Today, I want to tell you a story. My story. Not my whole story, because well that would take more time than I have this Wednesday afternoon, but my story of the last year of my life.
If you keep up with me either through this blog, social media, or in person; then you most likely know parts of what this past year has had in store for me – it’s been a big one.
I first realized something was wrong last summer. My body was changing faster than I could handle but, through it all, despite having everything someone my age could want, I was falling apart. Not just mentally though – I’m talking my entire self was no longer me. When I would wake up in the morning I would feel like I had no sleep at all, I was gaining weight faster than anyone could explain, but when I looked at my daily habits, they were bad but not that bad. Through some detective work, I realized I was struggling with Night Eating Syndrome along with the Binge Eating Disorder I already knew I had. When I would go to sleep at night, I would awake at some point in the middle of the night, unconscious to everything around me, and eat. If I didn’t have food in the house, I would drive to the closest gas station or grocery store… I was putting so many people at risk, and I didn’t even know I was doing it.
When the realization of how serious my disorders had become hit me, I cried for days. How was I supposed to tell family and friends, or Zach that this was my battle now? I called McCallum Eating Disorder Center and spoke to a therapist – I needed help, and I needed it now. From there, my story becomes that of treatment and telling those close to me what I was going through, because I wasn’t going to get through this without support.
If you want to know more about my time in treatment check out my post here.
What I didn’t realize coming out of treatment was how difficult healing would be. My life has finally become everything I ever hoped for it to be while I was at McCallum. I’m engaged, living in a home Zach and I own, working my dream job as a Youth Director in a PCUSA church, going to seminary… but guys, it is really hard to get better when people around you want to tell you that you’re fine, and have nothing to “get better” from.
The next part of my story is incredibly personal and handles some things that I have been hesitant to talk about out in the community of the internet or with people I don’t always know. Please be aware that this story will talk about issues of women’s health dealing with OBGYN’s, medical disorders around women’s body parts and so on.
When I started treatment, I had not had a period in 3 months. Everyone told me, “it’s just from your weight gain! It’ll come back!” Well newsflash everyone, it didn’t. I have always been incredibly regular because of my birth control – so not having a period for this long was freaking me out.
When I was in elementary school, around 7 or 8, my period started. Yup, that’s young I know. But – it was common for the women of my family to start around that age, so we didn’t think anything of it. Until I was having serious symptoms that made going to school during my period next to impossible. At age 12 I was unofficially diagnosed with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome), and a few years later would be diagnosed with Endometriosis. So knowing that, flash forward to February of 2018.
It’s now been 6 months since I have had a period. I start seeing an OBGYN who runs multiple tests; bloodwork, pap smears, ultrasounds – everything comes back mostly normal. So they tell me to stop my birth control (which by the way is the only medication to help curb symptoms of PCOS). But, I do it anyway, because they are a doctor. Months pass, more tests. Still no period. I have an ovarian cyst rupture. Now I’m concerned that being off my birth control is causing the PCOS symptoms to get too serious, so I go looking for a new OBGYN.
4 months. That’s how long new patients wait to get into an OB. I’m angry with people so I wait rather than book, because I keep hoping to find someone who will get me in sooner than 4 months. At this point I’m on Google (which I know I shouldn’t be doing because every time you type something in its always cancer). But no one, not even Google, can explain why I haven’t been having periods.
Finally, I call back one of the OBGYN’s that I’ve been talking to at the end of the summer and told them I need to be seen as soon as possible, that waiting is no longer an option, and that I will see a Nurse Practitioner (NP) first to get it. They can tell I’m not joking around and get me in the very next week. Finally – some movement. I go see this NP, and she is very concerned about the time span it has now been since I have had a period. She starts me on Provera to induce a period because they want to shed my uterine lining then, she sends my information to a doctor who then schedules me to have an ultrasound and talk about exploratory surgery to see what’s going on. I have a small period (barely any bleeding) on the Provera and start my NuvaRing back up.
Around this time, I was also seeing my General Practitioner because of some strange symptoms I had been having; heart palpitations, exhaustion, numbness in my hands and feet, malaise, extreme anxiety even on medication, insomnia, hair loss, gastrointestinal issues, etc. They run more blood work. I wear a heart monitor. They tell me to take it easy at the gym, because I’m working too hard. And that it’s most likely my depression causing all these symptoms. That’s that. This was between three appointments, and they ran out of tests to run because they all came back normal.
Back to the OBGYN I go – and I’m told no go on the surgery. They no longer want to run the risk of causing more scar tissue in my abdomen. We change my birth control and call it good. No other actions are taken because of my weight. I’m told to follow up in 3 or 4 months to see how the birth control is taking. I started the birth control, Springtec, that I was told too. I couldn’t eat for a week and a half because the nausea was so bad. I called, and they put me back on Junel Fe, a birth control I was on when I was in high school. Hopefully it’ll help.
So, now it’s December of 2018. A year ago today I was in the Hospital recovering from a stent of Absence Seizures today – I’m writing this blog because I’m at a loss and feel the need to be heard.
Seeing doctors when you are overweight is always a challenge. The first thing they say to you is often that you need to lose weight, despite the fact that I have personally lost close to 70 pounds in the last year. Weight is always the first thing blamed for the issues I’m facing. Fighting for my voice to be heard is like screaming into the canyon and waiting for an echo.
This is not the first time a general practitioner has blamed my physical symptoms of some kind on my mental illnesses. I have had depression and anxiety since middle school – I know how they make me feel, and while they have more than once caused me to be really tired, or physically shake, or have severe headaches, or the inability to move – never have they caused this array of symptoms for this long.
I just want to be heard. Today I am still dealing with my list of symptoms. My period is back but is anything from normal. As I type this my hands are almost completely numb. I slept for close to 9 hours last night, but I still feel like I could fall asleep at any moment. More and more hair is falling out of my head. My medications include: Metformin Extended Release 1000mg 2x day, Topamax 25mg 2x day, Lexapro 10mg 2x day, Buspirone 15mg 2x day, Lisinopril 20mg 2x day, Junel Fe 1/20 1x day. I take my medications religiously hoping that they will help me feel normal.
My fight isn’t over – I will be heard.
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