Struggles with Food and Body Image and I Must Keep Singing

Well, the title tells it all here.  It is no secret to those that know me that I have struggled with my weight and with my self image all of my life.  I freely admit that my brain sometimes tells me to eat or to graze because it doesn’t tell me when it is full.  It is like having an evil angel on my shoulder whispering “Eat it! Screw the diet… just eat!”

In 2017 I had a gastric bypass.  After struggling with my health and being on steroids for years, I had hit my highest weight and I just could not get it to budge.  The surgery nearly killed me but I made it and I have a 75 lbs loss five years later.  I am in shape and I know what foods I can and cannot eat safely.

However, there is a final 25 to 30 lbs that  need to come off.  My ideal weight used to be 135 but I am not going to worry about that.  I think (know) I can be healthy at 150 lbs.  The problem is, how to  I get there?

Each and every year since the gastric bypass I have lost weight, very slowly. I exercise, I abstain from all meat except fish, and I limit dairy and gluten as much as I can.  I do not drink alcohol at all.  I have a very damaged pancreas (due to a birth defect) and that causes me to have problems with digestion.  I do not break down the food normally anymore. My liver has taken a hit somewhere along the line so I have to be nice to it as well.

About 6 months ago I had a gastric emptying study.  This is a radiologial exam  and  you go in fastng and they give you radioactive eggs and toast.  Then, they do a scan of your digestive process once an hour for five hours.  The findings were interesting.  As a result of the 2017 surgery I now have a syndrome called, “gastric dumping”.  What that means is that everything that goes in my little, or bypassed,  stomach falls right out of it without breaking it down very well.

I have wondered if that is causing me to hungry but I am not sure. I have, unfortunately, been on and off of prednisone through the summer and  fall so that could be a problem as well.  However, the real issue is that for the first time in years I am struggling with that angel from hell on my shoulder.  For most of the last few years I have been able to keep her fairly quiet.   Right now the bitch is out of control… she wants to control me.  Bitch is talking to me non-stop. She says, “Just eat this one cookie…. you are fine!” She is evil… pure evil.

I am fighting her with prayer and with accountability.  I pray the serenity prayer about 50 times a day.  I ask G-d  to help me quiet that voice.  At night I write down my food for the day, as honestly as I can, and send it off to my weight loss buddy.  She has a little bitch on her shoulder too.

The pattern I have gone through these last years is that all of this comes and goes.  I lost weight over the summer when I was in the hospital for most of a month.  I had zero appetite still when I got home so the loss continued.  The last month or so have just been hell.  I wish I knew why.

So, I am tired of doing all of this.  I am tired all the way down to my bones.  I want to lose that last bit of weight and see if I can possibly have surgery to remove some of my excess skin and put my boobs back up in the normal location on my chest, rather than my waistline.  It turns out that losing a great deal of weight in your 50’s has definite drawbacks.  So, what to do?

Well, my weight loss buddy is on a drug called Metformin.  It is an entry level, well studied, drug used for diabtetes and weight loss.  I decided to reach out to my endocrinologist and see if I can take it.  Apparently it doesn’t always work for people and I did find out that some of the other new weight loss drugs have possible pancreatic side effects. That basically rules them out for me.  So I may just have this one shot.  I really hope it works.

I saw my endocrinologist.  Long story short, Metformin had too many side effects.  He wanted me to try one of the new diet drugs but my insurance will not pay because I am not obese and I don’t have diabetes.  Besides, I am pretty sure I will react.  I did go back on a drug called Topomax at his suggestion.  It is initially a drug for nerve pain and migraines but it definitely reduces appetite.  I don’t know if I will stay on it or not. One of my doctors disagrees with it.  I will discuss it with my pain dr. when I see her next.

Today, I sit here on the other side of some very busy holidays and listen to the entire score of Handel’s “Messiah” while I bake and stay fairly quiet.  Before Christmas I met with my wonderful voice teacher.  He said something I knew in the back of my head but didn’t want to aknowledge; there is something wrong with my voice.  I have whole sections of it  missing.  It is not getting better.  If I talk for an extended period, it gives out.  If I try to warm up my voice and sing for a while, it just doesn’t work.  I had begun to think the part of my life when I was a singer was just gone.  I was trying to let myself understand and mourn that on some level.  However, I kept going to my lessons hoping for a miracle.  When my teacher pointed out the obvious it was a huge sense of relief but also sort of like the tiny hole in the dam came unplugged.  I have just been feeling a lot of sadness.  It is like having a limb cut off.  In fact, listening to all these familiar tunes from Handel, and I have sung every one of them, makes me smile but also makes me cry.  I don’t know if I will ever again perform any music with a symphony.  Even if I get my voice back I can’t seem to go to a rehearsal without the danger of getting sick.  It really feels like a sick twist to things.

I should not dwell on it or think of it at all.  It does me no good.  And yet, I feel this huge gaping hole in my center.  I don’t know how to fill it.

Help me Lord!