Saturday, October 28, 2017

Just sit right down and you'll hear a tale....

Ha!  Bet I've got the Gilligan's Island theme song running through your head.

Every journey has a story. And I have been trying to think where best to start mine.

 I was a slender child... I've seen pictures of myself as a youngster on my first fishing trip with my dad - not sure how old I was, and I was as slender as a reed. (If I can get a copy of the picture from my mom I will and scan it in)

My mom says she thinks the trouble with my weight started when... first I had my tonsils out... then 5 days later my appendix gave out on me.   The recovery from both of those was long and slow and forced me to be inactive and I picked up weight.

My middle school years were, simply put, h*ll. I wasn't the fattest person in my grade (I don't think), but for some reason I attracted the attention of one boy... he had a little gang he led, but believe me, he was the leader and the worst. He'd sidle up to me -- when the teacher had left the room, or in the halls when no adults were around.. and say things like "Hey.. Fat girl. Hey, fat girl. Where do you get your clothes - Omar the tent maker?"... or hum the "Batman" tune, "na na nah nah, na na nah nah, FAT GIRL!" Simply thinking about those days brings a lump to my throat and makes my heart ache. If I try to tell any part of that story out loud it brings me to tears. Back then I probably should have told an adult..but I was afraid of being labeled a snitch or tattle tale...and I was afraid telling would make it worse. And I didn't think I could handle worse than what I was already living with.

I have since found this guy on facebook...and I've been tempted to ask him "WHY?" "Why did you single me out? Why did you torment me?" I don't know if he has children or not, but if I could I would ask him "How would you feel if some boy treated your daughter the way you treated me?" (Even if he doesn't have a daughter, its something he ought to think about.)

I actually did try to contact him with just a "Are you R. Johnston that went to Westminster High School?"  (Name not changed.. why should I protect him?  Even if he's a nice guy now, he was an asshole then.)   But no response.  Based on what I could see that was publicly available on his wall, he hadn't posted for some time... like the most recent post was  was a profile picture update Nov 2011.

I never got a response and not sure I'll ever get one and need one.   Oddly enough, the mere act of trying to contact him gave me a small measure of peace as I found myself thinking - I hope nothing bad happened to him.   A fry cry from the horrible things I wished upon him for many years.

That said, I'm not sure I've forgiven him.  I can't talk about those taunts he and his friends gave me without tears. 

Fast forward to 1994 when my husband proposed to me. I was at my then heaviest weight of 188 lbs. We knew we wanted to be engaged for a year... to give our families time to plan the wedding (and us and them to save for it)...and... to give me time to lose the weight. I joined weight watchers and over the course of that year lost 53 lbs... taking me to 135.

Then.. well.. life happened. Between just being happy and comfortable in marriage to grad school and just not paying attention to my choices... my weight crept up and up. Then add in battling infertility - two years of trying to conceive my son -- one year of that with the help of fertility doctors. I ate healthfully during my pregnancy and actually ended up basically maintaining my then current weight of 225.

When talking of children, my husband and I had always talked of having two or three children... and long before his birth I had an interest in adopting from China.   When we decided to give our son a sibling, we did go straight back to fertility treatments.     The simple answer is "It didn't work"... or rather it did, but nothing "stuck".  So we decided that the man upstairs was telling us we needed to pursue adoption from China.

That process was long.   When we first started the "paperchase" things had gone from a waiting of 9 months to 12 plus.   We ended up waiting for 27 months.   And that was about how old our daughter was at referral... she had basically been born 2 months after our paperwork had been logged in to China.

By then my weight was at least 225 still, if not more.  I can't remember.

The day I became a mom for the 2nd time.  June 30, 2008

But I  didn't do anything about it until about 2010 when I "turned myself back in" (as my Aunt Millie would say) to Weight Watchers.  From then until about  January of 2012  I lost a total of 62 lbs.  (From 253.2 to 190.4)   During that time I had begun to run... or at least run/walk.   I had discovered while it was hard I received an enormous satisfaction in setting new goals and achieving them.

I did 5ks, an 8k that I came in last for (my sock slipped into my shoe and I got a blister that rubbed raw and bled the last mile of that race... forcing me to limp/walk just ahead of the sag wagon.)  I even started to train for a half marathon!  I live in Maryland, but chose the Cleveland half marathon as my first.. .my reason being if I crashed, burned and failed I was going to do so far from home where no one knew me.   Ironically enough, that one ended up being my fastest half marathon at 2 hr 48 min and 35 seconds.

Then my weight started to creep up again.  I honestly don't know  why.   I was following Weight Watchers.. or at least thought I was.   Maybe my portions had creeped up without me realizing?  I don't know.     But paying each month and not seeing the results I wanted to see discouraged me and made me feel like I might as well just take the bills and light a match to them.  So I stopped going.

But what REALLY drove the nail in the coffin of my efforts was this when I was attacked/groped while on a training run.   A "man" (using the term in its loosest sense) came up from behind me and grabbed me.. one hand on each of my breasts.    I screamed loud enough to wake the dead and he dropped his hands as if he had been scalded and ran off in the opposite direction.

At the time it made me more mad than scared.  I actually yelled at him,, "You coward!  You COWARD!"   But as time wore on I would have panic attacks when I tried to run outside... it was hard to even go to the gym  because I was hyper vigilant... even though intellectually I knew I was safe.   In time I stopped going to the gym... stopped running outside.   And you guessed it.. all the weight came back, PLUS.

Last year, I took part in a study at a minimally invasive technique to combat obesity.  I lost 30 lbs with that, and regained them all back in the course of the year.

So here I am... back at almost my heaviest weight of all.  My heaviest was 279.6 on my home scale in April 2016.  As of 10/22 my weight was 272.2.

So what now?  

Back at the end of September I saw my primary care physician for an annual physical.  He always send his patients home with a printout of what was discussed, or things to work on, etc.   I hardly ever read those notes.  For some reason this time I did.  A line leapt out at me:   "If you are considering bariatric surgery, you will need to have a sleep study done."

I've always known that bariatric/weight loss surgery existed... but never strongly considered it for myself.  Frankly it scared me.   But for some reason seeing that line got me to thinking.  So my first step was to contact my insurance company to see what coverage my plan had, and what I would have to do to qualify for getting that coverage, should I decide this was an option I wanted to pursue.

I found out that my insurance (and what my work purchased from that insurance) was excellent coverage indeed.  Basically it will cover 100% if I meet certain criteria -- like go to an in-network provider.

So I thought... hmm.....  did a search and found that GBMC accepted my insurance.  And, as luck would have it, they were offering an in-person free informational seminar on a Saturday I was off from work.  Kismet?

So I went.    And found that of course surgery is serious business....but it wasn't as scary as I thought of it in my mind.  So I decided to continue looking into it.. you know me, I'm a librarian... reading and researching is what I do!   I scheduled a one-on-one to talk to one of the doctors in that practice.  

She agreed that of the surgeries they mostly performed, the best choice for me would by RNY... which stands for Roux-en-Y .. or gastric bypass.    It helps not only with weight loss, but bad acid reflux (which I have) as well as diabetes.  I don't have that yet though there is a strong family history of it on my mom's side of the family.  I left the one on one feeling better about it and hopeful that this really could be the tool that helps me get my weight under control.   I've really struggled with this for a long time.

So I'm pursing this.   I have various "hoops" to jump through... a letter of support from my primary care physician (and given his notes I don't think getting that will be a problem!)
--a psych eval
--sleep study
... some other tests?

and 4 months of supervised weight loss/nutritional counseling.   And since my one on one counts as month one I could be looking at a surgery date of end of January / beginning of February 2018.*

*As long as I don't miss a visit/month.. if I do I have to start back at month one again.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Finally faced the truth

I know on a cerebral level I've gained weight.   I mean, I see the number on the scale, and know it's WAY (weigh? haha) higher than it was when I was running regularly.

And yet, despite that knowledge I had convinced myself that things really weren't that bad.

Today (Sunday October 22, 2017)... I took pictures.  Or rather had my husband take pictures of me... face, front view, side view back view.   I decided to wear just my exercise capris and a sports bra. 

Let's just say there's no hiding from the camera.  I don't know that I'll post them all... though I have them saved and labeled for posterity.

Here's the face shot.  That's safe enough to post.

Edited to add (10/23)... you know.. I'm going to go ahead and post the other pictures.

It's hard to explain how I feel when I look at these.   No, I'm not happy with what I see.  But at the same time this is reality..and its a beginning.   I am making changes now and exploring an option that I'll go into in another entry.    It's my hope that one day these will be the "befores" that show just how far I've come.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Why 796.424?

Among the many hats I wear is that of librarian. More specifically I'm a public librarian.  (And even more specifically, a children's librarian.)

For the most part, I am assigned to a particular branch, the Laurel branch library in Prince George's county.  It's a fairly new facility (opened to the public 11-28-2016)

But back to "Why 796.424"? Like many public libraries, my system uses the Dewey decimal system. And in Dewey, 796.42 is "Track and Field" and 796.424 is "Long Distance Races".

While I may not be fast** I have learned to my surprise I enjoy the challenge and satisfaction of longer distances. (Nothing against 5ks or less -- but it takes me a mile or two to feel warmed up and in the groove and that's the best part of a 5k.)

** that's especially true these days... that I'm not fast.   At one point I had lost as much as 60 lbs on Weight Watchers, then after being attacked while on a training run (grabbed and groped, fortunately nothing more!)...  it affected my confidence, my ability to run outside and many other things... so I regained all the weight I had lost, plus.  My highest weight ever on my home scale was 279.6 (4-17-2016) 

This past year (2017) has seen me go down about 30 lbs, then gain most of that back.  (A doctor's office recently put me at 272.6 on 10-16-2017... by comparison my own home scale the day before said 269.6.   I believe the 3 lb difference is from weighing naked at home vs fully clothed (with shoes) at the doctor's office.

So this blog now is to document my progress as I work to lose weight and regain my running speed and mojo.  I am literally starting from square 1 (though it feels like square zero or even negative one!!)  I need to work on everything -- diet and exercise.   I intend to start with walking, then run/walk.   I want to get back to running... then running 5ks, 10ks, half marathons... and I do have it in mind that one day I will run a full marathon.   That's 26.2 miles or 42.195 kilometers for you non-running folks.

So that's why 796.424.... the Running Librarian. ;)