Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday!!!

For those who do not know me, I have been struggling with my weight for a long time.  I was heavier in high school, and took off a lot of weight after graduation.  Then in August of 2007, I had a set back and doubled my weight in about 3 months.  Because of my health set backs then, I also battled depression.  I became an emotional eater, and ate my way through life.  By May/June of 2011, I was 388 pounds!  I had almost tripped my weight since I lost it all the first time.  Because of my multiple autoimmune issues, and other health issues, weight loss in general was never easy.

I was not happy with my self at all.  I was in a shell.  I did not want to leave my bedroom.  I was diagnosed with PTSD in addition to my anxiety disorder and depression.  I would not go anywhere alone, even to my doctors or CVS!  I refused to drive.  My mother carted me around everywhere, and even came into the rooms at the doctors with me.  When I got home, I would hang out in my room, eat junk food, watch TV, play on the computer, etc.  I even had a fear of leaving my room to shower or use the bathroom. 

Then one day I was just not happy like that.  I decided to step outside my shell and visit my best friend in England.  I flew all the way to England alone!  Me, the one who wouldn't go to CVS and pick up my insulin or test strips alone at 24/25 years old!  I got on an airplane by my self, had a layover in a foreign country, and went to England to visit my bff.  Accomplishing that, I decided I need to change myself to be happy. In England, my friend did not drive.  If she wanted to go somewhere, she walked, used the bus, or took the train.  I took on a huge appreciation for  walking to the store if you needed something.  Most places we went, we took the bus or walked.  Even with the bus, we still did a lot of walking.  While in England, I lost a lot of weight.  I had to get safety pins to hold up my jeans.  But I struggled walking and got short of breath easily.  I decided I needed to change this.

Over the past (almost) 3 years, I worked on my weight.  The first 75 lbs was a breeze for me.  Then I hit a lump.  I was flip flopping in 10-20 pound ranges for months.  The past 6 months to a year were the worst.  I was able to get under 300 pounds, but I kept gaining and losing between 285-300 mark.  I set a short term goal of getting under 280.  It seemed like I would never be able to get there.  I started to get discouraged.  But my awesome medical team came to my rescue and supported me.  They helped me work thru this hump.

About 2 weeks ago I stepped on the scale for my weekly weigh in.  I was 279.9 lbs!  I was so happy to see a number under 280.  But I kept to myself.  I didn't want to "jinx" things.  I was thinking it was just a one time thing and the following week I would of gained again.  The next week at my weekly weigh in, I was 279.8 lbs.  Yes I only lost 0.1 pounds, but I was proud I did not gain.  Then today I was quite surprised with myself.  I stepped on the scale and was 278.8!!!!  I made it over this hump I could not get over.  I am so happy with myself today...I don't think anything could ruin my day.  I may never forget this day.  I don't think I been happier in my life than I was today to accomplish such a huge goal to me.

Because of this accomplishment, I had curiosity and wanted to pull up old pictures of myself.  Most I had deleted.  I did not want to look at the "fat and ugly" me.  Of the current photos I had, most were just head shots.  I wanted to hid my "fat" from my friends.  So I just took upper body/head shots.  I hid the rest.  I would wear baggy clothing or sweats thinking it helped hide that instead of wearing flattering figured clothing. 

I was able to find a photo of myself in England at my highest weight.  I put it next to a photo I took last month showing off a top I sewed.  I can see huge differences.  I look so much "skinnier" today than I did almost 3 years ago.  Yes I am still "fat".  Yes I have a lot more weight to lose.  But looking at my heaviest made me feel so proud and good about myself. 

Many times along the way I just wanted to give up.  I wanted to go back to my shell, in my bedroom all day long.  Pigging out on candy and junk food.  And the only social contact I had (besides family) would be with people online who could not "see" me.  But I am so proud I did not give in.

Now some may say so what you lost weight, anyone can do this.   But guess what I learned the hard way it is not as easy as many people think.  The weight goes on nice and easy, but it doesn't come off just as fast as it went on.  And having health issues in the mix makes it even more challenging.

I have Addison's Disease. (Autoimmune adrenal insufficiency.)  My body does not make any steroids.  Therefore, I have to take a set dose of steroids daily.  Then I have a sliding scale of prednisone.  If I am sick, under more than normal stress, need surgery, break a bone, etc I have to take prednisone on top of my normal steroids. Steroids are not diabetes friend or Addison's.  Steroids are known to make you gain weight.  I feel steroids work against weight loss.

I also have Hashimoto's.  (Autoimmune hypothyroidism.)  Hypothyroidism in general is linked to weight loss as your thyroid doesn't produce any or enough of it's hormones that help you maintain your metabolism.  I have to take synthroid daily.  Every 3 months, my endo checks my thyroid levels, and on occasion I have to adjust my dose. 

And my asthma doesn't always play nice with weight loss.  This past year alone, I have had 3 severe asthma attacks all requiring ER intervention; one attack I was admitted to the hospital.  With every attack I go on high doses of steroids.

And then of course is the type 1 diabetes.  Every single low we have, we need to consume more carbs to bring it up which means more calories.  Yes I try hard to maintain excellent control of my T1D, and I think I'm doing a darn good job at it.  My last A1c was 6.5%.  Which I am quite proud of.  (Steroids don't play nice with the D either.)  But we all still have our lows.  They happen.  Sometimes for no good reason.

I have gastroparesis.  It is not well controlled (working on better treatments).  Sometimes I will vomit (sorry if TMI but its the truth with GP) several times a day just because I can't digest my food and it has to come out somehow. 

My endo and GI doctor wanted me to see a nutritionist.  I was a bit offended and taken back.  I hardly ate a thing and still got sick.  I knew what I needed to eat, I knew how to count my carbs, etc.  But I decided to go as my insurance would pay 100% of it with no copay.  Figured if the visit was free, what could I lose?

The nutritionist looked over my diet.  The first words out of her mouth were "I know why you are vomiting a lot".  Even though I was hardly eating anything, I was eating in the wrong ways.  She also said something along the lines of not being able to get over this weight loss hump.  She explained how even though I ate almost nothing, because I would go such long periods of time and then put a lot of food into me, my GP could not handle it and my stomach needed it out.  Because I was getting no nutrients, my body was going into starvation mode and turning everything into fat and storing it.  My metabolism was shutting down.

We made lists of foods that made me sick, and ones I did well with.  She made some suggestions to me of foods to try.  We worked thru and got a nice list together of what I could try.  She wanted me eating around 180 grams of carbs per day.  But, in 15-30g portions every 2 (3 hours max) all day long while awake.  Of course, I can be flexible if I wanted to eat something at one sitting higher in carbs and eat more towards 15 grams other times in the day.  As long as I had a little something every few hours all day long. 

I was also told not to eat any more than 3-4 ounces of meat a day (for me meat is very hard to digest) and only in 1-2 ounce max servings.  Due to my GP, it is best if I eat low fiber and low fat.  Due to allergies I cannot have fresh fruits or veggies (also higher in fiber so upsets my GP).  I am to eat gluten free grains to the best of my ability (I am gluten intolerant but also budget wise I can't afford tons of gluten free specific items).  If I was to eat gluten pasta, white regular pasta over whole wheat (same with bread).  White rice instead of  brown.  Canned fruits.  Canned or frozen veggies over raw or fresh.  If I wanted fresh veggies, cook them mushy.  Grind up/cut finely meats.  I am to have a "meal replacement' shake daily to get some nutrients in me that I'm not getting from foods.  Greek yogurt to help get some other nutrients and dairy stuff in me.  She even approved pudding!  Some of these foods people think are no no's for diets.

She made a comment that what she is telling me to do is against everything she instills in for healthy eating. But my case was different.  I had medical issues that prevented me eating how most consider healthy for someone with diabetes and trying to lose weight.

During this appointment I was looking at the lady like she was crazy!  Saying things reverse from what we are taught.  Yes with type 1 diabetes, there is really no specific diet.  I can eat what I want, but of course in moderation.  And it is best for any person, diabetic or not, to follow a healthier diet.  I didn't think this was going to work.  But at this point I was willing to try it, only to prove to her that it wouldn't work.  I left with an attitude.

I did however follow as close to a T as possible what she said.  I weighed out portions. I ate every 2-3 hours in 15-30g increments.  That may of been something like a sandwich, a fruit cup, or even a pudding (good for bad GP days).   I logged everything in  an app to keep track of the what/when/how of what I ate.

In addition I took her advice of trying to get some sort of exercise.  She didn't even care if it was just 5 minutes.  She just wanted me moving a bit.  I made it my goal to try and get 30 minutes a day (and house work counts).  Of course with my latest asthma flair up, I have not been able to get that in.  But when you aren't breathing well, exercise isn't always the best idea.  I been making it a goal to vacuum my apartment daily because guess what...that is burning calories and moving.  I try to play Wii fitness type games to get me moving too.  I also want to add the school gym at least once a week so I can do something different (like ride a bike). 

And guess what...today proved my theory wrong.  She was right...It helped me lose more weight.  It reinforced me to stick to this plan.  My GP is still bad, but I'm not getting as sick as often.  And I bet it's because I'm not starving myself all day and binging to the point I overfill my stomach at night.  Because of today's accomplishment I made the above photo.  I wanted to make a memory.  I printed it out.  I see one of my doctors next week and I am bringing this along to show them.  My doctors here have only known me for about a year. (Lived in MA before.)  They don't know me when I was at my heaviest weight.  Yes I told them, but I think seeing a picture will help them notice how far along I came.  I was so excited I had to post all over facebook.  Typically women don't share their weight.  But I am so darn proud of myself I had to share.

I really bothers me and makes me unhappy to be "fat".  I don't care what my weight is.  It is just a number.  I care more about feeling healthy.  I care what society thinks of me.  Which is very funny, because in all three photos of me, I am the same person, just a different number.  I don't know why I let that bother me, but today I slapped myself.  I am no longer allowing myself to think that way.  I am on cloud 9 and focusing on where I was, where I am now, and where I am headed.  My friends and family will still love me for who I am regardless what number I am.  I need to thank all my family, friends, DOC, and medical team for cheering me on. Thank you to everyone who shared encouraging words, or even just "liking" my photo on Facebook.  It means a lot.  A whole lot.  It tells me you like me for who I am not what I look like or what number I am. 

I also know I am not the only female or type 1 diabetic out there with a weight issue.  I want you all to know that this is possible.  Yes it is work, but it is possible to lose weight.  Yes it happens slower than we would like, but it is possible.  Please do not give up.  Do not let your fears, challenges, society, etc to win.  If I can do this, you can do this.  The only quitting you should do is quit on giving up. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hello My Name Is...

Just wanted to share a little introduction about me.
I am Kris (aka Kristen).  I am 28 years old.  I grew up outside Boston, MA in Wilmington, but now living in Reading, PA (about 40-60 miles north west of Philadelphia area).  I am at a local community college studying accounting.  Working towards my associates degree and see where I go from there.

I have type 1 diabetes.  Today actually marks my 12 year "Diaversary".  I currently use the Medtronic MiniMed Revel 723 insulin pump and Dexcom G4 CGMS. I am just not a diabetic though.  I also have 2 other auto immune conditions, Hashimoto's (autoimmune hypothyroidism) and Addison's (auto immune adrenal insufficiency). 

I actually have what is called "Type II Polyglandular Autoimmune Syndrome".  Much like Type 1 Diabetes, no one really knows why it is caused.  There is susceptibility of a genetic link and environmental triggers.  Basically it means multiple autoimmune diseases.  I don't like the word diseases though.  It makes me feel like I'm sick and unable to get better.  Yes these conditions will not go away, but they are manageable.  Yes it takes work, but I live as healthy as I can.  There is also risk of developing celiac disease, which I am closely monitored for.

My Mother always insisted I would be as normal as possible with diabetes.  I hold the same value.  I try hard not to let things stop me.  Yes sometimes I need to pick a different route to where I want to be, but I get there.  My goal now is finishing college.  I have had so many medical setbacks over the years from my diagnosis.  Just like being newly diagnosed with T1, these other conditions have learning curves too, and no set clear answer on how much medicine you need (just like no set dose for our insulin...everyone's needs are different). 

I started college here in PA January 2013 at Reading Area Community College (RACC).  I have intentions of someday holding my masters, possibly doctorate degree.  I have was able to make Deans List the Spring 2013 semester.  For Summer 2013 and Fall 2013, I made Presidents list! In October last year, I was invited and inducted to join Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society (PTK), a 2 year college level of international honor society.  One of the most well respected  honor societies at my education level.  I hold a GPA of  3.985 and have completed 35 credits.  This may seem like nothing to some, but for someone with the daily challenges I sometimes have, it is huge to me.  In the past I wasn't able to do this much schooling.  I can't wait to finish my degree at RACC and move on to my next challenge, but taking it one step at a time. 

In addition to school, I help out with several different diabetes organizations.  I love helping and working with other diabetics.  I also enjoy their company.  To me it's like finding a long lost family member every time I meet a new person (or parent of a child) with diabetes.  Today I had the positive experience of a male class mate around my age approaching me as he saw my insulin pump.  He pulled out his pump, same make just a different color, and was so ecstatic to know there was someone else like him out there.  I had the same joy.  Yes I know many who pump because of social media, yes I do have local T1 and pumper friends....but it is just as exciting every time you find someone new.  I look forward to meeting all of you out there reading this who I have not met before...and developing stronger friendships with all of my "DOC" family.

With DOC Love,

Life Inside the Blue Circle

Well Hello There!

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Diane and as a parent of a child with diabetes, and a wife to a husband with Type 1, as well, I can relate very well to our logo. Life inside a community of people who are pressing boundaries, raising awareness, and money, all in the name of finding a cure for Diabetes, and better, more advanced technology. I am grateful for the efforts made by so many, for so many more.

When my son was diagnosed in 2010, I was certain my world, the one I had settled into quite nicely before autoimmunity entered, was over. And honestly, it was. I languished in fear and confusion for days on end. I read every single publication on paper and the internet....which in hindsight, was a HUGE mistake. I carried every symptom ever experienced by anyone with diabetes, blood sugar related or not, in a pit in my stomach, hovered over my three year old....just watching, and praying that we never experienced one. You know that feeling, that slice right into your insides, where nothing can comfort it....that fear? If you don't then you are lucky. I started talking about diabetes online, on Facebook...of all places, to my friends, and family. I stalked our endo's pages and looked for names of other parents of children with diabetes. Then, one day, an old friend, from my hometown, sent me an email, wanting to introduce me to another mother with a child who had diabetes, that her and her husband knew well.

Pretty soon, I met several thousand people online. ALL of whom had a diabetes connection. They, we, are referred to as the DOC....the Diabetes Online Community, and what an amazing place to find yourself if autoimmunity has entered your life.

I was not alone.

Diabetes brings complications, not just for the patient. My marriage ended. My child was diagnosed with a life long chronic disease, which is often misunderstood, and is as complicated to "manage" or "control" as the national budget....and folks, those politicians have staff. I had a laptop, a box of needles and a three year old who didn't take getting multiple injections daily, sitting down. I met so many wonderful people because of this disease....including Tony, who somehow, miraculously, tolerated me stalking his blog, my constant emails, and out of our friendship, grew a relationship, which resulted in me hearing the sweetest words ever, in September 2013.....he softly sealed the deal with *I do.*

We created this blog, and our Facebook page for you and others to have a place to advertise and promote your efforts in spreading diabetes awareness. Our parent site fostered the idea to have the Luminaries, or advocates, prepare events in areas all over the globe. The idea took off immediately and now those devoted advocates will be bringing their awareness campaigns to you via this blog and our pages.

Thank you for the overwhelming response to continue doing what we do. Check back often as we will update content frequently.

Warmest regards from my DOC family to yours.

Diane Cervati