Seasons. Hope.

Tomorrow is my 4th (& last required) nutritionist appointment/weigh in, and the appointment with the doctor for me to give consent for surgery.

Seems like just last week I was writing “When I Made Up My Mind,” about the decision to pursue gastric sleeve surgery and to document the journey here as a way of having accountability since I experienced an eating disorder relapse and lied to myself about it not having gotten as bad as it had. I never went full-in the way I used to eat prior to treatment starting 2004–and I’m talkin’ eating a whole package 9 big iced sugar cookies on my way home from work then stashing the package in the trash outside my house—or eating a whole loaf of French bread while making dinner–or a plethora of other eating behaviors I won’t go into here not because I’m ashamed but because I don’t think it’s necessary to recount all my indiscretions here. I mean…I pulled decorator bags of icing out of my kitchen trash at one time, buuuuuuuuut…

With very few slips, I’m firmly on the right path again. It’s not possible to be perfect, because it’s not possible. I have this sign on my fridge that says “Losing Weight is Mental, Not Physical…” and that’s true. But what’s even more true is, “Managing an Eating Disorder is Mental, Not Physical,” and like my former therapist used to say, “It’s not about the weight. It’s about the behavior.”

The hardest thing for me in terms of managing my disordered behaviors is finding ways to cope that do not involve self-destructive choices. In addition to an eating disorder, I have an impulse disorder–but it’s really, really, REALLY improved compared to where it was when I first entered therapy. I’m trying to think of the last time I went off and did something stupid because I was upset, unless the few slips I’ve had are counted in there.

I’m like everybody else with addiction issues–and food is my drug of choice: unpleasant feelings are a trigger to “use”–to numb out and get the pain to stop. In my last blog post, I wrote about how I didn’t handle my feelings well when I was  hurt because a person I’m close to was verbally unkind, and I felt helpless in the face of it. But “eating over it” didn’t do a thing to make the pain stop–it never does–it just made me feel anxious and upset with myself about that, and honestly, really stupid for listening to The Biggest Liar, my eating disorder, which “tells me” that food is the fix. So in the past week when I encountered disappointments at work that were angering and disappointing, I made a point to stay mindful about how I was going to handle those feelings without food. And today, when I learned that one of my students passed away, once I was on my way home, trying to process the news and thinking about what I would do when I got home–I wanted to search for some poems the student had shared with me so his parents could have them, as I envisioned what I’d do when I get home, I experienced a nudge in my thinking–The Biggest Liar again–but I didn’t entertain it beyond noticing it: “Oh, yes: there’s that automatic thinking again. Bye, now.”

I came home from work and sat in a chair and allowed the sadness to wash over me. I love my students. Every year, it’s like a parent appreciating her children for how amazing and smart and funny they are–I spend more concentrated time with my students throughout a week than their parents may even get to–so it’s devastating to have one of “my kids”–my students–pass away. It’s the peril of working in a profession where relationships are so important: my heart gets broken in some way on a yearly basis, although, thank God, student deaths are a rare thing.

Mostly, I’ve learned to wait, and I count these past months in that waiting. I’ve worked at re-learning eating disorder management, emphasizing “protein and produce” in my food choices, and I’ve begun taking my bariatric vitamins so that I’m in the habit.

Which brings me to a really exciting development: since I began taking the B12 supplement, my migraines, which are triggered, among other things, by exertion, have all but disappeared. I’m on the lowest dose of Gabapentin that I’ve been on since I began taking it: 300 mg, 3 times a day, and I’m going to continue to wean off of it until I’m hopefully completely free of it. I am hopeful that the Botox shots I get every 12 weeks, coupled with the B12, will keep me migraine free. I’ve even been able to work out in 45 minute periods without triggering a migraine. THIS. IS. HUGE.

2018 has so far included a breast cancer scare, the flu and strep, followed immediately by the cold I have right now (I work in what is essentially a petri dish of cooties: a school), Ye Annual Heartbreak from Kids Being Kids, and now the loss of a student. But it’s also included NOT having breast cancer, receiving quick treatment for the flu and strep, the promise of a new start every day, and the ability to be a reliable part of their routine for my students, most of whom have likely never dealt with the loss of a young person. I wish I was going to be there for them tomorrow.

I’m hopeful that the clearance with the nutritionist and surgeon will go smoothly. If it doesn’t–and I think all patients in my position experience the “what if?”–what if the insurance won’t cover it even though I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do? What if the surgeon is concerned about something? What if they can’t or won’t do it over Spring Break?

If that happens, I will do what I always do.
I will Steady On.