When this journey of discovery and health started for me it was approximately 10 years ago. I was suffering from a vicious bout of IBS, one of several that I had dealt with for about 15 years, and this one was bringing me to my knees. I would leave the house to drive to work, get half way there and soil myself. I would be ready to go out and do some fun things with m friends and soil myself, having to cancel. I would be at the grocery store and suddenly spend a half an hour in the employee bathroom.
It was a time of great embarrassment, a lot of shame and suffering.
I had been diagnosed with RA and my rheumatologist had told me that IBS can be a result of RA. The medicine seemed to help but I knew that being morbidly obese was not helping the situation. I started losing weight, eventually shedding 75 pounds. At 250 lbs, I was still too fat but it was manageable. I was wearing a size 16 instead of a size 24 and feeling much better about myself. I had had both my knees replaced and though I had awful pain at times from the RA, I was in better shape than I had been in years.
Then the IBS came back.
I would lose weight, gain it back, have an awful bout of IBS, lose weight, gain it back...the gas pains I would feel at times were so bad I would simply sit in the bathroom and try to breath through it. Again, that shame I felt was amazing. How do you tell people you can't come to their party because you are afraid you will soil yourself? How do you constantly turn down invitations to go out of town or take a long road trip if you don't know if you will be able to walk?
I would go out of town only when speaking for my 12 step program. It seemed, to me, that God allowed me to do only that which would e of service to Him and my fellows, not much else. I blamed my job schedule and promised dear friends that when I retired I would be able to do things again, when secretly I wondered if I would only be one of those people who went to conferences when she was speaking or to unity days when she was speaking because she might poo all over her shoes if she tried to have a normal, fun, full life.
About a year ago, I decided to look into weight loss surgery. As I looked into it, I saw that there was a treatment for Krohn's Disease and for Chronic IBS that involved a kind of old fashioned weight loss surgery - the gastric sleeve. Instead of just stapling the stomach, the surgeon actually removes the stomach, gets rid of the 'extra part' and sutures the rest. You have your muscles at the top and the bottom, just a much smaller stomach. Rather than a gastric by pass, which just reattaches to a small pouch but bypasses the duodenal muscle at the top of the esophagus, you have the full use of all the digestive system and you can absorb nutrients in a much better way.
When my surgeon to me, what he found (he said) was a HUGE hiatal hernia and a stomach that had been torn up and infected and scarred and otherwise made a mess by a parasite picked up (he said) about 15 years ago.
Which is what I suspected and what the doctors suspected but could never PROVE when this problem first started.
In fact, he said, the treatment I had received for RA probably made things manageable for me all those years, but now (he says) those problems should be SOLVED.
AND I get to lose weight.
The funny part of all this is that I am ready to lose the extra weight but I am more ready to resume my life. The idea that I might be able to actually PLAN to do something on the weekend without having to worry if I will FEEL ok that day is liberation in a classic sense. Talk about being able to lose the preoccupation with SELF.
I received a message from a friend on FB- a faithful Catholic woman who states that she had looked into weight loss surgery but, because of other problems she has, cannot take advantage of any procedure. She also stated that she is trying to exercise and eat right but that, as I know, moving for a large person is very difficult to do.
I do know - it was horrible trying to exercise with everything hurting, trying to find a way to fight through the pain. I would watch the people on The Biggest Loser and try to emulate them and end up on painkillers and in tears.
Since the surgery I am walking a mile a day, every day. I am looking to join the local gym which has a pool. The dog is thrilled because he walks with me. And I am starting to look like MYSELF.
I have a huge way to go, I understand that - I have had to learn how to eat differently and I have had to walk through a lot of discomfort. I believe I had grown as a person and despite all the turmoil currently being inflicted upon the family (alcohol and drugs are such a WONDERFUL THING) by someone I love very much, I feel that I am emerging from still another chrysalis and about to become still another butterfly.
That is the wonder of sobriety and Catholicism. The potential for growth, for moving past that which you think you can be to that which you never even considered becoming is there if you are willing to cooperate with the Grace of God, through His Sacramental Living that is offered to all of us free of charge.
For fun and for free - that's what we say around the tables. For God and for Country, that is what we say around the Parish Hall.
Thank you for my life today, Lord. I would not change a thing, even if I could - amen.