You know when you feel that something isn’t right, but none of your lab work comes back “abnormal”. Expert here! I grew up fairly active- running up and down the street, playing kickball/dodgeball, jumping rope, playing hula hoop, riding my bike; I was even in tap and ballet for a couple of years. But unlike my skinny kid brother, I was not a skinny kid. We ate a typical southern breakfast of eggs, bacon and white toast with lots of jelly. But no matter what, I seemed to keep gaining weight.
Enter middle school and starting Nutrisystem. Now I would not have been considered “obese” at this point as I pretty much stopped getting taller by the 7th grade; overweight, yes but not obese. I lost probably about 30 pounds or so on Nutrisystem which was a huge confidence boost but I could never get down to the weight that was recommended for my height. Btw the way, I’m 5’3.5″ and yes that half is everything! So I got down to about a size 9 and thought- great, this will be a permanent fix…..but it wasn’t that. How could it be when you’re eating a ton of carbs, pre-packaged foods and drinking skin milk every day? That’s not going lead to better health. And, I was still active; I started running track at this point and could not understand what was going on.
Then high school came and I dropped track though I did try out for field hockey later, but all that running left me exhausted. Not only did the weight slowly start increasing (until 12th grade when it exploded), I also dealt with highly irregular cycles, hirsutism, moodiness – things that I thought were normal until my mom and I came across an article about Stein-Leventhal syndrome, which is now known as PCOS. With the article in hand, we went to the doctor who declared that I did not have it because she had checked before without telling us. So without getting a second opinion, we accepted this answer and I kept gaining weight. And of course the doc kept telling me that I needed to lose weight but never said how I was to do this. As a kid, that’s hard, frustrating and disappointing because I desperately wanted to know how to fix it and for the problem not to get worse.
My eating habits declined while in high school too. That was the era of low cal, sugar free and avoid fat at all costs. Snack? A bag of skittles- decent calories and no fat. A recipe for disaster. Going into college, I was at the highest weight up to that point. Since I had to take physical education, I decided to take classes that encouraged a good workout. Second semester freshman year, I dropped about 25 pounds by working out 5 days a week for at least an hour each time. My biggest weakness? The sweet shoppe with cakes and pies, and the ice milk machine. After that first year, I was basically mentally exhausted with trying to lose weight so I just ate like everyone else around me. Huge mistake, I know but I was super frustrated and a college student on a budget.
My first job was for an HMO and they had an incentive program if you joined the company gym so I did that. And while I didn’t lose a ton of weight, I toned up quite a bit and dropped a size or 2. Short lived because my diet hadn’t changed. All this time, my cycle was haywire – it would skip for months and then I would feel like I was donating blood to the whole city. It even got so bad that my iron level dropped to 6 and I had to have a blood transfusion. None of this helped the emotional or mental health either because when do you have time to consider those when you don’t feel well?
I finally started making changes in 2009 after I lost a job- total low point. I had gotten really sick and went on this crazy antibiotic regime that totally wiped out my system. I was at my highest weight in life, though I didn’t get on a scale then so it was about 270/275 pounds. I just know what size clothing that I wore, combined with the drop in clothing sizes. I lost probably about 50 pounds while unemployed and focused on mental health. Started work and of course, eventually gained half the weight back. I felt like that was a win because at least I didn’t go back to where I started but then I had issues with my hip, knee, joints- at that time, I didn’t know which and neither did my doctor. Fast forward…
I was in my late 30s and OMG now my walking was way off so I had to start physical therapy due to osteoarthritis in both knees. Now, I had found out a year before that I had arthritis but it had progressed to walking challenges. I started doing more research for PCOS and found that a side effect is joint pain. If you don’t know, PCOS is linked with low grade inflammation. Any health issue ending in “itis” is inflammation so I started pushing for more testing for PCOS. And wow, finally, I was diagnosed in 2015 – over 20 years AFTER my mom and I knew there was an issue.
The lessons I learned? Trust your instincts. Do the research. Keep asking questions and go for second opinions. I have found that many medical places don’t seem to want you to be well; they seem to mask the symptoms to have a lifelong customer – you, the patient who can’t seem to improve. That’s when I really started pushing to be an all around health person and not limited to just managing symptoms.
If you've had a similar story and you knew something wasn't quite 100%, share your story or just let me know that I'm not alone in this. Until next time!
One thought on “The Past”
This post is actually alarming, it’s indeed important to keep a check on your health when you start feeling that something is wrong. It’s your body after all. Thanks. Keep writing.
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