Monday, July 23, 2012

Reporting For Duty

I wish I was a more diligent blogger but the truth about myself, that I accepted almost a decade ago is that I am a habitual procrastinator and I don't like deadlines.  It was something I was forced to accept when I considered my career path and the reality of being a successful writer.  I thoroughly enjoy long as it  is when I want and about what I want.  It's not that I can't write about anything.  I've found I have a gift for turning words even. It's just that my motivation is not there to finish something and as a writer with would not have realistically worked out.  Burn out was inevitable.  Having tasted the forbidden fruit, I will find myself committing to a writing project that I am doomed to disappoint on.  For that, my ever faithful supporters, who read all my manic posts, blogs, and watch my randomly painful vids, I thank you.  Every once in a while I surprise even myself and come through on time.

That being said, I want to catch you guys up on where I'm at in being the Fat Girl no more.  It has been 11 weeks since surgery.  Being as I am a Scorpio, with a surgery date of 05/11th and doggedly fixated on 2011(so much so I am STILL correcting charts where I've written it) perhaps this is my week :)

As a reminder, my heaviest weight was 381lbs.  I was in a size 5x scrubs, 28-30W in plus sized clothing. I am being gentle because, in honesty, I was beginning to have to butter my gut and hips to slip into some of those 28s.  I was having problems carrying around the weight on my nursing floor which is physically taxing to just about any body for 13 hours a day, healthy or not.  From previous history I had lost my right kidney due to a staghorn kidney stone that was left undiagnosed/treated for way too long.  This combined with hardcore protein loading diets over the past five years had completely crashed my metabolism and my thyroid glands were in crisis.  I had early onset of type II diabetes following in the footsteps of my mother and grandmother, both of whom eventually were placed on dialysis and inevitably dealt with heart problems (hardening of arteries) secondary to their long term struggle with the disease.  My grandmother Julie, after years of dialysis and a kidney transplant succumbed to a heart attack when I was 13 years of age.  My mother now, has had eight heart stents placed to prevent this from happening to her, has been told she needs a bypass but discouraged due to her poor health.  Did I mention both of my predecessors had both their kidneys and I only have the one?

On my father's side I have the sickle cell trait, which can have physical symptoms similar to the disease  itself and does wreak havoc with your blood/anemias.  I also have heart disease and hypertension, which makes a wonderful combination with the prolonged diabetic symptoms.  I have sleep apnea, apparently passed down from my grandfather who literally dropped dead of a massive heart attack when I was only 4 and he was 61.  My grandmother Mary and now my only blood related aunt on my father's side were both diagnosed in their early to mid 50s with not just breast cancer but an aggressive breast cancer inappropriately titled "Triple Negative" that takes aggressive chemotherapy and radiation to cure and also has a 75% chance of returning in the 3-5 years after the initial diagnosis.  You become close friends with an oncologist because regular check-ups are a must as metastasis to other organs like your brain are quick to happen and common to occur.  There is a good chance whether I lose weight or not that I may have this battle looming in my future but being overweight makes it 50% more likely.  After I realized I was not infallible with the stunning loss of my right kidney at 29 I took a good long look at myself on my 30th birthday.  I decided two things:  I was way too unhealthy to be so young.  If my family's life expectancy was 55-60 years of age then I was "middle aged" and I had done nothing with my life.

For the following two years I worked on etching out my nursing career.  I have stopped then started school more than I care to discuss.  I became chemo certified and had hopes of following that with oncology certification.  It has not happened and is partially responsible for my extended hiatus during my weight loss.  I realized at some point, as nonconfirming as I have always tried to be of society's expectations of an overweight black woman from the south, my unconventionality was doing nothing for my career.  No matter what accomplishments I strived for and achieved I would always be seen as someone lacking, needing something more because of my obesity.  In my twenties I thought I had a complex or an insecurity towards my weight.  I do not.  I have been overweight every single day of my life.  It is harder for me now, adjusting to people telling me how beautiful I am and even sexy than it ever was to be big and confident.  No, we as a society have a complex, particularly in healthcare, where we view overweight people as disgusting, repulsive, unattractive, and frankly ignorant.  It has never helped that I love to smile and laugh (read previous blog).  Many of my coworkers think I just wandered into nursing, that I should be so grateful that my current director puts up with me, and that I should ride this job as long as I can with a huge grateful grin because with a drying up economy and looking the way I did I would be lucky to ever get anything better.

I will validate those claims only with the following sentences and then continue with my purposeful and pointed silence on these points.  I was raised by my mother solely as the oldest of three children and her only daughter.  My father was murdered when I was only 8 years old.  The only support and structure in my life, my Grandmother Mary, died after fighting an extensive and senseless battle with cancer when I was only 15.  I have been molested by two of my mother's boyfriends before that tender age of 15.  I single handedly built my career both as a loan agent and then all over again as a nurse, which I have wanted to be since I was 15 and my grandmother advised me to become in some of the last words she ever said to me.  I put myself through school over the last decade plus and I did it one class at a time.  I have struggled with the brutal murder of my brother that resulted in him being returned to us in pieces. When I say I dealt with it, I was forced to arrange his funeral and burial with his headstone by myself with no insurance and not a penny to my name, my mother too distraught to deal with it.  All at the age of 22.  I continued to pursue loose ends to his disappearance and do to this very day all while knowing his killer is free and unpunished and in the eyes of many people it is just something I need to "accept" because of the life he chose to live which was that of a petty drug dealer. I have fought to hold on to my baby brother as he has had his own tangles with the law and the unemployment line.  I have even taken on the additional responsibility of Aunt/Guardian Angel to a nephew brought into the world by two of the most irresponsible people I've ever met.  Nothing has ever been given to me that I haven't had to pay back and often time three fold.  I am a self sufficient person in the highest sense of the words who has recreated and adapted to many situations that would have taken out someone that is not as God centered, intelligent, resourceful, or nearly as strong as myself.  These words are not my pity party.  I feel God would not have painted for me a life with so many colors if it didn't make such a breathtaking picture.  I am the contradiction to EVERY stereotype and I am proud of that fact.  Where I am, I got myself there, holding only His hand and there has been no luck involved seeing as all mine is bad.  No, I have worked hard for every minute of it and any blessings I "walk into" are the destination on a both narrow and treacherous path I have been chosen by Him to walk.  I don't owe people an explanation on the fruits of my labor be I 175 or 375lbs.

So I stopped blogging for a minute and felt unmotivated to post progress because I didn't feel like those in my life, family, coworkers, etc wish me well but were rather anticipating my fall.  Why should I set up the stage, sell the tickets, and give a performance just so everyone could throw tomatoes?

Again, here I am at my 11th week though and I see that I am cheating myself more than anyone in this experience.  I want a chance to look back on this from the other side and see how I got over the largest mountain of my life, my struggle with taking care of myself.  I want my future husband and children to be able to watch a "fat mommy" video and realize that this was not something I just decided on a whim, nor was it without pain or effort.  I look in the mirror and wonder how I could have allowed myself to become the monster I see and yes, I still see an unhealthy blob monster.  I am now 313lbs and think the scale is broken, to the point I have two at home and have snuck onto the one at work.  I wear a snug size 26 and I still hear a voice in the back of my head telling me it's the cut of the fabric. My sleep apnea continues to improve and will probably be gone at the 100lb mark.  I have had to stop all my medications as my blood pressure and blood sugar is low and I am looking forward to labs in September.  I am not delusional toward the fact that this is still my "honey moon phase" though.   I stay awake at night anxiously chewing my lip with a glazed expression as the doubts take over on whether or not I can do this or in complete panic that the weight I've lost will come falling back on me the same way one of those upstairs safes fall from a window like in the cartoons.  The battle is hardly over and wont be for many years to come, probably not ever.  I am excited to be down and will always be happy to discuss my surgery prep and outcomes with anyone willing to listen as a testimony to becoming a better person, however you see fit to pursue that.

I have ordered a camcorder and will try to post a video before the week is over.  I will try to be more diligent with my blog post but above all, if you don't hear from me for another spell, know that I am in the pursuit of my own happiness in love, family, and career.  Know that I AM a happy soul for 90% of my life and these demons are not winning.  Lastly, know that while I have shaped and molded my life on my own I do know that there are people cheering me on and that by doing so you have been such a comfort and reinforcement in all of this.

Keep believing and keep encouraging.  With love,

Fat Girl