Category Archives: Hypothyroidism

Hello From Both Of Us

245491-fetus-ultrasoundAfter a little hiatus, I have decided to write again. I am pregnant again and have made it to the second trimester, so we are sharing our news with everyone. After the miscarriage, this pregnancy seemed tenuous and frought with anxiety. There was nothing anyone could say to put my mind at ease that this baby would stay with me on earth.

In November we discovered some medical complications that resulted in a surgery. The last 2 months have been a whirl of hospital visits: surgeons, radiologists, obstetricians, enodcirnologists, nurses, doctors and of course myriad tests: ultrasounds, x-rays, MRIs, blood tests, weight, blood pressure, heart rate…

The list goes on, but nothing measured the anguish and suffering in the mother’s heart.

Today I am recovering from surgery which went well. Baby is thriving from what we can see on ultrasounds. Through all of this, I have continued in the ED recovery program where I see a case manager, medical doctor, nutritionist, psychologist and occupational therapist. As much as I want this child more than anything in this life, I cannot describe the distress of gaining weight as someone with an eating disorder.

Since we confirmed the pregnancy, I have not once binged, purged, restricted or over exercised. The desire is there constantly, but I felt that I could not do that to my unborn child and live with the consequences. It is strange that not taking care of myself has never concerned me, but I cannot hurt my unborn child by continuing with my ED.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

hey fatty…

This is how I wake myself up: 

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Labels

 

You can get away with a lot when you label things. I met my boyfriend’s family at Thanksgiving and was nervous about the food situation. When you say you are vegan or vegetarian you can hide a lot of disordered behaviour. On top of that,  I always explain about my hypothyroidism and the need to watch my calorie intake. It works like a charm. No one questions my obviously bizarre attitude to food.

On the first morning Heath’s mom suggested that we take the kids to McDonalds for breakfast. My heart started pounding and I could feel the anxiety rising. When we got there he looked at me and asked if I would eat anything. I shook my head and shot him a pleading look not call attention to it. He is so good that he just goes along with everything and doesn’t make a big deal of it.

Later in the day when I was doubled over from starvation, I told him I had to have celery.

“I love celery.” I said without even thinking about the stupidity of the statement.

He laughed, “No you do not!”

We went to the farmers’ market and were given a free muffin each to sample. Without even batting an eyelid, Heath held his hand out for the muffin he knew I did not want. I gave it to him and he pocketed it. No one even saw it happen.

At dinner he tried to help me navigate the vegetables that had been cross contaminated with meat or drowned in butter and sugar. There was nothing safe to eat. I wonder if my panic was obvious.

For the actual Thanksgiving meal, they decided on Raclette and not turkey which was not good for me. I am dangerous around melted cheese on anything. I ate with abandon. I knew after two bites that I would be purging the meal immediately. I drank most of a bottle of wine to help the process. I made an excuse to my boyfriend and went downstairs to throw up. The house was so busy and loud that I am sure no one even noticed.

At one point Heath’s dad talked about my “healthy” eating of fruits and veggies and I went into a detailed explanation of my vegetarianism and hypothyroidism. He marveled at my ability to eat so little then said that all I was waiting for is to get married and then I would eat everything I can see and weigh 400lbs. It has become the running family joke. It is funny because it will never happen and they don’t know why.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Day In The (Dysfunctional) Life Of

 

8am

Coffee, thyroid medication.

9am

More coffee, an hour at the gym with my foot in a cast.

11am

Celery and hummus.

1:30pm

More celery, more hummus, more coffee.

My coworker sits in my office and lectures me on eating (while he eats). He informs me that I will never have to wear a tutu and pink tights on stage again and therefore I should enjoy food. He mentions that I should get over my issues and I disagree telling him my demons keep me company.

“What do you want me to eat?” I ask as I shove celery down my throat and try not to gag.

“Bread,” he gestures with all of his Russian passion in the direction of my collar bones which seem to upset him. “It is so light; there is nothing in it.”

“I love bread so much. I dream about toast,” I confess like my soul depends upon it. It seems wrong to admit this; like I am betraying the wilting celery that is trying to nourish me.

“You need to eat some bread,” he is pleading with me now. “Good, grainy, dense bread.”

He is the devil. I shake my head as if to remove the picture of bread from my mind. He is always trying to get me to eat.

4pm

Dinner at a friend’s house: 4 plates of food, wine, cake. I sit at the table and start to sweat. Panic.

I will die of this feeling. I am out of control after restricting all day.

While they make coffee and dessert in the kitchen, I purge. The relief is instantaneous.

7pm

Fast food drive through on the way home from dinner:

2 veggie burgers, onion rings, 2 family size fries (to fill the hole in my heart where there should be a family). I sit in a parking lot as the rain pours down and I shake. I have found love on a Wednesday night. There is ketchup and comfort at the bottom of the brown, paper bag.

7:30

Purge, purge, purge.

8:30

Bubble bath and a conversation with my boyfriend on the phone: “I’m taking you out for your favourite Italian on Sunday night. Do you want to go on a picnic on Saturday? Maybe we could go to the mountains…I have some wine for Friday.”

I can hear the calories we are going to consume. I just want to lie in his arms and close my eyes and never eat again.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nutritionist Referral

 

After the break down I had at my doctor’s office about my 15lb weight gain, she promised to refer me to a specialist. I explained to her about my vegan/vegetarian diet, exercise, hypothyroidism and eating disordered history. She was adamant that my weight gain and inability to lose weight are not related to hypothyroidism because I am medicated. According to her, that means I am “cured”. When she said that it had to be something that I am eating, I nearly lost my mind and the little sanity I have left. I explained to her about the calories I track every day, all the time I spend in the gym and I told her that given 21 years of having an eating disorder, that I know about nutrition and weight loss. In the end she said she would refer me to a specialist to make sure that there wasn’t another medical reason that I was gaining weight and couldn’t lose it.

Today I got a referral in the mail to a nutrition program. Thanks to my doctor, they have enrolled me in a group course called “Secrets To Weight Loss Success”. To say I am mad doesn’t even begin to cover it. Her referral just goes to show how little she cares about me or my health – mental or physical. I could write her a book on nutrition and exercise and I guarantee there is not one thing they could teach me about “balanced meals”, “snacks that cause weight gain” and “keeping weight off successfully with exercise”, that I don’t already know. When I was in her office she told me that I don’t need to lose weight and that my BMI is normal. Now I have a referral to go and sit with a bunch of fatties and discuss how not to eat McDonalds for dinner. Needless to say, she is no longer my doctor. Who gives someone with an eating disorder a referral to a weight loss course?

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Emergency

I got rushed to hospital last night about 36 hours after surgery. I had an allergic reaction to the pain killers I was given as they were contraindicated with thyroid drugs and the surgeon didn’t pick up on it.

By the time I got to triage, I was shaking uncontrollably and felt like I was having a heart attack. I was nauseous and dizzy and having trouble breathing. The nurse got me a bed right away because my heart rate had spiked. She asked me if I had been eating when I took my pills. I had been in so much pain because I couldn’t metabolize the medication and it made me so sick that I hadn’t eaten in almost 24 hours. “You have to eat,” she admonished me as I lay on a bed. It is hard to explain to a nurse that I just hadn’t felt like it. I have actually lost my appetite since the surgery. I don’t even think it was my eating disorder despite wanting to restrict because I am incapacitated.

After 5 hours they had stabilized my vitals, given me a different narcotic pain-killer and re-bandaged my incision after checking for infection. Today I felt weak and exhausted. I slept for hours and didn’t eat until dinner time. I think I am feeling depressed now about being unable to do anything or go anywhere. I am still worried about how unfit and out of shape I will be after 6 weeks of no physical activity. Tomorrow I will weigh myself, standing on one foot of course.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fat B**ch

Fat B**ch

My doctor accidentally told me how much I weighed at my physical today.

I immediately burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. I sat there in a hospital gown, my gargantuan thighs peeking out, unable to stop the tears. I think she was shocked by my sudden outburst, but I have never told her the depths of my eating disorder struggles so she doesn’t have much context.

Why was I so shocked by the actual number? I knew I had packed on the pounds since this time last year when she lowered my thyroid medication and I attempted recovery. I had guessed it was 15lbs and I was right.: 15.4lbs exactly. I have refused to weigh myself in a year and a half in order to stop the spiral of restriction from starting again. Now that I know the horrible, hideous, heavy number, I plan to weigh myself every day and restrict more and purge more and exercise more. This is unacceptable. I refuse to be this weight.

She agrees that this amount of weight in one year is not normal although she refuses to credit it to my hypothyroidism because I am medicated. I disagree with her, but she is the “expert”. My LDL cholesterol has gone from being abnormally low to being high enough for me to be at risk from it.
“It must be your diet and lifestyle,” she assures me. “Maybe you should be on a medically supervised weight loss plan?”
I think of my vegetarian diet and of all the days that I eat rice cakes, cottage cheese, hummus and celery and count calories. I think of the hours I spend in the gym and teaching ballet. I think of the only bad food that I eat when I’m on a binge and which I purge immediately after.
“Perhaps you should exercise more to make sure you are burning fat,” she keeps her lecture going and I want to punch her. I have been so sick for three weeks and the guilt at not working out has consumed me. Today I arrive in her office in my exercise clothes and runners, straight from the gym still sweating from my workout.

“Your weight is not bad,” she tells me in an attempt to stop the crying that goes on for an uncomfortably long time. “You are not overweight, you have a healthy BMI so it just depends on how happy you are with your weight.”
“I’m not happy at all. I can’t be this heavy. It distresses me. I am sure I will have a full-blown relapse,” I sob as mascara and snot run down my fat, red face.

She finishes my physical which is now awkward, gives me a vitamin B12 shot and smiles sympathetically at me. “Have a nice day…and take care of yourself.”
Of course I won’t.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Things My Eating Disorder Stole From Me

Things My Eating Disorder Stole From Me

1. My childhood.
The day that you wake up and realize you are fat, is the last day of your childhood. There are no more cakes at birthday parties or ice creams for dessert. There are no more bottles of ice cold coca-cola with your brothers on a Saturday afternoon. You are fat and even at 12 your grandmother will tell you that you must stop eating these things and begin to watch your weight. So will your ballet teacher. They will advocate lettuce leaves, skim milk and deprivation. You will believe them because you always have and it will become your new mantra. A life of denial begins at ten years old, before you are old enough to realize what is happening. One day you will wake up and not be able to remember what your life was like without ED.

2. My Dreams
I wanted to be a ballerina. I wanted to get married and move home and have children. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to travel and take photographs. I wanted to help orphans in Africa. I wanted to live an extraordinary life.
For three years at ballet school when I was in training for dream number one, my eating disorder was so out of control that I spent more time focused on food than on dancing. I thought by being thin I would have a better chance at being a ballerina. I starved, binge, purged, experimented with diet pills and swallowed laxatives like they were the elixir of life. I became an exercise addict and pushed my body to breaking point. Fatigue and malnutrition led to multiple injuries, illnesses and time away from dancing. I was so exhausted that I survived class on a combination of pain killers and sheer determination. I passed out in the studio multiple times. I woke up with a bulimia hang over from purging ten times a day, every day. Eventually I broke my foot before I even graduated from ballet school. My weight had ballooned. Four years later I had my first surgery. My bones were weakened from years of anorexia. The doctors didn’t want to say that it was the eating disorder that caused most of the injuries, but they didn’t have too. I already knew. Now at 31, I am wait-listed for three more surgeries on my foot and both knees. I move like I am old, because my body is unforgiving for all the years I abused it. It has harboured grudges against me in the form of chronic pain.

3. My Relationships
How many lies have I told to people that I love? Family, friends, boyfriends…
I always said that it was for their own good. To protect them from the things they did not need to know. In reality, that is my excuse to keep my shame to myself. There is sorrow in not being able to tell your mother that you are suffering, that you are in hospital (again) or that you are broken beyond repair. There is regret in the burden that I placed on my father who did not know how to save me from myself when I was just a child. I look at my brothers and keep a piece of myself locked away. They have already worried too much. I have already hurt them enough. The same goes for the friends who have stood by and watched me lost in the madness of ED. Some of them have loved me enough in spite of what I have put them through.
As for the men I have loved..they knew. All of them. Some knew more than others but it always came between us. Having an eating disorder and being in a relationship is effectively being in a threesome. I dedicate as much (if not more) time to ED. I am devoted to it. It was my first love after all. It has been the first thread that has begun the unraveling of many relationships.

4. My Memories
I do not remember any part of my life without ED as a frame of reference. When I recall an age, it is always overshadowed by how fat I was at the time, if I was anorexic or bulimic or “recovered”, or what number the scale yelled back at me.
Age 10 – anorexia begins, subtly at first. I am confused as to how fat I really was. Photos show me as average looking. My family assure me that I was not fat. I remember otherwise.
Age 13 – anorexic, as skinny for me as I could be, 50 kgs
Age 19 – bulimic, fat, 67 kgs
Age 23 – recovered but living on diet pills, fat-ish, 60 kgs
Age 26 – bulimic, the fattest I have ever been, 75 kgs (diagnosed with hypothroidism)
Age 29 – anorexic, thin-ish, 55kgs
Age 31 – bulimic, fat (again), no weight recorded for the devastation that it will cause.

It does not matter where I was living or what I was doing…in the phases listed above, I lived in Africa, Europe, North America; went to ballet school, performed, traveled; was married and divorced and none of it matters because only ED mattered to me. It is my first point of reference in my recollections.

I do not think of holidays and remember times with friends or loved ones frolicking on the beach or in the pool. Instead, I have memories of sitting in my jeans and t-shirt instead of in a bikini. I remember all the meals I did not eat or purged afterwards. I remember birthdays, weddings, parties where I was in a bathroom vomiting instead of dancing. In photos I can see my chipmunk cheeks – a sure sign of bulimia. I can tell the dark shadows beneath my eyes and pronounced collar bones of anorexia. I can see myself hiding my hideous body behind other bodies as we laugh and capture a moment. My memories are marred by ED.

5. My Identity
I don’t know who I am. I have come to think of myself as a bulimic or anorexic or a compulsive exerciser. Along with my memories that are defined by ED, so is my identity and therefore my self-worth. In times when I have “recovered”, I have panicked without ED. Who am I when I am not on a quest for skin and bone and perfection? Who am I without this illness? I have been sick for 21 years now. I have known ED longer than I was ever “normal” or “well”. I cannot remember life without this thing even though I know that once I was 3 or 5 or 8 and had not met ED. It came before I ever knew myself or who I was or who I wanted to be. It was part of me before I was fully formed. I don’t know how to be without it.

6. My finances
How much money can you spend on food, on binges, on diet pills or laxatives, on weight loss powders, gym memberships, appetite suppressants, having your drains unblocked, hospital visits, therapists, nutritionists, counselors, psychologists, recovery books, smaller clothes, bigger clothes, antibiotics, support groups and coffee?

7. My Health
I have hypothyroidism. I have a genetic pre-disposition, but the endocrinologist assures me that it was triggered by my ED. I gave myself a disease that makes me fat.
Migraines.
Bad teeth.
Mutiple breaks and fractures from weak bones.
Kidney problems.
Thin hair.
Bad skin.
Chronic exhaustion.
Insulin resistance.
Adrenal fatigue.

8. My Time
Life is short. Too short. Hours, days, months and sadly, years of my life have been lost to ED. Obsessing, exercising, eating, not eating, counting calories, weighing, measuring, crying, lying on the bathroom floor, vomiting again and again and again. Time: the most precious gift of all has been squandered for the sake of ED. All the places I did not go, the people I did not see and the things I did not do because I had to give my time to ED instead.

Please share with me the things you lost to ED that mattered most to you.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Birth Control Debate

The Birth Control Debate

I have decided to go off the birth control pill for several reasons:

1. I don’t need to take it to prevent getting pregnant, but I have been on it for years and never really questioned what it is doing to my body. (I am that dumb sometimes.)
2. I have been researching the effects of birth control on thyroid/adrenal and other hormone imbalances. I have hypothyroid and all the symptoms of adrenal fatigue. Most of the articles I have read say that it is impossible to restore hormone balance while pumping your body full of synthetic hormones. This makes sense even when I am being dumb.
3a. There is a direct link between birth control and increased cellulite/weight gain which can be due to water retention. A lot of women report increased appetite and fat accumulation from taking the pill. In the last few years, cellulite has taken over my body. It is on my arms and calves instead of just at the top of my thighs where it always stayed.
3b. There are some studies that show that taking birth control is linked to a lack of muscle tone. Considering that I have very poor muscle tone with all that working out is disheartening.
4. Synthetic hormones in my body are not necessary. I do my best to eat clean even with ED. Why am I putting these pills into my body?

And my favourite reason…#5. Decrease migraines.

At the moment I see no benefit to continuing it and potentially many benefits if I stop taking it. I am willing to give it a try and see what happens.

There are side effects to experience when you stop taking the pill. I am most worried about acne and hair loss, but I hope after a few months this will normalize. I have never suffered from heavy periods or the other symptoms that go with them. I am perpetually moody, so I do not anticipate mood swings being a problem! I will try and report back in a few months if there is a noticeable difference in any of the areas I referenced above.

Let me know your thoughts about birth control. I am interested to hear others’ experiences with this.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,