Recovery from Food Addiction

there is hope…

Some know my story, others may not due to the many, many pages to sort through here so here is a little recap…

Back in September 2009 when my husband took sick, I sat helpless wondering how in the world I was going to take care of him.

Here I was well over 600lbs. (I never went to the doctor let alone get on a scale but the Weight Loss team in seeing the pics of me felt I was well over 600 lbs. So, I always took my weight loss from 600 with a plus in mind.)  I was a diabetic, on 170 units of Humilin L insulin- two full needles a day. I had high blood pressure, Cholesterol problems, under active thyroid (all 3 UN-diagnosed at that time). I also had a large hernia where my gut (intestines) was fully outside of my abdominal wall. I was on EI at the time due to the restaurant I worked had closed down due to bankruptcy in January that year. I was not in good health and never went near a doctor if I could help it.

So in September 2009, focusing on my own husbands diagnoses; cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I put my focus on him and went on the diabetic diet with him for support.  After total penectomy, lymphadenectomy, good pathology report, heart attack, stent, bankruptcy, reoccurring tumor, metastasis to lungs, radiation, home for a month, then back in hospital; my husband died on July 14th 2010.

Having watched him fight for health I knew I had to continue in getting better myself. I eventually went to my husbands’ doctor who agreed to take me on.  She sent a referral to a surgeon to see about my hernia repair because when I landed in emerge Jan 2009, I was told I could die if I landed in emerge with any complications. Doctor filled out forms for CP Disability.

When I seen the surgeon, he felt Truro wasn’t equipped to fix the size of my hernia and referred me to a surgeon in Halifax. Dr Ellsemere. Little did I know he was the Weight Loss Surgeon for NS.

It was Feb 25th  2011 I seen Dr Ellsemere . I had accepted a cancellation appointment. Due to my grave condition and comorbidities I was triaged into a cancelled appointment. When I seen Dr E I was 431 lbs. I had lost almost 169lbs PLUS by following the diabetic diet.

When Dr E asked me if I was committed, I was so pissed. Did he not hear me say I have lost weight? Afraid to speak up, I gave a weak “yes, I think so”.

He then said He was going to put me into the Weight Loss program, I would lose 30lbs and then he would do weight loss surgery. Then when I got to 250, he would fix my hernia. He said the bonus to all this would be Id get a tummy tuck too!!

So, I went home; a lil poisoned because he questioned my commitment, so I immediately downloaded all the NSWLP files and studied them. I then jumped on the bandwagon and worked like a fool. Slowly I got into walking and all the trial diets.

By June I had my info session into the weight Loss Progrm. I was down to 367.  Thinking I would be able to have WLS because I had gotten 30 lbs off, WRONG. Since now in the WLP I had to jump through more hoops and follow more diets and lose weight to prove myself AGAIN.

I continued on. I was exercising to the extreme. Hindsight, far too much. With the “hoorays” and many well “done’s”, and the praise I was on a high… my new feel good. I was focused on the scale totally. By the morning of my weight loss surgery on December 7th, I was 237lbs. Dr E had asked me if I still wanted WLS and afraid he wouldn’t fix my hernia and give a tummy tuck I said yes.

In March of 2012 I had my hernia repair. But due to complications of them finding gall stones the size of golf balls and a tumor on my ovary the size of a softball, and fitting my intestines back into my abdominal cavity, they couldn’t put in a mesh nor remove excess skin due to possible cross infection due to multiple surgeries in one. 

In the time from my surgical repair to June, I felt something was happening. I thought perhaps my hernia had popped. I felt pressure above and in the skin that hung where my hernia used to be. I felt something large but it felt a bit different from before.

So, the end of June I had my 3rd surgery in 6 months. I was to get a mesh put in and a tummy tuck. MSI wouldn’t cover a plastic surgeon, but my surgeon assured me that he did know how to do it. 

When I woke, I was told no mesh was put in for he felt my repair was solid. They did find a rather large tumor in the excess skin which they had to remove (what I had actually felt). I was cut down the middle and straight across the bottom. 78 staples with 2 drains.  I was a sight. 

As I healed and was seen for removal of staples in a graduated fashion, I felt continued pressure atop of my incision. I voiced my concerns each time but felt unheard. I felt totally defeated. The pressure laying on my top incision was huge.  Being cut straight across I had two flaps of skin dragging on either side bigger than my own breasts.  Somehow in my mind this wasn’t what I was expecting as a pannectomy.

With each visit to remove staples I would mention my discomfort and pressure I was feeling. The excess skin that laid on top of my incision I felt was causing the pressure. Still no response. In between each appointment my nibbling began to increase and like a fool I started running to compensate… not to mention I walked 15 k a day, was dancing and swimming.

At my last appointment I was 206lbs. As I washed myself that morning, I saw in the mirror my rib cage sticking out and my fingers could go between each rib. For a moment I was shocked and horror ran though me. But it was immediately replace with no, I am not at a normal BMI.

At my last appointment, when I was told there was nothing more that could be done for me except refer me to a colleague who did abdominal resizing, I went away feeling broken, cheated and unheard…a lot of neg triggers from my past clicked in side of me and I snapped.

I went into an all-out binge of vast proportions.

First stop was Tim Horton’s… for anything I could get my hands on. I went to the grocery store bought cookies donuts candy ice cream chips…anything in my sight. I started and couldn’t stop. If you think a sleeve cant be used to consume this much…think again.

I can remember standing by the kitchen counter shoving oreos and fudgeos into my mouth one after the other bawling my eyes out because I COULD NOT stop. My sleeve really accepts junk food easily. I would slow down some on the denser items, only to start up again. I was out of control and couldn’t stop.  Then when I seen a 20 lb gain within a few days, I felt a total failure.  I went into a severe depression. Stayed away from everyone, couldn’t sleep, wouldn’t go out, sent my son to the store for everything I wanted. I wouldn’t answer the phone.

I stared at the insulin bottle wondering how much I needed to take so I could end this, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it to my son. I would sit and bawl not knowing what I could do. I felt helpless. I knew I had a doctor’s appointment coming up, part of me wanted to cancel it…thank God I didn’t. I cried in her office that day, that I needed help. She sent a referral in to mental health.

I got an appointment in 3 days.  It was an assessment though, wait time was 11 months to be seen. My heart sank. They did offer weekly sessions of an 8 week take charge class. It did get me out of the house. Since I signed up, I felt I had to go.

They then had a CBT program with a psychologist for 8 weeks. I took that. I at least got to see a psychologist for a few one on one sessions. I felt hopeful. I came to realize in the one on one sessions that my goal of reaching a normal BMI was unrealistic. That in fact if I had all excess skin removed I more than likely would be underweight. I then remembered the surgeon telling me I should be proud that I had absolutely no fat and very little subliminal fat. I then remembered washing myself the last surgical appointment and I saw my rig cage sticking out and I could place my fingers between my ribs…for a split second it scared me but I shrugged it off for I felt I needed more weight off. My head was in need of readjusting.

After being discharged, I felt fear run through me. In desperation I went to a local Woman’s Resource center and took their programs; Self Esteem, Healthy relationships, Loving yourself, Healing the Inner child, Writing classes, Emotion Classes.; anything they gave I took. I also took a course mental Health gave on Depression and Mindfulness. Each program helped, yet fear remained.  I even went to a 12 step meeting but as soon as I heard Abstinence, I ran.

In weighing myself and seeing me at 315 I was scared. What is going on?  I was scared to get back into walking too much, scared to start the liquid diet because I didn’t trust myself.  I felt really hopeless. My brother was having a one-year sobriety party and in talking to him, he suggested I should try a 12 step meeting. So, I did. I must say my time there I definitely was able to apply the steps with my eating and my cravings were gone.  Then 2 years later something surfaced and I felt unsafe in the program so I left. I joined another 12 step group to read, but I still was uneasy about abstinence. I soon realized that my eating disorder ran deep and being put on diets at an early age restriction was the root of the abstinence fear.

Again, cravings and binges resurfaced and subsequent regain.

This Easter in seeing a picture of myself it was an eye opener. I felt I was gaining; I knew I was. In being honest and looking back the past months I was totally out of control.

In getting out the scales I cringed. I was 375 lbs. A 169 gain from my lowest. I felt a total failure…I needed to do something. I couldn’t go backwards any more.

OK I thought, I can do this… I will get on my limited choice diet plan and the weight will come off. WRONG. Monday started out great…yeah til lunch. OK OK so I will start again tomorrow. So, Tuesday, I started again… Surprise…by lunch I was at it again.

As I laid in bed that night I was in tears. I felt hopeless. I felt powerless. My life in shambles. I knew before long I’d probably be back on insulin and high blood pressure meds. I then remembered the 12 step program and cried out to my HP for help.

The next morning, I woke with a new outlook. I made my plan of eating and listed my trigger foods. I made a commitment to attend meetings, find a sponsor and work the program.

I am happy to say I am 39 days abstinent and have lost weight… I feel it. I can’t keep focused on the scale, I need to focus on my program and heal the things that lead me to rely on food to cope…and change what I need.  I weight monthly and my son hides the scale otherwise lol

I am an addict. I know this. Thank God I have found help, hope and peace from my addiction/eating disorder..

You may ask, why share all of this here. Well when I joined the Nova Scotia Weight Loss Program, their downloads stated, “If you have eating disorders or issues you MUST get them seen to”. Feeling I was just an emotional eater and had a plan of action I was good as gold.

Little did I realize I was on a transference from eating to exercising and losing weight. When the chips were down, my addiction reared its ugly head and resurfaced. My main coping mechanism resurfaced. They may have removed 80% of my stomach but not my head. The denial and lies I told myself was mute until I was faced with my own truth.

I hope from telling my story that it may help another who struggles with food. Regardless if a person has WLS or not, in not dealing with the root of an addiction nothing will solve weight issues successfully.

Find the help you need. Reach out… I know it is hard, but it is necessary for recovery. There is hope…

Love to you all on your journey <3

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