Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Talk to the Hand because Kris Isn't Listening

I am going to tell this woeful tale here on my blog. I have told it time and again...to myself, to my friends, coworkers, my kids, my spouse...to people close enough to me to listen. Sometimes it was the synopsis of the story, sometimes it was the full length novella version. But I'm going to tell the whole thing here today. And then, I'm leaving it alone. I'm leaving it in the past. It's over. Done with. The excuses, the reasons, the explanations.

When I was in high school, I was physically fit. I was on the varsity tennis team, I lifted weights, I ended up playing #1 singles on our team. I could play tennis for 3 hours and not get winded. I could eat a Big Mac and it not even phase me. I was 5'4" tall, always weighed between 110 to 115 pounds, lean muscle.

I had my first child at 18...almost 19. During the pregnancy, my doctors threatened me with bed rest if I didn't gain weight. I worked as a waitress, but I stopped working at 6 1/2 months and I finally did gain the weight the doctors wanted. I had no car at the time I was pregnant, so I walked all over town. I gained 25 pounds and lost all but about five pounds right after Josh was born.

One reason I lost most of my weight is that finances required me to go right back to work as a waitress. Rob and I were saving for an apartment. I was living with my dad, and that wasn't working out at all. So, I think Josh was three weeks old when I went back to work. Within a few weeks we had our own place.

I became pregnant with Jess when Josh was eight months old. I was so happy when I found out I was having a girl! I gained 30 pounds, but I lost all but about 10 pounds of it after Jess. I suffered some post par tum depression, but kept on going. I went back to work when Jess was 6 weeks old, but this time at a local pharmacy.

It wasn't long before I had to stop working. Jess' health was in jeopardy. They thought she had cystic fibrosis. Her lungs collapsed often. She had bout after bout with pneumonia. She had a pulmonary specialist, an ear nose and throat specialist, and we practically lived at our primary care physician's office.

I had to give her treatments that involved pounding on her back with a rubber device three times a day, 45 minutes each time. Also, she had three breathing treatments a day with albuterol administered through a machine.

Getting Jess well consumed me. I stayed home, prayed and studied, worked out on my stepper 1/2 hour a day, devoted myself to the little ones. Meanwhile, Rob was a manager at a restaurant, so he worked long hours.

Jess ended up having a sleep study, lots of tests, and then two surgeries. Her days of living in a doctor's office were over! She had no more treatments! She was a healthy little toddler!

I was able to go back to work. Rob and I figured our family was complete. I tried to get away from waitressing. The hours were long, and the job was demanding. I worked at a laundromat, then the local YMCA. Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that I made better money waitressing than any of the minimum wage jobs I was working.

So, I decided if waitressing was my calling in life, I'd be the best waitress I could be. I committed to being the best me I could be. I ended up being offered commission on my sales, benefits on top of tips. That was a nearly unheard of deal in the restaurant I worked for. I did a lot of training of the other servers.

Around this time, I decided I wanted to have my tubes tied. I was tired of birth control pills, I had done the Norplant thing which did not work out for me at all. I talked it over with Rob, he said, "Whatever you want to do," and I went to the doctor.

I talked the surgery option over with the doctor. I was 24 years old. One of the first things I asked him was, "Is this procedure reversible if I change my mind later?"

He looked at me and made a statement that changed my life. :) He said, "If you are asking me if a procedure is reversible, then you are not sure this is the course of action you want to take. I don't believe that you have thought this through. I don't think you can say to me, 'I don't want any more children.' If you aren't sure what you want, you'd better go home and think about this a bit more."

So, I went home and talked to Rob about it. He loves kids, but he wasn't pushing me either way. He said, "I would love to have another baby, but it's your body. If you do decide you're willing to have another baby, let's do it before I'm thirty. Josh is going to be six soon, Jess will be five. I don't want a huge gap between them. Also, I want to be able to be young enough to enjoy a baby."

So, I sat there and did the math in my head. I was 24 at the time, but Rob is four years older than me. If I waited too much longer to get pregnant, he'd be 30. This discussion took place in February of 1996. Josiah was born November 11, 1997. Obviously, you know what my decision was. ;)

I gained seventeen pounds when pregnant with Josiah. Since my starting weight was about 15-20 pounds higher than when I was a teenage mom, doctor's weren't concerned. My job as a waitress kept me fit.

I had my tubes tied while I was still in the hospital after Jo was born. I nursed Jo, and that helped me get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight. When Jo was three months old, I went back to work at the same restaurant I left, only this time, part time. I only worked 10-1, the lunch rush.

When Jo was about six months old, I met Bipsy. I worked the counter/carryout section of the store, and she was a counter regular. I really liked her. She was the only woman among a bunch of coffee drinking men. She was funny, pretty, self confident, and no-nonsense. She came in, got her diet coke, cottage cheese and fruit, and read the paper. I looked forward to her coming in, and like all my customers, I made sure she got good service.

About three months after we met, she offered me an office job. I wasn't sure what to think! I had no computer skills to speak of. I had taken Typing I & II in school, but that was high school! I told her this. She said something like, "I'd rather hire a quality worker and train them than hire a bad worker who is already college educated."

So, nervous as I was, I took the job. She sent me to classes in Excel, Word, accounting courses, Power Point, etc. I started out part time. Eventually, sooner than later, I went full time. I didn't wean Jo until he was two, so I took my lunch break to go home and nurse him.

So, I had an office job, and I was doing well. I gained about ten pounds almost immediately after I stopped waitressing. I wasn't too alarmed, I still felt like I looked decent for a mother of three.

About three months on the job, I was diagnosed with asthma/allergies, and was put on several prescription meds. Then, about six months on those meds, my doctor switched my allergy medications. Turns out, the medication had my heart racing. Within a few months of the switch, I gained between five and ten pounds.

I stopped nursing Jo in that time frame, and almost immediately gained more weight.

Frustrated, and realizing I was thirty pounds above where I wanted to be, I decided enough was enough. I didn't want to be 110 anymore, and knew that was unrealistic. I just figured that if I gained five pounds a year, at that rate, I'd be totally miserable by the time I was forty.

So, I joined a diet class that met at a local church. We met once a week, and we weighed in, stayed accountable, had a message and a prayer, and kept it short. I lost an average of 1.5 pounds a week. In about four month's time I had lost the weight I wanted. I simply cut back on food, kept track of what I ate, and worked out on my stepper for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes a day, several times a week. I felt great.

I never gained a lot of weight back, and stayed within ten pounds of my goal weight all the time. I had hernia surgery, still didn't gain any weight through the recovery. The diet class administrator stopped having the class due to a job situation, but I still kept on track.

Then, in Spring of 2000, Bipsy and I were coming back from having lunch at a country restaurant, and a car pulled out in front of us. We were going 55 mph at the time. Her truck was knocked off the road, hit a ditch, bounced back up, went through a fence, and narrowly missed hitting a tree on my side. My glasses were knocked off, my leftovers thrown all over the truck, but thank the Lord, no one was killed. I felt fine. We all refused treatment at the scene.

I went home, and the next day I could barely move. I had whiplash, so did Bipsy, obviously, but I had pain from my neck down to my lower back. I assumed it would go away, but it didn't. I couldn't lift things I used to be able to lift, I couldn't work out on the stepper...even walking outside killed my back.

I ended up having a cat scan of my back, which showed bulging disks in my upper and lower spine. I had to go through physical therapy. The physical therapist said a few interesting things. She said that if I weren't in the great physical condition that I was in at the time of the accident, I might have ended up in traction. She also said that given the poor alignment of my ankles, she was sure that they were partially to blame for my disk condition. I explained that I was supposed to have special shoes that my birth parents didn't buy for me, and that my grandparents didn't want to have my legs broken and set once the damage was done to my ankles. The therapist indicated that I would need to find alternative exercises that were not high impact and back-friendly.

For awhile I went to water aerobics at the YMCA. Things started getting busy in my life, and I found it harder and harder to get away to work out. Weight started creeping back on.

Then, my grandmother's health started to decline. I found myself practically living in my car. I had kids to run around, or her to take to appointments on my time off. All I got done was sitting. I sat at work, I sat in the car while playing taxi driver, and I collapsed into bed when I got home. My only meals became double cheeseburgers at 10 p.m. at a drive through.

I had no time to call my own. My health declined, but I didn't have time to go see a doctor myself. I stopped going to the allergist, who eventually refused to treat me due to my not conforming to their asthma management plan. I had kidney infection and utis one right after another, but I didn't have time to wonder what was causing that. During this time, I simply stopped weighing myself at all.

On New Year's Eve 2005, Grandma died. I spent that year trying to work through my anger and pain and grief as well as settle the estate and figure out how I was going to buy her house. I suffered a bout with pneumonia in March. Then, that November, my birth mother died. By this time, I was fighting depression tooth and nail. I didn't want to get out of bed. I was sure each day was going to bring another evil surprise. I would lose someone else. There would be another unexpected bill. Life would keep throwing me for a loop. It was only the love of my husband, kids and pets that kept me from giving in to my feelings of anxiety. I kept getting out of bed. I kept going to work. I kept on going, but I didn't want to.

In January of 2006, I decided to make a comeback. I started reading my Bible more. I started to try to shed my skin, literally, spiritually, and emotionally. I was doing great! I was working out almost every day to the Leslie Sansone low impact walking videos. I'd found an exercise I could do, that didn't hurt my back. I was on the road to feeling good again.

This is where I think I really got knocked off course. While working out, I realized something was very wrong with me...inside of me. I felt like my insides were falling out...for a lack of a more delicate way to say it. I thought at first my bulging disks were pressing against my spine causing something weird to happen to my body. Then, after I continued to work out, I realized it wasn't my back. Something was wrong.

I went to the doctor. My "feeling" was right on target. Being a smallish woman with a short torso, the pressure of having three eight pound babies had given me what's known as pelvic organ prolapse. My insides were falling...down. That's what was causing all of my utis and kidney infections. Working out was making gravity work faster.

Within two weeks I was scheduled for surgery. Major repair work. Mesh and slings and stitching...the works. Because of our two house payments and mounting bills, I could only take two weeks off. I was supposed to take six weeks off.

I came back to work, more exhausted and more depressed. I didn't really come out of it. I spent the rest of 2006 continuing to ignore my unhealthy attitudes and continuing weight gain. Until now.

I don't really know where this motivation came from, (although I think I sort of jumped on the bandwagon everyone around me was on) but I've made some decisions.

#1. I am done with the past. My surgeries, insecurities, losses, pain, accidents, bad decisions, good decisions, could haves, should haves, wish I hadn'ts....they are done. What I do today is the only thing I'm judging myself on. I can't blame my current weight on what I did five years ago. I also can't expect to modify my situation unless I change my behavior.

#2. I am no longer obsessing about a number on the scale or a pant size. I want to look good, feel good, reduce my health risk factors and have energy.

#3. I want to change my life...not for a short term fix, but a healthy lifelong goal.

#4. I want to be accountable to MYSELF for my own behavior.

There's more on my mind than what I've said here, but it's time to work out. I'll finish these thoughts later today or tomorrow. That should give your eyes a chance to rest, anyway. ;)

Have a good night!


Elliemarie said...

Thank you for sharing your "tale"...

I think your attitude is fantastic and a healthy one at that.

Not focusing on a weight or a dress size, instead concentrating on being healthy is smart, and also doesn't tie you to the disappointment that trying to reach that "ultimate" weight or dress size can bring.

Here's to 2007 being a healthy one for you. I think your notebook idea is a fabulous one and I know it will work out for you. Go girl!

neicybelle said...

oh kristi!! i love your attitude!! and that's what it's all about! i know it's hard to get over the past and move on...but maybe together we can all get in the shape we want to be in...

hang in there girl! i'm so proud of you!

pat said...

Oh Kris,
What a wonderful post. It is women like you who keep me going. I only wish I had your faith in God. Somewhere along my life, I lost that faith. How do I get it back?

Holli said...

And that's the same motivation that got me to quit smoking and back into the gym and eating healthy! That's motivation that God has given us.
I'm always here for you to talk to. The best thing you can do is when a thought of fast food or I'll take today off occurs turn your back to it let it go in one ear and out the other - pray for motivation. And remember... nothing tastes as good as healthy feels! Alot of your back problems will be solved with weight loss. Trust me I know all about it!
I love you chickie!

PJ said...

Oh Kris! Your poor body has been through so much! I'm happy to hear you are at the point where the scale doesn't matter.

Our identity comes through who Christ says we are, not our clothes size. Work to love the woman God sees.

After all, women ARE the last thing He created - we are the icing on the cake!!!! :)

Pat, you can get it back by praying to God and saying, Lord i can't find my faith! Help me and be Lord of my life once again! Amen. I'll be praying for you.