Thursday, June 18, 2015

Blood labs, sugar, and diet pills...WTF

I am eleven years out from gastric bypass surgery.  Every year I go in to have my blood drawn and my vitamin levels tested.  Pretty much every year, at least one thing is bad.  On a fairly consistent basis, though, my liver panels have been off.  Right after surgery, apparently it was expected.  Quick weight loss causes fatty liver.  Who knew?  But in the long term, what causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is...SUGAR!

My favorite pole performance
Last year, I updated everyone on my post-surgery blood labs.  It was a lot of the same.  If you: Eat better.  Exercise more.  Lose weight.  Your levels will fix themselves.  My vitamins were okay but my liver panels were off.  Last night, I went in for my annual appointment.  I had expectations that they would be pretty good.  Sure, I've been struggling a bit with sugar lately, but I am NOWHERE near where I was last year when I started this adventure with Ellen.  My doctor comes in with the lab results.  My liver panels jumped.  Really high.  And my doctor's response?  Here are some diet pills.

How did I get back here?

I blame my weight but I actually did a spreadsheet today to track my labs over the last few years.  It is the AST and ALT that are always elevated.  So, let's see if there's a pattern.

Date          Weight          AST (10-30)          ALT (6-29)
3/2013        257               33                           21                          (fairly normal levels)
6/2014        257               57                           37                          (started working with Ellen)
9/2014        246               42                           29
12/2014      244               39                           29                          (almost normal again!)
6/2015        255               48                           30                          (WTF?!)

Okay, I went from 263 pounds (12/2013) down to 242 (10/2014) and now back up to 255, but why did the AST jump ten points?  When I weighed essentially the same weight in 2013, my levels were normal!  (P.S. I started that really crappy job in San Francisco in October 2012 and left in February 2014.  It is entirely possibly that the horrible numbers in 2014 were a direct result of how many cupcakes (and really unhealthy lunches) I was eating at that job.  My favorite sandwich was a grilled cheese with mac and cheese in the middle.  Seriously.)

I was broken when I left my doctor's office.  I didn't say a word.  I just took that stupid prescription.  My mind was racing.  What could it hurt to take a few pills?  Lose the weight, stop taking them, then I'll be all fixed and I won't gain the weight back...this time.  I think I've been through this before.  So many times, I can't even count.  Luckily, I looked up the prescription and learned I had actually already taken it under a different name and had a really bad reaction to it (it is also an anti-depressant).  I already knew I shouldn't take that prescription but that helped me make a more final decision.  No diet pills for me.  I e-mailed my doctor and explained why I wouldn't be turning in the prescription.  His response was that I needed to take this seriously because fatty liver could kill me.  Life is going to kill me.  And so will all the drugs doctors try to push on me.

I went to yoga and cried through the entire class.  I cried all the way home.  I cried while I fell asleep.  It's the same question I ask every time.  WHY ME?  Why do *I* have to struggle so much with these issues?  I know that drugs and surgery and diets aren't the way to fix me.  With Ellen's help, I KNOW how to do all the right stuff.  I need my brain fixed.  I need the thing fixed that tells me I need to turn to sugar (or you understand why I don't have credit cards even though my debit card number has been stolen twice this year already!) when any amount of stress hits me.  Because I went months last year without issue.  I don't even know if there was a single issue that made me turn back to sugar.  Maybe just the fact that it was available in my office because Halloween happened and there was candy at every desk.  What I do know is that I need to stop thinking about sugar as an optional item.  I can't have it.  There is no "everything in moderation" for me.  I cannot handle sugar (and no one should...go watch the documentary, Fed Up).

I am still listening to the Psychology of Eating podcasts and watching their videos.  I would like to save up for their eight week online program.  I found a program in my own town that may be covered by my insurance, but it requires me to leave work an hour early four days a week for 11 weeks.  I'm not ready to tell them I'm that broken.  Plus, it seems to focus on modeling good food behaviors.  I know the right behaviors.  I need my brain fixed.  I am searching for a new psychologist who actually specializes in eating disorders.  I have gone to therapy many times, but I never really make my food issues a topic of discussion.

In the meantime, Ellen would also like me to get tested for food and gut sensitivities.  She can help make an educated guess about what is happening inside my body, but since I've had my digestive system re-routed, we don't really know.  The good news is that I didn't let last night's freak out turn into a sugar binge today.  I have been working out consistently (yoga generally five days a week, Jazzercise once a week, couch to 5k once a week; soon to get back to pole after a shoulder strain a month ago).  I am still eating proper meals way more often than not (but will admit I eat popcorn for dinner when I'm in "that" kind of mood -- it is made with olive oil though and popped on the stove, not in the microwave).  The candy has been banished from my office.  I'm not even adding sugar to my tea in the morning!  I do still wonder why the fuck I keep passing up cupcakes at work, though, if my labs are going to keep doing whatever they feel like doing.

Someday soon, I hope, I will be a normal girl.  A girl who just gets up every day and only has to worry about which outfit she is going to wear to work.  I should track all of my thoughts about food and weight so I can actually show people how much of my life is wasted worrying about dumb shit.

Point your toes!
Anyway, I am still feeling grateful for the friends who listen to me and help me as much as they can.  I know no one can save me but me...and I am still trying to do that.  I was just thinking the other day how awesome my life has been lately and I started worrying how I would deal when something "bad" happened.  I guess in the whole scheme of "bad," this was really no big deal.  And I talked myself down without any true damage.  Once again, I have to just take it one day at a time.  It is time to merge what I've learned from Ellen with the skills a psychologist can hopefully give me to help with this crazy brain I have.

My niece is only six months old.  I don't want her to see me like this.  I don't want her to learn how to have a disordered relationship with food or hate her body because she sees her Aunty that way.  I was named after my mom's best friend.  She was my Auntie Lori.  She had anorexia.  And she killed herself six years ago.  I can't be that Aunty Lori.  I need to be healthy and strong to show that little girl that women can be any shape or size, still be healthy and still love their bodies.

If you have any suggestions for podcasts or websites that may help, please suggest them below.  I'm desperate and I will do anything to fix myself!


  1. Great blog post! There are a few gastric bypass surgeries in my immediate family. Few people understand this surgery, but I do. I also understand sugar addiction--and, sadly, am hooked. Having successfully broken my sugar addiction a few times using the Candida diet (the withdrawal symptoms were worse than quitting drugs), I am ashamed that I went back to eating sugar again. At the beginning, the sugar would make me sick--yet, I persevered on and re-addicted my body and brain. Trying to get myself back on track, I watch "The Skinny on Obesity" every week. Corn syrup causes cirrhosis of the liver, but sugar is also extremely damaging.I think I will write my thesis on sugar as a neurotoxin. Thank you.

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