Life is a Gift

Fair warning: This post talks about scary doctor-y things. Including my period. If you don’t want to know me that well, don’t read on. 

I’m a fairly open and honest person when it comes to weight loss and healthy living. I share the goods, the bads, the ins, the outs. Yet, there are some things I still don’t talk write about often. Because, quite frankly, they scare me.

Me in February 2009

In February 2009, I was still six months away from the toilet seat biting me in the butt and nudging me to take control of my own life.

I share this picture not because this journey is all about my size. I share this picture because it’s an illustration of the way I treated my body.

My obesity was wreaking havoc on my body. And it was giving me signs left and right. For the longest time, I was just too stubborn to recognize them and too scared to listen.

The very first sign should have been when I was in high school and was having problems with my right eye. I had very little peripheral vision, and it kept getting worse. And terrible headaches were interrupting my life. After lots and lots of tests and visit with specialists, I was put on a low-cholesterol diet (or at least told to go on one  — but when I said the list said “no cheese,” I said “no way.”).

The second, more life-altering sign came weeks after graduating college and getting my first “real” job. Pains in my abdomen were keeping me up at night. The doctor told me the pains in my stomach were from my gall bladder. And, oh yeah, I’d need to have it removed. I was 21.

People who are overweight or who are trying to lose weight quickly are more likely to get gallstones. ~WebMD

What’s more, the ultra sound they did showed that my liver was surrounded by layers of fat. Enough that it worried the doctor.

At 22, I finally started seeing a doctor for “female” things. Mainly because I wasn’t getting my period as I should. It came when it wanted. Sometimes every month. Sometimes once a year. And when it did, it was misery — major cramps and significant bleeding. The doctor was quite concerned — and certain that my weight obesity was a contributing factor.

When I was 23 years old, my doctor finally convinced me to have some blood tests. (If you know me at all, you know that I hate needles. So much so that the mere thought of a teeny tiny TB-test needle causes me to stress out and lose sleep.) The results of the tests weren’t pretty.

My cholesterol test read like that of someone much later on in years. Every single measurement was WAY outside the “normal” range. My triglyceride levels alone? 276. Normal is less than 149.

And my sugar levels? Teetering on the very edge of diabetes. And with a family history of diabetes, this sent me into a panic. The doctor prescribed Metformin.

I was well on my way to a heart attack and diabetes. Or worse. And I was just one doctor’s appointment away from medication that I’d have been on the rest of my life.

The doctor ordered me to come back for more tests in six weeks — there was no way a 23-year-old could have cholesterol numbers that high, and she wanted to be sure before she started me on cholesterol medication. But I didn’t go back. Because if you ignore scary things, they stay hidden under the bed. Right?

The fact that, after seeing those numbers, it still took my five years to get my crap together is shocking. The fact that I didn’t have even more complications from living that life? Even more shocking.

Then there was my mental health. I was sad. A lot. Even when I wasn’t. I didn’t like myself. And I just knew no one could like me either. So I settled for unhealthy friendships. And I settled for less than I now know I’ve always deserved.

But, when that toilet seat bit my tuckus, something finally clicked — and it wasn’t just the toilet locking in on my right cheek. And I am so grateful that it did. I sought help to lose weight; I sought help to build strength; I sought help to heal my broken spirit.

And, now I can proudly report that every single one of my blood tests have come back well within the “healthy” range. I’m not on any sorts of medication to deal with cholesterol or blood sugar. My resting heart rate is that of an elite athlete. My blood pressure is “textbook normal.” I am “the picture of health.”

So, you see, when I wake up and remind myself — and the world — what a blessing it is to be alive, I’m not trying to be annoying. I really mean it. I was on a very scary path. And I’m lucky it was never worse than it was. Sure, I lost an organ. But it could have been so much worse.

Life is a gift that I never want to take for granted.

Happiness

I am so happy to have this life. And I promise to never forget what a valuable gift it is.

When people hear about my weight loss, they often respond with the “yeah, buts.” “Yeah, but …” hiring a trainer is expensive … buying healthful foods costs too much … leading a healthy life is just no fun. And I can’t help but think of how close I was to having thousands of dollars in prescription medication and doctors keeping me alive. That surely doesn’t sound very much fun either.

“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.”  ~Danny Kaye

Also, I feel as though I need to add a reminder that this is only my PERSONAL experience. And I’m not an expert. Please, please talk to your doctor before starting any health or fitness routines. And listen to what they have to say. 

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Life is a Gift

  1. Vera Cady

    A great post! Well done for losing all that weight. I know it must have taken a lot of strenght! And thanks for sharing this with others. 🙂

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  2. Well said! Congrats and kudos to you on your healthy achievements! (standing ovation would be present if we were in person…oh, and had people in the room…lol)

    Like

  3. My brother has been doing to “yeah but..” thing lately. He gained a lot of weight recently, I’ve always been heavy. I’ve finally smarted up and am 14 lbs down, but he keeps trying fad diets and failing and giving every excuse possible. It’s frustrating how difficult it is to tell people that dieting really isn’t that difficult!

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  4. Once again, I say how proud I am. But more than that, how happy I am- to have you in my life a healthy person. I love you!

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  5. You… Are…my…Hero… ❤

    Like

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