Saturday, December 31, 2016

65 lbs down, I beat Type II Diabetes and I want to document it here.

I used to look like this:

August 1, 2015, 250 lbs
And it didn't bother me because I didn't even know I was fat or anything. Actually I felt beautiful and just thought my husband was lame at taking photographs.  I thought maybe the camera was just wrong, or that perhaps my new shirt was a little unflattering, or perhaps I merely needed to try a different hairstyle. 

That's me in the green and glasses, five lbs down from first photo.  Boobs for days and did not care about weight whatsoever!
I did not notice that I no longer had a neck and that my face looked really different or that everything was about to change.

Actually, compared to now, I looked more beautiful then!

My photoshoot at 60 lbs lost. I really don't see that big a difference even though I've lost 5 sizes because I'm wearing the same shirt and it looks the same on me.  I have a neck now and smaller thighs.

Want to know why I was happier in the fat photos?  Because that was the last time I was able to eat whatever I wanted without becoming disgustingly ill or almost dying. Ice cream, chips, bowls of fruit, cheesesteak and all the soda I could drink.  Sure I would have heartburn and sometimes an upset tummy, but that was all.   I just figured that I would be morbidly obese forever and I loved myself as I was, despite not being able to do anything but lay around and eat.

Mysterious Illness

About two months after the first photo I had lost a bit of weight, 10 lbs. This was because I no longer could digest anything without being in constant pain. A trip to the ER and I was diagnosed with fatty liver and GERD and sent home. 

But nobody said a word about my blood glucose being 160 mg/dl.  So I continued to suffer. 

But I also kept losing weight at a steadily slow pace. By my sister-in-law's baby shower in April 2016 I had lost almost 20 lbs.

That's me in the green and stripes. 18 lbs down and thankfully people had stopped asking me if I was pregnant at that point.

I was encouraged by my results on the scale and just accepted I felt terrible all the time because perhaps I was simply getting old.

Then the big bad sick came.

Two months later I came down with bronchitis and a few weeks after that almost died from a stomach bug that wouldn't go away. I also had a rash all over my underarm, was dying of thirst, having hot flashes, and had to pee all the time.

Despite never being told about my high blood sugar in the ER the year before I knew all of these signs pointed to a Type II Diabetes diagnosis.

I just never, ever realized how severe it had already gotten.

I looked amazing.  Who would have guessed that my blood glucose this day was almost 400 mg/dl?

I was on my way to a coma and I had no idea.

Diabetes, Anorexic Behaviors, and Binge Eating

I don't have a lot of photos of me as a teenager. This is because at 5' 5.5" and 115 lbs I hid from the camera and spent all of my time measuring my waist to see if I would allow myself to eat a meal. My parents spent their time and money for a very brief period trying to get me to eat, yelling at me, pleading with me to stop skipping meals. I didn't even look thin. People made fun of me in school and called me fat.  I was simply trying to stay in my ballet costumes. That is why I had the measuring tape in the first place.

After a couple sessions with a nutritionalist I gave up ballet which I was never very good at to begin with and focused on being healthy and strong. In high school I maintained a healthy but high weight of 150 lbs.

I stay out of the sun as well and therefore blend in with the walls. Also more neck than I know what to do with.

However I struggled with my old disordered thoughts and behaviors through the years and while sometimes that would lead me to starve myself other times it would lead me to binge eat. That is how I got to be 250 lbs in the first place.  I coped with my emotions through pizza delivery and Greek takeout.

I never felt particularly good about how I took care of myself whether I was starving, binge eating, or following a sensible nutrition plan. Seeing 368 dl/mg on a blood glucose monitor along with some life events that caused some stress unfortunately turned out to be a major trigger.

For about a week or two after seeing those blood glucose numbers I ate little more than salad and some chicken breast.  I was probably getting about 600 calories a day and I did not care. I was not hungry. I was terrified. I kept seeing out of control high numbers on that blood glucose monitor and I wept in fear that irreversible damage was being done to my internal organs.  

I was so terrified.  34 years old and stuck with something that only gets worse as you get older. I felt like my body had betrayed me and felt guilty that I had betrayed my body. No matter how little I ate I was still seeing numbers around 200 mg/dl.  I cried and cried. And I could no longer use food to cope.

Metformin and Nutrition Plan 

When I could finally get into the doctor and confirm my diagnosis it was such a relief. I was given a very positive prognosis, told that even with an A1c of 9.5 I could turn the whole thing around. My nutrition plan allowed for 100g-150g of carbohydrates per day broken up into small meals and snacks. I was given 1000 mg of Metformin to take daily and was told to see him again in three months.

Seeing the numbers decrease each morning on the blood glucose monitor allowed me to stop starving myself and begin using nutrition as the building blocks for creating a strong, healthy body. I no longer felt the fear of food since I only had to limit my carbohydrates to a reasonable amount and get 30 minutes a day of movement in. I no longer felt the desire to binge eat because I kept googling photos of diabetic feet to remind myself how I got here.

I had many strategies to keep me on track:

1. The Plate Method
I found counting carbs at first to be a daunting task, especially when eating at diners and having a life, so being able to visualize how a healthy meals was supposed to look allowed me live my life without reporting everything on MyFitnessPal.

2. Bumblebee Tuna Snack On The Run!

A convenient 300 calorie meal under 30 carbs that I can add veggies and fruit to?  Don't mind if I do!

3. Climbing Stairs
I used exercise to deal with my blood sugar and stress levels. Too hot to go for a walk? Climb stairs for a couple of minutes. Angry at coworker's annoying ways?  Take it out on the stairwell! Feeling sorry for yourself? Act out It's The Hard Knock Life on the stairwell like in Annie!

Narcotics Anonymous World Services has a daily reading on their website. I have always found that literature to be helpful in any struggle I am facing. As an agnostic the idea of a God of my understanding is a comforting way to let go of things that I need to let go of and give them to a higher power whether that higher power is a deity, nature, or just my cat.

Had I known how great life would be once my blood sugar was managed I would have been more insistent about my health.

I had stopped blogging here because I felt depressed and hated myself. I turned to food for comfort and quickly lost all my energy.  All I wanted to do was sleep all the time and lay around.  Soon that was all I could do without being winded.  Even when I was really trying to lose weight it was slow going and I felt exhausted and terrible.

The week I went on Metformin I felt an immediate change in how I felt.  I had spring in my step. I could do stairs.  I could run stairs. I felt like dancing. I could breathe easy and I felt young again. Where my bloodstream previously felt like cement I now felt it pulsing through me. I felt good.

I honestly don't think I could have done this without Metformin.  I was too exhausted and my blood sugar was too high.

Over the next three months I watched my stomach and chest shrink, my pants fall off, my body get stronger, and my numbers resume to normal.

And I watched the scale drop below 200.

September 2016

And on a cold night in late November 2016, after spending two days fainting and having my organs begin to shut down I was taken off of my diabetes medicine for good.  

A month later and my numbers continue to be in the normal range. I have plateaued at 185 lbs, 33 lbs higher than what is considered healthy. I don't care. I have my health back, something I hope to never, ever take for granted.

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