Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I had an excellent comment on my post of 2 days ago. Although I did not mean to trivialize the difficulties of thinner people who struggle with food, it came off that way. People who are thin can also struggle with food obsession and addiction and are as desperate as those who show the disease outwardly. I'm putting the comment out here as today's post. It's said better than I could ever say it.

"I would just like to add something to this posting. Being a certain weight does not always determine the severity of an eating disorder. "Skinny" or "normal weight" people (that may not be obviously struggling with food issues) may be dealing with food addiction/aversion issues far worse than their outward appearance shows. Bulimia, anorexia, and generalized disordered eating are unfortunately extremely common now, and these eating disorders cause serious health problems that can be fatal- just like food addiction and overeating. Also, "poor body image" and "falling for the fashion industry's body prototype" are serious issues that plague many women and should not be taken lightly...just like food addiction shouldn't. Many of the comments that women make that cause hurt for others are simply an indication that they have some sort of food issue of their own they are struggling with. I think it is important to remember that when we see someone who may look perfect to the outside world, they are just as likely to be struggling with food issues as anyone else. Like you said- these are diseases. Disorders and diseases associated with food don't always make people overweight (and therefore aren't always easy to spot). Disorders associated with food also rarely have anything to do with the persons actual outside appearance, so the "lucky" people who are thin and appear fit do not always see themselves the way others do. In fact, they can be just as tortured by food addiction and disease as people who are overweight and addicted to food. "

Thank you for that much needed correction and insight.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Lost between 15-20 lbs.

Ate Tilapia and Cauliflower twice today. Ate tiny bites well-chewed, but still, real food.

Egg whites need to have milk, dash salt, chili pepper, and ground pepper, fork whipped, fried in Pam, and sprinkled with low-fat Mexican cheese. Otherwise throw them out.

Get 32 oz. fluid intake and your milk intake by using decaf coffee poured over ice with milk and Splenda. Sip slowly and enjoy. One in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Refried beans with green chiles, sprinkled with low-fat Mexican cheese, with green hot sauce, tastes pretty good and gives you protein.

Protein comes before everything else. Eat it first and most. The stomach doesn't hold a lot and the body needs protein to heal and to keep the body from losing muscle while losing weight.

Feel free to fart frequently.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Wow! I just reread yesterday's post. I must have had that one percolating for a long time.

I wonder if those of you who don't really struggle with this eating disorder know what its like to sit and listen when you make comments about other people's weight, when you brush off the seriousness of the disease by saying, "Oh, everyone struggles with that!"

No, they don't. Other people may have to watch their weight or think they have to watch their weight. They may have a few pounds to lose. If they are successful they are quick to tell everyone what worked for them, especially to those who have much more to lose than they did. But they don't wake up fixated on what food they'll eat that day. Food doesn't dominate their lives. It hasn't wrecked their health.

So many women talk about their weight and their need to lose pounds when the only thing wrong with them is poor body image and falling for the fashion industries anorexic portrayal of what women are supposed to look like.

Most of us who have this disease would give almost anything to look like you. I would give anything to look the way I did as a teenager--when I thought I was fat and first started dieting.

You may never directly have criticized us or put us down. You may never directly have implied that we should have more willpower. You don't have to. We internalize all the looks and comments you make about others and about yourselves and your imaginary fat. We supply the shame ourselves.

And shame turns into blame. It's society's fault, it's my parent's fault, it's emotional eating, it's the result of being depressed, ADHD, whatever.

Those can be contributing factors. But basically, we were born with a predisposition to food addiction--some more severely than others. This is not gluttony. We eat out of compulsion. Some days we fight the compulsion more successfully than others.

Some of the shame we feel dies away when we know and can accept that those compulsions are part of the way we were made, like the color of our eyes, or having knock knees. Seeking medical solutions is a healthy way to take care of ourselves--like my granddaughter getting orthotics to help straighten out her rapidly growing legs to prevent future problems.

Praise God for supplying our needs medically--for inspiring Dr.s to come up with improved methods to help us beat this life-threatening disease. Maybe we need to come up with marathons and walkathons and purple ribbons to raise money and awareness and to show support for those of us fighting this disease. Purple because our hearts are wounded. Purple because all the other good colors are taken. Purple because we too, are God's childen. That makes us royalty.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guilt, Shame, and Other Ineffective Motivators

Let me get this right out in front. Food addiction is not sin. Glorying in it is. Flaunting it is. Refusing to do anything about it is.

Using willpower doesn't work for long except in very anal people, which I am not. For most of us, this is the thorn in the flesh that God refuses to remove, despite ernest prayer and pleas. Different methods work for different people, but having people guilt you, shame you, humiliate you, preach at you, quote Bible verses to you, tell you you just need willpower, or to pray harder, doesn't work. In fact, most of these things backfire, cause even more guilt and shame than we already carry, and drive us deeper into the food.

Scientists are working on drugs that work on those addiction centers of the brain that control the cravings for over-eating as well as other addictions. This is a brain-based disease and most of us can trace the cravings back to early childhood whether our bodies reflected the disorder or not.

Most of us have fought long and hard to contain the cravings. Yet the disease grows along with our hopelessness. We lose weight only to regain it with interest.

In addition to the cravings for the substance itself, food is a proven numbing medication for issues like sexual and physical abuse, service to others at the expense of taking care of ourselves, stuffing our feelings and not speaking up for ourselves, depression, and in my case I would add, ADHD.

For me, food helps me concentrate and sit still. The restlessness that overwhelms me, the stillness and concentration that society and social convention require from me are brought under control with food--especially chocolate.

This is the only addiction that requires you to indulge it 3x a day. We can't live with food and we can't live without it.

Don't judge us. Don't give us advice. Pray for us. Love us. Accept us the way we are. This is a disease of silence. but our bodies speak louder than our words. Encourage us to break our silence, to talk about the pain of our condition--which is the human condition, under which all creation groans, waiting for that final redemption.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Obsession Lurks

I thoroughly enjoyed eating chicken today at my grandson's birthday party. (I also thoroughly enjoyed the party and playing with my grandkids.) I was careful to chew each piece to mush before swallowing and to avoid drinking liquids for half an hour before and after. I also had a little hummus, which, like the refried beans I'm allowed to have, is fairly high protein. If I could have eaten more, I would. The taste was amazing and I enjoyed each bite. The temptation to keep eating, however slowly, however uncomfortable I was, was unbelievable. I was grateful for my new stomach which did the weighing and measuring for me, and for the knowledge that I'd be in pain and would throw up if I kept eating.

Some of the food nazis I met in Overeater's Anonymous are convinced that sugar is behind food addiction. Sugar and carbs--particularly simple carbs. Shoot your blood sugar up and you shoot up your cravings. Eliminate all sugar from your diet and you'll eliminate the cravings. They search for carbs in everything they might eat like gold miners panning for gold. Well, I was doing pure protein with the chicken and I've been on high protein for a couple of weeks and my addiction was triggered by a non-carb. It was the taste, smell and sight of food I really love.

Does it help to greatly reduce simple sugars? Sure. Does it eliminate the cravings? No. Only God can do that since they have not yet come up with a really effective medical solution, and it seems he prefers I continue to struggle.

So the choice is: do I go through the struggle with him or without him? Do I allow the struggle to draw me closer to him and make me more dependant on him? Do I continue to be transparent and honest about this struggle in this blog or do I fudge over these issues and be a Polyanna Chrsitian?

I learned to work a 12 step program in Alanon and OA and it always comes back to the first 3 steps.

1. Admitted I was powerless over (whatever your obsession may be) and its making my life unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to my Higher Power.

One day at a time, one minute at a time, one swallow at a time, one bite at a time

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Joy of Food

Today I went shopping for food. I fixed food for myself, something I seldom do. Food addiction robbed me of the joy of picking out food from the grocery store and fixing it. I avoided both in an effort to prevent triggering over-eating. But today I had the challenge of making egg whites taste good. I tried chili powder, ground black pepper, a sprinkling of salt and a sprinkling of lowfat cheddar cheese. Not bad.

Food addiction robs us of so much joy. The joy of really enjoying our food. We gobble it without tasting, or we only taste the first few bites. Going through a store with food triggers cravings. Cooking food triggers craving. If we make something the way we really like it, we can't stop eating it. We eat out because quantities are limited. Except that everything is supersized.

Maybe I can get that joy back. I remember cooking by the seat of my pants, a little of this, a little of that, what's in the cabinets and fridge, what will happen if I put this with that, probably better never make that again, that was surprisingly tasty. Couldn't follow a recipe to save my life. Couldn't go to the grocery store with a list and come home with everything on it. But I liked cooking.

I'm on soft foods for 2 weeks. I'm actually excited about seeing what I can do with some limited options. I'm even planning ways to make the food something my husband might even eat.

Joy. Joy of food. Joy of cooking. Joy of life. The way God intended it to be. I don't want to go back to the way life is not supposed to be. The joy of the Lord will have to be my strength.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Taking the Bad with the Good

I'm crabby. I haven't been kind to my husband. We are in the middle of a heat wave and our air has been out. I'm trying to sleep at home, since I didn't sleep well at my mother's. Also, 2 nights in a row, the laxative I took before going to bed came back up on me. Last night was particularly bad. I don't think it ever dissolved and went down the donut hole. Maybe it was oil and floated. It hit the back of my throat and I woke up coughing and gagging to the point of having trouble breathing. Without thinking I'd reswallowed the mess along with all the saliva that'd been activated. My poor little new tummy. It all came up again and I ended up for the next hour coughing and spitting out or wiping out all the saliva and phlegm out of my mouth so my tummy would get a rest. Plus the pain of swallowing was back.

Setbacks are part of life. I will not take that particular laxative again and certainly not at that time. I realized that I might have some real difficulties whenever I get a cold. I don't want to even think about stomach "flu." Fortunately I don't get frequent colds (I think I had one last year) and I get a stomach bug about once every 5-7 years. I really hate throwing up so that's an added incentive to keep the amount of food in my stomach small.

Right now my tummy holds about 2 oz. Once healed it will hold closer to 6 oz. That's a fraction of what it used to hold.

It's midnight and the house has not yet cooled down at all. I've apologized to my husband. My tummy had a different laxative much earlier and everything seems quite settled. Hopefully I'm so tired I'll sleep despite the heat. I'll position the fan to blow on me.

On the blessing side, I went to my daughter's house to stay cool and babysat my 2 yr. old grandson Joshua. He was a joy to be with and enjoyed eating all of my special foods with me. I brought plenty because I knew that would happen. He kissed my tummy to make it better when I showed him the bruising and incision so he would know he couldn't maul me the way he frequently does.

Thank you Lord for providing the medical means to help me get this disease under control. Thank you for grandchildren who make having the surgery to regain my health all worth while. Thank you for air conditioning and for having to live and sleep without it so that I will once again appreciate it. Thank you for setbacks that make me apprecaite when all is going well. Thank you for cream of chicken soup. Every drop was delicious.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I'm adding real food, real liquid food. I had a small amount of cream of tomato soup today. I enjoyed every drop, and that's how I drank/ate it--drop by drop. At least I started out that way. Although I continued to eat drop by drop, I stopped being aware of the taste and the eating became automatic until suddenly my final swallow ended up right back in my mouth. Suddenly I was aware of the taste again. There's a Hindu philosophy/practice called mindfulness. I don't know a lot about it, but it sounds like trying to be aware constantly of all the tastes, sights sounds, textures, smells we are experiencing. It involves being fully present in the moment.

Food isn't the only thing I'm not mindful of or present for. In fact, food is one of the things that keeps me from being mindful of and fully present for my own life. It's just one of the drugs I use. I tend to inhale mystery books the way I inhale food. I'm so busy racing to figure out who done it I seldom stop to savor the writing (though frankly, most books aren't well-written enough to deserve that kind of treatment.) I read a book by Dean Koontz yesterday involving a character named Odd Thomas. It was incredibly well-written, so well-written I re-read paragraphs to figure out the meaning of odd phrasing, savor philosophical discussions, and delight in eerily beautiful descriptions.

Maybe you've seen the movie "Click" with Adam Sandler. Adam acquires a special remote that allows him to fast forward on automatic pilot those areas of life that bore him, or exhaust him. He soon finds he can't control the remote and it fast forwards him through things he didn't want to miss.

Mindfulness sounds to me like something I need to do. Be present in the moment. Enjoy every bite, savor every drop--not only of food but of life. Even when my ADHD takes me on unexpected mental vacations, I want to be more consciously aware of my thoughts. I often have great ideas. Then I don't write them down and I lose them.

I think Jesus lived in the present all the time. He was always fully aware of the moment. He rebuked those who tried to diminish those moments. "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Why are you bothering this woman, she has done a beautiful thing to me." And finally, fully conscious, "Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Now Comes the Hard Part

So, now comes the hard part: facing the addiction. I will be around food the rest of my life. My stomach will heal and start to stretch. The adjustable band will help keep it in check but I can still choose to make less healthy food choices frequently, and overstretch the stomach.

I will be eating a relatively normal, 3 meals a day diet with a small snack or 2. I will still be assaulted by the smell, taste, texture, sight and even sound of food. I'll have to cook food. I'll have to face overflowing buffets at every party I attend. People will talk about food and recipes. They'll even post pictures of their favorite foods on Facebook and describe what they're eating, have eaten, or are going to be eating.

Oh My God Help Me! My husband and I are going to have to sit in separate rooms in the evening because he eats non-stop junk food in front of the TV. He doesn't eat all day and then he eats all night.

But night-time is also when I'm on my computer writing this blog. And I will continue to write because you never become a recovered addict; you only become a recovering one.

There's something about writing. My subconscious comes to the surface and flows through my hands while I type and it appears in print. I can verbalize things I didn't even know I was thinking and feeling. It's like my left brain and right brain get together and try to cooperate for a change.

Every once in a while I write like I'm possessed. I get into a subject--particularly if I see a problem and possible solutions start occurring to me--and ideas fly from my fingers like confetti. That's how it is with this blog right now.

This time the problem is me--dealing with food, dealing with my brain's craving for food, dealing with life without excessive food to medicate my issues.

Having an audience helps hold me accountable. Telling you my story helps me to cope, to heal, and to figure out strategies. Hopefully, it also helps you.

I believe that the Holy Spirit still can inspire written words. Written words can, in turn, inspire others. This is not Holy Scripture, but when I feel compelled to write, I always sense the presence of the Holy Spirit. That can't be a bad thing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back to the Womb

The day of surgery I was hooked up to an IV which became my umbilical cord, bringing me nutrients and drugs needed to do the surgery. Now I'm a newborn baby, only able to drink in tiny quantities, not much nourishment yet, quickly filling my tiny tummy. In a couple more days, I'll be drinking richer liquids, but still only in tiny quantities. Gradually I'll be introducing soft baby food, with an emphasis on protein ground to mush. As I tolerate foods, more will be added until I'm eating grown up food--maybe I should qualify that--grown up healthy food.

Thankful I am for a Father who knew me before he formed me in my mother's womb, who knew me and the things I would stuggle with, who knew me and the things I'd be good at, and who has given me an opportunity to reprogram my body and my brain to His honor and glory.

Just like a newborn I'm prone to sharp pains in my tummy that travel up my esophagus. I have to burp up gas after each swallow to help prevent the pain. I could use someone to constantly burp me. If I overfill my tummy, I will throw up.

I am exchanging the freedom to eat what I want, as much as I want, whenever I want, for freedom from the tyranny of food addiction. As far as food is concerned, I've been reborn.

Its not a done deal. Its a process. Its one day at a time. Its letting go and letting God.

God is good--all the time.
All the time--God is good.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coping Without Food

Today, for the first time this summer, we needed our air-conditioning. It was out of freon. We paid twice the normal rate to have someone fill it. We ran out again. We will probably need to replace the air-conditioner for which we have no money.

We also need to dig up either the inside of our basement or the outside to put in draintile. All the basement paneling needs to be thrown out. The hidden walls are a mess as is the cement floor (we threw out the linoleum.) We were flooded twice last year in August and in November. The basement reeks and is basically unusable.

My husband lost his job a year ago and just now started receiving Social Security from taking early retirement. So far that money has been taken up by emergencies like the pothole that caused major damage to the car.

I'm also making less money due to the economy.

And so it goes. We're not unique; many people are struggling. I keep having to remember to thank God for the roof over my head (even though it leaks), the clothes on my back, the shoes on my feet, and the food on my table (even though I can't eat it right now.)

And I am physically incapable of turning to food to help me get through this. I have no choice but to deal with these things without turning to food.

I'm currently on clear liquids which provide very little nourishment and which I have to sip in unbelievably small sips in order to not incur pretty severe pain going up my esophagus.

Missed going to a party today because of the pain. But I took a long walk this morning, by the forest preserve, and saw a deer (which I love as long as they're not in my yard eating my flowers. I lost a bed of lilies.)

And so it goes. Back in April I woke up with a song based on Phillipians 4:10-13.

The words are:
Don't wanna be a superstar, don't need to drive a brand new car
Don't need to own a mansion, or wear the latest fashion
Don't wanna be a poor man, but don't need to be a rich man
For I am content, no matter what my circumstance
I am content, no matter what my lot
I know what it means to live in want or have plenty
I know the meaning of being content is
That I can do all things through him who strengthens me
Yes! I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sugery's Done, New Life's Begun

Surgery went well. The Dr. fixed a hiatal hernia (common with overweight people) which should fix my GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux). That'll be one less pill right there. However, with laparoscopic surgery air gets put into the abdominal cavity. Every time I take a sip of liquid and I swallow some air goes into my stomach which pushes on the air outside the stomach which presses some nerve in the diaphram that sends referred pain to the shoulders. I should absorb that air in a few days. My stomach's a little sore, but so far, there are very few repercussions to me physically. I'm only allowed to drink clear liquids for the first 5-7 days, and believe me, that's all I can handle.

I can't garden for a few weeks or take a bath or go swimming. There's a port under the skin that the Dr. will use to adjust my lap band (think inflatable doughnut.) He'll put a needle through that port to blow up the ring as my stomach shrinks and the band loosens. If I have complications, the band can be removed.

I am quite mobile, I can walk as much as I want, I just can't do anything strenuous that might move the band out of place. I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. I was very at peace before the surgery that I was doing the right thing and that God was with me.

I'm excited and scared about this new life but I know God is walking with me through it all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Christians and Closets

Surgery is tomorrow, Thursday. I have to be at the hospital at 8:30. I had confirmation today that I'm having this surgery in the nick of time. My pre-op blood tests came back and showed I'd moved from borderline diabetic to diabetic. That makes 3 co-morbidities. Lord I am tired of this disease!

It is amazing to me that Christians don't talk about food addiction and obesity. It's not like we can't see it. We may be in the closet about it but our stomach's are sticking right out of the closet for all the world to see. Some of the highest rates of obesity (as well as depression) among women exist in the Bible Belt of the South.

Shame, I'm sure, is the biggest reason we don't talk about it. We confuse food addiction with gluttony. But most of us who are food addicts have been battling it all our lives. We don't want this addiction. Nobody says when they're little, "I wanna be a fat food addict when I grow up." But we continue to eat even when we know its killing us. We stop for a while, lose some weight, and then the cravings and compulsions return more powerful than ever. And shame over our lack of control, shame over what we perceive as a lack of faith, or of obedience to the Word, drives us even deeper into the food.

Pastors don't preach about it because they'd lose some of their very best workers. We, the food addicts, help everyone else as "good" Christians, frequently negating ourselves, and then help ourselves to more food because it makes us feel better. We eat to medicate depression, and in my case, to medicate ADHD as well. It satisfies something in our brains and that enables us to keep functioning and keep from falling apart.

We don't seek medical help for what we now know is a medical condition because somehow that would make us bad Christians. So we stay in our closets and keep our mouths closed.

This blog is my way of coming out of the closet about my food addiction and the terrible toll its taken on me and on my family. Come out of the closet people and lets talk.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Validation and Pizza

The support of those I love and of various friends has been amazing. I feel supported and confident most of the time. I've been prayed with and prayed for and the degree of understanding and compassion has been very validating.

I've lost 10 lbs on this low-carb liquid diet which should be good for the surgery. Hopefully, my liver has shrunk. I haven't been very hungry which is amazing. Writing in this blog has been a tremendous release for me and is one of the reasons I think I'm not even thinking about food--most of the time. Tonight I was visiting with my granddaughter when my son said he'd ordered himself some pizza. I had to leave. Pizza is one of those foods I only eat at parties; I never have it at home. I absolutely can't stop eating it. I had to leave. I don't know if I'll ever have pizza again, and the temptation was overwhelming to have it one last time.

A few weeks ago, we had a healing service at church. The point was made that we need to thank God for the healing we will receive through medical services as well as through more direct intervention. We were encouraged to seek prayer for healing in whatever form God chose to grant it. I'm not afraid to have surgeries and take medicine for various conditions. I've prayed for healing--particularly for healing from food addiction, because so many of the other conditions are the result of my addiction. I've always felt that asking for relief from my other ailments would not be honored by God until the food addiction was dealt with.

So I went up and asked for prayer for healing in whatever ways God chose to grant it. After that is when the "If your eye offends you, pluck it out" verse came to me and I transposed it, humorously, and then seriously, to"If your stomach offends you, tie it off."

The amazing thing is, since the nurse called me with a date for the surgery, and I went ahead and scheduled it, I've been experiencing a lot less pain. The excercises I've been doing to stretch and strengthen my neck, lower back, and hips stopped killing me. The pain in my neck when I swing my arms while I walk, as well as the pain in my hips has subsided considerably. I tried out a different position while sleeping that seems to be helping both my neck and hips get stretched and positioned while I sleep. I'm sleeping better and able to stay asleep longer.

I had to go off my anti-inflammatory (non-steroidal drug) prior to surgery in order to prevent excessive bleeding and I thought I was going to be in a lot of pain for the week prior to surgery. I'm stiff, but acetaminaphin alone has been sufficient to handle the pain.

I can only imagine what kind of improvement I'll show once the weight is off.


Validation from my friends, family, and Heavenly Father. Priceless.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cost of Food Addiction

Sometimes I kid myself and think the only person I've hurt with my addiction is myself. My life so often consists of helping everyone else. How can I be hurting them?

Food is a barrier to intimacy. I don't talk while I eat. I'm totally absorbed in my food, which I devour like someone might take it away before I'm done. I just might stick them with a fork if they tried. I stand and stare at food which I want to eat but know I shouldn't. I leave conversations at parties in order to go snatch a little more food. I open and shut cabinets and refrigerator doors hoping there will be something in there that will quell the restlessness of ADHD but have no caloric impact. Fat chance.

Food has robbed the people around me of my presence and also of funds that could have been spent on things like home improvement and vacations. I don't want to even begin to tally up the costs, not only of excess food, but of medicine for conditions created or exacerbated by overweight, as well as over-the-counter supplements to try to prevent me from eating or to counter-balance the ill effects of overeating. I've spent money at weight watchers and Jenny Craig. I may have helped the economy but I robbed my family.

The epidemic of obesity in this country has raised the cost of insurance for everyone else astronomically. You're paying for my obesity.

Insurance companies don't make it easy to get this surgery. Personally, I think they might save money in the long run if they made it more available to those who are pre-morbidly obese, who have not yet become physically handicapped, diabetic, or had debilitating heart attacks or strokes, before the counter is lined by medicines needed to counteract the effects of obesity.

Nutritionists, weight-loss gurus, magazines, self-help groups, and Oprah all bombard us with information about the dangers of overeating and how we should eat, but that doesn't stop the compulsion and it hasn't even slowed down the epidemic. At the nutrition classes I was required to attend prior to surgery, I knew the answer to every question the nutritionist posed. Knowledge is not always power. Oprah, herself, is living proof. Even with her own pet nutritionists and work-out gurus, the weight came back.

I believe that I'm going to cost my family and the insurance company a lot less in the future. The Lord willing I'll be able to be there for my grandchildren, I'll be able to keep teaching full time, I'll be better off financially, I'll actually look at and talk to my husband while I eat, I'll feel better, look better, move better, and not make a meal out of pills. I'll be able to be the best Cheri God created me to be, the person he made me to be from the beginning.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Surgery as surrender

Having once been married to an alcoholic and having attended Alanon for many, many years, I've learned a lot about addiction. I know that we are addicts because we are addicts. Environmental issues can impact the predisposition of our genes, but once our addictions are triggered, we are addicts because we are addicts.

I also know that in order to recover you have to be willing to do whatever it takes. You surrender your will to God and become willing to do whatever it takes, to go to whatever lengths it takes. For an alcoholic or drug addict that may mean going through rehab, going on meds to treat depression that could drive them back into addiction, working the 12 steps constantly, going to 90 meetings in 90 days, calling a sponsor and being sponsored, and never ever touching another drop of alcohol because once they start they can't stop.

In a very real sense this surgery represents my surrender. I will always have to eat to live. Everytime I pick up food it can trigger my addiction. Having attended many Overeater's Anonymous meetings, I can testify that very few people are able to permanantly keep their weight off. Only those who are capable of being really anal seem to succeed. Weighing, measuring, checking every ingredient, counting carbs, calories, points, filling out food plans. These may all be good things but I'm not capable of them--at least not for long. Just the thought of doing these things gives me a panic attack. I hire people to do my paperwork and attend to details because I'm so bad at it. I've accepted my ADHD as a gift and I no longer try to be good at what I'm not good at. I do what I'm good at, which is being a highly flexible, very creative, gifted teacher. I generate ideas like confetti. My lesson plans are barely a guideline.

By having this surgery, my stomach will become the weigher and the measurer. I can follow the simple food guidelines which will take me from clear liquids to 1000-1200 calories a day of healthy food without having to make food plans the rest of my life. Unhealthy food and too much food will make me very uncomfortable. I'll experience satiety--a completely unfamiliar feeling. And I'll be reprogramming the addiction center in my brain.

It won't be easy. I'll still be triggered by the sight, smell, and taste of food. The surgery will be a jumpstart on food sobriety, like going into rehab. I'll still have to surrender my food to God every day. But with my body cooperating instead of fighting it, I stand a much better chance of success. This is the length to which I am willing to go to acheive food sobriety and better health. This is my surrender to God. If your stomach offends you, if it causes you to stumble, if its an obsession that takes you away from being able to love God above all and your neighbor as yourself--tie it off.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Doubts and Fears

I was up a good part of last night questioning myself, afraid of going through surgery, afraid of all the food restrictions following surgery and the thought of a restricted diet the rest of my life. I'm afraid of some unidentified heart problem causing blood pressure or heart rate problems during surgery. There were a few questionable things but nothing severe in all the tests I had. Those things will hopefully disappear along with the weight. I've been through many surgeries and never had a problem, but I've never weighed this much before either.

My Bible was open to Matthew 6: 25-28, and I read it several times trying to find either reassurance or a definite "No.!" from God. So I'm not supposed to worry about what I will eat or drink or my body and what I will wear. At first I thought, "So if I'm totally trusting God I wouldn't have this food problem or need this surgery?" Which is my old guilt-ridden way of thinking. Then I thought, "I'm not supposed to worry about the food after the surgery, or my body during the surgery. God's going to take care of me." I believe he will honor my decision to do something to jumpstart my body and brain's recovery from food addiction.

This morning I sat down with my husband and together we went over the diet in its various stages that I'll have to follow. It's manageable with his help. He asked what he could do if he saw me making a bad choice. I asked him to just come up to me and give me a hug. I think most of the time, that's all I'll need.

Friday, June 12, 2009

There but for the grace of God

Today I spent 9 hours having tests and seeing Doctors--well, at least I was in their waiting rooms. I saw the surgeon, the dietician, and the anethesioligist's nurse practitioner with a brief talk with the anesthesiologist.

Taking medical histories has become quite time-consuming. Hippa may be partly responsible for that. You have to give the same information over and over again.

The low-carb liquid diet I'm on has already made me lose 5 lbs. It's supposed to shrink your liver prior to surgery so that the Dr. can do the surgery with only 1 incision. This incision will then become the port to adjusting the band as the stomach shrinks.

The way in which I eat will change drastically. It seems counter-intuitive to all the diet advice out there. Although I'll need to drink plenty of liquids, I'll have to refrain from drinking for 30 minutes prior to eating a meal, take 30 minutes to eat my meal with no liquids, and wait 30 minute to drink again.

Liquids make the food drain out of the stomach faster and make you hungry quicker. You also have to avoid high fiber and breads because they expand with liquid and could expand your stomach. Pop bubbles can do the same. You want to keep the new stomach pouch created by the band small so the feeling of fullnes will occur quickly and last.

I saw a mother with a 4 yr. old in the Dr.'s waiting room. She appeared to have lost a lot of weight and now had skin sacks that still had fat in them hanging down to her knees and underarm skin hanging half-way down her arms. She'll need surgery to remove all that. This addiction does tremendous damage and I feel so grateful that mine has not brought me to that point and at such a young age. There but for the grace of God go I.

As it is I am on 3 blood pressure meds, and 4 cholesterol meds. But there are people much worse than I. If it weren't for my co-morbidities I'm not even heavy enough to qualify for the surgery.

If it weren't for the line-up of meds on my counter, the borderline diabetes, and my rapidly deteriorating joints and constant pain exacerbated by the extra weight, I would not be doing this surgery. I would still be trying all the ineffective methods that only ever worked for a while and despairing of ever getting this compulsion under control and out of my head.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goodbye to food---at parties

I have at least 5 parties to attend over the next 3 weekends and I'm going to have to attend them without having food as a crutch. I'm going to have to bring food and not eat it. I have to talk to people without relying on food to allay my social anxiety and fear of putting my foot in my mouth in one of my impulsive, ADHD moments.

I won't be able to gorge myself on foods I would never have in my home or buy for myself. That's the thing about parties. I love to go to parties because of the food, and I hate to go to parties because of the food.

At my church we're into celebrating everything, and everything involves food--delicious food and lots of it. At school people bring special treats for everything. At weekly faculty devotions, the leader is supposed to bring a treat.

If my husband and I want to do something special, we go to a cheap restaurant in order to stay within our budget. Family get togethers are dominated by food.

I really don't know how to talk to people without food smoothing the way. Alcohol has never appealed much to me--its always been food.

The food is killing me. More insidiously than alcohol or nicotine, it is still killing me. But unlike alcohol and nicotin and other addictive substances, I need it to live.

How can something that God created so good, become so evil for me?

Imagine a world that sin had never entered. Where genetic alterations that make some people prone to addiction had never happened. Where celebration never turns into debauchery--of any kind, either by choice or by uncontrollable compulsions and cravings. That's what paradise would look like, and what it will look like when Christ comes again to establish his new heaven and new earth.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Goodbye, food

Last night I said goodbye to food--forever. Well, not quite. But I did have to start on a low-carb, liquid diet in preparation for lap band surgery, which, the Lord willing, will happen next Thursday. Its been a long journey. I began the official process a year ago, when I'd had enough with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, borderline diabetes and constant pain from osteo-arthritis. I jumped through a lot of insurance hoops and tests to get to this point. I prayed for healing from my food cravings and I still do. Everyday is a battle with the desire to eat and eat and eat. Over time, the food has won. And I battle with what I think other people will think. How they, especially Christians, will judge me.

I've only told a few people about the surgery. Now I'm letting the world know. I believe its important for my recovery that I not hide this in a corner. Whether anyone reads this or not isn't important. My food cravings won't go away just because I can't eat much. Journaling has always helped me cope during tough times. I'm hoping it will help now, and that maybe it will help others.

A verse came to me in church last Sunday that confirmed my decision. Jesus said it in Matthew 5:29. "If your eye offends you, pluck it out." Its better to go without the eye or the hand that causes you to sin, than to keep it and endure hell (my interpretation). Hence the name of my blog: If Your Stomach Offends You, Tie It Off. It's better to go through life without much of a stomach than to live in the despair and physical destruction caused by food addiction.