Today I would like to introduce you to my online friend Shirley, we met metaphorically at least when she contacted me with a fatty liver and asked me whether or not I thought that she could help herself by changing her diet. The long and the short of it is that we are in contact with other still and I stand behind her every step of the way because this is her story leading up to the diagnosis and then treatment for her fatty liver.
Who’s that fat person in the Mirror?
One day I was passing my dresser and glanced in the mirror and had one of those moments – you know the ones that take you back and wake you up. There was a very fat woman looking back at me from the mirror. I realized that I was the person in the mirror. My name is Shirley Dawson and as a friend of Catherine, I’m sharing my story for her blog and for you.
How did I get here?
I was never overweight as a child, teenager or all through my 20’s. I played and coached sports all the time and weight was never an issue – I burned so many calories every day I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound. I weighed 135 when I married. However after I was married at age 33 I became pregnant with my only child, I gained 60 pounds and my back gave out the seventh month of my pregnancy. I was in lots of pain those last two months.
Things got worse before they got better
After my daughter was born, my back didn’t get any better and I couldn’t even lift her into the car seat because of the pain when bending over. Of course I was no longer able to do sports and taking care of an infant who never slept at night gave me little rest. After 5 months, I was a walking zombie. Finally she began to sleep at night around the 7 month period and I started to get a little rest. Needless to say, I was no longer playing sports. I worked full time as an employee of the Food and Drug Administration in a demanding job and was also a new mom with no time for anything else.
A slow and painful weight gain
Time passed and I never lost the weight I gained during my pregnancy and began to gain even more. I was almost 35 when I gave birth and life changed drastically. I went from being a tom-boy, jock kind of gal to a working mom, who was overweight and in pain most of the time. The weight piled on during the next few years and my back pain was kind of “come and go.”
Good and Bad Days
Sometimes I was okay and could walk and do more, but then I would have a major flare up and could barely lift anything. I remember one day in Wal-Mart with little Jennifer in her carrier in my basket, I saw a couple of teenage moms carrying their children on their hips while shopping. I though “no way could I ever hold Jennifer like that and shop.” More health issues Life went on, Jennifer grew up and I continued working at the FDA. I even managed to finish up my college degree after 5 colleges and 25 years of trying.
Weight Wise the More Things Changed the more They Stayed the Same
But I never managed to lose any significant weight, even though I tried all kinds of diets, even the meta-fast liquid diet (I lost and then gained it all right back). Exercise was still not possible because of my back pain. Soon I began to have aches and pains all over my body and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia also. Oh joy! In my late 40’s I was also diagnosed with a blood disorder which made me a risk for clotting and bleeding (ET-essential thrombocythemia). I began to take a daily chemo-type drug for that and continue on it to this day.
My Blood Glucose Levels were a warning Sign I missed!
My doc began to watch my blood glucose levels and told me I was pre-diabetic and finally put me on an oral diabetic med (metformin). I took that for several years and then I failed a fasting blood glucose test and was labeled a full diabetic. The doctor kept me on metformin, just increasing my dose. Finally he gave up trying to get my blood glucose regulated with metformin and told the nurse to show me how to inject insulin, prescribing two injections a day. He also referred me to a diabetic specialist. This specialist began to see me every 3-4 months to adjust my meds and my insulin injections.
I was now on both a long term and short term insulin regiment with several injections each day. He advised me to lose weight and I tried but it seemed that nothing worked; I was stuck at 280 pounds. I was very obese, had several collapsed discs in my lower back, fibromyalgia, post menopausal (from a total hysterectomy at age 45), uncontrolled blood sugar levels and was finally told I had a fatty liver also. I had surgery for a large hernia which had formed after my hysterectomy and threw a clot which caused me to have a stroke.
The Long Haul Back
I experienced confusion and was unable to multi-task or do math. It was over a year before I recovered those skills again. Meanwhile I had a detached retina in one eye and had a major surgery to reattach it. Luckily I regained my peripheral vision in that eye. I saw a surgeon about my back and was informed that I would need rods, screws and bone grafts and with my medical issues (the blood disorder and the diabetes) I could end up worst that I was now. He advised me to never let someone cut on me again if possible.
Shortness of breath and Temper
I began to experience shortness of breath and was sent to both a cardiologist and a pulmonologist. After a heart ultrasound and a heart cath, my doc said there was nothing wrong with my heart. Also, after several lung tests and scans, the pulmonologist said there was nothing wrong with my lungs. Both told me I need to lose weight. The pulmonologist, a woman said she agreed that at my age (59 at that time) it was almost impossible to lose weight and I would have to starve myself.
I can’t Face Another Op
My metabolism was non-existent. Losing 2 pounds was a miracle, much less over 100 pounds. My diabetes doc recommended I go to the Cleveland Clinic and undergo bariatric surgery. However I did not want to undergo any surgery, fearing another stroke from a blood clot. So he continues to monitor me every 3-4 months and urges me to lose weight and exercise. I received the same advice from my cardiologist every six months also.
The Wake-up call
I am now 60 years old, with a new grandson and I looked in that mirror at that fat person, and realized that both my parents died at the age of 67. I may not live to see that precious little boy grow up.
I have decided I have to do something NOW.
I began to research diabetes and weight loss and fatty liver and slow metabolisms. I’ve learned that I really need to work on my nutrition. I found that with the proper nutrition, I can heal my fatty liver, bring my blood glucose levels under control, and lose weight which will cure my breathing issues and help with the pain in my legs, knees and hips.
The alternative is more disability, and even an early death. So I have a great incentive to change my lifestyle. The Changes I’ve begun to do water aerobics for exercise several times a week as it does not hurt when I am in the water. I’m also trying to work out on a recumbent bike at least once a week.
I’m eating more vegetables, some fruit, only lean meat, organic eggs, no wheat, and lots of raw salads. I’ve changed to using only olive or coconut oil for cooking and as a dressing and I’ve begun to make myself healthy smoothies. I do not drink any sodas, even diet ones; I drink pure V8 juice, water, unsweetened tea and some hot teas (green, milk thistle and black)
This week I started Dr. Sandra Cabot’s Liver Cleanse Diet which should help heal my fatty liver. It is an 8-week cleanse and supposedly after a couple of weeks my liver should be healed enough that I can began to lose weight again. I’m certainly working on my health right now and I am really hoping that in a year I’m going to look in that mirror again and see the Shirley Dawson I was in my 20’s except this time she will have silver hair.