In the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to give a few more particulars in my weight loss endeavors.
I know that when someone tries to live a healthier life, not everyone decides that weight loss is how they want to do that. I want to be clear, my story is in no way an indictment against heavier people. I know that some heavy people are as healthy, or healthier than some thin people.
My decision to lose weight was not because I have a poor body image. I didn’t consider myself overweight, and certainly not obese. I was curvy, Rubenesque, busty, My decision was not a response to anything other than collateral health concerns.
I was not body shamed by anyone. Even my doctors didn’t nag me about my weight other than to occasionally tell me losing extra pounds would be beneficial. My husband and kids have been only supportive. never criticizing.
My choice was primarily an effort to address an often frustrating litany of physical and physiological hurdles that were not, in most cases, caused by excessive weight, but will be easier to manage now.
I’ll go chronologically:
Hashimoto’s Disease – an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid causing it to be under-active. Wreaks havoc on your metabolism making losing weight extremely difficult. I was diagnosed around age 40.
My symptoms, taken individually, were innocuous: weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, thinning and brittle hair, weak fingernails, and eye tics. After taking note of all my complaints, the doctor actually told me that it was probably only age-related. “You are 40 years old after all.”
She seemed almost disappointed when test results came back indicating thyroiditis. (She didn’t remain my doctor much longer after that.)
I now take Armour thyroid, a natural hormone replacement, and my TSH and T4/T3 levels are well within normal ranges.
Hashimoto’s can’t be cured, but it can be managed. Losing weight has allowed me to reduce the dosage of my hormone replacements. To me, less medication is better.
Rheumatoid arthritis – my second autoimmune disorder. RA affects joints, muscle, skin… just about every part of your body can be adversely impaired. I got this diagnosis when I was 43 after a difficult family vacation to D.C. that left me exhausted and in constant pain.
Unlike osteoarthritis which can affect a single joint – a knee, hand, elbow – RA is bilateral. If your right knee is arthritic, so is your left knee; right hand, left hand; right hip, left hip… and so on.
My RA manifests in my lower extremities – feet, knees, hips, and lower back. There is no medication, like Armour, that can counter this disease. The RA factor is what it is, it cannot be changed like with thyroiditis, and brought back to normal levels.
RA symptoms can only be mitigated. Carrying fewer pounds means less stress on my joints, and less stress can mean less pain.
For more than 10 years, I took Mobic, a potent anti-inflammatory. A lifesaver when your joints become swollen and painful. Except for… side effects. A major side effect of chronic use of this drug is kidney damage.
Chronic Kidney Disease – I have Stage 3 CKD. My kidneys are now working at less than an optimal level. I got this diagnosis in 2017, I was 55.
To avoid inflicting any further kidney damage, I can no longer take anti-inflammatories. This includes not only Mobic but OTC meds like Advil, Aleve, ibuprofen, and aspirin. I can use Tylenol, and my cold therapy machine is magic. Ice is my best friend.
My diet also had to change – limiting salt, potassium, and protein intake; increasing fluids; avoiding most citrus (oddly lime and lemons are okay), tomatoes, bananas, and most seeds and nuts.
Losing weight will mean my kidneys won’t have to work harder. The change may not reverse the damage already done, but it could stall further decline.
Full joint replacement – in late 2018, after 18 months of increasingly worsening knee pain, after three rounds of physical therapy, numerous cortisone shots, a knee brace, and resorting to using a shower seat because of poor balance, my orthopedist told me I needed a new right knee. The cartilage, ligaments, and all of the things that cushioned my knee were worn away to the point that it was just bone grinding on bone.
After major, invasive surgery, and a year of intense rehabilitation, I can finally walk without excruciating pain. I also have an epically cool scar. What I didn’t have following surgery was clearance to take anti-inflammatories during my recovery. That was difficult, and I think extended my rehab beyond what is typical. The excess weight I was carrying then, I believe, also slowed down recovery.
Luckily, my left knee has not deteriorated to the extreme my right knee did. Carrying fewer pounds means less stress on my joints. Hopefully, that means I can put off any other surgeries indefinitely.
Pre-diabetes – as I explained in my last post, earlier this year results from routine lab work I have done every three months to monitor my Hashimoto’s and kidney function levels, showed my A1C was elevated. I was already labeled obese due to my weight, so this pre-diabetes diagnosis should not have been a surprising development. But, it was, and as such, was my impetus to finally address my weight.
This condition is also my only diagnosed weight-related condition, and the only one losing weight was able to alleviate.
We are now caught up to this past March. I have a new, bionic knee and plenty of time to work on weight loss. I have no more excuses.