In just a few days, my baby sister is undergoing a gastric bypass. That is an enormous step for her. My sister- for the most part- treats her body holistically. Where I have a primary care physician and a rheumatologist who are my main sources of medical treatment- she has a chiropractor. Where I have several weekly drug regimines- she uses supplements to keep her healthy -and rarely even takes an asprin. While I have been fighting RA for four years now, she has battled hip problems since her time in the military which has made exercise difficult for both of us. One challenge that we share is our weight issue. That particular gift comes from our Mom's side.
Mom, unbeknownst to any of us, has lived with a clotting disorder for many years. When it was finally discovered it was traced through her medical problems all the way back to her first miscarriage in 1976. Probably around then her thyroid essentially stopped, causing a large weight gain over the years; in 1992 at 45 she had a heart attack (which is when they discovered her thyroid issue) and a resulting double bypass; a knee replacement and the development of diabetes in her 50's and at 59 she suffered a stroke. She is doing so well today. The only lasting sign of the stroke that is there is that when she is tired, she tends to lose her words- something I can completely relate to with my "RA Brain". It's actually kind of funny. When we are tired and are having a conversation it trails off as we both lose our train of thought and struggle to find the words. We often joke that someone coming upon us at those times would not be able to tell which of us had the stroke. Mom also lives with her weight issues. Through all of her medical struggles- she has been unable to solve that problem. Beginning when she was pregnant with me she began to gain weight and it never left her. Even when she had three under 5 and ran around like crazy after us she could not lose weight. She cooks healthy meals, she takes her medications but for her it will be a life long "thing" she lives with.
If you look at many of the women in her family- they look a lot like me. We are not tall- my baby sister tops us out at 5'6"; we are not slender- I am a size 16 and off the top of my head I can only think of our middle sister and my mom's older sister who are naturally smaller and I would bet they are both lowest double digits. Knowing this- neither the youngest or I aspire to be "skinny". We just want to be healthy in the part of our lives that we can control. We are closing in on 45 (I will be 43 in a couple of months- she will be 39 at the end of the year) and neither of us wants to face the scary things our Mom has triumphed through. For my sister, after a solid year of considering it and working very hard to lose weight naturally, that means a gastric bypass. For me- I bit the bullet the other day and rejoined Weight Watchers. We figured we had struggled together over the years and we could share this journey together as well.
Tomorrow is my first meeting in over 2 years. I am a little nervous because this is all on me. I can do this- I know I can. My first time through WW- I lost 25 lbs in just about 3 months and then started preparing to move to the midwest. This time I am in it for the long haul and will set my goal at 60 total. That should bring me down to a good, healthy weight. It is right in the middle of the suggested weight range for my height. The hard part for me is re-learning how to eat and having the patience to last it out. It's a slightly different program from the first time around so I have to relearn that as well. Fortunatly- I have the support of my husband, my sisters and the rest of my family. They just want us healthy and happy. So this is me- taking control of this part of my life. I may not be able to control my RA; I may not be able to control my Fibro; but I can control my weight- and this is my first step.