Casey. I have a 4.5-inch patch of mesh behind my belly button that is screwed into the back of my abdominal muscles that will keep my guts from trying any of that escape bullshit again. I’ve been cleared to work out, but at the moment, I’m still sore. Less and less every day, but as he told me, muscles are unforgiving places to screw stuff into, and they’re unhappy with the screws. But those will dissolve and my muscles will get over it. Until then, do what doesn’t hurt, and if it does hurt, stop doing it.
I’m going to need patience and perseverance.
One of the hardest parts of my recuperation was not feeling like following the straight and narrow. I was not up to cooking. I hurt. I was whacked out on painkillers. I wanted easy, comforting food.
And I had some. I didn’t feel like tracking calories or writing in my food journal. I felt like napping.
So I did quite a bit of that for the first few days. I ate…whatever. And didn’t move a whole lot. I was on the Sloth and Gluttony diet and recovery plan.
A week later, I had to fight my way back to good habits, and I’ll tell you right now, it takes a long time to establish good habits, but no time at all to get the bad ones back. And as I was trying to claw my way back from gluttony and sloth, I was coming off of the Vicodin, and that’s a process that apparently comes with anxiety, restlessness, and full on bitch mode. And a fair amount of soreness, too, in my own defense.
I almost punched Larry in the face for eating pretzels. I was incapable of making the calm request that he not bring shit food into the house and eat it ALL FUCKING DAY LONG when I’m living like a goddamn monk and resenting every minute of it.
After a couple of days, I calmed down, but I’m still envious of people who can and do eat everything they want. Sometimes I miss eating without counting the cost, and that sometime is right now.
I also realized that sitting still for two weeks made me remember the old me. Walking tired me out and made me sore. I just wanted to sit and eat, and I did. I gave into cravings. I binged. The only difference between the old me and the new one is that while I was acting like the old me, I missed the new me. I didn’t like not wanting to move. It reminded me of the aches and pain that come with being fat keeping me from going out for a walk. I didn’t like eating whatever was easy, because that’s how I got so fat to begin with. I really didn’t like my super-loose pajama pants fitting again, or not being able to get into my jeans. I didn’t like looking thick around the middle again. Or having my shoes feel too snug.
I knew it was temporary from the surgery, but it made me feel the way I used to. It was unsettling at times.
Remember the joke about there being a skinny girl inside every fat girl…I ate her? I think in my case, the skinny girl is emerging, but now the fat girl is inside, and I’m pretty confident at this point that she’s always going to be in there. I really do feel like I have these default settings that my mind keeps asking permission to revert to.
It was good to sit here and deny the reset, but it does make me contemplate a future where this struggle between the fat girl and the thin one goes on forever. I do think the tide has turned in favor of the thin girl. The more I see of her, the more she seems to be in charge, and that comes as a welcome bit of relief. But I still think like a fat girl sometimes, and suspect I always will. I think they will always struggle for supremacy, and I’m also pretty sure that the fat girl could win again at some point.
In my last post, I talked about the fear and anxiety that comes along with being at this particular point in my journey. And from a lot of the comments here and on my Facebook, I got the feeling that it came off like I was planning on quitting.
I’m not giving up. I know it’s my choice to continue this new life I’ve chosen, or let the fat girl win. I can choose to revert to my default settings if I want. I don’t want to, but I always have in the past, and while I don’t necessarily want to, I also know how easy it is to let the fat girl run the show.
It’s a scary damn thought, and I have to thank my friend Heather for calling me the day that post went live. The first words she said to me were EXACTLY what I needed to hear, because she heard what I was saying. She told me that she understood how I was feeling, and that I had every right to feel the way I did.
Heather validated my feelings and acknowledged my fears as real, and deserving of acknowledgment. No admonition. No cheery pep talk. No ass pats. Not even a whole lot of advice, really, beyond some really basic stuff. Just that it was okay to feel scared of failing, not that failure isn’t an option. That she understood the struggle was hard and how it feels to want to give up, not telling me to never give up. They were the words I needed to hear on a day the anxiety level about how huge this is had reached critical levels.
The support I have is wonderful, both from friends and from people who’ve stumbled on my blog by accident and are following along at home. And I appreciate the helpful suggestions and advice, and the words of encouragement all along the way. But after I posted that, I almost took it back down. I got to feeling like I had no right to whine and complain because of all I had accomplished. I was begged not to quit. I was told it was all up to me.
I know all that. It doesn’t make the fear any less, or the anxiety go away. And it’s something I think maybe you only understand if your path has been similar in some way. I left it up because Heather called and said she understood, and that my feelings were normal and healthy, and I had every right to feel that way. And I want anyone reading this to know that if the day comes that you’re feeling that way too, it’s okay.
I understand how tiring the fight can be some days. Struggling against your own compulsions is exhausting. The effort it takes to get through even one day on track when you’re going through a rough stretch can feel Herculean, and I want you to know that if you are feeling like Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill, I understand. I’ve cried too, from sheer exhaustion and frustration.
I understand if you’re afraid of failing. If you haven’t even taken the first step yet because you already know you’re going to fail again and put the weight back on, or you know you can’t stick to any kind of diet plan at all, I know how you feel, and you have every right to those feelings. It is scary as fuck to have to start. Or start over. Or start over AGAIN. And again. And again. It’s scary to feel the fat person you carry with you all the time (whether that be inside or still on the outside) taking over. To feel the anxiety build when hard fought pounds slip right back on, and pants get too tight. I understand that feeling of panic when you feel the slide and you don’t know how you can find the strength to stop it. It’s terrifying, and you have every right to be scared. Especially if your boulder is like mine, very near the top, and experience has taught you that any minute could be the one where it starts rolling back on you, and what if you never get to shove that bitch over the other side and plant your fucking flag at the top?
I understand, and you have every damn right to feel whatever the hell way you feel about this.
And so do I.
My soft goal was 200 pounds, and it’s still so elusive that it’s driving me nuts. I knew I could get to 200 so I set that as something realistic I could achieve. I’ve come to believe that I’m capable of so much more and my goals–both those on the scale and the ones that have nothing to do with my weight–are way more far reaching than that. I know I’ll get there.
But the fact that I get so close and then slide away again is driving me up the fucking wall. And you know what? I have every right to be frustrated by it. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE EASY GOAL, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! Yeah, there are plenty of other things that are going smoothly, and I’ve got a lot of wins in that particular column, but I’m entitled to be bitchy about the marks in on the loss side, too.
Surgery was a setback, and it’s annoying to take two steps forward and 7 steps back. Hell, two steps forward and one back was bad enough. Sitting at a plateau for a few months sucked. And this is some more suck to deal with. But I’ll deal with it. I feel like I have my footing again, hard as it was to get back to this point. There were a few ugly, white-knuckled days this week to be sure. But I’m on track, and the weight is coming off. I still have moments where I feel like I’m going to be fat forever, but I try not to let them get to me too much.
And now I’m heading out to the gym for the first time in more than two weeks. I’m going to see how my body feels about a little low-impact cardio and maybe even a very short, slow run to see if the discomfort is tolerable, or if we should wait a few more days.
I will not be doing crunches.
And I kind of hope that it’ll be awhile before the next bus comes around the corner.