Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tipping the Scales

I was one of those teens who struggled to MAINTAIN over the 100 pound mark. I could eat anything and everything I wanted. When I got sick with CFS (we now know to actually be the retrovirus XMRV) at age 18, I basically stopped eating. Bacon bits, cottage cheese and tomatoes were the only things I could choke down for months. Then I discovered an equation I called, "food equals energy" and relied on high calorie snacks to give me momentary blood sugar boosts just to get through the next task in survival mode.

I gained 40 pounds in less than 2 years, only to discover a month before my wedding that there was no possible way I could fit in my wedding dress! :yikes: We bought a new dress, got married, my weight settled in around 143 and within six months we jumped onto the roller coaster of infertility charting and then Clomid. I managed to stay just under 150 (having gained nearly half of my prior body weight!) over the next six years but it was a hard struggle. Finally, I got on Metfomin to address insulin resistance (IR) that went hand in hand with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and was thrilled to watch 20 pounds melt off over the next three months!!!

I was and even more thrilled to learn we were pregnant as a result of IUI and injectables that third cycle! The thinking at that time (nearly 12 years ago) was that Metformin should be stopped when pregnancy was confirmed, so I stopped it the day I got my positive result. I was VERY sick (throwing up 20-30 times per day from week 7 on through most of the pregnancy) and lost 12 pounds before I could start gaining anything, weighing just 6 pounds over my starting pregnancy weight the day I went into labor. Our son nursed for 19 months and I continually gained weight that entire postpartum time.

I think I ended up right back at the 143-145 mark by that point. I don't know why I didn't get started on Metformin again at that point, but I didn't. We went on to have two more miscarriages. Eventually I did get back on Metformin and this time dropped over 30 pound in 10 months and started ovulating consistently without other fertility meds!

I had another laparoscopy, lasting nearly 4 hours when the doctor had only anticipated 45 minutes, and was told I would need to come back for another surgery in 3-6 months to remove at least one tube and ovary. I was told there was less than 5% chance of ever conceiving again even with the help of medical aid and that if by some miracle I could possibly conceive, I would never carry another baby to full term due to multiple uterine issues.

My first ovulatory cycle after surgery, God proved the doctors wrong! And though the pregnancy was scary (preterm contractions started at 25 weeks) God brought our daughter to healthy, full-term birth 8 years ago last week. I gained 18 pounds with this pregnancy and kept right on gaining through 2 years of breastfeeding and postpartum depression.

I'm thinking I was around the 150 mark by the time all was said and done this time. I did get back on Metformin but for the first time my weight didn't budge. :( It didn't go down, but I tried to console myself with the fact that at least it didn't go up any further either.

After 13 years, 3 miscarriage, 7 adoption losses, 2 living miracles, multiple surgeries, meds, and so much more, God totally surprised us with yet another son, born the week of our daughter's 3rd birthday! Preterm contractions started at 19 weeks this time (by God's grace he was only born a month early) and while I wasn't nearly as sick as I had been with our first, I again dropped several pounds before I could start gaining and was just 6 pounds over starting pregnancy weight on the morning of his birth. The same pattern of ongoing weight gain happened over the next year and a half of breastfeeding.

Again I found myself parked right around 143-145 pounds, as seemed to be my body's natural landing spot whenever PCO and IR went unaddressed medically, and now sometime tipping up to around 150. I did get back on Metfomin again briefly, but by now my body was totally burned out. The hysterectomy I had been told to expect before my 30th birthday could be held off no longer and 2 1/2 years ago, at age 36, 10 weeks worth of heavy bleeding that would not respond to medical intervention led to knowing it was time to write the final chapter of our infertility story.

Though I kept one ovary, my broken uterus had to go. It was especially hard as my trusted ob/gyn moved out of state a week before all the bleeding started and I had to go through these decisions and surgery with a doctor who I had only just met. He immediately took me back off Metformin saying that since I was no longer rying to conceive, there was no reason for me to stay on Metformin. I argued that as long as I still had an ovary, I still have PCOS (and really, even if the ovary were gone, PCOS's long-term impact should still be addressed) but he wasn't in agreement. As a result I began packing on weight like never before. The girl who struggled to maintain 100 pounds was now to 160 by last Christmas (2009) and a pound shy of breaking the 170 mark this Christmas!

Due XMRV my physical ability to exercise is almost non-existent. I use a wheel chair most times I leave the house because of my inability even to stand for any length of time. I cannot walk to my own mail box at the end of our street. I eat lots of fruits, veggies, lean meat, but I do crave sugar and carbs and while I'm typically fairly careful here, once I get started on sweets, I tend to binge. I try to make good food choices overall, but the weight kept piling on anyway. You may remember my post about Seeking Contentment with Great Gain gain from last July. To me Metformin was the only answer but none of my doctors would budge.

Finally, this past October, I started some new medications for the CFS (after trying IVs and all kinds of other things these past couple of year) and that actually seems to be helping. The meds even list weight GAIN as a common side effect, but I believe my body was fighting so hard just against illness that it couldn't let go of weight. Now that I have some help for my battered immune system, I'm dropping about 4 pounds per month (down a total of 15 pounds since October).

Now that I have some momentum, I'm wanting to make even better food choices. On my doctors orders, and by God's strength alone (sure not in my power!), I now in my 12th day off of processed sugars!!! My doctor told me in no uncertain terms a couple of weeks ago that "cutting back" on sugar isn't OK, that I need to cut it OUT all together. This has been a hard battle as sugar has remained my security blanket through all the ups and downs with weight and health crisis in general. I read this week that sugar is as addictive as cocaine! But God's giving me victories every day, like being able to joyfully say, "No thank you" when offered birthday cake for both of our youngest living miracles this past week. It's an exciting process even if it is a moment-by-moment battle.

Thanks to the kindness of my sweet friend Veronica, I just started reading Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst. (I don't know how long the offer will last, but a 21-day companion devotional called Craving God is FREE as an Amazon Kindle download today! If you don't have a Kindle, you can download a free ebook reader from Amazon as well.) I know Made to Crave is the right book God sent me at the right time. It's not a diet program, it's a Bible study on heart issues and replacing food cravings with a deeper relationship with the Lord.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. - Psalm 84:1-2

I'm at 154 pounds right now. My goal weight for my height and bone build is 125ish, so 15 down and about 30 pounds left to shed to be at a more healthy weight. I've been as low as 113 (nearly 9 years ago, just before conceiving our daughter) and I know that was TOO thin, but I know myself well enough to know I could be tempted to try to get even below that 125 mark. Being hopefully optimistic that I can continue loosing weight this time simply by addressing significant health issues and continuing to make wiser health choices, I want to be accountable that I don't let myself drop that low again either. Thanks for walking with me through this journey. I'm praying that God will help me stop this yo-yo once and for all!


CFS Facts said...

gThankfully, my current doctor's idea is that we will get me well first and THEN work on the weight.

I've been on the relapse/remission roller coaster before, and know that much of the weight I've gained will drop off almost overnight when I go into remission, so I've never been worried about it.

But the first quack -- at a time that I was still within normal weight range according to the height/weight chart -- called me "obese" because I wasn't a size 2, acted like the only reason you could possibly gain weight was eating hot fudge sundaes, and reacted like it was a personal insult when a RX caused me to gain 4 lb in a month instead of losing (as it should have if that was the condition I actually had).

Add in all the other RXs that have weight gain as a known side effect, and it's a miracle that I'm not 500 pounds.

Jenni / Jennifer Saake a.k.a. InfertilityMom said...

Exactly, CFS Facts. When our bodies are already doing everything they can just to fight significant illness, weight is going to be a problem! That's why I had to come to that point of learning contentment last summer because there truly was little I could do to change things. Now that my body is undergoing some improvement (and as seen almost every time my hormonal imbalances were addressed in the past), weight sheds itself! This time, now that the healing process has begun, I'm taking the additional step to intentionally avoid sugar because I finally feel healthy enough that I have the strength to try that too, but the first 14 pounds I lost were before I made any changes other than just finding a medication that, for right now, for my physical needs, is making a difference!