Take Ownership Of Your Health

I did a sleep study a couple months ago. I’ve had sleeping issues my entire life. My parents stopped giving me naps as a toddler because I would stay up until midnight. When the naps stopped, I still stayed up until midnight.

I won’t bore you with the complicated details of my sleep habits, but I’m tired almost all day. I nap a lot. I’ve had bloodwork done and thyroid levels checked, all to come back in normal ranges.

The funny thing about depression is that it makes you tired. But my depression has been fairly well controlled recently with therapy and medication.

So I got a referral to a sleep doctor in Bethesda.

Because this is D.C., I had to wait two months after my study to even see the specialist to review my results.

Because this is D.C., I had to wait two hours past my appointment time to finally see the doctor. I was feeling pretty zen that day, so I did some work on my tablet in the waiting room.

As with most doctors recently, I have the fear that I’m just going to be told to lose weight to fix all my problems. I always wait, ready to let them know this is a lifelong problem, not something precipitated by my sudden weight gain related to my binge eating disorder.

So, two hours past my appointment time, I finally was called into the specialist’s office. She had a nice demeanor, unlike the nurse who had taken my vitals beforehand. Little did I know that I would be weighed and blood pressured for this consultation. I sat there with my latte half empty, unsurprised that my pulse and blood pressure were high given my reaction to caffeine. I was sure this would be another mark against my weight. Great.

I had already watched the required pre-recorded video in the waiting room about parasomnia in adults, and tensed up when the specialist said that anti-depressants often create these problems. Ugh, I thought, this stuff was happening way before I started meds.

So I sat in front of the doctor, ready for her to tell me to get off meds and lose weight. My blood pressure was already high from the latte, and I felt it rising as I waited for her to speak.

“Do you want a York Peppermint Patty?”

She went over to a box and grabbed two, and she started eating hers immediately.

I declined, not because I was wary of being perceived as the fat kid who eats anything she’s given, but because I just wasn’t really hungry. Plus one to intuitive eating.

“Alright then, so tell me why you’re here.”

I told her my sleep history, starting as a toddler. I told her about my vivid dreams and sleep paralysis, my sleep talking and flailing, my binge eating, and how this time 3 years ago I was 180 lbs and on zero medications. Yet the sleep problems were constants.

She listened. I loved it. As she was typing she furrowed her brow, “Hmm….you’re making things complicated.”

The appointment lasted two hours. She wanted more details and I was happy to provide them. She said that my mental health was the most important thing and that, after years of work in the medical field, she finally realizes that there is much more at play than calories in and calories out when it comes to weight. We talked about hormones and how sleep and other conditions affect their levels.

We went through my sleep study results and she explained what each thing meant. She, a doctor in her 60s, was unafraid to tell me that there are things about sleep they still don’t understand.

I left with a better (albeit big picture level) understanding of sleep science and with the relief of knowing I told my story and she listened.

The lesson here is to take ownership of your health. Give them more information than they think they need, because that information may become valuable in your records.

There are two parts of making this work, of course, and a doctor set in her ways may not care about your history and look only at the data she has.

I made sure that my story was more than the numbers, and it paid off. When I left, she set me up with one of her staff members for a follow-up visit, then shook her head to herself. “You’re an interesting case, so I’m putting you with one of my staff who has a bit more experience. She may have to pull me back in to look at things as well.”

Working with doctors can be intimidating, especially if you find one who is set in his ways and unwilling to look past your size, disability, or other numbers. You have to advocate for yourself, even if that means finding a new doctor, because no one else is going to.

doctor

From “When Are You Due?” To “What My Body Can Do”

Body-Love Wellness Circles by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is an immersion into the power of body-acceptance.The Circles will be focused around transforming the relationship you have or may not have with your body, food and yourself.This post is part of the Body-Love Blog Tour, which is spreading body-acceptance to the masses. To learn more and join us, click here.

Last week, Matt and I had furniture delivered to our new house. I had just gotten out of the shower when the crew arrived, so I threw my hair up in a bun and tossed on a dress and cardigan.

The men did a nice job of setting up our living room and bedroom set, and, at the end, I had a couple of documents to sign. One of the men decided to make small talk.

“When are you due?”

Perhaps the rules are different elsewhere, but I’ve always known the rule of talking to women to be “Never attribute to pregnancy what can be attributed to fat.”

Since this is part of the Body-Love Blog Tour, some of you may not know my story. I use “fat” as a term that holds no positive or negative connotations, it simply is. A very Buddhist approach to body talk. I am fat: I weigh 225 lbs and am 5’4″. It’s fine.

I’ve spent years in therapy and on medication for my binge eating disorder, which is related to my diagnosed OCD. It has taken time to appreciate my body for what it can do rather than for what it looks like.

What can my ever-changing body do?

  • I was a starter on my Varsity volleyball team at age 16 and 150 lbs (and 5’4″). We wore spandex shorts.
  • I started dating at 155 lbs. I was 18.
  • I took up running at 160 lbs. My first race was a 4-miler (weird, right?).
  • I graduated college at 165 lbs. I wore a bikini on beach week.
  • I chased tornadoes at 175 lbs. I met my now husband.
  • I ran a half marathon at 185 lbs. It took me over 3 hours.
  • I defended my graduate thesis at 210 lbs.
  • I got married at 220 lbs.
  • I hiked full-fledged mountains at 225 lbs.

You know what’s sad? It’s sad that I can remember my exact weight range from important events in my life.

Until I started therapy in 2012, I didn’t realize that this was an unhealthy way to view myself. As a number.

I can’t tell you the number of diets I went on over this 10-year period. Look at those numbers: they are in chronological order. Do you think dieting did me more harm or good?

The jump in weight between my half marathon and wedding represented the peak of my mental health breakdown. As my head deteriorated, so did my body’s self-care. Before officially adding chronic depression to my diagnoses, I stopped showering. I stopped exercising the day after my half marathon. I continued to binge eat, although those compulsions were waning under my new medication.

I’ve made a lot of improvements in my life. The most important one is the change in perception I have of my body.

My body is capable.

My body is tough.

My body is resilient.

Under the guidance of a nutritionist and therapist, I’ve taken on Health At Every Size and Intuitive Eating.

I don’t need to be skinny, I need to be healthy.

There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods, there are only foods.

The man who delivered my furniture had good intentions. I had to make a split second decision, and I decided not to embarrass him the way he had (unintentionally) embarrassed me.

“When are you due?”

“Oh…not for awhile now.”

“Will it be your first?”

“Yup!”

“Congratulations, I have a three-year old.”

And we parted ways. It’s true, we won’t be due for awhile now…probably a few years still.

I waited for the old, familiar feelings to hit me. I have to lose weight, ASAP! OMG I’m so fat! I’m going to eat everything in the fridge! No wait, I’m not going to eat for the rest of the day!

These feelings never hit. I awaited them; I was aware of them. I know how my head tends to react to even the suggestion that somebody somewhere maybe thinks I could lose some weight.

This was the first time the feared mistaken pregnancy comment was made to me. Surely I would start bawling soon?

But it never hit.

I’m still making progress, but knowing that a stranger’s perception of my body didn’t destroy my day felt good.

Really good.

Pictured: Me and my husband on our honeymoon. Not pregnant.
Pictured: Me and my husband on our honeymoon. Not pregnant.