My name is Trish Robichaud and I'd love to connect with you. I'm almost 47 yrs old, I've recently been diagnosed with diabetes and am seriously considering weight loss surgery. I also live with multiple sclerosis, major depression & high blood pressure.
Here's my story...
I've been obese most of my adult life. Always overweight as a child, I grew up "knowing" that there was something wrong with me. I'm sure some of you will identify with my story. My weight was always an issue...
---> for our family doctor that told my mom to get me on a diet when I was only 5yrs old,
---> for my mom who was perpetually trying to restrict my eating because she didn't want to be judged by our doctor,
---> for my father who stopped paying much attention to me after the cute "chubby" toddler years,
---> for my brother who sometimes had to deal with mean-spirited kids and their labeling his older sister,
---> for the boys who I would have liked to befriend who didn't want to be seen with "the fat girl",
---> for my grade 4 teacher who called me "fatty Pattie" in front of my entire class,
---> for the girls in my class who didn't want to "hang" with me because I wasn't built like them, and worst of all
---> for me because I judged myself harsher than any of them.
My entire life has been ruled by food or my weight in one way or another. I still remember being 6 or 7 yrs old and sneaking out of my room at night after everyone had gone to sleep. Raiding the fridge was my mission and then taking the "booty" back to my room to hide and eat was my reward. I still get a "high" now from climbing into bed with a "pile" of food. I binge eat when I'm sad, when I'm happy, to celebrate, to console myself, when I'm bored and when I'm anxious. I've never had the courage to purge after binging so I just keep packing it on.
By the time I got to about age 10 or so, my mom had also developed a weight problem. I think by then my parents marriage had begun to crumble. She was trying desperately to lose the weight she'd put on. Finally deciding to try the "liquid protein diet" of the 70's she had the brain-wave to put me on it too. By the 3rd day I thought I was going to die. What kind of message do you think a 10 yr old gets when mom puts her on a starvation diet and refuses to let up until the kid can't get out of bed? I've long since forgiven her for that but I have to acknowledge the destructive impact that my "inner child" sustained from that experience.
Having been diagnosed with depression in my early 20's, I can look back and see that the illness was with me for many years before that. I recall one Saturday when I was about 12 yrs old crying uncontrollably and not knowing why while my mom yelled "What's wrong with you? You have everything a girl your age could possibly want!" I had no answer. It's clear to me now that my mom was living a manic-depressive lifestyle and I had learned my unhealthy self-perception and coping strategies from her.
She was diagnosed with diabetes years later and eventually ate herself to death (in my opinion). Turning agoraphobic, she rejected the outside world for having rejected her (in her perception). My parents destructive and she never got over it, even 20 yrs after their split. Needing 2 to 3 insulin injections per day, she lived on popcorn and mars bars for much of the last year of her life. In the end she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had already metastasized to her liver, bones & brain stem by the time they found it. Not because they missed it but because she would have a panic attack anytime she thought about leaving her apartment and would inevitably cancel her doctors appointments. There's no doubt in my mind that the toxicity of her diet in those final years played a pivotal role in the development of her cancer. She was one of my best friends and I miss her deeply.
Me, I've been on just about every diet known to man. I lose some, I gain it back. I lose some, I gain back more. And again and again and again. I actually did manage to lose 90lbs in 7 months on Nutri-System in 1993. 1 week after I hit my goal weight I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Talk about feeling like a kick in the head as a reward for losing the weight. I felt like my body had betrayed me. Straight to McDonalds I went every time I had to see my neurologist. It took me 18 months but I gained it all back as I went through repeated bouts of blindness, months on end of vertigo and severely diminished ability to walk from the couch to the bathroom.
In 2001, after 8 years of more relapses than remissions with the MS, I finally started making some healthier lifestyle choices and things started to turn around with my health. I went back to school, started my own business as a Life Coach and started really enjoying life. My MS was stable, my weight was stable, my depression was in check and it felt like all was right with the world. My confidence was building every step of the way and I became passionate about teaching others that you can live with an incurable illness and still have a great deal of control over your quality of life.
Then in 2007 my mother died, 6 weeks after her diagnosis. I put on another 30 lbs that year. The stress and the grief seemed intolerable, I ended up on anti-anxiety medication for a while for the first time in my life. 6 months later I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I got through it all, staggering at times (emotionally and physically) but I did get through it. I learned a lot about grief and my own spirituality and became a stronger person in the end.
Then in 2009 my father died, 5 weeks after been admitted to the hospital for a strep infection. Wow, did that rock my world! I'm still reeling a little from that loss but I'm pushing forward with my work and my life.
Both my parents were diabetic and both had had heart disease that necessitated surgery. And now I'm diabetic too, with not only a physical risk of stroke and heart disease but a strong genetic one as well. The weight has been a demon on my back all my life. I've never managed to rid myself of it, even using all the tools, programs and plans I've had at my disposal and made us of. I feel like I've exhausted all my options, except one - weight loss surgery. I truly hope that this is the answer; the action I need to take to derail my health from taking the same journey that both my parents traveled. God willing, I will find the resources I need to proceed from here.
Anyone have any experience with weight loss surgery that they want to share with me?
Thanks for "listening".
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You are a very articulate women and I really enjoyed reading your post. I am 47 years old and also have battled weight my entire life. Your weight related experiences and mine are very similar-I started Weight Watchers when I was 8 years old and lost 25 pounds. At my heaviest I was about 100 pounds overweight. Although I did not have diabetes or the other diseases you mentioned, the weight took a terrible tole on my confidence and other areas of my life. I had a lap-band put in roughly 7 years ago and lost 100 pounds, it took me roughly 2 years to get the weight off. I actually had my band put in in Mexico because at the time insurance would not pay for it and I was tired of loosing it and then gaining it. I was ready for a more permanent solutions ( definition of insanity-right) Obesity runs in my family and my mother has a lap band as well. Additionally, I have referred and helped many friends in getting a band. The lap-band has also been proven to get rid of Diabetes in some thing like 80% of the people who get one. I have posted some video interviews on EmpowHER about my lap-band journey-you can check them out here https://www.empowher.com/community/herstory/kelley-shares-how-much-weight.... To loose weight with a lap-band requires some work with exercise and eating right however that awful nagging hunger does go away and therefore generally gives you more permanent weight loss vs. what you have experienced your whole life. I am happy to speak with you more in these posts, or via email, private message on the site or via a phone call. I will tell you what I have experienced. It has been the best thing I have ever done. Much Success,
KelleyApril 10, 2010 - 6:33am
Hi Trish - I've only known you online, but from the moment I "met" you I knew you were a special, dynamic individual. I admire the work you've done as a coach for people with disabilities. It takes intelligence, patience, compassion and more to do what you've been doing. Your energy, your knowledge and your caring nature are gifts that shine through the cold hard computer screen. I KNOW you're a very special person and am sorry you're having a tough time right now.
I'm touched by your comments and wanted to reach out. I don't have any personal experience with weight loss surgery, but have read stories and seen various people talk about it in interviews over the years. There seem to be several new advances and some less invasive procedures available now that weren't available before. It would seem like research into the pros and cons of the various options would be very helpful, and I see Tina has provided some help to get you started.
You've been through a lot of losses. Diabetes is also a major loss in that the "you" that existed before the diagnosis is gone, and now you're in that stage of getting to a new "normal." Major losses, as I'm sure you know, often bring about depression. If that's the case with you I'd seek help and support for that first, and I would also delay making any major decisions - such as having major surgery - until you can be sure the decision is not being made because of the depression. Does that make sense?
I have several friends with diabetes. For them the diagnosis has turned out to be a blessing in ways they didn't expect. They were forced to learn about nutrition and diet and healthy eating, and to change their patterns. They've told me that when they first gave up their "old favorites" for healthier foods they thought it would be really hard but that once the sugar cravings were gone and they had gotten into healthy eating habits they found their desires changed significantly and they actually started liking healthy foods and their new eating patterns.
I don't mean to sugar coat (pardon the pun) having diabetes, just to suggest that there are many ways to view what happens to us in life and how we handle unplanned medical conditions. You have such a positive, coaching outlook for others and I hope you can use some of that same coaching attitude to take another look at the diabetes diagnosis and your weight, and see if there are other ways you could tackle this problem in addition to surgery which is expensive and, like any major surgery, carries a lot of risk.
Trish, I didn't mean to go on and on, but I care about you and your health, and wanted to give you some additional ideas to think about. I'm looking forward to hearing more from you and hoping our members will also join the discussion.
Take good care, PatApril 9, 2010 - 5:22pm
Hello Trish, thanks for your very candid and very moving post. So many women can relate to the experiences you describe here and how our self esteem can be affected when we feel like we're not being accepted for who we are. I'm sorry to hear of your family's health struggles and the passing of your parents. You have been through so much in the past few years -- no doubt.
With regard to your recent diabetes diagnosis, you should be very proud of your initiative and your willingness to find a solution. While I see you're looking for someone with first-hand experience in this area (very smart) I wanted to share a few EmpowHER resources with you until one of our community members responds.
What Questions Do Patients Frequently Ask About Bariatric Surgery?
Common Concerns Around Bariatric Surgery
Can Bariatric Surgery Affect Diabetes?
Trish, can you tell us more about the type of surgery you're considering? Thanks again and look forward to hearing from you very soon.April 9, 2010 - 4:54pm