Wednesday, April 2, 2008

where i started, part 2

continued from yesterday...thank-you for your sweet, supportive comments...

some essential history to understanding this story.


september 2000: at the beginning of my 34th year, i hit the very bottom of the bottom. i was so depressed. my anxiety level was sky-high. i had eaten my feelings and self-medicated for 3 years, since the break-up of my most serious and promising relationship to date. i am 5 feet, seven inches tall and then weighed 215 lbs. every room in the the house i bought was a construction site because i had started so many projects and then struggled to finish them. i was teaching full time and worried everyday that the students would find out i really didn't know what the hell i was doing. my mom and i were not on good terms.

i needed professional help and was so down, i was open to medication for the first time.

i found a good therapist and went on meds. brilliant woman, she accomplished what scores of others hadn't. after 22 days, the medication took full effect and the perfect storm in my head turned into a calm sea with birds soaring above in a blue sky.

yes, it was
that dramatic of a change. i was very lucky, the first medication we tried was a perfect fit. i started really working through the emotional issues behind the weight problem. i healed alot of anger and put the past in a rational perspective. (really, the meds should be named rational.) right away, i lost a few pounds just from the dramatic drop in my anxiety level. a few months later, i saw my regular doctor for a physical. my blood sugar was at pre-diabetes level, my cholesterol too high. she gave me 4 months to lose 20 lbs. and change those numbers.

over the next 2 years, i lost 75 pounds the slow and healthy way. i joined a gym and spent many hours on the elliptical trainer. that first spring, i was losing weight, i was planning a trip to NYC with my art students. my doctor was happy with my progress. i was feeling better than i had in years. as the weight dropped, my breasts naturally got smaller and while trying on clothes in the dressing room of t.j. maxx, i found a lump. a large lump. yep, it was breast cancer. (little did i know, then, that was only the first turnip)

i took it in stride, scared but naive. my surgeon in that small michigan town didn't even call it cancer and said there was almost no chance it would come back, ever. his lack of experience with the rare phyllodes sarcoma is the reason i am here now in this mess. he should have done his research and a second surgery to get clean margins around the tumor. i shouldn't have trusted him. when my current oncologist, dr. naik, looked at that pathology report from 2001, the first thing she noticed was this sentence:
"the tumor has irregular borders and is present at the inked surgical resection margin in which case there is a probability of future recurrence."
holy shit. it was bound to come back, with the phyllodes cells he left behind.

sad to say, it's too late to sue for malpractice. the statue of limitations is 6 years. i've been really angry about this the past few days. there is no recourse for this damage and facing the wreckage of my body, i want to assign some blame.

i will say it here: dr. mark a. kowalski, i blame you.

ok, i
honestly cannot blame him for the 50 lbs. i've gained back. that was all me, those pounds are proof of the life i've lived in the past 3 years. it's a sorry case of too much work (7 days a week) for too many years and no time made for exercise. starting a business on a shoestring budget takes it's toll on your life. i actually eat a very healthy diet and rarely use food as "emotional medicine" anymore. but not exercising, aging and not resting/sleeping well for so long really did a number on my metabolism.

i could be a champion weight-gainer, it's so easy for me.

yet, when i quit my day job in october, i was actually excited about getting back into a exercise routine and losing the weight i had accumulated. if it wasn't for the lack of breast at the end of the weight-loss tunnel, i think i would be feeling pretty optimistic right now. what a difference a boob makes.

well, yesterday i took my first "power" walk in a long time. just 3 laps around the track, which took me 25 minutes. a slow start, but a start nonetheless. i've put it out there now, so you all are in on my struggle. i thought long and hard about it, making this public. frankly, there are very few people i could tell this story to in person, the shame is too great. if you do see me in person, please understand how sensitive and awkward this is, please don't speak to me about it. rest assured, if i feel comfortable talking about it, i will. i do hope you'll hang around and see how i somehow find my way (emotionally and physically) from exhibit A to exhibit B.

i don't know myself how it's going to go. all i know is i have to try.

6 comments:

Catherine Chandler said...

I'm right there with you...my first hike is tomorrow. In memoriam of my father's death, but it's a start none the less. And honestly, I'd be f*ing furious at that doctor too. I'm still pissed that my doctor recommended me to a cosmetic surgeon, and not an orthopedic surgeon, to get my gangliatic cyst removed--which has reappeared again and again, making it impossible for me to do various yoga positions, or put pressure on that wrist, and it will always have a weird numbness to it. I'm just glad it's not my right one. erg. I know that is no comparison, really, to the malpractice of your doctor, or cancer in general, but it is an understanding.

salmonpoetry said...

go Tay! keep it up with the exercise. it can be so hard to get back into shape, i am going through that myself, but slowly it starts to take effect. the weather is nice for being outside now too, hopefully that makes it easier for walks and such.

that is really terrible about the doctor. how incredibly irresponsible of him- it was written there on the page! i always ask for all of my health records and reports and re-examine all of the findings. luckily i am trained in a field that allows me to understand them. it is such a disservice that doctors hold so much power over our lives, and can have consequences like you have experienced. i hope that having a good, trustworthy team at OHSU can help from this point forward.

that is quite an accomplishment, having lost 75 pounds! i am sure that with time, you will be able to get your body back to feeling good, and where you feel good about it as well. you have been through a lot of big changes for your body in recent months, and i am sure that it is a lot to come to terms with.

cally said...

You are Fab, woman. And I totally salute you (in a thoroughly no military way) for telling your story here. You've got courage, and that is a good thing to have going for you.

I'm sorry to hear of your difficulties in the past, but glad to hear of your successes.

And then the big one - F-ing Doctor, I can really relate to your anger. It seems SO unfair that you can't sue him now... with health things you can't put a time limit, it's so wrong. They make us feel so shit if we question them, but clearly they don't know it all and it sucks beyond belief that you pay the price and he gets off scot free... though hopefully karma will say otherwise.

I had the same problem with my health which was entirely f-cked by Ikea and their seriously f-cked up working practices. But I couldn't go to court becuase I was too sick, and by the time I was better it was too late. SAme thing again now with the ME relapse, brought on by those assholes but once again, I'm too sick for court and time has ticked by again. Thanks to them I'll never be able to work full time again, never be able to go into garden design like I had planned (the physical bit was half the love).

Aaargh.

SO like I say, I really get your total anger at someone else seriously messing up your life in an unchangeable way. It's so horribly unfair.

I find it a constant effort to not get overwhelmed by bitterness and anger, but I know they serve me ill. Still, on dark days they are there, lurking in the background, unresolved. And if there is food around I would eat forever... lucky I can't make it to the shops these days.

I think it's great that you've put this out there, I'm pretty sure a lot of people with less going on feel similarly and it's helpful to read such honest feelings. I'm too scared to tell most of my friends how I really feel when I'm not happy. I never talk about food or weight because I HATE when people 6 sizes smaller tell me I'm not fat. For a change I'm actually not fat, but when I was they'd say I was thin, as the permanently creased rolls of fat stopped me seeing my feet.

I know exactly what you meant when you said 'i know what my beautiful is, and this ain't it.' FOr me it's not what size I am, it's whether or not I'm in proportion, and I very rarely am. I don't mind being pale, I just don't like all the blue veins showing through like I'm some skinless lizard. Hmm.

Sorry, you kind of gave me license to moan and I have dived in there.

I think you are great, and I think it's great that you are starting your power walking. Slow starts are still starts, I should know, after 6yrs of not being able I have finally started reading yoga poses, by way of getting my mind in the zone in hopes my body will follow. I miss yoga a lot. I miss walking to the shops a lot. But reading about it is a start, at the very least it get me sitting properly and breathing properly. Makes me care more about his poor debilitated body, wobbly bits and all.

I hope that your fitness regime has a similar effect on you, and that it helps kick start your metabolism (I've found that a teaspoon of coconut all has help me with that, plus it tastes great).

Wishing you all the best...in fact, I'll be nominating you for a Blogs with a purpose award soon, when I'm organised enough to choose a couple more people and sort out the links.

Take care Tay xxx

cally said...

Oh dear, I got quite emotional reading and writing and proceeded to munch my way through half a tub of hummous and rice cakes! Lucky there was no chocolate in the house :)

Maryam in Marrakesh said...

Darling Tay,
Thank you for trusting us with your story. As you might know, I have gone through a period of my life where I was very ugly. I didn't only feel I was ugly - I really was. There is no doubt about it.

I think it is *so* important for us to feel good away about the way we look. We deserve to feel pretty, to feel sexy, to put on our clothes and say "damn...I look good." You know how to lose weight and you take such careful care of yourself otherwise. They say it takes 30 days to develop a habit. If you set weekly goals between now and 30 days from now, you can do it! At the end of the Summer, you can look at your breasts and see where they are at and the decisions might be clearer.

As for your doctor.....what a dog - I have nothing but contempt for him. You are so very right to post his name here. May the world know....

Tay said...

thank-you for the love and understanding...your comments have me all weepy and very grateful for the company of women here.

bless you all, i adore you!