Monday, September 6, 2010

On the night before surgery...

Well, this is my "night before" blog. I've been thinking about what to write all day, as well as reading loads of other blogs, but I haven't been able to come up with any profound last words before I go under the knife, so I'm just going to type and see what comes out...

I've been quite consumed with anxiety about it all but not because I'm fearful of the surgery or the anesthetic. Quite the contrary, I don't mind being sedated and having that lovely dreamy feeling when you wake up. I'm not too scared about the pain either, I figure I endured a 39 hour labour when Noo was born, I can endure any pain that I might be inflicted with. What I'm really scared about is what losing weight means to me.

I am at the tail end of what has been a very long, very hard journey that started in 2007 when I had a massive breakdown.  One minute I was living and working in London, the next being admitted to a psychiatric and rehabilitation hospital in Sydney's eastern suburbs. Its been an incredibly hard and bumpy road that has found me here, typing this blog getting ready to be banded to help me shed the fat I've been hiding behind while I heal what have been some pretty heavy emotional scars.

Before 2007 I was a bubbly, funny and energetic party girl. I lived to party and have fun. Then something very bad happened and all that came crashing down. The year that followed was a living hell. I started to self medicate with drugs and alcohol and when I finally came back to Sydney it was to detox to save my life.

Getting sober at first was like being striped clean with bleach. I had nothing to help me hide from the thoughts in my mind and was forced to face what my life had become. I was 32 and I had nothing but a massive UK credit card debt and a serious drug and alcohol problem. I was not the cool party girl/rock chick, in control of her habits, as I had somehow managed to convince myself I was. In those three weeks in the hospital I began to realise I had no idea who I was. Since I was a shy teenager who discovered drinking alcohol gave me the confidence I could never have alone, I had made drinking and partying the central part of my personality. Now that it was gone I was left open like a raw weeping wound without a band aid. 

In the hospital I was put on various medications to help with detoxing and with the deep depression I now found myself in. Over the last three years I have tried eight different anti-depressants and about five different anti-psychotic/mood stabilisers (which I don't need any more). Some of these medications really affect your appetite and by not being able to drink, I was seriously drawn to food - particularly chocolate and any other sweet food.

Chocolate is addictive and affects the same neuro pathways as drugs and alcohol do. With my increased appetite thanks to whatever meds the psychiatrists had me on I became obsessed with chocolate - it was my new cocaine! 

Finally, after four admissions and almost a year to the day of that terrible thing that happened, I found out I was pregnant with my son. It was make or break time. Get sober and live and raise a little baby out the ashes that was my old life or, well, the or just doesn't bear thinking about.

So I was preggers. The first 14 weeks I had horrific morning sickness and couldn't eat so actually lost 13 kg.  I got down to my lowest weight since giving up the booze, etc, and was 83 kg as I headed into the second trimester. By the end of my pregnancy I was completely infatuated with lollies and chocolates and fruit and ice cream and anything sweet I could get my hands on! Most importantly though, I found a new hope and could finally see a future for myself as I fell deeply in love with the little baby that was growing inside me.

By the time Noo was born I was 104kg. In the few weeks and months following his birth my weight never really dropped below 95 kg.  I was hungry all the time. Seriously starving 24 hours a day. I would eat whenever he needed a feed, even throughout the night. My appetite was bigger than it had even been on those horrible mood stabilisers! I complained about it to my doctor and it was just put down to the fact I was breast feeding. I also started to get other symptoms - profusive sweating, sleeplessness, and extreme anxiety. I began to feel like the world was going to end. I had this overwhelming feeling all time of impending doom.

Once again I went back to my GP and I was seeing a psychiatrist weekly but still my symptoms were put down to being a new mother who was breastfeeding. I was also on a massive dose of an anti-depressant which was giving me a strange side effect that my head would experience a buzzing sensation whenever I moved. Both my GP and the psych put it down to anxiety and kept increasing my dose.

By the time Noo was just over 3 months old, I was losing it and finally I was admitted to a psych hospital again to come off my meds to try another type of anti-depressant. As is routine when you get admitted to these places, the hospital's GP ordered a stack of blood tests. I was later called in to see the doctor and told that my thyroid was malfunctioning and was extremely hyperactive, to the point where he thought I might have Graves Disease. I had my laptop with me so was straight on to Google when I got back to my room. Symptoms included, anxiety, fast metabolism causing increased appetite, profusive sweating... I could not believe it! Here I was thinking I had regressed back to the depressed state I was in back in 2007 and what really was the issue was that I had a thyroid problem! 

I was furious to say the least.  I'm still not over it really, will never be, that my doctors did not test my thyroid function given my extreme symptoms. I suffered for about 4 months with a newborn who I was struggling to care for because I was losing my mind. When I finally got to see an endocrinologist I was diagnosed with postpartum thyroiditis. Phew! That was well over a year ago and my recent appointment with the specialist confirmed that the thyroid disease has righted itself and is functioning at normal levels now.

Wow, this has become a much longer entry than I expected but I suppose it goes to how I find myself here, on the eve of my gastric band surgery.

I tried many diets in an attempt to lose the weight I had gained including Weight Watchers (x2), Jenny Craig and two sessions a week with a personal trainer. Still nothing was working, or it would work for a couple of weeks to a month and next thing I knew I was falling into bad habits again.

In one of my stints in rehab I met an alcoholic girl around my age who would eat very little food. I must have asked her about it and when she told me she had a gastric band I was completely intrigued. When my Jenny Craig diet failed last year, I started thinking more about that young woman and began researching all about laproscopic gastric band surgery. I have read everything, I think, there is to read about it, and I knew it was the thing for me.  I know I have a lower BMI than most people who have the procedure but for someone who has been in the overweight/obese category for most of my adult life, I really think its the right thing for me.

So I've been sober two and a bit years and I am the mother of the most wonderful little boy. Getting pregnant got me sober and being a parent keeps me sober.  I don't know if anyone would understand this but being obese also keeps me sober. I hardly ever go out at night and I haven't even thought about another relationship or men in general, since this whole saga began. At the beginning, I was too broken for a relationship, now I'm just too fat. But a healthy relationship is something that I want but it frightens me so much at the same time.

Will losing weight and feeling good about my body be enough to make me want to go out and meet people but also tempt me to drink again? Its a frightening thought but honestly, I don't think so (the drink party I mean, not the meeting people!). Writing this blog has made me realise that. I am so far away from that shell shocked girl that came back from London in June 2007. I am a strong and resilient woman who has come back from the brink of oblivion and I'm ready to let go of this mask, this armour, and let the new and fabulous me come out and shine!

Next time I post I will be banded! It is midnight so I must go to bed.

Vanessa

2 comments:

Josie said...

Hi hun,
You should have been banded by now. I can tell you that over the next few days you will wonder what the fuck have I done? I wont be able to eat steak/bread/things I love in vast qaunities EVER AGAIN! I had this thought. I still do sometimes. But I have founds things that are nice. Salom, fish, little bits of naughty stuff fills my craving normally.
I love this post by the way. I like how you are open and honest, and quite fankly, if you were living in Tassie like me, I'm sure we would become fast friends.
Oh a good (??) thing is you wont be able to exercise for at least 6 weeks, after that start with light treadmill and youwont be able to do a pump class for at least three months. Sounds crazy, but you will soon know what I mean.
Take care hun and keep in touch!! xoxo

The Babbling Bandit said...

Hi Josie

Thanks so much for your comment. I bet that if we both lived in the same city, we would be real life friends not just blogger ones!

If you're ever in Sydney, look me up and I will do the same if I come down to Tassie (something I've always wanted to do).

Keep up the good work, your story is an inspiration for me to follow.

V.

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