A little about myself

Posted by leannekarella on January 14th, 2013 |Filed Under My Thoughts |

I wrote that first post to go on my Facebook wall for my family and friends that know my struggles. If there are others out there who might read this, I thought I should tell you a bit about my medical history.

Currently, as of today, I’m 38.5 years old and weigh 274.6lbs having been on Ideal Protein for almost 3 weeks.

I was overweight my whole life, a little chunky as a kid, steadily gaining weight through high school. I was about 230 lbs when I graduated in 1992. I’m 5’7” with big bone structure, so I could “get away” with being heavier. I never looked as much as I was. Very soon after graduation, I started packing on the weight.

4 years later at 280 lbs I went on the infamous fen-phen diet that was all the rage. I lost 20lbs in about a month and WHAM! Wound up pregnant. After giving birth, it was all downhill from there. By 2000, I was up to 326 lbs. It was a picture of myself and my daughter that sent me on a weight loss journey.

Using ephedra, the go-to diet drug of the 2000’s and working out like a fiend, I got down to 232lbs in a little less than a year, and managed to maintain it for about 2 years…until I got pregnant again.

After miscarrying, my body did some very strange things. It didn’t matter what I ate (or didn’t eat) or how much I exercised (I walked a minimum of 3 miles a day then, along with some light weights) I was putting on weight. I went to see a doctor, and he told me I was obviously not exercising enough. A few months and 20lbs later, I go to a different doctor, and she tells me that I obviously don’t know how to count calories. And I go into a depression and just kind of give up for a while.

A small step backward…that doc that said I didn’t exercise also diagnosed me with an ASD (a hole in the wall of my heart). I was on a waiting list to see a specialist.

So, by the time I get to the cardiologist at a major heart center, I’m up to 310 lbs. Cardiologist says I’ll need open heart surgery to fix the hole “sometime” in the future. (I was 30 now.) But I need to get my weight down to around 260, for safety reasons.

All this time with all the doctors, they kept checking my A1C and fasting glucose, and it always came back that I was not diabetic. Another year or so goes by, and I stop having a period. I go in search of another doctor.

This woman was a Godsend! She took one look at me and said, “We need to run some tests.” I roll my eyes, and think, “Yeah, here we go again…” But a week later when I’m back in her office, she asks me if I’ve ever heard of PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). I tell her yes, I was diagnosed with it shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, but a second doctor said I didn’t have it. She tells me I definitely DO have it, and because it went undiagnosed so long, and my body was overproducing insulin (one of the major factors in PCOS) I am now diabetic.

So, I’m put on Metformin right away, along with meds for my “fatty liver” and my slightly higher than normal cholesterol. I drop 20 lbs (I was up to 330 btw) in a blink of an eye, because Metformin and stomachs do not get along! But alas, the weight loss didn’t continue. I hovered between 310 and 320 for 6 years. I put my health matters to the back of my mind while I started my home-based business and kept a growing child in line and my husband’s meals cooked. I tried not to think about it too much, because that just stressed me out.

In 2009 I had to see my cardiologist (as I do about every 18 months) for my heart tests, to see if there’s any change in the size of the hole. I start asking about surgurey and stuff. I’ve been dealing with this for 5 years at that point, and there is a level of stress that hangs over a person when they know there is a HOLE in their HEART and they need OPEN HEART SURGERY “someday”. She couldn’t answer all my questions and said she’d refer me for a consult with a surgeon.

As things go with the medical system here (in Canada) my file got ‘mislaid’ or something to that effect, and it was almost 18 months later in Nov 2010 when I get an appointment to see the surgeon. He wants to know why I wasn’t fixed as soon as it was diagnosed. Well, I was told it was no rush. He doesn’t agree. BUT!!! I have to get down to 250 lbs before he’ll even touch me because of the concern about complications due to my weight and my diabetes.

*sigh* Seriously?

Another thing, until 2 months before that appointment with the surgeon, I’d been a smoker. I quit Sept 15th, 2010. I’d been smoking for around 20 years. Here’s the funny thing about that, though…. By January, I’m having breathing problems. That’s right, AFTER I quit smoking, I develop breathing problems. So, between the surgeon and the cardiologist, they are trying to find out why I’m having breathing problems, and I join a gym and start working out. I loose about 25lbs in a couple of months, I’m doing great! I can’t breathe when I work out, but I’m doing great with the weight. I should have surgery by fall!

I tear a tendon in my right rotator cuff.

*lots of bad words*

I am not supposed to lift anything more than my hand with that arm until it heals. Here starts 2 years of being useless because I’m VERY right-handed. The breathing issue gets worse, and the only exercise I can do is walking…strolling, as my hubby refers to it. I can’t walk fast, and I can’t walk uphill. And I can’t lift weights. And I’m supposed to lose another 35lbs before I can have surgery.

Weight loss stops at 285. Depression sets in. I’m in a LOT of pain and seeing doctors about the shoulder. Cortisone shots, then when the tear starts to heal, another pain sets in, which the shoulder surgeon thinks is bicep tendonitis. This is when I really start thinking that getting old SUCKS!

I see the surgeon 8 months after initial consult, and I get a very blunt “not good enough” at the 285 that I’ve managed to maintain. I have to get down to 250. But now there is concern about the breathing issue. I have stress tests, lung function tests, and the big one, a catheterization of the heart (no plaque buildup there). So, basically, the cardiologist tells me “you’re fine” but I’m not. I’m not fine at all. I don’t care if they can’t diagnose it, there’s something very wrong with me! Even at 330 lbs I could walk and not get winded, and that was when I smoked!

I go about life as best I can, and I come spring 2012, I decide to try the Atkins diet. My friend lost 50lbs on it without much effort. I lost 10lbs fairly quickly, but then slowly gained it back, even though I kept to the low carb diet.

Then I get a call from the cardiologist’s office that I need to go back in for another catheterization because they missed a major measurement the first time. (Color me very not thrilled!) But something good came out of it. I found out why I can’t breathe! There is blood flowing backwards through the hole from the left to the right side of the heart. (It’s only supposed to go right to left.) So when I exert myself, my heart beats faster, more blood is thrown backwards, and my heart beats faster, and the blood goes backwards, etc…until my blood pressure is high and I feel like I’m going to pass out. The surgeon who did the catheterization told me to keep doing what I can with exercising, just don’t push real hard and get to the pass-out feeling.

So, at least I know why that happens now. I feel better. It doesn’t fix anything, but I feel better about knowing that I’m not going to die, unless I try to run a marathon or something.

But I HAVE to get the weight off! I’m desperate.

The summer before while visiting family, my niece was on the Ideal Protein diet. She was doing very well on it. After I told my sister (who happens to be a cardiac rehab nurse) about the latest catheter results, she suggested I try IP. She’d had some patients who’d done the IP diet with good results.

So, I went in search of someplace that did IP here, and found a health center less than a mile from my house.

And the rest, I hope, will be history!

My first goal is to get to 250 (surgery weight). My next goal is 232, the lowest I got doing it “on my own” a decade ago. My ultimate goal, and I’m not sure if my body could handle it, is to see the scale dip below 200. 199 lbs is where I’d love to be.


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