Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Good Novel....

Disclaimer - This is my story, and it is very long. I guess this blog really brings out the writer in me. I know this is not perfect and I bounce around a lot but I hope you can get some insight into my life and my ups and downs of weight loss. I have shared a lot of very personal information that I have never shared with anyone. Yes, I know it is hard to believe that I actually haven't shared ALL of my thoughts with my family. There are several points that I expand on quite a bit, but it all ties into my weight problems eventually. Hang in there.

Get ready to read a novel... there is a lot of history involved and for those of you that have read my "100 things about me" I am very long winded. Although I think most people who are reading this blog know me and already know that :). Anyway, those of you who knew me in High School and while I was attending BYU knew that I used to be addicted to exercise. As I look at my "Before" picture I find it hard to believe that that person even knows the word exercise. In High School I was obsessed with working out. I would get up at 4:00 in the morning before seminary and work out to Gilad (aerobics) for 1 1/2 - 2 hours each day. I had no problem walking to school or home from work. It was exercise and I loved it. I loved the "high" I got from it. Nothing else felt so good. I loved to feel the burning in my legs as I did squats. I loved to feel the burning in my stomach as I did the killer ab workouts. I loved the feeling of being sore the day after a good work out. I even loved the good sweat I would achieve from a hard work out. It was great. What I loved most was the compliments I got on my body, mostly on my legs. Daily I would have people comment on what nice legs I had. I specifically remember one day in my school dance class, all the other girls were standing in awe as I moved across the dance floor in my leotard. Everyone was commenting on how tone I was. Isn't this every girls dream to have other girls "oooooing and awing" over their body? This just gave me more motivation. The only thing is that I wanted to be thinner. Yes, I was pure muscle but I was a size 8, and to me, that was fat. I didn't really care what I ate because I exercised so much and I was young so it didn't really matter in my mind. What did matter to me was my size. I was truly addicted to exercise. Just a quick side note: I don't want anyone to think that I ever thought of being anorexic or bulimic. I love food too much and I can't stand throwing up.

Those same habits of exercise and eating horribly continued through college. In fact I became more muscular and toned while in college. The fact that I didn't have a car helped more than anything. I continued my 2 hours of aerobics a day. I picked up hiking which I loved and walked everywhere. I also took a racquetball class for P.E. and a tennis class. I was definitely getting my exercise. I would still get comments on my legs ect, but what did I think about myself? You guessed it "I am fat". Well my after my freshman year I decided to stay at BYU for the spring and summer term. At that time I got a job at the BYU Creamery. I still continued to exercise like crazy, but developed the habit of having ice cream everyday. If not more than once a day. I mean I had to be able to tell the customers if a particular flavor of ice cream was good or not. Plus, I had to help the guys in the back sample the ice-cream before it was frozen to make sure it tasted good too! And the Creamery made over 30 different kinds of cheeses so I had to also sample all of those. I just kept exercising like crazy and there was no problem with me gaining weight. I still considered myself fat though. When I look at pictures of me from college now, I think "Wow I was skinny".

Over Labor Day weekend of 1995 I got a group of friends together for an early morning 15 mile hike. We met at my apartment at 6:00 a.m. and everyone was excited to get going. I was especially excited because I had a brand new pair of hiking boots I was ready to try out. Big mistake.... I don't recommend anyone try to break in a new pair of boots on a 15 mile hike. The first 7 or 8 miles wasn't so bad. We reached the top of the mountain range and even had a snowball fight. Yes, that's right there was still snow on the top of the mountain that hadn't melted over the summer. It was in a large shady area and wasn't very soft, but still was fun. It wasn't until I took a break that my feet really started hurting. Once we started up again I could feel all the blisters that were forming. As we started the downhill trek each step became harder and harder. I was so tired and my feet hurt so bad. I thought that I was just tired because of my feet. The last mile was almost unbearable. I was in so much pain and my hips were hurting because I was walking differently trying to compensate for the pain. What was worse, was that I had to work at the Creamery that night from 3-11 p.m. There was no one I could call to cover for me because I was already covering two people's shifts that were out of town. It was Labor Day weekend and everyone was gone for the last big travel before the fall semester started. I went home and when I took off my boots I counted 18 blisters on my feet. It was horrible. I hobbled off to work and did the best I could. 11:00 p.m. couldn't have come any sooner. I went home and went to bed and didn't wake up until 2:00 p.m. the next day. I slept through church and everything. I got up and ate and then went back to bed. I was just so tired. The next day was Labor Day and I had several different events to attend, but I didn't go to any of them. I just stayed in bed and slept all day. Again, I was surprised at how exhausted I felt. I figured it was some kind of virus or something and just took the last day of summer freedom to rest. The next day was my first day of the Fall semester. Again, I woke up tired dragged myself out of bed and went to my 8:00 a.m. class. As I walked up the hill to campus I was totally out of breath. I mean I was really winded. I couldn't believe it, this was a tiny hill that I had been up a hundred times. I walk all over all the time, workout, hike, ride my bike ect and this little hill is kicking my butt.

Two weeks of pure exhaustion went by accompanied by muscle weakness, headaches, muscle spams, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, memory loss, and seeing black spots. I finally went to the Doctor. After 1 1/2 months of tests, x-rays, and more tests he told me that I had Chronic Fatigue. My grades were suffering and even when I did make it to class, I would fall asleep or find myself unable to concentrate. He recommended that I withdraw for the semester and go home and rest. I was devastated yet relieved at the same time. I was relieved to have a diagnosis and know that something was wrong and yet I was devastated to have to leave BYU. The day I left BYU it snowed for the first time that season. I opened the door to my apartment and as the tears ran down my face they stung my cheeks from the cold. I cried the entire way to the airport. I flew into the San Diego airport and it was a bright sunny October day. It was ironic that I left BYU all white covered in Snow and then 2 hours later I was arriving in sunny San Diego, my home, my salvation. A week later my family moved to Sacramento. I was depressed. I had to leave BYU, then I had to leave San Diego and go someplace where I had no friends and knew no one. Finally, I decided I just didn't have the energy to even care.

I went to several doctors in Sacramento. Some said I was just depressed and there was no such thing as Chronic Fatigue. Others said there is such a thing as Chronic Fatigue but nothing could be done. They basically told me it would take years for me to recover. Here I was 20 years old and I felt like I was 80. All I could do was sleep. I couldn't even blow dry my hair after I took a shower because I was so tired. As time went on I did get a little more energy and after about 4 months of doing nothing but laying in bed I got stir crazy. I told my Mom I wanted to get a job. I didn't care what I was going to do I just wanted to get out of the house. I got a job at Judi's Cleaners. It was hard at first and I would barely make it through the day. I would come home and collapse into bed. I would often sleep 12-14 hours, get up work and go right back to bed. I still kept the same eating habits, which were never very good and I really started to gain weight. I gained about 20-30 pounds and that was not good. I was getting discouraged because I just didn't have it in me to exercise. I was too tired. I made a few attempts to go around the block, but they were unsuccessful.

A guy in our ward who does massage therapy told my parents to have me come over so he could try and help me through massage. I went over a few times and after each massage I felt a little better. Then he told me about something called "Super Blue Green Alge". I don't want to go too much into that because I want to focus more on my weight loss, however I did start taking the Super Blue Green Algae as a supplement and with in 3 days I was walking about 2 miles a day. My energy level was back up, I felt great and was ready to conquer the world again. I wasn't able to exercise everyday, but about 3-4 times a week. Better than nothing, but the weight wasn't really coming off. I put a stop to the gain, but I was pretty much just maintaining.

After living in Sacramento for about a year I decided to move back to San Diego. I wasn't ready to go back to BYU yet, but I didn't like Sacramento and missed my friends in San Diego. I moved there and once again, got out of the habit of exercise. I still didn't have very good eating habits and over the course of a year gained about 15 pounds. I would go back and forth with working out, but it was usually walking and I would stick to it for a few months and then give up. Again, I still didn't have the greatest eating habits.

In 1999 I got engaged. That was a good motivator to lose weight and I lost about 15 pounds before I got married. It turned out that married life wasn't so great. My husband at the time was not what I had thought he was and did some pretty awful things. So after only 9 months of marriage I filed for divorce. I used food as my medicine to heal my broken heart. Six months later my divorce was final and I had gained about 25 pounds from the time I was married. I joined Weight Watchers and got a personal trainer at 24 hour fitness. I loved Weight Watchers and it was great to go to the weakly meetings. For me it was nice to be around others that were having the same struggles that I was. It was such a good feeling to get a ribbon when I met certain goals and to have everyone clap for me. It was very rewarding emotionally and rewarding physically. After about 1 1/2 years I dropped 40 pounds. My problem came when I stopped going to the meetings. I wasn't being held accountable anymore so I started to gradually eat more and more junk food and stopped working out. Once again, I gained back some weight. So after a few months I started walking again. I only went a few times a week but it felt good to stop the weight gain and just maintain. The problem is that I was maintaining myself at the heaviest I had ever been.

Over the next few years I would go through my phases of eating right and exercising and then turn around and gain it all back. I would gain it back because I wasn't doing the two most important things. Watching what I ate and exercising. I realized that after my divorce in 2001 is when I really started packing on the weight. I think I was keeping myself fat, so that no one would want to date me and that way I wouldn't get burned again.

So that brings me to moving to Sacramento. Bottom line - I have a very stressful job and I work a lot of hours. It is not uncommon for me to put in a 10-12 hour day with my only break long enough to go through a drive thru. Co-Workers would be going to the store and ask if I would want something. I would say "Sure, bring me a large Dr. Pepper and a donut". I was always craving sweets. I made it a habit when I went to the store to always get a candy bar. Then I made it a habit to buy a bag of candy bars rather than just one. I would go through the drive thru on the way to work, at lunch, and on the way home from work. I would get home and plop down on the couch burnt out and exhausted with a big bowl of ice cream. If I didn't go through the drive thru on the way home from work then I would usually order a pizza to be delivered or send Gideon someplace to get me something to eat. It was never healthy, always full of FAT and CARBS. I was blowing up like a balloon. I felt horrible everyday, I was tired, I had headaches, I felt bloated, I just never felt good. Did I stop my behavior? No, I just kept on gorging myself with food. Trying to make myself feel better by eating everything I could get my hands on. I just couldn't stop.

Early in September I had a life changing experience. It was a Sunday and I had my friend Beckie from San Diego up visiting me. We had gone to church and I wasn't feeling to great, but I thought I was still recovering from the flu that I had that Friday. As evening approached I started getting pain in my lower back on the right side. I had been drinking a lot of water during the day but I hadn't been able to go to the bathroom. I mentioned it to George and Amy and Amy said that it sounded like I might have a bladder infection. I thought "Great, that is all I need. I never feel good, I just had the flu, and now this". I decided I would run to Safeway and get some Cranberry juice and hope it would tide me over until the morning when I could go see my Doctor. While I was at the store I had a sharp piercing in my lower back. It was like someone took a knife and stabbed me. It took my breath away. I started feeling really nauseous and even broke out in a cold sweat. I had to get home and get there fast. I purchased my 4 bottles of Cranberry Juice and of course some soda and ice cream. By the time I got home I was unable to stand up straight I was in so much pain. The pain had started in my lower back and quickly moved to the my lower right side and then to my front. I went to go take a hot bath. Nothing relieved the pain, I took some Motrin and that didn't help. As I was soaking in the bath I thought "What if my appendix is going to burst". My mom has had her appendix removed and I decided to call her and see what the symptoms were. I called my mom and was crying from the pain. She suggested I call the Dr. right away. I did and spoke to the advice nurse. I was in so much pain I couldn't even remember my address. I have never experienced pain like this before. Thankfully I had my wallet close by and looked at my drivers licence for my address. The advice nurse told me to go to the hospital immediately. By now it was almost 8:30 p.m. I felt so bad because I had been ignoring Beckie all afternoon. She was flying out Monday morning and I had to go to the emergency room. I told her goodbye and George took me to the ER.

When we arrived at the ER and I was checked in they told me they needed a urine sample. Well I hadn't been able to go to the bathroom all day, so I told the nurse I didn't think I would be able to give her one. She told me that if I couldn't give her one they would have to put a catheter in. Of course this made me cry and good old George just sat there with me while I cried for over an hour while I waited to go back and see a Doctor. By now I had consumed another 48 oz of water and still could not give a sample. The Doctor examined me and said "I think you have a kidney stone." I was shocked, I couldn't believe it. I thought for sure my appendix was going to burst any moment. Well then I was given a shot to help with the pain and I was able to calm down. In fact, I felt great! I was laying in the hospital bed feeling great. I even was reading a book that I had brought. At that time I sent George home. They had given me an IV which would take 4 hours, plus I had to have a CAT scan and a bunch of blood work done. So I didn't want him to be up all night when he had to work the next day so he went home and I told him I would call when I was discharged. Once the pain was gone and I had the IV I was able to give them my sample. And boy did I give them a sample!! :) Sure enough the CAT scan revealed a kidney stone. And was it a small kidney stone? OF COURSE NOT! It was huge, in fact the ER Doctor told me he didn't think I would be able to pass it. And I also had a Urinary Tract Infection that was most likely caused from the kidney stone. Lucky me! I had to go see a Urologist the following day and he too confirmed that he didn't think I would be able to pass it. He asked if I drank a lot of dark cola's. I told him I did and he said "That has to stop immediately". Cola's can cause Kidney Stones. So I have this large kidney stone that the Urologist doesn't think I am going to be able to pass. So what does that mean? Surgery! I had to wait 10 days with this thing inside me before I could have the surgery. Talk about pain! They equate the pain of a kidney stone to labor pains. I have never had any kids so I don't know if it relates or not, but I know I have never experienced that kind of pain before. I had the Surgery and would love to say that everything was fine. But it wasn't! I had to make two more trips to the ER. I developed an infection from the stint that was placed after surgery. Typical, I mean if the chances are 5% that there could be an infection, I am going to be in that 5%. Too bad it doesn't work that way with the lottery. Anyway, for 72 hours I had a temperature of 104 degrees and above and that is while I was on antibiotics. Having a temperature that high is very painful and quite frankly I was delirious half the time. Finally after my final trip to the ER, they gave me IV antibiotic and that knocked out the infection. This whole ordeal lasted a month!

After spending so much time in the ER waiting and seeing people come in and out I took a good long look at myself. I was severely overweight. I was the heaviest I had ever been. All the weight I had ever lost I had gained back and then some. In fact an extra 40 pounds! It was at that moment that I said to myself - I have to change. If I don't, I am going to be spending the rest of my life in and out of the hospital. I could have a heart attack and die. I am 31 years old and I have a serious problem. I could become diabetic, have a heart attack, have high blood pressure, and the list goes on and on. I don't want to be like this. I need help! I turned to my Heavenly Father in prayer.

Through a series of events over the next two months I was told about Dr. Hendricks. In fact George and Amy both have been to see him, and had been trying for about a year to get me to go see him. All I knew is that George and Amy drank these protein shakes and then had a regular dinner. I said "There is no way I can survive on drinking shakes". I had tried Slim Fast for like 2 days and was miserable and starving. I tried Atkins which is low carb and lasted like 3 days. I was a raging "Witch" with a capital "B" and I had to have carbs in my diet. Finally, a co-worker that I recently hired was telling me how his fiance lost 80 pounds and he was really proud of her. I asked how she lost so much weight and he told me she would drink these shakes. Over the next few days he would give me little tid bits of info, but he didn't really know too much about it. Just that it was high protein. Once again I thought to myself "No way I am going to do any diet that consists of low carbs". I get way to irritable. Well, he finally broke down and called his fiance because it was driving him crazy that he couldn't think of the name of the diet she was doing. I heard him say the name "Hendricks" and my ears popped up. I recognized that name. It seemed to me like George and Amy talked about seeing a Dr. Hendricks all the time. When my co-worker got off the phone he gave me Dr. Hendricks name. I was shocked! I called George immediately and made sure it was the same Dr. and it was. I felt like this was my answer to my prayers. Three different people had told me about him and the fact that he was an actual MD made me feel pretty good. I called his office and they just so happened to have a cancelation for a consultation in two days! I took it! I went to the office and Dr. Hendricks answered all my questions and told me about the program. He shared how he too was once overweight and how he has managed to keep his weight off for over 30 years. I booked my first appointment for a week later, December 6, 2006.

1 comment:

andrea said...

Amy, I'm so glad you wrote down your story. Way to go. This will be fun to read a year from now after your weight loss plan is completed.