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.