Wednesday, February 06, 2013
My Weight Loss Journey
I feel like I have spent all my adult life trying to lose weight. I first started to gain weight at age 27 when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. During my pregnancy I gained 70 pounds and I even tried Weight Watchers because I was gaining so much weight. Early in my pregnancy I quit smoking and I found myself snacking instead of smoking. Working in the oilfield also added to my problem; odd hours and isolated locations made healthy eating impossible. Besides the long hours, the isolated locations, and the lack of healthy eating I was working a man’s job and since none of the guys had ever been pregnant, there was no precedent for my bosses to follow concerning my pregnancy. My doctor would tell me I needed more rest, which I would in turn tell my boss. Instead of rest I would get more hotshots and more jobs that took longer to complete. I gave up and quit asking for more rest.
I had my second daughter in February 1984 while I was working as a grocery checker. In contrast to my first pregnancy, I only gained 19 pounds. My baby was 9 pounds 3 ounces and after delivery I had lost a total of 28 pounds. Even though I was overweight, I felt great. My recovery from the cesarean section was pain free and I was very active afterwards. Afterwards I tried Weight Watchers again and once again lost only a few pounds. My third daughter was born by cesarean section in December 1986. My weight when I entered the hospital was 306 pounds. That was the most I had ever weighed.
I would like to blame my weight gain on the pregnancies, but honestly how much of that is really baby (and placenta)? Once the baby is born, then who do you blame it on? I made the decision to try harder to lose weight after I had my youngest daughter. I remember feeling heavy and my recovery seemed to take a little longer than my previous pregnancies. So, I entered a weight loss journey that would last for more than 20 years. Over the next several years I tried these weight loss methods:
- Weight Watchers – I must have joined and rejoined 20 times. I found I could lose weight with one counselor or another, but when they left or were otherwise replaced, my weight would start creeping up again. Eventually I dropped out along with most of the others in the group.
- Nutri-System – admittedly the only weight loss effort I felt I actually lost weight on. I lost more than 50 pounds, down to less than 250 pounds. Six months after I quit I gained it all back, plus more. Why did I quit? The local office replaced the trained counselor with a 17 year old high school student who had never been overweight in her life.
- Jenny Craig – lose 10 pounds, gain 10 pounds, lose 4 pounds, gain 12 pounds. You never knew from one week to the next who your counselor would be, it was just like Nutri-System. If you were lucky, you might see someone with some real training.
- Texas Medical Weight Loss – weight loss program supervised by doctors that I participated in for many years. I tried phen-fen which worked to some extent for a short period of time. Then I tried a laundry list of other prescription weight loss pills supervised by a doctor including Xenical (now Alli) and Meridia. Although I do not remember the names of all the types of medication I tried, I do remember that one prescription cost me $200 for a one month supply and I lost 2 pounds. While I tried every combination of weight loss drugs and still did not lose weight, the doctor explained that some people just do not respond to weight loss drugs and apparently I was one. I decided to take a break from trying to lose weight.
- I went to a gym and did treadmill, bicycle, rowing, and weights.
- I did splash aerobics and aqua-cise at the local YWCA.
In early 2000 my husband and I separated and I started to gain weight and was diagnosed with depression. Six months after my separation my weight was 366, blood pressure was 225/190, and my blood sugar was also elevated. I was put on medication for blood pressure, diabetes, and depression. I lost some weight over the next few years, and in 2004 my weight was 324 pounds. I managed to keep my weight around 330 for the next several years but recently I started to gain weight again.
This brings me to where I am now. I do not know my weight, but I would imagine it is about 350-360 pounds. In November 2009, I made the decision to pursue weight loss surgery. When I had my first appointment with Dr. Patel my weight was 345 and the doctor said I would need to lose 15 pounds before my surgery. At my next weigh in, I had gained 15 pounds. Gah! Then my insurance company notified me that they would not pay for my surgery. In my frustration, I started eating. The doctor’s office told me not to worry they would work with my insurance company. Medicare requires the patient to complete 6 months of supervised weight loss prior to surgery. I was going to Dr. Patel’s for weigh ins when my insurance company called me to tell me that they would not pay for those office visits. Instead I would need to see my primary care physician for 6 months before I would be eligible for surgery. This roller coaster of yes they will, no they won’t, yes they will, no they won’t has not helped my weight loss at all. I am an emotional eater and all the added drama has only helped to add to my problem.
I worked with Dr. Acebo, my primary care physician, for the 6 month supervised weight loss program. I had hoped that by this time next year I would have had the surgery, and been through a few months of recovery. But that did not happen. Instead the Insurance Company started to add more criteria to the qualifications and started to disallow my completed criteria because they were completed more than 2 years ago.
I am still excited about what I can accomplish through the surgery, I am just discouraged about the insurance. I am hoping that before the end of the year I will be about 75 pounds lighter. I am eager to get past the high blood pressure, the diabetes, the sleep apnea, and any other medical problems I have that are associated with my weight. In addition, because I have problems with my back I am hopeful that weight loss will also relieve some of that pain and I will be able to walk more – hopefully without the walker. If I have to use the walker, I am still hopeful I will be able to walk with less pain than I have now. More than anything, I want to be able to spend more time with my grandchildren and I want to be more physical with them – and spend time with them at the park or the beach.
-- Update: My weight was up to 356 in June 2012. I was approved for the surgery - Roux-en Y - in September, 2012. On surgery day 10/15/2012 I had lost 54 lbs. I do not take any more blood pressure medication or metformin for diabetes. Also, I haven't had any sleep apnea problems. I still have problems with my back, but the pain is less severe than before.