It’s true – I’m back. I had been missing for a while because I was wandering through the black hole of despair.
Last September, after checking with our health insurance to be sure that it would be covered and getting an affirmative response, I entered a program at the Univ of Mass Medical Center. The plan was to have lap band surgery. The program is very detailed and requires a lot of appointments with various specialists in order to help assure the participants successful weight loss after the surgery.
I was really happy. I finally had hope. My weight had ballooned in the 10 years I was a single parent. At that time I was always exhausted. Fibromyalgia alone can do that – but when you add 2 children and a 60 hour work week, exhaustion can seem too mild a description. So I used to settle down with comfort food and the TV after the kids were in bed. You know, a bag of chips, a package of cookies. Then “hand to mouth” disease would begin to rage. Between the exhaustion and the TV, I never thought about what or how much I was eating – as long as it made me feel good. So the whole bag of chips or package of cookies might “disappear” in a single sitting. Add fast food meals to that and you have a prescription for disaster. That’s how 20 lbs overweight became 30, then 40, and so on!
After 10 years as a single parent, I remarried a wonderful man. But old habits changed slowly. Now, after 11 years of marriage, I find I have 80 – 100 lbs to lose if I no longer wish to be morbidly obese. Doesn’t sound like a big deal for anyone who can exercise. But I have fibromyalgia and can’t do much exercise except walk. Yes, I tried water therapy and exercise. It’s easy to do – it’s the days after that find me in excessive pain. My doctor’s have tried everything over the years, but nothing has improved the ability to do any repetitive motions. Even this typing, which I do on a regular basis, causes pain in my elbows and arms (not tennis elbow, not carpal tunnel – just painful muscles).
But now – there was hope. A “tool” to use so I could get a jump start on weight loss. I was hoping that the initial quick weight loss and the inability to overeat without getting sick would be just what the doctor ordered to help me break the cycle. And so I went to every appointment and meeting, did everything I needed to so the surgery could happen. Invested significant time and energy.
Hope is an interesting thing. It is truly more important that success in life. Hope keeps you trying. Hope keeps you out the the bowels of dispair.
A week or so ago, I was scheduling the pre-surgical testing and a tentative surgery date. We were just waiting for the insurance approval to firm things up. That was when the rug was pulled out from under my feet!! The weight loss center called to let me know that the insurance company had called them to let them know the procedure was no longer a covered procedure under our help plan. Apparently, as we discovered, the company my husband works for, which is where we get our health insurance, changed what it would cover between September when I started and the insurance renewal date in February!!! What would have been covered in September if it had been done then would not be covered in June!
I worked in insurance for a long time. I understand insurance is a contract – you agree to pay your premium, the company agrees to pay for specific items. I know the difference between differences in interpretation and no coverage for something (aka an exclusion). This was a no coverage provided matter. I was stuck. There was no arguing. You can’t get what hasn’t been purchased.
I tried to hold it together while my husband double checked with human resources at work. I forced myself not to think about it. I played computer games. But when my husband walked into the house at lunch time and said gently, “It’s not covered any more,” I lost it.
The tears started and I couldn’t stop them. Not a trickle – a torrent! I’m an ugly crier when I cry like that. My face and eyelids swell and stay looking distorted for several days as they ever so slowly return to normal. I could feel the adrenelaine rushing and my heart pounding. I was sick to my stomach. I felt like I’d been sucker punched! I wanted to lash out! I also felt a heavy weight settling on my chest. I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide in a hole – and never come out.
I’m sure I scared my husband. He hasn’t seen me in despair like that. I’m such a positive person with a gift for seeing the good in whatever happens, that I’m certain it was a real shock to him. But it’s a very scary place to be – to feel like all hope is gone.
I was also angry – angry that, in spite of all the pain and despair, I couldn’t let go of reality. While I didn’t want to live any more if it had to be life the way it is at 235 lbs, I couldn’t accept the thought of not living. I couldn’t let go of the thread of reality and just be crazy. I couldn’t even talk that way, which frustrated me although it probably was better for my husband. It’s been that way all my life. Even in the worst of life’s tragedies, I can’t release my hold on sanity. My logic wins every time. Maybe it’s crazy to wish you could go crazy on occasion – but that’s the way I feel.
It wasn’t just the idea of actually losing the significant amount of weight that died. It was the dreams of what might be – more comfortable traveling, better health for the rest of my life, the ability to do some increased activity . . . the thought of being able to go into a store and find clothes in my size. I think the death of the future due to the loss of hope is worse than actual death. I think it’s like being pregnant and miscarrying (which I have done) – it isn’t the loss of the little person who wasn’t even whole yet and whom you’d never even met that causes the pain – it’s the loss of the future, of the dreams and plans you start to have as soon as you know you’re pregnant. This was the same. It wasn’t the fact that the weight would still be on me – it’s been here a long time already. It was the death of hopes and plans for a healthier me that caused me to crash to earth.
It’s taken a long time to “crawl out of my fetal position.” Writing about this is difficult because I’m reliving it as I write. I can feel the echo of that pain in my heart reverberating. But I have decided on a “new plan.” So the echoes are finally growing a bit fainter.
My new plan? The epitome of simplicity. Pretend I did have the surgery.
I know – you’re thinking “Maybe she did go off the deep end after all and just doesn’t know it.” I haven’t. I’m still my annoyingly logical and rational self. But I got to thinking: The surgery was to reduce the amount of food I can hold in my stomach. Why not begin to eat the way I would need to if I had the surgery? Why not get the benefits of the “tool” without the pain, possible side effects and scars of the surgery.
I’m not talking about a “fad” diet or eating like I have anorexia. I’m talking about following the plan that the medical center laid out for eating after the lap band. So for the specified number of weeks, I’ll be sipping instant breakfast and fluids at a specific interval. When those weeks have elapsed, I’ll move on the the next stages of food that they would allow. I’m not being a fanatic – if I have to eat at someone’s home, I won’t be bringing my instant breakfast along. I’ll choose what’s allowed as closely as I can.
It isn’t a perfect solution. But it is a plan. And right now it’s working. I’m not really hungry and I am losing weight.
That’s the thing about being logical and rational – and positive – you can’t give up even when you wish you could!!
Wish me luck!